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By: Ming Jong Tey

Written By: symsyd - Apr• 13•16

It is essential to start a business with a business mindset. Otherwise, we can’t it a business. We will need to find out our strength and hourly rate and tackle from there. If we can outsource the tasks at a cheaper rate, it is a feasible option from a business point even though we can do it ourselves.

The key is to put the our time into right usage so that we can run a smooth business.

Cheers,
Ming

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A Simple Exercise to Help You Write Effective Sales Copy

Written By: symsyd - Apr• 11•16

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If you’ve got four minutes to spare today, I can help you nail your sales copy.

I recently heard Ed Dale of The Challenge and MagCast speak at a conference on the topic, and I took pages and pages of notes – copywriting, marketing, and sales are the biggest things I’ve struggled with, as I imagine plenty of you do too.

For most, selling doesn’t come easy. Sometimes we can feel sleazy and pushy, or we are so worried about coming across that way that we undersell or don’t do anything at all. Ed talked about how we should flip it around in our head and remind ourselves that we are helping our readers solve a problem, or providing value in their lives.

If you’re selling a quality product (or want to!) and you’re stuck on how to write things that will encourage people to purchase, then you might want to give this exercise a try. As I said earlier, it can take as little as four minutes, but can make a huge impact on your income.

 

I want you to sit down and do today’s copywriting challenge and let me know how you went.

This exercise could also be useful in a whole heap of other places

  • Best place to try this is before you create the product – what are your readers pains and desired gains
  • Thinking about starting a new blog or niche
  • When choosing categories for your blog
  • When creating opt-ins for your blog
  • When brainstorming and deciding what to write about
  • When writing a post – get in touch with the specific need

What do you struggle with? Is it the feeling and emotion attached to selling? Is it the technical side? Is it the writing? Or idea creation?

Further Reading

The post A Simple Exercise to Help You Write Effective Sales Copy appeared first on ProBlogger.

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How to Make Your Blog a Cybersecurity Fortress

Written By: symsyd - Apr• 10•16

photo-1446155822036-0a91268cde82This is a guest contribution from Cassie Phillips.

Problogger is where I learned a lot of my own blogging skills, and I cannot compliment Darren enough for creating a space for bloggers that focuses on real improvement and in-depth conversation. Posts on the website such as this one on improving SEO efforts demonstrate the quality we all hope to achieve.

Many bloggers go into blogging thinking that nothing could happen to their blog and that anything on the internet is, to an extent, removable. They believe that they don’t have to worry too much about security on their blog because no one would ever bother to attack their modest blog. These bloggers are, unfortunately, wrong. Thousands of websites and blogs are attacked every single day, and there is no reason why your blog shouldn’t be a target.

Cybercriminals and hackers want to attack blogs for different reasons, and often the size of your blog doesn’t matter. Depending on what you put on your blog, a skilled hacker can even turn it against you.

These factors necessitate a need for increased cybersecurity across the board, but you as a blogger can acquire every tool and habit needed to protect yourself. Each blog is different, but some strategies are universal and will prove necessary in the years to come.

Here are some of the best ways to make your blog safe from online threats:

Make Good Plugin Decisions

There is a strong likelihood that you use plugins or scripts on your blog to make it more appealing to readers. You might even already use a security plugin such as WP Security Scan or WordFence to protect your blog. It might not be enough, and you should take note of the following so you can use these tools to the best of your ability in the future:

  • Make sure to update your plugins (along with your computer) as often as possible. Cybercriminals will often take advantage of exploits to find a backdoor into your blog. Don’t let hackers take advantage of the window between developer patch and download.
  • Get rid of the plugins that are no longer updating themselves. Chances are you can find a safer alternative that reacts to exploits and new threats.
  • You might need more than one security script or plugin. Check to see what vulnerabilities or other threats your tool fends off. Then, check to see if there are any gaps that can be filled by another tool. Just make sure that any tools you use are compatible with each other.

Use a Virtual Private Network

Public networks are some of the most dangerous places online. There is rarely anything stopping a hacker from sitting down and using a “sniffer” program to monitor all data being sent and received on the network. Anything you work with, even your blog’s login information, will come up on the hacker’s screen with little difficulty. This can easily lead to account and identity theft.

On a similar note, whenever you travel you might not know who could be watching you. You might find yourself on the wrong end of government censorship or surveillance. This can put your blog at risk or disadvantage.

The best way to handle both of these problems is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN is a service that connects your devices to an offsite secure server using an encrypted connection. The encryption will protect your blog’s information on any network allowing you to work as you need to. The fact that you are using a different server means that your IP address will be masked and you will be much more difficult to track. As long as you get a VPN that provides you with many options, you will be able to work safely from anywhere.

Use HTTPS

One of the costlier, yet eventually necessary steps you can take to protect your blog and your readership is to look into HTTPS protection. Depending on your host, you might have it already. You can check by simply navigating to your website and looking for something that looks like a padlock in your address bar. The protocol will add an extra layer of protection to communications involving your website, making it that much harder for hackers to take a peek at what’s going on.

The more active involvement and information you work with on your blog, the more you need this. If you think it is worth the investment (it eventually always is), look into buying and installing an SSL certificate on your blog.

combination-safe

Prepare a Secure Copy of Your Content

No matter what you do, something is going to happen that affects your blog in a negative manner and potentially delete some posts or data. While you should make every effort to prevent this from happening, an effective cybersecurity plan takes into consideration the need for contingency plans. You might need to wipe everything and restore your blog from scratch. If you don’t have your files anywhere but your computer or blog itself, you could find yourself in a nightmare scenario.

This is why you need to make sure everything you do is on a backup. Depending on how much and the type of content you produce, you will want to decide between external storage and using a cloud storage service.

A cloud solution is great if you need to collaborate a lot with other people and want to access files easily from multiple devices, but there are sometimes privacy and security issues that can rear their ugly head. A physical storage solution is perfect if you blog mostly from home and alone. Whatever you pick, make sure that it’s a quality product and remember to use it regularly. A copy is useless unless you update it.

Create Clear Lines of Organization and Separation

When you are managing your blog and protecting it, you need to know where everything is and organize your resources in such a manner that it would be easy to notice should anything go missing or change. Not only is this a great way to passively stay on the lookout for hackers, but it allows you to save time in general in the laitance of your blog. Experiment to find the system that works best for you and your blog, so long as you can keep track of everything.

Another measure you will want to take if you take your blog seriously is to separate your blog from your personal devices and accounts as much as possible. You don’t want to have to deal with multiple crisis at once if your email account gets compromised. If malware infects your personal computer, you don’t want the damage spilling over onto your blogging efforts. Do what you can to separate your blog form the rest of your online life, even if it seems inconvenient at first.

Protect Yourself from Malware

Whether it is directly trying to embed itself into your blog or trying to infect your device to steal data down the line, you need to protect yourself from malware. Here are some tips to help work against this nasty problem and protect your blog in the process:

  • Get a security suite for any device you use. There are no exceptions to this rule, and remember that you generally get what you pay for when it comes to security products.
  • Remember that malware can now infect smartphones and even Apple products as of late. Take the same security precautions on your mobile devices as you do on your computers.
  • Make sure that no commenters on your blog are trying to launch an XSS attack on your blog or linking directly to webpages that spread malware. You need to take care of your readers as best as you can in addition to your own blog.
  • Try to avoid questionable websites or links as best you can. There is rarely a good reason to visit the underbelly of the internet, and most of the main websites online are absolutely safe to use.

Takeaways

That is a lot to remember when you are trying to keep your pride and joy safe from the cybercriminal hordes right on the other side of the screen, so try to remember these key points and take action as soon as you possibly can:

  • Take a look at what plugins and scripts you’re using. Update the outdated ones and make sure you pick tools that are the best you can find.
  • Use a VPN whenever you are working on your blog outside the home or office.
  • See if your website has HTTPS protection. If it doesn’t, look into getting it.
  • Create a secure backup of your website and content. Keep it safe.
  • In all aspects of managing your blog have a clear plan of organization. Try to separate the more professional aspects of your technological life (including your blog) from the personal ones.
  • Make sure neither your blog nor your computer is infested with malware. Find tools to aid you with this.

There are other ways that you can specifically help your particular blog, and you should make every effort to seek them out. Every blog is different; therefore, you will have different security priorities than the blog next door. Remember that the internet is a dynamic platform and that today’s security measures won’t be enough to protect you from the threats of tomorrow. Stay vigilant so you can spend more time on making your blog rise to new heights.

Do you have any additional thoughts on the subject? Are you worried about the security of your blog and that what you are doing now isn’t enough? Do you feel as though there are other things that bloggers can do to protect themselves? If so, please leave a comment below to continue this important conversation that affects every single blogger.

Cassie Phillips is a blogger and cybersecurity writer who has been dedicated to helping fellow bloggers improve their cybersecurity for years.

The post How to Make Your Blog a Cybersecurity Fortress appeared first on ProBlogger.

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4 Of My Most Viewed Blog Posts This Month and Why They Worked

Written By: symsyd - Apr• 08•16

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Sometimes it’s worth taking a look back over you recent posts, weeding out the ones that have done well, and going over them for a brief review.

I do this quite regularly to keep tabs on what our readers are responding to, and if there are ways I can expand or reuse the post for further content. It also helps give me ideas for what else we can provide, and also to see if we can replicate the success these posts have seen, on other posts.

This episode of the ProBlogger podcast is also in response to a reader question – Matthew asked if I could choose a few of the posts that have been well-received lately and dissect them as small case studies.

4 of My Most Viewed Blog Posts This Month and Why They Worked

In the last month, the four posts I chose to discuss have all been in the top 20 on Digital Photography School. For each I’ll explain what makes each post shareworthy, what type of content it is, what reader hooks have been employed, what kind of writing style was used, and which things can be easily used for other content types (i.e. not just photography blogs).

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my summary of why they worked? What jumps out at you?

I’d also love to hear about a recent popular post of yours: what was it, and what made it so successful? Feel free to put a link in the comments below.

I have also set up a widget over on ProBlogger.com where you can leave me a voicemail message with any question you have – we may use it for an upcoming episode.

 

The post 4 Of My Most Viewed Blog Posts This Month and Why They Worked appeared first on ProBlogger.

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Warning: Are You Making These 8 Traffic-Killing Mistakes?

Written By: symsyd - Apr• 08•16

Warning: Are you making these 8 traffic-killing mistakes on your blog?

This is a guest contribution from Ali Luke.

Are you unintentionally sabotaging your blog’s chances of success?

It can be really tough just to keep your head above water when you’re blogging. There’s so much great advice out there – and so many things you could be doing.

It’s also easy to get things wrong. That’s a perfectly natural part of learning, and one that every blogger goes through. (I cringe to look back at my earlier, now abandoned, blogs.)

It takes time to build a successful blog. But you don’t want to end up taking years longer than you need to.

What not to do on your blog

Here are eight critical mistakes you need to avoid:

Mistake #1: Posting at Very Irregular Intervals

Do you go through phases of posting daily … only to exhaust yourself and run out of ideas after a couple of weeks?

This is frustrating for readers. They never get to know what to expect from you. One minute, they’re being overwhelmed with hastily written content – the next, you seem to have disappeared.

There’s no rule about how often you should post. Some successful blogs have daily posts, or even multiple posts per day. Others publish once a week (like Boost Blog Traffic) or even less. What matters is that you’re consistent.

I’ll admit that, after the best part of a decade blogging, I’ve been through a rather patchy spell of posting over the past three years. (I do have two very good reasons why. They’re small, cute, noisy, and have a tendency to wake me up in the middle of the night.)

Fix it:

If you also have or are about to have very young children, consider taking some time away from your blog. Let readers know that you’ll be gone for a few weeks or months. This gives you a breathing space to focus on family life – and to build up a stock of blog posts for once you start blogging again.

Mistake #2: Having a Broken or Amateur Design

When you’re taking your first steps into blogging, you may well use whatever default design comes with your blog platform of choice, or a free one that you like.

As you start to grow your blog, though, remember that the way your blog looks will affect whether or not readers trust you – and your content. You may well be a fantastic writer, but if your posts are hard to read and your blog design looks sloppy (or doesn’t even work properly) then readers won’t stick around.

As Darren puts it:

The way your blog looks, what it makes people feel, what it calls people to do is vital, and it has a huge impact on your blog and how it’s seen.

Chances are, you’re not a photographer or designer. It’s worth saving up so you can get some professional design work done – and as your blog grows even bigger, you might want to consider a professional photo shoot.

Fix it:

Some of the key areas where blog design goes wrong are:

Sidebars: get rid of any widgets that aren’t pulling their weight, and fix any that are broken or look weird. See Mistake #7 for more on this.

Font types and sizes: I’m no expert here, but I’ve learned to avoid Times New Roman, Comic Sans, and Papyrus (thanks, designer pals!) and to make sure the font size is large enough for comfortable reading.

Headers / logos / banners: if you pay for one thing, make it this. You might be able to do a trade or find a talented friend to help (my fantastic sister created my blog’s new header, in return from the Game of Thrones season 5 box set).

Mistake #3: Forgetting About New Readers

We spend a lot of time trying to get new readers, but at the same time, we tend to forget to help them find their way around.

New readers will want to know:

What your blog is all about – a tagline in your header can help a lot here.

Who you are – make sure you have an About page, and consider an About widget in your sidebar.

Where to find you on social media – include this somewhere prominent.

How to find their way around your blog – a “Start Here” or “New Here?” page is really handy.

There are other, subtler ways to make sure you include new readers. For instance, include links in newer posts to older ones where relevant, especially if you want to cue readers into something that’s been a long-term project (like a series of posts, or a book-in-progress).

If someone leaves a comment for the first time, welcome them to your blog! (Many people will say something like “this is my first time commenting…” or “I’ve just found your great blog…”.)  You might even want to drop them an email to thank them for commenting.

Fix it:

Imagine you’re coming to your blog for the first time: open it up in your browser. Is it clear who the blog is for? Can you easily find pages like “About” and “Contact”? If possible, get a friend who’s not familiar with your blog to take a look and give you their first impressions – and tell them not to hold back.

Make a list of things you want to change, e.g.:

Update the About page – and keep it up to date.

Create a “Start Here” page that links to my most popular posts.

Make an easy-to-use archive.

Schedule some time to get these done, during the next few weeks.

Mistake #4: Not Having an Email Newsletter

I launched my email newsletter early on in my blogging life – but I see plenty of bloggers kicking themselves for not starting theirs sooner.

There are plenty of reasons why you might not have set up an email newsletter yet. The most common ones are “It will cost too much,” “I don’t know how” and “I don’t know what to write about.”

While some email services are pricy, you can get started with MailChimp for free – and AWeber is $19/month at its most basic level.

Just as with learning to blog, learning the ins and outs of email newsletters takes a bit of time – but both MailChimp and AWeber take you step-by-step through what you need to do to get your email list set up. There are also tons of written and video tutorials that can help you.

In terms of content, you can simply send out your blog posts by email (as Michael Hyatt does) or a teaser with a link to your blog post (as Jon Morrow does). Or, if you prefer, you can write content that’s exclusively for your newsletter subscribers (as K.M. Weiland does). You’ll also have the flexibility to send out other emails (e.g. promoting a product or service).

Fix it:

If you haven’t yet set up an email newsletter, make this a priority. Select a service (MailChimp and AWeber are both popular and reasonably similar in how they work) and place the sign-up form prominently in your sidebar.

You might also want to create a landing page where readers can find out more about your newsletter, and sign up – this gives you a chance to “sell” them on your newsletter.

Mistake #5: Not Offering a Sign-Up Incentive

I made this mistake for ages after launching my blog. I figured that my newsletter itself should be the incentive: I didn’t want people signing up just to get a freebie.

However, people often need do an incentive to hand over their email address – and something like a free ebook, ecourse, checklist, cheat sheet, or video can really help.

Once I started offering free mini-ebooks, sign-ups quickly increased – but my open rate and response rate didn’t drop much. My new readers were still engaged with the newsletter.

A sign-up incentive also gives you a great way to promote your email newsletter elsewhere – such as in the bio of your guest posts on other blogs. “Join my newsletter list here and get exclusive writing tips to your inbox” might get you a few people, but not as many as, “Get my free mini-ebook Time to Write when you join my newsletter list here.”

Fix it:

Brainstorm some ideas for your sign-up incentive. Keep it short and simple – an entire book might seem really generous, but it will take you forever to write, and people may not even bother reading it.

A checklist, mini-ebook, short guide, worksheet, or similar can work just fine. You could even create a bunch of different incentives to use as “content upgrades” on relevant blog posts.

Mistake #6: Forgetting to Include Calls to Action

During my years in the blogging world, I’ve reviewed a lot of blog posts for a lot of different bloggers. The most consistent mistake I see is people leaving off the end of their blog post entirely. They don’t have any conclusion – or, if they do, it doesn’t contain a call to action.

A “call to action” is simply you asking your reader to do something. You might invite them to leave a comment, share your post, move on to read another post … or even buy one of your products.

Some bloggers worry that this could come across as a bit needy or pushy, but in reality, readers will often welcome a bit of direction. For instance, they might want to comment but not know what to write: if you ask a specific question, this makes it easier for them to engage.

Fix it:

Every time you write a post, ask yourself “what do I want readers to do after reading this post?” You might even want to consider this when you’re planning the post, as ideally, the call to action should follow on logically from the rest of the piece.

You could also go back to older posts and check that they end with a clear call to action. Those posts will still get read – by people coming from search engines and by people digging into your blog’s archives or following links from other posts.

Mistake #7: Having a Cluttered Sidebar

Even blogs with gorgeous designs can end up with cluttered sidebars, over time. You begin with a bunch of widgets that (initially) make sense, and occasionally, you decide you need to add in something new.

The end result looks incredibly cluttered: new stuff keeps getting added, but old stuff never gets taken down. Worse still, some widgets may become outdated and stop working altogether.

This doesn’t do anything to add to the visual appeal of your blog … and irrelevant widgets will distract readers from the actions that you actually want them to take.

Fix it:

Go through every widget on your sidebar and ask yourself whether you really want it. Some good culprits for removal are:

The WordPress meta widget – this comes installed by default: remove it! Having it in your sidebar marks you out as an amateur, and could confuse readers. If you have it there so readers can get the RSS link for your blog, make a separate widget just for that link and make it much more prominent.

A tag cloud – fiddly to use and with a tendency to look messy. Thankfully, these seem to have gone out of fashion over the past few years.

A calendar of posts – also fiddly to use. (These tend to show the days of the current month, with hyperlinked numbers for days when you posted.) If you’ve ended up writing few / no posts recently, it makes that more obvious to your readers than you might like.

A list of categories – OK if you have a smallish, sensible set of categories; less useful if you have a huge number of old ones that have a couple of posts each in them.

Mistake #8: Over-Promising in Your Blog Post Titles

While I’m a huge fan of writing compelling titles for your posts, I’m not a fan of posts that have hyped-up titles or that are “clickbait”.

If I come across a post titled “The Ultimate Guide to Guest Posting: A Huge Round-Up of Expert Advice and Links”, I’m obviously going to be a bit disappointed if it’s a basic list of tips by someone who appears not to have ever written a guest post in their life, with a couple of quotes from posts by their friends, and a handful of affiliate links to dubious-looking products.

I’m sure you’re not going that far with hype vs reality in your titles and posts, but do make sure that you’re living up to the promises that you make.

Fix it:

Spend longer on your posts, if you can: it’s normally better to post one really good piece every week than to rush out three or four half-hearted ones.

When you’re coming up with a title, keep an eye on your adjectives. By all means use them, but make sure they’re not going to give the wrong impression. If you’ve written a short, basic post for beginners, “Ten Simple Tips…” will reflect the content better than “Blogging Secrets Revealed: Ten Little-Known Tips…”

Of course, all bloggers make mistakes. It’s the only way to learn. What matters is that you do keep learning – that you take an occasional step back to look at what you’re doing with your blog, and to adjust course or make tweaks where necessary.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in your blogging – or the most common mistake you see other bloggers making? Share it with us in the comments!

Ali Luke (@aliventures) blogs about the art, craft and business of writing at Aliventures. If you’re struggling to put together great content for your blog, or if you want to experiment with some different post types, check out her easy-to-use structures in Six Straightforward Ways to Structure Your Blog Posts

The post Warning: Are You Making These 8 Traffic-Killing Mistakes? appeared first on ProBlogger.

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How to Create a Bridge Business That Will Take You From Now to Your Dream Job

Written By: symsyd - Apr• 05•16

Bridge Business

This is a guest contribution from Bryanna Royal.

You spend every day going to your 9 to 5 job, but you know there’s something more out there for you. Maybe it’s starting a travel blog, a lifestyle blog, a food blog. Whatever it may be, you know it isn’t the 9 to 5 you’re at currently.

When I was in my corporate job, I quickly learned that a cubicle was not where I wanted to be. I wanted to be in control of my own time. I hated that I had to be at the office even after my work was completed just because I hadn’t reached my 8 hours for the day.

Here’s your answer: start a Bridge Business. A Bridge Business is a business you start while still at your 9 to 5 to help you bridge between leaving there and starting your dream job.

You may ask: “why don’t I just start my dream job right away? Why do the bridge business at all?”

The reality is most dream jobs – especially blogs – take a lot of time to get started and get to the level where they can be your full-time income.

That’s why the Bridge Business is so key. It’s a business you can start in 30 days and quickly begin to see an income.

Sounds pretty good, right?! Seriously, it’s possible. I am proof it works. I started my Virtual Assistant business in September 2014 and less then a year later, in August 2015, my husband was able to put his notice in at his 9 to 5.

At the time I had no experience as a Virtual Assistant, but I knew that it was a great fit for me, my family, our full-time travel lifestyle, and our Dream Business – our Travel Blog. It meant I could do everything virtually, set my own hours, and work whenever and wherever I wanted.

How to Earn Money While You Get Your Dream Job off The Ground

Here are the steps to get your Bridge Business started:

Step 1: Choose Your Business

There really are a lot of opportunities out there. A Virtual Assistant business is a great option since there are so many different things that a VA can do.

Here is a link to 68 different jobs that a Virtual Assistant can do . However, it does not need to be limited to this list or any list. The door is wide open on tasks a VA can do. 

Here are some other ways to determine what you can do as a VA:

  • Think through the skills that you currently have.
  • What do you currently do at your 9 to 5?
  • What tasks do you enjoy doing?
  • Do you know someone who owns a small business? Ask them what type of work they need help with.
  • Research your dream business and figure out what skills you will want to have to make it successful and start to learn those so you can offer them as a solution through your bridge business.

Now take all of these things and evaluate them. Write them down and compare them. Do the Pros and Cons, and then make a decision. This can be a business blocker, so know that at some point you have to make a decision and go with it. You can always change it. My business ebbed and flowed and is still changing. But had I not started, it never would be where it is now.

As we built our Virtual Assistant business we also continued to focus on our Dream Business – our Travel Blog. The solutions I am offering for my Virtual Assistant business, where my clients are paying me, are helping me learn new skills and become an expert in these skills/solutions. These same skills/solutions are helpful for growing our Travel Blog. So be sure to keep that in mind as you work through the solutions you will offer.

Related: 44 Things Bloggers Should Be Delegating to Virtual Staff to Catapult Their Online Growth

Step 2: Business Startup

Now that you know the solutions that you want to provide, the next steps are:

1. Name your business.

I recommend making sure that the name you choose is one that could easily be sold to someone else someday. This seems far in the future, but it is definitely something to keep in mind as you grow your business, leave your 9 to 5 and begin to build your Dream Business.

Hopefully, there will be a time when you are ready to transition totally to your Dream Business, and at that time you may want to sell your Bridge Business. To keep this as a viable option, you may not want to use your name for your business. Instead, come up with something universal, which could easily be transitioned to someone else if they bought it from you.

Our business is called Virtual Powerhouse. It is a virtual business and we are helping our clients become an online powerhouse. So it works.

2. Define your solutions.

A website would be great, but you don’t need one. A PDF document will work fine when you are getting started. Use a tool like Canva and create a PDF that explains the solutions you are going to provide. If you want, you can include pricing – but I don’t think it’s necessary in the beginning.

3. Payment

Set up a system like Paypal, where you can easily create and send invoices to your clients. Again, nothing major, just keep it simple in the beginning.

Step 3: Finding Clients

All right, you have the business name and the solutions you will provide. Now it is time to find your clients.

My first client was a friend’s husband who has a small business. My friend said he was interested, so we set up a phone call to talk through the solutions I could provide.

I had talked to another friend before this who was not interested. So be prepared that not everyone will say yes. Have a list of people ready to go.

Here is a great way to start your list of people to reach out to:

  • Think of 10 friends.
  • Think of 10 acquaintances.
  • Think of 10 parents of your kids’ friends. If you don’t have kids, then think of 10 parents of your friends.
  • Think of 10 neighbors or colleagues.
  • Think of 10 services you use: hair dresser, accountant, insurance agent, etc.

You now have 50 people you can reach out to who may be interested in the solutions you provide. Be prepared to hear NO more then once. But that is OK, each no you get is one step closer to a yes.

Another option is to search out clients that are in your Dream Job niche. You’ll get to build some amazing relationships and see behind the scenes of the business you hope to have some day, while making money.

Step 4: How to Approach your First Client

When I started, I offered a month of my services free for my first client. This was helpful for 2 reasons. 1 – working without the pressure of being paid allowed me more room to figure out what I was doing. 2 – it helped my client feel comfortable with my work before he started paying me (since he knew he was my first client!).

If you go this route, be VERY upfront with your client that it’s only free for the first month. Then present them with your pricing well before the end of the month so they can decide if they want to stay with you and pay.

It worked out well for me. That first client is still a client today and has also sent many referrals my way.

This isn’t an easy road to travel. Clients and money don’t just fall into your lap. But if you are willing to put the time in, do great work and build relationships, your referrals alone will help you take your business to that next level.

There you go! You have your business, your business name, your list of potential clients, and your first client!

Okay, it really isn’t that easy. Then again, if you stay focused on your end goal and keep making decisions to move your business forward, maybe it is.

There will be a lot of business blockers that pop up and the best way to get through them is to evaluate your options – then make a decision – within a day. Don’t give yourself too much time to dwell on it. Instead, make a choice and know you can always adjust and change as you go. This is YOUR business so the decisions are yours.

It has been a stressful road of ups and downs and not knowing what I was doing. But, I kept moving forward and making progress, and all of those things that felt so far out of my comfort zone in the beginning became easier and more comfortable!

The first step in making your dream a reality is starting. So go for it!

Bryanna, her husband Craig, their 4 kids and 2 dogs sold their house, everything in it, and bought an RV and are now traveling around the US. They maintain their lifestyle through their virtual assistant business Virtual Powerhouse and their blog Crazy Family Adventure. Their goal is to inspire families to start their own online businesses and get out and travel more! When they aren’t out hiking to the top of mountains you can find them on the beach or at the local donut shop searching for the best donut in the US! They post daily at: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat and YouTube. You can learn more about their Bridge Business Coaching and Course here.

The post How to Create a Bridge Business That Will Take You From Now to Your Dream Job appeared first on ProBlogger.

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How to Blog Smart – 9 Areas to Think Strategically About in Your Blogging

Written By: symsyd - Apr• 04•16

ProBlogger_Episode_103-1024x576

In the last episode of the ProBlogger podcast, I talked about how to blog with heart – but I also mentioned that merging those efforts with strategic blogging is a better combination for success.

In today’s episode, I discuss the second half of that idea: blog strategies.

These topics were in response to two bloggers I chatted with recently who weren’t seeing the results they wanted with their blog, because both only focused on one half of this equation. Unfortunately, neither approach tends to work alone – you need to blog with heart and have a strategy for success.

If you haven’t caught up on the previous podcast on five ways to add more heart to your posts, then make sure you do – these tips really do work in conjunction with each other.

Today’s episode focuses on 9 ways to be strategic with your blogging, from setting goals and canvassing your audience to thoughts about your online brand, editorial calendar, and treating your blog like a business.

If you write beautiful, heartfelt stories, but nobody is reading them, then you’ll find these tips will help.

Further Reading:

The post How to Blog Smart – 9 Areas to Think Strategically About in Your Blogging appeared first on ProBlogger.

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5 Ways to Be Comfortable on Camera So You Can Make More Money with Your Blog

Written By: symsyd - Apr• 04•16

This is a guest contribution from Nathan Agin.

Sometimes you’re just terrified.

It’s not a matter of passion or knowledge—you have written plenty on your blog in the past, and people can’t shut you up once you get started.

But now, you’re face-to-face with the camera, and you just freeze up. Nothing happens. You don’t feel comfortable, you don’t like it, and there’s no “magic.”

You know video can be a powerful tool for your blog, and you want to use it for your about page, opt-ins, and posts.

Video has been shown over and over and over again to convert so much better than static pages—which means more subscribers, more sales, and more money.

For example, here are two versions of my home page. Which one is more engaging?

The first is the opt-in offer with just a static image:

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 10.09.30 am

The second is one with a video (and optimized thumbnail):

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 10.11.15 am

You’d probably at least *watch* the video, right?

The one with video converts better because it creates a connection with the visitor, piques their interest, and offers a solution.

Unfortunately, being on camera just hasn’t been working for you.

This happens to the best of us—anyone that is “good” on camera started exactly where you are.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 10.12.13 am

Jacob Sokol of Sensophy (above) and Lydia Lee of Screw the Cubicle (below) use video on their home page because it’s such a powerful way to connect and grab the attention of your reader.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 10.13.37 am

I’m sure none of them were perfect when they began, and they probably all had (or continue to have) some kind of fear doing this.

Remember how Gary Vaynerchuck did about 500 episodes of Wine Library TV? He wasn’t as great on the first as the 500th.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 10.18.38 am

Now, it’s totally normal to be scared, to be uncomfortable, and for it to feel weird.

And, we can change that.

How to Be Comfortable on Camera

Today, I’m going to show you how to become more comfortable and sound more professional on camera—even if you’ve never been on video once!

Stick around to the end of the article: I’ve put together a resource to help you immediately start getting rid of your stress on-camera.

Why are we uncomfortable?

To begin, it is totally unnatural to look at and talk to a camera. So, if you’re feeling like it’s weird, that’s because it is.

It’s not the society we live in, and it’s not how we connect.

We are verbal creatures and we connect with other sentient beings: other humans, dogs, cats, birds, whatever.

Why? Because all of those things have their own life going on, and that’s the part that attracts us. Cameras don’t have that life; they are not “alive.”

Where does the fear come from?

What does it mean, anyway, to be afraid of being on camera?

Most likely, there’s a fear of rejection: the fear that you’re going to put something out and people are going to say “no, we don’t want that.”

Whether it’s a rant, your opinion of something, or an offer you have, you are being vulnerable and it’s a scary place to hang out, because there’s uncertainty.

Or, there’s the fear of judgment: the fear that people will call you names, judge your appearance, your message, or your culture.

No one enjoys feeling rejected or being judged; sadly, it’s a bit of a reality online, especially since people can be a bit more anonymous. If everyone were forced to say their comments in person (or at the very least, on video), I believe it’d be a nicer place out there.

Video feels much more personal—because it is. There’s nothing to hide behind. It’s easier to write a blog post because you can hide a bit behind the words—and you can also keep polishing until you get it exactly right.

With video, while you can craft a perfect script, it’s hard to memorize that and sound completely natural, like you’re talking to a friend.

So as I mentioned, there exists this uncertainty about how it will all go, how it will sound, and how it will be received.

Get comfortable and sound like a pro

So, we need to transform our weird relationship with this camera and create a better one.

I have an entire video series on how to relax on camera that you can access at the end of the article, but here are some of the highlights

1. Breathe

Yes, it may sound obvious—but it isn’t!

So often, when we get nervous, we forget to breathe and to relax the tension in our bodies.

You can take a few deep breaths before you shoot to calm yourself and to focus your mind; then, when you’re on camera, continue breathing—you can always edit it out later if necessary.

2. See your friend

When you’re talking to the camera lens, imagine that you’re talking to a good friend.

At this point, it doesn’t matter if the friend you’re thinking of actually needs the info you’re sharing; in your mind, you think they do, and so they are the perfect person to listen to what you have to say.

The camera lens = your friend’s eyes. Ultimately, you’ll want to just appreciate and enjoy the camera lens, but imagining your friend’s eyes is the next best thing.

3. Have fun

The more YOU enjoy what you’re doing and talking about, the more the rest of US will enjoy watching it.

It’s a simple equation. Passion IN = Passion OUT. If you don’t infuse what you’re doing with your personality and enthusiasm, then why would we be excited or intrigued watching?

Figure out the angle to take that really lights you up, and film that!

4. Warm up your instrument

Theatre actors do lots of physical and vocal warm-ups before shows for a reason: they need to get their body ready to do the work.

Same thing with you: find ways to stretch out your body and make it loose so that you’re not overcome with tension while filming.

Go through vocal scales to warm up the full register of your voice. Explore the musicality of how you sound. Find your vocal resonance and speak from that place!

5. Trust your voice

You may also be hung up on how you look or sound.

Get over it.

Ira Glass (of This American Life) has said he sounds whiny. We don’t all need to have perfect BBC radio voices or sound like James Earl Jones (aka Darth Vader).

Do you. Plenty of people will respond to you *exactly* because of how you look and sound.

Now it’s your turn

Time to get on camera!

Keep your videos to 1-2 minutes to begin. That’s all you need, and that’s all people have time for.

Building your blog is based on trust and credibility. For someone to enter into a transaction with you (even an opt-in), requires a bit of risk and trust.

You can put visitors at ease, establish credibility, and build trust by creating a video that shows who you are, what you’re doing, and what you have to offer.

For example, here’s the video I created for Videos in One Take:

Remember: the camera is your best friend: it has no judgment, it truly wants to hear everything you have to say, and it will never lie to you.

Trust it completely.

Now, take 15 minutes, plan what you’re going to say, and go shoot your video!

I’m not kidding. That’s all the time you really need. Don’t overthink this. Don’t go crazy. Just get personal, have fun, and let people know how you can help them.

Need more help? Here are a couple bonuses to guide you along.

First, I’ve put together a video series to help you reduce your stress on camera.

Second, one person reading this will get a one-on-one mentoring session with me . I’ll help you personally implement this plan.

Sound good?

To get all of this, enter the the bonus section by signing up here.

Nathan Agin is the founder of Videos in One Take, which helps entrepreneurs become more powerful and captivating in their videos (opt-in, sales, about, blog), leading to more engagement and conversions. Nathan has appeared in feature films, a Super Bowl commercial, and on Jimmy Kimmel Live; he also produced and hosted a TV-quality travel/food pilot. He’s a classically trained actor and has created over 400 YouTube videos; on his Videos in One Take blog, he explains how he does it.

The post 5 Ways to Be Comfortable on Camera So You Can Make More Money with Your Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

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Everything Bloggers Need to Consider for Their April Content Calendar

Written By: symsyd - Mar• 30•16

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This is a guest contribution from Jennifer Johnson.

Creating amazing content for your blog or social media accounts is only half the battle – the other half is making sure people see the content. And a major factor of that is timeliness.

Timeliness represents a key characteristic of what engages readers. If you publish content when it’s culturally relevant, you’ll have significantly increased your odds of attracting readers’ attention because your content will be topical.

Luckily for bloggers, there are several significant cultural events throughout the year that are worth leveraging. But make sure you’re creating and posting your content at the best times so you can optimize your efforts.

April Content

Here at Alexa, we recently launched a comprehensive editorial calendar to help strategize when to start developing different kinds of content, when to publish, and when to promote. Although we’ve outlined schedules for every month of the year, we’ll focus on the types of content you should work on in April.

March Madness

March Madness is in full swing in the US, and the first week of April is still an optimal time to be publishing blog posts related to this event. From the heated office rivalries over brackets to the actual action on the court, there are many opportunities to connect with your readers. And you can do so even if your audience isn’t particularly sports-minded.

Some angles for a blog on March Madness in April include the following:

  • A recap of the best moments from the March Madness tournament
  • A “reaction”-type post with a list of the best or funniest fan-reaction tweets
  • An analysis of the best players and the worst
  • A create-your-own bracket competition, like BuzzFeed’s “90s March Madness” reader poll

Mother’s Day

In April, it’s time to start producing any infographics or other highly visual content for Mother’s Day as well as their accompanying posts. Visual content is particularly important for this occasion because the social networks with the highest average Mother’s Day shares are Facebook and Pinterest: two image-heavy platforms.

Mother’s Day is a crucial shopping holiday as well. If your blog has anything to do with retail, don’t miss out on this opportunity to create timely content for this month as well as May. But there are more possibilities out there than just the typical buying guides. Consider the following angles:

  • Unique ways to celebrate the holiday
  • Recognition or exploration of noteworthy mothers
  • How motherhood has changed over the years
  • Emotionally resonant stories about family

Once you’ve decided what topic you’ll pursue, think about whether an infographic, video, slideshow, photo essay, or other visual content type will best suit the voice of your blog. Then, get started on your posts. The best time to publish and promote Mother’s Day content starts on April 18 and runs through May 10.

Graduation

Graduation is right around the corner, for many families –  capitalize on this exciting time by creating content related to this special day. April is an optimal time to start thinking about graduation topics, whether they’re related to grade school, high school, or college. Creating more involved pieces, such as infographics, require more lead time. Aim for early-April production dates.

Graduation is a highly talked–about topic. Bloggers can take so many different angles, including:

  • General education
  • The state of the job market
  • The confidence of new graduates
  • Emotionally resonant graduation stories
  • Graduation rituals or fun things to do with your children to mark the milestone
  • Graduation gifts

Whether your audience is interested in education, the job market, the U.S. economy, the millennial generation, or any other relevant graduation-related topics, April is the time to start brainstorming the content they’ll find valuable and beginning to produce it.

Father’s Day

Similar to Mother’s Day, this emotionally rich holiday offers another way to connect with your audience. This US June event may seem far away, but it’s still key to begin your more laborious material (e.g., videos, interactives, and infographics) in the month of April.

Visual content is essential for this holiday; Facebook and Pinterest garner the most social shares for its related content. Some ideas for blog posts and content for 2016:

  • Best Father’s Day brunch recipes
  • Shopping guide for gifts he’ll love
  • Emotional stories tied to fathers – similar to this compilation of the best soldier homecoming videos
  • Throwback photos of famous dads

Memorial Day and Fourth of July

To start summer with a bang, begin any production-intensive content about Memorial Day and the Fourth of July in April. As the weather heats up, readers will take to their backyards and celebrate these hot-weather holidays with friends and family.

Cuisine is an extremely general topic to connect with your audience on – even if they aren’t foodies. You can also leverage posts on the history of these holidays, how our traditions have evolved, and more. Sink your teeth into these ideas:

  • Tasty barbecue ideas for the best cookout ever
  • Fun facts about the origins of these patriotic holidays
  • Why we should give thanks to our servicemen and women
  • Community posts: Ask your readers, “What do these holidays mean to you?”

March is winding down, and a new month (and content cycle) is set to begin. Take time to ensure your editorial calendar is optimized to include seasonal events. What are the big events celebrated in your country? Perhaps you would like to do a run of posts on the topic of Passover, something special to commemorate ANZAC Day, or some May Day celebration ideas?

Your content should engage your audience with the right message, at the right time. You’ll thank yourself later when you reap the rewards and avoid the time crunch that comes with seasonal content creation.

Jennifer Johnson is Marketing Coordinator at Alexa. With a knack for syntax and passion for building connections, she drives daily content strategy to bring you the latest and greatest happenings within Alexa and the wide world of web analytics and marketing.

The post Everything Bloggers Need to Consider for Their April Content Calendar appeared first on ProBlogger.

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How to Start a Blog in 5 Steps

Written By: symsyd - Mar• 29•16

how to start a blog 5 stepsIn this post I want to walk you through the basics of how to start a blog, and while I do, I want to answer some of the basic technical questions that many pre-bloggers need to answer to get their first blog up and running.

There are many reasons to start blogging, but the challenge that faces all aspiring bloggers (including me back in 2002) is: how to start a blog?

How to Start a Blog

In general there are a few simple steps that you will need to complete to start your blog:

  1. Choose your blogging platform
  2. Secure a domain name and get hosting in place
  3. Configure your blog
  4. Design your blog
  5. Start creating useful content that serves readers

Below I’ll walk you through how I’d approach each step and then suggest some further reading that will be helpful on other important questions like: choosing a niche, finding readers for your blog, building community with your blog, and thinking about how to make money from it, etc.

Step 1: Choose a Blogging Platform

To start a blog you’ll need to select a blogging platform – or a tool that helps you to get your content up onto the web.

There are many blogging platforms available but in my mind the choice is clear and simple. I would set up straight away on a WordPress.org site, and I highly recommend you do too.

WordPress is by far the most popular blogging platform and for good reason –

  • It is free to use
  • It is easy to set up
  • It has been around for many years and is a robust and secure system (although you do need to keep it up-to-date to maintain security)
  • It has a whole industry of tool providers, designers and developers around it that will help you to customise your blog in many ways

Keep in mind that WordPress offer two tools:

  1. WordPress.com – where they host your blog, look after the back end, and give you access to have it on their own domain. It’s free to start but, you pay to upgrade different elements of it.
  2. WordPress.org – where you have complete control and host the blog on your own server, your own domain and have complete control over how it looks, operates and how you can monetise it. It is completely free to use but you need to arrange your own hosting, domain etc.

WordPress.com is easier to set up and means you don’t need to keep upgrading versions of WordPress but it gives you less control over your design, how you monetise and what features you can add. WordPress.com is free to start with but depending upon what upgrades you want to get it can end up being just as expensive as WordPress.org.

My recommendation is to go with WordPress.org – you’ll have a little more work in the setting up phase (I’ll walk you through it below) but in the long run you’ll have full control over the look, feel, features and monetization of your site. It could end up cheaper for you too!

Step 2: Secure a Domain Name and Get Hosting in Place

Next you’ll need a domain name (your blog’s address) so that you have a home for your blog online. Here on ProBlogger my domain name is www.problogger.com – every blog needs its own domain, so it can be easier said than done to find one that isn’t taken!

For the sake of this article I just want to talk about how to technically get your domain – but there are a few other factors to consider including:

  • The Human perspective – readability of your domain, the ease of it to say and remember, etc
  • The Brand perspective – uniqueness, what the domain says about you
  • The SEO perspective – choosing a domain with good keywords can help your site rank higher in Google
  • The Legal perspective – copyright and trademark factors

We cover all four of these areas in our post 4 Things to Consider when Choosing Your Domain Name. I would highly recommend reading that post before you go out and grab a domain.

Depending upon where you get your domain and which domain you choose, a domain isn’t a super-expensive thing to secure – but it will cost you at least a few dollars a year.

Perhaps the simplest way to get your domain is to do so with the same place that you get your blog hosted. My recommendation for a good place to start is BlueHost (aff). It is the most common hosting among my readers and is both affordable and is as reliable a solution as you’re likely to find at this price point.

The other great thing about Bluehost is that they offer 1-click installation of WordPress.org and have specially optimised hosting for WordPress blogs.

As I write this article, Bluehost have an offer to get set up for just $3.95 USD per month (including your domain name).

An alternative to check out – the other hosting service that I’m hearing great things about lately from many ProBlogger readers is inmotion hosting (aff). They also offer a free domain when you sign up with them and have a very simple to use install option for WordPress.

Note: we use WebSynthesis for our blog hosting. It’s an amazing service but is not cheap but is great for a blog with significant traffic. While I do recommend it for heavy traffic blogs it would probably be overkill if you’re just starting out – as a result I recommend Bluehost which is a host I’ve used in the early days of blogs that I’ve started in the past, and am confident about inmotion also based upon the recommendation of trusted friends who swear by them.

Step 3: Set Up Your Blog

If you’ve gone with Bluehost as your domain and hosting provider, installing WordPress is super simple. In fact Bluehost have created a simple video to show you exactly how to do it:

If you have any trouble during this process, they have a live chat support system which enables you to ask questions of their support team.

Note: other hosts including inmotion have similar simple install systems for WordPress but if you run into trouble WordPress have an installing WordPress page too here.

Once you’ve completed this process, you now have a WordPress blog installed! Congratulations – you’re almost there!

Step 4: Configure and Design Your Blog

If this is your first experience of WordPress you might be looking at the dashboard and wondering what you’ve done by installing it – it feels overwhelming doesn’t it!

Don’t worry – you’ll pick this up in no time and just need a good walk through!

Configuring your blog

Luckily the team at Bluehost have put together a great series of tutorials that will help you with becoming used to WordPress and also setting things up to make your blog look and operate just right.

Here’s a good video that introduces you to what you’re looking at on your WordPress dashboard.

And here is another on creating categories and tags for your blog:

One of the most powerful things in WordPress is that it allows you to install and use plugins to get extra functionality on your blog. You might want to save this one to watch later but it will help with making your blog more feature rich.

Designing your blog

Another thing you’ll want to do now is to think about your blog’s design. First impressions count for a lot so you’ll want one that says something about the type of brand you’re trying to create and that helps you stand out in the crowded blogosphere.

Bluehost have a video that shows you the basics of setting up and choosing a design theme but can I echo the advice in the video about investing in a ‘premium theme’ for your blog.

While there are many thousands of free themes out there, this is an area that it can be well worth investing in.

Last time we surveyed ProBlogger readers, we found that most ProBlogger readers agree with this, and have premium themes as the basis of their blog designs. While they will cost you to buy, if you get one from a reputable source they’ll be secure, fast, have good search engine optimisation, will be designed for mobile as well as desktop, and be easy to install and customise.

The premium theme supplier that I have used over the years and highly recommend is StudioPress (aff). I’ve used their themes in the early days of numerous blogs and love their design but also support. I love them so much I’ve allowed them to put my face and testimonials all over their site :-)

To be honest – the design part of setting up a blog is the bit I find hardest. It is definitely possible to do it 100% yourself (and there are many tutorials around that will help you learn the skills to do it) but for 99.9% of new bloggers a theme that you tweak is the way to go.

The other option if you’re super serious is to hire a designer to do a custom design for you. But that is likely to cost you some significant cash to get a reputable designer and so a them is probably the best place to start.

Don’t stress too much in the early days – we all start with a design that we later look back on and cringe a little at. The main thing is to get set up and evolve from there. My key tip is to choose a simple, classic and clean design that you can add a simple logo to to make it a bit more individual and then get on with blogging!

Step 5: Start creating useful content that serves readers

OK – hopefully by now you’ve got your domain, hosting, have installed WordPress and have your theme installed. You have started a blog… but you’re not a blogger until you start creating some content for your blog!

I can’t really tell you what to write on your blog for your first post – because it is something that will vary a lot from blogger to blogger – but I’ll share some links below that might help give you some starting points.

What I can point you to is a couple of helpful videos from our friends at Bluehost again.

There are two types of content that you are able to create for your blog in WordPress – ‘Pages’ and ‘Posts’.

Pages

Pages are the ‘static’ pages on your blog that won’t really change that much but which you’ll link to from your menus and navigation areas on your blog. For instance here on ProBlogger my ‘About Page’ and ‘Speaking Page’ are created using a ‘page’.

Your first page should probably be an ‘About Page’ – a page which tells people about you and your blog. It’s a page you’ll want to show up in your navigation area/menu and is going to get quite a few people read it to understand what you’re about as a blogger.

Need help with your about page – check out our previous post on what to include in your About Page?

Posts

Posts are a little different and what you’ll spend most of your time creating as a blogger – they’re where you create your regular blog posts. Posts will appear on the front page of your blog once they’re published. They usually have comments and a date to show readers when it was published.

Let’s start by creating an ‘About Page’. It’s easy to do – in fact if you know how to use a word processor like Word then you should be ok!

Here’s exactly who to do that with our friends from Bluehost:

Next it is time to write your first blog post.

Once again the content is going to vary a lot from blog to blog but how you get that post up onto your blog is a relatively simple process and one that you’re going to become a master at in no time!

In fact you’re going to find this process very similar to creating a ‘page’ for your blog. Here’s a last video from Bluehost on creating ‘posts’.

Further Reading on Creating Content for Your Blog

There’s a great deal more that you could read about starting a blog but the process above should get you going. Once you’ve worked through it here are a few other suggested articles to read to help you take your next steps.

probloggers-first-week-of-blogging.jpg

I would also highly recommend that you check out our Guide to Your First Week of Blogging eBook which is perfect for anyone who has just set up their blog to help them to think through some key challenges that face bloggers like how to come up with an editorial strategy, how to find readers and much more.

It presents a series of 32 achievable tasks that will not only get your blog going but that will help you to develop the skills you need to achieve your potential as a blogger.

Also check out some of these articles and podcast episodes:

The post How to Start a Blog in 5 Steps appeared first on ProBlogger.

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