Dreaming of Having a Successful Blog? Start by Finding Your V.I.P

Successful Blog_I bet you have a certain successful, dare I say famous, blogger that you love to follow.

Someone you dream of being like, having a successful blog like theirs and someday finding the success they have.

And I bet you know this blogger’s content and writing from a mile away. You’ve followed them enough to know exactly what they write about and how they write it. You may even feel like you know this blogger as well as you know your friends.

Why?

Because these successful bloggers have nailed their V.I.P.

No, I’m not talking about that V.I.P, though they are pretty damn important.

I’m talking about their blogging V.I.P.

They’ve successfully nailed their blogging Voice, Individual value and their People.

And you can too. Let’s talk about each and how it can help you create a successful blog.

Voice

You like certain bloggers because of the way they communicate. They’re probably a bit conversational, maybe they swear a bit, maybe they write a little like you. You’ve come to know their style, and you could probably tell if someone else started writing their posts. It just wouldn’t sound right.

This is because they’ve perfected their blogging voice.

Your blogging voice ensures that all your posts are uniquely “you.” It helps you to build a community of loyal readers who have come to know your work and love your words. It helps you connect with your readers, allowing them to get to know you better, turning them from casual readers into raving fans.

So what exactly is your blogging voice?

Basically, it’s how you write. It’s the tone and words you use.

But it’s actually more than that. Your blogging voice integrates your way of writing with your personal experience, creating content that relatable, and unique to you and only you.

And don’t let the fear of being too informal with your voice hold you back. Allowing readers to get to know the real you will actually help build up your tribe of loyal readers. So be informal, be vulnerable, be you!

Individual value

Next up, individual value.

What can you bring to the table that no one else can?

This is so important, my friends. There are so many other bloggers out there.

But you, you have something special. Something no one else does. And once you figure out what it is, what you have that you can share and teach, what makes you different … you have your value positioning statement.

Then once you find your value, it’s important to use it and show it off. One of the best ways to communicate this is to make sure it’s clear on your website. When new readers visit your site for the first time, they should immediately know what your blog is all about. Don’t make them look around and read a bit to find out more. Because many times, people won’t. They ain’t got time for that. So don’t give them the chance to leave without giving you a chance – make sure your individual value and what you’re all about is understandable within the first few seconds of being on your site.

People

For your favorite blogger, you are her people.  You are the person he is writing to each day.

How do I know?

Because it’s the reason you love their blog so much. Because all their content resonates with you.

They sound like they’re talking to you, right?

That’s not a coincidence.

They’ve likely spent tons of time figuring out who they are writing for, and what types of content they can create that will speak to the specific people they want to talk to.

This is why all their content, all their social media posts, their images, their updates – you can relate to them all.

Figuring out who your own blogging people are can help ensure all your content speaks to your ideal reader, turning them into fans of everything you create.

Successful bloggers know their blogging V.I.P. They have a distinct voice, they know what value they bring for their readers and know exactly who their target readers are. They use this information to make sure that everything they create is really targeted and focused, and perfectly in line with their blogging goals. Find your blogging V.I.P so you, too, can have a successful blog!

 

 

 

5 Biggest Mistakes Beginners Make When Monetizing a Blog

5 Biggest Mistakes Beginners Make when Monetizing a BlogMonetizing a blog takes more than just building a blog.

Because really, anyone can build a blog. Okay, that’s not true. If you’re like me, you have someone who knows A. LOT. more about design and coding and that stuff to help you build a blog.

But anyway, let’s talk about the biggest mistakes beginners make when trying to monetize a blog. If you can relate to anything here in any way, don’t worry. Because it only means you’d been there, done that, and learned from it. In fact, I’ve done a couple of these myself. Yup, I totally mastered blog suckery before finding my focus.  Anyway, here are 5 of the biggest mistakes beginner bloggers make when starting to monetize their blog.

5 Big Mistakes Bloggers Make When Monetizing a Blog

#1 They throw up tons of ads and think they will bring in tons o’ money. You know those sites, where there are nothing but display ads in the sidebar, a block ad in the beginning of posts and textual ads in the middle of posts. But making real money with just ads, isn’t as profitable as you might think. In fact, if you don’t have tons of traffic, you make pennies a day. I’m not even kidding on the pennies part. (And I’m TOTALLY guilty of doing this. Not on this blog, but I did try to monetize a niche blog using mostly ads and some affiliate links. Is it a surprise it’s no longer up?)

#2 They monetize before they have a distinct audience. I know monetizing first sounds like a good idea. You don’t want to get all these readers to your site, and then suddenly start selling them all this stuff. Seems kinda spammy right? But the thing is, unless you have an audience, you’re never going to really know what your audience wants from you. On the flip side, you also don’t want to wait too long to start finding out what your audience wants and start creating things to sell. Why? More on this next.

#3 They think they need a huge audience. My friends, it’s not the size that counts. You can totally monetize a blog with a small-ish audience. It’s all about engagement. If you have a bunch of dedicated readers who devour your posts each week, that’s way better than a ton of traffic that doesn’t care about what you’re saying and creating. So how do you build a dedicated audience with a small audience? It’s about interaction and engagement. Answer comments, interact on social media. Show your audience you’re a real person they can connect with.

#4 They don’t know what their audience wants. We touched on this in the second point, but monetizing a blog without knowing what your audience is really interested in is a big no-no. Why? Cause if they’re not really interested, they’re not going to buy … no matter how dedicated they are. For ideas on how to find out what your audience wants, check out this post.

#5 They forget their content. It’s understandable. You get caught up in creating a product or service and marketing and promoting their stuff, and they start to forget their content. But you should never forget your content. Content is what brings new readers (and new customers!) to your blog. It’s what will help you create your unique voice, engage your audience and build a relationship with your readers.

Monetizing a blog isn’t about creating a blog and watching the money roll in. It’s about creating compelling content, engaging with your audience, getting to know them and finding out what they really want.

What do you think? What does it take to really monetize a blog?

 

Five Brand Strategy Tips to Make Your Blog Stand Out

Brand Strategy TipsNote: This is a guest post from Sami Yuhas of Orange Juice Diaries. Take it away Sami!

We all know that trying to stand out in a crowd can be tough. You have so much value to offer your audience, but you worry about even getting that audience in the first place. It’s tough, and if you’re overwhelmed trying to figure it all out, it’s okay.

Whether you’re launching your first blog or your five-hundredth, here are five brand strategy tips to help you stand out.

Limit Your Colors

Big Blue. Coca Cola red. Black & Decker orange. Your colors are a non-verbal calling card for your brand. They help you become instantly recognizable, whether it’s on Instagram, Pinterest, or out in the real world. By limiting your color palette, you’re helping to focus your brand identity.

In a perfect world, you want to have two to three main blog colors that you can accent with black, white, or grey as necessary. This gives you a surprisingly wide palette to work with and makes keeping your visual voice consistent a breeze. Keeping such a tight focus will make it easier for you to standout and, more importantly, generate some serious recognition.

If you’re someone who struggles to figure out what looks good together, you’re in luck. Adobe has an amazing tool called Adobe Color CC which allows you to generate color schemes, complete with RGB, HEX, and CMYK values. If you create an Adobe account, you can even save them! Color also has a beautiful mobile app, so you can design on the go.

Rather not use Adobe, or feeling like narrowing down from a five color selection is too much? Try Paletton. Paletton is a similar concept, but narrows your color choices down. You’re still able to export all the data you need, so either way, you’re good to go.

Limit Your Fonts

This builds on the same idea as the color principle. Choosing a font that serves as your signature helps to make you recognizable. Again, think about Coca Cola or, better yet, Disney. Just hearing the name is probably enough to make you think of Coca Cola’s gorgeous curvy Cs or Disney’s fun, quirky Ds. This kind of association is another powerful visual calling card that you can (and should!) take advantage of.

Choosing your fonts can be tricky. My advice is to sit down and brainstorm on what kind of feel you want your brand to have. There’s a bunch of ways to do this: you might want to sit down with pen and paper, jot down whatever comes to mind, and then start looking for fonts that you feel fit that aesthetic. Maybe you’re a more visual person and would prefer to hop on Pinterest and create a moodboard of the brand you’re hoping to create. There isn’t a wrong way to go about it.

Once you have an idea of what you want your font to say, it’s time to actually go and find them! If you’re blogging for fun, without plans to monetize, then you’re good to select whatever font pleases you. If, however, you’re looking at blogging for money, it may be worth it to make sure that your fonts are licensed for commercial use. This doesn’t mean that you have to pay for them, however! Font Squirrel offers tons of free fonts for commercial use and CreativeMarket almost always has a font or two in their weekly freebies. Either way, you’ll find quality fonts that you’re sure to love!

Pay For Premium

Alright, I know I just told you that you don’t have to pay for fonts and that’s 100% true. However, if you want to really stand out, you might want to consider investing in a font that does come with a price tag.

Hear me out:

There are thousands of for-pay fonts, and thousands of independent font designers. Choosing to purchase a font drastically reduces the chance that someone else will be using your font and solidifies the tie between the visual calling card and the content that goes along with it. If you want, and if your handwriting is tidy enough, you could even pay a designer to turn your own handwriting into your blog font, which really adds a personal touch.

The same holds true for the kinds of imagery you use in your posts. There are tons of wonderful, free stock resources out there. Unsplash and Makerbook are a boon to the design community, both DIY and professional. However, lots of people know and love these sites. If you want imagery that stands out, you might want to consider paying for it. Sites like Death to the Stock Photo provide premium quality images that you won’t find anywhere else, and can be another dimension of definition for your brand.

There’s one other point to add here: lots of the time, when you’re buying a font or stock photos, you’re supporting another small business. While it can be tough when you’re starting out, it’s kind of cool to breed a community of mutual support.

Be Consistent

Alright, so you’ve put in the work to define your colors and your fonts, and you’ve maybe even bought some shiny new design goodies.

Now, use them.

One of the most important things about assembling your visual language is that you need to actually put it into practice. You want to generate recognition, and not fall into Shiny Object Syndrome. You don’t have the time to repeat this process every week and still run your blog and your life. It absolutely will not help you to keep changing what your brand looks like. If you find yourself stuck with comparisonitis, remember that you know your brand best and that this is what your brand looks like.

Sometimes, though, that’s easier said than done, which brings me to my final point.

Be YOU

At the end of the day, your blog brand strategy needs to be in line with who you are. You want people to vibe with that, come to your blog, and interact with it; ultimately, you’ll find those people by being true to yourself and your blog.

Following with what’s in vogue is not always the best plan. Take the current floral and brush script trend for the moment. It’s elegant. It’s beautiful. It’s very feminine. There are a lot of wonderful bloggers out there who have proudly proclaimed: This is me! This is my aesthetic!

But, if that’s not you, if that’s not your aesthetic, should you jump on that bandwagon?

No!

When it comes to your blog brand strategy, it’s okay to be different. It’s okay to be quirky. People want to connect with you as much as your content and your branding is the first place to make that happen.  So be bold, be true, be you.

 

Author Bio:

samiSami Yuhas is an instructional and graphic designer with an M.Ed in Learning, Design, and Technology from Penn State. In July of 2015, she founded Orange Juice Diaries to help women bring their business goals to life with amazing course design and beautiful branding.

Using a Gmail Address to Send Newsletters? You Need to Read This!

setting up gmail for workI love Gmail. It has awesome spam filters, folders and more. It’s super customizable and works with many outside apps like Boomerang and Wisestamp.

And I know many of you do too.

But if you use a Gmail address to send out your newsletters, things are about to get pretty ugly for you.

This month, Google is going to be making changes to their DMARC policy. What the hell does that mean? Well, DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance) tells mail servers to reject email messages from a domain, if they did not originate from that domain’s server.

What the? So basically, if you send Gmail from Gmail, you’re all good. But if you send an email using a Gmail address from another server … i.e. your mailing service provider!!! … you’re screwed. Your messages will be rejected. Official announcement here.

So what can you do? Well you can set up a domain email address through your host. But most of those interfaces, well, they suck. They’re clunky, not customizable and just plain awful.

Luckily, you totally CAN still use Gmail.

You just need to set up a custom domain email address with Google. It’s super easy to set up. Trust me when I say this. Cause I set mine up all by myself. And if you know anything about me, I’m the most technologically inept person there is.

And it’s just as awesome as you’d think it is. I get to keep all the perks of Gmail, plus have a professional-looking domain email address. Plus I can be logged into both my old Gmail address and my domain one at the same time, and switching between the 2 is a breeze.

How to Set Up Your Domain Gmail Address

1. Head over to Google Apps for Work here: https://apps.google.com/ and click the Get Started button

google apps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Enter your name, current email address and other information
3. On the next page, you will be asked to enter your business domain. You can use one you’ve already purchased, or buy a new one. Most of you will already have one. Enter your domain and click Next

enter domain
4. Choose your email address and enter the rest of the information
5. You’re going to have to verify your domain. Now before you get all freaked out cause verifying anything WordPress isn’t always the easiest, don’t worry. This is easy too. If you know what you’re doing, you can place the provided code into your header. If you don’t, install this plugin: Insert Headers and Footers. Then navigate to “Insert Code” under Settings in your dashboard. Then insert your Google code right there in the header section. Easy peasy.

insert code
6. Go back to Google and click verify!
7. Once you’re done, you can log into your Google Apps for Work and add users, or custom email addresses!

There is a small fee ($5 a month), but it’s soooo much better than other email interfaces that it’s worth it.

Are you still using the email interface that came with your hosting plan? If you are, why? Seriously, why? Jump on Google Apps for Work, like, yesterday. You won’t regret it!

A Roadmap For Building Your Next (Or First!) Product or Service

sell product or serviceLast week we talked about making money with your blog … without putting up a single ad.

Sorry Google, I love you but AdSense just isn’t a great way to make a real living online.

So this week, let’s dive deeper into how to build your first, second, third product or service.

Because really, building the actual product or service isn’t the difficult part. It’s discovering what to build that is. It’s picking something that will actually sell, something your readers are truly interested in. Something they are willing to spend their money on (cause that’s the ultimate goal isn’t it? To make money with your blog)

In that post, I briefly touched on how to figure out what your audience is interested in. But let’s really get into it.

You’re going to start by listening. If you listen carefully, you will find they are already telling you exactly what they want you to teach them. Take a look at your:

Blog comments

Your comments section provides excellent feedback from your readers. In fact, readers often agree (I love what you said here because …), disagree (Actually, I think …), praise (I wish I could __ like you) or sympathize with you (I’ve been there too …)

Or they vent a little and want some sympathy back. These vents are the comments you should pay careful attention to. They are already telling you what’s bothering them, what problems they have that you can address, and help them solve (that last part is key!)

Other blogs

You know what other blogs are popular in your niche. Start stalking them (if you aren’t already) and read the comments there. Just as you would in your own comments section, see what people are asking and saying.

You can also take note of the most popular posts. You may find topics that are important to your own readers that you have not covered.

Now let’s dig a little deeper to find what topics are the most popular in your niche. To find this information, turn to tools like:

  • Buzzsumo. Search for content that is trending, most shared, even top authors. Search by topic, keyword or domain. Buzzsumo will give you the content and how many times it’s been shared on social media to tell you what’s the most popular on the net.
  • Google Trends. See what’s trending on the biggest search engine. Search by categories and even location.
  • Reddit. Want something a little different? Reddit is a site where the latest news, entertainment and social stuff rests. At first glance, Reddit looks kind of disorganized, kind of messy. There’s links, comments, upvotes, downvotes. But it’s a place where you can find trending topics and discussions by people who are just as passionate about your niche as you are.

Social media

Check what people are saying on your social media platforms. While some people are comfortable leaving comments on your blog, others are more apt to converse and engage on social media.

Read (and respond to) comments on your posts to encourage even more comments. And make sure to listen to what your followers are saying.

Also, join some Facebook groups related to your niche and pay attention to questions that get asked often, or get the most responses. Many times someone will post a question, and you’ll see other members responding with things like “I’d like to know this too!” or “I was wondering the same thing!” Even though they are your own readers, you know this question or concern is something that many people would love to know the answers to.

Your email list

If you already have an email list, you’re in luck! You have a direct link to your readers and a great source for insights. These people chose to sign up for your email list, so you know they’re already interested in you and what you have to say.

Save any insights you get from your subscribers … even if it doesn’t seem relevant now, it could come in handy later.

With your email list, don’t be afraid to ask a follow-up question if you need to. Your subscribers want to be engaged and get direct attention from you. If they tell you something is hard, respond and ask what is so hard or even better, what is the hardest part. You will find that the answer is often something that many of your other readers are struggling with as well.

Book reviews

Next, turn to Amazon.

Look for best-selling books in your niche. Now look at the 2-star and 3-star ratings. Not the 1-star. Let me tell you why. The lowest reviews are probably going to tell you the book was utter crap. Not helpful when you want to know what problems your readers want solved.

The reviews somewhere in the middle are going to tell you the book was okay, but it was missing this or that. It’s the things that are missing that the readers wish were addressed. Those are the things you can address. Make a list of pain points, things the readers had wished were included in the books.

Surveys

You can also survey your readers. Email your list, ask it on social media, write a blog post and ask readers to respond in the comments. It can something like “what is your biggest hurdle right now?” or “what is stopping you from achieving ____?”

To create a slightly longer survey (slightly! Don’t go overboard. Too long and your readers won’t want to respond), there are quite a few free survey services out there that will work just fine for your research purposes.

  • SurveyMonkey. If you’re not polling too many people, SurveyMonkey is a great option. It’s free for up to 10 questions, and 100 responses.
  • KwikSurveys. Unlimited questions and responses, and you can easily export your results.

Make sure your questions are very specific. Don’t simply ask what they want. Ask what their biggest challenge is regarding ____. Or ask what they’d like in thein (blog or business for example). What would it take to get them there? What would they like to learn? What products or services do they wish were more available in your niche?

Building a product or service that really sells starts with your audience. Unless you can figure out what questions they really want answered, what problems they want solved, you can’t begin to build something that will be the solution.

 

How to Make Money With Your Blog … Without Putting Up a Single Ad

make money bloggingIt seems easy in theory.

Start a blog, put up some ads, and watch the dough roll in.

But the reality is … it’s never like that.

In fact, to make $100 a day with Google AdSense you’d need about 40,000 page views per day. And to make those page views, you’d need about 500 epic blog posts on your site. Not just filler articles, but 500 pillar posts that aim to teach, awe and inspire, and attract about 80 page views each. Per day.

Sure, it can be done. But that’s a lot of work to make $100 a day.

And it’s even harder than you think. Readers have become pretty ad blind. I know I rarely pay attention to ads anymore. In fact, I completely overlooked an email call-to-action box once, because it was square, outlined, and placed at the top of the side bar. I saw the shape and wrote it off as an ad. I actually had to ask the blogger if she had an opt in form on her site because I honestly thought it was an AdSense ad.

And I know I can’t be the only one who overlooks ads in the sidebar.

Want another reason why ads suck? When you put up ads, you WANT people to click them. You’re actively asking all those visitors you worked so hard to get, to go and leave your site. Why in the hell would you want to do that?

Instead, I’d rather focus on other ways to monetize a blog. Ways that don’t require a single ad, and ways that keep your traffic on your own site. And there are tons of ways to make money blogging. Here are just some of them.

Sponsored posts

A sponsored post is when a company or business pays you to post about their business, product or service. The post can be written by you or by them. You are required to mention it as a sponsored post, and that you are compensated for sharing the information.

So how do you get sponsored posts? There’s a lot that goes into them, and advertisers are picky about which blogs they choose. First, your blog should fit the industry of the advertiser. Advertisers also look at many other factors, like page views, Google page rank, social media followers, email subscribers and other rank-defining criteria.

You can look through sites like SponsoredReviews, Business2Blogger, or TapInfluence to find sponsored blog posts or sponsored product reviews.

Or, you can let advertisers find you. By writing quality content, and advertising that you accept sponsored posts, advertisers can find your blog. While this method may take more time and more work, you can charge higher rates when you do it on your own.

Sell products

EBooks, eCourses, digital files. There are many different products you can sell on your site. The key is to find something that fits your niche, and is something your audience will be dying to buy.

Where do you start? First things first; you want to make sure it’s something your audience is interested in. And how do you know? You ask them. Poll your audience, ask your email subscribers, post questions on social media. Find out exactly what your audience wants to know the most. What is their most burning question or problem that you can address?

Once you know what your audience wants, pick a product type that fits your audience. Some people prefer text to video, or vice versa. Some would rather read an eBook than take a course. Some love digital downloads. Figuring this out isn’t always as easy, and it takes knowing your readers. You may also do some experimenting and split testing to figure out your sweet spot.

Sell services

Not into making products? Selling services is another great way to monetize a blog. You already know how to write your own blog posts, why not write blog posts for others?

Other services you can offer include (but are definitely, definitely not limited to): virtual assistant, social media assist, website design, website building.

Think of what you excel at. Would you enjoy doing it for others as well? And does your blog reflect your work? As a blogger, it would be easy to show others you know how to blog. If you wanted to offer social media services, do your own account reflect that you know what you’re doing? Use your blog as a resume and make a page to advertise your services.

Consulting/coaching

Instead of selling your services, you can teach others to do it too. Coaching or consulting can apply to just about any industry. Teach other bloggers to build a successful blog on their own terms, guide people through their life, help people stick to a eating a healthy diet. There are literally hundreds of things that could be taught to others. Use your own expertise to help guide others to their own success.

Seminars/webinars

Now we’re getting into spreading your expertise to the masses. Instead of one-on-one coaching or consulting, hosting webinars (live online lecture or workshop) or seminars (in person lecture or class) are a great way to teach a bunch of people at the same time.

If you’ve never done either, webinars are a great way to get started. Pick a topic your readers want to know more about. Look at your most popular posts; can you expand on any of them? Or you can go back to what we were talking about under the products category, and find out exactly what your readers want.

Now, a webinar doesn’t have to mean speaking on camera. You can create a slideshow presentation and use webinar software like GoToWebinar or WebinarJam, or Google Hangouts (Free!) to broadcast your slides and your voice. Of course you can use the same software to capture yourself speaking. Choose the method that you’re most comfortable with!

Memberships

A membership site can bring you consistent monthly income. It can become a group of readers that are very dedicated to you and your blog. These are the people who will most likely be willing to pay for other products you offer.

A membership site is a website in which you charge people to be an exclusive member of. It can be as simple as a paid forum, private Facebook group you charge a fee to access or even premium content your blog. The members become a community; they get more access to additional content, direct access to you and also to each other.

Making money with your blog doesn’t mean throwing some ad boxes in your side bar. There are many other ways to monetize and make a real income. Pick something that your audience will truly be interested in. Something they will be willing to spend money on.

 

 

 

Online Proofreading Tools That Will Help Make You a Better Blogger

Online Proofreading ToolsI know you’re a good writer. You know you’re a good writer.

But even good writers make mistakes.

Have you ever published a blog post you thought was perfect, only to realize after it’s gone out to your entire email list and your social accounts that there’s a typo? Dude. Face, meet palm.

First thing, why is it always after?! It can be something in plain sight, and we totally miss it on the first (or second or third) pass. And second thing, you’re not alone.

We all have writing slip ups. There are some days I just can’t grammar (yeah, I know what I said). I can’t spell entrepreneur without spell check (It’s that one “u.” I always forget which “e” it goes by!)

So, let’s make our lives just a little easier. Here are proofreading 6 tools that will help you write better.

Slick Writer. This editor is straight to the point. Type or copy your content into the site and it will check for any grammar errors, stylistic mistakes and punctuation mistakes. In the settings, customize your proofreading needs. You can set it to alert you to certain mistakes such as the use of passive voice, use of adverbs, wordy phrases and more. You can also choose how many words a “long” sentence is, or whether or not you want to include slang or clichés.

Hemingway Editor. If you have a habit of writing longer sentences, this editor is perfect for you. It identifies any long or hard to read sentences. It will also point out too many adverbs or the usage of passive voice. What also makes this editor great is that is gives you an overall readability score. You may have heard it’s best to write at a 6th-8th grade level; this editor will help you do that.

Grammarly. Grammarly says they will make you a better writer by correcting up to 10 times the mistakes your word processor will. Not too shabby. But does it work? Well, Grammarly does find grammar mistakes your spell check just overlooks. It ensures you have the same verb tense throughout your content, and will even give you synonym suggestions to help you clarify your thoughts better.

Grammar Check. While they do offer a deep check (paid, of course) that does a bit more, the free check will point out spelling errors, as well as grammar and style suggestions. Simply cut and paste your content directly in the editor and click the check button. That’s it. Easy peasy. It’s not the fanciest of grammar checkers, but it works if you need something simple.

Readability Score. This one won’t check your grammar or spelling, but it will check the readability of your content to make sure it’s suitable for online audiences. Paste in text, upload files, enter a URL, this site takes many different sources and analyzes them all.

Readability Calculator. This calculator from OnlineUtility.org will calculate your readability, and also show you any complicated sentences along with suggestions for improvement. It also gives you your basic statistics such as number of characters, words and sentences, as well as the average number of syllables per word, characters per word and words per sentence.

No matter how well you write, there is always a chance you may miss something. Use one of these proofreaders or readability checkers to ensure your grammar, spelling and readability are right on track.

 

 

 

How to Blog Consistently … Without Burning Yourself Out

Blogging ConsistencyLet’s get honest for a moment and talk about consistency.

People, the struggle is real.

I see it all the time, bloggers saying their main struggle is blogging consistently. Why?

Because life happens. We all start off with grand intentions of putting out blog post after blog post, getting tons of readers and building a loyal tribe. But then life, work, family … something gets in the way and takes up time. And next thing you know, you’re skipping a post here or there, or if you are posting, you’re struggling to get it published on time.

While it may seem okay to just get a post out whenever you get it out, blogging consistently has some serious benefits.

Besides the SEO-Google-loves-consistency mumbo jumbo, your readers like consistency even more. They will come to expect a post from you every week, or month, or whatever interval you choose. And messing up that schedule starts to mess with their expectations. Plus, if they know when you’re posting something new, it gives them something to look forward to. How awesome is that?

So how do you blog consistently? Here are 7 tips to help you stay on track … without experiencing blogger burnout.

Create a blogging schedule that works for you. Let’s be real here. Are you really going to publish a post every day? Or every other day? With marketing your blog and … life … it’s not that easy to stay consistent with a schedule like that. So be honest with yourself.

And don’t worry; you’re not going to lose tons of readers if you stop posting each day. In fact, it may even help your readership. Giving yourself more time in-between posts will give you more time to focus on quality, and put out content that really impresses people.

Have a running list of topics. Keeping a backup of topics means you won’t ever be at loss for a topic. And inspiration is everywhere if you look. Keep notes on the most popular posts on related blogs and look at what readers are saying in your comments or in social media groups.

Look for interesting facts or topics in news articles, conversations you have, books you read. Post prompts are everywhere. My son falling face-first off the slide into some sand inspired this post.

Create an editorial calendar. Make things easy for yourself, okay? Keep an editorial calendar, with your post ideas plugged in. Try to mix it up between how to posts, lists, case studies, opinion, roundup, etc. It will literally show you what you have coming up, what you have posted, and what topics you will focus on.

Know when you are most creative. If morning gets your juices flowing, schedule blogging time in the morning. If you’re better at night, do your writing then. There’s really no right or wrong time to do your writing. But getting it in when you are the most productive will help beat the “I don’t want to!” feeling.

Write more than one post at a time. If you have extra blogging time schedule, get in an extra post or two. Cranking them out when you’re in the mood, or all hopped up on caffeine (for me, it’s the latter), will help you build a queue of posts. Which will definitely come in handy for those times when life really does get in the way and you just can’t write.

Use tools to keep you on track. Now that you have your time schedule, you want to make sure you make the most of it.

Use time tracking tools like:

  • Toggl. This is a simple online timer. Build for time-tracking teams, Toggl works just as well for a solo blogger. Set a goal, set the timer and type away.
  • Focus Booster. Another timer, but this one is based on the Pomodoro technique, where each “Pomodoro” is a 25-minute cycle, then a 5-minute break. Technically, you’re supposed to do 4 Pomodoros and then take a 15-minute break.
  • Coach.me. Use their free habit tracker app to help you turn writing into a habit. Track, set targets and celebrate milestones with friends and the community.

You can also use tools to block the Internet so you can really focus on writing.

Try:

Fill in the blanks with guest bloggers. If you’re really backed up against a time corner, find another blogger to help you out. The benefits of doing this is two-fold: you get a small break, and you can find a whole new audience.

When someone guest posts on your blog, they’ll share the post with their email subscribers and their social media followers. Their readers will head over to your blog to read the blogger’s post, but they will discover your blog too. AND! Your readers will discover the guest blogger, so it really is a win-win situation.

Blogging consistently is a real problem for many people. Getting quality posts out on a regular schedule isn’t always as easy as it looks. By following these 7 tips, you can start to get on a regular schedule, without burning out of driving yourself crazy.

 

Can You Make Money With a Blog That ISN’T About Blogging?

make money bloggingI see this question asked quite often in social media groups.

Can a blogger who doesn’t blog about blogging make good money with their blog?

Can a blogger who doesn’t blog about blogging make good money with their blog? Click To Tweet

Say that 5 times fast.

But seriously guys, I’ve seen this question quite a few times. It seems to be this unspoken fear. That if you don’t teach others how to blog for money, then you’re not going to make any of your own.

So, to squash those fears, let’s take a look at 9 blogs that aren’t in the blogging or business niches, and are still killing it online.

Take a look at 9 blogs that aren’t in the blogging or business niches, and are still killing it… Click To Tweet.

Pulling Curls is a super cute blog about parenting, pregnancy, organization, and everything else in between. The blog saw $5,300 in the month of April.

Making Sense of Cents is a finance and lifestyle blog that will teach you how to earn more and save more. They pulled in $71,761 in April.

Pinch of Yum is a food blog (I may have gotten lost in the gluten free and vegan sections for a bit. Soo many yummy things in there!) I couldn’t find an exact gross income number, but after adding up their stats, looks like March was about $58,000 before expenses.

Jessica Gavin’s blog is also about super yummy food, but with a unique take. She’s a Certified Food Scientist. Forgive my naiveté, but I didn’t know there was such a thing. Their March income was $1,495.

Mostly Morgan is a blog written by a 20-something college student. She covers everything from fashion, college advice, blogging advice, and just random musings. March brought in almost $2,000 for her.

Coming Up Roses is a lifestyle blog about inspiration, relationships, style, health and beauty and some blogging advice thrown in there. According to her December income report, she pulled in $,1412 that month.

Arts and Classy is all about DIY home design, and is full of advice and DIY tutorials. The February income reports shows they brought in $3,205.

Build Your Bite is another food blog, with a focus on healthy food. Total income for March was $436.

Gen Y Girl is a “Millennial Career & Lifestyle Blog.” She seems to blog about everything from career and blogging, to money and productivity. According to her December income report, she made $2,416 for the month.

As you can see, the income runs the gamut from hundreds to thousands a month. And these blogs are come from different niches. Even the methods vary widely, from affiliate ads, sponsored posts, courses and ebooks and more. But the common denominator here is that all these blogs are making money online. Whether you want to make some side, passive income or a full-time income, it can be done through blogging – no matter what niche you’re interested in.

 

How to Introduce Yourself as a Blogger or Freelancer – And Blow People Away

How to Introduce YourselfWhen someone asks you what you do, do you hesitate?

While you know what you do, do you have a hard time telling others?

I’ve been freelancing and blogging for over 5 years now. So I’ve faced this many, many times. People ask me what I do. I answer “I’m a freelance writer,” and I get “Oh, so you write books?” Nope. Or I say “I work from home,” and I get that “Okay…” and that conversation just ends.

Or even worse, I get people who think I still stay home and do shit all day. I’m serious. To this day I still have family members who can’t quite grasp what I do. Probably cause they don’t really care …

But anyway, as a freelancer or blogger, the “What do you do?” question is sometimes annoying, sometimes painful and most often, unavoidable.

But when your job doesn’t quite fit into the norm, it can be hard telling people exactly what you do. It’s not always easy to sum up your work in a single word description. You can’t spout off a one word, recognizable and respected answer like a doctor or teacher can. And the truth is, unless they also work online, most people have no clue what you actually do.

So what’s a person like you, someone making a living online, supposed to say? How do you answer to avoid that dreaded blank stare or the “oh, that’s nice”?

Forget terms like blogger, designer and freelance writer. The key to telling people what you do, and blow them away with your answer, is to effectively tell them the value you provide.

Focus on Your Big Value

Now, I’ll be honest. Your big value answer is going to be longer than saying something like “writer” or “web designer.” But it will be something that people can understand, relate to, and (most importantly) be impressed by.

Your big value statement should focus on what you do for people. Not what features you have, but what benefits you bring to the table. It should also convey what sets you apart from other businesses or bloggers out there.  Lastly, it should include words that people recognize and understand. Don’t stuff your statement with techy words that only other WordPress designers will get. If you do, you’ll be met with blank stares. Your value should clear, concise and easy for just about anyone to understand.

Start by figuring out who you help. Be specific. What type of people do you help? For example:

I help:

  • small businesses
  • aspiring entrepreneurs
  • bloggers
  • parents

Now, what do you help them do? What do you help them achieve? How do you make their lives better? For example:

I help (your answer above) to:

  • Make money online
  • Get more sales
  • Organize their lives
  • Build a website they can be proud of

Lastly, what is your “how”? How do you help these people? For example:
I help _____ to ______ by:

  • Showing them how to brand their business.
  • Creating content that will help bring their business attention.
  • Showing them how to create a home schedule.
  • Using creative design services.

Make sense?

Put it all together now.

I help small businesses build a website they can be proud of by using creative design services.

I help parents organize their lives by showing them how to create a home schedule to get things under control.

I help businesses get more sales online by creating content that will help bring them attention. 

If you really can’t get away from your job title, go ahead and add it!

I’m a freelance designer and I help small businesses build a website they can be proud of by using creative design services.

I’m a writer who helps businesses get more sales online by creating content that will get their business attention.

Now that you have your big value statement, practice it. Say it yourself in the mirror. And be confident! No one will believe in you if you don’t seem like you believe in yourself.

You can even add your value statement to your website mission statement and use it in your social media profiles.

When you work from home, explaining exactly what you do can be difficult. Especially to people who don’t quite get working online. Instead of listing off a job title that most people just don’t understand, build a value statement that will clearly convey who you work with and what you do.