How To Start A Blog In 2018: The Beginner’s Guide

Blogging is one of those “no experience required” jobs. It’s pretty simple to start a blog but it’s very difficult to master. The purpose of this guide is to teach you how to start your blog today and make it a success. All with simple and clear, step-by-step instructions.

How to start a blog

Throughout this beginner guide, I have included links to additional resources that provide more in-depth information about the particular topic that I covered. Let’s get started.

What should I blog about?

You can find the perfect blog topic for you by interlinking your passion and personality with the demand from the market.

Your sweet blogging spot

Are you unsure about what niche you want to be blogging about?

Take a look at my Simple Guide To Figuring Out The Niche To Blog About.

How to come up with a name for my blog?

You know the topic you want to cover but how about the name? These are the three main approaches for coming up with a memorable blog name:

Choosing a name for your blog

Need more help with naming your blog?

See A Quick Guide To Coming Up With A Memorable Blog Name.

What’s the best blogging platform?

There’s just too many options available. WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Medium, Squarespace, Wix and Weebly just to name a few. It’s easy to get lost and not understand the difference between them.

The choice boils down to this: Do you want to blog using a closed and commercial platform or using a self-hosted and open platform?

When I created my first site about my favorite band Metallica I used one of the closed, for-profit platforms. My site turned out popular, but I had restrictions on what I could post, how I could present my content and they even put banner advertisement on my site. I had to leave that platform and went on to self-host my site.

It’s not ideal to rely 100% on commercial platforms in the long term for these reasons:

  • When using a commercial platform you don’t own your blog, the company behind the platform does.
  • Commercial platforms are more expensive and have restrictive terms of use with regards to the design, what you can post content about, if and how you can monetize and more.
  • Commercial platforms change, adapt their positioning and disrupt their users. Some cease to exist. Some get taken over, get neglected and shut down (remember Posterous?).

The opposite of commercial platforms are the self-hosted and open platforms. The key player here is WordPress. WordPress is an open-source, self-hosted blogging platform that allows you to build your blog for free. It’s used by millions of people and powers more than 29% of the entire web. Some of the largest brands host their sites on WordPress including Facebook, eBay, NASA, Mozilla and CNN.

WordPress has a huge community of hundreds of thousands of developers and designers all over the world. They contribute with design themes and plugins for everyone to use and are always eager to help and answer questions. I use WordPress and recommend it to all the beginners.

How to get your blog up and running in 5 minutes

This is the exact step-by-step process that I follow when I launch a new blog. No prior experience or tech-knowledge is necessary.

There is no cost for WordPress itself but you do need a domain name (the address people will type to get access to your blog) and a server space (where your content and files are hosted) to run it.

There is a lot of competition between the different web hosts which makes the cost of starting a blog low. It costs about $35 to get your own domain name and a hosting account for an entire year. And it will take you about 5 minutes to get your WordPress blog online with the 1-click install feature.

WordPress users offerThere are several capable and affordable hosting providers. I recommend Bluehost for the easiest setup process.

They offer a free domain name, 24/7 live support and WordPress recommends them. More than 2 million blogs are hosted there and you can get started at $2.95 per month.

Here’s the step-by-step process to start your blog in 5 minutes:

  1. Visit Bluehost and click “Get started now.
  2. Select the “Basic” plan at $2.95 per month. It’s recommended for beginner bloggers.
  3. Type in your chosen domain name and click on “Next“.
  4. Bluehost tries to upsell several other services such as SEO help and these combined can add about $9 extra to your monthly cost. All these are uneccesary so I recommend you deselect them all. To get the lowest price you need to sign up for 36 months. The total price for having your blog up and running for 3 full years is $106.20.
  5. Fill in your personal information, your payment details and click on “Submit“.
  6. Your account is now open. Set your Bluehost account password on this page.
  7. Now it’s time to install your blog. Click on “WordPress Tools” in the top menu.
  8. Fill in your blog’s name, the username/password combination you want to use and click on “Install WordPress“. You’ll be able to change any of these at a later stage too.
  9. It will take a minute to setup your blog and you’ll get an email with the subject line “New WordPress Site” when it’s done.
  10. Congratulations! You now officially own a domain name and your blog is live. Anyone can access it by going to yourdomain.com. You can go to yourdomain.com/wp-admin/ and explore the WordPress admin section.

Disclosure: I do earn a commission if you sign-up using my link at no additional cost to you. Please know that I only recommend products that I find helpful and useful. If you do choose to buy through my link, thank you for your support!

How to get started with the WordPress Admin Dashboard

WordPress admin dashboard is where all the magic happens. There is a medium-sized learning curve to get used to it so do take some time to explore the opportunities and possibilities now open to you. Here’s a brief introduction to the different sections:

WordPress Dashboard navigation

  • “Dashboard” features all the announcements such as the latest updates to the WordPress software and stats. You can edit the elements to suit your needs.
  • In “Posts” you can write your first blog article. Posts are the main content of your blog. Posts traditionally feature a published on date in the byline and are placed in a reverse chronological order on a traditional blog homepage.
  • In “Posts > Categories” you can group your posts into topics and allow users to find your content easier. A category page lists all the posts from that category. These pages are very useful to give your visitors an access point to dig deeper into your content.
  • “Posts > Tags” are similar to categories but they are just used more specifically. While I might have a category called ”Celebrity style” I might put a celebrity’s name as a tag to a post. A tag page showcases all the posts that are tagged with that specific keyword.
  • In “Media” you can upload your multimedia and get a list of all the imagery and videos you have uploaded.
  • “Pages” are more strategic than posts and are not updated daily. They are traditionally placed in the navigation menu and contain more static information such as an “About page” or a contact form.
  • In “Comments” you see all the comments posted by your visitors. You can reply to the comments and moderate the conversation.
  • In “Appearance > Themes” you can discover beautiful design themes that can make your blog look pretty. There are thousands of them.
  • In “Appearance > Customize” you can edit your chosen theme to make your blog look any way that you want in terms of fonts, colors and more.
  • In “Appearance > Menus” you can set up your navigation menu.
  • In “Appearance > Widgets” you can set up the look and features of your sidebar.
  • In “Plugins” you can find and activate powerful plugins to extend the functionality of WordPress. There’s a plugin for anything and here’s a list of some of my favorite plugins.
  • In “Users” you can edit your user profile or add other people who will be your collaborators.
  • In “Tools” you can import content from your old blogs, such as your Blogger blog.
  • In “Settings” you can change the name of your blog, add the tagline and do other useful tweaks.

8 to-dos to make your new blog awesome

Bluehost helps take away some of the hassle of running WordPress by doing some maintenance work for you automatically such as keeping your software, themes and plugins up to date.

There are still few other things I recommend you do before working on your first blog post. These will help you tweak the look and feel of your blog and get you started with a bang. Here’s a to-do list that I go through as soon as I install a new WordPress blog:

1. Fill in “Site Title” and “Tagline” (In Settings > General)

You don’t want your blog to be “just another WordPress site”, which is the default tagline in WordPress. That doesn’t tell your visitor much about what you do. You should make one up for yourself. In your WordPress admin settings write your title in “Site Title” and explain what your blog is about in the “Tagline”.

2. Activate your preferred design theme (In Appereance – Themes)

By default you will have several design themes made by the people behind WordPress. These are decent options to start with but there are thousands of other design options. So explore the available themes and choose one that you prefer. Remember that it is easy to change the theme at any time that you wish. Changing themes doesn’t affect your content at all. All of it remains untouched no matter what theme you’re using.

Default WordPress design themes

For more on picking the perfect theme see: How To Design Your Blog And Make It Look Pretty (2018 Update).

3. Activate plugins to add extra features and functionality

There’s a WordPress plugin for anything. Any feature or functionality that you can think of or that you have seen on other blogs and want to have it too. All without any tech know-how. Most plugins work out of the box. Here’s my list of The 50 Best WordPress Plugins For Your Blog.

4. Remove the generic content that comes with WordPress

WordPress comes with several default items such as an introductory post, a welcome page and some preinstalled plugins. You can safely get rid of all of them.

5. Give visitors the choice of how they want to hear from you

It’s important for you to retain some of your first time visitors to make them come back and become loyal fans. The most efficient way of doing this is to get them to sign up to your mailing list. Check out my full guide on starting your own newsletter.

Social media can also be a useful place for you to make people aware of your blog and attract them to come visit your articles. Create profiles on a few handpicked and relevant platforms where your target audience is and link back to your blog. Start networking, engaging and building your following from day one. Then make it easy for your blog visitors to follow you in social media.

6. Create an About page

Make an introductory page where you explain about your project, about yourself and what your blog helps people with. Tell people what your purpose and your mission is. Don’t be shy. Include a picture of yourself.

Your “About Me” page isn’t about you at all, it’s about your audience. It should convince them to stay and explore more. The more concise and kick-ass your story, the easier it will be for your audience to get to like you, subscribe and even share with their friends. Your about page should answer these questions:

  1. Who are you?
  2. What do you do for your audience?
  3. What makes you qualified to post about a certain topic?

7. Add a contact form to your About page

Let people get in touch. This will be very useful to get feedback, to get connected to other bloggers and maybe even attract sponsors. It’s very simple and effective to add a contact form. Just use a plugin such as Contact Form 7.

8. Activate comment spam blocker (In Plugins)

Many spammers use WordPress comment areas to promote pages where they sell dubious products. You don’t want these in your own comments area. Luckily, the solution is simple with one of the spam blockers such as Akismet. Do check my detailed guide on eliminating WordPress comment spam.

Get friendly with Google and other search engines

Search engines are an important source of traffic for most blogs. These are the five steps you should take to make sure that your blog can be discovered by Google and other search engines.

1. Switch on your SSL certificate

A free SSL certificate for your domain name is included in your Bluehost account. It protects your visitors and their sensitive details such as credit card info, usernames, passwords, contact form messages and more.

Google Chrome warns its users when visiting websites without the SSL certificate installed so it’s recommended that you turn it on. Click on “WordPress Tools” in your Bluehost account, choose “Security” in the left hand navigation, and enable the “free SSL certificate”.

It may take up to an hour for your domain to update, but when it does your URL will start with https instead of http, your visitors will be safe and Google will be happy and might send you extra traffic.

2. Make permalinks short and pretty (In Settings > Permalinks)

Your permalinks are the URL’s of your articles. You don’t want your URL’s to be something as generic as domainname.com/123456. Change it in your WordPress settings to actually spell out the name of your post by selecting the field called “Post name”. Your post URL’s will now be domainname.com/post-name. It is a well-structured, short and search engine friendly permalink.

3. Install Google Analytics to start tracking visitors

Google Analytics is a useful tool to track and analyse your blog visitors. This data will help you make better future decisions such as what type of topics to cover and where to go to attract more visitors. This plugin makes it easy to embed the Google Analytics code into your blog. You can also check out my guide on how you should use Google Analytics.

4. Create a sitemap to help Google learn about your content

Your sitemap lists all the posts and pages that are accessible for search engines. Having a sitemap helps Google (and other search engines) learn more about your content, rank it in their search results and send you blog traffic.

The easiest way of implementing an XML Sitemap on your blog is to use one of the free plugins such as WordPress SEO and Google XML Sitemaps. The plugin updates the sitemap automatically when you publish new content so there is no need to do anything after you activate it.

5. Add your blog to Google’s Search Console

Search Console is a useful tool to track the progress of your blog in search engines and for Google to give you feedback on what you can improve.

  1. Create your Search Console account and verify your blog.
  2. Submit your XML Sitemap link directly to Google.
  3. Choose your site Preferred domain – either with or without www. Make sure this is consistent with the URL you use in your WordPress admin (In Settings > General > WordPress Address URL).

Here’s everything else you need to know to get your blog on top of Google’s search results.

Publishing your first blog post

You now have a pretty looking and optimised blog, but starting a blog is much easier than creating and publishing the first blog post. More than 50% of all blogs never publish a single post. Let’s make sure this doesn’t happen to you.

Get into the WordPress post editor, compose the best post that you can and publish it. Be realistic. Your first post will most probably suck. Only your mother might like it. You will have no visitors and no clicks on that Facebook like button.

WordPress post editor

Don’t just give up if you feel like you haven’t reached your high expectations. Manage your expectations better. Even the biggest bloggers published posts that sucked early on. What separates the best bloggers from the rest is that while failing they were learning the fundamentals of creating great content that answers questions real people have and that adds value to the lives of visitors.

You are starting from almost zero and building your way up, learning from all the bad content you put out there and all the experience that you gain. Focus your time and efforts on learning the craft of creating amazing blog content. It takes a lot of time to master it but you can get help from people who have been there before.

See my guide: How To Stop Publishing Generic, Boring And Forgettable Blog Content.

How do I get blog visitors?

Visitors won’t just come after you publish your first post. You will have to go out and get those first visitors. If you don’t do this not many people will know about you. Get comfortable about reaching out to people and promoting your content.

A good idea is to have a marketing routine that you go through every time after you have published a new piece of content.

Here’s some help with marketing: 40 Places To Promote Your Content And Get Visitors.

How do I make money blogging?

Know that blogging is not going to get you rich quick. Big things are possible and you should dream about reaching them but do not expect it to happen to you overnight. No matter what you have heard from other sources.

The good news is that by following the previous steps of publishing great content and taking massive action to atract an audience, you are well on your way to start making money from your blog too.

Making money from your blogging

There are many ways to monetize your content. Affiliate marketing is one that many bloggers start with and that I highly recommend for beginners.

See my guide on How To Make First $500 From Your Blog.

Happy blogging!

By taking all of the steps outlined in this post you will already do more than most people do. Other people keep talking and dreaming and you are not one of them. You have published that first post despite being fearful of the feedback. You are actually in the field working and trying to get visitors.

There are very few core, fundamental keys to blogging, and consistency is definitely one of them. The reason most blogs fail is simply because the author stops updating them. The hardest part is the initial hurdle, so decide now that you’re going to keep at it. Make a promise to show up again tomorrow. Commit yourself to posting on a regular schedule. Put in the effort and you will create a momentum.

Blogging is a lot of work, takes up a lot of your day and is hard to get away from.  It’s about performing consistently day after day and building an audience few people at a time. Slowly but surely your blog will grow. Your reputation in the industry will increase. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. There is a long road ahead and you should enjoy it!

Do you have other questions? Take a look at My Answers To The Most Frequently Asked Questions About Blogging.

The post How To Start A Blog In 2018: The Beginner’s Guide appeared first on HowToMakeMyBlog.

How To Design Your Blog And Make It Look Pretty (2018 Update)

“How do I design my blog?” is one of the most frequently asked questions from new bloggers. This guide will help you answer that question.

The design of your blog is fundamental. The better looking a blog is, the more memorable it will be for the visitors. More of them will stick to it, subscribe, return and share it with their friends on social media. Let’s have a look at steps you need to take to create a great looking blog design.

WordPress is the platform of choice

The first step in creating an amazingly designed blog that visitors love is to pick the right blogging platform that allows you a wide range of design possibilities. WordPress is my platform of choice. I love it and run all my blogs on it.

It’s an open-source platform that powers more than 75 million blogs and more than 25% of the total web. Using WordPress will save you weeks of time and a lot of money as you won’t need to build (or pay someone to build) a design from scratch.

The community behind WordPress has created more than 2,500 of design themes that are beautiful and feature-rich. You’ll have plenty of choice for selecting the design template that works for you.

WordPress needs a domain name and a web server space to work.

WordPress users offerI recommend Bluehost.

They offer a free domain name, 24/7 live support and WordPress recommends them.

More than 2 million WordPress blogs are hosted there.

And you can get hosted at $2.95 per month.

Click here to get started now.

The whole process will take you some five minutes and you’ll have your shiny new blog live and running!

Disclosure: I do earn a commission if you sign-up using my link at no additional cost to you. Please know that I only recommend products that I find helpful and useful. If you do choose to buy through my link, thank you for your support!

How to find a great quality design theme

I suggest you access your WordPress admin and get yourself familiarized with the “Appearance” section on the left-hand side navigation. Majority of your design options will be in there. You can search for, review and install themes there. You can create your navigation menu, change your blog’s header logo and edit the widgets in your sidebar.

Explore and test the free themes as they are a great starting point for a new blogger. WordPress “Customise” section allows you to preview how your blog and your content looks like when using a particular theme. It’s easy to switch between and test different designs until you find the perfect one. It doesn’t affect your content at all. All of it remains untouched no matter what theme you’re using.

Click “Themes” within the “Appearance” menu and then “Add New” on top of that page to discover the different design opportunities.

Add a new theme

Try for example and browse through “Featured” or through “Popular” or “Latest”:

Discover beautiful themes

Or use the “Feature Filter” to find more specific themes with exact features that you are looking for. You can sort by color, layout, features and specific subjects:

Feature filter

Each design theme has a page with further details. This can help you make a better decision. Learn more details and see how the theme would look on your blog. When you find a design theme that you like simply click on “Install” to activate it on your blog. Some things to look out for:

  1. Last updated date should be recent. You want your theme to be compatible and functioning correctly with all the latest WordPress updates. Older themes might break in most recent versions of the software.
  2. Active installs shows you how many blogs use the theme right now. The more the better as it shows that the theme is quality, but watch out not to have your blog look like thousands of other blogs.
  3. Ratings number between 1 and 5 stars. The higher the rating the better the theme may be.
  4. Look through the reviews to see what people are saying about the theme.
  5. Does the developer actively respond and help people? WordPress is continuously changing and your theme needs upgrades and latest bug fixes to continue serving you.
  6. Is the theme actively maintained, updated and supported by a reputable developer or company?
  7. Preview the theme to see how it actually looks like for a visitor.

An alternate way to find a design is to go to your favorite blogs and see what design they use. When you find a blog that you love it’s pretty simple to see what design it uses. In many cases, there will be a template name or link in the footer of the blog, or you can right-click in your browser and click “View Source”.

Take a look at the code. You will see lines with /wp-content/themes/something/. The folder after /themes/ will be the name of the theme. When you have the name, search for it and test it out on your blog.

Mobile phones and responsive blog design

Mobile phone traffic

Smartphone sales have overtaken computer sales. Mobile traffic has surpassed desktop traffic worldwide. Mobile and tablet devices accounted for more than 55% of global internet traffic in 2017.

Finding a design that looks great on smaller screens or touch based screens is another key consideration. Responsive design is a smart design that adapts itself to the screen size of the device the user is browsing with and provides optimal viewing experience for visitors. It works on everything from large desktop monitors to small screens on mobile devices.

Google recommends responsive design as the best way to configure your design because it is easier for the user and there is no need for redirection like on other mobile solutions. If you want to check how your WordPress theme works on mobile devices, take this Mobile-Friendly Test from Google.

Best free WordPress design themes for 2018

This is the list of some of the most impressive free WordPress themes that I have handpicked for your inspiration. They feature everything you should be looking for in a blog design.

They’re beautiful, minimalist, mobile responsive, clean coded, fast loading, lightweight, constantly updated and fully supported by the developers and the community. “Twenty Seventeen” is even made by the people behind WordPress.

There are many commercial premium design themes and premium marketplaces too. These you have to pay to use (usually in the range of $30-80) but if you’re just starting out I think one of the great free themes below is more than enough.

Optimizer

Optimizer

Responsive

Responsive

Hueman

Hueman

Attitude

Attitude

Vantage

Vantage

Twenty Seventeen

Twenty Seventeen

Wilson

Wilson WordPress Theme

 

GeneratePress

Generatepress

Ignite

Ignite WordPress Theme

Use a Page Builder to make things easier for yourself

The easiest possible solution is to simply pick a theme that you really love as it is and have no need to customize. Then you’re ready to go and conquer your niche as soon as you activate the theme.

If you’re not comfortable with coding, then it’s best to choose a theme that makes it easy to edit and customize even with no coding skills. The ability to customize your blog design with a simple and easy interface varies a lot from one WordPress theme to another. Some have drag-and-drop, user-friendly interface. Some can only be edited and customized by CSS and coding.

Most themes are not easy to edit and that’s where page builders come into the picture. Page builders are plugins that work on top of any theme and allow you to build and customize your layout with a simple drag and drop interface and no need for coding. Page builders allow you to create a professional and unique looking blog without any design know-how.

How would you like to present your content? What colors do you want to use? Would you like your posts and pages to be very unique and different from each other? Would you like to have one sidebar or two sidebars or maybe none? Would you like sidebars on the left or the right or both sides of the content? Would you like a big call to action? Or a full-width section? All these and many more are easy to do with the help of page builders.

These are the three most popular Page Builders that I recommend you try and choose the one that fits you best:

Page Builder by SiteOrigin

Siteorigin page builder

Elementor Page Builder

Elementor page builder

Beaver Builder

Beaver Builder

Which fonts and font sizes would you like on your blog?

Font, font size, spacing between letters and line height all have a big impact on how your visitors feel when reading online. Screen resolutions are increasing which means that you need to make your content more readable for these new screens.

Larger font makes your blog more clear and easy to look at. Sans-Serif Fonts are best suited for digital content while you want your font size to be a 16pt at a minimum and should go even more to 20pt+ for best results.

Some WordPress themes are very well optimised for typography out of the box. Page Builders make it easier for you to change these yourself.

You should also install Easy Google Fonts plugin which makes it easy to change your fonts and font sizes in the different areas of your blog in a simple and visual way. The plugin gives you access to hundreds of beautiful web fonts for you to pick from and use.

Google fonts for blogs

Become a color master

All the good themes already come with their own color schemes but if you’re going to customize your post background color, font color, logo and more, it’s good for you to learn a bit about colors. Color palettes can make or break your blog post.

As a non-professional designer, I tend to get inspired by big brands and colors that they use. This is a perfect website for you to see what color palettes big brands use. These companies have many people working on their branding and have done extensive research, so it’s useful to learn from them. I also like this site for a wide range of great looking palettes.

Colors also convey meanings so it’s useful to be aware of what your content is projecting when you’re using a certain color.

Color meanings

Your logo and navigation menu are first things visitors see

Having a great header section is important as that is the first thing people see when entering your blog. It’s what makes you stand out and be recognizable in the endless pool of bloggers.

Make sure your header looks professional and showcases your personality and what your blog is about. The purpose of your blog has to be clear and immediately evident to your first-time visitors.

Many sites now fix their navigation menus to the top of your browser window so the menu follows you as you scroll down the page. This helps the visitor easily navigate your blog at any time and gets them to explore your content deeper. For this to work best, you should think about what pages or posts you want to put into your navigation to best present your blog.

  • People like familiarity so make your visitor feel at home. Include a clear navigation menu at the top with links to contact, about page, services etc. WordPress makes it simple to create navigation menus within the “Appearance” section of your admin.
  • Introduce yourself right off the bat with a welcoming message and smile. Ingrain your personality. Include your image. Your blog is unique, but only because of YOU, so make sure your visitors see this as soon as possible.
  • Include a descriptive but brief tagline. Tell visitors what’s in store for them, what your blog is about and what problems your content will solve for them.
  • Distinctive logos can work wonders too. Many blogs feature text based logos. These can work great, especially if you’re using one of the cool fonts I mentioned earlier in this post. There are also some fast logo makers for non-designers such as this one.
  • If you want people to stick around, make it easy for them to find your content. Display popular posts, key guides, and have a prominent search field. Consider a live search plugin that works very much like Facebook or Google search works. Upon starting to type a search query your visitor will get a drop down of your posts. It is a faster way to search.
  • Display social proof such as social media follower size, number of social media shares and number of comments. If visitors see that your blog is popular, frequented and shared a lot then there is a greater chance they will stick around. If all these people like this blog then there must be other good stuff around. Use WordPress plugins to integrate social proof.

To sidebar or not to sidebar

Sidebars tend to be very cluttered with things like social media buttons, search buttons, archives, ads and even word clouds. And for mobile visitors they load all the way at the bottom of the screen contributing to a slow loading speed.

Review your sidebar. Do you really need everything that’s in your sidebar? How can you make it more focused so it leads your visitor to discover your content deeper and access your key posts? Do you need a sidebar at all?

When scrolling through a post you would have the sidebar towards the top but the more you scroll, the more white space there would as the sidebar is finished. This is a waste of valuable space.

Put in a sticky widget in your sidebar so it scrolls through with the visitor. You could have a subscription widget sticky to increase number of subscribers or social media followers. Or you can stick your popular posts to get more clicks and help people discover more of your content. Q2W3 Fixed Widget plugin allows you to do this.

Every blog post is a potential starting point to a visitor

It’s not all about your blog’s home page design. Majority of your first time visitors come directly to your individual blog posts. Social news feeds and search engines tend to drive people deeper. These visitors might never see your home page.

Bloggers tend to focus on their home page too much spending a lot of time prettying it up and neglecting the posts themselves. Your home page should be optimized but don’t neglect the rest of your blog.

“Keep it simple, stupid” to have a fast loading blog

First time visitors take less than a few seconds to decide if your blog is worth exploring. You have to get their attention and get it fast with an effective blog design. Think of usability. Visitors should enjoy not only the aesthetics of your blog but also the ease of use, page speed and user-friendliness.

Consider how the design affects your blog’s speed and the visitor’s experience and aim for your blog to be loaded within a couple of seconds at most.

Make your blog easy on the eyes and clutter free. Less is more in modern blog (and web) design. Simplicity rules. It gives your visitors a better experience when browsing your content. It puts more emphasis on the content itself and makes your blog load faster.

  • Ignore and remove inessential design elements that don’t matter. Remove buttons, widgets, ads, pop-ups and other distractions. Just because every other blog has them, it doesn’t mean that you need to have them too.
  • Do you actually need all those social media share and follow buttons? Do they actually get any clicks or do they just distract people? Focus on those buttons that have the biggest impact with your audience. And use the lightweight versions instead of the official buttons.
  • Refrain from adding what is not necessary in the first place. Think about what purpose any design element has? You don’t need features that nobody has asked for and that nobody is using. Focus on quality, not on quantity to make room for those elements that do make a difference.

See my complete guide: 12 Easy Ways To Speed Up Your WordPress Blog Loading Time

Time to get started

Whatever you do just don’t spend too much time thinking about your design. No matter how beautiful and pretty your blog is, it will never grow without you spending time on creating great content and attracting visitors. Get your blog out into the wild quickly. It’s the real world and real people that will lead you towards making better design decisions in the future. So do pick a design and start blogging!

The post How To Design Your Blog And Make It Look Pretty (2018 Update) appeared first on HowToMakeMyBlog.

Need Blog Post Ideas? These 17 Sources Of Inspiration Work Every Time

Finding content ideas

Your job as a blogger is to publish exciting blog content that people enjoy and want to share with their network. This requires a consistent stream of great blog post ideas.

Generating blog post ideas is one of the main challenges for bloggers but you cannot afford to sit and wait for inspiration to strike.

Use these tips to spark fresh blog post ideas and blast away at a new content piece with a sense of purpose. They will get you into the writing zone and you will not get stuck for blog post ideas again.

Keep an ideas document and never start with an empty page

The worst thing that can happen to an idea is to let it slip through your fingers like sand. Inspiration comes and goes in a flash so make sure to capture it.

Be well-organized and keep an ideas document. These ideas can be in the form of irresistible sounding headlines, questions you were asked, a quote or a paragraph that you read and that created a spark.

Keep the document synced between your devices to look it up or use it for on-the-spot note taking when something new comes to your mind. Google Docs and Simplenote are two of my favorite tools for keeping an ideas doc. You can also use the drafts feature in your WordPress admin.

Is it time for you to create a new piece of blog content? Don’t just start with a blank screen and an empty page. Now is not the time to brainstorm and think of great content ideas.

Starting from scratch without a reserve supply of ideas, you will get stuck and create a rushed, inadequate job. When it’s time to work on a new blog post, you simply open your ideas document as a reference. Your ideas are ready to be put into action. Pick the idea you want to work on and off you go.

Learn what works for your competitors and do it better

One of the easiest ways to come up with new and brilliant article ideas is to monitor your competitors. And one of the best ways to judge the quality of their content is to see which of their articles are most shared in social media. If people are sharing their content, it shows that there is an interest and demand for this idea. Use tools like Buzzsumo to search for and identify most shared content of any website.

So you collect all the most shared topics of your competitors and create your own content about those and similar topics too. The key is to make your content much better than the content they already published. Expand on it, make it more detailed, easier to understand, more educational or more entertaining. Be more visual too. Add graphics, do podcasts on the topic and create videos.

Take a look at my guide on how to publish amazing content that people want to read and share.

Learn from the most shared content online

Many other people are doing it right in the online publishing world. Identify them. Monitor them for new ideas. There are valuable things that you can learn.

Follow a broad range of websites. Look at sites like BuzzFeed, Upworthy and others that push the boundaries of online content.

Figure out how they do it. Analyze what makes an article shareable. Look at headlines that work. Look at how they format and present the content. See what people are saying in the comments area. Get inspired but don’t copy them. Model your blog posts on things that work and put your personal spin on things.

Look into the social memes and trending topics

Publishers such as BuzzFeed regularly scour the web for ideas, figuring out which are worth pursuing. They discover stuff that is already a minor trend in a niche community, make it better and make it a bigger hit.

Keep an eye on the latest happenings within your field. Explore memes, trending topics and other relevant trends to discover what people are interested in.

What your potential audience is talking about. See how you may be able to take advantage of these in your content.

It’s not only about following the trending topics on Instagram and Facebook. Subscribe to relevant topics via Google Alerts. Follow search trends via Google Hot Trends. Here are some more interesting resources:

Discover questions real people are asking

Use question-answer platforms such as Yahoo Answers and Quora to find questions real people are asking. Look at a site such as AnswerThePublic that aggregates user questions.

The nature of these sites means they’re popular with beginners and newbies to a topic. They have a huge database of questions, and they also give you an idea of how many people are interested in knowing the answer.

Pick up the ones associated with your niche area and those you have expertise in. Respond to these questions on your blog and become a resource on that topic.

Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience

Try to think like a beginner to your topic would think. What type of questions do they have? What problems are they looking to solve? What would they type in the search engine to find content related to your blog? What websites and other resources will they be looking at?

Try to remember also how your journey went when you were a newbie. What steps did you take in those early days and since then to get to where you are now? What were your main challenges? Get all these points into your ideas document and start creating content that helps people get ahead.

Structure your blog content by themes

Be creative and come up with different themes that can become regular features in your content calendar. Then you don’t always have to start from scratch.

Users love these. Just look at the usage of trending hashtags such as #ThrowbackThursday and #Caturday.

What could the equivalent be for your community? Friday could be “the preview of the weekend” post. Wednesday could be “the user of the week”. The first week of a new month can be the time to review the previous month and notable things that have happened.

Experiment with new blog post types and formats

If you’re always posting the same kind of post, the easiest way to get creative and bring fresh ideas is to switch up the format. Are you stuck always posting how-to guides and have no more ideas? Try something different. The creative options are limitless when you leave your go-to format behind.

  • Success/failure stories. Look inwards and tell about your past success/failures and what you have learned from the experience.
  • Quote. Quote someone and add your own commentary to the quote.
  • Infographic. Create an infographic with a bunch of facts, stats and quotes on a topic.
  • Leaderboard. Create a leaderboard ranking of people, sites, locations, events and similar.
  • Behind the scenes. Be open and show people what’s happening in your life.
  • Ask me anything. Answer reader questions in a complete post.
  • Link out. Link to a post from another site and add your opinion to the topic.
  • Guides and tutorials. Write how-to guides and tutorials where you lead the visitor in the step-by-step instructional process.
  • Video it. Create a YouTube video where you talk directly to the camera or record your computer screen explaining a certain process.
  • Webinar. Do a webinar, record it and publish it on its own.
  • Listicle. Do a top list post, focus on long lists as those top 3 or top 5 posts have lost their novelty.
  • Curated link/resources post. Collect a list of interesting links, articles and resources on a topic.
  • Rant. Be controversial. Write a rant about a topic, an event or a person.
  • Post series. Create an engaging post series by spreading a story or a guide over several posts.
  • Reviews and unboxing. Review a product or a service that is relevant to your audience. Do unboxing videos too.
  • Comparison. Do a detailed comparison between two or more competitive products in your niche. Benchmark multiple items against each other and crown a winner.
  • Book review. Read a book and write your opinion about it, include lessons learned from reading it.
  • Quotes from a book. Collect best quotes from the book you’ve read and publish them with your comments.
  • Ultimate or top list post. Aggregate your best content on a specific topic, put an irresistible headline on it and publish as the ultimate guide or a top list of places, tools, or people in your niche.
  • Influencer list. Collect the most influential people in a field.
  • Cheat sheet or a checklist. Create a cheat sheet or a checklist list to help people go through a specific topic.
  • Quiz. Create a quiz and allow people to take your quiz.
  • Stats/revenue post. Write a post with a summary of your visitors, sales and earnings.
  • Survey. Do a survey, collect all the answer, analyse the findings and publish them.
  • Contest. Do a contest on your site and giveaway a prize.
  • Ebook. Collect several of your posts on a topic, style and edit them and publish them as a free e-book download.
  • Photo/GIF post. Collect best images from an event and publish them in an image post. Or just do GIF’s.
  • White paper or a case study. Create a report or a white paper on a topical topic in your industry.
  • Challenge. Set a challenge for yourself and your audience and follow-up on the progress.
  • FAQ. Collect all the frequently asked questions, answer them and release them as the ultimate FAQ.
  • Roundup. Create a roundup post after events, releases and other important happenings.

Simply read a lot and learn constantly

Reading helps you get fresh ideas, a different point-of-view, and another perspective. A quote from Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood novel tells it like this: “If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking”.

Look out of your field, and use the fresh outside perspective to find inspiration for your blog content. Read a variety of sources both online and offline. Expose yourself to entirely different, random viewpoints to truly spark creativity.

As I read, ideas for new posts just fly from the pages into my mind. I highlight words, phrases, and quotes that I can later use. Think how you can turn these into meaningful posts and capture it all in your ideas document.

Summarize the best-selling books on your topic. Take your favorite concepts from these books and write about them from your perspective with examples from your own experience.

Keep reading and learning. Do a lot of research. Read about the same subject that you’re covering too. Read the blogs in your field. Find examples to inspire your own stories, make notes on topics so you don’t miss anything out on your own blog.

Time to read

Comment on and document the world

Sometimes it’s useful to document the world rather than having to create new content from scratch. Your blog content doesn’t always have to be all about your thoughts and advice. You could talk to the world and facilitate the conversation on your blog too.

Get in touch with interesting people and interview them. Get them to answer some popular questions. Publish the answers on your blog. Feature their stories and lessons learned. You could also combine the answers from more than one person into one larger story.

Browse the best-selling books

Books and ebooks are not to be neglected. Looking at what type of fiction and non-fiction books people are reading can help you come up with content ideas too. Look at Amazon’s Best Selling section. Browse through lists such as “Movers And Shakers” and “Most Wished For”.

Analyze the search volumes

Use a keyword tool such as Google Keyword Planner to help you identify what topics people search for in search engines. The higher the search volume is, the more potential there is in an idea.

Attend meetups, conferences, and seminars

There are many conferences, seminars, and other events you could attend. All the time. Both online and offline. For free even. Look at exploring Meetups in your area.

All you need to do is attend, listen, reflect, talk to people and then act. The topics discussed at these events center on people’s problems, questions and how to solve them. Exact content ideas that you need.

Keep track of what your blog visitors are saying

Keep track of what your visitors search for in the search box on your blog. Search Meter WordPress plugin records the searches and whether visitors find what they’re looking for.

Study your comments area. What questions are people asking? What common problems are they discussing? Jot down the problems and give people what they want.

Update your existing blog content to make it relevant again

Just because you already published a blog post on a particular topic last year doesn’t mean that you have to leave it outdated and irrelevant. You can rework the article.

Update your existing post and make it timely and relevant again. Improve the content, add fresh information to it, include complementary imagery and video. Then republish the post and share it with your audience again.

Don’t be afraid. Most people haven’t seen it the first time around. Those that have might have forgotten about it. In any case, updated, relevant and useful content is always attracting to everyone.

Get offline, live, and let the muse come to you

Sometimes you just cannot force inspiration. You might not have anything to say. You may not be in the mood for creating content.

Let your procrastination be the natural filter. Rest in the fact that it helps you relax and eventually find the inspiration you need.

Disconnect, live, and experience things. Get out among people and find stories. They are everywhere.

Be aware of your environment. Look at the world with the “I’ve got to post about this” mindset and ideas will come. Train your ear to know when something of interest has happened or has been said. Note it all down in your valuable ideas document.

Write every day

The best way to make progress is to make a commitment to write every single day. Sit down, open an empty text file or your WordPress blog editor and make sure to write. Just write. Write 500 words, even 1,000 words. Write them every day, consistently, no matter what.

Writing is like any other skill. The more you do it, the better you are going to get at it. Don’t be a perfectionist. Don’t worry about the quality of the things that you write. It’s better to write anything than to write nothing at all.

Just write. Write like you talk. You will edit later. You can add extra explanation later too.

Get into the habit of doing a bit of writing every single day and new ideas will flow. All of the ideas in this article boil down to you developing a momentum. Once you hit your stride, you will see that coming up with new blog post ideas is not all that difficult. You will never look back.

The post Need Blog Post Ideas? These 17 Sources Of Inspiration Work Every Time appeared first on HowToMakeMyBlog.

The 50 Best WordPress Plugins For Your Blog In 2017

Best free WordPress blog plugins

Plugins are like software that extends your WordPress blog. You can use a plugin to improve the look and feel of your blog design or to add new features or functionality to your blog.

Over the years I have tested many of the most downloaded WordPress plugins. Activating a handful of essential plugins is one of the first things I do after starting a new blog.

In this post, you will learn how to install a WordPress plugin to your blog. I will also share some of the best plugins that you must have.

Discover best free plugins in the official plugin directory

There’s a plugin for everything. As of October 2017, there are more than 52,000 free WordPress plugins in the official plugin directory. There have been more than a billion and a half plugin downloads in total.

Take a look at the official directory or see the plugin section of your WordPress blog admin dashboard. Just click on Plugins in the left-hand sidebar of your dashboard and click on “Add New”.

There you have a list of featured plugins. You can also view “Popular” (most downloaded plugins) and “Recommended” (according to the other plugins you have installed) lists. There’s also the search box for deeper discovery.

Every plugin features a page with the plugin description, number of active installs, the user rating, and last updated date. To learn more about a particular plugin you can also view screenshots, FAQ and the reviews.

These are some of the signs to look out for to find a good WordPress plugin:

  • High number of downloads and active installs
  • Regular updates and a recent latest update date
  • Good ratings and reviews from the users
  • Developer that’s accessible and answers user questions
  • Compatible with your WordPress blog version

How to install a WordPress plugin on your blog

Most plugins can be implemented to your blog with little hassle. You don’t need to know how to code. Just install a plugin, activate it, and job done.

When you find a plugin that you want to try within your WordPress dashboard, click on the name, and then click on the “Install Now” button.

Plugin overview

Click on “Ok” in the pop-up window to finish the install process. When the installation is complete, click on “Activate Plugin”.

Activate the plugin

The new plugin is now live. Most plugins will work out of the box as soon as you activate them. Some will need you to go through the “Settings” section to set them up.

If you wish to delete a plugin, go to the “Plugins” section and click on the “Installed Plugins”. Click on “Deactivate”, then click on “Delete” to remove the files. On the next page, click on “Yes, delete these files”.

Mo plugins mo problems?

A word of warning first.

Keep in mind that adding too many plugins can make your blog heavy and slow to load.

More plugins can also add more security vulnerabilities to your blog. It’s not uncommon to hear about thousands of blogs being exposed to different attacks due to a bad plugin.

It’s also more likely that you could introduce code conflicts between plugins and any custom work you have done on your theme design.

You don’t want your plugins to break your blog or the latest WordPress update to break your plugins.

Make sure you only use plugins that are necessary to achieve a better usability and user experience.

Don’t go overboard installing too many. Keep it simple, light and fast.

Keep an eye on your blog’s speed and performance. If a plugin is not what you expected or you no longer use it, just delete it.

There’s even a plugin that will help you find plugins that slow your blog down: P3 Profiler. Install it to measure the impact of plugins on your page load.

P3

Take a look at my guide for more ways to speed up your WordPress blog.

Now let’s get started with a list of best free and premium WordPress plugins that you should explore:

The mother of all plugins: Jetpack

Jetpack

Jetpack is an all-in-one plugin that offers many features and is created by the folks that make WordPress.

Jetpack is one of the very few plugins I would recommend to any blogger.

Using Jetpack can help you reduce the number of other plugins you need to run on your blog.

By installing Jetpack you can integrate the following features into your blog:

  • Akismet anti-spam filter to block and remove spam comments,
  • two-step authentication to make your blog login more secure,
  • visitor stats to learn about your visitors and how they use your blog,
  • contact form to allow people to get in touch with you,
  • the ability to automatically share your newly published posts to your social channels,
  • social media icons for your sidebar so people can follow your social profiles easily,
  • social media sharing buttons so people can share your content,
  • related posts so people can explore your blog,
  • the ability for users to subscribe to posts and comments,
  • mobile responsive design to make your blog looks great on mobile devices,
  • infinite scroll to have a more engaging presentation of content,
  • advanced spell checking to help you write better content,
  • prevent brute force attacks to further secure your blog,
  • monitor downtime to alert you when your blog is down,
  • CDN to speed up the loading time of your images,
  • image gallery to beautiful display your blog photos,
  • the ability to automatically update your plugins,
  • generate XML sitemaps and help search engines discover your content,
  • ability to verify your blog with search engines such as Google.

Do install it and review all the different options before continuing your plugin hunt. Chances are Jetpack will cover all your plugin needs.

50 best WordPress plugins (if you need more than Jetpack)

Here’s the rest of the list of the best WordPress plugins.

I don’t advise you to activate all of these on every blog. Review the list and see if some of these are relevant to your needs.

They are all great and recommended plugins but not all of them are useful for every blog.

On top of the Jetpack plugin, you may only need to add two or three additional plugins from the list below and have all your needs covered.

I’ve tried to include the main use case for each recommended plugin too to help you discover those that will help you the most.

Let’s get started.

WordPress plugins to monetize your blog

Best for selling products or subscriptions: WooCommerce

woocommerce

Use WordPress to create your own online store to sell your products or services. Or to sell subscriptions and memberships. Created by the same people who have created WordPress.

Best for Google Adsense and other banner ads: Ad Inserter

Makes it easy to insert banner ads from Google Adsense and other marketing platforms into your blog content. An alternative to this is Quick Adsense.

Best for selling memberships: Members

Members

A user, role, and content management tool that makes WordPress a more powerful CMS. It allows you to sell memberships to your audience. Couple of alternatives to this are Memberful and WP-Members.

Best for affiliate marketing: Linker

Linker

Track all the outbound links and clicks on them. Very useful for bloggers using affiliate marketing to monetize their blogs.

Best for accepting donations: PayPal Donations

Paypal donations

Some bloggers monetize their blogs by accepting reader donations. This plugin helps you do just that. Add PayPal buttons in your content or the sidebar. An alternative to this is the Patreon button plugin.

WordPress plugins to integrate social media to your blog

Best for Pinterest: Pin It Button For Images

Pinterest pin it

Displays a Pin It button directly over your images and helps you drive traffic from Pinterest. Perfect for blogs that feature great imagery (fashion, travel, food blogs).

Best for adding social media sharing buttons: Shareaholic

This is a very extensive and flexible plugin that allows you to easily implement social sharing buttons on your content. Let your visitors spread the word about your content to their networks.

Best for sharing your quotes on Twitter: Better Click To Tweet

Better Click To Tweet

Allows you to insert “click to tweet” boxes into your content and prompt your visitors to share more of your quotes on Twitter.

Best for getting shares for content access: Social Locker

Social Locker

Use it for PDF reports and similar. It can help increase your social media presence by making your visitors tweet or Facebook like to get access to the content.

Best for tracking social shares: Social Metrics Tracker

Social metrics tracker

Easy overview of how many shares your content has got on the different social media networks.

WordPress plugins for blogs written in multiple languages

Best for multilingual content: Polylang

Polylang

For all you running multilingual blogs. This plugin makes the process of having multiple versions of your content in different languages very straightforward and user-friendly.

Best for translations: Google Language Translator

Google translate

Allow translations with a single click between 58 languages on your blog.

WordPress plugins for speeding up your blog

Best for caching your blog: W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache

It dramatically improves the speed by using cache as well as Minify and content delivery network (CDN). It helps your server handle a higher load without crashing.

Best for optimizing the database: WP-Optimize

WP Optimize

Allows you to clean up and optimize your database to make it run better. You can also remove all your post revisions automatically.

Best for reducing the image size: WP Smush.it

WP Smush

This plugin reduces your image files size automatically and makes your blog faster and easier to load. EWWW Image Optimizer is an alternative to this.

Best for loading your pages faster: BJ Lazy Load

BJ Lazy Load

For image heavy blogs. Only load images that are in the browser’s view (i.e. above the fold) and load the rest only as the visitor scrolls down the page.

WordPress plugins for tracking visitor data and usage

Best for tracking visitor data: Google Analytics

This plugin makes it easy for you to insert your Google Analytics code and start tracking your visitors. Learn more about Google Analytics and how tracking data helps you run a better blog.

Best for tracking search box usage: Search Meter

Search Meter

This tracks what your visitors search for in your “search” field. You can know what your visitors are looking for and what they find. Can help you make your design more usable and give you some topic ideas to cover.

WordPress plugins to keep visitors longer on your blog

Best for related post flyouts: upPrev

UpPrev

This is a New York Times-style alternative to related posts. It displays a fly out in the bottom right corner of the screen with a related post.

Best for displaying related content: Yet Another Related Posts

YARPP

Displays a list of related posts at the end of your articles. Allows customization of the display – you can even show thumbnails of the posts.

Best for improving the search: Swiftype Search

Swiftype

This replaces the default search form. It is very much like Facebook or Google search. Upon starting to type a search query, your visitor will get a drop down of different options and results. Comes with detailed analytics and controls.

Best for discovering broken links: Broken Link Checker

Broken Link Checker

When you start posting often, you will soon have so many posts and pages that it will be hard to manually check them one by one. This plugin automatically checks all your content and informs you of any broken links.

Best for pagination: WP-PageNavi

WP Pagenavi

Adds a more advanced paging navigation interface.

Best for table of contents: Table of Contents Plus

Contents plus

Automatically creates a table of contents for your long form posts and allows you to display it in a beautiful and user-friendly way.

Best for embedding video: Fluid Video Embeds

Fluid video

If you are a video blogger and work a lot with video embeds, this plugin is a big time saver. It auto resizes your videos to full-width and keeps the original aspect ratio.

Best for welcoming visitors: What Would Seth Godin Do

What would Seth Godin do

Allows you to display a particular message on top of the screen to your new, first time visitors only.

WordPress plugins for search engines optimisation

Best for SEO in general: WordPress SEO by Yoast

Wordpress SEO

A good SEO solution. It combines what two of the most popular plugins ever used to do. It helps you optimize your on-page SEO (META Title, Description and Keywords) and generates an XML sitemap for search engines to easier find and index your content.

Best for redirecting different URL’s: Redirection

Redirection

Manages 301 redirections and keeps track of 404 errors in a very simple interface without you needing access or experience with .htaccess files.

Best for mass-changing links: Search and Replace

Search and replace

This one can save you a lot of time. For example, if you have moved the domain name and now want to change all the internal links throughout your blog. This plugin makes it a one-click process. An alternative to this is Velvet Blues Update URL’s.

Best for food recipes: ZipList Recipe

Zip list

If you run a blog with food recipes, this plugin adds all the necessary microdata to your recipes so that they will show up in Google’s Recipe Search.

WordPress plugins for blog comments

Best for thanking commenters: Comment Redirect

Comment Redirect

Redirect your first-time commenters to a page of your choice. Thank them. Ask them to subscribe to you. This can help turn a first-time visitor into a fan. An alternative to this is Thank Me Later that sends a ‘thank you’ email to your commenters.

Best for attracting bloggers to comment: CommentLuv

Comment Luv

Encourage more comments by rewarding your visitors by automatically placing a link to their last post at the end of their comment. This works especially well if your visitors are bloggers themselves.

WordPress plugins for calls-to-actions and conversions

Best for pop-ups: Scroll Triggered Box

Scroll box

If you’re trying to convert more of your visitors, it’s worth testing pop-up boxes. This plugin offers a beautiful and straightforward solution. An alternative to this is the Popup Maker.

Best for building your email list: Mailchimp for WordPress

This plugin makes it easy to integrate your Mailchimp newsletter to your blog. Easily insert subscribe forms and other calls-to-action in order to get more of your visitors to subscribe to your mailing list.

Best for browser push notifications: OneSignal

Browser push notifications

Your visitors can opt-in to receive browser push notifications from you. This plugin works for Chrome, Firefox and Safari browsers.

Best for alerts on top of the screen: Notification Bar

Notification bar

A quick and easy way to send alerts and other calls to action on the top of your blog design.

Best for sticky widgets: Q2W3 Fixed Widget

q2w3

Allows you to put in a sticky widget in your sidebar, so it scrolls through alongside the visitor. This helps you never have any blank space in your sidebar.

WordPress plugins for better content

Best for importing content: WordPress Importer

Wordpress importer

Imports posts, pages, comments, custom fields, categories, tags and more from a WordPress.com export file into your self-hosted blog. See more on moving your blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org.

Best for converting post types: Post Type Switcher

Post type switcher

Have you ever been in a situation where you’d like to convert a page into a post? Or a post into a page? This plugin is perfect for those cases. Makes the process very simple directly from your dashboard.

Best for managing a content calendar: CoSchedule

CoSchedule

Helps you organise your content calendar and the posting schedule, and take control of your content strategy.

Best for including charts: Visualizer

Visualizer

Make your posts more shareable and social media friendly by creating and adding a variety of interactive charts with this plugin.

Best for showing maps: Leaflet Maps Marker

Map marker

Need to show maps in your posts? This is a simple and great looking solution that works with Google Maps.

Best for showing future content: Show off Upcoming Posts

SOUP

This plugin displays your upcoming scheduled posts in a sidebar widget.

Best for frequently asked questions: Quick and Easy FAQs

Quick and easy FAQs

Do you have a frequently asked questions section of your blog? This plugin helps you display it all in a nice and easy format.

Best for analyzing your words: Word Stats

Word stats

Gives you a quick overview of all the words you have published and helps you write better. It counts words, the number of times you mentioned a certain keyword, and does a readability analysis of your posts.

Best for podcasting: PowerPress Podcasting

Podcasting

The most popular podcasting plugin for WordPress. Supports iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play and more. Covers all your podcasting needs.

WordPress plugins for backups and security

Best for backing up your files: BackWPUp

BackWPup

On-demand backup. It can also backup in an automated schedule. It allows you to save the database backup to your computer, in the cloud or get it sent via email.

Best for keeping your blog safe: Sucuri

Sucuri Security

A set of tools here to help you keep your blog secure. Security monitoring, malware detection and more. An alternative to this is Wordfence.

WordPress plugins to improve your blog’s look and feel

Best for customized sidebars: Custom Sidebars

Custom sidebars

Create your own custom widgetized areas and sidebars. Allows you to pick on which pages a certain sidebar should show.

Best for improving the author box: Fancier Author Box

Fancier author box

Give more identity to your single or multi-author blog with nice looking author box at the end of posts.

Best for improving the navigation: Max Mega Menu

Max mega

Boost your navigation menu with this mega menu and fly out menu. It’s responsive, retina and touch ready.

Best for fonts: Easy Google Fonts

Google fonts

This plugin makes it easy for you to use a different font (more than 600 available) to spice up your blog.

Best for responsive sliders: Soliloquy

Soliloguy

Nice and simple way to create post and image sliders for your blog.

The post The 50 Best WordPress Plugins For Your Blog In 2017 appeared first on HowToMakeMyBlog.

How To Make First $500 From Your Blog (A Step-By-Step Guide)

A friend told me that he would like to launch a blog around a topic he is passionate about to get ahead in his career and bring an extra income.

Making money blogging is an exciting idea.

You can be your boss, live a very flexible lifestyle, and even work from anywhere in the world.

Here’s how you can earn first $500 from your blog.

Make money infographic

Here’s a list of top money making blogs to inspire you

Some bloggers publicly post their blog income reports which is useful for you to learn more about what’s possible to do and get inspired.

Here’s the list of some of the top money making blogs online:

  • Entrepreneur On Fire – A business blog making just under $200,000 per month by selling own products and doing affiliate marketing.
  • Smart Passive Income – A blog that’s helping people build a passive income business makes $100,000 average per month with 70% of that coming from affiliate links.
  • Pinch Of Yum – A food recipe blog that makes just under $100,000 on average per month with majority of that coming from display advertising and sponsored content.
  • Just A Girl And Her Blog – A blog about organizing your life and decorating your home makes approximately $40,000 on average per month by selling own products such as ebooks and courses, and doing affiliate marketing.
  • Wait Buy Why – Elon Musk’s favorite blog which makes more than $13,000 per month by being funded by its true fans with a monthly subscription amount of their choice.
  • Kitchen Sanctuary – A recipe blog making around $10,000 per month through freelance work and display advertising.
  • The Modest Man – A fashion blog making about $7,000 per month in a diversified way through sponsored content, display advertising, affiliate links and selling own products.
  • Single Moms Income – A blog about creative ways to earn and save money that makes approximately $6,000 per month through affiliate marketing, display advertising and freelance work as a virtual assistant.
  • Easy Baby Life – A blog about motherhood making just under $5,000 per month with a majority of that coming from display advertising.
  • The Endless Meal – A recipe blog making just under $4,000 per month through display advertising.
  • Living Off Cloud – A blog about creating various income streams online making approximately $1,500 per month through display advertising and affiliate marketing.

Three ingredients required to start making money with a blog

First, these are the ingredients required to be able to bring in the revenue from a blog.

Make sure you work on these before expecting to make money.

1. Your content needs to be useful and valuable

You cannot just “sell” as that will affect your ability to build an audience.

Sales pitches are not what people want to consume.

You won’t believe how many bloggers expect to do well by publishing pure marketing messages.

Just telling people about some product and asking them to buy will not entice anyone.

You need to have expertise in your topic and you need to create value through the content that you publish.

The best content is the content that relates to your audience, which people find useful and valuable, and that integrates promotional messages naturally within it.

See my full guide on creating content that people want.

2. You need to focus on a buying market

The topic you focus on has to have a buying market and has to be monetizable.

Some topics are tougher than others so make sure your topic has an audience interested in spending money if you want to monetize the blog.

Research the problems that you are looking to fulfill.

Use Google’s Keyword Planner to see what people search for and how much companies are paying to reach those people.

Identify products on the market that are relevant to your topic and to the audience you’re trying to reach.

Create content that is targeting people who are looking to make a purchase.

When people become aware of a need they need fulfilling, they go into an information search and look at the different alternatives before making a decision on what to buy.

People start the product hunt by doing a Google search when they are ready to make a decision and buy.

You need to rank well for those searches to be near their wallets.

You can be the one that helps them evaluate the alternatives by publishing useful product reviews, detailed product comparisons and discount offers.

See my detailed advice on how to pick your topic.

3. You need to build a loyal audience

Making money online is all about building authority and trust with an audience.

You need traffic to your blog, especially targeted traffic from a specific group of people.

Without people visiting your blog and without having a loyal and targeted audience, it will be tough to earn revenue.

Targeted audience is what can be monetized and whom sponsors want to reach.

You don’t need millions of loyal visitors either.

1,000 true fans are enough for most bloggers.

So how do you start getting loyal fans?

See my complete guide on how to grow traffic and build your audience.

How to make money blogging: The most popular options

Now let’s take a look at the most popular options for earning an income online.

Pick and choose several of the methods below to diversify your blog income and turn your DIY-project into a real business supported by display advertising, sponsored posts, affiliate sales and other revenue.

Experiment, test and take your time choosing the methods that fit your topic and your audience the best.

Don’t force it as you will find that the best methods will come to you naturally over time.

1. Affiliate marketing such as referring visitors to purchase products on Amazon

Affiliate marketing is the practice of recommending products and services to your visitors and getting a commission if they decide to make a purchase.

Thousands of companies who will pay you a commission on sales that you generate through your content.

Even the New York Times entered the affiliate marketing by acquiring website The Wirecutter.

The Times paid more than $30 million for the site which has affiliate revenue as its only income source.

The products you recommend must be relevant, useful and valuable to your audience and the needs they want to fulfill.

Find opportunities in your market and products you are familiar with.

Create valuable content about the product, help people use the product better, show how the product can improve their lives.

Rather than using banner ads to promote the product, put the affiliate links naturally within the content itself.

Banner blindness is a very known phenomenon which was proven by several eye-tracking studies and has shown that visitors tend to ignore banners.

Always remember to disclose your relationship with the company you promote.

So how do you find affiliate programs to join?

Amazon has a large affiliate program where you can earn a commission of up to 10% on anything they sell.

You can also join one of the larger affiliate networks such as Commission Junction, Clickbank or Shareasale which all feature opportunities from hundreds of merchants.

Skimlinks is an option if you want an easy way to take advantage of affiliate marketing.

They scan your content and automatically insert relevant links from thousands of merchants, so you don’t have to worry about joining affiliate programs and thinking about links.

You can also visit a company website directly and see if they have an affiliate program.

If they don’t, contact the company, explain your situation and ask if they would like to agree to do an affiliate deal with you.

2. Display advertising such as inserting Google Adsense banners

Google Adsense and other display advertising opportunities are one of the easiest ways to get started making an income on your blog.

It’s easy because Adsense automates the process of selling, displaying and optimizing the ads for you.

You place a piece of code and Google delivers text and image ads that are relevant to your audience and your content.

You don’t need to advertise that you have sponsorship opportunities, you don’t need to find advertisers, you don’t need to negotiate deals and manage payments and invoices.

You just join Adsense, choose how you want your ad to look like by matching the look and feel of your blog, install a piece of code on your blog and ads will start showing.

WordPress plugin Google Publisher Plugin, made by Google, will help you insert Google ads into your content.

As an alternative to Google Adsense for WordPress bloggers, you can try the WordAds platform made by people behind WordPress.

There are many more display advertising networks such as AdThrive, Media.net (which is Yahoo!/Bing version of Google Adsense), BlogHer (for blogs with a female audience) and Sovrn.

The alternative is to sell display ads directly to the interested advertisers.

Identify products relevant to your audience, then simply approach the company and ask if they would be interested in sponsoring your blog in exchange for a fixed monthly fee.

Discovering, approaching and in general dealing with advertisers can be a very time-consuming process compared to automated options like those above.

Display advertising networks either pay per click that your visitor places on an ad or per impression of the banner ad.

One negative aspect of monetizing your blog using display advertising is that your blog has to be broadly popular to make a living as you need a vast number of visitors to make a higher income.

Ad-supported platforms often pay less than $0.01 per view.

Depending on the demand of the topic you cover, a click can earn you anything from few cents to several dollars.

Many bloggers try to increase click rates by displaying several advertisements per page or using more intrusive formats such as pop-ups, but these methods are not very user-friendly, and you will lose your audience by using them.

It’s also worth considering how tech savvy your users are and if they use adblockers on their browsers.

If your audience consists of many younger and tech-savvy people you may be leaving a lot of money on the table by using banner ads that they ignore.

3. Get crowdfunded directly by your true fans through subscriptions and donations

If you’ve built a very passionate audience for your cause, a very effective monetization strategy is to ask for donations

In exchange, you can reward those who pay you by reserving them premium access to some of your content.

Some bloggers also create branded merchandise such as t-shirts, hoodies and coffee mugs for those faithful fans.

Jason Kottke, one of the very first bloggers, allows fans to purchase yearly memberships to support his blog.

And that’s even without promising any exclusive content.

Patreon is a platform that can help you accept funding from your true fans.

More than 50,000 creators use Patreon with more than 1 million true fans being monthly active paying patrons.

35 of the creators make more than $150,000 each per year while thousands earn more than $25,000 per year.

PayPal offers these buttons too and it just might be the way for you to get rewarded for the help you provide to your readers.

You can also limit access to some (or all) of your content and allow your true fans to get access to it by paying a small fee.

Most major newspapers such as The New York Times and Wall Street Journal have these paywalls as one of their primary sources of income.

WordPress has plugins that can help you create a paywall on your own blog, such as Memberful WP plugin.

4. Work with brands directly by posting sponsored content

Bloggers and other online influencers are seen as a more trustworthy source of product recommendations than traditional advertising.

Depending on the topic of your blog, there could be many companies looking to get their products and services reviewed, used and covered by bloggers.

There might be the possibility for you to create a classified ads or job board using WordPress plugins where you would allow brands to post their listings for a fee too.

Most bloggers are regularly contacted by companies that want them to review their products.

Some brands would pay for this service.

Some would send gifts, pay for trips or hotel stays or just give their products for free.

Some bloggers, especially those that are very influential in the fashion industry, can command thousands of dollars per sponsored post.

Many agencies work directly with bloggers and other influencers to find suitable sponsoring opportunities such as Klear, Sway Group, Reward Style, and Whalar.

A negative point to monetizing through sponsored content is that the content you end up creating can be less useful to your visitors compared to your best content.

If you can make a deal with a suitable company and you have complete freedom to create a great piece of content, this option is very attractive.

Just remember also to disclose that it is a sponsored post.

You will also discover that many companies will contact you directly asking to buy reviews or text links.

Even though many bloggers accept these, I would recommend you ignore these offers.

Selling links ruins the user trust, it’s not something search engines like either, and by accepting them, you risk being banned from the search results.

5. Sell your products and online courses

One of the best options for monetizing is to invest your time in creating a product or a service that is genuinely helpful to your true fans, which solves a problem that they have and that will provide enduring value to them.

The product that you sell should be related to what you stand for and what you talk about.

You are seen as the expert and the authoritative figure in that field and you have built the audience of people who trust you and follow you.

Pick an audience problem and cater to it.

Dig in, and really focus on meeting their needs and answering their questions.

Create the content once, put it in a permanent form such as an ebook, a webinar or a private membership site and sell it over and over to bring you a continuous revenue.

This one-to-many approach helps you scale your efforts and make more money than the personal one-on-one coaching which is very limited to the amount of time you have in a day.

It basically stops you from trading your hours for dollars.

There are many sites such as Teachable and Udemy that can help you run online courses on any topic.

On Udemy there are more than 20,000 instructors offering almost 50,000 courses between them and have made more than $8,000 on average.

You could charge a one-off fee or you could get people to sign up for a recurring monthly membership.

You will be selling a product just like you do in affiliate marketing but in this case, you’re selling the product that you own and get total profit from.

It does take more time and effort to create the product and you also have to consider customer support but if done well it’s more passive income than doing one-on-one coaching and consulting.

6. Do freelance work by being a coach, a virtual assistant or a consultant

This one focuses more on the credibility, authority and trust you have built as a blogger skilled in a particular topic.

You could become a consultant and charge clients for providing the services you specialise in.

You could become a coach and charge for people to have one-on-one private sessions with you.

You could also focus more on the freelance aspect and get paid to create content and write for other sites.

Many websites are looking for influential and authoritative contributors that they would gladly pay for.

Some are looking for copywriting help where you can submit content as a ghost writer without having your name on in public.

All these are time-consuming and depending on your name may not pay the most but you get to practice your writing and the payments do add up over time.

The downside of doing freelance work is that it’s not a passive income and you need to keep producing something of great value to earn those fees.

7. Extend your content to other platforms such as Amazon Kindle Publishing and YouTube Partnership

You can use your existing content to earn passive income on other platforms.

If you produce many videos, you can become a YouTube partner and monetize your videos on YouTube.

You can add your blog to the Amazon Kindle store and get paid when people read your content on Kindle.

It takes about 5 minutes to set this up and is a new revenue stream for your blog so no reason at all not to do it.

Amazon Kindle Publishing for Blogs is a self-publishing tool that allows you to submit and sell your content on the Kindle Store.

This is the quick process you have to go through to get your blog approved and stocked in the store:

  1. Go to the Amazon Kindle Publishing for Blogs
  2. Create a new Kindle Publishing Account (free)
  3. Add your site via a simple one-page process

Should I quit my job to start a blog?

It’s possible to make money from your blog, but it’s important you have realistic expectations.

The idea of quitting your job, leaving the rat race behind and doing something on your own terms is the fantasy that appeals to many cubicle bound employees all around the world.

It’s a great idea, a great dream to have and definitely something that can help get you motivated to achieve big things.

Finding yourself stuck in a boring job reading about all the people who have chosen to follow their passion can tempt you to give it all up and pursue the unconventional path.

But blogging is not a get rich quick scheme.

Don’t jump into it though assuming that just having the courage to pursue a different path is the only thing that matters, while everything else are just small details that can be worked out afterwards.

Most sites will fail to earn any income, some will make some pocket change only, while only a few might do so well that they can quit their jobs and planning is key in this process.

Everyone needs to pay the bills after all and just leaving your job to start a blog you have thought about is not very responsible in most cases.

My recommendation is to keep your day job but start working seriously on your blog in your free time (or in the working hours if you can get away with it 😀).

You start small without taking too many unnecessary risks.

Having a steady paycheck is very comforting in these situations, as it allows you to keep your living standards while investing your time in things that have the potential to make your life better in the future.

Starting a blog is less about becoming rich than it is about turning a comfortable profit from your hobby.

And building a blog where you can make enough money to replace your day job is very hard work and is not going to happen overnight.

During these long months, you can live off your salary or savings while working on growing the blog.

On the way to your first $500… and then what?

Keep working hard on your blog, work consistently over a longer term, and as long as you never give up, in due time you will become a success and your blog will start making even bigger money.

What it comes down to now is that you must take action into your hands.

It’s not enough to read all the “become a problogger” advice – you must start creating something.

Create a great blog, find and connect with your audience.

Do this daily for a long time, before you slowly start getting the results, and start being able to live the blogging dream.

  • You could then quit your daytime job and focus entirely on your blog.
  • You could use the authority you’ve built with your blog to get yourself a more prestigious or higher paying job.
  • You could accept high-paying fees for speaking at events.
  • You could get a publishing deal and write a bestseller book.
  • You could extend your brand by putting together your themed events in the real world where the money could be even bigger.
  • You could also sell your blog if there is an acceptable offer at the table and you feel that you have done what you could for this topic.

The post How To Make First $500 From Your Blog (A Step-By-Step Guide) appeared first on HowToMakeMyBlog.

17 Tasks To Eliminate, Automate And Outsource For Blogging Productivity

Keep your blogging momentum during holidays

Struggling to find the time to blog?

You’re in the right place.

Today I will share with you advice and productivity tools that will make you a productive blogger.

This guide will help you remove distractions, eliminate redundant tasks, automate where possible, and outsource certain tasks to free your time for the core activities.

Let’s get started.

Three simple principles to blogging efficiency

Do you wonder how big bloggers keep publishing new content all the time?

How come their publishing machine is so well oiled?

Where do they get the time and the ideas?

Are they online all the time every day?

Do they have assistants working for them creating and publishing their content?

These questions can be answered in three simple steps:

  1. Eliminate the redundant steps and tasks
  2. Use technology and tools to automate and schedule as many of the remaining tasks as possible
  3. Delegate and outsource non-essential tasks to virtual assistants and free your time for essentials

Blogging productivity is a matter of re-evaluating your priorities

Time is a limited resource, but you still have 24 hours in every day.

You have a job that takes some 9 hours, you probably sleep 7 hours which leaves you with 8 hours a day for housework, friends and family, and hobbies.

That is plenty of time.

Being too busy to blog is just a bad excuse.

It’s all a matter of re-evaluating your priorities and being better at time management.

You have to figure out what’s important to you, learn to control your hours better and put some smart systems in place.

Be a productive writer infographic

Work smarter, not harder: The 80/20 principle

Knowing the best uses of your time is much more valuable than trying harder, working longer or complaining about not having enough time to blog.

Excellent prioritization skills are critical for a blogger.

You need to distinguish between what needs to be done and what doesn’t, and you need to know the difference between make work and real work.

Do things that are worth doing and let go off things that are not.

80% of your best blogging will come from 20% of the things you do. This is the Pareto principle.

Figure out which of your chores are those 20% tasks that have the highest impact on your blogging goals.

Then spend most of your time doing those meaningful activities, and stop wasting time on unproductive tasks that you’re not good at or that are irrelevant to your success.

These non-essential tasks can be automated using tools and delegated to virtual assistants in order to free your time to create more content and do other meaningful activities in which you cannot be easily replaced.

Outsource and delegate these 4 non-essential tasks to free your time

A blog is normally a company of one employee.

You are the jack of all trades.

You do everything from creating content, improving the design and doing the marketing.

You have the complete knowledge of everything about your blog, you do not need to communicate to anyone else and you make all the decisions yourself.

But as your blog grows you might run into challenges by doing everything yourself.

A single person project cannot scale, especially if you want to achieve big things.

You might need to get some help to grow and scale your blog.

This means relinquishing control and delegating and outsourcing some of your work to virtual assistants.

Many bloggers struggle to make this leap and grow beyond the one man show.

Trying to outsource the core activity of creating useful content is a huge mistake as it cannot be done well easily.

Outsource other building tasks that would give you more time to spend creating content instead.

The hard part is knowing what tasks to outsource.

So, here’s 4 building tasks I recommend giving to your virtual assistant:

Task 1: Post research

The best way to get value from a virtual assistant is to have them help you with research.

Say you’re writing a post about the top 10 screen casting applications on the Mac.

You’d ask your assistant to create a document featuring all the software he can find in this category.

Next to each piece of software, you’d ask him to list the name, price, and website address – as well as the main features of the software.

Or, let’s say you’re planning to write a blog post about how to barbecue a trout.

You might ask your assistant to find other articles about barbecuing trout that you could read before you start writing.

You’d ask him to find somebody a YouTube user who’s posted a video of themselves cooking trout on a barbecue – and set up an email interview with them, so that you have some quotes to put in your article.

You want to get to the point where when you sit down to write a post, you’re basically walking into the kitchen and finding all your ingredients washed, chopped, and laid out – so all you have to do is assemble the parts and serve up the result.

Task 2: Finding posts to comment on

Another great job for your virtual assistant for is finding posts to comment on.

When you know your topic reasonably well, the hard part about commenting isn’t cranking out the comments – it’s actually keeping up-to-date with other people’s posts.

So, ask your virtual assistant to create a list of blogs in your niche that you want to monitor.

Then, have your assistant look at them two or three times a week and send you a daily or bi-weekly email with a digest of what’s been posted.

Then you can quickly dash off your comments, and your assistant can post them on your behalf – under your name, with a link back to you.

Task 3: Interviews

One problem you have as a blogger is finding fresh content to post.

Interviewing other authors is a brilliant way to get expert content quickly.

You can ask your virtual assistant to spend one or two days a week finding other bloggers in your niche to interview.

Usually, fellow authors are happy to be interviewed – and they’ll often share the resulting post with their audience too.

If you give your assistant this task one two days a week, then pretty soon you’ll have a steady flow of autopilot interview content for your blog.

Task 4: Reviewing other blogs

One tactic that I’ve tried with one of my websites was reviewing other websites in my niche.

It works really well – it was great content and it won me a lot of respect and gratitude from fellow bloggers in my industry.

Here’s what you do.

Ask your virtual assistant to go out and find other blogs like yours and write out a quick 40 to 50 word summary of what’s on the website.

When she has 10 of 12 of these, you can combine them into a list post that can sit on your website as a great piece of cornerstone content.

Make sure you link to all the sites featured of course.

It’s good SEO to link to other pages in your corner of the Internet, and it also encourages other bloggers to reciprocate and link back to you – which never hurts.

Remove the noise, pause the input

There is too much noise everywhere around us.

Our brains are hard-wired for social media.

We’re curious about the new and unexpected, we constantly refresh news feeds, review notifications and mindlessly click on links.

We’re easily interrupted and distracted which makes us restless and easily bored.

It reduces our capacity to absorb and retain information.

Information gathering becomes a shallow distraction and a waste of time.

It’s a skill to be able to shut out the distractions and choose what, when and how to consume information.

To pause the input and filter the noise from the signal.

To be more purposeful about your habits and the way you spend your time online.

To let go of that curiosity need and to not feed it all the time.

Don’t do FOMO.

Curate your sources better by giving attention to those that respect your time.

Limit the time you spend following political scandals, breaking news, celebrity gossip, sports and the time spent TV-watching and game-playing.

Block websites that waste your time, cancel meetings, turn on the airplane mode.

Don’t let others force their goals onto your schedule and gain back the hours these suck from your life.

Stop being a consumer of media, be a producer instead.

Stop planning and take action

Planning is essential, but only to a point.

The more time you devote to planning, the more fears and doubts you start having.

Many spend too much time thinking about blogging, instead of taking action.

Don’t fall into this analysis paralysis.

Focus on the output.

“Just do it” usually works.

Taking action produces the appetite for more action.

Turn your ideas and dreams into reality.

Set up your working routine with tight but realistic deadlines.

Break the unreasonable big blogging goals and dreams into smaller and more manageable tasks.

Have a brief and prioritized to-do list every day.

Use the Pomodoro technique to block off your time and do intense sprints of uninterrupted work.

Having limited time makes you more focused and productive.

Without constraints, tasks may end up expanding to fill the unlimited time available for their completion.

Set reminders.

Stop trying to multitask and get into the habit of ticking items off that to-do list.

Send that email, reach out to that person, finish recording that video and publish that blog post.

Show up every day.

To become great at something you need to have the fire within you, the internal drive and determination.

It helps you show initiative, drives you to do more, keeps you committed to putting in the effort and the hours needed to succeed.

Dedicate your every blogging moment to creating the best work that you can.

Have the discipline to always keep going at it, work consistently, never lose the focus and never give up on your dreams.

You don’t need anyone else to push you to do this.

The motivation, desire, and work ethic come from within yourself.

Don’t be led by perfectionism and other fears

People have a phobia of the “publish” button.

There’s always something to add, change, polish, more research to do.

It never stops, and you drag the process on and on.

Fear leads a lot of people.

Fear of being ridiculed, fear that you’re not good enough, fear of what others might say, fear of having no readers, lacking talent, fear that others have a better way of doing things.

All the uncertainty is unsettling.

You should accept and learn to live with things that are beyond your control.

Overcome your fears, don’t wait for a masterpiece, be positive and free yourself to just write, write, write.

Write fast, constantly, anywhere at anytime.

Don’t allow your mind to have the opportunity to wander, let your thoughts flow, get the ideas down quickly, and don’t worry about spelling and grammar errors.

Spit first, shine later.

Ultimately, you have to ask your own questions, try out things and find the best way for yourself.

Close your eyes and click on the “publish” button.

Your blog post is now online for the world to see.

You’ll realize how silly it was to have any fears and how you should have published that article a long time ago.

Your first blog post may suck, but you will become better.

The best way to get better is to practice.

By practicing in public, you get feedback, and that improves your work.

Measure, learn and improve as you go along.

Write something, get feedback, write something more, get more feedback and round and round it goes.

Optimize your health for maximum energy

Your passion is what drives you.

You do your work out of love.

If you love what you do, you won’t be able to fall asleep because you would want to do more of it.

You’ll wake up very early and energetic to get out of the bed to do even more.

But it’s important to take care of your body too.

Your health has to be your priority.

Help your mind be focused, and your body have the energy to go through all the tasks in your list.

Eat real food, don’t skip meals, make sure you are hydrated throughout the day.

The right diet gives you physical stamina, patience, focus, and a positive attitude.

Always have water next to you no matter where you are and what you are doing.

Take frequent micro-breaks to rest your eyes and mind.

Stretch and move your body regularly.

Do some push-ups and sit-ups.

Exercise harder, sleep longer.

A good night of sleep helps you recover from the long day, improves your body and gives you energy for another important day.

Disconnect from your day-to-day sometimes

Following the principles in this post, you will work more productive when you’re in the zone working on the essential tasks.

But you cannot be in the zone all the time.

It’s a very good idea to take a break to travel or just to relax and get new inspiration.

We all need a break once in a while.

Some people get addicted to being online and continuously staring at the screen.

Disconnect from your day-to-day activities frequently and get away from the computer and the smartphone screen to do something else.

Read books and magazines, listen to the people you are speaking to, relax and recharge.

Be curious and open-minded about the world around you. It’s full of inspiration.

It’s in those “not so busy” moments that you have time to think, reflect and that inspire your new adventures.

Take the best ideas from these different experiences and apply them to your work.

Don’t accept that there’s only one way of doing things.

Cherish and respect your time, then get back to work.

Living an interesting life improves your energy levels, gives you clarity and reduces your stress.

Both your mind and body will appreciate it.

It will put you in control of your life, work and dreams.

You’ll be fresh and focused for blogging.

It will improve your productivity and will win you quality time.

Suddenly there will be enough time in a day for you to achieve your blogging goals.

How to keep your blog active while you’re disconnected

Going offline doesn’t mean you need to let your blog die while you’re away.

With a bit of planning, scheduling and automation you can still keep your blog and social media live and active.

Regular visitors should not be able to see much or any difference from a week when you’re concentrating on the blog full-time to the week when you’re out getting inspired.

Here are the steps and tasks you can automate.

1. Get your mobile setup ready

If you’re going away on a vacation you should get your traveling setup ready.

These days I normally take a mobile phone when I’m on my travels.

I use it for everything from checking mails, managing social media and doing blog updates when necessary.

WordPress has nice apps for both iOS and Android.

The app syncs with the web instantly so you can start a post on your mobile, save it as a draft to continue editing in your computer browser.

You can edit articles, you can respond to comments and so much more.

I’m not too comfortable with creating new content on a phone, the smaller screen just feels too slow to write on.

It’s more suited for consuming content, communication, marketing or slight edits.

My discomfort with creating content on small screens is why steps below are key to have a relaxing vacation but keeping my blog active at the same time.

2. Prepare your content in advance

You know how long you will be away for.

You know if you will have an internet connection while on vacation.

You know if you plan to have time to get some writing done while you are away.

Think about these factors and plan ahead.

If you won’t be able to get online or if you’ll be busy with other activities, you should create the needed amount of content in advance.

Edit them, style them and get them ready to be published according to your normal schedule.

If you want a real break you could source some guest posts to be published during your time off.

This will save you from being too stressed and needing to create a large amount of content in the weeks up to your trip.

You can either ask bloggers you are connected with to submit something for your site, or you can announce on your site or in social media that you are taking guest post submissions.

A lot of bloggers are very active guest posters as there are many benefits of doing it.

This means that as long as you have a site with a decent popularity you should be able to get some quality posts sourced.

3. Schedule posts to be published in the future

WordPress has this great built-in feature that allows you to schedule your posts to be published in the future.

You can write your post today and set it to be published automatically at any time you wish.

It’s called WordPress TimeStamp.

Write your post as you would normally.

All the same process.

The only difference is that instead of publishing right away when your post is ready, you schedule it to be published at a future date and time.

To schedule do take a look at “Publish” section in the right hand side of your post writing screen.

Where it says “Publish immediately” click on edit.

Now you will have the option to select a date and time in the future that you want your post to be published.

Select the date and time and click OK.

When you have confirmed the future date and time you want your post to be published on, the “Publish” button will become “Schedule” button.

You will also have a “Scheduled for” date and time there for you to see.

If you click on the “Schedule” button your post will be automatically published at the chosen date and time.

4. Set Akismet to moderate the comments automatically

Comment sections are the lifeline of many sites.

This is also one of the tasks that consumes the most time for majority of bloggers.

Some bloggers prefer to manually approve comments, but that might be impossible to manage when you’re going away.

As you don’t want the discussion to die out while you’re away, you should set Akismet WordPress plugin to do all the work for you.

In WordPress settings in “Discussion” some bloggers usually have “Comment author must have a previously approved comment” checked.

By removing this you let Akismet automatically approve comments.

There is a tiny risk that one or two spam comments might go through the filter but I find Akismet generally does a great job.

Get comfortable about letting Akismet control and moderate the comments section for you.

See my complete guide on how to setup your blog to automatically fight comment spam.

5. Automate your social media marketing

Having a large established audience is a great promotional tool for your content.

As you’re set to publish several articles while you are away your audience will help you spread the word as they normally would.

Help your visitors do the promotion for you by including social media sharing buttons in your articles.

There are several good plugins for this, such as this one.

Sometimes I use my mobile phone to go through my after publishing marketing routine on social media when on holidays.

This would take me some 10-15 minutes a day, but there is an even better solution.

If you prefer you can also schedule your social media activity.

You can write your posts in advance and schedule Twitter and Facebook to send out messages announcing your new articles.

It results in clicks to your site from your followers, and helps the promotion as people do retweet, like and share interesting articles.

You can schedule your posts directly on your Facebook page and use a tool like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to schedule on Twitter.

If you prefer to be completely hands off you can get all your new posts to be posted automatically on social media without needing to do any work.

One great service for automating social media posts is IFTTT (If This Then That).

It connects you to more than 100 different platforms and allows you to set “recipes” like: IF I publish a new post on my blog, THEN automatically post the link to my Facebook page.

These are the most relevant recipes for keeping your social media profiles updated:

Automation and outsourcing is not the same as auto blogging

A word of warning: You should automate and schedule tasks you can but you should still remain engaged with your blog.

The goals of scheduling, automation, outsourcing and delegation are not to remove your blogging work completely.

Outsourcing is here to help you delegate some tasks to allow you more time to focus on the tasks that only you can do.

The goal is rather to help you do your blogging more efficiently, saving you time and letting you use your time more wisely.

You should avoid all the salesmen selling courses, software and automated tools to “help” bloggers get rich quick.

That dream sounds great except that it doesn’t work and doesn’t do any good to your readers or to your site.

Don’t use any auto blogging software (these tools normally create automatic posts based on RSS feeds from other sites).

If it’s not obvious why you shouldn’t be doing “auto blogging”, this is why:

  • It’s not great content. If you a want to be successful at blogging, you need to create unique content that people love to consume and share with their friends.
  • Google hates spam and all these sites are just copying content, and they give no value to the user.
  • Your host will eventually shut down your site because of the copyright infringement.

Following these simple steps can assure you that you work more efficiently, that you spend your time more wisely, and that your blog is not inactive even while you are away on holiday or disconnected.

Your visitors will always get fresh content, comments will be moderated, traffic will be coming in and your blogging momentum will keep on going.

The post 17 Tasks To Eliminate, Automate And Outsource For Blogging Productivity appeared first on HowToMakeMyBlog.

Quick Hacks To Help You Come Up With Attractive Blog Post Headlines

Rules and formulas for irresistible headlines

Are you struggling to grab the attention of people in the busy social media news feeds?

One way to fix this is to come up with better and more attractive blog post headlines.

There is an art to writing post headlines and bloggers have to learn this art in order to better attract visitors.

This guide features proven headline formulas, real-life examples of successful headlines, structural rules and trigger words to use when creating your own headlines.

Let’s get started.

Why the headline is the most important part of a blog post

The majority of people that see your posts will see the headlines only.

Without a compelling headline, not many will actually click to visit your blog article.

Your potential visitors are busy people.

You are competing to get their attention and a share of their valuable time, and you compete against many other things.

Their work, their family and friends, their social network, their interests, all the other media and websites and many more factors.

To attract visitors and draw them in you must write powerful, relevant and eye-catching headlines for your blog posts.

Your headlines must be sharp.

They must make people curious and prompt them to click on your link no matter the distractions and the competing choices in their news feeds.

If you achieve this, your headlines will help your posts get more clicks, more shares and more engagement.

Test your blog post headlines using these tools

There are tools you can use to analyse your headline for emotional impact.

Try this Headline Analyzer and this Emotional Value Analyzer.

Headline analyzer

Write at least five headlines per blog post

Some bloggers feel that it is difficult to explain what their post is about in a few words.

Maybe that just shows that the post is not interesting enough and not written in the most optimized way.

In other words, an article that you cannot explain in a punchy headline may not be an article that you want to publish in its current state.

Many writers would spend the majority of their time on the body of content itself and then just create a last-minute headline to finish it off before publishing.

This is not the optimal way of doing it.

Instead, you should try and spend much longer time on figuring out the best headline for a blog post.

After all, not many will read the body of the content unless the headline attracts them in the first place.

Spending more time on the headline should be devoted to writing several different alternatives.

Writing more than one headline for each post forces you to think more about the headline and makes you think outside the box.

This also gives you more options and interesting angles when posting and re-posting your content in social media.

Your first couple of choices might be something you’ve tested before or might be just something that comes first to your mind, but making yourself think of more than five headlines gets you in a more creative mindset.

Eventually you’ll get to something that is not your typical headline and that might just be the one that works best.

Don’t resist this.

Five headlines are not much actually, the people from Upworthy recommend you write at least 25!

Upworthy's 25 headlines

Look for inspiration

Buzzfeed headlinesNewspapers, magazines and websites online can be great idea sources, full of inspiration and ideas for your own headline writing.

Keep an eye on them.

Magazine front pages are full of irresistible headlines.

Just take a look at front pages of Men’s Health or Cosmopolitan.

Also, online sites such as Buzzfeed, Upworthy and The Daily Mail have their headlines and listicles as a big traffic driving factors and major reasons for their success.

Explore them, learn from them, note interesting styles and formulas, and try and implement them on your own site.

Some bloggers use social media to test out ideas for posts before writing them.

You could try this out too.

Send out a tweet with a quote, a statement or a piece of advice and see how people react.

If you see a larger-than-normal amount of responses and engagements, it might be a topic you could expand into a complete blog post.

Structural rules for headlines guaranteed to get you clicks

Creating attractive headlines

It is difficult to pinpoint a distinct pattern of blog post headline writing as there isn’t one really.

If there were a simple solution, we would all be getting thousands of clicks and shares.

There is a lot of guesswork and trialing involved.

Here are some structural rules, tips and ideas that you can follow in order to reach the widest audience and boost clicks when writing headlines.

  • Develop a headline that tells people exactly what the article is about and what is in it for them so they know right away whether or not it is something they would like to click on.
  • Tell a story and make people curious in your headline but do not give everything away. Just give them a sneak preview by including statements such as “You won’t believe the number 5” or “Number 7 has worked incredibly well for me”. This forces them to click to check out the full thing.
  • Work in curiosity, benefits or a combination of the two in your headline. Talk about “secrets”, “hacks”, “techniques”, “strategies”, “warnings” and “mistakes”. Make people feel they will miss out on something amazing and important unless they click on your post.

Curiosity gap

  • Promise quick and easy to follow, how-to advise, instructions, guidelines and solutions to challenges your readers are facing. People love “simple”, “easy”, “fast”, “instant” and “quick”.
  • Create a great resource of information. Make it “the ultimate”, “the complete”, “the definitive” or “the best”. Everything something needs to understand about one topic in one single post.
  • Try adding numbers and top lists to your headlines. The larger the number the most interest there will be. Everyone’s bored of top 3 and top 5, but top 77 might just do the trick.
  • Ask questions. Write headlines in a question format. Just make sure to break the Betteridge’s law that says that every headline that ends with a question mark can be answered with a word “no”.
  • Namedrop celebrities and other names your audience recognizes. I’ve compiled lessons learned from names such as Stephen King and Steve Jobs with great success.
  • Be conversational and direct. Refer to the audience. Make your headlines self-referencing to your visitor by adding “You” or “Your”.
  • Make your headlines condensed. Examine your headlines with a critical eye to make every word count.
  • Be informal and personal. After all, you are competing in Twitter streams and Facebook news feeds amongst posts from friends and family.

Proven headline formulas you should try on your site

Most winning headlines can be distilled down to a fill-in-the-blank formula template.

These templates can then be used for any topic that you are covering.

For some ideas and examples of the above structural rules try writing your headlines using the formulas below.

Do save this blog post so you can reference these when developing your own post headlines.

Blog headline hacks and formulas

  • How To ___________ – Step-By-Step Guide
  • The Ultimate ___________ List
  • How To  ___________ In 10 Minutes
  • The Pros And Cons Of ___________
  • The Easiest Way To Make Your ___________
  • 12 Sure Fire Ways To ___________
  • 8 Shortcuts For ___________ In Record Time
  • Get ___________! 12 Ideas That Really Work
  • The Lazy ___________ Way To ___________
  • 16 Lies ___________ Like To Tell
  • 13 Warning Signs That ___________
  • The Shocking Truth About ___________
  • 10 Things Your ___________ Won’t Tell You
  • How Safe Is Your ___________ From ___________?
  • Do You Do Any Of These ___________ Mistakes?
  • Don’t Do These 17 Things When ___________
  • 16 ___________ Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making
  • 11 ___________ Mistakes That Make You Look ___________
  • 15 Things Your ___________ Needs To Hear You Say
  • Unlock The Secrets Of ___________
  • 7 ___________ Secrets Every ___________ Should Know
  • The 16 Essentials Of ___________
  • How To Take Charge Of Your ___________
  • How To Make ___________ Work For You
  • What ___________ Can Teach You About ___________
  • Can You Really Trust ___________?
  • 5 Little Known Ways To ___________
  • 3 Little Known Factors That Could Affect Your ___________
  • Get Rid Of ___________ Once And For All
  • 12 Cool Tools For ___________
  • The Complete Guide To ___________
  • 18 Tips To Jump-Start Your ___________
  • 14 Things I‘ve Learned About ___________
  • 18 ___________ Hacks: A Cheat Sheet For ___________

One note from me is not to overuse any one of these as that would make them less effective.

Use emotional trigger words to engage people

Trigger words engage people on an emotional level and they work exceptionally well in headlines.

They are also some of the most persuasive words in the English language.

Trigger words

Here’s a list of some trigger words you can start with:

  • Amazing
  • Avenge
  • Banned
  • Blissful
  • Boost
  • Breathtaking
  • Conspiracy
  • Controversial
  • Cure
  • Delightful
  • Discover
  • Empower
  • Energize
  • Exposed
  • Eye Opening
  • Forbidden
  • Greatest
  • Insider
  • Jaw dropping
  • Jubilant
  • Magic
  • Massive
  • Mind blowing
  • Overcome
  • Payback
  • Provocative
  • Reclaim
  • Sky rocketing
  • Spectacular
  • Stunning
  • Surprising
  • Uncensored

Deliver on what your headline promises

An important point to make is that you should not oversell in your headlines and that you should always deliver what you promise.

Do your best to write a compelling blog post headline but do also deliver the quality content.

There is nothing worse than clicking on a great headline and then seeing the content that is not being able to live up to the headline.

The headline is worthless if the post does not deliver on its promise.

The headline frames the rest of your visitor’s experience on your site.

Visitors would feel tricked into viewing and nothing is more frustrating than clicking on a killer headline but getting a weak article.

Think how Google displays the headline in their search results

Google may not be as important in driving traffic to a blog as it was before the rise of Facebook and other social media platforms, but it can still be a very valuable way of getting your content to more people.

You should make sure your headlines display well in the search results.

Google shows between 50-60 characters only – it shows exactly what fits in a 512 px.

If the headline is longer, they will not display the full headline.

In cases where your optimal headline is longer than that, try and do a shorter and more concise version for search engines only.

WordPress SEO WordPress plugin previews your search results snippet the way it will look in search results.

It also allows you to write the “SEO Title”.

This is the title that will show in search results while you still keep your original title on your post itself and in social media shares.

SEO post title and description

Some of the most successful blog post headlines in the history of my blog

An important part of the headline writing process is analysing the data and implementing the learnings to improve your future headlines.

An easy way of doing this is to go through your blog visitor data and see which posts worked well and which don’t.

Let us take a look inwards at some of the most visited articles on my blog and analyze the headlines.

Here are some examples of my posts that have been quite popular that you could learn the format of and adapt to your own content:

  • Best WordPress Plugins: 18 Most Downloaded WordPress Plugins Ever
  • 8 Thesis Theme Design Tips To Make Your Site Better
  • From 0 To 200.000 Visitors, 8 Blogging Lessons Learned
  • 10 Elements Of Style Of Post Writing
  • 24 Plugins That I Currently Use On My Site And Why You Should Use Them Too
  • How To Install WordPress – Step-By-Step Guide
  • 8 Things Every Blogger Can Learn By Studying Perez Hilton

What I learned from my past headlines is that having a “how to” or “top list” headline works great to attract visitors.

Other things that seem to make headlines more clickable are quotes, numbers and popular names.

These types of headlines make a specific promise of what’s in store for the visitor, they also make the visitor curious to find out more, or they attract the click thanks to the use of a popular name that the visitor has feelings for.

Just keep on writing and improving

What makes people click is a difficult question to answer and I hope that this article has explained you a little bit behind the art of headline writing and inspired you to work on your upcoming headlines or even go back and rework the headlines of some of your existing posts.

The last piece of advice is to constantly test your headline writing, see which articles get most shares and views and do more of what works best.

Some of your headlines will suck and will fail but you have to accept it, move on and keep writing more.

All you have to do is explain to people why they should click and read your article and not the next one that is in line waiting on their Twitter feeds.

Good luck!

The post Quick Hacks To Help You Come Up With Attractive Blog Post Headlines appeared first on HowToMakeMyBlog.

12 Easy Ways To Speed Up Your WordPress Blog Loading Time

Speed up your site

Your blog posts are very slow to load?

You are in the right place.

In this guide, I will show you simple steps that you can take to speed up your WordPress blog loading time.

Why blog page loading speed is essential

The “back” button on a browser is your enemy.

You only have a few seconds to hook a visitor and get him or her to stay away from the “back” button.

You better make each second count.

Great looking design, stunning imagery and valuable content are essential elements of a blog.

They help you convince a first-time visitor that your blog is worth their time.

None of this matters if your blog is impossible to reach or very slow to load.

53% of mobile visitors abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load according to a Google study published in September 2016.

Page loading time is also one of the ranking factors Google uses to determine which content will show on top of their search results.

WordPress speed test: How fast is my blog right now?

The best starting point for improving your blog’s page speed is to check your current loading time and performance.

Run the speed tests at sites below to see how fast or how slow your blog is right now.

These tools analyze the performance of your blog, and provide useful advice on things you can do to optimize the loading time:

Now you have an overview of the current performance of your WordPress blog.

The Google study that I mentioned earlier found that the average mobile site took 19 seconds to load.

Any load time below 3 seconds is excellent in my book.

Monitor your blog server uptime/downtime

Keep an eye on the uptime of your blog’s server.

Uptime basically tells you what percentage of time your blog is up and available for visitors.

The more reliable your webhost is, the more uptime you will have and your downtime will be minimal if any at all.

WordPress runs Jetpack plugin which allows you to activate a “Monitor” add-on that constantly checks your server and notifies you in the case of a downtime.

Check the speed impact of the WordPress plugins that you use

Measure the impact each plugin has on the blog loading time.

There’s a plugin for that: P3 Plugin Performance Profiler.

After analysing you should consider removing any of the plugins that slow you down.

Alternatively, you can consider more “light” options that can replace the feature of a plugin that slows you down.

P3 might, for example, identify your social media sharing buttons plugin as one of the plugins that slow you down.

This is very common as those buttons with share counters can be the enemies of speed.

Consider using a lightweight option like Social Sharing By Danny instead of the official buttons.

These use external scripts and make too many calls to services.

Deactivate and remove P3 when you have finished testing.

Always deactivate and delete any plugins that you do not use.

How to speed up your WordPress blog: The checklist

Let’s look at the checklist first before getting into details:

Speed up WordPress checklist

Decrease and compress your image size

High-resolution images are an integral part of any blog.

They brand your blog, and they keep your visitors interested in your posts.

The size of these images is huge and can dramatically impact the loading time.

When saving the image make sure to resize the picture to the exact dimensions that you need in your content to help keep the image size low.

Aim for somewhere around 100-150kb per image.

Compress the picture by using “Save for web” in your image editor before you actually upload it to your blog.

You can also use one of the image optimizer plugins for WordPress.

From my experience, they can help you reduce the picture size by 30+% without compromising the image quality itself.

EWWW Image Optimizer plugin is a solution that compresses your images as you upload them onto your blog.

WP Smush.it can help optimize your existing archive or images in a lossless way by stripping meta data and compressing.

Use lazy loading of images

If you have an image heavy blog like a fashion blog or a food blog you should consider using BJ Lazy Load plugin.

Lazy loading only loads images that are in the browser’s view (i.e. above the fold).

It loads the rest only as the visitor scrolls down the page.

Use Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is an open-source initiative from Google.

It optimizes your content for mobile devices and helps it load instantly when visited from the search engines.

Here are more details from Google:

Speed matters and instant is the ideal. Research shows that the bounce rate can be as high as 58% for web pages that take nearly ten seconds to load. Using the AMP format will make it far more compelling for people to consume and engage with more content. But this isn’t just about speed and performance. We also want to promote enhanced distribution so that publishers can take advantage of the open web’s potential for their content to appear everywhere quickly – across all platforms and apps – which can lead to more revenue via ads and subscriptions.

There’s the official WordPress plugin for Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project.

Just install and activate the plugin to have your blog AMP-ready.

Enable a caching plugin and minify your files

This part is a bit more tech heavy but is arguably the fastest and most effective way of speeding up your blog page loading time.

Install and activate a caching plugin and you will immediately see an improvement in your speed.

Caching plugins speed up your blog by generating static files and serve those files to your visitors instead of the dynamic files as WordPress does by default.

“Dynamic” means that they are refreshed every time they are viewed.

I use W3 Total Cache on several of my projects, and it’s a very powerful and advanced plugin that does a great job.

The plugin was created by Frederick Townes, the senior technical advisor of Mashable and they use it too.

It can be a bit overwhelming the first time you look at it because of all the different options.

Activating it with the default settings on will be fine for the majority of bloggers, though.

In “Performance” -> “General Settings” make sure all of the below are enabled:

  • Page Cache to create a static version of your site and serve it to your visitors. Choose “Disk: Enhanced” as page cache method
  • Minify to remove unnecessary characters in your files. It also consolidates CSS and JavaScript files to reduce the size and the number of files needed to be downloaded
  • Database Cache, Object Cache and Browser Cache to cache the static files and do gzip compression

Most of the above will impact your theme files.

Do make sure to test your site when you enable these options and see if it displays the way it is supposed to.

Use a CDN

You also have the option to enable CDN (Content Delivery Network) support to offload static files to fast data centers around the world.

MaxCDN is the very powerful premium CDN solution.

It might be too much power for a newbie blogger, but it’s useful to more experienced and bigger bloggers that have more traffic and are OK with investing some money into having a speedy blog.

CloudFlare is a free alternative that you can test.

Another free alternative for your imagery is Photon which is a part of the Jetpack plugin that Automattic (the company behind WordPress) runs.

Keep your WordPress updated

WordPress comes as a very light and speedy platform out of the box.

It gets regularly updated with cleaner and leaner coding and functionality.

You should always make sure to keep your WordPress updated to the latest version.

It’s an easy process that can be automated.

Optimize the WordPress database

You should make sure to optimize the WordPress database too.

This is where WordPress stores and organizes all your data.

WP-Optimize is a great plugin that helps you run regular database maintenance without any tech know-how and with one click on a button.

It cleans all post revisions, spam comments and reduces the size of your database.

Aim to set it to do this process automatically at least once per month.

Choose the right web host for WordPress beginners

Invest in a good web space and the right hosting plan.

Your server is the foundation and the first step towards having a speedy WordPress blog.

Free hosts are usually not too fast, unreliable with regular downtimes, so I would avoid them.

You want a host that is reliable and guarantees at least a 99% uptime and a server that has a fast response time.

Look for webhosts with managed services that specialize in WordPress blogs.

You can get these for around $50 per year for basic WordPress blogs and they are great options for starters.

See my post on getting started with WordPress for the recommended hosting services.

Eventually, as your blog traffic increases you may outgrow the basic hosting account.

Only then you may need to invest in a dedicated server, but here we talk of thousands of visitors daily.

Use a light, fast, clean and minimalistic design theme

Some WordPress design themes have more features than you will ever need, some have bad and bloated code, unnecessary images and JavaScripts.

You should choose a light and clean coded design theme with a good balance between the looks, functionality and speed.

The theme should also be mobile responsive and optimized for visitors on tablets and mobile devices.

One option is to go with a premium theme like the one that I use on my blog.

Premium themes are highly likely to be developed clean coded.

They offer you great flexibility, are speedy out of the box, and allow you to customize your design.

Premium themes also provide support and are continuously upgraded and improved.

This is not always the case with the free-to-use WordPress themes.

Here’s all my advice on picking the right blog design.

I’ve handpicked these free, minimalistic, lightweight and mobile responsive options for you to consider:

Wilson:

Wilson WordPress Theme

Decode:

Decode WordPress Theme

Ignite:

Ignite WordPress Theme

Reduce the number of WordPress plugins you’re using

I love WordPress plugins as they allow me to add any feature that I can imagine to my blog.

The potential issue is that the more plugins you add, the more CSS and Javascripts you have and this hurts the page loading speed.

You should try to avoid using a plugin when a bit of modification to your theme will get you the same results.

I’m currently using 5 plugins on my blog, down from having some 20+ not too long ago.

A ballpark figure is to try to keep your WordPress to 10 plugins or less activated at any time.

Consider whether the plugin truly adds any value to your site before installing it.

You should only use plugins that are listed in the official WordPress directory.

Quality signs to look for are:

  • High number of downloads and blogs using the plugin.
  • Regular and recent updates.
  • Good reviews.

For a list of 50+ plugins that I recommend check here.

Just keep it simple, stupid

In order to keep your WordPress blog speed as fast as possible think like a minimalist.

Consider simplicity and user friendliness when making any design and content decision.

This will help your user’s experience and it will decrease the loading time and the bounce rate too.

Remove and eliminate all the elements that don’t matter such as buttons, widgets, flashy ads and pop-ups.

Think about what purpose these elements have and test how they affect the speed.

Show fewer posts on your front page and category pages. You can do this in the “Reading” part of WordPress settings.

Show post excerpts and summaries instead of full posts on the front page and category pages. Many themes allow this change to be done.

Simplify your navigation menu, sidebar and footer. Only keep necessary and essential widgets. Or simply remove the sidebar.

Restrict the amount of flash and image based banner ads. There are more effective options to monetize your blog.

Make sure to take these steps to fight and eliminate those spam comments. Spam comments (and the comments area in general) can slow down the loading time.

Last but not least do follow this advice to keep your WordPress safe and secure.

Aim to implement the majority of the steps recommended as they will make a difference in your blog’s speed and loading time.

Get speedy as Your visitors will love you for the faster and more efficient blog experience and so will Google.

The post 12 Easy Ways To Speed Up Your WordPress Blog Loading Time appeared first on HowToMakeMyBlog.

A Simple Guide To Figuring Out What To Blog About

You know you want to start a blog but you have no idea what to blog about.

This guide is for all those stuck trying to come up with a blog topic.

In this post, I will show you the simple process to follow and find the right topic to cover.

This perfect topic, your sweet blogging spot, is found by interlinking your passion and personality with the demand from the market.

Your sweet blogging spot

1. Write down a list of things that interest you, that you like and care about

Your blog cannot appeal to everyone.

If you attempt to post content about every idea or issue that pops into your head at any given moment, you will lack direction.

You can’t teach everyone about everything, so don’t even bother.

It’s much easier to attract visitors if you have a very focused topic.

Fully embrace your passions and obsessions.

The topic of my first website was about the rock’n’roll band Metallica.

I loved them, spent a lot of time listening to their music, figuring out song meanings and going to their concerts.

I curated all the info that I could find about the band and put it all together in a nicely organized website.

The band didn’t even have an active official website in those days, so I was able to create a niche site that other fans and people interested in the band found very attractive.

To find your perfect blog topic, you should look inside and see where the raw energy comes from.

There’s no point in putting a lot of effort into a blog on a topic that you don’t care about.

Success isn’t guaranteed but it’s much more likely when you are emotionally invested in the work you’re doing.

When you blog about things that you love, it makes you enjoy what you do and turns the “work” into play.

It gets you over hurdles and fuels you day to day.

How you spend your time reveals what your true passions and interests are.

Write down a list of things that interest you, that you like and care about.

Something that engages you emotionally and makes you come alive.

What gets you up in the morning?

What do you love to do and what do you dream about?

2. Look for something people are already trying to do, then help them do it

Define the problems you are trying to come up with the solutions for.

Teaching sells. Reputations are built by those that teach, share knowledge, experiences and insights.

We live in the information age where people rely on information and use the internet to do research.

If you cover a topic that other people can use to improve their lives and careers, you can become an authority and make a living by teaching those people those skills.

Some blogs are created by experts with a valuable skill and an asset that differentiates them from others.

People pay attention to those they see as experts.

In words of Mark Twain: “Write what you know”.

Look for something real people are already trying to do, then help them do it and solve their problems.

Which topic do people around you perceive you to be an expert at?

What do your family and friends ask you for help with?

Look at what you do better than other people, things that don’t challenge you but that others struggle with and teach others how to do it too.

But you don’t have to be the expert and the best in the world on your favorite topics to start a blog.

Some successful blogs are created by people who are just starting out sharing their experience in a new field.

They express a unique point of view, share their journey and the lessons learned.

There’s always someone that knows less about you on a topic and that can get valuable insights from your guidance.

Choose to ride the wave of a completely new and growing trend by doing research, learning about the field, experimenting, acquiring skills and taking the visitors on your journey.

New trends are typically less competitive than mainstream trends.

Knowing simple things and getting the basics right counts for a lot.

Instead of being a small fish in a big pond, you aim to become a big fish in a small pond.

And if the trend really breaks through, the pond will increase and you stand to win big.

3. Consider the reality in the market, the demand and interest from an audience

Successful blogs are not built on passion and ideas alone.

Just because your heart comes alive at a calling doesn’t mean that there is an audience for it.

You need to consider the reality in the market, the demand and interest from an audience.

Use Google’s Keyword Planner and Google Trends to see how many people search for the topics you’re interested in.

Use sites like Buzzsumo and Ruzzit to monitor the most shared content topics on the web.

Use Google Hot Trends to figure out the new trending topics people search for.

Search social media for people talking about the topic.

Pay very careful attention to the things users complain about.

Search for phrases like “I wish I could do…” or “I hate…”.

Use question-answer platforms such as Yahoo Answers and Quora to find questions real people are asking.

Look also into the trending topics lists on Twitter, Imgur, Reddit, and Pinterest.

Find out how many other successful blogs exist in your chosen fields by searching Google.

Look for niche communities, forums, and Facebook groups where people get together to discuss this topic.

Many successful blogs, communities and people interested in the field are all very positive signs.

It proves that there’s a market demand and that people are willing to pay for products and services about this topic.

How can I break through and attract an audience?

The world is drowning in an ocean of blogs.

When a field is highly competitive, it can be challenging to get much attention to yourself.

The common angle of looking at a topic is no longer of any real interest.

You should add an angle on an angle.

Will you be visiting every country in the world and blogging about it?

Will you be developing a new start-up idea every month and teaching people how to do it too?

Keep an open mind as you might happen to find that various passions mixed in a personal way can create something unique.

There are a gazillion sites about fashion, but there’s only a handful about fashion and cooking.

Spice things up and develop your own unique concept and a unique selling point that differentiates your blog topic and makes it more compelling than the other blogs on the market.

Here’s my complete guide to creating attractive content: Use These Highly Engaging Concepts To Publish Blog Content That Gets Visitors And Shares.

Steps to starting your own blog

Do you have the perfect topic in mind? Great!

The process of actually starting your blog is pretty simple.

First, you need to decide what blogging platform you will use.

I love WordPress and use it to run all my projects.

It’s an open-source platform, powers more than 60 million blogs and gives you the complete control over the look and feel, features and other aspects of your blog.

Don’t build your own software to run your blog, just use WordPress.

It will save you weeks and weeks of work.

Don’t get a custom designed theme for your blog either.

Just get one of the free or premium templates that already exist for WordPress.

They are amazing and will save you lots of money and time, and there’s a much better use of your money and time right now.

You also get access to resources such as my blog to help you with all the WordPress tips and tricks you may need.

WordPress needs a domain name and a web server space to work.

A domain name is the address people will type to get access to your blog and a server space is where your content and files are hosted online.

Don’t worry too much about where to host your blog in the early days.

There are many capable and affordable providers for hosting. Expect to pay around $5 per month.

I recommend Bluehost. It’s simple to use, offers a free domain name, an affordable hosting account with unlimited space and WordPress officially recommends it.

More than 2 million WordPress blogs are hosted there.

It will take you 5 minutes to get your blog online with their 1-click installation feature. Just like this.

See my complete guide here.

Disclosure: I do earn a commission if you sign-up to Bluehost using my link at no additional cost to you. Plus you do get an exclusive discount as a visit from my blog. Please know that I only recommend products and services that I find helpful and useful. If you do choose to buy through my affiliate link, thank you for your support!

The post A Simple Guide To Figuring Out What To Blog About appeared first on HowToMakeMyBlog.

Blog Topic Ideas: A Simple Guide To Figuring Out The Niche To Blog About

You know you want to start a blog but you have no idea which niche to blog about.

This guide is for all those stuck trying to come up with a blog topic.

In this post, I will show you the simple process to follow and figure out the right niche idea to cover.

This perfect topic, your sweet blogging spot, is found by interlinking your passion and personality with the demand from the market.

Your sweet blogging spot

Here’s a list of 36 most popular blogging niche examples

It is a great sign if many successful blogs exist in a specific field.

Another great sign are the existence of niche communities, forums, and Facebook groups where people get together to discuss the specific topic.

Many successful blogs, communities and people interested in the field are all very positive signs for the potential of a blog.

It proves that there’s a market demand and that people are willing to pay for products and services about this topic.

This means that not only can you build an audience with this niche but you can also make money blogging about that niche.

Some of the most popular niche examples for blogging are:

  • How to make money
  • Personal finance and investing advice
  • Personal development and self-improvement
  • Frugality and budgeting
  • Games and entertainment
  • Sports and sports clubs
  • Celebrities
  • Minimalism and simpler living
  • Health and nutrition
  • Losing weight
  • Physical fitness, running and exercise
  • Vegetarianism and veganism
  • Food and recipes
  • Travel advice and travel guides
  • Environment and eco-tourism
  • Photography and videography
  • Cars, car maintenance and driving
  • Makeup and beauty
  • Fashion and personal style
  • Pregnancy, parenting and family life
  • Home schooling
  • Interior design and home decor
  • Career advice
  • Small business advice
  • Self-employment and freelancing
  • Working from home
  • Personal branding
  • Public speaking
  • Location independence
  • Learn how to speak a language
  • Learn how to play an instrument
  • Learn how to play a sport
  • DIY projects
  • Writing advice
  • Gardening
  • Humour
  • Learning how to code
  • Web development
  • Web design
  • Mobile application development

Look for a niche topic that people want and ask for, then help them do it

Successful blogs are not built on passion and ideas alone.

Just because your heart comes alive at a calling doesn’t mean that there is an audience for it.

You need to consider the reality in the market, the demand and interest from an audience.

Look for something real people are already trying to do, then help them do it and solve their problems.

These are topics that are important to them, and real pain points too as people have taken their time to ask questions about them.

So how do you find what people want and ask for?

Use question-answer platforms such as Yahoo AnswersStack Overflow and Quora to find questions real people are asking.

Use tools that help you discover popular questions and themes people care about such as BloomBerry and AnswerThePublic.

Look also into the trending topics lists on Twitter, Imgur, Reddit, and Pinterest.

Use Google’s Keyword Planner, Google Trends, and Google Hot Trends to see how many people search for the topics you’re interested in.

Use sites like Buzzsumo and Ruzzit to monitor the most shared content topics on the web.

Search social media for people talking about the topic.

Pay very careful attention to the things users complain about.

Search for phrases like “I wish I could do…” or “I hate…”.

After doing this research you should have a long list of popular topics that there is a market demand for.

Evaluate these popular topics and select those that interest you, that you like and care about

Your blog cannot appeal to everyone.

If you attempt to post content about every idea or issue that pops into your head at any given moment, you will lack direction.

You can’t teach everyone about everything, so don’t even bother.

It’s much easier to attract visitors if you have a very focused topic.

To choose the perfect blog topic, you should look inside and see where the raw energy comes from.

There’s no point in putting a lot of effort into a blog on a topic that you don’t care about.

No matter how popular that topic is.

Success isn’t guaranteed but it’s much more likely when you are emotionally invested in the work you’re doing.

When you blog about things that you love, it makes you enjoy what you do and turns the “work” into play.

It gets you over hurdles and fuels you day to day.

The topic of my first website was about the rock’n’roll band Metallica.

I loved them, spent a lot of time listening to their music, figuring out song meanings and going to their concerts.

I curated all the info that I could find about the band and put it all together in a nicely organized website.

The band didn’t even have an active official website in those days, so I was able to create a niche site that other fans and people interested in the band found very attractive.

Fully embrace your passions and obsessions.

How you spend your time reveals what your true passions and interests are.

Write down a list of things that interest you, that you like and care about.

Something that engages you emotionally and makes you come alive.

What gets you up in the morning?

What do you love to do and what do you dream about?

After doing this exercise you will have focused your long list of popular topics into a handful that you also love and care about.

Now identify which of the popular topics that you love you can also be very good at

Teaching sells. Reputations are built by those that teach, share knowledge, experiences and insights.

We live in the information age where people rely on information and use the internet to do research.

If you cover a topic that other people can use to improve their lives and careers, you can become an authority and make a living by teaching those people those skills.

Some blogs are created by experts with a valuable skill and an asset that differentiates them from others.

People pay attention to those they see as experts.

Those that are specialized, have a deep expertise and a fundamental edge in a particular field.

In words of Mark Twain: “Write what you know”.

Look at what you do better than other people, things that don’t challenge you but that others struggle with and teach others how to do it too.

Which of these popular topics that you care about do people around you perceive you to be an expert at?

What do your family and friends ask you for help with?

Define the problems you are trying to come up with the solutions for.

But you don’t already have to be the expert and the best in the world on your favorite topics to start a blog.

Some successful blogs are created by people who are just starting out sharing their experience in a new field.

They express a unique point of view, share their journey and the lessons learned.

There’s always someone that knows less about you on a topic and that can get valuable insights from your guidance.

You can also choose to ride the wave of a growing trend by doing research, learning about the field, experimenting, acquiring skills and taking the visitors on your journey.

New trends are typically less competitive than mainstream trends.

Knowing simple things and getting the basics right counts for a lot.

Instead of being a small fish in a big pond, you aim to become a big fish in a small pond.

And if the trend really breaks through, the pond will increase and you stand to win big.

After doing this exercise you now have one to three topics that there is a market demand for, that you love and care about, and that you believe you have something good to contribute with.

How can I break through and attract an audience in a popular niche?

The world is drowning in an ocean of blogs.

When a field is highly competitive, it can be challenging to get much attention to yourself no matter how good you are.

The common angle of looking at a topic is no longer of any real interest.

You should add an angle on an angle.

Will you be visiting every country in the world and blogging about it?

Will you be developing a new start-up idea every month and teaching people how to do it too?

Keep an open mind as you might happen to find that various passions mixed in a personal way can create something unique.

There are a gazillion sites about fashion, but there’s only a handful about fashion and cooking.

Spice things up and develop your own unique concept and a unique selling point that differentiates your blog topic and makes it more compelling than the other blogs on the market.

Something that grabs the attention of your target audience.

After this exercise you are left with at least one great concept for a topic there is a demand for, a topic that you love and a topic to which you can contribute something different and fresh.

How to start your amazing blog today

Do you have the perfect topic in mind? Great!

The process of actually starting your blog is pretty simple.

WordPress is an open-source blogging platform, it powers 60+ million blogs and gives you the complete control over the look and feel of your blog.

Using WordPress will save you weeks and weeks of work, and lots of money too.

You don’t need to build your own software to run your blog. You can just use WordPress.

You don’t need to get a custom design for your blog either. Just get one of the free or premium templates that already exist.

You also get access to resources such as my blog to help you with all the tips and tricks you may need.

WordPress needs a domain name and a web hosting server to work.

A domain name is the address people will type to get access to your blog and a server space is where your content and files are hosted online.

There are several capable and affordable providers for hosting.

WordPress users offerI recommend Bluehost.

They offer a free domain name, 24/7 live support and WordPress recommends them.

More than 2 million WordPress blogs are hosted there.

And you can get hosted at $2.95 per month.

Click here to get started now.

It will take you 5 minutes to get your blog online with the 1-click installation feature.

Follow this process:


Disclosure: I do earn a commission if you sign-up using my link at no additional cost to you. Please know that I only recommend products that I find helpful and useful. If you do choose to buy through my link, thank you for your support!

The post Blog Topic Ideas: A Simple Guide To Figuring Out The Niche To Blog About appeared first on HowToMakeMyBlog.