How to Start a Blog in 2017

How to Start a Blog in 2017

This post contains affiliate links, which means I’ll make a little bit of pocket change to keep this blog up and running when you make a purchase through them.  Thanks as always for your support!

Crazy 8 Sale On Now!

There are millions upon millions of blogs in the world. If you’ve finally decided to take the opportunity to earn some extra income by blogging, this is the post for you. My goal today is to explain the critical steps necessary to getting off to a strong start in the blogging world

I’m relatively new to the blogging world. I didn’t start until late 2015. At that time, my blog wasn’t about making money, but more about documenting my experiences as a dad of 4 kids. As I slowly got acquainted to the blogging world, I quickly began to realize that I needed to do more than just write.

Why Start A Blog in 2017?

There are many reasons you would want to start a blog. Here are a few of those:

  • Make money – Most people start a blog as a way to earn a full-time income, or to supplement existing income.  Blogging has a very low startup cost and the level of knowledge needed to succeed is relatively low. This doesn’t mean that it’s going to be easy. Running a blog is hard work and takes a lot of time and effort.
  • Promote your business – If you already have a business, starting a blog is a great way to promote the business and connect with your clients.
  • Connect with others – Blogging is a fantastic way to build common ground, touch lives, and form communities of like-minded individuals. I can’t tell you how valuable the new connections I’ve made are to the success of my blog.

Steps to get up and running today

Here are the main topics we’ll touch on today.  After reading these steps, you should be able to have your blog up and running within minutes.

  1. Determine your subject matter
  2. Decide on a platform
  3. Choose a web hosting provider
  4. Find a creative domain name
  5. Choose a theme
  6. Write your first post
  7. Share your posts
  8. Incorporate affiliate links
  9. Continuously improve

Determine your subject matter

The very first step in starting a blog is figuring out what you are going to write about.  I don’t care if you are the most popular person in the world, if you write about lame and boring topics, no one is going to waste time reading what you have to say. You must choose what you are going to focus on before you move any further in the process, because the theme and domain name of your blog will depend on this. My blog, Go Ask Your Daddy, focuses on several topics that I know a lot about – blogging tools and tips, parenting tips from a dad’s perspective, and the Catholic faith.

You need to do a lot of research before you decide on your niche. Find out what subject matter does well. Know your audience – who are you talking to?  My blog caters to several types of audiences. For the blogging tips, it caters to just about anyone curious about starting and promoting a blog.  I’ve found that mostly women between the ages of 25-35 are interested in what I have to say on parenting topics. The key to succeeding in your niche is knowing who you are gearing your content to, and catering your posts to them.

Decide on a blogging platform

Okay, so you’ve chosen your niche.  Great!  The next step is determining how you are going to produce your content. There are several options available to choose from, so do your research ahead of time and choose the one that suits your needs the most. Watch out for the free services. Yes, they are free, which is good for some things, but let me tell you from experience, free is not always the best route to go. If you are looking to make a name for yourself and rise among the professional bloggers, free is the wrong way to go. WordPress does offer a free version, but as I’ve said before in previous posts, you don’t want to use a domain name that’s obviously free.

I use WordPress, have used WordPress for 2 years, and don’t plan on using anything but WordPress in the future. WordPress is the industry standard for blogging. It has a little bit of a learning curve, but is very effective in doing everything you need to do to run a successful blog. You’ll see two types of WordPress sites out there today. WordPress.com and WordPress.org.  Wordpress.com is not a self-hosted option, which means you are limited in what you can do and the income you can earn. WordPress.org means you are self-hosted and can do more in terms of options and income. Choose wisely!

Choose a web hosting provider

One of the most critical decisions you need to make when starting a blog is in choosing a web hosting provider. A web hosting company provides you with the online space to publish your blog. You will store all of your online files through your hosting company.

There are many, many providers out there.  If you don’t do research on anything else I tell you today, do your research on web hosting companies. Your hosting plan can make or break your blog very easily. If you have a hosting provider that is notoriously slow and/or down, your blog will suffer.

I started my blog using Bluehost. I found them to be very reliable and also found a lot of my blogging friends used them as well. They have good options, fast and reliable speed, and their customer support is top-notch. When my year was up with them, I was angered to see a major increase in the cost of my hosting, which caused me to have to go to another provider – eHost. I hadn’t heard too much about eHost, so I was initially skeptical about switching to them.  eHost has been very stable and their range of options are wide. The only complaint I have after the last few months is that their technical support responses have been slow by email. I recommend using their live chat vs sending them an email.

Find a creative domain name

Most of the time, you can choose your domain name at the same time you are signing up for web hosting, but this isn’t always the case. If you find a cheaper price elsewhere, but want to host it with another company, you can, but I find it easier to do everything with a one-stop shop. Your domain name is the web address people will type in to find your blog. Mine is www.goaskyourdaddy.com.

Be creative when you are choosing a domain name. Some bloggers go with their actual name, while others use a creative name. I chose www.goaskyourdaddy.com because I knew people would know I’m a daddy blogger, and it’s easy to remember. Make sure you select a domain name that relates to your niche. It’s going to go EVERYWHERE  – in email signatures, in Facebook groups, on media kits and business cards, etc. Choose wisely!

Choose a theme

Since I use WordPress, I have access to THOUSANDS of creative themes for my blog. WordPress makes it easy to browse for themes inside of the dashboard. What I like most about it is that you can filter down to the features you want the theme to have. This saves a lot of time browsing through themes that don’t meet your needs.  Right now, I’m using the light version of my theme, but plan on upgrading to the pro soon. Your theme should reflect your blog’s niche.  There are some themes that are too noisy in terms of color and features – steer clear of these. Make sure your theme provides you with all the tools you need to set your blog up to your expectations. Most of the time, you’ll have to invest a little money here. It’s money well-spent!

Write your first post

Now that your blog is ready to go, it’s time to write your first post. I do want to admit that my very first post sucked badly. This is because I had no clue in how to structure a blog post. Now that I’ve done my research on the best ways to structure blog posts, readers have given me positive feedback. My trick in structuring my blog posts is by using an outline. An outline allows you time to think about where you want to place your headers and links, and gives you time to analyze the structure before you write it down. Outlines do take a little extra time, but in my opinion are worth every second because it makes the post much easier to read and follow.

In WordPress, you have the option to save as a draft, which is a great feature if you like to write in pieces and then come back to finish up. There are several other options you’ll want to pay attention to as you are creating your post.

  • Categories – Categories are like the table of contents in a book. Let’s use my site for an example of how categories work. Look to the right of this post into my sidebar. You’ll see a drop down menu called “Categories.” Let’s say you want to see every post I’ve written about sports. I created a “Sports” category and selected it every time I wrote a sports-related blog post. If you select “Sports” from the Category menu, you’ll be presented with any post I’ve written about Sports. Go ahead and try it, but come back to this post!
  • Tags – Tags are more like an index than a table of contents. Tags are keywords that tell the reader what the post is about. Go ahead and scroll to the bottom of this post. You’ll see I’ve included several tags that tie to the subject matter of this post. Tags are also a good way to group related posts. Think of them as being just like hashtags on Twitter. If you click on a hashtag in Twitter, you’ll be presented with any posts that include that tag. It’s a great way to read related content.
  • Featured Image – The featured image is the image that will show up at the top of your blog post.  Look at the top of this post. Do you see the very cool image I’ve created for this post?  That’s the featured image.  Whenever you share your post, unless you’ve told WordPress to use a different image, by default, it will use the featured image. I use a creative featured image for every blog post.
  • Sharing –  Under the featured image is an option to select which social media sites you want to share the post to once you’ve hit publish. While you can connect to any service you want, I usually share to the big boys – Facebook and Twitter.
  • Post format – I don’t mess with this feature very much, but can be useful depending on the type of post you are writing. If you are only posting an image or a video, this feature will format the post to that particular medium. Since I primarily post in regular text and images, I leave this setting at “Standard.”

Share your posts

You’ve spent hours writing and perfecting your post before publishing it. The next step is critical in getting readers to it. I always share my posts through a variety of mediums: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Flipboard, etc. I take the extra steps in sharing my new post inside the many Facebook groups in which I participate.

Incorporate affiliate links

If you are looking to make income with your blog, and don’t want to rely on Google Adsense, affiliate links are fantastic income producers. If you find the opportunity to incorporate an affiliate link to promote a product that relates to your post, do it. I wrote a very informative post on how to make the most of affiliate links. I recommend checking it out, as well as my post on how to make passive income with affiliate marketing.

I’m a big supporter of ShareASale. They are one of the best networks out there with thousands of approved merchants. I wrote a review of ShareASale earlier this year so if you are trying to decide whether or not to check them out, read the review to help make that decision.

Continuously improve

I hope you’ve found this post helpful.  One more piece of I advice I have for you is to always be willing to change things up and find ways to improve.  Stay updated on the latest blogging trends and always look for ways to stick out above the competition. There are so many ways to get your content out there. I’m currently writing an Ebook composed of all of my blogging posts.  This post will be in it as well. The Ebook will allow me to share my content even more.

If you have any questions about how to start a blog (that I didn’t answer today), feel free to email me at jeremy@goaskyourdaddy.com.

5 Reasons Why No One Cares About Your Blog

Hey gang! Are you one of those bloggers struggling to get comments, likes, and shares on your shiny new blog post? Are you getting frustrated at the end of the month to see that you’ve actually LOST followers? For many bloggers, the only sound in the world they hear after posting what they think is the best blog post they’ve ever written is the sound of chirping crickets.  Sound like you? If so, this post is perfect for you!

Today, I’m going to talk about 5 reasons why this is happening and give you the tools you need to overcome this.

1 – You’re spitting out garbage

Producing high-quality content is CRITICAL in drawing in and maintaining readers. If you are posting just to post, it’s not going to get you anywhere. I don’t post a blog post unless I know that the content I’m writing solves a reader’s problem or provides guidance on an important topic.  The post I’m writing today helps solve a problem. You may think it’s fun to write about a random activity you did during the day, but to 99% of the rest of the world, it’s just not that interesting. Sorry to inform you, but it’s true.

Too many blogs I follow today seem to post 2-3 times a day with random, unimportant information. I usually just hit the delete button because I just am not interested in reading random gobbldy-gook.

Before you publish your next blog post, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What do I plan to accomplish with this blog post?
  2. Am I providing solutions to common problems that my readers experience?
  3. Is this information relevant to my readers?

If you can’t answer these questions with valid answers, chances are your post will not get many eyes on it. Think twice before posting it. Find ways to make that post interesting, useful, and valuable. If you can’t find ways, scrap it!

2 – Your site is hard to follow

Blog design and structure is so important in bringing in and retaining readers. If your site is covered with pop up ads and useless buttons all over the place, it’s going to make it very difficult to navigate and follow.  Limit your WordPress widgets! The more widgets you have, the slower your site will be.

When a visitor comes to your site, you have less than several seconds to impress (or detract) them. Make the most of the space you have to only include vital information about you, your blog, your social media contact information, and how to subscribe.

Your blog’s sidebar can be a very tempting place to throw in all of those “award” buttons you’ve collected, or all of your social media feeds. Keep in mind, though, while it’s not always a bad thing to have a full sidebar, each of those things you add to your sidebar contribute to the overall loading time of your site.  Not only that, but it also can make your site look cluttered. I recently removed all of my social media feeds from my sidebar. If someone wants to see my Twitter feed, they can follow me and view it on Twitter itself. Why waste valuable space on the sidebar?

3 – You’re posting too much

Yes, there is such thing as posting too many blog posts.  Unless you have groundbreaking news or information to share with your writers, don’t overwhelm their inbox with 10 posts a day. My personal goal is no more than 3 posts per week.  I spend the rest of my time participating in my Facebook groups, my Pinterest group boards, and engaging with other bloggers.

The reason I spend so much of my time engaging with others is that your readers need to see that you are a genuine person, full of valuable ideas and information to share, and not just another one of the million plus bloggers trying to earn a quick buck.

Set a schedule for when and what you are going to post. Stick to it. There are going to be times when it’s ok to ignore that rule. As I’ve increased my following and influence in the blogging world, I get more opportunities to review products and host giveaways. Since those come in unannounced most of the time, I usually prioritize them and post them right away.  But, in general, never bombard your readers with tons of worthless blog posts unless you have a damn good reason!

4 – You’re not promoting enough

No one will read your posts if they don’t know about it.  Utilize your social media channels to promote your valuable content. Use keywords and the right hashtags to make your posts fall under more eyes. Make SEO research part of your posting process.

There are many good tools to help you share your content. I personally use Hootsuite to schedule blog posts to Facebook and Twitter. I also recommend trying out Tailwind and Boardbooster for your Pinterest account.  While there are fees tied to all of these, sometimes you’ve got to put a little money into it to get a good rate of return.

The bottom line is – just hitting the publish button isn’t enough. No one will see your post unless they have subscribed to your blog. Your key is to draw in NEW readers while retaining CURRENT readers. Here’s how I share each and every post I publish:

5 – You don’t own a domain name

How many times have you seen someone with a blogname.wordpress.com URL and thought to yourself – FREE blog? NOT having a customized domain name that truly reflects your blog topics is a big turnoff! Spend the less than $10 per year it takes to own your own domain and self-host your blog. When I see someone’s blog URL isn’t customized, I move on and don’t value the information they’re sharing.  I’m 99% sure other serious bloggers do the same.

Time to get to work!

If any of the above applies to you, it’s time to get to work. Procrastinating on making these changes only continues to hurt you. Spend the time and money it takes to get a good blog moving in the direction of a great blog. If you identify with making any of these mistakes, the time is now to improve!

There are resources out there to help. I recommend my Blogging Tools and Tips Pinterest group board as a good place to start. There are over 2,000 pins strictly about blogging from seasoned professionals on this board.  Sort through them and see if any of them strike a chord with you. I’ve found unending value from reading how others do things and applying what I’ve learned to my own site.

Join my Blogger Share and Promo Facebook group.  We are all about sharing content, providing advice, and helping each other’s blogs grow.

Until next time!

8 Things You Can Do to Quadruple Blog Traffic

8 Things You Can Do to Quadruple Blog Traffic

Hey, you know the deal, I gotta tell you that this post contains affiliate links. 

I haven’t been a blogger for long – just over 1 year to be exact. In that time I’ve learned a lot of what to do and what NOT to do. There are 8 specific steps you can take today to make your blog’s traffic increase light-years ahead of where it is today. I’m really excited to share these 8 steps with you today in hopes that you will experience the same success that I have.

Increase Word Length

8 Things You Can Do to Quadruple Blog Traffic

It’s been proven that Google, as well as the other search engines out there, love longer posts. But, you shouldn’t just focus on hitting 1,000 words per post.  If your content doesn’t help anyone solve a problem, or provide a wealth of knowledge, what good is word count? Specific examples and specific directions lead to more blog engagement.

I challenged myself as a part of my New Year’s resolutions to write posts with a minimum of 800 words.  The posts where I’ve hit or exceeded this target have seen higher engagement and page views. Rather than throwing together 2-3 500 word blog posts per week, I reduced my blog posts to 1-2 longer-crafted posts focused on real engagement.

When I reviewed my older blog posts, I quickly came to notice that the shorter blog posts still did ok, but they weren’t ground-breaking. I was lucky to get 10 views on them.  Occasionally, they would see higher views, but not to the extent that my longer posts get.

Make the Sharing Process a No-Brainer

8 Things You Can Do to Quadruple Blog Traffic

Have you ever been to another blog post and tried to figure out where the share bar was? You read some super cool content, but now have no easy way to share it. Bummer, right? It is YOUR job as the author to make it a breeze to share content across multiple mediums.

Since I use WordPress to run my blog, I rely on Shareaholic buttons.  Shareaholic is a simple WordPress plugin that makes sharing content across dozens of social media accounts so easy. I use the float buttons on the left side of my blog and make it easy for readers to click and share. It shouldn’t be harder than that.  If readers are having to scroll to find your share buttons, click on a drop down menu, or even go to another page, you’re set up to fail. MAKE IT SIMPLE!!

Focus on Pinterest

Pinterest is by far my most engaging social media account.  Not only do I share a lot of other content across multiple boards, but every time I create a blog post, I’m posting it to one or more Pinterest boards.

Join group boards and become a collaborator on boards that fit your niche. You’ll find that repins will easily quadruple with the use of automatic scheduling apps such as Tailwind or Boardbooster. Yes, there is a fee to use these services, but it’s worth it in the end. For a small price, you can dramatically blast traffic well beyond where you ever thought was possible.

I spent all of February doing nothing but reworking all of my images to be friendly for Pinterest. I had hundreds of blog posts – but all of them got worked over again. Making your images Pinterest friendly is key to seeing higher engagement and repins.

Oh yeah, and please don’t set up a Pinterest account without creating matching cover photos for all of your boards. It’s worth it!  It makes your account look professional, clean, and consistent. Do it. No matter how much time it may take.

Content is Key

No matter what else you do to your blog –  whether it be a new theme, shiny banner ads, or slick widgets running down the sidebar, no one is going to give a rat’s ass about your blog unless you write useful and helpful content. This is why it’s so important to pick your niche right away and go with it. Writing on a slew of various topics and not keying in on your niche will set you up for a very useless blog. As a matter of fact, there are a few blogs I’ve unsubscribed from over the past few weeks for that reason. Some bloggers are just spitting out crap every day just to post. I guess that’s OK if you aren’t trying to build a brand.  Quality vs quantity is ALWAYS better!

So, I’m going to give you a challenge for reworking your content. Go back through each post and find at least 2 more ways to present the content. Did you know that some blog posts can easily become videos or slide shows?  Creating your content in more than one medium GREATLY increases the opportunity to increase views. Try it!

Cut out Crap

8 Things You Can Do to Quadruple Blog Traffic

We all have crap on our blogs that we know isn’t the best content.  If you are unable to find use for it, or rework it into valuable content, hit the DELETE button immediately. I went through every single blog post over the course of 30 days, and deleted the crap off of my blog. You want to put your best foot forward every time you create a post.

I had a weekly linky party that wasn’t getting much attention, but took a lot of time to manage and schedule. I cut it out of my regular posts and opened up more time to try newer and better things. Of course, what works for me may not work for you. If something is drawing in a ton of views, by all means don’t cut it out. Be smart about it!

Reviews and Giveaways

8 Things You Can Do to Quadruple Blog Traffic

I’ve hosted a few giveaways, and I can tell you there is a lot of interest in FREE STUFF! If you don’t have a product of your own to offer, don’t cry. I’ve reached out to multiple companies to request free stuff for the purpose of an honest review and giveaway. Sometimes the company may not respond, sometimes they may say no, but most of the time you’ll get some sort of sample.

When I wrote my latest review of Candy Club, I emailed my affiliate marketing contact to ask for a free box of candy to review. They gave me what I asked for, and as a result, I was able to draw in a lot of attention to that blog post.  And, the candy was absolutely delicious too!

Product reviews should be written in such a way that readers feel your honesty. Just because you get a free product to review doesn’t mean you have to be 100% positive about it. There are going to be times when you get a really crappy product to review. It is your responsibility to share your experiences and opinions with your readers. If you give them fluff on every review, they will move on to another review. Be honest, be candid, and be detailed!

Network

I can’t tell you how much impact being a part of Facebook groups and Pinterest boards has been in growing my network of blogging friends and boosting my traffic. One of the best ways to get your name out there is to respond to comments, form friendships with niche bloggers, and be a friend to all of those on their blogging journey as well.

I run my own Facebook group, Blogger Share and Promo Group.  As I have transitioned to more of a blogger about blogging vs a blogger about parenting and sports, I’ve been able to join specific groups of like-minded bloggers to share content and swap advice.  The information I have gained from these groups is so valuable!  By the way, it’s a small group right now, but I’m always welcome to adding new members.

Remember when I was talking about Pinterest above? Well, I also have a group board called Blogging Tools and Tips.  I’ve grown from a few pins to over 2,200 pins with over 40 collaborators. Make it a point to always follow every member of your groups and to welcome them. Be the one that opens up that first line of communication. The more ideas that are shared, the better we will all become at blogging. Make it intentional!  And, who doesn’t like their content to be shared?

Don’t Ignore Your Email List

Uh oh, I may be guilty of this one. I haven’t done much with my email list yet. I have about 60 subscribers, but right now they only get emails when I post something on my blog. I think I’m hesitant to do much more than that just because I haven’t had much experience using subscription services. I signed up for MailChimp and have a simple subscription form on my sidebar, but my goal is to really use my email list to drive affiliate sales and grow my following.

Hit the Ground Running!

I hope these tips are beneficial to you.  They have been so incredibly important to me as I have grown my following.  If you ever have any questions on any of the tips above, please email me at jeremy@goaskyourdaddy.com.  I hope you continue to succeed in your quest to high traffic!

Making the Most Of Affiliate Links

Making the Most Of Affiliate Links

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated for purchases you make through them. 

Over the past few weeks, I’ve written several posts about affiliate marketing. Today, let’s talk about how to really make the most of the time and effort spent on affiliate links. Many bloggers fail to make any money off of affiliate marketing, but there are ways to maximize the opportunity.

Affiliate Marketing Definition

You see the term all the time, but what is it?  Basically, affiliate marketing, also known as affiliate advertising,  is the promotion of products and services in exchange for a commission. As an affiliate marketer, your goal is to push traffic in direction of a merchant’s website.  You earn commission whenever someone makes a purchase through the affiliate link on your site.  The amount of commission varies depending on which program you join.

How do Affiliate Links Work?

Each time you use an affiliate link inside a blog or social media post, there is a tracking cookie that is stored in the user’s browser to track sales. Merchant program their cookies to track a user’s purchase activity for different lengths of time.  For example, I may have a link with Candy Club that tracks a user’s activity for 30 days, while Cricut may track for 45. It all depends on the merchant. This information is disclosed to you up front when you apply to a specific affiliate’s program.

Driving Traffic to Merchants

The key to driving traffic to your affiliate merchants is by producing quality content. Writing quality blog posts, along with dropping in an affiliate link if there’s a product or service that relates to your post, will show your readers you are truly supporting what you write, and will prevent readers from thinking that all you are trying to do is sell something. Once you stop writing genuinely, you will lose credibility, and your subscribers won’t be far behind.

Ways to Share Affiliate Links

There are so many creative ways to share affiliate links.  Just because you are sharing them on your site doesn’t mean anyone is going to click on them and buy them. Here are several ways to creatively and effectively include affiliate links into your blog posts.

  • Banner Ads:  Banner ads are easy affiliate links to include on your blog. Simply paste the html code into your post and you’ve got a nice visual creative linked directly to your affiliate’s product. I usually use banner ads in addition to regular text links in my blog posts.
  • Tutorial posts:  Find products you want to promote, then write a post showing your users step-by-step instructions on how to use that product.
  • Persuasive posts:  Write a post comparing several products, persuading your readers to choose your affiliate’s products over a competitor product.
  • Product reviews:  Product reviews are one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to affiliate products. I wrote a review about Candy Club last week, and have already seen income from that post.  The key to product reviews is to only review products you would (and do) actually use. Readers can spot a fake a mile away. Again, the key is to be genuine about what you post.
  • Social Media: Social media is a great way to share affiliate links.  Most of the sales I have made have come from clicks originated from my social media posts.

Becoming an Affiliate

There are many different affiliate programs out there.  Here’s a list of popular ones:

When you log on to ShareASale or any other affiliate network, you get to see a grand list of all of the merchants that have signed up to participate in that network’s affiliate marketing program. Each merchant will set its own terms, conditions, and commission rates. It is your responsibility as an affiliate to read the fine print before you sign up for any program.

Once you have signed up for a program and the merchant has approved you, you now have access to all of that merchant’s coupons, discounts, banners, text links, and datafeed files. How you promote these links is totally up to you, but there are some guidelines set by the FTC that you must follow:

Disclosing Affiliate Links on Your Blog

The FTC requires bloggers promoting affiliate links to disclose this relationship to its readers. What does that mean?  Let’s explore in depth:

You’ve most likely been in a situation where you’ve had to sign a legal document.  A good example of this is when you buy a home. The seller is required to disclose certain conditions by law to you as the buyer so that you can make an educated decision.  It’s the same concept with disclosing affiliate links. Because we are making a commission off of a reader’s purchase through those links, we have to tell our readers this information so that they know. Consider it the “fine print” of your blog post.

The FTC’s purpose in requiring this disclosure is to continue to protect consumers when making online purchases. Consumers have the right to understand what they are buying.  It’s a good thing. If I were buying a car, I’d want the dealer to tell me if the car I’m buying has ever been in an accident.  If they didn’t tell me, I wouldn’t be able to make the best educated decision because I’m being left in the dark about the condition of the car.

Bottom line:  Always, always, always include a clear disclosure in every post that contains affiliate links or banners.  Don’t link to a separate disclosure page on your blog, don’t put it within the body of the post, and definitely don’t put it at the bottom of the post. None of these methods are acceptable.  While you can have a separate disclosure page for your blog, it is not sufficient for the FTC. You must disclose affiliate links BEFORE the first link appears on your post. If you haven’t been disclosing, go back to old posts and add it. The FTC can fine you for violating this rule. Don’t take that risk!

Being Genuine Is The Key

Over everything you do to promote affiliate links, being genuine is the absolute best way of all to gain your readers’ trust in a product. I make it a practice of only recommending products I believe in and would/do use myself. Don’t waste your time just trying to make a quick buck by throwing up any affiliate links.  If you promote high-quality products and services you find useful, chances are, your rate of return will be much greater.

Some of the affiliate products I love and recommend you join include:

Over to You

How have you succeeded with affiliate links?  Was this post helpful in your quest to earning affiliate income?

How to Write a Stellar About Me Page for Your Blog

How to Write a Stellar About Me Page for Your Blog

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

One of the most viewed pages on your blog will be your “About Me” page.  As your following and readership grows, so will the number of people who want to know the super-cool mastermind behind the blog!  It’s very important as a blogger to engage your readers and help them truly care about you.  If they don’t care about you, they won’t care about what you have to say or offer.

Your “About Me” page is the most important page on your blog. Not only does it do the job of introducing you to the world, but it is key in providing vital information about what you can offer to your readers and why they should stay around and click (and hopefully subscribe!).  Get your “About Me” page wrong, and you can be sure to drive AWAY traffic to other sites instead of retaining that traffic.

Today’s post is all about setting your “About Me” page up for success. While I don’t believe it will ever get up to a perfectionist level, there are things that can be done to it to make it ASTONISHING and WONDERFUL!  So, let’s talk about what you should and should not include on your “About Me” page.  While there is no one-size-meets-all formula to creating a stellar “About Me” page, there is information that you should include without a doubt.

Your Bio

Who are you? How did you get to where you are today? Share your goals and values.  Let your readers see the real you. Being yourself is key to gaining your readers’ trust and confidence that by reading what you have to say, they can find value.

Talk about the parts of you that make you a unique blogger. You don’t have to give a chronological explanation of everything you’ve gone through in your life, but do include those skills, experiences, and successes that make you an expert in your niche.

Include a Photo

While you may already have your photo in a sidebar, you should also include another photo on your “About Me” page. By all means, do NOT include a photo that would embarrass you, your family, or your readers. Make sure you are dressed professionally/appropriately for your blog’s niche. If you’re offering professional services, don’t show up in shorts and a t-shirt. Wear a suit.  Get the point?

Describe your blog content

So now that we know about YOU as an individual, we want to know what your blog is about, and why we should spend our valuable time on YOUR page vs the millions of other pages out there. Draw us in to what makes your content special, valuable, and time-worthy. If you haven’t figured it out yet, this page needs to SHINE!

Show how you can help your readers

Your readers may have landed on your site because they did a search for specific information. This is your opportunity to clearly explain what you can do for them to help them meet their needs.  As a parenting blogger, I try to provide valuable information to new parents or those who are seeking new ways of doing things. By providing new perspectives and ideas, we can draw our readers in for wanting more. Don’t just recycle information most people have heard before. Create new, exhilarating content that your readers will remember, love, and share with others!

Provide examples of how you have helped others

Above we talked about the importance of telling your readers how you can help them. Now’s your chance to talk about your success stories! Do you have a portfolio or project? Share it! Provide specific examples, numbers, data, and photos. This lets your readers see tangible results they can expect from you as well.  Walk the walk if you are going to talk the talk!

Your contact information

This may seem dumb and/or obvious, but don’t forget to include the best ways to contact you for more information. I’m not saying you have to include every single social media account URL.  The best way to provide contact information is through a separate “Contact Me” link. Check out my contact page as an example.  I have a simple contact form as well as my social media account links.

Recent/Popular Posts

Never miss an opportunity to show off your best work. Create a list (3-5) linking to your highest performing posts. Show your readers what they have to look forward to by subscribing to your blog.

Now what?

You’ve followed my suggestions above and put together a stellar “About Me” page. Now what? Continue to update it. Don’t let it sit unedited. Update your information as you grow as a writer, and as your readers’ needs change. Refresh the popular/recent post links and look for opportunities to update your photo.

Share with me!

What’s on YOURAbout Me” page?  Do you have more ideas for a stellar “About Me” page? Share in the comments below!

How to Skyrocket Passive Income Through Affiliate Marketing

How to Skyrocket Passive Income Through Affiliate Marketing

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links
Save 10-20% on select Majestic Cool Base and Flex Base jerseys + Free Shipping on Orders over $50 at MLBShop.com through 3/17

Have you ever wondered how all of these other bloggers are becoming so successful with affiliate marketing? If so, this is the post for you. Affiliate marketing can seem so overwhelming at times, but it doesn’t have to be.  I’ve put together a detailed guide on how to sign up with ShareASale so that you too can be on your way to success.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

To keep it simple, affiliate marketing is when bloggers like you or me sign up to promote a merchant’s products and services in exchange for a commission.  When I place a merchant’s links within my blog post (or use banner ads), I get commission when a reader clicks on the link and that click leads to a purchase.

There are all kinds of merchants available for promotion. The good thing is that there are so many merchants that we have the ability to only sign up for programs that interest us.  As a daddy blogger, I look for merchants that sell products related to my niche.  I never promote or recommend products I don’t believe in or use.

Why Would I Want To Spend Time On This?

Affiliate marketing allows bloggers and site owners to earn income based on their sales performance with their merchants. While starting off can be a little slow before you start seeing income roll in, it’s a great method to earn extra passive income.

I won’t lie to you today about the work needed to succeed in affiliate marketing. It takes a lot of time to craft blog posts in such a way to make your readers not feel like you are just trying to sell them something. Trust me, the first time they feel that way, it’ll be the last time they visit your site.

Hopefully, you started blogging because you are passionate about something. You want to share that passion with others. From time to time, you have products or services to recommend your readers that will be a value for them.  This is where affiliate marketing is at its best. By blending in the links with your blog posts, you can make your readers feel like you are truly offering a product or service to them that will better their lives.

Throwing up banner ads like there is no tomorrow, or putting a million affiliate links all over a blog post may eventually lead to sales, but it won’t lead to reader loyalty. Be smart about when and where you place the links.

I didn’t receive my first commission until November of 2016.  I spent months perfecting the best ways to introduce those products to my readers. I will say that persistence pays off with affiliate marketing – just like anything else in life.

How Do I Join An Affiliate Marketing Program?

Joining affiliate marketing programs is easy.  The first step is to choose which affiliate marketing site you want to use. You don’t have to narrow it down to just one, but for the purpose of this post, I’m going to talk about ShareASale’s Affiliate Marketing Program (see my recent review of ShareASale).  

How to Skyrocket Passive Income Through Affiliate Marketing

Once you have signed up to be an affiliate with ShareASale (join here using my referral link), you can select from thousands of merchants and apply with the click of a button. Most of the merchants manually review applications and usually respond within a few days. Some of them automatically approve you. Aside from a few occasions, you should receive approval for every program for which you apply. Don’t be surprised, or discouraged, though, if you do get declined from a program. Many programs have minimum guidelines you have to meet for them to accept you, but these are few and far between.

In ShareASale, click on the Merchants tab and then Search For Merchants

How to Skyrocket Passive Income Through Affiliate Marketing

The Merchant Search will allow you to search for merchants based on popularity, age, sales volume, etc.  You can either type in a keyword into the search field, or click on any of the links.  I like to look at the Top 100 PowerRank on occasion and see if any of those high performers fit my blog’s niche.

How to Skyrocket Passive Income Through Affiliate Marketing

I performed a search for Major League Baseball because opening day is a few weeks away and I wanted to see if there were any affiliate programs with great deals on merchandise to coincide with opening day.  When I hit search, I get a list of 41 affiliate programs associated with Major League Baseball.  The list tells me if the merchant is in the Top 100 PowerRank, when they were activated on ShareASale, their merchant ID, commission structure, and more details about the program.

How to Skyrocket Passive Income Through Affiliate Marketing

I’m interested in joining MLBShop.com’s affiliate program, so I clicked on the link to the left that takes me to their program’s affiliate application.

How to Skyrocket Passive Income Through Affiliate Marketing

A pop-up box will appear with the merchant’s affiliate program agreement. READ THIS!  It is important information you will need to know in order to remain an active affiliate for this merchant’s program.

How to Skyrocket Passive Income Through Affiliate Marketing

Once you’ve read the program agreement, you will need to click the radio button that confirms you agree to the merchant’s agreement and then hit Join This Program. This particular merchant also requires that I agree to release my email and phone number as a part of the program application.

How to Skyrocket Passive Income Through Affiliate Marketing

Once you have submitted your information, you will get another pop-up that tells you your current approval status.  Most of the time, it will say Pending.  If an affiliate automatically approves you, it’ll say Approved in green.

How to Skyrocket Passive Income Through Affiliate Marketing

Once a merchant has approved you as an affiliate, you get access to promotional tools you can use to promote the merchant’s products in your blog posts, social media, or email campaigns. Promotional tools include banners, coupons, or promo codes. Adding links is as easy as copying the special tracking URL assigned to you and pasting them into your blog post.

Let’s take a look at one of my existing merchants that I promote – NFLShop.com.  I really love this particular merchant’s program because they almost always have great deals and coupons to offer readers.

Once I’ve opened up the program from my dashboard, I see several tabs across the top of the page – Text Links, Banners, Deals/Coupons, Datafeed Products, Product Showcase, Make-A-Page, and Create Custom Link.  Not all merchants will have the same tabs at the top.  It all depends on what they have chosen to offer to their affiliates.

How to Skyrocket Passive Income Through Affiliate Marketing

Text links

This is the tab the site defaults to when you open up the merchant in your dashboard. It is just what it says. As you can see, I get the text link’s individual ID, the description of the text link, its category, a preview of what the link will say, when it was modified, and a link to get the html code.As I look through the list, I try to find a link that fits within the blog post I’m writing. For this example, let’s say I am writing a post about Eddie Lacy. He’s been in the news lately so I want to talk about it with my readers.  I see that NFLShop.com has a 2017 NFL Free Agent Class Seattle Seahawks Nike Game Jersey.  You can either do what I just did – add the link to custom text, or use the html link and plug it into your html editor in your blogging platform (for me, that’s WordPress) to have the link automatically show up.  You can do it either way. I love this because it allows me to be creative in how I promote this product to my readers.

The custom link that I copied and pasted as a hyperlink inside my custom text is the link that will record any clicks, and more importantly, sales, that have been generated by readers who have clicked them. This is why it’s very important you copy and paste EXACTLY how they appear on the merchant’s site. You don’t want to lose any potential sales!  Here’s what the actual hyperlink looks like when you copy it from the merchant’s page. Don’t ever paste this link by itself in a blog post. It looks unprofessional.  Always, always, always embed the URL inside custom text!

http://www.shareasale.com/r.cfm?B=983219&U=1350177&M=52555&urllink=

When you click on Get HTML Code, you’ll open up both links. If you are familiar with HTML code (you really don’t need to know much more about it other than how to copy and paste it into WordPress), choose the first code in the top box.  Note: If you want to add your ShareASale hyperlink to custom text, this is NOT the code to use for that. The key to knowing whether or not it’s a hyperlink is to look to see if there is http:// in front of it.  Notice how the first code starts with “<a href=.”  This will let you know that it’s html code and you should copy and paste it into the html editor of your blogging platform.  I did NOT choose this option. I chose the 2nd option, which is the hyperlink version I showed you above.

How to Skyrocket Passive Income Through Affiliate Marketing

Banners

Banners are good visuals to use in addition to text links. I like to put some of my affiliate banners in my blog’s sidebar, and if a banner corresponds to a blog post I’ve written, I’ll stick a banner either at the top, middle, or bottom of my post to draw my readers’ eyes to it.  Banners work the same way as text links, in that you have to copy and paste the code into your html editor to get them to appear on your site. NFLShop.com has 302 banners available for me to choose from. Left-click on the banner that you want and it’ll take you to the same code as before. So easy!

Deals/Coupons

Some merchants offer deals/coupons to their customers, while others do not. As we can see from our tabs, there are 8 current deals/coupons offered by NFLShop.com.  When we click on this tab, it takes you to the detail list. It’s important, above all, to look at the start and end times of the coupon.  We definitely do not want to offer our readers a coupon that has expired!  We see that this merchant has some that never end, and some that have an expiration date. These links work almost exactly like our text and banner links work.  I like to offer these coupons to my social media followers a lot of times, so I’ll customize my message about the coupon and then provide them with the tracking link they click on to get the deal.  You can also use custom text inside your blog posts and embed the tracking link as a hyperlink behind the text.  Again, make sure you copy and paste the code exactly as it appears.

Datafeed Products

Whoa! There are 86,992 data feed products for NFLShop.com. What in the world is this? And do you need to be concerned with it?  Data feeds are files provided by your merchant to help you better promote and sell their products.  (IMPORTANT!).  We all want our content to show up at the top of search engine results, right?  Well, data feeds are there for that purpose. Data feed files are changed over into individual products which contain descriptions about those products, links for the images, visitor links, pricing, etc.  What does this mean for you and me?  We will take this information and build individual web pages for these products, or even combine them all into each page.  We want to use data feed products if they are available because they will help give our site more search engine exposure.

Product Showcase

The next tab over is the Product Showcase tab. Product Showcases are dynamic creative that show product results for a search term or category. Whenever a search is performed, it provides real-time results and will differ each time the creative is viewed. ShareASale allows you to create a showcase either for a single merchant, a group of merchants, or for all of your merchants.  I haven’t really played around with this feature yet, as I almost always use the links within my blog post to refer readers to products that may interest them. But, this feature is there, and may be worth checking out.

Make-A-Page

Make-A-Page is a feature that allows you the ability to easily find relevant products and create pages for them. You can either search by keyword, or select from the category list.

Create Custom Link

If you want to create a custom link for a product, ShareASale gives you a tool that allows you to do just that. Again, I just use the URLs provided in the text/banner tabs, but if you want to create your own you can do that as well with this feature

Tracking Your Activity

Now that we have a good idea of some of the tools merchants can provide you to promote their products, how do we know when someone has clicked on one of our links?  And, how do we know if that click led to a sale?

ShareASale’s Reports tab at the top left corner of your dashboard is the place to go to get your individualized stats. Let’s take a look at what it has to offer.

If I hover my mouse over Reports, it’ll give me a lot of options to choose from:

Activity details

This report tells you your sales history.  You can filter down to a certain time period, or view all transactions.  You can also drill down to a specific merchant, transactions, paid date, etc.  I like this page because it tells me when a link or banner was clicked, what the total sale amount was, and what my commission was.

Merchant Timespan

If I want to see my commission totals for a specific merchant, or all merchants, within a specific time frame, I can do that with this report.

Today At A Glance

I check this report daily, sometimes hourly, if I’ve pushed posts out with affiliate links recently.  It tells me if there have been any clicks on those links, who the merchant was, my status with the merchant (approved), any commission that I may have earned from that click, unique and raw hits, sales, manual credits, conversions, reversals, and earnings per click.

Traffic Report

This report is useful if I want to see my traffic levels for my merchants. Again, I can filter down to a time frame, individual or all merchants, and sort by several categories. I usually sort by Unique Hits, then high to low. This tells me which of my merchants get the most traffic, which is useful because I can focus on them more to try to drive in more sales.

Download CSV

If you want to download your transactions to a .csv file, you can do that with this feature.

Payment Summary

Shows any recent payments that ShareASale has made to you.  In your account settings, you have the option to set a payment trigger. I chose $50. Whenever my commissions reach at least $50, it’ll automatically perform an ACH Direct Deposit to my bank account.  Go to your account settings to adjust the trigger level and method of deposit.

Merchant Status

I love this report because it gives you a run-down of your merchant status.  This report gives me the option to quit a program, tells me what status I’m in (Approved, Declined, etc), my commission totals, hits totals, sales totals, conversions, EPCs, merchant info, links to contact that merchant, and a link that takes me to get links or banners for that merchant.

More…

I won’t go into detail about the More section, but it does have additional reports you can run to help you with your affiliate marketing.

How to Make the Most Out of ShareASale

It’s easy to drop in a few links, promote links through social media, and add a few banner ads to your site, but there’s a lot more to it than this. Don’t sell yourself short by promoting products you don’t believe in just to make a few bucks. Focus on promoting only those products you use.

Be creative!  Don’t be afraid to try new promotional methods. For example, I will be making a video tutorial of this blog post in the near future.  I can add these links to YouTube to drive traffic to my merchants.

The amount of income is only limited to the amount of time and effort you set aside for it. It may seem like a long shot to hit in the thousands per month, but it can be done.

FTC Requirement: Disclosing Affiliate Links

Before you hit the publish button on that fancy new blog post with shiny affiliate links, you have to clearly disclose that there are affiliate links on your blog.  Put your affiliate disclosure at the top of your blog post before the first affiliate link appears. If you are sharing your affiliate links on social media, such as Facebook or Twitter, you can disclose them by stating #ad or #aff. I’ve also seen bloggers write “Disclosure: Affiliate links.”  As long as you clearly disclose the presence of affiliate links, you’ll be compliant with the FTC.

Here is how I disclose affiliate links on my blog:

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links

Some Amazing Programs You Need To Join

I’m very happy to share with you some of the programs I’ve joined and their commission structure. Please note that merchants change their commission structure on occasion, so be sure to review each merchant’s full profile on ShareASale. ShareASale is also very good about emailing you about commission changes as well.

Blurb – Make your own professional-quality books, magazines, or eBooks. They offer 15% commission per sale and a 120 Day Tracking Cookie.

Book Outlet – Book Outlet has been in business for over 10 years selling books all over the world.  Books are offered at 50-90% off the list price. Book Outlet offers 10% commission, a 45-day cookie, seasonal and monthly promotions, performance incentives, full data feed, and dedicated program management

Candy ClubCandy Club is one of my newer merchants, but offers a monthly subscription service to deliver the freshest candies right to your door. They offer $20.50 commission on all 1, 6 and 12 month subscription sales, $30.00 commission on all 6 and 12 month prepaid subscription sales, one free Candy Club package to review on your blog/site upon request, and a bonus commission structure based on your performance.

Canva Press – Provides canvas prints, photo paper prints, and wall murals customized for each customer. They offer commissions between 10-14%,  a 30 day tracking cookie, discount and dollar off coupons, an auto-deposit feature, and dedicated program management.

Corner Stork Baby Gifts – Affordably-priced baby gift company founded by moms from Atlanta who seem to get invited to a baby shower or birthday party every week. Corner Stork offers the best of bath toys to room decor, personalized gifts to clothing, etc. They also price-match! The offer sales commissions of 10%.

CellSavers – CellSavers is a convenient device repair service.  Their technicians can meet you at your preferred location and time to repair damaged cell phones.  All repairs come with a lifetime warranty and high rated customer service. See my earlier blog post about CellSavers. CellSavers offers a $10.00 commission per lead, a 15 day cookie, $10 affiliate referrals, award-winning affiliate marketing management service, and monthly newsletters with updates on promotions, contests and sales opportunities.

Cricut – Cricut.com offers Cricut® machines, 50,000+ images to cut, and project supplies ranging from cardstock to iron-on film—plus inspiration, ideas, and a creative community!  The Cricut Explore™ machine lets anyone create amazing DIY projects. With world-leading technology, we make it easy for novices and professionals alike to make something they can feel proud of. Cricut offers a 12% base commission and 15% commission on orders $100+, a 45 day cookie, $10 affiliate referrals, award-winning affiliate management team from Acceleration Partners, and weekly newsletters with promotions, incentives, and the latest offers designed to help affiliates earn higher commissions.

Dancewear Solutions – Dancewear Solutions offers a large selection of the latest dancewear, dance shoes, leotards, dance shorts, tights and dance accessories. They carry most of the major dance brands such as Balera, Bloch, Capezio, Danskin, Sansha, Urban Groove and more. Dancewear Solutions offers a 6% commission rate and their average sale is $70.

Gymboree, Crazy 8, Janie and Jack – Gymboree’s clothing and accessories are created to celebrate kids being kids in unique, head-to-toe looks. Gymboree clothing is designed with colorful, high-quality fabrics and detailed touches throughout. Crazy 8 offers fashionable outfits at a great value for girls and boys, sizes 3M to 14. Janie and Jack offers classic children’s clothing rich in fabric, design and detail for girls and boys up to size 12 online. Heirloom-quality looks feature finely-crafted details such as hand-embroidery, hand-smocking and special prints. They offer 8% commission, a 30 day cookie, product datafeeds for both Gymboree and Crazy 8 that are both updated daily, and regular newsletters with updates on promotions, contests, and sales opportunities

Little Passports – Little Passports delivers a travel adventure right to your door! Choose from the Early Explorers (ages 3-5), the World Edition (ages 6-10), or the USA Edition (ages 7-12). Each subscription will have your child rushing to the mailbox, waiting for packages highlighting a new global destination or US state. They’ll receive letters, souvenirs, pop-out models, activities, stickers and more. Inspire a life-long interest in travel, language and world cultures with Little Passports! Little Passports offers $15 PER SALE commission rate on all monthly payment and 12 month plans. as well as $8 PER SALE commission rate on all 3 month and 6 month plans, a 90 day cookie for conversion tracking, regular newsletters with promotions, incentives and content, and a dedicated affiliate team.

NFLShop.com – NFLShop.com is the official online store of the National Football League and offers the biggest selection of officially licensed NFL apparel and merchandise online. They offer up commissions of up to 6% of sales, a 7 day cookie, 50,000+ product datafeed, top name brand products including Nike, New Era, Mitchell & Ness Cutter and Buck and more + authentic collectibles from Fanatics Authentic, great tools for bloggers and social media affiliates, great selection of text links and banner ads as well as “build your own” capability using Product Showcases, Make A Page and Custom Link builder, and dedicated management by Wade Tonkin.

 

How to Revitalize Old Blog Posts

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation for any items you purchase. Read my full disclosure here.

Are you struggling to come up with new, high-quality content?  Do you have writer’s block? Guess what?  You already have content on your blog just begging for your attention.  Today’s post is all about showing some love to our old blog posts by revitalizing them.

I don’t know about you, but old posts seem to still get some hits on my blog. That got me to thinking – what if that content is outdated?  What if my writing wasn’t that good?  What can I do to improve them?  I think it’s easy for us as bloggers to forget about our old blog posts because we want to continue to pump out new content. One forgotten blogging strategy is to keep content updated.

Reasons why you should start doing this TODAY:

You’ve learned new things

I’ve been blogging since 2015, and I’m pretty sure that I knew how to write well back then, but that’s about all I could do.  I didn’t understand how to include keywords for SEO, proper placement of affiliate links, or including links to other content to keep readers on my site much longer than a few seconds.  I can definitely tell you it’s frustrating to spend a lot of time perfecting a blog post to not get many views or shares.

The good thing about blogging is this:  The more you do it, the better you get at it. I’m sure I have plenty of old posts that were good ideas, but were terribly written. It’s time to update them!  And, not only will I update these posts because I care about the content on my blog, but I will also share them again.  Who knows, maybe they will go viral! Learning as you go is good for new posts, but this education can definitely apply to the oldies on your site as well!

You have more followers

We all probably don’t have the same number of followers we did 2 years ago – at least I hope not! Hopefully, your following has continued to grow.  If it’s not, then you aren’t really succeeding as a blogger.

New followers usually read your most recent content, and probably don’t have your site’s archives memorized like you do. So, you need to continue to direct them to these older posts by linking within newer posts and by setting up a sharing schedule on social media (I use Hootsuite). Chances are, your original followers fell head over heels for your old stuff – so, let your new followers experience the same thing!

You’ve experienced more

If you started blogging 5 years ago, chances are you’ve traveled to new places, met new people, learned new things, and made more memories. If you wrote a post about traveling to London years ago and you went again a few weeks ago, why not update the original post to include the new experiences you learned from your most recent trip?  By doing this, you are showing your followers not only do you care about your older content, but you continue to travel and learn new things.

When you experience more, you have more to say. Find opportunities with your old blog posts to update the information you originally shared and add new content that your readers are sure to love!

Keep your readers engaged

Updating old blog posts brings back memories of the first time a reader reads a memorable post. If you bring up new perspectives, ideas, links, and suggestions, you’ll keep your readers interested in what you have to say next.  Revitalizing old blog posts is a great way to put a new spin on an old topic to draw readers back in to your site.  It doesn’t matter how old the post is – 100 years or 100 days – do it to all of them!

Ready to get started?  Here’s how to do it!

Make a list of all the posts you want to update

The first place to start is by scouring your blog for those posts that you want to update. This may take a few hours up to a few days, even weeks, but is worth it!  It all depends on how many posts you have made, and how many are worthy to be updated.

Do you have posts that fit within the current season? For example, if I wrote a piece about Black Friday, which I did, chances are I’ll get more shares if I update it right before the holidays start.

Focus on posts with high views

If you use WordPress like I do, you have a nifty feature that tells you exactly which posts have had the highest number of views. Focus on these!  The reason they got high views is because you gave your readers something they were interested in.

One of my most-viewed blog posts is 100 Blog Post Ideas. Chances are, I can update this post to 500 Blog Post Ideas!  Surely I’ve come up with more interesting ideas since I originally wrote this post. It’s a useful post for bloggers to read to PROVIDE VALUE to them. Updating this post only makes sense!

Clean up the post

Go back through your post – word for word.  You are looking for grammar errors and sentence structure. Shorten paragraphs that exceed five sentences and eliminate repetitive phrases. I like to use the newer version of Microsoft Word for this. It searches for repetitive phrases and suggests a better way to say them.  It also keys you in on those phrases and teaches you to modify your craft. I tend to say “all of” a lot.  I would have never picked up on that had I not closely monitored my grammar and sentence structure.

Verify links still work

Chances are you probably have a few broken links within your blog. Broken links are a good way to prevent traffic from staying on your site. If your readers don’t find what they are looking for, or the content is missing, they’ll move on to the next site. Don’t be that victim!

I recommend a site called: Brokenlinkcheck.com to review all of your links.  It may scare you to do this, but YOU NEED TO KNOW!  Fix these links immediately, or delete them!  I ran my site through it today and I had 143 broken links!  I couldn’t believe it, but now I have a list to go through to clean them up!

Use Yoast SEO

I’ve used Yoast ever since I started blogging.  Yoast SEO is a WordPress plugin that helps you optimize every aspect of your posts to position it to be as SEO-friendly as possible.  It’s a free plugin (with optional premium features).  If you aren’t using it today, why not?  Take every advantage to update old posts to fit the mold of the rest of your site.

Update the content

Did you write a recipe post 5 years ago?  Did you modify it a month ago to make it better?  Update the original post with the new content and indicate at the top of your post the date that you updated it. Show your readers you are continually trying to improve what you’ve already written. There’s no better way than to update the content to match your new knowledge.

Recreate the post in a different medium

Most of us write posts only as a regular post seen on our blog, but how many times have we thought about creating it again in a different medium? What do I mean by this? Take my post, How to Make A Spectacular Media Kit. It’s a GREAT candidate to convert to PowerPoint!  Did you know that you can move your blog posts into a PowerPoint format and share on SlideShare?

Not only can you recreate your posts into PowerPoint, but you can also make one giant eBook of all of your blog posts.  I’m doing that right now with all of the posts I’ve written about blogging. Creating an eBook is a fantastic way to share your content as well as offer an incentive for readers to sign up for your mailing list.

Another medium many bloggers forget about is infographics.  Does your post contain a lot of stats or steps?  Create a free infographic to go along with the original post.

Remove bad posts

As much as we would hate to admit it, we have all probably created posts in the past that we hate. Why leave them on the site?  If you can’t figure out a way to revitalize and repurpose them, it’s time to hit the delete button.  My suggestion is to copy/paste the post into Word in case you want to revisit the post later down the road.  If you are in WordPress, you can always revert the post back to a draft status.

Optimize images for Pinterest

Make sure that every image on your site is optimized for Pinterest. Remove images of low quality.  Pin these images to the many group boards you have joined (I hope you have!  Pinterest is awesome for traffic!)  Research shows images with red colors do better than any other color.  I really don’t know why (maybe this is a good topic for a future post!).

I love Pinterest because not only does it provide valuable content to me personally, but it’s such a great platform for sharing blog posts.  I have created my own Pinterest Board for all of my blog posts. It’s a great way to share content even more.

Link to your other posts

There’s no better way to keep readers interested and engaged on your blog than to link to your other posts. Chances are, you’ve written similar or relevant posts that would be perfect links in your old content.  I’ve linked to my older content in this very post.  Did you notice?

Increase word count

It has been proven that search engines love to find web pages that are rich in detail. If you have any posts that are less than 1,000 words, consider reworking those posts to increase the word count. While it may not be possible in all situations, making sure the word count works in your favor is a great way to keep the post rising up in the search results.

Share it again

As I mentioned earlier in this post, I use Hootsuite to auto-schedule my already-published posts. Make sure you are doing this regularly.  Don’t let the fact that your posts are years old detract you from sharing them again.  If readers found them useful back then, and you’ve followed my steps in this post, the age really won’t matter.  I focus on the major social media networks – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram.  Another good idea is to write a new list post sharing the newly updated posts with your readers.

Ask your readers for feedback

What better way to find posts that need updated than to survey your readers?  Share a post to your email list and invite feedback on how the post can be improved? Your readers know what they are looking for, so use that to your advantage. Make it clear that you welcome positive or negative feedback.  Oh, and make sure you SHARE the updated post and give credit to the readers that provided the suggestions!

Insert affiliate links

By now, I hope you have joined some of the great affiliate programs out there to help you earn extra income as a blogger.  Most bloggers just focus on the new posts and find ways to insert affiliate links whenever appropriate.  You would be surprised how many of your old posts can give you that very same opportunity.  Scour your old blog posts and find ways to incorporate the affiliate links.

If you aren’t participating in affiliate marketing today, why not?  I highly recommend ShareASale. I actually wrote a recent review of ShareASale so check it out today if you are interested in joining. Joining is FREE and there are thousands of merchants to choose from when deciding which brands to promote.

Be careful which merchants you choose to work with if you do go the route of affiliate programs. Some of them have very strict rules about how they want you to promote their products.

Lather, rinse, repeat

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post (and other posts on my blog for that matter!). No matter how old your blog is, never stop updating your content. It’s a process that’ll continue for the life of your blog. Trust me, you will reap the benefits of a well-maintained site.

It’s time for ME to live up to the advice I’ve given you today to go update my old posts. Stay tuned for a grand list of everything I updated.  I look forward to seeing what YOU have done in the past with your old posts. Share in the comments!

How To Make A Spectacular Media Kit

How To Make A Spectacular Media Kit

There are so many ways to try to stand out and shine as a blogger, but no way is better than having a well-prepared media kit.  Your media kit is like a resume.  It highlights all of your blogging accomplishments and puts all of your numbers out in the open for all to see.

Whether you’ve been at this blogging thing for a while, or you are a newbie, a well-prepared and professional media kit will greatly contribute to the extra edge you need to shine.  After all, don’t you want sponsors and potential clients to see the value of your blog?  Of course you do!  A media kit puts your blog in the spotlight and helps to enhance your brand.

I won’t lie to you.  I’ve created 2 media kits since I started blogging and quickly came to the conclusion that they take some time, thought, and brainstorming to create. Sure, you could download a pre-made template from the internet, change a few words, and boom, you have a media kit.  But, I’m here to tell you, having a media kit that is unique is important. Creating a media kit that doesn’t look like the rest will help you stand out even more.

The process of making a media kit doesn’t have to be hard.  You don’t have to pull your hair out at the very thought of creating one. All you need is the right information, a word processor, and a little bit of creativity.

WHAT IS INCLUDED IN A MEDIA KIT?

A media kit, like a resume, should only highlight the important information and accomplishments you’ve achieved on this grand blogging journey.  Sure, you could throw up a few stats from Google Analytics, but brands and sponsors want to know more than that.  They want to see the heart of who you are and what you have to offer them. You want to make your media kit work for you.

I’m going to go into depth with several quick and simple steps to create your very own media kit. Let’s get started!

ROUND UP EVERYTHING YOU NEED

To create your media kit, you will need:

  • A professional photo of yourself. Don’t use a picture of your wild drinking night the night before.  Use either a professionally made head shot, or take a quick selfie on your phone.
  • Blog logo.  Surely you already have a blog logo, right?  If not, now’s the time to jump onto Canva or Photoshop and make one!
  • Several of your favorite blog photos.  Scroll back to the beginning of your blog to find only the best photos.  2 or 3 of them will work.
  • A list of everything you write about in your niche.  For example, I’d include keywords such as: parenting, blogging, Catholicism, or sports.
  • Blog stats. Hopefully you already have Google Analytics installed.  If you do, it’s so much easier to gather this information.  We want to include total unique visitors, total page views, demographics, social media followers, etc. Don’t list a gazillion social media stats either – just list your main accounts.  For me, I would list Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.  I do have other social media accounts for my blog, but these do not contribute nearly as much traffic as the other 4 do.

WRITE ABOUT YOURSELF

The first section you want to include is information about you and why you created your blog. Who are you? Did you go to college?  What’s your family like?  What are your interests?  And your blog…  What’s the title?  What do you write about? What problem(s) are you trying to solve?  Do you review products?  Do you provide resources to your readers?  This is the section to “talk up” your blog.  Basically, tell your  readers why they should take an interest in reading what you have to say.

It’s important to tie something personal about YOU in with your media kit’s introductory paragraph.  Don’t just state in the third person.  Talk about you – what drove you to create the blog?  Tell readers why you love connecting with others.

This section should also include the professional photo I was talking about earlier.  Use an up-close and personal photo to connect with your readers.  Absolutely nothing of you taken far away. We want others to see who we are.

DESCRIBE YOUR BLOG

This is your chance to tell your readers about your blog.  What subjects do you write about? What’s the theme of your blog?  Here’s a good place to list a few of your most popular posts.  Brands also want to know who reads your blog. You should know this.  To whom do you cater your posts?  Go beyond regular statistics in this section. This section makes or breaks your blog.  Spend a lot of time here. Don’t skimp on the important information.

PRESENT YOUR BLOG’S STATISTICS

Pull out all of your Google Analytic stats for this section.  You want to show all of the information potential sponsors and/or brands will want to know.  In this section, include:

  • Monthly unique visitors
  • Monthly total page views
  • Total number of subscribers
  • Social media accounts and followers/likes

Stats are constantly changing, so a good rule of thumb that I follow is to update these on a monthly basis. Keep stats current – especially if they see a large increase. Some brands will only work with you if you have a certain number of followers.  On the flip side, if you only have 10 Google+ followers, leave it off of the media kit. Only show stats that are impressive.

DETAIL YOUR SERVICES

All media kits need a section outlining all of the products/services you offer. Think of this section as advertising and providing the terms of your services.  Include things such as the following:

  • Rates for ads. If you offer several sizes of ads on your blog, detail all of the different rates and customization options.
  • Do you offer giveaways? List any fees you charge as well as the terms and conditions for the giveaway.
  • If you provide product reviews, list your terms for receiving, returning and/or keeping the product being reviewed.
  • Explain where you display ads on your site.
  • Payment methods and policies

CALL TO ACTION

At the end of your media kit, you want to create a “Call to Action” section to tell your readers what the next steps are. How do they get in touch with you?  What’s your turnaround time?

ADD IMAGES

The last thing readers or brands want to see is just a few pages with words.  Drop in a few of those pictures we pulled earlier.  Only the best of the best images should make it onto your media kit. If you have access to editing software such as Photoshop, Canva, Picmonkey, etc, USE THEM TO YOUR ADVANTAGE. Make the images look and feel professional, and make sure they tie into your brand.

QUALITY CHECK

Before you finalize your media kit, check spelling and grammar several times to make sure there are no errors. Set it aside for a few hours and come back to it later with fresh eyes.  You can never check it over too many times.

SAVING YOUR MEDIA KIT

Convert your media kit to a PDF file. Most modern versions of Microsoft Word will convert to PDF.  If you don’t have Word, there are multiple free sites online where you can convert to PDF.  The point here is to NOT distribute your media kit in Word.  You do want to keep a Word version for future edits.

DISTRIBUTE YOUR MEDIA KIT

You’ve done all of this hard work, double and triple-checked it, and saved it to PDF. Now it’s time to build a strategy on how you are going to send it out.  I saved mine as a link on my blog (Go up to the menu, hover over “Contact,” and then click on “Media Kit.”  Have your media kit file ready to send to sponsors/brands when they contact you about your services.

HOW TO MAKE YOUR MEDIA KIT IN WORD

I’ve created a FREE tutorial on how to make your media kit using Microsoft Word.  Enjoy!

So, go ahead and try out all of the steps below. If you’d like to show off your media kit to me, I’d be happy to take a look at it!  Just send it to jeremy@goaskyourdaddy.com

How To Make A Media Kit Using Microsoft Word

How To Make A Media Kit Using Microsoft Word

I’m assuming you just read my post, “How To Make A Spectacular Media Kit.” and are now ready to try it on your own.  You are in luck!  I’ve created a detailed step-by-step tutorial on how to do just that for FREE using Microsoft Word.

Let’s begin…

1. Open Microsoft Word

This is an obvious step, but the most important 🙂  Open to a blank document.

2. Set margins to “Custom”

The first thing I do is change my margins.  To do this, go to the Layout tab, select Margins, then scroll all the way to the bottom to “Custom Margins.”

Set all of the margins within the highlighted boxes below to 0.

If you get the warning below, hit “Ignore.”

3. Add Your Logo/Title

The first thing I do is put my logo/title at the top of the page. If you are using an image, simply click on the Insert tab then click Pictures.   In my example, I am simply using a text title vs a logo.

To enter a text title, go to the Insert tab and then click on the Text Box drop down. Select the text box you want and it will appear on your blank document.  You can adjust it to fit your needs. I selected the Simple Text Box.

Enter the title of your blog. If you don’t want the border around the text box, go to the Format tab and click on Shape Outline.

Add An About Me Section

The next section I add to my media kit is the “About Me” section.  We are going to create a simple colored background and then add our photo.  Once we’ve done that, we will then add our text.

Add a new text box and position it on your document so that it runs the width of the page.  Go to the Format tab above and select Shape Fill.  Select whatever color you want.  I used black for my media kit:

Next, add your photo and any effects you like.  You can also position it to your liking in this step.

After you’ve added your photo, add another text box with your about me information:

Add a “About the Blog” section

Below my “About Me” section, I put a section describing my blog.  All you have to do here is basically copy and paste from your “About Me” page. I also recommend listing out a few of your most popular posts. You can NEVER have too much exposure to your posts!  Use a new text box and align it to your liking like I have done below:

Add your demographics

I then add a section describing my demographics (who your readers are, where they are from, how old they are, their gender, etc).  Again, this is another text box.

Describe your partnership opportunities

This section advertises all of the services you offer (sponsored posts, reviews, giveaways, ads, etc).

Add your stats

Next, add all of your major social media stats.  You may have 20 social media accounts, but please don’t include them all. I use the most common ones (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc).  Beside these stats I also put my page views and unique visitors.  There are thousands of free social media icons like the ones I’ve used with this example. Just do a google search and select the ones that appeal to your brand.

Add images

Mix in a few of your best images to make the finishing touches on your new media kit.

Save and share!

You are now ready to save your media kit as a PDF and share with the world.  The media kit example I provided you today outlines the steps you need to take to make a basic kit. As your blog grows, so will your media kit and the amount of information needed.  I hope this information is helpful for you as you create your media kit!  If you have any questions, or would like me to make a media kit for you ($29.99), please email me at jeremy@goaskyourdaddy.com

 

 

 

 

How to Use Affiliate Links On Your Blog

How to Use Affiliate Links On Your Blog

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a commission. 

One very popular method of monetizing your blog is through the use of affiliate links. Affiliate links can appear to be complicated on the surface, but once you learn how to do it and implement a strategy for your blog, you’ll be surprised at how easy it really is.

So, if you are a new blogger, welcome to the wide, wide world that is blogging. I’m sure over the next few months you are going to hear and read about so many ways to monetize your blog. Affiliate links are the easiest way to monetize if done correctly.

So, what is affiliate marketing and how do you get the links?

Affiliate marketing involves the promotion and selling products from merchants that sign up to an affiliate marketing platform. Bloggers who sign up to promote these products are called “affiliates” and earn income from registering with an affiliate marketing platform, such as ShareASale (read my review of ShareASale here) or AvantLink, and then with the individual merchant. The merchant’s page in the platform will provide the affiliate with links (text, banner, etc) as well as any promotions or coupons they have to offer customers.

Once the blogger has been approved to promote a merchant’s products and has placed the links onto their blog, any resulting sale from a customer who has clicked on the affiliate link will result in a commission for the blogger.

Commission rates for each merchant vary. Some provide income for sales, while other provide income for leads. It is crucial to read the commission details up front so that you are not surprised in the end when you make your first sale.

I’m approved as an affiliate – now what?

Once you have become an approved affiliate and you have access to the merchant’s links, the next (and most important!) step is to put the links on your blog. I use WordPress, so the easiest way to insert the link is by highlighting the text in your post where you want the link to go and click the link button.  It’s as simple as pasting in the link and then you are good to go!

You should be very careful using these links and definitely do not bombard your readers with them.  Your content is what drives your blog.  To get readers interested enough to click on your links, you have to have quality content. Throwing up a few blog posts whose only goal is to entice readers to click links will lose you readers every time. Be smart about it, be creative, and be willing to try new ways of promotion.

Legal requirements for you as a blogger

The FTC requires bloggers to disclose affiliate relationships any time affiliate links are included in a blog post.  You must include a statement such as:

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a commission. 

Do not forget to disclose this information to your bloggers.  The FTC can and will shut your blog down.  I recommend this article at Bloggy Law for more information on how and when to disclose.

How to make money

So you’ve signed up for an affiliate network, received approval from merchants, placed your links on your blog. When does the money flow in?

I can’t give you a specific time frame as to when you will start seeing money flow in, but as long as your blog is optimized for SEO, has valuable content, and the links are appropriately placed, you are guaranteed to start earning money.

Don’t be stressed if you don’t make money for a while.  It takes time to build up your blog followers, but the sales will eventually come.  Keep at it and be willing to try new ways to get readers to your blog.  The higher amount of visitors that find your blog, the better chance those views will convert to sales.

Affiliate link pointers

Take it from me, once you get your first merchant approval, you are so tempted to throw your link around all over your blog.  Here are some tips I have learned along the way to make the best use of affiliate links:

  • Use hyperlinks:  The links must go into text as hyperlinks. Your blogging platform should make this easy to do. Do not copy and paste the whole affiliate link into the body of the post. Make the links appear naturally. Use links within the phrasing of the words.
  • Review older posts: Take the opportunity to add affiliate links to older blog posts. Maybe you talked about a product that got a lot of attention, or maybe you mentioned a book that’s on Amazon.  Old posts still deserve your full attention.
  • Aim for one link per post:  Try to make it a goal of adding at least one link per post.
  • Write more product reviews: Product reviews are amazing spots to add affiliate links. They go into detail about a product or service and they are great finds for search engines.
  • Promote products you believe in: Promote those products you would recommend to your readers. Don’t try to sell yourself out just to make a quick buck. Look for products that tie in with your niche and work them into blog posts.

A few of my favorite affiliate products and their current deals:

  • NFL Shop:  NFL Shop usually has some great deals to pass along to your readers. Right now, they have their spring outlet sale going on.  Save up to 50% on sale items through March 9, 2017.  It’s a great time to stock up on your favorite NFL gear and be ready for next season!
  • Gymboree: Gymboree has always been one of our favorite places to buy our kids’ clothes. They usually have AMAZING deals!  Right now, you can get 40% off of your entire purchase through March 26, 2017.
  • Cricut: Cricut is a great site to visit to create professional-quality personalized products.  Whether your project is for home décor, parties, events, weddings, or fashion, Cricut makes it simple.  Their March Mystery Box is $34.99 through March 21st.
  • Precious Moments:  My mom has been collecting Precious Moments since I was a kid. She must have bought 30 of them just for me and my brother.
  • Bitsbox: Bitsbox is a really cool idea!  It’s a subscription box for kids to learn how to code. Although they don’t have any deals right now, I highly recommend checking them out if you have a child interested in coding.
  • StrollerDepot.com: StrollerDepot.com is a family-owned stroller, infant car seat, and baby product company.  If you are in the market for one of these products for the first time and have no clue which one to select, their knowledgeable customer service can lead you in the right direction. Their current offers include 20% Off Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat and $150 Off Phil & Ted’s Sport Double Strollers (Black Only) 5 In Stock, Now $499

Conclusion

I hope this post is helpful for you as a blogger looking to make some extra money through affiliate marketing. It’s fun when you see a sale go through, and all of the work it took to get to that point makes it all worthwhile in the end. If you have any other questions about affiliate marketing, drop me a line at jeremy@goaskyourdaddy.com

Here are other blogging-related posts I’ve written:

 

How I Made $618.10 With My Blog in February 2017 [Income Report]

How I Made $618.10 With My Blog in February 2017 [Income Report]

Earn up to $7500 for one sale!

Hey guys and gals…this is the first time I am publishing my blog income report. Today, I’ll be providing you with all of the details of exactly what I did to earn that money as well as other blog stats.

Blogging is no easy thing.  There are a lot of moving parts that make everything work. In order to earn the income I’m starting to earn, I’ve had to put a lot of effort into the blog – including the design, the content, and the promotion.  You can read about the what I do before I publish every blog post and see each step I take to contribute to the overall performance of my blog, and without doing these steps, I wouldn’t be starting to see an increase in my income.

So, without further adieu, here is my February report:

February 2017 Blog Stats

Most-viewed blog post of the month:  10 Funny Parenting Quotes – 149 views

Highest referrring social media outlet:  Facebook – 972 views

Link clicks:  ShareASale.com – 24 clicks

Total unique visitors: 1,458

Total page views: 2,963

Total likes: 4

Total comments: 43

Total Facebook Likes: 1,318

Total Instagram Followers: 1,700

Total Twitter Followers: 1,600

Total Pinterest Followers: 6,463

Total Google+ Followers: 39

Total Income for February 2017:

  • Adsense: $3.55
  • Sponsored Posts: $629.76

Total: $633.31

Total Expenses for February 2017:

  • Photoshop: $10.71
  • ManageWP: $4.50

Total: $15.21

Total Profit: $618.10

 

What To Do Before You Publish Your Next Blog Post

What To Do Before You Publish Your Next Blog Post

Becoming a new blogger can be difficult, time-consuming, disappointing, and stressful. Are you one of these bloggers who is seeing little to no traffic, despite all of the time and effort you are putting into your blog posts?  Maybe you are wondering, “What’s the point of this?” or “Am I doing something wrong?”

Don’t fear, my friend. Blogging, when you first start out, can be very difficult.  There is an abundance of information out there and so much to learn.  I was once a beginner less than 2 years ago, and I can say that I am still continuing to push to get the traffic, but I am light years ahead of where I was when I first started.

When you check your blog stats and you see zeros or single digits, you begin to wonder, “Is anyone even reading my content?”  The answer to this question is a resounding ‘no.’ Your readers only want to read what matters to them.  If you are writing only about yourself and providing no real value to your other readers, then the problem is simply a matter of switching up what you write about.

Still, though, there are ways that you can drive traffic to your site.  Let’s think about the ways that you and I stumble upon a blog.  We perform searches on sites like Google, look for pins that cater to what we are looking for, etc, etc etc. The magic in driving traffic to your site starts with making your site easy to find.  The second part of this equation is making the content worth a reader’s time.  Provide them with valuable information, or offer them up a freebie.  Give them a reason to visit more than once.

So, to you, the new blogger, whenever you decide to publish a new blog post, you need to make sure that what you are writing is immediately valuable, well-crafted, and provides a purpose. Test new keywords and don’t be afraid to try new things on your quest to boosting traffic.

As a blogger for nearly 2 years, I would like to give my fellow newbies a mega blogging checklist with highly detailed information you need to succeed early on as a blogger.

1. Pay attention to SEO

If you are blogging with WordPress, which is considered the best blogging platform out there, you are hopefully aware of all the plugin and add-on capabilities that it has to offer. Once such plugin is called Yoast SEO.  SEO (Search Engine Optimization) will help the content that you are spending hours upon hours writing and perfecting jump up in the search results of every search engine imaginable.

My process of writing a new blog post includes configuring the Yoast settings at the very end of my process.  Wordpress adds a few fields and tabs to the bottom of the new post screen.   You need to tell Yoast what your main focus keyword should be and then utilize that keyword in headings, titles, and images.

2. Be smart about your post’s title

When you have determined what your focus keyword is going to be, the next step is to work with your title.  Your title should contain the focus keyword, and it should be as close as to the beginning of your title as possible.  Of course, there are going to be times when you may need to vary this, but for the most part, keep it at the front.

Another thing about your blog post’s title – make it stand out!  You are essentially creating a newspaper headline.  Your goal here is to get the reader wanting to read more.  Without a creative, catchy title, you are not getting off to a very good start. For example, if I am creating a blog post about how to play blackjack, which title looks better? (1) How to play blackjack  or (2) How to Get Rich Playing Blackjack?  I want to be rich, don’t you?  Make your title snazzy and stand out.

3. Always use tags and categories

WordPress gives you the option to add categories and tags.  There are differences between these two features, and you need to use them correctly for them to provide you any benefit.

Categories are essentially simple descriptors that help organize your blog content. For example, if I write a post about ways to handle a toddler, I’d probably categorize it in my “Parenting” category. That way, when a reader clicks on my Parenting category on the site, the post above would be indexed in that list of posts.  I try to limit my categories to one or two per post.  Don’t overdo this!

Tags are meant to provide your reader with similar descriptions.  If I’m searching the web for gluten-free pizza, I may want to see other recipes that are gluten-free so I might use a tag to help sub-categorize it.  I would not use more than 3-5 tags per blog post.

4. Spend time creating quality graphics

I consider graphics to be a major part of my brand.  This is why I put extra effort into ensuring I use only the best images on my site. I create featured headers through Adobe Photoshop and I ensure my blog’s URL is on the bottom of every image. Images also need to be optimized for Pinterest, because you are going to share every post on Pinterest, right?  I really hope so!  Pinterest images are best at 700 x 700 pixels.

Inside WordPress, when you click on an image, you have the ability to edit the “alt description” by typing in your keywords.  Images are searchable too, and can lead readers right to your blog!

5. Link back to older posts

One of our main goals as bloggers is that we want our readers to stay on our site for a while and check out all we have worked so hard to create.  One great way of doing that is by linking back to some of your older posts.  If you have a post that’s related to your new post, naturally linking to it is a fantastic way of not only creating value and keeping your bounce rate low.  Read my older post about 8 things you must do to every blog post – see?  Easy!  And it keeps your reader interested!  Win-win situation!

6. Don’t rush to hit Publish just yet

It feels sooooo good to finish a post and publish it for all to see – but wait – there’s more!  You want to make sure the content you have written is formatted properly – including spelling and grammar.  Use headers and bulleting consistently as to create a positive viewing experience for all of your readers!  Use your blogging tool’s preview function to read and re-read everything, and to make sure everything is formatted to your liking.  Anything that’s a mistake in your blogging tool will carry over to any social media accounts where you are automatically sharing to, and this is not easy to correct. Sometimes I like to save it, come back later, and do one more glance over before I hit publish.

7. Now, hit Publish!

After you’ve done all of your work, and quality-checked your work, hit the publish button and share your work across social media.  With the Jetpack plugin, you can do this automatically.

After I hit publish, I use the Shareaholic plugin to share across sites like Pinterest, Flipboard, Stumbleupon, and Google+. I then go to my group boards on Facebook and share them in the appropriate threads.  By the way, Facebook group boards are HUGE traffic generators for me. I can also get to know new bloggers and push advice back and forth. Did you know I have a Facebook group?  Come join Blogging Share and Promo Group – I’d be glad to add you!

8. About old content…

Yeah, we all have content we wrote a month, or even a year ago, that probably wasn’t the best.  Look for these posts and find opportunities to improve them. Reword the images, update focus keywords, add in links, etc. Old content is old – update it if there is new information, and then share again as an updated post.  Old content can be a steady traffic source if done correctly.

9. Monetize your blog!

I recommend learning how to monetize your blog from the beginning.  The last thing you want to happen is for a post to go viral and you weren’t prepared!  A good way to monetize your blog is through affiliate marketing.  In its simplest terms, you are promoting a merchant’s content and collecting a cool commission for doing so.  I am a member of several affiliate marketing networks including ShareASale, AvantLink, and ClickBank.  See my previous post reviewing ShareASale.

I hope this post provided you with all of the necessary tools to make your next post fantastic!  Subscribe to my blog in the right sidebar today so that you don’t miss any future updates from my site. Good luck and happy blogging!

How to Test Your Wordpress Site Speed

How to Test Your WordPress Site Speed

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using this link.

If you are a blogger using WordPress like I do, speed of your site can be affected by many different things.  A slow website translates into lost visitors and potentially lost income.  Plugins have a big impact on load time and the overall performance of your site. How do you know how well your site is performing?  I regularly run my blog’s URL through WP Engine’s Free Speed Test.  Want to get your site’s results? Click the image below:
WordPress Speed Test

ShareASale Review: Affiliate Marketing Platform

ShareASale Review: Affiliate Marketing Platform

Are you a new blogger just starting out and need a way to monetize your blog? Are you a veteran blogger looking for additional income? ShareASale’s Affiliate Marketing Platform is perfect for bloggers looking for a way to bring in additional income from blogging.  Making money as an affiliate used to be far-fetched, but these days, it’s very possible and is happening to bloggers just like me.  I won’t lie – it’s extremely hard work promoting merchant content, but once you start seeing the money roll into your account, it makes it all worthwhile.

The great thing about ShareASale is that it is so easy to choose from  over 2,000 merchants who have signed up to have their products promoted by bloggers like us.  You can work with big names, like Gymboree or Cricut, or work with smaller companies such as Little Passports.  New merchants join every day!

Each merchant’s commission is different so you will want to read the fine print when you decide to apply for a merchant’s program. Viewing your activity and earnings is very easy via a custom report you can run.  Reports tell you where the traffic comes from and what link was clicked.  The payment threshold is low – only $50.

ShareaSale also offers a referral program.  Get paid for referring other bloggers! 

Here’s are a few of my favorite programs in ShareASale:
  • Animoto (cloud-based video creation service)
  • Beau-coup (unique wedding favors, baby shower favors and party supplies for all occasions)
  • Blurb (self-publishing platform that enables their users to create, self-publish, promote, share, and sell their own print and ebooks)
  • CellSavers (rapid cell phone repair service)

If you are thinking about joining, there is no cost to do so.  You do have to be approved by the merchant, but odds are you will be.  Happy marketing!

How To Get Noticed As A Blogger

How To Get Noticed As A Blogger

This post contains affiliate links which means I will receive compensation to assist in the maintenance of this blog from purchases made from my links.


Let’s face it – there are millions upon millions of blogs in cyberspace.  Blogs that touch on everything from A to Z and then some. So, how do you stick out and make your mark in a world full of super cool blogs without breaking your bank account? There are easy ways I’ve found to drive traffic and grow followers to my blog without spending much money.  I will admit, though, it does take hard work, time, and patience to grow a blog.  Here are some ways I have found to grow my blog and get noticed in a flooded blogger market.

Content is by far the most important factor that helps you get noticed by other bloggers and marketing companies. If you aren’t writing quality posts, it doesn’t matter how many posts you throw out there in a week’s time.  When you first decided to start your blog, you had a purpose, right?  You’re an expert on some topic and want to share your insight with others.  It makes no sense to start a blog on a topic that’s foreign to you. Your readers can tell by the quality of your content whether or not you are an influential expert in your field.  Don’t try to fool yourself or others. Write about something you feel confident about, and don’t look into areas that are completely unknown.

Don’t wait until you are months into blogging to determine what you are going to write about. Set a plan up front and stick with it. It’s much easier to change course in the very beginning than when you are heavily invested months later. Content needs to be worthwhile from the first post on so that you can set up a positive trend going forward.

 

There are tons of places on the web to share your content, but you should really target those that can get you the maximum exposure. I share all of my posts as soon as they are published.  I target Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, StumbleUpon and Pinterest as the main social media accounts.  I also run a Facebook Group and a Pinterest Group Board that are also both good sources of traffic.  Joining Pinterest group boards in your related subject is also a very good way of getting your content seen.

Sharing content is one of the most important aspects of blogging. Without getting the word out, no one will know (or care) that we wrote a new post. Sharing takes time, but you will reap the benefits down the road when your posts start going viral!

 

 

Facebook groups for bloggers are amazing for getting noticed. Most Facebook groups (including mine) have set daily promotional threads with specific rules that all members have to follow.  I’ve seen a huge and steady increase in my traffic as a result of participating in the daily threads on different Facebook groups.   Participating in these groups takes a lot of time, but again, time is money, and you will see the benefits down the road of high participation in groups.

There are many different types of Facebook groups so search for and choose the one that bests suits your blog and your needs. Several blogging groups I am a member of are:

 

 

I can’t tell you enough how important it is to mix and mingle with other bloggers. There are so many bloggers out there with good ideas.   The more you interact with other bloggers, the greater chance you have of your content being shared to their followers.  Again, a good place to interact with other bloggers is through Facebook and Pinterest.  You can never have too many friends – and you can never have too many blogger friends too!

 

 

Most bloggers just starting out don’t always know how to brand a blog and stick with it. Branding is important because it is a major part of what draws readers back to your blog over and over again. From the design of your site to the layout of your posts, every detail is important. I have spent the first few weeks of this month doing nothing but branding updates to my blog.  From my featured headers to my media kit, everything has been branded to my liking. What is your brand?  How will you stick out?

 

 

I’m starting to see a greater amount of my traffic come from my Pinterest activity. Joining Pinterest group boards is an excellent way to get your content shared to thousands of people quickly. My Pinterest board, Blogging Tools And Tips, already has over 30 contributors! If you are interested in sharing your blogging-related pins to my board, send me an email at jeremy@goaskyourdaddy.com and provide me with your Pinterest user name.

 

 

A good way to get noticed is to offer something irresistible to your readers for subscribing to your blog.  Many bloggers create free printables as a bonus. Learn how to create something tangible that your readers will love and will undoubtedly share with others.  By establishing yourself as someone who can offer something of value, you will grow your readership by leaps and bounds.

 

 

One great way to get your name out there is to supply guest posts to other bloggers.  By putting your content on other bloggers’ sites, you are increasing your viewership. I have a steady stream of guest post requests for my own blog and publish as many as I can. Your goal is to meet new bloggers and share your content across the widest mediums possible.  Guest posting is definitely a way to go!

 

 

One area where too few bloggers venture, especially in the beginning, is in creating a media kit.  Even with few followers, a media kit is crucial information potential brands want to see to know who you are and what you are about.  There are many ways to create media kits (and even free templates out there).  The best place for information on how to create one is through a Pinterest search.  Here is my basic media kit as an example: