Blogging success

Fresh, interesting content is key for blog readership

Blogging can be one of the best things you can do to make money online in small amounts. However, some people like to blog for fun and need to keep some people interested in coming back to their blog on a regular basis. Here are two things you can do to keep the traffic coming to your blog on a regular basis. 

The first thing you can do to help keep people interested in your blog is to have it updated with current and fresh information. Some of the blogging platforms you can use will actually have a date feature. With this feature, you can create multiple articles scheduled to publish at different times. This allows you to get an entire week or month's worth of work done at any time.
The second thing you need to do is write for the readers. Normally you would never have thought about this aspect before, but you need to write more for your readers than the search engines. Yes, the search engine traffic is required, but you should make the blog interesting to read so that it grow through word of mouth, instead of having to rely solely on the search engines.
Getting to make money on the Internet can be hard to do. However, if you want to make some money, you should know more information about how to write a blog and get it to the point of getting regular visitors for you. Without any of this information, you may not have a blog that entices readers and gains a larger audience through fresh, interesting content. 

Taking your hobby to the next level

Monetize your blog

Odds are if you're like most bloggers, you started the blog as a way to express your opinion or to educate the world about a certain subject. You may have started recently or could have been doing this for years.

Eventually, you come to the realization that you have a decent following and maybe you could make a go at trying to turn your blog into an actual money-making venture. It's definitely possible that you can make some money from your blog, but it isn't going to be easy.

You need to have very regularly scheduled blog posts. Daily posts are best, but at the very least, you should be adding quality content every couple of days. Make sure to publicize your blog and connect with your readers in a personal way to keep them coming back. This could be through Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.

The primary ways people earn money from blogs are ads and sponsored posts. In order for ads to be effective, you need to have a pretty high readership rate, and this goes for standard display ads and affiliate ads as well. It's difficult to make any real money from advertisements unless you're big time, so until you get thousands of page views a day, it's best not to clutter your page.

Sponsored posts are blog posts that are paid for by a company that includes links, SEO about the company or their product. They pay you a flat fee, which can be anywhere from $5 to $50 or more to write the post to their specifications.

In order to get sponsored posts, you have to get enough page views that these companies decide you're worth it. It's not easy, but with work you can definitely make some cash from your blog.

Writing tips

Create more interesting stories

I remember a refrigerator magnet my mom used to have that read, “They only notice if you don’t do it.” The magnet was about cleaning the house. If the house is clean, no one notices, but if it’s dirty, then it’s painfully obvious to everyone.

That’s what proper grammar, spelling and punctuation in your blog is like, which I wrote about last week. It’s basic and the lack of it will make you lose credibility. But it won’t make your writing more interesting or readable. Creating text that keeps the reader interested is a totally different story altogether.

An editor told me once that if the first line of a story doesn’t grab him, then he won’t consider publishing it. That is excellent advice. One of James Altucher’s many writing tips is that when you write a story, go back and remove the first and last paragraphs. That way you will skip your unnecessary introduction and get right into the meat of the story.

A technique you will see in a lot of modern literature (as well as movies) is to start your story somewhere in the middle, at a crucial point of action. Then you can go back in time to give background to the story. But wherever you start the story, be sure to have an interesting first line, one that will make the reader want to continue reading.

Another tip is to write with a specific person in mind. Imagine that person is sitting in front of you and you are telling them the story. First of all, it will make your writing more like how you speak – simple and direct, without too many fancy words that really only have a grammatical function.

Secondly, it will give your story an emotional foundation. The story you tell your mom is different than the story you tell your friend. The story you tell your wife or husband is a lot different than the story you tell someone you are trying to seduce.

Good writing doesn’t have to be fancy, but direct and clear. Next week we’ll get into the quite complicated concept of “show, don’t tell.”

Reducing mistakes in your writing

Simple tips to improve your writing

All you have to do is look at some of your friends’ Facebook posts or in the comments section of a news site like Yahoo to know that there’s no shortage of people writing on the Internet who lack an understanding of basic grammar. While nobody likes the pushy grammar police, if you want to be taken seriously, you should make an effort to reduce mistakes in your writing.First of all, write your posts in MS Word (or whatever you use) and spell check. When you see that little red line, take the time to fix that word it's underlining. The little green line is a grammar mistake. It’s not 100 percent accurate, but it might point you in the right direction.

Aside from spelling, the most common mistakes I see on the Internet are punctuation mistakes, especially the apostrophe. Plural words don’t use an apostrophe. I like dog’s is a mistake. The apostrophe is used to indicate possession (my dog’s nose) or a contraction (I can’t swim). Sometimes this is confusing, because it’s is a contraction while its is a possessive pronoun.

Other punctuation marks, such as the comma, are a lot more complicated, not to mention all the endless grammar and formatting rules. If you are serious about your blog and your writing, then take some time to do some research. A good website to check rules of speech is Writer’s Block. Maybe read a lesson a week and apply it to your writing.

The most important thing is to simply read what you have written before you publish it. It takes a long time to develop perfect grammar. Like most things in life, it is a process and awareness is the first step.

Achieving Balance

There’s a shining time in everyone’s life that they constantly fight to replicate. Whether it’s a perfect relationship, perfect intelligence or a perfect balance between work and play, it seems that we all have a memory of a perfect time when we were at our best.

Of course, memory is a great romantic. The past always seems a bit better and everything seems a bit more perfect than it actually was.

I think.

But still, my senior year in college epitomized the way I want my life to be structured. No, I don’t want to be getting drunk several times a week or living in a room the size of closet (I lived in what was literally a closet in Seattle the next year, but that’s beside the point). The details wouldn’t fit with my life now, but the balance of work, exercise, friends and good conversation is one that I want to replicate throughout my life.

Interestingly enough, I was busier than I ever had been before or have been since. Americans are undeniably busy, and we’re quick to criticize business as some sort of imbalance. What we imply in this condemnation, however, is that busyness is only connected with work; we can’t put our cell phones down long enough to have conversations with our kids. I would condemn this kind of busyness, too.

However, busyness can also signal an energy that allows one to meet business or school obligations, exercise, hang out with friends, run errands and still have leftover time for vegging in front of an America’s Next Top Model marathon.

Isn’t that what we’re all searching for anyway? We want time to just sit and do nothing, but we don’t want only to sit and do nothing. There’s nothing less satisfying than having too much time to surf the Internet, except, of course, having no energy to do anything but surf the Internet.

How do we achieve such a balance?

It’s certainly a process. We need work that satisfies it with its variety, its pressing need, our consistent obsession with what we’re doing. We need people who need us to do what we do. We need time for ourselves, times to eat well and exercise. We need mental health, time to stop worrying about everything we’re doing and just sit.

But most of all, we need to forgive ourselves and move on when we can’t achieve this balance. Some weeks are good weeks, and some are bad. Most importantly, we need to continue striving for balance. Isn’t that striving—and the success and failures implied within it—the epitome of balance in itself? 

"After you get what you want, you don't want it."

Is it true?

There is an oft-quoted statement filled with more truthiness than most oft-quoted statements. If you hadn’t guessed, the statement in question is “after you get what you want you don’t want it.” A Broadway musical has never created a lyric with so much universal appeal.


Personally, I’ve applied this statement to my orders at restaurants, love interests and graduate schools.


There are several parts in making this statement true.


First, we as human beings, particularly as American human beings, are dreamers. To use another cliché, the grass is always greener on the other side. We live in the future, a time when we’ll be happier, richer, thinner and wear nicer clothes. The issues of our current lives, our current dissatisfaction, and—to some extent—our very personalities and circumstances are wiped away with a quest for the future.


When we dream for something, it can be anything we want it to be. It can work well for us even though it is impossible in our own realities. This idea explains the reason why we love the dream, but when the not-so-shiny-reality becomes true in our minds—when we get we get what we want—reality is typically more difficult to live in than is dreamland.


Second, we like the chase. We like the idea of imagining our object of admiration, but more than that, we like chasing it. We like the idea of striving for something, working hard and dreaming hard, while simultaneously beating ourselves up for the wrong thing that we said or did or wrote. We like assuming that we will never have the object of our desires and subsequently making ourselves feel better about the impossibility of this acquisition with personal pity parties.


The chase, perhaps, is the thing. Or more of what we want than the thing.


All of this is to say that this idea of dreaming and chasing makes the actual reality that much harder. I just had to pick a graduate school and after months and months of imagining the thing and chasing the thing, I couldn’t make a real decision about my real future. So I hemmed and hawed and researched and learned about real-life minutia I should have known about months ago.


It’s a dangerous mindset, this idea of not wanting what you have once you have it. It keeps you in one place and only allows you to make dream-filled decisions. I, for one, plan to start forgetting about it, but perhaps once I’ve achieved that goal, I’ll no longer want it.


Which is worse--failure or inactivity?

Whenever I look back on my life and think about my regrets, I recognize a pattern. My regrets are never things that I tried and failed to complete, or times when I made a fool of myself, or even times when I was bitterly—bitterly—rejected. Instead, my biggest regrets are always occasions of wanting to do something, but being too afraid of the if’s, and’s or but’s to even try.

I’m sure that everyone can commiserate on this sad tale—most people regrets don’t stem from failures, but rather the insecurity to even get that potential failure off the ground. Here are a few of my biggest regrets that stemmed from my own inactivity:

I didn’t apply for a fellowship to complete a project in another country because I was too nervous about traveling alone. When I was a senior in high school, my university offered a fellowship for one member of the graduating class to plan a project to be completed internationally. I had an idea that I found really interesting that would take me to Thailand, India and Bulgaria, and I’d planned it rather thoroughly. However, when the time came to actually present my idea to the committee, I’d talked myself out of the possibility, thinking that the countries would be too scary, the project would be too difficult, and I didn’t speak the language anyone.

I didn’t go to journalism camp when I was in high school because I didn’t know anyone. I worked for the yearbook in high school, and was quite serious about becoming its copy editor in my junior year. To better prepare, I’d enrolled in a two-week summer camp at a rural university in my home state. Most of the attendees were enrolled as part of the journalism school at a particular school, but I was planning to go alone. My mother and I drove the long way to the school, but when I got there, I was too intimidated by the swarms of friends who already knew each other to go inside. Instead, I told my mother I wanted to go home.

I didn’t try out for a solo in choir for four years because I didn’t think I was good enough. I didn’t audition because I thought all of the other singers in my university chorale were better than me. Perhaps they were, but I’ll never know for sure now.

What are your biggest regrets? Did they stem from your own inactivity or fear?  



How Much Hosting Do You Need?

One of the great myths about starting a website is that you need to start out with a big hosting plan.  It’s great to be optimistic, but when you’re starting a new site, unless you are a marketing god, you aren’t going to be getting much traffic in the first few months.  Keep this in mind when choosing a hosting plan, and you can save money instead of throwing it away on more bandwidth and storage than you really need.

The general rule of thumb is that it can take as much as six months to start seeing a steady stream of traffic to a new website.  Also, before then, you probably won’t have a lot of files stored on your website, and will not need a high amount of storage.  For that reason, you can almost always get away with one of the lowest plans offered by a host.

Hostgator is one host that offers different levels of hosting plans at different pricing levels.  The smallest plan can be had for as little as $3 per month if you prepay, and you can upgrade to the next level at any time.  This is a good option until you know just how much space you really need.

When choosing a host, opt for one that will allow you to change your plan as you go, and start with the smallest plan available.  Then, as your website traffic and storage needs increase, you can easily upgrade to higher plans without any hiccups in your service.

Starting out small can save a bundle, so be realistic about your needs and you can put that money toward advertising or other website needs.

Do You Need Your Own Domain?

When you are just starting out, you don’t really want to invest much money into your blog, especially when you don’t know for sure that it will be successful.  One thing to consider is whether to have a domain name for your blog, or use a free blogging platform and their assigned URL.  Either way will work, but if your eventual goal is to be a professional blogger, it pays to start out with your own domain name.

While it is an expense up front to have a domain name, the cost is very minimal, but the potential long term benefits are huge.  For about $10, you can get your own .com, and hosting starts at just a couple of dollars per month, so for under $50 per year, you can have your own name and hosted blog, something you will eventually need if you stick with blogging.

Also, if you choose to go with a free blog for now and decide to get a domain later, the process to switch is a major headache that can cost you traffic.  All of your blog posts before the domain will need to be pointed to the new blog, and all of that hard-earned search engine ranking will have to start over on the new site.

Start out right and get a domain, and you will thank yourself later when your site starts to generate real traffic.  You will have control over your content and not have to worry about exceeding the bandwidth on a free site or losing all of your content due to a policy change at your host blogging platform.

Use of the "More" Tag

When you visit your favorite blogs, you may have noticed that some of them have the entire blog post available for you to read on the front page, while others only allow you to see a short snippet of the post and require you to click in to view the whole thing.  The ones with the snippet are taking advantage of the “More” tag, that allows them to decide how much of a post gets shown on the front.

The “More” tag can be very useful, especially if you have a lot of lengthy posts.  Imagine if you had a dozen 500-word posts, all showing up in their full glory on your front page.  Readers would quickly become bogged down and disinterested, because it takes too much work to get to the nexst article.  Using the “More” tag will allow them to briefly browse through each topic, deciding quickly and easily if they want to read that post or scroll to another.

If your posts are already quite short, the “More” tag will be overkill, but you can still take advantage of another feature of using that tag – intrigue.  When you only allow your readers to see a defined part of the blog post, you can create intrigue by using teaser writing in the beginning, making them curious about what you have to say next.  This works well when you want to deliver specific ads related to content that only shows up on individual posts.

Overall, using the “More” tag on longer posts is a good idea.  You keep your front page clean and make it easier for readers to find the content they’re interested in.