Saturday 28 February 2015

Where Do You Go From Here?

Today is the last day of the month and I'm finishing up my series on blogging.  I have learned a lot by doing this series.  I feel like I have breathed new life into my blog.  I've maintained a successful blog for almost four years.  Where do I go from here?

Why not use my blog as a launching pad for a book, an e-book or a podcast?

How Do You Blog a Book?

Many writers have turned their blogs into books.  I've already mentioned Julie Powell who blogged about cooking the recipes in Julia child's cookbook which launched the book 524 Recipes, 365 Days and One Tiny Apartment Kitchen.  An astounding 42,000 copies of the book sold just in one week after the movie Julie & Julia debuted.

A lesser known example is that of a travel blogger Cain9ine's New York ( who turned his blog into a successful book.  His book includes a plethora of breathtaking photos of landmarks liek Notre Dame Basicilica in Montreal and the sand dunes in the Arizona desert.  On his road trip, he samples local fare, including photos in his book.  His titles are catchy:  "The way of the Mouse" about his trip to Disney World; "Happy Fourth of July" in Washington D.C. and "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" in Boston.

Another example of a blog turned book is (  Each day, the reader learns a new French word or phrase, accompanied by a story and photos ex. Le Chien Perdu, Le Papillon or Mener a la Baguette.

How About an E-Book?

According to one writer, as of November 2013, Amazon started selling more E-books than print books on its website.  Check out the website "3 Easy Ways to Convert Your Blog into an E-book" at  Another website promises "How to (Really) Make 1, 000, 000 selling E-Books" at  You can also check out the book Publishing E-Books for Dummies by Ali Luke at

How About a Podcast?

How do you turn a blog into a podcast?  Visit the site  According to, here are two of the Best of 2014 podcasts.  Check out "The Tim Ferriss Show" the number one business podcast on iTunes.  Another successful podcast is "Atomic Moms", a parenting podcast.

That's all I have to say about blogging.  Thank you for sharing this journey with me.  I've enjoyed blogging about blogging.  I'll meet you in the blogosphere.

Friday 27 February 2015

Ten Tips to Making Money at Blogging

According to  Kristin Piombino, 81% of bloggers never make more than $100 at blogging.  However, 8% of bloggers make enough money at blogging to support a family.  Another 9% make enough money to sustain their lifestyle while blogging 4 to 6 hours a day.  The remaining 2% spend 1 to 2 hours a day blogging from exotic locations, taking in a salary of $150,000 or more a year.  See for an infographic on blogging.

In other words, you can make good money at blogging.  However, the overwhelming majority of bloggers either make little or no money at blogging.  If you have a substantial number of page views each day, and you blog regularly, you might be able to make a modest amount of money at it.  If you sign up for a monetization program, and at the same time try other ways to make money from your blog, you will increase your revenue.

According to David Risley, here are ten ways to make money from blogging;

1.  Membership Programs

You can provide quality content for free on your blog.  Then you can offer a premium level program, which offers more information, for a small fee.

2.  Information Products

Offer information on your blog including e-books, audio and videos.  When you author the products, you get to keep 100% of the profits.  Orphan Train ranks #10 in Amazon's top selling e-books for 2014 (

3.  Services/Consulting/Coaching

Build your reputation and brand through your blog; then offer your services offline.  "Influx Insights" ( is ranked #4 on Google's Top 50 Consulting Blogs.

4.  Speaking Jobs

Become known as an expert in your niche.  Start offering your speaking services through your blog ex. Chris Brogan

5.  Product Sales

Are you an artist?  Sell your paintings in an online store.  Blog about them to build a following. Irina's Paints ranks number 17 in Google's list of Top Art Blogs (

6.  Affiliate Programs

Offer products of others on your blog.  Get part of their profits when your readers buy them.  I signed up for an affiliate program with

7.  Direct Ad Sales

Provide a banner or in text ads on your blog for a company's product.  If you sell the ads directly, you get more money in your pocket.

8.  Banner Advertising

Sell network ads through programs like Adsense (, Kontera ( , IDG ( or Tribal Fusion ( .

9.  Review products

Review products on your blog through Pay Per Post or Review Me.  Here are some recommendations from "The Work at Home Wife" (

10.  Job Boards

Connect to job boards through ProBlogger (

For more information, read

Thursday 26 February 2015

Fake It Till You Make It

American psychologist William James in his work "The Gospel of Relaxation" ( said that not only can emotions drive our actions, but our actions can drive our emotions.  In other words, if you act differently, you will feel differently.  For example, if you're struggling with self-doubt, act confidently and eventually you will feel confident.

Can we translate this to the written word?  Is this theory something that bloggers can make use of?
According to D. Matriccino of Writer's Digest, it is (  Mr. Matriccino says that it's a neuroplasticity thing.  If you keep telling yourself that you are an expert, that you are a professional, sooner or later your brain will believe it.  As Mohammed Ali, the great boxer, once said:  "To be a great champion, you must believe you are the best.  If you're not, pretend you are."  According to Mr. Matriccino, sooner or later, you won't be pretending.

On the other hand, blogger Jeffrey Davis of Tracking Wonder, ( thinks the "fake it till you make it" theory isn't all it's cracked up to be.  Why not?

People do tend to be charmed by charisma.  Some consider it a way to compensate for incompetence and to overcome self-doubt.  However, according to Jeffrey Davis:  "Because faking it gets rewarded so often, we put more emphasis on learning to project confidence than on acquiring actual competence."

Jeffrey goes on to say that the "fake it till you make it" strategy is a result of the mistaken belief that humility equals weakness.  People in turn try to ooze confidence to convince others that they know what they're talking about.  In fact, it's vogue to hack education, to hack business and to hack mastery.  Everybody's an expert in their field.

However, the "fake it till you make it" advice is short sighted.  You can't be someone you're not.  The strategy diminishes merit and hard work.  Remember, there is no substitute for experience.  So, if you're a brand new blogger, come clean, admit it.  Yes, you won't come off as an expert.  But at the same time, you will be genuine.  And your readers will appreciate your candour.

Blogger Darrell Vesterfelt ( agrees.  In the world of business, people feel a tremendous pressure to perform.  The blogosphere is no different.  As a new blogger, Darrell tried to pass himself off as a professional.  However, he only told his readers half the story:  he left out the part about sleeping on a futon in his friend's guestroom.  He was an impostor.

Furthermore, using the "fake it till you make it" strategy, Darrell lost sight of two important things in his writing. Firstly, he forgot about the message; he focussed on what others wanted him to say rather than what he wanted to say.  He neglected telling the weaknesses about his story.  "The irony is our weaknesses are what make our messages believable, because they are what make us, as storytellers and communicators, relatable and reliable."  Readers want to read a blog that is reliable.  See my post about consistency at

Secondly, Darrell lost sight of his craft.  He wasted so much time and energy on faking it that he had none left for legitimate writing and for real growth.  In fact, he stopped writing on a daily basis, he stopped reading resources and he stopped inviting critiques of his work.  Darrell reminds us that if we can't write, we can't share our message.  "Don't lose your message because you're concerned with developping a persona."

Yes, confidence is important to writers.  However, you want to acquire it the right way.  Turn the saying around:  "Make it, Don't Fake It".  Then you'll feel that you've earned it.

Wednesday 25 February 2015

The Blog Post: Rogue, Crash Test Dummy, or Tell All?

Will Hoekenga, at Leadpages, has written an informative post about ten different types of blogs (  Here is the condensed version of Will Hoekenga's post.

What type of blog do you write?  Here are the ten main types:

1.  Rogue

The first type involves telling others your opinion.  It often polarizes a subject, making you choose sides.  One benefit of this blog is you get things off your chest.  One drawback is that you invite negative comments from your readers.  To write such a blog, you need lots of passion, knowledge and experience.  A good example of a Rogue blog is Viperchill (

2.  Guest Host

By guest host, I mean you invite people to create guest posts for your blog (not to be confused with guest posting, when you write for someone else's blog).  Will Hoekenga gives the example of KISSmetrics which built a 400,000 visitor per month blog mainly using guest authors.

The benefits of using a guest host are you save time writing and your guest author can help with the promotion of your blog.  The drawbacks are that you need a substantial following to start attracting guest hosts.  Also, it requires time and energy to woo the right guest bloggers.

Will Hoekenga gives the example of, which has shared guest posts from famous bloggers like Garret Moon:  "We Analyzed Nearly 1 Million Headlines.  Here's What We Learned" ( and Buzz Sumo "Why Content Goes Viral:  What Analyzing 100 Million Articles Taught Us"

3.  Crash Test Dummy

Pat Flynn of SmartPassiveIncome ( coined the phrase Crash Test Dummy in blogging.  IN this type of blog, writers test strategies, techniques and tools, sharing what works and what doesn't.  It's a detailed how-to article.  The drawbacks of this type are that you need consistent results, you need to chronicle not only your successes but also your failures, it takes weeks or even months to create and you may in the end help your competitors.  Willo Hoekenga recommends visuals like screenshots, charts and GIFs.  The formula is as follows:  a step by step process + results + teaching.

4.  The Niche

The benefits of the niche are its narrow focus, you can easily define your readers and you transform your passion into your business.  The drawbacks are that it is limiting and you need to constantly find new ideas.  An example of the niche is Stephanie Le's I Am a Food Blog ( which contains "drool-worthy pictures", a clean layout, simple formatted recipes and good writing, according to Mr. Hoekenga.

5.  The Giver

The Giver blog offers free bonus content.  The benefits of this type are that you collect e-mail opt-ins, you delier more value and you have better content creation.  The drawbacks are that you sepnd added time on preparing gifts and you need content upgrades relevant to the post.  Here is how it works. You write a post about a certain topic.  Then you offer free downloadable content about that post in subsequent posts in the form of an infographic , PDF checklist, etc.  You can use a LeadBox to link any text, button or image in your post to a popup window.  Bryan Harris' Videofruit blog ( is a good example of the Giver.

6.  The Guide

This blog type goes hand in hand with personal development, life coaching and spirituality.  The positives of this blog are the personal connection that can develop between the blogger and the reader, the potential for personal growth and the fulfilling feeling of helping others.  The negative aspects of the blog are the fact that it's an overpopulated category, you're dealing with a sensitive, delicate topics. Here a a good example of a Guide blog post "How to Believe in Yourself:  Pursuing Happiness When It's Already Within You" (

When writing this type of blog, give readers a way to continue the conversation ex. include an action checklist.  Don't neglect to share your own journey.  Be honest and transparent.  Empower your readers to solve their own problems.

7.  The Homer

The poet Homer, who wrote The Iliad, was known for his long, narrative verse; his poems were the length of books.  Therefore, Homer blog posts are long -- 2,500 words or more.  The blogger starts at Point A and weaves his way to a very different Point B.  Statistics show that longer articles get more shares.  If the post is 1,000 to 2,000 words long, it will get an average of 6,000 shares.  If the post is 2,000 to 3,000 words long, it will get on average 7,500 shares.  Once the post length is over 3,000 words, the number of shares does not go up as dramatically.  While you want to lengthen your post, don't pad it.  Make sure your information is valuable and worthwhile.  Check out JohnnyBTruant ( to read a Homer-type post.

8.  The Tell-All

Will Hoekenga asks:  "Have you ever walked to the top of the mountain and through the valley of the shadow of death?"  If so, you might be a candidate for the Tell-All Blog.  You have learned our lessons the hard way.  Your posts are shockingly revealing and yet highly valuable.  Readers relate because you have walked in their shoes.

The positives of this blog type are that you get to show lots of personality, you have the potential of building a strong brand and the results can be compelling.  The negatives are that crazy experiences are a prerequisite, you need a lot of creativity and narration in your post, and you can't leave anything out -- include every juicy detail.  As James Altucher, at The Altucher Confidential, ( explains:  "For some reason I've turned myself inside out and all my guts have spilled into my blog."

When I think of a Tell-All book, I think of The Sixteenth Round written by Rubin "The Hurricane" Carter (  Here's a man who was imprisoned for a murder he did not commit, as the result of a racially motivated verdict.  While in prison, he sat down at his typewriter and poured out his soul on the page. He left nothing out.  He laid his heart bare.  The pages oozed raw emotion.  He guarded that manuscript with his life.  While his autobiography was published, he had a brief time in the spotlight and then people forgot about him.  But about ten years later, a young Brooklyn boy read his book. He shared it with his lawyer friends who took on his cause and within three years, the Hurricane was released!  It's a great story of the power of the pen.  So, when you write your Tell-All blog, be like "The Hurricane" -- and your readers will eat it up.

9.  The Personal Brand

Seek to be an expert in your field.  Use your name on your URL and Facebook page.  If you present yourself as an expert, people will more likely:

-ask you to be a consultant
-book you as a speaker
-invite you to guest post
-hire you

The positives about The Personal Brand type are that you position yourself as a speaker and you increase your name recognition.  The negatives are that you must be comfortable in the spotlight and sometimes you have to treat yourself like a product or commodity. A good example of a Personal Brand blog is Marie Forleo's ( to Will Hoekenga, she has mega personality.  While she is a good writer, her bread and butter is in her MarieTV and helpful how-to's and interviews.

Here is Will's suggested formula for a personal brand blog post:  struggle/failure + strategy/technique you've created + tools to achieve results + personal stance on divisive issue 

10.  The Enterprise

This type of blog is built for a company like Buffer, Hotspot or Coca-Cola.  It consists of a team of writers who write content for customers where they learn more about a company's product.  The positives are:  it's a good marketing strategy, it can bring revenue to the company. Negatives are that it takes a lot of time to find trustworthy writers.  Ideally, you want to convert readers to customers. See Leadpages for a good example (

Choose One Dominant Type

Which blogger type are you?  Will Hoekenga says that while you may touch upon more than one of these types of blogs, it is important to have a dominant type of post.  This helps show consistency in your blogging.  For more about consistency see

Tuesday 24 February 2015

Consistency is Key to Blogging Success

"Decide to be consistent and then do it.  There will always be fires to put out."  (Garret Moon)

People buy products from businesses they know, like and trust.  The same is true of a blog.  Readers read blogs that they know, like and trust (

One way to build your audience's trust is through consistency.  According to Robert B. Cialdini, author of Influence:  The Psychology of Persuasion, inconsistent people are seen as "fickle, unstable, uncertain and scatterbrained" whereas consistent people are seen as "assured, trustworthy and sound" ( ).  Build your credibility by blogging consistently.

Be consistent in purpose.  Why did you start your blog?  Be true to your original motivation.  If you are all over the map, blogging about everything under the sun, you won't develop a loyal following. Consistency helps you stick to your purpose (

Be consistent in layout.  Don't keep changing your theme, colours and font.  If you want to develop a following, readers need to be able to recognize your site.  They will be more comfortable with the familiar.

Be consistent in posting.  Garret Moon recommends that if you own a personal blog, you should post about three times a week; if you own a business blog, post five to seven times a week, especially in a competitive field (  There are some blogs which only post once a week that are very successful. However, the more you post, chances are the more page views you get.  

Remember that practice makes perfect.  The more you post, the more proficient your writing will become.  Google loves sites with frequent and fresh content.  It's not just your readers who follow you, but also the robots working for Google (and Yahoo).  If you run a business blog and would like to become a niche leader, you have no choice but to post regularly and frequently ( .  Garret Moon says that consistency can help you become a subject matter expert.  That doesn't mean that you know more than anyone else on the subject -- far from it.  But it does mean that you know more than the average Joe.    

Furthermore, frequent posting can lead to more writing.  You can use your blog as a jumping off spot for an e-book, a book or a podcast.  In 2002, Julie Powell blogged about testing all of the recipes in Julia Child's cookbook.  The blog developped a huge following, led to a book deal, Julie & Julia:  365 Days, 524 recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, and a movie

Monday 23 February 2015

Ten Tips to Writing Irresistibly Clickable Blog Headlines

"In a world full of noise, how do you get people to actually read what you write?" (Jeff Goins)

According to blogger Jeff Goins, the headline is the most neglected part of a blog post (  The headline introduces the post and should therefore grab the reader's interest, make the reader want to read more.  According to copyblogger, while 8 out of 10 people read the headline, only 2 out of 10 people read the body of the post (

Here are ten tips to writing irresistibly clickable headlines that will grab the interest of your readers:

1.  Include a number in your headline.  

As Jeff Goins points out, if you stand in line at the grocery store, notice how many magazines have numbers in their headlines.  See

2.  Include interesting adjectives in your headline.

Use adjectives like effortless, painstaking, free, incredible, absolute, strange to pique the interest of your readers.  Visit for examples.

3.  Answer the questions what, why, when or how.

Give your readers an idea of what the blog post or article is about.  Again, make them want to read more.

4.  Make an audacious promise.

Promise to unlock an ancient mystery like the makers of the Cadbury commercial did (How do they get the caramel in the caramilk bar?).  Get your readers to try something they've never tried before. As Jeff Goins says, "dare the reader to read your article".

5.  Use keywords for SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Read my post about the importance of keywords at  Other bloggers seem to agree that using keywords in blog headlines is a good idea.  However, don't overuse them, making your title awkward.  Ideally, according to Brain Clark of Copyblogger, if your headline is 10 words in length, use two keywords.

6.  Avoid symbols like &, @, # or < >.

These symbols are difficult for web browsers to translate which confuses readers.

7.  Let the passion in.

If your blog headline conveys passion, chances are that your post will too.  

8.  Keep the headline an ideal length.

According to Kevan Lee, the ideal length for a headline is six words  However, according to Outbrain, the ideal length should be more than eight words, ideally 12 to 18 words.

9.  Be specific, not generic.  

10.  Here is Jeff Goin's formula for the perfect blog headline:

# or trigger word + adjective + keyword + promise

"How to Bath an Elephant" vs. "18 Unbelievable Ways You can Bath an Elephant Indoors"

"Sell your House in a Day" vs. "How You Can Effortlessly Sell Your Home in Less Than 24 Hours"

Sunday 22 February 2015

Finding Your Blog's Voice

"Stay true to yourself and your voice.  People don't care to follow sites so much as they care to follow people." (Chris Pirillo, LockerGnome)

Jeff Goins maintains that your voice is "the most important, yet overlooked part, of blogging." People aren't concerned so much about what you say, but how you say it. (

When you are starting a blog, it is tempting to conform to what other bloggers are writing.  You don't want to be judged, you don't want to stick your neck out.  But resist the temptation to blend in.  Find your own voice and own it.  As blogger Derek Halpern points out:  "What blends in gets forgotten. What stands out gets remembered."  (  You want to be remembered.  You want to stand out in the crowd.  

If you want ideas on how to find your voice, read Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott (  Sally Hogshead also writes about voice in her book How the World Sees You (  

Be forewarned:  Finding your own voice takes work.  As blogger Scott Berkun points out, great authors like Ray Bradbury or John Updike didn't just wake up one day and write a bestseller.  Group of Seven Painter Jackson Pollock didn't just create a masterpiece overnight.  It took him years to develop his "all-over style" of painting.  Scott Berkun adds:  "All makers require long, disciplined hours to develop their talents." (

Scott also points out that there exists a gap at first between your ambitions and your abilities vis a vis your craft.  Many writers or artists have a hard time putting up with their own mediocrity (especially perfectionists).  Many quit in the first year or two.  But if you keep at it, you will reach a point where that gap will start to close.  According to Ira Glass in This American Life:  "Do a huge volume of work...and the work you make will be as good as your ambitions." (

In the meantime, enjoy the process.  Don't always focus on the product.  Take delight in your progress, no matter how small.  And remember the words of the great jazz trumpet player, Miles Davis:  "You have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself."

Saturday 21 February 2015

Blogging a Trail of Breadcrumbs

"Hansel and Gretel may have been the first Internet readers...They were both so ADD that they couldn't even remember how to get home on their jaunt in the woods.  Readers on your blog are the same...but they can't leave their own breadcrumbs to find their way back -- so you have to help them find out." (Daniel Vassiliou, Endurance SEO)

How do you make it easier for your blog readers to navigate your site?  How do you draw visitors to your site for longer periods of time?  How do you lower your bounce rate (visitors who make a brief visit and leave)?  How do your raise your Google rankings?

The Internet has "web spiders" or "web crawlers" which "trawl around the web following links and indexing all content of web pages" (  You want as much of your blog content as possible indexed by the web spiders.  Providing interlinks increases your chances of getting noticed. 

For small blogs, it is easy to set up manual links in your blog to other relevant posts within your blog. However, with larger blogs, it becomes more complicated.  Daniel Vassiliou recommends a tiered linking system using the top down approach starting with your homepage (  

You can use plugins to incorporate breadcrumbs into your siet (see Yoast's breadcrumb plugins for Wordpress) which enables you to link pages and posts.  You can also use SEO Smart Links to match keywords to tags and titles in your blog (

When I studied French at McMaster, in grammar class we were given ten or fifteen French vocabulary words and we had to build an essay around those words.  The challenge was to incorporate all of the words into the body of the essay in a natural, rather than an artificial way.  

Similarly, as a blogger, you are given a list of keywords, applicable to your topic.  Your task is to mix in your keywords to fit naturally into your blog post.  For example, the other day, I did a blog post about Keywords.  Now would be a good time to share that post (see 

Blogger Yaro Starak gives the example of a post written about "shared trading" in which he gives a definition of PE ratio (see "price to earnings ratio" at, a popular keyword or phrase.  In his subsequent posts, he attempts to refer back as often as possible, when appropriate, to the PE ratio in his anchored text (the underlined links). 

Incorporating keywords and interlinks into your blog posts will raise your page views.  However, don't overdo it.  Again, make it a natural fit.  As Daniel Vassiliou warns, nothing can replace good blog content, regardless of keywords and links.  Now would be a good time to share my post "Developping Good Blogging Content" at  However, it can "boost strong content to the next level".  And it can help your readers navigate your blog, the way the breadcrumbs led Hansel and Gretel through the woods.  

Friday 20 February 2015

The Survey Says...

"Feedback is one of the most important things your readers can give you." 

Are you thinking about making major changes to your blog?  Try conducting a blog survey first to see if your readers will appreciate the changes.  Blogger Kiersten Frase, who writes a vegetarian blog called "Oh My Veggies" ( considered adding a menu planning service to her blog.  She decided to conduct a reader survey first only to discover that most of her readers weren't interested in such a service.

According to Kiersten, here are some other reasons to conduct a blog reader survey:

-find out why your blog has experience a drop in traffic
-plan a redesign
-conduct an annual health check; are you on the right track?

Several sites offer blog survey services including Google, Wuffo (  or SurveyMonkey (

When creating your blog survey questions, avoid leading questions like "Do I write too many history posts?"  Instead, say something like:

     I post five history posts per month.  Is that:
     a.  too many?
     b.  too few?
     c.  just right?

You can include multiple choice questions or open text or a mixture of both.  SurveyMonkey will help you with the wording of your questions if you visit

Here are some of the questions that blogger Kiersten wanted answers for when she held her reader survey:

1.  Who are my readers?
2.  How did they find my blog?
3.  What did they like about it?
4.  What new features would they like to see?
5.  How long have they been reading my blog?
6.  How often do they visit my blog?
7.  How do they find out about new posts?
8.  How frequently would they like me to post?

Kiersten embedded her survey in her blog post.  She publicized the survey on Facebook and Twitter.  If you have a newsletter or other website, don't forget to advertise there as well.  Kiersten received 550 responses to her survey, including many from readers who had never commented on her blog before.  She warned bloggers not to offer a prize for completing their survey.  A fellow blogger made this mistake and spent a lot of time sifting through answers from readers who had never read her blog before, who just completed the survey for the prize.  

Kiersten included her survey results in a blog post.  SurveyMonkey created charts and graphs based on the survey's results.  Kiersten also had a blog designer create an infographic for her (see  Kiersten is publishing a vegetarian cookbook later this year.

Image result for blog reader survey

Thursday 19 February 2015

Keyword Search is Key to Blogging Success

"Keyword research is a fundamental part of online marketing of all kinds, and is especially relevant for freelance writers, online publishers and bloggers.  Compelling content is favoured by search engines, but if you don't use the words people are actually interested in and actively searching for, you're missing a lot of traffic." (

Keywords are the words that you type into the box marked "Labels" or "Tags" at the side of your blog under "Post Settings".  They usually appear at the bottom of your post in a different colour than your text (mine are orange).  

How do you select the most appropriate keywords?  According to KISSmetrics, many bloggers choose very broad words like "pizza" or "hotel" or "Los Angeles".  Others choose obscure phrases like SEO/Link Building/Social Media.  KISSmetrics recommends that you sit down and brainstorm, making a long list of suitable keywords and phrases for your personal or business blog.  

Secondly, investigate the keywords that your business competitors or fellow bloggers are using. SEMrush is a great tool to use for this process.  Enter a domain to see the which organic keywords and ads keywords attract the most online traffic.  Another possibility is to visit and type in a keyword.  You will get results showing ten phrases related to your keyword, directing you to a more targeted search.

You can also visit the following websites to do keyword research:

3.  Blekko (
5.  Dogpile (

An article from KISSmetrics highly recommends visiting Google Adwords Keyword Tool at  The author of the article accessed this page, typed in social media and received 100 phrases.  Then he officially logged into his Google account (or Adwords account) and received 800 phrases for the same keyword.  Google Adwords will tell you the following information about your keyword:

-competition:  how many advertisers are bidding for a particular keyword
-global monthly searches:  12 month average of user queries for the keyword
-local monthly searches:  if you specify a country, it will give you the 12 month average of user queries for the keyword for that country
-approximate CPC:  approximate cost per click if you were to bid the keyword

Learn more about match types from Adwords Help at

Here are some points to remember when conducting a keyword search:

1.  If your website is commercial, go with keywords that seem to have the most commercial intent on the currently ranking websites.  If your website is informational, like a blog, go with keywords that have the most informational intent.

2.  Look for a "sweet spot" of high search volume in conjunction with low difficulty/competition.

3.  Look for keywords with high search volume with top competitors that have lower domain authority and backlinks.

4.  If your website is already ranking on the first page, but not in the top five spots, and the keyword has good search volume, focus on getting those keywords and phrases to move up.  

Wednesday 18 February 2015

Social Bookmarking Boosts Blog Traffic

"A social bookmarking service is a centralized online service which enables users to add, annotate, edit and share bookmarks of web documents." 

According to Christina Garcia, there are five reasons that bloggers should engage in social bookmarking:

Global Accessibility:  You are given access to the bookmarks, regardless of what technical device that you use ex. computer, cell phone, etc.

Profitability:  Social bookmarking increases your popularity.  If you have a monetization program like Google Adsense, this leads to increased revenue.

Web Presence:  Categorized bookmarking means the bookmarking service organizes and archives your favourite links.  You may do this by tagging bookmarks with keywords.  You will increase your web presence at the list of your favourite bookmarks and promote your brand (for more details, see at a collection of bookmarks with similar interests.  

Share Inspirational Information:  A social bookmarking service enables you to share inspirational information with your family, friends, co-workers or followers ex. updates, tips, safety concerns, book reviews or amazing recipes.

Higher Page Ranking:  Your website or blog will be found faster by search engines if you make use of social bookmarking.

Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are obvious social bookmarking sites.  Here are 15 others:

1.  Delicious at allows you to discover, share and organize the hottest links online.

2.  Folkd at enables you to share links with family, friends and followers.  

3.  Diigo (Digest of Internet Information) at is a multitool for knowledge management.

4.  Reddit at calls itself "The Front Page of the Internet", providing entertainment and news online.

5.  MyHQ at allows you to share bookmarks in a banner free environment.

6.  StumbleUpon at is "A Giant Collection of the Best Pages of the Internet".

7.  Linkagogo at dynamically bookmarks websites for you to share with family, friends and followers.

8.  Mister Wong at has over one million users.  The services saves and manages your favourite websites.

9.  Yelp at is the best way to find local businesses.  Read opinions, search photos, instant chat and locate local hotspots.

10.  Google Bookmarks at is a free service to create and share your favourite bookmarks.

11.  Tumblr at allows you to grow your blog audience by connecting with other blogs.  You may post text, photos, videos, quotes and questions.

12.  Blogger at allows you to create a blog, grow your audience, earn money and share posts.

13.  Wordpress at lets you build and maintain a website or blog.  It has evolved into a full content management system with thousands of plugins, widgets and themes.

14.  Storify at allows you to create stories and timelines fast and easily; it is interactive with social media like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.  

15.  Instagram at is a fun and easy way to share life with family and friends through a series of  pictures.  

Happy Social Bookmarking!

Tuesday 17 February 2015

What is the Magic Number for a Blog Post?

When I first started blogging, I was told that 500 words was the ideal length for a post, just enough substance for the reader to bite his teeth into but not so long that he doesn't read until the end. However, recently I have heard that longer posts are the way to go.  How long, then, is the ideal blog post?

Is there a minimum length for a post?  Bloggers recommend that posts be at least 250 words in length to optimize your search engine results.  On the other hand, if a post exceed 1000 words, some bloggers recommend that it be broken up into a series of posts.

Most bloggers seem to agree that the each post should be written succinctly.  Headings help break up the text and make the post more scannable for the reader.  Short paragraphs are preferable to longer ones.

Blogger Neil Patel outlines several factors which affect the length of a post.  They are:

1.  Substance:  What does your topic require?  If it is fun and lighthearted many a short post is best.  However, if it is a serious subject, or a controversial one, it likely requires more substance.

2.  Style:  What is your writing style ex. short and brief versus long and conversational?

3.  Frequency:  If you post rarely, chances are each post will be lengthy and well thought out.  If you most every day, your posts are likely to be shorter.

4.  Format:  Do you use subheadings and short paragraphs?  These techniques help break up a long post.

5.  Purpose:  If you run a business blog, you might be pitching a product.  If your blog is personal, you might be telling a story or trying to spark a conversation.

6.  Audience:  What are the needs, interest, passions or problems of your audience?

7.  Medium:  Do you include infographics, videos or podcasts?  If so, your word count is less relevant.

According to Neil Patel, long blog posts perform better than short ones on all levels.  There are over 200 factors which determine how your content ranks in SERP (Search Engines Results Page).  The more content you have, the better chance you will achieve a top position in Google search results. Therefore, more readers will see your post.  According to one blogger, the ideal length for a blog post is 1600 words -- the magic number (

P.S.  In case you're wondering, this post is only 400 words.  

Monday 16 February 2015

How to Reach Thousands by Guest Blogging

"With [guest posting] you should absolutely try your hardest to write something where people demand you come back..." (Tommy Walker)

Blogger Alex Turnbull did a guest post on Buffer's.  Within one hour he had 1000 new visitors to his own blog.  One thousand became 5,000, then 10,000, and before he knew it, he had 20,000 new visitors.  He has at least 10,000 regular subscribers; however, his blog partners have 1,000,000 subscribers.  That is the power of guest blogging.  If done regularly and effectively, it gives you the potential to tap into a much larger audience.

According to Alex, here are some of the factors you should consider before venturing into the world of guest blogging:

-Who reads the blog you are considering writing a guest post for?
-What audience challenge has the blogger not yet tackled?
-What content does well on the blog in question?

Alex has a standard guest post pitch which he just tweaks for each new submission.  It includes:

1.  a warm introduction (if possible, make sure blogger knows who you are before pitching your guest post ex. leave comments on their blog)
2.  put the other blog first (make sure it's a good fit; focus on building real, mutually rewarding relationships)
3.  validate yourself ex. what are your credentials (mention content published in other blogs)
4.  post a teaser (3 or 4 sentences)
5.  call to action (come out and state your request)
6.  follow up (set up a targeted landing page for the new readers you acquired from your guest post)

I look at my own history of guest blogging.  Thus far, I have only written one guest post; mind you, it was for a well-established, well-written blog (  My son, Thomas, warned me that while I would likely see an increase in my blog hits, after a couple of weeks my stats would return to normal.  He was right.  So, the name of the game is to guest post again...and again...and again.  Guest blog frequently enough that readers start to recognize your name.    

For more information, read "How We've Reached More Than Million People by Guest Blogging" at

That being said, don't forget that nothing can replace a well-written blog post.  Try to be a prolific writer in the blogosphere, but at the same time, don't sacrifice quality.  You want to write something that will grab the attention of your readers, that will keep them coming back for more.  

Sunday 15 February 2015

Guess Who's Coming to Blog?

"The amazing thing about guest posting really is the amount of people you will meet through it.  This means either in the comments of your post or simply the relationship with the person owning the blog." (Leo Widrich)

Inviting guest bloggers to your blog can be a win-win situation for both bloggers.  Guest blogs can help you grow traffic, strengthen blogger relationships, give a new viewpoint or fresh content, and increase your blogging frequency.  

However, you don't want to accept just any blog post from just any blogger.  MyBlogGuest ( a site which connects bloggers who want to write guest blogs posts with blog owners.  Similarly ( has a Blogging Directory which includes blogs that accept or publish guest posts.

Beware that when you request guest posts, you may receive spam, submissions that aren't a good match for your blog, or posts that read like marketing pitches.  To cut down on the undesirable submissions, include submission guidelines on your blog.  For example, ask for posts that are/have:

1.  useful to your audience
2.  free of spelling and grammatical errors
3.  free of self-promotion or marketing links (not to be confused with educational links)
4.  original
5.  not published elsewhere online as verifed by or
6.  use bullet points or paragraphs, whichever you prefer
7.  HTML formatting
8.  subheadings
9.  include pictures
10.  disclaimer:  a submission is not a guarantee of publication

Check out these tips at

Now you are ready to invite guests to post on your blog.  Hopefully, you will connect with the right people and make some lasting online relationships because of it.  Stay tuned tomorrow when I will discuss guest blogging for another blog.

Saturday 14 February 2015

The Power of Branding

"A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person.  You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well." (Jeff Bezos, founder of

Wood can be branded to write a message on a sign; a cow can be branded to show ownership; American slaves were branded, also to show ownership; imprisoned Jews were branded during the Second World War.  Branding, which has been around for centuries, can definitely have a negative connotation.

However, it can also have a positive connotation.  Today, business branding is commonplace.  When my nephew Bo was only 2 years old, he would shout out "Donald's" every time his parents drove past the fast food restaurant.  The golden arches are a form of branding.  When I visited Chicago a couple of summers ago, we took an architectural cruise along the Chicago River.  My favourite skyscraper was a jutting silver building with six giant letters on the side of it, "TRUMP".  Donald Trump is a genius at branding:  his name plasters his buildings, his products, even his helicopter.  Visit to see how the mastermind works.

Internet branding is a technique that uses the World Wide Web as a medium for positioning a brand in the marketplace.  Websites, social media, blogs, online press releases and video marketing are some of the medium used to advertise a brand.  Visit for ideas.

Personal branding is way for individuals to "market themselves and their careers as brands".  It can also be called "self-packaging", a term coined by Tom Peters in 1997.  It is a way to "establish a prescribed image or impression in the mid of others regarding an individual, group or organization". Self-packaging is not a new idea; Napoleon Hill first introduced the concept in his book Think and Grow Rich back in 1937, a bestseller that has sold over 70 million copies.  For more about this book, visit

Personal branding is a way to identify yourself on the Internet.  It gets your name, your image, your product or your blog out there.  It helps you connect with clients for your company or career.  For tips on how to build a strong personal brand visit or

Personal branding helps you stand out courtesy

Personal branding is a way to separate yourself from the competition.  Employers increasingly use social media tools to vet applicants before offering them interviews.  They check out applicants' Facebook pages, Twitter pages and personal blogs, to get a sense of what they are all about.

Remember, your brand should be consistent across the board.  Your blog, Twitter page, Facebook page, Pinterest page and any other social media pages should have a similar look.  For more information, visit


Friday 13 February 2015

Billion Dollar Graphics

"Infographic:  graphic visual representation of information, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly." (Wikipedia)

Infographics, or information graphics, such as graphs, charts, tables and maps, can be used by bloggers to enhance their blog.  One website claims that if you give an oral presentation, your audience will retain about 10% of what you presented.  However, if you include visuals and written words in your presentation, that figure rises dramatically to 50%.  To read about the power of visual communication, visit


                                     Infographic courtesy

While we think of infographics as a recent phenomenon, they have their roots in the early 19th Century (  Back in 1801, Englishman William Playfair, a political economist, published the first area chart and pie chart in his Statistical Previary.  In 1857, the famous nurse, Florence Nightingale, used inforgraphics to persuade Queen Victoria to improve military hospital conditions during the Crimean War.  In 1861, Charles Minard prepared a complex infographic on Napoleon's disastrous march on Moscow.  

Data Visualization

Charles Minard's infographic courtesy

In 1933, the London Underground was the first to make use of modern maps to sketch out its complicated subway system.  In 2010, an infographic illustrated how buildings have grown over the past several decades, starting with the Empire State Building and finishing with a modern marvel in Dubai (Skyscrapers Through History:  The World is Getting Taller).  Our brains crave infographics as explained by the following infographic  

"The World is Getting Taller" infographic courtesy

Here is a metro Washington subway map which makes good use of infographics.  

Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are litterered with infographics.  They not only convey information, but they also advertise your brand and generate more traffic to your blog.  Why not add them to your blog posts?  For tips about creating effective infographics, visit the following website at

Ten infographics on Pinterest at