Social Media and Blogging have gone hand in hand. But over the last few years, things have changed.
If you’re wondering what the future holds, and what, if any, changes bloggers need to make, then keep reading.
Listen to the episode
Click below to listen to me discuss this topic in more depth.
Social Media is Changing
A lot has happened in the social media landscape over the last 2 years. Of all the social networks, Facebook has been at the center of most of the controversy.
As a result of all of these issues, Facebook is now the most distrusted tech company. And there are legal implications to everything that has happened.
In fact, Facebook has reported that they are preparing for an up to $5 billion fine by the FTC.
It has come to a point where Facebook has to make some drastic changes if they want to survive.
If no changes are made, government regulation is on the horizon (as well as more fines). In fact,
These changes will have ripple effects that will change the way we interact with social media all across the board.
What the research shows
Those numbers look even worse among ages 12 – 34. The estimated amount of uses went from 79% in 2017 to 62% (82 million to 65 million).
And according to Social Media Examiner’s Industry report, there is a declining interest in Facebook (from 67% in the previous year’s report to 61%).
To make things worse, only 51% of marketers actually plan on increasing their organic Facebook activities (down from 62%).
Not to mention, this data was collected and reported on before the recent changes Facebook announced at F8.
If I were to guess, I’d say the numbers would be even lower today.
Facebook’s announcements at F8
At F8 (Facebook’s annual developer conference), Mark Zuckerberg took to the stage and announced some drastic changes.
Facebook is getting a complete redesign – the most significant redesign to date. In his words, they are building a “privacy-focused social platform.”
In this new design, Facebook groups, stories, and events are being emphasized, while News feed is being de-emphasized.
If you'd like to watch the entire Keynote, here you go…
What this means for bloggers
With these changes, organic reach will be virtually dead. Facebook will no longer be a platform for free public exposure and organic traffic generation.
If you’ve been dependent solely on social media for driving traffic to your blog, your traffic will decline significantly.
Many bloggers will fall by the wayside. But, I believe that this provides an excellent opportunity for bloggers who are willing to step up their game.
How bloggers should adapt
If you’re still with me, this means you still have some hope. You may be wondering what you can do in light of these changes. Is all hope gone?
Absolutely not. I’m going to share 10 tips with you that I believe will help you thrive in this rapidly changing world.
Tip 1: Stop building your platform on rented land
So they go all in on that platform and build their entire “empire” on there. Unfortunately, when you do this, you put yourself at the mercy of the platform.
And the bad news for you and I is that these platforms don't see building our businesses as their priority, nor should they.
They are in it to make their businesses successful, and that's exactly how you should be thinking.
When you build your own blog, you are building your platform. And while it may not seem as glamorous as having a million subscribers, you are setting yourself up for long-term success.
Tip 2: Have a strategic content creation strategy
I'm definitely NOT saying that you should monetize every post, slap ads all over your content or make everything promotional.
However, what I'm saying is that you should think through how each piece of content contributes to the goals you set for your business.
It may be that the purpose of a post is to be educational. Well, make sure that it's providing the right kind of education for your ideal customer. And make sure that it leads them on a journey to either consuming more of your content or going deeper in their relationship with you and your business.
Tip 3: Focus on your email strategy
Newsflash: Email is NOT dead. In fact, it's far from it. Having an email list is having a direct line of communication with your audience. And in my business, my email list is the #1 driver of my sales.
I've connected with a number of bloggers who have been around long enough to see significant declines in social media reach. The ones who are still around and thriving are the ones who prioritize email as a part of their blogging strategy.
Don't let Mark Zuckerburg (or any other social media execs) determine who gets to see your content. Take control of that process. Focus on your email strategy.
Tip 4: Go deep rather than wide
The world doesn't need more general health and fitness blogs. Been there, done that. However, the world of vegan women who do CrossFit would probably be excited to see a blog for them.
Instead of trying to expand to serve everyone (or to cater to all your own interests), focus even more on a specific niche and be the best source of information for them on the Internet.
Tip 5: Quality trumps quantity
Well, those days are gone. While there's some argument to be made for showing up often, it's becoming more important to make sure that you serve your audience in the best way possible. Instead of posting thin, fluffy content, focus on delivering value at every step of the way.
Along similar lines, it's not about the number of subscribers you have. It's about the quality of the community you've built. You don't need that many people to build a successful business.
If you have 834 people who are willing to spend $10/month or 167 people willing to spend $50/month in your business, you have a 6-figure business.
Tip 6: Learn about Search Engine Optimization
The better you are at SEO, the more likely you will be to show up in the search engines. The more likely you are to show up in the search engines, the more traffic you will have.
It's time to step up your game on the SEO front. And I don't mean hiring some random SEO team who emailed you promising to get you on the first page in 30 days.
I mean investing in SEO education for yourself or someone on your team, or bringing on someone who has a proven and verifiable track record.
Tip 7: Use video in a helpful way
We used to say that video is the future. We can no longer say that. Video is becoming an essential part of how the internet functions and how people consume content.
If you aren't using video as a part of your content strategy, you're missing out. Video provides a great opportunity for you to educate, inform or entertain your audience in a way that can contribute to your bottom line. It's a great way to get in front of a new audience as well as provide more value to your current audience.
YouTube is still the second most popular search engine in the world. And quite frankly, I find it a much easier to rank in YouTube than in Google.
Tip 8: Think as a community builder, not a content broadcaster
This is one lesson I'm actually taking from Mark Zuckerberg. If you want to build a thriving online business, you have to stop thinking like a broadcaster. It's not all about people listening to what you have to say.
While that does work to a certain extent, a more powerful way to build online is by facilitating conversation and connection. We are community builders. And fortunately, there are all kinds of tools to make this easier in 2019.
Tip 9: Show up consistently with multiple touch points
Make a decision about where you want to engage with your audience and create content on those platforms that complement the content on your blog. Stimulate conversations and be a part of the community.
The more they see you and get value from you, the more likely they will be to do business with you.
Tip 10: Track, test, tweak, improve
I decided to save the best for last. This is the ninja tip that makes the world a difference. Here's the fact – there isn't ANY strategy that will work for any two people in the same exact way.
What you need to determine is what works best for you. Fortunately, we have free tools that allow us to effectively determine this.
By using Google Analytics, setting up your goals correctly, using tracking URLs, and Google Search Console, you have everything you need.
Yes, I mentioned a bunch of technical stuff there. Yes, it takes work. No, it's not all easy. But is it worth it? Absolutely.
You may have noticed something as you read through all those tips. I'm not suggesting anything new. There was nothing revolutionary about what I proposed here.
In fact, all I'm basically saying is that we need to get back to the core of what it means to be a blogger and run a business.
Let's go back, to move forward. Create awesome content, do it consistently, build your community and have a solid business model.
If you make those things your priority, you are doing exactly what you need to do to thrive with your blogging efforts in 2019 and beyond.
If you’re starting your blog on a budget, a free WordPress theme is a great way to keep costs down.
There are literally thousands of free WordPress themes to sort through. And when you search for guidance on Google, you’re greeted with articles offering dozens (or hundreds) of free WordPress theme options.
Let’s be honest:
You don’t need a list of dozens (or hundreds) of free WordPress themes. There’s not enough time in the day to review them all, and most of them sound the same anyway.
No, what you need is a small list of themes that have been vouched for and vetted by people who know what they’re talking about.
And you need that list to be broken down in a way that makes it easy for you to choose the theme that best fits your needs.
In short, you need the post you’re reading right now.
We asked 11 influential WordPress experts and bloggers the following, open-ended question:
They were allowed to pick up to two themes.
Here are the results:
1. Astra by Brainstorm Force
A Look at Astra (in 50 Words or Less)
Astra is a popular multipurpose theme that offers a lightweight, optimized foundation that you can build into your own unique design via a set of simple, customization options. No coding is required.
The TL;DR for Astra
Of our 11 experts, 7 chose Astra in our survey.
300k Active Installs
There are more than 300,000 active installations of the Astra theme.
Users have given Astra an average rating of 5.0 out of 5.0 stars.
What Our Experts Say About Astra
The Astra theme is perfect for someone who’s getting started with blogging. Not only can you easily control the look and feel of the blog through the settings in the WordPress Customizer; but you can also import a complete starter site for free using the Astra Sites plugin. This can get you up and running in minutes.
Brad Morrison, Founder of GoWP
I’m a big fan of keeping things as simple and as fast as possible and the default “out of the box” Astra experience aligns with my own ethos perfectly. As a theme author I was pleasantly surprised at how many sensible defaults they had adopted meaning I think I spent less time setting this blog up than any other in recent memory!
Colm Troy, Co-founder of Create and Code
The free version comes with a lot of flexibility, it’s very well coded and the team behind it is great at support. It also works perfectly with WordPress’ new block editor as well as Beaver Builder and Elementor, so it’s a great option no matter how you build your content.
Nick Adams, COO at WP Buffs
Sure, [Astra] may not be the snazziest theme out there in it’s “out of the box” form, but it’s lightweight and gives you a great platform to build upon.
Want to get started right now? Install the theme, activate, make a few tweaks and get your blog out there. So, you can start writing today! Then, once you’re ready, you can grab the add-ons to the theme and customize it further.
Adam Connell, Founder of Blogging Wizard
Astra is one WordPress theme that has been on my radar for a while. We are actually moving ShoutMeLoud from Genesis to Astra for a few reasons:
Harsh Agrawal, Founder of ShoutMeLoud
In case you missed it, Harsh Agrawl is moving his website to Astra. That’s how big a fan he is of the theme.
Astra also received votes from Karol Krol and Daan Tol. We’ll have more from them later.
Key Features of Astra
Final Thoughts on Astra
If you want a free, lightweight theme that excels at customization and performance, Astra is a great choice.
2. Writee by Scissor Themes
A Look at Writee (in 50 Words or Less)
Writee is a clean theme that puts the focus on your writing, along with a spot for a bold, full-width featured image.
The TL;DR for Writee
Of our 11 experts, 3 chose Writee in our survey.
30k Active Installs
There are more than 30,000 active installations of the Writee theme.
Users have given Writee an average rating of 4.8 out of 5.0 stars.
What Our Experts Say About Writee
My recommended free WordPress theme for bloggers is Writee by Scissor Themes. This theme has a clean and modern design that is simple enough to work for all sorts of blogs. It’s very easy to set up, making it ideal for beginners. It comes with a range of widgets that bloggers will need, such as an ‘About Me’ widget and social widget.
Katie Keith, Co-founder of Barn2 Media
Writee is a free blogging theme found in the WordPress Repository, meaning it was built using the highest coding practices. It will work for all types of blogging sites, is easy to customize using the Live Customizer, and can easily be translated into the language of your choice if needed. Though there is room for more advanced customizations when it comes to the layout, sidebars, and navigation menus, Writee is perfect out-of-the-box and is suitable for even the most novice of bloggers.
Devesh Sharma, Founder of WPKube
There are a lot of excellent free blogging themes out there, but one standout is Writee by Scissor Themes. It has striking visuals, a lot of customization potential, and some other neat features.
Charlie Livingston, Founder of aThemes
Key Features of Writee
Final Thoughts on Writee
Writee is a great option if you want something that’s going to look great right out of the box. This contrasts with Astra and some of the other free WordPress themes on this list, where you’re expected to put in a little elbow grease to make them your own.
With Writee, you just activate it and start writing.
3. GeneratePress by Tom Usborne
A Look at GeneratePress (in 50 Words or Less)
GeneratePress is another popular option that shares the same philosophy as Astra. That is, it’s a lightweight chameleon that you can adapt to any niche or need.
In performance tests, GeneratePress usually ends up at the top of the pack, which is great if you want your blog to load fast. Beyond that, it also comes with over-the-top good support.
The TL;DR for GeneratePress
Of our 11 experts, 1 chose GeneratePress in our survey.
100k Active Installs
There are more than 100,000 active installations of the GeneratePress theme.
Users have given GeneratePress an average rating of 5.0 out of 5.0 stars.
What Our Experts Say About GeneratePress
Tom Usborne (the owner/creator of GeneratePress) is very helpful on [the support forum]. I could solve all my problems just by searching in the support forum. He also gives some great tips for using plugins that go very well with his theme (Code Snippets, Simple CSS). This way of working kept my theme vanilla so that I can always update without having to worry. For a non-coder like me – that’s the dream.
Daan Tol, Owner of WPLift
Key Features of GeneratePress
Final Thoughts on GeneratePress
Like Astra, GeneratePress will look pretty basic when you first install it. However, the magic of this theme is the many options in the WordPress Customizer that let you build it into the exact look you want.
If you’re willing to put in some time, you can create the theme of your dreams, and it will all be powered by a lightweight, performance-optimized foundation.
Finally, as Daan mentioned, the theme’s developer, Tom Usborne, offers amazing support if you ever need a helping hand.
4. Neve by Themeisle
A Look at Neve (in 50 Words or Less)
Neve is a lightweight theme that’s optimized to work with the new WordPress block editor (also known as the Gutenberg editor). It’s also on the list of the most popular free WordPress themes at WordPress.org, which means that, although it’s new, it’s getting a lot of traction.
While you certainly can customize Neve to suit your needs, it looks more “polished” out of the box, and it also comes with a variety of pre-built demo sites that you can import with just a few clicks.
The TL;DR for Neve
Of our 11 experts, 1 chose Neve in our survey.
30k Active Installs
There are more than 30,000 active installations of the Neve theme.
Users have given Neve an average rating of 5.0 out of 5.0 stars.
What Our Experts Say About Neve
If you’d rather get a theme that looks great out the box and simply works without necessarily needing to dive through various settings panels, use Neve. It gives you a modern, beautiful design that’s also built with performance in mind. Plus, it’s the top 10 most popular free theme in the official theme directory at WordPress.org. What more could you need?
Karol Krol, Heads Content at Themeisle
Key Features of Neve
Final Thoughts on Neve
As Karol highlighted, Neve makes a great option if you want something that’s going to look great as soon as you install it. If you like the default looks, you can just install it and start writing. Or, if you want to switch things up, but don’t want to redesign things yourself, you can also import one of the pre-built demo sites by clicking a few buttons.
5. Reykjavik by WebMan Design
A Look at Reykjavik (in 50 Words or Less)
Reykjavik brands itself as a free business WordPress theme, but it’s got a great look that can just as easily be adapted to blogging or other niches.
As the name suggests, you get a very “Nordic” feel to the styling.
(Basically, if you like Ikea, you’ll probably like this WordPress theme!)
The TL;DR for Reykjavik
Of our 11 experts, 1 chose Reykjavik in our survey.
2k Active Installs
There are more than 2,000 active installations of the Reykjavik theme.
Users have given Reykjavik an average rating of 5.0 out of 5.0 stars.
What Our Experts Say About Reykjavik
Reykjavik is a fresh, lightweight theme that features minimalist style. It is therefore a great fit for blogging and portfolio type websites.
Marko Segota, Co-founder of Anariel Design
Key Features of Reykjavik
Final Thoughts on Reykjavik
Reykjavik is another option that will give you a great-looking site from the second you install it. The clean styling also does a great job of highlighting your content, and will satisfy your love of Nordic style more than an ALLEMANSRÄTTEN meatball.
(Those are the meatballs at Ikea, if you’re not familiar.)
6. Cali by aThemes
A Look at Cali (in 50 Words or Less)
With its focus on visual imagery, Cali makes a great option for fashion, lifestyle, and travel blogs.
Beyond its looks, Cali also builds in some other helpful features for bloggers, like a newsletter integration (via the MailChimp for WordPress plugin), dedicated spots for social media follow buttons at both the top and bottom of your page, and space to bring in your Instagram feed (via the WP Instagram Widget plugin).
The TL;DR for Cali
Of our 11 experts, 1 chose Cali in our survey.
1k Active Installs
There are more than 1,000 active installations of the Cali theme.
Users have given Cali an average rating of 3.0 out of 5.0 stars.
What Our Experts Say About Cali
(I) also recommend our own Cali theme. It has plenty of cool options for bloggers – including a posts carousel, a wide selection of fonts to choose from, and social media integration.
Charlie Livingston, Founder of aThemes
Key Features of Cali
Final Thoughts on Cali
Cali’s looks are best suited for lifestyle, fashion, or travel blogs…or really just any niche with a heavy focus on imagery. Beyond that, it does a good job of integrating social media into its design, which, if you’re active on social media, is another big benefit to choosing this theme.
7. Didi Lite by Anariel Design
A Look at Didi Lite (in 50 Words or Less)
If you want something minimal that will put the focus on your strong words, Didi Lite is a great free option that has one of the simplest looks on this list. The theme offers plenty of white space and unique typography options that will help your site stand out.
As the “lite” in the name suggests, there’s also a premium version that you can purchase if you decide you’d like more layouts and customization options in the future.
The TL;DR for Didi Lite
Of our 11 experts, 1 chose Didi Lite in our survey.
700+ Active Installs
There are more than 700 active installations of the Didi Lite theme.
Users have given Didi Lite an average rating of 4.5 out of 5.0 stars.
What Our Experts Say About Didi Lite
Didi Lite is a modern blogging theme, built mobile first, that offers sleek layout and beautiful typography. With its minimalistic design it brings readers’ focus to what really matters: the content.
Marko Segota, Co-founder of Anariel Design
Key Features of Didi Lite
Final Thoughts on Didi Lite
With its minimal design, Didi Lite makes a great option for both text-heavy blogs, as well as fashion or lifestyle blogs (because you also get the option to display large featured images).
It’s also another good option if you want a theme that looks “polished” as soon as you install it.
8. OceanWP by OceanWP
A Look at OceanWP (in 50 Words or Less)
OceanWP is another free theme that follows the chameleon principles of Astra and GeneratePress. Once again, that means it’s a flexible foundation that you can build into your dream blog theme.
Like Astra and Neve, OceanWP also offers some free demo sites that you can import if you don’t want to customize your design from scratch.
The TL;DR for OceanWP
Of our 11 experts, 1 chose OceanWP in our survey.
300k Active Installs
There are more than 300,000 active installations of the OceanWP theme.
Users have given OceanWP an average rating of 5.0 out of 5.0 stars.
What Our Experts Say About OceanWP
I like the set of options OceanWP has for the headers. It has so many well-designed options out of the box. Plus the free extensions are awesome. [The free extensions] offer you a lot of (customizable) control on your website.
Daan Tol, Owner of WPLift
Key Features of OceanWP
Final Thoughts on OceanWP
OceanWP has a lot of similarities to GeneratePress and Astra, but it’s a little more focused on offering design and functionality flexibility, rather than just acting as a lightweight canvas. For example, you’ll find official free extensions for social sharing, sticky headers, and more that you won’t get with Astra or GeneratePress.
Free WordPress Themes: Frequently Asked Questions
Before we wrap up, let’s look at a few common questions we hear from readers regarding free WordPress themes. Questions like:
1. Free WordPress Themes vs Premium Themes: Is There a Difference?
When it comes to free WordPress themes vs premium WordPress themes, there are a lot of misconceptions out there.
Have you seen people write stuff like “premium themes are coded better than free themes”? Or “premium themes offer better designs”? How about “premium themes load faster than free themes”? Or even “premium themes are more secure than free themes”?
As someone who makes his living in the WordPress space, let me tell you that none of that is true. It’s just impossible to make those generalizations based solely on a theme’s price tag.
Free themes are code.
Premium themes are code.
You can have perfectly coded free themes and poorly coded premium themes. You can have well-maintained free themes, and premium themes that haven’t been updated in years. And, of course, the opposite can also be true.
What’s more, many themes are both free and premium. For example, the Astra theme that came so highly recommended comes in both a free and a premium version, and the “core” theme is exactly the same between each. The code doesn’t suddenly become “better” when you crack open your wallet, right?
Long story short:
There’s not a single inherent difference between free themes vs premium themes and there’s no reason you need to feel compelled to use a premium WordPress theme.
So if you absolutely love a free WordPress theme, it comes from a quality developer who maintains it, and it does everything you need it to already, just use it and be happy!
That doesn’t mean premium themes have no benefits
If you noticed above, you’ll see I used phrases like “inherent difference.” That’s because I wanted to hedge my bets a little bit. ?
There is, of course, a reason why premium themes exist, and it might turn out that a premium theme actually is a better option for your unique situation, especially as your blog starts growing.
Even if you start with a free WordPress theme, here are some reasons to consider going Pro in the future:
2. How Much are Premium WordPress Themes?
Because each developer sets their own prices, there’s a lot of variation in how much premium WordPress themes cost.
However, on average, you’ll usually spend about $60 for most premium WordPress themes. For example, the premium version of Astra sits right at $59, and many of the premium themes that you’ll find at ThemeForest also adopt this pricing.
Typically, that price also comes with one year of support and updates for your theme. After that first year, you can continue to use your theme on your site, but you will need to pay again if you wish to continue receiving support and updates.
3. What’s the Difference Between Free WordPress Themes and Free WordPress Templates?
Many people use these terms interchangeably, but they are very different. A WordPress theme controls the design of your entire website. A WordPress template controls the layout for a specific page (or specific pages) within your website — e.g. your contact page, your individual blog posts, etc.
In short, if someone tells you they’re looking for “free WordPress templates” or the like, they probably mean themes.
4. Can I Use a WordPress Theme if I’m not on WordPress?
No, WordPress themes are for websites that use WordPress as its CMS (content management system).
If you’re using Wix, Blogger, or a different blogging platform, you won’t be able to use WordPress themes for your website’s design.
5. How do I Find WordPress Themes?
If you’re still on the hunt for the perfect WordPress theme after our list, here are some tips for other spots where you can find WordPress themes.
For free WordPress themes, your best bet is to use the official WordPress.org theme directory.
Beyond just generally being a huge collection of free WordPress themes, another benefit is that every theme listed in the directory has to go through a basic code review process.
While this process is not foolproof for eliminating all issues, it does mean that any theme you find at WordPress.org is at least going to be free from any major errors or problems and coded to a minimum level of quality.
For premium WordPress themes, Smart Blogger typically recommends Elegant Themes (affiliate link) and Avada (affiliate link). However, you’ll have no shortage of options. Browse around, read reviews, and test as many demos as you can.
So, What’s the Best Free WordPress Theme?
That will depend on your particular needs and situation.
Based on the feedback from our experts, Astra leads the pack. But any of the free WordPress themes mentioned in this post are great options.
Take each one for a test drive.
See which one fits your website like a glove.
And be sure to let us know in the comments section which one you like best.
The post 8 Best Free WordPress Themes of 2019 (Chosen by Experts) appeared first on Smart Blogger.
Ever dreamed of lying on the beach while earning tons of passive income?
I wanted to build my own business that generated thousands of dollars while I slept, partied, and traveled around the world.
So, in 2015, my friends and I created a niche website to teach beginners how to breakdance.
Sadly, we never made enough money to quit our jobs and move to paradise.
But here’s the thing…
Though we weren’t successful, the experience taught me a lot about how to build a niche website, market it, and monetize it. And combined with the knowledge I’ve gained working at Ahrefs, I now know the keys to success.
In this post, I’m going to show you what I’ve learned:
What I did right, what I did wrong, and what I would do differently if I created a new niche site today.
We’ll start with a quick definition, followed by a few examples…
What is a Niche Website?
A niche website is a website that caters to a small segment of a large market by focusing on a common, specific interest.
My website, BreakDance Decoded, was a niche website. It specifically targeted breakdancers, which is a small part of the much larger “dance” market.
Other examples of niche sites are Mr. Money Mustache (focusing on saving and budgeting in the personal finance market) and Kopywriting Kourse (focusing on copywriting in the marketing/business market).
There’s a common misconception that a niche website is a small site. This isn’t true.
“Niche” refers to the segment of the market, not the size of the website.
A site can be niche and still have thousands of pages covering a variety of topics related to the niche.
Nerd Fitness is a niche website that writes about fitness for nerds. Even though it’s only targeting a specific type of persona, the site has hundreds of blog posts ranking for important keywords in Google.
In general, a niche website is an information website. It either produces or sells information that solve problems (e.g. courses, ebooks, etc.).
It may eventually pivot to other monetization models like e-commerce, but the core engine behind the site is information.
Now that you know what a niche site is, let’s take a look at how you create one:
1. Choose Your Niche
For many aspiring bloggers, niche selection is one of the most challenging dilemmas they face when starting a blog.
They either have too many ideas, or — worse — they have no idea what kind of site they should build.
It doesn’t help that there’s lots of contradictory advice out there: some people suggest you start with your passion, while others say you should choose a niche that’s profitable.
How I Chose My Niche
Personally, I started with my passion.
Not counting my job, breakdancing was the activity I spent the most time doing. So, setting up a niche site that would educate people about breakdancing was a no-brainer for me.
If you’re completely new to building a site and you just want to learn how things work, I would recommend you start with your passion.
Because growing a website is hard work.
But if you’re creating content on a topic you’re passionate about, you’ll be able to find the motivation to persist on those days you feel like quitting.
(And trust me, those days will be frequent.)
How I Would Choose My Niche Today
Today, I would choose a profitable niche.
It’s a niche with a large audience that buys things.
And that’s what you want:
A market where people are buying, buying, and buying.
While it was fun to write about breakdancing, it was a tough market to crack. When we started, there weren’t any other niche sites about breakdancing. Our competing sites were mostly e-commerce stores selling apparel for breakdancers.
In hindsight, that should have been a warning sign.
If there are no competitors in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), you should be concerned.
Competitors = Viable Market
Competition is healthy. It’s a sign the market is worth entering. It’s a sign there’s money to be made.
We should have listened.
To help you avoid the mistake we made, here are a couple tips to help you find profitable niches:
Tip #1: Brainstorm + Snooping Around
Sit down and brainstorm some niches you’re interested in pursuing. Then, do a quick Google search to see if there are any sites dedicated to them.
You can search for “best [niche] blogs” to get started (e.g. “best breakdancing blogs”).
And once you’ve found a few potential competitors in your niche, “snoop” around their site and see how they’re monetizing.
If they have a variety of products, it could be a good niche.
For example, let’s say I am interested in the paleo niche. A quick Google search for the “best paleo blogs” brings me to this site:
Looking around, I can see Diane monetizes her site in a variety of ways:
Seems like a good niche!
Tip #2: Browse Affiliate Marketplaces
Alternatively, you can also look into affiliate networks like ClickBank and Amazon Associates. These are middlemen networks that connect bloggers and niche site owners with companies offering affiliate marketing opportunities.
You have an audience, they have a product. Perfect match!
Affiliate networks are ideal because:
Just go through them until you find products you’re interested in.
Here’s an example:
Right now, I’m learning Russian. So, I might be interested in starting a niche site about the Russian language.
And lo and behold, ClickBank has a category for the Russian language. Cool!
Unfortunately, there is only one product for sale in this category.
That isn’t promising. If it was a profitable niche, there would probably be more options.
However, when I click on “Languages”, I see lots of courses. And if I follow tip #1, searching for “best language hacking blogs” brings back a strong list of competitors, such as Fluent in 3 Months.
So, “Russian” might be too niche.
But “language” learning could be a niche worth pursuing.
2. Setup Your Site
Done with niche selection?
Great. Now it’s time to setup your site.
There are four things you need when you first get started:
Now, don’t worry if you’re not tech-savvy. I wasn’t great when I started too. I’ll be running through what each of them are, so you can get started fast.
How I Setup My Site (and How I Would Do it Differently Today)
This is a domain. Think of your domain as the address to your house.
A lot of beginners get stuck on this phase. They procrastinate, hoping to find a perfect domain name.
The hard truth? There’s no such thing.
For us, we wanted a domain that was memorable but self-explanatory. We wanted people to understand what the site was about immediately.
That meant we needed the word “breakdance” in our domain. After brainstorming a few ideas, and consulting the thesaurus, we settled on breakdancedecoded.com.
Don’t spend all your time deciding on the domain. Just make sure it is:
If you’re stuck, you can use a tool like Domain Name Brain to give you some ideas:
Next: A Hosting Provider
To have a house, you need to have the architecture to hold it.
Your host is that architecture.
A hosting provider allows your website to be accessible on the Internet.
Since we weren’t technically-savvy, we followed a friend’s instruction and got our hosting from WPEngine.
In hindsight, that wasn’t a good decision. WPEngine is great, but it is pretty costly for a beginner site that won’t get that much traffic.
If you’re starting out, you probably won’t be getting very much traffic. So, it’s better to get a cheaper host.
There are plenty of hosting providers out there. Take a look around. Smart Blogger recommends SiteGround (affiliate link), so they’re one option to consider.
Content Management System (CMS)
A content management system is an online tool that enables you to create and manage your content (e.g. blog posts). WordPress is the most popular CMS, but there are other alternatives too.
Since we were using WPEngine, we turned to WordPress as our blogging platform.
As you’ll see later on, the biggest traffic channel for a niche site will likely be Google. As such, you should choose a CMS that is SEO-friendly.
Most search engine optimization (SEO) experts recommend WordPress, and it’s the CMS I recommend too.
Once you’re done with the installation, you’ll need a theme.
A theme is a template that defines the appearance of your site. (Think of it like the design of your house).
For our theme, we chose Genesis.
Genesis isn’t the best-looking theme around, but at the time we were looking for efficiency and ease of use. (Plus, we weren’t that great with design.) We also figured that we could upgrade to a better theme later on, if we got more successful.
With its simplicity, Genesis was a great theme for us. If you’re more design-savvy, feel free to pick another theme.
Once you’re done, install these two free plugins:
If you want more WordPress plugins to install, check out this list of time savers.
3. Do Topic Research
Your foundation is set.
It’s time to start getting traffic to your site.
How I Did My Topic Research
Now, at this point, most bloggers make the same mistake:
They write about whatever tickles their fancy.
I know because I did the same thing.
I brainstormed topics I thought would resonate with my audience, and then I wrote about them. The only reason I got away with it was because I was a breakdancer writing to other breakdancers.
I knew the topics that would interest my audience because I was a part of that audience.
But if you’re working in a niche that is unfamiliar to you, you can’t just write about anything you want.
Those topics won’t resonate and you won’t build an audience.
Your content won’t rank in Google, which means no traffic will come to your site.
How I Would Do My Topic Research Today
For most niche sites, the best way to get traffic is SEO.
SEO is an acquisition channel that will grow passively. As long as you are ranking well for the keywords you’re targeting, you will get passive traffic.
Compare that with other channels.
You could experiment with paid ads (for example, Facebook ads), but as soon as you stop the campaign or run out of money, your traffic dries up immediately.
The same goes for social media. You have to either build up a large audience (difficult) or bank on viral hits (also difficult). And as soon as you stop tweeting and sharing, whatever traffic you were getting will disappear.
Search engine traffic doesn’t stop. It keeps going. Even when you’re sleeping.
If you want search traffic, you need to write about topics that people are searching for. In other words:
You need to create content for topics with search traffic potential.
In SEO parlance, this is known as keyword research.
Here are a few ways you can do it:
Use a Keyword Research Tool
The easiest way to get started is to use a keyword research tool.
Enter any seed keywords related to your niche into a keyword research tool, and it will generate hundreds of different ideas you can target.
For example, here’s a free keyword tool called AnswerThePublic:
AnswerThePublic generates ideas for you based on different categories: questions, prepositions, comparisons, alphabeticals, etc.
There are plenty of other free tools out there, like:
Take your pick.
One of the most important metrics SEOs look at when doing keyword research is search volume. Essentially, search volume is the amount of searches per month for a keyword.
The problem with a free tool is that, while it’s free, it usually has either missing or incomplete data.
As such, you might want to consider using a professional keyword tool like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer (affiliate link).
You can access it using the Ahrefs’ $7 for 7-days trial.
Enter a seed keyword into Keywords Explorer, and it will generate thousands of keyword ideas, plus all sorts of relevant SEO metrics:
Here’s a quick explanation of everything you’re seeing in the above screenshot:
Lurk in Communities
There are communities for every imaginable topic out there.
You name it, they have it.
People gather in these communities to ask questions, discuss trending news, get recommendations, and so on.
Translation: these communities offer a wealth of topics for your niche site.
When we started, we hung out a lot on r/bboy, a subreddit for breakdancers. This was where we got our initial list of topics:
You can do the same too.
Do a search and find all the communities related to your niche. You can find them in places like:
And much more.
To find out if these topics have search traffic potential, you can install the Chrome/Firefox extension Keywords Everywhere on your browser.
You can also enter these topics into Keywords Explorer.
Ahrefs will show you all the SEO metrics, plus suggest a better topic for you to target (“Parent Topic”).
Figure Out What Your Competitors are Ranking for
Your competitors have done the hard work for you. They’ve been blogging and ranking in Google.
Your job? Borrow generously.
Find out what’s working for them, and then replicate those topic ideas.
Most sites feature their best-performing posts on their blogs, usually in a sidebar:
You can easily see which keywords they’re optimizing for.
For example, the post 595 Power Words That’ll Instantly Make You a Better Writer is obviously optimizing for the keyword “power words.”
If you’re unsure, you can click through to the post. If they’re SEO-savvy, they would have optimized their URLs for the target keyword.
Of course, the best way is to use a tool like Site Explorer.
Enter your competitor’s domain into the tool and go to the “Top Pages” report, where you’ll see all the pages sending them the most search traffic:
4. Create Your Content
Jon Morrow is right:
If you want to rank in Google, build an audience and compete with others, you have to create epic content.
You have to publish the best article ever written about those topics with search traffic potential.
The posts have to be detailed.
They have to be in-depth.
They have to answer every single question about that topic.
How I Created My Content
When we began our niche site, we were already huge fans of the detailed, long-form articles published by Smart Blogger and Backlinko.
So, we sought to emulate them.
We even published a 17,000-word article on how to get started with breakdancing.
It was our most successful article, but it took us almost a month to write.
You might be wondering:
Answer: you don’t.
What you should do is to focus on quality, not quantity.
If you have to publish less, so be it. Don’t sacrifice the depth of your article on some arbitrary content schedule.
(For us, it was impossible to stick to a schedule, as we had full-time jobs.)
You want to be known for the quality of your work — not how quickly you pump out new articles.
That being said, what does it mean to create great content?
When we started, all we knew was we needed to create something in-depth. We weren’t writers and had no blogging experience.
In short, we had no way to measure and define “great content.” We just went with our instincts.
Today, things are different. After reading and writing so many pieces of content, I can see which articles can be classified as great, and which can’t.
How I Would Create My Content Today
I no longer need to rely on my instincts. I know what “great content” is and what it must embody. It needs the following three characteristics:
Characteristic #1: Quality
Quality is subjective, of course.
How then do you know you’ve created something worth shouting about?
In my experience, quality consists of three factors:
If the content you produce meets these three factors, it’s great content.
Characteristic #2: Uniqueness
There are thousands, if not millions, of articles published on similar topics each and every day.
Why would someone choose your article over the others?
The best way I’ve found to create unique content is to write from personal experience.
Characteristic #3: Authority
Do you want to learn astrophysics from a Caltech physicist, or your next-door neighbor?
Of course, it’s the Caltech physicist. (Unless, you once lived next to Richard Feynman.)
Your readers are the same way.
No matter the topic, they want to learn from an authoritative source.
If you’re the expert, great! Carry on.
But what if you aren’t?
Get the experts to help you. Be the journalist. The scribe. There are plenty of experts with great knowledge, but insufficient ability to communicate that knowledge.
You can be the go-between.
Interview them. Curate their thoughts, research and expertise. You can even invite the expert to write an article for you.
Tim Ferriss. Tim doesn’t have expertise in every topic in the world, but he touches lots of topics. He does this by inviting experts to contribute to his books.
If you read our epic guide to breakdancing, you’d see it checked all three aspects we just covered:
5. Promote Your Content
Do you want to know the greatest lie in the content marketing world?
It’s this adage:
Nothing can be further from the truth.
Think about it.
According to the latest stats, there are 4 million blog posts published every single day. That’s a lot of noise.
That also means there is an extremely low chance that somebody will randomly stumble upon your site.
If you want traffic, you have to be proactive. You have to promote your content. You have to build links.
How I Promoted My Content
We focused on three promotion techniques:
Technique #1: The “Eager Sneezers” Technique
In a post published in 2015, Bryan Harris shared how he started an email list from scratch and got 205 subscribers in 48 hours.
The technique he used? “Eager Sneezers.”
Ignoring the fancy name, it’s essentially reaching out to your friends and inviting them to join your email list.
Bryan’s biggest takeaway was your friends want to help you (so let them).
We used a variation of this idea to get our early traction.
After publishing a post on breakdance music, we reached out to multiple friends to help share it.
Fortunately, as we were breakdancers ourselves, we had a number of breakdancer friends who were more than happy to help:
Technique #2: Community Content Promotion
Remember the communities you joined earlier (where you were “lurking” for ideas)?
They’re great for content promotion too.
Here’s one example of what we did:
Now, this is not an excuse for you to strut into someone else’s community and start spamming links to your content.
Online communities exist for people to have meaningful conversations about a particular topic. Link spam defeats that purpose.
Plus, you’ll likely get booted out of the group.
The only reason I was able to promote my content in a group like this was because I was already an active member. I was participating in discussions, asking questions, and commenting.
I knew what kind of content the community would appreciate, which was why I was able to share it.
So, before you start dropping links to your content in a group, make sure you are active and understand the group’s rules.
Technique #3: Outreach to People You’ve Mentioned in Your Content
If you’ve written an epic piece of content, you’ve likely linked out to sources or quoted experts.
Let them know!
In our post, we listed 157 songs a breakdancer must listen to. This meant 157 different people we could email.
So, we did. And it resulted in one of the featured artists sharing our post on Facebook:
How I Would Promote My Content Today
According to a survey of 1,117 bloggers, higher-income bloggers put more emphasis on promoting their content than lower-income bloggers.
Translation: if you want to succeed, you have to keep on promoting your content.
If I were to create a new niche website, I would add these content promotion strategies into my toolkit.
Strategy #1: Outreach to People Who Published Articles on the Same Topic
Since they’ve written on that topic before, there is a higher probability they’ll be interested in seeing your post.
To find these people, simply enter the topic of your article (remember to try variations!) into Google. Collect the list of articles that appear in the SERPs.
Then find their email address and reach out.
Alternatively, you can use a tool like Ahrefs’ Content Explorer, a search engine for web content.
Enter the topic into Content Explorer, do some filtering (like “English only”), and export the list.
You now have a huge list of sites to reach out to.
All that’s left is to write the email.
Here are a few tips to help you write a compelling email:
You can also read this in-depth guide about blogger outreach.
Strategy #2: Guest Blogging
Guest blogging is a tactic where you write a post for another website (instead of yours).
In exchange for your “free” article, the owner gives you:
Those are just the immediate benefits. Guest blogging also allows you to build relationships with influencers, or even grow your email list.
The biggest challenge with guest blogging is finding blogs willing to accept your guest posts.
To increase your chances of being accepted, look for sites that are already accepting guest posts.
You can find these sites via Google search operators. Here are a few examples:
These sites usually have a “write for us” page, so all you have to do is to follow their instructions.
You can also look for these opportunities in Content Explorer. The reasoning: if a blog has written about a topic before, there is an increased probability they would cover it again.
Enter any word/phrase from your niche into Content Explorer.
Check the “one article per domain” box to get a list of unique domains you can potentially write for:
Some of these sites may not have an obvious “write for us” page. But, most blogs will accept a guest post if your pitch is good enough.
6. Grow Your Email List
Study the best sites in any niche, and you’ll notice one thing:
They all build an email list.
An email list is powerful because you can do almost anything with it. You could:
The possibilities are virtually endless.
How I Built My Email List
Because we were observing these huge sites, we understood the power of the email list very early on. In fact, we obsessed over collecting as many emails as possible.
We tested all kinds of strategies on the site.
We even turned our homepage into an email collection machine:
How I Would Build My Email List Today
In hindsight, we were too aggressive with our email collection.
We were so concerned with the number of emails on our list, the quality of our list suffered.
We should have focused on user experience and only placed email sign-up forms where relevant.
Over the years, Jon and the rest of the Smart Blogger team have written tons of guides on email list building, so I won’t delve too deeply into this topic.
You can check out the different resources here:
7. Experiment with Monetization
What’s the purpose of a niche site?
To make money!
As you start gaining traction on your site, and gaining a few subscribers, you can start to look into monetization.
How I Monetized My Site
At BreakDance Decoded, we experimented with a few different strategies.
Strategy #1: Patreon
Patreon is a membership platform where fans can “fund” content creators. You can create separate tiers on Patreon to reward different levels of loyalty.
Back then, Patreon was a relatively new-ish platform. We saw that a few legitimate artists and creators were generating significant amounts of money on the platform, so we gave it a shot.
This was our Patreon page:
No matter how hard we marketed ourselves, the best we did was $50 per month on Patreon.
That’s not to say Patreon doesn’t work.
There are plenty of successful Patreon artists, like Kurzgesagt, who has over 12,000 patrons supporting his work:
Your results may vary.
Strategy #2: YouTube AdSense
In addition to our website, we were also running a YouTube channel. So, we decided to see if we could make enough money from YouTube.
Yes, we dreamed of being the next PewDiePie.
These were our results:
It was decent, but it wasn’t enough for a “passive income” source.
Plus, our niche was too “specific”, so we probably didn’t generate enough views to make financial sense.
Strategy #3: Coaching
One of Jon’s recommendations was to sell video or phone coaching as a quick way to monetize your site.
We took it seriously.
We sent an email to our list, telling them we were available for personal breakdance coaching. At the time, this was a relatively new concept to the niche, so we weren’t sure if it would work out.
Surprisingly, someone took us up on it.
Strategy #4: Online Courses
By 2025, the e-learning industry will grow to about $325 billion in size.
This probably explains why most popular blogs monetize via online courses.
However, our biggest concern (back then) with an online course was the time and effort it took to create a great one. Plus, we weren’t sure if there were any demand for an online breakdance course.
The notion of spending considerable time, effort, and money into creating a course no one wanted didn’t sound appealing.
But after testing all the different strategies listed earlier, creating an online course seemed to be the most viable option.
So, we decided to launch a MVP (Minimum Viable Product).
We sent a survey to our email list, asking them for their #1 challenge.
From there, we came up with a hook we thought would interest our audience:
While we waited for feedback, we created an outline for a potential 9-week course.
Using the email hook and the outline, we crafted a 5-day email sequence modeled after Ramit Sethi’s successful launches.
Not knowing what to charge, we decided on an arbitrary sales price of $37. For the test to be successful, we told ourselves that we needed at least 10 sales.
As we weren’t technically savvy, we had no idea how to collect orders online. We also didn’t have money to invest in a shopping cart software.
So, we kept it simple:
We created a PayPal link.
Then we activated the 5-day campaign by sending our subscribers a launch email.
To our surprise, we actually managed to sign up 12 students.
Our test was successful!
The only issue? We now had to actually create the course.
Once again, instead of investing in some complicated course software to launch it, we decided to do it the easy way:
Facebook had just launched its “Live” feature and was heavily promoting it.
We decided to use it.
We created a closed Facebook group, sent an email to our 12 students, and invited them to join the group:
Then we filmed each lesson by using Facebook’s Live feature.
Besides some technical issues (like audio), we received rave reviews for our course.
Don’t let perfectionism stop you from launching. People buy courses for the information, not the software you use or how perfect it looks.
What I Would Do Differently Today
I wouldn’t change a thing.
Online courses worked for me then, and it’s the monetization strategy I would use today.
Your results may vary.
It’s a good idea to play around with different monetization methods to see what works best for you. Even if you find a cash cow, always be looking at different ways you can diversify your income stream.
Otherwise, you’re asking for trouble.
Nomadic Matt has a blog that receives 1 million visitors each month, but as shared in his interview on Noah Kagan Presents, if he had continued with the same business model he had when he started (i.e. selling links), his business would have been dead in the water by now.
Are You Ready to Create a Profitable Niche Website?
This wasn’t a case study about how successful I am or how many Lamborghinis I now own.
It’s the opposite.
My site wasn’t successful by any means.
Instead of sipping mojitos at the beach, I’m still working out of an office.
But that’s because I didn’t know then what I know now.
Now I know better. Now I know what to do. And now so do you.
It is possible to build a niche website and monetize it.
So what are you waiting for?
Paradise is waiting.
The post How to Build a Niche Website (Step-by-Step Case Study) appeared first on Smart Blogger.
Itâs almost too easy.
By using sensory words to evoke sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell; smart and attractive writers just like you are able to make their words burst to life in their readersâ minds.
In this post, youâll learn:
Letâs dive in.
The Colossal Power of Sensory Details
Remember the final scene in Field of Dreams when Ray Kinsella has a catch with his dad?
You can smell the grass on the field.
You can hear the sound of the baseball hitting their gloves.
And you can feel Rayâs years of guilt melting away as he closes his eyes, smiles, and tosses the ball back to his dad.
(Be honest. Youâre crying right now, arenât you?)
Field of Dreams made you feel like you were in Rayâs shoes, on his field, playing catch with dad.
The scene creates such a vivid experience for many viewers that whenever they think of playing catch, this scene will come up alongside their own childhood memories.
When you paint a strong scene in your audienceâs mind, you make it easier for them to pull it back up from their memory. Youâve essentially bookmarked it for them so they can easily find it when something â a sight, a smell, a sound â reminds them of it.
Thatâs the power of content that incorporates sensory details.
And this power isnât limited to cinema classics capable of making grown men cry. For centuries, literary giants have been packing their prose with powerful words that evoke the senses:
In addition to The Bard, authors like Maya Angelou, Edgar Allan Poe, and Charles Dickens excel at sensory language. So do literally every famous poet you learned about in school.
And that begs the obvious questionâ¦
Why are Sensory Details so Effective?
Our brains handle sensory words differently than ordinary words.
In a 2011 study published in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, experts found that our brains process âtangibleâ (i.e. sensory) words faster than other words.
And in a study published for Brain and Language in 2012, psychologists found that a certain part of our brain is âactivatedâ when we read sensory words.
In other words:
So, we know why sensory details are powerful. And we know writers have been tapping into their power for a long, long time.
Now letâs define them and go over a few examples:
What are Sensory Words?
Sensory words are descriptive words â using imagery, they describe how we see, hear, touch, taste, and smell the world around us.
Letâs break each one down:
#1. Sight Sensory Words
Words related to vision describe the appearance of something (its color, size, shape, and so on).
Examples of visual words:
#2. Sound Sensory Words
Words related to hearing often describe the sound they make (known as onomatopoeia), but this isnât always the case.
Examples of hearing words:
#3. Touch Sensory Words
Touch words describe the texture of how something feels. They can also describe emotional feelings.
Examples of touch words:
#4. Taste Sensory Words
Taste words are interesting. Though they can describe food, theyâre often used in comparisons and metaphors.
Examples of taste words:
#5. Smell Sensory Words
Words related to smell describe â yes, you guessed it â how things smell. Often underutilized, sensory words connected with smell can be very effective.
Examples of smell words:
Note on Taste and Smell:
Because theyâre closely related, some sensory words can be used for both taste and smell. Examples: fruity, minty, and tantalizing.
Sensory Details: Examples in the Wild
Imagine the following headline came across your Twitter feed:
Would you click it?
Could you read the headline without falling asleep?
The answers are probably ânoâ and âheck no.â
Now imagine you saw this headline:
Much better, right?
The simple addition of the sensory word âcringeworthyâ changes the tone of the entire headline. Instead of yawning, youâre thinking of an awkward or embarrassing moment you really donât want to relive.
Letâs look at a few more modern-day examples of sharp people using sensory language to spruce up their content:
Using Sensory Words in Author Bios
Iâll pick on me for this one.
Hereâs the author bio I used for one of my first-ever guest posts:
Now look at the author bio my friend Henneke wrote for Writerâs Block: 27 Techniques to Overcome It Forever:
My bio is devoid of sensory words (or any interesting words at all, if weâre being honest).
Hennekeâs is chock full of them.
Her bio is interesting.
Mine is boring.
The lesson? Add at least one sensory word to your author bio.
Using Sensory Words in Social Media Profiles
Some people opt for brevity when writing their social media profiles, and thatâs fine.
But if you want your Twitter profile (or Facebook, Instagram, or any other social media profile) to stand out from the crowd, sprinkle in a sensory word or two.
Mel Wicks is a veteran copywriter who knows a thing or two about the effectiveness of descriptive words, so she uses them to spice up her Twitter profile.
Hereâs an example from my badly-neglected Instagram account:
âEnchantingâ and âadorably-jubilantâ are wonderful sensory words â so wonderful, itâs a shame theyâre wasted on a profile no one sees.
Look at your own profiles and see if thereâs a place to add a sensory word or two. Theyâll help your profile jump off the screen.
Heck, see if you can use enchanting and adorably-jubilant.
They deserve to be seen.
Using Sensory Words in Introductions
The opening lines of your content are so important.
If youâre a student, your opening sets the tone for your teacher (who we both know is dying to use his red pen).
If youâre an author, your opening can be the difference between someone buying your book or putting it back on the shelf in favor of one of those Twilight books (probably).
And if youâre a blogger, writer, content marketer, or business; your opening can hook the reader (increasing dwell time, which is great in Googleâs eyes) or send them scurrying for the âbackâ button.
Itâs why we put such an emphasis on introductions here at Smart Blogger.
Sometimes our openings hook you with a question.
Sometimes we strike a note of empathy or (like this post) focus on searcher intent.
And sometimes we give you a heaping helping of sensory words:
In the above opening for How to Become a Freelance Writer and Get Paid $200 â $1K per Post, Jon Morrow uses sensory language to set a scene for the reader.
And itâs highly, highly effective.
Using Sensory Words in Email Subject Lines
Like you, your readers are flooded with emails.
And with open rates in a steady decline, people are trying anything and everything to make their email subject lines stand out:
You name it, people are trying it.
Want a simpler, far-more-effective way to help your emails stand out from the crowd?
Add a sensory word.
Brian Dean loves to include words like âboomâ in his subjects:
The folks at AppSumo and Sumo (formerly SumoMe) regularly feature descriptive words in their subjects and headlines.
Hereâs one example:
And sensory language appears in most everything Henneke writes, including her subject lines.
In this one she also uses an emoji related to her sensory word. Very clever:
Now that weâve covered several examples, letâs dig a bit deeperâ¦
Letâs discuss some practical steps you can take that will make adding sensory language to your writing a breeze:
How Descriptive Words Can Pack Your Writing With Sensory Language
If youâve taken a good English or writing class, youâve probably been told a time or two to âshow, donât tell.â
This means you should create an engaging experience for your audience; not just tell them what you want them to know.
You accomplish this by using descriptive language that conveys sensations and lets readers experience your words (rather than simply read them).
And how do you do that, exactly?
Ask yourself these five questions when youâre writing:
#1. What Do You See?
It isnât enough to tell your readers there was a scary house in your neighborhood when you were a child. Describe the house to them in vivid detail.
What shade of gray was it?
Were the doors boarded up?
Precisely how many ghostly figures did you see staring at you from the upstairs bedroom windows, and how many are standing behind you right now?
Paint a mental picture for your readers.
#2. What Do You Hear?
We listen to uptempo songs to push us through cardio workouts. Many of us listen to rainfall when weâre trying to sleep. Some of us listen to Justin Bieber when we want to punish our neighbors.
Want to transplant readers into your literary world?
Talk about the drip, drip, drip of the faucet.
Mention the squeaking floors beneath your feet.
Describe the awful music coming from your next-door-neighborâs house.
#3. How Does it Feel?
Touch sensory words can convey both tactile and emotional sensations.
Can you describe to the reader how something feels when touched? Is it smooth or rough? Round or flat? Is it covered in goo or is it goo-less?
Paint a picture for your reader so they can touch what youâre touching.
The same goes for emotions. Help the reader feel what you (or your character) are feeling. Draw them in.
#4. What Does it Taste Like?
Does the beach air taste salty? Is the roaring fire so intense you can taste the smoke? Is the smell of your roommateâs tuna fish sandwich so strong you can taste it from across the room?
Tell your audience.
Make them taste the fishiness.
#5. How Does it Smell?
It wasnât a basement you walked into â it was a musty, moldy basement.
And you didnât simply enjoy your Momâs homemade lasagna. You inhaled the aromatic scents of sauce, cheese, and basil.
Evoking the sense of smell is possibly the most effective way to pull readers out of their world and into yours.
So when you sit down to write, ask yourself if itâs possible to describe how something smells. And if you can? Do it.
The Massive Sensory Words List: 581 (and Counting) Descriptive Words to Supercharge Your Writing
Once youâve asked and answered the five questions above, your writing will be packed with sensory details.
In time, youâll build up your own massive list of sensory words you can reference and sprinkle throughout your work.
But in the meantime, hereâs my list.
Use them often:
Are You Ready to Unleash the Power of Sensory Words?
Itâs time to say goodbye.
Goodbye to lifeless words that sit on the page.
Goodbye to indifferent readers ready to move on to something, anything, else.
You now know why sensory details are so effective. You know how to sprinkle descriptive words throughout your content. And you now have a massive, ever-growing list of sensory words to bookmark and come back to again and again.
Variations of the following quote have been attributed to everyone from Carl W. Buehner to Maya Angelou, but regardless of who said it, and how they said it, itâs true:
Itâs time to make your readers feel.
Are you ready?
Then letâs do this thing.
The post 581 Sensory Words to Take Your Writing from Bland to Brilliant appeared first on Smart Blogger.
Here’s the thing:
There are many tutorials that can teach you how to write a blog post.
They can educate you on the mechanics of blogging, what to do, and what not to do.
Read them and you can learn how to craft a perfectly serviceable blog post. Heck, you might even write something that wins you an adoring fan or two.
But if you dream bigger, if you want to know how to write a blog post that cuts through the noise and wins you legions of fans, you need something better than a run-of-the-mill tutorial.
You need an ultimate guide.
In this post, this ultimate guide, we’ll share tips used by professional writers to create spellbinding posts that are adored by thousands. You’ll learn the secrets to crafting irresistible headlines, seducing introductions, captivating advice, and motivational closings.
You’ll even learn how the pros refine and polish their posts once they’re finished writing them.
These are secrets many bloggers would gladly pay real money to learn, but it won’t cost you a thing — other than a few minutes of your time.
Let’s dive in.
Want Smart Blogger’s Ultimate Editing Checklist — a 22-point cheatsheet for polishing your post to perfection? Click here to download it for free.
Step #1. Craft a Headline That Readers Can’t Resist
Want to know one of the biggest mistakes bloggers make?
Writing the blog post before the headline.
Without a headline, they have no roadmap to follow. And so their post goes in multiple directions, leaving readers feeling dizzy, confused and disoriented.
And then they try to create a headline that embraces all that madness. Bloggers, have mercy!
If you want to write a blog post full of clarity, conciseness and conviction, spend some time crafting a quality headline that sets a clear destination, lures readers in, and leaves them eager for your advice.
Your headline will be your map, your writing navigation system, letting you know which literary roads to choose and which to avoid so that readers reach the intended destination as easily and efficiently as possible.
Follow these 8 rules to craft your killer headline:
Headline Rule #1. Pick a Mouth-Watering Topic
Want your blog post to get opened?
Then your headline must promise readers the very answer to whatever is tormenting them. The thing that keeps them up at night.
Your headline should not promise them a trip to the moon and back — readers are way too swift for such shenanigans. Keep the benefit specific and narrow, and readers will feel compelled to click and get the solution to what’s bugging them.
How do you find out what’s bugging your readers? Research:
You have one responsibility as a blogger — yup, just one. And that is to serve your audience. The better you know them, the better you serve.
Before you know it, you’ll know them so intimately they’ll feel like you’re reading their minds, and your headlines will reflect that.
Let’s say you’re in the self-improvement space and you wrote the headline below:
This headline is so broad it’s unlikely to draw readers in. No one loses sleep over “wanting to create an amazing life.” They lose sleep over specific aspects of their lives that have left them unfulfilled.
So you are better off narrowing in on something specific that’s bugging your readers, such as:
Narrowing in on something specific makes readers feel like you have the answers they’re looking for.
Headline Rule #2. Steal from the Pros
Okay, you’ve done your research and you know exactly what your readers need. Now it’s time to turn your topic into into a killer headline.
The easiest way to master the art of writing headlines? Steal.
Not in the unethical way. In the smart and efficient way.
Decades of copywriting and advertising research have revealed the types of headlines that have proven to be successful. The types of headlines that zap readers out of their info-overload comas and compel them to open. Why mess with that research?
If you want your headlines to grab readers, stick with what works.
No, your headlines don’t need to sound like they came straight from BuzzFeed. They can reflect your voice and style.
But until you’re as skilled a writer as Jon Morrow, let the proven templates be your guide (how do you think he got so good at writing headlines?).
Blogging is hard enough, so if you have templates at your fingertips, why not use them?
The easiest templates to start with? “How to” headlines and list post headlines. They are classics and they work. In fact, 75% of Smart Blogger’s most popular posts use these formats.
Here are a number of Smart Blogger headlines that follow the “how to” and list post templates.
“How to” Headlines:
List Post Headlines:
Note: You can download Jon’s free 52 Headline Hacks, where you’ll find more template options than you’ll ever need.
Headline Rule #3. Engage Your Senses
Vague headlines leave readers feeling empty. Tangible headlines leave them feeling understood.
How to you create tangible headlines? Put yourself in the shoes of your reader.
How do they feel? What do they see, taste, or smell? What do they hear?
Engage all of your senses. The more your headline gives voice to their exact experience, the more they’ll feel like your post was written for them.
Let’s say you blog about health and wellness and you wrote a headline called:
This headline follows a proven list post formula, and it narrows in on something that’s bugging readers. All in all it’s not too bad, but it could be even more concrete.
To step it up a notch, put yourselves in the shoes of your readers. Think about exactly what they’re experiencing.
Perhaps that would lead you to the following:
If you suffer from migraines, there’s no way you could resist clicking such a headline.
Headline Rule #4. Tease, Don’t Satisfy
A common mistake you may not even realize you’re making?
Giving away too much in your headlines.
Your headlines should lure readers in like a literary temptress. They should catch readers’ attention and invoke their curiosity, not give a solution.
Give a solution in your headline and readers feel no need to go any further — they’re bored by the very thought of your post.
When this happens, not only do you lose but your readers lose as well, as they trade the richness of your post’s advice for the quick fix offered by the headline.
Let’s say you blog about personal finance and you write the headline below:
Sadly, readers will see this and think they’ve got all the advice they need — if they want to save for retirement, they must create a monthly budget. No need to read more.
On the other hand, a possible revision could be:
For anyone living paycheck to paycheck, this headline would pique their curiosity. Nothing is given away, it speaks to an audience with a very specific problem, and it promises a solution they’d love to get their hands on.
Headline Rule #5. Honor the Headline Commandment
When it comes to headlines, there is only one commandment you can never break:
“Thou shalt not deceive.”
This may seem obvious, but writers inadvertently do it all the time. How?
Big no-no. The content of your post must fully deliver on exactly what the headline promises.
If the post only delivers part of the solution, readers will feel misled and lose their trust in you.
Let’s never do that to them, yes?
Let’s say you write a post called:
But then the post only talks about following your dreams, which is really only one aspect of living a happy and peaceful life. Even though you didn’t intentionally deceive them, readers will feel shortchanged.
Another example — perhaps you write a post called:
But then the fifth way contains no useful advice and instead leads to a sales page to get the solution … no bueno.
Headline Rule #6. Trim the Fat
Want to overwhelm readers right from the start?
Fill your headline with weak and flabby words.
What are weak and flabby words? Empty, unnecessary words that add no real value. Instead, they create clunky phrasing and leave readers scratching their heads in confusion.
The mistake many bloggers make is writing headlines the way they speak. While that’s okay when you write the post (to a certain extent), when you write headlines that way it waters them down.
You want your headlines to be as ruthlessly concise and powerful as possible. So chop out weak words and throw in power words (if appropriate).
Let’s say you draft the following headline:
There are just so many words! We can cut them down as follows:
We can then add some power to it:
Here’s a mouthful:
My head is spinning. This can be cut down to:
We could even make it more tangible and powerful:
Nice and trim, but packs a punch.
Headline Rule #7. Don’t Be a Smarty-Pants
Your headline should make sense to all readers no matter where they’re coming from or in what context they’re approaching your post.
They shouldn’t have to guess what the benefit is. After all, you’re supposed to be reading their minds, not the other way around.
So you’ll want to avoid using metaphors (unless their meaning is painfully obvious), jargon, rhymes, made-up terms, or anything that tries to be overly clever or complicated when drafting your headlines.
Where to begin with this one:
A headline like this tries to be too clever — readers don’t give two hoots about not acting sappy, obviously. Don’t prioritize cute tactics like rhyming over delivering clear benefits in your headlines.
A headline like this is also trying to be too clever. “Apple of Your Eye” is a common metaphor readers are likely familiar with, but there’s no concrete benefit being offered here. A headline must always contain a strong benefit, not a cute phrase.
No clue what this means … and I just wrote it. If there isn’t a singular and clear interpretation of what the headline’s benefit is, it’s trying too hard. So save the metaphors for the actual post where they will (hopefully) make more sense.
Perhaps you effectively explain in the post how people treat love like a captive animal, and it may make for a great analogy, but readers scanning headlines will have no clue why they should stop to read this, and so they likely won’t.
Headline Rule #8. Rock Your Style
The more consistent you are with your audience, the more trust they’ll feel for you.
If you generally keep your headlines pretty simple and then suddenly write one jam-packed with power words, your readers will feel confused.
The more you write, the more of a style you’ll develop. Once you determine what that style is, use it consistently (or make slow and gradual changes to it if necessary) so your audience learns and trusts your brand.
If most of your headlines read like this:
Then you might not want to suddenly write a headline that reads:
Your readers will think your blog got hacked!
How to Write a Headline: Bonus Tip
When writing a headline, try crafting 5–10 different versions of the same headline.
The more you play with the words, the better you will get at creating clear, concise and curiosity-invoking headlines that readers cannot resist.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss a question we hear often:
Ever notice how some headlines in SERPs (search engine results pages) are truncated?
It’s based on your headline’s width in pixels, but as a general rule: right round 60 characters Google will cut off your headline.
Since a truncated headline can result in fewer people clicking your link in SERPs, it’s a common SEO practice to keep your headlines 60 characters or less.
Of course, things are never that easy.
In a recent study, Brian Dean of Backlinko found that longer (14-17 words) headlines generated more shares on social media than shorter headlines.
(76.7% more social shares, to be exact.)
As with all things, your mileage may vary.
Step #2. Write an Introduction That Grabs and Seduces
You’ve lured readers in with your headline. Now you’ve got to keep them.
No easy task, my friend.
Readers are fickle. Known to take a quick glance and then vanish from your online sanctuary, lickety-split!
You must fight to keep them there, and the way you craft your introduction plays a huge role in their browsing commitment.
Follow these rules to craft an introduction that captivates your readers:
Introduction Rule #1. Slip into Their Shoes
A common mistake that reeks of amateur blogging?
Trying to sound too academic in your blog openings.
You know, those posts that start like this:
Don’t get me wrong — as a lawyer, I value solid research. But in the blogging context, this approach bores readers. If you want to captivate instead of bore, you must make readers feel like you’re reading their minds.
A powerful way to achieve this?
Step into their shoes and write from their perspective. Show them you understand exactly what they’re going through.
After all, you likely struggled with the very topic you’re writing about and learned how to overcome it. We teach what we most wanted to learn, right?
So show readers that you “get it.” You’re not some corporate slog, you’re in it with them, fighting the good fight and sharing the tools that brought you to the other side.
This introduction is a masterclass in empathy:
As writers, we all share the deep longing to embrace our calling and express our ideas, but we also share the fears that so often sabotage those longings — the fear that we don’t have what it takes, that we’ll crash and burn, and that our dreams are just that — dreams.
In his introduction, Jon addresses all those longings and fears and immediately makes you feel like he gets you so intimately, it’s almost creepy.
Creepy, but effective.
Note: You don’t need to open like this in every post. There are certainly other approaches, like telling a powerful story. But if you’re working on mastering your craft and getting the most impact for time invested, an empathetic opening is an approach you’ll want to use frequently.
Introduction Rule #2. Get into Character
If you want to captivate readers, you must trigger their emotions.
So as you sit down to write, think of the feelings you want them to experience:
Fear, anger, sadness, hope, joy, disgust, shame, comfort, love, courage, and so on.
Then get into character and feel them yourself as you write, and your words will read with undeniable authenticity.
When Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the heartbreaking lyrics in Hamilton that have left tears on the faces of millions, it was his eyes that first shed tears as he put his pen to paper.
So play with your emotions. Map out the emotional journey you’re taking readers on, and infuse those feelings into your writing. Feel what you want your audience to feel and your words will exude those emotions.
This tip applies to your whole post, but in no place is triggering your audience’s emotions more important than your introduction.
You feel me? ?
I once wrote an emotional post about my two little girls which addressed how delicate their emotions are, as well as my own vulnerabilities and my longing to give them the patience, presence and love they deserve.
Here’s a portion of it:
I felt that longing intensely and definitely shed some tears as I wrote the introduction. The feedback I got from readers was that they felt the same intensity, and even cried as well.
When we write, our feelings seep into our words.
Introduction Rule #3. Lure Readers Down the Page
Want readers to commit to your post?
Accelerate their experience. Lure them down the page.
The faster they get pulled down, the more committed they’ll feel.
Too many bumps in the road early on, and off track they go, never to return.
Here are three copywriting tips to use in your intros to lure readers down the page:
#1. Open With a Short Sentence or Question
Kind of like how I opened this section. ?
This is how all of Smart Blogger’s posts open, and for good reason. It’s a copywriting technique proven to pull readers in.
Start a post with a long clunky paragraph and they’ll feel exhausted just looking at it.
#2. Take a Knife to Your Words
Slash as many words as possible.
If the first draft of your introduction is 200 words, try cutting it down to 100. The more you practice this, the more efficient your writing becomes.
And when you write efficiently, your words have power. That power will grab your readers.
#3. Set the Rhythm
All writing has a pace and rhythm.
You want your introduction’s pace and beat to be somewhat quick. You can slow things down later.
How do you achieve this?
The best writers, like the best music composers, take readers on a journey. Fast and slow, loud and soft, urgency and ease.
The more you pay attention to this, the more rhythm you’ll infuse into your words.
Shane Arthur sends readers’ eyes flying down the page by using crisp sentences and short paragraphs to create a fast rhythm:
He then appropriately slows things down in the section that follows with longer sentences. A masterful composition!
Introduction Rule #4. Make Them Beg
Want readers begging for your solutions?
Add a little fear to your opening.
What are readers worried about? Do they know what will happen if they don’t solve the problem the post is addressing? What is the worst-case scenario?
Bring those fears to the surface. Expose them.
By doing so, not only will readers feel a camaraderie with you (because you understand their fears, so clearly you’ve tip-toed through the dark side yourself), but they’ll feel more eager than ever for the solution you present.
We all have fears. We think we need to hide them, but the more we give voice to them, the easier they are to set free.
Do that for your readers.
In his introduction, Glen Long brilliantly taps into the fear of failure all writers experience by addressing the dream of making a living as a writer and then quickly smothering that dream with the doubts that creep up at the mere thought of it:
The fear of failure is painful, yes. But giving voice to it is validating and makes readers eager for the solutions that will set that fear free.
Introduction Rule #5. Hint at the Promised Land
Finally, as you wrap up your intro, hint at the promised land.
The place readers will get to when they master your methods. The destination your post promises to take them.
But whatever you do, do not give it all away. Just one sentence that says too much satisfies your readers enough to send them clicking away.
Why? Because readers bore easily. You must keep them on their toes. And the point of an introduction is not to give answers, it’s to set the stage for all the hearty advice your post will provide.
In the introduction to Meera Kothand’s post, she addressed a problem all new bloggers face: How do you get to know your audience when you don’t have one yet?
She goes on to talk about the big mistake many of them make (making assumptions) and why that’s ineffective. Then, she uses the simplest phrase to hint at a solution:
How could anyone not want to keep reading?
How to Write an Introduction: Bonus Tip
When writing an introduction, try drafting two completely different versions approached from different angles and triggering different emotions.
Doing so will highlight the techniques and emotions that work best for both your audience and the content of your post.
A word of caution:
No matter how eloquent your words…
No matter how powerful your prose…
If your introduction doesn’t satisfy user intent, readers will click the “back” button and never return.
What’s user intent?
It’s the purpose behind the Google search.
If someone searches for “how to lose weight” in Google, they’re expecting search results that will help them lose weight.
If they click a headline that reads “7 Easy Tips For Losing Weight Fast”, and the post begins with an amusing Nicolas Cage anecdote, there’s a good chance they will leave — never getting to read the rest of the post, which is filled with weight loss wisdom.
And when they leave, what they’re essentially telling Google is this:
And Google will respond by ranking your post lower in its search results.
Step #3. Deliver Advice That’s Easy to Consume and Impossible to Ignore
Okay, you’re doing great.
You got readers to click on your headline, you lured them down the page with your intro, and now it’s time to deliver on all that you’ve promised.
If you want readers to love you and look forward to every post you write, you’ll over-deliver.
If you want them to take a quick look and vanish for good, you’ll under-deliver.
The choice is yours.
Use the guide below to deliver valuable and easy-to-consume advice:
Content Rule #1. Add Pitstops
Subheads — use them.
Why? Because readers are scanners.
They have no choice. There’s a behemoth amount of content at their fingertips, and not all of it is good.
And so they scan (as do you, I’m sure).
Subheads are your chance to prove to readers that your content holds value. To keep luring them back into your post, when their instinct is to leave.
Blogging is a battle, remember?
Keep these four tips in mind when drafting your subheads:
#1. Add a Subhead Every Few Paragraphs
Sprinkle subheads throughout your post.
Why? Because they gently guide readers along the route your post is heading, making their experience feel clear, easy and enjoyable.
And never forget, your blog posts are all about your readers’ experience.
If readers see too much text when they’re scanning without enough pit stops, they’ll feel overwhelmed. It’s like getting on a bus tour and being told there will be no bathroom breaks … oh, the anxiety!
Every single post on Smart Blogger.
That’s how important this is.
#2. Avoid the 3 Subhead Blunders That Make Readers Bounce
Subheads have the same function as headlines; they must make readers curious so they keep reading. So you should follow similar rules when drafting them and avoid the following common blunders:
Let’s say you’re writing a post about the impact sleep has on anxiety levels and you include the following subheads:
See how the first subhead is way too plain, the second gives too much away, and the third, well, it probably made no sense to you, right?
The subheads below would do a better job at grabbing readers:
#3. Compare Each Subhead to Your Main Headline
Each subhead should clearly deliver on the overall headline of your post.
Again, if you’re viewing subheads as pit stops, they must all lead to the ultimate destination — what was promised by your headline.
If the subheads get off track and move away from that destination, readers are left feeling lost and confused.
In that case, either the subheads need to change or the headline needs rethinking.
Say you’re writing a post called “How to Silence Your Nagging Inner Critic” and you include the following subheads:
The fourth subhead’s sudden twist in topic is jarring. It does not deliver on the overall headline, which had nothing to do with your day job.
Perhaps you intended all along for the post to be about not letting doubts stop you from following your dreams and quitting your day job, but readers scanning subheads will not understand that.
They will simply feel confused.
#4. Follow a Format
If you are listing various “ways,” “steps,” “methods,” “signs,” etc., to achieve what the headline of the post promises, keep the format consistent.
If you don’t, the post comes across as unpolished. Bloggers overlook this all the time, but it’s easy to fix once you’re aware of it.
If you separate your subheads from the post and list them back to back, you can see if any stray from the course.
Say your post is called “12 Ways to Cure Insomnia” and you have a subhead for each of the 12 ways. You’ll want those subheads to follow a consistent format.
Let’s say your first few subheads read as follows:
Something there feel a little off?
The first three subheads start with an action verb instructing readers what to do. They are also fairly consistent in length.
But then the fourth subhead suddenly changes the format and breaks the flow. It doesn’t start with a verb and it’s much longer than the others.
This inconsistency may seem fairly innocent, but it’s distracting to readers.
Content Rule #2. Unleash the Unexpected
Let’s face it, readers today are info-holics. We all are.
So tired old advice isn’t going to cut it. Your post must be unique, bold, and eye-opening.
My advice? List your main points and see if you can add a unique perspective, experience, or twist to them. Something readers aren’t expecting.
What belief systems have you learned to challenge? What do you know that most people don’t? How can you shed new light on an old problem? What methods do you use that others won’t know about?
You don’t want to go overboard just for the sake of adding shock value. Your advice must be authentic and truly helpful. But regurgitating old advice doesn’t challenge you as a writer, nor does it enlighten your audience.
So pour your readers a little espresso for their info-hangover by delivering the unexpected.
Countless articles have been written about blogging, but how many have called you out for being dumb or told you to replace your friends?!
Jon does just that by knocking you over the head with some hard truth bombs about what it takes to make it as a blogger.
Content Rule #3. Follow a Formula
Notice how this post follows a pretty consistent formula?
Each section is relatively similar in length. Every subhead follows a pattern. Each section ends with an example.
The more consistency you weave into your posts, the better the reader’s experience.
Let’s say you write a list post covering five steps to achieve something. If the first step is 500 words, the second and third steps are 100 words, the fourth step is 200 words and the fifth step is 400 words, it looks sloppy. As though you didn’t bother to edit it before hitting publish.
Your readers deserve the best, and minor details like this matter as they affect the fluidity of their experience.
Want to go even more pro? Look at the the beginning, middle and end of each section you write, and create a guiding formula. Perhaps you start each section with a bold statement or personal experience. Then you flesh out your advice in the middle. And then you end each section with a one-sentence call to action.
The more formulas you add to your posts, the easier they are to write and the more they look like polished works of art.
In his post on getting traffic from Twitter, Brian Honigman uses hashtags for each subhead, each section is consistent in length, and each includes a graphic.
Readers know exactly what to expect from each section, making for a fluid reading experience.
Content Rule #4. Be Ridiculously Generous
Many bloggers worry about giving away too much in their posts. After all, they want readers to sign up for their paid coaching calls or products.
So they hold back, barely skimming the surface of their advice.
Truthfully, if you’re not generous with your readers in your posts, they won’t get a good impression of your paid products.
Don’t hold back on your readers. Fully work through the problem with them. Give them complete solutions and powerful advice. Wow them with your generosity and they will stick around as loyal readers and customers.
Want to learn everything there is to know about affiliate marketing?
Holy smokes. At 10,000 words, that insanely generous post by Leanne Regalla is basically a textbook on the subject, and reader comments praise it as such. (Let’s all bookmark this one, yes?)
A post of this magnitude is quite an undertaking, but don’t let it scare you. You can also wow your audience with your generosity and thoughtfulness in a 1,000-word post.
Content Rule #5. Start and End Strong
Just as your introduction and conclusion should grab readers, you want the main body of your post to start and end strong as well.
Of course, every section should have valuable content, but if you’re offering five ways to achieve something, save your absolute best tips for the first and fifth ways. The first way will grab your readers’ attention, and the fifth way will leave them feeling fully satisfied.
On the other hand, if each tip successively decreases in value, readers will feel like your post is deflating. And their excitement will deflate with it.
Let’s leave readers feeling pumped when they finish your post.
Linda Formichelli gives ten crafty ways to write 1,000 words per hour.
While all ten ways are excellent, I’d argue that the first (about writing under the pressure of a full bladder) and last (about gambling with your reputation) are the most bold and attention-grabbing (bathroom break, anyone?).
Writing a Blog Post: Bonus Tip
Before writing the main sections of your post, flesh out an outline to nail your points down.
The clearer and more simplified your outline is, the more clarity and conviction your post will have.
Step #4. Close with a Motivational Bang
We’re almost at the finish line! It’s time to close your post with a bang.
This is where you rally behind your readers. Show them that you believe in them.
Make them believe they can achieve the goal promised by your headline (because after reading your generous advice, they certainly can).
Follow these rules when crafting your motivational conclusion:
Conclusion Rule #1. Give Your Readers a Pep Talk
Motivate your readers.
Show them how far they’ve come, what they’re capable of, and what life will look like once they’ve implemented your advice.
Give them the pep talk you longed for when you were struggling with the topic your post presents.
Empower them by raising your expectations of them. They can’t just read your post and pretend it never happened — they must take action. Immediately.
Make them see that no matter what they’ve experienced or how hard they’ve struggled, their time is now.
In this post’s conclusion, Jon uses all he’s had to overcome in life to show readers that they have no excuses: no matter hard things get, they can accomplish anything they set their minds to.
He encourages readers by letting them know that he believes in them and then he raises his expectations of them by telling them they need to get started … “right freaking now.”
By the time you’re done reading the conclusion, you feel like you can conquer just about anything!
Conclusion Rule #2. Avoid New Information
A common mistake many bloggers make?
Suddenly inserting new information or tips in their conclusions.
It’s like reaching the last ten minutes of a spellbinding movie. You’re on pins and needles waiting to see how it ends, and suddenly a new character is introduced. What the … ?!
It’s jarring. Don’t do that to your readers.
In his conclusion, Robert van Tongeren motivates you to repurpose old blog posts by comparing them to epic musical classics; if they disappeared into obscurity simply because they’re old, we’d all be at a great loss.
Imagine if in the midst of such a conclusion, Robert quickly threw in one more way to repurpose content, or one small caveat to his post’s advice, or one more general tip to keep in mind?
It would throw the whole closing off and leave readers feeling ruffled instead of jamming to Bohemian Rhapsody.
How to Write a Conclusion: Bonus Tip
When writing your conclusion, put yourself back in the shoes of your readers.
What will their lives be like if they accomplish the advice in your post? How will they feel?
The more you can hone in on your readers’ point of view, the more you can motivate them to take action.
Too many bloggers put too little thought into their closings.
That’s a shame.
Let’s face it…
Most people don’t read 100% of our posts. Heck, most people don’t even read half.
So how do we reward the precious few who read and absorbed the words we poured our heart and soul into?
With a closing we whipped together in 20 seconds.
Someone who makes it to the end of your post is primed.
They trust you. They like you. They want you to tell them what to do next.
So tell them.
Don’t waste this opportunity.
Step #5. Polish Your Post So It’s Smoother Than a Slip ‘n Slide
Phew! You’ve written your post. Next up?
Take a well-deserved break. Step away for a day or more so you can come back to it with fresh eyes.
Once you’re ready, it’s time to do some editing. I know, the mind reels that there’s more work to do!
But editing your post is essential. If your post doesn’t provide a smooth reading experience, your reader will lose attention and bail.
Use this checklist when you’re ready to edit your post:
Want this 22-point checklist as a handy, printable PDF? Click here to download it for free.
How to Edit a Blog Post: Bonus Tip
A great way to self-edit your posts is to read them out loud.
Doing so will help you catch many of the issues listed above, particularly things like overly complicated wording, run-on sentences and choppy rhythm.
Win the Battle for Your Reader’s Attention
Blogging is a battle.
A war to get your ideas the attention they deserve.
Your enemy? The dizzying array of online distractions that devour your readers.
This battle is not for the faint of heart.
There are so many learning curves. Blogging platforms and plugins you’ll need to install. Social networks you’ll need to employ. Marketing techniques you’ll need to try.
But none of that stuff matters if you’re drowning your ideas in amateur writing. You might as well lay your sword down in defeat. Readers don’t have time for amateurs.
So before you venture any further down the blogging rabbit hole, you better make sure you know how to write a blog post like a pro.
Skip that step, and nothing can save you. Your battle is lost.
The good news is, writing effective blog posts is a skill you can learn. And it’s one you must learn.
You have powerful words and ideas that can transform readers’ lives. Those ideas are worth fighting for.
So when you’re ready to enter the arena, arm yourself with this ultimate guide and fight the good fight.
Your readers are counting on you.
About the Author: Liz Careathers, Esq. worked as an instructor in Jon’s guest blogging course for two years editing the posts of hundreds of students. She now writes to empower her readers at StrongSensitiveSouls.com while raising her two little girls. Download her free Checklist for Writing Blog Posts that Emotionally Engage Your Audience.
The post How to Write a Blog Post in 2019: The Ultimate Guide appeared first on Smart Blogger.
Whether your blog is brand new or already established, you can never have enough traffic.
I work at an SaaS company called Ahrefs, and even though the Ahrefs blog pulls in over 200k organic traffic every month, we still experiment with ways to promote our blog and bring in more traffic.
Because let’s face it:
It’s 2019. Simply sending an email blast to your subscriber list doesn’t cut it anymore.
But don’t fret.
If you’re stuck coming up with new ideas for how to promote your blog, here are 9 tried-and-tested tactics that have worked for us.
Let’s dig in.
#1. Work with Podcasts
Let’s start things off with the buzzword of the year: podcasts.
Thanks to their flexibility (you can listen to them while you’re at work or when you’re on the go), they’re the most popular form of audio content.
They’re also widely available on services like iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify.
Some quick facts:
Ahrefs has had great success with sponsoring podcasts (paid advertising) as well as guesting on them — that is, sending a member of our team to be interviewed on a show.
Here’s an actual comment from a new customer and blog reader of ours:
For sponsoring podcasts, think of this tactic as a type of influencer marketing.
Your job is to sell your blog to the podcast host and the podcast host’s job is, in turn, to sell your blog to their audience.
How to Promote Your Blog by Sponsoring Podcasts
If you have the budget, sponsoring podcasts is a great way to promote your blog. Here’s how you do it:
Step #1. Do Your Research
Create a list of podcasts whose audiences are a good match for your blog. If you have no idea where to start, here’s a tip:
Try using a specialized podcast search engine like Listen Notes. Browse the shows and pick your favorites.
Step #2. Make Contact
Once you’ve created a list of targets, you’ll need to contact the podcasts and inquire about sponsorship details.
What are their pricing packages? What dates do they have available? Are there any gotchas?
Prices can range from $50 to $5,000 and beyond per episode, so work within your particular budget.
Step #3. Iron Out the Details
This includes your ad copy, delivery, and any other deliverables like your blog’s logo and elevator pitch.
In my experience, organic reads do much better than “scripted ads.”
The goal is to get the podcast host to sound like a fan and regular reader of your blog.
Step #4. Wait for Your Ad to Air
If anything is off, be sure to let the podcast know as soon as possible!
How to Promote Your Blog with Podcast Interviews
If you’re strapped for cash (or simply don’t want to do podcast advertising), another approach is to appear as a guest on podcasts.
This is usually free — unless you’re approaching extremely-popular podcasts, which tend to charge a one-time appearance fee.
The catch is you’ll need some kind of credibility to your name. In other words, you’ll need to convince the podcast host that you’re someone their audience would love to listen to.
The process for this is similar to the one detailed above:
Step #1. Create a Target List
Use Listen Notes or a similar tool to create a list of podcast targets.
Step #2. Check if They Accept Interviews
Often, podcasts will explicitly state on their websites whether or not they accept interview requests.
And if they don’t accept interview requests? Ask anyway.
Send in your pitch and convince them you have lots of value to add.
Step #3. Follow the Host’s Lead
Every podcast will have their own process. Some may want to do pre-interviews, some may want to work on a rough content online with you, and some may want to just “wing it.”
Whatever the process, remember to be courteous and respectful — you’re a guest, after all.
Just don’t forget to mention your blog!
Appearing on podcasts is one of our favorite promotion strategies here at Smart Blogger — as evidenced by our appearances on EOFire, James Altucher, Duct Tape Marketing, the Write Podcast, and Loz James’ Content Champion.
Just make sure you’re prepared:
#2. Republishing on Medium
Sure, you can publish tons of absolutely amazing posts on your own blog.
But if you never extend your reach, whether it’s by growing your list of email subscribers or boosting your number of social media followers, your audience will be limited.
So what do you do if you don’t have time to create promotional content and extend your reach?
Republish your existing posts on blogging platforms like Medium.
Your content will be seen by a whole new audience — some of which will then visit your blog and discover all the great content you have to offer.
For example, look at this blog post I published on the Ahrefs blog last December:
It got 463 shares and 43 comments — very decent engagement considering the fact that the topic likely didn’t appeal to our blog’s core audience (people interested in search engine optimization).
In a bid to push the post out to a wider audience, we republished it on Medium. It turned out to be a fantastic decision.
Here are the stats as of March this year:
That’s 13.6k views in total, with 22% of readers actually finishing the whole post.
Plus, the Medium publication of this post averages a steady trickle of 10-30 readers every day.
Note: For the SEO-conscious among us, Medium uses canonical tags when you use their republishing tool. So no worries about duplicate content issues.
How to Republish on Medium
Medium has made the process of importing and republishing content super simple. Here’s how you do it:
Step #1. Choose a Post to Republish
Ideally, pick one of your top performers (since it’s already proved it’s popular).
You can use a tool like Ahrefs’ Top Content report in Site Explorer to see which of your posts have the most shares on social media.
Since they’ve proven themselves on social media, these posts are the most likely to resonate with audiences beyond your blog’s existing one.
Though they aren’t nearly as detailed, there are a few free tools to track social media shares if you aren’t an Ahrefs customer.
As an example, SharedCount.com lets you copy and paste URLs of individual posts; however, they only show counts for Facebook and Pinterest:
Step #2. Import Your Post Into Medium
Enter the URL of your post into the Medium import tool and hit “Import”.
Step #3. Publish Your Post on Medium
Follow Medium’s guidelines to format and polish your post, then click “Publish”.
That’s all there is to it!
#3. Smart Social Sharing
I know, I know.
It’s 2019, and promoting your blog posts on social media is by no means a new strategy.
BUT — there’s more to social media promotion than pasting a link and clicking a “Tweet” button.
Here’s an example of the success we’ve seen from smart sharing on the Ahrefs Twitter account:
Pretty impressive, right?
Here’s another example:
These tweets received amazing engagement, but we actually spent very little time creating them.
We achieved this ROI by working smarter, not harder.
How to Promote Your Blog Using Social Media (Smartly)
Here’s our process:
Step #1. Brainstorm Ideas and Organize Them
The great thing about social media content is it’s all fleeting. Even if an idea is a flop, it’s easy to turn the page and try the next idea.
But to make the most of these (admittedly fleeting) opportunities, you need two things:
To brainstorm ideas, get a pen and paper (or launch Google Docs, Microsoft Word, etc.) and jot down things you would like to try.
Get as creative as you want.
Think memes would be popular with your audience? Write it down. Believe infographics or inspirational quotes could be successful? Write them down. Believe posts or tweets on Topic X or Topic Y could receive high engagement?
(You get the idea.)
By listing all of your ideas, you’ll then be able to group them into categories. This will help you track which categories are successful and which are not.
Step #2. Craft and Publish (and Monitor) Your Content
Once your social media posts begin making their way into the wild, you’ll be able to track their progress.
Do some receive more comments, while others receive more shares and retweets? Are some more popular in the mornings, while others receive more engagement during the evenings?
All data, both good and bad, will help you in the next step.
Step #3. Review the Results
After an appropriate amount of time has gone by, hold a review.
Drop the categories that didn’t perform well. Keep the ones with potential and refine them.
You want to focus on the categories your audience likes and tweak them.
Do they like emojis, or do they gravitate towards a more “serious” tone? Do they like infographics, or long chunks of copy with statistics thrown in?
And so on.
From here, keep repeating steps 1-3 until you’ve locked down the type of content your audience loves.
And once you’ve figured out what they love, keep giving it to them.
Step #4. Advertising (Optional)
If you want to try advertising, the above process will save you some serious money.
Pick your top organic performers from Step #3 and put money into promoting them.
Since they’ve already proven themselves to be popular, this is a safe and effective way to buy ads to promote your blog (without wasting time and money on losers).
#4. Create Roundup Posts
The perks of this strategy pretty much sell themselves.
Here’s what happens when you publish a good roundup post:
So… what’s a roundup post, anyway?
Here’s an example:
Essentially, a roundup post features a compilation of answers to a single question, ideally by established experts in the field.
A great roundup post adds immense value to readers since they offer a range of expert opinions in one place.
Plus, they tend to bring in lots of traffic since the experts featured in them will often share the post with their own audiences.
What’s not to love?
How to Create Roundup Posts
Here are the basics of roundup posts so you can create your own:
Step #1. Craft Your Question
Don’t take this step lightly.
If you ask too much of the experts you’ll be polling, most won’t have time to participate (even if they want to). And if you ask a question they’ve heard (and answered) a million times, most won’t be interested.
Your question needs to be clear, succinct, and something that will appeal both to your readers and the experts you’ll be asking to participate.
Step #2. Create a List of Influencers
Once you’ve crafted your question, it’s time to create your influencer wish list. These are the influencers (“experts”) you’ll be asking to participate in your roundup post.
Since not everyone will respond to you, reach out to significantly more experts than you need.
For example, if you need 20 people for your roundup post, reach out to 40 experts (or more).
A roundup post is only as good as the people you feature. While it takes exponentially more time and effort to get a response from a more recognized name in your industry, it’s likely worth it.
With that said, don’t expect the Michael Jordans of your industry to respond to your outreach — try to find people with a reasonable level of influence who aren’t complete titans.
Step #3. Reach Out to the Experts
Quick tips for the message you send:
Step #4. Follow Up (But Only Once)
There’s a chance your first email will slip past the expert you’re trying to reach. After all, they’re very busy and likely receive dozens (or hundreds) of emails every single day.
This is why sending a follow-up email is helpful:
However, please don’t follow-up more than once — any more than that and you’re just being a nuisance.
Step #5. Compile Your Responses
At this point, you’ll have a bunch of answers ready to sift through. Now all you need to do is turn them into a cohesive post.
Try to find trends in the responses and sort them into sections.
Next, add your own introduction to each section, as well as your opinion on why certain trends occurred.
This is how you put your stamp on the roundup post and make it your own.
Step #6. Publish Your Post (And Tell the Experts)
Once your post is published, it’s time to let everyone know about it.
Email everyone who responded to your outreach emails (whether they ultimately contributed to your post or not) and thank them for their time. Include a link to your post, and be sure to send them well-wishes.
You can also ask them (politely) to share your post with their audience, but this is often implied.
Want to let influencers know your post has been published and promote the post at the same time? In addition to emailing them, tag the influencers on Twitter too.
#5. Advocate In-Person
While all blogs are digital in nature, your promotional efforts aren’t limited to the digital world alone.
It might be a step (or ten!) outside your comfort zone, but try this:
Approach a local event in your niche and pitch yourself as a speaker.
It doesn’t matter where you are in the world or how big the event is — it could even be a small meet-up session.
The idea is to reach out to new people and give the work you do a huge visibility boost.
How to Promote Your Blog by Speaking at Events
If you’re interested in this advanced promotional tactic, here’s how to get started:
Step #1. Shortlist a Few Events or Meet-Ups You’d Like to Attend
If you’re not sure where to start, look around on Reddit, Facebook groups, or Slack groups and join some communities in your industry.
Chances are good people are organizing and promoting events in these communities.
Make a list of potential targets, underline your favorites, and move on to the next step.
Step #2. Pitch Yourself to Event Organizers
When pitching yourself, propose some topics that you’d be comfortable speaking about and explain how your content will add value to their audience.
Hopefully it goes without saying, but you should know these topics very well.
Note: If you have no experience with public speaking, it’s a good idea to start small. Save the conference keynote speeches for later.
Step #3. Craft Your Presentation
Try to deliver as much value as you can and position your blog as a great resource. This is also a good time to promote your social media accounts, which are ideally already geared towards driving traffic to your blog.
Just be sure not to make it all about you. Your job is to teach, to impart your know-how to others.
And when you’re able to do this well, promoting your blog will happen organically.
Step #4. Speak
Show up to the event, deliver your speech, meet lots of new people, and enjoy converting some new readers!
To improve your chances of landing speaking engagements, make sure you:
There’s a lot more to it than we can unpack here, so be sure to check out Grant Baldwin’s post How to Get Speaking Engagements. In fact, browse his entire website, The Speaker Lab. It’s chock-full of helpful information.
#6. Integrate Your Blog with Your Product
Most businesses have blogs that are completely disconnected from their main product.
If you blog for a brand or business, why not align your messaging and integrate your blog posts directly into your UI (for software products) or in your product descriptions and previews (for e-commerce)?
This lets you direct traffic over to your blog and gives your customers a more seamless experience.
How to Fuse Your Blog and Product
For software products, one way to notify people of your newest blog posts is to include a (preferably unobtrusive) in-app notification.
Here’s what it looks like when using Ahrefs:
Click the bell icon and we display a simple drop-down menu listing all our newest content.
So simple, but so effective.
If you have an e-commerce website and your blog posts are educational in nature, you can promote them directly on your homepage.
Beardbrand does this beautifully:
Another way to do this is by scattering in individual links and excerpts of your blog posts wherever they’re relevant. This is how Mr Porter does it:
Time to get creative!
Here’s one more tip that’s missed by a surprising number of business websites…
Include a prominent link to your blog in your website’s navigation menu.
Ahrefs, MeetEdgar, Elegant Themes (affiliate link), and many other smart businesses feature their blogs in their navigation, which helps drive traffic to them.
Here’s how Quuu (affiliate link) does it:
In other words:If people have to hunt to find your blog ON YOUR OWN WEBSITE, you're doing it wrong.Click To Tweet
#7. Collaborate with Other Blogs
Creating content in collaboration with another blog means you’re able to tap into each other’s audiences and can promote yourself to a whole new set of blog readers.
You can even split the work!
How to Join Forces With Another Blog
Collaborating with blogs significantly larger than yours probably isn’t in the cards. However, collaborating with a site similar in size is definitely doable.
Here’s how to get started:
Step #1. Find Opportunities in Your Niche
Look for opportunities to work with blogs within the same niche as yours.
Start by approaching bloggers you have an existing relationship with and ask if they’d like to collaborate. You should leave cold pitching as a last resort.
If you have no idea which blogs to approach, Ahrefs offers a nifty trick:
In Content Explorer, enter a relevant keyword phrase in your niche.
Set the “published” filter to “Last 12 months” and the “Language” filter to “English”. Next, highlight the “one link per domain” option.
Finally, you’ll want to set one more filter: DR (“domain rating”).
The higher this number, the more authoritative the website; however, the more authoritative the website the harder it will be for you to get the blogger’s attention.
In the screenshot below, we set the DR to 40:
This will pull a list of active blogs in your niche.
From here, just sift through the possibilities and pick the ones you’d like to approach.
Step #2. Make Your Pitch
The process is pretty similar to advocating in-person: you need to make your best pitch.
Focus on explaining why you want to work with that particular blogger, as well as how collaboration will benefit them.
Feel free to suggest a couple of topics you feel would work well.
Step #3. Create
Finalize your content with the blogger you’re working with and remember to stay prompt and gracious throughout.
This is not the time to get pushy or rude and make an enemy out of a would-be ally.
Step #4. Publish and Promote
Promote the post to your newsletter and social media accounts. Make sure to tag and give credit to the other blogger too.
#8. Repurpose Content Into Other Formats to Reach New Audiences
You’ve spent all this time and effort to create amazing content in the form of blog posts.
Why not get more out of the same piece of content?
Since your customers hang out in multiple places online and have their own preferences when it comes to content formats, you should try to reach audiences beyond blog readers.
And you do that by repurposing your content.
How to Repurpose Your Content
Or, do it in reverse.
We published a YouTube tutorial on WordPress SEO. It has over 20,000 views and 70 comments — not too shabby.
We decided to turn it into a blog post. Here’s how it performed:
By re-creating our video in written form, we were able to reach an entirely new audience on an entirely different platform.
And the best part?
We didn’t have to come up with fresh content for the post. We took what we already had and created something new with it.
#9. Monitor Online Conversations for Opportunities to Promote Yourself
People talk about all sorts of things on the Internet, including your niche.
If you monitor these conversations, you’ll get lots of chances to slide into the discussion, add value, and (subtly) promote your blog.
Here’s a pretty meta example of this tactic in action.
I once mentioned Talkwalker alerts in a blog post I wrote, and an employee commented on the post to provide the link:
How to Monitor Conversations for Promotion Opportunities
Tracking online conversations is surprisingly easy. Here’s how you do it:
Step #1. Set up Your Alert
For Ahrefs, go to Alerts, Mentions, +New Alert, and enter your keyword you’d like to track.
What these tools do is send you an email every time a keyword is mentioned on the web.
From there, you can simply follow the link in the email to find out where you’ve been mentioned.
Step #2. Carefully Monitor Your Mentions
Whether your mention comes in a blog article or a forum discussion, look for suitable areas where you can add value.
For example, if you’re a food blogger and you receive an alert for a discussion of a restaurant, it’s your time to shine by talking about your own experience.
However, a word of warning:
It’s extremely important not to shoehorn yourself into conversations.
If you’re clearly only there to advertise your own blog, people will catch on pretty quickly.
So, be sure to link to your own blog strategically, and only after you’d added value to the discussion.
You can also track mentions using Twitter’s advanced search.
For example, let’s say I wanted to find every English-speaking tweet in 2018 that mentioned Jon Morrow by name:
Twitter’s advanced search results would return a veritable smorgasbord of tweets:
Use this feature to find keywords and mentions that matter to you, roll up your sleeves, and then get to work. The applications are nearly limitless.
Over to You
If you sometimes find yourself lying in bed at night wondering, “how do I increase my blog traffic?”, I feel your pain.
I did my best to stay away from the more common methods of blog promotion, so hopefully you found something new to try.
Of course, not all of the tactics we discussed will be suitable for, or will work for, your blog and your particular niche.
You’ll need to experiment and find what works for you.
When it comes down to it, marketing is always about experimenting — experimenting, failing, and going at it again and again until you succeed.
Now, go forth and get that traffic!
The post How to Promote Your Blog in 2019: 9 Creative Strategies appeared first on Smart Blogger.
Looking for a tutorial showing you how to install WordPress, but keep finding resources that tackle every method except the one you need?
Weâve got your back.
In this post, we break down every conceivable way there is to install WordPress.
Youâll learn how to install WordPress using cPanel, Softaculous, MOJO, Fantastico, and QuickInstall; locally on both Windows and Mac; manually using FTP; and weâll break down popular hosting providers like GoDaddy, Bluehost, and HostGator.
Youâll also learn how to install WordPress Multisite, how to install WordPress in different languages, and more.
Just click the appropriate link in our Table of Contents to jump to the section you need.
Table of Contents
How to Install WordPress on cPanel (Softaculous, MOJO, Fantastico, and QuickInstall)
So, you decided to start a blog.
Awesome. Now itâs time to roll up your sleeves and get to work installing WordPress.
Thankfully, many of the popular WordPress hosts offer some form of simplified (or even automatic) installation.
If youâre using a âsharedâ WordPress hosting plan, thereâs a good chance your host will use cPanel.
Editorâs Note: cPanel is an online control panel many web hosts use to simplify the whole âhow to host a websiteâ thing for users. Go here to learn more about it.
Letâs walk through the cPanel processâ¦
Step #1. Find Out How to Access Your Hostâs cPanel
Unfortunately, the way you get to cPanel is not standardized across the web. Different hosts access it differently.
So, before you can do anything, you need to find out how to access your hostâs cPanel.
The easiest method is to find the emails your hosting provider sent you when you signed up for your account. Among other valuable bits of information, the URL to your cPanel will be in one of those initial emails.
But if you canât find the right email, donât worry.
Just Google the name of your web host and âcPanel loginâ.
That should do the trick.
Step #2. Get to Know cPanel
The main cPanel dashboard can be a little intimidating.
You donât have to understand all cPanel has to offer. Weâre here to do one thing â learn how to install WordPress.
For that, letâs look for the cPanel installer tools, which are usually located near the bottom of the page.
Your host might be using any of the following installers: Softaculous, Fantastico, QuickInstall, or MOJO Marketplace.
Weâre going to focus on Softaculous since itâs the most popular.
But donât worry if your host uses a different installer.
While the specific interfaces might be a bit different, the idea behind every installer is the same.
Plus, they all ask you for the same set of data and inputs.
Step #3. How to Install WordPress Using Softaculous
To begin, look for the Softaculous section in cPanel.
Click on the WordPress logo. The installer tool will open:
Click on the Install Now button to begin the installation process.
Softaculous needs only a handful of details from you. Here are the fields you should pay special attention to:
Hereâs what the form looks like:
Click Install to proceed.
When the process finishes, Softaculous will show you a final confirmation screen along with links to your WordPress dashboard.
And thatâs it!
Youâve installed WordPress using cPanel.
Note: The WordPress dashboard of your newly-installed site should be available at yoursite.com/wp-admin/.
How to Install WordPress on Localhost (Or, How to Install WordPress Locally)
The instructions for how to install WordPress locally depends on whether youâre using a PC (Windows) or a Mac.
Weâll go over both methods.
First up: Windows.
(If youâre on a Mac, click here to jump ahead.)
How to Install WordPress on Windows
WordPress is a great tool for local web development.
Hereâs how you install WordPress locally on Windows:
Step #1. Get XAMPP
XAMPP is a local web server for your computer. Itâs an all-in-one package with everything you will need to run software (such as WordPress) locally.
What About WAMP?
You might have heard of a similar tool called WAMP.
Under the hood, WAMP and XAMPP do the same thing. However, in my opinion, WAMP isnât as reliable as XAMPP.
For this reason and others, weâll focus on XAMPP in this tutorial.
From the XAMPP website, click on the download button for Windows and save the XAMPP package to your desktop.
Launch the XAMPP installer and follow the prompts on the screen.
First, select the individual components you want to have installed. To be safe, you can choose all of them:
Next, select the installation folder for XAMPP.
Note: Avoid installing XAMPP in Program Files. The read/write restrictions of Windows might prevent it from working correctly. Installing in C:\xampp is a safer bet.
XAMPP will take a minute or two to install.
When itâs finished, youâll see this confirmation screen:
When you click on Finish, youâll see the main XAMPP config panel.
In it, click on the two Start buttons next to Apache and MySQL.
You should see the two labels change to green:
When you see green, your local server is working!
Step #2. Create a Blank Database for WordPress
From the control panel of XAMPP, click on the Admin button in the MySQL row:
This will launch a tool called PHPMyAdmin, which is an open-source database management tool.
Go into Databases (from the top menu).
Enter a name for your new WordPress database (something simple) and click the Create button:
You should see your new blank database in the sidebar:
You can now exit PHPMyAdmin.
Step #3. Download WordPress
Go toWordPress.org and download the most recent version of the software.
Donât worry. Itâs free:
Note: The name of this folder will also become part of the local address of the site. With mynewsite being the folder name, the address of the site is going to be localhost/mynewsite.
Take the contents of the WordPress archive and move them to this new subfolder (âmynewsiteâ or whatever you named yours).
It should look like this:
Step #4. Install WordPress Locally on Windows
Open your web browser and navigate to localhost/mynewsite.
What youâll see is the on-screen WordPress Installation Wizard.
The first step is choosing your language:
The next screen is an info card to get you up to speed with whatâs going to happen. Click on Letâs go! once youâve read it.
The next step is a crucial one in the installation.
This is where you get to enter the details of your WordPress connection to the database.
Here are my settings based on everything Iâve set in the previous steps so far:
The next step is where you get to set the name of your site and the details of your main admin account:
Note: With the exception of username, youâll be able to easily change these later in your WordPress dashboard.
Click on Install WordPress to finalize everything.
And thatâs it. Youâve installed WordPress locally on Windows.
How to Install WordPress on Mac
While installing WordPress locally on Mac isnât the usual âget app from App Storeâ experience weâre used to, it can still be done with relative ease.
Hereâs how to install WordPress on Mac:
Step #1. Get MAMP
MAMP is a local web server that works quite well on Mac.
(Itâs also easier to install than some of its alternatives.).
From the MAMP website, go to the downloads section and choose the option for macOS:
Save the package to your computer.
Launch the MAMP installer and proceed through the on-screen wizard.
When the installation finishes, open MAMP from Macâs Launchpad.
In the config panel, click on the main Start Servers button.
Congrats! Your local server is working.
Step #2. Create a Blank Database for WordPress
As soon as you start your server in MAMP, you will be taken to the serverâs homepage.
Usually, itâs âhttp://localhost:8888/MAMP/â (without the quotes).
From there, click on PHPMYADMIN under TOOLS:
As mentioned earlier in the post, PHPMyAdmin is a handy, open-source database management tool.
We use it to create a new database for WordPress.
Go into Databases (from the top menu):
Enter a name for your new WordPress database (something simple) and click on Create.
You should see your new blank database in the sidebar.
You can now exit PHPMyAdmin.
Step #3. Download WordPress
Go to WordPress.org and download the most recent version of the software.
Note: The name of this folder will also be part of the local address of the site. With mynewsite being the folder name, the address of the site is going to be localhost:8888/mynewsite.
Take the contents of the WordPress archive and move them to the new folder you created. It should look like this:
Step #4. Install WordPress Locally on Mac
Open your web browser and go to localhost:8888/mynewsite.
What youâll see is the on-screen WordPress installation wizard. The first step is choosing your language:
The next screen is an info card to get you up to speed with whatâs going to happen. Click Letâs go! once youâve read it.
In the next step, you will enter the details of your WordPress connection to the database.
Here are my settings based on everything Iâve set in the previous steps:
The next step is where you get to set the name of your site and the details of your main admin account:
Note: With the exception of username, youâll be able to easily change these later in your WordPress dashboard.
Click on Install WordPress to finalize everything.
And thatâs it. Youâve installed WordPress locally on a Mac
How to Install WordPress via FTP (Or, How to Install WordPress Manually)
Installing WordPress via FTP takes only minutes, but you do need to have a couple of things ready beforehand.
Chiefly, you need to have access to a web server â aka, a web hosting account.
Start by going to your host of choice and purchasing one of the available web hosting plans. If you already have a web host, youâre ahead of the game!
Step #1. Download WordPress
Go to WordPress.org and download the latest version of WordPress.
Save the package to your computer and extract its contents.
Step #2. Upload WordPress Files to Your Server
The next step involves connecting to your web server via FTP and uploading your just-downloaded WordPress files.
Youâre going to need to use a third-party FTP tool to do that.
FileZilla is a popular one. Weâll use it for the purposes of this demo.
Now, in order to connect to your server, youâll need your connection details.
This information should have been provided via email when you first signed up for your hosting account. But if you canât find it, no worries. You can find your FTP information inside your hostâs cPanel.
Go to the FTP Accounts section (under FILES):
Youâll find your FTP accounts there. Or, alternatively, you can create your FTP account if one doesnât already exist.
Next to your FTP account, thereâs a link labeled Configure FTP Client.
Click on it:
This will reveal a new section.
In it, click on the FTP Configuration File button under FileZilla:
You can open that file with FileZilla and set up your connection details immediately.
With that done, the only thing left to do is upload your WordPress files to the server.
Depending on your hosting setup, you might need to upload WordPress to a specific directory.
However, for most users the directory will be called public_html or public_www.
If in doubt, verify with your web host.
Step #3. Create a New Database for WordPress in cPanel
WordPress, just like any other modern CMS, cannot work without a database.
The database is where all your posts, pages, comments, and other site content are kept.
To create a new database, go back to cPanel, scroll down to the DATABASES section, and click on MySQL Database Wizard:
From there, youâll be guided through the steps to create a new database.
First, pick a name for your database:
Next, create a new user account that WordPress will use to access the database.
Note: Be sure to jot down the username and the password. Youâll need them in the next step.
Lastly, assign sufficient access rights to the new user account.
Itâs best to do that by simply selecting ALL PRIVILEGES, like so:
Your database setup is now complete!
Step #4. Install WordPress Through the Online Installer
This is the last step on your journey to getting WordPress installed via FTP.
Simply fire up your browser and navigate to your siteâs URL.
Youâll see the main page of the WordPress installer.
First, choose the language of your site:
The next step is a crucial one, and itâs where youâll need to provide your database details.
(Hopefully you jotted those details down earlier!)
Hereâs a breakdown for each:
The next step is where you get to set the name of your site and the details of your main admin account:
Note: With the exception of username, youâll be able to easily change these later in your WordPress dashboard.
Click on Install WordPress to finalize everything.
And thatâs it! Youâve successfully installed WordPress manually using FTP.
How to Install WordPress Multisite
WordPress Multisite is an interesting feature built into WordPress.
Simply speaking, with WordPress Multisite, you can launch multiple WordPress websites, all working on the same WordPress install.
This is great for businesses and organizations that need multiple websites, but want to keep the cost of managing them low.
WordPress Multisite is also a great choice for universities where itâs very common for individual courses or teachers to have their own sites.
Hereâs how to set up and install WordPress Multisite:
Step #1. Install WordPress Locally, via cPanel, or via FTP
To begin your journey with WordPress Multisite, you first need to install WordPress using any of the methods described earlier in this guide.
Finally, go here to install WordPress using FTP.
Once youâve installed WordPress, youâre ready for the next step.
Step #2. Enable WordPress Multisite
Connect to your server via FTP (explained previously in this guide), and download the wp-config.php file from your main WordPress directory.
Open the file in Notepad (or similar software) and add the following line at the bottom:
define (âWP_ALLOW_MULTISITEâ, true);
Save the file and re-upload it to your main WordPress directory via FTP. Youâll want to overwrite the original file.
Step #3. Set up Your WordPress Multisite Network
At this stage, WordPress is ready to let you configure your network of sites. Hereâs how:
First, go to your plugins and deactivate all of them.
Next, go to Tools > Network Setup. This is where you create your network of WordPress sites.
Click on the Install button to begin.
On the next screen, WordPress will give you specific instructions for finalizing the setup.
This will involve editing two files in your WordPress directory (similarly to how we did it a minute ago with wp-config.php).
Step #4. Create your WordPress Multisite Sites
Once you log back into WordPress, youâll see an updated version of the admin interface with one new section in the top left corner:
This menu is where you can switch between your WordPress sites (and where you can add new sites to the network).
Each website is independent, can feature different content, different user accounts, different themes, different plugins, and so on.
Congrats! Youâve successfully set up WordPress Multisite.
(Feel free to re-activate all your plugins!)
How to Install WordPress in Your Language
Did you know WordPress has been translated into 113 (and counting) languages?
Itâs true. You can install WordPress in everything from Afrikaans (South Africa) to é¦æ¸¯ä¸æç (Simplified Chinese).
You can install WordPress in your language, no matter what that language might be.
Hereâs how to do it:
#1. Download WordPress in Your Language
Go to WordPress.org.
Since WordPress is quite predictive and helpful with international users, based on your location, youâll see a note encouraging you to download WordPress in your language.
Hereâs an example:
What the above box says is:
âWordPress is also available in Polish.â
When you click on the language â in this example, âPolskiâ â youâll get redirected to a new, localized WordPress website.
Once there, download the WordPress package and save the ZIP file to your desktop and extract its contents.
#2. Install WordPress via FTP
Next, follow the same instructions we discussed earlier in this guide.
Click here to jump to Upload WordPress Files to Your Server.
Bonus Tip: Installing Language Files from the Admin Dashboard
If youâve already installed WordPress in one language, but youâd like to use a different language, donât fret.
WordPress makes switching your language a breeze.
In your Dashboard, go to Settings > General > Site Language.
Then simply choose the language youâd like to use.
And thatâs it! Youâre done.
How to Install WordPress on 12 Popular Web Hosts
The following section covers how to install WordPress on 12 popular hosting providers. Click on a link below to jump to your host:
How to Install WordPress on SiteGround
SiteGround (affiliate link) offers a cool wizard tool to get your WordPress installed in minutes. Thereâs no need to deal with any coding, settings, or uploading things a server.
Hereâs a video showing you the process:
But, if you prefer written instructions, here are the steps:
When you log into your SiteGround user panel for the first time, youâll be greeted by a message asking if youâd like to have a new website set up for you:
Click on the option labeled âStart a new websiteâ and select WordPress as your platform.
SiteGround will also create a new admin account for you. All you need to do is provide the login details:
Thatâs all there is to it.
How to Install WordPress on Bluehost
When you sign up for a Bluehost WordPress Hosting plan, the latest version of WordPress is installed automatically for you. All you have to do is configure it.
Here are the steps:
If youâd like to set up additional WordPress sites, itâs easy to do so via the Bluehost dashboard.
Go to My Sites, and then click on Create a Site.
Enter your site details and proceed through the individual screens.
First, youâll need to pick a name for your WordPress installation:
You will then enter the domain name and directory, plus any optional plugins you might want:
Finally, set your admin user login and password.
How to Install WordPress on GoDaddy
GoDaddy uses cPanel for installing WordPress on their hosting plans.
Hereâs their official video walking you through the entire (simple) process:
And if you need to add another WordPress site, thatâs easy too.
Log into your GoDaddy user panel, go to Managed WordPress > Manage All. Click Add Site.
From this point on, GoDaddy will take you by the hand and do most of the work for you. All youâll need to do is enter a name for your site and your desired login credentials for the admin user.
When the installation finishes, GoDaddy will show you a WordPress Setup Wizard to help you customize your site:
You can click No thanks or Continue.
How to Install WordPress on WP Engine
WP Engine (affiliate link) is one of the original âmanagedâ WordPress hosting platforms. They handle all the technical heavy lifting for you, so you can focus on whatâs important for your websiteâs success.
What this means in practice is WP Engine will install WordPress for you when you create an account. You donât have to lift a finger.
You access the site from your user panel:
If you want to add additional sites to your WP Engine setup, itâs pretty easy. Hereâs a video tutorial showing you how:
If you prefer written instructions, hereâs WP Engineâs official guide for adding or deleting WordPress installs.
How to Install WordPress on Flywheel
Like WP Engine, Flywheel is a managed WordPress hosting platform. They take care of the technical aspects â including installing WordPress â for you. All you have to do is provide a few pieces of info.
Hereâs a video walking you through the process:
If you would like to create additional sites, from your user profile click the Create a New Site button:
Next, provide all the necessary details such as site name, admin user login, password, and your preferred payment method.
Once youâve completed the form, your site will become visible in your user profile.
Thatâs all there is to it.
Hereâs Flywheelâs official guide for adding new sites if you need more information.
How to Install WordPress on Kinsta
Kinsta is a newcomer to the managed WordPress hosting market. Like WP Engine and Flywheel, Kinsta installs WordPress for you when you create your account.
If youâd like to add additional WordPress sites to your Kinsta plan, follow the steps in this video:
If you prefer written instructions, hereâs Kinstaâs official guide for adding WordPress sites.
How to Install WordPress on HostGator
Like many shared WordPress hosts, HostGator gives you access to cPanel. With it, you can easily install WordPress using the steps in the video below:
Canât play the video? No worries.
HostGator also offers an extensive how-to article for installing WordPress on their platform.
How to Install WordPress on DreamHost
For each of their WordPress hosting plans, DreamHost provides WordPress pre-installed. All the work is done for you.
If youâd like to add additional WordPress sites, hereâs a video showing you how itâs done:
Prefer written instructions?
Here is Dreamhostâs how-to article for using their handy 1-Click WordPress Install.
How to Install WordPress on A2Hosting
A2Hosting offers both shared and managed WordPress hosting.
For shared hosting, they offer 1-Click WordPress installation using Softaculous. Hereâs a video to walk you through the steps:
If you opt for one of their managed hosting plans, WordPress will come pre-installed with your A2Hosting account.
If youâd like to add more WordPress installs to your account, hereâs the official A2Hosting video to show you how:
How to Install WordPress on InMotion Hosting
Like its managed-hosting competitors, InMotion Hosting provides pre-installed WordPress on your hosting account from the get-go. This means that you donât need to install WordPress on your own.
If youâd like to install WordPress on an add-on domain, InMotion offers this handy tutorial video:
How to Install WordPress on iPage
Just like other âmanagedâ WordPress hosting companies, iPage provides WordPress pre-installed with your account. (You also get a set of pre-installed WordPress themes and plugins.)
Hereâs a helpful video showing you how to configure your iPage WordPress site:
If you need to install some additional WordPress sites on iPage, click here to read their guide.
How to Install WordPress on Hostinger
Hostinger offers a quick-and-easy auto installer for WordPress.
Hereâs their official video showing you how itâs done:
If you prefer written directions, hereâs Hostingerâs tutorial for installing WordPress (using various methods).
Frequently Asked Questions
Before we wrap things up, letâs go over a few common, related questions we often hear:
Do I Need to Install WordPress?
Answer: It depends.
If you use a âmanagedâ web host like WP Engine, installing WordPress is taken care of for you. You donât have to do anything (beyond filling in a few pieces of information).
However, if youâre using a âsharedâ hosting plan, youâll need to install WordPress.
The good news is that most web hosts have made the process easy. A few clicks and youâre finished.
Editorâs Note: This is all assuming, of course, you want a WordPress site. WordPress is awesome, but itâs not the only game in town â there are many blogging platforms out there.
Does WordPress Cost Money?
No, the WordPress software is 100% free. Anyone can go to WordPress.org and download it for free at any time.
The typical costs for running a WordPress website come from other factors, such as purchasing a domain name and choosing a hosting provider.
Does WordPress Include Hosting? (Or, Does WordPress Host Your Site?)
If youâre using WordPress.com, the answer is yes.
WordPress.com is a free, hosted version of the WordPress software offered by the company. (You can upgrade to various paid plans if you need more features.)
However, if youâre using the self-hosted version of the software available for free at WordPress.org, the answer is no. Youâll need a hosting provider.
Which Hosting is Best for WordPress?
WordPress.org officially recommends Bluehost, DreamHost, and SiteGround.
Since SiteGround is on both lists, itâs safe to say itâs a solid option.
How to Install WordPress Themes?
Your WordPress installation will come with several free themes (designs), but there are thousands of additional themes â both free and premium â you can add.
Hereâs a quick guide for how to install WordPress themes from inside your WordPress dashboard.
How to Install WordPress Plugins?
Though you have to be careful not to go overboard with them, WordPress plugins are one of the softwareâs best features â they allow you to add all sorts of functionality to your WordPress site thatâs not available out of the box.
SiteGround has published a helpful tutorial for how to install WordPress plugins if you would like step-by-step instructions.
How to Install Facebook Pixel on WordPress?
If youâre interested in running Facebook Ads (either now or in the future), you need to install a Facebook Pixel on your WordPress site.
Whatâs a Facebook Pixel? Itâs a piece of tracking code you add to your website that collects data whenever someone visits your site or takes a specific action.
Hereâs a video explaining it in more detail (including how to install it):
If you prefer written instructions, here is Facebookâs help article on Facebook Pixel, which includes steps for creating and installing them.
Itâs Time to Install WordPress
Installing WordPress can be overwhelming â especially if youâve never done it before.
Hopefully, this in-depth guide has been able to point you in the right direction. Use it, bookmark it, and feel free to share it with a friend.
And if thereâs an installation method we missed, tweet us or let us know about it in the comments. Weâll happily add it.
The post How to Install WordPress in 5 Minutes or Less (2019) appeared first on Smart Blogger.
You want to make money as a writer, right?
You’ve told everyone on Facebook (including your weird aunt) that you’re available to write. You’ve been writing guest post after guest post to showcase your talent and get your name out there. Maybe you’ve even landed a few jobs already. (Good for you!)
But then a potential client emails you with the question, “Do you offer ghostwriting services?”
And you’re stumped.
Maybe you’ve heard of ghostwriting. Maybe you have some idea what a ghostwriter is. Or maybe you wonder if it involves ouija boards in some way.
You don’t want to look like an idiot by emailing back to say, “Err… what do you mean?”
That sounds like a good way to send your potential client running for the hills.
But don’t worry — I’m about to tell you everything you need to know about ghostwriting, starting with…
What IS Ghostwriting?
You might already have some hazy ideas about ghostwriting. When I first heard of ghostwriting, I thought it was just used for celebrity memoirs.
It turns out memoirs are just the tip of the iceberg. Ghostwriting is everywhere — from independent authors using Kindle Direct Publishing to popular bloggers using WordPress.
So what is it?
When you ghostwrite, you let someone else put their name on your work. That is, you don’t get any credit — at all.
Typically, the person who commissions the work will own the copyright, which also means they can modify or republish the work in any way they see fit.
So why would someone hire a ghostwriter? Are they too lazy to write their own stuff?
Not necessarily. People hire ghostwriters for many different reasons, but the most common ones are:
It’s nothing new, either: ghostwriting has been around, in one form or another, for centuries.
To give you a better idea what being a ghostwriter may involve, my own ghostwriting has included:
As you can see, ghostwriting has a spectrum from something akin to an editing relationship to writing a piece from scratch.
And it’s growing in popularity.
The demand for ghostwriters is so high it’s now taught in schools — California State University, Long Beach offers a Ghostwriting Professional Designation Program led by Claudia Suzanne.
Of course, I’ve only ghostwritten for blogs.
Authors like Roz Morris have written whole books as ghostwriters, which is a far more involved process that includes extensive interviews with the client.
But Why Would You Let Someone Else Take Credit for YOUR Writing?
Assuming you want to build up your own brand as a writer, why would you want to be a ghostwriter?
After all, you won’t get any of the credit. Your name won’t appear anywhere on the piece, and you probably can’t tell anyone you wrote it.
So why do so many writers ghostwrite, and why do so many love it?
Well, because there are major benefits:
Benefit #1: Being a Ghostwriter Pays Exceptionally Well
One huge reason to be a ghostwriter is money. Ghostwriting tends to pay better than regular freelancing.
After all, having your name attached to your words is valuable for you as a writer. When you have a byline, you can use that piece of work to showcase your talent, build your reputation, and potentially attract new clients.
So it’s appropriate (and standard practice) to increase your fee to compensate for the loss of these advantages.
There’s no exact rule of thumb for how much extra you should charge for ghostwriting over regular freelancing. Personally, I tend to increase my fee by about 15%–20%.
On top of that, once you’ve established a ghostwriting relationship with someone, it often results in ongoing work for you. Most people want their writing to be consistent, so it makes sense to stick with the same writer.
In other words, you have consistent work at a higher rate than usual. That’s quite a plus, isn’t it?
Benefit #2: Ghostwriting Lets You Develop Closer Relationships with Big Names in Your Field
As a ghostwriter, you’ll normally work quite closely with your client. You may be privy to their rough notes or mind maps, or you might interview them on the phone or in person.
Chances are, you’re also focusing your ghostwriting on a particular area of expertise (especially if you’re writing for a blog).
This means you’ve got a brilliant opportunity to get to know and be affiliated with someone well-established in your field.
You’ll find that you get valuable insights into the “behind the scenes” of a top blog, or you get a clearer idea of how a big-name author works and thinks.
This may be eye-opening! It could give you some ideas for how best to move forward with your own business when you start your own blog.
And as you build up closer relationships, or even friendships, with your client, they might share your other work on social media, bringing you a lot of extra traffic. (Several of the people I ghostwrite for have supported me in that way.)
If you ever need a favor or need some advice, there’s a good chance they’ll be very happy to help.
So much of blogging success depends on getting a helping hand from other bloggers — particularly those with a large audience and a great reputation in their field.
Ghostwriting brings you into close contact with exactly those people.
The Counterpoint: Why You Might NOT Want to Be a Ghostwriter
There are a couple of big concerns that writers have about ghostwriting:
“But surely that’s not ethical?”
“But why should they benefit from my hard work?”
“But what about building my platform?”
These are real, valid concerns. And for you, they may be deal-breakers.
So let’s dig into them.
Objection #1: “When You’re a Ghostwriter, You’re Helping Someone Fool Their Readers — That’s Unethical”
When you’re a ghostwriter for someone, they pass your words off as their own.
Which begs the question…
The authors who hire ghostwriters certainly think it is! But not all writers or readers agree. Many feel that some types of ghostwriting are more ethical than others.
For instance, think about these two scenarios, which are on opposite ends of the ghostwriting spectrum:
Personally, as a reader, I’d feel comfortable with situation #1. The thoughts in the e-book belong to the blogger, but the ghostwriter has helped shape them.
Situation #2, however, seems a lot thornier. As a reader, I’d feel cheated by that.
I’m buying the e-book because I want the blogger’s expertise — not that of a ghostwriter I don’t know.
If you’re thinking of ghostwriting, you have to make up your own mind about what is — and isn’t — ethical. Where would you personally draw the line as a ghostwriter, if at all?
For more thoughts on the rights and wrongs of ghostwriting, check out Patty Podnar’s post Is Ghostwriting Ethical?
Also, Amanda Montell’s Your Favorite Influencers Aren’t Writing Their Own Content—These Women Are is quite eye-opening about some of the less ethical practices in the ghostwriting world.
Objection #2: “It’s Too Painful Watching Someone Else Get Praised for YOUR Work”
It may sound silly, but not getting recognition for your writing can be quite painful — unbearable to some.
I have to admit that, as a writer, it can sometimes sting a little to see a blogger receive lots of lovely praise for a post that I wrote every word of. And I’m not alone; many writers find themselves missing the attention and craving the recognition.
It’s no fun watching someone bask in glory that should be yours.
But think of it this way: All that praise is a sign you did a great job. You can be proud of that, and you can feel confident you’ll get hired again!
Also, as ghostwriter Roz Morris points out in an interview with whitefox, it’s not just ghostwriters who go unnoticed by readers:
There are many unsung heroes in the creative industries, and ghostwriters are only one of them. Editors can also make a huge difference to a book and are rarely credited.
So, if you can’t stand watching someone else take the praise, that’s okay. Many writers feel that way. But maybe we should also keep things in perspective.
Objection #3: “Ghostwriting Keeps You from Building Your Platform”
Even if you’re okay with someone else getting the praise, you may still oppose the idea of letting them take credit.
Some writers feel that, to become a successful freelance writer, you need to take credit for every powerful word you write and create an impressive body of work with your name on it. They believe that ghostwriting is essentially a waste of time.
After all, when you’ve got a bio (or at least your name) on every blog post you write, each of those posts helps raise your profile. You’ll be bringing in new readers and potentially new clients through your work — without any additional marketing.
This is essentially the argument that Demian Farnworth puts forward in The Brutally Honest Truth About Ghostwriting:
The first thing every writer should ask is this: What do you want to accomplish as a writer? Is building a personal and visible platform important to you? Will it help you in the long run? If you have to ghostwrite to make ends meet, fine. But beat a hasty path out of the business as soon as possible. It’s your turn to run the show.
I certainly think it’s worth putting some serious thought into how best to make ghostwriting work for you. It might be that you want to solely focus on your own platform (heck, you might even hire ghostwriters of your own, some day down the line!).
But there’s no shame in taking ghostwriting jobs to generate a steady income while you build your platform. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. You can do both at the same time.
Ghostwriting takes some focus away, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.
By the way: We’ve created a handy visual summarizing this post that you can share and embed on your own site. Check out the image below (click to see a larger view):
Embed This Infographic On Your Site
How to Become a Ghostwriter
If you’ve been nodding your head while reading this post, you’re probably wondering…
“Okay, but how do I become a ghostwriter?”
The same way you become a freelance writer.
Here are the keys:
#1. Build Your Content Creation Skills
If you want to be a ghostwriter, you have to learn how to create quality content. What’s this mean? It means:
Nothing will impact your ability to earn real, tangible income as a ghostwriter more than your ability to create amazing content.
So, if you don’t know how, learn.
Further Reading: Check out our resource How to Write a Blog Post – The Ultimate Guide. Once you’ve mastered the basics, read How to Create Content People Will Still Remember in 5 Years’ Time.
#2. Learn the Ins and Outs of SEO
If you can create content that will rank on Google, clients will pay you.
Heck, they’ll throw money at you.
So how can you help your content rank on Google? By learning all you can about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and applying what you learn to the content you create.
Further Reading: Don’t know SEO? Brian Dean has a great guide that will help you learn the basics of SEO fast.
#3. Build an Awesome Portfolio of Sample Content
Ideally, you’ll have three levels of portfolios:
But when you’re just starting out, you need to focus on the first level:
A portfolio that proves you know how to create a decent piece of content.
If you don’t already have your own blog or website, create an account on a free blogging platform like Medium.
Two or three sample posts are enough, and you can get started right away.
#4. Find Your First Paying Client
In the early days, finding those first few clients will be difficult.
Even with solid content creation skills, SEO know-how, and a great portfolio proving you know how to write, finding paying clients without word of mouth and referrals won’t be easy.
Here’s what you’ll need to do:
It’ll be a slow process at first, but once you get those first few clients you’ll be set. Do a great job, make your clients happy, and referrals will happen.
Further Reading: Bookmark this giant list of content marketing agencies. It’ll come in handy.
Ghostwriting 101: A Quick Recap
We’ve covered a lot, so let’s review:
Will You Give Ghostwriting a Try?
Ultimately, ghostwriting can be a little divisive.
Some writers feel — passionately — that readers deserve to know exactly who wrote the words they’re reading. Others feel building your platform is too important to let someone else take credit.
But ghostwriting is a good way to make money as a writer.
And it doesn’t mean your platform is off the table. You can be a ghostwriter and have a writing career under your own name. Many writers, including me, simply use ghostwriting as a way to supplement or support their writing passions.
Personally, I think it’s worth it.
Only you can decide whether it’s right for you.
About the Author: Ali Luke blogs about the art, craft, and business of writing at Aliventures. If you’re interested in going further with ghostwriting or any type of freelance writing, check out her epic post: Freelance Writing: Ten Steps, Tons of Resources.
The post Ghostwriting 101: How to Get Paid Big Bucks As a Ghostwriter appeared first on Smart Blogger.
It’s okay to admit it.
That deep, dark secret you don’t want anyone to know.
That thought which keeps you up night after night.
You want… to rule the world!
You want to dominate your industry and be the envy of all. You want the house in the Hamptons and the spoils that go with it. You want two appetizers with your entree.
But you’re afraid.
You’re afraid of what others will say when they hear about your dream. You’re afraid it will seem too big — too crazy. Just like you’re afraid of what the waitress will think if you order onion rings and chicken tenders.
You’re afraid because you don’t know where to begin. You don’t know how to go from where you are as a blogger to where you want to be. You don’t know how to get from here to there.
The good news?
Just like eating an elephant, you don’t do it all in one bite.
World domination — or any major blogging goal — is a journey you take one milestone at a time.
Embed This Infographic On Your Site
Why Bloggers Need Meaningful Milestones
When you break large tasks into small, manageable ones, what once seemed big and scary isn’t as daunting.
Renovating your entire home? Start by painting a room. Training for a marathon? Walk to the end of your driveway. Want to start a rock band? Get a guitar and start practicing.
Blogging isn’t any different.
Your journey as a blogger is filled with incremental milestones. They start small, gradually increase in size, and culminate with you owning sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads.
Want 10,000 subscribers? Start with 100. Want to quit your job? Focus on making your first sale. Want to be Jon Morrow’s best friend? Get him to notice you.
These milestones comprise your bucket list. They highlight what you’ve already accomplished, what you’re striving toward next, and what still lies far ahead of you.
To help you in your quest, here are the 21 major blogging milestones (and how to reach each one).
Ready? Let’s dive in.
#1. Starting Your Blog
You’ve been talking about doing it forever.
You’ve been reading blogs like Smart Blogger, Blogging Wizard, and Be A Better Blogger for months.
You’ve been planning, scheming, and daydreaming about starting a blog for so long that people have started to worry about that glazed look in your eyes.
So don’t you think it’s time you finally did it?
#2. Writing Your First Blog Post
Bloggers blog. It’s what we do.
So once you’ve setup your blog on WordPress, Medium, or wherever, it’s time to make this whole “blogging thing” official.
It’s time to write your first post.
#3 Getting Your First Tweet
Getting your content shared on social media for the first time is a big milestone.
Each time your posts are tweeted, pinned, or liked, your content is exposed to new readers.
These new readers are potential email subscribers. Potential customers. Potential allies in your quest for world domination.
#4. Receiving Your First Blog Comment From a Stranger
It finally happened.
The moment you discover someone other than your mom is reading your blog.
Your first comment from a stranger.
It’s the first sign you’re engaging a real audience (not just friends and family).
The first indication your words are striking a chord with readers.
The first evidence you have what it takes to succeed.
#5. Gaining Your First Email Subscriber
“The money is in the list,” says every blogger (even if nobody has asked them).
It’s cliché, but it’s true.
Email subscribers are far more likely to read, share, and engage with your content than someone who simply follows you on Twitter or “likes” you on Facebook.
Email cuts through the noise.
A person might receive a few dozen emails in a day, but they’ll receive several hundred (or more) tweets from their followers.
If you want to reach the top of the blogging mountain, you must build your email list.
And it all starts with that first subscriber.
#6. Getting Your First Backlink
Search engines love backlinks — they help them discover how pages are related, and in what ways.
Landing a high-quality link from a relevant website is great for SEO and results in more search engine traffic flocking to your website. And who doesn’t want that?
When a website links to yours, it’s effectively telling Google, “This dude is cool. He’s with me.”
Want to rule the world? You need Google to think you’re cool.
#7. Reaching 100 Visitors in a Single Day
In your blog’s early days, visitors are scarce. Occasionally, you’ll wonder if anyone is reading your blog.
But slowly, little by little, your numbers creep higher and higher.
And then it happens.
The day your blog reaches triple-digit visitors. The day your hard work begins to pay off. The day you get your first taste of power.
Intoxicating, isn’t it?
#8. Receiving Your First Piece of Fan Mail (Well, Email)
This is strange.
You receive an email from a stranger, but it has nothing to do with male enhancement or an unexpected inheritance from overseas.
It’s an email from a reader. And she’s telling you how much she enjoys your blog!
Your first “kudos” email from a reader is a big milestone for bloggers, and those who go on to rule the world receive many of them.
(Mine may or may not be printed, framed, and hanging from the walls of my office.)
#9. Getting Your First Negative Blog Comment
After weeks of praise, attaboys, and well-wishes, you receive your first negative comment.
You try to laugh it off by making a “these are where the tears would be if I could cry” joke, but it doesn’t work.
You’re confused. Hurt. Maybe a little angry. (Plus, your spouse quickly reminds you of the time you cried like a baby watching Field of Dreams.)
Don’t let it get you down. As you gain in popularity, criticism is inevitable.
Consider it a badge of honor — every popular blogger receives negative comments.
It’s proof you’re on the right track.
#10. Landing Your First Guest Post
Sooner or later, you’ll discover that commenting on other blogs and making friends on Twitter will boost your traffic only so far.
You need to reach new audiences.
As the marketing crowd would say, you need fresh eyeballs on your content.
In other words, you need to write a guest post.
#11. Getting Featured in Your First Interview or “Expert Roundup”
When people see you repeatedly mentioned on other sites via interviews and roundups, their perceptions of you change.
Yesterday, you were just an attractive guy or gal oozing talent but drowning in anonymity.
Today, you’re a freaking rock star.
You’re no more knowledgeable than you were moments earlier, but suddenly your powerful words carry more weight with readers. That’s because someone they trust just called you an expert (or treated you like one).
To reach world-leader status, others must view you as an authority. They need to consider you an expert in your industry.
Participating in interviews and roundups is a great way to make that happen.
#12. Hitting Your First 100 Email Subscribers
After having single- and double-digit subscribers for what seems like forever, you finally reach 100. One hundred individuals decide they want updates from you.
These first 100 subscribers are arguably your most important.
They’re the ones who found your blog in its early days.
They’re the ones who decided to follow you before you were popular.
They’re the ones likely to be your biggest supporters as you rise through the ranks and vanquish kingdoms.
#13. Seeing a Post You Wrote Go Viral
Wow. That was unexpected.
One of your posts takes off. It goes viral, as the kids say.
At its simplest definition, a viral post is one which has a life beyond your own promotion of it. As such, it gets considerably more clicks and shares than your typical post.
And, as a result, your blog receives a nice (if temporary) bump in traffic.
Even if it’s short lived, a viral post means more eyes on your content. And that’s just what a prospective world ruler wants.
#14. Getting Mentioned or Followed by an A-list Blogger
When Bob the bellhop from Bolivia mentions you on Twitter, a small handful of people will see it.
That’s even better.
When you’re mentioned or followed by an A-lister, it means much more than a small bump in traffic.
It means you’ve made it onto the radar of someone with influence.
#15. Hitting Your First 1,000 Email Subscribers
Now we’re talking.
Around the time you hit the 1,000 subscriber mark, your emails begin to carry more weight.
You’re able to generate traffic for new posts simply by emailing your subscribers.
You can begin making real money from your blog.
As a rule of thumb, you should be able to make at least $1 per subscriber each month — more if you really know what you’re doing.
#16. Successfully Selling Your First Product or Consulting Session
You tried your hand at sponsored ads. Maybe you even had a little success with them.
But eventually, you aim higher.
You decide to offer your skills as a coach or consultant.
Or maybe you decide to create your own digital product because you like the idea of unlimited income potential.
Whatever the route, the desire is the same: to pad your wallet with twenty dollar bills.
#17 Reaching 1,000 Visitors a Day
When you reach 1,000 daily visitors, your blog will be perched at a level many bloggers never see.
Your blog has momentum, which means your email list starts to grow on its own.
You’re selling more products and services.
Your social media shares are increasing too, which is bringing even more new visitors.
Your hard work is paying off. “Soon,” you say to yourself before laughing maniacally.
#18. Reaching 100,000 Visitors in a Month
When you reach 100,000 visitors in a month, you’ve reached a level of success most can only dream of.
At this level, practically anything you try can be lucrative.
#19. You Hit 10,000 Email Subscribers
As Jon Morrow likes to say: 10,000 subscribers is the “magic number.”
With 10,000 subscribers, publishers beat down your door to give you a book deal.
With 10,000 subscribers, you could make a full-time living as a coach or consultant.
With 10,000 subscribers, you can easily sell a course you have created.
In short, earning a six-figure income from your blog is entirely realistic when you have 10,000 subscribers.
It’s arguably the most important blogging milestone.
#20. Finally Earning Enough Money to Quit Your Day Job
It’s the dream of most bloggers.
Being able to quit your job and blog full-time means you’re able to quit the rat race. It means you can set your own schedule, pursue your passions, and spend more time with your loved ones.
It means you’re the boss.
#21. Achieving World Domination
You did it.
They said it wasn’t possible, but you made it happen.
The world is your oyster. You’re the master of your own destiny.
And it’s all thanks to your blog.
Now it’s time to take a vacation. Maybe even move to paradise. Heck, you earned it.
So What’s Your Next Big Blogging Milestone?
You realize they’re yours for the taking, right?
The house in the Hamptons?
The sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads?
They’re all out there… just waiting for you.
They’re waiting for you to decide, “Today is the day I’ll make my dreams come true.” They’re waiting for you to stop reading and start doing.
So, don’t just sit there.
Work out where you are on the list and what you must do to hit that next big milestone.
And let’s do this thing.
Because the world isn’t going to rule itself.
About the Author: Five years after first writing this post, Kevin J. Duncan’s dreams of quitting the rat race, blogging full-time, and world domination came true when Jon invited him to join the Smart Blogger team as our Blog Editor.
Never give up, folks. Never, ever give up.
The post 21 Blogging Milestones on the Path to World Domination appeared first on Smart Blogger.
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