Categories
social media

Blogging 201: Generating Content They’ll Love

March 6th at 11:00 AM Pacific

Building off of the success of Blogging 101, I’ve scheduled the next logical step… Blogging 201!

Blogging 101 was all about getting started, having an initial plan to make blogging a habit, getting your blog set-up, and stuff like that.

Blogging 201 is about writing, editing, and publishing the content that’ll actually go on your blog. (aka The hard part.)

What Blogging 201 Will Cover

Categories
Christian Living

What Posture Do You Take?

Posture impacts perspective
My posture sure impacts your perspective, doesn’t it? How big is this fish?

Beginning Again After Reflection

Having just taken a 2-week break from my daily blogging routine, I’m coming back at the task fresh from some time of reflection.

Ultimately, my reasons for writing this blog haven’t changed from when I started it in 2004. Back then I said I was starting this blog, “Mostly as a way to share with myself, just what is going on.”

Historically, my blog is at it’s best when I’m writing about my journey. And, speaking just for myself, I feel worst about it when I try to use it for some other purpose.

Categories
Web/Tech

5 Things to Do With a Brand New WordPress Site

So, you want to get started in blogging? Awesome. If your intended audience is over the age of 18 you are going to want to use WordPress. (Under 18? Use Tumblr.) Also, if you are just getting started I’d recommend spending the first 12 months of blogging on a WordPress.com blog. You’ll have way less flexibility but spend way more time actually writing than fiddling with your site settings. Don’t spend money until you know you like blogging.

It starts with a foundation: If you are going the self-hosted route, I am currently recommending Hostgator’s baby plan. I put all my non-commerce clients there and have never had a problem with uptime or customer service. 100% recommend them.

Now, assuming you have your site all set-up. Here are the first 5 things I do with a brand new site.

  1. Get rid of stuff. In the upper right hand corner you’ll see a tab called “Screen Options.” Play with that on the dashboard and the post page. That will get lots of distracting, confusing options out of the way. If my client is a total newbie, I also install a plugin which actually disables everything they’ll never need called Selfish Fresh Start.
  2. Buy a theme. Yeah, I could spend hours looking for a free theme that will work. But I’m kind of over that. These days I’m buying very nice themes at Themeforest. Pick a popular one, one with lots of sales, you won’t go wrong.
  3. Get your free Google juice. Google juice is a weird term which implies that if you do things right, Google will bring search traffic to you. Set your site up on Google Webmaster tools so you can tell Google your new site is there and how frequently you update posts. It’ll look intimidating when you go there, but all you really need to do are the basic settings. Next, set up Feedburner to handle your RSS feed. It’s takes a couple of minutes but will pay dividends down the road. (Don’t worry about the other search engines. Google is 90%+ of all of my sites search referrals.)
  4. Add some plugins. Here’s what I add to all of my sites. I actually have these in a folder on my computer and just upload them all in bulk when setting up a new site. Google XML Sitemaps, (You’ll need this for #3) Jetpack, Askimet, (Comes installed automatically) Login Logo, Password Protected, and Gravity Forms. (Premium – Contact Form 7 is a decent, free alternative)
  5. Set-up 2 basic pages. Every blog should have these 2 pages. A Contact page (see the 2 form plugins above) and an About page. Why? Because as people come to your blog they might want to know more about you and / or might want to contact you. I look at a lot of blogs and you’d be surprised how hard it is to figure out how to contact the blogger or even to find a full name or where a person lives. Why write if people can’t connect with you? I don’t get it.
Full disclosure: There are 3 affiliate links in this post. Hostgator, Themeforest, and Gravity Forms. All are products I use every day. If you buy something after clicking on my links I will make a couple bucks. Upside? I’m giving you free advice.
Categories
social media

Fall in love with your content

Every day I read all sorts of blogs. I follow hundreds of blogs with Google Reader and I’m constantly following links on Twitter and Facebook to various people’s blogs.

And I’ve gotten used to the mediocrity of most stuff out there.

There are very few people writing about what they love. But there are a whole pile of people writing about what they think will make them money.

You see, blogging is hot. Trendy even. Just about every company, church, start-up, and author I meet will quickly tell me… “I need to have a blog.” So the first thing people see is that blogging can somehow make them money. (Build a tribe, generate leads, sell product, sell ads) And in every marketing meeting in every corner of every market someone is in charge of getting bloggers to talk about their product. “User-generated content is what we need.” (aka free advertising!)

But they are missing the point. And their metrics always come back emptier than they’d hoped.

Why?

The reason people read a blog is because they connect with the content. A reader can tell the difference between a crappy post to promote a product or service and something they genuinely care about.

There are a lot of people, many of them my friends, who will sell you a big bag of tricks about how to make money with a blog. They will tell you it’s about design and whistles and SEO and mixed media. Most developers care more about the functionality of a site than they do the one thing that will actually work. (And make unlimited money.) Really, really good content. 

But the truth is that all that matters is that you love your content. You have to love it or no one else will. 

Categories
social media

Learn from me next Saturday in Chicago

Here’s the deal. I am scheduled to teach two classes next Saturday in Chicago. But as of right now… no one has signed up! I’ve got plenty of people interested as watchers on Skillshare but no one has ponied up the money to attend the class. If I don’t get 4-5 people by Monday at midnight Pacific I’m going to cancel the classes and watch football instead.

I’ve actually just lowered the cost of the class from $25 to $20 to make it a bit easier.

Growing Your Business with MailChimp

Mailchimp is an amazingly powerful tool. Whether you are a small start-up, a restaurant, a band, or a non-profit– Mailchimp can help you grow your business. In this 2-hour class we’ll quickly cover the basics of the service and quickly dive into unleashing the power of this amazing email marketing webapp. We’ll talk about lists & groups, templates, integrations with tools like Eventbrite, Facebook, and Salesforce, and email marketing strategy.

Register here

Blogging 101

This class will be laid back but full of experience, practical application, and practice. As a full-time blogger and blog coach I’ve helped countless bloggers get going for their own blogs and even launch small businesses. Topics covered: (But not limited to) – Getting started for free – Choosing the right platform – Customizing your blog – What to write about – How to write for response – How to build a tribe – Intro to analytics and other measurement tools – Principles of social media interaction The class will be two hours. But the format is loose and I won’t leave until I’ve answered all of your questions. My goal is that you walk away with a firm understanding of what to do AND ready to get started.

Register here