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My Top 10 “Things I would do differently if I had to start my blog again”

Zulit Top TenWhen you first launch a blog, your domain is stranded in the desert of cyberspace. It takes some time to get things going. You will have days when you’re all charged up, and others when you might feel like throwing in the towel. You may hear about blog owners that make great sums of money from their daily blogging, and at the same time read about bloggers that make only enough money to buy a cup of coffee once a day. Below is list that outlines the top 10 things I’d do differently if I had to start my blog again.

Money Blogging Tip #1 – Avoid focusing only on the money

This is going to sound ridiculous to some, but try to avoid focusing on the money. If your only goal is to make money, your frustration at times will be intense, and this may lead to your blogging demise. What you need to do is concentrate on writing articles of content that reflect your feelings, experience, beliefs, and understanding of a familiar subject. It turns out that you can make money blogging, and that’s super, but you won’t make a great deal of money overnight. It can take months or years (depending on the subject matter) before you start to make money enough to write home about. The only way you can ever make blogging lucrative, is by consistently pumping out relevant material. To do that you’ll likely need to love blogging. (unless you hire someone to blog for you — but for this article I’m going to assume you are simply an individual who is wading into cyberspace on your own)

Money Blogging Tip #2 – Blog about your first passion

Your blog can be about fishing, sports, cars, boats, hobbies, or just a subject you are passionate about. Zulit.com is mostly about the pursuit of financial freedom because that is something I’m passionate about. That may not be your cup of tea, and it may not be a subject you know much about. On your first blog you need to focus on a topic that you are intimate with — topic or subject that you have life experience with. This is sort of cliche in the blogosphere, but it can never be overstated. Later, after your first blog is well advanced, you can certainly branch off into niche blogging, or product blogging.

Money Blogging Tip #3 – Avoid being intimidated by power bloggers – be inspired!

One of the first things you’ll notice when you begin blogging, is that there are some extremely powerful blogs that have what I call “Internet Seniority”. These are blogs managed, owned, and operated, by experienced bloggers that started blogging years ago. They have grown a substantial archive of content, earned the respect of a substantial following (subscribers), earned an impressive Google page rank, and have a massive amount of traffic per day, month, and year. Don’t be intimidated. These experienced bloggers started just like you are now. They wrote their first post at one time as well. They had no traffic, no subscribers, no content, and in many cases no direction. They found their direction in time, just like you will.

Try to learn from the experienced blogger’s example, and see their work as an inspiration. Like most arenas in life, the successful people are usually the first to inspire you and lift you up — not bring you down. In fact, the top bloggers usually have streams of content doing just that. They hope to inspire and motivate people in a positive way by posting their blogging tips as well. Learn from them.

Money Blogging Tip #4 – Avoid the “geek’s only” mind-set

There is still a big misconception out there when it comes to blogging. Some people think you need to be a computer wizard to succeed. Wow — there has never been a bigger piece of prime grade baloney served up on the subject of blogging. With the advent of blogging services such as Blogger.com, and the WordPress blogging platform (recommended if you own your own domain), it’s never been easier to launch and grow a successful blog. I’ve read quite a few blog posts that suggest only the computer geeks of the world can succeed. This is false. If you can’t setup your blog, you can find someone to do it for you, or you can learn with some of the free online tutorials found on the Internet. Once you have your blog launched, it’s really just a matter of writing and posting articles of interest. Articles that interest you can and perhaps your eventual readers. When I write “eventual readers”, I mean that you will be writing to yourself at first. You won’t have any substantial traffic to your blog for the first couple of months, depending on how aggressive you are, and what kind of optimization you employ.

Money Blogging Tip #5 – Avoid using shady tricks

It’s tempting to use the latest Internet trick(s) to bolster the amount of inbound links to your blog. Try to stay away from this sort of thing. With a blog, you don’t need to. Just focus on writing a useful article, one article at a time. It really boils down to writing pieces and posts that interest readers and visitors. That is what great blogs have going for them. The better your posts are, then the more inbound links you will receive from other bloggers, and those are the BEST kind of inbound links your blog can receive. You don’t need to be canvassing the Internet for link partners, or using a database to manage an aggressive link campaign. The search engine algorithms are getting smarter and smarter, and they penalize web sites and blogs for using these tactics. The kind of inbound links the search engines want to see are what I call “natural links” — links from other writers on other web sites. Just let this happen naturally. Write an article that gives some insight on a subject that you are passionate about. Don’t worry, others will link to your article if you have something to say.

Money Blogging Tip #6 – Avoid what I call “posting paranoia”

There many articles and posts on the Internet that focus on posting frequency, post length (in words), post “quality”, post title, and post contents. There are different theories on this, and I too have been lured into the posting frequency trap in the past. You may see other blogs that have a post uploaded 1-4 times a day, and that may seem like an impossible feat for a solo blogger, unless you were willing to work 12 hours everyday, and/or have others post as well. You can do that later if you wish, but for this article, I’m assuming you are a solo blogger and only you will be posting.

What I have found to be the most effective, is to write 1 substantial post every 3-4 days. Maybe every two days. You’ll notice that this blog has many posts that are definitions, mini-stories, tutorials, product reviews, etc. What I’m doing is laying a ground work of my own pieces that I can reference (link to) instead of linking outside my own blog. I still link to other bloggers and sites of course, but I also like to have some of my own content to link to. You don’t need to do this — it’s just something I enjoy doing. You’ll also notice that my own posting frequency changes from time to time. I’ll been on the “one post daily schedule” for a month, and then I’ll post 3 in one day. Then I won’t post for 3-4 days. As time goes on, I think the latter will be my MO (modus operandi). Who knows, but I’ll tell you one thing, I won’t be getting hung up about it.

When you write a well rounded, and complete article, you are more likely to receive links from other bloggers, more likely to grow a readership via RSS feed readers or via email subscriptions, and more likely to impress the search engine bots. The other advantage to focusing on this kind of posting schedule is that you give your article or post more instant exposure. What I mean is; your peach of an article will be front and center on your blog for a few days, instead of dropping down to the bottom of your home page. This way more readers will have a chance to see your hard work. Why bury your hard work deep into your archives, only to be seen by deep readers, and the search engine spiders. Of course, your peach of an article will see traffic in the future, but why not give it front stage for a few days.

The other kind of posting paranoia I see fostered allot is the originality theory. I often see bloggers claiming that the best  posts are posts that reference a news-worthy subject. As a result, many bloggers end up being headline chasers. This is effective, but it’s an extremely aggressive niche to be competing in, and there are many times when there’s nothing new to talk about. You end up chasing the main news agencies, or other news style blogs, and posting on the same subjects. In the long run, you don’t end up with an original blog — just a Cyber repeater.

Don’t worry about beating CNN or CBS to the scoop. Just write about the things you want to write about. If your blog is all about building model airplanes, don’t worry about whether or not other blogs or web sites have written on the same subject. Rather; just write a thorough piece on your subject, and I bet you dollars to balsa wood chips, that you will have added new information to cyberspace. You will have made at least a few good points that have not already been made. THIS is the essence of blogging. THIS is what your readers want. (it’s also what Google wants, and god forbid we forget about the Big G)

Money Blogging Tip #7 – Use an easy to read blog design

You need your blog to be easily read. You need the font type to be easy on the eyes, and I mean easy for all eyes. This includes readers with bad vision, small computer screens, cheap computer monitors, low grade video cards, dial-up connections, and the list goes on.

You are better off using a light colored background and black print. This is what humans are used to, and are the most comfortable with. Why flirt with it. You want to make sure that when a user changes their browser settings to the largest font possible (in Internet Explorer go; view/text size/select font size) it won’t destroy your page layout. Just keep this in mind when you test and try your WordPress theme or blog template. I like to use a theme that allows users to increase their font size settings. You can see this on my blog if you increase and decrease font settings.

Also, consider a clean look, that draws the reader’s attention to your writings, and not the flashy sidebar or header image. Another advantage that a simple and clean blog has is accessibility. A simple and clean theme will make your blog load faster and this is always a good thing. Remember that millions of people are still on the bad old dial-ups. Even as all the major cities and centers of the world employ high speed Internet access to the majority of boroughs, neighborhoods, the rural areas could still be on dial-up. So, try to avoid clutter and large images if you can. Remember that you can usually change your blog theme with just a few clicks.

Money Blogging Tip #8 – Try to avoid a fear of criticism

Contrary to what some will tell you, I believe people are smart. Very smart. It’s human to error, and no-one really expects you to know it all. In other words, don’t be overly concerned if the odd time your information or opinion is in contrast to the facts. You should make every effort to know what you are talking about before you share your opinion, but don’t let anything slow down your blogging dialogue. If your understanding of the facts are off on a particular point, then someone with a deeper understanding and knowledge will likely tell you about it. You can’t let that upset you. Don’t be afraid of being wrong once and awhile.

Some of the folks that I’ve helped get started were apprehensive when it came time to stick out their necks in cyberspace. I asked one of them what their concern was, and I was surprised to find out that even with a burning desire to start blogging, they were a little queasy when it came time to hit that publish button. They were worried about looking stupid. Worried that they could be criticized.

This has never bothered me, because I truly believe that most people are kind at heart and they’re smart. Smart enough to understand that my writings are a product of my opinion, my slant, and my life experience. Although my opinion may not be in sync with their version of the truth on a particular point — does not mean they cannot enjoy reading something I’ve written on the whole. Yes, there are some people who breath 100% pure negativity, and you can’t do anything about that. You need to thicken your skin, and ignore any possible post or comment that may fly directly in your face.

How many times have you been confronted by someone (whether offline or online) who was quite rude and their reaction angered you greatly? Hopefully not too often. If they really got under your skin, then they likely had some truth in their criticism. It may be that the person who had a go at you is just a chronic whiner, who goes around looking for opportunities to lash out at someone. It’s possible that they are just brimming with ugly ego, and would never admit being wrong (no matter how wrong they get), but that still does not make their opinion useless. Regardless of how pathetic some people can come across, don’t think you can’t learn something from them as well. As a friend of mine once said to me; “You can’t do anything about morons and half wits, except recognize when you’re acting like one yourself

Money Blogging Tip #9 – Try to stay up on the latest in web technology

There is always going to be something new introduced to the world wide web. Some new way of making your blogging easier and more effective. A good example would be the creation of the WordPress blogging platform. Another example would be tagging. Whatever the new idea is, you want to be aware of it at some point. Even if you discover a new web technology well after it’s conception, not to worry. Your blog will live and breath by your writings. That is the most important factor. All of the search engine optimization tactics you exploit won’t help a blog with scant content. You can join some of the Internet forums that discuss web based applications, or read a blog that stays up on the latest and greatest bells and whistles. I’m starting a free SEO (search engine optimization) series that aims to help beginners setup their WordPress blog for maximum exposure.

Money Blogging Tip #10 – Be patient………..and find your groove.

Notice I said that twice. Many bloggers fight with this one. It’s easy to be frustrated when you are working very hard and not seeing any results. Like many things in life, it takes time and effort to succeed as a professional blogger. Some would say that the phrase professional blogger is an oxymoron. There are creative ways you can make money from your blog, and you need to experiment with them over time. At first, try to focus on getting your flow going. What I mean by that is simply find the writing groove that works for you. Find a comfortable place to write your posts. Some bloggers do all their writing outside on a deck. Some of us write down in a basement den. Some of us take a drive and find a quiet place to write away from the city. I do all of the above.

Experiment with writing at different times of the day or night. We all have different internal clocks that we are predisposed to due to genetics, employment, family life (or lack of family life), and lifestyle history. One thing you don’t want to do is force yourself to write when you are tired. That is so useless a quest, I can’t find a word for it or give it a name — how about futile? Not only will your writings likely be horrid, your spelling lame, and your punctuation atrocious. Your thoughts will likely be discombobulated. In other words……you’ll probably suck.

Try to only write when your energy is high. I often write as soon as I wake up from a nap or my night’s sleep. You will get more done in 3 minutes of high energy time, than you will in 3 hours of low energy time. It’s in the high energy times that we are closest to our creator, most creative, most hopeful, most powerful, and most excited. if you make the mistake of banging your head against the wall in low energy times, you can run the risk of temporary or permanent blogging burn out. You are then risking your dream of being a successful blogger. So be patient and only write when your energy is high.

That is the end of my top ten list of things to do (and not do) as a blogger. I hope you found something in my ramblings that was useful to you. You’ll notice that I did not go into a great deal on how to monetize your blog and make money with it. Rather, I pointed out ways to get your flow going and keep your dream alive. I believe that financial gain is simply a bi-product of success. Success to me is when you reach a point of accomplishment due to a love for your craft.

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