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5 essential steps to make your blog a success

learn the 5 essential steps to starting a successful blog

Lets say you’ve decided to start a blog to help get the word out about your business, art or philosophy on life.

You’ve got some decisions to make about where your going to do that. By that I mean what blogging software/platform are you going to use?

Where will this be hosted? Will it be a free blog at blogger.com or WordPress.com, or will you have it hosted so that you can have a greater control over its look and it’s destiny should anything go wrong at these 3rd party free blog providers.

No matter where you blog, or what you decide to do with your blog, there are some ‘must do’ steps as follows:

  1. Make sure you’ve configured everything correctly. There’s nothing worse than having done 99% of the work, only to be let down by the final 1%. To ensure you’ve got the best fighting chance to get the best attention for your blog, you should fill in everything that you can. This includes any profile settings, and in the case of WordPress, any plug-ins or other information that needs to be completed – many plug-ins and themes require some work to make them usable.
  2. Pick a design theme and stick with it…at least for a few months. Radical design changes can upset your readers, especially if you haven’t alerted them to this in advance. Changing your design theme in WordPress is a breeze. Making your blog stand out from the rest is a major step in retaining traffic. More importantly, if you make it yours, the you’re more likely to work on it more often. Changing away from the default theme in WordPress has other benefits as well. Although the default theme is rock solid and very customisable, it does make your site look like just another WordPress blog. Another thing to consider is that if you update your WordPress software to the latest release, this can sometimes break or delete any customisations you have made in the default theme, as quite often the theme itself is updated with new versions of WordPress.
  3. Write some content. Try to write 5 or 10 blog posts in advance before you tell anybody that you are blogging. This way when people start to turn up, there will be a good amount of valuable content ready for them to read and to make sure they return you should plan a blogging schedule.Tell your readers what this is right on the front of your blog if you want. This will keep you accountable not just to your readers but also to yourself. If your goal is to build a strong following, then I suggest you try to do a lot of writing at the front end of your project. Daily posting isn’t too much if you can manage it; its certainly what I try to do here on 4 donkeys. You can scale back later when you have a bigger archive of material for your readers to engage with.
  4. Promote your content – once you’ve got a nice stock of content up start promoting your blog. Consider using your posts on article sites, get active on related forums and share your wisdom and of course links back to your blog. You’ll get more traffic if you diversify, so remember to add your site to bookmarking sites and make good use of social media to spread the word – and, encourage your readers to do so too.
  5. Be authentic; if you don’t know it from experience, don’t make out that you do. It doesn’t mean that you cant write about it, but its better to speak from experience and its better to be just you, don’t try for any fancy image or to change your personality into something you are not. By saying it from the heart, you will be more encouraged to continue when you start to get positive feedback from readers…and if you are genuine…you will get feedback.

Blogging, ultimately, is about making connections with readers and will help you to build a reader base to discuss your work and share your ideas with. It allows you to express yourself, make valuable contacts and to showcase yourself as the expert you are in your field.

Photo today thanks to:  Adam Tinworth via Compfight; keep clicking Adam, cheers.

How to set up a membership site easily.

Yesterday we looked at how you can easily set up your wordpress site to sell eBooks or other digital content or even physical products.

Depending on your industry or market niche it might not be that easy to build a sustainable online business around such products, as there might be a limited market for each product you create.

Typically these high value products such as eBooks take have a long lead time, as to deliver true quality to your customers you have to spend a lot of time researching, creating and then editing and formatting your product before launching it.

In the meantime what do you do for ongoing income?

How do you develop a deeper and longer term relationship with your customers?

Well a membership site is a really good way to build a strong following, build trust and generate a regular income from your followers at the same time.

However, setting up a membership site can at first seem like a daunting (and potentially expensive) project.

The premise is that you create and hide some high value content that only paying members can see, when they log in with special credentials you supply to them when they pay you for membership.

So the major issues with membership sites are:

  1. How do you show some content to the public and hide your premium stuff from them only to be accessed by members?
  2. How do you accept regular and ongoing payments for membership from lots of different clients who all join on different dates?
  3. How do you make sure that you don’t continue to allow access to the premium content after the member has left and cancelled their payment plan?
  4. How do you integrate your membership product with your email auto responder so that new members are automatically added to your list?
  5. As with any digital content, how do you make sure a member doesn’t just hand out his/her log in details to all of their friends?

Then there is the issue of members who join sometime down the line, long after you have started the site.

By this time you have added a lot of premium content on a month to month basis to keep members coming back for more. But if a member joins in month 11 say, they immediately get access to a huge bundle of content for one month’s membership.

In this case they might just decide that the deal is too good to pass up but immediately cancel their membership after just one payment and make off with a huge bundle of your best stuff.

First of all, you must remember not to become paranoid about this stuff, the vast majority of people are just like you and me and are very honest and won’t scam you.

However, I’m still taken aback about 5 or 6 times a week when I see I have a new subscriber to one of my opt-in lists, followed by a message that they have left again within 15 minutes. They have simply signed up, got the freebie and then bolted!

So you do need some measure of security built into your membership site to protect from the very small number of less scrupulous people that are doing the rounds.

Well all of this can be handled beautifully by the amazing wordpress plug in I want to share with you today. Here’s what it does:

  1. WP emember seamlessly integrates with your site allowing you to simply select which posts and pages you want to protect and how you want to protect them.
  2. The plug in talks directly to your payment handler (Paypal for example) and knows when a member cancels their subscription, automatically cancelling their access to the content you want to protect.
  3. The plug in tracks when members start and finish their membership and keeps a tidy log of this information so that management is easy.
  4. The plug in integrates easily with all of the main auto responder and email broadcast companies so you add members straight to your list and remove them automatically when they leave.
  5. One of the most powerful features of this plug in is the way in which it can be set to move members up through various levels of membership automatically where you have different levels of protection, doing away with the problem of new members getting too much content at once and leaving with it.
  6. You can restrict the number of IP addresses that a member can use to access the content. I usually set it to 3, as a member might sometimes access the site from a desktop, laptop, work computer and/or a mobile device. This minimises the risk of a member sharing their log in details with the world. Log ins from multiple IP addresses simply won’t work. You can close right down to one IP if you are concerned about this.
You can get the full details here.

…and remember, if you need any help to install or configure any plug in just drop me an email, or give me a call on 07939 149103.