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Book Review: Blog by Number

Book Review: Blog by Number

Book Review: Blog by Number
Book Review: Blog by Number

When the ebook Blog by Number from the author Suzi Whitford was first presented to me I thought, why would I (a childless woman) want to read a blogging book tailored to stay at home moms? I had countless people say, just read it and you will understand.

So there I sat one Saturday afternoon propped up in my comfy couch corner with my Kindle in hand ready to read, but thinking “this is going to be a waste of a good Saturday afternoon”. Now I am not normally skeptical, but first and foremost my Saturdays are sacred time as I have little free time. If I am going to spend it reading, then it better be a cozy mystery or a book that is going to really help me with my website.

Page 8 on the ebook caught my immediate attention. Author Suzi Whitford laid out the basic plan; we were to look at this ebook as a “paint by number” for blogging instead of an in-depth analysis of art. In other words, this was not going to be a book with technical jargon and way too advanced blogging concepts. Then she hit me with the warning… beware of shiny object syndrome in blogging. What the what? I thought.

Shiny object syndrome is when you are reading/researching and every article you run across has you doing tons of action steps for your blog. They will have you in a frenzy trying to learn about monetization, going after traffic, collecting email addresses, and creating sellable materials. Before you know it you are pulled into a tangent of social media marketing and how to manage your posts and scheduling your social media. This is all shiny items waved in front of your face pulling you away from your initial task (creating a blog), causing loss of focus, the feeling of being overwhelmed, and burn out.

This book does include information on social media, Pinterest, getting traffic, and making money, but in an organized fashion and with helpful hints/tips so that you are not jumping in too fast and without a life jacket.  Okay, Suzi Whitford, you got my undivided attention! I am ready to just sit back, read, and absorb without the distraction of all the next steps in my journey.

Blog by Number Roadmap
Blog by Number Roadmap

The Review

The ebook slowly but confidently takes you through the full cycle of setting up a blog. The first few chapters begin with setting your goals, finding a niche, picking a domain, and then hosting your blog. You move into setting up your website starting with a good theme and pleasant color palettes (with lots of examples).  So far so good! There is nothing overwhelming and a lot of great information.

Did I mention she breaks down things by days so that you aren’t trying to do everything in one weekend (unless you choose to)? There is a whole chapter on content (with resources) for brainstorming your posts, working with templates, using checklists, developing headlines, and creating a variety (25 types) of posts. This is the section that I grabbed my notebook and started really taking notes.

Blog by Number templates and workbook pages
Blog by Number templates and workbook pages

Now that you have your blog set up and assistance with content (via checklists and templates), it is time to go at it and write.  This is when Suzi introduces the reader to the shiny object which I like to call bling. The bling consists of dozens of chapters on Pinterest such as creating pins, templates, boards, resources and generating traffic. Suzi also includes money making strategies via ads, affiliates, sponsored posts, blog networking, and product creation (products or services). But she doesn’t stop there! As some great added bonuses, she includes time-saving tips, her favorite resources, and a number of great website tools.

Blog by Number Pinterest Boards
Blog by Number Pinterest Boards

Recommendation

I can’t say enough about how much I thoroughly enjoyed Suzi’s book Blog by Number. To be honest, I even forget that this book was initially geared towards stay at home moms as so much of her book was about setting up a fantastic blog on a reasonable time frame. While I have a running blog, her book made me take a second look at it. I discovered superior ways to create better content, Pinterest pins, and interest in my blog. This book gets a two thumbs up in my book and is definitely one that I will be referencing constantly during my blogging career.

Author Information

Author Suzi Whitford studied Industrial Engineering and working for several Fortune 100 companies before becoming a mom and starting her blog StartAMomBlog.com. She finds blogging a very rewarding and extremely flexible activity with the potential to grow into something amazing.

Thank you for taking the time to read my review on Blog by Number. If you have read the ebook, I would love to hear your thoughts. Are there any ideas or strategies that Suzi mentioned that you are currently using on your blog?

*** DISCLOSURE: I may be an affiliate for products that I recommend. If you purchase those items through my links I may earn a commission or free items. You will not pay more when buying a product through my link. In fact, I oftentimes am able to negotiate a lower rate (or bonuses) not available elsewhere.  Plus, when you order through my link, it helps me to continue to offer you lots of free stuff. :)  Thank you, in advance for your support!


Freebie Friday #4

Freebie Friday #4

Friday Freebies

Hello and Happy Friday! This week I have included a number of free fonts and images along with the usual ebooks, ecourses, website apps, etc. And don’t miss out on the Just for Fun freebies from Smashwords which are available for the whole month of July.

Courses and Classes

Writing for the WebOpen2Study

Understanding the difference between writing for print versus writing for the web starts with learning about how readers behave differently online. This course brings to light how to accommodate the needs of online readers through web design, writing style, and structure and search engine optimization.

What you will learn:

  • how to structure a web page
  • considerations for search engines and accessibility requirements
  • making your content scannable
  • using keywords, headings, lists and links
  • matching your company’s tone of voice
  • creating a content strategy and style guide
  • and many other things!

How to Get More Twitter Followers – Kelsye Nelson

In this three day course, Kelsye will show you:

  • how to gain an average of 500 quality followers
  • how to get the right people to follow you
  • her favorite tool for managing following and saving time
  • her hack for fast growth without buying ads or followers
  • how to avoid mistakes that get your account flagged and locked

Fonts and Images

Bloggers that are horrible at taking pictures (like myself) are constantly looking for free images to use on their blogs. I am regularly on the lookout for images that match my blog topic and fonts that I can use with my Pinterest and Twitter images.  This week, Creative Markets (a new favorite place of mine) is sharing a number of both fonts and images for free.

creative market

Graphic Design Services

Pixlr

Make every moment beautiful with Pixlr’s family of photo editing apps.

BeFunky

Free yourself from complicated software and design the way you want.

YouiDraw

No signup, no download! You can draw, create logos, and design.

FatPaint

Make pages, vector illustrations, logos, edit photos and design products online.

Fotor

Free online graphic design tool. Design your photo, banner, poster, or card online!

Just for Fun

I absolutely love reading and find it a great form of relaxation. Some people like to take vacations, I like to find a comfy spot to sit, unwind, and escape in a good book. For the entire month July over at Smashwords they are offering a huge selection of free ebooks in all genres. Just click on this link, add any of the books to your shopping cart, and enter SFREE at checkout.

Here are a few that I found (just click on the individual book covers and it will take you right to their Smashwords page):

the journey journal

Fox Island

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Stay tuned for next week’s edition of Freebie Fridays were you will find a lot me free ideas for your business, blog, and you. Please feel free to comment and leave any freebies that either you are offering on your sites or feel the Pursuing My Dream readers might be interested in.


To Blog or Not to Blog: Blogging as a Career

To Blog or Not to Blog: Blogging as a Career

To Blog or Not to Blog
To Blog or Not to Blog

Blogging has been a widely known concept for quite some time now. While some may not know the technical ins and outs of how it works, many  have heard about blogging in pop culture.

Julie and Julia is a good example of this. It’s a movie that originated from a true life tale of Julie Powell, who set out to blog about her experiences cooking each of Julia Child’s 524 recipes from her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking in just 365 days.

Her blog became so popular that she was offered a book and movie deal for her efforts, and she also published her second book. Her success isn’t common, but not everyone needs a book and movie deal to make a substantial profit from their blog!

Blogging Conceptsblog-49006_1280

Looking for “blog jobs” online is something many people do these days. They know they love to post on Facebook and they hate their current 8-5 job, so they think they’d love to get hired as an official blogger for a company.

It’s true that more and more companies are coming onboard as blog entities – because they understand the value of having a social media presence online, part of which is their blog audience (in addition to Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, for example).

But you have to understand that when a company sets out to attract a blogger to represent their business online, they don’t want an amateur blogger. They want someone who understands the business side of blogging – because when you’re a blogger, you’re building a brand (or destroying it, in some unfortunate cases).

When you start looking at professional blogger-for-hire jobs, you’ll see that they want you to understand online marketing fully, they want you to deliver a certain number of blog posts per week (usually five), and sometimes want you to go out and find guest blogging opportunities where you can blog elsewhere and link back to their main blog.

It’s not a good career for someone who is new to blogging and thinks it “might be fun.” This is for seasoned professionals – and sometimes the company will even want to investigate to see what kind of current reach you have with your own content in the social media world.

If you’re already at a company that doesn’t have an online presence, then maybe you can make a suggestion that they allow you to head up that operation. This would give you a little experience so that you could then go out and brag about launching and generating a good buzz for your current company.

Choosing Blogging as a Career

Blogging as a Career

The do-it-yourself route is far more rewarding when it comes to blogging. It’s something you can do anytime – in the morning before work, on your lunch hour, after work and on the weekends.

Then when it becomes profitable, you can use it to replace your current income and begin blogging fulltime. When you choose this path, you have much more personal satisfaction in your blogging career.

Blogging is a real business when you start pursuing it for financial reasons. Yes, it gives you much in terms of happiness – but when you’re making money doing something you love, it’s very rewarding.

You have to treat this like a business from the very start. If you start blogging haphazardly, then your readers will recognize that it’s an amateur site. Yes, some will become fans anyway – but others want to know they’re following a leader in whatever niche you choose to blog about.

How do you pick a niche for your blog? Some blogs have a multitude of topics – from entertainment to fashion to business to health. You can do that, but unless you have a team of contributors, it’s hard to maintain the momentum needed for a broad blog like this.

A better option might be to narrow down your focus into something that you really love. It can still be broad – like a women’s health blog for example. But it’s not as narrow as “everything” or “health in general” (including both genders).

You can even drill down more and go with one form of women’s health, like menopause or pregnancy. You don’t even need to be an expert in it – it’s all about sharing information and as you learn, you can share!

One thing that’s important is that you make sure that you love whatever topic you’re blogging about. You should want to wake up every day, eager to get to your computer.

If you dread it because it bores you or it’s depressing, then you won’t help your readers and the blog won’t become profitable for you.

Aside from the overall slant, you get to choose what each individual entry on your blog is all about.  If you were blogging for another company, they might tell you what to blog about each day – even if you found it mundane.

You can set an entire editorial calendar for your blog where you choose which topics are presented to your readers. You also get to pick the tone for the blog pieces.

For example, let’s take the diet niche. You could be a fad and trend diet blogger who emphasizes fast weight loss – or someone who harps on the fact that weight loss should just be the adoption of better nutrition and exercise and the pounds should come off slowly.

Developing a Relationship with Your Readers

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Having a relationship with your readers mean they value your blog and they share the link to it with other people. You want that type of connection because as a professional, the traffic and branding that you gain will be priceless.

When blogs have a loyal readership, they enjoy a fantastic word of mouth traffic flow. While many bloggers are out there buying links back to their site and paying people to help them get traffic, you can do it all for free.

First, pick topics they want to know about. Part of your job in relationship building is to listen to your audience and meet their needs. There are many ways you can do this.

Do some preliminary keywords researches to find out what people want to know in your niche. Using the menopause example, you could go to UberSuggest.org and type in what is menopause.

This is known as a sentence starter – and it gives you some insight into what type of blog post you might want to do, such as:

  • What are menopause hot flashes like?
  • What are menopause symptoms caused by?
  • What are the best menopause vitamins?

A good keyword tool gives you help on what to blog about. But there’s more that you can do to find topics. You can look in forum threads and see what people are asking.

You can also simply invite your readers to submit questions to you. You can do this on your email auto responder opt in form, or have a special contact form on your blog where people can engage with you that way.

Whenever someone emails you with a question, you can assume there are more people out there who are wondering the same thing. Use those questions as fodder for your blog topics.

When you start blogging about all of these things, it makes the audience feel like you’ve really got your finger on the pulse of the marketplace – like you have great instincts.

Next, write in a highly conversational style and end each blog with an invitation to connect. People need to feel like you’re speaking just to them – even if you’re not.

If you write, make sure it’s conversational and not stuffy like you’d write for a professional publication. If you make a video blog, look right in the camera and be casual and relaxed, not stuffy and nervous.

When you end a blog post, you can ask a question or invite people to share their own $0.02 about the topic in the comments. Make sure that whatever comment system you’re using, it’s easy to find – because some are almost hidden.

Participate in the conversation that goes on in your blog comments. If people are kind enough to take you up on your invitation, then make an effort to have a dialogue with them.

Thank them for their comment, call them by name, and open up a discussion about what they had to say. You can use a plugin to help the comments become “threaded,” which helps all of your readers see who was responding to whom.

Supporting Yourself Financially With Blogging

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When you start blogging for profit, you should be consistent with your efforts. You should blog regularly – daily if possible, but at least several times a week. There are a few ways you can make money as a blogger.

Build a list from your blog so that whenever you have a new blog post, you can notify people about it. Also have an RSS system set up for people who use RSS feed readers to get notified of your new content.

Whenever you have a list, it gives you a certain amount of power – the power to instantly communicate with your target audience when you are selling or promoting products.

Because of this, you have to make sure that you don’t abuse that power by spamming their email with useless or irrelevant offers. If you do this, you build a reputation as a spammer.

Sell ad space for a certain amount of profits. You can arrange a specific area of your blog for ad space that people rent on a monthly basis, paying the ad revenue to you directly.

If you go this route, make sure you have specifics in place to control what kinds of ads can get placed on your blog – all the way down to the colors and animation of it if you want.

Sign up for AdSense, too. This can help you get clicks and revenue. You can put different sized ad banners on your blog, from buttons to skyscraper ads. You can include images or go with just text.

One thing you have to remember whenever you place any ads on your blog is that yes, it gives you some money when people leave your site for somewhere else – but in leaving, it also means someone else is capturing their name and email address and selling something to them, not you.

Promote tangible products as an affiliate. You can sign up as an Amazon Associate and promote anything they sell there that they offer a commission on.  Using our menopause example, if you promoted a chilled pillow, you could earn a percentage of each sale from your blog post.

Promote digital products as an affiliate. Digital products can be found at sites like ClickBank. You can sign up for free and get a hoplink (affiliate link) where you earn around 50% for each sale.

Create your own products and sell them from your blog. You don’t have to promote other people’s stuff. Why not create an info product (eBook, video or audio course) and teach something you blog about in more depth – or in a more comprehensive manner?

Offer services from your blog. Freelancing like writing, graphics, or other services can be offered right from your blog. Coaching is something you can offer. Many people pay top dollar for one on one coaching sessions via Skype or even email!

Blogging can be a very fun and very profitable venture if you approach it correctly. Don’t make the mistake of flying by the seat of your pants. If you do this, your blog will be scattered with topics, have no set monetization plan, and you’ll end up unhappy with the effort you’ve put in.

With proper planning and enthusiasm, you’ll never need to look for “blogging jobs” again – in fact, you might be the one putting out feelers for a professional blogger to come onboard and help you with your content needs! Don’t you agree that being in a position of power makes a world of difference?

Comments

Are you a blogger that has found success? Please share some of your success tips, struggles, or anything else about blogging that might be of interest to a new blogger.

How to Succeed in Making Money Online – Freelance Work

How to Succeed in Making Money Online – Freelance Work

How to Succeed in Making Money Online - Freelance Work
How to Succeed in Making Money Online – Freelance Work

Welcome back to the How to Succeed in Making Money Online Series. To recap, in part one, I introduced you to the concept of affiliates and discussed how to make money online with affiliate marketing programs. That was followed up with part two and the discussion about incorporating and developing information product creation to your website. In part three, I discussed membership marketing sites; what they are, what they do, and how to build one.

In the fourth part of the series, our main focus will be on freelance work. Working as freelancer, as your talent, is a good way to earn money online. There are always marketers that are looking for freelancers who know how to do a great job.

Freelancing

If you’d like to get into freelancing, the first thing you need to do is pick what type of freelancer you’d like to be. A Freelancer has many career options and can branch out into many different career paths including:

  • Copywriter
  • Editor/Managing Editor
  • Writer
  • Blogger (Niche) Writer
  • Technical Writer
  • Marketing/Sales Manager
  • Creative Director
  • Editorial Director

When you are first starting out as a freelancer, you can find clients on sites such as Upwork, Fourerr, Guru, Freelancer, or Fiverr. The amount of money that you can make on these sites will vary. Remember that these are your starting points into the freelance world where you define and redefine your writing skills (and niches), build your portfolio, build a following, and attract clients. Once you’ve established yourself as a freelancer who delivers good quality and services, then you can consider branching out on your own by finding clients so that your business continues to thrive and expand.

Finding Clients

Finding clients to build your income doesn’t have to be difficult. If you’re a freelancer, you need to have a professional website with a personal blog on that website. Building a professional website doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money as you should be able to get started with a domain name and hosting services for around $25 or less a month.

Before you balk at the $25 a month, consider this fee as a small investment into your future. Sure you could go with a free hosted website such as blogger, but a self-hosted blog (through bluehost) gives you the peace of mind that you have control of the website and also allows you to easily monetize your site at any time.

Think of your website as a letter of introduction to potential clients. These clients may go to the Internet and search for freelance services. Because of this, you want to make sure you have a professional website to tap into the market and pull in traffic, while gaining clients.

On your website, you want to include a blog, an about you page, a page for your portfolio with testimonials, and a page of writing samples. The blog and about you page will pull the client in and let them get to know you and your personal writing style.

The portfolio page would include a collection of work that you have currently completed including links (if allowed by previous clients) for the potential clients to view. This is your time to shine so try to showcase your best work. You will also want to include a list of your skills like you would on an online resume. This will let the potential client know your previous work experiences (example: 10 years developing websites and creating web design), your expertise (example: creating standard operating procedures manuals), and you skills (example: 10 years as an Administrative Assistant who sent out email notifications, typed business letters, sent out marketing and advertising materials, etc.).

Don’t forget to include testimonials that you have gathered from previous clients. This will let potential clients know that you have completed exemplary work, satisfied a client, and are the type of person they are looking to hire.

If you are just starting out and don’t have a portfolio or testimonials, then you will want to have a page of writing samples. What you will need to do is create sample articles, blog posts, and other materials that will showcase to potential clients the type of work you are capable of completing.

Now that you have your website set up and your list of potential clients and freelance websites in hand, you are now ready to venture into the world of freelancing.

Comments Welcome

If you have experience as a freelancer, I would love for you to share your experiences with my readers by commenting to this post. What are some of the obstacles/successes you have faced as a freelancer or blogger?

Please come back again to read the final in the series, part 5, where I discuss making money online as a success coach.

 

Self-Publishing Webinar for Bloggers

Self-Publishing Webinar for Bloggers

I usually save this for Freebie Fridays, but an exclusive webinar just came through my email and it is for tomorrow July 6th.

Are you a blogger or online entrepreneur hustling to find reliable income streams? Have you considered writing books, but you aren’t sure how to do it the right way or if it will really be profitable? Bloggers are uniquely positioned to be successful with self-publishing, and Barrie & Steve will show you the exact steps to leverage your platform, content, and expertise to build recurring income.

Barrie Davenport Co-Founder Authority Pub Academy

Barrie is a certified coach and top-ranked personal development blogger who is the author of 11 books and counting. She has used self-publishing to boost her online business and income and to attract coaching clients and over 600,000 monthly blog visitors.

Steve Scott Co-Founder Authority Pub Academy

Steve is a multiple best-selling author who has built a full-time 6-figure business around self-publishing books, with over 70 books and counting. 

In the webinar you will learn:

-How to nail down profitable book topics based on your blog niche

-The best ways to use your blog content to write multiple books

-The secrets to writing multiple books a year, even if you’re super busy

-How to ensure your books stand out from the crowd and fly off the shelf

-The best way to turn your blog followers into raving book fans

If you want to take your blog to the next level and turn your content and expertise into an income stream, this FREE webinar is just for you. Just click on the image below to take you to the registration page.

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