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Finding Happiness

Dec 15, 2013 by     Comments Off on Finding Happiness    Posted under: Blogging Tips

I believe that everybody in the whole world is made different. I’m different than you are and my happiness is different than your happiness. But I’m happy not working for somebody else right now. … A lot of people feel sorry for me, living out here in the desert, living like this, but I’m here because I wanna be here. I don’t want to be at any other place in the whole world.  I’m just happy right here, doing what I’m doing. 

Leonard Knight, of Niland, Calif.
From the documentary Automorphosis 

 

And happiness is what life boils down to.

In fact, as corny as it sounds, I’ve had the following fortune taped to the front flap of my wallet for probably two years now:

“No one is happy who does not think himself so.”

For a number of years I wasn’t happy, a self-proclaimed “glass-half-empty kind of guy.” But as I grew older, and learned what does make me happy and what makes life complete, I found happiness within myself. 

When it comes to your work life, the same rules apply.

You have accept that you can in fact be happy in the corporate world, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be happy “working for the man” if you’re enjoying life and doing something you believe in.

You just have to find something you believe in in the corporate world. That’s the tricky part.

 

Three Things

Dec 13, 2013 by     Comments Off on Three Things    Posted under: Blogging Tips
  1. Enjoy the people you work with.
  2. Enjoy what you do.
  3. And enjoy what your company’s overall mission is.

 

Appreciation

Dec 11, 2013 by     Comments Off on Appreciation    Posted under: Blogging Tips

I’ll be honest. After the birth of each one of my three children, the last thing I wanted to do was return to work.

After the birth of my first daughter, while in the newspaper business, I took about a month off of work.

After my son was born, after leaving the daily newspaper grind for the tech world full time, I took three weeks off. 

Then, following the birth of my second daughter, I only took two weeks off. But that was OK. I enjoyed my job to the point where returning back to work wasn’t such a bad idea. 

As my job evolved from a career to a mission, and I was doing something for a business I believed in, two weeks was good.

Sure, we’d all love to live in Europe, where you get weeks and weeks of vacation every year, but there’s also something to be said for doing something you enjoy. For a cause you believe in.

That makes going back to work that much easier every Monday morning.

And when your company welcomes you back with open arms, and your co-workers say things like “It’s nice to have you back, we missed you,” it makes the return even easier.

Appreciation is under-rated when it comes to the workplace. Too often companies are more worried about status quo and the bottom line when it comes to company culture and rewarding the top employees.

When you do find the right fit, in terms of your job description and the company’s mission, appreciation and recognition are the icing on the cake.

Your contributions to an organization — if you work hard and provide value — are always going to be  appreciated by management and your fellow co-workers. When your  contributions to the company culture and work environment are recognized, it makes going back to work after a break that much easier. 

 

 

 

 

Clear the Hurdles

Dec 9, 2013 by     Comments Off on Clear the Hurdles    Posted under: Blogging Tips

When you’re in the corprorate world it’s easy to get held up by hurdles, blame another department and pass the buck so you don’t have to take on more work.

But instead of allowing those hurdles to trip you up, turn those stumbling blocks into stepping stones.

Be the person around the office who bridges the gaps between departments, solves problems and clears hurdles so that the team can execute on projects.

Rather than wasting energy complaining about the situation, use that time to correct the situation.

The more you can avoid stumbling blocks, the happier you and your team will be.

And the more valuable you will be to your company.

 

 

 

Why SEO Should be the Top Priority for Your Site

Dec 2, 2013 by     Comments Off on Why SEO Should be the Top Priority for Your Site    Posted under: Blogging Tips

What is the most important thing you can do for your blog or website?
1. Produce top-notch creatives, images and a customized theme that’s aesthetically pleasing and separates you from the competition.
2. Write amazing content for your blog and critical landing pages.
3. Complement that writing with great videos, podcasts and photo galleries.
How about none of the above.
Even if you’ve spent thousands of dollars and hours on your website’s design and content, people still might not find your website unless you’ve optimized your site for search. And if you don’t focus on search engine optimization, and injecting relevant keyword phrases into your content, you could be wasting your time and money.
Needless to say, it’s important to keep SEO in mind with everything you do, researching keyword phrases and thinking about the search terms readers would use to stumble upon your post in Google.
Once you identify those keywords, get them in the title and first couple sentences of your post, as well as in relevant tags and image data.
Keep in mind Google’s search bots are just that, computers. They’re not human, so they don’t get puns or really crafty headlines. They only understand keywords and the links that point to your content, which are essential a popularity vote for that piece of work you’ve created.
Without the proper keywords, your content won’t be found via search, and on some sites, search traffic can be as high as 90 percent of traffic.
But the SEO doesn’t stop there.
Then there’s the technical side of SEO.
• Making sure your RSS feed is syndicating content to the Google’s Blog and/or News search indexes, Bing, Feedburner and Twitterfeed, which can automatically distribute your content to Twitter and Facebook (if you don’t the mind automation).
• Building an xml sitemap and letting Google know about it in Webmaster Tools.
• Setting up your page URLs and titles to include post/page titles as well as other keywords that stem from either categories or tags.
• Using keywords in the text of headers, taglines, tags and image titles, as well as in your image captions, filenames and alt text.
It’s a lot to think about your first time going through the checklist, but the more you SEO, the more it’ll become habit with everything you post.
And the better you optimize your site, the more likely folks are going to find it and enjoy the crafty creatives and content you publish there.

Finding the Time to Blog

Dec 1, 2013 by     Comments Off on Finding the Time to Blog    Posted under: Blogging Tips

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on ProBlogger.net.

Work. School. Friends. Family … and kids.

We’ve all got a lot going on in our lives, and I haven’t even mentioned our online worlds yet.

Twitter. Facebook. Google Plus. LinkedIn … and Pinterest.

The list is always growing, and as our offline lives get busier and online worlds more cluttered, our blogs are getting more and more neglected.

And while it’s great spending time learning everything the above social sites have to offer, let’s not forget the importance of our own blogs, and the significance of providing readers with quality content. After all, without quality posts, you’ll be slow to take your blog to the next level and will have little original content to push out to your followers. And, in the end, isn’t that what it’s all about? Generating exposure, traffic, leads and potential customers or partners?

That said, here are 10 ways I’ve been able to carve out more blogging time of late – despite running dozens of sites and having our third child in five years this past April. (And if these 10 tips aren’t enough, ProBlogger’s timely Blog Wise eBook will certainly do the trick!)

1. Get up early: There’s nothing better than starting off the day with something you really enjoy, whether it’s a nice jog around the park, a bike ride through town, or a trip to the gym. And if you’re someone who truly enjoys writing, you’ll appreciate making blogging part of your morning routine. Just be sure to do so before you get online and open your inbox. Your writing is more impactful when ideas are fresh in your head – and you aren’t bogged down by your list of tasks for the day.

2. Write at lunch: If you can’t get up early enough to write before work, get away from it all at lunch. Take the iPad or laptop with you to the park, fire it up on a shady bench next to your brown bag and write to your heart’s content.

3. Go offline: No wireless connection at your local lunch getaway? No worries. Disconnecting makes for a distraction-free hour of writing. In fact, while you’re at it, turn off your phone, Twitter alerts, Facebook messages, IM and email inbox – anything that’s going to keep you from getting your thoughts down. And if you get the inspiration to Tweet, take that clever 140-characters and expand on it in a blog post. Remember, it’s better to own your content than get owned by Twitter or Facebook. Make those platforms work for you, not the other way around.

4. Stay up late. All the hustlers do it. And don’t just stay up late and use the “free time” to soak up more David Letterman. Kill your TV and breathe new life into your blog. (<= Tweet this)

As Gary Vaynerchuk writes in Crush It: “If you already have a full-time job, you can get a lot done between 7 p.m. and 2 a.m. (9 p.m. to 3 a.m. if you’ve got kids), so learn to love working during those predawn hours. I promise it won’t be hard if you’re doing what you love more than anything else.”

5. Use an app for that: Don’t have time to post, but have a second to snap a photo? Start photo blogging from your mobile device. Mobile content is becoming a lot more acceptable in today’s blogosphere, whether it’s an inspirational image or an event photo that’s related to your site, snap it and post it in less than a minute. You can use the WordPress app, which allows you to post images, text and even HTML straight from your mobile device. Or set up your blog to allow for email publishing, whether it’s straight from your mobile email client or through a third-party platform such as Flickr – which can auto post images to the site and your blog via email.

6. Use shortcuts: Take advantage of additional WordPress features that streamline posting. For example, did you know you can embed a YouTube video in the body of your WordPress blog by simply pasting in the URL of the video? In the latest version of WordPress, 3.4, you can do the same thing with Tweets, embedding an individual Tweet just by pasting the link to the Tweet in the body of your blog post. Knowing shortcuts and quick tips like this can cut down your “time to publish” considerably.

7. Accept guest posts: I know, it’s your blog, and it’s tough to allow others to post on the site you’ve poured your blood, sweat and tears into. But there comes a time – when either you get too busy or your blog gets too popular – when you have to take a step back and ask for help. It’s a good problem to have if you think about it, because your site has likely scaled to the point where it’s bigger than you ever would have imagined. To keep feeding the content machine, reach out to some folks you trust for regular contributions. Adding different perspectives to your site often brings in new readers, and also encourages those you trust to help build and promote your brand when they post.

8. Hire some help: If you’re not sure where to turn in terms of guest contributors, post an ad on a related freelance board for part-time writers. Be sure to ask candidates to include a résumé and links to 3-5 related blog posts. That way you can see exactly what types of posts you could expect when outsourcing. You never know, you might just find someone who writes as well or, gulp, better than you do!

9. Post different types of content: Have you ever created a video for your audience? How about a podcast? Sometimes turning on a microphone or camera can be easier than sitting down to craft a solid 600-word blog post. As noted earlier, photo blogging or producing short, informative videos or podcasts can be a quick way to whip up new content and complement your writing. And in some cases, audiences respond better to non-traditional content types. New mediums also allow your audience to digest your content on the go, which is becoming increasingly important in this mobile world we live in.

10. Put it down on paper: Maybe it’s the former journalist in me, but I still use an old-fashioned reporter’s notepad to jot down quick notes and sketch out illustrations when I’m not in front of a computer (during my commute, for example). It helps me organize and prioritize my thoughts, and keeps me from cursing iPhone autocorrect fails – which, when funny enough, lead me to waste another 15 minutes ridiculing those blunders with all of you on Twitter.

And that, my fellow bloggers, would be a waste of everyone’s time

Brian Milne is founder of the BlogHyped Network of sites, where bloggers vote up posts and receive valuable links and exposure for their blog. Follow @BMilneSLO on Twitter to share your blog productivity tips and to be featured in his upcoming BlogHyped book on blogging.

Face It: You’re not a Six-Figure Blogger

Jul 28, 2012 by     Comments Off on Face It: You’re not a Six-Figure Blogger    Posted under: Blog, Blogging Tips

Six Figs BloggerSorry to break it to you, but you’re not a six-figure blogger.

Few of us are.

The Five-Figure Blogger, maybe, but it’s going to take years and more hard work than you’ll ever know (and even more luck) before you’re writing the sequel to Darren Rowse’s Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income.

Unfortunately, a majority of bloggers and entreprenewbies are still looking for their first three or four figures from blogging. (This just in, AdSense alone isn’t the answer!)

So before you quit your day job and expect to make “six figs” blogging, temper your expectations and know it’s going to take a lot of hustle before you start generating substantial income online.

I’ve been blogging since the word “blog” was invented in the late 1990s, and my online buddies still call me “Five Figs” as a running joke.

But I have been able to parlay my blogging efforts into some great online marketing jobs, where I’m able to blog away my days and help pay the mortgage and put diapers on the kiddos. And thanks to that online experience, I’m a lot closer to six figures than I was working in the newspaper business.

So I’m not saying you can’t get to six figures, blogging, because we’re still young and there are plenty of posts to be published. It’s just going to take time, lots of it.

But we’ve got to start somewhere, right?

Start Small

First, it’s going to take you either building your own blog, or writing for a blog network or company site that’s willing to compensate you for your posts.

There are pros and cons to both approaches, but you have to start somewhere. You have to create a name for yourself, and you have to figure out what works (and more importantly, what doesn’t) in terms of generating traffic, customers and income. And you’ll never figure out any of it until you try.

If starting your own blog sounds like too much work, start by writing for a site like About.com or Examiner.com, learn the ropes and see what compensation you can expect for being a content producer.

Once you get comfortable blogging, and come up with a legitimate idea for your own blog or online business, use that experience and insight to build a brand for yourself.

Sometimes it pays to blog for the larger blog networks and media sites. Sometimes the experience is the compensation, and you’re probably better off publishing your own content. But only you will know what route is best for your situation, blogging routine, and, more importantly, your lifestyle.

Keep Your Day Job

Again, don’t quit your day job … yet, anyway.

Maybe one day you’ll get to a point where you can choose the blog over corporate America, but in the meantime, you’re going to need to fund your business venture.

And you really do have to look at blogging like a business venture, because if you don’t, blogging will remain a hobby. Not that there’s anything wrong with blogging for the heck of it, I do it all the time when I have something to get off my chest. But if you want to become a six or five-figure blogger, you need to treat your blog like a business and do whatever you have to do to push that business forward.

For those of us who weren’t born with a silver iPad in our hands, that means putting in the work and investing in your business. And you can’t invest if you quit your day job.

Rather than turning up your nose at the corporate mentality, turn around your view of corporate America. Don’t look at your current employer as just another job, look at it as an angel investor for your personal business venture.

All it takes is a change in perspective, to make going to work every day more enjoyable and more worthwhile to yourself personally.

Get Your Hustle On

Once your business plan is set, along with the “funding” to take your site to the next level, then it’s time to put in the real work.

It’s going to take sacrifice and dedication, but that’s how businesses are. Fortunately for you, you’re going the online route, where the risks are nowhere near as substantial as starting up brick-and-mortar businesses in our current economy.

The challenging part of online business is the grind, cranking out content, promoting, online marketing, networking and handling the business development side of things – all by yourself.

But once you get all of those areas of your online business squared away, you’ll know you’re on the right track … the track to become a six- (or maybe a five-) figure bloggers.

Good luck on your adventure, and please don’t forget the little three- and four-figure bloggers when you make it big!

Top 25 WordPress Plugins

Jul 22, 2012 by     Comments Off on Top 25 WordPress Plugins    Posted under: Blog, Blogging Tips

wordpress blog tips

I’m participating in #blogchat tonight and figured I’d compile a post of my Top 25 WordPress plugins.

Now this list pulls from plugins I’ve been using over the years for this site, BallHyped.com, BlogHyped.com and with larger content sites that use WordPress such as About.com as well as a handful of newspaper sites.

The good news is most of these plugins are free and can be found at WordPress.org. A couple haven’t yet made it into the repository for one reason or another but can be installed manually if need be.

Either way, it’s best to use a plugin that’s been tested by the community and has a positive user rating and has been updated recently. You should also back up your files and have FTP access (in case your site goes down and you have to manually uninstall any plugins you’ve added from the WordPress admin) before installing any new plugins.

Back to the point of this post, which is highlight what are historically my top 25 WordPress plugins. While there are hundreds of plugins, these are the ones I feel are most useful for day-to-day WordPress users: Read more »

Create Your own Social Media Site with BuddyPress

Apr 2, 2012 by     Comments Off on Create Your own Social Media Site with BuddyPress    Posted under: Blog, Blogging Tips

buddypress blog tipsIt’s been called everything from “social networking in a box” to “Facebook without the terms of service,” but until earlier this year, BuddyPress was a relatively unknown outside the WordPress MU (multiple user) community.

The release of BuddyPress 1.2 last month is starting to change that, making it possible to add a social networking layer to the standard, self-hosted version of WordPress (AKA, the WordPress.org install) for the first time.

(Note: BuddyPress can’t be installed on WordPress.com-hosted blogs.)

So, if you like Facebook or MySpace, but aren’t a fan of the terms of service or other fallbacks of those sites, BuddyPress allows you to set up your own social network for your WordPress site with the features that work for you and your community.

And, it’s open source and GPL licensed, just like WordPress.

By following these three easy steps, you’ll be able to install BuddyPress on your existing WordPress install and turn your blog into a fully functioning social networking site:

1. Back up your site/database and install WordPress, if you haven’t already.

If you’re new to WordPress, jumping into BuddyPress isn’t a good idea. Learn the ropes of WordPress before you starting digging into BuddyPress. WordPress.org has a good installation guide if you’re installing WordPress for the first time.

Back up your files again in case anything happens during the BuddyPress install. A majority of database errors and site breakdowns occur during upgrades or installations of new plugin or themes – and installing BuddyPress is like doing all of the above at once.

2. Go to your Plugins page within WordPress and “Add New,” searching the WordPress repository for the BuddyPress plugin. It might not be the first plugin on the list, so be sure to install the plugin entitled BuddyPress 1.2.1 by The BuddyPress Community.

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After installing BuddyPress from your dashboard, go to “Plugins” and click on the “Activate” link to get the BuddyPress code up and running.

You can also download BuddyPress manually, just like WordPress, just make sure you upload it to /wp-content/plugins/buddyp

ress/ on your server and enable permalink support from your WordPress dashboard (Settings –> Permalinks) so that the added BuddyPress pages function properly.

3. Activate the BuddyPress theme of your choice, or use the BuddyPress Template Pack plugin to make it work with your current WordPress theme. This theme simply walks you through the steps of integrating your WordPress theme with BuddyPress, but be sure to double check your theme doesn’t break with the BP install.

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The first couple WP themes I tried all had issues with the navigation after installing BuddyPress, so I had to go with one of BP’s themes, which I tweaked to resemble my old WP site.

The good news being most of what you do with the themes and the BuddyPress Template Pack is reversible and doesn’t affect existing template files.

So, tinker with it. See if your theme can coexist with BuddyPress, and if not, check out the latest BuddyPress themes from your WordPress dashboard by going to Appearance –> Add New Themes and searching the tag “buddypress.”

You can also find BP themes at sites such as:
http://freebpthemes.com/
http://diesellaws.com/
http://www.michaelkuhlmann.com/b2/

If you’re unsure about whether to add a social networking layer to your site, check out BuddyPress’ demo site to get a feel for what it’s all about.

So that’s about as basic as you can get with BuddyPress. To see what you can really do with it, check out some BuddyPress-built sites such as VW Tank Wars, Eco Living and Tasty Kitchen.

There’s also a long list of plugins to mold and tweak BuddyPress into a social networking platform that fits your site.

For more on BuddyPress, check out BuddyPress.org.

Blogging for Mobile and Today’s Busy Readers

Nov 1, 2011 by     Comments Off on Blogging for Mobile and Today’s Busy Readers    Posted under: Blog, Blogging Tips

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on ProBlogger.net by Brian Milne.

As far as you know, your blog is mobile friendly.

You’ve optimized the design for mobile devices using plugins such as WPtouch. You’ve started serving Google mobile ads. Heck, you even have your own mobile app.

But are you turning away mobile readers with your content? Are your 2,000-word posts, bogged down with 200-DPI images and run-on sentences, negating all your other efforts? Read more »

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