Trying To Do The One Thing That Leads To Better Blog Success

Write

That is the one regret for my blogging in the past ten years. I should have developed the habit of writing … more … longer posts… greater frequency.

I am convinced that today’s blogosphere requires a regular writing schedule. And the more we write the better we become. The only caveat is that when we speed up our output, our writing will deteriorate.

So, a balance of well-written articles that are posted with regular frequency is key to growing a blog.

My main advice on posting frequency is to be consistent and keep the quality of your posts as high as possible.Problogger Darren Rowse

See, Darren said it long before I realized, the hard way, how important this is to blogging.

Will It Translate To Dollars?

source: Ilona Erwin
source: Ilona Erwin

I don’t believe it will translate to very much of an increase of income on its own, no.

Growing a business online is a changing proposition, and I don’t claim to be an expert on what creates success in earning an income from a blog.  Just reporting on what I and others are experiencing.

I will say that even very successful bloggers are struggling with blogs alone. It is becoming harder.

Factors in the changes:

  • Google has changed what it demands for good search engine placement and ranking
  • Readers are more sophisticated in what they do and what they desire.
  • Competition has gone through the roof! There is an explosion of blogs in every conceivable subject.

Hard Work Is Key

This has always been true in every endeavor, especially when competition picks up, the way it has on the web.

Observations And Advice Out There

More traffic, more clicks but each click was worth less. Hey Google, I held up my end of the bargain – made my websites better. You screwed up yours. Work harder, work smarter, still make less money.Doug Green

A garden writer I like and who has been thriving in the past with his blogging and writing has revealed some of his present disappointment and struggle with trying to make an online business and living income.

What are some observations?

  • Google adsense income is a small fraction of what it was… sometimes only pennies, literally. I have noticed this in my own sites. but not just Google, other sources of ad income are also smaller and more difficult to earn.
  • It is hard to capture peoples interest and loyalty. a lot of work on social media is a necessity.
  • Peripheral efforts are a must: a newsletter, at the most basic, podcasts, youtube video, e-books. These are all part of the package. Each having its own learning curve and work to produce.

Don’t Get Discouraged

This is meant to give a realistic view, not to discourage anyone.

There are lots of varying factors, including the niche you choose to write within, your ability to catch opportunity and see trends (or fall into them!), and many others.

But if you are going to blog, commit yourself to writing frequently and as well as possible.

I do have to say that I have always put real life first, and that meant blogging had to take a back seat. I also spent lots of time learning things, and not always “producing”.

The lesson there? Do what is best in your own life, and don’t apologize for it or waste time regretting the trade-offs.

There are lots of gains that aren’t quantified by dollars and cents in these blogging efforts of ours.

Keep at it. Keep improving and make your mark on the world- your own way.

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Where Did I Go On Periscope?

After an initial blitz of Periscope videotaping, I left it except for a few scattered attempts that didn’t last very long. Will I return? Maybe. Here is what happened; what I think of Periscope, then and now; and whether and when I will return.

First, watch this, a Periscope, WordPress, related review that I posted on Youtube:

That was one of my last major “broadcasts”.

I got a bit bored with Periscope, and found it less useful for Youtube than I’d hoped. To be fair, I haven’t done any Youtube uploads for a long time either.

Here are some quick downsides which lead to my hiatus:

Periscope

  • I just didn’t know what to do with it. Tried thinking about making a loose script, topics, times to broadcast, and making graphics for the background ( when using for Youtube). It all seemed too hard, complex, and I went on to other stuff in life.
  • This reason will arise in the Youtube video, too: I feel self-conscious about how I look on tape. The work involved in makeup, hairstyling, lighting, and clothes just is more than I can manage much of the time.
  • Lest you think that is vain of me, it also has to do with the fact that I am a low energy person and feel I should be “up” and energetic to make the best video for my audience. I think you deserve my best and when I can’t give it I stop writing, making video or broadcasting. Who wants to see someone depressed or complaining? I don’t, and I don’t want to dump that on the public. This is different than being real. Real is good, but just being blah and bummed, uh, no.
  • I get bored with Periscope. And sometimes annoyed.
  • Still on the upward trek of the learning curve makes it a lot of effort for me and I wanted to write and garden more, and get my life a little more together.

OK- that was all the downside… I am going to write an upside later, after I rework my plan for how I want to divide my time making content. I also have considered podcasting which would take a couple of my barriers out of the way. Undecided at this point.

YOUTUBE

Yes. I basically really love Youtube. I want to do more and have unedited video in the wings. Here are the reasons I haven’t put anything new on my channels:

  • Getting ready for a video: hair, makeup, energy, mood, script ( which I have avoided thus far, but feel is needed)
  • Editing and learning new software. I have some super duper things to work with but I am UNLEARN-ED. My learning curve is presently tripping me up. I hope the new year allows me to master my video making skills.
  • Garden video requires the above plus the outdoors. I had some problems with the fact that I bought things with WIRES. Why? I need wireless mics etc for outdoors.
  • And I am lazy. I am lazy with cameras. I like to think about a picture or video, but not actually go and get a camera. I like to live my life and not record it. That prevents me from making Youtube uploads.
  • I have little confidence in this medium. I feel like an idiot. Most of the time I manage to overcome this when making something to post, but it hits harder in video.

These weren’t excuses, though it might come off that way. These are the reasons I have been slow to produce new stuff. But I wanted to give something of a review/ slash explanation that I fully intend to come back strong this year. Unless I die or something like that.

Predicted dates for new content:

I will make several Youtube videos over the next couple months, for both my channels. February for sure, later this month is a maybe.

I may return before then, but I like to Periscope outdoors, and that means I won’t resume until spring unless I change my mind. If you follow me on social media channels, a real return to Periscope, with intention, will be trumpeted before I broadcast next time.

That is what is happening in the filming side of my creative endeavors… what’s new with you?

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Site Themes And Plugins

What Do They Do?

Why should you care about your website theme or plugins? And I’m not just talking about WordPress, but those for any platform, including Joomla. At any point when a plugin or a new theme is called for, they all do just one thing:

They Solve A Problem

The gist of it is that when you want a type of layout, or certain functions in your website, or ease of custom features, you will (eventually)  look for a theme that will give you what you are looking for…

Some of these themes will include the plugins built-in (sliders, anyone?) More and more, these problem solvers will simply be plugins.

Do you wish to have a recipe that can be indexed and printed? There are plugins for that,

Would you like to reduce the size of your photos automatically? Plugins will accomplish that task.

Need help with the mysteries of SEO? Plugins can solve this problem.

In fact, this is why there are so very many of them available, and they are both free and premium in just about every blogging platform: they do all sorts of coding and create answers to your need for everything from an ecommerce site to adding easy ways to post to social media.

Just.About. Everything.

The difficulty is choosing the best ones to add style or function to your own blog.

Quickly, what to look for?

  • Ratings.  See what users think about the themes and plugins you are considering.
  • Updates. Plugins can have vulnerabilities, and need to be kept updated if at all possible.
  • Support. If there is good support from a community or developer, it can help trouble shoot when not working right with your site. What good is a plugin that doesn’t work or causes problems… or becomes unusable after platform updates?
  • Function. It does what you need without unnecessary bloat. Plugins, too big or too many, can slow your site.

So basically that is what your theme, with its built-in plugins and setup, and the plugins themselves will do… they are meant to solve your problems and meet your needs. Blogwise, anyway.

 

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Setting Up Your Blog

For those who have already:

  • Purchased their hosting
  • Purchased and set up their domain name
  • Installed their WordPress installation

This is a checklist of sorts for setting up a blog that will work well in the longrun.

Permalinks

First, change the permalinks from the default setup.

At first the blog will have a permalink address based on numbers. It looks like this:

http://www.yourdomain.com/?p=123

The permalinks left like that will not be good for SEO, since urls are important keys in determining what the page is about.
Yoast, a well known WordPress expert who develops very useful plugins (a word about those later in the post), recommends simply using the

 /%postname%/

He also has a tool and instructions for those of us who set up their blog long ago. Change Your Permalinks Structure in WordPress. which I followed, just today, in fact.

Mine involved adding a line of code to my htaccess file ( which is a little scary for non-coders like me).

So my best advice for you, if setting up your blog for the first time is to make sure your permalinks use the post name choice unless you are a news magazine of some sort.

Themes For Your Second Setup Task

Pick a theme. This could be harder than it seems, due in part to the sheer number of them, and the fact that a good theme for you is one that caters to the way you will use WordPress.

I think one way to save time is to sign up with a major theme developer. One of the best is Studiopress, with their Genesis framework. I used them in the beginning and sometime’s wish I had stayed with them, although I am also happy with my present Elegant themes choice.

Of course there are good ones that are completely free, and I tend to use the ones that ship with the new updates for the WP.

After choosing which one, follow these steps to install it.

  1. Download and unzip the theme.
  2. Use a ftp client (Filezilla is free) or your file manager to upload the theme files to the wp-content/themes
  3. Login to the admin section. Click on “Appearance” then click on “Themes”.
  4. Look for the name and picture of your theme. You can either preview the theme or activate it from there.
  5. Customize it if you wish by choosing the “Customize” link.

You can also search for and upload new themes directly on the Appearance/ Themes page. I prefer this way:

  1. Choose a zipped theme file and upload it.
  2. Customize. That’s it!

For much deeper detail on choosing your themes, check this page.

Or use one of the fine professional ones listed here (affilate link).

Foodie Pro
Thesis Theme for WordPress: Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community

Adding Plugins

Plugins vastly expand the things your blog can do. They add function without the need to know code, and go digging around in Php pages. From free to premium, these plugins can do many things from creating an ecommerce store to sitemaps. I use many, including those which serve up recipes, protect my blog, and the jetpack group of a wide range of plugins.

The one caution is to not install too many or untrusted ones. They can slow down your site, unnecessarily or open vulnerabilities.

My report on the ones I use, WP Plugins.

These are the basic things you will need to setup, after which it is time to write, write, write, and join social media.

But those are topics for another time.

Can you earn income with Zazzle?

Zazzle Income For Beginners

Zazzle is set up to share profits, through royalties and referrals with their members.

Whether you can earn income is a mixed bag of answers. Many people do earn well, and it must be stated that they probably work very hard at it.

I have read many statements in the forums and elsewhere that provide insights into their process. Most devote several hours each day to making their stores successful.

It is not easy money, but it can be part of a business.

I have done better when I invested more time into improving my store with keywords, designing products, and paying attention to examples from the top trending products.

I make less now than a couple years ago, which may be due to a number of changes that the site has made. My own intention is to work on my brand, improve my techniques and designs, and make more products.

That is also the advice I give you.

It remains to be seen whether the referrals will produce any income, as of now, it doesn’t. (For me, I can’t speak for everyone). It could be that there is too much competition for the casual presentation of products.

Collections

A recent way of showcasing products is the set of collections. Curated by you, these are a way to promote either your own or fellow Zazzler’s work. To complete your profile you make a certain number of collections which are then shown on the stores you own. You can choose which stores a collection appears within.

They work very much like a Pinterest board, just on a smaller scale.

Tips For The Zazzle Entrepreneur

Zazzle Income How-To

Here are the tips I have gathered and learned through my own experience.

  • It is a numbers game- make lots and lots of designs and products for Zazzle income results.
  • Pay close attention to keywords and learning about SEO for Zazzle as well as for your blog.
  • Use your social media to gain interest in your stores and designs.
  • Investigate the idea of designing around a niche. The fact that you can have multiple (free) stores encourages and facilitates this.
  • The forums are very informative, visit there for the new products, helpful tips, and troubleshooting.
  • Set up a blog for showcasing your work. Write posts about the designs or the products. Or related topics such as baby shower parties, wedding invitation tips, birthday party themes, etc.

 


I am beginning to try to use more posts to showcase great products and designs… a type of “curation post”. I will report on whether this has any effect on referral income for me, and let you know what the practices are that result in income from Zazzle.

I tried to sign up as an affiliate for them, but that didn’t work out. The affiliate process from the site itself is what I must use.

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