Monthly Archives: October 2015

wordpress logo screensaver

Reasons to Choose WordPress for Your Blogging Platform

WordPress has become the de-facto standard for blogging. While there are more than a dozen different blogging platform from which to choose, an overwhelming majority of bloggers prefer WordPress. In fact, some estimates suggest there to be more than 74 million WordPress blogs and sites online.

So, why do so many bloggers prefer WordPress over the likes of Joomla, Drupal, Blogger, Tumblr, and similar platforms?

WordPress Is Free

Yep, WordPress — both the hosted and self-hosted version — is free to download and use with no strings attached. This is in stark contrast to many other blogging platforms, some of which charge monthly or yearly subscription fees to use. If you’re looking for an inexpensive solution for your blogging needs, check out WordPress.

Installation Is Quick and Easy

Setting up a blogging platform on a new domain may sound like a difficult and daunting task. After all, you must create a new database and connect it to your blog. With WordPress, though, installation is quick and easy. It’s so easy, in fact, that just about anyone can set up a new WordPress site in just 5 minutes or less. Furthermore, many server control panels come with pre-installed scripts that allow users to set up new WordPress installations in just a single click. Setting up a new blog or website doesn’t get any easier than this!

WYSIWYG and Code Editor

WordPress offers both a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) and code editor. If you want to embed media into a post or page, you can do with the code editor. But if you simply want to publish an article or blog post, you can use the standard WYSIWYG editor. The ability to switch between the two editors is a huge plus that shouldn’t go unnoticed.

Plugins, Plugins, Plugins!

Arguably, one of the greatest benefits of using WordPress is the vast array of plugins it offers. A plugin is essentially an optional file or group of files that is intended to add new functionality to a WordPress site or modify an existing feature. Plugins can perform a wide range of tasks, such as automatically creating an XML sitemap file, enabling browser caching, filtering spam comments, and removing duplicate content. Rather than hard-coding these features directly into your blog, just download and activate the appropriate plugin!

Easily Change Your Blog’s Design

With WordPress, you can change your blog’s design with the click of a button. WordPress supports interchangeable templates known as themes. If you want to use a new color scheme and layout, for instance, just find and activate a new theme. Within seconds, you’ll have a brand new design for your blog. Keep in mind, however, that you may have to update your navigation menus and links after switching to a new theme.

Have any other blogging tips that you would like to share with our readers? Let us know in the comments section below!

Blogging reputation words of wisdom

How to Manage Your Blogging Reputation

As a blogger, your reputation is everything. If people view you as being untrustworthy, fake, or too “generic,” it’s doubtful they will follow your blog. But if you are able to create and maintain a positive reputation, you’ll have an easier time connecting with your audience and building a strong following.

Take TechCrunch founder and blogger Michael Arrington, for instance. Most tech enthusiasts are well aware of his credibility on the web.  And according to the website TheRichest, Arrington is the world’s richest blogger, earning an estimated $500,000 to $800,000. While there are countless elements that are attributed to his success, it’s safe to assume that a positive reputation is one of them.

So, how can you manage your online reputation as blogger?

Think Twice Before Posting

Whether you are writing a short 300-word post or a longer 1,000-word post, always read back over it before posting. Could the post be perceived as offensive in any way? Does it contain questionable or inaccurate information? If so, you should probably delete or modify it. When blogging, you want to put your best foot forward, and this means only publishing high-quality content that’s not going to offend your readers. Granted, you can always delete questionable content after publishing it, but it might be too late if visitors have already copied it and posted it elsewhere on the web.

Register Your Domain Name

If you haven’t done so already, scoop up the dot com, dot net and dot org of your first and last name. Why is this important? Well, someone like a competitor or unhappy visitor could register these domain names in an attempt to rank for search queries consisting of your first and last name. Let’s say your name is Joe Bob (lovely name, huh?). Knowing that you are a popular, well-known blogger, a competitor may register www.joebob.com, placing a simple redirect script on the website to funnel visitors to his or her own website. If Google ranks joebob.com high in the search results for “Joe Bob,” your competitor could benefit from tons of practically free traffic.

Create a Google+ Profile

In addition to registering your first and last name as domains, you should also create a Google+ profile to better manage your reputation as a blogger. Having a profile will allow you to brand yourself by revealing information like your name, age, country/state of origin, blog URL, and more. Once created, Google will display a link to your profile in its search results, at which point visitors can click the link to learn more about you.

Use Your Name

If you want to create a positive reputation for yourself as a blogger, be sure to use either your real name or a pen name when blogging. I always cringe when I come across posts created by the “admin,” as it doesn’t feel very personal. A better approach is to use either your actual name or a faux pen name.

How do you manage your online blogging reputation? Let us know in the comments section below!

Image attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/krossbow/

tools for better blog topics

Tools to Uncover New Topic Ideas for Your Blog

Can’t seem to think new topic ideas for your blog? It’s next-to-impossible to maintain a successful blog unless you are publishing fresh new content on a regular basis.

Regardless of your blog’s niche, you can uncover topics by using the tools listed below.

Google Trends

If you aren’t using Google Trends, you are missing out on one of the easiest ways to uncover hot new topics for your blog. The homepage of Google Trends will reveal some of the day’s most trending Google Search keywords. This alone can prove useful in identifying trends for which you can blog about.

But if you really want to go the extra mile, try searching for a keyword associated with your blog’s niche in the search box at the top. Google Trends will display a chart of the keyword’s search popularity, as well as its projected popularity. Remember, you want to blog about topics that are currently and/or expected to be popular. If a topic is trending downwards, it’s best to avoid it.

Topsy

Another excellent tool for bloggers is Topsy. Technically, Topsy is a “Twitter, Search, Monitoring and Analytics” tool, for which it does phenomenally well. But you can also use it to find new topic ideas for your blog. Upon visiting the homepage, enter a keyword that’s associated with your blog’s niche into the search box. Topsy will then reveal tweets containing the keyword. You can narrow your selection down by adjusting the settings on the left side of the page. If you only want to search for photos, for instance, change the search option from “Everything” to “Photos.”

Hubspot Blog Topic Generator

The Internet marketing website Hubspot has a nifty little Blog Topic Generator that does just that: reveals topic ideas based on your keyword selection. I searched for the keyword “Chihuahuas,” and it revealed the following five topic ideas:

  1. Think You’re Cut Out for Raising a Chihuahua?
  2. Take This Quiz: Why We Love Chihuahuas (And You Should, Too!)
  3. 10 Quick Tips About Chihuahua
  4. How to Solve the Biggest Problems With Chihuahuas
  5. 15 best blogs to follow about Chihuahuas

While they aren’t the most thoughtful topic ideas, the Hubspot Blog Topic Generator is still a fun tool that can spark some ideas of your own. Oh yeah, did I mention that it’s free to use.

Google News

We can’t talk about blogging tools to uncover new topic ideas without mentioning Google News. The search engine giant’s “News” platform is updated with timely current event-style web postings within minutes of them being published. Just head over the Google News, enter a relevant keyword, and Google News will reveal recent web postings containing that keyword. Keep in mind that most of these ideas will be time-sensitive, not evergreen. In other words, you’ll need to craft a new post about the topic in a timely manner; otherwise, it will become irrelevant to your target audience.

Which tools do you use to uncover new topic ideas? Let us know in the comments section below!

Image attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/soniabelviso/

domain - subdomain word cloud

Is It Okay to Blog on a Subdomain?

One of the first steps in launching a new blog is to decide whether you want it on a dedicated, new domain, or as a subdomain of an existing website that you own. Subdomains are essentially websites that are prefixed to the URL of another domain name, such as blog.yourwebsite.com. The hosted version of WordPress allows users to create blogs for free, assuming they use their subdomain (e.g. yourblog.wordpress.com). This begs the question, however: is it okay to blog on a subdomain?

Benefits of Blogging on a Subdomain

Let’s first talk about the benefits of blogging on a subdomain. For starters, using a subdomain eliminates the need to buy/register a new domain na me. Domain names aren’t necessarily expensive, but they will still set you back about $12-$20 bucks per year. Rather than footing the bill for a new domain, you can launch a blog on an existing domain that you own, saving you a little bit of cash in the process. Subdomains may also prove beneficial in cases where it is attached to a popular, established website. While Google has said that it treats subdomains as independent websites, many SEO experts argue that there’s some correlation between the subdomain and domain on which it is attached. In other words, setting up a blog on a popular website may yield higher search rankings for the blog.

Disadvantages of Blogging on a Subdomain

But there are also some potential disadvantages of blogging on a subdomain. Subdomains are incredibly difficult for visitors to remember, which means fewer returning visits. If a user wanted to visit a blog on a subdomain, he or she would have to type in the full URL in their web browser — this includes both the prefix blog name, as well as the main domain. If the user only types one or other, they won’t be able to access the blog. Subdomains also rely on the web hosting of the original domain. If the hosting for your primary domain goes down (it’s bound to happen sooner or later), so will your blog. With a dedicated domain, you can set up a separate web hosting service for your blog.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, there are both advantages and disadvantages associated with blogging on a subdomain. Setting up your blog on a subdomain is cheaper, and some people would argue that it’s easier, but doing so may have a negative impact on the number of return visits it receives. If you are serious about blogging and willing to invest the necessary time and resources into it, you should probably stick with a dedicated domain. More returning visits means greater engagement, and that often yields higher search rankings. Don’t take my word for it, though. Perform a side-by-side test of two separate blogs, one on a dedicated domain and another on a subdomain, to see which one outperforms the other. Click to learn more information about the differences between domains and subdomains. What are your thoughts on subdomains for blogs? Let us know in the comments section below! Image attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/india_7/

Medium

Blogging Platform ‘Medium’ Receives $400m Valuation

Move over WordPress, there’s a new blogging platform that’s gaining momentum.

Medium, a three-year blogging platform launched by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, raised $57 million in a recent round of fundraising led by Andreessen Horowitz and Google Ventures. According to unnamed sources at Recode, this places the new platform’s value at a jaw-dropping $400 million.

So, what is Medium and why are so many people eager to invest in it? The platform was designed to encourage users to write posts that are longer than the 140 characters — the maximum number of characters allowed in a tweet. Williams wanted to create a platform that was as easy to use as Twitter, but offered greater flexibility in terms of content creation and networking. Just one year after launching Medium, there were 30 full-time workers keeping the platform afloat.

Medium continues to grow larger and more widespread with each passing month. Much like WordPress and Blogger, it offers a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSISYG) visual editor complete with font type, font size, font color, and other formatting options. Creating blog posts is a breeze thanks to Medium’s WYSIWYG editor, as it eliminates the need for messing with complicated code.

But there’s another benefit to using Medium that shouldn’t be overlooked: it’s integration of an up-vote feature. Much like Digg and Reddit, users can up-vote their favorite posts. Posts with a high number of up-votes generally receive more traffic, simply because users assume these posts are higher quality than posts with a few-to-no up-votes. Bloggers can also share new posts with users after publishing. Once you publish a new post, simply click the “share” option to share it with your followers.

At Medium we operate in a fundamentally different way. We don’t focus on pageviews, unique visitors, or click metrics. We don’t litter the platform with ads that are low quality, high clutter. We don’t tolerate bad behavior in the community. And we don’t violate people’s privacy, wrote Medium in a recent blog post.

We aim to surface quality. Every action on Medium is shared with our network, meaning everyone is an influencer. Whether you post, highlight, recommend, or respond — Medium helps you move other people, see issues through a different lens, change minds, and inspire action. We are confident this is the best model for both creators and audiences in the long run,” they went on to say.

Is Medium the right blogging platform for you? Being that it’s free to use with no strings attached, it’s certainly worth checking out. Medium is fast, user-friendly, well-designed, and loaded with features.

Then again, Medium has some major drawbacks that restrict its effectiveness as a blogging platform.

For starters, Medium doesn’t offer the same amount of themes and plugins as WordPress. One of the reasons why WordPress is the world’s leading blogging platform is because of its vast library consisting of tens of thousands of themes and plugins, many of which were developed by third-party companies and coders. Because Medium is still relatively new, it lacks this same level of community support; therefore, bloggers won’t have access to the same number of themes and plugins as supported by WordPress.

Have you blogged with Medium? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!