Appendix - Blogging

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Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after. — Anne Morrow Lindbergh

So you want to be a blogger.

The next question that you need ask yourself is what you are looking for out of blogging. Do you think of blogging as a mode of personal expression, a place for you to share your thoughts and feelings about a subject of interest, a past time to break up the monotony of your work day? Or, are you looking to use blogging as an extension of your career?

Do you want to create a blog to share your expertise, find new clients and network with other members of your industry? Maybe your ambitions go even deeper and you want to build your blog into a New Media empire, earning an income from advertising and growing a substantial audience base? If you fall into the first category, my advice can be summarized as follows:

  • Go to Tumblr (
  • Sign up for an account.
  • Add content until you are blue in the face.
  • Eventually get bored of speaking to yourself.
  • Retire from blogging satisfied with your experience.

For everyone else, the road to your dream of becoming a successful blogger is quite a bit more difficult. Like anything else though, the first step is to assess your skills.

Assess Your Skills

Blogging is a hard, thankless job. For the early part of your career you are going to be writing to the void, producing content that you feel is good that no one is reading. It is going to seem like no matter how much work you put into it you’ll never achieve that success of your peers. What you need to understand is that if you have these basic skills, no matter how futile it seems you can still succeed — without them, it is going to be an uphill battle.

  • Do you like to write?
  • Do you know how to write?
  • Do you have a working knowledge of a specific subject matter or the willingness to learn one?
  • Do you have a lot of free time on your hands?
  • Are you patient?

Number three and number five are by far the most important items of this list. As a blogger who is trying to earn part of your living from writing, you must have an open mind and you must be willing to learn. Sometimes, you’ll find yourself reading your 500th guide to increasing your traffic, ready to kill the next person who links you the list of free directories that you must submit your site to when you’ll stumble upon a really exciting tip that you can put to good use. You play so many roles as a blogger than you must constantly be adding tools to your arsenal. If you think that you can just write a good article and the world will flock to see it, you are sadly mistaken.

Patience comes a very close second to the willingness to learn.

The first three months of your blogging career are going to be painful.

  • No search engine traffic.
  • No credibility.
  • No content.

What this means is that your traffic is going to be bad. No, let me expand on that — your traffic is going to be really bad. It is going to be so bad, in fact, that you will wonder how anyone could possibly go from where you are to attracting hundreds of thousands of people a month. You need to be able to accept this, take hope in the fact that you’ve laid the right foundation and keep chugging away. Every great blogger started exactly where you are, if they could do it there is no reason to think that you cannot.

Tip: Blog Carnivals are places where you can submit articles. If you are accepted, links to these articles will be posted on the host site. Not only does this generate traffic but because of the number of carnivals that are syndicated, it will also generate quite a few links back to your site.

Find a Niche

Before becoming serious about blogging you must have been wondering exactly what you could write about. Fortunately, the answer to that question is “anything.” As long as you are passionate about the subject matter and know enough about it to write fresh content everyday, the skies are open to you.

This is still my answer if the point of your blog is to be a more detailed version of your resume. In this case, pick a subject related to the industry in which you work and share the fruits of your wisdom.

Now, let’s say you are trying to make money. In this case, your options are more limited. Let me tell you a little story about how keywords are sold which might help you choose your niche more wisely.

High-Definition TV vs. Cheese Graters

As a marketer responsible for buying advertising the point of your job is to select the websites and keywords that will produce the most conversions. Conversion, in this case, is the act of someone going from viewing your advertisement on a site to actually purchasing your product.

As a result, marketers are much more willing to spend large amounts of money to buy conversions that will make them the most money in return. If the point of buying advertising is to sell products, and as a blogger a part of your job is to produce the conversions that sell those products, then if you are writing a site about High-Definition Television or Yachts, the conversions that you produce will be worth a lot more money than if you wrote about cheese graters.

Honestly, how many cheese graters can you really sell?

If you’re at a loss for traditionally high yield topics, here are a few to get you started.

  • Law
  • Real Estate
  • SEO / Online Marketing
  • Consumer Electronics

Here is the caveat, just because the preceding topics will make you a bit more money in the short term compared to writing about cheese graters, also remember that advertisers pay for the number of conversions that you can generate. If .01% of the people who go to your site about HD Televisions ever click on an advertisement, while 15% of the people who go to your cheese grater site do, smart advertisers will be much more interested in your cheese graters.

If you need more proof, think about any blog that you have ever seen that has made you want to cringe, either because it looked like it was slapped together from a child’s Make Your First Website kit, or because the content managed to be both mindless and repetitive at the same time. Chances are it is only one of 50 other sites that someone created simply to host Adsense using lists like the one I gave you above to choose the keywords. There is even a chance that some of these schemes are making a bit of money, but like anything that seems to good to be true it is.

Advertisement providers like Google are constantly working on ways to lock scammers out of the market. Since much of your early income will likely be tied to Google and their Adsense program, it is almost always a bad idea to tie your business model to a scheme that they are actively trying to eliminate. Even more important, sites that attempt to bloat revenues through keyword scamming often do so at the expense of quality content. Without quality content you are likely to miss out on the often more lucrative intangible benefits of blogging.

How do I choose my niche then?

Choose your niche by recognizing your strengths and using some basic psychology. Lets say, for example, you are a Lawyer by trade. You could always write a blog about Law in general, knowing that Law blogs tend to generate lucrative advertising opportunities but if you do you would be selling yourself short. The problem comes when you ask yourself, who will actually come to your site to read your musings on case law? In many cases, the only people who will care are law students, law enthusiasts and other lawyers.

These people, while a wonderful niche to attract, don’t fall into demographics that typically respond well to advertisements and they also don’t represent a large portion of public at large.

How could this idea be made better?

Instead of taking such a general approach, focus your attention on answering common questions about particular areas of law. Maybe you know a lot about Real Estate law, or maybe Entertainment law is your specialty in either case by providing a platform for people to ask questions and get answers about law you make your audience a lot more general. Quite a few people who might not otherwise care about law, will use search engines to seek out information if they have a legal question. If you can build yourself up as a source of answers, this can go a long way towards bolstering your reputation, attracting new clients, and making yourself some extra money off of the site itself.


Decide on a subject that you are comfortable writing about.

Decide on a niche within that subject that future advertisers may have some interest in. Remember not to throw out a perfectly good topic just to try to squeeze a few more drops out of Adsense.

Focus or expand your niche as necessary to bring in your target audience.

Tip: Use mod-rewrite to change the way that your permalinks are presented. Having your articles labeled with is a great way to ruin your search engine placement. If you’re using Wordpress go to Admin->Options->Permalink to change how your permalinks are displayed to something prettier, I’d suggest /%category/%postname/.

Pick a Domain

Tip: The most important SEO tip that you can possible get: make sure that your domain name contains the keywords that you want to be found in search engines for.

Before the first Internet bubble, a great domain was one that you could plaster all over a billboard. It was a name like Amazon or eBay. Domain names all took their cues from the world of terrestrial marketing, the good ones were both highly brandable and easy to remember.

After the web imploded and the Wild West era of web development ground to a halt, good developers have become more practical. While it is still important to make certain that your name is unique and eye-catching, a great domain name is more than that. A great domain, from a marketer’s perspective, is the type of name that the great unwashed masses will enter into their browsers at a statistically higher than average rate. Thus, or are much more valuable in today’s landscape than

Finding a Name

If this is the first time you have ever tried to register a domain name, you may be surprised at just how many of them have already been snapped up. Most people who have spent any amount of time in the domain business believe that all the great names have been taken. Great names as defined as nouns, three letter combinations and most words that fall under the canon of English grammar.

I would love to give you better news but I am not going to lie to you, between domain squatters, spam blogs and a host of legitimate and illegitimate web enterprises, almost all of these really great names are under the control of someone who is not you.

That does mean you can’t find a diamond in the rough, it just means that you are going to have to try a bit harder than a decade ago.

For this example, lets say that you are a Realtor in Newark, New Jersey who wants to write a blog about the rental market there. Your first bet might be to pick a name like or A quick look at any of the major domain brokers will show you that both of these names are quite taken. If you took a better look in hopes of pricing these domains so that you could buy them from their respective owners, you’d realize that the cost of purchasing either of these names is many times the valuation of any project that you could come up with to use them.

So what is a burgeoning digital entrepreneur to do? It’s time to step back and think about your market.

Who are you really trying to reach? After some consideration you realize that the goal of this blog is to help your business. You business involves renting homes to people living in New Jersey and the surrounding areas. Keeping these things in mind, begins to seem a little too general. While you welcome anyone to come read your content, someone from Juno showing up at your website isn’t helping you rent those homes in Newark.

Alright, time to check on the availability of something a little more focused, Once again, you come up with nothing. This is likely to be the pattern you will have to suffer through for a while. If it sounds like a good name, chances are someone has already snapped it up. At this point you might be wondering about .net and .org domains. There is a very good chance that you will have an easier time finding an acceptable name using one of these alternatives. Why should you think twice then before purchasing one then?

Simply, the internet is a percentages game.

People know, trust and are used to .com. When they think of domains, they think of them in terms of .com. When your average consumer types a domain into their web browser, by default they will append .com to the end. That means that if you decide to choose .net or .org, there is a good chance you will end up sending a lot of extraneous traffic to your .com cousin. When possible, always try to stick to .com.

Back to the problem of choosing a name. A final assessment of your market leads you to realize that your business is based on the Newark housing market. With this in mind, you try and behold, you have found yourself a match.

Purchasing a good domain is all about understanding exactly what you want. The more specific you can be, the more likely you are to find a permutation that is still available. As a caveat, remember that if you are going to be writing about a very general topic (technology, for instance) your domain choice is as much a branding decision as anything else. You want to choose a name that is unique enough to separate it from the thousands of other technology sites out there, while still being simple enough to remember.

More Tips

  • Try adding or removing the ’s’. NewarkHomeRentals may not be available, but NewarkHomeRental is.
  • Take your time. Sometimes it’ll take quite a few tries to find a good domain, don’t give up.
  • Avoid numbers, extra letters and extraneous characters — they make you look unprofessional.
  • Use .com where possible, unless you have a really easy to remember name.
  • Make your name memorable. If it can’t be absolutely descriptive make certain it’s original.
  • Try to pick a name relating to your subject. If you are writing a Tech Blog, pick something related to technology.
  • Try to pick a name that is easily brandable.
  • Do not use numbers, obscure references, or anything that looks like the subject line to your last spam email.
  • .com is your friend. If you have the option between a slightly less ideal .com name and the perfect .tv name, I’d suggest picking the .com.

Buying a Domain

For the description of actually buying a domain I have tried to keep it general enough so that no matter who you choose to purchase from the process won’t be substantially different. There are dozens of different domain registrars, most of whom are all selling the same basic product. When choosing who to purchase your domain from, the best criteria to use is price and credibility. Since all domains are basically created equal, there is no point in spending $10 a year when you can find one for half the price. Since you generally purchase your domain yearly you want to make sure that your registrar is credible enough to stay in business during your entire contract term.

Once you chosen you domain registrar the next step is do a search. If you have trouble finding a domain name that hasn’t already been snatched up, refer to the previous section for some tips. In general, this will be the most frustrating part of the experience, but if you are methodical about searching and follow the tips I’ve enumerated it should be relatively painless.

After you find a name, it’s time to pilot your way through the minefield of “added value” features that make up the bulk of domain pricing.

Standard or Private?

Often, the first thing you will be asked is whether you want to make your purchase private. What exactly is a private domain registration? In order to fully appreciate this idea, you have to understand a little something about how domains are listed. When you register any web domain, your contact information is automatically entered into the WHOIS database. WHOIS is to web pages as the yellow pages is to phone numbers. If you make no changes, your WHOIS listing will contain everything from the date your domain expires to your personal contact information. Here is an example of a typical WHOIS listing –

John Doe
1212 Inter Web Circle
Orlando, Florida
United States

Registered through: TheDomainRegistrar, Inc.
Created on: 28-Jul-06
Expires on: 28-Jul-08
Last Updated on: 27-Oct-07

Domain servers in listed order:

Registry Status: clientRenewProhibited
Registry Status: clientTransferProhibited
Registry Status: clientUpdateProhibited
Registry Status: clientDeleteProhibited

Administrative Contact:
Doe, John
1212 Inter Web Circle
Orlando, Florida
United States
(333) 333-3333

Technical Contact:
Doe, John
1212 Inter Web Circle
Orlando, Florida
United States
(333) 333-3333

As you can see, quite a bit of information can make its way into your WHOIS listing. For those who are concerned, private registration offers a relatively cheap way to keep your registration data protected. Instead of your contact information being listed, proxy data will be put in instead. In general, it will cost you a few dollars extra a year.

Avoid the Upsell

After this point, you are going to be offered everything from Web Hosting to Email to SEO services. There is a chance that your domain registrar might offer some great products in these fields, but this is not the time to buy any of them. Like many other company, domain registrars make the bulk of their income on selling peripheral services to the unsuspecting. Even if you are looking for web hosting, for example, it is almost always better to come back later and make your purchase after you do some research.


The final question is just how long you want to hold onto your domain. If you are a new digital entrepreneur, I would suggest sticking to a one year term. You never know how ideas will evolve over the course of a year, and since it is so simple to renew midterm you have almost no incentive to leap into a huge contract right off the bat.

Before completing your checkout, do yourself a favor and take a look around the web for coupon codes. Many of these domain registrars have tons of coupon codes floating around for everything from $1 off your domain to 25% off of your entire purchase. There are several sites that do nothing but help users find coupon codes, so it should not be terribly difficult to look.

One additional point. If you happen to find what seems like a “good” domain name, hold onto it. There is quite a bit of money to be found in holding and selling domains. What makes a saleable domain name? Here is a brief guide.

  • Common nouns and three letter names sell well.
  • Sites with a high PageRank command higher price.
  • The more traffic you have, the more your site is worth.
  • Quality content and price are not directly correlated.

People who purchase domains are looking for high traffic sites with advertising potential, in general. It doesn’t matter what is actually on the site as much as how many people you have managed to drive to it. This is one of the few instances where content is not king. Even so, it never hurts to generate useful information with all your web ventures. You might find that the site itself is more valuable than the price you could get in the resale market.

Choosing Your Platform

Tip: Download the All in One SEO Pack to help get your basic Wordpress install ready for the search engines.

There are just about as many blogging platforms as there are ways to fail at blogging. There are dozens of web resources that you can find that well tell you about the relative merits of each of these, but for the typical professional blogger the only three options that are worth mentioning are Wordpress, Typepad and Blogger. Given these three options, the one I would choose over all is Wordpress.

Wordpress is the brainchild of Matt Mullenweg and is one of the most popular blogging platforms in the web today. Why should you choose Wordpress? The secret is in the support. Wordpress has a thriving community, a constantly updated code-base, and a huge library of plugins that allow even the least code savvy among us to do miracles with a blogs function. On top of this, Wordpress is so easy to install that even if your last big internet project was setting up Aunt Myrtle’s AOL account, you probably will be able to figure out how to get it running just from reading this guide.

Before trying to install Wordpress you should pick up an FTP Client. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol and an FTP Client is just a way for you to transfer files between your home computer and your web host. Selecting a web host and getting your account created is beyond the scope of this book, but once you do fire up your web browser and follow the directions you find at Below are the salient details for your convenience,

  • Download and unzip the WordPress package, if you haven’t already.
  • Create a database for WordPress on your web server, as well as a MySQL user who has all privileges for accessing and modifying it.
  • Rename the wp-config-sample.php file to wp-config.php.
  • Open wp-config.php in your favorite text editor and fill in your database details.
  • Place the WordPress files in the desired location on your web server:
  • If you want to integrate WordPress into the root of your domain (e.g., move or upload all contents of the unzipped WordPress directory (but excluding the directory itself) into the root directory of your web server.
  • If you want to have your WordPress installation in its own subdirectory on your web site (e.g., rename the directory wordpress to the name you’d like the subdirectory to have and move or upload it to your web server. For example if you want the WordPress installation in a subdirectory called “blog”, you should rename the directory called “wordpress” to “blog” and upload it to the root directory of your web server.
  • Run the WordPress installation script by accessing wp-admin/install.php in your favorite web browser.
  • If you installed WordPress in the root directory, you should visit:
  • If you installed WordPress in its own subdirectory called blog, for example, you should visit:

Picking a Template

The hardest part about starting a blog, after you get past finding a topic that you feel comfortable writing about for an extended period of time, is choosing a theme. A Theme is the visual representation of your blog. While it would be nice if your content sold itself, since the advent of print, good publishers know that the layout is at least half of the battle.

Before they read a single word you have written, new readers will judge your content based on how it looks. A good theme is one where your content is easy to read and navigate. A bad theme will confuse and irritate your readers, and usually a confused reader is one who will never come back.

The three most important items to think about when selecting a theme are structure, personalization and utility. Your job as the author of your blog is to find a design (or create one) that properly balances these three pillars.

Most blogs can be grouped into 1, 2, and 3 column layouts. These columns constitute the basic structure of the theme. Second, you also have to decide on just how much content you are planning to present on your front page. The advantage of displaying fewer posts is that if your post count is low readers will have a harder time noticing, but on the flip side, reader attention is extremely limited and anything not on the front page is likely to be ignored.

As for how many columns you should choose, that is entirely dependent on what you want out of blogging. One column works well for personal blogs. The entire structure of the blog is centered around the content. This is great for the reader, but unfortunately it leaves you without a lot of room for advertising. For bloggers just starting out the simplicity is great, but if you’re planning to use your blog as an extension of your professional life you may find one column to be a bit stifling.

Now for the shootout between the most common choices — 2 and 3 column. There is plenty of wisdom that will point you in either direction. The rule of thumb is that 2-column layouts are for the content oriented while three column layouts are more advertiser friendly. If you were, for example, using your blog as an extension of your Consulting business, you might be better off sticking with 2 columns. If, however, you wanted your blog to make money in and of itself 3 columns gives you a lot more room to play with advertising options.

Also, consider utility as a top priority in template selection. When testing a new design, put yourself into the mind of your reader. Is it easy to navigate? Can you find everything that you’re trying to present? Is the typography clean and readable? Many times you will be drawn to themes that are visually stunning but lack usability. Remember that at the end of the day your product is text. It’s always better to trade a bit of visual appeal for a more readable layout.

This same process should go into choosing the widgets that you install. Do you really need 15 sidebar buttons? Put widgets that really add value for your users and don’t distract from the real action on your blog, the text.

A final element to consider, especially if you are using a pre-made theme, is personalization. There are tons of freely available themes out there for you to choose from that are compatible with Wordpress. There are so many, in fact, that it is entirely possible that you can use a template right out of the box and never manage to see it used anywhere else. Just to make sure though, here are a few simple things that you could consider changing to truly make the theme your own.

  • Sidebar layout
  • Masthead
  • Typeface
  • Paragraph Spacing
  • Color Scheme

Almost all of these things can be changed with a little bit of CSS magic (which is once again beyond the scope of this book).

Here are a few more general tips to keep in mind when choosing a theme:

  • Pick something that makes your text stand out. People are going to your site to read your content. You want to put that content at center stage.
  • Keep it simple. There are a lot of very complicated themes out there. It is important to remember that your product is text and you don’t want to distract from that with a lot of flash.

    Two columns or three columns? This a difficult choice. The two column look is classic, simple and usually provides amble room for anything you might want to place in a sidebar. Three columns has the advantage of giving you more room for advertising at the expense of looking more cluttered.

    A theme is like a marriage, once you pick one you should stick to it. People become used to a certain look and feel from your site. If you dramatically change your theme, be sure to warn your readers ahead of time. Also know that changing your theme is like a divorce and chances are there will be fallout (in the form of losing all the tweeks you made to the old theme).

So that was easy.

Next: Appendix - Writing Your Pitch

2 Responses to 'Appendix - Blogging'

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  1. Great One…

    Thanks. My link: ,Thanks again….


    18 Jun 11 at 7:47 am

  2. Great One…

    Thanks. My link: ,Thanks again….


    19 Jun 11 at 9:02 pm

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