Leaving Comments Like a Superhero

Other ways to improve the amount of visitors to your site can include search engine optimization (SEO), article writing, forum posting, social media and much much more. But if guest blogging is the super hero of gaining traffic (let’s say Batman), then his trusty sidekick companion would be commenting on other blogs (yup, that’s Robin). Leaving comments on other blog posts does several things to help you increase the readership of your blog.

Gaining Targeted Traffic from Commenting

A great thing about commenting on other blogs is that the traffic can be extremely targeted. Let’s take a look at an example.

Let’s say you own a blog about technology and you read someone else’s blog post comparing two new phones. After you read the post you decide to leave a comment.

I disagree that the IPhone 4 is the best phone out right now. The T-Mobile G2X has a dual-core processor and has NVidia graphics to make it the most advanced phone out. The IPhone 4 can’t touch it.

A comment like this is great because it shows that you are knowledgeable about technology and that you aren’t scared to give an opinion. This can cause a good comment debate and get some attention.

People coming to your blog from this link are targeted traffic because you know they are already interested in technology. Leaving good comments can really help to build your subscribers list.

Recognition Through Commenting

Almost every blogger is obsessive over their comments. They read every single comment that is posted. And it’s not just the bloggers either. Many readers will continue reading the comments after a blog post is finished.

What’s this mean for you?

This means that every time you comment on a blog, your face and website is being seen. The more you post comments, the more people will begin to recognize you and associate you with your blog.

Posting comments does need to be done right though! A proper comment should indicate that you read the article and that you have something to contribute.

“Great post” is simply NOT acceptable. It’s pointless, a waste of time and annoying. Don’t do it.

Build Relationships by Commenting

Building relationships through commenting kind of goes hand in hand with the previous point of recognition.  Most of the comments left on blogs are by bloggers themselves.

This means the people you are being recognized by are also your fellow peers as well as the person writing the blog. If you continue to leave smart, insightful and high quality comments then you will get people’s attention.

Connecting with other bloggers is essential to growing your blog.

Another great thing about being recognized is that when you offer to do a guest post, the author of the blog already knows who you are. This can greatly increase your chance of getting accepted for a blog post!

After all, who wants to be stuck with Robin when you could be Batman?

How To Choose A Blogging Niche

So you have decided that blogging is right for you. Congratulations! It’s almost time to take your shoes off and get your feet wet. There are just a few more things you have to do first though. In order to start blogging you have to have an idea of what to start blogging about. This should not be taken lightly. As I have said before, your blogging niche be the difference between success and failure.

Luckily for you I can help. I have outlined the process below for how to select a niche.

Personal Interest in the Topic

Probably the most important thing is that you have an interest in the topic you choose. When I was just beginning my first blog I picked a topic that I only had a little interest in. After only a few posts I was already bored with it. So my blog and I had a little chat together.  We decided it wasn’t working out and went our separate ways.

You should not pick a topic because you think it will be profitable or because you think it will be easy to get visitors. Without a personal interest on your topic the chances are that your blog will not go far.

Deciding your niche is one of the most important decisions you make when starting your blog.

You will not have the motivation to keep making new posts. You won’t want to bother going to other blogs and commenting. You won’t want to write guests posts about a subject you don’t like. Therefore, your blog simply will not last.

Blogs are for the long term. If you have a topic that will keep you entertained, happy and interested then you will find it much more enjoyable on a day to day basis.

Just ask yourself what you really enjoy doing. If someone asked your best friend what your favorite thing to talk about or do was, what would they say? Look inside yourself and figure out what motivates you. What do you enjoy? What do you want to learn more about? What do you want to teach others?

Answering these questions will give you a topic that will not only inspire you to write more but will also make your writing more engaging to your readers.

Popularity of the Topic

Your personal interest is a great start on choosing a blogging niche. However, that should not be your only deciding factor. You need to find out if other people share your interest.

If you absolutely love ancient history and want to blog about the Mayans, chances are you are not going to have too many readers. The subject just isn’t popular enough.

The flip side of this is that you should not choose a topic that is too popular. Take the weight loss niche for example. This is a niche that is so over saturated with websites and blogs that it’s nearly impossible for anyone to get noticed.

Looking for the “sweet spot” in between can be a challenge sometimes. It is usually obvious what is too popular and what subjects aren’t popular enough. To get some ideas you can do some searches on Google Trends, you can use paid tools like Market Samurai, or you can just look at the world around you.

Newspapers, magazines, T.V. and many other sources are around you. Pay attention and you could just find the exact niche you are searching for.

Will Your Topic Stay Popular?

It is well known that not everything lasts. Many things become a huge fad and then fade away a short while later.

If you’re blogging about a topic that is growing steadily in popularity, then that is fantastic. The only thing you need to keep in mind is if the niches popularity will decline later.

Predicting the future of topics isn’t exactly an exact science. You are just going to have to use your head. Try and ask yourself if “your topic” is still going to be talked about 6 months in the future. What about a year? 5 years?

Competition for the Niche

Some beginning bloggers will dive right in without even testing the waters yet. Choosing the most popular topic with no regard to what kind of competition they are up against. This is very dangerous to the success of your blog.

Very popular niches tend to have extremely strong competition. You can work for years and you probably will never be on the front page of Google for “weight loss” or “make money online”.

Researching your competition can be difficult if you don’t know what you are looking for. Just doing a Google search on your topic can show you how many people are writing on that topic. However, this does not show you the strength of your competition.

Popularity generally has a lot to do with competition. This is why you want to find a niche that is not too popular but also not popular enough. Simply narrowing down your topic can usually help.

For example, let’s say that you are a personal trainer and the topic you want to blog about is “exercising”. Since this niche is extremely crowded and has a high amount of competition, chances are you will not get any readers or make any money.

If you narrowed your topic from “exercising” to “training for marathons” you would have a much higher chance of success.

I’ve read this saying around the web many times – It’s better to become a big fish in a small pond rather than a small fish in a big pond.

Does Your Topic Have Enough Depth?

Producing new and unique content on a constant basis is key to becoming a successful blogger. When choosing your niche you will want to be sure you have enough to write about. Many blogs die because the blogger runs out of things to say about the topic. Here are some things to keep in mind.

  1. Will you have enough ideas to continue producing unique content? No matter how good of a writer you might be, having too narrow of a topic is going to lead to certain disaster. Try doing 10 to 15 minutes of brainstorming and see what ideas you come up with. Do these ideas come easily? If you find yourself struggling to come up with ideas then you may want to rethink your niche.
  2. Are there plenty of other sources for ideas on content? Are there other websites or blogs that you visit that inspire you? Are there enough updates in your niche to keep you writing years down the road? Try checking out Google News or Technorati and see.
  3. How will the future affect the topic? Will your topic still be relevant down the road? Is your topic versatile enough to keep up with the times? For example, a blog about Xbox 360 games will have plenty of new stuff to write about…up until the new next-gen system comes out. Always try and think ahead when selecting a niche!

Do You Want To Monetize Your Blog?

Making money off of your blog may not be your goal. If this is the case then you don’t need to worry about this part. However, if your goal is to make money from your blog, you will want to make sure your niche is profitable.

Think about how you want to monetize your site. If you want to put ads on your site, think about what kind of ads will show up. If you can’t think of anything then advertisements may not be the way to go.

Do you have a blog that you want to promote affiliate products on? See if you can find some products you would like to promote. Clickbank has a huge variety of online goods you can look through.

If you plan on selling your own product to make money you will want to make sure that you have an idea for your product in mind. Chances are if you cannot think of a product to create for your topic, then you are probably focusing on the wrong niche.

A great way to check how you can monetize your blog is by checking out your fellow bloggers. Do a Google search for blogs in your niche and see how they are monetizing their sites. Are they selling ad space or promoting affiliate products? Also you can check out what kind of products they sell themselves and get ideas of what kind of products that you could create.

Time to Decide On Your Niche!

Take your time while deciding your niche. Don’t just pick something because you like it. You need to have passion for the topic. It is highly improbable to find a niche that fits all the criteria above. That’s okay!

As Long as you can identify what your blogs weak point is you can figure out ways to strengthen it.

The most important thing to remember is that the success of your blog is ultimately up to YOU. Creating content regularly and never giving up will take you a far way.

Want to know the only difference between a successful blogger and a failed blogger? The only difference is that when the successful blogger was down and wanted to give up, he didn’t.

Can you think of any other factors that come in to play when choosing a niche?

If you have a blog, what are some of the considerations you thought about when  deciding your niche?

5 reasons your about page is the most important page on your blog

What’s the first thing you do when you come across a new blog? Do you browse the posts and see if anything catches your eye? Do you click and read the most recent post to decide if it’s worth your time? I like to know who is writing the articles before I start reading them. If there is no about page then I will be honest, I usually don’t read any articles.

So if you do not have an about page yet then you need to go create one right now!

It gives readers a summary of your blog

The first thing an about me page should do is give a summary of what your blog is about. It should express why the blog was created and what your purpose is with it. This gives readers a quick overview to know if your blog is what they are looking for.

Allows readers to feel connected

An about me page should have a casual feel to it. You should share a little personal information (whatever you are comfortable sharing) and you should definitely have a picture. These little touches help readers to feel more connected to you and can make you seem more trustworthy.

Can convert traffic into subscribers

Just having an about page can be the difference between turning a guest into a subscriber and losing them forever. I know if I ever go to a blog and they do not have an about me page then I don’t really stick around too long. Not only does an about page get you subscribers; it can considerably increase the amount of time a guest is on your blog.

Show your authority with credentials

Although it may feel like bragging, your about page is the best place to display your credentials and accomplishments. Many readers, myself included, like to see what a blogger has done and what makes them a viable source to learn from. If you don’t have any yet then that is fine, but be sure to update with accomplishments as you go! This is another good way to make you feel more trustworthy.

Builds relationships

Getting to know people is extremely important in the world of blogging and internet marketing. Regardless of what your blog is about, building relationships allows you to connect with other bloggers, bring in readers, gain subscribers, guest post on other blogs, and gain friends! The more known you are in the blogosphere the more likely you are to succeed. After all, how can you get any readers to your blog if no one knows about you?

Your about page lets people get to know you and opens the door for further relationships. It’s pretty much the first step towards getting to know people and expanding your blog.

What do you think is the most important page on your blog?

Do you agree that it is the about page or do you think that it’s something else entirely? Let me know if you agree and if you disagree tell me why.

How to Increase Traffic, Get Noticed and Gain Subscribers

Hot increase traffic? The blogosphere is crowded, over-saturated and unwelcoming. Every niche has millions of people competing to become the best. How are people like you and I supposed to make ourselves seen? How do we stand out from the crowd?

It seems like all odds are against us. Might as well go out and start buying scratch offs, the chance of winning seems about the same…right?

It can be scary. It can be depressing.

It will be hard.

The good news is that it can be done.

Standing out of the crowd is all about knowing what to do. If you’re like me then you have spent a lot of time researching blogging. You have studied the gurus and followed the experts.

You are a sponge for information, absorbing anything and everything that comes your way until you think you’re ready to start. That’s when you realize that you still don’t know where to start. You have seen so many strategies and have read so many different ways that you don’t know which to implement.

Do you spend all your time for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? Do you focus on writing articles all day long or are you supposed to concentrate on social networking to market your blog? What about commenting? Should I use up hours commenting on all the blogs I come across?

All of these methods can and will work if you use them properly, however, in my opinion the best and most focused method for gaining traffic to your blog is through guest posting.

Why guest posting works

Getting your work in front of thousands of readers is the goal. The problem is you don’t have that many followers on your blog yet. This is where guest posting comes in.

The best way to utilize guest posting is to find large blogs that receive a nice amount of traffic and are also related to your niche. This is common sense but it has to be said. If your blog is about parenting then do not submit a guest post to a blog about gardening. Duh!

The whole reason guest posting works so well is because the traffic is targeted. At the end of your post there is usually an author box that has links to your blog and tells a little about you. If your guest post is well received then you are likely to get a lot of clicks to your blog.

You will be rejected, but don’t get discouraged

There is a good chance your guest post will be rejected. This is perfectly fine! Just keep writing and keep on trying. If your guest post is declined on one blog, do some tweaks and submit it to another.

The more and more you do it the more you will get accepted. Your writing will get better. You will learn what people want. It is all just a matter of time.

Pretty much everyone I have heard about has had their first guest post rejected.

How I plan to use guest posting

At the time of writing this I currently do not have any traffic. The blog is brand new and still coming together. I have a few ways I plan to start generating traffic but the juggernaut of those is guest posting.

My goal is to start writing for medium sized blogs. After I see how I am received and what topics generate “buzz” I am going to start submitting guest posts to bigger blogs such as problogger.net.

I do not expect to get my first guest post published on Problogger. Probably not even my second, third or fourth. I can tell you this however; I will be on there.

From Hacking to Blogging – My Beginning

To get to the beginning of the story I am going to have to go back a very long time to about 2001 or so. At this time my cousin and I were into an online pet site called Neopets.com (sad…yes i know).

While playing around my cousin found a link on the forums to another pet site that was just beginning. Wanting to be one of the first to sign-up (they offered items for the first 100) he hurried over and filled out the forms. Next thing you know, his account was hacked.

The Discovery of Website Creation

What does all this have to do with me? Well when we realized the guy created a fake page and was getting all the info mailed to him, we were upset. This was not fair! So what did I do? I created my own “fake” website with a free website creator and started advertising it on the forums. As more and more people fell for the scam, my websites kept getting more and more elaborate. We must have single handedly hacked 5000 accounts over a year or two.

The Deciding Point

I tell you this story because it’s my first run in with websites. Creating the websites with the website builder tool was fun, but I wanted to know more. So it was then that I started learning HTML. It was a really slow process at first but as time went on I slowly gathered up knowledge. I didn’t have too much time to really get into it until I was a senior in high school. By this time I was self-taught in Photoshop, Illustrator, and other design programs. I loved learning new things but I had never fully understood how to work with HTML and I didn’t even know what CSS was. Towards the end of high school I realized I needed a plan. What did I want to do with my life? I wanted to travel the world. I wanted to have fun. I didn’t want to be tied down to a 9 to 5. It was at this point that I decided I want to make my living online.

Google: My New BFFL

I started using Google to research everything about making money online. I absorbed everything that I came across. I ended up signing up for a “get rich quick” program called Niche Blitzkrieg and dedicated time to that. It had me create a WordPress site and make it look like a static webpage. Then using different techniques it got me ranked in Google for a few low competitive keywords. The problem is that none of these “get rich quick” things actually work. While researching online one day I came across 2createawebsite.com.

This website taught me everything I needed to know about creating a real website. Lisa Irby (the website owner) laid everything out for me and told me what I needed to do. I used Google even more and dedicated myself to learning HTML and CSS. After a lot of hard work I had my first website up and running.

Creating InnovativeIdeators.com

I’ve learned a lot on the way and I have picked up on many things. I have always had a desire to create a blog but I was always scared. Why would people listen to me? What would I write about? What if I fail? Finally, after having a talk with my wonderful girlfriend I decided I would jump into making a blog and see where it takes me. Having support like her is the best thing anyone could ask for. So now here I am, typing this post in Word and putting myself out there. I have promised myself that this blog is my escape from working 60 hours a week. It is going to be my freedom and I will steer it in the right direction.

What’s your story? Is it similar? Way different? What motivates you to continue blogging, or if you haven’t started, what stops you from starting?

Let me know!

How to Produce Content Every Time You Sit Down

Tackling the insertion cursor (that’s the name of the blinking cursor when typing) can be one of the most difficult tasks a blogger has. Content! Looking at an entire blank page and then being tasked with filling it up can seem daunting.

“What do I type?”

“Where do I start?”

“Do I need a title first or should I do that last?”

“Hmmm….maybe I should go browse Twitter for a while…”

Two Hours Later

“….blahhhh, I’ll do this tomorrow”

We’ve all been there. Just keep putting it off until another day and hope that it will get done. Hope is not lost however! Here are some awesome tips to help keep you writing great articles day in and day out.

Know What You Want to Write About

You might be thinking, “Well Stephen, this is quite obvious don’t you think?” And my answer to you is yes, yes it is. The problem is many people start typing without a clear goal in mind.

Having an idea and having a clear goal are two completely different things. An idea is vague and doesn’t help guide your writing. A goal helps guide your writing and sets up specific points you want to make in your post.

An idea might sound like this, “I want to write a blog post about how to use social media to market an e-book.”

You can take this further by setting a goal for this idea.

A goal for this might be,

I want the reader to understand how Twitter works, how to get the most out of 140 characters, how to leverage @ tags to your advantage, and why I think Twitter is the best marketing strategy available.

As you can see in this example, a goal allows you to see exactly what you want to accomplish. It gives you guidelines to follow and helps organize your thoughts clearly.

Now that you have a goal, it is time to start typing!

Discipline Yourself – Write For 30 Minutes

This is a tactic that works really well. The goal here is to close everything else that can distract you. That means Twitter, Facebook, email and turning your cell phone to silent.

Distractions are one of the greatest enemies to bloggers.

So open your blank document (or your notebook if your old school) and keep your goals in mind. At this point you may not do anything but stare at the blank page or write.

This means no going to the bathroom, no getting up for a snack, no peeking at the internet, and definitely no email!

At the end of the 30 minutes I guarantee you will have something written. When faced with no other option than being bored and staring at a screen, you will eventually start to type. As long as you keep your goals in mind, this is a great starting place!

You don’t have to stop at 30 minutes though. If you feel you are on a roll then keep going. I personally do this all the time.

Closing my browser and sitting in front of MS Word document is the most effective way I have found to get me writing!

You can do this as many times as you need to until the article is finished!

Proofread Your Post the Next Day

After you have finished typing, save your work and put it away. You are done for today!

Proofreading your work after a full day passes is the best way to ensure you get a “fresh” look at the content. This is the best time to correct spelling errors, change paragraphs or even rewrite your post to make it better.

This is also the day that I like to find a post image (I use fotolia.com), format the post for WordPress and set up all the SEO needed.

Another good strategy is to send your post to a friend and have him or her proofread it. Then instruct them to send it back to you the following day with corrections and suggestions.

These strategies work extremely well for me and I am sure they will work for you too.

Do you do any of these? Do you have any other tips that you do to tackle the insertion cursor? Let me know in the comments below!

Why Deciding Your Niche Can Make or Break Your Blog

Ever since starting this blog I spend most of my days thinking about things I can do to make it better. Niche is the most important thing!

Almost every minute of my twelve hour work days are spent thinking about all different aspects of this blog. I’m always in a rush to get home so I can type up a post or do more research.

I spend a lot of time reading other popular blogs to learn everything that I can. Shout out to Problogger.net and Copyblogger.com!

All things considered, I think it is safe to say:

I’m obsessed.

Rewind to the Beginning

It didn’t always use to be this way. I have created (well I’ve tried at least) blogs and I have tried different ways to make money in the past. None of those things lasted very long though.

I never stayed motivated enough to carry on with them and I would never feel like working on them because it felt like too much “real work”.  The funny thing is that this blog has taken much more work than all of my other ventures put together and yet it does not seem like work. It is fun.

I have started blogs and I have put together half-finished websites. I have bought stupid programs that promise you to “make money online fast”. By now I know, as I am sure you do, that these programs are completely BS and are just trying to get your money.

What’s different about this blog is that this is where my heart is. Blogging and making money are subjects I love. I enjoy researching and learning more about his subject. I enjoy writing the posts and sharing my experiences.

I know that people always tell you to write about something you enjoy doing. The only problem was that what I enjoyed doing I did not have much experience in. I have not made more than a few hundred bucks off the internet. Why would people want to listen to me if I have not become successful yet?

My Realization

There came a time when some friends started asking me about how people use the internet to make money. So naturally I started explain about blogs and websites, Google AdSense, affiliate marketing, PPC campaigns and email marketing.

I went into depth about each of these things and how they work.

I now realize that even though I may not have made that much money online, I know more about it than any other person I know. I can explain all aspects of making money, building lists, writing content, headline creation, and much much more.

So why can’t I make a blog to share this information?

Your niche decides your success

When starting out, I created a bunch of different sites about things I was not passionate about. Therefore my content was subpar, my work ethic wasn’t there and I was only interested in trying to make money.

That’s why when making a website it should not only be about making money. Even if that is you main motivation, your site should still be about something you love and are passionate about.

Making money can be done in any niche, so don’t pick a popular one just because you think it will be easier. It will not.

If you have been waiting to create your blog or website because you don’t think you are an “expert” in your field than you are only hurting yourself. Anyone can become an expert with enough research!

Don’t wait no more.

Get started with your blog and most importantly remember to have fun!

What to Consider Before Starting a Blog

Blogging is a huge commitment. What does “starting a blog” means? You must be consistent, you must work hard, and you must be willing to learn. Blogging can take a lot of time so you have to be sure to make room for it.

For every one active blog you find on the internet, I would estimate there are about 20 “dead” blogs.

This means that the odds are against you. Most of you reading this will not last in the world of blogging.

However, there are some ways that you can increase your chances of “surviving” significantly. There are several things to consider before you even begin creating your blog.

“Do you enjoy writing? Are you willing to learn? Are you ready for a lot of hard work?”

Questions like these need to be answered before you can go any further. If you do not enjoy writing then why are you even here? A blog is obviously not for you.

“Are you ready for commitment and hard work?”

Darren Rowse has put together a list of 23 Questions for Prospective Bloggers over at ProBlogger. Be sure to read each one to decide if you are ready.

What is Your Purpose?

So now you have decided that blogging is right for you. You enjoy writing, learning, hard work and are ready to make the commitment.

Before you decided to emerge yourself into the blogosphere I want you to consider one more thing.

Why do you want to start a blog?

Do you want to be internet famous? Are you trying to make a ton of money so you can quit your job and be rich? While these are probably the most common reasons to start a blog, they should not be your only ones.

The problem with starting a blog only for these reasons is that your motivation will die once you realize how hard it is to be famous and get rich. Blogs can take several years to develop before they start making any kind of decent income.

If you genuinely want to help people, share your knowledge and you enjoy the subject that you are blogging about then you have a much better chance. I am not saying that trying to be famous and get rich is a bad thing (after all that’s one of my goals too). I am just saying it shouldn’t be your only motivation.

Do You Have Enough Time?

Many people don’t realize how time consuming a blog really is. Researching and writing a single post can take several hours itself. Not to mention the countless hours you have to spend with email, comments, networking etc.

Some things that can determine how much time your blog will need are:

Topic – Some topics are much more “needy” than others. I just recently helped my friend start a political blog about the upcoming presidential election.  This kind of blog will have to be updated more frequently to stay on top of current events. Other blogs that will need to be updated frequently include technology and news blogs.

Popularity – If your blog starts getting extremely popular and receives hundreds or thousands of visitors a day then chances are you will be quite busy. Answering emails and replying to comments can take hours. As your blog ages, chances are your blog is going to take more and more time to manage.

Writing Style – Your own personal writing style plays a big part in how much time your blog will take from you. If you are a slow and careful writer then your posts are going to take a long time to type. Do you like writing long posts that cover every small detail or do you prefer short attention grabbing posts?

I Am Ready to Start…Now What?

If you have gone through this entire post and are still ready to start a blog, then you are ready for the next step.

Join me next time when I will look into the next step on your journey – How to Choose a Niche.