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Content is king

Everybody loves good content. I love it, you love it, and the all-powerful Google devotes enormous amounts of time, effort and money so that you can find it quickly and easily.

I mean, really, who would rather spend their time reading bad content. So it must be true – Content is King.

And so the marketplace (webmasters, bloggers etc) responds to demand by giving people what they want – an absolute ton of incredibly good content.

More content than you could ever read, that’s for damn sure (as Jack Reacher would say). Which is where the problem starts to creep in …

Once upon a time, it was (maybe) true to say “If you build it they will come”. But that was a long time ago.

Now, it’s probably more accurate to say “If you build it (and they manage to find it) they will make a split-second, snap decision about whether to read it or not”

A large part of whether they bother to continue or not, depends on your design. And when I say design, what I’m really talking about is whether or not your site provides readers with the necessary absence of negative design features that they require.

Good Design Builds Trust

Or, looking at it the other way round, bad design kills trust.

Without doubt, your content has to be good. But, even if your content is the best ever, what good is that if readers click away before reading it because of bad design.

So what is it that causes people to hit the back button so fast? And do you know how to avoid it?

Continue reading Content Is Only Half A King

Increase twitter shares with click to tweet

Before people are prepared to be nice to you and do things for you, you have to be nice to them first. So how do you go about being nice to Twitter users?

Like anyone – give them what they want. What do they want? Content, just like everybody else – but not just any old content. Content that’s less than 140 characters.

And, as always, the easier you make it for them, the better the results. Don’t make people copy and paste snippets of your post and then count the characters. That’s a chore for them and they might pull something out of context.

Make it really easy by presenting them with a carefully chosen (by you, of course) quote that’s just the right length and all they have to do is click a link.

Why a “Click to Tweet” Link Can Grow Your Following

There’s 3 main reasons why this works and they’re all about making life easier and better for your readers:

  • Great content – people need content and it needs to be good to increase their followers. By definition quotes are bite-sized pieces of information that neatly sum up an important point or a piece of wisdom. They’re just made for Twitter.
  • Quotes tend to be from important or famous people. When people want to reinforce a point they use quotes from people of authority because it lends them credence. Ergo …if people tweet your quotes you become a person of authority (in theory).
  • It’s really easy for them to do. They click the link which takes them to Twitter, the quote is already there pre-written and they just click tweet.

Continue reading How To Increase Your Twitter Shares With “Click to Tweet”

What’s the definition of a great headline? One that works and does what it’s designed to do, of course!

But what’s it meant to do? Well, your headline has actually only got one purpose – to hook readers and that’s all.

If you’re going fishing, it’s easy – all you need is a nice bright lure, cast it in and wiggle it around a bit and BAM! it’s on.

Why does it work? Is it because predatory fish have a particular dietary preference for brightly painted pieces of plastic or wood?

No – it’s because it triggers an in-built reaction to the sight and sensation of moving prey (or bait).

It’s the same with people – we’ve been around for almost as long as the fishes and we also have in-built reactions to certain stimuli. It’s your job when writing headlines to trigger those reactions in your readers.

Anyone that goes fishing knows it’s not good enough just to nick them, you’ve got to hook ‘em good and deep so they don’t wriggle off – and to do that you need sharp hooks.

The lure attracts them, but the hooks hold them.

Continue reading Headlines That Hook: Are Yours Sharp Enough?

Does the perfect blog post actually exist? Have you ever seen one? What do you mean by perfect anyway? And if it does exist, do you know how to write it?

According to Derek Halpern and the folks at DIY Themes (who make the Thesis Theme) it definitely exists, and it follows a very specific format. But before we look at how to produce it, we need to ask – what do we mean by the perfect post.

What is the Perfect Blog Post?

The perfect blog post has to be defined in relation to something – it can’t just be “perfect” in isolation. With blog posts, that “something” is getting your readers to take some action.

So we measure how perfect the post is in relation to how successful it is in getting the reader to do what we want them to do.

What do we want our readers to do? Some common outcomes that we want to achieve include getting the reader to

  • leave a comment
  • read another post
  • subscribe to our email list
  • click an affiliate link
  • buy something

It all depends on the purpose of your site, but every post should have a purpose and to achieve that you present your reader with a Call to Action (CTA). You can then judge how good your post is by looking at how well readers respond to the CTA.

Continue reading How to Write the Perfect Blog Post

Everybody loves WordPress. And one of the best bits about it is all plugins which extend the core functionality and let you customize your site so it looks and runs how you want it to.

But … as soon as you start to think about which ones to install, you can quickly get swamped. They all look good and you’d really love that great bit of extra functionality…

If you do a search for ‘best plugins’ on Google you’ll find a load of posts like ‘the best 40 plugins’ or ‘the essential 65 plugins’ and when I started thinking about what to include in this list, that was the sort of numbers I was getting up to. That’s a lot of plugins.

Instead, I’ve put together 10 essential WordPress plugins that you should install. 10 is a nice, manageable number and I’ve covered all the major categories that you need to deal with. You’re bound to add more along the way, but these are a good (and essential) starting point.

Optimization & Backup

Unless you like a slow site, or you enjoy that nervous feeling that comes from knowing you could lose all your hard work in one go, you’ll want to back up and optimize your WordPress site. These aren’t very exciting plugins that do something pretty, but they definitely fit the bill as far as essential goes.

Click to continue reading 10 Essential WordPress Plugins For Your Blog

WordPress seems to be what makes the world go round these days. It’s certainly what makes millions of websites run. And it appeals to users at every level of expertise, from complete beginners to advanced web designers.

Advanced users can make it do pretty much anything, but for the complete novice you can get up and running in literally minutes, without knowing anything at all about web design or programming or any other stuff.

You can install it straight out of the box, start blogging immediately and never install a theme or plugin or anything else. And you can stay that way forever if that’s what you want to do.

However, there comes a point in everyone’s life when they want to do a bit more. Some things are basic housekeeping procedures like making backups so that you don’t risk losing all your hard work, or you may want to improve your site’s usability by, for example, adding social media buttons so that readers can share your content.

That’s when you need a plugin.

What is a WordPress Plugin?

A plugin is a program that adds a specific set of features in order to extend what you can do with wordpress. The WordPress codex has this to say about plugins

Plugins are tools to extend the functionality of WordPress ……… The core of WordPress is designed to be lean, to maximize flexibility and minimize code bloat. Plugins offer custom functions and features so that each user can tailor their site to their specific needs.

This highlights a couple of important points:

  1. The core of WordPress i.e. the basic installation is designed to be lean which means your site will be fast;
  2. You then choose what additional bits you want to add in order to make your site perform exactly the way you want it, with no unnecessary functions that you don’t use.

That’s something you should always bear in mind when thinking about installing a new plugin. Less is more. Don’t install anything that you don’t really need.

Click here to continue reading How To Install A WordPress Plugin

WordPress rocks! Even straight out of the box. But one of the really amazing things about it is that there are so many different “themes” that you can install to change how your site looks.

Good themes do a lot more than just look good, but it’s definitely one of WordPress’ major attractions that it’s hard to make your site NOT look good.

What is a WordPress Theme?

A theme is basically a design template that controls every aspect of how your website looks and behaves. It determines the overall look of the layout and positioning of all the different page elements as well as the details like colors and fonts.

The title of this tutorial is actually a little bit misleading because you don’t have to install your first WordPress theme – all new installations of WordPress currently come with the default ‘Twenty Eleven’ theme already installed. You don’t have to install anything to get started. What we’re really talking about is changing your first theme.

Illustrated below is a brand new installation of WordPress on a brand new site, exactly how it looks straight out of the box.

If you wanted, you could stick with Twenty Eleven forever, but that means you would miss out on the huge range of themes that are available which allow you to customize the look and feel of your site, and make it yours.

Twenty Eleven WordPress Theme

Even if you do decide to stick with Twenty Eleven you can still personalize it by changing the color of the background or uploading your own header image, but we’ll assume that you want to install a whole new theme. In that case, you’ve got two options – free themes or premium themes that you have to buy.

In this tutorial we’re only going to be looking at how to find and install free themes.

Continue reading Install Your First WordPress Theme

You’re going to have to live with your domain name for a long time. It’s one of the first decisions to make, you’ve got to make it when you’re just starting out and don’t know much about anything … and it’s vitally important to get it right.

Don’t you just love a bit of pressure!

There are quite a lot of demands placed on your domain name. As well as being your web address, your domain name is also one of the most important factors in your online marketing . Once you’ve started with it, you don’t really want to change it mid-stream.

One assumption we’re making is that your domain name matches your site’s title. It doesn’t have to be that way but this is normally how it works and you should probably stick to this convention.

So here are 10 rules that you should keep in mind when choosing the perfect domain name.

If you’re able to apply all of these rules successfully to your chosen name, then you are extremely fortunate. With thousands of new websites being launched every day the pool of available domain names is shrinking rapidly, so don’t worry if you can’t match all of the criteria.

If you can tick all the boxes, you’ve probably got the perfect domain name already. :-D

Continue reading 10 Rules For Choosing the Perfect Domain Name

Good web hosting is vital. Once you’ve decided on your domain name, the next critical decision is to get some web hosting. First, you’ve got to decide whether you’re going to go for a free option or go for self-hosted (paid) web hosting.

When we talk about self-hosted, it doesn’t mean that you host your website on your own server – instead you pay for space on your web host’s servers.

You can easily create a website (blog) for free by using one of the free blogging services such as Blogger, Tumblr or the free version of WordPress. These are very quick and easy to set up, but, if you are serious about setting up an online business to generate a passive income, there are a number of serious drawbacks:

  • Your domain name will include the web host’s name as part of the domain. So , if I created this website on Blogger the web address would be http://seriouspassiveincome.blogspot.com instead of just http://seriouspassiveincome.com. There’s no doubt that having your own domain looks so much more professional, and people do notice that kind of thing.
  • You have a lot less control over your site. You can’t customize the look of it as much, you may not be allowed to advertise and some hosts even put their own adverts all over your site.
  • Most importantly, you don’t own it. If Blogger or Tumblr goes down the pan tomorrow, then your site goes with them. With your own self-hosted domain that can’t happen.

To sum up – if you are serious about earning an online income, setting up a self-hosted website is the only way to go.

Click here to continue reading Setting Up Your Domain and Web Hosting