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make money off your blog Blogging Tips

How to make money off your blog

Money is, and likely always will be, an uncomfortable subject. But we live in a world where money is important. And you’d be lying if you said you didn’t hope your blog could generate some form of second income. That’s why we’re running out guide on how to make money off your blog.

I mean, who doesn’t love the day-time mom blogger millionaire story? While that’s largely falsified and an edge case, there’s no reason you can’t profit off your passion. During my time with Monstah Mash we made some profit and while there are plenty of resources on how to make money, but most of them are selling something or sound too good to be true. Let’s sift through some of the bs together. 

When it comes to monetizing your blog you’ll have two main options: advertising or selling merchandise. With advertising it’s all about getting eyeballs on your site to increase your pageviews and therefore your revenue. With merchandise it’s about creating quality products people will want to buy, and setting up an easy way for readers to buy them. I’ll give you a brief run-through of how we did this with Monstah Mash and how your blog can start making money.

Advertising

This is the primary source of income for many blogs, and is the bread and butter of the internet. Think of your site as a billboard, the more eyeballs on that billboard the more valuable it becomes. If your blog has a high viewership you can enroll in ad-sharing networks such as Google’s Adsense, or even negotiate your own deals. Adsense is a great simple platform as it allows you to embed code for ads on your site, while generating a dashboard report to view their performance at a glance. Depending on your traffic, this can be a great way to make money off your blog and leverage your readership.

With Monstah Mash we used a mix; we had a pretty good base of users and were able to make some money off of Adsense as well as an ad network specifically made for sports blogs. We even negotiated a few private ad deals giving us money to invest back into the site, leading me to the next method of raising money.

For private ad sales many reached out directly to us, however don’t be afraid to be a bit proactive in your efforts. After all, not reaching out is a guaranteed “no” so what do you have to lose?

Merchandise

Who doesn’t love stuff? Especially high-quality branded stuff? Merchandise can be a tricky path to take as the products you roll out must be of good quality for this to work. However if you can pull it off, it’s a great moneymaker. With Monstah Mash we took on a part time designer to come up with shirt designs that we sold through an online store. We had the shirts done up, rolled them out to our readers, and let them take care of the rest.

It was a great system, didn’t cost us and egregious amount, and brought in some extra revenue. Plus it allowed us to further cultivate our branded persona, which tied into the actual work we were doing on our site. Win-win.

Not sure where to sell your stuff? A few of my favorites are Zazzle, Redbubble, and CafePress. They make it easy to place your designs on a variety of products and sell through their store while making a commission. Personally I chose Redbubble as their easy-to-use interface made setting up shop a breeze, but the above three are a great starting point to get your site shop off the ground.

Affiliate Links

This is another commonly used way to make money, though not one I personally utilized. Affiliate links work by essentially placing a text ad or even a visual ad, and then making a percentage off the top of the sales. Essentially you’re selling another company’s product on your website, and getting a percentage of the sale for the effort. If you have a high-traffic blog and those readers are apt to make purchases on your site then by all means go for it. For Monstah Mash we were a news site, not a site people went to to buy things so this was never something we pursued.

There are tons of great resources on affiliate marketing so choose wisely as while there are many great avenues to make your millions, there are many duds as well.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are quite a few ways to make money off your blog. Don’t let that discourage for frighten you though! Sure not every strategy will work because each blog is unique, so take some time to experiment and find your sweet spot. For a short while we tired affiliate marketing but it just didn’t pan out, and we didn’t even try merchandise until our last two years during which it worked out great. As with all things in blogging it’s a journey and learning experience. So go out there, and try to monetize an aspect of your blog, who knows it may pay for itself and put some spending money in your pocket.

e-books Blogging Tips

The Power of E-Books in Helping Your Blog

With 2017 upon us, the time may appropriate for your blog or business to consider other means of sharing insightful content. This is where the power of electronic books becomes evident.

Even though an e-book has nothing to do with blogging at first glance, it is nevertheless a way to expand upon your thoughts on an issue. More than that, writing an e-book is more thrilling than simply writing a business-tailored white paper which is usually more technical and harder for the reader to follow.

What is an E-Book and How Is It Useful?

Simply put, an e-book is an electronic book usually made available in a PDF format. Anyone can write an e-book and it is quite an accomplishment to say that you dedicated so much time to writing one!

Usually, bloggers decide to write an e-book to solve an issue facing their target audience. For example, one e-book we are currently working on is titled Crafting the Perfect Blog: A Step-by-Step Guide.

At Blog Trackr, we recognize that many people interested in blogging are unsure where to start. While we have run posts about blogging, it is always helpful to investigate an issue in more depth. We are hoping that this E-book can fulfill the desires of one of our target audiences: beginners interested in blogging.

Similarly, as a writer for your blog or business, you too can propose writing an informative E-book that provides much more information than a simple blog post.

How to Write an E-Book

The first step to writing an e-book is obviously to come up with a topic that will interest your readers and satisfy their desires. If you are a travel blog, for example, you could write in-depth accounts of places with cultural significance and why it is essential for tourists to visit these places.

If you are a political blog focused on human rights, you could write an e-book devoted to one area under that huge umbrella such as access to water or education in developing countries.

Well-written e-books typically have places for interesting graphics and images and are written in a much-lighter style than a white paper.

Where to Publish an E-Book

After spending all that time writing an e-book, you may wonder how you can get that e-book out to your readers?

The first answer is, obviously, having it available for download on your site. Ideally, the e-book should be free to download and should not have a requirement such as entering your email address to download the book. These requirements could turn prospective readers away from your book!

Another reason why your e-book should be free to download is the fact that, with a well-crafted title, your e-book remains a permanent fixture leading people to your site. Like a blog post, an e-book will come up in search results if it has a unique title.

However, there are other places where you can make your e-book available such as Amazon KDP, Kobo Writing Life, Nookpress, Draft2Digital or Smashwords.

Places like these are ideal if you write a much longer e-book that you may want to sell online.

In most cases, making your e-book readily available for free will lead to better results, particularly if it resonates with your target audience.

Conclusion

Now that you have some ideas about an e-book, be on the lookout for our e-book and think about using these tips to write your own!

Blogging Resolutions Blogging Tips

5 Blogging Resolutions for 2017

As 2016 ends, it is fun to look towards 2017 as a new year for new possibilities and opportunities. Here at Blog Trackr, we are looking forward to a year when we can provide the latest content you want and achieve your blogging goals. With that in mind, here are five blogging resolutions for 2017.

Start Blogging

The most obvious resolution is to start blogging! It will seem daunting at first to try and distinguish your blog from others out there, but there are some rules to consider before you begin blogging.

One of the first ways to start blogging is to survey the current blogs in your business field or your interest area. After that, you should start commenting on others’ blogs to offer your own insights and keep the conversation going.

When you comment on others’ blogs make sure you contribute relevant and valuable content. You can leave a link to your own website, but make sure your comments are more substantive than that.

Set Up Blogging Guidelines

If you are a small business looking to make an imprint in one blogging niche, one problem that could arise is the question of ethics.

Before you start blogging, think about composing a document of employee blogging guidelines ranging from rules governing transparency, privacy, disclosure and truthfulness.

You should set up these guidelines so that writers know what they can say and present your business in the most honest way.

Customize Your Blog

If your blog or business is already up and running, you may think about changing up the blog’s design in 2017.

You can choose to customize your blog by selecting your own domain name or linking your blog to your company page.

You can also choose to give your blog a facelift by changing its logo, design, font and colors. With the help of a graphic designer, you could even give your blog a distinctive look that will make it stand out on the web.

Don’t Write Excessively About Your Company or Products

At first glance, this may seem to be counter-intuitive. Why wouldn’t you want to blog about your company or products?

If you take time to think about it, your company and your products should already have a detailed page as part of your website.

Instead, think about your viewers first. What kind of content do they want to read? What void can your blog or business fulfill that would satisfy those desires?

Your blog should inform, educate and entertain. This blogging resolution may be the most difficult, but if you are looking to change for 2017, why not take a risk and try something new?

Make Sure People Find Your Content

If you are tracking your blog’s analytics and realize that your blog is not connecting with your audience, part of the problem could be that people are not finding it.

When you write a new post, make sure you plug it on social media channels and make sure people can find your blog easily on your website.

Once people find your content, make sure you enable comments and allow people to contact you for more information or for feedback.

Conclusion

When you begin 2017, make sure you take some of these blogging resolutions with you!

Blog Trackr looks forward to 2017 to help make you a thought leader in your blogging niche! See you then!

 

Squarespace review Blogging Basics

What should I build my blog on? Squarespace review

We ran our WordPress review a short while back, so let’s move on to another popular content platform: Squarespace. I’m sure you’ve heard of them. The slick, modern site platform came onto the scene recently and has risen in popularity. And for good reason: they stand by making stunning design easy and affordable–something many small businesses and startups appreciate. So let’s get to our Squarespace review!

What do we really think? This post will give a review of Squarespace and how it stacks up against other popular platforms helping you make the right decision for your blog.

Squarespace

Squarespace has the same prodigious story of many successful startups. Founded by a lone-wolf CEO in his dorm room and now, over 10 years later, is an immense success. That’s a bit tongue-in cheek and this is not to knock their success in the least. If you say you’re not impressed then you’re lying; or jealous. Squarespace took what WordPress did to make website building mainstream and went niche with a focus on elegance and design (hey we’ve talked about how going niche helps…).

WordPress pretty much commands the CMS market, but Squarespace occupies the corner of the market that is obsessed with sleek and modern design. And they’ve become pretty darn successful at it with over 1M paid users and more coming each year.

So let’s get into the meat and potatoes of the post–what is our verdict?

Benefits

Beautiful designs

First and foremost Squarespace cares about design. They believe in simple, clean, elegant sites for the common man. Gone are the days where you’d have to shell out $50/hr to a developer to build you a parallax site, now you can have one in a matter of hours or minutes. With out-of-the-box templates that are beautiful to say the least, builing a stunning website or blog is easy.

Coming from a company who’s office looks like this would we expect anything less?

squarespace-desks . squarespace-offices-interior-design-print-shop-conversion-aplusi-a-and-i-new-york-usa_dezeen_2364_ss_3-852x609

We ran a post on minimalism a while back as far as design trends are concerned. If you’re looking for a premier product on a minimalist design, Squarespace may be the one for you.

Extensive styling options

With an emphasis on design comes an expansive array of styling tools. Squarespace offers well-designed templates up front (as opposed to crappy half-baked sites that need to be tweaked) allowing you to get a head start on creating a premier blog or site. From there you can use their drag-and-drop functionality to change the look and feel of your blog, which allows you to add sections and pieces of content where need be. What’s more, you can alter the colors and images to perfect your brand. If your blog is design-oriented, Squarespace makes it easy and stupidly simple.

Remember though, much of what makes these tempaltes look so good is high-quality photographs. If you have grainy or low-quality images they will bring your site’s design down and negate the effect of premier templates.

Ease of use

One knock on platforms like WordPress is the steep learning curve. Squarespace stands in stark contrast presenting a platform that is easy to navigate and user friendly.

Squarespace offers a fully code-free platform if need be, giving you a rich design experience with a low barrier to entry. Want to dive in a bit deeper though? You can modify the CSS of your site and revert back to the original settings giving you a bit of flexibility to give your blog a unique twist. For the newbie blogger who really just wants a pretty site and focus on the writing aspect, Squarespace has a lot to offer and makes designing and cultivating your brand hassle-free.

Negatives

Limited access to code

Chastise me all you want for being a techie, but I like accessing the nuts and bolts of a site. Maybe I’m biased but I like being able to access the code, whether it’s the CSS or the actual template to make modifications. Not only that but being able to add jQuery and JavaScript is a huge plus. It allows you to take a static site and make it dymanic and engaging–something people will remember.

Then again if you’re just a blogger, that really doesn’t matter much so at the end it’s a bit of a wash. If having access to the code isn’t a big dealbreaker then by all means go for it. However if you want to make custom modifications Squarespace may not be the best option.

Cost

You definitely get what you pay for. If you want premium design at minimal effort then you’ll have to pay a bit more. Squarespace charges $12/month for up to 20 site pages. This is already more expensive than WordPress (around $80/year with unlimited pages) but that’s the beginning. Squarespace offers a business plan at $18/month which translates to $216/year. Not egrigious but it can add additional costs for the ease of use.

The prices increase if you use their E-Commerce solutions as a basic store adds $26/month while an advanced option tacks on $40/month. This can get quite expensive if you want a large site, as you can easily spend upwards of $50/month just to maintain and run your site compared to other cheaper and more affordable options.

For a large and already-successful blog (or someone with money to burn), Squarespace is a great investment. For a smaller blog though, you’ll burn through your cash pretty quickly.

Verdict

There is a lot to like about Squarespace. Sleek and modern design becomes highly accessible on their platform allowing bloggers to showcase their work in a stunning display. In minutes you can have a premier design to showcase your work, giving yourself time for a much-deserved pat on the back. That said, be prepared for the higher cost than WordPress, as well as a limited access to make drastic or noticeable changes to the template’s structure. For the newbie blogger or someone who wants to pick a design and forget it, Squarespace is a great option. For bloggers on a budget, or who are looking for more of a challenge going elsewhere may be best.

Overall I give Squarespace a B+. It’s simple and beautiful, but leaves a bit to still be desired.

Niche Content Marketing Tips

Niche Content and How Blog Trackr Can Help You

Simply put, running a blog and publishing content regularly is a challenge. How can you find the time to do it? One suggestion is to determine what niche your blog fits into. Blog Trackr, which went live online last week, can help in this process and determine what niche content is right for you and your blog!

What Is Niche Content?

There are millions of blogs out there and they cover almost every subject you can think of. Most first-time bloggers believe they need to cover everything, but that strategy often leads to frustration. You do not want to abandon a potential vehicle for getting your ideas out into the marketplace.

Part of the challenge of finding the right niche content is finding how your blog fills a need of your target audience.

Are you designing your blog to appeal to a specific geographic area? Or an industry? Or a particular demographic? These are the kinds of questions you should be asking as you examine the benefits of blogging and marketing.

Establishing Your Niche

The first tactic to find your niche content is to make it relevant. That seems simple enough at first, but what does that mean?

Make sure the content that you have is unique and provides value to your audience in some way. That practical information could consist in spreading your audience’s awareness about a previously-unexplored topic. Your blog could also just provide entertainment to your readers through its humor or interesting content.

Target Audience

Similar to your written articles, when you are looking to find niche content, finding your target audience is important. Right now, it may be someone ambiguous, but it is important to narrow your intended audience to one segment of the population. You may risk alienating your readers, but it is better to trim your audience down and then expand rather than start broad and abandon the project half-finished.

How Blog Trackr Can Help

If you are looking to find where your blog resonates most with readers, Blog Trackr’s software can help. With Blog Trackr, you can find your niche content by tracking your blog’s stats and discovering stories that will increase user engagement and client interaction.

If you are interested in finding out more, check out this video or try the app out for yourself here!

 

Going Mobile Marketing Tips

Going Mobile: Making Your Blog User-Friendly From Anywhere

Let’s face it: people seem to be on their phones 24/7. When you think about website design for your blog, you should not solely think about what it looks like on a computer. Most people may not access your site from a computer! They could be traveling, commuting to work or simply prefer to use their phone for business. There are some important tips to follow when going mobile and analyzing whether your blog is optimized for the mobile revolution.

What Is Most Important?

When potential business clients or fans of your blog access your website, what do they see? Remember, they are accessing your site on-the-go which means they are probably losing money in terms of increased data costs.

What is the most important feature of your blog that you want someone to see if they only spend a few minutes checking their phone?

If you are writing a food blog for a local restaurant, it could be the restaurant’s menu. If you are blog for a business, you could include a “best of” section on your mobile blog that features your most-viewed articles.

Mobile SEO

A search engine like Google has a separate ranking system for a mobile device called Mobile Google. Set up a site map for mobile users to rank highly in Google search engine results.

By creating a mobile site map, search engines can index your pages for mobile browsers.

Streamline the Site

When you are thinking about optimizing your website for mobile devices, you should recognize that long posts, anything using Flash or Java or elaborate pictures will cause longer loading times.

However, if you have multiple pages you would like to exhibit, make sure your website’s menu is easy-to-locate and navigate.

If you use WordPress as your online publishing platform check out this article for information on creating a mobile-ready responsive menu.

Integrate Instagram

If you are thinking about ways you could include pictures on your blog that can be accessed from a mobile device, remember to think about Instagram.

Powerful visuals can stimulate action so be sure to add Instagram to your toolbox of optimizing your blog or business for a mobile user.

And, if you are more adventurous, think about…

QR Codes

An innovative way of incorporating mobile marketing to help boost readership of your own blog is to include QR Codes on places where your blog or business could advertise. For example, ads that appear on trains or at museums could have a QR code on them to allow interested viewers to locate more information about their business.

If you are blogging for a business, you could include a QR code to a popular blog post or offer that your blog is running. To generate codes, you can consider using the Kaywa QR Code Generator found here.

Overall

With these few tips in mind, you can begin to optimize your site for a mobile audience and appeal to business professionals and casual readers alike.

 

blog trackr app now live Blog Trackr News

Blog Trackr now live for testing

I was walking to the grocery store this time last year when I first had the idea for Blog Trackr. I was thinking about what made Monstah Mash so special, and how I could help other bloggers like me.

I realized that directly consulting wasn’t the way to go. While the passion was certainly there, there are limits to what I can physically do. After all there’s only one of me and many blogs out there. Plus who would give their time and money to a 23 year old kid with a sports blog? So then I thought, why not automate it? Monstah Mash was a success because we curated a certain type of content that our readers came to expect. They wanted funny, so we gave them funny. We see it all the time though, radio stations, tv channels… people fall in love with niche providers, blogs included.

But that’s hard.

It’s hard searching the web for the right story. Trust me, these days any kid with an internet connection can start a blog and write about everything, leaving bloggers like me, well, a bit lost in the shuffle. Rather than write everything I had to write about the right things. I had to create truly remarkable content that would bring readers back for more.

Enter Blog Trackr.

How it works

With Blog Trackr you will be able to create a customized newsfeed for your blog at the touch of a button. It’s that simple.  Gone are the days of searching the web for topics to write and sources to quote. We do all that for you. We use the Alchemy API powered by IBM’s Watson to analyze your blog’s content and metadata, then search the entire web for articles that are comparable. We then create a newsfeed of these articles for you to view–all in a matter of seconds. Imagine if, instead of searching the web, the web brought the news to you.

We imagined that, and we built it. What took days and back and forth for approval is done in an instant as we bring the news you want before you even know you wanted it. Through Blog Trackr creating a niche blog and cultivating a unique brand will be as effortless as clicking your mouse or touch pad, and we bring this to you 100% free of charge.

That’s right, it’s free and you can access it here.

What’s next?

This is just the beginning, we’ve got some pretty big plans for Blog Trackr. Early in 2017 we will take our code to create a Google Chrome extension so you can access it from your browser with ease. Next we want to revamp and refine our algorithm to make Blog Trackr the best tool in your chest when it comes to blogging. While a machine won’t be an exact clone for your wit and personality, we want to make this app as darn close as possible.

Down the line we aim to create a mobile app that will send notifications as new articles enter your feed keeping you updated on the go, as well as the ability to “thumb up” or “thumb down” articles to evolve your feed. What’s more we want to track your top performing posts and keywords giving you a marketing and blogging assistant like no other. We’ll need you help to get there though, and invite you to take the next step on this journey with us.

So kick back and relax with your drink of choice, because we’re going to take care of everything for you from here on out. It’s time to have fun blogging again.

 

write better blog titles Blogging Tips

3 tips to write better blog titles

What’s in a name? Well, everything. Like it or not, the title of your post very well be the most important part of it. It’s what your readers will see and make a judgement off of when cruising through Facebook. And honestly, it’s the only thing a vast majority of people will read (depressing right?). Even better a majority of readers will pass that article along without even giving it so much as a skim. So let’s get to our guide on how to write better blog titles.

You need to make sure your headlines count, because everything rides on them. Literally. Or figuratively, either way it doesn’t matter, half of you who saw the title won’t read that sentence to care.

So obviously the titles mean a lot, so what can we, as bloggers do about it? “Writing better titles” is the obvious answer, but I meant to write a longer post than 120 words, so let’s get down to it.

In this post I am going to break down my top tips to create engaging and inviting titles that draw readers in, and more importantly encourage them to share your posts. The idea is to reach more readers right? While creating compelling content is always the goal, you need to create a catch to draw them in and get them to share, which is exactly what this post is about. So sit tight and enjoy the ride, I’ll walk you through my tips to create an effective and engaging title.

Make it catchy

Let me set the scene: it’s a Tuesday and you’re easining into the workday and scrolling down your Facebook feed. You see a series of articles and promoted posts and… they have these bland, generic titles.

Ugh the horror!

There are certainly worse things in the world. Though for the purposes of this scenario tell me, would you click on the article? If you see two titles, one that reads “Blogging best practices” versus one that reads “10 ways to boost your blog traffic”? Obviously the second one, you know it and I know it. It’s the one you will click on, and if you have to share one of them it’s the one you’ll share.

Now you don’t have to be an English major to write a catchy title, but try to give it some thought and planning and your effort will pay you forward. Really stumped though? Try to find a thesaurus for synonyms or an online alliteration tool like this one to get you started.

Whatever you do, don’t put a title that isn’t memorable at the top of your post, it’s a huge disservice to the work you’ve done and you don’t deserve that.

Keep it short

Want to know an easy way to write better blog titles? Keep them short, and the rest will be much simpler.

In today’s fast-paced world, we like things that are short and simple. No one has time to read through a long and convoluted headline–heck most don’t have time to actually read your article. They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but that’s not how we really behave. We make quick snap judgements based on what we see and act according to them. It’s a simple fact of life despite how we hoped we’d behave. So keep your titles short and sweet with plenty of “pithiness” and you’ll be sure to see the clicks rolling in.

Have fun with it

It’s easy to tell when someone is mailing it in, and it’s never enjoyable to see. There are blog articles that look like they were thrown together last minute with standard filler content, and then there are articles that look well crafted and made with love. Well, maybe not love but you get the idea. It’s the same with your title. If the title is bland and joyless no one will read your article, sorry but it’s true.

Try to have a little fun with your blog titles, use alliteration and puns, make an aptly-timed joke, and your readers will thank you. Not only that, but you’ll thank yourself as readers share that spicy tagline on their networks, and give you more readership than you would’ve had with a half-assed boring headline. It’s something I did all the time at Monstah Mash in my sports-blogging days, it made it fun for the readers and myself because let’s face it, writing day in and day out can be a grind. Check out a few of these choice headlines as examples:

Pablo the gutt: We got what we asked for in Sandoval

Sandoval’s collapse: From a big signing to a big failure

X gonna give it to ya, Sox win 8-1

They’re catchy, creative, and inviting. Rather than just write “Sandoval signing not working out” we had fun with it on the blog. And rather than just write “Sox win 8-1” I made a small pun off a popular song, and guess what our catchy titles boosted our blog popularity and gave us a readership in the thousands.

Going Forward

There you have it, our best tips on how to write better blog titles. Next time you sit down to pen an article, give your title a bit more “umph” to get some sharability to your blog. With most readers only seeing and interacting with the title of your blog post, it’s pretty darn important to make that title count. Getting readers is the name of the game in blogging, so have a little fun and create a punchy title that raises some eyebrows and you’ll be seeing your blog post shared across all your social networks and the pageviews roll in. So go out there and write some kickass titles and watch your blog grow as a result.

wordpress review Blogging Basics

What should I build my blog on? WordPress review

Trying to start a blog but not sure where to start? You’re not alone, heck it’s a pretty big world out there on the web so we don’t blame you for being stumped. Picking a name and topic for your blog can be hard enough. But what the heck do you build it on?

Well if you’re in a bind, have no fear because we are doing our series on the main platforms many use to build their blogs. We’ll start with WordPress this week and work our way through the major CMS platforms. By the end of it you’ll have a complete assessment of the options out there, and a little know-how in which ones to choose.

So let’s get to it.

WordPress

There’s no doubt about it, WordPress is a giant. WordPress powers roughly 26% of the web–a fairly sizable chunk if you ask me. Considering how many content platforms there are, that’s a pretty big section–and it’s growing. It’s not just that though, a ridiculous  amount of content is produced through WordPress. Just last year there were 650M posts were published on the CMS giant. As new blogs are created daily that number will continue to grow.

But first, let that sink in. 650 million. And that’s just 26% of the web.

Seriously is no one else astounded by that fact? The internet is growing more and more crowded and if you think 650M posts is a lot to compete with, that’s literally not even the half of it. With the ease and stretch that WordPress has, it’s no wonder they have commanded such a presence on the web.

With a gargantuan marketshare comes quite a bit of savvy, there is a reason WordPress is so popular: they know what they are doing. Not only that, they do it well.

Benefits

WordPress benefits from being one of the big players on the content management scene and as a result is quite easy and straightforward to use.

In fact, when starting this site they were the very first ones I thought of. They have a simple interface that makes blogging easy, along with access to some very cool and powerful tools. Coupled with a directory of ready-made themes, and a full list of plugins starting a site on WordPress is a breeze. Like a brand new box of Legos, WordPress gives you the tools you need to be successful.

For example when buying a domain you have the option to pay for WordPress hosting for around $70-$80 per year, giving you full access to the tools, themes, plugins and more. It is incredibly easy to create a well-designed site using WordPress. Not only that, you can integrate other apps such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, and more to create an automated and connected marketing system.

Interested in the technical side of things? WordPress allows for that too. You have the ability to customize any theme and edit the source code of your individual pages. Through that you can build unique and beautiful blog and landing pages, access the stylesheets, and build a site that will dazzle your readers. Don’t like the default colors and design of the theme? Well add in your own code to give it your brand’s twist.

Simple as that!

Especially if you are a business with a blog, you’ll want to experiment with this type of access to put a unique stamp on your site and make it memorable to your readers.

Negatives

While WordPress is fantastic, there area a few things that leave me wanting more.

For one, there are a ton of possibilities when it comes to features. However you have to add them in as plugins which can crowd your account and slow things down a bit. Sure having MailChimp, contact forms, site trackers and more is pretty cool. But it’s a lot to keep track of, download, and update to have it run efficiently. Frankly, it’s a bit of a pain.

Secondly, and my primary complaint, is that WordPress is not Javascript friendly. You cannot add your own Javascript files to your account which hinders a user’s ability to create a truly dynamic and engaging website. Instead you are left searching for plugins as a workaround way of adding custom scripts. Trust me, from experience this can get a bit confusing and is far from straightforward.

Verdict

Honestly, I think WordPress is great. I use it. I chose to use it. I will keep using it. At the slim yearly cost, you get access to a pretty powerful site builder and incredible platform that is easy to use and quite engaging. With code-free, and technical access it truly is a user-friendly platform though leaves a bit to be desired for those more technical among us.

That said I give WordPress an A-.

Stay tuned for our following posts on the other popular blogging platforms as we aim to help you make smart choices for your site!

Videos Blogging Tips

Going “Rogue” and Using Videos on Your Blog

If you are like me, you love to learn by absorbing information through informational videos. It is said that pictures are worth a thousand words. For your blog, it is always good to maintain a solid balance between text-based articles, infographics, images and podcasts. Videos are an intriguing topic because it seems like a daunting task to first shoot, then edit and then publish uniquely imaginative videos that engage your audience.

However, if done right, videos can aid the message you want to send to your audience. And creating and publishing them less time-consuming than you may think.

Gathering the Equipment

In order to create a video, you need to start with gathering the necessary materials. First, you do not need to immediately invest in expensive camera equipment. A phone or computer may best be suited to your needs.

If you already have a digital camera for other purposes at your business, the video feature on the camera will also work.

Audio quality will also be an issue that may need to be addressed before you start filming. You can buy an external microphone if the camera’s built-in microphone fails to meet your expectations.

If you do stick with the built-in microphone, be mindful of outdoor noise (such as wind) or indoor noise (such as an air conditioner) as that could impact sound quality. If people cannot hear what you are saying, they will ignore the video you worked hard to create.

Finally, if you decide to use your computer to record a video, programs like Camtasia for Windows or Screenflow for Mac are more expensive options that you could decide to use instead of a camera or a phone.

Shooting

When you begin filming a video, there are some additional considerations to think about. The most important of these is the role of proper lighting. Make sure that, while filming, the source of light is behind the camera or slightly to the side.

While shooting make sure you speak with a loud, clear voice. No one was born with an innate on-screen presence. If it helps, work from a script as you shoot the video.

Editing

If you are new to editing videos once they are finished, there are options out there that are user-friendly. For example, ShredVideo allows you to create a video without any technical know-how.

Computers also have built-in editing software programs such as Movie Maker for Windows and iMovie for Mac.

If you are looking to integrate music into your video, Jukedeck is an online program that allows you to use music royalty-free.

Publishing

Once you create a video, the question becomes where do you publish it? YouTube is an obvious choice. Much like other social networking sites, you can subscribe to YouTube channels and interact with your audience on comment boards.

Once it is published, you can easily share your video across the rest of your social media channels.

Much like other social media channels, the quality of your YouTube channel depends on the number of videos, the frequency of new posts and your video quality (always try and shoot in high-definition).

If you are looking for ways to market your video outside of your blog and YouTube, you can also try Vimeo. It has over 3 million members and more than 16,000 videos uploaded daily.

Going Forward

The key to producing quality videos is patience. It may not work out the way you intend at first, but your dedication will allow you to adapt as you see what videos fall flat and what videos really connect with your audience.