3 months ago I previewed ‘Google Blogger For Dummies‘, a new book from ex BloggingTips author Susan Gunelius. Susan sent me a copy of the book last month so I have been reading this 336 page Blogger Book over the last few weeks in order to review the book (and to help improve my limited Blogger knowledge!).
It’s currently available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and most online bookstores for around $16.49.
Google Blogger For Dummies
There’s a good chance you will see Google Blogger For Dummies if you are browsing your local bookstore as it’s part of the ever expanding Dummies range of books.
Just like the last two books I read (ProBlogger and Blog Blazers), the front cover is printed in big bold colours but the content is in plain black and white. This isn’t a major issue though the numerous photographs and screenshots within the book would have looked a lot better had they been in colour.
In total there are 19 chapters, which are split between 6 parts :
- Part 1 : Introducing Google Blogger
- Chapter 1 : Choosing Blogger as Your Blogging Software
- Chapter 2 :Welcome to the Blogosphere
- Chapter 3 : Blogging Basics and Buzzwords
- Part 2 : Using Google Blogger
- Chapter 4 : Getting Started with Blogger
- Chapter 5 : Setting Up Your Blog
- Chapter 6 : Writing and Publishing Blog Posts
- Chapter 7 : Enhancing Your Blog With Templates
- Chapter 8 : Adding Features and Functionality with Elements and Gadgets
- Chapter 9 : Managing Your Blog
- Part 3 : Making Money with Blogger
- Chapter 10 : The Business of Blogging
- Chapter 11 : Maximising Revenue with Google AdSense
- Part 4 : Growing Your Audience
- Chapter 12 : The Power of Networking and Relationship Building
- Chapter 13 : Boosting Your Search Engine Ranking
- Part 5 : Extending Your Blog
- Chapter 14 : Growing or Downsizing Your Blog
- Chapter 15 : Blogging from Different Media
- Chapter 16 : Moving Beyond Blogger
- Part 6 : The Part of Tens
- Chapter 17 : Ten Useful Social Networking and Social Bookmarking Sites
- Chapter 18 : Ten Common Blogger Problems and Possible Solutions
- Chapter 19 : Ten Places to Find Free Blogger Themes and Templates
The first half of the book (part I & II) concentrates solely on how to build your blog. It takes you through creating your blog, to picking a domain name to improving your design with templates and side widgets. As a self confessed Blogger Noob, I found this area of the site very useful.
Over the years I have worked with hundreds of different scripts but I still find it incredibly helpful when everything is broken down and explained with pictures. And thats exactly what this book does. Existing blogger users might find the first few chapters tedious because of this but I’m sure that they will learn a few things they didn’t know and at the very least, this book would be very useful for reference.
The second half of the book deals with making money with your blog, promoting it and expanding it. A lot of this section has been covered in other blogging books however everything is explained from the ‘Blogger View’. For example, Susan explains how to adsense to your Blogger template and in chapter 14 she shows you how you add additional authors to your blog.
Although Susan covers a lot of things about blogging which is covered in other blogging books (eg. making money, promotion etc), I don’t think it’s fair to compare ‘Google Blogger For Dummies’ to those books. For example, as far as making money and promoting your blog, Darren Rowses ProBlogger book is perhaps more complete. However, someone who is using the Blogger platform or intends to will definately get more from this book.
As I mentioned previously, I am not too familar with the Blogger platform and this is the first Blogger related book I have read. Though I believe that the majority of Blogger users, particularly newbies, will get a lot of this book.
All in all, ‘Google Blogger For Dummies’ is a well written and well constructed book which goes at a good pace and should help Blogger users with building, expanding and promoting their blog. Recommend 🙂
The ‘What the Aff’ Daily Newsletter for Affiliate Marketers
It can be difficult to keep up with the world of affiliate marketing, just like with any other fast-moving industry. There’s always something happening, and these changes and new developments can have an immediate and dramatic impact on your bottom line. What can you expect with the next Google algorithm update? Is there a new Facebook feature you should know about and integrate into your marketing campaigns?
At the same time, your time is understandably at a premium and you can’t spend hours on end every day catching up on every affiliate marketing news stories that passes through the web. You just want the freshest content delivered in a convenient and easily understood way. To that end, What the Aff is an especially appealing newsletter that caters specifically to this kind of audience.
Be in the Know
You may already be familiar with Manu Cinca from his other ventures in the online world. And the What the Aff newsletter is his “absolute focus” right now.
Rather than bombard you with dozens and dozens of lengthy news articles, rather than provide a bottomless lists of links around the web that’ll occupy you for hours without the equivalent benefit, What the Aff is an affiliate daily newsletter with “carefully curated affiliate marketing news, tech, and actionable advice.”
Cinca is taking the time to find and share only the stories that matter the most to affiliate marketers. The newsletter is delivered fresh every weekday to your inbox via email, making for a quick and convenient update on what you need to know about affiliate marketing today. The newsletter is designed to be consumed in five minutes or less, so you can “be in the know” and get on with your day.
Your Daily Fresh Take
The newsletter isn’t “over-designed,” and is instead offered in a lightweight, easy to skim format. Each daily newsletter typically contains about five stories in total; in addition to the title for each story, you’ll also find a convenient highlighted “category” like “Facebook” or “GDPR,” so you’ll know what to expect. That way, you can even focus on the stories that interest you the most and skip the others.
The writing is conversational yet authoritative in tone. The information is presented in easy to understand language, including relevant links as appropriate if you’re interested in learning more. You might learn about finding great e-commerce suppliers one day, Bing Ads artificial intelligence the next, and the psychology behind clicking search ads in another.
Paragraphs are rarely more than a few sentences, making for easily digestible (and skimmable) content. Opinions are backed up by relevant statistics and data, and you are oftentimes provided with actionable steps or guidance for where you can go from here. For example, in learning about clicking on search ads, you’re reminded to “always make sure your ad copy is highly relevant to the users’ search query.” You’re also told YouTube ads, display ads and Facebook ads should be used together “to build the brand awareness” before you start creating “branded campaigns using Search Ads to drive the final push” toward conversions.
At the end of each newsletter is a section called “Poolside Chat.” This is where you’ll find “cool tech, (funny) business, lifestyle and all other things affiliates like to chat about.” Some of this stuff might not be directly related to affiliate marketing but still of interest to people who are in the business of affiliate marketing. And you’ll get some clever memes along the way too.
Tasteful Sponsored Content
While there is certainly a website component to What the Aff (more on that in just a moment), the primary focus is understandably on the email newsletter. What you’ll find with some other websites and newsletters in this space is that they can overwhelm you with all the ads, burying the actual content that you want to read. That’s not at all the case with What the Aff.
Near the top of each newsletter, under the header summary for the day, you’ll find a small logo that indicates the day’s newsletter is “brought to you by” XYZ company. The logo is clickable, so you can click on it to visit the sponsor’s website.
Just before the Poolside Chat section of the What the Aff newsletter, you’ll typically also find a sponsored story that is clearly indicated as such. The sponsored story will relate back to the sponsor (of course), but it’s not just one sales pitch after another. This is tasteful content that may actually be useful to you, just like all the other (non-sponsored) content in the newsletter.
For example, a sponsor of one of the more recent newsletters was STALCO. The sponsored story talks about how you may be paying way too much customs duty if you are importing products from overseas and selling to US customers. You are then told about the Duty Drawback Program and how you can take advantage of it, recouping most, if not all, of your import duty.
The Online Archive
For the greatest level of convenience and ease of access, you’re naturally encouraged to subscribe to the What the Aff newsletter via email. There’s a simple, one-line sign-up form on the main page of the site. You can’t miss it and it’s 100% free.
If you’d prefer to read the newsletters on the web, or if you want to reference back to older issues, the full newsletter archive is also offered on the What the Aff website. Based on my own experience these past few days, the daily newsletter appears to be published in the archive on the same day the newsletter is sent out via email.
In either case, the content you’ll get via this newsletter is highly actionable, decidedly relevant, and well-written without fluff. It’s just the straight goods, in five minutes or less. What more could you ask for?
Social Shark Automates Your Instagram Engagement Throughout 2019
When it comes to active engagement, few social media platforms can hold a candle to Instagram. Users not only check their Instagram feeds and post to their profiles more often, they’re also liking and commenting on posts much more often too. From a branding and marketing perspective, Instagram is one of the most powerful opportunities to come along in recent years… but how can you get noticed among that deluge of content?
Organic engagement is a big part of that equation, but not too many people have the actual time and resources to dedicate to performing that task manually on a consistent basis. Instead, you need to look into a tool like Social Shark that can grow your Instagram account quickly and in a sustainable way. And it comes with even more functionality too.
Doing It for the ‘Gram
There are a few components to the Social Shark package. One of these is the Instagram tracking tool. Simply posting and engaging aren’t enough. You need to see what’s actually working so you know where you to focus your efforts.
That which gets measured gets managed. Just as you should have tools set up to track and analyze the traffic that you get to your website, just as you would track any advertising campaign to determine your return on investment (ROI), the exact same thing is true when it comes to your efforts on Instagram.
You need the ability to analyze your posts, engagement, growth and more in as efficient and as user-friendly a fashion as possible. With Social Shark, you get easy-to-understand graphs and charts that visualize the data, including information on followers, engagement rate, future projections, top posts and so on.
Automate Your Engagement
When you first log into your Social Shark account, you’ll need to connect your Instagram account to it. All the navigation is found along the left sidebar, and you’ll be shown some new posts and guides on how to improve your Instagram performance too.
In addition to the ability to grow your Instagram followers by buying followers, perhaps the most important aspect of Social Shark is that you can automate your engagement. The key to Instagram is visibility, so people need to see that your account exists and that it is of interest to them. However, you probably don’t want to spend hours on end finding posts to like and comment on yourself by hand, right?
The automation process with Social Shark lets you define a number of key criteria. From there, the tool will automatically go around on Instagram to find posts under your defined profile, liking and commenting on posts, as well as following and unfollowing accounts. This organic marketing technique is remarkably effective, as it appears totally natural.
In order to get the most of this tool, you’ll need to configure your filters to best suit what you are trying to accomplish and who you are trying to target. There are fields to decide on media age, minimum/maximum followers, minimum/maximum likes, minimum/maximum followings, and gender.
Below that, there are areas where you can type in the hashtags, users, and specific areas you want to target. In the case of users, you can look to competitors and other accounts in your niche. If you’re Nike, for instance, there’s a good chance that people who follow Reebok and Adidas are interested in you too. Other options include the ability to add to keyword blacklists and define several comments that can be posted on your behalf automatically.
Generate the Right Hashtags
Another very useful aspect of Social Shark is its Instagram hashtag generator. It does exactly what you think it does, and it does it very well.
While it’s common to find a hashtag generator wherein you provide a keyword and the tool returns several related keywords and hashtags, Social Shark goes much further than that. While you can certainly generate by keyword, you can also generate a list of relevant hashtags by uploading an image or providing a webpage URL.
To test this out, I uploaded a picture of a sports car. As you can see in the screenshot above, the Social Shark Instagram hashtag generator then produced such hashtags as #race, #competition and #vehiclewrap. You can see the relative popularity of the hashtag, and then you can select which ones you’d like to use. When you click on the “Copy Selected Hashtags” button at the bottom, the selected hashtags are copied to your clipboard for insertion in your image caption or comments.
Buy Likes and Views Too
As mentioned earlier, a service offered by Social Shark is the option to buy likes and views too. This can help to jump start the engagement on your Instagram content, as users are typically more inclined to like and comment on posts that already have some activity on them.
The pricing on this service is incredibly affordable and it gets cheaper based on volume. Even the starter package with 500 likes only costs $4.99. No password is required, delivery is instant, and you have a “spreading option” if you’d like too. Scaling up, you get 1,000 likes for $9.99, 1,500 likes for $13.99, or even 20,000 likes for $75.99.
How Much Does It Cost?
When signing up for Social Shark, you can choose between two pricing plans, depending on the level of growth you’re trying to achieve.
Both the Starter and the Popular plan offer exactly the same services with exactly the same functions. As described above, you get such features as follow/unfollow engagement, automatic liking and commenting on Instagram posts based on your specific filtering parameters, and detailed account and post statistics, as well as access to premium support and the hashtag generator tool. The main difference is that the Popular plan allows for faster growth with double the engagement rate.
The Starter and Popular plans are $40/month and $75/month when paying on a month-by-month basis; you can enjoy a discount when paying on an annual term, bringing the monthly cost down to $30 and $60, respectively. In all cases, take advantage of the 7-day free trial and see what Social Shark can do for you.
Discover How Uscreen VOD Lets You Build Your Own Netflix
I don’t need to tell you that video has absolutely exploded onto the online scene these past few years. It’s easier than ever before to share your video content on such platforms as Facebook and YouTube, but these platforms were never designed for you to sell access to your premium videos. That’s where Uscreen can help, as it is being positioned as the “#1 video on demand platform on the market.”
What Is Uscreen?
Let’s say you have some videos you’d like to sell, either as individual outright purchases or — the increasingly popular option these days — as a monthly subscription. While it may not be overly technical to set up a premium membership website, the matter of hosting and encoding video content can be much more challenging.
You might consider hosting your videos on YouTube, but that means anyone can watch them for free. You might consider putting them as “unlisted,” but that’s not going to prevent people from freely sharing it either. You need to have a secure video-on-demand platform of your own. Netflix, Hulu and MasterClass don’t host their videos on YouTube and neither should you if you want to be able to sell that content.
The main idea here is you gain access to a fully white label video on demand platform that makes it super easy for you to sell videos online. You can create your own video platform that is advertising supported, you can offer a subscription-based video on demand service, or you can sell videos on a pay per transaction basis. The first is similar to what you see on YouTube, the second is like Netflix, and the third is like buying a movie on iTunes… except it’s all your content, all under your brand, and completely under your control.
The Biggest Features
Instead of having to turn to multiple vendors to handle the various aspects of running a video-on-demand website, the biggest appeal to Uscreen is that it is effectively a comprehensive solution that can take care of practically everything you need, every step of the way. The list of features is truly extensive.
This starts with content management and video encoding. You can upload almost any kind of content (not just videos), including access to a bulk web uploader, FTP, Dropbox or Google Drive. It can also handle live streaming and webinars, which can subsequently be sold as video on demand after they’ve finished airing.
Uscreen guarantees that viewers of your content will experience no buffering whatsoever, as the service utilizes the Akamai and EdgeCast global content distribution networks (CDN). These are the same CDNs used by big services like Netflix and YouTube, connecting viewers with the closest possible server for instant, high quality playback.
The monthly fees include unlimited storage and unlimited bandwidth, so it doesn’t matter how many videos you have or how many viewers you have. It’s an all-inclusive price, so there will never be any surprises.
And remember that Uscreen is offfered as a fully white label solution, so there is absolutely no Uscreen branding on any of your video content. It’s all under your brand for that super professional presentation.
Perfect for Online Courses
In addition to quality entertainment and any number of other possibilities, one of the more popular ways that Uscreen is used is to power online video courses. Perhaps you have a video series on preparing gourmet meals or on how to use a certain set of tools. With Uscreen, you can offer a professional online course for your students.
The platform goes beyond simply hosting, encoding and playing your videos for your students. With Uscreen, you can organize your content into chapters, set up a course track so viewers know what workflow they should be following, schedule content to be released at a certain time to correspond with your course schedule, and even add quizzes and tests to make sure they’re understanding what they’re watching.
There’s even a community aspect that supports collaboration, comments and more.
Design, Sales, Marketing, Payments…
The video on demand (VOD) features of Uscreen are obviously their greatest appeal, because they are what you will be using to sell and share your premium video content to your customers. As mentioned, though, Uscreen really is a comprehensive solution in this area by taking care of every other step in the process too.
It’s not just about hosting the videos. Use Uscreen to design your whole website by leveraging the point-and-click themes that look beautiful on all devices. The site designs are fully customizable, come with a built-in blog, and support custom domains. You can build custom landing pages, utilize advanced code editing, and offer a full product catalog to your prospective customers.
From a sales and marketing perspective, you can easily sell subscriptions, rentals, and one-time sales. You can offer free content to entice new customers, put together packages, offer special promotions, set up coupons and more, just like the bigger players in the industry. And when they’re ready to open their wallets, Uscreen offers a built-in payment system with fully customizable order forms. You can even accept payment via Bitcoin if you want!
This all comes backed with comprehensive metrics and in-depth reporting too. It’s a true business in a box. You just have to bring the content. Uscreen never takes a commission or a revenue share; you simply pay the monthly flat fee to use the platform.
How Much Does It Cost?
Considering that you could easily spend a fair bit of money elsewhere for all the non-VOD features of Uscreen, the monthly fees for Uscreen are remarkably reasonable. Remember that your storage capacity and bandwidth are never limited or throttled too.
The basic monthly plan starts at $99. This gives you access to drip content, email support, integrated email marketing, and support for up to 200 users. If you need to handle up to 1000 users and want more advanced theme customization, learning tools, and a fully white label solution, you’ll want to step up to the $199 pro plan. Or you can unlock it all with the $399 luxury plan, which includes affiliates, royalty tracking and video advertising.
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