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Theme Frameworks – They’re Not That Simple

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Just how easy is it for bloggers to use a theme framework? Theme frameworks are generally created so you don’t have to mess around too much with the basic code. In fact in many cases you can use the theme options in the WordPress dashboard to fix your settings and get the look you want. Sitting on top of the framework (depending on the one you choose) can be a so-called ‘child theme’ which gives you a fresh look while leaving the underlying architecture untouched. I first came across the theme framework concept with Justin Tadlock’s Hybrid themes, which are still going strong, though somehow I never quite achieved the look that I wanted.

Thesis Theme

Next, I tried the Thesis theme. It’s amazing how much you can do with this theme (which is really a framework) without having to touch a single line of code. I love the fact that you can setup your layout, customize colors and tweak the search engine optimization options from within the dashboard. What I love even more is that any changes you make are stored in one of two files, a custom stylesheet and a custom functions file. (As long as you keep a backup of these files you will never have to lose your customizations.)

However, this is not to say that using Thesis is straightforward. When I first started customizing this site I spent hours running to research the things I wanted to do on the DIYThemes site. Often, the explanations were straightforward but occasionally I ended up breaking something and had to start again. Although it’s said to be easy, Thesis really isn’t that simple unless you already have great design and coding skills. However, if you want a search engine optimized theme that will look pretty good (if plain) as soon as you install it, then Thesis works. I have seen some awesome customizations of this theme, but mine wasn’t one of them so I decided to try something else.

Headway Theme

My most recent foray into working with theme frameworks has been the Headway theme. This theme seems more promising because you can drag and drop boxes on the page you are editing, save and see exactly how your site will look. Unlike Thesis, when you first install Headway, it doesn’t look that great, as you have to set up some options first.

The Headway theme offers many of the same options as Thesis but with the added advantage of a visual editor. I’ve found this theme the easiest for someone who has limited design or coding skills. You can select every element and see how it will look when you change it. If you don’t like something, just exit without saving and start again. Having said that, if you really want to fine tune your design you will have to make some customizations in the style sheet or functions file.

Choosing A Theme Framework

So how do you decide which one to choose? As I said before one of the key issues when choosing a theme is support. The DIY Themes forum is active and you can get advice on almost any topic related to the theme. There is also a large community of thesis users who are always willing to help. Although the headway forum has less to offer, the online support from other users is excellent. To give an example, I asked a question on Twitter and in 10 minutes I had five people offering to help, one of whom created a video. (Since both themes work using hooks, I sometimes find the help I need via the Thesis site and apply the tips to Headway; it works 90 per cent of the time.)

Sitting On The Fence

If you are comfortable messing around with the custom files, then the real question to consider is whether you want the instant gratification of drag-and-drop or whether you are happy to wait a while and see how it all looks together. I couldn’t decide, so I use Thesis on one of my sites (which I hardly tweak) and Headway on the other (which I tweak a LOT). My one niggle with Headway is that the drag and drop can be buggy, occasionally randomly loading an image on another page and forcing you to start over.

Finally, there is one thing that I have learned from this whole process. Web designers really are worth their hire because even with the help of killer theme frameworks like the ones listed here you still have to spend a lot of time – and patience – to get exactly the look you want.

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Sharon Hurley Hall is a professional writer and blogger. Her career has spanned more than 25 years, including stints as a journalist, academic writer and ghost writer. Connect with Sharon on her website or Google+.

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1 Failure Conscious Tendency That Makes Blogging Tougher

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Some bloggers cannot accept a good thing when they get it.

I have linked to tens of thousands of bloggers over my decade online. I love my friends. I take care of my friends.

99.999999% of bloggers are beyond grateful to get a backlink from an established, pro blogger like myself for many reasons:

  • Blogging From Paradise has a DA of 47; that’s some backlink juice!
  • Blogging Tips has an even higher DA; 48 I believe, meaning more backlink juice
  • you bond more deeply with me, and forming a deeper friendship allows me to open doors for you, via guest posts, more backlink mentions, interviews, prospering partnerships
  • greater blog traffic through exposure
  • greater blog profits through exposure
  • greater brand awareness through exposure, and also, your blog and brand aligns with Virgin, Forbes and Fox News, sites I have appeared on, creating greater trust

I could go on for 45 minutes. The list of benefits are endless. There are absolutely no downsides to being mentioned by me, on my blog or via guest post. Yet, some folks, because of their own fears, cannot accept these gifts freely and gratefully. Hey guys; I luv ya’s. This is not a rant, but a lesson in seeing good (versus fear/downside), expressing genuine gratitude and learning how to move up in blogging circles, by being fully grateful to receive the above gifts and by purging any fears or lack of gratitude you feel, when a world renowned blogger links to you.

Virtually all bloggers are grateful for receiving the above list of benefits. Donna Merrill is a blogging high roller and she responds to virtually all my tags and mentions. I would never expect her to do so because we are great friends, and she is so busy, but that is heart-filled blogging.

But a few bloggers clinging to deep fears have responded to my generous backlinks a few different ways:

  • some fear the linking structure is not neat and orderly
  • some fear they are not getting enough link juice via Google, and ask me to log into search console and make changes or whatever
  • some fear they are not getting enough links to a specific site or permalink, and ask me to edit the post, to change the link

All above motivators are fear, and fear is not real, so if you honor these fears and react-respond in the above fashion, you judge things or make a request from an illusory, untrue, false, totally not real energy of loss, lack, limitation.

That fear has 100% to do with you, and nothing to do with me. I will keep being generous with my blogging buddies, but I seek out loving buddies, not those weighed down a bit too heavy by fear, so fear-bloggers gotta go, along with their links, going forward.  Nothing personal, as I love and respect these folks. Just an energy thing.

We See the World as We See Ourselves

You see the world, you see other bloggers and you see their linking strategies as you see yourself.

If someone fears they won’t get enough traffic or clicks or Google juice through my linking strategy, that has nothing to do with the guy featured on billionaires’s blogs, and living his dream, circling the globe. That has to do 100% with you, your fear of loss, your fear of not enough, your trust issues, and other deep, fear based energies, begging to be unearthed and felt.

I am the mirror. You are the source. You are cause, and effect.

Picture break! Me during my trip to Fiji with my friend Olivia.

My dear friend Alonzo Pichardo sent me a Message months ago. He was deeply grateful I had linked to him 50 plus times on Blogging Tips alone. He is grateful! Does it surprise you that the guy runs a highly prospering business and leads a huge, loyal following?

David Boozer routinely sends me Messages sharing how grateful he is for my eBooks, courses, content and mentions, writing from the heart. More gratitude! Does it surprise you that one of his YouTube channels has registered millions of plays, alone?

Alonzo and David do not ask me to change links or put stuff into Google console or to change my linking style; they know a gift when they see it.

Vishwajeet Kumar feels incredibly grateful for each backlink I give to his helpful blogging resource, and expresses his gratitude on social media.

This is how you move higher in blogging circles, to see more success, versus moving lower, through fear-based lack of gratitude, and, losing link mentions.

Guys; see the blessing in a coveted backlink. Be grateful. See the good. Move up in the blog-0-sphere. Experience increased blogging success.

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Connect to Get Connected

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Do you want to know how I became a connected travel blogger?

I patiently read posts from a brilliant group run by Mapping Megan, published genuine comments and promoted my fellow bloggers.

That is it. I put in serious work. I also published helpful content on my blog, too.

Bloggers mistakenly believe in “getting connected”. Like being connected is a passive act, that just happens. By luck, or by lame pitches.

Do you want to get connected enough where you get featured on world famous blogs? Invest in my Teachable course. I teach you how to do it without pitching anybody.

I created the course after bloggers emailed me asking if I can feature them on Forbes, or asking how much it costs to get a link on Forbes. All these bloggers made the critical error of believing asking someone for a favor or feature – quite a passive, lazy, mindless act – is how you “get connected.” If this were true, 30,000,000 bloggers would be featured on Forbes, Forbes’ reputation sinks into the sewer and nobody would want to get featured on Forbes anymore.

Do you see how foolish and silly strategies like asking people to get featured on world famous blogs waste your time? Like me asking the NY Knicks for a try out, after I only had skills good enough to be a junior college basketball player. Foolish.

Passive Versus Active

Getting connected is passive. Not gonna work.

You EARN connections by connecting yourself to human beings, and you connect yourself by featuring skilled bloggers on your blog, by mentioning them and sharing their content on social media and by expecting nothing in return. I mention Paula Pins the Planet because she’s a first class travel blogger. I connect myself to her. Friendship forms. I connect myself to Rhonda Albom by linking to her on my blog and by tweeting her posts. As more and more friendships form, blossom and grow, my friends:

  • promote me
  • endorse me
  • help me
  • inspire me
  • buy my eBooks
  • hire me

People then say, “Hey, Ryan is a connected blogger! He knows everybody.” Fools believe me being connected just….happened. Passively. Lost folks believe I am lucky to be connected. The blogging brain dead believe I began blogging from a connected, influential space, when I knew more cats than bloggers 10 years ago, a lost blogging soul who did not know what a blog, was.

I spent 10 years of my life connecting myself to bloggers by promoting them without asking for anything in return. I help skilled bloggers because skilled bloggers provide you with helpful resources. Naturally, this level of generosity and calm, cool detachment helped me pop up on the radar screen of high profile brands. Kinda happens, when an army of influential blogging buddies endorses you, promotes you and vouches for you.

Connecting yourself to successful bloggers requires:

  • generosity
  • detachment
  • patience
  • persistence
  • authenticity

You pay a specific tuition for being connected; helping influencers without giving thought to your own needs. Then, over months, then years, you become incredibly connected, powerful and influential, based on your generosity and willingness to shine the spotlight on other bloggers, like Moss Clement.  Peep his generosity.  This is how to get connected. Be a tireless supporter of other bloggers, like how David Boozer and Alonzo Pichardo do it. These guys are generous! David promoted me more than I promoted me. That’s saying something. Then, Alonzo and a bunch of folks found me through David, and these blogging pros generously promoted me. I keep promoting them too, returning the generosity these folks have shown me.

Do you want to know my secret for being hyper connected?

Take care of your friends!

Think little of your own needs. Friends will help take care of you.

Connect yourself to people. Promote them. Expect nothing. Be super connected.

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5 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Starting A Business Blog

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How to Create SEO-Friendly Content for Greater Blog Traffic

Trying to compete in the world of content creation and blogging can be very tough. With so many active websites and blogs flooding the internet and search results with new content daily, how are you supposed to compete and have a successful site?

Some of the best ways to accomplish this, are to avoid mistakes that many have made in the passed — while also teaching to industry what to do and what not to do in the process.

That is what we will be focusing our discussion on today.

We all are bound to make mistakes, but how we respond and recover from those mistakes count. In the blogging world, it is no different. If you have just started your business blog, there are a lot many things you need to pay attention to. The best way to save yourself from mistakes is to learn from the mistakes of others.

Here is a list of few blogging mistakes you need to avoid.

Mistake #1: Posting every day

Thinking of posting a blog every day can blow you out. Don’t rush into posting more posts, but take time to research, write and proofread your post. No matter how many articles you post, if they are poorly written, it will easily degrade the reputation of your blog. Instead, schedule posting one or two blogs a week, depending on your target audience. Take time to generate good quality content.

Mistake #2: “anything” is the topic

Your blog should be based on a specific niche. You can go with any topic, but make sure you stick to the niche. If you have attracted a healthy base of readers, then your audience is likely to be interested in your subject. Select topics that deliver value to your readers. Don’t make them leave your website by writing irrelevant posts. Stick to what you know and avoid subjects you don’t have any expertise with.

Mistake #3: Not promoting your blog

It doesn’t matter how great you write, your post will not receive traffic automatically. People will not hear about your post unless you share with them. A perfect example of this can be seen in the free stuff and online coupon space. With so many coupons already floating around the internet, you need to create real content on your site that will provide value. You can see how a site like By Discount Codes is accomplishing this ‘monthly coupon’ summary posts on their site.

After publishing any new content to their site, they are then sharing it though social media as well. By internally linking to your own product or sales pages within your blog content, you will find much better ranking through your site, while also improving site navigation as well.

Mistake #4: Doing everything alone

Starting a business blog requires a number of resources, and along with that you also need to focus on your business. Trying to do everything alone can limit your blog’s growth. Whether you are a business owner, manager, entrepreneur or sole proprietor, not outsourcing various tasks can make you less effective over time. You can delegate some work to freelance writers, designers, developers and SEO experts.

Mistake #5: Know how to write long-form content that works

Visitors don’t like reading boring and lengthy posts. They are stingy with their time and the long post can easily daunt the readers. Come up with the posts of varying length, but never compromise on the quality of the content. People will even read a 3000-word post if they find it informative, and they won’t even read 100 words if the content isn’t useful.

However, it’s important to note that longer content does rank better in Google. This means you need to find the right medium between having too little and too much content. Don’t bore your audience, but make sure there is enough there for your content to rank the best it possibly can.

Make sure you avoid these mistakes, so you can make the most of the resources without wasting any time and efforts. A lot of people run blogs, but only engaging and attractive content will keep you ahead of the game. Always remember, the more you concentrate on improving the lives of  your visitors, the more successful you will become. Have you done any mistake that you would like to share? Comment down below.

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