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Blogging Guide

Write for Your Readers, Not Search Engines

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It’s one thing if you are only interested in having a personal blog, because you may not be all that concerned with who ends up reading the things that you write. However, if you have any ambitions to run your blog as a business or if your blog is for your business, then you are likely interested in growing as large an audience as possible. The more eyes that see your blog, the better, right?

Growing your blog and getting traffic can be challenging and you may be tempted to participate in some less than savory practices to get that traffic. There are many bloggers, for example, who seem to be writing their content with search engine optimization (SEO) at the forefront of their minds, casting aside any concerns for relevance, value, and readibility. That’s not the strategy you want to take.

The Importance of Search Engine Optimization

Before we proceed any further, we should note that we’re not saying search engine optimization isn’t important; it is. It really does help if you can get your blog ranked on the top search engines, like Bing and Google, for the keywords and keyword phrases that you are targeting. Can you imagine the kind of traffic that your technology blog would be able to get if it ranked ahead of Apple for “iPhone” in Google?

There are certainly several different strategies you can employ to improve the search engine optimization for your blog and we will describe these in greater detail a little later on. For now, though, it is far more important to think about your readers before you think about Google’s spiders crawling through your content.

But Your Readers Should Come First

Why? Think about it this way: If someone comes across your blog and finds that there is zero value to be gained by reading your blog posts, they’re not going to stick around. They’re not going to come back. The Internet audience is fickle and they are not going to give you a second chance.

If you put your readers first, then you’ll be sure to post the best content possible. These readers can then tell their friends, both online and offline, about how great your site is and why they should go read it too. Your blog can then spread through word of mouth and you’ll gain not only people who visit your site just once for a resource article, but rather a loyal following who will come back to your blog time and time again.

Organic Traffic Is Better than Search Engine Traffic

The great thing about “organic” traffic (visitors who come through “natural” links rather than through search engines) is that they are real people interested in real content. They may be inclined to share your content through their own blogs and social media channels, thus extending your reach on the vastly expanding Internet.

Organic traffic has the ability to improve your search engine traffic, even if you make next to no distinct SEO effort. This is because Google (and other search engines) places great value on how popular a site is, both in terms of traffic and in terms of inbound links. As your organic traffic grows, so will your “value” in the eyes of Google’s spiders.

Building an Online Community

At the end of the day, you are ultimately writing for people and not for “bots” and “spiders.” Even if you are targeting people to find your site through search engines, you are still aiming to have people arrive at your blog. That’s why you need to write for your readers. They need to find value in the posts you publish, otherwise they won’t come back and they won’t help to grow your site.

If you are able to build this increasingly large group of loyal followers, you can start to develop a real online community around your site. The most loyal of readers will become your evangelists and will be more than happy to help spread the word. They’ll want to share your posts with their friends.

It doesn’t take long for someone to figure out that you’re writing for Google and not for a human being. Articles that are written for search engines above all else reek of keyword stuffing and human incoherence. That’s not the type of content you want to produce if you want to have a trusted and respected blog. Write for people first. Readers are always your target audience.

This blog post is part of the BloggingTips.com Complete Guide to Blogging. Be sure to visit our Blogging Guide for the full break down of all chapters and posts in this series.

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Zac Johnson is a online marketer with 15 years of experience and also a blogger at ZacJohnson.com, as well as the founder of BloggingTips.com. You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Blogging Guide

5 Blogging Laws You Need to Know to Avoid Legal Troubles

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blogging laws

Creating a blog is one thing. Managing it is another. It’s easier to develop a blog from scratch than maintaining one. You need to consider many things to ensure your blog’s survival. One of which is its legal side.

Unfortunately, many neglect its importance because it’s hard to understand. Trust us — reading long texts of laws and regulations is no fun.

This guide, however, solves just that. We’ll help you comply with the law so you’ll stay out of legal trouble.

Privacy Policy

The law requires all websites, including blogs, to have a privacy policy. Everyone has a right to privacy. However, most blogs tend to go overboard. They usually get information from other people.

This even happens without you knowing it. A privacy policy tells visitors what information you’re collecting from them. It also shows the reason for collection. It also informs others how the information will be used. This is important, especially that your site automatically uses cookies.

Copyright Law

copyright law - blogging laws

Getting copyright protection is necessary to keep your content from being plagiarized. The copyright law does just that. It protects an author’s original creation, such as articles, photos, videos, and music.

This is very important especially that these works are usually seen in blogs. You can also profit from the law as you gain control on how you want it to be reused by other people. You can even sue anyone who misuses your copyrighted material. You can then ask for compensation for the losses.

Never copy or re-use anyone’s work without giving proper credit or seeking permission from the author.

Terms and Conditions

Nobody wants to get lawsuits. But if you do get one for your blog, then your best protection would come from your terms and conditions. They are your website rules which discuss which are allowed and aren’t allowed on your blog.

You need to have one to protect yourself and your online business. Terms and conditions explain refund processes and policies of your content.

It also explains the process of resolving legal disputes, as well as prevents anyone from using your blog without permission. Having thorough terms and conditions prevents copyright infringement.

The last thing you want is for your enemies to find loopholes on your blog. Avoid this from happening by having terms and conditions. It’s a great way to prepare for worst-case scenarios.

You can also translate these legal documents on your blog to the language of your readers. This way, they’ll understand how your blog works.

Disclaimers

Disclaimers protect you from legal liability as it clears things out. They make it clear to readers that your content is personal opinions, not facts. You need disclaimers for protection against defamation lawsuits.

This is important for blogs as you usually express your own ideas based on your reaction to facts. Blogs don’t necessarily convey factual data as it functions as an outlet for writers’ opinions.

However, it doesn’t mean that you won’t get sued if you have one. Instead, there’s a good chance you can defend your blog because you have a disclaimer. You also don’t want to be responsible for content websites publish based on your blog.

This is especially important if you’re sharing affiliate links. In an interconnected world, it’s vital to have protection for your individual rights.

Taxes for self-employment

taxes for self employment

Blogs aren’t just a hobby. For many, it’s also a source of income. If this is the case, then it’s a legitimate business and you need to comply with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You might be your own boss, but even that comes with added responsibility.

Pay healthcare and social security taxes from the profits you earn from your blog. These are called self-employment or SE taxes. Blogs earning $400 or more annually are required to pay these taxes.

Thus, it’s important to have general knowledge in keeping track of your finances. Learn basic accounting and financial management to not have any legal problem. It might be boring and tedious at first, but it’s very useful in the long run.

Also, pay taxes on time so you won’t get penalized, or worse, have your blog shut down!

Conclusion

Dealing with legal troubles is a big hassle. Not only does this waste your time and energy, but this can also lower your blog conversions. However, you can avoid this from happening by knowing the laws regarding blogging.

Ignorance of the law excuses no one, including bloggers. Thus, it’s best to spend time understanding all these rules even if they seem boring. Doing so will safeguard your blog’s interest, and could make your blog more credible.

Also, in your research, you may stumble upon tools that allow you to generate Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions pages for your blog.

While using them is ideal because they generate the documents in seconds, there’s no replacement to actual legal advice and counsel in creating these pages on your blog.

Therefore, if you want to be safe and keep your blog from getting into legal troubles, you need to consult professional advice and counsel regarding these blogging laws.

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Blogging Guide

5 Things Squarespace Analytics Doesn’t Tell You and Why It Matters

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What Squarespace Analytics fails to tell you.

If you would like to improve the audience impact of your blog, you need to know analytics. Numbers in analytics are useful tools that will guide you in creating more powerful content to maintain the happiness of your visitors. Using and understanding analytics can connect you with your audience so that they will keep coming back to your website.

Squarespace Analytics is easy to use and effortlessly gives you daily reports. You can see panels such as the Activity Log, Popular Content, Search Engine Queries, Site Search Queries, Traffic Overview, and even Traffic Sources. You don’t have to feel overwhelmed by these tools since these modules are there to make your life easier. You can get full-time analytics for the traffic to your website.

Google Analytics is another tool that you can use and include with your Squarespace Analytics, since not every report and feature is found in the latter. There are a lot of similarities and differences between the two analytics, but here are five things that Squarespace Analytics does not tell you.

1. Audience Demographics

Squarespace Analytics lacks the ability to report your audience’s demographics. It cannot show you the age and gender of those who visit your website, which you’ll need in order to target a particular group or niche when marketing a product or offering services.

2. Audience Interests

Squarespace Analytics cannot tell you what particular interests your audience has. This information is important so that you know what kind of content to focus on to attract clients with SEO and other marketing tactics. Understanding the interests of your audience helps you know what to offer based on their interests, wants, and likes.

3. Visitor Location

Squarespace Analytics does not tell you the location of your visitors. You will know how many visitors you have, but you will now know where in the world are they located. But this information proves useful, especially since visitors from other parts of the world may become your clients. It is great to know that you have an impact around the world, but unfortunately, you cannot get this report with Squarespace Analytics alone.

4. Behavior Flow

Squarespace Analytics does not generate behavior flow and user flow reports, which show you the particular movements of people who visit your website. These diagrams are meant to tell you what makes your visitors access a particular page on your website over the another page, or what makes them leave a particular page on your website.

5. Real-Time Analytics

Squarespace Analytics does not show real-time analytics. On the other hand, Google Analytics can tell you exactly the number of visitors you have at the exact moment that you view your website analytics. You won’t know the exact web page your visitors are currently viewing based only on Squarespace Analytics.

These are just some of the things that cannot be shown to you by Squarespace Analytics. It is better to combine the two, Google Analytics and Squarespace Analytics, in order to get comprehensive and thorough reporting. The latter gives an abstract report while the former gives a more expanded report of analytics for your website.

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Blogging Guide

5 Profitable Ideas to Make More Money from Your Blog

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make more money from your blog

Blogging is one of the best ways to make money online.

However, if you’re relying on the most basic and commons tactics to earn money, then you’re putting all eggs in one basket.

For instance, if your blog’s source of income rests on display ads, then you should find another income source quick.

Spencer Haws documented how and why his Google Adsense got banned. He already has earned over $13,000 when the terrible news happened.

At this point, there really isn’t much you can do but start from the beginning and work your way back up again.

It sounds unfair, but it is what it is.

As mentioned, you need to find other ways you can make money from your blog. Doing so lets you increase your profits and sustain your earnings over time.

Below are profitable ideas that you can implement on your blog.

1. Optimize ad places

I won’t blame you if you insist on using Google Adsense and Media.net to make money from your blog.

While Spencer’s Adsense account got banned, he was able to create one eventually.

He tried out alternatives, but nothing came close to the payouts that Google was giving out.

Aside from observing the rules to prevent your account from getting banned, make sure that the ads are placed at optimum sections of your blog. Doing so will ensure click-through rates and payouts.

Below are ways that you can feature inline ads on your blog tastefully:

  • Use your space wisely – Most ad networks offer different sizes for their ads. Use the ones that fit on the different sections of your blog to a tee. Don’t choose ad units that occupy more than the allotted width or height of the section.
  • Don’t compromise your content for ads – Your content is what drew readers your site, not the ad. As tempting as peppering your blog with ads, this may backfire and cause readers to leave your blog. Therefore, find a way to feature your ad prominently without obstructing user experience.
  • Split up your ads – Don’t lump together ads in the same section. Spread them out to increase the chances of visitors seeing and clicking on them.

2. Think outside Google Adsense

Why stick to one way of streaming the money-making ability of your blog?

There are much more reliable tactics to earn from your blog aside from display ads. Below are three of the most popular ones:

  • Sponsored posts – It’s highly possible that your blog has generated influence in its industry over the years through the content you publish. Leverage your authority by offering sponsored posts. Brands can approach your blog to feature their business on one of your posts for a free. In return, you link to their site so you readers can visit it if they’re interested.
  • Membership site – If you have fostered a community through your blog, then monetize it! Create a members only section on your blog where you publish exclusive and high-quality posts there. To become a member, visitors should pay and subscribe to get their hands on your valuable content.
  • Affiliate marketing – Arguably the most popular way to earn money from your blog. This method requires you to sign up on programs where you can place links to products and services on your blog post. If your visitor makes a transaction from the link on your site, you get a commission.

3. Clear and concise pricing

Let’s say you’re offering your services on your blog. You need to show to customers how much they cost. This gives them a chance to make an informed decision whether or not your services are worth the price tag.

But to increase conversions, it’s better to develop web calculator on your sales page. This is perfect if your offer discounted prices on bulk orders of your product or service.

web calculator example

Example of a web calculator.

The tool will calculate the price for them so they can get their hands on how much they’ll have to pay on you.

4. Build a product

As a blogger, you must have built a readership by sharing your knowledge and expertise about a subject. Therefore, it’s time to make money as a subject matter expert (SME) by creating a product.

Since you already write, the easiest way to earn money is by creating ebooks.

E-book writing is like writing a blog post but not quite at the same time. You need to understand the nuance of writing for either because they are a lot more different than you think.

Below are ways on how to prepare yourself in writing an e-book:

  • Write for a “need” – It’s easier to write about something that you want to talk about. However, writing for demand or need by an audience is another story. Since you want people to buy your book, you need to write it for the people who will most likely purchase it. By finding a solution that people desperately need for their problem, you’ll have a higher chance of selling your blog.
  • Organize your writing – You can’t write only when you feel like it. E-books are longer than blog posts, which is why you need to approach your writing strategically to finish it. Dedicate a time of your day writing the e-book and set a deadline for it. Doing so allows you to become more accountable for your product and your success.
  • Don’t be afraid to spend – You can’t do everything yourself. As good as your writing is, you need a professional editor to make sure that the e-book doesn’t contain grammar mistakes. You also need to get a designer to create a book cover and other graphics in your e-book. Hiring these people may cost you, but it will greatly benefit you in the long run once people see how much quality and care you’ve invested in your product.

5. Sell to your email list

As you pursue the different methods of making more money with your blog, you’ll encounter services and products that you believe in. This goes on top of the e-books you’ve probably written for sale.

To increase your profit, send a sales letter to your email list in the hopes of converting them into customers and not just your die-hard readers.

As a permission-based marketing tactic, people join your email list because they believe in what you say and do through your content.

Therefore, the trust is already there, making it easier for you to convert them into clients!

Conclusion

Blogging can be unpredictable at times. One day, you’re earnings thousands, and the next day, you’re earning peanuts.

Therefore, the best defense to the eccentric nature of blogging income is to diversify your income streams.

The ways mentioned above should give you an idea on how to approach making more money from your blog, if not get your started already!

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