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5 Free Tools that Help You Build a Community Within Your Blog

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A few days ago on Blogging Tips, Zac Johnson wrote about the importance of Adding a Forum and Community to Your Blog. If you are wondering why you should do this, be sure to read his post before trying out one of these tools. Not only does he explain the benefits, but he also tells you when the best time is to start a community on your blog.

Today, I’m going to go over 5 free tools that can help you achieve the goal of having a blog community. These tools integrate smoothly into any WordPress blog and are sure to help bring more traffic to your blog as well as increase readers and user engagement.

BlogFrog

BlogFrog adds a mini community to your blog complete with a forum, profiles, photo sharing, live chats, broadcasts, and much more. They also make it easy to integrate your forum with your blog via embeddable conversations. I recently recommended this tool to a good friend and she’s really happy with it so far.

The BlogFrog - Community for Blogs - Live Demo

A live BlogFrog community at YourLifeAfter25.com

Although you’ll actually create your own BlogFrog community, they give you an embed code to add to your blog. You can add widgets and even monetize your community thru BlogFrom (they offer a generous CPM by the way). Members can create an account or use their Facebook account to join.

BuddyPress

If BlogFrog isn’t enough and you’re looking for a bigger community, BuddyPress is definitely the best options. It’s a WordPress plugin that turns your blog into a social network with too many features to name.

BuddyPress - Social networking, in a box.

Tasty Kitchen's BuddyPress powered community

Some of the top features are: activity streams, user groups, multi-site blogging, extended profiles, discussion forums, private messaging, and much more. BuddyPress even has its own plugins and themes that you can use to add even more features and customizations.

Mingle Forum

Mingle Forum is a WordPress plugin that adds a forum to your blog. It’s lightweight, secure, easy-to-use and quick to setup. Their mission is to “keep it simple” and that they do very well.

Mingle Forum allows you to easily and quickly put a Forum on your WordPress blog.

Cartpauj & iComNow shows a Mingle forum in action

If you’re looking for another social networking option, Mingle also has a plugin for that called WP Mingle. It’s not as flashy as BlogFrog or BuddyPress, but it has a nice set of features including: user profiles, pretty profile URLs, friend activity, email notifications, Twitter-Like user tagging and private messaging. However, to get the forum feature you’ll need the additional Mingle forum plugin.

Tal.ki Embeddable Forums

As the name suggests, Tal.ki lets you embed forums into your WordPress blog via a plugin. It features: customizable CSS, private and public forums, email notifications for users, an announcement feature, the ability to lock topics, image and video embedding, and more. Users can also login via Facebook, Twitter, Google and more.

Add a forum to your site and allow your members to start their own conversations.

Another embeddable forum option is Vanilla Forums. “Vanilla allows you to create a customized community that rewards positive participation, automatically curates content and lets members drive moderation.” It also has a feature that lets you add forum widgets to your blog to help integrate the two.

Simple:Press

If you’re looking for something that’s really simple to to use and easy to setup, Simple:Press is for you. It’s the forum plugin for WordPress. It’s lighweight, fast, and has its own themes and templates that can be used to customize it further.

Simple:Press - The forum plugin for WordPress.

A look at the Simple:Press support forum

Some of its features include: forum ranks and badges, forum statistics, custom icons for groups and forums, RSS feeds for forum and topics, email notifications, blog integration features, SEO support, security features, and much more. Even though it’s called “Simple” it sure does have tons of amazing features.

With these 5 free tools, you have many options to choose from. So, which one do you prefer?

Do you already have a forum or community on your blog? If so, which tool are you using?

(Image Source)

Charnita is a full-time freelance writer and blogger with 3+ years of experience, and also the owner of SocialWebTools.info. She's also an early adopter who loves trying out new social media tools along with Web and iOS (iPad) apps. Feel free to connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

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Conquering Blogging Fears Sometimes Involves Shedding Blogging Tears

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Build a list. Publish posts frequently. Guest post. Work harder.

I did all that stuff. I still struggled. You did all of it, too. Some of you at least.

But I bet you we were in the same boat years ago. Perhaps you sit in the boat of blogging despair now. You did it all. NOTHING seems to be working. Create value. Make connections. No traffic. No money. I can advise good things take time. Or I can say to be positive and be strong. In truth, being positive, patient and strong all are effective means to conquering your blogging fears.

Shedding tears is the quickest, most direct, simplest way to conquer blogging fears. Every fear is scary because fear frightens you. Crying out fears literally dissolves the fear-fuel; as tears shed, so do fears. Chip away; be present, relax, and allow fears and tears to flow in a quiet room.

Guys; until you face, feel and release fears, you cannot be generous, abundant, patient, persistent and prolific. Why? Fear is an anchor leading to:

  • writer’s block
  • general apathy
  • laziness
  • indecision
  • sloth

I can advise you to generously help people but if you feel bogged down by fear, you will ignore me because you just want to help yourself. See how far you get blogging-wise helping yourself. Expect to publish a cyber diary. Nobody reads self-centered bloggers but the blogger themselves.

Crying Leads to Shining

Last night I worked through the evening. Sickness mixed with energy surges inspired me to work then to meditate at 3 AM. Fatigue and allowing unearthed sadness in me; I cried uncontrollably for 10 minutes. Guess what? I immediately felt better, peaceful, poised, calm, grateful and generous. Perfect energy for accelerating my blogging success. But not crying out those energies creates a fear-burden sapping my generosity and abundance.

From my trip to Oman.

Do Not Be Tough Because Repressed Fear Leads to Endless Struggle

I have seen many struggling bloggers work 18 hour days doing smart stuff but injecting work with fear-strain-force. Guess what? Struggles ensue because you cannot get over what’s still in you. Do not be tough. Do not repress fear because fear will destroy your blogging campaign. Every struggle is fear. Every failure is fear. Feel fear – however unpleasant – to move along the struggle, to be generous, to trust and to succeed.

In my eBook: Creating the Mindset of a Successful Blogger

I explain thinking, feeling and acting like a pro leads to professional results. How can you think, feel and act like a pro blogger if you fear running out of money? How can you succeed if you deeply fear failure? How can you be a generous, trusting person if you feel terrified to spend time building bonds and creating content?

Fear makes you a blogging fool. Blogging fools spam people, publish thin content and fail forever until they face, embrace and release fears.

Cry it out. Seriously. I felt such a purge last night. I continue to predominantly feel amazing, light and relaxed by feeling whatever emotions arise in my being. Nobody enjoys feeling sad, but in the same vein, you will be completely blind to and fabulously ignorant of good, successful blogging advice if you feel burdened by sadness. Nobody succeeds in a happy, abundant way being saddled by fear and sadness. Let it go. Process your emotions not from logic, but from raw energy.

Once the tears go, then fears go. From that energy you are free to become a highly successful, prospering blogger because you act from an abundant, generous vibe.

 

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Why Do You Resist Writing eBooks?

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Writing and self-publishing eBooks scares bloggers.

I piddled in my eBook writing pants until 2012. People told me I should write ’em. I looked for every reason in the eBook NOT to write eBooks. Nobody would listen. Nobody would buy. Nobody would care.

Turns out, people listen, buy and care enough to publish 5 star reviews for my eBooks. Look at the featured image for this blog post describing this eBook:

7 Tips for Writing Successful eBooks Quickly

I locked down five, 5 star reviews because I taught my readers how to write successful eBooks fast. But years prior, fear clouded my mind concerning writing eBooks to the point of me refusing to write one. You may be in the same cyber boat; but you better not miss the eBook writing boat. Lucrative profits serve as one part of the picture. Digging deeper, writing eBooks brands you, distancing you from the herd. Plus you feel good writing short reads and gain trust and extra credibility in the eyes of readers.

Why Do You Resist Writing eBooks?

Fear is the core reason. Fear of failure, criticism or wasting time sit near the top of eBook-related fears. I did not know how to sit down and write the darn things. Fear arose in my mind; how would I do it? Who would teach me? Could I find the process? Would I need special editors? How could I learn the technical steps for conceiving an idea to shipping the eBook on Amazon? Tech stuff really scared me; I had no idea how to save Word files with different, web-based extensions, let alone creating covers with proper dimensions via Canva to meet Amazon’s diligent standards.

From my trip to Oman.

Rather than learn how to do these things I allowed fear to get the better of me, refusing to write eBooks. But during a trip to India I met a reader and friend who begged me to write eBooks for a while. He had been on me for a minute. Meeting in person, he finally convinced me to write and self-publish an eBook on a lesser known digital platform. Later, I went with Amazon, and never looked back.

I had to dive into and nudge through deep fears related to failing and being criticized because I believed nobody would buy what I offered in eBook form. As my friend convinced me, I waded through ideas like wasting my time, getting terrible reviews and promoting my eBook to the tune of zero sales. Did it feel good to embrace these fears? Heck no. But the benefits of self-publishing far outweighed a few unpleasant emotions experienced during these fear-feeling sessions.

Nothing to Lose Everything to Gain

Gain by writing eBooks; if you take experience with you, loss is impossible. Even if you sold not a copy you take valuable writing, marketing and selling experience with you any time you write and launch an eBook. But if you generously help people and make friends, you will sell eBooks and help more people, reflecting gain back to you in physical form.

Digging even deeper, facing and releasing fears associated with criticism and failure benefit you across the board with your blogging campaign. Apply that same fearless nature to other aspects of your blog to boost your blog traffic and profits.

Write and ship.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

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1 Tip for Being an Intelligent and Prospering Blogger

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My eBook: 10 Tips to Be a Smarter and Richer Blogger

possesses an interesting cover for anyone not familiar with my eBooks.

For anyone familiar with my 100 plus eBooks, my cover is par for the course. Every single one of my eBook covers has been personally snapped by me. Images of paradise preserved by yours truly fit my brand, blog and eBook covers perfectly. Blogging From Paradise means retiring to a life of island hopping through smart blogging. Sometimes I visit islands. Sometimes I visit mainland spots. In all cases, my eBooks and courses – as well as my blog – bleed travel images because this approach fits my brand and is unheard of in the blogging tips niche.

I totally respect any blogging tips blogger who posts featured images for their blogs and eBook covers consistent with content titles. Imagine a light bulb and dollar sign for the above eBook cover, for starters. But I went with a photo I snapped in gorgeous Rawai Bay in Phuket, Thailand for my cover image. Why? Nobody else on earth uses their travel photos as eBook covers and featured post images in the blogging tips niche. If nobody else does it and the move completely aligns with my brand message, this is the starting point for being an intelligent and prospering blogger.

Smart and Prospering Means Different

Every successful blogger I follow sticks to basic fundamentals but deviates from the norm in some regards. Different means bigger bucks and smarter prospering because readers notice that different flavor stepping away from normal. Folks enjoy my covers and blog post images, even though the content and eBook title technically have nothing to do with travel images. Guess what? Adding my brand logo aligns the eBook cover with my blog and brand. People clearly see I am about blogging from paradise. Why not add travel images to each eBook cover?

From my trip to Oman.

I follow a high number of basic blogging rules; create value, build connections, be generous and have fun. But if you do EVERYTHING just like most bloggers, you get lost in the herd. Nothing makes you stand out if you do not choose to stand out with at least one element of your blogging campaign. I stood out with eye-popping eBook images I snapped myself, in a blogging tips niche. How do you stand out? Ask yourself the question. Be straight with yourself to answer.

Bigger Profits from a Smarter Energy by Being Different

Cindy Crawford kept her mole. Muscle Man Arnold kept his accent. Steve Jobs made computers and peripherals outrageously expensive and designed quite weirdly compared to other computers and peripherals. Guess what? Crawford, Arnold and Jobs are legends who we won’t forget for a long time. Different makes you a serious fortune because people notice folks who stand out in some way, shape or form. This different approach bleeds intelligence; why work your butt off if you look just like the next guy and offer a mimicking service?

But Make Sure You Follow Some Fundamentals

Steve Jobs did not attempt to make computers out of cardboard. Arnold did not try to speak German in Hollywood movies. Cindy Crawford did not try to rewrite the foundations of modeling by wearing a fake beard of photo shoots. All icons followed basic rules for their industries because being too far out in left field usually makes you forgettable, or, impossible to spot. Follow blogging fundamentals to stay in the game but find that one thing that distances you from the herd.

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