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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.

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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3 Tips for Bonding with Blogging Influencers

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Forget traditional influencer marketing. We want to go deeper.

Bloggers teach influencer marketing from a less genuine space sometimes. Imagine learning how to try to get someone to do something for you. Manipulation marketing. Fear-based marketing. Problems arise; spam folders become your landing spot. I observe a decent percentage of influencer marketing emails in my spam folder because fear-pitches get labeled as spam and become spam, 100% of the time.

What is the solution? Learn how to bond with blogging influencers.

I remember people who befriend me. I admire people who endorse me or promote me. I appreciate people who buy my course or eBooks. I love people who generously help me for months. Guess what? Bonding with established bloggers influences the influencers. I do stuff for dear blogging friends I do not do for anybody else. If a friend sends me a guest post and their writing is tight, I place it. Even if said post spans 1000 words or more – my minimum count is 600 – I place it without hesitating. Friends found my heart. Friends influenced me through kindness and generosity. I am largely putty in their blogging hands.

Instead of trying to manipulate a successful stranger, bond with a friend. Change your approach to influencer marketing. Make friends. Help without asking. In time, blogging bonds form organically. If you practice writing, the world becomes your oyster because influencers take you to new levels of success, without you even asking.

Follow these tips to bond with influencers.

1: Buy a Resource

The best way to bond with an influencer is to get inside their heads.

Influential bloggers had to influence influential bloggers on the way up to become influential. Invest in a resource like my influential blogger eBook to learn how influencers do it. Speak their language. Connect. Take their viewpoint. Learn how to be influential yourself.

When you discover how to be influential through my resource you in essence, learn how to influence, influencers, by bonding with these pros.

2: Spend a Few Months Giving Not Asking

Bloggers I remember, then befriend, spend at least a few months giving and not asking. Someone buys my course, publishes 10 comments on my blog, and retweets my posts 10 or 20 times during a 3 month period. These people pop up on my radar screen because they gave and asked for nothing. Bonds form. Friendships develop.

Retweet fellow bloggers. Help them. Feature fellow bloggers. Open your blog to guest posting. Guest post on other blogs. Comment genuinely on blogs. Buy products.

Ask for nothing, for at least 3-4 months. Allow friendships to form organically. Blogging friends help each other because blogging friends trust each other. Influential bloggers fall into this helping lot too, as you generously serve them, ask for nothing and polish your writing skills. I gained more endorsements from pros by being generous than through any other method. Help influential bloggers. Ask for nothing. Influential bloggers help you without you asking for a darn thing.

3: Never Rush the Process

Some blogger friend requested me on Facebook a few moments ago. I scanned my messages to see his business pitch in the “other” folder. He simply rushed the process of pitching an established blogger. I appreciate the friend request but pitching your business before generously helping me ensures I ignore all future messages. He rushed the process so I let him go.

Perhaps he smartens up and begins helping me generously without asking for anything. After a few months of helping me and asking for nothing, we bond. We become friends. From there, the opportunities are limitless. Even if I do not use his service, if he has skills and a reputable business model I can share his services with my readers.

Good things take some time. Never rush the bonding process.

Allow bonds to form organically to do influencer marketing right.

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How Do Blogging and Fitness Relate?

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I spend 3 hours daily honing my mental and physical fitness.

In truth, you can and will succeed online following simple fundamentals from a generous, detached energy. No need to be fit to go full time blogging. But if you feel bad because your body feels bad and your mind fears losing it all, have you succeeded? I do not believe so.

I wrote an eBook sharing my daily regimen to explain what many of you readers want to know: how do I do it all? I am no blogging god. I am just human. But I write and connect quite a bit. People wish to know how I wrote 100 plus eBooks in addition to all the other stuff I do while circling the globe. Well, blogging and fitness are 2 peas in a pod for me. Both play a big role if you desiring leveling up and feeling good predominantly as you enjoy the ride.

Blogging and Fitness

Let’s say you wake up on a Monday morning as a full time employee who blogs part time. Feeling terrible and dreading work, why write and publish a post? Too busy. Do it later. Put off the post until tonight. But you feel too tired that night. Repeat this cycle for 3 months. 90 days passed. Still no blog post. Why? You filled your mind with fear and pain. Manifesting as blogging loss, backburnering the post for 3 months indicates fear in mind. Why fear? 100% of the time, fear dominates minds of people who spend zero time on mental fitness, never meditating or doing deep yin yoga or observing their thoughts and feelings. Most of the time, these same folks dominated by their own fears never commit seriously to being physically fit through exercising.

Feel good by caring for your mind and body. Vibe higher than fears crippling most bloggers. Imagine the above scenario with one difference: you devote 1-2 hours daily exercising and raising your energy via mindset training. Devote 30 minutes to power walking and 30 minutes to deep yin yoga. On waking that Monday morning, either a blog post idea finds you and you write the post, or after a few uncomfortable moments and feelings, the idea flows to you and you write the post.

I cannot explain this process logically because it flows 100% emotionally, feelings-wise. Visualize yourself in moments you feel really good. All seems possible. Ideas flow to you. Opportunities flow to you. Why? Feeling good magnetizes you to freeing, success-promoting ideas. Being fit mentally and physically is the easiest way to feel good most of the time. Plus in those moments you feel bad mentally and physically, you face, feel and release the bad feelings, quickly, because you feel mentally and physically fit, predominantly.

Gratitude

Being fit naturally alerts you to the success-promoting idea of gratitude. Gratitude builds blogging success because seeing every penny of income, every blog comment and all interest in your blogging courses feels awesome to you. Feeling awesome inspires you to blog for years generously. Blogging generously for years makes you successful.

Corey at the Good Oil Marketing retweeted my blogging course recently. I feel grateful he spread the word for me considering he is a successful, high level marketer. I feel these feelings and build on my success because I feel grateful. I feel grateful because I trained my mind and body to feel good, through being fit daily, in order to tune into appreciation easily.

Get fit.

Don’t quit.

Be a successful blogger by being mentally and physically fit.

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Why Doing this Works Better than Asking for Business Referrals

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After I released my flagship eBook – How to Retire to a Life of Island Hopping through Smart Blogging – I noticed something neat. My sales increased 12 fold the day I published a guest post for a highly successful blogger.

Seeing this spike clued me in to the quickest, easiest way to increase business: help people for free. Being generous improves skills, increases exposure and expands your business. Greater traffic and profits follow generous bloggers because helping people for free helps you be skilled and see, two qualities in every prospering blogger who reaps sweet blogging profits.

A large set of bloggers goes in another direction. Some ask for business referrals from trusted blogging buddies to drum up business. Feel free to take this route but know referral fishing is an ineffective way to drive profits because of two clear reasons:

  • referral-seeking seems to be time-wasting
  • referral-seeking rarely inspires trusted bloggers to take clear, business-building action, for you

I know 20 plus web developers. A few trusted blogging web developer buddies have reached out to me, seeking referrals. Two issues arise:

  • the referral seeker has no idea if I know bloggers needing web development; non-targeted campaign
  • I already know 20 plus developers, trusted buddies all, so I could never choose one to refer to someone if 20 seem qualified

Top Bloggers Become Ruthlessly Effective with their Time

Versus seeking referral business by asking blogging buddies if they know someone requiring your service, spend 20 minutes to write and publish a quality guest post for a blogger in your business niche. Instead of pitching 1 human, show off your web development skills for free, via a guest post, for 1,000 people. Do you see what I mean? Leverage. Do not ask for business. Serve for business. Although time needs pass and generosity needs inclusion in blogging business-building, helping for free is the quickest, simplest way to increase blogging business because you reach large, targeted audiences of clients with your attention and energy versus asking 1 person for business in non-targeted, ineffective fashion.

12 Times Daily Sales

I recall the day vividly, 5 years ago. I created and launched Blogging From Paradise. Before writing 100 plus eBooks, I wrote one. I did drive some sales through my blog but guest posting woke me up; why not leverage my presence and grow business by helping people for free, via different platforms? Eye-opener for me. Instead of asking, I gave. How easy? Giving freely is the easiest way to get freely. I observed a 12 times daily sales eBook increase for good reason that day: helping people generously through sites other than your blog is a simple way to grow your blogging business.

The simplest, direct, effective way to grow your business is to help people for free. Asking for referrals leads to a client or customer here and there, but full time bloggers are not in the “here and there” business as far as growing your venture. Pro bloggers drive steady profits through their blog by being generous on their blog and on other platforms.

Be helpful for free. Publish posts. Submit guest posts. Run a podcast. Broadcast live on Facebook. Help people for free to help people for pay. Versus untargeted referral-seeking, this is the effective way to grow your blogging business from a generous, genuine energy.

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