3 Mistakes I Made As An Amateur Blogger

Every successful blogger has been through the beginning phase (the struggling phase, rather) of this adventurous journey on the web. It has never been easy for any one to simply start a blog generate enough to make a living. All the bloggers that are currently making hundreds or thousands every month have all been through stages where their blog(s) hardly generated enough to pay for hosting their websites.

Even I started as a beginner (everyone does!). My first blog ever was raajtram.com which was a personal blog of mine. On that blog, I wrote about my own experiences in life and what I learnt from there. It all started with WordPress.Com (as I didn’t know anything about WordPress.Org and how it works!). Since the beginning of my real web entrepreneurship (with this very blog), following is what I believe have been my mistakes and why I overcame the same.

Practiced Unnecessary Commenting

In the beginning, just like every other newbie, I used to practice a lot of blog commenting without knowing the consequences. Well, there aren’t many issues with the same, but there aren’t any true benefits as well. Note that I’m talking about unnecessary commenting – which means commenting on blog posts from where you’ve hardly understood something but you yet comment just to receive a few clicks on your Commentluv Links.

This didn’t make any big difference to my blog nor did it affect the rankings – in-fact it might have improved the same. However, the mistake was that I wasted a lot of precious time which could have been used to write quality content.

Used Informal Tone In My Writing

Although I didn’t use any sort of slang language, my writing style was yet informal than what it should have been i.e. formal. I often used to give examples which should otherwise not be given in those specific articles. However, over time and since the launch of my business, I’ve been quite professional and so has my style of writing.

This change has led to a drastic change in the type of people I interact with – and it’s completely on the positive side.

Changed A Lot Of Designs

Until I was introduced to the Thesis WordPress Theme, I changed a lot of themes on my WordPress based site. The earlier ones were free, while the later ones were premium. However, none of them were as good as Thesis. The reason why I changed my themes in the earlier times was that there were new theme releases and they were free, and I just changed without thinking about anything (imagine!).

However, since purchasing Thesis and hitting the ‘Activate’ button, I haven’t gone with any other WordPress Theme. In fact, my business (ThesisLove) exists because Thesis exists. Yes, I’ve changed the internal designs of my Thesis based site, but after all it’s the same Theme.

Conclusion

All the above just conclude one thing – you shouldn’t be making the same mistakes if you’re yet a beginner. Don’t practice worthless commenting just for the sake of getting a few clicks – it is not going to help you achieve anything. Instead, comment to build relationships. It will help you in several ways. Regarding your writing style, follow my article teaching you about improving your writing skills by reading. Regarding your blog design, here’s what I have to say –

I’ve been using the Thesis WordPress Theme since a very long time, and cannot be more happier. It’s a giant.

Hope this post helps you not to make the mistakes I made when I was a beginner. Leave your insights in the comments section below.

5 Best Sources To Get High Quality Images For Your Blog

Images are essential when blogging because it is one way of enhancing your search engine popularity. For website content as well photos must be posted to a catchy front page. There are image sources online that caters to these needs that a blogger or a website owner could remain on their computers and not hunt for subjects to be photographed. The image stock agencies sell pictures that are royalty-free which means that upon payment you own the picture. The prices may not be uniform for every webpage but surely each has their own unique taste that business people in various spheres trusts.

Following are 5 best image sources where you can obtain first-class and remarkable photos. These companies are seasoned and reputable that their names still dominate the online scene despite years of existence.

BigStock

This company was built in 2004 and flourishing still to this day. Images can be bought here whether for blog or for web content. The photos are of good quality and the aesthetic feature is outstanding. A large collection is provided for the clients so they can get what is appropriate for their needs.

The feature of this photo vending site that most appeal to the public is their affordability without risking quality. The photos come from contributing photographers everywhere screened and approved by the site. The images are then downloaded by the photographers according to their category and named with the appropriate keywords. This is actually a two-way earning program and it works.

Pricing

They have combos where a buyer can choose among the packages provided to save money. The more photos you buy, the lesser the price goes. The images can be bought through credits estimated from $0.5 and up.

iStockPhoto

iStock started in 2006 as an independent business entity under Getty Images as the sister company. Breathtaking photography and heaps of them are on the site and categorized for easy navigation. This company started out with a considerable number of images sold to individuals and companies. Quality and artistry per se, you will adore iStock but the price has always lived up to the craftsmanship of the photos.

Photographers from all over the world applies here for their photos to be published so that with the sale, they get a commission. Whether you are a newbie or a professional you can apply as long as your images pass their requirements. They are screened for creativity and quality and if they pass, the photographers can now sit and wait for the money.

Pricing

The photos are sold by credits and each credit starts at $1.75 each if you buy an initial of 8 credits for small projects. You will pay $1.54 each for big projects if you buy 150 credits for start off. The prices go down when you buy in bulk. The photos can be bought for 1 credit up to more than 100 but you can also go to the dollar bin if you are on a budget.

ShutterStock

This is another photo selling agency that went live in 2003. In the beginning only the owner had his photo collection displayed on this site but in time, due to the increasing client visits, other photographers are welcomed to submit their work for selling. Just like the former two, the photos should pass the requirements to be accomodated. Upon selling, a fixed payment depending on popularity is awarded to the photographer. Everyone is welcome to contribute as long as the person is above 18 and passes the interview.

Pricing

The packages for subscription are flexible which are categorized into standard and enhanced depending on the need and preference of the buyer. You can get an image for $0.2 each if you get the year round combo pack.

Fotolia

This is a photo and video stock agency that has acquired a good reputation since its dawn in 2005. They are clear about providing their clients vivid photos with talented photographers contributing to the vast photo inventory. This company is a steady competitor of the former three and has the quality to keep up with the rivalry.

For the photographers who contribute to the webpage, they get a commission when their photos are bought. If it remains untouched for six months, their value will go down to the minimum. In the event where it goes alive again and gain popularity to the buyer, the price will go up. There is a pixel requirement for the photographs because the clients order them in different sizes. Enhancements are not tolerated on resolutions.

These photographs can be used for blogs, content and others. The resolution is top-notch as always and the choices are enormous. Just browse to the category of your choice and a world of exquisite photographs will parade in front of you. Whatever your purpose for these photos, surely you would find what is suitable for you because of the millions of images filed since 2005.

Pricing

The photos are sold at $0.74 for people who download a few and for the avid patron who requires bulk; the images are put up for wholesale with roughly $0.19 which is a lot of savings.

123RF

This company has debuted in 2005 with already millions of photographs in their catalog not to mention the contributions of other photographers for the succeeding years. They have a site built especially for mobile devices which is now serving their customers. This is to ensure that wherever their clients are, they will be catered for.

The photos are fresh because of the vast new pieces that come in a daily basis. You can be sure that the resolution is high quality. Choices for size can be specified depending on your needs.

Pricing

Prices vary with package specification starting at $0.44. You can also avail of the premium plan specifically for those companies needing volumes of pictures for the blog sites that can go as low as $0.25.

The photo libraries online provides their subscribers best resolution photos that are living up the price tag. You could get good deals if you are determined in searching for the best. This 5 photo stock agency are the established in this field that they have collected the finest.There are millions of photos that everything you search for is here.

4 Tips To Write Series Posts On Your Blog

Series posts are articles that are written under a specific topic, which has several parts – so called articles. For any sort of blog, series posts are really important to convey a specific message, or to teach a specific topic which can otherwise be hard to teach in a single post/article.

Here’s a list of some benefits of series posts to the author/blog-owner

  • Increased Number Of Page Views
  • Greater, Informative & Organized Discussion
  • Higher Social Shares i.e. Increased Social Traffic

And here’s a list of a few benefits of series posts to the readers –

  • Detailed Explanation Of The Topic
  • Wider Opportunity To Discuss Every Part In Detail
  • Easy Sharing Possibility i.e. can share one or two required posts with friends rather than sharing a full article.
  • Easy to access comments on single posts, hence knowing ore about the same.

All that explains the outstanding benefits of writing series posts on your blogs – regardless of the niche you lie into. However, speaking is a different thing and writing is another. Follow the tips below to make sure you’re writing your series posts in the best way they should be written.

Make The Titles Speak For Themselves

The title is the most crucial part of any article, and its importance gets a much higher ranking when it comes to series posts. That’s because any blog can have any number of new readers at any time – and without an appropriate title, it is impossible for them know what’s going on.

That said, you should write your titles in a way that any reader – old or new – can easily grasp the fact the he/she just read a series post title. Using phrases such as “Part #” or just “#” (the part number) can be very beneficial as well.

Use Informative Images – Usually Created/Edited

By the phrase Informative Images, I mean to say that the images should contain something that is unique about that series of articles. For example, you can add a small “Series Logo” (you must have created one if it was very famous!) at the bottom-right of all the featured images for the series posts.

This makes your series stand out of the crowd and attracts more visitors as it is something different.

Introduce With The Series’ Archive

Every article, just like this one, has an introductory paragraph. It is always advised, recommended and preferred to clearly state and included a link to the Series Archives i.e. where all the posts in that series are found.

This helps any reader to go through all the previous articles in the series – benefiting your blog more.

Have Specific Intervals

What if I started a series, posted the first article and then posted the second article a year later? Would it have any effect on any of my reader(s)? I believe not. That’s because a lot of things change with long times. Hence, you’re advised to have a specific schedule for posting the series posts – and following the same throughout the duration of the series.

Conclusion

Writing series posts is highly beneficial to your blog, but following some crucial advise will benefit it more.

3 Healthy Habits To Become An Efficient Blogger

Yes, blogging does need you to possess the technical knowledge of your niche, but there are certain other requirements & factors that bring about the efficiency in your work i.e. blogging. Many famous blogs only rely on guest posts, and the owner is only seen promoting his own products. On the other side, many famous blogs have a single blog owner that lifts all the weight and is the sole personality to take the blog from bottom to top.

All that proves one thing i.e. you need to be efficient in what you do. Hence, don’t take blogging as just one task of the home. It’s a whole new world and there are certain rules, certain requirements, certain benefits, certain disadvantages and certain competition. One of the ‘requirements’ is the health – both physical and psychological. Following are three habits that will help you lead a healthy and efficient blogging journey.

Write With Fresh Mind – Bad Moods Affect

Just had an argument or a fight over something? That’s normal for any human being. But did you just took a gadget in your hand to write your next blog post? That’s not normal. Studies say (and well, it’s common sense) that anything done with a fresh mind has a very high efficiency than being done with a pessimistic mind (you’re always negative when depressed or angry, right!?).

Writing – or doing any blogging activity (replying to comments, emails etc.) with a fresh and happy mind will lead you to a very efficient result in the coming future.

Write While Having ‘Your Drink’ – Coffee, Most Probably

Coffee is my drink (when I’m on business). You must be having yours. Any drink that soothes your mind and helps you focus more is highly recommended to be taken while you’re on business. You must have seen hundreds have coffee cups in their hands on their way from/to the business place – why? Are they retarted? No, they’re smart enough to know that they need a fresh mind to perform a task and their drink is the only instant way to do it.

but

..make sure you don’t consume anything that can influence your mind in any possible way. Remember the difference between ‘calming a mind’ and ‘influencing a mind’.

Write In A Pleasant Environment

Ever seen someone writing or doing any sort of business in a concert? I’m sure not. That’s because a concert has loud noises that can’t even let you listen to yourself. Just imagine how would the mind be listening to your commands? It is lame, but it is practical.

I personally prefer to carry on with my tasks in my room – it allows me the benefit to stay alone, have my drink, listen to my favorite music (usually on headphones) and what not. This environment allows me to be much efficient than I could be in my living room. That said, you should always prefer a place where you can talk to yourself i.e. a place that doesn’t have anyone except yourself.

Conclusion

Your health (both physical and psychological) plays a very crucial role in determining your business’s efficiency. Don’t overlook it just because you’re doing good enough – hope for the best, and remember that there’s nothing such ‘best‘ that exists.

4 Ways To Read & Improve Your Writing Skills

When you say that you’re a blogger, a major part of that phrase says that you’re a writer because no matter how well designed and well maintained your blog is, writing the content plays the most important role in it. If you don’t agree to this, you are probably not into writing and surely outsource that to someone!

Whatever be your case, it’s my honor and duty to help you become the best at what you can. Being a blogger for and since a long time, I can surely say that I do possess the qualities required to write an efficient blog article. Henceforth, following are five ways (suggested by me, of course) that will help you sharpen your blog writing skills to the maximum level. The effect would not be seen very soon, as practice makes a man perfect.

Read Your Competitors’ Work

Many follow the strategy that “He Is My Competitor. If I Read His Posts, I Might End Up Copying Him/Her!“, but I ask WHY!? I mean, it is totally in your hands how you are going to write and present something. Copying/taking ideas from someone – be it your competitor – is just an issue when you don’t want to do it.

Reading your competitors’ pieces not only helps you to learn about the subject being discussed, but also helps you to find out any mistakes that you don’t want to make in your work – finding your competitors’ mistakes is fun, isn’t it!?

Read Talents’ Work From Magazines & NewsPapers

The NY Times or Forbes Magazine doesn’t employ people from anywhere – they invite and endorse talents. And you’re one of the lucky ones who can easily get access to the outstanding works of those multi-talented people, right in the comfort of your home, room or even your couch!

When you read the articles of those highly qualified writers, you understand the dos and don’ts that you could follow while writing on your blog. And following those guidelines (which you have to find out in-between the articles!) is one in a lifetime opportunity.

Read Novels & Other Fiction/Non-Fiction Books

This is similar to the one above, but then book-authors live in a completely different world! Their writing techniques, their quotes, their usage of vocabulary, their paragraphing and what not! Novels are written to make your time beautiful and worth spending. But it does not end it their. Novels teach you a hell lot of things in life, which you would otherwise miss out. But it also gives you one lesson i.e. lesson of improving your writing skills. But to understand and find out the hidden skills inside the script, one has to read from a writers point of view.

Read BillBoards – Seriously.

It’s a must in every normal human being’s life to travel from one place to another, regardless of the means of transport. On the way (or around your neighborhood) are one or many billboards that keep on changing the ads with time. Those billboards are made to catch the attention of as many passers-by as possible. One thing you’ll notice in every bill-board is that they have a very eye-catching headline that grabs the eyes of the people.

What you can learn from there is nothing but what you see i.e. eye-catching headlines. Headlines matters a lot, and they’re the prime reason why people on social media visit your article.

10 Years Of WordPress as a Platform – A Never-Ending Journey

Without saying anything else, let’s first wish WordPress a very Happy Birthday! You may opt to sing the song in your head, should you wish to. Every site owner that uses WordPress as a platform to run the site has been highly benefitted from WordPress. There’s not a single, but several reasons for this – and all of them can be found in the infographic below.

All praises go to Matt & Mike – the founders who made one of the most important decision of the web i.e. to provide WordPress for free. It has not only helped the direct users, but has helped thousands to make a living online by allowing integration of third-party-software (such as WordPress Themes and WordPress Plugins). One example is my own business i.e. ThesisLove – where you’ll find a collection of Thesis 2 Skins & Boxes. Read more about WordPress in the infographic below – and see how immensely it has changed the web in the course of 10 years.

WordPress 10th Anniversary - 10 years WordPress Infographic

3 Reasons Not To Worry About Any Google Updates

It’s been about 2-3 days Google claimed the update – the Penguin 2.0 updates in its algorithm. The results say that about 2.3% English-US queries were affected. However, not many (or maybe none) of the sites were penalized badly. That said, it wasn’t that big of an update. In my personal portfolio, none of sites/blogs seem to be hit by the Penguin as the traffic is constant – no big/noticeable change.

However, before…during… and since the update, I’ve been noticing that my social timelines have faced quite a big buzz about the update. Some (only the ‘tech-type’ bloggers) claiming that they’ve experienced a big-time downfall in their site traffic, others claiming that they’ve lost their daily revenues since a couple of days (are they kidding us!?) and what not. Henceforth, I had a small message (this post actually!) for all those who’re scratching their heads – or giving themselves a *facepalm* – due to what they’ve faced because of this update. Here are a few reasons why I personally believe one shouldn’t worry about such updates.

*Note – The phrase ‘Any Google Updates‘ doesn’t include the Google PageRank Updates. Period.

You Have The Quality – Why Worry?

When you know that you have content that can be regarded of good, or hopefully, of great quality, then why would you even waste your time seeing the daily traffic stats? When you know you haven’t copied any of the content that you’ve published – then why give a damn about what the updates are going to do to your blog?

Such scenario is like Steve Jobs thinking about the competition and legal issues that he is going to face from a phone-duplicator store in China. Bottomline is – if your blog content possesses some good and remarkable quality, there’s no reason for ANY attack to hit your blog.

You Don’t Practice Bad SEO – Why… Why Worry?

You definitely know what the term ‘Bad SEO’ means. If not, read Erik’s Say on Bad SEO to know about what techniques actually lead you to the so called ‘Bad SEO’ field. Many believe that Bad SEO is when you don’t practice at all – that is not at all true. If you don’t practice any SEO, that will not affect your site. Although it will not bring in the potential advantages and benefits, there’s no way it could ‘affect‘ the site. Assuming that you know-it-all now, let’s talk about it.

When you know that you don’t purchase text links, or that you don’t exchange blogroll links (do read the linked article – something important out there!) – then why worry about the updates!? Such Google updates are searching for the people who practice all the bad stuff – and you’re surely not there.

You Follow Matt Cutts – Why… Why… Why Worry?

Matt CuttsYou might take this jokingly, but I am damn serious about this. Many bloggers, to actually survive on planet web, give a few minutes of their day to the Head Of WebSpam Team at Google – Matt Cutts. You must surely be knowing him, as he is the sole presentator and advisor, and the ‘warner’ at the Google WebMasters Youtube ChannelIf you go through the videos (maybe from the beginning), you’ll notice the outstanding and professional tips and advices he shares to actually boost your blogs overall reputation on the web.

When you know that you follow all the tips – what’s there to worry about? He will never ask you to practice something that him and his team are going to regard as ‘bad’ some day.

BottomLine

If you’re sure that all the factors discussed above are true for your site(s), you can go ahead and continue business as usual. However, if there’re any necessary changes that you believe you should take – go ahead, don’t waste a second.

Three Ways To Speed Up WordPress Immediately

The current statistics say that most, if not all, new sites are developed using WordPress. That said, it is clear that there is something that WordPress possesses, which other CMSs lack. For many, that ‘something’ might be the ease-of-use and the millions of resources (such as WordPress Themes and plugins). For many, it might the way it makes it easy for development and further selling (something I personally practice on my site where I sell Thesis 2 skins).

There are several reasons to fall in love with WordPress. However, great things do have a space for some negative energy. Although WordPress has a very less space for such negative ‘energies’, it has some minor issues. But as they say, perfectionism is better than goodness. One of these minor issues is the loading speed. Although it highly depends on the theme being used, there are some other factors that matter as well.

Following are three ways to speed up WordPress, and how you could easily implement the same.

Using Sprites Instead Of Multiple Images

If you’re aware about CSS Image Sprites, you know what I’m talking about. A sprite is one single image containing several (even hundreds, if preferable!) different images. That single image is then used as a background image for every ‘sub-image’ inside it, and then given a ‘background-position’ which then gives a final result of which is nothing but the required part from the sprite.

One (and the main) advantage of using CSS Sprites that it reduces the number of HTTP requests put on the server. In simple language, the more the number of images, the more the HTTP requests loaded on the server and furthermore, the more number of HTTP requests slows down the blog! Therefore, to speed up WordPress, or any platform for that matter, using image sprites is far better than using separate images.

Disabling ‘Push Emails’ Function

Recently, I wrote an article regarding the 500 Internal Server Error fix, and it seemed to solve the problem for many including me! The only solution discussed there was to reduce the number of SMTP requests. This means that if you have several devices where you have your email accounts set-up, the number of SMTP requests can go higher. This gets worse if the ‘Push Emails’ feature is on – which continuously sends requests to servers ‘asking for new emails’.

Disabling this will surely avoid the 500 Internal server error, but also increase the site’s speed because of avoiding the minor SMTP requests overload.

Use A Caching Plugin

Many believe that using a caching plugin just doesn’t help, and many believe it plays an important role. I am amongst those who fall between those two options. My favorite caching plugin is W3 Total Cache. That plugin, upon installation, does 98% of the things for you. The other 2% can be done as per requirement.

A caching plugin is helpful to clear the junk off the site, also ‘refreshing’ the site after changes such as CSS tweaks.

Bonus Tip

Using the right web host also makes a difference. Although I use Hostgator, I would prefer you to go for Bluehost as I’ll be switching to it in a few months

3 Tips to Make Money With A Personal Blog

You must be wondering about making money with a personal blog, right? Well, it’s nothing new! Everyone wants to make some cash for the words that come out from their heart, not the mind! Here are 3 tips which will guide you on how to make money with a personal blog! The more positively and effectively you will follow the tips below, the better your performance will be. But again mentioning – It’s about your personal blog, not your primary or any other blog.

Make Money With A Personal Blog

The following are the factors that I would consider using when I feel like making money with a personal blog. However, currently I don’t.

Content Is Still The King!

Money With A Personal BlogYes! The necessity of writing good, or great, still exists! Just posting about Kim Kardashian’s new $3000 dress wouldn’t attract valuable visitors. A personal blog doesn’t mean that you have to write about your new relationship or your break up. On the personal blog, you can surely right about relationships (no one’s going to stop you), but it would sound better if you could just advice the reader not to make the mistake (which you made in your relationship) I mean, that’s personal right?

Ads – In a limit

Money With A Personal Blog

I’m basically talking about Google Adsense here. I loved Google’s policy of not having more than 3 ads (the size doesn’t matter) on a single view of a site. I wouldn’t say much under this but I would just quote something – “Don’t add content between ads, add ads between content!” If you act like your blog is like that of the “Million Dollar Homepage“, then my friend you need help! Because that won’t really help you make money with a personal blog!

Be The Ultimate Affiliate!

Money With A Personal Blog

Apart from the most important affiliate program, you don’t need to include any other banners on the sidebar/header/footer. In order to make money with a personal blog, it’s not a must that you start earning as soon as you register. Patience is the ultimate strength to success in this field. It is important to share your affiliate links, but not just with the intention of getting the commission. All extra affiliate links should be included in articles which at least review the company (being promoted using the affiliate) or give a brief of the services.