Create Content That Gets More Shares On Social Media

Create Content That Gets More Shares On Social Media
Social media plays a big factor in online marketing. If you want your website to rank you need well written, engaging content. Good content is more important than an article overloaded with keywords.

Remember that.

It all boils down to two key aspects, call them your recipe for success. You need: 1) good content; and 2) social signals. In other words, people need to be reading and sharing your content.

Understand what slows a reader down

Throughout the 1930’s and 40’s there was a plethora of research on readability in the US to determine the most common reading level among the American population. The science behind these reading levels is a bit too extensive to include in this article, but the general consensus was that 8th-grade reading level was average among Americans.

In 1947 Donald Murphy conducted a study on how to make texts easier to read. He found that reducing the reading level from 9th to 6th on various articles caused a remarkable increase in people who read articles all the way through. (E.g., a 43% increase in an article about nylon and 60% increase in an article about corn).

A similar study conducted by Wilber Schramm showed that an article nine paragraphs long would lose three out of ten readers by the 5th paragraph. While a shorter story will lose only two out of ten.

To this day things have not changed much, The National Study of Adult Literacy has released  multiple studies between 1993 and 2008 which have consistently measured average literacy levels at a 7th or 8th level. One of the largest publications, Reader’s Digest (at 12 million subscribers), writes at a reading level of 9th-grade. Newspapers and online publications can range from college to 6th-grade reading levels.

How can I best engage readers?

Due to the increasing number of distractions, it is safe to assume that shorter sentences and shorter paragraphs will better hold our attention than longer ones. Overly complicated grammar and redundant sentences should be avoided as well.

Excessive punctuation is another no-no. Stick to simple commas and periods for the easiest readability. Avoid useless punctuation like semicolons. Some would argue that semicolons are useful to separate two independent clauses; I argue that the same thing can be accomplished with a period. Read that last sentence again and replace the semicolon with a period or comma. Does it read the same? Most people read semicolons the same way they would a period or comma, the only difference is that the semicolon slows them down.

There are probably about 10% of you reading this who wondered why I didn’t use a hyphen in the word semi-colon. It is one of those words that some dictionaries list with a hyphen, some without. I choose not to use the hyphen because I felt that giving it a hyphen would give the word too much unneeded attention, meaning your eyes would be drawn to it before you reached the word in the sentence. Yet another thing to be avoided in order to create better readability.

Break your reading up into easy to read chunks. As an example you can take a look at this article here. Observe how each section contains around three to four paragraphs and is clearly marked with a header.

Look at the paragraphs themselves and observe how large they are. Most are no bigger than an inch. Each paragraph break is carefully chosen depending on the flow of the subject matter. Every new idea is a new paragraph and sentence size is generally small.

This is all done for you, the reader, to reduce what’s called “fatigue in reading”, which is another factor in the science of readability. Longer paragraphs, sentences, or words you are not familiar with will increase your fatigue and cause your attention to drift. If you want readers to be engaged and share your writing, keep things short and to the point.

Encourage shares on social media with buttons and special “tricks”

You could follow every one of the tips suggested in this article to increase readability and it is likely that those that find it will read it. But if that same article has no buttons for Facebook likes, tweet mentions, and +1s – no one will share it! Your chances of someone copy and pasting your link to their feed are significantly lower than someone clicking on a like button.

Twitter is one of the best social media platforms to focus on when aiming for sharable posts. But in order to capitalize on it be sure to use it correctly. Embedding thought provoking sentences in your article as a tweetable quote can really help your readability. As readers tweet the quote, traffic will be generated to the article from twitter.

In addition to these tricks there is one more super secret method that is guaranteed to get you the most social media shares.

Social Content Locker

I decided to let you slide on having to share the post to see the rest (however, if you’ve found it helpful a share would be most appreciated).

Content lockers may not be a secret and they’re certainly not guaranteed to get you more social media shares than other methods. Used properly however, they might.

In order to use content lockers most effectively it is important to begin with an interesting title and amazing introduction. Give them a few spoon fulls, enough to make them want to read the entire article, the content locker will block the last half or so of the post. Sharing the content on social media is the only way to unlock the rest.

Just be sure that you are rewarding your readers with good content when using the content locker. Don’t do anything that will make them regret their decision and “unlike” the content. Pretty sure bribing or tricking your readers into sharing like I might have done is a punishable offense, or at least is should be.

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8 Super Successful Bloggers You Should Know About

8 Super Successful Bloggers You Should Know About

Blogging is more than a past-time – it is a business model. If you are hoping to turn blogging into a full-time income, these successful bloggers are a great example of what’s possible. You’ll also get an idea of the work in front of you. Done right, blogging has the potential to generate income, and earn revenue month after month. These bloggers have proved that working from home is no longer a fantasy, but is entirely possible. If you want to become  a successful blogger, these are the people to pay attention to:

Darren Rowse, Problogger.net

Former minister and current blogger Darren Rowse has shown that it is possible to turn full time blogging into a career. He has written several ebooks and founded several blogs including Problogger.net where he explains how others can make money blogging as well. His two personal blogs, ProBlogger and Digital-Photography-School.com generate up to 100,000 page views daily and over $20,000 a month in ad revenue proving that blogging can be a six figure job. As a result Darren Rowse is truly an inspiration to bloggers everywhere and his success shows that he knows his stuff.

Pat Flynn, SmartPassiveIncome.com

Former Job Captain for an architecture firm, Pat Flynn started blogging as a means to organize study material for the LEED program (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) which is an extremely difficult exam to study and pass. While studying for the LEED exam Flynn had also landed a position as a Job Captain in an architecture firm. Unfortunately this also took place during the recession and Flynn’s firm had to make cuts backs which meant that many were laid off, including Flynn.

Perseverance and the will to support his wife and kids kept him going. Throughout his time studying for the LEED program and blogging his research, he had also picked up knowledge about WordPress and blogging for profit. So after Flynn found out he would be laid off he began hatching a plan for a means of online income. Flynn explains the full story at smartpassiveincome.com where he explains how his blog became so popular, but to make a long story short, he was able to support his family without a 9-5 job and it was all because of blogging.

Bill Slawski, SEObytheSea.com

Bill Slawski dives in to the world of SEO by scrutinizing Google patents and sharing predictions on the latest SEO findings. Hos blog covers tips, information and news on the latest SEO trends. His website SEObytheSea.com is used as a way to showcase in his authority in SEO. By trade, he acts as a consultant and uses his blog much like a business card or resume.

Corbett Barr, ThinkTraffic.com

Trainer, life coach, and blogger Corbett Bar knows the ins and outs of online business. His blog ThinkTraffic is an excellent resource for any entrepreneur interested in making money online. Barr also produces several videos with the Fizzle team on Fizzle.co. Their videos teach everything there is to know about creating a thriving online business. Barr is a great example of someone who has turned his passion into a niche and this has made him a very successful blogger.

Kristi Hines, Kikolani.com

Kristi Hines is a freelance writer that contributes content for several websites. Her personal blog Kikolani contains numerous tips for bloggers of all types. Hines is also extremely knowledgeable on social media and blogging trends. Due to her high level of writing experience she is an excellent source of advice for professional writer’s of all types.

Mari Smith, MariSmith.com

Mari Smith is an expert on online marketing and social networking. She shares her knowledge wonderfully in seminars and has become internationally known for her public speaking. Smith is author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Her blog has helped several business owners improve their marketing strategies using social media.

Glen Allsopp, ViperChill.com

Glen Allsopp is a blogger with an extremely interesting story. He had been doing blogging and marketing for quite some time when suddenly, his blogging caught the attention of a company in South Africa who hired him on as a Social Media expert for their Fortune 500 clients. One thing led to another and after working in Hanoi and Bangkok Allsopp was able to go to work freelancing full time and focus all his attention on blogging through his website ViperChill.com. He also released a book titled Cloud Living where he explains in detail how he became an online nomad. Allsopp is a shining symbol of online success, having made over $4000/month all online at the young age of 17 through blogging and marketing.

Ann Smarty, SEOSmarty.com

Ann Smarty writes heavily on several topics concerning online marketing such as social media, SEO, blogging and more. When it comes to the internet and online businesses she is a bit of a jack of all trades dabbling into a little of everything. She writes several helpful tutorials at SearchEngineJournal.com as well as her personal blog, SEOSmarty.com. Smarty is also head moderator and editor at MyBlogGuest.com, a thriving community of guest bloggers looking to build their portfolios. Due to her experience with MyBlogGuests many beginner bloggers turn to her for advice on how to get started and advance their experience as a writer.

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Leading Forum Software

Leading Forum Scripts

One question many forum owners are asking these days is which forum software systems are considered to be the best in terms of user numbers, reputation and overall features. Although most current forum managers have used PhpBB or vBulletin successfully in the past, many may now be looking for something new that offers a bit more.

The most common basic requirements sought still remain public viewing with registration required to post, hosting compatible with MySQL, and the ability to customize the pages.   Although PhpBB and vBulletin have dominated the market, PhpBB is free and open source and vBulletin costs a few hundred bucks and is closed source. Another big player these days that has been used by many popular forums is BigBoards, and Jive; Lithium and LiveWorld all have done well too.

For forum software with a mobile interface, there’s a WAP plug-in for vBulletin available, and Vanilla Forum is a lightweight easily customizable forum that also works well on mobile devices. You could also use Tapatalk, an app that works with any phone and provides free read-only access to forums. Because there are no similar plug-ins for PhpBB users, many PhpBB people have simply used mobile themes to get around the issue.

There have been many new developments in the free forum software field and some have been more well-received than others. In terms of general popularity with users and forum managers in particular, the top fifteen free forum software systems currently available today are:

1.     MyBB – released 2011-11-25  

2.    BurningBoard – released 2011-08-26  

3.    PhpBB(3) – released 2012-01-02  

4.    Xenforo – released 2012-02-07  

5.    Vanilla Forums – released 2011-11-03  

6.    FUDForum – released 2011-07-17  

7.    Simple Machines – released 2011-12-22  

8.    Wikid Forum – released 2011-08-24  

9.    FluxBB – released 2011-09-13  

10.  UseBB – released 2011-11-04  

11.    bbPress – released 2009-07-28  

12.   PunBB – released 2011-12-01  

13.   Phorum released 2011-09-09  

14.   MiniBB – released 2010-10-05  

15.   IceBB – -released 2010-12-02

If you are in need of high performance vBulletin hosting or managed forum hosting, look no further than URLJet. Why go with “vanilla” hosting when you can get vBulletin optimized hosting that will run your forum faster than anyone- period.

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6 Different Types Of Free Forum Software You Can Use To Build A Forum

6 Different Types Of Free Forum Software You Can Use To Build A Forum

One of the first decisions you will make when starting a forum is deciding on what forum software to use. There are many options, both free and paid. But that’s not to say that there aren’t some great free forum software option available. There is a respectable list of great forum software options out there.

Here are six of them:

#1 PHPBB

phpBB Forum Software
phpBB is one of the top free forum software options available. It’s open-source, but what is unique is that they provide a unique and helpful database which contains all user created plugins. Everything is organized well and easy to find. Like MyBB, there are several plugins to choose from to customize however needed so the two are close competitors. Deciding which is better would be based solely on preference.

There are few things that give phpBB an edge from my experience. One notable feature would be their support section, which is well put together and extremely informative.

As far as actual features go phpBB seems to have better security from the start. They also provide anti-spam tools. Other than that many of the features you start with are similar to that of MyBB, except for the reputation system which is unique to MyBB. This is where it becomes a matter of preference. Due to the many plugins available with both of them, it’s always possible to customize to your needs, but it all depends on how much you want to customize.

Get phpBB Forum Software

#2 XMB Forums

XMB Forum Software
XMB is a good place to start if you’re new to forum hosting. They provide all the basic tools you need to get started. You can edit administration settings, templates, add/remove topics, and member settings. There are other tools available, but for the most part, nothing too complex, just your forum basics. Great for beginners.

Get XMB Forum Software

#3 UseBB

UseBB Forum Software
UseBB has the simplicity of XMB, but with a little more to offer in terms of security and anti-spam features.
There are also extra features for users to customize their profiles like remote avatars for example.

Get UseBB Forum Software

#4 FluxBB

FluxxBB Forum Software
Flux was born after forking from PunBB after it’s founder Rickard Andersson left the project in 2008. For a long time PunBB was widely used for many open-source and commercial product’s discussion boards, and several currently use FluxBB due to many of the ported over features.

Flux prides itself in it’s ease of use, fast speed enabled through their superb code, clean admin interface, flexible permission system, and powerful moderator tools that allow for easy user and consequence/reward management.

One drawback is that adding modifications might not be as easy of a task as other forum software on this list, because doing so requires manually editing source code. There are still a few plugins available, but not as many as you would expect. There are plenty of features already available for discussion boards. Unless you want serious in-depth customization there is not much more that would need to be downloaded.

Get FluxxBB Forum Software

#5 MyBB

MyBB Forum Software
What is great about MyBB is that it is both free and open-source. As a result there are hundreds of modifications and plugins at your disposal. Unlike FluxBB, MyBB will not require you to edit a single line of code. There is nothing for you to have to add anything. You get ease of access and amazing versatility. It truly is the ultimate sandbox for forum enthusiasts.

Features available by default will give you all the basics. Convenient administration, built in templates and theme editors, a reputation/warning system, a tasks system which helps with maintenance, easy moderation, private messaging, calendars and events, a mass mailing system, and fast performance. It even has MySQL, PostgreSQL and SQLite database support with replication/slave support built in. Any other features you would need can easily be added using modifications and plugins.

Get MyBB Forum Software

#6 PHP-Nuke

PHP Nuke Forum Module
Unlike all of the other software on this list PHP-Nuke is more of a content management system. It’s interface includes features that are specialized for online news sites, making it the perfect choice for any professional online publication.

For example, there is a WordPress like editing system so that authors can save pending posts which editors can edit before publishing. It also includes several features many news sites have such as a “Top Story” section to display the most popular stories at the top of the web page, surveys or polls to gather reader opinions on political events (or whatever poll you want to create), as well as archives to provide access to older articles. The features would also work wonderfully for guest contributor blogs as well.

PHP-Nuke can be more than just a news content management system. It’s a cake walk to add a discussion board, and as the name implies, it is PHP based. This forum software is based on bb2nuke which is a popular open-source ported version of PHP-Nuke revamped as a phpBB discussion board.

There are several add-ons and plugins available for the software which would enable users to customize their site to be able to do just about anything.

Get PHP-Nuke Forum Software

The Top Paid Forum Software Options

The last two forum software providers on this list are not free, but they are both well worth the costs. Just imagine forum software that incorporates everything we have talked about so far, but better. Let’s just say they should definitely be options you should look into, and here’s why.

vBulletin

vBulletin Forum Software
vBulletin is written in PHP, works on any operating system, and uses a MySQL database server.

vBulletin has two versions, one that is just their classic forum client, and another that is not just forum software. It also an article-based Content Management System and blogging software. This is what gives vBulletin a bit of an edge over all the others. They provide the most versatile all-in one solution for whatever you need. But, if all you need is the basic forum essentials they have you covered with the classic version, which still has easy to apply plugins.

Get vBulletin Forum Software

XenForo

XenForo Forum Software
XenForo has several influences from vBulletin because a few of the developers from vBulletin also worked on XenForo. It is written in PHP and works on pretty much any operating system. Due to it’s popularity there are several hosts that support XenForo as well, including us.

Interesting features include a “like” system a little bit like Facebook or Reddit, and it also has a feature that rewards users with trophies for reaching certain milestones of participation. User features like these encourage social engagement and participation in a way that other forum software solutions don’t explore. There are also several unique SEO features built in which has probably contributed to it’s popularity. They also do a great job with security and anti-spam.

Many of the default features will probably be enough for whatever you will need to do with your forum, but just in case, there is also a huge database of modifications and plugins at your disposal. Not only are add-ons simple to apply, but XenForo framework makes them simple to build as well.

Get XenForo Forum Software

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5 Things You Should Do After Launching Your Website

5 Things You Should Do After Launching Your Website

So you have a website, now what? Let’s assume that you have already done some keyword research and optimized your website’s text to reflect those important keywords. Now it’s time to make sure Google, Bing and Yahoo know you exist. Search engines use bots to crawl and index content on the web. When users enter certain search terms, the search engine will pull up content it has determined is the most relevant. If you want visitors to your website, you have to have the perfect cocktail for success: good content, structured for the search engines.

Think of the text on your website as the hors d’oeuvres, music, and entertainment for your visitors. The following 5 steps will be your means of inviting people to the party.

Submitting to search engines

If we were to stick to the party metaphor submitting your website to search engine queries is a little like going out to the neighborhood and passing out fliers for your block party. You can have the most wonderfully optimized website in the world, but that still doesn’t mean search engines will automatically find you.

Sometimes all it takes to get noticed is to actually go to the search engines and tell them you exist. Google and Bing, as well as other search engines, all have areas on their site where website owners can submit their page so that it will come up on search results. Doing this will invite their web crawlers over to scan your text for relevant keywords.

Relevant Directories

In addition to the big search engines you will want to keep an eye out for niche engines as well. Not many know, but there are several search engines that specialize in specific things. There may be search engines specifically for forum owners for example.

Just as you submitted your page to Google, you’ll want to do the same for any search engines that pertain to your niche. This is like sending out VP passes to special guests. It’s important to do this if you want an awesome housewarming party because you know they’re going to bring a bunch of friends with them.

Sitemaps

After submitting your page to search engines to be ranked you’ll want to also provide something that will make it easier for web crawlers to navigate your site. This something is called a sitemap.

You can think of a sitemap as an itinerary for your guests (web crawlers) to follow. They inform search engines about all of the URLs on the webpage that are available for crawling. This is done through the creation of a XML file which lists URLs along with descriptions on each URL so that web crawlers will have a better understanding of what the page is about.

XML-Sitemaps is a great resource will automatically create a sitemap for you. So all you have to do is upload it to your site’s directory.

Analytics

As well as inviting web crawler’s over to your pad, you’re also going to want to keep your eye on the party. In order to understand the impact your marketing efforts are having on traffic and conversions, you want to install Google Analytics, which will allow you to track referrers, visitor flow, and clicks. This information can be immensely useful in optimizing your site for visitors.

Online Marketing

There are several ways to market your business online. You can build a brand through online marketing outlets like social media, blogging, and online newsletters. Whatever your strategy, it is essential to use social networking and link building to your advantage.

Social Networking

The next thing you will want to do is get your business on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and all other popular social networking sites. People often overlook the importance of social media. It is an excellent way to reach out to several people and filter in the ones that would be interested in your niche.

As well as using the popular most widely used social media sites, you will also want to consider some of the smaller ones. Just like search engines there are social media websites and blogs that focus around a specific niche. Go out of your way to seek out sites pertaining to your niche and create an account for your business there. It can help build your brand and bring in valuable customers with an interest in your business.

Linkbuilding

Don’t forget, search engines do not merely rank your page based on how relevant it is to keywords. They will also look through credibility through a number of things including backlinks. Backlinks are probably one of the most important parts to gaining organic traffic and #1 results on search engines.

Now there’s a lot more to link building than can be explained in this article, but to give you an example it is good to start with niche blogs or forums. Find communities on the internet that accept guest submissions and write about things that pertain to your niche. If you don’t have the writing ability it is always useful to hire a writer who knows your niche. The whole point is not only linking back to your website, but also providing readers with useful information that will in turn build your business’s credibility and brand.

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4 Things You Must Do To Become A Successful Blogger

4 Things You Must Do To Become A Successful Blogger

Although it may sound like a no-brainer, all successful blogs share one thing in common – a strong readership. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but with a few tricks you’ll be headed in the right direction. As a blogger, it’s important to remember your goal should be to capture the interest of your visitor immediately, and make them feel like they’ll walk away with some valuable information. If you’re new to blogging and unsure where to start, here’s four guidelines to live by to make sure you’re not only engaging readers, but keep them coming back.

Find a niche

Pick a topic that you are passionate about. If you are truly passionate about something, your writing will reflect that, and this will keep your viewers coming back. Writing about your niche will also keep you from losing interest.

Consistency

Which brings me to my next point, stick with it. After you have given your readers something to come back for. Build a bio with your blog and let them know how often they can expect new content. Most importantly, stay true to that pledge, you do not want your readers coming back to nothing. If you formed a good niche that you are passionate about you should be able to do this fairly well.

Relevant content

Think about your target audience and what type of medium they would be most interested in. Ask yourself, what is it that attracts them more, pictures, videos, or text? Of course you can use all of these things in your blog, but depending on your audience, or the nature of each post, you might want to focus primarily on one medium.

Engage readers

Speaking of engaging readers, you should do it as often as possible. Find a way to get them to participate somehow. Example, you blog about cooking and you want to do a piece about your favorite recipes. Maybe for this piece you do a video and actually show your audience how you prepare these favorite dishes. Then you invite your audience to talk about their favorite meals, and how they prepare them. People do this on YouTube all the time, and you can do it with writing too. You just need to be creative.

Another way to engage your readers is to actually acknowledge that you appreciate them. You can do this a number of ways, from responding to comments to just mentioning that you saw their replies and you appreciate it. You may not be able to respond to all your replies, but you can at least let your audience know you value them. This alone will keep people coming back.

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Don’t Follow the Hype: Create Authenticity through Originality

Don’t Follow the Hype: Create Authenticity through Originality

Content marketing is essential to build any kind of online presence in today’s market. But what seems to be happening is building links has overshadowed the importance of building brands. This leads to sloppy marketing techniques where content focuses not on a product or service, but only serves the purpose to house a link.

Link building is an excellent strategy that can stimulate plenty of views on your web page and bring you to the top of search results. But in the long term, it is better to create quality content that not only helps your SEO but also shows quality in your products and services. Do not depend on Google, search engine algorithms change. However, the first impression your company has in a customer’s mind never goes away.

How do you build your brand?

When you think of Rolex what comes to mind? Watches, right? It took time for Rolex to build their brand, but today, everyone knows that Rolex makes quality watches. Movie stars are photographed wearing them all the time afterall. That’s the effect that everyone should aspire for their company name, quality. No matter what it is your business does, even if you are an independent contractor, you want people to see you as an expert in your field.

Remember that branding is more than visual identity

Your “brand” is not the same as your logo, too many people get this mixed up. You should think of your brand as the single greatest thing about your company, the thing that sets you apart from everyone else. There may be hundreds of companies that make watches, but there’s only one that makes them like Rolex. A brand should show people that you are an expert at what you do. Good content will mirror this.

Using content to improve your brand

There are several ways to use web content to your advantage and build your brand at the same time. All it takes is a little bit of originality. When it comes to blog posts, a good way to do it is by telling readers something interesting they may not have ever heard before. These interesting facts would be related to your business of course.

This article is an excellent example of this because it would peaks the interest of people involved in forum marketing, while also introducing them to something they might not have heard before. It also promotes a brand, a forum host, in a subtle way without sounding too salesy. They do this by simply, being an expert in their own field, and they use their blog wonderfully for this purpose.

Know your demographic

Believe it or not going after a demographic that is too general is a terrible marketing strategy. Understand who your largest demographic is and target them specifically with all of your content. All of your online content should be written to the intended audience. This will not only develop a specific style and brand but also reach out to potential customers. That way, not only are you receiving hits, but you’re getting more sales out of those hits as well.

Leave a footprint

Whatever your marketing strategy is, just remember that your link building strategy should work in unison. Missing out on that golden opportunity would be like shooting yourself in the foot, causing you to be at the mercy of search algorithms, no one wants that. Imprint an awesome impression into your customer’s heads instead.

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Win A Website Contest! from URLjet.com

Win A Website Contest

Are you ready to win a new website for your blog or company? We’re giving away a free website to one lucky winner, plus 3 months of free hosting. There’s nothing for you to worry about – we’ll help you get everything set up.

Contest Entry Instructions

  1. Like the URLjet.com Facebook fan page (if you have not already done so).
  2. Follow the instructions on the Facebook contest app. You can like, follow, tweet, comment, and share for more entries.
  3. Share the URLjet.com Facebook contest page with your friends and ask them to enter as well. (While you are at it, also ask them to like the URLjet.com Facebook fan page.)
  4. One lucky winner will be randomly selected June 3oth, 2013 will be deemed the winner and will receive the free website from URLjet.com.

Contest Rules

  1. Must be 18 years old to enter.
  2. The contest will run through June 30, 2013. The winner will be announced not later than July 4, 2013.
  3. If the winner fails to accept the award, URLjet.com will choose an alternate winner.
  4. URLjet.com reserves the right to disqualify any entry at its sole discretion.
  5. URLjet.com reserves the right to make appropriate revisions or clarifications to contest rules at any time.

Contest Award

The contest winner will receive the Genesis Framework and a child theme of their choice, plus 3 months free hosting. The winner will be announced not later than April 5, 2013.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Our contest is featured on the following:

Please use your REAL NAME when you comment. We would like to build a community and foster conversation.

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The Impact of Blogging on Small Business

The Impact of Blogging on Small Business

Blogging allows you to connect with your audience in a more personal, transparent way. The popularity of blogging has skyrocketed, and this means more competition for you. It also means more opportunity.

How Blogging Has Impacted Small Business

In an otherwise Big Business dominated world, small businesses have the advantage when it comes to blogging. They have the ability to move quickly on implementing and launching new ideas. They’re not bound by corporate restraints. Pockets might not be as deep in the small business sector, but when it comes down to being able to connect with customers, local trumps big business every time.

The personality of your business is able to stand out when you blog. Deep down inside, we’re all cynical towards business because there tends to be too much “fluff”, not enough substance. It’s too gimmicky at times. Once the curtains are pulled back, and the behind-the-scenes footage comes out, people get to see the real picture. And that is exactly what they want to see.

A Real World Example

River Pools and Spas started as a small fiberglass pool installation company in Virginia. In business since 2001, River Pools managed to carve out a name in the pool industry. They also received national recognition. One of the owners, Marcus Sheridan, has even been featured on Problogger. Needless to say, he’s been able to make a name for himself as a blogger. And he did it all, blogging about pools.

How did he do it? By answering questions. As with most industries, real answers can be difficult to find online. It’s either not there, erroneous, or an obvious sales pitch. That is, until blogging changed things.

Welcome to How Content Marketing Really Works

People have questions. The big question in the pool industry was: which pool is better? Is it fiberglass or plaster? They both have benefits, both have drawbacks. What separated River Pools was the fact that they spelled out the facts. They listened to the questions their audience were asking and they responded, no matter the question. Who do you think started showing up in the search results?

Content marketing is about answering the questions your target audience is asking.

Wouldn’t you know, today Marcus has propelled his pool blogging experience into a whole new career. He now writes for his own blog dedicated towards sales and inbound marketing, called The Sales Lion. Not only did he do that, he became a public speaker, delivering keynotes and speeches at major industry events.

It’s Your Move

You will only become remarkable if you do remarkable things. It’s a steady process. Success never comes overnight. If the next story that gets told is about you, what do you want it to say?

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3 Rules & Tools That Will Challenge You To Become A Better Blogger (In 3 Weeks)

3 Rules & Tools That Will Challenge You To Become A Better Blogger (In 3 Weeks)

Blogging takes work. Anyone that says anything different doesn’t know what they are talking about. It takes time and effort to develop a reputation as a good blogger. In fact, if you want to fast track your success, blogging needs to become your habit.

Are you ready? Do you have it in you? If so, it’s time to harness your chi. Unleash your inner badass. If you’ve gotten this far, I’m assuming you’re ready to get started.

The Rules

As with all things in life, rules do apply. You won’t get far without them. Would you expect Floyd Mayweather to keep winning fights if he didn’t train like an animal? Of course not. Your blogging career demands the same level of dedication. It’s the only way you’ll get to the top. If you want to be singing the “winning” phrase like Charlie Sheen, you’ve got work to do. Let’s get to it.

Rule #1: Own Your Niche

This is essential, a fundamental component of your success as a blogger. If you don’t know your niche like the back of your hand, you will not get far. Your niche has to be your passion. It has to be your hobby. It has to be your life. You’ll never be able to keep up the gusto, writing on a topic you care nothing about. It will show in your writing. Find something you love, and start there.

Rule #2: Hone Your Craft

Your “craft” is your voice. It’s how you deliver your message. You have to develop a style that suits your personality and will appeal to your audience. If you sound like everyone else, why would anyone listen? The best thing you can do for your readers is simply be yourself. Don’t get caught up trying to sound professional. Don’t make things overly complicated. Just do you.

Rule #3: Wow The Audience

Overdeliver. That one word says it all. Never write, simply to publish a post. You need purpose. Every post is a chance to offer a solution, to connect with an audience, to gain a subscriber. You should be proud of every post you publish. It’s no mystery: most writers are overly critical of their own work. If you can finish a piece and be impressed, chances are your audience will be, too.

The Tools

Every profession has a toolbox. Blogging is no different. Productivity is important. It’s crucial. You have to approach blogging with the intensity of an entrepreneur. You’re running a business.

Here’s those tools I was talking about:

Tool #1: 21Habit

If you are just starting your blog, regardless of your talent, there is one area where you are severely lacking. That area is content. 21Habit is a free, online app that challenges you to make or break a habit in 21 days. You create an account, enter your habit, and from there check in each day to chronicle your success (or lack thereof).

Here’s your challenge: Commit to writing 500 words each day for the next 21 days.

If you can do this, you’ll hone your craft, develop your writing style, and have plenty of fresh content for your blog, plus a few guest posts to boot.

Tool #2: Evernote

I’ve found this tool to be immensely useful. I know, you’ve heard it before. I’ve only recently began using it. Originally, I simply bookmarked stuff I found online in Chrome, but after awhile, it really becomes difficult to keep track of bookmarks stored in your browser. If you spend a lot of time on the web (which I do, the whole job thing), there’s no doubt you come across a lot of good information. Evernote will help you keep track of it. Then, refer back later for inspiration when you write.

Tool #3: Task Timer

This is going to put the pressure on you – in a good way. Task Timer is a Chrome web app that allows you to set-up timed tasks. You don’t want to spend all day writing a post. The more you can push yourself to get your thoughts down quickly, the faster you will develop as a writer.

You can always refine and edit your post before it goes live. First, get your thoughts on the screen. Personally, I set the clock for an hour and go from there. Decide what works for you and stick to it.

What are you waiting around for? It’s time to get to work.

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