graphic designing, Uncategorized, web designing

20 Signs Your Web Designer is Terrible By Marvin Russell.

It’s been 10+ years since I built a website for my first client and I’m not ashamed to say that back then I was a terrible web designer. I was terrible for many years and for many different reasons. In fact, everything you’ll see below, I was guilty of. However, I eventually learned how to perfect the web designing process the hard way, through determination, research and lots of experience. Today, I think it’s safe to say I’m a very good web designer. If you don’t believe me, ask Inc Magazine, Crain’s Business, CBS, ABC, and NBC. Because they’ve all asked for my opinion and advice multiple times on this subject.

I constantly see many web designers making the same mistakes I made 10 years ago so I hope this article will help web designers and those who have or are going to hire a web designer. So, if you’re building a new website for your company, here are 20 ways to tell if your web designer is terrible. If you’re a web designer, pay close attention, print this blog post, email it to yourself, or bookmark it as a reference, because here are 20 ways you can tell if you are terrible.

1. The price is under $1,000 bucks

cheap-web-designIf your website is costing you less than a $1,000 bucks, then chances are your web designer is terrible and your website will be terrible too. We all wish we could spend $1,000 dollars and make millions, but if it were that easy everyone would do it.

Stop being cheap, because, you get what you pay for. You could easily buy a car for $1,000 bucks but again, you get what you pay for. If you still think your website should be under $1,000 bucks, eventually you will come crawling back to the web designer that was too expensive. Only now you’ll have to pay for a good web designer + the costs of your really cheap web designer.

Common Question:

How much to build a website?

My common answer:
Well, how much does it cost to build a house?

2. The “Headset Hottie”

Headset HottieA Headset Hottie is a joke amongst digital marketers. It’s a stock photo of an attractive female with a headset on, ready to take your call. This photo can usually be found on your contact page, in a sidebar, or sometimes even in the header. Terrible web designers have been adding images like this to websites for years. A Headset Hottie won’t increase sales or phone calls. It will only make your website look cheap and silly. So be careful, because your website could end up featured on a website like headsethotties.com.

3. No weekly call

Momentum is the energy and excitement that every new website project starts off with. It’s critical to maintain momentum throughout the course of a web design project. The second your web designer loses regular contact is the second you lose the project’s momentum. Your web designer should be in contact with you weekly if not daily, and if they are not, demand it and agree on a meeting time and day each week until the project is complete.

4. You found ‘em on Craigslist

no-craigslistI advertised for business on Craigslist about 6 or 7 years ago when I was still a terrible web designer. From my experience, I learned that Craigslist is where cheap people can find other cheap people. Of course, every rule has it’s exceptions and I do occasionally post on Craigslist’s job board to see what’s out there but very rarely do I get the quality I’m looking for.

So, if you found your web designer on Craigslist you’re probably also breaking rule #1, by being cheap.

…sorry Craig

5. No copywriting solution

Creating content for your new website is the biggest challenge every client faces. It’s also the #1 cause for delays (in my 10 years of experience). A good web designer will be prepared with a solution and warn you about this at the kickoff meeting.

Possible copywriting solutions:

  • Client creates all content (be careful this takes time and dedication)
  • Client offers an internal resource (a copywriter on their staff)
  • Client hires a freelance copywriter
  • Web designer offers an internal solution (a copy writer on their staff)
  • Web designer offers a freelance copywriter

6. Your web designer’s #1 goal is creativity

Creativity should not be the #1 goal for your website. In a survey by HubSpot, 76% of users said that the most important factor in the design of a website is that “The website makes it easy for me to find what I want.” Only 10% of users said, “beautiful appearance” was the most important thing to them. Organization of content was their number #1 concern for websites, not creativity. The more organized your content is the longer users will stay. The longer users stay, the more likely they will buy. So, make sure your web designer’s priorities are correct.

Web Design

7. Your web designer is related to you

web-designer“Never hire anyone you can’t fire.” You should know better than to hire a relative to work for you in the first place, let alone build your website. However, if you do decide to hire a family member to build your website, they will probably give you an “unbelievable” discount. If they’re a pro, that’s great news; however, the bad news is that the project eventually won’t be worth their time, and you will eventually end up on the back burner.

8. Your web designer is YOU!

Peep author at conversionxl.com says, “If you designed your website yourself and you’re not a designer, it sucks”. It takes years of experience to perfect what we do. You can’t learn this trade in a few hours.

Peep, I couldn’t agree more!

9. You built it using a web design tool

Anyone can learn how to use a cheap web design tool in an hour or so but you can’t learn what a good web designer has learned with years of experience. In other words, learning how to use a website builder won’t teach you how to design a web site that will get targeted traffic, conversions, and sales.

In addition, just because you learned how to use Photoshop doesn’t mean you’re a good web designer. I’ve received so many resumes with people who know the Adobe Suite like the back of their hand, but their work sucks. Again, it takes years of experience to not be a terrible web designer.

10. No project management software

basecamp Project management software keeps everything organized and in one central location for everyone to easily find. It assigns tasks, keeps timelines, organizes assets and holds everyone accountable for their responsibilities.  I couldn’t imagine a web designer not using project management software. But if this is the case, dump your web designer, because he or she is terrible.

What’s my favorite Project Management software? Basecamp

11. They don’t ask enough questions

Your web designer should ask you lots of questions, especially before they start working on your project. They should ask everything about your 3C’s (Company, Competitors, and Clients). Questions should start during the initial sales meetings and kickoff meeting, and then continue throughout the strategy phase of your project. No questions is a RED FLAG and the sign of a terrible web designer.

10 sample questions:

  1. What are your primary and secondary goals for your website?
  2. Who is your target audience?
  3. Describe your typical client.
  4. Who are your online and offline competitors?
  5. Are you doing any marketing offline?
  6. Where is your target audience (local, national, global)?
  7. Do you have brand guidelines?
  8. Do you have a content writer available?
  9. What kind of assets will you provide? (photo, videos, images, brochures)
  10. Can we access your current site analytics?

12. They have too many clients

I used to be guilty of this a lot. I had way too many clients and I could not focus properly on any of them. Therefore, they all suffered. I would jump back and forth on different projects, while ignoring others. It was horrible and stressful. Projects were constantly late and clients were not happy.

Solution:

If you’re a web designer and your goal is to make $500,000 this year, focus on getting 10 clients at $50,000 per project, rather that 50 clients at $10,000 per project. This will give you the same revenue, but with less clients, less phone calls, less personalities, and less headaches.

13. No scope of work

A wise man in project management for 20+ years once told me that 80% of the problems that occur during a project occur because of a poor scope of work. A good scope of work details all work to be performed and delivered. It is critical that both parties agree to the scope of work before the project is executed.

14. No architecture strategy

wireframeLet’s say your family decides to build a dream house. Well, before you start actually building this house, you’re probably going to hire an architect to blueprint the house and all the rooms. Custom web design is very similar to building a house. Before designing any pages, your web design team should map out and wireframe (blueprint) each page of your website and get your approval before designing and developing.

15. No conversion strategy

Has your web designer helped you define what your primary and secondary conversions are? A conversion can be a phone call, email sign up, contact form, e-commerce purchase or a button being clicked. Your web designer should help you define what your conversions are.

Primary conversions are actual sales made on the site or inquiries for sales discussions through a contact form. Secondary conversions are typically forms that capture emails. Your web designer should ask how you want to be contacted and how clients typically prefer contacting you. After all, this is why you built your website.

17. They’re in your IT department

I blame clients and web designers for this one. Nothing is more frustrating than someone in IT calling our agency to inquire about a new website. Shouldn’t someone in marketing be calling us? I will never understand why companies associate IT departments with web design. As Ben Hunt of scratchwebmarketing.com and webdesignfromscratch.com “Web design is marketing”, not IT.

Do us all a favor. If you’re in IT and someone in your company asks you to help build the company website, humbly decline and recommend they talk to someone in the marketing department.

17. The handshaking image

hand-shakeThis is a big red flag. If you see this on your site take it down. I’m speaking of course about the infamous hand shake. This is usually a simple picture of two men shaking hands. It’s cheesy, a waste of space and draws wasteful attention.

19. No SEO strategy

Let’s say you wanted to open a new store that required lots of foot traffic. Would you let your real estate agent sell you a very nice storefront without knowing or telling you anything about the neighborhood? Me either. In other words, if your web designer doesn’t do SEO, they are terrible.

19. No CMS

I can’t think of any good reasons why your web developer wouldn’t build your website on a CMS (content management system). Not using a CMS is not going to save you money. In fact, it could be more expensive because a good CMS like WordPress is built on a framework that has prebuilt functionality saving you time and money.

20. They’re in a different country

outsourcing-web-designI’ve been developing professional websites for about 14 years and I promise that you will need experience to work with web designers and developers in other countries. Yes, they speak english and yes they are cheaper but if you don’t understand how to properly vet designers and developers in other countries you will most likely find a terrible web designer who doesn’t do any of the 19 items above, giving you a very frustrating and infuriating experience.

Conclusion

If you’re a web designer and you firmly disagree with anything I’ve said, there are exceptions to every rule. However, in my experience the above hold true a vast majority of the time. If you hire or fire your web designer by the above set of rules I can safely guarantee your website will be more successful and make you a lot more money.

 

 

 

graphic designing, Uncategorized, web designing

Adopting a Video Content Strategy For Your Business

Just as businesses are catching on to trends in content marketing, with-it content publishers are upping the ante. If you’re still going about content marketing the same ol’ way–posting blogs, retweeting those blogs and participating in the occasional guest post–it’s time to redefine your strategy.

Adopting a Video Content Strategy For Your Business

Adapted from an article at ReelSEO.com. Click here to view the original.

Video content is the freshest way to gain the best kind of exposure for your business, and engaging in video content marketing is not quite as scary as it seems. There are just a few steps you need to take and a few tips to keep in mind to get the most out of video content marketing for your business.

Before you review the steps to follow in creating a worthwhile video, it’s important to understand why you should be video marketing in the first place, and what exactly the public is looking for. Generally speaking, “know thy audience” is the most important factor to any marketing campaign, and this is particularly true in video marketing!

The whole point of creating a video to market your business is to get that video shared across social media platforms. That’s just about all you’re after. For this reason, your main objective should be to create a highly compelling video that holds viewers’ attention and makes them think they’re viewing something more meaningful, entertaining or interesting than an advertisement. That being said, let’s make this clear now: DO NOT, by any means, make your video content resemble an ad. Doing so will crush its potential to be shared socially. Unless, of course, you can top the genius of Kmart’s Ship My Pants.

There are a few simple qualities the public looks for in a video in order to compel them to engage in social sharing, keeping one or more of these qualities in mind will increase your video’s chances of being shared at a higher rate:

Funny (much like “ship my pants”)
Adorable (think kittens, bunnies, puppies, babies)
Sexy (sex sells: resorting to half-naked men or women might be cheap–but it works)
Emotional (a heartfelt story or tear-jerking moment)
Narrative (people love a good story. Telling one in a short video can be really effective)
Random (randomness is endearing, and these days people can’t get enough of it)
Inciting (shocking viewers will get you the attention you’re after. Think controversial)
Uplifting (people are always looking for inspiration, and once they get it they’re likely to pass it along)

Alright, so now that you know the elements the public wants to see in an online video, you’ve got to figure out how to produce a video of your own. If you’re just starting out, aim to produce a short video that strongly makes use of one or more of the social sharing characteristics mentioned above.

Have a Plan

First, you need a plan: develop your story, and have a beginning, middle and end to your video. Take a professional approach–or your video will not get very far–create a story board, engage in preproduction, and HIRE PROFESSIONALS!

For a quality video, you need a quality team of professionals. Do your research and hire a great film crew or animation team. If your video is going to have a spokesperson or voiceover, get a professional with an engaging demeanor or a voice that demands attention. Also, make sure the final product has been edited by a team of experts for a clean, professional approach.

Don’t forget about music! Don’t use cheap sample audio clips, they won’t get you much respect and they’ll make your video seem low-grade. Get some original music created by an expert so your video really stands out in its own right.

Distribute Well

Once you’ve produced a high-quality video, you need to pick the right outlets for distribution. Of course you must make use of all the social media outlets possible, especially Facebook, Twitter, and at least one or two blogs. Also, make sure to put your own video on your business website, that’s a given!

Next, you need to look into YouTube (and you’ll probably need to do that before you can post a link to Twitter). YouTube is great because it’s free, and it gives your video the most chance of going viral because everyone uses it. It’s also by far the least expensive paid advertising medium out there (as of the posting date of this post).

The only bad thing about YouTube is it’s sometimes looked down on because it’s not professional or business related. So now you’ve got to find a well-respected business or industry-centered site that will showcase your video to executives and people in your field. There are many options out there and you’ve got to pick what’s best for your specific content (but you can start with something like Xavy, for example).

Boost Views

Just like your business website, you need to put a little SEO work into your video to encourage viewing. This means you should:

Tag the video with keywords
Incorporate metadata with a good description
Pick appropriate thumbnails
Build links across the Internet that direct back to your video
Use a video sitemap
You’ve got to maximize your video hits and SEO is really the best way to do this. Just make sure not to overdo it or try to be sneaky in any way. Don’t overuse keywords, and stay true to your content.

Fortify Your Hard Work

Finally, keep in mind a purpose and a timely occasion for your video to really underpin its importance. Your video content can be quirky and random, but the video’s release should have a point to make: Plan to launch your video leading up to the unveiling of a new product or service to create industry buzz. Perhaps include a press release with your video’s launch or a transcript of the video to send to executives in your industry.

Also, don’t take the one-and-done approach. Aim to produce a video every month or every couple of months depending on your business and budget. The more videos you have, the more you can improve on your strategy and the more attention you’ll gain for your company and exposure for your business, and engaging in video content marketing is not quite as scary as it seems. There are just a few steps you need to take and a few tips to keep in mind to get the most out of video content marketing for your business.

graphic designing, Uncategorized, web designing

10 Things Your Website Needs If You Want to Attract the Wealthy Customer

In his book No B.S. Marketing to the Affluent, business coach and consultant Dan S. Kennedy shows you how to re-position your business, practice, or sales career so you can learn how to attract customers for whom price is not a determining factor. In this edited excerpt, the author reveals what your website needs to contain in order to be an effective marketing tool for your business.

Your company’s website should be a place of vast (current) information. But first and foremost, it should represent who you are and what you do. So often I see websites that are more like static brochures than dynamic, personality-driven, multimedia websites.

To be a marketing website, your site must have these 10 things:

1. Personality.

Most affluent buyers aren’t on the hunt for in-depth technical product knowledge; they’re in search of the go-to experts they can trust to make the best decisions and advise them on the best solutions. Adding personality to your website through photos, video, and your writing is about building that relationship with consumers and solidifying their belief that you’re the person who’s going to make their life easier.

2. Credibility.

Credibility is one of the leading factors in becoming trustworthy. When dealing with the affluent market, you can’t have a website that displays you as a “sleazy salesman.”

What makes you a credible expert? Have you been seen in the media? Are you involved in trade associations within your niche? Are you a bestselling author? All these factors play a vital role in showcasing your credibility.

One of the best ways to establish immediate credibility is through the use of recognizable logos. Displayed correctly, logos from media appearances or trade associations can bring immediate awareness and validation.

3. Testimonials.

Testimonials are a powerful third-party verifier and help make you credible through social proof. Wikipedia defines social proof as “a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation. Wikipedia goes on to say, “This effect is prominent in ambiguous social situations where people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behavior, and is driven by the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about the situation.”

The best types of testimonials are ones that not only use text to convey their message but also include the person’s photo or video.

4. Lead capture with auto responders.

When people come to your website, you need to capitalize on their visit by capturing their information so you can continue to stay in touch with them. By providing numerous ways for them to get information, you open up your funnel for leads.

5. Keywords and targeted meta data.

Knowing your keywords and putting them into your meta data (specific pieces of code that tell search engines like Google what your site is about) is vital to get your website ranked in the search engines.

If you’re unfamiliar with what your keywords are, Google offers a free keyword tool that will help you discover the keywords that people are searching for and the amount of competition for those keywords. Ideally you want to use  keywords with high traffic and low competition.

6. WordPress.

If your website isn’t on WordPress, get it there! There are a number of great reasons to use WordPress, but first and foremost, it’s great for search engine optimization (SEO) because it’s built with clean code that makes it easy for search engines to spider and index your website. WordPress also offers endless plugins that can enhance just about every aspect of your website.

7. Current, relevant content.

This is important for two reasons. First, it gives the search engines a reason to continually come back to your website. If you don’t have updated content on your website, you give the search engines no reason to come back.

Second, if people come to your website and it’s outdated, the first question that runs through their head is “Are you outdated?” Developing a keyword-rich blog can be one of the best ways to continually add current, relevant content. Effective blogs are ones that have content that acknowledge a problem that’s currently being faced in your industry, mentioning how you’ve been able to take care of that problem for your clients, then providing a mini CTA (call to action).

8. CTA (call to action).

Good content with no action is going to be just as unsuccessful as a website with no content. CTAs should be used throughout your website to take visitors through a predetermined path. By using CTAs on your homepage, you can connect with visitors’ pain points and lead them to an interior page that will solve their problem.

CTAs should also be used on interior pages to get visitors to take specific action. These types of CTAs should be connected to a lead capture device such as a free consultation or special report. If a person has just read an entire page of copy on your website about a particular service, there’s no better time to ask, “Ready to take the first step in becoming financially free? Download the FREE Special Report ‘10 Keys to Creating the Life You’ve Always Wanted Now!’ ”

Remember, it’s about building the relationship—so capturing visitors’ information is crucial so you can continually market to them and stay in the forefront of their mind. Even if they’re not ready to make a decision that day, creating a relationship with them so you’re their “friend in the business” is vital.

9. RSS feeds and social bookmarking icons.

Both of these allow further engagement with your website. RSS feeds allow consumers to simply sign up for your feed, and every time you add a new piece of content to your website, they’ll get it in their inbox.

Social bookmarking allows users to save links to web pages they like. Unlike a private bookmark within your own computer and browser, social bookmarks are public and tagged by keywords, so they can be a great tool for others to promote the content on your website, which helps increase your traffic.

10. Social media icons.

Social media icons allow users to connect with you socially if they choose. Will everyone want to visit your Facebook page? No, but for the consumer who likes to get their information through social media, it should be an option for them.

For more, visit http://www.entrepreneur.com

graphic designing, Uncategorized, web designing

9 tools for creating great animations

These web-based applications will have you creating animations in no time.

Creating animations has always been considered as one of the most complex aspects of graphic design that requires specific software and technological expertise. It is a time-intensive activity that requires heavy software and high speed computers.

However, over the past few years, the emergence of different online presentation and animation tools have simplified the process of creating animations. Most of these web-based tools are very easy to operate and can create animations that are perfectly suitable for everyday applications. Here we’ve gathered together some of the best…

  • Read all our animation-related posts here

01. EWC Presenter

 EWC
More than an animation tool, this is an all-round presentation app and more

The EWC Presenter is not just an animation and multimedia presentation tool. It is any designer’s dream application. It walks you through the whole process of creating stylish animations through its extremely simple user interface and a long list of animation effects.

You can start off with a blank slide and design it from the scratch or choose from a wide range of templates tailor-made for different industries and users. You can add different objects to your slides by using drag-and-drop functions and add a variety of animation effects, from a dropdown list, to your text content, images and objects. And just in case you face any difficulty in understanding this simple application, you can refer to its detailed tutorial videos that will guide you at each step of creating your animations.

The EWC Presenter is an HTML5 based application that runs smoothly on all major mobile and desktop platforms, so you don’t have to worry about any device compatibility issues for your animations.

02. Make Web Video

 Make Web Video
Make Web Video does exactly as it says on the tin

Make Web Video is a specialized online tool for creating high quality animations and HD video presentations in a matter of minutes. It can create highly complex animations in very quick time that would otherwise take hours to design. Users can choose from a number of animation design templates and activate them by adding text content to the templates.

Since Make Web Video is a completely web-based application, users do not need to download any software and can simply create their animations in their internet browsers. This is not an entirely free tool but the amount of time it saves and the quality of output it produces makes it a very good deal indeed.

03. Vcasmo

 Vcasmo
Create stunning HD animations with this tool

Combine HD images, sound clips and videos to create stunningly beautiful presentations and animations through Vcasmo. Vcasmo creates extremely high quality animations that are perfect for corporate and business presentations.

It’s an HTML5 based application that is compatible with all major mobile platforms and allows embedding presentations into any blog or website. It is available both as a free and paid service.

04. GoAnimate

 GoAnimate
Its simple user interface makes creating video on GoAnimate a doddle

GoAnimate is an ideal tool for creating highly engaging and attractive animations for students, teachers and corporate professionals. It is a comprehensive online animation and video presentation solution that makes animation designing an extremely enjoyable experience. It offers a wide range of pre-designed animations tailored for different industries and users. It has a very simple user interface and is ideal for creating high quality animations in quick time.

05. PowToon

 Powtoon
Create impactful animations with PowToon

PowToon is the perfect online application for creating storytelling animations, academic presentations and infographics. It offers a variety of animation effects that users can activate by selecting from a dropdown list. To make things even simpler, PowToon has a number of free templates that can be used to create animations and presentations with minimum of effort. The quality of PowToon animations is immaculate and a number of leading brands use it for creating their animations and video presentations.

06. Mixeek

 Mixeek
Mixeek has a broad range of animation features

Mixeek is a very useful web based animation tool that can be used to create flawless animations with a wide range of effects. It is an online tool that is completely based on HTML5 and runs very smoothly on most browsers. Although it is not the simplest of animation tools available, but the options it offers are extremely flexible and its animation features are rarely found in other free tools.

07. Prezi

 Prezi
Prezi has free and paid-for versions, but the free version is highly capable

Prezi is a stylish online animation tool that creates beautiful presentations through unique animations and graphics. You can create stunning presentations with Prezi by adding images, videos, objects or simple text, and animating them using a wide range of effects. The finished presentations can also be shared directly from Prezi on all major social networks.

Prezi supports all the major mobile and desktop platforms and allows you to run your presentations as executable files as well. It comes both as a free and paid service, but even the free version has all the options you need.

08. Empressr

 Empressr
This presentation tool can also be used to create animations

Empressr is an online multimedia presentation designing tool that offers a wide range of design templates and editing features along with a simple user interface.

It’s a very good tool for corporate presentations and offers a variety of animation effects ideal for business presentations and meetings. It also lets you import content from websites like Flickr to further beatify your presentations. The finished presentations can be shared via email or by embedding into your website or blog.

09. Creaza

 Creaza
This app is aimed squarely at children

Creaza is an animation tool targeted specifically towards school children. It helps you design creative storytelling experiences through highly engaging animations and video presentations. It has 30 built in ready to use themes along with a number of editing tools that can be used to further enhance the look and feel of your animations.

Conclusion

The tools you have will make or mar your animations; just like WordPress is to blogging and IM Creator is to web design, the above are some quality tools for creating beautiful animations.

graphic designing, Uncategorized, web designing

Ultimate Collection of Free High Quality PSD Mockups To Showcase Your Print Designs

Great presentation for your print design studies plays a vital role in the success of your over all project. It is a matter of presenting your ideas in an attractive and professional manner by which clients can clearly visualize the supposed final output. Seeing your design in a realistic scenario can dramatically help you and your client see all the necessary adjustments or modifications – if there are any – before heading into the final stages of production. Plus having a great mock up presentation can improve your works aesthetically.

Nowadays, mock-up design presentations became a necessity especially for designers working on various print and web design projects for their clients. A professional looking mock up presentation can really boost the value of your work and can aide you to showcase your projects in a visually pleasing way.

Today, we present to you an ultimate collection of some of the best free high quality PSD Mock for print designs gathered across the internet. These contents are absolutely free!  So go load up your ammo of freebies and templates!

 

FREE BUSINESS CARD MOCK UP


 

Business Card Hand Mock Up 01

Wooden Business Cards Mock Up Wooden-Business-Cards-MockUp

 

Letterpress Business Cards MockUp Letterpress-Business-Cards-MockUp

Colorful Business Card MockUp Colorful-Business-Card-MockUp

Business Card Mock Up Business-card-mockup1

Realistic Business Card Mock Up Realistic-Business-Card-MockUp

Business Card 3D Mock-Up (Psd) Bus-Card-Mockup-2

Red Corporate Business Card business-card-mockups-(38)

Creative Business Card Vol 2 business-card-mockups-(143)

 6 Business Card Mock Up Vol – FREE PSD 71beb573d26cae523700541da244683c

Translucent Business Card Mock up Transparent-Business-Cards-600

 

FREE LOGO MOCK UP


 

Free Logo Mockup PSD free_logo_mockup__psd_by_yesimadesigner-d71e4fh

Painted Wood Logo MockUp Painted-Wood-Logo-Mock-Up-600

3D Wall Logo MockUp 3D-Wall-Logo-MockUp-600

3D Wall Logo MockUp 2 3D-Wall-Logo-MockUp-2-600

3D Wooden Logo MockUp 3D-Wooden-Logo-MockUp-600

Cutout Logo MockUp cutout-600

Leather Stamping Logo MockUp Embossed-Leather-Logo-MockUp-600

Close-Up Logo Mock-ups freebie-slide-1396351872-1

Silver Stamping Logo MockUp Silver-Stamping-Logo-MockUp-600

Gold Stamping Logo MockUp Glod-Hot-Foil-Logo-Mock-Up-600

I Love 3D Logo MockUp i-love-3d-600

Leather Stamping Logo MockUp #2 Leather-Stamping-Logo-MockUp-2-600

Letterpress Logo Mockup (PSD) letterpress-logomockup

Metallic Logo PSD MockUp Metallic-Logo-PSD-Mock-Up-600

 

Spot UV Logo MockUp Spot-UV-Logo-MockUp-big

Vintage Metal Emblem MockUp Vintage-Car-Emblem-Mock-Up-600

Window Signage MockUp Window-Signage-Mock-Up-600
17 Logo Mockup (Psd) All

FREE POSTER MOCK UP


 

Free Flyer / Poster Mock-up

Poster_Mockup

Poster Mockup Template (PSD) poster_mockup_preview_lrg

Poster Frame Mockups (Psd / Vector) Poster-Frame-Mockup-X

Poster Frame PSD MockUp Poster-Frame-PSD-MockUp-600

Poster Frame PSD MockUp Vol. 6 001_antique-vintage-old-retro-frame-picture-poster-presentation-mockup-vol-6-psd

Free Poster Mockup Studio

3b29fca658bdad7c22fa0240ecaae464

Free Poster Mockup  7e48f55acccbc6b30092f5e31b808947
Free Poster Mockup 038cd7b5db8b9517c4589a16802e9390

 

FREE BROCHURES MOCK UP


 

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FREE MAGAZINE MOCK UP


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Magazine Mock-Up (PSD) Freebie magazine-mockup-screenshot

 

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FREE PACKAGING MOCK UP


 

Bottle PSD

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Free Wine Bottle Mockup
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Free Chocolate Packaging Mock Up PSD Template
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Free Coffee Cup Packaging PSD Mock Up
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Product Box Mockup .psd (Freebbbie!)
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Soda Can Mockup
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Vinyl Record PSD MockUp Vinyl-Record-PSD-600

Psd Paper Bag Mock-Up Template Vol2
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FREE SHIRT MOCK UP


 

T-Shirt Mockup using SmartObject .PSD

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T-Shirt Mockup
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Hoodie Template PSD
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Design By Humans Shirt Template
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Jumper MockUp PSD
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FREE BRAND IDENTITY MOCK UP


Stationery MockUp – Wood Edition
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Free PSD Template: Presentation Folder Mockup preview_v2

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For more ideas, visit http://www.youthedesigner.com

graphic designing, Uncategorized, web designing

40+ Beautiful & Free Responsive WordPress Themes to Build Awesome Websites 2015

WordPress is indisputably the most preferred CMS platform on the web. Due to the popularity and development of WordPress CMS, themes that are specially made for sites powered by WordPress also gained considerable fame in the market. Users love WordPress themes because it is painless to set up and can be used to create a website like blog, personal, corporate and portfolio site. However, quality free WordPress themes are not easy to find that is why I decided to gather some of the finest free WordPress themes on hand. Most of these themes include astonishing features that will certainly blow your mind. So, here’s the list of the best free WordPress themes that you can use for your next project:

Zerif Lite

zerif lite - corporate theme

Zerif Lite is a clean and modern one page WordPress theme well suited for web agencies, digital studios, corporate, product showcase, personal and business portfolio. Zerif Lite is optimized to support many popular WordPress plugins such as WooCommerce for eCommerce and WPML plugin to create multilingual WordPress website. This theme is SEO friendly, optimized for all mobile devices and features a clean W3C validated markup.

More info / Download Demo

Sparkling

Sparkling - Free WordPress theme

Let your website sparkle with sophistication with Sparkling free WordPress theme. This modern and flat theme is designed based on the latest bootstrap technology. Sparkling looks amazing on any mobile devices due to its sharp design and fluid layout. This WordPress theme also includes heaps of great features that you can find in premium WordPress themes. It boasts its full-screen slider that allows you to lay greater emphasis on your splendid photos and other creative content. It supports powerful plugins such as Contact Form 7, Gravity Forms, SEO by Yoast, W3 Total Cache and many more. Sparkling is a blend of beauty and efficiency.

More info / Download Demo

Dazzling

Dazzling - Free Business WordPress theme

Dazzling is a stunning Free WordPress theme based on Bootstrap 3, which pride itself on its unrivaled responsiveness and mobile-friendliness. The theme comes with an optional full-screen featured slider, which is very serviceable in building striking business or creative websites. If you are fond of flat design with mint green accent colors, then you should really check this out! What’s more, Dazzling includes added optimization for several popular plugins WordPress SEO, Jetpack, Contact Form 7 and more.

More info / Download Demo

Travelify

Travelify - Free Travel theme

Travelify is a free theme that generously provide premium functionality and excellent support. It is a sleek, trendy and responsive WordPress travel theme that can to contend against first rate premium WordPress themes. This theme is bristled with pixel perfect design, incredible featured slider, custom page and blog templates and lots of other great features. It also includes countless theme options to alter different theme aspects. The best thing about this theme is that you can use it free of charge for your personal travel blog or company website.

More info / Download Demo

Unite

Unite - Free wedding theme

Unite is a clean and stylish free WordPress theme that comes with fully responsive flat design. It is created using the latest Bootstrap 3 and designed to provide a minimalist and user-friendly framework for your site. With Unite, you are able to customize some aspects of your theme such as footer, navigation menu and fonts with ease. This elegant theme is not only suitable for wedding websites/blogs but can also look wonderful on other creative sites that gives more focus on images.

More info / Download Demo

Constructzine Lite

Constructzine WordPress theme

Constructzine Lite is a beautiful and fully responsive WordPress theme well suited for corporate websites. This theme features pixel-perfect design that will look awesome on smartphones, tablets and desktop. Theme settings can be tweaked via simple yet powerful options panel. Constructzine Lit theme has social menu, footer and sidebar widget areas and clean blog template. Its is designed and developed to be used for business websites but it can be used for blogs, portfolio, hobby or any other websites.

More info / Download Demo

The SSMAG

ssmag portfolio theme

The SSMAG Theme is a grid based layout theme, it’s super easy to use just plug and play. This theme was made for content creators wanting to go viral. SSMAG as a big empathise on social sharing and the design layout is also optimize to keep readers exploring your site further.

Like most themes created in 2015, SSMAG is responsive so your site will look good on all devices. Not only that but you also get, custom widgets and optimize ad placement built in. This theme also comes with social menu icons to further promote your Twitter, Facebook profiles etc. The SSMAG theme support embedded video which you can use instead of a featured image on a post page.

More info / Download Demo

BookRev Lite

bookrev - book review theme

BookRev Lite is unique and well crafted WordPress theme designed for book reviews. It will allow you to review any book and allow users to leave their feedback about these books as well and your can monetize all your efforts through affiliate links and sell books from Amazon or other online book stores. With some tweaking and design changed you might as well review other affiliate products such as gadgets, online services or other digital products. BookRev Lite theme features simple yet powerful theme options to tweak this theme functionality without your own code. Theme is SEO friendly, allowing you to make most out of your book or other product reviews.

More info / Download Demo

Simple Theme

Simple - WordPress Theme

The Simple theme is an eye-grabbing business/corporate WordPress theme. Gracefully responsive and built on Bootstrap’s v3.x front-end framework, the Simple theme looks fantastic on the smallest mobile phone and the largest desktop monitor. A powerful theme options panel provides you with the ability to fully manage the look and feel of your website. Choose from over a hundred fonts that can be further refined using weight, color, and style options. The frontpage template provides the option to display a Parallax-style or static banner along with featured pages, page content, and a custom post layout. If you’re looking for a professional, modern WordPress theme, then the Simple theme is a must-see!

More info / Download Demo

Opulus Theme

Opulus WP Theme

The Opulus theme is a super versatile portfolio and business WordPress theme designed for creatives, small businesses, and professionals. Opulus is fully responsive and built on the Bootstrap front-end framework using valid HTML5. This responsiveness ensures that your website will look amazing on the smallest mobile device and the largest desktop monitor. Take advantage of the built-in portfolio to show off your work, and choose from six portfolio layout options. The powerful theme options panel will enable you to modify your website’s look and feel by choosing from more than 100 fonts and infinite color combinations.

More info / Download Demo

Esteem

esteem - minimal & flat corporate theme

Esteem is a simple and easy to use website template that you can use for your blogging, showcasing a portfolio or blogging. You can set this theme into boxed or wide layout. It offer users unlimited theme color options to help them change the look of their website and set their brand apart from the competition. This theme includes 2 custom templates: the first one is custom-built to display your content or products, while the other one is created as your contact page. Esteem supports custom logo and site title, to supplement the changes that you made in the color scheme of your theme. By taking advantage of its custom logo and title, you are able to attract the attention of your target audience and establish brand recognition.

Esteem theme has a completely customizable header image that lets you display contents or images that could boost user engagement in your website. Esteem supports WordPress custom background feature and custom CSS. It has a full screen slider right at the homepage of your website. This theme also offers 3 different blog options, 5 custom widgets and Contact Form 7 ready. This theme has implemented the breadcrumb trail, an alternative navigation scheme that arranges your website in a hierarchical manner. This theme is translation ready, perfect for individuals, agencies or businesses that are targeting local market. Lastly, they offer brilliant support to assist their users in building and managing their website.

More info / Download Demo

Ample

ample - fullscreen business theme

Ample is a free multipurpose theme developed to help you achieve an eye-catching and professional looking website. It is feature-rich and comes with tons of customization options that helps you build the site that you want. You can set this theme into boxed or wide layout. Personalize and make your website easier to remember by adding logo and header text to your website, with the themes incredible logo and header text options. This free theme offer users a primary color option, which you can use for changing the color scheme of the theme to suit your website design as well as online branding needs.

Ample theme comes with awesome slider that helps you present your website in an elegant way with slide effects and splendid transitions. It includes 4 custom widgets that are carefully designed to provide you a presentable business template. Ample has 2 custom menus, one on the primary header and the other on the footer. It also supports the WordPress custom background feature that you can take advantage of if you opt to use the boxed layout option. It comes with custom css to help you tweak the look and design of your website. This theme is translation ready, just create language files and use it in your own language. In case you encounter technical problems in the installation of your website, just leave your inquiries on their support forum.

More info / Download Demo

Accelerate

accelerate - minimal portfolio theme

Accelerate is an attractive and super flexible theme created to provide you a theme with premium look that you can use free of charge. This theme is crafted to make your content stand out and send a clear message to your target audience. It is suitable for portfolio, business, blog, personal, travel, corporate, business services or any other kinds of sites. It has a fluid and flexible layout that enables you to create a portfolio or corporate website, where you can showcase your previous works or display your products. It has a flat and straight forward design that blends perfectly with any types of content that you would like to publish in your website. Moreover, its fully responsive theme makes certain that your website runs smoothly on different type of mobile devices and retina ready to give your audience an optimal viewing experience.

Accelerate theme is designed to flaunt the strengths of your website and let your brand leave a good impression to your target audience. This theme comes with an extensive homepage slider where you can place eye-catching featured images that will certainly grab the attention of your visitors. This theme also support multiple post formats, which means you are able to display different types of content such as images, videos, quotes, links, audio, and short snippets called “asides” to your site. Manage the overall appearance of your portfolio using its theme options pages. Customize your theme by modifying the custom header image or setting the background image or color that represents your trade name. It also allows you to integrate a contact form to your website to help you build a network and help your prospective clients contact you directly.

More info / Download Demo

Inkness

Inkness photography theme

If you’re look for a stylish yet functional framework for your web design, Inkness could be the one for you. This exquisite free WordPress Theme is built with the most recent Twitter Bootstrap frontend framework and integrated with countless features. It is fully responsive and offers an adaptable layout design that let your site fit on any types of mobile devices. Its minimalist design gives more space for highlighting your content. The theme include handy features that offers great customization options such as responsive slider, 4 page layouts, immense theme options, tons of font options, terrific CSS transition effects and clean HTML5 design structure for better SEO. With a right choice of images and suitable theme customization, Inkness can serve as a wonderful theme for any kind of blog.

More info / Download Demo

Fullby

fullby - free template

Perhaps, Fullby theme seems familiar to you. Well, I guess that is because its creation was inspired by Twenty Fourteen. You’ll love the layout design of this fine theme even at first glance. Its framework was based on latest Bootstrap framework, fully responsive and features a grid style. This lightweight theme includes two customizable images. It also offer assorted column layouts and provides a good platform for your content. If you prefer to include your most recent post in the featured section, you can just check the “featured’ option in your post. This marvelous theme also incorporates gallery and video support that you can make use of in building a stunning website.

More info / Download Demo

Arcade Basic

Arcade - free full-screen theme

Arcade Basic is a lightweight yet fully responsive HTML5 WordPress theme. It features an extensive and high-flying header image that can instantly capture the interest of anyone who comes to your website. Its amazing theme customizer let you modify your page layout, header image, site width, etc. It also includes JetPack to your site that can be useful in impressing your site visitors with your eye-catching galleries on a tile view and jQuery carousel. Arcade Basic supports bbPress & BuddyPress plugin that could help you set up an interactive forum within your site. The theme’s framework is also built based on Bootstrap 3, SASS and Compass. Arcade Basic provides a wide range of font options to perk up the typeface readability.

More info / Download Demo

StanleyWP

StanleyWP - Free blog theme

Stanley is one of the most remarkable free WordPress theme brought to us by BlackTie. Stanley employs the best Twitter Bootstrap technology with minimal integration of color in its framework. Stanley proved free stuff isn’t always substandard and could provide first-class functionality. This meek free WordPress theme is overloaded with great built-in features such as user-friendly theme options panel, drag and drop homepage builder, three page templates, Font Awesome 4.0.3, fluid layout design and portfolio post types. This theme is specially designed to help you showcase you stunning success in a simple way.

More info / Download Demo

Romangie

romangie - blog theme

Romangie is a chic and minimalist free WordPress theme. Each aspect of this theme is retina-ready and built based on Bootstrap Framework to guarantee wonderful browsing experience, regardless of what device your website visitor prefers to use. Romangie choose modest and simple design to give more attention to your site’s speed and let your content take center-stage. It may look plain from the outside but it is actually teeming with incredible features such as Twitter embedding, categories, nice navigation menus, galleries, commenting and a calendar.

More info / Download Demo

Flat Theme

Flat Theme For Business

Flat Theme is deemed as the finest free WordPress theme built with twitter Bootstrap 3.0. Its highly developed theme option with shortcodes generator is beyond compare. This simple theme allows you to customize the logo and favicon to go well with your website’s brand. It provides several color and font customization features that could help you give your website a major revamp. It also comes with various theme options such as contact page settings, change admin logo, google analytics and so on.

More info / Download Demo

Lawyeria Lite

lawyeria - free WordPress lawyer theme

If you are looking for free WordPress lawyer theme then Lawyeria Lite is the best choice. It is designed specially for primate attorneys and law firms but it can be used for any consulting or regular business website. Developer have made this theme SEO friendly which means that it will help you get more visitors from search engines such as Google and Bing. Thanks to its clean code base this theme loads incredibly fast and that is going to help to improve user experience and what can be even more important? Lawyeria theme has everything to take your business to the next level, so the choice is yours if you want it or not.

More info / Download Demo

Metro Creative X

metrox - free blog theme

Metro Creative X is a beautiful and fully responsive metro style WordPress blog theme. This theme is based on Masonry grid which makes it fully responsive and optimized for all devices. This theme features a clean code base and valid HTML5 and CSS3. This theme doesn’t have many advanced functions but this also works as an advantage because it loads faster than many other themes on this theme collection. This is the right theme if you are looking for simple and SEO friendly blog theme.

More info / Download Demo

Ward

Ward - customizable theme

Ward is a lightweight and fully responsive WordPress theme created by Bavotasan.com. This theme would be an ideal framework for any types of blog, portfolio or business site. The theme is built with Twitter Bootstrap, which includes tons of great design elements. This unique theme offers heaps of font options that improve your website’s readability. It exhibits an exceptional layout and provides support for post formats. The entire framework of this theme is easy to modify, thanks to its built-in customizer. Lastly, Ward allows you to install a forum in your site since it supports both bbPress & BuddyPress.

More info / Download Demo

Customizr

Customizr - Free business wp theme

Customizr is a clean and responsive WordPress theme that offers tons of fantastic features that can be found on premium website template. This free theme makes building a unique and attractive website a child’s play. The theme has been designed to give fully functional theme options, so everyone could manage it with ease. Moreover, it built with clean HTML5 and CSS3 (from the Twitter Bootstrap) and cross-browser tested. Customizr is also translation ready and gives strong support for WooCommerce and bbPress. This fully responsive free website theme is perfect for creating portfolios, blogs, small businesses, landing pages and corporate sites.

More info / Download Demo

MERIS

Meris - free WordPress theme

Meris is a new free WordPress Theme suitable for any types of businesses. It is retina-ready and offers a responsive layout in order to fit with the recent trends in web design. This theme is built with Bootstrap 3 to function impeccably on different mobile device. It also provides a striking design, packed with useful widgets, full-screen sliders and portfolios to give your site an outstanding design. Meris is an ideal theme for travel, food, sports, portfolios and business websites.

More info / Download Demo

Virtue

Virtue - free multipurpose theme

The Virtue theme is overloaded with amazing customization options for your website. This simple yet well-designed theme is built with clean HTML5 and CSS3. It also adapts a responsive framework from Bootstrap to help your website become fully responsive and mobile friendly. It provides support for WooCommerce that is essential in building an online store. Virtue’s flexible framework goes well with any kind of businesses, online store and portfolio.

More info / Download Demo

Tracks

tracks portfolio WP theme

Tracks is a bold and beautiful free WordPress theme that comes with inimitable design. This theme uses panoramic featured images to convey a unique visual effect to website visitors. The homepage presents recent posts and a brief description for each full-size and bold images alternating down the page. If you are searching for a simple and easy to customize theme, Tracks is the one for you. It offers great built-in customization options that help you create a website in a flash. You can upload a logo image, set the navigation menu, insert site title and tagline and opt for a static front page. Tracks is 100% responsive.

More info / Download Demo

Make

Make - free business theme

Make is a responsive and retina-ready theme fit for building corporate, agency, nonprofit, freelancer or general business website. This theme is built with Bootstrap technology and well coded. It’s easy to build and customize, you can modify layout, styling, colors directly from the website’s backend. Make also comes with powerful Shortcode Generator that provides a convenient interface for creating pages. The theme includes lots of customization options that help you to easily modify the background, layouts, fonts, colors, and logo of your site. Moreover, Make incorporates a functional page builder. This versatile free WordPress theme also supports cool plugins such as Woo Commerce, Gravity Forms and Jetpack.

More info / Download Demo

Responsive

responsive - most popular free theme

Responsive theme is offers an intuitive foundation with a smooth grid system that spontaneously adjust the framework of your website to any mobile devices to give you an excellent user experience. This theme includes 9 Page Templates, 11 Widget Areas, 6 Template Layouts and 4 Menu Positions that you can use in organizing the main structure of your theme. It also provides simple yet fantastic theme options for full CMS control with easy logo upload, social media integration, incredible webmaster tools and many more. Responsive is also WooCommerce to help to establish your own online shop without much effort. Other great features of this amazing theme include Multilingual Ready (WPML), RTL-Language Support, Retina-Ready, Search Engine Friendly, W3C Markup Validated and currently translated into 45 languages. Responsive is by far the most popular free WordPress themes with over 1 million downloads and counting.

More info / Download Demo

Spacious

Spacious - free WP template

Spacious WordPress Theme is a versatile template that can be used for blog, portfolio or business website. It offers vast customization options given its multiple page layouts that provide utmost flexibility as well as six different page templates, and 13 widget areas. It also includes five custom widgets suitable for creating business-oriented sites. Its features such as slider, a boxed and a wide layout, a light and a dark color skin, and a color scheme option that you can use in designing a decent website for your business or portfolio. To finish, the theme is designed proficiently to run with precision on different mobile devices.

More info / Download Demo

Vantage

Vantage - free app showcase theme

Use Vantage theme to your advantage! By far, Vantage is the most innovative free theme that you can exploit for different purposes. This modern theme is overloaded with nice features that can also be found on premium WordPress themes. It has a page builder integration that makes building a professional website a piece of cake. Vantage also features a MetaSlider, an incredible free slider plugin that lets you effortlessly manage and tidy up your sliders. You should make best use of this feature to show your visitors what you’ve got. Last but not least, Vantage supports WooCommerce that can be serviceable to you in building an online store within your website.

More info / Download Demo

Semicolon

Semicolon - free magazine theme

Semicolon is a super clean and fabulously designed magazine-type WordPress theme. This is one of the most sophisticated and organized magazine theme that you can use for free. Semicolon is on the Underscores starter theme and features a responsive design. With its exceptional grid layout, legible typography, social profiles menu and widget areas, this theme manages to stands out from the crowd in an elegant way. You can customize the theme by adding your preferred background image or changing the background color using WordPress customizer. Semicolon also supports two menus: a primary navigation menu and a social menu that utilizes the Genericons vector icon webfont.

More info / Download Demo

Hueman

Hueman - Free Magazine theme

Hueman is a responsive WordPress magazine theme that comes with oodles of modern features. It’s a rare chance to find a proficiently designed, super flexible and user-friendly theme that you can use at no cost. Its vast styling options and adjustable layout settings allow users to incorporate personal touch to their website. Moreover, Hueman is designed to adapt on any screen sizes. This trendy magazine theme also supports 10 post formats, has unlimited widget areas, built-in social buttons and a lot more!

More info / Download Demo

Interface

Interface - free business theme

If you want to build a simple business site and you want to incorporate the flat-style mint green design trend, then choose Interface WordPress theme. This theme comes with a responsive layout and retina-ready. It is also compatible with both BuddyPress and bbPress, so you can set up a forum to your site with no trouble. With its built-in theme option, you can easily change the appearance of your website to suit your business needs. This theme also includes many different building blocks for customizing your business site such as homepage Featured slider, various layout options, diverse page templates and many more. It also supports popular plugins like Breadcrumb NavXT, WP-PageNavi and Contact Form 7. Without a doubt, Interface is the ultimate free WordPress theme for your business website!

More info / Download Demo

Radiate

radiate - free parallax theme

Radiate is a clean, creative blogging free responsive WordPress theme. This theme supports a fancy parallax header image. It integrates primary color option in the theme customizer page that allows you to manage all links and icons in your site. Let your creativity and ingenuity radiate by flaunting amazing photographs in your WordPress Gallery. Change the overall design of your theme with ease using custom CSS. Other features include: custom background, front page featured section, widget area etc.

More info / Download Demo

Adventurous

Adventurous - portfolio theme

Adventurous is an eye-catching free WordPress theme brought to us by Catch Themes. It offers a flexible framework that can be used for corporate, photography and blog sites. This theme features a minimal and clean layout design to give more focus on your content. Adventurous is built with HTML5, CSS3 and is very easy to use. This versatile theme is packed with fantastic features and options to help you create an outstanding online presence with this theme. It also includes a powerful theme options that makes theme customization so easy. Adventurous comes with other incredible features such as post slider, custom widgets, page templates, dropdown menu, shortcodes, custom CSS, localized for translations, etc.

More info / Download Demo

Nictitate

Nictitate - Free Business theme

Nictitate is an elegant business WordPress theme that you can download for free. Its flexible and responsive layout is perfect for building portfolios and corporate sites. The theme is built based on KOPATHEME layout manager, which allows you select layout of any pages within your site easily. This feature is very helpful in creating an effective visual hierarchy in your site. You can also define unlimited sidebar for widget areas. With its powerful custom widgets, Nictitate gives you greater flexibility and accessibility to the main framework of your site. With Nictitate, you do not have to give up sophistication only to save money.

More info / Download Demo

Minamaze

Minamaze - App Showcase theme

Take advantage of the free version of Minamaze multi-purpose professional WordPress theme. This theme offers a great template for business or general blog site. The theme is built with responsive layout and HD retina-ready to adapt and function marvelously on different mobile devices. The theme also includes a dynamic theme options panel that allows you to do tremendous changes within your theme without composing a single line of code. You can use built-in homepage layout to add a logo to your site and build a fine-looking homepage. The theme also comes with a full width easy to use slider that you can utilize in promoting your work or product.

More info / Download Demo

EvoLve

evolve - multipurpose theme

EvoLve is an excellent and flexible One Page WordPress Theme. It is a free theme packed with incredible features that you can use in building an outstanding website. It is fully responsive and runs faultlessly on different modern devices. This theme gives you an option to employ single or grid homepage layout to your website. It was built using Bootstrap with latest HTML5 and CSS3 standards. Google fonts, Parallax slider and theme panel options are just some of the more important features that you can utilize in building a unique website that truly stands out.

More info / Download Demo

Mystile

Mystile - WooCommerce theme

Mystile is a free eCommerce WordPress theme professionally designed by WooThemes. This clean and flexible WooCommerce theme is designed as a canvas which you can use as-is. You can also this theme to create a unique website design that matches your products or brand. It also provides an amazing support for WooCommerce plugin. It also works smoothly in all browsers and devices, thanks to its responsive layout. Moreover, Mystile is bundled with great features such as custom homepage, several color schemes, custom page templates, threaded comments and custom widgets.

More info / Download Demo

Artificer

Artificer - free WordPress thtme

Artificer is a free responsive eCommerce WordPress theme tailor made for people selling arts & crafts. Its agnostic design and responsive layout makes it a perfect platform to showcase your hand made products. It was designed to work properly any device and adjust fittingly to any screen size. It is packed with features serviceable to an online store. Moreover, Artificer supports WooCommerce plugin could help you set up an online shop in an instant! This responsive WordPress theme is best suitable for any online product store, online shop or any eCommerce website.

More info / Download Demo

Serene

Serene WP blog theme

Serene is a simple yet stylish free WordPress theme created by Elegant Themes. Serene is designed for sophistication. It features a very clean and straightforward navigation and rounded social icons. Serene supports unlimited color options that you can mix and match to get the best look that you want for your website. The best part of this responsive theme is its extensive post format support. With Serene, you can effortlessly show off a dynamic feed of articles, videos, audio files, quotes, galleries and links in the most elegant way possible. Other amazing features include WordPress 3.6+ compatibility, a widgetized footer, comment support and more.

More info / Download Demo

MH Magazine lite

Mh - Free Magazine Theme

MH Magazine lite is an elegant free WordPress theme from MH Themes. This theme is perfect for magazines, portals and online news websites. If you want to make sure that your content gets a significant attention from your site visitors, then this is a theme that you will like for sure. This free theme offers great features such as FlexSlider 2 with touch swipe functionality, dynamic theme options, custom menus, 12 widget areas, built in author box to feature your authors, 404 page, supports featured images and much more. Furthermore, this theme is optimized for speed and major search engines like Google.

More info / Download Demo

Flat

Flat Blog Theme

Flat is a free WordPress theme that exudes a charm and sophistication. Its minimalist design makes your website look attractive and accentuates your content. It includes Bootstrap 3, HTML5 and LESS that makes the site more responsive and more impressive. It boasts its flat design and other astounding features such as responsive layout, retina ready, an off canvas sidebar, custom background and sidebar color, customizable logo, favicon sidebar and background. If you want to give greater focus on your content without spending a single dollar, Flat is the best choice for you.

More info / Download

Hemingway

Hemingway - Free personal blog theme

Hemingway displays a very neat and responsive two-column theme for bloggers. With its beautiful colors, legible typography and prominent images you are able to create a unique blog or website. This clean theme is crammed with cool features like responsive design, retina-ready assets, full-width header image with parallax scrolling effect, custom accent color, custom logo upload, custom widgets (video, Flickr and Dribbble), page templates and translation-ready code. Hemingway also provides an excellent post format support.

More info / Download Demo

graphic designing, Uncategorized, web designing

The New Rules of Branding Your Business Online

Mastering branding online takes a lot more than a cool logo and catchy slogan. Experts play by a fresh new set of rules.

adaIt’s no longer enough to have a sleek website, social-media presence, and consistent brand aesthetic online. The new rules of branding your business on the Web have a lot less to do with presentation, and a lot more to do with interaction. In order to bring you up to speed, Inc.com has compiled nine of the most innovative and ingenious tips from articles, guides, and interviews in Inc. and Inc.com over the past year. These are the new rules of branding online.

1. Don’t just start the conversation.
Be an integral and evolving part of it. “Social media has one very important perspective to share with brand management—the conversation. Like branding, social media is all about the conversation and building effective relationships. They are perfectly suited to one another,” says Ed Roach, founder of The Brand Experts, a brand management consultancy in West Leamington, Ontario, the author of The Reluctant Salesperson, a free e-book available at http://www.thebrandingexperts.ca. The rules for brand messaging through new media versus traditional channels haven’t changed, but “the game sure got better and more interesting,” says Roach. It’s not enough to have a Facebook page or a Twitter account, you must participate in the conversation by making regular posts and replying to direct messages from your customers. Ron Smith, president and founder of S&A’s Cherokee, a public relations and marketing firm in Cary, North Carolina, agrees, adding that you’ll want to stay on top of what people are saying about you and your brand online. “Monitoring social media is a must for all companies. Social media has shortened the time frame for company responses to complaints or accusations. These days, companies need to acknowledge any issues and control the messaging in a matter of minutes instead of hours or days,” says Smith. Read more.

2. Either keep your personal brand out of it…
So you have 10,000 Twitter followers. Does it matter to your customers? Tim Ferriss, the entrepreneur behind the sports nutritional supplements company BrainQUICKEN and author of The 4-Hour Workweek, told Inc.com contributor John Warrillow: “Unless you’re in one of a handful of businesses like public speaking, I think managing and growing a personal brand can be a huge distraction for company founders. I see all of these entrepreneurs trying to collect Twitter followers, and it reminds me of a matador waving a red flag in front of a bull. In this case, the founders are the bull. The bullfighter moves the flag away, and the bull comes up with nothing but air. Steve Jobs has a personal brand, but it is Apple’s product design that makes it such a valuable company. He isn’t jumping on Foursquare to develop his ‘personal brand.'” Read more.

3. …or dive in and make all the headlines you can.
Appearing in the media as a source of expertise can go a long way toward building your brand, Inc.’s April Joyner reports. To gain press, identify media outlets that are most applicable to your particular areas of expertise and send them targeted pitches. If you want to be a talking head on radio or television, it also helps to give producers a preview of your personality by referring them to video clips on your site. As with print, the Web has also democratized the world of radio. Through venues such as BlogTalkRadio, anyone can host her or his own broadcasts—or find a show on which to appear. After you have honed an area of expertise, you will find that there are plenty of opportunities to take your message on the road. Becoming active in professional organizations and attending conferences offer valuable opportunities for networking. As you become more familiar within a certain field, more and more people will call on you to share your expertise. Making an appearance as a vendor at an event can also offer long-term personal branding benefits. Read more.

4. Don’t favor edge over consistency.
Chris Russo had a healthy business. The only thing holding it back, he thought, was its name. Three years after its launch in 2006, Fantasy Sports Ventures’s revenue was increasing 40 percent to 50 percent a year, a pace that surprised even Russo. But by the fall of 2009, he was uneasy. Despite the heady growth, Russo felt the company’s brand positioning was pigeonholing the business and would soon limit further expansion. “Fantasy Sports Ventures was not a long-term, sustainable, public-facing brand,” Ed O’Hara, of the branding firm SME, says. “It felt more like a holding company and was too heavily weighted on the fantasy side.” O’Hara and Russo tossed around lots of edgy names, like Fanarchy, Fantology, and Gutcheck, but weren’t sure. Rebranding was on the table, but the company didn’t want to alienate its huge readership and large fan base. The solution? When the company acquired another brand, The Big Lead, and was integrating it into the existing portfolio of sites, Russo realized he struck gold. The name was consistent with the sites’ goals, as well as its existing image.  Read more.

5. Be persistent in finding and targeting your niche.
ada2Even if you’re entering a flooded marketplace—and online is certainly a very crowded forum—you always have a chance to make your brand and company stand out. People used to think water was all the same; now stores carry half-a-dozen brands or more. “Marketers struggle with differentiation because they give up too soon,” says Derrick Daye, managing partner of The Blake Project. “They think that this can’t be differentiated, it can’t be unique.” Experts say the constantly shifting marketplace creates the need to be creative with your approach. The toothpaste market is one that professionals cite as a constantly changing product selection that requires vigilance on the part of brand managers. Additives like baking soda, breath freshener, or whitening strips are now taken for granted. Read more.

6. Excel at telling your customers “About Us.”
You may not be paying much attention to your About Us page, but visitors to your site are, writes Chana Garcia. And considering that your About Us page is where the world first clicks to learn about your company and the services you offer, it deserves a little more consideration and a lot more respect. Sure, you need to include all the basics. But a few simple tactics can make your About Us page a more exciting read and your company come across as more accessible, says Lorrie Thomas, aka The Marketing Therapist, a marketing strategist, educator, writer, web marketing expert and speaker. Avoid writing a soliloquy (too much text can be a turnoff) and focus on connecting with your site visitors. Thomas asked her employees to write their own bios for her company’s About Us page. Her only mandate was that in addition to providing a snapshot of their professional history, they include personal information, such as hobbies or their favorite activities. Some even set up links to their blogs and personal websites. This might also be a good place to include e-mail addresses for your staff. Readily available contact information shows customers that you want to hear from them and that you have nothing to hide. Read more.

7. Fully integrate social media into your site.
You’ll not only look savvy, but increase your connectivity, and gain traffic to you site from elsewhere. You don’t necessarily need to put out the next viral marketing video or hire an expensive marketing agency (although both would probably help) to achieve a high rate of traffic. All you need is a bit of elbow grease, a few tricks up your sleeve, and a commitment to making your site a quality destination for visitors. Add Facebook Like buttons, have a dynamic blog section, utilize SEO, and build your site heavy with links, for starters. More tips can be found in our guide to “How to Drive More Traffic to Your Website.” Read more.

8. Monitor your brand’s reputation, and be ready to respond.
Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp have become essential components of many companies’ online marketing strategies, but there are countless other sites on which customers rant and rave about their experiences. A question or complaint left unanswered on any of them has the potential to tarnish a company’s brand and scare away prospective customers. That’s why companies like Beachbody are using new tools to monitor what’s been said about them online. The most basic services, like Google Alerts, allow users to select keywords to track and to receive e-mail updates whenever they appear on the Web. Others, like Social Mention and HootSuite, specifically scour profiles on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace for relevant comments. Nate Bagley, a social media expert at Mindshare Technologies, a Salt Lake City company that makes software that helps companies keep track of customer feedback, uses Google Alerts and Social Mention to keep track of references to his company, as well as news on its clients, competitors, and the industry at large. “It’s a good way to gather business intelligence,” he says. Some of these services, including Radian6 and Viralheat, detect whether a post is positive, negative, or neutral, so businesses can easily determine which mentions require the most attention. Those features have allowed companies to maintain greater control of their brands. Read more.

9. Showcase your best work.
In this new environment, a sturdy brand is all about trust and relationships. With that goal in mind, there’s no better way to build both than by posting testimonials or listing big-name clients you’ve partnered with. That will lend your business a good amount of credibility. You might consider incorporating your clients’ logos somewhere on your page as an added visual element. Mentioning awards and recognitions your company received, as well as community service work, green initiatives, and interesting facts, will also make your business more appealing. Additionally, timelines, company history, and major milestones are attention-grabbing.

Why not try these out and see for yourselves. You can always come back for more.

For more tips, you can visit http://www.inc.com/

graphic designing, web designing

How to Make Money Blogging – 2015 Edition by Amy Lynn Andrews

How to Make Money Blogging – 2015 Edition

If you’ve ever wondered how to make money blogging, you’ve come to the right place. My goal was to create a one-stop guide with as much up-to-date information about blogging for money as possible. Let’s get started!

make money blogging

Introduction – Can the average person make money blogging?
Things You Need
How It Works
The Bottom Line
Ways to Make Money Blogging

Where to Begin
Tips
Myths
Next Steps

introduction

Can the average person make money blogging?

Absolutely. Just like any business it requires hustle – a lot of hustle – but it is definitely within reach.

The internet has provided opportunities in business unlike any other time in history. There’s a very low barrier to entry, the playing field is leveled, it costs next to nothing to get started and the overhead and risk are minimal.

I know this to be true because I’ve done it myself and I’ve watched countless others do the same.

At the beginning of 2010 I was not making any significant money online. Less than two years later, my husband quit his job and my online income now supports us.

Related: How Much Do Bloggers Make?

Note: I have included some of my referral links in this post. If you click through them and make a purchase, I will make a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you, but it helps keep the lights on here so I can keep bringing you great tips. I really appreciate your support in this way.
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things you need

There are a few things you need before you start making money blogging.

A blog

If you want to make money blogging, obviously you’ll need a blog. If you don’t have one, no worries, simply follow the steps I outlined in How to Start a Blog.

Time

Once you’re set up, you’ll need to create content. You’ll have to write informative posts and articles about your chosen topic. This is the time consuming part. It’ll be a while before you start seeing an income. There is no way around this. There are no shortcuts. We all have to put in our time.

Related: How to Decide What to Blog About

I assure you, the bloggers who are doing this for a living have been at it for years. Online business is no different than offline business in that regard.

The good news is, you can do it too.
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how it works

When someone learns that blogging supports our family, I’m almost always asked, “How do you make money blogging?”

Before I started, I had the same question. The answer is not so straightforward, but I think an analogy will help.

Think of musicians

There are many musicians in the world. Some make money, some don’t. There are many ways to make money as a musician. How do musicians make money?

  • Some go on tour and make money through ticket sales.
  • Many sell their music in the form of CDs, MP3s and other formats.
  • Some create their own merchandise (clothing, cosmetics, souvenirs, etc.).
  • Others are under contract with a record label.
  • Some are employed by a company that puts on regular shows (like a Las Vegas hotel for example).
  • Some musicians write books and make money that way.
  • Others are compensated when they endorse products.
  • The list goes on…

Each of these ways to make money as a musician could be called an income stream. In short, there are many ways one can make money as a musician. It just depends on what income streams are used and how many.

The same goes for bloggers. I’ll get into the specifics of each income stream for bloggers in a moment, but first I need to talk about the 4-legged chair.

The 4-legged chair

To continue the analogy, think about how many musicians there are in the world. A lot right? So why aren’t all musicians professional musicians? Why don’t all of them make money?

I’m sure you would agree, it’s because other things are required.

Before a musician can make money, they need other things, like good connections with the right people, recognition for their ability and an established fan base.

It works the same for bloggers. Just having a blog doesn’t make someone a professional blogger. There must be other things present. What are those things?

This is where my 4-legged chair comes in.

You must have all 4 legs

Think of these 4 main components like the four legs on a chair. To experience the most success as a blogger, all must be present. I cannot emphasize this enough. If you are missing any of the four, you will struggle. And like most things in life, the more time and effort you put into the quality of each of these “legs” the bigger your return.

Setting up the first three legs will take a lot of time. There won’t be a whole lot of return at first. But if you keep going, you’ll eventually see an uptick in income.

1. Create excellent content

Once you have a blog, you must add high-quality content. On a blog, this content comes in the form of blog posts. Your blog posts have to be excellent. In order to make money, you have to have visitors, but in order to have visitors, you must have content worthwhile to visit.

To create your content, draw from the expertise or experience you already have. Start there. After that, never stop learning. Keep growing in your knowledge of your craft so the content you produce gets increasingly great.

The content equivalent for a musician would obviously be music. They have to have music in their repertoire. And it has to be good.

2. Establish real relationships

While you create your content, start building sincere, no-strings-attached relationships via social media, commenting, forums, promoting others and the like.

If no one knows you exist, it’s unlikely you’ll get many visitors. People won’t naturally find you if you don’t put yourself out there. Plus, these relationships may benefit you when it comes time to promote your stuff later on.

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” There’s a lot of truth in that little saying. Never underestimate the power of connections.

Don’t we hear about this all the time in music? People go out on auditions, they network, they take lessons, they attend gatherings and parties and do their best to establish relationships with people that might be able to help them along in their musical pursuits.

3. Build your platform

A lot of people don’t realize that for many bloggers most of the money they make does not come from blogging directly. For many, a blog is a platform. It’s online property. It’s where they establish an “official” digital home. It’s where people can get information about them. It’s like a modern-day business card, headshot, calling card or resume.

Bloggers use their blogs as springboards to launch other projects that bring in income, such as ebooks, books, speaking, other products, etc. (more below).

Your blog is a way to get exposure, build authority, gain trust and be helpful. Call it your brand. Call it your platform. Build a consistent, trustworthy reputation and digital presence, and it will help you rise above the noise online.

4. Choose and implement streams of income

Developing income streams is the last leg of the 4-legged chair. Many people want to focus only on this leg, but without the other three, it won’t work. Trust me on this.

Income streams ebb and flow, so successful bloggers are constantly exploring new ways to make money. The key to making good money as a blogger is to have multiple streams of income. Even small trickles of money coming from various places over time, can really add up.

In the next section I’ll break things down and get specific about the various income streams bloggers adopt, but first you need to know the bottom line.
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the bottom line

The bottom line is, making money as a blogger is about selling. Either you sell your own stuff or you sell someone else’s stuff (directly on your site or indirectly by referring people to them).

It shouldn’t be surprising, but for some reason this idea makes people cringe.

Ponder it for a moment. If you are making money doing what you do, you would be called a “professional.”  And therefore, a professional of any sort, be it musicians, authors, consultants, doctors, makers of widgets is in the business of selling too. They’re selling products, services, art or any number of things.

As a professional blogger, you’ll be selling.

Think of selling as an investment

For many people, selling online conjures up visions of spam or slick, sleazy and gimmicky products of dubious quality. There’s plenty of that online, but there’s a whole lot more that’s valuable, useful and frankly, super convenient (I’m so glad I can buy a 50-pound bag of dog food on Amazon and have it delivered to my front door!).

I hope you’ve personally experienced the value of buying and selling online. If you’ve adopted the idea that any business online is sketchy (outside of the “big” online stores perhaps), erase the thought.

Selling is about investment. We are being sold to constantly. Some things we are willing to invest in and some we’re not. The trick in making money as a blogger is selling things you can stand behind and things your readers are willing to invest in.

But I run a nonprofit

I’d still argue you’re “selling” something. It may not be goods or services, but you’re still trying to get people to buy into your cause, program, vision or movement.

It’s not selling in the most common sense of the word, but the concept behind it is the same: you spread the word about your organization and encourage people to invest in it either financially, emotionally, physically or spiritually.

But I don’t like selling!

I hear ya. I’m not good at promoting my own stuff and I feel uncomfortable “asking for the sale” over and over and over again. But I turned a corner when I realized selling can look a million different ways. It’s just a matter of doing it in a way that works for you.

The fact is, there’s a good chance someone out there wants what you provide. Don’t apologize for it and don’t brag about it. Don’t tip-toe and don’t gush. Just do it, and tell others about it, straight up.

Not sure what it is you have to offer? Here, try this:

Do people marvel at something you do? Do you love doing it?

There. Focus on that.
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ways to make money blogging

As in our example of the musician, you’ll see there are numerous ways bloggers make money. Each blogger has a different combination of income streams. Knowing what types of income streams there are is helpful and can spark ideas, but if you try to dive into monetizing your blog before you’ve really built it, you run the risk of damaging the reputation (platform) you so desperately need.

At the risk of sounding corny, the best way to start monetizing is to let it grow organically out of what you are already doing. So, start blogging about what you enjoy. As you grow, you’ll figure out what ways of monetizing would most suit you. Go with the opportunities as they make sense. Don’t try to force them.

Following are the main categories of income streams.
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advertising

This group is all about generating income directly from your blog, website or your other digital assests.

Display Ads

Display ads are graphics or images similar to billboards or ads in a magazine. Typically they are positioned on your site in the sidebar, header, footer or within your content. They are also known as banner ads.

They are meant to complement your blog’s content, making them attractive and relevant to visitors. Advertisers hope that your visitors will then click on those images to explore and purchase the products or services they offer.

Display ads are often provided through ad networks. Ad networks are companies that pair advertisers with publishers (bloggers). Ad networks act as a middle man between advertisers and publishers, negotiating partnership details between the two. The ad network takes a cut from the partnership profit.

Ad networks are attractive to many bloggers because they take the hassle out of display advertising. Some ad networks, like Google Adsense, are relatively easy to get into and are easy to set up. Other ad networks, though, are selective in who they accept.

Examples of ad networks are Google Adsense, BlogadsBlogHerBeacon Ads, Federated Media, Sovrn, (formerly Lijit), Media.net, Rivit, Sway. (WAHAdventures has a lot more listed as well.)

Can you really make money with Google AdSense?

This is a very popular question, and a good one. Google Adsense is probably the most popular ad network and a good place for beginning bloggers to start if they want to pursue display ads because it’s so easy to set up.

However, if you want to make really good money with Google AdSense, you either have to be in a unique niche in which advertisers will pay a lot for clicks on their ads (hard to find), or you have to have a lot of traffic (hard to get). For these reasons, I don’t recommend AdSense (or display advertising in general) as the main pursuit for new bloggers.

Tips:

  • If you want to get an idea of pricing and traffic for popular blogs, sites like Beacon Ads and Federated Media are places you can do that.
  • If you’re using CPC/PPC ads (cost per click/pay per click), check out Google’s recommendations for best ad placement on your site. It’s important that your content doesn’t get drowned out by ads. Google has indicated sites with too many ads above the fold may be penalized in search. If you’re not sure what is above the fold, use this tool.
  • As always, experiment. Experiment with ad placement to get the right combination on your site.

Further reading: Jason from ProBlogSchool explains ad networks in great detail in his post Ads 102: How to Make Money Using Ad Networks.

Private Ads

Private ads are similar to display ads in that they also come in the form of buttons or graphics and usually appear in the sidebars of blogs. They are unique in that there is no middle man (ad network) to negotiate the partnership. Partnerships are arranged directly between a blogger and an individual, small business or company.

Initial contact can be made by the blogger or by the advertiser. Be clear on what’s expected by both parties.

Not sure what to charge? Look around to see what others in your niche charge. You can often find this information on their advertising pages or in media kits.

Don’t just throw up an advertising page and expect advertisers to come calling. Go to them. Not sure how to do that? Find other blogs like yours that are your size or slightly larger. See who is advertising on their site. Contact those companies and ask if they’d like to advertise on your site too. Create a pitch and make it a win-win.

Check out iHeartOrganizing‘s advertising page as an example.

Tip:

  • If you have ads in your sidebar, keep them full. Instead of displaying a blank box with “Advertise here” fill it with an affiliate graphic (like my Tell Your Time ebook) in there. Crystal Paine puts it well when she says, “This screams, ‘My advertising space isn’t valuable enough for people to want to buy so I instead have this big blank box!’”

Giveaways & Reviews

If you’ve read blogs for any length of time, you’ve surely seen a review or giveaway and maybe participated yourself. A company supplies a product to a blogger to be reviewed and/or given away to readers. A word about giveaways…

I list giveaways here because some bloggers charge to run giveaways in addition to the expected free product to keep for themselves.

There are varying opinions about whether or not one should be compensated for giveaways. As I see it, it largely depends on whether the product is for marketing purposes or for advertising purposes. Companies use marketing to spread the word about their product or service. With advertising, a company makes a deal with another party to help them spread the word. Companies expect to pay for advertising.

For example, a company may market their product by handing out free t-shirts. Because you like the t-shirt, you take it and wear it. You obviously wouldn’t charge the company when you wore their t-shirt.

But I think a giveaway on a blog would often fall in the category of advertising. Yes, the company you’re working with may give you a product to use (indeed, they should!). However, they are also asking you to provide a service to them. After all, you are spending your valuable time to field their emails, communicate with them, write a post (or posts), follow up with giveaway entrants, etc. If there is nothing else you’re getting from the partnership except for the free product, this service should be compensated in my opinion.

Resource: Amy from Mom Advice wrote a post about reviews a few years back that still offers good tips.

Tips:

  • Products you receive for free need to be reported as income on your taxes so keep excellent records and make sure the products you are accepting for review are really ones you want to pay taxes on later.
  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate. This is your blog. No need to just take what you’re offered on the first round. Make it a win-win for both.
  • If you don’t want to do a review for a company, ask the company if they’d like to buy ad space instead. Mention that they’ll still get a spot in front of your readers.

Newsletter/Podcast Sponsorships

If you have an email newsletter or podcast, you can accept advertising just as you would on your blog. You can reach out to potential advertisers, tell them how they would benefit from advertising with you and pitch your idea.

If you want to learn more about monetizing podcasts, I highly recommend Podcast Launch: A complete guide to launching your Podcast with 15 Video Tutorials! by John Lee Dumas. Dumas is just a regular guy who consistently makes 6 figures per month from his podcast. Not only does he show you how to launch a podcast, but he covers making money from your podcast as well.

Sponsored Posts

Writing a sponsored post means you work with a company and write a post about their product or service. Be upfront and disclose your relationship to your readers. Keep sponsored posts to a minimum so you don’t turn off readers.

If you read blogs, you’ve probably seen sponsored posts. They can be spotted by the disclosure stating something like, “This post was sponsored by [company] but all opinions are mine.”

Find examples of sponsored post details and rates on Life Your Way.

Underwritten Posts or Series

Underwritten posts differ from sponsored posts in that the post topic is about whatever you want it to be (as opposed to the company’s product/service), but an advertiser pays to get a “Brought to you by” type note in the post. Anticipate the posts you think will get a lot of response and pitch companies with an underwritten spot.

An example of an underwritten series is this Christmas Gift Guide at MoneySavingMom.com.

Hear what others have to say

There are bloggers who have been quite successful with advertising and who’ve shared what they’ve learned. Check out:

  1. Elite Blog Academy – This course deals with getting more traffic and therefore increasing your advertising revenue. Read my full review of this course first.
  2. How to Monetize Your Food Blog – This ebook is about ad networks, advertising and how to set up an ad waterfall so you get the most out of your ad spots. (It also briefly covers some of the other monetization methods listed below.)
  3. Niche Site Duel – This deals with doing keyword research to find the niches advertisers pay high rates to.

Advertising pros

  • Many are easy to set up and maintain.
  • They can be used as a way to get readers used to ads on your site before you gain higher-earning advertisers. In other words, it can eliminate “ad shock” down the road.
  • Advertising is indeed lucrative for select bloggers. Read on…

Advertising cons

  • Mobile access, popup ad blockers and streamlined browser readers often remove ads from websites, rendering them far less effective.
  • Good advertising revenue depends on very high traffic or a niche with high-paying keywords (hard to find these days).
  • Advertising rates have declined over the last few years.
  • Ads often make a site look spammy and cluttered.
  • Ads often make a user click away from your blog. For a few cents, is it worth it? You have to decide.
  • Many readers have developed ad blindness.
  • Many bloggers have been banned by Google’s Adsense program for no apparent reason. It’s unpredictable.
  • While it is possible to block certain URLs from showing up in your Adsense ads, sometimes bad ones sneak through. This can be detrimental to your brand and platform.

My advertising advice

  • Be patient. Wait for the right partnership that won’t make you compromise.
  • Make sure your advertisers are in line with your values.
  • Don’t do text links. They are often spammy and looked down upon by Google.
  • Unless you are an established blogger for whom advertising is already working, this is the income stream I would pursue last. The traffic requirement and low ad rates means your time will be better spent elsewhere.

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affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing involves promoting someone else’s product or service and earning a commission when one of your readers clicks through your unique affiliate link and makes a purchase.

I wrote about affiliate marketing at length in What is Affiliate Marketing? and My Top Affiliate Marketing Tips.
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digital products

Audio/Video

You can sell music or video that others can use as intros or outros. Audio Jungle or iStockPhoto (they sell audio too).

Apps, Plugins or Themes

If you have a knack for code-writing and can write your own themes or plugins, you can sell them at a place like Creative Market.

Also, many plugin authors offer their plugins for free but ask for donations.

Domains

Do you have a domain collecting problem? Did you know you could sell them for profit?

Ecourses/Webinars/Online Workshops

You could do all sorts of things with this from small to large. Of course, you wouldn’t have to go big the first time around. Test the waters by holding a small, local event first. Grow bigger as you learn the ropes and figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Just pick something you’re good at that other people want to know and teach it! Do it once or twice to refine your presentation and then start charging a small fee to those who want to take your class. Check out how LeadPages uses webinars to sell their product in this free 10-part video series.

Ebooks

Many, many bloggers have written ebooks. I’ve made a healthy chunk selling my own ebook Tell Your Time the last few years. (Here’s why I turned down a traditional book deal in favor of self-publishing.)

I don’t think ebooks (generally) make the same kind of money they did a few years ago, but for some, with very compelling topics and a decent group of supporters who help promote, it can be a good option.

If you want to write your own ebook, check out my series How to Write an Ebook.

One benefit of having an ebook is the ability to participate in ebook bundles which can generate quite a bit of income. Again, it’s about relationships and pooling your resources. See how Stephanie and Erin do it at Ultimate Bundles.

Related: How to Make Money as an Ultimate Bundle Affiliate.

Premium Content & Membership Communities

Insider spaces, one-on-one interaction, VIP rooms. Premium content is just what it sounds like – content that others must pay to access. This isn’t a new concept, but I do think it will become more and more common.

There is free information all over the internet, so in order for this to work, you would have to offer something truly unique — some sort of “insider information,” special access to individuals whose expertise is highly sought after, products or services that go above and beyond the norm, such or special treatment such as one-on-one interaction and coaching.

I’ve experimented with premium content when I created my Useletter Archives (now closed).

Another example of a premium content site is Food Blogger Pro. Bjork started this site after being asked by food bloggers how he and his wife Lindsay built their hugely popular food blog, Pinch of Yum.

Photos

Are you a photographer? Illustrator? Why not sell your photos on a site like iStockphoto? SomeGirl has an excellent series about how to become an iStockphoto seller. A significant portion of her family’s income comes from selling photos.

Selling Blogs & Websites

Many bloggers have sold their blogs or websites for 4-, 5-, 6- and even 7-figure sums. There is also something called flipping websites where you obtain a small blog or website, grow it and then sell it for profit later.

If you want to flip a site, check out Flippa. And if you want to read about those who have sold their blog, you can read this.
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physical products

Books

For many bloggers, their blogs have helped them sell books, both self and traditionally published. I’ve heard over and over again that traditional publishers will not typically consider your manuscript if you don’t have a blog first.

And if you’re a self-published author or hybrid author (that is, you have both self-published and traditionally-published books), a blog is a great way to sell books.

Conferences, Classes or Special Events

I consider hosting an event like a conference a “physical” product since it involves an exchange of something tangible (in this case, money for a ticket to an experience). You can also do bigger events like day-long seminars or workshops or even multi-day conferences.

Do not underestimate the work that would go into pulling off one of these events successfully. It’s a huge undertaking, but if you have a background in event planning or are extremely motivated, organized and are good at networking and making connections with companies (sponsors) etc., this might be for you.

In your niche or area of interest, it’s likely there are large, established conferences already. So, try narrowing down your conference topic in order to target a more specific group. If you’re going to put on a large-scale event, be very clear and very specific in your goals and make sure there’s a strong desire for the information you can provide. And then do it with excellence.

The way you would make money, of course, is to charge a fee to attend and/or partner with sponsors to cover your costs (and your salary).

Handmade Products

Are you crafty? Consider selling on Etsy. You can set up your own shop for free and it’s simple to get started. It’s not so simple to stand out from the crowd, so that’s likely to be your biggest challenge. Here are some tips on how to market your shop.

Manufactured Products

Sell manufactured products. Use your site/blog/newsletter to promote it.

If you create the product yourself, that’s great, but if you don’t know how to create your own product, you can sell someone else’s in your own shop.

If you have an idea for a product you’d like to sell but aren’t sure where to start, this couple tells you how they started selling wedding linens online. Their Online Store Tutorials are particularly helpful.
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services

You might think of this like freelancing. If you have a skill (who doesn’t?), why not offer your services via the internet (a.k.a. virtually)? It does not have to be computer related. Think of ways you can use your already-gained skills in your favor and put them online.

  • Administrative Assistant
  • App Developer
  • Audio/Video Editor
  • Coach
  • Concierge/Personal Assistant
  • Consultant
  • Cook – This isn’t completely virtual as you would have to deliver food, but you could still use the internet to get exposure. Here’s an example.
  • Counselor
  • Designer – Check out Minted’s Design Challenge for a place to start.
  • Digital Freelancer – Pick a task you can do quickly that others “will get around to someday.” For example, digitizing their boxes of photos.
  • Photo Editor
  • Project Manager
  • Social Media Manager
  • Software Writer
  • Speaker
  • Trainer
  • Transcriptionist
  • Tutor
  • Visioneer – Have people send you pictures of their room/house/yard and offer suggestions for improvement. Post before & after photos on your blog.
  • Web Builder – If you’ve set up your own site, contact local brick & mortar businesses and see if you can set up theirs. Barter services to get your feet wet, gain experience and build a portfolio.
  • Web Developer
  • Writer – The advantage of writing for other sites is that you get to be a part of something that’s already established. Also, you don’t have to worry about the technical aspects of running and maintaining your own site. Keep your ears peeled for contributor opportunities. You could start by guest posting.

I wrote a post called How to Become a Virtual Assistant with tips for anyone wanting to offer their services online.

Resource: The Bootstrap VA: The Go-Getter’s Guide to Becoming a Virtual Assistant, Getting and Keeping Clients, and More, an ebook by Lisa Morosky. Make it your first business investment. This ebook blew my mind; it’s loaded with tips, resources and step-by-step instruction.

Pro to offering a service:

  • Low startup cost. Little to no inventory required.

Con to offering a service:

  • Not scaleable. In other words, your business size depends on how much time you have. You only have so much time in your day so you can provide a finite amount of service.

Tips for service providers:

  • Create a simple brochure-type site with just a few pages: Home, About, Contact, Resume, Services & Pricing, Before and After Photos (if applicable) and Testimonials once you get some.
  • Participate in forums, comments and other social media platforms and answer questions. Build a reputation as an authority and expert.

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where to begin

Feeling overwhelmed yet? You’re not alone. It is overwhelming.

You should know there are no magic bullets. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another and vice versa. There are no guaranteed, across-the-board results either. Your mileage may vary. Take the time to think through what might work for you.

What’s your personality?

Are you an introvert? Extrovert? Are you organized and like to work ahead? Are you spontaneous and fly by the seat of your pants? All these questions will help you determine the best fit for you.

For example, I started a forum many years ago, but as an introvert, I quickly realized managing and moderating all the conversation was too stressful. So, I handed it over to someone who loved the social aspect of it.

Also, I like to tackle a project and move on. I don’t like open-ended projects that are ongoing. That’s why I prefer writing and selling an ebook rather than running a membership site.

Take your personality and temperament into account and decide what will work for you.

What’s your season of life?

When I started blogging I was a mom with newborns and toddlers. There was just no way I had the time or energy to devote to an online business. But now my kids are older and it works differently.

It’s true my children are now out of the newborn and toddler stage but we have moved into the spend-your-life-in-the-car stage, chauffeuring people to activities all the live long day. Not to mention the hungry-every-5-minutes stage where they eat as fast as I cook. If it weren’t for my husband’s flexible schedule, I’d have to seriously rethink things.

Think realistically about what’s going on in your life. How much time do you really have to devote to blogging?

What are others in your niche doing?

If you’re still stumped, one of the best ways to figure out what might work for you is to look at well-established bloggers in your niche and take note of the monetization methods they use. If those methods will work with your personality and season of life, start there.
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tips header

Start small

Keep your day job and build your blog on the side, particularly if you have a family to support. Once you gain traction and can confidently replace your income, launch out on your own.

Find a hole and fill it

You’ll significantly increase your chances of success if you meet a need for others instead of blogging as an outlet for yourself.

Change with the times

Blogging for money today is quite different than it was even 2 years ago. You must stay ahead of the curve. It means you’ll constantly need to be experimenting and branching out. Read a lot. Or, if you’d prefer not to do all that reading, subscribe to my useletter and I’ll keep you posted on the latest.

Experiment and take risks

I don’t  think there is a business on earth that has as little risk or overhead as blogging (if you bootstrap it). For that reason, be bold. You’ve got very, very little to lose and so much to potentially gain.

And when you’re first starting out, risk more. You won’t have as many followers so you can work out the kinks early without the whole world watching.

Be observant

There is something to be said about putting your head down and getting to work. However, if you don’t occasionally glance up to see how you might need to adjust and grow, you’ll get left behind.

Diversify

I already mentioned the importance of finding new income streams, but the other piece of that is to keep them diverse. The internet changes constantly. That way, if one stream dries up (happens all the time in online business), you’ve still got the others.

Don’t just make an income, make a living

Consider passion, productivity and profit. Find the intersection of all three.

  • If you are passionate about something and you can produce stuff but you aren’t making money, you have a hobby.
  • If you produce stuff and you make money but you lack passion, you have a job.
  • If you are passionate and are making money but you feel like it’s taking over your life to the detriment of your other responsibilities, you have an obsession.

Hobbies, jobs and even obsessions might not be totally bad, but try to adjust so you are passionate, productive and profitable. To me, that’s making a living.

Establish a blogging routine

Carve out regular time each day to focus on a few simple tasks (mostly creating great content). Learn to tune out the noise and do your thing.

Be you

There’s nothing new under the sun, that’s true. Everything online is just a repackaging of what already was there. However, there is no one that can repackage something in the way you can. Tap into your uniqueness.

Be memorable

Before you start a blog in a huge niche with a lot of blogs, be sure you have a concrete plan for standing out. A large niche is a good sign because it means there are a lot of readers in that niche, but for those starting out, it’ll be very difficult to compete with the blogs that have already established themselves. How will you make others take a second look?

Don’t forget about taxes

I realize I can’t speak for everyone in the world, but here in the U.S., income you make blogging should be reported on your taxes. My advice here is to keep good records from the beginning. An ebook I found personally helpful was Your Blogging Business: Tax Talk & Tips from a Bookkeeper Turned Blogger.

Work hard

If you want to make money blogging, especially a full-time income, you’ll never work harder in your life. But you’ll probably never have so much fun either. Go for it!
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myths

There are a number of misconceptions about blogging for money I’ve touched on throughout this guide, but just in case you skipped down here first, I’ll restate them. Better to be aware of them upfront so you have a realistic picture of the journey.

Myth: Blogging is a good way to make money fast

A lot of people think blogging has quick monetary returns. For most of us, it absolutely does not. Most of the people I know who are making a great part-time income have been at it for at least a year. Anyone who is making a full-time income has been at it for years. If anyone tells you differently, be very skeptical.

Myth: Once it’s live on the internet, people will find your blog

There are millions and millions of blogs online. Unless you win the internet lottery (not likely), there’s no way people will find you unless you tell them. Thus the importance of actively building relationships (see above).

Myth: Making money online isn’t legitimate

This is just simply untrue. There are sketchy people in any industry, but not only is online entrepreneurialism legitimate, it’s fast becoming a preferred way to do business because there’s low overhead and low risk.

Myth: Blogging for money doesn’t work

It’s true, a lot of bloggers don’t make money even after working toward that end. However, the reason is not because it doesn’t work. From what I’ve observed, it usually results from lack of motivation, lack of creativity or originality, lack of patience or lack of hustle. It’s a hard gig!

Myth: Blogging is for business types

This is what I thought when I first started blogging in 2004. I thought it was for men who could devote themselves full time to their blogging endeavor. But then I met a lot of moms and regular people like me who were making impressive incomes.
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next steps

So, what does this mean for you?

First, I have to ask, do you have a blog?

If not, start by setting up your own site. There is no need to be intimidated by the process. I have written another guide called How to Blog.

how to blog

Next go back up the 4-legged section above and start creating excellent content and building relationships on social media. Figure out where your perfect reader hangs out online and go there. Start to follow people you find interesting. Comment on posts, pins, updates or tweets. Demonstrate genuine interest in what they’re doing. Just make friends.

I would also suggest you sign up for my useletter. In it, I try to keep you updated on what’s going on in the blogging world and cool things bloggers might find useful. You can sign up here. It’s free of course and emails arrive usually on Saturday mornings.

If you want to see what others have done, check out my popular post How Much Do Real Bloggers Make?
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like it share it

Do you think this guide would be useful to others?

I always appreciate a comprehensive guide where I can get the information I need without a lot of fluff. If you agree, I would greatly appreciate it if you would share this post with others so they can be helped too. Thank you!
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For more helpful tips, visit http://amylynnandrews.com

graphic designing, web designing

43 Experts Share Their Top Tips To Grow Your Online Presence

How To Stand Out Online

As bloggers, we want and in some cases need more eye balls on our content.

But it’s not always so easy.

And there’s a lot of bad advice around that could hurt your chances.

You need insights from the experts.

Today I have a real treat for you.

I have assembled a group of incredible blogging, marketing and social media experts with the aim of giving a single piece of advice that could make a huge difference to your online presence.

And, ultimately help you stand out and get more eyeballs on your content.

The big question:

If you could give one piece of advice to bloggers that would help them grow their online presence or just stand out online, what would it be?
The experts that took part:

Click on the experts name to read their answer.

Aaron Lee, Adrienne Smith, Ashley Faulkes, Brian Dean, Bonnie Andrews.
Caleb Storkey, Charissa Moore, Chris Garrett, Christian Karasiewicz, Cyrus Shepard.
Danny Iny, Danny Wong, Denise Wakeman, Devesh Sharma.
Eric Enge.
Gini Dietrich, Glen Long.
Ian Cleary, Iman Jalali.
Jeff Bullas, John Lee Dumas, John Paul Aguiar, Jon Morrow.
Kathryn Aragon, Kevin Muldoon.
Larry Kim, Laurie Hurley, Lisa Irby, Lyuba Ellingson.
Martin Shervington, Michael JubaMike Allton.
Neil Patel, Niall Devitt.
Pauline Cabrera, Peg Fitzpatrick.
Ron Sela, Ryan Hanley.
Ted Rubin, Timo Kiander.
Vincent Ng.
Wade Harman, Walter Blake Knoblock.

Expert tips to grow your online presence

Note: all responses are published in the order they were received:

Caleb Storkey – CalebStorkey.com

Caleb StorkeyFind your unique voice and be at peace with it. What do you get passionate about, what does your audience want and how can you make that passion contagious with your audience? With so many voices sharing great content, the one thing that people will never be able to trump you on, is you… being the incredible you that you are.

With all your insecurities, doubts, fears, dreams, hopes, aspirations, strategies and insights! Let your unique voice capture your listeners heart, serve their needs and add tangible value to their lives…. and they’ll always keep coming back for more.

Brian Dean – Backlinko

Brian DeanONLY publish case studies. Literally don’t publish anything that’s not a case study in some way. The fact is, unless you’re a huge name like Gary Vaynerchuk, no one cares what you think. But they DO care about how you can help them.

One of the best ways to show people that you can help them is to publish case studies. But I’ve come to realize — after analyzing what content did best on my blog — that there’s really no reason NOT to publish a case study every single time. After all, if you have advice that’s helpful, you shouldn’t have a problem publishing a case study to go along with it.

Big name bloggers like Pat Flynn came out of nowhere by ditching “here’s my take on X” content and focusing on case study content. It works.

Charissa Moore – House of Bliss

Charissa MooreConnect with the emotions of your audience. If you can speak to what they’re feeling now, as well as how they want to feel, you’ll create a relationship with them they’ll never forget.

Neil Patel – Quick Sprout

Neil PatelIt would be to guest post.

A lot of bloggers try to build their brand and presence through their own blog, but why not leverage the traffic of large blogs?

For example, it is rare that your blog will ever get more traffic than sites like Forbes, so in addition to posting on your blog, look to guest post on authoritative sites.

Don’t do it for the backlinks, do it for the branding.

Danny Wong – Shareaholic

Danny WongAlign yourself with other ambitious and influential bloggers. My career as a blogger has spanned nearly 5 years, and during that time, I’ve been published on The Huffington Post, The Next Web, Search Engine Journal, Entrepreneur, and ReadWrite.

When you ally with more-established bloggers and many up-and-coming writers, you’ll quickly recognize the power of collaboration and networking.

Keeping bloggers in your niche in-the-know about your work means you’ll always be top-of-mind with them whenever noteworthy opportunities come up. I have many writers to thank for helping me grow my career; three worth mentioning are Shane Snow of Contently who gave me the confidence to work with my first paying client, and Ritika Puri and Brian Honigman who frequently refer quality clients and projects my way.

Admittedly, it hasn’t been that much of an uphill battle to build a name for myself. And that all came organically after developing critical relationships with writers who loved my work after I showed it to them.

Kathryn Aragon – Crazy Egg and KathrynAragon.com

Kathryn AragonIf you’re just starting out as a blogger and want to get noticed quickly, you need to make yourself visible every day. To make this happen, you’re going to have to include a variety of tactics, which could, at first, feel overwhelming. The secret is to make it a natural part of your day and to think of it as supporting one goal: visibility.

Here’s what I recommend:

  • Spend 20 to 30 minutes a day curating articles that relate to your area of expertise. Use a tool like Buffer or HootSuite to schedule them over the next day or so in Twitter.
  • Get involved in some groups on LinkedIn and/or Google+. Spend a half hour or so each week engaging with these groups. Focus on helping others, not promoting yourself.
  • Write guest blog posts for leading blogs in your industry. Set a goal of publishing at least one guest post per month.
  • Don’t forget your own website. When people see you online, they’ll come to check you out. Make sure your site looks professional and shows off your skills. And make sure it’s optimized for search.
  • At least once a week, post a valuable piece of content to your own blog. Then share it on all your social channels.

One final tip: A great way to get your name on people’s radar is to write an interview post like this one.

You’ll quickly expand your network and develop relationship with recognized experts.

Bonnie Andrews – Hobby To Hot

Bonnie AndrewsYou are running the show – not your blog. You wear the pants. You’re in the driver’s seat.

So often I see bloggers who are letting their blogs take over, like the blog is some kind of living, breathing life form that’s controlling them.

They feel stressed. They feel frustrated. They feel overwhelmed and they feel like a master to their blog instead of their blog being a servant in their online/blogging business. It’s unreal how often bloggers want to give up, even when they’re onto something great. So in short, don’t give up and don’t let your blog become your master.

Keep it in a real perspective and think straight. This is you. This is your business and no one can take it away from you or make you fail outside of your permission.

Here are 5 more tips you’ll probably be interested in reading about too: 5 Simple Ways to Rock Your Blog and Have a Life Too.

Christian Karasiewicz – ChristianKOnline.com

Christian KIf I could give one piece of advice to bloggers that would help them grow their online presence it would be to leverage their social media channels. 

A lot of bloggers I work with think that once they have written their blog post, that’s it.

If you are a blogger and you want to grow your online presence, you need to be sure you also promote your blog post after you hit publish.

You can do this a number of ways:

  • Share your post with fans on social networks you are on
  • Promote your blog post in communities such as Triberr
  • Notify your email list
  • Include links in your email signature
  • If it is work related, post links within your companies Intranet for employees to learn about

By taking this extra step, you can leverage your connections to get the word out about your latest blog post.

It is also important to remember to include links to your social media channels where you want readers to connect with you at. This way once they read your content, if they want to connect, you have made it easy for them to.

By promoting your blog post, not only can you increase your views, but build awareness on your knowledge on a particular topic and grow your online presence.

If I could give one piece of advice to bloggers that would help them stand out online it would be to network with other bloggers (and write awesome content). 

One of the fastest ways to stand out online is to write content people want to read. But how do you do that if you have a limited audience? That’s where networking comes into play.

By networking, not only can you get your content in front or more people, but if you network with the right people, you can gain more exposure just by having them mention you or share your content within their network of friends, fans and business associates.

One of the best ways to do this is to guest blog for other sites. Some ways to do this are to use the contact form on a site you want to guest post for or to engage with them via their social media channels.

By doing this, you can open doors and also demonstrate to people who are not familiar with your work that you are a subject matter expert on a particular topic.

In doing this, you can not only get your name out there but stand out more in a crowded online world.

John Paul Aguiar – JohnPaulAguiar.com

John Paul AguiarI would say it comes down to two things.

First, have a blog design that stands out and is different. If you visit enough blogs, they all start to look the same, same themes, same colors, it’s boring.

Instead, use a design and color scheme that no one has, whether they like it or not, they will remember it.

Second, I would say “write your content”. That means, write original stuff, write stuff no one is writing and in a way no one else is writing it.

Curation is a big thing online now and I see many bloggers doing it, to me I think it’s a BIG mistake. Referencing someone or something in a post is fine, but full curation isn’t good.

How can YOU stand out when you are mainly sharing OTHER peoples stuff?

Write content in a way that ONLY you can write, once you do that it will be very easy for you to get noticed and grow your presence online.

Chris Garrett – ChrisG.com

Chris GarrettGet to know the intersection of:

  1. How you can help
  2. What people need/want
  3. What people find difficult to get help with
  4. How your approach is unique and better

If you can find something you can help with, that is in demand, and is under-served, then you will not just stand out but you will make a significant contribution to other people’s lives.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I do not mean find something where there is no competition! I mean get to know your specific target audience so you can help them the best. Let them connect with you, let your personality and voice come through. Use the benefit of your own experience while teaching. It’s about them, but use what makes you “you” to reach them.

To give you an example, I am learning about the world of fiction writing from Sean Platt and Johnny Truant, even though there is a lot of information out there for aspiring authors. I feel they “get me” in regards my specific needs.

Unlike other people who are giving storytelling advice, they are normal people who have discovered some effective systems, but they also have personality. They teach their readers to work hard, while they also demonstrably work very hard, and they tell their audience very clearly that “build it and they will come” is a mission bound to fail.

So they meet a need, in their own unique way, with their tried and tested systems. Not everyone will resonate with them, and that is a good thing.

Ted Rubin – TedRubin.com

Ted RubinA good way to start to develop an audience is to comment on more established blogs in your niche—but only when you can add something meaningful to the conversation.

Most blogging platforms will let you identify your website when you’re commenting. If someone finds your comment of value, they will often click through to your site to find out more.

The trick here is not to get promotional (such as adding a self-serving link to your articles in the comment) or saying something meaningless, such as “great post!” Look at it as a way to add value to the blogger’s post without stepping on toes.

Perhaps you could pose another question or offer a different spin on the topic. Make it a regular practice to seek out blogs to comment on.

I also like to comment often on industry blogs because they are widely read and many will see what you have to say, some even rate you as a commenter.

Always keep this in mind… To me it is really simple, if you want to “stand out” in the social space, do what most others are not doing… actually be SOCIAL when using Social Media :-) #RonR #H2H.

Glen Long – Boost Blog Traffic

Glen LongI think clarity is hugely important for bloggers.

And for me there are two types: clarity of purpose and clarity of execution.

Clarity of purpose means knowing exactly who you’re targeting with your blog, how you’re helping them and why your blog is different to all the other blogs out there. Too many bloggers don’t know the answers to these basic questions and as a result they find it hard to stand out from the crowd.

Clarity of execution means bringing this purpose to life with your blog so that new visitors know within seconds whether or not it’s relevant to them, their needs and concerns. That clarity extends to your blog design, your tagline, your about page, your headlines – everything must resonate with your core purpose.

And you must learn to write clearly too. You can’t spread great ideas if you can’t successfully plant the seed in someone else’s head (a topic I write about here).

Standing out means that others are easily able to bring you and your blog into clear focus. And without clarity of purpose and execution you’ll remain a blur in the background forever.

Timo Kiander – Productive Superdad

Timo KianderFor me the single biggest difference has been guest posting.

It’s all about creating relationships with others, showing your expertise and becoming an authority in your niche.

When you have done some guest posting (also on bigger blogs), it makes it easier to launch your own product later on.

This (creating products) will grow your audience and your authority even further.

Ian Cleary – Razor Social

Ian ClearyBe different than every other blogger out there.  You can be different by picking a niche that no one else writes content on or deliver the content in a different way than someone else.  My entire focus on my blog is social media tools.

Although many people write about tools there was no one site that focussed only on tools.  This helps your blog grow a lot quicker.  If you don’t stand out from the crowd it will a steeper hill you have to climb.

Jon Morrow – Boost Blog Traffic

Jon MorrowMake your blog about your audience, not about you.

It’s easy to find yourself thinking about what YOU want to say, what feels right to YOU, and what you want the blog to do for YOU, but here’s the thing:

You don’t matter. If you want to be successful, you have to set your ego aside and focus entirely on building what your audience needs and wants.

It’s harder than it sounds. To help you get started, try this simple exercise:

Write an entire blog post without using the word “I.” You can’t cheat by writing things like “One might think…” either. Instead, relate every single point you have to make to the audience. Make yourself invisible.

Once you master the art of invisibility, you can start injecting your own colorful personality back into your posts. In the beginning though, make yourself as transparent as glass.

Ashley Faulkes – Mad Lemmings

Ashley FaulkesGetting attention as a blogger today is tougher than a doorman at a London pub. That is to say, extremely tough and also quite a challenge.

I have used a few techniques to help expand my reach and get myself known since I started blogging, and I am quickly going to share some of my secrets with you.

One of the first things I did was to write something that included a lot of influencers in it. This is a trick that a lot of people will probably mention in this post, so I will move on to my next idea.

Another great idea is to stand out from the crowd by branding yourself. In fact, quite recently I had a great podcast discussion with John Paul Agiuar on this very topic. He is a smart guy, so it is worth a listen.

So what exactly do I mean by branding yourself?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Find a unique color scheme and a font or two, and a logo of course, that suit your brand.
  • Use these on all of your images for social media and blog posts.
  • Use the same image of you (or your logo) on all your social media accounts, email, gravitar etc .
  • Also add your blog URL to all images and videos on social media.

If you want some great role models for this kind of thing (apart from myself of course) check out Rebekah Radice, Dustin Stout and Robert Ryan. These guys are doing a great job of personal branding online.

Although this may seem like something that will not get you very far, remember that not many people are doing this, or doing this well. But if branding works for Coke, Nike and McDonalds, then it is certainly worth giving it a go!

A final note: If you need some help making awesome images to promote your brand, Adam has recently made a list of great tools to use in this post (I personally recommend Canva).

Start thinking seriously about your brand today and stand out from the crowd.

Laurie Hurley – Social Media Help On Call

Laurie HurleyIn order to build your presence online and stand out from all the other noise, be sure you are consistently delivering great content every single time you blog.

Addressing your clients’ needs, worries, and problems, while infusing a bit of your own personality is the perfect mixture for a stellar blog.

Join a blogging group on LinkedIn or Google Plus so your blogs are seen by others and shared and commented on for increased exposure.

Most importantly, tell a story – draw your readers in, don’t just list five tips for this or that; boring and it’s probably been done before.

Martin Shervington – Plus Your Business

Martin ShervingtonGet started on Google+!

Really, it will renew your blogging experience.

Not only does the content you create get indexed by Google, but the community on Google+ will actual enable your content to be amplified and help it surface as Search results.

You can create mini opt in lists of dedicated readers using Google circles, and email them with your latest posts.

You will also have incredible conversations, get new ideas and the more you give, the more your future will be shaped by the network you form.

Trust me, it will transform your online life as a blogger.

Jeff Bullas – JeffBullas.com

Jeff BullasIt isn’t just one thing, otherwise you won’t stand out. You need to do at least two things!

First create the best content you can that adds value to your readers lives and business. Then you need to build and optimize online distribution networks for your content including email, social and search.

Eric Enge – Stone Temple Consulting

Eric EngeSeek extreme differentiation.

“Me-too” content is not going to cut it.

If you search on this query in Google: intitle:”how to make french toast” you get more than 30,000 results in Google.  That means that there are more than 30,000 web pages with “how to make French toast” in the title tag.

Google does not need any more such articles. Neither do the audiences you are trying to reach on social media or the web at large.

Eric Enge French Toast Example

Find ways to create fantastic new content.

If you need to cover a me-too like topic, find a way to bring a new spin to it, add some new humor to it, share it on a new platform, or address one specific vertical aspect of it in a way that others have not done before.

Differentiation is critical to survival … and thriving on line.

Wade Harman – WadeHarman.com

Wade HarmanOne thing that I would always recommend to people is to start searching for like-minded people right away.

Build your tribe by connecting yourself to people that are in your target market.

You cannot make it to the top by yourself; it’s the people around you that will help you get there, and you helping them.

This is not an individual quest for victory its locking arms with the people you have made relationships with and helping each other succeed.

You can do this by helping promote other people’s posts and events, retweeting and re-sharing.  People remember that.  People also remember someone who extends kindness and helpfulness without expecting anything in return.

Do what you can to be a servant so you can eventually be served yourself.

Danny Iny – Firepole Marketing

Danny InyThere are a lot of different things that bloggers can do to stand out online – but the first and most important one is to focus on one niche.

When you dilute your message by writing about different subjects in different areas, your reader’s don’t know what to think. This is okay later on after you’ve built a reputation and have strong relationships with your readership and the broader community – but in the beginning people need to know what to expect from you, and by narrowly focusing on one specific niche you can build yourself into a position of authority much more quickly.

Pick something you’re good at, that interests you, and that you have good reason to believe will interest a lot of other people as well.

Cyrus Shepard – Moz

Cyrus ShepardI have two pieces of advice to bloggers to help them grow their presence and stand out online.

1. The first would be to create something unique and useful that no one in their space has done before. For example, I am a bicyclist and although there are bicycling route sites aplenty online, they are confusing and hard to navigate, so I might create the Most Amazing Bicycle Routes in Seattle and rank them by difficulty, elevation, length, popularity, etc. It’s usually not very hard to find something to create that’s better than everything else out there – the hard part is actually putting in the work to make it.

2. Getting involved with other bloggers, being social, is an essential part of the equation. Bloggers and people who comment on your blog are people themselves who like to engage, and these are the very same people you want to promote your work. If you are a finance blogger, help out other finance bloggers! Leave comments, link to their posts, say hi to them at conferences.

Blogging is a lot like real life, except when you do it right you can connect with people in the world even when you are sleeping.

Pauline Cabrera – Twelve Skip

Pauline CabreraMy biggest piece of advice is don’t be generic. Don’t just become a “me too” blog. You need to stand out in order to get noticed. Here’s how:

  • Build a blog with a memorable design. Choose your style and colors, and be consistent with it.
  • Be creative with your content formatting but make sure they’re easy on the eyes.
  • Use unique and captivating images. If you use stock photos, at least make an effort to spruce them up.
  • Be passionate about your subject. Be specific. Be personal. Share examples, your experiences or your own story.
  • Offer something fresh. Don’t just post what everyone else is posting.

Create a great impact and make people say, “Oh, I have to bookmark this blog!”

Adrienne Smith – AdrienneSmith.net

Adrienne SmithMy best piece of advice that has worked extremely well for me is to leave genuine, thoughtful and helpful comments on other people’s posts.

Trust me when I say they’ll notice you.

I know people say this all the time to not get in a hurry and leave short comments but to actually take the time to read their posts and leave a very well thought out comment. They give that advice for a reason.

It’s the best way to get noticed by others and then of course be sure to share their posts on the social media sites. I’ve had more people approach me because they have read my comments and were very impressed that I really took the time to leave good ones on every post I visit.

I still believe commenting is a great way to build relationships with other bloggers and I’ve had a lot of success with that.

Niall Devitt – Tweak Your Biz

Niall DevittThat’s a great question – however I don’t believe there are any silver bullets.

For me, it all comes down to being consistent, growing your online presence takes time, patience and lots of hard work. Figure out your niche, create and promote great content, identify influencers and build your network. Learn and repeat.

From what I’ve seen, many give up before they get there, while a few stick at it long enough to ultimately learn how to really stand out.

Aaron Lee – Post Planner

Aaron LeeOne of the most important pieces of advice I can give someone about growing their online presence or simply stand out is to choose a niche or topic that they simply LOVE and is timeless. They should treat blogging like a serious business instead of a ‘money magnet’.

Many times, people start a blog because it’s a ‘good market’ and while building the blog, they feel burned out because they simply don’t have the passion and the drive to write for that topic.

Blogging is a career and if you want to stand out, it has to be something that you love writing and love to share. That is how you can truly stand out and most important be yourself.

Gini Dietrich – Spin Sucks

Gini DietrichThere is a big debate about shutting down blog comments. Copyblogger did it. Mitch Joel did it. Jay Baer is considering it. The common thing, you’ll notice, is they are all well-established bloggers with lots of readers and subscribers.

When you begin, though, no one knows about you, which makes a community extremely important. Not only will a community read and share your content, they’ll help you grow your network. To do that, you want to respond to people when they do comment on your blog. You want to find other bloggers with like-minded content and go comment on and share their content. Write guest posts for blogs that have a similar audience to the one you want to grow.

All of these things take time, resources, and a little elbow grease. But building a community will be one of the most important things you do to grow your online presence. You’ll obtain new social media followers, you’ll discover new thinking, and you’ll grow your readers and subscribers.

Ron Sela – PageWiz and RonSela.com

Ron SelaIn order to stand out online, having a constant presence on it is a must. And the perfect way to start-off your journey to success is by building friendships with individuals who love writing as much as you do: bloggers.

Identifying and outreaching prominent bloggers in their niche, and regularly posting comments on their websites, can help you out tremendously. After a while of them constantly reading your comments and you analyzing the type of content they usually post, you can reach out to those bloggers and show them your content and invite them to post it in their online channels.

Bloggers are great influencers that every writer should try to obtain. Once they read your work and like it, you’ll more than likely be contacted often by them to write more blog content, which will be of great benefit for you. Once you have that constant Internet presence, you’ll stand-out and make a name for yourself!

Don’t ever forget about your friends once you start working with well-known individuals, as your pals will always be the ones by your side not matter what (even if you write a mediocre article). They’ll always support you and assist you in spreading your message!

Lisa Irby – 2CreateAWebsite.com

Lisa IrbyBe authentic, and not just with your triumphs, your failures too.

People just want to know there’s a human behind the site.

The more transparent you are, the more your audience will connect with you.  The Web is not just about websites with content, but the personality of the people connected to them.

Peg FitzpatrickPegFitzpatrick.com

Peg FitzpatrickI think many bloggers hit publish and wait for traffic to magically appear. This isn’t going to happen.

You need to actively promote your content via social networks and being active on social media. Social media + blogging + working hard = the “magic” to blog traffic.

Denise Wakeman – Adventures In Visibility

Denise WakemanTo accelerate visibility for your blog, start a Hangout on Air show around the topic of your business blog.

Doing a live video show is the fastest way to get seen, be heard, build trust and connect with your ideal blog readers.

Focus on your primary topic and invite guest experts who complement your expertise.

You will set yourself apart fast by adding a playlist of your videos on YouTube and repurposing the audio on a site like SoundCloud and iTunes. Always include a call to action for your audience to subscribe to get blog updates at the beginning and end of your show.

Mike Allton – The Social Media Hat

Mike AlltonMy single best advice to new bloggers who want to succeed would be to become regular readers of as many other bloggers in their space as they can, and look for opportunities to create genuine relationships with those writers.

These are the people whom you can learn from, who will be providing valuable information that you can then share to your own growing follower base, and whom it will mean the world to you when they notice you and begin to share some of your content out to their followers.

Michael Juba – EZ Solution

Michael JubaIf I could only give one piece of advice to a blogger trying to go big and get out there it would be to make something freaking awesome that answers a question in your industry, or that people in your niche are searching for.

This gives you trust and authority and they will surely follow you the next time they are looking for information in your industry.

For example, we work with a client who sells arcade games. Not the biggest player out there, just a local guy with a few hundred arcade systems. The other week we created an animated gifographic on the evolution of arcade games and it went pretty big on the first day I put it out there.

It got on the home page of Wired and Make Use Of, among a bunch of gaming sites. So now all of these gamers that had no idea who M&P was now know who they are. Here’s the post on Wired.

Lyuba Ellingson – DefinitiveGuideToPR.com

Lyuba EllingsonDevelop relationships online with people who are already famous with your target demographic but don’t do what you do.

Offer them something very helpful like guest content on a topic their audience is interested in and you are an expert on.

Make sure to provide a lot of value. Go above and beyond. Once the guest post goes live, be sure to thank your new acquaintance for the opportunity and express interest in doing more.

There is no better and quicker way to stand out online than to be promoted with someone with influence.

Walter Blake Knoblock – WalterBlakeKnoblock.com

Walter Blake KnoblockI’ve got over 100k followers, most of them on twitter, and I think a large reason for that is engagement, but everybody says that and, of course, if you engage with your followers and say smart stuff it will work. But, beyond that, I make sure that whenever I do something noteworthy, speaking at a college, publishing a new book, etc…, I put out the word to everybody I know.

A good PR list is gold.

Vincent Ng – MCNG Marketing

Vincent NgYou can find some great success in growing your online presence and blog with Pinterest when you create an amazing feature visual with a great headline in it, similar to a magazine cover.

By producing featured visuals that are beautiful and “pinnable” on your blog you can receive hundreds, and even thousands of more shares. But you have to create something that pinners on Pinterest can pin.

The main challenge that some blogs don’t incorporate a Pin it button on their website to help encourage the spread of their blog content on Pinterest, even though it may have a great feature visual. Pinterest isn’t just a visual tool for sharing, many marketers and bloggers also use it as a book marking tool so that they can reference and read the material later on.

I wrote a piece about how to search optimize your pins on Pinterest. People find it on my blog, and then pin it and then later on, other people repin it, and somehow it resurfaces again on another pinner’s account weeks later.

The interesting thing is that a pin has a half-life that’s thousands of times longer than a Facebook status or tweet, according to Venturebeat.

By being able to put a pin it button, and create an amazing visual that’s relevant to my specific audience, which is marketers and small businesses, my pin that promotes Pinterest search optimization has been repinned over 450 times.

This is the power of Pinterest for helping you grow your online presence.

Iman Jalali – ImanJalali.com

Iman JalaliGet involved. Join conversations, start conversations.

Growing your online presence requires you to not only put out great content, but to also connect and engage post publish. Joining the community establishes influence and credibility, key to growing your online presence.

John Lee Dumas – Entrepreneur On Fire

John Lee DumasBeing a Podcaster, I figured I would give you an audio response…enjoy :-)

 

00:00
00:00

 

Link to Vocaroo: http://vocaroo.com/

Larry Kim – WordStream

Larry KimTry enlisting the help of other influential folks.

There’s a few ways to do this. For example, you can take an interest in their content by commenting and reposting the content that they share, and even try meeting them in real life at industry conferences.

Another approach is to create amazing content that will get the attention of influencers, since they’re always on the lookout for awesome stuff to share with their audiences.

Devesh Sharma – WP Kube

Devesh SharmaConnect with other bloggers in your niche.

If you want to grow your online presence, than you need to start building connections with other bloggers in your niche. This is how I built relationship with Adam Connell; I first dropped him an email and asked if he could link to one of my blog posts in his next weekly roundup. He not only linked to my post but also did a few guest posts.

Since then he has featured me on his blog quite a few times (Thanks Adam).

Ryan Hanley – RyanHanley.com

Ryan HanleyThe trick to growing your audience online is actually counterintuitive from what you might expect.

The commonly slung around tricks, tactics and strategies which prey on the law of large numbers are yielding lower and lower returns.

Today’s Connected Generation consumer wants a human relationship with the brands they do business with and relationships start with trust.

My one piece of advice to bloggers looking to grow their online presence is value the trust built between you and your audience above all else.

No matter what industry, topic, niche blog about, focus on authenticity, transparency and honesty.

All of which lead to trust.

Kevin Muldoon – KevinMuldoon.com

Kevin MuldoonThis may come across as being a little cheesy, but I think the best advice I can give to any aspiring blogger is to Be Yourself.

I see many bloggers saying something is amazing just to get an affiliate commission, whether they have used it or not. I also see many people simply mimicking others because they feel that it will get them readers.

If you want to set yourself apart from the crowd, be yourself. If you do not like something, say so. If you love something even when everyone else hates it, do not be afraid to say you love it and explain why.

At the end of the day, you want to have a unique voice and not follow the herd in order to be accepted. Some people will love you for it, some people will hate you for it, though at least you will be unique.

Blogging is something you should be passionate about. That is why I encourage all bloggers to speak up and share their opinion rather than conforming to the opinions of others because they feel they should.

Over to you

I’d like to say a huge thank you for all of the experts above that took the time to take part.

Now, I’d love to hear from you. For more visit; http://www.bloggingwizard.com

Do you have any insights of your own to share?

 

graphic designing, Uncategorized, web designing

Top 10 Mistakes in Starting an Online Business

Here are the Top 10 biggest mistakes made when starting an online business:

1. Waiting too long to launch a product/service

When you start blogging or podcasting to build an audience, it’s easy to get stuck on the content “hamster wheel” for months or years without ever offering something for sale.

There are a few reasons this happens.

Some people are waiting for some magic audience size “1,000 subscribers” or maybe “10,000 visitors” or whatever your number might be.

Some people just can’t find the time to blog or podcast or make videos AND to build a product at the same time. It’s tough.

Some people simply talk themselves out of creating a product because they’re afraid no one will buy it. They don’t want to fail after putting in so much time creating content.

Whatever the reason, this is a fatal trap. If you’re building a business, you need to address the biggest risk head-on. The biggest risk you’ll face as a business is in creating something no one will pay for.

Plus, you need practice at building and launching products. Your first one might not be all that good. The sooner you put something out there, the closer you get to sustainable revenue.


2. Solving an unimportant problem

If the problem your business solves is important enough, you won’t even have to look for customers. Imagine if you had a cure for cancer, for example.

Businesses fail all the time because they try to solve a problem nobody really cares about. If you put your product or idea out there and nobody buys it, there’s a good chance you should look for a more important problem, not a bigger audience.


3. Not really listening to customers

How do you know if the problem you solve is important enough?

Listen to your customers. Really listen to them.

Don’t just listen to the customers who provide validation. Listen to the ones who ask for refunds or buy your product but don’t use it. Listen to the people who tell you they won’t buy, and find out why.

Don’t just pay lip service to your customers. You don’t have all the answers, they do. There’s a reason why “the customer is always right,” because without customers you don’t have a business.


4. Not being different

In most markets, customers have different options to choose from. If your business has competition, you have to give your potential customers a reason to choose your offering over another.

I see this all the time with new bloggers. They jump into a popular topic and essentially mimic or copy what other popular bloggers are already doing. I suppose they think “if it works for them, maybe it will work for me.”

But think about it from the reader or customer perspective. If they find your blog, they’ll be asking themselves “why is this blog worth spending any time on?” You have to answer that question quickly and clearly, before they click the back button.

You can’t expect to grow an audience by being an inferior version of some other better known site. Even if your site or product is arguably better than the competition, “better” is subjective.

Instead of simply trying to be better, you need to be different. Then, when someone asks why your site or product is worth her attention, your answer will be objective and easy to understand.


5. Choosing a topic you don’t care about

Whatever you choose to focus your business on, you’re going to need deep subject knowledge, fresh creativity, and unwavering stamina.

There will be competition who cares more about the topic than you do. How can you compete if the gap between your love of a topic and your competitors’ is wide?

This doesn’t mean your business has to be your #1 “passion” or life’s work (most of us don’t have one single passion in life), but don’t make things impossible by choosing something you don’t care about.

If you love your topic, stamina won’t be an issue. If you love your topic, creativity will flow, and influence will be easier to build.

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. -Howard Thurman


6. Starting with vastly wrong expectations

This won’t be easy, and it won’t be quick.

Building a successful business is a massive undertaking. You probably can’t do it while traveling the world. If you have a full-time job, it will be much, much harder.

If your plan involves four-hour workweeks, or if your timeline is measured in weeks or months, you will probably fail.

These are the hard truths that people rarely talk about. Overnight successes don’t exist. Your original plan will probably have to be completely re-written, maybe multiple times.

Ask yourself: will building this business still be worth it if it takes years to get there? What if building the business is harder and more stressful than your current job?

Talk to some entrepreneurs who have achieved something close to what you want to achieve. Ask them what it really took. Ask them about stress and timelines and giving up. Ask them not to sugarcoat it. Really listen. Then ask yourself if you’re prepared for your own version of that.


7. Spending too much time thinking and not enough doing

Not much to say here that isn’t perfectly summed up in this quote:

Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.
-Thomas Edison

If your ratio of thinking-to-doing is anything less than 80% doing, think again do more.

As Chase likes to say, entrepreneurs have two modes, CEO mode and worker-bee mode. In a one-person business, you have to be both.


8. Going it alone

The only reason my business exists today is because other entrepreneur friends wouldn’t let me quit. Seriously, I tried to throw in the towel and start over with something else, but they wouldn’t let me. They talked me out of it.

No one can succeed in business alone. You need people to make it work. Your customers are people, your suppliers are people, your service providers are people.

Most importantly, you need support from other entrepreneurs who are at similar stages as you are, and from others with more experience.

The more connected you become with other entrepreneurs, the more normal your quest becomes. You’ll no longer feel crazy or alone, and you’ll realize that we all face obstacles just like you’re facing.

The entrepreneurs who talked me out of quitting were part of a little group that met weekly to hold each other accountable. It didn’t cost any of us a thing, other than an hour of our time each week, but it turned out to be the most valuable resource I ever used in my business.

Reach out to another entrepreneur or two, and ask them to meet weekly. Share your struggles and goals, and review your progress each week. This simple process is so powerful.


9. Confusing “blog” with “business”

Repeat after me: a blog isn’t a business. A blog isn’t a business.

A blog is an incredible platform for sharing your ideas, connecting with people and growing an audience. The same is true of podcasting, YouTubing, or any other place you might publish content for free.

Giving away free content isn’t a business. It’s a tool for building influence. Don’t count on turning that influence into sponsorships or advertising dollars. You’ll need a more direct plan for earning an income if you want your blog or podcast to pay off.

See point #1 above about launching a product/service.


10. What would you add to this list?

This is my list, from what I hear and see in the entrepreneurial world.

Is your list different?

What things do you wish you had done differently?

What mistakes do you see new entrepreneurs making?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below. You might just help someone avoid a big mistake. If you think this list is helpful, please pass it along!