Free Blogs vs Self Hosted Blog

There are so many things to think about when starting a new blog and what you choose really probably depends on who you last talked to. If a friend recommended to you that you should start a free blog on Blogger.com, then that is probably what you will end up doing. But hold on a second, if you plan on really working on this new blog of yours and you truly believe that it could be something special, then you owe it to yourself (and your blog) to look at all your options and see what really will be the best solution for you.

I’m going to explain to you the difference between free blogging platforms versus self-hosted (or paid) blogging platforms, pros and cons of each, growth potential and finally ease. So let’s take a look.

What Is A Free Blog?

A free blog or blogging platform is blogging software that is hosted, run and managed by a business (such as Google), usually for profit on their end. Free blogs are incredibly easy to set up. They usually involve signing up with a sign-up form, choosing a basic template, choosing an URL, uploading a couple of pictures and begin typing. The company that provides the blog free of charge to you typically makes their money by placing an ad at the end of every one of your posts. These ads usually aren’t too intrusive and are a more than fair trade-off.

Most free blogging platforms offer paid upgrades to eliminate ads on your site. They also offer a slew of other upgrades such as premium themes (the look of your website), custom URLs (from yoursite.blogspot.com to www.yoursite.com) and more.

What free blogs typically lack is the ability to customize to your heart’s desire. They usually offer an amount of customization but it is limited. Also, once you start paying for multiple upgrades the free blogs can end up costing more than a self-hosted blog. These blogs also lack the functionality that a self-hosted blog can provide.

Pros

  • Free (at least for basic blogs).
  • Easy to use.
  • Quick to set up.
  • Require little maintenance.

Cons

  • Limited customization.
  • Ads on your site.
  • Limited functionality.
  • Limited growth potential.

The Most Popular Free Blogging Platforms

WordPress.com

WordPress.com is truly the king when it comes to blogging. They’ve got it figured out like no one else. This is a great place to start your first blogging project. At WordPress.com you can purchase your own custom domain name for $13 per year as well as premium templates and more. They also offer a ton of great add-ons. WordPress.com is perfect for any personal blogger or anyone blogging as a hobby.

Blogger

Blogger is a free blogging platform owned by Google. Blogger is very easy to use, especially if you already use other Google tools such as Gmail and Youtube. You will use your same user and password for these other Google services. Blogger is also incredibly reliable and almost un-hackable.

Tumblr

Tumblr is a microblogging platform, in my opinion, I would call it a cross between Twitter and a normal blog. It is great for individuals who want to share tidbits, photos, and other fun stuff.

What Is A Self Hosted Blog?

When referring to a self-hosted blog, this means to purchase web hosting space at a hosting provider such as BlueHost and run your own blogging software such as WordPress (not their hosted service, but software). Typically hosting starts at roughly $4-5 per month and set up is not much more complicated than free hosting.

Pros vs Cons of Self Hosting

A self-hosted WordPress blog provides many benefits over any free blogging service such as:

  • Use any of thousands of free themes.
  • Purchase any of thousands of premium themes that offer incredible amounts of functionality.
  • Ability to create your own personal theme.
  • Choose from thousands of free and premium plugins to add functionality to your website.
  • Get your own custom email such as admin@webeezhive.com.
  • Ability to grow with your blog and handle any amount of traffic and customization.

Cons

  • Not free. Higher cost than free blogs.
  • Requires a bit more technical knowledge and maintenance than free blogs (although still very easy).

Our Recommendation

Personally, I believe that if you have never blogged before and are unfamiliar with any of the blogging platforms mentioned above, WordPress.com is a great solution to start with. It is absolutely necessary to purchase your own domain name though. This will ensure that you own your own address instead of using WordPress’s. They also make it easy for you to transfer your blog over to your own server if you ever feel the need to.

But, if you can handle it, starting with your own self-hosted WordPress install is easily your best choice. The pros are just too many and the ability to grow and own your site 100% is worth the little extra effort.

Need A Host?

I host all of my websites (over 20 now!) with BlueHost hosting company. They are a business class hosting provider and they make everything incredibly easy as well as provide awesome support (live online chat or on the phone). InMotion offers one-click installs of WordPress, start at just $5.99/month and are incredibly reliable.

Read more: An Intro To WordPress Themes

An Intro To WordPress Themes

If you are just starting out using WordPress, the idea of themes and the plethora of themes available can be quite overwhelming. If you Google “WordPress Themes” you will get an endless string of results from large theme sellers, to blogs that try to be useful by listing endless themes with an affiliate link and more. Sorting your way through this madness is what I aim to help you with here today!

What Is A Theme

First off, let’s start at the beginning. A WordPress theme is a set of files that determine how your installation of WordPress looks, functions and interacts with your visitors. Themes can be very simple and change only the fonts, colors, and make a few layout adjustments or they can be incredibly complex and add a large amount of functionality, features, and interaction to your WordPress install.

All themes though, are files put on top of your WordPress installation, they do not replace it. At its core, WordPress is a program that interacts with a database to store and retrieve data, a theme merely changes what your visitors see (and can add more database interaction).

This is one of the key features of WordPress that make it so attractive. I have explained WordPress themes in the past as a set of clothes. The clothes can change your appearance, add functionality (such as a tool belt) and be changed all without affecting the actual person.

Types Of Themes

WordPress themes can be categorized in a couple of different ways. The two main ways to categorize them are by their functionality and their availability. By availability I mean whether they free, paid or custom-built by a developer. By functionality – are they made for a band, realtor, service business, blogger and so on. I won’t be discussing the functionality of themes specifically here, as that is far too big of a topic.

Theme Availability

Free Themes

Free themes are themes available online that anyone can download and use with their website. You can find these themes just about anywhere. They are typically rather basic and do not offer extended functionality of WordPress.

For many people, picking a free WordPress theme is a great way to get started. You don’t know if you will love blogging, so keeping your costs down is a good idea. You can always install a new theme at a later time.

Free themes have pros and cons that both need to be examined.

Cons:

  • A free theme typically offers little if any support by its author, which should be expected. So any issues you have, you will have to deal with.
  • Free themes can be dangerous. If you use a free theme you need to make sure it is from a reputable source, don’t trust any free theme you find. WordPress.org is a great place to download trusted themes.
  • Free themes offer little functionality. In my experience, most free themes are relatively basic. They offer different looks to WordPress’ functionality and that is about it.
  • Free themes are used by many people, your site won’t be unique.

Pros:

  • They are Free!

Premium Themes

Premium Themes are usually a step up from free themes. These are usually the themes sold by companies that only make WordPress themes. On average (I’m not saying always!) these companies are able to put in more time, effort and offer more support on a premium theme since they are being paid for the theme. These themes typically cost anywhere from $25 – $199 for a single site license (meaning you can use the theme on one site).

Premium themes can offer all kinds of functionality, wonderful design, beautiful code and more. Often times you can get a premium theme that is every bit as good as a custom theme. Be careful though, just because you are paying for a theme does not mean the theme is good. There are many bad premium themes out there and bad companies that do not support their themes well.

One of the big selling points of premium themes is also one of their biggest issues. Premium themes often offer too many features and thus become bloated themes that are not exceptionally fast. If a theme maker wants to sell many copies of their theme, they need to make it appeal to a wide audience, so they put in as many features, short codes and options as possible. This can bloat the theme making it slower and also complicate the setup of the theme making it hard to use.

Pros:

  • Typically offer better designs.
  • Offer more functionality.
  • Offer better support from their maker.
  • Allow for easier customization.

Cons:

  • Your theme is still not unique. 100′s or even 1,000′s of other site may be using the same theme.
  • Just because you paid for it does not guarantee it is well-built.
  • Can be bloated and slow.
  • If you choose to go with a premium theme, find a reputable seller, check the themes feedback, read reviews and try to find a theme that offers very close to the functionality that you are looking for.</em

Personally, I typically recommend that bloggers and very small business go with a premium theme. If needed you can hire a developer to help customize the theme and get close to what you are looking for.

Custom Themes

Custom themes are when you hire a designer and/or a developer to make a custom WordPress theme just for you. This way is definitely the most expensive, but you will have a 100% custom website that no one else has.

I can’t speak for everyone (but this is how many work), but when I work with a client to make a custom theme we sit down and discuss the exact needs of their business. This includes what do they want to accomplish with their website, how do they plan on marketing, what (if any) social media will they be using, how often will they be updating and how tech savvy are they?

A custom-built site will have a solution built exactly for your needs that integrates with your business and with whoever will be running it. But not having extra functionality that is not needed and built 100% for the client, they end up with a lightning fast website and a look all their own.

Pros:

  • 100% custom site, no one else has it.
  • 100% custom-built to fit you and your needs.
  • Typically very fast, no bloat!!

Cons:

  • Much more expensive. Speaking just for me, sites typically cost $750-$3,000.
  • One note here about custom sites. I say they are “typically” faster and “typically” built better with clean code, but this is not always true. I have seen many people with “custom” built sites that are quite terrible. So the truth is, do your homework and check out who you’re working with, or you may get hosed!

Read More: How to Choose The Right Template For Your Blog?

How to Choose The Right Template For Your Blog?

Right template can play a great role in the success of your blog. It does affect your traffic, your reader, SEO and much more. There are few different points that you need to consider when choosing a template but honestly, the biggest problem that site owners face is the inability to choose! Below are a few tips to help you choose the perfect template for your blog or website and hopefully it will be one that will work for years to come.

1. Design

A good design is a mode of attracting your readers to come to your site again. It’s like having a warm inviting home (with a good couch). If your home is messy and uninviting to the guest, they won’t want to visit you again. If your design is good and is easy to navigate, then users will want to come back to your site (we’re not taking into account content right now, which definitely plays an even bigger role). Beyond being inviting and easy to navigate, design really depends on your needs. There are many kinds of styles to choose from, like the magazine/news style, a product showcase design, a one-pager or a great business layout. If your site is a significant part of your business by either selling products, generating revenue or creating leads, think about hiring out a custom design that perfectly meets your needs.

2. Speed

Speed matters… A lot… Your visitor has no patience when it comes to internet browsing. If your website is too slow (like 5 seconds or more!), they will be gone before they arrive. If you pay attention to phone or computer ads, what are they always trying to convince you of? They are the fastest around (new faster processors). So be sure to choose a template with good speed. If you don’t people will leave your website even if you have good content. Speed also plays an important role in the SEO. Google knows how important site speed is and they put a high level of importance on your site speed. A good way to test your site’s speed is to run the demo through Google’s site speed test, no, it’s not perfect, but it’s a start.

3. Responsive or Not

Today, a responsive design is really the only way to go as nearly 40% of all web traffic is mobile. Like we said before, online guests want their information fast (and easily accessed). If your site is hard to view on a mobile device, they will leave immediately. Creating a separate mobile site is no longer the preferred method, if your template isn’t responsive, look for a new one.

4. Fonts

Most people ignore fonts, but fonts are really important in order to have an attractive and easy to navigate website. Font’s are an art form in and of themselves, they really cannot be overlooked. A good place to look for and find fonts for your website are at Google Fonts. Also, here are a few highly recommended font combinations that you can find at Google Fonts.

  • Roboto & Roboto Slab
  • Raleway and Merriweather
  • Lustria and Lato
  • Ubuntu and Lora
  • Quattrocento and Quattrocento Sans

It’s Up To You

We have provided just a starting point, now it’s totally up to you which kind of template you want and which is best suited to your blog. The best way to start is to determine what your needs are and then to find templates that can best fulfill your and your blog needs. Look at many different templates before choosing yours, look at the premium ones, free and even contact a designer if you decide that custom may be a good choice.

Why Your Visitors Won’t Come Back To Your Blog

There are an immense amount of blogs on the internet as well as an immense amount of bloggers. Some blogs are written to teach and inform, some are to entertain and some are built to gain fame and fortune for their owners. But it takes an incredible amount of time and effort to build up a blog that has a powerful following and get your content in front of thousands of readers. One of the keys to a successful blog is return visitors.

If visitors aren’t coming back, then your blog is going to have issues growing beyond a small amount of traffic. Return visitors are the lifeblood of a great blog. Could you potentially be sabotaging the chances of your blog at success by keeping visitors from coming back? Here are a few things that may prevent the coveted “repeat visitor”.

Bad Blog Design

Your blog design is the first thing a visitor sees when they come to your site, this is really no different from walking into a house or business, they need to feel welcomed immediately. You don’t want a design that is too complicated. A complicated design will slow down your site and cause confusion for your readers.

Simple is often better in blog design. Yes, you do want your blog to be memorable for your readers, but not at the sake of chaos. A simple design with good fonts, great colors and incredible content is going to be your best bet.

Lots of Ads with Little Information

I’m sure you’ve all visited those blog with multiple sidebars that are completely filled up with Google ads and affiliate ads. Yes, bloggers can make money and by all means, they should. Ads are a good thing, they help promote products and services and help make the site owner money. But when a site feels like more attention was paid to the ads than to the content, you’ve got an issue. Readers are not ignorant, they know a junk blog when they see one. Don’t make the mistake of overloading your blog with ads and garbage in your sidebars, this will drive your readers away in droves.

Writing Not be Good (see what I did there?)

Got to admit something here… I’ve seen some writers every now and then that were absolutely terrible. I MEAN TERRIBLE! These posts are in the process of being deleted or re-written.

If your writing is full of poorly structured sentences, reads like a robot wrote it or has incredibly bad grammar then you need to rethink your choice of a hobby or career. A few grammar mistakes are completely acceptable in a blog. I have had readers point out a comma or typo in a post and honestly, I don’t care, one or two is no big deal, but 20-30… YIKES!

Not Respecting Your Readers

Many bloggers are great at respecting their readers, making them feel like part of the community and getting them to engage in the community. But treating your readers as if they are dumb, responding harshly to criticism or just never responding to comments shows your readers you don’t respect their time and opinions.

The easiest way to really respect your readers is to one respond and engage them in comments and social media. Really, respond to every comment. You should have a notification system set up so that you can respond to comments quickly.

Being Dishonest

Wow is this one dangerous. You see this blowing up in reporters, politicians and athletes face all the time. Don’t make up stories, don’t plagiarize and don’t lie to readers about how you’re doing. Like above, I told you, anyone can suffer from poor writing. If you look around on here, you may find a few posts that need help (to say the least). I have talked with bloggers who love to tell me that they have xx,xxx number of readers, making thousands of dollars and couldn’t be happier, only to later find out that their visitors are less than half of what they like to tell people. They haven’t figured out monetization in the slightest and they are almost broke. At that point, do I want to help them? No! They’ve been lying to me and lost me as a reader.

These have been just a few of the reasons. Do you have any more suggestions? I’d love to hear them below!

How To Generate More Leads From Your Website

For many small businesses, especially service-based businesses, generating leads from their website is their one and only online goal. The problem is that many marketers fail to realize this and are disconnected from small business goals. This means that it is often left up to the business themselves to figure out how to generate leads from their site. With the troves of information available, along with conflicting strategies, ideas and goals, it can be nearly impossible to sort through and develop an effective lead generation strategy.

For this article I am going to be using examples of two painting companies.

Develop A Tiered Content Strategy

One of the beautiful things about online marketing is that there is no limit to the amount of content you can create within your site and entry points you can create to your site. The idea with a tiered content strategy is to develop broad pages about each of your service. Then continually add more content until you have very narrow focused content.

Broad Level Pages

For our painting company example, these pages are about their broad range of services such as interior painting, exterior painting, residential painting and commercial painting. For each one of these broad level services we write great content explaining what the service is, what problems it solves, how it benefits the customer and finally how to get ahold of the business.

Mid Level Content

Mid level content is when we break down everything the company offers into individual services. For a painting company the pages are often as follows: Interior Wall Painting, Wallpaper Hanging, Painting Kitchen Cabinets, Exterior Cedar Staining, Garage Painting and so on. Cities and areas that you offer your services can also be mid level content pages.

As you can see, the pages have become more specific about the exact services that the company offers. When working in WordPress, both broad level and mid level pages are usually created as pages, not posts. Once mid level pages have been created, I often go back into the broad level pages and include links to the mid level pages and vice versa.

Narrow Content

Narrow content is when we break down the services into individual projects, how to’s, tips and more. It is often created as blog posts on our projects and includes posts such as: How to Refinish Your Kitchen Cabinets, The Fastest Way To Remove Wallpaper, Which Exterior Paint Is Best and so on. These can also include portfolio style pieces showing off your work.

Every piece of narrow content should always link back to mid level or broad level content. If I write a post on “How To Paint Kitchen Cabinets”, I will make sure to link back to the mid level content “Kitchen Cabinet Painting”. It describes a service and Interior Painting which shows what else the company does.

Geo-Target All Of Your Content

Geo-Targeting your content is as simple as making sure to mention specific areas where you offer your services in all of your content. If you are a painting company in the Minneapolis, MN area you need to make sure that you mention Minneapolis and/or Minnesota in every page or post.

Make Contact As Easy As Possible

This is one of the easiest and dumbest mistakes many website owners make. Offering just a contact form or just a phone number is not good enough. Some people don’t want to talk on the phone while others only want to talk on the phone.

You also need to make sure that there is a contact form and phone number at eye level on every single page and post within your website. Only having a “contact” link to your contact page in your top navigation means that you are missing out on leads. Today’s internet users want what they are looking for immediately. If you make it hard in any way, they will leave.

If you use sidebars in your website, make sure to have a contact form at the top of your sidebar. Also, including a small contact form at the end of your content is also a great idea. I have actually replaced all comment forms in some of my clients blogs with contact forms to great success.

Ask The Visitor To Contact You

This is one of the oldest rules in sales, if you want the sale you need to directly ask for the sale. The same holds true in online marketing. If you want the visitor to contact you, make sure to ask them to contact you. Don’t be happy with a contact form on to the side of your content, in your content tell your reader to contact you and tell them to do it now. A simple “For a fresh look in your home, Contact Homefront Painting Today” can actually increase your leads significantly.

Design Is Secondary

This is a problem that really gets under my skin. I have seen web design companies absolutely destroy any chances for success with many of the small business they work with by putting all of their focus and effort into their website design. They do this by convincing the business to invest all of their money into their new website. When they are done, the small business has spent $3,000 – $10,000 on an amazing looking website.

The problem now is that they have no money left over to market the website. They have the best looking website that nobody sees.

If you have a small budget, say $3,000 for example, for your total online investment, DO NOT invest $3,000 into a new website. Find a freelancer to build you a nice site for $1,000. Or even hire someone to set up your site using a premium theme. Infact, you could most likely do this for well under $1,000. Then use your remaining $2,000 to hire top quality copywriters and marketers for your site.

I’m going to share something with you. This painter site is using an old theme from Studio Press (I can’t stand the theme, it is so out of date). But they invest in weekly blogging, quality written content and a good marketing strategy. They typically see between 15-30 leads a month for a small 3 man painting company. This website completely runs their business. With their small budget would it be better to spend $5,000 on an amazing new site? Or $500 a month on a great marketing strategy?

Create A Sense Of Trust With Your Visitors

While design shouldn’t be #1, you need to make sure that your website convinces your visitors that they can trust you. You can do this a few different ways. Firstly, by utilizing a quality design that is up to date and professional looking. It doesn’t have to be amazing, just professional. Second, testimonials are worth their weight in gold. Don’t try to write fake testimonials, a visitor with half a brain can sniff out fake testimonials a mile away. Last, in depth, smart content shows your customers that you know what you are talking about and builds you up as an expert in their mind. If they see you as a trustworthy expert, you just turned them from a cold lead into a warm lead.

Develop Complimentary Content

Complimentary content is a supplement to your website. Complimentary content is things such as youtube videos, social media and guest posting. For the painting companies we market for, we like to use Youtube to create supplementary content. For example, we wrote a truly epic 2,000 word post on how to paint your kitchen cabinets complete with a list of items to purchase and many great photos. We then created a 9 minute Youtube video to go along with it. The Youtube video now has over 64,000 views! It has been huge at generating new leads and building trust for the company. They often hear from clients how they watched the video and ended up deciding it looked too much work. Meanwhile, they looked like the perfect company.

A word of caution about complementary content. It can be very easy to become distracted by social media and start believing that it is where you should be spending most of your time. It isn’t. 80% of your time needs to be spent on your website. Why? Because you own your website, it is built by you and for you, it is what ultimately turns visitors into leads. Also, don’t fall for the thinking that you need to be involved in every social site every made. Choose 1 or two and keep your efforts focused.

Hopefully, with these tips, you can give your website a shot of adrenaline and get the leads flowing in. If you’d like help getting your service website generating leads for your business, feel free to contact us.

10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Blog Immediately

My guess is that you would love to see your blog grow but you only have a limited amount of time that you can really invest into improve your blog. So how is that time best spent then? Here are a few easy ideas that any blogger can start using right away to grow their blog traffic.

Clean Your Blog

This is something I see all the time. Blogs with thousands of pending spam comments, 100′s of drafts either waiting to be written or half written and the worst… 40 different plugins, half of which are no longer even relevant. All of this garbage can be slowing down your site and hurting your rankings. It also makes your site fell messy and cluttered when working on it, which in turn, discourages you from working more often on improving your blog.

Perform An SEO Audit

This may sounds way too complicated or way too daunting to many bloggers but this is something that needs to be done. I’m planning a more in depth post on this next week, but for now, an SEO audit doesn’t have to be complicated (though it can be tedious).

Here is a simple process for you. First,install a great SEO plugin if you don’t already have one. Next break down your past year of blogging by month and start with January. Open every single post from January and check through this list:

1. Make sure all images have title, alt and description tags.
2. Make sure your blog titles are catchy and have at least one good keyword.
3. DO NOT change your URL’s. They shouldn’t have stop words in them, but pay attention and do better in the future.
4. Tag your posts with your most relevant keywords.
5. Make sure the post is in the proper category.
6. Check that your post has a catchy meta title and great meta description.

This is a very basic audit and takes about 2-3 minutes per post. Do It!

Increase Your Site Speed

I recently purchase a video game blog since I have always wanted to run a video game blog. When I first started cleaning up the blog, the page load speed varied between 10 seconds and 30! It had so many terrible plugins, was on a terrible server and had no cache to speak of.

Start by cleaning out unnecessary and slow plugins. Next, make sure you use a fast reliable server, if your traffic is big enough, think about purchasing a Virtual Private Server or using CDN (Content Delivery Network). Last install a great cache plugin like W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache.

Check For Bad Links

Great time to mention the video game blog again. This blog, in it’s hayday, was averaging between 6,000-9,000 page views a day. Thats pretty darn good, roughly 225,000 month. Then the site was taken over by someone who did not know what they were doing and they started accepting paid posts, many of which linked to casino sites. Google frowns upon paid posts, which really is the kind way of saying paid links. But, good news, delete those bad and Google will be happy to show you love once again. Go through your site and look for any low quality irrelevant links and delete them right away.

Include More Pictures and Visuals

My wife and I have a way to test out if one of our blog posts is done well. We call it the one minute post test. We see if we can understand and enjoy one another’s posts in 1 minute or less. After one minutes (or less) the person who didn’t write the post has to tell the other what the post was about and if they enjoyed it. If the post is filled with long text paragraphs, then we will fail. But if it has large frequent headings, lists and great pictures that effectively tell the story, then it passes the test.

Think about how you read online, do you read all the text or do you scan quickly looking for the information you want?

Increase Social Sharing

It’s 2018 people, this should be common sense by now, but sadly many sites still do not embrace social sharing. Your site needs to make it incredibly easy to share your content because if it’s not, it won’t get shared. Installing an easy sharing plugin such as Digg Digg or Sharebar is really all you need to do.

Don’t Forget StumbleUpon

In the world of social media there are tons of different options to choose from. From Facebook to Twitter, Pinterest, G+, Linkedin and the list goes on and on. Many bloggers (and site owners) forget that StumbleUpon is still a great source for traffic to your blog. There are a few down sides to StumbleUpon traffic though such as that SU users tend to check out your info and move on quickly, but getting a few of them to stick and convert is not impossible. So make sure to include StubleUpon in your social media offerings on your website.

Make Your Posts Pinnable

If you want to take advantage of Pinterest you need to remember that Pinterest is visual. If your post isn’t visual, it’s not Pinterest material. Creating a simple graphic with your title in a creative way can be more than enough many times, you just need to visually represent your blog post.

Create Great Ammunition

I can already hear the groans on this one “That’s Not a Tip” your collectively moaning… 🙂 But if your blog doesn’t sport amazing content, well then, it’s never going to be an amazing blog. In my opinion it is always better to blog less frequently but to produce amazing content rather than blog daily about nothing.

Take a Risk

Write about a topic you’ve been scared to touch either because it’s too risqué or you think it’s too complicated. Buy out a blog that you think has potential, put in the long hours even if you have no idea if you will ever see a return on your improved blog. Without taking a chance you will never experience success.

Hire a Great Writer

This one definitely needs to be explained in further detail. I personally own and run 18 blogs / websites. Some of them, like the WebeezHive, I love writing for, some others I would love to write more for, but I am no brewmaster. So how do I keep so many blogs running and growing? I have a collection of great writers that help me out. My writers are not cheap, I pay them a lot and I expect a lot.

Many of my blogs I hire out weekly writing. I consider this to be a bare minimum to maintain the blog. This then allows me to jump in and write when I have time and am feeling inspired. So some weeks will only have 1 post, while others may have 2 or even 3.

In Conclusion

At the end of the day, the best way to truly grow your blog to new heights is a very boring answer: work harder. Honestly. I’m currently going on hour 12 investing into my blogs today, blogging can be hard work, but it also can be very rewarding.

What Should You Blog About?

Usually when someone decides to start their first blog it’s because inspiration has just hit or they are truly passionate about a topic. Many times though, someone decides that they want to start a blog but they’re not quite sure what type of blog it should exactly be. Here are a few things to think about when deciding to start your first blog.

What Are You Passionate About?

Did you know that less that 5 percent of blogs actually succeed past their first year? This means that 95% of blogs are abandoned after their first year. No matter what your reason for blogging is, if you aren’t passionate about the topic, your odds for success are incredibly low. The first year of blogging can be full of hard work, lots of learning and little reward, so choosing a topic that you are passionate about is an absolute must.

Now go ahead and brainstorm out a handful of topics that you are passionate about.

Niche Blog Vs. Broad Topic

Did you find a couple of topics that interest you? If you were to search around the internet, you would find that many other blogs suggest that you find a very narrow niche within your topic to be successful. They claim that this will give you higher odds of ranking in that niche and give you more focused content (and this is probably true). This gives you mom blogs that focus on breast feeding, tech blogs dedicated to just tablets or movie blogs only dedicated to horror.

I am going to go against the grain a bit here. Personally I find it very hard to stay passionate about a narrow niche when I write. If your running a tech blog, do you really want to write about one niche part of technology or do you want to explore the vastness that is technology? I’m going to reiterate what I wrote earlier, if you don’t have passion for your topic, your odds of failing are very high. Here at WebeezHive we cover a general topic of internet marketing, this includes blogging, lead generation, website development, web design, tech news and more. I enjoy being able to write about different topics and I believe that it makes this blog more useful. Now, that being said, if you are passionate about breast feeding, then go ahead and create a niche blog about that topic.

What Is The Goal Of Your Blog?

I’m not talking about setting specific goals at this point such as dollar figures and traffic numbers. I’m referring to more general personal goals.

  • Personal Outlet

Is the goal of your blog is to be a personal outlet? Then maybe readership and monetization are not a factor for you. Many blogs are run for purely this reason, these bloggers tend to be more sporadic with their writing depending on the season of life they are currently in. These blogs tend to be more personal and more of a journal style.
Typically these blogs do not generate a large audience unless the writer has another claim to fame.

  • Make Money

Most people start blogs with the goal of making money off their blogs. While difficult, this is very doable with some perseverance. If you want to make money off your blog, then you need to treat it like a business, have a plan and stick to it.

  • To Teach & Inform

Some people just want to help others & keep others informed. Many teaching blogs start out with this goal and eventually add monetization at a later date.

Combining Goals With Passions

In my personal opinion, the blogs that last the longest, have the best content and truly become amazing in their niche are the ones where the authors are passionate about their topic, they make money off their blog and they help to teach or inform a community. A blog in any niche can accomplish these goals.

Achieving your goals is rewarding, that is why it is important to know your goals ahead of time. If you are being fulfilled by your blog in some way, whether it is personal enjoyment, monetization, personal growth or something else, then you will be more likely to continue on and achieve success.

Choosing A Domain Name For your Blog

Choosing a domain name is one of the first steps when starting your first blog. At WebeezHive, we want you and your blog to be successful, so here:

Brief History And Future Outlook of Domains:

A domain name is a unique string identifier that represents a digital piece of property on the internet. Domain names are used to make web addresses more unique and memorable for end users. A domain name has a lot of information associated with. Such as where to locate the files that represent your website (the IP address of your website).

The very first domain name was actually registered in 1985 by a computer systems company called symbolics.com (source Wikipedia). By 1992 there were fewer than 15,000 domain names registered. Fast forward to 2009 and there were over 190 Million registered domain names (probably 50-100 million more by now).

The future of domain names, in my opinion, is that .Com’s will always be the most coveted domain extension and will just continue to be harder and harder to come by. The buying and selling of domain names, while maybe never as crazy as the late 90s, will only continue to rise as quality domain names become more scarce. New domain extensions will not alleviate the issue either as the domains with the most authority will be .Com’s followed by .Net’s.

Do Domain Names Help With SEO?

As far back as 2011 Google’s Matt Cutts was already discussing how Google planned on lowering the importance of keyword rich domains. He advised focussing more on a name that is brandable and memorable such as Twitter, Yahoo, Flippa and other great online brands. Since then, most believe that Google places little to no value to keywords in domains.

This isn’t to say that keyword rich domain names are useless though. Often times a good brandable domain name might also happen to have keywords in it. One thing that I think Matt Cutts fails to realize is that mostly everyone trying to run an online business doesn’t typically have hopes or expectations of being the next Google, Yahoo or even Flippa. They just want to carve out a respectable niche for themselves. For 99% of online businesses, creating a recognizable online brand can be more expensive than they can afford. Also, horribly time-consuming.

In my opinion, while maybe not helping with SEO the way they used to, keywords in your domain are going to help you new visitors know immediately what your site is about. On top, possibly even evoke some trust in them. If they are new, an odd named branded domain will not help them in any way. There is a great case study on Flippa.com about the domain name www.stockphoto.com that I think illustrates my point even further.

So, in my opinion, if you can find a way to combine a brandable name with keywords that explain what your site is about, while still following the other domain name best practices here, you’ve found a win-win situation.

Try To Keep It To As Few Words As Possible

Yes, it is true that finding a one-word domain these days is nearly impossible. Two-word domains are incredibly tough (if not impossible as well). But you don’t, nor shouldn’t, resort to an incredibly long 4-5 word domain.

Think about the last section, are long domain names brandable or are the brandable domain names typically shorter? Look at WebeezHive.com for example, it’s getting a touch long, but still well within my realm of acceptable length.

My suggestion is to try as hard as you can for a two-word domain or a three-word domain with relatively short words. Try to stay away from four or five-word domains. Stick to the advice that shorter is better.

.Com .Net .Biz Or One of The Hundreds Of New Domain Extensions?

If you’ve swung by Godaddy or any of the other registrars before, you’ve probably noticed that they are promoting 100′s of new domains to go along with the old .Com, .Net and so on such as .Photography, .Estate, .Contractors or whatever. You can register the name www.Painter.Contractor if you wanted to. But Should You?

Even with all of the new domains being released, nothing is going to change. .Com’s are still and always will be the top dog as far as authority is concerned. When you are registering your domain, do your absolute best to register a .com. A quality second choice is to register a .Net, but a .net is going to be a bit harder to brand and if you really want people to remember your website, you will have to make sure that the .net is very prominent in all of your marketing. .Com’s are ingrained in people’s heads for all web addresses and that can be hard to change.

Unless you are government (.gov), education (.edu) or a non-profit (.org), then stick to the main two of .com and .net. 99% of internet surfers aren’t even going to be aware that these other domain names exist and they will only serve to confuse them and once accepted, they will be associated with cheaper, less trustworthy sites.

Is There A Chance You May Ever Sell Your Blog?

It can be tempting to brand your blog with a domain name that is personal to you. Maybe it includes your name, a spouse or a reference to your family (all very common in mom blogs). These are all absolutely fine things to do, unless selling may someday be in your future.

An over personalized domain name can make re-branding for a new owner a much more difficult task and thus take away value and sellability (is that a word?) of your blog.

How Long Should Your Register Your Name For?

When you register at any domain registrar, you will notice that they recommend you register your domain as long as possible, and there is a good reason for this. Google sees domains that are registered for shorter periods of time as higher risk domains, they could possibly be spam sites or gone within a few months.

Personally, the way I register domains is I will register them for one year to start with. Sometimes I grab a domain on a whim and think I am going to build the best blog or site ever. However, as time passes, I think of a better domain or I realize I’m just not interested in the topic. If I registered the name for 2-5 years, then I just wasted $25-$75. If within that first year I launch the site, then I go back to my registrar and renew for 2+ years and set to auto-renew.

4 Last Tips

  • Don’t use numbers in your domain name. People don’t know if they should type the digit or spell out the word.
  • Research your chosen domain before purchase – make sure it wasn’t used for any spam or black hat activity in the past.
  • Don’t register a name that is only 1 or 2 letters off from a popular website. It will only confuse.
  • Set your domain to auto-renew!