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“Create evergreen content that will always be relevant,” the experts say.

And so you do.

You think of an idea and spend days writing, tweaking, and perfecting every ageless, enduring syllable.

You’re certain you have a winning post on your hands — the kind of evergreen content that can stand the test of time and be spoken of with reverence years later by adoring fans who name their firstborn after you.

But inevitably, after its initial wave of popularity subsides, your masterpiece disappears into the background as newer and newer posts pop up.

Instead of standing the test of time, your timeless content is forgotten.

And the only adoring fan willing to name their firstborn after you is your spouse.

So, what the heck’s happening?

Are the experts wrong? Is evergreen content overrated?

Well, here’s the thing…

The Painful Truth: Most Content (Even Evergreen Content) Will Fade Into Obscurity Days after Clicking “Publish”

It’s sad but true.

Most content, even when it’s excellent, is quickly forgotten.

Sure, it may be popular for a little while. For a few glorious moments, it may be flush with laudatory blog comments, congratulatory emails, and social media love.

But, eventually, its popularity fizzles out.

That’s what makes the idea of “evergreen content” so appealing — it’s supposed to be immune to fickle fancies and flavors of the month.

But here’s the problem:

If your evergreen content is forgettable, being “timeless” is pretty pointless.Click To Tweet

Your content could be relevant and evergreen until the end of time. But if it’s bland, it won’t matter. If it’s boring, no one will care. If it’s forgettable, its timelessness is wasted.

The experts’ advice isn’t wrong — it’s just incomplete.

Because to truly stand the test of time, evergreen content can’t simply be timeless. It needs to be memorable too.

So, here’s what we’re going to do:

  • We’ll (slightly) tweak the definition for evergreen content;
  • Go over the five crucial qualities of unforgettable posts (so your evergreen content has a chance to actually be remembered);
  • Look at the ins and outs of evergreen content, including real-world examples, ideas to help you come up with your own evergreen content, and tips for making your content as good as possible.

Sound good? Let’s dive in.

What is Evergreen Content?

Evergreen content is timeless, always-relevant content that’s fresh and applicable long after its publish date. Like the evergreen trees from which it gets its name, evergreen content never looks like it’s out of season.

That’s a solid, accurate definition for how most people view evergreen content.

But we can do better:

What is Evergreen Content 2.0?

Evergreen content is timeless, always-relevant content that’s fresh, applicable, and remembered by its readers long after it’s been published.

Timeless? Relevant? Fresh? Applicable? Those are easy.

Write a how-to article for cooking Ramen noodles and you’ve accomplished all four.

But to be remembered? To create something people don’t forget? That’s difficult.

With two million new blog posts published each and every day, getting your posts to stick in the minds of your readers is a Herculean task.

But it is possible.

If you want to create evergreen content people might remember and reference for years — not just days — after you click publish, you need to give it one (or more) of these five qualities:

The 5 Qualities of Unforgettable Evergreen Content
  1. Gives Readers an “OMG!” Moment
  2. Overwhelms the Senses (Including Taste Buds)
  3. Coins a Contagious Catchphrase
  4. Strips You Down and Lays You Bare
  5. Breaks Your Reader’s Lenses

Let’s break down each one.

1. Gives Readers an “OMG!” Moment

Do you remember the end of Se7en when the villain’s master plan was revealed?

Remember when your mouth dropped open after Darth Vader made the shocking (and often misquoted) revelation that he was Luke’s father?

Remember how stunned you were at the end of The Sixth Sense when you learned Bruce Willis’s character had been wearing a toupee the entire time?

These movies caught us off guard, jolted us to attention, and got us talking.

And years later, we’re still talking about them.

Why is that?

They’re quality movies for sure, but there’s more to it.

As Chip and Dan Heath discuss in their book Made to Stick (affiliate link), our brains filter out consistency in favor of focusing on differences.

So instead of remembering by-the-numbers movies that end exactly how we expected, we remember the ones with unexpected twists and surprising revelations.

Those are the stories that stand out, stick in our minds, and get us talking about them.

If you want your content to be remembered, try surprising your reader.

It’s a tried-and-true method for crafting content that sticks.

How It’s Done

Have you ever come across a headline that stopped you in your tracks?

Why James Chartrand Wears Women’s Underpants is such a headline. It’s surprising, different, and catches you off guard.

But it’s nothing compared to the surprises inside the post.

The first revelation is James Chartrand is actually a woman; however, the big discovery is why she took and continues to prominently use “James Chartrand” as her pen name.

She explains how a simple name change was able to take her from a struggling freelancer to a well-known blogger.

While the result was unintentional, she reaped many benefits from taking on a male persona — an easier time getting jobs, more respect for her work, and more recognition.

Undeniably, the post is brilliantly written. That makes it great.

But it’s the surprise factor that makes James’s post so gosh-darn memorable.

How You Can Do It

Creating surprising content is not an easy task, and it requires a well-thought-out idea to achieve it. But here are three ways you can get it done:

#1: Drop a Bombshell

Do you have a secret your readers would find surprising?

You’re a travel blogger who’s never flown on a plane? Do you blog about healthy eating but stuff your face with cake on a weekly basis? Did you once wear an orange tuxedo to a charity gala for the preservation of the endangered Icelandic snow owl?

Tell your readers. Give them your reasons. Get them talking.

#2: Leave Questions Unanswered

While she makes mention of her decision to keep the name in the context of feminism, James doesn’t delve too deeply into the morality of what she is talking about.

She instead leaves it to the audience to ponder — to wonder if they, too, have a bias against women in the workforce. To wonder if they have been the target of this kind of sexism before.

There are lots of questions left by this post that make it an easy one to stew over and discuss with friends and colleagues.

A memorable post will leave your reader with questions to ponder long after they’ve finished reading.

#3: Break the Norm

Let’s be honest…

Most tips, advice, and strategies you find online — regardless of the niche — are unoriginal. You’ve seen them before, and so have your readers.

Want to surprise your audience?

Offer them unconventional advice they haven’t heard a thousand times before. Give them a truly new idea or insight. Provide a simpler technique or shortcut that makes them cry over all the time and effort they wasted doing things the hard way.

A surprising revelation doesn’t have to be extraordinary or outlandish for people to remember it.

Sometimes, it just needs to thwart your reader’s expectations.

Tweetable Takeaway
Want a proven method for crafting content that sticks in your readers’ heads? Surprise them.Click To Tweet 2. Overwhelms the Senses (Including Taste Buds)

Adding sensory details is a ridiculously-effective way to make your content memorable. It’s so effective, we decided to write the definitive guide on the topic.

Here’s an excerpt:

Remember the final scene in Field of Dreams when Ray Kinsella has a catch with his dad?

You can smell the grass on the field.

You can hear the sound of the baseball hitting their gloves.

And you can feel Ray’s years of guilt melting away as he closes his eyes, smiles, and tosses the ball back to his dad.

(Be honest. You’re crying right now, aren’t you?)

Field of Dreams made you feel like you were in Ray’s shoes, on his field, playing catch with dad.

The scene creates such a vivid experience for many viewers that whenever they think of playing catch, this scene will come up alongside their own childhood memories.

Here’s why:

When you paint a strong scene in your audience’s mind, you make it easier for them to pull it back up from their memory. You’ve essentially bookmarked it for them so they can easily find it when something — a sight, a smell, a sound — reminds them of it.

That’s the power of content that incorporates sensory details.

By using descriptive details to evoke sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell; you can make your content burst to life in your readers’ minds.

This will help your content connect with readers on a personal level, which will help them remember it long after other posts have gone the way of the dodo.

How It’s Done

Few writers are better at descriptive details than Jon Morrow.

In his post 7 Lessons from a Guy Who Can’t Move Anything But His Face, he uses storytelling and descriptive language to help the reader get an idea of what it might feel like to be him; specifically, what it’s like to live with a disability.

Jon’s words help you feel what it’s like to only be able to move your eyes and lips. He helps you feel what it’s like to spend years of your life in hospitals. He helps you feel what it’s like to overcome all of it to live an amazing, blessed life.

Had he simply told his readers facts, the points in Jon’s post wouldn’t have resonated the same way.

Instead, he took them on an emotional journey. The ups, the downs, and everywhere in between.

And they remember him because of it.

How You Can Do It

When writing, use descriptive details to guide your readers’ imaginations.

This can be accomplished through storytelling (when appropriate) and words that convey sensations (i.e. sensory words).

Not sure where to begin? Read these two posts:

These posts will teach you the art of storytelling and everything you can possibly need to know about sensory words.

Master these and everything you write will be drenched in descriptive details.

Which means (almost) everything you write will be memorable.

Tweetable Takeaway
Make readers see what you see. Put them in your shoes and take them on an emotional journey.Click To Tweet 3. Coins a Contagious Catchphrase

“The quicker picker upper.”

“The ultimate driving machine.”

“Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.”

Unless you’re one of the precious few whose brains haven’t been inundated with advertisements over the years, you probably recognize these slogans. You also probably recognize the companies that created them.

That’s what a great slogan, phrase, or title can do.

They’re memorable. They differentiate the brand. They often outline a key benefit.

If you want your evergreen content to have a chance to stay relevant for years to come, present something that’s novel and — this is key — condense it to its essence.

The end result will be a phrase or idea people will immediately associate with your content.

How It’s Done

The post 1,000 True Fans by Kevin Kelly created an idea that was short and sweet: you can make a living doing anything if you have just 1,000 true fans.

He defined this simple, brilliant idea and then spent the rest of his post explaining why it worked and what you had to do to make it work.

Written in 2008, Kevin’s post is still remembered and referenced all these years later.


Because the phrase “1,000 true fans” condenses its concept into a simple, catchy phrase. And that makes it easier for people to remember and repeat in conversation.

Brian Dean does something similar in his post The Skyscraper Technique, which teaches a useful link-building strategy.

After naming his technique, Brian breaks it down into easy-to-follow steps so his audience can quickly get what they need from his post.

The technique is fairly simple and its title, again, is quite catchy.

You can grasp the concept of Brian’s idea simply by its name. You can visualize it. And you can close your eyes and see it in action.

That helps make it memorable.

How You Can Do It

Ask yourself a few questions…

What is your post about? Can you boil your main idea down into a memorable phrase or title? Does it present a unique perspective or technique? Does it address a real need or concern many people can connect with?

Your phrase should be simple and leave an impression on your audience, whether that’s giving them an “aha” moment or simply piquing their interest so they’ll be curious to hear what you have to say.

And once you have settled on a memorable phrase or title, feature it prominently. Include it in your headline. Repeat it, as needed, throughout your post.

Tweetable Takeaway
Create something useful and your audience will read it. Make it catchy, and they'll remember it.Click To Tweet 4. Strips You Down and Lays You Bare

If you really want to write a post that resonates with people, you need to connect with them on a deep, personal level. You need to strip your defenses and show your vulnerable side.

This not only sets you apart from all the regular, straight-laced content your audience is exposed to, it helps you relate to them in a way that’s meaningful.

Why do you think Taylor Swift is so popular?

It’s not because she has a better voice than everyone else. It’s not because she’s seven feet tall. And it’s not even because she frequently posts pictures of her cats on Twitter and Instagram.

It’s because her lyrics connect with her audience.

From teardrops getting on her guitar to shaking off the fact that haters insist on hating, Taylor often shows vulnerability in her songs.

This vulnerability endears her to her fans. When they look at her, they see a seven-foot-tall version of themselves. They see a kindred spirit.

And you don’t forget kindred spirits very easily.

How It’s Done

Jon is masterful at showing vulnerability.

In his post On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting for Your Ideas, Jon recounts the story of his mother’s tenacity in the face of his condition, which his doctor labels terminal.

He does this beautifully by telling the story first from his mother’s perspective, then from his own, and — lastly — he ties it into his main point: writers have to fight for their ideas with all the determination and love with which mothers fight for their children.

Such an appeal to the audience’s emotions is powerful. It hits home. It’s memorable.

If you want to make your content memorable, make it personal.

How You Can Do It

There are many, many ways you can show vulnerability in your writing. Here are a few ideas:

#1: Open a Window into Your Life

Like Jon does in many of his posts, you can draw your audience in with a personal story.

This works especially well if it exposes you in some way to the reader or helps them relate to you. When you write, you’re asking your audience to trust you with their time and attention.

Show them why they should feel comfortable trusting you.

#2: Reveal Your Intentions

Do you have personal reasons for writing your post?

Be candid with your audience and tell them why the subject means so much to you.

It’s easy for your audience to see you as just another faceless entity trying to sell them a product or idea.

Break this image by showing them your human side.

#3: Expose Your Fears and Anxieties

Are you writing about a problem or worry your audience has?

Do you share and understand their anxieties?

Let your readers know you are (or have been) in the same boat they are and show them how that makes you more qualified to write about it.

Tweetable Takeaway
Don’t be a superhero. Pull back the curtain and let readers see your struggles.Click To Tweet 5. Breaks Your Reader’s Lenses

We all view the world through lenses.

These lenses shape our thoughts, our passions, and our beliefs on everything from political issues (“Vote Ron Swanson”) to music (“500 Miles by The Proclaimers is the greatest song of all time”) to the cinema (“Kevin Costner should be in every movie”).

But what if one of the things you’ve believed all your life was turned on its head?

If you want to write content that people will remember in five years, you can’t just give readers random facts.

Hold up a mirror so your readers take cold,..

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If you’re starting your blog on a budget, a free WordPress theme is a great way to keep costs down.

The problem?

There are literally thousands of free WordPress themes to sort through. And when you search for guidance on Google, you’re greeted with articles offering dozens (or hundreds) of free WordPress theme options.

Let’s be honest:

You don’t need a list of dozens (or hundreds) of free WordPress themes. There’s not enough time in the day to review them all, and most of them sound the same anyway.

No, what you need is a small list of themes that have been vouched for and vetted by people who know what they’re talking about.

And you need that list to be broken down in a way that makes it easy for you to choose the theme that best fits your needs.

In short, you need the post you’re reading right now.

We asked 11 influential WordPress experts and bloggers the following, open-ended question:

“What is the best free WordPress theme for bloggers?”

They were allowed to pick up to two themes.

Here are the results:

The Best Free WordPress Themes of 2019
  1. Astra by Brainstorm Force
  2. Writee by Scissor Themes
  3. GeneratePress by Tom Usborne
  4. Neve by Themeisle
  5. Reykjavik by WebMan Design
  6. Cali by aThemes
  7. Didi Lite by Anariel Design
  8. OceanWP by OceanWP
1. Astra by Brainstorm Force
A Look at Astra (in 50 Words or Less)

Astra is a popular multipurpose theme that offers a lightweight, optimized foundation that you can build into your own unique design via a set of simple, customization options. No coding is required.

The TL;DR for Astra

7 Votes
Of our 11 experts, 7 chose Astra in our survey.

300k Active Installs
There are more than 300,000 active installations of the Astra theme.

5.0 Rating
Users have given Astra an average rating of 5.0 out of 5.0 stars.
What Our Experts Say About Astra
The Astra theme is perfect for someone who’s getting started with blogging. Not only can you easily control the look and feel of the blog through the settings in the WordPress Customizer; but you can also import a complete starter site for free using the Astra Sites plugin. This can get you up and running in minutes.
Brad Morrison, Founder of GoWP
I’m a big fan of keeping things as simple and as fast as possible and the default “out of the box” Astra experience aligns with my own ethos perfectly. As a theme author I was pleasantly surprised at how many sensible defaults they had adopted meaning I think I spent less time setting this blog up than any other in recent memory!
The free version comes with a lot of flexibility, it’s very well coded and the team behind it is great at support. It also works perfectly with WordPress’ new block editor as well as Beaver Builder and Elementor, so it’s a great option no matter how you build your content.
Nick Adams, COO at WP Buffs
Sure, [Astra] may not be the snazziest theme out there in it’s “out of the box” form, but it’s lightweight and gives you a great platform to build upon.

Want to get started right now? Install the theme, activate, make a few tweaks and get your blog out there. So, you can start writing today! Then, once you’re ready, you can grab the add-ons to the theme and customize it further.

Last One:
Astra is one WordPress theme that has been on my radar for a while. We are actually moving ShoutMeLoud from Genesis to Astra for a few reasons:
  • The code is super clean and it’s one of the well-developed themes.
  • With over 200,000+ installs, it is one of the best free WordPress themes in the repository.
  • It works with Elementor Pro, LearnDash, EDD and few other popular extensions that we use all the time.
Harsh Agrawal, Founder of ShoutMeLoud

In case you missed it, Harsh Agrawl is moving his website to Astra. That’s how big a fan he is of the theme.

Astra also received votes from Karol Krol and Daan Tol. We’ll have more from them later.

Key Features of Astra
  • Responsive design
  • Lots of customization options in the native WordPress Customizer (these let you control your theme’s design without needing any special technical knowledge)
  • Multipurpose – use it for any type of site, blogs included
  • Lightweight and performance optimized
  • Works great with page builders like Elementor or Beaver Builder
  • One of the most popular free WordPress themes, with more than 200,000 active installations
  • Compatible with the Gutenberg block editor
  • Pre-built importable demo sites
  • WooCommerce support
  • Active Facebook discussion group to learn tips and tricks
  • 5-star rating on over 1,600 reviews at WordPress.org
Final Thoughts on Astra

If you want a free, lightweight theme that excels at customization and performance, Astra is a great choice.

2. Writee by Scissor Themes
A Look at Writee (in 50 Words or Less)

Writee is a clean theme that puts the focus on your writing, along with a spot for a bold, full-width featured image.

The TL;DR for Writee

3 Votes
Of our 11 experts, 3 chose Writee in our survey.

30k Active Installs
There are more than 30,000 active installations of the Writee theme.

4.8 Rating
Users have given Writee an average rating of 4.8 out of 5.0 stars.
What Our Experts Say About Writee
My recommended free WordPress theme for bloggers is Writee by Scissor Themes. This theme has a clean and modern design that is simple enough to work for all sorts of blogs. It’s very easy to set up, making it ideal for beginners. It comes with a range of widgets that bloggers will need, such as an ‘About Me’ widget and social widget.
Writee is a free blogging theme found in the WordPress Repository, meaning it was built using the highest coding practices. It will work for all types of blogging sites, is easy to customize using the Live Customizer, and can easily be translated into the language of your choice if needed. Though there is room for more advanced customizations when it comes to the layout, sidebars, and navigation menus, Writee is perfect out-of-the-box and is suitable for even the most novice of bloggers.
Devesh Sharma, Founder of WPKube
There are a lot of excellent free blogging themes out there, but one standout is Writee by Scissor Themes. It has striking visuals, a lot of customization potential, and some other neat features.
Charlie Livingston, Founder of aThemes
Key Features of Writee
  • Responsive design
  • Clean, minimal looks
  • Bold featured images (that’s where the “striking visuals” come from)
  • Multiple blog archive options – list or grid view
  • Customization via the native WordPress Customizer
  • Full-width or boxed slider
  • WooCommerce compatibility
Final Thoughts on Writee

Writee is a great option if you want something that’s going to look great right out of the box. This contrasts with Astra and some of the other free WordPress themes on this list, where you’re expected to put in a little elbow grease to make them your own.

With Writee, you just activate it and start writing.

3. GeneratePress by Tom Usborne
A Look at GeneratePress (in 50 Words or Less)

GeneratePress is another popular option that shares the same philosophy as Astra. That is, it’s a lightweight chameleon that you can adapt to any niche or need.

In performance tests, GeneratePress usually ends up at the top of the pack, which is great if you want your blog to load fast. Beyond that, it also comes with over-the-top good support.

The TL;DR for GeneratePress

1 Vote
Of our 11 experts, 1 chose GeneratePress in our survey.

100k Active Installs
There are more than 100,000 active installations of the GeneratePress theme.

5.0 Rating
Users have given GeneratePress an average rating of 5.0 out of 5.0 stars.
What Our Experts Say About GeneratePress
Tom Usborne (the owner/creator of GeneratePress) is very helpful on [the support forum]. I could solve all my problems just by searching in the support forum. He also gives some great tips for using plugins that go very well with his theme (Code Snippets, Simple CSS). This way of working kept my theme vanilla so that I can always update without having to worry. For a non-coder like me – that’s the dream.
Daan Tol, Owner of WPLift
Key Features of GeneratePress
  • Super lightweight and performance optimized (under 30 kb)
  • Tons of customization options in the native WordPress Customizer
  • Compatible with the Gutenberg block editor
  • One of the best free responsive WordPress themes, with a great mobile design
  • Excellent code quality
  • Integrates well with all major page builders, including Elementor and Beaver Builder
  • WooCommerce compatible
  • 5-star rating on over 800 reviews at WordPress.org
Final Thoughts on GeneratePress

Like Astra, GeneratePress will look pretty basic when you first install it. However, the magic of this theme is the many options in the WordPress Customizer that let you build it into the exact look you want.

If you’re willing to put in some time, you can create the theme of your dreams, and it will all be powered by a lightweight, performance-optimized foundation.

Finally, as Daan mentioned, the theme’s developer, Tom Usborne, offers amazing support if you ever need a helping hand.

4. Neve by Themeisle
A Look at Neve (in 50 Words or Less)

Neve is a lightweight theme that’s optimized to work with the new WordPress block editor (also known as the Gutenberg editor). It’s also on the list of the most popular free WordPress themes at WordPress.org, which means that, although it’s new, it’s getting a lot of traction.

While you certainly can customize Neve to suit your needs, it looks more “polished” out of the box, and it also comes with a variety of pre-built demo sites that you can import with just a few clicks.

The TL;DR for Neve

1 Vote
Of our 11 experts, 1 chose Neve in our survey.

30k Active Installs
There are more than 30,000 active installations of the Neve theme.

5.0 Rating
Users have given Neve an average rating of 5.0 out of 5.0 stars.
What Our Experts Say About Neve
If you’d rather get a theme that looks great out the box and simply works without necessarily needing to dive through various settings panels, use Neve. It gives you a modern, beautiful design that’s also built with performance in mind. Plus, it’s the top 10 most popular free theme in the official theme directory at WordPress.org. What more could you need?
Key Features of Neve
  • Responsive design
  • Built to work well with the new WordPress block editor
  • One-page design
  • Customization options in the real-time WordPress Customizer
  • Mega menu support
  • Importable demo sites
  • WooCommerce compatible
Final Thoughts on Neve

As Karol highlighted, Neve makes a great option if you want something that’s going to look great as soon as you install it. If you like the default looks, you can just install it and start writing. Or, if you want to switch things up, but don’t want to redesign things yourself, you can also import one of the pre-built demo sites by clicking a few buttons.

5. Reykjavik by WebMan Design

A Look at Reykjavik (in 50 Words or Less)

Reykjavik brands itself as a free business WordPress theme, but it’s got a great look that can just as easily be adapted to blogging or other niches.

As the name suggests, you get a very “Nordic” feel to the styling.

(Basically, if you like Ikea, you’ll probably like this WordPress theme!)

The TL;DR for Reykjavik

1 Vote
Of our 11 experts, 1 chose Reykjavik in our survey.

2k Active Installs
There are more than 2,000 active installations of the Reykjavik theme.

5.0 Rating
Users have given Reykjavik an average rating of 5.0 out of 5.0 stars.
What Our Experts Say About Reykjavik
Reykjavik is a fresh, lightweight theme that features minimalist style. It is therefore a great fit for blogging and portfolio type websites.
Key Features of Reykjavik
  • Responsive design
  • Great-looking blog post layout with space for a full-width featured image
  • Accessible by default – passes WCAG 2.0 level AA and Section 508 requirements
  • Customization via the native WordPress Customizer
  • One-click demo content import
  • Compatible with all major page builder plugins
Final Thoughts on Reykjavik

Reykjavik is another option that will give you a great-looking site from the second you install it. The clean styling also does a great job of highlighting your content, and will satisfy your love of Nordic style more than an ALLEMANSRÄTTEN meatball.

(Those are the meatballs at Ikea, if you’re not familiar.)

Note: While the earlier screenshot highlights Reykjavik’s business-focused homepage, I’d recommend you click through to the demo because the blog page has a great full-width layout that really puts the focus on your content. You can see one of the sample blog posts here.
6. Cali by aThemes
A Look at Cali (in 50 Words or Less)

With its focus on visual imagery, Cali makes a great option for fashion, lifestyle, and travel blogs.

Beyond its looks, Cali also builds in some other helpful features for bloggers, like a newsletter integration (via the MailChimp for WordPress plugin), dedicated spots for social media follow buttons at both the top and bottom of your page, and space to bring in your Instagram feed (via the WP Instagram Widget plugin).

The TL;DR for Cali
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Ever dreamed of lying on the beach while earning tons of passive income?

I did.

I wanted to build my own business that generated thousands of dollars while I slept, partied, and traveled around the world.

So, in 2015, my friends and I created a niche website to teach beginners how to breakdance.

Sadly, we never made enough money to quit our jobs and move to paradise.

But here’s the thing…

Though we weren’t successful, the experience taught me a lot about how to build a niche website, market it, and monetize it. And combined with the knowledge I’ve gained working at Ahrefs, I now know the keys to success.

In this post, I’m going to show you what I’ve learned:

What I did right, what I did wrong, and what I would do differently if I created a new niche site today.

We’ll start with a quick definition, followed by a few examples…

What is a Niche Website?

A niche website is a website that caters to a small segment of a large market by focusing on a common, specific interest.

My website, BreakDance Decoded, was a niche website. It specifically targeted breakdancers, which is a small part of the much larger “dance” market.

Other examples of niche sites are Mr. Money Mustache (focusing on saving and budgeting in the personal finance market) and Kopywriting Kourse (focusing on copywriting in the marketing/business market).

There’s a common misconception that a niche website is a small site. This isn’t true.

“Niche” refers to the segment of the market, not the size of the website.

A site can be niche and still have thousands of pages covering a variety of topics related to the niche.

Case in Point

Nerd Fitness is a niche website that writes about fitness for nerds. Even though it’s only targeting a specific type of persona, the site has hundreds of blog posts ranking for important keywords in Google.

In general, a niche website is an information website. It either produces or sells information that solve problems (e.g. courses, ebooks, etc.).

It may eventually pivot to other monetization models like e-commerce, but the core engine behind the site is information.

Now that you know what a niche site is, let’s take a look at how you create one:

1. Choose Your Niche

For many aspiring bloggers, niche selection is one of the most challenging dilemmas they face when starting a blog.

They either have too many ideas, or — worse — they have no idea what kind of site they should build.

It doesn’t help that there’s lots of contradictory advice out there: some people suggest you start with your passion, while others say you should choose a niche that’s profitable.

How I Chose My Niche

Personally, I started with my passion.

Not counting my job, breakdancing was the activity I spent the most time doing. So, setting up a niche site that would educate people about breakdancing was a no-brainer for me.

If you’re completely new to building a site and you just want to learn how things work, I would recommend you start with your passion.


Because growing a website is hard work.

But if you’re creating content on a topic you’re passionate about, you’ll be able to find the motivation to persist on those days you feel like quitting.

(And trust me, those days will be frequent.)

How I Would Choose My Niche Today

Today, I would choose a profitable niche.

What’s that?

It’s a niche with a large audience that buys things.

And that’s what you want:

A market where people are buying, buying, and buying.

While it was fun to write about breakdancing, it was a tough market to crack. When we started, there weren’t any other niche sites about breakdancing. Our competing sites were mostly e-commerce stores selling apparel for breakdancers.

In hindsight, that should have been a warning sign.

If there are no competitors in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), you should be concerned.

Competitors = Viable Market

Competition is healthy. It’s a sign the market is worth entering. It’s a sign there’s money to be made.

We should have listened.

To help you avoid the mistake we made, here are a couple tips to help you find profitable niches:

Tip #1: Brainstorm + Snooping Around

Sit down and brainstorm some niches you’re interested in pursuing. Then, do a quick Google search to see if there are any sites dedicated to them.

You can search for “best [niche] blogs” to get started (e.g. “best breakdancing blogs”).

And once you’ve found a few potential competitors in your niche, “snoop” around their site and see how they’re monetizing.

If they have a variety of products, it could be a good niche.

For example, let’s say I am interested in the paleo niche. A quick Google search for the “best paleo blogs” brings me to this site:

Looking around, I can see Diane monetizes her site in a variety of ways:

  • Books
  • Programs/Courses
  • Amazon Affiliates
  • Certifying other health coaches
  • Etc.

Seems like a good niche!

Tip #2: Browse Affiliate Marketplaces

Alternatively, you can also look into affiliate networks like ClickBank and Amazon Associates. These are middlemen networks that connect bloggers and niche site owners with companies offering affiliate marketing opportunities.

You have an audience, they have a product. Perfect match!

Affiliate networks are ideal because:

  • These products are being bought by people interested in different niches;
  • They have a variety of categories you can browse.

Just go through them until you find products you’re interested in.

Here’s an example:

Right now, I’m learning Russian. So, I might be interested in starting a niche site about the Russian language.

And lo and behold, ClickBank has a category for the Russian language. Cool!

Unfortunately, there is only one product for sale in this category.

That isn’t promising. If it was a profitable niche, there would probably be more options.

However, when I click on “Languages”, I see lots of courses. And if I follow tip #1, searching for “best language hacking blogs” brings back a strong list of competitors, such as Fluent in 3 Months.

So, “Russian” might be too niche.

But “language” learning could be a niche worth pursuing.

Key Takeaways
  • If you’re completely new, start a niche website for one of your hobbies or passions.
  • If you know what you’re doing, choose a profitable niche.
  • To find profitable niches, do a Google search to see if there are any sites ranking in the SERPs for your target topic. If there are, snoop around to see if they’re monetizing.
  • You can also use affiliate networks like ClickBank to find interesting niches to enter.
Further Reading 2. Setup Your Site

Done with niche selection?

Great. Now it’s time to setup your site.

There are four things you need when you first get started:

  • Domain
  • Hosting Provider
  • Content Management System (CMS)
  • Theme (Plus Some Essential Plugins)

Now, don’t worry if you’re not tech-savvy. I wasn’t great when I started too. I’ll be running through what each of them are, so you can get started fast.

How I Setup My Site (and How I Would Do it Differently Today)

See this?

This is a domain. Think of your domain as the address to your house.

A lot of beginners get stuck on this phase. They procrastinate, hoping to find a perfect domain name.

The hard truth? There’s no such thing.

For us, we wanted a domain that was memorable but self-explanatory. We wanted people to understand what the site was about immediately.

That meant we needed the word “breakdance” in our domain. After brainstorming a few ideas, and consulting the thesaurus, we settled on breakdancedecoded.com.

Don’t spend all your time deciding on the domain. Just make sure it is:

  • Short and memorable;
  • Easy to spell. Imagine if someone asked you for your domain in real-life. Would it be easy for someone to remember and type it in later, or would they struggle to remember?
  • Includes your niche. This tells the visitor right away what your site is about.

If you’re stuck, you can use a tool like Domain Name Brain to give you some ideas:

Once you’re done deciding the name, check if  it is available in a domain registrar like NameCheap (affiliate link) or Hover.

Next: A Hosting Provider

To have a house, you need to have the architecture to hold it.

Your host is that architecture.

A hosting provider allows your website to be accessible on the Internet.

Since we weren’t technically-savvy, we followed a friend’s instruction and got our hosting from WPEngine.

In hindsight, that wasn’t a good decision. WPEngine is great, but it is pretty costly for a beginner site that won’t get that much traffic.

If you’re starting out, you probably won’t be getting very much traffic. So, it’s better to get a cheaper host.

There are plenty of hosting providers out there. Take a look around. Smart Blogger recommends SiteGround (affiliate link), so they’re one option to consider.

Editor’s Note:

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Jon’s in-depth guide on web hosting.

Before you choose a hosting provider, be sure to check out WordPress Hosting: A Brutally Honest Guide That’ll Save You Money.

Content Management System (CMS)

A content management system is an online tool that enables you to create and manage your content (e.g. blog posts). WordPress is the most popular CMS, but there are other alternatives too.

Since we were using WPEngine, we turned to WordPress as our blogging platform.

As you’ll see later on, the biggest traffic channel for a niche site will likely be Google. As such, you should choose a CMS that is SEO-friendly.

Most search engine optimization (SEO) experts recommend WordPress, and it’s the CMS I recommend too.

Editor’s Note:

The steps for installing WordPress will depend on your hosting provide and your particular situation.

But don’t worry.

Chances are excellent our massive, step-by-guide on How to Install WordPress in 5 Minutes or Less will be able to walk you through the tricky parts.

Once you’re done with the installation, you’ll need a theme.

A theme is a template that defines the appearance of your site. (Think of it like the design of your house).

For our theme, we chose Genesis.

Genesis isn’t the best-looking theme around, but at the time we were looking for efficiency and ease of use. (Plus, we weren’t that great with design.) We also figured that we could upgrade to a better theme later on, if we got more successful.

Genesis Theme in Action

With its simplicity, Genesis was a great theme for us. If you’re more design-savvy, feel free to pick another theme.

Smart Blogger recommends Elegant Themes (affiliate link), but you can also browse through the selections in ThemeForest.

Once you’re done, install these two free plugins:

  • Akismet. Helps you combat comment spam.
  • Yoast SEO. Helps you easily optimize your on-page SEO.

If you want more WordPress plugins to install, check out this list of time savers.

Key Takeaways
  • Don’t get analysis paralysis when it comes to your domain name. Choose one that is memorable, easy to spell, and includes your niche.
  • Since you won’t get very much traffic initially, start with a cheaper, flexible host, like SiteGround.
  • Choose WordPress as your CMS.
Further Reading 3. Do Topic Research

Your foundation is set.

It’s time to start getting traffic to your site.

How I Did My Topic Research

Now, at this point, most bloggers make the same mistake:

They write about whatever tickles their fancy.

I know because I did the same thing.

I brainstormed topics I thought would resonate with my audience, and then I wrote about them. The only reason I got away with it was because I was a breakdancer writing to other breakdancers.

I knew the topics that would interest my audience because I was a part of that audience.

But if you’re working in a niche that is unfamiliar to you, you can’t just write about anything you want.

Those topics won’t resonate and you won’t build an audience.


Your content won’t rank in Google, which means no traffic will come to your site.

How I Would Do My Topic Research Today

For most niche sites, the best way to get traffic is SEO.

SEO is an acquisition channel that will grow passively. As long as you are ranking well for the keywords you’re targeting, you will get passive traffic.

Compare that with other channels.

You could experiment with paid ads (for example, Facebook ads), but as soon as you stop the campaign or run out of money, your traffic dries up immediately.

The same goes for social media. You have to either build up a large audience (difficult) or bank on viral hits (also difficult). And as soon as you stop tweeting and sharing, whatever traffic you were getting will disappear.

Search engine traffic doesn’t stop. It keeps going. Even when you’re sleeping.

If you want search traffic, you need to write about topics that people are searching for. In other words:

You need to create content for topics with search traffic potential.

In SEO parlance, this is known as keyword research.

Here are a few ways you can do it:

Use a Keyword Research Tool

The easiest way to get started is to use a keyword research tool.

Enter any seed keywords related to your niche into a keyword research tool, and it will generate hundreds of different ideas you can target.

For example, here’s a free keyword tool called AnswerThePublic:

AnswerThePublic generates ideas for you based on different categories: questions, prepositions, comparisons, alphabeticals, etc.

There are plenty of other free tools out there, like:

Take your pick.

One of the most important metrics SEOs look at when doing keyword research is search volume. Essentially, search volume is the amount of searches per month for a keyword.

The problem with a free tool is that, while it’s free, it usually has either missing or incomplete data.

As such, you might want to consider using a professional keyword tool like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer (affiliate link).

You can access it using the Ahrefs’ $7 for 7-days trial.

Enter a seed keyword into Keywords Explorer, and it will generate thousands of keyword ideas, plus all sorts of relevant SEO metrics:

Here’s a quick explanation of everything you’re seeing in the above screenshot:

  • Keyword Difficulty (KD). Ahrefs’ Keyword Difficulty metric gives you an estimate of how hard it would be to rank in the Top 10 search results for a given keyword.
  • Search volume (volume). This shows you how many times per month, on average, people in a given country search for your target keyword.
  • Clicks. This shows you the average monthly number of clicks on the search results that people make while searching for the target keyword.
  • Cost-per-click (CPC). This shows you the average..
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Whether your blog is brand new or already established, you can never have enough traffic.


I work at an SaaS company called Ahrefs, and even though the Ahrefs blog pulls in over 200k organic traffic every month, we still experiment with ways to promote our blog and bring in more traffic.

Because let’s face it:

It’s 2019. Simply sending an email blast to your subscriber list doesn’t cut it anymore.

But don’t fret.

If you’re stuck coming up with new ideas for how to promote your blog, here are 9 tried-and-tested tactics that have worked for us.

Let’s dig in.

#1. Work with Podcasts

Let’s start things off with the buzzword of the year: podcasts.

Thanks to their flexibility (you can listen to them while you’re at work or when you’re on the go), they’re the most popular form of audio content.

They’re also widely available on services like iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify.

Some quick facts:

Ahrefs has had great success with sponsoring podcasts (paid advertising) as well as guesting on them — that is, sending a member of our team to be interviewed on a show.

Here’s an actual comment from a new customer and blog reader of ours:

For sponsoring podcasts, think of this tactic as a type of influencer marketing.

Your job is to sell your blog to the podcast host and the podcast host’s job is, in turn, to sell your blog to their audience.

How to Promote Your Blog by Sponsoring Podcasts

If you have the budget, sponsoring podcasts is a great way to promote your blog. Here’s how you do it:

Step #1. Do Your Research

Create a list of podcasts whose audiences are a good match for your blog. If you have no idea where to start, here’s a tip:

Try using a specialized podcast search engine like Listen Notes. Browse the shows and pick your favorites.

Step #2. Make Contact

Once you’ve created a list of targets, you’ll need to contact the podcasts and inquire about sponsorship details.

What are their pricing packages? What dates do they have available? Are there any gotchas?

Prices can range from $50 to $5,000 and beyond per episode, so work within your particular budget.

Step #3. Iron Out the Details

This includes your ad copy, delivery, and any other deliverables like your blog’s logo and elevator pitch.

In my experience, organic reads do much better than “scripted ads.”

The goal is to get the podcast host to sound like a fan and regular reader of your blog.

Step #4. Wait for Your Ad to Air

If anything is off, be sure to let the podcast know as soon as possible!

How to Promote Your Blog with Podcast Interviews

If you’re strapped for cash (or simply don’t want to do podcast advertising), another approach is to appear as a guest on podcasts.

This is usually free — unless you’re approaching extremely-popular podcasts, which tend to charge a one-time appearance fee.

The catch is you’ll need some kind of credibility to your name. In other words, you’ll need to convince the podcast host that you’re someone their audience would love to listen to.

The process for this is similar to the one detailed above:

Step #1. Create a Target List

Use Listen Notes or a similar tool to create a list of podcast targets.

Step #2. Check if They Accept Interviews

Often, podcasts will explicitly state on their websites whether or not they accept interview requests.

And if they don’t accept interview requests? Ask anyway.

Send in your pitch and convince them you have lots of value to add.

Step #3. Follow the Host’s Lead

Every podcast will have their own process. Some may want to do pre-interviews, some may want to work on a rough content online with you, and some may want to just “wing it.”

Whatever the process, remember to be courteous and respectful — you’re a guest, after all.

Just don’t forget to mention your blog!

Editor’s Note:

Appearing on podcasts is one of our favorite promotion strategies here at Smart Blogger — as evidenced by our appearances on EOFire, James Altucher, Duct Tape Marketing, the Write Podcast, and Loz James’ Content Champion.

Just make sure you’re prepared:

  • Show up early to the interview so the host has time to do a sound check.
  • Don’t use your phone or your laptop’s built-in microphone; instead, invest in an external microphone. Quality and price points vary, but you can get a simple microphone that plugs into your computer’s headphone jack for the price of a medium pizza.
  • Use headphones to cut down on echoes.
  • Turn off all notifications and, if you can, shut your door to minimize background noise.
#2. Republishing on Medium

Sure, you can publish tons of absolutely amazing posts on your own blog.

But if you never extend your reach, whether it’s by growing your list of email subscribers or boosting your number of social media followers, your audience will be limited.

So what do you do if you don’t have time to create promotional content and extend your reach?

Try this:

Republish your existing posts on blogging platforms like Medium.

Your content will be seen by a whole new audience — some of which will then visit your blog and discover all the great content you have to offer.

For example, look at this blog post I published on the Ahrefs blog last December:

It got 463 shares and 43 comments — very decent engagement considering the fact that the topic likely didn’t appeal to our blog’s core audience (people interested in search engine optimization).

In a bid to push the post out to a wider audience, we republished it on Medium. It turned out to be a fantastic decision.

Here are the stats as of March this year:

That’s 13.6k views in total, with 22% of readers actually finishing the whole post.

Plus, the Medium publication of this post averages a steady trickle of 10-30 readers every day.

Note: For the SEO-conscious among us, Medium uses canonical tags when you use their republishing tool. So no worries about duplicate content issues.
How to Republish on Medium

Medium has made the process of importing and republishing content super simple. Here’s how you do it:

Step #1. Choose a Post to Republish

Ideally, pick one of your top performers (since it’s already proved it’s popular).

You can use a tool like Ahrefs’ Top Content report in Site Explorer to see which of your posts have the most shares on social media.

Since they’ve proven themselves on social media, these posts are the most likely to resonate with audiences beyond your blog’s existing one.

Editor’s Note:

Though they aren’t nearly as detailed, there are a few free tools to track social media shares if you aren’t an Ahrefs customer.

As an example, SharedCount.com lets you copy and paste URLs of individual posts; however, they only show counts for Facebook and Pinterest:

Step #2. Import Your Post Into Medium

Enter the URL of your post into the Medium import tool and hit “Import”.

Step #3. Publish Your Post on Medium

Follow Medium’s guidelines to format and polish your post, then click “Publish”.

That’s all there is to it!

#3. Smart Social Sharing

I know, I know.

It’s 2019, and promoting your blog posts on social media is by no means a new strategy.

BUT — there’s more to social media promotion than pasting a link and clicking a “Tweet” button.

Here’s an example of the success we’ve seen from smart sharing on the Ahrefs Twitter account:

Pretty impressive, right?

Here’s another example:

These tweets received amazing engagement, but we actually spent very little time creating them.

We achieved this ROI by working smarter, not harder.

How to Promote Your Blog Using Social Media (Smartly)

Here’s our process:

Step #1. Brainstorm Ideas and Organize Them

The great thing about social media content is it’s all fleeting. Even if an idea is a flop, it’s easy to turn the page and try the next idea.

But to make the most of these (admittedly fleeting) opportunities, you need two things:

  1. A large list of ideas;
  2. A method for grouping similar ideas into categories.

To brainstorm ideas, get a pen and paper (or launch Google Docs, Microsoft Word, etc.) and jot down things you would like to try.

Get as creative as you want.

Think memes would be popular with your audience? Write it down. Believe infographics or inspirational quotes could be successful? Write them down. Believe posts or tweets on Topic X or Topic Y could receive high engagement?

(You get the idea.)

By listing all of your ideas, you’ll then be able to group them into categories. This will help you track which categories are successful and which are not.

Step #2. Craft and Publish (and Monitor) Your Content

You can use social media management tools like Buffer and MeetEdgar to schedule your content and keep it running automatically.

Once your social media posts begin making their way into the wild, you’ll be able to track their progress.

Do some receive more comments, while others receive more shares and retweets? Are some more popular in the mornings, while others receive more engagement during the evenings?

All data, both good and bad, will help you in the next step.

Step #3. Review the Results

After an appropriate amount of time has gone by, hold a review.

Drop the categories that didn’t perform well. Keep the ones with potential and refine them.

You want to focus on the categories your audience likes and tweak them.

Do they like emojis, or do they gravitate towards a more “serious” tone? Do they like infographics, or long chunks of copy with statistics thrown in?

And so on.

From here, keep repeating steps 1-3 until you’ve locked down the type of content your audience loves.

And once you’ve figured out what they love, keep giving it to them.

Step #4. Advertising (Optional)

If you want to try advertising, the above process will save you some serious money.

Pick your top organic performers from Step #3 and put money into promoting them.

Since they’ve already proven themselves to be popular, this is a safe and effective way to buy ads to promote your blog (without wasting time and money on losers).

#4. Create Roundup Posts

The perks of this strategy pretty much sell themselves.

Here’s what happens when you publish a good roundup post:

  • First off, it’s easy to write since most of the content is created for you;
  • You make new and powerful connections within your industry;
  • Thanks to those connections, you gain access to new audiences;
  • Your post naturally gains backlinks and social shares.

So… what’s a roundup post, anyway?

Here’s an example:

Essentially, a roundup post features a compilation of answers to a single question, ideally by established experts in the field.

A great roundup post adds immense value to readers since they offer a range of expert opinions in one place.

Plus, they tend to bring in lots of traffic since the experts featured in them will often share the post with their own audiences.

What’s not to love?

How to Create Roundup Posts

Here are the basics of roundup posts so you can create your own:

Step #1. Craft Your Question

Don’t take this step lightly.

If you ask too much of the experts you’ll be polling, most won’t have time to participate (even if they want to). And if you ask a question they’ve heard (and answered) a million times, most won’t be interested.

Your question needs to be clear, succinct, and something that will appeal both to your readers and the experts you’ll be asking to participate.

Step #2. Create a List of Influencers

Once you’ve crafted your question, it’s time to create your influencer wish list. These are the influencers (“experts”) you’ll be asking to participate in your roundup post.

Since not everyone will respond to you, reach out to significantly more experts than you need.

For example, if you need 20 people for your roundup post, reach out to 40 experts (or more).


A roundup post is only as good as the people you feature. While it takes exponentially more time and effort to get a response from a more recognized name in your industry, it’s likely worth it.

With that said, don’t expect the Michael Jordans of your industry to respond to your outreach — try to find people with a reasonable level of influence who aren’t complete titans.

Step #3. Reach Out to the Experts

You can use specialized tools like BuzzStream or Mailshake to streamline the entire outreach process by making it easier to hunt down email addresses, batch send messages, and conduct follow-ups.

Quick tips for the message you send:

  1. Keep it short;
  2. Keep it genuine.
Step #4. Follow Up (But Only Once)

There’s a chance your first email will slip past the expert you’re trying to reach. After all, they’re very busy and likely receive dozens (or hundreds) of emails every single day.

This is why sending a follow-up email is helpful:

However, please don’t follow-up more than once — any more than that and you’re just being a nuisance.

Step #5. Compile Your Responses

At this point, you’ll have a bunch of answers ready to sift through. Now all you need to do is turn them into a cohesive post.

Try to find trends in the responses and sort them into sections.

Next, add your own introduction to each section, as well as your opinion on why certain trends occurred.

This is how you put your stamp on the roundup post and make it your own.

Step #6. Publish Your Post (And Tell the Experts)

Once your post is published, it’s time..

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Looking for a tutorial showing you how to install WordPress, but keep finding resources that tackle every method except the one you need?

We’ve got your back.

In this post, we break down every conceivable way there is to install WordPress.

You’ll learn how to install WordPress using cPanel, Softaculous, MOJO, Fantastico, and QuickInstall; locally on both Windows and Mac; manually using FTP; and we’ll break down popular hosting providers like GoDaddy, Bluehost, and HostGator.

You’ll also learn how to install WordPress Multisite, how to install WordPress in different languages, and more.

Just click the appropriate link in our Table of Contents to jump to the section you need.


Let’s go.

Table of Contents
  How to Install WordPress on cPanel (Softaculous, MOJO, Fantastico, and QuickInstall)

So, you decided to start a blog.

Awesome. Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work installing WordPress.

Thankfully, many of the popular WordPress hosts offer some form of simplified (or even automatic) installation.

If you’re using a “shared” WordPress hosting plan, there’s a good chance your host will use cPanel.

Editor’s Note: cPanel is an online control panel many web hosts use to simplify the whole “how to host a website” thing for users. Go here to learn more about it.

Let’s walk through the cPanel process…

Step #1. Find Out How to Access Your Host’s cPanel

Unfortunately, the way you get to cPanel is not standardized across the web. Different hosts access it differently.

So, before you can do anything, you need to find out how to access your host’s cPanel.

The easiest method is to find the emails your hosting provider sent you when you signed up for your account. Among other valuable bits of information, the URL to your cPanel will be in one of those initial emails.

But if you can’t find the right email, don’t worry.

Just Google the name of your web host and “cPanel login”.

That should do the trick.

Step #2. Get to Know cPanel

The main cPanel dashboard can be a little intimidating.


You don’t have to understand all cPanel has to offer. We’re here to do one thing — learn how to install WordPress.

For that, let’s look for the cPanel installer tools, which are usually located near the bottom of the page.

Your host might be using any of the following installers: Softaculous, Fantastico, QuickInstall, or MOJO Marketplace.

We’re going to focus on Softaculous since it’s the most popular.

But don’t worry if your host uses a different installer.

While the specific interfaces might be a bit different, the idea behind every installer is the same.

Plus, they all ask you for the same set of data and inputs.

Step #3. How to Install WordPress Using Softaculous

To begin, look for the Softaculous section in cPanel.

Click on the WordPress logo. The installer tool will open:

Click on the Install Now button to begin the installation process.

Softaculous needs only a handful of details from you. Here are the fields you should pay special attention to:

  • “Choose the version you want to install” — Always go for the most-recent version available.
  • “Choose Protocol” — “https://” is the option preferred by Google.
  • “Choose Domain” — Leave unchanged if you have just one domain assigned to your server; if you have more than one domain, select the desired one for this installation.
  • “In Directory” — Leave empty if you want to install WordPress in the main directory of your domain name (which most people do).
  • “Select Plugin(s)” — Optional (but as a general rule: the fewer plugins, the better).

Here’s what the form looks like:

Click Install to proceed.

When the process finishes, Softaculous will show you a final confirmation screen along with links to your WordPress dashboard.

And that’s it!

You’ve installed WordPress using cPanel.

Note: The WordPress dashboard of your newly-installed site should be available at yoursite.com/wp-admin/.
  How to Install WordPress on Localhost (Or, How to Install WordPress Locally)

The instructions for how to install WordPress locally depends on whether you’re using a PC (Windows) or a Mac.

We’ll go over both methods.

First up: Windows.

(If you’re on a Mac, click here to jump ahead.)

How to Install WordPress on Windows

WordPress is a great tool for local web development.

Here’s how you install WordPress locally on Windows:

Step #1. Get XAMPP

XAMPP is a local web server for your computer. It’s an all-in-one package with everything you will need to run software (such as WordPress) locally.

What About WAMP?

You might have heard of a similar tool called WAMP.

Under the hood, WAMP and XAMPP do the same thing. However, in my opinion, WAMP isn’t as reliable as XAMPP.

For this reason and others, we’ll focus on XAMPP in this tutorial.

From the XAMPP website, click on the download button for Windows and save the XAMPP package to your desktop.

Launch the XAMPP installer and follow the prompts on the screen.

First, select the individual components you want to have installed. To be safe, you can choose all of them:

Next, select the installation folder for XAMPP.

Note: Avoid installing XAMPP in Program Files. The read/write restrictions of Windows might prevent it from working correctly. Installing in C:\xampp is a safer bet.

XAMPP will take a minute or two to install.

When it’s finished, you’ll see this confirmation screen:

When you click on Finish, you’ll see the main XAMPP config panel.

In it, click on the two Start buttons next to Apache and MySQL.

Like so:

You should see the two labels change to green:

When you see green, your local server is working!

Step #2. Create a Blank Database for WordPress

From the control panel of XAMPP, click on the Admin button in the MySQL row:

This will launch a tool called PHPMyAdmin, which is an open-source database management tool.

Go into Databases (from the top menu).

Enter a name for your new WordPress database (something simple) and click the Create button:

You should see your new blank database in the sidebar:

You can now exit PHPMyAdmin.

Step #3. Download WordPress

Go to WordPress.org and download the most recent version of the software.

Don’t worry. It’s free:


  • Save the file to your desktop or downloads folder. Extract it.
  • Go to the folder where you installed XAMPP (C:\xampp) and find the htdocs subfolder.
  • Create a new subfolder inside htdocs. This is where your site is going to live. For the purpose of this demo, I’ll name the folder mynewsite.
Note: The name of this folder will also become part of the local address of the site. With mynewsite being the folder name, the address of the site is going to be localhost/mynewsite.

Take the contents of the WordPress archive and move them to this new subfolder (“mynewsite” or whatever you named yours).

It should look like this:

Step #4. Install WordPress Locally on Windows

Open your web browser and navigate to localhost/mynewsite.

What you’ll see is the on-screen WordPress Installation Wizard.

The first step is choosing your language:

The next screen is an info card to get you up to speed with what’s going to happen. Click on Let’s go! once you’ve read it.

The next step is a crucial one in the installation.

This is where you get to enter the details of your WordPress connection to the database.

Here are my settings based on everything I’ve set in the previous steps so far:

Important parts:

  • Database Name — This is the name you set in PHPMyAdmin when creating the database in Step #2.
  • Username — Set to root.
  • Password — Leave blank.
  • Database Host — Set to localhost.
  • Table Prefix — Leave as is.

The next step is where you get to set the name of your site and the details of your main admin account:

Note: With the exception of username, you’ll be able to easily change these later in your WordPress dashboard.

Click on Install WordPress to finalize everything.

And that’s it. You’ve installed WordPress locally on Windows.

How to Install WordPress on Mac

While installing WordPress locally on Mac isn’t the usual “get app from App Store” experience we’re used to, it can still be done with relative ease.

Here’s how to install WordPress on Mac:

Step #1. Get MAMP

MAMP is a local web server that works quite well on Mac.

(It’s also easier to install than some of its alternatives.).

From the MAMP website, go to the downloads section and choose the option for macOS:

Save the package..

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It’s okay to admit it.

That deep, dark secret you don’t want anyone to know.

That thought which keeps you up night after night.

You want… to rule the world!

You want to dominate your industry and be the envy of all. You want the house in the Hamptons and the spoils that go with it. You want two appetizers with your entree.

But you’re afraid.

You’re afraid of what others will say when they hear about your dream. You’re afraid it will seem too big — too crazy. Just like you’re afraid of what the waitress will think if you order onion rings and chicken tenders.

But mostly?

You’re afraid because you don’t know where to begin. You don’t know how to go from where you are as a blogger to where you want to be. You don’t know how to get from here to there.

The good news?

Just like eating an elephant, you don’t do it all in one bite.

World domination — or any major blogging goal — is a journey you take one milestone at a time.

For a handy visual of the 21 blogging milestones (that you can share and embed on your own site), check out the image below (click to see a larger view):

Embed This Infographic On Your Site

<!—– Copy and Paste This Code Into Your Post —-><a href=”https://smartblogger.com/bucket-list/”><img src=”https://smartblogger.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/21-blogging-miletones-infographic.png” alt=”21 Blogging Milestones on the Path to World Domination” width=”700 px” class=”noa3lazy”/></a><br><a href=”https://smartblogger.com/bucket-list/”>21 Blogging Milestones on the Path to World Domination from SmartBlogger.com</a>


Why Bloggers Need Meaningful Milestones

When you break large tasks into small, manageable ones, what once seemed big and scary isn’t as daunting.

Renovating your entire home? Start by painting a room. Training for a marathon? Walk to the end of your driveway. Want to start a rock band? Get a guitar and start practicing.

Blogging isn’t any different.

Your journey as a blogger is filled with incremental milestones. They start small, gradually increase in size, and culminate with you owning sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads.

Want 10,000 subscribers? Start with 100. Want to quit your job? Focus on making your first sale. Want to be Jon Morrow’s best friend? Get him to notice you.

These milestones comprise your bucket list. They highlight what you’ve already accomplished, what you’re striving toward next, and what still lies far ahead of you.

To help you in your quest, here are the 21 major blogging milestones (and how to reach each one).

Ready? Let’s dive in.

#1. Starting Your Blog

You’ve been talking about doing it forever.

You’ve been reading blogs like Smart Blogger, Blogging Wizard, and Be A Better Blogger for months.

You’ve been planning, scheming, and daydreaming about starting a blog for so long that people have started to worry about that glazed look in your eyes.

So don’t you think it’s time you finally did it?

How to Start a Blog
What to Do Next
Once your blog is up and running, it’s time to start writing.

But first, savor this moment. You’ve already accomplished more than many wannabe bloggers ever do…

You’ve started a blog. You did it.


Let’s get to work.

#2. Writing Your First Blog Post

Bloggers blog. It’s what we do.

So once you’ve setup your blog on WordPress, Medium, or wherever, it’s time to make this whole “blogging thing” official.

It’s time to write your first post.

How to Write a Blog Post
What to Do Next
After you publish your blog post, it’s time to promote it.

Share it with your friends and family on email and social media. Email it to your subscribers too (if you have any yet).

#3 Getting Your First Tweet

Getting your content shared on social media for the first time is a big milestone.

Each time your posts are tweeted, pinned, or liked, your content is exposed to new readers.

These new readers are potential . Potential customers. Potential allies in your quest for world domination.

How to Get People to Share Your Content
  • Make it super easy to share your posts. Sharing buttons for Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. should be easy for your readers to find.
  • Make sure your posts are worthy. If you write posts that change your readers, they won’t be able to help themselves — they’ll have to share them.
  • Be tweetable. Use short, quotable messages in your posts.
  • Share it yourself. How can you expect others to share your content if you don’t?
What to Do Next
Be friendly and appreciative. When someone shares one of your posts, thank them. In addition to being good form, this act of gratitude will increase the likelihood they’ll share your posts again in the future.

To boost the number of shares you receive, try using interesting images with embedded headlines as the featured images in your posts. Be sure to choose a relevant picture, or one that creates curiosity.

#4. Receiving Your First Blog Comment From a Stranger

It finally happened.

The moment you discover someone other than your mom is reading your blog.

Your first comment from a stranger.

It’s the first sign you’re engaging a real audience (not just friends and family).

The first indication your words are striking a chord with readers.

The first evidence you have what it takes to succeed.

How to Get Blog Comments
  • Make it as easy as possible for visitors to comment. Don’t do anything to discourage engagement.
  • Visit other blogs in your niche and leave inquisitive, insightful comments. Many bloggers will return the favor.
  • Join relevant Facebook groups. People are down on Facebook these days, but being an active member of one or two Facebook groups is an excellent way to let prospective readers know your blog exists.
  • Give people what they want. Answer questions readers want answered, and they will comment.
What to Do Next
Were you raised in a barn? Thought not. So once you’ve received a comment, respond to it. Continue engaging with your reader.

Next, visit their blog and leave them a comment. If they don’t have a blog, thank them in an email.

True, this level of dedication will be difficult once you’re receiving dozens of comments.

But in your blog’s early days? There’s simply no good reason not to go above and beyond to express your appreciation.

After you’ve received a few comments, it’s time to implement strategies to further boost your comment count.

#5. Gaining Your First Email Subscriber

“The money is in the list,” says every blogger (even if nobody has asked them).

It’s cliché, but it’s true.

Email subscribers are far more likely to read, share, and engage with your content than someone who simply follows you on Twitter or “likes” you on Facebook.

Email cuts through the noise.

A person might receive a few dozen emails in a day, but they’ll receive several hundred (or more) tweets from their followers.

If you want to reach the top of the blogging mountain, you must .

And it all starts with that first subscriber.

How to Get Email Subscribers
  • Sign up for an email marketing provider. MailChimp has a free version, but if you want to send autoresponder emails, you’ll need the paid version or go to another provider like AWeber or GetResponse.
  • Prominently display an opt-in form. Once you have your email list, you need to put your opt-in form front and center where readers can easily find it.
  • Have a compelling call to action at the end of your posts. A focused CTA will increase the likelihood readers will subscribe.
  • Update your email signature. Include a link to your opt-in form in the signature of your outgoing emails, as well as your posts in blogging forums.
What to Do Next
Make your new subscriber feel welcomed.

When someone subscribes to your list, your welcome email should be warm and inviting.

Encourage them to ask you a question. Tell them to follow you on Twitter and say hello. Give them a link to an unexpected freebie bonus.

(But don’t do all three at once — you might scare away your only subscriber!)

#6. Getting Your First Backlink

Search engines love backlinks — they help them discover how pages are related, and in what ways.

Landing a high-quality link from a relevant website is great for SEO and results in more search engine traffic flocking to your website. And who doesn’t want that?

When a website links to yours, it’s effectively telling Google, “This dude is cool. He’s with me.”

Want to rule the world? You need Google to think you’re cool.

How to Get Backlinks
  • Create Massive Value Content. Epic posts are commented on, shared more, and linked to more often.
  • Implement a link building strategy. Broken link building, community site link building, and other tactics are out there for the blogger willing to roll up their sleeves and make them work.
  • Pound the proverbial pavement. Email outreach is time consuming, but it can be a highly effective method for acquiring backlinks — if you do it right.
  • Take it to the next level. Try advanced strategies like link reclamation and reverse image search.
What to Do Next
Keep going.

Numerous untapped backlink resources are available to bloggers willing to tap them. And if you don’t, your competitors will.

#7. Reaching 100 Visitors in a Single Day

In your blog’s early days, visitors are scarce. Occasionally, you’ll wonder if anyone is reading your blog.

But slowly, little by little, your numbers creep higher and higher.

And then it happens.

The day your blog reaches triple-digit visitors. The day your hard work begins to pay off. The day you get your first taste of power.

Intoxicating, isn’t it?

How to Get Blog Traffic
  • Promote on social media. Keep sharing your content on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Use hashtags to widen your reach.
  • Promote daily. While you shouldn’t publish daily, you should most definitely promote every day.
  • Concentrate on beginner-friendly traffic-generation techniques. Videos, infographics, and the like don’t work for beginners the way they work for established bloggers.
  • Put yourself in your readers’ shoes. Poor navigation, lots of ads, and a mobile-unfriendly design will alienate your readers and make them bounce from your blog.
What to Do Next
Implement strategies to keep readers on your blog longer. This increases dwell time, which is another way to get Google to like you.

Linking to other posts on your blog, embedding videos, displaying related posts, and encouraging readers to leave comments are all effective methods for keeping visitors on your website.

#8. Receiving Your First Piece of Fan Mail (Well, Email)

This is strange.

You receive an email from a stranger, but it has nothing to do with male enhancement or an unexpected inheritance from overseas.

It’s an email from a reader. And she’s telling you how much she enjoys your blog!

Your first “kudos” email from a reader is a big milestone for bloggers, and those who go on to rule the world receive many of them.

(Mine may or may not be printed, framed, and hanging from the walls of my office.)

How to Get (True) Fans
What to Do Next
Reply to the email. Thank your reader for contacting you, and try to answer any questions they may have asked.

But don’t stop there.

Follow them on social media. Visit and comment on their blog. Subscribe to their list, if you like what you see.

Your response will make a lasting impression in the mind of your reader. Don’t waste it.

#9. Getting Your First Negative Blog Comment

After weeks of praise, attaboys, and well-wishes, you receive your first negative comment.

You try to laugh it off by making a “these are where the tears would be if I could cry” joke, but it doesn’t work.

You’re confused. Hurt. Maybe a little angry. (Plus, your spouse quickly reminds you of the time you cried like a baby watching Field of Dreams.)

Don’t let it get you down. As you gain in popularity, criticism is inevitable.

Consider it a badge of honor — every popular blogger receives negative comments.

It’s proof you’re on the right track.

How to Reach This Milestone
  • Find your unique voice and stand out. Don’t be another me too blogger — be distinctive and memorable.
  • Be a troublemaker. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo.
  • Keep doing what you are doing. Haters are gonna hate. Just shake it off.
What to Do Next
As much as you would like to respond to the negative comment with a barrage of sarcastic wit and venom, don’t do it.

Delete the comment, ignore the comment, or respond to it in a professional manner. But whatever you do, remain calm. Don’t let the insults fly.

Others will see how you respond, and it will leave an indelible impression of you in their minds.

#10. Landing Your First Guest Post

Sooner or later, you’ll discover that commenting on other blogs and making friends on Twitter will boost your traffic only so far.

You need to reach new audiences.

As the marketing crowd would say, you need fresh eyeballs on your content.

In other words, you need to write a guest post.

How to Kick Tail as a Guest Blogger
  • Find your target. While it may seem like a good idea to write a post and then find a blog, it’s better to select a blog first and tailor your guest post around their audience.
  • Thoroughly read the guidelines. Make sure you know what’s expected of you, and avoid making dumb guest blogging mistakes.
  • Proofread! Take the time to properly proofread and edit your posts before submitting them.
  • Stay positive and persevere. Sometimes you have to contact your guest post target two or three times before getting accepted. Persistence often pays off.
What to Do Next
Your job isn’t finished once your guest post is published. No siree, Bob.

You need to promote the post on your social media accounts. You need to email the post to your mailing list (even if it’s small). You need to respond to any comments readers leave on the post.

And, most importantly, you need to thank the blogger or bloggers who gave you the opportunity to write for them.

Guest blogging, as much as anything, is about the connections you can make. Backlinks, traffic spikes, and a bump in email subscribers are all nice.

But establishing a long-term connection with an influential blog owner?

That’s worth its weight in gold.

#11. Getting Featured in Your First Interview or “Expert Roundup”

When people see you repeatedly mentioned on other sites via interviews and roundups, their perceptions of you change.

Yesterday, you were just an attractive guy or gal oozing talent but drowning in anonymity.

Today, you’re a freaking rock star.

You’re no more knowledgeable than you were moments earlier, but suddenly your powerful words carry more weight with readers. That’s because someone they trust just called you an expert (or treated you like one).

To reach world-leader status, others must view you as an authority. They need to consider you an expert in your industry.

Participating in interviews and roundups is a great way to make that happen.

How to Become an Influencer People Want to Interview or Quote
  • Create an awesome About Me page. Tell your story, share testimonials, and be sure to mention you’re available for interviews.
  • Help A Reporter Out. Sign up for HARO and you can receive multiple emails each day listing people who are..
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Saving time, making connections with influencers, building authority — these are just some of the benefits of content curation.

But you might also have lots of questions like…

  • How much time should you spend curating content versus creating great posts of your own?
  • How can you make curated posts stand out amidst all the noise out there?
  • What tools can you use to speed up or even automate the process?

Well, here’s the good news:

In this post, I’ll answer all those questions about content curation and more.

If you’re new to the topic, I’ll explain exactly what content curation is and why you should do it. We’ll also explore some tools and tactics for streamlining your content curation process, saving you loads of time, even if you’ve been doing it a while.

And the best part…

Lots of real-world examples! You’ll see what’s working in the trenches right now, so you can model it for yourself.

Why Should I Consider Content Curation?

There’s an overabundance of information out there.

As I write, in the early evening, around 3 million blog posts have been published today, all vying for your attention.

Every second there are:

  • 8,320 Tweets sent
  • 888 Instagram photos uploaded
  • 3,550 Skype calls made
  • 66,233 GB of internet traffic logged
  • 71,596 Google searches performed
  • 76,892 YouTube videos watched
  • 2,758,518 emails sent

By 2020, an estimated 1.7 GB of data will be created for every person on earth — every second!

No-one can possibly keep up.

But with content curation, they don’t have to. Think of it like this:  

Imagine there was only one radio station that played every genre of music and broadcast all the news and talk-back shows ever made.  Your passion is country music, but it’s too hard to find amidst the noise of the other content.

Along comes a small, independent radio station dedicated to bringing you the best country music it can source. Everything about country music that entertains and informs you. All curated in one place for people like yourself to enjoy.

Which radio station will you tune into the most?

That’s why content curators are becoming increasingly important in a world of time-strapped, overwhelmed content-consumers. And that’s why every blogger, brand and business should consider curation as part of their content marketing strategy.

What is Content Curation?

Content curation is the art of sourcing, filtering and repackaging all forms of existing content to share with a specific audience to add value to their lives and save them time.

Phew. That’s quite a mouthful.

Let’s break it down into more bite-sized chunks before we delve into the detail of how to do it.

  • Sourcing:  First, you’ve got to find content that’s relevant to your niche and worthy of curating. Luckily, this post is jam-packed with tools to do just that.
  • Filtering:  This is where you sort the wheat from the chaff. Anyone can find a bucket load of content, but top curators add a filter of human analysis to make sure they’re sharing something valuable.  
  • Repackaging: Your curated content needs to look good. It needs to be well branded, consistently presented, easy to navigate and enticing enough for your audience to click through to the original content.
  • Existing content:  This can be blog posts, articles, videos, books, reviews, podcasts, music, infographics, lists, news, images — anything that is currently on the Internet, including your own content.
  • Specific audience: If you are doing any form of online marketing, you are serving a specific audience. Curated content is no different.  Their goals and intentions should be at the epicenter of your curation strategy.
  • Share:  You can share curated content in several ways. On social media, in a blog, a website, YouTube or an email newsletter. Or go for a combination — whatever works for your audience.
  • Add value:  This is at the heart of content curation. You need to make sense of it for your audience by putting it in context with their interests and lives. In its most basic form, this can be a summary of the content to allow readers to get the gist of the subject matter, but it should be an original summary created by you.
  • Save them time:  You are preparing and presenting content they need in an easy to digest format, which means they don’t have to go schlepping through the web to find it for themselves.
The Benefits of Content Curation It Makes You a Trusted Authority

When you consistently curate relevant content for your audience — and add value with your insights — you become a go-to person for your topic.  

Before long, your audience will turn to you as one of their trusted sources because you know how to filter out the noise and deliver what’s important. You’re making it easier and faster to find what they’re looking for.

Example: Social Media Today is a website and daily newsletter with 104k subscribers. In addition to curating the top news stories and publishing their own articles, they also provide information on industry events and jobs and run regular Twitter chats on all things related to social media marketing.
It Builds Your Credibility

Most businesses publish original content as part of their online marketing strategy. And that’s still a great approach. But sometimes it’s good to combine your advice with those of others. Curating work by other experts proves you care enough about your audience to bring them the best content — not just your own voice — which gives you greater credibility.

Example:  If anyone has the right to voice his own opinions it’s Brian Clark of CopyBlogger fame, one of the world’s most influential blogs. But Brian also chooses to share curated content through his weekly email Unemployable for freelancers. It is this generosity of time and knowledge that boosts his credibility and pays back big time when it comes to selling his fee-generating services.
It Establishes Connections with Influencers

Every time you curate content produced by an influencer or include their expert opinion in a curated list post of your own, you are endorsing their views and opening them up to a new audience.

It also helps put you on their radar.

You can draw their attention by tagging them on social media when you share their work, or emailing them a link to your curated blog post. Content curation is a great way to build solid relationships with top influencers in your niche, but only if you get it right.  Like this:

Example: Mashable.com is a digital media site, which published a guest post by Aaron Orendorff about growth hacking strategies.  In it he curates advice from 25 influencers and includes their headshots and links back to their sites.  The post received a total of 4.4k shares across social media, and I bet I know where 25 of those came from.
It Makes You a Trend Spotter

When you spend a couple of hours a day sourcing relevant and interesting content, you can’t help but increase your knowledge. You’ll start recognizing patterns and trends as they’re happening, and gaps in existing content you might be able to fill.

Not only does this add value for your audience, but it also makes you a credible expert in your niche and one to watch.

Example: CB Insights mines massive amounts (I’m talking terabytes) of data to identify and make sense of emerging technology and business trends for its customers. And it puts this to good use by sharing its often-irreverent insights and curated findings in its free daily newsletter to over 537,000 subscribers.
It Can Boost Your Google Ranking (When You Get It Right)

Many people think curated content could harm your Google ranking because it’s seen as duplicate content. And that’s true, if you do nothing but reproduce the original.  

But content curation is all aboutadding value.

Here’s proof.  The folks at Bruce Clay Inc. ran a test to see what ranking Google would give to curated content on their blog versus the original. You can read the full details here.

Bottom line: When they reproduced the original post without adding value, the ranking went down from 4th place to 10th. But when they published an excerpt of the original with theirown summary and links, the ranking shot up to 1st place — even higher than the original post.

Example: SmartBrief.com  (“We read everything. You get what matters.”) is a curator of industry news. It’s easy to navigate with every piece of content summarized in their own words, which adds value for their readers and brownie points with Google.
It Can Help Build Your Social Media Following, Faster

As a curator, your output of content will increase, giving you a lot more to Tweet about on a regular basis. But remember, always aim to add value, not simply retweet or share.

Example: TheSkimm is a curated subscription service for female millennials — over 7 million subscribers. It delivers its content via audio, video, an app, and of course, social media:  They have 608k followers on Instagram, 246k on Twitter, over 1.1m likes and followers on Facebook, and 465k views on YouTube.  That’s an impressive social media presence.
It Can Grow Communities and Conversations

Great content curation encourages debate and feedback.  When you add your own insights and respond to audience comments by providing them with more of what they want, it can attract other like-minded people to your knowledge “hug.”

They come not just to seek information from you but also to share content and support each other.

Example: TED.com is one of the best-known global communities. At its core, it’s a curator of ideas, or as they put it in their mission statement: “We’re building a clearinghouse of free knowledge from the world’s most inspired thinkers — and a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.” With an online community of tens of thousands, over 11 million Twitter followers, and 35 people watching a TED Talk every second, I reckon they’ve accomplished their mission.
The Myths of Content Curation It Saves You a Truckload of Time

When done properly, the full process of content curation can take just as much time as creating original content. Sometimes more.

You have to source, repackage and share a ton of information. Sure, this can be done more efficiently with automated tools. But you must also spend time filtering the content, adding insight and perspective, and building relationships with influencers and other publishers.

This is where the real value of content curation kicks in. And it takes time.

With curation, the volume of your published and shared content will increase, but your ability to spend more time with your feet up enjoying a beer won’t.

So, don’t become a content curator if your sole purpose is to save time.

All You Have to Do Is Find Relevant Content and Pump It out to Your Subscribers

If you just share every blog post and article you find on your topic without any filtering, you can do more harm than good to your brand and reputation.

The content you curate will reflect directly on your credibility and reputation, so choose wisely.

You Never Have to Worry About Creating Your Own Content Again

Undoubtedly, content curation is a great way to build authority in your niche, but it’s rare to find a site that relies 100% on curated content. Research has shown that creating your own content is more valuable regarding conversions.

And let’s face it. That’s one of the main reasons we do content marketing of any kind.

The research is explained by Tristan Handy in this post, who says the ratio for publishing curated v. original content on social media is around 60:40.

This isn’t a hard and fast rule, and everyone needs to find their own sweet spot, but it’s not a bad guideline if you’re just starting out.

Content Curation Strategy: How to Get Results Give Your Audience What It Wants

What are they looking for when they seek information? What are they sharing on social media? Are they looking for comparisons and reviews, or the latest industry trends? Do they want to be entertained, inspired or informed?

If you don’t have an existing audience, read this post.  If you do have an audience, but you’re still not sure what they’re looking for, read this post.

Example: Further.com is a curated weekly email targeted directly at Generation X, by Brian Clark, one of the most influential Generation X-ers on the net. He knows what they’re thinking, feeling and aspiring to, and he delivers in spades.
Source Valuable Content

Overwhelming as it seems when you start out, sourcing great content is not hard, especially with so many automated tools at your fingertips.    

RSS feed readers are the first go-to source of content for curators. Using tools such as Flipboard allows you to search by URL or topic and collate your content into categories.

Social media is the next main source, and again you have a myriad of tools at your disposal. For example, Social Searcher is a free platform that allows you to search by hashtags or topics and brings up every post published on the major social media sites.

Or you can create a Twitter list to collate the accounts you follow.

Find the right tools from the list below for your content sourcing and collating purposes, and remember to stay focused when you go searching. You can easily disappear down a rabbit warren of irrelevant information.

And finally, don’t forget your own blog or social media pages as a source of content.

Select posts that have done well in the past and may resonate with a new audience. Or think about repurposing or updating an old post.  Here’s a great example of curating your content from Copyblogger.

Filter Your Content

Content curation without filtering is a no-no. This is part of the process that’s going to demand time and attention, but it’s worth it.

Once you have a good collection of content, filter each piece through these questions:

  • Is it well written or produced?
  • Is it relevant to my audience? Does it satisfy a need or curiosity of theirs?
  • Is it timely, or has it been recently updated?
  • Is it in context with everything else I have published or curated?
  • Will it reflect well on my brand?

If the answer is yes, keep that piece of content and move on to the next step. If it’s no, dump it.

Always Add Value

There’s one more important consideration before you hit that share button.  You need to add value.

You know the content is worthy of sharing because you’ve filtered it. Now you need to tell your audience why.  The following are some of the ways you can add value:

  • Add a brief introduction in your own words.
  • Put it in context for your audience. Make them understand why you think it’s important for them to see.
  • Highlight something specific in the article.
  • Change the headline using the language and voice your audience would relate to.
  • Likewise, think about using a different image to add your own personality or perspective to the original.
  • Add a call to action or a link to a relevant post or free download of your own to give them further information relevant to the curated piece. Doing so also helps to keep your original content on their radar.
Make It Look Good

Think about a museum curator. Their job is to present an exhibition of works in a manner that makes sense.

They encourage visitors in by making the collection look enticing. They often separate subcategories by rooms or open spaces. They add information and insights to each piece and present them in a logical flow.

They don’t take random artworks, dump them in the middle of a room and expect visitors to work it out for themselves. Neither should you.  

Think about how you’ll best present your curated content on your website or in a newsletter.

And above all, make sure you consistently represent and reflect your brand, whether that’s through the use of your logo and colors, your voice, the language you use or the content you curate.

Example: brainpickings.com by Maria Popova is a fine example of a well-presented and branded website with some of the most thoughtful and insightful curations on the web today.
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It’s an addiction like any other.

Ten or twenty bucks will scratch that itch, but the high never lasts, and before long you’re craving the next hit.

And the worst part? Nobody understands.

Except just maybe a fellow addict…

“Hello. My name is Glen, and I’m a domain name junkie. My last domain purchase was three weeks, four days and seven hours ago.”

That’s how I’d introduce myself to the support group. (You know, the one that doesn’t exist yet.) I’d stand up and tell my story to a circle of fellow addicts, who’d nod their silent support.

My own addiction started with an act of vanity — I acquired the .COM version of my own name. That was 17 years ago, and owning a piece of Internet real estate was novel and exciting.

But that first domain registration, like the first high from an illicit drug, set me on the path to dependency.

The Telltale Signs of a Destructive Domain Habit

Like many addicts, I failed to acknowledge my problem until it was too late.

For years I told myself buying domains was just a harmless hobby. Something to do on evenings and weekends to help unwind after work. But over time my hobby became a powerful obsession.

I’d wake up each morning with a head full of new domain ideas and a burning desire to check their availability. At social occasions, I’d sneak out of the room to browse domain resale sites on my smartphone.

And despite plans to become a savvy domain “flipper,” I was selling almost none of the domains I bought, instead keeping them for personal use.

Eventually, my behavior became more erratic. I would buy any domains I could get my hands on — .ORGs, .COs, even .INFOs.

One Monday morning I hit rock bottom when I found a dozen GoDaddy receipts in my inbox for domains that had no practical purpose. Worse still, I couldn’t even remember buying them.

These days I’m on the road to recovery, and my mission is to help other addicts.

So take a careful look at the list below, and see if you recognize any of these destructive behaviors.

If so, you might just be a domain name junkie.

#1. You Just Can’t Quit GoDaddy

When you’re a domain name junkie, you struggle to think about anything else. You spend every idle moment brainstorming cool domains for your “someday, one day” online projects.

And once an idea has surfaced, you simply must know — is the name already taken? It doesn’t matter where you are, at work, at home, even in bed. You have to know.

When you discover the domain has already been taken (the good ones usually are), you start the search for viable alternatives.

And once you’ve dived down the rabbit hole, you can hardly crawl back out.

#2. You Lie About How Many Domains You Own

When you start collecting domains, it’s fun to log in to your account and delight in the breadth of your online kingdom.

But one day you reach the point where that list of domains is a painful reminder of a habit that’s out of control.

When your partner catches you buying yet another domain and casually asks, “How many is that now?” you pretend you don’t know, or deliberately lowball the true number.

But of course, lying is a telltale sign your casual hobby has turned into a serious problem.

#3. You’ve Started Dabbling in the Newer TLDs

In the beginning (well, 1985), just six top-level domains (TLDs): .COM, .ORG, .NET, .EDU, .GOV and .MIL existed, but that list has since snowballed.

Today we have more than 1,500 TLDs including .COFFEE, .LAWYER and .PORN.

On the one hand, domains are more plentiful than ever, and even if your dream .COM is long gone, you have hundreds of other options for snagging a snappy name.

On the other hand,  who knows how much prestige these newer domains will hold over the longer term? Nobody wants to build their blog around the domain equivalent of a pet rock.

Some domain junkies won’t look beyond .COM, but if you’re exploring the murkier end of the market (.CM anyone?), it might be a sign that your hobby’s taking a worrying turn.

#4. You Tell Yourself You’re a “Domain Investor”

When your domain account lists tens (or even hundreds) of seemingly random domain purchases, there are two ways to explain it.

Either it’s the result of years of clueless impulse buying from a click-happy domain junkie with no more strategy than a half-blind pigeon pecking in the dirt.

Or it’s the culmination of a strategic acquisition campaign to build a valuable portfolio of undervalued digital assets for future sale.

Not surprisingly, most domain name “enthusiasts” favor the second version.

But deep down, if you suspect there’s very little method to your madness, it might be time to go cold turkey on domains.

#5. You Read the Thesaurus… for Fun

Not every domain you dream up will be available for registration. The truth is, most won’t.

That’s why a thesaurus is a domain collector’s best friend. In fact, uncovering snappy synonyms for your latest near-miss idea can be a lot of fun.

But if a thesaurus has become your favorite bedtime read (you know, just in case a cool domain idea jumps out) it may be time to seek professional help.

Because — wake up call! — it’s a reference book, not the latest Jack Reacher.

#6. You Secretly Stalk the Person Who Owns YourName.com

I was lucky. I grabbed my personal domain before anyone else could.

But if you have a popular birth name, or you were just too slow to the punch, your best options may already have gone. And that really stings.

Because when your name’s John Brown, telling people your treasured home on the Internet is TheRealJohnWBrown.info is plain embarrassing.

And that’s why you secretly stalk the person who nabbed your name online. You stake out their website, mentally mocking their pathetic efforts while waiting patiently for the right moment to pounce.

Because one day, they’ll forget to renew that domain and then, my friend, victory will be yours.

#7. You’ve Felt the Pain of “Lapsers Remorse”

Sometimes you see a domain for what it is — a dumb impulse purchase you’ll never be able to use or resell.

Maybe you tried to make money by listing it for sale at a couple of domain marketplaces but didn’t get the faintest sniff of interest.

So when it comes up for renewal, you do the sensible thing and let it lapse. You even feel good about your level-headed decision.

Weeks later, you casually check to see if anyone’s re-registered it and find it’s now listed on a “premium domains” site for $3,000!

Of course, just because it’s listed for thousands doesn’t mean it’s worth thousands.

But you can’t escape the feeling you let a valuable domain slip through your fingers.

#8. You’re Considering a Domain-Inspired Career Move

Sometimes you’ll stumble across a domain name that’s so good you simply have to own it… even though it’s totally unrelated to your work or hobbies.

The smart move would be to snag it and sell it for a profit to someone who can make good use of it. But like Gollum and that damned ring, you can’t quite bring yourself to part with it.

So your brain starts to explore a future possible world where you become the person for whom this is the perfect domain.

Sure it means throwing away years of hard-won experience and starting a blog in a new field.

But finding a domain this good must be a signal from the universe, right?

#9. You Lose Interest in Domains Moments After Buying Them

Once the buzz of snagging the name you’ve been lusting after subsides, a faint sense of regret can quickly follow.

“I can’t believe nobody bought this yet,” quickly turns to, “I can’t believe I just bought that.”

And the longer you hold onto a domain, the more money you rack up in wasted renewal fees.

The best way to take your mind off this painful predicament? Start scouting for your next domain name.

#10. You Have a Conspiracy Theory about Domain Registrars

Maybe this happened to you…

One day you check a new domain and find it available for the regular price. The next day it’s suddenly a “premium” domain, commanding several thousand dollars.

And you can’t help but wonder:

Did my search alert the registrar to the juicy potential of this previously unrecognized name?

You wouldn’t be alone in your suspicions. Type “do domain registrars” into Google and “steal domains?” is the top auto-complete suggestion.

Are registrars capable of dirty tricks like this? Maybe. It’s difficult to be sure.

But paranoid thoughts like these might be the first sign your harmless hobby is turning into a dangerous addiction.

Learn to Spot the Signs of Addiction Before It’s Too Late

Domain name addiction is real. And it can wreck your life if you don’t catch it in time.

If you suspect you might be addicted, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you visit domain registration sites several times a day?
  • Do you lie to friends and family about how many domains you own?
  • Do you often “binge” and buy multiple domains at once?

If so, you’re likely a domain name junkie.

The good news? With the right support, a full recovery is possible.

But you must take that crucial first step. Acknowledge your addiction.

So repeat after me:

“I’m a domain name junkie. And today’s the day I get help.”

About the Author: Glen Long is Smart Blogger’s operations guy and a recovering domain name junkie. He’s holding a “yard sale” of the best blogging, copywriting and content marketing domains that he’s collected over the years — go check it out.

The post 10 Things You’ll Only Understand If You’re a Domain Name Junkie appeared first on Smart Blogger.

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You’ve seen it for yourself. These days, there are a gazillion different ways to broadcast your thoughts online.

Blogging, podcasting, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat — the options are overwhelming. Are you supposed to do all of them? If not, which ones are most important? What if you are talented in one medium and terrible in another?

ARGH! It’s so confusing.

Well, here’s the good news:

In this post, I’ll do my best to answer those questions. Even better, I’ll give you answers that include taking things off your plate, not putting more things on.

In other words, everything is about to get a whole lot simpler. Let’s jump in.

Why Trying to Do Everything at Once Is a Mistake

Some influencers are doing it all. They have a blog, podcast, YouTube channel, a bunch of social media accounts with tons of followers — everything.

From the outside, it’s impressive. You might even think that’s what you have to do if you want to make money online.

But here’s a little secret:

Behind the scenes, most of those influencers are paying entire teams of helpers. In the rare case where they are doing everything themselves, it also leaves them without any time to monetize all that content, so many “social media influencers” are actually broke.

The reason why?

No one gets more than 24 hours in a day. It doesn’t matter how smart, fast, or multi-talented you are — you’ll never be able to do everything well.

You have to choose. The question is… how?

How to Figure out What to Focus on

Thankfully, this one is simple. Just answer one question:

In what medium can you develop a top 1% skillset?

At first glance, this might seem like a strange question, but let’s break it down.

There are three types of media: the written word, audio, and video. Chances are, you’ll be better at one than the others.

For example, writing has always come naturally to me. Even when I was in school, I could write essays 10X better than everyone else and barely exert myself at all.

For you, maybe it’s something different.

Maybe engaging people with your voice and having interesting conversations comes naturally to you. In that case, you should start a podcast.

Or maybe you’re captivating on video. Ever since you were a kid, you’ve been a natural entertainer.

Wherever you shine, that’s the medium you should focus on.

But here’s the caveat:

Don’t just jump in and expect to be successful. Success with any kind of content marketing isn’t about being good. It’s about being among the best.

Here’s what I mean:

The Staggering Difference between Being Good and Being Great

Once upon a time, I was an NFL (American football) junkie, and I was always intrigued by the pay difference between players.

The star of your team might make $20 million a year. The backup to your star, however, might make $2 million or even less.

Was this because the star was 10X better?

Not even close. In a professional sport, even the backup players are among the best in the world. At best, a star might be 50% better than his replacement.

So why do they pay him 10X more?

Because games are a matter of matchups. One player being just a little bit better than his opponent can mean the difference between winning and losing. If you have an entire team of players who are just a tiny bit better, you win the Super Bowl.

You see the same thing in the Olympics. The silver medal runner might be just a fraction of a second behind the gold medal winner.

And content marketing works the same way.

The rewards go to the best of the best. You can be a good writer or podcaster or YouTuber and have mediocre or even terrible results.

In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and say something controversial:

If you’re not prepared to be among the best in your niche, content marketing isn’t going to do anything for you at all. You might as well quit.

Before you get too discouraged though, here’s the other side of the coin:

If you diligently upgrade your skills over time in a medium where you have some natural talent, you can almost always be among the best.

Let me explain…

How I Became One of the Most Popular Writers on the Web

Over the last decade, my work has touched over 200 million people — about 1 out of 8 people in the English-speaking world.

Crazy, right? Obviously, I must have some secret.

But I don’t. I followed the exact method I’m teaching you here.

I recognized I was a naturally talented writer, so then I spent years improving my writing skills to the point of being among the best in the world. It took me about three years to begin to get noticed and another two years after that for people to start thinking of me as “the blogging guy.”

During those years of practice, I wrote 1,000 words every single day. In the first year, I also wrote 100 headlines per day. Added to that, I spent one or two hours per day reading the work of other top bloggers, dissecting why they were popular, and deliberately practicing incorporating their techniques into my own work.

It’s the same process an athlete uses to become an elite player in their sport. Identify natural talent, practice like hell, and then do your best to be in the right place at the right time.

Content marketing is no different. It’s a sport, and there are winners and losers.

The medium doesn’t matter. Blogging, podcasting, YouTube — the vast majority of the rewards go to the people at the top.

The question is, are you willing to put in the work to get there?

It doesn’t always have to take three years as it did for me. I spent a lot of time running in circles because I didn’t have anyone to guide me. With the right coach, you can progress much, much faster.

And that brings me to my most important point.

The Formula for Being an Insanely Successful Person

It’s all about stacking top 1% skills.

Let’s say you have some natural talent as a writer. You invest in some good training, work like hell, and gradually become a top 1% writer.

But that’s not the end of the story.

Now you’re getting lots of traffic, but you’re not making much money, and you realize it’s because your marketing sucks. So again, you invest in some good training, work like hell, and gradually become a top 1% marketer.

Again though, it’s not the end of the story.

Because now, you’re making some pretty good money, but you’re working night and day, and you want to hire someone to help you. Problem is, you’re a terrible manager and leader, but again, you decide to suck it up, invest in some good training, work like hell, and gradually become a top 1% CEO.

The above story isn’t a fairytale, by the way. It’s the story of the last 10 years of my life.

And it’s actually a pretty common story. Regardless of profession, the most successful people in any field get there by stacking 1% skills on top of each other.

So, let’s bring this full circle:

When to Branch out into Podcasting or YouTube

Assuming you’re a blogger, you should wait until you’ve mastered blogging.

Let’s take me as an example.

I’ve spent the last couple of years improving my skills as a CEO. It’s been a painful, gradual process, but I think I’m starting to “get it,” and that’s one of the reasons why the company is now growing faster than it has in years.

Am I among the top 1%? Not quite, but according to these stats, I’m getting pretty close. I think it’s just a matter of time.

So, what’s next?

I’ll pick another media and become the top 1% there. I have some natural talent with podcasting as well, so that’s probably the next skill to stack on top. On the other hand, I don’t think I have much natural talent with video, so the chances of me starting a YouTube channel where I’m the star are pretty slim.

And that’s fine. We don’t have to be great at everything.

The key is to be great at one thing… and then another thing… and then another thing.

If your first “thing” is writing, I’m your man. We have some of the best training there is for writers, and we’re expanding it all the time.

But do me a favor…

Don’t start a podcast or YouTube channel while you’re trying to learn how to write. That’s the equivalent of someone training for an Olympic marathon deciding to become an Olympic swimmer and skier all at the same time.

That’s never going to happen. Not unless you’re inhuman, anyway.

So, pick just one medium. Focus on it. Get really, really, really great at it.

And then enjoy the rewards of being at the top.

About the Author: Jon Morrow is the CEO of Smart Blogger. Check out his new blog Unstoppable and read the launch post that went viral: 7 Life Lessons from a Guy Who Can’t Move Anything but His Face.

The post Why You Shouldn’t Start a Podcast or YouTube Channel (Seriously) appeared first on Smart Blogger.

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