Blogging Tips and Tricks | Craig Ford’s Interview with Craig Ford

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Since I’ve been reflecting on one year of blogging – today I wanted to share some of my reflections on the actual process of blogging.  This may be of some interest to my regular reader, but is mostly geared towards fellow bloggers.

I feel a little embarrassed to do a post like this – acting like I have something to say on the topic of blogging.  I spend most of my time listening to the blogging advice from others because sometimes I feel like I have no idea what is going on in the blogging world.

Blogging Lessons from One Year of Blogging

Craig Interviewer: Good morning Craig.  First of all let me say congrats on surviving a year of blogging. 

Craig Blogger: Thanks so much.

Craig Interviewer: What is the biggest blogging regret?

Craig Blogger:  OK.  So you want to start with the bad news?  Fine by me.  I’ve actually got two big blogging regrets.  The first is that I didn’t start sooner.  This has been an absolutely fantastic journey.  I’ve enjoyed every moment and I only wish I had started sooner.  Second, I would have picked a different domain name.  I’m not exactly crazy about Money Help For Christians, but I’m sort of stuck with it.  I do get a massive amount of emails from people who want ‘money help’ and they are not looking for advice.

Craig Interviewer: What is the hardest thing about blogging?

Craig Blogger:  I’ve found it hard to get away from the blog.  My mind often reflects on topic post ideas or upcoming changes.  I wish I didn’t think about it so much.  Also, I’ve found myself thinking that I’ve missed something.  I keep having the feeling that everyone else has the blogging thing figured out and I’m just working like crazy and getting no results.  Then of course there is sleep.  Getting up early and staying up late has been hard.

Craig Interviewer: What is the key to anything positive that has happened on this blog?

Craig Blogger:  First of all, I’ve done something that I love and I am doing something that I believe is a ministry to Christians. 
[pullquote]Serving God in your giftedness is a fantastic feeling.[/pullquote]

Also, I learned quickly was that since I like to write I usually write a lot of posts every week.  I tried to use that to my advantage so I started doing a lot of guest posting.  I think that has been a key to the good things that have happened at MH4C.  I haven’t done much guest posting lately as I’ve been focusing on paid guest posting for other sites.  However, I’m thinking about going on a guest posting blitz in the future.

I would also say that surrounding myself with great blogging mentors was important.  I’ve got to have some fantastic conversations with guys who have given me some fantastic feedback.  I’d especially like to thank Bob at Christianpf.  We Skype once a month and his feedback has been tremendously helpful.  I’ve also Skyped with Ryan from Cash Money Life.  Peter from Bible Money Matters has provided me with some great feedback via email. 

Most recently I’ve had a lot of help from the Money Mavens Network.  That partnership has been amazing.  We have our own private forum and the things that are being shared in that forum is absolutely amazing.  I’ve been implementing some of the tips and I’ve seen some unbelievable results on my blog. 

Craig Interviewer: Any especially juicy tips you want to share?

Craig Blogger:  Sure.  Here are a couple of small changes that I’ve made to my site which resulted in very positive results.  At around the same time I joined the Money Mavens Network and then installed the related websites plug-in.  Almost immediately, my search engine traffic increased.  Thanks to Tom at Canadian Finance Blog for sharing his plugins. 

Based on some advice from Mike at The Oblivious Investor I cleaned up a lot of the links on my homepage.  The result?  Another increase in search traffic. 

For anyone using Adsense if you don’t know about A/B testing let me know and I’ll share the code that Bob at Christianpf passed along.  I was able to see some increased Adsense income when I started doing some A/B testing. 

Craig Interviewer: What tools have helped you achieve your blogging goals?

Craig Blogger: When I started blogging I decided that I would use some of the income to invest back into the business I’ve tried several paid products and these are my favorites:

Aweber Email

Several months ago I switched from Feedburner to Aweber.  I love how Aweber allows me to customize so many things related to my feed.  They also have some great subscriber forms.  Since switching to Aweber around the start of the year my subscriber list has doubled.  [pullquote]I only wish I signed up for Aweber months ago.[/pullquote]
AWeber - Email Marketing Made Easy   Click here to get a $1 free trial.

 

Scribe SEO

SEO Copywriting Report

Brian Clark who owns Scribe SEO actually just made a completely free PDF document called “How to Create Compelling Content that Ranks Well in Search Engines.”  Click here to grab your free SEO copywriting report.  By the way, I would be CERTAIN to read through the entire document because it has a killer ending.
[pullquote]Scribe SEO is a paid product, but for the time it saves and traffic it generates I give it two thumbs up.[/pullquote]

 

Since using Scribe I’ve found that most of my posts (that I’m trying to rank for) land on Google page 1 or 2.  After getting Scribe I now have more posts on Google pages 1 and 2 than I got ranked in my first 8 months of blogging. 

Thesis Theme

MH4C has had 4 different themes.  I discovered Thesis and I love it.  I don’t think I’ll ever look at another theme.  I have since installed it on my travel blog.  Since I’m not a tech guy I love the hooks and the ease of customization.  [pullquote]If you are on the market for a clean, easy to use, SEO optimized theme you need to check out Thesis.[/pullquote]
Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community

Craig Interviewer: Thanks for taking the time for this interview.  Is there anything else you’d like to add before we conclude?

Craig Blogger: Yes.  I’d just like to add that the the tools answer above does have affiliate links.  One of the things that I love about blogging is that I get to promote products that really help me.  That is such an ideal win – win situation.  Also, I just want to thank everyone who endured this interview to the bitter end.

Comments

  1. says

    Great, creative post Craig! You are one hard-working blogger, and I appreciate the tips and ideas. You’ve been a good source of advice for me and so I appreciate what you have to say!!

    Thanks again!! I’ll be looking into a few of your tools here.

    • says

      @Jason
      Thanks for the positive comment. I should have spent more time fully exploring everything I do and use, but I didn’t want to completely ignore my regular readers. I figured my blogging buddies would enjoy the post.

  2. says

    Craig, I think you finally lost it! ;)

    I wouldn’t worry too much about the site name, it has some good keywords… as you pointed out, people come looking for “money help”. Hard to beat that for targeted traffic!

    • says

      @Tom
      Ha. I do like that I have some good keywords. I just wish I didn’t get so many emails asking for me to send checks all around the world :).

  3. says

    I have been learning a lot through your website and have enjoyed everything I have read so far, and thanks to this post I have also installed the “Related Websites” plugin. I’m currently only making about 5 cents a day from my site, but I really hope I can generate some real income one day. This is part of the road to financial independence!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • says

      @Kevin
      I didn’t say much about monitization in this post, but I took me a long time to earn enough income where I could say it was worth the effort. In fact, I waited 3 months before putting up any ads.

      • says

        / Share This! button will allow you to share posts here on ANY soiacl network or blog. There is a search bar inside the actual widget itself if you can’t find your favorite network right away.

  4. says

    But now I believe you have reached the point where you do it as a full-time job, right? At some point, it just shot up like a hockey stick. For me, I would personally be happy with a decent side income; I’m not yet looking to quit my job, though in 5 to 10 years time we’ll see where things are ;)

    I enjoy reading your blog; keep up the good work!

  5. says

    Hi Craig,

    I enjoyed reading your “blogging tips and tricks” and have a couple questions.

    You mentioned using AWeber Communications, which is $20 a month. I also read your comparison Aweber vs MailChimp

    You also mentioned using Scribe: SEO and their pricing is: $27, $47 or $97 per month, (depending on package).

    Let me begin by saying that I have heard great reviews from AWeber & Scribe, however they are currently out of my budget.

    My questions are:
    1. How much income should a website earn before using “pay” products? I personally vacillate between the old adages, “It takes money to make money,” but then Accounting 101 kicks in, “Don’t spend it before you make it.”
    2. Are there other monthly fees you spend for your website operation that are advantageous?
    3. For people like me, on a shoestring budget – When do you take the plunge?

    Thank you so much for your time. You don’t have to answer everything if you don’t have time. I found your post on Planting Dollars and followed you here since I always want to learn more about websites and blogging.

    In closing, I know AWeber & Scribe are great, I’m just don’t know how to justify the expense yet. Do you remember being at that point?
    Thanks for listening!

    • says

      - What an awesome way to come back into the world of bgogling! It’s so exciting to see you post some great images and let us into some of your incredible work. You are so good at what you do!

  6. says

    I read the interview to the end, and it wasn’t bitter! Congrats again on your successful year. I’ve learned a few things from you myself, and you’ve always been responsive to my emails.

    Thanks for sharing some of your tips. I’m going to try to implement a few of them!

  7. says

    @Scott
    Scott,
    Thanks for the questions.
    For the Scribe thing if you are seriously thinking about it read the free PDF I linked to in the post. All I can say is read all the way to the end of the PDF (How to Create Compelling Content that Ranks Well in Search Engines) and you will be happy you did.
    Re #1
    When I started I decided other than the initial set up fees I was going to let the business cash flow itself. I didn’t pay for any products until I had paid for all my hosting costs. From there I saved up enough to buy Thesis. Eventually, I was making enough to pay for Aweber. Then Scribe fit into my budget.
    It was a good risk free approach, but now I wish I had helped covered the costs earlier because those changes would have been more beneficial to me now. For blogging products I buy based on what I get not what I spend. However, had I quit after 6 months it would have been a complete waste of money.
    #2 – Other than hosting fees I pay for e-junkie.com where I sell me eBooks. The cost is $5 a month, but only useful if you have a product to sell. I pay for the Problogger forum, but don’t use it a lot. It only costs $1.95 per month. Beyond those things it is only Aweber and Scribe.
    #3 – When to take the plunge. Depends on your business approach and risk tolerance.
    I cash flowed and basically didn’t take anything home in 6 months of blogging. It might have led to slower progress, but I didn’t lose any money on products I purchase. In my case I also have a couple of sites so each purchase was able to be used for both sites.
    I hope this helps.

  8. says

    I had an email question that asked what I meant by “cleaning up links”. Here is my response:
    Here’s what I’ve just recently figured out – with the help of Mike from obliviousinvestor.com. When you visit his site he has a minimal number of links. When someone links to your homepage that link juice is split between the # of links your have so that each page gets a drop of link juice. However, if you reduce the total number of links each might get a gush of link juice. As such, including money making + ranking articles only on the home page is essential.

    Here were things that I removed – categories, consolidated about/contact page, footer with month archives, footer with other useless links … Basically if it wasn’t necessary, wasn’t a money maker, wasn’t raking in Google I took it out. In the end I had few enough things on my homepage I was able to go back to one column like I have now. I think overall it looks a lot cleaner.

    http://www.seomoz.org/blog/link-consolidation-the-new-pagerank-sculpting

    http://www.pearsonified.com/2008/02/what_every_blogger_needs_to_know_about_categories.php

    Quoted from the article above. “Being presented with more choices, even good ones, can hinder effective action. In one study, doctors couldn’t make a decision when a second promising drug showed up. — Fast Company, November 2007”

    I recently saw a post about sellers set up a table in the grocery store and on day one they had 24 jam options. Sold 10%. The second day they had 4 options and sold 25%. The moral is that people are more likely to purchase when they have less options. As a result, I’m trying to ‘tell’ my readers where I want them to read by giving them less choices so they land on my money making pages.

  9. says

    @Kevin
    Hey, I wish I did this fulltime, but I’m still just making a few dollars a month. That’s why I didn’t spend much time on monitization.

  10. says

    Craig, thanks so much for sharing what worked and what you wished you did differently.

    I bought the Thesis theme earlier this year and really don’t understand how to use it effectively. Is there a resource you would recommend that taught you how to use hooks, etc.?

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