Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Basic Guide to Self-Hosting


A Simple Program for Planning a Website

A lot of people think that building a blog is easy and doesn't require much work.  Wrong! Constructing a website without any clear plan is like building a ship without blueprints.  So many things can get missed out, deadlines can be missed and things can go in the wrong place.  It doesn't matter whether you're new to blogging or a seasoned veteran this simple guide will help you plan and lay the groundwork for your prospective website.

What is the Purpose of Your Website?

Is it to open a store online? Increase publicity for your business?  For a charitable cause?  An important step in starting a website is deciding what it's purpose is, and who your target audience is.  You need to start setting out your goal and what kind of visitor numbers to expect each month.  The number of people you expect to sign up for your newsletter.  How much money do you expect to make?  Give yourself goals that can be measured that are in line with your marketing goals.  You can use an analytics tool like Google Analytics to monitor your websites performance.

Click here to download your PDF of The Basic Guide to Self-Hosting to read later.

Establish a Budget

Setting a budget is really important for any website start-up.  Even if it's just paying business insurance monthly and website costs yearly it all matters.  You need to write down the things you need in your budget such as design, programming and web hosting.  Do your research thoroughly, ask professionals.  Get a feel for your own chosen field.  How do other website owners run their websites?

Devise a Content Strategy

Decide what kind of content you'll be creating.  This can include:
  • Embedded social media feeds
  • Slideshows
  • A gallery or pictures
  • Video
  • Documents
  • Blog posts
You need to work out how often you want to publish content on your website, whether its weekly or monthly.  You may need to hire a writer who is experienced in writing content online.



Organizing Your Website

Figure out what pages are required for your website, do you need an About or a Contact page?  Whatever you choose should meet your websites needs.

Devise a Mock-Up

If your website is complicated create a mock-up or wireframe, this is an outline for your website.  You can create this in Photoshop, not much detail is required.  Don't worry about the details, this is the first draft to give everyone an idea of your website.

Begin Designing

A well-designed website will encourage visitor's, an ugly and poorly planned website will drive visitor's away.  Here are some basic concepts to keep in mind:
  • Create easy navigation
  • Make your fonts easy-to-read.  Keeps text and background colours simple and easy to contrast
  • Make sure your website is responsive to all screen sizes
  • Keep it light and easy to load
  • Make the company logo and tag line easily seen on the page
  • Styles and colours should be consistent throughout the website
  • All copy should be clear and concise, information such as a newsletter sign up form should be placed above the fold
  • Design it with the future in mind
Iron Out All the Bugs

By publishing it and testing it out, you can make sure it shows up the way you want it to in all browsers.  Try it out on your cell phone and Ipad.  Test all of your links make sure they work ok.

Manage Your Website

Once your website is up and running, its a full-time job to maintain it.  You'll understand how useful tools such as Google Webmaster tools and analytics really are for monitoring your website.  You should keep a close eye on your website daily as well as doing weekly checks with Webmaster tools to ensure everything is running smoothly.

Taking the extra time to plan your website properly is worth the investment.  In the long run it will serve you well.

How to Build a Website

If you're at the beginning stages of starting a website, it can seem like a lot of work.  Often people opt for a simpler route and hire a web designer to do the hard work for them.  With so many tools and tutorials available anyone can build a high quality blog from scratch, in less time.

There are a lot of advantages to hiring a professional to do the job for you, but many people can't afford the budget to hire someone from the very beginning.  When your website is becoming more profitable it's an investment to be looked at further down the line.

If you want a blog up and running, fully functioning as soon as possible, continue reading.  Follow me through the process of starting your first website and some of featured tools I recommend.

Setup Hosting and Domain

To begin with make sure your website is purchased and your hosting is all set up.  There are an assortment of places to purchase your domain.  Here are some well known hosting companies to start:
After your hosting and website are all setup you'll need to start thinking about your basic framework, so you can start forming the structure of your new website.

Pick the Right Framework

With many website frameworks and builders to choose from.  I've highlighted some popular choices below:

Using Hostgators Site Builder

Website builder is provided by Hostgator, that enables you to setup your website in a matter of minutes.  If you choose a shared hosting plan with Hostgator, this service is included for free within your hosting package.

Using CMS like WordPress

If you're more tech savvy and prefer to use a fully-developed management system, I recommend you give WordPress a go.  I've used it myself in the past, and it's really good!   If you've already chosen Hostgator hosting, go to your Cpanel and try out the QuickInstall process to install Wordpress for free.

If you have WordPress installed you can choose from a vast variety of paid and free themes.  Simply download the theme, upload it by going to Appearance>Add>New>Upload Theme.

Try customising your theme by navigating to Appearance>Customise within WordPress.

Create One From Scratch

Starting a website from scratch will take a lot of patience, trial and error and experimentation.  If you have the know-how already it can be a really worthwhile process.  If you like getting your hands dirty, you'll need to know some basic coding.

Resources such as CodeAcademy and W3Schools will help you learn how to code.  You'll discover what's needed to build your website including HTML, CSS, and PHP.  This will allow you to to build a website to your own specifications.

There's no harm in learning some basic coding skills even if you're not building your website from scratch.  Basic coding skills will give you a better experience when you blog because you'll know how to customise and maintain your website, no matter the platform.

HTML Cheat Sheet


Having a basic understanding of HTML will give you a huge confidence boost when you start managing your website. Being able to make simple changes yourself will not only save you time but also money, because you won't need to outsource your problem.

Look below and find a few of the most common post and site formatting options you can use when coding in HTML.

What is HTML?

Also known as Hypertext Markup Language and the main programming language of the internet, also one of the simplest to pickup.

By recognising basic HTML commands you can do things like:
  • Embed and add analytics to your website.
  • Sort out image alignment issues.
  • Format your blog post for easy readability.
  • Add advertising and widgets to your website.
You can locate your HTML files by logging into your host.

Simple HTML Tags

Every piece of code has opening and closing tags.  A command will start and end with it.  Depending upon the HTML tag you choose the opening and closing brackets will be formatted by this.

It looks like this: <p>This is a real sentence.</p>

The first <p> tag starts the sequence and it ends with the </p> tag. The final / in the closing tag is very important, without this tag your code won’t function properly and will lead to formatting errors.

 Common HTML tags are:

<strong> </strong> - For bold text or headlines.
<em> </em> - To italicize your text.
<body> </body> - For the body of your html document.
<a> </a> - Allows you to insert links.
<center> </center> - Allows you to align your text in the centre of the page. <head> </head> - This the header of your website.

    There are a lot more HTML tags you can use to change your website.  You can find more common tags below.

    Headings with HTML

    Another great formatting tip is to organise your text using various headings, this will give your blog post a logical structure.

    More common headlines are:
    • <h1> </h1> - Surrounds your page and post title. 
    • <h2> </h2> - Main headlines with your blog post will use the h2 tag. 
    • <h3> </h3> - Headlines within h2 tag will use h3 tag.
    With the above headline structure, you'll have a more logical post structure, making it easier for your readers.

    HTML Tips for Beginners

    Let's put the above information into practise.  Discover below how to properly format your text using the HTML tags highlighted above.

    Formatting Your Design

    You can make certain portions of your text stand out by using bold, underline and italicise, see below:
    • <strong> </strong> - To bold your text. 
    • <em> </em> - Italicize your text. 
    • <u> </u> - Underline your text.
    You can use these tags in your existing paragraphs to change the formatting of words, it will look something like this:

    <p>This sentence that has<strong>boldtext</strong>, <em>italic text</em>, and <u>even a bit of underlined text</u.</p>

    Linking Within Your Content

    When you add a link to your content you'll be using <a href> tag. You'll also require the URL of the website you want link to.

     A link to, let's say, Amazon.com, would look like this: <a href="https://www.Amazon.com">visit Amazon</a>. 

    Within the quotations is the site you want to link to, the text will be hyperlinked within the

    Add an Image to Your Site

    Your users will start reading your content when you add images to your blog posts.  You can do this with the code below:

    The image tag is <img src=" ">. Notice that there is no end tag for the img command.

    To pinpoint the image you'll need to upload from another point online, always make sure it's an active URL where you can visit the image.

    The code should look something like this:<img src="http//myimage.com/thisismyimage.jpg">.

    How to Align Your Text

    With the following code you'll be able to justify your text exactly how you want it.

    Use the following commands:
    • <p align="left"> </p> - Left align text within the p tags. 
    • <p align="right"> </p> - Right align text with the the p tags. 
    • <p align="centre"> </p> - Centre align the text within the p tags.
    How to Add Block quotes to Your Website

    You can break up the formatting of your content by highlighting quotes.  Creating a separation so your readers can tell you're quoting someone else.

    Simply add the <blockquote> </blockquote> tags to any content you wish to format.

    Simple Steps to Secure Your Blog from Hackers


    Once you've created your blog and you've started publishing regular blog posts, there is nothing more terrifying than seeing your work wiped out by a heinous hacker.

    If you're not already doing so, backing up your files should be a regular part of your life as a blogger or website owner.  The steps below will show you how to keep your blog safe:

    Make Sure that Your Directory and File Permissions are Properly Locked Down

    I've started with one of the most technical parts - but stay with me, this will get easier...

    Each website contains files and folders that are stored on your web hosting account.  The also contain the scripts and data to make your website work.  Each of these files and folders is appointed a set of permissions that controls who reads, writes and executes all files or folders which are all relative to the user or group to which they belong.

    With the Linux operating system, all permissions are viewable in the form of a three-digit code, each digit being an integer between 0-7.  First digit represents permissions for the owner of the file; Second digit serves as permissions for anyone assigned to the group that owns the file; Third digit represents permissions for everyone else.  See assignations below:
    • 0 equals no permissions for that user
    • 1 equals Execute
    • 2 equals Write
    • 4 equals Read
    The file that authorises a permission code that gives anyone permission on the internet the power to write and execute is less secure than one which is already locked down.

    It's best to set your permissions as follows:
    • Individual files = 644
    • Folders and directories = 755

    Double-Check Your Passwords are Secure

    Simple enough, but extremely important.

    Don't go with an easy password, some ridiculous like 123456.  A very commonly used password, you need to do a lot better than that.

    Think of something that's really unique and not personal to you .  Use a mix of special characters, letters and numbers, and make it really long!  Like I said before don't use information like your pets name, your kid's name, or anything that can be easily found from social media accounts by a hacker.

    This is the same rule for anyone in your business or close to you that has access to your website.  A weak password in your team can open your blog up to attack, that's why it's important to hold yourself and everyone else in your organisation to the same high standard.

    Apply CSP

    Cross-site scripting (XSS) is a common enemy to all bloggers and website owners alike.  Hackers will discover a weakness and a way to slip malicious JavaScript onto your pages, which then go onto infect all the pages your visitor's go to on your website that are exposed to the particular code.

    You need to make sure that any code you use on your website for all functions and fields are as clear cut as possible in what is allowed, so that you're not making yourself wide open for anything to conveniently slip in.

    CSP is another handy tool to have to protect your content.  The browser will know not to pay any attention to any malicious script the could infect your visitor's PC.

    By simply adding the correct HTTP header to your webpage, this provides a multitude of directives that tells the browser which domains are good.  You can craft your own CSP headers for your blog here through Mozilla.

    Use Prepared Statements (Parameterised Queries)

    A common blog hack many website owners have sadly fallen victim to.

    Other users can use URL parameters that are too open, open enough to hack into your database.  If you're the owner of an online store information such as credit card numbers and contact information can be easily accessed.  This is obviously in your hand's to protect as a business owner.

    But don't worry there are numerous things you can do to protect your blog from SQL injection hacks.  An easy way to do this is to implement the use of parameterised queries.  By using parametrised queries you can be assured that specific parameters have been met, so no hacker will mess with them.

    Secure Your Site with HTTPS

    Most consumers know that the green https in your browser keeps all sensitive information safe on a website.  These short letters are shorthand for safety and security on all blogs and websites, they show it's safe to give out particular sensitive information such as, financial or contact information on a particular webpage.

    If you don't already have one for your blog or website you can invest in an SSL certificate here.  Cost is usually small, but the extra level of encryption it offers to your readers and customers is priceless and will go a long way to making your website more secure and trustworthy.

    Setup security plugins

    If you're using WordPress, free plugins such as iThemes Security and Bulletproof Security will respond to weaknesses within your chosen platform.

    If you're running HTML pages or CMS-managed site check-out SiteLock.  Sitelock provides you with daily monitoring for all your hacker worries.  Providing malware detection to vulnerability identification and active virus scanning.

    With a Managed WordPress hosting plan SiteLock is already built-in along with much more to keep your website safe.

    Make sure all platforms and scripts are current

    Keeping all of your platforms and scripts up-to-date is vital, many of the tools created are open-source software programs, which are easily available to website owners with good intentions and virulent hackers.  Security loopholes can be taken advantage of by hackers who will have no problem exploiting a platform or script for weaknesses.

    Having the newest version of your platform and scripts installed will reduce of any future attacks you may encounter, and will take very little time to implement.

    How to Deal with Website Downtime


    How to Pinpoint and Avoid Website Downtime

    When your website goes down it can be a very worrying and discouraging experience to go through.  You probably think that just because your website has gone down there is something wrong with your website and nothing can be done about it.

    Protection and prevention are the best remedies when your site goes offline.  Don't worry, if the unfortunate event does occur, there are plenty of steps you can take to help offset the situation.

    This post is for you if you're looking to prevent site downtime.  I'll show you below what to do when your website goes offline and what measures you take to get through it.  By acting now and implementing the steps below you can make sure your blog or business doesn't suffer for too long due to website downtime.

    Reasons Websites Go Down

    Websites can go down for a number of different reasons.  If the cause was simple one the problem could be immediately solved.  Even massive websites like Twitter and Facebook suffer from outages every now and again, so you're not alone.

    Server Support (Maintenance)

    Often times your website will go down due to server software updates, causing an interruption to the service.

    This is usually done off-peak when traffic is quiet, depending upon the location of your server.

    Too Much Traffic

    You're host may not be able to cope with the number visitors, and is unable to handle such large volumes of traffic.

    Your website may also go down if you're using a shared host plan, and other websites using the same server are also receiving a surge in traffic.  "The bad neighbour effect" as its known is also possible, but most hosts try to prevent this from happening.

    Website Coding Mistake

    A single piece of missing code can break your site, along with many other technical errors, can take your blog offline.  If you're receiving a message that has no relation to your server, it may lie with a site plugin or theme conflict.

    Website Invasion

    A hacker may decide to flood your website with traffic, to try and bring your site offline.  Without proper security protocols your site is wide open for any hacker to take control, and take down your website.

    Free Hosted Website

    Your current website host may not be able to handle the amount of traffic, or it may just be a low-quality host needing a lot of downtime.

    How to Stop Your Website from Going Down

    Keeping your website online is in your own hands.  Learn some proactive measures you can take in the steps below to ensure your website stays online.

    Choose a Stable Host

    The uptime of your website is going to depend on the host you choose.  A low quality host will help increase downtime with your website.  A huge factor in choosing the right host depends upon how much traffic your site will receive.  You'll require a website host that can handle massive spikes of traffic or a steady volume.

    Look at a CDN

    A CDN can enhance your site in various arenas.  In peak traffic times, CDNs can act like a buffer and deter DDos from attacking.  Free CDNs like Cloudflare are a great starting point, and can improve existing hosting environments.

    Update Your Site Regularly

    If you're website requires themes and plugins make sure they're updated regularly otherwise you run the risk of leaving your website open to attack.

    Look Into a Monitoring Service

    A website monitoring service will tell you when  your site goes down.

    Remember to Renew Your Domain Name

    When it comes to the end of your yearly payment cycle make sure you set your hosting and domain name on set on auto-renew.

    Things to Do When Your Site Crashes

    If your website does go down here are few things you should do before terror sets in.

    Check It's Offline

    Make sure that your website is actually down.  Try Googling it on your mobile phone or tablet.  Phone a friend and get them to bring it up on their computer.

    Find Out the Cause

    Try to get to the root of the problem, to help determine the outage.  Have you forgotten to renew your domain or hosting?  Is it because of a surge of traffic?

    Contact Your Webhost Support

    Go to your website host and see if they can diagnose the problem.  After all that's what they're there for.  A really good host will work with you to help sort out the issue and fix it.

    Alert Users

    If you have a lot of followers relying on your blog, let them know the situation straight away.  You can do this via email or social media.  Never leave your users in the dark.

    Most of us will go through this at one time or another.  Hopefully the above tips will help minimise the problems downtime might cause.  Choosing the right host that is properly equipped will help you handle any issues that may arise.

    Everything You Need to Know About Page Speed


    Your blog page speed can naturally be seen as a reflection of the Internet Service Provider, and not really seen as an internal issue.  Yes, Internet packages and download speed play a big part how fast your website downloads, there are numerous factors that decide how fast your content will appear in someones browser.

    Google determined in 2010 that a websites page speed was an important factor to how people experienced a website, it started to be used in their website ranking factor, and how your blog appears in SERP.  Almost half of all customers on the internet anticipate a web page should load in 2 seconds or less.  Experts at Google think an optimised website top ranked should load in under half a second.

    Innumerable studies have shown that page speed can lead to loss of business from the extra time taken for a page to load, leaving consumers frustrated and leaving many online shopping carts abandoned.

    In this blog post we've decided to look at how page speed can affect not only small businesses but also bloggers, giving you the ability to see where your website could see some improvements

    Factors that Determine Page Speed

    It can seem almost an impossibility to know why your blog is acting so slow, and why the pages are loading inefficiently.  See below some other contributing factors that provide your overall page speed:

    Web Host

    Having a great customer service can pay dividends when it comes to your web host.  Going cheaper isn't always the best option, often this comes with slow page speeds.

    Big Images

    The necessary resolution for print and screen based imagery differs greatly.  For all purposes 1000 pixels at 72 dpi should suit your current blogging needs, if necessary larger images can be compressed to thin down unnecessary data.

    Outside Media

    Videos from YouTube and other such content is a brilliant idea, just make sure it's frame size.

    Make Your Blog Browser Friendly

    Every search engine will make your website behave differently, if your website isn't behaving properly on Safari but works fine on Chrome you'll take a penalty.

    Don't Fill Your Website Full of Advertising

    Too much advertising can drag down the speed of your blog, think "less is more" just to be safe.

    Website Theme

    If your running a site builder or WordPress theme that's fairly complex, this will add to your blog loading time.

    Widgets

    If you have a number of densely coded widgets on your website this might require a lot of processing power.

    Website Code

    If you're blog is carrying HTML or CSS that is too heavy, this will make your blog really slow!

    How to Check Your Website Loading Time

    There are a number of authorised website tools help you find the weak points of your blog.

    My personal favourite is PageSpeed Insights from Google.  If you're making Google happy then knowing what they recommend for a better ranking page is pretty critical.  You can also checkout Google Webmaster Tools.

    Best Practises for SEO Page Speed

    To comply with Google's Best Practises, try executing the following:
    1. Optimize Images
    2. Adopt A Content Distribution Network
    3. Boost Server Response Time
    4. Influence Browser Caching
    5. Trim down Redirects
    6. Cut back CSS, Javascript and HTML
    7. Implement Compression
    6 Facets Every Website Provider Should Provide

    The best approach for sourcing a solid and trustworthy web hosting company is to check out web hosting review sites.  In this blog post I'm going to show you what you should be looking out for in a reliable web hosting company.

    When you're looking to starting your own website you should make sure the web hosting company you choose has access to good quality features and tools that are easy to manage.  Here are some of the tools you should be looking for:

    1. PHP Script

    Most web hosting companies will offer this because PHP is the most well-known website creation script.

    2. SQL Database

    SQL database is an essential part of web hosting, because every database needs access to unique script.

    3. Extra Domain Names

    A handy extra to have if you're thinking about expanding your empire online.

    4. Site Builder

    If you're unfamiliar with website building this will give you peace of mind while you're acquainting yourself with website creation and site hosting.

    5. CGI

    A functional necessity for profitable web hosting.  Normally offered as a default script, its best to select a host that offers both CGI and PHP until it becomes ou-of-date.

    6. Metric and Statistic Monitoring Tools

    A well established company will offer customers a form of measuring tool that allows webmasters to track viewers more readily.  These tools will show you the elements that require improvement.

    Click here to download your PDF of The Basic Guide to Self-Hosting to read later.

    This post contains affiliate links.  This means if you purchase through these links you are supporting 1976write and we thank you for that.

    Monday, April 16, 2018

    How to Start Your Author Platform from Scratch


    What is an Author Platform?

    Not everyone has the same view of what an author platform should be.  A simple explanation would be: to have the power to sell books because of who you are and who you can reach.

    The author platform idea came into being during the 1990s when agents and publishers began rejecting non-fiction book proposals and non-fiction manuscripts, when any author lacked a platform.  Long before the internet really took off publishers wanted the author to be in the forefront in the public eye (this was done through mainstream media appearances) giving them the ability to easily sell books.  The average Joe at home had not public presence or professional network to sell books to.  Publishers still seek out writers with credentials and authority, who are noticeable to their target audience as an expert, authority figure, or professional.

    If you're really unsure about how to build your author platform check out my list on how to start from scratch.

    1.  Show Your Expertise

    You need to show how awesome you are at what you do.  What makes you special from everyone else to write your book?  Why can no one but you write your book?  What kind of knowledge do you have that no one else has?

    It could be that you've had a hard life and you're amazing for surviving it.  A lot of fiction draws on life experience and situations you know a lot about, which makes you proficient at what you're writing about.

    You need to start valuing your abilities and believing in what you can do.  Faking til you make it will give you the ambition and drive needed to get you there.

    2.  Put Together a Contact List

    Think of anyone you know as a contact.  The longer your list of contacts the more authority you have.

    People love supporting fledgling authors that are just starting out, because they were once in your position and know how it feels.

    Imagine your dream list of people, people you want to recommend you and your book.  Then start building your list.


    3.  Choose Two Social Media Channels

    You only need two.  Start your profile and begin publishing on each once a day.

    If you have certain preferences choose which ones you think will be the most beneficial to your chosen genre.

    You need to get into the frame of mind of posting regularly and engaging with your followers.  Give your readers value with your blog posts and always share other bloggers content.

    It can take a while to build a really serious social media following, don't let that stop you.  Remember your running a marathon not a sprint.

    4.  Start Writing and Publish an Ebook

    If your all out of ideas for your ebook you could try turning your blog into an ebook.  You'll discover that over time you'll have a number of posts that you can use and edit to create a first ebook.

    You can quite easily do a simple ebook with very little knowledge of self-publishing and sell it on Amazon.  Sign up  here and get a free copy of my ebook 7 Steps to Publishing Success.

    5.  Discover Who You Are Online

    A lot of people like to create a persona and put forward something totally different to who they are in real life.  You're not crazy for wanting to keep a bit of privacy.

    Being an introvert doesn't mean that you shouldn't start your own author platform, that way you can lay down your own rules and boundaries.

    6.  Set-Up a Sign Up Form

    After you've created your website you need to create a sign up form that hooks up to an email management system, you could try MailChimp or Mailmunch.  Put it on your main blog page, about page or start here page.  Or all three.

    Start the form and think about the numbers later.  You could also offer your readers a free ebook when they sign up as a little incentive.

    7.  Stick to Your Schedule

    Make a simple plan and stick to your schedule.  Your readers will expect your content to turn up at certain points during the week so you need to make sure you follow through consistently, even if you don't feel like writing.

    It's a lot of hard work but the benefits outweigh the hardship.  If you want people to read your books and your blog you need to give them something to read.  You really need to put yourself out there and connect with your readers.

    Start writing and publishing straight away and get a feel for what your readers want.

    What You Need to Know About Building Your Author Platform

    Building an author platform takes time and discipline.  Starting an author platform should also be a creative process, much like your writing.  It should give you the power to market you and your writing effectively.

    This post contains affiliate links.  This means if you purchase through these links you are supporting 1976write and we thank you for that.

    Thursday, April 12, 2018

    How to Start a Self-Hosted Blog with Blogger and Make Money Online


    Why I Started Blogging

    After a period of illness my writing journey first began when I started creating websites with Google Sites and also writing on Websites such as Hubpages and Squidoo.  Having my mind occupied on other things really helped with my depression and also gave me confidence to move forward in my life.

    As time went on I gained more knowledge, discovering ways to improve my blog and my writing making it more user friendly.  Always taking note of where I would go wrong and how to remedy my blogging problems.

    The potential and power of  a blog is valuable,  yet simple and inexpensive tool for getting your thoughts across.  Millionaires have been made, writers have been discovered and businesses built all through the medium of blogging.

    Blogging can lead to countless opportunities both personal and financial.

    With such a powerful tool and combining it with social media can create massive exposure  previously unheard of before the internet.

    Starting a blog will not only change your life but also help you to sort and analyze your thoughts and topics in a way you never thought possible.

    This Blog post is 2,506 words long, download your FREE PDF and read it later.

    Why I Chose Blogger as My Author Platform

    In the olden days  when people used blogging as a journal not a website there weren't many blogging platforms to choose from.  Launched in 1999, Blogger was both versatile and free.  Here are some reasons why you should choose as your blogging platform:

    A Free Platform Hosted by Google

    With no hidden hosting costs and ad free it's cheaper than the biggest competitor's.  You're supplied with a blogspot.com sub-domain, but still able to integrate with a custom domain.

    Simple Custom Domain Assimilation

    Blogger doesn't provide a custom domain name service but it will readily redirect your new domain and content from your blog to your chosen domain name.  As you can see by custom domain name, which I purchased from Hostgator.

    Hosting can be an expensive business and can cost you anywhere from $50-$500 a year depending.  There are no hidden costs with Blogger, what you see is what you get!

    Unlimited Hosting for Free

    Even though Blogger doesn't currently support PHP you can still add custom forms to your blog using services such as JotFormCognito Forms or Wufoo.

    Google Friendly

    A member of the Google family with a guaranteed reliable and quality service.  When you start your Blogger blog you'll be given a Google Account which comes with lot's of other goodies such as Gmail, Google Drive, Google Calendar and Google Places.

    Search Engine Optimisation can be easily achieved with specific blog post description, keywords and labels.  Google account comes with lots of other tools like Google Webmaster tools and Google Analytics, Google Adsense which can improve the performance of your website and allows you to monitor your traffic.

    Easy to Use and Plenty of Gadgets

    When I first started using Blogger I was a complete novice.  But I soon started to pick up on easy customisation techniques and learned how to integrate Adsense and other advertising into my blog.


    How to Start a Blogger Blog in 10 Minutes

    Go to www.blogger.com



    Enter your gmail and password.

    Click new blog button.



    Type in the title of your new blog in title box.

    Type in short address of blogs title in the address box.

    IMPORTANT if title taken choose another one.  Be brave use your imagination
    1. Select a template from the options provided
    2. Click create blog button
    3. Create a post
    4. Click on new post button
    5. Put in the title of your new post
    Type up post in post field below post box.  Check it over for spelling mistakes or grammatical errors and then publish.


    CONGRATULATIONS YOU'VE PUBLISHED YOUR FIRST BLOG POST

    Blog Essentials

    Definition of a blog:  A regularly updated website or web page, typically run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.

    Originally a blog was similar to writing an online journal which is updated daily by the author.  Over the past ten years software programs have improved making the blogging process easier.

    Starting a blog post is easy, just type up your post, press publish and it's out there for the world to see.  You don't need technical know-how to start a blog.

    How Easy is it to Start a Blog?

    With over 20 million blogs in existence, it can't be that hard, there are plenty of articles and websites to draw upon if help is needed.

    Does it Cost to Blog?

    Use a free blogging platform and take the plunge.  Later on you can move up to a self-hosted platform.  Having a self-hosted blog can be inexpensive and you can buy a domain name for as little as $12.95 a year.

    Blogging Platforms

    All option's listed are free.  I'll go through the self-hosting option in the next part of this blog:

    Blogger.com - My personal favourite and preferred free platform, owned by Google.  Customisable, domain name will include "blogspot.com".  You can customise it with your own domain name.

    Tumblr.com - The least customisable, but still one of the simplest platform to use, could be a good starting point.

    Wordpress.com - Wordpress is free, has an easy dashboard to use.

    Wordpress.org - The difference witth "Wordpress.org" is simple, it's a self-hosted platform.  You can use a self-hosting company to host your blog,

    Adding a Domain Name to Your Blogger Blog

    Choosing Your Domain Name

    Start by writing a list of words that relate to your website/blog.  A .com name is more memorable and will be more valuable than any other extension you choose.

    You can purchase your domain name through these well-known companies below:
    After purchasing your domain name use a company such as Hostgator as your platform, this makes the process much simpler.

    How to Effectively Monetise Your Blog

    Many people don't understand the value of  a blog and the options it can give you.  The potential is pretty endless.  You can make a good living blogging if you know where to start.  In this next section I'll show you how to monetise your Blogger blog.

    CPC Ad Networks

    CPC is pay per click advertising, which means every time someone clicks on an ad from your blog, money automatically goes into your Adsense account.

    CPM Ad Networks

    CPM is the cost per 1,000 impressions, you pay for each 1,000 views of your ad.  If a website publisher charges $2 per cpm, the advertiser must pay $2 for every 1,000 impressions of its ad. You can use these alongside Adsense.  Below are a list of companies you can check out:
    Affiliate Marketing

    Affiliate marketing is making money  by selling other peoples products.  As an affiliate your reward will come when the purchase is made.

    See below for a list of affiliate companies:
    Direct Ad Sales

    You can sell ad space from your website/blog to advertisers.  It's certainly worth looking into.

    How Long Does it Take to Make Money from a Blog?

    Blogging is not "a get rich quick" scheme you need to put time and effort  to reap the rewards.  You need a really good blogging plan to get you started.  After that you need to start writing blog posts and get people interested in your blog.  Computer knowledge will also stand you in good stead when you start out.

    Thats why sticking with your idea and doing thorough research, making mistakes and learning along the way are all vital.  If you're  blogging to make an income you need to stick with it even when the going gets tough.

    Once you've started you're own blog you can start looking into other ways of generating money.  Most people give up before they get past the first hurdle and don't make any money at all.  You won't make money over night but you will start to build a readership which you can turn into a customer base.

    There are many techniques that can be used to get you started to earning cash.  But don't be discouraged, if something doesn't work you try something else and start building on that.

    Hopefully there'll be something in this list that will help you earn money online.  Here are 9 more ways you can make money from your blog:

    1. Tip Jar/Ko-Fi/Donations

    This method is often bypassed by a lot of bloggers.  You can ask your readers to donate a small amount to keep your website running.  You can do this with PayPal.Me, by placing a simple button somewhere visible on your main page.

    2. Email Marketing

    You can build an email list when people register or sign up to a monthly newsletter or for a free ebook.

    3. Membership

    Many magazines and newspapers are using this method due to low sales figures.  You can offer extra benefits to your readers with a premium membership.

    4. Services

    Many blogs started as a service, offering coaching, financial help, administrative services etc.  You can charge your clients for your professional services through your website.  This is a good steady income stream to have alongside your affiliate sales.

    5. Teaching Program

    Create your own courses and sell them on your blog.  You can do this through companies such as Udemy by creating your own online course.

    6. Write Your Own Ebook

    This is one of the most popular ways to make money.  With the introduction of Apple IPad and Amazon Kindle, or platforms such as Payhip you can sell your ebooks independently or to a wider audience through Amazon.

    7. Sell Your Own Products

    If you already have a hobby, use that to start selling your products. With a website the world's your oyster!

    8. Selling Other Peoples Stuff

    When you're writing blog posts you can place affiliate links within each link and sell other people's products.  One of the best places to start is Amazon Associates. You have thousands of different products to choose from, and you can use your affiliate links on Twitter to.

    9. PPC Advertising (Pay Per Click)

    Sign up to Google Adsense and integrate and customise your own advertising within your blog or website.  It's a lot easier than it sounds.  You will need lots of traffic for this one.

    The 50 Million Dollar Question, How Do I Get Traffic to My Blog?

    When your blog is published, sadly there won't be a huge wave of people reading your blog.  Below are some tips on building traffic:

    Search Engines

    Put your blog on search engines such as; Google or Bing.

    Directories

    Increase your traffic from search engines with these directories:
    Commenting on Blogs and Forum's

    Comment on other blog's with thoughtful and provocative comments.  Blogging is a social community so don't be afraid to put those comments out there, you'll be highly rewarded for doing so.

    Search for forums in your topic area and leave comments linking to your blog.  Visitor's Googling your topic will pick up on these comments and find your link, don't use it for self-promotion. The Internet is an environment of "give and ye shall receive", if you stick to this the reward's will come.

    Article and Content Writing

    You can submit your articles and include a link back to your blog.  Below are a few worth looking at:
    Make Your Blog Search Engine Friendly

    Search engines gravitate towards well-established blogs.  That's why it's important to get links from directories, and other websites and bloggers.  The more your blog grows the more likes you'll get and your traffic will grow, this will take time so don't be dismayed "build it and they will come".

    Search Engine Optimisation

    SEO or search engine optimisation is a science in itself your aim is to become a well-organised font of information.  Because Google loves well-written and thought out blogs.  Blogs with individuality.   Tools such as SEMrush  can give you a really good insight and help you gain more traffic through website analysis, keyword research and research reports to get ahead of your competitors

    Google's goal is to build a perfect search engine full of information at the click of a button.  Kind of like a giant library, of sorts.

    Make Your Content Sticky

    When someone lands on my homepage I want them to stay and look around, in order to keep their attention I do the following:

    Create Stand Alone Pages

    The more posts you write, you'll discover they slowly disappear.  I've created  extra pages such as a shop and my work page for people to look around.

    Linking to my own content

    Try and link to old blog posts in each post you publish.

    Title Tags

    Your title tag will show up on the top of your browser window.  It determines what your site is about.  Think of something simple and eye catching such as "Joanne's Art/Art, Illustration and Other Stuff".

    Anchor Text

    Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink.  Anchor text should always be relevant to the page your linking to.

    Keywords

    Keywords are ideas and topics that relate to what you're blogging about.   

    Beyond the Blogging Basics

    Here are some basic blogging tips to get you started blogging:

    Terms and Conditions

    When you start making money you need to include  a disclosure on your blog to let your readers know that your promoting affiliate products on your blog.  Depending on the type of blog that you have you may also need a privacy policy  and terms and conditions page.  By simply looking up bloggers in your chosen field you can usually see what is required.

    Ads at Eyeball Height

    Ad placement is important when your trying to make money with advertising.  You can usually customise your ads to blend in with your blog and also run experiments on ad size.

    Write Content People want to Read

    Make your blog more human by adding your own experience to the mix.  Give your readers a variety to read and see which is the most popular.

    Connect Analytics to Adsense

    This is quite a new idea with Google and will help you gain insight into which blog posts are making the most money, which keywords are being used and where you get your traffic from.

    Research, Research, Research

    This I can't say enough, study other people's blogs, use the information you've gathered wisely and make your own mark on the internet.  "Content is King".

    Use Google to solve any problem's you have, the information is out there for you to tap into.

    Be Productive

    Writing a fresh blog post can seem like a monumental task, stay focused and don't let social media bog you down or get in your way.  Yes it's an important part of building traffic but spending long periods doing nothing else will get you no where.

    This Blog post is 2,506 words long, download your FREE PDF and read it later.

    This post contains affiliate links.  This means if you purchase through these links you are supporting 1976write and we thank you for that.

    Monday, April 09, 2018

    20 Best Courses for Writers


    Ninja Writing: The Four Levels of Writing Mastery

    In this course you'll easily discover how to easily embed quality into the fabric of your writing - into your article, essay, cover letter, blog or corporate report.  You'll be able to appreciate how writing can be beautiful one minute or mundane the next.

    Writing With Flair: How to Become An Exceptional Writer

    With easy-to-digest key principles alongside strategic exercises this course will help mold you into a masterful writer rapidly.  You'll be forever equipped with simple principles that can turn any middling writing piece into something polished and noteworthy.

    Proofreading Your Own Work

    Learn how to look at your writing with an exact eye.  Heather Saunders an experienced writer, proofreader and editor gives  you hands-on advice on how  to use the proofing process and the common errors to you should be looking out for.

    Secret Sauce of Great Writing

    This is a preliminary course that will give you an impressive groundwork for exploring your writing.  The foundation for an exclusive writing system that is designed to improve your writing skills in as little as a few weeks.  With revealing information that will have an instant impact on the quality of your writing.

    Writing With Impact: Writing That Persuades

    A no-nonsense course full of advice on how to lure people with the written word.  Learning key principles that can be employed to most types of non-fiction writing.

    Editing Mastery: How to Edit Writing to Perfection

    Discover how top editors do their magic.  Learn how to skilfully edit just about any type of non-fiction writing, as well as your own writing.

    Humour Writing: Write Funny for the Internet

    This course will show you how to take a funny idea and transform into a new point of view, write a speedy draft, reexamine your jokes for structure and approach.  During the short lessons, Mike illuminates every concept and shows us how really great comedy is written.

    Sell Your First 1,000 Books

    In this new age of publishing become your own start up and discover how to sell your book to the right market.   Self-published author and book marketing expert Tim Grahl teaches you how to help your book finds its audience.

    Get Your Writing Done

    Become the writer you want to be by conquering your self-doubt.   Teacher and author Jennifer Louden will demonstrate specific exercises and techniques to help you overcome guilt, procrastination, as well as silence your inner critic and value your own ideas so you can get some real work done.

    The Writer's Toolkit: 6 Steps to a Successful Writing Habit

    If you're struggling to be a writer and don't know where to start.  This 40 minute class from acclaimed novelist Simon Van Booy will take you through a writing process that is more approachable and fun.


    Writing and Editing: Polishing a Manuscript

    Ali Novak, one of Wattpad's most successful writers' takes a fun and honest class on the process of writing and editing.

    Grammar Boot Camp: Easy Lessons for Common Writing Mistakes

    Become proficient in identifying and correcting mistakes in your grammar,  This course is run by S.J. Lawrence, PhD who has nearly 15 years experience writing in both high school and college.

    Overcome Writer's Block

    Author Davie Ursillo will help guide you through the things that influence you emotionally and creatively.  He'll then take you through an actionable plan you can put into place so that you can achieve your literary goals.

    The Beginner's Guide to Self-Publishing

    Join Monika Kanakova's course will guide you through the publishing and marketing of your book and show you how to garner continuous sales.  Her easy-to-follow program will take you through the world of publishing from draft to finished book.

    Editing Mastery: How to Edit Writing to Perfection

    Turn dry, disorganised clunky text into clearly written beautifully presented prose.  Discover the technique of "deep editing", only known to an inner circle of exceptional editors in this masterclass on editing brought to you by Shani Raja.

    Writing Bios that Get Noticed

    Writing a bio can seem a painful task at times, it's not easy summing up your life, your entire being in one small paragraph.  How do you know what to put in and what to take out?  This fun class created by Melissa Cassera , an experienced brand and marketing consultant for both small and large businesses, will teach you how to connect to your readers and convert them into customers and clients.

    Productivity Hacks for Writers (Writing Mastery)

    Being productive and focused as a writer can be a real struggle.  Jessica Brody, bestselling author and screenplay writer for over 10 years tells you the secrets of her creative process.

    Writing Tools & Hacks: Copywriting/Blogging/Content Writing

    Tyler Speegle a professional copywriter and freelance writer will show you some of the best free writing tools that are all 100% absolutely free online and gives you the inside scoop on some helpful hacks to make the most of them.

    Proofreading Power: Become an Effective Proofreader

    In today's world where a more casual use of language is used, being able to produce an error-free resume, website or email is still expected.  This course provides practical application of skills along with hands-on exercises and quizzes to help you address the basic skill of proofreading.

    How to Create Addictive Content

    You might have the best products and services but without compelling content to drive those sales you're leaving a lot of business on the table.  As a business or blogger it's critical that all of your articles and blog posts are thoughtfully prepared and put together.  Melissa Cassera brings her vast knowledge of branding and marketing to the forefront when she shows you how to use Hollywood storytelling techniques to create enticing content that excites people enough to share and moves them to buy.

    This post contains affiliate links.  This means if you purchase through these links you are supporting 1976write and we thank you for that.

    Thursday, April 05, 2018

    The History of Writing in a Nutshell


    The Story of Writing

    Many people have speculated about when and how people started writing.  The most popular thought is that a  permanent recording of grain and animals was made.  These things were an important part of ancient societies and used around temples and palaces, so records needed to be made.

    Archaeologists have discovered many clay tokens of different shapes and sizes in and around Middle-Eastern sites from as early as 8000 BC.  Many historians suppose that these tokens were used for counting items for trade.  It has also been discovered that the Inca Empire used quipu, a group of strings of various colours that were knotted at intervals to record their taxes and census statistics.

    From these tokens came a system of symbols to symbolise words and ideas.  These earlier writings would have been pictographic and can be found in many cave paintings all around the world.  Pictogram's are still used today to convey simple messages -  usually used as signs on roads or public toilets.

    Cuneiform script was required a phonetic (sound) to a symbol.  This radically transformed how people communicated.  Many think the Sumerians used this around about 3300 BC and can also be found in southern Iraq.  Scripts were found in Egypt (3100 BC), Indus Valley (2500 BC), Crete (1900 BC), China (1200 BC) and Central America (600 BC).

    No one culture has been found to wholly influence the advancement of writing, many systems have been found around the world and all sound unique, but all play a key part in enabling us to communicate through writing.

    Understanding Ancient Texts

    Sadly the ability to read ancient manuscripts has been lost.  In some cases the ability has been regained through the process of studying archaeological treasures.

    The Rosetta Stone, discovered by French soldiers in 1799 during Napoleon's invasion, has helped decipher many Egyptian hieroglyphs.  Discovered in the small village of Rashid, Egypt this relatively small stone slab as carved an inscription in three different languages and scripts - demoic script, hieroglyphs and ancient Greek.  Inscribed is a decree given in three different languages passed by the general council of priests throughout Egypt on the first anniversary of the accession of Ptolemy V Epiphanes King of Egypt 27 March 196 BC.

    With comparisons to other monuments, scholars such as Thomas Young and French Physicist Jean-Francois Champollion could easily identify the names found in the hieroglyphs.

    Alphabets and Syllabaries Explained

    Many early scripts were found to be syllabaries (such as cuneiform or Linear B).  Simply put these manuscripts were written in syllables.  This kind of writing required lots of signs and very few consonants.

    The Egyptians used a lot of pictogram's showing a lot of complicated consonants, but weren't able to cope with writing any vowels.

    A script was developed in Phoenicia using a handful of signs and was used from 1400-1200 BC.  In the first millennium the Israelites, Phoenicians and Canaanites used 22 signs.  All of these were consonant scripts with very little vowels being used.

    The Greek alphabet was invented as early as 10th or 11th century BC, having signs for each consonant and each vowel, with about 25 signs in all.  This enabled them to write a lot more clearly and very much like we write today.

    Cuneiform Script

    During the 4th millenmium BC a writing form we call cuneiform emerged.  (Cuneiform simply means wedge-shaped), this particular form of writing could be found in Mesopotamia with the Sumerians.  Three basic wedges would form a cuneiform sign.

    Forming Cuneiform Writing

    The end of a reed stylus was pressed into moist clay enabling the Sumerians to draw.  At first they would just draw pictures that would stand for an object.  An simple example would be a picture of a mouth which could be taken to mean the noun 'mouth' or verb 'to speak'.

    Over the course of time the picture would go on to represent syllable(s) in the word which the picture would be shown.  A sign such as 'mouth' which was ka could also be used for writing a syllable in another word.  This led to a complicated system of writing that contained pictures, that would become so stylised that people would find them virtually unrecogniseable.  These were represented by ideograms (whole words) or syllabograms (individual syllables).

    In its advanced form cuneiform script had upwards of 500 signs, with most signs having several syllabic and ideographic values.

    Things to Know About the World's Oldest Writing System:
    • Cuneiform isn't a language or an alphabet.  Main languages written in Cuneiform were Sumerian and Akkadian.
    • First Used Around 3,400 BC, preceding Egyptian hieroglyphic writing.  Used until the first century AD.
    • A Reed and Clay Were All That Was Needed.  Cuneiform comes from the Latin cuneus which means 'wedge'.  This shape was made every time a reed was pressed into the clay.
    • Cuneiform is Looked On As the World's Most Difficult Writing.
    • Children Are Natural Experts at Cuneiform Writing.
    Introduction to Hieroglyphs

    Definition:  Hieroglyph comes from two Greek words: hieros (sacred) and glyphos (writing).

    Introduced in 3100 BC, after cuneiform, hieroglyphs were used during the Dynastic period, with about 700 signs in use.  Peaking at around 5000 characters in the Greek and Roman periods.

    Usually written in columns or horizontal lines running left-to-right or right-to-left.  Hieroglyphs found in tombs or temples were normally oriented towards a central point, or an important figure such as the pharaoh.  There are two types of hieroglyphic characters: symbols that stand for words or ideas, which are called logograms or ideograms; and phonetic signs, which are called phonograms or pictograms, each representing a particular consonant sound.

    Most hieroglyphs are found on the walls of temples and tombs, as well as various mummy wrappings and many other objects placed in tombs.  Used mainly to record magical spells, lists of provisions and the tomb owners name.  Many hieroglyphs were used to keep records, especially when the Nile River flooded, to keep track of the quantity of materials used to build the pyramid and to keep lists of stored surplus food.

    Even though Egypt was conquered by King Cambyses of Persia, Alexander the Great and later the Roman Emperor Augustus, hieroglyphs remained in use in Egypt until the late 4th century AD.

    Facts About Hieroglyphics
    • Scribes started training in hieroglyphs as young as 12.
    • Only 3% of the Egyptian population knew how to read hieroglyphics.
    • Hieroglyphics were usually divided into four different categories: alphabetic, syllabic, word-signs, and determinatives.
    • Alphabetic signs in hieroglyphics were created to represent one sound each.
    • Syllabic signs in hieroglyphics were created to represent two or three consonants.
    • A triple sign in hieroglyphics meant it was plural.
    • The commoners wrote in a simpler form of hieroglyphics called demotic.
    The Printing Press and Modern Day Writing

    Printing has been around for a long time and can be found in many ancient cultures.  Items such as the Phaistos Disc from Crete which dates back to the 17th century BC, was devised by pressing symbols into clay, very much like we now use movable type.

    When paper was invented then printing really took off.  Conceived in China prior to 105 AD, the process of creating it was accurately documented by the court of the Han Emperor Wu Di, using a mixture of bark and rags.

    Carved seal stones were originally used to make impression on the paper.  This would later lead to the development of wood-block printing, used during the Sui or Tang Dynasty.  Early Buddhist writings have been found and discovered to be made by monks.  An early surviving print is the Diamond Sutra of 868 AD, created in Dunhuang.

    The ability to make paper eventually made its way into Europe by the 15th century, as more people were able to read.  The task of making copies of texts by hand was very slow and arduous.  A quicker more reliable method to replicate writing was required.  During the 15th and 16th centuries wood block printing was established.  By 1455 AD Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, using metal type.

    After this printing was evolving quite rapidly with the development of standardised types and fonts.  There were many changes in language and writing styles when printers started printing for the general public.  The power of the printed word meant that many people could read the same piece of writing at the same time.


    Printing Innovations

    Aldus Manutius a leading printer of the Venetian High Renaissance introduced a number of innovations to the world of publishing.  He produced high quality volumes of Greek literature and philosophy, with new forms of Greek and Latin cursive type for printing.  He produced new printing techniques using italics as well as smaller octavo editions of texts.

    This post contains affiliate links.  This means if you purchase through these links you are supporting 1976write and we thank you for that.