5 Reasons to Use Guest Bloggers

Running your own blog can be an exhausting business. You have to make sure it’s well designed, has enough readers, and that your posts are frequent and well written. It becomes hard to have time to do anything else since this can take up more time than a full time job. Accepting guest posts is a perfectly logical measure to take to give yourself a little more relief. These five reasons are all valid and may lead to lower stress in your life.

1. Blogger to Blogger Relationships

Building relationships with other bloggers can make your job even easier. When you have reliable bloggers post on your site, you can invite them to do additional posts when you need the content. It can also give you an opportunity to write a guest post for their blogs as well. No matter what business you are in, having strong relationships always makes the work a little easier – and a little more fun.

2. Extra Credibility

Having guest bloggers post on your site can make it a more credible blog. It shows that your blog has a high enough authority for others to want to be a part of it. A lot of blogs produce extra revenue by charging anywhere from $5 to $50 to publish a guest post for someone. This isn’t required though. You’ll be likely to get more guest post offers if you post them for free.

3. Unique Content

As a blogger, you can sometimes find yourself coming up with more bad ideas than good. It’s difficult to consistently come up with topics to entertain your readers. Guest bloggers can offer a fresh look on topics within your blog’s niche. Take advantage of their creativity and allow them to share their ideas with your readers as well. You find yourself learning something new, and your readers will be pleased with the new take on old ideas.

4. Quality Content

A lot of guest bloggers pitch ideas because they want to get their name known. Therefore, they won’t waste their time and yours by writing poor content. The best guest bloggers will write highquality content that will benefit both your blog and their own writing on other sites. There are some fantastic writers out there just waiting for the chance to be published.

5. Constant Content

If you have a lot of loyal readers, it can be difficult to supply enough content to keep them all satisfied. This is especially true if you are running your entire blog on your own. As previously mentioned, you can run out of your own ideas pretty quickly. This makes it very hard to roll out blog posts on a consistent basis. But with well-written guest posts, you can take comfort in the knowledge that your readers will be entertained with new content.

Accepting guest posts on your blog can definitely be to your benefit. However, it is okay for you to be selective about the posts that you accept. If you feel like a post doesn’t fit into your niche, is poorly written, or is too spammy, it’s okay to reject it. This is your blog, you can set the boundaries for your guest posts. If you publish the best content possible, you are sure to find more success in your blogging.

Plugin Review: User Switching

If you are a WordPress developer of either themes or plugins, or you are running/building a membership site with something like WP-Members, then you may find yourself logging in and out of your test site a lot.  In building WP-Members, I find myself doing this constantly to test the plugin with different user accounts.

The User Switching plugin has made my life easier in this area, and if you are a developer, I think you’ll find it incredibly useful as well.  It is also handy for site admins that might be testing features of their site and might need to be logging in and out of various test accounts.

About The Plugin

As I mentioned, the plugin allows you to switch user accounts, and you can do this all from the WP Users screen.  The plugin was developed and is maintained by John Blackbourn, WordPress specialist at Code For The People.

This is a free plugin maintained in the wordpress.org repository.

Analysis

The first concern with any plugin that deals with user accounts is of course going to be security.  I was impressed with John’s attention to detail in this area, including use of WP nonces.  This is from the plugin description:

  • Only users with the ability to edit other users can switch user accounts (by default this is only Administrators on single site installs, and Super Admins on Multisite installs). Lower level users cannot switch accounts.
  • User switching is protected with WordPress’ nonce security system, meaning only those who intend to switch users can switch.
  • Full support for administration over SSL (if applicable).
  • Passwords are not (and cannot be) revealed

The plugin is essentially one single file.  There is not a lot to it in terms of code.  This does have the downside of needing to load with all WordPress plugins.  Personally, I would like to see a two file system, the first testing to see if the user has user editing capability (required for the plugin’s security) and if so, go ahead and load the class file for user switching.

Even without that, it is a very lightweight plugin and uses proper security controls, so it could be used on a production site, but I would recommend limiting its use to staging sites and if used on a production site, definitely limit its use to only active when needed.

The plugin supports WP standard installs, but also Multisite and BuddyPress (and WP-Members!).

Critical when considering a plugin is support.  John is active on the wordpress.org forum, so support issues are addressed in a timely manner.  This also tells you that the plugin is  continuing to be maintained.  The plugin’s most recent update just last month and it has ongoing downloads, 81,397 as I write this.  The ratings are impressively high with 79 5 star ratings and only 1 each 4 and 3 star.  The non-5 star ratings were before the new wordpress.org review system, so we don’t know the reason for that, but clearly those individuals were out of touch.  This is a 5 star plugin.

Status

Definitely Recommended!

Where To Find It

Get it in the WordPress Plugin Respository:

http://wordpress.org/plugins/user-switching/

Grow traffic by thinking small

We all want to think big.  In fact, it’s such a popular motivational mantra that there are entire books about it, including the age-old motivational classic The Magic of Thinking Big. But when it comes to building your blog traffic into a tidal wave, don’t overlook the possibility of thinking small.  [Read more…]

New Add-ons For WP-Members

I have released two new add-ons for WP-Members.  These are available to premium members at rocketgeek.com, the support site for the WP-Members plugin.

Registration Blacklist

The Registration Blacklist add on comes from user requests regarding how to prevent spam registrations and how to prevent registrations from certain users.

The add on module adds a new tab to the WP-Members admin panel. Under this tab you will be able to add criteria by which to prevent a registration from occurring. These can include not only IP addresses and emails, but also certain user names.

Genesis Child Theme Stylesheet Pack

WP-Members has the ability to load a completely custom stylesheet so the forms can be fully integrated with your site.  However, many users are not CSS savvy enough to customize their own stylesheet.  In order to deliver more “plug-and-play” options, I’ve released a stylesheet add-on for the plugin.

The stylesheet pack is the very beginning of a project that will add some easy to use stylesheets for the plugin based on popular themes. I am starting with Genesis child themes from StudioPress and intend to move to Elegant Themes after that. Those are the two groups that fit the most users that I her from right now. But I can work in other themes as site members request them.

View the list of available add-ons for WP-Members here.

Don’t Burn the Coffee (or Avoiding Distractions as a Freelancer)

Yesterday, I brewed a fresh pot of coffee.  It was enough for two cups, which is about what I can get through before it goes foul on the burner.  I poured my first aromatic cup and it smelled fantastic.  I use a larger cup and usually fill it about half full, but this time I filled it a little extra (which left not too much in the bottom of the pot).

Moving on to work, I was in the zone and cranking along, completely forgetting about the second (not quite a) cup in the coffee pot.  Hours later, I went back to the kitchen not only forgetting that I had coffee on the burner, but I was actually thinking I’d had two cups and was coming back to brew fresh.

What greeted me was that situation where the water has burned off leaving a burnt, sticky goo in the bottom of the pot.  And it smelled of burnt coffee.

Yuck!

Distractions Can Kill Quality

So, what is the point of this story?  Don’t brew coffee and work at the same time?  Not exactly. There is a lesson in all of this.

This is about distractions and what they do to your work flow and productivity.  While this really happened, it also makes a good analogy of writing or blogging, where distractions can keep you from productive work.  The end result of the distractions is a burnt, brown, foul smelling, sticky goo.

If you have read “how-to” guides from anyone who is successfully generating income from their writing, you will find that they will tell you that two of the important keys are quality and consistency.  I would tell you the same thing.

If you want to produce quality work on a consistent basis, you absolutely must avoid distractions!

The distractions come when I am writing and researching at the same time.  When I do that, I end up going down a rabbit trail that has nothing to do with the original topic.  My brain is operating out in front of everything else thinking of future topics and related posts.  The next thing I know, I have written nothing and I’ve wasted a couple hours of quality and productive time.

This includes getting sidetracked with social media.  I can easily find myself looking at Twitter, thus following some new folks, and digging into their sites.

What is the Solution?

The best way for me to avoid distractions is keeping the research and the writing separate.  I keep a notebook of ideas.  Going old school, I use a pencil to jot down ideas (remember pencils?).  This keeps me off the Internet for generating my ideas and outlines.

I do research online.  But I add to my notes in my notebook while I am doing it.  This keeps me focused and on-track.

When I sit down to do begin drafting my articles, I don’t do it “online.”  So, if you are using WordPress or some other blogging software, this means I don’t write in my browser.  It’s just too tempting to open another tab and look something up, taking me off the target.  I do the whole process “off-line.”

If I hit something that needs expansion or further research, I notate that in my notebook.  That way, when I have another research session, I can make some additional notes for the next draft.

This process continues until I have crafted the full article and final draft.  It keeps me focused on tasks and makes me more productive with the limited time I have.

Do you have problems with distractions?  What works for you in avoiding distractions and being productive?