Why WordPress Sucks for Niche Sites (And What To Do About It)

Why Wordpress Sucks

You know that WordPress is super-easy to install.  It's a 1-click thing with most web hosts.  It's easy to enter content.  You just type a title and then type the content.  What could be easier to use to set up an army of niche sites?  

There's just one problem.

WordPress blogs suck for niche authority sites.

Wait…  I can hear you now “Kristen, you just told me how great WordPress is, and now you say it sucks?!”. That's right.  See, the problem is, WordPress is a blogging platform, but your niche site is probably not a blog.  It's an informational site geared to get your visitor to sign up for your list, click on an ad, or buy a product (yours or an affiliate product).

[thrive_text_block color=”blue” headline=”Update!”]I've been using WordPress to run a large authority site for 3 years now, and I've revised my ideas on what parts of WordPress you should use – in the original version of this article, I recommended using Pages for your core content, but now I feel differently. Read on for how I believe you can best tweak WordPress to build awesome niche and authority sites.[/thrive_text_block]

The Bad News

A low-quality blog may get someone to click on an ad (maybe just to get away from crummy content!), but do you really want to build your brand around that?  

No?  

I thought not.  To get someone to sign up for your list or purchase a product, you need to build some trust by showing them you have quality info on the topic they're looking for.  A low-quality blog probably isn't ideal for this.

It is possible to build a blog around a personal project – like a travel diary kind of blog, or a cooking or renovation project. But if you're building an “authority site,” people come to search for particular topics and probably want a kind of order or organization to the topics on your site.

The search engine spiders also have a hard time getting a good feel for your content if it's organized as a blog.  You need a solid, logical layout.  Otherwise, your quality content and vital information get lost in a sea of newer posts.

The Good News

I'm not going to leave you lost in a sea of jumbled categories and newest posts while that brilliant tutorial you wrote last month gets lost forever.  In fact, WordPress is a powerful tool you can use to create your niche site.

Here's where my advice differs from the original version of this article. I don't think you need to use a Page-driven layout. You can still harness the power of blog posts to bring attention to your freshest content.

**The key, though, is that you don't create a Post and move on…

…you first create a logical layout plan for your site.**

First, you can create a Page-driven, logical layout.  Pages are different than Posts, in that they're created to be enduring content.

Here's an example:

So your post giving a general overview on dog grooming leads to a post on giving your pooch a bath, and another on tools you need to keep your dog well-groomed.  Another post (linked in your navigation menu) features feeding your dog.  That post leads to a post on puppy feeding, another on feeding the mature dog, and another on best dog food reviews.  Check it out:

This isn't all, though.  Wordpress makes it easy for you to create custom menus so you can highlight recent content, popular content, etc.  Plus, if you want to have a blog-style page featuring news and opinion pieces, you can set that up, too.  It's very powerful if you do it right.

Another advantage of doing it this way is republishing. You may update the content on your site every year, or when new information is available in your field. If you've created the content as a post, you can easily “re-publish” it with the date you update it so it shows up again on the blog.

Spend a Few Minutes Planning

The key to this is that you do planning. Sometimes your posts may center on current events, breaking news, and holidays. Those posts can probably fall into your archives without you needing to worry about them.

But work through a plan for the rest of your content. What's key, core content that needs to be on a site covering your topic? What are the logical subsections? Market research and keyword research can help you start to get a good feel for the niche and trends within it. Plan a site structure like we discussed above.

Then, as you add new content, you can link it to other, related content, and have pages that serve as “Tier 2” sections – which link to even more detailed “Tier 3” sections. (For example, a dog feeding post can link down to a detailed post on feeding puppies, on feeding your dog a raw food diet, etc.).

When to Use Pages

I do think you should use Pages for some things on your site:

  • Contact page
  • “About” page
  • Disclaimers / Privacy policies
  • Sales letters
  • Squeeze pages / dedicated opt-in forms

Content of this nature is well-suited to pages. They form a backbone of crucial pages, but they're not really informative content pages, so they don't need to go in the blog feed.

WordPress makes it easy to add pages or posts into menus – we'll explore the robust menu-creation system (which can be used for far more than the navigation menu) in a future post!

Don't wait to take action – use a 1-click webhost like Bluehost and do some market research to plan your site. Choose a nice theme and publish well-organzied content – that's the key to a solid, growing authority site.

Online Business Quick Start

Fast money. Easy money. It's the unspoken dream of many wanna-be entrepreneurs who look at building a business online. But is it a reality?

What does it take to launch a business online?

What does it take to make it profitable?

What does it take to scale it?

Are any of those things even possible?

Here's the straight truth: you can build a successful business online.

You can build a wildly successful, massively profitable business online.

Here's the catch: it's going to take hard work.

Creating a business online is the key to the profit and freedom many entrepreneurs want, but you have to be willing to do some work to get it started.

If you're looking for the latest get-rich-quick scheme, this isn't for you…

…if you're willing to put in some work, follow a proven plan, and commit to making lives better for your visitors, subscribers, and customers, keep reading, because you've already taken the first step to building a successful online business.

You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.

Zig Ziglar

Building a Profitable Business

I've been in online business for over a decade at this point. I've done a lot right – and I've made a lot of mistakes along the way, too. I've taken good advice, and I've taken bad advice. At this point I have a thriving authority site and a growing second site. My sites are geared towards helping families – and that's really the reason I started Milk and Mud as well, too. Online business can bring freedom:

  • Freedom to spend more time together
  • Freedom from financial stress
  • Freedom to travel
  • Freedom from other people controlling your life and schedule
  • Freedom to be with your children
  • Freedom to home school, live outside of the city, or other choices impossible before
  • Freedom to care for parents, give to charity, etc.

I'm sure there are many things you can think of that I haven't even mentioned! All of those reasons – and all of your reasons – are why I created Milk and Mud. I want to help you find the freedom that an online business can bring.

There's actually a dark secret in Internet marketing, and I hinted at it above…

…there's a belief that wild success should be easy (and overnight) on the Internet.

But that's not true.

Building a profitable business is simple but it's not “easy” – it takes work. That's why this website is here – to take you step-by-step through building a website that works…

…and beyond that to a business that changes your clients' lives – and your own 🙂

It's About Changing Lives

Remember the Zig Ziglar quote I shared above? Go back and read it again if you just skimmed over it, because it's a key I want you to hold onto.

You are going to do a lot of foundational work as you build your business:

  • Building a website
  • Starting an email list
  • Creating email campaigns
  • Creating products
  • Creating funnels
  • Tracking and testing

All of that can be really “technical” and “numbers-focused” – which is good but that's not the heart of your business. It's easy to get caught up focusing on the dollars (especially when that's how your family needs to eat.

But it's crucial to realize that the money you make comes from real people. Your business is about making someone's life better.

You might be thinking to yourself “well, my business is all about posting funny cat stories” or “I make handmade soaps” or “I sew linen bread bags” and “how can that really be ‘life changing'?”

But the truth is, what you're doing is making lives better. It may be only in a small way… you're not curing cancer or funding life-saving surgeries… but those cat stories might give a laugh. Maybe your funny puppy pictures give someone the smile they desperately needed to keep going in a hard situation (ask me how I know…)

Your homemade soap could help a mother whose child has horrible eczema, or a family that can't use anything else due to allergies. Maybe your linen bread bag makes baking healthier sourdough bread a joy – so somebody actually does that rather than giving in and buying another loaf of nutrient-lacking store-bought bread…

What you do makes an impact on somebody's life, and you should never doubt that. That's what you need to focus on when you're building your business – especially when you're creating content and creating your products (regardless if they're physical or digital products).

Obviously keeping your eye on the business side of things is important, but always hold your visitor, subscriber, and customer in your mind. Is this content helpful to them? Is your product going to help them get something they want in life (be it personal transformation or something as simple as a cleaner house…)? When you focus on helping real people, your business will thrive.

Successful Internet Marketer

What About Passive Income?

One of the great promises of digital marketing is “passive income” – also known as money while you sleep! It's not going to happen overnight, but it is one of the most important goals you can have in your online business. Passive income has three major benefits:

  • It creates financial security for you
  • It frees you up to test, optimize, and scale
  • It frees you up to focus on delivering amazing value to your audience and customers

Again, passive income is the big dream – usually it's mentioned alongside pictures of tropical beaches and expensive homes. But we're thinking about it realistically here. It's a good goal, and there are big reasons to build a business that creates passive income.

I want you to realize, however, that there's some work involved in getting that started. If you want sales to come in while you sleep, you've got to be willing to do the work that builds a foundation for those kinds of sales.

Having said that, there are many different ways you can create passive income. Here are a few:

  • Create your own products (like books, classes, membership programs, coaching programs, physical products etc.)
  • Share affiliate products (these could be software, information products, or could be physical products like cameras, strollers, etc.)
  • Place display ads on your website so you generate ad income
  • Build a big mailing list and sell marketing slots
  • Create a successful podcast or video channel and sell sponsorship slots

All of those start with building a solid website and taking steps to turn visitors into subscribers and buyers. Doing that is a key in mastering digital marketing.

Relationship Marketing

A relationship is key in creating an online business. In the past people built what were called “thin sites,” or “Adsense sites,” or “affiliate sites.” Not everyone built that kind of website (and not all experts taught these thin sites), but a lot of them were put up and all had great promises of fast cash with no relationship. It was like you'd be taking money from a machine – not interacting with real people.

Today the only consumer is much savvier. They often want to know the person behind the website – or they want to trust the brand. In the past, humanity relied on great hero stories. Today's generations are jaded and skeptical, but there's still a deep longing for heroes, wise sages, daring adventurers, etc. Brands often fill those voids with messages and stories that consumers can relate to. Brands are trusted (and sometimes mistrusted or positioned as an “enemy”).

Commentary on humanity aside, that means that you as an individual, or the brand you're creating for your business, are important and a key to creating something that's going to sell – and it will sell because people trust you and believe your product.

They think you (or your brand) are trustworthy.

Think about asking someone to marry you. You probably wouldn't ask for their hand in marriage on a first date. The other person would think you're seriously weird! You'd spend some time getting to know them and enjoying being around them. You might not think of it this way, but you'd be building up their trust in you – enough to trust you when you asked for their hand in marriage.

A product purchase isn't quite the same as getting married – but people often have a hard time parting with their money, or even their time. They want to feel good about what they'll be getting in return. Building a trusting relationship helps make sure that when it comes time to share your products, your visitors and subscribers feel good about you.

How do you build a strong relationship with your subscribers?

Basics of Profitable Online Business

Content is STILL King

When I first got started many, many years ago, thin sites were the “big thing” – but there were a few voices that kept shouting that wasn't right… that what was right was content.

Content is King

Ken Evoy

Fortunately, I felt like the “content is king” message sounded right, and that's what I followed. Though I had a lot of stops, starts, and even some failed tests with “thin” sites, I kept building my little niche site into an authority site. “Authority site” is a trendy way of saying “a site focused on a particular topic that's filled with high-quality content people trust and refer to.”

Today content is still king. It's true that the Internet is a lot more crowded, but I firmly believe that gives you an advantage. People are hungry for inspiration and they're hungry for real connection. As an entrepreneur you can make that connection because you are small and approachable. You are a real person providing great content.

High-quality content on whatever the topic may be – how to prepare for a new baby, how to transition your pet to a raw food diet, how to start a bicycle courier business, how to become a food truck chef, how to overcome your skin sensitivities, or source quality makeup, or choose the best camera… – the list is endless…

…high-quality content on your topic is the first step to building trust and relationship.

##This relationship often starts with an article, video, or podcast.## Your audience finds you through a search engine or link. They read, watch, or listen to your excellent content and decide they appreciated it. They may want more from you, so they visit your website or listen to or watch more. This is a great way to introduce yourself to people.

Sometimes it stops there – you may choose to make money through display ads, so you never get subscribers.

But usually you want to get people to subscribe to your mailing list. This is a natural extension of the relationship-building you've been doing. Now you can send great email content – a daily tip (my favorite) or a weekly newsletter. Maybe you can offer some subscriber-only content. Your emails build relationship and trust with your audience.

Your email list also lets you share products and promotions directly with subscribers who are eager to hear from you Here's an important note: you should be willing to share your products (and affiliate offers, if you do that) with your audience. If you never share or ask people to look at and buy your products, you'll create a list of people who only want free information, but don't want to buy.

While you do want to change as many lives as possible, and give great information away, you also need to earn a living. This is a balance that takes skill to develop, but it's not complicated. Just remember to provide great content – in your free posts, articles, videos, and podcasts… and in your amazing products and offers 🙂

Funnels are Essential

Like the concept of “passive income,” the concept of “sales funnels” are, well, trendy in the Internet marketing world. Everyone wants the ultimate funnel that converts and brings in passive income.

As I noted when we talked about passive income above, it takes work to create that income stream. It takes work to create a funnel. It's not something magic you just drop into your business and see it work (sometimes it can seem that way, because a funnel helps you take multiple products and organize then market them in a way that makes a lot of sense to your audience, so sales start happening).

But even though funnels are not “magic,” I feel they're a crucial step for every business owner. Most of us can make a small income online, but a funnel is the key to scaling your income to where it makes a difference for yourself and your family.

A well-executed funnel also helps your customers. As I hinted, sometimes customers are just overwhelmed by everything that you offer. When you have a clean, well-organized funnel, they can see the “next step” they need to take or the next product they need to use to get what they want.

People are often excited when they buy, too – they like something that compliments their purchase. Think about a great store clerk who helps you find the perfect outfit. She or he suggests that a particular belt would look great with it. You're excited and agree – so you buy the belt too! Or maybe your plumber tells you that you need X part to fix your sink – but he's happy to install it for you for $100 more. You don't want water flooding your house, so you're happy to pay him to install it 😉

A funnel helps you get your products or offers in front of the right people at the right time. It maximizes your income – and often maximizes your customer's satisfaction with their purchase, too 🙂

Staying Productive in the Trenches

Thus far we've covered core components of a good online business – I hope I've clarified some misconceptions and given you a good idea of what you need. But there's one more thing you need to think about…

…getting it all done. You have to stay productive if your business is going to succeed.

It's easy to spend hours doing nothing but reading emails from other marketers. That's fine for a hobby, but it won't work for your business. You need tried-and-true methods to maximize your productivity – so you can maximize your profit… and your free time 😉

Here are some steps that have been crucial for me:

  • Setting clear, actionable goals
  • Blueprinting out my goals so I can break them down step-by-step
  • Doing the ONE thing that will move my business ahead today
  • Reviewing and adjusting to make sure I hit my goals
  • Developing a working task management system
  • Scheduling my day so I have focused periods of work time
  • Getting up early!

There are many strategies for getting more out of the hours of your day – I encourage you to explore and find the ones that work for you…

…then focus on changing lives, building your business, and keep scaling your income and your success!

Basics of Profitable Digital Marketing

Keyword and Topic Research

I had an idea for the niche that I wanted to dig into with this little test site. I'm already in the natural fertility niche, and this was a spin-off of that niche that I'd toyed with already and gotten some good response to. I wanted to take it further and create a stand-alone site that could really delve into it.

The first thing I needed to do, though, was keyword research.

Passion vs. Profit

I've covered this fully in my post on Profitable Keywords vs. Passion but I want to mention it again here. It's really important, in my opinion, that you target a niche where you at least have some interest.

Now, it's possible you'll have an outsourced worker doing a lot of the content creation and marketing of your site for you. That's just fine. I want to get to the point where outsourced workers are doing essentially all of my backlinking. But there's a good chance that you're going to write at least some of the content. Even if you're not writing a word, you want to know that your site is providing value to your target audience.

So I do think it's important that a measure of interest come into your work.

That said, look for the profitable spin on your subjects of interest. What do people who are interested in your niche need? How can you help them get what they need? What information can you give them?

Help people in a way that they need to be helped… you can best do this in an area you're passionate about.

Use this brainstorming as a jumping-off point.

Work Those Keywords

I had an idea for my site, but I needed to see if it panned out financially. I followed the exact steps that I show you in my keyword research video, so check that out when you have the time. I walk you step-by-step through my research in a particular niche (and come up with two possible site concepts!)

I used those steps to go through keywords and verify that the niche I was looking into would be profitable. I also got a great idea for exactly what phrases people were looking for in the niche.

I was surprised by some of what I found, so it was good to get a feel for what people were really after. It also helped a rough plan for my site start to form in my head. I'll go through this more in-depth when I detail the content creation for the site.

One thing I found frustrating with keyword research was how many topics came up that were related to women who were already pregnant (my niche is targeting them before they get pregnant). Some of Market Samurai's filters and options really helped cut down on these irrelevant searches, so I was glad I was using a fully-featured tool. (You'll see me use some of these options on the video)

Products Here and Products There (Products… Everywhere!)

At this point I had a topic I was interested in, and I knew it had the search numbers to back it. I also know that there are a couple of well-established sites in the search engines but I feel pretty confident I can get myself into the top three and eventually #1 🙂

So the next thing was to figure out if people were really paying for this information. See, this is a topic that I can really help somebody find out information on, but I've done a lot of research on it. I've dug through a lot of stuff, and well, I've spent a lot of time organizing things. I want somebody who values my time and efforts enough to pay for it.

So, off I went to check out the money aspect:

  • Books on Amazon for sale? Check!
  • Products on Clickbank for sale? Check! (good gravity and sales are important, too… Check!)
  • Related products? Check!

There are physical products used by women in this niche, which I can recommend. One of my top affiliate merchants in my fertility niche has some products that can cater to these women. It's always great to know I can use a merchant that provides great products, offers a good commission, and pays their commissions!

This little niche market isn't a huge, booming market like weight loss… but it's definitely making money through information products and physical products.

Can We Start a Dialogue?

One final check for me before I solidified this niche as my site concept. I went and checked out forums.

People often say look and see if you can find forums to verify that there's traffic and interest. I knew that from my research above. The gold I mine in the forums is further information on exactly what my visitors are going to be looking for when they hit my site. Forum “hot topics” are exactly the gold I want.

You can also check out Twitter, Facebook, etc. – the social media sites to see what you can find. But this niche is a niche that women and families tend to be very private about, so they're much more likely to use a private forum dedicated to the niche than social media. Think about which fits your niche better.

Okay, so all of this research yielded me a nice niche where I have some interest. The numbers and sales potential back it up.

Please note I'm planning on making my own product funnel for this niche. I will serve some Adsense on the site, but it's not “made for ads” — it's made to sell my own products and funnel into my own back-end system 🙂 So I didn't really look too much at ad yields, other than as an overall traffic measure.

 Photo by stockerre

How to Get Free Pics for Your Blog Posts

Do you use pictures in your blog posts? You should – pictures capture attention immediately and help draw your reader into your subject matter. The problem is getting the pictures. Stock photos are great quality, but can quickly get very, very expensive, especially if you're producing a lot of content.

I recently discovered a great resource for photos, however, that doesn't cost any money. You just need to credit the photographer for his or her work. There's an almost infinite pool of photos to choose from, and you can search the pictures by keywords, concepts, and ideas.

Here's a quick video showing you how to use this resource:

I still use stock photos for graphics work and on pages (like sales letters, squeeze pages, etc) that I don't want to have to link back to someone. But for most blog posts I have found this to be an excellent resource!

What's your favorite resource for finding pictures?

Crack Writer’s Block: Writing the First Draft

A lot of writing. That's what I do. In fact, a lot might be an understatement. Some people think that writer's block doesn't happen to me because I write so much, but that's not true. I often find it challenging to write.

In fact, it's often really challenging to write something that's, well, challenging. I'm talking about writing a sales letter. Writing a contest entry. Writing yet another article in a niche I feel like I've written an encyclopedia about already.

I have a lot of different solutions for writer's block, but today I'm going to talk about writing that you find hard because it intimdates you. For instance, I don't have trouble with article marketing articles in the same way I do a sales letter.

A sales letter is scary. This is a sale on the line. It could be the difference between getting my product into someone's hands who really needs it… and having them pass by a great product because my letter, er, sucked.

A guest post is scary. A contest entry is scary. All of these things get more scrutiny than an article marketing article – than even an article on your blog. The rejection stings a little more. Maybe it pinches your wallet a bit more. So they're harder.

Cracking the Block

Here's my secret. I tell myself I just need to write the first draft.

That's it. It doesn't really matter how much it sucks. I'm the only one that's going to see it!

I know that after I write that out, get that initial draft down on paper, I will be able to go back and make changes. I can craft it and hone it into something that I'm reasonably pleased with. The most intimidating part is getting that first draft down.

Then I have raw material to work with. Words are like a sculpture that can be finely honed into something you're proud of, something to show off.

But it starts at the beginning. Just sit down and write the first draft. Nobody else will ever see it. Then you have something to work with, something to work on.

Pound Those Keys

I tell myself, as I sit down to get that first draft out, that I need to just do it. Sometimes it literally feels like I have to pain-stakingly chisel out every word… they don't come easily. In those cases, I remind myself something I learned from Site Build It! when I created my very first website. Ken Evoy, author of the guide, related a scene from Finding Forrester, where the advice given is to “pound the keys.”

So in the words of Sean Connery's character and Dr. Ken… “pound those keys, dawg!”

(Click here to get a free copy of that writing book)

Photo by matryosha

Static Website vs a Blog: Which Makes More Money?

One of the first things you realize when you decide to make money online is that there's a lot of debate on the best way to do it.  Huge debates center around your website.  Should you generate passive income by being a blogger or by setting up a static website?  I'll go over some advantages and disadvantages to both in this article.

Static Websites

A static website is a site that's built with the basic coding languages of the web, HTML and CSS.  These languages create websites that stay the same — they don't change in reaction to your visitor.  They can and often are quite beautiful, but they're not “dynamic.”

Understanding basic principles of HTML and CSS is important for any internet marketer, and a static website gives you a great introduction that that.

Static sites tend to be simpler to organize and their layout and navigation is often optimized to build a strong site that will become an authority in your niche (your area of interest).  Because of good central, visitor-focused navigation, these sites are often easily “crawled” by search engine spiders and get indexed into search engine listings.

Static sites generally load very quickly and are less likely to get bloated or bogged down, though it can happen.

You need to either use a text editor and code your website by hand, use an HTML coding program, or use a website builder to create your website.  Most hosts provide a website builder, but the host you choose will determine how high quality of a site your site builder can create.

Some people also find it harder to update a static website, though others find a lot of freedom in being able to create it the way they want to, using some dynamic elements such as server-side includes.

Dynamic Blogs

The most common type of dynamic website is the blog.  Blogging is very popular nowadays, but if you want to make a lot of money from your site, a traditional blog setup may not be best.  Organizing your site as a strong authority site, with some blogging elements is probably best.

Blogs dynamically generate a page by pulling information from a database as soon as a visitor hits your site.  They bring up, or render, your page in HTML and CSS when your visitor sees it, but there's a dynamic language powering the back-end (PHP is the most common on the web).

You can usually use a “theme” on your blogging platform to instantly change the look and feel of your site — no coding required.  It's also usually quite easy to enter new content.  Most blogging platforms have a visual editor that you write in just like a word processor.

Plugins are small scripts that can be added onto your blog to give it added functionality.  These plugins can add great features that enhance your site, but they can slow down your website or possibly make it vulnerable to hacker attacks.  Keeping your blog installation and plugins up-to-date can decrease these problems.

Blogs tend to be organized simply by categories, tags, and archives, rather than the logical and topical order of static websites.  This is fine if you're keeping a personal blog, but if you want people to see and utilize the information in your archives, it doesn't work so well.  Being purposeful in organizing your blog will help immensely.

It's sometimes hard to customize your blog.  Trying to work within the rules of your blog's script and theme can make you pull your hair out!  It's good to know some basic HTML and CSS to help you get what you want.

Which is For You?

So which option will make the most money?  The question depends on your level of experience and your business model.

If this is your first niche website, you set up a blog because it's “easy” — but you'll probably be more successful if you take the steps needed to set up a well-organized static site.  You'll learn the basics of HTML and CSS, and you'll also discover the best way to organize a website so you drive traffic to where you want it to go (your money-making pages).  If you're setting up an “authority site” that will have lots of information and money-making sources, a static site is a great option.

If you want to make money as a traditional “blogger” by simply voicing your opinions and tutorials, you can go for a blog.  A blog is easy to set up — you can generally be up and running in a few minutes.  If you're building a small niche site, a blog may work  best, especially if you're planning to set up a whole network of these sites rather than becoming an expert in your niche.

What you choose and what works for you will depend on your model and your experience — but both types of site will have a learning curve and will require that you work at them.

Photo by Sam Bald

A Review of the Stallion WordPress SEO Theme

You know that you need a premium theme if you're serious about creating your business with WordPress.  But with so many choices out there, it's hard to know what to pick.  I recently set up a niche site and decided to give the Stallion SEO Theme a test-drive with my site.  I've been incredibly impressed with the power and versatility built into this theme, as well as the responsiveness of the developer.

Easy Out-of-the-Box Setup

Click 'Activate' and it's ready to go!

Stallion is a piece of cake to get installed on your server.  I did have to upload it via an FTP program.  It's packed with features so the file size was more than my WordPress back-end wanted to upload.  No problem, I just unzipped the theme file and uploaded them into my themes folder.  Once I did that, it was one click to get it set as my theme.

The first place I visited was Stallion's general options.  You'll notice right away that everything there is to do with Stallion is extremely well-documented.  I have used other premium themes that have their own custom configuration menus like Stallion.  The difference is that David, Stallion's developer, has given instructions on each setting.  If the settings are more in-depth, there's a link directly to the help pages on Stallion's home site.  David has taken the time to set up help pages for every feature of Stallion.  It's very friendly, even for newbies.

The general page lets you register your copy of Stallion and input all your credentials for the built-in Adsense, Clickbank, and Chitika integration.  Yeah — that integration is all built in, along with integration for some major SEO plugins and other monitization services like in-text ads.

Any Color You Like

After setting up my Adsense and Clickbank, I headed right over to change the layout and color scheme.  Stallion has tons of different color choices.  It's easy to pick a color scheme that matches your visitor's expectations and fits well with your brand.

There are a lot of customization options beyond just color.  There are quite a few built-in headers to choose from, or David gives exact instructions for adding in a custom header.  I designed a custom header with my niche site's branding on it and had that uploaded and selected in Stallion's settings in a snap.

You can also easily change your background color to a new color or seamless texture.  Again, there's exact documentation on how do that and I had mine changed in seconds.

You can also choose from a wide variety of layouts with just about any column configuration you wish.  I wanted a two-column layout with a wide sidebar on the right (there are three column layouts, too).  All it took was one button click 🙂  It took me a little longer to figure out how to work with my column in the WordPress widgets panel.  This is where I found out personally that Stallion's developer David is quick to give personal response and very open to user feedback.  I was impressed!

There are instructions on how to use WordPress's new custom menus with Stallion and the integration worked perfectly with my top navigation menu.

My Stallion theme now looks really fantastic and fits my site's niche and branding perfectly.

A little peak at the start of my niche site...

I also want to add that Stallion inserts pictures into posts beautifully, with a border and nice padding.  It looks professional… something that other “premium themes” don't do so well.  Images are a big deal in blog popularity now — they should look good.

Custom Ad Layouts

One of the powerful features of Stallion is the ability to place ads just about anywhere you want in your theme's template.  I immediately used the widget to add an Adsense box to my site's sidebar and a small horizontal link unit just under my navigation menu.

Just some of the built in Adsense customization options

Adsense in WordPress is honestly one of the biggest pains when setting up a site.  You have to remember to manually add the code… or you have to use “shortcodes” to add it into your theme (which you also have to remember), or something doesn't look right, or this or that.  Stallion takes all that pain away.

You can choose where you want the ad to be in each post, and it will just be there!  You also pick the size you want and you can choose what colors you want your ads to be.  There's even a search box feature where Stallion will build a custom Google search box for you.

I haven't tried the search box yet, but I have inserted a large ad into the content of each of my posts and it works really nicely.

I did run into a problem… I wanted a static homepage for my site, and I didn't want an ad block in the same place on that page.  I looked at the Page Templates provided with Stallion and was thrilled to see “Static Page, No Ads, Main Content Only.”  Bingo.  Exactly what I wanted – just my content with no ads and no time/date stamp.

Stallion also has a number of other templates, including a single page, no sidebar template.  I used this to set up a squeeze page and it looks awesome — I'll also use it for a sales letter when I get this niche site's product done.

You can use Stallion set up your ads for Chitika and Clickbank so those networks can be featured in your ad blocks, too.

SEO and Tracking

There's complete documentation with each of these customization menus

Stallion keeps on going with SEO features and the ability to easily integrate tracking.  It was easy to install Google Analytics so I can keep track of my stats.  Along with Analytics integration, Stallion includes easy verification of your site in Google, Bing, and Yahoo's webmaster tools.

There's also a lot of opportunity for SEO and social networking.  Social Networking buttons can be quickly configured from the Promotion Options tab.  You pick which networks you want to show buttons for you and you can configure your buttons. You also decide where you want them to appear on your posts – all with the click of a button.  I do wish there was an option to have them both at the top and bottom of each post/page.

Stallion gives the ability to set up widgets for your social network profiles, Youtube video feeds, a Google Translate box, and more.  Plus there's set up for custom advertizing (so if you want to show affiliate banners in your sidebar, for example).

This leads to another great feature — built in affiliate link cloaking!  This is a great feature, especially if you're like me and plan to promote affiliate products on your blog.

Stallion makes it easy for you to optimize your main Meta Tags for SEO purposes, and it plays nicely with other SEO optimization plugins.

Summary

I have been really impressed with Stallion.  I'll admit that it took some time to go through all of the settings and get everything working.  There's a lot to it and tons of features, so it really does take focus to sit down and get it all set up the way you want it.  I spread the setup over a couple of days as I have gotten my niche site set up, and I still have a little exploring to do 😉

The good news is, it's packed with features!  There's also tons of help in the help files if you need it, and David has linked all the help files right on the configuration pages.  If you mess up, don't worry.  Each config page has a button that lets you reset to default values.

Sit down with Stallion SEO theme and in a couple of hours you'll have a blog that looks awesome to you and your visitors.  You can set up navigation that makes it easy for your visitors and the search engines to explore, meaning you get ranked faster and stay at the top.  Plus, it's easy to integrate Adsense and other monitization modules… so you make the money you deserve 🙂

Click Here to read about all of Stallion's premium features

I think Stallion is awesome, and I want you to know that I do receive an affiliate commission if you grab it via my link – I appreciate it 🙂

Keyword Research Tutorial

Keyword research is important to planning out your website and the pages that you write for your website.  Below you'll find a video that I recorded on how to do keyword research.  Here's my recommendations before you watch the video:

1.  Go ahead and download your Free Trial of Market Samurai, which is the tool I use in the video.  You'll be able to follow right along with me as I demonstrate different tactics.  If you decide to buy the pro version I'm using, you'll get a discount 🙂
2. Please watch in full screen so you can see everything that's going on well!
3. I cover a lot of concepts in this video, so go ahead and pause it if you need to.  Go back to a section that you're interested in or not sure about.  Feel free to follow along with your own keywords as you watch me explore my niche >^.^<

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Keyword research is incredibly important to your work online.  You can build a site without paying attention to keywords at all, but targeting keywords helps you to be more focused in your efforts and increases the chance that you'll get good returns with your search engine optimization (SEO).

You saw me find two possible niches in the video — I started with a really broad concept and drilled down to two related, but easier to conquer, keywords.  One of them is suitable for a nice niche site and can use a lot more keyword research to find related phrases to build a site around.  The other is better for a mini-site (which I don't really find worth doing).  But, having the option to explore both is good, and it gives you a handle on your market.

Use your keyword research to find an entire site concept like I demonstrated, then continue to find related keywords to build other pages on your site.  Order these logically into a site that your visitor finds valuable and the search engines will also like your site!  This becomes a great “blueprint” for what you want to do and guides in you in the initial construction of a great website.  It also gives you great ideas for products (yours or affiliate products) to feature on your site.

Thanks for watching!  Be sure to get your free trial of Market Samurai at http://www.milkandmud.com/marketsamurai

WordPress Categories vs. WordPress Tags

Did you know that from a search engine optimization perspective, WordPress categories are the same thing as WordPress tags?

I didn't know that!

In your WordPress database, tags and categories are treated exactly the same, and the search engines see them as essentially the same.

That means it's redundant to have a tag and category with the same name — if you do, you're essentially just applying the category to the tag. Some themes use tags and categories in different ways, but the database still stores tags/categories the same.

Here's an analogy that WordPress uses to explain how you should use them:

Categories: “Baking” and “Cookies”

Tags: “Chocolate,” “Macadamia Nut,” “Gluten-Free”

The categories are the broader, well, categories. The tags are something descriptive about ingredients. Somebody looking for all of your chocolate or gluten-free recipes could search by tag, and get recipes regardless of category.

I'm going to be doing a niche site case study over the next few weeks and talk more about organizing and planning out a WordPress site for search engine optimization. This quick tip provides something of a foundation to get started with 😉

Don't want to wait for my case study? I used Lisa's WordPress guide to help set up this site and I'll be working through it again throughout the niche site case study. Click here to grab it for yourself now.

Photo by feeliz

Profitable Keyword vs Passion: Which is More Important?

When you get started making an online business you hear a lot of different things.  The advice comes from all different directions and on any number of topics.  There are so many ways to make money online!  Two of the most common things to hear are “follow your passion” and “it just takes good keyword research and a niche.”

Which one of these do you pick?

They seem at odds — do you follow your interests and passions, or do you just go to where the money is?

Show Me The Money!

It's an overused phrase, but it sure is a good one.  You want to make money — preferably passive income that keeps working for you long after you've stopped working hard to make it.  You want your business to show you the money!

Doing keyword research based solely on how profitable something is makes a lot of sense when you think about it from this viewpoint.  You want to make money, so you're going to pick a topic that you know makes money!

It's Got to Have Passion

Of course, you also want to do something you're interested in.  Is it really worth slaving day after day, month after month, year after year over something that you really don't enjoy?

How are you even going to build a business around something that you don't enjoy?  Is it possible?  Surely people do it every day, but how fulfilling can it truly get?

Strike a Balance

What's important is that you balance things.  There are always going to be needed services that it's hard to get passionate about — how many people truly feel passionately inspired to be dry cleaners?  But if you want to build a business and see it through the early months (years) of scaling it up, building systems, and seeing a profit, you should be interested in it.

How can you do that and still make money?

Write down what you're interested in.  Don't stop there, though.  Write down what your problems are!  What are the top 6-7 things you're interested in?  What are the top 6-7 problems you're facing?

There's your jumping-off position, your starting place.  Start narrowing down those topics.  Research them.  If you have the interest, somebody else does, too.  If you have the problem… yep, somebody else does, too!

Take a look at what others are doing in your areas of interest and with your problems.  What solutions are out there?  What online businesses are built around them?  Are people pulling in passive income from this?

Don't be afraid of a little competition… if other people are making money, you can too.

Now you have a solid foundation for your research — based on something that relates to you, personally.  You'll be able to keep going with this project much more easily than if you just picked something for profit.  At the same time, however, you've built a pool of possible topics so you can select the most profitable one to build a business around.

A Foundation

Make that interest a small niche site to learn the ropes of passive income.  Or, realize you hit a winner and scale it up into a solid authority site.  Build out a mailing list.  Create a product.  You'll figure out what to do with it and plan the next profitable steps to your journey.

By the way, if you're interested in getting more information on how to profit from your passions (and how to know when your passion is profitable), Site Build It's system is the best I've seen.  It guides you, step-by-step, through sorting through your own unique interests (and problems) and figuring out which one you can scale into a rock-solid business.  Click here to get more information on how it can work for you.

Photo by bikehikedrive