Upgrading from Blogger to Entrepreneur with These 4 Tips

Anyone can have a blog and some people might even be fairly successful bloggers, whether “success” is defined by the amount of subscribers they have or how much money they make from their content. But there is a huge leap between being a blogger and blogging for a living. It’s not just about the number of hours you put into your business. If your website is gaining a lot of interest and you feel confident about taking the next step, here are a four tips to help you upgrade from casual blogger, to entrepreneur.

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Sort out your finances

Even if you’re not quite ready to quit your day job just yet, it’s a good idea to check on your financial situation before you attempt to become a full-time blogger. If your position is not so secure that you can afford to be without a guaranteed income for a while, it’s best to make a slow transition to your new career.

However, if you have a big enough safety net to get you through a few months, you’re confident that you can increase your blogging income fairly quickly, and you’re happy to take that leap of faith, then go ahead and take the plunge. Neither one of these options is better than the other; it’s more about what’s the right move for you.

Check your hosting platform

When you first started blogging, you might have been content to have a functioning hosting platform free of charge. But if you want to seem more professional, it might be time to pay for a website that doesn’t end in “wordpress.com”.

To get your research off to the right start, you need to read MangoMatter’s managed WP hosting page reviews. This will give you a better idea of which platforms offer the best support, cost, bandwidth, disk space, and are more popular with users. Don’t be afraid to go for a hosting platform that offers better templates and layouts; you might have done well with a simple blog before, but now it’s time to step up your game.

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Increase your presence

You’ve already established your brand, and you’ve generated enough interest to consider doing this full-time. Most of the hard work is already complete, you just need to appeal to a larger audience. Reach out to other bloggers and ask if you can collaborate on a project, or get in touch with retailers an offer to promote some of their merchandise through affiliate marketing.

Create a page on Facebook, and separate profiles on Twitter, Instagram, or anywhere else that might be relevant. You’re no longer promoting your hobby on your own social media pages, you’re promoting a business that needs its own platform.

Improve your content

Content is king; it’s what got your readers interested in your blog, and it’s what got you into your current position. Now it’s time to step up your research, style, and topics for a fresh audience. The more successful you get, the more your content has to improve.

Tax Doesn’t Have to Be Taxing When It Comes to Your Blog!

You know you’ve landed on your feet when you find a hobby that also earns you money. Something you genuinely enjoy doing but also pays — sometimes so well you can turn it into a full-time job! If you started blogging as a way to share your knowledge, improve your writing and connect with others, you might have landed yourself in this very position. Companies pay very well to be featured on blogs because they’re aware of how much influence they have.

Even if you didn’t set up your blog with this intention when companies start contacting you and are interested in paying you to feature their links and information it does change things a little. Once you’re earning money, it means you have to declare your income and complete a tax return (even if you have nothing to pay, the tax office will still want to know about it).

In fact, the Internal Revenue Code states that all income is taxable unless it is specifically exempted. The IRS states if you work as a blogger it means you run your own business, which is covered by the same tax laws that apply to most other kinds of jobs. So what do you have to bear in mind when it comes to paying tax?

Please bear in mind, this might not be applicable to all countries.

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At what point is my blog classed as a business?

If your blog is a hobby and you’ve not earned any money from it yet, but you want to in the future- this can be a bit of a gray area. The IRS says that you need to be actively engaged in trying to make a profit and this must be for at least three out of the last five years. So if you’re in this position but are yet to earn money, you should be able to set up as a business.

If you’re earning money from your blog regardless of how small, you are most likely to be classed as a business. This can be useful as you are able to claim any losses for your business on your tax return. This can be anything from furniture, equipment, insurance, even utility bills if they relate to your business.

Things like domains and hosting could also be deducted, this is something that can be quite pricey for bloggers especially when you’re not earning any money yet. The problem with cheap WordPress hosting is that it often lacks in support which can be problematic when you’re new to the game. So it can make sense to spend a little more here.

What is self employment tax?

People who work for themselves will pay self-employment tax, this is a social security and Medicare tax. When you pay this, it provides you with a range of benefits, for example, retirement, disability and hospital insurance benefits.

Once your blog earnings exceed $400 you will liable to pay this, and even if you work as an employee and pay tax on that — your blogging income will still count as self-employment income. Even if it’s just on a part time or casual basis.

So it’s something that will still have to be paid, regardless of whether you owe any federal income tax. If you withhold your tax payments or only pay based on an estimate, you will most likely have to pay a penalty. If you run into any legal or tax issues, speak to a lawyer who specializes in the field.

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What is estimated tax?

Something that traditional employees of a company don’t have to worry about but which you will face as a self-employed blogger are estimated taxes. As you don’t have an employer to pay these for you (since you are essentially your own boss), you will need to pay a quarter of your estimated taxes to the IRS.

These will need to be filled out if you estimate that your tax bill will be one thousand dollars or more. Estimated tax is used to pay towards things like income tax, as well as your self-employment tax and alternative minimum tax. Again it’s worth mentioning that even if you have a full-time job and blogging is a part time or casual thing for you this will still need to be paid.

It’s separate from your main employment, so the payments made won’t count towards your blogging income. If you get stuck, you could always just hire an accountant to deal with things for you!

Have you had to deal with tax as a blogger yet? How easy or complicated did you find it?

Blogging 101: Safety and Security

Everyday, hackers go onto the Web and look for loopholes to exploit. When they find them, they seize their opportunity and install malware and other nasty software. You’re probably thinking: ‘how does this affect me?’ Well, you’re a blogger, aren’t you? As a blogger, you can’t afford random thieves to access your pride and joy and flood your site remotely. Sadly, far too many people with websites and blogs don’t take its safety and security seriously. After all, they only target big enterprises, right?

For the bloggers who aren’t secure enough, this is your lucky day. Underneath are the tips and tricks that transform your site into a digital Fort Knox minus the gold.

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Change Your Login Details

Firstly, platforms like WordPress have default settings for new users. Hackers know this, too, which is why the login details need personalising as soon as possible. A tip is to use a different password than normal and to include capital letters, signs, and numbers.

Besides this, you should also change your password on a regular basis. Pass codes which stay the same are easier to hack because it gives the thief fewer combinations to guess. Lastly, use Captcha to prevent programs from entering the site with brute force.

Update Plugins

Bloggers love to use widgets because they add to the user experience. Anyway, you need to share content, and social media is the quickest and most accessible way to hit the brief. Unfortunately, the features that you think are your friend can, in fact, turn into an enemy.

Plugins and software programs have bugs and glitches – it’s an occupational hazard. As a result, there are weak spots for hackers to target as a means to access the site. Updating these features makes them more secure as the upgrades contain fixes.

Invest In Quality Antivirus Software

The best way to secure your blog is to install antivirus software. But, how do you know what is good and what isn’t? The answer lies in the price. Any program that is free or cheaper than the competition isn’t comprehensive enough. This is especially true if they have a free and a paid version because they will hold features back.

Also, consider unbiased sources and what they have to say about the software. If someone you trust believes manufacturers make the best malware removal programs for PC, don’t take the advice lightly. As long as they have experience and expertise, their counsel is important.

Back Up Data

It is worth saying that backing up your data won’t prevent an attack. Still, sometimes a hacker isn’t easy to stop. Quite simply, hacks are inevitable at some point of another. The sooner you understand this, the better because you can begin to pick up the pieces.

By backing up your data, for example, you can reset the blog to the last saved point. Hopefully, this will prevent you from losing any important or sensitive data.

As the saying goes, the best do the basics well.

The Brilliance of Blogging: Is Your Business Missing Out?

Most businesses are looking for ways to establish an online presence and improve their SEO ranking. While social media can be incredibly influential, this is not the only way to go about getting your name out there on the web. If your business doesn’t already have a blog, you could be missing out. Blogging can be a brilliant means of reaching out to your target market and optimizing pages that promote your business and will hopefully drive sales. Here are some benefits of blogging and some tips to help you find the best bloggers out there.

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The benefits of having a blog

If you have a website for your business and you’re keen to drive traffic and get more people talking about your company, it’s almost certain that you could benefit from running a blog. Blogging is an effective component of a content marketing strategy, and it can help you to bridge the gap between the company and clients, give you more presence online and improve your SEO ranking.

By posting articles on a regular basis, you can provide your target market with important information about your company or the products you sell, you can interact with existing and new customers, and you can set yourself apart from your competitors.

Finding the best bloggers

Writing blogs is not as simple as putting some thoughts down on paper and hoping for the best. If you’re not blessed with writing talents, it’s wise to look for people who are. The good news is that there are thousands of bloggers out there who would probably be keen to appear on your blog. When you’re on the lookout for guest bloggers, don’t be afraid to be picky.

The people who are trying to secure your business should be aware of the competition, and they should make a great pitch to garner your interest. You don’t want somebody who tells you their name and just asks if you want to feature their posts on your website. You want a blogger who looks like they’re read an article about how to write the perfect guest post pitch and has experience and expertise in your field, enthusiasm, and ideas that match your expectations.

Don’t be afraid to ask for examples of titles they’d like to put forward or read some previous submissions. Quality content makes all the difference, so take your time to find the best people for the job.

Blogging basics

If you’re new to the concept of blogging, there are some simple rules. Make sure you update your blog with fresh, engaging content on a regular basis, but avoid bombarding readers. Make sure the topics are relevant and share your posts on social media. Optimize the content and encourage interaction. Always remember that quality is more important than quantity.

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If you own a business and you’re not au fait with blogging yet, it’s time to make some changes and get with the program. Blogging is a great way of connecting with a wider audience and putting your company on the map. If you don’t want to blog yourself, look for others who can do a brilliant job for you. Focus on posting quality content, keep the blog fresh, and make sure you spread the word when your posts are up and ready to read.

Don’t Neglect These Three Key Things in Business

Business is complex, there’s so much more to it than simply having a good product or service. Getting your name out there, building up loyal customers and ensuring you are delivering an excellent service every time is easier said than done. Here are three things that are easily overlooked but necessary to get on board with, if you’re serious about making your business a success.

Branding

Branding is crucial when it comes to business. It’s much more than just a logo or website (although these are of course important). It’s about tapping into the psychology of the customer. Once you work out exactly what they want, your brand can essentially sell them a certain kind of lifestyle — not just a product.

Work out your unique selling point and go from there, aim to give customers something they can’t easily get elsewhere. There may be a thousand companies selling carpets out there for example, so how is yours different? Maybe you offer a payment plan, or offers for those on a low-income. Perhaps you specialise in luxury or budget carpets.

Whatever it is, use that to help you create your brand. Customers trust brands because they are seen as credible and reliable, they know you have a reputation to uphold. Branding is incredibly powerful, and definitely not something to overlook as an entrepreneur. You could have the best product or service in the world, but it’s not necessarily going to sell itself.

Being able to captivate people and grab their attention is key to your success in business.

Business Cards

Now that just about everything is online, it’s easy to overlook traditional methods of promotion like flyers and business cards.

As a business owner, you should be networking effectively, and that means having your information on hand to pass over when needed. If you’re at a convention or event with lots of entrepreneurs and potential clients mixing, it would be foolish to expect or rely on people remembering your information.

You can design and print cards on this website and many others. It’s inexpensive and could be exactly what’s needed to snag you those all important clients and customers.

Blogging

Business is highly competitive, and your company is a small fish in an enormous pond. You might have a professional, well put together website, but really it’s floating out in cyberspace and is very difficult for people to find.

One way you can make it a little easier is by writing a business blog. When you write a blog, you begin to gain a loyal following. Blog posts attract social shares, so if you put useful content out there people will basically advertise it for free by sharing it.

You can use your blog to promote your product and services, and over time it will help to boost your page rank in search engines too.

 

Had you overlooked any of these regarding your business? What important factors do you feel shouldn’t be overlooked to ensure success?

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How to Increase Your Online Presence Well Beyond Your Website

You’ve just built yourself a website for your business. You’re feeling overly-confident. The phone will start ringing any moment and business will start flooding in. Wrong.

Sadly, there’s more to online marketing than simply having a site. In this digital age, the internet has become so crowded that standing out now takes a lot of signposting. You can’t just be in one place — you need to be all over the web. Here are just six (6) ways that you can adopt to increase your online presence, guaranteeing those leads and making your competitors sick of seeing your brand.

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Online Ads

One way to dominate the web is to pay for internet ads. The most common type of internet ad is Pay Per Click (PPC) ads. You pay a certain amount of money for a certain amount of clicks. Your ad is then displayed until a certain amount of people click on it, guaranteeing interaction. The effectiveness of internet ads has been debated – just make sure that your ad is well designed and that you’re not throwing money at the first company you can find.

Social media

Social media allows you a platform that’s much like a website but more interactive. A Facebook business page and Twitter business page are recommended. Through engaging content you can then generate followers that hopefully turn into leads. Instagram meanwhile is great for sharing images of your work — good on a business to consumer level. Linked In on the other hand is a great networking tools for finding other companies to work with or new employees — better on a business to business level. A social media agency may be able to handle all this for you if you haven’t got the time to regularly post content. Such a company can also help create engaging content that will build you a formidable following (make sure to also invite all your friends, family, employees and past clients to like and follow on all platforms).

Review sites

Don’t shy away from review sites such as Trip Advisor. Embracing these sites can give you more of a chance to collect and show off positive feedback, which can be used to improve your online reputation. Yes, you will get some negative reviews, but there are many ways to outweigh this negative feedback. You can encourage happy clients to say some nice words about you (there’s also nothing stopping you from encouraging friends and family from leaving reviews). Also make sure that you’re responding to negative criticism appropriately. Openly apologise and show that you’re willing to accept your faults (unless of course it truly is a troll, in which case feel free to dismiss them).   

Blogging

Blogging is another way of improving your online presence. Many business owners will write regular blog posts on their website that give advice to clients and aspiring entrepreneurs. This can help to improve your reputation and increase the content of your website, offering people more doors to enter your site through. You can also write guest posts on other people’s blogs. This can be a good cross-promotion strategy — you write a post on someone else’s site and they write a post on yours. Always remember to use social media to promote each post you publish. You may even be able to use a plug-in to automatically share every post you write.

Video marketing

No, I’m not suggested you fork out thousands for a TV ad. Thanks to video-sharing giants like YouTube, creating your own video advertisements has never been easier. There are companies that can create YouTube ads for you. Alternatively, you can do it yourself (DIY) — setup your own channel and start your own vlog, like YouTuber Casey Neistat. Like blogging, vlogging provides another platform that you can use to give advice to fellow business owners and clients. All you need is a high-quality camera and a decent microphone and you’re all set up to go. These days you can even get started with a smartphone just as long as it has a really good lens. Once the content’s created and uploaded to YouTube, be sure to share your videos across your social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).

Online press

Online magazines, newspapers and major blogs are a little harder to break into and can often require a public relations (PR) team behind you. You’ll need an interesting story to offer the press. This could be a business success or a personal success that you can then link to your company. Local news can often be a great place to target if you’re a small business. You might be able to advertise the opening of a shop, an award you’ve won or a charity event that you organised. A PR company will be able to help you come up with a creative hook that could get journalists interested. You should also consider online radio stations and podcasts. No matter how small, they will give you that extra bit of coverage that helps to get your brand out there online.

It’s Time to Start Blogging for Business

Blogging was once a hobby that has now gone professional. Blogs have moved so far from the musings of bored teens and are now a real cornerstone of the online world. Blogs used to be more like a journal — you’d blog to simply put your personal opinions on topics out there to the world. Now, they’ve evolved and can offer a competitive advantage in the digital age. If you’re running a business and you want to bring more visitors in, it’s time to start blogging for business.

Your blog for business? It will be tailored to your business. If you’re a larger business you might look to focus on industry trends, while smaller businesses might write blogs with more of a personal feel to them.

Where do you publish your business blog? Some companies choose to place them on their existing business site and other businesses choose to register a whole new website for the purpose of blogging for business. WordPress (free and self-hosting) and Blogger are two popular options. It’s really up to you to decide what you want to do! The important thing is that you actually decided to do take that first step towards blogging.

You blog for business for a big reason — to bring more views (traffic) to your site with fresh, organic content. There’s something to be said about those last words; “fresh and organic” works for your business, as much as it does for your online presence. Each blog post adds a new indexed page to your website and it tells search engines that “Hey! This site is active and new!” That’s a really good thing, especially if you are relying on search engines like Google and Bing to get noticed. Otherwise you’ll just be sitting rudderless in an ocean of competitors, who are willing to add content to their sites every day.

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Content? On blogs it is mostly the written word, but there is certainly a lot of scope to branch out to different mediums. You have to ensure you are writing content relevant to your business — otherwise it defeats the original purpose. If your business sells pottery, look to write about art and design. If your business offers social media assistance, write about the digital marketing and communications industry. Branching out is a good idea and your blog can be a truly multimedia thing — podcasts, videos, and so on. It is only limited by your imagination and the scope of your skill set. These are interesting things to add and should certainly be considered.

Finally, a blog can be a business as well — when it is monetised through advertisements, affiliate marketing or big enough to attract sponsors. This makes it an attractive proposition for anyone working from home. A lot of people who get into blogging might be working from home – or a business might be run online which is why it is a good idea to invest in a P.O. Box. This keeps your personal address hidden – especially important if you are running a business from your house.

It’s very easy to start blogging; it’s much harder to do it well, but it’s not impossible once you’re open to learning by doing. Drive traffic to your website on the back of some dedication, posting consistency, uniqueness, creativity, and of course, hard work.

Allow the World to ‘See’ Your Ideas

Yesterday was probably the most excited I’ve been about any of the work I put out since I started writing blogs. I was blessed to have had the opportunity to contribute a blog to Virgin.com.

I won’t ruin it for you, but like I had said in my previous blog it was on turning an idea into reality. My blog featured one of the world’s youngest company founder, CEO and inventor at just 13 years old. His idea is driven by the desire to help people with a particular disability.

I wanted to share his story, but I also wanted to expand my writing to another platform other than my own. I felt it was important for me to reveal the lessons I uncovered just by observing how far he’s taken his idea. Dream a little bigger than you did the day before.

Without further ado, here’s my blog:

10 lessons on developing ideas from Shubham Banerjee’s story

Leave a comment and share it with your friends and colleagues.

“A goal is a dream with a deadline.” — Napoleon Hill

“A goal is a dream with a deadline.” — Napoleon Hill

Have you recently set any goals for yourself? Great! But did you attach a timeline? If you didn’t then now’s the time to write down when you’d like to achieve each and everyone of them.

My most recent goal was posting one blog per week. You’re reading my second blog for the week and if I keep this up, I’ll be rounding close to 52 to 104 blogs by the end of this year.

Setting timelines for yourself really gets you closer to accomplishing your goals. Jump to it! Time is of the essence!!

Content Marketing Is No Buzzkill, but the New Buzzword!

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It’s so weird how we see buzzwords floating in cyberspace all the time, but you never stop to really understand some of them until you come across just the right article.

The new buzzword for me (and I’m certain some of you reading this) is ‘content marketing’. Simply put, and this is a definition of my own, “content marketing is giving useful information to your customers that can add value to their lives and businesses.”

Perhaps one of the most important lessons I’ve learned since starting and running a business has been that you have to give to get. We owe it to our customers to not only offer them a premium product and service, but to help them outside of the sphere of a business transaction. Ironically, adding value to your customers’ lives can translate into further business opportunities for you.

Right now the concept of content marketing is fashionable. Tomorrow it still will be, but perhaps we’ll be calling it something else. In any instance continue finding an outlet to help your customers like giving tips over social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Better yet, add visual tips too via Instagram and Pinterest. Blogging is phenomenal as a foundation for content marketing and I would encourage you to start your own blog whether you’re a business owner or freelancer. A useful tip is to try and write on topics you’re familiar with (tips, advice, lessons learned, etc.); tell your own story too and try to do so on a daily or monthly basis.

Or perhaps micro-blogging is ideal for you and this will allow you to post bit size pieces of digital content that varies — text, pictures, links, short videos, or other media via the Internet. Sir Richard Branson (Virgin Mogul) does it well and his blog site is a great example of mixing blogging and micro-blogging to create great content. I try to give useful information to both entrepreneurs and freelancers that include topics and tips around graphic design, trademarks, branding, and marketing.

Content marketing is not just for BIG brands or marketers. Research shows that 82% of the people who blog on a daily basis, see a return of investment (ROI) when compared to the 57% who blog monthly (see infographic, via Entrepreneur Magazine). That data just inspired me to make the effort to blog daily and I hope it does the same for you.

Whatever the medium, make it interesting and valuable. I’m sure your existing customers and prospective ones will be grateful. Ultimately, all your efforts will end up becoming a win-win for the both of you.

What kind of value are you adding to your customers’ lives? I’d appreciate you leaving a comment below.