Sunday, 22 September 2013

3 Free Blog Genesis Child Themes To Try Out

You just purchased the Genesis theme framework and you want to build a blog with it. The default Genesis child theme is ok. It's kind of plain though. What would really make your blog stand out though is a shiny new child theme. But do you want to shell out more cash for a premium child theme? If you have the money to spend sure. But as an alternative, you could go with one of the many free Genesis framework child themes that are available.

Since the Genesis theme framework is so wildly popular these days, there are a number of free child themes available for it. In this post, I'm going to list 3 child themes that would work really well for your next blog. So try them out for yourself, and let me know what you think of them.


Breakpoint is a sleek looking blog theme developed by Brad Potter. it features a black header and white background which makes it a very readable theme.


Fluid is a terrific child theme that can be used for any blog. It was designed by Nick the Greek. Like its name implies, this is a fluid width theme that will resize itself based on the visitors browser window.


Base is a child theme developed by Bill Erickson. While it's meant to be a base theme for other child themes to be based off of, it's actually like a nice looking theme in it's own right. Give it a try, especially if you want to make your own child theme. 

What do you think of these 3 blogging child themes? Would you consider using them on your next blog? I mean, they're free to download, so why not try them out yourself.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Popular and Successful Blogging Niches

Unlike a few years ago, making some serious money online is a very realistic prospect today. In fact, a lot of bloggers are ditching their 9 to 5’s in favor of online-earning opportunities, and using their blogs as their sole source of income and livelihood.

If you’re also one of those who aspire to make money via blogging, it is essential to be able to identify and choose a profitable niche – a niche that interests you, a niche that you will be able to produce content for, and a niche that allows you to earn a buck or two.

For this purpose, the said niche should be popular, and should have the potential to attract a large audience. There should be a sizeable amount of people interested in it, and willing to read up on your blog or buy what you have on offer.

Here is a list of 8 of the most popular, profitable blogging niches out there (plus honorable mentions that didn’t make the list), that are certain to get a large amount of traffic. Mind you, the competition will be stiff for each one of these (which is why they’re so popular), so good luck!

8.  Video Games

The video gaming industry has been on a steady rise since a good part of the decade now. Gaming consoles (Xbox and the PlayStation) sales have been on the rise, but most notably, video game sales have increased by tenfold during these years, despite the fact that piracy continues to plague this industry more than ever.

According to the Google AdWords Keyword Tool, the term ‘video games’ currently gets 6.12 million global monthly searches.

So since the video gaming niche is very popular, it is then quite understandable that websites catering this niche are some of the most profitable ones! As the number of video gamers and gaming enthusiasts grows, everyone wants to know about the latest game releases, read reviews, look up cheats, and the like.

Popular blogs in this niche include IGN and GameSpot.

7. Movies

The keyword movies gets a massive 506 million global monthly search queries! That is a massive number, which makes movies one of the most popular and profitable niches on the internet.

Like the video gaming industry, search queries for the keyword ‘movies’ and other related keywords have been on the up as well, which means that it is another popular blogging niche, which will probably continue to reach even higher numbers in the future.

Popular blogs in this niche include The Guardian Movies Blog, Yahoo Movies, Rotten Tomatoes, and of course, IMDB.

6. Celebrities

Human beings have a natural want or an urge to know and read about other human beings. This is one of the reasons why celebrity and celebrity gossip blogs tend to be extremely popular.

Everyone seems to like reading about the interesting lives of celebrities. 

Despite the fact that keywords such as celebrity and celebrity gossip have seen a decline in interest recently (according to Google Trends), the keyword ‘celebrity’ for instance, gets 20.4 million global monthly searches, while other keywords such as celebrity gossip, celebrity photos/videos, and celebrity news also tend to do quite well.

Writing about celebrities is also interesting, requires no qualifications as such, and all that is required is an interest in the entertainment sector.

Popular blogs include the likes of TMZ, PerezHilton, and EW.

5. Pets

The pets keyword gets 13.6 million global monthly queries on Google. However some of the other keywords in this niche, such as dogs (almost 46m queries), pet (37.2m), and puppies and puppy (16m) easily outnumber it.

And while it might be quite a popular niche, the competition, according to the Google Keywords Tool, is quite stiff for most of these keywords.

Nonetheless, it is a big niche and there is a genuine interest in this niche, evident by the amount of search queries that some of those keywords get, as well as this ProBlogger article. Google Trends backs this up as it shows that there has been a rise in the interest/search volume in this niche in the recent few years, even if it’s been very little.

Here is a list of some of the popular pet blogs out there.

4. Health and Weight Loss

Ask yourself this: how many times have you Google’d up a health-related problem or an issue – major or minor, before going to the doctor? Did you even go to the doc’s or were you able to find the answers on a website you found off of Google?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the health niche (83.1m monthly searches) and it’s many sub-niches also get tons of search queries. But what surprised me was that according to Google Trends, the number of search volume has actually been on a steady decline!

Nonetheless, it remains a popular niche, with new blogs and websites popping up every day and some reaching unprecedented levels of success as well. Here is a list of 9 profitable health niches.

Fitness and weight loss are two big sub-niches in the health category. Fitness, for instance gets 37m monthly queries, and the number has also been on the rise. Weight loss gets, 11.1m, according to the AdWords Keyword Tool, and related keywords like diet (30m) are pretty popular as well. Mind you, these number have seen a pretty healthy growth in the last 3 or 4 years.

(Word of advice: Do not venture into this niche if you’re not a qualified doctor or a health professional, and know what you’re talking about).

3. Relationships and Online Dating

Relationships and online dating niches have keywords that are quite popular – ‘single’ (68m queries!), dating (20m), friend (55m), marriage (24m), date (83m!!), to name just a few of them.

People mostly turn to the internet to seek relationship advice, meet other singles, find answers to common relationship problems, improve their relationships, etc. Blogs operating in this niche hence usually tend to get a large amount of traffic.

As more and more singles turn to the internet to seek relationship advice and turn to online dating, now would be the perfect time to look to venture into this niche.

Popular online dating portals include OkCupid, POF, EHarmony and, while there are tons of relationship advice blogs on the internet as well.

2. Technology

Technology is a big niche, and it includes a lot of popular related ‘sub’ niches as well, which could very well be separate niches on their own. I’m talking about stuff like phones (Android, Apple, iOS, tablets, iPhones and iPads, etc.), video games, computers and PCs (windows, Macs, Intel, Microsoft, etc.)… you get the idea.

Technology blogs that cover a wide range of topics hence tend to do pretty well too. Some of the popular keywords in this niche – all of which have experienced a monumental rise in search volume and a fair bit of success over the last few years – include apple, android, windows, iPhone and iPad to name only a few.

It would be a good idea to check what some of the popular keywords are which fall under the technology domain. Having said that, technology-blogs can be goldmines, and success is as good as guaranteed with this niche.

Popular tech blogs include Engagdget, Cnet, TechCrunch, Technorati, Redmond Pie, and Gizmodo.

1. Blogging Tips and Making Money Online

Blogging tips, internet marketing, and making money online (plus other related sub-niches and keywords) are some of the keywords that have recently gained a lot of popularity all across the world.

Despite the fact that these keywords don’t get as much monthly search traffic as some of the other niches mentioned in this article, the numbers for all of these keywords shows a rising and a pretty encouraging trend.

As the trend of earning money online and earning through blogging goes up, and as more and more people strive to earn from home and gain financial independence rises, this niche will continue to thrive. New bloggers want to learn from their successful and experienced peers. A lot of people in this niche are look for help, tips and tricks, while the others are using their blogs to provide these.

In short, everyone wants to (and is looking for easy ways to) make money online. If this is your area of expertise, you should certainly look into providing your users with information, tips, help and suggestions on this.

Mind you, this niche is quite vast, and does require the writer/blogger to have a certain amount of knowledge about web development, web designing, programming and the like, in order to attain credibility in the eyes of the readers.

Lastly, this niche includes social media as one of it’s sub-niches, so it is essential to have an ample amount of knowledge about social media/mediums, and the ability to be able to cover a wide range of social media topics.

Other profitable and popular niches (Honorable Mentions)

- Finance (financial improvement, stock markets, investment opportunities, etc)

- Photography (a very popular niche that could easily get tons of extremely targeted traffic)

- Fashion (fashion trends, fads, etc. If this is one of your interests, writing/blogging about it should be a big deal)

- Automobiles and Motoring Blogs (general car blogs are quite popular)

- Sports blogs (covering/following specific teams, a particular sport, or a wide range of sports like ESPN)

Monday, 5 November 2012

How to Write Great Blog Posts and Become a Better Blogger

The process of creating quality content for your blog, at a regular period of time can be quite hard. However those who are able to do so ultimately go on to become some of the best bloggers out there.

Here are a few elements of a quality blog post, all of which will allow you to become a winner in the blogosphere:

1. Start with the visitors in mind: First things first: as a blogger, your first priority should be to think of your visitors and the people who would be interested in what you’re offering, aka. your potential customers. All your content should be created with the sole purpose and aim of catering to the needs and interests of the people in your niche, and providing them with solutions.

2. Plan your posts: Plan your posts before you begin to write them. This will allow you to structure your posts, and make it easier to write them. Planning a post in your head works, however I recommend keeping a pad and a pen handy and making a list of all the points that you would want to include in your post, the order in which you would want to put them in, and make any notes. The planning phase is closely tied to the first point, and ensures that any content that you develop is findable, readable, understandable and shareable.

3. Do your research: It is essential to do your research before sitting down to write about something. If you’re blogging about a particular niche, you already know quite a bit about it and you probably make a conscious effort to keep on top of any and all developments in that niche. However at the same time, you should spend some time doing a bit of research on it. This will allow you to verify your facts and get them straight, as well as learn about any new developments that you might not have been aware of. Thanks to the internet, looking stuff up isn’t as time-intensive as it used to be. You can of course look stuff up on Google, as well as on social media (such as Twitter or LinkedIn) or do it the ‘old way’ and hit your local library. And of course, remember to properly quote and accredit everything that you use in your post.

4. Think of what format will be the most suitable: The great thing about writing for your own blog is the freedom that you get when it comes to creating content for it! For instance you have list-based posts, info-based (paragraph) posts, interviews, video-based posts, infographic-based post, case studies, Q&A post, link-based posts where you list down links to older articles from your own blog, or interesting links from the internet, etc. It all essentially depends on the subject/theme of what you’re writing on and what the best way would be to write about it. For a comprehensive list of 52(!) blog post types, check this link on ProBlogger.

5. Titles are important: The title of your post is perhaps the most important part of it – it is the first thing that your visitors will see (which means that whether a someone goes on to read the full post depends on it) and it will also show up in the SERPs. Give your post the best possible title that you can possibly give. From a SEO perspective, there are certain rules that need to be followed, such as the inclusion of keywords. However that is not to say that you cannot craft a great title for your post. The title needs to be catchy, an attention-grabber, and relevant to the post.

6. Calls to action: A good post makes a great point, and then asks the reader to do something, essentially known as a call-to-action (or CTA for short). A CTA, usually placed at the end of a post but can be put just about anywhere, is something that calls upon the readers to take a specific action – such as leaving a comment, asking for the answer to a question, asking them to subscribe to your blog, buy your new plugin, ‘like’ your Facebook page, or anything else.

7. Categorize your posts: Your blog should already have a certain number of specific related categories. Any post that goes up on your blog should be able to fit into at least one of these categories. For instance if you have a blog on ‘technology’, it would probably have the following categories: windows, mobile, Android, iOS, gadgets, gaming consoles, etc. Any post that you do should be relevant to one of these categories, and hence be able to fit into one of them.

8. Meta descriptions are essential: Meta descriptions are very important from an SEO perspective. These descriptions are the ‘snippets of text’ that show up in the SERP when your website or one of your pages shows up on Google. Use meta descriptions to accurately describe what the post/page is about, and use a maximum of 160 characters for this purpose.

9. Add multimedia: The hallmark of a good blog and in particular a good post is that it consists of a variety of different elements, and does a great job of creating a balance between their usage. Text, pictures and images, infographics, embedded videos, tweets, and the like, all these things should be used in a post, without one overshadowing the other; a big wall of text, or over-usage of images in a single post will end up looking quite. However it is important to add images and videos wherever required, as it might help get your point across in a much better manner (infographics can be quite useful here).

10. Don’t think too much about word count: Simply put, quality always takes precedence over quantity in my book. Concentrate on quality, instead of focusing on writing at least an x amount of words. It all depends on what you’re writing about, and the depth and detail you would want to go to. Some posts might take 400 words, others might go on to 4000. Bottom line is that quality > quantity!

10. Proof-read your posts: Proof-reading your post once you’re done writing them, and before you press the publish button, is vital. Check your posts thoroughly for any grammatical or factual errors. Edit sentences if required. Split them into paragraphs wherever necessary.

11. Add an author bio: It is essential to add a little something about your own self to the post. Readers are interested in knowing about the person who wrote the post (and other details about him/her, such as what he/she does for a living). It also helps to add a bit of credibility to your post; for instance, as a professional photographer with 15 years of experience behind you, putting this bit of information in your post would give it that much more credibility if your post is on ‘DSLR photography tips on how to use a wideangle lens for landscape photos’.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

A Checklist of Essential Things to Do After Writing a Blog Post

Crafting a good blog post takes time, and a lot of focus. However it is only half of the game.

Once you’ve written an excellent post for your blog, give yourself a quick pat on the back, and make sure you immediately take your attention towards taking care of these important list of tasks, or what I like to call ‘post-post essentials’. Note that a lot of these things need to be done before you publish your post. After the post goes live, it’s essentially all marketing, link-building and getting the word out.

1. Write a relevant, catchy, short post-title that does an apt job of telling visitors what the post is about, and includes relevant keywords as well. Sure, you may already have written a good title for your post, and it’s totally okay to stick with that. However I recommend revisiting your header/title in order to optimize it after finishing your post and before hitting that publish button.

2. Optimize your post’s URL. Doing this is extremely important and a lot of bloggers out there seem to ignore this. Although URL optimization is a vast field in itself, it is important to (a) put in any and all relevant keywords in there (especially your primary keyword), without stuffing keywords, (b) keep it as short as possible – 5-8 words at max, which are easier to share over social networks (use a service like for this purpose) (c) use hyphens between words (instead of underscores or anything else), (d) all alphabets should be lower case, as URLs are case-sensitive, and (e) eliminate words such as ‘a’, ‘the’, ‘it’ etc. A good example of an optimized URL for this article, for instance, would be

3. Internal linking is essential and a great SEO habit. It keeps link juice within your blog (maybe even transfer some of it to lower-ranking pages), and helps improve your Google PR. Internal links are also convenient for your readers, as they provide them with relevant information easily. Make sure that you pick up a couple of old posts on your blog – relevant to the current article of course – and link to them.

4. After hitting the publish button, it is essential to put up the post on social mediums. For this purpose, I recommend posting a tailor-made update to each medium – perhaps include a sentence, an image or a teaser from the post with the update. Send out an update on Facebook and Twitter every 4 or x number of hours, and use a scheduling tool for this purpose.

5. Submit your content on social bookmarking sites such as StumbleUpon or Digg. Even though their effectiveness has waded in recent years, these are still great mediums to promote your content, get valuable exposure and drive traffic to your blog.

6. Post comments on other relevant blogs. Just about every blog out there allows people to post comments, and this can be leveraged in order to get some valuable backlinks to your blog. Almost all blogs allow commenters to post a link to their blog (in a field called website/URL/etc.), and this link – or one of the recent posts from your blog, if a comment plugin such as CommentLuv is being used on the blog – will then be shown along with your blog. Some blogs will even give you a do-follow backlink to your blog. However there’s much more to posting comments than it simply being another link-building method: comments encourage interaction, allow you to build and develop relationships with other authority bloggers and like-minded people, and (if you do it consistently) build your authority.

7. Look at some of the popular trends on Twitter, for instance. If your blog post is relevant to any one of them, send out a tweet about it and make sure you use the relevant hashtag with your update. People from all over the world or anyone following that hashtag will then be able to see your tweet and of course, your link.

8. Send out an update to your email list. You probably spent months, if not years, collecting email IDs of visitors on your blog (if you haven’t done this, I suggest you get on it!). Essentially, what this list represents is a group of people that will be very eager and interested in hearing about what you have to say or buy what you’re selling (which is why they voluntarily gave you their email IDs, right?), and this in turn means highly targeted traffic for you.

9. Ask for endorsements and mentions from other bloggers. In blogging, it is essential to build relationships with other bloggers in your niche. You can do this through social media (engaging with them on Facebook or Twitter), or by linking to their content in your posts. You can then ask for a favor, and ask them to link to or blog about your post, do a review on their blog, etc. A single glowing endorsement or recommendation from an authority blogger could do wonders for you! 

What do you do after finishing up with writing a post? Do let me know in the comments!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Benefits of a Niche Blog and How to Start One

Choosing a niche for your blog is essential, and an important aspect to having a successful blog. There are quite a few reasons why niche blogging can be a much more beneficial practice than general blogs.

Benefits of (and Reasons to Start) a Niche Blog

1. Build Authority

Nice blogging lets you write about something you love – for instance something that you’re passionate about – and hence establish authority easily.

With a niche blog, you’re writing about a topic that you well and truly love, and are extremely passionate about. This means that you have, in all probability, ample amount of knowledge and know-how on that certain topic and that you’re probably already an expert on it.

It could be any niche that interests you, such as technology, sports, or photography, for instance. You may even choose a sub-niche, such as iPhone app reviews, the NFL, or reviewing camera lenses.

2. Better SERP Rankings

Niche blogging allows you to write about a specific thing, giving you a chance to rank better, if you do your optimization right. You will be able to focus on a few essential keywords, which will allow you to rank better for them.

This is not to say that general blogs don’t do well with Google. However focusing on a single topic will make it easier to rank well for any keywords related to that topic.

3. Better Content

If you write on something that you truly care about, and are interested in (such as a hobby), blogging on it will give you a chance to create excellent content for it.

Your interest, knowledge and the fact that you genuinely care about what you’re writing about will manifest itself in your posts.

You will be able to create quality posts effortlessly, and in a blogging world where ‘content is king’, your content will be able to connect with and engage a large number of people.

With the passage of time, you’ll be able to have a large loyal following, and give anyone who visits your blog a genuinely good reason to subscribe to you, or buy what you’re selling.

4. Easily Manageable

Niche blogs are much more easily manageable, because all your attention and your efforts are focused on a single topic.

For instance all your research and writing efforts are focused strictly on your niche, as are all your marketing efforts. With niche blogs, it is much more easier and manageable to target the right kind of audience, and bring targeted traffic on your blog.

With niche blogs, you’re catering to a very targeted group of people (e.g. NFL fans, photography enthusiasts or people into weight loss). Therefore you only need to meet the needs of this specific group of people, and create content/products/service for them.

5. Community Building

Niche blogs promote community building, and help build a community of like-minded people or people who share similar interests.

Niche blogs provide people (with the same interest) a single platform to where they can engage in discussions, get tips or advice, have their say, and share their own thoughts and opinions with the blogger (you), as well as other visitors and readers.

So in essence, with a niche blog, you’re essentially bringing people with similar interests together, thus helping build a community.

6. More Money

Niche blogs can help you earn a serious buck or two!

Since niche blogs focus on a single subject, topic or interest, and hence bring in extremely targeted readers, these readers are more likely to click on these ads since they will already be targeted (and hence relevant) to your readers.

This is precisely why niche blogs tend to do well when it comes to earning money. The CTRs on niche blogs are generally quite high, because ads are targeted to the demographic.

However in order to monetize traffic via ads, you need to bring targeted traffic into your blog, which is something niche blogs struggle to do (mostly because they have limited appeal, and only a small number of people might be interested in a specific topic).

7. Easy to Get Up and Running

Niche blogs are generally easier to start, set up, and get up and running.

All you need is a domain ($10/year), and a cheap hosting package (as low as $3/month). A free Wordpress installation, a free (or a premium theme) and a couple of widgets and plugins, and some tweaks later, you’ll have your very own niche website.

How to Set Up a Niche Blog the Right Way

1. Choose a niche: In order to begin on the right foot, it is necessary to start with choosing the right niche. This could be the difference between success and failure when it comes to your niche blog.

But what exactly is a ‘right’ niche? A good niche or a good area to focus and write on is one in which (a) you have an ample amount of interest or are passionate about, (b) a vast amount of knowledge, (c) the ability to write and produce a lot of quality content for, (d) can produce something unique for, offering your readers a unique proposition, (e) an area of focus for which you’ll be able to bring in  a reasonable amount of traffic, advertisement and interest, and (f) a niche which is not overly saturated already.

Refrain from choosing a niche based solely on profitablilty or potential revenue, but where you have little or no knowledge, expertise or interest.

2. Here Today, Gone Tomorrow: This is in a way related to the first point. Beware of trending niches that may have an appeal today, but might fade away and disappear at some point in the future.

This usually includes any events which might be extremely relevant today, and generate a lot of interest right now, but may quickly become irrelevant. For instance if you decide to blog on the 2012 US Presidential Campaign, you may get a lot of traffic right now, but after the campaign is over and a new president is elected, interest in the campaign will start to  wane off, ultimately coming to a point where your blog gets only a couple of visits.

3. Identity: At this stage, it is important to have an identity, and know who you will be on the internet. Whether you blog with your real name, or a pseudo-name, it’s your call. Both come with their own set of pros and cons so it is important to take everything into consideration before taking the plunge.

Most niche bloggers prefer to blog with their own name. If you intend on doing so, it is important to know what information to divulge and put on the internet. Secondly, if your blog is tied to your real name, you won’t be able to sell it.

4. Content: With niche blogs, you’re playing in a relatively small field, with only a small pool of potential visitors. In order to be able to appeal to those people, and keep them interested in what you’re offering, variety is essential.

Make sure that you use different types of media on your blog. Try to be unique and different by offering something that no one else offers, and something that gives you a competitive advantage.

Additional Read: Here’s a pretty comprehensive article about how this person was successfully able to build a niche blog and monetize it.