7 Must-Have WordPress Plugins For Newbies

7-must-have-wordpress-plugins-for-newbiesThe more time I spend with WordPress, the more tempted I become to ask it out for dinner because WordPress is sexy and I can’t keep my hands off it – but don’t tell Veronica 🙂 .  If you’ve used WordPress before then I’m sure you’ll understand what I’m talking about.  It is by far the most versatile blogging platform on the market today, and while some might argue, WordPress has proven time and time again that it’s a force to be reckon with.

If you’re ready to get moving in the blogging world, you will have to be ready to invest a small amount of money for a custom domain name and web hosting – I highly recommend Godaddy.com for your domains and Hostgator.com for your website and blog hosting.  If you Google “godaddy coupons” you will find tons of updated coupon sites that will get you domain names for dirt cheap like this one OYH3 for $3 off and .com or OYH1 for 10 % off anything.  Sweet! 🙂

Now assuming that some of you already have a WordPress blog set up, I’ve taken the time and compiled a list of the 7 Must-Have WordPress Plugins for 2008.  I find that if you do a search query on “best wordpress plugins” many of the results are outdated and not that great (shitty) so I figured I would revive all these garbage lists and condense them into 7 powerhouse WordPress plugins that will make it easy for beginners to improve your blogs performance, increase its search engine optimization, and start bringing in some traffic.

  1. Akismet – I have no idea how to properly pronounce this, but I do know that this plugin is an absolute spam destroyer.  Askimet was developed by Matt Mullenweg to perform one main objective – stop all crappy spam comments from hitting your blog, and make sure the good ones get in.  This blog has been up for a little over 2 weeks, and Akismet has already stopped 16 spam comments!  Pretty scary shit.  Click here for some more info.
  2. All In One SEO Pack – Michael Torbet developed this plugin to act like your own little SEO personal assistant.  When you are writing a post, you can scroll down and access all the SEO features that search engines love – meta title, meta description, meta keywords… It’s awesome.  If any of you have ever used Build a Niche Store, or BANs, then you will be familiar with adding these elements to a web page or post.  Having the ability to input your own meta information will improve your blogs rankings for keywords, as well as give you the control over what people see when your site pops up in Google.  Click here for some more info.
  3. SEO Friendly Images – I love this plugin because it’s a huge corner-cutter and saves a butt load of time.  Vladimir Prelovac designed this app to automatically add the alt text and title attributes to any image files that you upload or post, and if you remember from my 5 Traffic Techniques For New Bloggers post, naming your image files correctly could be the difference between no traffic and a traffic grande with a side of curly fries!  Personally, I still name all my titles and alt attributes manually – due to the fact that I’m a Virgo and like to have control 🙂 .  Click here for more info on this super easy plugin.
  4. Google XML Sitemaps – Think of a sitemap as an index, and your blog as a book.  Every book needs an index to help its reader determine the content before buying it.  Comparatively, every blog and website should have a sitemap to assist the search engines and readers in determining the content.  Arne Brachhold developed this plugin to automatically create a sitemaps.org compatible sitemap of your blog which is supported by all the major search engines i.e. Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc… and search engines love blogs with sitemaps!  Click here for more info.
  5. Feedburner Feedsmith – By default, WordPress automatically creates feeds for your blogs.  The Feedburner Feedsmith plugin detects every way to access your blog’s feed and redirects them to your Feedburner account – enabling you to track and manage every subscriber!  If you want to be a pro-blogger you need to have your Feedburner widget in the top corner, right?  Not necessarily, but Steve Smith has made our lives much easier with this plugin.  This is a definite must-have if you are looking to build a subscriber base and utilize the power of Feedburner.  Click here for more info.
  6. Robots Meta – I’m sure most of you who have dabbled in web development or blogging have stumbled across the term robots.txt.  In laymen terms, every site should have some sort of permissions protocol which communicates to the search engine spiders what to crawl, and more importantly, what NOT to crawl 🙂 .  Developed by Joost de Valk, the Robots Meta plugin allows you to add all the necessary robots meta tags to your feeds, pages, posts and comments as well as mediating the nofollow aspect of your links – preserving your link juice and page rank.  Click here for more info.
  7. WordPress Automatic Upgrade – Pretty self explanatory.  Rather than manually downloading each wonderful update provided by our friends at WordPress, Keith Dsouza developed this plugin to provide us with an automatic, 5-step process to upgrading our WordPress software.  It comes with ample instructions and a simple point and click interface which saves tons of time.  Click here for more info.

Truthfully I do have more than 7 WordPress plugins active behind TheAtHomeCouple.com but I really wanted to avoid the “Top 78 WordPress Plugins” type of post because that equals information overload for you guys, and that wouldn’t be too friendly.  If you are thinking of setting up a new WordPress blog, or currently have a blog and would like some more functionality, security, and optimization – then my 7 Must-Have WordPress Plugins For Newbies will transform your blog from effin’ ordinary to an effin’ rock star!

If you guys have any plugins that are a must-have in your opinion, let me know!



5 Traffic Techniques For New Bloggers

5 Traffic Techniques For New BloggersI’m not yet an Internet marketing guru, and have no desire to be one, but I do have experience generating traffic to websites and blogs.  Just to give you a little taste, my very first niche affiliate site INeedVinyl.com became live in March 2008 and ended the month with 60+ unique visitors.  By the end of May I had generated over 1000 unique visitors using free, organic traffic building techniques and the count continues to rise.  I’m not the type to position myself as Mr. How-To, but I’ve recently met a pretty cool dude by the name of T over at Poverty101.net and he’s just getting started in the blogging world – so I figure I would lend what little hand I have and share some traffic tips that he can use for his super-awesome blog! 🙂  I know you guys are probably sick and tired of outdated, half-ass traffic techniques but I can assure you every technique I list is proven to work, and you will find a lot of these in the top selling “make money online” eBooks.  How do I know?  Because I’ve read them all – so lets shut up and get to work…

  1. Commenting on Related Blogs – I can’t stress the importance of this method.  Will being active in the blogging community bring you hoards of traffic and make you a ton of money by itself?  Not unless you spend 16 hours a day doing so.  Listen, when I say commenting I don’t mean “hey great post, have a nice weekend” or “that chick with the three thumbs is hot” but unique, quirky and resourceful comments which clearly state your thoughts and display your involvement.  This method is the fastest and easiest way to get traffic to a new blog – just stick within your niche, and be consistent.  Not sure where to start?  Visit Google and type in “Your Keyword+Blog” for example “Vinyl Records+Blog”.  Pick 3-5 niche related blogs, visit them daily, become known in the community and make connections.  Strive to be a top commentator!
  2. Article Marketing – This can be the most tedious method of generating traffic, especially if you’re lazy, but let me tell you something – it works! The trick with article marketing is you want to keep away from submitting your blog posts as articles because Google no-likey and will slap your ass for duplicate content.  What I usually do is take 1 out of every 5 posts and instead of posting it to my blog I will rewrite it 2 or 3 times and submit it to the major article directories.  Start with these to get the ball rolling EzineArticles.com, GoArticles.com, IdeaMarketers.com, ArticleDashboard.com and ArticleCity.com.  There are also sites like AssociatedContent.com who will pay you for the traffic your article receives.  Remember, BE RESOURCEFUL! No garbage content.  If you can find 150 articles on the same topic, then put a spin on it or write about something different in your niche.
  3. Keyword Research – This should have been first in my opinion, but I am not listing these techniques based on importance.  When it comes to organic traffic – meaning the natural traffic sent to your blog from search engines – it all boils down to keywords, your competition and knowing what people are searching for.  Here’s an example: I have a blog in the organic gardening niche and after doing some basic keyword research I’ve found that the keyphrase “Indoor Organic Tomatoes” has high demand with little competition (which is what we’re looking for).  What I would then do is write a 3 part series on my blog spread over a week with the keyphrase being used in the title and throughout the posts.  I’ll use the keyphrase in my tags, meta description, and create a new category or sub if one doesn’t exist titled “Indoor Organic Tomatoes”.  See where I’m going with this? I could also write 2 to 3 articles using my keyphrase like “How To Grow Indoor Organic Tomatoes” or “Top 5 Reasons To Grow Indoor Organic Tomatoes” and submit them to the article directories I listed above with my blog address in the author/resource box.  Piece of cake!
  4. Naming Your Image Files Correctly – This is becoming more and more important with the likes of the Google Images directory.  If you use pictures and images in your blog posts you want to make sure they are named appropriately using relevant keywords and phrases.  Within WordPress there are ready-made plugins that will make this process a breeze – I recommend using SEO Friendly Images by Vladimir Prelovac.  This plugin will give you the power to control every aspect of your pictures and images with respects to search engine optimization and how the images on your blog are indexed.  Using the organic tomatoes example, I would save the image as indoor-organic-tomatoes.jpg, and within the alt text section of the plugin put the post title.  Naming your images accordingly will ensure that they are indexed by all the major search engines, and when someone is looking for an image, your blog will pop up on the search results.
  5. Social Bookmarking and Social Networking Sites – I’ve already began posting about the importance, and possible challenges with relation to social networking sites like Twitter, Digg, Myspace etc… But truth be told, these services can provide serious amounts of traffic very quickly if utilized correctly.  I think it’s safe to assume that most people reading this post have either a Facebook or Myspace account currently active, or both, in any case take some time and set up accounts for your blog.  Add pictures of yourself, give a little introduction and immediately start to add friends who have similar interest by using the search functions within the sites.  Another secret way to find your niche markets within these sites is to search within the groups – Myspace in particular has over 65,000 groups already niched out and ready for your love.  Scope out these groups and start adding people to your profile, leave comments, post threads and have your blog address in your signatures and all over your profile pages.  It’s ridiculous how fast you can get traffic to a site using services like this.  If you’re not too familiar with using the power of Myspace and social networking sites to generate traffic I highly recommend picking up a copy of Ryan Moran’s SpaceBankers program.

More traffic techniques to come!  The original title to this post was 17 Traffic Techniques For New Bloggers but I had to cut it short as it’s 2:15 a.m. and my eyes are slowly shutting.  I promise I will be getting into more detail with regards to building traffic, keyword research and overall techniques to get your blog or website off the ground and running.



Who Wouldn’t Want To See The World?

Who Wouldn't Want To See The World?Elijah’s goals are pretty formal and technical.  He’s my very own techno-dork.  🙂

My goals are probably more long term than his, mainly because he’s been learning and researching all this web marketing information since January and now I’ve got to play catch-up.

My main goal is to post a blog on a weekly basis.  This has been quite the challenge as of late with family barbecues, activities with friends  and trying to take advantage of the summer – but I am vowing to be better at it.

It’s my one long term goal that keeps me going everyday.  The one thing that gets me out of bed at 6 am and motivates me to keep giving in to the grind.  I want to travel.  I want the freedom to see the world and experience all the places and people I read about and see in magazines and on tv.

My best friend just moved to Vancouver.  On Saturday she and her boyfriend set out to drive across the county, camping along the way.  The past couple weeks I’ve spent helping her get organized and talking her down from her freak-outs.  The whole time, both of us forgetting that she was going to stay.  It felt like she was going on a trip across the country and that she would be back – a vacation.  (It’s really hard being left behind.  When I think about it I get really jealous because I want to be the one traveling and experiencing the country I’ve called home my whole life)  The stress comes because neither of them have jobs when they get there.  Of course there are prospects and they have a game plan but there is nothing set in stone.   If the money runs out, they’re screwed and will have to take whatever job they can get.  Which really frustrates me because they are extremely intelligent and educated people, but in order to live their dream they will have to give into the man to pay the rent.

Now imagine, if you will, being able to make that trip or move, and all you needed is your laptop.  Not having to worry about who is signing your next pay check because it’s you.  You would be able to veer off course because it doesn’t really matter when you show up at your destination.  Or why show up at all! If you were to buy a Winnebago you could just travel everywhere , and live in your car . . . I think I’m getting a little ahead of myself so lets look at a another, more realistic, scenario.

In his book, The Four Hour Work Week, Timothy Ferriss talks a lot about mini-retirements.  This is the alternative to a conventional retirement at the end of one’s career, and you take longer vacations throughout – six months here, three months elsewhere.  All you need is your laptop, and even then, if it’s possible to automate your online business,  you don’t even need that.  The world becomes your proverbial oyster.  Spending time at home with your family and then hitting the road, seas or skies to your next destination.  Why not try to enjoy life now while we can, while we have the energy and drive to do it.  Speaking personally, I don’t have any children, Elijah and I don’t have anything tying us down so why not pick up and go?  This is the prospect that excites me and gets me going.  I spent an entire day last weekend researching villas in Thailand and Bali which was inspired by a really great book called 1000 Places To See Before You Die.   Not only can you read about all the most amazing places in the world, but it makes for a great checklist.  Could you imagine having the job to write this book?

The funny thing is that whenever I tell people my dreams they look at me like I’m six years old and just told them that I want to be an astronaut.  This concept about mini-retirements is so taboo that I almost don’t say anything for fear of having to explain myself.  We as a society are so programmed that there is only one way to live life that we forget about all of the other things out there that are available to us.  Growing up in my house, I was taught that I had to go to college (taking something practical of course) get a good paying, permanant job (with health benefits) buy a house (with a mortgage) get married and have babies.  This is all well and good, and realistic but I’ve never been one to do what I’m told.  My parents were smart and boring.  They both worked for the government for 35 years and now have very little to show for it.  Especially my dad, who passed away shortly after his retirement and never got to fulfill the dreams he was putting off.  He was a talented musician and one of the smartest people I’ve ever met and he sacrificed it all for the 9-5.  My parents are my influences, they taught me how to be smart, and responsible and proactive.  Indirectly, through his premature death, my dad taught me that life is too short.  I don’t intend on wasting anymore time.  I’d like to know what you guys and gals think about the concept of mini-retirements – it’s not as impossible as you may think!


Monthly Goals For August 2008

Monthly Goals for August 2008When we started this blog in mid July we knew it wouldn’t be easy. There are so many people out there selling products and systems that will teach you how to make money blogging – and all you have to do is press a magic button and watch the cash pour in while you sleep! It couldn’t be farther from the truth.  It has never been easier to make money from home whether it’s via affiliate marketing, consulting, or creating and selling websites due to the current state of technology – combined with persistence, the ability to adapt, and HARD WORK – not because of some secret system.  Without goals to strive towards you can say goodbye to your dreams of working while sipping espresso at a cafe in Italy, or checking your email from a Mayan jungle resort.  As young adults, or adults in general, it’s crucial that we have ambition and a constant motion forward to promote personal growth and accomplishment.  Having both long and short term goals will increase your odds of staying on course, which in turn will maximize your success rate and enable you to fulfill your dreams.

Here are my monthly goals for August 2008:

  1. 1-3 Posts per day Monday through Friday – The more frequent a new site is updated with fresh content, the more often Google and the rest of the search engines will stop by and visit us which will lead to an increase in organic search engine traffic and indexing.
  2. Begin to increase online presence via social networking and social bookmarking sites.  Social networking can bring loads of targeted traffic to a blog and increase the participaction and subscribers.  I will be focusing on 6 main sites: StumbleUpon, Digg, Myspace, YouTube, Friend Feed, and Twitter.
  3. Commenting on niche related blogs is also a great way to increase your online presence and establish yourself as a trustworthy resource.  I am currently a top commentator on 3 high traffic blogs and would like to increase the number of blogs I frequent to 10.  If I can write solid, helpful comments on 10 blogs per day for the next 30 days I will definitely start to see more activity here in a very short amount of time.  I loves me some free traffic!
  4. Write at least 3-5 keyword rich articles and submit them to all the major high traffic article directories like ezinearticles.com and goarticles.com.  By using Wordtracker to conduct my keyword research and putting those low competition, high search volume key phrases in the article headings I will not only get indexed into the search engines, but I will also have an external guage on what topics are hot based on the performance of each article.  Tip: high traffic article directories usually rank very high in the search engines, so writing some good articles could get you top spot for niche related keywords and phrases.
  5. Continue to expand and diversify my WordPress skills.  This is my first self-hosted blog using WordPress through my Hostgator hosting account.  I currently run between 10-15 sites – some of them only partially optimized for the occasional affiliate sale or adsense click – the others are just sitting on a domain waiting for some TLC from myself or Veronica.  I have found WordPress to be the ultimate management system for setting up, optimizing, and maintaining a blog or niche website.  The amount of power behind it is incomparable and having the ease of 1 click set up through Fantastico on my Hostgator account makes it that much more efficient.  I will be spending a significant amount of time brushing up on HTML, CSS, and hopefully getting a custom header done.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that my goals for August are strongly focused on building content, and generating traffic. When I first started getting into SEO and keyword research I got so excited that I started building blogs, putting up 5-10 posts, and then promoting the hell out of them.  The problem with this mindset is if you only have 10 posts on your blog your traffic will come, browse, and move on.  If you’re just getting into blogging like my friend T. Edwards over at Poverty101.net make sure you have a minimum 20-30 posts before you start to heavily promote and get backlinks – because if you so happen to make the front page of StumbleUpon you better have some content to keep your visitors interested!  Nobody wants to stop by a blog with 1 good article and 5 pieces of crap.

Maybe Veronica will read this and compile a list of goals of her own, we’ll just have to wait and see.  What are some goals you guys have for this month?



To Digg, Or Not To Digg

To Digg Or Not To DiggIf you remember in my last post, I’m in the process of setting up accounts with all the major social networking and social bookmarking sites in order to become familiar (which shouldn’t take long) with the functionality, and more importantly how each service differs from the next. Are we all familiar with the name Yaro Starak… Yes?  No?  Anyways, I’ve known of Yaro and his huge nest of hair for a while, and I recently finished reading, watching, and mildly studying his Blog Profits Blueprint program – which is free – an absolute must for anyone even considering making money online.

One thing Yaro stresses through his content is the importance of social networking and multimedia as primary mediums for marketing and promoting a blog.  This is where sites like YouTube, Facebook, Myspace, Digg, StumbleUpon, or the virtual crackpot Twitter come in to play.

How you ask?  Here’s how it goes:

  • You sign up for accounts with 3-5 popular social networking and social bookmarking sites
  • You slowly build a network of peers, mentors and enemies by visiting other blogs and leaving comments, adding friends with similar interests, digging, tweeting, stumbling, whatever…
  • The more active you are on social networks, the more attention is put towards you.
  • Funnel that traffic to a content rich, fully monetized, well designed blog and you have yourself a winner.

Here’s another doozy for ya – what do you do with that traffic when it hits you?

Unfortunately that part is not as simple.  If you’re running a blog rather than a static website, the two factors you want from your traffic is participation and action, or…


It’s great I know. 🙂

It’s a proven fact that social networking can bring hoards of potential people to a blog, and though it seems challenging to maintain multiple accounts with consistent activity, I feel the biggest challenge will be converting that traffic into long term subscribers and top commentators.  I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve clicked through a link to a blog and landed on a poorly designed, ad-filled site with garbage content.  Would any of us consider bookmarking a crappy blog with nothing resourceful?  Heck no.

Before I go, If any of you haven’t read Yaro Starak’s Blog Profits Blueprint just click here and fill in your first name and email address.  You will get an email with a link to the video, audio, and PDF version.  I suggest reading the ebook one time through, then maybe moving on to the condensed video or audio version.  You have nothing to lose, and PLENTY to gain.  Thank me later.

I will be keeping our site updated as I go through my experimental stages with social networking and social bookmarking.  I look forward to your feedback and experiences.



7 Must-Have WordPress Plugins For Newbies

Addiction To Social Networking SitesWhat is social networking? This term could be broken down into many concepts. When I initially hear the term social networking, the last thing that comes to mind is the Internet. If I had no idea what the hell Digg or StumbleUpon was, I would assume social networking was some sort of event where people meet other people and try to find similar interests. I also associate the word social with being in a group of people participating in some sort of discussion, activity, or drinking game.

What I’ve noticed though is that most social networking and social bookmarking sites aren’t really used to “network” at all – at least by a majority of it’s users. I’m not by any means implying that sites like Digg, Twitter and StumbleUpon aren’t great networking tools – they are in fact brilliant mediums for building contacts and traffic to any website or blog. But it seems to a giant majority of the Internet population social networking sites are yet another form of addiction. These sites can easily suck up 2-3 hours of time that would have been better spent doing something else, and as I am setting up accounts on all the major social networking platforms I’m beginning to notice this more and more. I just spent an hour and a half stumbling through random WordPress blogs giving thumbs up, or thumbs down before I recognized what time it was – and that I had a blog post to write.

Here is what our good ol’ friends at Wikipedia have to say about Social Networking:

A social network service focuses on building online communities of people who share interests and activities, or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others. Most social network services are web based and provide a variety of ways for users to interact, such as e-mail and instant messaging services.

Social networking has created powerful new ways to communicate and share information. Social networking websites are being used regularly by millions of people, and it now seems that social networking will be an enduring part of everyday life. The main types of social networking services are those which contain directories of some categories (such as former classmates), means to connect with friends (usually with self-description pages), and recommender systems linked to trust.

Personally, I have never had the time or patience to be sitting on the Internet trying to find my old crush from high-school or the bully that used to throw rocks at me during recess (you’d better run if I ever see you again). When sites like Facebook and Myspace surfaced I immediately set up profiles and began experimenting with the functionality – but my intentions were always results oriented, especially when it came to Myspace. Myspace has been a great marketing tool for me to promote my music, and collaborate with other musicians and artists around the globe, yet I still suffered from a slight addiction at one point in time – becoming obsessed with adding friends, increasing my plays, and commenting instead of strategically marketing and promoting.

I strongly believe that an addiction to social networking sites can become a serious problem. We struggle enough trying to filter out the copious amounts of information fed into our brains on a daily basis – and the last thing we need is a society of unfocused, twitter-fied zombies. There is more to life than the little graphic on your blog or web page which spits out how many “votes” you have, and I give warning to anybody intrigued or interested in discovering the value of Internet social networking sites – if you don’t have a reason to be using them, DON’T! Unless you have no job, live at home and don’t pay rent. Make a list of how you could benefit from social networking services and determine the value of using this medium to increase the presence and web-awareness of your company, brand, or blog. Having a list of benefits should at least help you keep focused and utilize these tools to generate traffic and awareness to your selected source destination.

I’d love to hear what you guys think about the value of social networking sites, and the possible addiction associated with these types of services.