How To Start Blogging – The Simple Step-by-step Guide

By Bloomberry

Some readers have asked for a guide on how to start a blog without having knowledge of codes. So do you really want to start blogging? That’s commendable!

But…how the heck do you get started? There’s so much info out there on the internet, and everyone’s telling you to do different things. So Where’s the starting point?

Gush! You sigh. But should you give up? Well, that would be yet another dream cast into the waste bin.

Not to worry, your dream is just about coming alive! I promise to keep it simple, relatively easy, and definitely easy to understand (no stupid grammar and jargon). Sound good? Let’s move on.

Why Join The Blogging World?

Below, I’m going to outline exactly what you need to do to get started and set up your own personal blog. Before getting there though, I really want to talk about WHY you should build a blog.

Note: If you already have a solid idea of the whys, then skip this and go right ahead with the guide.

Here are some reasons:

Blogging has quickly become one of the most popular ways of communicating and spreading information and news. There are literally millions of blogs online (don’t worry, you can make yours stand out and get noticed!).
It’s a great way to express yourself and also a fantastic way to share information with others.
You use your time in helping other knowledge seekers especially if you’ve got worthy content.
You become a better person and a better writer.
The best reason? You can make money blogging.

Did you know all of that? Well, nice to be reminded.

Note please that before ever you start creating a blog, you need to have an idea of what your blog will be about. Will it be news, entertainment, politics, a combination of various niche? Well, that’s the most important decision to make so you don’t get lost in the crowd. Giving it something new or improving on what have been there is usually the best. Don’t you think?

One very last thing before we get started:

Creating your own blog can take probably up to 30 minutes. So grab yourself a coffee or juice (whatever you fancy) and let’s get stuck in.

The Steps Covered In This Blogging Guide

There’s five basic steps you need to go through in order to set up a blog. If you follow this five step and the entire guide, you’ll have your own blog set up in 30 minutes or less. You are not about to set up a website from scratch, hence very little technical ability needed here. In fact, there’s no coding required by you. Happy, huh?

The 5 Easy Steps to Starting a Blog:

Choose your preferred blogging platform
Setting up a blog on your own domain
Choose a web hosting service for your blog
Designing your blog (sure fun!)
Making your blog a success

Are your still reading? You’ve made it this far! Let’s jump into step 1.

1. Getting Started – Choose your Blogging Platform (WordPress)

Before you can even start worrying about how your blog will look like, you’ll need to choose your blogging platform.

There’s a lot to choose from. You are able to create a blog with many different blogging platforms, such as WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger and more.

However, given that there are over 87 million active users using WordPress today, it’s clear which platform is the boss.pie-chart-blogging-platforms

Here’s why:
It’s FREE for everyone to use (including themes, layouts and add-ons that many other blogging platforms don’t provide).

It’s super easy to set up. Even many unlearned fellows are able to do it.

It’s secure; WordPress are always updating their software and keeping everything sound and secure, so there’s rarely a worry of having your blog come under hacking attacks. No wonder organizations like Sony, NASA and even university blogs are using WordPress.

Can be very much customized. There are hundreds of free themes and plugins that add more functionality to your blog, from contact and subscribe boxes to plugins that improve blog performance and more.

While the other blogging platforms are generally all pretty OK, nothing in my opinion has ever come close to matching the freedom and customization options that WordPress offers. So without a doubt, go with WordPress. Especially when you are just starting out.

Wait! At this point, you don’t need to install or download anything. We will, but first…
Let’s move to step 2.

2. Setting up a blog on your own domain (self-hosted WordPress)

Why you shouldn’t create a blog on a free blogging platform

Without a doubt, you need to self-host your WordPress blog.

Think about it – what famous, successful blogger you know is using a free blogging website like “startbloggingonline.wordpress.com” instead of their own domain name like “StartBloggingOnline.com”, for example?

It’s not just that – free blogging platforms have other problems too – including…

You don’t control your content – the blogging platform does. They could shut you down any time, and for any reason. Do you want that?
Read this.
The web address of your blog will be long and hard to remember (like yourfreeblog.blogspot.com) instead of a catchy, branded address you choose.
You’re not allowed to advertise on most free blogging platforms, making it much harder to ever make money from blogging.

Don’t get me wrong: If you really don’t care whether or not your blog will be successful, go with free blogging platforms. They’re an okay way to try out blogging for a little bit.

But if you ever want to look credible, build an audience and make money blogging, then you need your own blog, on your own domain name, with your own hosting. That way, you make the rules and control your content.

If I were you (and I can’t be you – winking), I’d start with a self-hosted blog on my own domain from day one. Setting up a blog like this is WAY easier and less expensive than you think.

Finding a domain name and web hosting provider.

You will discover that step 2 and 3 are almost muddled together. This way you will achieve your goal of building an active blog through this quick guide.

Now to the exciting part! To set up a self-hosted blog on your own domain name, you’ll need two things:

Domain name – This will be your personal blog address where people find you over and over again. For example Google’s Domain is www.Google.com. Your new blog domain name will be www.YourBlogName.com, or “.net, .org, .biz”, etc. Note that “.com” is pretty popular and easy to remember plus other advantages. The cost of a domain name is usually $10/year, but you could get one for much cheaper.

Web hosting – This will be the home of your blog address and content that’s on the blog. Without web hosting, you’ll be unable to use your domain. Think of it as a computer hard drive that stores all your content on your blog (images, blog posts and so on). The cost of web hosting is usually somewhere between $2-5 per month depending on the hosting company you use.

This cost is less than what you spend on lunch, so it won’t break your bank. But it’s an important investment to your blog success.

Where should I get my domain name and hosting?

When it comes to hosting, there are only two things that matter.

Page load speed – The average amount of time (in seconds) it takes your blog to load.
Up-time – 99.9% isn’t enough (it’s 42 minutes of downtime per month). You should be aiming for 100%.

There are hundreds of different web hosting providers. They all offer you a similar service (domain + hosting). Some highly recommended web hosting companies are Bluehost, iPage, Godaddy. HostGator, etc…

Why not let’s base our learning on HostGator? They (www.HostGator.com) are among the best for domain names and web hosting. In terms of blog load speed and uptime, they are excellent!

However, you can always go with another web hosting service as long as it’s fast, reliable and offers unlimited storage and bandwidth. This helps you to avoid problems later on.

Good decision! What do you think?

Slow down there! Getting a self-hosted domain name is one big decision you’ll have to make before you proceed. Follow the advice…don’t let ‘free’ becloud your judgement. Don’t go for a free domain name if you want to make something really good out of your blog as stated above.

If you don’t have a hosting or a domain name yet – don’t worry. I’ll be showing this in a minute.

At the end of this step (3), you will have a fully working self-hosted WordPress blog on your own domain name! Sounds promising, innit? Sip your juice! We’ll make it!

P.S. If you don’t want to use HostGator, you can always choose another hosting provider, the registration and the set up process should be some what similar. Some hosting companies do not have one click install for WordPress (not good for beginners).

Let’s proceed dear reader to step 3.

3. Choose a web hosting service for your blog

3.1. Go to www.HostGator.com and then click “Start Your WordPress Blog”.

3.2 Pick a Domain name for your blog (i.e what you would like your domain to be called. Example: butterflylife.com)

Already have a domain name?
Just write it in the right box on the Homepage of HostGator and keep moving to the next step by scrolling down a bit.

How do I choose a good domain name?

Choosing a bad domain name is one of the most common mistakes bloggers make. Be sure you choose a domain name that is…

3.2.1. Easy to Remember – Don’t choose a nonsense name, something tough to spell, or a long name full of dashes. “www.best-fashion-and-entertainment-world.com” won’t ever stick in someone’s head, but something like “www.fashionstar.com” rolls off the tongue.

3.2.2. Unique and Descriptive – You want a name that reflects who you are and what you care about. Be creative and build an identity you’re excited about!

3.2.3. Trustworthy – Domain extensions like “.com”, “.org” or “.net” are the most popular, with “.com” being the one most people think of first. Try to avoid crazy extensions like “.rocks” or “.biz”, as these are less commonly used, tougher to remember and not as trusted.

Type the domain name you want to use in the box, then click “next”. If the name is available, you’ll be able to claim it. If it’s not available, choose another one.

Your_Blog_Domain

If the name you want isn’t available, HostGator will show you some alternatives that are similar – or you can punch in a new name and try again. I’d suggest you to use something that ends with .com, .net or .org

3.3. Choose your blog hosting plan

I recommend the “Hatchling” plan for now – you can always upgrade later if you decide you want more advanced features, but you get more than enough with the Hatchling.

choose_blog_hosting_plan

3.4. Complete your registration

Once you’ve chosen Hatchling plan and found a name you like that’s available, you’ll need to register it by putting in your contact and billing information.

You’ll also have a chance to customize your package a bit. This is a chance to save some more money, so don’t skip it!

additional_blog_services

Few suggestions:

a) Domain Privacy Protection (DPP) hides your registration information in the “whois database”, a worldwide database everyone has access to. I recommend it if you want to keep yourself anonymous, but uncheck the box if you want to save as much as possible.

b) I’d uncheck all the other boxes (Site Backup, Constant Contact, SiteLock Security) as these aren’t really worth your money. You can always add them later.

3.5. Log in to your new account and install WordPress blog

It may take a few minutes for HostGator to register your account, so be patient. You should get a confirmation email when your account is ready.

Once you’ve logged in to your control panel (all the information you need for that should be in your inbox) , it’s time to install WordPress. Thankfully, this takes just one click!

Log-in to your Hostgator control panel
Look about halfway down the page for the left sidebar section
Click “Install WordPress.”

Once clicked, you’ll be automatically transferred to Mojomarketplace.com – shhh, don’t panic! this is just a site that helps HostGator install platforms (like WordPress).

You should immediately see a screen where you’re offered to “Install” or “Import” WordPress.
Click “Install” to get to the next step.

When you’re finished, “Install WordPress”, you’ll see a loading bar at the top of your page that will eventually tell you that your WordPress blog has been installed and you’ll see your log-in credentials.

3.6. Log in and check out your new blog

Once the installation completes, you’ll get an email that shares your login information, including an “Admin URL”. (In case you missed that notification bar)

To log in to your blog, click the admin URL. If you forget this URL, it’s simply www.yourblog.com/wp-admin (where “yourblog” is your domain name).

You’ve just logged into your blog?

start_new_blog_homepage

Wow! Congratulations! – you now know how to make a blog using WordPress. You’ve installed WordPress and set up your blog, all on your own! You can rise up and punch the air with excitement! As you can see, it was really easy and straightforward. Sip your coffee now.

Now let’s get to step 4. Keep following this guide and you will find designing a blog more interesting than you thought. The real fun part begins!

4. Designing your blog

Configure, Design and Tweak your blog

In this section, you will learn some WordPress blog basics, including:

Getting familiar with WordPress dashboard
Changing your blog’s design
Installing new plugins/features
Making your blog search engine friendly

If you’ve set up your blog, you’re now ready to start using WordPress and customizing your blog. It’s a promise – it’ll be pretty easy and fun at the same time.

Remember: You can log in to your blog by going to www.yourblog.com/wp-admin/ and using the credentials you set up with HostGator or any other hosting company you used.

4.1. Understanding the WordPress Dashboard

When you log in for the first time, you’ll see a dashboard or admin panel to the left that looks something like this:

Your_WordPress_dashboard

Let’s break down some of the most important ones for new bloggers to know:

Dashboard” gives you an ‘at-a-glance look’ at your recent activity, including how many posts, comments and pages you have. You can also write up a quick draft blog post here – but don’t – you will see a better way a little later in the guide.

Posts” is where you’ll click if you want to add a new blog post or edit an existing one.

Media” is the library of all the pictures, videos, and audio files you’ve uploaded to the site. You can manage all of those items here.

Pages” is where you can add a new permanent page – like a services or contact me page (not a blog post!) and manage the pages you’ve already created.

Comments” is the place you’ll want to go to manage your site visitors comments. You can see which comments are waiting for your approval, review comments you’ve approved, see which comments WordPress has labelled as spam and delete comments you don’t want.

Appearance” – this is where you can edit your blog’s design and install new themes and layouts. You will see exactly how to do this a little later in the page.

Plugins” is where you’d click if you wanted to install a new plugin, like a photo gallery or SEO tool. Keep your fingers scrolling, you will learn how to do this in a moment.

Settings” is the last section you need to know about. Here, you can change your site’s title and tagline, edit your email address and manage all of your site’s important settings.

4.2. Changing Your Blog’s Design (Themes & Layouts)

WordPress blogging platform uses design templates called “Themes” to figure out how your site should look. Changing your blog’s layout and design is as simple as installing a new theme.

There are over 2,000 professionally designed, fully-customisable and free themes to choose from – so you’ve got a lot of options. If you want to see more premium type of templates and themes, head over to the site Themeforest.net.

Rosy Advert

Here’s how to find and install a theme you love:

Mouse-over the “Appearance” tab in the WordPress sidebar, then click on “Themes”.

find_a_perfect_theme

On the next screen, you’ll see several themes are already installed. If you don’t like those, click the “Add New” button at the top, or the great big “Add New” square to start searching for a theme.

add_new_theme

Now, you’ll see tabs where you’ll find featured, popular and brand new themes, as well as a “Feature Filter” and search bar. Hope you’re following?

featured_themes

“Feature Filter” option is really lovely, because you can choose themes in certain color schemes, select specific layouts and even choose themes with built-in advanced features.

Just choose the options you want, then click “Apply Filters” on the left hand side. If you’re finding this challenging, just search by keyword – there’s no wrong way!

apply_filters

When you’ve found a theme you like, click “Install”. You’re nearly done!

Once the theme has been installed, all that’s left to do is click “Activate” on the next screen:

activate_your_blog_theme

That wasn’t difficult. Was it? Guess there’s joy in you so far.

4.3. Installing a New Plugin (add some cool features to your blog)

“Plugins” are little software modules that you can install to add more functionalities, features and tools to your blog. They can do all sorts of things, like:

Adding contact forms
Reducing comment spam
Making your blog SEO-friendly
Creating newsletter sign-up forms
Adding photo galleries
Creating sliding images

And lots, LOTS more.

Installing them is really easy. First, Mouse-over “Plugins” in the sidebar, then click “Add New”.

add_new_blog_plugins

Now, you can search by keyword to find plugins for almost anything! Use the search plugin box.

When you find a plugin you like, just click “Install Now” and then “Activate Plugin” on the page that follows.

activate_plugins

BE CAREFUL: Before you install any plugin, it’s a wise idea to Google its name and read reviews. Some plugins can break your theme, cause problems with security, or just plain work poorly, so always get a second opinion first.

Also, make sure your plugins (and themes) are always up-to-date. Don’t worry though, WordPress usually lets you know when some of them are out of date.

4.4. Configuring your blog to become search engine friendly

There are some things you’d need to do to make your blog more search engine friendly. Search engines do not like two things:

Ugly and clumsy URL-s – http://yourblog.com/2012/04/topic-a/auhtor-Mike/how-to-start-a-blog. A much better way is to use: http://yourblog.com/start-a-blog

See the difference? One is filled with irrelevant information and the another one is short, clean and neat.

In order to change your links to be more cleaner, click on the “Settings” -> “Permalinks” and use the following settings:

permalinks1

4.5. Spam comments
Unfortunately, lots of people want to leave automate spam comments on your blog. They do that for couple of reasons – to get people from your blog to their blog and to advertise their services/products.

To avoid that, make sure you moderate your comments. Here’s how to do that: Go to “Settings” -> “Discussion” and tick those two options.

disable_comments1

How are you faring so far? Still excited?

4.6. Managing Your User Information

If you ever need to change your user details, password, or add another user so someone else can access your blog, it helps to know how to manage your user details.

To manage users, mouse-over the “Users” tan on the left-hand menu.

new_blog_users

Adding a New User

Click the “Add New” link in the users section of the left-hand menu, and you’ll be usehered into the page:

Fill in the details for the user you’d like to add – including a password you can remember to share with them. You can send it to them via email by clicking the radio box option – but that’s not always the most secure way to do things.

BE CAREFUL: The “Role” you choose from the drop-down menu will determine what your new user is able to do.

Subscribers” are only able to manage their own profiles – not update or change content.

Administrators” can access all the administration options – making any changes or adding new users.

Authors” can publish and manage their own posts, but nothing else.

Contributors” can write and manage their own posts, but cannot publish them.

Editors” can publish and manage posts – including the posts of other users.

Warning! Don’t give access to anyone who doesn’t need it! Else you may run into troubles with your blog.

4.7. Adding/Writing Blog Posts and Pages

By now you should have fully working WordPress blog on your own domain name. You should also have a custom blog theme that fits with your blog’s topic. Congratulations – you’ve done a LOT and I’m proud that you’ve managed to get so far.

In the LAST step, I’ll show you how to write your first blog post and share some tips for writing blog posts.

In this section, I’ll show you…

How to write a post inside WordPress
How to add images, links and format text
Some quick tips and tricks for writing great content

4.7.1. Adding a New Post

To add a new blog post, click the “Posts” section on the left hand side-menu, then click on “Add New”.

Adding_a_new_blog_post1

On the next screen, you’ll see something like this:

Writing_new_blog_post

You can add the title to your blog post in the top field, and your content goes in the big text box below the title.

You can save your draft or publish your content live by using the box menu on the far right of the page. You can even schedule the post to be published later – or make the post private so only friends can see it.

BlogPost_status_visibility

Once published, your new post can be found in the “All Posts” section of the “Posts” tab, so you can edit it any time.

Let’s take a quick look at some things you can do to make your post more elegant:

4.7.2. Adding Images

To add an image to your post, click the “Add Media” button right above the lower content field.

Tip: Before you click “Add Media”, be sure you’ve left your cursor inside of your blog post where you want the image to show up. Otherwise, you’ll have to move it later on.

Adding_media

Next, click the “Upload Files” tab on the screen that pops up, then click “Select Files”.

adding_images_blog_post

Once you’ve found the file, double click it and WordPress will upload it automatically.

When the upload is finished, make sure the image you want is selected, then click the “Insert into post” button to add the image to the post you’re writing.

insert_image_into_blogpost

4.7.3. Adding a Link

Linking out to other websites is a great way to build relationships and share interesting content.

To add a link, click on the icon in the toolbar that looks a bit like a chain link.

instert_a_blog_link

On the pop-up, you’ll need to enter a few important bits of information.

Adding_link2

URL is the web address of the link you want to share. Make sure you include “http://” before the “www.” address, or your link will be broken.

“Link Text” is the text you want people to click on to get to your link. It might be “Click here”, or anything you choose.

“Open link in a new window/tab” – it’s a smart idea to check this box. Otherwise, when someone clicks your link, they’ll leave your blog.

If you want to link to an existing page, you can use the “Search” section to find a post or page you’ve already created and click it to add a link.

Finally, click “Add Link”, and your link will be added where you left your cursor in the post you were writing.

4.7.4. Adding Headers & Editing Text

It’s a good idea to use headers and bolding to make your content easier to read and scan.
Adding Headings

To add a heading, click on the drop-down menu on the bottom left of the toolbar.

Blog_Post_Headings

Try to only use “Heading 1” once within your page (usually at the top), and use “Heading 2” or “Heading 3” for other sections in the copy, as this is better for search engines.

Tip: You can also highlight the text you want to change in your blog post, THEN click on the dropdown menu and select the format you want the text to be in.
Editing Fonts

You can also bold, italicize, underline and even change the colour of your text in a click or two.

change_font

“B” is for bolding
“I” is for italics
“U” is to underline your text
“A” will open a dropdown menu where you can select font color

As you can see, you do not need coding knowledge to achieve all of these. But it is all pretty simpler for someone who has worked with Microsoft Word.

5 MAKE YOUR BLOG SUCCESSFUL

Now that you have set up your blog and know the basics, it’s time to make your blog successful. Many beginners struggle at that point, thus I will put together a handful of guides to get you going easier in future. Meantime do read up sherlock holmes approach to building a popular blog.

Things to do after you’ve created your blog:

The first thing to do is create a proper About Me and Contact page.

Creating a perfect ‘about me page‘ describing who you are and your objective (This is usually the most visited page on your blog).
Adding a Contact Page/Form on your blog (So that your readers could contact you).

Done those two? Go and read those posts.

Ready to take your blog into next level?

Once you have some content on your blog it’s time to get some traffic and make it profitable.

Get your blog listed on Search Engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo)
Get more traffic to your blog (you will be learning this in subsequent post).
Learn how to monetize your blog (Affiliate marketing, selling advertising space, getting new clients, etc)
Add a subscription box (So you could email your blog visitors personally).
Set up Google Analytics (For tracking your blog visitors).

There is more, but you have started and can only get better as you keep trying out new things and reading to improve yourself. We will keep bringing you more solid tips. Read The 3 ingredients of the secret sauce of successful blogging

Bloggers come to blogging arena with varying degrees of online and social media experience, but we’ve all made more than a few newbie mistakes – there’s always room for more learning and improvement, whether you’re a beginner or you’ve been blogging for years.

And that’s it! I’m more than confident that your initial blog set up is now finished and ready to go, and all that should have been really damn easy (unlike my first time, lucky you!)

If by some unfortunate circumstance you get stuck or have any questions about how to create a blog, just leave a comment below. I’ll help you out with any problems as much as i can.

P.S. COMMENTS ARE HIGHLY MODERATED – No self-promotional comments that doesn’t add much value to the guide itself. Plus, readers don’t have to scroll a lot.

Go ahead and leave a comment if:

Your comment adds some value to the guide. Some suggestions or tips aren’t included here, or an appreciation.
I’ll do my best to approve your comment within 24 hours.

You can now go get yourself something solid to eat. Enough of the coffee and juice.

Enjoy your new blog!

Credit to: Mike Wallagher

The 3 Ingredients of The Secret Sauce of Successful Blogging

With millions of blog websites already in existence and many more sprouting daily, you might already be aware that there are a relatively small number of incredibly popular and successful blogs out there on virtually any topic you care to think of.

When you visit a number of these successful blogs you quickly see a common thread – there is a certain quality inherent in most of them and furthermore, they provide something useful or amusing for the people who follow or visit them.

Conversely you may have also come across a disproportionately larger number of not-so-good blogs that don’t seem to provide any usefulness or make any sense because they are so poorly put together or badly written or jammed with so many spammy advertisements that the first word that comes to mind when you see them, is “junk”.

So it might not surprise you to know that the number of poor quality blogs far outnumbers those that are even remotely useful or interesting. When I first came to this realization I was excited because this means that the opportunity for people like you and I to produce a blog which shines amongst the competition should be fairly achievable given that the majority of our competition is in the “junk” category. (I’m an incurable optimist! :))

Producing a good blog or website isn’t rocket science but it does involve some science. Just like cooking or chemistry there are certain ingredients that are critical to how the end product turns out. I’ve listed 3 of what I believe to be the most important ingredients to maximize your blogging success although I’m sure other people will have differing opinions which may all be just as valid.

Before I go on, I want to point out that “success” in terms of a blog can mean different things to different people, but ultimately the common ground of success in the blogosphere is usually the amount of people who actually visit your blog – ie, the amount of quality organic traffic. The more visitors you consistently get who actually spend some time on your blog, the more successful your blog is perceived to be. What you then choose to do with the traffic is up to you; you may try to monetize it or simply just enjoy providing your visitors with some good reading or advice etc.

So the 3 main ingredients of the secret sauce of successful blogging are as follows:

1. The Subject Matter or Niche of your blog

This ingredient determines what your blog is about or the purpose of your blog’s existence. When you create a blog you usually do it to showcase something to the world that you’re interested in or that you’ve created. In other words, your blog’s subject matter should be something that not only you’re interested in, but also other fellow web travelers may find useful or interesting too. This can range from writing about your daily experiences as a vet to writing reviews about products such as hi-fi systems or coffee machines.

Alternatively, if you’re providing a service or selling a product via your blog then the service or product you’re offering should be something that will provide value or be useful to other people to make it worthwhile doing. When creating a paid product or offering a service for money, there’s a basic rule of thumb which you should keep in mind: if it solves somebody’s problem OR makes their life or job easier OR helps them make money, then they will usually be happy to pay you for your service or product.

2. (Quality) Content

I know it’s probably beginning to sound like a cliché, but quality content is KING! Actually let me slightly rephrase this: Original, quality content is king.  A lot of people get frightened by the word “original” because they think they’re not smart enough to produce something new. But by “original” I simply mean that you’ve written something using your own words and perspectives and have NOT copied or plagiarized or badly recycled someone else’s work using some crappy spinner software.

It really isn’t that difficult to do. For example, maybe you might write about something you learned from a book or article you recently read, or a song which inspired you. Doing this will increase your chances of connecting with your readers because when you write the articles using your own words you are presenting a fresh perspective on what might be a not-so-fresh topic.
This will also have a beneficial effect on your search rankings over time because Google is continuously rewarding those websites that are producing original, relevant and quality content by ranking them higher in search results. As time goes on and you become more successful, you can of course always hire someone to write the original, quality content for you.

3. Time

This ingredient has two aspects to it. The first is that you will have to give some of your time and effort to build your blog up with the quality content discussed above. The amount of time required is really up to you but even half an hour a day spent writing an article or working on an e-book or other digital product over a period of months will significantly increase the chances of your blog’s success. Regular submissions of fresh content are an excellent way of getting the search engine crawlers to visit your site more regularly which will in turn speed up the time it takes to index any new pages or posts you create.

The second aspect of the time ingredient is related to your patience. Just like growing a vegetable patch, a good blog usually takes time to bear fruits. A rudimentary inspection of blog sites which rank in various top 100 lists for popularity and success will reveal something in common – ie, almost all of these blogs have been in existence for at least a couple of years and are aged nicely just like a good wine.

In other words the owners of these sites have nurtured and honed their blog over years with fresh, mostly useful information or products which always keeps people interested and coming back for more.
It is also believed that the age of a blog site is one of the factors which Google uses to determine the Google Page Rank (PR) of a site. Sites which are more than a year old and consistently drawing quality organic traffic and producing fresh relevant content, usually rise higher in the rankings over time.

Just like any cooking recipe, you can always add some extra ingredients or things you can do to spice up your blog, but invariably, the above 3 ingredients will usually determine your blog’s basic success.

Sherlock Holmes’ Approach To Building a Popular Blog

Blogging is not an exact science, but there’s some science to it, and thankfully these days it’s easy to track your growth and success.

If you start at the very beginning, then you can take a detective’s view right from the ground up. Before you even buy your domain name, it pays to do research and planning.

The fact is, blogs do fail. Your blog doesn’t have to be a failure, but you’ll need to keep some pragmatic things in mind. Blogs most often fail for the same reason that many retail businesses fail… someone says to themselves, “You know, I’ve always wanted to sell fairy hats,” and they go and open a store of fairy hats but the business flops because the owner didn’t do some research first. It’s a fact of real-life business that you can’t simply follow your passion blindly if you want to build a business and make some real money. What do you need to make money? Customers. And what do customers want? – That’s the thing you’ve got to find out.

So before someone dives in selling fairy hats, first they should find out if anybody actually wants to BUY fairy hats, and if they do, then where are those customers? Where do they shop? What do they look for? What aspect of this niche is yet untapped? Could you sell dress-up fairy hats… children’s fairy hats… dolls with fairy hats… handmade fairy hats… etc? Embrace your passion, embrace your chosen niche, but do the research to find out who your customers are and what problem they have that you can solve. Maybe there are fairy fans out there, but rather than fairy hats, they want to buy fairy dresses. Or maybe a fairy parties business would be the way to go, if there’s a market out there for it. Yes, there are some compromises when it comes to making money, but they’re not the end of the world. After all, a fairy party service can still sell fairy hats to those who want them; you just don’t need to rely on that micro-niche to bring you the dollars.

Likewise, if you want to run a blog, whether it’s on fairy hats or F1 racing or anything in-between, you need to do your research before you dive in. Otherwise you might pour a lot of hard work and money down the drain; if you get no blog visitors, traffic and conversions, then you’re potentially wasting a lot of time and effort.

This is not to say that you cannot write or blog about the things which interest you and which you are passionate about, but if you want to succeed in getting plenty of visitors to read, purchase or click on your ads, then just like a business you may need to compromise somewhat. And that’s OK… but find it out now, not after you’re knee deep in boxes of the “wrong kind of fairy hat”!

Get out your magnifying glass, Sherlock… we’re going to have a look at 7 tips to help you build a popular blog.

Tip 1: Choose a realistic niche – Here’s where you have to really dig deep in your research. It’s not hard to tell which niches are overdone – payday loans, credit cards, diet and weight loss, acne, breast enlargement… Avoid these, dear Watson! They are not worth your time as there are companies out there who already dominate these niches with their sheer mass of website content and highly-paid SEO experts. Obviously, don’t get too narrowly focused as that will prevent you from going in any other directions later, but pick a niche in which you can realistically succeed. Ideally, the sweet spot will be where “your passion/interest” and “what people want” intersect. If you can find a niche like this, and there isn’t much competition there, then you’re set!

Tip 2: Look at the best blogs in your existing niche, and don’t plagiarize or make it look like you’re copying them but do learn what they are doing and emulate parts of that. There is clearly something to learn from these blogs because one way or the other they have succeeded in the same way you want to succeed. Also, do some general research into what makes a successful and popular blog – check out a comprehensive resource such as Problogger as a starting point.

Tip 3: Learn some basic on-site SEO and implement it from the start. Although you don’t have to get carried away with SEO – remember, “content is still king”. You need a little SEO, though, as this is what will allow you compete with other blogs in the SERPs (search engine rankings) so that other people can actually find your blog when they search in Google, Yahoo, etc.

Tip 4: Get in touch with people who are running similar blogs so that you can participate in the online community, link into the networks, and send and receive reciprocal links. This will not only make your blog look more alive, it will also result in more traffic and hopefully some good advice from the successful people in your field/niche.

Tip 5: Assess your blog and reassess your blog – there needs to be a cycle so you do all the above things and then assess again to see if you are getting what you want. What do you need to change to do even better? Contact someone who runs a blog you respect and ask them to look at your blog and give their honest opinion – “what do they think as a visitor of your blog”. Use tools such as Ethnio and CrazyEgg to find out what people want and where people are clicking on your site.

Tip 6: Keep your blog active, reply to comments, and utilise social media such as Facebook. The static website is now “so yesterday”. Keep your blog regularly updated, keep people informed even in person as well as online, and remember you have a global and local presence as well as within the online network. Print business cards and tell people about your blog. Participate in blog carnivals regularly.

Tip 7: The ultimate key to a successful blog is to give your visitors what they want while keeping it interesting for them and for you. If you want people to keep coming back, then it is important that you stay in touch with your blog’s theme and not post garbage or late night drunken rants (save that for your private Facebook friend group!!) In taking the Sherlock Holmes approach, keep evaluating what you are doing all the time (assess, reassess, reasses!) and don’t become complacent in case a competitor rises up in your place while you weren’t looking. Finally – make your visitors repeat visitors just as a retail business seeks repeat customers. Keep people coming back for more on your blog; get them on your email list and provide value, not just advertising. This way, with a strong readership, you won’t have to rely solely on search engine traffic, which makes your business more independent. And that’s elementary, dear Watson!

The Top 30 Most Powerful Websites
for Entrepreneurs and Investors in Africa

Post by Bloomber Market
Author: systemdigits

You’re about to find out the top 30 websites for entrepreneurs and investors in
Africa. These are the best places on the internet to find interesting business
ideas, investment opportunities, breaking news, expert insights and advice about
doing business in Africa.

Africa is buzzing with creative talent, impressive business opportunities, and an
entrepreneurial revolution that is shaking up the continent like never before in its
history.

The websites you’re about to discover are doing an amazing job of exploring
and exposing the hidden treasures in Africa’s vast business landscape.
If you’re an entrepreneur, investor or business enthusiast with a general or
specific interest in Africa, these are the websites you should bookmark and visit
everyday!

Ranking Methodology

The websites on this list have been ranked from top to bottom, according to
their Global Traffic Rank on Alexia, as at 1 October 2015.
Alexa.com is one of the world’s leading web analytics tools; now owned by
Amazon.

The Global Traffic Rank is a measure of how each website ranks relative to all
other sites on the internet over the past 3 months. The rank is calculated using
a proprietary methodology that combines a website’s estimated average of daily
unique visitors and its estimated number of pageviews over the past 3 months.
Although I have also included the size of each website’s social media
communities on Twitter and Facebook, this is only an indication of popularity
and reach, but not rank.

So, here we go! Let’s meet the top 30 most powerful websites for entrepreneurs
and investors in Africa.

1. CNN African Start-Up

One of the most popular international TV stations in Africa, CNN has used its
powerful platform to expose the positive achievements of African entrepreneurs
to the world. CNN African Start-Up shares remarkable business startup stories
from all corners of the continent and does a great job on the website.
Global Website Ranking: 76 | Social media: 264,000+ Twitter followers
@CNNAfrica | Website: CNN Africa-Startup

2. BBC Africa Business Report

The BBC is arguably the oldest international media service in Africa. Presented
by Lerato Mbele, The BBC Africa Business Report showcases the latest business
news, technology tales, and consumer trends from across the African continent.
The website is always updated with short and interesting video clips that focus
current and emerging business issues and developments around Africa.
Global Website Ranking: 84 | Social media: 15,000+ Twitter followers
@BBCLerato | Website: BBC Africa Business Report

3. YALI Africa

Founded in 2014, the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) for Africa is a
signature effort of the American government to invest in the next generation of
African leaders. The platform provides virtual resources and vibrant physical
spaces to equip young African leaders and entrepreneurs with the skills and
connections they need to foster change in their communities and their countries.
Global Website Ranking: 1,042 | Social media: 33,000+ Twitter followers
@YALINetwork; 99,000+ Facebook fans | Website: YALI Africa

4. McKinsey Insights & Publications

On the website of one of the world’s most renowned business consulting firms,
McKinsey’s Insights and Publications section for the Middle East & Africa
publish shares research insights, expert advice, interviews and commentaries
that are best-suited for business leaders, entrepreneurs and investors looking for
facts on which to base business and policy decisions.
Global Website Ranking: 7,404 | Social media: 126,000+ Twitter followers
@McKinsey; 298,000+ Facebook fans | Website: McKinsey Insights (Middle East & Africa)

5. All Africa

This is definitely one of Africa’s most popular indigenous websites. Served in
both English and French, AllAfrica is a voice of, by and about Africa. It
aggregates, produces and distributes business news daily from over 130 African
news organizations. In addition to its political and sports news, the ‘Business’
section of the website is always full of rich and current information.
Global Website Ranking: 13,596 | Social media: 222,000+ Twitter followers
@allafrica; 107,000+ Facebook fans | Website: AllAfrica

6. Venture Burn

Based in Cape Town, South Africa, Venture Burn focuses on telling the stories
and news of startup and tech entrepreneurs from emerging market sectors,
covering everything from innovative new businesses and developments in
eCommerce to helpful tips for startup entrepreneurs.
Global Website Ranking: 40,940 | Social media: 5,000+ Twitter followers
@Ventureburn; 1,000+ Facebook fans | Website: VentureBurn

7. My Top Business Ideas

Best suited for aspiring and startup entrepreneurs, My Top Business Ideas
shares an impressive collection of small business ideas and market
opportunities that can be explored for profit in Africa. Founded by Ajaero Tony
Martins in 2013, this website is a useful resource for people looking for business
ideas to spark their imagination.
Global Website Ranking: 44,171 | Social media: 800+ Twitter followers
@MTBusinessideas, 1,000+ Facebook fans | Website: My Top Business Ideas

8. Ventures Africa

Undoubtedly one of the top favourite websites for news, analysis, opinions and
discussion about Africa’s business landscape. Ventures Africa remains a
champion in sharing business insights and stories that explore the opportunities
and complexity of our continent and the African Diaspora.
Global Website Ranking: 49,188 | Social media: 52,000+ Twitter followers
@VenturesAfrica; 19,000+ Facebook fans | Website: Ventures Africa

9. AFK Insider

If you’re looking for a website that covers African news from a business
perspective, AFKInsider is the one. It covers the current business developments
and economic forces that guide Africa’s markets. From agribusiness to
entrepreneurs, AFKInsider is a great resource for both seasoned investors
looking into Africa and general interest readers.
Global Website Ranking: 94,988 | Social media: 7,000+ Twitter followers
@AFKInsider; 10,000+ Facebook fans | Website: AFKInsider

10. How We Made it in Africa

Through its sterling reporting, How We Made it in Africa has become a hub for
aspiring and experienced entrepreneurs, and foreign investors with a strong
interest in Africa. Its case studies, featured articles, and business advice give a
unique insight into the sometimes complicated aspects of investing in Africa and
trading with the continent.
Global Website Ranking: 102,098 | Social media: 47,000+ Twitter followers
@MadeItInAfrica; 43,000+ Facebook fans | Website: How We Made it in Africa

11. Disrupt Africa

Looking for up-to-date news, information and commentary about Africa’s tech
startup and investment ecosystem? Disrupt Africa has journalists roaming the
continent to find, meet, and interview the most innovative and disruptive tech
startups. That’s why this website is a true showcase of Africa’s most promising
businesses and business ideas.
Global Website Ranking: 113,333 | Social media: 4,000+ Twitter followers
@DisruptAfrica; 900+ Facebook fans | Website: Disrupt Africa

12. Africa.com

Founded in 2010 by Teresa Clarke, a former managing director of the
investment banking division of Goldman Sachs, Africa.com provides ‘carefully
selected’ news on the latest happenings on the business landscape across
Africa. Beyond business and financial information, the website also provides
coverage on political and cultural news on the continent.
Global Website Ranking: 123,939 | Social media: 11,000+ Twitter followers
@Africa_com; 75,000+ Facebook fans | Website: Africa.com

13. Innov8tiv

This dynamic web resource features the latest technology news and
entrepreneurial advances of Africans on the continent as well as in the
Diaspora. Founded by Annie Akpe, Innov8tiv seeks to inform consumers and
companies about the latest in tech trends and ideologies that exist in Africa and
among leaders of colour around the world, including the UK, the Caribbean,
Australia, and Asia.
Global Website Ranking: 130,824 | Social media: 7,000+ Twitter followers
@innov8tivmag; 37,000+ Facebook fans | Website: Innov8tiv

14. VC4Africa

This is arguably the largest online community of venture capitalists, angels and
entrepreneurs dedicated to building businesses in Africa. The platform, which
was founded in 2008, connects Africa’s most promising entrepreneurs with the
resources (knowledge, network and capital) they need to realize their potential.
Via the VC4Africa website, entrepreneurs have access to free online tools,
mentorship opportunities and private deal rooms.
Global Website Ranking: 132,833 | Social media: 53,000+ Twitter followers
@VC4Africa; 45,000+ Facebook fans | Website: VC4Africa

15. Celebrating Progress Africa

Labeled as ‘Africa’s Number one website for progressive news’ Celebrating
Progress Africa (more popularly known as ‘CPAfrica’) chronicles the progress
made by Africans, especially entrepreneurs, as they lead Africa to economic
prosperity. CPAfrica also has vibrant Technology and Culture categories.
Global Website Ranking: 153,625 | Social media: 13,000+ Twitter followers
@cpafrica; 54,000+ Facebook fans | Website: CPAfrica

16. Mara Mentor

This online platform enables ambitious entrepreneurs to connect with peers and
business leaders on the African continent. Mara Mentor encourages idea and
knowledge sharing among Africa’s most promising young entrepreneurs,
inspiring a collaborative approach to business start-up and growth. Mara
Mentor is an initiative of Mara Foundation, the Mara Group’s social enterprise
established in 2009 by Ashish J. Thakkar, Founder of Mara Group.
Global Website Ranking: 256,395 | Social media: 111,000+ Facebook fans |
Website: Mara Mentor

17. The Africa Report

With Africa becoming an investment destination of choice, The Africa Report
responds to the growing business need for solid analysis of the political
situation and assessment of the risks. For over 50 years, The Africa report
continues to provide expert analysis of the African business environment, and
remains one of the top references for African business affairs.
Global Website Ranking: 272,551 | Social media: 82,000+ Twitter followers
@theafricarepot; 260,000+ Facebook fans | Website: The Africa Report

18. Tony Elumelu Foundation

The Tony Elumelu Foundation is an African-based, African-funded philanthropic
organisation. Through its $100 million flagship program, the Tony Elumelu
Entrepreneurship Program seeks to identify and grow 10,000 African
entrepreneurs, create 1 million jobs and add $10 billion in annual revenue to
Africa’s economy over the course of the next decade.
Global Website Ranking: 273,254 | Social media: 96,000+ Twitter followers
@TonyElumeluFDN; 146,000+ Facebook fans | Website: Tony Elumelu Foundation

19. Smallstarter

Unique for its in-depth analysis of business ideas and market opportunities in
Africa, Smallstarter is leading the charge to teach, inform and inspire the new
generation of small business entrepreneurs across Africa. Its impressive
collection of well-researched business ideas, inspiring success stories and
practical business advice continues to attract both aspiring and experienced
entrepreneurs and investors from within and outside Africa.
Global Website Ranking: 275,594 | Social media: 1,000+ Twitter followers
@smallstarters; 12,000+ Facebook fans | Website: Smallstarter

20. She Leads Africa

She Leads Africa serves as a platform to invest in Africa’s most talented and
promising female entrepreneurs. Founded by Yasmin Belo-Osagie and Afua Osei,
this impressive online resource provides knowledge and support to female
entrepreneurs, and has launched a pitch competition aimed at startups
operating on the continent and diaspora.
Global Website Ranking: 354,437 | Social media: 5,000+ Twitter followers
@SheLeadsAfrica; 9,000+ Facebook fans | Website: She Leads Africa

21. Africa Business Pages

Although not an information website in itself, Africa Business Pages is an online
directory of businesses involved in intra- and inter-African trade. It focuses on
promoting trade from and to Africa and boosting partnerships among traders
and African distributors.
Global Website Ranking: 372,433 | Social media: 33,000+ Facebook fans |
Website: Africa Business Pages

22. Lionesses of Africa

Dedicated to transforming the profile of women entrepreneurs on the continent,
Lionesses of Africa is an online community of ‘lionesses’ sharing their stories,
knowledge and experiences, and inspiring one another, and connecting for
accelerated success. The ‘Startup Stories’ and ‘100 Lionesses’ sections of the
website are full of inspiration and remarkable business ideas.
Global Website Ranking: 417,989 | Social media: 1,000+ Twitter followers
@lionessesa; 1,000+ Facebook fans | Website: Lionesses of Africa

23. The African Business Magazine

This is one platform that offers a unique insight into African affairs, from an
African perspective. The African Business Magazine holds the title of bestselling
pan-African business magazine. Its special reports profile a wide range of
sectors and industries including transport, energy, mining, construction, aviation
and agriculture.
Global Website Ranking: 494,419 | Social media: 6,000+ Twitter followers
@AfricanBizMag; 4,000+ Facebook fans | Website: The African Business Magazine

24. This Is Africa

Published by the Financial Times, This is Africa equips senior decision makers
with the knowledge to understand the evolution of African economies; to find
partners and investments that match their criteria for return or for development
and to position their brands to take advantage of the rise of the African
consumer. It regularly features updates on foreign policy, perspectives from
leading thinkers on Africa, interviews with global leaders, and analysis of major
events and transitions on the continent.
Global Website Ranking: 561,127 | Social media: 29,000+ Twitter followers
@thisisafrica | Website: This Is Africa

25. The Anzisha Prize

Every year, The Anzisha Prize profiles and rewards young entrepreneurs who
have developed and implemented innovative solutions to social challenges or
started successful businesses within their communities. The ‘Entrepreneur
Stories’ section of this website is a very rich source of business ideas and
inspiration for thousands of Africans who closely follow the annual selection
process.
Global Website Ranking: 808,022 | Social media: 2,000+ Twitter followers
@anzishaprize; 13,000+ Facebook fans | Website: The Anzisha Prize

26. African Business Review

Africa Business Review is a leading source of news and content for C-level
executives focused on business and industry-specific news from across the
African continent. Through its website, daily news and weekly e-newsletter,
African Business Review helps executives stay up-to-date with the most
fundamental operational issues in demanding and ever more competitive
business sectors across Africa.
Global Website Ranking: 934,976 | Social media: 6,000+ Twitter followers
@AfricaBizReview; 3,000+ Facebook fans | Website: The African Business Review

27. LIONS Africa

Launched at the 2012 World Economic Forum on Africa, LIONS Africa is
mobilizing the knowledge, expertise and resources of leading public and private
institutions to encourage and enhance Africa’s innovation ecosystem and to
spur entrepreneurship on the continent. LIONS Africa is a partnership of several
organisations including the US State Department, Microsoft, Nokia, the African
Development Bank and several others.
Global Website Ranking: 1,000,361 | Social media: 2,000+ Twitter followers
@lionsafrica | Website: LIONS Africa

28. Africa Business Jumpstart

This impressive website helps aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners to
get started in Africa’s new emerging markets through its rare market tips,
expert guidance, and actionable tools. Its founder, Dr. Harnet Bokrezion, is a
seasoned and experienced business coach, and co-author of 101 Ways To Make
Money in Africa, a new and refreshing perspective to business opportunities on
the continent.
Global Website Ranking: 1,621,146 | Social media: 700+ Twitter followers
@africajumpstart; 2,000+ Facebook fans | Website: Africa Business Jumpstart

29. FarmBiz Africa

This impressive website is focused on exploring the amazing business
opportunities and success stories in Africa’s agribusiness space. FarmBiz Africa
provides some of the most current news, releases and insights that help to
meet the information needs of Africa’s agripreneurs. For its visionary work, it’s
no surprise it has won several awards from the FAO, UNEP, NEPAD and others.
Global Website Ranking: 2,634,794 | Social media: 9,000+ Twitter followers
@farmbizafrica; 10,000+ Facebook fans | Website: FarmBiz Africa

30. Afrinnovator

Selected as one of CNN’s Top 10 African Tech Voices To Follow, Afrinnovator
tells the stories of African startups, African innovation, African made technology,
African tech entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs. It specializes in observing,
researching and analyzing the trends in technology innovation &
entrepreneurship in Africa.
Global Website Ranking: 2,969,126 | Social media: 67,000+ Twitter followers
@Afrinnovator; | Website: Afrinnovator

Now you know the Top 30 Websites for
Entrepreneurs and Investors in Africa…

Do you know any more websites like these that are doing a great job of putting
Africa’s impressive business potentials on the world map?
Share your thoughts, suggestions and recommendations in the Comments
section below.
Don’t forget to share this article with your friends and people you care about.
This article will save them a ton of work and research time.

Author: Systemdigits

Looking to earn some extra cash in your spare time? We’ve got 25 great ways to get started!

Carla Goodman

Ever dream of running a part-time business while keeping your day job? Want to operate a sideline business along with your current business? Or are you simply curious about entrepreneurship, and want to test the waters before you commit to the world of commerce? Whatever your reason, here are 25 sure-fire ways to get started today with your own part-time business.

Antiques
Make new money from old treasures and have fun doing it! Scout garage sales, estate auctions and flea markets for great buys on antique furniture, toys, clothing and other treasures from the past. Rent space at antique cooperatives, or set up booths at weekend fairs to sell your antiques.

Computer Tutor
Whether you’re an expert at Windows or Linux, desktop publishing or Web research, HTML or word processing, you can help anyone enhance their computer skills. Start promoting your computer-training services by teaching classes through organizations in your community which offer adult education courses.

Custom Jewelry and Accessories
Put your creative talents to work designing custom jewelry and accessories. Whether you work with sterling silver or recycled metals, clay or papier-mâché, there’s a market for your custom earrings, pins, bracelets, necklaces and belt buckles at art shows, crafts fairs and holiday boutiques.

Espresso Cart
Brew up profits day after day! Specialty coffee drinks generate gross profits of 55.1 to 61.5 percent per cup, says the Specialty Coffee Association of America. So brush up on your coffee drinks, buy or rent an espresso cart, and head for sporting events, concerts and farmers’ markets in your community.

Garage and Attic Cleaning/Hauling Service
Nobody likes to spend a weekend cleaning out the garage, attic or garden shed–it’s dirty and time-consuming, and when it’s done, there’s still the task of hauling off all that discarded junk. But if you don’t mind putting in the physical labor, a cleaning and hauling service can be a lot of fun. You can usually find a few treasures among the trash which most people are delighted to give away, and you can add to your income by recycling bottles, newspapers and metal castoffs. You’ll need a pick-up truck or other vehicle capable of carrying everything from cast-iron sinks to old timbers.

Handyman
If it’s broke, you can fix it. Your phone will ring off the hook with calls from homeowners, senior citizens and others who don’t want to fix it themselves. Advertise in shopper publications and on bulletin boards, and drop off fliers at real estate offices. Then start repairing everything from leaky faucets to broken windows.

Home Inspection
Buyers need not beware when they hire a home inspector to conduct a complete physical checkup on their dream home. You’ll inspect the house for structural problems and refer your clients to the contractors or handymen who can make the repairs. Knowledge of construction and your local building codes will get your business off the ground.

Medical Transcription
Work as an important member of a medical team without leaving your homebased office. There’s big demand by hospitals, doctors, dentists, chiropractors and veterinarians who need outside help transcribing patient medical records. Training in medical terminology and linguistic skills will keep your business healthy.

Mobile Home-Entertainment Service
When it’s dirty, disconnected or in need of repair, you’ll save the day for homeowners who want their stereo, compact-disc player or videocassette recorder in working order. Brush up on your electrical and wiring know-how. Door-to-door fliers and calls to retail-store managers about your services will get your business off to a great start.

Mobile Window Tint
With some training and basic equipment, you’ll be seeing plenty of green with your mobile window-tinting business. For best results, have a pager and van ready to help car, van and truck owners prevent heat damage to their vehicles’ interiors. Other hot markets: homes, high-rise condominiums and office buildings.

Office and Home Organizer
Attention all neatniks: Help packrats, overworked executives, and other organizationally challenged individuals clean out messy closets, straighten files, and throw out the excess clutter. Putting your knack for neatness to part-time business use is bound to arrange some tidy profits for you.

Personal Chef
What’s for dinner, honey? Great home-cooked meals for working parents and busy professionals who hire you as a personal chef. There’s plenty of demand for this specialized service. So plan your menu, make out your shopping list, and go to work to satisfy your hungry clientele.

Personal Trainer
Pumping iron; pumping profits. Americans of all ages, sizes and shapes want to keep fit, trim and healthy, and they’re willing to hire their own personal coach to exercise correctly. Spread the word about your physical-fitness expertise at health spas, running, swimming and biking clubs, and other athletic outlets.

Picture Framer
Get in the frame with a picture framing service. You can work with gallery owners, artists, portrait photographers and individuals who’ve purchased a print, painting or fine photo. If you aren’t already a framing expert, read up, take classes at a local college or community center, then assemble your tools–including clamps, saws, miter boxes, glue, and a pneumatic or hand stapler. Establish relationships with local artists’ groups, galleries, photographers and print shops that can give you their business or refer their customers to you.

Plant Leasing And Maintenance
Got a green thumb and a delivery van? You’re all set to service corporations, home builders, health clubs and other businesses who want fresh greenery. Develop a steady clientele with a regular watering, pruning and fertilizing program and a full replacement guarantee.

Records Search
Using specialized databases, you’ll search public records on your computer to help your clients find lost loves, check out questionable suitors, track down debtors, verify a contractor’s track record, or dig up facts on a business opportunity. Clients include attorneys, businessowners and individuals.

Restaurant Delivery
Whether it’s macaroni and cheese or a five-course gourmet meal, at-home meal replacement is fast becoming the newest way to dine. When customers want their restaurant orders “to go,” you’ll be “on the go” with your restaurant delivery service. A great way to make your late afternoons and weekends extra-profitable!

T-Shirt Design
If you’re an artist in search of a medium, why not make T-shirts your canvas? Paint, draw, bead or appliqué your designs on plain T-shirts, and spend your weekends showcasing your art-to-wear at farmers’ markets and crafts fairs.

Wallpaper Hanging
Help residential and commercial clients turn drab walls into works of art with your wallpaper-hanging skills. Build a growing business with great referrals and repeat customers. Drop off fliers at paint and wallpaper stores; also, advertise in shopper publications, in homeowner-association newsletters, and on bulletin boards at local supermarkets and malls.

Yoga and Tai Chi Instructor
In today’s hectic, fast-paced world, parents, business owners and students alike can benefit from the deep-breathing, relaxation and centering techniques you can teach them. Get started by offering classes at health clubs, through your city’s recreation and parks department, or on your own.

Carla Goodman is a freelance business writer.

5 Brave But Crazy Startup Ideas That Paid Off

There are startups, and there are startups. Venture capitalists, particularly in Silicon Valley, want to identify startups of the rarest kind. Not those seeking a quick exit or cloning another business, but startups with a shot of becoming the next Facebook, Apple, or Google.

A common trait among many of these startup ideas is how audacious, stupid, or crazy they sound. They’re trying to create a market where none existed. Instead of taking competitors head on, they’re sidestepping them altogether by doing something entirely different.

Of course, it’s a thin line between ideas that are straight up bonkers and ideas that sound nuts, but actually have legs. Here’s a rundown of five startups that had those legs firmly planted on the ground.

Xiaomi

Xiaomi-Mi-4i-launch-in-India-photo-3-720x450

 

What? Founded in China in 2010, Xiaomi is the world’s third largest smartphone maker. It has ventured beyond smartphones into other consumer and smart home devices. As of 2014, it has over 8,000 employees and a valuation of over US$46 billion.

WTF? Xiaomi doesn’t want to make money by selling phones. Instead, it sells phones at or near cost. It relies purely on online distribution while others ship their goods to physical retail stores. It uses Android. It manufactures and sells its products in small batches, and relies on its users heavily for feedback. It plans to make money from ecommerce and services.

Why did it work?

The combination of these practices drove its product prices down. As a result, its devices punch above their pricing points, providing value for money to consumers. Manufacturing in small batches serves two purposes; it saves money from warehousing, and enables quick changes to its products.

Gathering and implementing user feedback drives up user loyalty: the users are flattered their suggestions made it into the product, which turns them into fans and evangelists. Next to Apple, Xiaomi is one of a few consumer electronics companies with as devoted a following.

Slack

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What? Slack is an office communications chat tool. It launched in August 2013 and is now valued at over a billion US dollars, with over 30,000 teams using it. It was founded by Stewart Butterfield, who started photo sharing site Flickr and sold it to Yahoo.

WTF? Slacks wants to replace your office email by centralizing your communications and work documents. It wants to be the one app you use all the time in the office.

Why did it work?

It integrates with major enterprise apps like Dropbox, Google Apps, GitHub, Heroku, Zendesk, and more. Slack keeps track of what you do on these services, and has a search feature that allows you to instantly access your document data and history. Chat is the trojan horse. It’s really a Google for your internal office communications. The app has gotten off to a hot start, and its future seems bright

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Flipkart

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What? Flipkart is India’s largest ecommerce site. Started by former Amazon employees Sachin and Binny Bansal in 2007, Flipkart has grown to a valuation of US$11 billion. Not bad at all for the duo, who had to face up to family and friends who thought they were out of their minds to leave their cushy jobs and start a company.

WTF? Flipkart began at a time when India lacked the delivery infrastructure for ecommerce and the people weren’t familiar with offline retail or online shopping.

Why did it work?

It began by focusing on a category which had low start-up costs – books. It developed a cash on delivery payment system to earn the trust of consumers and slowly won them over to online shopping. It built its own supply chain management system to deliver goods on time. The founders realized that customer service for ecommerce then was lacking, and they sought to focus on that.

Given the price sensitive nature of Indian consumers, Flipkart offered huge discounts for its items. Its low operational costs enable it to offer discounts that physical stores can’t match. The limited reach of physical retail in India benefits ecommerce, since consumers tend to have a limited selection from nearby stores. Flipkart gives them access to a wider range of goods than ever.

Uber

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What? Uber is the largest on-demand transportation company in the world, valued at US$40 billion. For passengers, it brings a ride to your doorstep which you can order from your app. For drivers, it offers an optimized way to pick up passengers and earn income. No cash is exchanged, since all transactions are handled by Uber’s system in the background.

WTF? Uber believes the smartphone can become the dominant way people get a ride. It also believes an army of private drivers can complement or even replace the taxi industry.

Why did it work?

The app first took off among Silicon Valley elites with the premium Uber Black service, which focuses on making users look and feel good. Its biggest benefit for consumers, however, lies in its convenience. The smartphone detects the user’s location, allowing drivers to easily find the passenger. Ordering a ride is just a couple of button presses away. Payment is seamless and the app automatically deducts from the credit card.

Less obvious but equally crucial is how Uber is increasing the supply of taxi drivers. It’s putting more vehicles on the road to service passengers by signing up drivers to complement the taxi industry. It’s proactively matching drivers with demand, allowing them to make fuller use of their vehicle and time.

Razer

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What? Razer is a US company that builds consumer electronics for gamers. Founded in 1998 and valued at US$1 billion, Razer builds gaming mice, keyboards, and laptops. It recently launched its own smart wristband, the Nabu.

WTF? Razer believes it can build a hardware company just by serving gamers. That was in 1998, where PC gaming revenue was nowhere near where it is today. It also stuck to its core business of investing in the PC despite the stagnation and decline of the platform.

Why did it work?

Gaming has exploded and become mainstream, growing four times in the US from 1998 to 2008. The competitive and esports scene has also grown. Twitch, a site that streams video games as they are being played, was acquired by Amazon for almost a billion US dollars. Razer seems prescient by building niche products almost before that niche existed. It owns 30 percent of the gaming mice and keyboard market through tight integrations between hardware and software.

Editing by Michael Tegos, image by smrtmazumdar
(And yes, we’re serious about ethics and transparency)