You’ve seen it for yourself. These days, there are a gazillion different ways to broadcast your thoughts online.
Blogging, podcasting, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat — the options are overwhelming. Are you supposed to do all of them? If not, which ones are most important? What if you are talented in one medium and terrible in another?
ARGH! It’s so confusing.
Well, here’s the good news:
In this post, I’ll do my best to answer those questions. Even better, I’ll give you answers that include taking things off your plate, not putting more things on.
In other words, everything is about to get a whole lot simpler. Let’s jump in.
Why Trying to Do Everything at Once Is a Mistake
Some influencers are doing it all. They have a blog, podcast, YouTube channel, a bunch of social media accounts with tons of followers — everything.
From the outside, it’s impressive. You might even think that’s what you have to do if you want to make money online.
But here’s a little secret:
Behind the scenes, most of those influencers are paying entire teams of helpers. In the rare case where they are doing everything themselves, it also leaves them without any time to monetize all that content, so many “social media influencers” are actually broke.
The reason why?
No one gets more than 24 hours in a day. It doesn’t matter how smart, fast, or multi-talented you are — you’ll never be able to do everything well.
You have to choose. The question is… how?
How to Figure out What to Focus on
Thankfully, this one is simple. Just answer one question:
In what medium can you develop a top 1% skillset?
At first glance, this might seem like a strange question, but let’s break it down.
There are three types of media: the written word, audio, and video. Chances are, you’ll be better at one than the others.
For example, writing has always come naturally to me. Even when I was in school, I could write essays 10X better than everyone else and barely exert myself at all.
For you, maybe it’s something different.
Maybe engaging people with your voice and having interesting conversations comes naturally to you. In that case, you should start a podcast.
Or maybe you’re captivating on video. Ever since you were a kid, you’ve been a natural entertainer.
Wherever you shine, that’s the medium you should focus on.
But here’s the caveat:
Don’t just jump in and expect to be successful. Success with any kind of content marketing isn’t about being good. It’s about being among the best.
Here’s what I mean:
The Staggering Difference between Being Good and Being Great
Once upon a time, I was an NFL (American football) junkie, and I was always intrigued by the pay difference between players.
The star of your team might make $20 million a year. The backup to your star, however, might make $2 million or even less.
Was this because the star was 10X better?
Not even close. In a professional sport, even the backup players are among the best in the world. At best, a star might be 50% better than his replacement.
So why do they pay him 10X more?
Because games are a matter of matchups. One player being just a little bit better than his opponent can mean the difference between winning and losing. If you have an entire team of players who are just a tiny bit better, you win the Super Bowl.
You see the same thing in the Olympics. The silver medal runner might be just a fraction of a second behind the gold medal winner.
And content marketing works the same way.
The rewards go to the best of the best. You can be a good writer or podcaster or YouTuber and have mediocre or even terrible results.
In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and say something controversial:
If you’re not prepared to be among the best in your niche, content marketing isn’t going to do anything for you at all. You might as well quit.
Before you get too discouraged though, here’s the other side of the coin:
If you diligently upgrade your skills over time in a medium where you have some natural talent, you can almost always be among the best.
Let me explain…
How I Became One of the Most Popular Writers on the Web
Over the last decade, my work has touched over 200 million people — about 1 out of 8 people in the English-speaking world.
Crazy, right? Obviously, I must have some secret.
But I don’t. I followed the exact method I’m teaching you here.
I recognized I was a naturally talented writer, so then I spent years improving my writing skills to the point of being among the best in the world. It took me about three years to begin to get noticed and another two years after that for people to start thinking of me as “the blogging guy.”
During those years of practice, I wrote 1,000 words every single day. In the first year, I also wrote 100 headlines per day. Added to that, I spent one or two hours per day reading the work of other top bloggers, dissecting why they were popular, and deliberately practicing incorporating their techniques into my own work.
It’s the same process an athlete uses to become an elite player in their sport. Identify natural talent, practice like hell, and then do your best to be in the right place at the right time.
Content marketing is no different. It’s a sport, and there are winners and losers.
The medium doesn’t matter. Blogging, podcasting, YouTube — the vast majority of the rewards go to the people at the top.
The question is, are you willing to put in the work to get there?
It doesn’t always have to take three years as it did for me. I spent a lot of time running in circles because I didn’t have anyone to guide me. With the right coach, you can progress much, much faster.
And that brings me to my most important point.
The Formula for Being an Insanely Successful Person
It’s all about stacking top 1% skills.
Let’s say you have some natural talent as a writer. You invest in some good training, work like hell, and gradually become a top 1% writer.
But that’s not the end of the story.
Now you’re getting lots of traffic, but you’re not making much money, and you realize it’s because your marketing sucks. So again, you invest in some good training, work like hell, and gradually become a top 1% marketer.
Again though, it’s not the end of the story.
Because now, you’re making some pretty good money, but you’re working night and day, and you want to hire someone to help you. Problem is, you’re a terrible manager and leader, but again, you decide to suck it up, invest in some good training, work like hell, and gradually become a top 1% CEO.
The above story isn’t a fairytale, by the way. It’s the story of the last 10 years of my life.
And it’s actually a pretty common story. Regardless of profession, the most successful people in any field get there by stacking 1% skills on top of each other.
So, let’s bring this full circle:
When to Branch out into Podcasting or YouTube
Assuming you’re a blogger, you should wait until you’ve mastered blogging.
Let’s take me as an example.
I’ve spent the last couple of years improving my skills as a CEO. It’s been a painful, gradual process, but I think I’m starting to “get it,” and that’s one of the reasons why the company is now growing faster than it has in years.
Am I among the top 1%? Not quite, but according to these stats, I’m getting pretty close. I think it’s just a matter of time.
So, what’s next?
I’ll pick another media and become the top 1% there. I have some natural talent with podcasting as well, so that’s probably the next skill to stack on top. On the other hand, I don’t think I have much natural talent with video, so the chances of me starting a YouTube channel where I’m the star are pretty slim.
And that’s fine. We don’t have to be great at everything.
The key is to be great at one thing… and then another thing… and then another thing.
If your first “thing” is writing, I’m your man. We have some of the best training there is for writers, and we’re expanding it all the time.
But do me a favor…
Don’t start a podcast or YouTube channel while you’re trying to learn how to write. That’s the equivalent of someone training for an Olympic marathon deciding to become an Olympic swimmer and skier all at the same time.
That’s never going to happen. Not unless you’re inhuman, anyway.
So, pick just one medium. Focus on it. Get really, really, really great at it.
And then enjoy the rewards of being at the top.
About the Author: Jon Morrow is the CEO of Smart Blogger. Check out his new blog Unstoppable and read the launch post that went viral: 7 Life Lessons from a Guy Who Can’t Move Anything but His Face.
The post Why You Shouldn’t Start a Podcast or YouTube Channel (Seriously) appeared first on Smart Blogger.
Today's episode is a little different. In it, I explain why I haven't released a podcast episode in over a month. I also share why I'm reevaluating everything I do in my blogging business.
Go ahead and click play below to listen.
This is painful to say, but…
Most of what’s published out there about WordPress hosting is total BS.
Not just incomplete information. Not just half-truths.
I’m talking outright lies and boldfaced scams.
You can’t even get straightforward answers to basic questions like…
It’s infuriating, but listen…
I’ve helped build and run some of the most popular blogs in the world, scaling them from nothing to millions of visitors per month. During that process, I learned a lot of valuable lessons — often the hard way — about what makes a good WordPress host.
And today, I’m publishing the guide I wish somebody had given me.
It’s brutally honest. It’s full of technical details (that I do my best to explain). It’ll also save you tons of time and money.
The Different Levels of WordPress Hosting
To start, here’s an infographic explaining the typical path most bloggers take:
They start with a shared host, and then they grow to a Virtual Private Server, and then they grow to a Dedicated Server.
Wondering how that applies to you?
Here’s the short answer:
TLDR: The Best WordPress Hosting Right Now (In My Opinion)
If you’re under 100,000 visitors per month, don’t torture yourself by getting a VPS or dedicated server. Just grab a cheap, no-frills shared hosting account.
Is it the best hosting in the world?
No, but it’s way better value than the alternatives. Here’s a pricing comparison:
The more expensive things get, the more complicated and frustrating it gets too. You’ve never experienced misery until you try to optimize a dedicated server for the first time.
Keep it simple and cheap. Use a shared host.
Now, that begs the question…
What’s the Most Cost-Effective Hosting for WordPress?
Personally, I use SiteGround (affiliate link) for all my new sites. Here’s why:
That being said, I’ll be straight with you…
SiteGround isn’t the only great host in the world. They’re just the one I personally use and recommend to our 2.6 million readers. I wouldn’t endorse them publicly without having a lot of confidence in them.
But there other good companies with a different approach.
Who Is the Best WordPress Host, Regardless of Price?
WP Engine (affiliate) has an impeccable reputation for flawless hosting and support. In my opinion, there’s no question they are better than SiteGround, but they are also 10X more expensive.
Is it worth it?
If you want a host that can take unlimited traffic and has WordPress experts standing by to help you with pretty much anything you need, plus you’re hosting a business website with a significant budget, maybe it’s worth the extra cost. Quite a few big blogs host with them, and they believe it’s worth every penny.
I’ve also been to their offices in downtown Austin and met with the executive team. It’s a solid company that’ll be around for years to come.
The bottom line:
If you want to skip the rest of this post and just choose a host, go with SiteGround (affiliate link) if you have a small budget and WP Engine (affiliate) if you have a large one. You won’t regret going with other company.
Before you choose any WordPress host though, here’s an important point you should understand:
Most Reviews Are Bought and Paid for
Pretty much every blogger making a hosting recommendation is getting compensated by the host. And yes, that includes me.
I’m not hiding anything. I’m proud of the partnerships I have with SiteGround (affiliate link) and WP Engine (affiliate), because I have personal experience with both companies, many of my students are customers, and they treat everyone extremely well. I would happily recommend them even if they weren’t paying me a penny.
And that’s NOT true for other bloggers.
Most don’t even use the host they are recommending. In my opinion, that’s just unethical.
Especially when it comes to one particular company…
Many Hosts are Owned by the Same Terrible Company
Ever heard of Bluehost?
Or maybe Hostgator?
Both hosts are owned by a conglomerate called Endurance International Group (EIG). In fact, EIG runs most of the big hosting companies, and it continues to buy new ones all the time.
So what makes them so awful?
After they purchase a host, they lay off support staff, stop investing in new technology, and funnel the money into increased advertising and payouts to shareholders. In every case, the reputation of the host plummets.
Of course, you might be wondering how you find out if they own your host. Or for that matter, how do you know if your host is a good one if nearly every review is bought and paid for?
The Best Way to Get Unbiased Reviews
Web Hosting Talk is the biggest forum on the web about hosting, and it has literally millions of reviews. They don’t allow affiliate links either, so you can count on the reviews to be unbiased.
Granted, every host gets a bad review now and again, but you can comb through dozens of reports to get a much better feel for the reputation of the host, as well as their strengths and weaknesses.
Also, here’s a little hack to save you some time…
Instead of using the search tool built into their forum, which can be a little clunky, grab the URL of the forum you want to search, and then put the following in Google:
site:URL “host name”
For example, if you wanted to verify the reputation of SiteGround (affiliate link), you can go to their list of forums, right click on the one that seems most appropriate, and copy the link:
From there, use the search parameter above in Google. In this case, it would be:
And voilà, you have a listing of reviews you can easily look through for reliable information.
In particular, here’s the biggest factor that should influence your decision:
How to Evaluate Customer Support
Customer support. When you’re a beginner, it’s more important than anything.
No surprise there, right?
But here’s the big lesson…
It’s not just about wait times or the intelligence of the technicians. It’s also about the method of support, what the host supports, and the helpdesk schedule.
Personally, I want a host with technicians I can interact with in real time (either through phone or chat), have a thorough knowledge of WordPress, and are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And that’s actually relatively difficult to find at an affordable price.
That’s why I think SiteGround (affiliate link) is the best host for most beginners. They give you all those things for an entire year for less than the cost of a dinner at a nice restaurant.
And here’s what’s even cooler…
Their servers are also configured especially for WordPress. Let’s talk about that next.
The Configuration Matters More Than Tech
Chances are, you’ve seen a page on a hosting website that looks something like this:
Almost like a foreign language, right? Disk space, RAM, page views, uniques, SSDs — what’s it all mean? And for that matter, how are you supposed to know which plan is right for you?
Actually… you don’t have to. If you’re running a relatively simple WordPress site, none of those technical details matter much. You can ignore them.
In 2012, a fellow named Ewen Leith managed to get a $15 server to run a WordPress site receiving 10 million hits a day. Granted, it was an extremely simple site using a set up that would be tough for a novice to manage, but it’s still proof the configuration of your web host matters much more than having high-end hardware.
That’s another reason why I recommend SiteGround (affiliate link) – their servers are configured specifically for WordPress. Your site will be able to handle far more traffic with far fewer resources. Over the long term, it translates into significant savings, because you have to upgrade less often.
Granted, SiteGround isn’t the only host who does this. If you decide to search for someone else, here’s what to look for:
RAM, SSD space, bandwidth — for a normal WordPress site, none of those specs really matter much. Ignore them and focus on the three above details.
Installing Too Many Plugins Can Mess up Any WordPress Host
So, you found a host that’s perfectly optimized for WordPress. Your site should be nice and zippy, right?
Actually… not necessarily.
If you install too many WordPress plugins (or even just one really bad one), you can slow down your site or even cause your host to cancel your account. It’s the most common source of problems.
So,how do you know which plugins to install and which ones to avoid?
The short answer: install as few as possible, and if you ever have problems with your site, the first thing you should always do is try deactivating plugins. For a detailed answer, take a look at our post on essential WordPress plug-ins.
Make Sure You Get a Free SSL Certificate
Ever since Google announced that having an SSL certificate is now a ranking factor, it’s become essential for you to have one.
What’s an SSL certificate?
It’s an extra layer of security and reporting around the safety of your website. Any site using SSL will have the prefix “https” in the URL.
In the past, you had to pay a yearly fee to register your SSL certificate, but most of the top web posts are now offering one for free. You should take advantage of that savings and have your site on https from day one.
The 7 Things That Really Matter When Choosing the Best WordPress Host
By this point, I wouldn’t blame you if your head is spinning.
We’ve covered a lot of technical details in this post, so I thought I would conclude with a quick checklist to help you choose the best WordPress host for you. Here are the seven most important things to remember:
Follow those recommendations, and you’ll save yourself tons of time, money, and headaches. I speak from experience.
Ultimately though, the decision is yours. Choose wisely, my friend.
About the Author: Jon Morrow has asked repeatedly to be called “His Royal Awesomeness” but no one listens to him. So, he settles for CEO of Smart Blogger. Poor man. ?
The post WordPress Hosting: A Brutally Honest Guide That’ll Save You Money appeared first on Smart Blogger.
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