A theme is the layout / design of a blog.

It is important to select a theme that fits the ideas of your blog at the beginning of your project. Simply because you should be planning in front and know what layout you require.

Another minor reason is that screenshots maybe taken of the blog and displayed on other sites, changing the theme just makes the site a little dis-orientated when users click on the image and are then faced with a different looking site.

Point to consider may include:

1) Navigation – do you require drop down navigation links.
2) Widget Ready – Premium themes are built so you can just insert a widget you require.
3) Ad Space – will you be inserting banners or ads, if so you need the space to fit them in.
4) Ready optimised

There are many places where you can find themes, I’m currently compiling a list of my favourites which I’ll add shortly, so bookmark this page and check back soon.

In the mean time, if you have any great themes you wish to show off, please add them in the comments.

If your just getting into writing blogs, the most important choice you need to make is the platform you intend to use to create the blog.

There are a few blog platforms to choose, the most common ones being WordPress, Blogger and Drupal.

I have used Blogger in the past, but WordPress is my preferred choice of blogging platforms. It’s backend is so simple to use and you can have a blog up and running within minutes…well, OK within 30 minutes!

So, what makes Wordpress so GREAT! Well its hard to list all the points, but these are my top 10 reasons:

1) Open Source, so its being improved all the time. There have been a few know security issues, but if you keep upto date with the latest version you shouldn’t encounter any problems.
2) Permalinks, allows you create SEO friendly URLS with no experience of URL rewrites required. So instead of having variables within the URL, you can create static looking ones like: http://www.monetize-online.com/make-money-online/
3) Media, upload images into the media library without the requirements of continually having to use separate FTP programs. Its a simple and fast process.
4) Widgets, allow you to easily insert components into the design (similar to plug-ins) for example blogrolls, archive links can be added or removed with ease.
5) Plug-ins, if you’re looking for a feature to add into the blog, for example a calendar, a featured content rotators or any other gizmo that will make you blog look the business then plug-ins are for you. Most are free and can be installed and inuse within minutes. Creating these plug-ins for a traditional website would cost a lot in time and money.
6) Posts / Pages, WordPress needn’t look like a blog, by disabling the posts and just using the pages it could look like any other website, or vice versa.
7) Contributors, creating a blog for money can become tedious as your always trying to generate unique content, all the time. With WordPress you can easily add other authors and contributions. Privileges can be set so they can add content to the blog but not disrupt the actual design or layout.
8) Tagging, creating tags create additional pages which can be indexed by Google, although this creates duplicates and have seen now harm caused, in fact a lot of my tag pages appear higher up the search engines than my posts. Its a great method of doubling the size of a blog without too much effort.
9) Themes, my favourite part. The themes (template designs) available for WordPress are varied, some are free and some are paid. Personally I would purchase a professional theme from the start. If you intend to make money from the blog, the blog needs to look good and keep your users interested. The advantage of themes is you simply upload and click a button, that it, the new theme is installed. One tip though – turn off your plug-ins when converting across to a ne theme, the install will be a lot smoother.
10) Oh and its totally free, so go and download Wordpress for yourself.
I don’t have a vast experience with other platforms, simply because WordPress works for me and has never let me down. So this money making blog will mainly focus on wordpress techniques, and on occasionally divert to other platforms.

So what are your favourite features or reasons why you use wordpress?
Please comment below:

If you are new to blogging hosting a site can be a daunting task. Well, don’t be put off, as the only hard work is initially finding a host worth going with.

Hosting is very competitive and if you do your research the very best hosts can be just as cheap in price as the ‘cheap and nasty’ hosts that provide no service at all or are continually experiencing down time!

So what should you choose when looking to host your blog?
Here is a run down of my Top 10 Features when looking for a Host:

1) Ensure the host uses Linux (they may also use Windows Servers) but for blogging Linux is a must as all good blogging platforms require Linux (not Windows)
2) View the Up-time Stats. This is the amount of time the Server stays running throughout the year – Look for 99.9% up-time.
3) Find a host that offers packages to suit your requirements. If you are starting a blog, you may become hooked and wish to create many more blogs. Bear this is mind, so enquire to see if you can add on domains or easily upgrade to a more expensive hosting package when the time suits you.
4) Go for a host that offers unlimited Bandwidth and Disk Space – If you blog becomes a great success you may require a fair chunk of bandwidth – you want to know that the site will remain running and no costs incurred due to bandwidth restrictions. A similar approach to disk space, you should have plenty, but double check no restriction apply.
5) Back-end Control Panel – For example, C-Panel or Helm. These allow you the user to perform tasks without the requirement of the host provider. For example, within the back-end you should be able to perform common tasks, such as creating new email accounts, file uploads, creating sub-domains or add-on domains, install additional software like WordPress, Drupal etc..
6) Hosts Age? Check that they have been around a few years. I know I shouldn’t put a new host down, but I would rather go with a host who has good history than a new start-up host. The main reason being that an old host should have ironed out any server issues and have good procedures in place. A new hosting provider may be a little green, and experience more problems. If the host has a problem, you blog will have a problem!
7) Software Policy – Ask the host if there are limitation on the software you can install. For example you may wish to install a rewrite .dll, in which some hosts may have issues with this, whilst others may already have it, or allow you to install such software.
8) Pricing – Check the past history, you don’t want to sign up for a host that will up their prices at random or on a frequent basis.
9) Reputation – Go with an experienced users advice. I chose my site via a friend you has multiple sites running on the same host. I listened and took his advice. Im glad I did :-)
10) Most importantly SUPPORT. Try to ask other users who host on the same package what the providers support is like. I was once with a host who support was useless, 2 to 3 days to get an answer is not good enough when a problem arises that you need to fix immediately.

There are more things to look out for, but in my opinion the above are the essentials.

So here comes my Sales Pitch. Taking the above points into consideration I cannot praise my current hosts enough. I have hosted with them for over a year now and have never experienced downtime or had any issues what so ever. The support is superb, they have answered all my support emails within 15 minutes of posting, no matter the time of day, or night! Who are they you ask?

Host Gator

Targeted traffic is the key to online success. If you target the correct keywords, making money online will become much easier.

It won’t happen overnight, but creating a permanent page which targets keywords that gain searches will drive traffic to your website.

Depending on how competitive these phrases are will depend on the time and investment required to gain high rankings within Google and other search engines.

If you are just starting out with a small site, it is pretty much pointless going after the huge phrases at first, for example ‘car insurance’ or ‘loans’ – 99.9% these types of phrases will gain you no traffic due to the competitive nature and other high profile websites already ranking for them.

Targeting the ‘long tail’ phrase will be much easier to rank, and therefore profitable far quicker.  For example, ‘cheapest car insurance company’ or ‘small business loans’ – still competitive but much more realistic to rank for with a certain budget and time scale implemented.

These examples are very competitive, but are there to give you an indication that you shouldn’t be targeting just the one word phrase, in fact research has shown that more and more searchers are starting to use ‘long tail’ phrases, mainly because web users are becoming more ‘web savvy’ and know exactly what they are looking for, most users know that by typing in two to three keyphrases within one search query will provide them with more accurate results.

So there you have the importance of keyword selection, but where do you obtain the traffic figures from? Hmm this is a good question and I have yet to find an accurate solution, or two keyword research tools that provide the same numbers!

Part 2 will provide you with some keyword tool I have found useful.