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JMS053: How to Use a Queue To Speedup PHP Processing Tasks

In this episode of the John Morris Show we cover: how to use a queue to speedup the processing of tasks in PHP, the advice an ex-Microsoft engineer has for developers, what this year’s holiday means for web developers, the little-talked-about secret to success on Upwork and answers to your questions:

An Ex-Microsoft Engineer’s Advice to Programmers

I would advise folks in software to do one thing, and that’s write. Learn how to write … It’s actually useful. You need to know how to express yourself. And it’s really tough for a lot of engineers to step up and do public speaking… Once you create a successful piece of software, you’re probably going to be writing English as much as you’re going to be writing Java or Objective C. I’ve created multiple pieces of software at DocuSign that went viral, and people liked them and wanted to use more of them. And I probably wrote 10 times the documentation and explanation, and answered questions in paragraph form.

A comment on this post summarized it best:

You may be the best engineer in the building but if others else sell their ideas better than you, their designs will make it into the product.

Read the full article here

Thanksgiving/Black Friday Online Sales Hit $4.5B, 34% Of Purchases Made On Mobile

The first two days of the holiday sales period have netted $4.45 billion in U.S. online purchases, with mobile devices — led by smartphones — accounting for a record $1.5 billion of that amount, with $2.72 billion spent on BlackFriday and $1.73 billion on Thanksgiving. The figures come from Adobe, which has been tracking some 4,500 sites, including 80% of the top 100 retailers.

Mobile is still not as popular as desktop for buying things, but it’s definitely growing, especially as a place to browse. Mobile accounted for 60% of all online traffic on Thanksgiving, IBM said, up 14.8% on a year ago; and it took 54.4% of traffic on Black Friday, up 16.6%. On Thanksgiving, 40% of all sales were completed on mobile devices, another rise compared to last year, when one-third of sales were made on smartphones and tablets. Black Friday saw 35.3% of sales on mobile, IBM said.

Not necessarily a big shock or moral to the story here, but more evidence of what we know. Mobile is continuing to grow. Important to remember for web developers as you consider your path forward career-wise. Prob a good idea to be diving into mobile development.

Also important for site builders. If you’re making the shift to mobile-first… you’re playing an ever smaller game. You may not be tracking a ton of mobile traffic yet but I’m convinced that’s because your site isn’t optimized for mobile. So, people see it and click away. Stats show people browse and make decisions on mobile then pop over to the desktop to buy.

You’re losing before you start if you’re not going mobile-first.

A Destructive Mindset

I have NO coding experience and no extra $$$ to take any classes. I am a semi-retired female, unmarried, with SS income of too little. I MUST HAVE EXTRA SOURCE OF INCOME JUST TO LIVE.

A very dangerous way to think. You’ll likely have the money… it’s simply a matter of priorities. At some point, you just have to decide to go for it.

How to Use Queue To Speedup PHP Processing Tasks Part 1: Queueing Slow Tasks

Basic concept: Offload resource-intensive tasks to be performed after the initial script call. Store the necessary data in a database. Run a scheduled task to execute through queue at an interval. Clean up queue as you execute.

Example: Email Queue

Create a database table to store queued emails. Instead of sending emails immediately in scripts, send them to the queue. Every hour process 100 queue items. Delete or move to different storage as you send each email.

Here’s the full tutorial

The Little-Talked-About Secret to Success on Upwork

The secret is building your own audience outside of it.

  • You gain exposure not controlled by Upwork so not a slave to their algorithms
  • You build trust BEFORE they see your profile which makes you easier to hire
  • You set pricing expectations outside of the competitive enviro of Upwork

Here’s what I suggest you do right now:

  1. Decide video or written (video is better)
    Decide on a niche (membership sites)
    Create DIY tutorials for your potential clients

Always include a blurb at the end about: “Don’t want to do this yourself? Let me do it for you. Check out my profile here…”

Post once a week. Create a 3-month calendar of upcoming tutorials. Set time aside each week to knock it out.

Questions & Answers

I’m looking for tutorials courses to help me: 1) build a simple form to collect data (like a registrations page) and 2) send automated emails from a form submitted.

  1. Consider WordPress or an existing solution. Standard issues like this are handled much more easily. Doesn’t all have to be custom.
  2. How to create a custom PHP contact form with validation: http://www.inmotionhosting.com/support/edu/website-design/using-php-and-mysql/how-to-create-a-custom-php-contact-form
  3. How to Insert Form Data Into a MySQL Database Using PHP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n35Jn2nP9iU
  4. JavaScript AJAX PHP mySQL create a Dynamic web Form project: https://www.udemy.com/javascript-ajax-php-mysql-create-a-comment-submission-form/

Is PDO the definitive method to connect to MySQL?

Not necessarily, MySQLi has some advantages and PDO has its own:

MySQLi

  • seems to be slightly faster
  • OOP and procedural

PDO

  • 12 different drivers
  • named parameters

Most important is the environment you’re working in and what you’re comfortable with. Both can do the job effectively.

Wrap-Up

Thanks for listening! If you have a question, comment or suggestion for the show shoot me an email at john@johnmorrisonline.com.

If you liked the show, give it a like and share with the communities and people you think will benefit.

Finally, you can always find all my tutorials, podcast episodes and more on johnmorrisonline.com, @jpmorris on Twitter and youtube.com/johnmorrisvideo.

December 1, 2015

[LIVE Q&A] Do you believe in the myth of the full stack developer?

In this week’s WebDev Q&A, I answer questions on:

  • Do you believe in the myth of the full stack developer?
  • How do I process checkboxes using PHP?
  • How do I use PDO in my web pages?

Watch below:

Links mentioned in the video:

When you said specialization: Does it mean you don’t believe in the myth of “Full-Stack” developer?

Not necessarily. It’s more about how it’s applied and then marketed then the languages you know. I build membership sites. That’s how I market myself. In that, I use most of the “stack”… I’d just never market my services using the words “full stack”.

Also, marketing yourself as a freelancer is much different than getting hired by a company. I would use “full stack” when looking to get hired because companies hiring developers DO know what that phrase means.

How can I make the file insert all the check-box values selected in my form as an array into one column?

First you have to set up your HTML correctly. Here’s a code example:

https://gist.github.com/johnmorris/8197182

Once you have this done then you would write your PHP script to handle the resulting array. You could serialize it. Depending on your application that might be sufficient.

But, if you want to be able to perform searches on these values then you’d actually store them in a separate table (a relationships table) and associate them with whatever object you’re creating with this form. Here’s a tutorial on that:

How do you use PDO in your web pages?

It’s probably best to just watch this tutorial:

If you get value from this video, please consider sharing it with another developer or group who could benefit from it.

November 24, 2015

How to Use the PHP DateTime Class Instead of the PHP Date Function

In this PHP tutorial, you learn how to use the PHP DateTime class introduced in PHP 5.2 instead of the PHP date function. Watch the tutorial below:


Links mentioned in the video:

Get the source code for this video as a supporting listener of the John Morris Show on Patreon

If you get value from this code snippet, please consider sharing it with another developer or group who could benefit from it.

November 19, 2015

7 Steps to Make Money on Upwork

My first few months on Upwork (Elance) were a disaster. I wasted a lot of time bidding on dead-end or low-payout jobs, working with horrible clients and making much less than I wanted (read: needed).

About a year later, I was doing well enough to leave Upwork forever and get all my clients through repeat business, referrals and my own website… charging what I wanted and clients seeking me out.

I’m not special or overly smart. I just figured out how Upwork works and changed some simple things about my approach and it made all the difference.

Anybody can do this. If you’re struggling on Upwork or would simply like more from your effort, then study this page closely. I’m going to share what I learned.

Step #1: De-Mystify Upwork

Upwork seems to confuse a lot of freelancers. They think it’s this overtly complex system with convoluted goals and impossible for newbies to break into.

Not true.

Upwork’s goals are simple: connect the best clients with the best freelancers (for their project)… profit.

Trust is the most important currency on Upwork and every feature, algorithm and best practice is designed to increase the trust potential clients have in a) the freelancer they hire and b) as a result Upwork itself.

They want to be the go-to network for hiring the best freelancers.

So, the two most important things for you to focus on with Upwork is:

  1. Building your credibility
  2. Being relevant

You build your credibility by having a killer portfolio, looking professional in your photo, communicating fully and clearly in your bios and descriptions, taking relevant tests, having a long, successful job history, getting 5-star ratings, good client testimonials, etc.

There’s no trick or gimmick to get around this. You have to put in the work, wow your clients and do a good job.

You stay relevant by being a specialist instead of a jack-of-all-trades. This is the biggest mistake new freelancers make. They say, “I know HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP and MySQL”.

No kidding?

So, does every other freelance developer on Upwork. And frankly, most clients don’t even know what those languages really are or what they mean.

The words you use are critical. You should be saying things like…

“I specialize in building membership sites.”

“I’m a user-friendly forms expert”.

“I build the best e-commerce sites on the web.”

Those phrases are specific to the end result a client is after… and clients actually understand what they mean.

Once you get this about Upwork, you can start to see how you need to rework your profile and your entire strategy to maximize your opportunity to get hired. But, we’ll get more specific…

Step #2: Research and Craft Your Brand

Now that you know how Upwork operates, it should be obvious that the first thing you need to do is hone your pitch to attract and convince your most ideal clients.

That is, you need to know:

  1. What end result can I give my clients?
  2. Who wants that end result the most?
  3. What do they need to see to believe I can do it for them?

This takes research and a little bit of soul-searching. First you need to uncover your niche. Your niche is that perfect space in the market where you can do what you do best and others will pay you handsomely to do it for them.

You uncover that niche by accurately answering these questions:

  1. What do I love to do?
  2. That I’m great (or willing to work to be great) at?
  3. That others will pay me for?

If you’re honest with those questions, you will get a much clearer picture of the value you have to offer and exactly what you should be doing.

From there, you need to research your ideal client. Who are they? What is their life like? What are their hopes and dreams? What’s their ideal scenario? Where to they hang out online?

Everything you can uncover about them to know them intimately…. better than they know themselves.

So, you can accurately implement the last part which is to craft a brand that naturally appeals to your most ideal clients and messaging you know speaks to them and will convince them you are the man/woman for their job.

Step #3: Build Your Profile

Now armed with an attractive brand and loads of intel on your ideal clients, building your profile is a cinch.

  • You know how to get their attention.
  • You know exactly what your ideal clients want to hear.
  • You know exactly what matters to them.
  • You know exaclty how to speak to them.
  • You know exactly what portfolio items will appeal to them.
  • You know exactly what testimonials will influence them.
  • You know exactly what tests they’ll check for.

The keys here are simple:

  1. Fill out your entire profile in fine detail
  2. Make your entire profile relevant to the specific niche you’re targeting

You’d be surprised how many freelancers who contact me asking what’s wrong with their profile… and when I check it’s only half or three-quarters filled out.

Look at that from the client’s perspective. If you’ll half-ass your own profile what makes me think you won’t half-ass my project?

Also, be relevant. Everything on your profile should speak to the specific niche you’re targeting. If you’re a forms-builder… then the only items in your portfolio should be forms you’ve built.

Nothing less. Nothing more.

Step #4: Win Job Bids

A great profile will help you to show up in the search results when clients search for freelancers related to their project. And, you’ll get invites to bid on jobs as a result.

Also (especially at first) you’ll want to search for jobs pro-actively and bid on the ones relevant to what you do.

To win the bid, you need to do these things (in this order):

  1. Verify it’s a real job (unfortunately, there’s a lot of riff-raff)
  2. Get the attention of the job poster
  3. Get them to trust you
  4. Get them to decide for themselves you’re their best bet
  5. Get them to act now using scarcity
  6. Blow them away and make them never want to hire anyone else and say all kinds of great things about you

Before I get into the details of this… know this… the way you succeed on Upwork (or anywhere else) is through repeat business and referrals. So, 100x more important than the other 5… #6 is above is where 99.9% of your focus should be.

Everything else is pointless unless you’re doing #6.

That said, clients do need to go through a fairly standard emotional process in order to hire you.

First, you need their attention. The key phrase here is: “stick out in a good way”. I’ve found the most fail-safe way to do that is to simply be overly helpful.

In my job bids… instead of telling them all the reasons I’m awesome and why they should hire me, I would just try and help them a little bit.

Give them info, point out anything I saw could be a problem with their bid (in a nice way), answer questions and so forth.

Yes… some clients would take advantage of me. But, the overwhelming majority ended up hiring me and I know I got more work than I would have had I not taken this approach.

This also happens to be how you get them to trust you and convince them you’re the best option as a freelancer. And, it’s simple. Just be helpful.

You have to think about clients beyond the one job they’re posting right this second. Don’t worry about getting that one job. Worry about winning the client over and establishing a relationship with them.

Then, you get all their jobs. I’d gladly give up the one job they’re posting right now for the 10 they’ll need help with down the road.

Take that mindset and it gets easy.

In order to get them to act now… simply “always be walking away”.  Always seem like you have one foot toward the door. The more you seem like you don’t care if you get the job… the more they’ll want you to take it.

It sounds backwards I know… but it’s true.

Of course, don’t overtly say you don’t want it or offend them… just don’t be overly eager. Of course, the best way to do that is to simply have a lots of work already so you’re genuinely not concerned if you get that one job or not… but you’ll get there.

Step #5: Make Your Clients Happy

I’ve mentioned this several times now. It’s that important. But, how?

Here’s the un-sexy dead simple way to ensure your clients are always happy:

  1. Do what you say you’re going to
  2. Talk to them

Brilliant stuff there, eh?

You’d be surprised how many freelancers (especially web developers) don’t do a great job of either one of these.

Here’s the secret to knocking these out of the park:

  1. Build things you’re really great at
  2. Have a step-by-step plan for how you build stuff
  3. Have a day-by-day schedule for how you’ll talk to the client

That is… pick a niche and ONLY build things related to that niche. So, if you identified your niche as “form-building”… don’t take on membership site projects.

If you do that, you’ll be building really similar things project after project. You’ll get really good at doing it AND you’ll be able to create a…

Delivery schedule. You’ll know exactly how long it takes you to build the project and what you’ll have done on what days. Write that down and give it to your clients when they hire you.

Then, since you know the key points in your delivery…  you’ll know the key points at which you need to communicate with the client. So you can build a…

Communication schedule. Write down exactly what days you’re going to communicate with your client about key points in the delivery. Give that to your clients AND actually communicate with them on those days.

Trust me… you do this and your clients will LOVE you.

Step #6: Get Traffic to Your Profile

This is my secret weapon. I have an emal list of over 24,000 subscribers, a YouTube channel that gets ~100,000 video views a month and has over 20,000 subscribers and a website that gets roughly 20,000+ visitors/month.

Any time I choose I can point all the traffic to my profile in order to get freelance work. And, it has nothing to do with Upwork’s “algorithms”.

I’ve worked hard to build that audience.

Point is… don’t rely on Upwork to bring you all your freelance work! Get out in your market and build your own audience and then leverage that audience to win on Upwork.

After a few months on Upwork, most of the work I got came from my own website… and I’d simply tell those people to hire me over on Upwork.

Those jobs still count toward my job history. Those 5-star ratings still counted. Those testimonials still showed on my profile. And, the more of all those I got… the better I ranked on Upwork.

So, bust your butt outside of Upwork to build an audience that then helps rank better inside Upwork.

Post YouTube videos, answer questions on Quora or StackOverflow, write articles on your blog, etc.

It’s the simplest way to outflank the Upwork algorithms that do reward higher rated freelancers. Just become a high rated freelancer without them.

Don’t have a blog yet? Yikes! You need to fix that first! But, don’t worry… click here to take my free tutorial on how to start a blog in 15 minutes or less and let’s get that fixed right now.

Step #7: Your Exit Strategy

All of this culminates with your exit from the wild world of Upwork. Look, Upwork is great and all but you’ll be miserable if you try to only get jobs from Upwork the rest of your career.

The competitive nature of freelance sites dictates that you’ll make less doing more.

Ultimately, you want to get off of Upwork and get all your clients through your own website.

You do this in two ways:

  1. Transfer clients from Upwork to working with you directly
  2. Get enough clients directly you don’t need Upwork

I know Upwork has terms that say you can’t encourage clients you acquired on their site to work with you directly. But I also know that clients don’t care what Upwork wants and usually move to working with you directly anyway.

Also, if you’re following step #6 like you should… eventually, you’ll get enough clients through your own website that you won’t need Upwork. That’s what happened to me. It took about a year but after that I never looked back.

Moving Forward From Here…

There’s a lot in those seven steps… no doubt. So, where do you start? Here’s the first three things I recommend you do:

  1. Know yourself (what you love to do, what you’re great at)
  2. Know your client (what they want, how to find them)
  3. Start a blog (it takes time to get going so get started now)

If you do just those three things, you’ll be way ahead of 99% of freelancers out there and well on your way to a full-time income on (and off) Upwork.

November 18, 2015

[Periscope] How do I create a multilingual website using PHP?

In this week’s WebDev Q&A, I answer questions on:

  • How do I create a multi-lingual website using PHP? 
  • What about SEO is important to learn for developers? Who should I follow for SEO?
  • How do you create a site key for hashing passwords in PHP?

Watch below:

Links mentioned in the video:

If you get value from this video, please consider sharing it with another developer or group who could benefit from it.

November 17, 2015

[Quora] Do you have to take the skill tests on Upwork.com?

I was recently asked to answer this question on Quora and it’s something I get asked quite a bit:

Do you have to take the skill tests on Upwork.com?

You don’t have to but I highly recommend you do. My answer below explains why. Upvote if you get value from it:

You have to take the “Upwork Readiness Test for Independent Contractors and Company Managers” test (as of when I joined).

Beyond that, you don’t have to take any of the other tests. And, while some of the other commenters are right that you can have success without taking any of the others, I recommend you do.

Here’s three reasons why…

1. Stack all the odds in your favor. All else equal… passing a test could be the difference between you and another freelancer. Sites like Upwork are very competitive so you want to make sure you have every advantage.

The key is to make sure the tests you take are…

Read the full answer here

If you have a question you’d like me to answer, you can invite me to answer it over on Quora, tweet it to me, or join me LIVE on Periscope every Tuesday for my WebDev Q&A.

November 13, 2015

13 Tips For Making Your Blog Posts More Interesting

The first blog post I ever wrote I didn’t publish for three days. I’d log in every day, open up the post and stare at the “Publish” button trying to work up the nerve to “just go for it”.

“What if no one reads it?”

“What if they do and think it’s terrible?”

“What if I misspelled something and get made fun of for it?”

Most of all, I was terrified people wouldn’t find it interesting and never come back. If you’ve ever had that same fear… don’t worry, we all have.

Since then, I’ve spent a ton of time figuring out how to make my blog posts as interesting as I can. I don’t claim to be perfect at it, but I’ve found a ton of good tips that have helped. Here’s 13 of them:

1. 4 Delightful Editing Tips to Make Your Words Dazzle and Dance

4 Delightful Editing Tips

Do you ever read back a draft of your writing and wonder what happened? Red-cheeked, you thought your draft was complete. You felt excited. Brimming with enthusiasm. You knew it … this was going to be superb. Probably your best-ever blog post. Yay!

You poured yourself a beer, feeling elated with your success. Any minor editing and proofreading could wait until the next day. But, the next day … you feel disappointed. Your writing sounds bland. Your sentences seem to stutter.

What can you do? Let’s explore four things:

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Still need to get started? Click here to learn how to start your blog in 15 minutes or less.

2. A Simple Strategy for Increasing Blog Post Ideas

Increasing Blog Post Ideas

When you first come up with an idea for your new blog, you can get filled up on a huge rush of adrenaline. You’re start off with a big enthusiastic bang, putting all the right pieces in the place so that your blog has the best chance at making it big. You have all these great ideas for blog posts and you turn into far more prolific a writer than you could have ever imagined.

And then, before you know it, the well runs dry.

You go from publishing multiple blog posts a day to having extended periods with no new posts at all. A week goes by. Then two weeks. Then even longer. Suddenly, the rabid posting activity on your blog has quieted down to near utter silence. And you wonder why your blog isn’t doing so well.

So, what can you do?

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3. Why You Need To Make Canva Your #1 Image Tool

Why You Need To Make Canva Your #1 Image Tool

Canva has been around for some years now but I only discovered it a few months ago and since then it has quickly become my go-to image and graphics tool and has saved me a lot of time asking our in-house designer to knock me up custom images for blog and social media posts.

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4. 51 Quick Hacks That Will Make You Write Attractive Headlines

51 Quick Hacks That Will Make You Write Attractive Headlines

The headline is the most important part of a blog post. Majority of people that see your posts will see the headlines only. Without a compelling headline not many will actually click to visit your article.

To attract visitors and draw them in you must write powerful, relevant and eye-catching headlines for your posts. Your headlines must be sharp, they must make people curious and prompt them to click on your link no matter the distractions and the competing choices in their news feeds.

If you achieve this your headlines will help your posts get more clicks, more shares and more engagement.

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5. How to Create Stunning Infographics for Your Blog Post

How to Create Stunning Infographics for Your Blog Post

As someone said, “A picture is worth more than 1000 words.” In the present scenario, a picture is a very good way to share and summarize your blog content. You can use chart, Information and text together to create an Infographic. Infographics are quite popular on Social-media sites & readers love it as it convey the message in an easy to understand format.

Most of the bloggers think that you need to be a highly skilled designer to create an infographic, which is not entirely true. These days there are many online Infographic maker sites are there to help users like you & me to create Infographics for our blog post. This is your handy guide to learn everything about designing Infographics for your blog even if you have not done it before.

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6. 5 Powerful And Stimulating Ways To Improve Your Blog Writing

5 Powerful And Stimulating Ways To Improve Your Blog Writing

Are you struggling to improve your blog writing? Want to captivate more readers to your blog?

With hundreds of thousands of blogs out there in the online space, it can be difficult for your blogging voice to be heard.

To encourage an audience towards your blog, it needs to be world class, professional, and highly beneficial to your readers.

Within this action packed blog post, you’re going to learn 5 powerful and epic tips and tricks to propel your blog writing, so not only does it entice new readers to your blog, but it will keep your readers on your blog for longer, which is crucial within any blog or website.

Create an epic blog for your readers with these simple but massive tips!

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7. Your Voice is Louder than Words: Interview with Todd Henry

Your Voice is Louder than Words: Interview with Todd Henry

Most creatives think finding their voice is as simple as digging it up in the backyard. But the reality is this process is shrouded in a lot more mystery.

My friend, Todd Henry believes your voice is developed in layers. It’s something you uncover and develop over time. Ultimately, it’s how your collective body of work speaks. It is louder than your words and bigger than a single event. I like that.

This week on The Portfolio Life, Todd and I talk about using your voice to create lasting impact. Listen in as we explore deep ideas like active patience, authenticity, and vision.

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Need help getting the first few visitors to you blog? I’m more than happy to help. Click here to see how I can help publicize your blog.

8. 11 Powerful Tools to Create Brilliant Content

11 Powerful Tools to Create Brilliant Content

There are so many factors that contribute to your blog’s success. SEO? Sure.

Having a good headline that will hook the readers into clicking on it? Check.

Having a website that is aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but not to overbearing? Got that, too.

Social media presence? Ditto.

All of these are pretty much necessary, yet rendered completely useless if your blog is missing its most important ingredient: great content.

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9. How to write a blog post that your readers will love to read and share?

How to write a blog post that your readers will love to read and share

So you put your sweat and blood to write a blog post. You are so excited about the blog post.

You’ve done all the editing to polish your post and it reads great! Now you are extremely proud to click that Publish button and you do so.

You look forward to comments, shares and all sorts of social media interactions. That’s quite reasonable isn’t? – given that you’ve spent so much time and effort on it.

But that doesn’t seem to happen. Why is that? Why are your blog posts avoided by readers, even though you write them with all your heart?

Why do the blog posts of your peers do very well among their audience but yours fail to perform well.

Let’s discuss six tips to help you write blog posts that will get your readers to read and share!

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10. 9 Secrets To Write Interesting & Engaging Blog Content

9 Secrets To Write Interesting & Engaging Blog Content

Blogging has become hugely popular over the last few years. At first, it was just a hobby for teenagers, who created their blogs to tell about their lives and things they like. Nowadays blogging has grown into a profitable business. It seems practically everyone has their own blog, and the range of subjects these blogs cover is mind-boggling.

However, not all blog owners have noteworthy blogs. One of the quickest ways to make readers quit your blog in no time is miserable content. Below is a collection of powerful tips for writing unforgettable content that is not only interesting to write, but even more interesting to read.

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11. 7 Exercises to transform your blog from sloppy to savvy

7 Exercises to transform your blog from sloppy to savvy

The web is getting noisier by the minute and you have so much information put out there. People in fact have overwhelming amounts of information on any topic under the sun.

So even if you are running the best blog out there, the chances are you will go unnoticed by anyone.

But there’s good news. When you see a plateau in your earnings, or traffic, or your progress in general, there are certain things you can do to transform your blog.

The transformation is not only a nice thing to your blog and to your readers, but it is an uplifting thing for your business too.

And it is a mandatory thing to do. Here are 7 blogging exercises that will help transform your blog from sloppy to savvy.

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12. The Blogging Tactic No One Is Talking About: Optimizing the Past

The Blogging Tactic No One Is Talking About: Optimizing the Past

Nine months ago, I analyzed a report that would transform not only my role on the HubSpot blogging team, but also the whole blog’s editorial strategy. The results have been nothing short of eye-opening. And I’m not just talking about the findings from the report — I’m also talking about the business results we’ve generated from the shift we made in our blogging strategy because of those findings.

That shift is an ongoing internal project we call “historical optimization.” The goal? Update old blog content and generate more traffic and leads from it in the process.

Great for us, right? Hang on — it’s great for you, too. I’m writing about all this because any experienced blogger who’s tasked with growing and scaling the results they generate from their blog needs to know about it. The thing is, no one is really talking about it … yet.

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13. 11 Free Blogging Tools to Help You Identify and Understand Your Audience

11 Free Blogging Tools to Help You Identify and Understand Your Audience

Your blog has to reach those who’ve barely heard of you and need convincing that you’re the right provider of a solution for them (i.e. the vast majority of your website visitors).

And in order to develop a better quality signal to search engines, you have to create the right content for your visitors – and this content is most likely going to benefit from the support of a blog behind it.

But wait! What is the Number One thing you have to do before typing a letter? Identify your audience.

Your blogging will be wasted if you are not a) writing up solutions to your potential and returning visitors’ problems, and b) writing it in style that reflects your audience. Luckily, there are a ton of free resources out there to get you started on your research to write the best, most targeted blog posts you possibly can!

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Wait, wait wait… this is too much!

Feeling overwhelmed? It’s okay… together these are a lot to take in. Instead of doing that, though, I recommend you bookmark this post and tackle these one at a time.

You can’t suddenly implement 100 different ideas at once. Instead, use these as a guideline to constantly improve your blog in the coming weeks, months and years.

November 11, 2015

[Periscope] Do I Need to Learn WordPress?

In this week’s WebDev Q&A, I answer questions on:

  • What text editor do you use? Why?
  • Can I make my whole living as a web developer?
  • Where’s the source code?
  • Do I need to learn how to use a CMS, like WordPress?
  • What’s the right learning path to take?

Watch below:

Links mentioned in the video:

If you get value from this video, please consider sharing it with another developer or group who could benefit from it.

November 10, 2015

[Quora] How Do I Get Clients on Upwork Like I Used to On Elance?

I was recently asked to answer this question on Quora and it’s something I get asked quite a bit:

I used to be very successful on Elance, but the same profile/strategy is performing poorly on Upwork. What are the possible reasons for this?

Here’s what I think you can do to win on any freelance site, including Upwork. Upvote if you get value from it:

First, I’d want to know what your strategy was. It’s possible that it was something that exploited how Elance worked that’s now been shored up with the migration to Upwork. If that’s the case, then it’s just important to understand that is the limitation of gimmicks.

That said, I’m assuming that’s NOT the case so let’s dive into some of the reasons why it might be different and what you can do.

1. Competition. The stats I can find show that Elance was around 2 million freelancers in 2013 and oDesk was about 3.1 million. Even when they became Elance-oDesk, you still had two separate sites and so on Elance were competing with roughly 2 million other freelancers.

Those numbers have grown and the sites have now combined and Elance-oDesk (now Upwork) reported 9.3 million registered freelancers in 2014. So now you’re competing with roughly 7.3 million more freelancers.

So, it’s just a lot more competitive now.

2. Rich Get Richer. It’s always difficult to get inside the inner workings of sites like these but if you try to sift through the public statements they do make, I believe it’s pretty clear that Upwork is focused on helping the “cream rise to the top”. That is, surfacing what they consider the best freelancers on their platform and displaying their profiles much more prominently on more searches even if they’re not 100% relevant.

Of course, relevance is always important and I’ll cover that but Upwork seems to be less concerned with it and more concerned with surfacing high quality freelancers. This is quite a bit different from Elance. I found on Elance that I could rank for searches even if I wasn’t always the highest rated developer based on how I targeted my profile with keywords, skills, etc. Upwork still has that a bit, but it seems to be less effective.

So, what can you do?

Read the full answer here

If you have a question you’d like me to answer, you can invite me to answer it over on Quora, tweet it to me, or join me LIVE on Periscope every Tuesday for my WebDev Q&A.

November 6, 2015

How to Create a Custom Error 404 Not Found Page

In this PHP tutorial, you’ll learn how to create a custom 404 page not found error page. Watch the tutorial below:

Links mentioned in the video:

Get the source code for this video as a supporting listener of the John Morris Show on Patreon

If you get value from this code snippet, please consider sharing it with another developer or group who could benefit from it.

November 5, 2015

7 Smart Productivity Tips For Freelancers

I hate Facebook. Seriously. But, I love it. I get to keep in touch with all the most important people in my life… but it can so easily suck away my day.

Email, YouTube (oh god!), Clash of Clans (insert demon face)… as a freelancer my time and income are intimately linked.

And, if I blow a day watching 50 Cent interviews on YouTube or building the “perfect” base on CoC… I lose money.

Here’s seven of the best productivity tips and resources I’ve found to STOP me from doing this day after day (after day):

5 Apps To Boost Your Productivity As a Freelancer

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While being accountable for your own productivity is a daunting task, in this day and age, it’s totally manageable. For those of us with untraditional careers, there are plenty of resources available to keep us motivated and organized. After all, as the good people at Apple told us numerous times in the year 2010, “there’s an app for that.”

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How to Organize Your Writing Workplace for Better Productivity

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This problem is not new, and everyone looks for tips and tricks on better blogging, reads guides, searches for inspiration, etc. But do they realize the decision they seek is right in their backyard? It’s all about writing workplace organization.

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10 Productivity Apps Every Freelancer Needs

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In today’s digitally powered world, online tools abound that can address a great many of the typical freelancer’s productivity, workflow, organizational, and intellectual needs. A well-curated selection of apps, websites, and software provides additional arrows in your creative quiver—not to mention sanity.

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Productivity for Freelancers: The one key to doubling Your free time and Your income!

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Do you want to get more done in a single day than most freelancers do in a week? If you struggle with productivity – as most freelancers do – the steps laid out here could easily do this for you. Turning you into a productivity machine.

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Ten Productivity Tools Every Freelancer Must Know About

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It may not be a walk in the park, particularly if you’re just starting out, but freelancing becomes bearably easy if you’re equipped with the right tools to do the right jobs. Just like plumbers have their own special tools to take the edge off usually backbreaking and challenging work, so do freelancers. Below are ten of such tools:

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Productivity Tips for Freelance Web Designers

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Today we are sharing tips and guidelines that will increase the productivity of a web designing freelancer. In order to become a successful and reliable freelancer, it consist of consistency and determination.

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31 Marketing & Productivity Tools That Every Freelance Graphic Designer Should Use

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In order to help you allocate more time to your creative designs, we’ve created a list of useful tools that many small businesses are already using. We hope that you’ll use them too and save time in order to optimize your creative performance.

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Now, you (and me) have no excuses. Do me a favor and share this with someone you know needs it.

Yeah, it may rob them of a day of watching those awesome totally inappropriate Thug Life videos on Facebook… but it may just help put a few more benjamins in their back pocket. (And, I’d love you forever too of course.)

November 4, 2015

[Periscope] What WordPress Development Tutorial Should I Invest In?

In this week’s WebDev Q&A, I answer questions on:

  • What WordPress development tutorial you should invest in?
  • The key to continually getting freelance clients
  • Sending emails with PHP’s built-in mail() function

Watch below:

Links mentioned in the video:

If you get value from this video, please consider sharing it with another developer or group who could benefit from it.

November 3, 2015

[Quora] How Much Does a Web Designer Charge For His Services?

I recently came across this question on Quora:

I’ve got problems with charging my services online, so I’d like to hear how do you guys go about it. Be as detailed as possible.

Want to charge more for your services? Build trust by regularly publishing helpful content. Click here to start your blog in 15 minutes or less.

I always find the answers people give to be a bit vague, so I thought I’d chime in with my answer. Upvote if you get value from it:

This was something I struggled with when I first started out, as well. It’s a constant battle between charging enough to make it worth it yet still get enough jobs to make a living.

It always seemed the answers I found were a bit vague, so let me try and give you some specific steps to figure out what you should charge:

1. What Is the Market Price?

Depending on what exact service(s) you’re offering, there is presumably already a market with a market rate for those services.

Now, this isn’t some price written down somewhere that everybody agrees upon… it’s simply what most people happen to charge for these services.

You need to know this. You need to do this research.

Every service has an upper limit regardless of how much you may *want* to charge. Competition dictates this. So, you need to know what it is for the market you’re in.

Again, every type of service is different so someone can’t just tell you. You need to do the research.

2. What Are You Willing to Accept?

Are you willing to accept the market rate? You’ll be miserable if you keep working for less than you think you’re worth.

So, really take some time to think this through and make sure you’re comfortable with the market rate.

3. What’s Your Strategy?

Finally, you can tweak your pricing depending on what your strategy is…

Read the full answer here

If you have a question you’d like me to answer, you can invite me to answer it over on Quora, tweet it to me, or join me LIVE on Periscope every Tuesday for my WebDev Q&A.

October 30, 2015

How to Send Mail Using PHP

In this PHP tutorial, you’ll learn how to send mail using PHP. Watch the tutorial below:

Links mentioned in the video:

Get the source code for this video as a supporting listener of the John Morris Show on Patreon

If you get value from this code snippet, please consider sharing it with another developer or group who could benefit from it.

October 29, 2015

Why I’m Joining YouTube Red

There’s been plenty of wailing and gnashing of teeth surrounding YouTube’s announcement of it’s new “Red” membership.

And while there are plenty of good points being made, I’ll be joining YouTube Red as soon as it’s available (and think you should too). Here’s why:

1. The Nay-Sayers Actually Have No Idea (Even If They’re Right)

You’ll find plenty of people already predicting YouTube Red’s demise, or how it’ll be bad for Creators or how it’s all about making money… and on and on.

And, it hasn’t even launched yet!

Truth is, nobody (not even Google) knows how this is going to pan out.

So, while the nay-sayers may end up being right if YouTube Red does any of the above… it’s not because they have any kind of special insight. It’d simply be dumb luck.

Feel free to ignore anyone predicting YouTube Red’s future (including me).

2. It’s a Win-Win For Viewers and Creators

While it’s future may be uncertain, YouTube Red’s value proposition for both viewers and creators isn’t.

Nobody likes watching the ads.

As a content creator, I’m not 100% comfortable with making my money off of them either.

So, viewers win by avoiding the interruption and creators win by not making their money off Viagra ads.

I like the idea of being able to support the channels I follow simply by watching their videos… and not suffering through the ads attached to them.

And YES! I know I could just use AdBlock. But, I’m not a douche and I actually want to help support the channels I watch.

Before YouTube Red, I didn’t have any good options. Now, I do. Not be a douche AND not suffer through annoying ads. Yes, please.

Plus, it comes with a Google Music subscription. Uh, why wouldn’t I do this again?

3. It Was My Idea

Ok, not really… but I did write a really long blog post about why I think the ad-revenue model is broken.

The current model creates a click-bait culture that rewards publishers who are good at writing headlines and not necessarily at creating substance in their content.

A subscription-based model like YouTube Red is a step in the right direction (IMHO) because it pays based on watch time and not views.

So, you make money if people actually watch your video… not just click on a deceptive title.

Of course, I know I’m probably “unbearably naive” for some people’s taste… but I’ll be joining YouTube Red and I hope you will too.

October 28, 2015

[Periscope] How to Search a Forum With MySQL and PHP

In this week’s WebDev Q&A, I answer questions on:

  • Is it a good idea to self teach myself and still pursue a career in web development?
  • Which front-end framework should I start with?
  • How do I create a good search for my forum with PHP and MySQL?
  • I don’t know where to start with web development!
  • I want to learn how to get new clients,

Watch below:

Links mentioned in the video:

If you get value from this video, please consider sharing it with another developer or group who could benefit from it.

October 27, 2015

How to Parse XML With SimpleXML and PHP

In this PHP tutorial, you’ll learn how to parse XML using SimpleXML and PHP.

Watch the tutorial below:

Links mentioned in the video:

Get the source code for this video as a supporting listener of the John Morris Show on Patreon

If you get value from this code snippet, please consider sharing it with another developer or group who could benefit from it.

October 22, 2015

What To Do When You Run Out of Blog Post Ideas

You’ve likely heard me harp on the importance of content for your online business; whether your selling information products, providing a service or shipping physical products.

If you haven’t started your blog and aren’t producing content regularly, you basically don’t exist online.

But most bloggers are in a  constant fight to consistently come up blog post ideas.

Well, instead of racking your brain every week (or day) trying to figure out what you’re going to write about, use these tips to ensure you always have fresh ideas for relevant content that will impact your audience.

1. Create an Editorial Calendar

This is likely a piece of advice you’ve heard 100 times, know you need to do but never actually do. That was me anyway. And, the result is my content creation was incredibly inconsistent.

Then, I got the opportunity to build Michael Hyatt’s Platform University membership site and get a behind-the-scenes look at how a professional did it.

And, there was no debate about the editorial calendar. It’s just what they did… for both they’re public-facing blog and the membership content.

It was a real eye-opener.

If you want to be a pro blogger (and get paid like one) you have to act like one.

I’m, of course, still notoriously scatter-brained but my editorial calendar makes sure I’m producing content consistently instead of in bursts every few months.

Here’s the simple way to do it:

  • Decide on your content “silos” and schedule. I do a Periscope Q&A every Tuesday, a written article every Wednesday and video tutorial every Thursday.
  • Decide on your topics a year out. Sit down one weekend and decide on the titles of each “silo” of content for each week for one year out. This alleviates the stress of having to come up with ideas on the fly.
  • Give yourself a 3-month lag. Create 3 months worth of content in advance so you have some lag time. You can even schedule the posts in WordPress in advance so they go out right on schedule.

It’s hard to describe how much a relief this is once you get it accomplished. Immediately all the stress of trying to figure out what to write fades and you can actually enjoy blogging again.

2. Leverage Idea Starters

Speaking of deciding on topics… this is probably the hardest part for most bloggers. I know I struggled with it quite a bit. My big thing was getting too cute with titles and then not really knowing what I wanted to write about when it came time to crank it out.

Proven idea starters help with this.

And, I’ve seen the best of the best in blogging do this. In fact, I used one for this blog post. See if you can spot it in this list:

  1. Essential _____ For _____. E.g. Essential Ingredients For The Perfect Casserole.
  2. The Future Of _____. E.g. The Future of Blogging.
  3. How I Went From _____ To _____. E.g. How I Went From Extremely Shy To A Popular YouTub-er
  4. Top 10. E.g. Top 10 Mistakes New Bloggers Make.
  5. Checklists. E.g. My Blog Post Essentials Checklist.
  6. What to Do When _____. E.g. What To Do When Your Car Breaks Down.
  7. 7 Steps To _____. E.g. 7 Steps to Consistently Writing Engaging Blog Posts.
  8. 5 Skills Every _____ Should Know. E.g. 5 Skills Every Web Developer Should Know.
  9. Tools For _____. E.g. Tools For Eliminating Distraction For At-Home Workers.
  10. Find Time For _____. E.g. How to Find Time For Writing Blog Posts.

Of course, this is just a small sample. The way to gather these is to pay attention to the titles that grab YOUR attention, write them down and then see how you can turn them into a formula like this.

Not only will you continually build a list of blog post idea starters, but you’ll know they get people’s attention because they got yours.

3. Read… A LOT

Most of my ideas for blog posts are sparked by something else I read or watched online. As I read it, it sparks some sort of idea that I think is important for my audience.

It could be that I completely agree and want to share the wisdom…

Or, it could be that I vehemently disagree and I want to “set the record straight”…

It could be that I see a way to improve or advance the idea or skill being discussed…

Regardless, I firmly believe that in order to be a good writer/content creator you need to be an avid reader/consumer.

The best bloggers I know consume a ton of content themselves.

There are exceptions (like Gary Vaynerchuk) but they’re rare… and generally speaking it’s the exceptions that make the rule.

So, make sure you’re consuming plenty of content related to your niche. It will give you the fuel to formulate your own thoughts and ideas that can then serve your audience.

Getting Over the Hump

Of course, for most bloggers the idea of coming up with a year’s worth of blog post titles seems overwhelming.

That’s okay… start small.

Decide on your content “silos” and brainstorm your 3-month lag first. You’ll likely find that once you get going it’s easy to keep going and that whole year may just find its way into your editorial calendar.

Besides, if you don’t… you’re going to be faced with that same dread the next time you know you need to write a blog post but have no idea what you want to write about.

October 21, 2015

[Periscope] How to Learn Object-Oriented Programming in PHP

In this week’s WebDev Q&A, I answer questions on:

  • There is so much to learn and it’s changing all the time, how do I know where to focus and what to choose to pursue?
  • How do I learn object-oriented programming?
  • How can one tell if I am good enough?
  • I’ve learned HTML and CSS, how do I make the transition into learn PHP, MySQL and Javascript?
  • I’m learning how to work with databases, what all do I need to learn?

Watch below:

Links mentioned in the video:

 

If you get value from this video, please consider sharing it with another developer or group who could benefit from it.

October 21, 2015