I have been searching for a way to make cheap eBook covers for quite some time now. Luckily, just as I was about to purchase an expensive set of plugins for Photoshop, John Chow posted up a new service that takes care of all kinds of eBook and eCourse images that is CHEAP! Normally, you are paying somewhere in the 80-100 dollar range to pick up a software package to do this, but with myecovermaker.com…you can make individual covers for about 3 bucks a pop, or you can make 100 covers a month for 9 dollars a month!

I was just in the middle of finalizing a new free eBook I am publishing for Bike198.com, so this came at perfect time for me. You really have no excuse at this point for not having a cool looking eBook cover on your free or paid eBook. I like to design my own covers using the supplied Photoshop templates you can download on the site, but you can also design your own using template backgrounds and adding text directly on the site. Here is the latest that I just built up this morning using myecovermaker.com.

Cheap eBook Cover Generator

I am not in any way affiliated with this website, so I am not making any money by promoting this. Every now and then I run into a really cool resource that I want to share with you guys and this is one of them.

Keller Hawthorne at Simply Fresh Themes sent me over a copy of her first premium theme for WordPress blogs, Fresh Journal, for review on RobbSutton.com. Keller is the mind behind FresheVenture.com and Fresh Journal is her first step into the premium WordPress theme industry. With a clean overall look, included documentation and long list of admin options, let’s take a dive into Fresh Journal and take a look at how these theme will operate on your blog. Note: For the purposes of theme testing, I use another site I own, whatannoys.me, that may or may not have this theme live when you read this review.

Fresh Journal Install and Setup

Fresh Journal installs just like any other WordPress theme on the market. You can upload it via FTP and activate or use the built-in installer in WordPress. Once you install and activate the theme, the administration panel where you tweak the inner workings of Fresh Journal are found under the appearance tab.

Once you are in and installed, there are a ton of options available to customize the look and feel of Fresh Journal. There is everything from Twitter and Google Analytics integration to thumbnail resizing.

One of the best features in Fresh Journal is the ability to change the custom image tag. For those of you that are running another premium or free WordPress theme that has a thumbnail for each article, you are able to change Fresh Journal to match your previous settings keeping you from having to go back and update every single article. In my case with whatannoys.me, I was able to change that tag to the Thesis post image tag and all of my images were up and running instantly. That was a huge time saver.

This administration panel is also where you can control your overall site link/box color, featured posts options (shown at the top of the content section on the homepage), home page excerpt length, ad spots on homepage and single article pages, rss and Twitter box options (at top of sidebar and bottom of single) and how many related articles you would like to see at the bottom of each article. As you can see by the screen shot in the gallery, there are also other included options that allow you to change things up as you need to.

Once you have your settings all tweaked up, you can head over and arrange your widgets in the sidebar and footer, and…as you can see by the included screen shot, there are more options for sidebar layout than I even use. From single to dual column in two different areas of your sidebar, you can really mix things up as much as you want to.

Fresh Journal Look and Feel

Outside of the administration options, Fresh Journal has a sharp and clean overall feel. Everything is laid out nicely on the page with adequate spacing between elements and the lack of imagery within the theme framework makes for a fast loading page. Those looking for a more custom look are going to want to tweak the CSS file to include a custom background and custom page elements, but the CSS is laid out cleanly…so that shouldn’t be an issue for those that are used to diving into design code.

Overall Thoughts and Review On Fresh Journal

At $39.95, Fresh News is about 1/2 the cost of most of the premium themes on the market. At this price, I really consider this theme a great deal for many WordPress users. With a clean and easy to use interface combined with a clean look, you are able to get up and running with a professional looking blog on a budget and easily.

That said, there are a couple of things missing from the administration panel that I would like to see included in future revisions: changing the fonts, changing individual element colors (coming in next release), changing background image.

If you are looking for a clean theme that everyone isn’t already running (since this is new and relatively under the radar…you don’t have to worry about everyone having the same theme as you), Fresh Journal is a great option for those of you that are not ready to drop 75-100 dollars on a premium WordPress theme. I had whatannoys.me up and running as pictured in about 10 minutes without any real effort. I can imagine that spending some time on it would create a great look in the end.

What I Liked About Fresh Journal
  • Great administration panel for those that aren’t coders.
  • Clean look and fast loading pages.
  • Incredible documentation included.
  • New theme, so everyone on the block is not already running it.
  • Ads for affiliate or Adsense easily installed.
  • Custom image tag changer is a HUGE time saver.
  • 1/2 the price of most premium themes on the market.
What I Think Needs To Be Included In Later Revisions
  • Easy way to change background and fonts in administration panel.
  • Scrolling feature panel on homepage instead of click to move.
  • Replace links for social media with icons.

Overall, great job by Keller on her first drop into the premium WordPress theme market. I am looking forward to the other themes that Simply Fresh Themes is going to produce over the coming months.

To check out Fresh Journal for yourself, click here.

The key to any successful site or blog is conversions. Once that reader hits your page from a search engine or other online resource, you want to convert that reader into a regular subscriber or customer of your products and affiliate promotions. That is why we are all here right? To grow our blogs and hopefully make a little bit (or a lot) of money doing so? So what is it that successful blogs do that convert readers at a high rate to increase their bottom line?

There is a lot of talk on the web about where to place your newsletter subscription sign-up form, rss button and sharing icons, but what can you do to raise your conversions rates drastically to increase your business up and over that plateau?

Tailoring Your Content For High Conversion Ratios

I see a lot of bloggers that are taking all of the right steps and still not seeing any success. They create a free ebook to entice newsletter subscriptions, they are creating high-quality content on a regular basis, they have a logo and design that is clean and easy to navigate…but they are still spinning their wheels trying to figure out how to get those high dollar and subscriber numbers.

The Key To Success Is Attracting The Right Audience

One of the major mistakes that most bloggers make is ignoring their highest converting part of their blogging…the content. I’m not talking about just “quality content”, I am specifically targeting content that will draw in the exact reader you are looking for in your converting process. Who exactly do you need to land on your page and find value in what you are delivering?

When I set out to write Ramped Riding on Bike198.com (paid ebook on becoming a better mountain biker), I started writing a series of “riding tips” articles on my blog to attract readers who want to become better mountain bikers. These were not articles that were in the ebook, but separate, quality content that would preview what was included in the 130+ page paid ebook. This got my readers used to what I am able to provide in the world of riding tips and pre-qualified those readers as customers for the ebook.

Now…what about that search engine visitor that is reaching my page for the first time? They are searching for riding tips and happen to land on one of my in-depth how to’s. After they read the article that helps them with a specific aspect of their riding, they see there is an ebook on the site that can help them with even more…so they click on the landing page and find a more in-depth solution for their needs.

Do you see what I am doing?

I am pulling in quality, qualified, targeted leads on to my pages through my free content to convert on my paid content.

The same holds true for your free options as well. On RobbSutton.com, I give away a free eCourse and eBook titled Ramped Blogging. Do you think I would get a lot of conversions on newsletter sign-ups if most of my articles were centered around blog design? Absolutely not…so I write articles on RobbSutton.com that attract readers who want to become better bloggers. I then show them (you guys) how I do it and how I can help you do the same through my free and paid products (Ramped Blogging and Ramped Reviews). By doing this, I am solving your issues on the web by attracting the right audience through my free content.

When you go to draft your blog articles, you need to ask yourself a simple question before you hit the publish button.

Who am I targeting and what are they going to do once they hit my site?

Can you answer that question about your last 5 articles?

If you can not answer that question, you need to start taking a serious look at how you are planning out your content generation on your blog.

One of the common misconceptions when bloggers offer a paid product on their blogs is that they can not give away any free content on their blog about that topic. But…if you have no way to draw in free leads, then you are going to see low conversion ratios. By offering complimentary, relevant, free content related to your paid options, you are pulling in highly targeted readers that have a real need to purchase your paid options or sign up for your free ones.

Having a successful business, online or brick and mortar, is all about bringing in targeted leads that need your products and services. 1,000 targeted leads will always be better than 100,000 worthless leads, so as you chase the latest “hot topic” that is bringing in thousands of worthless visitors, try to focus on the profitable content that will bring you the 1,000 targeted leads that will drastically increase your bottom line and growth. It is not about high numbers…it is about targeted ones…

Image by Charlyn W

Yesterday, I was reading and commenting on an article by Nicholas Cardot at Site Sketch 101 titled “Are you crying about other’s success?” and it got me to thinking. At some point in your blogging career, you are going to make a dollar or find some other kind of success and there are going to be those other bloggers and people that want to shoot you down for it.

Lately, there has been a growing trend in the blogosphere of putting down other successful bloggers that are making money through their blogging efforts.

Lame.

One…we want successful bloggers in the industry in and outside of the blogging niche. Why? That means that you can be successful within that niche as well. I don’t know about you guys…but I don’t want to spin my wheels for nothing! I like making a living doing what a love. Anyone else that says any differently is just lying to you to make themselves feel better about their place in life.

Two…it is a cry for help. If you see other bloggers putting down the success a fellow blogger is seeing, they are trying to attract traffic to their blog using controversy. That is great for comments and a small bump in traffic, but this “controversy blogger” is missing a very key point in successful blogging. Controversy traffic converts at a rate that is almost unmeasurable. Unless you are Perez Hilton, your controversy traffic is going to make you zero cash so it is a wasted effort while you throw your own name through the mud.

My Experience With Blogging Trolls

In the beginning with Bike198.com, I got a lot of “internet superheros” that just wanted to beat down my blog until I gave up and quit. They would post about it on forums, try to comment on my blog and even say something on their own blog that their mom reads about my site. Eventually, they all go away. Why? Because I ignore them. These guys are more worried about padding their forum post count (which makes more money for those site owners and not them…funny how that works) than they are about actually getting their own bikes dirty.

After awhile, they move onto the next guy hoping to get a reaction because that is ultimately what they are after from the beginning.

When I released Ramped Reviews, I got another wave of spoiled milk with bloggers and other people thinking that I was only in blogging to get free stuff. Not only is that completely false, but if they would have taken the chance to read the ebook, they would see that it is about much more than just free product. Once again, these people eventually moved onto the next guy without making any real lasting impact.

What Can You Learn From These Situations?

Controversy blogging has its place, but that place is not in the realm of trying to bring down other people in your industry. Now…if they did something so despicable that it has to be told, that is different. But if you are just planning on shooting down their success because you don’t feel its right to make money, then you are barking up the wrong tree and almost insuring your failure.

So remember these 5 things.

  1. You want successful bloggers in your niche because that means you have the ability to be successful.
  2. It will always be easier to criticize than create, so remember that as you draft your articles and deal with Internet trolls.
  3. Ignoring is often the best form of dealing with Internet trolls as no one wins online arguments and you are giving them what they want…a reaction.
  4. You can delete comments when necessary. They don’t own your site…you do!
  5. If you are getting complaints about something you are doing well, congratulations…rinse and repeat!