From AIN Conference 2017.

I had the privilege of speaking at TEDxOhioStateUniversity in February of this year. The video is finally available online:

You’d think with 94% of Americans having the option of Broadband Internet that things like site loading and page speed wouldn’t be that important. But given that 24% of all Internet traffic comes from Mobile, how long it takes your site to load is still a big factor of user satisfaction (and Google rankings).

Here’s how I improved my Google PageSpeed score by 40 points in 5 minutes.

1. Check your PageSpeed score

First, check your score by going to http://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

2. Make 2 tweaks to your .htaccess file

Add the following to your .htaccess file (assuming you are on an Apache server such as Dreamhost):

[html]

# Enable Caching for Speed

ExpiresActive On
ExpiresByType text/html M3600
ExpiresByType text/css M3600
ExpiresByType application/x-javascript M3600
ExpiresByType image/bmp M3600
ExpiresByType image/gif M3600
ExpiresByType image/x-icon M3600
ExpiresByType image/jpeg M3600

[/html]

3. Install W3 Total Cache

Install W3 Total Cache and enable the following options: Page, Minify, Database, Object, and Browser, and then hit Save All Settings.

4. Check your PageSpeed score again

Submit your site again and see your improvements. You can also read the other tips provided by Google on how to make your site even faster.

And just like that, you’ve increased your PageSpeed score.

RESOURCES:

One of my most popular requests is setting up websites for actors, comedians, and improvisers. The process to do so is usually pretty quick (assuming the person has the copy for each page, I can turn it around in a day or two) and is mostly painless.

If you’re an actor looking to set up your own site, here’s what you should look to include:

1) Static Home Page

Unless you plan on updating your site daily or weekly, you should have a static homepage that has a picture of your beautiful face, a welcome message, and links to the other pertinent stuff on your site.

2) Bio Page

People searching for you want to know a little bit about you. What’s your story? Where are from? What have you done? What are you doing now? The bio is a chance to tell the world about yourself in a more personal, and humorous, manner.

3) Resume Page

In addition to the Bio, you should let people know about the awesome work you’ve done in the form of a Resume page. Include both an webpage and a downloadable PDF version so people can print out your resume if they need to.

Note: Do not include your home address on your resume; your home city / state is good enough.

4) Media Page(s)

Visitors want to see you in action, so it show them in the form of images and video. If acting is your thing, they want to see you act. If comedy is it, show a clip of you making people laugh. You can choose to have all of your media on one page or separated into images and video if you like. Either way, make sure people can see what you have to offer.

5) News Page

A simple News section of your site (done via a blog) gives you a chance to update the world on current / recent projects you’ve been working on. This shows you are a working professional and can also be great to send out to casting directors to keep them posted on the awesomeness you are creating.

6) Contact Page

After a visitor realizes how great you are, you want them to be able to get a hold of you. Your contact page does just that. You can either include your email (or embed an email form), or post the contact info for your representation.

Note: If you post your email, I recommend creating an email account (with your domain name) specifically for these inquiries.

Last year I published my very first book, 50 Quotations on Humor, mostly as a way to learn about the self-publishing process. After tons of research and actually doing it, I’ve boiled down the process to these steps.

Note: This assumes you already have a book idea / content ready. Also this is for self-publishing a physical copy of the book.

10 Basic Steps for Self-Publishing a Book

Step 1: Purchase Your Own ISBNs

Most book-publishing services will create ISBNs for you, but if you do that, you lose control over who the imprint is. If you want a more official publisher name, and not SELF-PUBLISHING-COMPANY X, you can purchase your own ISBNs and define the imprint (maybe something like “DREW’S PUBLISHING HOUSE”).

To purchase ISBNs, I used myidentifiers.com. I bought 10 ISBN’s for $250 (and you’ll want to buy in bulk as you should have different ISBNs for digital and print versions of your book).

Step 2: Assign Your ISBNs

After you’ve purchased your ISBNs, you’ll have to assign one to your print book. Using myidentifiers.com, you fill out the pertinent details such as Title, Author, Summary, etc. This information is used when booksellers are listing your book.

You may not know all of this information until after you finish the other steps, so you may have to come back to it. The important step right now is assigning the ISBN to this particular book.

Step 3: Choose a Publisher

There are a number of great Print-On-Demand publishers out there, including Lulu, LightningSource and Blurb. However I personally went with CreateSpace because of it’s direct connection to Amazon. With CreateSpace, as soon as you approve your book for publishing, it gets listed on Amazon.com, as well as a few other places.

Step 4: Create a Book / Choose a Size

One of the first things you have to decide on with your publisher is the size of your book. There are number of standard sizes but CreateSpace also allows you to create your own.

Note: If you create your own size your book won’t be distributed to bookstores, it’ll only be available in the eStore and on Amazon.com.

Step 5: Design Your Interior

Once you have the size, you can design the interior of the book and fill it with content. Another advantage to using a standard size is that CreateSpace has templates you can download so all you have to do is Copy/Paste and format the text you want (no messing with margins, etc).

If you decide to go with a custom trim size, using a program like Adobe InDesign might be easier to use for formatting.

Step 6: Design Your Cover

Once you have your interior set, you can create a design for the cover. Once again, standard sizes have templates, custom sizes require you do some math to get things right. Be sure to leave the correct space for where the barcode will go and pick print-safe colors for the cover.

Step 7: Upload Your Content

Once you have the interior and cover completed, you’ll save them as PDFs and upload them to the publisher. CreateSpace has an electronic checker that will review for any formatting issues such as incompatible fonts. Be sure to clear any errors (or actively decide to ignore them like I did when an error about spacing came up).

Step 8: Order a Proof

Once everything looks good in the previewer, it’s a good idea to order a physical proof. This will take a little bit of time as every time you submit something to be available as a proof, it takes a day or so to be reviewed by a human to make sure everything is OK. Then you can order the proof (which is usually pretty cheap although they get you with shipping costs, especially if you want it rushed).

Step 9: Publish Your Book

After you’ve received and reviewed your book, it’s time to make it available to the world. You can approve your book on the site and also enter your distribution details: price of the book, distribution outlets, etc. Be sure to also go back to myidentifiers.com and update any information you left out earlier.

Note: For pricing, CreateSpace will tell you the minimum you can sell the book for. Anything over that minimum is how much you make on the book. The price varies from book-to-book based on size, number of pages, color or black & white interior, etc.

Step 10: Fill Out Your Amazon Author Information

Once you approve your proof it’ll take 5-7 business days for it to show up in Amazon. Once it’s there, you’ll want to make sure you fill out your Amazon Author information so people can learn more about who you are (and you can add your blog, twitter, etc).

BONUS: Publish to Kindle

If you also want to publish to Kindle, CreateSpace now has a conversion tool that will get you started. Whether you use that or create a new document yourself, you’ll manage the Kindle version of the book at kdp.amazon.com. More tips on this process in a future blog post.

There you have it, the 10 Basic Steps for Self-Publishing a Book. Got questions? Leave ’em in the comments.

I recently shared a post about how to move a tumblr blog to a new owner. Unfortunately that only works for secondary blogs. It may be the case that either on your current account, or possibly a new one created specifically for your blog, you want your secondary blog to actually be your primary blog.

Sadly, this isn’t possible from tumblr’s perspective (nor does it seem like they’ll be changing it any time soon). However, you can “trick” the system into treating your secondary blog as your primary blog.

Note: This process renders your current primary blog pretty much useless. This is a workaround to get as close to the functionality as possible. Make a backup before you start and proceed at your own risk.

I recommend transferring your secondary blog to a new account before you begin.

How to Make a Secondary Tumblr Blog a Primary Tumblr Blog

  1. Log into your tumblr account and go to your current Primary blog.
  2. Click on Customize theme, then Edit HTML.
  3. Right after where it says <head> put the following code, where “http://inserttumblrurl.tumblr.com/” is the address of the Secondary blog that you want to be the Primary blog.
    [html]<script type=”text/javascript”>
    window.location.href = “http://inserttumblrurl.tumblr.com”
    </script>[/html]
  4. Click Update Preview, then Appearance, then Save, then Close.
  5. Your old Primary blog will now always redirect to your Secondary blog. That means whenever you follow someone or ask a question, they’ll be directed to your Secondary blog if they click on your name.
  6. Optional: You may want to change the URL of your old Primary blog to something similar to your Secondary blog so that the name that appears when following people seems related to your blog. The easiest solution is adding a hyphen (‘-‘) in the name.

Sources:

While I’m mostly a WordPress guy, I have helped some friends set up sites on Tumblr.

Unfortunately, when I first started, I knew very little about tumblr before starting and as a result created the comedy blog as part of my personal account, thinking I could just move it later. Well with tumblr, moving a blog isn’t all that easy to do (and if you ask tumblr support, they’ll tell you it’s not possible at all).

But, there is a way to “move” a secondary tumblr blog. Here’s how:

How to move a tumblr blog to a new owner.

  1. Create a NEW tumblr account (you have to use a new email address).
  2. Log out of the NEW tumblr account.
  3. Log into the OLD tumblr account and select the blog you want to transfer from the Dashboard menu.
  4. On the right hand side, click where it says Members.
  5. Add the NEW tumblr account as a member by inviting it using the new email address.
  6. Log out of the OLD tumblr account.
  7. Check your new email address inbox for an invitation from tumblr to join the OLD blog. Click join and log into the NEW tumblr account.
  8. Log out of the NEW tumblr account.
  9. Log into the OLD tumblr account. Go back to the Members page for the blog you want to move and change the NEW account to be an admin.
  10. Log into the NEW tumblr account and confirm you can post, change settings, etc. You’ve now transferred the blog to your NEW tumblr account.
  11. Optional: From the OLD account, you can choose to leave the blog now if you’d like, your posts will still remain on the blog.
Note: This only works for secondary blogs (not primary ones). Check out another recent post if you want to make a secondary tumblr blog a primary blog.

Sources

In the current economic climate, it seems that just about everyone is trying to find ways to save money and prepare for the challenging months ahead.  I recently challenged myself to live on only $100 for an entire week to see if I could and what I would learn.

I didn’t realize that the project would be so tough, rewarding, and powerful.  Throughout the course of 7 days, I experienced a myriad of emotions, and learned a lot about myself and my spending.  The best part is that I’m sure you would experience the same powerful effects I did.  Being poor for one week can give you amazing insights on how to save money every week that follows, more than passively reading articles such as 15 Tips for Saving Money or even Reviewing Your Personal Finances.  This provides real lessons taught the best way possible – through experience.

Moreso than any of my other projects, I highly encourage everyone to give it a try. Maybe $100 isn’t the right number for you, but based on your current financial habits, try spending 75% less than your normal weekly budget.  A quick tip: take notes throughout that week, because you’re going to learn a lot.

Still not sure if it’s worth trying? Or wondering what you could learn by doing the challenge? Keep reading to see what you’ll learn about saving money by being poor for a week.

Sensitivity to True Cost

When you have a very limited budget, you start to look at everything you spend money on in terms of “true cost” – the cost of the item or service compared to it’s value, and what you’re giving up in order to have it.  I especially thought about this in terms of food. When deciding between a $3 box of cereal or $5 pack of chicken nuggets, you have think of the actual “cost per meal” (the total cost of all ingredients divided by the number of meals it supplies). The box of cereal requires milk (+$2.39), but will also give you 6-8 light meals. The chicken nuggets will likely fill you up more and don’t necessarily require any sides, but will only get you 2-3 meals.

Why It Helps – Learning about true cost first hand will help you make better purchasing decisions in the future.  It’s foolish to spend $100 on something you’ll use only once.  It’s smart to spend $100 on something you’ll use 100 times or more.

Your Image Is Expensive

Living cheaply means choosing functionality over design or style. Though my leather laptop bag is more in style, my backpack can carry more stuff and has the added advantage of being better for my back. Similarly, it’s hard to justify the added cost when two things have equal functionality, but the more stylish one is more expensive- as is the case with wearing glasses versus contacts.

Your image can also take a hit if you go from a position of affluence to one of financial struggles. Keeping up the façade of having money is tough to do and at times not worth the cost. If you work in the corporate world, it may be important to keep a professional appearance. This means remaining clean-shaven, keeping your clothes pressed, and wearing more expensive dress pants instead of shorts. But living cheaply also means swallowing your pride and declining on Starbucks, even if you’re co-workers are going.

Why It Helps – Many fashion items have the highest true cost associated with them, and are often the least functional.  By thinking about the practicality of an item before purchasing it, you can realize if it’s worth the investment and hassle of even owning the item.

Variety Isn’t Cheap

Variety is the spice of life, but not of living cheaply. One of the things I noticed on my limited budget was that I quickly grew tired of having turkey sandwiches and carrots for lunch. But buying items in bulk is cheaper and drives down true cost. It’s hard to justify spending more money on different options for lunch when you know there’s very little money to go around.

Why It Helps – It’s the simple things that really make a difference.  Until you experience eating Ramen noodles every day, or doing the same activity daily, you won’t appreciate how the smallest changes can make a day more enjoyable.

Hard Times Inspire Creativity

As the days progressed and my budget shrank further, I found more creative ways to save money and still be happy.  Whether it’s new ways to cook chicken, or how you can have fun with just a pen and paper, your mind starts to see everyday things in a new way.

Why It Helps – There’s a common belief that you have to have money to have fun and be happy.  Once you accept your financial limitations and start thinking positively, you find ways to still have fun by experiencing the free (or at least cheaper) things in life.

Barebones Living

It turns out that one of the best ways to declutter your life also applies to saving money.  When you want to get rid of the crap of your life, one method is to put almost all of your belongings in a specified place in your home, such as a closet.  Then, as you truly need an item, you retrieve it from the closet.  After a certain amount of time (a couple of weeks), anything you didn’t get out of the closet that isn’t seasonal, you can  safely get rid of.

Well the same method applies to your finances. I realized that I didn’t really miss dining out that much, but that I couldn’t survive even a day without Internet access.  To cut my expenses, I know that I should focus on cooking at home more, not stopping my Internet service.

Why It Helps – If you cut down all of your spending (dining out, subsciption services, alcohol), you’ll learn what you really need, what you really like, and what you were mostly wasting money on.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

When you don’t have the money to buy new crap, you start finding uses for your old crap.  With a limited budget, I couldn’t afford to go to the movies.  But that didn’t really matter, because I had plenty of DVDs that I’ve either never watched, haven’t seen in a long time, or didn’t watch the special features for.  Also there are plenty of secondary uses for many items – plastic bags can carry your lunch or serve as garbage bags, junk mail can serve as scratch paper, and baking soda can be used for about 800 things (ok, maybe 60).

Why It Helps – Using that new-found creativity from a restricted budget, you can start seeing how items can be re-used before you even buy them, helping you choose the items with the lowest true costs.

Money Triggers

While trying to stick to my budget, I started to see where I would normally want to spend my money. Once you’re hyper-sensitive to where you’re money is going, you learn what triggers you to spend money in the first place.  Some common triggers include dating (you are, after all, trying to impress the person), friends, alcohol, poor planning (if you have a busy day and forget to pack multiple meals, you either starve or have to dine out), and laziness.

Why It Helps – The only way you’re going to prevent spending money is to know what causes you to spend it in the first place.  By identify the triggers, you can take steps to correct them, such as learning how to relax and have fun without alcohol, or waking up earlier so you have more time to prepare for your day.

Money Isn’t Everything (In Fact, It’s Hardly Anything)

I’ll admit, at the beginning of the week, I was not happy.  I made it a point to fully immerse myself in the experience and really believe that $100 was the absolute max I could spend during that week and for weeks to come.  As a result, as I made sacrifices and tough choices, I becamed depressed and pitied my situation.  But as the week progressed, as I learned ways to cope with my budget and accepted my situation, I realized feeling sorry for myself didn’t do anything to help put food on the table; it just demotived me.  I accepted my circumstances and decided to build from there- it was an example of “yes and” in real life.

Why It Helps – The cliche is that money can’t buy happiness, and you’ll start to realize that’s true.  There’s a reason that even the richest of people end up depressed- material things aren’t the answer.  Living a week without money helps you realize that, and decreases the importance of money in your life.  Sure you’ll still work to make dough, but you won’t put an unwarranted significance on it.

You Can Survive

The ultimate realization you’ll have at the end of the week is that you can survive.  Regardless of what happens, you can make it through it and come out in the end.  I know that I can live on only $100 a week, and even less if I had to.  I hope to never be in that position as I’ve worked hard to earn where I am now, but if something were to knock me down financially, I’d be able to get back up.

Why It Helps – Having the confidence to know you can take a licking and keep on ticking is powerful.  It emboldens you to make stronger choices and bigger risks.  At the same time, it helps you appreciate the important things in life.  No one lays on their deathbed wishing they had more money; they wish for more time with their friends and family, experiencing life.

A Poor Week Leads to a Richer Life

I can promise you, if you go through this experience, you’ll come out feeling richer at the end.  Not only will you actually be richer (you did, in fact, spend 75% less than you normally would), but you’ll also know how you can personally save some more money, and start appreciating the more important things.  Have you tried the challenge?  Post about it in the comments.

Why Optimize a Personal Blog?

There are a number of different sites and services that offer ways to build a website; there are hundreds of ebooks available describing the best “online marketing” strategies; there are thousands of techniques that are supposedly guaranteed to get you traffic and generate sales.  That’s all fine and dandy, but what if you just want to create a personal blog?  A blog where you aren’t concerned with selling a product, or even creating sales pages for other people’s products?

This is the current state of my website, drewtarvin.com.  I’m not trying to sell a product or generate sales for someone else- I’m just sharing my ideas, writing articles to improve my writing skills and sharing what I’ve learned, and providing a place to find out more information about some of the other stuff I do (like stand-up).  That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t love to optimize my site.  I love seeing new visitors come to the site, I like seeing what search terms people are clicking in Google to get here (recently someone searched for “heterokini” … why?).  In short, I want to increase the traffic to my site.  Maybe it’s narcissistic to think that what I write is worthy of being shared with family, friends, and strangers alike, but if I didn’t believe that, why even write publicly?

A Little Background

With that being said, I am creating a few other sites with the intention of generating income.  As a result, I’ve done a lot of research on ways to organically drive search engine traffic simply by making some simple changes.  What follows below is the steps I took during last week’s project – “Optimize My Blog.”  Many of the steps come from a couple of different online marketing guides.  While the guides themselves are great resources in and of themselves, they are all focused on making money.  The steps below are specific just to optimizing your blog, and they leave out anything related to generating sales or affiliates or more involved promotional techniques.

Note: Most of the steps are links to external resources that explain in greater detail how to do what I describe.

How to Optimize Your Personal WordPress Blog

1) Set Up Your WordPress Blog

NOTES:

2) Tweak the Navigation

NOTES:

  • Where John Cow mentions “Non-money” and “Money” pages, think in terms of “Non unique content” and “content” pages respectively.
  • Hold off on creating the robots.txt file (Part 3) for right now.
  • When linking to pages within your site, remember to “anchor” your links: http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/2004/04/08/anchor-text-optimization

3) Create your Sitemap.xml file

NOTES:

  • Don’t turn on “Ping” yet.

4) Create your Robots.txt file

 

NOTES:

  • In addition to the example provided on the site, add a sitemap.xml link in your robots.txt file.
  • To create the file, just open a Notepad, copy the code from the site, save as “robots.txt” and upload to the root directory of your website.

5) Submit your Sitemap.xml and Robots.txt files

NOTES:

  • To do this, create an account http://www.google.com/webmasters/.
  • Follow the guides in Webmasters to see guides on how to submit each file.
  • Make sure you “verify” the site.

6) Test Your Site

NOTES:

7) Set Up Feedburner and All-in-One SEO

NOTES:

  • Fill out the All-in-One SEO information for the posts you want to drive more traffic to.
  • You can skip the steps related to Aweber (Steps 7-20).
  • You can sign up for feedburner at http://www.feedburner.com.
  • Once you have everything setup, make sure you add “http://ping.feedburner.com” under Update Services in “Settings -> Writing” in your WordPress blog.

What To Do Next

Once you’ve made the above changes, you’re well on your way to improving your blog for increased traffic.  The next step is to make sure you have good content and take a look at optimizing your actual articles for different keywords.  To learn more about promoting your site, or if you are interested in monetizing your site, I’ve listed the resources I’ve been using below.

A note of warning about “online marketing” sites in general.  Many sites out there will offer a free video or article talking about the next great way to make money online.  All of these sites will require an email address which they then use to try to sell you stuff through.  While you can learn a good deal for free from many of the sites, there’s a lot of garbage and spam-like email you’ll have to go through.  The links below are some of the best sites I’ve found that also don’t drown you in trying to sell you products.

  • How to Build a Business, NOT Just a Blog” – An entire ebook about optimizing your blog.  The full version of all of the John Cow articles I linked to above- definitely worth looking at for promotion strategies and if you are interested in monetizing your site.
  • The 30 Day Challenge – A “challenge” held every August to try to create a website that you earn at least $1 from within 30 days.  You can check out the site any time of year and get access to the resources from the last 30 day challenge.
  • Connected Internet – Various blog posts about how to optimize or improve your blog.