Archive for the ‘Pro Blogger’ Category

PostHeaderIcon How to Make Everybody Happy

A Guest post by Stanford from Pushing Social. Image by superbomba.

happy.png

Your blog is like the popular kid at school.

It needs to look great, be funny, smart, and remember everybody’s name. It’s a tough job.

But the hardest part of the job is keeping everyone happy.

You are probably figuring out that your readers are not all cut from the same cloth. Although they may share a common interest, each has his or her own reason for visiting your blog. Some are casual readers, while others are hardcore fanatics that devour every word.

It’s easy to believe that every reader will be satisfied with your 300-700-word post. Not so. In fact, your standard post may only satisfy a fraction of your readers and leave the rest wondering, “Where’s the beef?”

If you want your blog to grow, get passed around, and inspire an engaged community, you’ll need to write content that makes everyone happy.

Wait, you can’t make everybody happy … right?

I know that blog readers — myself included — can be a fickle crowd. There’s a handful of blogs that I read daily and I have impossible standards. They need to write exactly the type of posts I like, publish them regularly, and never, ever, disappoint me. I’m a tyrant and so are your blog’s readers.

The problem is that you can’t write multiple types of posts every day to satisfy every reader.

But can you make all of your readers happy?

Crowd -> community -> core

Yes you can … by being smart about the content you produce and where you place that content.

It’s useful to think about your audience as overlapping circles of readers. At the center are the core readers. A little further out is your community of regular readers. Furthest out is the crowd, who occasionally visit. All together, these folks form the ecosystem for your blog.

Every day, people read your content and naturally settle into one of these circles. Your goal is to move the crowd to the core.

Let’s take a look at each group and some techniques for keeping them happy.

The core

These folks are dedicated to you. They visit your blog every day and are the first to comment, retweet, and mention your posts. You may even know these fans by name. Core readers are the first to sign up for email courses, pre-order products, and join your affiliate program.

Your goal as a “tribal leader” is to find and connect with your core as quickly as possible.

Core readers are disproportionately influential. Don’t be fooled by their small followings — their enthusiasm is infectious and they can rally a crowd through sheer persistence.

How to make core readers happy

Core readers hunger for more than your usual posts. They want to dive deeper into each of your posts and are starving for more detail. These folks have devoured your archive post and relate to you on a visceral level. You need to kick it up a notch to keep them satisfied. Here’s how to do it:

  • Go deep: Use email courses, private forums, and ebooks to give the core a deep dive into your content. My own Spectacular Posts email course is designed to give my core readers new information that I haven’t covered in a post. I don’t hold anything back because my core reader has an insatiable appetite for more information. So does yours.
  • Keep your eye on them: Create a list of your core readers in Twitter and bookmark their Facebook pages. Friend them, follow them, and regularly visit their blogs. Make sure they know that you are cheerleading for them.

The Community

Community readers are regular visitors to your blog. They are infrequent commenters but frequent retweeters. The community makes up the bulk of your blog’s traffic. They appreciate a consistent message and hate surprises.

How to make the community happy

  • Be reliable: Your community wants a steady supply of information that serves their needs. They share your goals and interests and want to hear more from you. Consistent posting encourages them to visit your blog often. Over time, you earn their trust and convince them that you have a resource worth sharing.
  • Use “edutainment”: Community readers plow through a lot of blogs every week. Dry, me-too posts are easily drowned out. To raise above the clutter, you need to combine entertaining and interesting viewpoints with your topic. These mashups can combine Lady Gaga and Blogging Tips or Ant Swarm Behavior and Project Management. This is guaranteed way to stand out in the RSS reader, and catch the eye of super-influencers too.
  • Be relevant: Community readers have a low tolerance for loosy-goosy, feel-good content that isn’t practical. They were attracted to your blog because you helped them solve a problem. They keep coming back because you are interesting and have a viewpoint that fits them like a glove. Don’t disappoint them. Keep an editorial calendar that continually delivers on-point content.

The Crowd

Outside of the community lies the crowd. Crowd readers are usually referred by another source. They are not regular readers and may only spend a few seconds on your blog. Your topic is likely to be complementary to the crowd reader’s main interest, but not a tight fit.

It’s tempting to dismiss the crowd since they aren’t your bread-and-butter readers. But smart bloggers work to satisfy the crowd because they bring fresh perspectives to the community. Your goal should be to turn the occasional crowd reader into a regular community or core reader.

How to make the crowd happy

  • Guest post: As you know, I’m a huge fan of guest posting as a way to reach readers that lurk outside your community. Guest posts allow other more influential blogger to vouch for you, giving you enough credibility to attract a larger audience. It’s not a mistake that many up-and-coming bloggers spend a large chunk of time guest posting to reach the crowd.
  • Build outposts: Outposts are social networking sites where you maintain a profile and special content. Youtube, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are popular outposts that represent online watercoolers for millions of users. Pick one outpost to start with, and invest some time to build a presence there. Link your outpost to your blog and regularly post content there. Over time, your outpost will get on the crowd’s radar screen and start escorting new readers to your blog.
  • Be a peacock Don’t be shy. Every once in a while, write a post that grabs attention. Your post can be provocative, epic, or piggy-back on a popular topic in the news. These “peacock posts” get noticed by influencers and passed along to their network. Even though it’s hard to tell if your post will be a barn burner, you can increase your chances by regularly writing them!

What do you think?

Can you make all of your readers happy? Which technique will you try first?

Stanford obsesses about how to get passionate people’s blogs noticed and promoted at Pushing Socialexcept when he’s fishing with his boys. Follow him to get the latest about his new ebook “Get Noticed.”

Post from: ProBlogger Blog Tips

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PostHeaderIcon Blogosphere Trends + Humour

This column is written by Kimberly Turner from Regator (a great tool that gathers and organizes the world’s best blog posts). – Darren

Once again, we’re taking a look at the stories bloggers have been writing about the most during the last seven days (list provided by Regator). This week, we’ll be using posts about those hot stories to look at one of the toughest forms of writing: humour. It’s difficult because senses of humour vary so much. What you find hilarious, might barely elicit a smirk from me or vice versa. Plus, there’s the added challenge of determining when it’s appropriate to take the amusing route and when a serious approach is best. It’s a challenge, but adding a bit of LOL keeps readers engaged and, in many cases, encourages more sharing. Fortunately, despite the challenges, there are a few tried and true tips to upping the funny factor on your blog. Let’s see how some bloggers have covered this week’s hot topics with humor…

1.  Christine O’Donnell
Example:
Huffington Post’s “The War on Lust Must Be Won
Tip:
They say sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, but sometimes they are wrong. Sarcasm can be an effective form of humour, as shown in this example. It can often come across as sour grapes, so proceed with caution.

2.  Lady Gaga
Example:
Cracked.com’s “Why It’s Time to Stop Paying Attention to Lady Gaga
Tip:
Sarcasm—humour at someone else’s expense—can be funny, but adding a touch of self-deprecating humour can make it doubly so. In this example, the author writes, “I showed up to the office with shoes that didn’t match. For 11 straight days. One of them was a flip flop and the other was a woman’s hat. I know nothing about fashion, is my point, which is why I’m uniquely qualified to talk about Lady Gaga’s wardrobe choices, because she doesn’t either.” By making fun of yourself, you seem less bitter and judgmental and more…well, funny.

3.  American Idol
Example:
ROFL Razzi’s “ROFLash: Steven Tyler is Probs the New ‘American Idol’ Judge”
Tip:
Some words are intrinsically funny. “Moolah,” used here is a funnier word than “money.” Onomatopoeic amusing words, like “splat” are often amusing. Other words are funnier than their counterparts for reasons that aren’t immediately apparent (but you’ll know them when you see them). For example, what’s funnier, “underpants” or “underwear”? “Spooks” or “phantoms”? “Canoodling” or “hugging”? There’s a theory that words that start with plosive consonants such as b, p, t, d, or k are intrinsically funnier. I’m not convinced this has been confirmed by science, but it seems plausible. Either way, use the funniest words you can find.

4.  Pope Benedict XVI
Example:
Friendly Atheist’s “Dear Benny…
Tip:
The inappropriate can be hilarious. There’s a reason stand-up comics often write jokes about things that make people a bit uncomfortable, such as the Catholic sexual abuse cases. If you’re not inclined to be overly politically correct, approaching an inappropriate or sensitive topic with a healthy dose of humour can be very effective, as shown in this musical example.

5.  Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert
Example:
Indecision Blog’s “Here Are the “Rally to Restore Sanity” and “March to Keep Fear Alive” Hastags You Ordered
Tip:
A conversational, informal tone that connects with readers directly is almost always funnier than formal language. This example addresses the readers directly, saying, “Oh my God, America, you were so annoying! Can’t you talk about anything else?!”

6. Katy Perry
Example:
Ministry of Gossip’s “In the Katy Perry ‘Sesame Street’ scandal, is Elmo the real villain?
Tip:
The unexpected is funny. While everyone else was analyzing Katy Perry’s culpability in the scandalous Katy/Elmo video, this example focused on Elmo. “That Elmo character was totally naked.” Outrageous! … And hilarious.

7.  Joaquin Phoenix
Example:
Cracked.com’s “Will Joaquin Phoenix Become The Craziest Celebrity Ever?
Tip:
Find creative alternatives to standard approaches. In this example, Cracked puts its own spin on the omnipresent five-star rating system and determines that Phoenix was (at the time this was written, which was before it came out that the whole insanity thing was a ruse) “officially as crazy as…” three Tom Cruises, six Octomoms, half a Charles Manson, and four point eight barrels of flaming monkey poo. Taking a standard cliché and giving it a unique spin is often funny or, at the very least, interesting.

8.  Blockbuster
Example:
The Onion’s “Struggling Blockbuster Eliminates Rental Fees
Tip:
Pick a joke and stick with it. This faux news example focuses on the ridiculous lengths the failing video rental chain will go through to draw customers. The joke is the same throughout, but is exaggerated to a greater and greater extent until, toward the end of the piece, fake Blockbuster says, “as a special introductory offer, cancel your membership with Netflix anytime in the next three months and we’ll do literally anything you ask of us.” The exaggeration paired with the commitment to the single joke throughout really works here.

9.  OK Go
Example:
The Awesomer’s “OK Go vs. The Muppets
Tip:
If you don’t laugh, don’t expect others to laugh. Before you use a video in your post, like the one in this example, or hit publish on a comical (or supposedly comical) post, watch the video or read the post aloud. Sure, your sense of humour is unique, but you shouldn’t expect others to laugh if you don’t even find it funny. The humour in this video relies heavily on good comedic timing—and Muppets. Muppets almost always help.

10. The Social Network
Example:
Funny or Die’s “How Did We Spend The Facebook Outage?”
Tip:
Actual behaviours and situations are often funnier than anything you can make up. You don’t always need to be overly clever. Next time you’re in an absurd situation, make a note of it. Remember that details often make a story, so be specific. You may be able to incorporate those humourous observations into a post somewhere down the line.

If you use humour on your blog, please share your tips in the comments. I’d love to hear from you. On a side note, the weekly trends will be changing to monthly trends after this post. I’ve had an amazing time connecting with ProBlogger readers and writing this column every week, but busy days are ahead so Darren has been kind enough to let me switch to the less frequent posting schedule to accommodate. Talk to you again soon!

Kimberly Turner is a cofounder of Regator.com and Regator for iPhone as well as an award-winning print journalist. You can find her on Twitter @kimber_regator.

This Post is from: ProBlogger Blog Tips.

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PostHeaderIcon How to Deeply Connect with Your Readers

This week we published a moving story on ProBlogger from Naomi Dunford from IttyBiz.

When Naomi sent me the post a few days before we published it I immediately knew that it was going to be one that would do well and it was. 100+ comments within 4 hours of publishing – and not just any comments – they were comments that were heart felt (I’ve never seen so many readers admitting being moved to tears by a post), in depth and engaging.

Read them for yourself – the comments section is as compelling as the post itself.

These posts don’t happen every day and I feel honored to have witness it first hand here on ProBlogger and wanted to take a moment or two to reflect on what I saw.

So what was it about the post that connected with readers so deeply?

Here’s a few reflections on why I had a hunch it would hit the mark (feel free to add your own):

It was a Story – almost every ’story’ post that I’ve published here on ProBlogger has connected with readers. Read more on Why stories are so effective on blogs.

It was Relevant – right from the opening line (‘I’ve sat where you sit.’) Naomi strove to connect the situation that the readers of ProBlogger are in with her story. She showed an awareness of one of the needs of readers and the empathetic way she told her story showed an understanding that just connected with people.

It was Relatable – one of the things that I felt reading the post myself was that parts of it reminded me of my own story. The comments section shows I’m not alone – many of those who read it seemed to just find it comforting to know someone else had experienced the things Naomi shared. It’s powerful to know that you’re not alone.

It was Honest – this story is raw and honest. She shared an experience from one of the hardest times of her life in a way that many of those leaving comments admired and related to.

It was Inspirational – the story was honest about the tough times but also about the good ones. Naomi shared some of what hanging in there through the tough times brought her to – personal success but also being able to do some inspirational things for the world. She gave those reading the story hope for their own situation which many needed to hear as they face their own tough times.

As a result of that above we see a comments section that is filled with honest, engaging, raw and heartfelt stories.

Some felt compelled to comment for the first time, others were moved to tears, and others felt moved to share some of their own stories.

The post ‘connected’.

Why do you think it was so powerful?

This Post is from: ProBlogger Blog Tips.

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How to Deeply Connect with Your Readers

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PostHeaderIcon Please Welcome Georgina – ProBlogger’s New Content Manager

georgina.jpgI’m really excited today to announce that I’ve just hired Georgina Laidlaw to help with content development and strategy here at ProBlogger. Her official title is Content Manager.

The backstory

Over the last year, I’ve become increasingly aware that I need to begin to expand my team to cope with the load of running my business.

ProBlogger itself can be a handful to run at times, but add into the mix my biggest blog — Digital Photography School — and other projects (TwiTIp, ProBlogger.com, Third Tribe, a Book), plus the other bits and pieces that I do, and I’m increasingly finding myself up against it to get everything done to the level of quality that I wanted.

As a result I’ve begun to look at making a couple of strategic hires to enable me to increase the quality of what I do and also to free up some time for other projects that are coming.

I’d already moved some way down the path of hiring people to help carry the load previously (although I haven’t really written much about it):

  • Lara Kulpa will be familiar to some of you as she’s helped with some of the admin tasks here on ProBlogger (comment moderation and other admin), and has managed the ProBlogger.com forums and edited Twitip.
  • I also have Simon Pollock (my brother-in-law) managing the community at dPS.

Both are part-time and work remotely (Lara’s in the US and Simon in the UK).

Why a hire a Content Manager?

As mentioned in yesterday’s video, content is of primary importance to me and it’s something that I obsess over. It has been central in whatever success I’ve had, and I see it as extremely important going forward.

For the first four years of ProBlogger’s existence, I wrote almost every post. The only times I really handed over posting to others was when I took vacations. However, in time I began to accept guest posts and have even hired semi-regular writers.

I did this partly to lighten the load a little (to allow me to focus upon other aspects of the business), but also because I found that by including the voices, views, skills and experiences of others, the site became more useful to more people. I can take one approach to blogging and have certain skills, but I lack other areas of expertise.

As a result of this increased featuring of others on ProBlogger, a number of things happened:

  1. I started getting more submissions for guest posts. When you feature one guest, post you can open a floodgate for others to approach you about writing. There have been weeks when I’ve fielded 20-30 guest post submissions (and I usually only feature two or three).
  2. I found myself working more on editing than writing. This shift has happened on all of my blogs. While having others write for you takes a load off your writing work,  it means you spend more time editing their work, talking to authors about topics, liaising with authors about post formatting, and so on.

All in all, I’ve increasingly felt sidetracked by these tasks. They’ve taken me away from my own writing, but also from more strategic tasks (such as developing a more thought-through editorial calendar, building my community, and developing other projects).

Managing writers is important, but editing and managing writers isn’t my strength and it has become increasingly apparent that it would be logical to get some help in this area.

Hiring Georgina

Georgina Laidlaw has come recommended to me from a number of people that I respect. She’s worked for some great sites such as Melbourne’s SitePoint (who I’m increasingly working with) and WebWorkerDaily.

As part of the process of this hire, Georgina has also written a number of posts here on ProBlogger. Her work received a lot of positive feedback and it demonstrated to me that she “gets” what I’m on about here, and has the ability to connect with the ProBlogger audience. She’s also fast, efficient, and just in the process of sorting out this position has given me some great ideas.

Georgina is also local to me. While I’ve worked with remote workers before there’s something that appeals to me about hiring someone local. Georgina and I won’t spend a lot of time in person, but having the ability to get together and knowing she’s in my timezone will be great.

What does a Content Manager do?

To be honest we’ve ummmed and aaahed about the title Content Manager quite a bit. I’m not sure it is completely accurate, but for now, it’ll do.

Georgina will be taking on a number of rolls here at ProBlogger including overseeing, editing and managing writers (guest posters and regular writers), writing some posts of her own, editing my posts (I know that will please some of my more spelling-obsessed readers), and working on some other projects (for example ebooks, newsletters, and others).

One of the goals that we also have with this new position is to widen the topics that we write about. There are some categories and topics that haven’t been touched on a lot lately here on ProBlogger. Having Georgina on the team will enable us reengage with some of those topics. This will also mean a slight increase in the number of posts each week (don’t worry we’re not going to go over the top).

What about Darren?

A number of people on Twitter yesterday asked me whether this means I won’t be blogging as much on ProBlogger. The answer to that is I’ll still be here as normal. This is my blog and you’ll continue to get regular posts from me.

You might see a slight increase in posts by others, but I intend to maintain my own posting levels (currently around four or five posts a week).

All in all I’m really excited about this development and hope you’ll join me in welcoming Georgina into the ProBlogger family.

This Post is from: ProBlogger Blog Tips.

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PostHeaderIcon The Power of Not Giving Up – One Blogger’s Story

A guest post by Naomi Dunford from IttyBiz who emailed last week to remind me (Darren) that today is ProBlogger’s 6th Birthday and asked if she could write a birthday post. Here it is!.

I’ve sat where you sit.

I’ve devoured the articles and the blog posts and the link roundups. I’ve agonized over whether I could afford that video camera or that conference or that membership program. I’ve felt like a fool for even hoping this blogging thing could ever work.

I’ve sat right there and I know how scary it is.

Maybe I should introduce myself. My name is Naomi Dunford, and I was just like you.

I was desperate, scared and pregnant. My doctor had put me on bed-rest. I had to leave work because I was fainting all the time. Even before he was born, we knew our baby boy would have health problems.

We had intermittent web access because I could only intermittently afford to pay the bill. My husband was making very little money in a job working nights and it was going nowhere. Things did not look good.

Then I found Problogger.

I read all the archives. (All the archives.) Read some Copyblogger. Read some Chris Brogan. Slept. Drank a lot of tea. Had some panic attacks and spent a lot of time thinking about how cool it would be to be a problogger one day.

You’re waiting for the bit where I say it got better, right? Where I say I dove right in and created a blog and hustled my way to fame and fortune? Sadly, no.

I did nothing. Nothing. For a year.

I had my son. Went back to my job. Left work in the middle of my shift on my fourth day back. Went down to one (sub-poverty line) income. Flirted with the idea of starting a business. Got one half-hearted client. Put our son to bed by myself. Ate a lot of rice.

But I kept reading Problogger.

One day, Darren mentioned he needed businesses to sponsor his third birthday giveaway. Sitting there, nursing my son in the middle of the night, I had a crazy idea. I could be a sponsor. I had no idea what I was going to give, but the deadline of Problogger’s birthday was enough to get me going and get my blog launched.

I decided to give some marketing coaching. I had to fill out a form to say who I was and what I was offering, and I wrote that IttyBiz was the “offshoot blog of IttyBitty Marketing”. IttyBitty Marketing? Please. We’d had the sum total of one client and to this day, they haven’t paid me. But I had to put something in there. I sent it off, and then all I could do was wait.

(The actual story of how I went from not even having a domain name to launching my site on a Technorati Top 100 blog in four days is pretty uninteresting, although there are some juicy behind the scenes highlights and an adorable picture of Xavier here.)

I launched the blog. I wanted to email the people who commented to enter the contest and invite them to IttyBiz, but I didn’t have their email addresses. (I ended up clicking on all their links and personally emailing them via their contact pages, a process that took two full days. We worked straight through the night.) I did the same with the other sponsors.

I got some readers. Not a lot, but some. I got a little bit of traffic. A few other bloggers said some nice things about what I wrote. My goal was to get a thousand subscribers before Christmas. I didn’t make it.

But I kept reading Problogger.

Let’s flash forward three years.

My blog now employs six people. We have over 20,000 readers. We’ve helped more than 1000 people quit their job. As an affiliate, we sold enough copies of Teaching Sells to fund a school in Cambodia.

My husband quit his job. We’re unschooling our son. We moved to England for a while. We bought a little house. We finally got a car. We went to Cuba and Ireland and SXSW and Blogworld a few times. I threw a party in Austin and Darren came.

We’ve had ups and downs. I got pregnant again and lost the baby. Burned out. Missed some deadlines. Had a few site crashes. Got hacked a couple times. Did some stuff I’m not proud of. Did some stuff I’m very proud of.

And we’re home. My husband kisses my little boy goodnight seven days a week.

But here’s the really crazy part.

Nothing special happened.

I didn’t just happen to get a column in the New York Times. Nobody invited me to be on Oprah. I didn’t conveniently score a book deal. Despite my repeated attempts, I’m still not married to Brian Clark. I didn’t do anything special. The gods did not smile on me.

I just kept reading Problogger.

The point of all of this?

Please don’t give up. I know it’s terrifying. I know you are under indescribable pressure to do something serious with your life and grow up and forget your crazy blogging dreams. I know that some days, this is the hardest thing you’ve ever done.

I know your family thinks you’re crazy. I know you feel completely alone. I know you feel like it’s never, ever going to work.

But what you’re reading here? It works. I promise. Please don’t lose heart.

Happy birthday, Problogger. And thank you, Darren. I am blessed to have you as my mentor and honoured to have you as my friend.

Naomi Dunford writes at IttyBiz.

This Post is from: ProBlogger Blog Tips.

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PostHeaderIcon The 5 C’s of Blogging (What I’ve Learned Over 6 Years at ProBlogger)

6 years ago today I imported a series of posts that I’d written about blogging on my previous blog over to the ProBlogger.net domain – ProBlogger was born. I look back on that time and while I was almost making a full time living from blogging there was so much about the medium that I didn’t yet know. I still feel I have a lot to learn but thought I’d take a few minutes out today to reflect on some of the lessons I’ve learned about blogging.

I’ve identified 5 things that I’d concentrate (I only started this video with 3 but by the end had 5) on if I were starting out again today. They all begin with ‘C’.

Thanks to everyone for making ProBlogger what it is today – 6 years on from that first day!

Notes

Transcription of – The Five C’s of Blogging: Reflections on 8 Years of Blogging

I’ve had this video transcribed below for those who prefer to get it that way. The transcription provided by The Transcription People.

Today as you, as this video goes up on ProBlogger, it’s the six year birthday of ProBlogger. Naomi Dunford emailed me last week to remind me of the birthday. I think she started blogging on my third birthday, so she remembers it every year. She reminded me of it and offered to put a guest post up on that day, a birthday post which will go up later today.

I wanted to take a few moments out today to reflect upon the six years of ProBlogger and the almost eight years that I’ve been blogging. I started in 2002, and I wanted to reflect on some of the lessons that I’ve learned and particularly how I’d go about it if I was starting out again today.

Whilst what I’m going to share today isn’t really rocket science, I think it’s good to be reminded of these things, whether we’re new bloggers or older bloggers because whilst we often know this stuff, we don’t actually always do it – and I find myself in that category as well.

If I was to start out again today, there’d be three or four different things that I would be focusing upon.

1. Content

The first one is content. Now, that’s a bit of a no-brainer in many ways. Of course you’d be focusing upon content as a blogger, a blogs not a blog really without some kind of content whether that be video or text or audio or images.

But really, your blog’s success hangs upon what you put up on to it.

As I’ve said many times on ProBloggers over the years, if it’s not enhancing someone’s life in some way, the chances are, they’re not going to come back again. That enhancement of their lives, solving problems, meeting needs in some way could be a big thing. It could be helping them to be a better Dad or a Mum, or helping them to learn something that will help their career.

It could be big things like that, or it could be small things. Giving them a chuckle, giving them a laugh. Helping them to know that they’re not the only person with a problem. Giving them a sense of community, a place for them to connect with other people. These are problems that you can be solving with your content. Your content needs to be useful in some way. And really I guess a lot of what I would be doing if I was starting out again today, is identifying the problems that people have, needs that they have and trying to work out how I can develop content that is meeting those needs on a daily basis. Just putting content on a blog that doesn’t really mean anything, that doesn’t actually help someone in some way, it’s kind of empty, and as a result, most blogs that do that don’t really reach the heights that they could.

2. Community

The second thing that I’d be putting a lot of time into and I guess I did this particularly in the early days of my first blogs was community.

Helping people who come across your blog to feel like they’re being noticed, feel like they’re being heard, and giving them opportunities to meet other readers of your blog. It’s just such a vitally important thing.

People don’t go online just to consume content any more. They’re actually going online to belong and we’re seeing this with the rise of Facebook and Twitter and social media. The popularity for many years now of forums and chat, and all this web stuff that we’re seeing, it’s all about community, it’s all about belonging.

This is what attracted me to blogs in the first place, is that one, they would give me a voice, but two, they would enable me to connect with real people who shared my passions and interests in life. And yeah, so I guess, starting out again today and even tomorrow as I continue with my blogging, community is something that really I think needs to be a priority for us.

Taking notice of your readers, valuing your readers opinion, including that in some way. Valuing that in a public way on your blog is really important.

3. Connection

The third thing I guess I’d focus on, and this is something I didn’t really focus on that much for the first few years on my own blogging, was, is, I call it, to keep the “C” theme running, the content community, I call it connection, and giving people connecting points for you.

It’s perhaps not the best word for it, but if we want to keep the “C’s” rolling, then that’s what we’ll go with. Really it’s about capturing people’s email addresses, a place where you can continue to have that connection with them, it’s about getting them to subscribe to your blog in some way, it’s about connecting with them on Twitter or Facebook, wherever it might be that’s relevant for your niche.

This is so important. I look back on those early days on my first blogs where I didn’t focus on this, and I think of all the tens and hundreds of thousands of readers that came through my blogs that I didn’t actually offer them a way of an ongoing relationship.

For many years, I was just satisfied that people were reading it, and that’s a great thing, but what if I could get those people back again? Those hundreds of thousands of people who kind of just slipped through my fingers over the years and that didn’t connect in some deeper way. Now many of them did, they went out of their way to find ways of connecting with me, and I’m grateful for that.

It was only in the last few years that I began to offer people newsletters or connection points on Twitter and Facebook and that type of thing. So, whatever it might be for your niche that’s a relevant way of communicating with them and connecting with them, go out of your way to find ways of connecting with them. Don’t rely on other people going out of their way to connect with you.

4. Cash

The fourth thing I’d say is, again, keeping with the “C” word is cash, is money, is it monetising. Now this isn’t a goal for every blogger, but for me, as someone after a year or two decided that I wanted this to be my way of making a living, I began to have to think of ways about monetising my blogs and really, it’s about sustainability.

If you’re able to sustain your blogging in some other way and don’t need to make money out of it, then that’s fine. But for many of us, we want our blogs to at least break even, we want to be able to pay for the costs of the blog. We want to be able to, you know, pay for a nice new design or the hosting and that type of thing. And for many of us we actually want to make a living out of that as well.

In this regard I’d say, experiment with different ways of monetising your blogs. Many of us start out with AdSense or an ad network or Amazon’s affiliate program, and these are great starting points, but don’t just be satisfied with, you know, doing it in one way. Actually be constantly on the lookout for new ways of monetising, and be on the lookout for ways that you can directly monetise, and you don’t have to rely necessarily upon an ad network, or some other third party to help you monetise your blog.

Be thinking all along of, ‘could I write an eBook? Could I run a course? Could I have a membership site? Could I sell myself as a Consultant? Could I write a book?’ These types of things that you can more directly monetise your site also.

5. Contribute

And I guess the last thing I’d say, and it’s not really a “C” thing at all, and it really comes down, it really incorporates all these different things is, actually do something that’s worthwhile. I come across bloggers from time to time who create blogs that kind of are, they’re just about making money and they’re not actually about contributing anything to the world that we live in. And whilst I kind of understand that on some levels, you know, we all need to make a living, I kind of went through a phase where I did that myself. I had blogs that were just creating noise, and, in the hope of, you know, getting a few readers from search engines and making a few dollars on the side. And I actually found that to be a really empty process.

Creating blogs that are just sort of spammy, adding random content on to the web may actually make you a few dollars, but make it your ultimate goal to contribute.

If we’re going to use a “C” word, perhaps it’s contribute. Do something that makes a difference in this world.

It strikes me increasingly as I do my own blogging that people are coming to read my stuff every day and I’m helping through my content, but perhaps there are ways I can contribute and make the world a better place as I’m also doing that in different ways. I, early next year I’m going to Tanzania with a charity to actually look at one of their projects and to capture the story of that in video and image and to share it on my blogs. And whilst that’s not really on topic in some ways, I kind of feel like as bloggers we have a responsibility to use the voices that we’ve been given and to use the profile that we have and the credibility that perhaps we have and to actually use it for good in some ways. And I think that’s a responsibility for us as bloggers, and I’d love to see us as bloggers really take this more seriously. And for me that’s something that I want to do over the next few years in particular.

So, there are my five “C’s”, content, community, connection, points of connection, cash and contributing something of value to the world and the blogosphere. They’re some of the, I guess, the lessons that I’ve learned. The things that I am wanting to inspire, re-inspire myself to continue to build on as I go forward in to the next six or so years of ProBlogger. And I’d love to hear some of your feedback in comments below.

Hope this has been of some value to you as you continue your own blogging.

This Post is from: ProBlogger Blog Tips.

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The 5 C’s of Blogging (What I’ve Learned Over 6 Years at ProBlogger)

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PostHeaderIcon How to Romance Your Readers Like a 5 Star Restaurant

A guest post by Kelly Estes – coauthor of Online Business Elements. Image by Storm Crypt.

romance.pngIf you’re trying to impress a date, nothing does it like a romantic multi-course meal. In the blogosphere, you’re not trying to romance anyone, but you are out to impress — and snare — prospective readers.

Intrigue, Don’t Bore

So impress; don’t bore them. Think of it like serving up a multi-course meal. Don’t freak out~just like you don’t eat that type of meal all at once, you serve up the most fabulous food by planning out a menu, making your grocery list and scheduling the cooking. You work behind the scenes like a fiend, perhaps sweating a bit in the kitchen. And then you present a scrumptious, mouth-watering meal to guests, making it look easy.

Serve Up A Memorable Experience

The reason customers return to a four-star restaurant is not just the quality of the food. It is the attention to detail. It is the personal greeting when you arrive. It is the escort to your table with a beautiful view. The pulling out of a chair so that you can easily sit….you feel the personal attention taking your experience up a notch. With a flourish, the maitre’d places a napkin on your lap. The waiter arrives and gives a polite introduction, inquiring what you would like to drink, acting as if you and your date are the most important customers in the restaurant. Meanwhile, the background music plays on, unobtrusive and elegant.

These actions add up to a beautiful experience. When someone visits your blog, you want them to have and remember a great experience.

Maybe you’re not going for an elegant impression. Perhaps you’re aiming to titillate and showcase your wide writing range and expertise, or to combine hilarity and blog tips. These are bloggers who leave a lasting, good impression on their readers, and have sticky blogs.

How do successful bloggers do it?

1. Whet the appetite with a perfect appetizer.

Set the stage with a creative and professional banner that showcases your brand. It’s the first thing a potential reader sees, and if it looks like an amateur did it, your readers might just click away.

If you go into a restaurant, and the ambiance is that of fine dining, complete with mood lighting, your expectations are set high. When the waiter starts describing the delicious, fresh buffalo mozzarella on heirloom tomatoes with basil chiffonade, drizzled with Italian balsamic vinegar, it ‘fits’ with the branding you’ve experienced to that point. You’re looking forward to eating what the chef whips up.

Just as some restaurants use candlelight with tablecloths and china (not Chinet), creating the right ambiance for a nice dinner, so too should you think about the first impression you give a reader with your banner. Does it reflect your brand well, and is it professional looking?

2. Stand out with a Salad

Hold the not quite ripe tomatoes, and stay your hand on the tasteless bagged carrots. Get out the awesome stuff that is really good.

The headline to your post should not be boring (duh). It should be creative and offer help or information your readers need. Here’s one headline that caught my eye on Yahoo….”Checking Out of the Grocery Store Faster, and With More of Your Paycheck In Hand.

Now that’s definitely a hot headline. Do I want to check out of the grocery store faster? Yes. Do I want to leave the grocery store for less money out of my pocket? Heck yeah! So I click to find out how to accomplish that goal. Voila. The headline did its job.

Remember, the headline that people see on Twitter, Facebook, or Google can determine whether they click on that link to read it. So entice them. Get click savvy. You can get your potential readers to ‘order’ your blog post.

3. Serve a memorable soup, not thin gruel.

What I mean is, make sure your opening paragraph isn’t dry as sawdust. Keep your reader’s interest by being unique, and engaging them with a targeted question. If you’re writing about dieting or nutrition, you could open with ‘Why do some nutritionists advise eating five small meals a day to lose weight? Does this work for you?”

Sometimes, adding just a few choice ingredients makes all the difference between so-so tomato bisque, and the most awesome, creamy, and delightfully different tomato bisque ever. There’s the tomato condensed canned soup made with milk, and then there’s the French chef’s secret recipe to knocking your socks off tomato bisque. If I’m going to order tomato bisque at a restaurant, I don’t want the ordinary. I want the extraordinary.

When people arrive at your blog and read your first paragraph, they’re going to decide whether to keep reading or not. Make sure they keep reading because you’re serving up the knock your socks off tomato bisque topped with crème fraiche.

4. Provide Entrees that Satisfy.

Would you rather have a perfectly grilled steak, baked potato and salad, or a microwave meal? They both fill you up, but one satisfies the senses more than the other.

It’s the creative analogies and cool stories to inform and entertain that people remember, and come back for more. There are so many ways to make boneless, skinless chicken breast into a meal, but there are a ton of ways to prepare and serve it.

Enlighten readers with your unique perspective on your topic of choice, impress them with how much your blog helps them (it’s your content strategy) and you’ll gain their gratitude and readership.

5. Dessert: Sweet Success

As your traffic grows (through your sweat equity online), and you’re getting to know more bloggers through networking, you’ll start to feel like you’re making progress.

Tasting the sweetness of success as a blogger only comes after a lot of hard work and long hours. In the beginning, you might feel like you’re only getting a lick out of the cookie dough bowl.

The first steps on the road to success are paved with small victories. Gaining loyal readers. Racking up Twitter followers and Facebook fans. Guest posting on a bigger blog in your niche. Before you know it, you’re further and further along toward achieving success.

You’ve planned your ‘menu,’ served up successful ‘meals’ (blog posts), and are continuing to network with readers and bloggers alike.

Cyberspace is interesting, though. Even meeting someone online doesn’t quite measure up to the real thing.  Face to face networking still rules.

Why bother networking offline, like at a convention such as the upcoming BlogWorld Expo? Consider what your goals are as a blogger.

Are you going to be able to achieve a huge level of success without meeting and talking with other bloggers in the ‘real’ world? Will you be able to enjoy a decadent helping of success, like a Hawaiian chocolate Kona soufflé, or will you keep sampling the cookie dough as you celebrate little victories?

As you consider your game plan and your goals, map out how you will taste the sweetness of success. Of course, getting there will be its own reward.

Kelly Estes is a food blogger and former print journalist who blogs at Hot Cookin‘ ~ She is also a co-author of Online Business Elements.

This Post is from: ProBlogger Blog Tips.

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How to Romance Your Readers Like a 5 Star Restaurant

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PostHeaderIcon Trouble Choosing a Niche? Start a Personal Blog

“I’m having trouble deciding what topic to blog about.”

This was a statement I heard three times at the ProBlogger meet up in Brisbane a couple of weeks ago and is a problem that many PreBloggers face.

I’ve written numerous times about how to choose a niche or topic to write about but it struck me while talking to the Brisbane folk asking the question that the biggest factor in helping me to narrow in on my own niches was having a personal blog.

When I started blogging in 2002 I had no intention of doing it professionally. Instead I, like almost every other blogger at the time, started a blog (pictured below – no longer active) which was quite personal in nature. In many ways it was an extension of my brain and was simply a place to talk publicly about what I was thinking about, learning and experiencing in life.

personal blog

As a result I wrote about many topics including spirituality, culture, photography, starting a church, movies, holidays, family, emerging forms of media and blogging.

It was a bizarre mix of topics and I know that some of my readers struggled to make sense of my somewhat eclectic interests – but as I look at the three blogs that I currently operate today I see the roots of them all in that first personal blog.

I blogged on that first blog for a year and a half before starting any other blogs and before I even began to think about making money from this medium but while that particular blog didn’t make much money (I played a little with AdSense on it but it never really worked) it was probably my most important blog in shaping what I now do.

Why was that personal blog such an important place for me?

A few thoughts come to mind as I look at how important that first personal blog was.

1. A personal blog can be a testing bed for ideas and niches

In many ways that first blog became a testing bed and launch pad for new blogs. ProBlogger is a great example of this. After a couple of years of blogging I began to start other blogs and experiment with making money from blogging. As I did so I also began to journal some of the lessons I was learning about blogging on my personal blog. I started a blog tips category and got to a point where I had 50 or so posts in it.

These posts were quite popular and in time I realised that my blog tips were resonating with and helping more and more people – to the point where they perhaps justified starting a blog on that topic. This led me to registered ProBlogger.net and start this very blog.

The great thing about launching ProBlogger this way was that I’d already worked out that there was an audience for the topic, I already knew that I enjoyed writing about the topic and I already had 50 or so posts that I could transfer over to the new domain.

In many ways when I started ProBlogger I was able to leapfrog over some of those startup headaches that many bloggers face because I’d already tested the idea on my personal blog.

2. A personal blog gives you a place to find your voice

Over the years I blogged on my first blog I experimented with many ways of blogging. Not only did I chop and change that topics I covered – I also wrote in different styles and voices and was quite playful and experimental in working out what types of posts connected most with readers.

3. A personal blog helps you understand blogging

The other great thing about that first blog for me was that it gave me a taste of the technology and culture of blogging. I was very overwhelmed by the technical aspects of blogging in those early days and quite intimidated about putting my ideas on the web. I was also confused about how to find readers and interact with them.

Starting a blog is the best way to learn about blogging – until you experience the process of publishing a post and having people read and interact with it you’re not really a blogger.

The great thing about learning all of this on a personal blog is that people’s expectations may not be quite as high as if you launch a ‘professional’ blog.

Are Personal blogs for everyone?

I’m not convinced that everyone should have a personal blog to help them launch their new blogs. For me it was helpful but some bloggers are much more ready to launch into niche focused blogs without going through that process.

However if you’re convinced that you want a blog but don’t know what topic to focus in on then a personal blog might be a step forward to help you find your voice, identify topics and to learn the ropes of blogging itself.

This Post is from: ProBlogger Blog Tips.

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Trouble Choosing a Niche? Start a Personal Blog

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PostHeaderIcon Join Me at Facebook Success Summit 2010

One of the excellent upcoming conferences that I’m speaking at is the Facebook Success Summit 2010. It’s run by Mike Stelzner of Social Media Examiner. I’ve been involved in Mike’s summits before and they are packed with information.

This conference is a live online conference (so there are no travel costs) that is packed with amazing speakers. All sessions are recorded so you don’t have to be on live calls to participate but can listen to those you miss later.

All up there are 22 experts sharing what they know about how to use Facebook to build their businesses. Speakers include:

  • Brian Solis
  • Mari Smith
  • Michael Stelzner
  • Justin Smith
  • Others from Intel, Xbox and Cisco

Topics are varied and cover everything from the ‘why’ of getting a business on Facebook through to many aspects of how to best do it effectively.

My own session (which I’ll be running with Mike Stelzner) is titled ‘Building Community with Facebook and Blogs’ and the description of the session is:

Are you looking to build a loyal community on Facebook? If so, look no further. In this session, Darren Rowse (founder of Problogger.net) and Michael Stelzner (founder of SocialMediaExaminer.com) reveal how Facebook has enabled them to build a loyal following of tens of thousands of Facebook fans who engage and promote their content and ideas. You’ll learn about the apps, widgets, and blog enhancements they use to keep their readers engaged.

The price for Facebook Success Summit goes up by $200 later this week (on the 22nd) so if you’re thinking of attending make sure you get in at the early bird rate today.

This Post is from: ProBlogger Blog Tips.

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Join Me at Facebook Success Summit 2010

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PostHeaderIcon Creating a Blog In a Niche You Know Nothing About

A guest post by Adam from Things To Learn.

I’ve been blogging for over two years now and I will be the first to admit that I haven’t been the best blogger in the world. Far from it. There were several stretches where I didn’t blog regularly or I wrote posts that just didn’t cut the mustard.

The blog that I was maintaining was in the ever crowded personal finance (PF) niche. Frankly, I know a lot about financial planning (I have a master’s in it) and I thought that I would thoroughly enjoy writing about it. Man was I wrong. If you ask any expert in the field, they will tell you that everything PF has already been written. In order to separate yourself from the hundreds of PF blogs out there, you have to put your own spin on the topics or just talk about your personal experiences. Well, I wasn’t that great at putting a spin on the topics and my wife and I don’t really live a fascinating financial life.

So, I slowly continued the blog. I stuck to it for about 2 years and decided that I just wasn’t having fun with it. I still enjoyed writing, but I was just burnt out writing about personal finance. I knew it was time for a change but I just didn’t know what. I don’t really have any hobbies and everything else just seemed so saturated already.

Blogging On Something You Don’t Know

As I was enjoying a nice walk around Washington DC with my wife, something caught my eye. None of the buildings were tall. I wondered what the deal was and figured that plenty of other people may have thought the same thing. I did some quick research at home and found out that there is some crazy law that doesn’t allow the buildings to be tall in the city. Weird.

After I learned about the topic, I had other random questions/things pop into my head and they just kept coming. An endless supply of blog posts! I wrote them down on a piece of paper with the title “Things To Learn”. I knew right then and there that I needed to create a blog on the topic. I was going from writing about things that I knew inside and out to something that I had no clue about. Why would I do that?

Why Should You Blog In a Niche You Know Nothing About

You Have An Almost Endless Supply of Blog Posts

Many great bloggers started writing about things that they wanted to know more about. For example, J.D. from Get Rich Slowly started his site when he was $35,000 in debt. Obviously, personal finance wasn’t his strong point at the time but he started the blog to learn more about the subject and it has now grown to one of the most popular blogs on the web. Heck, even Darren started this blog because he wanted to learn more about making money on the web.

Personally, I have been thinking about my new blog for weeks now. To date, I have approximately 100 “things to learn” in my WordPress drafts. You know what, the ideas keep coming too. Whether I am reading a book or having a conversation with a stranger, the thoughts keep flowing. You can do that with any niche too. Especially if you are constantly trying to learn more about it.

It Never Gets Old

Most new bloggers fizzle out after a few months because they feel like no one is listening. Hey, it happened to me a few months after I started. But, I stuck with it and my blog has made a few bucks here and there.

Believe it or not, I don’t really care if my new site has readers. I mean, there is a small part of me that likes the interaction but I am doing it more for me. I want to learn and blogging about things I am interested in gives me pleasure. The place that I want to get my interaction is from other sites like this one. I am saving some of my better posts for other blogs and I will be interacting with the readers here.

I think that by blogging in niche you know nothing about, it will be difficult run out of things to write. I mean, I bet it may get a little old after a while. If I had to guess, I would say that many of the bloggers that have been around for a long time will tell you that it’s starting to get old. I imagine the thought of quitting has crossed their mind. Even though they started out knowing nothing about the niche, now they do and it would get old. However, they are now probloggers and are making good money. How many small bloggers that burnt out posting about what they know can say that?

* * * * *

How many of you started blogging in a niche you know nothing about? Have you seen the same results that I mentioned? What other positives can you see with blogging in a niche you know nothing about?

Adam spends his time finding out what the closest city to the north pole is or what the largest country is. He enjoys learning new things every day and sharing them with those who are willing to listen.

This Post is from: ProBlogger Blog Tips.

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Creating a Blog In a Niche You Know Nothing About

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