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New Years Reflections (with a little announcement at the bottom)

It’s now New Years Eve here in Australia so I thought it appropriate for a few reflections on the year gone by here at ProBlogger and a brief look forward at 2006 (with a few hints at what’s in store for me).

2005 was a year that went beyond many of the expectations that I had for it on many levels. I remember writing some goals for the year back in January and feeling the potential that lay ahead for us – but what I wrote was nothing in comparison to what actually came to be.

On a personal level the year included many highlights including a wonderful trip through parts of Europe, buying our first home, growing our church community from 1 to 3 groups and marrying 8 couples.

In terms of business and blogging things were just as massive. Many of the highlights (and a few low lights) have focussed around ProBlogger which has become the blog that I own which I’m most proud of (and addicted to).

Statistics:
In terms of performance it’s been a great year. Here are a few stats that I’ve just found as part of my annual review:

Unique Visitors (over last 15 months) – 670,000+
Page Views (over last 15 months) – 1,540,000+
Total Posts – 1814 with around 1500 written this year (although there will be a few more by the time this goes live)
Comments – 14263 (and counting)
Lattes Drunk – 730 (estimate for 2005)

Achievements:
There’s also been a lot of kind recognition from around the blogosphere with many kind links from bloggers (too many to mention) and even a few award nominations. Following are some of the current rankings of ProBlogger on a variety of Blog Services and Tools:

Feedster Top 500 Blogs – 129th
Blog Pulse – consistently in top 100 (69th today)
Technorati – hovering just outside their top 100 (today at 102)
Pub Sub – regularly in their top 1%
Alexa – ranked 7327th (3 month average) or 4305th today
Truth Laid Bear – ranked 242 for traffic and 663 in ecosystem

Statistics, awards and rankings are not what blogging is about though and are secondary to the two things that I’m most proud of at ProBlogger. Firstly I’m proud of the community and shared learning that goes on here. I’m constantly being told by readers that they appreciate the discussion that happens in comments. I’ve toyed for months with the idea of forums to enhance this but to this point have left it happen in comments (perhaps if there were two of me forums would eventuate). Thanks to each person who has contributed to the increased knowledge bank of ProBlogger by leaving a comment or submitting a link or tip.

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Ten Tips for writing a blog post

The following post on tips for writing a blog was submitted by Lyndon from Flockblog who in his email to me with it described it as a simple ‘back to basics’ kind of post. Thanks Lyndon.

Get more Blog tips from our Blog Tips for Beginners series.

Here are ten tips that help me with my blog writing.

  1. Make your opinion known
  2. Link like crazy
  3. Write less
  4. 250 Words is enough
  5. Make Headlines snappy
  6. Write with passion
  7. Include Bullet point lists
  8. Edit your post
  9. Make your posts easy to scan
  10. Be consistent with your style
  11. Litter the post with keywords

1. Make your opinion known
People like blogs, they like blogs because they are written by people and not corporations. People want to know what people think, crazy as it sounds they want to know what you think. Tell them exactly what you think using the least amount of words possible.
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Three simple actions that doubled my website traffic in 30 days

The following post on how to increase website traffic was submitted by Adrian W Kingsley-Hughes.

Get more tips on increasing website and blog traffic by subscribing to our RSS Feed.

I started the PC Doctor blog in May of 2005 and for the first few months my traffic was really low – down in the few hundreds of visitors a day. It was pretty depressing I can tell you and there were times when I thought about quitting.  I knew that the site was in the Google ‘sandbox’ and so I either had to keep on plugging at it until it was out or I had to give up.

Fortunately, I decided to keep on posting but in the interim I decided that I was also going to do my utmost to drive traffic to my site manually until Google kicked in. I took a look around at what some of the successful blogs were doing and came up with three tactics that helped to double my website traffic in a month.

  1. First, I made the most of Technorati tags.  I tagged every key word in each of my posts. Initially I did this manually but them I discovered a WordPress plugin called SimpleTags that made the job a whole lot easier. I found that by tagging my post effectively they were getting a lot more attention then their untagged counterparts, and as an added advantage I was getting focused, quality traffic to the site!
  2. I leveraged my existing website.  I’ve been running my business website for a few years and that was getting modest levels of traffic that was relevant to my blog – so why not try to drive some of that to my new blog! I placed a few FeedBurner headline animator blocks on some of my most popular pages and after a day or so I noticed a significant increase in traffic for 5 minutes worth of work on my part.
  3. Finally, I made effective use of trackback links to popular sites. If I commented on a post on another site I would make sure that I set up the appropriate trackback for it. The results from this are varied depending on the site and post that you are linking to but since I liked to comment and interact with the wider blogosphere anyway, it was free traffic!

Using these three simple techniques, I took The PC Doctor blog from a few hundred hits a day into the thousands in less than 30 days. This kept my interest in the site until it came out of the Google sandbox and I started to receiver some serious traffic. However, I’m convinced that these actions I took at the early stages have helped me create a loyal and targeted readership that continues to benefit my blog today.

Further Reading: If finding new traffic for your blog is what you’re interested in – check out 31 Days to Build a Better Blog – a month long set of exercises to help you develop content but also build a well read blog.

Preventing Blog Burnout

The following post has been submitted by Dan Zarrella from TomKatCrazy! (one of the new celeb blogs over at b5media).

We’ve all heard the normal tips about establishing a regular posting frequency and finding a tight niche to focus on, but as we start posting to more and more blogs it becomes important to prevent blogging burnout when posting to 5 blogs a day. The best way to do this is to plan for sustainability.

When picking a topic or niche most general wisdom indicates that you should focus as tightly as possible to really cover the subject well, but it is easy to select a micro-niche that won’t provide much material and will leave you hovering over the keyboard or scouring your feeds trying to figure out what to post. This was something I thought about when planning my TomKatCrazy blog, but it soon became obvious that between the baby, the wedding and all the gossip I would have plenty to write about. On another blog of mine, GuerillaScience, I started out with a more general anti-authoritarian focus which proved to be too wide of a topic for me to cover comprehensibly without dedicating all of my time to it. I tried narrowing it down to only Boston-specific anarchist news but this was way to tight of a niche and I found I had nothing to post most days. I’m in the process of finding a nice balance between locally relevant stuff and a more wide range of news. [Read more...]

Seven Offline Tips for Increasing Blog Traffic

This post was submitted by Ted Demopoulos, co-author of Blogging for Business, Demopoulos Associates.

Most bloggers concentrate on online methods for building their blog traffic. There are also a number of effective offline methods worth exploring for increasing the number of readers.

Suggested offline methods can range from simple and practical, like mentioning your blog on your business card, to outrageous and impractical for most, such as hiring a skywriter or advertising on the side of a blimp. I’ll admit it — I’ve always wanted my own blimp!

Here are some simple and practical methods that my clients and I have had success with. Some are bound to be applicable and simple to implement for you.

1. Business Cards

Most business cards list the organization’s Web site. Listing your business blog on your business card as well is very respectable. Listing your blog on your business card can help it stand out instead of being filed with all the others — never to be seen again, and can start conversations with clients and prospects. When exchanging business cards, many people report questions such as ‘what do you blog on?’ and ‘how long have you been blogging?’ and others.

I’ll admit I don’t mention either Blogging for Business or The Ted Rap on my business card. Why? I seem to have a multi-year supply of “old” cards. If I were starting again however, I probably would print new cards and I obviously will eventually. I think I would have built readership for The Ted Rap faster if it had been displayed on my business card.
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First Steps for New Bloggers

My name is Adams Briscoe and I specialize in stringing together nouns and verbs to build somewhat coherent ideas in the form of readable content. I run a personal blog over at Virtuashack.com and also managed to trick Weblogs Inc. into letting me get away with posting on some of their video game sites.

As a typical male, I had a hard time picking up on hints as to what I should give others for Christmas this season. One of the harder individuals was my father, who became increasingly curious as to what this whole “blogging” thing was all about. After tuning him into several sites of his interests (like ProBlogger), he made the proclamation that he would like to start one himself, and (surprise!) make money.

Certainly not a new concept, and definitely not worth reinventing the wheel this time around (again). The catch-22 is that he had absolutely no background in website maintenance or blogging. The most experience on a computer he ever had was sending e-mail.

How do you get someone like that into the blogosphere? Moreover, how do you make it worthwhile and bring in traffic? Okay, sure you’ve got to find a niche. But as a newbie, he had no idea what works and doesn’t work for blogging. All the do-it-yourself posts in the world only do so much for you when you don’t even know how to start.

So what did I do? I bought him a domain and set him up with his own high-powered blog for Christmas. Using WordPress (fast, easy, and complete with wiki documentation), I told him to cut loose and write whatever tickled his fancy. I also dropped a few hints about gaining a few eyeballs here and there.
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7 Things to Do with your Blog when you take a Vacation

Get more tips like this in your email by subscribing to the free ProBlogger Newsletter at the top of our sidebar

What should I Do with my Blog when I go take a Vacation?

This is a question I ask myself in the lead up to every break and one that I seem to answer differently each time. I thought it a relevant topic to write about as I’m currently on holidays (or at least will be by the time you read this).

Here’s a few of the approaches I’ve taken over the last few years:

1. Give your Blog and Readers a Vacation

This is probably the most common approach that bloggers take – they simply stop blogging for the time they are away and resume on their return.

Advantages
- it’s low maintenance in the lead up to and during your time away.

Disadvantages
- your blog stops and you risk losing momentum
- you might end up with a lot of catching up when you return in terms of any news that breaks while you’re away
- traffic will probably fall due to lack of RSS updates

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Finding Photos for Your Blog

My name is Allan Barizo and I write for The Information Bank and the freeware review.

A picture may be worth a thousand words but nobody wants to pay a thousand dollars for rights to use it in their blog. Why pay money to put someone’s photos in an article? We’ve read from Arieanna Foley and Darren about the importance of incorporating pictures in blogs.

  1. Readers speed-read; images grab their attention
  2. Pictures illustrate points
  3. Photos make blogs look aesthetically pleasing (when used correctly)
  4. Images convey credibility


So, where to find cheap photography to illustrate articles? How about FREE stock photography? Enter the Stock.XCHNG. And no, I’m not talking about Wall Street.

The Stock.XHNG is a site for amateur photographers and visitors to share and comment on each otherís stock photography. Everything listed is pre-filtered by the owners of the website for inappropriate, low-resolution, or low-quality images. All of the pictures are gratis. Though free, some need permission from the original photographer in order to use them. I usually frequent the Stock.XCHNG for my web design projects. But, they can be used for anything, including blog posts.

So, visit the Stock.XHNG and include pictures with your articles. Remember, even though a picture is worth a thousand words, it does not have to cost a penny!

How to Get Your Blog to 100,000 Visitors and Beyond

This post has been submitted by ‘FMF’ from Free Money Finance. It’s actually the first post in a series he’s going to start on FMF in the coming week by the same title.

How to Get Your Blog to 100,000 Visitors and Beyond – Step 1: Pick the Right Topic

I’ve had a lot of requests to detail how I got 100,000 visitors (now past 150k as I write this) to Free Money Finance. While the topic is not clearly in the subject area of personal finances, it can be part of how you increase your income (and thus improve your net worth), so I’ll cover it. Plus, this will serve to help out other bloggers as well as remind me of what else I need to do to grow this blog. If this isn’t your cup of tea, simply ignore these posts. I post frequently enough that a new, money-related post is not far behind this one.

I’ll over this topic in a series of “steps”, each one presenting a simple, unique step I took to get to 100,000 visitors. I’ll also try to keep the steps in the order I did them, though several happened simultaneously, so that won’t be easy.

That said, here we go.

Step 1 to getting to 100,000 visitors and beyond: Pick the right topic.

This might seem to be a simple step (and maybe even counter blogging — can’t I just blog about what I want?), but it’s critical. To me, the right topic is one that:

You’re passionate about — If you’re not passionate about it, you won’t post regularly, you’ll lose interest, and your readers will be able to tell your heart isn’t really in it (and they’ll go away). If you are, your readers will identify with you and get to “love” your personality. And they’ll come back. And tell their friends to stop by.

You’re knowledgeable about — You don’t have to be an expert on the topic, but you need to know more than most people to get a lot of people to your site. Otherwise, why would they stop by (or come back)?

Is it popular — Let’s face it, if you want to write about the exercise habits of your hamster, not many people are likely to visit your blog. You have to have a topic that many, many people want to read about if you want to get to 100k. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t write about your hamster (or anything else a large group wouldn’t want to read about). If you blog for your own pleasure, then go for it — make Hammy a star. But if you want to get to 100,000 visitors, you need a topic (like personal finances) that many people what to know more about.

Watch out for the rest of FMF’s series later in the week at Free Money Finance.