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How to Write Home Run Posts

HomerunThe following guest post was submitted by John Wesley who blogs at PicktheBrain.com (feed) about motivation, productivity, and self improvement.

The Importance of Home Run Posts

Most of you are probably familiar with the Pareto Principal, also known as the 80/20 rule. The rule states that 80% of results come from 20% of causes. In blogging this rule is even more extreme (probably 95/5) because of social media. A great post that goes viral, makes the front page of Digg, and is picked up by a top blogger, will easily receive 20 times more traffic, back links, and RSS subscribers than a post that’s merely very good.

Home run posts grow your blog rapidly so it’s important to do everything you can to take a post from good to great. This goes against the popular opinion that short frequent posts are the best strategy. This might work well for blogs that already have a sizable readership, but if you’re just starting out you’ll need to do more to make an impact. This means providing significant value.

What Makes a Home Run Post?

Home run posts come in all shapes and sizes but they tend to share a few important qualities.
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Blog Mentoring Program Launches

I’m really excited to see Yaro Starak finally launch his Blog Mastermind Mentoring Program in the last few days.

I’ve been chatting to Yaro about this program for at least a year now and cannot believe the amount of work he’s put into developing it. He’s done so much research, written so much content, recorded so many interviews and has really honed it all into a program that I believe will help many bloggers striving to make a living from blogging.

Click here to get The Blog Profits BlueprintYou can get a taste for Yaro’s style from his free Blog Profits Blueprint which I’ve previously linked to – but the full mentoring program will give you a lot more – including regular e-lessons via email, a 10 part audio series, access to a members only forum, blog case studies (audio and video), extreme makeover advice on your blog, interviews with Yaro as well as some bonus interviews with Pro Bloggers (including one Yaro did with me).

The cost – $47 per month (but only for 7 days until it goes up). While this might seem like a significant amount of money – my theory is that it’s an investment in learning the tools of how to make a living from blogging. Yaro offers a 100% Money Back Guarantee – if you’re not happy you get your money back. I trust Yaro to do this (I know where he lives).

Having looked over what’s on offer for the $47 I’d recommend checking it out also. Take a look around and see what you get and if you don’t start learning from it you can cancel your next month’s membership at any point.

The thing I love about Yaro’s style is that he’s actually built a blogging income from blogs that don’t consume him. Yaro does work hard at his blogging – but he keeps perspective and balance also both in the style of blogging that he does but also the work/life balance thing (he even has time to exercise, have friends and travel – I’m so jealous).

The Blog Mastermind Mentoring is a program that I’d recommend for beginner to intermediate level bloggers. It goes over the basics for those just starting out but explores some of the more advanced techniques.

This won’t be for everyone – but if you’re serious about making money from blogging it’ll be one resource to check out. Learn more about it here.

Blogging Tips: First Impressions Count

The following is a guest post by and an excerpt from her popular book, Blogging Tips, Tips Bloggers Won’t Tell You About Blogging.

There are several “first impressions” your blog makes as it struggles to attract and hold on to readers. Few of those first impressions come directly from your blog’s design and layout.

Search Engine Results: The first impression most people get of your blog is found within search engine results. They see a post title, blog title, and content excerpts around the keywords of their search terms.

Blog Feed Aggregator: An aggregator is a blog or website which displays titles or post excerpts from various blogs. Aggregators usually list your blog title, post title, and first 100-300 words of your post.

Feed Reader: A feed delivered to a feed reader displays the content as text, with few images, and none of your blog’s design. Depending upon how the feed reader is set, it showcases the blog title, post title, first 100-400 words of your post or the full post content, if the blog owner has set the feeds to full. Typically, the post title and first 100-400 words are the first impression.
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Goals to Achieve in a Blog’s Launch Phase

Brian has put together a Blueprint for a Brilliant Blog Launch which I think will be helpful for bloggers in startup mode.

Brian’s 3 step process of starting a new blog is pretty simple:

  1. Cornerstone – before launching writing some ‘cornerstone’ content that will be a great foundation for your blog. This means that when you launch your blog will have something solid for readers to read when they come and visit instead of just seeing a blog with a handful of flakey posts.
  2. Networking – becoming networked within your niche is important if you want to grow your readership via other blogs and sites in it. This means connecting with other bloggers, building relationships with them and becoming a part of the niche.
  3. Attraction – doing something to get attention will accelerate your blog’s growth. I’d suggest doing a number of things over a number of weeks. Like Brian says it could include writing a free report, writing some link-bait content etc

The launch phase of a new blog is one where you need to perform a balancing act between a variety of tasks and attempting to achieve a variety of goals simultaneously.

To put it slightly differently to Brian – here are some of the goals I attempt to achieve in the early days of a blog:

1. Establish Credibility/Expertise

In the early days of your blog you need to prove yourself as someone worth reading in some way. There is a variety of ways you can achieve this including:

  • tell your story - tell your readers how you have grown in your topic, highlight your achievements and share what you’ve learnt (here’s an example of a post in which I told my ProBlogging story) – read more on using stories on your blog.
  • showing your success – if there’s some way to prove yourself as an expert (here’s an example of a time I did this).
  • cornerstone content - perhaps the best way to establish credibility is simply to provide content that is solid and helpful to reader. Write a series of posts that shows your knowledge and ability to help people and you’ll find people start to look to you as an authority on your topic.

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7 Reflections on Scaling a Blog to a Sustainable Business

Wendy has written a heart felt post on her blog titled The Things That Get You Successful Won’t Necessarily Keep You That Way which is basically about the realization that her current blogging business model is not really scalable. Some of the areas she’s seeing this in:

  • I cannot respond to the 30-50+ comments left every day anymore, which both saddens me and also decreases participation in the conversation on both sides
  • I spend every Monday digging through 200-300 (or 400+!) emails from the previous week
  • Writing for three blogs is very time consuming – and coming up with 3x more fresh ideas is at best a stretch and at worst downright stressful
  • I have advertisers willing to pay for more impressions – but in my current business model, I do not have the time or resources to create more content

Wendy then shot me an email asking for any thoughts that I had. Here’s a few that come to mind as I read her post:

1. Building a Sustainable Business Out of Blogging is Hard

The realizations that Wendy is having now are ones that most bloggers come to at one point or another. While they are not easy questions to tackle – they are important ones to grapple with and the results of having done so will make any Blogger stronger (if they don’t lead them to give up – as often happens).

The hard reality is that for the majority of blogs – scaling them to a point where they’re able to sustain their authors is not easy. Some blogs are easier than others due to their topic (ie some topics have a direct commercial tie in in terms of selling advertising) but for most bloggers it’s bloody hard work.

2. It takes time

Another obvious thing (that still needs to be said) is that building a blog to a point where it’s able to earn an income from it takes significant time. Getting established in search engines, building an RSS subscriber or email newsletter list, getting active members and building up enough archives to generate significant long tail traffic all takes time.

Part of my advice to Wendy is simply ‘hang in there’.

Her blog has come a long way in the last 12 months – and the next 12 months will see it continue to steadily (if not exponentially) grow. I generally find that the second year of a blog’s life sees it grow faster and to greater heights than the first year.

3. Focus Upon Indirect Income Earners

One of the things that I think Wendy will find is that the key to monetizing her blog will not necessarily be through direct income via advertising or affiliate programs. While this might currently be the main focus of monetizing the blog – the real pay off will probably come through leveraging the profile that the blog gives her.

Wendy has been very active in participating in the blogosphere and her personal brand has grown as a result. She’s already having opportunities to speak at conferences, has experimented with different e-resources and with continued quality blogging and a little self promotion has the potential to open up bigger opportunities for speaking, writing books, selling resources etc.

The key with this is to continue to build her own personal brand and tie it closely to the blogs themselves.

One strategy that Wendy might explore to help keep the content levels up is to use more and more guest bloggers. While this is good in that it helps her to keep the content pumping out – the downside is that she also runs the risk of diluting her own profile on the blog. This is a bit of a tightrope to walk – but if I were Wendy I’d probably be a bit more intentional about selling herself more on her blog than selling other people’s products. Perhaps the blog could do with a little more ‘Wendyfying’? (from memory I think it used to have a picture of her on it for example).

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10 Techniques I Used To Go From 0 To 12,000 RSS Subscribers In Seven Months – With No Ads Or Leverage

The following guest post has been submitted by Trent Hamm from The Simple Dollar

Hopefully, that title got your attention a little bit, but it’s true. I launched The Simple Dollar at the very end of October 2006. I had no pre-existing blog that I could use to drive early traffic, nor did I have any personal contacts that I could use. I also had zero advertising budget. But by June 2007, I had 12,000 RSS readers and was generating enough traffic that I had to switch hosting plans twice. How did I do it? Here are a few specific techniques that really helped me build my blog’s traffic over time.

1. Lay some groundwork before starting

By this, I mean plan out your blog. What is going to be your topic area? It should be clearly defined, but not too narrow. Who is your target audience? Look at their age, their ethnicity, their nationality, their cultural awareness. You should also establish some goals – I would focus on having initial goals stated in percentages rather than raw numbers. Something like 10% readership growth per month for the first six months is appropriate. Some people miss the value of laying the groundwork for a blog, but if you’re intending to be successful, you need to be very clear on what you are talking about and who you are speaking to.

2. Listen to del.icio.us

The most valuable content that a blogger can create is the type of content that readers want to come back to time and time again and also that they want to share with others. These pieces will continually provide value to you, and the surest way to identify such content is to know how many people have saved a particular post at del.icio.us. I keep track of this by using Feedburner’s site statistics package and enabling the “flare” that shows this information. Posts that have del.icio.us bookmarks are usually the ones I use as guidelines for what works on my blog – if I try something different and no one bookmarks it, I usually realize that it’s a bad idea. I’ve found that time and time again, del.icio.us is the best barometer of good content.

3. Find your community

When you begin blogging, you may feel rather isolated from other bloggers. Try to communicate with other bloggers in your niche just to exchange ideas and build a framework of connections. Don’t initially go for the most popular bloggers in your niche – some of them are often so inundated with contacts that by sheer necessity they have to filter what they respond to. One good way to get started is to find blog carnivals in your topic area and contact the people running these carnivals.

4. Immerse yourself in a social bookmarking site

Many people have a hard time getting their foot in the door with social bookmarking because they just try to use it without giving back. Most social bookmarking sites are a community of people who enjoy interaction and discussion – if you just pop in long enough to toss up some links and then wonder why you’re not successful, you’re simply fooling yourself. If you want to be successful on a social bookmarking site, get involved. I’m involved in several – I post links to both my own articles and to other things and I’m also involved in many discussions on what others submit. Over time, people start checking in on what you submit on those sites and tend to be predisposed to voting them up, which can in the end merit you a lot of legitimate attention.
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8.9 Posts Per Week – Too Many? Not Enough?

Over the weekend I asked ProBlogger readers to tell us how many posts they’d written on each of their blogs last week.

142 comments were left referring to a total of 181 blogs. Here are a few of the figures:

  • The average number of posts that bloggers posted to each blog was 8.9 for the week.
  • The most common response was 5 posts for the week (27 blogs had this number of posts – or 15%).
  • 50% of blogs had 6 or less posts posted to them (and 50% had 7 or more posts over the week – or 1 post per day)

Here’s how things look when we graph them. The bottom axis is the number of posts written and the left axis is how many blogs had this many posts.
Posts-Per-Week-1

Note: I’ve excluded a couple of the responses because they didn’t give enough detail on a blog by blog basis.

An observation
My initial reaction to the figures was that it fit pretty closely with what I’d expected. The average blogger is able to get around 1 post out per day (or at least per weekday).

However my curious little mind automatically wonders what would happen if we did a similar survey on a list of more prominent and successful blogs? On previous occasions I’ve spent time surfing through the Technorati Top 100 to find out how often they post per day. On one occasion I found that the top 50 posted around 20 times per day (140 times per week) and on another found that the top 10 posted an average of 30 posts per day (210 times per week).

If someone’s got time to do a more recent survey of how many times they post I’d love to see it – but I suspect that the graph would look quite different to the one above – with a much higher average and a shape that had a higher proportion of blogs at the right hand end of the graph.

What is the optimal number of posts per week?

By no means am I suggesting that post frequency is the key to successful blogging. There are many factors that come into play when we analyze successful blogs.

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AdSense Publishers Reporting Earnings Slump

I tend not to report too much on the ups and downs of AdSense performance because from day to day it is quite normal for a publishers earnings to go up or down (for a variety of reasons). However over the last 48 hours I’ve had emails from quite a few readers asking if I’d noticed a downturn in AdSense earnings?

The performance of my own blogs with AdSense hasn’t really been impacted too much (although today for the first time in ages my CTR is quite a bit lower and click values are down by around 40%) but from what I can tell quite a few AdSense publishers have seen significant decreases in CTR and click values for the last few days.

My Adsense Nosedive (at Digital Point), AdSense EPC Going into Freefall (Webmaster World) and Is it slow, is it the weather or is it me? (Webmaster World).

As I’ve mentioned above – it’s quite normal to see variations in earnings from day to day but perhaps something a little bigger is going on here?

Have you noticed any changes in your AdSense earnings over the last week or so?

Your New Yorker and You – What’s your blogging goal?

This Guest Post has been submitted by J.T Dabbagian.

When I worked for my community college’s newspaper, I was told a story about a man whose goal was to work for the Los Angeles Times. My teacher stated that it was his New Yorker. Not to be confused with the Literary Magazine The New Yorker, the term ‘New Yorker’ is given to the print, literary, or other media outlet that is the dream or goal outlet of a person.

As bloggers, a good deal of us have blogs that we greatly admire, and many would jump at the chance to work, or even contribute to such a blog. For me, my New Yorker is the productivity blog Lifehacker. For others, it could be sites like Problogger, or a Google Blog, or any other blog. Whether your goal is to actually work for the blog, or merely to continue having your own blog, you can benefit from having a New Yorker to look up to.

Remember that in blogging, it’s best to have a role model in the blogosphere. Your New Yorker should be none other then that very role model in your blogging experience. Want to write for The Motley Fool? Learn their style; it’s probably one of the reasons why they’re so popular. Don’t completely rip off their articles, obviously, but there is something to be said in copying the professional style of a blog. How does this tie in to making money? It works in two ways: Directly, with contribution, and indirectly, with reference.

Making a contribution to the site

If you’re a contributor to one of the sites, or an author, odds are for the bigger blogs that you might be able to work out a deal for either a segment of the revenue, or maybe be paid directly by the site! Often times, even the smaller blogs, or blogs that don’t rely too much on revenue can often give you something in return, such as hosting, or a recommendation on LinkedIn.

Furthermore, If you become an author of said site, their influence, their reach, all becomes YOUR reach! Also, their audience becomes your audience as well, to an extent, which means more traffic driven to you, more ads clicked, and more money!

So what do you do? Write a query email to the blog’s head writer, and send a proposal of your topic article. Later on, as you post more entries, you might consider offering your services as an editor.

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