Using Local Newspapers to Promote Your Blog Offline

This mini guest post is from Harry Maugans the co-founder and lead developer for Desktop Nexus.

One of the biggest problems for local newspapers is finding things to write about.

Email or call 5-10 of your closest local newspapers and explain you have an explosive new website that will revolutionize the industry you’re in. Make sure you emphasize you’re local, and build it in or near their coverage area. In my case, I’m touting my wallpaper site as the next YouTube- the next huge community oriented around desktop backgrounds, and while that might be a bit extreme, it catches the newspapers attention.

Nine times out of ten, local papers will run this story: “Local Hometown Internet Entrepreneur Ignites Revolution in Wallpapers.” (of course different for your particular situation). Also, a surprising number of local papers are considered authority sites by Google, so a backlink from them would give your SEO rankings a nice boost.

How Many Blogs Do You Post to Each Week

Time for a Reader Poll – the question is – ‘How Many Different Blogs Do You Personally Post to Each Week’.

Note – this isn’t about how many you own, or how many blogs you have that are inactive – I’m looking for how many you actively are a blogger on.

Looking forward to your responses.

Differentiate Your Blog

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Gala’s Lessons in Blogging

Gala-Darling-1Yesterday I introduced you to Gala Darling and talked about her transition from having a blog with a niche topic to having a blog more with a niche demographic. Today I want to hand ProBlogger over to Gala for a post and have asked her to share a few of the lessons she’s been learning of late about blogging. I’ve also included a few of the pictures that make her blog so distinct.

Gala’s 9 Lessons Learned from Blogging

I haven’t been running my fashion website, iCiNG, for very long — I started it in December 2006. However, since then, I have written 400 articles & I’m now in the top 10,000 blogs on Technorati. I was also recently approached by Cosmopolitan magazine to write a monthly fashion column for them! I absolutely love what I do, but there is more to blogging than just writing a lot of content & optimising your website for search engines!

Here’s what I’ve learned in the past 8 months.

1. An original angle is essential.

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Speedlinking – 26 July 2007

  • Read WriteWeb points to the relaunch of one of my favorite organizational tools – Backpack.
  • Anne shares some ways that Writers (and I guess that means us bloggers) can help stop global warming.
  • b5media is currently hiring for 5 new positions including server ninja, junior tech support, editorial director, executive assistant and WP developer.
  • Enkay points to a new Yahoo firefox/firebug release called YSlow which grades components of the design of your site based upon Yahoo’s Performance Rules – handy.
  • Andy Beard writes about why some paid comments on a blog can actually be an ethical thing. I agree – but would still think that paying someone to comment in the ways he suggests would be best if the comment leaver identified themselves as themselves and did so in a genuine way that added to the conversation. When the main goal of the leaving of the comment is for SEO I’m not so sure in it’s value.
  • Brian shares 10 Tips on becoming a better writer. Of course the temptation could be to apply it to blogging by substituting ‘write’ for ‘blog’ – but I don’t think that would be wise. There’s a difference between ‘writing’ and ‘blogging’. I think part of the skill in being a good blogger is knowing which parts of your writing to publish and which bits to leave unpublished.

Does Your Blog Focus Upon a Niche Topic or a Niche Demographic? – a Mini Case Study with Gala Darling

Gala-DarlingLast week I had a coffee with Melbourne blogger Gala Darling (pictured) to talk blogging. Gala blogs at iCiNG).

We had a great chat that covered a lot of topics – from how to make money from blogs, to adding features to blogs to take them to new levels, to where we should hold the next Melbourne Blogger Meetup.

While we covered a lot of ground in the conversation there is one topic that I’ve been pondering since our chat:

focusing upon a niche topic vs focusing upon a niche demographic

I thought her blog might make an interesting case study of sorts (since that’s one of the main things readers asked me for this week in the reader feedback post).

Gala started out blogging with a niche topic – fashion. She gave fashion tips, documented her own fashion decisions and covered fashion news. A few months ago when we first met, Gala described her blog to me as a ‘fashion blog’.

Last week over coffee as Gala described her blog to me I noticed that she’d made a subtle shift in the way in which she described it.

Instead of describing it as a ‘fashion blog’ she spoke about it as a ‘blog for youthful alternative (unconventional, individual, eccentric) women‘.

The way she talked about her blog changed from being one that revolved around a single topic to one that revolved around a certain type of reader or audience.

When I asked Gala about this she told me that she’d intentionally broadened her topic in this way – but that it had been a reasonably organic sort of shift that had been the result of interactions with her audience.

Fashion still made up a significant proportion of her posts but so did other aspects of the life of her loyal readership. In a sense Gala is moving towards providing a one stop shop for her readers rather than just a smaller destination that focuses upon one aspect of life.

Making a shift from being a niche topic blog to a niche demographic blog is not something that would be advisable for every blogger but is definitely an option for some. Here are a few observations that I make about this shift – speaking as an outsider to Gala’s blog (ie I’m far from being part of her target audience – although in my younger years I was a Goth…. but that’s a whole other story):

1. Establish Niche Demographic Traffic First – one of the reasons that Gala has been able to make this gentle transition from niche topic blog to niche demographic blog is that she already had built up a strong loyal readership around her niche topic (fashion). In doing so she developed credibility, trust and a voice that connects with her audience. As a result when she started to expand she was able to take her audience with her. I suspect that if Gala had started up her blog with a wider focus that it would have been more difficult to establish an audience. Doing a small thing well first and then growing into other areas seems like a smart way to do this.

2. Let Readers Lead the Way – as mentioned above, the transition was largely a response to where readers seemed to be taking the blog. Gala didn’t force her non fashion posts on anyone – but as a result of her readers questions and comments she was able to provide content for their needs that was good for them and her.

3. Warning, don’t Spread Yourself too Thin – one of the possible dangers of moving to a demographic based blog is that the temptation could be to focus upon a range of topics that spread the blogger (and their audience too thinly). Don’t dilute your focus too much too quickly or you may end up burning yourself out and frustrating readers. Gala’s done this pretty well but keeping her ‘fashion’ oriented posts at around the 40% mark and making the transition reasonably slowly.

4. Trapped by Brand – one of the reasons that many bloggers would not be advised to make this transition is that their branding, blog name etc ‘trap’ them to some extent. Gala’s lucky in this regard that she started her blog around her own name ( rather than a name with a topic focus (something like A more generic or personal name would be better suited to a demographic focussed blog.

Tomorrow we’ll hear from Gala herself

As I’ve been writing this post I thought that rather than just having me talk about Gala’s blog as an outsider that it might be a worthwhile thing to get her in for a guest post – so tomorrow I’ll hand ProBlogger over to Gala to share a few of the lessons that she’s been learning about blogging. Gala’s got a lot of worthwhile things to say about blogging – I think you’ll enjoy her post.

More Pillars of Exceptional Blogs

Rory Sullivan has written a great companion post to one that Leo Babauta wrote here at ProBlogger (4 Pillars of Writing Exceptional Blogs).

The main point of Rory’s post is to point out that to build a great blog it takes more than just writing great content – to put it in his words, you need to ‘work the system’. By working the system, I don’t think Rory is talking about manipulating anyone – but rather he’s saying that it’s more than just writing. He gives 4 great pillars for growing exceptional blogs:

  • Visit and Comment on Popular Sites
  • Point Visitors to Your Site
  • Strike Diggers Gold
  • Be Prolific, Be Everywhere

To be fair to Leo – the brief for writing his post was on ‘writing exceptional content’ and not meant to be an all encompassing guide to successful blogging and having observed his style and chatted to him I think he’d be the first to agree with Rory’s suggestions. Perhaps he slightly over stated his case in his previous post when he wrote – ‘Content is king, as they say, and that should be the focus of all your efforts.’ I think he’d admit that he’s put his efforts into other activities also.

The reason I think Rory and Leo’s posts are great companion posts is because they do give a more holistic guide to building a great blog.

Leo is right because without great content a blogger doing all the things to attract attention and get visitors will be working on a pointless quest because the visitors might come once but once they see a poorly written blog they’re not likely to return. Rory is right because you can write great content until you’re blue in the face but if you never work at getting your blog into the spotlight you’ll never build a readership. Both are vital aspects of blogging.

Of course there’s probably another 10 or so potential companion posts that could be written as writing great content and finding readers are just two parts of creating an exceptional blog.

Perhaps add to the mix:

  • Pillars of Exceptional Blog Design
  • Pillars of Creating a Blog Community
  • Pillars of Great SEO
  • Pillars of Converting First time Readers into Loyal Readers
  • Pillars of Monetizing Blogs…. etc etc

Ultimately – blogging is a task that needs a variety of skills, techniques and strategies coming together in a holistic way – something I’ve written about numerous times before (for starters at – There’s a Hole in My Blog – Holistic Blogging and 18 Lessons I’ve Learnt about Blogging).

What other ‘pillars’ would you add to the lists?


Here’s a nice idea that I’d like to see more bloggers experimenting with – Sketchcasting! I think it’s got some great possibilities.

“If you had a Gun against your Head to Double your Readership in Two Weeks, What Would you Do?” – An Interview with Tim Ferriss

Tim FerrissTwo of the most popular posts on ProBlogger over the last couple of months were an interview that I conducted in April with author Timothy Ferriss who wrote the best selling book The 4-Hour work Week. Tim’s also been developing a blog as part of his 4-Hour Work Week site and has seen some amazing traffic growth over the last few months.

I thought that it might be time for a follow up interview to see how the book launch has gone and what Tim has been learning about blogging. I hope you enjoy this chat with Tim.

How’s the 4 Hour Work Week Launch Going?

The books is screaming along. It’s been an unexpected and incredible ride thus far. From hitting #1 on the Wall Street Journal list and nailing the NY Times, it’s been a string of firsts for me. I was #2 on the NY Times business bestseller list for June, and the #1 slot was a political book. Very odd. So I’m hoping to move some mountains this week and hit #1 there, which would be a lifelong dream fulfilled. Fun stuff, to be sure.

Congratulations on that – How long have you been blogging now?

My current “real” blog has been up since early April in earnest, so about 3-4 months. I did play with another WordPress blog for a few months before that, but it was mostly to get comfortable with the tools vs. building a reader base. I would say 3-4 months of serious traffic creation and real posts.

Why did you start your 4 hour work week blog and have your reasons for doing it changed since you started?

I started it to create a community, a sense of belonging for not only others… but for myself. I wanted to attract like minded folk to discuss cool topics. More recently, this has moved towards having fun but also catalyzing some serious world change. It sounds ridiculously naive, but I used the blog to help get, an educational non-profit, into the finals for American Express’s competition for $1-5 million in funding. There is some serious power in numbers and proactive readers.

I’m also beginning to realize that you can monetize a blog without bastardizing your vision, sacrificing editorial purity, or otherwise “selling out.” There’s no need to sacrifice on either end.

Tell us a little more about how you think this is possible – ie” monetize a blog without bastardizing your vision”

Step one is understanding your readers. by this, i mean defining them psychographically and demographically. What would they buy? Then, it’s a simple matter of finding advertisers who would pay for “sponsor”-level access to this market. Choose someone who belongs to an industry that you’ll likely never write about. Problem solved.

There are certainly other avenues — affiliate programs, Amazon Associates, etc. — that add additional revenue with marginal additional effort. Last, and few bloggers consider this, is launching and offering your own products to your audience. I get hundreds of emails per week requesting the same types of help. There will be online educational modules or other products on the way to help these readers, and I will launch them on the blog.

The aforementioned sources of income would be “direct” income sources from the blog. “Indirect” income sources — those that result from the credibility your blog creates — are much broader and can be even more profitable and fun: speaking gigs for $10-30K, corporate training in foreign countries, etc.

I’ve been watching your alexa ranking and you’ve seen some nice growth (over 10000) – what’s behind it?

It’s just direct response advertising meets PR.

Study the top stories at Digg or and you’ll notice a pattern: the top stories all polarize people. Do not try to appeal to everyone. Instead, take a strong stance and polarize people: make some love you and some hate you. Hate is an extreme, but here’s the gist: what you write, in order to create the highest pass-along value, needs to be “remarkable”. Is it something that is worth remarking upon?

If you make it threaten people’s 3 Bs — behavior, belief, or belongings — you get a huge virus-like dispersion. Most of my explosive posts, which have brought in 1000s of new Feedburner subscribers, have nothing to do with my book. “Geek to Freak” is about how I gained 34 lbs. of muscle in 4 weeks. “How to Travel the World with 10 lbs. or Less” is obviously not (though a great case study in how to use Amazon Associates naturally).

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