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The Three Little Blogs: A Cautionary Tale

Bloggrrl had insomnia last night and so write herself a great little bloggytale – The Three Little Blogs: A Cautionary Tale – very creative.

Which little pig blogger are you?

I think I’ve been all three on different blogs over the years.

The Story of the Day Google AdSense Wrote a Bad Check

Adsense-By-The-NumbersMobile Jones has one of the funniest yet familiar sounding posts (and an update) regarding Google sending her a bad check.

It tells the story of one AdSense publisher trying to communicate a simple problem with a company that has, for good reason, become a little too impersonal for their own good.

I’ve personally had pretty good service from the AdSense team, particularly since they opened an office here in Australia, but I’m sure many bloggers will find the story familiar, not necessarily because they’ve been sent bad checks (although I did have a lost one once and had to wait 6 weeks for another to be reissued) but through attempting to get a personal response.

Looking forward to seeing what the next step in the story is!

Which Search Terms Bring You Traffic?

So I told you the search term that brings ProBlogger the most traffic from Google….

What search term brings you more traffic than any other term?

Check out your stats and see what’s bringing in the most visitors for you and tell us in comments below.

Bonus Question – What’s the funniest search term that brings you traffic?

Starting a Blog – What We Wish We Knew

This is the last post in the ‘What I wish I knew when I first started Blogging’ Series. In this post I thought I’d pull together a few comments from readers which are a little more general in nature.

What intrigues me about these comments is that there are a few themes:

  • Start Now - a number of people regret spending too much time thinking about blogging and not actually blogging.
  • Plan – some regretted that they didn’t put a little more thought into their blogging before they started. This includes both strategic planning around niche and branding – but also practical things like permalink structures.

What interests me is that these two themes could almost be seen as contradictory and they sum up two types of bloggers that I come across constantly.

  • Bloggers Who Rush In
  • Bloggers Who Plan their Blog to Death

Too much planning can kill a blog (or at least can kill the opportunity for your blog to become established as first and can kill your passion for a topic) while not enough planning can lead to a blog that doesn’t reach it’s potential because it’s foundations are shaky.

Reader Comments

This list of comments has some real wisdom in it – if you’re just starting out, take note!

John Wesley writes – “I would have thought more about niche and branding. In the beginning I didn’t understand how important those things are so I had to adjust as the site developed. Having a plan from the start would have helped a lot.”

Lori writes – “I wish I would have made a plan and researched my niche before jumping right in.”

rami writes – “I’d focus on one topic only per blog.”

Gamermk writes – “I wish I’d have started my new blog that I’ve had for a couple months, a year ago. I had the expertise to do it back then as well, just not the drive. The market I’m in won’t last forever and it was a costly mistake I think.”

Vincent Ma writes – “The one thing I really, really wished I knew when I started was how important it was to carefully setup the permalink structure. I started with the default and realized I should have used something like category, postname. Saved by Dean’s Permalink Migration Plugin.”

LintCollector writes – “I wish I’d used a better permalink structure from the beginning. I accepted the WorPress defaults and have post URLs like: domainname/wordpress/archives/118 – If I were starting again, I’d set defaults to something more meaningful and search-engine friendly like: domainname/title-of-blog-post/”

Rebecca writes – “I wish I had been a blog reader before become a blogger.”

Zen Zoomie writes – “I wish that I had started earlier instead of just thinking about it. It took a swift kick in the pants to get me to finally stop thinking – start doing….”

Dean writes – “Get started…. You will learn by getting wet, you will make ‘;mistakes’ we all do, but you learn by doing. The blogosphere is quite forgiving but each day you delay you fall further behind…. Identify your niche, register an appropriate domain, self host wordpress, pin your ears back and go.”

Squib writes – “I began with too many blogs, each of which represented a component of what I enjoyed writing about. After awhile, I discovered that I was writing primarily about two things all of the time, poker and politics, so I merged my blog into a single entity and found my niche.” and “Also, it is important to know your reasons for blogging. If it is commercial, then traffic is very important, otherwise it’s nice to be read but it’s not necessary to be read by the thousands to have a successful blog.”

This ends our series of posts on ‘What We Wish We Knew When We First Started Blogging’. I’m sure there’s a lot more that we could cover and I’d invite you to continue to submit your thoughts in comments.

Thanks to everyone for your involvement in the series both in your initial comments which made up an important part of my posts but also in your continued comments.

Speedlinking – 14 July 2007

  • Redfly Marketing have released a firefox plugin that allows you to see what Google results are in different parts of the world for the keyword you’re searching for. As someone with blogs focussed upon geographic areas I can see how useful this would be.
  • Steph writes about how using capitals to start words when writing URLs can help when promoting your blog
  • Brian wants to know if Deleting Posts is wrong? – I’m not sure I’ve ever done it but don’t really have a problem with it like some bloggers would if the post becomes dated or you change your opinion on something or you’ve written something you later regret etc. I personally would probably just update old posts with new information to help readers see the journey I’ve been on with a post – but don’t really mind if others take the delete option. Head over to Brian’s to have you say.
  • DoshDosh writes a good guide to optimizing your site for Google Images – the list is a good one, although I’d caution readers to approach it with moderation. I’ve got a few blogs that do very well with Google Images and don’t do all 19 things. Perhaps I could do better but the danger is becoming so obsessed by it that you can get distracted from other core blogging functions.
  • ChrisG asks Does Your Site Frighten Readers Away? Great question to ask – I’ve been asking it myself of late and we’re just a few weeks away from a complete design overhaul here at ProBlogger to rectify some of the things I’m not satisfied with.
  • Mark shares his 11 Blogging Lessons

Finding Readers for Your Blog – What We Wish We Knew

Finding-Readers

This post is part of the ‘What we wish we Knew’ Series. In this post I’ll share readers comments on the topic of finding readers for a blog as well as some of my own experiences and advice.

We’ve talked about setting your blog up right (hosting, domains and platforms), making money from blogs and writing great content – but while all of these things are important to think through, they are somewhat useless unless you have readers stopping by to engage with your content.

It’s no wonder then that the most common question I’m asked is ‘how do I find readers for my blog’.

As with all of the topics we’re looking at this week, how to find readers is something that will vary from blog to blog significantly. But if I had to identify a top 5 things that I’ve learned on the topic over the last 5 years I’d summarize it like this:

1. Know Who You Want to Attract

When I was a younger single guy a wise friend gave me a valuable piece of advice for finding a life partner. He said – ‘Darren, write a list of what you’re looking for in a partner’. He went on to explain that when you define what you want in life you’re more likely to spot it when it comes by your way. You’ll also be more likely to know where to go looking for it. Read more on defining what type of reader you want and going after them.

While I’m not sure my friend would have expected his advice to turn up in a post about how to attract readers to your blog – I think there’s some truth to it. I wish now that I’d spent more time in the early days of blogging thinking about my reader (or potential reader).

2. Build Community

While I will always argue that quality content is essential in drawing readers to your blog I am increasingly convinced that one way to build your readership is to create spaces that people will want to belong to.

Build an interactive space where people feel empowered to add their comments, give readers jobs, give them homework, make your readers famous and create spaces where you step back and let your readers take the lead in showing their expertise and you’ll build a blog that people will want to be a part of and a space that your readers will promote for you. [Read more...]

About Me…. and the Search Term Competition – The Results

Ok – the last 24 hours has been a little silly around here with the Guess the Search Term Competition. The idea emerged out of me looking over my Google Analytics account yesterday and noticing a slightly odd search term coming up as brining in more traffic than any other from Google.

What was the search term? Has anyone guessed it yet? The answer is yes – in the last 12 hours a number of people guessed it in both the original competition post and the followup one.

The first to guess it was Phillip Molly Malone who got it at 3.44pm this afternoon (my time).

Phillip wins the month’s membership at Blog Mastermind Mentoring program (thanks to Yaro for putting up the prize at very short notice).

So what’s the search term?

“About Me”

Like I said above – I was a little surprised when I saw it too. For starters it’s not really related to my overall topic, secondly I was surprised by the numbers of people searching for the term (over 5000 visitors came via it in June) and lastly I just can’t work out why people would be searching for that term in those kinds of numbers.

The page people are arriving on after searching for ‘About Me’ is How to Write Your “About Me” Page.

PS: A few people have been asking what the other Top 5 terms are. Here’s the top 5 (with links to where they go):

  1. About Me
  2. ProBlogger
  3. Blogger Templates
  4. How to Make Money
  5. Blog Tools

Anyway – thanks to everyone for participating. Congratulations to Phillip – I’ll put you in touch with Yaro shortly to get your membership to Blog Mastermind.

Guess the Search Term Competition Update – Keep Guessing!

update – this competition is now closed. The winner has been announced. Comments are now closed

It has been a little over 12 hours since I started the Guess the Search Competition so I thought it was time for an update.

The winner is…. no one…. yet

The search term has not been guessed to this point. In fact out of the top 5 search terms that bring traffic to ProBlogger only

  • 1st Most Frequently used search term - yet to be guessed
  • 2nd Most Frequently used search term – ‘ProBlogger‘ – Comment #16 (Robert) was first to get this
  • 3rd Most Frequently used search term – yet to be guessed
  • 4th Most Frequently used search term – ‘how to make money‘ – Comment #68 (Florchakh) was first to guess – quite a few others suggested similar variations on this
  • 5th Most Frequently used search term – yet to be guessed

OK – so it looks like this game is a little harder than some thought it would be (including me).

So I’m going to give everyone a second guess here in this comment thread

I said I’d give a hint after 24 hours – but I think I’ll start doing so now because it could take a while!

I’ll start with a fairly general hint or two:

  • The term we are after has two words in it
  • It does not contain the word blog (or any variation of it – ie, not ‘blogging, blogs, blogger etc)

If there’s still not a winner in another 12 or so hours I’ll give some more hints that will hopefully be a little more obvious.

Remember there’s a month’s free enrollment in the Blog Mastermind Mentoring Program for the Winner – so get guessing!

update – this competition is now closed. The winner has been announced. Comments are now closed

How To Write Excellent Blog Content – What We Wish We Knew

Writing-ContentThis post is part of the ‘What we wish I knew when I first started Blogging’ Series. Below I’ll share readers comments on the topic of Writing Good Blog Content as well as some of my own thoughts.

One of the most key aspects of any successful blog is the ability to create content that keeps drawing people back to your blog. I’ve written so many posts on this topic and know that ‘excellent blog content’ means something different on every blog – as a result I won’t pretend that what I write in this post will be a definitive guide to writing great blog content.

However I can tell you five things that I wish I knew in my early days of blogging about writing content (with a few links for further reading).

5 Things I Wish I’d Known Earlier about Writing Content for a Blog

  1. The Power of Titles – the title has the ability make or break a blog post. It impacts how (and if) it’s found in search engines and social bookmarking sites, it influences whether people visit your blog in News Readers, it affects whether people leave a comment and is vital in whether people actually read what you have to say. Read more about using Titles Effectively on Blogs.
  2. The Viral Nature of Lists – a single well written list post can launch a blog to great heights in the blogosphere. While the prolific nature of lists in the blogosphere can also mean your lists get ignored, I find that when writing the same content as a list that you write as an essay like article the list will almost always get more attention. Read more about why lists are great for getting traffic to your blog.
  3. The Importance of Being Original - perhaps the best lesson that I ever learned as a bloggers was that people are drawn to others who speak their mind, who have something unique to say and who say it in a creative and fresh way. Say what everyone else is saying in the same way that everyone else is saying it and you’re almost guaranteed of being largely ignored. Read more about how to avoid joining the echo chamber and saying something original.
  4. The Value of Well Formated Content – people don’t read content on line in the same way that they read content in other mediums. Online readers tend to scan content. As a result if you place visual cues in your posts that draw the eye to important points you’ll find people stick with you longer into your posts. Read more on How to make your content Scannable
  5. The Impact of a Good Image - another simple technique for providing an additional point of interest in your posts is to provide something visual. I don’t use images in every post on this blog but find that when I do that those clicking through on the post in my feed reader increases. Images have the power to communicate in ways that words cannot – use them. Read more on Using images to make your posts POP in RSS feeds.

Reader Comments on Writing Excellent Blog Content

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