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TwitterFeed – Promote Your Blog Posts to Twitter Followers

TwitterfeedQuick blog promotion tip – Twitterfeed.com is a service that will automatically twitter any post that you publish on your blog.

I’ve started doing it on my Twitter account and have seen quite a few visitors come across from it so far.

Thanks to cat-laine (blog) for the tip.

Win a WordPress Blog Theme for Your Blog

update – thanks for everyone’s entries but this competition is now over.

Premium-NewsI received a lot of positive feedback from last week’s giveaway of the WordPress for Dummies book.

One of the things that happened as a result of the giveaway is that I had a number of other people offer to give similar prizes. While I don’t want to let this blog get run over my prizes and competitions – I do like the idea of rewarding active participants of the site – so have decided to run another one this week.

This week the prize has been donated by Adii. Addii is a great blog designer and he’s generously providing five of his Premium News Themes for the winners of this week’s giveaway.

How to Win it

Because this week’s prize isn’t something that everyone needs (it’s a WordPress theme) we’ll run the giveaway slightly differently this time. You need to do two things:

1. Comment on this thread to register your interest. These comments can be anything from ‘count me in’ to ‘show me the WP Theme’. This is your first entry.

2. Comment on any other post on the blog over the next five days. Every comment you leave on any post is another entry into the competition. Of course these comments need to be genuine and on topic comments.

I will randomly choose 1 comment per day over the next five days to win a theme. The five winners will be announced on Saturday (my time).

My hope with this is that you’ll still have opportunity to enter as many times as you like – but that we’ll get winners who actually want the prize.

About the Prize

Premium News is a one-of-a-kind, feature-rich, magazine style theme for WordPress, which is aimed at ambitious bloggers looking for a professional front-end to showcase their content. The theme is highly customizable and offers the user some advanced customization options through the WordPress admin panel – the look of the theme can thus be changed, without even touching the code. The theme usually sells for $70.

Premium-News

Let the Commenting Begin – and Good Luck!

update – thanks for everyone’s entries but this competition is now over.

Brisbane SEO Blog — a ProBlogger Community Blog Consulting Project

Problogger-ConsultingWelcome to our third Community Blog Consulting 2.0 project. A few minutes spent sharing your feedback on this week’s blog could see you win an iPod Shuffle!

If you’re new to the community consulting at ProBlogger, the launch post should explain everything you need to know.

This week we’ll be looking at Brisbane SEO Blog. It’s the business blog for SiteMost, an SEO company based in Brisbane, Australia.

Pete is the blog’s author and described the blog’s aims as follows:

Although the company is only fairly new, the team have been optimising websites for over 5 years. We actively participate in many SEO communities and forums and this has helped gain some exposure and reputation within the industry.

Our current goal with the blog is to try and attract more subscribers and as a byproduct of this, further enhance our reputation and authority within the search marketing industry.

A summary of the community feedback (with my own commentary) will be posted in 4 – 5 days, so make sure to get your comments in soon.

The iPod Shuffle prize will will be awarded to the commenter who leaves the most useful, interesting and respectful feedback for the blog’s author.

Brisbane SEO Blog screenshot.

The key questions you’ll want to consider are:

  • What do you like about this blog?
  • What could be improved?

You might want to focus your comment on these areas:

  • Design — usability, visual appeal, readability, navigation.
  • Content — how could it be made more valuable?
  • Promotion — how would you suggest the blogger promote the blog?
  • SEO — can you see areas for improvement?
  • Monetization — could this be done more effectively? Do you see any missed opportunities?

We’d love for comments to be as constructive, helpful and practical as possible. I’m sure Peter and the rest of the team at SiteMost can’t wait to hear your insights.

How to Be a Rockstar Freelancer – Great New Resource

125X125I’ve just spent the last couple of hours devouring How to Be a Rockstar Freelancer – a brand new resource by Cyan and Collis Ta’eed from the wonderful Freelance Switch blog.

I’ve been an avid reader of the blog since it started and when I met Collis recently at Melbourne WordCamp he mentioned that this book was on the way – I was excited to hear that and have been hanging out for it to be released.

11 chapters and 212 pages of content – this book covers a lot of ground and is worth the read for anyone considering a Freelancing career (in any field) or anyone who is currently a Freelancer wanting to take it to the next level.

How to Be a Rockstar Freelacer applies to freelancers of many industries and covers everything from the general and introductory (definitions – ‘what is a freelancer’, discussion on location – ‘home vs office’ and setting up an ‘ergonomic office’) through to more specific topics (‘getting paid’, getting a portfolio together, hiring staff and how much to charge).

You can see the full list of topics covered on the sales page for the book (which I have to say is a refreshing change from many sales pages I’ve seen of late – no hype, no long pages with special offers etc).

The book is written in the usual crisp and polished style that readers of Freelance Switch have come to expect. It’s easy to understand, to the point and genuinely helpful – with lots of practical tips.

Of course my own interest in the book goes beyond the content – I’m also always fascinated to see blogs launch products like this – especially blogs with such a big following – as it’s another example of how blogs can be used to make money once they’ve gained profile.

If you’re a freelancer of any sort – (designer, journalist, blogger etc) then this is a book worth checking out.

This post contains affiliate links

Who Designed Your Blog?

Time for a new Poll.

Who designed your blog?

I’m sure there will be other options to those that I included. If you don’t feel your situation is covered feel free to leave a comment below and tell us your answer.

Who Designed Your Blog?
View Results


I’d also be interested to hear about your decision to design your blog the way you did. Why did you choose the option and template that you did?

Another New AdSense Unit Spotted

Mani from Daily SEO Blog just shot me a screen cap of an unusual AdSense ad unit that he saw:

Google-Ad-Big

It’s a 336×280 pixel ad unit. Looks like AdSense are in a bit of a testing frenzy at the moment with new ad formats being reported every few days by readers of ProBlogger.

What do you think of this one?

WordPress for Dummies – Prize Winners

Wordpress-For-DummiesLast week I ran a five day competition here at ProBlogger where every comment that you left on the blog put you into the draw to win a copy of WordPress for Dummies by Lisa Sabin-Wilson.

The post that I announced the competition on got quite a few comments in itself – but so did others over the week (there were close to 700 comments left over the five days across the blog) – so there was lots of competition.

Following are the five winners of the books chosen at random:

Congratulations to each of the winners. Lisa will be in touch shortly to arrange for delivery of WordPress for Dummies.

Thanks to everyone else for your participation in both the competition and community on ProBlogger. If you didn’t win you can always pick up a copy at Amazon for $16.49. Also you might have some luck in our next competition (next week) where the prizes will be a new template for your blog.

Hypebot — Community Consulting Summary

Heya — Skellie here.

Our second community consultation has drawn to a close – this time we consulted for Hypebot. We’ve had a terrific response from the ProBlogger community (as always) with plenty of insights shared.

Those new to the project will want to read the Community Consulting launch post. You can also revisit the post where Hypebot was introduced to the community.

What follows is an overview of some of the main aspects of the blog that were highlighted by ProBlogger readers.

Lack of whitespace

The ‘whitespace’ of any website is essentially its empty areas. Without whitespace to frame distinct elements it can make your blog seem jumbled and make it difficult for the eyes to isolate individual elements (for example, separating posts from the sidebar).

While a number of readers thought Bruce’s sidebar was too wide, I think the real issue is the lack of whitespace within the sidebar and separating the sidebar from the posts. The edge of each post runs almost to the edge of the sidebar with very little padding, making the overall effect a little tough on the eyes.

To help alleviate this problem, I’d suggest narrowing the width of the third column and using the freed up space to add whitespace around the post column.

I’d also suggest adding an extra line of space below each post, to help make each content item distinct from the next.

Dark on dark

Some readers also found the contents of the sidebar difficult to read because the background and text are both dark. I’d suggest going with a much lighter gray instead, or any light color which looks good with the design.

Hidden essentials

A number of readers urged Bruce to add an About and Contact page to his site. While I agree that a Contact page should be added, there is already an About page available. For so many readers to miss it indicates that it needs to be made more prominent.

The ‘About’ page is the place where visitors decide to become readers. For that reason, it needs to be incredibly easy to find. I’d suggest moving links to the About and Contact page (once added) to the top of the right-hand sidebar.

It also seems strange to use a different layout for the blog’s About page. It’s important to maintain consistent branding across all your pages, so I’d use the blog’s existing layout instead.

Clutter

It’s difficult to find a blog without an inch of clutter, but decluttering is a worthy goal for all of us. Taking away the unimportant elements of our site allow more attention to be directed at what is important.

Bruce could remove the following unimportant elements in order to create a lean and usable sidebar:

  • Recent posts. Hypebot’s posts tend to be quite short so readers will find it quicker to scroll down than it is to interact with a list of titles. A recent posts list is only really useful on blogs with very long posts.
  • Links, privacy policy and blogroll. The links and blogroll could be moved to their own dedicated page. The privacy policy should be linked from the About page.
  • Recent comments. While I don’t mind the kind of recent comments display which gives a preview of each comment, the widget currently on the blog won’t be of much interest to new visitors. If you were a new visitor, what would you rather read? The content, or (insert person you’ve never heard of) commented on ( insert post you haven’t read yet)?
  • The tag cloud. If you’ll allow me to be a little opinionated, I think tag clouds are just one of those things designers started doing simply because they could! A simple list of categories is much more readable and usable, so I’d keep that and lose the cloud.
  • Kudos for Hypebot. The About page is where you convince potential readers to pay attention, so the CNN recommendation would be more effective displayed there.
  • Books clip-art. Clip art is good for Power Point presentations but doesn’t really make for good web design.

Readability

One common suggestion from readers was to increase the size of the links in the sidebar — something I strongly agree with. The font size should be equal to that used in each post.

To help distinguish links it might also be worth making them bold or underlined. Other readers also requested that the headlines on each post be left aligned rather than centered, for a more fluid reading experience.

News vs. Commentary: a common problem for bloggers!

Many readers congratulated Bruce on his writing style and content. I was also impressed with Bruce’s confident blogging voice.

One of the questions he asked was “Am I achieving the right balance of news vs. commentary?” I do have some concerns in this area (I suspect many bloggers do), and this is an issue I’ve personally struggled with in the past.

As a one person show, it’s incredibly difficult to break news. Unless you’re an industry insider, you’re essentially forced into a reactive role — reading about news elsewhere and posting it on your blog. The problem with this is that you’re probably going to be recycling news from other sites in your niche — sites that your target audience are most likely already reading!

The original source of the news will always get the links and mentions, making news aggregation a very difficult growth strategy to pursue. Without the ability to break news, I think commentary is a much more viable option. People will still go to other sites to watch the news break, but they will come back to read your unique take on it.

I think Darren’s approach is illustrative of how best to do this. While there are regular news posts at ProBlogger, they’re almost always accompanied by a reflection on what the developments mean, and its impacts.

People will still read the posts even if they’re already familiar with the news because they’re interested to hear what Darren has to say.

Bruce is an expert in his own niche and I have no doubt that readers would love to read his commentary. My suggestion to Bruce would be to focus on commentary more so than he is currently doing.

It’s impossible to compete with well-resourced and staffed music news sites when it comes to being the first with news, but they may never be able to offer the kind of insight Bruce is capable of.

The Prize!

Sheesh, you guys don’t make picking a favorite comment easy, do you? Fortunately we have a few more prizes to go around, thanks to Bruce’s generosity.

This week’s prize-pack winner is Anthony Lawrence. I was impressed both by his attention to detail and his respectful approach to the review process. He’ll soon be the new owner of an iPod Shuffle and 5 CDs courtesy of Bruce’s booking company, Skyline Music.

Our five runner-ups, Jen, CompuWorld, Michael Martine, coolthought and Sakura will also receive a CD of their choosing.

Stay tuned for the introduction of blog number three.

Have You Bought a ProBlogger T-shirt?

HbfnuAre you one of the people who have bought a ProBlogger T-Shirt?

If so – I’d love to get a picture of you wearing it to post here on the blog.

I’ve just done a little analysis of the purchases so far – and the clear winner in terms of design are T-Shirts with the simple text logo ‘ProBlogger’ on the back (pictured).

Also Mens T’s are out selling the Women’s ones so far – and there are even a few kids ones that have sold.

PS: if you’re a T-shirt designer and have any ideas for some new designs I’d love to chat with you. I’m not going to open it up as a competition like I did previously – but it could be fun to do something a little different if anyone has the time or inclination.