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How Do I Get More Relevant Readers for My Blog?

Speed-Posting

@happygirl08 asks about how to – “get more relevant readers to your blog/ mailing list??”

Good question – some bloggers tend to focus on getting more readers of any kind – they don’t really care about who they are, they just want their numbers to increase. So I think it’s good that you’re asking about ‘relevant’ readers because some readers will come to your blog and then leave, never to return, whereas others will come back again and again because they click with something on your blog (I presume this is what you mean by ‘relevant readers’. OK – now that I’ve said that – an answer:

Here’s the question that I encourage you to ask – “where are the readers that I want already gathering in numbers?”

The key is to identify where these ‘relevant’ readers are already gathering. On almost every topic you can think of there are people already gathering online – so it’s a matter of identifying these ‘hot spots’ and working out how to participate in them in a way that can draw readers to your blog. This doesn’t mean spamming their comments sections or forums – but adding value, submitting guest posts, helping that community grow etc. Out of this you’ll find opportunities come to grow your blog. I’ve written more on this at Grow Your Blog’s Readership by Targeting Readers.

What would you add to my answer on how to get more relevant readers for your blog?

This weekend is a Speed Posting Weekend!

Speed-PostingThis weekend is a long weekend here in Australia (for ANZAC day) and it’s also my birthday on Sunday… so this weekend I want to try something a little different here on ProBlogger.

Yesterday I asked my followers on Twitter if they had any questions that they wanted me to answer on ProBlogger. There was a great array of questions submitted and over the next three days I’m going to answer 20 or so of them.

But here’s the catch – I could quite easily write long posts on almost every question submitted – but I’m going to set myself a little challenge and give myself a maximum of 3 minutes to answer each question.

I’m calling it ‘Speed Posting’.

3 minutes isn’t long to write a post and as a result they’re not going to go into great depth – but the object is to get through as many questions as I can over the weekend and for my posts to be discussion starters.

  1. I’ll post the question
  2. begin to answer it with a few of my own thoughts (3 minutes of madness)
  3. then hand it over to you to continue the discussion

Answer the Question and Win a Prize

As a little incentive for adding your own answers – I’m going to put up 3 ProBlogger Books as a prizes for three readers who leave a comment over the next three days (I’ll choose one comment at random from each day and announce them on Monday).

Hold on to your hats – this could be a crazy weekend!

5 Ideas to Come Up with Blog Content from Your Daily Life

capture-repurpose.jpgMany bloggers suffer from the daily grind of having to find new posts for their blog – but what if there was an easier way? What if your next post was right before you in the activities that you do each day?

One great way to find new content for your blog is to capture things that you do in your daily routine that relate to your topic and then to present them as a blog post.

This won’t relate to every blog topic but many of us are living lives that are a gold mine of content – we just need to learn to capture and repurpose it.

Let me give you five examples of how to capture and repurpose daily activities for blog content:

1. Use your answer to a reader question as a post – one of the most obvious ways to capture content is to use the email (or even instant messaging) interactions that you have as the basis for posts.

Most bloggers get questions from readers at least on a semi regular basis (whether via email or in comments on their posts). Replying to these questions via email is a great thing to do as it gives a reader some personal attention – but it can sometimes feel like wasted time to write an email with advice that only one person will ever read. Why not ask the reader if they mind you answering their question publicly? If one reader has the question then others are sure to be thinking it so you’ll be helping others, plus you’ve just racked up another blog post. Here’s a recent example of this.

Alternatively simply take a question of a reader that they want you to answer and make it an open discussion post on your blog – with permission of course (see this recent example).

2. Use someone’s email answer to you as a post – how about flipping the last idea on it’s head and repurposing an email that someone else sent you as a guest post on your blog? I’m regularly asking others how they do things, picking their brains for advice on different topics etc – what if instead of getting an answer like this and then simply saying thanks you asked them if they’d mind you using it as the basis for a post? They might prefer you didn’t or it may be that you only use a short quote from their email as part of a larger post – but I’d bet that most of us have emails in our inboxes that would benefit our readers.

3. Document how you complete a task – if you write a blog with a ‘how to’ type component to it one of the simplest ways to create content is to simply keep a record of how you do something and then to write it up as a post. I did this recently in a post telling readers how I cleared my email inbox.

These types of posts tend to go down very well with readers because it takes your blog from being a theoretical blog and makes it much more bedded down in reality. It’s also much more personal and inspiring to not only read how to do something but to read how someone else did it.

4. Video yourself doing something – extending upon this idea, why not video (or even photograph) you doing something? Instead of just a textual report of how you do something to visually show it can be very powerful.

There are a number of approaches to take with this:

  • Pure Video – just simply a video of you completing your task
  • Video/Stills – using a combination of video and still iamges – as I did in my post yesterday on talking readers through how I take an idea for a post through to hitting publish on it in terms of workflow.
  • Screen Casting – if your task is computer related actually capture that as a video and talk your readers through the process.

5. Record a conversation as a podcast or videocast – we all have conversations all day and every day and some of these conversations are relevant to the topics that we blog about. So why not capture some of them? Buying a recording device isn’t that expensive these days and editing a conversation down into a few bite sized but helpful snippets isn’t that difficult. Of course you’ll want to get permission from the people you talk to!

Again this approach not only captures something that can be repurposed into content but adds variety and personality to your blog.

The Key to Capturing Daily Life and Repurposing for Content

The main advice I’d give with each of these strategies is to keep it relevant to your blog. While the occasional blogger seems to get away with posting pictures of their latest meal, video of what their cat did to their new couch etc – this is probably not going to go down too well on most of our niche focused blogs.

The key is to find daily activities that you can draw on that also relate to what your blog is about and that will be useful to your readers.

What examples can you give of when you’ve captured things from your daily life and repurposed them as blog content?

AdSense Roll out Ad Review Center to All Publishers

AdSense have today rolled out their new(ish) Ad Review Center for all AdSense publishers. I’m happy about this as I was in this last batch of publishers to see it.

The idea behind the Ad Review Center is that when advertisers target your specific blog you now can see that they’re targeting it and can approve or ban and ad depending on whether you want it to appear on your site or not. This gives you more control over the ads that appear on your site.

Note – this is only for ads targeted to your site (ie general AdSense ads that are contextually placed on your site are not included).

Also keep in mind that when you remove an ad you could be decreasing the profitability of your site as it removes the ad from the ‘auction’ that happens between Advertisers to have their ad appear on your blog.

To find the Ad Review Center log into the ‘Setup’ area of AdSense, then click the ‘Competitive Ad Filter’ area and opt into the Ad Review Center program (it should be highlighted in a little green box).

Tips For Social Media Toddlers

Tips for Social Media ToddlersI don’t do many guest posts on other people’s blogs these days but this week I was asked to do one that I couldn’t resist. Kristen from Social Media Mom asked me to write something on Social Media and being a Dad.

My first thought was that it was all too hard – but I decided to take the challenge and the post that emerged was one of the favorite things I’ve written of late. It’s called:

4 Tips for Social Media Toddlers

The post takes a look at 4 lessons that I’ve learned from my son (that’s he and I pictured left) and what they teach me about social media (Twitter particularly). I hope you enjoy it!

My Blog Posting Workflow


You get an idea for a post – it might start out as just a few words, a title, a point or two – but how do you take the idea and mould it into a full post?

In he above video (see a full sized version of it here) I take you through a series of screenshots of a post that I wrote a few days ago on how to be a ruthless blogger and tell you about my posting workflow.

The workflow that I describe isn’t the same for every post that I write (some are obviously a lot less involved – but it does describe the way that I work on most of my feature length posts that you see here on ProBlogger.

I’d love to hear about your own blog posting workflow in comments below.

ProBlogger Book Launch – Highlights and Updates From the Pre-Launch

ProBlogger-Book.jpgIt’s time for a little ProBlogger Book Launch Update.

A number of readers have been asking how the launch is going and are watching some of what we’re doing for their own launches – so let me share a few things we’re learning and seeing (plus I’ll give you a chance to win a copy below).

Sample Chapter Getting Good Reviews

Making a sample chapter available for downloading has been something well worth doing. We’ve seen it downloaded thousands of times and I’ve had some good feedback on it. If you haven’t already got your sample chapter just signup for our email list at ProBlogger Book. You’ll get taken to a page where you can download it and will be signed up for a weekly blog tip (which you can unsubscribe to at any time).

Blog Networks are Buying the Book in Bulk

One of the things I hadn’t expected (but should have) is that we’re seeing a number of blog networks buying the book to give to their bloggers. It makes sense, blog networks want their bloggers to improve their blogging as it benefits the network as a whole as well as giving the blogger a little bonus. In a sense these networks are using the book as a training manual for their bloggers. At just over $16 per blogger it’s a fairly economic way to teach your bloggers!

Ad Networks are Buying the Book in Bulk Too

Similarly a couple of ad networks are putting in bulk orders for the book also. The reasoning for it is that they’re going to use it as a prize for their publishers and/or are giving it to their publishers to help them improve their blogging (which again helps the networks and creates some goodwill among their publishers).

Using the Book as a Bonus for Internet Marketing

‘ve heard just now of one Internet Marketer who is talking about using the book as a ‘bonus’ on one of the products that he’s preparing for launch. He’s thinking of throwing the book in as a free bonus with every course he sells. Again – at just $16 this doesn’t cost him much but provides his product’s purchasers a nice little extra when they sign up for his course.

Want to Buy it in Bulk?

If you’re wanting to buy the book in bulk 50-100+ books let me know and I can introduce you to someone at Wiley (our publisher) who can talk to you about options for discounts (although Amazon have it fairly heavily discounted – 39% off retail in the lead up to launch).

Reviews and Interviews

In the week around launch expect to see some buzz about the book. Our publisher is sending quite a few review copies out to bloggers and Chris and I are doing plenty of interviews and even a few guest posts on other blogs. The strategy is to get our names and the book out in front of plenty of potential readers – especially outside of the blogging about blogging niche.

Sales Figures

I’m yet to see any official sales figures but the book has been as high as #300 on the best seller list at Amazon. This figure rises and falls depending upon what promotion we’ve been doing but it’s great to see the book doing well in different Amazon best seller sections.

Launch Dates

The book is due to leave the printer on 28 April and should hit Amazon and other stores in the days that follow. Amazon have it listed for a 5 May launch but I’ve noticed on previous launches that they often ship books a day or two before the dates that they give. Hopefully those of you who have ordered one will you’ll have your the first week of May!

WIN A COPY

There are a number of competitions running around the place already where you can win a copy of the book (another way that people are using it) but I’m going to be giving a few copies away in the coming weeks.

One way that you can put yourself in the running is to subscribe to ProBlogger via email. You can do this at the top right hand side of the blog by entering your email address in the field there. This will sign you up to a daily update of the latest posts from ProBlogger – you can unsubscribe at any time. I’ll draw a random subscriber’s email out on Friday.

12 Ways to Be a More Interactive and Accessible Blogger

Interactive-Accessible
image by Jeff Bauche

Yesterday I wrote about being a ruthless blogger and named a number of areas that I find helpful to have more harsh boundaries in with the hope of it helping me become more productive and focused as a blogger (and as a result provide a better resource for readers).

There is a problem with ruthlessness though. It arises when you become so ruthless and focused that you end up becoming inaccessible and stop engaging with readers. Put up too many boundaries and you could end up alienating readers.

This is a problem that I hear many medium to larger sized blogs face. The bigger they grow the greater the demands on the time of bloggers and the harder it becomes to stay accessible.

Today I want to share a few tips on how to remain accessible to readers even when your blog is growing and the demands on your time become greater. By no means am I an expert in this – but here are a few things I’ve learned.

1. Set aside time to interact

make-time.jpgPerhaps one of the best tips that I can give is to be proactive in setting aside time to be accessible to readers. Almost everything else that I mention in this post will not work at all unless you DECIDE to be an accessible and engaging blogger and then put your money where your mouth is and actually set aside the time to BE accessible and engaging.

I personally find that I can have all the great intentions in the world to interact with people but that unless I block out time to do it that other ‘urgent’ things crowd out this time. Diarize time for some of the activities that I mention below – or you may never do them.

Clock Image by Mike9Alive

2. Give Readers an Appropriate Way to Contact You

respond-email.jpgThe fastest way to cut off the interaction that you might have with readers is to fail to provide them with any way to get in touch with you. Conversely – the more obvious a way you have for people to contact you the more likely they are to use it.

You’ll notice in the title of this section that I included the word ‘Appropriate’. This is important. Why you ask?

In the early days of this blog my contact page contained so many ways to contact me that it actually became a bit of a nightmare to manage. I had email address, a contact form, my cell phone number (later changed to a SkypedIn number), 4 instant messaging options, profile pages on numerous social media sites… and more. The problem is that I had so many people getting in touch with so many mediums that I spent half my day switching from one medium to another to check if people had been in touch and to respond. It totally destroyed my productivity and ended up being frustrating to those trying to get in touch.

These days my contact page attempts to funnel people into the direction of email via my contact form. It gives people the ability to connect with me via Mail and Social Media sites but makes it obvious that the contact form is the most effective method of getting in touch.

3. Interact in Comments

comments.jpgI don’t believe that you need to reply to every comment on your blog (I personally try to develop blogs where the community helps each other) but I think it’s important to have a presence in your own comments section. This is not easy when you have hundreds of posts and thousands of comments a month – but it is one way to keep yourself accessible to readers.

4. Reply to Emails

contact.jpgReaders leaving a comment on your blog is one way that they reach out to you, but when they email you they are taking an extra step towards interaction with you and wherever possible I’d encourage you to respond to these readers as a priority. Again – it’s not easy, but if you have an effective email system like I described yesterday you can drastically improve your response rate. I personally have room to improve in my comments section but am finally getting on top of replying to emails and have noticed a real impact as a result.

5. Get help to manage your communications

virtualassistant.jpgIf the above two points are too hard for you (ie replying to comments and emails) then you might need to get some help. In the last few months I’ve had Lara helping me with my own comment moderation here at ProBlogger and have found this really helpful. She’s able to answer some comment concerns herself (particularly while I’m asleep or away) and emails me important comments that I need to be aware of that she moderates. Some bloggers also have people help them with emails (something I don’t do at this point). In a sense outsourcing in these areas or hiring a virtual assistant is all about ‘triage’ – ie filtering comments and email that you don’t need to see/be aware of (for example comments that say ‘great post’ or emails that are FAQs and that can be answered with a quick link) and pulling out those that are more important.

I’d be very wary of completely outsourcing this area of your blogging as it’s important to be aware of what’s going on in your comments section and emails – however it can take some of the load off and help you become more effective.

6. Video/Streaming

streaming.pngOne of the most effective things that I’ve done in the last year in terms of becoming more accessible to readers is to do more video and to do the occasional streaming video chat session. Video adds something very powerful to a blog. It gives you a voice and personality in a way that text cannot. While it’s a strange feeling at first I’m coming to love the video component of ProBlogger. Streaming chats are particularly good as they are live, fully interactive, give you a sense of what is on the mind of readers and is much more conversational than writing a post and then interacting in comments as it’s real time.

7. Write Conversationally

conversational.jpgThe way that you write has a massive impact upon the way that you’re perceived. Some bloggers write in a very closed and ‘distant’ voice while others are incredibly engaging and conversational. Some of this is difficult to define but a few tips on becoming more conversational in your writing include:

  • asking questions of your readers – invite them to interact
  • asking questions of yourself – asking a question in your post and then proceeding to answer it
  • sharing experiences – tell your readers how you apply what you write about
  • sharing mistakes – showing you are human and fail makes you relatable
  • share questions that readers ask – this beds your posts down in reality but also shows that you interact with readers

8. Twitter

twitter.gifOne of the things I love about Twitter is that it has opened up a whole new arena for me to interact with readers. Many ProBlogger readers now follow me on Twitter and have reflected back to me that they enjoy our interactions there. Part of the reason that I love Twitter is that it’s so concise. Interactions are 140 characters long so people don’t expect too much of you but the interactions can be very conversational, personal and effective.

9. Other Social Media

social-media.jpgNot into Twitter? Have readers that don’t get into it? That’s ok, what about another social media site that is more suited to you and your niche? I was a amazed a few months back how many of the members of Digital Photography School’s Forum use Facebook. It shouldn’t have surprised me really but Facebook is a much more accessible place for non Web 2.0 savvy readers to connect with you. Why not start a group for your blog there?

10. Interviews

interview.jpgNot every blogger will have the profile to be interviewed by others but if you get the chance it can be very worthwhile. For starters it’s a good way to find new readers but it is also good at putting you in front of your current readers in a new setting where they see a different side of you. For example, you wouldn’t believe the response that I’ve had over the last few months from doing this interview on work life balance and being a Dad. The interview touches on blogging but its really on a topic that I don’t regularly write on and it opened up a different side of me that for some reason people found very engaging.

11. Conferences

conference-shoemoney-copyblogger-problogger.jpgI wish I could do more conferences and meetups than I do because it is perhaps the most effective way of engaging with readers. It is amazing way of growing relationships with readers and other bloggers in your niche.

The face to face networking interactions that you have are priceless and the opportunities that you might be able to take to speak or participate in panels or workshops put you in front of people and add to the perception that you’re ‘out there’ and interacting in your niche.

Image by Tris

12. Vanity Watch

vanity.pngOne last tip that can help you have the appearance of being much more interactive on other blogs than you actually are. Set up a vanity watchlist to monitor what people are saying about you and your blog. In this way you can be notified when someone else mentions you and can drop by their post and leave a comment either thanking them for the link, responding to a criticism or answering a question that they might have. Leaving this type of comment shows other bloggers that you care about how they view you, that you’re willing to interact not only on your own blog but theirs and it can help you sort out misconceptions or other problems that could potentially hurt your brand.

Online Advertising for Newbies – SXSW Podcast

sxsw-panel.jpgThe session that I participated in as a panelist at SXSW is now available here. It’s a panel so it covers a fair bit of ground and includes information on ad networks, affiliate programs and other topics associated with making money online.