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Offers for Bloggers That Will Expire Soon

Over the last few weeks there have been a number of offers and deals for bloggers – some exclusive to you as Problogger readers.

As some of these expire at the end of the month I thought I’d give a brief recap of three of them with cut of dates that are approaching:

  1. $100 Signup Bonus from ChitikaChitika are offering all new publishers who sign up through ProBlogger the chance to earn up to $100 as a signup bonus. Any new publisher signing up with them will have their earnings up until the end of August doubled – dollar for dollar – to a maximum bonus of $100. This is a good deal for anyone who has applied to join Chitika previous but who wasn’t accepted into the program because they’ve now widened the type of blogs they can monetize and are accepting more applications than previously (read more about this deal). Sign up for this offer here.
  2. Pepperjam Network Offer $10 SignUp Bonus – The Pepperjam Affiliate Network is offering all new publishers a signup bonus of $10 for all those bloggers who sign up in the month of July – there’s just a few days to go on this one (read more). Signup for this deal here.
  3. TeachingSells to Close Doors - The TeachingSells course will close it’s doors to new members in the coming days (midnight on 31 July). It will open again at some point but at a higher price point so this is your last chance to get in at current prices (read more about this).

Get notice of more deals like these (plus other exclusive ones to subscribers) by signing up for the ProBlogger weekly email newsletter. I’ll announce a new competition in this newsletter in the next day or two.

If you only had one hour a day to blog what would you spend it doing?

If you only had one hour a day to blog what would you spend it doing?

A reader recently sent me a question asking how I’d approach blogging if I only had one hour a day. I can’t find the email for the life of me (if it was you please email me and I’ll give you credit) but it went something like this (paraphrased from my recollection of the question):

“I have very limited access to the internet but would like to build a successful blog. Can it be done and if so what activities should I do if I can only get online for one hour a day?”

This is a question that I thought would be a good discussion starter.

As bloggers we have many choices to make when it comes to how to spend our time. There’s obviously a need to write content – but then there are many other activities that compete for our time:

  • Social Media
  • SEO
  • Interacting with readers and moderating comments
  • Blog Design
  • Networking with other bloggers
  • Promoting our content in other places (forums, offline etc
  • Adding new features

The list could (and does) go on. I could (and sometimes do) spend anything up to 12 hours a day online blogging – so if confronted with the choice to do only 1 hour’s activities it’d be a difficult thing to work out what to cut.

So how would you fill 1 hour a day on your blogging (or how do you if this is all the time you have)? What’s most important and what activities do you ignore or put off?

Hundreds of Bloggers to Interact with On Digg and StumbleUpon

It’s time to release into the wild another two of our Social Media Love-In lists – this time it’s all about social bookmarking.

The opportunities for collaboration and cooperation on sites like Digg and StumbleUpon are amazing. They can be powerful tools with the potential to drive significant traffic to a blog.

One of the keys that I’ve found to doing this is to have a good base of friends on the sites. As a result the following two lists could be quite significant.

Didn’t make it on the lists?

Unfortunately we were hit so hard with people submitting their social media profiles that we could only take submissions for 24 hours – however all is not lost if you missed out for two reasons:

  1. I’m hoping to do this again (it won’t be for a few weeks as this has taken a lot of work to compile)
  2. If you befriend the above people you can still benefit. I find that when I befriend someone on a site like Digg or StumbleUpon that it often comes back to me with the other person friending me. This is less so on SU where there’s a limit to friends (200 last time I looked) but there are plenty of opportunities for collaboration even if you’re not on these lists.

Keep in mind – these people are bloggers – they’re influencers – they’re a part of sites that are incredibly powerful and networking with them can be a powerful thing.

PS: don’t forget our list of 538 Twitter using bloggers.

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Passion, Honesty, Content and Light-Footedness – Ingredients of Successful Blogging

Yesterday I linked up to an interview with an Australian blogger (Alborz Fallah from CarAdvice.com.au) who has built his blog from a hobby to a million dollar business in just two years.

I’ve not been able to get Alborz story out of my mind since as it’s a brilliant example of what is possible with blogging – but also resonates with my own story and approach. Today I’d just quickly like to pull out a few of the threads of the conversation in that interview that I think were important (there were many more but these resonated most with me):

Passion for Topic

It is totally possible to blog successfully and profitably on a topic that you have little or no interest in – but Alborz is so obviously passionate about his topic and I believe it is key to attracting a readership who shared his passion.

Transparency and Honesty

umerous times during the call Alborz talked of ‘telling it like it is’ on his blog. If a car that he’s reviewing is bad – he calls it bad, whether the car maker is a sponsor of his blog or not. This is another aspect of his blog that I’m sure has drawn readership to him as they know they are getting an honest review.

Content Centered

While Alborz talked of things like SEO, promoting his blog to other bloggers and other promotional activities – he said time and time again that he was mainly interested in high quality content. Even in times when his site disappeared from Google he wasn’t distracted from his primary task of producing engaging content.

Exploiting the Weaknesses of Mainstream Media (Light-footedness)

I loved the way that Alborz talked about taking on the ‘big boys’ in his niche here in Australia. He spoke about coming home from car shows and posting news that very night and how the MSM sites would not publish articles for a day or two (either because of their processes or just because they didn’t work at night). This highlights the power of individual and smaller publishers to break news and beat the large players at their own game. I think the more that bloggers take advantage of the fact that they can do what they like without editorial approval and get content published fast the better.

Once again – a great interview if you’ve got a spare 45 minutes or so.

PS: one other thing that I liked about the approach that Alborz took was that he started out with three blogs on three topics and played with each of them until I worked out which one to focus upon.

I’ve talked about this a few times in interviews lately as being something that I did. At one point I blogged on 20 or so blogs on a variety of topics. Part of this was to see what topics worked and which I enjoyed most. I think choosing 3 topics like Alborz did is probably a better idea than 20 but the same thing applies. In the process of blogging on all three he got a sense for what his niche should be. Once he decided upon a niche he ditched the others and focused in upon his main passion – cars.

I think that this is a great way to choose a topic to write about.

Twitter for Beginners – 5 Things to Do as a New Twitter User

Yesterday I added all 538 Twitter users that submitted their details in our Social Media Love In. It took me a couple of hours to do – but I’m glad I did it because already there have been some wonderful conversations emerge.

As I was adding new people to follow I noticed that there were a real range of people in the list. There were Twitter users with thousands of subscribers and others with 20 or so.

Among the list there were quite a few who had literally just started using Twitter in the last 3 days (they’d started because of the Love-In itself).

I’ve had a number of these people contact me to ask me where to begin as a new Twitter user. As a medium it can be a little overwhelming to know how to use it – so I thought I’d put together this list of things to do as a new Twitter User (this is definitely pitched at the beginner).

update: Check out my new Blog TwiTip for more Twitter Tips.

1. Work Out Why You Want to Use It

One of the key things to do early on is to work out what your goal is. It could take a little while to work this out but the sooner you nail down what you’re going to use twitter for the better. There’s no right or wrong with how to use Twitter – your focus might be:

  • to use it on a personal level to share what you’re doing with real life friends and family
  • to build up you and your blog’s profile in your niche
  • to unwind and have fun with new friends
  • to build up your network in a niche

The list could go on (and it could include multiple goals) – however knowing them up front will help you as you explore how to use it.

2. Start Tweeting

One of the things that I noticed yesterday adding all 538 twitter users is that a number of them had only ‘tweeted’ once or twice (and a couple had never tweeted at all). I asked one person why this was and they said that they wanted to build their follower numbers up before they started using it.

The problem with this thinking is that one of the best ways to build your Twitter network is to be active. Your Tweets are your best advertisement for people to follow you – if you don’t have any (or many) what reason do people have to follow you?

So start updating your Twitter account. Don’t just write about anything – remember that every Tweet you make can either take you closer to or further away from your Twitter goals.

3. Start Following Others

I spoke to one new Twitter user yesterday who told me that the ‘Love-In’ had brought them over 100 new followers – but that they’d increased this even further by finding other interesting people to follow herself.

This user had discovered the power of adding followers on Twitter. She’d invested time into seeking out other twitter users who were Tweeting interesting stuff.

This process is a bit of an experiment and involves following people and then seeing if their tweets ‘resonate’ with you. Sometimes it means you’ll follow someone for a while and then unfollow them – but you’ll eventually find a group of people that you enjoy conversing with. Which leads me to my next point….

4. Get Interactive

OK – so you know why you’re using Twitter, you’re actually tweeting, you’re following what others are tweeting – the time now is to start reaching out to others and getting a conversation going.

This happens on a couple of levels:

Firstly it’s about writing things that others will want to interact with. The best way to do this is to ask a question. People are wired to reply to questions so start asking some. Keep them relevant to your goals and be willing to reply to people’s answers.

Secondly it’s important to respond to what other people are saying. The ‘reply’ feature on Twitter is key and should be used regularly, otherwise your use of Twitter will be quite one sided.

After a while you’ll find that the conversation becomes quite natural as you get to know others that you mutually follow and track what they’re doing, what your common interests are etc.

The beauty of being as interactive as possible with other Twitter users is that you’re talking to them in public and you’ll find your other followers and their other followers will chime in and make the conversation a little more multi-dimensional – it’s a great way of finding new friends to follow also.

5. Don’t Spam

Another thing that I noticed happening with a few of those that I added yesterday is that the only thing they were using Twitter for was to promote their own content. While it’s possible to do this I wouldn’t advise it. I do promote my posts on Twitter – but I try to balance them with other natural and organic conversation as well.

Another tip is to not just promote your own links, promote others. Keep them on topic and interesting and your followers will thank you for the links that you suggest.

But Wait – there’s more…

There’s a lot more that can be said about using Twitter – but I want to keep this as basic as possible for those just getting into the medium. Start with these five basic things, work on them for a week or so and then you’ll start discovering your own way.

For more reading on using Twitter you might also like to read my previous posts on the topic:

Million Dollar Blogger Interviewed

Yaro Starak has just published an audio interview with one of his former students (and now a coach) from BlogMastermind Alborz Fallah.

Alborz is behind a car blog here in Australia – a blog that has enabled him to grow his blog to a point where it’s been valued at over $5 million – have a partnership with a major media company, take on investors and more. It’s pretty impressive since he only started blogging in 2006!

This guy is getting luxury cars to review, is competing with the biggest car sites in this country and employs 6 full time staff.

Here’s the interview (there’s a transcript too) – it’s a great story with tips on writing content, finding readers and more.

PS: having just listened to this for the 2nd time what shines through to me is Alborz’s passion for his topic and his believe in writing amazing content. I think these things are central in what he’s achieved – great stuff.

How to Make Your Blog More Personal

It has been a while since my last video and in this one I’ll show you the reason why – my son Henri who arrived just a few weeks ago has been taking a lot of my attention of late.

In this video I want to talk about adding a personal touch to your blog and want to introduce you to some of the ideas that I cover in my previous series – Adding a Personal Touch to Your Blog.

I’m not talking about starting a personal blog where you share lots of personal information – what I’m focusing on here is building a blog that connects with people in a more personal way around your niche topic.

Over the last few years of blogging I’ve found that readers really respond well to when you approach your blogging in a more personal way.

Some of the ways you can add a personal touch to your blog include writing in the first person, blogging with emotion, sharing stories using humor, talking about real life activities, using bylines, featuring video and images, being honest about your mistakes and failings, taking personal notice of readers and blogging with a conversational voice.

When you do these types of things over the long haul readers get to a stage where they feel that they ‘know’ you and a blog becomes more than just a place where you dispense information and it becomes a place where people begin to connect.

I’d love to hear how you add a personal touch to your blog in comments below.

TeachingSells to Close Doors 31 July

teachingsells.pngOne of the best courses that I’ve personally participated in on the topic of teaching people how to make money online is TeachingSells – and it’s about to close it’s doors to new members (in just 7 days).

Every time I come to write about TeachingSells, its creators have added new courses/modules to it.

They’ve now completed adding this content and it stands as 10 courses with a series of bonus modules added (you can read about them in the closing doors announcement). There is so much rich content in this resource that every time I visit it I feel like a kid in a candy store – picking up profitable idea after profitable idea.

The 10 central courses are:

  • How to Create Content That Sells
  • How to Effectively Market Interactive Learning Environments
  • How to Create Killer Multimedia Content with Quick and Easy Tools
  • Seven Profitable Business Models for Interactive Content Developers
  • Your Blueprint for Building Membership Sites with Open Source and Low-Cost Software
  • Educational Marketing: Persuasive Promotional Content That Prompts Action
  • Advanced Positioning and Creative Adaptation Strategies
  • Quick, Easy, and Inexpensive Niche-Focused Membership Sites
  • Multimedia Storytelling – When the Medium is NOT the Message
  • Launch Strategies for Membership Sites and Training Programs

In addition there’s a great forum, library of resources and the support of great instructors – all with a money back guarantee.

If you’re not familiar with TeachingSells the best place to start is by downloading this free report that takes you through some of the principles behind it (the report itself is well worth the read even if you don’t invest in the actual course).

This is not a course about blogging for money – but it’s one that will help you extend what you’ve learned and achieved with your blog and take it further.

Doors close on TeachingSells at midnight on 31 July. Brian Clarke (one of it’s founders) writes that it will re-open at some point but it’ll be at a higher price point and in a different form.

Google’s Knol – A Wikipedia Killer or a Blog Killer?

Is Google’s Knol an attack on Wikipedia or Could it hurt Smaller Publishers like bloggers more?

So today Google finally opened up and launched Launched Knol (it’s been coming for a while) a place where people can publish ‘authoritative articles about specific topics’. It’s like Wikipedia in that articles can be edited by others – but changes need to be approved by the authors of the articles. Articles can be monetized in a revenue share arrangement where Google and the authors share income derived from articles.

My Three initial reactions to Knol

Google Competing with it’s Partners

My mind goes back to sitting in the offices of Google in Sydney where in a presentation by a Google staff member (a fairly highly ranked one) I heard him say that Google was not in the content business and didn’t ever want to compete with their publishers sites. He said that they were in the business of organizing the world’s information and not creating it. There was a murmur in the room at the time and a few raised eyebrows because we’d been hearing about these kinds of new products emerging from Google where they not only organize information but host it on their own properties. It’s a fine line – increasingly so with Knol.

Back in 2006 Google CEO Eric Schmidt was famously quoted as saying that Google was not a media company – “But that doesn’t make us a media company. We don’t do our own content. We get you to someone else’s content faster.”

Hmmm.

There’s a lot of talk going around the blogosphere today about how Knol is a Wikipedia killer – but I wonder whether it could ‘kill’ (or perhaps maim would be more appropriate) a few smaller publishers before they really hurt Wikipedia.

Update: for more thoughts on this see Journalistopia.

I can only imagine how highly Knol articles are going to rank in Google’s search results in a year or two. Wikipedia makes it difficult enough for a publisher to grab the number 1 ranking for many terms in Google simply because of it’s size and the number of links pointing at it – have we just seen the launch of a product that will mean #1 and #2 positions are generally taken?

Spam Haven?

I can almost hear the blackhat community running over to Knol to see how it can be manipulated. I’m sure Google have safe guards in place – but where there’s a will there’s a way.

Pro-Knolers

I’ve come across a number of people lately who have gone full time (or close to it) using Squidoo to publish articles and monetize them. They’ve build up profiles and search rankings for their Squidoo pages to the point that they’re able to generate significant incomes via advertising and affiliate revenue. I suspect we’ll see the same with Knol.

It’s going to be an interesting one to watch!

What do you think about Knol? Is it something that could help or hurt your blogging?