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4 Quick and Simple Ways to Increase Page Views on Your Blog

Keeping You Posted by Skellie.Skellie wrote this post. For more advanced blogging tips and strategies, visit her blog, Skelliewag.

When selling advertising spots on your blog the metric that advertisers value most is page views, or ‘impressions’. More page views equals higher value advertising spots on your blog. While the obvious solution to increase the value of your ad spots is to increase the amount of traffic your blog receives, you can also do a number of quick and easy things to yield more page views from your existing traffic.

1. Develop the habit of self-linking

I was recently referred by a friend to read a post at Steve Pavlina’s blog. I enjoyed the post immensely, and because it linked out to other relevant posts on the blog, I found myself spending several hours swinging like a monkey from post to post, devouring new ideas voraciously. During that time Steve probably squeezed about 10 – 20 page views out of my single visit.

Most bloggers don’t self-link anywhere near as much as they could. This is a particularly beneficial habit if page views directly correlate with your income. When a reader is deep into your post it means the topic you’re writing on is of keen interest to them and so, related content is also likely to be of keep interest. If you don’t make readers aware of this as you write, it’s a lost opportunity: not only for more page views, but also for a greater level of reader engagement in your blog.

2. End with related posts

Bloggers are increasingly using a WordPress plug-in to link to related posts at the footer of each post. This is a clever move because it gives readers options to continue at the point when they are most likely to be looking for them (when they have just finished reading one of your great posts). You can handle this automatically through the plugin and give up some control over what appears or hand-pick posts to link to, which will of course take more time but gives you maximum control over the links that are chosen.


Photo by nate steiner

3. Use your sidebar to build page-views

Think about the three best blog posts you’ve ever written. Are they on the main page of your blog right now? Chances are that at least one of them isn’t, unless you’ve hit a real purple patch at the moment!

Just because this wonderful post is not on the main page doesn’t mean nobody but the odd wandering search visitor should find it. Highlighting your best posts in your blog sidebar (usually under a ‘Popular Posts’ list) is an excellent way to drive page views while also keeping your best posts evergreen.

4. Create multi-page posts

Have you ever started reading a fun top 100 list at a website only to discover that they’d given each item its own page, forcing you to click 100 times? Most people will find this excessive, but it is a clever tactic if the content is actually worth it. Blog posts also make good candidates to spread long posts over several pages, and there is a WordPress plug-in designed to do this. Of course, it’s important to always be mindful of stopping before the point where it becomes frustrating for your audience.

Here I’ve presented just a few ways to yield a greater number of page views from your existing audience. I’m sure I missed a few good ones, so add your ideas in the comments!

10 Innovative Blog Business Models

Keeping You Posted by Skellie.Skellie wrote this post. For more advanced blogging tips and strategies, visit her blog, Skelliewag.

When people think about making money with a blog, they tend to think about things like AdSense and affiliate links. You write good content, people come to your blog, people click on links, and you make a bit of money. How much money you make depends on how successfully you can multiply this process.

However, for some entrepreneurs this method of monetizing a blog is just one part of a larger business model that is much more lucrative than advertising on its own.

In this post I want to highlight 10 innovative and successful blog business models that do more than sell ad space or clicks. Is there room for one of these business models on your own blog?

(Please note that this particular post does not contain affiliate links.)

1. Teaching Sells / Blog Mastermind (Educational course)

Copyblogger sells TeachingSells.com

EntrepreneursJourney.com sells BlogMastermind.com

This business model involves selling an expert course on the back of a blog. Each blogger is regarded as an expert in their field and their free content demonstrates that they have plenty of useful advice to give.

These courses may only appeal to a small percentage of the host blog’s readership, so they are usually priced at the high-end to compensate. For this reason, courses must focus on sharing skills and methods that the reader values very highly.

Most commonly these are skills and methods that will–hopefully–yield more money for the reader than they spend on the course itself. If the course doesn’t have the potential to earn the reader money then it must impart a skill that has a very high non-monetary value. A Chess course might be worth $99 a month to someone who is passionate about Chess. A course in Mandarin might be worth $150 a month to someone who is relocating to China in three months and is determined to be able to hold conversations with locals as soon as they arrive.

The determining factor in success with this model is an understanding of what your readers value deeply, and providing them with that, either by providing them with great value or the means to achieve it for themselves.

2. IttyBiz (eBook)

IttyBiz sells Ninja SEO School

Naomi Dunford writes IttyBiz for online marketers and entrepreneurs who are ordinary people with a tight budget. She says her consulting clients were always curious about SEO and how to start using it for their benefit. In response to the demand she wrote the ‘Ninja SEO School‘ eBook. If you click the link you’ll notice that it’s no longer for sale, and I hope the ProBlogger mention hasn’t made Naomi regret the decision ;).

By making the choice to say the eBook would only be available for a limited time, readers who would have post-poned the decision of whether to buy the product until later (and then probably forgot about it) were forced to act quickly.

This is a very clever method to overcome one of the eBook’s weaknesses as a medium: its format makes it seem like the product will always be in unlimited supply, which can often provoke lethargy in potential buyers. Books in bookstores go out of stock, but eBooks technically never do.

If your eBook is expensive then it’s highly likely a potential buyer will think about the purchase for several days and talk themselves out of it. By creating scarcity you can motivate potential buyers to action.

Though there are many blogs funneling into an eBook, I chose IttyBiz as an example because of the clever use of artificial scarcity as a marketing tool. (Though if you emailed Naomi, I bet she’d still sell you a copy!)

3. ProBlogger / FSw / Smashing Magazine (Job board)

ProBlogger.net sells Jobs.ProBlogger.net

Freelance Switch sells Jobs.FreelanceSwitch.com

Smashing Magazine sells Jobs.SmashingMagazine.com

Vocation-based blogs like ProBlogger (bloogging), Freelance Switch (freelancing) and Smashing Magazine (design) are a perfect fit with the job board business model. These job boards that stem from blogs are usually monetized in one of two ways: advertiser pays a flat fee to post their job ad, which is the most common method and used at ProBlogger and Smashing Magazine, or job hunters pay a small subscription fee to have access to jobs, which is the least common model and is used at Freelance Switch.

Building a job board is likely to require development costs of at least several hundred dollars and possibly over a thousand, so it may be best to wait until your traffic levels are healthy before adding something like this to your blog.

4. PSDTUTS / SEOmoz (Premium content)

PSDTUTS.com sells PSDTUTS PLUS

SEOmoz sells SEOmoz PRO

These two blogs both offer members-only content for paid subscribers. At PSDTUTS $9 a month gives the user access to a large library of .PSD artworks and tutorials from well-known Photoshop artists. SEOmoz offers its ‘Pro’ membership at $49 a month, for which you receive SEO tools, guides and extra blog content. Both membership models are supplemented by a larger proportion of free content that serves to bring potential members into the blog and also as an advertisement for the content offered in the membership program.

While members-only blog content can be a lucrative business model you should expect to meet with criticism from readers who are struck by the double-wants of experiencing all your content while also not wanting to pay for it. The internet provides such an abundance of value for free that some people perhaps stop thinking about the creator’s need to be rewarded for their hard work. You should remind them of this and then focus on those customers who see ‘free’ as a privilege, not a right.

5. SpoonGraphics (Freelance services)

Blog.Spoongraphics.co.uk sells Spoongraphics.co.uk

Chris Spooner’s blog is a good example of a supported freelance business model. Freelance services are offered on a portfolio which is attached to his blog. The blog content deals with design and presents daily opportunities for Chris to demonstrate his own expertise as a designer to potential clients who might be reading his blog.

While it might seem counter-intuitive to write for other people in the same field instead of ordinary people who might be looking for a designer, many freelancers find good work covering gaps for other freelancers. For example, a freelancer who only knows how to code might hire another freelancer to create designs for him or her. As the web makes it easier to connect with freelancers across the globe this kind of collaboration is becoming increasingly common.

6. Remarkablogger / Muhammad Saleem (Consulting)

Remarkablogger.com sells Michael Martine

MuhammadSaleem.com sells Muhammad Saleem

Michael Martine writes a blog about blogging and offers consulting services as an off-shoot to the blog, targeted towards businesses who want a strong blogging presence. Muhammad Saleem is a social media power-user who also advertises social media consulting services from his blog. The premise of this business model is to build a profile as an expert in a specific area, give readers a taste of the kind of insights you can provide and then offer consultations to those who want to benefit from your knowledge on a deeper level.

The rates you can charge and the amount of uptake you get will depend on your topic as much as it does on your personal brand. People with entrepreneurial aspirations are more likely to need and be willing to invest in a consultant because they fundamentally expect to earn back more than they spend as a result of the knowledge they’ve gained. A life consultant or sports consultant or any other kind of consultant who might not be focused on helping the client earn money needs to provide immense non-monetary value instead.

7. Pearsonified / GoMedia (Digital products)

Pearsonified sells Thesis

GoMedia sells vector graphics and Photoshop brushes

The ‘Thesis’ theme has been everywhere of late. Probably because its creator’s blog has over 5,000 subscribers and he also seems to have made the right kind of friends. If you’re going to sell a product you’ve built then nothing will help your cause more than having a popular blog to back you up.

The GoMedia design firm does more. It uses a popular design blog (almost 10,000 subscribers) to sell both design services and products: the GoMedia Arsenal vector and Photoshop brush packs. Visitors are drawn into the site via the blog content and can then be funneled into either the branded services or products on offer.

8. LifeDev, Zen Habits and Web Warrior Tools

LifeDev and Zen Habits sell Web Warrior Tools

A blog can also be an excellent way to support your entrepreneurial projects and give them a kick-start. Leo Babauta (Zen Habits) and Glen Stansberry (LifeDev) partnered to create Web Warrior Tools to provide a platform for writers to sell their eBooks and have someone else market them. Both blogs link back to Web Warrior Tools and were able to promote it at launch. Instead of having to claw out an audience from nothing, the Web Warrior Tools website was able to launch with pre-existing hype and an immediate user-base.

9. NETTUTS (Magazine model)

NETTUTS.com

Based on the success of the Gawker Media network of blogs it’s becoming increasingly common to see blogs run like print magazines, with a team of paid writers and an editor, and with an entrepreneur or company behind them, using advertising and other methods to break even and, hopefully, making a profit once staff and running costs are subtracted.

This business model can be one of the most ‘hands-off’ as you don’t need to be involved directly in the running of the blog. That being said, paying writers and an editor can be costly, so most successful magazine-style blogs are quite highly-trafficked in addition to having the starting capital to run at a loss for some time, at least initially. NETTUTS is a web development tutorials site that runs under a magazine model, paying tutorial writers and an editor out of advertising proceeds.

10. Sitepoint (Branded products)

Sitepoint sells books and educational kits

Sitepoint is an exceptionally popular website for web developers and designers. Part of that website is a network of blogs featuring web development news, tips and theory. Former and current Sitepoint bloggers have gone on to publish books under the Sitepoint brand, which are then sold from the Sitepoint website or through other channels (such as Amazon). The books are prominently branded with the website and blog logo.

Your branded products don’t have to be books. Some blogs sell merchandiseprint magazines, audio books and courses, and other products.

***

I hope this post will show you some of the creative ways people are making money through their blogs. It can be easy to approach the challenge of making money online from a very narrow angle and blinker yourself to rarer possibilities that may be a better fit with your blog.

Most importantly, don’t be afraid to trail-blaze and invent a business model that is perfect for your blog, even if it doesn’t exist yet!

How to Avoid the Physical Hazards of Blogging

hazards of blogging-health.png
Today Massage Therapist Lovelyn Bettison from Art of Balanced Living and Massage Therapy Benefits writes some tips on How to Avoid the Physical Hazards of Blogging.

Sitting in a chair in front of a computer for extended amounts of time isn’t the best thing for your health. As bloggers we do it on a regular basis. This puts us at risk of getting neck, shoulder and upper back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and lower back and sciatic nerve pain. Don’t be scared. I’m not saying that choosing to be a blogger condemns you to a lifetime of pain. If you know how to take care of yourself, you can prevent these problems from occurring.

I’m a licensed massage therapist. When I decided to start blogging professionally, I was well aware of the physical risks, but I ignored them and worked on my blogs for hours on end. I ignored the tingling in my palms and numbness in my fingertips and continued to work. I knew these were signs of carpal tunnel syndrome, but I didn’t care because I had a job to do. Then one morning I woke up, and I couldn’t turn my head to the right. The right side of my neck and my right shoulder throbbed with pain. That’s when I decided that I needed to change the way I work.

The Problems

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by compression of the nerve that runs through the wrist into the hand. This nerve is called the median nerve. The median nerve passes through a thin space in your wrist, along with the tendons that connect to your fingers. When these tendons become overworked, they get inflamed and put pressure on the median nerve. This causes the burning, tingling and numbness associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. If left untreated, carpal tunnel syndrome can cause atrophy of the muscles in the hand and loss of the ability to grip. Trust me, you don’t want that to happen.

The neck, shoulder and back pain associated with working at the computer come from bad posture and staying in one position too long. Sciatica can develop from sitting down too long. All of these problems can be solved by making a few simple changes.

Posture is Key

Don’t slouch. If you slouch with your shoulders rounded forward, you’ll get upper back and neck pain. When you’re at your computer you should sit with your back relaxed yet straight. That may sound like a contradiction to some, but it’s possible.

When most people try to sit up straight, they pull back their shoulders and thrust out their chests and end up putting more strain on their backs. When you sit up straight try to imagine you’re being pulled up from the crown of your head. Your shoulders should be relaxed. Your arms should hang loosely at your sides. Your head and neck should be straight. Place both feet flat on the floor in front of you about hip width or wider apart.

Adjust your monitor height. If you have to look up or down to see you monitor, you need to change its height. Most people’s monitors are too low. Try putting some books under it to change the height.

Buy an ergonomic keyboard. When you type your wrists should be straight. If they’re bent at all you’re putting yourself at risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. A good ergonomic keyboard is an excellent investment. I have a laptop, but when I’m working at home I use an ergonomic keyboard with it.

Get back support. If you have low back problems, get a chair with good back support or roll up a hand towel and place it in the small of your back.

Take your hand off the mouse. Holding your hand on the mouse causes tension in your neck and shoulders. When you’re not using the mouse let go of it. Learn shortcuts on your computer. This doesn’t only save time, it reduces the amount of time you use the mouse and that saves you the pain of not being able to turn your head. I learned this lesson the hard way.

Take frequent breaks. Get up every hour and move around the room. I’ve set up my work station so that I can work while standing up. If I’m working on something that I don’t want to take a break from, I’ll stand up for awhile. If you can maintain good posture and stand to work, it’s a good way to give your sciatic nerve a rest.

Self Massage

Self massage can also help prevent these problems. Here’s a simple massage that you can do several times daily.

Hold the hand that you’re going to massage in front of you with the palm up. With the fingers of your opposite hand encircle the base of the palm just above the wrist joint and squeeze gently. Hold that for a few seconds. This is to open up the area that the median nerve runs through.

Then massage your palm by placing the thumb of the opposite hand on your palm and the fingers on the back of your hand. Using a squeeze and release motion to massage your entire palm.

Use a similar method to massage up your forearm. You want to massage the muscle between the two bones of the forearm. You can squeeze your forearm between your thumb and fingers and move your thumb and fingers back and forth across the muscles vigorously. Do this all the way up the forearm to the elbow. Go over any areas that feel sore more than once to help loosen them.

Don’t massage the area in the crease of the elbow. There are a lot of nerves and blood vessels close to the surface there and massaging the area could damage them.

Rest your arm on your lap or a table so that your upper arm and shoulder are completely relaxed. Now massage your upper arm. Use your whole hand to squeeze and release the muscles.

Massage your shoulder by grabbing the large meaty muscle at the top of your shoulder and squeezing it while twisting it slightly. This may hurt, but it should be a hurts so good pain not agony. If your shoulder isn’t too tense, the muscle will slowly slide out of your grip on its own. If it doesn’t, just release it after a few seconds. Do this a couple times.

Massage the back of your neck by running your fingers back and forth across the muscles beside your spine. Don’t massage on the spine. Do this from the base of your skull to the bottom of your neck.

You can also massage the large muscle in the front of your neck. It runs from behind your ear to your collarbone. You can squeeze that muscle between your thumb and forefingers. It should slide slowly from your grasp like your shoulder did. If it doesn’t, just squeeze and release down the length of the muscle.

Do all of that again on the other side and your done. It should only take 5 minutes to do both sides.

Doing these things along with eating a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water will help you be a healthy, happy blogger.

How to Grow a Young Blog With StumbleUpon

Keeping You Posted by Skellie.Skellie wrote this post. She writes plenty more advanced blogging tips and strategies at Skelliewag.org. You can also get to know Skellie on Twitter.

It’s ironic that arguably the biggest challenges for a blogger come when they are least experienced–when their blog is just a few weeks or months old.

Any blogger will tell you that turning a new, undiscovered blog into a hot piece of web property is not easy. The Darren Rowses, Leo Babautas and Yaro Staraks of the world went through this same difficult teething period, like everyone else.

The accepted idea is that when you first launch your blog, growth will be very slow because you’re only able to toot your own horn to gather new visitors, by commenting and leaving links back to your blog, by asking for links and by guest-posting.

All these actions will help your blog grow, but it might take several months before your blog generates any kind of real traction and things start happening without you to push them along.

But what if there was a way to grow a new blog quickly?

I want to suggest that there is one method for growth of a new blog that can be more effective than any other, yet it’s commonly overlooked. It is very possible to grow a young blog with very little starting traffic mainly on the back of StumbleUpon. Here’s how.

The premise

How would you feel about receiving 1,000 visitors on the first day of your new blog’s launch? How would you feel about receiving 1,000 visitors on any day? This number might seem unattainable to you at the moment, but it isn’t. Not with a little preparation.

The ingredients for this strategy are:

  1. A network of at least twenty active StumbleUpon users.
  2. Stumble-worthy content.

Did you know that you can use the StumbleUpon toolbar to send pages to your StumbleUpon friends with a little message asking for a quick stumble? If your network of SU friends knows you and likes you, and the content is good, they’ll be more than happy to oblige. Each stumble can bring several hundred visitors to your blog. Reviews arguably carry even more weight when determining the amount of traffic that is sent to your content.

If you can get 20 people to stumble a single page you send to them, you could receive not just one thousand visitors, but possibly more than that. If your content is good enough to go viral on its own, you could receive several thousand, or several tens of thousands!

That’s all well and good, but it’s also easier said than done. And like most things that are easier said than done, it’s very much worth doing. You might have found yourself a little troubled at the two ‘ingredients’ outlined above. After all, how do you ‘build a network of at least twenty active StumbleUpon users?’ What can you do to make sure your content is ‘stumble-worthy’ (whatever that means)?


Photo by Toronja Azul.

The how

First, let’s deal with building a network of StumbleUpon friends. Once your blog takes off you’ll find this easy. Readers will ‘friend’ you and, because they like your stuff, will probably help you whenever you ask for it, as long as you’re willing to do the same in return. The problem is that your blog hasn’t taken off yet, so how do you create your network?

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t StumbleUpon. It’s not a great place to meet new people on its own. Instead, try emailing other bloggers who are also in the same situation and working to get their blog off the ground, and ask if they would like to be friends on StumbleUpon. If you want to increase your odds of that blogger actually being on StumbleUpon, look for a link to their profile on their About page. You could even go through the comments at ProBlogger. I expect most ProBlogger users know the value of having a StumbleUpon account by now!

The truth is that if you befriend people in this manner (being, for mutual benefit) you’re going to have stumble their stuff as much as they stumble yours. If you’re getting friends from anywhere you can, you’re not always going to like what they send you, but you should still be willing to stumble it as an investment in your own blog. Social media purists will disagree with me here, and if so, you’re welcome to build a network by other means (spending five to ten hours on StumbleUpon a week will do it).

If you have some choice as to who you add to your network, try to collect people who consistently produce content that you like.

You should expect this networking strategy to be successful because most bloggers feel guilty about sending their stuff to people for stumbles but really wish they could do it. Some do it anyway. I don’t know many bloggers, particularly new bloggers who are also going through a challenging ‘baby blog’ period, who wouldn’t welcome the approach of someone who is more than happy to stumble their stuff.

The logistics of this aren’t immediately obvious but they’re quite simple once you remember them.

Sending pages to others

To send pages, you have to install the StumbleUpon toolbar.

Once you’ve navigated to the page you want to send to another user, click ‘Send to’ on the toolbar and select the target user from the drop-down menu. You can send a message to accompany the page. Generally you should ask for the specific action you want (stumble, or occasionally a review), and most importantly, offer to help out the other person in return.

If you’re always asking for stumbles and never giving them, people will tire of you quickly. That being said, you should be vigilant to make sure the people you send pages to are actually stumbling your stuff. If not, there’s no need to be angry as it’s their choice, but you should work on adding a new, active user to your network in their place.

Creating content that works with StumbleUpon

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, you need to build your ability to create content that is well-optimized for StumbleUpon. If you are continually getting stumbles on content that is clearly not suitable for social media then the StumbleUpon algorithm is likely to stop sending traffic to your blog all-together. If all your stumbles are coming from mutual friends and not from unaffiliated users then this is a pretty good sign that your content is not actually stumble-worthy.

If it sounds scary, it isn’t. As long as you provide genuine value for others, your content should generate some stumbles without your help. Best of all, there are a few solid principles you can follow to create content that is consistently well-optimized for StumbleUpon traffic.

Here are two posts I’ve written previously at ProBlogger about writing great Stumble-worthy content and converting the resulting StumbleUpon visitors into loyal readers:

While pursuing this strategy, continue to expand your network of SU friends and send content to different people each time. There’s a lot of evidence to suggest StumbleUpon’s algorithm rewards blogs that are stumbled by a wide variety of users, rather than the same people all the time.

Try this strategy and see if you can get more traffic than ever before. Good luck!

What is the Real Value of a Social Media Visitor?

Keeping You Posted by Skellie.Skellie wrote this post. She writes plenty more advanced blogging tips and strategies at Skelliewag.org. You can also get to know Skellie on Twitter.

Bloggers are fiercely divided when it comes to deciding the value of social media traffic.

Some crave it or even become addicted to it, writing every post with an aim to hit the front-page of Digg and spending hours trying to promote their own content. Others feel it has little value and largely ignore it, citing poor rates of conversion into ads clicked and subscribers gained. Others loathe social media traffic for the atmosphere it brings (real or imagined) and will do anything to avoid being discovered by social media–usually the result of being hit by a slew of negative comments on a post that rubbed digg users the wrong way.

Regardless of which camp you find yourself in, I want to take an objective look at the real value of a social media visitor for bloggers trying to make money online. If I can be allowed to skip to the end before I’ve even started, my argument is that social media visitors are neither a godsend or a curse. Instead, they’re great for some things, and not so great for others.

1. Not for clicking on ads

It has been well-documented that visitors from social media platforms like Digg and StumbleUpon click on ads much less often compared to search visitors. Various theories have been put forward as to why this is, but I think it’s simply because social media visitors are ‘focused’ browsing. They are in the middle of doing something (using social media, usually at a fast pace), and are therefore less likely to wander off in a new direction by clicking an ad. Another reason is that social media users spend more time online than the average web user and are more likely to have developed a sort of ‘blindness’ to ads.

If all your ads are CPC (cost per click) then social media traffic is not going to add much direct monetary value to your blog–though they may go on to do so indirectly. Instead, focus on search traffic and links for direct income. By contrast, if you use a mixture of CPC and CPM (cost per thousand impression) ads, or only CPM ads, social media traffic will have more value for you. This is because it’s…

2. Really good for page views

A stint on the Digg front-page or becoming hot on StumbleUpon can send more visitors than many blogs receive in a month. Whatever these visitors are doing when they arrive at your blog, they still register on your stat counter and provide ‘impressions’ (page views) to present to potential advertisers. This may also cause your Alexa rank to increase.

Page views are the determining factor in how much a CPM advertisement is worth on your blog. More page views equals higher prices, and social media traffic can drastically increase your page views. For this reason, it’s an important source of traffic for anyone offering CPM advertising.

One potential pitfall to be wary of is that, though advertisers are probably only looking at number of page views and not the source, some will want to know where it all came from. In my experience, though, most advertisers don’t ask this question. If they end up buying an ad spot on your blog they might find the click-throughs to be disproportionate to the amount of impressions they’ve paid for. This is mainly an issue when the blog has a very high proportion of social media traffic compared to other sources. Advertisers who find click-throughs are low will be unlikely to renew with you. If this turns out to be a problem for your blog, try weighting social media traffic differently when calculating your rates. After all, social media visitors are…

3. Not initially invested in your blog

People often complain that social media visitors are disrespectful or plain rude, particularly when they come from Digg. However, it’s not hard to see why social media visitors would be tougher than your usual blog visitor. They may not follow many individual blogs. They may have clicked on a submission based on its headline and not quite known what they were getting. They might have clicked through to your blog just because they think your topic is stupid (maybe you write about a sports team that they despise, or a politician they loathe).

Search visitors are generally too busy looking for something to be nasty, and referral visitors are probably already reading other blogs in your niche, and are unlikely to find yours suddenly provokes them to lash out. When they arrive at your blog, they are partially invested in it. Social media visitors are not. At least, they don’t start out that way.


Photo by Johan Larsson.

A number of people are particularly bothered by the comments that digg users leave on their blogs. These are less troubling when you know why they occur. At digg, the comment culture there operates on a system of ‘diggs’ and ‘buries’. Comments that the community likes tend to get ‘dugg’ and comments the community doesn’t like tend to get ‘buried’. There isn’t any reward or penalty for either, but that doesn’t stop people fighting for imaginary brownie points. The quickest route to a ‘dugg’ comment is to post something insightful, add something to the content, make a joke about something mentioned in the story or to criticize or insult the content or its author–often trying to be funny at the same time, but sometimes not. Digg users have a lot of stories to read and, err, a lot of ground to make up on Mr. BabyMan, so they’ll usually go the quickest and easiest option: a witty remark, or a criticism, or an insult, or some combination of the three.

When the digg users get to your content itself they often approach commenting with the same attitude as they did when they were at digg, because digg is often where they’ve ‘learned’ how to approach commenting. Sometimes the results can be genuinely funny and clever, but other-times they can be a bit depressing! Usually this depends on the particular combination of digg users with your content’s topic. Sometimes digg comments will add a breath of fresh air to your blog and other-times you’ll wish you could delete them (and hey, you can). After all, they’re never going to come back, right?

Not necessarily…

4. Can yield new subscribers depending on the topic

A common question about social media traffic is why it often doesn’t translate into a subscriber boost. Some people claim it never does. Not for them, perhaps, but I’ve heard many stories of people gaining–and keeping–subscribers when their content goes popular on social media (and this is something I’ve personally experienced on my own blog).

For those who’ve never experienced a subscriber boost from social media traffic, you’re probably thinking: “OK then, what am I, apparently, doing wrong?”

The answer is: nothing. Social media users are generally interested in some topics in a deep way and not others. Just because they liked your post on personal bio-domes doesn’t mean they want to read about environmentally friendly inventions every day (thought it doesn’t mean they won’t either). This probably appeals to the visitor’s ‘surface interest’. They might read about the topic once in a while but not have any real passion for it. They might also find that, though they loved the post they just voted for, the rest of your blog is on a slightly different topic that they’re not interested in. After all, a lot of people bring new topics into their blog because they have more appeal to social media, but perhaps the social media visitor is interested in that topic and not any of the others you write about?


Photo by ojbyrne

From my own use of Digg, for example, I often Digg stories related to the environment and environmental innovation but I don’t subscribe to any blogs on this topic. I’m interested in it but don’t consider subscribing because I don’t have time to read blogs that don’t directly benefit the work that I do online. I do the same for content on video gaming, computers, technological innovation and so on. It’s not that I have a predisposition not to subscribe, but rather that I’m exposed to a lot of content I wouldn’t seek out otherwise, and that I am happy to enjoy in small doses.

It’s also worth remembering that many social media visitors interact with web content primarily through social media, rather than through RSS feeds or by bookmarking a handful of their favorite blogs. Their favorite social media platform delivers so much content they enjoy and is so time-consuming to be involved in that many–but certainly not all– don’t have the desire or time to follow blogs that may or may not produce good content in future. Is this to suggest all social media visitors fit this mould? Not at all, but it might help explain why they are less likely than referral and direct traffic to stick around for the long-haul.

If you do want to turn social media traffic into subscribers, make sure your social media optimized content sticks very close to the topics you write about on a daily basis. Aside from that, you might just have to hope that people interested in the topic of your blog are also likely to be reading blogs on a regular basis.

5. Likely to have a well-developed network

Social media is often just that: social. An active social media user might be in regular contact with dozens of other users and regularly share content with them. If your content hits a nerve (in a good or bad way) it is likely to be shared through that network by word-of-mouth as well as on the service itself. If the recommendation is positive then this can be a good way to get engaged readers visiting your blog. The recommendation of a friend gives them a reason to be much more invested than the average social media user.

6. Can trigger a domino effect on other social media platforms

If you look at the profile of an active social media user, you’re likely to find that they are not putting all their eggs in one basket. Many digg users have active StumbleUpon accounts, and so on. A stumble may also lead to a digg and delicious bookmark. A reddit may lead to a mixx. This can lead to a ‘domino effect’ where your content goes popular on more than one service. That’s not a bad situation to be in–unless your blog goes down, of course!

7. Can help promote other content in future

A social media visitor who votes for your content and then decides to visit your blog in future can be a valuable asset to you. They might submit future content to social media, or refer other social media using friends to your blog. The best way to have social media success is to have loyal readers who are active on social media.

It’s important not to fall into the trap of thinking of social media visitors as ‘this other thing’, separate from your audience–a teeming mass doing their own thing somewhere else and occasionally paying a visit. At least some proportion of your own most loyal readers are likely to be using social media.

8. Are good for search rankings

Digg, delicious and Reddit in particular are good for this. When a story becomes popular many social media users link to it, in addition to Digg itself, which is a very high PR site. Many people even autopublish delicious bookmarks to their blogs. Going popular on any of these services can connect dozens of high-quality links into your blogs (and, as always, a whole bunch of scrapers).

As much as I love StumbleUpon, it is weakest here. So much of the interaction with it occurs through the toolbar rather than through a webpage. There is no iconic page of ‘Top stories’ on StumbleUpon (I’m pretty sure there is a page for popular stories, but it receives little attention compared to the ‘front pages’ of Digg, delicious and Reddit). There is no general RSS feed to subscribe to. What all of this means is that going popular on StumbleUpon rarely brings a whole bunch of incoming links with it, causing it to have less SEO benefit than success on the others.

***

With the above eight points I hope I’ve led you to think about the value of social media visitors to your own blog. They can certainly provide plenty of value, but tapping into that value will require that you begin to get a sense of the faces behind social media traffic, and to understand the ‘culture’ of social media, which leads to certain behaviours being prevalent in its users and others not so. The more realistic your expectations are, the better you will become at harnessing social media traffic.

While reading posts like this does help, you can never truly ‘get’ social media and its culture until you immerse yourself in it. You certainly don’t need to be a power-user (and for most this is unlikely to be an efficient use of your time), but spending a couple of hours a week participating in a social media service you enjoy will provide invaluable knowledge about your audience. I’d suggest going with at least one of the big three that most people are using: StumbleUpon, Digg or Reddit. In fact, I want to suggest that using a social media service for even an hour will teach you more about writing social media optimized content than any blog post you could read.

You should always strive to know your audience better.

While I’m Away – Skellie Will Play

As this post goes live I’m jetting out of Melbourne to Las Vegas for Blog World Expo.

I’ll be away for a week and while I’ll probably post one or two posts from BWE I’m handing the ProBlogger Keys over to Skellie for the next week. If you’re not familiar with Skellie’s work you can see some of it at Skelliewag and Anywired. She also edits the popular FreelanceSwitch.

Skellie was also a regular contributor for ProBlogger for a number of months last year.

To get a taste for her work check out these previous posts that she wrote on ProBlogger:

  1. Building Your Blog With StumbleUpon
  2. How to Transform Readers Into Raving Fans
  3. How to Maximize the Benefits of Guest Posting
  4. How to Write Posts That Set StumbleUpon on Fire
  5. How to Develop the Habit of Writing Posts in Advance
  6. How to Create Social Media’s Favorite Type of Blog Post
  7. Value Blogging: A New Model For Success?
  8. Blogger or Mind-Reader? Six Ways to Give Your Audience Exactly What It Wants
  9. How to Keep Your Subscribers Forever
  10. Prolific Blogging: Five Methods I Swear By

Yep – it’s going to be a good week on ProBlogger. Enjoy!

If You’re at BlogWorld Expo Here’s Where We Can Connect

find-me.jpg
A few people have been asking about my schedule at Blog World Expo and where we can meet. Following is my schedule so far.

Image by Kris Krug

Win a Dinner with the Money Blogger Panel

Also – as part of the ‘Make Money Blogging’ panel we’re running a competition where you can win a free dinner at a nice steakhouse with the panelists. Market Leverage is picking up the tab and it’ll be dinner with Shoemoney, John Chow, Zach Johnson, Jim Kukral, Brian Clark and myself.

To put yourself in the draw to win you need to do two things:

  1. Add your name to the following form (don’t worry, the list will be deleted after BWE – its just to help us fairly choose a winner).
  2. Be at the Panel – we’ll draw the winner at the end.

If you don’t do both unfortunately you’ll not be able to win.

Here’s where you add your name:


Name:
Email:

My Schedule at BWE (these are the public parts anyway)

Friday 19th

All Day - b5 blogger summit – a full day of training that b5media is putting on for our bloggers. It is actually open to anyone with a BWE registration for free. See details on how to RSVP here. I’ll be doing a session on ‘finding readers’ at 11am. One addition to the shedule of this day is that Muhammad Saleem is going to do part of my session also!

3.30pm-4.45pm – How to Hire a Professional Blogger for Your Business – Panel at the Exec day of BWE.

6.30pm-8pm – Digital Photography School Photowalk – about 60 people are registered for this so far. Photographer Kris Krug is going to lead the walk. Get the full details of this here.

Saturday 20th

11am – 12pmMaking Money Online with a Blog – the panel that I mentioned above.

12.30 – 1pm – Book signing at the Blog World Expo bookstore (I’ve never signed a book in my life – this one will feel a little odd I’m sure)

6pm – Dinner with Make Money Blogging Panel (register above)

7.30pm onwards – BWE Opening Party

Sunday 21st

3pm – 4pmAvoiding Disaster: How Not to Use Social Media – another panel, this one on social media.

Outside of these times I’ve got a few other meetings and b5media gatherings planned and am looking forward to hanging at the b5media booth (we’re playing poker) and taking in as many of the sessions as I can.

I’d Love to Meet You

Apart from after the Money panel where I have to go sign some books I’ll hang around as long as I can after each one because I really want to meet as many people as possible and I know that with panels it can be hard to get all questions answered.

If you’re at BWE, please do come up and say hi – I’d love to meet you! Don’t be shy (I’m a shy guy myself) – please just come say hi!

Speedlinking – 17 September 2008

Here are a few links that caught my eye over the last week. I hope something in them inspires, teaches, motivates, informs or connect with you:

13 Ways to Promote Your Next Blog Post

Blog-Promotion-1You’re slaved over your post – crafting titles, opening lines, adding depth, designing the post to be eye catching and more – you select the perfect time for your post to go live and hit ‘publish’!

It’s over – another post ‘released’ into the wild – there’s nothing more you can do except sit back, see how people like it and start on your next post…. or is there?

Instead of seeing the moment of publishing a post as the end point in the posting cycle of a post – I see it as the birthing moment of a post. The work has only just begun and what you do in the minutes and hours after it goes live can exponentially increase the effectiveness of the post!

Original Image by Elephi Pelephi

Today I want to talk about promoting your blog posts.

A lot is written about promoting and marketing blogs (as a whole) but I’ve found looking at ‘promotion’ on a more micro level (at a post by post level) can be a highly effective strategy.

Having hit publish on your post – don’t just leave it to chance that your post will be read by people. Giving it a few strategic ‘nudges’ can increase the exposure it gets exponentially.

Let me describe a few post promotion activities that I engage in.

note: I don’t use all of these techniques on every post but instead see them as a variety of tools that sit in my blog promotion toolbox and pull out different ones on different posts depending how suitable they are.

13 Ways to Promote Your Next Blog Post

1. Pitching Other Bloggers

One of the most effective ways of getting the word out about a new post is to let other bloggers know about it. There isn’t much more powerful a way to find new readers than another blogger recommending something you’ve written to people who trust them.

Getting other bloggers to link to your posts is not always easy though – particularly in the early days of a blog or if you don’t have some sort of profile or pre-existing relationship with the bloggers that you’re pitching. However it isn’t impossible. Here are a few tips on how to pitch your posts to other blogs:

  • Relevancy is key - don’t pitch stories to other bloggers that have little or no relevance to their blog. You’ll just be wasting their time and yours.
  • Only pitch your best posts - you will have a much higher success rate at getting a link if you only do it with your best stuff. I would only ever do this with around 1-2% of my posts.
  • Give them an angle – don’t just shoot the link over – tell the blogger what the story is about and why it might be relevant to their blog. Save them a little work by showing how the post might be interesting to their readers.
  • Keep it brief – if the blogger wants lots of details about your post they’ll click the link. Be to the point, communicate what you need to say and then let the blogger get on with their day.
  • Be polite – don’t assume you’ll get the link or insist that they link to you – make the suggestion and let the blogger decide if it’s relevant for them.
  • Be personal – use their name, their blog’s name and show you are not just spamming thousands of blogs with your email.

Read more tips like these on pitching other bloggers at 13 Tips on Asking other Bloggers for Links.

2. Social Messaging

An increasingly large source of traffic for my own blogs over the last year has been Twitter and other social messaging sites (like Friendfeed and Plurk). I use a mixture of automated tools and personalized tools to drive this traffic. On twitter I use TwitterFeed to tweet items from my blog’s RSS feed.

I find that this works best if your blogs feed is not the only thing that you’re putting up on Twitter. Add your own personal tweets, link to other people’s content, ask readers questions etc – the more you mix it up the more effective your own automated tweets will be accepted and clicked upon by your followers.

Don’t be afraid to use social messaging to promote posts that have good discussion on them also. I find that 12-24 hours after my post goes live can be a good time to shoot out another tweet if there’s a particularly hot conversation going on (in fact this can drive even more traffic than the first TwitterFeed automated tweet as it alerts your followers to a conversation rather than just content).

3. Social Bookmarking

This is something that I only do on selected posts – those that I think could do well on bookmarking sites like Digg or StumbleUpon.

I won’t go into great depth on this topic in this post as I recently wrote on how to get to the front page of Digg and have posted other tips at Using Social Media Sites to Grow Your Blog’s Traffic.

4. Internal Links

A great deal of blog promotion tips focus upon how to promote your blog on other people’s blogs and sites – but a great way to promote your blog post is to do it on your own blog.

One thing that I try to do with my best posts after I publish them is to think about where I could promote it on my own blog.

While it is at the top of my blog’s front page (the primary place to promote it) if you think hard you’re bound to find a few other posts in your archives that you could link to this new post. Find places where you’ve covered similar topics before and add your link as a ‘related reading’ link or even add a link to your new post within the content of an old post.

You might also want to add your new post to previously written ‘sneeze pages‘ or your sidebar if it’s a key post. Every link you add on your own blog to your new post potentially sends your current readers to your new post but also helps your blog with Search Engine Optimization (internal links count too).

5. Newsletters

If you have a newsletter list on your blog and you’ve written what you consider to be a key blog post – include a link to it in your next newsletter. Doing this will drive traffic but also signal to your readers that it’s a pillar post that you feel deserves their attention.

As with each of the points above – only do this with your best and most relevant posts. If you do it with every post reader will become desensitized to your recommended reading.

6. Other Blogs Comments Sections and Forums

NOTE: tread carefully with this one and only do it occasionally and in a way that adds value.

If you’ve got a post that you think relates strongly to something that another blogger has written about or that is the topic of discussion on a forum – leave a link to your own post.

The key to pulling this off without being labled a spammer is to leave a genuinely useful comment on the blog or forum. The comment itself should add value, be right on topic and contribute to the conversation. Then if you include a link introduce it with a ‘I’ve written more about this at….’ type comment rather than just a spammy call to action.

The other option is to email the other blogger first and ask if they’d mind if you leave the link. You might even find that the blogger will add the link to the post itself (don’t assume this).

7. Email Signatures

If you use a service like Feedburner they have a little widget that you can add to your email signature that highlights your latest blog posts. I’m not sure how effective that this is at driving traffic but the principle is a good one.

I know of a couple of bloggers who do the same thing by hand – they pick one or two of their latest key posts and add links to them as ‘featured posts’ in their email signatures. Many of us have links to our blog’s main URL in our email signatures but it strikes me that a link to a recent individual post could actually be more effective as it sends people to your very best content – food for thought.

8. Followup Posts

If you’ve just written a post that you feel is important a great technique to give it a second round of attention is to write a second post extending the first in some way.

This technique is very powerful at adding a sense of momentum to your blog.

‘Treat every post as an introduction to your next’. Here’s an image that describes this process taken from How to Keep Momentum Going by Building on Previous Posts.

Extend-The-Life-Of-An-Idea

Also check out how I use Mind Mapping to extend posts and do followups like this.

9. Advertise Your Post

This one won’t be for everyone and is definitely only for those special posts that you write that you particularly want to drive traffic to – but why not put a little budget aside to promote a post with some advertising.

Key posts that have a high ‘usefulness factor’ to potential readers are a great way to find new loyal readers to a blog. Rather than advertising the front page of your blog a high quality post can actually be the perfect landing page for an advertisement.

There are a variety of ways to advertise a blog but one of my favorites is on StumbleUpon where you can actually start an organic rush of traffic to a good blog post with a relatively small budget. Learn more on how to do it at Run a StumbleUpon Advertising Campaign for your Blog.

4 More Ways to Promote Key Blog Posts

The list could go on – here are a few more quick tips on how to promote individual blog posts:

  • 10. Write a Press Release – some press release services don’t cost anything (or much) and they can be surprisingly effective with a little luck.
  • 11. Pitch Mainstream Media - some posts will have mainstream media appeal. Shoot a paper, magazine, TV or Radio station an email – you might get lucky.
  • 12. Article Marketing – while I’ve never done article marketing I know a few bloggers who swear by writing articles for ‘free article sites’ as a way to promote themselves. While they often include links back to their main blog in these articles I think there’s some strong arguments for doing it to individual posts.
  • 13. Add a Comments Competition – if you want to increase reader interaction on a particular post run a comments competition where you give one commenter a prize. To increase the ‘quality’ and not just ‘quantity’ of comments offer a prize for the ‘best’ comment rather than a random comment.

How do You Promote Blog Posts?

I’ve covered 12 ways to promote an individual blog post above. What would you add?

How have you done it? What success have you had?

Keep in mind I’m not asking about how you promote your blog in a general sense – but how do you drive traffic to individual blog posts?

Read the Full Series

This post is part of a series on how to craft blog posts. It will be all the more powerful if taken in context of the full series which looks at 10 points in the posting process to pause and put extra effort. Start reading this series here.