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7 Types of Blog Posts Which Always Seem to Get Links and Traffic

Keeping You Posted by Skellie.Here’s a really good question: what kinds of posts should I write to get more links and traffic?

It’s a question every blogger asks themselves. I want to answer it here by outlining 7 content methods that seem to work wonders on social media while also generating a lot of grassroots in-bound links.

Can you bring these powerful post types to your own blog?

1. Resource lists. The useful list of resources requires two ingredients: time and a good eye for quality. If a resource list seems useful many readers will bookmark or vote for it on face-value alone. If your blog is struggling, a useful resource list can be an effective way to spark up your traffic and links. Here’s an example of a well-done resource list:

Productivity Toolbox: 37+ Tools for Taking Action and Getting Things Done

2. Lists of tips. Quantifiable lists of tips are really attractive to readers because they explain in just a few seconds what a visitors stands to receive in return for their attention. You see them everywhere — and that’s because they work. Here’s an example of a good list of tips:

Nine Factors to Consider When Determining Your Price

3. Good advice. A quality advice-post generally sticks to one topic and provides in-depth info on it. In order to maximize the benefits, you’ll need to provide advice people are hungry for. Avoid over-saturated topics and try to work out what your audience wants to do but doesn’t yet know how. A good advice post can bring you a lot of success. Here’s an example of one such post:

A Guide to Creating a Minimalist Home

A taxi in Hong Kong traffic.
Photo by Steve Webel.

4. Arguing a popular point of view. People like to have their world-view affirmed. If you can articulate something a lot of people agree with, those who agree with you will champion your post. Those who disagree will probably still link to you, because their response won’t make sense otherwise.

This method works best when the topic isn’t too divisive. A reader won’t abandon your blog simply because you like Facebook and they like MySpace. They might abandon ship if you argue that capital punishment is necessary and that view is something they strongly disagree with. Make sure you’re not going to lose as many readers as you gain. Here’s an example of this method done well:

Ding Dong, Digg is Dead

5. Anything with a killer headline. When others link to you, it’s usually done in the space of a paragraph or even a single sentence. Bloggers don’t want to have to spend too long explaining what a post is about. Your headline should do most of the work for them. Sometimes a really outstanding headline is all it takes to get traffic and links. Of course, you’ll receive much greater rewards if the headline is matched by a great post. Here’s an example of this method in action:

The Web 2.0 World is Skunk-Drunk on its Own Kool-Aid

6. Q&As with high profile people. Interviews with well-known bloggers always seem to get links, comments and traffic. The nice thing about this method is that the only work involved is writing questions and approaching bloggers. The success rates for getting interviews are pretty high as most bloggers love talking about themselves! Here’s a clever example of this method in action:

Bloggers Face-Off: Darren Rowse vs. Jeremy Schoemaker

7. Best-of lists. At this time of year you’ll see a lot of ‘Best of 2007′ round-ups, though best-of lists seem to work well at all times. They’re effective because people are constantly searching for the ‘best’ of everything. It’s a term that promises high quality. It also generates interest because ‘best’ is subjective — what’s best for you might be mediocre for others. Ranked lists always seem to generate links, traffic and debate. Here’s a good, recent example:

Best Blogs of 2007 That You (Maybe) Aren’t Reading

Can you think of any other types of blog posts which always seem to get links and traffic?

Read more posts like this one at Skellie’s blog, Skelliewag.org and track her posts here at ProBlogger by subscribing to our RSS Feed.

AdSense Fix Inverted Exchange Rate Problem for Australian and New Zealand Publishers

Earlier in the week it was revealed that AdSense had made a mistake in calculating payments to some non US publishers. It seems that the problem was localized here in Australia and New Zealand and that Google inverted the exchange rate that they used to calculate how much publishers would be paid in their local currency.

Yesterday I chatted to an AdSense Australia rep about the problem and she told me that today AdSense will begin to advise publishers of the mistake and their plans to fix the problem. They’re sending the following email to publishers impacted by the mistake:

Happy New Year! We hope you had a wonderful holiday season.

It appears that the November payment you received was calculated using an inverted exchange rate. We’d like to let you know that you’ll be receiving an additional payment using the correct exchange rate to make up the difference. This payment will be issued to your bank account this week and we expect that you’ll receive it by Monday, January 7, 2008 if not sooner.

We apologise for the inconvenience and thank you for your understanding. Please let us know if you have any questions.

More on Hiring People To Write For You

Improve-BlogToday Collis Ta’eed from FreelanceSwitch has answered my question about how he improved his blog in 2007 by continuing to explore the topic of how to add new bloggers to a blog (similar to Andy’s previous post on the topic).

There are as many types of bloggers as there are people. Every blogger has strengths and weaknesses and it’s important to know what kind you are, so that you can play to your strengths and counter your weaknesses. My big weakness is that I’m terribly inconsistent. I am incredibly easy to distract and my main hobby is starting new things.

Knowing this means I know I don’t make a very good blogger in the traditional sense because I can’t keep one going all by myself. That’s why the best thing that I did in 2007 was to hire other people to write on my blogs.

In the last year I’ve had the opportunity to hire quite a few writers for both FreelanceSwitch and PSDTUTS – the two blogs I deal with. Here’s what I’ve learnt:

Multi-Author-Blog

(1) How much should you pay?

It’s taken a while to figure out how to price posts and at times we’ve paid as little as $20 a post. These days our minimum is $50 and goes up to $200 for some longer, specific pieces and commissioned tutorials. We choose how much to pay based on the writers experience, knowledge, writing style, and of course the complexity of the posts they are planning to write. People tell me that the industry standard for bloggers is $20 a post and I know that on the FreelanceSwitch Job Board I’ve seen people attempt to post jobs for $1 a post (I say attempt because we reject them :-)

Personally I tend to think that you get what you pay for, and since personally, I wouldn’t really want to write for less than $50 a post, it’s hard for me to ask someone else to. Of course the more you pay people the more a blog needs to make. Currently on FreelanceSwitch we spend $500-$1000 p/week depending on who is writing that week. That means that for most of its life the site has been a loss maker. Since we approached the blog as a business this was acceptable and we knew it would take a while to break even. I like to think our pricing is about right, but every month or so we revisit some aspects to make sure that it all makes sense in relation to how well the site is doing, and to ensure we’re being fair to the people who make the sites as good as they are.

If you are not sure what to pay someone, just ask them what they charge. But remember the less you pay, the less you should expect. Conversely if you’re paying a good amount, you should expect a thorough spell check, the occasional revision if necessary and a well thought-out post.

(2) Streamline the process

Even if all your content is written for you, there is still a *lot* of work to do. This work comes up in terms of helping writers choose topics, guiding them if they are unsure, liasing with them, putting the posts up, organising images, chasing them when they are late, organising invoices and paying them. For a long time we drowned under some of this admin, but with time we found ways to streamline things out. Here are some of the things we do to streamline the process:

  • We ask writers to send a PayPal Request Money order instead of an invoice. This means that all I need to do is periodically log into paypal and click Pay a few times, saving a bit of valuable time
  • We ask writers to place their posts straight into WordPress. We’ve only been doing this recently but it saves a lot of time and keeps everything in one neat place
  • Create a single email account to manage everything and make it something you can pass to a different editor if need be so that email addresses, writers details and so on don’t get lost in transit
  • Put the onus on writers to write/ask for payment. Initially we used to do a lot of chasing for things, but life is a lot easier if you move the responsibility to the writers themselves. We did this by ditching a rigid posting schedule and allowing writers to invoice whenever they chose (as opposed to specific days of the month – which we tried unsuccessfully to do)

There are no doubt lots of other things we can (and will) do to streamline managing a team of writers. The main thing is to find ways to cut out anything unnecessary. With about 10-15 casual and part time writers, even small admin tasks can escalate.

(3) Hire via the site

A great place to find people is through your site. Hiring via your site means that you know the people are interested and passionate. We keep a contribute form on the contact page for people to express their interest. We ask for an ‘audition article’ which we pay for if we use and that way its a very seamless, easy process. Some of our best writers contacted us this way.

(4) Hire well known writers

It’s also great to find well known writers. Some of the writers we have on FreelanceSwitch include Leo Babauta of ZenHabits, Skellie of Skelliewag and Chris Garrett of ChrisG. These guys are great because they all have their own followings. Additionally bloggers have a tendency of linking back from their own blogs periodically driving extra traffic and readers back your way. Lastly the great thing about these types of people is that although they tend to be more expensive, they know how to write posts that people want to read.

(5) Give examples of what you want, but let the author do the talking

Deciding how much guidance to give is always hard. Too much guidance and you rob your author of what they do best. With new authors I remind them what sorts of posts the site is famous for and what people respond well to. I also often give them some example headlines or links to example posts. Beyond that it’s good to leave your author to come up with posts that they want to write. When you ask someone to write about something they aren’t interested in, it’s a lot harder to get something great.

So there are my tips. The best thing about having other people writing is really that your audience wins because they get a variety of opinions and insights. And of course while other people are writing I get to dream up ideas for new blogs!

Give Your Readers Room to Participate in Your Blog

One compositional technique that I teach in Digital Photography is to give your portrait subject space to look into when framing your shot.

You can see it in the image below – but the basic principle is that if your subject is looking to one side of the frame – position their head so there is more space on that side of the frame – giving them ‘space to look into’.

Here’s an example (source image):

Space

OK – now the reason for this ‘rule’ (and remember rules are meant to be broken) is that when you leave space like this you not only give the subject space to look into (which gives an image compositional balance) – but you also give the viewer of the image room to participate in the shot.

When a subject looks out of frame like this the viewer of the image is left wondering what they’re looking at, it adds a little intrigue to the image and it can add an unseen point of interest to the photo. Don’t you just wonder who or what the old guy in the shot above is looking at?

In a sense this technique draws the viewer of an image into it – evoking their imagination – engaging them in the photo.

OK – so what’s this got to do with blogging? Have I finally published a post for his photography blog on the wrong blog?

Leaving ‘space’ in your Blog posts for Readers to ‘look into’

As I pondered the way that including ‘space’ in an image can draw those who see it into that image I realized that a similar principle can apply in writing a blog post.

In my first year or two of blogging I worked under the assumption that the more comprehensive my blog posts were the better they would do. As a result I worked hard on providing my readers with every single piece of information that I could come up with on a topic before I hit publish. This resulted in very comprehensive (and often long) posts.

However in time I began to notice that it wasn’t these longer and comprehensive posts that got the most interaction from readers – sometimes it was the quick, half baked ideas and less comprehensive posts that actually seemed to engage readers the most in terms of generating comments and incoming links from other blogs.

In a sense what I was finding was that more comprehensive posts left less room for readers to add something to the conversation – so they didn’t – whereas posts that left room for others to add from their experience and knowledge drew readers to do so.

How to Add Space for Readers to Participate in Your Blog

Now I’m not suggesting that we all only write posts that are rushed, ‘half baked’, not thought through and second rate simply to get more comments – but I do think that there are ways that you can be more intentional about creating space for readers to participate. Here’s a few methods to try:

Reveal What you Don’t Know – sometimes as a blogger it is easy to fall into the temptation of presenting yourself as someone who knows everything there is to know on your topic. While expertise is a good thing to have – I find that readers actually respect you when you admit what you don’t know on your topic. This makes you more relatable and enables your readers to feel that there’s room for their own experiences and expertise on the areas you’re not so good on.

Ask a Question – the simplest way to create space for readers to interact with your posts is to ask them a direct question. This can be tied to something you don’t know (see above) or be a question that focuses upon their experiences, asking them for examples of what you’re talking about, asking them to add points that you’ve missed etc. We’re all wired to answer questions – so include them regularly in your posts and you’ll find you end up with a more dialogical blog.

Run a Poll – polls are a great way to get reader interaction because they allow readers to respond and participate – without having to really put themselves out there in a public way. I find that the polls here on ProBlogger are responded to by a larger number of people than those who comment and I suspect this is because many readers do want to have a say – but like their anonymity.

Invite a Response – there are other ways that you can engage readers than questions and polls. Call your readers to some other type of action including to write a post on their own blog, submit a guest post or to enter a competition and you involve your readers in the activities of your blog. Every time they participate they become a little more loyal to your blog – having invested something of themselves into it.

Create a Space for Interaction – one of the lessons that I’ve learned over the last year or two at Digital Photography School is that sometimes your readers are just waiting for you to create a space for them to take their participation in your blog to the next level. I discovered this when I added a forum to the blog. In adding it I found that a community sprang up almost overnight. I didn’t need to promote it heavily, people just wanted to connect, share and have a say. They could have done this in comments – but they wanted more and when I gave it to them they responded.

As you’ll see from the above – none of these things mean you can’t write comprehensive posts that show off your expertise. To me it is more of an attitude or an issue of the ‘voice’ that you use in blogging. Some bloggers come across as being more closed and unapproachable than others.

I’d be interested to hear examples of how you’ve worked at creating room for readers to participate in your blog.

Bidvertiser Add RSS Advertising

One of the areas that many bloggers want to see improvement in when it comes to making more money from their blogs is in the area of RSS Advertising.

Today Bidvertiser started experimenting with just this.

I’m yet to try it for myself and there’s a distinct lack of information on the Bidvertiser site about this new development – but it’s good to see a new entry into the RSS advertising space.

From what I can piece together – the process of adding them to your site involves you verifying your feed and choosing a category for your blog/feed. If you give it a go let us know how it performs for you in comments below.

Update: I’m told by a contact at Bidvertiser that this will be officially announced later today. The process for getting involved is:

1. Join BidVertiser as a publisher (or login if you already are).
2. click the “Public Beta – BidVertiser ads for your RSS/ATOM feeds. Click here to start! ” link.
3. Type you feed URL
4. Verify your feed ownership by adding a unique code to your post
5. We will provide you with an alternate feed address that will include the ads
6. We will provide you with a “Subscribe” widget for quick subscription (there are detailed instruction of how to add it to each of the popular blog platforms).

The upside is that this is a potential way to earn an income from your RSS feed. The downside is that you need to promote a new RSS feed to your readers for them to see it (from what I can see). I can see this as being something of a barrier to many bloggers.

Blog Networks and How They Pay Bloggers

It’s always interesting to see how different blog networks pay their bloggers.

Valleywag today has a post on Gawker’s new blogger pay structure – they’re moving to a system where their bloggers are paid based upon traffic levels. It’s a smart way to go – we’ve been doing a similar system (base pay which is based upon how long you’ve been blogging with us plus traffic bonus) at b5media for a while now.

I think it’s good because it guarantees a minimum level of income that a blogger can expect to earn in a month but gives incentive to write the type of posts that get traffic.

Other systems that I’ve heard other blog networks using include:

  • Payments Per Post – a flat fee per post (I’ve heard of anything from a few dollars up to hundreds of dollars per post – depending upon the blog, topic, blogger profile and post length)
  • Revenue Share – where the blogger earns an agreed upon percentage of their blog’s revenue (I’ve heard anything from 20% to 80% splits)
  • Revenue Share of Certain Income Streams – where the blogger takes a % of one or two income streams and the network takes other income streams (for example a blogger might take 80% of AdSense revenue and the network takes the other 20% plus any other income from the blog). Another variation on this is where the blogger is allowed to use affiliate programs and the network takes advertising revenue.
  • Traffic Payments - some networks pay purely on traffic levels – a CPM model (ie blogger is paid $X per 1000 page views)
  • Flat Monthly Fees – the blogger is paid a certain amount per month if they reach certain posting goals.

I’m sure there are plenty of other blogger payment models used in other networks (there are plenty of variations and combinations of the above too). I’d love to hear of others you’ve heard of or used.

Sometimes Less is More – Post Frequency

Improve-BlogToday Skellie from Skelliewag.org talks about how she improved her blog in 2007 by reducing post frequency.

The best thing I’ve done for Skelliewag.org has been reducing my post frequency from (when I was able) 7 days a week down to 3 – 4 times a week. It’s allowed me to start freelancing, but it also doesn’t seem to have hurt the blog any. By posting less, I can pack a lot more into the content, making each post more link-worthy and more valuable for readers. It also gives the content more time to snowball on social media — and to gather comments.

It seems counter-intuitive, but posting less and packing more value into every post has given me more freedom with my time and allowed the blog to grow faster than before. That’s been 2007′s revelation for me, because I always assumed that as a blogger, you had to choose between one or the other.

How Adding New Bloggers to Your Blog Can Improve It

Improve-BlogToday Andy Beal from MarketingPilgrim.com answers my question about the thing he did in 2007 that improved his blog the most.

Without doubt, the best decision I made for MarketingPilgrim.com during 2007 was the addition of new contributors. We took on two paid staff writers and added almost a dozen other contributors.

Theses additions helped Marketing Pilgrim in a number of ways including:

  • A deeper range of opinion. Our readers are now treated to broader insight and views–which I could not have provided on my own.
  • More content for Google. With more writers, you produce more content for Google’s hungry spiders to digest.
  • Expanded syndication. The addition of new writers helped position Marketing Pilgrim as a leading source of marketing news–which lead to our inclusion in Google News.
  • More time for other projects. With the extra writing help, I was able to spend more time on research, development, and promotion for the site.
  • Keeping me on my toes. There’s nothing like having fresh ideas and writing styles to help you evaluate and improve your own writing. I learned a lot from our new writers.

While having an audience of 8,000-10,000 daily readers helped us to attract great writers, that shouldn’t stop even the smallest blog from seeking contributions. A writing contest or a simply request for reader submissions is often all you need to bring additional content to your blog. You don’t even have to pay for new content either. Often an author byline and link back to their site, is enough of a reward for most contributors–just take this post as proof! :-)

Andy Beal is the editor of MarketingPilgrim.com and co-author of the upcoming book ” Radically Transparent.”

PS from Darren: If you want to know more about HOW to do some of what Andy talks about above – check out this more recent post from Collis on how to add new authors to your blog.

Where is Your Favorite Place to Blog? [POLL]

It’s time for another ProBlogger poll. This one is a little light hearted – but could also be interesting.

The Question – Where is Your Favorite Place to Blog?

I’ve included five options – but feel free to tick ‘other’ and leave your answer in comments below.

Where is Your Favorite Place to Blog?
View Results


Looking forward to see how this one shapes up.