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Find a Blog Buddy [Day 15 - 31DBBB]

Today your task in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog is to Find a Blog Buddy.

While I’m an introvert and get energy by spending time alone – I’ve found that it is when I work together with other bloggers that my blogs grow fastest. Let me start with an illustration that some of you will be familiar with to help show the power of working together.

A Lesson from Geese

geese.jpgScientists have found that geese flying in formation in a flock can travel around 78% further in a session than geese flying solo. Working together on the task of flying is beneficial in a number of ways:

  • Aerodynamic Formation - The V formation of geese is a way that maximizes the energy expended by those flying as part of it. The bird at the front of the flock breaks the air for those flying behind it and creates a slipstream for them to be dragged along in. The birds behind also help those in front as the upward motion of their wing also creates an upward draft that propels them forward. This push/pull relationship ensures all birds in the formation benefit from the work of others.
  • Rotating Leadership – Even with the pushing effect of those behind it – the front bird uses the most energy and becomes tired more quickly than others. The geese know this and instinctively rotate leadership of the flock – allowing tired birds who have used a lot of energy for the sake of the flock to take a rest and be dragged a long for a while until it is their next turn up front.
  • Dropping out of the Flock – as a result of sickness or injury a bird will occasionally begin to fall away from the flock – unable to keep up. Instead of allowing this bird to fly on alone – at least two others will always drop out of the flock with it. This ensures that the injured bird will be defended and cared for until it is ready to resume flying – and that it will fly on with the benefit of flying in formation.
  • Power of the Honk – From the ground the V formation of the geese is a beautiful thing to watch – serenely gliding across the sky these birds look quite majestic and peaceful. However get up into the flock and you find its quite a noisy affair with the geese constantly honking at one another. There are numerous theories about this honking and it could be partly about letting each other know where they are so there is no midair collisions) but many believe that this honking is actually about creating an environment of success and mutual encouragement. It reminds me of when I used to play football at school and before the game would begin all the boys would gather in the locker room to whip themselves into a frenzy – shouting meaningless stuff about what they’d do to the opposition, slapping each other on the back (and bums) and basically creating an environment where we thought we could conquer the world.

As a result of some of these dynamics the geese can fly amazing distances without stopping for rest – so much further than if they tried to do it alone.

Advantages of Working Together as Bloggers

In the same way – I’ve noticed that bloggers who work together often last longer and have more success in their building of their blogs. There are many benefits of finding another blogger (or a small group of bloggers) and committing to work together for the common good of your blogs.

Here are 10 benefits (taken from a great article in which each point is expanded upon in our archives The Power of Collaboration in Today’s Blogging World by Eric and Sean):

  1. You can feedback on posts, prior to pressing publish.
  2. You can have someone to vent to, who understands your situation.
  3. You can work on projects together.
  4. You can share link love.
  5. You can share each others posts through social media and with other bloggers.
  6. You can share communities.
  7. You can help each other stay motivated as you share encouragement.
  8. You can guest post for each other.
  9. You can share each others talents.
  10. You’ll have twice the blogging power at your disposal.

How to Find a Blogging Buddy

So how does one find a blogging buddy? Let me suggest two things:

  1. First go and read this article which is written on the topic – How to Find a Blog Buddy (there’s no point me rehashing those 7 points here).
  2. If you’ve not already joined the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Forums – head over there and start networking. There are 1300 or so bloggers already signed up and interacting and we’ve set up a special area specifically for Collaboration. Just keep in mind that this forum is for 31DBBB participants so if you join you need to be committed to the daily tasks and working together around them.

My dream with the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge is that participants not only come away from the 31 days having learned and done a few exercises – but that they come away feeling connected to other bloggers who have shared the experience and who are looking to work together.

Together we know and can achieve a lot more than any single one of us.

Parting Advice in Building Blog Buddy Relationships:

As you head off to start connecting with other bloggers let me leave you with a few words of advice:

1. Make it Mutually Beneficial - these types of relationships are best when both parties come out of the interaction better off. It’s a give and take thing so make sure both parties contribute and benefit in tangible ways.

2. Attempt to Find someone Within or in a Similar Niche - this won’t be possible for everyone (there are a few people blogging with quite narrow and specialized focuses) however where you can – try to build relationships with people in similar niches to you. This will open up great opportunities for you on many levels. If you can’t find someone in your niche all is not lost. You can still learn a lot from one another when you have different topics.

3. Find other bloggers on your level - when I’ve suggested this in the past I noticed a lot of bloggers approaching just successful ‘A-list’ type bloggers. While there’s nothing wrong with building a relationship with a larger blogger – there’s also something really powerful about finding another blog at a similar stage to you. This means you’ll be both going through similar challenges at the same time and can worth through them together.

4. Make Each Others Blog Better – my parting advice is to commit to make each others blogs better. While most of us are committed to making our own blogs better (and should be) something quite powerful can happen when we take that attitude with another persons blog too.

“Synergy is the highest activity of life; it creates new untapped alternatives; it values and exploits the mental, emotional, and psychological differences between people.” - Stephen Covey

PS: see the forum discussion of this task and teaching here.

Want More?

This task is a sample of one of the tasks in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook – a downloadable resource designed to reinvigorate and revitalize blogs.

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Update a Key Page on Your Blog [Day 14 - 31DBBB]

This post is an excerpt from the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook

Today your task is to update some of the key pages and posts on your blog.

What are the most important pages on your blog?

This is an interesting question to ponder for a few minutes…. in fact, why not do that before reading on.

What pages or posts on your blog do you see as most valuable?

I sat down and asked myself this question earlier in the week and identified 10 or so pages on my blogs that for one reason or another were more important than others.

The reason I did the exercise was because that day I’d had the realisation that while every page on my blog is important – there are pages on most blogs that are more powerful than others at helping you to achieve your goals as a blogger.

However it also struck me while thinking about it that some of these important pages need updates from time to time.

So today your task is to spend time identifying key posts and pages on your blog and to give them an update.

Let me explore a few of these pages and suggest some ways that they might need an update:

Let’s start with the most obvious page first….

Your front page

This a fairly obvious one – most blogs get more traffic to the front page of their blog than any other. Here at ProBlogger my front page gets a little under 20% of all traffic on the site.

It’s the page I usually promote on business cards, in my email signature, on profile pages of social media sites and the page that others mentioning my blog on their sites refer people to. It’s also a page that people landing on old posts on my blog often head to next to see what the site is about.

Update it - there are a variety of ways that one can update the front page of their blog. These range from complete makeovers through to tweaks. The makeover/overhaul end of the spectrum is a little beyond the scope of this challenge so let me suggest a few smaller ideas:

1. First Impressions – what first impression does a new reader coming to your front page get? Do they know what your blog is about immediately? Does your blog’s title tags, header, tagline etc strongly communicate what your blog is about? Are their eyes drawn to any one important element or are things cluttered?

2. Sidebar - most blogs have a sidebar on every page – but it probably gets looked at more on your front page than any other. Over time sidebars tend to become cluttered with lots of buttons and links – perhaps it is time for a spring clean with the objective of only leaving useful and important information there.

3. Headers/Logo - one way that you can give your front page (and other pages on your blog) a refresh without doing a full redesign is to develop a new logo/header for your blog. This is not something to rush but perhaps today is a day to begin thinking about a new look and brand for your blog.

4. Think about Objectives and Call to Action – one question to ask when looking at your blog’s front page is ‘what are your objectives?’ What do you want people to do when they arrive on your blog for the first time (remember your front page is a logical place for new people to be visiting)? Do you want people to subscribe to an RSS feed or newsletter, click an ad, tell a friend, drive them to your best content, buy a product, hear your story…. what do you want them to do? Once you’ve identified your objective you can then position a call to action in a prime location on your blogs front page.

The front page of your blog is very important – but there are others. Let me suggest a few:

About Page

The about page of a blog may not get as much traffic as others – but it is one of the most important ones that you can spend time developing. The reason I believe this is that it can be a very influential page.

Think about who might read an about page. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that those reading your blog’s about page are going to be people in ‘investigation mode’. My suspicion is that those clicking on ‘about’ links are going to be:

  • first time readers wanting to know whether this is a site for them
  • potential partners/advertisers/collaborators/journalists/PR people/other bloggers etc wanting to know if they should invest time in building a relationship with you

It stands to reason that it’s a page you’ll probably want to have spend some time on recently to keep up to date, to think about how you call people to action etc.

Probably the biggest two mistakes that you can make when it comes to an about page are:

  1. Not to have one
  2. To leave it as the ‘default’ about page

Contact Page

During the last week I had an email from Becki who is doing the 31DBBB challenge. She wrote:

“I read all 700+ comments to the day 2 post and searched for people who have blogs in a similar niche as me. I was hoping to get a link on their site and to cooperate in some way, and am amazed that most have no method to directly contact the author.”

Becki was actively wanting to reach out to other bloggers in her niche with the hope of working with them in mutually beneficial ways to build their blogs. But due to the fact that many bloggers didn’t have any way to be contacted they missed out on a potentially fruitful relationship.

Do you have a means of being contacted on your blog? If so – is it up to date?

High Traffic Pages

Most blogs that have been around for a while have at least a handful of posts in their archives that generate a higher number of page views than other posts. This can be the result of search engine traffic, the result of another site linking to you, a social media site making a page popular etc.

This is an important page on your blog as it is a gateway where potential new loyal readers are entering.

The problem that many blogs have is that those entering your blog in these gateways often turn right back around and leave again.

Spend some time today identifying the most visited posts on your blog using a blog stats program (Google Analytics is one that I use and recommend – but even using a blog platform like WordPress’s native stats package should reveal what pages are getting visited most).

Once you’ve identified some key pages – make sure they are up to date and as helpful to readers as possible – but also think about how you can make that post more ‘sticky’. You could do this by:

  • adding some suggested further reading links at the end that point to other key posts on your blog
  • adding an invitation to subscribe to your blog at the end (or even at the start of the post)

Other key pages

Many blogs have other key pages on them that often go for months and months (if not years and years) without an update. These include ‘advertise with us’ pages, ‘recommended reading’ pages, ‘subscribe’ pages etc. Almost any page linked to from your navigation menu probably fits as these will be links people looking around your blog for the first time will probably be visiting.

Enough talk – go update some pages! Once you have – share with us how this exercise went in comments below. (Update – You can also share your results and exchange feedback with others in the challenge over at the forum: Day 14 – Update a Key Post or Page on Your Blog)

Want More?

This task is a sample of one of the tasks in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook – a downloadable resource designed to reinvigorate and revitalize blogs.

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Take a Trip to the ‘Mall’ and Improve Your Blog [Day 13 - 31DBBB]

This post is an excerpt from the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook

ShoppingToday’s task in the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog project is to go Shopping!

OK – I can hear what you’re probably thinking:

“What? This ProBlogger dude has lost his mind – what does shopping have to do with blogging?”

Stick with me for a second and let me explain….

The reason I want to encourage you to go shopping is twofold:

A. It’ll get you away from your blog for a bit - I was chatting with another blogger yesterday and we both admitted to each other that we’d been in our PJ’s all day blogging (it was 4pm for me) and needed to get out more – sad but true.

B. It’ll give you a chance to do some observation exercises that could help your - this is the main reason for today’s task and is based upon an experience that I had today at a local shopping center (or ‘mall’ as many of you non Aussies would call it).

The Exercise:

1. Step away from the Computer (come on, you can do it)

2. Grab a notebook and pen (do you remember them? They are the things you used to use before your primary form of communication involved typing)

3. Head to your local shopping center/mall/CBD shopping area (easier for some than others I realize – apologies to those in rural areas, this may or may not work in your local general store)

4. Once at the ‘mall’ take 30 minutes or so to go ‘wandering’ with no agenda (don’t do your groceries) except to ‘watch’ and ‘observe’ in some of the following ways:

  • Who is there? Who are they with?
  • What are they doing?
  • What are they buying? What products are particularly in demand at the moment?
  • How do they make their buying decisions?
  • What are the retailers doing to get people’s attention and stand out?
  • What messages are they using in their marketing?
  • What colors/design techniques are in at the moment?
  • What other things are ‘hot’ or in fashion?
  • What sales techniques are sales staff using?
  • What are retail outlets doing well? What are they doing poorly?

5. As you watch, make some notes. Don’t attempt to find any ‘lessons’ or try to tie it back to your blog yet.

6. Once you’ve spent half an hour or so on ‘observation mode’ find a spot to sit down (a food court perhaps) with a coffee and go over the things that you’ve noticed and see if there’s any lessons there that you might be able to apply to your blogging?

This process might seem a little random and pointless – but it’s something that I’ve done on numerous occassions over the last few years and each time that I’ve done it I’ve come away with at least one new idea that I want to apply in my blogging.

Some of the ideas have come directly from things I’ve seen retailers doing in their marketing (for example, today I saw a store using an attention grabbing technique that I want to try to apply to one of my blogs to draw readers eyes) – while others are more lessons about ‘people’ and how they operate and once or twice I’ve even seen illustrations to use for posts or even ideas for new blog post topics. Once I even spotted a trend that gave me an idea for a new blog.

If nothing else it’ll get you out of the house for a bit!

I’d love to hear your experiences of this exercise in comments below!

Update: Here’s what I learned on MY shopping expedition when I first posted this exercise in the last 31 Day Challenge – I hope it gives some ideas on how this might work out.

Update #2: They’re talking about this over at the 31DBBB forum: Day 13 – Visit a ‘Mall’ (really… a Mall) You should join them!

Want More?

This task is a sample of one of the tasks in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook – a downloadable resource designed to reinvigorate and revitalize blogs.

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Develop an Editorial Calendar for Your Blog [Day 12 - 31DBBB]

This post is an excerpt from the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook

Yesterday your task in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge was to come up with a list of at least 10 post ideas for your blog. The idea was to spend time before you needed posts coming up with ideas. Doing this can release you later on to just write instead of having to brainstorm ideas every day.

Today’s task is to take the list you created yesterday and to plan your posting schedule (or editorial calendar) for next week.

This is something I attempt to do on a weekly basis for each of my blogs (I usually do it Sunday night or Monday morning).

How to Develop a Weekly Editorial Calendar [or at least how I do it]

1. Calculate how many posts you want to post in the coming week on your blog.

2. Set up a spreadsheet or table in a word document that has a slot for each post and the date and time that the post needs to go live on the blog.

3. Take the list of ideas that you’ve previously brainstormed and begin to slot them into the empty slots in the table. As I do this I often get other ideas that I’d not previously thought of for posts that might make good followup posts to those I’m planning. I slot these into the schedule too.

4. For each post that you slot in write a sentence or two about what the post is about (so you’re able to remember later in the week). I often also take a moment or two at this point to brainstorm some main points for the post. If any examples, illustrations, pictures or related posts that I’ve previously written come to mind I make note of these too.

Let me say at this point that what I come up with after going through this process is not always the way that I roll out posts in reality. My blogging style is a little more fluid than this and I tend to add new posts into the mix, reorder posts and extend single posts into series.

However – going through this exercise is fantastic because it means I’ve got a week’s worth of post ideas at my finger tips. It also means that for each post I’ve got ideas that I can use when writing the post – this gives me a real head start and means that I can usually get right down to business and start writing on the days I need to do the writing of posts.

Another Editorial Calendar idea to Consider

Another way that some bloggers approach editorial calendars is to come up with a weekly rhythm for their blog. They assign a different type of post for each day of the week and stick to that rhythm over the long term.

For example Mondays might be ‘list post’ day, Tuesdays might be ‘link post’ day, Wednesdays might be ‘opinion/rant’ day, Thursdays might be ‘review’ day etc. In this way they know the style of post for each day and then just have to slot in topics that fit each style.

The above two methods are only two suggestions of many and there are many variations on the idea of blog editorial calendars that you might like to explore. Here are a few posts that pick up the idea from archives here at ProBlogger:

How did you find this process? Have you got next week’s Editorial Calendar set up? Share in the comments, or join the discussion over at the forum: Day 12 – Develop an Editorial Calendar

Want More?

This task is a sample of one of the tasks in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook – a downloadable resource designed to reinvigorate and revitalize blogs.

Join over 14,000 other bloggers and Get your Copy Today.

Come up with 10 Post Ideas [Day 11 - 31DBBB]

This post is an excerpt from the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook

Ever run out of things to write about on your blog?

If your answer is yes – you’re not alone.

One of the biggest challenges facing bloggers with blogs that have been around for longer than a few months is to come up with fresh content on a regular basis.

Today your task in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge is to do an exercise that will identify a range of post ideas that you can use when stuck for an idea in future.

The key with this process is not to put yourself under pressure to come up with completely new and out of the blue ideas for every post you write. Instead – this process taps into what you’ve recently written on your blog and helps you to identify ways to extend those ideas.

The beauty of this is that you actually end up building a sense of momentum on your blog where your posts build upon and relate to what you’ve previously written rather than just writing a collection of posts that don’t really build in any one direction.

Here’s the mind mapping method that I’ve used (note: I’ve talked about this previously so it could be familiar to some).

1. The Set Up

Get a whiteboard, piece of paper, note book, tablet pc or something else to write on (there are also various mind mapping tools and software options out there – but I find a pen and paper can work just fine) and draw five circles across the middle of the page. In each circle write the titles of the last five posts on your blog (if you want to do this more comprehensively go back further and do it with more posts).

mind mapping-1

2. Extend Your Previous Posts

Now take each post in turn and spend a few minutes brainstorming on ways that the post could be ‘extended’. Most posts that you write will be able to be ‘extended’ in any number of ways including:

  • picking up a question or idea that a reader asked in the comments on that post
  • exploring the opposite point of view from the post
  • taking a ‘news’ post and writing an ‘opinion’ piece about it
  • taking a ‘theoretical’ type posts and writing something that helps people to ‘DO’ it
  • expanding upon ideas glossed over in passing in the previous post

The list could go on – really it is about finding ways to take ideas in a previous post and expanding upon and extended them.

For each idea draw a line out from the circle, draw a square (or use a different color) and write the idea inside of it.

The key at this point is to let yourself be as creative and outside the box as you want. Any idea is allowed at this point.

Let me take an older post of mine (why you should use AdSense on Your Blog) and show you how it might work:

mind mapping-2

At this point I’ve got 7 potential new posts to write that extend upon my original one – coming up with them took me 2-3 minutes – if I were doing this seriously I’d give it more time and come up with 20 or so posts.

These ideas are logical next steps for readers wanting to explore this topic – some of them based upon actual questions by readers. Do this with the other four posts you’ve written and you’ll have plenty of ideas for new posts to cover in the coming week or two.

3. Extend Further

You might want to stop this exercise at this point if you feel you’ve got enough topics to keep you going – however while you’re in a brainstorming frame of mind – why not take it a step further and think about how you might extend the topics you’ve come up with. The beauty of thinking forward even further is that you could quickly come up with a further 10 or so posts and be able to map out the next few weeks of blogging.

Lets do it now with the post above – just for fun (click to enlarge).

mind mapping-3

You can see that I found some posts easier to extend than others. This is OK as not every post is in need of a follow up one – while others will have multiple next steps (some will even have a longer series of posts that you could run).

You can take this exercise as far as you’d like into the future (you get the idea I’m sure so I won’t keep going).

From the example above you can see that I’ve come up with 15 ideas (not bad for 5 minutes of brainstorming) – some of them for multiple posts (series and ongoing weekly columns). Do it with more than one post and you will find that you’ll often come up with more posts than you can actually use on your blog.

The key when you do it is to let your creativity run wild (because it can take you in some wonderful directions) but then to be ruthless in culling ideas that don’t actually add anything to your blog. Remember – everything that you post on your blog either adds to or takes away from your blog’s perceived value – so not everything that you come up with should make it through to the front page of your blog.

Your Task Today

Your Task Today is to come up with a list of at least 10 future topics to write about. At this point your list should be not much more than the topic or title of your post. If you’re feeling inspired you might like to choose one of them to begin to shape into an actual post – but don’t feel you need to do that yet. Tomorrow we’re going to take the list of topics and help you to take them to the next step by creating an editorial calendar for your next week of blogging.

PS: Another Approach to this Exercise for New Blogs

I know that some bloggers doing the 31 Day challenge have very new blogs and perhaps don’t have too many posts in their archives to base mind mapping upon. If this is you – you can take the same principle but instead of making your five starting circles previous posts – make them ‘categories’ that your blog might cover.

For example if your blog is about personal finance you could make your starting circles sub topics of that overarching topic. They might be ‘budgeting’, ‘saving’, ‘investing’, ‘credit’ and ‘Career’. Once you’ve got your categories or sub topics – you can then pick up the exercise at step #2 with extending those sub topics into post ideas or topics within the sub topic.

Update: Share your ideas and see how others are doing over at the forum post for the 31DBBB Day 11 Daily Task!

Want More?

This task is a sample of one of the tasks in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook – a downloadable resource designed to reinvigorate and revitalize blogs.

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Set Up ‘Alerts’ to Monitor What is Happening in Your Niche [Day 10 - 31DBBB]

This post is an excerpt from the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook

AlertI’m often asked by friends, family and readers how I spend my time on an average day of blogging.

Those asking are often surprised to hear that while ‘writing‘ is one definitely one activity that I do a fair bit of that there are quite a number of other activities that take up quite a bit of my focus.

One such important activity that I spend considerable time on as a blogger is ‘watching’, ‘monitoring’, ‘listening to’ and ‘reading’ what others are writing on their blogs or social media accounts.

Reasons to Be Aware of What Others are Talking About in Your Niche

There are quite a few reasons that bloggers monitor what’s being said on other blogs and in the news on certain topics. These include:

1. Ideas for Posts – one of the main challenges that bloggers face at different times is running out of things to blog about. Keeping abreast of what others are writing about gives you an almost unlimited supply of ideas and helps you to keep your posts on topic with what is buzzing in your niche at any given point of time.

2. Awareness of Breaking News - this is more relevant for some niches than others but sometimes knowing when a story is breaking in your industry can be very important. Being unaware of such stories can make your blog look out of touch to readers wanting to know the latest.

3. Profile Building and Perceived Expertise - bloggers who are obviously aware of what else is happening in their niche are often seen as experts and authorities in their industry. I know of a number of bloggers and twitter users who’ve built profiles for themselves simply by having their finger on the pulse of their niche and linking to interesting and useful content on other sites.

4. Networking – using some of the ‘alert’ tools below enables you to know who is talking about issues relevant to your niche within a short time of them doing so. This enables you to make connections and build relationships with these people.

5. Reputation Management - knowing quickly when others are talking about you, your company, your brands and your blog is valuable information as it enables you to not only build relationships with those who are saying positive things about you but also manage negative talk.

There are other reasons to be aware of what people are saying in your niche – but lets move on to some of the ‘how to do it’.

Today your task is to set up a variety of ‘alerts’ or ‘watch lists’ for your blog’s niche.

There are many services around to help you keep track of what people are writing. I’d love you to suggest those that you use in comments below – but here are a handful that I regularly use:

Google-Alerts

  • Google News and Blog Alerts - Google’s alerts will show you any mention of keywords in only ‘news’ sources (for example newspapers), on blogs, in videos, on the ‘web’ or even in their ‘groups’. You can choose to be alerted about different categories or for them all. It gives you the opportunity to get alerts via an email or RSS feed at different intervals.
  • Technorati Watchlists – Very similar to Google Alerts as it’ll feed you mentions of certain words on blogs.
  • Twitter Alerts – there are a lot of tools to help you monitor what is being said on Twitter. Some are built into twitter clients (for example TweetDeck has a great one) but others include Monitter (allows live monitoring but also gives you an RSS feed for words), Twendz, Twitter’s Search (you can set up an RSS feed for any keyword) and Twitter Hawk (a paid service that allows you not only to monitor but respond to tweets on keywords). Again, there are many others that you can use – feel free to suggest others below.

As mentioned above – there are many tools around to do this type of monitoring. The key is to find one or two that fit with your style and rhythm of blogging and to regularly check them.

Types of ‘alerts’ to set up:

Lastly – let me outline a few types of alerts to set up. These are the two that I most commonly set up:

1. Industry Words - these are words relevant to your blog’s niche. For example if you blog about the wedding industry you might like to monitor words like ‘wedding dress’. If you blog about Britney Spears – you’ll want to be watching for any use of her name. The key is to find keywords that highlight when stories are breaking about your industry but ones that don’t overwhelm you with results.

2. Vanity Alerts – these are keywords that are specifically relevant to you. They include your personal name, your blog’s name, company name, brand names and even URLs.

Warning – Monitor in Moderation

Let me finish with a word of warning. Don’t become obsessed with monitoring what OTHERS are saying.

While I do believe it can significantly enhance a blog to be aware of what others are doing online in that space – it can also become a distraction (if not an obsession). The key with all tasks of blogging is to do them in a balanced way. Set up some ‘alerts’ today – keep an eye upon them – but don’t forget to actually do some writing yourself instead of just watching what others write!

Update: See what others are saying at the Day 10 – Set up Alerts to Monitor Your Blogs Niche forum thread!

Want More?

This task is a sample of one of the tasks in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook – a downloadable resource designed to reinvigorate and revitalize blogs.

Join over 14,000 other bloggers and Get your Copy Today.

Join a Forum and Start Participating [Day 9 - 31DBBB]

Your task today in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge is to join a forum that relates to the topic of your blog (or, if you’ve already joined one to spend 10-15 minutes participating in it).

One of the questions I always get new bloggers to ask when it comes to finding readers for their blog is ‘where are your potential readers already gathering online?‘ One of the places I encourage them to go looking for those potential readers is on forums on related topics to your blog.

Forums are fantastic places for bloggers to participate for a number of reasons:

1. Profile Building – put consistent time into a large forum on your topic and you can build a significant profile in your niche. I’ve seen it happen in my own photography forum numerous times where people have produced such value and shown off their expertise that they’ve actually developed fans among other forum users.

2. Driving Traffic – create value and become a useful resource in a forum and people will want to know more about who you are and what you do via your signature and or profile page. You’ll also sometimes have opportunity to share some relevant links to things you’ve written.

3. Understanding Your Niche – the hidden benefit of joining a forum that many don’t talk about is that for a new blogger a forum can actually be a fertile ground for gathering ideas and understanding the needs of potential blog readers. Go to any forum and you’ll begin to see the same questions being asked over and over again. The questions actually annoy some regular forum members but you as a blogger should be taking note of such questions and writing posts that answer them because they are usually signals of problems and needs that people have on those topics. I know if I’m ever in need of a topic to write about on my blogs that forums are one of the first places that I go looking for topics.

Spend some time today searching for forums in your niche. Once you find them, join up and start participating. The key is to spend time being as useful as possible to the forum. Your main activity should NOT be leaving links to your blog but answering questions, making connections and generally being as useful as you can to other members of the forum.

Here are two posts on building a blog with Forum Traffic that you Should Read:

I could say a lot more about building your blog up by participating in forums – but we’ve covered the topic a few times on ProBlogger previously. Check out these two posts:

Note: if you can’t find a forum on your exact topic look for them on related topics. If you can’t find any at all, perhaps it is a signal that you should start one at some point. Forums can actually be great additions to blogs.

Update: Day 9 – Promote Your Blog by Finding a Forum to Participate In – People are sharing and exploring this task together over at the forum… you could start there!

Want More?

This task is a sample of one of the tasks in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook – a downloadable resource designed to reinvigorate and revitalize blogs.

Join over 14,000 other bloggers and Get your Copy Today.

Interlink Your Old Blog Posts [Day 8 31DBBB]

This post is an excerpt from the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook

Today I’m presenting you with a task that is perhaps a little less involved than some of the days so far. I wanted to give you something that would both help improve your blog but that wouldn’t take too long to either learn or implement (although it is something that you could dedicate a lot of time to if you have time on your hands).

Your task today is to spend 10 minutes interlinking previously written posts in your archives.

Why is Interlinking Posts Powerful?

There are three main reasons why I regularly dedicate time to go back over old posts on my blog and find ways to update those posts with links to other posts on my blog.

1. Usefulness to Readers – my primary motivation for interlinking posts is to provide a better experience for those people who are reading those posts and to make my blog more useful. If a reader comes to my blog and finds a post that not only answers a question that they have but that also provides further reading and suggestions on where they can explore related topics – they’re more likely to go away from my site satisfied. A satisfied reader is what I’m aiming for – they are more likely to return (it makes your blog ‘sticky‘) and tell their network about their experience.

2. SEO – another great reason to interlink the posts on your blog is that search engines look at the links within a blog to both find content to index but also to work out how to index and rank content. Links from other blogs to your blog are the ultimate way to start ranking highly in Google – but internal links also count.

3. Increase Page Views – inserting links into old posts increases the chances of a visitor to your blog viewing more than just the one page. This has a couple of benefits – the first being that it can help you earn more from that visitor if you’re running some kind of CPM (cost per impression) advertising. The second reason is that you’re creating a bigger impression upon the person visiting your blog. I find that when someone views more than a single page on your blog that they’re more likely to remember it, subscribe to it, comment upon it and become a regular and loyal reader.

While these three benefits all seem fairly small when you think about the benefits that a single link might bring – if you start building the interlinking of posts into your daily blogging experience the accumulative impact that it can have on your blog will be significant.

How to Add Links to Old Posts

There are a variety of methods of interlinking posts from your archives. Here are three main ones that I use:

1. In post links – I find that this is the most natural way to add links to an old post. All it involves is making a keyword (or words) in your post into a link that points to another post on the topic of that keyword.

2. Updates – sometimes post in your archives become ‘dated’ and are in need of an update. There are a variety of ways to update an old post but one simple one is to write a new post on the same topic and then leave a link in your old one to the new post.

For example: One popular post here at ProBlogger is How to Market Your Blog in 2007. While the post still contains useful information on marketing a blog it was obviously written over two years ago. As a result I’ve added a link at this top of this post to a page on How to Find Readers for Your Blog that points people to a variety of resources on that topic.

3. Further Reading - many blogs have a ‘further reading’ section that appears at the bottom of each post. In most cases this is a list of ‘related’ posts that are automatically generated using a plugin. While this can sometimes provide readers with relevant results I find that adding manually chosen links for further reading can produce a more relevant experience. You can add these suggested links both at the end of the post and throughout the post itself.

Quick Tip: When linking between posts always try to make the words that you use in the link relevant keywords to the article you’re linking to. This will maximize the SEO benefits of the link and help you rank higher for those words in Google.

Make Interlinking Posts a Regular Task

While I’m suggesting that you set aside some time today to interlink some of your old posts – I’d also highly recommend that you build this practice into your blogging on a regular basis. I personally spend 10-15 minutes a week hunting for opportunities to do this but also find myself doing it in my daily blogging rhythm as I’m writing new posts.

As you write a new post train yourself to be thinking about what you’re written previously that relates to your new post. As you identify related content start to interlink your posts (you can add links in your new post to old content and/or add links in your old ones to your new content). If you force yourself to do this you’ll start to find that it becomes a more natural part of your daily posting.

Go Do It!

Take 10 minutes now to start identifying old posts that relate to one another and get going on adding a few links between them.

Update – Share your thoughts and progress with others over at the forum: Day 8 – Interlink Posts

Want More?

This task is a sample of one of the tasks in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook – a downloadable resource designed to reinvigorate and revitalize blogs.

Join over 14,000 other bloggers and Get your Copy Today.

31DBBB – Week 1 Recap and Update

31-days-build-better-blog.pngWeek 1 in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog is over and we’re almost a quarter of the way through the challenge. 11,029 people are subscribed participants and the feedback has been very positive so far – thanks to everyone for your participation.

I just wanted to update readers on a few aspects of the project:

Links from the Weekend – firstly I know a lot of you had a long weekend for Easter and may have missed the last few days tasks. Here’s a quick recap on the last four days:

Forums – before launching this challenge I mentioned a forum area for registered members to interact. We had a few challenges in setting this up but I’m happy to say that those registered for email notifications will get an invite to join the forums in the next 36 hours.

Workbook – one of the frequently asked questions that I’ve been getting about 31DBBB is whether I can produce a workbook at the end of the challenge that people can use to continue working through the tasks after the 31 days are over. While I’d not previously considered this there does seem to be some demand for it. I’m willing to put it together for sale at a small price (I want to be able to cover the time I put into it – I’m thinking around $10) IF people are interested.

Here’s a poll to gauge whether people are interested.

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Would You Be Interested in Buying a 31DBBB Workbook?
Total Votes: 657 Started: 4/13/2009 Back to Vote Screen


It’s Going Too Fast! – one of the other pieces of feedback I’ve had is people saying that they feel like they are falling behind. My response has been for people not to stress too much. While I’m going to keep pushing out tasks and challenges each day for the 31 days there’s nothing to stop you slowing down and tackling tasks at your own pace. Quite a few people have been saving the emails that I’m sending and are doing 2-3 tasks a week instead of 7. The workbook idea is also emerging out of this desire for people to move at their own pace. Also – I’m going to try to mix in a few smaller tasks (Day 8′s will be a 5-10 minute one for example) for those of you needing a breather.

Is it too late to Join? – lastly, I’m hearing a few people saying that they missed the start. While the main group of participants are up to Day #7 of the challenge, the way I’ve designed it is that people can start at any time they like. The day you enter your email and first name on the signup page you’ll be taken to the start of the process. You’ll be a bit behind the main group but not alone as hundreds of people are signing up each day.