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Write a Link Post [Day 7 - 31DBBB]

Write a Link PostIt is day 7 in the 31 Day challenge and today’s task is to write a ‘link post‘ – a post that links up to at least one other blog.

Someone asked me recently to name a few ways that I built a readership on my first blog. One of the answers that I gave to their question was that I was generous with linking to other blogs.

I wasn’t alone – back then (we’re talking 7 years ago) blogging revolved around the link. One blogger would write something and it wasn’t unusual to have hundreds of others link to it with posts that built upon the ideas of the first post in some way.

The result was that

  • ideas spread across the blogosphere quickly
  • relationships between bloggers grew with each link
  • and as a result everyone’s blog grew

While this still happens today on blogs to some degree much of the sharing of links has moved to other mediums (like Twitter and Social Bookmarking sites) and it’s commonplace for a blogger to rarely link to other blogs on their blog because they’re either doing it in other places or they feel they’d be building up a competitor.

Your Task Today is to Link Link Link

Today your task is to reclaim some of this practice of linking to other blogs and to write a post that highlights what another blogger (or bloggers) in your niche has written.

Reasons to link out on your blog

  1. Giving something of value to your readers - while your readers come to your blog to read what you have to say – I find that in almost every case that I link up to quality content that readers are appreciative.
  2. Builds Your Credibility - regularly highlighting what others are writing in your niche shows your readers that you’re abreast of developments in your field and that you’re ‘connected’ to the network.
  3. Builds Relationships with Other Bloggers – there’s nothing like sending another blogger traffic to make an impression and build connections. Not only that, when you link to others in a constructive way that actually builds upon their ideas and adds value to a conversation that they’ve started it can often lead to ongoing interactions.
  4. SEO – some SEOs argue that linking out to other relevant content in your niche with relevant keywords as anchor text can have an impact upon how the search engines see your own site. You don’t want to go over the top and link out too much – but a few links to quality content on your topic may well show a search engine that you’re worthy of authority. It’s certainly not the main factor in Google’s algorithm but many argue that it helps.

The key with this task is to link to something of value – something that your readers will find relevant and helpful to them.

Of course building this practice into your blogging means you need to be aware of what’s happening in your particular part of the web. To do this you’ll probably want to:

  • Subscribe to other blogs and sites in your niche
  • Watch social bookmarking sites that cover topics in your industry
  • Subscribe to ‘news alerts’ with tools like Googles News alerts etc

6 Types of Link Posts to Consider

There are many ways to link up to another blog in a way that is valuable. Let me give you a few suggestions on ways to do it that go beyond just giving your readers and link and saying ‘go read it’:

1. Build Upon the Points of Others – take an article that someone has written and then add some points and perspectives that they might have missed or not considered. A classic way to do this is to take a list post that someone has written and add an extra couple of points. For example if someone writes a post ‘21 Ways to Write Posts that Are Guaranteed to Grow Your Blog‘ – write a post ’3 more Ways to Write Posts that Are Guaranteed to Grow Your Blog’ that links to the first post – that might pick up a few of the points and then extends the article by suggesting 3 of your own points.

2. Take the Opposite Point of View – another way to bounce off someone else’s post is to explore the opposing point of view to their post. You might do this as ‘devils advocate’ or because you actually believe the opposite of what they’re saying is true. Keep in mind that this might not build a relationship with the other blogger if you do it in a way that offends!

3. Build a Resource on a Topic – pick a topic in your niche and then spend some time what other bloggers in your niche have written on that topic previously. What you’ll probably end up with is a list of posts from other blogs all on the one topic. You could present them simply as a list of links or could state the main points from each post or even use quotes from each one. These types of posts often do well in social media sites – particularly if you gather a large list of helpful resources on the topic.

Example: DIY Lighting Hacks for Digital Photographers – this post was simply a collection of tutorials that others had written on a similar topic. I included a picture and short description of each one as a list. The post was passed around the web in many social media sites. Yesterdays post here at Problogger 27 Must Read Tips and Tutorials for Bloggers would be another example of this.

4. Speed Linking – I used to do this regularly on ProBlogger (example) (note: I’ve moved most of it over to my Twitter account). The idea was that on a given day I’d link to 5-6 posts that I came across in my daily reading for that day. The links generally didn’t relate strongly to one another but covered a broad range of topics that I felt were relevant to my readers.

Example: a while ago I wrote a post 25 Great Photography Tutorials and Links from Around the Web. It was simply a collection of a few great tutorials that others had written from the month or two before when I published the post (plus a few of my own links from our archives). This post made it to the front page of Digg and other social media sites simply because it contained some great tutorials.

5. One Question Interviews – this one takes a little co-ordination and advanced planning but is when you shoot a question out to another blogger (or bloggers) to get their perspective on a topic relevant to your readers. I find these most effective when you email the same question to 5 or so other bloggers in your niche and then compile all the answers into one post side by side so your readers can see different perspectives.

6. Suggest Further Reading and Give Examples – another common way to linking to others as well as creating value for readers and extra depth in your posts is to to add links to what others are saying on your topic in the day to day writing of posts. Your post might not be a ‘link post’ in and of itself as you cover a topic comprehensively from your own perspective – but this doesn’t stop you giving your readers some suggested reading at the end of your post on the topic at hand.

There are 6 suggestions for you but there are so many others that you could try. For more ideas check out a post I wrote called How to Add to Blogging Conversations… and Eliminate the Echo Chamber.

What others have said on this topic:

Your Task – Write a Link Post

OK – we’ve talked about why and how to do it – now it is time to go and write a link post. Once you’ve done it come back and tell us how you did it, what you learned, where the post is and what impact it has with readers and other bloggers.

PS: if you can find something relevant on another 31 Days participants blog it’d be great to share some link love to other bloggers in the community. I’ve seen quite a few 31DBBB participants starting to team up and support one another – why not reach out to someone today and see where it leads! There are loads of people over at the forum talking about this now: Day 7 – Write a Link Post

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.

27 Must Read Tips and Tutorials for Bloggers [Day 6 - 31DBBB]

Today your task in the 31 Day challenge to Build a Better Blog is to do some learning from successful bloggers.

To do this I’ve asked nine bloggers that I know and respect to nominate a few posts from their own blogs archives that they believe would be most helpful for bloggers wanting to improve their blogs.

You might choose to read just a couple of the following links if you don’t have a lot of time up your sleeve today – but as someone who has just read through them all I suspect you’ll benefit most by reading as many of them as you can – there’s some great advice in this lot!

Here are the posts that the bloggers I asked nominated as their best tips for bloggers:

Seth Godin from Seths Blog

Rand Fiskin from SEOmoz

Skellie from Skelliewag

Chris Garrett from ChrisG

Yaro Starak from Entrepreneurs Journey

Jeremy Schoemaker from Shoemoney

Maki from Dosh Dosh

Liz Strauss from Successful Blog

Daniel Scocco from Daily Blog Tips

Chris Brogan from ChrisBrogan.com

Which of these posts did you resonate with most and find most useful? Share in the discussion here, or over at the forum thread dedicated to this Daily Task: Day 6 – Learn from Successful Bloggers.

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.

Email a Blog Reader [Day 5 - 31DBBB]

Today’s task in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge is all about building community on your blog and making an impression upon readers by giving them some personal attention.

The task is simply to email a new reader (or more than one).

While the tip sounds simple – too simple – it is actually a technique that I used in the early days of this blog (ProBlogger) and it really helped build up reader engagement.

What I found is that when you pay personal attention to a reader it significantly increases the chances of them not only returning to your blog but also spreading the news of your blog through their network.

So look over the most recent comments left on your blog and identify a reader that you don’t recognise the details of. Shoot them a quick email thanking them for their comment.

Make sure you include a link back to your blog so they know who you are and make the email relevant to their comment (ie answer a question they asked or add to their comment in some way). You might also like to point them in the email to your RSS feed (converting them to a loyal reader). While there are some tools out there that email new comment leavers automatically for you – the more personal you can make it the better.

Two Ways to Take this Further and Make a Bigger Impression

The above technique can really be worth investing time each day into – but here are two ways that you can extend this:

1. To make an even greater impression if the person has left a link to their own blog in their comment click that link and leave a comment on their blog. Again – this is another technique that I used in their early days of my blogging and it was certainly a factor in getting the ball rolling for me in terms of building readership.

2. Another quick thing to do is to respond to the comment ON your blog. Sending the email is great on making an impression on the person themselves but leaving a comment in your own comment section shows other readers that you’re interested in engaging in conversation. It also helps build comment numbers which can build social proof and show your blog is active.

Rinse and Repeat

If you’ve got a few extra minutes today – do this with a handful of new readers – the more the better. I’d also highly recommend adding this task to your daily routine – 10-15 minutes a day on this task could make an impression on thousands of people a year.

This simple tip takes just a moment to do but can create a loyal long time reader. Do it at least once a day (or set yourself a higher target) and you’ll build your blog consistently over time.

Is this Tip Not SPECTACULAR Enough For You?

Last time I shared this tip with a fellow blogger they rolled their eyes at me and told me that they didn’t want to find just one more reader for their blog – they wanted hundreds or thousands.

This blogger failed to realize two things:

  1. Loyal Readers Spread the Word - I’ve found that in many cases a single reader quickly becomes numerous loyal readers because when you make an impression on people it’s likely that they’ll spread the word about you. They do this through their own blogs, word of mouth, Twitter and other social networking sites.
  2. Loyal Readers Build Page Views - One loyal reader can potentially view your blog hundreds (if not thousands) of times. A daily visit from that reader for a year brings an extra 365 page views to your blog. Gain an extra loyal reader every day for a full year and the numbers start to add up.

While there’s nothing wrong with attracting thousands of new readers to your blog quickly – the majority of times they’ll come and go very quickly.

Build loyal readers one by one on a daily basis and can be a lot more fruitful in the long run.

Don’t have any comments on your blog yet?

I know there are a number of very new bloggers doing this challenge that might not yet have people leaving comments on their blogs to email. If this is you – don’t worry, I have another mini task for you to do today.

Spend 10 minutes visiting other blogs on your topic and leaving relevant, helpful and genuine comments on their blogs. The more helpful your comments the better – make an impression with quality comments raises your profile and can potentially drive traffic to a blog.

Related Reading:

Update – Find out how others are doing with this task over at the forum! Day 5 – Email a Reader

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.

Analyze a Top Blog in Your Niche [Day 4: 31DBBB]

You task today in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge is to spend some time on a successful blog in your niche.

Analyze-Blog

The purpose of this task is not to promote yourself on the blog – but rather to spend time watching, listening and observing how the blog operates with the goal of letting what you learn help shape your own blogging strategy.

There is a lot that a blogger can learn about spending time on other blogs (particularly those who are doing well). You can pick up all manner of ideas, strategies and tips both things that they do well that you might like to emulate but also things that they’re missing that could help you to differentiate yourself.

Here’s how I suggest you go about today’s task:

1. Identify a successful blog in your niche

You might already know of these sorts of blogs or you might need to do a little research.

If you’re not sure which one to choose head to Technorati’s top 100 blogs or Google Blog search and attempt to find a blog that is doing well on your topic. If you can’t find one that is exactly on your topic don’t stress too much – choosing a blog on a related topic will work too.

2. Take 15 minutes to do some analysis of the blog in some of the following areas

Content:

  • What topics are they covering?
  • What topics are they ignoring?
  • What voice/style do they post in?
  • How often are they posting?
  • What level are they pitching their posts at (beginners, advanced etc)

Reader Engagement:

  • What topics generate most conversation?
  • What styles of posts seem to connect with readers best?
  • What questions are readers asking in comments?
  • What complaints do you see readers making in comments?
  • What tools/mediums is the site using (eg: are they using Twitter, forums etc)

Design:

  • What first impression does their design give?
  • What have they done well? What have they done poorly?
  • What Options do they give readers to subscribe?

Monetization:
if you’re attempting to make money from your blog this will be relevant as it will give you hints as to how you might make money:

  • what advertisers are targeting this blog?
  • what type of affiliate programs are they promoting?

Traffic:
You might also like to head to a site like Alexa or Compete to do some analysis of the blogs traffic levels. Is it growing, plateauing or shrinking. Alexa also gives some stats (not always accurate) on page views, time on site, sites linking in, bounce rate, where the audience is from (geographically), where people go on the site etc.

SEO:
If you have some competence in SEO you might like to check out how they’re doing in some of these areas:

  • Who is linking to this blog? (use the link:www.blogurl.com command in Google to find out)
  • What does their source code reveal about how they’ve set up their site
  • If they have an open or unlocked stats package what can you learn from their stats? What pages are popular? Where does their incoming traffic come from?

Really the numbers of questions you could be asking is limitless but what you’re attempting to do with this exercise is to identify what is working well on the other site and what opportunities there might be to position your blog in ‘gaps’ that the blog is leaving.

When you do this type of analysis with a number of blogs in your niche you should begin to see some patterns emerging. Things that consistently work on blogs in your niche and things that perhaps you could do that nobody else is doing.

Two quick words of warning:

1. Don’t become Obsessed with what other Bloggers are Doing
A trap some bloggers fall into is spending so much time watching their ‘competitors’ that they spend less time actually building something of value of their own. This analysis is useful to do every now and again – but don’t let it become something that you do at the expense of other core activities on your own blog.

2. Don’t Copy – Be Unique
Another trap I see some bloggers doing is virtually replicating every aspect of another blog. While there’s a lot we can learn from others and lessons we can take from what others are doing – if you simply copy everything another blog does you don’t differentiate yourself and give potential readers no real reason to read you instead of others.

How did you go with your Analysis?

As usual – feel free to share what you learned from this task in comments below.

Join the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Challenge

It’s never too late to join the 31 Day challenge. New people are joining and starting the process every day. To learn more about what it is and how to join check out our 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Information Page.

Update – You can also share, discuss, and explore this Daily Task over at the forum: Day 4 – Analyze a Top Blog in your Niche

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.

Promote a Blog Post [Day 3 - 31DBBB]

Yesterday’s task in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Challenge was to write a ‘list post’ on your blog. Hopefully you’ve had a chance to write that up and publish it by now.

Today we’re going to take that post and attempt to drive some readers to it.

Today’s Teaching on Promoting Blog Posts:

Blog Promotion is something that most bloggers have tried to do in many ways – however one mistake that I see a lot of bloggers making in their attempts to find new readers is that they only ever promote their blog as a whole. Their promotion is all about driving traffic to their blogs home page URL.

While there’s nothing wrong with this – I personally have had A LOT more success in promoting individual posts than my blogs front page. That’s what we are going to do today.

Having hit publish on your post yesterday – don’t just leave it to chance that your post will be read by people. Be more proactive than that and spend a little time today giving it some ‘nudges’ to help it on its way.

I know quite a few have already done some of this by leaving a link on our previous post promoting your link (some of your are reporting quite good traffic from doing it) but lets go a step further and find some ways to promote your post in other networks outside of ProBlogger.

11 Ways to Promote a Blog Post

note: please be careful in using these techniques. Don’t use them all with every post you write. Choose your best posts and promote them selectively and in ways that are useful to other people.

1. Pitching Other Bloggers - asking another blogger to consider linking to your post. note: there’s a real art to this – read more on how to do it at 11 Ways to Increase Your Chances of Being Linked to By a Blogger.

2. Social Messaging – what social networks like Twitter and Facebook are you a part of? Attempt to leverage these to promote your post. The key is not to incessantly spam your followers and friends with your link – but use your network to ‘seed’ the link and let your followers spread word of it for you (this won’t happen every time but as your network grows it can become more and more powerful).

3. Social Bookmarking - promoting selective links on a site like Digg or StumbleUpon can lead to amazing results. Further reading on this topic at How to Get to the Front Page of Digg and Using Social Media Sites to Grow Your Blog’s Traffic.

4. Internal Links – don’t just promote your post on other people’s sites – think about where you can link to it from within your own site. Perhaps you’ve written on the topic before and can add a link for further reading, perhaps adding a section in your sidebar for ‘latest posts’ could work. Internal linking won’t drive heaps of new traffic but it can help with SEO and increase page views.

5. Newsletters - if you have an email newsletter list – shoot out an email to your list about your latest post.

6. Other Blogs Comments Sections and Forums – leaving helpful and insightful comments on forums or other blogs can be great at driving traffic if your comment is genuine, relevant and sensitive to the discussion. Leaving a link is sometimes also appropriate if highly relevant.

7. Email Signatures – Adding links to your blog to your outgoing emails is fairly common place – but whatever including links to recent posts instead of just your blog’s front page URL.

8. Followup Posts – write a new post on your blog that picks up where your last one left off. This builds momentum and if you inter-link the posts drives more page views.

9. Advertise Your Post – for posts that you’re particularly proud of and that are well received by readers you might even consider a mini ad campaign with a small budget using a service like AdWords or StumbleUpon advertising. Further Reading on this at Run a StumbleUpon advertising campaign on your blog.

10. Pitch Mainstream Media – occasionally posts will be relevant to mainstream media. You want to really pick a highly interesting post for this – it’s not something for every day.

11. Article Marketing – I wouldn’t recommend submitting exactly the same article you’ve posted on your blog to article marketing sites (this can get you into trouble with Google penalties for duplicate content) but I know of a few bloggers who rewrite their key articles for article marketing.

Of course there are many other ways to promote posts. Feel free to tell us how you do it in comments below.

Please note: don’t do all of the above things for every single post on your blog. I personally tend to pick 1-2 posts a week to give a push and let others grow organically.

Today’s Task – Promote a Post:

Take a little time to look at yesterdays post and ask yourself where it might be appropriate to promote it. If you look at the post and don’t think that it is really worthy of promotion anywhere – feel free to choose another relevant post to do it with. If you don’t have one – spend some time today writing something that you feel IS link worthy and then try promoting that.

For most of you I’d start with point #1 above – pitching to other bloggers. Choose another blog with highly related content to your post and politely submit it as a suggested link to that blog. Again – check out 11 Ways to Increase Your Chances of Being Linked to By a Blogger for tips that will help increase the likelihood of it being successful.

Feeling Timid?

I know that many new bloggers often feel quite timid and wary of promoting themselves. Don’t worry – you’re not alone. I have felt that myself many times and have at times not put my work forward where perhaps I should have. However – the times that I have been willing to push myself out of my comfort zone have often paid off.

While I’ve had a few times in my blogging life where I’ve had lucky breaks that result in traffic – most of the times traffic has arrived at my blogs in numbers have been a direct result of me doing some promotional work. Don’t just leave it to chance – put yourself out there and see what comes as a result.

Once you’ve done it – I’d love to hear how you went about promoting your post and what the result was in comments below. Lets learn together how to get this task right!

Update: There are lots of folks talking about this over at the forum, you should check it out! Day 3 – Promote a Post

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.

FAQs about 31 Day Project and Email Delivery Problems

I’ve had a few questions being asked quite a bit by those participating in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge so thought I’d post here some answers:

1. Missing Emails – I’m afraid that for some reason a number of those participating are reporting not getting emails. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • New Signups – if you signed up since Monday it takes up to 24 hours for the sequence of daily emails to kick in. New signups will be put into an email sequence where you’ll be sent daily emails starting at Day 1. This means you’re a little behind the main group but means you don’t miss anything that the main group has covered already.
  • Spam Filtering - some people are finding our emails in their spam/junk mail folders. Please search for them there and mark them as ‘not spam’ and you should get future ones in your inbox.
  • Missing Confirmation – some people did not confirm/verify their participation by clicking a link in the email that we sent you soon after you signed up. We need this confirmation before we can send you anything else. Search for this and click the link (it could be in your spam/junkmail folder). If you can’t find it try subscribing again on this page. If you still can’t find it – contact Aweber.com who are managing our list.

2. Email Delays - a few people are concerned that they see posts go up on ProBlogger for days but don’t get emails until hours or even days later. As mentioned above the main reason for this is that emails are sent out in a sequence. Most people reporting this problem have signed up since the program started and will be a day or two behind the main group. You’ll get the emails eventually but will be taken to the start of the sequence of emails.

Other people reporting shorter delays in getting emails will unfortunately just have to wait as we don’t have complete control over when emails will be delivered. Aweber queues these autoresponder emails so that they go out usually 1-3 hours after the posts go live on ProBlogger.

If you want notifications as posts go live please subscribe to our RSS feed. This way you’ll see posts as they go up on the blog. You’ll still get the emails eventually and can see any other information I’m including there.

Apologies for those experiencing delays but there isn’t a lot we can do about it at this point.

All in all though it seems that the project is being well received. We just passed 10,000 registered participants and many are reporting that they’re enjoying the tasks being set so far. Thanks for everyone’s involvement!

Write a List Post [Day 2 - 31DBBB]

Today your challenge in the 31 Day project that we’re running here at Problogger is focused around writing a post and is to write a ‘list post’.

List-Posts-1

Today’s Teaching:

Using ‘lists’ has always been a popular and effective technique among bloggers wanting to write content that gets spread from one person to the next. Just look at pages like the front page of Digg, TweetMeme and Delicious and you’ll see that many of the ‘hottest’ content on the web at any given time are written in this style.

Check out this screen shot of Delicious from yesterday:

Delicious-Lists

You can see there that every post in the most popular page of Delcious at this point was a list of some type.

8 Reasons Why List Posts are Powerful for Bloggers

‘List posts’ are popular because:

1. Lists are Scannable – online readers are notoriously lazy and tend to scan content rather than read it word for word. A list helps communicate a number of points quickly and easily and helps readers to know if a post contains information that interests them and which they should actually read more of.

2. Lists keep posts succinct
– there is something about a list that keeps you as a blogger from rambling. Each point has a start and end whereas with an essay style of writing points often bleed into one another.

3. Lists look ‘neat’
– I don’t know about you but when I surf onto a site that is full of messily formatted text – I don’t tend to stick around for too long. Lists on the other hand can be quite visually pleasing and more likely to stimulate someone to start reading.

4. Lists can be comprehensive
– while some might argue that lists ‘dumb down’ ideas and concepts – when written well they can actually be just as comprehensive as any other style of writing.

5. Lists are persuasive
– if you want to mount a case for something quickly presenting numerous arguments in a list can be quite convincing. Again – it’s about identifiable points that together go to forming a convincing argument.

6. Lists can add to the ease of writing
– I like writing in lists because they break down my thoughts into bite sized pieces which is good not only for readers but me as a writer as I consider how to express myself.

7. Lists go Viral – lists can start epidemics of ideas. For the above reasons (and others – bloggers and those on social media seem to love sharing lists and as a result they have the ability to spread quickly through out the web (and beyond)

8. Lists break down the complicated – one reason I find list posts to be powerful is that they can be great for breaking down complex ideas or tasks. I know on my photography blog that many of our photoshop tutorials work best when our authors present their instructions as ‘steps’ – meaning a procedure that can at first seem overwhelming becomes a list of bite sized tasks.

Warning: don’t go over the top with ‘list posts’. They can be incredibly powerful but on many blogs readers can become frustrated with them if that is all you do.

Your Task for Today – Write a List Post:

Today your task is to write a ‘list post’ on your blog. You may not choose to publish it today if you already have something lined up – but aim to publish it in the next day or two if you can.

3 Types of ‘List Posts’

There are a variety of ways of incorporating lists into your blog. Depending upon the topic and style of blog you’re building some of these options might be appropriate for you:

  • The post as a list – in this case there’s nothing in the post except for the list. The title of your post introduces the topic and then the list speaks for itself. The list can be quite barebones – short and to the point. However readers often like them because of their bluntness and the way that they tell it like it is. Example: 21 Ways to Write Posts that are Guarantees to Grow Your Blog.
  • Extended lists - this is how I generally approach ‘list posts’. I’ll show you a couple of examples below but in a sense this type of post is not dissimilar to an essay or article but the main points are broken down into a numbered list format. Generally there is a heading for each section (highlighted in bold or heading tags) with a paragraph or two under each one. Example: 10 Ways to Take Stunning Portraits.
  • Lists Within Posts - the post you’re reading right now probably illustrates this type well. In this post there are two lists that present ideas in the midst of other content. In a sense the list becomes a way of breaking up your text. I find that often these posts do quite well as other bloggers looking for a quote to share with their readers will many times grab your list.

Some bloggers do at times get a little ‘anti list’ and suggest it is an overused technique and a lazy way to write – but this need not always be the case. There’s nothing to stop a blogger developing a list post that is in depth and on topic for almost any blog.

List posts will not suit everyone’s style and probably are harder to use with some blog topics than others but they are a useful style of post to have in your tool belt for when the opportunity arises.

Highly Recommended Reading: If you’re after a little extra reading on the topic of writing list posts check out this excellent and practical guest post from late last year on ProBlogger with 10 steps to writing the perfect list post.

Examples of List Posts

I know some of our participants will find today’s task easier than others. Some of you have successfully written a lot of list posts while others have not. Some have topics where these types of posts ‘fit’ better than others. I hope that in the following examples (both from my blogs and others) that you’ll find a little inspiration that might help you to discover a type of post that might work with your blog.

Also: also check out this long list of ‘list posts’ written in a group writing project by readers of ProBlogger. This list of posts has hundreds of examples (some good and some not so good) on hundreds of topics. Hopefully some of them will give a little inspiration).

Share Your New List Posts

It’s time to go away and write your list post. Once you’ve done it – do come back here and leave the link and title in comments below. My hope in this is that participants will get a little traffic but also that you’ll inspire one another with your posts and give a much more comprehensive list than I’ve come up with above of great list posts. I’m looking forward with what you come up with!

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.

Update: You can also join the discussion over at the forum, and see what others have done for this task! Day 2 – Write a List Post

Do you prefer Light or Dark Backgrounds on Blogs?

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Write an Elevator Pitch for Your Blog [Day 1 -31DBBB]

Elevator WomanWelcome to Day #1 of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Challenge. As on each day of this project today I’d like to present you with two things:

  1. Some Teaching/Theory
  2. A Task to go away and Do

Teaching

Today’s task (outlined in full below) is to develop an Elevator Pitch for your Blog. Let me explain why.

What is an Elevator Pitch?

“An elevator pitch is an overview of an idea for a product, service, or project. The name reflects the fact that an elevator pitch can be delivered in the time span of an elevator ride (for example, thirty seconds or 100-150 words).”Wikipedia

Many business and self improvement type courses teach students to develop an elevator pitch for their business (and even for themselves). The idea is to have something short and sharp that you can say about yourself when the opportunity arises instead of bumbling your way through explaining what you or your business does (and miss an opportunity).

The goal is both to communicate what you do and to get the person you’re communicating it to to want to know more.

Elevator Pitches for Bloggers

While the idea of an elevator pitch is usually something that start up entrepreneurs are encouraged to do when looking for investors – developing an elevator pitch for your blog is also a smart move also.

One of the most important reasons to do this exercise is that to develop an elevator pitch YOU as a blogger to have thought through and crystallised in your mind what your blog is about.

If you’re fuzzy on what your blog is about it’s unlikely than anyone else will have much of an idea either.

Knowing what your blog is about helps you in developing every aspect of it including:

  • Writing Content
  • Promotion and Finding Readers
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Networking with other Bloggers
  • Branding
  • Design…. the list can go on.

In fact almost every task that we’ll be doing in this next 31 days should flow from this task.

Other Reasons for Developing an Elevator Pitch

Of course coming up with an elevator pitch is not just for your own benefit. Once you’ve got one it is brilliant for communicating what your blog is about to readers (both the ones you already have and potential ones), other bloggers, potential partners, media/journalists, advertisers and even to friends and family members who might not get what you’re doing.

Once you’ve got your blogs elevator pitch there’s no limit to the places and situations that you can use it (either part of it or in its entirety). Here are a few that come to mind:

  • Your blogs tag line – having a short, sharp and descriptive ‘tag line’ for your blog can be a powerful technique for quickly communicating to new readers to your blog what it is all about. Readers who don’t get a sense for what your blog is about are in danger of leaving quickly – so a tagline that is displayed prominently on your blog can be a great way to hook them in.
  • Your about page - the about page of a blog (if you have one) is one of the most read pages of a blog by first time visitors. It is an ideal place to communicate what you’re about and to ‘sell’ to potential readers why they should subscribe and come back.
  • Real Life Conversation – whether it be at a conference, in business interactions or just in everyday conversation, the topic of your blog is likely to come up from time to time and these interactions can be an ideal moment to pull out the elevator pitch to describe what your blog is about.
  • Business Cards – I get a lot of business cards given to me at conferences and to be honest at the end of the day I can’t remember who gave me most of them. Adding an elevator pitch to a card can help trigger who you are and what you do in the mind of those you chat with at these busy types of events.
  • Pitching to Media – One of the things I’ve noticed about many journalists is that they’re very busy people who are constantly being pitched with ideas for stories. Having a thought through and effective ‘pitch’ can help you get noticed and give a journalist a reason to listen to what you’ve got to say.
  • Pitching to Other Bloggers – Similarly, I find that if I’m being ‘pitched’ to as a blogger that I take more notice if the person pitching to me gives me a brief insight into who they are and what they do.
  • Email Signature – many people have links to their blogs in their emails, but a link can be somewhat meaningless on its own. Why not add your elevator pitch? Similarly signatures in forums can be a good place to have a short description of what you do to motivate people to check you out further.
  • Social Media Profiles – the same thing goes for all those social media profiles that you have. Why not use them to not only point people to your blog but to give them a reason to go there!

Where else would you use an elevator pitch? I’m sure there are so many more times to pull them out! Feel free to share other places you’ll be using yours.

Your Task for Today

Take some time out today to develop an elevator pitch for your blog. If you’ve already got one take a few minutes to review and refine it.

How to Write an Elevator Pitch for Your Blog

I’m sure there has been much written on the topic online but here’s some starting points that I use when doing this type of thing.

  • Solve a Problem or Need - I’m a big believer in developing blogs that fulfil real needs and solve problems that people have. The problem need not be a big one (like World Peace) but you should be attempting to create something that people need on some level. Communicate this in your elevator pitch.
  • Define Your Audience - who is your blog for? Who are you attempting to attract? IF your blog is targeting a certain demographic or type of person (and it may or may not) – include this in your pitch. If your blog is for teens, don’t develop a pitch for grandparents – target the reader you want.
  • Be Clear - don’t leave people second guessing what you mean or interpreting jargon – make your elevator pitch crystal clear.
  • Keep it Short – People have limited attention spans and capacity to absorb lots of information. Get to the point, eliminate unnecessary words and make it punchy!
  • Stand Out – be willing to use humour or powerful imagery to grab the attention of those that hear your elevator pitch.
  • Be Intriguing – your elevator pitch is unlikely to ‘convert’ people to read your blog all on its own – but it should entice them to learn more. You don’t need to say everything in it – but attempt to write something that is still in the mind of those who hear it long afterwards.
  • Be Energetic but not Hyped – you convey more than just dry information when describing your blog – but you also convey what YOU feel about it. This is important – if you ‘pitch’ someone with language and a voice that is dry and uninspired you’re unlikely to convert anyone into a reader. Show people that you love what you’re doing, that you’re passionate and that you care about your topic. But don’t go too far and hype it up beyond what it is!
  • Consider Using a Question – people are wired to answer and engage with questions. Ask them, even just rhetorical ones, in your pitch and you’ll hook people in.
  • Be Ready to Expand Upon Your Pitch – at a recent conference I had someone come up and give me what seemed like an elevator pitch about their blog. It worked really well, they got me interested – so interested that I asked them to tell me more. The problem was that they didn’t really have much else to say about their blog. See an elevator pitch as a conversation opener – something designed to lead into further interaction with people. You don’t have to say it all in your initial pitch – but you should be ready to say more if people are interested.

These are just the thoughts that come to my mind on elevator pitches (what would you add?). Not everyone will be able to incorporate all of the above points but I hope that some of it will help you to develop yours.

My Elevator Pitch
I have a couple of elevator pitches my blog here at ProBlogger. One’s short (just 6 words) and one’s a little longer (a minute or so). I use one or the other of them depending upon the circumstances and opportunity to share.

My short one is very simple – ‘ProBlogger helps Bloggers Build Exceptional Blogs’. I’ve used others over the life of this blog (and continue to evolve it) but have settled on this one for the time being because it is so simple, to the point and clear.

The longer version expands upon this and shares some of the ways that the blog helps bloggers improve their blogs by talking through a few of the main topics I cover.

Write Your Elevator Pitch

Once you’ve got an elevator pitch for your blog write or print it out and put it somewhere near your computer so that as you blog you can be reminded of it. You might also like to start to incorporate it into your blog as a tagline or in your about page – or even to write a post about it on your blog to communicate to your readers what you’re on about (the appropriateness of writing it as a post will of course vary from blog to blog).

Once you’ve done that – feel free to share what you’ve come up with in comments below. I’m looking forward to reading yours.

Tomorrow on the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Challenge – tomorrows task is a writing task that will have you writing a particular type of blog post to use on your blog in the next few days.

Sign up for 31DBBB

If you’re not already signed up for the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge you can find more information on what it entails here.

Update! Get feedback on your results, and see what others are doing over at the forum: Day 1 – Create an Elevator Pitch for 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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