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How to Manage a School/Blog Balance

This post was written by Aditya Mahesh, founder of AMBeat.com, a complete resource for entrepreneurs complete with advice articles, start-up profiles, interviews, news analysis, and more.

Common wisdom suggests that academics are always chief in importance. Students, at least those here in the United States, are told time and time again that extra-curricular activities, whether it is a sports team or clubs, always come after academics. Student entrepreneurs and bloggers have a tendency not to follow this rule of thought.

Throughout my high school and college experiences, I have always been more dedicated to and more passionate about my business and my blogs than I have my schoolwork. I was recently going through my Algebra notebook from 11th grade and noticed that for every page of Math notes were three pages of business ideas, future blog posts, marketing strategies, etc. Still, while I always placed more emphasis on my business, I was always able to balance my work with my academics, allowing me to excel in both.

For those of you who are not students, the information in this post is still applicable for balancing a blog/work balance of you blog part-time and work at another job or a blog/life balance if you are a full time blogger.

The key to managing my business work and my school work is time management and planning ahead. It is absolutely vital that you do not procrastinate, because all procrastination does is lead to a great increase in personal stress and a great decrease in work output quality.

Throughout the course of my high school education and now in college, I maintain two separate calendars, one for school work and one for business. In my school work calendar I plot out all assignments that have been assigned and when they are due. Typically, I have as much as three weeks lead time for major papers and projects and know of testing dates at the beginning of the semester. Once I have established my calendar, I plan out my time so that I have a final product completed, whether it is an edited version of my essay or completely developed and analyzed study guide for a midterm, one week in advance. This way, I can ensure that all assignments will be completed in time and that I will not be scrambling at the last minute to get everything done. There are no surprises. It also leaves me a week to take my paper to my professor for additional editing or time to review for a test instead of cramming, allowing me to ensure that I excel in my academic work.

Sticking to this schedule is by no means easy. It requires hard work and dedication amidst all the distractions there are in the life of a student, especially in college dorm life. Yet sticking to this schedule is definitely possible and you will find that it frees up more of your time for recreation. Instead of sleeping in until noon or wasting time pointlessly surfing the web, take control of your time and get some work done. This way, you miss out on nothing, have your work completed, and can still relax or go out at night and during the weekends.

Once you have an academic calendar finalized, it comes to creating a work/blogging calendar and matching it with your academic calendar. You will tend to notice that despite even a rigorous course load, there is still plenty of time for business if you manage your time efficiently. I do the same thing for my business calendar that I do for my academic calendar; make a list of what all I need to get done and when. For example, as a blogger I need to write posts and market my blog so I create an editorial calendar to plan out which pieces I’m going to post when and a marketing plan to schedule when I am going to execute certain elements of my marketing strategy.

I schedule this work into time I have not dedicated as “academic time”. You will see that you begin to develop a routine as with blogging and school the same tasks have to be completed over and over again, whether it be writing posts or studying for weekly quizzes. Over time and with practice it becomes easier.

However, you must take into consideration the fact that there are certain times when you need to spend more time focusing on school and more time focused on business and you need to plan ahead for these times. For example, during finals week I need to be 100% focused to studying for my exams, yet I can’t just let my blog or business sit idle. In these cases, get help from the outside, getting guest posters, paid writers, or pre-scheduling posts. Remember, planning is very important.

While a blog/school balance is definitely doable, you have to be careful how many things you are involved in. There are only 24 hours in the day and you need to rest and take time to enjoy life, so make sure to not overextend yourself getting involved in too many different activities at one time. I have gone both routes, doing a little bit of everything and a doing lot of fewer things and have found that when I focus on fewer activities, I can fully dedicate myself to them and actually accomplish something meaningful. Prioritization is also very important. You have to do some research and soul searching to find what is MOST important to you. Personally, I recommend focusing on academics until your business or blog begins to take off and earn revenues. Even once you find professional success, I strongly recommend staying focused academically and achieving to the best of your ability because I am finding that academic effort and success and constantly opening new doors for me in my personal and professional lives.

Better Questions Than “Do I Need a Mentor?” and “How do I get one?”

A Guest post by Josh Hanagarne – World’s Strongest Librarian

In my Problogger post about how to land big interviews when your blog is small, I mentioned that I had a mentor. A lot of commenters asked me about that process and if I could write more about it. Send your thanks to Darren if you enjoy the post.

How to find a mentor is the easy part. First we need to talk about why.

Ask yourself this question:

Do I need a mentor?

The answer is yes—ta da!

Sorry, wrong question. If you didn’t think you needed a mentor, you wouldn’t be reading Problogger. No offense to Darren, but Problogger is a how-to, nuts and bolts blog—written by a mentor and businessman.

If you’re here for pleasure reading or entertainment, you’re really not here to be mentored and could probably use some other outlets.

Here are some useful questions behind the question:

  • Do I already know everything?
  • Am I teachable?
  • What teaching methods do I respond to best?
  • What are my goals?
  • Can a mentor realistically help me reach these goals?
  • How quickly do I want (or need) to reach my goals?
  • Am I just lonely? (This happens more than you might think)
  • Am I looking for a coach, or am I just hoping that this will be less work for me?

Take some time to answer these questions. Don’t waste anyone’s time by approaching him or her before you’ve done some thinking.

Two types of mentors: which would you prefer?

Kill Bill

There’s what I think of as the Kill Bill style mentor: the master martial artist who strokes his beard and laughs while beating you into submission. A drill sergeant who teaches through “tough love” and cruel tutelage and says things like, “Before me, your strength is that of the earthworm compared to the eagle, yes?”

There’s nothing wrong with this approach: but be honest—is that what you will respond to? Are you a person who wants to learn with a foot on your neck and a militant “Or else” teaching style?

Problogger Style

How often does Darren Rowse step on your neck or make you scream in pain? It hasn’t happened to me yet, but I’m safe in the United States. Darren encourages, coaches, and gently pulls us along, but you may choose to fail if you wish.

He answers questions, presents information, and how we use it is on us. The vast majority of Darren’s writing is backed up by empirical evidence, case studies, et cetera…in other words, it makes sense to do what he says, but he doesn’t have the time or the kung fu grip to force us. (I think).

Know your own skills

Here are some things I could mentor you on

  • Exercising with kettlebells
  • Getting 150 RSS subscribers in 3 weeks
  • Writing a novel and getting rejected by publishers until the end of days
  • Writing guest posts for Problogger
  • Shopping for pants when you’re 6’8”: hint, move somewhere warm and buy more shorts
  • Fingerstyle guitar
  • Coping with an extreme case of Tourette’s Syndrome

Here’s the point: now that you know my skills, you can ask yourself the right question—it’s not “Do I need a mentor?” The answer is yes.

Rather, ask yourself: do I need this person as a mentor? Are my goals more achievable with this person than on my own?

Some qualities to look for in your mentor:

  • Humility: they admit mistakes
  • Imperfection: they’ve made mistakes so you don’t have to
  • Knowledge: they must know things that you want to know and may not be able to learn on your own
  • Patience: they have to be willing to answer questions. Lots of them. If someone enters into a formal mentoring relationship with you, don’t hang around for too long if it turns out they don’t have the time or temperament to spend time teaching you.

Some qualities you must have as the mentored:

  • Humility: you don’t know everything. Ask questions, but don’t second guess until you must.
  • Direction: don’t ask someone to help you reach a destination that you can’t describe. No, “I’ll recognize success when I see it, just help me get there.” Have a plan. If it’s the wrong plan for what you want, a good mentor will tell you.
  • Work ethic: don’t ask for help, receive direction, and discard the advice. Be patient and try what they say.
  • Realism: mentors aren’t miracle workers. Don’t expect perfection. Mentors are usually people who have gone through enough failures to recognize a losing hand quickly enough to fold.

But why would a mentor agree to help me?

I currently have two official mentors. One (no name—he’d be embarrassed to know I was calling him an official “mentor”) is my blogging compadre who helps me build traffic, polish my content, and market myself.

The other is a professional strongman, “Unbreakable” Adam T. Glass. He’s helping me get stronger. That’s it, because those are my goals right now: blogging and strength.

But when I asked them what they get out of our relationship, both said honestly, “Part of it is because it’s fun to help others. And part of it is hoping that when you get famous that our names will always be linked.” In other words, we may each be more successful later than either of us may be alone.

That’s the beauty of the Internet. Reciprocity is king. It’s easy to do favors. It’s simple to give someone a boost. Show someone who’s already successful what you can do for them. Chances are, they won’t say, “Oh, I’m already successful enough. Pass.”

And if they pass, so what? Life goes on. Find someone else.

How to find a mentor

And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for: how to find a mentor:

Find someone who has done what you want to do and ask them if they will mentor you. That’s all.

As Darth Vader said to young Luke Skywalker when he threw open the paternity test curtain, “Search your feelings…you know it to be true.”

It is that simple: ask. Dumb luck may play a part, but mostly it’s just asking being willing to ask. Same thing with landing interviews. Same thing with asking for that date.

Same thing about being happy—fulfillment of dreams comes from action. Nobody owes us a favor and nobody is going to show up in tears begging to help us with our goals.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t willing. It just means they don’t know what we want.

But where do you find people like that? If you’ve read any of Darren’s writing, you know where: Problogger, Technorati, trade shows, magazines, social networking groups, Twitter…good grief, there are even more ways than I thought there were.

Make a list of choices and go find someone. Tell them how you can help each other. Do it today. The sun will set either way. You can wake up tomorrow with a mentor lined up, or regretting that another day went by without action.

It won’t make any difference to the person who hasn’t heard of you yet.

Josh Hanagarne writes World’s Strongest Librarian, a blog to help you get stronger, get smarter, and live better…every day. For bonus articles, videos, and original music, please subscribe to the Stronger, Smarter, Better Newsletter. If you know someone with Tourette’s Syndrome, please let them know about the blog. They need to know that someone out there “gets it.”

Get 30% off the Ninja Affiliate Plugin for WordPress – Limited Time Offer

The following is a ProBloggerDeal – exclusively for readers of this blog. For notification on Twitter of other deals, discounts and competitions for bloggers follow @ProBloggerDeals.

ninja-affiliate.png A few mont Ninja Affiliate Plugin for WordPress. The promotion was so popular and I’ve had so much positive feedback from readers about the plugin that I asked MaxBlogPress if we could run it again.

This time they’ve set it up so ProBloger readers can get the $30 discount (around 30% off) until 3rd July.

The best way to learn about what the plugin does is to visit the sales page and view the videos there which outline its features.

Effectively it’s a tool that manages all of the affiliate links on your blog from one central location. Here’s a list of features:

  • Easy Affiliate Link Management – You can easily give each affiliate link an easy-to-remember name.
  • Flexible Link Management – Accepts every affiliate link format out there, so you don’t have to waste time with various affiliate marketing tools..
  • Create Professional Redirect Links – Use professional looking redirect links that let your prospects know you’re a pro marketer..
  • Manage Links by Groups – Too many affiliate links? Ninja Affiliate allows you to easily create different groups to manage your links..
  • Prevent “Affiliate Theft” – Cloak your affiliate links to prevent link theft and affiliate sabotage. No one will ever steal your hard-earned commissions again..
  • Insert Affiliate Links Directly – Add your affiliate links directly for your WordPress blog editor – you’ll never have to hunt for links again..
  • Transform Keywords to Links – Automatically turn keywords in your blog to affiliate links. You can set a limit too, so your posts don’t look like a spam blog!
  • Advanced Display Options – Ninja Affiliate allows you to display any text you want in your web browser’s status bar..
  • Use “No-Follow” Links – Control your link juice and escape punishment from Big Daddy Google with ninja precision. In fact, you can control your links any way you want to.

All in all – if you’re doing affiliate marketing on your blog this is a plugin you’ll want to consider investing into.

This has been a ProBloggerDeal – for notification on Twitter of other deals, discounts and competitions for bloggers follow @ProBloggerDeals.

Perseverance Will Save Your Blog

Robby G is a blogger from ShiteILike.com and explains the benefits of pushing your blog through good and through bad.

I was doing some research recently, wondering if my blog would ever take off and what it really depended on. I was a little bit discouraged about writing lots of content for two months on my blog, but having a significant amount of less traffic than on my friend’s blog which is only two months older than mine.

To see if my blog would ever receive any readers that would get interested, and hopefully raise my hopes, I went on ProBlogger. I looked through his much older posts and went through the comment list. I clicked on a bunch of commentators’ names that took me back to their blogs and recorded how many of them were still blogging today. Their comments were from 2006 and I noticed that most of the bloggers had either just abandoned their blog or quit paying for hosting completely.

Now the interesting stuff I learnt from my research was that the ones that actually held on to their blogs and kept posting through good and through bad on topics that they found dear to them, they in fact had a pretty decent following with many RSS Subscribers and were receiving quite a few comments on each post. I also ran their blogs through a Link Checker and saw that the older the blog, the more backlinks they had.

The great thing about perseverance when it comes to blogging is that the longer you push your blog, the more you get out of it. It doesn’t matter what topic you write about, because there are a lot of people out there that have the same interests as you no matter what they are.

Perseverance gives your blog backlinks, it gives your blog a higher rating on search engines, and it gives people time to learn more about you and spread your blog’s name through word of mouth. If you read this blog and a bunch of other “making money online” blogs, it opens your mind out to how to market your blog properly, and if you connect perseverance to marketing, there is no stopping you. All that’s left is time to allow someone big and famous to come along and mention your blog in a review or just mention a little bit about your post to really help you explode onto the Super Blogger level.

So all in all, in my opinion, there are really just two things every blogger should keep in mind when either starting a new blog or whenever they’re discouraged about their own blog:

  1. Make sure you’re blogging about a topic you really love (I know this one has been said before by almost everyone, but it’s true. Shite I Like is my second blog for a reason.)
  2. Whatever you do, don’t give up. Keep blogging and blogging, and reading, and blogging. The more time you put into it will really come back to help you 100 times more in the long-run. And you just might never know when your blog will turn huge.

Also, if you’ve got the time to blog on a topic on an almost daily basis, you more than likely have the time to do research of your own on how to market and make your blog popular without having to really spend much money on it.

Many people’s biggest flaw in life is entering into something thinking that easy money will just flow their way, and once the going gets even a little bit difficult, they abandon ship. For example, when I was going to University and Real Estate College at the same time, I thought I’d become a Real Estate Salesperson in no time and start selling houses in the summer time while everybody from University would be working some landscaping summer job. Becoming a Real Estate person was harder than I thought and took much more time than initially planned. At many points I thought about quitting that and just focusing on Univ, but perseverance got me through College to get into the field of Real Estate as a part-time job while still continuing with my Univ studies. I’m happy I pushed myself, because now I see that if I could keep a weekend job while going to University and College all at the same time, while also learning about blogging, then I can push myself to blog on a regular basis.

Keep those 2 points I outlined above in mind and make sure to always keep pushing yourself, because without perseverance you’ll never see any glory. I hope this post really gave you a motivation to keep blogging and reading and most importantly believing that all you need to reach your goal with blogging is constant determination, time, and a little bit of luck.

Amazon Ends Affiliates Program for North Carolina

[Breaking news from Lara - Pardon the interruption!]

Just read over at FOX Business that Amazon has decided to close out their affiliates program to residents of North Carolina (USA) due to a proposed change in sales tax for affiliate sales.

“In an email, Amazon reportedly told marketing affiliates in the state that the move was a direct result of North Carolina’s push to levy a tax on purchases made through Amazon affiliates.” FOX Business

I remember there was a similar situation with New York, I wonder which US state is going to be next? There’s more details on Amazon’s calling NC lawmaker’s bluff here.

Interesting what politics and legalities can do to a blogger or affiliate marketer, in just a blink. How do you feel about these laws that are changing the way bloggers effectively handle their income options?

Update: Appears that they also closed off Hawaii, and may be considering California as well. [Thanks, 5starAffiliatePrograms for the tip off in the comments!]

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Watch How I Spend My First 20 Minutes Online Every Morning

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This morning I tweeted this question – ‘what are the first 3 things you do when you get online in the morning?

You can see many of the answers to the question on this twitoaster thread.

A number of people asked me to answer the question for myself – so I thought I’d do so as a blog post as it is pretty relevant to how I run my business. Of course I couldn’t just stop at three – here’s some of my morning routine:

Firstly: I liken most of what I do in the mornings to a Triage in the emergency room of a hospital. It’s about assessing what happened over night, identifying urgent things that need immediate attention and less urgent but important things that I need to prioritize and then mapping out how I’ll use my day.

Note: Preceding all of what follows is Coffee…. without it I find very little of it works.

1. Check Blog Stats

The first thing I do in the morning is to check the stats of my blogs. While this might seem like a bit of an egotistical thing to do first thing in the morning I actually do it because it gives me a very quick overview of any problems or opportunities that might need my immediate attention.

I am particularly looking for any spikes or lulls in traffic.

Spikes indicate that something has happened to bring me traffic on some other site. This could indicate a social media event (front page on Digg or a hot link on Twitter) or could indicate something more controversial that someone has written about me. Either way – I want to know about it – either for damage control or to see if there’s a way to extend the positives.

Lulls in traffic indicate potential problems with servers or other problems on my blogs including broken design, posts not going live, newsletters not going out that should have gone etc.

What flows from analyzing stats could be leaving comments on another blog to respond to what they’ve written, tweeting a hot link to extend it’s viral qualities, fixing an error on my site, checking server errors etc.

2. Scan Twitter Accounts

I find Twitter is another great source of being able to assess what I’ve missed while I slept. This is particularly important for me because I’m in Australia and actually sleep during the peak times on my blogs when most of my readers are online.

I scan three main things on Twitter – my Direct Messages, my @replies and trending topics (via Twitscoop).

Twitter quickly reveals any topics/stories/news that has broken over night that could be relevant to my blogs. Many times I have links that have been DM’d to me by my followers alerting me to these stories.

I am also on the look out from any problems with my sites that readers are reporting (I find that if one of my blogs was down even for 5 minutes that I’m told about it on Twitter).

Lastly on Twitter I’m looking with interest at what people ReTweeted overnight – particularly posts on my own blogs. If I notice a post I’ve written is doing well on Twitter and has a lot of RT’s it can be worth me giving it a second push. It might also indicate to me that it could be worth writing a followup post on the topic to keep the momentum going.

If a story has not been RT’d much at all it’s an indication that perhaps the post needs reworking or that it wasn’t a topic that connected with my audience.

3. Scan News Alerts

This is a quick one but can be important. I have a number of alerts set up in Google News and Blog Alerts that I quickly scan each morning (it’s my ‘vanity folder‘). Each of these alerts is either an alert to anyone using my name, blog URL or a keyword relevant to my niche in a blog post or news article.

It’s important to know what has been written about you and about topics you’re writing about as this can lead to all kinds of opportunities and interactions (not to mention damage control). I generally don’t respond immediately to these unless they’re urgent but they’re good to keep in mind as I plan my day.

4. Scan Email

Are there any urgent matters in my inbox needing my immediate attention? This is a real challenge as most mornings I wake up to around 100 emails in my inbox (this is after another 500-700 emails are filtered automatically in Gmail using techniques that I talked about in this post on clearing your inbox.)

I don’t reply to many emails at this point – I’m just scanning them looking for important stuff (I don’t always see it unfortunately). I come back to email later in the day.

5. Scan my A-list of RSS feeds

In Google Reader (my RSS reader of choice) I have a folder called ‘A-list’. In this folder I have around 20 feeds from blogs and news sites that I read religiously each day. These are feeds I want to read because they have important news, stories or posts that are directly relevant to my niches.

They are from thought leaders or news sources – I want to know what they say and I want to know it as soon as I can after they write it.

Many days what I read in these feeds will lead me to a post that bounces off their stories, informs me of new products that have been released overnight or alert me to controversy or hot topics in my niche.

Then What?

The above process usually takes me around 15 minutes (on a normal morning where there’s nothing that needs an immediate response).

Remember it’s simply about scanning rather than stopping to respond – unless there’s something important.

At the end of this process I generally have a list of a number of things that I need to achieve in the day ahead. I then attempt to plan my day combining the list I’ve compiled with other tasks that need to be done.

Usually at this point I identify posts that I want to write and publish for the day, schedule in other marketing or admin tasks etc.

I tend to ‘batch’ my tasks together so that I’m not flitting from one thing to the next but instead am setting aside chunks of time for different activities.

Once I’ve got a plan for my day (that usually takes me 5 more minutes to compile) I get to it and start to knock off the things on my list.

One More Tip

I use Firefox and have a number of bookmark folders set up. One of these folders is called ‘start up’. It contains the following bookmarks:

  • All my stats packages
  • TwitScoop
  • Google Reader
  • Gmail
  • A couple of news related sites

Each morning I simply hit ‘command/startup folder’ and each of these sites opens up in a tab of its own. I have them in the order that I’ve mentioned above and simply work through the tabs one at a time. This way I don’t have to think about what I need to do next – all my stats are there ready for me to take a look at first, TwitScoop is open next so I can look at that…. etc

Of course I have to open my Twitter client (I’m using Tweetie at the moment primarily) to check my twitter accounts but apart from that everything I need is open in a tab of its own for me to work through. I simply close down tabs and move on to the next ones as I move through the list.

6 Steps to Get Your Company to Pay You to Blog

Today Alexandra Levit shares some tips for getting your company/employee to pay you to blog.

I recently read that for every person who starts tweeting, another blog dies. But here’s the thing. Back in 2004, blogs were dismissed as a fad, and today there are billions of them. Blogging is not going away anytime soon.

You might be interested in blogging yourself, but don’t have the time or inclination to write one independent of your day job. What if you could be like the hundreds of people at Microsoft who count blogging among their daily responsibilities? Here are a few steps to proceed in that direction:

Develop your area of expertise:

It’s not realistic – or even a good idea – for every employed person in the world to have a blog. For one thing, the blogosphere is cluttered enough as it is, and blogs that have no real purpose for existence will just muck things up even more. You should write a blog because you have a unique opinion on an industry issue and can establish yourself as a credible expert. Hone your perspective by reading literature and other blogs in your field and determining where there’s an unmet need.

Get your writing up to par:

Not everyone has the natural ability write and/or maintain a blog that requires a concise outpouring of coherent thought several times a week. If you want to blog but sense that your command of the written word needs a little fine-tuning, consider a writing class and study how the top bloggers construct their most popular posts.

Test launch outside of business hours:

Your first foray into corporate blogging should not discuss the company you work for – that could get you in trouble. Instead, become involved with the blogging community in your industry, and make your blog as general and helpful to readers as you can. Piggyback on recent news, cite other writers’ work, and watch the accuracy of your facts. While you get the ball rolling, make sure you research/write your posts and do your commenting at home.

Showcase your blog to marketing:

As your blog is gaining traction, study the social media efforts (hopefully there are some) being conducted by your company’s marketing department. Determine the most logical way that your blog could fit into the mix, and then, once Google Analytics says that your platform is flourishing, meet with marketing to discuss it. Make it clear to all involved that your blog is currently independent of your job.

Work out the details:

Marketing may feel that you can add value as an official blogger for the company. This may mean continuing your own blog with company sponsorship, or forming a partnership with a senior executive or group of employees who are already blogging. Ask marketing if they would be willing to contribute to your salary in exchange for using your blog as an outreach tool.

Approach your boss:

Even if marketing offers its support – keep in mind that it may not – you will need to approach your boss about your proposed new responsibility. When you do, talk in terms of value provided to the company. How can allotting you an hour a day to blog pay huge dividends in terms of organizational awareness, genuine customer engagement, and search engine real estate?

As you undertake this process, remember your patience and your humility. I know several people who turned blogging as a side project into full-time gigs at their companies, but all of them started with the heartfelt desire to provide useful content that creates a win for both the reader and the organization.

Alexandra Levit is an internationally recognized expert on business and workplace issues. She writes for the Wall Street Journal and is the author of They Don’t Teach Corporate in College, How’d You Score That Gig, and Success for Hire. Follow her at @alevit.

Want to See My Two New Blogging Projects?

Over the last 24 hours I’ve launched two new projects – both are blogging related.

I’m not sure why they’ve both come at once – I wasn’t planning on doing either at all even 36 hours ago – but sometimes ideas hit me in groups. Here they are – I hope one or both interest you:

1. @ProBloggerDeals

problogger-deals.pngProBlogger Deals is a new Twitter account where I’ll be tweeting out deals for bloggers. I’ve written more about the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of it here – but in short it’s a place where I’ll be sharing promotions, deals, discounts, bonuses, coupon codes (and more) for bloggers.

I don’t think that this will be everyone’s cup of tea – but it’s an attempt to pass on more of the offers that come my way that I don’t pass on here on ProBlogger – simply because there are so many of them.

Two Launch Deals

  • The first ‘deal’ that we’ve got is an exclusive to ProBlogger readers – 30% off the Ninja Affiliate Plugin for WordPress – a very useful plugin that many ProBlogger readers use to help with their affiliate marketing.
  • The second deal is a $20 Discount on any of the licenses at WP Review Site – another great plugin that turns WordPress into a powerful review site engine.

In the coming days I’ll be releasing other ProBlogger Deals including discounts on blogging themes, training resources and more discounts and trial offers on paid tools and plugins.

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2. DarrenRowse.com

I’ve been planning to develop this URL for a while now but have never quite gotten around to it. However of late I’ve had many instances where I’ve wanted to write something a little more personal or reflective and didn’t think it was appropriate to do it here on ProBlogger or on one of my other blogs.

One example of this is my launch post on darrenrowse.com – Who Else Wants to Change a Child’s Life? It’s a post telling the story of a need that I came across through a friend – a class of children who have a total of 4 books between them and a request for people to consider a donation to help buy them some books – I hope you can help me with it.

I’m not sure where this new blog will end up – but I know it’ll be a more personal journey. You can read a little more about my thinking behind starting this new blog here.

Aweber Introduces More Sophisticated Timing Options to Autoresponder Messages

logo.gifOne of the tools that has become central in my own blogging is Aweber. I won’t rehash all of the reasons that I use Aweber but essentially it’s a tool that enables you to allow readers of your blog subscribe to it via email. I use it mainly as a tool to deliver weekly newsletters on my photography blog (I outline some of the benefits of newsletters for blogs here).

Aweber allows you to deliver three kinds of email updates to readers:

1. Broadcasts – this is the tool I use to deliver my newsletters. They require you to manually write up a newsletter and then select a time for it to be delivered.

2. Blog Broadcasts – I don’t use this but it’s a handy tool for allowing you to send automated emails to subscribers based upon your latest posts. Essentially it takes your RSS feed and turns it into email. You can set it to go off automatically at certain times of the week or when a certain number of posts tick over.

3. Follow Up Messages – these are essentially autoresponders or sequences of messages that you send out at predetermined intervals after a subscriber signs up. This is what I used to deliver the free/beta version of 31 Days to Build a Better blog. People signed up and then I set up a sequence of 31 emails to go off every day after they subscribed until they got to the end of the 31 days. I also use this on my photography site to send out periodic special newsletters (see this post on how these drive a lot of traffic to my blog).

A New Feature for Follow Up Messages

Over the weekend Aweber announced an update to their Follow Up message service that makes it a heap more useful.

Previously with Follow Up messages you could only set them to go off at daily intervals. You could choose to send emails at any interval you had no control over the times that they went or over whether they went on certain days of the week. That’s now all changed.

Now you can set daily intervals but you can also set other conditions including times and days of the week.

For example – you can choose that emails will be delivered between 9am – 3pm but only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays. There are quite a few ways that this can be handy. Aweber list a few examples:

  • Look at when subscribers are opening your emails and/or clicking your links (the Opens over Time and Clicks Over Time reports will show you this) and adjust your send windows so your messages stand out at the top of the inbox during those times!
  • Run a weekend sale – schedule one of your follow ups to only send on Friday mornings!
  • Are there certain days and/or times that you know are bad for your subscribers? Use send windows to avoid sending during those days/times!

Another one that I am loving is that when you send two types of emails to readers (ie a weekly newsletter and some autoresponder messages) you ideally don’t want them to hit your subscribers inbox on the same day of the week. Now I can make sure that the autoresponder messages only go out on Monday, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and leave Thursdays and Fridays for the newsletters.
This extra feature won’t be useful for those of you not using auto-responders but for those that do it’s a very handy feature from Aweber.