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Ask Me a Blogging Related Question [Bonus for Workbook Buyers]

Do you have a question about blogging that you’d like to hear me answer?

As a bonus to those who buy the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog workbook I’m going to record a podcast later this week that tackles as many blogging related questions as possible.

The recording will be made available as a thank you/bonus to anyone who has previously bought the workbook or who buys it in future. Get Your Own Copy Here if you’d like to get access.

If you’d like to ask me a question – feel free to either email it via the contact form here at ProBlogger or leave it in comments below. If you use the contact form make your first line of the email include ‘question for 31DBBB podcast’ so I know what it is for. I’ll credit people with their questions unless it specifically says to keep them anonymous.

Questions can be related to 31 Days to Build a Better Blog project, any of the daily tasks in it, or any other blogging related question. I’m not sure how many questions I’ll get but I’ll attempt to answer as many as I can during the recording.

13 Things I’ve Learned about Successful Blogging [My 5000th Post on ProBlogger]

blog-lessons.jpgThis is my 5000th post here on ProBlogger.net. To commemorate the moment I thought I’d share some of the lessons that I’ve learned in building my blogs.

I was recently asked as the last question (with 60 seconds to go) in a radio interview how I’d built my blogs into successful blogs. What follows is what I wish I’d had time to say.

1. Anticipate Growing Trends

I started ProBlogger back in 2004 (after blogging for a couple of years on other blogs) with a suspicion that making money from blogs would be something that would become more and more common. This blog was an attempt to position myself in the middle of that emerging trend, to help shape it and to create a profile within it.

Take Home Lesson: Watch for and anticipate emerging trends and attempt to plonk yourself (plonk being the technical word for it) right down in the middle of them. Of course this is not easy and there’s an element of luck in picking the right trend (see below for more on Luck).

2. Solve Problems and Meet Needs

This blog has always been a ‘how to’ or ‘tips’ type blog. This is not the only type of blog that succeeds but it certainly is a great thing to build a blog around. I’ve started 30 or so blogs over the years and the only three that have had success and survive today take on a ‘tips’ approach.

Take Home Lesson: My mantra of late: ‘solve people’s problems and they’ll come back for more (and tell their friends about you)’.

3. Write for YOU

I began ProBlogger with multiple goals – one of which was to teach myself how to be a better blogger. While I’d been blogging for two years before starting this blog and had been making money from those blogs for a year – I was a the beginning of my journey and wanted to learn more about blogging.

Many of my posts (particularly early ones) have been recording of the lessons I’m learning, research that I’m doing into areas that I wanted to know more about and questions that I asked others to share their experience in (so we could all learn).

I also have a genuine interest in blogging. Again – of the 30 blogs I’ve run over the years its been those that I’ve had a genuine interest in that I’ve been able to sustain.

Take Home Lesson: Blog about topics you enjoy and have an interest in. Write for yourself as much as anyone else. Your readers will be more drawn into your blogging if they see you as the blogger are engaged.

4. Blog over the Long Term and Blog Regularly

In September of this year I’ll have published posts virtually every day on this blog for 5 years (that makes me tired just thinking about it).

5000 posts is small in comparison to some blogs out there but it signals to readers that you’re here for the long haul and are willing to be consistant in providing them with content to engage with.

While it’s not the only factor, sticking at blogging on the one topic for that long and people are bound to start noticing.

Take Home Lesson: if you’re looking for success with your blog – bunker down and set yourself for a long term project.

5. Be Interactive

While it’s an area that can always improve I’ve worked hard over the years to build a blog that is interactive.

Whether it be the comments section (there are now 148,294 comments on this blog), competitions/giveaways, polls, group writing projects etc – I’ve been quite intentional about giving people things to DO when they visit ProBlogger.

Take Home Lesson: People don’t just come online to consume content – many are looking to contribute, interact and belong.

6. Be Personal

I’ve not been overly strategic about this – rather I think it’s my natural style/instinct – but here at ProBlogger I’ve always injected a personal flavor into this blog.

It’s partly about the way I write but also comes out in the video posts that I do, using my own image around the blog, telling about the mistakes I’ve made as well as the successes, writing with emotion (at times), showing a more personal side on Twitter and the stories that I try to inject into my posts from time to time.

People respond well to this – my hunch is that they’re more likely to keep coming back to a blog if they feel they have a connection with a person there.

Take Home Lesson: don’t be afraid to let the real you shine through on your blog. People connect with people not just words.

7. Go Where People Are Already Gathering

I spend a lot of time OFF my blog interacting with people. Whether it be Twitter, Facebook or on other people’s blogs etc – I try to spend time where the kind of people I want to read my blog hang out (as well as the ones who already do read my blog).

When you do this you not only find new readers but you build your brand, meet others who are doing similar things to you to network with and you learn a lot of lessons that you can take back to improve your blog.

Take Home Lesson: Don’t be too insular and just spend time on your own web property – get out there and participate in the wider web.

8. Build Your Brand

My efforts in branding have come about more on instinct than much else but I have worked hard to get the name ‘ProBlogger’ out there over the last 5 years.

I use it (and the logo of this blog) in social media, on the book I co-authored, when I’m speaking or being interviewed and wherever else I can.

I’m fortunate enough (and there’s a big element of luck here in that I chose to use that name for my blog) to have a brand that people actually have come to use in describing those making a living from blogging.

Take Home Lesson: Don’t just think about how you can find new readers – think about how you can make a positive impression upon those who come into contact with you or your blog.

9. Spot and Follow Opportunities

Tuning in to the opportunities that constantly arise around you is one of the main skills that I’d encourage new business owners to work on.

My recent 31 Days to Build a Better Blog workbook is an example of this. I was running this project as a free series of posts here on ProBlogger when participants began to ask me for something that put it all in one document to work on in their own time. I began to see an opportunity to extend the project and the workbook idea was born. I followed the thread of an idea and made it a reality and in doing so created another income stream for my blog.

Note: part of this process is making mistakes. For every thing that I’ve done on my blog that has worked – there are 10 – 20 that have either been ‘average’ and not worth repeating or screaming failures. The key is to try new things – lots of them.

Take Home Lesson: Never be satisfied with the way you currently do things. There’s always a way to evolve what you’re doing now and make it better, to take a mistake you’ve made and flip it into a success story or to grow something that your readers respond well to into a project of its own.

10. Develop Partnerships

I’m very aware of my own limitations. There are aspects of my business and my blogging where I lack skills or where I’m not experienced.

In these ‘weaknesses’ I choose to develop partnerships and relationships with others.

At times this has meant hiring others to do work, occasionally it’s meant bartering or exchanging services with one another and on rarer occasions it has led to business partnerships (almost always this business partnership type arrangement has emerged slowly over time).

Take Home Lesson: While it’s possible to do everything yourself there comes a ceiling where you either need to stop growing or involve others. My main advice on finding people to work with is to take it slow. Develop a relationship, do small things first instead of investing too much into the relationship and work with people you like.

11. Know Your Goals and Stay Focused

I’m not the most organized, disciplined, strategic or structured person in the world.

However…. I do have a handful of overarching goals and values that determine much of what I do each day.

I think it’s really important to have some kind of vision or goal of where you’re headed – without this you’ll easily get off track and become distracted.

Take Home Lesson: It doesn’t need to be a formal strategic plan – but do know why you’re doing what you do and be willing to filter things that don’t fit with that goal from your daily activities.

12. Work Hard

This comes out in some of the points above but I think it needs to be stated again. Some promote blogging as a passive income or an easy way to make money online.

While I know a few bloggers who make a little money with spammy, automated tools – the reality is that the blogs those create will never have great long term success. They might make a few dollars but if you want to build a blog that builds a readership, that builds your profile, that is respected and well regarded as an authority and that is profitable in the long term – you need be ready to work your butt off.

I can’t really speak for others but I know that the success I’ve had in blogging so far has come from a lot of hard work.

Take Home Lesson: Long hours, extreme effort, sacrifice and a lot of time go into building great blogs.

13. Be Lucky

I’ve spoken about this previously but Luck has and continues to play a part of my blogging success (previous mentions on luck include Be Lucky and How to Be Lucky.

While there are times where you make your own luck – there are also times where things do just seem to fall in your lap. The key is to make the most of these instances.

Take Home Lesson: When good fortune does strike think about how you can extend it and make the most of it.

What Lessons Have You Learned about Blogging?

I’d love to hear some of the lessons that other bloggers have learned in their time as bloggers (whether they be long or short journeys). Share your lessons in comments below so we can learn from your experience!

13 Lessons (& Tips) Learned Launching an eBook

ebook copy.pngIt’s been 10 days since I excitedly launched the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog workbook. When it launched I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but I was sure I’d learn a lot by doing it – I was right.

Today I thought I’d share a few of the lessons and tips that I’ve learned:

But first an Update – 31DBBB now has an affiliate program

If you’re interested in promoting the workbook to your network and making a 40% commission from it you can get more information and sign up here. There’s no pressure to be a part of this and if you’d rather not then I totally understand – but I was asked so many times in the lead up to launching this product whether there’d be an affiliate program that I thought it’d be worth doing to see how it took off.

13 Lessons Learned from Launching an eBook

Now onto some of the lessons I’ve learned over the last 10 days:

1. It is Possible to Launch a Product that You’ve published the majority of for free

This was the only real doubt about this project for me. Would people buy something that I’d been blogging a lot of publicly?

The answer was yes – people were willing to pay for all the content to be collected together, updated with some extra material and put into a format that they could have forever and keep dipping into over time.

Ultimately people will buy something that is valuable to them – the feedback I’ve been getting has been incredibly positive. People reporting renewed energy for their blogging, that they’re coming up with create ideas to reinvent their blogs, that they’re seeing upswings in traffic, discovering new ways to engage readers and more. It’s no wonder sales have been so good and the feedback has been remarkably positive – it comes down to producing something that is useful.

2. Partnerships are Important

I’ve relied upon a few people to get this workbook up and running. The team at SitePoint were particularly helpful and very generous with offering to bundle this workbook with every copy sold of their new book Online Marketing. By the way – this offer has only got 7 days yet to run so if you wanted to get the bundle you need to do so soon. You can place your order for the two books here.

3. Reese from Design by Reese rocks

Reese did a lot of the layout and despite some limitations that I put on her that didn’t release her to do what she’d normally do with an ebook she did a great job. Thanks to Albert Hallado for helping me with some of the affiliate banners/graphics.

4. Don’t Launch on the Week of a Major US Public Holiday

While I waited a few days after Memorial Day to launch the workbook I suspect things were a little slower sales wise as a result.

5. Email promotions out performed blog post promotions for affiliates

My initial findings in watching affiliates promote the workbook is that those who have promoted it to their email lists seem to have driven more sales than those who blogged about it.

Those who blogged about it seem to have driven more sales than those who Tweeted about it. While I don’t have enough information on how big people’s lists and readerships are the anecdotal info that I do have is that email won the day for this product.

6. Facebook…. Not so Good

One of the promotions I ran for the workbook was on Facebook by sending a message to all my ‘fans’ on my page there. As far as I can tell that didn’t really convert to more than a couple of sales.

Considering there were 14,500 people who received that message it probably wasn’t the most successful of promotions.

7. E-junkie is a solid performer

I’ve no doubt I’ll write a more extensive review of e-junkie in the coming weeks but I’ve been reasonably happy with my choice to use it to deliver my product. While I’m sure there are other products available with more features and flexibility – E-junkie is cheap yet solid as a delivery system.

I’ve had one hour of downtime with them in the week which was unfortunate but have not had any other problems apart from having a bit of a learning curve to discover all of its features.

8. Building a Network Before You Need it

This has been my catch cry of late when talking to people about social media. If you’re launching a product and decide to get on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and start a blog a week before to help you launch that product – you’re too late.

I’m very grateful for the time that I’ve put into building my network over the last 7 years because this week when I needed it it’s certainly paid off.

9. My Mortgage isn’t Paid off Yet

Releasing this ebook has definitely been worthwhile on many fronts – one of which is the financial reward. It’s more than broken even already – but it’s not something that’s paid off the mortgage by any means.

The great thing about doing it is that it has added another income stream to my business – one that should continue to tick over for months and even years to come.

10. Selling a Product is a lot of Fun

I had a suspicion that it’d be a fun process – but I didn’t realize just how fun it’d be.

I’ll admit that this week I’ve slept less than normal, particularly on the first two nights when I launched (I did major pushes just after midnight my time to coincide with the US waking up) and waited up to see how it went – it is very exciting to see the first few hours of sales of something you’ve worked hard to produce.

11. Pricing is Confusing

Setting a price on this workbook was one of the hardest parts of the process. In coming up with the price of $19.95 I did a number of things:

  1. I surveyed a group of participants in the initial 31DBBB challenge. On average they told me it was worth around $30…. or $1 a day of the challenge
  2. I asked a variety of internet marketer friends – their advice was to charge closer to $50 (in fact the range was quite astounding – some suggested closer to $100).
  3. I asked a few readers of ProBlogger who hadn’t done the 31DBBB course and they all suggested around $15.

In the end I was just confused and decided $19.95 was fairer than some of the higher rates (although a few of them think I’m crazy).

12. Be Confident

Some people are surprised when I tell them this – but I’m a shy guy. In fact on Myers Briggs personality tests I always come up as one of the most extreme introverts that you can get. While I like people I’m usually pretty reserved and always wondering about how I’m coming across. This transfers to how I interact online and many times my natural instincts are to undersell myself and what I do.

Over the years I’ve learned to be more confident in my blogging (to a point where some have critiqued me for having too big an ego) however when I launched this product I found myself going back to some of my old ways of going into my shell. Fortunately a couple of my blogging buddies pulled me up on this pretty quickly and told me not to sell myself short and to tweak what I was doing. As a result I tweaked a few of the things on my sales page (thanks Brian at CopyBlogger for that advice) and snapped myself out of my old shy ways.

While I’m not someone to be into hype or trickery in my online promotions there is a time to step up and sell yourself a little.

13. Keep Working on your Core Business

The last thing I’ve learned is that while it is an exciting thing and a lot of work to launch a product – you shouldn’t forget your core business. I’ve worked hard this week to get the book launched and to do a little extra marketing (interviews, promotion etc) – but I’ve also worked hard to keep my blogs producing content that meets the needs of my readers.

I’ve seen a few bloggers over the years become so sidetracked by the launches of products that they’ve become distracted from the thing that enabled them to launch the product and that will help sustain them over the long haul – their blogs.

Has It Been Worth It?

All in all the experience of putting together and releasing 31 Days to Build a Better Blog has been well worth the effort. While it took a month to write the initial material and then another 2-3 weeks of work to get the workbook together I’ve learned a lot through the exercise and it’s been a rewarding experience.

Thanks to everyone who has picked up a copy already. I’m looking forward to offering some extra bonuses for those who have picked up a copy in the coming weeks (everyone who has already got one will get them too) so if you’re looking for a little extra inspiration and motivation to get your blog back on track – grab yourself a copy.

Why Writers and Bloggers Should not Rely on the Internet

Guest Post by Maryan Pelland from Ontext.com

Bad and inaccurate information from websites isn’t new. The Internet can be a fabulous tool, but it should not be the sole source of information for any factual writing from blogs, to research for fiction, to magazine or newspaper articles. Anyone can create a website and fill it with text. There’s never a guarantee that information online is accurate or current. That’s why writers and journalists should not rely on the Internet.

Here’s a dead-on example of what can happen if a writer sucks information out of a website and spits it out as fact, never bothering to make a verification phone call or send an email to a primary source.

Once upon a time, not long ago, a guy with a website thought he’d do something silly to see if media would bite an attractive lure. On an encyclopedic website (yes, that really big one), Shane Fitzgerald of Dublin posted bogus information about a well-known Frenchman, movie music composer, Maurice Jarre.

Fitzgerald made up a deep, thoughtful comment that Jarre might have said about life. Unfortunately for some professional journalists, Jarre never actually uttered the words in questions. They were fiction. Then Jarre died.

How Bloggers and Journalists fell into the ‘net

It seems a couple of journalists needed filler for their pieces about Jarre’s passing. So off they went to you-know-what-ipedia, looked the old fellow up and cut and pasted the pithy comment that Fitz had added to the encyclopedia. Not just blogs, but major newspapers and blogs in the United States, England, and India used the quote in their Jarre obituaries and articles, quoting as though Jarre had actually said the words. Ooops.

As a writer, you must understand primary and secondary sources. A primary source is the clichéd horse’s mouth. It’s the woman who pontificated the idea; the man who discovered the discovery. You’re obligated to find their phone number and dial them up. Or send an email. You ask direct questions and receive direct answers which you can quote, without making any alterations, or you can paraphrase if you indicate the paraphrasing.

A secondary source is not the original. Secondary is a he said or she thought kind of source wherein someone heard, or read, or decided what the original utterance or action was. Secondary is Wikipedia, Suite101.com, Examiner, and so forth. You can see clearly how facts get diluted here, right? Did George Washington cut down the tree he allegedly took out? Nope. He did not. Someone thought it was a cool story, so they told two people and so on.

Must Bloggers Abandon Internet Resources?

If you choose to get your lead from the Internet or you’re surfing for a story idea, fine. Mull over what you uncover online. But before you present a fact as a fact – whether you’re a blogger, a Pulitzer winner, a stringer, a novelist, or a freelancer – your obligation is to verify facts you present as facts. Find the horse and get him to whinny at you. Otherwise, folks, you don’t know he whinnied. Sure, print what you cull from websites, but say, “I culled this from a website.”

Do that, and you can call yourself a professional writer of blogs, stories, articles or columns. Anything less, and you don’t even deserve the pennies per article some writers settle for in today’s markets. And that is, of course, why writers and journalists should not rely on the Internet.

Read more: Why online markets are flooded with wannabes and Free database of medical, legal and academic experts.

Maryan Pelland is a professional freelance writer with a strong web presence at Ontext.com, WomenDaybyDay.com and DemystifyingDigital.com.

The Weekend is Here… The Perfect Time to Get Your Blog in Order…

I received this email on Monday from a reader (who has given me permission to share this but who wishes to remain anonymous):

“Darren on Thursday I downloaded your 31 Days to Build a Better Blog workbook. I know it’s been only a few days but I’ve half done it already and wanted to share how I’ve tackled it.

When I bought it late on Thursday I decided to get straight into it and set aside the weekend to do as much of it as I could.

I know you didn’t design it to be done as an intensive but I know I work a lot better by setting aside extended blocks of time and doing things all in one go.

I completed about half of the tasks in the workbook over the two days. I’ve done all the ‘writing tasks’ (although have saved most as drafts to publish over the next week) and a lot of the more strategic ones too.

I’ll do a few more this week and have set aside next Saturday to work through the rest of the workbook.

I wanted to let you know that while most people will probably do the process over a month, I personally found it to be just as helpful (more so for me) setting aside a weekend to do it as an intensive training session. I’ve learned so much and came away from the process with so many creative ideas and fresh inspiration – thanks!”

I wanted to share the story of this reader because she reminds me a lot of myself in that she works best when she sets aside specific blocks of time to work on specific tasks. I know whenever my university offered intensive subjects that could be done with full time study over vacation breaks – I always took them.

One blog building strategy I’ve used many times over the years (particularly in the early days when I was working other jobs during the week and mainly blogging in the evenings) is to set aside whole weekends just to work on my blog. Granted, this worked a lot better when I didn’t have kids, but if you can get any day long break from the normal routine of life it can be a useful thing to set aside specific time to improve your blog.

Previously when I’ve done these ‘intensive’ times of blog improvement my focus has been upon a variety of tasks. I remember one recent weekend when I spent most of the weekend writing. Other weekends have been more about promotion, others have been more about design, others have been more about networking.

Whether you use the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog workbook or not to give you some inspiration in these sorts of activities – these sorts of intentional efforts can be significant.

Blogs respond well to work, effort and focus.

Have you ever put aside an weekend or some other period of time just to focus upon your blog?

How I got 12,000 Pageviews for $50

Joey Daoud is a filmmaker and freelance photographer.

Put $50 towards some ads in an AdSense campaign and maybe you’ll get a few hundred click-throughs. What if that same $50 could get you over 12,000 pageviews, plus a mention in the British newspaper the Guardian. Here’s how I did it.

Typewriter

Photo by vinduhl

50 to 12,000

Some back-story: I’m making a documentary on life hacking (finding shortcuts in everyday life to get the boring stuff done quicker), and with that I have an accompanying blog and podcast.

A few months back I was reading a profile on the author Will Self. He made a comment about how he still enjoys using a typewriter because it forces you to write differently and not edit yourself.

I’m always trying different ways of writing, and being in Gen-Y I’ve always had a word processor to punch out essays and articles, so I’ve never had the experience of writing on a typewriter.

I figured there must be a program out there that mimics the behavior of a typewriter, something basic like WriteRoom that wouldn’t let you delete or insert words.

I did a search and came up with nothing. However, the idea of a very minimal text editor that was so archaic it wouldn’t let you delete stuck with me. I figured it was in the spirit of the film, so it would be something cool to share on the site and see what people make of it. And like the blog posts and podcasts, hopefully it would be something people would spread around and help promote the film.

I have no programing experience, so I turned to Elance, the great freelance site where you can hire anyone from virtual assistants to graphic designers to programmers.

I posted the job for a programmer to make this minimal text editor, waited around for a bid that was in my price range, and finally got the minimum $50 bid. After hiring we went back and forth with tests and notes, and about a week later I had the creatively named program Typewriter.

I posted it to the site. A few days went by and not much activity; a few mentions here and there, but nothing big. Then the hit I was hoping for came.

It was posted on Lifehacker. In one day I got 5000 pageviews, plus mentions on dozens of other blogs (it was sad to see how many would just copy the entire Lifehacker post verbatim).

This traffic boost led to more subscribers and sales, plus a greater awareness of the film and blog. And I’m still only $50 out of pocket.

Blog to Newspaper

That Saturday night I got another surprise. One of my Google alerts showed my name mentioned in an article in the Observer, a weekly paper that’s part of the Guardian. It was about the author’s first experiences with word processors, a story prompted by Typewriter the program, which was mentioned at the end (my name popped up when Will Self’s quote was misattributed to me).

At first I thought this was just some online blog on the Observer’s site, but I soon discovered that this was in the actual printed edition, distributed around the world.

It’s been a little over 2 weeks since the post went live, and the post alone has gotten over 12,000 pageviews, not to mention traffic to the rest of the site. All for just $50.

Ideas for your Ideas

Here are some ways you can use what I did to help your own blog and projects:

  • Ideas are cheap to make into a reality. I think the beauty in all of this is that it’s so cheap and easy to implement an idea and see if it sticks. If you have an idea that you have the slightest belief that there might be something there, just do it. Throw it out into the interweb and see what happens.
  • Think beyond your traditional content. As I said I have no programming experience. Plus my blog is about a movie, yet a piece of software became a hit. With Elance and other freelance networks, if you can imagine it someone can implement it (and for not that much). Make an iPhone app. Design an eBook or cool poster as a unique interpretation of your content. Read lots of stuff, related and unrelated to your blog, and keep an open mind and eye.
  • Offer it for free. If I didn’t offer Typewriter for free I don’t think it would have been nearly as popular. Sure, maybe I could have made a couple bucks, but I’m a filmmaker, not a software developer, and goal number one of the program was to promote the film and blog.

I hope you found something useful in this post, and hopefully it gave you some ideas of your own. Now go make them a reality.

Joey Daoud is a filmmaker and freelance photographer finishing You 2.0, a documentary on life hacking. He also writes about film and photography on his blog Coffee and Celluloid.

5 Tips to Help You Get a Blogging Job

More and more people are looking to add a second income stream to their lives by landing a blogging job. In this video I share 5 tips for increasing the chances of finding a blogging job.

This video was sponsored by eHow.com – a place for writers to make money, promote their blog, and share their knowledge.

See the full sized video at YouTube.

If you’re looking for a blog job don’t forget to check out the ProBlogger Job Boards mentioned in the video.

How NOT to Get a Guest Post Published on a Blog [in 11 Easy Steps]

guest-post-mistakesHere are a few quick tips on how not to approach guest posting if you’re looking to have a post published on someone else’s blog. They come from my own recent experience of interacting with a number of bloggers approaching me to write on my blogs.

I should note the most people who approach me about guest posting do it right – so if you’re one of them this post is probably not about you!

1. Using Someone Else’s Content

One of the stupidest things you can do when submitting a post to someone else’s blog is to use someone else’s content. You might laugh, but I’ve had this happen to me numerous times. On one occasion the guest post submitted was extra familiar – it was something I’d published years ago on my original blog!

2. Using Content Published Elsewhere

Don’t submit a post that you’ve already posted on your blog (or that you intend to publish on your blog in the future). This is one of the more common problems I have with guest posts. I’m not sure if people do it intentionally to try to get away with it or that they’re unaware – but having the same content appear in multiple places on the web doesn’t help anybody rank well for that content in Google. Write and submit something unique. If you do intend to post something in multiple places make sure you get the approval of the blogger first.

3. Poor Quality Writing

Let me start by saying that I understand not everyone has the same ability in this department. Let me also say that you don’t need to be the most brilliant at spelling or grammar to be a successful blogger – however one of the main reasons I reject content is around the quality of writing.

4. Content that Isn’t Useful

Successful blogs are blogs that are useful to people in one way or another. As a result successful guest posts are posts that meet needs, answer questions that people have or that solve problems. If your content is not much more than a 500 words that do barely more than touch the topic of the blog you’re unlikely to connect with the audience or make an impression upon the blogger.

5. Self Promotional Content

The main reason that you as a guest poster are likely to engage in guest posting is to get exposure to a wider audience. That’s pretty well understood by everyone – however sometimes posts go too far and become more about the guest poster than anything else. If you’re going to use links back to your own blog inside the post (as opposed to just a byline) then make sure they’re completely relevant to the post itself and useful to readers. If you’re too self promotional you’re less likely to have your post accepted and if it is you could end up hurting your reputation with those who read the post. Read more on this at When Guest Posts Become Too Self Centered.

6. Irrelevant Content

One of the things that surprises me most about some of the guest post submissions that I get is that they don’t relate to the topic of my blog. One submission for a guest post that I received last week was for a post titled ’10 Ways to Prepare for a Job Interview’. The post itself was quite good – however considering they wanted it to be published here on ProBlogger….. it was a complete waste of both my time and the author of the post’s time to submit it to me. While this is a fairly extreme example many submissions that I receive show a lack of understanding of the topic of the blogs that they are asking for a guest post on. The more tailored your post is for the audience of the blog you want to appear on the better.

7. Topics that Have Been Published on Recently

Another reason that I regularly reject guest posts for is simply that the posts submitted are on topics that I’ve recently covered on my blogs. This one is a little tricky because as a guest poster you’re not always fully aware of what the last month or two have seen published on a blog but a quick perusal of the archives or search for keywords will help you identify what has already been covered. Another quick tip to stop this happening is to email the blogger with a topic before writing it to see if it’s something they’re interested in.

8. Writing on Ideas that the Host Blogger Doesn’t Agree with

This is another tricky one that takes a little research to avoid but if you’re wanting to write on a topic that is a little controversial it can be worthwhile finding out what the blogger thinks about the topic before making your submission. There’s nothing wrong with a blog having different opinions shared on a topic – however if the blogger doesn’t agree with what you’re going to write (and has a different ideology) you might want to talk to them about how you can present an alternative point of view without it seeing as though you’re undermining them.

9. Demanding too Much

I have no problem with working with a guest poster to make sure that they benefit from their guest post and fit in with their needs – but occasionally I get submissions from potential guests who place such high demands on when and how their posts should appear that I give up. Remember that you’re a ‘guest’ publisher – while this doesn’t mean you should be walked all over by the blogger you should be polite and not too demanding.

10. Biting off More than You Can Chew

Sometimes I get amazing submissions from potential guest posters who suggest ideas for posts that are so big that they’re actually unable to achieve writing them. Often it’s about topic selection and choosing a topic that is simply too big. Other times it is about saying you’ll have a post ready by a deadline that is just not realistic. Be careful not to over promise or you could leave a blogger without a post on the day you said you’d have one ready.

11. Not Following Up a Post in Comments

This one is common. You’ve written a post, it’s accepted by the blogger, they publish it, readers respond in comments with their own ideas and questions….. and there is silence from you as the blogger. One thing that can help your guest post to stand out and be even more useful is to interact with those who read it. This not only goes down with the readers but it makes an impression upon the blogger. Similarly – another way to make an impression is to actually promote the posts you’ve guest posted. Tweet links to them, promote them on social media sites, link to them on your own blog etc. This all helps your blog to be more successful which helps everyone.

How Listening to a Waiter can Jack your Profits up 33%

waiter.pngImage by marie-ll

Guest Post by Michael Alex Wasylik from perpetualbeta.com.

A Persuasive Profession

When you think of people who know you to use words to persuade, you might think of salesmen, writers, lawyers, or politicians. Few people realize that good waiters (and of course, waitresses) also know how to use the power of words to influence the buying behavior of their customers. After all, the bigger the check and the happier the customer, the larger the tip. So take a look at some of the things this waiter did to juice up his persuasiveness and boost his bottom line.

Invocation of a Higher Power

Our waiter did not, of course, come out and try to convert us to any particular faith. But he did invoke a higher power than himself before rolling out the list of lunch specials. Remember the last time you heard about the daily specials? Odds are, it started something like this: “And today’s specials are…”

Flat. Boring. Weak. Not working, unless the specials themselves are made to sounds tantalizing with vivid language. But our server did something different – he opened up with:

Our chef recommends…

See why that’s different? These aren’t just specials… these are entrées the chef himself would eat if he were at our table. Before he’s even finished his sentence, he’s opened us up psychologically to whatever follows – because what he’s about to say doesn’t come from him, but from an authority. And research shows, humans respond more frequently to requests from a figure of authority. Your readers will, too.

Everyone Else Is Doing It

So let’s say you didn’t want to get the special. Or were torn between two. If you asked this waiter for his suggestion, what’s he likely to say? Another waiter might say, “The fried scallops are my favorite.” Again, weak. Who cares what the waiter thinks? My waiter would have said:

Everyone who orders the glazed grouper loves it.

Why is this better? It invokes the power of “social proof” – the deep-down human need to be part of the herd, to seek safety in numbers. After all, if “everyone” else liked it, odds are pretty good you’ll like it too. Sold!

The Feel-Good Event of the Year

Everyone who’s ever waited table or been waited on knows that the server will check on the table a couple of times to make sure everyone at the table has what they need. When they do, they’ll often use the language of deprivation: “Can I get anything else for you?” In other words… what’s missing? What did I forget?

A better approach, but still not the best one, is the server who comes up to you and says, “How is everything?” The hope is, of course, that you’ll respond positively. But why hope? Why not just come right out and demand a positive response? Here’s what our waiter asked:

So, gentlemen… is everything delicious?

Well, heck yes! Most people, unless specifically unhappy about some aspect of their meal, will answer that question with one word: “Yes!” There are two main reasons for this, and two main effects. First, the reasons.

We want to be liked and likable. Most of us don’t like to go stirring up conflict. So was it delicious? If it’s even close, we’re prone to agree rather than disagree, and then have to explain why – that would be a huge hassle. (Especially if we ordered the “chef’s recommendation!”) But also, if we picked the restaurant, and picked the menu item, and it was delicious, well, that makes us geniuses, right? We pick delicious food at outstanding restaurants with chefs who give the best recommendations. And our friend across the table can go out and say, “Hey, you should go to lunch with Mike! He picks the best lunch places.”

So we’re inclined to agree that our meal was not just edible, not merely good, but delicious. And by extension, so are we. Now that we’re geniuses of selecting lunch cuisine, what impact does that have on this waiter’s bottom line?

When we get the check, and we’re calculating the tip, we’re more likely to tip 20% instead of just 15% because, hey, the meal was delicious. That’s a 33% jump in pure profit.

And before we ask for the check, maybe we want to look over a dessert menu, because that cheesecake is almost certainly going to be even more delicious than the grouper. (Much to the chagrin of my waistline – cheesecake almost always beats out grouper in the “delicious” category.) So the total bill, the one we use to start calculating a tip, will be bigger as well. And that means the tip is bigger.

But there’s one other important effect. We’ve committed ourselves, in public, and in front of our friends, that the meal was delicious. They probably did the same. And when we feel good about the dining experience, we’re more likely to come back, and bring our friends. And our friends are more likely to do that, too. And for restaurants as well as most businesses, repeat customers are the best kind of customers to have… just like repeat vistors are the ones that will sustain your blog over time. Everyone prospers.

What’s In the Doggy Bag?

“Well, Mike…” you’re thinking “That’s all great, but I’m not a waiter. How do I bring this home to my site?”

Simple. Next time you’re trying to persuade your audience to do something – subscribe to your feed, download a report, even buy a product, try at least one of these three things:

1. Invoke the power of a higher authority to influence decisions. Get a testimonial from someone famous. Quote a rating from an industry watchdog. Earn and use the Better Business Bureau logo on your website. Partner with someone well-known in your niche. Or become the authority yourself: write a book, set a record, win a contest. Get creative and you’ll see opportunities to invoke authority in every post.

2. Promote safety in numbers. What’s your best-read article? Your most popular post? Your most-downloaded report? Get specific – offer numbers, names, references, or testimonials. If someone else likes what you do, then the next reader is more willing to take the chance on you.

3. Make your readers feel fantastic about their decision tospend their time with you. If you’ve provided legitimate value to your readers, they should feel fantastic. Gently remind them of this in your follow up: “Thanks for subscribing to my email feed! I hope you find every post as exciting as the one that madeyou subscribe.”

Our chef recommends that you try all three, and watch how they impact your bottom line.

About the Author

Michael Alex Wasylik is a Florida lawyer who first started blogging in 1999. He currently writes for the Florida Foreclosure Fraud weblog and his personal site, perpetualbeta.com – which he’s sure you’ll find absolutely delicious.