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Trust – Principles of Successful Blogging #2

trust.pngToday I want to continue our series of posts looking at principles of building a successful blog by looking at the topic of Trust.

A Quick Definition of The Type Of ‘Successful’ Blog I’m Writing About

It might be worth stating that the type of blog that I’m talking about in this series is a blog that isn’t purely about profit or traffic – but a blog that has influence in its niche.

It is certainly possible to build a profitable and/or well trafficked blog without Trust – in fact I know a few bloggers who blog purely for Search Engine Traffic who don’t really care about influence, brand or loyal readers but who just want traffic that they can convert to cash.

These bloggers are certainly ‘successful’ on some levels (I guess ‘success’ really comes down to your goals) – but that’s not the style of blogging that I do and is not what this series is on about.

What I’m on about is helping bloggers to not only be profitable and have traffic but to build blogs that have profile, influence, authority, credibility, respect and a brand that opens up opportunities beyond quick profit.

By no means is my approach the only way to make money blogging – but it’s where I’m at and as a result is what I write about.

Why Building Trust is Important

OK – so now we’re on the same page lets talk about Trust.

I’m not sure we need to spend too much time talking about ‘why’ building trust is important as it’s pretty much common sense – but in short – if you’re looking to build influence, to build a brand that is respected and you want a site that is authoritative – you’re going to have a lot better chance if people actually trust you.

Yes with some clever copywriting and good positioning in search engines you can probably convince people to buy certain products – but in order to build lasting influence – trust is going to need to play a part.

On the flip side – many businesses today have seen the way that a lack of trust or even worse, broken trust can hurt a business, destroy reputations and ruin years of hard work.

So building and maintaining trust is paramount for bloggers wanting to build influence – so how does one do it?

One of the best resources on the topic of building influence through trust online is Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. However as it’ll take a day or two for Amazon to ship you a copy (and I recommend you get one) I thought I’d jot down a few principles of building trust online that I’ve gathered over the years both from my own experience of trusting others and building trust with others.

A Quick Exercise Before You Read Any More

Before you read my thoughts on how to build trust – here’s a very quick exercise to do.

On a piece of paper or in a text document – jot down a blogger or blog that you trust. Under the name – list 2-3 reasons why you trust them.

OK – read on.

4 Principles of Building Trust Online

1. It usually takes time to build

I’m a pretty sceptical guy – I don’t really want to be but after years of being bombarded with marketing messages and experiencing disappointment at expectations not being met by people making big promises my guard is up. I suspect I’m not alone.
While I’m sure there are people who are more trusting than others – I’m pretty certain that most people in my generation (and the generations that come before and after mine) are a fairly suspicious lot. We are capable of trust – but it usually takes time to get there.

2. It is Earned

I do have the capability to trust you – but more often than not it’ll only come once I see that you’re worthy of that trust. An example of this principle hit my inbox this morning – it was from a reader who had just bought my 31 days to build a better blog workbook.

Her email included this:

“I’ve never bought an ebook before, partly because I don’t trust people with my credit card information and partly because I’ve always suspected most ebooks are just fluff…. But after reading your blog for 12 months and being on the receiving end of useful information every day over that time I decided you were probably a credible source of information”.

The sense that I got from her email was that she only made the purchase based upon her previous experience of what I do – something that was earned by providing her with help day by day over a year.

The take home lesson for bloggers is to give value, be useful and prove that you have something worthwhile and authoritative to say on your topic.

Look for ways to genuinely and generously improve the lives of your readers – do this over the long haul and your deposit in the trust bank with readers grows over time.

3. The recommendations of others are important

I still remember (but can’t find a link to) a post by Seth Godin a year or so back where he talks about how he sells a lot more books through a blog post when he’s talking about someone else’s book than his own.

It was the perfect illustration of how the words and recommendations of other people promotion you carry a lot more weight than you promoting yourself.

We’re social beings – we make decisions together – we buy things that others recommend – we trust those that others trust….

This means you have a couple of tasks to do:

  1. Build relationships with others. Some bloggers take the attitude that other bloggers are potential competition and as a result they stay clear of them. However a recommendation from someone else in your industry could be gold – build relationships.
  2. Find Ways to use this social proof. If someone does recommend you it doesn’t hurt to highlight it to others. You don’t need to do it in an ego driven or big headed way – but do find subtle and relevant ways to share it with those in your network.

4. Be Yourself

One of the fastest ways to destroy trust is to be caught trying to be something that you’re not.

  • Make a promise that you can’t fulfil
  • Present yourself as someone that you’re unable to be
  • Make a claim that’s not true

All of these things set up expectations in the eyes of others that can’t be met which will lead to disappointment, anger, disillusionment and as a result – broken trust.

Not only that – I find that people are pretty good these days at picking people who are presenting themselves as something that they’re not. You might not even have to get caught out to have people suspicious (and untrusting) of you.

  • As a result it’s best to be yourself.
  • Let people know what you do and don’t know.
  • Be transparent about your motives.
  • Share your stories of failure as well as your successes.
  • Admit your mistakes.

All of these things make you more human, relatable and help to build trust.

What Would You Add?

I’ve only scratched the surface on Trust with this post – there’s so much more to say and I’d love to hear what you’ve got to say on the topic.

  • What bloggers do you trust (who did you write down in the exercise above)? Why do you trust them?
  • How do you build trust with your readers?
  • What stories and experiences do you have to help illustrate these principles of building trust?

3 Principles of Effective Communication

effective-communication.jpgDo you want to learn to blog in a way that goes beyond just conveying information and helps people to take action on what you’ve written?

Last night as I was watching the new Australian version of The Apprentice I saw a very short segment featuring public speaker Brett Rutledge. The winners of a task were rewarded with a session with Brett to talk about communication and public speaking. The show only showed 30 seconds of Brett but in that very short snippet he said something that resonated with me.

He was talking about principles of communication in leadership – but I think it applies pretty well to bloggers. I’m paraphrasing here but what he said boiled down to this:

To communicate to me clearly you need to do three things:

  1. Give me a Message
  2. Make me Care
  3. Give me a Way to Remember it

I suspect there’s a lot of truth in that for leaders communicating in the business setting – but it rings true for me as a blogger wanting communicate effectively each day through my blog.

Lets explore each in turn briefly (this is of course my interpretation for bloggers on what Brett was getting at with his points).

Give them a Message

I suspect many bloggers work pretty hard on principle #1 – we craft our posts carefully and work hard on communicating clearly – but perhaps the other two elements are things that could lift posts to the next level in terms of getting people to actually take action on the things we write about.

Giving a message of course means we ourselves need to know what we’re trying to convey and what action we want readers to take at the end of posts. If we don’t know what we want people to do it’s pretty hard to get action.

It’s also about communicating clearly and giving people a call to the action we want them to take.

Make them Care

  • When someone cares about what you’re writing – they have much more motivation to take action on it.
  • When someone cares they’re more likely to tell someone else about it.
  • When someone cares they’re more likely to respond to you with a comment.

Communicate something to someone who doesn’t care and you might as well not be communicating!

How do you make them care? I think it partly comes down to showing people how what you are sharing with people applies to them, how it will make some aspect of their life better, inspiring them with a picture of how things will be once they’ve done something – it’s about getting people in touch with their feelings, fears, motivations, values and desires and tying them to what you’re communicating to them.

Give them a Way to Remember It

Have you ever read or heard something that inspired you to go away and take some course of action…. only to promptly forget to do it? I do it all the time. Sometimes I don’t take action because I change my mind, sometimes it is because I get busy and sometimes I just forget to do it (I’m thinking to myself ‘I’m sure there was something else I had to do today).

It’s one thing to communicate clearly what you want and to get someone to care about it – but a whole other thing to get them to actually take the action. A big part of closing the deal is to give them a way to remember what it is you want them to do.

I’d love to hear Brett (or others) talk more about how he helps people to remember what you say – but I find that I have most success in ‘closing the deal with people when I give them something simple, achievable and immediate to do.

6 Reasons to Join the ProBlogger.com Community

Since I announced ProBlogger.com mid last week the ProBlogger Community Forum has grown to well over 1300 paid members (note the member numbers are reported as higher but also include people who have yet to confirm their membership with a payment).

Because it’s a private, walled community it can be a little difficult for those not on the inside to assess whether it’s something for them – so I thought today I’d highlight some of what’s going on inside:

1. Community Challenges

Something that we’re going to run this week is a ProBlogger Community Challenge. In the challenge I nominate a type of post for our members to go away and write up and then everyone shares their links to those posts over the coming days. Then members are encouraged to surf through the list, comment, give feedback and then share those links that they resonated most with their own network.

The idea is that we all do something together, there’s opportunity to learn from how others approach the task and of course there’s opportunity for extra traffic both from other members and from where they share the links that they like.

Update: I’ve just launched the first community challenge – it’s now live.

2. Blog Critiques

We’ve set up a specific area of the forum where any member can share a link to their blog and ask others to give feedback on it.

critique.png

Members putting their heads together on this means that people asking for critiques are getting a variety of responses on their blogs from a community with diverse experiences, skills and ideas. There’s also the opportunity to learn by watching critiques of other blogs.

3. Opportunities for Collaboration

The collaboration area of the community is one of the most active. This is one of the key reasons I wanted to start the forum – putting bloggers together to work together for mutual benefit can lead to wonderful outcomes.

collaboration.png

We’re still only seeing the beginnings of where these collaborations will lead but to this point we’re already seeing some creative ideas. Bloggers are hooking up with other bloggers in their niches to work together, we’re seeing bloggers working together on social media campaigns in groups, bloggers are helping one another with content creation and more.

The effectiveness of this area will only grow as more bloggers join which will open up possibilities to work together with other bloggers in similar niches and locations.

4. Secondary Connections

One of the cool things that I’ve already seen start to happen is people making connections with other bloggers outside of the community. For example in a thread where I invited members to share their Twitter ID’s we’ve had hundreds of people share them and people reporting seeing marked increases in their follower numbers.

While having more followers is nice – the real benefit of this is that these connections have the potential to build the depth of interaction between bloggers, strengthening networks and opening opportunities for fruitful interactions.

Another example of this is groups of bloggers already planning to meet in person at different blogging events. For example there’s a group going to get together at Blog World Expo and a few people asking if there are bloggers in their local areas who might like to have a meet up.

Member Tutorials

Yesterday I added a new area to ProBlogger.com – one for ‘Tutorials’.

There are two main reasons I wanted this area – firstly I’ve already seen a couple of really excellent posts by members exploring different topics. I want to highlight this type of content as I think there’s a lot we can learn from it. Secondly I’d like to give community members the opportunity to have some of their ideas featured here on ProBlogger.net occasionally as guest posts. I won’t use all tutorials submitted here on ProBlogger – but from time to time will use the best and most interesting submissions with the permission and credit to the author.

6. Our Members

1300+ members in less than a week isn’t a bad result if you’re thinking purely about numbers, but what I’m thankful for and excited about is the quality of those who’ve joined.

Members come from all parts of the world, all levels and with an amazing variety of experiences. Already there have been numerous threads where bloggers have shared different opinions on topics in a way that doesn’t tear anyone down but instead where the diversity of opinion and experiences help facilitate learning.

What our 6 of our Members Say about ProBlogger.com

On that note – let me share 6 testimonials from these very same members to finish off this post:

“After recently rebranding my blog and website, I’ve felt as if my blogging attempts have been floundering, and with no support and no one to lean on, I’ve had difficulty finding the inspiration and focus to write. Since joining the ProBlogger Community just a few days ago, I now feel like I’m part of a family who has already supported, encouraged, and helped me to get my focus and determination back! Thanks for creating this community, Darren – I’m truly excited to see it evolve in the coming months!” – Ursula Comeau from UCWebCreations.com

“Without doubt, the new home of bloggers. In less than a week it has established a community spirit that most forums can only dream of.” - Kevin Muldoon from Blogging Tips

“The thing that I’ve really gained from the forums is motivation! Most forums tend to suck up my time, I think I’m barely on ProBlogger.com for more than ten minute before I have to go and write a post, go searching for inspiration or look into a new form of monetisation. Within the first week it’s impressive to see that there’s already a strong sense of community among the members and it’s great to see everyone so willing to help other bloggers reach their goal.” – fern from Craft Blog

“After signing up for Problogger.Community I submitted Summer Tomato to the critique section. I’d never had anyone but friends and family give me their thoughts on my design, and I’ve always been curious what “real” bloggers might think. Within a couple hours of signing up I had wonderful positive and constructive advice on my blog from experienced bloggers, and even a few new readers! As far as I’m concerned this subscription has paid for itself already.” - darya from Summer Tomato

“If you want to grow your blog, you need to work with other like minded bloggers…plain and simple. Problogger.com has been an incredible avenue for blogging collaboration and it is just getting started. It is really a no-brain’er.” – Robb Sutton

“Not being much of a forum user I was a little hesitant at first to sign up at problogger.com, especially since it was going to cost a whopping $1.95 (gasp!), but I’m glad I did. Already I’ve connected with some great people and just having a more personal interaction with Darren makes the cost worth it.” - David Turnbull from Adventures of a Barefoot Geek

“I’m not the best networker in the world but problogger.com has made a massive difference. Without even asking for it, members have gone out of their way to help promote my blog further and being a member has given me so much extra motivation for blogging that my traffic has doubled in the week that I’ve been there! It’s paid for itself many times over already.” – Lee from Smash and Pees

Join us Today

If ProBlogger.com sounds like a community that you’d benefit from we’d love you to join us today. The cost is $1.95 a month (you can unsubscribe at any time) – we plan to increase this price but if you sign up at $1.95 you’ll be locked in at that price and never pay more to get access to the forum.

UPDATE: the introductory price of $1.95 is over. The monthly price is now $5.95.

The process for joining is simple:

  1. just head to the registration page – this registers you as a forum member (but doesn’t give you access to threads until you’ve done the next step and paid.
  2. once you’ve registered and logged in head to the payment page where you select the $1.95 option and will be then taken to PayPal.

Once you’re paid – you’re in! If you have any problems along the way let us know via the contact form on the forum.

PS: I’ve set up a ProBlogger.com Twitter Account to keep people up to date on problogger.com specific news.

PS2: One thing that has naturally started happening is that groups of bloggers have been joining up together. A few bloggers told me that they felt a little overwhelmed by joining and participating in this community as they felt a little out of their league – so they convinced a friend or two to join with them.

A couple have even bought memberships for friends so that they’re entering in with someone familiar that they can buddy up with from the start.

Free Hour Long Call with Andy Wibbels on Blogs and Social Media

Darren-Andy.jpg

Long term readers of ProBlogger will know of Andy Wibbels – the two of us put together a course a couple of years back called Six Figure Blogging – one of the best learning experiences of my life.

Funnily enough we’d never met until this time last year at Blog World Expo but it felt like I knew him really well as we’d spent so much time together.

Andy went on to work at SixApart (makers of TypePad and MovableType – among other products), he’s the author of one of the first blogging books ‘Blog Wild’ and he has a wealth of knowledge in the space of blogging.

Andy’s about to run another course called Blogs and Social Media for Instant Global Impact and is offering a free one hour call on the topic. The call is on Wednesday for those who register (there will be a recording for those who can’t make the live call). I’ll be listening in myself because Andy’s got a habit of packing his calls with useful stuff.

Freedom to Be

I love hear bloggers talking about their journey of blogging and some of the discoveries they make alone the road. Today in this guest post Renee Mayne from Bra Queen does just that.

Everyone has a purpose, a reason as to why they start blogging.
 
Mine was because I had heard “It was good for business” So I started blogging using my business name.

I didn’t get much satisfaction from it because I was always thinking of the business name and my business partner and I was representing all three. I was holding back and wasn’t being true to myself or my personal opinions, I was playing it safe.

However I was enjoying the writing or blogging process and believed in what I was doing so I thought “I need to be 100% myself, I need a title.
 
It’s like when you call a business do you like to talk to a machine or a person?

A person of course,

The exact same goes when you’re blogging and with that Bra Queen was born. I soon become more at home at my blog then at my business so I sold my business to pursue Bra Queen.

Once I gave myself freedom to be… Bra Queen Sky rocketed, I became so passionate with my writing and the topics. I was like a mad woman frantically typing at the keyboard and 80% of the time I was doing so through tears because I felt so strongly about the topics.

I write everyday because you have to be consistent but I vow to write honestly and passionately, everyday.

I look at blogs that I once loved however when they started blogging everyday I felt they lost their passion and drive. You can always tell just by reading them. I really try to just let myself be when I write.
 
The beauty of blogging is it gives people a chance to express themselves. You have a voice and you can be 100% you and people will either like you or they won’t, their choice. But at least you have given yourself permission to be.
 
I have learnt that in order to have a successful blog you have to be:

  • Knowledgeable in your field (you should be anyway)
  • Passionate
  • Persistent

 
If you are those 3 things an abundance of opportunities will come your way.

Those 3 things have brought me this:

  • Immense satisfaction
  • Happiness within yourself and my career
  • My Love Your Life Challenge starts 5th Oct then will be available via e-book
  • Contributing Author in SPROUT WEALTH
  • Contributing writer to various resource websites
  • Oodles of new ventures with amazingly successful people
  • Lingerie and Business Consultant, coaching businesses to a new found success.
  • Multiple interviews online, on podcasts and on the radio.

 
Give yourself the freedom to be!

Are you holding back? Don’t.

The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web [Video Review]

Here’s a quick review of a book that I’ve been reading – The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web – through over the past few weeks by Tamar Weinberg.

It’s a great read!

Apologies to Tamar for mispronouncing her name – should have been more like ‘Tuh-MAR’!

Why Blogging is Like The Wizard of Oz and There’s No Place Like Home. A Polemic or Maybe a Manifesto. For all the Red Shoe Bloggers.

A Guest Post by Kelly Diels.

Wizard of Oz Dorothy Shoes  Adult costume.detail.jpgLet’s mash up reality and assume that Dorothy wrote The Wizard of Oz and it is a memoir told through the lens of pharmaceuticals and it is to be published next year.

Dorothy has written a great book: part trippy fantasy, part freudian/jungian/wonky archetypical therapy, part love letter to friendship, and a prefeminist, feminist, post-feminist meditation on the nature and power of femininity wrapped in a trendy, little-dog-carrying, hot-shoe-wearing package. It is Sex and the City meets Eat Love Pray meets Little Red Riding Hood, on acid. It is a journey. It is a great book. It must be read.

Dorothy knows this. She feels it right from her soul to the soles of her ruby red shoes. She can see the future: a movie. Musicals. The talk show circuit. Oprah. Much money, much love, much conversation, and a place in popular imagination.

It can be all of these things, not because she promotes the flying monkeys out of it – which she will, and absolutely should do – but because it offers a watery answer to our thirsty, questioning souls: you are the author of your own affair. Plus there are weird scary creatures who learn to love each other and grow as twisted, maturing moral entities and we all know that stuff sells. I hear a little book called Twilight is doing quite well these days.

So this book should sell. It needs to sell. Dorothy wants it to sell. Even more than that, Dorothy wants it to be read, to land, to take root, to grow, to inhabit, fertilize and animate our popular imagination.

If I was Dorothy – and I am – I would start a blog before I even started writing the book. I’d go all Seth Godin and build a tribe on Twitter. I’d find my people. I’d give them somewhere to find me. I’d get on the cluetrain. I’d Oprah. I’d firestart. I’d listen to Leo Babauta when he says he doesn’t believe in SEO. I’d make friends. I’d work the aich-ee-double-hockey-sticks out of ProBlogger and spend serious time with Outspoken Media. I’d figure out the lessons learned by our pantehon of blog gods and best-selling writers. I’d figure out the mechanics of demand and distribution and audience and I’d build it and they would come. And if they didn’t come, I’d go get them and then hug and pet and feed them because that is the purpose of promotional tricks and lassos and rodeo ponies and hoopla.

But I would only do that if, like Dorothy, I had something wizardly to offer: the journey. The passion. The learning. The love. The living. The lessons. The magic. The really, really great content. Please.

And this is what exasperates me about the ‘blogging and social media for money’ superhighway. So many times I follow the yellow brick road laid by an enterprising blogger who’s working the system – rocking the comments, manufacturing controversy, guest posting, paper-training SEO, tweeting – and when I get there and pull back the curtain…nothing. No wizard. No magic. No message. Just a lot of mechanics and whirling buttons and a robotic, soulless special effects machine.

Honestly, that’s what a lot of problogging and blogs and social media enterprises are looking like these days. It is turn-key blogging. It is execution unsparked by ideas. It is a waste of time and tweets and it won’t make you money.

Straight up: I don’t make a cent from my blog and I’m certainly not disparaging bloggers who do. I LOVE money. I want money. I want you and Dorothy and every other problogger out there to have as many tiny dogs – more! – as you and your minions can carry. I just want you to make it from selling wisdom, truth, experience or sparkly scarlet maryjanes (and if you are, I’m ALWAYS in the market for red shoes, so please put me on your mailing list). I want you to make an offering. I want you to have something to offer. I want you to be a Red Shoe Blogger. I just made that up.

A Red Shoe Blogger is not blogging exclusively for money. A Red Shoe Blogger has a mission and is animated by passion and all the tips and tricks and hacks and tools and tweets are harnessed in service of that divine, cosmic, helpful, genuine, meaningful objective. That mission is Home.

So this is what I want from all the Red Shoe Bloggers out there: I want you to buck the system, or work the system, but know that the system is not a slot machine that will pay off if only you keep pulling that arm and never ever run out of nickels or take a pee-break.

Success is not just about the systems. The home address of success is passion, talent (let’s be honest), creation, contribution, collaboration, conversation, and community.That is where hot sweaty abundance and cold hard cash reside (FYI, they’re totally a couple) and I wish more bloggers lived there too.

Because, after all, there’s no place like home.

ProBlogger.com is Live! JOIN with 1200+ Bloggers to Improve Your Blog

What would happen if the thousands of bloggers who read ProBlogger each day decided to work together to improve their blogs?

This is a question that has been on my mind lately – I thought it was time to find out what the answer is.

So far 800 1200+ bloggers have agreed to join me in finding out – will you join us too? We’re offering it as a special introductory price of $1.95 a month for access to the forum (once you’re in at that rate you’re locked in at it and it won’t rise).

UPDATE: the introductory price of $1.95 is over. The monthly price is now $5.95.

problogger community.png

I’ve been asked to add a forum area to ProBlogger for almost as long as this site has been live (5 years last week). It’s something I’ve been open to but never quite got around to doing – but lately a number of things have changed my mind including:

1. The success of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Forum – this temporary forum/community rocked and led to quite a few bloggers going into partnerships and collaborations with other bloggers.

2. More and more reports of bloggers forming alliances or collaborative relationships – bloggers have joined together in networks and groups for years now – but lately I’ve been hearing a lot more stories of bloggers forming alliances and collaborating.

3. The realization that while here on ProBlogger people do collaborate in comments – that a blog is really not the medium for it to go to its potential.

Out of all this – I’ve decided to finally launch ProBlogger.com in collaboration with the team at b5media who are looking after the back end of the site.

So far I’ve invited those on my email list to join and 800 1200+ have signed up. Today I’m launching it to the wider community.

Note: You can get much of the information below in a video at the bottom of this post if you prefer that format.

What is ProBlogger.com

  • ProBlogger.com is all about community, collaboration and learning together.
  • It is a paid forum ($1.95 USD per month subscription – more on why it’s paid below)
  • It is a private and moderated forum – walled from the general public, search engines and spammers
  • It’s currently in version 1.0 – a forum but we plan to add features as it grows.

Why is it a Paid Community?

I’m aware that the idea of paying to join a forum is not going to suit everyone and I don’t pretend that it will appeal to all – but there are a number of reasons I’ve taken the decision to put a $1.95 monthly subscription fee on it.

1. I want to staff the forum – there’s nothing wrong with volunteer moderation (and we’ll add this as we go) but I wanted this community to be administrated by a paid and dedicated staff member (Lara Kulpa, who many of you are familiar with) to ensure that the forum is as useful as possible. We’re dedicating 100% of the income of the first 1200 or so members purely to cover this (and then a % of all further membership). My goal is to have Lara full time on this task.

Having a paid community manager is important to me because I know it’ll be run well, well moderated, more useful and that members will be looked after by someone accountable and focused on the task.

2. It’s valuable and I want it to be seen as such – my experience of forums in the past is that they tend to attract a lot of lurkers who join but rarely turn up and contribute. While having a cost on the forum may keep some away I believe it gives those who do join a little more reason to participate. If something costs you’re hopefully more likely to use it and a forum that is actually used is more valuable for everyone.

3. Discourage Spammers – while I fully expect members will successfully promote their blogs in this community – that’s not what it’s really about and I hope that putting a fee on it will keep spammers and self promoters a little more at bay. Feel free to tell us about your blog – but do it appropriately and as a good citizen of the forum. Spammers are not welcome.

The Details on Price and Introductory Offers

The introductory price of ProBlogger.com is $1.95 USD per month. Payment is via PayPal (sorry to those who are not able to use PayPal but at this point it’s the system that is easiest for us to use and is the most widely used option).

This introductory price of $1.95 is a limited time offer. I’m yet to decide on the price that we’ll put it up to but if you join at this rate you’ll only ever be charged this much per month for access to the forum. Those who join later will be charged at the higher rate.

I’m also offering 50% off the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog workbook to anyone who joins the forum in the first month. This is purely an optional thing and not something that I expect everyone will want or need. You’ll be given a discount code once you register and pay for your first month on the inside of the forum for this.

To join simply follow this process:

  1. head to the registration page of the forum here – add your details and join the forum.
  2. go to the forum and hit the ‘complete the registration process by clicking here‘ link
  3. hit the ‘$1.95′ option in the ‘cost’ drop down menu and click ‘order’
  4. this will take you through a process where you can pay with PayPal and set up the subscription – once you have you can head back to the forum and start posting.

Will You Join Us?

At this point we’ve had 800 1000+ members join as paid up members and we’d love to have you join us. You can unsubscribe at any point if you find that it doesn’t fit your needs and stop future payments. While I know it won’t fit with everyone’s situation I do hope that you check it out and join the community as an active member – this will be as good as we make it so get involved!

Here a video (also on the front page of ProBlogger.com) where I go through a lot of the above information for those who prefer to watch and listen over reading!

UPDATE: the introductory price of $1.95 is over. The monthly price is now $5.95.

Should You Use a Localized Domain Name?

I’m regularly asked about local domain names and whether they are worth using on a blog.

My answer usually revolves around the question of ‘what audience are you trying to reach?‘ Let me explain.

When I first secured my own domain name I chose a .au (Australia) domain without really giving much thought to it. I figured as I was an Aussie I might as well include that in the domain and as the .com version of the domain was taken I though it was the next logical step. That was a naive decision and one that I regretted later (although it did have some benefits too).

There were a number of impacts of having a local domain:

  • the blog ranked relatively well in Google.com.au’s results – being an easily identified Aussie site it seemed to get priority when Aussies were searching for terms related to it
  • the blog didn’t rank as well on Google.com - .com domains (and other non localised ones) seemed to get ranked higher in other international versions of Google
  • confusion with readers - time and time again I heard from readers that they kept forgetting to add the .au. As a result they ended up on other sites and some gave up on even coming to the site.

Ultimately it was a mistake for me because my goal was to connect with an international audience rather than just and Australian one. I ended up with some good Aussie search traffic which was nice but it could have ranked better internationally which probably cost me traffic.

Take Home Advice: As a result, I generally advise people to go for a local domain name IF they are trying to reach a local audience. If you’re looking to connect with an international audience go for the .com or another non localised domain like .net or .org (.com is my #1 preference though).

The other reason to get a localised version of a domain in addition to the .com is as a defensive move OR if you think you might produce a local version of your blog at some point in the future. Having the local domain means someone else can’t get it and it gives you the option of expanding into local markets (as Gawker blogs have done with some of their more popular blogs).

Do you use a local domain name? What are the advantages or disadvantages from your perspective?