Close
Close

How to Launch a Blog and Have Fresh Content for Weeks

This question from James of My Fitness Guide hit my inbox this week:

“My question is, when starting a new blog, do you write a list of all your blog topics first, then plan to write one of them per day, or do you write it all as fast as possible to build your archives, and then try and think of a fresh new blog topic every day?”

Here’s my answer (I’d be keen to hear yours in comments).

James – I generally suggest a few things with regards to content when I’m starting a new blog.

1. 5 Posts Already Published

I like to have at least 5, preferably 8-10, articles already published on the blog – so when people come they can see you’ve written useful stuff already and don’t just see a blog with one post.

At b5media we ask our bloggers to have around 10 posts already written before we launch but I think 5 would be my minimum.

2. 5 Draft Posts

I also like to have at least 5 posts already written but held in reserve as drafts that I can post in the next few days after launch.

I find that when launching a blog you can be a bit distracted by the excitement of it all, by promoting it, by responding to comments etc – so content creation can sometimes take a bit of a back seat.

If you have 5 posts in reserve (I’d even prefer to have more than that) it means you can keep any momentum from the launch going for at least 5 days without having to write a whole lot more. In fact I usually start a blog with just 3 posts a week and gradually increase the frequency of posts over time – so 5 posts in reserve can almost last two weeks.

3. 20 Post Ideas

Lastly – I also like to have a list of possible topics to write about in future (I try for at least 20).

I actually like to write this list as part of the process of even deciding whether to choose a topic or niche because it helps me to work out whether I’ll be able to sustain writing on that topic for the long haul.

If you can’t think of 20-30 post titles/topics pretty easily before starting a blog it could be a signal that you’ve chosen the wrong topic.

Having this list at your fingertips means you’ve always got a topic to write about in the first month or so of your new blog.

And You’re Off and Running

I find that between having a few posts already up on the blog, having a few in reserve for the coming few days and then having a list of topics to write about that creating content for a new blog is not that difficult.

The numbers of posts that I’ve mentioned above will vary from person to person (and even for me I’ve not always exactly followed this formula) but I think it’s probably a pretty solid way forward.

The only thing I’ll add is that it’s really important to put your best foot forward in terms of the quality of your content in the early days of a blog.

Of course you’ll want high quality posts as every post on your blog going forward – but a few really high quality and engaging posts in the first week of your blog can really launch it and help establish some good traffic and subscriber numbers in the early days of its life.

What Do You Do When Starting a Blog?

I’m interested to hear what your experience is with creating content on a new blog? How many posts do you launch with? How do you keep the posts coming in the early day of a blog?

Add Social Proof to Your Blog With TweetBacks

tweetbacks.gifIn this post Dan Zarrella tells us about a new tool he’s created for bloggers – TweetBacks – a tool that allows you to add instances where your blog has been mentioned on Twitter to your blogs comments section.

A few days ago, I created the first implementation of TweetBacks (see the WP plugin here), which is a porting of the idea of trackbacks to Twitter. By first reverse engineering a bunch of the most popular URL shortening services, it then searches Twitter for Tweets that link to your post. These Tweets are then displayed under your original post (either above or below your comments section).

Beyond simply adding a new layer to the conversation and allowing your readers greater flexibility in how they choose to respond to your content, it also adds an important factor in “going viral”: social proof. By showing your readers how many other people have also liked your post enough to share it, you tap into a powerful human tendency towards imitation.

I’ve written about the power of social proof in viral and social marketing before, but this is one of the most direct and effective ways to accomplish this. Tweets are a lower-commitment, easier way to share content than either traditional commenting or blogging, and therefore lowers the bar for your readers to join in the conversation.

Something like 3/4 of all ReTweets include a link, effectively making them a form of TweetBacks. I plan to integrate TweetBacks into myReTweet mapping system, moving towards a more general understanding of ReTweets. If you’re using my javascript-based implementation of TweetBacks, that system will be able to include your blog and content, and you’ll also be able to visually and granularly track its spread through Twitter.

5 Steps for Planning the Direction of Your Blog in 2009

Last week I shared a series of questions for bloggers to ponder as they look back on their last year of blogging.

The point of the questions was not to engage in a navel gazing exercise but to look back with the objective of identifying how a blog has been performing in order to improve it moving forward.

Today I want to suggest a process for thinking about the future of your blog.

I’m not sure that this process appears exactly like this in any strategic thinking books or teaching but it is the process that I use when I periodically look at how my blogs and business is going.

Here’s a quick visual with some questions to explain each step in the process:

goals.png

Hopefully the diagram speaks largely for itself but let me extrapolate slightly on each step.

Step 1 – Define your Mission

This is fairly big picture stuff and for me actually goes wider than just why I blog and more fits with my overall life mission. I guess it’s about looking at your overall purpose and direction – what you want to achieve etc. Having this firm in your mind then enables you to work out how blogging fits into that overall purpose.

Step 2 – Paint a Picture of Your Vision

This is still pretty long term and looks beyond the coming year to where you want to eventually take your blog. It’s a picture of a reasonably distant future. Dare to dream a little and think big in this stage.

Step 3 – Make Goals

Now we’re drilling down into the year ahead. Where do you want to be at the end of 2009? Hopefully it’ll be somewhere towards your ‘Vision’ and have helped you to accomplish some of your ‘mission’ – but what will your blog look like, be doing and have achieved this time next year? Dare to think big but keep in mind that it needs to be achievable. You don’t need to have done everything in your vision in 12 months – these goals are stepping stones to the eventual goals.

Step 4 – Devise a Strategy

What are you going to need to DO to get to your goals? Usually this means some kind of ‘change’ in your approach. Do you need to blog more, start a new blog, change your topic slightly, hire a writer, network with other bloggers more, start using a new method for promoting your blog, follow what others are writing more, build community engagement, redesign your blog etc? Think about strategies across the different activities of blogging that will take you closer to your goals.

Step 5 – Set out an Action Plan

Most people set ‘resolutions’ in their lives (and for their blogs) that are quite ‘general’ and wishy washy in nature. ‘I’m going to lose weight’, or ‘I’m going to find a girlfriend’. While these resolutions are great they are often not achieved simply because while a decision is made to do something – the person making the decision puts no actual plan in place for ‘how’ they’ll do it. The same is true for thinking strategically about your blog. ‘I’m going to get more traffic in 2009′ is a great goal – but what are you doing to specifically focus on DOING to get that traffic. Your action plan should be made up of very concrete tasks that you’ll do in the coming months. I will write 5 posts a week – I will email 7 readers each week – I will leave 1 comment per day on another blog in my niche – I will write a guest post for another blogger each month – I will run a competition on my blog in June.

The above 5 steps are the way I approach planning on my blogs (in fact it is how I do it in other areas of my life also). I actually do this for each of my blogs. The mission generally is much the same for each one and at times there are similarities in other steps.

This process will not be for everyone but I think can make a useful starting point for thinking about your blog in 2009. Some personality types will find it easier than others to think this way – actually for me it is not a natural way of thinking – I’m quite impulsive and this is a real effort to do. You might find some steps in the process more natural and quicker to complete than others but thinking things through from the big picture right down to specific tasks will hopefully help you to not only plan but make the changes you need to make in order to achieve your dreams.

How to Create Great First Impressions on New Readers and Convert Them Into Loyal Readers

This video has been around for over a year now (I made it just after ProBlogger was last redesigned) but I think it’s particularly relevant for this time of year when many bloggers are looking at refreshing the look and feel of their blog.

First impressions matter both in real life face to face interactions with new people that you meet AND the first interactions you have with new readers. In this video I examine 5 ways you can improve the impression that you leave on first time readers and give three questions to ask when thinking about how to leave good impressions on readers.

Of course overarching all of what I mention is that your content needs to be of the highest quality to create a good first impression. Your design, titles, tag lines etc can all be amazing but unless you’ve got something useful and unique to say – the first impression will not be as good as it could be.
[Read more...]

The Essential Guide to Growing Your Blog on Minimal Time

This is a guest post from Leo Babauta of Zen Habits, author of the new best-selling book, The Power of Less.

If you’re like most bloggers, you probably want to grow your readership as quickly as possible, but don’t have much time.

Unfortunately, blogging usually takes a lot of time — writing blog posts takes up a fraction of most bloggers’ time, as they also check their stats and earning multiple times a day, customize their blog design, try out new blog ad systems, comment on many different blogs, spend a lot of time doing email, and so on.

If you let it, blogging can become two full-time jobs. But get this: you can grow your blog quickly on very minimal time, by setting limits and focusing on the essentials.

I’m just one example: I grew Zen Habits into a Top 100 blog within its first year even though I was working a full-time job and doing free-lance writing on the side — giving me only about an hour a day to work on my blog, total. I probably could have spent more time blogging by working in the evenings or on weekends, but I have a family that’s more important to me than blogging.

So how did I grow Zen Habits so quickly on so little time? Well, I figured out through experimentation what grows a blog the quickest, and I learned to focus my time on those things. And guess what? Checking your blog stats and earnings — even though it’s the thing than many bloggers do most throughout the day — doesn’t really grow your blog, at all. What does? More on that below.

Limits

The key to growing your blog with minimal time investment is to set limits on how much time you’ll spend blogging. As I said, blogging can easily expand to fill your entire day, if you let it. In fact, whatever time you allocate to blogging is the time that blogging will take.

So limit your time to something manageable … for me that was 1 hour a day, for others it might be two hours or even three, and for still others it might only be 30 minutes. It really depends on how much time you have. Don’t spend less than 30 minutes on blogging, though, if you’re really serious about it. I’d say an hour to two is ideal. Any more than that and you’re not really setting limits.

So what happens if you set a limit of say, 1 hour? You could waste that hour by doing fruitless tasks, and then your blog will get nowhere. But if you’re smart, you’ll focus on the key tasks that will really help your blog, and nothing else. By setting limits, you’ll force yourself to choose only the most essential tasks.

If you gave yourself 4 hours a day, you could do a lot of tasks, but maybe only 1 out of 4 of those tasks would really grow your blog. If you gave yourself 1 hour a day, you’d have to eliminate 3 out of 4 of those tasks to fit within the time limit, and (again, if you’re smart), you’ll choose the most effective tasks.

Set a timer each day and work within the time limit. And while you’re doing so, be sure to do the most effective tasks first, and if you have time left, go to the next most effective tasks, and so on.

Essentials

So what are the most effective tasks for growing your blog? It depends on your blog, your goals, your niche, your target audience, and other such factors, but below I’ll share the things that work best for me. Other top bloggers might have different findings.

Experiment to find your essential tasks, and once you’ve found them, focus on them completely. Here are my essential tasks for growing a blog:

1. Writing outstanding articles. This is the No. 1 essential, by far. If you only do one thing each day, this is it. A great post might take more than an hour — that’s OK, do half of it today and half tomorrow. The main reason people come to your blog, and the main reason they’ll keep coming back or subscribe, is because your content is amazingly useful (or interesting, or both). So focus on creating those posts they’ll really want to read. You should be coming out with outstanding posts, with catchy titles/headlines, at least once a week, and probably 2-5 times a week (I am for 4 these days but had 5-6 in my early days).

What is a useful post? Well, this post is an example, I hope — it contains a lot of valuable info and tips on something that people really want to do. Check out Zen Habits for more examples — I try to make almost every post an outstanding one.

2. Linking, and link-bait. This could fall under the same category as the above tip, but sometimes it gets overlooked. Linking to other blogs is a great way to help out your fellow bloggers, get them to notice you, and build up some link karma. You could do it with a daily or weekly links post, but too many of those can get tiring for readers, so I recommend you keep it to weekly at most. Instead, link to other blogs from within your useful posts, and sometimes you might consider doing “linkbait”-type posts where you do a really useful post that links to a lot of other bloggers — for example, my “Top 50 Producitivity blogs” post that I did more than a year ago … a lot of bloggers appreciated being in that post, and just as I sent a lot of traffic their way, they sent some back. Everyone wins.

3. Guest posts. If you’re not writing guest posts every week or two, on blogs that are bigger than yours (even just a little bigger is good, but the bigger the better), then you’re not really trying to promote your blog. In my early days, I did 2-3 guest posts a week on other blogs, and as a result I was everywhere. It’s the best way to promote your blog on other blogs, because you’re showing the other blog’s readers how good you are. Be sure to write your absolute best whenever you do a guest post.

4. Commenting. First, be sure to read through the comments on your blog and respond if you can — this could take just 10 minutes if you do it quickly. Second, spend another 10 minutes if you have the time to comment on other blogs — and don’t just spam them, but actually say something relevant, useful and interesting. It helps you get noticed, and helps you become a part of the network of blogs (especially in your niche).

5. Email and networking. It’s important to respond to reader email, and to network with other bloggers through email, IM, Twitter, etc. Networking helps you to grow, definitely, but if you let them, these connectivity tools can overwhelm your day. So put them last, and limit them if you can. If your time is limited, just do the emails you can process in 10 minutes. Increase that to 20-30 minutes if you have more time, but don’t spend hours on these tools.

Minimize Non-essentials

Just as it’s important to focus on the essentials, it’s crucial that you limit and try to eliminate the non-essentials as much as possible. While you have to work on these things a little, now and then, don’t let them fill your allocated blog time.

1. Blog stats and earnings
. Sure, I like to check my stats daily — but only once a day, and only for a minute or two to make sure everything’s OK. In the early days I became a little obsessive about checking blog stats and earnings, but after a little while I figured out that it wasn’t a smart use of my time. Blog earnings (from ad networks such as Google Adsense) are fun to look at, but if you’re like most blogs you won’t make a lot of money in the early days, until you have a lot of readers. So focus instead on growing the readers, and worry about the earnings later.

2. Ad networks. Many bloggers get excited about earning a side income (or even a main income) from their blog and throw every ad network possible on their blog — in fact, the ads often overwhelm the content. But that’s counterproductive — readers don’t go to a blog to read the ads, and if there are too many ads, the readers might leave or unsubscribe, never to come back. Instead, consider putting no ads, or as few as possible, in your early days … you’ll miss out on very little in terms of earnings, and you’ll probably grow even faster as a result. At any rate, fiddling with ad networks is very rarely worth your time — it does nothing to grow your blog.

3. Blog design. A good blog design can definitely help grow your blog — if it’s clean, uncluttered, attractive, and professional-looking, I think a lot of readers will be more likely to stick around. But spending a lot of time on your design when you could be writing great posts is not a smart use of your time. Instead, pick a clean, uncluttered theme, customize it as needed, and leave it alone. Maybe once in awhile you can remove a little clutter to make things more attractive, but most of the time. leave it alone.

4. Blog memes. As far as I can remember, I’ve only participated in one blog meme — those things where bloggers answer the same 5 questions (or whatever) and “tag” other bloggers to do the same. That’s not because I’m stuck up, or think these memes aren’t fun. They are fun. But they’re rarely of much interest to your readers, as they’re not that useful. Sure, they like to read a little about you, but too often and you’re just stroking your ego. Stay away from these memes if you’re looking to maximize your time.

5. Reading lots of other blogs. Don’t get me wrong — you have to read other blogs, especially in your niche, to stay on top of things. But if your time is limited, your reading time should be limited too. Reading 50 blogs instead of 10 doesn’t grow your blog any more.

6. Plugins and widgets. WordPress plugins and widgets, while fun to play with, don’t grow your blog very much, if at all. Don’t mess around with them too much. Focus on content.

7. Social media. Some bloggers spend a LOT of time on Digg, StumbleUpon, and other such social media. And while it can help tremendously to have a popular post on one of these social media, spending time on them isn’t the best investment of your time. Very, very few bloggers ever become a top user on these sites — it’s really hard, and worse yet, it takes a lot of time. A better use of your time is to write a Digg-worthy post, or a post that will spread like wildfire on StumbleUpon or Delicious — not because you’re friends with lots of the users, but because it’s insanely useful, interesting, controversial, or what have you.

Focus

Even if you’ve set limits and identified the essential and non-essential tasks, it’s easy to get distracted. It’s important that you learn to clear away distractions, such as email, Twitter, IM, social sites and even general Internet browsing, so that you can focus on the important tasks.

If you look at the essential tasks that I listed above, most of them are writing — which means you could do them with the browser closed, in a word processor or text editor (this post is being written in TextEdit, for example). This really helps you to clear away distractions and focus.

Once you’re done with the writing, you can connect and comment and do email, but even then try to stay away from the distractions until you’re done. Then if you have spare time, feel free to go wild.

Read more from Leo Babauta in his new best-selling book, The Power of Less: The Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essentials … in Business and in Life.

Two Tips on Landing Interviews for Your Blog

Last week on Twitter I had a discussion with a number of followers about landing interviews with other bloggers as a way to generate interesting content for your blog. One of the responses I had via a direct message from a follower was:

“I’m too shy to approach big bloggers for an interview – do you have any tips?”

Two ideas come to mind:

1. Don’t just approach ‘big’ bloggers

While many successful bloggers are willing to do interviews you might find you have more success if you target mediums sized blogs initially. While there is nothing wrong with aiming high – some bloggers are more likely to do an interview with you if you can show them a few other interviews you’ve done you might have more success.

2. One question interviews

One of the best ways to get even larger bloggers to respond is to keep your interviews very simple. The fewer the questions and the easier that they are to answer the more likely you are to get a response. Take this to the extreme with a ‘one question interview’ – a single question that is answerable in a few sentences.

You can then present the answers in a couple of ways:

1. As a single post – combine all the answers to the same question in one post. In this way you get a post that is quite long and explores the topic in a variety of ways (hopefully).

2. As a series of posts – I’ve done this a couple of times when going away for a vacation. I present each answer as a single post (or sometimes group shorter ones together) and then drip them out onto the blog over a series of days (here’s an example of the index page to one such series of one question interviews).

Not everyone will respond even to single question interviews but you’ll be surprised how many will.

Further Reading – here’s a post that I’ve previously written with 8 tips on How to Get and Conduct Interviews for Your Blog.

PS: one other point that I feel compelled to make after a day when I had a lot of requests for interviews (for some strange reason they all came at once). The feeling that I came away from most of the requests today with was ‘frustration’. The frustration came from most of the requests simply asking too much.

Over the day I had 6 requests – one of them had two questions and was quite manageable, the other 5 requests had 7, 9, 10, 11 and 15 questions attached. When I reluctantly responded to the one with 9 questions (it took 2 hours to do) the interviewer then wanted to send a series of follow up questions!

While I understand the desire to do comprehensive interviews that go beyond scratching the surface – sending someone a series of 10 or 15 questions is quite overwhelming. Unless the questions are ‘yes’ or ‘no’ type questions a question can take 10-15 minutes to answer if done comprehensively – this adds up when you ask a lot of questions.

How Does Your Blog Grow? A Tool for Analysis

In this post Mara Rogers of http://www.SecretsForMoney.info shares a reflective exercise to help you grow your blog.

To be objective about his or her blog tends to be a challenge for most bloggers.

Often bloggers are in love with the ‘idea’ of their blog, so taking an impartial look at the overall ‘health’ of their blog is difficult.

Yet for continued blog growth and success a blogger must have consistent clarity!

You must take an account of where your blog has advanced and where it has declined—its strengths and weaknesses—and review it often.

At http://www.SecretsForMoney.info I am relentless when it comes to taking a cold, hard look at my blog so I encourage its successful growth. Sometimes my strategy has to change and I have to re-prioritize my action steps several times during each day, depending on what has been working and what has not during a specific timeline.

And no, that doesn’t come easy, it is tough-love.

So, I have a game to share with you that will make your time of it easier and more fun! It is a tool that life-coaches give to their clients when the client needs to gain perspective in a specific area of his/her life.

I have used this game very successfully with bloggers. You too will be surprised by the variety of answers you will come up with, and after all, bloggers are typically extremely creative.

Many of the bloggers felt it was as if they had looked into a crystal ball and were given a glimpse of their past and present, and a prediction for the future of their blog.

Try this game that will give you a neutral and accurate analysis of your blog, so you know what your next strategic action steps should be to grow your blog more efficiently and faster.

Take a leap of faith—this game is an analytical tool that works!

Here we go: Picture your blog as a rose garden and you are the gardener of this garden.

  1. What does your rose garden look like?
  2. What are you doing or experiencing as the Gardener?

Depending on what you answered to these important questions, I will then give you some strategies to grow your blog during nature’s seasons.

Do not read further until you type or jot down what specific images you got in your minds-eye when you answered these two questions above.

Let yourself have a stream of consciousness, do not edit your responses. Be detailed, draw a picture if you want, no one sees your answers or picture but you.

Remember, all the flowers of tomorrow are in the seeds of yesterday.

Now, you can read on—

(1) What does your rose garden look like?

If you answered this question with any of these following answers:

  • There are not many rose plants in my garden.
  • There are rose plants, but they are not very tall or full with roses.
  • The rose plants are withering and/or drooping.
  • There are rose plants but not many rose blossoms on them.
  • There are rose plants with blossoms, but the blossoms are tightly-closed none of them are open.
  • Some of the rose plants look diseased.
  • My rose garden seems to be too much in the shade/too much in the sun so it isn’t growing well.

Then my advice to grow your blog is:

It is time to break new ground!

In general, your blog is not growing now.

Cultivate your blog so that it flourishes.

Here are some ways to grow your blog that when done consistently over time yield successful results.

Stats: First you must know what you have planted and monitor its growth. In other words, on a daily basis review your blog/site stats.

The stats reveal to you what steps you must take—what is working to gain interest for your blog from visitors and what traffic and stickiness does your blog have—and what is not working — what you need to work on.

The stats should show you:

  • What are the top posts and pages.
  • What are the most active posts.
  • Who are your referrers (what links were clicked to get to your blog).
  • What search engine terms did people use to get to your blog.
  • What are your incoming links.
  • What links people are clicking on within your blog.
  • What are the total views of your blog.
  • What are the number of views today of your blog.
  • What is the busiest day to-date for your blog.

Content: You need to increase the amount of content you have. From your stats and comments from your visitors you can glean what people visiting your blog resonated with. Whatever that is, do more of it!

And if they are asking for topics in their comments and emails to you that are topics that are appropriate for your blog niche then write those posts too.

You can also check-out the subject of your blog and your blog posts against the “2008 Google Zeitgeist” http://www.google.com/intl/en/press/zeitgeist2008/ to read about the highlights of Google searches from around the world, which sheds light on emerging trends and much more.

In addition, “Google Trends” http://www.google.com/trends/hottrends tells you what keywords people are searching for on a daily basis.

Promotion: To increase traffic to your blog I am going to share some steps that for the front-end amount of time you have to put in, the back-end results are very good and effective. Please know that these are just a few, always be on the lookout for way to promote your blog and keep a running list so that you stay accountable for improving your blog’s visibility.

(a) Distribute online videos to multiple sites. Be certain that your Blog name and URL is in the accompanying text description and in the video too of course. I have heard very good feedback on the free service “TubeMogul” http://www.tubemogul.com though at the time of this article pub date I have not personally used it yet.

(b) Submit some of your articles to “Article Directories”, also called “Article Banks.” If you Google the term you will find lists of such sites. There is even software available nowadays that you can use that help in the submission process. Do some due diligence before buying any software first though, you may decide to do it manually.

(c) Look for automatic ways for promotion that work while you sleep. One example is creating a page for your and your blog on “Facebook” http://www.Facebook.com and import your blog posts as notes. You will see the “how-to” behind this once you are a Facebook member.

(2) What are you doing or experiencing as the Gardener?

If you answered this question with any of these following answers:

  • When I walk through my rose garden, it seems that there are thorns everywhere.
  • When I walk through my rose garden, all I see are weeds, they appear to be strangling my roses.
  • Too many leaves are falling of the rose plants, I don’t know what is wrong.
  • The roses are growing so quickly I can’t keep up with their care.
  • The weather forecast looks bad for my rose garden.
  • I work the soil of my rose garden all the time and take great care of my roses constantly.
  • I don’t know what variety of roses to grow, or what colors.
  • I am not sure how much to water my rose garden.
  • I am not sure how much sunshine my rose garden needs.
  • I am unhappy with how my garden looks. Maybe it needs more variety of rose plants, or more colorful rose plants.

Then my advice to grow your blog is:

Be land-rich not poor as dirt!

Overall, you are probably a little overwhelmed with the demands and upkeep of running a blog. If your blog is monetized, then you have a business. And grooming a business for success is no easy task.

As the saying goes, you are digging yourself into a hole. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the turn-of-phrase).

You need to take a pause, a breather—not only to re-energize your self, but also to have a chance to re-evaluate the direction your blog is going.

If you are moving at warp speed there is no way you are making clear decisions, and you may be wasting a lot of time on tasks that are not top priority, that is the slow way to grow a blog, and the slow way to wealth of any type.

To that, you will probably say “I can’t even take ½ hour off today Mara—there is too much to do!”

Yes, I know, there is always so much to do with a blog, but you are now on a path to what I call a “blog-oholic” and if you continue at this pace you will have ‘burnout’ from overworking.

You must avoid this! Achieving work-balance is tough especially in this creative, and ever-changing field.

Here are some pointers to keep your sanity, avoid stress and have fun and success while you grow your blog successfully:

  • Systemize: Create systems for as much as possible to reduce your workload. At http://www.SecretsForMoney.info I try to implement as many automated systems as possible. Not just the obvious such as an Autoresponder, but also for smaller tasks. One of many examples is that I wanted all my blog titles to be in green colored ink. Now that facet is automated. This saves countless hours for the infinite lifespan of my blog, I don’t have to type in color code for each blog post title. Maybe doing this manually only takes 1 minute, but if you multiply that by the number of posts…I just saved a tremendous amount of my precious time. And my time cannot be replaced.
  • Partner: You may feel married to your blog, but you can also partner with other bloggers so that you are not the only Author on your site/blog. This will create more time for you, not to mention open-up more opportunities.
  • Prioritize: Label your tasks, but only a few realistic tasks per day, so that you always feel that you accomplished something. Then bask in the victory of that.
  • Gain Perspective: Listen to your own “pace”—schedule what days and which hours you will work, do so in smaller chunks of time. Such as Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 2 hours each day to just write posts. Then schedule time for blog maintenance, administration etc.

But make sure to also schedule relaxing time to do what else you love to do, such as a power walk outside or a jog to clear your mind, rejuvenate and gain perspective.

It is a fact that the more relaxed a person is the more creative and productive they can be, and of course happier.

Cultivate the garden within my friends.

So there you have it blog-gardeners, you have already put down the roots, now it is time for you to bloom too!

Happy planting!

Copyright © 2009 by Mara Rogers of http://www.SecretsForMoney.info

Mara Rogers is the Founder of http://www.SecretsForMoney.info where your capacity for all the wealth currencies: money, time, health, and love is increased through Secret For Money’s personal development and financial articles. Subscribe to the free Secrets For Money blog at http://www.SecretsForMoney.info

When Being the Number 1 Blog in Your Niche is Not Enough

“I’m the number 1 blog in my niche but I’m not getting much traffic – do you have any words of advice?”

This question hit my inbox earlier today and I thought I’d repost part of my reply here as I think it could be relevant to more than the blogger concerned. Here’s most of my response (I’ve removed reference to the blog concerned as I don’t have permission from the blogger to identify it):

Congratulations on the success you’ve had with your blog. It is great that you’ve hung in there for two years now with the blog and grown it as much as you have. It sounds like you’ve worked hard to find your voice, build a core community and establish some profile and credibility in your niche.

One thought that came to mind regarding your question was that perhaps you need to widen your sites a little. While it does seem that you’re the number 1 blog in your niche (I can’t find any on your topic on Technorati with a ranking as high as yours) you are certainly not the number 1 site on the internet on your topic.

Many bloggers only see their competition as other blogs on their topic and in doing so ignore other types of websites in their niche. For example when I search on Google for your topic I find 3 forums, one social media site and a couple of other static/informational websites that not only rank higher in Google for your keywords but which seem to do significantly more traffic than your blog (according to Alexa and Compete’s stats).

I don’t say this to discourage you but in the hope that in widening your sites about your ‘competition’ that you’ll be driven on to think bigger and improve your blog.

Some practical words of advice for you are to see what opportunities there are to interact in these other websites in your niche. I know you are active in commenting on and networking with other blogs in your niche but what about getting involved in the forums, contacting the other website owners and getting active in the social networking site?

You’ve grown your blog to the point you have partly by the networking and promotion you’ve done within the blogging community – but think broader and you might just find yourself not only being the number 1 blog on your topic but being the number 1 website of all types.

How To – Move From WordPress.com To WordPress.org

WordPress To WordPressMoving a Blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org is something I’ve had a lot of questions about – today Jeff Chandler shares tips on how to do it.

Everyday it seems like I find a story or two from a cities local online newspaper which delves into the topic of blogging and what it’s all about. The story usually goes through a mini backlog of history surrounding the term, what blogging is and at the end of the article, there is usually a list of suggestions on how to get started with the most popular suggestion being WordPress.com. Using WordPress.com is a great way to introduce yourself to blogging but if you decide that you want to turn blogging into a full time job or just want more control over your work, you’ll need to move.

Thankfully, the move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org (WordPress.org being the self hosted version of WordPress) is painless thanks in large part to a great export tool.

Tools ImportTo start things off, login to your WordPress.com account and browse to your administration panel. From the menu on the left, click on TOOLS – EXPORT. At this point, you have the option to confine the export to a particular author or all authors. Using the export tool will compile your posts, pages, comments, custom fields, categories, and tags. This information is placed into a WXR file or, WordPress eXtended RSS file. Essentially, this file is just a normal XML RSS based file with a couple of custom fields added to it which makes it specific to WordPress. Once you’re finished, click on the Download Export File button and save it to your desktop.

Once you have that file on your desktop, you can breath a little easier considering your half way through the content migration process.

The second part of this guide refers to an installation of WordPress 2.7. Login to your self installed WordPress administration panel and from the menu on the left click on TOOLS – IMPORT. From the list of blogging systems click on WordPress. Next, click on the Browse button and locate the XML file you downloaded earlier. This will upload the XML file into your WordPress installation and will unpack all of the data the file contains. There is one caveat though regarding this entire technique.

Importing WordPressMost webhosts for whatever reason still have their PHP.ini configured in such a way where end users can only upload files with a maximum file size of 2MB or smaller. Although it takes quite a bit of content in an WXR file to go over 2MB, 2MB is not a lot of head room. If you find yourself in the position where your WXR file is larger than the maximum file size, I highly suggest submitting a trouble ticket to your webhost and asking them to increase the limit. If they choose not to, then ask them if they can import the file for you. If that doesn’t work, you can pull a trick from your sleeve by uploading a custom php.ini file to your webhosting accounts root folder. This is what my host did for me and afterwards, I took a look at the php.ini file and noticed it had this line in it:

; Maximum allowed size for uploaded files.
upload_max_filesize = 7M

Apparently, the php.ini file overwrote the settings on the original file and I was able to bump my limit up to 7 Megabytes. This trick is not guaranteed to work. As a last ditch effort, you can also try adding these lines to your .htaccess file. Just replace the pound sign with a number that is above the size of your WXR file.

#set max upload file size
php_value upload_max_filesize #M

#set max post size
php_value post_max_size #M

Once the WXR file is unpacked on your self installed version of WordPress, you’re ready to walk through the gates of freedom without skipping a beat!

P.S. This strategy also works for those wanting to go from WordPress.org to WordPress.com.