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Tips for Doing the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Challenge

A Guest Post by Elle from Couple Money.

I’ve been blogging for a couple years now and I’ve enjoyed it tremendously. Couple Money is not my first blog, but it is the first one I created with a specific goal in mind. I wanted to share how we’re building our net income while creating a mobile income from our passions and create a community of like minded couples.

My other sites started off as personal blogs and haphazardly morphed as I gained readers. Without a particular goal or process, the blogs’ growth tapered off. I wanted to change this with Couple Money and I knew I needed to get it done sooner rather than later.

I’ve been a reader of Problogger and after reading the 31 Day Challenge that Darren presented, I knew this is something I need to improve my site. I completed my Challenge last weekend and I wanted to share some tips I’ve done to maximize the Challenge for my blog.

Promoting Your Blog Post Effectively

One of the first tasks in the challenge is promoting a blog post. I’ve been guilty of promoting my blog posts to the annoyance of other readers and bloggers when I first started a couple of years ago. I had thought the best way was to keep posting updates on new posts. I learned the hard way that method does not work. When I receive constant direct messages on Twitter to promote posts, I feel less inclined to help, even if they’re good posts.

I was happy to see what I could do to promote my posts without seeming spammy. I tend to promote my posts through Twitter and I mixed them up with posts from other bloggers that I’ve found very informative. Since I work during the day, I try to batch my tweets as I review sites in the evening. While that’s great for me and my schedule, it wasn’t too effective.

I found that releasing them around the same time does no one any good. Not too many people clicked to read my posts or other people’s posts because they felt overwhelmed. I decided to make it a win-win situation. I now use Su.pr to schedule my tweets and spread out some community promotion through out the work day.

The Seesmic app is my buddy on my phone to keep in touch. I check replies and messages on my Samsung Moment during breaks and lunch during the day to communicate with my network. I also try and take the time to thank everyone who retweeted my posts. I think that appreciation and gratitude goes a long way with effective promotion.

Interlinking Old Posts Quickly and Easily

Writing posts that can grab readers’ attention is great, but it’s only part of getting a community started. I realized I needed to get my visitors to dig deep and become readers. The best way to help them is presenting them relevant links within the posts they’re interested in enough to read. In addition to helping readers, including relevant links can improve your site’s SEO strategy.

Darren suggests making interlinking a routine part if your blogging activities. To maximize my relevant links and minimize my time doing it, I use CrossLinker and Insight. These two plugins have helped me to quickly create links to my pillar posts and my best content. Crosslinker allows me to focus readers to my pillar posts and choose which keywords to link to it with. Insight is very helpful as I’m writing my post, as I can search for my posts and other blogs for helpful and resourceful links.

I’ve noticed that completing this task has improved my incoming search traffic for certain keywords. I’m starting to get on the first page of results for my relatively young blog. As I continue making interlinking to older posts a habit, I’m hoping to get even more improvement.

Find Some Blog Buddies to Turbo Charge Each Other

If you want to build a community, you have to be a part of one. Day 15′s task was to find a partner to help encourage each other to improve. I checked out some tips on finding blogging buddies and decided to join a small band of bloggers with the Yakezie Challenge. It’s the perfect combination of camaraderie and friendly competition that I needed. As a reader of Financial Samurai, I noticed his challenge to other bloggers to improve their sites by using Alexa as a gauge.

I compare it to someone who’s looking to get in shape by joining a neighbourhood sports team. You’re working hard to improve your game, but the teamwork makes it seem more like fun instead of just fitness.

So if you’re looking at finding a blogging buddy, my suggestion is to look around your niche and find some bloggers who are hungry and have a specific goal you share. Being a part of your niche’s forums is definitely important, but having a competition really focuses you on getting your work done.

Breathe Life Into an Old Post

As I noticed more search traffic for my blog (loving the results of this challenge!), I saw the need to follow Day 21′s task advice on going back and improving my old blog posts. My problem was that I didn’t have a large block of time to research what I needed to do to make it more resourceful and while still keeping up with current posts.

I decided to beef up posts based on my first time reader review (Day 17) and from analytic tools: Google Analytics and WebMaster Tools. My goal was to make sure older posts were providing information that my readers were looking for. I checked several statistics to see what I needed to focus my attention on:

  • Popular Posts: Since time was limited I focused on posts that were already getting some attention and just needed a bit more to help them stand out.
  • Search Terms Used: I wanted to see how readers were finding these posts and if there were any specific questions they were asking. I can either adjust a post with an answer to that question or write a new posts and link to my older posts.
  • Heat Map: On my homepage, I include links to some of my older posts. I look and see which ones are popular and try and figure out why.

I recommend doing this on a monthly basis with your older posts and just focus on what your readers want to read more of. After all, if you’re looking to build a community, it can’t always be about you. Looking at older posts can be a bit easier to see objectively and you can address your readers’ needs more effectively.

What’s The Plan Now?

I have to admit I was really sad to see the challenge over. It was really easy to follow along a daily blogging schedule and having a specific goal to achieve. Having a framework to write and work from helped me to be more productive.

I decided I’m going to use the 31 Day Challenge as my guide for the rest of the year. Instead of going through the guide in the traditional 31 days, I’m going to focus each week on one of the daily tasks. I’ve seen how the guide has improved the quality of my content and the community so I want to really dig deep and focus on all the activities I can do with each task.

How about you? How have you maximized the 31 days to Build a Better Blog Challenge with your site?

Elle has been blogging over at Couple Money on how she and her family handles their finances. To follow Elle you can chat with her on twitter (@Elle_CM) or subscribe to her blog.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Great information, especially the part about working on old posts. I never even considered that.
    thanks

  2. Jarrod says:

    This is a great post! I especially found the Twitter promotional idea helpful. I’ve installed a plugin on my blog that automatically updates my Twitter whenever I post a new blog or update a post.

    I have my Facebook setup to allow my Twitter updates to post over to Facebook. :) so when I post a new post both my Twitter and Facebook are update without me even having to go over.

    This doesn’t stop me from promoting it further this is just one of the tools that should help.

    Keep up the great work,
    Jarrod

  3. Dave Beck says:

    Great Post Elle, I have been learning how to start a blog and use it to make money online. I am glad that I came across your blog to help me out.

    Thank You,
    Dave Beck

    http://www.MaverickMoneyMakersGenie.com

  4. Benleem says:

    I say there is no better way to make it online and create something grand than the challenge. I take the call and accept it. I will one day report of my massive success.

  5. Jonas Nadeau says:

    I know your secret too! I look at commenting in this way – since I’m relatively new to blogging, I always thought from the beginning that it was a two-way medium, where someone is starting a conversation that invites interaction, so I picked up the habit right away. In contrast, I’d think if some folks never commented when they first ventured into the blogosphere, it would be more difficult to jump in down the road (i.e. not a habit). Nevertheless, I agree with you on your last statement

  6. Sammy says:

    Fine tuning and promoting older post (especially the popular ones) is a great tip that I tend to forget. Thanks for the reminder!

  7. Elle, I was already a fan, but really appreciate your tips on the 31 DBBB. I bought it longer ago than I want to admit and haven’t done much yet. I was intimidated by the amount of work involved while trying to juggle a full-time job, family, church and home.

    I feel better knowing that working it at your own pace is fine; just keep working it!

    P.S. Thanks for retweeting posts; it’s really appreciated.

  8. The automation of tasks makes things so much easier for you to make free time in your day, more time to spend writing content and connecting with your readers. I wish I had the knowledge of this from day one but have only had it up and running for about a month.

  9. Bill Bennett says:

    Great ideas but both CrossLinker and Insight appear to be orphaned plug-ins.

    Are there viable alternatives?

  10. Nahyan says:

    Thanks for the post, I gotta get myself going with the 31Day Challenge too

  11. Elle,
    I’m really new to blogging and had never heard of the 31 Days Challenge. Mrs. Accountability recommended it to me and I found myself here – It sounds like something that would really help me engage my readers and make my blog better. It seems to have worked wonders for you, you’re burning up the charts!! Congrats!

  12. Clara says:

    There is a better plugin called wiki links, which will automatically create links out of words or phrases which match post titles or tags. Clicking the links will bring you either to the post or a tag archive page. Its a little less micromanagement than specifically crosslinking everything.

  13. Elle says:

    I’m glad you guys have some great information. I haven’t had problems with CrossLinker, but I love that you have several alternatives too. My advice is find what works best for you and your site.

  14. Alton Heally says:

    Geez, everytime I see blogs this good I just want mine to be there already! :) Great work.

  15. Hi guys,

    Elle following the 31 day challenge to build a better blog seems to be working for you and I think you should stick to it so that you can stay on track.

    Kind regards,

    Sam
    X

  16. Rahul malik says:

    Thanks alot for such a wonderful post. i would also like to implement the same ideas to my blog in order to achieve greater success.. Keeping my fingers crossed.

  17. This is nice energizing post, Elle. You provided some practical tips and useful tools like insight and crosslinker. what I would like to know is when you started blogging, what was your blog promotion strategy early on? How did you go about building the community and engaging readers?

  18. CoreBloggers says:

    It was really a good read :)

  19. Elle says:

    @Harsh: My blog promotion strategy before the challenge was really guest posts with other bloggers. I was trying to be a part of the personal finance community and I thought that was a good way to start off.

  20. I also have the 31 Days to Build A Better Blog and it is really a big help for me to be guided because sometimes I failed to do blogging things that sometimes end no results because of confusions and always keep starting over.

    I can’t really explain how Darren’s workbook improved blogging experience. Thanks to you Darren.

    I also want to use this workbook as a guide to my upcoming blog.

    Thanks for sharing this inspirational information.

    Sincerely,
    Felix Albutra – Real Blogging Advice dot com