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The First Week of Your Blog: Set Up Key Pages

Update: this post has been updated and compiled with other similar posts into ProBlogger’s Guide to Your First Week of Blogging – a week long guide into getting your blog going on the right foot.

One of the series of posts that we’re building here at ProBlogger is all about what to do in the first week of your new blog. We’re assuming you’ve already got your domain, chosen your blog platform and have installed a template/theme/design – but what comes next?

So far we’ve covered:

Today we’re going to look at some of the key pages on your blog that can be worth setting up.

Why ‘Pages’ are Important

When a new person arrives on your blog there are a variety of types of pages that they may look for that will help them to decide whether they want to remain connected with you (or that will help them to actually make that connection).

Many blogs come with some of these set up by default but you’ll want to personalise these defaults as much as possible and possibly create some new pages of your own. These might include:

  • About Page – setting up an about page is really important – it’s one of those pages that a new reader will head to in order to help them work out what your blog is about, who is behind it and to decide whether they’ll keep reading it. Read more on how to do it at Add an ‘About’ Page to Your Blog and How to Write Your “About Me” Page.
  • Contact Page – some bloggers get a little nervous about being contactable either out of a fear of being overwhelmed by emails or over privacy concerns. While I get this – there are many benefits from being contactable (it opens up opportunities to be contacted by potential partners, advertisers, other bloggers, the press and readers) and there are ways of safeguarding your privacy. If you use WordPress there are numerous contact page plugins that will help you to set up a page that will safeguard your privacy.
  • Subscribe Page – most blog templates have subscription buttons and links built in by default – however not all of your readers will be familiar with what they mean or how to use them. While most of us as bloggers understand what that orange RSS symbol means – many will not. Over at my Digital Photography site where I have readers of all levels of tech savyness I have a subscription page which outlines the different subscription options that we offer. This page is visited a lot and converts very very well both with RSS and Email Subscription methods (note: later in this series we’re going to explore the idea of ‘subscription options’ to help you think through how to let readers connect with your blog).
  • Other Pages – there are a variety of other types of key pages that you might want to consider setting up, depending upon the goals of your site. These might include a ‘Advertise with Us‘ page, ‘Press‘ page, ‘Disclaimer‘ page, ‘FAQ‘ page, ‘Resources‘ page (if you’re selling something for example), a ‘Privacy Policy’ page, ‘Testimonial‘ page (if you have some good ones from previous customers), a 404 page, a ‘Resources’ page, an Archives page etc. Not all of these would be relevant for new blogs but for more information on these and others – I’ve previously outlined 20 types of pages that bloggers should consider.

What pages have you got set up on your blog?

Position Links to Your Pages Appropriately

Once you’ve set up the pages that are important for your blog it is also important to think carefully about where you’ll link to these pages on your blog. Having the pages is one thing but you’ll also want to think about how you’ll be driving traffic to them.

This will depend upon your blog’s design but as with anything – make sure that the pages that are most important to you (for example an ‘About Page’ or a ‘Contact Page’ might be included in this category) ‘are linked to prominently on your blog. This might mean setting up a navigation area across the top of your blog or having one at the top of your sidebar.

Other less important pages might be linked to from your About Page or even in your footer (in this case I’d be putting things like disclaimer pages).

How to Blog: How to Choose a Blog Niche [6 Tips]

Earlier in the week we looked at the importance of ‘niches’ when it comes to building profitable blogs. Today I want to extend the topic and gives the process that I tend to use when working out if I want to start a new blog in a particular niche. I hope you find it helpful.

Many factors will come into play when it comes to choosing a niche to blog about – but the following are those that I tend to pay most attention to:

1. Your Interest in the Topic

I started out blogging on topics that interested me – but as I began to see the potential to make money from my blogs began to experiment with topics that I had less interest in but which I thought would be profitable.

What I discovered in creating these blogs that had potential for profit, yet which I had little interest in, was that I couldn’t really sustain them. I had little to say on the topics and when I did write something I suspect that those who read my content could tell that it was a topic that I was not passionate about. As a result the traffic did not come, I did not become known for the topic, nobody linked up and the blogs were far from profitable.

On the flipside of this – the blogs that I did have an interest in and a passion for have flourished. My interest in the topic is not the only factor that made them successful but I suspect it is a fairly important one that underlies much of the success and profit that I’ve had.

One question to ask yourself in choosing a niche is ‘What are YOU about?’ Choosing a topic that reflects you means you’ll be in a position to be able to find enough to write about and you’ll write it in a way that engages with the topic and your readers.

2. The Popularity of the Topic

You can have all the interest in the world around a topic but if nobody else shares your interest you’re going to be fighting an uphill battle to build a blog that gets much traffic.

This doesn’t mean you need to choose the most popular topics going around – in fact they may not be a wise choice due to the competition also targeting those niches – however you will want to choose a niche that has some level of demand for content.

There are many ways to do research on this whether topics are popular – here are three that I use:

  1. Google Trends – do some searches on Google trends for keywords around your niches (and compare them) and you’ll see whether the topic you’ve chosen has been growing or shrinking and how it compares to other topics.
  2. Market Samurai – I’ve written about the potential of Market Samurai (affiliate link but it gives you a free trial)tool for optimising posts on your blog for SEO – but it is also a useful research tool in looking at the popularity of topics – particularly the module that allows you to assess how many searches are being done on different tools in Google.
  3. Your Local News Stand – perhaps one of the simplest ways to look for popular topics is to head to a local news stand and look at what publications are being sold there. Not only look at the topics of magazines – but check out what is being written about as hot topics IN the magazines and you might find an emerging sub-niche to focus upon.

Ultimately you’re looking for topics that people are interested in, passionate about, want to learn more on and/or that people want to talk about and interact in a community around. There is an unlimited number of topics and ways to tap into them. Watch TV, talk to your friends, head to a local library, read a newspaper – see what people are into and you could just identify a topic worth exploring.

3. Competition

One of the factors that I see some bloggers failing to acknowledge in the choosing of a niche is how much competition (and how strong the competition is) in their potential niche.

The danger in choosing some popular niches is that you might be competing against some very powerful sites in those niches. While this isn’t always going to be a factor to stop you exploring a niche it should definitely be considered and it can perhaps help you to shape your niche to be something that will give you a competitive advantage.

There are a variety of ways of assessing the strength of competition in niches.

One of the simplest is to simply do some searches on Google to look at how many sites exist for keywords on your topic. This won’t give you an indication of the power of the competition – but it will give you some indication on the ‘size’ of competition and it will identify some sites that you will want to be monitoring.

Market Samurai (mentioned above) is one tool that can take your analysis a little deeper. As highlighted in my recent optimising posts on your blog for SEO post it has a module that will not only show you how many competing sites there are but also how strong they are (around a number of factors). It’ll also identify what type of level you’ll need to get to in order to compete with them.

As you begin to assess your potential competition in a niche don’t be completely put off by niches with lots of strong competition. Instead as you analyse what other sites are doing look for opportunities in two areas:

  • ways to differentiate yourself – as you look at other sites look for gaps in the topic that they’re not covering or things that perhaps you could do that might differentiate yourself. Perhaps there is a sub-niche that everyone is ignoring, perhaps they all ‘look’ the same, perhaps they all approach the topic in the same sort of ‘voice/style’. These things could be things to explore in offering an alternative to the established sites.
  • ways to interact and leverage the competition – as you look at other sites look for places that you might be able to connect with, contribute to and leverage in the building of your own site. Perhaps the competition has the ability to submit guest posts or articles or perhaps they have a forum area for interaction. Find ways to be a genuine contributor to your competition and you might find ways to help build your own site indirectly.

4. Is the Topic Sustainable?

Another factor that I see some bloggers neglecting in the choosing of a niche is consideration of whether the topic is one that they’re able to sustain.

This partly relates to the interest and passion that the blogger has for the topic – but it also relates to the topic itself and whether it is dynamic enough to have content written about it on a regular basis.

  • Will it be possible to keep new content flowing on this topic?
  • If the blog will be a ‘news’ blog – is there enough news or developments happening on this topic to keep reporting on it?
  • If the blog will be a ‘how to’ type blog – Is the topic deep enough to be able to come up with enough tutorials or tips?

A number simple exercises to help assess the sustainability of a blog (depending upon the type of blog you’ll be developing):

  • Brainstorm topics – set aside 10 minutes to brainstorm topics for blog posts. Do you run out of ideas or are they flowing easily? This will give you an indication on how many posts you’ll be able to write.
  • List ‘problems/needs’ of readers – if your blog will be a ‘how to’ type blog list off problems or needs that your potential readers might have that you could tackle.
  • Google News – if your blog will be a ‘news’ type blog – check out Google News for your keywords and see how often news is breaking on the topic. Is there lots of news or is this a topic that only has occasional news breaking?
  • List Products – if your blog will be a ‘product’ related blog – do some research into how many products there are in that category and how often new products are released.

Got the picture? Really it is about doing a little analysis of the topic to see if there is enough in it to keep producing new frequent and regular content. If there’s not enough – perhaps consider either another topic or a different format for your site (blogs tend to do best when they’re updated but you could create a more static site).

5. Is the Niche Profitable?

This won’t appeal to everyone as not all people want to monetize their blog but if it’s a goal to make money from your blog then you’ll want to assess the potential for profit before you start.

There are a few ways to get indications on whether a niche will be profitable – including:

  • Google Ads – do a simple search on Google.com for your topic/keywords. Look at what ads Google is serving for those keywords over on the right side (or above the search results). Doing some analysis of these ads can be useful on a few fronts. For starters they’ll show you if any advertisers are actively targeting those keywords. This is handy to know if you’re planning on running AdSense on your blog. It will also be handy to check out who is advertising as they could be potential direct sponsors of your site. The other useful thing to note is whether any of the ads are for products that have affiliate opportunities as they could be products you could promote as an affiliate.
  • AdWords Analysis – another related way to check on the value of a niche is to do some analysis of how much people are willing to pay as advertisers in the Google AdWords program. Just knowing there are advertisers is a healthy sign but they could all be just paying a cent or two to have their ads appear. Using the AdWords Keyword tool will give you a bit more of an indication of what people are paying to rank highest for their ads.
  • Affiliate Products – speaking of affiliate products – do a little hunting around to see if you can find any products online that have affiliate promotions that you might be able to promote. Sometimes this is as simple as Googling ‘keyword affiliate product’ but other times you’ll want to check out affiliate networks like Commission Junction or PepperJam (aff) to see if they have any relevant products listed for your niche.
  • Brainstorm Potential Products of Your Own – what could YOU sell directly to readers? As you’re pondering a niche it could be well worth while keeping in the back of your mind potential products that you might be able to develop to sell from your blog. These might include information products (e-books, training etc), membership areas (where people pay a monthly fee for extra teaching, community etc), personal services (coaching, speaking etc), a physical product relevant to your niche – or something else. More and more bloggers are turning to developing their own products as ways to monetize their blogs so keep this option in your mind from the beginning.
  • What are others in the niche monetizing with? – one of the quickest ways to work out whether there is potential to monetize a niche is to check out what other sites are doing to make money on that topic. Check out the biggest sites first and look at whether they run advertising (and what sort), whether they’re promoting affiliate promotions, what kinds of products/services of their own they sell etc. You might find that you come up with a quick list of things to start monetizing your own site with very quickly by doing this.
  • Market Samurai – I know that Iv’e mentioned Market Samurai already in this series but it’s a tool that also has a monetization module that allows you to look at the profitability of a niche. In fact there are a couple of tools within the Market Samurai system that are worth using when assessing the profitability of a niche. One is in the ‘keyword research’ module which gives you options to look at three factors including the Adwords value of the work, the SEO value and some assessment of whether people are searching with the intent of ‘buying’ or just surfing for ‘information on the keyword. The other module allows you to search for affiliate promotions relevant to your keywords (very handy).

6. What Else Do You Bring to the topic that You Can Leverage?

Previously when I’ve covered the topic of how to choose a blog niche I’ve stopped after exploring some of the above points. However there are almost always a number of other factors that individuals bring to certain topics that can make those niches more sensible choices.

I guess ultimately it comes down to looking at what you have at your fingertips that you will be able to leverage to help you get your blog up and running and working really well.

There are many factors that might come into play including:

  • Expertise/Experience – you might be someone with years of experience in the industry which would give you a real head start in the creation of content and also building authority and profile in the niche.
  • Contacts/Network – perhaps you already have some good contacts with other bloggers and web site owners in the niche that you’ll be able to leverage to help you promote your blog.
  • Established Sites on Related Topics – maybe you already have another blog, newsletter list, website, forum or site on a related topic that you could use to help you launch your new blog.
  • Repurpose-able Content – some people already have a lot of content written for other purposes that they can use as the basis for their new blog (for example I met one person recently who had been training in an area and who had already created hundreds of documents for offline use that could easily be used on a blog).

This list could quite easily go on and on. Essentially you need to do a bit of a SWOT analysis of the topic and see what strengths and opportunities that you uniquely have that will help you to get a leg up into this topic.

Sleep On It

My last advice on choosing a niche for your blog is to take your time and don’t act too hastily. While you don’t want the process to drag out too long – I look back on the 30 or so blogs that I’ve started over the years and wish I’d taken a little more time going through this process. I went through a phase where I impulsively started a series of blogs that I quickly knew were not right for me – if I’d only given the ideas a little time to breath I might have discovered before I started that perhaps there were better ways to use my time going forward.

So take your time – share what you come up with with a trusted friend or two – do a little research into the topic and then, when you’re ready and are in a good position to make a decision – ACT!

Also keep in mind that you might need to go through this process with a number of topics before you find one that fits for you. You’re unlikely to find a topic that fits all of the above criteria perfectly – but hopefully something will stand out to you a little to help you make an informed decision.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What other factors would you say come into play when choosing a niche?
  2. If you already have a blog – what were the most important factors for you in choosing that niche?

Let’s Meet at SXSWi!

SXSWi.pngAs this post goes live I’ll be in the process of arriving at SXSW Interactive in Austin Texas.

I was fortunate enough to at SXSWi two years back and it was one of the best conference experiences that I’ve had – so I’ve made it a priority this year to return.

My schedule is pretty open. The main thing that I’ll be doing is a book reading this Friday night. I’ll be talking about some of what Chris and I have included in the 2nd edition of the ProBlogger book (due out next month).

The book reading is on at 5pm, Friday 12 March on the Day Stage. I hope you’ll come!

For those of you involved in the Third Tribe there is a drinks/meetup the next evening (on Saturday 13th from about 5.30pm) at a bar called ‘Lovejoys’ at 604 Neches Street (2 blocks north of the convention center).

Note: I originally thought that my reading was on Saturday and we’d do one after the other…. but I messed up the time so the book reading is Friday and the Drinks/Meetup is Saturday. Sorry for the messing around 3rd Tribers.

Other than that I’ve got a pretty open few days and am looking forward to checking out a few panels and keynotes and doing as much networking as possible. If you’re at SXSWi I’d love to meet you – feel free to come up and say hi any time!

Blog Security: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Scares Me Into Taking It Seriously.

guest post by Kelly Diels

warning: there are lessons and even actionable advice in here, but it is buried inside a story. I write stories because I love you and don’t want to bore you and because if you laugh then chances are that you’ll remember the educational bit, too. There’s actual research that this works – it is not just because I am in love with bloviation but hey, tomato tahmahto.

I have big love for tech. You could not pry my dishwasher out of my house without bloodshed and death, most likely yours. And the internet? Don’t even get me started. I want to french-kiss the web. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s my job or at least my blog’s mission statement.

Still, I’m more of install (or pay someone to install) and hope-it-works kind of gal. I want the fuss without the muss.

And I have this theory about tech: some key pieces of hardware and software make a huge difference and everything after that amounts to tweaks and hacks. But the good tech, like a great love, (initially) inspires awe, affection, and respect and make your life much better on a daily basis. You think: how did I ever live without you, front-loading washer? We wasted so much time.

And then, after the infatuation fades, you get on with your happily functioning and newly-enhanced life and start taking your love, machines, shockingly-white-whites and programs for granted.

I like it like that. I like low-maintenance relationships (don’t tell anyone) and I LOVE that electricity just works and I don’t have to think about it. I like finding the right things, that work, and let them do that in the background. Nearly invisible function is hawt.

WordPress is one of those key pieces of tech that made a big difference in my life. It is like a long distance lover. I don’t quite understand it and I should probably spend more time with it but damn I like it a lot. It does me right, mostly virtually.

Actually, let’s be honest: I LOVE WORDPRESS. My blog is my boyfriend. I adore it. I spend all my time with it. Because of all the fabulous people who love me up in the comments, my blog sates my unabashed lust for attention – which, in turn, has started saving me from terrible IRL relationship decisions.

(WordPress is saving the world from needy girlfriends. Someone call the Nobel Peace Prize Committee.)

So the thought of someone getting their sweaty, malicious hands on my boyfriend blog and doing dirty things to it makes me nauseous.

It happened to a friend of mine, Kelly Livesay. One of her blogs was hacked and posts and theme modifications deleted.  It happened to journalist Helen Mosher. If you Google her name, the first search result is now “Cheap Viagra Online”. This is not – perhaps obviously – what she intended for her blog. It happened to Robert Scoble, who lost two months of blog posts and gained a very serious sense of personal violation.

And that sense of violation is exactly the prompt for this post: the movie The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo completely FREAKED ME OUT (capitalization absolutely appropriate and required).

Do you know The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo? It is the first of a trilogy of books by Swedish author Stieg Larsson who completed this epic series and then promptly dropped dead. It is a gripping book and it almost killed me, too. I read it in five hours.

And then I got my hot little hands on the movie. Lisbeth, the main character and dragon-wearer, is one tough chick. You don’t want to mess with her. She’ll hack you.

Because that’s what she does. Lisbeth is a freakishly talented hacker. She works as an investigator and conducts her investigations from the convenience of her laptop. She gets into your computer and reads your naughty e-mails, your work memos, your sexts, your bank statements, your browsing history, and then uses that information as she sees fit, for her clients, or herself.

And if you’re on her side – I mean, who doesn’t want her to catch the lady-killing villain? (the villain) – then you’re with her, all the way, as she uses her scary powers for good.

So: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Wrenching read, haunting movie. Great entertainment, especially if you’re looking for a new reason to become deeply paranoid about all the ways people can screw with you online.

Robert Scoble’s not kidding when he says that he feels his virtual house was burgled. Thanks to this paranoid movie, I now feel his paranoia pain and I’m deeply worried about my boyfriend blog.

Still, I don’t  understand the point of hacking blogs, so I asked my friend Dave Doolin (Website In A Weekend), who knows Serious Stuff about WordPress, code, programming and How Things Work.

Kelly Diels: What’s the point of hacking a blog? Why would someone want to break into a blog and make it say BUY VIAGRA! instead of just building a sex blog to sell Viagra?

Dave Doolin: Honestly, I’m not really sure, but I’ll hazard a guess: it’s cheaper to spray spam by the trillions than it is to create your own site and work at building traffic. It costs next to nothing to hire people to send a e-mails, so even a really tiny conversion rate generates profit.

Kelly Diels: So how do we keep hackers out of our blogs? On your site, you recommend that bloggers change “Admin” to something specific and then delete the Admin user, so I did that, and Amanda Farough told me to make a unwieldy, ridiculous password that is actually a sentence with random capitalization and characters.

Dave Doolin: Yeah, those two things are a good start. You do want a long, complicated password. The other thing that everyone should do is read the WordPress Development Blog and Other WordPress News. They’re both in your dashboard, and they’ll keep you up to date on the latest hacks and security threats.

(I studiously ignore those two boxes in my WordPress dashboard but now, as of right this minute, I’m going to pay attention.)

And, now that I’m paying attention, I checked in once again with Amanda Farough, who is my designer/developer/chief-cupcake-sharer/coder-extraordinaire. She takes care of my site, because, as I mentioned, I like my tech to work but I’m not really inclined to make it work myself.

Kelly Diels: So, Amanda, what are we doing to keep my site secure? And by “we”, I mean you. What advice do you have for bloggers to keep their blogs on the unhacked side?

Amanda: Here’s my security short list:

  1. Change your .htcaccess to protect your database name and password by adding the following line of code: <FilesMatch ^wp-config.php$>deny from all</FilesMatch>. In the event of someone hacking your blog, they won’t be able to determine where your tables are, protecting you from losing everything.
  2. WP-DB-Backup is your new best friend. Get it emailed to you once a week or, if you’re really paranoid, once a day (note: Dave Doolin said we should do it once a day and I heart paranoia. That’s totally where I’m living right now. Thanks, Dragon Tattoo conspiracy). Don’t trust your server or your email server. Save copies of the database to your local drive as soon as you get the email. That way, you’ve got two copies: one on your email server and the other on your local drive.
  3. Update WordPress every single time you’re prompted to. These releases are the blogger’s equivalent to driver updates: they fix holes in security, functionality, and usability. If you’re running 2.8 when we’re on 2.9.2, then run that update. You’ll be glad you did.

And that – according to my friends in the know, because trust me, I didn’t know – is the short story of how to keep your blog safe and out of the sweaty, dragon-tattooed hands of malicious hackers itching to delete your hot copy and sell us sex aids in your name.

WordPress Security Summary:

  • Get rid of your Admin user account
  • have a long, complicated password
  • keep up to date on WordPress tips and news by reading WordPress
    Development Blog and Other WordPress News
  • BACK IT UP, baby
  • Protect your database name and password
  • UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE

__________________________

Join the Dragon Tattoo Blog HUNT - an internet wide scavenger hunt tied to the feature film launch of bestselling book The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Win great prizes free movie tickets, books, movie soundtrack, posters and more. To join the contest, start at the beginning of the HUNT by visiting www.dragontattoofilm.com/contest for full details and the first clue. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is in theaters near you starting March 19th.

THE NEXT CLUE:

This site explores everything Apple, but don’t tell Steve Jobs because this weblog is officially unofficial.

Kelly Diels writes for ProBlogger every week. She’s also a wildly hireable freelance writer and the creator of Cleavage, a blog about three things we all want more of: sex, money and meaning.

How to Blog: Choose a Niche for Your Blog [Why Niches are Important]

While I get many questions from bloggers asking for advice on ‘how to blog‘ perhaps one of the biggest questions a new blogger needs to ask themselves before they move on to the HOW to blog question is ‘WHAT will I blog about?’

There is no real right or wrong answer to this question as blogs come in all shapes and sizes and focus upon all manner of topics. However thinking through the question before you start a blog will help you make some of the other decisions that you’ll want to make later on in this guide (for example the domain name and the name of your blog will probably come out of this decision).

Reasons to Focus Upon a Niche with Your Blog

Choosing a niche to blog about is important for a number of reasons. These include:

1. Niche Blogs Appeal to Readers

My first blog was a personal blog with no real niche focus. It did start with a main focus upon Spirituality, but over time began to cover a large range of topics including blogging, photography, culture, politics, personal stuff that I was doing etc. The more topics I covered the less I appealed to everyone.

Sure a certain group of people were interested in Spirituality and Blogging, but less of them were into photography, even less also liked my stuff about Australian Pop Culture….. each topic narrowed the chances of me writing something that would appeal to all of my readers. I started to get complaints from them – ‘stop writing about XXXX’.

When I began to break topics out onto their own blogs my audience responded well – those who were into photography gathered around that topic, those that were into blogging gathered on that blog.

In the end this is about relevance – people seem to be drawn to niche focused blogs because they know that they’ll see content on them that focuses upon the things they are specifically interested in.

2. Niche Blogs Monetize Better

I tried to make money from my personal blog for a while but found the going really tough. At the time I mainly tried to make money from advertising and found that sponsors were simply not interested in promoting their product (which had a specific focus) to an audience who were there to read about a whole range of things.

What camera manufacturer wants to promote their latest camera on a blog about photography that also touches on spirituality, politics and what movie I saw on the weekend?

Niche blogs also tend to work better with contextual ad networks like AdSense. AdSense is getting better are providing ads that related strongly to what is on a specific page of content but I have seen instances where blogs covering lots of different topics attract ads that don’t always relate to content on a particular page.

The other thing about AdSense is that it is a system that gives advertisers the ability to target specific sites. These types of targeted campaigns can be quite profitable but they are less likely to happen if a blog covers a large range of topics, many of which don’t relate to that advertiser.

When I went niche I found monetizing with advertising a lot easier. In fact monetizing with a variety of methods seems to be easier on niche blogs. Affiliate promotions and selling your own products work better because your audience is there to get information on certain topics – so when you promote products on those topics…. they’re much more likely to buy.

3. Niche Blogs Do Better in Search Engines

It is possible to rank well for all kinds of topics on a generic/multi topic blog. It’s possible – but I find it is easier when you have a blog with a focus upon a niche topic. If your whole site is about the one topic Google treats it as more of an authority on that topic the more content you add, the more you interlink the posts, the more other sites in your niche link to it etc.

There are certainly exceptions (mega sites like Wikipedia are obvious ones) but unless you have the pulling power of a massive site like that a niche focused site could be the way to go.

4. Niche Blogs Build Credibility and Profile

One of the consequences of moving to more of a niche focus with my blogging was that I noticed I was starting to become known for that topic.

The first time this happened was after I started my first photography blog and 2 months later had a phone call from a city-wide newspaper asking for a quote on a photography related story. This had not happened to me before as a result of my personal/multi topic blog but having a site purely focused upon a single topic gave a perception that that topic was ‘my thing’.

For me having niche focuses has helped me to become known on different topics – which has led to all kinds of opportunities in those niches – including writing books, speaking opportunities around the world, main stream media appearances and all manner of partnership opportunities with wonderful people in my industries.

Not everyone wants to build their profile and become known in an industry – but if that’s part of your goal then a niche blog on those topics can be powerful.

Note: Niches Need Not Just be Topic Related

Before I conclude this post on niches I thought it might also be worth noting that a blogs niche need not only ever be focused upon a topic. I explored this more fully in a post titled – Does Your Blog Focus Upon a Niche Topic or a Niche Demographic? As the title of that post suggests – there are some successful blogs around that cover a variety of topics – that appeal to a similar type of person or demographic.

So instead of just writing about video games – a blog might choose to blog about topics that appeal to teenage boys – video games being one of the topics that they might have an interest in.

Worth noting though is that if you do decide to target a niche demographic rather than a niche topic – you could be opening yourself up for a lot of work. Covering a diverse range of topics can certainly work – but to cover them all comprehensively can take a lot of time and energy.

How to Choose a Niche for Your Blog

Now that we’ve looked at some of the reasons WHY a niche can be a powerful thing to think about before you start looking at HOW to blog – later this week I’m going to continue this post with a followup post exploring a number of factors that those looking to start a blog might consider when choosing a niche.

Update: here’s that post – How to Blog: How to Choose a Blog Niche

Feeling “Blogged Out?” [10 Pro Bloggers Share Their Advice on What to Do]

A Guest post by Heather Allard from The Mogul Mom.

If you’re a regular ProBlogger reader, you know that Darren dishes up heaps of incredible blogging advice 7 days a week, 365 days a year. His archives positively overflow with information on how to build a blog from the ground up, how to engage readers, how to earn a living from your blog, how to search engine optimize your blog, how to market your blog through social media and so much more.

If you’re a beginner blogger, there’s no better place to learn than at ProBlogger.

I know because when I started blogging in 2007, ProBlogger was like a launch pad for me.

I blasted into the blogosphere, writing posts in rapid fire succession as new idea after new idea spilled out of my bloggy brain faster than I could jot them down in trusty notebooks scattered around my house and car.

I churned out short posts, long posts, reviews, interviews, vlogs, linkies and more list posts than you could shake your cursor at. I SEO’d the daylights out of my blog, carved out a nice niche for myself and built up a pretty sweet subscriber base. I came, I blogged, I monetized. Oh yeah.

And then, after 3 solid years of blogging, I suddenly found myself with nothing left to say. No, not just blogger’s block. I’m talking not a damn thing to blog about. Zero, zip, nada. Last stop on the blogosphere for this lady.

350 posts, 1200 subscribers and 2000 comments later, I was officially all blogged out.

So I spent a week curled up in the fetal position deciding whether it’s better to burn out or fade away from the blogosphere, and then it hit me.

Surely I couldn’t be the first – or the only – blogger to feel this way!

So I did what any blogger worth her Alexa rank would do – I decided to BLOG about being all blogged out.

Newly invigorated, I set out in search of other solo bloggers who’d felt this same way to ask them what they did about it.

What I found was 10 top bloggers with very different takes – and advice – on being all blogged out.

Laura Roeder @lkr

Blogging Since:

Well I’ve been creating and sharing content online in various formats since about 1996. But I’ve never really considered myself a “blogger”or had one mega-popular blog. My current blog for my business has been running for about a year and a half.

Have you ever felt all blogged out?

Yes, definitely! I don’t blog that frequently so I usually don’t try to force it. I sometimes only update my blog once a month, it just depends on what I have going on and what I’m inspired to create. 99% of my blog is in video format, it is really difficult for me to write a beginning-middle-end article, it’s just not how my thoughts come I guess. But I could talk forever so video is the perfect format for me!

What did you do about it?

I plan out an editorial calendar at least 6 months in advance. This is the key part – you can’t just plan but you have to force yourself to stick to the weekly topic. I think too many bloggers wake up in the morning and try to think of a great topic that day – planning out a calendar in advance is a great solution. And then you have time to filter your ideas to make sure they’re all good instead of scraping the bottom of the barrel, desperate to come up with ANYTHING to write about!

Chris Guillebeau @chrisguillebeau

Blogging Since:

2008 — although I had been writing in other formats for a couple of years prior.

Have you ever felt all blogged out?

Thankfully — no.

How have you avoided it?

I’ve avoided it by trying to be somewhat intentional about the process.

First, I don’t limit myself in writing about one specific, niche topic. I write about a number of topics (travel, entrepreneurship, motivation) for a number of venues (my own blog, other blogs, a newspaper column, magazines, books, etc.). The variety is very helpful, because even though I’m writing a lot, the deliverables are not always the same.

And second, writing is my job. It’s just what I do. If a plumber gets bored, she still shows up every day and goes to work. Why should it be different for creatives? Steven Pressfield wrote about this in the wonderful little book The War of Art, which I re-read regularly and would recommend to anyone feeling “blogged out.”

Chris Brogan @chrisbrogan

Blogging Since:

I started in 1998 back when it was called journaling. I’ve used several different sites before settling on my own domain, and my blog technologies used to be WYSIWYG website design tools, so those ones are lost to all but the Wayback machine.

Have you ever felt all blogged out?

Never. I have more blog posts than I have time to post them. I write two or three at a time, so that I have a few in my rainy day pile (though at the time of writing this, I ran out, so will have to blog a few things on the next two airplanes). I never feel all blogged out. We have TONS to cover, and lots of ways of looking at things.

How have you avoided it?

Blogging/writing is about practice. The more you do it, the easier it comes. It’s like exercise. You can’t join a gym and bench press 300 pounds the next day. It takes a while to work your muscles up into the shape you need to perform. Same with writing.

I keep my eyes open. I read. I spend lots of time on other people’s blogs. I cultivate relationships, where sometimes the question someone poses makes for a great blog topic. There are tons of ways to find blog topics. One trick to doing something about it is to maintain a list of blog topics to write about for rainy days. I’ve given people over 300 over the last few years.

Danielle LaPorte @daniellelaporte

Blogging Since:

2008

Have you ever felt all blogged out?

No, never, absolutely not, the very thought makes me gasp in horror. For real.

How have you avoided it?

Everything is content. Believing that it’s all around you will help you find it. The conversation that you had with your girlfriend about Haiti, or the absurdity of phone books being delivered, or why your barista gives you the best customer service. Notice what you notice and trust that you can create some value out of it.

Tell a story. My speaking coach, Gail Larsen told me something that changed how I approach both speaking gigs and writing: Creating good content is not about looking for stories that will support your message, it’s about letting the stories find you. The stories that you remember so vividly, that you recall with the most affection or emotional charge – they’re in your psyche for good reason. You’ve held on to them because they resonate with your truth, your message – and that’s where the creative sweet spot is. Find the message in the stories you’re inspired to tell.

Get interviewed. Ask a friend to ask you some questions. Keep it casual or turn on a video camera while you’re at. You will be amazed at how damn profound, informed, and creative you can be when you get to riff to someone who already thinks you’re great.

James Chartrand @MenwithPens

Blogging Since:

I began blogging in early 2007 for my own business blog at Men with Pens, and I also began guest blogging at various other sites around the blogosphere at the same time. This spring, it’ll be three years that I’ve been a full-time blogger.

Have you ever felt all blogged out?

Oh, absolutely. Since my focus has always been on freelance writing, and that’s what I’ve tried to blog about the most, there comes a point where you tell yourself that you’ve said all you could, that you can’t think of anything else to say. That feeling never lasts very long for me – I have a pretty active mind that seizes on new ideas and spins easily – but sure, I think every blogger goes through a period of feeling there’s nothing left to write about.

I feel that many people, when they hit this point, fall back on repeating the same messages or content, only in different words. It’s a way to break through the problem, but I didn’t want to go that route. I feel a sense of obligation not to cheap out just to be able to slap up a post – I worked hard to build my blog up, and it means more to me than that. Blogging is more than just a job you have to do; it’s a commitment you make and uphold.

What did you do about it?

To avoid feeling I was running on empty, I looked instead at the related subjects of freelance writing. I realized there’s a lot more to writing than just writing about writing. There’s the business side, the administration, the customer service, the branding, ways to land new jobs, etc. When I realized that I wasn’t limited to what I could write on and still stay within my specialty, a whole world of possible posts opened up. I revisit that vast pool of potential each time I feel tapped out.

Another trick I use when I’m feeling like I just have nothing to write about anymore is to write – about something else. I put the blogging aside and work on some fiction or creative writing, just for fun. Or, I go out for a day and screw off, and I find that taking myself away from feeling like I have to blog brings me new inspiration. As I enjoy my day, I think about how the experiences I have relate to my subject. How are buying a pair of boots and blogging the same, for example? How is grocery shopping and writing similar? What did I like about that sign, and why did it catch my attention?

Sometimes, to be creative, you have to get away from trying to be creative, and ask questions that you wouldn’t normally think of asking.

For tapped out bloggers, my best advice is to take away the pressure by reminding yourself that this isn’t an obligation. In the bigger scheme of life, missing a week of blog posts while you disconnect or cutting your posting frequency from five days a week to once every two weeks won’t really make much difference. It’ll give you some relief from that ‘have to blog’ feeling, remind you of what’s really important in life and let you take care of yourself first.

Johnny B Truant @JohnnyBTruant

Blogging Since:

I really only started seriously in late 2008, writing my old pure humor blog at theeconomyisnthappening.com. I’d been writing “blog-like” stuff for some time before that on and off, but never actually launched a blog until 08.

Have you ever felt all blogged out?

Oh yes. Around 2001, I used to write a humor newsletter that I’d manually e-mail out to my friends and family. (The salvageable newsletters became the earliest posts in the humor archive on my current site.) Although I haven’t hit a wall since starting blogging in earnest in 2008-9, I hit several with those old pseudo-blog writings.

I started that endeavor with a weekly newsletter, and then slipped into monthly. Several times, I’d re-run old posts because I had nothing to write about, and once I wrote a post about having nothing to write about. The reason that pseudo-blogging ended was because I got tired of feeling like I had nothing to say every week — or at least, nothing to say that was funny.

What did you do about it?

I just quit.

Now, I’m not particularly concerned about running out of material and here’s why: Back in the day, I wrote humor and only humor. If it wasn’t funny, it wasn’t fit to run — with one notable exception just after 9/11/01. So not only was I looking for funny things to happen, but I had to work hard to tell folks about them in funny ways. That’s really, really hard to do — especially ongoing.

My blog now is an unashamed hodge-podge. I’ve deliberately kept my blog from having a niche, a genre, or a focus. It’s just about me, my business, what I’ve learned, what I do, and whether or not wild turkeys have found their way into my barn. Sometimes it’s funny, and sometimes it’s dead serious. All I have to do now is write what’s in my life, my head, and my heart — whatever that may be.

Lastly, I’ve only run two guest posts ever on my blog, but I’ve had other offers and may just start accepting some if I do get bogged down. I’ve seen some of my blogging friends do that if they are running low or if they go on vacation. I haven’t done it yet, but it’s nice to know the option is there.

Sarah Bray @SarahJBray

Blogging Since:

Don’t tell anyone, but I actually started several failed blogs before having even a whiff of success. My first one was in 2004. And no, I’m not giving details (curse you, Google archives!).

Have you ever felt all blogged out?

Heck yeah. Every blogger has those moments. We pressure ourselves to crank out amazing post after amazing post, and then we wonder why the wheels stop turning. For me, it was my subject matter — writing posts about the strategic side of web design for such a wide audience. I’ve got fellow designers who want to know how I do it, entrepreneurs who are completely new to the web (or the social web), entrepreneurs who are definitely NOT new to the web, people who are curious about my adamancy for content-driven websites…it’s just a really broad audience.

More challenges:

  • Writing about technology without inducing cricket chirps or loud snoring
  • Writing about things that anyone can do — not just super-technical people (which requires getting out of my super-technical brain and pretending I’m my computer-challenged mother…an interesting and involved process)
  • Writing about new ideas that are not talked to death all over the internet already
    • All of that has the power to turn me into a headlight-mesmerized deer if I think about it too much.

      What did you do about it?

      I put a lot of pressure on myself to only publish stuff that gives me a blood-rushing-to-the-head feeling. It’s what I do instead of punching all of those people in the face who say that bloggers aren’t “real writers”. Or maybe it’s because I like that writerly high you get when you know that you’ve communicated something really effectively.

      So to answer the question, I stick to a posting schedule that will allow me to do this. During some seasons of the work year, I publish three times a week. In this particular season, I publish once a week. I’m a huge believer in sticking to a posting schedule. It’s like your favorite show being on tv at the same time every week…you feel more committed to it when you can expect it. At the same time, I let myself be comfortable with changing my publishing schedule when that makes sense.

      I wouldn’t recommend doing this if your entire job is to write. But for my situation, giving myself permission to change my posting schedule for a season makes more sense than writing crappy stuff, not writing at all out of sheer overwhelm, or not getting my client-related work done. It takes some of the pressure off during busy times, which somehow brings blog topic epiphanies out of the sky. I don’t know how it happens…magic, maybe.

      Dave Navarro @RockYourDay

      Blogging Since:

      I started the RockYourDay.com blog in 2006, but didn’t really start building it seriously until the beginning of 2008, when I went all guns blazing (thanks to some inspiration from @menwithpens). I started The Launch Coach in early 2009 and hit the ground with a running start on that one, since it was making me money right off the bat, and that’s where I put 95% of my blogging time.

      Have you ever felt all blogged out?

      I feel that way all the time – I think it’s a natural part of a writer’s psychology, when we wonder how we can write something good when it’s already been done. We worry that what we write might not be good enough compared to other people or compared to our own successful posts, and it’s draining.

      What did (do) you do about it?

      The way out of that is to remember you’re in this to help people, not achieve God-like status on a post-by-post basis. What I do to break the funk is look through old comments for where people talk about what they’re struggling with and write about that, imagining I’m writing to that one person. That breaks the all-about-me-drama and gets me back on track. (And if I haven’t had comments lately I go to other blogs and look at their comments).

      Audrey McClelland @AudreyMcClellan

      Blogging Since:

      I started blogging in June 2008.

      Have you ever felt all blogged out?

      Definitely. I started my personal blog in June 2008, after I had my 4th son. After blogging about his birth and then about being the mother of 4 boys – I started to feel VERY “all blogged out” in November of 2008. I wanted to blog about things beyond my personal motherhood story. I think I kind of felt like, “What makes my story different or unique?” I kind of felt like nothing did… my blogs started to get very much of the same feel. So I made a conscious decision to change the direction of my blog in January 2009 because I felt it would infuse me with added energy.

      What did you do about it?

      I came out of it by starting my 365 Days of Fashion Advice for Moms. I loved sharing my experiences as a mom, but I wanted to get away from constantly talking about how difficult mealtime was or how I was so tired from not sleeping throughout the night. I wanted to add my love of fashion to the mix. So I started blogging about fashion advice for moms and I brought my own motherhood experiences to it, as the mother of 4 boys.

      The advice I would give a blogger that is all blogged out is bring another dimension into your blog. I had worked in the fashion industry for 6 years previous in New York City and I had a love and a passion for fashion. I did and still do wake up every single morning excited to blog about it. I just needed to take that step to bring another piece of me onto the table and not be scared to do it. Things changed for me professionally when I did make the change and it was all because I was feeling “blogged out.” I didn’t feel like my writing had a direction in 2008 and I wanted it to. Niching my blog became the best thing I ever did.

      Michael Martine@Remarkablogger

      Blogging Since:

      I had been creating and designing websites since 1994 (pretty much as soon as I got online when the Internet became available to anyone via AOL back in the day). I discovered Blogger in 1999 before Google bought them and have been a blogger ever since (though I switched to WordPress as soon as I discovered it).

      Have you ever felt all blogged out?

      Never! My audience is made of up certain segments who all have specific problems. So between that, the basics, and the new stuff that keeps unfolding, there is no end of topics to blog about.

      How have you avoided it?

      There are several reasons why I’m never blogged out. My readers, clients, and customers are mostly business owners. Different businesses have different challenges when it comes to blog marketing, so by focusing on a specific niche (like, say, real estate agents or freelance web designers) and then addressing a specific problem someone in that niche faces, I simply never run out of topics. I don’t always focus on a specific industry, but I’m guaranteed an infinite number of blog post topics if I do.

      This means my posts tend to be longer than the usual 250 – 500 words of a typical blog post. Because of this, it takes me longer to write a post and so I don’t publish as often as many other bloggers. At the least, I publish twice a week. At most, I may publish up to four times a week. But I never publish every day of the week. This makes it easier to come up with ideas and keeps the quality of the writing higher.

      Here are some tips for coming up with post ideas:

      • Think of a specific type of person in your blog audience and a problem they have, then write a post for that person that addresses the problem.
      • The basics never go out of style. Tackle them in your own way or link to posts which cover the basics.
      • Tell a story from your own life that has a lesson to teach your audience.
      • Compile a list of resources your audience will find valuable.
      • Accept guest posts from others in your niche (sometimes you have to ask for them).
      • You can always interview others in your niche.

      To prevent yourself from getting blogged out in the future, try these tips:

      • Be in constant communication with your audience: ask what keeps them up at night, what their problems are, what information they are hungry for.
      • Think of series of posts you can write. A series guarantees post ideas for many days. Note how successful Darren has been with his “31 days” series. You have to think of these in advance and plan them out.
      • As you surf the web, collect links by topic in Evernote or some other note-taking system. Then, when they become numerous enough, you can publish them in a resources post. These can build up over time, so that very little work is involved in creating them.

      Don’t let ideas get away from you when you do have them. There are many ways to capture ideas.

      So, if you’re feeling all blogged out, you’re in good company. And you’re definitely not at the end of the blogging road.

      Laura, Chris G., Chris B., Danielle, James, Johnny, Sarah, Dave, Audrey and Michael gave awesome ideas about what to do when you’re feeling all blogged out. And, I don’t know about you but my head is swimming with new blog ideas. Now…where’s my notebook?

      Well? What about you? Have you ever felt all blogged out? What did you do about it?

      Heather Allard lives in Rhode Island with her husband, three kids, Hope, Grace & Brendan and one big dog, The Dude. Since 2001, she’s started three businesses and sold one of them for six figures. Now she shows mom entrepreneurs how to build a business between diaper changes and play dates – without breaking the bank, or their spirit. Find her on Twitter as @HeathAll.

What Do You Do With Your Blog to Make it Stand Out from the Crowd?

Last week on Twitter I was asked by @southrngurl6489 the following question:

If you had to pick only one thing that makes a blog stand out from its peers, what would you pick and why?

I thought it’d be a good question to open up to a wider audience as its something I’ve touched on quite a few times over the last year or so and because what makes a blogger distinct is often, by definition, something that can vary from blog to blog.

What are you doing to make your blog stand out from the crowd? What have you seen other blogs do that makes them stand out?

Further Reading: Here’s a post I wrote on the topic earlier in the year – The Power of Uniqueness [19 Starting Points for Being a Unique Blogger]

7 Tips to Keep Your Family On-Board for Your Blogging Journey

A guest post by Dustin Riechmann of Engaged Marriage.

Blogging and FamilyMy life is pretty typical for a 30-year old family man these days. I do my best to maintain a hectic schedule and the demands that come with balancing a wife, kids, a full-time career, a mortgage, church, community service, tee ball practice, my daughter’s tea parties and the occasional beer or round of golf with my buddies.

Oh yeah, and I’m a blogger, too.

Does This Sound Familiar?

You crawl into bed several hours after what would be considered a normal bedtime. Sure, you are short on sleep and you have a big meeting in the morning, but you are feeling pumped about the great post you just knocked out. This could be the pillar content or the guest post for ProBlogger that puts your blog on the map.

Is your spouse happy for you, or do they feel left out or abandoned?

Of course, the answer to this hypothetical (but really important) question won’t hinge on your actions on one particular night spent working late. The way your spouse and/or kids view your online pursuits will be based on the way they have been impacted and where they feel they fit into your many priorities.

A healthy family life is not only critical for your happiness but for your success in blogging. The creation, growth and maintenance of a remarkable blog requires a great deal of energy and hard work. And if you are constantly fighting the resistance of those in your own household, you are simply not able to sustain the required effort for the long haul.

7 Tips to Build Family Support for Your Blog

I have experienced these struggles first-hand during my first six months of blogging, and I happen to write on the topic of building an extraordinary marriage and family life.

Here are some tips that should help keep your spouse happy and your family supportive of your admirable efforts:

1. Set Priorities and Keep Them

Trust me, I know how easy it is to become totally obsessed with your blog, and this is especially true when you are getting started and trying to do so many different things to create a quality site and attract an audience. I think this passion is an awesome thing, and if you don’t have it you probably need to question your chosen niche or maybe even your desire to be a serious blogger.

However, you really need to take a step back and make sure you have your priorities straight. If you have a family (and you like them and would prefer that they stick around), you cannot let your blog trump your love and attention to them. Set your priorities, communicate them clearly and then let your actions confirm your good intentions.

2. Create Healthy Boundaries

The best way to stay true to your priorities is to create some boundaries with your time. For example, I have established a “no computer time” rule for myself where I don’t use the laptop (or my smart phone) between the time I get home from work and when we get the kids to bed. By setting up this boundary, I free my time and my mind to enjoy my children, play outside or help my wife out with dinner each evening.

Tell your spouse about your boundaries and encourage them to let you know if they see you slipping and not holding true to your commitments. Your family should be your best accountability partner, and they’ll know better than anyone when they feel like you’re not keeping them your top priority.

3. Communicate Your Reasons for Blogging

Why are you investing all this time and effort into blogging anyway? Take the time to tell your loved ones why your blog is important to you and how you see it as a benefit for your family.

It could be that you see it as a creative outlet, it makes you a better person or simply that you want to make money with your blog. Whatever your reasons, I’d bet that your intentions are good and that your entire household could be helped by your hard work. Tell them about it!

4. Sacrifice Personal Time, Not Family Time

If you have made the commitments that should come along with marriage or having children, it’s vital that you don’t push those aside in deference to your time online. We already talked about setting priorities, but the way you prove your intentions is in how you spend your time.

When you need to put your blog time into overdrive to meet a deadline or create your own product, it will require a sacrifice of time from some other area of your life. If you want your family to stay on-board with your efforts, you must sacrifice your own personal time. This may mean skipping poker night or a girl’s night out, but it shouldn’t mean missing your date night with your spouse or your daughter’s school play.

5. Seek Their Input

If you want your family to love your blog as much as you do (okay, so that’s not possible), try to get them involved in some way. This could be as simple as having your spouse proofread a post, or it could mean that you share your thoughts about a recent family event with your audience in a relevant way.

The way you handle this will obviously depend on your niche. I wouldn’t expect many writers to share the same level of personal stories as someone with a marriage blog, but you can surely find a way to make your family feel like they have at least a small ownership in your efforts.

6. Don’t Get Too Personal

While you want to get their input, you need to be careful not to cross the line by sharing too much personal information on your site to the point that your family becomes uncomfortable. You should have a general agreement with your spouse about what is okay to include in a blog post, such as using real names, personal stories or family photos.

My site discusses some pretty intimate issues (sex, money and spirituality for instance), and I love to include personal examples to help create compelling content. However, we have discussed this issue thoroughly, and my wife is totally cool with it as long as I don’t get too crazy. In fact, that’s actually my family in the picture above for all of ProBlogger nation to scrutinize.

Make sure you define the “personal line” with your family and don’t cross it without their permission.

7. Be Inspired By Your Family

You love your family, and if you are like me, they motivate you to do great things. Let your time with them fuel your motivation and inspire you to have an awesome blog.

This could be as simple as breaking writer’s block by goofing around with your kids, or it could mean literally writing a post based around a unique family experience. Let the love and energy your family provides shine through in your writing.

You Can Have It All

A successful blog requires some late nights and a lot of time. There really is no substitute for hard work, and you are not going to get the results you desire without a significant investment of your energy and attention.

However, if you keep things in perspective and make the proper investments in your relationships, you can have a thriving blog amidst all the craziness of life. More importantly, you can have the awesome marriage and healthy life that your entire family deserves.

So, what will you do to ensure that your family remains supportive of your blogging journey?

I’ve gotta run…I have a date night planned with my wife. And soccer practice bright and early tomorrow morning.

Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage with the mission of helping others achieve the extraordinary in marriage and in life. Please visit his site for more proactive and practical advice on topics ranging from Sex to Spirituality…and find him on Facebook and Twitter.

9 Tips for Creating More Small Business Blogging Ideas

A Guest Post by Mark Hayward.

small business blogging ideas

What the hell am I supposed to write about, I own a {insert your small business here}?

Really, who cares about your flower shop, bike shop, auto parts store, or coffee house?

Answer: Your customers certainly care.

We all know by now that consistent small business blogging can drastically improve your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and overall web presence. Additionally, a small business blog can increase your opportunities to interact with (and highlight) your customers and provide an additional occasion for you to share your expert knowledge.

Unfortunately, nothing stops a would be small business blogger faster than a perceived lack of time, and the frustration that comes with a lack of ideas to blog about.

While I can’t help you with your time issue, I can provide you with nine tips for creating more small business blogging ideas:

1. Keyword Tool

One of the best semi-secret sources of the more savvy small business bloggers are the free keyword tools that are available like Google Adwords and Wordtracker. If you are not familiar with searching for keywords, essentially you type in a word or phrase related to your small business and the tool shows you what people (your potential customers) are searching the internet for. You can easily get hundreds of new blog post ideas from a couple of keyword searches.

2. Your Backstory

Potential customers want to know about you and your business, it’s a cornerstone of trust building. One of the best ways to familiarize your customers with your business is to blog about your backstory and personal history. Backstory topics could include any of the following:

  • Who you are?
  • Where did you come from?
  • Why did you choose your business location?
  • What is it that makes you passionate about your small business?
  • What have you done in your life that makes you unique?
  • What struggles have led to the creation of who you are today as a business owner.

3. Customer of the Day

Presumably, if you are running a semi-successful business, you have customers coming in on a daily basis. If you are struggling for post ideas, why not make your customers the focus of your blog one or two days per week?

Not only will you get almost unlimited post material, but since customers like to feel special and appreciated, blogging about them is a great public relations tool. You could even give the participants an additional ten percent off of their purchase for their willingness to participate. Featuring your customers and telling their story gets them excited about your business and can help to establish a customer based community around your blog.

4. Create Resource Posts

Resource posts are great because they are fairly easy for you to put together and people love to read scannable and easily digested information. Ideas for small business resource posts might include:

  • Top ten selling products in your store and why.
  • Five reasons you love your business
  • Twenty best ways to {insert business specific information here}.
  • Eight reasons why customers loveÖ

5. Answer Customer Questions

Your customers have questions and you have expert knowledge. Do not take your knowledge for granted. If there is a specific set of questions that customers seem to ask on a daily basis then turn those queries into individual blog posts.

6. Tutorials

Similar to answering questions, tutorial posts that are specific to your industry (e.g. teaching customers how to change a flat tire, make better coffee, repair their fishing rod, etc.) might be a common task for you, but could really provide value your customers. One simple way to liven up tutorial posts is to add video or photo which can help enhance your instructions.

7. Mind Mapping

If you are not familiar with mind mapping, you can read Darren’s terrific mind mapping articles here, here, and here.

To create small business blog post ideas with mind mapping, draw a square in the center of a piece of paper and write the name of your business in the square. Begin jotting down ideas as you work out from the center. Do not stop to think, over analyze, and critique just get your ideas down on paper and you can refine them later.

smallbizmindmap-thumb.jpg

8. Comparison Post

Take two similar items in your business and do a side by side comparison of the benefits, cost savings, and overall value of each. Own a bike shop, why would I buy a Cannondale over a Trek? Or, own a flower shop, what are the similarities and differences between roses and sunflowers?

9. Day in the Life

Many small business owners find it difficult to write about themselves. But your daily activities are truly unique and blog post worthy.

  • What is a day, a week, or a even a month in your small business life like?
  • Do you get up at 5:00a.m. and work until 10:00p.m.?
  • What are you doing during the workday at your small business?

10. Your Suggestions

We have gotten you to nine tips for creating more small business blog posts and now it’s your turn to help get us to 10, 11, 12…. 100 suggestions. What are your tips for creating small business blogging ideas?

Mark Hayward hates the snow and cold! Luckily, he owns a small business in the Caribbean. Mark is passionate about helping other small business owners avoid the online mistakes he has made. You can follow Mark on Twitter @mark_hayward and you can subscribe to his RSS Feed for weekly small business social media marketing tips.