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What our Members are saying about ProBlogger.com

The Problogger Community launched back in September 2009. Since then we’ve seen some amazing discussions and collaboration between forum members as they work together to build successful blogs.

Our members share tips on writing, SEO, monetization, help each other out with technical problems and product strategies, swap guest posts, and even launch new blogs together. Here is what some of the members are saying.

The biggest help for me is knowing that there are people at all skill levels that are still making strides in the online world. The insights into the hurdles and issues that newer bloggers are facing intrigues me and gives me hope for my own future.
- David from LifeSnips

The challenges are helpful, particularly when there is a deadline. It’s easy to keep putting things off so having some accountability helps me get things done.
- Mark from The Business Mindset

I’ve met some great people that are passionate about what they do. The energy is contagious!
- Lakita from Personal Finance Journey

I can say with certainty that the “Let’s Publish Our Ebooks” challenge actually pushed me to finally doing that after a few years of procrastination and other unimaginable excuses!
- Hart from Petlvr

The thoughts and opinions of so many bloggers at different levels is really inspiring.
- Corey from Simple Blog Coach

The community has inspired me to try somethings I wouldn’t have thought of before.
- Cynthia from TV of the Absurd

One of my favorite parts of forums is learning through the answers offered to others.
- Pat from Life out Loud

I’ve managed to connect with a few bloggers, made a few bucks doing odd jobs for bloggers too as well.
- Rhys from The Gospel According to Rhys

I could not imagine not having the forum anymore. For me it is a sort of central place where I can find an answer to all the questions I have. And I love that.
- Annemieke from Mind Structures

I like having the community as a resource. The advice and challenges are priceless.
- Denise from DeniseOberry.com

The ebook challenge was great. It helped inspire me to create and sell my first ebook.
- Jodi from Kaplan Copy

It’s great being a part of the forum community because there are so many different threads on so many different topics.
- Karen from A Meaningful Existence

Every time I have come on here to look for an answer about a specific issue I have found an answer.
- Anne from Home Schooling 911

I’ve picked the brains of some of the smartest people I’ve come across in a long time to help improve the monetization of my sites and blogs. The amount of information that can be found within these walls is priceless.
- Chris from Blippit

I have been given some very helpful advice on adding thumbnails etc when I struggled to work it out myself. It’s revitalised the look of my blog.
- Sarah from Birds on the Blog

ProBlogger.com is a private membership community for bloggers. Members pay just $4.95 per month! Join us today at ProBlogger.com.

Blogosphere Trends + Choosing and Using Images

Welcome back for another edition of the weekly Blogosphere trends, now on its new day of the week. If you’re blogging about stories, like those on the trends list, that are covered by hundreds of other bloggers across the blogosphere or in your niche, how can you make sure your post gets the attention it deserves? We’ve talked a bit about using effective headlines, interesting formats, and strong opening lines to draw readers to your posts. Today, along with the trends generated by Regator, we’ll look at some types of images that could be used to help posts about these popular stories stand out from the crowd.

Normally, I use individual blog posts to illustrate the week’s tips. This week, I’m taking a slightly different approach and using images from Flickr (unless otherwise noted) because I want to demonstrate the variety and quality of images available there via Creative Commons licenses. We’ll talk in a moment about licensing and other places to get free (or affordable) legal images for your posts, but first, let’s take a look at how this week’s hot stories could’ve been enhanced with visuals:

  1. Gulf of Mexico – Powerful photos, such as this oil-covered pelican, can be used to add emotional impact to your posts. Remember, a picture is worth 1,000 words…but it’s the internet, so your readers probably don’t have the attention span required to read 1,000 words.
  2. Elena Kagan – Clear, well-framed photographs can also be used to set the scene for your post. This photo of the U.S. Supreme Court is Konomarked, which is a bit different from the standard Creative Commons licensing normally used by Flickr. The Konomark symbol, which looks like a pineapple in a circle, generally means that the owner of the content is willing to share it but must be emailed first for permission.
  3. Cannes Film Festival – Perhaps you weren’t able to stand in the center of the red carpet at Cannes to get a dramatic shot…but someone was. Use their access to transport your readers to an exclusive location or event in order to give them a perspective they wouldn’t ordinarily be privy to.
  4. Ronnie James Dio – When choosing photos of celebrities–or people in general, for that matter–spontaneous shots that capture a moment in time are usually far more impactful than staged, posed promo shots provided by PR companies. Though taken on stage, this shot of Ronnie James Dio, who died this week, seems to offer a glimpse into the human being behind the rock star persona.
  5. Senate/Rand Paul/Arlen Specter – You might also consider using a comic or illustration rather than a photo. Because of the time involved in creating them, it can be tough to find free versions of political cartoons, this Arlen Specter work isn’t free but the prices are listed to give you some idea of what something like this would cost.
  6. Miss USA/Rima Fakih – The right image can be used to add humor to your post. In this case, this (really weird) “pole dancing is prohibited” sign could provide light-hearted commentary on the Miss USA pole dancing scandal.
  7. Robin Hood – If you regularly blog about movies, music, or television, you probably receive more publicity stills and promo shots than you’d use in a lifetime. They can be useful in the right context though. Slashfilm used promo shots to give readers a glimpse of the highly anticipated but then-unreleased Robin Hood movie. PR contacts are often happy to provide you with promo shots if you just ask.
  8. Steve Jobs – Although the old adage that pictures never lie is certainly not true in the age of PhotoShop and photo manipulation, they do still add a certain level of credibility to a story. Gawker published screen shots of a heated exchange between a blogger and Steve Jobs because it was not only a more visually interesting approach, but also helped legitimize the story.
  9. David Cameron – Infographics, such as this analysis of the UK election under different voting systems, can help your readers quickly and easily understand a complicated topic or simply present information and statistics that might’ve been dry or wordy in a more dynamic, interesting way.
  10. World Cup – Like infographics, maps are a visually engaging way to provide a great deal of information using minimal text and space. This annotated map of the World Cup surrounds quickly conveys important safety information to World Cup fans.

Most of the images above are available via Creative Commons licensing on Flickr. It’s vital to understand the various types of licensing so that you understand what you can and cannot do with a particular image and how it needs to be attributed. Many new bloggers make the mistake of using random images from a Google image search, hot-linking to images (a BIG no-no), or using Flickr or other image sites without fully understanding the licensing. Here’s my approach: I begin by doing an advanced search on Flickr, making sure to check the box that says “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content.” Then, once I’ve found an image I’m interested in, I click the “Some rights reserved” link (if it says “All rights reserved,” it it not available via Creative Commons) under “More information” in the lower right corner of the page to learn more about the licensing for that photo.

Flickr is a great resource but certainly isn’t your only option for free-high quality images for your posts. Here are a few other options:

- Use the advanced option of Google Image Search. Select the correct option under “Usage Rights.”
- Wikimedia Commons is another amazing resource with more than six million images to choose from.
- If you’re ever in need of space or astronomy-related images, you can’t do better than NASA Images, which allows you to use any image (as long as it doesn’t imply that NASA endorses a particular product) simply by including a credit that says, “NASA/courtesy nasaimages.org.”
- Stock.xchng, now owned by Getty Images, has 350,000 free stock photos. There are also a few other sites where you can find images free of charge, including MorgueFile, EveryStockPhoto, and Freerange Stock.
- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a sizable library of nature-related digital media, all available free of charge.
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a beautiful library of photos, all available for free with a few minor restrictions regarding attribution.
- Use your own photos. With a decent camera and a bit of practice (along with some tips from photography blogs like Darren’s Digital Photography School), you can save yourself the time it’ll take to hunt down photos taken by others and get the satisfaction of creating even more original content for your blog.

Do you have a great image resource I haven’t mentioned? Please share it with your fellow bloggers in the comments.

Kimberly Turner is a cofounder of Regator.com and Regator for iPhone as well as an award-winning print journalist. You can find her on Twitter @kimber_regator.

How to Stop Procrastinating and Get Your eBook Written

Have you written your eBook yet?sticky-ebook-formula.png

One of the most common things I’m hearing back from bloggers who are looking to make money from their blogs is that they’re planning to write and sell an eBook off the back of their blog – the problem is that most bloggers don’t go much beyond planning to do it and never actually get going.

eBooks can be a very profitable way to monetize a blog – I discovered this for myself last year when I made over $72,000 in a week after the launch of one of my first ones.

However the problem that many bloggers face is that it just all seems way to overwhelming to actually get them written. To be honest – I was one of those bloggers myself. I didn’t know how to tackle it, it all seemed too big and so it remained an idea for well over a year before I did anything.

The Sticky eBook Formula (aff) is a fantastic little resource to help you get your eBook beyond the planning stage.

Update: I’ve just been told that this eBook is on sale at 37% off until midnight tonight (EST in the US). Sorry about the late notice but I only found this today.

Written by Kelly Kingman – this concise but comprehensive eBook will walk you through the steps of taking your eBook idea/s and actually getting it out of your head and into a form that will enable you to release it to your blog’s readers.
This eBook won’t tell you how to launch your eBook – it focuses just upon writing it… the main battle that we bloggers face. For the launch stuff there are other great resources that you can get later (like Naomi and Daves classic which is the perfect companion to Sticky eBook Formula) but for now – the key is to get it written!

If you’re planning to write an eBook – grab your copy of Sticky eBook Formula today and set some time aside this week to get it done!

Are Facebook Like Buttons Wrong or Right For Your Site?

crowd.jpgWhat will the crowd think of the new Facebook Like buttons on your site? Michael Johnston from The Well Run Site explores whether they’re right for yours.

The stampeding sound you may have recently heard was not caused by a bank panic or rumors of an impending astroid strike.

It was just the new Like button from Facebook.

The promise of this new offering is that visitors will click the buttons on your site, pump up your Facebook mojo with their friends and return fresh new traffic your way, all for free. What could be better than that? 

Free link-love from the world’s largest social network was too good an offer for most to pass up, and no sooner had Facebook’s big presentation ended than site owners worldwide scrambled onto the bandwagon. The herd-on-the-move sound was their collective response to Facebook’s call, and small, blue Like buttons are now multiplying across the web faster than you can say “pandemic.” 

But are they really appropriate for all sites? I decided to find out.

I began by testing my own integration as well as several different WordPress Like button plugins on my personal blog.  When I had become confident that the buttons wouldn’t cause any problems, I felt it was safe enough for a limited rollout to a few of the blogs I manage. 

I tested Like Button performance on two sites for a one-week period. Site #1 is a stock forecasting blog that gets about 20k-30k visitors each week. Site #2 is blog for fans of a popular singer and receives about 2,300 visitors a week or one-tenth the traffic of the other blog. Both are updated with fresh content daily.

So, two sites, with very different traffic levels and audiences, both running the new Like buttons. Which do you think saw the greatest number of button clicks and return traffic?

If you’re thinking as I did – site #1, by a landslide – you’re wrong. And it wasn’t even close. By week’s end, site #2 – the fan blog with light traffic – won the contest handily. This certainly raised my eyebrows. The number of Like votes it received easily exceeded the number received by the far busier site, which received none – none. 

Piling humiliation atop insult, The Little Fan Blog That Could also received a fair amount of new visits back from Facebook. This was great news, because adding a Like button did, in this case, boost traffic measurably, tending to confirm that the Like buttons can be beneficial to more than just Facebook.

But why did the blog with the higher traffic mysteriously receive absolutely no love from Facebook users? 

I believe there are two reasons: first, that visitor demographics play a strong role in how things will be shared, that some social bookmarking tools are more effective than others in certain settings; second, that the type of content dictates whether it will be shared at all. 

To see if these explanations make sense, I needed a much larger set of data than was available the sites I tested.  Since the important data is available to anyone who cares to look, we’ll examine stats for articles on a few heavily trafficked sites.

First, let’s focus on the visitor demographics question and whether it affects social media sharing preferences. I’ll use Facebook Like and Share button counts versus the number of retweets each page received to see if a trend emerges.
The graphic below shows the preference of visitors to a Techcrunch post on May 1st.  As Techcrunch appeals to a tech-savvy audience, Twitter is favored by a wide margin. (Techcrunch posts are also widely auto-tweeted by those trying to establish a Twitter presence and build a follower list.)

techcrunch.gif

Now look at site with a very different audience. This is a photo of a skateboarding baby chick from icanhascheezburger.com, where the results clearly favor sharing on Facebook by an almost 10-to-1 margin.

icanhsascheezburger.gif

Here’s a second site with wide audience appeal: a break.com video of a tornado forming in front of a couple watching from a parked car. The total number of Likes and old-style Share clicks dwarfs the number of tweets it received.

break.gif

Finally, we have these eye-popping results for Oprah’s No Texting Campaign,  where a predominantly female audience seems to overwhelmingly prefer Facebook. (Ironically, the Twitter users might be the ones doing the texting in the first place, perhaps contributing to the disparity).

oprah.gif

The limited data suggests to me that audience demographic strongly affects whether something is Liked (or Shared) on Facebook instead of Tweeted.

Of course, one example from each site is hardly enough data from which to draw a conclusion; so I examined a random sampling of different content on each of the same four sites to see if the preference ratios were similar. Sure enough, on each site the general preference was indeed the same. From this, it seems clear that different audiences prefer Facebook over Twitter and vice-versa.

Now, what about the content itself? Certainly, it isn’t front page news to state that some content is more shareable than others. But how much effect does it really have? To find out, I chose a selection of articles from The Washington Post, all published May 1st. By focusing one site I can be assured of a relatively consistent audience. At the same time, I can be assured of a diverse range of content since it is a general news source.

Here are the Like button results from five articles I picked, all of which were published the same day:

  1. An article on the gulf oil spill received 34 Likes at the time of my sample.
  2. A story on shifting immigration views drew 12 Like votes.
  3. This opinion piece on Obama and immigration reform received 10 votes.
  4. Another piece on the US economic recovery had 21 Likes.
  5. Finally, an article discussing a humorous video made by US soldiers in Afghanistan got a comparatively whopping 55 votes, the most of any item in this limited sampling. Additionally, the linked page that contained video itself had 68 Likes.

(The numbers for the examples I’ve cited are dynamic and will have changed by the time you read this.)

The top vote getters were the articles about positive or uncontroversial subjects. The two that discussed immigration reform (currently a hot-button issue in the US) were the least recommended. From this I conclude that the nature of the content plays a major role in whether it will be shared at all;  that, particularly in the case of Facebook, people won’t click ‘Like’ on something they don’t want their friends to see, perhaps due to concerns about privacy or because the nature of the content may inspire unwanted debate or attention. 

The fact is that there are things that humans simply don’t care to publicly share with others, things they may like but prefer to keep private. As an extreme example, do you really want your Like preference for this photo (warning: NSFW) showing up on the Facebook pages of friends, co-workers or even your mother?  Contrived? Yes, but dumber things have happened in the age of Facebook. It also shows that not every site or page is a good candidate for Like buttons. 

Some sites, in fact,  may find the buttons do harm instead of good. Personally, I find it a little creepy when I land on a page and discover that someone I know also happens to like the same thing. And while, yes, the similar practice of ad targeting goes on every day, it happens out of sight and doesn’t affect user perceptions. But the in-your-face, we-know-who-you-are aspect of Facebook’s buttons are a different matter, one that may well work against some sites that use them.

So, for example, if you’re selling “male enhancement pills”, cures for balding, creams that purport to clear up mysterious rashes in unmentionable places or books ‘For Dummies,’ chances are the Like button will be ineffective at least and damaging at worst. People either won’t click on them or their mere presence may inhibit visitors who would much rather blissfully maintain the illusion of anonymity.

If, however, you specialize in cute animal photos, silly videos, top-10 lists or something else innocuous, you’re probably going to do well – very well.

Now, to return to why I think blog #1 did so poorly in the Facebook popularity contest. That site specializes in neither the cute nor the overtly offensive, and it has a loyal, growing and diverse following. The writer who runs the site, however, does have very definite political opinions; and there, I think, is the problem.

Writing that touches on religious or, in this case, political issues is bound to offend someone. It’s just a fact of life. Ultimately, I have concluded that visitors to his blog are choosing not to take a public stand by clicking Like, which would tend to expose their political sympathies. After all, what is a Like button if not an expression of agreement or approval?

So, this seems to explain the horrid Like button results on a site I thought would surely benefit from it. It’s also consistent with my limited sampling of other sites, where the humorous, feel-good or uncontroversial items received the most votes.

For me, this has been an illuminating exercise. Though I could be mistaken on the precise cause of why things turned out as they did, it’s clear to me that Facebook Like Button functionality is inappropriate in some circumstances and won’t perform the way we all hope it will.

When deciding whether to add Like button functionality to your site, consider that:

  • Neutral content for general audiences seems likely to deliver excellent results due to its wide appeal. Humorous content will do even better.
  • Pages covering controversial subjects will probably fare very poorly.
  • Items that interest a narrow demographic won’t be shared widely on Facebook. Tech items, for example, will probably do much better on Twitter.
  • Your user demographics will determine whether Facebook, Twitter or some other form of social bookmarking suits their needs.
  • If you run a site that sells products that are shipped in plain, unmarked boxes, your visitors are expecting a level of discretion from your site that the Like button may perceptibly diminish.

Have you implemented the Like button on your site? What have your experiences been?

Read more from Michael Johnston on The Well Run Site or connect with him on Twitter.

What Camera Am I Using for My Video Posts? The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

A couple of weeks ago I posted a video post on family blogging balance (see the full sized video here). While my son stole the show in the video a little one of the main questions I was asked after posting the video was ‘what camera did you shoot it with?’

This prompted me to shoot this video – one that answer the question. The camera I’m now using (and I switch to it halfway through the video) is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1. It is a still camera but the video it shoots is lovely.

The main thing people seemed to like about my original video was the depth of field (or the out of focus background) – something that is made possible with the GF1′s 20mm lens large aperture (f1.7). It also is a HD camera and the glass on that particular lens is a high quality. I’ll let you check out the comparison of the video for yourself.
[Read more...]

How Many Times Do You Tweet Links to New Blog Posts? [POLL]

I asked this question over on Twitter on the weekend and it was fascinating to hear the answers and see some of the thinking behind what different people do.

I thought I’d run it as a poll and open it up for some wider discussion here on the blog.

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How Many Times Do You Tweet Links to New Blog Posts?


I’d love to get your comments on this topic. Why do you do the number of tweets that you do? Why don’t you do more/less? Do you use any tolls/automation to manage it – if so which ones?

Here’s some of the responses to my tweet asking the question:

“I only tweet a link to it once. I’ll tweet a second time if theres something interesting in the comment section.” – JadeCraven

“One. Sometimes two. Three if it really rocks. But I post daily and don’t want my Twitter to be an endless ME ME ME feed.” – CatherineCaine

“I tweet my new blog posts only once…to me, more is spammy, even tho I know not everyone will see it the 1st time…” – QuipsAndTips

“I always tweet a link straight after I post.Then maybe the next day depending on the post time, for those who may have missed it” – CptTremendous

“I space it out over days/times. Maybe btw 5-8 over a weeks time.” – MyMelange

“I usually retweet about three times, one in a.m., one in afternoon, one at night. Covers time zones.” – docudramaqueen

“Depends on importance and global relevance. If really important to me & relevant also to US audience, I may tweet twice in Aus..” – divinewrite

“Once. More than once is spam and makes followers unfollow and complain.” – Shuttlecock

See a full list of the responses to my original tweet here.

Blogosphere Trends and Goal Setting

This column is written by Kimberly Turner from Regator (a great tool that gathers and organizes the world’s best blog posts). – Darren

When I sit down to write this weekly column, I have two goals: 1. To tell you what bloggers are writing about most in the past week 2. To provide advice that is useful to the ProBlogger community. The first goal is easy because it’s the same every week. I fire up the super-secret algorithm at Regator and it spits out a list. The second goal is more challenging because it varies. It’s not enough to say I want to provide tips, I need to consider how I want to focus my post and what I want it to achieve.

You’ve probably got goals for your blog as a whole (e.g., reaching a certain number of readers or increasing comments by a certain percentage in the next year) but do you create goals for each post you write? You should. Goals hold you accountable and ensure that your post achieves what you want it to. Darren mentions the importance of setting goals in “Does Your Next Blog Post Matter?” He suggests writing your goal at the top of your draft (you’ll delete it before publishing unless it becomes part of your introduction), which is a good habit to get into. Before you publish, ask yourself whether the post achieves the goal.

I’ll share my goal for this post with you: This post will use Regator’s trends list to list the ten stories bloggers are writing about most this week. It will also provide examples that illustrate the types of goals bloggers might consider using on their own blogs. Let’s get started…

  1. Gulf of Mexico – Your post’s goal might be to motivate readers to take some action. A post such as The Beacon‘s “The Spill: What You Can Do, Part 2″ does this. The author mentions that readers have been asking how they can help with the oil spill. By providing this information, the post also achieves the goal of connecting readers with resources they’re seeking. Your readers’ questions can be a great source of post ideas. If many readers are asking the same thing, write a post with the goal of answering that question.
  2. Elena Kagan – Providing new or unique information about a frequently covered topic is a common goal. Washington Wire‘s “Making the Grade: Kagan’s Transcript” shares information from the U.S. Supreme Court nominee’s academic transcript and, in doing so, fulfills the goal of providing additional information about a hot story.
  3. Cannes Film Festival – Your goal may be as simple as “This post will provide readers with an opportunity to share their opinions about X.” Fashionista‘s “Who Opened Cannes Better, Cate Blanchett’s Alexander McQueen or Salma Hayek’s Gucci Couture?” and The Girls in the Beauty Department‘s “Poll: Did Kate Beckinsale Pull This Super-High Updo Off?” are not high-brow posts about a serious topic, but they do meet the goal of strengthening the community and giving readers a forum in which they can debate.
  4. Betty White – Sometimes your goal is as basic as, “This post will entertain readers.” The author of BestWeekEver‘s “In Honor of Betty White Week: The Golden Girls Credits the Way They Should Have Been” achieved that goal with an interesting fact (that the theme song for The Golden Girls was an actual pop hit) and amusing video (the verse about old age wasn’t included in the theme song so the blogger did some video editing to fix that).
  5. Lena Horne – If it’s appropriate for your blog’s tone, you can create posts with the goal of sharing your personal feelings or memories to pay tribute or support a point. “Memories of Lena Horne: The Calm After Stormy Weather” from The American Spectator and “The Night I Met Lena Horne” from The Root are beautiful examples of this goal being met. These sorts of posts also build community by strengthening the communication between blogger and readers.
  6. David CameronThe First Post‘s “In Pictures: Prime Minister David Cameron – The Story So Far” had a simple goal: “This post will tell the story of David Cameron through strong, well-selected photographs.”
  7. Robin Hood – The post “Robin Hood: 10 Things I Liked, 5 I Didn’t” from FilmSchoolRejects was written with the goal of refuting an earlier review. Policing other publications and gathering information to support or refute their claims can lead to countless post ideas.
  8. Gordon Brown – Your post’s goal may be to give your readers advice about something. Career Hub gets bonus points for finding a way to use a major news story to illustrate their advice in “Gordon Brown’s Downfall: 6 Career Lessons for Us All.”
  9. Lady Gaga –Another oft-used goal is that of of sharing information not yet available to the general public–advice from a conference that not all your readers were able to attend, a recipe you came up with in your own kitchen, or a pre-release issue of a comic book about Lady Gaga (Jezebel‘s “Good Idea, Gruesome Execution: The Lady Gaga Comic Book”).
  10. Times Square – If you’re a regular ProBlogger reader, you’ve seen Darren’s posts explaining why you need the ProBlogger book. Those posts, like Daily Intel‘s “Times Square Vendor Sells T-Shirts About Seeing Something and Saying Something,” have the goal of promoting a product. Promoting your product can be tricky but Darren gets by with it by weaving valuable tips into his promotional posts and Daily Intel’s post is actually less about promotion and more about sharing an interesting bit of news.

Speaking of news and promotion (see what I did there?), I wanted to mention briefly that the all-new, redesigned version of Regator.com is now open to the public. Several ProBlogger readers tried it during our private beta (Darren gave some invites away in the forums) and we appreciated the feedback from that. As I’ve been doing these weekly trends posts, several of you have mentioned that the topics important to bloggers in your particular niche don’t make it on to the overall trends lists you see here. While Regator doesn’t provide weekly trends on the site–those are exclusively for ProBlogger readers–it does give up-to-the-minute real-time trends for the blogosphere as a whole and for individual niches. That means that if you’re blogging about politics or technology or entertainment, you can head over to Regator to see what bloggers in your niche are writing about right now. I hope that’s helpful to those of you who wanted more genre-specific trends.

Do you have goals for individual posts that you write, or just for your blog as a whole? If not, do you think writing a goal statement before starting a post would benefit you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Kimberly Turner is a cofounder of Regator.com and Regator for iPhone as well as an award-winning print journalist. You can find her on Twitter @kimber_regator.

50,000 Views On A YouTube Video And All I Got Was This Lousy Blog Post

A Guest Post by Jordan Cooper of Not A Pro Blog.

As a blogger, what one thing would you consider to be your “holy grail” of success?

For a stand-up comedian, this defining moment was an appearance on the Tonight Show. A longstanding tradition of being the platform of so many big breaks back in the 70′s and 80′s, the most coveted spot was right beside Johnny Carson on the couch. Your short 5-minute routine would be seen across the country by millions. As soon as the next morning, your phone would ring off the hook with entertainment industry bigwigs looking to turn you into the next star. In just one instant, this indeed was a comedian’s proverbial slingshot to fame and fortune.

No longer is this the case.

The hey-dey of the Tonight Show was at a time when viewing choices were limited. With only a handful of options available for entertainment consumption, Johnny Carson’s late night talk show was pretty much the only game in town. The springboard was inevitable since you could get a highly condensed, highly targeted and highly watched showcase of your talent.

In today’s time, the options are just virtually endless for people to consume content. The attention of the general pulic is fragmented to the point that no single platform can have a massive one-time effect. Between the myriad of networks, cable channels, studio and independent films, terrestrial broadcasting, satellite radio and of course, the internet – we never again will reach the density needed to produce “one hit wonders” that invariably sweep the nation out of nowhere.

Working towards a single “holy grail” moment is no longer a path to success.

On the day after the Super Bowl, I posted a Google commerical parody that went on to get over 50,000 views, featured on several major websites including Mashable and saw my blog’s traffic spike almost quadruple the normal levels – all within a few days. Obviously, the video was created to do just this. My brilliant plot to have a piece of content go viral was indeed glorious. But was anything really accomplished that would tangibly further my overall goals?

Once the aftermath was over, views on the video settled down, comments calmed to a trickle and the fanfare wore away, I was still essentially left in the same position in which I started. Sure, I likely picked up a few more blog subscribers, Twitter followers and had a few more clicks than usual on my affiliate ads… but for the amount of sheer exposure gained from the experience, the return was extremely neglible in the grand scheme of things. It was only a small fraction notched on the measuring stick of ultimate success.

It’s true that lightning strikes once and does damage, but…

Blog posts aren’t lightning bolts, so don’t treat them this way.

As a blogger, you need to have this damage happen countless times over the course of your journey in order to gain traction. Whether it be a video shared on YouTube, a front page on Digg, an explosion on StumbleUpon, a retweet virus on Twitter or even a guest post a heavily trafficked blog (wink wink) – no one single event will decide your success. It’s a matter of repeating this effect over and over again until it slowly snowballs into into a body of work that can stand on it’s own.

Achieve your goals with a series of accomplishments in a continued pattern.

It’s matter of following a break through moment with another one and yet another one after that. Utilizing multiple platforms and mediums to showcase your work. Getting yourself in front of different audiences for exposure to expand your tribe. Producing content that’s worth talking about time and time again until it becomes the expected norm for you.

Your inevitable success won’t have a date attached to it. You won’t be able to really calculate when it happened. It will be a culmination of many victories over the course of your journey. Eventually, you’ll wake up and realize “wow, I’ve reached my goal!” – yet not have a single solitary clue what the tipping point was in achieving it.

For the stand-up comedian today, an appearance on the Tonight Show is still a huge stepping stone towards his or her success, but it isn’t the be-all end-all that is was in time’s past. Going from unknown and undiscovered to superstar overnight – that “holy grail” doesn’t exist anymore. So don’t aim for it exclusively… or you’ll just be left with your next lousy blog post.

Jordan Cooper is a professional stand-up comedian who showcases his sarcastic humor with videos and written rants about blogging, social media & marketing at Not A Pro Blog.

Small Changes That Lead to Big Results

A Guest Post by James Dunworth. First Image by NDevil

business-graph.jpgOver the years I have spent hours working on tweaks to my websites that have lead to zero or imperceptible improvement in rankings and earnings.

On other hand, I have also made changes which took just a few minutes of my time – and lead to huge changes in profits and revenues.

All of the changes here took less than an hour to implement.

Analytics

After linking AdSense to my analytics accounts, I analysed my website to see where adsense payments were coming from.

The results were astounding.

While there were around 800 hundred pages in my website, 70% of the revenue were generated from just 3 pages, relating to jobs in my niche.

I commissioned an advert from a freelancer. As I had another advert done at the same time it cost just $15. I placed the advert in a prominent position on my website.

That month my adsense revenue rose from $533 to $832.

Graph showing increase in adsense revenue.

That was last year. Last month revenue was over 2000 dollars. Obviously, now I know which pages are making money I have spent some serious effort in optimising those pages!

Subscriptions

I have never liked pop up forms, and I assumed that most people would react in the same way as I often do when I see a pop up form – leave the website.

However, I decided to test the Aweber popover on my website.

The result? A huge increase in sign up rates, as shown in the graph below.

Image showing growth in monthly subscribers.

This hasn’t always been replicated on other websites I own, but it does make the case that you should always tests things, even when you think they won’t work – it might just make a huge difference to your site.

(Intriguingly, the new and much more attractive Aweber forms lead to an immediate and substantial drop in subscription rates!)

Images

I decided to add images of users with electronic cigarettes to the front page of my e-commerce website, E-Cigarette Direct.

One particular image was of a Welsh National Opera singer using our product on stage. I chose this one because it showed the acceptance of the device by a very respected organisation in my country.

Opera singer smoking an electronic cigarette.

The next day orders flooded in.

When things settled down we were left with a 17% improvement in the conversion rate.

That meant thousands of dollars a month to our business!

Your thoughts

What small changes have you made to your blog or website which have made big a difference?

James Dunworth is the IT director of E Cigarette Direct, the UK distributor of the NJOY electronic cigarette (http://www.ecigarettedirect.co.uk). He is also the co-author of theTobaccoHarmReduction.org’s study Electronic Cigarette (E Cigarettes) As a Potential Harm Reduction Product,