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Consider a Series. Seriously.

A guest post by Larry Brooks of Storyfix.com

In the recycled litany of advice on how to grow your blog – recycled because it’s all tried and true – there’s one effective strategy that gets too little airtime.

Perhaps that’s because it’s not for everybody.  Because it’s hard to pull off. 

That said, it almost always works.

Meanwhile, as a first line of more accessible strategy, we’re told to comment on the blogs of others.  We’re also advised to avoid overtly flogging our own agenda in the process. 

Dude, nice post!” won’t send folks to your site.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to dole out the atta-boys.  Just don’t expect to be rewarded with reciprocal traffic when you do.  If you comment – and this, too, is straight out of Blogging 101 – strive to add value to the online discussion, and in context to the previous paragraph.

We’re told to write killer headlines.  Snatch an edgy image from Flickr.  Never put three sentences of content into a single paragraph.  Pretend like you know Darren Rowse and Brian Clark personally. 

Which puts you in the company of thousands who lay claim to that because they’ve swapped an email or two.  They’re not two of the biggest and nicest people on the internet for nothin’.

And of course, we’re consistently told that content is king.  That this little strategy trumps everything else.  Always has, always will.

Which is precisely why the strategy I’m about to pitch works so well.

Like you, I’ve dipped my blogging toe into all of these rushing online waters, and with varying degrees of success, depending on how you define it. 

Growing a blog by the book is a bit like those sales pages that suggest you can earn five grand a month with Google ads, and then when you do everything they suggest after submitting your fifty bucks, you make about fifteen of them back over the next five months.

If you’re the exception to that generalization, then by all means, illuminate us.

But if you’re looking for something you can sink your strategic teeth into, an approach that solidly aligns with the content-is-king blogging mantra and actually results in an influx of enthusiastic new readers, then consider this:

Write a series

A sequence of posts that offer a sort of mini-symposium, an online workshop that builds upon its own content and momentum.

I’ve done it a handful of times, and each time it jacks my Feedburner number much more significantly than anything else I’ve tried.

I’m in the middle of one now, in fact, and my level of readership has gone up nearly 50 percent since it began five days ago  (that said, Darren Rowse I’m not, so this isn’t a world record).  And my subscriber base has gone up 10 percent after three months of complete flat-lining.

And – here’s the entrepreneurial payoff – I’m selling a bunch of ebooks in the process, at over twice the normal sales pace.

Claiming the Right to Write a Series

To write a successful series, you need to occupy a position of credibility within your chosen niche.  You need to have something to offer, to give away, and be able to demonstrate the chops to do so. 

Also, your series should be about something that can’t be adequately contained in a single blog post.

Sure, we can stuff anything into a single blog post if we try.  I’ve seen single blog posts on solving the problem of unhappy marriages, how to cure cancer and the ultimate answer to recovering from sex addiction, substance abuse and hair loss.

Yeah, like any of those can happen in 1000 words or less.

If you really want to cement your position as an authority on something, on anything, you need to go deeper than what readers normally encounter online.

You need to train them.

One reason this strategy can grow your readership is that it is, in essence, an event.  Which means it can be marketed as such ahead of time.

Beginning a week or two before you launch the series, start writing about it.  Define the problem or need your series will address, and the end result that will be there for those who come to the party.

Attach a tag, a notice, at the end of your otherwise unconnected posts reminding readers of the upcoming series.  Suggest they invite friends that share the same goals and concerns.

Getting the Reader Involved 

Ask for input to the series, allowing your readers to, in effect, take part in the approach and content.  Nothing makes readers love you more than the belief – based in truth – that you are writing precisely what they need to read, and that you understand both their goals and their challenges.

And then, write a killer series.  Write the hell of out.  Don’t just whip them off before bed in a stream-of-conscious psycho-babble of war stories.  Write your series as if you are preparing a masters thesis, but with a sense of style, humor and empathy.

Think of the posts as chapters in a book, with an introductory context up front, then a building series of content blocks that take the reader to the promised outcome.

Not only will they come once you build it, others will write about it on their sites – including requests for interviews and invites to guest post – creating a level of buzz you could never achieve otherwise.

Go deeper than you normally would

With a series you have the time and space to go there, and in doing so you’ll quickly differentiate yourself from other blogs in your niche.

When you write an effective series, you are actually taking blogging to another level.  What was conceived as experiential sharing and observation becomes a valuable gift to all who click on.

And speaking of chapters… I’ve turned three of my series into ebooks that are selling well, with a fourth right around the corner.  Just make sure you don’t simply slap together the eight parts of your series into an eight chapter ebook and call it original, your readers are too smart for that.  And, they deserve better.

You’ve already given it away.  You can’t sell it unless you add more value to it.

Use your posts as a foundation to build on, and expand them into a full and robust informational goldmine on the topic.  Include real life examples as a way to clarify your content. 

People who read your series will flock to it, even if they read it on your site as part of a series, and they’ll tell others.

And in the meantime, your blog and your brand will begin to grow.  Not only because of your content, but as a result of the credibility of your authoritative brand.

Larry Brooks is currently writing a series that deconstructs Dennis Lehane’s bestselling novel, Shutter Island – the book and the movie based on it – on Storyfix.com, an instructional site for novelists and screenwriters. 

Update from Third Tribe – Now 20 Hours of Quality Teaching

It’s been a while since I posted an update on Third Tribe – so today I wanted to do just that.

Screen shot 2010-05-05 at 12.58.38 PM.png

Since launching Third Tribe a few months back there have been some wonderful things happening in the community. The highlight for me personally has been the forum area and the relationships that have emerged there as well as the ideas that are being shared.

My hope for 3T when it launched was that we’d see thousands of internet entrepreneurs coming together to learn, share and help one another move forward. While we all have our own goals and approaches, my hope was that by coming together we’d see a collective movement forward towards our goals. This is what I’m seeing happening.

The great thing about the forum area is that even as a more experienced internet marketer I’m seeing ideas and discussions there that are inspiring me to try new approaches in my business. I know I’ve made quite a few significant changes in the selling of my own online products as a direct result of what I’m seeing others talk about in the forum.

Hours of Quality Seminars and Q&A

In addition to the forum area we’ve also seen some great seminars (audio and transcripts) added so far. These include:

  • Product Launch Strategies: What Always Works and What’s Working in 2010 – Jeff Walker interviewed by Sonia Simone
  • Action Email: Copywriting Tips for Insanely Effective Email Marketing – Dave Navaro interviewed by Sonia Simone
  • How to Get Your Customers to Do Your Best Marketing for You – John Jantsch interviewed by Chris Brogan
  • Email Marketing Strategies that Work – Sonia Simone interviewed by Brian Clark
  • Building a Business Around a Blog: Part One – Darren Rowse interviewed by Brian Clark
  • Building a Business Around a Blog: Part Two – Chris Brogan interviewed by Sonia Simone
  • Building a Business Around a Blog: Part Thrree – Brian Clark interviewed by Sonia Simone
  • Building a Business Around a Blog: Part Four – Leo Babauta interviewed by Darren Rowse
  • The Quick Start Guide to Making Money Online – Johnny B Truant interviewed by Sonia Simone

While we launched 3T with just one seminar and a forum today you’ve literally got hours of teaching in the archives ready to go. We’ve also done 2 live Q&A calls per month (total of 6) which have been a lot of fun. These included a great ‘getting unstuck’ call with Gary Barnes. All of these sessions are recorded and in the archives too.

In terms of content going forward – there’s a lot to come including these two seminars in May:

  • Advanced Affiliate Marketing with Social Media and SEO – featuring Glen Allsopp
  • Traffic Jam: Brian Clark and Jon Morrow on Traffic-Building Strategies

The cool thing about Third Tribe is that if you join today you get access to the full archive of seminars and Q&A calls – literally hours and hours of valuable content. Each month there are 4 new recordings added – it’s becoming a great little library of resources for Web Entrepreneurs.

However do keep in mind that as we add content and value it is likely that we’ll also increase the price (as we’ve already done once). Those who sign up earlier lock themselves in at the current rate so the longer you wait to join the higher the price goes.

If you’ve been thinking about giving Third Tribe a go – it’s a great time to join – hope to see you on the inside!

How I Make Money Blogging [My Income Split in April 2010]

Today I’m updating the Make Money Blogging page here on ProBlogger – a page where I give a breakdown of how I make money from blogging.

This time I’ve decided to do a snapshot of last month (April 2010). I also thought that I’d put together a bit of a video as well as updating the page – to speak to the different parts of how I make money blogging as well as writing it up.

Here’s the video (created using ScreenFlow – please forgive the slight lag between audio and video).

How I Earn Money Blogging [April 2010 Stats] from Darren Rowse on Vimeo.

For more information you might also want to check up the updated Make Money Blogging page.

PS: Thanks to Tim Jack for the motion graphics intro/outro to the video.

Blogosphere Trends – What Bloggers Are Writing About This Week

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

Welcome back, my blogtastic friends! As you may have gathered by now: Every week, we use Regator‘s blog trends to show you what the blogosphere has been writing about during the previous seven days (click any trend to see posts about that story) and I give you a few blogging tips to go along with the trends. Speaking of which, I just finished watching the first, second, and third groups of videos that Darren gathered from readers who had tips to share, and I’m both impressed and inspired.

That’s why I thought we’d use this week’s trends to talk a bit about videos in posts, namely why and when to use video. The “Tips From Our Readers” video series as well as Darren’s weekly video posts are effective because they not only convey information but also use video to strengthen the community and to help readers connect with Darren on a more personal level. Building community and helping readers connect with you as a blogger are two ways of ensuring repeat visitors and higher traffic. Let’s take a look at this week’s trends and how a few specific blogs used video to add to these stories:

  1. Gulf of Mexico/Deepwater Horizon – In “Video of Oil Rig and Fire Rescues” The Lede features five separate videos of the oil rig fire in the Gulf of Mexico. These videos are used to convey the drama of the event and play into the human fascination with disasters. In general, don’t write about a tornado if you have video of it. Don’t describe an explosion if you can show it.
  2. Goldman SachsThe Consumerist‘s “Senator to Goldman Sachs: ‘Why Did You Push a S#!tty Deal?” uses video to show rather than tell readers about this altercation. Using video this way is a good alternative to transcribing long passages of quotes and also provides readers with nuances such as body language, facial expressions, and linguistic quirks that can be important in circumstances such as this.
  3. Kentucky Derby – Videos can be used to add humor to your blog. In “The Late Movies: Horse Racing Hijinks,” Mental Floss does this by providing a series of videos showing commentators struggling with unusual horse names during the Derby. (The Aaaaarrrr! video is priceless, but makes another point because the 1:34 second video only gets going after the 50-second mark. Don’t be afraid to edit videos down to the relevant bits. The internet has a short attention span.)
  4. Gordon Brown – Gordon Brown’s recent gaffe, in which he insulted a woman while his microphone was unintentionally on, is a perfect opportunity to use video to illustrate a controversial moment. The author of Britannica Blog‘s “Bigotgate and the End of Gordon Brown” recognized this and inserted video proof of the incident. Covering stories such as this one without video simply feels incomplete.
  5. Born Free – Rather than simply showing M.I.A.’s controversial banned-on-YouTube new video for “Born Free,” The Daily Swarm used it, along with other recent music videos, to highlight a trend in its post “Why the Event Video Is Back.” If you’re handy with video editing, you can also create videos that demonstrate trends by showing that multiple people taking part in a particular activity, wearing a particular fashion, or using a particular phrase, for example.
  6. Times Square – When timeliness matters, you might be able to cover a breaking story more quickly for your readers by posting video of a press conference than by writing your own analysis. Towleroad’s “Car Bomb Scare Shuts Down Times Square” quickly summed up the story with quotes from major news outlets and video of the mayor’s press conference. You can go this route to keep your readers informed then go back and write a more detailed post later.
  7. Bret MichaelsTV Squad uses video to provide additional commentary and opinion on Bret Michael’s medical condition from a public figure in “Did Trump Inadvertently Spoil ‘The Celebrity Apprentice?’” Using video in this way helps add additional voices and color to the post.
  8. Stephen Hawking – Video can also be used to add pop culture references to your posts. In “Stephen Hawking: ‘Don’t Talk to Aliens,’The Seminal uses amusing video clips from movies to indicate that Hawking thinks aliens are more like the crazy attack aliens from Independence Day than friendly E.T.s from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
  9. Arizona Immigration Law – Liberal U.S. political blog Crooks and Liars uses video of protests against Arizona’s new immigration law to support its viewpoints and take readers to the scene of a story in “Tens of Thousands March in Major Cities for Immigration Reform.” Taking your own video at a drama-filled event gives your readers inside access and puts them in the moment.
  10. Sandra Bullock – In “Sandra Bullock Paparazzi Feeding Frenzy Videos: Pure Chaos,” Gawker used video when words might’ve fallen short. The scene is so chaotic and overwhelming that video was, very likely, the best way to quickly communicate the situation.

Do you use video for any of the reasons mentioned here (to build community, to convey drama, to show rather than tell, to add humor, to illustrate controversy or chaos, to show a trend, to cover breaking news quickly, to add voices and commentary, to add pop culture references, or to take readers to the scene)? How have you used videos on your blog? Please share your experiences 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 Blog: ANOTHER 10 Great Blog Tips from Our Readers

This post concludes the sharing of blog tips videos from readers (see previous days videos here and here). I have to say – there’s a video in this lot that made me laugh and laugh – I hope you enjoy it too!

Thanks again to everyone who participated – if you’ve enjoyed these videos please do share them with your networks and visit the creators of them by clicking on the links under the videos to visit their blogs.

by Mario

by Mohsin

by Ray Johnson

by Eric

by Russ Hennerberry

by Jason Davis

by Kelly Walsh

by Camilo Garzón

by Deb

by Jannie Funster

How to Blog: 10 MORE Great Blog Tips from Our Readers

Here are the next batch of reader submitted blog tip videos (see yesterdays ones here).

Thanks to everyone who shared yesterdays with their networks – again, please do click through to the blogs of those who created these videos to show your appreciation and do share with your networks the ones that resonate with you most.

Thanks to all who have contributed!

by Amy Andrews

by Jeff Copeland

by Chris Guthrie

by Travis Campbell

by Chef Keem

by Ryan Mason

Why Bloggers Need Self-Doubt from Mary Jaksch on Vimeo.

by Mary

by Kristin Dziadul

by Pascal

by Nick

How to Blog: 10 Great Blog Tips from Our Readers

A few weeks ago I asked readers to submit video blog tips to share with the wider ProBlogger readership. The idea was that we’d get a variety of useful blog tips on how to blog – but that we’d also get a bit of a snapshot of some of the faces and voices of the community here at ProBlogger.

To this point we’ve had 30 blog tip videos submitted and over the next few days I’m going to feature them (10 at a time) here on ProBlogger (update, read the next two days posts here and here).

Before I get to them – a HUGE thanks to those who submitted these videos. There are some great tips in them and it is great to see such a variety of techniques and creativity used in the production of the videos (I also found it really inspiring to see all your faces – it’s amazing how wonderful it is to see and hear the people who read this blog in this way) – so thanks!

please click through on the links to visit the blogs of those who created these videos and if you find one that resonates with you please share the video with your own network.

by Nate Riggs

by Julie Weishaar

by Eric Dobson

by Susan

by Brett

by Ciprian Rusen

by Paul Cunningham

by Greg Friese

by Nick Stewart

by David