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10 Blogging Myths You Must Ignore

This guest post is by Onibalusi Bamidele.

I’ve been blogging for almost a year now, and like every other new blogger, I spend a large percentage of my time reading other blogs. While there are some great blogs out there, I have also read blogs that are otherwise. Most of these blogs are misleading and some helped contribute to a delay in my blog’s success. I also discovered that most of these blogs are owned by those who have no experience building a successful blog—they’re either blogging just for the money, or they’re simply copycats.

There are many blogging myths that, if followed, will lead to the death of a new blog. Many new bloggers read and follow these rules religiously because they heard it from someone they respected, but the end result is that they quit out of frustration—the frustration of not getting results from their efforts.

From building a successful blog and observing other successful bloggers, I have realized how dangerous and deceitful these myths can be, so I’ve decided to bust them in this article. Some of these myths will be shocking, and some will spark debate, but they represent what I’ve learned from experience.

Myth #1: Content is king

How can this be a myth? I knew it’d surprise you, but the majority of bloggers have been made to believe it. Yet highly successful blogger and copywriter, Brian Clark, says himself that a word has no life of its own if it is not read. It doesn’t matter how great your content is: you need people to read and share it. The truth is that even if people share your content, or a post on your blog goes viral, you still need a community to give it a lasting boost.

Through the emails I get, I’ve been able to discover lots of awesome content on my readers’ blogs. That same content might have gone viral if it were published on mine, since I have a stronger audience. But they don’t, and no matter how great their content is, it still can’t go viral, or bring them success, if they have no audience.

Many new bloggers spend the whole of their time crafting great content, based on the “content is king” myth), yet they can’t achieve anything, why? Content is not king!

Myth # 2: Marketing is king

I know I’m not the only one who disagrees with the myth that content is king. Yet many who doubt that content is king argue that marketing is king. It’s not. You can’t market nothing, and no matter the type of marketing you use, if you have a mediocre blog, you will end up with little in the way of results.

I once wrote a guest post that sent me over 1000 visitors in a day (before I wrote the guest post, I was averaging 150 visitors a day). But after two days of attracting those 1000+ visitors, my blog returned to the 150 visitors a day average. I was of course disappointed. But I realized that the traffic had fallen because I didn’t have solid content to back up that initial guest post, and sustain those traffic levels.

It doesn’t matter what your marketing budget is: if you don’t have solid content, it will end up being wasted. So marketing is not king.

So if content is not king, and marketing is not king, what is king? You might not expect this answer, but I believe the blogger is king. The blogger should be able to strike the right balance between content and marketing—this is the only path to true success.

Myth #3: SEO is bowing to social media, so neglect SEO and focus on social media

While Stumbleupon or Digg can send you 1 million visitors in one day, have you ever sat down to think about the value of those visitors?

Online success has nothing to do with the quantity of traffic you receive—what matters is its quality. While a social media site can send you several thousands of visitors in one day, the same number of visitors from a search engine may be far more effective. I discovered Problogger from Google, and I discovered Copyblogger from Google, but I can’t remember a blog I discovered it from a social media site, and now read loyally.

Also consider that more traffic from search engines can lead to greater social media success. I wrote a post on success quotes weeks ago, but I got little to no social media traffic to it. I spent a few days doing some SEO for it, which generated more search engine traffic, and that lead to thousands of visits from Stumbleupon thereafter.

In a nutshell, social media traffic hardly leads to more search engine traffic, but more search engine traffic leads to more social media traffic. After all, more visitors means there are more people sharing your content (social media), but more visitors won’t lead to an increase in your search engine rankings (more backlinks do this).

Myth #4: Social media is useless

I have heard this myth more than once. Most of the bloggers who promote this myth are bloggers who rely on search traffic.

While I said earlier that SEO does not trump social media, Im not trying to rule out the importance of social media. There are a lot of bloggers who started with nothing, but have been able to take their blogs to celebrity status using social media sites. Things are becoming better with the advent of Twitter and others—what matters most is not social media traffic, but how it’s being used.

You shouldn’t just focus on gaining more social media traffic; rather, focus on converting the traffic you do attract into repeat readers who will yield more dividends for you in the long run. Social media is the future of the web. A good blogger will not put all his or her eggs in one basket—we have to adapt to these kinds of changes and make them work for us.

Myth #5: More traffic = more money

This is probably the greatest myth of all. If it takes Darren 100 visitors to make $1000, it will take me far more than that number of visitors to make the same amount.

A lot of factors come into play when it comes to getting the best from your traffic and one of the most important is the authority and reputation of the blogger. If people see you as a mediocre blogger, attracting more traffic won’t make much of a difference, but if people see you as an authority blogger, you get a bigger bottom-line impact from every new visitor you capture.

I know some bloggers whos sites have less traffic than mine, but have several times the number of subscribers I have. What matters most is not the sheer number of visitors, but your relationship with them.

Myth #6: Not responding to comments means you don’t respect your readers

I have always wanted to be a successful blogger, but I never knew it could be a burden. With countless emails unattended to, and comments awaiting my reply, developing quality content starts to become a burden. Replying to comments doesn’t generate traffic: quality content does!

One of the best decisions I’ve made in my blogging career was to make sure I only reply to comments that really need a reply—after all, my content is what my readers want. This decision sparked a lot of debate. Some of my readers stopped commenting and one of them even went to the extent of ranting over my decision.

Yet, months later, the average time people spend reading my posts has increased from 2 minutes to more than 7 minutes.

Don’t waste your time doing things that are not necessary because people think it is a must. Rather, spend your time on what matters: developing great content that will keep your readers coming back. If you always strive to give your best, your “true” readers will stick with you, and invite their friends. But if all you can manage is to write sloppy, slap-dash posts, even those commenters you’re always replying to will eventually stop reading your blog.

Myth #7: Longer posts bring more traffic

I have been a victim of this myth not once or twice, but several times. I have observed some successful bloggers who write longer posts and this led me to write single posts as long as 5,000 words. Even though I fell for this myth, I was fortunate to learn an invaluable lesson in the process: your best post is what comes freely from your mind, nothing else. It doesn’t matter whether a post is short or long: its success has nothing to do with its length. What matters most is the uniqueness and consistency of the blogger.

A good example of someone who has great success with short posts is Seth Godin. Seth can write successful posts as short as 100 words. Someone who has great success with longer posts is Glen Allsop. Glen rarely writes posts less than 2,000 words, yet all his posts go viral and bring the desired result.

From these examples we can see clearly that what matters most is finding your voice. If you do better with short posts then stick to it; if you have more success with longer posts, don’t look back!

Myth #8: Selling ad space is the best way to monetize a blog

Another blogging myth that dominates the blogosphere is the belief that selling ad space is the best way to monetize a blog. In fact, I think selling ad space is one of the poorest ways to monetize a blog.

The problem is that many people are only blogging for the money—they are not ready to focus on building a true community with which they can later turn their blog to a business. You won’t make any real money from your blog until you have a community, so, instead of spending your time on ads that don’t work, focus on building a community. Once that community is there, you won’t find it difficult to make money blogging.

I’m not trying to rule out the possibility of making money from online ads—in fact, there are several successful bloggers (like Darren) who are making thousands of dollars from selling ad space every month. But the reality is, Darren has several hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors to his blog and unless you have visitor levels like that, you shouldn’t expect to make a solid income from selling ad space.

Myth #9: The best way to get traffic is by implementing as many tactics as you can

While there is nothing bad in learning and trying many traffic generation tactics, you should also remember that the greatest traffic-generation secret is to master that which you know.

I regularly hear people advise learning various traffic generation tactics. I’ve tried several tactics, such as blog commenting, guest blogging, forum posting and other methods, but only guest blogging seems to be working for me, and the moment I dropped other methods and started focusing on guest blogging I began to get incredible results.

If you’re a new blogger, try to start with three or four tactics. Observe which one works best for you and stick to it. Drop other tactics: they won’t take you far.

Myth #10: The key to blogging success is getting backlinks from an A-list blogger

It doesn’t matter if you’re expecting a link from an A-list blogger or a major media site: your success shouldn’t rely on any one person other than yourself.

Recently, I was reading a blog post by Brian Clark in which he said he didn’t get links from any A-list bloggers before his blog became a success. Stop waiting for the golden bullet (or link): don’t let your success depend on anyone but you! The key to blogging success lies with you, it lies in you giving your best and being consistent with it.

What blogging myths can you bust? What hasn’t—or has—worked for you?

Onibalusi Bamidele is a 16-year-old entrepreneur and founder of young entrepreneur blog, YoungPrePro, who writes practical tips to help you succeed online. Subscribe to his blog for more from him and get his guest blogging guide for practical tips on getting success from guest blogging.

5 Tips for Creating a Truly Valuable Tutorial

The notions of pillar and evergreen content aren’t exactly news to bloggers—we know that’s where we have some of our best shots of nurturing rapport and loyalty, and building repeat readership. It follows, then, that we should hone our pillar-content-writing skills.

Today I wanted to look at a key type of pillar content: tutorials. Many blogs post tutorial content in some form or other, even if it’s not labeled as such. We recently published a tutorial on Facebook albums here at ProBlogger, and if your blog is one that gives advice, you’ve probably penned a tutorial or two in your time.

The next time you’re writing a tute, apply these tips and see if they make a difference to the quality and value of your pillar content.

1. Set the tutorial’s deliverables.

Setting the tutorial’s deliverables isn’t about working out what you want to say: it’s about working out what your audience wants to know. So you think a tutorial on pruning basics will be good pillar content for your gardening blog? Great. Your starting point should be your readers: what do they know about pruning? What types of plants are they pruning? Do they have any experience with pruning? What kinds of content will help them: diagrams, videos, or descriptions?

Approach your tutorial from the perspective of your blog’s users and you’ll be able to easily—and accurately—identify what the tutorial’s deliverables should be. For example, you might focus this tutorial on fruit-tree pruning for novices—people who have never pruned a fruit tree in their lives. Your deliverables, or goals, are that by the end of the tute, your readers feel confident to go outside and prune a fruit tree in their garden. They’ll know what tools they need, and they’ll know exactly what they need to do to prune the tree for maximum productivity next season.

2. Structure the content.

Next, plot out your tutorial roughly. You might start by listing the key concepts users will need to understand, and planning out a logical flow of content that introduces those concepts, then builds on them with practical application-related information.

What you’ll end up with is likely a series of steps. Make these into headings and subheadings within your tutorial. Make them numbered headings if they all have a place in the logical flow of the information, and if you like, attach a word like “step” or “stage” or task” to each one. Make your subheadings as prescriptive and unambiguous as possible, and create for each a statement that indicates clearly what information will fall in each section. For our pruning tutorial, the first heading might be, “Step 1: Prepare Your Pruning Tools.”

Also consider the types of content you’ll use to communicate with your users. You might use images to illustrate some points, and videos to show others. Identify where you’ll need specific information types at this point, before you begin writing, since this is probably the time when you’re at your most objective about what methods of presentation will work best for your tutorial’s audience—and make your pillar content truly invaluable.

3. Use word flags consistently.

Every topic has its own language. Sometimes, that language can degenerate into jargon, but it’s fair to say that if you’re teaching readers something through a tutorial, there’s probably some topic-specific language they’ll need to understand. For the pruning tute, that language might include words like:

  • secateurs, saw, shears
  • bud, spur, leader
  • challis, cordon
  • espalier, train, pleach

As you write the tutorial, be prepared to introduce each term as you need to within the logical flow of information you planned. You might decide to italicize the first instance of each word, then provide its definition immediately afterward. Do this consistently, and your readers will understand that every time they see an italicized term, it’s something they need to learn. They’ll also know to expect a definition. The italics will make it easy for them to find the definition again if they forget it later in the tutorial; the definitions must be provided consistently to make your italicizing worthwhile, and your tutorial clear.

This way, your topic-specific terms become word flags for readers: once they read your definition of pleaching, and understand what that is, they’ll more quickly comprehend the information in your tutorial—and the rest of your blog—that builds on this concept. So don’t go interchanging the word “pleaching” with “training” or “shaping”. That negates the value of your word flags, and undermines the comprehensibility of the content itself. Once you’ve explained a topic-specific term, use it accurately and consistently everywhere.

4. Explain images and downloads.

When you planned the tutorial, you worked out the places where different types of content might best be used to make particular points. For example, a picture of secateurs will probably communicate more clearly to our would-be pruning buffs than would a wordy description of the tool.

Whenever you include a type of content that’s different from the primary content type your tutorial employs, explain it clearly. Don’t include images, sound files, PDFs, or other downloads without explanation—and make those explanations detailed and as clear as you can. If this kind of extra information creates confusion, you’ll lose those very readers you’re trying to help.

5. Show how you delivered on your promises.

Remember the old essay-writing advice: tell them what you’ll say, say it, then tell them what you said? That advice applies very strongly to tutorials. Your tute’s subheadings clearly identified what users would learn in each section of the content. Its introduction should set out exactly what the user will learn from the tutorial, and its conclusion should show how the tutorial delivered on those promises.

Your introduction might explain what readers will learn—what need the information addresses or problem it solves—in broad terms, seeing as they may not have the necessary topic-specific language to get into detail just yet.

The ideal conclusion goes much further, though: it reiterates the actual flow of the information you presented and shows how that addresses the need or problem you identified in the tutorial’s introduction. It basically explains to the reader how your tutorial solves their problem—and justifies for them the reasons why this pillar content is valuable, and worth bookmarking, sharing, commenting on, and favoriting.

I think these are the basic prerequisites of a great tutorial. What others can you add?

How Boring Is Your Blog?

This guest post is by Julien Smith of inoveryourhead.net

Are you repeating the same things every other blogger is saying? Are your valuable visitors turning away as soon as they see what you have to offer? Is your blog great, or is it boring?

How would you know?

Very few blogs turn you away with their design. You may have a custom theme or you may have something you just plopped on there for free. But what matters is getting people with your words and your ideas. Are they any good? Only an outside force can tell you.

Boring by numbers

If your blog is boring, your numbers will tell you. Google Analytics has a bounce rate, will teach you which posts keep readers around longer. What matters is not where your bounce rate is right now (it could even be in the 90% range), but that you work constantly to bring it down.

Test different titles. Put videos or images at the beginning of the posts to see if people stick around more. Try anything, but assume nothing about your visitors! If your blog is boring, then obviously, you can’t trust yourself to know what works. Trust the numbers instead, experiment a lot, and see what brings them down.

Another way to tell is looking at your subscriber numbers—are RSS and email subscribers slowing down, or stopping entirely? Your content is your entry point, and people won’t subscribe if they don’t believe more great stuff is coming.

If this happens, your blog is probably boring. Sorry.

Boring by consensus

You can’t tell boring by yourself, but you can’t tell good, either. Thankfully, this is the Internet. We have access to others, and we can bounce ideas off of them. Use that to its full advantage! Your network is an asset, and if your blog is boring, the network will tell you. But you have to see the signals, not ignore them. You’ll never hear it straight.

Your regular commenters will dwindle and maybe disappear. They won’t tweet your stuff out as much. Traffic will stall while you continue to work just as hard.

Absence of activity is implicit consensus, too. If nobody wants to buy a house on a certain street, or go to a certain restaurant, that’s telling you something. Are you getting traffic, but no comments? If comments appear only certain posts, maybe you need more of that type. But watch the signals, they will tell you.

If there’s less and less activity around your blog, it might be getting boring.

Fixing the boring blog

1. Admit you can’t see the problem.

Both your network and your numbers will give you an idea of what’s going on, but you might not be able to see it yourself. You’ll probably keep chugging away, thinking you’ll eventually hit the tipping point.

But this is wrong. You are spinning your wheels and getting no traction.

Last weekend, I created a website called Shut Up and Get to Work. In its first day, it got 200,000 pageviews, and now it’s close to a half million. This proved to me that you don’t need a big network or a huge audience to get things rolling—you only need a good idea. And you probably have good ideas, so what it’s really about is the hurdles between them and their execution. But you can never see that clearly.

2. Break your patterns. Often.

Is the problem your delivery? It’s possible. Is the content itself just not new enough?

These questions go beyond boring. There are several problems with content that we can solve just by looking at what we do from another point of view.

Try writing as if you’re someone else. Use another style. Emulate a blogging style that you admire for a while and see if it works. Or, take another blogger’s style and parody it.

No matter how successful you are, you probably have bad habits. It’s possible that just one of these things is cutting into your momentum. Find out what it is by changing, maybe even dramatically.

3. Push your work closer to the edge.

You may sound the same as everyone else because you’re not taking any risks. Blogs need a strong editorial voice to compete—something that cuts through the din of similar-sounding talking heads. Maybe you’re not doing that.

What is it going to take? Is it a better, more compelling story (as Chris Guillebeau would say)? Is it a different voice? Think of what your friends like about you—are you portraying that in your writing?

Stop being mediocre with your writing. Maybe even offend people a little. Polarizing opinions get heard when much of the rest does not.

4. Start now, and put in the work.

The biggest hurdle to all of this is that you think it doesn’t apply to you, and that you’re doing fine. If you don’t take this advice today (or you think it doesn’t apply to you), it may be months before you figure it out yourself. Do you really want that to happen? Make the hard decisions today, put in the hours, and you’ll come out stronger.

Do it now. Your audience deserves it.

Julien Smith is the co-author of the bestselling book, Trust Agents. He normally blogs over here, and it’s pretty awesome, so you should take a look.

The 5 Critical Errors Most People Make When they Start Using Social Media for Business

For most businesses, participating in social media is unchartered territory. When there are no examples to follow, the only way to learn is to experiment. Over the last 18 months, I’ve been observing what’s worked and, more importantly, what hasn’t.

Here are the top five ways a business can alienate people and waste time using social media.

1. Use social media as a broadcast medium

The beauty of social media is that they permit a two-way conversation. They lets us communicate with individuals in a way that mass media cannot. Participating on social media is not the same as booking an ad space—don’t treat it that way.

For the first time in history, individuals have their own voice and platform and they’re not afraid to use the power that comes along with it. Use your platform to communicate with individuals and build community. It’s not only the “new” way to do things—it’s fast becoming the only way you should operate online.

2. Sound like a robot

When someone is considering following you or liking your page, they’ll check out your profile and what you’ve said first. If it’s repetitive, self promoting or sounds like an automated feed, people won’t feel a connection to you, and they won’t want to connect with you.

The increase in spam bots that are infiltrating social networks means that people are becoming more cautious. You need to use a human voice (more casual than corporate) if you want people to connect with you.

3. Only focus on work topics or yourself

Sometimes I feel like people forget about the social part of social media. It’s important to think about what interests your audience members have in common, and talk about them. For example, I know that my audience are women in business (or women who want to be), but they also have a universal love of design, travel, and organization.

Know what current affairs, movies, TV shows, music, magazines and other cultural activities your readers have in common. Ask their opinions about them. Start conversations.

Not sure what they’re into? One way to find out more about their general interests (outside your blog) is to look at profiles of people who follow you. Check out their blogs, and see what they’re talking about and linking to. Talk about what they like. You’ll find that if one person in your audience is into something, there are bound to be others who are too.

4. Grow your network too quickly

This one is self-explanatory, and relates to Twitter specifically. If you’re following 500 people and you have 46 followers, you’re trying to grow your network too quickly and you’re wasting your time.

Cull your numbers. Focus on connecting with the people who are following you first and then gradually add to your network.

5. Don’t start conversations

This is such a common pitfall. You start up an account and wait for people to start talking to you. No one does, so you give up and think, “this social media stuff is a waste of time.”

Don’t wait for people to come to you. Start conversations and dip in on conversations that you can contribute something useful to. Share a link and ask a question about it.

What are the things holding you back from understanding social media? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

ProBlogger the Book: 44% Off Today at Amazon

ProBlogger-book.jpgIf you’ve been putting off buying ProBlogger the Book (the ‘real’ paper one) that I wrote with Chris Garrett – today’s the day to pick one up at Amazon.

Normally retailing for $24.99 today they have it at 44% off – just $14.04. They often have had it at 30% off so this is the lowest I’ve seen it go.

I’ve no idea how long it’ll last at this price – so whether it’s for you to help you ramp up your blog in the new year or whether it’s a stocking stuffer or Kris Kringle gift for a friend or family member – grab your copy today.

PS: this is the 2nd edition of this book and it’s also available for Kindle as well as as an Audio version.

October and November Earnings Breakdown

Over the last few months I’ve been showing breakdowns of my earnings in an attempt to give some insight into the diversity of income streams available to bloggers, as well as showing how earnings can vary from month to month. Earnings come from my work on a number of sites including ProBlogger and Digital Photography School.

Following are the breakdowns for October and November.
Screen shot 2010-12-10 at 2.19.58 PM.png Screen shot 2010-12-10 at 2.20.09 PM.png

The split changes a little from month to month based upon a variety of factors. For example, in October, affiliate income went up by quite a margin as I did a couple of larger promotions on my photography blog. In November, ebook sales rose quite well because I did a promotion with affiliates on the ProBlogger ebooks. Similarly, Amazon affiliate income and AdSense have both increased in the last couple of months, as tends to happen when we move towards the holidays.

To get a sense of how the revenues have tracked over the last few months, here’s a different visualization that shows how each area has performed (click for a larger picture).

Screen shot 2010-12-10 at 2.22.03 PM.png

Now that we have seven months of data, I hope that it’s clear how things can vary from month to month depending upon the season, special events, and promotions that you might run.

Looking forward, I’m predicting December to be quite a good month in terms of AdSense and Amazon, thanks to holiday shopping. I’m also running a fairly larger promotion in December on dPS with some affiliate pushes, so I’m hoping that that income stream will spike quite a bit also.

Looking further ahead, I’m hoping to see the red ebook line increase with some good spikes in the new year, as I have several ebooks currently in different stages of production for dPS.

Will You Build or Buy Your New Blog?

This guest post is by Andrew Knibbe of Flippa.

When most of us think of blogging, we think about starting from the ground up. Having researched a niche, we search for a good domain, choose a blogging platform, apply a template, and prepare our first post…

But there are other options for the beginning blogger. One of the least talked about, and most often overlooked, is to buy an existing blog.

This post isn’t intended as a prescriptive how-to: what I’d like to do is introduce the idea of buying a blog, and talk about the key considerations that bloggers and would-be bloggers might address before they go down this path.

Why buy a blog?

There are plenty of reasons why you’d consider buying an existing blog:

  • it will already have been populated with content
  • if it’s a known blog with valuable information, it’ll have attracted backlinks, and should have search engine presence
  • it may come with a ready-made audience—hopefully, a loyal one
  • it may have a great domain name and/or a strong unique brand
  • it may already be generating an income
  • it’s all set up: rather than starting from scratch, you can simply tweak or amend the blog’s layout and design to suit your needs.

The thing to realize about buying a blog is that you’re unlikely to find a blog that perfectly suits all your needs from the get-go. The blogs you consider probably won’t offer you all of the benefits listed above, and they may offer these advantages to varying degrees.

In short: buying a blog isn’t an instant solution for those who want to start a blog, but if you choose the blog well, it can offer a number of advantages over starting a new blog from scratch.

Blog-buying pitfalls

Like any market, the blog property market has a range of pitfalls for the beginner, and buying a new blog as a way to get a head-start on a new blogging niche isn’t for everyone.

Obviously the great appeal of building your own blog from the ground-up is that it costs you nothing but time. Buying a blog, on the other hand, costs money.

The paradox here is, of course, that your time is money. If you can afford to buy a blog, you may reduce the time it takes you to reach a point where you’ve attracted a loyal readership—you may be able to monetize your blog much sooner than you would if you were starting your won blog. Basically, if you buy a good blog, you can minimize the leg-work, and fast-track your operation.

You will need some kind of budget to buy a blog. You’ll also need to feel comfortable that the blog you’re buying lives up to the seller’s description of it.

The person who owns the blog may mis-represent any of the information they give you about the blog, from its age and search rank, to its traffic levels and profit potential. You want to be able to trust the person you’re buying the blog from, and that you believe the information they’re giving you—including the reason why they’re selling.

Bloggers may sell a blog that they’ve lost interest in, or a blog that doesn’t align well with their future goals or direction. Perhaps other offline interests—family, work, and so on—have left them with no time to maintain their blog. Or perhaps they underestimated the time it takes to build it up a blog, and now they want to offload what they see as a burden to someone with a real passion for the niche.

Each of these reasons has different implications for you as a buyer, and for the blog you’re buying, so it’s important to get as many facts as you can.

Buying a blog doesn’t just take money: it takes research and care. You’re making an investment in your future by buying a blog, so you want to ensure that the choices you make are well-informed and wise.

Who should buy a blog?

Buying a blog may have greater appeal for those who have some experience in blogging, and know that they have the stamina and dedication to build the blog they buy into something amazing.

If you’ve never blogged before, you may find yourself unable to sustain blogging over a period of time, and that’s ad additional risk you’ll need to take into account if you’re investing money in a blog.

That said, blogs can be purchased for very reasonable prices in online marketplaces, though the less expensive options are unlikely to have established audiences or much unique content. If that’s the kind of thing you want to focus your attention on (rather than choosing blog templates, functionality, and so on), then paying a couple of hundred dollars for a fledgling blog with a good domain mightn’t be a bad idea.

Buying a blog may seem most logical for those who are looking to monetize their site itself, but bloggers who want to establish their credentials and authority in a particular field, engage with a certain audience, or develop their offline earnings potential with the support of good online representation may also consider buying a blog.

What you’re really looking for when you spend money on a blog is an opportunity. More experienced bloggers may be able to spot opportunities more easily, but that doesn’t mean beginning bloggers can’t see, or make the most of, opportunities themselves. Imagine if ProBlogger was up for sale—what would you change to make it better or more profitable? A site that’s underdeveloped has potential to be better.

If you can spot that potential—perhaps the site could do with some keyword optimization, regular well-written posts, and some promotion through social media as well as more niche networks—you might be able to take the good foundations that someone else has put in place and build on them to make something great.

Have you ever bought a blog? Have you considered it? What are your feelings about buying a blog?

Andrew Knibbe is the Marketing Manager at Flippa, the #1 marketplace for buying and selling websites. He blogs at the Flippa blog. Follow him @flippa.

Use Photos to Stand Out in the Facebook News Feed

This guest post is by Tommy Walker, Online Marketing Strategist and owner of Tommy.ismy.name.

A picture is worth a thousand words, right? This old cliché has become especially true in blogging. It’s statistically proven that by inserting compelling photographs into your blog posts, you’re able to better retain your reader’s attention.

So what if photos are also exactly what you need to stand out on the world’s most popular social network?

On Facebook, Photos are the most used features of the site (after status updates of course). You may have already known that, but did you also know that Facebook is one of the most used photo sharing platforms on the entire Internet?

So how can we tap into the power of Facebook Photos to separate your Page from the rest of the noise on Facebook?

If you’ve been using Facebook ads to perform inception on your blog, you’ll have a good idea of the psychographic profile of your readers. We can use this information to create (or find) compelling images that will resonate with your audience.

Let’s imagine I run a blog about creating Hollywood movie props on an indie movie budget. Normally I build simple props that are pretty general, like ray guns, or jet packs. But lately I’ve been running Facebook ads and I’ve learned from the Responder Profile report that the majority of the people who clicked on my ad have listed “Iron Man” as a favorite movie in their profile.

Knowing this, I create a tutorial for my blog that gives instructions on how to make an Iron Man mask.

To really draw attention to this step-by-step tutorial and stand out in my fans’ news feeds only requires a little extra thought and attention to detail. Just a little more work, and I get a result that looks something like this:

Now let’s break down what I did here, so you can create results like this, too.

Step 1: Breaking up the image

Take the main image that you would like to show up in the News Feed and break it up into two or three parts using a photo editor. For the Iron Man album, I broke one photo up into two separate images, with each image highlighting a different element of the build.

The original image looks like this:

To break it up, I simply opened the image in Gimp (although you could use Photoshop or even Paint!) and selected the Battery and Arc Reactor. Then I copied and pasted it into its own image file, and did the same for the mask.

I then very quickly created the album cover by typing “Become” over the Iron Man logo, and saved that as its own image file> I then saved everything to its own folder on my desktop.

Here are two quick notes about album covers. Firstly, selecting the right image is important for two reasons:

  1. The album cover is the first thing people see when someone clicks on the Photos tab on your page. By default, Facebook also displays the two most recent photo albums on the left-hand sidebar underneath the list of people who like your page. When they visit a page, it’s only natural for people to check out the number of people who like that page — for social proof. Take advantage of this curiosity by creating an eye-catching album cover. Even with a small number of likes, you’ll appear to be ahead of the game, as this is valuable real estate that most pages simply aren’t taking advantage of.
  2. The album cover will always appear in the furthest left-hand corner when you publish an album to the news feed. Selecting the wrong image for the album cover can make the entire update completely pointless. take a look at the images below. By default, the photo titled “Step 5″ would be the album cover here, but it’s not a great image. To have the most impact on the News Feed, you’d want to make sure that the album cover shows the image titled “Step 10.” We’ll talk about this more in the next section.

Step 2: Selecting the album cover and organizing your photos

Go to the Photos tab on your Business Page and click on Create a Photo Album.

A dialog box will appear, giving you instructions on uploading your photos.

Click Select Photos and choose the photos you would like to be included in the album.

Click Open once you’ve selected all of the photos for your album. The photos will begin to be uploaded to the album. By default, the album is named with the date and time that you’re uploading the photos. Change the name to reflect the contents of the album. Also, check the High Resolution button (just because you can!).

Once the photos have finished uploading, click Create Album.

From here, select the image you want to use for the cover of your album. Also feel free to add descriptions to your pictures. If it makes sense, insert links to relevant pages within your blog (this will depend on the content of your album).

Once you’re satisfied with your Photo descriptions, click Save Changes. A dialog box will appear prompting you to Publish or Skip.

Do not click publish!

Click Skip. You will be brought to the album and all of the images will appear in the order in which they were uploaded. This isn’t always ideal if you’re really looking to stand out in the news feed.

It is vital to note the arrangement of the photos in the album, as it will determine their order in the news feed.

As I said earlier, Facebook automatically puts the album cover as the far left image of the three in the album preview in the news feed—regardless of how the images are arranged in the album. Facebook then takes the two images after the photo that’s designated as the cover, and assigns them as the middle and far-right images in the news feed.

So if the photos are arranged like this in the album:

They will look like this in the news feed:

To achieve this landscape effect in the news feed, simply drag the two images that are meant to follow the album cover in the order in which you’d like them to appear in the news feed.

Then, your album will look like this:

And the feed will look like this:

Once you have your photos arranged the way you’d like them to appear in the news feed, all you have left to do is create an album description and publish the album.

Step 3: Entering your album’s description

Underneath your photos, you’ll see an Add a Caption link. Click it to open the popup where you can describe your album and include any external links.

Facebook will allow a total of 320 characters (including spaces) in your album description before it hides the content and adds a See More link to the end of your description.

Keep your descriptions around one to two lines, and always put a line break between your description and link so that the content appears cleanly in the news feed.

After you’ve clicked Save, click Edit Album Info to see the Album Description page. Click the Edit Photos tab on the top right of the gray box. Then, click Publish Now.

And there you have it! Your album will have a good chance of standing out in the otherwise really crowded news feed!

What’s that you say? You don’t make props? There are all sorts of other creative ways to use Facebook Photos to promote your business. What are some ways you’ve used this tool? Are there other Facebook Photo ideas you can share?

Tommy is an Online Marketing Strategist and owner of Tommy.ismy.name. He is about to release Hack The Social Network, the ultimate guide to Facebook Marketing, and is currently developing a “mind hacking” course.

How to Write a Press Release that Gets Attention

This guest post is by Frank Strong of PRWeb.

Writing good content for a blog is only half of the equation: promoting your blog to drive traffic is the other half.

Previously we offered five reasons to promote your blog with press releases as part of an overall content marketing strategy. This post provides a few tips on how to write a press release for maximum media exposure.

1. Create compelling headlines.

Should you use a sexy headline that attracts eyeballs or a headline stuffed with keywords for search? We’ve always found that people read content, not search engines, so while it’s important to include keywords in your headline where possible, only use them when they make sense in context.

Just like the subject line of an email invites a recipient to open a message, headlines should compel a reader to consume your content.

2. Draw the reader in with the lead.

The first sentence of the body—the lead—should compel the viewer to keep reading (think: time-on-page). Traditional PR pros will tell you to write using an inverted pyramid, where the content flows top down and the first paragraph explains the five Ws: the who, what, when, where and why.

There’s nothing wrong with that, however, we think the use of press releases has evolved, where they once were primarily used to provide a news hook to the media in order to reach an audience, they now can also reach that audience directly.

As such, in some cases, the press release is the story and the better performing releases (in terms of page reads) we’ve seen read like the story—complete with a powerful lead.

3. Use anchor text links.

It’s a fundamental, but often overlooked, point: anchor text links are pivotal! Be sure to hyperlink your keywords to pages on your blog that are optimized for the same key words.

This ensures that when press release syndication network distributes the content, your keywords are still hyperlinked to the content you’re promoting. Once again, people read content, so ensure that the keywords make sense in the structure and flow of your copy.

4. Include a powerful call to action.

You’ve written a release with compelling headlines and copy that drew the reader in. Now, what action would you like people to take? Invite them to take that action. For many blogs, this would be to visit the blog, subscribe via RSS, or sign up for email alerts on new posts.

5. Choose a strong press release topic.

Stuck for press release ideas? We have a list of hot topics for press releases. When you’re coming up with an idea, the trick is to think like a PR pro—what about your blog, personal life, or business could you see being picked up by the mainstream media? What is the “remarkable” story you have to share?

While those are big-ticket themes, a more tactical approach would be to publish a release about your most popular posts—the top ten of the year, or the five most read every quarter (or month if you’re a prolific blogger). Your release content should focus on the trend. For example, why are readers consuming those specific posts?

For further reading on creating great press releases, try:

Have you used a press release to promote your post? What tips can you add to this list?

Frank Strong is director of public relations for PRWeb.