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A Journalist’s Approach to Blogging

This guest post is by Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views

Journalists and bloggers are doing double duty these days. With massive layoffs and fewer staff, many are publishing press releases word-for-word. It’s been nicknamed churnalism. It’s when we get a little sloppy and use press releases as our own words.

As a freelance journalist and blogger who covers pets and wildlife, I get the same press releases as other pet and wildlife bloggers. I’ve often seen the same press release appear on different pet blogs. What’s wrong with this is that it doesn’t set our blogs apart, and what’s worse is that press releases always praise a product, person, or company. The press release on the dog-friendly hotel never talks about size and weight restrictions for dogs. (Some hotels only welcome small and medium sized dogs.) Or the release about cat food fails to talk about a recent recall. Usually press releases are one sided—and that point of view doesn’t tell the whole story.

A while back, I received a press release about a new organic human grade dog food created by a husband and wife team. The wife was feeding her husband dog food for one month to launch the product and they were raising money to fight canine cancer. I didn’t want to run their press release verbatim, so I called up the wife and started asking questions. I found out that they were also going to serve the food at a local upscale restaurant, and that the chef was pairing their dog food with different wines. I got a fun blog post from that interview, and my story was different from the others who ran the press release.

An easy out

A colleague of mine is working with a company that has 11 web sites. He complains that 80 percent of the copy on each of them use recycled press releases. He writes more than a dozen stories a week—many where copy gets pulled from press releases.

Public relations people love it when you run their press releases word-for-word. Unfortunately, you are not serving your readers.

As a freelance journalist and blogger, I have written hard news stories, features, and have gone over to the other side (public relations) to write press releases. The money over there is better. And as a journalist, I like getting press releases. Many fuel ideas for future stories. I do hold the line on printing press releases word-for-word. As a blogger, I cover animal welfare, pet care and people who work with and on behalf of animals. Pet and wildlife bloggers are a growing niche. There are thousands of us, and the same can be said of other niche blogs.

How to use a press release

If the press release seems like it would make an interesting post, look for a different angle. I may call or email the contact on the press release with questions.

Depending on the story, I may contact other experts to broaden the scope of the post. I just wrote a story that started from a press release about the negative effects the TNR (Trap Neuter Return) policy has on the environment. The Wildlife Society is against TNR programs. I’ve been hearing about this for a long while—and not just from The Wildlife Society. Veterinarians, wildlife professionals, and many birders deeply dislike feral cats.

To tell you the truth, I didn’t want to cover this point of view. I love all animals, and cats are at the top of my list. Still, I thought I should explore this fairly. I contacted The Wildlife Society and got quotes on why they are against TNR. Since this is a blog, I told my readers my side of the story. And because I love cats so much and disagree with The Wildlife Society’s point of view, I ran a follow up—this time with quotes and data from Best Friends Animal Society and Alley Cat Allies supporting TNR.

Thinking like a journalist and blogger

As a journalist, I need to present well balanced stories. Since it’s a blog, my opinions are often evident. Still, I think it is essential to get the entire picture. So, I email contacts and call them too. I usually start out by coming up with a list of questions. That has always been easy for me; maybe because I can be nosey.

If you have trouble doing this, go online and read other stories. Check out your favorite blogs and see if you can come up with a different angle on a story that you have enjoyed reading. Then ask yourself questions about the story. Is there more information that you would like to read? What questions are forming in your mind? Write them down.

Use the press releases; just don’t run them word-for word. Write your list of questions. If you have trouble coming up with them, talk to a colleague or friend. It’s easy to email questions to the people you interview. This way they can write down their answers and send them back to you.

At the end of all of my interviews, I always ask, “Is there anything we didn’t cover that you want to mention?” This is a good way to make sure you are not missing anything important.

I also like the person-to-person interview. When you are talking to someone, other thoughts and comments come up. This always leads to more information that is not covered in a press release. Personal interviews also build stronger connections. Many of the folks I’ve interviewed read, subscribe and comment on my blog.

Have you used press releases to create blog posts? How did you do it? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Michele C. Hollow is a journalist who writes the blog Pet News and Views. Her blog covers animal welfare, pet care, and profiles people who work with and on behalf of animals. She is also the author of “The Everything Guide to Working with Animals.”

A One Month Guide to Money Blogging

This guest post is by Chris The Traffic Blogger.

A desperate reader of mine recently asked how she could make the most amount of money her first month blogging. In order to help her I decided to share with her my “secret” method.

Before I had even begun to explain the same guide I’m about to share with you, she worried that her lack of experience blogging and time to work on the project would limit her success. As I explained to her, this method doesn’t take a lot of work, it takes a lot of “smart” work. Using your time wisely to do the most good in a single month is the key to success. When I told this reader that she could make as much as $800 in her first month, well, her response was classic:

What?! $800 in my first month of blogging!?”

As I explained to her, you have to keep in mind that your mileage is going to vary when you adapt this strategy for your own endeavors. For starters, this may be the very first time you venture forth writing for any audience, let alone knowing how to write as a blogger. What took me a month could very well take you a year depending on how accomplished you are as a writer, blogger, community leader, and communicator.

Therefore, think of this guide as a grand, overarching strategy which you can attempt to slowly implement and learn from in your own blogging career.

I did make $800 my first month blogging with this strategy, but I may have just gotten lucky. I wrote the right stuff on the right forums and the right blogs at the right time. I had a blog of 187 subscribers in a single month, sold a product worth $37 to this beginning audience (I made $20 per sale) and if you do the math you’ll realize that I sold 40 of them. Possible? Yes. Plausible for your current level of experience? Maybe.

Regardless of your skill level this strategy will teach you how to think correctly when it comes to planning, building up to and executing a sales pitch online.

Week one

Well, if you’re really starting from scratch, you’ll need to create a blog. With a number of automated blogging sites out there, like blogger.com and wordpress.com, this really isn’t all that difficult.

Granted, you won’t have anything beyond a free template to start with, but you can still get a minimalistic site up and running without too much effort. I would recommend having an RSS Feed-subscribe widget, contact page, and an archive widget as a bare minimum.

Once that is complete, your next task is creating content about your subject area—enough that you will have posts for the rest of the month. I would recommend a minimum of two to three posts per week of 500 words each. Leave out the last week’s posts, however, as those will be reserved for your sales pitch.

In a single week, I definitely think that you can write six posts. All you do in this week is write posts and set up your blog, so you will most likely not have any traffic coming to your blog from these efforts.

As you write, cross-link all of your posts to each other, so that when your site does start getting traffic, both users and bots will find themselves being sent to many of your posts from any one location. As new posts go live, go back to old ones and keep cross-linking. Obviously you cannot start linking posts until they have gone live, so going back to cross-link will be a must over time. This does two things: makes robots happy and also makes your blog look much bigger than it actually is to first time readers.

So what kind of content should you focus on writing? For starters, I would recommend anything that is timely, easy to follow, and useful to your audience. Be concise (after all, you only have 500 words) but try your best to make people think when they come to your blog. Be unique, be yourself, and create enough well-thought-out content that you will make a great first impression on the people you send to your blog in this first month of writing.

The best way to make this first impression worth a return visit is to provide something no one has ever seen before. This could involve putting a new spin on old dogma in your niche, or coming up with something completely revolutionary by thinking outside the box.

Do a great job of building excellent content and you’ll have enough subscribers to feed that $800 target earnings you’re hoping for. Honestly, this takes a lot of experience in the subject area you are focusing on. You either have the knowledge and personal skill to write for an audience in your chosen niche, or you do not, and if you fall into the latter category then you need to focus on improving that before you can implement this strategy to the fullest.

Week two

Now that you have all your posts finished and they are being published on a biweekly basis, you can start focusing on more than just cross linking new and old posts together. It’s time to get traffic, and I’ll leave much of this up to you.

If you want to participate on forums, send guest posts, write comments on blogs or any other form of traffic, feel free to do so with your free time now.

Don’t advertise yourself per se, but if the opportunity arises then you can leave a link or two to helpful posts you have written on any one subject. Just do your best to engage in conversation with leaders and non-leaders alike in your particular niche. Be helpful, ask great questions, and give even better answers.

Focus all of your efforts this week on guest posting, developing a reputation in your niche, and going to where your potential audience gathers. Most of your week should be spent on places outside of your own blog in order to maximize your exposure and get your name out there. This could mean you spend an entire day in conversations on various forums in your niche, or you take the time to look up related blogs and leave constructive comments on them.

Of all the things you focus on, however, guest posting will most likely be your most effective traffic driver. For this reason alone you should be putting your largest effort into contacting fellow bloggers and writing great guest posts for them. Explore their blogs, read their comments and figure out what information you can share with their audience in order to enrich the experience that is their blog.

Week three

While continuing with cross-linking posts and building exposure for your blog, you should also look into finding a product which you can sell to your initial audience.

Realistically, you probably won’t have more than fifty followers by the end of the month, but the ones you do have will hopefully really love your work. As long as you do a good job of coming across as someone who understands your niche and loves writing, you should have no problem pitching a recommended product by the end of the month.

Your job now, in week three, is to find that product and also talk to the creator of it. What you want to ask is for some sort of interview, whether that be a Skype recording, a written interview done via email, or any other form of communication that will show your audience that the person who made this product is not only a real person but knowledgeable about their subject area as well. Get the conversation started and have the interview asap.

Be sure to communicate with your audience throughout the month, and don’t be afraid to ask for their questions and/or feedback in a post at some point. This will enable you to build a deeper connection with your initial readership as well as get conversations started on your own blog in the comments section.

Week four

At this point, you have a starter blog that is getting some traffic from whatever methods you’ve chosen and you may even have a decent number of followers. With your interview in hand, you will now want to write two posts for the end of the month that both lead into the product you hope to sell to your audience—as well as actually sell the dang thing. Here’s how you should break these two posts down.

Post 1

Write about the problem that this product can solve. Don’t solve the problem, just write about it and ask your audience for solutions. Above all, be honest. Tell them that you have a solution in hand and that you are trying it out.

Actually do this, please—do not pitch a product you can’t honestly recommend.

If the problem is something that your audience can relate to and which they want solved, then this post should be aimed at whetting their appetite. Tell them that you have found a product creator with the solution to their problems and that you are setting up an interview with that person very soon. Again, do not reveal the product just yet.

Post 2

Now show the interview, write about your personal experience with the product and ask for feedback from anyone who ends up buying it. Gather the feedback (you should get some if you ask for it) and if you have enough then I would recommend that you also write a third post for the following day. Include in this third post your audience’s reviews of the product, good and bad, and then thank those that chose to leave reviews.

That’s the whole strategy and yes, you honestly can make quite a bit of money if you master it. Really, what you’re learning is how to build a presence and sell to an audience, which is a simple marketing concept adapted to blogging online. Do you think that you could follow this strategy and be successful?

Chris is a self proclaimed expert at showing bloggers how they can get traffic, build communities, make money online and be successful. You can find out more at The Traffic Blogger.

Is Blogger Copyright Dead?

If you’re reading this blog post anywhere other than ProBlogger.net, you’re reading an illegal rip of the original.

Content scraping—by automated programs that pull entire posts from your blog for republishing elsewhere—and autoblogging—where sites regurgitate whole articles from your RSS feed on their pages—are the most common content ripping practices. They are illegal.

Any reproduction of your content without permission is illegal (attributed quotes and brief excerpts aside).

There’s no two ways about this. If you made the content, you own it, and you have the right to say where it’s published.

copyright

Image by stock.xchng user Spiders

As an old-skool content creator, I’ve been astonished at the things I’ve heard and read in recent months on this topic, particularly among the blogging community. As content creators, it’s up to us to learn, understand, and, if needed, fight for our rights—and those of others. It’s your job to protect your copyright.

There seems to be a growing sense of despondency among bloggers either overwhelmed by the amount of content ripping, or so used to seeing it that they begin to question their understanding of the concept. This post intends to set those misunderstandings straight—and, I hope, to inspire you to protect your rights, and the things you create, as you see fit. And from an informed position, rather than one in which you feel you have no option but to suck it up.

First, I want to talk about some of the objections I’ve heard to copyright enforcement lately, and give a few rebuttals. Then I’ll outline what bloggers should do if they find their rights have been infringed.

The arguments against

I have to tell you, it surprises me that there are arguments against copyright enforcement, but here are some of the ones I’m hearing.

“It means more eyeballs for my content.”

Ripping my article onto another site may mean more people see it. But so would a well-penned piece that responded to, added to, or argued against my article, and linked through to it.

Come to think of it, that kind of article would likely attract more eyeballs than a straight rip, because the second type of blogger would likely be active in marketing his or her blog, unlike most blogs that simply rip content for the sake of having something to display alongside their ads. And we all know the search engines work actively to penalize such sites anyway.

“But it’s a really big, well-known site.”

So a Fortune-500 publishing company ripped your post, and sent you a truckload of traffic yesterday? See point one above: it’s still illegal, and had they had something intelligent to say about your content, you may have received even more eyeballs, and more lasting interest from a more qualified audience.

Frankly, big sites are the last ones who should either undertake or get away with illegal content reproduction. Today, a big site. Tomorrow? Well, what if you found your hard work was ripped onto shonky looking, ad-emblazoned, overtly cheesy, poor quality website?

To say it’s okay for a big, good-looking mega-blog to rip your content, but not for below-average Joe to do so on his design-by-the-cat, ad-swamped site isn’t just hypocritical: if you let one site rip your content, you send the signal that it’s okay for everyone to do it.

“I don’t mind if my site isn’t the exclusive location for my content.”

A guest post you’ve penned specially for publication on another, carefully-chosen site is one thing. Having others reproduce your content as they see fit, without your knowledge, is another.

Often, the sites that rip content rip it relentlessly: once they find an author they think is good, they’ll simply republish everything that person writes. Maybe so far they’ve “only” ripped three of your articles. This time next year, they may have republished them all. Is that still okay with you? I know it wouldn’t be with me.

Note: If you actively want others to reproduce your content freely, that’s great—but for the sake of those who don’t want ripping to become the norm, display a Creative Commons license notification on all your posts. That way, people who read that content on other sites will have some indication that what looks like a rip is actually legal and welcome.

Ripping remedies

So someone’s ripped your post? I say: take action. Given the fact that many people online actually think this practice is legal, I encourage you to take an active role in protecting your rights, rather than (as one blogger recently said to me) “shutting up and taking it.”

Each of these steps takes no more than five minutes. You probably won’t need to complete them all—I find a concise, direct, but respectful email to the offending site’s owner usually does the trick.

  1. Contact the website, point out the rip, explain that it’s illegal, and ask them to remove the offending content within 24 hours. Explain that you’ll contact their host if the content remains online.
  2. Perform a WHOIS search and find the site’s host. Prepare to contact them and submit a DMCA takedown notice if the ripped content is not removed from the site within 24 hours.
  3. Perform a Google search for your name, or the topic of your post. If you find the offending site in the results, report it as a “duplicate site” to Google.

Don’t badmouth the offending site on your blog. Don’t make snide comments on the ripped version of your post on their blog. Write to them, and wait to see what happens. Then take the steps above. This is the most dignified path.

Is it worth the effort?

Yes. You’re a blogger. Your content is your product. Seth Godin wouldn’t let anyone reproduce his latest book online. Why? Because it’s his product. He made it, and he deserves to make a living from it. You made your content, and you deserve to reap the rewards of those efforts.

Allowing others to rip your content without your permission:

  • sends the message that bloggers have no rights around how their content is used
  • perpetuates the growing ignorance of copyright among site owners
  • devalues your blog, and your content
  • devalues blogging and online content in general
  • is a violation of your legal rights as a creator.

An alternative approach

As I mentioned earlier, if you actively want others to reuse your content, you could publish everything with a Creative Commons note, signalling that your posts are free to be reused by others.

You might consider this option if, for example, you want to have your content seen by the largest number of people possible—a mass market, rather than a niche audience. Perhaps you’re selling products exclusively through your site, and you believe that spreading your content through Creative Commons is a good way to get access to a wide audience who will come to your site, see your product, and want to buy it.

In that case, you’ll want to consider:

  • your in-article linking and promotional strategy (to get those readers over to your blog and sales page)
  • a marketing plan for promoting your quality, freely available content to appropriate potential publishers
  • the implications of the possibility of having your articles appear on some less-than-reputable sites
  • the challenges you may face in targeting the right audiences through this strategy
  • the implications for your own site’s SEO, if it’s mistaken for one that published “duplicate content.”

What do you think? Is blogger copyright dead? Does your copyright matter to you? Do you enforce it? I’d love to hear your feelings on this topic in the comments.

3 Simple Changes to Increase Your Subscribers by 50%

This guest post is by Goddess Leonie of GoddessGuidebook.com.

In blogging years, I’m approaching my mid-life. Instead of having a crisis though, there’s life (and new tricks) in this ole goddess dog yet! In the last three months I’ve increased my subscribers by a whopping 50%. All with three simple changes. Because simple is fun and good, and really, it’s the best way to do things.

Are you ready to hear them? Hurrah!

1. Getting people in

I’ve SEO’ed the heck out of my website. I’ve commented like a fiend on all my favorite blogs. I’m aTwittering and FriendFace-ing with the best of them (a li’l “IT Crowd” joke in there for those playing at home). Want to know the thing that’s lovingly ushered people through the doors into my blog?

Guest blogging.

I had it on my to-do list for a bazillion years. “Yus yus yus, sooo important. OMG must be all ova dat! But mmm, can’t be bovered.” Every week, I put it off. Until I kicked my own butt (somewhat lovingly) into guest blog town.

  • I asked all my affiliates if I could guest blog for them.
  • I popped an “Interview me!” button on my blog.
  • I contacted all the places I knew that accepted guest blog submissions.
  • And I asked all my favorite blog peoples if I could write for them.

Whenever I wrote the guest blogs, I made sure I infused as much of my trademark ridunkulous silly and soppy language in them. Just to shoot up a little beacon of a freak flag so my right people knew I was a ginormous raving hippy, and that I was one of their kind.

And people spilled through the doors, and it was grand.

Mission Getting People In a success! Hurrah!

2. Making them welcome

But the next mission is just as important, and it’s one that we totally ignore.

We all know that the bounce rate on our websites is super-high. When you jump on a blog for the first time, it’s hard to know where to begin, or if you belong. We need a better doormat, people. And a lounge room to welcome them into. We need to help them recognize instantly that our blog is a home for them.

Some ways we can do that:

  • Add a New Here page to your blog introducing yourself, explaining what your blog’s about, and sharing some of your best posts to get them started.
  • Add a YouTube video to your sidebar welcoming new readers, and introducing yourself and your blog.
  • Do some brainstorming. If your blog was a magazine, what themes would it cover? Then make those themes prominent on your blog—whether that’s written in your banner, or as an image.

Here’s the one I popped together:

Mission Make Them Comfy complete! *confetti*

3. Helping them stay

How do we get our guests to become regular drop-in-aholics?

The best way I know is the What Would Seth Godin Do plugin. It appears the first five times a new friend visits your blog, and asks them if they’d like to subscribe by RSS or email.

Since using it, I’ve noticed a 20% increase in subscribers alone. Happy days!

Mission: Stay foreva, my one true reader-love = done.

3 simple changes = 50% more delight

It’s been dang glorious. And I’m pretty sure it’s been way more fun than having an existential blogging mid-life crisis!

Let us know your secrets for upping subscribers in the comments.

Goddess Leonie is the creator of GoddessGuidebook.com, a popular creativity and spirituality blog for women. She’s also the creator of the upcoming Become a Business Goddess ecourse.

7 Ways Guest Posting Can Boost Your Reputation

This guest post is by Mathew Carpenter of Sofa Moolah.

I’m an avid blog reader. My Google Reader is packed with hundreds of different blogs, each one covering a subject that I may or may not be directly involved in. There’s the work and marketing category, the finance blogs, and then the blogs that deal with subjects I really don’t know anything about, nor do I have any interaction with in my work or personal life.

Every time I scan over these blogs, I’m reminded of how I came into contact with them in the first place. It wasn’t through search, or even social media. It was because the authors of these blogs—ones that I would never have found on my own—went out of their way to pen a guest post for another blog I followed.

There’s a slight stigma attached to guest posting, at least in the field I work in. When most people see a guest post their immediate reaction turns to working out what the writer is promoting. Sure, it’s not entirely commercial—most guest posts have great content and an interesting take that you might never otherwise see—but the assumption that guest posts are commercially motivated is a pretty tough one to shake.

Part of the reason for it is that throughout the last few years, or at least up until the most recent line or Google search shake-ups, posting on other blogs was a great way to provide link diversity for your website. It was the solution of choice for SEOs and bloggers alike, with both eyeing up blogs not as sources of information or worthwhile outlets, but as link resources waiting to be exploited.

Today, I’m going to look at a different side of guest posting, one that’s completely unrelated to search engine benefits or PageRank juice. Today, we’re going to look at the brand and reputation that can be created through smart guest blogging. From building an audience for your own blog to increasing awareness of your product, here’s why you should guest blog for reputation alone.

1.Fresh faces often become the best readers.

Amongst bloggers, there’s a belief that the longer someone continues to read your website, the more they’re worth, at least from a purely business standpoint. The idea is that by building trust with your readers, they become more likely to view your future projects as a serious possibility.

For some bloggers, this could mean more ebooks sold, more opt-in leads generated, or a greater amount of referred readers. But amongst experts in online advertising, the opposite belief is true. Online ad experts value fresh visitors significantly higher than they do returners, largely because they’re more responsive to new content, and more likely to be interested in advertising.

You don’t need to sell advertising space on your blog, nor do you need to have something to sell in order to understand the value here. Fresh faces may not have a deep level of trust with you, but they have a newness to them that can often lead to valuable action. From selling products to converting a clickthrough reader to a subscriber, gaining fresh readers from guest posting really does work.

2. Guest posting improves your search visibility.

In the earlier days of search engine optimization, bloggers desperately sought out other high-traffic blogs in order to gain link juice from their websites. The assumption was that by linking to their own websites from a more influential source, they would gain approval from Google, in turn increasing their own website’s search visibility.

That may still be true, but the benefit of guest posting appears to be decreasing somewhat over time, particularly as content farms and other search exploiters milk the strategy. However, the real strength of guest posting isn’t just its ability to increase your website’s search visibility, but your own.

When you have an archive of guest posts, perhaps five published on five different blogs, a search for your name reveals multiple angles of your online publishing, multiple resources that a reader can learn about you from, and an entire results page of content. That’s definitely worth more than a single, solitary result for your own website in the first position.

3. Purely business? Take an opportunity to share your interests.

One of the blogs I find myself reading most often, and one that I’ve gained a lot of information from, is Tim Ferriss’ blog. Equal parts business blog, travel guidebook, and sports nutrition cheat sheet, it’s an eclectic mix of different subjects joined to create a very popular, very acclaimed blog.

But what makes it so great isn’t necessarily the mix of styles, nor the quality of the content, but the fact that despite technically being one man’s blog, it’s been opened up to a range of high quality, no-nonsense guest posters. For every post by Tim there’s generally another from a guest poster, often one with little to do with the previous post.

It’s tempting to be purely business online, often in an attempt to promote the suit-and-tie image that so many people think is essential in a “professional” role. But online readers aren’t interested in just the business side of you. Every successful business blog I can point to has used guest posts and an assortment of other smart techniques to be just as much personal content as it is pure business.

4. Great guest posts can quickly open doors.

I’ve noticed that many bloggers have started offering consultancy services, often with a portfolio or order page linked to in the sidebar of their own blogs. It’s a great idea, and one that can produce a useful form of income for full-time bloggers and professionals alike. But why stop at using your blog as a promotional outlet? Why not indirectly advertise your services using another blog?

I’m not suggesting you take over someone else’s blog with a purely promotional post, nor am I suggesting that you buy advertising space on other blogs. What I am suggesting is that you view each guest post as an opportunity to extend your brand onto other people, and as a change to add another knot into your online net. Even a non-promotional post can work wonders when it comes to helping other readers remember both you, your blog, and your services.

5. It can take several encounters for a reader to start listening to you.

It’s always disheartening to see a great blog that’s been given about a week’s worth of attention. It’s not an uncommon sight online – blogs that have received a week of consistent content are left to die by their authors. The reason? They didn’t receive the “instant hit” status that far too many bloggers expect to experience.

There’s an old ad industry saying, that it takes anywhere from six to ten impressions for any single advertisement to have an effect on you. If your first guest post doesn’t hit home, relax. It’s the first of many chances to capture the reader’s attention. Write consistent content, not just for your blog, but for others too, and eventually you will build an audience that’s interested in listening to you.

6. Yes, there are SEO benefits to writing guest blog posts.

While guest posts, published articles, and other content-driven SEO strategies may have lost a little bit of their search influence in recent months, they’re still an effective strategy for driving your blog or website up the search results. However, there’s a catch—one that may not have been around in the earlier days of search engine optimization.

Instead of posting your articles anywhere and everywhere, it’s now more important than ever for you to pick outlets that are authoritative, reliable, and trusted by Google. Aim for blogs with high quality audiences. Not only will these produce the best search-related benefits, they’ll also bring in significantly better short-term results from your post’s readers.

7. Guest posting builds long-term online connections.

If there’s one true benefit of guest posting, it’s this. While guest posting is great for getting a leg-up in the search engines, boosting traffic, and expanding your online influence, it has one benefit that outweighs all of its others: the connections it can create with other bloggers, online publishers, and influential people.

Not all bloggers are based in their bedrooms. Many have offices, businesses, and connections with very important people. Guest posting opens this world up to you, at least in the small slice you can gain by interacting with other bloggers. It also opens up long-term terms connections, ones that are capable of producing guest posts on your blog, and a publishing network that’s second to none.

Recommended resources

ProBlogger’s own guide to guest posting may be a year old, but it’s every bit as relevant today as it was when it came out. Read this to get your guest posts polished, professional, and reader-friendly.

Copyblogger shares ten simple tips for getting “in” with A-list bloggers and networking your way to great guest posting opportunities.

My Blog Guest is a great way to network with other bloggers and find guest posting opportunities.

Have you written a guest post recently? Did it boost your reputation? I’d love to hear how it went in the comments.

Mathew Carpenter is an 18-year-old-business owner and entrepreneur from Sydney, Australia. Mathew is currently working on Sofa Moolah, a website that teaches you how to make money online. Follow Mathew on Twitter: @matcarpenter. Follow Sofa Moolah on Twitter: @sofamoolah.

Should You Even Be Blogging?!

This guest post is by Danny Iny of Firepole Marketing.

Blogging is dead.

In fact, if you ask some people, it was never really alive.

Sure, there are a gazillion blogs out there, and sure, some of them have tons of followers and make lots of money.

But let’s face facts. Most of the blogosphere consists of ghost blogs with single-digit audiences, about topics that nobody really cares about. Most blogs make zero dollars, and even cost the owners money, as well as lots of time.

So really, it’s just a matter of time before the world wakes up to the reality that blogging is dead, or was never really alive, and returns to the comfort and security of print newspapers. Right?

Umm … no, not really.

I don’t think blogging is dead, and I’d like to think that I wouldn’t make such blanket statements about anything (I’m not a big fan of Twitter, but I recognize that as being my opinion, rather than the gospel truth). The above was a quick caricature of the crotchety, ain’t-never-getting-on-board-with-this-blogging-thing sort of naysayer.

And it’s nonsense. Not just because this is ProBlogger, and if you’re reading this, then you probably disagree with almost everything I wrote. But because you’re a smart person, who knows that absolutes like “blogging is finished” or “Facebook doesn’t work” may be right for some people in some contexts, but can’t be right for everyone in every context.

So let’s try another absolute on for size. Tell me how this one grabs you:

Blogging is awesome.

In fact, it’s so awesome that I find it hard to believe people still waste money on anything else!

There are loads of blogs out there with tons of followers making lots of money—these aren’t just hypotheticals, There are tons of easy examples that come to mind, like Problogger, Copyblogger, and Firepole Marketing (okay, so Firepole Marketing isn’t in the same league, but watch this space!).

Sure, there are some ghost blogs out there, but that’s just a testament to how incredibly accessible the world of blogging really is—there are practically no barriers to entry, which means that anyone can do it, and anyone can win big.

Blogging is the ultimate level playing field, and it’s just a matter of time before the whole world wakes up and realizes that blogging is where it’s at. Right?

Umm … no, not really.

Why blog?

There really are tons of great reasons to be blogging. Here are just a few, off the top of my head:

  • Blogging is rewarding. It feels really great to write a post that you know is solid, and then have people read it and agree in the comments.
  • Blogging is educational. To keep on putting out good content, you’ve got to be reading good content, and thinking about interesting things. This makes blogging a powerful learning experience.
  • Blogging builds community. For your blog to do well, you need to connect with others like you. They will have experiences that you share, and that is the start of community. This isn’t just a web 2.0 buzz word—community provides support and momentum, which are both critical resources.
  • Blogging builds credibility. Creating solid, relevant content on a regular basis is a great way to communicate to your audience that you know your stuff.

These are good reasons, but they aren’t the only ones—I’m sure that with a bit of time, you could come up with five or ten more to add to the list!

But rather than expanding that list for several pages, I want to discuss one terrible reason to blog: all the cool kids are doing it.

Too many people start “me too” blogs, because it seems to be the thing to do. Everyone and their sister has a blog, so you should, too. It’s the magical path to freedom and riches, right?

Wrong!

Just because others are growing an audience and making lots of money doesn’t mean that you will. At the same time, just because others aren’t growing an audience and aren’t making a penny doesn’t mean that you won’t.
Each person, blog, and situation is different, and you can’t just copy-paste someone else’s successes or failures onto your life.

So … should you be blogging? Let’s explore that in a slightly roundabout way.

Back to business school

I think it’s safe to assume that if you’re reading ProBlogger, then you’re after an audience, money, or both.
Let’s go back to business school for a moment, and talk about your business model. Fundamentally, your business model answers two questions:

  1. What are people going to pay you for?
  2. What will you do to make them want to pay?

Now, whether they’re paying you in eyeballs or dollars depends on what is important to you. Either way, getting them to do it depends on giving them something that they want.

And how do you know what they want? Well, first you have to know who they are—who are you writing for?
I read somewhere that when Stephen King writes a novel, he has a specific reader in mind—someone that he knows. When the novel is done, he gives it to that person to read, and if they like it, he knows he hit the mark.

Now, if this were a post about writing, then I’d talk about how you should be thinking about a specific reader for each and every post—how to make sure you’re writing what they want to read, using language that will resonate with them, and so forth. But this post isn’t about writing (but leave a comment if you want me to write that post!).

Where does your tribe hang out?

This post is about whether you should be blogging. So here’s what I want you to do. First, choose the person that you’re writing for. See them clearly in your mind, and don’t continue until you’ve got it.

Second, ask yourself this question: “Do they read blogs?”

If the answer is yes, then great. But for too many blogs (read: the ones who never hit the traffic numbers that they want), the answer is no. Like an organization for anarchists, they’re targeting an audience in a way that the audience will never respond to—even if the audience would love all their stuff if only they read it.

It takes courage to admit it, but if that’s you, you have two options: write for a different tribe, or write somewhere else (wherever it is that they do hang out).

Let’s say that the answer is “yes”—they read blogs. The next question is: “What blogs do they read?”

That’s the answer to where you should be commenting, engaging the community, and guest posting.

Who is that one person?

It all comes back to that one person that you’re writing for. Take the time to think about who that person is, and what they want to read. No complicated tricks or frameworks—if you know them, then you know what they like, right?

So who are you writing for? Who is that one person? What are they like? Do you know who that one person is for you? Share it with me in a comment…

Danny Iny is an author, strategist, serial entrepreneur, and proud co-founder of Firepole Marketing, the definitive marketing training program for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and non-marketers. Visit his site today for a free cheat sheet about Why Guru Strategies for Blog Growth DON’T WORK… and What Does!