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Don’t Ever Write Without this Writer’s Warm-up

This guest post is by Karol K of Online Business Design blog.

What is a writer’s warm-up? I hear you ask.

I’m going to answer this question in a minute, but first let me get an initial “yes” from you.

Did you ever notice that your initial piece of writing on a given day is not the best you can do, and you’re actually aware of that? Is that a “yes”?

Of course, there can be many reasons for this, but the main one might be simpler than you think. First of all, just because you don’t like what you’ve written doesn’t mean you have a plumber’s writer’s block. Nor does it mean that apparently it’s not your most creative day, nor that the topic doesn’t seem particularly comfortable for you, nor anything else like this.

What if, maybe, you’ve just been writing without warming up first?

Why a warm-up is important

Writer's warm-ups

Image copyright Robert Kneschke - Fotolia.com

I’m sure you know the value (actually, necessity seems to be a better word here) of warming up when it comes to any kind of physical exercise or sport.

You can’t lift heavy weights without starting with very small dumbbells to get you going. And you can’t run a marathon without some prior stretching (and probably a lot of other stuff I know nothing about since I’ve never run a marathon).

Well, it’s not just sports. What was interesting to me when I first went to a vocal class was that it always started with a warm-up too. This lets your voice prepare for the upcoming effort. Staying on the mouth—related topics, warm-ups are also nothing unusual for competitive eating professionals. From what I know they start their “training” by eating a modest one kilo of grapes…

Why is it, then, that most bloggers start writing their posts without any kind of warm-up?

I see four reasons:

  • Up until today they didn’t know about such a thing.
  • They feel warmed-up enough.
  • They don’t see the value.
  • They don’t realize the risks.

Let’s tackle them all at once, starting with the last one.

The risks of not warming up before writing

We all know the risks of not warming up before sports. Lack of a warm-up is the fastest way to an injury or a serious muscle pain that could take away the whole joy of doing sports. On a professional level, lack of a warm-up significantly lowers the performance and can even lead to a career-ending injury.

What about blogging? Well, you’re not going to break any bones, so the risks are not that obvious, but they are still there.

For instance, the most common result of writing without a warm-up is the amount of time you’ll spend staring at a blank screen. Everybody knows that getting started is the most difficult part, and many people struggle to get the words rolling.

Even though you have your post’s topic well researched, and you know what message you want to convey, getting those ideas to a digital piece of paper can be hard.

Thankfully, this whole process can be sped up a lot if you just take care of some basic warm-ups.

You see, no matter the activity, warm-ups are all about getting started. A warm-up is always a set of the most basic, simple and easy movements possible for a given activity.

Therefore, due to its simplicity, no one ever has problems with getting the warm-up done. No one is ever stuck on the warm-up because, practically, that’s impossible.

At first it seems counterintuitive, but warming up actually saves you time. You do begin writing later, that’s true, but you are more likely to finish earlier and create a better post along the way.

To be honest with you, I had my share of can’t-get-started problems in my short blogging career. There were times when I was sitting in front of a blank screen for up to an hour. I felt I couldn’t start writing anything decent even though I had the topic researched.

For me, the cause was simple: writing the mysterious “quality content” is not easy, just like doing a 300-pound bench press is not easy. Even when you posses the necessary skills, both these challenges require some warming up.

How to do a writer’s warm-up

Okay, so what’s the most basic thing you can write, one that doesn’t require any preparation whatsoever, and is impossible to get stuck on?

Writing an essay on the meaning of life is one thing, but I’d advise something different—a personal journal.

It fits the description perfectly. Everyone can write about how their day was, or what they have in plan for the evening, or what they think about other people and situations, and so on. Just like everyone can talk about these things to a friend.

So, every day (or whenever you’re doing your writing), start your writing session by firing up your personal journal (Penzu, for example is a great online journal tool) and jotting down whatever is in your mind.

There are no rules to writing a journal. Whatever you do, you’ll be doing it well. Besides, a personal journal, like the name indicates, is a purely private thing, so no one will ever see it.

I, personally, always write at least one journal entry before starting to work on an article. It takes me five to ten minutes to put down 300-800 words (I wish I could write some decent posts at this rate).

After I have my entry done I immediately switch to writing a post. And since I already have the right mindset, I can usually start without any hesitation lasting longer than two minutes or so.

You know what? I guess the “writer’s training program” is straightforward after all: five minutes of warm-up with a proper writing session afterwards.

I’m only asking for one thing here—have a little faith and try this yourself. Everyone who I’ve ever given this advice to has agreed that it’s one of the most effective things you can do to improve your writing. And for me, it’s been a true game changer.

What do you think about this whole idea? Are you using a similar technique? Maybe you’ve been doing this sort of writer’s warm-up without even knowing it? Feel free to speak up in the comments.

Karol K. (@carlosinho) is a 20-something year old web 2.0 entrepreneur from Poland and a grad student at the Silesian University of Technology. He hates to do traditional business but loves to train capoeira. Tune in to get his blogging advice and tips on starting an online business.

Link your AdSense and Google Analytics Accounts for some Profitable Analysis

  • Are you an AdSense publisher?
  • Do you use Google Analytics?
  • Have you linked them together?

If your answers are yes, yes, and no, you’re missing out on some interesting stats.

It’s been possible to link Analytics and AdSense for a while now, but I come across plenty of publishers who are either yet to do so or who are not actually doing anything with this information. To get them linked, check out this page on Google.

Once they’re linked up, over time as the data begins to collate, you’ll have at your fingertips some interesting information that will hopefully enable you to increase your AdSense earnings further.

There are a heap of stats that you’re given in the AdSense section of Google Analytics, and as a result, there are plenty of ways to dig in. But a simple starting point is to do some analysis of which content is generating the biggest income for you.

I’m not sure that I’m able to show my stats for AdSense earnings, so I won’t show any screen grabs, but here’s what I do:

  • Once I’m in Analytics, I head to the Content section, under which there’s an AdSense section.
  • I click on the AdSense Pages menu item, which opens up a report of the pages on the blog that earned money in the last month, and ranks them by earnings.

By analyzing the posts listed there, you’ll hopefully begin to see the reasons why certain pages earn more than others. For example I did some analysis today of my last month’s earnings and found:

  • My post on ISO Settings did well. It had a higher than average CPM, a pretty good CTR, and decent traffic—an all-round good performer.
  • My post on Wedding Photography Tips, on the other hand had a much higher CPM, and higher CTR, but less traffic than the ISO page.
  • My photography tips for beginners page again did well mainly because of traffic but less so on a CPM and CTR basis (it has less ads on the page),
  • My how to buy a DSLR guide has particularly good CPM—for a topic on which advertisers are obviously bidding against each other.

With some basic analysis, you can start to see a number of things:

  • which types of posts attract higher paying ads (higher CPM)
  • which topics seem to be performing best
  • which post lengths seem to convert best
  • which posts you should try to direct more traffic to, because they’re well optimized
  • which pages on your site might be good candidates for an extra ad.

Out of the analysis, you might want to tweak some pages to see if you can add more ads, position them better, and so on.

You might also want to think about replicating some of them—taking a popular topic and writing followup posts.

You might also want to find ways to promote some of them more. For example, if you have a really hot page, why not link to it more prominently from your navigation bar and try to get more people to it?

I can’t tell you exactly what you’ll find when you do this exercise, but it’s rare that I do it and don’t get something out of it! Give it a go!

How to Know Which Plugins are Killing Your Site’s Performance

This guest post is by Matthew Setter of Malt Blue.

You know the situation: your site’s been slowing down for a while, but you just can’t put your finger on why. Then you get a tweet, an email, or a comment on your Facebook page mentioning it. Even worse, you see someone talking about your site in your niche’s main online forum—they’re not impressed with your sites performance.

What was once an amazingly quick-loading site has slowed and slowed to a crawl. Your visitors are growing unhappy and may even be starting to look for alternative sites. To be honest, who could blame them for wanting to seek out someone else that serves their needs better, in less time?

What makes things worse is that you’re not really a geek or a tech-head and you don’t know what to do about it.

You ask yourself:

  • How can I find out what’s killing my sites performance?
  • How do I know where the issues are?
  • How can I give someone the right information to help me?

Well in this post, I want to help you do just that, by giving you a quick introduction to analyzing your site’s performance using one of the simplest, free, tool package of all—Google Chrome’s Developer Tools.

Now I appreciate that we’re not all geeks or tech heads, and that more than likely, this isn’t something that you’d do on a regular basis. But that needn’t stop you. You can be partially autonomous without being either a nerd or programmer.

So I am going to show you, quickly, just how easy it is to use the developer tools available in Google Chrome, to work out which components of your blog are causing you issues. With that information, you’ll be able to take action yourself if you host your own blog, or report this to your tech support if you don’t.

What are the Developer Tools?

The official Developer Tools blog describes them as follows:

The Developer Tools, bundled and available in Chrome, allows web developers and programmers deep access into the internals of the browser and their web application … The Developer Tools are organized into task-oriented groups that are represented by icons in the toolbar at the top of the window. Each toolbar item and corresponding panel lets you work with a specific type of page or app information, including DOM elements, resources, and scripts.

Now okay, there’s a bit to take in there, but if you’re not comfortable with all that, don’t worry: it simply means that these tools provide a way of finding out specific details about each component of the web page that you’re currently viewing.

They allow you to filter by category, and sort the available information by a simple set of key criteria, such as size, time and type. The image below shows you a working example.


 

Step 1. Open Developer Tools

The first thing that we want to do is to display the Developer Tools window in Google Chrome. After opening Google Chrome, click on the wrench icon on the right-hand side of the main Chrome window. In the menu that pops up, move your mouse over the Tools option and in the next window that pops up, click Developer Tools (this is second from the bottom).

Step 2. Get familiar with the Developer Tools window

All being well, you’ll see the Developer Tools main window, which looks similar to the screenshot above. You’ll see a set of tabs across the top, including:

  • Elements
  • Resources
  • Network
  • Scripts
  • Timeline
  • Profiles
  • Audits
  • Console.

The one that we’re focusing on is Network, so go ahead and click that tab. Now you’re going to see what seems like a large amount of information, but don’t worry—before you’ve finished this article, you’re going to be an ace at making sense of the parts that are most important.

Step 3. Filtering options

Now, take a closer look at the footer> of the window, right down the bottom. You’ll see a set of menus, which include:

  • All: Displays all the components in the page
  • Documents: Displays only HTML output
  • Stylesheets: Display CSS stylesheets
  • Images: Display all images (.png, .jpeg, .gif, etc.)
  • Scripts: Display all Javascript (inline, external).

These options allow you to filter the components that make up the current page. In this case, it’s the Facebook fan page of my first blog, Malt Blue.

By default, the All option is selected. This shows you everything in the page. This is a bit much to work with, so go ahead and click each option and notice how the list can dramatically change in size.

Now take a closer look at the row under the main menu. It has a series of columns that allow you to sort the available information. They include:

  • Name: the name of the HTML page, image, stylesheet, etc.
  • Method: whether the item was requested with GET or POST
  • Status: some information about status of the item
  • Type: a text description of the item’s type
  • Initiator: what requested the item
  • Size: the size of the item
  • Time: the time taken to retrieve the item displayed in text
  • Timeline: the time taken to retrieve the item displayed as a graph.

The key columns, however, are Name, Size, Time, and Timeline. By focusing on these columns, you can see that of the eight displayed, the first one took 1.57 seconds to load with a size of 65.40KB. Not too bad overall. If you’re a visual person, like me, then sort using the Timeline tab.

Okay, so you’re now more familiar with the available options. But for the quickest assessment, the two key columns to look at are time and size. Let’s consider each in turn.

Step 4. Sort by time

This one is probably the best one to use when it comes to finding rogue components. It was a god-send recently when it was able to tell me that a MailChimp sign-up widget in my sidebar was taking over 15 seconds to fully load.

So click on the Time column until it has a downward facing arrow next to it. Then, you’ll see the components in the page, displayed from slowest to fastest. In the column, you’ll see two numbers for each component, one in grey and one in black.

The number that you want to focus on is the top number in the black font. This shows you the total time that the component took to load, right from when it was requested by the browser, to when it was displayed on the page.

Step 5. Sort by size

This is probably the second-best option to sort by, especially if you’re more of a numbers than a graphics person. As you did with sorting by Time, click on the Size column until it has a downward facing arrow next to it.

Then, you’ll see the components in the page, displayed from biggest to smallest. In the column, you’ll again see two numbers for each component. Once again, focus on the number in the black font. This is the total size of your component.

Step 6. What To Do

So far, we’ve opened the Developer Tools, familiarized ourselves with the Network window, played around with its key options, and finished up by getting to know the components in our web page.

But what do you do now?

Based on time and size, take an inventory of the biggest and slowest loading elements of your page. Then look to see what you can do to reduce these points. To save you time, here are my top suggestions for speeding up your site with this new knowledge:

  • See if the elements relate to plugins or widgets that you’ve installed. If so, consider disabling them or finding an alternative that loads faster.
  • Look at the slowest loading or biggest images. Maybe you’ve set the width and height to make them appear smaller. Could you:
    1. optimize them for displaying on the net?
    2. scale them down in size without losing quality?
    3. remove unnecessary parts of the image?
    4. use another image format, producing a smaller file size?
  • Do you load a lot of CSS stylesheets or Javascript files? Could you:
    1. combine them in to one file?
    2. load some from external, faster, sources, such as Google?
    3. shrink the Javascript and CSS files with online services such as jscompress.com or minifycss.com?

Don’t manage the site?

What if your site’s managed for you by someone else?

In that case, get in touch with your tech support and tell them all that you can about the slow components that you’ve found. Tell them what they are, how long they’re taking to load, the size of them, and so on. An even simpler option may be to send them an annotated screenshot of the developer tools window where you’ve highlighted the results that you’ve found.

Experiment!

Like all new things, give yourself time to become familiar with the tool. As you do so, you’ll grow a proper appreciation for what’s fast and what’s not, what’s a good size for a file or an image and what’s not, and so on.

Then, as this knowledge builds, you’ll be increasingly autonomous and better informed about the state of your site.

I hope that you’ve found this helpful and that in future, when your site’s exhibiting poor performance, you’ll be in a much better position to perform the initial diagnostics yourself. You’ll be both better informed and more able to let your tech support know when issues need to be addressed and where.

Matthew Setter is a passionate writer, educator and software developer. He’s also the founder of Malt Blue, dedicated to helping people become better at web development.You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+ anytime.

The Simple Power of Asking

This guest post is by Sanjeev Mohindra of Makewebworld.

What is asking? It is a simple act of putting together a query in order to obtain the answer. Whether you get an answer or not depends on how a question has been framed and asked.

Ask

Image used with permission

Asking has an awesome power, yet it is one of the most unused methods of advancement.

When you enter the blogging world, there are lots of things which you might want to know. You can get them by just asking. Still, most people avoid doing that: they try to get all the answers by themselves.

Asking in practice

When I started my new blog, I started to look for guest post opportunities and my first guest post What you can take from your Blog’s Worst Day got published on ProBlogger.

I created a draft and send it for consideration. I waited for the next 15 days to get a response to my email, but one came.

I could have assumed this was a rejection but rather than leaving it, I decided to ask about it. I sent a note to ask if the post was still under consideration … and I was amazed to see the response.

“So sorry for my late reply, and thanks very much for following up with me, because I thought I’d responded to your email already! I enjoyed this piece and will be happy to include it on the site.”

Now I want you to take a moment and think: what you would have done in this situation? If you’d have asked in the same manner as I did, you know the power of asking.

If you think logically, you’ll know that posts can be overlooked at ProBlogger, where they might be receiving hundreds of emails daily. It might not be the same on a fledgling blog where there are hardly any emails.

The power of asking

Asking is a sign of courage and a sign that you are ready to learn. Every question demands a response, so it generates active communication.

All you have to do is ask. And ask is what people in best-practices cultures do—all the time.—Winning – The Answers, by Jack and Suzy Welch

Winning – The Answers, is really a great book. It focuses on global business practices, but who doesn’t consider blogging as a business? Jack and Suzy Welch have mentioned one more important point in the book: if you are asking your direct competitors, you are most probably not going to get the answer.

This is true in blogging world, too. If you are looking for the best practices, look at the blogs other than those in your niche, check what is working for them and ask if it can work for your blog.

If you think that it can work for your blog, then go ahead and ask how they are using the technique. Arund 99% time you will get an answer—they will be happy to show you how they have created their blogs.

You can do the same within your niche, but be prepared for lower response rates. Still, you will find some nice people who are ready to welcome a new blogger into the niche.

Ask for topics

What do your readers want? It’s always a mystery! What could be a better way than asking them directly?

Bloggers do run many polls on our blogs as a means to engage the readers. How about running a poll for your next topic? Ask what they want to read. You may end up writing on each topic mentioned in the poll, but a poll can help you give priority to certain topics.

It also does one more thing: it engages your readers for the future posts so they will be tempted to come back and check what you wrote about the topic they suggested.

Ask for friends

Darren mentioned in 31DBBB that you need to find a blogging buddy, but what if you don’t have anybody close to you who can be your buddy?

Asking can help you find a friend or buddy. You can try asking some bloggers in your niche if they want to connect with you: just ask them. You might be surprised to see the responses. No, you might not get many responses, but you do not need many buddies.

You need to make sure that your question is clear enough to convey the message properly. Below are a few things to keep in mind when you ask for a blog buddy:

  • Use open-ended questions to encourage conversations.
  • It should not be about me—it should be about them and what they will get.
  • Try to avoid trivial questions.
  • Try to avoid Yes/No type question, as they don’t generate an opportunity for conversation.
  • Give the person enough time to get an answer.

Ask

Asking is really easy and handy tool. The only thing to remember is that you need to ask with the intent of learning and improvement, not just for sake of it. People can feel your intent in your questions. So keep asking, and keep learning.

What was the last thing you asked for to help develop your blog? What happened when you asked? Share your experiences in the comments.

Sanjeev currently writes at Make Web World and offers his latest eBook “5 steps to WordPress Blog” for free, you can get the eBook by subscribing here or can connect with him at Google Plus.

Free Webinar on Facebook Marketing: This Wednesday

Do you want to tap into the audience of over 1 billion people using Facebook?FB-Influence.png

This Wednesday I will be hosting a free live webinar with someone who has taught me so much about Facebook Marketing – Amy Porterfield.

At a recent session at Blog World Expo that Amy was teaching at I came away with a long page of action items of things to implement on my own Facebook pages and I’m confident that in our webinar you’ll likewise come away with some great ideas and things to do.

Amy is the author of Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies and has consulted with numerous well known companies and individuals on their Facebook strategy – she knows what she’s talking about and is a great communicator. You’ll get a heap of value from this webinar.

Registration is free and this webinar is live. I’m looking forward to participating but more than anything from the opportunity to soak up some more great knowledge from Amy.

The Webinar is happening this Wednesday (7th December) at 9pm-10pm EST (US Eastern time).

Register here to participate. Numbers on the webinar are limited and we won’t be posting a recording of this one so do make sure you’re on the call.

The Technical Setup Behind My Videos on ProBlogger

In my last video post I spoke about the benefits of using talking head video posts on a blog. Today in this video I want to respond to many questions I get about the technical setup that I use for my videos here on ProBlogger.

My set up is very basic (and I’m sure it can be improved), but the results seem to work well. I get a lot of comments on them, and questions about factors like which camera I use, what lighting I have, whether I use a microphone, and so on. As I say, I’m no tech-head so I go with the basics, but I hope you find it useful.

I’d love to hear what setup you use for your talking head videos too!

Related video: What Camera Am I Using for My Videos?

The Complete Bloggers Guide to Facebook Marketing

This guide to Facebook Marketing is written by guest writer Amy Porterfield. Amy will be presenting with Darren Rowse and Lewis Howes in a free webinar for ProBlogger readers this Wednesday. Register to get access to this Webinar here now.

One Billion. That’s the number of users Facebook will hit in a matter of months – if not sooner. The powerhouse network continues to climb.

Did you know that two billion posts are Liked and commented on each day and, on average, Facebook users spend over 700 BILLION minutes a month on Facebook? There’s no doubt your ideal audience is on Facebook right now.

The key is to figure out how Facebook’s mega population can help you position your blog as the leading source in your industry while helping you increase your overall traffic and leads.

When it comes to Facebook marketing, you’ve got to have a plan. If you go at it without a strategy, your Facebook efforts could quickly become a huge waste of time.

To help you get clear on your Facebook plan, consider these four steps as a roadmap to Facebook success.

Step #1: Set Up Your Foundation For Facebook Success
Step #2: Quickly Grow a Lucrative Fan Base of Quality Leads
Step #3: Create Ongoing, Massive Engagement
Step #4: Turn Your Fans Into Profitable Super Fans

A closer look at each step will help you understand how these steps can grow your online presence, attract your ideal readers and build your blog.

Step #1: Set Up Your Foundation For Facebook Success

Before you can attract high quality leads to your blog, you must establish a solid Facebook foundation. The first step is to make sure your Facebook Page is optimized and reflects your brand impeccably. With almost a billion people on Facebook, you need to make sure your Page stands out from all the noise.

Facebook is the ultimate platform to brand yourself and your brand. You can do this by creating a customized wall image as well as a custom welcome tab.

A welcome tab is the page all non-fans land before they see the activity on your wall. This customized page will allow you to create a strong call to action that will get non-fans to click the Like button and become an instant fan of your Page.  A custom welcome tab can get you up to 50% more Likes than if you sent non-fans directly to your wall on their first visit. To get instant momentum on Facebook, begin my creating a solid foundation right from the start.

To better understand how to build your Facebook foundation, check out these useful articles:

Step #2: Quickly Grow a Lucrative Fan Base of Quality Leads

When it comes to Facebook success, numbers matter. Hubspot [http://hubspot.com] completed a study of over 4,000 Facebook business Pages and found that Pages with at least 501 fans drove 3 times more traffic than Pages with less than 501 fans. But even more promising, Pages with 1,001 fans or more generated 21 times more traffic than pages with less than 1,000 fans. That’s a huge jump!

Your fan count matters, however, numbers are an empty metric without quality. You must attract high-quality fans that will become avid readers of your blog and are invested in your business.  A Page full of fans who will never become paying customers is a huge waste of your time.

To attract your ideal audience on Facebook, you first want to make sure you understand who you want to attract. Get clear on your ideal blog reader so you can craft Facebook posts that will grab their attention and keep them coming back for more.

To explore new ways to attract your ideal audience on Facebook, take a look at the following articles. They are all packed with valuable fan attraction takeaways you can test out on your own Page.

Step #3: Create Ongoing, Massive Engagement

Engagement equals massive value. The key is in knowing what triggers drive your fans to discussion. Once your fans are engaged with you on your Facebook Page, you can easily move them to take action.

If you want to use Facebook to attract new blog readers and drive leads, it’s essential you provide a high level of content and quality information that delivers massive value and entices your fans to share it with their friends.

If you want your fans to take action, you must make an effort to educate, empower and entertain your fans.  Don’t worry; you don’t have to do all three at once! But the next time you post, make sure you pack your post with a punch and deliver content your audience will want to devour and share.

Facebook recently added a new public metric to Facebook Pages. In the left column, right below the number of fans, you’ll see a number that reflects the number of people who are talking about you on Facebook at that moment (sharing your posts, liking your content, commenting on your updates, etc.). The metric is labeled “Talking About This” and when it reflects a lot of conversation, it’s great social proof. The challenge is that most people struggle to get their fans talking and in turn, increase this metric.

If your “Talking About This” number is low, it’s likely that your content is falling flat with your audience. If that’s the case, do this quick test. Look at your last 10 posts and answer these four questions:

  1. Do my posts reflect what my core audience wants?
  2. Do my posts give valuable info my audience needs?
  3. Are my posts enticing enough to keep their attention?
  4. Am I creating content my audience will want to share with their friends?

If you answered no to any of the questions above, reevaluate your content and get clear on the type of posts your audience will want to devour and share. If you don’t know, ask them! Facebook is a great place to get great feedback from your ideal audience (and it’s free market research!).

To learn a few new strategies to get your fans talking even more, check out the following articles:

Step #4: Turn Your Fans Into Profitable Super Fans

When Facebook first started to gain massive popularity, there was a lot of talk about how it was a great place to network with potential customers and build relationships. And while that’s still true, ……

If you only focus on building relationships with Facebook, you’re missing out on an extremely important fact – Facebook is a thriving marketplace where you can turn lukewarm fans into Super Fans.  

What’s a Super Fan?  

Super Fans are Facebook users who have opened their Facebook profile, giving you access to their name, email address, likes, interests, connections and so much more. In addition, they’ve purchased from you, spread the word about you and your business to their friends and connections and have encouraged others to purchase from you as well.

Super Fans do what any marketing department would kill for, all for free. You want as many Super Fans as you can get.

The key to moving your fans up the ranks to Super Fan status is by setting the foundation for your Facebook Page, attracting quality fans and providing value via your posts and conversations on Facebook. Each of these steps will ensure that your audience sees you as the go-to source in your niche. When you know your fans challenges or needs, and can offer them solutions, you are positioned perfectly to move your fans to action.

Here are some useful articles that will help you move your fans up the ranks to Super Fan status:

When it comes to Facebook marketing, there’s a widening gap between those who get it and those who don’t. When you get clear on your own Facebook marketing strategy, you can more easily use this powerhouse network to drive more exposure and traffic to your blog.

Want to learn more about using Facebook as a Marketing tool? Register for a free webinar with Amy Porterfield, Lewis Howes and Darren Rowse to be held his Wednesday here.

Amy is the co-author of Facebook Marketing All-In-One for Dummies and a social media strategist for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Check out her latest Facebook marketing course, FBInfluence, by watching this video here.

Why Fresh Blog Content is Now 35% More Important

This guest post is by Oz of OzSoapbox.

I like to think of SEO in general as one giant cauldron of murky soup that’s never quite just right.

The cauldron has been simmering on the fire for so long that we’ve kind of lost track of exactly what we’ve put in there. All we can do now is tweak the broth by adding different ingredients in a continual effort that will hopefully improve its taste.

Taste, of course, being the positive effects good SEO brings to our blogs.

One of the gazillion factors that makes up SEO, and one we’re going to explore today, is content freshness. Gone are the days of static websites and even the seemingly most mundane of web pages usually had some sort of dynamic element to them.

Whether it’s a Twitter feed, Facebook integration, reader comments, or just a good old-fashioned constant stream of new articles, these days there’s a good chance even a website dedicated to your grandma’s cats is dynamically updated with some form of fresh content.

And as far as SEO goes, that’s now indisputably a good thing.

Measuring the impact of content freshness on our blogs

Previously, content freshness was something we knew was a good thing to do because SEO spiders loved new and updated content. Much like adding salt to a cauldron of soup, quantifying the exact impact content freshness had on our blogs has always been somewhat problematic.

Whilst we still don’t have a definitive answer on this (coughcough trade secrets coughcough), Google recently announced a major change to their search algorithm “that would impact roughly 35% of searches”.

That change? The quantification of the effect that freshness has on search results.

Google handle roughly three billion search queries a day, and 35% of that is one billion and fifty million searches a day affected in some way by content freshness.

That’s 1,050,000,000 daily search results … do I have your attention yet?

Google’s freshness algorithm change and your blog

Now obviously content freshness doesn’t mean that if you go berserk updating your content all of a sudden you’re going to be outranking Wikipedia. Yet this is a change to Google’s search results worth taking stock of.

That said, note that even at 35% of searches, this change simply might not really apply to your blog. Let’s face it, some blog niches are timeless.

For others, such as Digital Photography School, with digital camera models and new gear coming out all the time, Google’s algorithm change likely has huge potential.

If you don’t do anything about it though, that potential could easily swing from positive to negative.

Keeping your blog fresh

Even if you think your blog’s niche isn’t really impacted by time, it’s still worth keeping your blog fresh. In the vastness that is the Internet, the last thing you want is readers tuning out because they think you’re no longer relevant.

If you’re serious about keeping your blog stocked with fresh content, these would be the first three things I’d focus on.

Publish, publish, publish!

You don’t have to publish every day, but a strongly maintained publishing schedule is easily your best bet for fresh fresh content. What better way to show the search engines you’re full of fresh content than providing them with new pages to crawl every time they visit?

Comments

Why do all the work yourself? Although some bloggers prefer to turn comments off, as far as SEO goes, comments on your articles most definitely count towards freshness.

I’ve got some articles on my blog that I wrote a few years back, and to this day, they still receive the odd comment. This not only keeps the discussion going but keeps a page relevant, which is what Google’s latest algorithm change is all about.

Update your old articles

Even if you think nothing’s changed since you last wrote about a particular area of interest, it can’t hurt to go back and visit the topic.

I write a fair bit about current events in Taiwan. Often, a news snippet comes out that’s relevant to a story I’ve previously written about, but not significant enough to craft a new article around.

In these cases I simply go back to the article I originally wrote and provide an update. You can see this principle in action in my post on the DEHP scandal in Taiwan earlier this year.

I originally wrote the story in June. Since then I’ve updated the page no less than 19 times, with the last update on the 28th October.

The end result is a page that combines both age authority and content freshness. In the eyes of search engine crawlers this translates to relevance, because the page has been constantly updated with fresh content that is strongly on-topic.

Darren has previously written in more depth on keeping fresh content flowing on your blog, and it’s a great reference for some further fresh content ideas.

35% of over a billion searches a day are now quantifiably impacted by content freshness, and even a tiny percentage of this traffic is worth optimizing for. Fire up your favorite blogging platform and let’s get those blogs updated!

Updated daily, OzSoapbox is an English language blog about Taiwan cataloguing life in Taiwan, the good times and the bad. Interrupted only by social commentary on current events facing Taiwan, feel free to drop on by and join Oz on his journey through this beautiful island.

How to Create Another Day a Week Just for Blogging

This guest post is by Udi Tirosh of DIYPhotography.

When you start blogging it seems that there is never enough time—especially if you aren’t blogging full time, and you’re doing it from home. You get phone calls that need to be picked up; the service guy for the dishwasher shows up; you must read that important mail. It is not uncommon for an entire day to go by only to find out you didn’t complete any of the tasks you set for yourself.

The magic flask…

What if I told you there was a magic flask you can drink from which will freeze time for you? Every surrounding noise will stop: no calls, no incoming urgent mails, no dishes to wash or laundry to do. It will be just you and the computer. Everyone else will be frozen in time, allowing you to do your work. If you need something from someone, you just call their name and they will wake up for the exact amount of time you need them for an answer. I will grant you one flask a week.

Imagine: a whole day just for you and your work each wee. How would you use it? Would you outline your next blog series? Finally finish that long post that’s waiting in the queue? Brainstorm a subject for your next month of posts? How would you make this time useful?

Finding the extra day

Of course there is no such thing as a magic flask, but getting a day a week for your important work is actually not that hard.

All you have to do is spot the time of day when you are most prolific and productive. For some it is the afternoon, for some it is early morning. For me, it is the period after lunch.

Now decide that you are going to dedicate this time to blogging—think of it as a one-hour meeting with yourself. Actually, don’t just decide it, put it into your calendar. With a reminder. For every day of the week.

This will gain you six hours of uninterrupted work. During that time, don’t answer phones (disconnect or turn them off, if you need to), don’t surf the web (use blocking software if your willpower isn’t strong enough), and dedicate yourself to the blog.

Since this is your best time of day and since you will be uninterrupted, your potential for using this hour for something productive is high.

But it takes commitment. It means that you must use the time for work. And it means that you cannot set this appointment aside. You must stick with it every day. After a while, you’re likely to find that you need to expand that meeting. Go ahead and do that. And after a longer while, you may find that you don’t need this meeting at all.

Now, this is up to you. I’m offering the flask only for the next ten minutes. Use those ten minutes to schedule your daily appointment.

Udi Tirosh runs DIYPhotography, a place for photography lovers, and makes awesome photography products.