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Free Webinar: 10 Things I Wish I’d Known About Blogging When I Started

It’s time for another ProBlogger webinar, and as part of my 10 days of celebrating my 10 years of blogging, I thought in this next webinar that I’d do some reflecting upon the big things that I wish I’d known when I started blogging.

Register to attend here.

The last ten years has been a pretty amazing journey. I’ve learned a lot about creating content, building an audience, building community, and monetization. Much of what I’ve learned I’ve discovered the hard way through making mistakes and loads of experiments (many of which failed), so this webinar is about trying to communicate some of those lessons learned in the hope that you won’t need to make the mistakes I did.

I’ll be pitching this hour-long webinar mainly at the beginner-to-intermediate bloggers, and will be including time for Q&A at the end.

The webinar is scheduled for 8pm US Eastern time on Tuesday 4 December. For our international audience this means it is at:

  • Pacific Time: 5pm Tuesday 4th December
  • London: 1am Wednesday 5th December
  • Delhi: 5.30am Wednesday 5th December
  • Singapore: 9am Wednesday 5th December
  • Melbourne: Noon Wednesday 5th December

If you can’t make it to the live call, I’ll record it and will send out the recording to all who register to attend.

6 Things “Saved By the Bell” Taught Me About Blogging

This guest post is by Chiara Mazzucco of TheIndieChicks.com.

There are hundreds of thousands of articles written on being a successful blogger and driving traffic to your website or blog .

Bleh.

You can sit down and read each one, leading you to write your first blog post in about 4 years, or you can pick the gems (on sites like ProBlogger) and choose to drive inspiration from the world around you, instead.

Let’s take popular 90s sitcom, Saved by the Bell, for example. Would it blow your mind if I told you that watching just one episode could lead you to become a better blogger? Yup.

Here are six lessons I learned from Zack and the gang.

1. Be yourself, loud and proud

Screech stood out, without shame.

While thousands of other bloggers, known and unknown, write about the same thing, the only guaranteed way you’ll stand out is if you stay true to who you are and know your voice—without shame.

Start typing, without worrying about grammar, sentence structure and keywords. Thought flow is a unique process and it needs to be respected. If you worry about what others will think, how many sentences should be in a paragraph and whether or not you’re SEO optimizing your text, you’ll never actually write what you’re thinking.

Be unique. Readers appreciate honesty and individuality. Stick out.

2. Be trendy

Lisa was oh, so stylish.

You need to be blogging about things people actually want to read about.

The first step is to find your niche. The tighter the niche, the easier being trendy will be. Write on a popular topic that people care about, from a different perspective, with your unique voice.

And don’t forget, you pick the trends you want to follow. Don’t write about politics because #election2012 is trending when you know little about the presidential candidates and your blog is focused on Irish bagpipes.

3. Be charming, confident, (and a little slick)

Let’s be honest, Zack was a charming, trouble-making stud—and he was completely irresistible.

You may not be the most confident person at a social gathering, but the beauty of blogging is that it’s done behind a computer screen (and, more recently, any type of tablet or smart phone), which means, you are able to be anyone you please.

The key is to establish yourself as an expert. You want readers to be attracted—smitten, even—and to want to know your every move.

Even if you’re blogging for business, you can portray a sense of charm and confidence that immediately sets you up to be seen, and respected, as an expert in your field.

4. Be the girl (or boy) next door

Remember Kelly and that sweet, snuggle-inducing smile of hers?

There is something to be said about the need for your readers to be comfortable in your home (blog).

Whatever you blog about, welcome your readers with open arms—even if you blog about hating your readers. It’s important you make your website easy to navigate, aesthetically appealing, and user friendly.

End your posts with a question, encouraging your readers to engage, and please, allow comments.

Deep down, we all had a thing for the girl (or boy) next door. Don’t you want your readers to have a thing for you, too?

5. Be bold, and don’t apologize for it

A.C. Slater was a bit inappropriate… and it worked.

This particular lesson has to be taken with a grain of salt. You don’t have to be sexist to make it work for you—but you do have to be bold.

In order for a post to be a success it has to solve a problem, be controversial or be generally entertaining.

You can’t entertain or trigger controversy if you’re afraid of making a statement.

So be bold. People won’t be able to resist the urge to comment.

6. Stand up for what you believe, be educated (and blog about it)

Jessie was a pain in the backside, even when she got addicted to caffeine pills. Putting her small indiscretions aside, it’s safe to say that Jessie always knew what she was fighting for, she had the knowledge to back it up and she was always vocal about what she believed in.

These are qualities, in my opinion, that are absolutely crucial to the success as a blogger and I’m grateful Jessie taught me about them.

First of all, being able to write something incredible and have it go live in front of the world without relying on a major newspaper to publish it, is truly a gift that shouldn’t be taken for granted.

The second quality I cannot stress enough is to be educated on the topic you’re discussing. Whether you’re writing about a celebrity love affair or the complicated matters in the Middle East, make sure you have your facts straight … and convey them without spelling or grammar errors.

Apply it

Does this mean each characteristic has to be vibrant in every single blog post in order to make it a success?

Absolutely not.

Use the popular 90s sitcom to learn your strengths, your weaknesses and what you need to work on as a blogger.

You don’t have to hover over old Saved by the Bell episodes to learn anything new about blogging, either.

Look around you and be inspired. I happen to (shamelessly) love television, so I can tactfully take a CSI episode and learn that a blog post is like a murder mystery; pieces to a puzzle lead to a conclusion that solves a problem. Boom!

is CEO and Editor over at TheIndieChicks.com – an online magazine for the badass independent woman – where she devotes her time to inspiring anyone who’ll listen. She wrote a book on dating and relationships, The 9 Mirages of Love: How to Stop Chasing What Doesn’t Exist, and can be found handing out free nuggets of inspiration to new badass subscribers.

Why’d You Choose That Domain Name?

This guest post is by The Blogger.

Let’s admit one thing. We all started this web thing honestly, naively.

Our first site was designed to help people, to fill a gaping void we saw in the online world.

We wanted to do so much good.

Where, then, did it go so wrong? And why? Why did we end up with a website like “www.how-to-earn-money-online.com” that we can barely mention across the dinner table without blushing?

In this post, I’m going to target the psychology behind our seemingly harmless paths to web domination. I’ve been curious for a while about why a few of us start the Zygna.coms and Digg.coms while others go a, well, different path. It all dates back to the mid 1970s, when a man name Albert Bandura, the guy behind Social Cognitive Theory, examined how we seek to replicate success we see in our surroundings and in media, often at all costs. It gets a bit creepy.

Day 1: A new beginnning

It all began with GoDaddy.

“What is GoDaddy?” we ask Google. And Google responds with a full tutorial on GoDaddy.

“Thank you, Google. Now I’ve got my first domain and I have no idea how to use it.”

Well at some point, no thanks to GoDaddy, we find Blogger or WordPress. Your first domain name most-likely had a .blogspot or .wordpress in it. Hello, new blog.

“Wow, this is so interesting,” we think. “I can write posts, post images, create links, and put things in my side bar. And what exactly is a sidebar? I’m going to grow this blog to be huge! I’m getting 100 views a day! Wait, I was tracking my own views. Shut that off. So this actually is difficult … okay, I can handle that.”

We set up our first Google Analytics profile and hardly use it. We’re too focused positioning Adsense ads and garnering Facebook likes.

“Suggest to friends? I think so. Why did he not like it? Not my friend anymore! Write posts, write posts, write posts. Write even more. How am I ever going to have as many posts as that other site? Three a week, that’s it. Must happen. Three great posts of 500 words at least. More coffee. You can do this! Backlinks. Backlins! Need more. Alexa tells me I don’t have enough. Must network. Got one! Got a tweet too! Oh my dear god prepare yourself for traffic! Traffic didn’t come…why not? More posts … more domination!”

At some fateful point after much deliberation we decide to hack off the .blogger/.wordpress and basically think the world will rejoice over our decision.

“Sigh, they don’t. People don’t care. They’re focused on their own websites. Oh well, more networking, more Facebook marketing! Backlinks!

Day 2: Day 1 got old

At some point in blogging, we become jaded. It just isn’t like it was on Day 1. Our community blog, our niche review site, and our Google Adsense landing page just didn’t work as planned. It wasn’t all we were told it would be, but we did learn in the process.

So, we start a new blog. We suck up our pride. We hobble back over to the computer. We probably woke up later that day because we were up late making it big the night before.

This is where it gets interesting.

The day we start up a second website defines us in our blogging careers.

Why? Because (in case you didn’t realize yet) everyone starts a semi-successful-yet-pretty-mediocre website at first, then moves on to another project. It’s in that second project that we either:

  • show the world we’ve learned from our mistakes and are ready to build something useful, or
  • totally sell out and continue down the path to eventual existential failure.

I’m sorry, but it’s one or the other. Which path are you on?

Maybe you’re on a different path?! If so, let’s hear about it in the comments.

Day 3: Pick a new domain

It may not be on actual day 3 of blogging, but the “third day” in your blogging career is the day you choose your next domain name. On Day 1 you made your first website, on Day 2 you decided to build another one, and on Day 3 you picked this new domain. And on Day 7 s/he rested.

So what did you pick?

The brandable domain

If you picked a brandable domain then I’d like to buy you a beer. I’m proud of you. A brandable domain is something like “Twitter.com”. It’s something like “Coursehero.com” or “Koofers.com”. It’s a brother of “Problogger.net” and a cousin of “Alexa.com”. Its recognizable. It stands out.

It holds its own in a conversation across the dinner table. (Should that be the new standard?)

People learn not just from trying and failing, but from observing, sometimes subconsciously, sometimes for means of survival, what works for our peers.—Albert Bandura

The importance of a brandable domain is five-fold:

  • Unique: It stands out.
  • Recognizable: People remember it.
  • Bizarre: It’s weird enough to generate some intrigue the first time someone hears it.
  • Worth mentioning: People want to talk about weird things.
  • Worth putting on a t-shirt: Yes, you would consider wearing that logo with it’s branded image on a t-shirt.

If you picked a brandable domain I commend you because, while you won’t get immediate “direct match” traffic from Google, you will get many more returning visits because you have a pretty cool concept.

These websites are more likely to get blog comments and will inevitably build larger email followings. They may not be the best at making a quick buck, but they do have a long-term trajectory to success. Props to you for choosing this option!

The keyword-rich domain

If you picked this type of domain, you may want to watch this short video as Matt Cutts talks about how Google is changing the algorithm.

Short summary: A lot of noise and competition exists among keyword-rich domains. Google is altering the algorithm so websites with keyword-rich domains won’t get as much an advantage over similar websites with less keyword friendly domains.

If you picked a keyword-rich domain, this is my advice for you.

  • Check out onlineprofits.com: It’s a successful community that makes online profits.
  • Check howtomakemyblog.com: It’s actually an awesome how-to site by Marko Saric.
  • Check out onlinecolleges.com and literally every other domain name with some variation of the phrase “online colleges” in it. You’ll begin to see just how competitive things are getting.
  • Learn some on-page SEO: It’ll help you immensely against the waves of others like you.
  • Get used to being #2: Hey, look at how well Monster does in the shadow of Redbull.

It’s okay, as a few of these examples will show you. With your keyword-rich domain your blog might actually make that six-figure annual income you dreamed about on Day 2.

However, as time passes I can’t help but think keyword-rich domains will become a dime a dozen, and will get sifted out to the bottom of the blogosphere while unique, original concepts rise to the top. It’s a process that may be happening as you read this.

Why did we choose one option or the other?

We’re human. We don’t want the things we do to eventually lead to failure.

We want to succeed, sometimes badly, and will often consider every means necessary to do so. Sometimes this means selecting a domain we at first would have scoffed at.

Albert Bandura was a renowned Canadian psychologist. He examined the characteristics we learn in our adolescence that leads us to success or failure. From the existing Social Learning Theory, it was known four key factors affect how we learn new behavior: drives, cues, responses, and rewards.

What Bandura found, in plain words, was that those of us who are more aggressive often skip a couple steps to get to the “rewards.”

This can be dangerous.

When our aggression outweighs our engrained moral compass, we exhibit “lapses in judgement,” as Bandura called them, where we totally avoid “cues” and “responses.”

It’s these tendencies which lead us to choose a certain domain and make larger, more long-term business decisions. It’s pretty hard to say a domain doesn’t hold vibes and messages that follow our website throughout its entire existence. So next time you’re sitting at GoDaddy about to make a purchase, remember Bandura and think about the long-term implications of your choice.

Bandura became the endowed chair of social psychology at Standford University in 1974 and is believed to be the fourth most cited pyschologist of all time. Go find more of his related work on Wikipedia.

The Blogger is a 25 year old guy from Manhattan who answers 150 blog questions before breakfast and holds a world record for comment response time. Sign up to his email club if you haven’t already (jeez) and find him on the Twitter.

How to Publish Your Blog on Amazon Kindle

This guest post is by Ali Abbas of thenextgenwriter.com.

Have you published your blog on Kindle?

If not, you should do it, pronto! It’s easy, it’s productive and it’s free.

We’re not talking about publishing ebooks or PDFs, but your dynamic and regularly updated blog.

Rather surprisingly, not a lot of bloggers have considered this option hitherto, but some big guns, including The New York Times, PC Magazine, Amazon Daily, Huffington Post, and others—that realize the potential—are already there.

On a positive note, that means less competition for you.

Is it really worth the effort?

Kindle publishing for blogs has already opened the doors to myriad opportunities for many businesses that have a blog.

Amazingly, all you need to do is invest just five minutes of your precious time. Here’s what you get in return:

New readers

Millions of people use Amazon Kindle as their ereader.

So, by publishing on Kindle you’ll pull in people who might never hear about your business otherwise.

As per the International Data Corporation report, Worldwide and U.S. eReader 2012–2016 Forecast, new models of Kindle Fire are more than likely to disrupt the market once again.

So, will people really pay to read your content?

Yes!

There are several reasons, but the main ones are that it costs only 99 cents to subscribe to a blog on Kindle, and it offers added handiness. Obviously, not all the Kindle owners want to be reading ebooks all the time when they can access more vibrant and au fait weblogs.

SEO

How on earth can kindle publishing help your SEO? It does not. Apparently, it doesn’t improve your blog’s ranking in SERPs.

But it can raise your profile.

Amazon is an authority even in the eyes of Google, and having your blog there gives you more exposure.

So even if nobody subscribes to your blog via Kindle, you’re getting free publicity and people searching for relevant keywords will surely be tempted to take a look at your blog after seeing it listed on the largest online retailer.

Added income

It’s free money. You get 30% of the total price, which is set by Amazon and can be anything between $0.99 and $1.99. So if you get, say, 1000 people to subscribe to your blog via Kindle, and the price is $0.99, you’ll make $297.

It may not be that lucrative for large publications, but it’s still a decent choice for solopreneurs and bloggers who don’t want to clutter their blogs with ads.

Higher conversion rate

Kindle readers are paying to read your content and conversion rates are always higher for paid subscribers.

Unfortunately, the JavaScript and ads are stripped off Kindle-displayed blogs, and only text content, links and images are displayed. So if your Call to Action involves more than just clicking a plain link, make sure you encourage your Kindle subscribers to view the page on another device.

Feedback

If your blog’s available for Kindle, people will be able to rate it, just like they rate any other product on Amazon.

If your blog features high-quality content (which I am sure it does), this is the easiest, and arguably the most efficient way to get endorsement and feedback.

3 steps to publishing your blog on Kindle

Ready to get your blog onto the Kindle platform? Great!

Note that this functionality is currently available to the residents of the USA and the UK only.

1. Create your Kindle Publishing Account

The standard Amazon account won’t work, so you’ll need to sign up for the Kindle Publishing Account if you don’t already have one.

2. Add and publish

When you log into your Kindle publishing account, click Add Blog, and fill in the signup form.

Once you’re done adding all the info, hit Generate Blog Preview.

  1. If you get the blog preview, cool. Go to step three!
  2. If you get an error as shown in the image below, don’t get teary. Just click the Save button and then hit Return to Dashboard. Here, you’ll see your blog has been saved as a draft. Open it and try again, and this time there will be no error.

Error

Now go ahead and click the Publish button.

Don’t forget to add a screenshot (choose the most appealing page on your blog), as it will be displayed on the Amazon sales page.

At the end of the day, it should look something like this:

Published

3. Choose payment options

You’ll be redirected to a page where you can enter your address, business type etc. and choose the desired payment option. After that, your blog may take 48 to 72 hours to appear on Amazon.

How it works

To make a long story short, this is a quick self-publishing tool to help you sell your blog on the Kindle store.

Its working is similar to RSS: your updates are auto-delivered wirelessly to the Kindle and updated throughout the day.

How it looks

The only difference is that instead of just the headline, your readers can access the full text content plus most images on your blog. Moreover, the updates are downloaded to the Kindle and can be read even when the device is not connected to the internet.

A couple of moans

On a 70-30 revenue share, the bossy retailer walks away with the lion’s share and the publisher gets the smaller piece for all his hard work. That sounds cruel, but your blog is available freely on the internet … remember?

The more annoying aspect is that you can neither regulate the price, nor give away your blog subscription for free.

And in addition to the advertising, the useful social networking links for Twitter, Digg, Reddit, and Facebook are also removed> I don’t have much respect for that!

Is it really the Next Big Thing?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Yes, you can reach out to a sizeable readership through the Amazon Kindle, but don’t expect to make big bucks out of it. However it goes along, it’s a fascinating idea and part of the constant move to mobility.

Do you have any questions or suggestions about Kindle publishing for blogs? Let’s discuss them in the comments.

This guest post is by Ali Abbas. Check out his Blog if you want to: improve your writing skills, land better-paying writing gigs or learn some ‘kinky’ ways to drive traffic to your website. Ali is a young, enthusiastic freelance writer and blogger. Click here to learn more about him.

How to Establish the Right Priorities to Grow Your Blog and Profits

This guest post is by Nathalie Lussier of The Website Checkup Tool.

Here’s a harsh nugget of truth for you.

Once you get this, your blog will not only take off, it will become way more profitable. Are you ready for it?

Here it is: You don’t need more how-to’s or to-do’s… You need priorities.

As bloggers and business owners, we’re constantly introduced to cool new tricks, strategies, and techniques to grow. There’s just so much information, much of it competing, about what you need to do to make it big online.

Think webinars, SEO, social media, magic beans, WordPress plugins, guest posting, YouTube videos, list building, product launches, silver bullets, Facebook ads, Pinterest, contests, joint ventures… The list is endless.

You know you have a ton of options when it comes to growing your blog and making more money online. You just don’t have enough hours in the day to implement all of them. Not to mention that some of these tactics are likely to work better for some markets, some personalities, and some stages of development than others.

The answer you’ve been looking for is not another silver bullet, or another cool marketing strategy. It’s simple, it’s free, and it works.

It’s priorities.

How to establish the right priorities for your blog

Okay, priorities. That sounds good, but unless you’ve built a successful blog before you might not know how to set them properly.

It’s easy to model another business owner or famous blogger and just try to do what they do, because it seems to be working for them. But you need to remember that we’re all on different paths, with different experiences, and different blogs.

Unique blogs and businesses require unique priorities and strategies to be wildly profitable.

My aim here is to help you figure out what you need to do, in what order of importance, so that you’re not putting the cart before the horse.

The first step to figuring out your priorities is to take a quick assessment of where your blog and business are currently.

Let’s look at a few questions that you can quickly jot down an answer to:

  • Do you have a blog or website that you’re proud to send people to?
  • Are there enough people visiting your blog on a regular basis?
  • Do people join your email list on a consistent basis?
  • Are you blogging on a regular schedule that feels comfortable for you?
  • Have you built a network of likeminded bloggers that you can support and be supported by?
  • Does your blog employ SEO and/or are the right people finding your blog?
  • Do you have a social media presence that engages your audience and spreads your influence?

Alright, so these questions might be pushing your buttons, but they’re not meant to make you feel bad if you don’t have all of these items in place.

On the contrary, it’s important to know what you are doing and what you still haven’t gotten to, because this will inform what your priorities and schedule looks like.

What should I do first? How to decide on your top priority

I’m often asked by my clients and readers what should come first when you’re starting up a blog or online business. Do you get the website up, look for clients and customers, guest post, set up social media profiles..? I mean, it’s all so overwhelming, so how can you get it all done?

It might feel like you need to have all of these things done simultaneously, preferrably last week. But it is possible to grow a blog by taking it one step at a time. In fact, it is the only way to grow a blog.

Everyone’s blogging journey is going to be different, but here is my recommendation for establishing your priorities.

The very first thing you need to focus on when you’re building a blog is setting up your web foundation or hub. That means your blog and website, and I recommend that you get your own domain name and hosting. Then get yourself a WordPress installation and theme.

Do not spend thousands on a design quite yet, because your blog’s direction may change as you evolve.

Next, it’s time to start honing your voice by writing or creating video for your blog. I don’t recommend overcommitting to creating a ton of content just yet. Especially since your blog might not have the audience to warrant spending a ton of time in creation mode. Once you do reach a certain audience size, then it makes sense to commit to a consistent blogging schedule.

Finally, outreach comes next. Once you have your blog as a hub, you’ve practiced writing and have a bit of content on your site, it’s time to bring people into your sphere.

The outreach part is definitely where things can get hairy, so I suggest picking one or two things that you will get really good at and focusing on those.

Take, for example, two strategies that you might want to focus on: guest posting and SEO. Another set of strategies might be social media and webinars. Yet another might be joint ventures and advertising.

Just pick two!

Doing more than two types of outreach will not only burn you out, but will have you spread so thin you won’t be getting the results you’re looking for.

Now that you have all three steps handled, it’s time to iterate. The more people who come into your world and read your blog, the more clarity you will have around your topic and direction, which will inform your site’s design. This in turn will shift your writing and voice, and help you decide where to spend more time in outreach—whether that’s specific sites or strategies.

Rinse and repeat, and keep those priorities tight.

Write ’em out, and stick to your priorities

Now that you know what steps to take to really grow your blog’s online presence, you need to write out your priorities. If you don’t have your plan and priorities down in digital ink then you might as well go back to throwing spaghetti at the wall.

Keep your priorities front and center as you go about your daily tasks. If something falls into a non-priority activity list, then it’s time to take it off your todo list. If a cool new system or marketing tool comes out, ask yourself if it fits in your priorities.

I guarantee you will go much further by mastering just two outreach strategies, focusing on your home base on the web, and getting your voice honed.

Do this prioritizing exercise right now! Don’t let another week, month, or year go by without having focused priorities in your blogging career.

Let me know in the comments below what your top priority is, and what stage you’re in (building your hub, honing your voice, or outreach).

Nathalie Lussier is a digital strategist who combines original ideals with forward-thinking marketing expertise, and delivers competitive results in the online space. She helps you get techy with your business, and she’s the creator of The Website Checkup Tool.

All ProBlogger Ebooks Are $10 for the Next 10 Days Only

Today is my tenth anniversary of starting blogging and to celebrate I’m offering all ProBlogger ebooks at just $10 each—that’s a 50-90% saving on their normal price.

10 Years of Blogging

Ten years ago when I hit Publish on my first blog post, I could never imagined how that moment would change my life.

Having read my first blog only minutes before I spontaneously decided to give it a go myself—registered a Blogspot blog and quickly wrote my first post.

In that moment before I hit publish I had mixed feelings:

  • On one hand I felt excited by the potential of this new medium of blogging and wondered what it would happen.
  • On the other hand, I had many doubts—I had no technical experience, I wasn’t a great writer, I didn’t know if I had anything to say and wondered if anyone would ever read what I did write.

I had every reason not to start that first blog but for some reason felt compelled to hit Publish.

Fast-forward to today, ten years later, and I’m so glad I did!

Blogging has opened up some wonderful opportunities to meet great people, learn so much about the topics I write about and to travel and experience some amazing things.

That it has also become a business and the way that I feed my family is an unexpected bonus!

What’s made the last decade all the more satisfying to me is that I’ve been able to bring others along on the journey of making money through blogging—through starting ProBlogger in 2004.

Over 34 million readers have visited ProBlogger since that time—considerably more than the number of people who live here in Australia.

By no means has everyone of them become a full time blogger but almost every day I hear stories from readers telling me about the opportunities reading the blog posts and eBooks at ProBlogger has helped open up for them.

$10 ProBlogger Ebooks for 10 Days Only

So to help celebrate my ten-year anniversary of blogging, and to hopefully help you continue to grow in your blogging, I’ve decided to throw a little party on ProBlogger this week and to offer readers the opportunity to pick up ProBlogger ebooks at a price I’ve never gone to before.

It’s been ten years of blogging, so for the next ten days only I’m offering our ebooks at just $10 each.

Given our ebooks are normally priced at between $20 and $100, that’s a 50-90% discount, depending which ebooks you choose.

Buy them individually below or get the full library of eBooks for just $60 USD (a 76% discount).

Here are the ebooks you can choose from

31 Days to Build a Better Blog

31buy.jpgIf you have big dreams for your blog, but have been putting improving it in the “one day” basket, you’re not alone.

31 Days to Build a Better Blog is a downloadable ebook designed to help you revitalize your blog by giving you 31 tasks that will all help to turn it into the pageview powerhouse you’ve always dreamed of.

Each day in the project contains:

  • A Task: something to do that day.
  • Teaching: each day, you’ll be given great instruction on both the why and how of the task of the day.

31 Days to Build a Better Blog has been downloaded by many thousands of bloggers and has been recently updated into a second edition for 2012—discover more about this best selling ebook here.

ProBlogger’s Guide to Your First Week of Blogging

firstweekbuy.jpgThis ebook is all about helping bloggers who are in the first weeks of their blogging to get started on the right foot.

Bloggers starting out quickly discover that there’s a lot more to this medium than just setting up a blog and quickly slapping up a post or two. Your first post is just the beginning and you’re then faced with the tasks of finding readers, coming up with more post ideas and thinking about the long-term strategy of your blog.

This ebook is jam-packed with practical activities and exercises to do in your first week to make sure your blog is heading in the right direction.

Broken down into seven days, there are actually a total of 32 achievable tasks that will not only get your blog going, but that will help you develop the skills you need to achieve your potential as a blogger.

Learn more about this exciting new resource at ProBlogger’s Guide to Your First Week of Blogging.

ProBlogger’s Guide to Blogging for Your Business

blog4bizbuy.jpgThis ebook was written for two groups of people:

  • business owners who wanted to harness the power of blogging to grow their business
  • those working for businesses who’ve been given the task of blogging—but don’t know where to start.

Written by Mark Hayward, a successful business owner, activist, and blogging coach, the guide takes readers step by step through how to set up a blog, thinking through goals for a blog, developing a content strategy, finding readers and growing traffic, establishing and growing a social media footprint, and much more.

Practical tasks at the end of each of the 12 chapters let you implement Mark’s mentoring in a way that suits your business, and your customers.

Learn more about ProBlogger’s Guide to Blogging for Your Business.

Blog Wise: How to Do More with Less

blogwise-buy.jpg If you have a blog and understand the basics but are struggling to find time, motivation, or focus, Blog Wise is for you.

One of the most common obstacles to successful blogging among our readers is simply finding time. So we sat down with nine prolific and successful bloggers to find out how they not only blog successfully, but balance that with busy work, family, and social lives.

Bloggers interviewed include Heather Armstrong from Dooce, Brian Clark from CopyBlogger, Abby Larson from Style Me Pretty, Leo Babauta from Zen Habits, Gretchen Rubin from the Happiness Project, Darren Rowse from ProBlogger and Digital Photography School, and more.

These bloggers juggle a lot, but they get things done and will give you insight into what it takes to run a successful blog but also how to use your time effectively.

Learn More about this powerful ebook here.

Copywriting Scorecard for Bloggers

scorecardbuy.jpgThis ebook is designed to help you take the content featured on your blog up a notch.

Your blog posts are the cornerstone of your blog and will be the difference between you reaching your goals or not.

This scorecard resource is designed to help you analyze the most important elements of your content to make sure they’re engaging, readable, professional, and optimized for search engines.

It’s the ideal resource for all bloggers who are just starting out and want to learn the basics of SEO or those who’ve been at it a while but want to grow their search engine traffic.

Discover more about the Copywriting Scorecard for Bloggers.

The Blogger’s Guide to Online Marketing

marketingbuy.jpgThis kit is all about helping you to turn your blog into a business.

The Blogger’s Guide to Online Marketing—31 Steps to a Profitable Blog is a comprehensive, 31-chapter blueprint for your blog’s ongoing profitability, from the ground up.

Backed by an extensive library of practical templates, printable worksheets, and in-practice example documents, this kit delivers all you need to make your blog turn a profit now, and over the long term.

Discover more about the Blogger’s Guide to Online Marketing.


Can You REALLY Make Money Blogging? [7 Things I Know About Making Money from Blogging]

Every now and again I am pulled aside at a conference or am emailed and/or tweeted by someone wanting to get the “real” scoop on whether it is possible to make money blogging.

  • Is it really possible to make a living from blogging?
  • Is it just a small number of people making money from blogging?
  • Is it only really possible to make money blogging if you write about the topic of making money blogging?

I completely understand the questions and would probably want to add one more:

  • If it is really possible to make money blogging, how likely is it that you’ll succeed?

I’ve written many times here on ProBlogger about this in the hope of giving a realistic picture of the topic, but I think it is worth touching on again because there is a lot of misinformation out there right now.

On one hand, we see hype on the topic. Periodically someone will claim to be able to make millions from blogging quickly. These claims are usually accompanied with the release of a product or service (i.e. they are marketing spin).

On the other hand, I periodically see people writing about how it is impossible to make money blogging (or that anyone claiming to be full time is either a scammer, a liar, or is selling something on the topic of making money online).

The reality is somewhere between these two extremes.

7 Things I know about making money from blogging

1. It is possible

I’ve been blogging for just under ten years and for nine of those I’ve been making money blogging. It started out as just a few dollars a day but in time it gradually grew to becoming the equivalent of a part-time job, then a full-time job, and more recently into a business that employs others.

I used to talk about the specific levels of my earnings when I started ProBlogger but felt increasingly uncomfortable about doing so (it felt a little voyeuristic and a little like a big-headed boasting exercise and I didn’t really see the point in continuing to do it)— but my income has continued to grow each year since I began.

On some levels I was at the right place at the right time—I got into blogging early (in 2002 … although I felt I was late to it at the time) and have been fortunate enough to have started blogs at opportune times on the topics I write about.

However I know of quite a few other bloggers who make a living from blogging, many of whom have not been blogging anywhere near as long as I have.

For some it is a hobby that keeps them in coffee; for others it is the equivalent of a part time job/supplementing other income from “real jobs” or helping their family out as they attend to other commitments (raising a family). For others it is a full-time thing.

I’ll give you some examples below.

2. There is no single way to monetize blogs

Recently at our Melbourne ProBlogger event I featured numerous Australian bloggers in our speaker lineup who fit somewhere in the part-time to full-time spectrum. They included:

The year before, we had others, including:

Most of these bloggers are full-time (or well on the way to being full-time bloggers). They come from a wide array of niches and all monetize quite differently—doing everything from selling advertising, to having membership areas, to selling ebooks, to running affiliate promotions, to promoting their offline businesses, to selling themselves as speakers, to having book deals, and so on. Many have a combination of different income streams.

They are all also Australian, and are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is happening here in Australia—the same thing is being replicated around the globe.

There are many ways to monetize a blog. To give you a quick sense of the many methods check out this “money map” I created a year or so back, which outlines just some that I brainstormed (click to enlarge).

Ways to Make Money Blogging.png

I also recorded this free hour-and-twenty-minute webinar giving an introduction to the topic.

3. There are no formulas

From time to time, people have released products that claim to be formulas for success when it comes to making money online. They outline steps to follow to “guarantee” you’ll make money.

In my experience there is no formula.

Each full-time blogger I’ve met in the last ten years has forged their own path and has a unique story to tell. They have often acted on hunches and made surprising discoveries along the way.

There are certainly similarities in many of the stories but each blogger has their own personality and style, each one is reaching a different audience, and each niche tends to monetize differently.

The key lesson is to be aware of what others are doing and to learn what you can from each other, but to also be willing to forge your own path as well!

4. Many niches monetize

One common critique of the topic of monetizing of blogs is that the only people making money from blogging are the ones writing about how to make money blogging.

This is simply not true.

In the above list of speakers from our Melbourne event you’ll notice I included topic/niche of each blogger. None sell products teaching others to make money blogging—all are on blogging on “normal,” every-day topics.

My own experience of having a blog about blogging (ProBlogger) and a blog about Photography is that it is my photography blog that is by far the most profitable blog (I’d estimate it’s ten times more profitable).

I’ve interviewed numerous full-time bloggers of late in a webinar series including:

Interestingly, none of them make money by teaching others to make money online. Sarah largely blogs about health and wellbeing, Tsh blogs about simple living, and Ana blogs about woodwork.

5. Most bloggers don’t make a full-time living from blogging

Every time I’ve surveyed readers of ProBlogger about their earnings, we’ve seen that those making money from blogging are in the minority.

In a recent survey of 1500 ProBlogger readers we asked about their monthly earnings. What you’re seeing below is the spread of earnings from readers who are attempting to make money blogging (note: not all ProBlogger readers attempt to make money, so not all are included in these results).

Keep in mind that ProBlogger readers are generally newish bloggers—about half of those who took this survey had been blogging for less than two years.

So of those trying to make money blogging, 10% don’t make anything and 28% are making less than 30 cents per day. A total of 63% make less than $3.50 per day.

Let’s be clear—most bloggers who are attempting to make money are not making a living from blogging.

Having said that, of the 1508 bloggers surveyed 65 (4%) are making over $10,000 per month (over six figures per year) and a further 9% were doing over $1000 per month (which is at least a part-time level of income).

My feeling, having been attending blogging conferences for six or so years now, is that the number of full-time bloggers is on the rise, and there are actually quite a few more people now at least making the equivalent of a couple of days’ work a week in income from their blogs.

However, most bloggers don’t make much.

6. It takes time to build

When I dig down into the stats from the survey on income levels above, and do some analysis of those who are in the top income bracket, it is fascinating to look at how long they’ve been blogging.

85% of those in that top income bracket have been blogging for four years or more. Almost all of the others had been blogging for three or four years.

This certainly was my own experience. I blogged for a year without making money and once I started monetizing it was around two years of gradual increases before I approached a full-time income level. It would have been four years before I joined that top bracket of income (over $10,000 per month).

Blogging for money is not a get-rich-quick thing. It takes time to build an audience, to build a brand, and to build trust and a good reputation.

And of course even with four or five years of blogging behind you, there’s no guarantee of a decent income.

7. It takes a lot of work

Longevity is not the only key to a profitable blog. The other common factor that I’ve noticed in most full-time bloggers is that they are people of action.

Passivity and blogging don’t tend to go hand in hand.

Blogging as “passive income stream” is another theme that we hear in many make-money-blogging products, however it is far from my own experience.

I’ve worked harder on my business over the last ten years than I’ve worked on anything in my life before this. It is often fun and gives me energy, but it takes considerable work to create content on a daily basis, to keep abreast of what’s going on in the community, to monitor the business side of things, to create products to sell, to build an audience, and so on.

The key is to build blogs that matter to people, that are original, interesting, and helpful. But this doesn’t just happen—it takes a lot of work.

Conclusions

Yes, it is possible to make money blogging. There is an ever-increasing number of people making money from blogging at a part-time to full-time level —however they are still in the minority.

Those who do make a living from blogging come from a wide range of niches, however one of the most common factors between them is that they’ve been at it for a long while.

How long have you been blogging? Are you looking to make money from it—and have you already? Share your experiences with us in the comments.

How to Target 25-40 Year-olds Online

This guest post us by Genevieve Flintham of www.stagweb.co.uk.

Pictures of the day’s events, winter landscapes, and memorable quotes. Titles laden with puns, facts, and intrigue. An architectural layout that’s accomplished, savvy, and uncomplicated.

Each target group demands a different set of things when it comes to websites and blogs, but in this instance we’re going to look purely at users aged between 25 and 40. This is my target market. With ten years of experience targeting this commonsensical group, we’ve made some discoveries through our two blogs, The Antler for grooms-to-be and best men, and the GoHen Blog for brides-to-be and maids of honour.

Here’s what we’ve learned.

1. Keep it informative

As with targeting any group online, it’s important to first understand this age group. They’ve grown up with technology and sales pitches hitting them from every side and are, to some degree, immune to the typical advertising approaches.

Go Hen

As a first piece of advice, ensure that any form of engagement, whether it’s a blog post, advertorial or product description, remains fairly non-promotional.

We’ve found that people in this age group prefer instructional, informational posts; the most-viewed posts on our blog are Top tips for your Sunday hen party and Stag weekend planning—managing number changes. If you’re targeting a younger demographic, less-wordy posts tend to be favoured, such as those including bullet points, infographics, and pictures.

The Antler

2. Tell them (nearly) everything about you

Another factor we’ve found when targeting this particular age group is that the bare facts ain’t gonna cut it.

We make sure to state all the facts (including that we’re financially protected, our contact details, testimonials, etc.) whenever we get the opportunity. Make information about yourself readily available and if you’ve got great credentials, let them know!

This demographic tends to be wise to companies that could rip them off and have seen a fair share of reputed companies go bust, so they need to know that they can trust you. To back ourselves up, many of our blog posts link to the following page:

Stag web

3. Appreciate that it’s a great target market to have

There are many benefits to having a target audience of 25-40 year-olds.

One example is that picture placement seems to have little effect; we’ve spent years trying various positions of quality pictures and call-to-action pictures, but the resulting enquiries for each page haven’t changed with each different position.

As well as that, they’re wise to the testimonies of the company—great for genuine, successful businesses, since this audience is able to weed out the fakes.

4. Mix old and new

Only slightly less tech-savvy than their 18-25 counterparts, 25-40 year olds are spending increasingly more time online. Many people have suggested that offline advertising will soon become redundant, but Direct Marketing News does point out that when trying to reach the 20- to 45-year-old demographic that “word of mouth has always been a powerful marketing tool.”

Word of mouth has transformed to be word-of-mouse now though, and if you’re looking at online advertising then mix in the elements of the old (aiming to get people talking about your product) with parts of the new (finding innovative ways to target consumers).

If you don’t mind paying for social media advertising, the best fairly new way to target specifically 25-40 year olds might be to employ the use of Facebook hypertargeting; when going through the advertisement setup process, select this age group as the only ones to see your ad.

Overall, to avoid making any egregious errors when targeting the 25-40 age demographic, ensure that your content is informative, your company values are reflected, and that you bring contemporary elements into a traditional mix.

Do you target 25-40-year-olds? What extra tips can you share with us?

This is a guest post by Genevieve Flintham of www.stagweb.co.uk.

Blog Design for ROI Rule 2: Highlight Your Key Content

This guest post is by Gab Goldenberg, author of The Advanced SEO Book.

Previously in the Blog Design for ROI series, I discussed the importance of prioritizing your email optin form within your page layout.

The next best use of space in your design is to highlight your key content.

Why does highlighting your key content matter?

There are a few reasons why this is important.

  • It helps convert one-off visitors into repeat visitors: If someone browses a few posts and realizes that they really enjoy the content, they’ll keep coming back for more. This is one reason why many blogs struggle to build a loyal following—they leave it to more-or-less random chance whether someone sees their best posts.
  • It helps repeat readers keep digging into your archives: This way, they deepen their knowledge of the subject, and associate that education with you.
  • This highlighting is also an easy, practical way to give visitors an idea of what you blog about.

When I say you should highlight key content, I don’t just mean posts, I mean your key posts and key blog categories. You can pick key categories either by popularity of the category’s posts and/or frequency of posting on that topic.

In the main content area

In this regard, I think ProBlogger’s design circa end of 2005 was a brilliant, successful approach to the problem:

Problogger header highlights key posts, categories and news/resources

Beneath the logo and banner ad, there are three visually dominant content blocks. The prominent position is one part of the story.

Another part of the success story here was the specific content featured.

  • The first block, aptly entitled Introduction – Key Articles, featured core posts. It did something quite clever that went beyond that, though—after five specific posts, it offered a single link to drive people further into other posts—the Top 20 Posts at Problogger. And it offered a broad review of past experience—a summary of the best content, if you will—in the seventh link, Lessons I’ve Learnt.
  • The second block, Tips and Hints – Toolbox, listed core categories on Problogger that still represent the blog’s topics accurately to this day—advice on publishing ads, blog design, writing and marketing.
  • The third block, for miscellaneous items, provided valuable resources like interviews, case studies and tools, as well as miscellaneous info about ProBlogger like ProBlogger News, ProBlogger In The News and a Disclaimer.

I don’t know if it was deliberate at the time, but to me the content in those blocks is arranged in increasing order of expertise. Beginners can read, “What is a blog?” Intermediate bloggers can dig through the archives to satisfy their curiosity and deepen their knowledge. Experts can see interviews and case studies with particular details, as well as tools for for implementation.

In the sidebar

Another popular place—though probably less effective—to highlight a blog’s top content is the sidebar.

Here’s how Copyblogger did it back in the day.

Copyblogger in 2006

And you’ll see that this is still where CopyBlogger highlights his top content today:

Copyblogger 2012

While CopyBlogger didn’t also link to category pages in 2006, you’ll see the design comes around and does this later, with the categories linked to above the Popular Articles section. Again, he enables people to go deeper into his subject matter and deepen their knowledge.

Email form + top content = win?

Another aspect which I like about Copyblogger’s positioning of the top content in the sidebar is that it’s right next to his email optin form.

One best practice for optin forms is to provide a [lightbox / popover] link to a sample email so people can preview what they’re signing up to. This advice comes from those well-known conversion experts, the Eisenberg brothers, founders of FutureNow. Here’s a look at their optin form.

FutureNow Optin Email form

Caveat: I said that I like this association of the email form with links to key content, because I think it’s similar to providing a sample newsletter as advocated by conversion rate gurus like the Eisenberg brothers. I haven’t tested it myself, though, so I don’t know if the analogy (sample newsletter link = top blog post links) holds true.

Raise ROI by highlighting your key content

After your email optin form, the most important element of your blog that you need to devote space to is your key content. It shows what you blog about, builds your loyal and subscribed audience, and helps people explore your archives.

Your key content is not just articles, but also categories and additional resources like tools and case studies.

Organizing the key content call-out by the intended audience’s degree of expertise is a practical way to make multiple audiences happy.

Placing the key content near your email optin form gives people a preview of what they’ll get in the newsletter, and may increase subscriptions.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these tips in the comments. Have you tried these approaches? How did they work?

Next time, we’ll look at integrating the community you’ve built around your blog into the design of the blog itself. See you then!

Gab Goldenberg wrote The Advanced SEO Book – and you can get a free chapter here. Gab and Internet Marketing Ninjas, the folks behind the Blog Design for ROI series here on Problogger, are offering to mail you a free print copy of the Blog Design for ROI guide as a small book. Get your free copy from seoroi.com/blog-design-for-roi/ .