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Why You’re Terrified to Write a Guest Post, and How to Beat the Fear

This guest post is by Ryan Biddulph of Cashwithatrueconscience.com.

I know. You are beyond terrified to publish a guest post on an authority blog. It took me years to get the gumption to submit a post to problogger.net. Yep, it took me years. To even think about submitting a post. Then, after thinking about it, I finally decided to turn out the guest post and submit it. Success!

But it took a while because I was terrified to write a guest post for one specific reason.

I feared receiving hyper-critical comments from strangers. Really, I was terrified about seeing different opinions or snide comments, or having someone take apart my post like a roast chicken at a family dinner.

This fear was very real, so real in fact, that I refused to even think about submitting a guest post for many years. Of course this held my online businesses back big time, because hey, look at the size of the ProBlogger audience.

Fear is funny. You can either be held captive by fear, or you can use the fear for your benefit, by growing from it. It’s your choice. Every time.

Getting over the fear

Getting over the fear of criticism from the comments field is not easy. It is quite uncomfortable, really, but one thing you will learn quickly is this: if you want to grow you need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

If you want to submit the guest post, get it approved, attract more readers and make money with your blog, well, all of these benefits reside on the other side of your fears.

You must accept this idea to become successful.

Practical tip

Here is a neat little mantra which can help you get past the fear of criticism. Use it frequently.

“All about them, nothing to do with me.”

That is it. Repeat the mantra a few times. Embrace the idea that a commenter’s opinion is their viewpoint, which has to do entirely with them. Their viewpoint has nothing to do with you, because it is their viewpoint, not your viewpoint.

It can seem like a Herculean task, attempting to get past the fear of criticism. I know, you likely hate receiving negative comments. I do. But you need to move away from taking things personally if you plan to grow your blog readership at a quick clip.

The tendency to enter your cocoon

After reading a few negative comments from strangers who read your guest post, and disagree with it, you’ll want to run back to your lil’ comfy blog. You never want to deal with these rude, boorish commenters, who “know nothing about blogging”, so you stop submitting guest posts.

This is a mistake, entering your safety cocoon, your blog, because you will attract new readers, share your talents with the world and make money online by leveraging your presence.

Leveraging your presence means submitting guest posts to blogs with massive readerships. So, resist the urge to sprint to your comfort cocoon when you are angry at receiving criticism.

Where the big money is made

Is the criticism you receive in the comments field true? Is your ego blinding you? Are you simply angry at someone who makes a point which is true, which would put more readers in your RSS, and money in your pocket? You can dismiss people without tact but you can never dismiss the truth—at least, you can’t if you want to grow as a blogger.

The big blogging bucks are made if you can embrace all criticism, sift through the garbage, and take out the gold. Remember, a negative comment is a person’s opinion, a viewpoint. It is a suggestion. So, accept or reject the suggestion, and simply embrace the sting that might arise as you go through the sifting process.

Practice

Practice makes perfect in the fielding criticism department. Submit guest posts to authority blogs. Read the comments. Respond when you can but make sure to observe all manner of comments, and the responses or reactions which arise from within. Your blog’s RSS count will thank you for it.

Are you terrified to receive negative comments on your guest posts? Let’s talk about it in the coments.

Ryan Biddulph helps entrepreneurs create value and build connections to grow their home based opportunity. Please subscribe to his blog Click Here.

Do Search Engines Love Opinion Posts As Much As We Do?

This guest post is by Helen Hoefele of Figmentations.com.

Is the goal of your blogging efforts is to make money, to raise money, to sell or promote a product or service, or simply to get your message out?

Regardless, the one thing that every blogger needs to pay attention to, whether you’re excited about it or not, is the importance of creating high quality content to keep both your readers and the search engines happy.

We all know that Google has been favoring sites with high quality content over sites with low quality content. Sites consisting of low quality or duplicate content and/or employing manipulative SEO practices in order to unfairly influence site rankings have lost ground in their search engine ranking results.

What many people may not realize is that “not creating low quality content” does not necessarily mean you are creating high quality content.

So let’s take a closer look at what high quality content, and ultimately high value content, can mean. In particular, let’s consider where opinion-editorial (op-ed) writing falls on the quality scale.

At face value, because op-eds are generally subjective rather than objective in nature, it may not be clear whether or not they count as high quality content for blog SEO purposes.

For SEO-quality-related questions like this, I would recommend asking yourself this question, as per SearchEngineLand.com, about the writing you want to publish: “Do you offer real value, something of substance to visitors, anything unique, different, useful and that they won’t find elsewhere?” If your material meets those criteria, and of course you avoid any questionable SEO practices intended to manipulate rankings, it should be clear that you do not have low quality content.

As most industry observers state, if you write for readers and not for search engines, you should be fine. So, yes, opinions can be considered high quality content for SEO purposes.

However, we shouldn’t stop there; there are more questions to ask. When deciding whether or not to express your opinions in your writing, the better question to ask is: Is there value in expressing opinions beyond just SEO value? A simple answer of “yes” does not suffice here. For that, let’s take a closer look at value.

Low value

In any given blog post, if a reader disagrees with your opinion, especially if it’s unexpected to you, there is value for you to delve into understanding why.

More likely, though, any discussion starting from a place of vehement disagreement is more than likely to devolve into an endless circular debate resulting in anger or frustration on both sides with no common understanding or resolution ever achieved. There is not much value in alienating readers, unless your goal is to filter out unwelcome readers from your audience or perhaps, if skillfully done, evolve your tribe from becoming too much of an echo chamber.

Superficial value

Even if you could write an opinion piece with a catchy title that ends up ranking high and gets a lot of social mentions, that doesn’t automatically mean you have created high quality content. And even if that piece were to go viral, that does not guarantee conversion, as is being shown time and time again.

Anything that attracts attention but results in a high bounce rate and low time-on-site numbers is nothing more than wasted opportunity to provide true value to potentially interested readers.

Missed value

At the same time, high quality opinion pieces that do not rank high due to poor writing, poor search engine optimization, and/or poor after-publication social sharing will miss the mark, too. Good ideas, as with useful opinions, absolutely need to be paired with good SEO practices and effective social sharing in order to get the exposure they rightly deserve.

Practical value

On the other hand, you could ask: if your reader readily agrees with your expressed opinion, is anything of value accomplished in still stating that opinion?

Social media was used heavily in the recent U.S. Presidential election. Yet, it likely did little to actually sway any already-committed points of view. All that such social media outreach achieved was: reinforce the base; exert peer pressure; or generate social proof among friends, family, or acquaintances. While that did have a considerable impact on the get-out-to-vote initiatives, it did nothing to change anything about the world—it did not improve the electoral process, or unify the country, or solve any of the country’s much-debated problems.

Value-added value

In the end, getting good exposure for a specific opinion aimed at a targeted audience is not the only game in town. A quote from Chris Brogan and Julien Smith’s book (which has largely inspired this post), The Impact Equation, sums it up nicely:

“Your opinions may be helpful and interesting, but unless they are specifically useful to your audience, you are not building something of significant or lasting value.”

Opinions about another person’s ideas become especially valuable when they help evolve and spread that idea to others who will keep it alive and do something with it.

Bottom line

In the end, while Google might not be able to distinguish between these different value levels (yet), your readers can. Remember, you are writing for your readers and not for the search engines.

Each person’s blog and reason for blogging is different. What works for you and your audience may or may not work for someone else’s. Many times you won’t even know what will or won’t work until you test it out. Always experiment. Don’t fear making any potential minor miss-steps, as you will find that most audiences are quite forgiving.

Why not test each of these value theories out with your own blog over the next few weeks? Try these tests:

  • Write a rant: After sleeping on it and making sure it isn’t unnecessarily offensive or regretful, consider posting it to see how your readers react in comments, shares, and subscription levels. Do they engage or do they leave?
  • Write something generic about a trending topic found on SocialMention. Take some time to formulate a catchy title. Share on social sites as you normally would. Then check your stats to compare your bounce rates and time-on-site metrics for that post with a popular but more thought-provoking post from your site.
  • Choose a popular blog post, either yours or someone else’s. Promote it on your favorite social sharing sites but experiment with different social media messages accompanying that link, with some messages well written and others less well written. Observe the importance of effective messaging as seen in the number of shares and re-tweets.
  • Write an opinion piece that you know everyone will agree with, then ask for comments and feedback. Compare the quality and emotion level generated by the generic opinion post versus an original thought-provoking opinion post or even comments against the rant piece mentioned in the first point above.
  • Take some time and formulate a useful opinion piece or blog comment—not something that’s an off-the-cuff reaction, but a unique, thoughtful response, perhaps taking into account comments or opinions that others already left on that post or topic. Assess the quality of feedback you receive.

Expressing unique opinions has value and should easily count as high quality content for SEO purposes. Never forget that opinion writing can provide a lot more than just SEO value, too.

In the end, writing a useful and thought-provoking post is not only more interesting for your readers to read, but more interesting for you to write as well. Why not put the power of the keyboard to work for you?

In her spare time, Helen Hoefele shares her thoughts and opinions via her personal blog at Figmentations.com. By day, she is a productive member on the Inbound Marketing team at a NJ-based SEO services company.

The Post-writing Rules I Always Break. Do You?

This guest post is by Kate Toon Copywriter.

I have an admission; I suffer from several deep-rooted blog-writing afflictions.

For years I thought it was just me, that I was the only one. Lately, though, I’ve realised that I’m not alone.

Yes, I’ve read all those “15 rules of blog writing” posts, but I just keep breaking them. I’m not a tween, I’m not a Gen Y; I am a fully (over)grown copywriting female. I have no excuses.

So let me be a voice for all those bloggers who, like me, are ostracised in this cruel grammatically correct, rule-driven world.

I share my story in the hope that it helps other writers.

How it all began

My parents sent me to an arty school—it wasn’t Montessori or Steiner, but we seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time playing music, dancing around with floaty scarves and learning italic handwriting. The teachers took the “enjoyment over correction approach” to reading and writing. So after several years of schooling I still could barely write my name, but when I did, it was in a beautiful mediaeval script.

Of course I loved it at the time; when you’re eight, who gives a jelly snake about conjugating verbs? I was happy enough making a human body (including organs) out of Play-Doh. But now I curse their stupid progressive schooling ways!

Here are some of the issues I’ve been left with:

I make typos

Although I have a rather good English degree from a relatively posh university and have been a copywriter for many years, I still can’t spell.

I struggle with even the easiest words and sometimes get complete “word blindness,” where I’ve written a word so often it just looks wrong. (Lawyer anyone?)

I often Google words before I enter them, just to be extra sure.

Writing a Facebook status update is fraught with panic as I post only to realise seconds later that I’ve spelt “realize” incorrectly.

If you’re in this camp with me, may I suggest the following:

  • Don’t write tweets or status updates when you’re in a rush. Take it seriously, or your readers will eat you alive.
  • Don’t send a status update from your iPhone as you’re more likely to make a mistake.
  • Do write your status updates in a text document first and then cut and paste them into whatever platform you’re using. Then at least the really obvious mistakes will be picked up by spell checker.
  • Do write a big batch of status updates at the start of the month and send them off to a proofreader to correct. Then you can safely upload one each day/week.

I’m ungrammatical

I know my nouns from my adjectives, and my verbs from my adverbs, but I’m prone to bending the grammar rules, sometimes to breaking point. Fellow sufferers, here are a few grammar basics that I think it’s okay to break (but don’t tell my proofreader):

  • Starting sentences with “but” or “and”: Although you don’t want to overdo it, the occasional sentences that begin with “but” or “and” are, in my opinion, no big deal.
  • Ending sentences with prepositions: Occasionally it just sounds better to put the preposition slap bang at the end of your sentence. Compare, for example: “They don’t have a leg to stand on” with “They don’t have a leg upon which to stand.” Or as Winston Churchill wrote, “This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.”
  • Using fragments: As long as your fragment clearly communicates a complete thought, it’s a great tool to create pauses and give your ideas great emphasis.

My English isn’t all that plain

I like using odd and slightly unusual words in my blog posts; perhaps it’s the latent poet in me.

Is this a bad thing? Well, I’d argue a firm “No.”

You see, while I’m all for keeping things short and simple, I also believe that it’s important to inject some personality into your copy now and again. Too much plain English and your writing just sounds, well, plain (and possibly a little bit dull).

I think I’m funny

“Everybody thinks they have good taste and a sense of humour but they couldn’t possibly all have good taste.”—Nora Ephron

I often try to inject humour into my blog posts, even when they’re about really serious stuff like SEO. I’ve been warned against this time and time again.

“Not everyone will get it!” they cry. “You’re bound to offend someone!” they shriek.

Well, if I offend, I offend.

Not everyone is going to like your blog. But if you inject your own personal taste, humour and style, some people will love it (and, yes, others may well hate it). But I’d rather have 200 avid followers loving what I write than 500 people who were mildly interested.

I use slang

I’m a big fan of slang. In fact, I think it’s awesome.

I know that seeing some teen speak in a grown-up blog can often be the cringeworthy equivalent of seeing your dad drunk dancing at your 17th birthday party.

If you use slang carefully and in a slightly tongue-in-cheek way, it can add a certain je ne sais quoi to your writing.

However, if you intend to use slang regularly I suggest you hire a 13-year-old to read everything you write before you post it.

I get emotional

I like to write about things I’m passionate about. Subjects that annoy me. Websites that are woeful. Clients who are horrible. Things I find amusing.

Sometimes that causes controversy. I’ve been sent hate mail about a poem I once wrote and published online. I’ve been insulted on Twitter by a fellow copywriter who took offence to a blog post. (He thought it was about him—it wasn’t.)

While I never actively seek to offend, insult, or discriminate against anyone, the blog posts on my business website represent my opinions. They’re not a sanitised, client-friendly version of things. Again, what I write might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s my cup of tea and therefore I think my enthusiasm and passion shines through.

So there you go. If you’ve read this post and think you’re suffering from similar symptoms, you too could be a victim of blogrulebreakingitus. Please share your faults with us in the comments. It’s only by working together that we can get through these terrible afflictions. Blog rule breakers of the world unite!

Kate is an award-winning SEO and advertising copywriter with over 18 years’ experience. She’s also a well-respected SEO consultant, information architect, strategist, hula hooper and Creme Egg lover based in Sydney, Australia.

Blogging in Brief: Ebooks, Print Books, Conferences and More

From what I can tell, most bloggers are off to a flying start this year. Lots of great discussions going on on social media, and some interesting plans in the works for many…

Launching an ebook in 2013?

If you answered “yes” to that question, take a look at this post from Shayne, who helps me with both dPS and ProBlogger products.

This post contains some key issues that I think most bloggers probably don’t look at in detail before we launch an ebook. We’re so excited to get our products out there that we could, unwittingly, be undermining their success.

Shayne looks at the issue from a really strategic viewpoint in this post. I hope it helps you!

Blogger in print … and on tour

Congratulations to Matt Kepnes, who’s released a print book through Penguin: How to Travel the World on $50 a Day.

This is another great example of what can happen when you build a strong brand and following online. If it’s something that interests you, take a look at our guides for becoming a print book author:

Not only that, but Matt’s heading off on a book tour of the States during February. So if you’re in a city he’s visiting, head down and say hello—he’s published the tour dates on his blog. And tell him Darren sent you!

Conference planning 2013

We announced this week that this year’s ProBlogger Training Event will be held on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. But we’re not the only ones to have released conference details recently.

Four Simple Traffic Strategies for a Post-Panda and -Penguin World

This guest post is by Lisa Angelettie.

For many years, there were bloggers who could follow a few basic SEO rules, publish a post, wait for Google to spider and rank it, and watch the traffic flow in.

In fact, many of these bloggers made a living primarily from the incoming traffic that Google sent them. All that rapidly and dramatically ended for many businesses after Google’s Panda and Penguin updates.

Did these bloggers commit an online business blunder? Absolutely. How many times have you heard that you should never depend on one source of traffic to your website? I know I’ve heard it about a million times over the years, but the reality is that a lot of bloggers don’t really know how to actively get traffic to their sites from other than the search engines.

Here are a few blog promotion essentials to get traffic flowing to your posts from a variety of sources and none of them have anything to do with search engines reliance.

1. Share posts on your social media networks

Bloggers have one big advantage that many business owners who started years ago don’t, and that’s the leverage of social media. After you’ve written and published your post, naturally, the very first thing you need to do is to announce that post to the folks in your social media networks. Remember, though, that if you write a post at 2am, you’ll want to wait to announce it to social media sites when your followers are most active.

The social sites that have been proven to generate traffic include: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. Make sure that you have included social media sharing buttons on your blog, too—many bloggers still haven’t. WordPress now offers social media integration through their WordPress plugin Jetpack, you could use Wibiya’s social media sharing bar or try a variety of other free social media WordPress plugins available at WordPress.org.

One more note: I can’t talk about social media without talking about SEO. One can influence and improve the other.

Search engines like Google have been saying for a long time now that social signals matter when it comes to search rankings. So the more you build up your social influence with more tweets, more likes, more shares, and more pins of your content, the more likely Google is likely to view your content as authoritative and rank it accordingly. The Bing search engine now includes social influence ranking tool Klout in their social sidebar.

Bottom line: if you’ve been avoiding it or playing around with it, it’s time to get serious about becoming more social.

2. Announce posts to your circle of influence

This is a strategy that many bloggers avoid like the plague. One of the cool things about blogging is that you can write what you want, when you want, and try a lot of cool things on your blog without having to get anyone’s approval.

Unfortunately that “alone on an island” approach doesn’t work when it comes to getting actual readers to your blog. It takes a village to raise a blog!

Identify and build a circle of people who you can let know that your blog post is live and will share it with their lists and their social media communities. The circle doesn’t have to be big. Even if you only know two people, that will put your content in front of a lot more eyes than doing it all on your own. These could be friends who also blog, coaches you’ve worked with, or alliances you’ve made on social media.

To communicate with my circle of influence, I created a very small private group on Facebook, invited them to join, and now we announce each other’s articles there so we can easily share and link to them. There are also a few other more prominent bloggers who I send a personal email to and they share my content. One blogger recently mentioned me to his list which resulted in over 142 confirmed subscribers to my list over a 48 hour period. That’s great for one email!

Think of two people you could reach out to today and ask them would they be willing to enter a mutual blog promotion relationship. Most bloggers are going to say yes.

3. Promote posts on blogging communities

I use to think blogging communities were a waste of time. I was wrong. Many of the bloggers who are getting major traffic to their sites are very active in blogging communities and have been for a long time. These are the types of like-minded people that you want to meet and start building relationships with.

  • Promote their content on these communities.
  • Friend them on the communities.
  • Share their posts on social media.
  • Write guest posts for them.

When you do, you’ll begin to become a part of a “clique” of bloggers who support and champion each other.

Communities that are my favorites include BlogEngage.com, Bloggers.com, Inbound.org, FamousBloggers.net, Blokube.com and ViralContentBuzz.com.

4. Announce your posts to your list

The biggest ambassadors of my content are my email subscribers, but oddly enough, a lot of bloggers forget all about this. Some bloggers have tunnel vision and are only worried about “new traffic” coming to their sites, but an essential source of traffic to any blog is return visitors.

Return visitors clearly enjoy your content and are much more likely to give word-of-mouth referrals, share your content to their social networks, comment on your posts and act on any call to actions you may have included in your articles.

To get subscriber traffic, make sure that you offer ample opportunities and incentives for visitors to opt into your list: top of site, right sidebar, after posts, in guest posts, etc.

It’s also important to give subscribers more than one opportunity to read your posts. For example, I send out a newsletter that features one new article on my site at the top of the week, but then I send another email towards the end of the week giving a wrap up of all the articles that have been published on the blog in the last few days. This helps ensure that I get regular return visitor traffic to my site every week.

What are some of the blog promotion strategies you use to drive more traffic to your site? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Lisa Angelettie is a copywriting and content marketing strategist who teaches entrepreneurs how to make more money with web content. Download a copy of her free eBook Publishing Guide or visit her site for more tips like these.

11 Reasons Your Blog is on a Road to Nowhere (And What to Do About It)

This guest post is by Henneke Duistermaat of Enchanting Marketing.

You’re smart.

You got drive.

You’re blogging, and blogging, and blogging. You’re producing good content. But somehow your efforts are not rewarded.

Your enthusiasm for checking your traffic stats is gone. Because the trickle of traffic makes you feel down, lonely, and maybe a little desperate. Are you wasting your time?

Let’s be honest.

Building a blog is hard work. It’s tough. And you need to be business savvy. That’s right. You need to treat your blog as a business. You need to get serious about marketing your blog. Because if you don’t market your blog, it’s going to remain lonely out there.

Let’s have a look at 11 common blog marketing mistakes. Avoid these mistakes, and you’ll gain more traffic, more shares, and more comments. And eventually, you’ll be able to make serious money.

Mistake 1: You’ve jumped straight in

Of course, it’s great to get started.

Get a domain name, a web host, a theme, a topic you love writing about; and you’re ready to go. Right?
I don’t think so. You need to know what your audience likes; what they want to read about, what they’re passionate about.

Before launching Social Triggers, Derek Halpern knew exactly what his audience wanted: fact-based advice on how to grow web traffic. That’s why he combines academic research with blogging tips.

Before you start your blog, research your audience. Read comments on the big blogs your audience is reading. Which topics resonate most? What are readers passionate about? What questions do they ask? What do they struggle with?

Mistake 2: Your audience is too diverse

When you’re writing your blog posts, who do you write for? Are you trying to write for as big a crowd as possible? Are you trying to appeal to as many readers as you can?

Writing to a crowd makes your writing bland; writing to one person makes you engaging and fascinating.
Start by describing your ideal reader. Have you seen how the Word Chef describes her ideal client? You don’t have to publish your ideal reader. But you need to know who you’re writing for.

When you write your next blog post, imagine writing to just one reader: your ideal reader.

Mistake 3: You’ve picked the wrong topic

Do you think you need to avoid the big topics, because they’re too competitive? Think again. If you pick a topic nobody has written about, then most probably hardly anyone is interested in your topic.

The truth is: the big topics are the topics people want to read about. Finance. Personal development. Blogging. Parenting. Marketing. Gadgets.

Yep, those topics are competitive. Hugely competitive. But you can be sure there’s an audience waiting for you. You just have to figure out how you’re going to stand out from the other blogs. And that’s why you need a purple cow.

Mistake 4: You don’t have a purple cow

A purple cow is what makes you different. If you’d see a purple cow, it would draw attention, wouldn’t it? You’d be fascinated by it and you’d remember it, wouldn’t you? That’s why you need a purple cow—a term coined by Seth Godin.

Why would people read you blog rather than a competing blog? A few ideas:

  • Your personality appeals to your readers.
  • Your passion attracts followers.
  • Your writing style is special.
  • Your opinion is appreciated.
  • Your experience is unique.

You’re not Walmart or Target. You don’t need to appeal to everyone. If you create something truly different, some people may think you’re crazy. But that doesn’t matter. As long as other people love your blogging, that’s absolutely fine. Don’t be afraid to put readers off. Because you’ll build a stronger bond with your core audience.

Apple has raving fans who queue up to trade in their iPhone 4S to an iPhone 5 as soon as it’s launched. But Apple also has its haters, who avoid buying Apple products.

Do you know Johnny B Truant? He’s not everyone’s cup of tea, because he tells it as it is and he swears a lot. But he has hugely passionate fans, too. You see? You don’t need to appeal to everyone. You just have to build your own tribe.

Mistake 5: You don’t know how you want to change the world

You can’t create passionate readers if your message is lame. If you want to fascinate people and create a loyal following, you need a mission. Strong brands are on a mission. Think Nike, Apple, or Harley Davidson. Popular bloggers are on a mission, too.

Leo Babauta at Zenhabits teaches people to live simply, to keep themselves centered and at peace as they make a slow journey to creating good habits and achieving their goals. A clear mission, isn’t it?

How are you going to change the world?

Mistake 6: Your design puts people off

If you want to be taken seriously, then you need to look professional. Your blog is your brand. What impression do you want to leave? Professional? Full of fun? Warm? Corporate? Artistic?

Compare these two social media blogs: Simply Zesty looks fresh, but rather corporate. The {grow} blog from Mark Schaefer looks just as professional, but a little more fun.

Also, keep in mind that your design has a large impact on readability. Use white space, large fonts, and sub headlines to guide your readers through your content.

Mistake 7: Your blogging voice is erratic

You’re a blogger. You’re a writer. You communicate through your content.

Your brand is not just your blog design; and not just what you’re blogging about. It’s also how you blog. What’s you’re writing style? And does it match your blog design? Does it match your brand?

You need a unique voice that reflects your brand. Have you read the Aweber and MailChimp blogs? Aweber is quite serious and a bit corporate. MailChimp is cheeky and more personable. One is not better than the other. They’re just different. And their tone of voice reflects their brands.

Jon Morrow and Darren Rowse both blog about blogging. Jon Morrow is like your favourite high-school teacher. He tells you off when he needs to and uses strong language, but inspires you to study harder. Darren Rowse is like a friendly neighbour. Full of useful advice, helpful when you’re stuck, and he never says a bad word about you.

How are you positioning yourself? And does your tone of voice match?

Mistake 8: You’re hiding yourself

As a blogger, you are an important part of your brand. People connect with you because of who you are.
Nobody enjoys phoning a call centre. Nobody wants to get in touch with a boring corporation. Nobody wants to chat with a faceless company.

To build a loyal following you need to be human and get a little personal. Show your passion, mention some titbits about your life, share your experience, and let your passion shine through.

Even though I mainly write about copywriting and content marketing, my email subscribers know I love cycling, because I use cycling analogies to explain copywriting tricks and I’ve even included cycling holiday snaps to illustrate points. That’s how I’m building a connection with my readers.

Mistake 9: You think your traffic will snowball

You need to market your blog to gain an audience. Overnight success doesn’t exist.

Generating traffic is hard work, and no shortcuts exist. Social media and SEO can generate traffic, but guest blogging is often the best way because guest blogging allows you to borrow the audience from a big blog.

Don’t have enough time for guest blogging? Reduce your own blogging schedule, post once a week rather than daily; post once a month instead of weekly. And use the time you’ve freed up to post on other blogs.

Mistake 10: You’re not enticing people onto your email list

Getting blog readers to sign up to your email list should be your priority. Because once they’re subscribed, you can email them when a new post goes live. And when you’re ready to sell, your email list is your most precious marketing asset.

Email is more powerful than social media, especially when it comes to selling. Have you seen this graph from Darren?

Email drives profits

That tells you enough, doesn’t it? Get an email subscription form on your home page, your about page, and each blog post. Consider removing the option to subscribe to your RSS feed, because it distracts from your email subscription form.

Mistake 11: You’re a dreamer

Of course we’re all dreaming of success, of more readers, more shares, more comments, more money.

But dreaming about success isn’t going to get you there. You need plan. Not a Soviet-style ten-year plan. Just a plan for your next month. Decide on your mission, define your brand, your design, your voice, and think about how you’re going to grow your audience during the next month.

And then in a month’x time you can see what worked, and what didn’t work. And then you can write another one-month plan. To increase your traffic. To grow your audience. And to build your email list.

The truth about building your audience

Let’s be honest.

Growing your audience is hard work. It requires energy, enthusiasm, and guts. Dare to be different. Build your own unique brand. Don’t be afraid to be yourself.

Your most loyal followers, your raving fans are reading your blog because your style suits them; because your message inspires them; and because you are you.

Come on. What are you waiting for? Start marketing your blog, your brand, yourself.

Henneke Duistermaat is a marketer and copywriter. She is on a mission to make boring companies charming, and dull products exciting. Sign up for her Enchanting Marketing newsletter and receive free tips on copywriting and content marketing.

Post Length and Engagement: The Content Marketer’s Dilemma

Everyone’s talking about content at the moment: from those using content marketing to sell business-to-business, to pro niche bloggers, and of course, us here at problogger.net.

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Image courtesy stock.xchng user lusi

It was also a topic that we dealt with on Monday’s #blogchat session on Twitter.

Among the topics that have come up in these discussions is one of length. Longread content is becoming more popular on social media and the web in general, and publishers are finding that while it costs to create longform content, it pays.

Yet research has shown that many social shares aren’t read before they’re shared (and as for afterwards, who knows?). And the average solo blogger probably doesn’t have time to create longform content for every post (or even every so often!).

So what’s better? Is longform content the way to go? Are the days of Seth Godin-style short, punchy posts numbered?

The stats

This post by Neil Patel analyses backlinks, shares, and conversions based on word count, and he’s found that longer content beats shorter posts in all areas.

It’s easy to glance through that post, be wowed by the graphs, and start planning your longread content strategy. But in the conclusion, Neil makes some interesting points, including this:

“Writing lengthy content won’t get you a ton of tweets and likes if you haven’t built up your social media accounts first.”—Neil Patel

While the figures are appealing, longform content shouldn’t be seen as the silver bullet to a blog’s traffic and reader retention problems.

Longer posts don’t necessarily drive greater engagement.

The medium

A Pew Internet study of young Americans’ (under-30s) reading habits from 2012 showed that “47% of younger Americans read long-form e-content such as books, magazines or newspapers.” But interestingly, “60% of Americans under age 30 used the library in the past year.” Those library users were borrowing print books as well as ebooks and audio books, along with magazines, newspapers, and journals.

So not only can we safely say that readers are still reading; we can also say that they’re not reading exclusively online.

Which bring us back to Seth Godin’s blog. I don’t know about you, but I can’t really imagine him publishing a 35,000-word mega-post (like the SEOmoz post mentioned in Neil’s article) on his blog. Seth seems to keep his longform content to books. And perhaps there’s a good reason for making that differentiation.

I mentioned on #blogchat this week that I think different types of content achieve different kinds of engagement, and as bloggers, we can use that to engage with different audience segments more meaningfully. Maybe that’s Seth’s approach: if you’re an “advanced” user of his ideas and work, you buy the book. If you’re at the “beginner” level, you stick with the blog.

But I think this raises an interesting question for those considering embracing longform content because it’s popular right now.

Would the information in your longform post be better communicated:

  • in a book or ebook
  • as a course or email series
  • through a webinar, forum, or discussion
  • some other way?

The answers depend on your readers, and the message you’re trying to communicate. But as bloggers, we can’t assume that a longform post will go viral any more than any other kind of post will go viral. It may not even have a better chance of ranking well in search.

Why not?

Getting it right

Writing longform content takes different skills than writing shorter content. The way I see it, longform content multiplies the challenges bloggers face writing short content—and adds some new ones, like structure, pace, keeping interest, and so on, into the mix. The kind of longform content that really does get read, as well as shared and ranked, isn’t just a matter of more words. It’s a matter of delivering more value—much more value.

If you have trouble getting traffic to your posts now, or your readers don’t seem engaged, you may need to work on your writing technique more before attempting a longform post.

In any case, a longform post you’re using as part of a content marketing strategy isn’t likely to massively grow your readership on its own. Like any kind of promotion, it’ll do best when it’s supported by already-strong reader engagement, a solid social network, excellent quality control, and so on.

Longform content isn’t just about adding words. It’s about adding value. If you don’t yet believe you have the value to justify a longform post, it might be best to stick with shorter content until you do.

I’d be interested to hear if you’re embracing the longform trend, or keeping with shorter posts for the time being. Let us know how you see this dilemma in the comments.

2013 ProBlogger Training Event: To Be Held on the Gold Coast in Queensland

Today I’m excited to share news about the location and some other previously secret details of the new Aussie ProBlogger Training Day.

Over the last 3 years we’ve held a live blogging conference here in Melbourne that has grown both in attendee numbers but also impact each year.

The feedback from last year’s event was amazing. While there was room to improve in a few areas our team began to stress out a little as we read the feedback surveys at the end of the 2 days because the response was so positive we didn’t know if we could top it in 2013.

As a result we decided we needed to do something big to shake things up and today I am excited (and a little nervous) to announce that we’re taking PBEVENT on the road for the first time and are holding it at the QT Gold Coast in Queensland Australia.

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I’ve just posted about the move on the ProBlogger Events blog where you can read more about the plans for the event but I wanted to mention it here on the ProBlogger blog too.

Great Blogger Training and Amazing Experiences of the Gold Coast!

Our ProBlogger Training Events are unashamedly packed with information for bloggers that will help them to grow their blogs (and to make them more profitable). Our 2013 event will be no different.

I’m already talking with a number of international and Aussie speakers about coming along and am excited by how that component of the conference is shaping up.

If you come you’ll return home with a head full of information, inspiration and ideas for your blog.

However this year we’re adding a new component to the event. Working with Queensland Tourism and Events we’ll be offering attendees the opportunity to have some ‘Pop-Up Experiences’ on the Gold Coast both before and after our event.

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The event itself is being held on 13-14 September but on the day before and days after we’ll offer some experiences that show off the region. They’ll include opportunities for pampering, adventure, fun and a little indulgence. They’ll be fun, give you an opportunity to meet other bloggers but also hopefully give you some experiences to write about on your blog.

Stay tuned for more information on what these pop-up experiences will be and how you can apply to be involved.

International Guests Welcome

Moving our event to Queensland also makes this conference a little more accessible to international guests. Last year we had attendees come Asia and a number of US readers seriously considered making the trip – this year the flights are shorter and we hope by offering the pop-up experiences before and after that we can tempt you to come along (and perhaps stay a little longer for a vacation).

There’s some exciting things happening in the Aussie blogosphere at the moment so coming to be a part of our event will hopefully give you some fresh perspective and inspiration for your blogging – wherever you are. Plus, us Aussies love to play host and I’m sure you’ll have a great time.

Sign Up to Be Notified When Tickets Go On Sale

In the coming weeks we’ll release more information about the pop-up experiences but also begin announcing speakers in the lead up to releasing tickets.

To keep informed of when tickets go on sale simply add your details to the form below and we’ll notify you of future developments!

Are You Following these 5 Headline Writing Tips for Better SEO Traffic?

This guest post is by Garrett Moon of Todaymade.

There are so many variables to a great blog post. There’s the topic. There’s the writing style and overall quality. But few things compare to the headline. After all, your headline is the first thing that your readers will see, and is probably the most important factor in determining if they will actually read your article.

While getting actual human readers is our primary goal, search engines also matter—a lot. They can, however, add complexity to the original problem. Your headlines need to be written for humans and robots, and they need to bring in big traffic from both sides. In blogging, there are two big headline goals:

  1. Get your viewer to actually read the post.
  2. Provide Google with the fuel you need to bring you big traffic.

How do we write headlines that win big for both readers and robots? Here are a five things that you can do to improve your headlines right now.

Step 1. Become a student of great headlines

It may sound like a beginner’s move, but learning to recognize a great headline is vital to writing headlines that excel in search. How can we execute this simple step? Easy. Observe your own actions.

Observe your own actions

Day in and day out, we are all using Google to perform a variety of searches. What is it that you are searching for? Like it or not, Google knows. If you are logged into your Google account, you can view your web history at https://www.google.com/dashboard/. Review your results to see the headlines that you ultimately clicked on. Your readers are probably similar to you in what they would choose, too.

There is, of course, oodles of information out there about writing great headlines, including the famous Copyblogger course on writing magnetic headlines.

Step 2. Know your audience

After viewing your own search habits and gleaning insight about headlines that mattered to you, put yourself into your reader’s shoes. What matters to them? Who are they, and what are they searching for? It is amazing how often we can go on blogging without even taking time to consider who our audience really is.

Step 3. Use Google’s related search to define key search terms

One my favorite tools for writing great headlines that rock is search itself—use Google! If you put a little strategy into your writing, you can write SEO-packed headlines using Google’s own related search terms.

The process is simple: when you search for keywords related to your blog topic, Google will automatically suggest alternative terms and phrases that other visitors have used. It is important to remember that these terms are based on crowd-sourced knowledge gained from millions of searches per day. These are the most popular keywords surrounding your topic.

Google autosuggest

It is very important in this step to refine your terms a bit and collect additional terms from a series of other popular searches. Let Google make suggestions and then revise your terms using these suggestions. This process can help us think outside the box and discover what our customers are looking for.

Step 4. Rewrite your headline at least three times

I can’t stress this step enough. Too often, we put a lot of our time and effort into the blog post, and forget about the headline. While the blog post will always matter and we do have to deliver in its content, the headline has to be great. Repeated iteration is key to great headline success. Write at least three alternative headlines for each post, for three reasons:

  1. We explore new territory: Admit it. You tend to write the same things over and over. We all do, but when we write more than one headline we force ourselves to work beyond the boundaries of our habits.
  2. Practice makes perfect: The more we write headlines, the better we become. More practice is always a good thing.
  3. We find new ideas: I can’t tell you how many “new posts” have come out of this simple habit. By writing three, you will regularly find a new spin on an old topic.

Step 5. A/B Test your headlines using Twitter or email marketing

Every time you publish or release an idea into the world, you are opening up to the opportunity to learn something new. Publishing new headlines should be no different. Improve your headline writing skills by putting them to the test.

Schedule a few tweets that link to the same post using alternative headlines. You could use several of your “extras” from step four of this blog post. The trick is to use a custom bit.ly link or other short URL service that allows you to track clicks. At the end of each day, calculate the clicks, retweets, and comments that you received with each headline. Which headline methods worked better than others?

The same test can be done with an active email marketing list. Most email software allows you to A/B test headlines and email subjects. Get into the habit of trying headlines against each other. Make sure you document the results and use what you lean to improve your writing abilities.

Better headlines, better traffic

No matter how frustrating it might feel at times, writing great headlines is not impossible. It just takes practice and a little bit of effort. SEO-driven headlines that are written to motivate readers and perform well in search are the goal of many but the achievement of few.

Follow these simple steps, and watch your headlines and traffic get the boost they deserve.

Garrett Moon is the marketing director at Todaymade, a web software and design company that created TodayLaunch, a fast and affordable social media dashboard.