Close
Close

Final ProBlogger Training Event Tickets Go On Sale Now

The final round of tickets for the Annual ProBlogger Training Event go on sale later today at 1.30pm Australian Eastern time. UPDATE: a limited number of these tickets are now on sale here.

Over the last few years we’ve held 3 training events and have seen things grow each time.

  • Year 1 saw Chris Garrett, myself and a handful of other speakers speak to a packed room of 100 bloggers in a small, cheap suburban hotel.
  • Year 2 saw 200 bloggers turn out to the Novatel to see our first event with 3 ‘streamed’ sessions running simultaneously. Timothy Ferris even popped in for a surprise interview
  • Year 3 saw 300 bloggers come to Etihad Stadium (or rooms at the stadium) with Chris Guillebeau and Aussie Sarah Wilson keynoting

This year is going to be bigger and better than ever and there are lots of changes! Here’s just a few of the developments:

  • For starters we’re moving things up to Queensland on the Gold Coast with the help of Tourism and Events Queensland.
  • This year we are flying in 4 international speakers – Trey Ratcliff, Jonathan Fields, Amy Porterhouse and Tsh Oxenreider will each speak.
  • This year we have our first Logie nominated speaker – yep, Clare Bowditch will be one of our keynotes this year – we might even convince her to sing something!
  • This year Tourism and Events Queensland are offering attendees the chance to be involved in some great ‘pop-up events‘ on the day before and the day after our event (they are free and will be a load of fun)
  • This year of the 20 speakers that we’ve announced so far (and there will be a few more) we’ve got 13 new speakers that have not appeared at the event – lots of fresh voices and teaching!
  • We’re holding the event at one of the most instagramable venues on the Gold Coast – the QT Hotel. It’s going to be a lot of fun…. did I mention they have a spa!
  • This year will be be bigger – we’re not sure how many tickets we’ll sell but 200 Early Bird Tickets sold out in just on 2 hours and we’ll be releasing 240 more today – it’ll be our biggest event yet!

There’s still more exciting (and new) stuff to announce in the coming weeks but I wanted to post today because we’re getting ready to put the final round of tickets on sale later today.

Attendees have largely been from Australia in the past but already we’ve got a few international guests signing up from around the region (New Zealand, Asia and I think even one flying in from the US). If you’re thinking about coming from overseas – please do. Queensland is a fantastic place to see and would be ideal to stay for a few extra days to explore!

Details

The price of tickets going on sale later today is $349.99 (that’s Aussie dollars). This ticket price includes:

  • 2 full days of training (20+ sessions to choose from)
  • Digital Pass – audio recordings and PDFs of presenters presentations – so if you miss a session you’ll get to hear it later
  • a standup networking breakfast on the first morning
  • lunch on both days
  • morning and afternoon tea on both days
  • networking event in the evening of Day 1 (including drinks and some food)
  • an opportunity to network with hundreds of other Aussie bloggers

The Dates of the event are 13-14 September (Aussie, you’ll need to arrange a postal vote for our election that day so as not to miss a minute).

We will be selling a virtual/digital ticket as we get closer to the event that will include recordings/slides for most sessions – but of course you’ll miss out on a lot of the face to face fun – so we’d much prefer to have you there in person if you can make it!!!

Tickets go on sale at 1.30pm – but the best way to get reminded/notified the moment that they become available is to simply add your name and email address to the form below and we’ll shoot you a quick email when they’re on sale.

Otherwise – head to our Eventbrite page at 1.30pm Australian Eastern time and you’ll be able to pick up tickets there.

How to Get Your First 1,000 Email Subscribers When Nobody Knows You

This is a guest contribution by Marya Jan, blogging coach from Writing Happiness.

What’s the biggest excuse you hear from people who are not getting the results they want from their blogging?

“I don’t know anyone online.”

Not ‘my content might not be good’. Not ‘I don’t a clear idea of what I am doing’. Not ‘I know it takes time and I am learning everything I can’.

None of that. It’s always because they don’t have any connections with the big shots.

Allow me to put up my hand and say this … I have over 1,000 subscribers (multiple times over actually) and I have done this under 18 months of blogging AND without having connections with any famous people.

I did meet Darren Rowse, Sonia Simone, Chris Garrett, Tim Ferris and Annabel Candy at the Problogger Conference in 2011 but I was so new that I was too scared to even introduce myself properly.

I am pretty sure this doesn’t count. So what does? So glad you asked.

If you are someone who has been blogging for a few months, you know how hard it is to attract readers. You spend insane amounts of time creating content but nobody takes you seriously. You hope to get a few shares, but all you hear is dead silence

You might be new-ish but you have quickly realized this reality: Blogging is hard work and sometimes it seems downright cruel..

You know honeymoon period is over

Creating quality content is getting you nowhere (assuming it is high quality) and you need a plan B. And you can’t come up with anything to save your life.

I have another suggestion. I propose that you go back and revisit your plan A. Identify loopholes, see if you could improve things so that you actually don’t need any other plans.

That’s how I did it.

Your first plan might look something like this:

  • Start a blog
  • Pick a topic
  • Identify your audience
  • Create useful content
  • Promote that content
  • Differentiate yourself from others (All of this within 2 weeks)
  • Form relationships with influencers
  • Grow your blog by leaps and bounds

So basically after about two weeks worth of work, you are relying on getting your blog off the ground by befriending people in high places.

Let me tell you, this is not a particularly smart strategy.

Through own my experience and by through coaching other clients (Yes, I am a blogging coach), I have found that most influencers won’t take you seriously unlessyou have some sort of proven record.

Your biggest fan

Image used with permission

Allow me to explain: Influencers are super busy people. They are very, very, very busy people. If you need to earn their attention, you need to prove you are worth it. So in my experience, you can have meaningful relationships with A-list bloggers but it doesn’t happen in the beginning. Not for most of us, anyway.

It takes time and lot of effort BEFORE they notice you. (And nobody will tell you this.)

If you trying to do this too early on, you are going about it in the wrong way. Instead, you should focus your time on your blog just so that you know what you are doing.

You need to do things right enough that you have a 1k subscribers worthy blog so you have the skill and confidence of approaching them properly.

So let’s have a look at the plan again, shall we?

After delivering hundreds of blog reviews and coaching many clients, I have found these to be the primary causes of why people don’t get their first 100 subscribers, let alone 1,000.

1. Poor first Impression 

Your blog looks amateurish, tacky or just plain spammy.

When someone new lands on it for the first time, they get no sense of what the blog is about, who is writing it and if it’s any good. There are too many flashy ads, or too many images, colours, links and tabs competing for attention.  The content doesn’t seem appealing. The headlines are boring, images are of poor quality, and everything is a big chunk of text.

Your blog title doesn’t tell them anything about who you are about and how you can help them. Your visitors are so confused that the only option that makes sense is to leave.

The easiest way to fix this is to make your site clutter free and get rid of all the unnecessary elements adding to the chaos. You want to make it as easy as you can for your readers to navigate.

Most people cram their sidebars with lots of information in order to look like they have been around for a while. That they know what they are doing. Please don’t. Things like tag clouds, categories, search boxes, links to other bloggers aren’t really helpful. Not really.

Don’t stuff your sidebar with ads either. I am guessing you don’t have enough traffic to make any decent money anyway.

2. Unspecified target audience

You are not making it clear who the blog is for. You are not saying to a particular group of people (maybe you aren’t sure who they are?) that this blog is for them.

For instance, let’s say you are a business coach. However this is a very general term. If you don’t make it absolutely clear that you are writing for start-ups, or small business owners, or mid sized business, or executives; you are just confusing your readers.

One great way to make it happen is to say that in your tag line or in a mini author bio that you display on the sidebar. You’ve got to have people saying, ‘Yes, this seems perfect for me.’

 3. Incomplete About page

People are really interested in person behind the blog. They want to know who that creative soul is. They want to like that person. They want to be that person.

A lot of people totally mess this up. Either they talk too much or too little.

Often they present the information in the wrong order. They start off with their story and why they write the blog and then barely touch upon how they can help you. People lose interest.

People want to know who writes this blog but more importantly they want to know why they should care.

Tell them why you are relevant to them, and follow it by your story and other details. And keep it brief.

4. Negative social proof 

One thing that will make the most difference to the number of readers you get is the display of social proof.

When people come to a place where they see others hanging out, they feel confident in making the same choice. For this reason, focus to create content that gets shared, liked and get commented on.

From day one, add credibility building elements to your site. The most popular of them all is the ‘As seen on’ testimonial. You want to land guest posts on popular blogs and then proudly display their logos on your site.

5. No point of difference

This is something that many new bloggers struggle to answer in their earlier days of blogging so I won’t say to worry too much about it. That being said, if you spend some time thinking about what makes you different from the rest, you will find it easier to create content and would be more focused in related tasks.

There are several ways to help make you stand out from the crowd.

Lady Pointing To You

Being you

This is the thing; you are the most unique thing about your blog. There is nobody else just like you, with your point of view, insights and experiences.

The more you accept that and highlight it, the more chances you will have to appeal to those who are truly the right people. So really hone in your voice and bring out that personality of yours for the world to see. People can’t get that anywhere else.

They love the snark in Ashley Ambridge’s voice. They love Danielle Laporte’s soul. They adore Darren Rowse for a kind, down to earth spirit. What’s your secret sauce?

Your purpose

Yes, you are providing solutions to somebody’s problems but why are you doing it, really? What is your big idea? What do you stand for?

Do you believe life is an adventure? Chris Guillebeau

Do you want to show people how work less and play more? Tim Ferris

Do you want people to focus on the essentials? Leo Babauta

Do you want to empower women in business and life? Marie Forleo

Do you want to offer personal development advice for smart people? Steve Palvina

If you believe in something, people will believe in you. Tell them now.

The way you dress

Your design, colours, logo, tag line, images – everything speaks volumes and appeal to a certain kind of person.

Want to attract go getters, how about choosing red or maroon in your theme? How about appealing to gentle, earth loving souls with the light green colour? Inspiration is your game then might soothing blue is what you need.

Your design needs to support your theme, mission and content and make you stronger. Marie Forleo is hip, Mars Dorian is bold, what are you?

Your offer

Your specific market, your content, the needs you solve and the exact solution you provide based on your expertise is often enough to differentiate you from others.

Derek Halpern teaches you marketing based on research findings. Corbett Barr teaches you how to get traffic because he has done it. What have you got on offer?

6. No incentive to sign up

Many new bloggers are finding it super hard to find new readers and to keep old ones also. One reason is because they don’t get them on their list. They don’t place a subscription box in a prominent position and  don’t give them any reason to subscribe.

Shouldn’t the blog itself be good enough reason? Yes, it is, but adding an incentive to your sign up box works really well.

Don’t listen to anyone who tells you to just put together some old posts and offer as a freebie. One, nobody cares and even if somebody did, they won’t take you seriously.

But you don’t have to spend days or months creating something. Jon Morrow says the best opt-in offers are those that offer some sort of short cut of doing a task. A cheat sheet of sorts (His Headline Hacks is a great example).

Teach people to do one thing and do it really well. People don’t find long freebies appealing that take too long to read and would take months to implement. A report, mini ebook, white paper or a short webinar works well.

7. Lack of self promotion

Finally people never sign up because they don’t know you exist. You have to actively go out and promote yourself.

Again, you might feel compelled to remind me that that’s why you need relationships with famous bloggers so they can promote you. Let me tell you that is not the only way you can drive traffic to your blog.

You can guest post on mid-sized blogs. Often they don’t publish many guest posts so their audience might be more inclined to follow you. You can create YouTube videos, Slideshare presentations, answer questions in forums such as yahoo answers and Quora.

And no, I am not snubbing social media. But social media does take a while to work, especially if you are new. By all means participate in social media but don’t make it the main focus of your traffic generation efforts.

The point is: you have to promote a lot. Spend 20% of your time creating content for your own blog and the rest on promoting it.

Being smart or talented is not enough to build a successful blog

Then what is? Creating super useful content. Being able to stand out from the rest. And for the right people too. And to be worthy of getting some attention from A-list bloggers. Then you can approach the bloggers you worship. There is a good chance you’ll hear back.

Marya Jan is on a mission to help bloggers get their 1,000 subscribers. She is a blogging coach at Writing Happiness. Grab her free ebook ‘9 New Rules of Blogging – Grow Your Business with Little Traffic, No Connections & Limited Hours. 

The Walking Dead Guide to Writing a Killer Blog Opening

This is a guest contribution by Belinda Weaver, SEO copywriter behind The Copy Detective.

A sheriff’s car rolls up to an intersection, where several cars are burnt out and overturned. The occupant, a police officer, gets out, slowly walks to the back of the car and pulls out a gas can while cautiously looking around.

He walks. He walks past more cars, all clearly abandoned. We watch him peek in to one car to see a decomposing body. He looks sad but not surprised.

He hears a shuffling noise nearby and is instantly alert. It’s a girl. A young girl shuffling away from him (and us). He calls to her. Eventually she turns, revealing a decomposing face dripping with blood. She stares then begins to walk towards him, building speed as she goes.

The danger is clear and our policeman quickly shifts into position, his gun raised. He fires BANG! and we see the little girl fall back onto an impressive blood spatter.

The screen goes black and opening credits begin.

I’ve just described the first 4 minutes and 23 seconds of the TV series, ‘The Walking Dead’. Before the credits had finished, I was hooked. Three series in, I’m still hooked.

That’s the power of a good opening. It can make you stop whatever else you’re doing and sit, in a state of rapt attention. It can bring you back week after week.

How often are you doing two to three other things while reading a blog post? You might be watching TV, listening to the radio, on social media, cooking dinner, talking to your partner …multi-tasking with media is more common today and if you want to get someone’s attention you need to do it from the get-go.

It starts with a great blog title

When readers are looking for the next blog post to read they generally start by scanning a bunch of blog titles (or headlines). It might be titles in their blog reader of choice, or email subject lines from blogs they subscribe to.

As Darren once said, Titles change the destiny of your posts. Those few words at the beginning of your blog post can be the difference between the post being read and spread like a virus through the web like a wildfire and it languishing in your archives, barely noticed.”

It’s important to write a blog title that gets your blog opened. There are plenty of great Problogger posts about writing titles, starting with this one.

Assuming you make it past the first hurdle, your blog post is opened and the first few paragraphs are read… if you’re lucky. It might be just the first few sentences. All the while your reader is inching their cursor closer to the back button and the next blog.

Every sentence is ‘Last Chance Saloon’

Every word matters and each sentence that’s read brings you closer to a new subscriber.

There are lots of different ways to open a blog post but here are some ways to write a killer opening. The kind of blog introductions that let dinner burn while they’re read.

Zombie opener #1: Intrigue the reader

‘The Walking Dead’ set the scene. There were no rolling credits explaining that a virus has swept the earth and only a small percentage of the population remained un-zombified.

No. It did set a dramatic scene that made you question what you expected. The mystery unfolded until the big picture was revealed. In this case that big picture was a little zombie.

Tip: Don’t take too long about setting the scene. You don’t want your reader to get bored or impatient as they figure out when your blog’s going to get relevant.

Zombie opener #2: Make it personal

As our policeman cautiously tiptoes through a trail of devastation, it’s clear he is alone. We instinctively know that this will be his story. The way the series opens lets us share that story in an intimate way. We feel his caution, his shock and his sadness. We instantly wonder how we would react, which puts us in the story.

The opening of your blog post can draw in your readers in the same way.

You see, every blog reader wants understanding. They want to know that someone else feels the way they do. The best way to get a reader hooked is acknowledge a challenge they’re facing. The more secret the challenge, the better.

Tip: Repeat people’s thoughts back to them so your reader feels like you understand them. Weave your personal story into the shared challenge you are solving so you’re talking with your readers, not at them.

Zombie opener #3: Startle your reader

Reading blogs online can draw most readers into a bit of a stupor. The opening few scenes of ‘The Walking Dead’ are quiet. They’re suspenseful and a little bit weird. But then…. BANG! A little zombie girl gets shot down!

If the opening few lines of your blog can jolt your readers out of a stupor, well, you’ve got their attention.

Tip: Try using one-word openings. Or one-sentence paragraphs. Don’t be afraid to mix things up and break a few old-school writing rules.

Remember that the first paragraph or two of your blog is competing with other blog posts, the TV, the radio, the children and dinner. The faster you can get your reader hooked, the more likely it is they will keep on reading. If the rest of your blog post is as good as the opening, they’ll read all the way to the bottom and hit Subscribe.

So, how far into a blog do you decide it’s worth reading?

Belinda is a professional copywriter confidently walking the line between writing effective copy and creating an engaging brand personality. Get your FREE copy of her cheat sheet to incredibly effective copywriting and make sure you’re the first to hear about her next copywriting master class.

Do You Make These 6 Domain Name Mistakes?

I’m regularly asked about the mistakes I made when starting out with blogging and the first two words that usually spring to mind are  ‘Domain Names’.

Most of the early mistakes I made (and some of the more recent ones) have revolved around domain names. Let me run through a few:

1. Not Getting My Own Domain Name

The first mistake I made was not to get my own domain name at all.

The year was 2002 and a couple of hours after reading my first blog, I was ready to start my own. After looking at how everyone else was doing it, I decided to use Blogspot (Blogger) as my platform because it promised me that I’d have my own blog up and running in minutes. At the time I’m not sure Blogspot allowed me to use my own domain (you can today) but within a few months of starting that blog I was already regretting not using one of the other hosted blogging services.

I felt trapped on the Blogspot domain and realised how little control I had, especially in terms of design. So began to research switching. I initially switched over to MovableType and later to WordPress and at that point I registered my first ever domain.

Having your own domain name is beneficial in many ways. It shows readers you’re serious about what you’re doing, it helps build your brand and credibility, enables you to have an email address with that same branding and can also help with SEO.

Lastly, having your own domain name gives you more control, which means you’re not going to be switched off for breaking the terms of service of whatever host you’re on.

Switching my blog to a hosted blogging platform and getting my own domain name was a big part in my blog’s growth in the early years. At the time of switching, I was nervous that I’d lose all my readers and any search rankings I achieved but I need not have worried – it only grew my readership!

2. Getting an Aussie Domain

OK – so I’d made my first big decision to switch my blog to my own domain. This helped my blog a lot, however in doing so I inadvertently made another mistake (in fact, two mistakes).

The first one was registering the .au extension for my domain name. Now this may not be a mistake for everyone but for me it was.

I’m an Aussie but at the time of choosing my domain most of my readers were in the US. I didn’t realise it but by choosing an Australian (.au) domain name I was making my blog more findable in search engines to Australians – but not to a global audience.

This was both a blessing and a curse. It meant I got some nice traffic from Google.com.au as there were fewer Aussie sites competing for that traffic however, the overall number of people searching the web in Australia is much smaller than the global number of people searching the web.

If you’re looking to build a localized audience by all means consider a local domain. If you’re looking for a global audience I’ve found .com domains to be much better.

3. Not getting a .com domain

The other mistake was choosing the .org domain. At the time legally entitled to use the .org domain as I was involved with a church and a leader of that community. It seemed appropriate as part of what I was doing with my first blog was related to that church but in time, my goals with the blog changed to become more commercial.

Using the .org.au domain and running a commercial blog wasn’t really a good idea. It probably didn’t comply with the rules but it also wasn’t very good for my branding either.

4. Conflicting Brands

By this point I’d only been blogging for 18 months but I saw a real evolution of my blog. I started blogging about church, spirituality, almost as a personal blogger. As I developed my voice and began to experiment with different topics and with making money from my blogging, I made the mistake of keeping all my blogs on the one domain.

My domain name was livingroom.org.au (it’s still live today if you want to take a look) but on it I hosted a number of blogs that didn’t sit well together as an overarching brand.

I had a church information site, my personal blog, a camera review blog, a camera phone blog, an olympic games blog and more – all sharing the ‘livingroom’ brand.

It was messy, particularly when I began to try to grow my readership and start talking with potential advertisers for my main blog – the camera review blog.

Having said all of that and having made all of those mistakes – the blogs did grow to a point where I was able to make a decent living from blogging. This should hopefully serve as an encouragement to those of you who might have made similar mistakes – you can still have success!

5. Not Getting the .com for ProBlogger When I Could Have

In 2004, I decided I wanted to start a blog about blogging where I’d share tips on blogging and how to make money from blogs (something I’d been doing for almost a year). I’d previously been writing on the topic of blogging in a category on my personal blog but wanted to bring all those posts over onto a domain specifically for bloggers.

I decided upon the name of ProBlogger but someone had already registered the domain ProBlogger.com (they were originally developing a tool for bloggers) – so I got ProBlogger.net.

At the time, I didn’t reach out to the owner of that domain because they looked to be building something and what they were building was quite different to my intentions for ProBlogger so I thought we could co-exist.

In time, the owner of that domain stopped developing their tool and ‘parked’ the domain. At this point I reached out to see if they’d sell it to me. I don’t remember exactly what they asked for but it seemed steep (it was somewhere around $1000 from memory).

I reached out to the owner numerous times after that initially approach but the numbers they asked for got higher and higher (mainly because I was growing demand by having success with my blog and the word ‘ProBlogger’ began to be commonly used to describe people making money with blogs).

It was important for me to get the .com domain, mainly because I wanted to defend the brand. Having ProBlogger.net was ok, but .com was more common and I knew everyday readers were ending up on someone else’s site looking for me (note: ProBlogger.com is coming up for a big overhaul in the coming months).

Eventually, they put the domain up for auction and after a roller coaster of a ride I purchased it (for quite a bit more than they’d originally asked).

The lesson I learned was that if I am serious about a brand, back myself and buy the domain early.

6. Hyphens

The last mistake I made with domains was when I started Digital Photography School in 2006.

The site was started as something of an impulsive experiment so I didn’t put a lot of thought into the domain – but I wish I had.

While having hyphens isn’t a terrible thing in terms of search engines (although lately I’m wondering if that is changing) it is a real mouthful to communicate to people when you’re telling them the domain of your site.

As with most of the above mistakes – this wasn’t a mistake big enough to sink my sites development, dPS is my biggest site today, however it is/was a regret of sorts!

What ‘Mistakes’ have you Made with Domains?

I know I’m not the only one who has made mistakes with domain names – help me feel better about mine by sharing yours below!

Check out the New Ghost Blogging Platform Kickstarter: Funded in under 12 Hours!

6 months ago I came across a concept article written about by John O’Nolan (web designer and former deputy head of the WordPress User Interface group) that grabbed my attention (and the attention of many others). In the article John dreamed of a new blogging platform – Ghost.

In the article John spoke about the changes in WordPress over the year that have seen it evolve from a humble and relatively simple blogging platform into something a lot bigger and more complex – a content management system.

While the evolution of WordPress has been wonderful for many – John pointed out that its complexities and clutter has gotten in the way of him just publishing great blog posts.

John went on to describe a fictional and idealistic blogging platform – Ghost. You can read his initial post here.

At the time of writing that article Ghost was just an idea – but due to the overwhelming response John received it is fast becoming a reality – particularly in the last 24 hours with the launch of a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to see it completed.

11 hours and 56 minutes after the Kickstarter campaign launched it was funded (you can still join in for the next 28 days).

Check out this video in which John shares the vision:

It has been fascinating to watch the reaction to Ghost – with people particularly been drawn to the idea of a simply, elegantly designed and useful interface.

There’s still a lot to be revealed about Ghost and we’ll not really know all the details until it’s released later in the year but the current Kickstarter program gives you options to jump in early and see what it is all about – or if you want to contribute more to partner with the Ghost team.

I’m really excited to see this developed and so have accepted an invitation from John to be on the Ghost advisory board. Others on the board include Vitaly Friedman of Smashing Magazine, and Frederick Townes – Founding CTO of Mashable.

Oh – last of all, this is a non-profit project with it being developed for the love of blogging rather than to make its developers rich. Profits will be reinvested back into making the platform better.

UPDATE: as the initial funding goal has been met so easily – John has shared plans of a ‘stretch goal’ and what that will mean for backers here.