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The Secret To Growing Your Blog to Its Potential

I recently had a blogger sidle up to me at a conference and ask me to share ‘the secret’ technique that would allow see their blog grow to its potential.

While the blogger was asking with tongue planted firmly in his cheek (he understood that there was no single thing that would transform his blog) I do sometimes wonder if some bloggers are looking for ‘the secret’.

The reality is that looking for a single technique to make your blog grow to its potential is as crazy as looking for a single technique to make your child grow to its potential.

Actually I like the analogy of children growing to their potential… lets go down that path for a moment.

I have 3 boys. They’re 2, 5 and 7.

They started small (of course). Here’s our 2 year old a few minutes after he was born.

IMG 2688 2

He was little (although like all Rowses had a quite large head for his age).

I look back on that photo today and can barely believe that the 2 year old that runs around our house talking up a storm is the same person that I saw born just a couple of years ago.

I look at my 7 year old and am even more amazed at who he’s become already! He has grown so much – physically, emotionally, socially and so much more.

But how did he grow to become the 7 year old he is today?

The reality is that while it seems just yesterday that he was born, his growth has been little by little thing – every day since.

He certainly has had growth spurts where he’s shot up at a faster rate over a month than other months but he’s grown gradually and as a result of consistent feeding, exercise, sleep and nurturing.

As parents we can’t identify a single thing that has resulted in him reaching the point he’s at – it’s a result of small consistent and regular actions over time.

The same is true with your blog.

There’s nothing you can do that will suddenly make your blog reach its potential.

It will grow as you regularly add content, as you regularly look after the readers you have and grow community, as you regularly participate in places off your blog to find new readers and as you regularly nurture it by keeping its design and technical side up to date and working.

You will probably go through growth spurts where you see bursts of activity that results in growth in one way or another – but its what happens between the growth spurts that is just as important.

The key to success in blogging (and in many areas of life) is small but regular and consistent actions over a long period of time.

When Not Completing Things Might Be Good For Your Blog

I’ve had a big mind-shift in my blogging, since I started 10 years ago… and I barely noticed that it happened.

I’ve gone from being someone who completed things to becoming someone who never quite completes things…. but in a good way.

incomplete
Let me explain.

When I first started blogging I set myself very specific, actionable tasks. Things like:

  • Each day I would try to complete a blog post.
  • When I did a redesign of my blog, I would set the goal to complete that redesign.
  • When I was asked to speak at an event, I would have the goal to complete the presentation.

I would complete the task I set myself… then move on to the next task.

It was very neat and I was able to measure my success on any given day by how many things I’d checked off my to-do list.

The problem was that I never really learned anything from what I did. I was always starting tasks from scratch rather than building upon what I’d already built.

Gradually – and it has taken 10 years – I’ve found myself seeing almost everything I do as part of a larger process of       discovery, and refinement.

While I still set myself deadlines to implement things, each time I ‘complete’ a task and set it live I’ve started to ask myself a series of questions that include:

  • What did I learn while doing it?
  • What impact did it have? How did others react to it?
  • What could I do differently next time?
  • What sparks of opportunity came out of that activity that I could extend upon?
  • What is the next step?

So now when I complete a blog post:

  • I’m asking myself whether the topic could be explored further
  • I’m watching to see whether someone asks a question that could provide a new adjoining topic to explore
  • I’m watching to see what traffic levels, comments, sharing on social media is like to learn whether that style of post could work again

When we set the new design of Digital Photography School live:

  • We immediately started watching how readers used different new features to see if they had traction
  • We monitored stats to see what impact the design had on things like page views, comments, sharing
  • We monitored feedback to see what impact it had upon readers usability but also how they ‘felt’ about the site
  • We immediately began to evolve the design based upon what we saw

Now when I give a presentation:

  • I actively seek feedback from organisers and audience members to learn how I could improve it next time
  • I always go back through the tweet stream to see what things were quoted most (it’s always something I didn’t plan to say) to see what resonated and to watch where people reacted against what I said
  • I always review a presentation to look for ways I could extend and refine it for future talks

Today, I still aim to complete things but on completion I find myself also looking at what I’ve done as the first step or a new beginning to build upon.

DISCUSS: Does Your Blog Focus More Heavily Upon Information, Inspiration or Interaction?

I’d love to get some discussion around this question today.

Does your blog focus more heavily upon Information, Inspiration or Interaction?

A year ago I wrote a post in which I talked about we I use a combination of Information, Inspiration and Interaction focused posts to engage with readers over at my photography blog.

While the blog largely focuses upon ‘information’ posts (tutorials and reviews) I’ve increasingly found that when you season those posts with a little inspiration (story telling, humour, imagery) that readers are more likely to take note of the the more information heavy content that we produce.

As a result we always try to include great images in those posts and even publish semi-regular posts with nothing but great images.

On top of that when we throw in interactional opportunities (discussions, polls, quizzes, challenges) I’ve noticed that we get a lot more repeat readers. It’s like the perfect storm for creating an engaging blog.

Of course the mix of posts we publish at dPS will be different to what other blogs do. As we’re a ‘how to’ site there will naturally be a fairly heavy focus upon informational posts.

I’d say that our mix is 70% Information, 20% Inspiration and 10% Interaction in terms of emphasis.

What about you? What’s your mix of content like? Do you have a focus upon one type of post or are you mixing it up?

A 10 Step Guide to Becoming a Better Blogger – Starting Today

This is a guest contribution by Adam Smith.

If you are reading this post, I am guessing that you have a blog and at least a few social media accounts or you are just starting out and have a interest in blogging. Right?

Instead of trying things out at first, guessing, hitting a wall and then becoming discouraged, this post is a ten step guide to becoming a better blogger than you are right now.

This guide will get you at the top of your blogging game faster than you ever thought possible.

Here are the ten habits that I have created with my blogging to get noticed and they will work for you, too…

1. Prepare a plan

Is your blog development planned? A plan works for anything that is important to you.

What do you want to achieve with your blog? Include what you want to communicate through your posts to your readers and create the daily steps to get to those goals. List every important thing down to the smallest detail.

Taking the time for this kind of planning will help keep you on track and doing the necessary work to get to where you want to go. It will also inspire you to keep going through the difficult time.

Action: Make a detailed plan for your blog and look at it when you need motivation.

2. Focus on your content

It seems that everyone has a blog these days and each person is adding to the ‘noise’.

The best way to fight for the attention of an audience is to produce quality content over and over again. Content that helps get your readers where they want to be. An easy way to find what content your readers love is to install Google Analytics and research what people are actually reading. You can stop taking a shot in the dark and become more intentional with your content.

Realize that the time you put in is a reflection of what you will get back. You should also know your strengths. There is no possible way that you can be good at everything and people know that, too. Build a blog that people know they can get great advice on a particular topic and they will come back for more. It works for Darren here on Problogger, On Twitip and dPS and it will work for you.

Action: Put in the time to deliver high quality content to your readers. 

3. SEO matters

Besides your content, search engine optimisation will help increase your traffic. SEO or “Search Engine Optimization” includes, but is not limited to factors such as: backlinks, quality of your blog posts, your social networking, unique visitors and the keywords that you focus on throughout your blog.
Google Adwords - keyword planner – is a great tool to assist you in finding the most popular keywords to use in your writing.
When it comes to themes, most WordPress themes have some SEO built in and when you’re using WordPress you’ll be able to access SEO plugins that can be installed to make life easier for you.
In a world where it is really hard to stand out in a big crowd, pairing great SEO with writing for your specific audience will grow your readership quickly and effectively. 

4. Be concise

People’s attention spans and time allotted to read is getting smaller and smaller these days. There is too much to do and so little time.

Write your posts so they share what is needed to get your point across, without rambling. You make a bigger impact when you share your thoughts in a concise way.

Action: Don’t lose your readers with long, drawn-out posts. Get to the point without all of the excess.

5. Be quotable

Being quotable is a really effective way to gain the attention of new readers; it’s more important than who you know.

Clear, clever quotes are easy to share on Facebook, more retweets on Twitter and more repins on Pinterest and when you include a link to your post, you can reach more people than you ever could on your own.

Action: You will get the traffic that you have always wanted from being quotable. Pick out the best quotes from your posts and share them across social media.

6. Grab their attention with new ideas

Light bulb with a great idea

The first step to having more success with fresh ideas is to be quiet and think.

That’s right.

Carve out time in your day to focus on creating fresh ideas. Don’t repeat what everyone else is saying. Push yourself to find greatness with your writing and then push yourself even more. It is time to find your unique voice and once you do this, stick with it.

Action: Be quiet and write down the ideas that come to you. Take time to do this on a daily basis and you’ll find yourself with lots of great ideas to choose from.

7. Speak with authority

Nobody takes advice from a book that starts every sentence with, “Maybe”.

Learn to speak with confidence in your area of expertise. Become a source of knowledge by becoming confident. Show readers that you take your work seriously by putting your time into conducting research. When you do this, you’ll begin to share your knowledge with a new found familiarity and confidence.

Action: Become familiar with the topic you are writing about with further researc. Learn to repeat these steps even when you don’t feel like it. That is what separates the amateurs from the pros.

8. Don’t have an outdated look

 

Mess

Image courtesy stock.xchng user shelead

Maybe your content is decent, but if your blog theme makes it difficult to find and your font is hard on the eyes, your readers won’t stick around.

It useful to find a group of people you can have look at your site and give you honest feedback. Sometimes you just need a fresh set of eyes to see things differently and make changes that are better in the end.

Action: Ask yourself, “Is my blog theme up to date?”

9. Don’t forget your marketing

Marketing your blog is essential if you want to attract new readers. After all, how will they know about you if you don’t tell them?

You can entice new readers to subscribe by giving something away for free. In my case, it was a free ebook that began drawing new readers in, but for you it could be something different. This gives you a way to capture reader’s email addresses and it allows you to begin forming your team.

Action: Incentives entice readers to commit. Give free,valuable information away to others and then do it some more.

10. Build a team

Create relationships. Be reachable. Help others. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to others, too. People usually won’t know about you unless you take the time to meet others.

After writing great content for a short time, people will begin to know you for helpful content and your community will naturally form by them coming back for more.

Action: Word of mouth is the best type of press. Find and connect with your core group of followers and encourage them to share your best posts with others.

It doesn’t matter what subjects you write about on your blog, these ten steps will help you develop your blogging plan and propel you forward to finding your “sweet spot” in the blogging world.

My challenge to you is to find those things that work for you and take note of the items that create growth.

Once you create traction with an audience, it can be repeated.

What steps have you used to see a great reaction with your posts online?

Adam Smith resides in the Boulder, Colorado area with his wife and daughter. He is the author of the ebook, Discipline: The Art of Achieving Greatness and also an editor/ blogger at asmithblog.com. You can read more about Adam at http://asmithblog.com/about/.

Got a HOT Post on Your Blog? Here’s What to Do To Find and Optimise It

Yesterday, I shared a post that analysed 5 posts I wrote in the first year of Digital Photography School, that went on to generate a lot of traffic for the site.

Today, I want to build upon that post and share some tips on how to capitalise on such posts to help you to build your blog even further.

You see, getting a post to the point where it’s generating decent traffic is just half of the challenge a blogger faces. If you have such a post, your work has only just begun!

Any post that is generating decent amounts of traffic, whether it’s temporary (as the result of a social media event or another blog linking up), or whether it’s because it’s ranking well in Google and generating decent long tail traffic, is a golden opportunity.

Every person who arrives on your popular post has the potential to help you reach your goals. They could:

  • Read another post (generate another page view which can be good for advertising revenue)
  • Subscribe to your feed or newsletter and become a regular reader
  • Follow you on one of your social media accounts and become part of your community
  • Buy a product you’re selling or promoting as an affiliate
  • Share the post with other people and help generate more traffic

You can add to or subtract from this list depending upon your own goals and objectives.

The key is to be aware of what posts are doing well for you in terms of building traffic and optimise those posts to help you achieve your goals.

Let’s break that down into two parts:

1. Build Monitoring Post Performance Into Your Workflow

Unless you’re aware of which posts are doing well, in terms of traffic, you’ll never know which posts to optimise.

Most bloggers don’t have too much of a problem with this. In fact, many of us quite obsessive about checking our blog stats! However, there are a variety of things that are well worth keeping track of on your blog. Here are two things I do regularly:

Check Real Time Stats

I love Google Analytics and have loved their addition of Real Time stats.

Optimizing posts google real time stats

This tool means that at any moment I can see a variety of great things about what’s happening on my site, including total visitor numbers but also which posts are particularly hot at any point.

I keep ‘real time stats’ open most of the day and check it numerous times through the day as part of my normal working rhythm.

So if there’s a post that is going viral due to something happening on Facebook or because another blog has linked up, then I can immediately identify that post and think about how I might leverage that traffic.

This is only really useful in helping you to identify temporary rushes of traffic so it is also important to keep checking of long tail traffic that might be slowly building up over time.

For example – yesterday I gave the example of a post on the topic of ISO in photography. This particular post has never really had a day of viral traffic but over the last 6 years it has generated over 2 million page views. It’s simply ranked well in Google which, every day, sends a few hundred visitors to the post.

Digging Deeper to Identify Long Tail Traffic

If I was only ever checking Google’s ‘real time stats’ I might never have noticed that post was doing well – so it’s also important to dig deeper.

So every month I spend a little time looking at what posts have done well on the site. I look at this both to see what new posts have done well from newsletter traffic, social media etc – but also drill down further just to look at search engine traffic.

Here’s a screenshot of last months search traffic to posts:

Search traffic last month

This is golden information to be aware of as it identifies some key posts and pages in the archives that I should be spending time optimising (see how below). Collectively these pages send a lot of traffic over time to the site, if I’m not paying attention to them I’m wasting some great opportunities.

2. Optimising Pages

Once you’ve identified which pages are seeing higher than normal traffic to your blog you then want to turn your attention to thinking about how to leverage that traffic.

How you do this will depend upon your own individual goals for your blog.

Here are a few things that I have done on some of my key pages:

Note: all of these things you should be doing on all of your posts to some degree. Your goal should be to have a blog that will call people to action in all the ways mentioned below – however when you have key pages that are performing above average – you’d be crazy not to spend a little extra time polishing up those posts!

Directed people to my Newsletter

The #1 goal for me when a new person arrives on my blog is to get them to signup for our free weekly newsletter. We do this through a popup that shows the first time that they arrive but on my key posts, I also add a specific invitation to subscribe to our newsletter in the post itself.

At times I do this as an update at the start of the post but often I’ll leave it to the last line of the post when the person has had an opportunity to digest the content and has hopefully been helped by the post.

Interlinking Posts

In most of the posts I featured in yesterday’s blog post, you’ll notice that they link to other relevant posts.

My goal is to get people deeper into my blog’s archives where they’ll hopefully realise that there is a lot of useful content that they should keep exploring.

My feeling is that the more posts a person reads the more likely they are to subscribe and keep coming back. Each post they view is not only an ad impression (which helps pay my bills) but also an impression upon them as a person about the brand of the site.

I will add these links both within the posts, as I mention concepts and topics that I’ve written about before, as well as ‘further reading’ sections at the end of a post (a place that people are looking for something else to do).

Promoting Products

I don’t do this on every ‘hot post’ but if the post is on a topic that is relevant to an eBook that we’ve produced I’ll certainly add a link to that eBook at the end of the post.

For example in yesterdays post I linked to a popular Photoshop post that I’d published in which I promote our Post Production eBook at the end.

Again – I wouldn’t do this for every post, just those that I have a relevant product for.

Opportunities to Share the Post

If the traffic coming into a post is coming from a social media source, and I notice it while the traffic is still coming in, I will often add a call to action to share the post on that social media site.

For example, at times I’ve noticed rushes of traffic coming in from Pinterest on particular posts. In these cases I will often add a Pinterest Button to the post at the bottom of the post (we already have one at the top).

Other times, I have noticed great traffic from Twitter so I’ll add a call to share the post on Twitter.

Optimise for Search

If the post is generating decent search traffic it might be worthwhile spending a little time thinking about how you might tweak the post to rank even higher in search engines.

I use Yoast’s free WordPress Plugin to help with this process and will often tweak meta description, alt tags of images, add headers etc based upon the recommendations in that tool.

I don’t spend a huge amount of time on SEO when it comes to building links to my site (in fact I spend no time at all and concentrate on building useful and shareable content) but if I do see a post doing well in search I will focus a little time on improving ‘on page’ SEO.

5 First Year Posts that Led to Over 6 Million Views

What sort of content should you publish on your blog to help you grow traffic in your first year?

There is no right or wrong answer to that question as each blog will be different depending upon the topic, your writing style and the purpose of your blog. However, I thought it might be fun to look back at some of the earliest posts that I wrote on Digital Photography School and talk a little about how each contributed to the growth of the site.

What follows is a selection of posts that I published in the first year of Digital Photography School (back in 2007) and some reflections on how I think they helped grow readership on the site.

5 Posts on dPS that Helped Me Grow Traffic

Note: what you’re seeing here is how the posts look today. We’ve been through 3 redesigns in that time.

1. 15 Stunning Images Using Blur to Portray Movement

Early posts on dps

This post was the most viewed post on dPS in the first year (in that 12 month period it had 183,269 visitors). It was published about 8 months after the site launched and was one of the first times I experimented with what I later started to call ‘image collections’.

This style of post was a move away from the normal ‘tutorial’ type of posts that I did. While the majority of the posts on dPS were ‘information’ heavy this post was almost completely images (a series of 15 of them) and it highlighted the importance for me of ‘inspiration’.

One thing I’m glad I did in this post was to link it back to a previously written ‘tutorial’ that I’d written on the same topic (which I did in the first paragraph). This led to some decent traffic to that ‘information’ heavy post.

This post was something of a slow burner in terms of traffic. It wasn’t until 4 weeks after I published it that it suddenly saw a rush of traffic from StumbleUpon and Reddit (peaking at 27,000 visitors in a day).

Two years after I published this post I gave it an update and reposted it to the front page of the site. This resulted in another great spike in traffic to the post as at that time it was featured on the front page of Digg (bringing in 24,000+ visitors in a day).

In 2010, the post again had a spike of 15,000+ visitors in a day after being linked to from another large site.

This post has continued to get traffic every day. It’s not spectacular daily traffic (it has averaged 100 or so visitors per day over the last month) but when you think about the long tail life of this post it adds up. The post has been viewed 786,547 times since being published.

2. 4 Easy Photoshop Techniques to Make Your Pictures Pop!

Early posts on dps 2

This very early post (published 20 days after the launch of the site) was the one that opened my eyes to the potential of the site on a couple of levels.

Firstly, it was the first time the site saw a post go viral from any kind of social media after it was featured on the front page of Digg (which brought in 45,000+ visitors in a day and crashed our servers).

Secondly, the post was the first time I’d ever published a guest post. In the first year I did only publish a handful of guest posts and wrote 99% of them myself but this did change my opinion of the featuring other people’s voices on my blog.

Thirdly, this was the first ever post that we’d done on the topic of ‘post production’. Up until this point I’d always just published posts that were how to ‘take’ photos rather than how to manipulate and process them in photoshop. Later I went on to add a post production section to the site.

What is interesting to me about this post is that while it is now dated (as there are new versions of Photoshop out and new tools available to photographers) it still continues to get decent traffic. The post still regularly gets 200 visitors a day and has had over 1.7 million page views now despite me never really promoting it since the early days of the site (it’s almost all Google traffic).

3. 11 Surefire Tips for Improving Your Landscape Photography

Early posts on dps 3

This post is written in a style that has always been popular on dPS – the ‘list post’.

As the title suggests there are 11 tips in the post listed. Each point is 2-3 paragraphs long and then most link deeper into the site to other articles that go deeper on those topics. As a result a reader can get a good introduction to the topic but are encouraged to read more of the archives.

Scattered through the post are also great illustrative images for the points mentioned.

In later years I’ve included larger images and more of them – but this was an early version of this style of post.

This post did particularly well on StumbleUpon in the first year after it was published and saw around 148,000 visitors come to the site in that 12 months (half of which came from StumbleUpon).

Interestingly I noticed that as a result of StumbleUpon traffic (and a day that it did well on Reddit) we then saw a number of other larger blogs link to up to the post.

Lastly – for years I have used this post as a piece of ‘cornerstone’ content on the blog and have often linked to it when I mention Landscape Photography in other posts. By linking back to it so many times I was always driving traffic to this post in those early years.

Since it was published the post has been viewed over 1.3 million times – approaching 10 times more traffic than it got in its first year after publication!

This to me highlights the importance of extending the life of posts in your archives by pushing traffic back to them over time.

4. How to Photograph Fireworks

Early posts on dps 4

There are no prizes for guessing what time of year this post went live – that’s right – in the lead up to 4 July 2007 (about 6 months after the site launched). I actually published the post on 26 June to allow it to have time to be indexed by Google.

My theory was that there would be a lot of people searching for tips on how to photograph fireworks at that time, and I was right.

This post saw only a bit of traffic in its first week but on 4th July it saw 32,000+ visitors – almost all of which came in from Google.

I’ve updated this post and republished it on the front page of the site every July since 2007. It is the post that just keeps on giving. Here’s a screen shot of traffic to the site – with spikes every 4th July and New Years Eve.

Fireworks seasonal traffic

To this date the post has been viewed just under 1.5 million times.

The key lesson to me from this post was to consider when you can write seasonal content. We’ve done this a variety of times with Christmas Photography Tips and Halloween Photography Tips posts doing pretty well too.

5. ISO Settings in Digital Photography

Early posts on dps 5

All of the posts linked to above have had spectacular days of traffic but this post was quite unmemorable in many ways.

It was on a very beginner topic. I even remember wondering whether I should publish information this basic in those early days. It was a relatively short post on a niche topic that was a part of a series where I looked at the topic of Exposure and covered ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture.

Traffic to the post in the first year never rose above 800 visitors in a day and averaged only 150 per day.

But here’s the thing… this post is one of the most viewed posts I’ve ever written and has been viewed just under 2.4 million times since I published it.

You might be wondering when it featured on the front page of Digg or was linked to by a major blog… but the reality is that it never had a day of traffic over 5000 visitors (and that was just once). Here’s the traffic graph since the early days:

ISO

Where did the traffic come from? The vast majority of it was from search engines. Facebook is the next highest referrer of traffic and it only sent 17,927 views.

This is another example of a ‘cornerstone’ piece of content that must have linked to hundreds of times from other articles on the site when I mention the term ISO. I did this the same with the Shutter Speed and Aperture posts in this series (incidentally this 4 post series has had close to 6 million page views – I’m glad I wrote it).

The key lesson here is that even the most simple concepts are worth writing about. You might think a concept is too basic but there’s no doubt that others will want that information (another example of this was my ‘How to Hold a Camera‘ post that I almost didn’t publish but which has been viewed almost 600,000 times).

The other key lesson is that growing traffic to your blog is not always about trying to write shareable content that might go viral. This post is just a simple article that attempts to serve my readers. It wasn’t written with growing traffic in mind – rather it was written to serve my current readers.

I do believe that it is wise to write some of your content with ‘finding new readers’ in mind – but the majority of your posts should focus upon serving the readers you already have.

What Posts Did You Write in Your First Year that Helped You Grow Your Blog?

I have really enjoyed creating this post and have actually gotten some great idea for future posts on dPS from doing this analysis of old posts on the site.

I’d encourage you to dig into your own stats and see what you notice about your old posts that have gone well – I’d also love to hear about them in comments below!

Offline Marketing: Great Ways to Promote Your Blog Without the Internet

This is a guest contribution from Rohit M. @TeamVlogNation

Every blogger wants to promote their blog. Who doesn’t want more traffic?

When it comes to promotion, many bloggers mostly use the online world as their main marketing vehicle. The online world is great though, social media helps your blog and your daily posts go viral. You can tweet about your next blog post or send an email to your subscribers. Online marketing is critical for promotion.

But what about that, “offline world” that we all live in? Just because you turned off your laptop does not mean you can’t promote your blog anymore.

When it comes to marketing, offline promotion can be just as good as promoting your blog on the internet.

© Dmitry – Fotolia.com

Did someone say, “mini guide?” Yes!

This blog post will be kind of like a mini guide full of different ways you can promote your blog offline.

The tips and strategies explained below are not in any specific order. This is because; every method could work differently for each blogger. The same techniques do not work for everyone. It all comes down to what you feel most comfortable with, and what brings you the best ROI (return on investment).

Let’s get to the good stuff.

Branded Merchandise

What if you could do some blog marketing without even trying? Imagine all you had to do was just walk around and enjoy your day. By having branded merchandise about your blog, that is possible.

Let’s take a look at a few examples below:

T-Shirt Marketing

Your blog url on a t-shirt is all you need to realize the effectiveness that t-shirt marketing can have. You can get customized t-shirts just about anywhere.

Try checking out your local custom clothing shop, or online at places like Zazzle. By wearing a branded t-shirt with your blog url you can promote your blog by just walking around and doing everyday tasks.

Hand these branded t-shirts out to your friends and family. You can even give them away for free to people! This will increase the amount of people walking around with your branded shirt, which in turn leads to a bigger audience reach.

Extra Tip: It doesn’t always have to be a t-shirt. You can use other items such as branded hoodies, umbrellas, jackets, or even baseball caps!

Branding Your Everyday Accessories

© VRD – Fotolia.com

Having accessories that are branded with your blog address can also bring benefits. For example, here are a few ideas on the different types of accessories that you could brand:

  • Coffee Mug
  • Phone Case
  • Pens
  • Binder
  • Water Bottles
  • Bags
  • and much more!

The point here is that you can turn your everyday accessories into effective marketing tools.

I’m always intrigued to check out a website or blog after noticing it through a branded item and I’m sure there are many others who are the same way. One great place online where you can get customised accessories is Cafepress. They have tons of different items that you can brand with your blog.

Extra Tip: Always try including your blog url. If you only have your tagline or blog name, it can sometimes be less effective and memorable compared to showing your url. By including a blog address you’re providing potential visitors with a direct destination to your blog instead of having to search it up.

Sticker Marketing

Who doesn’t love stickers? Branded stickers can be a great way to promote your blog.

You don’t want to, “sticker spam” (placing stickers on everything you find). This can be really annoying at times. But stickers do send the message! Imagine just placing a large sticker on your rear bumper or rear window. Everywhere you would stop with your car could end up attracting a new visitor simply by just noticing your sticker. Include a catchy tagline along with your blog address that will make people want to visit your blog.

You can also place your branded stickers on busy places like a bus stop, or your college message board. Every time someone walks by, they could end up turning into your new blog reader! You can also provide stickers to an elementary school for kids interested in taking them home (have a cool design that kids will love). This way you’re also getting your promotion across to all the family members!

Important Note: Make sure you have the permission to place your branded stickers in the areas you desire, because you do not want them getting removed!

Free Giveaways

© Tim – Fotolia.com

Did someone say free stuff?

This method works well if you giveaway items that people actually have a daily use for. You want to give away items that can be used daily and have your blog branding on them.

Two ideas that I have come across and think could work well are car air fresheners and mouse pads (two totally random items) but can be very effective.

Car Air Fresheners

Everyone loves a great scent in their vehicles. The air freshener I’m talking about is the one you place on the rear view mirror of a car. If you gave away an air freshener, the use for it would be daily. Every time someone hops into the car as a driver or passenger, they could potentially come across your branded air freshener.

This is not something anyone would throw away after coming from a trade show. The promotion potential for a branded air freshener carries a lengthy life span.

Mouse Pads

Using a branded mouse pad as a giveaway item is actually something that carries lots of promotional potential. A mouse pad with your blog address would be an awesome idea because the only time anyone would be using a mouse pad is when their on the internet. They could end up visiting your blog very quickly!

Quick Note: This is also something you could give away to high schools or universities to use. Every time a student is in the library or computer lab they could get the message off the mouse pad and end up visiting your blog!

Extra Tip: Whenever you’re doing branded giveaways for promotion, always try giving away items that could be used daily and don’t have a, “short use” span. Giving away branded accessories that can be used daily ensures that your blog is also being promoted daily!

Networking And Socialisation Events

Networking with others in the same niche or industry is a great means of communication. Word of mouth is great when it comes to marketing. By attending networking events you can have one on one conversations with others and this is a very effective way to promote your blog. Networking with people is the best way to establish a connection between a reader and a blogger.

© scusi – Fotolia.com

Starting Your Own Meet up

Networking events in your niche or industry might not happen that often. So if there are no social events for you to attend and meet others, you can just start your own.

You can start a meet up group with your friends and readers who are located in the same city. You could discuss the latest news, gossip, and trends in your niche. This is also a great way to promote your blog when you have new faces showing up and taking part in your meetups!

This method actually works great to promote the blogs of all those attending and could end up establishing great relationships leading to further collaborations.

Extra Tip: When attending networking events, you can register as an event sponsor. By becoming a sponsor you can attract not only the attention of those who attend but also the media covering the event. If you do become a sponsor, this would be a great time to do giveaways similar to the ones we discussed above.

Think Outside The Box

© iTake Images – Fotolia.com

Creativity is important when it comes to promotion. Marketing companies are always looking for the most innovative ideas to use for promotion. You as a blogger have to think the same way in order to maximise your promotion potential.

Think outside the box. Try coming up with different and creative ideas that you could use to promote your blog. Here are a few promotional ideas I have come across and think are pretty cool!

Library – Bookmark Promotion

This idea is pretty sweet. The library bookmark promotion technique!

The two things you need for this to work are a branded bookmark and a library. You need to create a branded bookmark with your blog info and your web address. Then head over to a public library. This is where you can try and negotiate a deal that has the library include your bookmark with every book checked out for rent. Or just sneak them into random books!

Your library may provide book rentals for hundreds or even thousands of books per day. Just think about the promotion potential when every rental could end up turning the book reader into your blog reader!

Default Homepage Method

The way this promotional strategy works is by turning the default homepage of a web browser into your blog homepage or recent posts page.

You want to scale up the amount of default homepages you change to your blog homepage so try finding a place where the computers are being used daily for internet purposes.

Some places you can try visiting to arrange a deal for this method (by deal I mean your payment, negotiation or proposal) are high schools, universities, libraries, or internet cafes. The internet browsers mentioned in the locations above are used a lot on a daily basis. Every time someone opens up the internet browser, your blog will be the first thing to load. If interested, the person using the computer will read on.

Just think about how many times each computer is occupied on a daily basis by different people. This method gives you a high reach in promotion!

Time To Get Marketing

I hope you find something that works well for you in terms of promotion and helps take your blog to the next level!

Just remember, when it comes to promoting your blog, be creative and innovative. Just because no one else is doing it, doesn’t mean it won’t work. There’s a first for everything!

I would love to get your feedback and a discussion going on so leave a reply on what works best for you when promoting your blog without the internet, and any other creative ideas you think could help bloggers when it comes to offline promotion?

Rohit is the leader of the editorial staff at VlogNation.com - An Online Guide for Video Bloggers. In addition to working on VlogNation, he also enjoys sports, travel, and keeping up with the latest tech trends!

How to Take a Blog Break Without Losing Momentum

Paradise waiting

A Guest post by Stacey Roberts from Veggie Mama.

As anyone who has ever started a blog knows, it can be hard work. The internet never sleeps, and it seems at times neither do you! In the 24-hour machine that is the blogosphere and accompanying social media, there is the potential for our blog/life balance to be so far off kilter it’s all but disappeared from view. And the best way to deal with blogger burnout is to stop it before it begins.

Working for yourself means you also have the luxury of choosing when you can shift gears. And while you might not have a colleague to step up and take over in your stead, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your site will suddenly plunge to the depths of the internet where blogs go to die if you’re not there to constantly push it back up to the surface. The fear of being forgotten is very real, as the blogosphere is awash with ten more blogs to take your place should you quiet down. But the trick is finding the minimum amount of effort you need to spend to keep your hard-earned traffic, and ring in some help along the way.

Step One: Get organised

First thing you need to do is define how long you are going to spend away. I was having a baby, so I planned for three months and had a tentative plan for the fourth. Figure out how many posts would be the minimum to keep your readers interested, and set them into an editorial calendar. There are plenty of ways to do this – use the WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin, use software, a downloadable template, your laptop calendar, a real calendar, or you can go old-school like I did and draw a colourful diagram with connector pens.

The next step is to fill those spots with content ideas. There are plenty of things you can write ahead and schedule – I did a mix of non-time-sensitive posts, recipes, tutorials and guest posts. Once you have an idea, then set aside a chunk of time to tackle the posts and have them ready to go. You already have inspiration because you’ve created a list of ideas ahead of time, all you need to do now is flesh them out. Or if you can’t find the time to write a bunch of posts in one go, then commit to writing two posts each time you sit down to write one. Publish one, and schedule the other for a future date. You also might like to re-post earlier content – we all have that one brilliant piece we wrote when we were first starting out, which only two people read. Bring it back out and let it get the love it deserves!

Spend some time either creating your own images for the posts, or searching for stock images. You’ll be surprised how much easier it is to write a post once the title and image are sitting there, ready to go. Make a list of what you need and stockpile them, to save time searching for each one as you write your content.

Write a post explaining to your readers what to expect, and when you’ll be back. Most readers are happy to give you some breathing space and pop back when you return. You’re probably also doing them a favour – less posts in their readers mean they get a break from keeping up with the blogosphere’s breakneck pace!

Step Two: Get some help

If there’s too much to do and too little time, then call for reinforcements. Write a post asking for guest posters, outlining your contribution guidelines (it is much easier if they all come in the same format, because uploading 40 different blogging styles can be just as much work as writing the content yourself!), and setting your standards. You might like to include ideal post length, whether or not it needs an image (and be certain that the image they supply complies with copyright law!), and whether they need to write their own bio and supply a head shot. Guest posts are usually better received if you have written a small intro before they begin, and helps keep your voice on your site, which is why your readers read you in the first place. Submissions in HTML format are light-years more easy to deal with than document attachments and separate images, but not everyone is au fait with that.

Reach out to your networks and let them know you’re looking for contributions. Are you a member of blogging groups or organisations? Put the call out on your blog’s Facebook page and other social media accounts. You might like to open it up to up-and-coming bloggers looking for a big break, or you might like to only invite established writers with their own readership. Or you could simply hire professionals.

Judge what mix is best for you and your readers – keep your own content a constant, if you can. While your readers will appreciate you’re taking a break, and enjoy some fresh views, it’s your voice they want to read.

Step Three: Get away

Get right away. You’ve done all you can ahead of time. You’ve automated tweets and Facebook updates using the scheduled post’s permalink, and everything should run smoothly (you hope!) with little or no effort from you. Stepping back and clearing your head does wonders for motivation and creativity – soon you will miss your blog, and have ideas coming out your ears for future content. But until that happens, break up with your blog just a little bit. Get outside and get a life (as Darren says!), so you’ve got some depth to your writing. Don’t even open your laptop if you don’t have to. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, as they say, and nobody likes forced writing. When you’ve reignited the passion for blogging, your words will flow better and you’ll create more of a connection with the reader.

If you absolutely can’t bear the idea of totally stepping away, or you don’t need to, then pop up every now and then with a fresh post. You never know when inspiration will strike, and it’s always best to bow down when it does. Keep up your networking and being part of the community with your social media accounts – maybe Instagram your break and the new things you now have time for, to keep your followers in the loop. If you’re troubled by dips in traffic on the days you’re not posting, then invite readers into your archives by tweeting a new old link for them to read.

Nobody likes a burnt-out blogger, and you and your readers both know when stuff’s getting stale. Take a well-earned break and keep the home fires burning so it’s still warm when you get back.

Have you taken a break? I’d love to hear any tips you learned along the way.

Stacey Roberts is the blogger behind Veggie Mama, and when she’s not writing about good food and motherhood, she’s teaching media law at university. Or avoiding the laundry. She’s an Instagram ninja here, on Facebook here and tweets @veggie_mama.

DISCUSS: How Often Do You Redesign Your Blog?

Over at Digital Photography School this week we launched a complete overhaul of our site design. It was a massive job that took over 6 months of planning and implementation to pull off – but we finally got there without too many hiccups.

New dps

We’ll post about the process and some of the features we’ve implemented in the coming weeks but I thought it might be an interesting discussion question to ask readers how often they’ve done redesigns on their blogs?

dPS started in over 7 years ago and in that time we’ve had 3 redesigns – so are averaging every 2nd year for a complete overhaul. Of course in between designs there have always been tweaks and evolutions – but because the site is so big now and not only had a blog but forums, many sales pages and numerous social media accounts to update each time we redesign it’s not a quick process to do an overhaul.

How often do you redesign your blog? Is it an annual event or are you doing it less frequency or perhaps constantly evolving it?