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Top Tips from the SEO for Bloggers Webinar on ProBlogger.com

Recently over at ProBlogger.com, we held a webinar with Kristen Holden of MarketingPartners.com, and Jim Stewart from StewartMedia.biz. They covered:

  • The top three tips every blogger should know about SEO
  • How to rank well in searches
  • How to tag images to boost SEO
  • Keyword optimisation
  • What to expect when you are a new blogger
  • Strategies for getting more traffic
  • The most important things to consider when setting up a blog on WordPress
  • Google Authorship Plugin
  • The best SEO plugin for your blog
  • The role of social media and where to spend your time
  • Whether Google + is useful
  • Guest posting

And much more. You can see a snippet in this five-minute clip, and ProBlogger.com members can see the entire webinar as part of their membership. You can join the club here – and meet with like-minded bloggers, exclusive access to Darren’s tips and tricks, and a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips to make you the best blogger you can be.

How To Double Your Revenue By Giving Your Work Away For Free

Image via Flickr user FutUndBeidl

Image via Flickr user FutUndBeidl

This is a guest contribution from author Tom Morkes.

I know what you’re thinking: what’s the catch?

If you’re like me, you’ve read dozens (okay, thousands) of blog headlines that pique your interest, only to find out the headline comes with an asterisk:

Quandruple Your Opt-in Rate!*

*you just need to be featured on a massive blog, first.

Make 6 Figures in 6 Months*

*you just need 5 figures and a subscriber list of thousands to start.

I could go on, but you get the point.

So let me assuage your concerns: there’s no asterisk here.

No need to hustle affiliates, join an MLM, or pepper your site with Google Ads.

When I say you can double your blog revenue by not charging, I mean it.  I’ve done it.  And I’ve seen dozens of others do it too.

But before I get to the details, I want to tell you the story of a guy who stopped charging clients altogether (and his surprising results)…

The Generous Designer

Meet Adrian Hoppel.

Adrian is a Philidelphia-based web designer.  He’s been doing professional web design for years.  And while Adrian is incredibly talented and creates amazing websites, what’s truly remarkable about him has less to do with what he does rather than how he does it.

You see, Adrian doesn’t charge for his web design services.  He never has and he probably never will.

Instead, he offers everything as a gift to his clients.

If you want to work with Adrian and you both agree it’s a good fit, Adrian will design your website and give it to you.  No deposits.  No contracts.  No strings.

Just a simple gift – here you go.

Remarkable, no?

How Adrian Makes More Money Giving Away his Gifts than He Did by Charging a Fixed-Rate:

Okay, so you might be wondering: how in the world does that work?

How can he make a living if he just gives his work away for free?!

The answer is simple (although certainly not conventional):

While Adrian gives his work away freely as a gift, it doesn’t mean he works for free, nor does it mean his work is valueless.

Adrian built his business on a foundation of trust.  You trust him to build you a great website.  He trusts you that you will support his gifts and his giving.

In Adrian’s words:

“Working in the gift does not mean that I work for free, or that I give my work away without care. It means that people trust me to build them a website, and I trust them to support my work as they believe fair.”

A beautiful premise, but does it work?

Again, from Adrian himself:

“I ended up doing 22 websites in 2012, all by myself, all in the gift…every single client has supported me in whole.  

Every. Single. One.

Most clients gifted me with payment, and the payment is more than I ever received in the traditional model…” (source)

In other words, by removing a fixed-rate price from the equation, and giving away his talents, skills, and work as a gift, Adrian has made more per client than he ever did before.

I Want More Examples!

Adrian isn’t the only person letting people choose their price and finding incredible success.

Here are just a few examples (of hundreds that I’ve researched) of people using the gift-economy and Pay What You Want pricing to make a killing:

The Vennare brothers of TheHybridAthlete.com have been running a PWYW store for over a year now, and in an interview I did with them last year, they explained that they make hundreds per DAY using this strategy (do the math: we’re talking 6 figures from no set price).

Disconnect.me is a new tech startup that just raised over $3 million in funding and they run their entire operation using Pay What You Want pricing (and have no intentions to change)

Humblebundle.com makes millions for video game producers and charity by releasing limited-time PWYW videogame bundles every few weeks

Joost Van Dongen, a videogame developer I had the opportunity to interview several months ago, released a hobby project (Proun) and let his customers choose their price – and made over $20,000 from it

Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, and Amanda Palmer all have made millions from their PWYW album offers (in the case of Radiohead, they made more on their PWYW album than all their previous online album releases combined)

Weinerei Perlin is a Berlin-based winery that sells all their wine using PWYW pricing (and has for over 10 years)

Matt Homan is a consultant that offers blank invoices – and has doubled his income in the process

And this is just a small sample.

There are literally hundreds of other people and companies using this pricing technique and finding great success with it…

But there are also a few people I’ve interviewed who tried and failed.

The question is: what is it that separates successful PWYW offers from those that don’t work out?

Let’s get to it:

How to Remove Fixed-Prices from Your Blog and Increase Your Income

Before you go removing prices from everything on your site, you still need to understand a couple things:

#1. This ‘pricing model’ (or lack thereof) doesn’t work for everything.

Adrian is selling a premium service with a credible range of prices.  He’s not selling gasoline or In-N-Out Double-Doubles.

Commodities* don’t work in the gift-economy.

*if you find a gas station that lets me choose my price, please let me know.

#2. Letting people choose their price only works if you pitch it the right way.

Just because you slap a ‘Pay What You Want’ sticker onto your recycled beer coasters or set the price for your ‘Rapid Pet Grooming’ eCourse at $0+ doesn’t mean people will be generous.

You need to give them a REASON to contribute.

That’s why I created a simple-to-follow framework for anyone looking to apply the gift-economy (and in particular: Pay What You Want pricing) to their products or services (a framework I’ve used to make thousands in book sales and consulting in the past few months).

So consider this your personal crash course in Pay What You Want pricing:

How to get People to Contribute Generously to Your Work: The 6 Step Perfect Pitch Framework

Okay, I know the name is corny, but, as you’ll see, it works.

Here goes:

Step #1. Clarify the Offer

Common sense, but not common practice.  How can people be generous if they don’t know what you’re offering?

In reality – this same rule is just as important when selling a fixed-price product or service.

For more information on how to present a clear offer, listen to Brian Clark.

Step #2. Show the Customer You’re Human

People don’t give to machines (or corporations).

We give to people.

If you want the gift-economy to work for you, you need to connect with your readers, customers, clients, and guests.  You need to show them there’s a person behind the product or service whose blood, sweat and tears have gone into creating it.

Online – that means including pictures and videos of yourself, and writing in an authentic, passionate, and sincere voice.  For more practical tools, The Copywriting Scorecard for Bloggers will help get your writing on track so you come across like you (and not a robot).

Step #3. Appeal to Idealism

When it comes to Pay What You Want and the gift-economy, we still need to give people a good reason to contribute.

Appealing to idealism creates the spark people need to reflect on why they’re contributing.  When we make references to generosity, karma, good-will, etc. we are more able to activate the generosity of others (and yes, people are generous – we just need to give them the opportunity).

Step #4. Anchor the Price

Price anchoring is important for anything you’re selling, but it’s especially important for Pay What You Want offers.

When we price-anchor, we get people in the proper frame of mind for contributing larger than usual sums (or at least, larger than they would have had the price anchor not been present).

Two powerful ways to price anchor a PWYW product is by showing:

  • the itemized costs of materials or resources, or what equivalent amounts would look like on the high-end (e.g. “similar custom designed websites go for $7,000”)
  • the top-tier price points of competing products or services (e.g. “company X charges $20,000 for a new website)

Step #5. Steer the Customer to the Right Choice

Alright, so people have a reason to give (you’ve clarified the offer), they are comfortable with giving something (thanks to price-anchoring), and they want to give (because you appealed to their idealism)…now what?

PWYW and gift-economy is confusing stuff for the majority of the population since they’ve never experienced it.  A lot of people are immediately turned off by it because it confuses them.

You need to remove these fears by being very clear and helping people to the right choice.  You can do this by showing any or all of the above:

1. Total number of contributors (this a form of social proof)

2. Top-tier contributor prices (what did the top 10 people pay for this product?  This can be another form of price-anchoring)

3. Average contribution price (although this may lead to more ‘average price’ purchases of your PWYW offer)

Any (or all) of these will help people recognize what’s a fair offer and give them ample opportunity to be generous (if the average is ‘x’ then I will give ‘x+1’)

Step #6. (Bonus Step) Add Charity to the Mix

This is a game changer.

Want to skyrocket your PWYW income?  Add charity to the mix.

People don’t pay money for a product or service, they pay money for the story.  When we integrate a congruent charity into the mix (something that makes sense in the context of what we’re selling, like teaming up with Kiva.org for The Creative Entrepreneur journal) we multiply the effect of appealing to idealism.

A quick warning: assigning a random charity to support won’t work.  You’ve got to make sure it’s consistent with your message and the intent of your product or service.

The beauty of including charity?  It’s win-win. You make more income, a worthwhile charity gets a cut, and the customer is happy to contribute.

Call me biased, but this is a strategy I’d like to see every business adopt.

Putting the Gift Economy to Work

This is a basic framework for incorporating the gift-economy (specifically Pay What You Want pricing) into your work.

By no means does it mean you must offer EVERYTHING as a gift, nor as Pay What You Want.  I’m also not saying that fixed-pricing doesn’t work better in some cases (it does).

But, as you can tell from the examples above, this stuff works incredibly well when implemented the right way.

I hope you enjoyed the article and if you have any questions – leave them in the comments below!  I’d be happy to answer any and all questions.  This is an important topic and deserves a good conversation going forward.

Thanks for your time, and I’ll see you in the gift-economy…

Tom Morkes is an author, publisher, and pricing consultant, and you can get inside his brain at www.tommorkes.com/problogger where he applies what he learned leading troops in combat to entrepreneurship, art and writing.

Online Marketing: Why Email is a Richer Cousin to Social Media

social plus email

This is a guest contribution from Mike Swan of Markupcloud Ltd

Let’s put it without masking – email marketing is facing challenges unbridled;  not in terms of its effectiveness as an online marketing endeavor, but in a way it is being adopted and used. While the new players on the block have more or less ignored this still-most-effective way of web-marketing , there are others whose email marketing strategy is chaotic and restlessly roaming around the pillars of spamming, non-targeted emailing and bulk-emailing.

The influx of social media into the marketing realm is just an influx, nothing more. If you are led to believe that social media has invaded the way we are supposed to advertise our products, you would end up doing a  be a great deal of disservice to your business if you begin to bank heavily on social media with that belief. Emails are still much more effective than any social media platform. They are more personalized, more relevant, and stand a greater chance of being visible. And there are reasons to claim and believe so. And then, there are questions:

“I have 300 followers on Facebook, Why Would I Need Email-Marketing?”

Let’s say you post an article on your website, which is delivered duly to folks in your email subscription list. You post URL of the same article on your social media page. What does have a better conversion rate? Well, thanks to a platform like Facebook, if you have 300 fans on your page, you won’t get more than 30 fans to see your post on your luckiest day – unless you are adopting some alternate way to promote that post. As for the email subscription, your post is delivered to the inbox of every single subscriber. While not all might go ahead and read the article, the conversion rate is apparently much higher because of the greater visibility.

It’s Easier to Miss an Update on the already-flooded News Feed Than it is in Inbox

Again, this applies to the two most popular platforms, Twitter and Facebook. Thanks to the deluge of people your fans follow on Twitter, your tweet gets lost before it’s noticed. And same goes for Facebook and other social media platforms. But, irrespective of how many emails we receive in a day, we always scan for the ones which can be relevant to us.

So, you don’t need hotshot digital marketing professionals to formulate strategies, you don’t need to post the URL a dozen times a day, you don’t need to keep coming up with different ways to promote that single post (Well, you can do email marketing AND all this as well for meatier results).

One factor that underlines the above is that you have the permission of your readers to send your site’s updates to their inbox. So, you are not prying or spamming by any means. Email marketing, however, is not all about subscribers.

Social Media is Not the Only Way People Share

Not everyone is super keen to share what they see and like on their Facebook timelines. There is a huge chunk of people who still prefer sharing their favorite bits with people through emails. Now, because these shares are not on a public platform, and are shared through emails, they aren’t visible to all. However, they are more likely to evoke response because they are sent by the sender exclusively to few contacts in his/her email. And because it gets delivered to their inbox, we go back to the point number one of it being standing a better chance of being converted into a visit.

“How Do I Extract More Email Addresses?”

Now, this is where social media can prove to be handy. You do not have to solely rely on the traditional methods of extracting the emails of your visitors. There are easier and more effective ways to do so. You can, for example, use Facebook Connect to fetch the email addresses of those who have already been visiting your site. Facebook Connect displays a pop up on your site wherein a visitor who is already logged in to their Facebook account only to click a button on the pop up and his/her email address is automatically recorded into your subscribers list.

Get Your Subscription Forms Displayed Everywhere on Your Site

You can also create a separate website on your website that is dedicated to subscribing visitors to your blog. You can promote the page and drive more traffic towards it to improve your chances of getting more and more subscribers. In addition to this, let a subscription form appear below every post. If your readers are bothered enough to read the article down to its last word, there is a good chance that they would like to keep themselves attuned to your updates.

The Call-to-Action

You don’t always have to display the text “Subscribe to our updates” on the subscribe button. Sometimes, a clever use of words gives better results. Let’s say, you can use “Download Now” to signify that any update on the site would be downloaded on your visitor’s email.

Get All the Spam Rules in Order

Spamming can do more damage than you had expected. And there are more ways that qualify as ‘spamming’ than you had evaluated.

Here is the CAN-SPAM act for your consideration. Make sure you read it thoroughly to understand how you are contributing to spamming and why you should change your approach. Your subscribers signed up with you for a free giveaway you had promised, you should not use their email for marketing purposes unless this was a condition explicitly charted out at the time of signing them up. Also, you need to include a way for people to unsubscribe form your blog

Draft Them in Words that Stand Out

for delivering even better results, you need even more people noticing your emails, for which, you need to choose your words wisely. Going with the humdrum of a language isn’t likely to bring any result. Let the subject of your emails intrigue then. If your visitors are getting the updates about the latest articles on your blog, keeping the title of the article in the subject might just do the trick for you. Irrespective of the title you chose, it is going to be unique and different than the other emails they receive.

The email marketing results ways are good enough to make you aware of all the ways email marketing is good. As it continues to march ahead in top gear,  sooner you catch the wagon, better it would serve you in the long run.

Mike Swan is a creative web designer in Markupcloud Ltd with vast experience in Research and development vertex of web design technologies. He use to write  on various Markup conversion  processes and socialize it through social media platforms. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and G+. 

Top Three Takeaways from Finding Readers Week: What Can You Do Today to Create Community?

FINDING READERS

 

In the first week of May, you heard from several bloggers with unique perspectives on how they grew their readership into a force to be reckoned with. It was the fourth Theme Week we’ve held here on ProBlogger this year, and it was an interesting one. We had discussions about introducing forums, how to get people to read your personal blog, how to drive traffic to a startup blog, and how to create a beautiful blog that people can’t help but share with their friends. And while everyone had different advice, they all agreed on these three tips:

Top Three Takeaways from Finding Readers Week

1. Relationships

The universal sentiment was honour your reader. Give them great content and be approachable. DJ from SteamFeed says to “nurture them”. Talk to real people in real ways.

Mrs Woog agrees, saying she writes like she speaks, and that resonates with her readers. She likes to interact with her readers both on the blog and on her Facebook page. She says that she’ll start the conversations, and watch them develop – even seeing readers chat with each other. She advises being available to respond to your readers, and carve out time especially to do so.

Corinne took interacting with her readers to a whole new level when she shared her number-one tip for finding readers – to comment on other people’s blogs. She dedicated hours to doing this, and in turn, was rewarded with a highly-engaged readership who have a real sense of community. She then took it one step further and added forums for her readers to interact.

In addition to having great content delivered on a great platform that inspires sharing, Dustin recommends “writing for real people”, and said having a voice that people can relate to is crucial in growing your readership. He also advises having a reader profile so you know to whom you are talking.

2. Consistency

Whether it’s honing your voice and practising your writing often like Mrs Woog, or posting consistently so your readers know what to expect, like DJ, keeping a rhythm was important across the board. Be reliable. Be dependable. Make blogging and writing a priority. Keep at it. Sound the same in every post. Be recognizable everywhere. Corinne was consistent in commenting on others’ blogs, and that was a successful strategy. Dustin was consistent with the visual experience his readers would receive every time they clicked over to his site. When readers know what to expect (and they know they’ll get an honest, authentic voice), they’ll come back for more.

3. Be Where Your Readers Are

It can be an uphill battle throwing your blog to the internet and hoping it gets seen. A strategy that works better is to hang out online in the places your readers hang out. Or where your potential readers hang out. For some of you, that might be Instagram. For a majority, it will be Facebook. Your cohort might be the people who keep G+ rolling. Wherever they are, that’s where you can be. Mrs Woog is active on Facebook, using it as a tool to converse with her readership as well as a place to promote her new posts. DJ recommends syndicating your blog to other sites, and marketing it well. Corinne thinks Twitter is pretty useless for her blog, so went elsewhere for readers. And Dustin believes the right social media channels make all the difference. He advises to ignore the people saying you should be on all of them, and instead focus on cultivating a couple that really drive results. Above all, though, it has to be a platform you enjoy using.

I know I learned a few new things from such different perspectives – did something resonate with you, too?

Optimize Blog Content for Social Media with These 4 Effective Tactics

social media

Photo Credit: ePublicist via Flickr

This is a guest contribution from freelance blogger and writer Alicia Rades.

When you get a notification that someone tweeted or liked your latest blog post, you get excited. You can’t help but crack a smile and do a little fist pump because someone shared your content.

If you feel like the king (or queen) of the world and you do a little dance every time someone shares your blog post, get it out of your system now. Today you’re going to learn how to optimize your blog posts for social media, and when your notifications are ringing off the hook, you’re simply not going to have the energy to do a little dance every time someone shares your blog post.

Why do social shares matter? Well there’s the obvious. Social shares help spread the word of your content and brand, which helps drive more traffic. But what you should really care about is the fact that Google cares about social shares, so the more shares you can get, the better your pages will rank in search engines, which drives even more traffic to your site.

Check out these four effective tactics to help you optimize your blog content for social media to better promote your business.

1. Craft Your Headlines Wisely

Your headlines are perhaps the most important part of your social media strategy. Since your post title is the first thing your followers read on social media, you have to hook them so they’ll move on to read and share the post.

You can learn all about crafting powerful headlines for social media on Social Media Today. As this post mentions, it’s important to use emotion to grip your readers, but let’s dig deeper into optimizing your titles for social media.

First, let your readers know what the post is about so you can better connect with their interests. Someone who sees this title on Twitter isn’t likely to click on the link because they don’t know what to expect:

Trial and Error: How to Know When You’ve Got it Right

Okay: what exactly are you going to be talking about? This article could easily cover a range of topics, from learning how to parent and trying different recipes to discovering what works for you on social media. Instead, incorporate keywords that will connect with people’s interests. Some alternative titles include:

  • Trial and Error: How to Tell if Your Parenting Methods are Effective
  • How Using Trial and Error Can Help You Create Tastier Recipes
  • Discover Which Social Media Tactics Work for You with Trial and Error

Another important headline tactic is to keep it short. Most bloggers try to keep their headlines under 70 characters. Why do bloggers do this? Because any longer than that and your entire headline might not show up alongside your links. This means readers could lose valuable information that’s meant to hook them.

2. Use a Photo with Your Content

Social media websites like Facebook and Google+ usually feature a picture when you share a link to your content. But when you don’t set a photo for your post, your link doesn’t look as appealing.

Don’t think it matters that much? According to MDG Advertising, blog posts with compelling images receive a whopping 94 percent more views than those without. [Tweet That Stat!]

To make the most out of this, you have to consider a few things.

First, where can you find compelling photos? Glad you asked. You have several options:

  1. Take your own photos or hire a photographer to take photos for you.
  2. Find free photos on sites like CreativeCommons.org or Compfight.com. (Most of the time you have to attribute the image within your post.)
  3. Purchase photos on stock image sites like CanStockPhoto.com (photos starting at $2.50) or Getty Images (images starting at $25).

Once you’ve found an awesome image, you have to make sure it will show up properly when you share it on social media. In some cases, the social network won’t associate the image with your link if you simply insert the photo into your post. If you’re using WordPress, you can set a featured image, and Facebook and Google+ will usually use that photo alongside your link. To make sure, consider downloading the Facebook Open Graph Meta Tags for WordPress plugin, where you can choose which photo will show up with your link on social media.

3. Create Meaningful, Strong Quotes within the Content

When you have something interesting or meaningful to say, you can make it easy for your readers to share the quote by offering a “click to tweet” link. Since this tactic doesn’t require a lot of work for your audience and it easily draws attention to the sharing option, people are more likely to tweet your post.

A few ways to do this include:

  1. Head to ClicktoTweet.com and create your tweet. Generate and copy your link to incorporate it into your content. Easy peasy!
  2. Install the Click to Tweet by Todaymade plugin onto your WordPress site. In the CMS, click on the Twitter icon in your edit bar. Input the text you want people to tweet, and the plugin will create a box with your text in it and a “Click to Tweet” link.

Creating meaningful quotes isn’t only helpful for getting people to tweet your content. You can also use these quotes as a marketing tool to capture readers’ attention. Simply include the quote in your updates when you share the post on Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn to draw readers into your words.

4. Include a Call-to-Action

If your main purpose is to increase exposure on social media, ask people to share your content.

But it’s not always effective to simply say, “Please share my post!”. You sound desperate.

Instead, connect with your readers and make them want to share the content by focusing on how they feel or have felt reading your piece. Don’t just tell them to share your post, either. Tell them exactly what to do by mentioning which social media platform to share on so you don’t leave them with too many options.

Here are some examples of good calls-to-action:

  1. Loved these ideas? Let everyone know by liking this post on Facebook.
  2. Do you share these same views? Tell the world by sharing this post on Facebook.
  3. Rise to the challenge and help spread the word by tweeting this post.

Make it easy for readers to share your content by offering easy-to-find sharing buttons (because let’s face it, no one wants to waste time copying and pasting). A few excellent plugins that offer easy-to-find buttons include:

Let’s put some of these strategies to the test. Enjoyed these tips? Do your friends a favor and let them in on these blog writing tactics by Tweeting this post with the share buttons above.

Alicia Rades is a freelance blogger and writer. She manages a blog called The Writing Realm and offers blog writing services on her website at AliciaRadesWriter.com.

10 Quick Tips for Entrepreneurial Bloggers

Earlier in the week I was looking through my Sprout Social reports to do some analysis on what tweets I’ve done in the past that have had the most impact in terms of reach, retweets, and replies.

What I found is that among the most retweeted tweets were things I’d said in twitter chats or statements that I made in keynote presentations at conferences – that I’d tested before speaking on Twitter.

As I looked them over, I thought it might be fun to compile them together into a deck of slides to share.

Here is the result: 10 tips that I think are pretty relevant for those wanting to build blogs or a social media presence.

Which do you agree or disagree most?

PS: I’ve been experimenting a bit lately with Slideshare as a way of repurposing content and think there’s a lot of potential. Have you? What have you found that works best for you?

Creating a Virtual Community to Build a Better Blog

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Image via Flickr user Steve.Garner32

This is a guest contribution from Sarah Loomes of licoriceandolives.com

There are many online communities available for your readers to reach out to, on all manner of topics – so how can you fill a need that isn’t already being taken care of out there?

I was stuck in a bit of plateau in my blogging and found myself re-reading the “31 Days to a  Build a Better Blog” and brainstorming about a problem that my readers might have that I could solve. It was January, and New Year’s resolutions were aplenty, so having a health and fitness blog I needed a way to help my readers achieve their goals. I am notorious for losing motivation around March (if I am lucky enough to even make it as far as March), so I figured many of my readers would be in the same boat. I had been wanting to host a fitness challenge for some time but there were hundreds of different variations already out there that were all much the same – short term.

That was where my Virtual Race Series came in. I created a series where 12 virtual races occur across the world throughout the year. A Virtual Race can be done anywhere around the globe within a fixed timeframe, and the GPS data from a sports watch or smart phone is submitted for your time.  

I found it built a wonderful community on my blog, and provided a place where readers could come together to cheer each other on and support each other. It had the added benefit of creating a sense of collaboration and real engagement – something every blogger wants. This is how I made sure I made the most of that momentum:

Interact with the Reader

Due to the engagement of everyone involved with the race series, once there is a great community environment then the interaction starts to become self-perpetuating.  Before launching the race series, I found myself spending a lot of time on sharing my content, trying to find readers and I really wasn’t seeing any significant increase in my readership. Now I can concentrate my time on those elements of the blog that will actually lead to engagement. 

Finding the Time

I am not a full-time blogger, so finding the time to develop new ideas for the blog and stick to a consistent posting schedule can be tricky. I generally post two to three times a week and schedule my posts ahead of time including automatically posting to social media. Finding the time to consistently post on the same days at the same time has definitely seen an increase in the engagement of my readers and the visitors to my site.

Dealing with Challenging Readers

This is the internet and, let’s be honest, there will always be people who don’t like what you are doing or saying and want to be vocal about it. There have been a few people not happy with the rules and requirements that I have placed on the participants of my race series. I am the first to admit that I am no expert when it comes to hosting Virtual races, in particular an entire series. So honesty is my policy, I ask for feedback from the readers and implement what seems fair and equitable.

Social Media Platforms

Instagram, Facebook and Twitter have been the primary gathering place for the community of runners – platforms that are easy to use and allow easy conversation.  For the particular group that I am appealing to, I found Facebook to be the best way to create that sense of involvement. I have set up a group for all the race participants where everyone can post their run pictures and running events. There is a lot of communication and encouragement between the runners including information sharing on all running related questions.  Instagram has quickly become a gathering spot for all things health and fitness. So naturally I have a hashtag that the runners can use to share their photos of their run.

Key Points:

Know your reader – why would they come to your site and gather around it? How can you cater to that?

Take your reader into account when targeting social media – use what they already use.

Remember you are human – everything you do won’t be perfect.

Sarah Loomes blogs at Licorice and Olives about her newfound love for running, biking, and OzTag. You can join her Virtual 5k race here.

Pushing Through Barriers to Strike Gold

Image via Flickr user Tony Oliver

Image via Flickr user Tony Oliver

The year was 1851, and two brothers stood by a bend in a creek that had wishfully been named ‘Golden Point’ by gold prospectors in days gone by.

Cavanagh was the surname of the two brothers, and they’d been digging – along with around 600 others – in their ‘claim’ at Golden Point for days.Some gold had definitely been found on this particular bend in the creek. In fact, numerous miners had made good – although not spectacular – money from their finds in previous weeks.

Most of the gold had been found in the sandy ground to a depth of around 1m (3.2 feet), but at that point, everyone who dug hit a hard layer of clay and received no reward for their effort.

The result was that the area was littered with abandoned claims – holes in the ground were everywhere, all dug to a depth of around 1m.

Miners around the Cavanagh brothers that day were beginning to talk of rumors coming from further up creek of richer pickings and in the 24 hours that followed, most of the men had moved on.

But the brothers Cavanagh had a hunch.

They wanted to see what would happen if they dug deeper, and so began the arduous task of digging into the hard clay that everyone else had stopped digging at.

They chose an abandoned claim from another miner and began to dig.

The work was hard and unrewarding.

They dug and found nothing but more clay.

Inch by inch they chipped away at the clay only to find more clay.

All day they dug.

The next morning they continued to dig as the last miners around them abandoned their claims and moved on to chase their dreams up creek.

I can just imagine those miners abandoning their claims shaking their heads at the brothers and laughing at their foolhardy efforts.

But the brothers had a belief and kept their focus.

As sunset approached and after hours of back-breaking work, the brothers finally broke through the last of the clay at around the depth of 2m.

Under the clay they found what centuries ago had been the old bed of the creek, and in it were pockets of gold that had been washed down the creek from the mountains over hundreds of years.

The brothers worked into the night feverishly until the light from their lamps gave up. Imagine how they must have felt as they attempted to sleep that night!

The next day they arose early and assessed their work. In the light of day the full reality of what they’d uncovered started to sink in. There was gold down below that clay… and lots of it!

In a single day, the Cavanagh brothers found 27 kilograms (60 pounds) of gold.

That day’s takings alone earned the men over  £3500, which was more than enough to set the two brothers up for life.

One month later 10,000 miners worked in the area around Golden Point – and the wider Ballarat area, and it became known as the richest known gold field in the world for that time.

You can bet that those who followed the brothers dug deeper than they had previously!

Reflections on the Cavanagh Brothers’ Experience

I first came across the story of the Cavanagh brothers while researching a project I was doing in high school, and have since found myself reflecting upon it many times.

I love the determination, the focus, and the persistence of these two men.

I love how that despite the distractions of rumours from up creek that they continued to dig… where others had already dug and given up at the first sign of clay.

I love that they persisted while others followed the exciting rumours of fortune and in doing so found a fortune that others could only dream of finding.

I love that through their persistence that they not only found their own fortune, but opened the eyes to others – others who probably had looked at them thinking that they were crazy for digging into that clay – to a new way.

Sometimes Success Comes Through Digging in Hard Places

There have been times over the last few years where I’ve at times felt a little like the brothers Cavanagh.

While my hands do not toil with a pick or shovel digging into hardened clay, there are days where I do second-guess my actions and wonder if I should head upstream to start something new.

I’ve seen many bloggers come and go over the years. People who, like me, saw the opportunity in blogging to build something significant – but who at the first sign of clay abandoned their blogs.

Then there were others who abandoned their work because of the exciting ‘rumors’ from up creek… bloggers who stopped blogging to MySpace… to tweet…  to Tumblr… to Facebook… to G+…

The blogosphere is littered with abandoned blogs and I sometimes wonder what might have happened if some of those bloggers had kept digging through the clay.

While I know not all would have succeeded, I do think that persistence is a big part of successful blogging (and success in almost all fields).

My experience of blogging is that while there have been days where I’ve dug into rich veins of gold and great fortune, they’ve always come after focused effort of digging in hard ground.

What Defines Blogging Success For You?

imageThis is a guest contribution from blogger Carly Findlay.

One day, during a ProBlogger Twitter Chat, I got into a debate with a blogger who placed all their worth on statistics. Small page views meant they did not feel successful. I tried to tell them that success is more than just page views, but it was hard to convince them in 140 characters.

One big ‘mistake’ I made with blogging was wanting to monetize and feeling left out when brands didn’t approach me or knocked me back when I asked them.

I was getting nowhere with sponsorship pitches. It seems no brand wants a chronic illness blogger. Even the brand who make products that save my life didn’t want to work with me. I’d hear bloggers talk about how easy it was to create a media kit and get flown around Australia to view product launches and receive beautiful jewellery in the mail. And I wasn’t getting those opportunities. I was despondent, measuring my worth on a lack of press releases. I’ve since learnt blogging success is so much more than monetizing. Comparison is the thief of joy and all that.

I was annoyed for a short time. But then I realised, I am successful without fully monetizing my blog and getting millions of hits. While I wasn’t being inundated with offers to review products, I was getting offers from influential people that wanted to work with me. Editors, CEOs, teachers, charities, and causes. These offers of work – both paid and unpaid – have been more related to my blog niche and personal values that solely working with brands could ever be. Occasionally I will do a sponsored post for a brand that I value, but for the most part, I created my business plan to make money away from my blog.

Since I’ve started this blog (it’s one of many I’ve had since 2001) I’ve created a freelance writing and speaking career. I have written for The Guardian, DailyLife, Mamamia, ABC Ramp Up, News.com.au, BlogHer, The Daily Dot, Essential Baby, Kidspot, and Frankie Magazine. I’ve won numerous writing awards and been selected for The Guardian’s diverse writers workshop. I’ve spoken at conferences in Australia and the UK. I have also lectured in genetics and media at the University of Melbourne. I will run a number of sessions on writing and self advocacy at the Emerging Writers Festival this month and next. I’ve also competed my Masters thesis on the way blogging has helped me form a sense of identity.

Blogging success has also come from being asked my opinion on topics around disability advocacy and being invited to participate in events such as judging film festivals for organ donation and disability awareness. I reached out to Sam Johnson when he began Love Your Sister, asking him if I could blog his journey. He said yes!

One of the biggest things that has happened to me because of my blog was being asked to speak at a university conference in the UK after the university program found my blog. They tweeted a link to my blog, I thanked them, we formed a working relationship and they invited me to speak. My hospital helped fund my trip – I was their first academic patient that they sponsored to speak at an international conference!

Lastly, I receive messages from blog readers who are struggling with their appearance, or a new parent to a baby with Ichthyosis (the same skin condition as I have), telling me that my story has made a difference to them. Occassionally I receive an email from a reader telling me they felt alone until they found my blog and can now see some hope for themselves or their child, and have been encouraged to seek medical or psychological help. Through blogging I’ve come in contact with so many people from around the world, and I’ve personally met a few other people with Ichthyosis. I have had so many people write to me saying they’re confident to tell their story about Ichthyosis to their families, friends or wider communities (or even online) now. Hearing about empowerment like that is better than huge numbers of page views.

I believe that statistics don’t necessarily equal success. Bloggers can look for other ways to reach success, form communities, and feel intrinsically rewarded through knowing their blog makes a difference to readers.

My Top Five Tips:

  1. Find your niche
  2. Don’t become focused on or despondent with page views
  3. If you want your business to be blogging, see how you can diversify to make money beyond your blog
  4. Value your readers and celebrate that you’re making a difference to them
  5. Keep at it!

Carly Findlay is a blogger based in Melbourne, Australia, writing about what it’s like to look different. She blogs at carlyfindlay.blogspot.com and tweets at @carlyfindlay