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Beginner Week – Discussion: What Did You Find Hardest as a New Blogger?

Theme Week

With all the chat around new blog tips, mistakes made, and resources used, we’ve got to thinking – what were the biggest obstacles to you all when you first started out blogging? Was it finding readers, tech stuff, or design? Perhaps it was navigating social media, or even finding content to write? I do know a lot of the people I’ve spoken to have all wondered how much of “themselves” they should put in their posts. And where’s the line of overshare?

Feel free to have a conversation about what stumped you and perhaps how you overcame it. I’m willing to bet it’s going to be so useful to other readers. Your tip might be the one thing they need to read today!

Today is the last day to get 50% off ProBlogger’s Guide to Your First Week of Blogging – hop to it!

Beginner Week – Resource Roundup: 10 Links you Can’t Live Without

Theme WeekBeginner Week has been jam-packed with tales from the trenches  - from how to set up a blog, to a newbie success story, Darren’s Beginner Dos and Don’ts; and 31 mistakes established bloggers made way back in the early days of their blog.

Today we’re back with even more goodies to take away: our 10 most popular (and useful!) posts for beginner bloggers. Get ready to Pin, bookmark, save to Evernote, or however you keep interesting posts for future reference – you won’t want to leave this one behind!

1. Five First-Year Posts that Led to Over 6 Million Views: Darren tells the story of the five posts on Digital Photography School that managed to attract a huge readership in its first year, and why he thinks they were so successful at driving traffic.

2. Webinar: 10 Things I Wish I Knew About Blogging: For Darren’s 10th blogging anniversary, he celebrated by sharing a recording and slides about what he would loved to have known when first starting out.

3. Crawl Before You Walk: 6 Step-by-Step Instructions for Starting Your Own Blog: A guest contributor leaves nothing to chance and explains the six things you NEED to know.

4. Recommended Blogging Resources: Things Darren uses in everyday blogging that you might find useful.

5. Guest Post: 10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started: A guest contributor narrows early blogging down into 10 useful and productive key items for success.

6. How I Make Money Blogging: Darren lays all his cards on the table and explains exactly how it works behind the scenes.

7. 9 First-step Goals for New Bloggers: So much to do, so little time. The nine goals Darren believes beginners should aim for if they’re looking for a bit of direction. Then the sky is the limit!

8. What My  Wife Has Taught Me About Blogging After Just Three Months: Darren’s wife Vanessa’s blog was an instant hit – and it made Darren pause and reflect on what she had done differently to his blogger beginnings that made it such a success.

9. How Much Content Should I Have Ready to Go When I Launch a Blog?Darren sits down with a group of bloggers yet to start a blog and explains how much content should be published on a brand-new blog, versus how much content he actually had when starting. A great lesson to learn!

10. What Mistakes Did You Make When You First Started Blogging? What Would You Do Differently?: A reader asks Darren to share his top three mistakes made in the early days. The comments from other bloggers about their beginner blogger mistakes are also eye-opening.

Over to you – what resources did you find as a beginner that you found super-useful? (I always find new things at Amy Lynn Andrews‘ site. It’s a goldmine!)

Don’t forget, we also have 50% off ProBlogger’s Guide to Your First Week of Blogging right here! Use the code BEGINNERWEEK.

Beginner Week: We Asked Veteran Bloggers to Reflect on Mistakes Made in Their Early Days

Theme WeekThe early days of blogging (for most of us) are filled with detours, roadblocks, and just plain slip-ups that we can make in the privacy of our own small readerships. As our blogs and their communities grow, so too do the lessons we’ve learned from the early mistakes that we’ve made. During Beginner Week, we checked back in with some bloggers who blundered with the best of us, only to come out the other side stronger and smarter than ever. They were kind enough to share their nuggets of wisdom with you.

We begin with some of Australia’s best bloggers:

Add textCaitlin – Mother Down Under // Nikki – Styling You // Christina – Hair Romance // Sarah – A Beach Cottage // Matt – Dad Down Under

Mistakes most mentioned

There seemed to be a few recurring themes in the answers of the bloggers we asked – topics like being authentic, writing in your own voice, focusing on your readers, and being useful.

Kelley at Magnetoboldtoo: “You need to decide at the start whether you are going to use real names and if not what their monikers will be. And try not to use something that everyone else is using.”

Carly at Smaggle:  “I got told really early on to always make sure that your reader is getting something out of everything that you post. I ask myself every time I’m about to post something ‘What is my reader getting out of this?’ – It’s stops you being self indulgent and helps you to edit effectively.”

Kylah at Intrepid Monkeys: “I tried too hard to write educational / information rich content all the time. Like I was writing essays for uni. Over time I’ve come to trust my own voice and open up a lot more which seems to resonate better with my readers.”

Chantelle at Fat Mum Slim: “I think the biggest mistake I made in the beginning was writing for myself, like I was writing in a journal… and not engaging an audience at all – which mainly was because I didn’t have an audience! But when I realised I could engage and create community-based stuff, I loved it. And what I learned from it? Engaging an audience is awesome, and it makes it easier for a shy blogger like me to turn the attention on to someone else. It’s a more comfortable way to blog.”

Emily at You Learn Something New Every Day: “Being too nervous to comment on the blogs of people I was in awe of. Panicking if I didn’t post EVERY SINGLE DAY. And not asking questions/engaging the reader. And plenty more mistakes to come, no doubt!”

Mrs Woog at Woogsworld: “I write very broadly, [and] my old stuff was quite beige. Also read a lot, not just blogs. Read books and see whether there is a pattern in what you are attracted to. It is ok to be influenced by people, but develop your own style. Also do it every day, even if you do not feel like it. It was become a pleasurable habit in the end.”

Carly at Carly Findlay: “One of my mistakes i made – though not early on – was to use an argument I had with someone as inspiration for a blog post – without permission. The argument was about parental one-upmanship – I was discussing something with a friend on FB and their friend jumped in and told me that because I am not a parent, I just don’t understand responsibilities or something like that. While I used more than one example of parental oneupmanship experienced in my blog post, my friend saw that I used the argument I had with her friend as an example on my blog, she got extremely upset and we are no longer friends. I pride myself on asking permission to use names and pictures of friends on my blog, so I dont know why I just didn’t check with my former friend before I used this example. Am wistful on that experience, but I’ve learnt from that. Always ask before posting.”

Deborah at Diet Schmiet: “Finding a good balance is important. I see a lot of newbies get all keen and blog daily (or more) but fizzle out after a while as they can’t sustain it. Having said that – I was a bit ad hoc for a while… however my blogging was all about ‘writing’ so I was really only doing it for me and didn’t promote or share with readers at all.”

The back end

And of course, for the non-techies among us, some of the behind-the-scenes stuff stumped us:

Melissa – Camper Trailer Travels: “The name of my blog….when I started it was just something to do in my spare time but then I started getting comments and likes and I thought maybe I can do more with it but I’m still not sure about the name – Camper Trailer Travels but we won’t always own a camper trailer.”

Andrea at Fox in Flats: “I designed and built the first version of my site myself, and because I have no background in this it took quite a long time, with lots of trial and error. Eventually I found a great ready-made theme that I purchased for $80 and was able to customise it. Happily, all my tinkering before that meant that that wasnt so challenging. And having forced myself to learn a bunch of the back end stuff, I’m now able to update aspects of my current design, without having to pay my designer to to everything for me. That said, if you can afford it, and worried about time it’s worth getting a pro to build your site for you.”

Rachel at Redcliffe Style: “Use your own images or giving the correct credit for the images used.”

Corrie at RetroMummy: “I wish I’d moved to wordpress and had my website designed earlier than I did – been talking about it for years before I actually did it and only did it in 2013! And learn to take better photos early on – again I only learnt to take photos in manual in 2013 and wish I’d done it earlier.”

Lisa at Mrs BC’s House of Chaos: “The one mistake I made that I would go back in time and change if I could would be not starting on WP. Now 4 years later I’m still on Blogger because migrating seems like such a big drama.”

Katrina at The Organised Housewife: “I wish I started self hosted from the beginning and I always tell people it’s important to protect your brand no matter how small by purchasing your .com and .com.au.”

Kelly at A Life Less Frantic: “My major early mistake was thinking my blog posts should be about me,  i.e. … there was nothing in them for my readers.”

Amanda at Cooker and a Looker: “I had little understanding of SEO when I started and called my posts obscure names. No one will ever find my kick-arse okonomiyaki recipe because I named it “(almost) banged up abroad and a recipe for what you want”. Whoops!”

Glenda at Healthy Stories: “Wasting my time with a free wordpress theme. We all want to save money when we start out since we aren’t making any money from the blog yet, but free themes can only do so much and I spent heaps of time tweaking the theme and never being satisfied. There are lots of cheap themes out there that cost only $40-50 that are really well built and will save you loads of time that you can then use to write, promote and start earning money.”

Cate at Cate Bolt: “get a good foundation from the start. Even if it’s bigger than what’s actually needed. It’s nice to say ‘start small and expand if you want to’ but if you don’t have the framework in place, it makes changing things really difficult. Check out the more popular blogs and see what plugins etc they’re using and implement them from the very beginning so you don’t have to try to migrate to something bigger and better when you’re rich and famous.”

Making money

Either too much, too little, or not knowing how to value ourselves and our time…

Lara at This Charming Mum: “Saying yes to every offer of guest blogs or product promotions in case they didn’t ask me again. I got myself over committed writing about things that didn’t really have much to do with the central aims of my blog. I promoted irrelevant products I wasn’t that interested in because I was excited about a bit of free stuff!”

Kimberley at Kimberley Magain: “The mistake I made was to ignore monetising it! I started my first blog in 2003 in Japan, as an ex-pat travel blog, before blogging was a “thing”. When I started to get unsolicited people wanting to advertise on my blog I fobbed them off with a curt message of, “Why would you want to advertise on a BLOG!” Famous last words. I was in an amazing position and didn’t take advantage of it.”

Feeling inferior

And the rise of the green-eyed monster. Very rarely useful!

Ros at Sew Delicious: “Don’t underestimate others. There are a lot of quiet achievers out there doing amazing things.”

Beth at BabyMac: “Definitely don’t compare yourself as it’s impossible to create your own style if you are trying to emulate someone else.”

Trudie at My Vintage Childhood: “No one wants to read epic long posts with no pics. Blogging becomes so much more fun and enjoyable when you stop worrying about what others are doing and the opportunities they appear to be having, and just concentrate on engaging with your audience and have fun. Stop over thinking posts, just hit publish and have fun.”

And spreading the word: life on social media

Network, network, network – some of us were doing it alllll wrong.

Kate at Drop Dead Gorgeous Daily: “I spent a fair bit of money on Facebook ads to increase our page likes, which is completely wasted now FB make it so hard to even be seen by your likers. Never pay for something you can’t own!!”

Dorothy at Dorothy K: “Not reading other blogs and commenting on them. But that was early days when commenting was worthwhile and created conversation and return visits.”

Kirsten at Kirsten and Co: “While starting out with blogger was a really easy way to start blogging, I wish I’d just jumped straight into things with a decent WP theme. I also wish I’d commented/networked a bit more with other blogs and bloggers when I first started out.”

We’d love to hear if any of these mistakes have resonated with you – have you learned something new from these stories today?

If not, you can learn lots of things new with 50% off the ProBlogger Guide to Your First Week of Blogging in honour of Beginner Blogger week. Use the code BEGINNERWEEK at the checkout and revel in your newfound knowledge!

Beginner Week: My 43 DOs and 25 DON’Ts of Blogging

Theme WeekEleven and a half years ago when I hit publish on my first ever blog post, I had little idea what I was doing and what was going to unfold for me over the coming decade.

As I prepared for a recent mini ProBlogger event event in Perth, I created a little list of some of the ‘dos and don’ts’ of blogging that I wish I’d known back in 2002 when I started. As it’s Beginner Week here on ProBlogger, I thought it might be appropriate to share them here on the blog today:

Note: these are MY dos and don’ts, and reflect my own style of blogging. I am not putting them forward as ‘rules’ that apply to all. I’d love to see your dos and don’ts in comments below.

My 43 DOs of Blogging

  1. Do create a blog that is meaningful to you
  2. Do set yourself some goals and objectives for your blog
  3. Do ‘write’ something every day (note that I didn’t say ‘publish’)
  4. Do as much as you can to get in your readers shoes and understand who they are
  5. Do use surveys and polls to help you understand your reader
  6. Do create content that meets your readers’ needs, answers their questions, and solves their problems
  7. Do write in an engaging voice
  8. Do start an email newsletter
  9. Do pay attention to the design of your blog – first impressions count!
  10. Do communicate clearly what your blog is about into your design
  11. Do spend time ‘off’ your blog engaging in the places where your potential readers gather
  12. Do go to the effort of registering your own domain
  13. Do create visual content
  14. Do model the kind of community that you want your blog to have
  15. Do install analytics and track the results of what you do
  16. Do find some blogging buddies who you can bounce ideas off and have mutual support with
  17. Do make sure you have ‘real life’ friends too – they’ll ground you
  18. Do become hyper-aware of problems (yours and other people’s), and obsessed with solving them
  19. Do create something to sell from your blog
  20. Do think beyond what you’ll write today – develop an editorial calendar
  21. Do set aside time to learn the skills you lack
  22. Do set aside time to brainstorm topics to write about
  23. Do read other people’s blogs – you’ll learn a lot from them
  24. Do share your opinion – it is what often differentiates you
  25. Do share stories – your own and other people’s
  26. Do back up your blog!
  27. Do blog with passion
  28. Do look for ‘win/win/win’ relationships with brands where you, the brand and your reader benefit
  29. Do show your personality – be yourself
  30. Do pay attention to what is energising you and do more of it
  31. Do pay attention to what is energising your readers and do more of it
  32. Do spend time refining and perfecting post headlines
  33. Do think about what ‘action’ you’re calling readers to take in your content
  34. Do make peace with the fact that there will always be more that you can do
  35. Do learn how to prioritise and focus upon activities that take you closer to your goals
  36. Do pay attention to your archives – update and promote them regularly
  37. Do push through bloggers block
  38. Do spend time analysing what types of content are being ‘shared’ in your niche – publish this kind of content semi-regularly
  39. Do use social proof
  40. Do take breaks from blogging – weekends and vacations are important!
  41. Do ask your readers a lot of questions and listen to what they say
  42. Do treat your blog as a business today… if you want it to be one tomorrow
  43. Do create content that Informs, Inspires and Interacts

My 25 DON’Ts of Blogging

  1. Don’t be afraid to hit publish
  2. Don’t feel you have to publish something every day
  3. Don’t publish when angry (or drunk)
  4. Don’t become a comment spammer on other people’s blogs
  5. Don’t publish just for the sake of publishing content
  6. Don’t use other people’s stuff without permission and credit
  7. Don’t focus so much about the readers you don’t have – have a big impact upon the ones you do have
  8. Don’t stretch yourself too thin (too many posts, too much SM) – do what you do really well
  9. Don’t become too promotional
  10. Don’t hit publish without one last proof read
  11. Don’t write purely for search engines
  12. Don’t sell out
  13. Don’t engage in every type of social media – analyse where your readers are and do those mediums well
  14. Don’t look for a ‘blueprint’ for successful blogging – forge your own path
  15. Don’t publish large chunks of text – break it up and make it scannable
  16. Don’t hide your mistakes – be transparent
  17. Don’t feed the trolls – be polite, kind, and firm
  18. Don’t let the negative things people say about you sink in – it’ll pull you down
  19. Don’t let the hyped praise people give you sink in – it’ll over-inflate your ego
  20. Don’t expect to get rich quick
  21. Don’t compare yourself to others – compare yourself to you when you started
  22. Don’t spend all your time ‘learning’ about blogging at the expense of actually blogging
  23. Don’t think there’s just one way to monetize your blog
  24. Don’t become so obsessed with blogging that you forget to have a real life
  25. Don’t give up too quickly – building a blog takes time

Of course I’m scraping the surface in this list but I hope for those of you starting out it gives you a few starting points. Also keep in mind that these are not ‘rules’ and that the do’s don’t guarantee success and the ‘don’ts’ don’t guarantee failure. In fact I’ve written many of the don’ts as a result of my own mistakes but things turned out ok in the end for me despite those failures.

If you’d like to go deeper on some of these themes check out the recording and slides of my webinar – 10 Things I Wish I Knew About Blogging.

Also don’t forget we are having a 50% off sale on the ProBlogger Guide to Your First Week of Blogging during Beginner Week. Simply enter the code BEGINNERWEEK at the checkout.

Beginner Week – Katie180′s success story

Theme WeekKATIE180 (2)

The name “Katie 180” was gaining traction in Australian blogging circles before Katie Rainbird’s site was even launched. Two short months after she first pressed “publish”, Eden Riley, one of Australia’s best bloggers, pointed her out in the crowd of a Digital Parents conference. “If you want to know how to start a blog,” she said, “just go and read Katie180”. This caught the attention of one Darren Rowse in the audience, who quickly secured her to speak at his own conference later that year.

So how did someone who had only a handful of posts to her name get the attention of the Aussie big guns – something we all would have loved in our early days?

Well, let’s find out.

The Beginning

With a long-held dream of writing, Katie believed she could seamlessly marry her newfound nutrition knowledge with her love of prose. Eschewing the more traditional route of diet advice private practice, Katie took to the internet with her smarts and a burning ambition: Write. Be seen.

“Whilst studying nutrition I started planning to take my knowledge and put it to paper, so to speak,” she says. “Originally I thought about freelancing, but once I discovered blogging it was a real ‘ah-ha’ moment for me and I just KNEW that was the way for me to go!”

Without wanting to rush into things, Katie ensured her site was properly designed and she was finished her studies before launching. A far cry from some of us who blog first and ask questions later!

“Well I didn’t really wait long when you consider that I only decided upon blogging in my final year of college (two years ago),” she says. “I wanted to be qualified before I started blogging about nutrition, and I wanted it to be perfect – ha! But I set my mind to a New Year launch, and even though my blog design wasn’t up to my perfect standards, I hit publish on my first post on January 10th, 2013.

With all that time to tinker before birthing her blog baby, she did a lot of behind-the-scenes preparation. A list that looks a little something like this:

  • Firstly I applied to a call out for guest bloggers on an American based raw food blog, which was accepted and I posted for them with strict deadlines, word counts and of course, content – although I was a nutritionist I wasn’t a raw foodie so it tested my skills.
  • I attended writing and blogging courses held at the Australian Writers’ Centre.
  • I “collected” other nutrition or healthy/foodie types of blogs (even those I didn’t really like or align with) to get a feel for what was going on in this genre and I would take note of which posts received the most commentary or interaction.
  • I tested the waters with a Facebook group on my personal Facebook page, which was also called Katie180 and I would post there a couple of times a week: recipes, photos of food, summaries of nutrient actions and fast facts kind of stuff. It was quite well received and gave me a lot of confidence that so too would my real blog once I started it. It also provided me with an audience ready to follow me over.
  • I also did this with Instagram, I built up a following and a fair few people asked after my blog before it was even launched so I knew that I’d have readers there too.
  • I outsourced my blog design to a professional team and spent many months working with them on my logo, header, colour scheme, format etc.
  • Once I was blogging I quickly joined Twitter and set up a professional Facebook page and I’d plug every post across these two platforms plus my original Katie180 Facebook group and Instagram (even though that’s a bit cheeky but I wanted to catch readers any way I could!)

But with all that preparation and forward-thinking, Katie was still plagued with the concerns that any new blogger has: that no-one would read her blog. “That I’d put all this effort in and it would just be sitting there, sad and alone!” she says.

As usually happens, the excitement of starting a blog soon overshadowed those early-days concerns. Katie says it was a relief to have her voice heard, as was “breaking with convention insofar as my study path was concerned, not going into practice, not waiting around for people to come and find me, rather putting myself out there loud and proud!”

Before the Blog: What did she learn?

“The most important things I learned were from other bloggers (just from reading their blogs): to write in my own voice – be authentic, brave and passionate. To connect – respond, reply, interact across social media because that makes readers feel important and promotes loyal readership (and word of mouth.) To blog regularly – keep in their faces, keep relevant, be out there!”

Early Days: what did she learn?

“The number-one thing I learned was that it takes SO much more time than you think,” she says. “Imagine being asked at 5pm to submit an essay by 9am the next day – one that would entertain and inspire people and if possible include artistically styled photographs and full references to all sources of information. That’s kind of what writing my blog feels like considering I have young children and most of my writing is done after hours.

“Then there’s recipe sourcing, tweaking or inventing plus All the cooking, photographing etc.

And now?

“I work on my blog every day, even the days I don’t post – I’m replying to comments, emails and connecting via Facebook and Instagram,” she says.

“Another important point is that my target audience changed from who I imagined them to be to who they actually are and I began to write for them rather than bang my head on my desk wondering why my posts weren’t being received the way I wanted them to (the heavier reading/educational posts.) I don’t see this as a bad move because I have more readers now and, as such a bigger audience for when I do choose to publish longer articles.”

The basics: Design, Hosting, Content, oh my!

With an overwhelming amount of advice out there on how to get started, Katie cherry-picked the pieces that would work for her pie.

“I had read a number of blogs with posts focused on ‘What I learned this year’, or ‘How to start a blog’, and so on, and I knew that WordPress was preferred,” she said. “I wanted to give my money to an Australian company so I typed “blog design Australia” into Google and found The Blog Designers (clever name guys!) who were very friendly at my first phone call and had a set price of $500 for the entire job so that was that!” (theblogdesigners.com)

“I bought a domain name, I couldn’t get a .com so I went with .au. The team at The Blog Designers recommended a host so all of that techie/design stuff wasn’t in my hands, which took a major load off because that ‘aint my bag!

“My husband and I set up a company, Rainbird Media because he works for himself and via my blog I hope to also, so all these kind of costs can be factored in as expenses.

The next step: being seen

Blogging is never ‘build it and they will come’, more ‘get out there and be a part of the blogosphere’. How did Katie manage that in her early days? “Follow, ‘like’, comment, share, recommend, email directly, stalk – ha ha! It’s no different than how you connect offline,” she says. “You start hanging around and then you make small talk and if you hit it off then you have new friends.”

Looking back – what worked, what didn’t?

Hindsight is super-useful, and it’s no different with blogging. Looking back, Katie says the things she learned that she would do differently this time was to: “Write three months worth of posts and keep them in my drafts folder for rainy days. Do much more planning, recipe testing and photographing in advance. Learn about how to use WordPress, my camera and all the other gadgety bits that make blogs sexier for readers.”

Katie’s Top Takeaways for newbie bloggers

1. Know your specialty, you won’t be able to write with oomph unless you personally dig it.

2. Pay attention to formatting and punctuation. Take a writing course if you can afford to.

3. Hang out at other blogs, get a feel for how you’d like your blog to function and look like. Whilst you’re at it, make friends with the bloggers and regular readers/commentors because these are your people now!

4. Outsource design and tech support if you can afford it.

5. Allow time for it, because it’s going to take time, even if it’s “just” a hobby blog. But if your plans are to use it as a platform to earn money then treat it with the same respect you would an internship at the best job you could ever imagine!

You can read Katie at her blog Katie180 (including her post on how she started blogging), join her (very supportive and informative!) Facebook page here, tweet her here, or follow in Instagram here.

*We are also offering 50% off the ProBlogger Guide to Your First Week of Blogging for this week only! Enter the code BEGINNERWEEK at the checkout.

ProBlogger Training Event Tickets are Available to Purchase Now

In the last few minutes, tickets have gone on sale for this year’s ProBlogger Training Event on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia on August 29-30 of this year.

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You can get your tickets here.

It’s Our 5th Birthday

It’s hard for me to believe but this year will be the fifth annual event that we’ve run.

The first was for just 100 Aussie (and 1 New Zealander) bloggers and was hastily arranged in just a few weeks. Our speaker lineup was myself, Chris Garrett, and a handful of other local speakers.

Year two we saw 200 bloggers show up and we ran a streamed event with three rooms running at any one time, and featured more international guests like Sonia Simone from CopyBlogger, and Tim Ferris (4 hour work week), as well as a growing number of bloggers making a part-time living from their blogging.

Year three we grew to 300 attendees and enjoyed the company of Chris Guillebeau, but also saw a marked increase in the number of full-time Aussie bloggers speaking at our event.

Last year saw us move the event out of Melbourne for the first time up to the Gold Coast in Queensland. We had 450 in attendance and were joined not only by international speakers like Amy Porterfield, Tsh Oxenreider, and Trey Ratcliff, but also a growing number of international attendees. We also featured 20 or so Aussie bloggers as speakers – many of whom are doing really innovative things with their blogs to build profitable businesses.

Here’s a little video recap of last year:

And so we come to 2014.

This year we’ve decided to keep the size to the same as last year and are keeping the event at the wonderful QT hotel on the Gold Coast. Our hope is that by limiting the size at 450 we’ll retain some of the intimacy and community that we’ve built.

We’re supported this year by partners Tourism and Events Queensland, Virgin Australia and the QT Gold Coast.

2014 Speakers

This year I’m really excited about our speaker lineup. We’re very much focusing upon putting together a schedule that gives attendees very practical and actionable advice.

Speakers

Our international speakers this year include Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income, Rand Fishkin from Moz, Geraldine DeRuiter from Everywhereist, and Chris Ducker.

In addition to these amazing international speakers I’m very proud of our Aussie lineup, which includes Lucy Feagins (the Design Files), Chantelle Ellem (FatMumSlim), Shayne Tilley (my right hand man when it comes to Marketing), Nikki Parkinson (Styling You), Stacey Roberts (managing editor of ProBlogger), and many more that we’re continuing to announce on our speaker page.

This year tickets are $399 (that’s Aussie dollars) which includes the two full days training, morning and afternoon tea both days, lunch both days, a Friday night networking event (including your drinks and some food), recording and slides from most sessions as well as 8 months’ access to the brand new ProBlogger.com (which will be launched in the next week) which contains regular webinar teaching, some great plugins, and much more (worth over $200).

Tickets in previous years have always sold out ,so don’t delay your decision to grab one for too long as we’re unable to offer more than we do today in our first release, and we already have over 400 people on our Facebook page indicating that they’re coming.

Outside Australia?

Every year we run this event I get people from outside Australia saying that they wish they could come.

You can!

While it’s a bigger investment of time and money to fly in for this event we’re seeing more and more bloggers do it every year. In the last two years we’ve had attendees from the USA, UK, India, Malaysia, Singapore and New Zealand.

Here’s a couple of pieces of feedback I got this week from two of our wonderful international attendees from our 2014 event:

I came, I saw, I was humbled… by the passion that Darren’s team has towards helping the blogger community. The core principle that I learnt, is that ‘Our blog should make a deep personal connect with the reader, and for that to happen the blogger should be honest, transparent & truthful about what He/She blogs. ” – Prashant Karandikar from India

I thoroughly enjoyed PBEVENT in Gold Coast. I knew there was a reason why I journeyed from the U.S. Just the networking alone was totally worth it. It was great to mingle with other bloggers and understanding what makes them click in person. Plus I had a chance to learn more about that region of Australia with Tourism Australia and fellow travel bloggers. I enjoyed the speakers as well, especially Trevor Young, who gave me tips on setting up my speaker page. Thanks Darren for having the event, looking forward to the next one.” – Kerwin McKenzie from the USA.

No Virtual Tickets This Year

Please note that this year we do not intend to release a virtual ticket for this event. While we have done so in previous years to enable those not at the event to get access we’ve taken the decision this year to focus our efforts upon providing those attending the LIVE event with 100% of our attention this year.

More information on this decision on our Facebook Event Page here.

Grab Your Ticket Today Here

There’s more information our Event page here but don’t take too long to make your decision as demand this year seems to be high.

Tickets are now available for you to purchase here.

I hope to see you on the Gold Coast in August!

Beginner Week: Bite the Bullet and Start Your Blog with this Seven-Point Checklist

Theme WeekWelcome to ProBlogger’s second theme week – where we take a topic you’re interested in and drill right down to bring you all the information we can find to be of use to you. This week we are focusing on newbies – what do all beginner bloggers want to know? What are the first points of reference we should use, and where do we go from there? Today, please welcome Ali Luke from Zen Optimise, who has put together a handy checklist of things you should do in your first week of blogging to get yourself off the ground. There is also a fantastic deal on Darren’s “ProBlogger’s Guide to Your First Week of Blogging“, full of hints, tips and practical exercises for the beginner blogger. Even if you’ve had your blog for a while, it’s a great refresher of what really works in getting your site some traction. You can find all the content for this week’s theme at the bottom of this post.

Without further ado – here’s Ali.

Have you been reading ProBlogger for weeks, or even months, so you can learn everything you need to know before setting up your blog?

You might be wasting your time.

That’s not to say that the content on ProBlogger isn’t hugely valuable: of course it is. As a new blogger five years ago, I devoured a large chunk of the archives – and even today, I still get inspired (and pick up a few new tips) from posts here.

But I also know how easy it is to fall into the trap of reading post after post, struggling to make sense of it all, and wondering how you’ll ever take in all the information out there.

“Be Prepared” Can Go Too Far 

While it’s great to do some research before diving in and starting a blog, it’s easy to end up reading post after post after post … without taking any action.

Until you get your blog up and running, you won’t really know what you need to know. You might be reading about topics that you’ll never need to concern yourself with – or you might be missing out on information that’s going to be crucial.

Launching your blog can feel like a huge step. You want to get every detail right; you want it to be perfect right from the start.

The problem is, if that perfect ideal keeps you stuck, you’ll never have a blog at all. And a real, imperfect blog will outperform an imaginary perfect one in every way imaginable…

Start Your Blog This Week: Your Checklist

It’s time to bite the bullet. No, you probably don’t feel ready. Yes, there’s a lot you still don’t know. But you will learn so much faster from actually blogging than from simply reading about it.

Here’s what you need to do. If you tackle one task each day, you’ll have your blog up and running next week:

Day 1: Set a Clear Goal

What do you want your blog to do for you? “Make money” is a popular answer – but how?

Is your blog going to support your existing business and bring in new customers?

Do you have a service to offer, like design, writing, or coding?

Is it going to be market research – and a platform – for a book that you plan to launch?

Are you going to bring in lots of traffic and sell advertising space?

Will you review products as an affiliate, taking commission on sales?

All of these are perfectly valid strategies, but you need to be clear about what you’ll be doing right from the start.

Of course, your blog doesn’t have to be a money-making tool. Perhaps your motivation for blogging is to get your writing out there to the world, or to build up a strong reputation in your field.

Further reading:

Top 10 Blog Monetization Strategies, Ranked In Order (Blog Marketing Academy)

To do: 

Write your goal down, and keep it somewhere visible. You want to have your goal in mind over the next few days.

Day 2: Choose a Platform

There are so many different blogging platforms out there, and there’s a good chance you’ve heard of (and maybe tried out) a fair few of them. I’ll name a handful of them: WordPress, Blogger, Typepad, Tumblr, Squarespace…

Let’s make this decision easy. Your best option is almost certainly WordPress.

It’s used by most of the top blogs (including ProBlogger) and it’s a hugely flexible and powerful platform.

Ideally, you’ll want to go with self-hosted WordPress (WordPress.org) where you install your blog on your own web space. If you can’t afford hosting, though, you can use WordPress.com – this is still a powerful blogging platform, but it has certain limitations.

Further Reading:

Self Hosted WordPress.org vs. Free WordPress.com (WPBeginner)

To do:

Decide whether you’re using WordPress.org (self-hosted, recommended) or WordPress.com (hosted, a good second choice).

The rest of these instructions assuming you’re using WordPress.org; if you using WordPress.com or a site like Blogger, you won’t need hosting, and you can choose not to buy a domain name. (If you don’t buy your own domain name, you’ll have one like yourname.wordpress.com.)

Day 3: Decide on Your Domain Name

Your domain name (sometimes called your URL or your web address) is what users type in to visit your site. ProBlogger’s domain name is problogger.net.

To get a domain name, you need to register it with a domain name registrar – a site like GoDaddy (well known) or Namecheap (popular for its high-quality customer service).

Domain names aren’t especially expensive to register, and will normally cost you around somewhere around $12 per year. Prices vary between domain name registrars, and some suffixes (the .com or .net etc) cost more than others.

When you’re choosing your domain name, aim to:

Keep it fairly short. Long domain names are hard to remember and type.

Keep it to two words or fewer if possible.

Make it match the name of your website. If Darren called this site “ProBlogging Tips” but had the domain name “ProBlogger” it would be confusing for readers.

Avoid using hyphens if you can: if another website has the same domain without a hyphen, readers may end up there by mistake.

Use a .com suffix if it’s available. If you really want a particular name and the .com is taken, you can use .net. If your readers are mainly from your own country, you can use your country’s domain (e.g. .co.uk for the UK or .ca for Canada).

Further reading:

Five Best Domain Name Registrars (Lifehacker.com)

To do:

Come up with several possible domain names. Use WHOis.net to see which ones are available. (Simply typing them into your browser won’t necessarily tell you if they’re available or not, as sometimes domains are registered without hosting so no site will show up.)

If you’re self-hosting WordPress and thus buying hosting, you may want to register the domain name through your host – this can make life slightly simpler.

Day 4: Buy Hosting

Many bloggers find “hosting” a tricky concept to get their heads around. Here’s how it works.

For your website to be online, all the files for it need to be kept on a computer that’s always connected to the internet. (It’s technically possible for you to host your website on your own computer – but there are a huge number of reasons why you probably wouldn’t want to do this, including security issues, and the cost of keeping your computer switched on all day and all night, all the time.)

Web host companies provide space for your site on their servers (huge computers), which are permanently connected to the internet. These servers also have special software that allows you to install WordPress on your site. You pay a monthly or annual fee for this, usually around $7 – $15 per month.

There are loads of web hosts out there; personally, I use Dreamhost for all my own websites – but I’ve included links to other suggestions in the further reading.

Further reading:

How to Choose the Best WordPress Hosting? (WPBeginner)

To do:

Choose your host and sign up for an account. Don’t spend hours agonising over the choice – you can always switch hosts in the future if you decide they weren’t the best option for you.

Day 5: Install WordPress

Assuming you’ve chosen a WordPress-friendly host, you’ll probably have a simple and easy way to install WordPress – often with a “one-click installation” option.

Follow your host’s instructions, and get WordPress installed on your site. During the installation process, you’ll be prompted to enter:

The name of your site.

The username for an administrative account.

A password.

Your email address.

The only bit you can’t change later is the admin username. Avoid using “admin” as that’s way too easy for hackers to guess!

To login to your site, go to www.yoursitename.com/wp-login. You’ll automatically be directed to your dashboard – the “behind the scenes” view of your WordPress site – after logging in.

You’ll also have the option to make your site invisible to search engines. This can be reassuring while you’re developing your blog, but if you switch this on, don’t forget to switch it off again later! (You can do so in your WordPress dashboard under Settings Reading.

Further reading:

Secure Your WordPress Blog Without Touching Any Code (ProBlogger)

To do:

Get WordPress installed. It will probably be easier than you think! If you have time to spare, poke around in the WordPress dashboard to get a sense of all the different options and functions.

Day 6: Choose Your Theme

The look and feel of your blog is determined by its theme (sometimes called the template). You can switch your WordPress theme without losing any of your content – your posts, pages, sidebar widgets and so on are stored separately.

To change themes:

Go to your WordPress dashboard (www.yoursitename.com/wp-admin).

Click on Appearance  Themes

Choose a theme you like and click Preview to see how your site will look in that theme.

Click Activate to switch your site over to the new theme.

There are thousands of WordPress themes available online, so if you don’t find anything you like in the current themes section, look around. Free themes tend to be more limited in functionality and design; premium (paid for) ones often have lots of new options.

Further reading:

How to Pick a WordPress Theme That Doesn’t Suck (StuffedWeb)

To do:

Select a “good enough” theme – it doesn’t have to be perfect. If you’re creating a website for an existing business, consider using a premium theme that’s tailored to your industry. (E.g. there are restaurant themes, band themes, guest house themes…)

Day 7: Write Your About Page

Once you’ve got your theme up and running, there are still a lot of tasks ahead. New bloggers often wonder what to prioritise. Getting their sidebar spruced up? Posting lots of content? Adding their “Services” page? Including an option for readers to get posts by email?

All of those are important – but one of the very first things you should do is get your About page in place.

New readers will very often look for and click on “About” (or “About me” or “About us”) to find out who you are and what they can expect from your blog. If the page doesn’t exist, or if it’s badly put together, they might shrug and go on their way (and never return).

A good About page needs to:

Tell the reader what your blog (or company) is about and how it can help them. It’s often a good idea to put this information up front, perhaps after a few words introducing yourself (“Hi, I’m Bob Jones, and I blog here about…”)

Introduce you so that the reader feels a sense of connection. You can do this in a straightforward way, or with humour, with a list of interesting facts about you, with your credentials and experience, with an inspiring story … whatever fits with the tone and brand of your blog.

Include a photo of you. This isn’t an absolute rule, but it helps readers come to trust you – and if you’re selling them products or services, or promoting affiliate products, this is important.

Be updated regularly. Your blogging mission might change; facts about you and your life might change. If your About page is clearly years out of date, your blog is going to look cobwebby at best … and abandoned at worst.

Get the basics of your page in place, then, once you’ve been blogging for a couple of weeks, update it and:

Link to two or three of your best posts. This is a great way to draw readers further into your blog.

Let readers know how to subscribe to your blog by email. Even if you’ve got a big email sign-up box in your sidebar, readers may not notice it.

Further reading:

Are You Making These 7 Mistakes with Your About Page? (Copyblogger)

To do: 

Write your About page. You might find it easiest to split it into two sections, “About the Blog” and “About Me”. If you can, ask a friend or colleague to look over it and give you feedback – they may have ideas that you wouldn’t have thought of.

And that’s it! Your blog isn’t only online, it’s looking good, and it’s ready for you to publish your first post. This is just the start of an exciting journey – and I wish you all the best with it.

Ali Luke is Head of Content at Zen Optimise, where she leads small group courses on blogging and writing for the web. Once you’ve got your blog set up, check out 7 Rules for Creating Highly Successful Posts for powerful tips plus handy further reading suggestions.

Beginner Theme Week Posts on ProBlogger

New Blogger Katie180′s Success Story
We Asked Veteran Bloggers to Reflect on Mistakes Made in Their Early Days
Darren’s 43 Dos and 25 Don’ts of Blogging
Resource Roundup – 1o Links New Bloggers Can’t Live Without

How to Blog Effectively When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

Outtake - Nooo! [Overwhelmed]
This post is from ProBlogger Managing Editor Stacey Roberts.

Blogging is a voracious beast, and there is literally always something you could be doing to improve your traffic, find new readers, interact with other bloggers, and make some cash. The more you put in, the more you get out – but how do you cut through the (almost) infinite internet and create a manageable blog environment? Well, like anything, it takes trial and error. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is alive and well, but soon we all get to a point where it can all get too much to keep up with, and something’s gotta give.

These tips could work with anything that you find overwhelming, not just blogging. Just started a new job? Want to start your own business? Want to write the Great American Novel? Well, don’t panic – let’s get some perspective.

Break it down

Once you realise the magnitude of what you’re about to do, hyperventilation is only a moment away. Get back on top by sitting down for a minute and taking the task apart. Once you see it in sequence, it can be much easier to achieve. Yes you might need to blog, then tweet, then share on Facebook, then read six articles on blogging, then respond to comments, then find something to write for the next day, but it doesn’t all need to be done at once. Break it down and spread it out.

Don’t let your head run away with you

Sometimes we are our own worst enemy. Our brains conjure up worst-case scenarios, which in turn scares us and makes us think it’s not possible to succeed. Recognise when you’re about to board the Paranoia Train, and get some facts straight. You can survive (and thrive!) with just doing a little every day. Don’t just assume it’s too much and you won’t ever make it so you shouldn’t even try. Get out there and do what you can, for something is always better than nothing. Even one tweet can be useful.

Get some perspective

Often when you write down your tasks and responsibilities, you can see that they’re not so overwhelming. A list of things you need to do is a tangible thing to help you get your head around the job at hand. It’s common to then realise it’s not as crazy as you thought, and in fact is actually quite do-able. Identify the parts that aren’t important, or not viable at this time, and focus on the things you can actually do. An overview is incredibly useful when you’re liable to get carried away.

Find five things you can do right now

This helps make everything seem even more manageable, and gives you that perspective you need. Once you’ve got five easy things done, you feel much more productive, which inspires and motivates you to do more. Maybe it’s just one extra tweet, editing some photos, or even writing a couple of post intros. Each journey begins with a single step, as they say, and you’ve just taken five.

Set mini deadlines

Want to write brilliant posts, but don’t know where to start? Time is of the essence, and you’ve got none? Set yourself a deadline and get stuck in. It might be a post a day, it might be two posts in the next hour, but give yourself a time to have achieved at least one thing on your list. If there’s an even bigger deadline (guests post submission cut-off date or something), then set mini deadlines before then so you’re not frantically scribbling something at the last minute. Have your post ideas sorted by Monday, a rough draft by Wednesday, and a well-thought-out, well-written post and image by Friday. It might only take five minutes a day, and that’s infinitely more do-able.

Ask for help

You might need someone to watch the kids while you write. You might need someone to show you how to create good video content. You might even need to ask a blogging veteran to share a tip or two – don’t be afraid and think that your questions are silly, or that you should know this stuff by now. Or that blogging isn’t important. If you need help, reach out – you might even make a new friend in the process.

Spend some time getting acquainted

The first thing I do when asked to write for a publication is spend some time hanging out in the archives to see what’s been covered, where’s a knowledge gap I can plug, and what the vibe is. That can work for anything – if you’ve been asked to guest post, or if you want to see what is the trend in your blogging niche. What are people looking for? What can you provide that’s missing at the moment? What are other people Tweeting? What’s getting engagement on Facebook? Getting a feel for what you will be doing is essential for toning down panic and turning up productivity.

Just do it

Stop talking yourself out of it. Stop reading this! Go and kick some blogging goals.

But come back to ProBlogger when your’e done! What’s one thing you can do today to cross off your overwhelming to-do list?

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor at ProBlogger.net, and the blogger behind Veggie Mama. Can be found making play-dough, reading The Cat in the Hat for the eleventh time, and avoiding the laundry. See evidence on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and twitter @veggie_mama.

The Practical Guide to Writing Conversational Copy

This is a guest contribution from Monika Mundell, communication strategist and copywriter.

Image by Flickr user Rohit Rath

Image by Flickr user Rohit Rath

Conversational copy is one of the best ways of creating engagement with a reader. It sets a welcoming, familiar tone that invites readers in. Famous copywriter John Caples delcares conversational copy to be about “You + Me.”

Many people believe they have to be a skilled copywriter to write conversationally. You don’t! If you can hold an engaging conversation with a mate at the pub, or a girlfriend over a lazy coffee date, then you have the ability to write conversational copy.

However…

Before you sit down to write your heart out, consider the tips in this guide. You should know: this guide has been written for bloggers, business owners and entrepreneurs who are looking to build more engagement with their readership, and to help them build trust with their community.

Having said this, there is nothing stopping you from using this guide to write amazing letters to a dear family member, or pitch your partner on a hot mystery date – because the principles of conversational copywriting stay the same.

Getting the Basics Right

The basics of conversational copy are simple: write like you speak. Think of it as having a conversation with your dream client. It helps if you tune into and visualise your reader before crafting words into digital pixels. You want to make your reader feel welcome and appreciated.

You want her to think that she’s the ONLY person that receives your message. And you want to show her that she can trust you because you totally understand the problems and frustrations she might be having. You and your blog or business are here to fill a need. Here’s a simple example:

“I know how you feel right now, because I’ve felt the same way. But when I discovered [the solution], things changed.”

So the most predominant word in your message should be “YOU.”


Message to Market Match

Effective conversational copy is congruent. Avoid slang and abbreviations if you don’t talk like this in person. It will come across as fake and you’ll end up turning people away from you instead.

Dan Kennedy calls this process “message to market match,” meaning your message must be written with your target market in mind, also known as targeting.

Which brings me to an important point – you must have an idea of who your readership is.

It is hard to write compelling conversational copy when you don’t know anything about who is reading your site. In order to write persuasively, you must have a clear picture of to whom you are marketing in the first place.

  • Who is this person you’re trying to attract into your tribe?
  • What are her likes?
  • What is she frustrated about, angry about?
  • What issue of hers do you have to solve to keep her engaged?
  • What interests and hobbies does she have?

You can ask hundreds of questions to build an accurate reader profile (like Darren does here), and the best way to profile your audience is to ask them lots of questions… on your blog, in your newsletters, on social media. Over time you’ll build a fantastic and powerful swipe file of your market’s needs, wants, desires and frustrations. Don’t be afraid to ask for permission to dig around in their heart and listen for the golden nuggets!

Why You Must Feed the Desire

Have you ever been told to feed the desire of your readers when writing copy to market your blog or business?

You can do this in a number of ways:

  • You can demonstrate indisputable proof that your product works, by showcasing tons of case studies and/or testimonials.
  • You can demonstrate how they’ll get an unfair advantage by buying your product (needs to be congruent and NOT hypey!)
  • You can write about their hot buttons, and drill deep into them.

You should keep in mind when writing your copy: it is a lot harder to sell prevention than it is to sell a solution.

Why? Because people do just about anything to relieve pain. They’re less motivated to buy prevention. Pain motivates!

Personally I’m not too fond of negative-ridden copy that continues to ride on the reader’s pain (hype). I believe today’s savvy consumer wants more authentic engagement and less rah-rah.

Tell Stories

Stories are an everyday part of our lives. You probably tell many stories throughout the day, and chances are you use one of the seven story archetypes in every story you tell. Watch this kooky guy as he introduces these archetypes in a short stop-motion video.

Stories rock! When you tell stories, you lower the B.S. guard of your audience. Stories build trust. And they have the power to engage your readership like nothing else. They’re also far more interesting to read than bland sales copy.

Think about how you can weave stories into your online presence. The people in your community will always want to hear your stories  to get to know you better.

How to Write Concise Copy with Heart (Brevity Rocks)

Concise copy is good copy. When you ramble, people tune out. The definition of brevity is this: concise and exact use of words in writing or speech. (E.g. fluff-free copy.)

Brevity is sexy. It helps the reader to digest your message in small junks of information.

Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Use more powerful verbs (doing words) and less adjectives (describing words). Let your sentences be active,  not descriptive.
  • Keep your sentences short (aim for less than 13 words per sentence).
  • Eliminate jargon and clichés where possible (I admit I’m guilty as charged).
  • Check your readability stats (Google how) and aim for a low Passive Sentences score, a Flesch Reading Ease score of above 60, and a Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level of below 9. This article here explains how to activate this on Word 2010.

Creative Ways to Give Your Copy Cult-Like Resonance

Apply the tips within this practical guide to let your copy sing.

With just a few simple and conscious applications, you can write compelling conversational copy that rocks your community and builds your tribe. As long as you remember to identify with your reader’s problem you can’t really go wrong.

Use words to paint the outcome. Take readers on a journey of discovery: from problem to solution, in a few (simple) steps.

The best way to build cult-like resonance is to be generous with your knowledge!

With that said, I want to hear from you!

Tell me in the comment below how you intend to apply some of the information within this practical guide. I’d love to know.

Monika Mundell is the go-to communication strategist + creative copywriter for sassy women in business. Monika explodes her client’s profit potential with her fresh, funky, and fun writing style. She created her FREE Sales Letter Love Script to help you magnetise your perfect client + make love, with words. Connect with her on Facebook.