Finding Readers Week: Mrs Woog’s Tips to Create Conversations on Your Blog

MRS WOOGToday in our Finding Readers week is successful Australian blogger Mrs Woog of Woogsworld. With a thriving Facebook community and a comment section that makes the rest of us green with envy, she’s learned a thing or two in her time. Here she spills all…

Engagement. Not just diamond rings mind you, but getting people together and talking. In the world of social media, engagement is everything. After all, if a blog post falls in cyberspace and no one is there to read it… (Insert something profound here…)

There are several things that you can easily do to increase your engagement across the social media platforms that you use. It might be your blog, Facebook, Twitter or a combination of all three. I am pleased as punch to be able to share my knowledge with you, and hopefully, if you find my advice useful for your particular genre, you can see your engagement soar!

What is important to remember when creating content if you want repeat readers:

Voice – Well it is the big one, no? With so many writers and bloggers seeking to grow their readership, your voice needs to be clear, consistent and above all else, your own. The thing about SM is that there is a readership of your own out there; you just need to give them a reason to swing by.

I am coming from this as a personal blogger, which I think is the hardest niche to try and carve out. I write the way that I talk. It is just that simple. I write about mundane topics that people can relate to. I keep things light, fast, and hopefully people can get a giggle or take something away from my posts. So, practice, practice, practice and the best way to do this, is consistency. Writing is like a muscle in a way. The more you use it and do it, the stronger your words will be.

theme week whats next



Readers like to feel like that they are a part of a social group. One of the things I have noticed lately is the interaction that readers are having with each other. It makes me feel like I am hosting one great big Cyber-Party. I start the conversations and then watch them develop. It is a truly delightful situation. And of course there is always going to be one nob that wants to crash the party, but they are shown the door quickly and with minimal fuss.

And a small spank on the bottom.

It is the facilitation of these conversations that will give you a really great insight into who your readers actually are. It is this information that will help you to work out what sort of content to deliver to them. What will work, and what will sink.

I call writing a post that gets no comments, “DELIVERING A DOUGHNUT” which means a big fat zero when it comes to interaction. Happens to everyone. I just move on, like the Soup Nazi…. NEXT!

 finding time


It is not always possible, interact with your “guests” as much as you would like to. If someone takes the time to email you, reply to him or her. If someone takes the time to comment, try and acknowledge their involvement. Depending on where you are in your blogging life, this will vary. I like to make time during the day to do it – 15 minutes here and there. Treat every reader with respect.

And please don’t be chicken shit when it comes to discussing the big issues. 

Why, it’s the three P’s!


Have an opinion and share it. Present your case and back it up with facts. It is the single most immediate way to drive up the engagement on your blog. It is not about arguing, but people want to share their point of view and you are providing the platform to do so. Plus it is fun! I am always prepared to be proven wrong. Try it!

 theme week social media


My social media playground is the blog, Twitter and Facebook, and I approach these very differently. It was not something that I consciously set out to do, but on reflection it is just the way it turned out.

Facebook for your blog? Everyone has one, and if you don’t, you should.

Why? Because it is the best WORD OF MOUTH was to get your blog onto people’s screens. Because it is the easiest way to get your content shared. Because it is fun and interactive. Just because, ok?

My first post on my facebook page?

image My blog is my-free-for-all cocktail party and my Facebook Page is my “Drinks with the Gals” night. People choose to be a part of it. It is inclusive and respectful and we all have a good old laugh. Sure, there are the occasional biffos, but that happens in any social group, no?

And then there is Twitter, or as I like to call it, the seedy backroom bar of some dodgy pub. Fast, fun and fancy free, you need to keep your wits about you on this popular, but sometimes much maligned social media platform. Make one mistake, and you can be taken out by faceless trolls (Just ask my friend Tracey Spicer!) but as quickly as things can flare up, they die away.

theme week top takeaways

So my top 3 tips for increasing the engagement on your social media platforms?

  1. Make a spelling mistake. People LOVE to point them out to you.
  2. Tell people you think vaccinations are the devil’s work.
  3. Write a blog post about how you are over blogging and are thinking about quitting.

What’s that? You want serious tips? Fine.

  1. Be around. Dedicate time to write and share and promote and respond. Be consistent.
  2. Give them content that is worth reading. Ask yourself, what are they getting out of this post? Give them a reason to come back and get involved in the online world that you have created, and reward their loyalty with fantastic (and varied) content.
  3. Be brave. A dog never barked at a parked car.

 What are your tips? Does Facebook work for you?

Finding Readers: Dustin outlines the 5 Crucial Elements for Growing Readership

growing-readershipIn today’s instalment of the Finding Readers theme week, we delve right into Dustin Stout’s incredibly eye-pleasing site,, and hear how he has built a blog people just can’t help but read and share.

When I launched in March 2011, I had no idea what I was doing. All I knew was that I had some insight and skills that people needed and I genuinely enjoyed helping people.

Between then and now, I’ve had successes and complete WTF-just-happened failures. Through all of that I believe I’ve landed on a handful of crucial elements that have allowed me to get to where I am today.

1. Give the Reader A Beautiful Experience

It doesn’t matter if you have the most amazing, jaw-dropping, slap-yo-mamma content in the world, if people don’t read it. When someone lands on your webpage you have five seconds or less to prove that your site and its content is worth their precious time. So if your web design is cluttered, hard-to-read and visually unattractive, you’re content may not have the chance it deserves.

One of the primary reasons people continue to visit and read my blog (rather than just through an RSS reader or email) is because the reading experience is enjoyable.

With all the templates, themes, and examples of good design permeating the digital space, there’s no excuse for poor design. You don’t have to be a designer in any sense of the word to create a beautifully-designed, content-focused blog. Just find what’s working, what you would enjoy looking at, and imitate it. You can read my tips for creating a stunning reading experience for your readers here.

2. Write For Real People

Once your canvas is ready (your design) you can now fill it with glorious content that knocks people’s socks off! But the most important thing to remember is just that— you want to knock people’s socks off. Not robots: real people.

Having a voice that people can relate to is crucial to growing your readership. If people can’t relate to what you’re saying or how you’re saying it, why would they return?

One thing that has helped me to communicate effectively to my readership is focusing in on exactly who I’m speaking to. No, I’m not talking about my demographic or target audience— that’s not specific enough. To effectively write from an authentic, relatable voice you need to write as if you’re talking to one person.

Try this as an exercise— the next time you draft up a blog post, think of one person in your life that could benefit from the information you’re about to write, and write it in such a way as if you’re talking directly to them. This will help you communicate your message more clearly and your voice will be more authentic.

And people will love you for it.

3. Engaging Content (Actionable)

Another thing I’ve found when crafting content is that the actionable always wins out on engagement. Give people clear, easy-to-do actions and watch your engagement soar.

People don’t always know right off the bat how to take the action you may be moving them towards, so make it easy for them. Tell them exactly what to do.

4. Compelling Content (Sharable)

Making your content sharable is a crucial peice to the continued organic growth. When people share with other people there is power that no degree of marketing could ever capture.

In order to compell people to share your content, you have to first understand why people share things. The motivations are many but here’s just a few powerful reasons someone would share your content:

  • It makes them look smart
  • It makes them look funny
  • It makes them look cutting-edge
  • It makes them look interesting

Do you see a pattern there? People tend to share content based on how it will make them look to others. So if your content gives someone the chance to look better in front of their peers, they will be compelled to share it.

5. The Right Distribution Channels

Okay great, so you’ve got your awesome content written and wrapped inside a beautiful package (your web design) ready for people to consume, engage, and share. So now how do you get people to that content? Distribution channels, otherwise known as social networks.

The right distribution channels make all the difference. For everyone’s audience it may be different. If your target audience is mommies looking for great recipes, then Pinterest may be your best channel. If you’re ideal audience is teenagers who don’t want their parents knowing what they’re up to, then Snapchat may be your ideal channel.

My biggest piece of advice though when it comes to distribution channels is to resist the lie that you have to be on all of them. I’ve built the majority of my audience by doing one network really well. You can either do a mediocre, semi-invested job at many networks or you can knock one single network out of the park.

The latter will grow your audience faster than the former.

For me, I’ve found that the most powerful distribution channel in both driving traffic and acquiring new readers is Google+. No platform has yielded the return on investment that Google+ has, despite what lazy journalists might have you believe.

For me it’s about being able to not only distribute content, but also to be able to create and repurpose content in different formats such as images and video. With Google+, the number of tools at your disposal is beyond that of any other platform making it the most diverse, feature-rich and multi-demensionally engaging platform of them all.

Ultimately though, your perfect distribution channel will be one that has all of the following characteristics:

  • Your audience is there (or at least willing to follow you there).
  • You can fit it into your workflow.
  • You thoroughly enjoy the platform.

One Last Thing

Above all else, be true to yourself. Don’t be someone or something you’re not. Be uniquely you because that is your secret sauce.

Nobody else has the perspective, experiences, and thought process as you in the same combination of skills, knowledge and insight. The more true you can be to yourself, the better you can relate to your ideal audience.

Top 3 Takeaways

  1. Make it more about them than about yourself.
  2. Give them an enjoyable reading experience.
  3. Be a real human, not a regurgitation robot.

Finding Readers Week: Corinne Talks Commenting, Engagement, and Are Forums Right For Your Blog?

Theme Week

Welcome to the first post in the Finding Readers series here on Corinne runs the successful blog, and consistently gets genuine engagement from her readers and community across the board. Corinne introduced forums at the beginning of the year and has seen that engagement increase sharply. We are very excited to have her here to share her secrets with you.

I only started blogging late December 2012. To be honest, I had no strategy or goals. I knew nothing about growing an audience or how to promote myself. The only two things I knew were:

  1. I wanted to write.
  2. I wanted people to read what I wrote.

I understand there’s more to successful blogging than simply getting comments, but I wanted engagement. So I did what made sense to me with the little knowledge I had, and it worked.

What I am about to share with you is simply how to build a network of regular commenters. It’s not a quick and easy tactic, and it’s not going to make your PageRank soar, enabling you to quit your day job – but is a key step towards doing so.

theme week social media

Call me an idiot, but during my first year of blogging I went against one of the most common blogging tips: I didn’t use Twitter to promote my blog. Since starting a Twitter account in January, I’ve been asked the same question multiple times – How do you get so many comments? 

Twitter is great for getting traffic to your blog, yet I find it’s not so fantastic at encouraging engagement. Those that engage with me on Twitter tend to only do so there rather than on my site. The same can be said about other forms of social media. It’s fabulous for page views, but does naff all for building a community within your blog – and as I can babble for England, a community is what I wanted.

How I created community and drove up engagement:

Twitterless and clueless, the only way I had of promoting my blog (or so I thought) was through commenting on other blogs. I had no idea how to find them, so I would comment on the few I knew. Then I would look at who else commented, visit their blog and find something to contribute.

The idea I had was that I was targeting:

  1. People within my niche who would probably like my blog.
  2. People who left quality comments on other blogs.

You can do this for hours –  and I did do it for hours – aiming for around 20-40 blogs a day at one point.

We all know starting a blog isn’t easy and it certainly isn’t quick. I don’t know about you but I’m sick of reading ‘write good content and they will come’ like it is the only thing you need to do to grow (I’ve never been a ‘sit and wait’ kinda gal). Good content is vital, but what’s the point if nobody knows you exist? The real trick is getting them to your blog and then getting them to return. As soon as they start engaging with you and contributing, they are more likely to return as they’ve invested precious time in you.

Remember: The quality of the comments you leave will reflect the quality of comments you receive. People are not stupid, it is obvious and frustrating when a comment is left purely to link drop. Nobody likes a spammer, yet people still use it as a tactic. We’re looking to build longstanding relationships here, not fickle ones.

theme week get your stuff shared

I find consistent posting makes a huge difference to the amount of readers I get. I’ve seen the daily number of readers that subscribe to my blog triple since I’ve started to update daily, as have my page views and the amount of traffic I am getting from search engines. I was updating every 2-3 days, but in the past few months I’ve posted daily and it’s the best thing I ever could have done for my blog. I have posts scheduled for the same time each day and link back to my previous two posts at the end to make it easier for readers that don’t visit daily to access them, which was one of my main concerns around daily blogging. The only downfall is finding the time to push out quality content, I plan my posts in advance using an editorial calendar and will sometimes write 4-5 posts in one day around my work schedule. Planning is key!

theme week whats next

Once I received comments, I replied to every one and returned the favour by leaving a comment on their next post. This encouraged them to return and even subscribe. I was using this tactic for around 10 months until I was unable to keep up with the amount of comments I was getting.

finding time
But guess what? I don’t need to keep up anymore and I no longer struggle with the ‘write vs. promote’ conflict like I used to. I find I need to spend less time commenting and am able to concentrate on creating daily quality content – I now have a mixture of long term readers I’ve made through commenting, and people who discover my blog through other blogs, social media, Google, etc.Leaving 20-40 quality comments on new blogs daily is a time consuming activity and is difficult while having a full time job. I aimed for 20 comments on work days and 40 for days off. I wasn’t blogging daily so had more time for getting my name out there and I commented a lot while watching TV on an evening or listening to music – I’ve always been a multi-tasker and struggle to sit and watch TV while not doing anything else. I often gave myself ‘goals’, such as leaving a certain amount of comments to a time scale. I found the more comments I was leaving, the easier it was to think of something engaging to say – it just became something I could naturally do.While I am still an active commenter, I comment on those blogs I love, rather than as a marketing tactic. If I have a spare hour or so, I may visit a few new blogs within my niche and leave a few comments, but it is not something that I do daily.You may have loyal readers that will lap up every word but don’t always comment, so I’ve targeted those blog readers that are active in commenting and brought them over to my blog.

Point of difference: Adding forums for your readers

I wanted to take my community to the next level by giving my readers a place they could all come together and share ideas. I find Twitter too fast paced and comments on blogs restrictive. As I’ve always been a lover of forums – joining my first in 2002 at 14, then being an administrator for another for over ten years – a forum was exactly what I was looking for. Finding none within my niche, I bought a new domain and set up my own.

I spent a couple weeks preparing the site and researching, then on 1st January 2014, I launched them, alongside a Twitter account. It’s early days yet – we are in the process of growing our member base with a view to branch outside of the current niche, adding specific forums as requested to welcome more bloggers to our community. We share our posts, ask questions, share tips and sometimes just have a general natter.

Top 3 benefits to creating the forums:

  1. Great for traffic – people will click my profile and then go to my blog as well as click links I leave on the forum.
  2. Great for post ideas – some of my most popular content has come from ideas from the forum. Members ask me questions all the time which has led me to write posts with useful information and blogging tips on my main site – these are easily my most shared and most engaging blog posts.
  3. Great for finding new blogs – I now read blogs from a variety of niches from our members.
theme week top takeaways

  1. Target bloggers in a similar niche to you.
  2. Leave comments that leaves them wanting to know more, or asks them a question.
  3. Remember, 20 readers that regularly come back and comment are more valuable than 2000 one-time readers.
Are you an active commenter?

Theme Week: How To Find New Readers and Create Community on Your Blog


If you’ve been around this year, you will have seen that we are running a themed week each month, focusing on a specific blogging topic. It is our aim that you will get a great deal of useful tips and info that will arm you with all the things you’ll need to stand out in that field.

Our first foray was in creating content, we moved into a week chock-full of info for new bloggers just starting out, and last month Shayne and I delved deep into creating products – an in-depth, step-by-step set of posts that aimed to answer all the questions you have about creating, launching, and selling products and services on your blog.

This week we have reached out to ProBlogger readers from various niches to share their success stories on how they found readers for their blog, and how they encouraged engagement: comments, shares, and a creating a thriving community.

Stay tuned for tips from the fashion, personal, social media, and blogging-about-blogging genres. No doubt there will be some fantastic information you can action that day that will help you on your journey.

We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter about this week’s theme.

The posts:

Corinne Talks Commenting, Engagement, and Are Forums Right for Your Blog?

Dustin Outlines the 5 Crucial Elements for Growing Readership

Mrs Woog’s Tips to Create Conversations on Your Blog

From Seed to Sequoia: Growing your Blog one Reader at a Time

6 Tips for Hosting an Interview Series on Your Blog

shutterstock_125091749This is a guest contribution from Kerry Jones of CopyPress Community.

Interviews have become popular features on many blogs, and for good reason.  In addition to being fresh content, interviews can help you build relationships with other experts in your niche, provide your audience with different perspectives, and encourage influencers to promote your blog. Recently, Darren even shared a few tips on how to get high-profile bloggers to agree to be interviewed for your site.

If you’d like to start incorporating interviews into your editorial calendar, take a look at these tips for creating an interview series that benefits both your subject and audience.

Six Tips for Hosting an Interview Series

Choose the Right Format

When you think of conducting an interview, an on-screen video format probably comes to mind. Video interviews can be an intimidating place to start since there’s a need for technical skills like lighting, audio, and post-editing. You can invest in the right equipment if on-air interviews will become a regular feature on your blog or hire a video pro to help with one-off interviews.

But still, not everyone wants to appear on camera (this might include you) and geography may prevent you from conducting in-person video interviews. Fortunately, technology allows for many alternate interview formats.


This is a smart choice for busy interviewees since it’s quick, can be done while they’re on the go, and it doesn’t require a huge commitment. To record the interview, use a recording app or make your call with Skype where you’ll have plenty of  recording options. And always get someone’s consent before recording a call (it’s illegal not to in many places).

Virtual Video

Conducting a virtual video interview may be the best option if you like the thought of an on-screen interview but don’t have fancy equipment or your interview subject lives far from you. Again, Skype makes this easy since you have plenty of ways to record it. Google Hangouts are another simple way to record a video interview. Plus, you can interview several people at once this way (great for a roundtable discussion).


Traditionalists may scoff at this, but using email to conduct interviews has become commonplace. You have a few options with this format. Either send a list of questions for the interviewee to fill out all at once, or ask one question at a time and respond with a new questions after receiving an answer. Keeping the questions short and few in number mean you have a better chance of getting them answered.


Yes, you can still interview people the old-fashioned way. If it’s convenient to meet up with your subject, it’s worth doing since an in person chat may yield the most natural answers. Don’t forget a recording device to capture the conversation and a notepad for taking notes.


Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ can all be used as public interview forums. Use social media to crowdsource questions or host a live Q & A session with the interviewee. From there, you can turn the questions and answers into a blog post.

Do Your Homework

People who are interviewed frequently get tired of answering the same questions. Avoid regurgitating information that’s already out there — don’t ask a question if a quick Google search about the person can yield the answer (especially when interviewing someone well-known). You can always include the easy-to-find information as a blurb about the subject as an intro to the interview.

Your questions should align with the person’s background, area of expertise, and interests. You don’t need to learn their life story in advance, but gathering biographical and professional information will help you craft questions. Here are a few places to look them up:

  • LinkedIn — to see their professional background. Look for the unexpected, like an interesting career change or an unusual skill set for someone in their field. Additionally, their recommendations from others can give insight into their work ethic and personality traits.

  • Twitter — to see what interests them. What topics do they frequently talk about? What types of people do they engage with? Even a Twitter bio can provide clues about someone’s passions in 140 characters.

  • Google — to see where they’ve been mentioned or published. Also look for any previous interviews.

Consider Using an Interview Template

Believe it or not, you don’t need to ask unique questions. Rather, you should focus on asking questions that will yield unique answers. Using a list of template questions can save you time and also provide structure to your interviews. This consistency in the interview format works especially well if you’re planning on an ongoing series.

Asking everyone the same questions works best if your subjects have something in common. For example, if you will only be interviewing writers, there are enough universal questions for this group that will also result in a variety of responses.

Some of the best blog interview series use a template:

  • Copyblogger’sWriter Files” series also uses a template but since they ask questions that will get different answers for each interviewee, it works. They also write a brief introduction about each featured writer, which helps give some context to the interview.

  • Lifehacker’sThis is How I Work” series uses a mostly templated approach but the questions are so good and differ so much from person to person that every interview is unique (for example, they ask everyone to share a picture of their workspace).


Ask  Open Questions That Solicit Detailed Answers

A skilled interviewer always digs for specific examples, asks questions that will produce detailed answers, and lets the subject do most of the talking. No one wants to read an interview full of “yes” and “no” responses.

Only ask questions that solicit a specific response. Questions beginning with “how” or the 4 Ws (what, when, why, where) accomplish this. Your subject shouldn’t be able to answer with “yes,” “no,” “maybe,” or “I don’t know.”

You still may receive vague responses despite asking probing questions. When you do get a broad answer from your subject, use a follow up question, like “Can you give me examples?” to steer them into giving a more specific answer.

Lead the Subject into Sharing Anecdotes

The true gems of interviews often hide within anecdotes, which can set apart a great interview from a bland one. But getting someone to open up about their personal experiences can be one of the toughest parts of conducting an interview.

Even if your subject is open to telling personal stories, they may need you to help jog their memory. Focus on asking questions that will trigger the interviewee to remember certain events and then recall those stories.

One word that’s sure to inspire anecdotes: when.

“When did you know this was the right career path for you?”

“When did you feel you were truly a professional writer?”

But you don’t need to limit yourself to wording everything as a question. Phrases like “Tell me how…” or “Describe a time…” are also effective for leading the subject to share anecdotes.

Include Text for Video and Audio Interview Content

When doing video or audio interviews, write up some highlights or transcribe the conversation. This can “tease” your audience into tuning in and also gives the search engines some text to crawl.

In the Travel Blogger Academy interview series, they take the audio recording from an interview and turn it into a video using simple text and graphics. In the blog post, they use bulleted lists to tease readers with interview content. Any resources/tools mentioned in the interview are linked to in the post as well as links to the subject’s blog and social profiles.


Lastly, make sure to keep in touch after the interview. Give a timeframe or exact date for when the interview will be published. If you need an answer clarified, reach out to get a more in depth explanation.

Always send them a link to the interview once it’s published. And don’t be afraid to ask them to share it on their social networks — one of the biggest benefits of hosting an interview series is the potential to attract the subjects’ audiences to your blog.

Have you had success with hosting interviews on your blog? What do you think makes a compelling interview? Let me know in the comments below.

Kerry Jones is Tampa-based blogger and the Assistant Community Manager for CopyPress Community — a networking site, training portal and job board for freelance creatives. You can connect with her on Twitter and Google+

Weigh In: Are Personal Blogs and Business Blogs Really That Different?

Image via Stuart Miles /

Image via Stuart Miles /

This is a guest contribution from Sabina Stoiciu.

Do you remember how it was back in the 90s, when most of us didn’t have a clue about blogs and blogging? Today we can hardly imagine a world without them. And if the first blogs from mid-90s had a personal character and resembled an online diary, business blogging has taken quite a different track. Or have they?

What do personal and business blogging have in common?

At first, I would say it’s the need to have a blog to write for (just joking, I’m sure this is something that can’t be skipped).

Personal blogging means having your own little corner of the web, where you express everything from your personal beliefs, ideas, tips for spending free time, preferences, hobbies; to relating personal stories from your everyday life.

Business blogging works following a similar principle – the one of having an own place on the web where to present yourself as a company, to be more human, show what you’re like, and  engage with your followers, just like you do on a personal blog.

For both types of blogs you need to have a well-contoured idea of what you want to write about, although the business blog requires even higher levels of structure. You can’t (or at least shouldn’t) start a blog just for the sake of following a trend, if you don’t have any hint on what your blog’s purpose should be.

A second common point is: keeping your audience in mind when you write. For whom do write? Do you write for tech savvy people? Don’t be afraid to use some technical jargon, then. Do you write for your grandma’s generation? Use language that isn’t too tech-heavy. An useful measure for knowing for whom you are writing is to undertake audience research. Personas can help you imagine how your typical reader looks and behaves. It’s then easier to craft content for someone you already have in mind.

The whole purpose of a blog is to have a more personal touch. Hence, the writer’s personality will come to the surface through their style of writing on both types of blogs. The personal one, however, allows its owner to express their thoughts in a more intimate manner than on a business blog, where communication has to respect some basic guidelines.

Another common characteristic of both blog types is the need to engage with followers. Whether it is a personal blog or a business blog, your articles shouldn’t take the shape of a monologue. On the contrary – you should encourage readers to comment and share their ideas and thoughts. Besides developing your discussion and making it more interactive, visitors can provide you with new ideas on what they’d like to read, which then informs your content.

Now tell me what you think of blogs that don’t have a contact method. I personally tend to ignore them, because I can’t explain to myself why you wouldn’t want to get in touch with your readers. It bothers me not to have any way of sending the blog owner a message, especially because it’s very easy to include a contact form on your blog. There are plugins for WordPress that let you build and publish a contact form in no time.

One more thing you can do on both personal and business blogs is have guest posts. This can be a good way to offer some variation in content and writing style, which your readers might appreciate. Though, the topics and the most appropriate guest authors depend on your blog type. Business blogs can benefit of featuring well known industry speakers, fellow business owners, or product/service partners. Personal blogs might have a smaller chance to feature opinion leaders, but they are still useful.

Last but not least, you have to be careful what you write about and what you make public. It’s true that blogs should express honest opinions, but that doesn’t mean you can wake up one day and begin to denigrate everybody in your life.

How are personal and business blogs different?

Apart from sharing a few common points, these two types of blogs can be poles apart. Here are the main traits that distinguish one from the other:

  1. In many cases, the audience of a business blog is more specialised. It’s more of a niche audience, which at some point might be more picky than the readers of your personal blog. For example, you can choose to write today about kittens on your personal blog. Tomorrow you shift the content direction and cover diet tips. And the day after tomorrow you feel like speaking of planes. Your followers might be indulgent when it comes to your personal blog, but business articles should stay quite focused.
  2. For a business blog, I would say that it’s more difficult to write compelling content that keeps readers coming back. Your blog has to speak about your business, but be of a more general interest at the same time. As for the personal blog, you have a higher freedom in choosing what to write about.
  3. The previous point leads to mentioning one more difference: business blogs offer valuable, useful content, engage and advertise at the same time. Perhaps ‘advertise’ is not the most appropriate term, but business blogs do provide information on the product or service behind the business. Common sense asks for this information not to be overly promotional, but to present additional advice on how to make the most out of the product, how to benefit of the product’s partnerships and others.
  4. Moreover, there are several points to keep in mind when crafting your business blog content – how to write headlines, not having a clear posting strategy, being all too promotional, using images incorrectly. or being too SEO-crazy.
  5. The content on a business blog should be even more engaging than on a personal blog, meaning that it should be accompanied by strong calls-to-action that make the visitor convert. After all, the final purpose of a business blog is to convince the visitor that your product is the best choice, something that you do through presenting its extended features, advantages, use cases and so on.
  6. Besides strong calls-to-action, your business blog can benefit from including lead generation methods, such as lead generation forms. This type of form can include various sub-types like the contact form, the request a quote form, the newsletter subscription form, the freebie form and others which can fulfill the lead generation requirement.
  7. Because we’re talking of the business sector, where every resource allocation has to be justified, your business blog also needs to be analyzed. Engagement, ROI, conversions, requests for more information about your business – they all have to be tracked closely to see how your blog strategy is working out. Unlike your personal blog, the business one has to drive clear results.
  8. We’ve established before that you are responsible for what you post on the web for both personal and business blogs. Nevertheless, posting on a business blog requires you to be even more careful. How do you perceive a typo on a personal blog and how do you do it when it comes to a business blog? When writing about and for your company, you are associated with the company image. The slightest mistake you make can have a huge impact on the brand you’re representing.

Having said outlined these differences, some could argue that personal blogs, particularly personal blogs that create income and are brands unto themselves, also benefit from such “business-blogging” strategies. Where do you stand on the issue?

Sabina Stoiciu enjoys blogging, photography, traveling and finding ways of gathering and sharing relevant business knowledge. You can follow her on Twitter. She also writes for 123ContactForm, the online form and survey builder – try it for free.

In a Blog Slump? Here’s What to Do

In a blog slump? Don't worry, we've all been there. Try these tips to help get your mojo back.“Do you ever want to chuck blogging in sometimes?” came the question at the end of an email recently.

“Yep”, I answered. “At least twice, pretty seriously.”

It’s a situation I think many of us find ourselves in at some point in our blogging journey: we’re not quite sure, but we think we might want to throw in the towel. We’ve given it our best shot, but we’re just not feeling it any more. Time to hang up our keyboards and call it a day.


Maybe. But then again, maybe not.

As I’ve chatted to other bloggers over the years, it’s become apparent that almost everyone goes through a bit of a slump. Some of us bow out quietly, having enjoyed the fun while it lasted. Others leave blogs to stagnate, not knowing what to do so they don’t do anything at all. The rest of us find our groove again somewhere further down the line and are grateful we didn’t quite hit that “delete” button, tempting as it was. You can read how fellow blogger Naomi found herself at a crossroads at the ProBlogger conference last year and how it helped her inspiration again.

There are several reasons I believe bloggers feel like it’s time to move on – do any of these resonate with you?

  • You’ve tried to monetize, but it hasn’t happened as fast as you’d hoped. In fact – you feel like you’re not really getting anywhere with it.
  • You’ve run out of things to write about.
  • You’ve spent a ton of time on other people’s sites, commenting and being involved, and the bloggers have never responded.They don’t come to read your blog either, like you’d hoped.
  • You don’t feel as though you’re a very good writer.
  • You feel as though everyone else is succeeding but you.
  • You can’t fit it in around all the other family, work, and life obligations that you have – especially if you’re not getting paid to blog.
  • Linky parties and participating in memes never really earned you any legitimate readers.
  • You don’t take very good photographs.
  • Brands and PR people don’t seem to be noticing you, or you have found it hard to get on their radar.
  • You don’t really want to have to be everywhere on all social media channels just so people will read your blog.
  • You think anything you could possibly say has already been said by someone else – and they’ve said it better.
  • You’ve spent a lot of time and energy and love on your blog, but you’re just not seeing the traffic you hoped you would after a while.
  • It’s not as much fun as you thought it would be.
  • You’ve realised how much work it actually is.

I don’t know about you, but in my four-plus years of blogging, there have been times when I’ve felt a bit “blah” about it all, and times when I’ve felt I can really make it if I just work hard, be kind to people, and make the most of opportunities as they arise. There was a time after about a year and a half that I genuinely believed I’d enjoyed blogging, but I was done. That I could walk away from all I had created with nary a backward glance.

While I don’t think now I would ever give it up (especially since I now do it full-time), I certainly do still feel those periods of low motivation – where my mojo up and walks out, flies to Mexico and does some tequila shots. I have slumps where I feel like I should be further than where I am, that it shouldn’t be so hard to find advertising, that it takes more effort than I have to give, and that other people are funnier, cuter, and have better blogs than I do. I don’t have the time to be and do all that I need to be and do to be successful. But rather than quit, I coast along knowing that my mojo will eventually return, slightly drunk and suntanned, and I’ll have ideas coming out my ears and words coming out my fingertips again.

And so I say: Go with the flow.

Get in that slump when it arrives. Roll around there for a bit. Recognize you’re not bursting with blogger buzz, and accept that. For what goes down must come up – and you WILL blog again! Especially if you:

Rest. A creative mind craves downtime in order to fully function.

Don’t force it. Breaks are totally necessary to avoid blogger burnout and to ensure you’re in tip-top shape. If you’re worried about a dip in traffic, you might like to have a look at my other post about taking a blog break without losing momentum. But don’t write just to fill space. As Tsh Oxenreider said recently: you’ve got to actually be out there living life in order to write about it.

Read. Read something for fun, read a newspaper, finally have a crack at War and Peace. I guarantee that at some point you will read something that will spark that love of writing again, and wild horses couldn’t hold you back.

Be inspired. Without judgement or vanity, read the blogs you sincerely love as a reader. Not as a blogger. Don’t overthink it, just read and feel the good feelings you have when you consume for no other reason than you enjoy it. Your inspiration for your own creation will return.

Forget about your competition. If the “why aren’t I… ?”s getting you down, then it’s time to turf them. If you’re no longer being motivated by the success of others and instead, you’re starting to feel disappointed and left out, it’s time to turn inwards. Take a break to regroup and come back with an eye on your own prize. Don’t compare yourself to others: aim for your own goals and give yourself a pat on the back when you reach them. But for now, try and let comparison go.

Do what you love. Blogging can get very old very quickly if you’re not writing about the things that light a fire inside you. If you’ve pared back “your” voice in the hopes of being more marketable to brands, then you’re going to sound like a shopping catalogue, not a unique snowflake. And dammit, you are a unique snowflake! People read blogs for the human connection, for the quirky you who writes it. Be yourself and write what you love. It’s hard to be bored with that.

There’s plenty of advice around to whip you out of writer’s block, and what to do when a blog slump hits. You can kick your apathy to the kerb here, and we even have an entire week devoted to the best ways of creating content here. But none of the tips are going to be very useful if you’re not coming at them from the perspective of someone who loves what they do and aren’t afraid to blog their way.

Have you ever been tempted to chuck it all in?

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor at, and the blogger behind Veggie Mama. Can be found writing, 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.

5 Ways to Nail Social Media Branding

This is a guest contribution from Miranda Burford of Swiftly.

Social media marketing is one of the best ways to attract visitors to your blog. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube are among the hottest components in the modern marketer’s toolkit. But how do you make sure the branding you’ve built on your blog translates to all these other platforms? Here are five tips you can action right now to ensure you’re consistent across the board.

1. Develop a unique look and feel 

You always want to ensure that your social profiles are instantly recognizable as your own. Bring the logo, fonts, styles and imagery that define your brand (and your blog) to all of your communication outlets. Your profile pics and background images should be eye-catching and refreshed regularly — there’s really no option for staying stale on social media! If you’re not a designer, seek out some help. At Swiftly, for example, bloggers can quickly get a custom profile pic or background image for just $15.

2. Post fresh content regularly

Keep cranking out unique, engaging content on all of your social media channels by creating a varied publishing schedule and sticking to it. Posting regularly at peak times is extremely important (there are apps that can help pinpoint your audience’s best times), especially on Facebook and Twitter. Along with sharing your latest blog posts, try posting relevant news, photos, links and interviews you see around the web.

3. Be human to connect with your audience  

Blogs and social media outlets are not always the place for a hard sell. Be natural and have some fun. Create a consistent and well-defined voice that accurately reflects the tone on your blog. Don’t be afraid to poke fun at yourself! You’ll build a network by continually showing your personality to the world.

4. Engage with your community

Always focus on ways to develop an active online community. Encourage participation by fueling discussions, showcasing stories, sharing thoughts and running competitions. Remember to invite comments, questions, and suggestions from your audience, and be sure to reply to criticism right away. Being transparent will win over your audience.

5. Embrace your pro status

Be a top influencer in your industry by continuously sharing awesome content. It doesn’t all have to be original. Repurpose content whenever you can. Create partnerships with relevant businesses or other bloggers and work on a content sharing strategy together. Keep blogging and curating content to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry.

Miranda Burford is the Marketing Manager for Swiftly. Swiftly, a new service by 99designs, can get your small design jobs done in under an hour for just $19.

How to Take a10-Day Vacation, a 5-Day Business Trip, Get Food Poisoning, and Still Be Able to Write 42 Posts In a Month

This is a guest contribution by Karol K of

Just to set things straight… I’m not talking about writing 42 300-word posts. In September last year, I did write 42 web articles in total. Some of them were 2,800 words long. Some just 500. On the average, each article was about 1000 words. How do I know so precisely? Well, I keep a complete record of everything I write.

Having this little disclaimer out of the way, I can tell you the whole story of how I did it, why I’m so proud, and how you can do the same.

The story

Those 42 posts were meant for 3 clients and 2 blogs of my own. Regarding the work for my own blogs, I could just take it easy and not set any stone-written deadlines (I did anyway). On the other hand, the client work is always time-sensitive and needs to be delivered on a specific day no matter what.

There are some elements that add to the difficulty of this whole thing. You can see most of them in the title of this post, but here they are again:

  • 10-day vacation. I stayed in Barcelona for 6 weeks (whole August and half of September). And even though I did keep the normal work schedule, at some point, I decided to take a 10 day vacation and enjoy Barcelona to the fullest. In that time, I did no work whatsoever.

  • 5-day business trip to Turkey. This was another obstacle. Considering that it was a business trip, this meant that I had to take care of a lot of other things apart from writing articles. So, I needed to find a different approach to get it all done somehow.

  • Food poisoning. Oh yes, here’s what reminds me of Turkey the most. As it turns out, Turkish food isn’t good for me at all. That’s about 3-4 days (kind of) out of my schedule again. I’m saying kind of because I did manage to do some work then, but not much. Actually, even less than during my business trip.

So in total, this makes 10 days completely out of the calendar. Another 5 days of half-time working (or even 1/3), and the final 4 days of quarter-time (is that a phrase?) working. In total, 19 days.

But isn’t September just 30 days? Yes, it is.

Oh, and one more thing that’s not making my life easier, I’m a non-native English writer. This means that I have to proofread the hell out of my articles, which obviously takes a lot of additional time.

Here’s how I did it.

Plan first

Everything starts with a precise plan or at least, it should start with one. At the beginning of the month, I knew exactly how much time I will spend on vacation and on the business trip, the food poisoning was the only surprise.

I also knew how many posts I should write (roughly). Now, why is that number not exact? First of all, I had much freedom regarding my own blogs. Secondly, I told one of my clients that I will write around 20-25 posts for him.

Of course, you can’t always make that happen. But if you inform your clients that you’re going to be out on vacation, most of the time, it’s no problem as long as you can deliver the work shortly afterwards (it’s simple freelance marketing 101 if you’re into freelance blogging and not only publishing for yourself).

But let’s go back to the plan itself. So how was I able to create it and even make some room for any “unfortunate” event?

The way I do my planning when it comes to writing is something I’ve developed over time. I basically use one tool – a spreadsheet (a log) of my writing efficiency – fancy name, ain’t it? Every month, I jot down the exact number of words I’ve managed to write each day. So at the end of a given month, I have the total number of words written.

After doing this for a while, I know exactly what’s the comfortable number of words for me per month (and therefore the number of articles as well). And once I have the per month value, I can easily tell the per day value.

So, when creating my plan for September, I made an educated guess about the number of days I’d be able to work and then set the maximum number of words I was capable of writing. As a result, I estimated that 40-45 is indeed a possible total number of articles.

In short, it’s pure math, nothing else. Here’s the action plan if you want to replicate this for yourself:

  1. Start a writing log and record each article/chapter/post you write. It’s best to focus on the number of words, rather than on the number of articles.

  2. Gather data for 2-3 months.

  3. Now you have your personal writing efficiency score, which lets you estimate your performance going forward.

Get the tools and the hardware

At home, I do most of my work on a standard desktop computer. I have a standing desk, and an environment I find really great for focusing my attention and maintaining my productivity.

However, working abroad requires some additional arrangements…

As for the computer, I use a standard laptop. I find working on it way easier than on an iPad, which I also took for other purposes. (iPads are still great for some situations, more on that in a minute).

When it comes to tools, I didn’t even install anything new on the laptop. Whenever I realized that I need a specific tool, I just downloaded it, so there was no extra hassle (most of the tools I use are either free or online).

The only app I made sure I had installed was SugarSync. This really is invaluable. (When I got back home, my work was already waiting for me on my desktop computer automatically.)

The most important point here is to make your work (your posts/content) available remotely. So, double check if everything you need is inside your SugarSync (or Dropbox) account. You can be in much trouble if you’ve forgotten something and don’t have a way to get it.

You probably know this already, but using Gmail is helpful here as well. Gmail allows you to hook up any other email account (even those based on external domains), so you can have everything managed in one remotely available place.

Finally, if you’re doing active marketing while being abroad, Bidsketch is a nice way of handling client proposals (wink!). The tool will help you craft those proposals and make sure that every prospective client receives an offer.

Set the habits

Everything is under control at home. But when you’re abroad, you tend to get easily distracted by all the stuff that’s going on around you.

If you want to remain focused, you have to set some habits and dedicate yourself to keeping them in mind.

For instance, the main habit I keep mentioning in many of my publications is writing first thing in the morning. There’s really no better way to start the day off than by having your work done by 11AM. With this habit alone, you’ll make massive progress no matter what emergency the rest of the day brings.

There’s a really good reason why this approach works. Our brain or our personal processing power, if you will, runs out during the day. We simply get tired quickly. So if you want to get anything important done in a given day, you must take care of it as early as possible. In a sentence, do the important stuff first.

Not surprisingly, for a blogger or a writer, the important stuff usually revolves around writing itself. Hence, write first thing in the morning and then use the rest of the day for other tasks.

The other habit is using your NET – No Extra Time. Your NET is every moment when you’re doing a specific thing, yet you can successfully do something else at the same time.

Now, the most important distinction is that NET does not equal multitasking! Multitasking is the biggest enemy of productivity!

Multitasking is where you devote yourself to doing a number of things at the same time consciously. For instance, when you’re trying to write, answer email, and listen to a podcast all at the same time.

Utilizing your NET is when you’re doing a number of things during a time that is already lost, or time when you can harness different areas of your brain to do the work.

Let me give you two examples of NET:

  • Example #1 (time already lost): You’re on an airplane or at the airport (this obviously goes for any other mean of transportation as well). You’re there anyway, so why not do some writing? This is where an iPad comes really handy.

  • Example #2 (harnessing different areas of your brain ): At the gym. You could listen to an audiobook or an interview, either as part of your research prior to writing an article or just for fun. In essence, when you’re working out, you’re not using the creative part of your brain. You’re just using the simple impulses that tell you to exercise, so there’s still room for some intellectual activity.

And again, because I really want to emphasize this, utilizing your NET is not multitasking. Don’t. Ever. Multitask. Human beings are not meant to multitask.

Noticing your NET throughout the day, on the other hand, and using it to your benefit will allow you to get significantly more things done. I estimate that around 1/3 of my work in September was done during my NET.

Use a project management system

A system sounds like a big deal, but I actually don’t have any better way to call it.

Of course, in some cases, especially if you’re doing a lot of work collaborating with other people, and have to take care of a number of clients, getting an account at Teambox or Basecamp might be a good idea. But just to manage your own work, you don’t need much.

What I use for my own project management is Google Drive (formally Google Docs) and Remember The Milk. I find these tools easy to use, not to mention that they have all the functionalities I require. For a blogger, there’s not much you need… just a way of recording every post you write, task management, keeping up with the deadlines and with the people you’re sending those posts to (e.g. guest posts, posts for your clients).

For some of you, this sounds really basic, but you’d be amazed at how many people manage their work through an email account/software (meaning, tagging certain emails, and then going back to them at random occasions).

The main lesson here is that any system is still better than no system at all. You should at least sign up to Google Drive (available through your standard Google account).

Create the mindset of a winner

This sounds corny, but please bear with me here. When you have difficulty meeting a deadline or some other emergency strikes (like the food poisoning) then the only thing that can save you is your mindset.

And don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’m any better than you. A mindset is not something we’re born with. It’s something we can learn with time.

For me, the things that work best is imagining the goals that are in front of me and the things I’m set out to achieve. In comparison to all this, a puny food poisoning is simply not enough to shoot me down.

Also, by having your goal in mind, you can get the job done even if you’re not at your full abilities for 19 days in a month.

So this is how I did it. I’m positive that you can achieve similar results, or be even better, especially if you’re a native English writer.

Just to summarize the advice here in 5 simple steps:

  1. Plan first.

  2. Get the tools and software in place.

  3. Set the habits.

  4. Use a project management system.

  5. Create the mindset!

What’s your take on this? What’s your secret of remaining productive even if you know that you won’t be available for a number of days? I’m really curious to get your input on this one.

Karol K. is founder of and a team member at Bidsketch (proposal software). Whenever he’s not working, he likes to spend time training Capoeira and enjoying life.