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About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Blog Post Idea: How I Do It Posts

Recently I shared a simple technique that I use to come up with ideas to write about on my blog – answering a beginner question.

While not really rocket science I had a number of readers contact me privately with thank-you messages appreciating the nudge to write that type of post.

Today I’d like to suggest another simple technique for coming up with blog post ideas. It’s simple yet is perhaps one of the most powerful types of posts I’ve used on my own blogs many times in the last 12 years.

I call these posts the ‘how I do (or did) it’ post.

How I did (or do) it

Over the years I’ve found that posts that walk people through processes of how you do things go down exceptionally well.

Giving someone the theory is good but showing them how you apply that theory takes your writing to a new level.

There are a couple of ways to do this.

How I DID It

Firstly you could walk people through how you did a one-off thing.

You could write a post on how you lost weight, or a post on how you made a dining table for your family, or how you wrote your first book, or how you overcame your fear of heights.

For example Vanessa (my wife) wrote a post on travelling to Bali with Young Kids that basically shared tips from our experience of a trip to Bali with our kids last year.

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She followed it up with posts on where to shop in Bali and where to eat and drink in Bali.

Each of these posts essentially took our experience of that trip and explained what we’d done and learned on the trip. They contain a heap of practical tips gained from real experience.

These posts have been used many many times by Vanessa’s readers who are considering similar trips.

A variation on this ‘how I did it’ post might be a ‘what I learned from it’ type post.

For example when I created and released my first eBook I wrote about 8 lessons I learned from the experience here.

Screen Shot 2015 03 11 at 9 10 19 am

How I DO It

Secondly you could walk people through how you do something that is a normal part of your life.

For example I recently shared a screen cast of my social media workflow and how I keep my dPS Facebook page running and in another post shared an exercise I do in Google Analytics.

Screen Shot 2015 03 11 at 9 11 58 am

These are things I do regularly without really thinking about it that it turns out readers are interested in.

One of my good blogging friends – Nicole Avery – does this regularly on her blog Planning with Kids.

For example here is her family morning routine, her kids homework boxes and how she preps food for her 5 kids’ lunch boxes each week.

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In each case Nicole has simply looked at her life and found a routine, system or process that works for her and has shared it on her blog.

These things might be so much a part of your day or week that you don’t even think of them any more – but you’ll often find that these are things that will help others incredibly.

Exercise

Brainstorm ideas for these two types of posts.

What are some big one off things that you’ve done in your life that you could write about?

What are some things that you do regularly in your life each day or week that could actually help others? (e.g. routines, systems, processes).

Hint: pay close attention the questions that you regularly get asked from family and friends about how you do things or about the experiences that you’ve had. If people in your ‘real life’ are interested in how you do these kinds of things you can bet others online would be too.

Grab Your Ticket for the 2015 ProBlogger Training Event

Yesterday we released tickets to the 2015 ProBlogger Training Event on 14-15 August here in Australia on the Gold Coast.

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As I write this post 560 bloggers, speakers and team have grabbed their tickets (400 of those went in the first 10 minutes) and under 150 tickets remain.

This year we’ve got attendees coming from all states and territories in Australia as well as attendees flying in from the USA, New Zealand, India and Fiji.

Attendees not only come from all over the place but come from a wide spectrum of niches (everything from bloggers blogging about Fashion, to Health, to Travel, to Food, to Small Business and much more) and also a wide spectrum of experience levels.

Here’s the experience levels of attendees broken down (this doesn’t include speakers or team which all come from the 4-5 years or 5+ years categories).

Screen Shot 2015 03 20 at 12 36 10 pm

There’s a heap more information about the event over on the PBEVENT page – check out details of the speakers and sessions already announced (more to come) and venue and location.

I’m particularly excited about our international speakers this year. We’re bringing out Heather B Armstrong from Dooce, Jadah Sellner from Simple Green Smoothies, Pamela Wilson from CopyBlogger and Ruth Soukup from the Elite Blog Academy.

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If you’re thinking of joining us the cost for bloggers is just $399 AUD (around $300USD depending on the exchange rate on the day) which includes the two days of training, lunches and refreshments both days, a networking party and slides and recordings of all sessions.

Many conferences of this type and length cost upwards of $1000 so we’re pleased to have Olympus on board as a presenting partner. Olympus have substantially subsidised the cost of attending for bloggers this year but will also be adding a heap of value to the conference with some training for bloggers on how to take better photos for their blogs.

If you’re thinking of joining us please don’t wait too long and grab yours here. Tickets will sell out for this event and we’d hate for you to be disappointed.

Blog Post Idea: Answer a Beginner Question

Stuck for content ideas for your blog? Here is a type of blog post that might spark an idea or two for you – it could even spark ideas for a whole series.

It is something that should be relevant to most niches and topics of blog so pick one, write it up, and when you’re done I’d love to see it in comments below.

A question I had when I started out

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Sometimes the best received posts are the ones for beginners on topics that help them really get started out in whatever pursuit you are writing about.

This is one of my favourite techniques for coming up with ideas to write about is to simply think back a year, two or ten and think about the questions and challenges that I had at that time.

Then I write the answer that I’ve since discovered to that question.

It might seem a bit silly writing about something so beginner or basic but you’ll if you were asking it you can bet others are still asking it today.

Beginners are often an ignored reader in many niches so paying them attention can be a powerful technique.

It’s also great for creating content that will potentially rank well in search engines as Google is a place many people go to ask the questions they’re too embarrassed to ask their friends.

Examples

Beginner photography question

On dPS some of our most popular posts of all time are answering really simple beginner questions. For example my How to Hold a Camera post was inspired by my own mistakes as a kid taking blurry photos.

As I’ve previously written on ProBlogger – that How to hold a camera post was something so basic I nearly didn’t publish it. But to this day it’s had over 600,000 visitors to it (with more arriving every day).

Beginner blogging question

A similar example here on ProBlogger is my ‘what is a blog?’ post. I wrote the post in 2005 and to this day it still gets traffic!

Exercise

So think back – what questions did you used to ask about the topic or topics you write about? Come up with a list and start working through them.

You might even come up with enough to start a weekly or monthly series of posts for those just starting out.

Once you’ve brainstormed get to work and write your post. Once it is published feel free to share a link below so we can see what you wrote!

Are You a Full Time Blogger with Small to Medium Traffic? Let’s Chat

One of the biggest misconceptions that many bloggers have is that you need MASSIVE traffic to become a full time blogger.

We often hear how many hundreds of thousands or even millions of visitors this or that blog has but the reality is that I’ve met many bloggers over the years who don’t have massive traffic – yet who are still making a healthy income from their blogging.

The problem is that these bloggers don’t always have the platform to tell their stories and so the myth that you need massive traffic goes on without being busted.

This year I want to smash that myth and want to tell the stories of smaller to medium sized bloggers who are making a living from their blogs.

Are you a Full Time Blogger-
If you’re a full time (or close to full time) blogger and would consider yourself to be in the small to medium category – I’ve love to hear a little about you and your blog and have set up a form to help gather your stories.

I can’t guarantee to tell everyone’s story (I’ve already had 80 responses) but I would love to hear it.

I’m looking for as many models of making money blogging as I can find. So whether you’re doing it through some kind of advertising or sponsorship or by selling an eProduct or membership or even if you’re using a blog to sell your services or to promote a brick and mortar business – I’d love to hear from you.

Note: I’m particularly looking for blogs that are NOT about making money online. While that’s a legit niche I got a load of those in previous submissions. I’d much prefer to hear from blogs who blog about fashion, travel, food, business, health, fitness, parenting, life… not making money. Sorry if that excludes you but looking for other niches right now.

Here’s the form for you to submit your details

PS: a few people have asked what I would classify ‘small to medium traffic’ as. While I’m open to your interpretation on that the examples that I’ve got so far that interest me the most are from people who have traffic from as little as 600 visitors a month (really, there are a couple of great examples) up to 20,000 to 30,000 per month (or 1000 or so per day).

Having said that – I’m open to hearing all kinds of stories!

Why You Should Join us at the next ProBlogger Training Event

Have you ever considered coming to a ProBlogger training event?

We hear from a lot of bloggers around Australia (and internationally) that they’ve thought about it but were a little unsure if it was for them.

So at last year’s event we filmed this little video with the help of our mate Mick Russell to give you a feel for the event, our attendees and why they think you should join us at our 2015 event.

In the lead up to tickets being launched on 19 March we’ve begun to make announcements about what is happening at this year’s event. Here’s what you need to know:

Dates: 14-15 August
Venue: RACV Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast (Queensland Australia)
Cost: $399 AUD (that’s currently $311 USD)
Includes: two full days of training, recordings/slides of all sessions, lunch and refreshments both days and entry to our Friday night networking event.

Problogger event venue

We’ve also started announcing some of our speakers.

Heather and pamela

So far there’s Heather B Armstrong from Dooce, and Pamela Wilson from Copyblogger and Big Brand Systems. Of course as usual I’ll also be speaking and we’ll be announcing more speakers as we get closer to tickets going on sale on 19 March.

There are a few more details over on our event page (including information on accommodation and flights).

If you’re interested in coming along make sure you’re signed up to receive our email alerts:



What does the ‘Pro’ in ProBlogger Stand for?

Startup Stock PhotoI overheard an interesting debate on Twitter recently about what the ‘Pro’ in ProBlogger stands for.

Is it to signify professional behaviour, or is it about the profession of blogging?

The answer is both – but in my mind it’s more.

Here’s what the Pro in ProBlogger means to me

I’m Pro Bloggers – I love bloggers

As a 16-year-old I took a short course in public speaking.

This was an unusual move for me because I was a very shy kid who had a small group of friends. The idea of speaking in front of a room of people terrified me, but as I wanted to conquer that fear I took the class.

At the end of the course I had to stand up in front of a room of 60 or so people and talk for five minutes. I’d never felt such a rush of exhilaration and I saw people in the audience respond positively to my words and it triggered in me the beginning of a passion for communication.

I’ve explored many forms of communication over the years but when I stumbled across blogs for the first time in 2002 I knew I’d found something special. What other tool could amplify the voice of an ordinar guy like me around the world to millions of people?

I love blogging and I love bloggers and what they do day in and day out with their blogs. This blog is written by bloggers for bloggers and my hope is that it’ll help them to step closer to their potential.

It’s about the Profession of Blogging

For the first 18 or so months of my blogging, I didn’t consider the idea that it could be anything but a hobby. That changed through a series of events including starting a little digital camera review blog and stumbling across the brand new Google AdSense ad network.

To cut a long story short I began to experiment with making a little money from my blogs with the hope of covering my server costs and with the dream of one day being able to make enough money to get off dial-up internet and onto broadband.

Gradually I made enough to do both those things and the income grew into the equivalent of a part time income. At this point I created a category on my personal blog for ‘blog tips’ and began sharing what I was learning.

My income continued to grow until I reached a point in late 2004 where I realised I was going to have a full time income from blogging and that it had the potential to be my career or profession.

I began to search for other full time bloggers and found very few writing about their experience so decided to start a blog on my journey to ‘go pro’ as a blogger. ProBlogger.net was born and I imported all my previously written blog tips from my personal blog over to start it in September 2004.

I can’t lay claim to inventing the term as someone had already registered ProBlogger.com (which I later bought). They were not really using the domain (but seemed to have plans to develop a blogging platform) and as far as I know, I was the first person to use the term to describe someone making a living from blogging.

The early days of the blog were simply me sharing my journey of making a living from blogging. I wrote more general blog tips but the focus was always upon helping bloggers to sustain writing about their passions by building profitable blogs.

It’s about Positive Blogging

I’m a glass half full kind of guy (most of the time) and was brought up by parents who taught me to always look for the positives in situations I face, and in the people around me. Similarly, a phrase that was often heard in our house was ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all’.

This has all rubbed off on me and the way that I blog and I’m a big believer in spending 99% of my time doing things that are constructive and positive rather than focusing upon negativity, controversy, or picking out the fault in others.

I’ve seen many blogs about blogging come and go over the years but have noticed one type of blog tips blog ‘go’ (or die) more often than others – that being the type that dwells of the negative more often than the positive.

A number of examples come to mind (that I won’t name) but all of which either focused upon critiquing the approach of others, causing division, stirring up controversy, and basically attempting to get traffic by causing trouble.

While in some cases the negative tactic worked in getting eyeballs, each of these blogs is inactive today, and conversations with several of the bloggers concerned revealed that they couldn’t sustain the negativity and ended up burning out.

They also reflected to me that because they blogged negatively that they drew around them negative readers, and while traffic often rose so did a brand that they didn’t really want to be associated with in the long term.

In my experience, a blogger sets the tone for their blog. If you blog with a negative stance you tend to create a culture of negativity that others pick up on and join in on.

This is why some blogs end with with a cesspool of negativity in their comments.

On the flip side if a blogger models constructive and positive blogging this can help with building a strong positive and constructive community of readers.

While there will may be times to call out bad behaviour, write a justified rant, or offer a critique, my hope for ProBlogger is that it is a place for positive and constructive advice that brings about lasting change for those who read it.

It’s about blogging Professionally

My hope with ProBlogger is that it is not only a blog that helps others to ‘Go Pro’ as bloggers, but that it inspires them to do so in a professional and ethical manner.

A few years ago at a business conference I met a small group of attendees at a networking session, and on mentioning what I did, one of the members of the group burst out with the statement “but all you bloggers are scammers and sleaze bags!”

I’ll never forget that moment and the anger that the gentleman spoke with.

After an awkward silence for a few seconds, he shared his story. It wasn’t a pleasant one.

Sadly he’d been ripped off by a blogger who claimed to be able to teach him how to make a fortune from blogging with his $3000 ‘program’. The program turned out to be a poorly curated collection of posts from ProBlogger and several other blogging tips blogs and the promised coaching and support never eventuated.

Unfortunately this is not an isolated story, and one of the difficult parts about blogging about making money blogging is that the unprofessional and unethical actions of a small few bloggers in this niche hurt the reputation of the rest of us.

ProBlogger has no $3000 programs and makes no promises of overnight riches from blogging. Making money from blogs generally takes a long term approach and a lot of good, old-fashioned hard work.

While the temptation to take short cuts through unethical ‘black hat’ behaviour exist, the reality is that doing so puts you at the risk of being caught out and having your reputation hurt.

My goal with ProBlogger is to create a site that helps bloggers to blog well about what they’re passionate about, to build business models around their blogs to help them sustain what they do, and to do it in a professional and ethical way.

How to Build an Efficient Social Media Workflow to Increase your Traffic

Recently I shared a video on my Facebook page about how I structure social media updates each week.

I have been asked frequently about how much content to share, what times to share, and what I do personally for each of my sites. I take a pretty proactive approach on the Digital Photography School Facebook and Twitter feeds, ensuring there’s a broad range of new and old content across timeslots that work for our audience.

It’s solid advice I think would be useful in any niche – especially because there is the tendency to be overwhelmed with having to keep up with different social media sites, all the while trying to be relevant and interesting. I always tell people to choose the sites that work for your blog and your audience, and to focus on doing them well.

In this video, I share my (very simple Google Doc) editorial calendar, and how I find content to fill it. I also go through the process I use to share each article with our audience, from choosing the image, to describing it in a way that will interest people. I also go through how I look through the archives for relevant articles that haven’t been shared in a while.

Do you have a social media workflow? Do you find using a third-party scheduling app useful? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

 

A Powerful Exercise inside Google Analytics to Set You Up for a Successful Year of Blogging

Have you started the year off on the right foot? I hope you had a worthwhile end of 2014 and are looking at 2015 with excitement and anticipation!

Today I wanted to share with you an exercise that I do on my blogs at the end of every year that helps me to grow my blogs in the year that follows.

I find that it both inspires me to get moving on the new year of blogging but also gives me some starting points for direction for the new year.

It’s an exercise that I do over the last week of 2014 and the first week of 2015 but is also something you could spend just 10 minutes doing and still get some value from.

google-analytics-logo

It all starts for me in Google Analytics (the tool I use to track how my blogs are performing). You may use a different tool which will get you the same results (and if you’re not using something please do).

Note: I know the mention of ‘analytics’ is enough to put some of you off reading on any further. I get that – I’m not really an analytical guy. In fact anything with numbers or statistics elevates my blood pressure and makes me want to run screaming into my happy place. But bear with me – the numbers are just the starting point for this exercise and not the main thing!

I’m going to break this post down into three main sections which are based upon the three main categories in Google Analytics – ‘Audience’, ‘Acquisition’ and ‘Behaviour’.

I should say that there’s a HEAP more we could drill down into than what I’ll cover in this post but my hope is to give you some starting points to do some analysis in.

Note: Google Analytics also has ‘Real Time’ and ‘Conversions’ sections. I’ve previously touched on Real Time stats and it’s not as relevant for the type of analysis we’re talking about today. The ‘conversions’ area of analytics is something I’m still relatively new to so won’t be touching on today.

OK – grab a cup of your favorite beverage and make yourself comfortable – this will take a little while but I hope will be well worth your time!

Audience

Audience Overview

Firstly I log into Google Analytics and head to the ‘Audience Overview’ and plug in the dates for the full year to get a quick overview of how the year was. I usually look at things first in a ‘daily’ view to see where the spikes were and get a sense for the weekly cycle of traffic.

Blogging exercise daily overview

Note: all the screenshots in this post are stats from my main blog Digital Photography School (dPS). They are stats just for the ‘blog’ area of that site and not the forum or sister sites.

You can see in the above chart that there’s some regular patterns to traffic on dPS. Each week there is a spike (related to the day we send our newsletter) and a lull (weekends). There were also a few great spikes where we had posts go viral (this is something to investigate and take note of – we’ll touch on it later).

From this chart I immediately can begin to see that there wasn’t huge growth in the site over 2014 – although things were definitely lower at the start than the end.

To get a better picture of growth I find looking at a weekly and/or monthly view can be helpful. Here is the monthly view.

Blogging exercise monthly overview

Now we have a clear picture of the months things did well and slowed down. We can immediately see February was lowest (it always is for dPS – mainly because it has less days) and December was our record month (ever).

Some of these peaks and troughs will be seasonal but others are not. For example July and August tend to be slower months for us as many of our readers are out and about enjoying the Summer of the Northern Hemisphere.

Compare This Year to Last Year

Another fun chart to look at here is to compare 2014 with the year before.

To do this click on the date section and tick the ‘compare to’ box and plug in last year’s dates like this:

Blogging exercise comparison

You can again view this by day, week or month. I like monthly as it can show you seasonal impacts. Here’s how mine looked:

Blogging exercise monthly comparison

You can see here the Feb slump in both years as well as the November and December rise.

I love this comparative view because it shows the real growth we’ve had. While you can kind of get the feeling some of the other views above that we grew over the year it’s a relatively flat line.

This comparison shows that even in November where the lines are closest that we had 31% more traffic than the previous year. April was 82% higher than the previous year.

Note: comparison reports are a lot of fun and can be very motivating. Here’s how I use them during the year to keep my blog growing month to month.

Scroll further down the report and you get more comparative data:

Blogging exercise monthly comparison 2

We can see here that overall we were up by 51.58% in terms of traffic, 31.87% in users and 39.03% in page views – all good signs.

Below however we see some areas to work on. Pages viewed per session, time spent on site, bounce rate and new visitor numbers were all down (I’ll dig into the reasons for this below) – something we need to work on improving in 2015.

We had already noticed this and are getting ready to launch an evolution of our design that is all about trying to get visitors to view more pages per visit (which will lift their time on site and decrease bounce rate).

If you scroll down the page further you can also do some comparisons from year to year on other areas including language spoken by visitors, their location, the browser they use, operating system, screen resolution etc.

A couple that interested me:

Blogging exercise monthly comparison location

While numbers of those visiting from the US have growth significantly (62%) as a total percentage of our readers we’ve seen a fall and much faster growth in terms of our readers from parts of Asia.

This is something to keep in the back of our mind as we think about content but also how we monetise the site.

The other big shift from 2013 to 2014 was the growth in mobile use of the site which we can see in looking at operating systems used.

Blogging exercise monthly comparison operating system

Mobile vs Desktop

While we’re talking about devices lets quickly click the ‘Mobile > Overview’ item in the menu on the left of the page and see the comparison of desktop to mobile and tablet.

Blogging exercise monthly comparison mobile overview

As I mentioned just a couple of months ago in a post here on ProBlogger mobile/tablet traffic is now overtaking desktop traffic on many sites. In fact on dPS in December we saw desktop traffic make up only 46.41% of the overall site traffic with mobile getting 39.11% and tablets getting 14.48%.

Thankfully we now have a fully responsive design on the site!

One interesting thing I noticed looking at the breakdown of mobile/desktop traffic is the difference in bounce rate on them.

Blogging exercise mobile analysis

Mobile traffic has a significant higher bounce rate and lower page views per session/time on site. This is an ever increasing problem with mobile traffic growing and gives me some great information to feed into our site redesign – we obviously need to think about how to get those viewing the site on mobile to view more pages. It’s not the only reason these stats are down though (read on to find out the other part of the issue).

Lets move onto the ‘Acquisition’ section.

Acquisition

OK – so in the Audience section we saw we had some decent growth in traffic to the site. In the Acquisition area we can begin to analyse where that traffic is coming from.

Acquisition Overview

Click the ‘Overview’ item in the menu for a quick top level look at where traffic is coming from.

Blogging exercise acquisition overview

Obviously organic search is driving a lot of our traffic (44.4%) with social and direct each contributing around another 25%. Email looks small but a lot (in fact most) of the ‘direct’ traffic is actually from our email newsletter. There is also talk lately that some direct traffic is actually mobile traffic from Facebook.

Channels

Drill down further into each of these channels by clicking the ‘channels’ item in the left hand menu. In turn you can begin to look at each channel in turn and look for trends.

We could spend a lot of time digging around in here and it can be well worth doing – but for the purpose of this post here are a few things I found.

Firstly – a lot of the growth to dPS in 2014 can be attributed to social traffic – in particular Facebook.

While I know many publishers have become frustrated with Facebook in the last couple of years I have persisted with it – in fact I’ve put more time and effort into developing a rhythm of posting to our Digital Photography Facebook page (and even started a second Facebook page).

Here is a chart of all social traffic (blue line) with Facebook (orange), Twitter (purple) and Pinterest (green) to show you just how much Facebook is responsible for our social traffic.

Blogging exercise acquisition social

This above chart is both simultaneously encouraging (that all my work on our Facebook page is paying off) but also worrying (that perhaps we’re becoming too reliant upon Facebook). It is inspiring me to think about how to grow other social channels in 2015 (something I’ve begun work on with Twitter in the last week).

What I find really interesting looking at social traffic is that it’s this traffic that is dragging down our performance in terms of pages viewed per page, bounce rate, time on site and ‘new users’ that I mentioned above.

Here’s some analysis of our social traffic:

Blogging exercise acquisition social analysis

You can see there that Facebook traffic brings in only 23.99% ‘new’ visitors to the site. It’s very much about engaging with regular/loyal readers. This is great for building engagement but given Facebook brings in over 20% of our site’s traffic it has dragged down our overall stats in this area.

The same thing is happening withe ‘bounce rate which is a little higher than the site average’, pages viewed per session and average time on site.

Knowing this gives me a little comfort but also motivates me to work harder on our design to get more pages viewed per visit.

Referral Traffic

Another thing I noticed in the acquisition area is that ‘referral’ traffic only makes up 4.98% of our overall traffic. While this is still 2.3 million sessions its an area that I think there’s room for improvement on.

We did see one really nice day of referral traffic mid year after a mention in a Business Insider post – but other than that it’s been slowish (interestingly that post was syndicated on many other sites also which led to a lot more little trickles of traffic for the months after).

Blogging exercise acquisition referral

I’ve not really spent much time in the last couple of years working on this. Perhaps it is time to start doing some guest posting or networking with other site owners.

Social Landing Pages

Before we leave the ‘acquisition’ section it is worth looking at the Acquisition > Social > Landing Pages report which will show you the posts and pages on your site that got the most traffic from social media.

This is actually a report that I spend some significant time looking at. Here are the top 10 results for dPS in this report (click to enlarge).

Blogging exercise acquisition social landing pages

This report is one that can be well worth some real analysis on. Dig deeper than the first 10 items though (you can show as many as 5000 but the top 100 or so will give you some great insights).

By looking it over you’ll identify some great information on what type of content is getting shared, liked and engaged with on social media.

This will hopefully give you some hints for what type of content you might want to create for 2015 but also might give you some hints as to how to engage on social media too.

For example the #1 post in this report is an old post on camera settings that I noticed did well on Facebook back in 2012. I reshared it on Facebook in December and it went wild again. In fact it did so well that it was responsible for our biggest day of traffic ever later in December and is still sending us traffic weeks later.

I can’t emphasise enough how powerful it can be to reshare content that has done well previously. So many bloggers only share their new stuff on social media and forget that there’s gold in their archives.

This report is great for identifying these shareable posts – I’d even go so far as to advise exporting it and using it as a part of your social strategy for the next 12 months.

Note: I’ll write more below on analysing content below in the ‘behaviour’ section.

If you click on any of the landing pages in this report you get taken to a page which shows you where the traffic came from.

For example item 4’s report looks like this:

Blogging exercise acquisition social landing pages report

This can help you to get a sense for where content might be being shared around.

Behavior

This is by far my most favorite section in Google Analytics and I spend a lot of time in here during the year. I particularly love the ‘Site Content’ area – I guess because content is what I’m really most interested in.

All Pages vs Landing Pages

There are two reports here that I find most interesting. ‘All Pages’ and ‘Landing Pages’.

While both show similar data I think it’s well worth looking at both.

‘All pages’ shows how many times pages and posts on your blog have been ‘viewed’.

‘Landing Pages’ shows how many times a page or post was the entry page into your site.

While these might sound similar they can produce quite different results. Lets compare the two for my blog.

First ‘All Pages’.

Blogging exercise behavior all pages

Now ‘Landing Pages’.

Blogging exercise behavior landing pages

Obviously there are some similarities here but some differences too.

For example our ‘photography tips for beginners‘ page is in both lists but people land on it only 197,669 times in the year but end up viewing it 566,590 times. This is because it is linked to very prominently in the navigation menu. The reason I put it there was that I’d previously noticed it had a very very low bounce rate

You can also see in the ‘all pages’ report that our Cameras page is our 6th most viewed page on the site despite it not featuring prominently as a landing page. This is our category page for cameras on the site and is really useful to see as it’s a page that has not previously had as many clicks on it. Obviously our audience are increasingly interested in knowing more about ‘gear’ – this will inform our posts for 2015.

All Pages

The ‘all pages’ report is really interesting to look at how readers are viewing all posts and pages on your site.

Other interesting findings by looking at this report include that our ‘thank you for subscribing to our newsletter’ page is actually the 22nd most visited page on our blog. I’ve not updated that page in over two years – so this gives me cause to go to it and see if I can optimise it.

Blogging exercise behavior thank you

Another useful piece of information I found on our ‘all pages’ report were a couple of pages with odd URLS that were appearing in our top 200 pages viewed on the site. Both had /?s= strings.

Blogging exercise search results

These pages are search results pages. So over 83,000 people have searched for ‘lightroom‘ and over 63,000 have searched for ‘photoshop‘ in the last 12 months. While in comparison to other pages on the site this isn’t massive traffic – it gives us some hints as to what our readers are looking for and perhaps are not finding enough of.

This is great information for future content planning.

These two results were the most searched for terms on the site but it got me wondering what else people are searching for – so I dug deeper. I plugged in ‘/?s=’ into the search box in the ‘all pages’ report and ran a report on anything with this string.

There were 211,751 results to this search! That’s over 200,000 words or phrases that people have searched for in the last 12 months. Here’s the top results:

Blogging exercise more search results

These are all single word searches and give us some good broad information on topics people want information on – but dig further down into the search results and you start to get phrases and more specific searches.

Blogging exercise more search results 2

This is really useful information. While only 13 people searched for those terms I can already see topics that we could write posts on based upon some of the more common words and phrases being searched for.

You can bet that I’ll be digging further into this report and that it’ll be informing content on the blog in 2015!

Landing Pages

OK – digging into the ‘landing pages’ report is one of my favorite things to do as it gives some great insights into where people are entering your site – great information for thinking about how to grow your traffic further in the next year.

This is one report I regularly export into a spreadsheet to do more in depth analysis on.

How to Export this report - Before you export it scroll to the bottom of the page and choose to show more rows than the default 10. I choose 100 or 500. Then scroll to the top of the page and look for the ‘export’ drop down menu and choose how you want to export it. I usually export as a CSV and then view it as a spreadsheet.

9 Questions I Ask Myself About Content Reports in Google Analytics

As I work with this report there are a number of questions I’m asking myself including:

  1. what posts you might want to reshare on social at some point? – if it did well once it might do well again (see above for an example of this).
  2. what types of posts/mediums get shared most? – for example I notice in our most popular posts this year were a number of cheat sheets and infographics. This gives us hints as to what kind of posts might do well in 2015.
  3. what topics are hot? – for example I noticed in our top 100 posts for social that we had a lot of posts on camera lenses that did well. This informs what we might do more of in 2015.
  4. what headlines did well? – I noticed in our top 100 posts that we saw a number of posts that talked about ‘mistakes‘ that photographers make doing well. While we don’t want to do these posts all the time they do do well on social so we’ll no doubt do a few more in 2015.
  5. what posts could you extend? – some posts that have done well might lend themselves to become a series. For example our post ‘the only three lenses you’ll need for Travel Photography‘ could easily be extended to feature lenses for other types of photography.
  6. what posts could be optimised? – if posts are getting decent long term traffic from search or social it can be worth thinking about how to update them either by adding new content or by optimising them for search or social traffic. For example I noticed that our post on ISO settings is ranking well in Google but was not in the top 2-3 results in searches for ISO – so I’ve tweaked the post hoping to help that.
  7. what posts that I expected to go well under performed? – a lot can be learned from posts that DIDN’T rank in the most visited post lists. Perhaps they had the wrong headline, perhaps they could be republished at a better time, perhaps they are just a signal that the topic isn’t of interest to your readers.
  8. what older posts that need updating are still getting traffic? – this year I’ve noticed a number of 7-8 year old posts still getting significant traffic from Google. While some of them have evergreen content that is still relevant today a couple are very dated and in real need of updating.
  9. what posts are generating a lot of extra page views? – some pages stimulate readers to view a lot of other pages. On dPS I’ve developed number of what I call ‘sneeze pages’ that propel readers deep within the site. For example this year I notice that anyone entering our blog on our Portrait Photography Tips page is going on to view over 5 other posts on the blog. These pages that ‘over perform’ are ones to consider adding to menus, side bars, ‘further reading’ on other posts and sharing more regularly on social media.

Other Behavior Reports to Look at

There’s a lot more in the beheavior area of Google Analytics to dig into. Site speed is one to watch and work on. We’ve worked hard in the last 18 months to speed up dPS (although we could do more) as Google seem to be putting more emphasis on the speed of a site when working out how to rank it.

If you use AdSense on the site there’s some good data in Analytics too if you sync them up. Doing some work on working out which posts in your archives are most profitable on that front can certainly help you in working out which posts to keep promoting and what kind of content seems to be converting.

Summing Up

The above description may seem a little overwhelming but I cannot emphasise enough just how important it is to begin to develop this kind of analysis of your blog.

You may choose to only do some of this or might focus on other areas – but the more you know about how your blog has been travelling the better position you’ll be in to plan for future growth!

Seasons Greetings from ProBlogger

Greetings from Melbourne Australia where it has just ticked past midnight and we are now officially celebrating Christmas day (or at least I am… while the rest of my family are asleep).

As I sit here – having just wrapped my latest gift – I’ve been contemplating what a massive year it has been.

It’s been big for our family – Vanessa’s blog kicked up a gear, our second eldest son started school, his older brother joined every sporting team he could and our youngest… well he just doesn’t stop!

It’s been big for our team – in fact we’ve had our biggest year ever on many fronts. Our Aussie event grew to 550 attendees, we relaunched ProBlogger.com, and saw a heap of new members join up, we hit record traffic levels on my photography blog and a couple of hours ago we sent our last email on our biggest 12 Photography Deals of Christmas promotion in five years.

This year also saw my little team grow again. We now have nine of us working in the core team (many on a part time basis) and another 30 or so people contributing in different ways as regular writers, designers, developers, editors, and more.

I’m feeling particularly grateful to this team. They’ve worked hard this year, many of them behind the scenes, to help keep ProBlogger and dPS running. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

Lastly I am very thankful to those who keep coming back to my blogs, forums, sites and events as readers, members, customers and friends. Without you this little business that I’ve managed to carve out of blogging would not be possible.

Looking forward to 2015 I’m excited about the many possibilities and the plans we’ve already put in place for a new new ventures and experiments. But before we get into that… it’s time for a little summer break for most of us here at ProBlogger.

Some of us are going to the beach, others of us are taking road trips and a few of us are going to simply recharge at home and watch some cricket. But we will all be back in a week or two when we’ll ressume blogging here on ProBlogger – so stay tuned.

In the mean time – don’t forget to check out our ‘best of’ series from the last week or so with all our best posts of 2014.

Have a safe and restful end of the year and we’ll see you in 2015!