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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.

PBEVENT 2015: A Roundup of Tips and Advice Shared at the ProBlogger Training Event Sessions

A roundup of tips shared during the sessions at PBEVENT 2015

On August 14 and 15, more than 700 bloggers and online creatives descended upon the RACV Royal Pines on Australia’s Gold Coast for two days of learning and networking at the ProBlogger Training Event.

We had wonderful speakers – Pamela Wilson from Big Brand System and Copyblogger, Heather B. Armstrong from Dooce, and Jadah Sellner from Simple Green Smoothies were a few of the international contingent, and there was a strong representation of speakers from all levels of Australian blogging. The topics ranged from how to cultivate your blogging voice, to how to run your blog like a small business, and everything in between.

One of the key themes of the event was to make small changes. In my opening keynote I talked about how small changes were needed in your health and wellness too, as these factors will impact your blogging and online endeavours. I also shared my tips for productivity and encouraged attendees to think about their “why” – what was the purpose of their blog that drove them? Only when you know and work in accordance with that will you be successful.

This post focuses on some of the main ideas and recommended action steps that came out of the training weekend. We’ve linked to further resources where possible.

Look at your life

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Self Care:

It’s so important to get the foundations of any business right, and the foundation of everything is you. How are you? No, really? Are you eating right? Getting enough sleep? Exercising? Paying attention to relationships? All of these things and more (including knowing your purpose) impacts on every aspect of your business.

  • Start tracking your movement
  • Take a daily walk in the sunshine

I have provided more tips on living a good life at Feel Gooder.

Productivity

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  • Monitor how much time you are spending responding VS how much are your spending creating. Many people recommended Rescue Time to help them discover where their online time went.
  • Action: write down three tasks you can batch process. I wrote How Batch Processing Made Me 10 Times More Productive in 2008.
  • Know your best hours to work. First thing in the morning? Lunch time? Afternoon? Evening? Read: How To Figure Out Your Most Productive Time Of Day
  • Find an accountability partner. Some attendees are creating groups to help support them
  • You don’t need official mentors. Action step: find someone whose work you love and get to know more about their work and personality
  • Look at your goal list. Can you change it to have bigger goals with smaller supporting goals?

Blogging Basics:

Google Analytics

Community Management:

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  • What small actions can you take to love and delight your community?
  • Make a list of ways you can pay it forward
  • Action step: list the simple actions people can take to move people closer to their transformation. What is the gateway problem you can solve? Don’t overwhelm with the value: What is one simple thing your audience can do?

Content Marketing:

Planning content:

  • Identify and create a profile for your dream reader. Use Pinterest and Instagram to help figure out who you want to serve.
  • The best content are posts/resources that are insanely useful. Create a list of posts you can write that will make life easier for your readers. Look at speaker Pamela Wilson’s resources page for a brilliant example of the type of posts to write.
  • Commit to critically assessing your blog posts before you press publish. Is there a payoff for the reader? Am I communicating more than one idea? Am I making it hard for the reader to act?
  • Look at the images you are posting on each platform. Are the images native to that platform? Look at using the recently launched Canva at Work to easily resize them
  • Plan out your next month of content in advance.The article How to Build a Content Calendar can help you with this.
  • Write down 100 ideas for blog posts. Need inspiration? Check out The Ultimate List of Blog Post Ideas
  • Check out your draft posts. Could you use any of these ideas to come up with a list of 100? Thanks to Tonya Grant from our Facebook community for that idea.
  • Invite people from your email list to an informal focus group on the phone. You can incentivize them with free or cheap access to a product, or offer a free coaching question in exchange. Amy Porterfield offers advice about this process in How to Create a Survey to Find Your Target Market

Email Marketing

    • Brainstorm ideas for a challenge. Create a Facebook group to test the idea and build initial momentum. You can check out my original Challenge, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, and the updated podcast version. This started via blog posts but is a great way to learn.
    • Look in your blog community for people who have created challenges as part of the opt-in process. Analyze the content. What are they doing right? What could they do better?
    • Link your social media profiles to your email unsubscribe. They may not want to communicate with you via email but would be interested in content on a different platform. Want more ideas to integrate social media and email? Check out Buffers post 6 Creative Ways to Combine Social Media and Email
    • Tailor the content to user site behaviour or a specific registration/landing page
    • re-engagement campaigns can improve list health. If they don’t connect with your campaign, you can drop the subscribers. You can learn more about email engagement campaigns via this great course at Hubspot.
    • Uncover the needs of those you want to serve in a welcome email ask who are you, your hopes and dreams what’s getting in the way?

Content events:

Pamela Wilson delivered a great presentation on Content Events. These events are designed to build your list and make your audience love you. You can learn more about this concept in Pamelas fabulous post on the subject at Copyblogger.

The following action steps apply to those that are interesting in developing a content event.

  • Give your a content event a name that makes people want to attend. Promise a solution, create curiosity and promise a benefit
  • Create a graphic around your event.
  • Give those that are attending for the first time a separate email to stay in contact.
  • new first time attendees give them a separate email to stay in contact
  • Create a thank you page for those signed up to attend your event. It really builds goodwill and makes people feel special
  • Create a special offer for an older product after your content event. This can increase sales.
  • Find ways to continue the conversation after the event. Send resources like a checklist, transcript, replay or resource list.

Need an example of content events? Check out out Pamelas example at Big Brand Webinars.

Video:

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Video was mentioned during a number of sessions. A lot of the advice was about practical skills that you could immediately apply

  • Look at Vimeo pro. It was recommended for hosting videos that you only want certain people to see. They work on every device and puts controls around who sees the videos
  • Watch Australian story to see how they put together their stories for inspiration for your video.
  • Sign up for Bloggers Video School (if allowed.)

Social Media

Facebook:

  • Experiment with scheduling. Post at different times of the day and see what response you get.
  • Try out Co-Schedule to see if it works for you.
  • Decide on specific times each day when you will interact with your fans on Facebook. You can experiment with different times, but stick to the original time limit.
  • Ask relevant friends to share your Facebook page. This is a good way to create an initial audience on Facebook
  • Asking prescheduled questions on Facebook can reduce the overwhelm. Watch this video from Amy Porterfield to learn how to ask the questions that get your Fans talking.

Instagram

  • Ask yourself: why do I want to be on Instagram? You shouldn’t be on there because you think you should. You need a compelling reason. If you lack a good reason, consider not using the platform.
  • Look at your brands Instagram account. Are you posting a lot of personal images? If so, look at creating a separate account. If you want a great example, look at the Instagram profile for Interiors Addict.
  • Optimize your Instagram bio. Look at How to Write Instagram Bios for Businesses.
  • Create a hashtag strategy for Instagram that makes it easy for people to find your photos. Read How to Identify Relevant Hashtags for Your Business for tips.
  • Hire a friend that is a really good photographer to take photos for you. This is more authentic then stock photos. If you can’t afford this, offer to barter services.
  • Think right now: who are 3 people in similar fields to you who may have a similar dream client? Can you cross promote with them?
  • Use Iconosquare to learn about the key metrics about your Instagram account.
  • If you are a lifestyle brand, look at showing a ‘day in the life’ of the lifestyle product. Example: one day of a cleanse
  • Create keyboard shortcuts so you don’t have to copy and paste all your hashtags from notepad. This video from Dotti Media shows you how to do this.
  • Seek out Feature Instagram Accounts. These are posts that curate photos from the Instagram community according to them. Use the relevant hashtag in your photos to catch the curators attention.You can learn more about them at Instagram 101: What Are “Feature” Accounts?

Pinterest

Ruth Soukup, From Living Well Spending Less, spoke on ways we could improve our Pinterest presence. She dropped a lot of knowledge in a short amount of time.

Monetization

Selling products:

  • Do you have more than two products? Ask yourself: Can I integrate others into the sales process?
  • Ask around in your community for find your design team. You can ask people publicly via social media or ask your peers privately
  • Looking an information product designer? Look at the people who designed products you are in love with
  • Idea: Create a manual for your affiliates. Walk them through the technical process step by step. This will prevent many of the support queries you can get. You can also include ideas on how to increase conversions.

Landing pages:

These action steps are primarily for those who have finished, or need to improve, their current landing page.

  • Once you have finished your sales page, take a break. Walk around reading it out load viewing on your tablet. You will be able to pick up many errors this way.
  • Add a urgent call to action to your landing page, such as a special price or the product only being available for a period of time. Make sure this is genuine though.
  • Test your landing page. Does it load quickly? Work on mobile? Work with images off?

Need more ideas? Check out 101 Landing Page Optimization Tips from Unbounce

Working with brands:

  • Make a list of the brands you like to work with.
  • Look at the list of brands that you like. What are their social media channels?
  • Think about ways you can naturally include them in social media conversations to get on their radar.
  • Research the names of brand managers. They are the people you should be talking to
  • Look at your media kit. Does it need to be updated? If so, do it

If you’re interested in attending the ProBlogger Training Event for 2016, you can register your details here.

ProBlogger Podcast 39: What is Your Why?

Blogging: What is Your Why?

The previous episode of the ProBlogger podcast asked you a very simple question that I think is the basis of all that we do: “how are you?”. How are you physically, emotionally, with your health? Are you blogging from a solid foundation of wellness? Are you taking care of your personal needs?

I shared a very personal story about what happened when I realised I wasn’t doing that any more – and the steps I took to get back on track. Once I re-cemented my foundation of wellness, it had a noticeable impact on my blogs.

Wellness is usually considered to encompass diet, exercise, rest, relationships, spirituality, but also purpose. Having a purpose impacts positively every aspect of your life and health, and it even helps increase productivity – and this is all going to impact your blog.

When my blogs have been firing on all cylinders, it usually correlates with those times in my life when I’m really working from the core of my “why” – my purpose.

Over the years, sometimes your purpose gets a little lost by the wayside. You get distracted from your why. Sometimes the blog runs away on its own and you feel as though in the machine of content creation, internet marketing, fulfilling reader expectations, and you get further and further away from the nucleus of what you wanted to create, why you started blogging in the first place.

In today’s episode, I talk about why you need to drill down and encapsulate your “why”, and how it then impacts your what and your how. How reconnecting with your why can help guide you back to a positive frame of mind about blogging when the inevitable blog slump or burnout happens. How it can raise your productivity and how you can harness it for successful blogging.

I talk about what happened earlier this year when I realised I needed to shut down a profitable part of my business, and how it ultimately set me on the right path, although it isn’t an easy decision to turn off a successful income stream. But it wasn’t furthering me on the path of my why, and I knew that I could be more useful elsewhere (and I discuss what I did instead that has been even more successful than I hoped!).

Click here to listen to episode 39 of the ProBlogger Podcast: What is Your Why?, read the show notes and leave a comment about what you think your why might be.

Further Reading:

The Biggest Lesson I Learned About Building a Profitable Blog in 2015

healthy-person-woman-sport-medium

Episode 38 of the ProBlogger podcast is focused on something I’ve learned in the course of the past year that I think has the potential to transform not only your blogging, but many areas of your life.

Today’s episode is personal – my personal journey of the last nine months. I talked about it at the ProBlogger event a few weeks ago now in my opening keynote – an unexpected topic perhaps, but one that I think is so useful as the foundation of everything, including building a profitable blog.

The question I want to ask you today is the question we get asked all the time: “how are you?”. Not your blog, not your business, but you?

Not just answering “good”, or “busy”, but finding out how are you really? Don’t gloss over the question – really ponder the answer.

The biggest lesson in blogging I’ve learned this year, is that if I want my blog to shine, I need to move beyond the minutiae of monetising, finding readers, creating content – I need to work on making myself shine. The wellbeing of my blogs is directly linked to the wellbeing of me, and I had been letting myself go.

Late last year I went to the doctor for my annual health checkup, and what he told me changed the trajectory of not only my life, but my blogs as well. He gave me a list of things to work on to get my health back up to speed – a whole list. It was stuff I already knew but had never really done anything about. Seeing it there, in list form, was confronting.

I left that doctor’s office feeling pretty low. I didn’t sleep well that night, as I thought about all the things I needed to change in my life. I even pondered the stuff that the doctor didn’t know, but that I knew was an issue.

The story I want to tell you today is how that day was a pivot point for me, and how putting my health and wellbeing first has made such an impact on my blogs and my work ever since.

I hope it inspires you to examine the parts of your life that need changing, to inspire you to take your health seriously and to stop forgetting to exercise, forgetting to eat well, forgetting to get your priorities in order as we churn on through the hamster wheel of work. I hope it helps you set a solid foundation from which your blogs and online endeavours can grow.

Click here to listen to episode 38 of the ProBlogger Podcast: The Biggest Lesson I Learned About Building a Profitable Blog in 2015.

I’d also love to hear your feedback on today’s episode, either here or at ProBlogger.com, and your answer to the question: “how are you?”.

Further Reading:

Grow Traffic to Your Blog Through Guest Posting and Creating Content for Other Blogs, Forums, Media and Events

Grow Traffic to Your Blog Through Guest Posting and Creating Content for Other Blogs, Forums, Media and Events on ProBlogger (the podcast)

Today’s episode is the fifth in this series we’ve been exploring on the ProBlogger Podcast about finding readers.

To get you up to speed, you can find the first four here:

So once you’ve started creating great content, and you’ve found your readers where they’re already hanging out, you can take the next step: creating content or guest posting for other, larger sites to help build your profile and drive traffic.

One of the best ways that you can showcase the kind of value that you’re able to deliver to people on your blog is to create that kind of content for other destinations on the web. But of course, the first thing you need to discern is what we discuss in episode 33: who are you trying to reach? And where are they? That will help you determine who to guest post for, or where to have your content published.

In this episode I will help you find where your ideal readers are, and also what kinds of content you could create to best show your skill and style in places other than your blog. In future episodes, we’ll drill down into each of the strategies I suggest, but for today it’s great to get an overview of how and where you can expand your reach.

Your goal should be to create your best content for these channels you choose in order to demonstrate credibility and authority and that you provide high value in all places, including your own blog.

We discuss:

  • How to add value
  • Building a portfolio of this valuable content elsewhere
  • Pitching ideas
  • What makes it more likely that you’ll be accepted
  • How to promote that content to your own networks
  • Multiple pitches
  • Short term burst strategy, featuring on more than one place at once
  • How to drive traffic without being spammy

So head over to ProBlogger.com for episode 37: Grow Traffic to Your Blog Through Guest Posting and Creating Content for Other Blogs, Forums, Media and Events, show notes, and to leave a comment, or a review.

Further Reading

Find Readers for Your Blog Through Commenting and Relationships

Find Readers for Your Blog Through Commenting and Relationships on ProBlogger.net

In the last episode of the ProBlogger podcast we talked about how to build a sticky blog to keep readers on your site. Today, we’re going to talk about how to find them in the first place by building community, strengthening relationships, and commenting on other blogs.

It’s important that not only you build great content that hooks the reader in, makes them want to read more, and makes them want to share it, but it’s also important to find readers for that content.

Before we get started on today’s episode, I want you to recall what we discussed in episode 29 about identifying where online your ideal readers are. It’s all very well and good to promote your content, but what if you’re promoting it to the wrong people? So if you did the exercises in that episode, you should have a list of places your ideal reader is hanging out: blogs, forums, social networks, who they’re following, the podcasts they listen to, etc – this will be the basis of where you will look for places to be useful and build your profile.

Today I want to focus on two things: prolific usefulness through commenting, and networking/relational growth.

The first idea, prolific commenting, is definitely a low-level strategy that won’t bring heaps of traffic, but it will help you gain confidence and get the lay of the land. It’s also useful for getting your name out there, as people begin to see it and remember you. I talk about this strategy more in episodes 9 and 20, but it’s a really good place to start. I do give extra tips in today’s episode about how to do this well on Twitter and even in YouTube comments.

The second strategy revolves around strategic networking and building relationships with others in your niche that can help to grow your profile. There are quite a few ways to do this, from informal online networking to pitching influencers, and I list the options available to you, and the best ways of making them work.

To listen to today’s episode and to view the show notes, head to ProBlogger Podcast Episode 36 Find Readers for Your Blog Through Commenting and Relationships

Further Reading

 

ProBlogger Podcast: Turn Blog Surfers into Loyal Readers by Building a Sticky Blog

How to get blog readers to keep coming back for more: ProBlogger.net

When someone lands on your blog for the first time, you want them to stay as long as possible.

In he last two ProBlogger Podcast episodes, I’ve shared some tactics for finding readers by first asking yourselves some really important questions, and by discussing two types of content that you need. In today’s episode, I talk about how you keep those readers there by building a sticky blog. What I mean by that is having your blog set up so there is something that motivates readers to explore it further, making the decision to return and keep connected in some way, which I think is a fundamental component of any successful blog.

I always say it’s much better to find a new reader and hook them into becoming a regular than it is to have to find fresh readers every day. This is really how readership grows over time.

In the podcast, I discuss the ways you can make your blog completely irresistible to first-time viewers. From first impressions to subscription options, I go through all the things I believe a blog needs in order to be sticky. How can you build anticipation? What kind of content works for recurrent traffic? How can you drive interaction from your audience? What are their incentives to stick around?

Click here to listen to the episode 35 of the ProBlogger Podcast and view the show notes, and as always, I’d love to get your feedback on this episode.

Further Reading

ProBlogger Podcast: Two Types of Content to Help You Find Readers for Your Blog

ProBlogger Podcast: Two Types of Content to Help You Find Readers for Your Blog

Today’s episode of the ProBlogger Podcast is part two of a mini Finding Readers series (you can find out more about part one here in the Two Questions to Ask to Help You Find Readers for Your Blog), and it’s all about what you’re writing when it comes to getting traffic.

After you’ve asked yourself those two very important questions in the previous podcast, you can move on to fulfilling that brief on your blog with today’s.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about the journey I’ve taken in blogging, and as I look back I can see that the strategies and techniques I used to drive traffic weren’t as important as the content on my blog. I’ll talk about what I mean in a few episodes’ time (as you may find those techniques useful yourself), but today it’s all about what you’re serving to your readers.

In this episode I go over the two things I think you should provide to your community which will both help you grow that community and find new readers, and also keep the current ones sticking around. It’s really important, particularly if you are at the start of your blogging journey. I would recommend that if that is you, that you focus on today’s topic 100%, before you worry about anything else. It’s real foundation stuff that will not only help you now, but will reap you the benefits in years to come.

As always you can find the podcast at ProBlogger.com/podcast, and today’s episode and show notes here.

I’d love to hear your feedback on this topic, so feel free to chat here or in the comments on the show notes.

Further Reading

How to Build Your Blog’s Audience with Long Form Evergreen Content
Top Takeaways from ProBlogger Perth Training Event: Content, Blog Design, Social Media, Productivity, and Monetization
Most Popular Posts on ProBlogger 2014: Creating Content
The Nine Ingredients that Make Great Content: Kissmetrics
How to Write a Blog Post –  Your Five-Point Checklist to Rock a Perfect Blog Post: CoSchedule

ProBlogger Podcast: Two Questions to Ask to Help You Find Readers for Your Blog

2 Questions to Ask to Help You Find Readers for Your Blog

In today’s episode of the ProBlogger podcast, I want to dial back to the basics before we get into more strategic reader-finding missions in future epsiodes.

Today I just want you to ask yourself two simple questions that will get you in the right headspace for further efforts.

I also talk about how I damaged my blog by focusing only on traffic and not on community, the secret ingredients of blogs that can change people’s lives, and my favourite exercised to help you focus on the right reader, not just numbers on a screen.

I promise, it makes all the difference in the world.

Pop over to listen, grab the show notes, and complete today’s challenge. Good luck!

 

Further Reading

Finding Readers: Strategies for Building Your Audience in 2015
Top Three Takeaways from Finding Readers Week: What Can You Do Today to Create Community?
Recording of ‘Finding Readers for Your Blog’ Webinar
Who are You Talking To? How to Create an Ideal Reader Profile for Your Blog: By Regina
Who’s Your Ideal Reader?: Successful Blogging

ProBlogger Podcast: Can You Really Make Money Blogging?

Money text on euro bills by Dani Rönneberg on 500px

photo credit

Ah yes – this old chestnut. Can bloggers really make money blogging?

It’s a subject I find myself talking about a lot, and it’s often the most popular question I get asked. Last year we did a theme week on ProBlogger.net on that exact topic, where every day we took a look into popular ways to monetize (links are below).

In today’s ProBlogger Podcast episode, we crack this chestnut wide open. It’s the first episode that isn’t in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Challenge, although they’re all still there (and on iTunes) if you’d like return to them, or to begin the challenge for yourself.

We’re kicking off our twice-weekly downloads with the hottest topics, and making money is right on the top of that list.

In this episode I talk about the ways I make money from blogging, and give examples of others doing the same. I also bust a few myths around the subject – namely that it’s the majority making the big bucks online. I think it’s important to cut through the hype and give you realistic advice that will be useful to you. I also discuss what kinds of niches make money, how long it can take, and the four things profitable blogs are generally built upon.

So head on over to Problogger.com or iTunes to listen to today’s Episode 32: Can You Really Make Money Blogging?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Further Reading