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Theme Week: How to Socialize Your Posts for Maximum Effect

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Image via Flickr User Kris Olin.

Today as part of our exploration of things to do after you’ve hit publish on blog posts, I want us to take a look at the topic of ‘socializing’ our content.

Most bloggers have at least some kind of strategy in place when it comes to sharing our blog posts on social media, but it is an area that most of us also know we could improve upon.

I for one know that even after 12 months of a real concerted effort with developing a social media strategy for Digital Photography School, that there are areas I could drastically improve upon!

So today I challenge you (and me) to spend a little time doing a critical review of your approach to sharing content on social media and to choose 1-2 areas that you could improve.

Note: this post will not present a complete social strategy. Social media is useful for many things (including engaging readers, building profile, networking with others in your niche), but today we’re just focusing upon the topic of sharing/promoting the new blog posts we write.

The two main areas that I would suggest you review when it comes to thinking about socialising of your blog’s content are:

  • which social networks?
  • developing a rhythm of sharing

Which Social Networks?

The choice before us as bloggers as to which social networks to engage in can feel a little overwhelming. As a result I see bloggers falling into numerous traps.

Some feel so overwhelmed that they opt out altogether and don’t engage in any social media.

Others feel the need to engage in every social network and end up either burning themselves out or engaging so much on social that their blogging suffers.

Others still engage widely on lots of social media sites but spread themselves so thin that they don’t do it very well.

There’s no blueprint or formula for choosing which social media to engage in but a few questions come to mind to help you make this decision:

1. How much Time do you Have?

If you’re time-poor, choose one network to focus on primarily, but secure accounts for other networks so that if/when you do want to engage on them you’re ready to go.

If you do choose one network to engage on primarily you might also want to consider more automated sharing of your content on the other networks. For example if you choose Facebook as your primary social network, you could set up an RSS to Twitter tool that automatically tweets links to new posts on your Twitter account any time you publish.

While these automated tools don’t help you build relationships with Twitter followers, they at least get your content out there and you will find some followers appreciate them.

Example: Seth Godin’s Twitter Account is perhaps the best example of this. He follows nobody and every tweet he does is simply an update from his blog. While not engaging, every update is retweeted many times and his account is followed by over 376,000 people. Seth’s Facebook page does the same thing.

This is exactly what I did on the dPS Twitter account for more than two years before I started using that Twitter account in a more strategic way. While I knew I could use the account better, by doing the automated Tweets I did drive traffic and actually saw our Twitter numbers increase so that when I stated to use the account more intentionally, we already had a network.

If you have more time on your hands, you can of course choose to engage in more social networks. Just don’t overcommit and end up spreading yourself too thin!

2. What Social Networks are Relevant to Your Readers?

Get 10 successful bloggers from different niches in a room and ask them which social networks are best for driving traffic to their blogs, and you’ll get a different answer from each one as to where their readers hang out in greatest numbers.

My own two blogs are quite different. For ProBlogger I find most of my readers are engaging most on Twitter. Facebook would be second, followed by Google+ and then LinkedIn.

On Digital Photography School, Facebook is king. Twitter and Google+ would be numbers two and three, and Pinterest would also be close.

This of course changes over time as new networks emerge, so keep assessing it and find ways to find out where your readers hang out (I run annual surveys on my blogs to get this data).

3. What Social Networks are Relevant to Your Content

In addition to assessing where your readers hang out, think about the type of content you produce because it may be more suited to one network than others.

For example, on Digital Photography School our content is very visual. While most social networks these days allow you to share visual content, each network is slightly different in how you can present it.

For example, Twitter limits how much you can write (140 characters), Facebook lets you write more and present multiple images in an update, Google+ allows you to write as much as you want and embeds video and images nicely. Pinterest is obviously great for visual content.

4. Where are Your Competitors?

I’m not a big fan of looking at other bloggers as ‘competitors’ (learning to see other bloggers as potential allies is a powerful thing) but doing some analysis of what others are doing is useful in making decisions.

Firstly it can help you work out where your potential readers are if you see all other bloggers in your niche doing well in one particular network) but also you might find a gap where no other bloggers are doing anything which could present an opportunity.

While a lack of presence in a network by other bloggers might be a signal of it being a place where there’s no traction you might find doing some experiments with the network worthwhile too!

Other Factors?

Lots more could be said about choosing which network to engage in. I’d love to hear how you made the decision below.

Here’s a cool little info graphic from Leverage Media with a good breakdown of some of the main different networks and their advantages:

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Develop a Rhythm of Sharing

Once you’ve done some analysis on which networks to build a presence on, the question becomes HOW to share content on those networks.

One of the things that I’d highly recommend you ponder when it comes to this is to think about developing a rhythm to your sharing.

Let me illustrate the power of rhythm with a snippet from an email from one of my readers at dPS that I received a few weeks back. The email came in on a day I’d been sick and had missed scheduling a couple of status updates to Facebook.

“Dear dPS team. I just wanted to check if everything was ok with you? I noticed that your 6am and 11am Facebook updates didn’t go out today. I miss them! – Susan”

That email made me so happy and illustrated to me the power of developing a rhythm to social media updates. Not only had Susan noticed I’d not made a couple of updates, she’d actually noticed that I published updates at the same time every day – something I thought only I’d noticed!

Over the last year I’ve slowly developed a rhythm of posting to the dPS Facebook page (I wrote a little about it here). I usually post five times a day to our page and have assigned times to when I want each post to go live. The reason I came up with the times was to help me space out my posts during the times that most of my readers are online – but also to help me be more disciplined with posting.

I’d never have guessed that my readers would begin to notice when we updated – and that some would even be looking out for those updates at those times!

While I’m sure most of our readers don’t notice the exact timing of our updates they do notice if we go missing for a day or if we post too much in a 24-hour period. Regularity and rhythm are a powerful thing.

So what rhythm will you develop to your social media sharing of your content?

For me it is quite different from social media network to network. While Facebook is five times a day, I try to hit a higher rate of sharing on the dPS Twitter account (I’m aiming for 10-15 posts a day there). On our Pinterest account, Jade (our Pinterest magician) aims for around 12-15 pins per day – scattered through the day.

Of course not all of our Pins, tweets and updates are sharing of our new content – we ask questions, share other people’s posts as well as resharing some of the content in our archives – but developing a rhythm is important.

Of course the other thing to consider within this rhythm is how often you’ll share the same piece of content?

Different bloggers have quite different approaches to this.

I recently shared this Kissmetrics graphic that suggests a starting point for social sharing of the same piece of content.

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My own approach is less aggressive than this as I rarely reshare anything on social more than once within even a week or so – unless it is a post that is going very well for some reason. Having said this, at dPS we publish 14 posts per week, so there’s always something fresh to share and with over 4500 posts in the archives there is no shortage of good evergreen content to share on any given day alongside our new stuff.

There is no right or wrong answer to how often you can share content on social media but do keep in mind these two factors:

  1. each social network is different – for example on Twitter you can probably get away with sharing the same content more times as tweets don’t have as long a life as on other networks.
  2. pay attention to the reaction of your audience to your updates – there does come a point where those who follow you will begin to disengage with you if you share the same stuff over and over. Sometimes they’ll tell you if you’re sharing too much but most times I suspect they simply stop following you or at least become a little blind to your updates. Tread carefully!

If you do decide to share the same piece of content multiple times try to mix up the messaging of your sharing.

Again from the same Kissmetrics post mentioned above comes this great graphic to illustrate 5 different ways of sharing the same content on Twitter:

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I’d add to that list that sometimes sharing a visual from a post can be a good way to share a post too. Here’s one I did recently which incorporates a question and visual:

Dan Zarella has found that tweets with images are 60% more likely to be retweeted (we definitely see this on dPS, in fact last time I looked it was 100-200% more likely). The same is true on other social networks – images are powerful!

Of course the other thing to do when you’re resharing the same piece of content is to mix up the timings of your updates. If you first tweet a piece of content at 9am – at least wait a few hours to reshare it so that others in different parts of the world are likely to be online. The same thing applies to other networks (although I’d wait longer than a few hours to reshare on networks like Facebook or Google+).

Also consider avoiding sharing during those times of the day that are particularly ‘noisy’. Sometimes sharing during times that you’d think your audience isn’t online is actually best. Dan Zarrella calls this ‘contra-competitive timing’ and has some great data on the topic here.

There are so many factors to consider when writing posts, but hitting “publish” shouldn’t signal the time to stop thinking about them. Where can they go, and how can you promote them for maximum results? I hope these tips and the ones we will introduce across the week will help you shape the best social strategy for your situation.

Theme Week: 5 Things to Do With Your Blog Posts After You’ve Hit Publish

FINDING READERS

This week on ProBlogger we’re starting a new theme week that examines five different things to do when you’ve finished writing a blog post (other than hitting publish).

If you’re anything like me – you put a lot of time into the writing of blog posts. You ponder the topic, pour your heart and soul into writing, obsess over choosing the right headline, put a lot of effort into polishing the post up to look its best, and read and reread it many times over to make sure everything is just right.

But what happens next?

For many of us the next logical step is to hit publish… and to start work on the next blog post.

While turning your mind to your next post comes naturally, this week we’d like to suggest five things bloggers can do after hitting publish to make sure that the posts we put time and effort into creating have the maximum impact.

Without these ‘next steps’, your posts could go largely unread – or at the very least not live up to their full potential in helping you to reach your blogging goals.

Each day this week we’ll present a ‘next step’ so keep tuning in! We’ll also update this page with links to each step – so make sure you bookmark this page and keep checking back.

Day 1: Socialise Your post for Maximum Effect
Day 2: Publish Your Blog Post Without SEO, and 1000s of Visits Will Be Forever Lost
Day 3: How to Repurpose Your Content and Why You Should Do It
Day 4: How to Keep Readers on Your Blog
Day 5: How to Extend Your Ideas with Future Blog Posts
Day 6: Which Tip Will You Put into Practice?

Get Your Tickets to the ProBlogger Academy in Portland Oregon: Thursday 10 July

I’m really excited today to announce that alongside Chris Garrett (who co-authored the ProBlogger hard cover book and who now works as the Chief Digital Officer at CopyBlogger) I’ll be running a ProBlogger day of training in Portland Oregon on Thursday 10 July.

Darren rowse chris garrett

The day will be called the ProBlogger Academy and it’s being run as part of Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit.

This will be the only US based teaching that I’ll be doing in 2014 and a rare chance to get Chris and I in the same room at the same time!

Tickets are limited and given their price they could go quickly. If you’re a WDS attendee they are just $29 USD and if you’re not a WDS ticket holder they’re still a bargain at $49 USD!

I know I’ll get asked about the low pricing on this. No it’s not so that we can get you in the door to sell you something – the price is low for two reasons:

  1. we wanted to make this as accessible for as many people as possible
  2. we’re doing this as a part of the larger WDS event and they’re a not for profit organisation

Chris and I are involved simply because we love what WDS does and we want to give a little something back. PLUS we also get asked to do events in the US a lot so this seemed like a pretty good time/place to do it as we know a lot of ProBlogger readers will be at WDS.

Grab your tickets here

The day runs from 9am-4pm (although we’ll stop for breaks along the way) and we hope to have a couple of special guests along to be involved in the teaching.

We’ll cover our main 4 ‘pillars’ of blogging:

  • Creating Killer Content
  • Finding Readers
  • Building Community
  • Monetization

We’ll cover the above with lots of practical teaching and if previous times Chris and I have gotten together are anything to go by you’ll come home with a head full of ideas. There will be plenty of time to explore other topics as we always include opportunity for Q&A.

Tickets are limited so please don’t delay if you’re thinking of coming and head to this Eventbrite page to grab yours.

10 Quick Tips for Entrepreneurial Bloggers

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

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

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

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

Which do you agree or disagree most?

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

Pushing Through Barriers to Strike Gold

Image via Flickr user Tony Oliver

Image via Flickr user Tony Oliver

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

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

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

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

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

But the brothers Cavanagh had a hunch.

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

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

The work was hard and unrewarding.

They dug and found nothing but more clay.

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

All day they dug.

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

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

But the brothers had a belief and kept their focus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reflections on the Cavanagh Brothers’ Experience

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

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

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

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

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

Sometimes Success Comes Through Digging in Hard Places

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Convince Someone to Be Interviewed on Your Blog

NewImageThis question was submitted recently via the ProBlogger Facebook page.

How do I get an established blogger like yourself to do an interview with me? or How can I get an established blogger like yourself to do a guest post for me on my blog? – from Sandra Tillman

Good questions. I think you’re much more likely to get a popular blogger to do an interview with you than to write a guest post for you.

I can only speak for myself really but writing a guest post for someone else’s blog is low on my list of priorities when I already have a blog to create content for.

The exception might be if I had something I was launching or wanted to get some attention for – but even then unless your blog has a sizeable audience and/or and audience that is right on target for the type of reader I want to reach – I’m not likely to take you up on that offer.

It’s simply that there’s just not the time in the day to offer that.

An interview on the other hand may be more achievable – particularly if you make it easy for the blogger you’re approaching to do.

It might be hard to get a full-on interview with a popular blogger unless you have a big audience, profile, or some way in with them, but you might pull it if if you’re willing to make it short and easy to complete.

In my own early days when I didn’t have much profile I used to do it by doing ‘one question interviews’. I would send the blogger a single question and ask them to write something in response – big or small.

Sometimes they’d send back a paragraph or two, other times it might only be a sentence. I’d often ask 3-4 bloggers the same single question and then put their responses together to create a longer post.

The beauty of doing this kind of approach is that you’re able to make it easy for the blogger to do but you also get a little benefit from having them on your blog (which makes it easier to get the next interview).

Keep in mind though that many bloggers get a lot of interview requests. I’m not the biggest blogger going around, but on a typical day I get asked to be interviewed 2-3 times. Couple this with requests to write articles, be in Twitter chats, appear in webinars, be interviewed by media, and the top bloggers must be getting approached many many times a day!

5 quick tips on how I’d go about approaching bloggers for an interview:

1. Introduce yourself

Be personal, quickly introduce yourself, and explain why you’d like to interview the blogger. As you do so, think about the benefits not only to you but also to your readers and to the blogger. For example – do you have a relevant audience to them?

2. Outline how the interview will be used

If you’re planning on using the interview in some way that people have to pay for then say this up front. I’ve had a number of people ask me for interviews that I’ve later found out were used in books, behind paywalls, or as incentives to sign up for newsletters.

While I am not against using interviews in this way, you’ll want to be clear about your intentions with the person you’re approaching.

3. Outline how you’ll conduct the interview

Tell the person how you want to conduct the interview and how much time they’d need to dedicate. If it is a written interview via email tell them how many questions. If it’s a recorded audio/video interview tell them how long it’ll take and what technology you’d like to use.

4. show you know them and make it relevant

Before you approach someone do a little research into who they are and what they do. Showing them this in some way by making your approach personal will show them that you’re not just copying and pasting interview requests into emails. It’ll show them that you’re going to some effort rather than just wanting them to essentially create content for you.

5. Followup

If the person agrees and you do interview them, make sure you use it! I’ve had times where I’ve put aside considerable time to respond to questions for interviews and then never seen the content used in any way – frustrating!!!

When you do publish it – shoot the blogger a note of thanks with the link. You might even find that they share it to their network!

One Last Tip

Big bloggers may not be the best starting place – in fact, they may not be the best interviewee at all.

I say this for two reasons:

1. if you’re new, it’s hard to land a popular blogger. You might have more luck landing a small- to medium-sized blogger. Once you’ve done a few of these you then have something of a portfolio to be able to show others that you approach later (this might help you land the big interview).

2. the other reason you might want to approach smaller bloggers is that they might just make a more interesting interview subject. Everyone’s heard the big blogger’s story in countless other interviews, so why not try to unearth something fresh and new from someone that is up and coming?

What Would You Add?

Have you ever landed a big interview for your blog? How did it happen for you? What tips would you give?

Announcing the New Sticky Top Bar Plugin: A ProBlogger WordPress Plugin

A couple of weeks ago we launched the new ProBlogger.com – a private membership site that not only has a community/forum area for bloggers to network, collaborate and learn but one which provides members with regular webinars as well as exclusive access to some tools that my team have been developing for my blogs.

Recently we released our Infinite Scroll Word Press Plugin, and then we released a Sticky Top Bar Messenger plugin.

You can see this plugin in operation here on ProBlogger but also on my site at Digital Photography School (on dPS we don’t have it showing on the front page – so you’ll need to look at single posts like this one).

On dPS it is currently driving the blue bar at the top of the site that has a button linking to our latest portrait posing eBook. It looks like this when he page loads.

10 Photography Hacks that will Dramatically Improve Your Photos 10

As you scroll down the page it sticks to the top of the post.

Here on ProBlogger when you load a page you’ll see sticking at the top is a bar that currently invites readers to subscribe to our email newsletter like this:

3 Important Questions To Ask About Posts in Your Blog Archives ProBlogger 13

The difference with the sticky bar on ProBlogger is that after a while the bar changes to a grey one that calls readers to join the new ProBlogger.com community.

3 Important Questions To Ask About Posts in Your Blog Archives ProBlogger 3

These two sticky bars rotate on a timed basis.

I asked my developer team to work on this plugin almost a year ago now as a result of wanting more flexibility than I could get from other such plugins that are available.

Ours has been designed so that you can

  • change the colours of everything (background, text, buttons). If you set up multiple bars to rotate each bar can look completely different to draw attention to the rotations.
  • add in multiple rotating messages and set your own time delays (so you can show different calls to action set to show after a reader has been reading a post for a certain amount of time). You can set up unlimited messages to rotate through.
  • add in your own custom HTML, including email forms and even images
  • show specific bar messages on specific pages on your blog (so you could set many different calls to action for different landing pages on the site)

Note: our developer team is already taking this plugin to the next level based upon ProBlogger.com member feedback. You can bet it’ll continue to be improved to add even more functionality and flexibility.

The applications for these sticky bars are endless. We’re currently using them to drive people to sales pages and sign up subscribers (when we added the call to action (CTA) to subscribe here on ProBlogger our subscribers went up 25%) but you could use them for many purposes.

For example you could include CTA’s for people to view some of your most popular posts, you could drive people to follow you on Twitter, Facebook etc), you could call people to vote in a poll or take a survey, you could use it to drive people to a forum area, you could use it to call for guest posts, you could share site news, you could use it to help show social proof… the possibilities are endless.

We’ve also designed the bars that show so that they are mobile friendly (so it’ll work with your responsive blog design if you have one). You can even show shorter messages in your bar to those viewing on mobile.

Readers have the option to minimise the bar if they don’t wish to keep seeing it using the arrow on the right of the bar:

Banners and Alerts and 3 Important Questions To Ask About Posts in Your Blog Archives ProBlogger

Lastly – our bar is also unbranded (many others as you to upgrade to remove the logo of the developer company) and very importantly to me this is all hosted on your own site so you’re not dependant upon a third party service being working for your bar to work). You control everything from within WordPress so you never have to go to another site to set it up.

Get Access To This New Plugin Today

This bar is available for all ProBlogger.com community members to download and use for free with your membership. Signup today to get access to this plugin plus all the other benefits of the new ProBlogger.com (including more plugins that we’re getting ready to release). Don’t forget you can currently sign up for the Early Bird price of $17 per month (you’re locked in at this discounted price forever) – however this discount ends in the coming weeks so don’t miss out.

Here’s a video from Shayne that shows you a little more of what the bar can do and how you can install it if you’re a ProBlogger.com member.

I’m really excited about releasing this plugin and can’t wait to see how members use it!

My Top 5 Mistakes as a Blogger

w__darrenrowse-_66.jpgOver in the ProBlogger.com forum last week, I issued members with a challenge to complete this week on their blogs. The challenge was simple – to write a ‘top 5’ post on any topic they wanted.

This is my own contribution to the challenge!

My Top 5 Mistakes as a Blogger

I’ve been blogging 11 and a half years now, and while I pinch myself everyday at where blogging has taken me, that time has been littered with mistakes and failures along the way.

While we often talk about the good times here on ProBlogger, today I thought I’d share 5 mistakes I made (or to put a more positive spin on it… 5 lessons I learned the hard way).

1. Choosing Profit over Passion

My first blog was a personal blog and an extension of who I was. I only wrote about what I was interested in and profit was not on the radar as nobody made money blogging back then.

My second blog was an extension of my first, and a blog on a topic that I was interested in (cameras/photography) – but which also became profitable.

After I saw that my second blog started to make money I began to dream about ‘going pro’ as a blogger. One of the routes I saw I could take to achieve this dream was to start more blogs.

I thought if my camera/photography blog could make money, then I could replicate the model with other niches and topics. At the time, I took two approaches in researching what topics to create these new blogs on:

  1. Popular topics which could potentially attract a lot of traffic
  2. High-value topics – which I could earn good money on through AdSense (some niches of ads were paying higher rates than others)

I started 30 blogs in that next year, and each fit into one of the above categories.

For example in category one was a blog which I started with a friend on the Athens Olympic Games. We knew there’d be a heap of people searching for information on the topic (particularly people wanting the results of events), so we created a blog with hundreds of posts on every single event in the games. We had all these posts live and indexed by Google weeks before the games happened so that when each event happened and people typed in ‘event name gold medal’ or ‘event name results’, we’d come up.

As each event happened we added the results to the event.

Fitting into the second category (profitable high value topics) was a blog I started on ‘printers’. My research revealed at the time that some of the highest paying ads going around were for print cartridges. So I started a blog on the topic of printers. I reviewed printers and I posted about new ones on the market.

I had absolutely no interest in the topic of printers – and it showed in my content.

Both of the above blogs made money but neither were topics I was particularly passionate about (although the Olympics is something I have an interest in the content we were producing wasn’t that stimulating to create).

I got away with the Olympics one because it was a short-term project and it was quite a buzz to do on some levels, however the discovery I made about almost all of the other blogs I created in that period was that it was both mind-numbing and spirit-sucking work to sustain a blog on topics you had no interest in at all.

That year almost ended my blogging dreams because while I made enough money to call it a full time job – it left me very uninspired.

Luckily at this time I also started ProBlogger – a blog I’m passionate about – and later started Digital Photography School and found that it was a heap more enjoyable to create blogs that you actually enjoyed writing for. I abandoned the other blogs soon after and a weight was lifted from my shoulders!

2. Being Slow to….

I’m going to roll a number of regrets and mistakes into one here and put them all under the ‘being too slow’ banner.

I’m not a fast-paced person. It takes me a while to make decisions and to jump into new things. I watched everyone else jump into Twitter for six months before I did. The same happened with Facebook, the same with investing time into starting an email newsletter.

While I did jump on some thing pretty quickly (like blogging itself – which I started doing two hours after reading my first blog), I sometimes wonder where I’d be if I’d acted faster in some areas, particularly at adopting new technologies.

On the flip side of this though is that I feel like by being a little ‘slow’ I probably jumped in with more information and having watched what others were doing – which hopefully meant I started things ‘right’ from the start.

3. The Wrong Domains

I’ve made almost every mistake you can with domains. For starters I didn’t get my own domain when I began, later I got an Aussie domain for a blog with a global audience, then I got a .net domain instead of a .com, then I ran a whole heap of different topic blogs on the one domain and then I got a domain with hyphens! I wrote more about all these mistakes (and more here!)

4. Business Regrets

A number of years ago I started blogging network by the name of b5media with three other bloggers. While the experience was amazing on many levels and I learned SO much, I have many regrets about some aspects of the experience also.

I won’t rehash them all but if I could go into that business venture again I’d have spent more time at the beginning as a partnership working out goals, expectations, roles and thinking about the model. I’d probably have wanted to ‘meet’ my partners before starting the business too :-)

I’d also have avoided going down the path of giving up equity in the business in order to take on capital. My experience with venture capital was not overly positive. While it does enable you to grow and expand – it means less control. In my case it meant I ended up with nothing at all after several years of work. It works for some, but I’d avoid it in future.

I learned a lot from that business and bear no grudge to any of my partners in it, but wouldn’t do it the same way again!

5. Trying to Do it All Myself

It’s only really been the last three or so years that I’ve begun to develop a team of people to help me run my businesses.

The 3-4 years preceding bringing on team members almost killed me. I stretched myself way too thin and it impacted my health, relationships, and the business itself.

While expanding the team means changing my role (which brings challenges), it also has led to many new opportunities and a lot more enjoyment! The business has grown as a result and I hope has helped me provide a better experience for those whom I serve also.

What Are Your Biggest Blogging Mistakes?

There you have it – my biggest mistakes as a blogger (note: I didn’t say my ‘only’ mistakes). I’ve shown you mine… how about telling us some of yours?

Creating Product Week: How to Create and Sell Products On Your Blog

Theme Week (1)Welcome our ‘Creating and Selling Products’ Week – a week of content here on ProBlogger completely dedicated to helping you to create and launch profitable products on your blog.

Over the past few months we’ve done a number of theme based weeks that take a more intense dive into topics relevant to bloggers. Most recently we’ve had Beginner Week, and Content Week, but this week we wanted to turn our attention to monetization – specifically through creating and selling products.

My Journey With Creating Products (and why this week is important)

While I’ve been blogging for just short of 12 years, my own journey with creating products to help monetize my blogs only goes back five years since launching the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog eBook and creating my first Portraits eBook on dPS.

Before that time I had collaborated with someone on a product but never monetized my blogs with one a product of my own.

Previous to these first experimentations with eBooks, the income generated from my blogs was almost all from advertising revenue (from ad networks like AdSense and also a few ad sales direct with brands) and affiliate revenue (like Amazon and a few smaller programs). I also did a little speaking, consulting and had written a hard cover book.

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In 2007 I was making a comfortable living from the above income streams but was a little worried about the economy and relying so heavily upon advertising income (which comprised more than 80% of what I was making).

I also had been watching the growth in popularity of eBooks and had for a year or so been dreaming of creating one myself.

My big issue was a severe lack of time. Between juggling two growing blogs and a growing family (we had just had our first child), I wasn’t sure how I’d ever write an eBook. I also had a long long list of other excuses to put it off.

I’d never written, designed, marketed a product of my own before… I didn’t have a shopping cart system… I didn’t know if my readers would buy…

In short – the dream of creating and selling an eBook of my own stayed in my head for two years until 2009. Ironically by that point I’d become even busier (we’d just had our second son and my blogs had continued to grow) but I knew if I didn’t bite the bullet and do it that I never would.

In 2009 I created my first eBooks – 31 Days to Build a Better Blog (which I’ve since updated into it’s second edition). That eBook generated $80,772.01 in 2009.

Later in the year I created and launched my first Portrait eBook over at dPS. That eBook generated $87,088.21 in sales in 2009.

As I regularly say when speaking at conferences about this experience – on the launch of these eBooks I was obviously very excited but also couldn’t believe how I’d put off creating this new income stream on my blogs for two years!

While obviously these two eBooks were financially profitable that immediate monetary reward wasn’t the best part – what was most valuable to me was that it sparked a whole new side to my business.

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Since 2009 I’ve published 17 eBooks and 1 Printables set on Digital Photography School, and 6 eBooks and kits here on ProBlogger.

While I still sell advertising and do some affiliate campaigns on Digital Photography School, eBook sales now make up over 50% of my business today. Since that time we’ve also added two other income streams – membership (for ProBlogger.com) and Events.

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I tell this story because many times I come across bloggers who are a little stuck in the mindset that the only way to generate an income from blogging is to sell advertising.

While it’s certainly possible to build profitable blogs through a variety of types of advertising and affiliate promotions, it’s not the only way.

There are a few other benefits of creating a product for your blog other than the obvious income stream that they provide.

For starters by using your blog to sell your own product rather than sending your readers to buy other people’s products (through advertising) you’re keeping your readers on your own site and within your own community.

Secondly when you create a quality product that your reader loves – you’re going to make a much bigger impact upon your reader. I’ve personally found that when I meet readers face to face at conferences that the ones who’ve bought and read my book or eBooks seem to feel a lot stronger connection with me. They often talk to me as if we’ve had a shared experience already.

Lastly – I find that when you’ve created a product of some kind that it seems to help in the authority that people seem to perceive you as having. I guess there’s something about having intentionally sat down to create something of note that people seem to admire. While having an eBook or course doesn’t mean you ARE an authority – it all goes to help build your profile.

Creating Product Week

This week on ProBlogger we want to walk you through a number of posts that will help you to work out:

    1. what you need to do before developing a product for your blog
    2. work out what kind of product might be best for your blog
    3. how to create your product
    4. how to launch your product

To walk us through this process I’ve asked one of my core team (and author of one of the ProBlogger eBooks) – Shayne Tilley – to lead us. He’s prepared four posts that will come in the following days that will tackle these topics.

I’m also going to chime in on each post to give my perspective and as always am keen to hear your perspective also, as I know many ProBlogger readers have created their own products too.

Have You Created a Product?

My story is just one of many many in the blogosphere. While I’ve majored on creating eBooks there are certainly many other directions to take (and much of this week will be relevant to them all). I’d love to hear your experiences.

Have you created some kind of product on your blog? What kind is it? How did it go? What did you learn?

Read More the Rest of this Series on Creating and Selling Products

Below we’ll share the rest of this series of posts as they’re published.