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31DBBB Day 24 Challenge: Use a Magazine to Improve Your Blog

A very easy and enjoyable task for you today: read a magazine!

Old media has the potential to help you improve your “new media” blog in any number of ways from marketing ideas to design ideas, to content ideas and more. I give a few areas to look out for as you’re browsing, but for the most part, in that first flick-through, just see what jumps out at you. What piques your interest, what makes you reach for your notebook to jot down a few things?

I give a list of items you’ll need for today’s challenge in the show notes, and some tips and questions to ask yourself to help you get the most out of this session.

The value of this exercise lies in stepping away from your own blog for a little while, and gaining some fresh ideas and perspectives.
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How to Write a Post that Has a Clear Call to Action

Calls to action are one of those things you know you should include on your blog, but often get shoved to the end of the to-do list. They are important, but you’ll figure it out one day, right?

Well today is your day!

You would be surprised how many readers will do what you kindly ask of them, so if you’re looking for your audience to take a specific action, then be prepared to ask. Sign up to your email, share your post, write a comment – there are plenty of ways to gently guide your readers to take the next step, and this episode is the one that will show you how.

The goal here is to snap readers out of passivity. We’re all busy, we’re all time-poor, and sometimes we need a little reminding to not just click away to the next thing.

I discuss some of the calls to action you might want to consider – following you on your social accounts, voting in a poll, buying an affiliate product – the list is endless. You can only try, so today’s challenge is to write a post that contains a call to action. Gauge the reaction and take your blog forward with the knowledge you gain. What kinds of calls to action do your readers respond to? Do you see a higher rate of interaction when you ask directly? What other kinds of things can you ask them to do?

I know it can feel awkward to be so bold, but just try and see what happens.

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31DBBB Day 22 Challenge: Pay Special Attention to a Reader

Today’s podcast episode is all about your audience, and how to make them feel valued.

If there’s one way to build a better blog, it’s taking care of the people who take the time to read and engage with you, therefore creating a space that both you and they love. And one way to take care of those people is to not only tell them they’re valued, like we did on day five by emailing them, but by actually showcasing them publicly. Tell them why you appreciate them, loud and clear!

In the early days, I regularly gave two pieces of advice: “make your readers famous”, and “love your readers to death”. Today your challenge is to do just that, and I’m here to tell you how. I also explain how it has a three-pronged impact on you and your blog and a few ways I’ve gone about publicly valuing my readers and the effect it has had.

As always, feel free to share on Twitter or here in the comments how you’re doing with the challenge – can you believe we’re past the three-week mark now?!

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Click here to listen to day 22 of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog series on the ProBlogger Podcast. 

Further Reading:

The ProBlogger Podcast How-To: Conduct a Policy Review

I know – it sounds so technical. What blogger has a policy review and why would you even need one?

Bear with me, I think you’ll find today’s challenge super useful even if you think it doesn’t apply to you.

Of course, for some of you it’s a legal requirement in your jurisdiction to have a privacy policy if you’re collecting emails, or a disclosure policy if you’re working with brands. For the rest of you, it’s just good form to be transparent with your readers how you operate.

You may even have just a quick run-through of procedures you follow in general, or if something goes wrong. They don’t always have to be published.

In the workbook, I mention six areas you might want to consider a policy, and in today’s podcast episode, I go into detail with those, including how you can go about creating them to be as simple or as complex as you like.

You can also use today to create these policies if you don’t have any to review. I think you’ll find them incredibly handy.   ProBlogger Podcast AvatarClick here to listen to day 21 of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog series on the ProBlogger Podcast. 

Further Reading:

The ProBlogger Podcast How-To: Leave Comments on Blogs

For a lot of you, today’s podcast topic on 31 Days to Build a Better Blog is one you’re already doing – or at least have done before!

Leaving comments on other blogs is one of the most commonly-recommended things you can do to drive traffic to your blog and to increase your online visibility.

As time goes on, however, it can be hard to keep up with when we’re constantly creating content for our own blogs and spending a lot of time on our social media channels, but it really has so many benefits it’s worth carving out some moments of your day to devote to it.

In today’s episode I also mention how although there’s truth in the advice that leaving comments is a great way to boost your blog, it can also be a technique that can really damage your blog. I’ve got some tips to help you harness this technique in the right way so you can build a really great connection with other bloggers in a mutually beneficial way.

I also discuss some of the ways you can find time in your schedule to devote to this kind of community-building exercise even though we’re so swamped with our own blogs.
I hope you’ve been enjoying the series so far, and that the things you’ve implemented have seen positive impacts on your own blogs. As always, I’d love to hear any feedback you have in the comments, or on Twitter, where I’m @ProBlogger.
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How and Why to Experiment with Opinion Posts on Your Blog

Today’s challenge in 31 Days to Build a Better Blog should be easy for some of you – but terrify the rest!

Opinion posts come easily to those who are happy to share and engage in the feedback that they get. For others, though, it might not come naturally to put yourself out there and perhaps meet some resistance from those who don’t agree.

I’ve definitely had to push myself out of my comfort zone to share how I feel about something. It comes with a range of emotions about how your post will be met – what will people say? How will they think of me?

It turns out your opinion is something your readers want, so by not sharing it, you’re doing yourself and them a disservice. In today’s episode I outline the reasons why opinion makes your blog useful, and how it differentiates your blog from standard news and even other blogs in your niche.

So of course today’s challenge is to actually write an opinion post. Be brave! In the podcast I give some ideas for different niches about what you can write about and what might work for your situation. You’ll find some are easier than others, but the point is not to be controversial, just to mention where your values align.

Having said that – don’t shy away from controversy if you think it will be a relevant discussion.

Feel free to share your post in the comments below, and have a look at other bloggers’ posts as they come in. You’ll never know where it will lead you.

As always, stay tuned tomorrow for a brand new topic.
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31DBBB Day 18 Challenge: Create a Sneeze Page

Today is day 18 in 31 Days to Build a Better Blog and you can listen to it here.

If you’ve never created a sneeze page on your blog – one of the single most useful ways to get readers to stick around and get to know you so well they won’t want to leave – you need to do this today!

I’ve talked about sneeze pages for a long time, and it’s a term that I came up with in the first incarnation of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog in 2007. It’s a great way for all those posts you have in your archives that are still useful and relevant to be all in one place for the ease of readers who may be new to your blog.

The goal is to make the pages so interesting that the reader can’t help but click on more and more posts to read and before they know it, they’re deep inside your blog reading everything that they’re interested in.

In this episode I talk about the importance of sneeze pages for traffic, and the other benefits they bring. I also run through the types of sneeze pages you could create, depending on your niche, and whether to have standalone pages or posts. I also give a few examples for you to check out when creating your own in the show notes.

I’m going to discuss the type of sneeze page I think you should create for today’s challenge and give you tips on how to make the best one to really hook your audience – and also how to ensure they actually get seen by new readers to your blog.

It should be a nice and easy challenge for you today, but one that will see a heap of return on your effort.

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Click here to listen to day 18 of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog series on the ProBlogger Podcast. 

Further Reading:

Ask Yourself: How Do Readers See Your Blog?

It’s time for day 17 in our 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge.

Here’s a frightening reality – within just a few seconds of arriving on the blog that you pour hours and hours of time and energy into, a new reader will make snap judgements about what your blog is about and if it is worth their time to spend time on it.

First impressions are so important in real-life interactions but online it’s even more so.

You might look at your blog hundreds of times a week and therefore might miss little things, or be so familiar with it you don’t know what it’s like from a new reader perspective.

It can be nerve-racking to hear feedback about your pride and joy, but it’s necessary to ensure you’re providing readers with a place they want to stay. And the only way you’ll know how they feel about it is to ask them.

Today’s challenge is to conduct a “first-time reader audit” on your blog and try to see it from their perspective, so you know what you can tweak to make their experience better.

In this episode tell you how best to do this, and a list of things you’ll need to complete the audit. I’ve also got a series of questions to ask yourself as you watch the reader go through your blog to gauge their reaction. There will be questions you can ask them to prompt their description of their experience and give you valuable insight into how your blog looks to the outside world.

The show notes also include some tools and services to make this easier for you – especially if you don’t have a newbie on hand!

Good luck – would love to hear how you go.

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Click here to listen to day 17 of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog series on the ProBlogger Podcast. 

Further Reading:

31DBBB Day 16 Challenge: Solve a Reader’s Problem

Today’s challenge in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog series is another writing challenge, and one that’s close to my heart.

In both my blogs I strive to be useful – every day, my goal is to solve at least one reader problem. There are many reasons why helping to solve a pain point for your reader is good for both your blog and your audience, but it boils down to creating a connection with people that keeps them coming back. And if you’re lucky, recommending you to others!

In this episode, the challenge is to solve a reader’s problem. I go through the best starting point for this kind of task (which might surprise you), and of course, how to find out what is bothering your readers so you can help to solve it for them.

There are plenty of ways to canvass your audience to get a sense of where they’re at and where they’d like to be. You’ll come away from this podcast with a whole heap of ideas to try, and how to turn that information into future posts for your blog.

As you do, ask yourself – what do you notice about your readers’ problems?

We’ll also discuss how to find your readers’ issues without asking them directly – we talk about where to look and how to define what the issue is that you can see they’re facing. I’ll tell you how I find these problems, and the tools I use to help me.

Of course you can’t spend all your time looking for problems, so I’ll also talk about how you can go about solving the issues for your audience in a variety of useful ways.

I hope you’ll join me, and I look forward to hearing your feedback in the comments here on the show notes of todays challenge.

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