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An Unexpected Piece of Advice that Will Help You Grow Your Blog

Today’s challenge in our 31 days to build a better blog podcast series is a bit different, and hopefully – a lot of fun. It’s to not blog at all!

Today I want you to leave your electronics behind and go to your local mall or shopping centre. Why? Because it will put you out in the real world where real experiences will help give you real content. It will also ensure you brush your hair for the day!

In this episode I’ll go into detail about what happens when I do this, and why I now recommend it to everyone. I also outline the things I’ve learned and how it’s had an impact on the way I blog now.

I also tell you how to get the most out of your visit so it doesn’t just feel like a day wasted in a consumerist vacuum.

Listen to this challenge here or find it on iTunes and Stitcher (just look for episode 13).

Enjoy!

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Click here to listen to day 13 of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog series on the ProBlogger Podcast. 

Further Reading:

31DBBB Day 12: Develop an Editorial Calendar (and How to Do So!)

So yesterday your 31DBBB Challenge was to brainstorm 10 posts for your blog (you could come up with more, but 10 was the minimum!) and today we will be building on that – developing an editorial calendar.

This is going to serve as the next week of content on your blog. Ultimately these two exercises will get you on the road to setting up a publication schedule you can carry on, specifying what kind of content you’ll publish on what days.

If you already have an editorial calendar, I recommend you use this day to review it – how has it been working? Check in your stats to see if your most popular posts are being scheduled on your biggest traffic days. How have the comments been? Have the posts been resonating with readers? Have you enjoyed writing them?

In today’s episode I outline what I think are the benefits of editorial calendars, and briefly touch on some of the tools you can use to do so – but really, what I’m ultimately encouraging is just a simple calendar you can use for the following week. I’ll take you through the steps I use to develop mine.

Feel free to share your editorial calendar in the comments On todays show notes. Don’t forget to tune in tomorrow for a new topic.

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Click here to listen to day 12 of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog series on the ProBlogger Podcast. 

Further reading:

How to Harness Brainstorming to Build Great Content for Your Blog

Blogs can’t exist without content, and it is often one of the most stressful parts of blogging. Coming up with fresh, interesting, new content repeatedly for weeks, months, and years on end can take its toll if you don’t put strategies in place to help you before you get to burnout point.

Today’s challenge in our 31 day challenge is about alleviating some of that constant pressure (that you often don’t think about until it’s time to write) to allow you to just get on with creating content. Brainstorming ahead of time removes at least one of the obstacles to a full editorial schedule.

Brainstorming also allows you to step outside your blog for a moment and think long-term about things – you might have a great idea for a series, or even post ideas that aren’t just plain writing. It allows you to indulge your creative side for a moment and can result in topics you never even thought of but would be perfect for your blog.

In this episode, I share a process for coming up with ideas to write about that has worked really well for me. You’ll need a pen and paper, or even a whiteboard if you’ve got it. I’ll give you some steps to go through to define where your blog is headed, and help you create the ideas for content that will get it there. We also go through seven other ideas to help spark your creativity, which results in today’s challenge, which you’ll find on the podcast page (you’ll need them for tomorrow’s activity!).

See you tomorrow for the next episode.

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Click here to listen to day 11 of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog series on the ProBlogger Podcast. 

Further Reading:

ProBlogger Podcast Day 10: How to Use Alerts

As ubiquitous as the internet is, you can’t be across all things at all times in your niche.

It’s important to have a general idea of what the trends are not only for your sake so you can stay current, but also so you can share that information with your readers (perhaps in your next link post? Or social media update?)

The easiest way you can stay abreast of what’s been going on is to set up alerts and subsriptions.

Today’s episode of the ProBlogger Podcast will take you through how you can create a steady flow of great input to fill your inspiration cup and to stay on top of current issues. We expand on the initial “set up an alert” challenge in the original 31DBBB workbook and I’ll outline the reasons I think you need to set up alerts, and how it will help you create better content for your readers.

We’ll go through both Google and Twitter alerts and some other things to consider setting up for blog posts relevant to you.

Head on over to the podcast for the links I mention to help you set up the alerts, which will be in the show notes.

Good luck!

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Click here to listen to day 10 of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog series on the ProBlogger Podcast. 

Further Reading:

3 Project Management and Organisational Apps that I Use in My Blogging

The last two weeks have been crazy. I’m sure you know the type of weeks I’m talking about. Onn top of my normally full weeks…

  • I impulsively decided to launch a month of daily podcasts (and I crazily decided to do all of the show notes, editing and production myself)
  • We launched our mid year sale on dPS
  • Our two day ProBlogger event is just 5 weeks away and preparations are getting to that ‘frenzy’ point
  • I accepted 9 invitations to be interviewed on other people’s podcasts
  • 3 out of 5 of our core team are away overseas so I had a few jobs that I’d normally have them do on my list
  • Two of my sons had birthday parties – shenanigans!!!
  • It’s school holidays so I’ve had to take a couple of afternoons off to do family stuff
  • I had a full day photoshoot to get some new headshot scheduled

In hindsight I probably bit off a little more than I could chew – although I do find that when I’m busy I am more productive – but I’m also feeling pretty much in control this week for two other reasons.

Firstly, I really believe that my recent changes in healthy living have played a massive part in helping me stay in control, not feel overwhelmed and being super productive. Diet and exercise are paying off in many ways!

Secondly, for the first time in a while, I feel like I’ve got my act together with a task management workflow that is working for me.

Someone asked me on Periscope earlier in the week (yes I’ve started using it this last week too – find me at @ProBlogger) what tools and app I use so I thought today I’d jot talk about 3 that I’ve found helpful in this crazy period. I hope that they help others who might be looking for some help in this area and would love to hear what you’re using below in comments!

1. Task Management – Wunderlist

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Wunderlist is the latest tool that I’ve added to my system.

I was previously trying to use Evernote for task management but found it came up short for me on that front. While you can set reminders in Evernote I needed to be able to see a days tasks in a list and to be able to move them around easily, set recurring reminders, create sub lists etc.

Wunderlist has enabled me to do this and more (and I’m still discovering its features).

  • I love that it sits on my iPhone, Macbook and iMac (and my new Apple Watch)
  • I love that I can set up folders for different types of tasks
  • I love that I can set myself due dates and reminders
  • I love that it gives me a ‘smart list’ for todays tasks, this weeks tasks etc
  • I love that it allows me to set up recurring tasks (daily, weekly, monthly etc)
  • I love that it allows me to share lists (although I’m a bit scared to let my team or wife add to them yet!)
  • I love that I can email myself tasks
  • I love that I can add to my lists from browsers to take note of what I want to read later
  • I love that I can add notes/comments to my tasks
  • I love that I can put my tasks into my calendar

I’m also excited to see some Wunderlist integrations with Zapier (which I’m yet to explore) which allow it to be connected with other apps including Evernote.

2. Calendar – Fantastical 2 from Flexbits

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I’ve always been a big user of Apple’s Calendar but in recent months I’ve found myself increasingly frustrated by it. This has been because I’m finding my days are fuller and fuller of appointments, reminders and tasks and I just wasn’t satisfied with the way they were being displayed.

I wanted a daily view that arranged my tasks better both on my computers, phone and watch. I had tried a few of the alternatives including the original Fantastical app but it wasn’t until I found the updated Fantastical 2 that I found something that suited my needs.

I will say I’m still on the trial and have not committed to buy it (I’m not a fan of having to buy it for my computer AND my phone) but I’m very tempted.

In many ways it has the same features as the normal Apple Calendar but it just displays what I have on each day/week better and I find that if I’m seeing what I have on arranged better then I spend less time messing around in my calendar and most importantly I miss less appointments!

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I particularly love the ‘mini window’ which is in my menu bar on my computer which is a quick glance of my day that is easy to scroll through into future days.

Adding appointments is really easy too – you can do it in a very natural language (although Apple’s calendar isn’t too bad at this either).

The iPhone app is fantastic too – so easy to use, clearly laid out and very intuitive. The ‘daily ticker’ is really cool.

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It looks good on the watch too!

NewImageI’ve also set up a Wunderlist calendar so my daily tasks are imported into my Fantastical calendar!

Last of all it syncs really well with other calendar apps so if it doesn’t work out I can always go back to another option.

3. Project Management – Evernote

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While I’m not using Evernote any longer for task management I’m still a big user for many other things. I only really adopted it a few months ago now after seeing one of my team members use it for a day while we were travelling but it has literally changed my life in so many ways!

I have notebooks set up for many aspects of my business.

For example the ProBlogger podcast has a notebook which has notes for:

  • outline/plan for future episodes
  • each episode’s outline which contains bullet points I want to hit and notes that later become show notes
  • templates for sponsor mentions
  • brainstorming of ideas for future episodes/guest
  • marketing ideas

I am also finding that I’m writing more and more of my blog posts in Evernote. I just wish there was a way to export them directly into WordPress (I’m sure it can be done with IFTTT but I need a dummies version. Update: I’m told by Chris in comments Coschedule has this feature – I’m going to test that out!

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  • I love that I can share notes or notebooks with team members.
  • I love that I can use it to scan documents on my iPhone and then keep them there.
  • I love that I can record audio notes to myself (or my team) on my phone and store them there.
  • Most of all I love that it is always with me in my phone or computers. Having such a powerful tool there all day means I’m capturing (and being able to find again) a lot more of my ideas whereas previously I had ‘notes’ everywhere (in my pocket on paper, on different apps, in different documents etc).

What Productivity Tools and Apps are you Using Right Now?

I’m using a heap more than these 3 tools but these 3 are more recently adopted ones for me that I’ve not written about previously.

Note: I should also mention that another ‘newish’ tool we’ve been using as a team lately is Slack. It’s more of a communications tool that we’ve particularly been using among our events team but it is certainly something I see us using more and more going forward in other aspects of the business too.

I’d love to hear what tools you’re using and how you’re using them in comments below?

31DBBB Challenge: Join a Forum or a Social Media Group and Start Participating

One of the most common questions I’m asked by bloggers is “how do I find readers?“.

I do have a pretty standard reply, although it really does depend on several factors: mainly who is their target audience, where are they mostly online, and how can you participate in those places?

One of those places could possibly be a forum or social media group (like a Facebook or LinkedIn Group), and you’re missing out on a wealth of untapped readers if you’re not in there being part of the community too.

Today’s episode of the ProBlogger Podcast and 31 Days to Build a Better Blog focuses on forums but also how they may have morphed into social network groups, and why it’s in your best interest to participate in these places where your future audience is congregating. It also features the challenge of the day to find a forum or group and get started. I’ll show you how.

Don’t forget to let me know how you’re faring on Twitter (tag @ProBlogger), or if you have any questions. Stay tuned for a brand new topic tomorrow!

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

Further Reading:

How to Choose What Social Media Space to Focus On

A brand new week and day 8 of our 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge! Let’s get started.

Today it’s all about social media, and the role it plays in your blogging. If you’re not careful, it can suck up all of your time and you’ll be left struggling to find hours in the day to create content for your blog.

Also it is easy to just drift along doing whatever whenever and really just not using it effectively – it can go so far as to even harm your blog and brand if you don’t pay attention.

In this episode (listen to it here or find it on iTunes or Stitcher), I talk about the moment I had recently when I realised I’d let things slip, and what I did to overcome it and make the ProBlogger social media accounts once again a thriving hub of blogging community.

I share the plan I came up with to revive my online presence, and issue you a challenge to help boost you out of any ruts you may find yourself in.

The first thing to do is to figure out which social network is best for your site, and I offer some suggestions to help you figure that out. If you’re already happy with the platforms you’ve chosen, you can also use the second few questions to help you accurately gauge whether you’re using them effectively, and what you can do to make them better.

I’ll also give you tips on how to navigate an editorial calendar for the platform you end up choosing, and I share what my calendar looks like for the ProBlogger social media accounts to help you along.

I hope you’ve been enjoying the podcast so far – I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments.

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

Further Reading:

  • How to Socialize Your Posts for Maximum Effect
  • Most Popular Posts on Problogger 2014: Social Media
  • Hubspot’s The Social Media Content Calendar every Marketer Needs even has a template for you to fill in with your schedule.
  • How to Create and Schedule a Social Media Marketing Plan – Buffer
  • Inc.com: How to Choose the Best Social Media Sites to Market Your Business
  • 31DBBB Podcast Challenge: Write a Link Post (And Why You Should!)

    This is it! Day Seven of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog podcast series – you made it through the first week!

    If you missed an episode here they are:

    But back to today which is another writing challenge, which by the end of the month, should help you define what kinds of posts you like to write and what appeals to your readers.

    Today’s challenge is very simple – a link post. But in this episode, I go into more detail about the types of link posts that do well (I talk about the six ways to write a link post), how to expand upon them, and of course – why I think these types of posts are important.

    Things have changed since the early days when I favoured link posts, so there’s also tips to ensure your posts will be successful in today’s new online environment.

    Don’t forget to share on social media how you’ve enjoyed your first week. What have been the hits and misses for you? What have you learned?

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

    Further Reading:

    ProBlogger Podcast: The Benefits of Your Blog Being Mobile-Friendly

    Today is Day 6 in our 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Challenge

    There’s no denying it – the time has come where you’re going to lose traffic if your blog is not optimised for mobile viewing.

    Whether that dip in traffic is due to Google penalising non-mobile-friendly sites by not featuring their content in mobile search results thanks to their “Mobile Friendly Update” (otherwise known as Mobilegeddon), or because your reader isn’t having a pleasant reading experience and will click away to another blog where they do, you may never know. But the time is now to get your site mobile-friendly and capitalise on the fact that mobile traffic is outnumbering desktop traffic at breakneck speed.

    Now this is one of the challenges in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog series on the ProBlogger Podcast that might not be able to be completed in a day, but it’s something you can make a start with today, at least.

    In this episode, I ask you to look at your blog on a mobile device from your readers’ perspective, and I give you some questions to ask yourself as you look. I also go through a few options to help you transition if you blog on WordPress, with links in the show notes to a few of my favourite sites and plugins.

    If your blog is already mobile-friendly, we go through a checklist of things to do to make sure your reader is getting the best mobile experience possible. You won’t want to miss it.

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

    Further Reading: