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Blog Promotion Strategies: How to Think Outside the Square

It’s day three of our thirty one day challenge!

How are you feeling? Pumped? Motivated? Ready to shake up your blog and your routine during these 31 days?

We’ve already covered nailing your elevator pitch and how to create a super-shareable list post, and today it’s all about getting yourself off your blog to promote it and find some readers.

Build it and they will come“, you think? That is really not the case with blogging.

You need to put your blog where people will read it. In today’s podcast we discuss doing just that – how, where, and why to promote your blog with the maximum chances of it being seen. You have to get off your blog to get your blog read!

In todays episode there are tips on where to go to share your posts, how to build reader profiles (and why you need them), and how to figure out where those ideal readers are. Then we go through what to give those readers when you finally catch their attention – are you worthy of being found? How are you being useful? What kind of content are you creating?

Where are those potential readers?

The internet is vast, and while we immediately think of social media as the first place to share content, it isn’t always the only place.

In this episode we talk about developing editorial schedules for social media, but we also go beyond that, into the realm of guest posts, forums and other forgotten places to be seen.

We’re going to encourage you today to get off your blog and put yourself out there. Take today’s challenge and choose a certain post to share. All it takes is a little of your time and some creative thinking.

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

Let us know how you go with today’s challenge on twitter – just tag @ProBlogger and head to todays show notes to leave a comment.

Further Reading:

Don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes and Stitcher to get updates of new episodes.

ProBlogger Podcast Challenge: Write an Amazing List Post

Day two of our 31 day challenge begins with a simple post idea that you can create easily, and is popular with readers – a double bonus for bloggers! The podcast is now live for you to get details of the challenge here (or on iTunes and Stitcher).

Note: If you missed it, day one was about crafting the perfect elevator pitch for your blog.

In today’s episode we go over the seven reasons list posts are so important, and some of the different kinds of list posts that can be produced (like this one, for example).

You can make a list post for just about every niche of blogging there is! You can also stick with a straight list, an extended list, or a half-essay-half list post – whatever works for your audience. We also chat about how curated lists featuring other bloggers can build relationships and help expand your online presence.

The show notes include links to some popular list posts and examples for you to check out when creating your own. It’s one of the fastest ways to create trending, shareable content, and we’ve got all you need to know in today’s show.

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

Let us know on twitter how you go with today’s challenge! tag @ProBlogger, and don’t forget to tune in tomorrow for a brand new topic.

Further Reading:

31DBBB Day One: What Makes a Great Elevator Pitch?

Welcome to day one of building a better blog! The ProBlogger podcast is off and running with a new episode every day this month with a theme designed to help boost your blogging skills and todays podcast episode is now live for you to listen to.

The original 31 Days to Build a Better Blog helped so many people both when it was released, and across the years since then, and it’s exciting to be able to change it up with updated information, new challenges and a supporting podcast.

Day one is all about encapsulating the purpose and spirit of your blog.

What is it about? Who is it for? Why should people read it? In the podcast we go through the reasons to have an elevator pitch, what type of elevator pitch might be best for you, and, of course – how to create one.

There’s also a challenge at the end to take you straight from knowing to doing. As a bonus it doesn’t even take long, but will have a lasting impact on how you make decisions about your blog, and how you come across to others. Having an elevator pitch is invaluable.

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Head here to listen to the first day and stay tuned throughout July for more tips to help you build a better blog!

Don’t forget to subscribe in iTunes or Stitcher to get future updates.

Further Reading on Elevator Pitches:

Michael Hyatt goes through the basics of why you need an elevator pitch, and how to create one. He also has a video that helps to explain.

The 9 Cs of Elevator Pitches 

This infographic from HubSpot has information with a wider reach (think businesses with a product), but will visually help you break down the steps you need to take to sum up yourself and your business.

And a Pinterest board dedicated to Elevator Pitch information.

Also: If you’re interested, you might want to check out this post from someone who did the original 31DBBB challenge, and their tips for getting the most out of the month.

The ProBlogger Podcast Is Live and We’re Kicking Off with a Challenge!

ProBlogger Podcast AvatarToday I have great pleasure in introducing you to the brand new ProBlogger Podcast and the next incarnation of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog.

Over the last couple of years I’ve lost count of the number of people who have said ‘Darren you really should start a podcast’.

I’d always nodded my head but quietly list in my mind a long list of excuses not to including ‘I don’t know how…’ to ‘I’m so busy…’ to ‘what if nobody listens…’

But earlier this year something changed when people suggested I start a podcast.

I’m not going to tell you exactly why I changed because I tell you that in the first episode (that went live on iTunes over the weekend) – but it was like a switch got flicked somewhere in my mind and I found myself starting to dream about starting one of my own (and as I did my list of excuses began to dissolve).

I decided while on a month long break in the US in April to create a ProBlogger podcast and in my presentation at Chris Ducker’s conference in May I announced I was going to create it and after one of the attendees (I’m looking at you Lane) pressured me to put a date on when I’d do it I impulsively said it would be launched within 2 months!

Little did I know how much of a job I had in front of me because rather than start off with a steady weekly show I decided that my first month of podcasting would be a daily show based upon the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook!

Episode 0 is Live

Today Episode 0 of the podcast went live on iTunes and day 1 of the 31 Days to Build a Better blog series will kick off on Wednesday (1 July)! You can find show notes and listen to the podcast on our podcast site here.

In the first episode:

  • I share why I decided to start podcasting
  • I talk about 2 traits of successful blogs that inform how the podcast will work
  • I share my plan for the first action oriented 31 days of short sharp podcasts based around 31DBBB

31 Days to Build a Better Blog

Having run this month long challenge numerous times before I know the potential it has to help bloggers bring about transformation on their blogs.

Tens of thousands of bloggers have taken the challenge (and many have completed it numerous times) so I’m excited to be doing it again and would love to have you along on the journey.

Don’t feel you need to do it daily (it’s designed to do at your own pace) but please do subscribe to the podcast here on iTunes.

Please Help Us with a Quick Review and Rating on iTunes

Once you’ve listened to the first podcast (it’s only 16 minutes) please take a moment to give us a rating (hint… 5 starts is good) and a review – it helps us get the word out about the challenge and the more on it the better for everyone!

A Note about the 31DBBB WorkBook

This podcast series is based upon the 31 Days to Build a Better blog workbook and follows the same 31 days in it – however you do not need a copy to follow along.

While there’s definitely more material in the eBook (in fact there’s a bonus 7 days includes in that) you will give value from the podcast without it.

However if you do want to have your own copy of the 31 days of material (plus the 7 extras) to use on an ongoing basis please use the coupon code PODCAST50 during the checkout from the sales page to get 50% off the workbook for the next month.

No pressure though – as I say you can get a lot of value out of the podcast alone if you choose to do so.

Update: Here’s the Full 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Series

It’s been over a month of podcasting now and I’ve learned so much. The first 31 episodes were downloaded over 120,000 times in the first month and I’ve now started a second series on finding readers for your blog.

Many readers/listeners have asked for all the first series episodes to be listed in one place. While it’s on iTunes I thought it might help to list them here too. Enjoy!

These 32 episodes are just the start of the ProBlogger podcast. While these were daily episodes from now on I’ll be publishing 2 podcasts a week. To get notified of when they come out subscribe in iTunes and/or subscribe to our ProBloggerPLUS newsletter.

How to Build Your Blog’s Audience with Long Form Evergreen Content

Who wants to grow their blog’s audience?

I’m yet to meet a blogger who doesn’t, so I’m picturing in my mind a room full bloggers with their hands in the air!

If you’re one of them, I would highly recommend you spend a few minutes today listening to the first 20 or so minutes of this podcast by Tim Ferriss who outlines how he’d build his audience if he were starting from scratch today (note: the rest of the podcast answers other questions which are good but less relevant for bloggers).

There’s some great ideas in his answer that in essence are similar to what I’ve written and spoken about previously on:

  • identifying who you are trying to reach
  • asking where those readers are gathering and/or focusing their attention
  • and then trying to work out how to build a presence in those places

But one of the other key messages in Tim’s podcast that really stood out to me was this statement that he made:

‘The most labor-efficient way to build readership over time is long-form evergreen content.’

There is so much wisdom in this statement and I’d highly recommend bloggers ponder two parts of it.

Long Form Content

There has definitely been a trend over the last few years for many bloggers to move toward shorter form content. I’m not sure if this has been the result of the short for nature of social media, an assumption that people’s attention spans are short, the pressure to publish more posts or something else – but I’ve heard it taught from the stage at conferences and have definitely noticed more and more bloggers creating shorter posts in recent years.

My experience has been similar to Tim’s. I’ve noticed that it’s my longer and more in-depth posts that tend to get the most shares, the most links and the most traffic – both when they’re launched and over their long tail life.

There are definitely exceptions but today as I look through the top 10 most read posts here on ProBlogger over the last 12 months the shortest one is 714 words and the longest is over 7000. Their average is 2491.

I recently spoke about some of the benefits (and some of the costs) of creating long form vs short form content here so won’t go on too long about it except to say that at the very least longer form content is worth weaving into the mix of content on your blog.

I’m not arguing that every post needs to be longer form – it takes a lot of effort to create and there is a definitely place for shorter content – but the effort you put into longer posts can be a great investment to make into your blogging.

Further Reading: read Search Engine Journal’s article Why You Need to Start Creating Long, Evergreen Content Today.

Evergreen Content

Note for those not familiar with the term ‘Evergreen Content’: Evergreen posts are ones that don’t lose their relevancy over time. You write them today and they will be as helpful to readers in a few months (or even years) time.

I know that not every blog topic/niche naturally lends itself to the creation of evergreen content (for example ‘news’ and ‘reviews’ sites can sometimes struggle with it) but most blogs should be able to find a way to create at least some content that doesn’t date quickly.

As I look through the most read posts on both ProBlogger and Digital Photography School over the last 12 months every single post is what I’d consider to be evergreen content.

Of course part of the reason for this is that it’s the main focus of what I do – but we do cover ‘newsy’ type posts from time to time on dPS and apart from a spike in traffic shortly after it is published it rarely ever gets more than a trickle of traffic ever again.

To illustrate the case for Evergreen Content

Let me give you a couple of case studies. Here’s how a time sensitive post announcing the launch of the New Adobe Lightroom that we published on dPS recently performed in terms of traffic.

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You can see the initial burst of traffic as it went live and as our readers excitedly gobbled up the hot news (and it was fairly significant news in the photography niche).

But in the month after it’s had little traffic and I suspect will never see more than a handful of visitors coming to it in a given day again.

Contrast this with an evergreen post I published back in January of 2007 on the topic of ISO Settings.

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The post had it’s own little spike in traffic in the first days (although I had hardly any readers at that point) but to this day it continues to get traffic (for example yesterday it had over 1100 visitors).

The beauty of evergreen content is that it not only gets the same initial spike of traffic to it when you publish but it also is much more likely to be searched for and found in search engines in the years to come.

The other benefit of the evergreen content is that you (and others) are able to keep sharing it on social for years to come also! It is this evergreen content that I’ve built my whole social media workflow around.

Take a look at this daily traffic graph of the same post on ISO where you’ll see some bigger daily spikes periodically on the days I retire it on social media.

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I have given that post a refresh occasionally over the years but it’s largely the same content that I published in 2007 and despite being 8 years old still gets a great reaction every time I share it on social.

Note: worth noting here is that this example is not what I’d consider to be ‘long form content’. It’s around 700 words in length which isn’t short – but it shows you that there’s a place for ‘mid sized’ form content too.

The most compelling case for investing time into Evergreen Content…

As I look at the two examples of posts I’ve just shown you what strikes me most is the investment that was put into those two posts was similar.

From memory I probably spent an hour or two writing the post on ISO. I’m not sure how long the author who wrote the Lightroom announcement post spent on it but looking at it he put at least that much time into researching and writing it.

Considering that investment of time – I’d say the case for evergreen content is pretty clear.

The quote I started with from Tim Ferriss was all about labor efficient ways to build readership. It’s not the only way but I’d have to say that I think he identified one approach that really resonates with my own.

Further Reading: Check out Ali Luke’s post Your Ultimate Guide to Creating Amazing Content that Draws Readers Into Your Blog.

How to Tell if Your Idea for an eBook or Course Is a Profitable One

You've got a ton of ideas, but Darren's written about How to Tell if Your Idea for an eBook or Course Is a Profitable One on ProBlogger.netThe old saying that ‘everybody has a book inside them’ may be true – but for bloggers I’ve found it is probably more accurate to say that ‘every blogger has at least 10 ideas for eBooks inside them’.

I was at a mastermind event recently and a blogger shared her list of ideas for eBooks and courses and then looked at me quizzically and asked – “but which one is the most profitable idea?”

To truly answer the question my blogger friend would need to create and launch all of the products – but it got me wondering if there might be some ways to test her ideas before creating the products to see which might work best as a product.

What follows are some questions to ask and some techniques to try to do just this.

Just keep in mind that a there’s much more to profitable products than great ‘ideas’. Success will be dependant upon many factors including the quality of what you create, the size of your audience (here are some ways to build it before launch) and the marketing strategies that you use to launch your product.

1. Is the Idea Important and Meaningful to You?

Let’s start with a question that won’t guarantee profit in any way shape or form but which has definitely become the first question I ask any time that I create a product – is it something important to me?

I ask this question for a number of reasons.

Firstly, if the idea is important to me there’s a good chance it’ll be important to others.

Secondly, if the idea is important to me (and others involved in the creation and selling of it) I’m going to produce a much higher quality product and be able to market it much much more effectively.

Perhaps the best example I can give you of this is 31 Days to Build a Better Blog which meant so much to me as I created it and which was so easy for me to enthusiastically promote after.

In fact 31DBBB was created with no intent of it ever becoming a product (it was written initially as a free series of blog posts) and purely because I thought it would help people – it’s no wonder it went on to become my biggest selling product.

2. Does it have a Tangible Benefit?

Having being a part of creating and launching close to 40 eBooks, printables, kits and courses in the last six years, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is around making sure your idea has tangible benefits to those who will buy it.

It might sound obvious but it’s a lesson we learned the hard way (more than once) but producing eBook that we thought were on ‘important’ topics but which didn’t have tangible benefits.

31 Days to Build a Better Blog is another great example of this – there’s a benefit in the title that seemed to grab people.

The other example I’ve spoken about in presentations I’ve given over the years is the story of our photography eBooks at dPS.

Both eBooks were by the same author and were written, designed, priced and marketed in extremely similar ways. Sales on the other hand couldn’t have been much more different.

The first eBookTranscending Travel: A Guide to Captivating Travel Photography had a very tangible benefit. You’ll take better photos when you travel!

Not only does this have a tangible benefit – it’s in an area that most people have had a painful experience of (getting home from a trip and being disappointed with the images).

The second eBookCaptivating Color: A Guide to Dramatic Color Photography was on a topic we thought was of real importance to photography but in hindsight didn’t have as specific or tangible a benefit.

To this day I think both eBooks are as good as one another (in fact I think the Color Photography one is still more important for photographers to get a handle on) but Travel has always outsold Color (to this day it’s sold double).

Some topics can be tweaked to be more tangible in their benefits while others are much trickier on this front. I’d be leaning to those with obvious benefits in areas that people have a felt need on.

Is There Evidence of People Paying for This Type of Information?

An exercise that is most beneficial to undertake when setting out on this journey to create a product is to do some analysis of the marketplace to see what else has been produced on the topic.

There are numerous benefits of doing this but one of the key ones for me is that it shows whether people pay for that type of information and to see what kind formats of products seem to be doing well.

It shouldn’t take you too long to get an idea of this. Head to your local news stand and see what magazines there are on the topic, head to Amazon and look at the books that relate (and try to get a feeling for how well they’ve sold by looking at their rankings and numbers of reviews), look online to see if other eBooks, courses, membership sites or other products have already been created.

If there are a lot of products on your topic you have some proof of concept but you also might well have a challenge on your hands too as the market might be cluttered. If this is the case it might be worth doing some deeper analysis of the competition.

  • What do they do well?
  • What formats seem to have worked well and what have not?
  • Are there any gaps in the market?
  • What marketing techniques do they use?

The more research you do into these questions the better positioned you’ll be in to tap into what is working for others but also create something that stands out from the rest.

Test the Idea

As bloggers we have a real advantage over many other publishers of online products – we have a great way (or a number of great ways) to test our ideas to see how they resonate with people before we even begin producing our products.

For almost every eBook, course or other kind of product I’ve created I’ve first gone to my audience in some way to test the idea. By putting it ‘out there’ some some way I see whether it gives my readers energy but also quite often get feedback that makes the product better or that gives me hints as how to market it more effectively.

It’s never quite the same but usually involves some combination of the following ideas.

Blog Posts

The most simple thing to do as a blogger is to create a blog post (or a series of them) to test your idea. These could take a couple of forms including:

  • discussion posts – simply putting up a post that is a ‘discussion’ related post designed to get your readers to talk about the topic, their needs, their questions etc. You need not say it’s research for a product if you don’t want to reveal that – but you could even go to them with a ‘tell me what you want to include’ approach which gives your readers a sense of being involved.
  • writing your product as posts – I’ve seen many bloggers create their products in public on their blogs over the years. You might not choose to put the whole eBook/course on your blog for free but it putting your initial ideas onto your blog and then turning that into part of your product can work well. In essence this is what I did with 31DBBB – although I didn’t realise it at the time.

The key with both approaches is to watch the reaction of others to your posts. Are they being read? Are people excited by them? Do the posts actually bring about some kind of benefit to your readers? If there are sparks of energy being created you should follow that energy and keep working.

If there are not – you might want to keep working on the idea.

Note: Of course it takes having some readers to your blog to get these kinds of reactions. If you have a small readership you might want to try some of the other methods below.

Podcasts

Another way to start creating content for a course might be to start a podcast on your topic. You need not to commit to running it indefinitely, rather set out to do a short ‘season’ of episodes to see how people respond to the idea.

Again the benefits of this are:

  1. You’re testing your idea to see if it is of interest to people
  2. You’re creating content that you might be able to repurpose and include in your product
  3. You’re developing an audience that you might be able to sell your product to

Webinars

Similarly you might like to run a webinar (or series of them) on your idea. This potentially has the same benefits as the three mentioned in the podcasts section above but has the added bonus of opening up potential for a live interaction and feedback from those listening in.

The questions and responses you get during a webinar are often incredibly insightful and open up areas that you could develop in your product as well as helping you to see how people react against your ideas (which could be stumbling blocks for the to buy your product).

The other benefit of doing webinars before you create your product is that you get your audience used to attending them which can be useful when it comes time to launch your product. Live webinars often work really well as a selling tool during a launch.

Social Media

Social media is another of my favorite places for testing ideas. In fact it’s often the first step for me as it’s so easy to put an idea out there and get pretty quick reactions.

My first testing ground is usually Twitter where I’ll ask a question, put up a hypothesis or even bluntly ask a ‘would you be interested in….’ question.

The beauty of Twitter is that you don’t tend to get people seeing and being influenced by other people’s responses (unless you dig for them). Having said that – sometimes you want a more communal response so I’d then be heading to Facebook where I have often done exactly the same kinds of updates (asking questions, starting discussions etc).

Of course social is a place you should be sharing the blog posts we’ve already talked about writing – get the ideas in front as many people as you can!

Boost Your Social Posts

One of the challenges of not having an established readership or following on social media is that you can ask questions and start as many discussions as you like but get no response whatsoever.

If this is the case you may wish to try boosting/advertising your social media updates to get more response.

I know not everyone feels comfortable with boosting posts on Facebook but for a relatively small outlay it is a decent way to ensure your posts are seen by exactly the type of people you’re trying to reach. You can specify for your post to be shown to people in certain locations, genders, age groups and with certain interests (and much more) all for just a few dollars.

Set Up a ‘Group’

Another idea that is related to social media that you might like to try is setting up a Facebook Group (or a group on a platform like LinkedIn) on the topic of the product you’re thinking of creating.

I’ve recently been playing with Facebook Groups on a number of fronts (including the FeelGooder group) and it strikes me that a group would be a brilliant place to help you test and develop your idea.

While this isn’t my current goal with the FeeGooder group it wouldn’t be hard to take your idea for a product to such a group to ask them for feedback and even to get their contribution to creating it. The benefits of doing so is that you not only get to test and refine the idea but you could also have your first highly engaged customers and advocates for it!

Surveys/Polls

I love using surveys to test ideas for products. We have used them in two main ways:

  • Long Run Surveys – I’ve written about the main survey that we use on dPS previously. It collects feedback from readers everyday via our autoresponder series. The benefit of this is that we have a steady stream of ideas, questions and interests coming in from our readers which informs what products we create. We also have a question in the survey that specifically asks them what topics they’d buy products on that tests the ideas we have for future products.
  • Product Specific Surveys/Polls – The other type of survey we’ve run a few times is in the lead up to launching a specific product. For example if I were creating an eBook on travel photography I could do a survey that asks readers about the gear they use, the places they travel, the problems and challenges they’ve had, the questions they have etc. These kinds of surveys can also test other things like price points, formats, titles etc depending upon where you’re at with the production of your product. I find this type of survey not only gives you ideas for making the product better but can often highlight potential blocks that people might have in buying which will inform your marketing.

One ore tip with surveys – always be on the look out for a good stat that you can use in your marketing. For example – we ran a survey in the lead up to launching our Photo Nuts and Bolts eBook which revealed ‘73% of digital camera owners wish they had more control over their camera‘. That became the headline for the sales page of that eBook.

Pre Sell Your Product

This is the only technique in this post that I’ve never done but I know of bloggers who have used it with great effect. In essence they create a sales page for their product before they create it and ‘pre-sell’ it to their audience.

In some ways this was almost like a crowd-funding type approach.

In each case I’m thinking of the blogger was upfront in telling their audience that the product was not yet complete and they gave those who pre-bought it a discount for putting their money up.

By pre-selling their product they had proof of concept before or during the product creation. It also gave them more incentive/accountability to actually finish the product (as people had already paid).

In one case the blogger discovered by putting their product up for pre-sale that there was not enough interest for the product and so refunded the few people who bought it and abandoned the idea.

Another blogger involved those who bought the pre-launched product in the creation of it by inviting then to a private VIP Facebook group to discuss what they wanted included and to build some community among buyers. He also gave the access to the product in stages (it was a course so he could release lessons regularly over the weeks after they made the purchase.

The only warning I’d give on pre-selling products is that you need to really be able to follow through and deliver. You could easily destroy your reputation and potentially end up in legal trouble by taking money for a product you didn’t deliver.

How Would You Test Your Product Idea to Assess its profitability?

I’d love to hear your ideas and experiences with this topic.

Have you tried any of the above ideas? Have you got other ideas to add?

Hey Bloggers! Is it Time to Focus a little Less on Your Blog and A Little More on YOU?

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Blogging has been very good to me over the last twelve and a half years, but it’s come at a personal cost that I’m sure many can relate to.

Gradually over that time I’ve allowed myself to become more and more inactive. Gradually over time I became less and less fit and gained more and more weight.

Along with the weight gain and loss of fitness came a loss of energy and mental alertness. If I’m honest it also began to impact my mental health which in turn impacted numerous other areas of my life from relationships to my personal confidence and even through into my blogging.

Four months ago I had a bit of a wake up call after my annual doctors checkup, when I was presented with a list of areas I needed to do some work on. None of the things on the list were super-urgent or life-threatening but the fact that it was a list was enough to grab my attention and sparked a few changes in my life.

I recently wrote about my ‘slow decline’ and the changes I made in a post over on LinkedIn titled My New Project: Project Me.

In short I began to walk each day and made some significant changes to my diet (you can read the specifics in the post). The impact was pretty immediate.

  • Most importantly I’m feeling so much better within myself.
  • I have more energy than I remember having for a decade.
  • I’m thinking clearer and have more mental alertness and stamina.
  • My confidence has improved so much!
  • I’ve lost 13 kilograms (almost 29 pounds) and am in desperate need to go shopping to buy some smaller clothes!
  • My blood pressure is down!
  • I’m no longer out of breath when I play with my kids.
  • I’m getting more productive and the quality of my work is improving.
  • My mood and outlook has improved and I’m finding myself smiling a whole heap more

It’s Infectious

One of the other impacts that I had not expected of this journey is that as I’ve shared my story (with the above post) and in conversation I’ve noticed that it’s sparked others around me to make changes.

I was at a conference last week when three people told me that they’d started their own ‘Project Me’ campaigns. Each was doing it their own way and focusing upon a different areas of their life but each was sick of the ‘gradual slides’ that had happened in their lives and was doing something about it.

Join Us?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this over the last few weeks and have been wondering if there’s some way we could support each other more as a community in this area.

I’ll declare up front that I’m no expert in any of this. I’m four months into this journey and have been learning a lot but still have a long way to go. But I do know that I’m much more likely to have success if I’m doing this in community and have a little accountability from those around me.

As a result yesterday on the spur of the moment and without any planning or forethought, I decided to start a little group on Facebook for those who want to work on improving their health.

I’ve set the group up under the name of Feelgooder (the name of an old blog I used to have that I’ve never done much with) with the goal of it being alive for three months. On 19 August we’ll reassess whether the group is being of use to people and I’ll decide if we continue it or not.

The group is a closed group but you’re very very welcome to join it.

The objective is not to prescribe, teach or share any one way to get healthy. Rather it’s a place for support, share, be vulnerable and have a little accountability.

So far we’ve got 230+ people who’ve joined. People seem to be at all stages of the journey with their fitness, diet and other areas of well being. There’s also people from all parts of the world and different age groups.

So far the group is largely made up of bloggers or online entrepreneurs. There’s no rule on this but it’s who seems to be joining so I thought I’d open the invitation up to the wider ProBlogger community.

Whether this evolves beyond the group or ends up just being a temporary community I don’t know but I’m loving the first couple of days and hope that those of you who feel moved to do so might consider joining us.

Is it Time to Focus a little Less on Your Blog and A Little More on YOU?

I’d love to see you over on the Feelgooder Group on Facebook.

3 Places Your Best Ideas Are Hiding In Your First Drafts

Many bloggers write drafts and then ‘edit’ their writing – but ‘revising’ is a little different and is definitely a good exercise.

Today I came across a great short video by Beth Dunn from Hubspot that was recorded earlier in the year at the Inbound conference.

In the video Beth talks about ‘fixing your writing’ by learning to ‘revise’ your work.

There’s lots of take home points in this video but what resonated with me most were the three points Beth makes about the places in your first drafts that your best ideas often hide (at around the 9.30 mark).

These best ideas (or the ‘screws’ or the ‘points’ as Beth calls them) are often the things that you need to pay particular attention to and that you should make the centre pieces of your revised drafts.

These points regularly can be found:

The Change

The place in our writing where we hit a fork in the road and it changes course in some way. Some writers call this the pivot.

For me in my writing I find myself regularly feeling tempted to take a tangent in my writing halfway through a post and have trained myself to take note while I writing of these moments because they are often golden moments that can trigger me to completely change what I’m writing or that lead to followup posts.

The Laugh

The moment while you’re writing when while you’re writing something just ‘lurches out onto the page’ and you laugh out loud and wonder where it came from.

This reminds me of a post I wrote back in 2011 about ‘Listening to Your Inner Crazy Voice‘ where I identified that I’ve noticed that many times my best ideas have made me either laugh or gasp when I’ve had them.

As I wrote back then:

In each case, the reaction I had straight after having the idea was to either laugh or gasp. In most cases, the reaction was the same when I told those around me. I’m learning that the laugh and gasp reactions are good. They tell you that you’ve thought of something a little out of the box—something that will, at the very least, get noticed.

The End

The vast majority of your great ideas will be found at the end of your first draft.

This resonated with me very strongly. I regularly find that after banging out a post that the crux of what I say is in my conclusion.

This is logical in many ways – we spend a lot of time exploring an idea in our writing and after all that grappling with the topic we refine our idea to the point where they’re a lot better when we’ve finished than when we started.

In some ways the first draft becomes the opportunity for us to think out loud to help us get to ‘the point’ or the idea.

The mistake at this point is simply to publish what we’ve written. Rather – treat your first draft as the raw material for what comes next. Take that idea that you’ve refined and make it the centrepiece of your writing.

ProBlogger FAQ: How Often Should I Post?

ProBlogger FAQ - How often should I post Darren gives his answer : problogger.net

Post frequency is a topic that comes up often among bloggers. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just started or you’ve been posting for years – people change, algorithms change, and even your motivations for blogging change. No-one is immune from wondering if their schedule is working, or if tweaks can be made for more successful audience interaction.

As I said in my previous FAQ post on how long posts should be – it depends on several factors. The length of posts, the frequency of posting, and definitely post content all require trial and error, and for the blogger to know what their readers respond to best.

There’s been a shift I’ve seen lately – two shifts, actually – in posting schedules that work for certain bloggers posting certain content.

There’s the shift toward following the Upworthy/BuzzFeed model of 10-20 posts a day, and others doing slow, longer, deeper posts.

The choice can even depend on your monetizing model. If you are dependent upon banner ads, your’e going to need more posts. More eyeballs mean more clicks, which mean more money can be made that way.

If you’re selling a product or service, then you’ll do better with slower paced, deeper content. You’ll notice that’s what we’ve been experimenting with here on ProBlogger recently.

Finding a posting schedule requires some homework on the part of the blogger – checking their Analytics to see what posts work best, what times work best, and at what speed. You can canvass your audience for their opinion outright by asking them on Facebook, email newsletters or including the question in your regular surveys and make your decision based on their answer. You also need to canvass yourself – how many posts can you reasonably fit into your schedule before quantity overcomes quality?

In this post on How Many Posts Should a Blogger Post I go into detail about the pros and cons of daily blogging, which might help you make your decision. Of course there are benefits of both, and sometimes it can take a while of testing before you find which works best for you.

You might also find this post useful where our guest writer Ali Luke discusses the surprising answer she found to the universal question.

Have you struggled with this? Or have you found the perfect posting schedule? I’d love to hear in the comments.