This is a guest contribution from blogger Jenish Pandya.
What happens when ProBlogger legend Darren Rowse comes to your city for the first time ever?
You and everyone around you go crazy and act like teenagers at a Justin Bieber concert and start taking heaps of photos every time he makes a move.
Then what do you do with all the photos you have taken? Well, you write a blog post.
Darren came down to Perth for the first ever mini PBevent and in his presentation gave us a taste of what happens at the main event happening this year on Gold Coast from 29-30 August.
Darren Rowse’s 10 Blogging Lessons
Darren’s presentation was titled “10 things I wish I’d know about Blogging (+7 Quick tips)” in which he shared about the blogging lessons he would have wanted to know when he started out 12 years ago.
The lessons he shared were really simple and easy to implement, they were meant to take your blogging to the next level.
Darren The ProBlogger
Overnight Success only happens after years and years of work, it couldn’t be much right than in Darren’s case.
Darren started of the presentation with his introduction (as if he needed one :) ) and followed on with his story about how ProBlogger (PB) and Digital Photography School (DPS) started out. If it hadn’t been for his wife Vanessa, all this would probably not have happened as it did.
Darren’s journey started out with four simple words “Check out this blog” and without much credentials behind him he started out blogging and after 12 years of hard/smart work, ProBlogger and Digital School Photography have become what they are now. If you want to know about Darren’s awesome story check out the About ProBlogger page.
You have to be dedicated to your blog and business. There is nothing such as overnight or quick and easy Success. You have to work hard and smart to achieve your goals and sometimes you will achieve something more greater than what you ever imagined.
Blogging Lesson #1: If you want your Blog to be a Business, Treat it as one
Glass half full, or glass half empty, the way we perceive and look at things changes how they appear to us.
The first lesson that Darren shared was something he had seen a number of bloggers go wrong with, including himself. Most of the bloggers started blogging as a creative outlet to share about their passion or as a hobby and monetizing the blog came as an afterthought.
The way you act when you think of your blog as a hobby will be completely different to when you think of it as a real business. When it becomes a business, you will pay more attention to it, be more professional about it and also dedicate as much time as possible.
So if you are really serious about monetizing your blog and trying to generate income from it, then your first step is to treat it like a business.
I started a couple of blogs before my current one and was treating them as hobbies and I can totally see the difference in how I go about treating my current blog by me being consistent, showing respect and putting time and effort in providing value.
Blogging Lesson #2: Identify WHO you want to read your blog
There is no point in selling a TV to a blind person as they won’t be able to use it and morally it is just wrong. You need to know your audience before you start doing anything.
Darren shared four key reasons on how knowing WHO you want to read your blogs informs you the blogger on;
- Content Strategy
- Promotional Strategy
- Community Strategy
- Monetization Strategy
The first step in identifying your reader is to create two-three reader profiles or avatars which describes the reader’s;
- How they Use the Web
- Motivations for Reading
- Experience Level
- Financial Situation
Darren introduced Grace, who describes herself as a Mom-a-raz-zo photographer because 90% of her photos are of her young children. Grace is one of the few fictitious reader of Digital Photography School that Darren invented. Here are the other reader profiles.
The second step to getting to know WHO your readers are is asking your current readers to fill out surveys and polls, so you get hard facts and numbers about them.
This was something I knew I had to do but never got around doing it. It is something I have struggled with as I have always tried to write for everyone and never picked out specifically my exact niche. After hearing Darren I have started working on it and I am close to writing up a couple of reader profiles for my blog.
Blogging Lesson #3: Email is Powerful!
With all the hype around the use of Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and other cool social media sites, sometimes the good old email doesn’t get paid the attention it really deserves.
Darren emphasized on the use of email as a powerful blog marketing tool as;
- It Drives Traffic
- It Drives Profit
- It Builds Community
- It Builds the Brand
He told us about how it was his father who got him started on to setting up email subscriptions because his father wasn’t sure of how to set up in reading an RSS feed and still wanted to read Darren’s blog.
I love email marketing especially because it is personal and gives you that feeling of one 2 one communication with your reader and the coolest thing is that it can be automated.
Blogging Lesson #3A: Don’t Write Off PopUps
PopUps are still a bit controversial, some people hate it and some don’t mind it.
Darren used to hate popups and he never used them till he got challenged to try it out for one day and see what happened to his optin rates on DPS. So being adventurous, he gave it a shot.
The result of that one day was quite the opposite of what he had expected, his subscriber rates increased by almost five times than normal. The crazy thing was that there was little to no impact in traffic, meaning that people didn’t mind the pop-up.
He also mentioned that the readers on DPS didn’t mind the popup whereas those on PB did. This was due to the fact that they were both complete different types of readers. So Darren runs popups on DPS which only appear once for a visitor to the site and he doesn’t run any on PB. Read the full story how he drastically increased his subscribers.
I am still on the fence about whether to use popups or not but I guess the best way is to actually test it and let the results speak for themselves.
Blogging Lesson #4: There are MANY ways to Make Money Blogging
But it’s not quick or easy
There is always more than one way to skin a cat.
The one thing to learn from this is to diversify your income sources and not be dependent on any single one of them as Darren once was. He primarily used to make money from Google Adsense and one day when the search engine algorithms got changed, his income stopped for a while and then it lead him to diversify PB’s income sources.
Some of the ways to make money blogging are;
- Affiliate Marketing
- Selling/Flipping Blogs
- Continuity Programs
Have a read of the 12 Blogging Income Streams and Darren’s 10 year overnight success to get a further insight into monetizing your blog.
This hit me home, I am a big fan of diversification and building different funnels to grow your income so that you are never dependent on any one particular source.
Blogging Lesson #5: Create something to SELL
People love to buy but they hate to be sold.
Following on from diversifying your blogging income source Darren moved to talking about creating something of your own to sell as it will keep your readers on your website and also increase your authority amongst the readers. Not forgetting the obvious reason, it increases your income.
Darren showed some stats of how almost 40% of his current earnings were from ebook sales. The wonderful thing was that he could sell the ebooks as singles or by bundles in different categories, topics, authors. He could also add other ebooks as bonuses to provide more value to the buyer.
So one of the biggest focus in creating an income from your blog should actually be creating something to sell.
I love Information products and how they can be easily leveraged to not only create an income but also to provide massive value. I have been putting off writing one for a while now but after hearing Darren’s advice, that project is about to take a new life.
Blogging Lesson #6: Successful Blogs – Inform, Inspire, Interact
If you were looking for the silver bullet for successful blogs, this is it!
This is the formula that Darren has used over and over again to make PB and DPS as successful as they are at this moment.
The first part of the formula is to create blog posts that Inform your readers. For example the how to posts, the review posts, the new thing and more in the similar criteria.
The second one is to Inspire with posts of different examples or case studies
The third being blog post that help you Interact with your readers, some of them could be challenge posts.
I never thought successful blogging could ever be put in such a simple formula. I have normally focused on the information posts but little on the inspirational and interaction creating, looks like they will be added to my blogging arsenal.
Blogging Lesson #7: Look for SPARKS
This is the reason that explains how Darren does all the things in his business and life.
“You should be doing what gives you Energy” – Darren Rowse. He mentioned about how the 31 days to a build a better blog came about. There was an idea he had in his mind and was keeping him awake at night so he decided to ask the readers whether they would like him to post a 31 day blog post series and it was the post that had got the most comments and people were giving him back the energy and asking him what was the first day.
So whatever you are doing, either be blogging or other activities you should identify what gives you energy (sparks) and follow that spark to accomplish it to the best of your abilities. Also try to figure out what gives your readers’ energy and what creates sparks for them, as that is where you should be focusing on.
Become a prolific problem solver by becoming hyper aware of problems around you, as it will not only give you heaps and heaps of ideas on what to blog about but also will give you different ideas on creating products as well.
I always used to wonder how do all the awesome people like Darren manage to achieve all that they have and still have time and energy left to do more, I thought they were following their passion but there was still some doubt left till I heard Darren.
Sometimes you don’t know what your passion is but if you follow the sparks then you are sure to find what gives you energy and leading to a better blog.
Blogging Lesson #8: Be ACTIVE
“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there” – Will Rogers
Darren told us about one question that we should be asking ourselves everyday and that is “What Action Will I take Today that Will Grow My Blog?” It’s about lots and lots of small, consistent actions over a long time that have the Big Impact. When trying to answer the question you could be thinking about
- Content Creation
- Community Management
- Promotional Activities
And to monetize your blog take the 15 Minutes a Day Challenge – Spend 15 minutes per day doing something to take you a step towards your blogging goals. This is how Darren was able to create the first ever ebook for DPS, he spent 15 minutes everyday for three months.
I loved the tip of the 15 minute a day challenge and have started working on a project that I long avoided and that is of creating a membership site. I invite you to take the 15 Minutes a Day Challenge and see what difference it makes.
Blogging Lesson #9: Do Good
At the end of the day it is about helping out others and doing Good.
Darren went to Tanzania in 2011 part of a Blog Project for a non for profit CBM Australia – part of the world’s largest organisation working with people with disabilities – with a particular focus upon the poor. He spent around a week in a disability hospital.
I hardly can put the stories he shared in words, so have a look at the video of Darren talking about his final reflections of the trip.
I believe that every single one of us was born to help each other out and Do Good. I was moved and inspired by Darren’s story about his Tanzania trip to do as much Good as I can.
Blogging Lesson #10: Aim to have a BIG impact upon the readers you already have
It takes the same time and effort to think small when compared to Think BIG.
The last lesson Darren talked about was to provide more value and have a BIG impact upon your current readers as it is by doing such you will be able to grow and build you blog faster and create a healthy income. There is no point in chasing your future readers when your current ones are not even being taken care of.
Simply put, Love your current readers and you will able to achieve your blogging goals.
For me this was the magic silver bullet everyone keeps chasing, the more I take care and love my current readers the more my blog is going to grow.
After going through the 10 Blogging Lessons, he quickly went about sharing 7 Quick Blogging Tips. After going through the tips you will realize that he doesn’t know how to count, hehe.
Jenish Pandya is a blogger who likes to help people earn a recurring income online, with business strategies and techniques.