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Curing the Dreaded Blogger’s Malaise

This guest post is by Steff of steffmetal.com.

Right now, your blog is still new and shiny and everything is awesome, but one day, you’ll be hit with an unsettling dread at the thought of writing another post; the sudden realization that you just don’t care about deleting all the spam comments; the sense that you have nothing left to say to the Internet.

But you love blogging, right? So how come you feel like quitting? Don’t worry—you’re not alone. I could come up with a catchy name for this malaise, like the “blog-bonic plague”, but “Blogger’s Burnout” is now practically an industry term, being written up in the medical journals as I type, so we’ll stick with that.

Signs you’ve caught the dreaded Blogger’s Malaise (or Blogger’s Burnout, or Blog-bonic plague):

  • You haven’t posted in a couple of weeks.
  • You’re out of ideas.
  • Looking at your backup list of posts ideas doesn’t inspire you—you’re still out of ideas.
  • You want to do something else.
  • Anything else.
  • Writing your blog feels like a chore.
  • I mean, you’re looking at seven weeks of smelly, sweaty, unwashed laundry and thinking “that looks like fun.”

I’ve been there—oh lordy, have I been there. I write six posts a week over three blogs, plus blogs for my writing clients. I love blogging, but it’s like eating chocolate every day—sometimes you wake up and think, “chocolate is great and all, but I’d actually rather have … a pony.” And so you go out and eat a pony instead (this is a hypothetical example).

And that’s all well and good, except that if you’re out eating ponies every day when you’ve got a year’s supply of chocolate stashed in the fridge, eventually the police and pony-rights activists are going to come after you, and all your chocolate is going to go yucky and then you don’t get any chocolate or any ponies.

If you really, truly want to be a serious blogger, you have to keep going through the malaise. If you allow yourself to be distracted by the ponies for too long, your readers will get bored of waiting for you to post the chocolate and answer their comments and they will find some other blogger to follow. But how can you post if you have nothing to say? Here are my tips for kicking the backside of Blogger’s Burnout.

Go out and do something that inspires you

I never fail to be inspired by the world around me, so when I feel bored or uninspired, I get out of the house—I read art books at the library, watch a play, visit an art gallery or craft fair, listen to a poetry reading, or bang my head at a heavy metal concert.

With this giant pot of amazing human talent and creativity bubbling over around you, how can you help but feel a new zest for your own creative outlet?

Buy an ebook about blogging

Most of what I learned about blogging I sort of figured out by accident, and when I started reading about other blogger’s techniques, I felt like slapping myself on the forehead and saying “Duh.”

Just reading about another blogger’s struggles in books like 31 Days to Build a Better Blog (ProBlogger), You Don’t Need a Job: You Need Guts (The Middle Finger Project), and the Blogger’s Guide to Freelancing (Aliventures), and learning how they solve their problems shows us we’re not on our own. You feel like you’ve made a friend.

Expand your scope

Sometimes, bloggers feel burntout because they realize they’ve written just about all they can on a topic.

If this is you—if you’ve written 400 articles about dog handling, or wedding planning, or tying balloon animals, and you just can’t face the thought of writing another post, it’s time to expand your scope.

Do you have room on your dog-handling blog for other dog topics, too? What about breeding, or housing, or reviews of dog-related products, or profiles of dogs and owners? Could you expand your blog to include training for other pets?

Do you think the readers of your balloon animal blog might also like to know about other party tricks and games? Maybe some quick and fun recipes would go down a treat. Or a “bloopers” column with reader pictures of balloon animals gone horribly wrong?

Expanding your blog’s scope allows you to open the door to fresh ideas and content. Don’t think you’re locked into a rigid niche or topic—you’re free to write about whatever you please!

Take an “Official Break”

I know you’ve been neglecting your blog for … too long now. But you obviously feel you need a break. So take one. Write a quick post to say you will be taking a breather from posting for the week, and do just that.

Don’t look at your blog. Don’t think about your blog. Don’t check your emails or moderate your comments or source new advertisers. Instead, go out to dinner with your partner, have a sleepover with some friends, go shopping, see a movie, go to a gig—hang out in the real world.

And when your week is over, come back, fresh and ready to post again. You could start with a post about all the amazing things you did over the last week.

Be wary—this is a last-ditch tactic for a quick pick-me-up. It is like sleeping next to a live hen to cure the bubonic plague—chances are once you start, you won’t be coming back. Don’t take mini-breaks all the time, and don’t take longer than a fortnight, or readers may forget about you.

Revisit your schedule (or make a schedule, if you’re one of those silly people who doesn’t have one)

Are you trying to do too much? I am always trying to do too much, so whenever I feel overwhelmed, I take a look at everything I’m doing on my blogs and decide what will give.

Are you trying to push yourself too hard? If you’re constantly letting yourself down, it’s time to reassess your schedule.

Perhaps you’re putting unrealistic demands on yourself. If you want to write five posts per week, but you can only manage two, then set your schedule at two posts per week for three months. Maybe when three months are up you can decide to increase your post rate to three or four per week.

Remember, it’s better to do one thing really well than lots of things not so well. Write one amazing article instead of four blah ones.

Whether you’ve got the Blogger’s Malaise, the Blog-bonic Plague or the Multiple Blog-personality Disorder, the best cure is to change up your normal routine and inject a little inspiration into your life.

Bloggers, what do you do when you catch the blogger’s malaise?

Note: no ponies were harmed in the writing of this post.

What can a blind metalhead chick teach you about finding your audience and kicking it with your creative business? Steff Metal might surprise you.

Finding Your Blog’s Unique Voice

This guest post is by Jeff Goins of Goins, Writer.

Your blog needs a voice.

Like Pavarotti, it can resonate with power that is full of sophistication.

 Or, like Dave Grohl, it can scream and shout with disenfranchised angst.
 It can even sing sweetly like your grandmother or quietly hum in the background like the Andy Griffith Show theme song.

But make no mistake. If you are going to build a tribe—if you’re going to relate to your audience and make a difference at all—your blog will need a voice.

Why your blog needs a voice

Your blog is not you. It is not your personality.

 It does not have your brain or your body or the sum of your life experiences. It cannot think for itself. It doesn’t have a soul.

But it needs a voice.

Your blog, regardless of how you’ve branded it, is separate from you. It can, by no means, represent all the complicated nuances of your persona.

Even if your blog is about you, it’s not you. It can’t be. Your blog is an entity that is separate from you and needs to be treated as such. Give it a voice. And make it unique.

A blog’s voice is exclusive

If you’ve been blogging for a while, you’ve probably already realized that there are certain topics on your blog that get more attention than others.

You may have even seen that people have started to associate your blog with a certain idea or theme.

 You may have vented on your blog in a burst of uncouth sarcasm and anger only to find that your influence grew, albeit accidentally. You acted ridiculous, and your audience loved you for it. Who would’ve thought?

These are all examples of blogging voices.

A voice, with respect to your blog, is a feel or style evoked in your writing that causes the reader to personalize what she is reading.

 Your readers begin to construct a person based on the voice of your blog. And
when that happens, your blog ceases to be all things to all people and becomes something very particular to a certain group of people.

And that is okay. That is the whole point.

How to create a voice for your blog

If you’re already blogging, look back at some of your most popular posts and ask yourself, “What kind of mood was I in when I wrote this? What emotions am I portraying here?”

Observe the vocabulary you used, even the punctuation and formatting style. These are all essential elements in creating a voice for your blog. The trick here is replicate what you were doing when you were successful and do it again (and again).

If you haven’t started blogging a lot, you can start from scratch: ask yourself what you want your blog to sound like.

The voice of your blog should be a natural tie-in with its goal. Here are some examples:

  • If you are selling real estate online, your blog voice might be personal, attentive to customers, and professional.
  • If you are doing technology reviews, your voice may be snarky, clever, and terse.
  • If your blog is a personal blog about your life, your voice might be sincere, passionate, and vulnerable.

A good exercise (whether you’ve been blogging for a while or are just getting started) is to brainstorm a list of 10-20 personality attributes that you want your blog to have, and then cut it down to three to five key aspects that represent your blog’s voice.

The next time you write a post, consult that list and use it as a checklist to ensure you’re writing style fits the personality you’ve created for your blog.

Next steps

If you’ve effectively created a voice for your blog, you will inevitably exclude some people (because you simply can’t write for everyone), but you will also create a more loyal readership.

A writing voice on your blog will strengthen your brand and give you focus. Furthermore, it will create a lasting impression with your readers, allowing you to better fulfill the long-term goals of your website in a more sustainable
way.

Does your blog have a unique voice? What does it sound like?

Jeff Goins is a writer, innovator, and marketing guy. He works at Adventures in Missions and blogs at Goins, Writer. You can connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.

7 Valuable Lessons Bloggers Can Learn from Construction Workers

This guest post is by Joseph Wesley of Blog Tweaks.

Did you know there are similarities between blogging and construction work? It’s true. I learned this while working as an electrician during the first six months of 2010.

You may be wondering how a marketing grad from UT Austin ended up doing electrical work, but that story is too long to tell here. More important for this post is that I also started blogging during that time.

On the job site, I dreamed about blogging while cutting wire, bending conduit, and connecting matching colored wires. I also took notes about how the construction lessons I was learning applied to blogging.

This post is a collection of those notes and reveals valuable lessons that bloggers can learn from construction workers to become better bloggers.

Lesson #1: The best way to learn is by doing

Construction workers aren’t typically reading types. Instead of reading about how to use a saw, they just start using it. A foreman never hands you a book; he hands you a bandsaw and tells you to get to work.

When it comes to blogging, the same is true. There’s only so much you can learn by reading. Eventually, you have to learn by doing.

You’re not going to start the next great blog just by reading about it. ProBlogger is a great resource for improving your blogging skills, but to really learn, the best way is to just do it.

Lesson #2: Learn how to use your tools

On a construction site, tools are a worker’s best friend. If you have 1,000 screws to screw in, using a screwdriver drill bit is faster than using a screwdriver. A lot faster.

In blogging, you also want to know how to use your tools. You need to know how to use WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Feedburner to your advantage.

The more you know about how to use these tools, the more effective you will be at blogging. To become a better blogger, take some time to become familiar with your tools. In the end, you’ll be a more effective, more successful blogger.

Lesson #3: Make sure you get it done

In construction work, you don’t get paid for thinking. And you definitely don’t get paid for talking. You get paid for the amount of Sheetrock that gets nailed into the wall, or the number of lights that get wired.

This is what construction workers call “getting it done.”

As a blogger, you need to pay attention to getting it done. You can think and talk and tweet about blogging, but that’s not what builds a successful blog.

What builds a successful blog is the time you spend writing, re-writing, promoting, guest posting, and networking. What builds a blog is accomplishing goal-oriented tasks; not just making noise on Twitter or talking to friends on Facebook.

The point is this: consistent output is more important than over-thinking or over-planning. Instead of dreaming about having a great blog, put in the hours that it takes to create great content and build meaningful relationships.

In other words, get it done.

Lesson #4: Learn from a master craftsman

In the construction world, if you want to be a great carpenter, electrician, or plumber, you need to learn from a master craftsman. If you learn from the best, you can become one of the best.

The same is true with blogging. Do you want to become a problogger? Then you need to learn from probloggers. You need to pay attention to Darren Rowse and Gary Vaynerchuk and any other probloggers that you look up to.

You need to read their posts and study how the headlines and copy are crafted. You should pay attention to how they lay out their blogs, and how they build their email lists.You need to learn everything that you can from the best
bloggers.

To become a master craftsman, you need to learn from a master craftsman; to become a problogger, you need to learn from the probloggers.

Lesson #5: Don’t forget to plan ahead

On a construction site, it’s very important to plan ahead. You don’t start tearing walls down or bolting panels in without a plan.

First, you visualize the steps and figure out what tools and materials you’ll need. Then you plan what to do first and what to do after that. Otherwise, you might cut through the beam that you’re standing on or bolt in the wrong panel
first and need to tear it out. It happens.

When you first start a blog, you may not have planned that much. But once you’ve been blogging for a while, you need to learn how to think ahead.

Maybe you need to post twice per week, and you need to write one guest post per month. Maybe you need to devote time to write a series of posts.

Whatever dream destination you have for your blog, eventually, you need to plan how you’re going to get there.

Lesson #6: Become a craftsman

Craftsmen don’t settle for just getting the job done. Craftsmen pay attention to details. They line up every screw and level every pipe to make their work look good and work as well as possible.

As a blogger, you want to be a craftsman. You want to pay attention to the details in every post. I once heard someone say that if you edit your writing 50 times, it’s 2% better than the version edited 49 times.

In blogging, you want every post to be 2% better. This means that you need to take time to craft better headlines. And it means that you need to edit every post more than once before hitting Publish.

Martyn Chamberlain of Two Hour Blogger says that you need to put at least two hours into each post. That’s a good rule of thumb if you want to be a craftsman. If you’re writing a guest post, you should take even more time than that.

If you want to create memorable content, you need to become a craftsman.

Lesson #7: Building something worthwhile takes time

Building a conference center that seats 5,000 people takes time. You look at it month after month, dreaming about the day that it will be finished. That’s what its like to build something, and that’s why Rome wasn’t built overnight.

Building something worthwhile takes time. If you want to build a popular blog, it won’t happen overnight.

Your first posts lay the foundation. The posts after that build the framework. Each guest post puts up more walls. Eventually, the blog gets built. But a blog with 10,000 or more subscribers doesn’t get built overnight. Blogging takes time and patience.

Sure, you can take some shortcuts and drive traffic to a blog in a short amount of time. You can also put a tent up in a couple of hours. But if you really want to build a blog that will last, you need to take the time to do it right. In the end, it will be worth it.

Bonus Lesson: Don’t forget your hard hat

Construction workers are required by law to wear hard hats. Hard hats protect construction workers from hitting their heads on steel beams, and from falling objects like wrenches and drills. It’s a good law.

In blogging, hitting your head is the equivalent of making a mistake, and falling objects are the equivalent of negative comments. Here’s the thing—it’s going to happen. You can’t blog without making mistakes or being criticized. You might write a post that you regret. Or a subscriber may write a hate email that you want to digitally burn.

Don’t worry about it. That’s why you’re wearing a digital hard hat. Interestingly, the more successful you are, the more haters there will be. Don’t worry about being criticized or making a mistake. That’s what your hard hat is for.

So what do you think? Are you ready to get it done?

Joseph is a marketing grad from UT Austin who started blogging at JosephWesley.com exactly one year ago. Recently, he started Blog Tweaks to provide technical services for bloggers. Check out the site to see how you can get your blog tweaked.

3 Tweaks that Helped Double My Blog Traffic Almost Overnight

This guest post is by Onibalusi Bamidele of YoungPrePro.com.

Like you, I really love to get traffic to my blog, and I’ll do anything just to make sure my traffic increases. Recently, I made several changes to my blog that doubled my traffic almost overnight. The tips I’m about to give you won’t cost you thousands of dollars—in fact, implementing these tips won’t cost you a cent. And they can easily be implemented by any blogger in any niche.

1. Capitalizing on my bio

One thing many bloggers don’t know is that irrespective of who you are, you’re a very unique individual with at least one or two factors that will greatly interest your readers. By making use of these factors, you can easily boost your traffic.

So many people believe there isn’t any importance in making themselves known clearly—we’ve all seen blogs that have no About page. But it is evident that the most successful bloggers are those who make themselves known to their readers. A great testament to this point is Pat Flynn from SmartPassiveIncome.com.

I’m not talking only about having an About page: I’m talking about showcasing your bio, linked to your About page, on every page of your blog. By doing this, I’ve made my About page the most viewed page on my blog, and my blog traffic has increased tremendously.

What I did differently was showcase my About page on every single page of my blog while indicating clearly why readers should read my blog. The area “above the fold” on every blog is the section of your page that your readers see when they first arrive, without scrolling down. What I did was make my author bio the number one thing readers will see when they visit my blog. I highlighted my success and unique factors (which is making $5000 online monthly and being only 17), then linked to my About page so that readers could learn more about me.

My reason for making this change was just to make myself more known to my readers, yet my traffic skyrocketed overnight. I started seeing more traffic to my blog, more links to my blog, and more emails from readers.

2. Changing my homepage’s title

Maybe you have also seen the advice that having an optimized homepage title is the best thing to do for your blog. But which is better: having an optimized homepage title, or a more solid personal brand? I’ll choose a more solid personal brand. Visitors who reach my blog by typing its name into a search engine spend the highest amount of time on my blog and, because of a single change I made, my blog name is now the most-searched term that brings people to my blog from the search engines.

What I simply did was put the name of my blog first, before the keywords in my homepage title. By doing this my traffic increased in leap and bounds without my search engine traffic being affected (despite what most people will tell you).

My former homepage title was something along the lines of Young Entrepreneur Blog|Young Blogger| Achieving Online Success. I simply changed it to ìYoungPrePro — Young Entrepreneur Blog| Helping You Achieve Online Success. You’d be amazed to see the traffic increase I got from search engines through searches on my blog name—as well as through direct visits to my blog. Prioritizing your readers and brand ahead of the search engines can go a long way to increase traffic to your blog.

3. Displaying my income and traffic report

This worked like charm. My income and traffic reports are the most popular articles on my blog. My blog posts average about 300 views in one month (except for the really exceptional ones), but all my income reports have exceeded thousands of views. In fact, my first income report has been viewed almost 3000 times, generating more daily traffic and subscribers.

I know there is a limit to what every blogger is comfortable sharing, and some people detest the act of sharing things like their income on their blog. My point is to try to be more personal by using personal case studies on your blog. I blog about making money online and marketing your business, so there’s no case study as realistic and relevant as showing people how much money I make and how much traffic I get—as well as how I do it.

Try to look for a way to show your readers that you truly know what you’re saying while being more personal. My income and traffic in my reports aren’t just bragging—I also teach people extensively how I achieved those results. Readers really don’t care about what you do; they only care about how you do it.

Are you ready to double your traffic?

These tactics aren’t something I just guessed—they weren’t my original ideas. I learned the first and third tips from Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income. They work well for him, and the fact that it works for me is another great reason why you need to give it a try. No amount of reading and no amount of new tips will help you if you never implement what you read, so take your time, and start implementing right away.

Of course, if you have other traffic tweaks you can share with us, we’d love to hear them!

Onibalusi Bamidele is a 17 year old entrepreneur making over $5000 online monthly. Download his free ebook on How He Makes Over $3000 Online Monthly and visit his blog at YoungPrePro.com to learn more of what he does.

Bloggers Don’t Predict the Future

This guest post is by Chris Kahler of BloggerITUS.com.

Unless you believe in your abilities to have prophetic visions, you likely can’t predict the future. As a blogger (or hopeful blogger), you need to realize that attempting to see what your future business has in store is a waste of time and effort. Rather than trying to predict the future of your business, you should be pacing the future of your business.

Bloggers don’t predict: they pace the future

Future pacing is a crucial part of blogging. The most valuable traffic, that comes in the highest quantity, is from those who have decided to tag along with you on your blogging journey as subscribers both to your RSS feed and newsletter, friends on your Facebook page, and followers of your Twitter account.

So, the thing you should be asking yourself if you want to build a whopping reader list is this:

What do I need to do to get people to stick around?

For starters, you can follow the simple guidelines I’ve outlined for you here, and for your long term improvement (if you really want to get good at this) you can subscribe to my RSS feed using the link below.

I just gave you your first example of what future pacing is. If you click on the Subscribe link with the thought that you’re going to receive great content in the future, then you’ve become a reader of my blog not only at the present, but for the future as well.

Here are the other future pacing guidelines that will keep people constantly coming back for more. These aren’t the only rules, but they are a good general set to keep in mind when planning out ways to keep your readers involved at present, and coming back for more.

Never blog it all at once

Keep your blog posts centralized around your chosen topic. If you are blogging about general ideas regarding a topic (as I am in this blog post), don’t get so specific on the blog post that you make it a novel. Keep your job at being general.

Here’s why you want to do that: your blog is a continuing project. You will have many days in the future to cover the specifics. Make sure to mention these things in your blog posts. People like the idea that such value is ongoing and that they can discover something new at frequent intervals rather than being pounded in the brain by a novel-length blog post.

Don’t be afraid to ask

When you start a blog, keep in mind the primary point of it. You are not blogging for computers, income, or business. You are blogging for people. Having content that helps people is primary goal number one. When you hit that goal, the others will follow accordingly, and by focusing first on people, you’ll never step across the line. After all, people can sniff a blatant marketing scheme from miles away.

When you find yourself creating content for people that you know is valuable, you will not only want people to read it, but you will feel obligated to encourage them to read. Asking for subscribers is not a bad thing if your intent is focused completely on helping them. Honestly, by not asking you might be doing them more harm than good … what’s one more quality feed or email going to do to hurt them? It won’t do any harm, but never knowing your awesome ideas will bring more long-term suffering than not finding the knowledge at all!

Every blog post should plant seeds

What do a good blog post and a good television show have in common? Well, when you watch a series you really like and it ends, what’s the next thing that comes up (besides the credits) that always keeps you coming back for more?

Of course, the “On the Next Episode” tidbit. Great blog posts follow the same principle of seeding people’s interest, though they do it more subtly than a television show. Sometimes it’s okay to highlight the next post, for a series or something, but generally speaking, you want to drop cues here and there on your blog about upcoming content that readers should look out for.

In the last post I wrote, I mentioned in a general sense the three components that are always involved when it comes to earning money online. Now, that was a general post that set the stage for future content that digs deeper into that idea. Readers can come to expect those posts, I can plan to write them, and together we can unfold concepts for practical money-making applications.

Just like a television show, my audience knows what’s likely coming up, they’ve got “scenes” or ideas that have been planted in their minds … but also, like a television show, they don’t know what to fully expect. That is what keeps people coming back! The lure of great future content, the consistent reason to stick around, keeps them sitting on the edge of their seats feeling for the next amazing post that’s bound to hit the RSS feed!

Next steps

I’m not one to leave you hanging. I’ll give you a few starting points and things will unfold from there:

Step 1: Find the top five

Assuming that you know what you want to blog about, find the top five general topics in your blog’s category. For example, the five general topics I have for blogging are: Systems, Profit Equation, Instant Massive Action, Pacing, and Content Generating. I’ve covered the first three on my blog, the fourth I’ve obviously decided to branch out, and the fifth is on the horizon.

Step 2: Break it down

Take each general topic and break them down into between three and five general sub-parts. Remember, your first posts need to generalize your upcoming content. You have plenty of time to home in on specifics. That doesn’t mean your posts need to lack quality, originality, or be a waste of time for the reader. That just means you need to give a little info but also reserve a little info; save the details for more specific, later posts.

This tactic is especially good if you know what needs to be covered on a general basis but don’t really know the specifics yet. You’ve set pacing for future content and have given yourself time to learn what you want to blog about.

Step 3: Plant the seeds

Determine ways to incorporate seeds of the later topics into the present topic you’re discussing. In my first blog post about creating systems I mention in the introduction that “you are about to learn how to apply my methods for systematizing your productivity work flow, building each system you create around the profit equation needed to grow your income.” The italicized part was future pacing for the next post about the profit equation. Inside that post I drop seeds as well.

Step 4: Create action

Create an action for each of the three to five sub-parts of your general topics. If you can find a way to create applicable steps for not only learning but doing the parts that make up your five main topics, then you haven’t wasted your readers’ time.

Bloggers are meant to deliver information that’s not only informative, but useful. Always try to find relevant actions that others can take, even if those actions might seem trivial. If you can tie in a good reason why readers should complete the action, you are not only building your own ability to call a person to a specific action, but you are conditioning your readers to taking action on your ideas.

Do you pace your blog for the future? Please share your techniques with us in the comments.

Chris Kahler is an underground marketer diversifying his business into the field of blogging. He has years of experience online, and is currently focusing his effort on his new pride and joy, BloggerITUS.com. You can subscribe to his RSS and follow his recently created Twitter account to legally stalk him and learn everything you need to know about making money on the internet.

How to Build a Thriving Blog by Being Yourself

This guest post is by Natalie Sisson of The Suitcase Entrepreneur.

When you first start blogging it can be difficult to find your real voice. It can also be unnerving to put yourself out there and say what you really think. Like many blogger,s you probably try to be appropriate, politically correct, and inoffensive in your blog posts.

Well, let me tell you that if you want to be just like everyone else, that’s a guaranteed approach to get you there.

personal blogging needs you

Image is author's own

Of course though, you don’t. You don’t want to be like everyone else because you are unique. You have important things to say and you need to say them in a way that’s true to who you are.

If you want a thriving blog, one where your adoring fans come back time and time again, and hang off your every word, you need to be you.

Unabashedly, shamelessly, wonderfully, completely transparently, totally, authentically you.

Why?

People relate to people. They’ll relate to a real human being, telling their story, living their life, and sharing it in a creative, amusing, entertaining, and truthful way. That way, they get to come along on the journey.

“Be yourself, everyone else is taken.” —Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde was a smart man, and he knew what he was talking about when he said this. The biggest failure I see among bloggers is trying to fit in. I’ve been guilty of it myself. You get caught up in reading other people’s blogs and trying to emulate what they’re doing, and as a result you end up with a mix of nothing spectacular at all.

In order to be yourself you have to take risks, to accept that you are not perfect, and to be courageous enough to say what you really think. People will love you for it. It takes a huge amount of bravery to be original instead of a pointless replication of someone else.

“Be who you are, and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”—Dr. Seuss

I personally have seen the most success when I’ve written from my heart. My community resonates most with me when I tell them how I screwed up, that I was scared, that I didn’t achieve something I set out to do.

It makes me more human. It shows my vulnerability and people get that. They want that. They buy into your mission and your vision, and want to follow your steps and see you succeed.

I’m not talking about writing a revealing post about your recent trip to the hospital or penning a long relationship saga. I’m talking about revealing just enough to build loyalty, respect, and admiration among your followers for baring yourself, admitting your hard-fought battles and costly mistakes.

Follow that up with the lessons you learned, pass on your new-found wisdom to your readers, and you’re on a sure path to blogging success.

Authenticity + creativity + massive value + key takeaways = a thriving blog

My winning equation above has taken me a long time to solve. I don’t always get it right (see vulnerability and truthfulness in action right here), however, I do look to solve a problem every time I write and this equation helps immensely in keeping me focused. I also aim to be engaging, genuine, and grateful.

Here are some examples of bloggers who I believe have a truly unique voice and use it extremely well to create a community of raving fans unique to their personality and writing style. Warning: Some of these people may offend with their use of swear words or abstract opinions. But for me, tt’s all part of their charm and what sets them apart.

With a blog named The Middle Finger Project you already know that Ashley Ambirge is going to deliver up some serious attitude and in-your-face content. That’s what’s so refreshing about her candid, quick-witted posts about leaving corporate America behind to do your own thang!

“Become known for something–rather than trying to become known for everything. Because frankly, that’s impossible.”—Ashely Ambirge

John Falchetto appears to have a wonderful life, living in the French countryside and coaching expats on how to become immensely successful in business even if they feel isolated living a world away from home. The thing is he genuinely understands their problems and challenges and writes compelling content on his blog Expat Life Coach that speaks to the heart of those who read it and need it.

“When I first started out in business in 2003, I was foolish. Although I had quit my corporate job in PR and I am all for quitting when things really don’t go your way, looking back I would have done it differently.”—John Falchetto

Kent Healy is a creative thinker who is always questioning why things are as they are in the world and challenging you to do the same. He blogs about unconventional ways of thinking, acting and living and makes you focus on what matters on The Uncommon Life.

“There is immense value in being able to think and act independently in a world of conformity and convention – in fact, all innovation and novelty depend on it. It can be challenging to free ourselves from the explicit and implicit forces that keep our brain in the box, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.”—Kent Healy

Emergent by Design is the brain child of futurist Venessa Miemis who has an entirely unique take on the intersection of technology, communication, and culture, and attracts intellectuals, academics, and big-picture thinkers to her blog and with them a wide array of opposing comments.

“Then I started poking around in Twitter and wondering if it’s a complex adaptive system and if it might actually grow to become a global human consciousness, of sorts. Lately I’ve been looking at how design thinking can be used to better understand human behavior and facilitate innovation.”—Venessa Miemis

I could not leave out my idol, Seth Godin, who really needs no introduction. On his self-titled blog Seth has the uncanny ability to write the shortest blog posts with the most substance I’ve ever witnessed. His straight-up, insightful, brilliantly worded daily posts draw thousands of views and shares because he creates art and then ships it, and inspires you to do the same.

“What I am writing about is the ability of each of us, without authority or permission, to do work that matters, to have an impact and to create a place for ourselves in a society that’s brainwashed us into doing something that’s an easily replaced commodity. A big part of that is acting like an artist. Being personal, making change, communicating a vision.”—Seth Godin

What makes you unique?

While it’s not for me to tell you what your “special sauce” is, you do need to find it and then cook up a fantastic recipe that allows you to create mouth watering content for your blog that readers devour.

If you’re nervous to hit Publish on a post that you’ve really put a lot of thought into and that reveals a little bit more of you than normal, then congratulations. That’s a great sign. It shows you’re developing your USP—Unique Special Proposition.

When you get clear on what that is, you’ll see how imperative it is to making you stand out. You’ll also witness your blog community react strongly by sharing your content across the social media sphere and commenting like crazy. Then you really know you’re doing the right thing—you are in fact being yourself.

Here are some questions to ask yourself and others who know you to develop your USP:

  1. What are you better at than anyone else?
  2. What do you enjoy doing the most?
  3. What do (or could) you provide that no one else is providing?
  4. What annoys people the most about your industry or blog area?
  5. What is remarkable about you?
  6. Do you have an unusual combination of elements?
  7. Do you have a big personality?

Now write your USP statement. Take action. You can look to this as the reminder of what makes you distinctive and unique by following this format:

I am unique and different because I provide [USP] which no one else in my field provides. No one else can or will provide this because [insert reason].

Put yourself into the equation

I talked about my winning formula above. Now it’s time for you to write your own. So how do you go about sharing your new-found USP on your blog straight away?

Get personal

There’s nothing like sharing a personal experience you’ve had and relating it to the topic of your blog. If you write on health and fitness, for example, then talking about your own journey of going vegan or training for a marathon will be much more inspiring then simple how-to tips. Break this out into a series on how you achieved the results you did and you have a reason for people to come back to your blog.

Listen to your instincts

If you believe strongly about a topic related to your blog, but you’ve been nervous about sharing it with the world, then there’s a good chance other people will find your personal stance interesting. Strong opinions always illicit a response—good or bad. The point is you want to get people talking, and you want them to engage, to think critically, and to respond because they care.

Get trendy

One of the best ways to show your USP is to take a current popular topic and put your spin on it. Justin Bieber may not be of interest to you, but is there something that particularly irritates or fascinates you about his meteoric rise into music stardom? Is there a post you can write that takes a lesson from his story that other people just aren’t seeing?

“If you do things well, do them better. Be daring, be first, be different, be just.”—Anita Roddick

Natalie Sisson is a Suitcase Entrepreneur and Adventurer who shares creative ways to run your business from anywhere in the world. She is passionate about using online tools, social media and outsourcing to create more freedom in business and adventure in life.

How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise and Get Paid to Change the World

This guest post is by Jon Morrow of Copyblogger.

After all, that’s the dream, right?

Forget the mansions and limousines and other trappings of Hollywood-style wealth. Sure, it would be nice, but for the most part, we bloggers are simpler souls with much kinder dreams.

We want to quit our jobs, spend more time with our families, and finally have time to write. We want the freedom to work when we want, where we want. We want our writing to help people, to inspire them, to change them from the inside out.

It’s a modest dream, a dream that deserves to come true, and yet a part of you might be wondering…

Will it?

Do you really have what it takes to be a professional blogger, or are you just being dumb? Is it realistic to make enough money from this to quit your job, or is that just silly? Can you really expect people to fall in love with what you write, or is that just wishful thinking?

Sure, it’s fun to dream about your blog taking off and changing your life, but sometimes you wonder if it’s just that: a dream. This is the real world, and in the real world, dreams don’t really come true.

Right?

Well, let me tell you a little story…

How I quit my job

Jon's van

My van

In April of 2006, I was hit by a car going 85 miles an hour.

I didn’t see him coming, and I don’t remember much about the accident, but I do remember being pulled out of my minivan with my shirt on fire. The front end of the van was torn off, gasoline was everywhere, and my legs were broken in 14 places.

For the next three months, I had nothing to do but endure the pain and think about my life. I thought about my childhood. I thought about my dreams. I thought about my career.

And overall, I decided I didn’t like the way things were going.

So I quit.

I sold everything I owned. I stopped paying most of my bills. I turned in my letter of resignation, worked my two weeks, and then disappeared without saying goodbye.

Hearing about my insanity, a friend called and asked me, “Well, what are you going to do now?”

“I don’t know,” I told him. “Maybe start a blog.”

And so that’s what I did.

For the next three months, I didn’t just tinker around with blogging. I dedicated myself to it. I started work at 8 AM in the morning, and I kept going until 11 PM at night. I didn’t watch television. I didn’t see my friends. From morning till night, I was writing, reading, and connecting with other bloggers. Nothing else.

Within a month, I had On Moneymaking off the ground, and within two months, it was getting 2,000 visitors a day and Performancing nominated it for the best business/money blog of the year. A couple of months after that, Brian Clark asked me to become the Associate Editor of Copyblogger, and so I sold On Moneymaking for five figures and went to work at one of the most popular blogs at the world.

And amazingly, that’s just the beginning of the story.

How I moved to paradise

Have you ever woken up one day and realized you secretly despise everything about where you live?

The weather is horrible. Your neighbors are jerks. You don’t like inviting anyone to your home, because it’s always a wreck, and you’re ashamed of how it looks.

Well, that’s exactly what happened to me in January of 2009. I was sitting in my pathetic apartment, wrapped up in blankets to keep warm, trying to get some work done on the computer, when it struck me how monumentally stupid it was.

I was a full-time blogger, for God’s sakes. I could do my work from anywhere in the world. Why on Earth was I living in this hellhole?

The only problem was I had no idea where I wanted to go, but a couple of weeks later, the telephone rang, and it was an old friend who had retired to Mazatlan, Mexico. As usual, he was calling to gloat about the weather and the food and the general superiority of the Mexican lifestyle, but instead of just suffering through it this time, I stopped him and said, “No, don’t tell me any more. I’m moving there.”

Jon's office

My office

“What? When?” he stammered.

“I don’t know exactly when,” I told him, “but I’m starting right now.”

Two months later, I took a one-week trip to scout it out and look for places to live. When I got back, I started selling all of my stuff, packing the rest of it into storage, and saying goodbye to friends. Almost one year to the day after our phone call, I hopped in the car and drove just shy of 3,000 miles to my new beachfront condo in the finest resort in Mazatlan.

As I write this, I’m sitting on my balcony with my laptop, watching (no kidding) dolphins jumping out in the Pacific. It’s a sunny day, there’s a nice breeze, and I’m thinking about ordering a piña colada from the restaurant downstairs.

Lucky me, right?

Well, what might surprise you is I left out a piece of the story. It’s the part where I have a fatal disease, I can’t move from the neck down, and yet I essentially get paid to help people. Let’s talk about that part next.

How I get paid to change the world

You know what’s funny?

Jon

Yours truly

The worst part about having a disease like SMA isn’t how everyone treats you like a charity case. It’s not the frustration, anger, or depression. It’s not even the inability to reach over and pinch a cute girl’s butt when you want to (although that’s pretty bad).

No, the worst part is the freakin’ bills.  The doctors. The medication. The nurses.

I added it all up, and the total cost of keeping me alive in the US was $127,000 a year. That’s not rent. That’s not food. That’s just medical expenses.

Granted, I didn’t actually have to pay all that. I had private insurance, Medicaid, other government aid programs, but all that support comes at a price: they control you. The government allotted me only $700 a month to live on, and I had to spend every single cent above that on medical expenses, or they would cut me off.

So for years, that’s what I did. If I made $5,000 one month, I set aside $700 for living expenses, and I spent the other $4,300 on medical bills. Nothing was left. Ever.

And eventually, I got sick of it.

I wanted to make money without having to worry about losing my healthcare. I wanted to take care of my family, instead of them always having to take care of me. I wanted to actually live somewhere nice, not some ratty little apartment built for folks below the poverty line.

The only problem was, it just wasn’t possible for me in US. No matter how I played with the numbers, I couldn’t make it work. So, I did something crazy:

I quit Medicaid. I moved to Mexico. I stopped worrying about myself at all and started a business based on one simple idea:

Helping people.

I found up-and-coming writers who wanted a mentor, and I trained them. I found businesses who wanted to cash in on social media, and I developed their strategy. I found bloggers who wanted more traffic, and I created a course on how to get it.

In exchange, they paid me what they could. Some folks gave me $50 an hour and others $300 an hour, but I treated them all the same, and I dedicated myself to making their dreams a reality.

The results?

Within two months, I was making so much money so fast PayPal shut down my account under suspicions of fraudulent activity. Today, not only am I making more than enough to take care of myself, but a couple of months ago, I got uppity and bought my father a car.

Do you understand how precious that is? For a guy who can’t move from the neck down to buy his father a car?

And the best part is, I’m not making money doing mindless drudgery. I’m changing people’s lives.

Every day, I get emails from readers who say my posts have changed their thinking. Every day, I get emails from students who say my advice has changed their writing. Every day, I get emails from clients who say my strategies have changed the way they do business.

I can’t really believe it. Normally, a guy like me would be wasting away in a nursing home somewhere, watching television and waiting to die, but here I am speaking into a microphone and essentially getting paid to change the world. If my fingers worked, I’d pinch myself.

And here’s the thing:

I don’t want it for just me. I want it for you too.

The reason I told you this whole story wasn’t just to brag but also to convince you of one incontrovertible point:

YOU CAN DO THIS!

You want to quit your job and become a professional blogger?

You can.

You want to travel around the world, living life to its fullest?

You can.

You want to dedicate your every hour to helping people and making the world a better place?

You can.

Because listen … I know it’s horribly cliché, but if I can quit my job, risk the government carting me off to a nursing home because I can’t afford my own healthcare, convince my poor mother to abandon her career and drive my crippled butt 3,000 miles to a foreign country, and then make enough money to support myself, my mother, my father, and an entire nursing staff using nothing but my voice, then what can you accomplish if you really set your mind to it?

My guess: pretty much anything.

No, it won’t be easy. At some point, I guarantee you’ll want to quit. I guarantee people will treat you like you’re insane. I guarantee you’ll cry yourself to sleep, wondering if you made a horrible mistake.

But never stop believing in yourself. The world is full of naysayers, all of them eager to shout you down at the slightest indication you might transcend mediocrity, but the greatest sin you can commit is to yourself become one of them. Our job isn’t to join that group, but to silence it, to accomplish things so great and unimaginable that its members are too awed to speak.

You can do it.

I believe in you.

So get started.

Right freaking now.

Jon Morrow is Associate Editor of Copyblogger. If you’d like to learn more about what it really takes to become a popular blogger, check out his free videos on guest blogging.

5 Tornado Ingredients that’ll Ensure Your Next Post Turns Viral

This guest post is by Martyn Chamberlin of twohourblogger.com.

You know what it’s like to blunder into an article that seizes your attention?

I do mean seize. Not something that charms your gaze for thirty seconds, then falls apart. I mean something you are absolutely compelled to read. Don’t misunderstand me to mean flicking through the bullets and skimming some juice. I’m talking about the business of being perfectly glued to every word.

Image used with permission

In such a construction, the blog post is a dense nugget of gold that cannot be ignored. It forces you to leave a red-hot comment. It induces you to shout and thank the writer from the bottom of your heart. It literally changes your day. It refuses to be forgotten.

Content that demands such behavior is termed viral. If you ever encountered such content, I need say no more—you know precisely what I’m talking about.

You don’t grudge reading this sort of content. It reads itself to you. You don’t guiltily sense a squandered ten minutes’ precious living. You return to your labors fresher and jubilant.

Have you ever contemplated the fate of viral content? I tell you, it spreads. It gets an unholy amount of likes and retweets. It hogs traffic and steals comments. It snatches email subscriptions and hugs them forever.

In the opening three months of my blog, I experienced the sensation of having more than a thousand people read a single article. It was enough to kill a better man than I.

Traffic is power, and power is addictive. If you resemble the average healthy blogger, you crave to write just one article that spreads like wildfire. If you more resemble the likes of an obsessed writer, you dream of constituting wildfire every single time you hit Publish.

Regardless of how gravely Blogging Syndrome has stricken you, there are five tornado ingredients that ensure your next post turns viral.

1. Steal your first 50-100 subscribers in solid guest posting

If your blog already has subscribers, you can skitter past this step. But the opening prescript to viral content is building an audience. It doesn’t have to be a big one—but it’s important in getting step two right.

Play your cards wisely and you’ll breeze through this step quickly. My brand-new blog had 89 subscribers after I appeared on ProBlogger. Even if you’re a painter or dentist, write a guest post for ProBlogger. You don’t have to be “professional.” If you’re a blogger at all, you’ve some fresh fodder to share with the community. Readers will subscribe to your blog because after all, some of them are painters and dentists too. I know this for a fact!

2. Write what your audience is passionate about

Hands down, this is the single most important component to viral content.

Nobody cares what you’re passionate about. If you write with gusto and expect every one to catch your enthusiasm, you’ll fail. As Sonia Simone likes to say, just because you’re a serial fangirl of broccoli ice cream doesn’t mean you’ll be able to persuade anybody to buy it. Don’t bleed your dreams and enthusiasm on the screen and assume it’ll rub into your readers. It usually doesn’t.

The fundamental key to crafting viral content is to write what your audience needs to read.

Pay close attention to what your subscribers talk about. Read their comments and blog posts. Talk to them through email and Twitter. Tickle their pulse. Learn what keeps them awake at night.

Once you have a sense of their problems, write about it. Confirm their suspicions. Allay their fears. Encourage their beliefs. Support their ambitions. Reveal their mistakes. In a word, be viral.

3. Develop a smashing headline

Ninety percent of bloggers don’t understand the crucial job their headlines play. On social networks and email subscriptions, the headline is the first or only thing people see. It needs to be bang-up for them to click. There’s lots of noise on the Internet and you need to dynamite your way into people’s attention.

Take your time. Do research. Analyze synonyms. Write and rewrite. Sleep on it. Choose nouns, adjectives, and adverbs that are clever, unique, evil, exciting, extraordinary, provocative, or stimulating. Example: it’s not every morning you see “tornado” in a headline. It catches your eye, see?

4. Don’t write for just your audience

In order for your content to spread outside your own network, craft it to suite a large audience. This doesn’t mean you become generic and lose your flavor. Rather, make the article stand alone without a lot of necessary introductions and inside information.

In short, a total stranger needs to be able to understand and benefit from your article without having to read six preceding articles. I visit blogs that don’t make sense because there’s too tight a flow from the last five months. It’s very difficult to get bulky, presumed knowledge off the ground. Viral content must stand alone.

Write with a newbie’s eyes. Those are the ones you need to attract. Once you get a complete stranger to properly relate to your content, your regular readers will relate to it too. If you wordsmith your content correctly, everything falls into place beautifully.

Part of writing for a larger audience means you cannot talk about yourself much. Don’t begin your posts with “Lately I’ve been thinking” or “here’s my opinion.” Cut out the Is and mys. When you refer to yourself, make sure you’re doing it to create value for the reader, not just mumble your diary. It’s not about you, it’s about them. Never forget that.

5. Don’t blog too much

Write your hands off, but don’t blog too much. It’s impossible to offer viral content on a daily basis, so don’t publish often. Instead, spend more time writing each article. Jon Morrow, the associate editor of Copyblogger, spent four hours on a recent headline—just the headline. I spent a good five or six hours on this article.

As you become renowned for publishing viral content, people will eagerly read everything you write. The viral strength of your work will build on itself. Publishing less often requires patience, but the rewards are worth it.

Get with it

Maybe you’re asking yourself, “If it’s this easy, why don’t more bloggers go viral?” In a word, most bloggers are lazy. Being viral isn’t extremely difficult, but you have to know your plan and stick with it. If you’re serious about writing a blog that’s read by thousands of people, I can assure you from experience that you’re only a few weeks away.

Have you had your posts go viral? What are your tips for making viral content?

Martyn Chamberlin is a fiercely passionate blogger who recently wrote an eBook called “Everything You Know About Traffic Is Wrong.” Get your free copy today.

Setting Personal and Professional Boundaries for Your Blog

This gust post is by Sarah Baron of of Anonymous8.

Boundaries in blogging are more important than you can imagine, because they set the tone for your blogs and for your relationships on and off line.

I never considered the concept of setting personal boundaries on a blog until a guest-blogger asked if he should publish a particular article on my site. His fear was that his story could hurt his wife’s feelings. It was our ensuing discussion that clued me in to how many personal boundaries I had set with my own blog.

Want to know why that sounds weird? Because my blog talks a lot about relationships, physical intimacy, and other “taboo” topics. Somehow we have managed to walk a fine line.

Here are some boundaries you may want to consider for your blog, based on those I’ve set for the creation of my blog.

Personal relationships

I rarely speak in a way that refers specifically to my family or to my friends. This protects their identities and protects the integrity of my relationships with them offline. In addition, I can tell you that my family and friends are not going to want their personal experiences shared with the world in a way that identifies them.

Experiences that we share are often discussed and hidden behind third-person tales. Those relationships are sacred, and I don’t want what I do to hurt them. That is my bottom line.

Be careful what you write about your family, including your mother-in-law. Assume that what you say will be read one day. Those little ones will be teens one day and may not appreciate every one of their embarrassing school moments told to their mother’s 15,000 closest friends.

Language

We choose our language carefully. Using curse words seems to be a strong line. Your basic four-letter words set tone. I do not curse on my site. Do you see a lot of curse words on ProBlogger?

I sum it up this way. Do you want to be the New York Times or the National Inquirer? Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of profitable tabloids. However, language sets the character of your blog. One is taken more seriously in some circles, and is avoided in others.

I can tell you that if I used curse words, I would lose my more family-focused followers. So that is a conscious decision for me. Curse words set off alarm bells in certain readers just as they attract others.

Tone

To judge or not to judge? That is the question. Here we are referring to people, mostly, and the things they do. ProBlogger is an incredibly positive and reinforcing site. Even when sites review products, it can be done respectfully or harshly and critically. Both approaches have their pros and cons.

When we speak about taboo topics, it is done in a respectful tone without degrading others, and while being open to lots of different perspectives. This philosophy of tone can be applied to just about any subject.

What if you cross a boundary?

If you cross a boundary, admit it. The most powerful blog posts I’ve seen arise when a blogger admits his or her mistakes. Another approach is to set yourself up for making mistakes from the beginning, by laying out expectations on your site. One place to do this is on the Mission page of your site.

Now, it’s time for you to choose your boundaries. You probably already have subconsciously. Make your own set of rules. Make them on the basis that one day, your blog and its contents could be the center of a large group’s dinner discussion that you are attending. The conversation that follows with friends should be interesting because of your work, but not embarrassing…

Do you have any personal rules or boundaries you have successfully made for your site?

Sarah Baron is the creator and founder of Anonymous8, a site which brings smart discussion to taboo topics. She recently released her first book Getting Lucky with the Wife (yes, THAT kind of lucky). She can be found on Twitter as @a8forwomen.