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Blogging Experiment — a ProBlogger Community Blog Consulting Project

This week we’ll be looking at a fellow make money blogging blog — one that some of you might already be reading — called Blogging Experiment.

If you’re new to the project, it’s recommended that you read the launch post. This week there’ll be yet another chance to score an iPod Shuffle and a link to your blog under the winner’s name in the summary post.

To be in the running to win, give some useful feedback on Blogging Experiment in the comments section of this post.

The blog’s owner, Ben Cook, describes the blog like this:

Blogging Experiment is just what the name suggests. It’s an experiment to see if I can take a brand new blog from earning absolutely nothing, to a full time income in only one year. I’m documenting every step along the way in hopes that my successes can be replicated and my mistakes avoided. The blog just turned six months old and last month it made just over $1,000. While that doesn’t put me in the same league as Darren, Shoemoney, John Chow, or some of the other high profile bloggers, I think I’m well on my way to accomplishing my goal.

Blogging Experiment.

Ben is particularly interested in feedback and advice on the following:

  • How can I better convert visitors into subscribers?
  • How can I use the blog to make more sales of our WordPress theme?

He recommends his Lessons on Blogging series if you want to get a better idea of the blog’s content. He’s also looking for feedback on these key areas:

  • Design — usability, visual appeal, readability, navigation.
  • Content — got an idea for a great viral post the blogger could write?
  • Promotion — how would you suggest the blogger promote the blog?
  • SEO — can you see areas for improvement?
  • Monetization — could this be done more effectively? Do you see any missed opportunities?

We’d love for comments to be as constructive, helpful and practical as possible. I’m sure Ben is looking forward to your advice!

You can send an application to Darren if you’d like your blog featured and reviewed at ProBlogger for $250. Click to get more information on our community blog consulting services.

7 Types of Blog Posts Which Always Seem to Get Links and Traffic

Keeping You Posted by Skellie.Here’s a really good question: what kinds of posts should I write to get more links and traffic?

It’s a question every blogger asks themselves. I want to answer it here by outlining 7 content methods that seem to work wonders on social media while also generating a lot of grassroots in-bound links.

Can you bring these powerful post types to your own blog?

1. Resource lists. The useful list of resources requires two ingredients: time and a good eye for quality. If a resource list seems useful many readers will bookmark or vote for it on face-value alone. If your blog is struggling, a useful resource list can be an effective way to spark up your traffic and links. Here’s an example of a well-done resource list:

Productivity Toolbox: 37+ Tools for Taking Action and Getting Things Done

2. Lists of tips. Quantifiable lists of tips are really attractive to readers because they explain in just a few seconds what a visitors stands to receive in return for their attention. You see them everywhere — and that’s because they work. Here’s an example of a good list of tips:

Nine Factors to Consider When Determining Your Price

3. Good advice. A quality advice-post generally sticks to one topic and provides in-depth info on it. In order to maximize the benefits, you’ll need to provide advice people are hungry for. Avoid over-saturated topics and try to work out what your audience wants to do but doesn’t yet know how. A good advice post can bring you a lot of success. Here’s an example of one such post:

A Guide to Creating a Minimalist Home

A taxi in Hong Kong traffic.
Photo by Steve Webel.

4. Arguing a popular point of view. People like to have their world-view affirmed. If you can articulate something a lot of people agree with, those who agree with you will champion your post. Those who disagree will probably still link to you, because their response won’t make sense otherwise.

This method works best when the topic isn’t too divisive. A reader won’t abandon your blog simply because you like Facebook and they like MySpace. They might abandon ship if you argue that capital punishment is necessary and that view is something they strongly disagree with. Make sure you’re not going to lose as many readers as you gain. Here’s an example of this method done well:

Ding Dong, Digg is Dead

5. Anything with a killer headline. When others link to you, it’s usually done in the space of a paragraph or even a single sentence. Bloggers don’t want to have to spend too long explaining what a post is about. Your headline should do most of the work for them. Sometimes a really outstanding headline is all it takes to get traffic and links. Of course, you’ll receive much greater rewards if the headline is matched by a great post. Here’s an example of this method in action:

The Web 2.0 World is Skunk-Drunk on its Own Kool-Aid

6. Q&As with high profile people. Interviews with well-known bloggers always seem to get links, comments and traffic. The nice thing about this method is that the only work involved is writing questions and approaching bloggers. The success rates for getting interviews are pretty high as most bloggers love talking about themselves! Here’s a clever example of this method in action:

Bloggers Face-Off: Darren Rowse vs. Jeremy Schoemaker

7. Best-of lists. At this time of year you’ll see a lot of ‘Best of 2007′ round-ups, though best-of lists seem to work well at all times. They’re effective because people are constantly searching for the ‘best’ of everything. It’s a term that promises high quality. It also generates interest because ‘best’ is subjective — what’s best for you might be mediocre for others. Ranked lists always seem to generate links, traffic and debate. Here’s a good, recent example:

Best Blogs of 2007 That You (Maybe) Aren’t Reading

Can you think of any other types of blog posts which always seem to get links and traffic?

Read more posts like this one at Skellie’s blog, Skelliewag.org and track her posts here at ProBlogger by subscribing to our RSS Feed.

Wife Advice — Community Consulting Summary

Our fourth Community Consultation wraps up today with an overview of the ProBlogger community’s feedback for Wife Advice.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to provide feedback, even amongst the kind of chaos only the end of December can bring!

New to community consulting? You’ll want to read Darren’s launch post as well as Wife Advice’s introduction to the community.

Here are the elements which proved most important to ProBlogger readers.

The average blogger vs. graphic design: how to win the battle

The header proved to be the most commented-on aspect of the site, one which many readers felt needed to be changed or improved. One group of readers felt the header looked unprofessional or unappealing and another group was offended by the husband as Donkey and Wife as ball-and-chain representation.

As bloggers we’re often given the advice to create a unique header image to brand our site. This can be difficult, though — particularly if you don’t have the money to hire a graphic designer, or black-belt Photoshop skills.

My suggestion would be to find a cheap logo-design service or hire a freelance graphic designer. If this isn’t something you have the money to do, see if there is anything else you could offer them in exchange. For example: add a permanent link to the designer’s portfolio to your sidebar, write a post advertising their services or write a guest post for their blog (if they have one).

Blogger bias

After the logo, the second most frequently mentioned aspect of the site was the Blogger navbar and the use of the Blogger platform.

I do see the merit in removing the Blogger navbar as it reminds visitors that you’re not self-hosted and can be quite distracting. Here’s a short tutorial on removing the blogger navbar.

Once the navbar is removed, I suspect most visitors to Wife Advice wouldn’t know it wasn’t self-hosted. It’s worth remembering that the target audience is not bloggers, so it’s unlikely they’ll have all the Blogger templates memorized as well as we do ;-).

That being said, I would strongly recommend the blog’s owners do some research on WordPress and whether that would be a better solution for them. A lot of ProBlogger readers recommended it in the feedback (and I second that recommendation.)

Controversial content

The blog’s concept received mixed reactions. While some readers really liked the idea of the Donkey and Wife, others felt that generalizations and stereotypes were being made — particularly male commenters!

On one hand, the unique premise of the blog might be helping to bring some readers in. On the other hand, it could be turning just as many away. It’s quite difficult to tell. It’s the kind of factor you can’t measure with statistics.

One solution might be to keep providing the same content and advice for wives and husbands, but to use a pseudonym other than ‘Donkey’ for the husband.

Ultimately, it’s up to the blog’s authors to decide whether to keep it controversial or to broaden the target audience by making the content and concept a little more benign.

It’s not just black and white

The design of the blog is very simple (mainly text). For that reason, many readers felt the blog didn’t have enough visually interesting elements to pull off a mainly black and white design. The blog’s owners can kill two birds with one stone by getting a new logo that’s full of color.

Does the tag-line sell the blog?

A group of readers felt that the blog’s tag-line wasn’t descriptive enough. At the moment it is: “A donkey. A wife. Advice.” Though we know there will be some kind of advice given, we don’t know who it’s directed at or what it’s about.

I’d suggest going with a tag-line like the one in the title bar, which is a bit more descriptive of what Wife Advice offers.

Getting more subscribers

We all want more subscribers but a number of readers pointed out that Wife Advice wasn’t doing this as well as it could.

It’s good that there’s a page explaining what RSS is, but I’d suggest offering a ‘Subscribe via email’ option from the main page. The blog isn’t tech/internet related and we can expect most of the target audience to be using email rather than a feed reader.

How to make more money with it

One common suggestion from readers was to monetize with Amazon, particularly through affiliate links to gifts recommended by both the Donkey and Wife.

Another suggestion was to sell an eBook of advice, though long eBooks are generally only worth the effort once you have a large and loyal readership.

A shorter report might be a better solution in the mean-time, if the blog’s owners do decide to try this option.

The good — everyone’s talking!

The thing that most impressed me about the blog is the skill shown in getting readers to participate in comments. By asking questions and holding debates the blog’s owners have made sure that the average number of comments on each post is very respectable.

It was also great to see a gripping About page and a Contact page in an easy to find location. Many bloggers seem to forget these crucial elements, so it was great to see them at Wife Advice.

The prize

This week’s iPod Shuffle winner is Lid from BlogWell. Her feedback ventured beyond the obvious and highlighted some important things I would not have thought of otherwise. Congrats :-).

Thanks again to everyone who took part — I look forward to hearing more from you next week!

Wife Advice — a ProBlogger Community Consulting Project

This week’s community consultation is for a very unique blog!

If you’re new to the project, it’s recommended that you read the launch post. This week there’ll be another chance to win an iPod Shuffle and a link to your blog under the winner’s name in the summary post. Not a bad haul for a few minutes work.

In this round of consultation we’ll be looking at Wife Advice. The blog’s owners, The Donkey and Wife, described the blog as follows:

At Wife Advice, The Donkey and The Wife share anecdotes, arguments, and advice based on their own marriage. The Donkey is an expert on what NOT to do (like don’t rate your wife’s looks a 6 out of 10 while you’re still on your honeymoon, and definitely don’t publish her weight on the internet). The Wife offers advice on how to handle a husband who lacks marital skills.

They’ve asked the ProBlogger readership to answer three questions:

1. What’s the best way for Wife Advice to increase its readership?

2. How could the design be improved?

3. What monetization strategies would work best at Wife Advice?

I’ll now open it up to the ProBlogger community to provide your advice, suggestions and constructive critique. The commenter who provides the most useful feedback for the blog will win an iPod shuffle from ProBlogger with a link to the winner’s blog in the prize announcement.

A round-up of the community feedback (with my own commentary) will be posted in 4 – 5 days, so make sure to get your comments in soon.

A screenshot of Wife Advice.

We’d love for comments to be as constructive, helpful and practical as possible, and will be taking all these factors into account when deciding on the winning commenter.

Brisbane SEO Blog — Community Consulting Summary

Our third Community Consultation finishes up today with an overview of the ProBlogger community’s feedback for Brisbane SEO Blog.

As always, the results have been illuminating. You might even be able to take away some tips and tricks for your own blog.

New to community consulting? You’ll want to read Darren’s launch post as well as Brisbane SEO Blog’s introduction to the community.

Here are the elements which proved most important to ProBlogger readers.

Lack of connection with the business

Brisbane SEO Blog is a business blog, and the primary aim of any business blog should be to raise the profile of the business and gain new clients. At the moment, the blog is not adequately connected to the main SiteMost website. If a visitor arrived via search results they would only be able to reach the main site via the About page.

I would firstly suggest making the SiteMost logo a link to the main site, as this is what visitors expect. I’d also make it clearer to new visitors that the blog is an offshoot of SiteMost — perhaps with a tagline or a paragraph at the top of the sidebar.

If it’s not clear which company is responsible for the blog (and how to learn more about it) even the most successful business blog won’t be able to reach its full potential as a promotional device.

Getting more subscribers

One of the owner’s main aims for the site is to convert more readers into subscribers. He’s taken the essential first step by offering both RSS and email subscriptions in a prominent location on the page.

The blog could attract more subscribers by adding a subscribe link to the bottom of posts, and by offering a freebie with every subscription (such as a short eBook or report). A number of readers suggested both these strategies would help to persuade them to subscribe.

Greater distinctions between posts

Some readers felt that the gap between posts was too narrow and this impacted on readability. The issue was worsened by a sub-header for related posts which matches the blog’s headlines for size.

This readability issue is easily fixed by adding some more space between each post and shrinking the related posts heading down to the text size used for the body of the posts. It’s essential that headlines be the biggest and most eye-catching text on the page.

Turning visitors into customers

A business blog presents an opportunity to convert visitors into potential clients. Without a Contact or Services page this task is made very difficult. A number of readers suggested refining the About page to emphasize the faces behind the business and their credentials.

I’d also suggest including a little information about the services offered by the company, with a link to a dedicated ‘Services’ page readers can visit for more detailed information.

Adding a Contact page to the navigation bar is essential. It’s simply impossible to get web-based business without it. As a local business it would probably be wise to include a phone number and PO Box in addition to an email address. I’d suggest promoting a ‘Services’ page in the navigation bar also.

Some readers also suggested an additional page explaining what SEO is and its benefits. I think this is a great idea. Most clients who hire SEO consultants (unsurprisingly) aren’t experts at it themselves. It can’t hurt to tell potential clients what you’re capable of.

Showcasing the best

Displaying a list of your best posts should really be a requirement for any blog. It shows new visitors straight away the best of what you have to offer. It also helps to draw them deeper into your blog (making it more likely that they’ll stick around or subscribe.) A number of readers really missed this feature on the blog.

Less is more

The content list on the main page is very long and took some time to load. Some readers requested less posts on the main page and others wanted to see only post excerpts displayed.

MyBlog Log and ads

Some readers felt that the MyBlog Log widget seemed unprofessional on a business blog. I’d also add that these widgets can sometimes be several hundred kilobytes all-together as the button images aren’t efficiently resized.

Other readers wondered why the blog was advertising third party services. It’s worth considering whether the reader attention would be better spent on SiteMost’s own services.

The good

It seems like the blog’s owner (Peter) is on to a good thing with his content as it received almost unanimously positive reviews. The visual design was also positively received overall, though some readers disagreed with the color choice and the lack of custom imagery. While color is always subjective and I don’t think you can please everyone, a unique logo wouldn’t go astray.

Another thing that I really liked to see was the relative lack of clutter on the blog. While I still think a few things could be subtracted (and a few more added) the blog is very simple and clean overall.

The prize!

As always I found myself with a shortlist of about five names who’d each written a really high quality review. You guys sure don’t make this easy ;-).

This week’s iPod Shuffle winner is ericabiz for her savvy review, though it was her partial rewriting of the blog’s About page which really impressed me and put her a step above the rest. Thanks Erica!

Make sure to stay tuned for blog number four.

How to Maximize the Benefits of Guest Posting

Keeping You Posted by Skellie.Publishing guest posts on popular blogs is a tried and tested way to get inbound links and traffic. There are certain things you can do to make this experience even more rewarding.

In this post, I want to share a number of methods you can use to maximize the rewards of any guest post you publish.

A note: This post will tell you how to get the most out of guest posting once you’ve got a blogger who’s willing to publish you. If you want more information on getting to that point, I’d suggest you read Darren’s tips on pitching to bloggers.

Do your research

A little bit of research is essential before you submit your guest post to be published. It will help make sure you’re properly rewarded for your work and that you produce something that will be well received by the blog’s audience.

Does the blogger give adequate credit to guest posters? If the blog you’re writing for doesn’t allow an in-post byline for its guest-authors, don’t bother. If you write a post including a byline for this kind of blog, the author will most likely remove the byline and publish your work without it. I’ve had this happen to me before — it’s not fun!

What kind of posts work well on the blog? Take a look at some of the blog’s most popular posts to get an idea of what worked well. Could you create something with similar elements?

Are there any gaps waiting to be filled? I wrote my first guest post for ProBlogger on drawing StumbleUpon visitors into your blog because I noticed it was something that hadn’t been covered much before. It went on to become one of this blog’s most popular posts. Ask yourself: how can I use what I know to bring something unique to the blog?

A stunning albino peacock.
The ideal guest post will show off your skills and impress. Photo by lightgazer.

Optimize your post for greater rewards

What you write and how you present it can influence how rewarding your guest posting experience will be. Here are a few tips to help you optimize your posts.

Link to yourself and others. If you’ve written something that relates to the guest post on your own blog, find a way to work in a link. You can link out to other sources as well if you’d like to take a more democratic approach. A note: if you haven’t written something vitally on topic, don’t link out just for the sake of it. This will look like you’re putting self-promotion above relevance.

Put in a real effort. It’s easier to have social media success with your post on a popular blog because there’s a bigger pool of readers to vote for what you write. More traffic to the post means more click-throughs to your site. In other words, it’s not actually worth it to write the minimum required just to get a link back to your blog. Writing a great guest post will drastically increase the rewards.

Participate in the comments section. One of the metrics whereby bloggers judge the success of a post (as you know) is the comment count. You can raise this and make a good impression on those who’ve commented by responding to questions and feedback on your guest post.

Call in favors. Use your connections to bump along the success of your guest post. You can contact social media users you know, link to the post from your own blog, or pitch the link to other bloggers.

Crafting your byline

The byline is where you’re credited for your writing. You can see an example at the bottom of this post. Most bloggers will give you the freedom to put whatever you like in your byline (within reason) — as long as it’s not too long. The byline is the place where people will decide whether or not to click-through to your own blog, so it’s important to get it right.

Create a byline to suit your goals. If you mainly want feed subscribers, include only a link to your feed. If you want feed subscribers and traffic, include a link to your feed and your site. If you only want traffic, drop the link to your feed. If you want to sell a product, mention it instead.

Appeal to your target audience. If you write for a certain type of people (for example: bloggers, dads, Zen Masters), include that information in your byline. It will capture the attention of the kind of people you want reading your blog.

Explain the benefits. If you want people to visit your site or subscribe to your feed, explain what they’ll get in return. Useful advice? Hints and tips? Free stuff? Give people a reason to do what you want.

Points to review

  • Take the time to research the blog you’d like to write for.
  • Write with the blog’s target audience in mind.
  • A quality post can help you just as much as it helps the blog’s owner.
  • Craft your byline to compliment what you want to get out of guest posting.

Skellie is a regular writer for ProBlogger. Subscribe to her feed for more useful blogging advice.

Brisbane SEO Blog — a ProBlogger Community Blog Consulting Project

Problogger-ConsultingWelcome to our third Community Blog Consulting 2.0 project. A few minutes spent sharing your feedback on this week’s blog could see you win an iPod Shuffle!

If you’re new to the community consulting at ProBlogger, the launch post should explain everything you need to know.

This week we’ll be looking at Brisbane SEO Blog. It’s the business blog for SiteMost, an SEO company based in Brisbane, Australia.

Pete is the blog’s author and described the blog’s aims as follows:

Although the company is only fairly new, the team have been optimising websites for over 5 years. We actively participate in many SEO communities and forums and this has helped gain some exposure and reputation within the industry.

Our current goal with the blog is to try and attract more subscribers and as a byproduct of this, further enhance our reputation and authority within the search marketing industry.

A summary of the community feedback (with my own commentary) will be posted in 4 – 5 days, so make sure to get your comments in soon.

The iPod Shuffle prize will will be awarded to the commenter who leaves the most useful, interesting and respectful feedback for the blog’s author.

Brisbane SEO Blog screenshot.

The key questions you’ll want to consider are:

  • What do you like about this blog?
  • What could be improved?

You might want to focus your comment on these areas:

  • Design — usability, visual appeal, readability, navigation.
  • Content — how could it be made more valuable?
  • Promotion — how would you suggest the blogger promote the blog?
  • SEO — can you see areas for improvement?
  • Monetization — could this be done more effectively? Do you see any missed opportunities?

We’d love for comments to be as constructive, helpful and practical as possible. I’m sure Peter and the rest of the team at SiteMost can’t wait to hear your insights.

Hypebot — Community Consulting Summary

Heya — Skellie here.

Our second community consultation has drawn to a close – this time we consulted for Hypebot. We’ve had a terrific response from the ProBlogger community (as always) with plenty of insights shared.

Those new to the project will want to read the Community Consulting launch post. You can also revisit the post where Hypebot was introduced to the community.

What follows is an overview of some of the main aspects of the blog that were highlighted by ProBlogger readers.

Lack of whitespace

The ‘whitespace’ of any website is essentially its empty areas. Without whitespace to frame distinct elements it can make your blog seem jumbled and make it difficult for the eyes to isolate individual elements (for example, separating posts from the sidebar).

While a number of readers thought Bruce’s sidebar was too wide, I think the real issue is the lack of whitespace within the sidebar and separating the sidebar from the posts. The edge of each post runs almost to the edge of the sidebar with very little padding, making the overall effect a little tough on the eyes.

To help alleviate this problem, I’d suggest narrowing the width of the third column and using the freed up space to add whitespace around the post column.

I’d also suggest adding an extra line of space below each post, to help make each content item distinct from the next.

Dark on dark

Some readers also found the contents of the sidebar difficult to read because the background and text are both dark. I’d suggest going with a much lighter gray instead, or any light color which looks good with the design.

Hidden essentials

A number of readers urged Bruce to add an About and Contact page to his site. While I agree that a Contact page should be added, there is already an About page available. For so many readers to miss it indicates that it needs to be made more prominent.

The ‘About’ page is the place where visitors decide to become readers. For that reason, it needs to be incredibly easy to find. I’d suggest moving links to the About and Contact page (once added) to the top of the right-hand sidebar.

It also seems strange to use a different layout for the blog’s About page. It’s important to maintain consistent branding across all your pages, so I’d use the blog’s existing layout instead.

Clutter

It’s difficult to find a blog without an inch of clutter, but decluttering is a worthy goal for all of us. Taking away the unimportant elements of our site allow more attention to be directed at what is important.

Bruce could remove the following unimportant elements in order to create a lean and usable sidebar:

  • Recent posts. Hypebot’s posts tend to be quite short so readers will find it quicker to scroll down than it is to interact with a list of titles. A recent posts list is only really useful on blogs with very long posts.
  • Links, privacy policy and blogroll. The links and blogroll could be moved to their own dedicated page. The privacy policy should be linked from the About page.
  • Recent comments. While I don’t mind the kind of recent comments display which gives a preview of each comment, the widget currently on the blog won’t be of much interest to new visitors. If you were a new visitor, what would you rather read? The content, or (insert person you’ve never heard of) commented on ( insert post you haven’t read yet)?
  • The tag cloud. If you’ll allow me to be a little opinionated, I think tag clouds are just one of those things designers started doing simply because they could! A simple list of categories is much more readable and usable, so I’d keep that and lose the cloud.
  • Kudos for Hypebot. The About page is where you convince potential readers to pay attention, so the CNN recommendation would be more effective displayed there.
  • Books clip-art. Clip art is good for Power Point presentations but doesn’t really make for good web design.

Readability

One common suggestion from readers was to increase the size of the links in the sidebar — something I strongly agree with. The font size should be equal to that used in each post.

To help distinguish links it might also be worth making them bold or underlined. Other readers also requested that the headlines on each post be left aligned rather than centered, for a more fluid reading experience.

News vs. Commentary: a common problem for bloggers!

Many readers congratulated Bruce on his writing style and content. I was also impressed with Bruce’s confident blogging voice.

One of the questions he asked was “Am I achieving the right balance of news vs. commentary?” I do have some concerns in this area (I suspect many bloggers do), and this is an issue I’ve personally struggled with in the past.

As a one person show, it’s incredibly difficult to break news. Unless you’re an industry insider, you’re essentially forced into a reactive role — reading about news elsewhere and posting it on your blog. The problem with this is that you’re probably going to be recycling news from other sites in your niche — sites that your target audience are most likely already reading!

The original source of the news will always get the links and mentions, making news aggregation a very difficult growth strategy to pursue. Without the ability to break news, I think commentary is a much more viable option. People will still go to other sites to watch the news break, but they will come back to read your unique take on it.

I think Darren’s approach is illustrative of how best to do this. While there are regular news posts at ProBlogger, they’re almost always accompanied by a reflection on what the developments mean, and its impacts.

People will still read the posts even if they’re already familiar with the news because they’re interested to hear what Darren has to say.

Bruce is an expert in his own niche and I have no doubt that readers would love to read his commentary. My suggestion to Bruce would be to focus on commentary more so than he is currently doing.

It’s impossible to compete with well-resourced and staffed music news sites when it comes to being the first with news, but they may never be able to offer the kind of insight Bruce is capable of.

The Prize!

Sheesh, you guys don’t make picking a favorite comment easy, do you? Fortunately we have a few more prizes to go around, thanks to Bruce’s generosity.

This week’s prize-pack winner is Anthony Lawrence. I was impressed both by his attention to detail and his respectful approach to the review process. He’ll soon be the new owner of an iPod Shuffle and 5 CDs courtesy of Bruce’s booking company, Skyline Music.

Our five runner-ups, Jen, CompuWorld, Michael Martine, coolthought and Sakura will also receive a CD of their choosing.

Stay tuned for the introduction of blog number three.

How to Develop the Habit of Writing Posts in Advance

Keeping You Posted by Skellie.Do you write and publish your posts in one sitting? Many bloggers do. Unfortunately, this kind of posting habit presents a number of problems. For example:

  • You won’t be able to develop a consistent posting rhythm. Your publish times will vary depending on whether you’re inspired, whether you have writer’s block, or whether you have time to write.
  • It’s difficult to be relaxed as you write when you need to publish your post quickly.
  • You’ll find yourself forced to publish what is really still a rough draft when your post takes longer than expected and you need to go somewhere, meet someone, or do something.

Writing hand-to-mouth can also hurt your blog’s traffic. If your posts appear whenever you’re able to write them, your readers will never be sure when to check your blog for an update. They’ll find it difficult to develop the habit of checking, and those that haven’t subscribed might start to forget you.

In this post, I want to outline a few methods you can use to develop the habit of writing posts in advance. It’s a habit that will save you a lot of stress in the long-run.

Write this week’s posts in one sitting

Instead of writing posts just before you publish them, try setting aside one day to write your posts for the rest of the week. It could be a few hours where the rest of the family is busy and you’re not, or the time and day when you tend to feel most creative.

Once you’ve written one post, you’ll find yourself able to write more smoothly as you tackle the next one. Your writing muscles are already warmed up. As you tick off posts, you’ll grow more confident in your abilities to produce good content, making each post easier to finish than the last.

Writing without the pressure of immediately having to publish what you’ve just written will also help you to be more relaxed as you write.

Once you’ve finished your posts for the week, you don’t have to think about producing content for seven days (unless you want to write for other blogs). You can publish your posts at the same time/day each week, meaning your readers will soon start to develop their own habit of checking your site for updates on those days when you regularly publish a new post.

Write one extra post per week

If writing a bunch of posts in one sitting is something you can’t imagine doing, I’d suggest developing the habit gradually by writing one surplus post each week. If you usually publish 4-5 times a week, you’ll be one week’s worth of posts ahead after a month.

You can use the head-start to write next week’s posts the week before, at whatever time suits you — whether you want to do them all at once or write a post every few days. Once again, you’ll be able to publish your posts in a consistent rhythm when it’s time to debut them for your readership.

Finish your drafts and half-written posts

Another quick way to get a head-start with your content is to finish off all those drafts and half-written posts saved inside your blogging software. If you’ve started them, and you have an idea of what you want to write, the hardest work is already done. You might find it takes very little time to finish off a number of posts that have been sitting in your drafts bin for weeks or months.

A ticking alarm clock.
Photo by Mike9Alive.

Start posting like clockwork

Once you have a week’s worth of posts written in advance, you can publish your posts at the same time and same day each week. Your readers will start to know when to look for an update at your blog, meaning you can expect to receive nice spike of traffic at that time.

How to set your posts for timed release with WordPress

Check to see if your blog software allows you to set posts to future-publish. If you use WordPress, you can auto-post via the ‘Write Post’ screen of the article you want to set for timed release. Expand the ‘Post Timestamp’ sidebar heading, tick the ‘Edit timestamp’ box (important!) and set the time and date for when you want the post to appear on your blog. Then hit ‘Publish’.

Don’t worry — it won’t actually be published until your WordPress account’s clock reaches the time and date you’ve set for it.

A note: make sure your WordPress account’s time is the same as your own. From your Dashboard, go to Options –> General. You can change the settings under the ‘Time & Date’ subheading.

Use the habit to build a safety net

Once you’ve developed the habit of writing in advance, you can use it to start building a safety net of content to use when you’d like to take some time off blogging (or if something keeps you from blogging).

Very few bloggers have a team of guest-posters just rearing to write something as soon as we need them to. If we want to take time away from our blogs — or are forced to — many of us will have to earn it.

I strongly recommend that you have at least one week’s worth of posts saved in case of a blogging emergency. This will allow you to keep your blog running like clockwork for a week, even if things are a little chaotic for you during that time.

Food for thought: if you post four times a week and you write one extra post per week for three months, you’ll have enough content saved up to run your blog on autopilot for three weeks!

If you feel like a blogging holiday would help refresh and inspire you, you can use the habit of writing in advance to earn one. Why not start today?

Skellie is a regular writer for ProBlogger. Subscribe to her feed for more useful blogging advice.