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Say Goodbye to Bad Habits: Five You Should Ditch in the New Year

Say Goodbye to Bad Habits: Five you should ditch today // problogger.netI don’t know about you, but it’s around this time of year when I start thinking about all the things that didn’t quite work out over the last 12 months in my blogging efforts. Things I got wrong, things I didn’t try hard enough on, things I know I should do better. In short, it’s time to re-evaluate how I blog, so I can blog better.

And what I know for sure is: Next year, I want to blog smarter, not harder. I want to slow down and focus on the priorities and make sure they’re being done properly.

I’ve developed a few bad habits over the years, and from what I’ve heard, I’m not the only one. Let’s refine our workload and jettison these ways of thinking that don’t serve us well. Let’s swap them for a more intelligent strategy that will make our blogs stand out from the crowd and provide use to our readers.

Are you guilty of any of these?

1. Thinking an email list isn’t such a big deal

Well, I hate to break it to you, but it is. It truly is the only method of communicating with your readers that you are in control of. Your words, straight to your reader. No algorithms, no fast-pace feed, just your information they can access at their leisure.

I revamped my site earlier in the year, and didn’t bother putting my email subscribe boxes back in because they didn’t fit the new theme. I didn’t have time to redesign them, and I didn’t want to pay for something I knew I could do myself. My laziness has cost me hundreds of valuable email addresses, and the ability to share what I have with interested people.

I know some bloggers wonder what the point of a mailout is, and wonder if its only people with something to sell who would concern themselves with having one – but it’s invaluable for any blogger who want to reach their audience. Even if you think you will never need email subscribers, offer your readers a way to sign up anyway. You won’t regret that.

2. Forgetting to share your posts on social media

I try to share my posts at the same time each day, both because those times get the most engagement, and also to provide some consistency for readers who get my updates. But often real life got in the way of manually updating my channels, and sometimes it meant I didn’t get anything up all day. I resisted using scheduling tools for a long time, for many reasons, but in the last few months I’ve experimented with a few. I cannot believe how much better my blogging experience is now that I’ve settled on a schedule that works for me, and the ability to schedule my post updates across all social media (except Instagram and Pinterest, I still prefer to do those in the moment) has become so much easier.

I’ve been using CoSchedule for the last month or two on my personal blog and I don’t know how I ever lived without it. An editorial calendar plugin that keeps your content organised and also allows you to schedule social media posts from right within your WordPress dashboard before they’re even published. Your post goes live, and your scheduled social media updates follow after, at a time you’ve pre-chosen. Genius.

3. Wasting time

Oh boy – this has been a big one for me. I work from home with very small children, and I have limited amount of child-free time each week to get a lot of things done. I couldn’t afford to waste a second – but I was wasting lots of them. I found myself either procrastinating or getting caught up in less-important tasks, which left me little time to get the big stuff done. I felt behind the 8 ball for a lot of 2014 until I sat myself down with a big task list and a determination to be in charge of my schedule, instead of letting it be in charge of me.

Some of the biggest things that has turned my productivity around:

  • checking email at certain times only
  • doing specific tasks only on specific days
  • having an editorial calendar
  • timing myself to see exactly how long tasks would take so I’d stop underestimating the time it would take to do something
  • organising tasks in order of priority

4. Failing to have an editorial calendar

Who needs those? I mean, unless you run a themed blog that creates content in line with the holiday calendar, right? Wrong! Part of the problem was that I was wasting time because I didn’t know what to write about. I found that once I sat down with either a headline or a topic, I could write a post no problem. But if I was sitting down to a blank slate, I wrote less than half of the posts that I needed to.

It didn’t take long – just a few minutes of brainstorming, and a few more minutes shuffling that around to certain points on the calendar. I always know in advance what I’m expected to do, so I find that I waste less time and get more done. I challenge you to come up with 12 post ideas right now – and you will know at least one thing you will be writing per month next year. Or create a theme a month and write to that theme as the year goes by. Go on – you only need 10 minutes, a pen, and a piece of paper.

5. Ignoring networks

I get it – you’re shy. Or you think your blog isn’t “big” enough to play in the big leagues. Well, I’m not sure how you expect to get in the big leagues if you don’t chat with the people who are either already there, or trying to get there too. While you might think there is a hierarchy of people out there in blogland, the reality is there’s room for everyone. Get chatting with other bloggers, no matter who they are. Jump in on Twitter conversations, start discussions on your Facebook page, join a linkup or blog hop, lend a hand to a fellow blogger in a group or forum asking for advice. Share other bloggers’ posts, link to them on your site, invite other writers on your blog, and offer to guest post for other sites in your niche.

If you ask any “big” blogger what was a turning point for them, or how they managed to grow their traffic, more often than not, you’ll hear them say that another blogger bigger than them linked to their content. It’s a world of collaboration, and it will get you further than where you’re going on your own. Make a friend!

So I dare you to ditch these bad blogging habits before the year is out. Replace them with smarter ways of driving your blog forward and increasing the enjoyment you get from it.

Which ones are you striking off your list this year? What will you do instead?

Stacey is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama (cat pictures welcome!).

 

Care to Share? What Was YOUR Most Popular Post of 2014?

Share your most popular posts of 2104

So last week we went right through the top five posts on ProBlogger 2014 in each of the categories of monetization, creating content, social media, writing, and general tips. Some of them were surprising, but most weren’t – good advice is good advice, after all! I know a lot of you have seen real results from making these changes to the way you work.

So what we wanted to know was – what is the most popular post on your blog this year? Can you see why it was popular? And more importantly – what can you learn from it that will help you for your content next year? Is it a topic you can find a new angle on? Something you can update for your readers? Something you can turn into a series, an eBook, an eCourse? Is it a topic you enjoyed writing about? Is there a way you can repackage it, say as an audio file or a slideshare? The possibilities are endless, and having information you know your readers already resonate with is a great place to start.

So link up your most popular post in the comments and share it with the ProBlogger community. If you read one you love, tweet it to your friends and followers. I can’t wait to see all the different genres everyone covers.

Stacey is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama (cat pictures welcome!).

Most Popular Posts on ProBlogger 2014: General Tips

This week we’ve covered the five most popular posts in the areas of monetization, content, social media, and writing tips. Today we bring you the top 5 general tips that readers found most useful. I hope they do to you too! Read it now, or pin for later.

ProBlogger Popular Posts of 2014: General Tips - we covered grammar mistakes, one thing to do daily that will change your blogging, SEO must-dos, project management websites, and if Content isn't King - then what is?

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1. 5 Quick Grammar Tips to Improve Your Writing – Plus Free Downloadable Cheat Sheet

A super-handy overview of apostrophes, when to use that/which/who, when to use “everyday” vs. “every day”, commas, and capitalization. The cheat sheet is perfect for printing out and leaving it in your workspace so you’re never stuck with a grammar issue again.

Image by zev

Image by zev

2. Spend 10 Minutes Doing This Every Day and You Could Transform Your Blogging

We even started doing it at ProBlogger HQ at our regular meetings.

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3. Publish Your Blog Post Without SEO and Thousands of Visits will be Forever Lost

SEO kingpin Rand Fishkin stopped by ProBlogger to give us the absolute ultimate in SEO advice. Simple things you can do right now to ensure you’re getting the maximum exposure of your work.

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4. Top 10 Web-Based Personal Project Management Tools

You’re looking for a sweet app to streamline your worklife? Us too. Here are 10 of them that will keep you (and your team, if you have one) on track.

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5. Content isn’t King: Here’s What is

I know I’ve made this mistake in 2014 with my own blog. Content is great – but useful content is what gets you places. Are you useful?

 

Did you use these tips this year? Have you figured out a way to serve your readers by meeting their needs with your blog? I’d love to hear it!

Stacey is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama (cat pictures welcome!).

 

Most Popular Posts on ProBlogger 2014: Writing Tips

So useful content is king, and we need to provide it consistently. But how? And what if writing isn’t our strong suit? I always find that writing tips, guides, and productivity hacks score high in the interest scale of ProBlogger readers. These were the five most-read posts this year.

Problogger best of 2104: Writing Tips

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1. 6 Lessons in Writing Irresistibly Magnetic Blog Post Headlines

We all know headlines are what can make or break your post: if your headline sucks, people just won’t read. This post has six ways to nail it, every time.

Image via Flickr user Dan Patterson

Image via Flickr user Dan Patterson

2. 9 Crucial Tips for Self-Editing Your Blog Posts (That Everybody Can Use)

Tend to waffle? you won’t after reading these super-easy tips.

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3. How to Repurpose Your Content (and Why You Should do it)

Darren gives us a hefty post filled with great ideas on ways to take what you’ve already written and package it anew. A very effective use of resources.

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4. 15 Quick and Easy Productivity Hacks for Busy Bloggers

We all waste time – Pooja shows us how to cut out the crap so we can make the most use of the time we have.

Image via Flickr user Toni Birrer

Image via Flickr user Toni Birrer

5. In a Blog Slump? Here’s what to do

When you’ve lost your writing mojo, everyone is succeeding but you, and you feel like throwing your laptop out the window – these are my top tips to get back in the game and feel the love again.

 

So what about you? I’m willing to bet you’ve slumped at least one time in 2014. What was the best writing tip you picked up this year?

Stacey is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama (cat pictures welcome!).

Most Popular Posts on ProBlogger 2014: Social Media

Social media and how to navigate it was, again, a big issue in 2014. Which platform is best? How do we use it effectively? Are we still using Google Plus? Where did everyone on Twitter go? These are the answers we found…

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1. 5 Ways to Promote Your Blog Without Relying on Google Traffic

As Darren has said before, putting all your eggs in the Google basket can be risky (and devastating – he almost lost his business). We learned how to boost our traffic without relying on the Google fallback.

2. How to Socialize Your Posts for Maximum Effect

What’s the point of promoting our blogs on social media if nobody is reading it? This Theme Week post had great tips on how to be effective across the board to drive traffic back to your site.

3. Facebook Theme Week: Boost Your Organic Reach with These Tips

2014 made one thing abundantly clear: not everyone wanted to pay to be seen on Facebook. In fact, some bloggers really resented it. We delved into what strategies are effective on Facebook to work with their algorithms instead of against them. We outlined the best ways to organically reach the majority of our audience with what we have to promote.

4. Facebook Theme Week: Case Studies of Popular Pages and What They’re Doing to Get Great Engagement

Another post in our week-long discussion about what the biggest Facebook pages in the world were doing to interact with their fans and drive up engagement. It turns out their strategies are very simple – and they’re all ones we can do, too.

5. A Social Media Etiquette Guide You Might Find Useful

An in-depth infographic that laid it all bare: What’s, right, what’s wrong, and what works? On what platform? You’ll find it very comprehensive.

 

What do you think? Do you struggle with Facebook too? Given up on G+?

Stacey is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama (cat pictures welcome!).

Most Popular Posts on ProBlogger 2014: Creating Content

Content is King, as they say (or is it?!) so it’s no wonder that this topic was one of the most popular this year. Write great, useful content and promote it well – it’s the baseline for a successful blog.

Which of these top five posts resonates with you?

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1. How to Consistently Come up with Great Post Ideas for Your Blog

Part of our Creating Content Theme Week, a behemoth post of advice that will mean you will never be stuck for a post idea again.

Create Content To Promote Your Blog

2. How to Promote Your Blog with Content that Will Grow Your Traffic, Links, and Shares

It’s everything you want in one package: how to get traffic, links, and shares. Tips on how to get your content to shine.

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3. Three Ways to Define What Your Blog is About

Do you need a niche? What would you say yours was? Darren gives us the ins and outs of making a stand on your genre.

HOW TO CREATE MASSIVE VALUE CONTENT

4. Create Massive Value Content and Blow Your Readers’ Minds

If you followed the very first link on this page, you’ll find what is actually King – and this post will help you provide it for your readers.

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5. Content Week Case Study: Carly Heitlinger of the College Prepster on Where She Gets Her Ideas

Carly has barely missed a day blogging in six years. Here’s how she keeps content fresh, current, and more importantly – consistent.

 

What do you think? Anything to add on how to create great content? Where do YOU get your ideas?

Stacey is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama (cat pictures welcome!).

Most Popular Posts on ProBlogger 2014: Monetization

We’ve covered so much ground here on ProBlogger this year, and much of it about monetization – here are the top five posts this year in that category. Have you made the changes you read about in these posts? Which ones did you miss? Take this chance now to catch up – or pin it for future reference.

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Image via Flickr user Susy Morris

Image via Flickr user Susy Morris

1. Making the Impossible Possible: How I Created a Full-Time Blogging Income with No Qualifications

It seems like Stacey Corrin’s story of turning her passion into profit in just three months was a hit with you guys. And who can blame it – the majority of readers here want to make some kind of income from their blogs, and full-time seems like the jackpot. Some great tips in this post from someone who has been there, done that.

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2. How I Doubled My Unique Visitors in Six Months (and Tripled Them in a Year)

This is a post I wrote after seeing tremendous growth on my personal blog in 2012. Some real, practical take-home strategies you can do today to boost your traffic.

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3. 9 World-Class Bloggers Share Their #1 List-building Tip

A few famous faces gave their top tip for creating the best email list possible. Everything from content to plugins and download incentives is covered.

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4. Partnering with Brands Theme Week: Ways to Collaborate and Earn an Income on Your Blog

Aussie super-blogger Nikki Parkinson of Styling You gives the lowdown on how to make a brand-blog collaboration really shine. Nikki’s advice on ways to work together and how to get brands on side are not to be missed.

The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Media Kit // ProBlogger.net

5. The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Media Kit

Another one from our Working With Brands Theme Week – everything you need to know to create a kickass media kit, all in one place. Remember – less is more!

 

Did you catch these throughout the year? Have you found the tips useful? I’d love to chat!

Stacey is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama (cat pictures welcome!).

New Facebook Changes: Target your Audience Effectively

FACEBOOKchangesyou need to know about

 

If you are one of the many people confused by Facebook and its ever-changing algorithms, you’ll be pleased to know they’ve recently made some favourable changes to their operating system.

I see it everywhere – bloggers desperately trying to reach their Facebook audience, and being thwarted at every turn. Facebook has been experimenting a lot this year with delivering the best, most tailored newsfeed to its users, but at the cost of our readers seeing posts. We dedicated an entire week to decoding Facebook earlier this year – from sticking with organic reach practises to experimenting with paid ads. Both can work, but a complaint I hear often is that it’s getting to be more of a pay-to-play platform.

In both the Facebook Advertising webinar and the post we did on how to effectively target your audience, we covered the gamut of targeting options available. However, with the recent changes to targeting and tools, it is easier than ever to only show your posts to those who are interested, and to save different types of posts for different kinds of audiences.

New Facebook Tools Changes

Facebook has introduced very selective targeting options for you to really drill down and capture the right readership for your blog (or even specific posts or pages on your blog) every time you post.

Available to those who have enabled the Targeting and Privacy setting, you can now use it to provide posts to a subset of your audience.

Have a recipe post? You can now choose to show it to the part of your readership who have indicated to Facebook they like food or cooking. People who aren’t interested in that won’t see the post. But they will see a post they are interested in, based on their likes and dislikes.

Post End Date

Have a time-sensitive post? You can choose a particular date it will stop showing up in newsfeeds… but it will still be visible on your page. Again, only available to those who have enabled Targeting and Privacy, and it’s only available on desktop at the moment.

Smart Publishing

Take the guesswork out of what your audience will resonate with. Can be hard to predict, so Facebook have rolled out to a select few media organizations (for now) the ability to identify and publish stories that are already popular with the folk on Facebook.

Frequently-shared links to your website will appear in the newsfeed of people who like your page. They won’t appear on your page, but you’ll get a whole new dashboard of insights and ability to moderate comments.

Page admins can opt in from the Publisher Tools section within Page Settings.

Insights

While reasonably in-depth, your current insights will now be even more descriptive. With a better overview, you can even more effectively understand and optimize your content for success.

It’s even easier now to see where your content is going with the addition of information about people and pages that share your links.

There are also changes made to the type of insights you have access to, and how your page and plugins drive traffic to sites.

You can find out more information, and keep up with further Facebook announcements here.

So what do you think? Will this make marketing on Facebook easier for you?

 

Stacey is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama (cat pictures welcome!).

 

Stand out from the Crowd: Simplicity Tips from Amy Lynn Andrews

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If you’ve been blogging for long, you’ve no doubt heard of Amy Lynn Andrews.

Plain-language blogging tips, tricks, and tutorials are Amy’s game. And while everyone gets louder and brighter on the internet in order to catch your attention, Amy is whispering. And it works.

Amy covers everything from How to Start a Blog to How to Make Money Blogging, and sends out arguably the most useful newsletter on the planet every Sunday morning.

I wanted to know how the simple life made a difference to her blogging experience – if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed with all we’re supposed to do and use and read and be as bloggers, I hope this is useful to you. Slim down, pare back, focus on your priorities. Amy would want you to!

The Useletter

I asked Amy how she settled on her very different style of newsletter (and was reminded again how important an email list is):

“I wanted to reduce my dependence on other sources of blog traffic, like search, social media and referrals. I also liked the idea of permission-based marketing which gives me the power to go to my readers instead of waiting for them to come to me. In a nutshell, an email list was a more controllable digital asset for me,” she says.

“Once I decided to go in this direction, I knew I needed to stand out. Everyone is building a list these days; my emails had to be super valuable. I chose to leverage the reputation I had already built on my blog, which is the provider of helpful tutorials and in-plain-English content. I decided to focus on quick, bite-sized tips in my emails. I called it The Useletter because they are tips you can use.”

So did this simple template evolve over time, or was it planned from the outset?

“The basic, (mostly) text-only format has always been the same and it suits me well for 3 reasons: I like quick tips, I struggle to write blog posts and I’m lazy when it comes to including images. :)

“It was also somewhat inspired by NextDraft, the wildly popular daily news roundup written by Dave Pell.”

So what gets a coveted spot in The Useletter? How does Amy decide what’s most important? 

“I love to learn and my favorite online pastime is hunting for useful information. The internet is full of impressive people who share amazing tips and tricks. Whenever I come across something that makes me think, “Hey, that’s a great idea!” or “Oh, that’s handy!” I file it away to be included in The Useletter.

“I follow dozens of blogs and newsletters. I read ebooks, magazines, books and anything else I can download or put on my Kindle. I’m a huge fan of podcasts. Videos and webinars are often great sources of information too. Basically, anytime someone is talking about blogging or online business, I take note!

“Most of my reading material is funneled through Feedly where I categorize it according to my main topics. If it makes the cut as I scan through, it gets saved in Evernote, my holding tank for The Useletter tips. (Here’s how I use my editorial calendar.)”

Simplicity Gets Results

I think the simplicity works because it’s a little unexpected for an email. I’ve tried to format it in a way that people can quickly glean what they want. And I do my best to include a variety of actionable tips that doesn’t require reading a whole blog post to get the main nugget.”

It’s not only The Useletter that is frill-free: Amy’s website has been streamlined to make the most important things the focus and set aside all else. How has that worked for her? 

“I’m still experimenting with it, but yes, it did [improve The Useletter signup rates]. However, I’ve debated about switching it back, simply because I frustrate myself when I go to my site to lookup a post and I have to click through the home page first.”

So simplicity is a theme for her. But why?

“I appreciate simplicity in my own life. The more I’m online, the more complicated it feels. There’s just too much – too many graphics, too many apps, too many choices, too many ads, too many social media options. There’s too much vying for our attention. Simplicity makes life breathable.” [Tweet that!]

Simple Advice for Bloggers

Observe, listen and respond – to the people, not the gurus. Over the last few years, one of the clear messages I’ve heard from internet users is they’re suffering from information overload. They can’t keep up. And yet, bloggers and online business owners continue to churn out content at an astounding rate (I’m guilty too!). There’s nothing magical about simplicity, it’s just that simplicity is an antidote to a common pain point.

In Mailouts

Practice the art of empathy. Put yourself in your readers’ shoes. What would they appreciate? How can you help them? When it comes to online communication, email is intimate. Treat your subscribers with respect and they’ll stick with you for the long haul. Do your subscribers really want your email? Would you?” [Tweet that too!]

Simple Advice for Email Signup Rates

You can’t create sign ups, but you can create enticing content. Let the usefulness of your emails speak for themselves and others will eventually start promoting for you. Of course you can make your sign up form clear and conspicuous or offer a great lead magnet (i.e. freebie), but in my experience, word of mouth is a whole lot more effective.

After that, make your subscribers hesitant to unsubscribe, lest they miss out on what you’re going to send next!”

 

Wise words! I know I’ve been yearning for more simplicity in my blogging – I want to get to the heart of sharing something without sacrificing too much time and energy to do so. How about you? Feeling the pull to do more, be more? I’d love to chat in the comments!

Stacey is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more (so much more!) at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama (cat pictures welcome).