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5 Quick Questions with Robert Scoble: What Makes a Great Tech Blog?

 

roberts scoble

Robert Scoble is the brains behind the blog Scobleizer (which he’s just abandoned in favour of solely microblogging on Facebook), and a well-respected authority on social media, tech, and blogging. He has worked for Microsoft, and is currently with Rackspace. We were super-fortunate to grab a few minutes of his time to answer five questions about how to make your tech blog a success.

What do you think are the essentials a tech blog should have in order to be successful? 

Define success! For some, it might be just getting an industry discussion going. Others might want to build a media business to the place where they can quit their day job and do this full time.
In each, it really is simple: make content other people want to read, discuss, and share.
Of course, if that was so easy everyone would have a famous blog.
If I were starting out today I’d pick a niche that I could own that will get bigger over time. Today that might be Wearable Computers. Tomorrow? Brain interfaces or robots. These topics don’t yet have a blog that is dominant. It’s a lot easier to get going in a smaller niche that doesn’t yet have strong blogs.


What are the topics you’ve found really resonates with the readers? What seems to get the most engagement?

Drones. But, seriously, if you try writing about drones it’s too late. The trick is to find something that will be big tomorrow. If you had an exclusive insight into the Apple Watch, for instance (something that hasn’t yet been reported) that will do very well.


For newer bloggers, or those wanting to turn their tech blog into a business, what would you suggest focusing on first?

I would pick a small niche. Cover it to death. There’s no way you can really blow away Techcrunch, Verge, Re/code, in overall tech space unless you have millions of dollars. But, you can become the world’s leading drone (or brain interface, or robot, or wearable computer) expert and use that to edge your way into a business.

It really comes down to content. Do you have something that no one else has? Marques Brownlee, for instance, has a unique take on gadget reviews. Others focus on tech out of just a single country like China or Israel. Yet others, like Julien Blin, or Redg Snodgrass are trying to own the wearable space.

 

What is the hardest thing about being a tech blogger, and how have you worked to overcome that?

Sitting through all the pitches is the hardest thing. To find the next big thing you’ve probably got to see 150 so so companies. Maybe even more. I’ve been pitched in bathrooms (no no) and on the street at 2 a.m. at SXSW (also a no no). How do I overcome that? Always be nice, sit through a few minutes, and if you aren’t interested, say so and why. That said, most of the time now I only see things if referred by someone I trust.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given about blogging (or business in general?)

Be real. Don’t be corrupt, or better said, disclose conflicts. Dave Winer showed me the power of that more than a decade ago and it still serves me well today. It’s why I share so much of my private life. All you really have is your reputation. It’s why I work so hard on personal relationships with people across the industry.
What do you think? Have you experienced something that Robert has mentioned? I’d love to hear about it!

Blogging with Intention: Creating an Income from a Successful Blog with Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom

Crystal Paine is the founder of the amazingly successful MoneySavingMom.com, which sees 1.5 million visitors each month, and employs 13 full time staff. Born of a blog series that turned into an ebook, which then evolved into an e-course, Crystal realised her readers were hungry for a real-life guide to living frugally, but well; be it slashing their grocery bill, using coupons, or finding ways to run their home on less.

Crystal had been looking for ways to create an income while she was a stay at home mom, and realised she could make a healthy business meeting her readers’ need for such information. With forethought and intention, Crystal created and monetized the site, but was still surprised when it outdid their expectations – by a long shot.

In our interview, we chat about the plans she made before MoneySavingMom.com went live, the things she did to make it a success, and how they kept that ball rolling to create the main source of income for her family today. Crystal also shares her ideas on revenue streams, how long it actually took to make a consistent income, and tips that will help you be more intentional with your efforts to succeed.

Blogging with Intention: Creating an income from a successful blog with Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom

The Beginning: Blogging Goals and Direction

You started Money Saving Mom after a blog series turned into an ebook, which turned into an ecourse. What dreams did you have for the site, seeing as you’d already covered so much of the content elsewhere?

I realized that I had barely touched the tip of the iceberg with the ebook and e-course I wrote on cutting your grocery bill. My vision for MoneySavingMom.com was that I was going to be sharing specific deals you could find at your local drugstores and big box stores (such as Walmart and Target). I also planned to share deals I had gotten locally, as well as ways our family was living on a small budget. As there are new sales every week and I’m always finding great deals and bargains, I knew that it wouldn’t be too hard to come up with new material to blog about each week.

 

Step Two: Creating an Income

You were very intentional about monetizing the site from the start to help supplement your family’s income while you were a stay at home mom. Did you have an idea going into it how you would monetize? 

When I started MoneySavingMom.com in 2007, I had already dabbled into monetization on a mommy blog I had. I knew I could make money with sidebar ads, as well as sharing some affiliate links. Back then, the options were fairly limited, but I kept researching, watching what others were doing, and slowly started experimenting with new ideas. One of the best ways to monetize in the early days of the blog was by becoming an affiliate for coupon printing sites (such as Coupons.com). They would pay me per print session. So if I posted about a great deal on toothpaste at Walmart and shared a printable coupon on Coupons.com that could be paired with the sale to get an even better discount, I’d get paid for every person who printed that coupon. While it was only a small amount per coupon printed, since I posted quite a few coupons each week, it quickly added up! To this day, getting paid per print for sharing great printable coupons is one of our highest earning affiliate income sources!

Do you think creating a monetized blog from the get-go is much different to monetising an established blog? (I have heard some people say it is easier to start with monetizing in mind rather than then try and turn a personal or other type of blog into something that makes an income – I was wondering if that was your experience.)

Great question! I think it’s always wise to be strategic and to go into any venture with a long-term plan. That plan can always change as circumstances and opportunities change, but I think it’s important to have a destination in mind when you start out on any road. Otherwise, you may end up just going around in circles because you don’t have any clue where you’re headed.

That said, I still believe that Content Is King. You can have the best monetized blog in the world, but if your content isn’t helpful and relevant, all the monetization strategies aren’t going to make much of an impact. So I always encourage beginning bloggers to start by establishing yourself as a voice people want to listen to. Provide great content, write about topics that are relevant, format your posts in an organized manner, and share your posts on social media in a compelling manner. Focus on solving problems and meeting needs in what you write, build up your credibility, and slowly also work on creative ways to monetize your blog.

I am told a lot that some people really wrestle with the idea of monetizing, although they ultimately would like to. What advice would you have for them?

I know there are definitely camps who believe you should just write because you love it, not because you’re getting paid for it. I think you should do both. I’m of the opinion that if you’re going to spend so much time producing great content, you should also get paid for your time.   One of the best ways to monetize your site is to be a person of integrity. Write about things you are passionate about and be very particular in what products and affiliate links you promote. Never sacrifice your integrity in the name of a quick buck. When people trust you, they will put much more weight in what you promote.

For example, I rarely wholeheartedly endorse a product. I might talk about pros and cons, share what I liked about a product, but it’s rare that I’ll say that I LOVE something. Why? Because I want my words to have weight. If I “LOVE” everything, it becomes meaningless quickly. So honesty is paramount when you’re considering promoting a product. Always have your readers and their needs first and foremost. Analyze every opportunity in light of: will this benefit my readers? If it only benefits me or if just mostly benefits me, I always choose turn down the opportunity. By doing so, I can, in good conscience occasionally really wholeheartedly endorse a product, site, or service — and my readers will know that it is something really worth checking into.

What kind of mindframe do you need to be in to make a blog a financial success? Do you need to treat it like a business as early as possible? Or can that come later?

I think one of the greatest keys to be successful as a blogger — both in terms of building a readership and making an income from your blogging efforts — is consistency. If readers know they can count on you regularly posting great content, they are much more likely to regularly show up.   This doesn’t mean that you always have to post the same number of times every week, or always post at the same time each day, or that you can’t ever take a break from blogging, but it does mean that you treat your blogging seriously. If you are employed somewhere, you are expected to show up to work and complete your work in a timely manner. If you don’t, there will be fall out — you might miss out on that promotion, you might not get that coveted opportunity, or you might even lose your job.   It’s the same way with blogging. You need to do all you can to keep your commitments to your readers — or don’t make the commitments in the first place. You need to place priority on producing great content. And you need to show up regularly. When readers know they can count on you, they feel much more invested in you and connected to you.

Someone asked me not too long ago what the secret was to my success. My answer: “There are no secrets; just hard work.” I have blogged almost every single day but Sunday, every single week, every year since I began blogging in 2005.   That’s a LOT of blogging. And trust me, while I truly love blogging, there were days when I would have rather been doing something else. I have stayed up late at night, gotten up early in the morning, and worked on Saturdays and holidays. There have been grueling and exhausting seasons, but the commitment, drive, and consistency have paid off in big ways.

Related: Crystal’s extensive list of resources and information of how she makes money blogging.

The Elusive Blog/Life Balance

What advice would you give to moms or parents who were much like you in the early days – trying to get a blog off the ground while balancing that with the needs of your home and family?

My best advice would be to not follow in my footsteps and bite off way more than you can chew! Instead, I encourage you to write down your goals. Where do you want to be in six months from now? A year from now? 5 years from now?   In considering your six month goals, write down a list of everything that needs to happen in order to achieve those goals. Then, pick the top 3 most important to-do items on your list as your first priorities.

After you’ve chosen your top 3 action items, consider how much time you realistically have to invest each day. Maybe it’s just 30 minutes or an hour. That’s okay. Start there, but remember that if you don’t have much time to invest, you may need to scale back your expectations for how quickly you accomplish your goals.   Break those three items down into bite-sized steps and then make an appointment with yourself for your 30 minute or 1-hour time block (or however much time you’ve committed) and make it a priority. Set the timer. Start in on one of the steps and keep going until the timer goes off.   While you might not accomplish as much as you’d like as quickly as you’d like, you probably be surprised how much you can accomplish in 30 minute to 1 hour blocks of focused effort.

Strategy

You have said before that you and your husband just wanted to “see where this goes” in the early days of your blog – did you have a particular timeframe, or certain goals that would help you decide to continue?

My goal was to make a part-time income (I was aiming for around $1200 per month.) I knew that this amount would help not only supplement our income, but would allow us to be able to save and give more.   It took me around 2.5 years of hard, hard work, to hit that amount on a consistent monthly basis. And there were many months in the beginning when I wondered if I was just chasing after some really unrealistic dream. But eventually I started to not only hit that goal every month, but then to exceed it. Pretty soon, I was consistently doubling that initial goal, and then tripling it. It was so gratifying to realize that all those early months where I was doing well to make $2-$3 per hour paid off! I’m so glad I didn’t give up when it felt like my efforts weren’t really going anywhere.

When did you realise the blog was actually going to be successful?

When I started MoneySavingMom.com in 2007, I truly pictured that it was just going to be a little off-shoot of the mommy blog I had started in 2005. So, you can imagine my shock when, within a few months of starting it, I was getting 14,000 to 16,000 pageviews per day on it! It blew my mind!   And it just kept growing… until we finally got to the point that I was having find a hosting company that didn’t cost an arm and a leg and could sustain the traffic that the site was generating!

Support Networks

How important is your husband’s support in your work?

Honestly, I doubt I would be blogging if it weren’t for my husband. He is my best friend and biggest cheerleader. When I was initially considering starting my first mommy blog, he believed in me and encouraged me to do it. When I was considering starting, MoneySavingMom.com, he said, “Go for it!” I’m positive I never would have had the courage to hit “publish” on so many posts if it weren’t for him reading through them with me and saying, “Yes, you need to publish that. Someone needs to read it.”

In those moments when I’ve doubted myself, wondered what I was thinking, or even considered quitting, his voice has been there speaking words of motivation, reminding me of the why behind what I do: to inspire and impact people. He’s prodded me out of my comfort zone so many times. He takes care of the kids so I can write. He runs our household when I’m out of town on business trips. He serves as a sounding board when I have difficult situations come up.   He takes care of all the legal and financial aspects of the business. He’s always reading through contracts for me, helping my team with legal questions that come up, working with our accountant to make sure all the books and payroll are taken care of (spreadsheets give me hives!), and working with me to dream for the future and make sure we stay accountable to our business goals.

Branching Out: Evolving the Blog

You now employ 13 people – what’s the most difficult thing about being a boss rather than a sole blogger? What is the best thing?

I never would have envisioned that I’d someday be running a business with multiple people working for me, not just a blog that I write on! It’s been quite the adventure and I’m so very grateful for the wonderful folks who are on this road with me!   The hardest thing about managing a team has been trusting my gut and actually being the one to be leading the team. I’ve grown a lot as a person through running a business and have been blessed to have some really wise people mentoring me along the way.

One of the pieces of advice I’ve received was that I need to be the one who sets the course. I need to decide the direction we’re going and then encourage and inspire my team to help me be successful in heading in that direction. My tendency would be to be all, “Whatever you think is best.” Or to just not communicate a clear-cut vision for where we’re headed. I’m learning and growing in this… but I’m still very much a work in progress!

The best thing about having a team working with me is that it’s not only a lot more fun to be in this with such brilliant and wonderful people, but we get so much more done because my team members are much, much more talented in so many areas than me. Plus, my team is committed to helping me only do what I do best and to take all the other projects, details, and work off my shoulders. It’s a humbling thing to have such fantastic people working together with me to further the mission I have for MoneySavingMom.com. Often, when we’re working on a big project and brainstorming about it, I’ll step back and just look at the amazing brilliance represented in the room and think to myself, “I cannot believe that I have the honor of working with these incredible people!”

Related: You can read more of Crystal’s story in her post: This Crazy Journey I’ve Been on the Last 10 Years (and Yes, You can Make Money Blogging!). 

So what do you think? Are there strategies Crystal used that you can now take into your own blogging experience? I know personally I got a lot from her forward-thinking and intentional decisions to create a successful site. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net, and the gal behind Veggie Mama. A writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd, she can be found making play-dough, reading The Cat in the Hat for the eleventh time, and avoiding the laundry. See evidence on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and twitter @veggie_mama.

Six Secrets to Six-Figure Product Launches with Jeff Goins

goins11NOTE: We are running a free webinar with Jeff over at ProBlogger.com in two days (November 19), where he will talk about the Four Keys to Building a Powerful Audience Online. Normally the full webinars are only available to paid members of the site, but there will be a few big names in the next few months sharing their knowledge in our free sessions. You will need to create a free account.

Please head to the webinar page, and and click “Sign up here” to register for a free account and to register for the webinar. You will receive an email confirming your registration, and another reminder email as the webinar approaches.

Please note that our last public webinar was very popular and we can only take 1000 on the live call. We do record them though and send all who register a link to the recording.

Without further ado, here’s Jeff to explain how to totally nail any product launch with his six secrets. Thanks, Jeff

Six secrets to Six-Figure Product Launches with Jeff Goins

A few years ago, when I was just getting started with trying to monetize my blog, I met a successful online entrepreneur. When I asked her how I could start making money off my blog, she asked how big my email list was. I told her, and she said that was a six-figure business.

I laughed and explained to her that it was more like a three-figure business. I had run a couple of ads that had made me a total of about $400 in the past six months. I did not have a business.

“No,” she said. “You’ve got at least six figures there. You just need to leverage your influence and get your audience to buy from you.”

It turns out she was right. In fact, that advice didn’t just help me build a six-figure business in a year. It taught me how to start doing $100,000 product launches — not only for my own business but for other people’s businesses, as well.

I stumbled on to some secrets, thanks to the advice of that online entrepreneur and a handful of other mentors over the years, and I want to share them with you.

Secret #1: You Have to Want It

Okay, so I want to acknowledge the elephant in the room. I know this might sound out of reach to you. Pie in the sky sort of stuff. And I totally get that.

I remember reading Darren Rowse talk about his first year of blogging and how he “only made $30,000.” When I read that, I was working a job that was paying me a salary of that same amount, and making 30K online sounded like a dream.

So trust me when I tell you that nobody is more surprised to hear me talk about things like “six-figure product launches” than me.

But after doing this for a couple years now, I’ve realized an important truth about business: more income means more impact. Or as Walt Disney once said, “We don’t make movies to make money. We make money to make more movies.”

If you are like I was and tend to think of business and income-generating strategies as greedy or “evil,” I want you to reconsider your stance.

First, consider the income. What would $100,000 mean to you and your loved ones? Could it be a means to more freedom or a chance to travel the world or see your kids go to college? Maybe it would be a way for you give to all the charities and nonprofits you’d love to contribute to.

Then, consider the impact. If you sell a $100 product, $100,000 in revenue means you’ve just made an impact on 1000 people’s lives. I don’t know about you, but personally impacting 1000 people sounds like a lot of work. But a scalable product, especially an information product, allows you to do that.

It might sound hypey to talk about $100,000 launches, but I promise you: what I’m about to share with you is a series of practical principles I’ve seen proven over and over again. And they’ve allowed my friends and clients to not only live their dreams but to help a lot of people in the process.

The same could be true for you, but you’ve got to reconcile your relationship with revenue and get focused on the goal. This isn’t about just making more money. It’s about making a difference.

So let’s look now at what it takes to pull off a six-figure launch.

Secret #2: Having a Great Product Is Not Enough (But It’s a Start)

We can’t overlook this step as it is so important to creating a brand with integrity and building a loyal customer base. You’ve got to create what Michael Hyatt calls “wow” products and experiences.

Why? Because frankly, your customers deserve the best work you can possibly do. And because this is the kind of work that people talk about.

Apple is one of the the biggest brands and most successful companies in the world not because of their marketing (they spend a fraction of what their competitors do on advertising), but because of the experiences users have with their products. If ask a Mac fanatic why they love all their iGear, they will tell you, “It just works.”

That’s what wow looks like.

But having a great product is not enough. In fact, it is the basic requirement to even enter the market. Once you have something you are proud of, something the world needs, you have only just begun.

Secret #3: It’s Not About Having a Big List

A lot of people mistakenly believe having a big email list is necessary to monetizing your audience. They think they need something like 20,000 subscribers just to make a living.

Try telling that to Carol Tice, who launched her quarter of a million dollar business with only 1000 subscribers. Or Tim Grahl who has already started replacing his income running a successful book marketing company with digital products that he launches to his list of less than 10,000 people.

It doesn’t take a big list. It takes a willingness to sell.

My friend Stu McLaren, cofounder of Wishlist Member and Rhino Support, once told me that if you want to make more money, do one of the following:

  1. Increase your market size. If you have a smaller email list (less than 10,000 people), then you will want to either: a) rapidly grow the list, or b) partner with affiliates who can help you reach more people now (as opposed to spending the months or years it would take to organically grow your own audience. Firepole Marketing founder Danny Iny told me, “The key to the big launches is the groundwork that goes into building the relationships that make it happen.”
  2. Increase your price. This is often the easiest tweak to make and frankly the most common error I see bloggers and online entrepreneurs make. We are notoriously bad at valuing our own services and offerings and therefore tend to price ourselves lower than we should. The market will always sustain more than you think it can. Remember that, and when in doubt, raise the price. You’re worth more than you realize.
  3. Increase your sales frequency. Another problem people face is being unwilling to sell too hard. They don’t want to appear pushy or salesy, and end up unintentionally sabotaging their business. Look. You don’t have to be pushy or slimy or do anything unethical to sell. Selling is serving; it’s helping your audience connect with an offering that will truly help them (remember: you’re starting with a great product). So when it’s time to sell, sell hard. Make a case for why this is the very best thing out there, and let people know. And when you aren’t sure what to do, send another email.

A big email list is great, but having a lot of subscribers in and of itself won’t guarantee you a ton of sales. You need to understand the finer points of business: how to identify what a market wants, what they’re willing to pay, and how to get them to buy.

Which is what we’re going to cover in the next section.

Secret #4: Sell Like You Mean It

When you’re doing all of the above and people still aren’t buying, then you don’t have a strategy problem. You have a selling problem.

If you’re doing all the right things, and people still aren’t buying, it’s probably how you’re selling. You’re probably missing three important triggers, which author and entrepreneur Carrie Wilkerson talks about:

  • Scarcity.
  • Urgency.
  • Awareness.

If people aren’t buying, it’s often because they feel like they can buy at any time, or that there will always be enough, or they simply aren’t aware something is for sale.

So when you feel stuck, try the following:

  1. Only sell a certain number of units per launch. This feels scary, because you could be limiting your potential revenue, but really what you’re doing is creating a sense of exclusivity (which equals value in the customer’s mind). Warning: if you use this strategy, don’t create false scarcity. If you say you are only going to sell 200 seats to your online workshop, then close registration when you meet your quota. Otherwise, people will find you out for the snake oil sales person you are.
  2. Offer a time-sensitive deal. (i.e. “Save $100 when you buy this week!” of “Don’t miss these three bonuses — buy today!”).
  3. Talk about your launch — a lot. Send more than one email (best practice is to do one on launch day and two on the final day).

Secret #5: Give People Options

When Chris Guillebeau gave Nathan Barry (who incidentally doesn’t have a huge list and is killing it with online product launches) a simple piece of advice, it literally made him hundreds of thousands of dollars.

What was this simple piece of advice?

“Selling in multiple packages has worked really well for me.”

He said it in typical Guillebeau, off-handed humility. But in that statement was a ton of value that made Nathan more money than any other piece of advice he’s ever received.

Nathan estimates that having multiple price points for each product has allowed him to make two to three times as much money as he would have made, launching at just one price point.

Putting It All Together

The other day I was chatting with a friend who recently started an online business. He was telling me all about his next project, which was another online course he hoped to create, launch, and sell by the end of the year.

“Dude,” I said. “What are you doing?! How much money have you made off your course so far?” He admitted it wasn’t much. He thought, as many do, that the solution was to create the next thing. But he was wrong.

I then proceeded to walk my friend through the process I’ve shared with you, encouraging him to keep selling what he had already built. He planned his next launch and it ended up being bigger than any other launch he’s ever had.

He was made a believer. And I hope you are, too. The secret to a successful product launch isn’t just about the product. That’s a given. But good products, as Guy Kawasaki once told me, don’t sell themselves. You’ve got to launch them well.

When I was struggling to monetize my blog and figure out how to make a living off my email list, I decided to start listening to what all these smart people were telling me:

  • I reached out to people who could help my reach more people. Some became affiliates while others just helped spread the word.
  • I raised my prices, basically every time I did a new launch.
  • I leaned in and boldly promoted a product I was proud of.

And it all worked like a charm. Each launch, more people bought than the last time, and I made more money. But it wasn’t just the income (sure, it was nice to be making 10 times what I was making at my day job), but the satisfaction of knowing I was helping thousands of people was amazing.

It’s about the impact.

Taking the Next Step

So what does this look like for you? Here’s a recap of all of the above:

  1. Decide you want this.
  2. Commit to a plan and set a launch date.
  3. Build something awesome that you are proud to promote.
  4. Connect with people who will help extend your reach.
  5. Launch with scarcity, urgency, and awareness in mind, all the while building trust and delivering value along the way.

And watch the magic happen.

For more secrets to successful product launches, check out this page I put together just for Problogger readers.

Jeff Goins is an author, blogger, and entrepreneur who lives in Nashville. He loves helping writers and bloggers get the attention their messages deserve. Tweet at him @JeffGoins and get a free product launch resource here.

Stop Reading, Start Doing. Now.

Stop Reading, Start Doing - time to put that knowledge into practice / problogger.net

I’m going to hazard a guess that you are here at ProBlogger.net because you want to know how to make a blog a success. With a successful blog, you can make some money, right? With the knowledge you glean from here and other places, you’re hoping to take your blog to the next level.

But I think that’s where a lot of us get stuck. With the knowledge.

We may in theory know what it takes to create great content, find readers, nail social media, and run a much-loved blog. But we may also stop short of actually putting that knowledge into practice. And what is the point of having all that knowledge, if you’re not going to use it to help your dreams come true?

I think we’re all guilty of it to some degree. There have been tons of things I knew I should do, but thought I lacked the time or the skills to do so. One day, I forced myself to sit down and make those small changes on my blog, one at a time. And you know what? They weren’t so hard, and they didn’t take much time. Things like installing a sticky top bar messenger for newsletter signups, revamping my About page so it more accurately reflected what my blog is about, actually testing some Pinterest strategies… my list was seemingly endless. And seemingly endless lists can be overwhelming – so much so that we don’t even get started on them.

What I want you to do (today, if you can!) and pick one thing you’ve learned recently and actually do it.

You know what those things are that are floating around in the back of your mind. That you’ll get to one day. Well, today is your day! Go! Do!

Which one do you think you will try? I’d love to hear in the comments what’s on your list, or what you’ve done recently that has really worked.

 

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net, and the gal behind Veggie Mama. A writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd, she can be found making play-dough, reading The Cat in the Hat for the eleventh time, and avoiding the laundry. See evidence on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and twitter @veggie_mama.

Be a Better Blogger by Doing as Little as Possible

problogger.netWhen you make the decision to grow your blog and hopefully create an income from it, it can be so easy to fall into the trap of doing everything all at once in the name of getting as much exposure as you can. You’re blogging every day, you’re promoting those posts to your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, you’re ensuring all posts have a Pinnable image, and you’re Instagramming the behind-the-scenes for your followers. You’re working hard, commenting on other blogs, finding interesting things to retweet, staying up half the night with your editorial calendar, reading sites like this one about how to make money, and signing up with the next big thing in case it can help grow your blog (Vine, anyone?!).

It’s pretty easy to get to a stage where your blog is running you instead of you running your blog. You’re drowning in emails, you can keyword posts in your sleep, you’re a slave to your stats, and you will scream if Facebook changes its algorithm one more time.

But that’s not all. You’ve had ideas for a Blog Series, several eBooks, a podcast and an eCourse. You’re keen to get started – in fact, when you see how successful others are, you wish you started years ago.

But what if you’re stretched so thin that you’re doing everything, and none of it as well as you could? What would convince you to cut back to only a few things, and putting your heart and soul into making them great?

A while ago I was listening to the How they Blog Podcast with Kat Lee. Kat is a blogger, a podcaster, and a stay-at-home mom of three. She has two blogs (each with their own podcast), the usual number of social media sites, eBooks, a small blogging course, coaching sessions, and seemingly a huge number of things that need her attention on a daily basis.

But one thing she said in conversation with another blogger really caught my attention: her motto is “do as little as possible as well as possible”.

Each year, each season, she has different things she focuses on, and is happy to let the others take a back seat. I decided to ask her more about it, in the hopes that the way she came to streamline her online presence might be inspiring to those of you who are a little bit overwhelmed and over it.

First things first: How did Kat adopt the mantra?

“I’m an ideas person,” she says. “I love being creative and starting things, but while this can be a definite advantage, it can also be a huge disadvantage – I realized that every time I started working a new idea, I was actually also giving up on something else. And if I kept moving on to new things, I’d never develop anything excellent.

“We all have a finite amount of time in the day. I’d rather be excellent at one or two things than dabble and be average in twenty things.”

For the people I know who have turned their backs on “having it all” and have shifted gears to hone their talents in one or two areas at a time, it was usually because of burnout. Trying to be all things to all people at all times had forced them to make a change. Kat says it wasn’t quite like that for her, but she still needed to make that change.

“Honestly, I think I hit “plateau” stage rather than “burnout” stage,” she says. “I wondered why things weren’t taking off like they used to. I finally realized that greater levels of success require greater levels of sacrifice. That’s why you don’t see Olympic athletes at McDonald’s or Disneyland the day before their gold medal event. We all have a limited capacity for…everything. So the only way to increase our capacity for one thing is to reduce our capacity in another area – hence “Do as little as possible, as well as possible.”

“This past year, I’ve focused a lot more on podcasting (and less on writing) and as a result, my podcast [Inspired to Action] is consistently on the Top of the Kids and Family charts on iTunes. The beauty of this is that I’m not eternally confining myself to anything. Just because I’m currently focusing on podcasting, doesn’t mean I’ll never write another epic blog post. It just means not right now. “This season is for learning how to consistently create excellent podcasts and building systems and skills that will make it all relatively habitual. As I build habits, podcasting requires less effort. Eventually, much of it will become second nature…which then increases my capacity to add something else back in – like writing.

Gary Keller says, “Success comes sequentially, not simultaneously.” Ronald Reagan was a famous actor and President of the United States of America, but not at the same time. We just don’t have the capacity for simultaneous excellence, but we can build on our knowledge and skills so that we can have sequential success. I want to do things with excellence and excellence can only be achieved with focus on one thing at a time.”

When you’re new or you’ve just made the decision to turn your blog into a business, the internet is a world of possibility. It can take time to get to a point (whether burnout or plateau or otherwise) to really narrow down your focus. You might not want to do less, you’re happy to just be on the playing field. Kat explains the situation well:

“I think the biggest reason [for that] is because newer bloggers aren’t sure what they want,” she says.

“That’s not a bad thing, but until they figure out what they want, it’s hard to find the motivation to say no to other things. Just like kids participate in 24,976 different activities – their job as a child is to figure out where their talents and passions collide. Once they find that sweet spot they can then arrange their effort around pursuing it with excellence.

“It’s the same with a new blogger. Until they know their audience, their message and their voice, it’s hard to say no to all the opportunities that are out there.”

In fact – Kat thinks it might be worth newer bloggers shifting priorities at the start to ensure that when they do focus, they’ve got a solid foundation from which to grow.

“I think that a new blogger needs to focus on writing and connecting with their audience,” she says. “Increasing traffic and building a platform and refining their message should come AFTER they actually know what they want to say. Otherwise, they spent all that energy possibly building their platform in the wrong location.

“However, I do think they can follow the motto by applying it to the process of finding their message, audience and voice. Be focused about writing and honest about what resonates with you and your readers. Instead of spending energy on increasing your page views, focus your energy on understanding what you want to say and who needs to hear it.”

So how does the motto manifest itself in Kat’s reality?

“I’ve narrowed down what I do online,” she says. “Ironically, I blog less and podcast more. I’d rather have a Top 10 podcast and an average blog and social media presence, than an average everything. Of course, as I mentioned before this is temporary. Once I have a system for podcasting with excellence, I want to return to writing and learn to do it with excellence.

And as someone who has spent a lot of time being intentional about how she divides her attention, she has some advice:

What’s the best tip you’ve found to help you pare back?

To use physical folders. It’s easy to expand digitally, but if I have physical folders for projects I’m working on and limit those to 6 at any given time, I have a concrete reminder when I over commit.

Did you read any books or resources that helped you refine your schedule?

Simplfy by Bill Hybels, The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst and Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Andrews

 

What would be something you’d like to pass onto bloggers who are feeling overwhelmed?

Why are you blogging? What message burns within you that you know will help others? Who are you blogging for? Once you know the answers to those questions, it’s so much easier to separate the blogging wheat from the blogging chaff. Just like a hunter might have a super powerful gun that can down any deer from a mile away, if he isn’t locked in on the target, that powerful gun doesn’t do him a bit of good. Find your target, then scale down your vision to focus on it – success comes easily once you do that.

So what do you think – is simplifying but excelling something for you? What would you focus on? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net, and the gal behind Veggie Mama. A writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd, she can be found making play-dough, reading The Cat in the Hat for the eleventh time, and avoiding the laundry. See evidence on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and twitter @veggie_mama.

Rebranding Your Blog: The Resources

REBRANDING YOUR BLOG-

Last week we had Jodi from Practising Simplicity talk us through the decision behind rebranding her six-year-old established blog.

Many of you had questions about the technical details of moving a blog, so I’ve rounded up some resources to help. You will find everything from changing social media handles to 301 redirects. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments and we will try to assist!

Before you even start, get clear on WHY you want to rebrand: Nuts and Bolts Media // Things to Consider Before Rebranding Your Blog.

The Lotus Creative // How to Rebrand Your Blog Has a step-by-step guide right from the very beginning – choosing a name and getting a .com. Kate also discusses traffic loss due to the switch, and what you can do about it.

This post also goes into moving a blog from an SEO perspective to keep your traffic high : Search Engine Land // How to Rebrand Without Losing Your Hard-Earned Rankings.

Freeing Imperfections // How I Rebranded My Blog goes into more design issues – how to find a customisable theme and how to make your blog visually reflect you the blogger.

Tico and Tina has an entire series on Rebranding Your Blog which should have you brainstorming taglines and making decisions about navigation in no time.

There are step-by-step images and screenshots on exactly how to switch to a new domain here at Elizabeth Loves // Rebranding Your Blog 101: The Technical Stuff.

And for seriously in-depth discussion (with a little bit of humour!) about the nitty-gritty of seamlessly rebranding your social media accounts, Moz has got you covered with How to Rebrand Your Social Media Accounts. They include just about every social account you can think of. More than I could think of, actually!

What kind of hiccups have you encountered when rebranding your blog? Is it even making the decision to do it?

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net, and the gal behind Veggie Mama. A writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd, she can be found making play-dough, reading The Cat in the Hat for the eleventh time, and avoiding the laundry. See evidence on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and twitter @veggie_mama.

Thinking of Rebranding Your Blog? Read This.

course

Rebranding an established and successful business? Why would you do that?

For some, the risk of changing the name of something people have grown to know and love is too big. For others, the risk of being boxed into something they no longer feel much affinity for is even bigger.

No doubt it’s a scary leap to rebrand a blog – would people still read? Would a slight shift in direction upset the established audience? Would the to-do list of technical issues be too overwhelming? Would you lose all that Google love you’ve built up over the years?

At some point, if you’ve felt the rumbling undercurrent of wanting to make a change, you’ll decide those reasons are no longer enough to hold you back. And so you research new domain names, you design new logos, you test the waters. And you make the switch – your blog (and your online identity) is something new. Something more you.

Jodi Wilson did that on New Year’s Eve 2013. She took a blog she had lovingly nurtured for six years from online journal to a much larger online place of community and inspiration, and gave it a complete overhaul. Once a place to share the milestones and sleepless nights as a new parent, the blog had evolved into a new space of a woman finding joy in a simple, humble life. And Jodi felt it required a new look and name to reflect that.

One of the biggest factors in the name change was the fact that my blog was originally named after my son and his teddy – Che & Fidel,” she says.

“Che had started school in 2013 and all of a sudden his world was much bigger and I had less control. I didn’t feel like his stories were mine to share anymore and it only felt right to stop blogging about him, hence the blog name just didn’t resonate. As I wrote in my first post as PS: ‘Che & Fidel no longer resonated with me, I didn’t feel like it represented my blog or my intention. My days of sharing notable milestones and tales of sleepless nights were over. Instead I was using my blog as a means of exploring ideas and seeking inspiration. It was more about my experience as a woman than just my experience as a mother’.

“It wasn’t a decision I made lightly, either. To tell you the truth, my energy and enthusiasm for blogging was waning and I needed a boost, as a creative and a writer. I wanted to keep doing it, to keep enjoying it, but there were times when it was a hard slog – it was work.”

The hardest part, she says, was finding a new name that would encompass all the blog had come to be about. A name that would resonate with people, but most importantly, herself.

“I spent months exploring different names and, of course, checking whether the domain was available (it was really important for me to move to a .com). Funnily enough, the name was quite literally staring me in the face the entire time,” she says.

“In June 2013 I started a series called Practising Simplicity where I explored simple living. The series was as much about me exploring new ways of being as it was about sharing information with my readers. I loved writing it because it inspired me; it made me more mindful of my creative process, my parenting, my wellbeing. It wasn’t until mid-November, when I was reading through past posts in the hope of “finding” a name, that the idea came to me. Of course, it was perfect (and yes, the .com was available).”

Often a change in name can mean a change in blog direction, but mostly always means a change in logo and branding. Jodi says a new design for Practising Simplicity was “essential”, launching her blog in the new year with not only a new name, but a new web address, and a clean, simple, refined design that reflected her aesthetic and intention.

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 1.52.17 pm

It also comes with a not-so-small checklist of to-dos to ensure your readers are redirected with a minimum of fuss, your social media accounts are changed, and all the boxes are ticked (you can check out the one Tsh Oxenreider used when she made a similar change from her hugely successful blog Simple Mom into The Art of Simple).

Jodi saved a lot of time and heartache by getting it right the first time around: “I handed much of the technical work over to my tech guy Graeme - I knew it was beyond me and it felt only right to employ someone who knew exactly what they were doing,” she says.

“Graeme managed to redirect my Che & Fidel address to PS with ease – basically, if you go to my old address you automatically end up at practisingsimplicity.com - don’t ask me how he did it, I’m just glad he managed to work it out!  When it came to changing my IG profile – that was done with a simple name change in my profile. I contacted Facebook and requested they change the name of my page; which they did within 48 hours. I did the same for bloglovin’.”

But while the technical side of things can easily be taken care of, and you’re excited about a new change, new branding, and new direction – that doesn’t mean everything will go smoothly. Jodi said there was certainly some small fears on her part, but received wonderful support from her readers.

“I was realistic about the fact that there may be readers that wouldn’t appreciate the change. But at the end of the day I was making the change for me more than anyone else,” she says.

“I knew that I couldn’t keep blogging with heart unless I was proud of the space I was creating – it needed to be authentic, no ifs or buts.

“When I pressed “publish” on that first post I remember sitting back and marvelling at the fact that my humble online journal had become a website – one that earned me an income. It was a bit overwhelming to tell you the truth. Who would have thought? After I got over that I received a few very encouraging comments from long time readers. I exhaled.”

And the biggest fear of all for some – how will the readers react?

“With an incredible amount of positivity!,” Jodi says of her experience.

“They felt like the change was a perfect fit for my current content – the ultimate feedback. There was, of course, a few comments regarding readers’ dislike of sidebar sponsors but every comment was expressed with kindness which I’m incredibly grateful for. Each to their own!”

If you’re thinking of making the switch, Jodi has some words of advice for you:

“When you launch a new space there are always going to be hiccups. Be patient – they won’t take long to fix.

Also, if you’re considering making a change – do it! It’s the best thing I’ve ever done for my career. Within weeks of launching my new space I had numerous new sponsors who appreciated the fact that my blog was more “lifestyle” as opposed to “mumsy” and I continue to work with all of them. The new look also caught the attention of publishing company, Blurb, who offered me a book deal (six weeks after my launch!).”

You can find Jodi at her blog, Facebook, and Instagram.

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net, and the gal behind Veggie Mama. A writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd, she can be found making play-dough, reading The Cat in the Hat for the eleventh time, and avoiding the laundry. See evidence on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and twitter @veggie_mama.

Q&A: Your Social Media Strategy

There’s not much Darren hasn’t tried in the way of social media, and using it as a complement to his blog.

In this webinar (available in full to ProBlogger.com members), he outlines his method for success, as well as answering your questions about how to make the best use of this media.

Darren covers:

  • Where social media fits in your blogging journey
  • What hierarchy of importance social media should go in (because you can’t be across everything!)
  • How to find readers
  • How to build a presence
  • How often you should update your social media channels
  • Hints for scheduling your content
  • How much time you should invest in it
  • What your status updates should say
  • Case studies of status updates that really worked

And questions sourced from the ProBlogger.com forums as well as your inquiries on Facebook and Twitter. One not to be missed!

Creating and Selling Ebooks Webinar

This webinar (available in full for ProBlogger.com members) features ProBlogger Marketing Ninja Shayne Tilley outlining the strategy for getting the best return on your efforts creating and selling eBooks.

It covers:

  • Sell Sheets: Do you need one? What is it? How to make a good one.
  • What content to have in your book – what shouldn’t you miss?
  • An effective book outline
  • Thinking about your audience
  • Your review process
  • Writing tips – not only to get content written, but also tips about format, consistency and even mindframe mid-book
  • The editing process
  • Adding visual elements
  • What your final draft should look like
  • The design – DIY or outsource? How to do it thriftily
  • Which format is best – PDF, ePub, Mobi, audio?
  • Sales pages – what should they contain
  • Gearing up for your launch, and what you should do to prepare
  • How to plan your launch month
  • How to manage the book and sales once it is out there.

ProBlogger.com is home to to the ProBlogger Community, featuring regular webinars on all kinds of content, forums to connect with other bloggers, along with discounts, and free plugin downloads. You can join here. See you there!