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5 Basics to Having Your Post go Viral

5 basics to having your post go viral - the foundations of shareable content on ProBlogger.net

The longer I blog, the more I hear of bloggers trying to go viral.

I’m sure on top of posting consistently, using social media strategically, and generally providing interesting, useful, and inspiring content on the internet, it would be a little help if that content was seen by as many people as possible. Even better if those people hang around and provide ongoing traffic. Going viral wouldn’t hurt, right?

While it won’t happen to everyone, and it’s almost impossible to force, there’s no doubt going viral can be useful when you can get it. Viral posts usually have similar threads in common, so you’re bound to give your post a little push if you can ensure it contains this combination of essentials:

1. Reach out and touch somebody

The one aspect that always appears in viral content is its ability to invoke an emotion in the reader.

No emotion? No sharing!

In addition to that, the most shared content is said to be content that evokes a strong positive emotional response. So yeah anger and indignation will get people sharing (outrage is also good!), apparently what works best is the warm and fuzzies. A 2010 study of the New York Times “most emailed” list found the articles that were shared often tended to fall into one of four categories: awe-inspiring, emotional, positive, or surprising.

Recently, two professors studying the motivations of virality came to the conclusion that while content is shared for ultimately many reasons, it’s emotional reactions that tend to drive the most shares. In addition to that, content that makes your heart race is more likely to go viral. Written anything that powerful yet?!

In the article, they say “Content that makes readers or viewers feel a positive emotion like awe or wonder is more likely to take off online than content that makes people feel sad or angry, though causing some emotion is far better than inspiring none at all.”

Have a think about how you can get your message across. Is there a personal story you can share? Is there a humanist spin you can put on it? How can you really create your post with “resonating with the reader” in mind?

Viral content is compelling, interesting, funny, moving, and if you’ve really hit the jackpot – the next item on our list!

2. Be useful

Everybody loves a life hack. I’ve been eating apples wrong all this time? Chinese Takeout? Slicing grapes? Mind blown, must share.

When you think about creating content that people can’t help but share, thing about how you can be useful. How you can add value, find their pain points and solve them. Have they got questions? Answer them? Be inspiring, be emotive, heck, maybe even be a little controversial. But useful content is king – you’re starting off on the right foot if you’ve got that down pat.

3. It’s all about the reader

Apparently people will share content when it says something about who they are. It might make them seem intelligent, it might show how much they care for the less fortunate, or it might just show they’ve an excellent sense of humour. They’ll share reflections of their personalities, and you’re going to give them the content to do just that. The article says sharable content is “often a statement about what you believe in, what causes or values you align yourself with, and what, in particular, you love and identify with”, so make sure your content fills one of those needs.

Aaaaaaand I googled the term “extreme selfies” after reading that article. Buzzfeed, you’ve done it again!

4. Get a Head Start

If you want your content out there, being seen by the max amount of eyeballs possible, then begin by putting it there. Don’t just publish and hold your breath. We all know Facebook is making it difficult to be seen in newsfeeds, and evidence is showing Twitter doesn’t drive traffic like it once did – so think outside the box. I’m sure you’ve got an RSS or email post mailout sorted, but you can also upload to Slideshare, LinkedIn, YouTube, have something in your email signatures, forum signatures, you can submit to Digg and Reddit if you can, even StumbleUpon if you think that might help.

Don’t discount Google+, there’s still a few going strong over there! Some blog commenting systems (particularly WordPress style ones) have the option to link to a post – choose that one when you’re commenting. Post it to Pinterest – several times. Does it have a Pinterest-worthy image? Get on that!

Have you sorted the SEO? Is it keyword-rich (but natural, because nobody’s gonna read a robot)? Have you provided keywords for images, and in the alt-text? Have you checked the metadata?

You can ask people to share, if you think it will help. Email influential people (if relevant) and ask them to share if they feel it will benefit their readers. Ask people to retweet. Invite them to share at the bottom of your posts. Mention sharing in your Facebook update. Ask your friends and family to share if they can/want to. Sometimes all it takes is a little prompt.

It also doesn’t hurt to jump on a news story or trend when it’s reaching its peak. Does it have an angle you can cover on your blog? What is capturing the internet’s attention that you can build on, or provide an alternative opinion to? Do you have further information, something themed that will resonate, or have you covered this issue before? Ride that wave!

5. Make it easy

You really can’t expect people to share if you haven’t made it easy for them to begin with [tweet that!]. Have clear social sharing icons displayed prominently (wherever works for you – a scrolling set on the side, at the bottom of your post, at the top, etc), and ensure you’ve configured them to show the top five or six platforms you think will be most useful or that people are likely to share on.

Provide tweetable quotes, like I have above. Two clicks and they’re done! Have a Facebook-sized image somewhere in your post that people can use. Lead that horse as close as you can to the water, and they just might drink!

Have you ever had a post go viral? Did it fit the criteria here? Do you remember the viral posts that have caught your attention? What was it about them that compelled you to share? 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 or be entertained on Facebook.

4 Things to Consider When Choosing Your Domain Name

Choosing a domain name - Don't choose anything until you've read these four things to consider at problogger.net

When there’s more than 284 million registered domain names online, you’re going to want yours to stand out. But you also want to be easily remembered, have a URL that accurately describes your business, and it would help if it ranks well in Google. Right?

Right.

It’s very easy to buy a domain name that you come to regret later. What was useful and fashionable years ago suddenly is unwieldy and a pain in the butt to describe now. You might take what you can get if your favoured domain is already taken, only for that to expire later on and you’re stuck with one you don’t like.

Even worse, you could pay a great deal more for it later, or even spend quite a bit of money rebranding and redirecting years after you’ve become established just because that domain you’ve always wanted has suddenly become available.

It might be tempting to buy up quick to stop other people from taking the one you’re currently considering, but it won’t hurt to take a few minutes to ensure what you’re getting is what you want, what works, and what will stand you in good stead for the long haul.

The four things you should consider when choosing your domain name are:

The Human Perspective

Ease

You want a domain that’s simple to read, simple to say, and simple to remember. It also helps if it’s easy to type.

It’s one of the core values of marketing to be memorable, and simplicity is usually best. If you can create a url that is no longer than two or three words, with no phonetic bits to confuse people’s ears (razinghomes.com and raisinghomes.com might sound exactly the same but mean the total opposite of each other – confusing, right?), and doesn’t have unusual spelling, you’re well on your way to creating a domain name that works for you.

Readability

It probably does sound a bit fun to do some teacherstalking.org, but I’m sure the people behind Teachers Talking have other ideas. In the same vein, ferrethandjobs.com still cracks me up although they soon changed to ferrethjobs.com before going offline – no ferrets getting frisky to see here.

Have a look at how your words run together. Are there any surprises there you haven’t thought of? Send your proposed URL to a friend and ask for their initial reaction. Write it down, say it out loud – how does it roll off the tongue? any word that ends in “s” only to be followed by a word that begins with “ex” is a recipe for disaster so probably best to avoid that combination!

Unless you’re super-niche and you’re expecting a super-niche audience, it’s a good idea to steer clear of slang and corporate-speak. Different countries also have different vernacular and that can actually work in a lot of cases (see skintdad.co.uk for example), but outside the UK and Australia, “skint” and other colloquial terms might be unfamiliar.

The Brand Perspective

You’re always going to want people to know what you’re about in the shortest amount of time possible. You don’t really want a URL that doesn’t accurately describe what you do, or at least isn’t easily understood fairly quickly. It’s best to do some research and some brainstorming to find out what’s popular, what works, what sums up your business and what gives the right impression.

You might consider calling your blog or website something reasonably long, but that doesn’t mean your URL has to be the exact same name. The URL is like your business card, it should be short and sharp and to the point – just giving the recipient enough info to get started. You can then expand on your site if need be, but unwieldy URLs aren’t usually going to be useful when giving prospective audiences a snapshot of what to expect on your blog.

Domain Extensions

Back in the day there were a handful of choices – .com, .net,  .org, etc, and a lot of them had extra extensions depending on what country you were in.

While it’s still sensible to stick to what works, there are also other options to consider, especially if they work particularly well with your business name or genre. Newer ones include .biz, .info, .me, .shop – all sorts of things (a larger list is here) that might describe your work more accurately. Do keep in mind though, most people’s minds revert to “.com” when trying to remember URLs, so an exotic one might mean you’re missing out on traffic.

Uniqueness

There’s no way around the need to be unique when it comes to business names. Not only do you want to be memorable and hopefully the only one – but you also don’t want to get yourself into legal trouble either. Do some Googling to see what business names and URLs already registered are similar (or the same) to yours. You can search through business directories, phone books, and blog curation sites like Bloglovin‘ to find out who is blogging under what name and make your decision from what you find.

The SEO Perspective

Relevance

Just about everyone is looking to rank well in Google to help all those people searching for exactly what your blog provides. If you’ve got a clever and funny blog name but it has no bearing on your actual content, then your URL is not going to be the first few options a searcher sees when they’re looking for what you’ve got. You don’t have to make it boring as hell just so it ranks well, you just need to be able to strike that balance between cute and useful.

For many, their URL is going to be dependent upon their blog or business name, and if your blog content isn’t easily identifiable from the name, then it’s going to be that much harder for your blog to show up in search results. Not impossible – because with consistent posting and hard work to get yourself out there and linked to, you can begin to build credibility – but just that little bit harder without the natural traffic that you could be getting.

Keywords

For the super-expansive lowdown on how to make a great URL that ranks highly in Google, you have to read Moz’s SEO Best Practices for URLs. It’s going to take you through what a URL is, how to make a great one, and what are the ways search engines prefer. In a nutshell, if you’ve got keywords in your URL that pertain to your content, the better your SEO results. Keeping in mind the content you write will populate the longer URLs directing to each blog post, which means there are more chances for your keywords to show up naturally. But if you can create an original URL for your site that contain the keywords for your content, you’re halfway there.

How do you find your keywords? Brainstorm a list of what your site is about. Is it recipes? Fashion? Travel? Write down all the words you can think of that people will be searching for, and the key words in your content pieces. You can also check sites like Google Keyword Tool, Buzzsumo, Keyword Tool, etc to find out what are the popular searchwords are for your genre.

The Legal Perspective

Copyright and Trademark

Obviously it’s going to cost you a lot of time, money, and heartache if you’re sued for infringement because you’ve started trading as a company with the same name as, or can easily be confused with another company. To a lesser extent you might just piss another blogger off who has worked hard to establish themselves, and are now losing traffic to you. Copyright is difficult to control on the World Wide Web, but there are avenues for people to take if their intellectual property – including blog names and URLs – has been compromised.

I can’t stress enough to check and re-check other blogs, sites, and company names before you embark on your URL buy. There may be people out there with the same blog name as the one you want, but they haven’t bought the official domain or their blogs are left stagnant (which actually happened to me! So I started a blog with that name and it’s been going five years without incident). It is up to you whether you want to take that opportunity and make something of it, or if you’re not entirely confident it’s available for you to use. It will be obvious what you can’t have, as someone else will be currently using it – but you need to do your homework to avoid future legal battles and one hell of a headache.

You can do this by first checking trademarked business names, and then doing an informal search for other current blogs and sites. In the US, you can check who owns what at Copyright.gov and uspto.gov –  The Patent and Trademark Office even have a Trademark Electronic Search System to make searching easier. In Australia, you can search for a registered business name at asic.gov.au, and search for registered trade marks at ipaustralia.gov.au. Doing Google, Bloglovin’, Facebook, and Twitter searches for the blog name or URL you want will turn up all the people currently blogging under that name. Who knows, you might be inspired to choose something you like better than what you had in mind, thereby bypassing legal and blog-community troubles down the road.

 

Do you have a URL tale of woe? Nailed it right off the bat? I’d love to hear!

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 or be entertained on Facebook.

 

3 Ways Scheduling Will Make You a Better Blogger

There's more things to do with a blog than there is hours in the day. These tips will help you schedule like a pro and get your life back.Do you feel a bit like a slave to your social media? Always thinking about your next blog post, forgetting to respond to that guy on Twitter, and never Pinning at the right time?

I know what it’s like to always feel like you’re running to catch up, instead of being in control of how and where you spend your time.

There’s nothing wrong with flying by the seat of your pants and only writing or hanging out on social media when inspiration strikes – if it works for you. If you’ve found that’s a little too chaotic to be sustainable long-term, then you’ll benefit from being more intentional with your time. Which frees you up to have even more of it.

Three Reasons Why Scheduling is Good

It gives you more time

If it’s one thing I hear the most, it’s that bloggers don’t have enough time in the day to do all the things they want to (or think they should) to build their blog and make it the best it can be.

Time is finite, it’s so easily wasted, and yeah, it feels like there’s just not enough of it. Many of us are working on our blogs in the cracks of time we have around other work, family, and life commitments, and there are periods where we feel as though we are succeeding at the juggle about as well as we’d succeed at performing brain surgery on a puppy.

The reality is, you have to make time. Nobody is going to walk in, grab your kids and say “we’re going to the park, you blog for a couple of hours” (are they? If they are, can you send them to me?!), or take on a big project at your day job to free up time for you to finally get started on that eBook you’ve been putting off. If you’re not scheduling in time to blog, and scheduling your posts and social media updates, then of course you’re not getting as much done as you would like.

Scheduling = more time. Time to live, time to work evenly on all your projects, time to take your own kids to the park. (Tweet that!)

It gives you more flexibility

To be honest, I don’t know of any blogger who can sit on the internet all day and respond in real time, whether that’s publishing at the most appropriate hour, or answering every email, tweet, and Facebook message received. Nobody is up at two in the morning Pinning their latest posts because that’s when their particular audience is online (hello working from the Southern Hemisphere).

There are some people who like to read my blog at five in the morning. There are hundreds who come after I’ve gone to bed at night. The last thing I want to do is hit publish before sunup, but I also don’t want to miss out on the traffic that comes at the most convenient time for them, so post scheduling works in both my favour and theirs.

I know sometimes the word “schedule” makes people shudder, and they’ll tell you they prefer “flexible” any day. Schedule sounds locked down, tight, rigid. The beauty of working online is so we can publish immediately, spontaneously, and so we don’t have to toe the line of a 9-to-5. But done right, scheduling can bring freedom – what you want is a flexible schedule, something that works just for you.

Scheduling means I can more effectively work around my young family, who I really do have to respond in real time to. When my work is scheduled and my home day goes awry, I’ve got the flexibility to be present in the moment. If home is quiet, I’ve got the flexibility to blog and maybe set a few more scheduled posts and updates for the times I can’t be online. This kind of flexibility is invaluable.

It gives you control

One of the biggest lessons I learned last year is that I don’t work well in chaos. Trying to work, live, run a family, and blog all at once however I could fit it in was benefiting no-one. Least of all me. I felt stressed, constantly undone, forever forgetting things, and I went to bed almost every day knowing I’d let at least one person down.

Feeling always behind the eight ball is not how I want to get through each day long-term. I don’t want to feel reactionary to each situation as it arises, I’d rather be a step ahead, with a clear head, and proactive.

Scheduling allows me to control my time online, instead of it controlling me. I can write when I want, I can publish when I want, I can be on social media when I want, and there’s flexibility at the end of the day to rejig it if necessary. My readers get content in the times that work for them, and I can interact in the times that work for me. Win-win!

Three Ways Scheduling will Make You a Better Blogger

You are more present

Well, OK – the beauty of scheduling means you can blog without actually physically being present. But the times when you are online, you can be fully present. This is your time to blog, to interact on social media, to chat on Twitter. You don’t also have to be cooking dinner, finding gym shoes, or emailing your boss.

You can work when you’ve got the time spare, and you can concentrate better during that time.

You are more considered

So many mistakes are made when you rush, when you’re throwing something up and running out the door. If you’re writing something that isn’t going up until next Tuesday, there’s no rush. You can write, edit, and give it a once-over between now and then, picking up issues, typos, and adding that link to the article you just couldn’t remember at the time.

When you’re fully present with your writing or your social media, you write better and are more likely to avoid problems that crop up when your concentration is divided. You look more in control and authoritative. And you’re interacting when it’s best for you.

You’re sharing what matters

I know what it’s like when you’ve just found five cool things that your readers will love, but you can’t share all five at once – and you’re likely to forget or give up if you physically post them across a reasonable period of time. Scheduling helpful or funny articles at the times your audience would most like to see them (i.e. when they’re online and they’ve actually got the time to click through) means you’re being the most useful to them you can be. And we all know Usefulness is King!

You’re also not rushing to share something, anything in order to be seen – you’re sharing what’s useful, entertaining, or inspiring because you’ve got the time to find those things, and you’re giving it to your audience at the right time.

Three Ways To Schedule your Work

Start with a plan

I always say planning is essential to be more efficient and to use your time more wisely. In 5 Ways to Make Your Blogging Life Easier, I talk about planning (and scheduling + automating!) and how they can give you more freedom. In order to schedule your time and your content, you have to know what you want to do, where you want it to take you, and when you work best.

I do everything from long-term checklists and calendars to a five-minute brainstorm and rough outline of the tasks of the day and in what order I’ll do them. I can’t recommend enough that five-minute brainstorm before you get started – it saves a lot of time and heartache later. Slotting your tasks into the time you have available that day will be the best thing you can do that morning to get started on the right foot.

Then, of course, you can branch out into larger, more long-term goals and lists (and refer to those lists when writing your monthly, weekly, or daily plan).

Related: Setting Blog Goals: Why You Need Them, and How To Write Them

Do what works

Get to know the automation tools available out there for bloggers – Buffer, Hootsuite, CoSchedule, Edgar, or whichever one works for you. Get to know when your audience is online, what kinds of updates they respond to, and what kinds of content you enjoy creating. There’s no point posting to Facebook 11 times a day if it’s irrelevant, uninteresting, or clickbait.

Related: Boost Your Organic Reach on Facebook with These Tips

Use social media scheduling

Different apps work for different needs, although the ones I mentioned in the previous point usually cover several platforms. For example, I use CoSchedule to schedule my daily posts to Facebook and Twitter, and they make it easier to post way into the future. I can post several times to Twitter without leaving my WordPress dashboard. Facebook prefers its own scheduling tool, so if I can, I’ll delete the CoSchedule upload to Facebook and use the Facebook scheduler. If’I’m out that day, I leave the CoSchedule one – I do find that the Facebook schedule has better reach.

I use Tailwind for Pinterest scheduling, Buffer for tweets on Twitter or tweeting articles from other sites, and I’m interested at looking into Edgar for a couple of other things I’ve got in mind. I’d love to know which one you use though, and why? I think they’re all useful for different things.

Related: How to Socialize Your Posts for Maximum Effect

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 or be entertained on Facebook.

Tips for Creating Your First eCourse

Tips for starting your first ecourse  problogger.netThere’s a reason you’re seeing an influx of ecourses in the blogosphere of late – it’s a fantastic way to share to a higher (and sometimes more concentrated) degree your talents and knowledge. If you have a niche blog, then there’s a good chance you can come up with an in-depth and useful course that will be helpful for your readers and profitable for you.

If an ecourse is something that’s been on your mind, then read ahead. Last year, Chantelle Ellem of Fat Mum Slim ran her very first blogging ecourse, the Clever Cookie School of Blog, which was a huge success. I picked her brain about how she started the course, what platforms she used, and what she learned. If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments and we’ll try and get an answer for you to start your ecourse journey off on the right foot!

The Overview

What made you decide you wanted to offer an online blogging course?

I was getting emails every single day asking me how to do things on the topic of blogging, really specific questions that needed a lot of time and energy to respond to. And of course I was responding to each of them! I decided that there was obviously a need for a blogging course. It was actually back in 2010 when I dreamed up my blogging course, and it was a time when no one (or not that I knew of) was doing it. Over the years I’d revisit the idea, write the content and structure for the course and eventually I got my butt into gear and launched it this year.

When you began putting the course together did you have a specific outline in mind, or did it come together more as you were writing it?

Because I wrote it back in 2010, so much happened since then, like… Instagram! So I knew that I wanted to cover off everything I knew in my own head about blogging, and put it down into lessons. It definitely evolved as I started writing the content, and realised that I had so much more stuff I wanted to share.

How engaged have people been with it?

People have been amazingly involved. It’s been so well-received. I’ve done blogging courses before and it felt a lot like we were dumped with the information and left there to absorb it. I wanted to be really available to the Clever Cookie students, and let them pick my brain whenever they like. It’s been time-consuming, but good time-consuming. I’ve loved sharing conversations about blogging with the students.

What was the motivation behind getting “guest speakers” in? Were they hard to source?

I don’t know everything there is to know about blogging, and I don’t think anyone does… so I wanted to bring other people in to share their knowledge. I also wanted to teach the students that there’s not just one way to blog successfully. I wanted them to take bits of information from all the different sources, decide what felt right to them, and then make it into their own recipe for blogging success.

Has it been hard to fit it in alongside your regular work?

I’m not going to lie, yes it has. But I love blogging, so it doesn’t always feel like work. And, who needs sleep anyway? I think if I’d just created the content, scheduled it to go live and left the students to it, I’d have more time on my hands… but I want to be there as much as possible, and I wouldn’t be happy doing it any other way

What has surprised you about the course?

A few weeks before I did the course I read a quote that said, “Obvious to you is amazing to others” and it made me realise that the really basic general knowledge is something that I shouldn’t overlook sharing. And that feeling was right, because the most simple lessons I’ve taught in Clever Cookie have been the ones that have resonated most with the students.

What has delighted you?

The community! I love the community that has already blossomed amongst the bloggers. They’ll be their own support network moving forward once the course has long finished. They have access to a Facebook group for graduates and will be able to share, give advice, help each other out and support each other on their journey. Also, we sent out little welcome packs at the start of the course, and people loved getting those presents. Seeing and reading their reactions was a great way to kick off.

What did you learn about running a course like this that you will know for next time?

One big thing I learnt was with finances. The forum we run the course in takes a big chunk of income, and PayPal takes some too. We factored that in of course, but it was expensive, as were the welcome packs and postage. Because my Paypal account hadn’t had income coming in before, Paypal seized all the money (it’s a long story but they like to look after customers so they’ve frozen half the income for the course for six months in case anyone requests a refund). So I learnt those things, which I never knew before. I also learnt that there is some pretty amazing up-and-coming blogging talent out there. That’s exciting!

What would you advise other people if they wanted to run an online course?

I would say to do it! Be organised, set a schedule for the content, make it as social as possible and easy to digest. I’d also have to remind people of that great quote I read before we launched, “obvious to you is amazing to others”.

Tips for starting your first ecourse : problogger.net

The Nitty-Gritty

Platforms

The platform I used to host the course was CourseCraft: https://coursecraft.net/ In an ideal world I’d create my own platform, but this was pretty seamless. They take a percentage of all your profits, but it removed a lot of the stress for us.

Learning Curves

Tech-wise, we really only had to get to know how to use CourseCraft, and that was hard when students would ask about functionality but we didn’t know the answers to. A lot of the teething problems we had were more around figuring out Paypal, grabbing people’s addresses {we sent everyone a welcome pack in the mail}, and working out international times for the Facebook chats that we had with experts in blogging.

Social Media

We didn’t think that Clever Cookie required too many social media platforms to support it, as we already had our own assets, but we started a Facebook page and a new website. We also used MailChimp to email students, and to create a database to gain interest.

Useful Advice

Going into Clever Cookie we just tried to put into it what we’d like to have learned 4 years ago, and went with that. We asked for feedback from our students on completion of the course and it was really, overwhelmingly positive. Over these past six months we’ve seen lots of our graduates go on to achieve awards for blogging, grow their audience, and really soar.

Have you ever considered creating an ecourse? What tips do you have for us? I’d love to hear!

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 or be entertained on Facebook.

Top Takeaways from ProBlogger Perth Training Event: Content, Blog Design, Social Media, Productivity, and Monetization

In the lead-up to the main ProBlogger Event on the Gold Coast this year, we have held various workshops and panels around the country, teaching and inspiring bloggers in their own home towns.

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February saw the first full-day event in Perth, Western Australia with both local and interstate speakers on the topics of content, better blog design, social media for blog growth, productivity, and monetization.

We’ve rounded up the top three tips from each speaker for those who couldn’t attend.

Darren Rowse (Keynote) How to Build Sustainable, Long-Term Blogging Success Through the Creation of Meaningful Blogs and Social Engagement.

Darren took us through the main pain points of beginner bloggers, and even those of us who feel like we’ve slogged away for years without much to show for it – with so many blogs out there how do I do I stand out and build an audience? How can I break through the noise? And wow do I establish myself and build a profile when everyone else is doing the same thing?

You May Not Need to Grow as Much as You Think

Darren showcased bloggers with minimal traffic making maximum money – proof that you don’t have to have hundreds of thousands of followers to make blogging work for you.

5 Lessons I Learned about Making a Living from Blogging with Smaller Amounts of Traffic

For those of us who make it work on much more modest traffic, Darren outlined the ways they’ve succeeded where others have failed – namely, it does depend on your business model:

10945560_10150687087939945_4904796194490385344_nThat diversity of income streams is crucial (not all eggs in one basket – what if one of those eggs fails and you lose all your traffic and income overnight?), and that you’re targeting the right reader, connected readers, readers who will be advocates for you, who respond to brand messages, affiliate promotions, and who buy your products and services. You want to aim for connected, engaged readers, not those who fly in and fly out.

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Fill a Gap

Those blogs who are successful are doing things that others are not – perhaps they were the first of their kind, or they built a following by jumping on a trend that was popular at the time. Perhaps they were an emerging sub niche, coming along at just the right moment when need is high. Or perhaps they are catering to an ignored demographic – people who wish there was something created that spoke directly to them.

Where can you fill a gap? Where can you tend a growing need? Where can you spearhead a trend that is just about to hit? Poke around in the corners of what people want before you quit, believing there’s just too many people all saying what you want to say.

Nicole Avery, How to Streamline Your Blogging Workflow

Nicole’s presentation was easily the most popular one of the day, with her practical tips and strategies to make the best use of the time you have to blog. Nicole took us through her personal routines of running one of Australia’s most popular parenting blogs while also being the mother of five kids.

Her top three tips include:

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Find Out Where You Are Now:

Analyse the time you spend on your blog, and see where you might be wasting it, or it might be better spent elsewhere. Use programs like Rescue Time to get a snapshot of where you are.

Find Out Where You Are Going

It’s easy to waste time when you’re not certain where you should be spending it. Create a goal, create a content plan toward that goal, and create a work schedule to help you achieve that goal.

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Take Action

Your work schedule should be mostly work, minimum admin and processing. Nicole recommends you set up your calendars and toolbars for success – have everything to hand and everything written down. Set up your email inbox with canned response to help you cut back time in order to spend it on more productive pursuits. Above all, stay focused. (image)

Nicole has shared her slides here, and her resources mentioned to help you improve your blogging workflow here.

Kelly Exeter, the 5 + 5 Formula for Great Blog Design

Kelly Exeter of Swish Design has worked on some of the best blogs in Australia, creating functional websites that also look beautiful. She gave us her top five tips for each over the course of the hour.

Functionality

Your blog must support and enhance your brand, make your reader feel at home, offer a logical pathway around your site, get the reader to take some kind of action, and help you achieve your blogging goals.

Top Takeaways from ProBlogger Perth Training Event: Content, Blog Design, Social Media, Productivity, and Monetization

 

Design

Needs a great header, logical naviation, clean sidebar, clear content area, and effective use of white space.

Top Takeaways from ProBlogger Perth Training Event: Content, Blog Design, Social Media, Productivity, and Monetization

Stacey Roberts, An Introduction to Turning Your Blog into a Business

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I outlined an overview of the myriad ways to make money, and how to keep it sustainable, most of which I’ve used on my own blog, Veggie Mama. The most important thing though, is staying true to yourself, having a vision, being honest with readers, and working hard.

 

Ways to Monetize

Really only limited by your imagination, there are numerous ways to make your blog profitable. From the immediate ideas of advertising, affiliate sales, brand collaborations and own products, to audio/video, freelancing, consulting, syndication, merchandising, and more.

What you need to focus on is: what are you passionate about? What is realistic for you? Where do your talents lie? Do you want active or passive income (or both)? The intersection of these dictates how you should monetize.

Pricing

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Without an industry standard, it can be difficult to put a price on what you do. Overcharge, and nobody will buy. Undercharge, and you sell yourself short. We went through several ways to formulate a price for your work – from this calculation, to seeing what others charge, and considering your qualifications and skill.

Media Kits

Brand collaborations are a popular way of monetizing your blog, and for many bloggers can also bring in the bulk of the income. To get a foot in the door with brands, you will need a media kit – a one-stop resume of sorts of your blog, your audience, and your prices. We also discussed how to get on a brand radar, and how to make your blog brand-ready. You can read the Ultimate Guide to Creating a Media Kit here, where I go into detail about what they should contain, and how to make them look professional.

My slides from the presentation and my downloadable cheat sheet of info and links mentioned is here.

Christie Burnett, Mastering Social Media for Blog Growth

Christie from Childhood 101 has a huge Facebook following, and let us all in on how she grew it, and how she keeps it healthy.

Define Your Voice

Make your social media reflect your brand – whether you’re humorous, helpful, authoritative, etc. Be consistent with that voice.

Invite Participation from your Readership.

Don’t think of it as a one-way relationship, but rather an ongoing discussion. Readers like to know they’re welcome to contribute, and that their contributions are important.

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Develop a Social Media Plan That Works

Your plan needs to consider your content, your style, and the time you have available. Christie recommended bloggers “plan, schedule, track analytics, repeat”.

Christie also discussed using the right tools to help you share and keep track of your shares – whether you use a calendar, a plugin, a third-party app or whatever works for you. Make a note of what was popular with readers, and what didn’t work quite so well. Get to know your audience and cater to their needs.

Christie’s presentation slides are here.

If you haven’t yet, you can still get your ticket for the Gold Coast ProBlogger event held at the RACV Royal Pines on August 14 and 15. The two day event includes speakers like Heather B. Armstrong from Dooce, and Pamela Wilson — of Big Brand System and Copyblogger Media. You can find out more information about speakers and sessions here, and to buy a ticket here.

See you there!

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 or be entertained on Facebook.

 

Editing for People Who Love to Write… Too Much

If you’re anything like me, you love words. You love prose, you love language, you love how a perfectly-constructed sentence can say so much more than just letters put in order.

If you’re unlike me, however, you love to use lots of words, and write mountains of prose.

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I know it’s hard not to get carried away, telling everyone everything you’ve ever wanted to say about a subject. Especially online, when blogs are creative outlets, and there are no restraints or word counts. But having been on the reading end of waffly posts (particularly when I haven’t got too much time to spare), I’ve realised the old adage “less is more” really does ring true.

Does that mean you can’t write long-form posts because they bore readers? No! It means write them well.  Make each of those 2000+ words count.

But how do you self-edit when you feel as though every word is important? I’m so glad you asked! Let’s find out:

Tips for Self-Editing

Follow Stephen King’s Number-One Tip

I wrote about his method of editing here, but it’s basically getting some space between you and your work. Stephen King puts his work (literally) in a drawer, and comes back a couple of months later to edit and tweak. You can come back sooner than that, but fresh eyes and a clear head make a world of difference when it comes to editing. Still unconvinced? You won’t be after you read the post!

You really can’t edit while you write, go straight from writing to editing, or edit the same day. Give it some time.

Can you say it in fewer words?

Twitter is great training for this (thanks to its 140-character limit), as was being a journalist – cutting unnecessary words makes for cleaner copy, there’s just no way around it. I’ll bet there are plenty of sentences you can streamline to pack a powerful punch in fewer letters.

Read it Aloud

You’ll be surprised how much your writing can sound perfectly fine in your head, but be totally disjointed when you read it aloud. You’ll notice those times when your sentences run on, where you might need a comma, or where you’ve repeated a word too often.

Print it Out

Reading on a screen, no matter how many times you’ve done it or how comfortable you are with it, is still so different to reading words in print. Your accuracy in identifying errors is far greater when you have a hard copy to refer to, especially when it comes to finding visually-similar mistakes. If you’re working on something that has to have the highest degree of accuracy, print it out, grab a pencil or a highlighter, and get to work.

Look for the Most Obvious

In your first read-over, search for the glaring errors – the typos, the spelling errors, that one time where you got your their/there mixed up, the visual formatting (how did that sentence get down there?), and any time you’ve written in passive voice. Pay special attention to apostrophes – most of the time they don’t need to be there. If it’s a possession or a contraction, fine, but keep them out of where they don’t belong.

Further Reading: Five Quick Grammar Tips to Improve Your Writing (Plus Free Downloadable Cheat Sheet)

Turn it Around

You’ll be surprised how much clearer a sentence can be if you flip it. Especially if you have that gut feeling that it’s too long or there’s something not quite right about it. Passive sentences can really disrupt your flow.

“In one day, a month’s worth of blog posts were written by me.”

Sounds so much better (and uses fewer words and has more of an effect on the reader) if it’s written:

“I wrote a month’s worth of blog posts in one day.”

There now, you’ve turned a passive sentence into a punchy, active one, losing extraneous words in the process. Well done!

Done is Better than Perfect

You could spend days tweaking your posts. You add, you take away, you add back, you switch around, you make eight versions of the headline in case one works better. Sometimes you end up going around in circles because you’re so into it now you can’t see straight, and your perspective is all off.

You just have to put your foot down and publish!

As journalists, we had a ready-made cutoff – it didn’t matter how much you had fiddled with your story, at some point it had to go to the printer, like it or not. Set yourself a cutoff, and remember – blogging gives you the gift of updating your post after publication if you really feel it needs it.

If you’ve followed Point One, I can almost guarantee you’ll find something!

Try it… You’ll Like it

If you’re unsure about a paragraph (or even a sentence), open a new document. Cut and paste all those “maybe” paragraphs into the document, and read your original post in its shortened form. Still think it could do with those words? Add them back in, no harm done. (Are you SURE, though?!)

Fact Check

It’s all very well and good to write something to convince people of your message, but you need stats to back it up. Ensure that all the numbers, anecdotes, and information you’ve included can be verified. Make sure there’s links to further information to help the reader understand your post, and to see the proof for themselves.

One top tip I learned is that if you’ve got questions, your reader will too. Wherever have made a bold claim, link to where you got your information. If you think that someone reading your post would benefit from your primary sources, then include them.

Harden Up

I know your work is precious. You’ve put a lot of effort into it. Your blog post is the culmination of hours of research, years of learning, numerous mistakes. You have a lot to say, and you think all of it is necessary.

It’s probably not.

There might be a place where you’ve repeated yourself. You might be able to make your point just as validly, but in fewer words. Some anecdotes, while funny, just won’t fit. Harden up and get rid of the bits that just aren’t working. There’s nothing stopping you from using that information in a future post, but your job here is to look at your work with a critical eye and make it the best it can be. How would you edit this if it was someone else’s work? What bits would you cut out in order to make your story better? Do that. You won’t regret it.

Do you love to write too much? We've got some solid tips for self-editing to help cut the waffle and write clean / problogger.net

 

So tell me – do you find editing hard? Or are you constantly looking over everything you read with your editor hat on? (that can be just as bad – it’s harder to get lost in a story when you’re always getting tripped up by writing errors). What’s your best tip for self-editing?

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 or be entertained on Facebook.

Helpful Links

9 Crucial Tips for Self-Editing Your Blog Posts

How to Use Google in the Most Unusual Way to Make Your Self-Editing Faster and Better

How You Can Make Your Writing Twice as Fast by Making it 3 Times More Time Consuming. Wait, What?

Hemingway App highlights common errors, long sentences, and grammatical issues that need attention. It also helpfully colour-codes the changes to be made. If you write a lot, you might find this useful.

Grammarly has pretty hardcore algorithms to not only find spelling mistakes, but contextual spelling errors too.

Where to Find Free Images Online

In a perfect world, we could all take amazing photos, edit them scrupulously, and somehow manage to have enough props and stylish flair to snap the exact image you need to illustrate your post.

In the real world, we have access to other talented people who do that instead!

A roundup of places to find free images online for your blog or social media

I’ve lost count of the posts I’ve pinned, sent to Evernote, or emailed to myself that round up great places to find free images on the internet. To save myself that headache (and hopefully you too!) here they all are, finally, in one place. Pin it for yourself!

Tweet this: 27 Places to Find Free Images Online: @veggie_mama + @ProBlogger

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Pexels

Pexels

from their site: All photos on Pexels are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. This means you can copy, modify, distribute and perform the photos. The pictures are free for personal and even for commercial use. All without asking for permission or setting a link to the source. So thatattribution is not required. All in all the photos are completely free to be used for any legal purpose.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons has almost 25 million freely usable media files. You need to read their Reuse guide to check out the licensing requirements, though.

Getty Images

Getty Images has more than 50 million embeddable images – just hover over  an image and click the </> icon to get the code to paste into your post.

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Public Domain Archive

Public Domain Archive

Public Domain Images are bloggers who have curated all the images in the public domain they’ve come across in one handy place. Both modern and vintage images to choose from.

Free Images

Free Images (previously stock.XCHNG) have stricter requirements with their licensing, so do check each image before use. Option to purchase other photos as well.

Open Photo

Open Photo has plenty of images, vectors, and even video to choose from.

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New Old Stock

New Old Stock

New Old Stock is full of vintage photos from public archives, free of known copyright restrictions. You could scroll for hours!

Picography

As Picography says: Free high resolution photos. Use them however you like.

Creative Market

Creative Market is a paid service, with a weekly grab-bag of free images, fonts and other goodies to use on your blog.

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Stokpic

Stokpic

Stokpic not only has beautiful images totally free to use for personal or commercial use, they will also email you a package of 10 every two weeks. Their image categories are listed right at the top so you can see at a glance if they have something you’re looking for.

Foodies Feed

All food, all the time.

Stockvault

A very easy search function lets you find exactly what you’re looking for straight away on Stockvault. You can read the permitted usage terms here.

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Unsplash

Unsplash

A great selection of images, to which 10 new ones are added every 10 days. There isn’t any search function or categories list, which can make it hard to find something specific, but the current images are laid out in a grid format for you to view.

Photopin

Photopin has free photos for bloggers and creatives, which are accessed from the search bar on their home page.

A Prettier Web

A Prettier Web has beautiful (and quite girly) free images for bloggers and creatives.

Picjumbo

Picjumbo

Picjumbo

Picjumbo has categories of free images on the left-hand side to help you find what you’re looking for. Everything from abstracts to weddings.

SplitShire

Click the menu box on the upper right-hand-side of SplitShire to find the categories, otherwise, scroll through the offerings.

Death to the Stock Photo

Death to the Stock Photo has a bundle of free images that get sent to subscribers each month, usually in a theme.

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Gratisography

If you’re looking for something quirky and fun, you’ll find it at Gratisography.

Morguefile

To use some of the images at Morguefile, you’ll need to ask permission and link back to the creator, but they’re free and hi-res.

Dreamstime

An easy-to-use list of categories shows itself when you are on the “free images” section of the Dreamstime site.

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Pixabay

Pixabay

Pixabay has tons of public domain vectors, drawings, and photos – all for free. A captcha is necessary prior to download, or you can sign up.

FreeFoto

FreeFoto has 132549 free images to use with attribution and linkback.

iStock

Part of Getty Images,iStock has free photos, illustrations, video, audio, and editorial files in weekly batches.

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Boss Fight

Boss Fight has one mission: To be your final “Boss Fight” when it comes to finding completely free (do whatever you want) stock images, photos, and photography.

Flickr Creative Commons

Flickr Creative Commons is constantly updated with people all over the world sharing their photos for use. Do check each attribution licence, however, as some are stricter than others.

StockSnap

StockSnap also has royalty-free images with no attribution required.

Where to find free images online  Problogger.net

 

And not technically photos, but Entypo has 411 pictograms for use on websites. Fun!

Where are your favourite places to get images? Are you a photographer yourself?

 

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 or be entertained on Facebook.

Top Tips for Getting the Most out of Monetizing Brand/Blog Relationships

Working with brands on blogs is big business, and for one blogger making a full time living through advertising and sponsorships, there are 100 more who’d like to.

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Louisa Claire has been blogging for nine years and runs Brand Meets Blog, where she connect brands with bloggers and trains bloggers on how to work professionally with brands. Having worked with leading brands including Qantas, Kellogg’s, and The Heart Foundation among many, she is passionate about helping brands and bloggers make authentic connections that deliver great value for bloggers, readers, and brands alike.

She’s been around since the early days of brand work on Australian blogs, and has seen the struggles and wins on both sides of the fence – where brands were tentatively taking this leap into new advertising waters, and bloggers realised they had platforms that could become careers.

I recently spoke at the ProBlogger Perth Training Day about the various ways you can monetise your blog (slides and links here, for those interested), and picked Louisa’s very knowledgeable brain about how to get your blog brand-ready. The topic was so large, and her advice so useful, I asked if  we could go into more detail here on ProBlogger. Thanks Louisa!

If you’ve just started moving toward this income stream (or even if you’ve got some experience under your belt), then read on – there’s plenty of tips for you to implement today to get the most out of collaborating with brands (read on for a discounted rate on her brand/blog ecourse!).

*Further reading: Make Money on Your Blog by Partnering With Brands 

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Working with Brands on Your Blog: What You Need to Know

What are the benefits of working with brands on blogs as an income source?

Speaking personally, the positives for me have been huge – I have travelled interstate and overseas as a result of brand partnerships, been paid to write for brands, judge brand competitions and so much more. Just in terms of the experiences and opportunities I’ve had, it’s been fun! For me, fun is huge!

It’s also given me great flexibility as a Mum to be able to juggle little people and school drop offs, upset tummies and all the things that come with parenthood and I’m so grateful for that flexibility. And it helps pay the mortgage, so that’s good too! When I speak to fellow bloggers a lot of these reasons also resonate for them and drive their desire to find a way to make it work for them.

Why do you think it’s such a popular way of monetising?

Because it’s a natural extension of who we are as people! I think that we all love to share the things we love with the people we care about and what better way for bloggers to do this than to partner up with the brands they love and bring them to their readers? It just makes sense!

What are brands looking for when working with bloggers?

Sometimes what brands are looking for at a big picture level is different to what they actually want.

What I mean by that, is that often brands start out looking for reach – this means how many unique views a blog has or more plainly, how many people will see a blog post. What they mostly (really) want is for readers to be moved to act – whether that’s clicking on a link, commenting, visiting their site or more directly, making a purchase – they almost always have a goal that goes beyond simply “how many people will see this blog post.”

The job of the blogger is to help brands see how working with them will lead to that second activity – by showing them that whatever your audience size is, you are able to connect with you readers on a personal level and encourage them to act. For example, you might have a blog with 10,000 monthly uniques, but 85% of those are Australian (or American or UK) readers who have a direct interest in your blog topic. Another blogger might have 50,000 monthly uniques but 50% of their traffic is international and they blog on 3-4 topics so of the Australian (or US or UK – wherever you live) audience maybe only 25% are going to be interested in the topic.

Your job is to be able to explain to brand why your 10,000 uniques are just as useful and relevant to them. (My point isn’t that blogs with big traffic don’t have the same deep relevance as smaller, niche blogs but that the smaller blogs sometimes don’t know how to demonstrate to a brand why their smaller number is actually really good.) Because your goal is to move readers to action, it’s essential to only work with brands that you can truly, authentically endorse and who your readers would genuinely be interested in. It can also be a good idea to consider longer term brand partnerships or a clear focus in the type of brands you work with.

How important are media kits and what would brands like to see on them?

Media Kits are a great way to showcase the best things about your blog in a short, concise way to any interested brand or agency. That makes them an incredibly useful tool for bloggers!

That said, I’d hate for a blogger to be put off responding to a pitch or not initiating a conversation with a brand because they don’t have one – if you can put your key information into an email then that works too. The biggest mistake I see bloggers making with their media kids is making it too long and too hard to find that key information like audience profile and stats.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Media Kit.

What are the best ways to make contact with brands?

Bloggers are in such a great position to do this right now because of their experience and comfort level with social media. With more and more brands trying to carve out their own space in social media, bloggers can get in front of them through simple things like sharing their content, commenting, engaging and striking up a conversation. I think if bloggers can keep in mind how they connect with each other then they are on the right track!

Are there particular niches you think work better than others with brands?

At certain times different niches will be “hot” and that will make it easier – health and wellness has been huge recently and it definitely helps if you’re in that niche at the right time.

That said, I don’t think it’s necessarily easier if you blog on a particular niche other than it might be more immediately obvious to you which brands suit your blog. What I think makes a bigger difference is if you have a really clear understanding of who your readers are and what they are looking for because even if you blog on a niche you’re going to have a few core angles that you take on that niche that will impact who you should work with. Your best opportunities lie in working that stuff out.

How can someone who isn’t in an “easy” or “hot right now” niche work with brands?

Gosh, so many ways! Don’t get put off if you don’t have a niche, because in fact you do. Your passion is your niche! And your passion is what your readers resonate with.

Done carefully, your passion can tie beautifully in to working with brands in ways that benefit you and your readers. One of the participants from our course Brandlicious: Your Step By Step Guide To Making Brands Fall In Love With Your Blog, Danielle from Keeping Up With The Holsbys actually identified this for me recently when she said “Brandlicious made me analyse my blog, and who my readers are to best ascertain who I should be working with. It was less about me, and more about my readers. It made me look at things in an entirely different way!

I get really excited when I see bloggers uncovering this and then seeing what it means for them and the brands they could work with and brands pick up on it too!

What mistakes do you see bloggers making who would like to work with brands?

A couple of obvious ones stand out. The first is making it hard for brands to get in touch with them – sometimes I will find a blogger I’m keen to involve in a campaign but am on a tight timeframe and because I can’t find their name/email/other relevant contact information I have to skip them over. It’s always a shame when a blogger misses out on something that could have been great for them for a simple reason like an email address.

The second is when bloggers inflate their stats or don’t look closely at what their stats mean. If you tell brands that your stats are something more than they are then the brand will almost certainly be disappointed by the results. You’re much better off being upfront about your stats and giving examples of how readers engage with your blog and with other sponsored content so that they can have realistic expectations and end up thrilled with the result!

Where do you see the blog/brand relationship headed in the future?

I don’t think there is going to be one path for brand/blogger relationships but some of the things I expect is that brands will look at long term blogger partnerships and ambassadorships.

I also think that bloggers who know how to present like a business and consider the brand objectives and ROI as part of their approach will be in a better position to seriously monetise.

Already we are seeing that brands are interested in Facebook and Instagram as part of a blogger’s community, and that they are also looking at users who are influential on those platforms even if they don’t have a blog. These will be things bloggers need to consider in terms of what they focus on and how they could partner with brands in future.

Louisa has offered ProBlogger readers a discount on her new online course Brandlicious. Head here for the reduced price, and to read more about how to get your blog brand-ready.

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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 or be entertained on Facebook.

5 Ways to Make Your Blogging Life Easier

Blogging is serious business - and can take up much of your time! We share five ways you can make your blogging life easier.Blogging. It goes a little something like this:

  • Think of idea
  • Write a post
  • Take/source/edit a photo for the post
  • Format the post
  • Schedule or publish the post
  • Push the post to social media
  • Respond to comments

But that is just the beginning, right? That doesn’t include planning, goal-setting, editorial calendars, blog design, design tweaks, multimedia, multiple updates on social media, a social media workflow plan, guest blogging, networking, sponsorships, affliliate sales, creating products, launching products, email marketing, creating newsletters, being part of the blogging community, going to events, keeping up with trends…

There’s so much to do.

In the five years I’ve been blogging I feel like I’ve made all the mistakes. One of my biggest ones was wasting time. When you’re blogging on top of work and life and other responsibilities, that time you have to spare is is finite. After crashing and burning with my poor habits, I learned very quickly what would work to cut down wasted time, and I then created strategies to be more efficient.

Blogging is serious business - and can take up much of your time! We share five ways you can make your blogging life easier.

5 Ways to Make your Blogging Life Easier

Batching

Batching is when you complete the same or similar tasks in one period of time. Instead of writing a post with a headline, image, post body, etc, you might like to write all posts for the week in one go, edit and upload all images in one go, etc. It means you’re in the right headspace for each task, rather than switching between what you need to do, then the next task, then back again.

Batching is also super-useful for returning emails, scheduling social media, general writing, researching, image sourcing, and the menial task you hate but must be done (accounts, anyone?!).

I’ve even gone so far as to choose which days I batch process. Mondays was content creation, Tuesdays was email and images… I’ve had to make some adjustments this year, but picking days when I was most useful was actually the most successful strategy I tried.

Scheduling

This applies to both time and content. I schedule my time when I have it, and I schedule content.

For example, if I have a few hours spare, I’ll spend a couple of minutes before I get started prioritising my tasks and adding them to blocks of time. I usually try and “eat the frog first”, i.e. doing the thing that’s the hardest to do, so the rest is easier (and also can be added to tomorrow’s to-do list if I get interrupted, as they’re not as time-sensitive as the frog).

My frog is usually content creation. I need to do that when I’m motivated and have space to think. Image processing I can do later, and with less brain bandwidth. So I schedule creation first, then other tasks.

Darren's low-tech editorial schedule

Darren’s low-tech editorial schedule

Scheduling content is super useful for when you don’t have time to blog every day, or you’re taking a break. Scheduling content on your blog and scheduling your social media means less hands-on work, and more time to work on other things. Like binge-watching Netflix and eating popcorn.

If you’re scheduling your social media, do make sure you pop onto the platforms at certain times to respond to people. It’s best if you can post and respond in real time, but if that’s not always possible (I know for me it certainly isn’t), then schedule the updates, and respond when you have time. Or when you’ve scheduled time in your day to respond!

Figure out when you’re most efficient

I’ll never forget one morning I woke up before the birds and wondered if I should just study for my upcoming test seeing as though I wasn’t going back to sleep anytime soon. I was soon surprised to realise how clear my thinking was and how well I understood what I was reading. My attention was focused and things made perfect sense. I felt like I had mastered some pretty difficult concepts (it was a third-year psychology exam, after all) and was well on my way to acing a test – all before breakfast! I knew right away I was a morning person.

While working in the early hours hasn’t been achievable for me in the last few years (two kids who don’t sleep, heaven help me), I do know I’m more efficient for brain tasks in the morning, and can satisfactorily respond to emails and requests, upload recipes, and do admin later in the afternoon. I’m pretty fried by night and can barely string a sentence together, so I don’t even bother.

A friend of mine is the opposite – she doesn’t really get her writing groove on until late afternoon, and will write up until bedtime. It’s all about knowing when you’re the most efficient so you aren’t trying to write a 2000 word post on Facebook algorithm changes when you’re dog tired and fuzzy. When you’re efficient, you don’t waste time –  and as a bonus, you complete tasks faster.

Automate

Bless you, internet automation tools, where would we be without you? They are fiercely discussed, loyalties are strong – it’s hard not to love something that makes your life so much easier.

There’s been plenty of discussion here on ProBlogger about what kinds of tools everyone loves to use for automation – everything from social media scheduling apps to creating reports in Google Analytics so they’re sent to you regularly and it saves you going looking for them.

You can automate plenty of things for your blog: If This Then That (IFTTT) is huge for automated behaviours. It can do anything from posting your Instagram pictures to your twitter account (thereby bypassing that pesky issue of Instagram images not showing up in newsfeeds), you can be emailed when someone mentions you online, you can “like” a track on Soundcloud and have it directly downloaded to your Dropbox – plenty of things you can set up to automatically happen after a trigger of your choosing.

I had to giggle when I saw this automation for parents:

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 3.02.30 pm

Email canned responses are a wonderful thing if you find yourself answering people with the same information over and over. Gmail in particular is useful for this – it will send a pre-written response as a reply to inquiring emails. You can automate the responses to be sent based on the criteria you choose – often sender, subject, keyword, etc. Very handy for freeing up your time.

Automation doesn’t get much better than apps that manage your social media. No longer do you have to wait for posts to go live before you manually update them to your Facebook! Or set reminders for when you wanted to tweet out your link based on when your audience is online. There are plenty of places to go where you schedule a bunch of posts to go out at a time of your choosing. Darren uses Sprout Social (see his social media scheduling workflow here), I use a combination of CoSchedule and Buffer, and there are plenty that will help you out when it comes to Instagram and Pinterest, too – namely Schedugram, Latergramme, Viraltag and Ahalogy.

Veggie-Mama-Planning

Planning

I cannot recommend this enough! I haven’t always done it, but it made a huge difference to how I spent my time, and how efficient I was when I finally had the time.

After I nailed the planning of time, I moved onto the planning of content. It was important for me to take a step back and see the bigger picture of what I needed to do and what I wanted to achieve when it came to blogging. It was no longer enough to just show up every day and do what needed to be done, I had to plan first so I could be in control, rather than always running to catch up. I hate running.

The first thing I did was figure out when I was most efficient now that I couldn’t do the early mornings any more. Then I figured out which parts of the day would be used for which tasks. Then I made the holiest of holies: the editorial calendar. Even if I didn’t know exactly what day I’d be blogging that pot pie recipe, knowing I had a post to write about pot pies (or creating achievable blogging goals) meant I wasn’t faffing around wondering what to do or what to write. When I finish one post, I look at my list and move onto the next. I move the calendar around when I write spontaneous posts, but having an overarching framework with which to reference has been the breakthrough for me.

You can listen to the webinar Darren and I did with Darlene of Digital Photography School where we discuss how we approach editorial calendars on each site, and how to plan one for yourself.

I use good old pen and paper plus CoSchedule for Veggie Mama, and I use a Google Doc and Google Calendar for content here on ProBlogger.

Bonus tip: Outsource

Sometimes it’s just necessary. Here’s 44 Things Chris Ducker Thinks Bloggers Should Delegate to Virtual Staff.

And there you have it! Five (well, six) ways you can streamline your workflow to get more done.

So what about you? Have you found some shortcuts that help you blog effectively? I’d love to hear them!

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 MamaChat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama or be entertained on Facebook.