Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately

Reading Roundup: What's new in blogging this week /

Hello again! How did you go with the last roundup? Change up your Instagram? Get a new plugin? I hope this week’s is just as useful.

How to Build a Small but Mighty Team for Your Blog and Business // Amy Porterfield

I love this guest post at Amy’s site – there does come a time when you need to expand, and for the mostly clueless (i.e. me) this was really useful to guide my decision.

Why Today is the Best Day to Start an Online Business // Jeff Bullas

I know it’s something that so many of you want to do – why not work from home with an online business? But I also know it’s something that so many of us put off for a hundred reasons. We’re not ready, someone else has already done it, next year when we’ve got more time, maybe… Jeff puts all that into perspective.

SEO Checklist: 74 Step Process for Mammoth Rankings // Money Journal

Very useful steps, very pretty infographic, and very handy printable PDF! All my favourites rolled into one.

With Reactions, Facebook Facebook Supercharges the Like Button with 6 Empathetic Emoji // TechCrunch

So the changes we talked about a couple of weeks ago look like they’re in the testing phase (Ireland and Spain will be the only ones who see the rollout) – instead of just liking, you’ll be able to show anger, surprise, laughter – much more of a variety than we currently have.

Conversion Rate Optimisation: Closing the Loop on Abandoned Baskets // LCN

Wow, this was so comprehensive. I pinned it for later this year when I’m going to be dabbling in selling products.

Banish the Guilt About Making Money // Michael Hyatt

I know this is a big deal for a lot of people who earn an income online – you can come up against tough resistance, and even your own insecurities. Michael says: “Today we’re talking about why you should never feel conflicted about doing it for the money,” and I love it. Great podcast.

How to Create and Promote a Blog Post “Perfectly” Every Time // Chris Ducker

Oh-so-handy visual guide – is there something you’re missing? It’s so good seeing it laid out like this.

How to Train Your Subscribers to Open Your Email Every Time You Send // Pat Flynn

Could you imagine?? How good would that be. Loooove that tip about the Amazon book content pages.

How to Optimize Landing Pages to Boost Social Media Conversions // Social Media Examiner

It’s not all email-driven! Catch the folk who come through from social.

Intelligent Social Medial Analytics for the New Age // The Next Web

I’ve got a lot of homework to do, I’d never heard of any of these…

What’s your tip for this week?

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of 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.

The 5 key elements your blog’s ‘Start Here’ page must have

The 5 key elements your blog’s ‘Start Here’ page must have: on ProBlogger.netThis is a guest contribution from Kelly Exeter.

Imagine this: you’ve written a killer blog post and it’s being shared all over the place. Woo hoo! Your traffic is going through the roof and it’s great fun watching those numbers climb. There’s just one problem; all those new readers are reading that one viral post and then leaving your site, never to be seen again.

Or this: you’ve been blogging for seven years. There’s a LOT of content on your site. And new readers are finding you via Google every single day. But your site’s bounce rate is high. Those new readers are sticking around long enough to read the one post Google sent them to and then they’re gone.

How do we stop this happening? How do we capture these readers and turn them into repeat visitors?

The answer is: with a killer Start Here page. One that brings all the important stuff buried deep in your site up to the surface, and offers it up to the reader in a logical way.

What does a killer Start Here page have on it? Glad you asked!

Here are the five most important things it needs in the order in which they should appear:

  1. A very clear statement about who your site is for

If someone’s landed on your site and they’re not your ideal reader, don’t waste their time or yours. Make it clear this is not the place for them.

If they ARE your ideal reader? Then this first part of the page should make them feel at home; like you ‘get them’. This bit need not be more than a paragraph or two.

Here’s what Pat Flynn has at the top of his Start Here page:

“I’m Pat Flynn, creator of Smart Passive Income. If you’re new to the world of online business, blogging, and passive income, this page is for you! It contains the information you need to get up to speed quickly and start your own venture confidently!”

This is what kicks off Michael Hyatt’s:

“If you’re like most of my readers, you’re a successful, high-achiever. You are committed to winning at work, and—equally important—succeeding at life. You strive to grow, get better, and reach your potential. You want to leave a lasting impact on your world.”

While Nicole Avery from Planning with Kids states:

“Planning With Kids is about productivity for families. Getting organised at home so you can spend more time on the good and fun bits of family life.”

  1. Now tell them a little bit about you

Just a little bit. Like a paragraph. If they’ve read past the first paragraph they’re thinking your blog is going to be useful to them in some way. So use this bit to quickly and easily establish some rapport – show them why you ‘get them’.

Here’s Michael Hyatt again:

“I know what it feels like to be in over your head—to have your success outpace your ability to manage it, while still attending to the things that matter most—family, health, faith, and community.

For years, I, too, struggled to get off the treadmill. Too often, my success came at the expense of my health and my most valuable relationships.”

  1. Give them the opportunity to buy something from you

Now I know some people are going to vehemently disagree with me here, but I’ll stand strong on this. Some people will be so sold on you at this stage they want to throw money at you. Let them!

Do you have a book? Offer an online course in something? Link it up!

At best, they will buy. At worst, you’re signalling to the reader right from the word ‘go’ that you’ve created something valuable enough it’s worth paying actual money for (which gives you instant credibility).

Immediately after introducing himself on his First visit? Click here! page, Chris Ducker establishes himself as an authority on the topic of Virtual Staff and Outsourcing … and then says “I wrote a book about this!” I bet a lot of people don’t get much past this bit of the page because they’ve hurried over to Amazon or Barnes and Noble to buy.

The 5 Elements Your Blog's "Start Here" Page Must Have: on

  1. Give them something for free (+ bonus social proof)

Ok, they’re not ready to buy from you just yet, but they’re still here. Now’s the time to offer them something great for free to get them on your list. If you don’t … what a wasted opportunity!

Here’s what Pat Flynn offers:

The 5 Elements Your Blog's "Start Here" Page Must Have: on

If you can offer some social proof in with your free offer like Pat does (‘this book has been downloaded 15,000 times’), all the better. Us humans like to belong so if we see that lots of other people are doing something, we feel both compelled to and comfortable in doing that thing too.

Here’s another form of social proof from Chris Ducker (when he talks about his free 7-day New Business Bootcamp):

I get approximately 150-200 emails a day from entrepreneurs that want to start growing their business the right way for today’s economy.

And here’s James Clear offering two kinds of social proof: the rather large number of email subscribers he has, along with the logos of the big online publications he’s written for.

The 5 Elements Your Blog's "Start Here" Page Must Have: on

  1. Links to your favourite blog posts/things that tell your story

The final element on your Start Here page is arguably the most important. If someone’s got to this point, they want to know more of your story. They want to know more about YOU. So this is where you both showcase your best content and offer up blog posts that tell your story/share your journey in a logical fashion.

Michael Hyatt lists his favourite blog posts under specific categories and offers subtle social proof by noting they’re his most popular posts.

Pat Flynn shares three podcasts and also adds in social proof along with a guarantee!

SPI fans tell me all the time how much these episodes helped them understand the types of passive income opportunities. I guarantee they’ll help you too.”

The Minimalists link and link and link (in a useful fashion).

So does Leo Babauta on the Zen habits site.

And, although it’s not a specific Start Here page, Bron from Maxabella Loves does a magic job telling her story/sharing her base philosophies through the links on her About page.

Diving deep into your archives and categorising key older posts in this way will take some work. But it will be completely worth it for the way it will allow someone to lose themselves in your site for an hour or two. If you managed to captivate them, you’ve got yourself a brand new super-fan!

Kelly Exeter is editor of and author of Your Best Year Ever – 7 simple ways to shift your thinking and take charge of your life. Can a highly driven person really lead a less frantic life? She ponders that and more here.

Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately

Reading Roundup: What's new in blogging this week /

A big hello from ProBlogger HQ on Grand Final Day! So much footy to be had today (and tomorrow, for NRL fans!) and so much food to be eaten whilst watching. Ok, that’s probably just me (for the record, I’m making this).

A Quick Guide to Building a a Thriving Social Media Community // Social Media Today

Because without them, your blog isn’t likely to be read.

Twitter Will Reportedly Nix the 140 Character Limit with a New Product // Engadget

I’ve heard the rumours, but now it seems like it’s true: and I’m not sure how I feel about it! I definitely enjoyed the restriction of the limit, it not only made me think through better tweets, but also kept it easy to read through my feed. Details are slim at the moment, but the new product will help you expand your communiques on the platform.

IFTTT Recipes for Social Media Marketing // Social Media Examiner

For all y’all who are into shortcuts (you know I am!) you really should be using If This, Then That – this post has got great ideas about seeing what others are doing on the platform and creating similar recipes for your own success.

How Often Should I Post on Social Media? // Buffer

It’s a fine line between not enough and so much that people unfollow… have you found that line?

17 of the best WordPress Plugins for Marketers // Hubspot

Number 5! I totally need to do that. I’ve never done it once in five and a half years of blogging on my own blog.

Why Effective SEO Isn’t Simply About Creating Great Content // Search Engine Watch

“Build it and they will come?” – not in blogging! While great content is the foundation of anything you want to do online it isn’t enough to grab all the search engine traffic you could be.

Good Social Media Boosts SEO Even Though Nobody Understands How // Entrepreneur

Following straight on from being told content isn’t everything, this post was super interesting in seeing how else we can drive traffic to our blogs outside of creating great stuff. The bottom line: don’t separate social and SEO.

How to Drive Traffic with Instagram // Social Media Examiner

Some obvious stuff (put a link in bio, etc), but definitely a couple I hadn’t thought of.

Google Confirms the Real Time Penguin Algorithm is Coming Soon // Search Engine Land

The update that will refresh data in real time has inched further to being a reality – by the end of next year perhaps? I wonder how this will change things for bloggers and Google traffic…

Sorry, You’re Addicted to the Internet. Here’s Why // Mashable

A little explanation about how social media and the web in general are changing the way we think and act offline. Are you happy to be addicted? I know a few who are!

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of 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.

Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately

Reading Roundup: What's new in blogging this week /

The sun is shining, the birds are singing – I think spring has finally hit Melbourne!

With that, I will leave you with this week’s links to ponder…

Instagram Images: How to Stand out on Instagram // Social Media Examiner

This podcast was interesting – I’ve definitely seen the trend for very similar images being used on IG, particularly for specific niches. I’ve experimented with a lot, and I found the opposite of what I often expected. For example, an image set out similarly to one I admired ended up getting the least amount of likes. So how do you stand out when it seems everyone is homogenous? And how do you stay true to your own aesthetic in the process?

Facebook Turns Notes into a Blogging Platform with a Revamped Interface // TNW News

Everyone’s talking about the revamped Notes section on Facebook – it looks and functions much more like a user-friendly blogging platform. Perhaps a way to get around the Facebook page (dismal) algorithm to get your content seen?

How to Hack the Amplification Process (Whiteboard Friday) // Moz

Have you been looking in the wrong places for your audience?

The 5 Biggest Social Media Trends of 2015 (Infographic) // Social Media Today

Number 3 I already knew, but Line? What on Earth is Line?!

What it takes to Make Fashion Blogging Look Effortless // The Atlantic

It’s not all front row seats and fancy lipstick.

3 Resources to Help you Become a Professional Content Marketer // Copyblogger

I see a lot of bloggers turn pro by instead becoming professional content marketers. If that’s something you’re interested in, Stefanie Flaxman gives a great overview of getting started.

How This Blogger Made $1 Million in 3 Years and Is Visiting Every Country on Earth // Forbes

I’m always fascinated about how bloggers make a living from travelling, but this guy earns $1000 a day: something I was EXTRA fascinated with! What a lot to learn.

3 Things all Great Digital Marketers Know // Business2Community

Ah yes… we all forget number 2!

Facebook Audience Insights: 5 Groups You Should Analyze // Jon Loomer

Have I convinced you to come around to Facebook Ads yet? Jon really makes it easy to figure out the best method for maximum results.

How to Use Snapchat for Business // Social Media Examiner

A few weeks ago I linked to an article stating we were missing out on reaching the youth of today if we weren’t implementing Snapchat. Afterwards, I reinstated my account but I guess I’m still missing the point of it. I like the idea in this article of creating a tutorial – I’m seeing a lot of people doing that on Periscope lately.

So what have you read lately? Are you earning $1000 a day?!

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of 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.

Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately

Reading Roundup: What's new in blogging this week /

It’s the weekend again (with bonus school holidays for some!) and the wrap-up of blogging goodies online. No matter how much I think I’ve read on a topic, there’s always something I learn, or a new perspective to take that I haven’t explored yet.

How to Boost Your Engagement with Visual Content // Social Media Examiner

Definitely a few new ideas I hadn’t thought of yet, and links to the tools that make them.

6 Aspects of SEO the Busy Entrepreneur Can Finally Stop Worrying About // Search Engine Journal

Do you agree with these? They definitely gave me food for thought. I do like the idea of link earning rather than link building.

Why Your Colleagues Still Won’t Share Your Blog Post // Hootsuite

Yeah sure, we know the science behind how to get shared, but what happens when it doesn’t work?

SEO Tips for Social Media Managers // Sprout Social

Solid tips that sometimes we forget. Bonus – the graphics are pretty!

Your Website is Way Too Confusing: Simplify Your Website with the KISS Rule // KISSmetrics

I changed my blog a few months ago to a minimalist theme and I cannot recommend it highly enough. No, it won’t work for everybody, but it’s pleasing to the eye and keeps the focus on the content. Is your website too busy?

The Perfect Anatomy of a Modern Web Writer // Copyblogger

With bonus infographic! This is for everyone who is a web writer, who wants to become one, or who wants to hire one. Tons and tons of useful info here.

Is Facebook Finally Introducing a “Dislike” Button? Not Exactly // Slate

Errbody’s talking about it: but what’s actually happening with the Facebook “dislike” button? It’s actually more about empathy. What are your thoughts?

10 Common Mistakes When Setting up Audiences in AdWords // Search Engine Land

I’ve been looking into AdWords lately, so this came at the right time. Learn from the mistakes of others, eh?

The Anatomy of a Shareable, Linkable, and Popular Post: A Study of Our Marketing Blog // Hubspot

Everything from the effect of word count on social shares to the number of links’ effect on organic traffic, they’ve really crunched the numbers on this one. Fascinating stuff.

5 Overlooked But Super Effective Ways to Boost Sales on Your Blog // Jeff Bullas

Have you been overlooking these too?


What news have you read lately that taught you something?

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of 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.

How She Does it: Blogger Pip Lincolne Talks Finding Time to Write Books

How She Does it Blogger Pip Lincolne Talks Finding Time to Write Books on

As Darren said a little while ago, everybody has a book in them, but it’s probably more accurate to say every blogger has at least 10 ideas for eBooks inside them. If you’re a writer, you’ve got a lot to say. You might want to write eBooks, print books, memoirs, autobiographies – a thousand ideas, but realistically not a lot of time in your schedule for your one (or many!) overarching grand plan.

You may well set aside 15 minutes every day to chip away at it, or you schedule some vacation time and get a chunk done. You might stop blogging over a certain period, or you could burn the candle at both ends… the choice always depends on the person making it.

I was given a fantastic piece of advice lately, and that’s if you want to do something, you don’t find time, you make time. So I asked one of the most prolific bloggers I know how she makes time to do write more involved books in addition to all the other things she does. Pip Lincolne is the author of five published books and is a regular contributor to blogs, websites, and magazines.  She blogs at Meet Me at Mikes, and she graciously asked a few questions I had for her recently.

How do you make writing books fit into your everyday busy life?

I prioritize it. You know how you might insist on having a lunch break every day? (If you can!) I treat writing a book as seriously as having lunch and block out an hour or two each day to get the words down (let’s call that a long lunch, actually!) Some days are busier than others, but I always make sure that I spend at least an hour on the book I’m working on to be sure that I’m on deadline, but also to ensure I stay in the zone and keep things flowing nicely.

Do different styles of books take different times to write?

Well, I can only speak from my own experience here. I’ve written books with lots of craft projects in them, and more recently one with only a few craft project (and a more substantial observational-style writing element.)

The books with more instructional elements take more time, because not only are you ‘translating’ practical steps onto the page, you have to test those steps and rewrite and test again.

Although I got my start in publishing writing how-to type books, I much prefer the creative flow that observational writing offers.

Do you have a particular writing style now after writing so many? Is there a rough formula you follow?

I think I have a very consistent style, but sometimes, if I’m weary I might slip out of that story telling, chatty mode and into more of a documentary style. I much prefer the former and think that our writing uniqueness comes from writing in the same chatty way that we’d speak to a dear friend. Of course, if you are writing a more technical text, that might might not always be appropriate, but I’m lucky enough to be able to stay true to the voice that comes naturally for me.

I don’t really have a formula, but I do try to make sure that my work has clarity, flow and warmth to it. I triple check what I write for ‘sense’ because I often find that the sentences I conclude with often belong at the start of the piece (and things might need a brisk reorder and edit.) Often things write themselves backwards, if that makes sense!

I know you write a lot every day so how do you find the motivation to write extra on top of that?

I think that if you want to write well, you have to write often. I’ve certainly found that my writing has improved in leaps and bounds, not only via writing consistently, but also via reading great books and hearing other writers talk about their work.

I’ve always, always felt compelled to write regularly and prolifically. Apparently I have things to say! My great grandfather, Frank Boreham, was the same. He wrote over 50 books – selling millions of copies – as well as penning hundreds of editorials for The Age and The Mercury newspapers. I think my urge to write is in the genes! I can’t fight it! I thank Frank for that.

What are the lessons you’ve learned about the book-writing process over the years?

I’ve learnt so many things! I’ve always worked with wonderful editors, so I’m all about letting go a bit and letting the experts help me to tighten up and simplify my words. I’ve also been lucky enough to work with several great photographers (John Laurie, Tim James and Julie Renouf) and designers/stylists (Michelle Mackintosh and Ortolan.) They’ve shown me how wonderful the collaborative process can be. I think it’s easy to get hung up on having as much creative control as possible, but it’s very important to loosen up a bit sometimes and let others work their magic alongside your good ideas.

I’ve also learnt that it’s important to NOT wait until the night before your book’s publicity tour begins to read it from cover to cover again – especially if the first interview is breakfast radio – because you might be up half the night marveling at how your book actually isn’t half bad and a bit exhausted the next day! Better to do that first-since-published re-read as soon as it arrives in the post, I think!

I’ve learnt that I work best if I write almost every day. Five days a week, minimum, works well for me. It keeps me writing naturally and stops me from overthinking the words or writing too sentimentally.

What are the shortcuts you’ve figured out over the years?

I’ve got a snazzy shortcut for creating a framework for a book. This is helpful for people who want to try writing a book, but aren’t sure where to start. I used this method to write my most recent book. It goes like this:

  • Choose your subject or storyline.
  • Write ten or twelve MUST KNOW (or MUST DISCUSS) points or plot events to fit that subject or storyline.
  • Turn each of those points or events into a chapter title (they can just be working titles at this stage).
  • Write 1000 or so words on each of those chapters (or slot in writing you have already done where it ‘belongs’, under the relevant point or event).
  • Try to write for at least an hour, five days a week. Just get the words down, however they come out.
  • Re-read, rewrite, edit.
  • Repeat as needed!

What do you do with your blog when you write? Is it kept at the same frequency?

I do keep blogging pretty consistently when I’m writing a book, because the more I write, the easier it is to write. I find that when I don’t have a lot of writing work on, the words come less freely. This is part of why I love Julia Cameron’s writing exercise The Morning Pages (from her book The Artist’s Way.) The Morning Pages set the daily task of writing quite a significant amount, long-hand, just for the sake of writing.

I find it’s a great way to stay in shape during the ‘off season’, so to speak! It encourages me to get whatever is in my head (quite messily) down on the page and has a magical way of loosening up the cogs, making writing much easier and more natural for me. I recommend this method to all my blogging students too.

In short: if you want to write well, write more and write daily.

What about social media? How do you keep on top of that, given you’re a personal blog and you can’t exactly hire people to be “you”?

I tend to use social media for sharing others’ work as much as my own. I use CoSchedule to share my own posts to social media. It’s such a great plugin and I’m a huge fan. You can create your social posts and schedule them from within your WordPress post editing window. I do this when I’m finished writing my post, so it’s part of my editorial workflow rather than a pesky ‘extra step’. Then the plugin does the job for you – sharing to Twitter or Facebook in whichever way you’ve asked it to. So streamlined and simple to use! Elephant stamp in the time-saving department for CoSchedule!

I then make sure I check in and monitor/reply to anyone who’s nice enough to talk to me on Facebook or Twitter. It only takes a few minutes a couple of times a day and it means that followers aren’t just yelling into the void (to quote Grace & Frankie!)

When it comes to sharing great stuff other people are doing, I have all my favourite reads on Feedly so I can enjoy the in one time-saving window. I then share the best of my Feedly reading, loading them up in Buffer with a chatty comment, an image and a tag for the great-stuff-creator where possible. Buffer sends them out to my custom schedule and using Feedly and Buffer together is a great time saver (you can also share directly from within Feedly if you like but I prefer to share on the actual Buffer platform as I like the interface.)

How do you know when to say yes to a book?

I think a great publishing deal comes down to working with good people. If you have a great rapport with a publisher, if they’ve got a great track record, if they’re prepared to give you a bit of room to move (so you can have a bit of creative freedom when you’re writing) and a great royalty then chances are it’s a ‘yes’!

It’s also good to know what marketing and distribution ideas they might have for your book, as well as any design vision they might be considering. Then you can see if everyone’s on the same page (!) and if your book will have the support it needs to stand out from the pack.

I’d definitely go for a great royalty over a big advance if you have to choose. I’ve heard people splash around big advance figures – but you’ve got to earn that money back in book sales. A big advance = big pressure! So look for the best royalty rate you can get. The Australian Society of Authors (ASA) recommends at least 10% – but you may find that as a first time author it will be lower than that.

I’d also do my homework and ask for help – perhaps by engaging a literary agent (because they’re smart when it comes to digital rights and other ever-changing details) and joining the ASA so that you can find out more about what goes into making a great book.


Has it convinced you that you can make some time in your schedule around blogging to finally get started on that book? What are you writing about?

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of 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.

Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately

Reading Roundup: What's new in blogging this week /

Your news – this week expanded, as requested! I hope there’s something here that you will find helpful.

6 Tips to Improve Your Facebook Posts // Social Media Examiner

And now I want a bread bowl filled with cheese.

8 Lesser-Known Strategies to Get More out of LinkedIn // Mashable

Have you had much luck with LinkedIn? You might now!

Top 10 Wins for Getting Started Fast with Facebook Video // Buffer

With 300 hours of viewable video posted every minute, you’re going to need to know how to stand out.

Press Publish: Matt Thompson on The Atlantic’s Attempt to Breathe Life into Classic Blogging // NiemanLab

A podcast discussing the current conversation that blogging is going through a period of reinvigoration and what is to become of it. They say “It’s an interesting attempt to recapture some of the looser, voicier, more conversational structures of the early 2000s — some of which has been lost in the rise of social media and commercialized online news.” and I was interested to hear how it’s worked for them.

The Top 1o Ways to Make Money Online with Integrity // Lewis Howes

Do you do any of these? I like how Lewis advises to make money by doing it “the right way that both serves your vision and supports others”. That’s a win-win.

How to Stay Consistent // Chalene Johnson

Probably my worst habit is being inconsistent. I know everything would move a lot smoother if I did it properly, and cultivated good habits. But at least I’m holding myself accountable, which is her second point.

9 Ways to Improve your Pinterest Marketing // Social Media Examiner

I hear number 4 works exceptionally well, and it’s got me thinking about something I’ve been meaning to do for a while now. Number 9 is always good – I just wish I was that clever!

How to Simplify Your Blogging Life with Tsh Oxenreider // The Blog Maven

One of my favourite topics with one of my favourite people. Don’t miss this episode.

How to Self-Publish Your Own Books as a Business Model // By Regina

Don’t wait for publishers to come to you! There’s plenty of information available to help you DIY. This is a great perspective on making it part of your overall monetisation strategy.

The iPhone Will Finally Get a Taco Emoji with iOS 9.1 // Mashable

And all my emoji dreams have come true.


What have you read this week that’s caught your eye? I’d love to hear!

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of 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.

Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately

Reading Roundup: What's new in blogging this week /

So many handy tips to help you on your way this week! Hope it’s been a good one for you.

How to Hire a Team to Help (Delegating Parts or the Whole of a Process to Someone Else) // Entrepreneur on Fire

In episode 40 of the ProBlogger Podcast, Darren spoke about his 7 productivity tips for bloggers – and one of them was the recommendation to outsource or delegate where you can. I think it’s a fabulous idea (except slightly harder for those folk who have personal blogs). Kate Erickson has given an excellent overview for someone thinking of getting started.

9 Steps to Better Welcome Emails // Kissmetrics

I know, I suck at these too.

Why You Should Blog Before Breakfast // Jeff Bullas

I actually started doing this a few months ago, then all the wheels fell off. It’s time to screw them back on!

Facebook is Testing Out a Pop-Out Video Viewer For its iOS App // The Next Web

It’s not available to everyone, but it appears some users are seeing a “more videos” scroll function when viewing videos on their mobile devices. As we know, Facebook is pushing video, so perhaps this might come into full effect after all?

Facebook Pushing Users to Blog // CBS News

It also appears Facebook has revamped the long-unused notes section in an attempt to get more people to blog on the platform. Trying to become a one-stop shop for all your online needs, maybe?


So what are your thoughts? Have you been one of the users to see the new video pop-out? Would you blog on the Facebook platform? When is your best time to write?

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of 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.

How to Write Brilliant Blog Posts: 5 Tips from Psychology

How to Write Brilliant Blog Posts 5 Tips from Psychology - on

This is a guest contribution from Ellen Jackson of Potential Psychology.

Are you ready to rock a brilliant blog post? Do you want to write faster, think more creatively, just do it all better?

Writing is a thinking task. It requires creativity and problem solving. We need to process information, retrieve things from memory, read, develop ideas, research, plan and review. We’re considering the next word as we’re writing this one, and we’re managing our own thoughts and feelings about the process and results as we go. On top of all of this we’re typing or handwriting and probably flicking back and forth in different browsers and applications. Your brain is working hard here, people.

To get into the writing zone in which the ideas come easily, you’re not distracted by every little thing and the brilliance flows from brain to fingertips, it helps to provide your mind with the right setup. You need to give it the time, space and environment to work at its best.

Here are five tips from psychology to get you in the blogging zone.

1. Keep things quiet, but not too quiet.

Different people cope better with different levels of noise but we know from studies that if you want to get creative you need just the right amount of background sound.

If the ambient noise in your work space creeps up above about 85 decibels (about the sound of a large truck passing close by) your brain is too busy and distracted for fresh ideas and ‘a-ha’ moments. You can’t think creatively with that kind of sound.

If it’s too quiet though your brain doesn’t make it into the creativity zone. We need some sound to kick the brain into gear and get those ideas flowing. Too quiet and we tend to be distracted by our own thoughts.

The ideal ambient noise for creativity is around 70 decibels. That’s the sound of the shower running, the dishwasher humming or maybe a lawn mower out in the yard. A bit of background sound without it getting in your ear.

Different people will find different types of sound distracting. I’m writing this in a busy café surrounded by plenty of chatter and background noise. It’s perfect for me. My mind feels cocooned by the ambient noise and I can focus fully on my ideas.

Others might find the content of close conversation distracting and be better off with white noise like distant traffic, bird song or kids playing (as long as they’re not yours and on their way to disturb you).

Tip: If you’re trying to find the right noise type and level for you, play around with it. Think about when and where you’re at your creative best. What type of noise surrounds you? Turn the music up. Turn it down. Change rooms. Change locations. Try a white noise app. Experiment and find what works for you.

2. Get the timing right.

Every one of us operates on an internal body schedule known as circadian rhythm. These rhythms roughly follow a 24 hour cycle and they respond primarily to light and dark in our environment. Some of us function better in the morning and others work at our best in the evening and at night. (Not sure whether you’re a morning or night person? Try this questionnaire).

There’s some research that suggests that morning is the best time for creativity for everyone, regardless of whether you’re an early bird or a night owl. Your willpower is stronger in the morning (it’s a finite resource and may not stick with you all the way til an evening writing session) and the creative connections in the brain fire more readily in the early hours of the day, just after sleep.

If you want to get analytical, however – the type of thought required for editing – you can leave that til later in the day when those neurons have settled down and are ready for more methodical, structured thought.

Tip: Keep a journal of when your best ideas come to you (waterproof notepads do exist for the shower creatives). Do this for a week or more and look for patterns. Find ways to capture the ideas when they land. According to some research, morning people might get their best ideas at night and night owls in the morning. It’s something to do with the brain being better at creativity when it’s a little fuzzy.

Take note of your best times for editing and other blog tasks too. If you can plan your day around when your mind works best for each type of task you’ll improve your efficiency.

3. Engage in rituals.

Legend has it that Victor Hugo, to avoid procrastination and get down to writing, would strip off and instruct his valet to hide his clothes so that he couldn’t leave the house. This may or may not work for you depending on the availability of a valet but you may have other rituals that get you into the writing frame of mind.

Maybe you always use a particular pen and notebook, or you like to be seated by a window with a view of the street. You might work best after exercising or in your PJs. I get my writing mojo in my favourite café after a yoga class.

Rituals are important because they serve as ‘cognitive cues’, signals to the mind that a particular activity is about to take place and it needs to get into the zone. It creates an association between the steps you take as part of your ritual and a preparedness to knuckle down and get stuff done.

Tip: The key to creating a successful blogging ritual is consistency. You need to enact and repeat the same steps over and over to make it work. Some of you might write every day. Others will only write in a certain location. Your task is to create your writing ritual, put it into practice and repeat it again and again.

4. Ditch the phone.

As any practised procrastinator will tell you, distraction is the enemy of productivity. When you’re sitting at your desk ready to write there is no end to tiny tasks that loom up and demand your instant attention. Junk mail is fascinating. Desk items require rearranging. You may even be tempted to work on your taxes.

To write a brilliant blog post you need focus and attention. You need to train that brain on the task at hand and resist the urge to be distracted by the many little items tempting you, particularly the technology that goes ding and beep, calling you with a message, notification or email.

Cruelly, the part of your brain that you need most to focus your attention and do all of the complex thinking that writing entails (the pre-frontal cortex) is also the part of the brain that is most easily distracted. Your pre-frontal cortex loves a distraction, particularly if it’s offering something novel and entertaining. Cat videos come to mind.

Don’t think you can multi-task either. Every time you are distracted from your blogging task you lose focus and productivity. It takes longer and longer for the brain to switch back into work mode. Studies have shown that there is no such thing as muti-tasking as far as the brain is concerned. It can’t do two things at once. It can only switch quickly from one task to the other and this is inefficient and exhausting.

Tip: To increase your efficiency, remove as many distractions as you can from your work space. Switch the phone off or leave it in another room. Use only the apps or programs that you absolutely need to or set yourself up with a program like StayFocusd that locks you out of websites that you have nominated as time wasters.

To manage distracting thoughts or a busy brain trying paying attention to your attention. Acknowledge that your mind will wander and you will be distracted, particularly when your blogging task is challenging. When you notice yourself thinking about something other than the task at hand or looking around for distraction, remind yourself that it’s just a normal brain doing its thing and gently bring your attention back to where it’s meant to be. Now get back to work.

5. Find your flow.

There’s a psychological phenomenon called ‘flow.’ You might have heard of it. When you’re in flow (known also as ‘the zone’) you’re in an optimal state of consciousness for getting stuff done with the added bonus of feeling great. You’re not thinking, you’re just doing. Time disappears. Nothing distracts you and the quality of your output is unparalleled. When you’re in flow, you’re on fire.

The beauty of flow is that when we’re in it we lose self-consciousness and inhibition about what we’re doing. A segment of that pesky pre-frontal cortex deactivates and quietens our inner critic. We are free to be more creative, to think more expansively, to worry less about what we’re writing and whether it’s any good.

The experience of flow also causes of a whole avalanche of happy hormones and neurochemicals to release into the brain which further enhances our productivity and makes us feel good at the same time. It’s a great place to be.

Tip: To find your flow you need to get the balance of challenge and skill for the task just right. Challenging tasks increase the likelihood that you’ll drop into flow and stay there. If you’re not challenged, you get bored and boredom leads to distraction. If you’re too challenged and your skills aren’t up to the task, that’s when anxiety sets in and you can’t work effectively when you’re anxious.

Training your focus and attention when you’re blogging will also help. Avoiding those distractions and staying mindful and focused will improve your chances of getting into the flow state.

Finally, do what you love as much as you can. ‘Good work’ as it’s known by positive psychologists aligns our strengths, out interests, our values and our sense of meaning and purpose. It’s the kind of work that fully engages us. When you’re doing something you love you’re in the right zone for flow and you’ll be rocking those brilliant blog posts in no time.

Ellen Jackson from Potential Psychology is a workplace psychologist, blogger and author who specialises in well being, positive mental health and helping working parents to flourish.