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One Activity You Should Do On Your Blog Every Day

Every DayWhat’s the one thing that you should do on your blog every day (or at least regularly)?

“Create new content!”

Good answer! Without regular new content your blog isn’t really a blog is it?

Another Great Daily Exercise for Your Blog

But other than creating new content – what else should you be paying attention to every day?

I want to suggest a simple activity that I think can be almost as important as creating new content for your blog.

It’s still content related but it’s about paying some attention to OLD posts.

Lately, I’ve been paying as much attention to my archives as I have to writing new content. And it’s paying off driving more traffic to old posts, finding new readers and importantly, improving the quality of content on the blog as a whole.

Here’s what I do:

1. Select a Post

I choose a post each day that is at least a year old. I usually choose one that is 2-3 years old and one that could do with some attention.

My criteria for selection is that it is a post with one or more of the following criteria:

  • It has performed well in the past, in terms of traffic or comment numbers
  • It has dated and needs updating to make it relevant for today
  • It was a good post but for one reason or another didn’t perform to its potential

I usually am looking for a ‘tutorial’ rather than a ‘news’ or ‘review’ type post – because I find these posts don’t date as fast.

2. Update It

By updating the post I mean numerous things, depending upon the post itself. These might include:

Update Content

This can be anything from a proof read through to a larger ‘rewrite’ of the post (or sections of it). I might add updates to make the post relevant to today or even add images/diagrams etc. Ultimately, it is about improving the content to make it more useful for readers.

Search Engine Optimisation

I don’t spend a heap of time on SEO but as I read back through the post, I will tweak it to better optimise for search engines. I use Yoast’s plugin for this and it helps by suggesting areas the post can be improved (heading, titles, alt tags, meta descriptions etc).

I also add links to other relevant posts on the blog. This is not only good for SEO, it’s good for readers too.

Social Optimisation

Posts published 3 or more years ago were published into a very different internet. Since then we’ve seen people sharing different types of content through new social media sites like Pinterest and G+.

One update I like to make is to make posts more shareable. For example adding a good visual or a collage of images can make a post more shareable on Pinterest. Also adding calls to action to share can be beneficial.

Calls to Action

In the same way that the web has changed over the last 3 years, so too have my own blogging goals and monetisation model. As a result, I take a critical look at old posts and what ‘calls to action‘ I’m giving to readers.

For example, 3 years ago I didn’t have any eBooks to sell, today on dPS we have 14. If a post I’m updating is relevant to one of these eBooks I’ll add a call to action to buy it. Other new calls to action might be to share a post on social media, to subscribe to our newsletter, to read another post, to join our forum etc.

3. Share and/or Republish

With the post updated, I then consider how it might be appropriate to give it some more exposure.

Again – there are a range of options available here including:

Republish

I don’t republish every updated post but 1-2 times per week, I will. I usually choose posts that have a proven track record of being well received and the type of content that has been shared in the past on social.

These posts go up on the blog as new posts simply by changing the publishing date to a recent one (note: on dPS I can do this easily as our link structure does not have dates in it).

Social

I also share every updated post on social media, in some way or another. I will tweet links to it but also add it into our Facebook and Pinterest sharing schedule.

Newsletter

At times I’ll also link to these updated posts in our weekly newsletter. I don’t do this for every post but often will add them with a note saying that they’re a hot post in the archives.

New/Followup Posts

The last thing I occasionally do with updated posts is to write new followup posts. This usually happens when I’m doing an update of an old post and realise that there is now scope to extend the idea considerably with a second part to the series. This new post will link back to the old – driving traffic back into the archives.

The Benefits of Paying Attention to Your Archives

The archives of your blog are in many ways just as important as the new posts on your blog.

On dPS we have over 4000 posts in the archives and it’s on these posts that the majority of our readers land thanks to search engine referrals. Updating those posts, in the way I’ve described above, not only helps their search rankings but makes the posts more useful , which means you’re more likely to see the posts shared by readers and more likely to create a good first impression on the readers who find them.

The result is more traffic, more subscribers and followers and hopefully more revenue as a consequence.

Do you update old posts on your blog? What other ‘updates’ would you add to my list above?

How Posting a Humble ‘Selfie’ Grew Traffic, Shares and Comments on a New Blog

Two months ago my wife, Vanessa, started to blog.

It is something she’s been planning for some time and with a little encouragement and some design help from Shayne, we set up at Style and Shenanigans.

The blog is in its very early days and Vanessa is still finding her voice but I think she’s a natural. I’ve been excited to see her experiment with a variety of kinds of blog posts.

NewImageTwo days ago saw a new type of blog post on Style and Shenanigans – a post that I watched Vanessa put a lot of thought into. It was the first time she’d shown herself on the blog in a picture with a post called Everyday Style @ Shenanigans Central.

The post included a montage of humble selfie shots of an outfit she wore and a description of the different elements in the outfit.

I totally understand V’s hesitation with the post.

Putting a picture of yourself ‘out there’ for all to see is something I remember pondering for a few days, before I did  when I started blogging back in 2002.

Back then, I had to go and get an image scanned to be able to put my photo up so it wasn’t something I could do on the spur of the moment. I also worried about doing it. I was concerned about privacy but I also felt weird about having my face ‘out there’.

I think I’ve gotten over that… as a quick search on Google Images will show (although I didn’t post all of these shots myself and at least one have been ‘doctored’).

Selfies

While we live in an age of the ‘selfie’ – when people constantly photograph and share pictures of themselves – many new bloggers do worry about their first time.

It won’t be for everyone and you will want to consider issues around privacy and safety however, there are some definite benefits. You can see some of those benefits with Vanessa’s post this week.

V’s blog post statistics were notable for three reasons:

  • Firstly, it was a record day of traffic. While it didn’t go viral it was the best day of traffic so far on the blog and around 7 times the traffic of a normal day.
  • Secondly, the post got shared more than a normal post. Again, it wasn’t a viral post but a greater number of people shared it around.
  • Thirdly, the post had more comments than she’d had previously. I think this was related to more than the increase in traffic.

My reflection upon V’s post was that it was a post that people connected to, a lot more than previous posts. Because of that, it generated more interest and more engagement.

People relate to people. We’re wired to be drawn to others and respond to their faces and stories. It’s no wonder that by injecting some personal touches into a blog – it has a positive impact.

I noticed this same thing when I first started posting images and videos of myself in my early blogging. It felt weird at first – but it helped my readers connect to me.

A Surprise Benefit of Being Personal

I also think that it had another benefit for my blog. It made ME feel more connected too. I noticed this in particular when I started posting videos of myself, here on ProBlogger. The same was true when I first did video streaming chats and webinars.

There is something about creating content that is more personal that makes ME feel more engaged with my readers. Perhaps having been seen and heard by my readers – I feel a little more accountable to them.

Whatever it is, I feel like by putting myself out there and over the years my blogging has improved.

Have you posted pictures of yourself on your blog?

I’d love to hear about your experience of this. Have you posted more personal content on your blog? Pictures, video, stories etc?

Was it something you struggled with or just did? What impact did it have?

A 10 Step Guide to Becoming a Better Blogger – Starting Today

This is a guest contribution by Adam Smith.

If you are reading this post, I am guessing that you have a blog and at least a few social media accounts or you are just starting out and have a interest in blogging. Right?

Instead of trying things out at first, guessing, hitting a wall and then becoming discouraged, this post is a ten step guide to becoming a better blogger than you are right now.

This guide will get you at the top of your blogging game faster than you ever thought possible.

Here are the ten habits that I have created with my blogging to get noticed and they will work for you, too…

1. Prepare a plan

Is your blog development planned? A plan works for anything that is important to you.

What do you want to achieve with your blog? Include what you want to communicate through your posts to your readers and create the daily steps to get to those goals. List every important thing down to the smallest detail.

Taking the time for this kind of planning will help keep you on track and doing the necessary work to get to where you want to go. It will also inspire you to keep going through the difficult time.

Action: Make a detailed plan for your blog and look at it when you need motivation.

2. Focus on your content

It seems that everyone has a blog these days and each person is adding to the ‘noise’.

The best way to fight for the attention of an audience is to produce quality content over and over again. Content that helps get your readers where they want to be. An easy way to find what content your readers love is to install Google Analytics and research what people are actually reading. You can stop taking a shot in the dark and become more intentional with your content.

Realize that the time you put in is a reflection of what you will get back. You should also know your strengths. There is no possible way that you can be good at everything and people know that, too. Build a blog that people know they can get great advice on a particular topic and they will come back for more. It works for Darren here on Problogger, On Twitip and dPS and it will work for you.

Action: Put in the time to deliver high quality content to your readers. 

3. SEO matters

Besides your content, search engine optimisation will help increase your traffic. SEO or “Search Engine Optimization” includes, but is not limited to factors such as: backlinks, quality of your blog posts, your social networking, unique visitors and the keywords that you focus on throughout your blog.
Google Adwords - keyword planner – is a great tool to assist you in finding the most popular keywords to use in your writing.
When it comes to themes, most WordPress themes have some SEO built in and when you’re using WordPress you’ll be able to access SEO plugins that can be installed to make life easier for you.
In a world where it is really hard to stand out in a big crowd, pairing great SEO with writing for your specific audience will grow your readership quickly and effectively. 

4. Be concise

People’s attention spans and time allotted to read is getting smaller and smaller these days. There is too much to do and so little time.

Write your posts so they share what is needed to get your point across, without rambling. You make a bigger impact when you share your thoughts in a concise way.

Action: Don’t lose your readers with long, drawn-out posts. Get to the point without all of the excess.

5. Be quotable

Being quotable is a really effective way to gain the attention of new readers; it’s more important than who you know.

Clear, clever quotes are easy to share on Facebook, more retweets on Twitter and more repins on Pinterest and when you include a link to your post, you can reach more people than you ever could on your own.

Action: You will get the traffic that you have always wanted from being quotable. Pick out the best quotes from your posts and share them across social media.

6. Grab their attention with new ideas

Light bulb with a great idea

The first step to having more success with fresh ideas is to be quiet and think.

That’s right.

Carve out time in your day to focus on creating fresh ideas. Don’t repeat what everyone else is saying. Push yourself to find greatness with your writing and then push yourself even more. It is time to find your unique voice and once you do this, stick with it.

Action: Be quiet and write down the ideas that come to you. Take time to do this on a daily basis and you’ll find yourself with lots of great ideas to choose from.

7. Speak with authority

Nobody takes advice from a book that starts every sentence with, “Maybe”.

Learn to speak with confidence in your area of expertise. Become a source of knowledge by becoming confident. Show readers that you take your work seriously by putting your time into conducting research. When you do this, you’ll begin to share your knowledge with a new found familiarity and confidence.

Action: Become familiar with the topic you are writing about with further researc. Learn to repeat these steps even when you don’t feel like it. That is what separates the amateurs from the pros.

8. Don’t have an outdated look

 

Mess

Image courtesy stock.xchng user shelead

Maybe your content is decent, but if your blog theme makes it difficult to find and your font is hard on the eyes, your readers won’t stick around.

It useful to find a group of people you can have look at your site and give you honest feedback. Sometimes you just need a fresh set of eyes to see things differently and make changes that are better in the end.

Action: Ask yourself, “Is my blog theme up to date?”

9. Don’t forget your marketing

Marketing your blog is essential if you want to attract new readers. After all, how will they know about you if you don’t tell them?

You can entice new readers to subscribe by giving something away for free. In my case, it was a free ebook that began drawing new readers in, but for you it could be something different. This gives you a way to capture reader’s email addresses and it allows you to begin forming your team.

Action: Incentives entice readers to commit. Give free,valuable information away to others and then do it some more.

10. Build a team

Create relationships. Be reachable. Help others. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to others, too. People usually won’t know about you unless you take the time to meet others.

After writing great content for a short time, people will begin to know you for helpful content and your community will naturally form by them coming back for more.

Action: Word of mouth is the best type of press. Find and connect with your core group of followers and encourage them to share your best posts with others.

It doesn’t matter what subjects you write about on your blog, these ten steps will help you develop your blogging plan and propel you forward to finding your “sweet spot” in the blogging world.

My challenge to you is to find those things that work for you and take note of the items that create growth.

Once you create traction with an audience, it can be repeated.

What steps have you used to see a great reaction with your posts online?

Adam Smith resides in the Boulder, Colorado area with his wife and daughter. He is the author of the ebook, Discipline: The Art of Achieving Greatness and also an editor/ blogger at asmithblog.com. You can read more about Adam at http://asmithblog.com/about/.

Got a HOT Post on Your Blog? Here’s What to Do To Find and Optimise It

Yesterday, I shared a post that analysed 5 posts I wrote in the first year of Digital Photography School, that went on to generate a lot of traffic for the site.

Today, I want to build upon that post and share some tips on how to capitalise on such posts to help you to build your blog even further.

You see, getting a post to the point where it’s generating decent traffic is just half of the challenge a blogger faces. If you have such a post, your work has only just begun!

Any post that is generating decent amounts of traffic, whether it’s temporary (as the result of a social media event or another blog linking up), or whether it’s because it’s ranking well in Google and generating decent long tail traffic, is a golden opportunity.

Every person who arrives on your popular post has the potential to help you reach your goals. They could:

  • Read another post (generate another page view which can be good for advertising revenue)
  • Subscribe to your feed or newsletter and become a regular reader
  • Follow you on one of your social media accounts and become part of your community
  • Buy a product you’re selling or promoting as an affiliate
  • Share the post with other people and help generate more traffic

You can add to or subtract from this list depending upon your own goals and objectives.

The key is to be aware of what posts are doing well for you in terms of building traffic and optimise those posts to help you achieve your goals.

Let’s break that down into two parts:

1. Build Monitoring Post Performance Into Your Workflow

Unless you’re aware of which posts are doing well, in terms of traffic, you’ll never know which posts to optimise.

Most bloggers don’t have too much of a problem with this. In fact, many of us quite obsessive about checking our blog stats! However, there are a variety of things that are well worth keeping track of on your blog. Here are two things I do regularly:

Check Real Time Stats

I love Google Analytics and have loved their addition of Real Time stats.

Optimizing posts google real time stats

This tool means that at any moment I can see a variety of great things about what’s happening on my site, including total visitor numbers but also which posts are particularly hot at any point.

I keep ‘real time stats’ open most of the day and check it numerous times through the day as part of my normal working rhythm.

So if there’s a post that is going viral due to something happening on Facebook or because another blog has linked up, then I can immediately identify that post and think about how I might leverage that traffic.

This is only really useful in helping you to identify temporary rushes of traffic so it is also important to keep checking of long tail traffic that might be slowly building up over time.

For example – yesterday I gave the example of a post on the topic of ISO in photography. This particular post has never really had a day of viral traffic but over the last 6 years it has generated over 2 million page views. It’s simply ranked well in Google which, every day, sends a few hundred visitors to the post.

Digging Deeper to Identify Long Tail Traffic

If I was only ever checking Google’s ‘real time stats’ I might never have noticed that post was doing well – so it’s also important to dig deeper.

So every month I spend a little time looking at what posts have done well on the site. I look at this both to see what new posts have done well from newsletter traffic, social media etc – but also drill down further just to look at search engine traffic.

Here’s a screenshot of last months search traffic to posts:

Search traffic last month

This is golden information to be aware of as it identifies some key posts and pages in the archives that I should be spending time optimising (see how below). Collectively these pages send a lot of traffic over time to the site, if I’m not paying attention to them I’m wasting some great opportunities.

2. Optimising Pages

Once you’ve identified which pages are seeing higher than normal traffic to your blog you then want to turn your attention to thinking about how to leverage that traffic.

How you do this will depend upon your own individual goals for your blog.

Here are a few things that I have done on some of my key pages:

Note: all of these things you should be doing on all of your posts to some degree. Your goal should be to have a blog that will call people to action in all the ways mentioned below – however when you have key pages that are performing above average – you’d be crazy not to spend a little extra time polishing up those posts!

Directed people to my Newsletter

The #1 goal for me when a new person arrives on my blog is to get them to signup for our free weekly newsletter. We do this through a popup that shows the first time that they arrive but on my key posts, I also add a specific invitation to subscribe to our newsletter in the post itself.

At times I do this as an update at the start of the post but often I’ll leave it to the last line of the post when the person has had an opportunity to digest the content and has hopefully been helped by the post.

Interlinking Posts

In most of the posts I featured in yesterday’s blog post, you’ll notice that they link to other relevant posts.

My goal is to get people deeper into my blog’s archives where they’ll hopefully realise that there is a lot of useful content that they should keep exploring.

My feeling is that the more posts a person reads the more likely they are to subscribe and keep coming back. Each post they view is not only an ad impression (which helps pay my bills) but also an impression upon them as a person about the brand of the site.

I will add these links both within the posts, as I mention concepts and topics that I’ve written about before, as well as ‘further reading’ sections at the end of a post (a place that people are looking for something else to do).

Promoting Products

I don’t do this on every ‘hot post’ but if the post is on a topic that is relevant to an eBook that we’ve produced I’ll certainly add a link to that eBook at the end of the post.

For example in yesterdays post I linked to a popular Photoshop post that I’d published in which I promote our Post Production eBook at the end.

Again – I wouldn’t do this for every post, just those that I have a relevant product for.

Opportunities to Share the Post

If the traffic coming into a post is coming from a social media source, and I notice it while the traffic is still coming in, I will often add a call to action to share the post on that social media site.

For example, at times I’ve noticed rushes of traffic coming in from Pinterest on particular posts. In these cases I will often add a Pinterest Button to the post at the bottom of the post (we already have one at the top).

Other times, I have noticed great traffic from Twitter so I’ll add a call to share the post on Twitter.

Optimise for Search

If the post is generating decent search traffic it might be worthwhile spending a little time thinking about how you might tweak the post to rank even higher in search engines.

I use Yoast’s free WordPress Plugin to help with this process and will often tweak meta description, alt tags of images, add headers etc based upon the recommendations in that tool.

I don’t spend a huge amount of time on SEO when it comes to building links to my site (in fact I spend no time at all and concentrate on building useful and shareable content) but if I do see a post doing well in search I will focus a little time on improving ‘on page’ SEO.

5 First Year Posts that Led to Over 6 Million Views

What sort of content should you publish on your blog to help you grow traffic in your first year?

There is no right or wrong answer to that question as each blog will be different depending upon the topic, your writing style and the purpose of your blog. However, I thought it might be fun to look back at some of the earliest posts that I wrote on Digital Photography School and talk a little about how each contributed to the growth of the site.

What follows is a selection of posts that I published in the first year of Digital Photography School (back in 2007) and some reflections on how I think they helped grow readership on the site.

5 Posts on dPS that Helped Me Grow Traffic

Note: what you’re seeing here is how the posts look today. We’ve been through 3 redesigns in that time.

1. 15 Stunning Images Using Blur to Portray Movement

Early posts on dps

This post was the most viewed post on dPS in the first year (in that 12 month period it had 183,269 visitors). It was published about 8 months after the site launched and was one of the first times I experimented with what I later started to call ‘image collections’.

This style of post was a move away from the normal ‘tutorial’ type of posts that I did. While the majority of the posts on dPS were ‘information’ heavy this post was almost completely images (a series of 15 of them) and it highlighted the importance for me of ‘inspiration’.

One thing I’m glad I did in this post was to link it back to a previously written ‘tutorial’ that I’d written on the same topic (which I did in the first paragraph). This led to some decent traffic to that ‘information’ heavy post.

This post was something of a slow burner in terms of traffic. It wasn’t until 4 weeks after I published it that it suddenly saw a rush of traffic from StumbleUpon and Reddit (peaking at 27,000 visitors in a day).

Two years after I published this post I gave it an update and reposted it to the front page of the site. This resulted in another great spike in traffic to the post as at that time it was featured on the front page of Digg (bringing in 24,000+ visitors in a day).

In 2010, the post again had a spike of 15,000+ visitors in a day after being linked to from another large site.

This post has continued to get traffic every day. It’s not spectacular daily traffic (it has averaged 100 or so visitors per day over the last month) but when you think about the long tail life of this post it adds up. The post has been viewed 786,547 times since being published.

2. 4 Easy Photoshop Techniques to Make Your Pictures Pop!

Early posts on dps 2

This very early post (published 20 days after the launch of the site) was the one that opened my eyes to the potential of the site on a couple of levels.

Firstly, it was the first time the site saw a post go viral from any kind of social media after it was featured on the front page of Digg (which brought in 45,000+ visitors in a day and crashed our servers).

Secondly, the post was the first time I’d ever published a guest post. In the first year I did only publish a handful of guest posts and wrote 99% of them myself but this did change my opinion of the featuring other people’s voices on my blog.

Thirdly, this was the first ever post that we’d done on the topic of ‘post production’. Up until this point I’d always just published posts that were how to ‘take’ photos rather than how to manipulate and process them in photoshop. Later I went on to add a post production section to the site.

What is interesting to me about this post is that while it is now dated (as there are new versions of Photoshop out and new tools available to photographers) it still continues to get decent traffic. The post still regularly gets 200 visitors a day and has had over 1.7 million page views now despite me never really promoting it since the early days of the site (it’s almost all Google traffic).

3. 11 Surefire Tips for Improving Your Landscape Photography

Early posts on dps 3

This post is written in a style that has always been popular on dPS – the ‘list post’.

As the title suggests there are 11 tips in the post listed. Each point is 2-3 paragraphs long and then most link deeper into the site to other articles that go deeper on those topics. As a result a reader can get a good introduction to the topic but are encouraged to read more of the archives.

Scattered through the post are also great illustrative images for the points mentioned.

In later years I’ve included larger images and more of them – but this was an early version of this style of post.

This post did particularly well on StumbleUpon in the first year after it was published and saw around 148,000 visitors come to the site in that 12 months (half of which came from StumbleUpon).

Interestingly I noticed that as a result of StumbleUpon traffic (and a day that it did well on Reddit) we then saw a number of other larger blogs link to up to the post.

Lastly – for years I have used this post as a piece of ‘cornerstone’ content on the blog and have often linked to it when I mention Landscape Photography in other posts. By linking back to it so many times I was always driving traffic to this post in those early years.

Since it was published the post has been viewed over 1.3 million times – approaching 10 times more traffic than it got in its first year after publication!

This to me highlights the importance of extending the life of posts in your archives by pushing traffic back to them over time.

4. How to Photograph Fireworks

Early posts on dps 4

There are no prizes for guessing what time of year this post went live – that’s right – in the lead up to 4 July 2007 (about 6 months after the site launched). I actually published the post on 26 June to allow it to have time to be indexed by Google.

My theory was that there would be a lot of people searching for tips on how to photograph fireworks at that time, and I was right.

This post saw only a bit of traffic in its first week but on 4th July it saw 32,000+ visitors – almost all of which came in from Google.

I’ve updated this post and republished it on the front page of the site every July since 2007. It is the post that just keeps on giving. Here’s a screen shot of traffic to the site – with spikes every 4th July and New Years Eve.

Fireworks seasonal traffic

To this date the post has been viewed just under 1.5 million times.

The key lesson to me from this post was to consider when you can write seasonal content. We’ve done this a variety of times with Christmas Photography Tips and Halloween Photography Tips posts doing pretty well too.

5. ISO Settings in Digital Photography

Early posts on dps 5

All of the posts linked to above have had spectacular days of traffic but this post was quite unmemorable in many ways.

It was on a very beginner topic. I even remember wondering whether I should publish information this basic in those early days. It was a relatively short post on a niche topic that was a part of a series where I looked at the topic of Exposure and covered ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture.

Traffic to the post in the first year never rose above 800 visitors in a day and averaged only 150 per day.

But here’s the thing… this post is one of the most viewed posts I’ve ever written and has been viewed just under 2.4 million times since I published it.

You might be wondering when it featured on the front page of Digg or was linked to by a major blog… but the reality is that it never had a day of traffic over 5000 visitors (and that was just once). Here’s the traffic graph since the early days:

ISO

Where did the traffic come from? The vast majority of it was from search engines. Facebook is the next highest referrer of traffic and it only sent 17,927 views.

This is another example of a ‘cornerstone’ piece of content that must have linked to hundreds of times from other articles on the site when I mention the term ISO. I did this the same with the Shutter Speed and Aperture posts in this series (incidentally this 4 post series has had close to 6 million page views – I’m glad I wrote it).

The key lesson here is that even the most simple concepts are worth writing about. You might think a concept is too basic but there’s no doubt that others will want that information (another example of this was my ‘How to Hold a Camera‘ post that I almost didn’t publish but which has been viewed almost 600,000 times).

The other key lesson is that growing traffic to your blog is not always about trying to write shareable content that might go viral. This post is just a simple article that attempts to serve my readers. It wasn’t written with growing traffic in mind – rather it was written to serve my current readers.

I do believe that it is wise to write some of your content with ‘finding new readers’ in mind – but the majority of your posts should focus upon serving the readers you already have.

What Posts Did You Write in Your First Year that Helped You Grow Your Blog?

I have really enjoyed creating this post and have actually gotten some great idea for future posts on dPS from doing this analysis of old posts on the site.

I’d encourage you to dig into your own stats and see what you notice about your old posts that have gone well – I’d also love to hear about them in comments below!

Offline Marketing: Great Ways to Promote Your Blog Without the Internet

This is a guest contribution from Rohit M. @TeamVlogNation

Every blogger wants to promote their blog. Who doesn’t want more traffic?

When it comes to promotion, many bloggers mostly use the online world as their main marketing vehicle. The online world is great though, social media helps your blog and your daily posts go viral. You can tweet about your next blog post or send an email to your subscribers. Online marketing is critical for promotion.

But what about that, “offline world” that we all live in? Just because you turned off your laptop does not mean you can’t promote your blog anymore.

When it comes to marketing, offline promotion can be just as good as promoting your blog on the internet.

© Dmitry – Fotolia.com

Did someone say, “mini guide?” Yes!

This blog post will be kind of like a mini guide full of different ways you can promote your blog offline.

The tips and strategies explained below are not in any specific order. This is because; every method could work differently for each blogger. The same techniques do not work for everyone. It all comes down to what you feel most comfortable with, and what brings you the best ROI (return on investment).

Let’s get to the good stuff.

Branded Merchandise

What if you could do some blog marketing without even trying? Imagine all you had to do was just walk around and enjoy your day. By having branded merchandise about your blog, that is possible.

Let’s take a look at a few examples below:

T-Shirt Marketing

Your blog url on a t-shirt is all you need to realize the effectiveness that t-shirt marketing can have. You can get customized t-shirts just about anywhere.

Try checking out your local custom clothing shop, or online at places like Zazzle. By wearing a branded t-shirt with your blog url you can promote your blog by just walking around and doing everyday tasks.

Hand these branded t-shirts out to your friends and family. You can even give them away for free to people! This will increase the amount of people walking around with your branded shirt, which in turn leads to a bigger audience reach.

Extra Tip: It doesn’t always have to be a t-shirt. You can use other items such as branded hoodies, umbrellas, jackets, or even baseball caps!

Branding Your Everyday Accessories

© VRD – Fotolia.com

Having accessories that are branded with your blog address can also bring benefits. For example, here are a few ideas on the different types of accessories that you could brand:

  • Coffee Mug
  • Phone Case
  • Pens
  • Binder
  • Water Bottles
  • Bags
  • and much more!

The point here is that you can turn your everyday accessories into effective marketing tools.

I’m always intrigued to check out a website or blog after noticing it through a branded item and I’m sure there are many others who are the same way. One great place online where you can get customised accessories is Cafepress. They have tons of different items that you can brand with your blog.

Extra Tip: Always try including your blog url. If you only have your tagline or blog name, it can sometimes be less effective and memorable compared to showing your url. By including a blog address you’re providing potential visitors with a direct destination to your blog instead of having to search it up.

Sticker Marketing

Who doesn’t love stickers? Branded stickers can be a great way to promote your blog.

You don’t want to, “sticker spam” (placing stickers on everything you find). This can be really annoying at times. But stickers do send the message! Imagine just placing a large sticker on your rear bumper or rear window. Everywhere you would stop with your car could end up attracting a new visitor simply by just noticing your sticker. Include a catchy tagline along with your blog address that will make people want to visit your blog.

You can also place your branded stickers on busy places like a bus stop, or your college message board. Every time someone walks by, they could end up turning into your new blog reader! You can also provide stickers to an elementary school for kids interested in taking them home (have a cool design that kids will love). This way you’re also getting your promotion across to all the family members!

Important Note: Make sure you have the permission to place your branded stickers in the areas you desire, because you do not want them getting removed!

Free Giveaways

© Tim – Fotolia.com

Did someone say free stuff?

This method works well if you giveaway items that people actually have a daily use for. You want to give away items that can be used daily and have your blog branding on them.

Two ideas that I have come across and think could work well are car air fresheners and mouse pads (two totally random items) but can be very effective.

Car Air Fresheners

Everyone loves a great scent in their vehicles. The air freshener I’m talking about is the one you place on the rear view mirror of a car. If you gave away an air freshener, the use for it would be daily. Every time someone hops into the car as a driver or passenger, they could potentially come across your branded air freshener.

This is not something anyone would throw away after coming from a trade show. The promotion potential for a branded air freshener carries a lengthy life span.

Mouse Pads

Using a branded mouse pad as a giveaway item is actually something that carries lots of promotional potential. A mouse pad with your blog address would be an awesome idea because the only time anyone would be using a mouse pad is when their on the internet. They could end up visiting your blog very quickly!

Quick Note: This is also something you could give away to high schools or universities to use. Every time a student is in the library or computer lab they could get the message off the mouse pad and end up visiting your blog!

Extra Tip: Whenever you’re doing branded giveaways for promotion, always try giving away items that could be used daily and don’t have a, “short use” span. Giving away branded accessories that can be used daily ensures that your blog is also being promoted daily!

Networking And Socialisation Events

Networking with others in the same niche or industry is a great means of communication. Word of mouth is great when it comes to marketing. By attending networking events you can have one on one conversations with others and this is a very effective way to promote your blog. Networking with people is the best way to establish a connection between a reader and a blogger.

© scusi – Fotolia.com

Starting Your Own Meet up

Networking events in your niche or industry might not happen that often. So if there are no social events for you to attend and meet others, you can just start your own.

You can start a meet up group with your friends and readers who are located in the same city. You could discuss the latest news, gossip, and trends in your niche. This is also a great way to promote your blog when you have new faces showing up and taking part in your meetups!

This method actually works great to promote the blogs of all those attending and could end up establishing great relationships leading to further collaborations.

Extra Tip: When attending networking events, you can register as an event sponsor. By becoming a sponsor you can attract not only the attention of those who attend but also the media covering the event. If you do become a sponsor, this would be a great time to do giveaways similar to the ones we discussed above.

Think Outside The Box

© iTake Images – Fotolia.com

Creativity is important when it comes to promotion. Marketing companies are always looking for the most innovative ideas to use for promotion. You as a blogger have to think the same way in order to maximise your promotion potential.

Think outside the box. Try coming up with different and creative ideas that you could use to promote your blog. Here are a few promotional ideas I have come across and think are pretty cool!

Library – Bookmark Promotion

This idea is pretty sweet. The library bookmark promotion technique!

The two things you need for this to work are a branded bookmark and a library. You need to create a branded bookmark with your blog info and your web address. Then head over to a public library. This is where you can try and negotiate a deal that has the library include your bookmark with every book checked out for rent. Or just sneak them into random books!

Your library may provide book rentals for hundreds or even thousands of books per day. Just think about the promotion potential when every rental could end up turning the book reader into your blog reader!

Default Homepage Method

The way this promotional strategy works is by turning the default homepage of a web browser into your blog homepage or recent posts page.

You want to scale up the amount of default homepages you change to your blog homepage so try finding a place where the computers are being used daily for internet purposes.

Some places you can try visiting to arrange a deal for this method (by deal I mean your payment, negotiation or proposal) are high schools, universities, libraries, or internet cafes. The internet browsers mentioned in the locations above are used a lot on a daily basis. Every time someone opens up the internet browser, your blog will be the first thing to load. If interested, the person using the computer will read on.

Just think about how many times each computer is occupied on a daily basis by different people. This method gives you a high reach in promotion!

Time To Get Marketing

I hope you find something that works well for you in terms of promotion and helps take your blog to the next level!

Just remember, when it comes to promoting your blog, be creative and innovative. Just because no one else is doing it, doesn’t mean it won’t work. There’s a first for everything!

I would love to get your feedback and a discussion going on so leave a reply on what works best for you when promoting your blog without the internet, and any other creative ideas you think could help bloggers when it comes to offline promotion?

Rohit is the leader of the editorial staff at VlogNation.com - An Online Guide for Video Bloggers. In addition to working on VlogNation, he also enjoys sports, travel, and keeping up with the latest tech trends!

Case study: How I launched my first e-course and made over 5 grand – from a tiny list

This is a guest contribution from Marya Jan, blogging coach and trainer for small business owners.

Do you want to monetize your blog or start an online business?

Have you been blogging for a while and all you want to do is sell products or services and follow your passions?

If that’s the case, then what is stopping you?

If you are like most people, the one thing that is holding you back is the size of your list.

You might have heard this many times before, ‘money is in the list’. So you feel without having a decent sized list, you can’t launch your business, or monetize your blog.

You feel like you need thousands of people on your list before you can make an offer.

You have heard success stories from popular bloggers with 20K, 50K or even 100K plus lists and you think you too need to blog until you reach that stage.

Today, I am here to present a different perspective: The size of your list is important; there is no doubt about it. 5K list is surely better than a 200 people list.

However, there is one more thing that is even more important – list responsiveness.

How warm is your list?

What are your open rates like? How many people click through to view the content? How many people actually made it to the end and share it?

For example, 30% open rates of a 3K list mean 900 people are opening and reading your emails at any given time. That is way better than 3% open rate for a 15K list – 450. Now, I am not saying that the bigger the size of your list, the more useless it comes.

What I am saying is this: Would you be happy with 400 hot leads? 400 people who open your emails and are real prospects? If so, you could get a list of 1,000 subscribers and work really hard on nurturing your list so that your open rates are phenomenal – in the vicinity of 40%, rather than worry about growing your list and allowing it to go cold.

When you start thinking about having a warm list where people really like and trust you, and get huge value from you, then you don’t need to wait till you have thousands of people on your list before you launch your business. 

Don’t believe me? Then let me tell you my story.

Launch of an e-course

How to use your blog to build a highly responsive, super targeted list makes the premise of my brand new e-course that I recently launched – to my list only, aptly titled Get 500 Subscribers.

The target market for this course is new businesses who are relying on their blogs as a primary marketing tool for building their lists or want to start blogging. These people understandably don’t have huge marketing budgets so blogging makes the perfect lead generation tool for them.

This also targets those people who blog but they haven’t monetized because they don’t have the information.

But before that, some context as you might be wondering who am I to give you advice on this? I am a blogging coach. Formally, I hold a MBA-marketing, Bachelor at Law and Education degrees, and I started my own business last year. I offer coaching and review services and I also teach Blogging for Business courses in local adult education provides (that’s TAFE for people who are in Australia).

I, too, felt that I could not launch my services before I had a minimum of 2K subscribers. In fact, I waited for longer than that.

I did an internal launch to my list of 3K subscribers in July (by internal launch I mean that the course was released to my list ONLY).

There are a few reasons for that:

As a pilot version, I wanted to allow a specific number of people in to test out the material and organisation of info presented. I wanted to see what they thought of it and if they found it to be practical enough.

I figured if these people are blog subscribers, they are more likely to forgive the mistakes (like typos which I am notorious for) and other issues that I might have missed. I also wanted to get feedback on how to make it better.

Finally, I wanted to see how they went after going through the course. I wanted to see their results and write mini case-studies based on all the information made avaiable to me, for the main launch. This would also make great testimonials and tell others that the course really works.

Research phase

So, before I even started creating this course, I polled my list and asked them if this is something they might be interested in.

I said to them that there are number of blogging related courses on the market already and they boast of adding thousands of subscribers to your list. I had asked them what their numbers currently look like and what they thought is doable.

I was really surprised by the sheer number of responses I received. But the most surprising was the fact that my audience was clearly split between people who were thinking of monetizing or new business and people who did not even have blogs yet. This was certainly eye opening for me.

But people generally agreed that for anyone having less than 100 people on their list, 500 is a great number to shoot for. So that is what I decided to run with.

I also decided to do an e-course instead of an ebook because we all know how many times we buy an ebook, scan through it and never pick it up again. I also wanted it to be step by step process, logically organised and also not overwhelm them as there are so many moving parts to this process.

Needless to say, I did a thorough home work on the competitors to check out their products, price points and of course their sales copy.

Based on the demand, the information included (6 modules with multiple lessons) and accompanying worksheets, checklists, resources and templates, I decided that the price tag of about $300 seemed fair. For my list though, I gave them a hefty 50% discount as I wanted initial intake of members to feel like founding members of the course and help me tweak it along the way.

This gave the confidence to keep going every time I faced a setback.

Investment

For the set up, I purchased Premise from Copyblogger media ($165) and bought one hour of consulting to set it up. This had me hyperventilating at some points because I hadn’t thought I’d have such a hard time getting my head around it. ($100)

I bought ebooks on how to launch from Ittybiz ($200) and referred to all my resources and previously bought training on writing sales pages and email marketing.

I did not spend anything on packaging as I did not need cover design or any fancy elements. This meant I kept the costs low.

Sales sequence 

For my pre-launch content, I had been publishing related blog posts such as   Why You Don’t Need to Become a Popular Blogger prior to announcing the course.

I did the initial survey and kept my audience in the loop from the beginning. They knew that I was working on this product and expected it. I announced it via email a week before enrolment was to open.

I kept my launch period fairly short – 4 days.

I send 5 emails altogether. Here is a brief sequence in case you are wondering.

Email 1: Officially open for enrolment + bonus (Day 1)

Email 2: Reader questions answered (Day 3)

Email 3: Last day for enrolment (Last day)

Email 4: Few hours remain (Last day)

Launch mistakes + lessons 

Based on the survey I did earlier, it was clear that this course would appeal to 50% of my audience. 50% (of those who answered) don’t have even have a blog yet. This course is definitely NOT for them. (This also told me that I can also release a product aimed at beginner bloggers at some stage.)

I should have started an interest list.

I wasn’t confident enough to do that but would have been better because would have gotten the realistic numbers. I would have avoided some emotional stress. There were some unsubscribes which are to expected but I would have lost less people had I emailed to the people on my interest list only.

I could have built more context around the premise of my course (building a list of super targeted 500 subscribers) by doing more pre-lunch content pieces. I feel I rushed through this phase. I did a post or two but how many people read those?

I didn’t realise that it is a holiday in USA + July 4 long weekend when I was closing enrolment. I still can’t believe I didn’t pick up on that.

So many people launched in June-July. I am thinking early in 2014 for my main launch might be better next time

There was some initial confusion regarding the dates, I didn’t proofread launch emails properly and I am thinking this must have affected sales.

And this is what I did really well.

Because of the survey, I was able to choose a topic and create a product that my audience really wanted. I also ran this idea by trusted friends.

My friends (Henri Juntilla, Henneke D and Di Mace in particular) helped name the product. Initially, I was thinking of promoting it as School of Business Blogging but received concern that it might put people off as they might think it is too corporate or serious. Dodged that bullet – phew!

On my sales page, I got over 15% conversion rate which is HUGE. This is confirms that there is a demand for this course.

My goal was to make 5K and I exceeded that.

I need to bring this in front of the right (and bigger) audience next time.

I was told by my readers that my emails very convincing, despite the odd typo!

Unexpected findings

90% of people who joined became my blog subscribers this year (many in May 3013). This means that you don’t have to get people on your list for the longest time to sell to them. Sometimes people like what they see and buy soon enough

People who opened course notification emails (announcement, early access + official open) made up for 35% of my list, on average. Over 500 people never opened a single email of time. After the launch, I actually deleted and moved to an old people list. I wrote about this process on this post – Why I Deleted 400 Subscribers from My List.

I now realise that was probably attracting the wrong audience – meaning people who were just interested in blogging generally but not to use it for marketing and list building purposes. For this reason, I converted the ebook into a 10-part free e-course titled Blogging for Business. This has been converting really well and my open rates are up so I assume this was the right decision.

I could also use a re-brand. This is something I am working on.

Ration of women : men = 30:6. Well this wasn’t so unexpected. I seem to attract women who are in their late 30s and over as they know the reality of building a business and can see through the hype.

All in all, there were no major screw ups.

I learned a ton in the process, met expectations (yay!) and feel way more confident that ever in launching this course to public.

My next steps are to create more products, market more, grow list, re-brand and of course do the main launch of my e-course in 2014.

So back to you. Have I given you something to think about? Has my story changed your mind a bit?

When are you going to lunch your first product? Would you wait till you have thousands of people on your list or will a few hundred do?

Will you work on building the right list or focus on numbers?

What will it take for you to finally monetize?

Marya Jan is a blogging coach and trainer for small business owners. She is the creator of Get 500 Subscribers e-course and teaches Business Blogging short courses in real life. Don’t forget to grab her free 10-part Blogging for Business email course. Like her on Facebook, she is very friendly!

7 Simple Ways To Attract More People to Your Blog

This is a guest contribution from Ryan Currie at Spokeo.

Blogging is an art and it takes practice to really get right.

There are few things more frustrating than pouring your blood, sweat, and tears into a masterfully crafted blog post only to see the analytics at a standstill days after posting.

Here are a few tips for bringing more people to your blog, consistently.

1. Find out what people want to read

Social media is a blogger’s best friend. Not only can you use social to share your latest blog post, you can use it to source upcoming blog material too. Check out Twitter’s trending topics and take notes on common themes among your Facebook friends’ status updates.

Don’t pander to an audience, but keep in mind what people want to talk about.

2. Self-promote like you’d network for a job

Networking grid

Image thanks to digitalart on Freedigitaslphotos.net

There’s no shame in promoting your blog! Not only should you have social widgets at the bottom of each blog post, you should be posting your work on every site you’re active on.

Keep a link to your blog in your email signature and feel free to tell people about it in everyday conversation when appropriate.

3. Speak to a more specific audience

It sounds counterintuitive, but getting more specific with your blog posts is a surefire way to build a niche audience. For example, there are millions of food blogs out there, but exactly how many specialising in gluten-free baking?

Find a niche you can really invest in and you’ll naturally build a loyal audience that shares your content for you.

4. Score a guest post

Guest posts are a great way to bring new eyes to your site. Reach out to bloggers who make sense for your area of expertise and write a really awesome post for their site.

One link to your blog in the boilerplate of a terrific post can catapult your numbers.

5. Reform your titling strategy

Like it or not, good titles are important. Consider what you’d want to read online and how people typically interact with web content. Make your title concise, interesting, and sharable and you’ll be surprised how many clicks you can get. Numbers work well as do current topics in the news and never underestimate the power of a superlative like “best,” “most,” or “biggest.”

6. Post more regularly

Very, very regularly! Whether it’s twice a week or twice a month, people have to know when to expect new content on your blog. The more consistent you are with your posts the more of a loyal audience you can attract and the more plugged in you’ll seem.

Once people learn your blog is a resource for a certain topic that’s updated regularly they’ll keep coming back if they like what they read.

7. Write about things you truly feel passionate about

It really is that simple. Readers can tell when you’re phoning it in and when they think you’re baiting them with topical posts that you’re using to hit numbers. The more authentic you are when blogging the better response you’re going to get. Be thoughtful, use research, and know what’s going on in the blogosphere but above all else write about what you know.

Page views aren’t the end-all-be-all of blogging, but they’re important, particularly if you ever hope to monetize your blog. Keeping these seven tips in mind can get you a long way towards your goal of gaining a steady stream of visitors, one at a time.

Ryan Currie is a Product Manager at Spokeo, a leader in people search and reverse phone lookup services.  In addition to working on Spokeo, he also enjoys history, pop culture, and following the latest new in the movie industry.

6 Reasons to Link Away from your Blog

This is a guest contribution from Adam Grunwerg.

The world of SEO and blogging is kind of limited in that most people will tell you the same things: “build high quality content and do personal outreach in order to receive natural authority backlinks”.

For example, this awesome resource from PointBlankSEO.com is genuinely one of the best articles and tools I’ve ever read for link building strategies in 2013.  It offers hundreds of tips for building white hat links such as PR, competitions, tools, interviews and tests.

However, I still feel this misses the point.

It focuses entirely on link building tactics, rather than how you can increase the perceived value of your content to users – namely by linking away from your blog.

Why? Well here are 6 great reasons to link out.

1. Useful Resource for Readers

The best bloggers will routinely link out to content on a regular basis because it provides readers with more information about a particular subject. For instance, if someone is looking for charts or tools not hosted on your site then it makes sense to link out for your reader’s benefit.

You can even include a cloaked affiliate link if you’re interested in getting credit for the referral (although transparency about affiliate links is always recommended)

2. Creating a “Top List” of the Best Resources or Products

Creating lists such as “13 Tools and Services that I use Everyday” or the “Top 5 Affiliate Blogs” are extremely popular among readers. By linking out to the best resources, you can improve your relationships with other bloggers and websites. It’s a bit like re-tweeting some else’s status – it’s a way of supporting great content and becoming known to the author.

3. Give Credit to External Research and Statistics

Backing up your articles with research and statistics from external resources helps add credibility and value to your content. If you use someone else’s statistic or surveys in a piece then you should also ensure you quote or link to the original source.

4. Interviews and Quotes with Experts in the Industry

Many bloggers and newspapers will routinely look to interview industry experts in order to get better insight and quotes for their story. If you want to add value to your website this way then you need to build some solid contacts, engage in B2B relationships and use PR enquiry services such as HARO and Response Source (both of these services are free to use).

5. Publish Charts, Infographics and Aggregate Data on your Site

Using visual chart and infographics can make it much easier to get a point across to your readers. If you publish someone else’s infographic, you should give credit to the original source as they’ve taken the time and cost to research, produce and distribute it.

6. Improving your SEO, Usability and Panda Score

The best websites will link out to high quality sources for their articles and it’s great for SEO and website rankings. While incoming links are more important (from a ranking point of view) outbound links, to valuable content, is good for your readers and that’s what gets rewarded long term. Too many blogs are scared of linking out in order to preserve their own Page Rank but they’re actually missing out on the other rewards.

Remember…

Linking away from your blog can increase the value of your own content; help build real relationships with other bloggers; and in many cases it’s just the right thing to do (a bit like when you use someone else’s images).

If you’re scared of losing traffic to other websites through external links then you can always use the target=”_blank” HTML tag in order to force open the link in a new window, or you can use cloaked affiliate links to be compensated for the referral.

whiteboard

Image by Jeff Kubina, licensed under Creative Commons

Now it’s over to you. How much link love do you send away from your blog?

Adam Grunwerg is an Internet marketing specialist who runs his own consultancy at http://www.searchable.co.uk.  He writes extensively about marketing, PR, blogging and affiliate marketing.