Improve Your Blog with Networking

Improve-BlogIn Answer to My question – ‘What did You Do On Your Blog in 2007 that Improved it the most’ – David Peralty from answered:

The answer to your question boils down to one word: networking.

With everything else I have done in my blogging, networking is really the only thing that has really given my blogs a huge push in 2007. Talking to people from different backgrounds, connecting with them and learning from them. It is really amazing what kind of effect it can have on your productivity, as well as traffic, resources, and even monetization, all from making a few friends.

Without developing my networking abilities, I probably wouldn’t be a full time blogger anymore, and I can’t stress enough the importance of connecting with your peers.

I have met all kinds of great people this year, especially in the second half, where my future in blogging was uncertain. Because of my efforts in reaching my hands out, everything else has quickly continued to fall into place. So once again, I highly recommend bloggers of all skill and expertise spend time refining their abilities in networking.

How to Maximize the Benefits of Guest Posting

Keeping You Posted by Skellie.Publishing guest posts on popular blogs is a tried and tested way to get inbound links and traffic. There are certain things you can do to make this experience even more rewarding.

In this post, I want to share a number of methods you can use to maximize the rewards of any guest post you publish.

A note: This post will tell you how to get the most out of guest posting once you’ve got a blogger who’s willing to publish you. If you want more information on getting to that point, I’d suggest you read Darren’s tips on pitching to bloggers.

Do your research

A little bit of research is essential before you submit your guest post to be published. It will help make sure you’re properly rewarded for your work and that you produce something that will be well received by the blog’s audience.

Does the blogger give adequate credit to guest posters? If the blog you’re writing for doesn’t allow an in-post byline for its guest-authors, don’t bother. If you write a post including a byline for this kind of blog, the author will most likely remove the byline and publish your work without it. I’ve had this happen to me before — it’s not fun!

What kind of posts work well on the blog? Take a look at some of the blog’s most popular posts to get an idea of what worked well. Could you create something with similar elements?

Are there any gaps waiting to be filled? I wrote my first guest post for ProBlogger on drawing StumbleUpon visitors into your blog because I noticed it was something that hadn’t been covered much before. It went on to become one of this blog’s most popular posts. Ask yourself: how can I use what I know to bring something unique to the blog?

A stunning albino peacock.
The ideal guest post will show off your skills and impress. Photo by lightgazer.

Optimize your post for greater rewards

What you write and how you present it can influence how rewarding your guest posting experience will be. Here are a few tips to help you optimize your posts.

Link to yourself and others. If you’ve written something that relates to the guest post on your own blog, find a way to work in a link. You can link out to other sources as well if you’d like to take a more democratic approach. A note: if you haven’t written something vitally on topic, don’t link out just for the sake of it. This will look like you’re putting self-promotion above relevance.

Put in a real effort. It’s easier to have social media success with your post on a popular blog because there’s a bigger pool of readers to vote for what you write. More traffic to the post means more click-throughs to your site. In other words, it’s not actually worth it to write the minimum required just to get a link back to your blog. Writing a great guest post will drastically increase the rewards.

Participate in the comments section. One of the metrics whereby bloggers judge the success of a post (as you know) is the comment count. You can raise this and make a good impression on those who’ve commented by responding to questions and feedback on your guest post.

Call in favors. Use your connections to bump along the success of your guest post. You can contact social media users you know, link to the post from your own blog, or pitch the link to other bloggers.

Crafting your byline

The byline is where you’re credited for your writing. You can see an example at the bottom of this post. Most bloggers will give you the freedom to put whatever you like in your byline (within reason) — as long as it’s not too long. The byline is the place where people will decide whether or not to click-through to your own blog, so it’s important to get it right.

Create a byline to suit your goals. If you mainly want feed subscribers, include only a link to your feed. If you want feed subscribers and traffic, include a link to your feed and your site. If you only want traffic, drop the link to your feed. If you want to sell a product, mention it instead.

Appeal to your target audience. If you write for a certain type of people (for example: bloggers, dads, Zen Masters), include that information in your byline. It will capture the attention of the kind of people you want reading your blog.

Explain the benefits. If you want people to visit your site or subscribe to your feed, explain what they’ll get in return. Useful advice? Hints and tips? Free stuff? Give people a reason to do what you want.

Points to review

  • Take the time to research the blog you’d like to write for.
  • Write with the blog’s target audience in mind.
  • A quality post can help you just as much as it helps the blog’s owner.
  • Craft your byline to compliment what you want to get out of guest posting.

Skellie is a regular writer for ProBlogger. Subscribe to her feed for more useful blogging advice.

TwitterFeed – Promote Your Blog Posts to Twitter Followers

TwitterfeedQuick blog promotion tip – is a service that will automatically twitter any post that you publish on your blog.

I’ve started doing it on my Twitter account and have seen quite a few visitors come across from it so far.

Thanks to cat-laine (blog) for the tip.

How do You ‘Sell’ Your Blog?

Sell-Your-BlogThis post has been submitted by Karen Andrews from

I am no stranger (nor are you, probably) to how the wider media sometimes depicts bloggers: as closeted wannabees who add to the rise of ‘faux journalism’. Books are currently being published on the subject.

This could understandably contribute to any beginner blogger’s self-consciousness; especially those who are staring at their ad revenue reports, wondering if any money is every going to start showing up.

I used to be bashful when I talked about my blog. Not anymore. Why should I be? I’m proud of it. I’m proud of what it catalogues; thoughts, my goals, even my ambitions.

No doubt you feel the same about yours, too. But any hint of shyness, or pause, when you talk of your blog is hardly going to attract readers. Or advertisers.

Recently, I migrated from Blogger to WordPress; a rather stressful time for me, for I was deathly afraid that over a year’s worth of work and effort would somehow evaporate into nothingness (luckily, it didn’t). I had several reasons for the change; the main ones being I was a little tired of the limits of Blogger, and I wanted a purer control of my own writing and ‘brand’, for lack of a better word.

When I discussed my plans with non-bloggers, they all asked me “Why?” Why change? Why bother? What’s the difference?

I replied, “I just felt like it was time. It didn’t feel comfortable anymore.”

Granted, this was rather a drastic change. It needn’t be. Standard templates only need to be tweaked slightly to give yourself the opportunity to individualise (and hence ‘validate’) your blogging status. This mightn’t be important to some people; for others it just might be the chance to assert their creative will, and this newly found confidence can lead them on to loftier plans.

And sometimes stamping your own blogging status begins with how you speak about blogging in the first place.

Here’s my challenge:

  • Put your blog’s URL as part of your signature in your email (if you haven’t already).
  • Mention it in conversations.
  • Enter blog carnivals.
  • Do what you can (short of spamming, naturally!) to spread the word of your blog.

What are you waiting for?

Help sell your blog to the world. Isn’t it worth it?

Self Branding – Moving Beyond the Niche to Generate Income as a Blogger


image by mleak

This guest post on blog branding is by Mark Hayward who blogs over at MyTropicalEscape and Culebra Blog. You can learn more about him in the footer of this post.

Are you currently blogging to generate income, or have you recently thought about monetizing your site?

As I prepare to leave my steady job with a guaranteed paycheck and (hopefully) move on to blogging or working online full time I have looked at and analyzed a tremendous amount of blogs and the top money earners all share one common characteristic.

Without a doubt, all of the major, financially successful sites out there, including ProBlogger, have one similar component and that is their mastery of branding, or more specifically, self-branding.

Branding can be described as the symbolic embodiment of all the information connected to a particular product or company.

Effective branding serves to create assumptions, excitement, associations, and expectations that are ingrained in consumers and generated with the mere mention of a company and its goods or services (think GOOGLE, NIKE, Jet Blue).

What is self-branding?

Just like with any company such as, Microsoft, or a product like the IPOD, which attempt to emote certain feelings within the consumer in order to get them to purchase their goods, bloggers need to establish on their site who they are and what they embody. Essentially, every one of your blog readers, (whether it’s a first time visitor or a frequent active comment poster) are your consumers. Therefore “self branding” as it pertains to an individual’s blog should quickly allow readers to know what you stand for, what you are trying to portray, and most importantly, the message you are trying to convey.

How you choose to brand yourself will determine if you will capture loyal readers.

We must try to remember that blog readers are not on any given site because of the ads, or products that are placed there. First time visitors to your site are there to read your content and to hopefully learn something that they might not otherwise know.

I do not know the specific statistics but I believe people decide within the first minute if they are going to return to any given site that they have visited. Therefore, you have a limited amount of time to market yourself and you must keep in mind that you are your brand and the topic that you write about is your niche.

Blog visitors will return if you can create an emotional connection with them particularly if they feel that they have something in common with you.

Additionally, people will continue to visit a blog if they trust you and feel they stand to gain something through your well written site content. However, in order to get them to click on your ads, or purchase your products they have to believe in you and what you are trying to sell. Whatever you are selling, or promoting through your writing, there has to be some sort of fundamental emotional value in it for the end user.

Typically, blogs about making money from blogging recommend that you “need to find a niche” if you want to be successful and actually earning a living via personal publishing.

While I strongly agree that a solid niche is needed I feel that the concept actually goes well beyond just having a niche if you are going to have long-term, sustainable, financial success online. For a blog to be successful in this day and age sites need to have a well-planned three tiered approach, which includes:

  1. a well-defined niche
  2. well written quality content
  3. effective self-branding

Moreover, each of these varying aspects must seamlessly support and feed into the other. Are there exceptions to the tiered approach? Of course there are. However, people who blog can be successful within their niche and can produce good posts but they are missing out on sales, or ad click throughs if they are lacking successful self-branding.

Problogger-Logo-PFor example, let’s take a look at ProBlogger. Recently, Darren has been writing about and helping to promote the Teaching Sells “Step-by-Step Training Courses.” If I had noticed this endorsement on 99.99% of the other blog sites out there I would have given it absolutely no attention at all. However, because Darren has successfully self-branded himself as one who provides practical, useful, and readily applicable tips at ProBlogger, he has an inherent and well-earned trust with his visitors (myself included). So, the end result being that there is a very good chance I will pay for the Teaching Sells course.

This is exactly where self-branding and how your blog readers view you is SO important. Die hard skeptics, myself included, will click through ads, support your promotional items, or even make a direct purchase from you if they believe in you (your brand).

Selfbranding DoshdoshAnother blogger that has mastered self-branding is Maki over at DoshDosh. Personally, I am not a huge fan of anime and before I discovered his blog the Japanese cartoons used to represent (in my mind) typical Saturday morning television for children. However, because Maki makes it a point to include a cartoon with all of his posts the way that I associate and perceive anime, and the feelings it emotes, has completely changed. These days, if I find myself flipping through a magazine, or catch a snippet of anime on television I begin to think of the blog DoshDosh, the niche it represents, and the tagline, “helping you make money online.” The reason for the change is Maki’s successful self-branding.

Of course, you can place all the ads you would like on your site but if people don’t trust you then they will not click to your sponsors or purchase your products and you will lose money. If you are interested in earning money from blogging, or would like to generate more revenue, here are five simple tips that you can use to help you begin your self-branding:

  • Before setting up your income generating blog create a plan and write down how you would like to be perceived by your readers (e.g. practical, humorous, sarcastic, authoritarian, combative, etc).
  • Review the sites that you go back to again and again. Have you purchased anything from them, or clicked on their ads? Analyze specifically what it is about those blogs and the emotions they evoke that have you coming back.
  • Create an effective tagline. Sounds simple but it will set your site’s tone immediately.
  • Know your readers (your consumers).
  • If you expect site visitors to spend money or click on ads then be approachable. If you reply to a readers query about an ad on your site not only will you establish a personal connection with them, additionally, for the skeptics out there it can help to create trust in you.

If you are blogging for money always try to keep in mind that self-branding and how you choose to present yourself and your content will determine if you will capture loyal readers, which in turn can lead to into increased ad revenues.

This is a guest post by Mark Hayward who blogs over at MyTropicalEscape and Culebra Blog. He and his wife recently purchased the Palmetto Guesthouse on the island of Culebra located in the Caribbean. Mark’s fulltime job ends next week so he is looking to blog or work online fulltime. If you would like to discuss business opportunities, or hire him to write for you he can be contacted directly at mark_w_hayward[at]

The Power of Commenting on Blogs

I just came across a nice post by Caroline Middlebrook who did some analysis of her blog’s stats for the month of October.

Her blog increased it’s traffic from 3,000 readers in September to 11,000 in October – that’s pretty good growth. That’s partly due to some great StumbleUpon traffic (which accounted for 8000+ visitors) – but Caroline also worked a number of other sources over the month.

What struck me about her analysis was a section on traffic from other blogs (including ProBlogger). ProBlogger sent Caroline 94 visitors. When I checked to see when I linked to her I wasn’t able to find a link. The traffic came completely from comments that Caroline left on my posts.

In fact Caroline had just under 700 visitors to her blog this month from leaving comments on other people’s blogs.

The key to her success with this is that Caroline doesn’t spam blogs with meaningless comments – but she contributes to the conversations already happening, stays on topic and adds value to the blogs that she visits (or at least she has here at ProBlogger. Caroline doesn’t leave links in her comments – the traffic comes from people clicking her name to find out who is behind the insightful comments that she leaves.

Of course some will argue that 700 visitors isn’t a lot of traffic per month from the activity of commenting on blogs – however I think it’s actually fairly decent for a blog that is only a few months old – particularly when you consider that she’s managing to convert readers into subscribers. Add 4 or 5 new loyal readers to your blog every day (like Caroline has done by the looks of her RSS feed stats) and you end up with thousands of readers a day over a year.

So while it is perhaps the most overused ‘blog tip’ on finding readers for a blog – I guess commenting on other people’s blogs continues to be an activity that pays off.

found via my Vanity Folder

BlogRush Launches Phase 2 – My First Impressions

Logo-2-1BlogRush has announced it’s Phase 2 launch today and I’ve just taken a look over it.

What you’ll notice when you first log in is a new dashboard (instead of an ‘under construction’ note). The interface is all very nice with new graphs etc. The information in the graphs is all interesting (although not a lot different from what they previously gave).

What is interesting about the new Phase 2 Dashboard is the section that shows how BlogRush is performing on a post by post basis. In this section they show you how many times each post has been served to the widget and how many times they were clicked. Also each post has been given a ‘Buzz’ rating.

This of course is useful in seeing what kinds of posts work best and what doesn’t work.

In the video announcing the Phase 2 launch John mentions that these ‘buzz ratings’ from all of the blogs in the network will be aggregated to provide a new service to show what’s hot across the full network. This new site will be called TrafficJam will be an interesting development to watch – it sounds like an alternative to a Digg like site and if they can get a good user base it could be quite a good traffic generator and reason to keep using BlogRush.

My First Impressions of Phase 2

  • My initial impression is that the reports and dashboard are all very nice
  • The post aggregation information is useful – particularly for those wanting to see what kinds of headlines work. Using the ‘reports’ area shows you which posts worked over a period and which didn’t. I’ve learned a lot in the last 15 minutes from this report – it’s a great way of getting a handle on what kinds of titles people are drawn to click on!
  • Performance is still very very low for me when it comes to CTR. Over the 6 weeks since I started with BlogRush I’ve earned over 8 million credits. I have 6.5 million credits still owed to me so links must have been served up on blogs around 1.5 million times. From that I’ve had around 890 people visit my site. I know that BlogRush has had people trying to scam the system, that some of my blog titles probably could be better and that they’re still improving the system – but 900 clicks from 1.5 million impressions is fairly insignificant I’m afraid.
  • Current Credit Balance seems completely blown out for me. I currently have 6.5 million credits that are unused. I know John says that this number goes up and down – but mine just keeps rising.
  • John mentions there are new categories being added – good move – this should help with CTR
  • The new ‘flavors’ editing is good – it means you can change the color scheme of your widget quickly without having to change code on your blog. There are also new sized widgets (although you’ll need to change the code on your blog to change sizes).
  • Filters is a good move. You can now block posts that you don’t want to appear in the widget (using keywords), block posts from other people’s blogs or block other blogs completely.
  • The glaring missing stat to me is the actual numbers of visitors that you’ve had from BlogRush come to your blog. Seeing how much traffic you’ve earned is great – but unless you see figures of total traffic received it makes it hard to analyze how well it’s going. You do see it on a post by post basis – but not in total unless you’re willing to go in the ‘reports’ area and manually add them all up (like I just did… phew).

I’ve only spent 15 minutes looking over the new BlogRush – there is some good feature additions, nice new reports – and promises of new and interesting developments to come.

However, this system has been promoted as a traffic generation system and unless it is able to significantly improve the traffic that it sends those participating then it isn’t going to be used for much longer by many publishers I’m afraid. I’ve tried to be as optimistic as possible with this one as I think the idea has merit – however now that I’ve seen the results that were blocked to us for the last couple of weeks I’m feeling quite underwhelmed.

Building Your Blog With StumbleUpon

Skellie AvatarThis guest-post on Building Your Blog With StumbleUpon is by Skellie. She gives away big and little ideas like these to bloggers, webmasters and web workers at her blog,

If you think this is another post about voting up your own articles on StumbleUpon, you’re mistaken.

Every blogger should have a StumbleUpon account. Regardless of which social media service you prefer, StumbleUpon is by far the easiest and least time-consuming to use.

How StumbleUpon works

When you come across something you like online you can vote for it with a button on your toolbar. The page is then shared with others who have similar interests.

When you’re bored, or looking for inspiration, click ‘Stumble!’ and great pages others have liked will be shared with you.

It’s really that simple.

As with most things that seem simple, however, there’s much more to it beneath the surface.

This post doesn’t intend to be comprehensive overview of StumbleUpon. What it does intend to do is show you how you can build your blog and your blogger profile by participating in the StumbleUpon community — while having plenty of fun at the same time!

Getting started with StumbleUpon

If you already have an account, great. If not, sign up here. Don’t put it off — the process is worth it.

One tip: make sure your username and profile picture are branded in line with your blog. Use your blogging name for your profile, and a photo or logo your readers will be familiar with.

Once you have your account and StumbleUpon homepage, make sure you customize your interests to suit your tastes. You can ‘manage your interests’ via the sidebar. This is important, as it will effect what kinds of pages you get when you Stumble. It will also change the kinds of people who take an interest in your votes.

There are plenty of other things you can customize, but we’ll stick with the basics for now. Let’s get started building your blog and your blogger profile with your new account.

1. Connect with other bloggers

To start connecting with other bloggers through StumbleUpon, all you need to do is vote up their content (when it’s good). The more traffic you send them, the more likely they are to go and investigate the source, or even add you as a friend. StumbleUpon can be a great networking tool.

On top of that, supporting blogs you like is just good karma. What more could you ask for?

2. Drive traffic back to your blog with great stumbles

When you vote up a site that hasn’t been voted up before, you ‘Discover’ it. This means that you write its first review and your profile information appears in the sidebar of the reviews page for that item.

Great content can drive a lot of (influential) stumblers to the page profiling you, as they rush to vote and review it. Some of them will be drawn into visiting your profile, simply because you have such great taste. But how can we encourage these visitors to check out our blog?

3. Highlight your blog in your StumbleUpon profile

This is easy. Enter your blog URL as your website address, and this will be displayed above your image on the main page of your profile. You can also write a bit about yourself and add a link to your blog in your About blurb.

4. Connect with your readers

When you start to see traffic coming from StumbleUpon, take the time to visit the reviews page for the blog post readers have voted up.

The stumblers on this page have been enthusiastic enough about your content to want to Stumble it. If they’re not already loyal readers, this makes them great candidates for becoming one.

Take the time to thank them for their Stumble, and add them as a friend. Little acts of generosity like these leave an impression and may encourage the Stumbler to see what other types of great content you’re capable of.

5. Make friends for a more powerful profile

The StumbleUpon algorithm is a mysterious thing, but evidence seems to suggest that the most active and popular stumblers are rewarded with the ability to control large traffic-flows. The ‘active’ part is up to you — how much time are you willing to put in? The ‘popular’ part of the equation, however, depends on how many fans you have. Fans are those stumblers who’ve added you as a friend in order to see the pages you stumble.

How do you get fans? Great, properly labeled stumbles will do it. Another successful strategy is to add those who vote up your content. If they took the time to explore your blog they might recognize you as the author of the content they liked and add you in return. The friendship will enhance both of your profiles and you’ll be connecting with another potential reader.

6. To submit or not to submit?

Some bloggers believe that repeatedly stumbling the same domain will see the benefits of your stumbles at that domain peter down to nothing. Others believe it’s absolutely necessary to submit your own articles to ensure they’re placed in the category best-suited to them. I’d be interested to hear which approach you think is best in the comments section of this post.

7. Send great content to your friends

StumbleUpon users have the ability to send pages to specific friends, or all of them. If you’ve written something you’re really confident is worthy of a stumble then you might consider sending it out to your friendship network. They’re much more likely to vote up your content than the strangers who routinely find themselves at your blog.

Moderation is key when using this tool. If you overuse it there is a chance your friends will tire of you. An alternative to a wide-ranging send-out might be to send an article to one or two friends you know will be particularly interested in the content.

8. Create a profile people will visit for its own sake

Treat your profile like another blog. If you make it a place people will want to visit for its own sake, the chance of visitors engaging with it and following the link back to your blog increases.

Take the time to play with the colors, add images to your reviews, and explore the functions on offer to create your ‘blog’ (StumbleUpon actually refers to it as such). Fill your profile with votes and reviews for great content your friends will want to visit, and tell others about. A great profile will naturally attract interested and admiring visitors, and raise your profile in the StumbleUpon community.

9. Use it for inspiration

When StumbleUpon is at its best, it serves up a long line of great content suited to your tastes. A stumbling session can be a great source of inspiration when your well of ideas runs dry.

A tip: don’t stumble only within the topic you blog about. Sometimes the best (and most original) post ideas are found by trying to relate radically different content to your niche.

10. Have fun!

I hope this post has convincingly argued that the secret to building your blog with StumbleUpon is to participate actively, genuinely and enthusiastically in the community there. The rewards are sure to filter back to you and your blog.

What are your BlogRush Statistics Like?

Logo-2It seems that BlogRush (the traffic generating tool released earlier in the week which I gave a first impression review of here) has updated the member dashboard to give publishers statistics on how things are performing.

I’d be interested to collect some data from readers on how it is going for everyone.

My own results have some good and bad things about them.

On the positive side I’ve referred quite a few bloggers to the program which has resulted in hundreds of thousands of credits. I’ve earned a lot more credits so far than they seem to have been able to serve.

On the negative side – while my headlines have been shown around 70,000 times I’ve only had 35 clicks on them. That is an extremely low Click Through Rate of 0.05%! I didn’t expect it to be high but thought it might have got somewhere in the 1% range (which would have brought in 700 clicks from the 70,000 – but this is pretty disappointing.

I know it is still very early days and they’ll find ways to improve things but it’s not a great start in terms of driving actual traffic so far.

Now that could have something to do with my headlines (although I try to write engaging ones) – however I suspect it also has something to do with the positioning that a lot of bloggers are using for the widget. I’ve seen a lot of widgets low on pages where I suspect they’ll rarely be seen by readers – let alone clicked.

It’s easy to look at these results and give up on BlogRush – I personally think it’s too early to jump ship or write it off completely. This is just a few days into launch and the only way is up in terms of performance. I suspect that the BlogRush developers will test and tweak their design and add new categories to make links in the widget more relevant to content on blogs.

I’m going to try to improve the CTR by trying a few of the techniques in my Tips for Using BlogRush post – particularly experimenting with different categories.

PS: I’m looking forward to seeing more detailed reports (still under construction) as I can’t wait to see how my different blogs have performed as compared to one another. Having this information will help bloggers improve their own CTR as they test different categories and watch to see how they convert differently.