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Blogs: Frequently Asked Questions

What are blogs anyway?

A blog is a regularly updated website consisting of regular article postings. Links to and from other blogs and traditional websites are a prominent feature of most blogs. A blog tends to be focussed on a single topic or issue, and usually invites comments from readers on the posted articles, starting a conversation between writer (called a blogger) and the readers. A blog usually reflects the personality of the writer, and is most often written in a personal and informal style.

Isn’t a blog just an online diary?

An online diary, or personal blog is only one type of blog. Along with personal blogs, there are many types of business, technology, and professional blogs. The personal blog was once the predominate form of blog, but that is definitely no longer the case.

Are there different types of blogs?

Blogs can be in the form of written blogs, hosted on a blog server or on the webmaster’s own site. Blogs can also be found that use audio postings rather than written posts. There are blogs for every type of business, profession, and technological concept. Writers, lawyers, accountants, real estate agents, search engine optimization experts, marketers, and public relations professionals are just a few of the professions making use of blogs in their businesses.

What value does a blog have for a business?

A blog opens up the lines of communication between the blog writer and the reader. By becoming accessible to the public, a business can be seen as more than simply a faceless company, but a group of real people. The blog provides a powerful element of personal contact with the reader, building trust and confidence in the business and its personnel.

What type of businesses could benefit from a blog?

Any type of business that requires communication with potential readers in the general public can benefit from maintaining a blog. The public can be current and potential customers and clients, the news media, other business or professionals in the industry, or simply casual readers interested in the topic.

What business uses does a blog have?

A blog is ideal for opening the lines of communication between the business and the current and future customers. Communications builds trust that goes far in the areas of marketing and public relations. The blog puts a human face on the company and builds the level of trust. People are far more likely to purchase products and services from other people who they know and trust. A blog is also a very powerful tool for improving search engine rankings because of the keyword rich fresh content and the abundant incoming links.

Are blogs a useful networking tool?

Because of the intensive personalization involved with writing blog posts, the blog is a natural networking vehicle. Readers interact with the writer through the blog comments and by e-mail. The contacts often lead eventually to many shared business opportunities. Successful business arrangements formed between two blog owners, and between a blogger and a reader, occur very frequently.

How could I start a blog?
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How To Lose Blog Readers

Chris Garrett posts a worthwhile post titled 10 Ways To Lose RSS Subscribers, each of which I’d say apply to losing any type of blog reader at all. Here’s his first one:

Hardly post and when you do it is to apologise for not posting – I don’t mind an irregular posting frequency providing when you do post it is something worthwhile and valuable. We all know people have other priorities in their lives, and an apology is obviously well meant, but please include the apology as a PS. on the end of a worthwhile post. And do not post three apologies in a row.’

Read the other 9 points

I’d sum it all up by simply saying that the way to gain readers is to ‘develop a useful blog’. I think if you give your readers something that they want or need and they’ll put up with almost any mistake you might make (massive generalization I know – but it’s what it comes down to to me).

AdWords Starter Edition

If you’ve been wondering whether you should try advertising with AdWords to promote your blog but have been a little overwhelmed by it’s complexity as a first time user you might find the new AdWords Starter Edition a useful way to start out.

In essence it’s, as it’s name suggests, a simplified AdWords designed specifically for those just starting out.

It allows you to create a single ad compaign from a one page sign up form. It only allows Basic targetting (ie you can’t target specific sites) but it seems a reasonably simple way to get in and learn some of the basics. You can compare the features of AdWords Starter Edition with the normal one here. Also read their FAQ page to learn how to sign up.

The good thing about AdWords is that you can set a budget and start off with a pretty inexpensive campaign to test it as you go.

19 (More) Strategies for Finding Readers


Yaro has already kicked us off on this topic of how to find readers for a new blog but I thought I’d pull together a few ideas on the topic also (with a little overlap with Yaro’s ideas). These points come from a variety of older posts I’ve written on the topic – sort of a ‘best of’ kind of thing. I’ve updated some, others are straight extracts from things I’d said before and a few are new:

1. It takes time – It may not be what you want to hear, but it unless you’re a genius, extremely lucky or have an amazing new idea, it takes time to build a readership. So settle in for the long haul and muscle up some patience.

2. Content Content Content – I’ve said this over and over again so will keep it brief but unless you have ‘good’ content you’re unlike to build a readership. What is good content – start by thinking about it in terms of usefulness and uniqueness and I think you’ll be on the right track. Other words that come to mind when it comes to good content might be ‘fresh’, ‘variety’, ‘up to date’ and ‘well written’.

3. Link to others – Perhaps one of the central features of blogging is that they are linked. The intricate web of links and relationships was one of the first things that attracted me to blogging and it’s part of the reason it’s got real viral properties that allow ideas to spread so quickly. Participate in the linking to other blogs and you’ll find that many benefits come. For a start you’ll be participating in the conversation, you’ll be getting the attention of others and your readers will appreciate that you’re interested in helping them find the best content out there.

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10 Techniques for Finding Blog Readers

This post has been submitted by Yaro Starak from two of my daily reads – Entrepreneur’s Journey and Small Business Branding. He’s also working on a new site at Blog Traffic King. I’ve asked Yaro to write an introduction to finding readers for a blog – something which I’ll write more on also in the days ahead.

In every bloggers life comes a special day – the day they first launch a new blog. Now unless you went out and purchased someone else’s blog chances are your blog launched with only one very loyal reader – you. Maybe a few days later you received a few hits when you told your sister, father, girlfriend and best mate about your new blog but that’s about as far you went when it comes to finding readers.

Here are the top 10 techniques new bloggers can use to find readers. These are tips specifically for new bloggers, those people who have next-to-no audience at the moment and want to get the ball rolling.

It helps if you work on this list from top to bottom as each technique builds on the previous step to help you create momentum. Eventually once you establish enough momentum you gain what is called “traction”, which is a large enough audience base (about 500 readers a day is good) that you no longer have to work too hard on finding new readers. Instead your current loyal readers do the work for you through word of mouth.

Top 10 Tips

10. Write at least five major “pillar” articles. A pillar article is usually a tutorial style article aimed to teach your audience something. Generally they are longer than 500 words and have lots of very practical tips or advice. This article you are currently reading could be considered a pillar article since it is very practical and a good “how-to” lesson. This style of article has long term appeal, stays current (it isn’t news or time dependent) and offers real value and insight. The more pillars you have on your blog the better.
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Why Nobody Reads your Blog

Hugh has put together another top ten list – this time it’s 10 reasons why nobody reads your blog. Take it with the humorous tone it was written in but see the truth in some of the points. I particularly agree with these points (Hugh’s points in bold with my own comments afterwards):

2. There’s nothing in it for them – it’s about value. Give people something that they find valuable and you’ll find people coming back for more and recommending others check it out. Of course ‘value’ means different things for different people and can stretch from information, entertainment, inspiration, news, community etc

5. You have nothing to say – this is related to #2 really but takes it a little further. Many blogs fall into this trap with content that is dry and uninspired.

8. The very fact that you’re whining about traffic makes people not want to read your blog – this is a trap many bloggers fall into. I’d extend it to ‘whining’ on many topics. While the cynical, moaning, snide approach to blogging works for some people, in general I think people are attracted to blogs that are positive and offer something that enhances people’s lives in some way. As my wife says to me when I get into a whining state of mind – ‘build a bridge and get over it’.

9. You’ve only been writing the damn thing for a week – so true. With all the talk of massive blogs around it’s easy to expect too much too quickly. While traffic is important I recommend bloggers in the early days check their stats less and write more quality content. While you can do things to maximize your blog’s exposure the number one thing you can do is have a useful, relevant and up to date blog that over time develops authority on a topic. This doesn’t happen over night.

Perhaps in the vain of #9 would be the addition of ‘you only post once a month’. Regular posting and fresh content is key.

Found via Life 2.0 (who has a good post on the topic).

How to Get Traffic to Your Blog – Interview with Yvonne Divita

There’s a useful recording over at Andy’s blog if you’re wanting to build traffic on your blog. It’s an interview with Yvonne Divita from Lipsticking blog on the topic of How to Get Traffic to Your Blog. It’s pretty basic information but it’s good and it’s free. I’m listening to it now and found Yvonne’s thoughts on editorial calendars useful. I probably wouldn’t use it here at ProBlogger as strictly as she does – but it would be a useful way to start out and keep variety on a blog.

Four easy steps to add your own Del.icio.us link in Typepad

This post was submitted by Vic Correro from Writesville.com.

I have to give credit where credit is due. I first saw Darren’s use of the ‘Add this post to del.icio.us link a while back and decided that I would like to do the same to Writesville.com. I think this is an excellent idea, as del.icio.us is a wonderful resource. Also, Nick Wilson over at Performancing.com gave the additional push I needed to include this feature through his post and free PDF about del.icio.us.

For those of you who are familiar with Typepad, or are using it, the following information will require a tad bit of knowledge with Typepad’s advanced template structure. If you want more information on this, see: Advanced Template Sets and Template Tags. Understanding of HTML will also be helpful here.

Now, before I continue. I do want to mention that this is the way that I accomplished the task. As the saying goes: ‘There’s more than one way to skin a cat’.

So, let’s get back to the topic. If you want to create your own del.icio.us link embedded somewhere in your post, you will need to do the following:
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7 Ways to Get to the Top of the del.icio.us Popular Page

I’ve been watching the del.icio.us Popular Page quite closely lately. I’m fascinated by the list for many reasons – for one it’s a great source of content ideas and links, secondly it helps keep a finger on the pulse of what people are into at any given time and thirdly it’s a highly trafficked page that has the potential to send out large quantities of traffic very quickly and is increasingly being targeted (along with other social bookmarking pages) by bloggers who are doing quite well from the traffic it sends them (in fact I know of three bloggers who credit del.icio.us and digg.com as kick starting (and feeding in an ongoing way) their blogging careers. I know last time I hit the top of the list I had an extra 8000 visitors that day directly from it and the links from others who saw it there.

While I haven’t done an in depth study into del.icio.us – it is interesting to note the type of links that consistently get to the top of the del.icio.us popular page. Here are seven of the characteristics that are often present in these popular links (often more than one of the following apply in each instance) which could improve the chances of getting into the mix as a popular link:

  1. Make a List – Just by scanning the current popular links titles it is evident that lists dominate the… list (they make up over 40% of the current links). One of the first times I made it to the top of del.icio.us was with a list (fittingly it was a list of why lists are good for getting traffic). Of course some people are ‘anti-list’ – they argue that breaking things down into lists ‘dummifies’ the content. While I’ve seen plenty of lists where this is the case – I would also argue that lists that are well crafted can be just as meaty as other forms of writing.
  2. Number your List - It’s not just any old list that gets popular but quite often lists that have a number in the title. I’m not quite sure what it is about numbers that capture the attention of del.icio.us users – but they do. I can’t remember the last time when there wasn’t a title in the popular list like ’10 rules for…’, ’5 ways to…’ , ’6 trends that…’, ’50 tips on….’. There is obviously something about quantifying a list that readers respond to. How many points is ideal? The jury is still out on this one. As I look at the current popular page I see a list of 50, numerous lists of 10 and a list of 3.
  3. Write a ‘How to…’ - Another type of link that is often popular is the ‘how to’ post. Walk your readers through a process that teaches them how to achieve a goal they might have and they’re more likely to want to bookmark it. Again as I scan the current list I see a number of titles that indicate that the links will teach or guide readers through a particular issue. Often the titles use the actual words ‘how to…’ in them. Others use ‘Guide to’, ‘Tips to…’ or ‘Tutorials’ etc. On the flip side of the ‘how to’ I also regularly see ‘how not to’ type articles or articles that talk about ‘common mistakes’ that people make.
  4. Make Big Promises and Claims – It’s interesting that the del.icio.us popular page relies totally upon the title of the link to get people to click on it (ie there are no descriptions to draw readers to visit – just the title). As a result the way titles are constructed has a lot to do with converting the link into visitors. One strategy that some successful del.icio.us links use is to make a big promise or grand statement. A recent post on ProBlogger that did this that got into the popular list was Three simple actions that doubled my website traffic in 30 days. While it’s not a promise – it’s a title that certainly got some attention (well worded Adrian). Of course a good title isn’t enough, unless you have something worth reading you’ll not get the necessary bookmarks to create the social bookmarking wave to surf to the top.
  5. Get Technological – The vast majority of links in the popular list as I write this post have some sort of technological bent. It features links about SOAP, Powerpoint, video games, AJAX, CSS, Blogging, Top Websites, Linux, Microsoft, Cell Phones etc. Obviously del.icio.us users are tech savy folk – so to get their attention you’ll want to tickle their tech bone.
  6. Inspire – I notice here at ProBlogger that sometimes my most helpful ‘how to’/techie posts are not the only ones to get attention from readers – in fact probably the most linked to and bookmarked posts at ProBlogger fit more into the inspirational/motivational category rather than an educational one. People like to be inspired and touched on an emotional level.
  7. Use Humor – Of course it’s not only techie or inspirational posts that get to the top of the del.icio.us heap. Sometimes it’s links that go for the funny bone that are also popular. Ten Simple Rules for Dating My Daughters was a link that caught my eye a few days back for this reason – it got close to the top of the popular page. Of course if you can use humor in the form of a numbered list on a techie, inspirational topic and make a big claim at the same time you’re set!

I’m sure there are plenty of other characteristics of del.icio.us links that make it to the popular page – interested to hear what others think.