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20 Tips on Writing Building a Great Blog [Watch the Blab Replay]

Live streaming technologies seem to be everywhere at the moment with the release of tools like Meerkat, Periscope and Facebook Live.

While other tools – like Google Hangouts and older tools like Ustream have been around for years it seems that these new tools are getting easier to use and have better and better features. More importantly they’re working better and better on mobile.

One of the new tools that I’ve started using in the last week is Blab – a tool that enables you and three other people to live stream at the same time on the same page and to have an interactive conversation while potentially hundreds or even thousands of others watch on and interact with you in streaming comments. It’s like the lovechild of Google Hangouts and Periscope.

Blab is still in beta but I’m almost overwhelmed with the possibilities of this tool for bloggers and have run a few blabs of my own to test it.

The biggest of these was this morning in a blab where I presented 20 tips for building great blogs.

The blab only finished a few minutes ago but Blab have already emailed me an audio and video file of the session and sent me the embed code which I’ll paste here.

At present the embed code doesn’t show you any of the comments from the chat but you can head to this page to see the replay, the last 200 comments and to see how the tool looks (there were many hundreds if not thousands of others).

While you’re there if you sign up for an account (it uses Twitter to set up your account) please do follow me here and you’ll be notified of future blabs that I do (I’ve got more planned as it’s been so good so far). You’ll also see my previous blab replays listed on my profile page if you want to check those out.

8 Data KPIs Every Blogger Should be Using to Grow Their Blog

8 Data KPIsThis is a guest contribution from Justin Butlion.

When it comes to growing a blog, there are a hundred different directions one could take. Some decide that the design of their site is outdated while others remove or add share buttons in the hope of increasing engagement.

In this day and age there are many free tools that provide insights with data that eliminates the need to guess. In this post, I cover eight different key performance indicators that every blogger should be tracking, and how each of these metrics can be used to grow a blog over time.

1. Bounce Rate

Definition: Bounce rate is the percentage of your visitors that view a single page during their visit.

Can be found In: Google Analytics

Bounce rate is one of the best metrics available to determine if there are any major issues with your site from a design or compatibility perspective. The first thing you should look at is your site-wide bounce rate. If this figure is very high (above 85%) it could indicate that your site has major design problems which are putting off the vast majority of your visitors.

If your site-wide bounce rate falls within the standard 65%-80% then you should compare your mobile vs non-mobile traffic. If there is a big difference between the bounce rate of the mobile version of your site compared to the non-mobile version, then your site is not fully compatible for mobile or tablet viewing, and you should address this issue ASAP.

If you don’t have any of the two issues I mentioned above, but still suffer from a high bounce rate, then break it down by traffic source. You might find that there are certain traffic sources which are bringing you junk traffic which is bouncing at a very high rate.

If you are happy with your bounce rate but still think there is room for improvement, then work harder on driving more relevant visitors to your blog via activities on social media, certain niche forums, and by getting backlinks from other sites in your space.

2. Exit rate

Definition: Exit rate is the ratio of page views of a specific page and the number of exits from your blog from that specific page.

Can be found in: Google Analytics

Exit rate can be very confusing, but in a nutshell it represents the likelihood of someone leaving your site from a specific page. The exit rate, similar to the bounce rate, can be used to help identify specific pages where visitors are leaving your site en masse.

If a page has a very high exit rate, it could indicate that visitors deem the page irrelevant or not what they were expecting. If you have certain flows in your blog then you can analyze the exit rates of the different pages in the funnel to determine which pages need your attention.

I wouldn’t obsess over exit rates because these will drop when other areas of your blog like better navigation, improved distribution of traffic and better formatting are implemented. The only thing I would look out for is if there are obvious issues like a high exit rate (above 80%) on pages which should lead to deeper dives into your blog like say your category pages.

3.Traffic distribution

Definition: The breakdown of your blog’s traffic by channel

Can be found in: Google Analytics

sources report google analytics

Capture: The Source/Medium report from Google Analytics shows the performance of traffic by different sources.

Understanding the distribution of your traffic is key to understanding the health of your blog. You can find a detailed breakdown of your traffic distribution in the “acquisition” reports in Google Analytics. I personally prefer to look at the “Source/Medium” report to see the breakdown of my blog’s traffic and I recommend you use the same report.

There is no perfect distribution of someone’s blog traffic because every blog is different and some niches can expect traffic from multiple channels while others might have to rely solely on two or three channels.

The major traffic channels are:

  • Organic search traffic – Traffic from search queries run on search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.
  • Direct traffic – Includes all traffic which isn’t in any one of the other four channels. Includes traffic that comes directly to the site by typing it in the address bar, traffic from bookmarks and traffic from emails which don’t have UTMs tags in their links.
  • Referral traffic – Traffic that came via a link on another website.
  • Paid traffic – Traffic which came to your site from paid channels like Adwords.
  • Campaign traffic – Traffic which is tagged with UTM tags will appear in this category. Paid traffic is also technically campaign traffic.

The kind of distribution I’ve seen on a few different blogs is around 30-50% organic search, 10-20% referral, 20-30% direct and 1-10% campaign traffic.

If your blog’s traffic distribution swings heavily towards one channel, like say 80% of your traffic comes from search, then this could indicate that you are not distributing your content well enough and other sites in your niche are not referencing your content.

You should try and balance your traffic distribution to lower risk and maximize your growth potential, just like you would a financial portfolio.

4. Organic traffic percentage and growth

Definition: The percentage of your overall traffic that comes from organic search and the change in the absolute number of visitors from this channel.

Can be found in: Google Analytics:

If you are already looking at your traffic distribution then you will already know the percentage of your overall traffic which comes from organic traffic. The reason I specifically focus on this channel is because I believe it is the one metric early stage bloggers should try and improve aggressively.

Search remains a major channel for bloggers and needs to be a big part of any blog’s growth strategy. Understanding first the overall percentage of traffic from search, and then how this number is changing from month to month will help indicate if you are doing a good job in ranking for more and more keywords and improving the overall SEO strength of your site.

I highly recommend using a tool like Moz for tracking your rankings for specific, relevant keywords. By focusing on climbing up the SEO ladder for relevant keywords in your niche, you will drive more search traffic to your site. The best thing about this traffic is that it is highly relevant so it will convert very well, resulting in more revenue for your business.

5. Shareability of posts

Definition: Average number of total shares that your posts generate.

Can be found in: Social metrics WordPress Plugin or Feedio

The shareability of your posts is an important indicator for your blog. The number of shares your posts get help indicate the relevancy of your traffic, the quality of your writing and the readability of your posts.

The best way to track this metric is to use a tool like Social Metrics WordPress plugin or Feedio which shows the total share and mention counts from Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn for all your recent posts.

You can use this data to determine your average share count and use that benchmark to measure the performance of individual posts.

Your aim should be to increase this average over time by improving your content, the quality of the traffic you are driving to your site, the formatting of your posts and use of media like video and images.

social shares

Caption: Feedio is one of many tools which show you the total number of likes, shares and mentions your posts are getting from different social media networks.

6. Pages viewed per visit

Definition: The average number of pages viewed by an individual visitor per session

Can be found in: Google Analytics

The number of pages viewed per visitor is a classic Google Analytics metric which helps indicate how easy it is to navigate within your site and the overall quality of your writing.

If you know that the right traffic is hitting your site but your average pages viewed per visit is very low then it could indicate that your site is very difficult to navigate and visitors simply can’t work out how to navigate to different pages.

You can use Google Analytics Behavior Flow Report (see screenshot below) to determine how visitors are moving through your site. You can also use the exit rate per page, bounce rate and landing page data to determine where visitors are hitting your site and where they are leaving.

behavior flow

7. Time on site

Definition: The average amount of time an individual spends on your site per session

Can be found in: Google Analytics

Like pages viewed per visit, the time on site metric helps indicate the overall appeal of your site to your visitors. If your bounce rate and pages viewed per visit are very low, then your time on site will also be low. In order to improve this metric you should concentrate on improving the other site performance related metrics like pages viewed per visit, bounce rate and shareability of posts. If you can improve each of these metrics then time on site will improve

Because the time on site metric is directly related to many other metrics, there is no reason to monitor it on a consistent basis. Look at it once every few months to see if it is moving in the right direction.

If you’re putting a lot of effort into improving metrics like your bounce rate, pages per visit etc and none of these metrics are improving then make sure you’re driving the right traffic to your site.

8. Call-to-action conversion rate

Definition: The percentage of your visitors which take a specific action on your site

Can be found in: Depends on the CTA (more details below)

Every blog should have at least one action that you want your visitors to take. This might be signing up to your email list or clicking through to Amazon to hopefully buy your latest book. Whatever that action is you should track the conversion rate in order to determine a benchmark and try and improve it over time.

Tracking CTA conversion rates can be tricky but thankfully there are good methods and tools available to help with this process.

There are a number of different CTAs that you can have on your site which can be at different stages of a funnel. Each step of the funnel should be tracked in order to determine where in the funnel people are falling out. Below is a list of different CTAs and how to determine the percentage of visitors which end up completing the action at the end of the funnel.

Email form to collect emails for a newsletter or RSS-to-email:

The funnel: Lands on the blog > enters email in sidebar, or lands on the blog > navigates to a different page > enters email in sidebar

To determine this conversion rate you would look at unique visitors to your blog and unique emails submitted to your email capture service (Mailchimp for example).

Purchases of a product which is hosted outside of your website

The funnel: Lands on the blog > clicks on banner, or link > purchases product

To determine this conversion rate you would look at unique visitors to your blog, clicks on the banner or link and purchases of the product.

To determine unique visitors to your blog, you would look in Google Analytics; for clicks on the banner or link, you would use a tool like Bitly, and for purchases of the product you would look in the platform which is hosting the product like in your Amazon account.

Downloads piece of gated content on your blog

The funnel: Lands on the blog > clicks on banner or link > fills out form and downloads content

To determine this conversion rate you would simply set up a goal in Google Analytics. This will allow you to dive into your traffic data at a higher resolution and determine interested things which are much tougher to determine in the previously listed funnels. For details on setting up a funnel-based goal in Google Analytics check out this guide.

If you consider yourself technical and you have a budget then I recommend investing in a tool like Mixpanel or Kissmetrics which will allow you to track every event on your site. These tools provide advanced reporting tools to help you run complex analyses of your funnels and traffic performance.

km-funnel-report

Caption: Example of a funnel report in Kissmetrics

Conclusion

Thanks to Google Analytics and similar web analytics tools bloggers have access to in-depth, useful analytics on multiple aspects of their blogs. Growth has moved from being something your address with your gut and passed experience to one of a science with methodologies and proven approaches.

If you consider yourself a serious blogger that really wants to grow their blog into a thriving business, then you will have to learn and master your site’s data so you can make informed decisions.

I hope this post has helped shed some light on where and how to start this process. If you have any questions, feedback on the post or tips you think should be added to the post then please comment below.

Justin Butlion is the co-founder of Feedio, a marketing platform for bloggers that focuses on RSS-to-email, social media engagement and blogging analytics. Justin loves to write and talk about online marketing and entrepreneurship and is a die-hard English Football fan.

PBEVENT 2015: A Roundup of Tips and Advice Shared at the ProBlogger Training Event Sessions

A roundup of tips shared during the sessions at PBEVENT 2015

credit: Mick Russell

On August 14 and 15, more than 700 bloggers and online creatives descended upon the RACV Royal Pines on Australia’s Gold Coast for two days of learning and networking at the ProBlogger Training Event.

We had wonderful speakers – Pamela Wilson from Big Brand System and Copyblogger, Heather B. Armstrong from Dooce, and Jadah Sellner from Simple Green Smoothies were a few of the international contingent, and there was a strong representation of speakers from all levels of Australian blogging. The topics ranged from how to cultivate your blogging voice, to how to run your blog like a small business, and everything in between.

One of the key themes of the event was to make small changes. In my opening keynote I talked about how small changes were needed in your health and wellness too, as these factors will impact your blogging and online endeavours. I also shared my tips for productivity and encouraged attendees to think about their “why” – what was the purpose of their blog that drove them? Only when you know and work in accordance with that will you be successful.

This post focuses on some of the main ideas and recommended action steps that came out of the training weekend. We’ve linked to further resources where possible.

Look at your life

Problogger-3

Credit: Mick Russell

Self Care:

It’s so important to get the foundations of any business right, and the foundation of everything is you. How are you? No, really? Are you eating right? Getting enough sleep? Exercising? Paying attention to relationships? All of these things and more (including knowing your purpose) impacts on every aspect of your business.

  • Start tracking your movement
  • Take a daily walk in the sunshine

I have provided more tips on living a good life at Feel Gooder.

Productivity

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  • Monitor how much time you are spending responding VS how much are your spending creating. Many people recommended Rescue Time to help them discover where their online time went.
  • Action: write down three tasks you can batch process. I wrote How Batch Processing Made Me 10 Times More Productive in 2008.
  • Know your best hours to work. First thing in the morning? Lunch time? Afternoon? Evening? Read: How To Figure Out Your Most Productive Time Of Day
  • Find an accountability partner. Some attendees are creating groups to help support them
  • You don’t need official mentors. Action step: find someone whose work you love and get to know more about their work and personality
  • Look at your goal list. Can you change it to have bigger goals with smaller supporting goals?

Blogging Basics:

Google Analytics

Community Management:

  • What small actions can you take to love and delight your community?
  • Make a list of ways you can pay it forward
  • Action step: list the simple actions people can take to move people closer to their transformation. What is the gateway problem you can solve? Don’t overwhelm with the value: What is one simple thing your audience can do?

Content Marketing:

Planning content:

  • Identify and create a profile for your dream reader. Use Pinterest and Instagram to help figure out who you want to serve.
  • The best content are posts/resources that are insanely useful. Create a list of posts you can write that will make life easier for your readers. Look at speaker Pamela Wilson’s resources page for a brilliant example of the type of posts to write.
  • Commit to critically assessing your blog posts before you press publish. Is there a payoff for the reader? Am I communicating more than one idea? Am I making it hard for the reader to act?
  • Look at the images you are posting on each platform. Are the images native to that platform? Look at using the recently launched Canva at Work to easily resize them
  • Plan out your next month of content in advance.The article How to Build a Content Calendar can help you with this.
  • Write down 100 ideas for blog posts. Need inspiration? Check out The Ultimate List of Blog Post Ideas
  • Check out your draft posts. Could you use any of these ideas to come up with a list of 100? Thanks to Tonya Grant from our Facebook community for that idea.
  • Invite people from your email list to an informal focus group on the phone. You can incentivize them with free or cheap access to a product, or offer a free coaching question in exchange. Amy Porterfield offers advice about this process in How to Create a Survey to Find Your Target Market

Email Marketing

    • Brainstorm ideas for a challenge. Create a Facebook group to test the idea and build initial momentum. You can check out my original Challenge, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, and the updated podcast version. This started via blog posts but is a great way to learn.
    • Look in your blog community for people who have created challenges as part of the opt-in process. Analyze the content. What are they doing right? What could they do better?
    • Link your social media profiles to your email unsubscribe. They may not want to communicate with you via email but would be interested in content on a different platform. Want more ideas to integrate social media and email? Check out Buffers post 6 Creative Ways to Combine Social Media and Email
    • Tailor the content to user site behaviour or a specific registration/landing page
    • re-engagement campaigns can improve list health. If they don’t connect with your campaign, you can drop the subscribers. You can learn more about email engagement campaigns via this great course at Hubspot.
    • Uncover the needs of those you want to serve in a welcome email ask who are you, your hopes and dreams what’s getting in the way?

Content events:

Pamela Wilson delivered a great presentation on Content Events. These events are designed to build your list and make your audience love you. You can learn more about this concept in Pamelas fabulous post on the subject at Copyblogger.

The following action steps apply to those that are interesting in developing a content event.

  • Give your a content event a name that makes people want to attend. Promise a solution, create curiosity and promise a benefit
  • Create a graphic around your event.
  • Give those that are attending for the first time a separate email to stay in contact.
  • new first time attendees give them a separate email to stay in contact
  • Create a thank you page for those signed up to attend your event. It really builds goodwill and makes people feel special
  • Create a special offer for an older product after your content event. This can increase sales.
  • Find ways to continue the conversation after the event. Send resources like a checklist, transcript, replay or resource list.

Need an example of content events? Check out out Pamelas example at Big Brand Webinars.

Video:

Problogger-14

Credit: Mick Russell

Video was mentioned during a number of sessions. A lot of the advice was about practical skills that you could immediately apply

  • Look at Vimeo pro. It was recommended for hosting videos that you only want certain people to see. They work on every device and puts controls around who sees the videos
  • Watch Australian story to see how they put together their stories for inspiration for your video.
  • Sign up for Bloggers Video School (if allowed.)

Social Media

Facebook:

  • Experiment with scheduling. Post at different times of the day and see what response you get.
  • Try out Co-Schedule to see if it works for you.
  • Decide on specific times each day when you will interact with your fans on Facebook. You can experiment with different times, but stick to the original time limit.
  • Ask relevant friends to share your Facebook page. This is a good way to create an initial audience on Facebook
  • Asking prescheduled questions on Facebook can reduce the overwhelm. Watch this video from Amy Porterfield to learn how to ask the questions that get your Fans talking.

Instagram

  • Ask yourself: why do I want to be on Instagram? You shouldn’t be on there because you think you should. You need a compelling reason. If you lack a good reason, consider not using the platform.
  • Look at your brands Instagram account. Are you posting a lot of personal images? If so, look at creating a separate account. If you want a great example, look at the Instagram profile for Interiors Addict.
  • Optimize your Instagram bio. Look at How to Write Instagram Bios for Businesses.
  • Create a hashtag strategy for Instagram that makes it easy for people to find your photos. Read How to Identify Relevant Hashtags for Your Business for tips.
  • Hire a friend that is a really good photographer to take photos for you. This is more authentic then stock photos. If you can’t afford this, offer to barter services.
  • Think right now: who are 3 people in similar fields to you who may have a similar dream client? Can you cross promote with them?
  • Use Iconosquare to learn about the key metrics about your Instagram account.
  • If you are a lifestyle brand, look at showing a ‘day in the life’ of the lifestyle product. Example: one day of a cleanse
  • Create keyboard shortcuts so you don’t have to copy and paste all your hashtags from notepad. This video from Dotti Media shows you how to do this.
  • Seek out Feature Instagram Accounts. These are posts that curate photos from the Instagram community according to them. Use the relevant hashtag in your photos to catch the curators attention.You can learn more about them at Instagram 101: What Are “Feature” Accounts?

Pinterest

Ruth Soukup, From Living Well Spending Less, spoke on ways we could improve our Pinterest presence. She dropped a lot of knowledge in a short amount of time.

Monetization

Selling products:

  • Do you have more than two products? Ask yourself: Can I integrate others into the sales process?
  • Ask around in your community for find your design team. You can ask people publicly via social media or ask your peers privately
  • Looking an information product designer? Look at the people who designed products you are in love with
  • Idea: Create a manual for your affiliates. Walk them through the technical process step by step. This will prevent many of the support queries you can get. You can also include ideas on how to increase conversions.

Landing pages:

These action steps are primarily for those who have finished, or need to improve, their current landing page.

  • Once you have finished your sales page, take a break. Walk around reading it out load viewing on your tablet. You will be able to pick up many errors this way.
  • Add a urgent call to action to your landing page, such as a special price or the product only being available for a period of time. Make sure this is genuine though.
  • Test your landing page. Does it load quickly? Work on mobile? Work with images off?

Need more ideas? Check out 101 Landing Page Optimization Tips from Unbounce

Working with brands:

  • Make a list of the brands you like to work with.
  • Look at the list of brands that you like. What are their social media channels?
  • Think about ways you can naturally include them in social media conversations to get on their radar.
  • Research the names of brand managers. They are the people you should be talking to
  • Look at your media kit. Does it need to be updated? If so, do it

If you’re interested in attending the ProBlogger Training Event for 2016, you can register your details here.

ProBlogger Podcast 39: What is Your Why?

Blogging: What is Your Why?

The previous episode of the ProBlogger podcast asked you a very simple question that I think is the basis of all that we do: “how are you?”. How are you physically, emotionally, with your health? Are you blogging from a solid foundation of wellness? Are you taking care of your personal needs?

I shared a very personal story about what happened when I realised I wasn’t doing that any more – and the steps I took to get back on track. Once I re-cemented my foundation of wellness, it had a noticeable impact on my blogs.

Wellness is usually considered to encompass diet, exercise, rest, relationships, spirituality, but also purpose. Having a purpose impacts positively every aspect of your life and health, and it even helps increase productivity – and this is all going to impact your blog.

When my blogs have been firing on all cylinders, it usually correlates with those times in my life when I’m really working from the core of my “why” – my purpose.

Over the years, sometimes your purpose gets a little lost by the wayside. You get distracted from your why. Sometimes the blog runs away on its own and you feel as though in the machine of content creation, internet marketing, fulfilling reader expectations, and you get further and further away from the nucleus of what you wanted to create, why you started blogging in the first place.

In today’s episode, I talk about why you need to drill down and encapsulate your “why”, and how it then impacts your what and your how. How reconnecting with your why can help guide you back to a positive frame of mind about blogging when the inevitable blog slump or burnout happens. How it can raise your productivity and how you can harness it for successful blogging.

I talk about what happened earlier this year when I realised I needed to shut down a profitable part of my business, and how it ultimately set me on the right path, although it isn’t an easy decision to turn off a successful income stream. But it wasn’t furthering me on the path of my why, and I knew that I could be more useful elsewhere (and I discuss what I did instead that has been even more successful than I hoped!).

Click here to listen to episode 39 of the ProBlogger Podcast: What is Your Why?, read the show notes and leave a comment about what you think your why might be.

Further Reading:

10 Ways To Stay Productive as a Work-at-Home Blogger

10 ways to stay productive as a work-at-home blogger - don't tell me you don't need these tips! On ProBlogger.net.This is a guest contribution from Larry Alton.

Working from home sounds like a pretty cushy job. You can wear whatever you like, eat as often as you want, text your friends, run errands, and be at home with your family, all while being employed. However, that list of things can often make it difficult to accomplish your work.

If you’re struggling to find a productive schedule as a freelance blogger, consider these tips.

Find Your Groove

Everyone has a groove that spurs productivity. Maybe you need to sit in your office chair with the lights off, blinds shut, and a fuzzy blanket on your lap. Or maybe you need to have a clear view of the sunshine and wear your lucky socks. Maybe your groove requires waking up and going straight to work without eating or showering. Everyone has a different groove, and if you find yours, you’ll find your most productive hours.

Dress Up

It’s pretty cool that you can go to work in your pajamas and fuzzy slippers, wrapped up in your Snuggie. However, that comfort zone may be your downfall. Wearing clothes that are too comfortable can often lead to a stronger desire to relax rather than work. Dressing up in your business professional clothing can help working at home feel more like working in an office, and you might find your productivity spike.

Manage Projects

Stay organized by managing your projects. Whether you write just one blog or you ghost write for 20, there are several tools you can use to stay organized both on the computer and off.

For example, there are software tools and apps that make invoicing, scheduling, and emailing extremely easy. Or if your projects aren’t very complex, you can use a simple white board to keep track of your daily tasks and mark them off as you go. Either way, stay organized to help you stay on track.

Remove Distractions

Email, cell phones, kids, roommates, pets, food, television—all of these are some of the most tempting distractions for freelance writers, and if you want to find productivity, you’ll get them out of the way. Go somewhere to work where you won’t be distracted by your surroundings, and set aside separate time to check your phone and email so that you’re not doing it during your most productive time.

Set Specific Work Hours

Scheduling your time is extremely important for having a constructive day if you make a schedule that works specifically for you. Choosing your own schedule is one of the better perks of working at home, after all.

When are your most productive hours? When do you work most slowly? Some bloggers have their most productive hours between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. Others have it from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Whatever time works best for you, make sure you build your schedule around that.

Make Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Goals

Both short and long-term goals do wonders for inspiring creativity and helping you stay productive. If you’re a work at home blogger, you’re probably goal oriented and deadline driven. Each day, write out your goals for your desired progress and tack it to your office wall. Similarly, define weekly and monthly goals that you’re constantly striving to achieve.

Log Out of Social Media

Social media is incredibly useful for promoting your writing and networking with others. However, when you’re supposed to be writing, it’s basically the antithesis of productivity. During your scheduled work hours, log out of social media. Better yet, block your favorite networks on your computer until a certain time or ask a trusted friend to change the password for you until you’ve finished your work for the day.

Make Time for Exercise

Sitting at your desk chair all day long not only contributes to lost muscle mass and definition, but it also makes you feel less alert and can contribute to lost productivity. When you stay stationary all day long, it can make you feel sleepier and fog your thoughts. Setting aside time for exercise on a daily basis can boost your efficiency by making you more alert and motivated, all while leading to a healthier lifestyle.

Eat Healthy Meals

Another thing that contributes to fatigue and lack of motivation is sugary, unhealthy food. These make it so that you don’t feel 100 percent, which makes it difficult to work efficiently. Healthy meals and reduced snacking on sugary treats can make you feel more alert and healthy, which enhances your abilities to perform your daily tasks.

Prepare the Day Before

As a work at home blogger, your schedule can fluctuate from day to day, but you can still benefit from preparing for your workload a day in advance. Write out all of the tasks you need to complete the next day and even a tentative schedule for completing them.

Furthermore, prepare yourself and your office space. You might set out your clothes or prepare your lunch. You might also clean up your office and pull out any resources you might need for the next day’s tasks. A cleaner, more prepared office makes it easy to go straight to work without worrying about a mess.

Further Reading: 5 Ways to Make Your Blogging Life Easier.

Productive blogging takes practice and a series of trial and error, but once you figure it out, the freer lifestyle is worthwhile.

How do you stay productive when goofing off is a more appealing option?

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

How One Couple Drastically Changed Their Life by Blogging

How blogging changed one average American couple's life / problogger.net.This is a guest contribution from Gina Horkey.

Two years ago, my husband and I were just like any other American couple.

We were both working in Corporate America, had a one and a half year old and another on the way. Our work schedules and commutes weren’t bad, we just weren’t doing work that we were passionate about.

Someone else was also raising our child. It could have been much worse – our son was maybe in daycare for 30 hours per week. And the provider was great! It just wasn’t what we wanted. Plus, with another on the way, daycare was about to get real expensive!

Since I’m not one to sit back and accept less-than-ideal circumstances, we decided to make some changes. Here’s our story of going from a dual income, Corporate America household, to a single earning one dependent on just my freelancing income. Buckle up!

Finding a Better Solution

Even though I was a financial advisor, we never thought it’d be possible for one of us to quit work and stay at home with our growing family. After a couple failed nanny attempts and the end of my pregnancy looming, we got desperate and finally entertained the idea.

My husband had always expressed interest in becoming a SAHD and my career was more promising at the time, so we set out to see if it was possible for him, the carrier of all benefits to quit.

By significantly cutting our expenses (cutting cable, reducing our dining out, raising our insurance deductibles, stopping our retirement savings, etc) we were just able to make it work!

Thank goodness we had the good sense to pay-off most of our debt the year or two before.

Fast Forward a Year

Our second child was going on a year old and Wade was enjoying staying at home. All should be well then, right?

Wrong. It should have been.

But I couldn’t help to acknowledge the growing discontent I was experiencing with my work. My clients were great and so were my colleagues. I just didn’t really enjoy talking and reading about investing, tax law or compliance all day long.

I tried to throw myself further into my career by enrolling in an accredited program and pitching a plan to buy into the larger practice. I began studying and we began talks to make it happen.

But then I realized it wasn’t what I really wanted. And I actually listened to myself for once.

Starting a Freelance Writing Side Hustle

So, I did what any other “normal” person did and turned to the world wide internet!

I explored my passions, my available options and started freelance writing on the side a little over a year ago. I secured an unpaid contributorship with The Huffington Post, got some samples by guest posting elsewhere and started my own blog.

I would get up every weekday morning at 4:30 and write for an hour or two before my family woke up and I had to get ready for work. I also had a four-day workweek at the time, so I used Fridays to work on my writing business as well.

I even hired a babysitter from time to time on the weekend to give Wade a break and get some time-sensitive client work done. It was fun, I saw the potential and I was committed to taking charge of my own career future.

All of my hard work and perseverance started to pay off. My income grew month-over-month and I figured out I really enjoyed this world of freelance. I had blogged socially for years, but this was the first time I was treating blogging like a business and reaping the financial rewards.

Putting In My Notice

Eventually things came to a head at work. I opened up about my freelance success and that I had changed my mind about what I wanted for my career future.

I was super nervous about it, but the conversation went better than I had expected. I had been an advisor for almost a decade at this point and with this particular practice for six years. We had a great relationship and I considered them almost like family. But it was hard to disappoint a father-figure!

Due to our great mutual respect, we worked out a plan for them to buy my small practice, for us to find my replacement (for the support duties I performed for the office) and that I’d have a long transition schedule to both train in said replacement and continue to build up my freelance career into a viable business that would support my family.

Becoming a Full-time Freelancer

Right around Christmas, 2014 I had my last day of work. I was now officially a full-time freelancer!

It was exhilarating and a bit frightening all at once. But now, six months later, I can happily say that I made the right decision.

I may work more than ever, but it’s work that I’m passionate about (I write, am a virtual assistant, coach newbie freelance writers and have a course to help aspiring writers for the web launch their own business in as little as 30 days). We also own our schedule, our time and choose how we get to spend it.

Better yet, we choose WHO we get to spend it with.

In Conclusion

Blogging changed our life.

We now decide our schedule, rather than our Corporate America jobs dictating it.

For us, it’s not about being rich or continuing to earn more money – it’s about defining and living out our own priorities, which just so happens to include spending as much time as we can raising our own children.

Want to know my favorite part of each workday now? Coming in for lunch with my family and laying my two toddlers down for their naps. I never would have been able to do that a year ago!

How would your life look different if you felt empowered to make big changes?
Gina Horkey is a writer for hire, with a background in personal finance. She also offers coaching services and really enjoys helping other freelancers gear up to quit their day jobs and take their side hustles full-time. Please stop by Horkey HandBook and say hello and download a free copy of 8 Tips to Start Your Freelance Career off on the Right Foot!

The Biggest Lesson I Learned About Building a Profitable Blog in 2015

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Episode 38 of the ProBlogger podcast is focused on something I’ve learned in the course of the past year that I think has the potential to transform not only your blogging, but many areas of your life.

Today’s episode is personal – my personal journey of the last nine months. I talked about it at the ProBlogger event a few weeks ago now in my opening keynote – an unexpected topic perhaps, but one that I think is so useful as the foundation of everything, including building a profitable blog.

The question I want to ask you today is the question we get asked all the time: “how are you?”. Not your blog, not your business, but you?

Not just answering “good”, or “busy”, but finding out how are you really? Don’t gloss over the question – really ponder the answer.

The biggest lesson in blogging I’ve learned this year, is that if I want my blog to shine, I need to move beyond the minutiae of monetising, finding readers, creating content – I need to work on making myself shine. The wellbeing of my blogs is directly linked to the wellbeing of me, and I had been letting myself go.

Late last year I went to the doctor for my annual health checkup, and what he told me changed the trajectory of not only my life, but my blogs as well. He gave me a list of things to work on to get my health back up to speed – a whole list. It was stuff I already knew but had never really done anything about. Seeing it there, in list form, was confronting.

I left that doctor’s office feeling pretty low. I didn’t sleep well that night, as I thought about all the things I needed to change in my life. I even pondered the stuff that the doctor didn’t know, but that I knew was an issue.

The story I want to tell you today is how that day was a pivot point for me, and how putting my health and wellbeing first has made such an impact on my blogs and my work ever since.

I hope it inspires you to examine the parts of your life that need changing, to inspire you to take your health seriously and to stop forgetting to exercise, forgetting to eat well, forgetting to get your priorities in order as we churn on through the hamster wheel of work. I hope it helps you set a solid foundation from which your blogs and online endeavours can grow.

Click here to listen to episode 38 of the ProBlogger Podcast: The Biggest Lesson I Learned About Building a Profitable Blog in 2015.

I’d also love to hear your feedback on today’s episode, either here or at ProBlogger.com, and your answer to the question: “how are you?”.

Further Reading:

Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately

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

Here we are again! Fridays come around so fast, it seems… which is good, and bad.

There are heads full of knowledge and excitement and ideas after last week‘s ProBlogger Training Event, and it’s thrilling to see people starting to put their dreams into practise. Such a surge of energy and hustle! If you missed out and would love to keep updated about future events, feel free to join the Facebook group to keep in touch, and also connect with the attendees who have formed a wonderfully supportive and informative community.

For now though, let’s check out blog news:

Three Reasons Why You Should Take Snapchat Seriously // Hootsuite

I’m the first to admit I let Snapchat fall by the wayside years ago. But I’ve noticed a resurgence of late and I reinstalled the app. This is just the beginning, they say…

Facebook Now Drives More Traffic to Media Sites than Google // Fortune

And will blogs be next? I know Facebook is the number-one referrer for a lot of blogs – what lessons can we learn from it?

How to Optimise your Tweets for Search // Social Media Examiner

I NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT THIS! Especially seeing as Twitter accounts are showing up in Google search results.

A Brief History of Internet “Joke Aggregator” The Fat Jew // Mashable

When curating your content, for goodness’ sake, attribute your sources! Goes for images on Instagram and elsewhere, “image via Pinterest” is not enough.

How to Use Evernote at a Conference // Veggie Mama

I know I wrote it, but it’s useful! How you can keep all the notes, audio, and images you take at each session in neat files, and what to do with all those business cards you accumulate through networking. You won’t know what you ever did without Evernote at conferences before!

So what did you learn this week? Care to share? Gonna revive that Snapchat account?!

Stacey is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama or be entertained on Facebook.

9 Habits of Bloggers Who Have Huge Audiences

9 Habits of Bloggers Who Have Huge AudiencesThis is a guest contribution from Jeff Foster.

If you’re just starting out as a blogger, you’re probably wondering how to grow your audience.

The good news is that there’s a lot you can learn from bloggers who have already built an enormous following – no matter what they blog about, great bloggers share a number of habits that make them successful. If you’re diligent about developing these habits yourself, you too can build an army of loyal supporters.

Let’s look at why highly successful bloggers truly connect with their audience:

1. They are Passionate About Their Subject

When you’re truly excited, it comes across in your writing – it arouses your audience and makes them feel that you have something worth saying. Don’t pick a blog niche just because there are lots of potential readers, write about something you truly care about, and readers will come flocking. In any case, if you’re not deeply passionate about your subject, chances are you’ll get bored and abandon your blog very quickly.

2. They Take the Time to Make Themselves Experts

People read blogs because they want unique insights and interesting points of view. If you just repeat what other bloggers are saying, then you’re not adding any value.

You need to take the time to become a true expert. If you’re passionate about your subject, this should be a labor of love – not a burden. Read widely and keep up with the latest news so that you have your finger on the pulse of your subject.

Engage in social media – not just your own blog – to build your knowledge and have meaningful discussions. By making learning a lifelong process, you’ll give your readers something that they just can’t get anywhere else.

3. They Create Incredibly Useful Content

Not only are top bloggers experts, they also give their readers genuinely helpful information.

Don’t just focus on expressing your own views – think about what your audience wants to know, and then give them this information.

For example, if you blog about cooking, ask kitchen equipment manufacturers for product samples. Then try these samples out, and tell your readers what you think. On the other hand, if you’re a fashion blogger, make the effort to go to real fashion shows and give your followers a first-hand account of what went on.

4. They’re Prolific

To grow a huge audience for your blog, you need to keep your readers coming back. Sure, it’s important to add new readers all the time, but if your existing audience is drifting away, then you’re fighting an uphill battle.

The way to build a loyal following is to produce lots of fresh content – every day if possible. This doesn’t mean you should write for the sake of writing – fuzz and fluff are useless. You have to deliver concise, insightful material on a regular basis – it’s tough to do this, but the more you try, the easier it gets.

5. They’re Motivated Self-Starters

The great thing about blogging is that you don’t have a boss telling you what to do – it’s also one of the biggest challenges.

No one is going to force you to sit down and write that next blog post, or tell you to go out and interview industry experts. What you do has to come from within yourself. Unless you can get up each morning and tear into life with a fresh appetite, you’re going to struggle. That’s why it’s so important to be passionate about your subject – if you believe in what you’re doing, then staying motivated is much easier.

6. They Know How to Manage Their Time

As a blogger, it’s so easy to waste time. There are countless ways to pretend to yourself that you’re getting useful work done. For instance, you may find it fun to play around with the latest plug-ins for your blog – but you need to ask yourself whether this is the best use of your time.

Successful bloggers look at their time as a precious resource – they plan ahead, schedule activities, and then do what they say they’re going to do. Everything in their plan is there for a reason. If something isn’t in the plan, it isn’t a priority.

7. They Persist

Even the most successful bloggers have setbacks. Not all of your blog posts will hit the mark, and you’re going to get turned down again and again by people you want to interview.

It’s easy to get discouraged, but to succeed you need to carry on. Talent isn’t enough – there are lots of skilled bloggers who don’t succeed because they can’t keep going when the going gets tough. The best bloggers are determined and won’t take no for an answer – if something doesn’t work, they just move on to their next great idea.

8. They Engage in Meaningful Dialogs With Their Readers

A blog isn’t a lecture. The best bloggers listen to their readers and create a dynamic community.

By responding positively to what their readers say, answering their questions, and engaging in meaningful conversations, they make their readers feel like they belong. This in turn creates a deep bond and a sense of trust – turning readers into impassioned supporters.

9. They Build Strong Relationships With Other Bloggers

Blogging isn’t a competition.

Great bloggers take the time to build relationships with other bloggers. They leave thoughtful comments, share other bloggers’ posts and even get in contact with them directly. If you do this, you’ll get amazing insights that you can share with your own blog readers. Equally important, connecting with other bloggers gives you exposure and helps you to build your audience. When you build a relationship with other successful bloggers, they’ll be the first to talk about what you do. Just make sure that you’re completely genuine. You have to truly care about what other bloggers are saying – otherwise you’ll just come across as engaging in cynical promotion, and they’ll spot you a mile away.

Jeff Foster is co-founder and CEO at Tomoson, the influencer marketplace. The platform allows bloggers and social media influencers to get paid for posting sponsored content, and lets businesses connect with targeted, niche audiences.