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Most Popular Posts on ProBlogger 2014: General Tips

This week we’ve covered the five most popular posts in the areas of monetization, content, social media, and writing tips. Today we bring you the top 5 general tips that readers found most useful. I hope they do to you too! Read it now, or pin for later.

ProBlogger Popular Posts of 2014: General Tips - we covered grammar mistakes, one thing to do daily that will change your blogging, SEO must-dos, project management websites, and if Content isn't King - then what is?

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1. 5 Quick Grammar Tips to Improve Your Writing – Plus Free Downloadable Cheat Sheet

A super-handy overview of apostrophes, when to use that/which/who, when to use “everyday” vs. “every day”, commas, and capitalization. The cheat sheet is perfect for printing out and leaving it in your workspace so you’re never stuck with a grammar issue again.

Image by zev

Image by zev

2. Spend 10 Minutes Doing This Every Day and You Could Transform Your Blogging

We even started doing it at ProBlogger HQ at our regular meetings.

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3. Publish Your Blog Post Without SEO and Thousands of Visits will be Forever Lost

SEO kingpin Rand Fishkin stopped by ProBlogger to give us the absolute ultimate in SEO advice. Simple things you can do right now to ensure you’re getting the maximum exposure of your work.

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4. Top 10 Web-Based Personal Project Management Tools

You’re looking for a sweet app to streamline your worklife? Us too. Here are 10 of them that will keep you (and your team, if you have one) on track.

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5. Content isn’t King: Here’s What is

I know I’ve made this mistake in 2014 with my own blog. Content is great – but useful content is what gets you places. Are you useful?

 

Did you use these tips this year? Have you figured out a way to serve your readers by meeting their needs with your blog? I’d love to hear it!

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 (cat pictures welcome!).

 

Most Popular Posts on ProBlogger 2014: Writing Tips

So useful content is king, and we need to provide it consistently. But how? And what if writing isn’t our strong suit? I always find that writing tips, guides, and productivity hacks score high in the interest scale of ProBlogger readers. These were the five most-read posts this year.

Problogger best of 2104: Writing Tips

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1. 6 Lessons in Writing Irresistibly Magnetic Blog Post Headlines

We all know headlines are what can make or break your post: if your headline sucks, people just won’t read. This post has six ways to nail it, every time.

Image via Flickr user Dan Patterson

Image via Flickr user Dan Patterson

2. 9 Crucial Tips for Self-Editing Your Blog Posts (That Everybody Can Use)

Tend to waffle? you won’t after reading these super-easy tips.

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3. How to Repurpose Your Content (and Why You Should do it)

Darren gives us a hefty post filled with great ideas on ways to take what you’ve already written and package it anew. A very effective use of resources.

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4. 15 Quick and Easy Productivity Hacks for Busy Bloggers

We all waste time – Pooja shows us how to cut out the crap so we can make the most use of the time we have.

Image via Flickr user Toni Birrer

Image via Flickr user Toni Birrer

5. In a Blog Slump? Here’s what to do

When you’ve lost your writing mojo, everyone is succeeding but you, and you feel like throwing your laptop out the window – these are my top tips to get back in the game and feel the love again.

 

So what about you? I’m willing to bet you’ve slumped at least one time in 2014. What was the best writing tip you picked up this year?

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 (cat pictures welcome!).

Most Popular Posts on ProBlogger 2014: Social Media

Social media and how to navigate it was, again, a big issue in 2014. Which platform is best? How do we use it effectively? Are we still using Google Plus? Where did everyone on Twitter go? These are the answers we found…

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1. 5 Ways to Promote Your Blog Without Relying on Google Traffic

As Darren has said before, putting all your eggs in the Google basket can be risky (and devastating – he almost lost his business). We learned how to boost our traffic without relying on the Google fallback.

2. How to Socialize Your Posts for Maximum Effect

What’s the point of promoting our blogs on social media if nobody is reading it? This Theme Week post had great tips on how to be effective across the board to drive traffic back to your site.

3. Facebook Theme Week: Boost Your Organic Reach with These Tips

2014 made one thing abundantly clear: not everyone wanted to pay to be seen on Facebook. In fact, some bloggers really resented it. We delved into what strategies are effective on Facebook to work with their algorithms instead of against them. We outlined the best ways to organically reach the majority of our audience with what we have to promote.

4. Facebook Theme Week: Case Studies of Popular Pages and What They’re Doing to Get Great Engagement

Another post in our week-long discussion about what the biggest Facebook pages in the world were doing to interact with their fans and drive up engagement. It turns out their strategies are very simple – and they’re all ones we can do, too.

5. A Social Media Etiquette Guide You Might Find Useful

An in-depth infographic that laid it all bare: What’s, right, what’s wrong, and what works? On what platform? You’ll find it very comprehensive.

 

What do you think? Do you struggle with Facebook too? Given up on G+?

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 (cat pictures welcome!).

Most Popular Posts on ProBlogger 2014: Monetization

We’ve covered so much ground here on ProBlogger this year, and much of it about monetization – here are the top five posts this year in that category. Have you made the changes you read about in these posts? Which ones did you miss? Take this chance now to catch up – or pin it for future reference.

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Image via Flickr user Susy Morris

Image via Flickr user Susy Morris

1. Making the Impossible Possible: How I Created a Full-Time Blogging Income with No Qualifications

It seems like Stacey Corrin’s story of turning her passion into profit in just three months was a hit with you guys. And who can blame it – the majority of readers here want to make some kind of income from their blogs, and full-time seems like the jackpot. Some great tips in this post from someone who has been there, done that.

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2. How I Doubled My Unique Visitors in Six Months (and Tripled Them in a Year)

This is a post I wrote after seeing tremendous growth on my personal blog in 2012. Some real, practical take-home strategies you can do today to boost your traffic.

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3. 9 World-Class Bloggers Share Their #1 List-building Tip

A few famous faces gave their top tip for creating the best email list possible. Everything from content to plugins and download incentives is covered.

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4. Partnering with Brands Theme Week: Ways to Collaborate and Earn an Income on Your Blog

Aussie super-blogger Nikki Parkinson of Styling You gives the lowdown on how to make a brand-blog collaboration really shine. Nikki’s advice on ways to work together and how to get brands on side are not to be missed.

The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Media Kit // ProBlogger.net

5. The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Media Kit

Another one from our Working With Brands Theme Week – everything you need to know to create a kickass media kit, all in one place. Remember – less is more!

 

Did you catch these throughout the year? Have you found the tips useful? I’d love to chat!

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 (cat pictures welcome!).

New Facebook Changes: Target your Audience Effectively

FACEBOOKchangesyou need to know about

 

If you are one of the many people confused by Facebook and its ever-changing algorithms, you’ll be pleased to know they’ve recently made some favourable changes to their operating system.

I see it everywhere – bloggers desperately trying to reach their Facebook audience, and being thwarted at every turn. Facebook has been experimenting a lot this year with delivering the best, most tailored newsfeed to its users, but at the cost of our readers seeing posts. We dedicated an entire week to decoding Facebook earlier this year – from sticking with organic reach practises to experimenting with paid ads. Both can work, but a complaint I hear often is that it’s getting to be more of a pay-to-play platform.

In both the Facebook Advertising webinar and the post we did on how to effectively target your audience, we covered the gamut of targeting options available. However, with the recent changes to targeting and tools, it is easier than ever to only show your posts to those who are interested, and to save different types of posts for different kinds of audiences.

New Facebook Tools Changes

Facebook has introduced very selective targeting options for you to really drill down and capture the right readership for your blog (or even specific posts or pages on your blog) every time you post.

Available to those who have enabled the Targeting and Privacy setting, you can now use it to provide posts to a subset of your audience.

Have a recipe post? You can now choose to show it to the part of your readership who have indicated to Facebook they like food or cooking. People who aren’t interested in that won’t see the post. But they will see a post they are interested in, based on their likes and dislikes.

Post End Date

Have a time-sensitive post? You can choose a particular date it will stop showing up in newsfeeds… but it will still be visible on your page. Again, only available to those who have enabled Targeting and Privacy, and it’s only available on desktop at the moment.

Smart Publishing

Take the guesswork out of what your audience will resonate with. Can be hard to predict, so Facebook have rolled out to a select few media organizations (for now) the ability to identify and publish stories that are already popular with the folk on Facebook.

Frequently-shared links to your website will appear in the newsfeed of people who like your page. They won’t appear on your page, but you’ll get a whole new dashboard of insights and ability to moderate comments.

Page admins can opt in from the Publisher Tools section within Page Settings.

Insights

While reasonably in-depth, your current insights will now be even more descriptive. With a better overview, you can even more effectively understand and optimize your content for success.

It’s even easier now to see where your content is going with the addition of information about people and pages that share your links.

There are also changes made to the type of insights you have access to, and how your page and plugins drive traffic to sites.

You can find out more information, and keep up with further Facebook announcements here.

So what do you think? Will this make marketing on Facebook easier for you?

 

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 (cat pictures welcome!).

 

Get Social Media Right: Five Things you Just Can’t Miss

This is a guest contribution from Pratik Dholakiya.

There’s no doubt social media is important for businesses to engage with potential and existing customers. It’s marketing 101. Since it’s the de facto “I’ll let the world know what I think about this product or brand” medium, it’s also a unique channel where companies and businesses now face intense scrutiny.

Social media is best used for engagement. It’s a powerful tool that finally lets companies (of any size) get one-to-many with its customer base. Social media allows you to sell (without actually pushing).

At least 72% of people surveyed by HootSuite state that they are likely to buy from a company they first interacted on Twitter, for instance. There’s also a 30% in unsolicited recommendations.

With more than 500 million tweets a day and over 230 million active users, your customers are on Twitter, which is proving to be a great way to improve customer relationships. Facebook – with a user base over a billion and counting – continues to be the mainstay for B2C companies.

LinkedIn meanwhile is a great platform to establish your social presence, attract clients, employees, vendors, and even investors.

On social media conversation, share, and engagement is a direct result of your updates performing. If social media provides amplification for your content assets, the right metrics help you measure that amplification.

However, there are production costs associated with those updates. People, time, tools, resources are all under the anvil. So, how do you finalize your key performance indicators, measure the metrics that are important and determine if they’re the one that can deliver maximum ROI? Here are some of the top indicators every social media marketer should pin to the wall.

Business Assets

Today, content can be classified as a business asset. Assets are built to perform. Analytics help you understand how your assets perform over time in line with your business strategy. But just because something exists doesn’t mean it’s important. With so many metrics out there for a marketer to measure, life just got harder for content marketers.

For contemporary content marketers, metrics are best classified into classes, and then each asset must be measured against the overall performance of the asset class it comes under.

Cyfe is a single tool that helps you aggregate all of your asset classes in one place. You can pull in the numbers from the various sources, channels, campaigns (organic and paid), and maintain a single view for analytics. Chris Abraham of Socialmedia.biz termed it as One Dashboard to Rule Them All.

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Cyfe integrates with social media networks, email marketing tools, and all other major sources for your traffic, revenue, or sales. Cyfe also plugs into campaign data from Google Adwords, Bing Ads, Yahoo Advertising, retargeting networks, and with Facebook paid campaigns.

It helps you mitigate these challenges that metrics carry:

  • Metrics are numbers. But the actual transaction flow – from the time a prospect first knows about your business to the point of sale – isn’t straightforward.
  • One single metric, by itself, doesn’t mean much.
  • Metrics are best understood in clusters.

Time Vs Production

Time has a cost to it – a direct one at that. Although this metric is an internal assessment for your team to ponder on and get better at, it has a direct correlation to the rest of the metrics.

  • If there’s an editorial calendar, planned per day, for the period of time, how are the deadlines being met?
  • For every specific content asset, how long does it take to create and publish/
  • How many different types of content are produced and published for a specific period of time?

Use Excel or any other tool/software you are comfortable with but measure these to get your internal processes in shape.

Retention

Social media retention is hard to get at, especially given that social updates have a miserable shelf life of about three hours on average, according to Pamela Vaughan of HubSpot.

According to her post,

  • The mean half-life of a link on Twitter is 2.8 hours.
  • The mean half-life of a link on Facebook is 3.2 hours.
  • The mean half-life of a link via ‘direct’ sources such as email or instant messaging clients is 3.4 hours.
  • The mean half-life of a link on YouTube is 7.4 hours.

Given these numbers, you’d have a vested interest in looking at the effectiveness of your social media assets beyond the initial contact. For your social updates, you’d need to look at:

  • Tracking follower or fan growth over a period of time.
  • The ability of each social update to garner interest in the form of likes, Tweets, and interactions with each update.

For Twitter, as an example, here’s a sample snapshot of Twitter growth for the last 28 days:

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You also get to see demographic information, interests of your followers, and gender distribution as follows:

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Engagement and Sharing

Social media is “social”. Unlike any other media, there’s the question of reach, engagement, and sharing that’s critical to this media. Traditional publishing depending on reach alone. Social brings in engagement and sharing too.

The more engagement, reach, and share your social updates can manage to stir up, the better it is for your business for multiple reasons. Tools like HootSuite and Buffer App already provide built in analytics for you to dig into. Each social network, meanwhile, also provides analytics on how your social web properties perform.

Facebook provides insights. LinkedIn has analytics. Twitter just rolled out activity dashboard to let you see how your Tweets perform including link clicks, engagement, retweets, replies, and instances of your Tweets being marked as favorites.

For each social network, the important engagement and sharing metrics will include (but not limited to):

  • Number of impressions or reach per update.
  • Activity level around engagement per update.
  • Retweets, shares, likes, comments, and responses per update.

Lead Metrics

Vanity metrics don’t mean a thing. They really don’t. Except for massaging your ego, there’s nothing else vanity metrics do for you. Jay Baer of Convince and Convert writes:

“The end goal is action, not eyeballs.”

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All the branding, engagement, and sharing later, it’s finally about leads. Kevan Lee of Buffer Blog wrote the ultimate guide on social metrics and gets right to the point with an emphasis on leads.

A conversion is that metric you should hang on to. Defined as the number of leads generated from the sum total of social updates, amplification, engagement, and reach.

If you use a tool like Snip.ly, you can also measure direct metrics like clicks originating through each update. This nifty tool also helps you measure conversions (originating from links within social updates) to specific destinations such as landing pages and website pages.

This is the point where all the talk about social media ROI begins to make sense. Taking it a bit further, these are the metrics social hawks at Moz are looking at. The folks at Moz talk about relative engagement rates. Their point is simple: the conversion rate on Facebook isn’t the same as engagement that comes from your Instagram or Pinterest account.

They recommend a tool like TrueSocialMetrics, which helps calculate the true economic value of your social marketing across specific platforms.

Over to You

With social media, the numbers aren’t hard to get. The only thing that matters is your analytical interpretation of those numbers and how they relate to your business goals.

In short,

  • Ignore vanity metrics.
  • Define your goals, classify your metrics, and measure what matters.
  • Conversions are still the real metrics that matter.

How do you measure your social metrics? What are you on the lookout for? What kind of numbers are you busy crunching?

Pratik Dholakiya is the Co-Founder & VP of Marketing of E2M and MoveoApps. He’s passionate about fitness, entrepreneurship, start-ups and all things digital marketing. Hit him up on Twitter @DholakiyaPratik for a quick chat.

Stand out from the Crowd: Simplicity Tips from Amy Lynn Andrews

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If you’ve been blogging for long, you’ve no doubt heard of Amy Lynn Andrews.

Plain-language blogging tips, tricks, and tutorials are Amy’s game. And while everyone gets louder and brighter on the internet in order to catch your attention, Amy is whispering. And it works.

Amy covers everything from How to Start a Blog to How to Make Money Blogging, and sends out arguably the most useful newsletter on the planet every Sunday morning.

I wanted to know how the simple life made a difference to her blogging experience – if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed with all we’re supposed to do and use and read and be as bloggers, I hope this is useful to you. Slim down, pare back, focus on your priorities. Amy would want you to!

The Useletter

I asked Amy how she settled on her very different style of newsletter (and was reminded again how important an email list is):

“I wanted to reduce my dependence on other sources of blog traffic, like search, social media and referrals. I also liked the idea of permission-based marketing which gives me the power to go to my readers instead of waiting for them to come to me. In a nutshell, an email list was a more controllable digital asset for me,” she says.

“Once I decided to go in this direction, I knew I needed to stand out. Everyone is building a list these days; my emails had to be super valuable. I chose to leverage the reputation I had already built on my blog, which is the provider of helpful tutorials and in-plain-English content. I decided to focus on quick, bite-sized tips in my emails. I called it The Useletter because they are tips you can use.”

So did this simple template evolve over time, or was it planned from the outset?

“The basic, (mostly) text-only format has always been the same and it suits me well for 3 reasons: I like quick tips, I struggle to write blog posts and I’m lazy when it comes to including images. :)

“It was also somewhat inspired by NextDraft, the wildly popular daily news roundup written by Dave Pell.”

So what gets a coveted spot in The Useletter? How does Amy decide what’s most important? 

“I love to learn and my favorite online pastime is hunting for useful information. The internet is full of impressive people who share amazing tips and tricks. Whenever I come across something that makes me think, “Hey, that’s a great idea!” or “Oh, that’s handy!” I file it away to be included in The Useletter.

“I follow dozens of blogs and newsletters. I read ebooks, magazines, books and anything else I can download or put on my Kindle. I’m a huge fan of podcasts. Videos and webinars are often great sources of information too. Basically, anytime someone is talking about blogging or online business, I take note!

“Most of my reading material is funneled through Feedly where I categorize it according to my main topics. If it makes the cut as I scan through, it gets saved in Evernote, my holding tank for The Useletter tips. (Here’s how I use my editorial calendar.)”

Simplicity Gets Results

I think the simplicity works because it’s a little unexpected for an email. I’ve tried to format it in a way that people can quickly glean what they want. And I do my best to include a variety of actionable tips that doesn’t require reading a whole blog post to get the main nugget.”

It’s not only The Useletter that is frill-free: Amy’s website has been streamlined to make the most important things the focus and set aside all else. How has that worked for her? 

“I’m still experimenting with it, but yes, it did [improve The Useletter signup rates]. However, I’ve debated about switching it back, simply because I frustrate myself when I go to my site to lookup a post and I have to click through the home page first.”

So simplicity is a theme for her. But why?

“I appreciate simplicity in my own life. The more I’m online, the more complicated it feels. There’s just too much – too many graphics, too many apps, too many choices, too many ads, too many social media options. There’s too much vying for our attention. Simplicity makes life breathable.” [Tweet that!]

Simple Advice for Bloggers

Observe, listen and respond – to the people, not the gurus. Over the last few years, one of the clear messages I’ve heard from internet users is they’re suffering from information overload. They can’t keep up. And yet, bloggers and online business owners continue to churn out content at an astounding rate (I’m guilty too!). There’s nothing magical about simplicity, it’s just that simplicity is an antidote to a common pain point.

In Mailouts

Practice the art of empathy. Put yourself in your readers’ shoes. What would they appreciate? How can you help them? When it comes to online communication, email is intimate. Treat your subscribers with respect and they’ll stick with you for the long haul. Do your subscribers really want your email? Would you?” [Tweet that too!]

Simple Advice for Email Signup Rates

You can’t create sign ups, but you can create enticing content. Let the usefulness of your emails speak for themselves and others will eventually start promoting for you. Of course you can make your sign up form clear and conspicuous or offer a great lead magnet (i.e. freebie), but in my experience, word of mouth is a whole lot more effective.

After that, make your subscribers hesitant to unsubscribe, lest they miss out on what you’re going to send next!”

 

Wise words! I know I’ve been yearning for more simplicity in my blogging – I want to get to the heart of sharing something without sacrificing too much time and energy to do so. How about you? Feeling the pull to do more, be more? I’d love to chat in the comments!

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 (so much more!) at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama (cat pictures welcome).

 

 

How to Promote Your Blog Without Letting The Rest of Your Blogging Slide

Recently I shared the stories of how my two blogs grew. One (ProBlogger) had a ‘tipping point’ early on which grew traffic almost overnight and the other (Digital Photography School) had slow but steady growth over several years with no real tipping point.

There were some great comments on that post including this one from Steve:

I have seen a recent increase in traffic, but it didn’t happen by accident. I spent a good deal of time promoting my blog in various ways. I suspect your increases resulted from similar efforts.

I ran an experiment to see what would happen if I made a concerted effort to promote my blog. My readership increased, which is extremely gratifying. But it came at a cost. My marketing diverted time away from producing high quality content.

I want a lot of readers, and I want them to see my best work. I have yet to figure out how to do the marketing and still have enough time to produce my best content. Do you have any thoughts on this?

I wanted to publish Steve’s comment for a few reasons.

Firstly – I think a lot of us could learn from Steve’s observation that growing traffic to a site almost always is the result of time and effort spent intentionally trying to grow your blog.

I don’t know how Steve went about growing his traffic but there are a couple of ways I’ve seen bloggers work hard at doing it:

1. prolific networking – we’ve all seen bloggers do this. They are on every Twitter chat, commenting on many blogs, attending meetups and events, participating in forums and Facebook groups, emailing other bloggers and generally putting themselves out there many times every single day. The result is that they seem to be everywhere and are on the radar of everyone.

This approach takes MASSIVE effort!

2. guest posting – I can think of numerous bloggers (I’ll share one example later in this post) who have used strategic guest posting to grow their profile and traffic. Those who do it best write amazingly helpful content and usually appear on multiple blogs. They usually also pay a heap of attention to the comments sections on those guest posts (answering every single comment left) and social media.

Another approach that probably fits into this guest posting approach are those who put themselves out there constantly to be interviewed or to interview others. Also in this category are those who put themselves out there in speaking at events.

This approach takes a MASSIVE effort!

But it Doesn’t Stop There

The above two strategies are not the only two that can be used to grow traffic to a blog (and they are not mutually exclusive – many do both) but I think you’ll agree that they illustrate this idea that growing traffic is not a passive thing – it takes significant work.

But it doesn’t stop there… and this is the second reason I love Steve’s comment.

To grow a successful and well read blog takes a lot more than just putting yourself out there to promote your blog prolifically.

As Steve observes – it also takes time to create high quality content for your own blog.

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This is where the juggle begins because as we all know, creating great content for your blog on a regular basis takes a MASSIVE effort!

Of course the work doesn’t stop at the creation of content, there’s also serving those readers who come as a result of your promotion who are reading that content.

Many of the most successful bloggers that I’ve seen rise to prominence over the past few years also have an incredible focus upon building community with and serving the readers that they currently have.

They respond to comments on blog posts, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, email etc.

This takes a MASSIVE effort!

Throw into the mix the challenge of monetising your blog, the technical challenges keeping a blog up and running can throw at you, paying attention to your blog design and the challenges of having a family, ‘real’ job, social life and staying healthy and you can see why many bloggers feel quite overwhelmed and disillusioned with blogging!

“Do you have any thoughts on this?”

Steve finished his comment with a question… one that many of us ask. What’s the answer to this massive tension that we all face?

To grow our blog’s traffic takes us away from creating content. To focus upon one thing means a ‘cost’ in another area.

I don’t have THE answer to this question but as I responded to Steve’s comment a couple of thoughts came to mind.

Firstly – Pay Attention to the Tension

It is very easy to get out of balance. Over the years I see bloggers often falling into one of two camps.

1. Focus Upon Content at the Expense of Promotion

This sometimes comes as a result of feeling too shy to put yourself out there but can also be the result of a ‘build it and they will come’ mindset and a belief that great content will attract readers.

This is a half truth.

Great content does help to attract and retain readers – but it’s a lot easier to do that if you’re ‘out there’ promoting that content in some way. This is especially true when you’re just starting out.

As your blog gets older and you do have an established readership you’ll find that they do share great content for you – but in the early days it’s you that needs to do that work!

2. Focus Upon Promotion at the Expense of Content

I’ve seen a number of bloggers lately who are ‘everywhere’ and doing an amazing job of networking, growing their profile and just generally being a fantastic contribution to their niche on social media.

The problem for them is that they do this at the expense of building their own blog. There comes a time where if you want to build a business around your blog that you need to get people engaged in what you do on your blog.

If you’re not paying attention to creating great content there and engaging the readers who come – much of your promotional effort will be wasted.

Pay attention to the tension – spot when you’re getting out of balance and adjust your approach as you do. It’s really important!

Secondly – Try a Promotional Burst Approach

It strikes me that some of the bloggers that come to mind who used guest posting to grow their blogs a few years back didn’t use the strategy indefinitely.

One of the bloggers who I marvelled at with regards to how he built his audience was Leo Babauta from Zen Habits.

Leo seemed to burst onto the blogging scene – seemingly from nowhere – back in 2006-2007. I don’t remember the first time that I came across him but I’m pretty sure it would have been in a guest post on someone else’s blog because Leo was prolific as a guest poster.

Leo would have these bursts of guest posting over a few weeks. It was almost as if every day over these weeks he’d be on a different blog (including here on ProBlogger). The result of the accumulation of all these posts must have been great traffic back to his blog.

The thing was that these bursts seemed to have quite inentional starts and ends to them. He’d be published everywhere (including publishing posts on his own blog) for a few weeks and then he’d pull right back and just focus upon his own blog.

I remember emailing him at one stage when I was going on holiday to see if he’d be interested in writing something for ProBlogger and he said no because he was just focusing upon writing for his own blog at that time. A few months later he was open to writing a guest post again.

I’ve never talked to Leo about this strategy but it strikes me that he must have worked really hard for a month or two before his burst of guest posting to either produce all those guest posts or have a backlog of posts to publish on his own blog and then he must have switched into ‘promotion mode’ and let it all loose.

The key though was that it was for a defined period before he got back to serving the readers he’d attracted.

I saw him do these bursts of promotion several times over a couple of years in which he built himself an amazing audience and real momentum. At this point he didn’t need to guest post so much (if at all) but his established audience began to promote him through word of mouth.

My Final Advice for Steve

There are a couple of things that I think we as bloggers always need to pay attention to – these being publishing regular high quality content on our blogs and looking after the readers we already have (community).

These activities are like a baseline. Take the focus off these at any point and your blog is likely to suffer fairly quickly.

Promoting a blog is something you should also have some baseline activities and rhythm around. For example sharing new content to social media (whether through automation or manually doing it) is good practice.

However I do think there are times where it’s probably well worth having a burst of concerted promotional effort to grow your blog.

Whether it be through guest posting, reaching out to mainstream media, attending/speaking at events or even paying for advertising – a burst of intentional promotional activity for a defined period can have some real benefits.

Giving it a ‘burst’ means that you’re able to plan for it and hopefully the baseline activities don’t suffer too much. Also by giving it a burst you can potentially get that ‘she’s everywhere’ effect that gets on people’s radar.

What’s Your Advice to Steve?

I’d LOVE to hear your advice for Steve on how to keep this balance between promotional activity and paying attention to the rest of your blogging right.

Over to you!

Is it Time to Burn Feedburner? There are Alternatives

This is a guest contribution from Steve Williams of feedburner-alternatives.com

To build up a readership it’s crucial to offer your visitors to subscribe to your blog, so they get updated every time you publish a new post. The two most important channels are email and RSS. Social media, despite the hype, is only second priority in terms of effectiveness.

Several services exist which help you to offer easy RSS & Email subscription options, ranging from RSS subscription facilitators (turning your RSS feed into a nice-to-look-at subscription screen which anyone can understand), RSS2Email as well as classic Email marketing services.

Feedburner: The top dog in decline

The – by far – most popular choice in the blogging community is (still) Feedburner. Feedburner offers solutions for both RSS and Email. And the best of it: it’s 100% free.

However, since Google bought Feedburner in 2007, it never got further developed. Several features got shut down, such as the monetization tool Adsense for feeds as well as the Feedburner API.

And it’s getting worse: more and more bloggers notice that Feedburner’s email delivery is not working reliably anymore. And as there has been no Google support to solve the issue many bloggers have given up on Feedburner.

However: which alternative services could take Feedburner’s spot?

The Feedburner alternatives

The essence of our research: there’s not one solution for all. It all depends on what your needs are.

Switching from FeedBurner Decision Tree Infographic

Credit to feedburner-alternatives.com

Feedburner is not working anymore, and it’s time to do the switch.
If you used Feedburner to handle your RSS feeds, Feedblitz (inexpensive) and Feedpress (slightly more expensive, but more features) are the way to go.
If you also used Feedburner to update your readers by email, then Feedblitz is the first choice which offers the most advanced solutions for both RSS and email (however, they charge quite a bit).
If you want to spice up your email newsletter a bit more, it may be worth to switch to the services which focus on those, i.e. either Mailchimp or Aweber. For the RSS-part you can then use Feedblitz or Feedpress.
Are you already using one of those alternatives? Let us know in the comments!

Steve Williams initiated www.feedburner-alternatives.com, reacting to the increasing frustration with Feedburner and the time-consuming process to find an alternative. Contact him on his page with suggestions on how to further improve the overview.