Close
Close

How Many Posts Should a Blogger Post? [Pros and Cons of Daily Posting]

Almost every time I do a Q&A at a conference I’m asked this question – How many posts should I post?

The frequency of blog posts is something that gets talked about a lot and there is no perfect answer for all blogs – but here are a few thoughts on the topic.

The Pros of Daily Posting

I’ve heard many people answer the ‘how many posts’ question with the suggestion that you should aim for a daily post.

While I will name some reasons why this may not be ideal below there are certainly some benefits of posting on a daily level including:

Daily Posts Can Help You Get into the Groove

I’ve had a variety of approaches to blogging frequency over the years and I have to say that getting into a daily blogging frequency has helped ME, as a blogger, make writing part of my daily workflow.

I find that if I post less often than ‘daily’, writing begins to slip off my radar as I fill my day with other tasks – and once I stop, I find it hard to get going again.

The more you practice as a writer the better you get (hopefully)!

Daily Posts Help with Reader Expectations and Engagement

It is amazing how readers will adapt to your posting frequency and will even look for your content to be published at certain times. I find that the less you post – the less engaged your readers will become.

Of course this also depends on how and where else you’re engaging with your readers. For example if you’re tweeting every day, answering comments every day and answering emails every day then this will certainly increase engagement.

I guess more regular content builds your brand also (if the content is good content).

More Posts mean More Doorways into Your Blog

I’ve spoken about this over the years many times on ProBlogger. The more posts you publish over time, the more doorways you present readers with to enter your blog.

1 post a week means you’ve got 52 doorways at the end of the year – daily posts means 365 doorways at the end of the year. This means people are more likely to see your content in RSS readers, in search engines, on social media etc. Over time this adds up. For example, here on ProBlogger today I’m publishing our 7001st post! That’s a lot of doorways!

The Negatives of Daily Posting

There are definitely some positives with daily (or at least a higher frequency of) posting. However there are also some costs including:

Blogger Burnout

Perhaps the biggest danger with setting your posting frequency levels too high is that you run the risk of burning out as a blogger.

Posting something new, engaging, compelling and helpful every day over several years can, over time, begin to feel like a chore – particularly if you have competing pressures of life (family, work, social life etc).

Reader Burnout

There is a fine line between giving your readers too little content to be engaged and overwhelming them with too much content to be able to digest it all.

I subscribed to a blog recently that I thought would be great to follow but they posted so many posts per week that it was too much and so I ended up reading none of it.

Some topics and styles of blog will sustain a higher frequency of posts than others. For example, some technology blogs have been posting 10-20 posts a day for several years – but their posts are usually short, sharp and easy to consume (and they are read by content hungry, tech savvy readers).

Decreases Reader Engagement

Related to this, I’ve noticed when I slow my posting frequency down that comment numbers often go up.

Fewer posts means that your most recent post sits on the front page of your blog longer which increases the chance of people seeing, engaging with and even sharing it.

Traffic might be lower overall to your blog – but hopefully each post will be read more!

Advice on Posting Frequency

Ultimately you need to decide what is right for you as a blogger. Your blog posting frequency should come out of a variety of factors including:

  • How much time and energy do you have for blogging? Remembering that there are other tasks that need to be done on top of writing
  • How much time do your readers have to read content? How thirsty are they for content?
  • How big is your topic/niche – how much is there actually to write about on that topic?
  • How long are the posts you write and how much time do they take to complete?
  • How old is your blog? (sometimes in the early days it can be good to have archives that are a little fuller so there’s more for new readers to explore)
  • How much do you have to say right now? Most bloggers go through bursts where they just naturally have more to write.
  • Is the quality of your posting suffering because you’re posting too often?

Keep in mind that over time your posting frequency may change. For example, here on ProBlogger I have been as high as 18 posts a week but these days we’ve slowed to 5-6 (with a change in the length and focus of the posts). Slowing our blogging frequency down has led to a higher engagement, higher quality of posts (at least that’s our intent) and steady (if not slightly higher) traffic.

Also remember that YOU as a blogger are probably a lot more worried about your posting frequency than your reader. We tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves as bloggers. Slowing down to increase quality of your posts and to look after yourself won’t be the end fo the world!

The last piece of advice I offer is to aim for regularity rather than daily. Readers will adapt to your posting rhythm and they will begin to expect that what you do one week is not too far different from what you do the next. So be consistent.

Here on ProBlogger we never switched from 18 posts in a week one week to 5 the next – it’s ebbed and flowed very gradually over time.

How often Do You Post?

I’m interested to hear how many posts you do per week on your blog?

Is that the same amount of posts each week or does it change?

Has that frequency changed over time?

What factors come into play for you in deciding how many posts per week is right for you?

Unlock the Power of Email To Grow Traffic and Profit: Melbourne ProBlogger Event

Next month on 24 May we will be running a day long workshop in Melbourne for bloggers on the topic of using Email to grow traffic and build profitability to your blog.

There are only 12 10 9 tickets left – grab yours here.

Over the last few years we’ve run an annual training event for bloggers that helps hundreds of bloggers to grow their blogs. These annual events have been for up to 300 bloggers at a time and are held over two days covering many aspects of blogging.

One of the pieces of feedback that attendees have given us is that they wanted us to run day long events that dig deeply into a more focused aspect of growing a profitable blog.

As a result we’re running this Email Marketing Workshop next month in Melbourne at the Melbourne Business School.

Photo 2The workshop will be capped at 30 attendees (there are 12 tickets left) and will be run by Shayne Tilley (who runs all my marketing, including our email marketing) and myself.

Email has become the biggest driver of both traffic and sales of my eBooks over the last few years and in this day we’ll be sharing with you exactly how we do it.

The day will focus upon 3 main topics:

  1. Building Your List of Subscribers (how to grow your list)
  2. Nurturing Your List (how to keep subscribers engaged)
  3. Getting Subscribers to Take Action (how to get them to visit your blog and buy your products)

Because the group is small we’ll be able to make this day interactive and tailor it to the level and needs of the group (so far we have a fairly intermediate level group).

We are also aiming to have some time for us to workshop and review attendees specific email strategies at the end of the day so hope it will give you plenty of things to put into action.

The cost of this day long training is $299.99 AUD (including lunch).

You can see the full rundown of the sessions and buy your ticket at our Eventbrite page.

PS: to those asking about when tickets go on sale for our annual event – we’re looking to release the last round of those tickets early next week.

Do You Know These Time Saving Blogging Tips?

Over the last few days we’ve been tackling the problem of ‘not enough time to blog’ that many bloggers struggle with. I started by sharing 7 tips for busy bloggers on how to find time to blog and then had 14 of my blogging friends share a little about their blogging routines.

When I asked these 14 bloggers about their routines I also asked if they had any tips for other busy bloggers. I’m glad I did because collectively they give some great insight below.

Chris Garrett

chris_garrett_blogworld.jpg

  1. Write down any ideas you have and transfer them to your blog drafts as soon as possible. If you can, skip the writing down part and go direct to your blog drafts. Maybe use a smart phone so you are more likely to have a handy route to your blog!
  2. In your drafts add a semi-decent headline (not final, just enough to get the idea across) and some bullets. At the very least the point you want to make. If you don’t then you will forget what your post was about. Trust me on this, I speak from experience, ha.
  3. Work out the best time of day for you to write and schedule time in that slot. I find my best writing is between 10am and 1pm, and second best between 6pm and 8pm. After lunch is a better time for me to talk but not write. We all have a rhythm, listen to yours.
  4. Set a timer. Tell the family to not disturb you until the time is up. Close all distractions. Write.
  5. Break up your writing into less daunting chunks if you need to. One session just do outlines. Next session do bad drafts. Third some editing. Then formatting. Then final polish and posting. Don’t try to do too much otherwise you will never do enough!

Tsh Oxenreider from Simple Mom

When I first started blogging, it wasn’t a job, so I had to hustle on top of my already full life. When I blogged, it was in snippets of time here and there—I wasn’t able to afford a babysitter until a few years ago. My best piece of advice is to not wait for that “perfect” time to write or blog, because it’ll never happen. Most of our days are full with a lot of those daily liturgies that require our focus—laundry, dinner, time with friends, parenting. If you can only blog in 10-minute increments, then so be it. If you can afford childcare, even if it’s just a few hours a day once a week, I say try it out and see what happens with your writing.

And also, make the most of your blogging time by blocking out distractions. Treat your blog as real work. Close out Twitter or Facebook unless you’re genuinely working on something there, and don’t open your blog reader until you’ve written as least a few paragraphs that day.

Leo Babauta from ZenHabits

leocomputer-300x290.jpgBlock off a chunk of two mornings a week to blog. If it’s important, you’ll make the time.

Cut out TV, Internet, news, socializing to make the time.

If you can’t dedicate 2-3 hours a week to blogging, you shouldn’t blog.

Christina Butcher from Hair Romance

A productivity technique I use is setting an alarm on my phone for 20 mins. I work well to deadlines and because I know I’ve only got 20 minutes I don’t procrastinate or check instagram etc. It’s surprising how much you can get done in 20 minutes.

When I’m filming tutorials I try and do a few at a time so that it’s more efficient. If you’re not filming often, I recommend keeping notes and a drawing of your perfect camera setup (eg time of day, lighting locations, reflector position, camera settings etc). It makes your next shoot quicker and easier.

I think it also comes down to being honest about your priorities and being aware of when you’re working and when you’re being ‘busy’.

Sarah Wilson

Not to get too fixed on posting every day, or to a strict roster, if that’s not working for you.

Why do you blog? To be creative, expressive? To do something meaningful?

If this is the case, it’s better to be your message and be a little loose and free and produce good work rather than “churning and burning”.

Nicole Avery from Planning with Kids

Nicole-Avery.png

  • Have written SMART goals for what you want to achieve for the year with your blogging. Lots of opportunities come up with blogging and there are plenty of social media distractions, so to keep focused, you can look back on these goals and assess whether you are spending time on activities which are going to help you achieve your goals. Your goals end up being your decision making framework.
  • Creating a content plan that is aligned to your goals. A content plan can take time to develop, but it is an excellent investment in time, which will save you time in the long run.
  • Have a social media strategy. Utilise Google Analytics to determine which social media network connects the most with your audience and brings readers to your blog. Don’t feel you have to be on every form of social media. Choose 1 -2 and do them well.
  • Be disciplined. Use productivity tools like Focus Booster when working through your to do list and stick to the allocated tasks before wandering off to social media or email to check out what is new.
  • Make sure you have time off over the year. Being online there is a constant flow of information in. Unplug and disconnect for chunks at time to recharge and relax. You will be surprised how productive you will be when you go back online.

Tina Roth – Swiss Miss

untitled.jpgTry to get organized in other aspects of your life by using some of the tools that exist solely for that reason. I use Sparrow, which helps me filter out my email.

I also use TeuxDeux for keeping a list of the things I need to do any given day.

And I cannot stress how wonderful DropMark is for collecting images and organizing them into specific groups.

Jonathan Fields from Good Life Project

untitled.jpgBlog in the margins. Keep an idea capture device with you at all times (Moleskine, voice recorder app, etc). That way, when you’re running around and some insights comes as you’re going from one place to another, you can jot it down immediately, then flesh it out later.

Experiment with short form content (which I’m about to do a bunch of). No such thing as too long or short, only too boring.

Chris Brogan

Most times, jugglers just haven’t learned their priorities, or haven’t chosen to cut out extraneous things.

I don’t watch TV. I don’t surf endlessly. I don’t spend hours at a time staying up on FB and Twitter and getting current with 400 blogs.

I work for my community and that gives me the time I need to create.

Crystal Paine from Money Saving Mom

1. Focus on the things that will give you the biggest return on your investment of time.

For me, that means devoting most of my blogging time to writing posts. Interacting on social media is good and answering emails can be a great way to build relationships, but I’m okay with not always being able to respond to every comment or email if it means that I’m able to devote more time to getting quality posts up on a regular basis. At the end of the day, the quality posts are what are going to give me the biggest return on my investment. Well, unless one of those emails is from some huge blogger or gigantic media company who wants to promote me. :)

2. Use a timer.
Have a set times for how long you’ll spend on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, answering comments, answering emails, etc. and then set a timer and stick with it. I don’t spend much free time on the computer; most of my computer time is scheduled in specific time blocks for specific tasks. This might seem rigid, but it significantly increases my online efficiency. Once I’ve had a really productive stretch of time, I’ll often give myself a short 5 or 10-minute breather to check whatever I want online. And then it’s back to the schedule.

3. Batch everything you can.
Don’t flitter here and there checking Facebook and responding to one comment, checking Twitter and retweeting something, and checking Pinterest to re-pin something all while writing a post and trying to draft an email. Focus on one task at a time and batch those tasks. For instance, I try to schedule a number of posts on Facebook at once or clean out my inbox in one swoop. Multi-tasking rarely increases online productivity.

4. Shut down the distractions.
When I’m writing posts, I usually shut down my email so I can focus on writing posts instead of being distracted by incoming emails. In addition, I’ve turned off all notifications possible on social media so that nothing is beeping or dinging for my attention while I’m trying to concentrate.

5. Outline posts ahead of time.
I rarely write a lengthy posts in one sitting. Usually, I outline the post ahead of time — often while I’m in the middle of doing dishes or even driving (thanks, Siri!). Having a framework in place for my posts ahead of time makes it much easier to flesh out the post when I’m at my computer and ready to write.

Rand Fishkin from SEOMoz

Much like working out, it has to become a habit.

You can build a habit in 30 days if you stick to it and force yourself not to deviate.

In my early blogging days, that’s exactly what I did – I wouldn’t let myself go to bed until the post was live.

Trey Ratcliff from Stuck in Customs

What tips do I have to a “poor blogger who is juggling a busy life”? My response is that everybody is fucking busy, but you make time for what you love.

If you don’t love what you are blogging about, then you obviously are considering it “work” and it’s a “task” on your to-do list. Maybe your blog is about the wrong thing! It’s okay to change, you know… you’re allowed to be many things in life, so pivot to a new subject that you love. And if you’re not sure you love it, then try it for a while, like a child with a piano one week, a skateboard the next, and a guitar the next.

There’s no need to stop behing a childlike in your experimentation when you are an adult.

You’ll find what you love as long as you forgive yourself for failing on many random stabs! Your mom is not standing over you forcing you to play the piano (“blog about BS”) every day. You’re in charge, you know. If it’s something you love, then you crave it, you think about it in the shower, you lose track of time. If you love it, you find a way.

Chris Guillebeau

Well, we all have the same amount of time, and almost everyone is juggling a busy life.

For me it just finally became a priority. I wanted to be a writer for several years before I actually started writing.

Once I made it a priority I could tell it was something I’d be doing for a long time, so I tried to pare down as many other activities as possible to support that focus.

Neil Patel from Quick Sprout

neilpatel_1284435007_44-300x274.jpgHere is a guide to writing a detailed blog post in less than 2 hours.

FROM DARREN: A HUGE thanks to all 14 bloggers above who put aside precious time to respond to my questions! Thanks!

Don’t forget to check out our BlogWise Ebook for more tips on blogging productivity.

14 Bloggers Share Their Daily Blogging Routine

Yesterday I shared some tips for busy bloggers on how to find time to blog based upon a lot of questions I’ve had of late on that topic.

As part of that post I was intending on describing my own blogging routine – but on the spur of the moment decided to email a group of blogging friends to ask them to describe how they go about blogging.

Each have graciously allowed me to share their responses. I hope you find them as fascinating as I do.

My Question to these bloggers was: Can you give us a quick snapshot of your blogging schedule – when do you do it? Do you have a routine or is it more spontaneous?

Tsh Oxenreider from Simple Mom

I have a pretty set routine, simply because it is my job (that I also happen to love)—but that doesn’t mean I don’t also have lots of random things I need to do here and there, which I squeeze in with I can with three little kids. I typically write in the morning, since that’s my brain’s best time, and then I’ll fill in the gaps with tasks that don’t take as much brain power for me. Every day is different, to be honest, but here’s a typical day for me:

  • 6 am—Wake up, personal time, coffee, writing time (if my toddler doesn’t wake up).
  • 7:30-9:00 am—Breakfast with the family, get the kids ready for the day and out to school.
  • 9:00 am-1:00 pm—Work, work, work in my office at home while our babysitter is out in the rest of the house with the boys (my oldest is in school).
  • 1:00 pm—My second goes to preschool and my youngest naps, so I either wrap up work or catch up on household stuff.
  • 3:30 pm—Pick up kids from school, help with homework, start dinner, clean, and other typical mom stuff.
  • 5:30 pm-8:30 pm—Dinner, baths, storytime, family time, bed.
  • 8:30 pm-10:00 pm—Any combination of work catch-up (although I don’t write, I do more brainless stuff, like photo editing, email processing, etc.), but I prefer to do things like watch a movie or read a book.

Chris Garrett

chris_garrett_blogworld.jpgI used to have a routine, now I write when I have something to say, and when I find time (which never seems to happen recently).

In the past I had a proper schedule because at one point I was writing for a dozen blogs and people depended on me to deliver (contractually and out of a feeling of obligation). Like many bloggers, I used an editorial calendar, and such. This makes me feel I should get back to that!

Christina Butcher from Hair Romance

My most productive time is the morning so I get up early and head straight to the computer to write. I just work on blog posts for 1-2 hours.

I ban myself from checking emails or social media as it’s too distracting. I work to an editorial calendar which helps me plan my content, but it’s still flexible so I can add stories at the last minute.

I have a waterproof notepad in the shower as I always get blogging ideas while I’m washing my hair!

Leo Babauta from ZenHabits

leocomputer-300x290.jpgI write every morning, after I meditate upon waking.

But just twice a week is for my actual blog (as opposed to writing for books/courses).

So about an hour, twice a week, first thing in the morning.

Sarah Wilson

I tend to bang out some ideas and clip links as I go and keep about 20 “on the boil” posts in my drafts folder which I add to, patchwork, fiddle with over time.

Each Monday I try to devote to getting my blogs sorted for the week (I post Tuesday – Friday…ish).

I’ll write some afresh, or I pull one that inspires me from my drafts and tidy it up. My gorgeous assistant Jo will often add any links, caption pictures, do some extra research and run an extra eye over things. Invariably I get up on the morning of the post and tinker with it a little…often a bit of distance allows me to bring even more to it.

Neil Patel from Quick Sprout

neilpatel_1284435007_44-300x274.jpgI tend to schedule my blog posts, which means I blog in advance.

The 2 main days I find myself writing each week is Sunday and Wednesday. Typically I blog when I am at home or on the airplane.

As for my routine, I typically think of ideas to write on and then I just start writing.

Nicole Avery from Planning with Kids

Nicole-Avery.pngI have a content plan spanning most of the year. Most of the time, I will write my posts on the weekend. This is when the kids have their dad home to look after them and I can work uninterrupted or at least that is the theory!

As I have a plan for what I am writing, I can look at the topics earlier in the week. This lets ideas and often large chunks of the post, start formulating in my head, when I am doing other things like running. So when I actually sit down to do the task of writing the posts, it is much easier and quicker. I will schedule my posts in advance, so regardless of what happens in the week amongst family life, my posting schedule stays consistent.

If I have extra time and have something I want to say, I will write and post spontaneously, but this would occur only a very small amount of the time.

Tina Roth – Swiss Miss

untitled.jpgI blog in the mornings, mostly.

I have multiple tabs that automatically open to my favorite online stores, specifically to their “new arrivals” pages to get an idea for new products.

I am also so lucky to have loyal readers that send along wonderful things to my submissions email account!

Jonathan Fields from Good Life Project

untitled.jpgFor Good Life Project, we air a new show every Wednesday and often batch shoot 4 episodes in one-day.

For my personal blog, I use a very disciplined methodology I call “When I’ve got something to say, I write.” lol.

Chris Brogan

I blog a lot more spontaneously than not. I often have a core question that the idea of the post bounces against, but the actual “typing it into WordPress” happens quite randomly. For instance, I decided to write a post about Google+ the other day, but I framed it against the “if I’m a business person looking to get my feet wet, here’s a recipe for starting.” That’s the idea (google+) against the core question (how would I get started). I do that.

Crystal Paine from Money Saving Mom

I try to get up at 5 a.m. every day and get in two hours of blogging and computer work before my kids get up (yes, they are late risers!). I then try to get in a few more hours in the afternoon, as well as a few hours on Saturday.

I’ve found that I’m much more productive when I compartmentalise my blogging time and try to leave my laptop and phone in my office as much as is possible so that checking emails and social media is something that I do during blogging hours — instead of during family time or at the dinner table.

Rand Fishkin from SEOMoz

I blog almost exclusively very late at night on weekdays (between 10pm-2am) and on the weekends.

My work schedule is such that these days, that’s the only time I have to quietly reflect, write, build graphics, etc.

Trey Ratcliff from Stuck in Customs

My daily blog post the sweet albatross around my neck. I do it every day before 5 PM in New Zealand so that it appears around midnight in the US, which is still the biggest target market for English-language blogs.

I need to produce 365 unique pieces of photography art per year, so the production of the art actually takes much longer than the actual blog post. Maybe this is why I don’t mind the blog post. The blog post takes 5% of the time of the creation of the art. I write a short description of the photo and talk a bit about the art and the science behind it.

Chris Guillebeau

I have only two (main) posts a week, but they are rigidly scheduled and I’ve never missed one in five years of blogging. The streak helps to produce built-in accountability.

As for the actual writing, that tends to happen more spontaneously. I have a general quota of 1,000 words a day, but that can include a variety of writing. If I’m working on a book manuscript or traveling overseas, sometimes I create the blog posts in advance.

Stay Tuned for More

Tomorrow I’ve got a followup post to this where I ask these 14 bloggers for their key tips for finding time to blog.

Also – don’t forget to check out our eBook on the topic: BlogWise: Discover the Secrets of Productive Bloggers.

From Spark to Sale in 18 Days

Some of you will know that Darren has just headed off for a well earned 10 day break. While enjoying his holiday, Darren has bravely given me the keys to ProBlogger to share a collection of posts – with of course the one condition that I don’t scare you all away :)

Together we’ve picked 5 posts that I do hope you will all enjoy and importantly get something from.

The first is a story, or a mini-case study if you like about SnapnGuides. A new brand and product that went from idea to reality in less than three weeks. Before I get into the nuts and bolts, I want to give you the context behind the SnapnGuides decision…

The Need before the Solution

For some time we’ve talked about creating short mini-guides on Digital Photography School(dPS). There were quite a few potential eBook topics with clear demand that our current publishing process couldn’t meet. The subject matter was valuable, but wasn’t as deep and broad reaching as previous dPS eBooks, thus we could never give them priority over other eBook ideas. We knew with some out of the box thinking, there must be a way to deliver these mini-guides, however there were a couple of considerations we needed to make outside of our publishing priorities.

  1. Historically dPS eBook titles have been significant both in length, subject and market appeal. – In other words they are big books that comprehensively cover a subject that most photographers would be interested in. Our mini-guides on other hand are quick reads that cover a topic within a specific photography niche.
  2. Prices of dPS eBooks are between $20 and $30, due to their size, scale and comprehensiveness. – We couldn’t charge the same as existing eBooks for our mini-guides. Correction, we could have, and some people would have been happy to pay, but we felt $7-$10 was more appropriate. The risk was if we launched lower priced eBooks on dPS it could devalue the larger eBooks.
  3. The value of the dPS brand is something you only carefully tinker with. – Millions and millions of people visit dPS every month to help improve their photography. It’s built on a foundation of value both through the free content on the blog and great discussions in the community but also the content available through the eBooks. These new mini-guides were a new, unknown entity for us. Our standards of quality would always be maintained however they were shorter, cheaper and more niche. The impact they would have on the dPS brand was unknown for us — and presented quite a risk.

A quick rule of thumb about brand impact. If you’re thinking of making a change that may impact your brand, I like to ask the questions “Will this change the way other people describe my brand? How will it change? Is that a change I want?” In the case of our mini-guides it would be “I got this great little book from dPS, it only cost me $10 and was perfect for me as I like X.”

Enter SnapnDeals then SnapnGuides

Talking through these issues, Darren and I first considered SnapnDeals as a place to publish the new mini-guides. We could still leverage the dPS audience to bring awareness to the guides and given SnapnDeals is more about deals and cheaper prices this seemed a good fit. The problem with SnapnDeals was that it’s sole purpose is time limited offers on photography products, not publishing it’s own products. Adding this new dimension to the brand might dilute its original purpose. We ummed and aahhed about this for a while before finally coming up with the answer. Solution:Create a new brand under the ‘Snapn’ sentiment but focused on publishing and thus SnapnGuides was born. It …

  1. Allowed us to define a new, ‘fit for purpose’ brand
  2. Presented little or no risk to the dPS brand
  3. Came with no existing price expectation

However what that meant was, we needed to a start a brand and website from scratch and due to scheduling we had only three short weeks to get it done. Always up for a challenge, it was time to make it so.

Building SnapnGuides in three weeks

Given the time pressures we had to adhere to three basic rules.

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Leverage what we can
  3. Fine tune later

Keep it simple

In a perfect world we would have designed a new theme for the site, installed WordPress, got it on our main hosting platform but that takes time. Instead we chose to launch the site and brand with one single page, the sales page for the book. If it’s successful (more on that later) we’ll do it right. We also kept the people involved to a minimum to keep decision making simple. There was Darren, Jasmine and Myself and all decisions were made within a 30 second Skype chat.

Leverage what we can

We’ve already got a good system set up for selling dPS eBooks. We did want to separate the brand where possible, but leverage what we already had where needed. For example we are using the same Paypal account as dPS however have a separate payment email address and an independent e-junkie account (shopping cart) so we could keep the experience on brand.

Fine tune later

I’m not a perfectionist like say my friend Matt Magain, but I do like it when things just work. That said, when there is a time pressure, you need to come to terms with the fact that you’re not going to get everything right upfront. You’ll be fine as long as the fundamentals are there — you can always circle back and fix up the rest.

The process

I thought I’d share the actual process we went through (outside of creating the mini-guide itself).

Hosting and domain

  1. Register and setup the domain
  2. Create hosting environment (see note below)

Sales page

  1. Wireframe and write copy for the sales page
  2. Hand the wireframe to a designer
  3. Review and finalise design (artwork only)
  4. Hand the design to HTML and CSS coder
  5. Review and test web page
  6. Load up to the hosting environment.

Hosting the site: For ProBlogger and dPS we use synthesis from CopyBlogger however, we were eager to play with a new service called site44.com. How this works is it simply creates a dropbox folder for your website which you save the files too, it syncs and your site is live. It’s sits on Amazons server cloud so can take just about any traffic you can throw at it. We did go the paid option but did all our testing on the free plan. It’s very cool.

eCommerce

  1. Create a new e-junkie account for SnapnGuides
  2. Create a new email alias for current Paypal account
  3. Link new email alias to e-junkie account
  4. Set up and load SnapnGuide product
  5. Integrate with sales page (above) and test.

Prelaunch

  1. Final changes to the landing page. (I tend to make lots of changes here)
  2. Independent review and test of sales page. (more changes again)
  3. eCommerce check (actually buy the product yourself)
  4. Scalability test

Then of course there’s the launch, but that’s a whole series of posts!

The result

It was a late night on the date of launch (most of them are) but as I fell asleep at 3AM I was really happy with what we’ve been able to create in such a small period of time. That smile widened when I checked in on the sales a little later in the morning. Suffice to say that our experiment was a success and we’re likely to see more SnapnGuides in the future. Doing things that other people say can’t be done, in timeframes that seem impossible is really a part of my everyday life. But I’d love to hear any stories you might have in launching a new product under a time constraint and of course if you agree or disagree with anything above.

Group Writing Project: Write a ‘Discussion’ Post

Over the last week here on ProBlogger we’ve been digging deeper into the topic of ‘building community’ on a blog. See the series at:

Today it’s time for an opportunity for you to do something practical to actually build community on your blog – to create a discussion post as part of this weeks ‘Group Writing Project’.

What is a Group Writing Project?

These projects are quite simple – I name a type of blog post to write and ProBlogger readers all go and write a post on their blogs that fits into that theme and then come back here to let us know about the post.

The aim is to give you the chance to practice writing a different type of blog post but also for readers of ProBlogger to discover one another and to drive some traffic to your blog!

I’ll outline how to participate below.

What is a ‘Discussion Post’

This weeks series of posts has been about building community and deepening reader engagement on blogs. One of the techniques I described was something I do at Digital Photography School where on a semi-regular basis I write a post that is simply a question for readers to discuss.

The post doesn’t teach anything, express any opinion and is usually pretty short – it simply asks a question and allows readers to have their say.

Here are a few examples from dPS:

Feel free to take that approach or to take the challenge in another direction.

For example you might like to

  • start a debate
  • run a poll
  • give readers a chance to write a tip
  • take a reader question and post it for the community to answer

Really anything that is primarily aimed at getting readers discussing and commenting upon the post.

What if I don’t Have Any Readers to Discuss

The challenge with writing a ‘discussion post’ is that you may not feel you have enough readers to get discussion.

Please don’t let this stop you – hopefully by participating we’ll be able to send you a little traffic but if you’re lacking readers here’s a couple of tips:

  1. As a friend to comment – this was something I used to do in my early years. I didn’t do it with every post but certainly when a post was about getting a discussion going I would often email a friend (especially blogging friends) to ask (or beg) for a comment. Of course I’d repay the favour when they asked too.
  2. Kick off the discussion yourself – in the old days of my first blog I would write a question in the post and be the first commenters to kick things off. Feels a bit odd but it does sometimes work to get the discussion going

Sometimes just finding the first person to leave a comment is all it takes to get a discussion going.

Here’s How To Participate

Here’s how to participate and put yourself in the running for a prize (please note – one entry per person – not per blog and please only submit NEW posts).

1. Post a ‘Discussion’ Post

  • Be as creative as you’d like – take it in any direction you want – it can be on any topic (keep it clean and ‘family friendly please), it can be serious, funny – what ever you like
  • Give your post a good title. Once all the posts are listed it’ll only be your title that sets it apart from others. It doesn’t have to have the words ‘discuss’ in the title – but if can if you wish.
  • Feel free to write your post in your own first language – I’ve previously included a number of non-english posts and am excited by the prospect of making this a multi-lingual project.
  • Please consider putting a link back to this post here on ProBlogger on your post so that your readers know you’re participating. You don’t have to do this – but it’d be appreciated to help grow the project.

2. Let us Know about your Post

  • Once you’ve posted your ‘Discussion Post’ let us know about it by leaving a comment below. Please make sure you include your name, your post title and the URL to your How to post.
  • Comments must be received by midnight on Friday 12th April to be included in the prize draw (it will runs little longer this time as I’ll be travelling).

3. Surf Surf Surf

  • This is where the project has potential to get pretty cool. Surf the submissions received in the comments below. Leave comments, make connections with other ProBlogger readers and enjoy reading what others have to say. By surfing each others links you’ll hopefully find some cool new blogs but also make some new connections (which may well lead to people visiting your blog too!

4. Link, Tweet, Share

  • There is no formal ‘judging’ of the ‘discussion posts’ received as this is not a competition. Instead – I encourage you to surf through the links left in the comments below and not only comment but share those with your own network that you like the most. Link to them on your blog (you might even like to write a ‘top 5′ post), Tweet out some links to the ones you like or share them on Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn etc. Share a little love and you might find it comes back at you!
  • Probably the best part of the last group project was the amount of inter-linking I see happening between participating bloggers as a result of their posts. It’s obvious that people found new blogs through it and that the benefits of participating was way beyond getting a link here on ProBlogger me but flowed on to a lot of new connections and links between other bloggers.

5. Prizes

  • After 12th April I’ll randomly draw a winner and announce them on the blog. The winner will get a copy of each eBook in the ProBlogger Library of eBooks.

How to Build Community on a Blog: 24 Must Read Articles from around the Web

This week we’ve published a series of posts on the topic of building community on a blog with these posts:

Today Jade Craven continues this series by looking at what others around the web have written on the topic of building community on blogs.

There is a lot of conversation around the topic of building a community around your blog. It is a fantastic technique, but it is actually an extremely complex issue. The ‘rules’ differ for each community. A business blog doesn’t have the same goals as a personal blogger.

In this post, I curate my favourite resources on building a engaged and loyal blog community.

Think about what is important to you.

There are several things you will need to consider before deciding on what strategies to use.

Strategies:

Make readers famous.

In an earlier post about building community. Darren recommended that you make a reader famous. Here are some examples I have seen within my own community.

  • Gavin Aung Than regularly interacts with his a community – most notably through his ‘readers of the month’ feature. As a result, he has a highly engaged audience who will rapidly share his content and help out with tasks such as translating the comics.
  • Scott Dinsmore has a ‘Reader Spotlight‘ series.

Do you know of any other ways bloggers have made their readers famous?

Blog commenting

 Other ideas:

 Cool resources:

Looking for some more advice? Check out these articles!

9 Benefits [and 3 Costs] Of Building Community On Your Blog

Do you ever feel – as you blog – like you’re talking to an empty room?

Day after day you publish posts only to have them greeted by….

If that is how you feel – then you’re not alone. In fact one of the most common questions that I hear from bloggers is:

“How do I get my readers to interact with me?”

Over the next week I’d like to suggest some ways to increase reader engagement and would love to hear how you do it on your blog too in comments below.

But first – today I’d like to talk about WHY community and interaction on a blog is so important.

Blogging – More than Just Creating Content

There is no one way to build a successful blog but in my experience a blog really comes alive when there is at least some level of community on… or around… the the blog.

Perhaps the best example I can think of to illustrate this is the time I started Digital Photography School (my main blog).

When I launched dPS in 2006 I launched it without comments being activated on the blog. This was an experiment to see what impact not having comments would have on a new blog.

I quickly discovered that by starting a blog in this way had quite a few negative impacts upon the site – the main one being that not having reader feedback just felt plain weird and left ME as the blogger thirsting for interaction with readers. I guess I’d become used to getting readers engagement on my other blogs and without it just felt ‘wrong’ for my style of blogging.

Within a few weeks I’d not only turned comments back on at dPS but was already working towards starting a photography forum on the site too!

The impact of adding more and more opportunity for community engagement on the site was immediate and big. Page views went up, repeat/loyal readership increased and I feel the quality of the site also improved.

Why Build Community on Your Blog?

Lets take a bit deeper look at some of the benefits of focusing upon reader engagement and building community on your blog.

1. Community Increases Your Blog’s Usefulness

Right from the early days of ProBlogger my mantra has always been that a good blog is a useful blog.

If you’re not being useful to your readers on some level (and being useful can be many things from being informative, to entertaining, to keeping them up to date) it is very difficult to have success with your blog.

My experience of having community on a blog is that it makes the blog exponentially more useful – something James Surowiecki wrote about in his useful book – The Wisdom of Crowds.

Together we are a lot smarter than any single one of us.

I’ve seen this many times over on my blogs. While I work hard to have as much expertise on my topics there will always be things I don’t know but which my readership has experience and insight.

For example I once received an email from a reader – Mandy – asking how she should go about photographing her dying grandmother with dignity. This was a long way out of my expertise so I asked my readership and we had over 90 responses.

Without the community on dPS I would have been unable to help Mandy.

This is a fairly extreme example but I see it in action on a daily basis in the comments sections of my blogs when readers have their questions answered by others in the community.

Ultimately for me – increasing your blog’s usefulness to readers is the number 1 reason to build community on your blog. However there are other reasons too.

2. Community Builds Social Proof

Have you ever chosen to eat in a restaurant purely because you can see it is popular with other patrons or passed by one that is empty?

If so – you understand the concept of social proof.

People attract people in all kinds of places – a blog is no exception.

It is much easier to attract and get engagement from a reader if there is already engagement from other readers.

I’ve seen this numerous times on my blogs (but also social media accounts). The more genuine interaction you have on your blog the easier it is to convince others that your blog is worth a second visit.

3. Community Increases Page Views

Page views won’t matter as much to some readers of ProBlogger as others but for those of you monetizing your blog with advertising you might want to take note.

Page views are important for those using Ad networks like AdSense or selling ads directly to sponsors because the more times the ads are seen on your blog the more you’ll be able to earn.

Community increases page views. If someone leaves a comment on your blog on most blogs that means 2 page views instead of 1. That person is also more likely to return to see if others leave a comment responding to theirs so you’re up to 2, 4 or 5 page views (and even more if a conversation between readers emerges).

Add a forum area to your blog and the average pages viewed per visitor can skyrocket – we regularly see as many as 10 pages view per visit on the Digital Photography School Forum.

4. Community Makes Your Blog More Attractive to Advertisers

Speaking of advertising as a model to monetize your blog – I’ve discovered over the last few years of selling advertising directly to advertisers on dPS that many advertisers are looking to not only see their banner ads on a site – but they are willing to pay for engagement with your readers.

One of the best examples of this is an annual competition we’ve run on dPS to give away a price from one of our regular site sponsors.

This competition is part of an advertising bundle that we run with this sponsor (they also run some banner ads but also sponsor our newsletter regularly).

While they get value out of the banner ads and newsletter ads that they run it is the competition that really converts well for them because it gets our readers visiting their website and engaging with the products that they offer (because to enter the competition you need to leave a comment saying which product you’d like to win and why).

This is the third year in a row we’ve run this particular competition and we’ve had 700+ comments left on each year we’ve run it.

5. Community Makes Your Blog Easier to Create and Sell Products

Back in 2005 I ran a series of blog posts here on ProBlogger titled – 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. The project was so successful that I ran the project again in 2007 and then again in 2009.

Each time I ran the project it grew larger and larger and readers became more and more engaged with the concept but also with the rest of my blog (it was a great community building project in and of itself).

At the end of the 2009 project a strange thing happened – my readers began to beg me to compile the 31 posts I’d written that year into a PDF… to sell to them as an eBook.

Yes you heard it – out of a period of intense reader interaction and delivering tangible value my readers asked me to sell them a product.

Not only did they ask me to create a product – 31 Days to Build a Better Blog (now updated into it’s 2nd edition) went on to become my biggest selling eBook.

This illustrates just how powerful community is if you’re looking to monetize your blog through selling products of some kind.

I’ve seen the same thing happening on dPS where we’ve developed 11 photography eBooks – the readers who buy our products are often the most engaged members of our communities and interestingly when a discussion happens in our forum area on topics covered in our eBook it is our community members who ‘sell’ our eBooks to new members the best.

6. Community Makes Your Blog More Attractive to Sell

Over the years I’ve had a number of companies offer to buy my blogs. While I’m not looking to sell them it is always an interesting discussion to have.

In most cases the conversation starts with a potential buyer interested in your traffic numbers and income – however what I’ve noticed is that when you begin to talk about the high level of reader engagement that you have on your bog many buyers become a lot more interested and start talking about higher purchase prices.

This will depend a little on the business model of a potential buyer – but I’ve seen this happen on at least 3 occasions in the last few years.

Community makes your blog more attractive to potential buyers.

7. Community Creates an Army of Advocates and Evangelists

An engaged and loyal reader is a powerful thing – not only because they’ll make your site useful and might buy your products – but because they are also much more likely to help you grow what you do.

This happens very naturally really – when you help someone on a daily basis and they feel a sense of belonging to your site they’re highly likely to tell someone about your blog.

I’ve seen it time and time again. I’ll often meet readers at a conference and ask them how they first became readers – the story is regularly ‘I am friends with Jim/Sarah/Bill/Joe/Anne… and they told me what a great site it was’.

Engaged readers don’t only help find you new readers – they can help you in many other ways.

Example 1: Several years ago one of my readers emailed me with an introduction to a New York Times journalist that they knew who was looking for someone to interview for a story. A week later dPS was featured in that publication.

Example 2: Around the same time a group of readers started a campaign to get our site on the radar of Canon and Nikon because they wanted them to advertise on dPS. They started a petition and did end up helping us land a small advertising campaign!

8. Community Can Help with User Generated Content

In a similar way – engaged readers who feel that they belong are more likely to contribute to your site by generating content for it.

This again may not be something that all bloggers are interested in – however if you’re looking to supplement your own content with guest posts from readers it can be an effective way of generating such content.

The other aspect of this is that you may not want to feature full posts from readers – but having engaged readers can help you generate other kinds of content.

For example I recently asked readers of my Google+ Account to share with us their advice on the topic of ‘finding your voice’ as a blogger.

I had some great responses and am compiling the answers into a post for ProBlogger (to which I’ll add some of my own thoughts). While not a ‘guest post’ as such it brings the wisdom of readers out of my social media community areas and onto the blog.

In the past I’ve done exactly the same thing by asking readers for their advice in the comments section of a blog and bringing those comments into a blog post.

9. Community Brings More Personal Satisfaction to Blogging

When I first drafted this post I didn’t have this point but on reflection of my last decade of blogging perhaps the biggest benefit of having community on my blogs has been it exponentially increases the personal satisfaction I’ve received from blogging.

I’ve had 30 or so blogs in the last 10 years and the ones in which I’ve invested into the community and had readers invest back into it have been the ones that I’ve been able to sustain over many years.

The blogs where community didn’t really click (and this can be the result of many factors) were blogs that I found most difficult sustain – probably because I wasn’t getting the engagement, feedback and encouragement of readers.

Maybe it is just me – although I suspect not – but it is community that is a fuel that feeds my blogs. Without it I can only sustain them so long!

The Costs of Community

The benefits of building community on a blog are many (and I would encourage you to add more that you’ve experienced to the comments section below) however it would not be balanced of me to talk about the benefits of building community on a blog without at least acknowledging that there are some ‘costs’ involved.

1. Building Community on a Blog Takes Time

Relationships and community don’t just appear out of thin air. They take time – in two ways:

  1. Firstly – building true community is something that generally takes a long period of time to gradually happen. While you can get comments on your first blog post – to get readers deeply engaged can take months… and years. We’ll talk more about how to build this culture of community on a blog in the coming days.
  2. Secondly – once you have community (and building community) can be something of a time suck and if you’re time poor it can be a challenge to do on a day by day basis.

2. Building Community can be an Emotional Roller-coaster

Building relationships with readers can be something of an emotional roller coaster.

In the early days it can be incredibly disheartening when community doesn’t seem to be happening despite your very best efforts.

But then in the longer term after community does begin to happen it can be so difficult to maintain once your community begins to pull in different directions and on those occasions when things go badly.

When community goes well it can be powerful – but when trolls, spammers or competitors infiltrate it can make you wonder why you bother at all!

3. Community Can be a Little Risky

I can think of a few instances over the years when a ‘community’ or readership of a blog have turned against a blogger and have really hurt the brand of a blog.

While these instances are certainly in the minority it is worth noting that if you’re not willing to invest into a community and lead it that you leave your blog’s brand in a vulnerable position.

We’ll talk more about this in the coming days as we talk about how to build a good culture of community on a blog.

How to Build Community on a Blog

In the coming days here at ProBlogger I want to explore the idea of building community and deepening reader engagement on a blog further.

Tomorrow we’ll take a look at 5 stages of building a Culture of Community on a Blog and then the following day we’ll get a little more concrete and look at 7 Strategies for Growing Community on Your Blog.

As always – subscribe to our newsletter by adding your email address below for a wrap up email at the end of this series so you don’t miss out!

Financial Planning for Bloggers

We all strive to have our personal finances in order.   Managing our financial resources wisely brings peace, security, and allows us to utilize our financial resources on in ways that are important to us.

Proper financial planning requires work and diligence and tends to be more of a continuous process rather than a one-time event that you can check off your list and be done with.

Financial planning is also full of pitfalls for the unwary.  This is especially true for those who have taken the leap to start a small business or become self employed, such as many bloggers.

I discuss below some of the most important financial planning issues faced by bloggers and in particular how those issues change and become more complicated once you become self employed.

Although I am specifically referring to financial planning issues faced by American bloggers, many of these principles will also likely apply to bloggers in other countries as well.

Cash Flow & Budgeting

Managing cash flow is something that many people struggle with, especially those who are self employed.  Salaried employees generally receive a regular pay check that they can count on.  When you are self employed though, your cash flow is likely much less certain and may vary from month to month.  To ensure that you always have the cash necessary to make ends meet, consider doing the following:

  • Set up a budget.  During higher earning months, make sure you are putting money aside to be used during lower-earning months.
  • Create an emergency fund that can be used in the event of a large, unexpected expense so you don’t have to go into debt or pawn your wedding ringThis fund should be liquid and easily accessible in the event of an emergency, but should not be used for any other discretionary spending.  Conventional wisdom says to save at least 3-6 months worth of living expenses in your emergency fund, but the appropriate amount will vary by person.  For the self employed, it may be wise to have even more saved up.

Estate Planning

Estate planning is the process of putting in place legally effective arrangements whereby a person can accomplish important goals, such as the following:

  • Plan for incapacity
  • Reduce or eliminate potential fees and taxes
  • Plan for business continuity
  • Avoid probate
  • Appoint guardians for minor children
  • Protect assets
  • Spell out healthcare wishes
  • Ensure an efficient distribution of assets

Just about everyone should have an estate plan in place.  It is one of the most important components of a good personal financial plan, yet it also tends to be one of the most neglected.  I can’t tell you how many new clients I have met with who haven’t had an estate plan in place.

This is especially true for the self employed business owner/blogger.  Sadly, it is not uncommon to see people work hard during their lives to create a valuable business only to throw it to the wind at their death.

We may never have our houses burn down and we may never become disabled, but we will all die some day.  Hopefully this is not news to anybody.  If you have worked hard to create a valuable blog, what will happen to it should you suddenly die or become incapacitated?  Additionally, who will take care of your minor children and how and to whom do you want your assets distributed?  Put in place leally effective arrangements so that your personal affairs and your business will be in order no matter what the future holds.

Risk Management & Insurance

We all face certain risks in life.  Some of these are best avoided, while others may be hedged against using insurance or other appropriate risk management strategies.

If you are a self employed blogger, many of the financial risks you face in life are no different than those faced by employees, and many of the commonly used strategies to protect yourself are also the same:

  • Death – Life Insurance
  • Auto Accident – Auto Insurance
  • Fire, Damage, Accident at Home – Homeowners Insurance
  • Health Care Expenses – Health Insurance
  • Disability – Disability Insurance
  • Long Term Care – Long Term Care Insurance
  • Personal Liability – Umbrella/Personal Liability Insurance
  • Dental Care – Dental Insurance

The difference, however, lies in how you obtain this protection.  Employers commonly provide certain types of insurance to their employees as part of their employee benefits, including the following:

  • Life Insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Disability Insurance
  • Dental Insurance

If you are self employed, you likely still face many of the same risks in life, but you must obtain this insurance on your own.

Small business owners may also be subject to additional risk that an employee may not be, such as certain types of legal liability.  Forming an appropriate legal entity or obtaining additional insurance for your blog/business may be appropriate methods of dealing with these risks.

Retirement Planning

We all know the importance of saving for retirement.  Many employers provide their employees with a retirement plan such as a 401(k) as part of their benefits.  Employees generally have the option of automatically contributing a certain percentage of each paycheck to their 401(k).  Employers may even provide matching contributions up to certain limits.  Most of the work in setting up and administering the plan is done for the employee, so there is very little that the employee has to worry about.

It’s a different story for the self employed.  If you are self employed, you must generally open up your own retirement account or plan.  Nobody will do that for you.

The most common types of retirement plans for the self employed include the following:

  • SEP IRA
  • SIMPLE IRA
  • Solo 401(k)

Each of these retirement plans has its pros and cons, so use one that is appropriate for you.  Learning how to invest and diligently saving for retirement can help you achieve your retirement goals.

Taxes

Taxes are the single biggest annual expenditure for many people.  Taxes significantly affect just about every area of financial planning.

Doing some simple tax planning and understanding some basic tax principles can go a long way in reducing your tax bill and keeping more of your hard earned money in your own pocket.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe we should all obey the laws of the land and pay whatever tax we legally owe.  However, I also know that with a little bit of foresight and planning that amount can oftentimes be reduced.

As a CPA, I spend a lot of my time helping clients stay tax compliant and finding ways to legally and ethically reduce their tax liability.  Unless you enjoy paying for the alcohol at the White House holiday parties, I suggest you also take a close look at your taxes.

Taxes tend to be a huge pitfall for the self employed in particular.  Here are just a few of many issues to consider:

  • Choice of entity:  Are you using an appropriate business entity for your blog?  This will likely affect your taxes as well as other important issues, such as your legal liability.
  • Estimated tax payments:  If you are a self employed blogger and your blog is profitable, are you making periodic estimated tax payments to the government?  If not, you could potentially be charged interest and penalties depending on your situation.
  • Financial and tax recordkeeping:  Are you keeping proper tax and financial records?  If you were audited by the IRS, would you be able to substantiate the positions you took on your return?
  • Employer Identification Number: Are you splashing your social security number all over the internet?  Depending on your particular situation, it may be appropriate to obtain an employer identification number that you can use instead of your social security number.

The Bottom Line

We all strive to manage our personal finances wisely.  Financial planning requires knowledge, diligence, and work.  It is full of pitfalls for the unwary, especially those that have taken the leap to start a small business or become self employed like many bloggers today.

Disclaimer:  It is impossible to give specific professional advice in an article written to a general audience.  The above article is therefore provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional legal, financial, or tax advice.  Should you need such advice, seek out and consult a qualified professional who can give advice on your specific situation.

This post is written by LD, a CPA and CFP® who blogs at Personal Finance Insider. You can sign up for his free personal finance e-course, which covers all of the major topics in a good personal financial plan (including those discussed in this article) here.