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What My Wife Has Taught Me About Blogging After Just 3 Months

Next week marks the 3 month anniversary of Vanessa (my wife) starting her first blog at Style and Shenanigans.

It’s been a fascinating process to watch her plan, launch and grow her blog.

Some might imagine that being married to ‘the ProBlogger’ means she’s constantly being told what to do and being given secret tips and advice – however I’ve been remarkably restrained in my involvement and very impressed by what she’s intuitively built already.

While she’s not got a huge readership – it continues to grow and it has already opened up some pretty cool opportunities for her.

In fact having watched her over these last 3 months I have been somewhat inspired and learned a lot and in this post want to share some of the things I think she’s done well that have helped her to grow her blog’s traffic and profile already.

My hope is that in doing so it’ll help others at the beginning of their blogging journey to get their blogs rolling.

1. Focus Upon Community Management

Perhaps the #1 thing that I’ve been impressed with so far is Vanessa’s commitment to engaging with her readership.

This has shone through in a number of ways including:

  • writing in an engaging style – most of her posts end with a question that invites comment
  • every comment on the blog is responded to
  • every comment on her Facebook Page is responded to
  • every incoming Tweet to our Twitter account is responded to

This is partly just who Vanessa is (she’s very engaging and inclusive in real life) but was something that probably stretched her a little too. I remember in the early days when she would get comments from people she didn’t know for the first few times it was certainly a bizarre feeling for her to engage with them – but she’s fully into the swing of things now!

Interestingly she’s now well and truly passed the tipping point of having more ‘strangers’ reading her blog and following her on Facebook and Twitter than she has ‘real life’ friends.

2. Personal/Personality Driven Content

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 8.15.43 pmI wrote a few weeks ago about Vanessa’s first foray into including a few ‘selfies’ on the blog. These more personal ‘Everyday Style’ posts have continued and have been received well (they’ve been the most commented posts on the site). In fact her ‘Everyday Style’ series of posts have become something she’s become well known for of late.

Other experiments with a more personal style of content included a post about a dinner party we threw for a few friends and a couple of posts about a short trip we took.

And then there’s Facebook…. this for me has been one of the most fascinating parts of the journey because her blog Facebook Page has gone ‘off topic’ and into a more personal space than I would have predicted.

There are certainly the predictable updates that are links to new posts on the blog – but mixed in are plenty of slightly more personal updates. Photos from things she’s doing, questions, funny family moments, personal quick tips and random off topic humorous posts.

The result is that she’s got a page with pretty high engagement – in fact if I had the engagement she had on my pages relative to how many people were ‘liking’ my pages I’ve be over the moon!

3. Helpful Content

The other key thing that I think is going to work in Vanessa’s favour is that the bulk of her content on the blog is ‘helpful’ and solves problems for readers.

V is what Malcom Gladwell would describe a ‘Maven’. She is a gatherer of information, a watcher of trends and LOVES sharing what she finds. She’s been doing this on the topic of style in her friendship circles since before I met her and her blog is an extension of that.

The bulk of her content reflects that and is basically her curated collections of different themes of fashion and home wares.

Her typical posts feature a collection of suggested products on a colour style or brand theme and the comments I see on them are often people saying thanks for the suggestions.

Also of interest to me is that I’m starting to see readers leave messages asking for advice on particular areas based upon her posts.

4. Understanding the Audience

Her 7am post - got decent engagement.

Her 7am post – got decent engagement.

This morning Vanessa was posting an update to Facebook at 7am and I suggested that it might be a bit too early in the morning for her readers to be checking Facebook.

She responded that it was one of her best times of day and that when she posted that early she often got a lot of responses by 8am as people checked their phones over breakfast.

I had my doubts but as I ate my porridge I watched the comments come in on Facebook and the blog and realised she had her finger on the rhythms of her readership perfectly.

Also of interest is that she’s already noticed that some days of the week seem to get more comments on posts than others and that certain types of Facebook updates at certain times of the day get more interaction.

This is golden information!

5. Getting OFF her Blog

I’m always talking here on ProBlogger about how important it is to ‘get off your blog’ if you want to grow traffic and to monetise your blog.

Vanessa has intuitively started to do this without much prompting at all.

It is a challenge – she’s a busy person with 3 active boys (two home during the day), working a day a week, involved in a variety of community activities etc – but she’s going beyond just writing content and responding to comments.

This has happened in a variety of ways including:

  • when she’s mentioned brands or other sites in her posts she lets them know (this has already led to one brand suggesting that they might like to work with her and others linking up to her blog!)
  • reading and engaging on other relevant sites/Facebook pages
  • involvement in a small Facebook group for other bloggers in her niche
  • responding to opportunities that other bloggers and media have already offered her to guest post on them

By no means is it easy to get everything done (and there will always be more that you can do) but I’m always amazed at what happens when you push open doors and get active about engaging off your blog with others.

The key lesson here is to not just build a great blog and expect good things to happen to you. You need to take some initiative and get off your blog to see those good things come into being!

6. Involving Others

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 8.22.52 pmIt was several years after I started blogging that I even considered the possibility of other people writing content on my blogs. That’s not the case for Vanessa.

Just 3 months in she’s already had two guest posts. Both have been submitted by the one person – a good family friend – but both posts have added something to the blog that V couldn’t have written herself.

The key is that she’s found someone who writes in a similar voice and that the posts have complemented existing content on the blog (for example this post from Mandy on toys for Girls was a follow up to one V wrote on toys for boys).

7. Visuals and Creating Content for Social

CR-CollageA couple of weeks ago I shared some great image creation tools that I use to create visual content for my blogs. Vanessa is also a convert to PicMonkey and Canva and a regular feature of her posts are collages of the products that she’s talking about.

I suspect that the visual element of her blogging will only evolve in time but these simple collages have been really popular with readers and I think are a big part of the reason that her Facebook Page has had great engagement.

Visual content is gold – particularly on social!!!

Lots More to Learn

By no means am I suggesting that Vanessa has arrived or is a poster child of blogging. She has a lot more to learn (as do I). I just have loved watching her growth and development in these early months.

What did you learn about blogging in the first few months that has stuck with you ever since?

Five Lessons Any Blogger Can Learn from Organized Crime

This is a guest contribution from Steven Gomez.

Image courtesy of Boaz Yiftach / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Boaz Yiftach / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Crime in America has many names. There is the Mafia, the Mob, the National Crime Syndicate, or “La Costa Nostra” – Italian for “This Thing of Ours.” In addition to the colorful names and faces are the larger-than-life personalities that turned crime in America literally into a “booming” industry.

Figures like Lucky Luciano, John Gotti, Meyer Lansky, “Bugsy” Siegel, and Scarface Al Capone grew the mob from a bunch of small-time criminals to an empire.

What can a blogger learn from the worst criminals in America? Well, loads of bad stuff, but also some truly epic lessons in how to create a great blog.

1) Provide Your Tribe with an Identity and a Brand They Can Care About

Crime is neither glamorous nor attractive, and criminals tend not to be society’s best and brightest. No one brags about being a drug pusher, a purse snatcher, or a mugger. Yet the idea of being a “Made Man” has an allure and mystique that even Hollywood finds irresistible.

An associate is brought into a dark basement filled with shadowy figures and his finger is pricked. Blood is drawn and a lit prayer card is placed in his cupped hand, the ashes mingling with his blood. He is told that he now has a family that supersedes the one he was born into. A family that values honour and loyalty above all, demands total obedience, and offers prosperity, wealth, and respect.

The reality of the Mafia is decidedly different, but the appeal of being “Made” by the Mob has a romance that is hard to ignore.

It is an identity that promises distinction.

Author Scott Sigler calls his long-time readers “Junkies” and the Noir Factory, my blog, refers to its subscribers as “Confidential Informants.”

While no one is suggesting that you set prayer cards on fire, and – depending on your blog – it may be very inappropriate to demand blood-letting, you should instill that same kind of identity in your tribe.

If you can capture that sense of romance, that same loyalty in your readers, then you not only have a tribe, you have a “family.” Let the identity serve as a badge of honour.

2) Work with Your “Competition” to Create New Opportunities

For years after the Mafia came to America, they were ruled by the Capo di tutti capi, also known as the “Godfather” or “Boss of Bosses.”  This worked well for the Mob if the Capo was an intelligent and sensible man who was interested in the organisation’s well-being and growth.

More often than not this was not the case.

In 1929, Meyer Lansky gathered the heads of the strongest Prohibition-era gangs in America. Combining his wedding with a business conference (he was a romantic at heart) Lansky brought together diverse faces in the crime world, including many who had never worked together before. For the first time, the Irish mob, the Italian mob, and the Jewish mob all sat down together.

Lansky made them see that the Prohibition Wars caused them to lose business as well as manpower and was something that they could avoid. By working together the bosses from Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York formed a governing body, called The Commission, which would meet every five years and would also decide on internal issues as needed.

In one of the Commission’s first exercises of power, Dutch Shultz questioned their authority to have prosecutor Thomas Dewey killed.  Shultz was killed by Murder Inc. shortly afterward for challenging the Commission.

Again, while we do not recommend that you enter into illicit partnerships with criminals, it’s important to remember that YOURS in not the only voice in your chosen niche. You might not form a Commission with those other voices, but imagine the kind of effect you can have on your readers by partnering with the leaders in your field.

Even if you aren’t a leader in your niche yet, by reaching out to the “bosses” of your niche you can increase your sphere of influence exponentially, and increase your readers’ engagement.

3) Network with Your Peers Outside Your Comfort Zone

Like the Atlantic City Conference that built the Commission, the men who would become known as the “Crime Syndicate” chose to meet in interesting places not only to talk business but to build their relationships.

In places like Havana, Atlantic City, and Apalachin, New York, mobsters met with others of their kind to drink, tell jokes, and talk business. In other industries, branding strategies and logistics might be the main topics. With the mob conventions, it was all about hostile takeovers.

At the Apalachin Convention, the mob discussed the distribution of gaming interests throughout the US. In Havana the bosses made decisions regarding working with the Sicilian crime lords and how best to deal with the high profile, money skimming liability that was Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel.

You (hopefully) won’t engage in the same kind of networking, but you can connect with the movers-and-shakers in your niche and work towards solving common problems and cementing relationships.

For many entrepreneurs and bloggers, making acquaintances and building friendships lead to interview opportunities, traffic building exercises, and even the odd friendship or two.

4) Always Look to Expand Your Empire

Before Bugsy Siegel became a liability to the mob, he was seen as a young man of vision. A rising star in the east, Siegel was a close friend of mob boss Meyer Lansky and a boyhood pal of Al Capone. His lasting contribution to the mob, however, led him into the west.

Moving to California and embracing the Hollywood lifestyle, Siegel made the acquaintance of William R. Wilkerson, who was building the Flamingo Hotel. Shoe-horning himself in as the liaison between Wilkerson and the mob, Siegel became a guiding force for the mob’s gambling presence in Las Vegas.

While Siegel’s vision led him to a less-than-happy ending, as a blogger, when you are looking to expand your presence, you can learn from Siegel’s example.

Look for new territories that are complementary to your niche. If you write for single mom entrepreneurs, look for other markets that would interest a single mom, and connect with the voices in that field. If you are writing about weight loss with a focus on Italian food, then Italian travel, particularly active-travel, is something that should be on your radar.

Finding these growth opportunities for your blog will allow your voice and your empire to flourish.

5) Always Reward Loyalty

One of the reasons the community tolerated the presence of the mob was that they protected the neighbourhood from small-time criminals and contributed lavishly to local charities. Sometimes those charities were orphanages and churches, and sometimes those charities were policemen and district attorneys.

When someone gives you the gift of their attention, be it by subscribing to your email list, your blog feed, or friending you on Facebook, they honour you with that attention. Never take it for granted.

When you implement a campaign for new readers, make sure that you reward those have been with you for the long haul. If you offer a give-away to new subscribers, email your current subscribers to let them know how they can get in on it as well. If someone is constantly sharing your content, give them a shout-out.

Reward the loyalty of your readers and they will become evangelists for your blog, and from there it’s a small step from evangelist to enforcer.

I’m just saying.

Steven Gomez is a pulp writer in the best (or worst) tradition. He lives and dies with his favourite football team, enjoys old movies and older pulp novels, and writes constantly about pulps, blogging, and crime. To sign up as a Confidential Informant, as well as get a FREE copy of his Knockout Noir Novel – THE STANDING EIGHT – visit the Noir Factory! You can also swear at him on Facebook!

Inspire, Interact & Inform to Create Thought Leadership in Your Niche

This is a guest contribution from Will, a young entrepreneur slash marketer.

We can all agree that the most popular blogs have a few things in common – they all inspire, interact with and inform their readers. As Darren has discussed before, these three pillars should form the foundation for your blog’s content plan.

I’m not much of one for introductions, so let’s just jump right in…

As you continue reading, you’ll learn specific tactics and strategies to utilise inspiration, interaction and information on your blog.

How to Inspire Your Audience

Remember that both positive and negative emotions are inspirational; what matters is that your readers are provoked. Not in a manipulative way, but so that they genuinely want to learn more and take action.

Here’s how to create that inspiration for your fans:

Be Enthusiastic

You’ll be amazed how far simple enthusiasm gets you. When you’re genuinely excited about your niche, people notice.

So, how do you show your passion to your audience? Just think about how you’d identify an enthusiastic person:

  • An enthusiastic person loves what they do
  • An enthusiastic person works hard and takes initiative
  • An enthusiastic person wants to share their ideas and experiences

How can you display these qualities to your audience?

Tell Your Story & Share Your Own Inspirations

One of the best ways to inspire your readers is by telling them who or what helped you become the expert that you are today.  This shows them that everyone starts somewhere, plus it makes your current authority that much more believable.

If you credit another expert in your niche, all the better! You’ll be giving your readership another resource to learn from. Remember that the other authorities in your niche are your partners, not your competitors.

Leverage Controversy

Some people might call this a moral grey area, but nothing inspires people to take action like controversy.

Controversy doesn’t always have to be negative, though. For example, my buddy Kyle wrote a great post on our blog titled The Harsh Truth: Why your Side-Business is Failing and How to Fix It… While the message is controversial, the end result is that our entrepreneurial readers were inspired to work smarter and harder on their startup ideas.

How to Interact with Your Audience

Interaction only happens when your audience feels completely comfortable. So, whatever platform you push your readers to interact on, be personal, friendly and natural.

Here are a few ways to create more interaction opportunities for your audience:

Interview Other Experts

Interviews allow your readers inside the mind of an outside expert. You can discuss your own strategies and ideas while giving your readers a look at another recognized authority’s success story.

On top of that, if the person you’re interviewing has a blog, then suddenly you’ve both doubled your interaction potential by getting in front of each other’s readership. Used strategically, this can do wonders for both blogs’ traffic.

Be Available

Social networks are the obvious place to make yourself available, but remember that there isn’t a single platform that works in every single niche. It’s up to you to identify where you’ll get the best ROI… And the answer isn’t always Facebook. For example, we’ve had great results from niche forums and Reddit.

In addition, make sure you keep up with your email! Hire someone to help you, if you must, but your readers want a quick response when they contact you. Every loyal reader matters, which means that every email matters too.

Make Your Blog a Club

One of the best ways to turn a visitor into a reader is to make your blog feel like a club.

For example, Darren’s Digital Photography School and ProBlogger.Community both encourage interaction through their very name. Marketing Profs is another great example, and their membership base is staggering. Our blog, Startup Bros, also has that built-in feeling of camaraderie.

Don’t stress if your domain name doesn’t evoke community, though… An exclusive-feeling email list or Facebook group (or any other membership platform) will do just fine.

How to Inform Your Audience

The information section is last because, honestly, most of us are already pretty good at keeping our audiences informed. Usually, that’s the easy part.

However, since we tend to prioritise information, it can sometimes feel like you’ve run out of new stuff to teach. Writer’s block sets in, you start settling for sub-par content, then nobody’s having a good time.

So, here are six quick ideas you can use to maximise the information you provide your readers:

  1. Use industry news to keep your readers in the loop. Feedly.com is a life-saver after Google Reader shut down earlier this year.
  2. Use case studies and real-life examples to re-teach old lessons to your readers
  3. Create a recurring blog series so that you have a pre-filled content slot every week. Works great with industry news.
  4. Use mixed media to make old information consumable in different formats. For example, make your blog posts into videos, slideshows or podcasts. This also gives you more platforms for interaction!
  5. Publish your own surveys and discuss the results.
  6. Keep an eye on social networks – there are tons of new ideas out there if you can listen well and ask the right questions.

Your Audience is Waiting…

Each one of these content pillars – inspiration, interaction and information – could’ve each received their own full-length blog post. Instead, this post showcases some of my best ideas taken from personal experience, then leaves it open to the awesome community here at ProBlogger to fill in the gaps.

So, what other strategies have you used to inspire, interact with, and inform your audience? Share your wisdom in the comments below!

My name is Will, and I’m a young entrepreneur slash marketer living in Tampa, FL. I’ve been launching successful online businesses since 16, some of which you’ve probably heard of. If you’re curious, learn more about me and my story from the StartupBros About Page, or you can follow me on Twitter or Facebook to get my latest entrepreneurial advice.

Behind the Scenes – My Low Tech Editorial Schedule

How do you organise and plan your posts? Do you have an editorial calendar?

I like to keep things fairly informal but do use a spreadsheet to help me keep more organised than I used to. Here’s how it looks for dPS:

Editorial calendar

The left two columns are my blog posts. I publish two posts per day – one scheduled for the US audience in the morning and one for the afternoon. I’m usually scheduling these 2-3 days in advance (but up to a week or two in advance if I’m taking a trip).

The 5 columns on the right are my Facebook posts on the dPS Facebook Page which I plug in a day or two in advance also. The times at the top are Aussie time zone times but they tend to go up more during the US morning through to evening – every 4-5 hours.

The Facebook updates are a combination of:

  • New posts on the blog (2 per day)
  • Highlighting old posts in the archives (1-2 per day)
  • Discussion Questions (1 every day or two)
  • Links to hot threads in our forum area (1 per day)

Note: Much of what I do I posted about last week in my post on increasing Facebook Engagement by 200-300%.

I do move them around a bit depending upon what is happening on the blog on any given day. If something hot is happening on a post or forum I’ll push that into the schedule faster for example.

The green colour signifies that the posts are scheduled. If they are white they are just penciled in but not set to go live yet.

That’s how I roll – what about you? Do you schedule posts far in advance? Do you use a system or tool to help you do it?

When Not Completing Things Might Be Good For Your Blog

I’ve had a big mind-shift in my blogging, since I started 10 years ago… and I barely noticed that it happened.

I’ve gone from being someone who completed things to becoming someone who never quite completes things…. but in a good way.

incomplete
Let me explain.

When I first started blogging I set myself very specific, actionable tasks. Things like:

  • Each day I would try to complete a blog post.
  • When I did a redesign of my blog, I would set the goal to complete that redesign.
  • When I was asked to speak at an event, I would have the goal to complete the presentation.

I would complete the task I set myself… then move on to the next task.

It was very neat and I was able to measure my success on any given day by how many things I’d checked off my to-do list.

The problem was that I never really learned anything from what I did. I was always starting tasks from scratch rather than building upon what I’d already built.

Gradually – and it has taken 10 years – I’ve found myself seeing almost everything I do as part of a larger process of       discovery, and refinement.

While I still set myself deadlines to implement things, each time I ‘complete’ a task and set it live I’ve started to ask myself a series of questions that include:

  • What did I learn while doing it?
  • What impact did it have? How did others react to it?
  • What could I do differently next time?
  • What sparks of opportunity came out of that activity that I could extend upon?
  • What is the next step?

So now when I complete a blog post:

  • I’m asking myself whether the topic could be explored further
  • I’m watching to see whether someone asks a question that could provide a new adjoining topic to explore
  • I’m watching to see what traffic levels, comments, sharing on social media is like to learn whether that style of post could work again

When we set the new design of Digital Photography School live:

  • We immediately started watching how readers used different new features to see if they had traction
  • We monitored stats to see what impact the design had on things like page views, comments, sharing
  • We monitored feedback to see what impact it had upon readers usability but also how they ‘felt’ about the site
  • We immediately began to evolve the design based upon what we saw

Now when I give a presentation:

  • I actively seek feedback from organisers and audience members to learn how I could improve it next time
  • I always go back through the tweet stream to see what things were quoted most (it’s always something I didn’t plan to say) to see what resonated and to watch where people reacted against what I said
  • I always review a presentation to look for ways I could extend and refine it for future talks

Today, I still aim to complete things but on completion I find myself also looking at what I’ve done as the first step or a new beginning to build upon.

7 Ways to Stay Inspired and Avoid Bloggers Burn Out

burn outWhat do you do to avoid blogger burnout? How do you stay inspired?

Monique Frausto asked the above question on Twitter late last week and because it was a bit too big of a topic to tackle in 140 characters, I thought I’d jot a few random thoughts down here.

1. Know Your Limits and Set Realistic Goals

We all have a limited amount of time and energy to put into blogging regardless – whether we’re blogging while juggling full time work or our blog is our full time work.

The reality is we always want to do than we can fit into the time we have. So I think it is important to be realistic and know how much time we can actually put into blogging and adjust our goals and expectations accordingly.

For example, my wife – V – recently started blogging (please be gentle – she’s in her first month). While she’d love to dedicate more time to it one day, right now she’s juggling work, kids and a crazy blogger husband (and a lot more) and the time she has available to blog is limited.

As a result she’s starting out with a 3 post per week goal. I know she has ideas to generate 1-2 posts a day – I think starting out slower is going to help her to sustain it longer over the long haul and will hopefully keep blogger burn out at bay.

Keep in mind: while some argue that posting every single day is the only way to go – there are no rules. There are pros and cons of higher frequencies of posting. You’ve got to choose a frequency you can sustain.

2. Find your Groove with a Routine that Works for You

I find that blogging is more effortless (it is never completely effortless) when I am in a ‘groove’ and have a bit of a rhythm in place. It helps me know what to do, when.

I set aside different times of the day for different activities. For example – for me mornings is for writing, afternoons is for editing and scheduling posts and evenings is for admin and social media.

In the early days, I would do the same but not on a daily basis because I was working part time jobs and studying. I would set aside days for different activities instead. Monday mornings would be writing time and I’d try to write a few posts to use during the week, most nights I would moderate comments and read other blogs.

3. Identify the Sticking Points

Usually, when you get ‘stuck’ and burn out it centres around a specific issue. It might be a lack of ideas, inability to get into the writing groove, lack of inspiration to interact with other bloggers… (the list can go on).

When you’re stuck, try to narrow down on the area that’s holding you back. I wrote about this recently in a post about the bloggers block I’ve had over the years. In each case the issue was different and by identifying the exact problem I was able to dedicate time to fixing it.

4. Taking Breaks

When it comes out to burning out I think the key is to not only work out how you’ll blog, developing rhythms and systems to help you do that, it is also important to work out how you’ll ‘rest’ and have a break from blogging.

In my early years I became quite obsessed with blogging – to the point where I was always thinking about it or doing it. Even when I was doing other activities I was still thinking about posts, how to grow traffic and how to monetize.

Build time off into your daily and weekly rhythms. Time off to have a normal life. This sounds like a no brainer but it really is so important.

For me – I don’t blog on the weekends until Sunday night. I also set aside regular times for vacations with the family during which I try not to blog. These offline and times of rest keep me going.

5. Socialize

One of the challenges many bloggers face is that we easily get distracted by social media. You get onto Twitter to share a post and connect with your readers and you see an interesting link… and then you see another… and then someone starts a funny hashtag… and before you know it you’ve spent 4 hours Tweeting funny things on the #ThingsIdSayToBillClinton.

Social media is full of distractions but it can be used for good to help you get inspired…. if you use it the right way.

I semi-regularly participate in hashtag chats that relate to my niches and almost always get ideas to write about from them.

For example, #BlogChat chat happens once a week and I often come away with a golden nugget of an idea that I go away and write about.

Similarly, I love webinars (both running them and participating in other people’s) because I often get a moment of clarity or inspiration that sparks a whole new direction for my blogs.

I also participate in a couple of good Facebook groups that are for bloggers in my niches and find that they often give me great ideas.

The other place I go for socialisation is conferences and meetups. It isn’t a super regular thing for me but definitely good to punctuate the year with some real life interactions with people who get you as a blogger.

The key is to find social interactions that are actually focused enough to add value to what you do – rather than distract you!

6. Charge Your Day with Inspirational Moments

Most days I like to pepper my day with inspiration bombs. Usually for me this takes the form of listening to a TED talk or reading one of my favourite blogs.

It doesn’t even matter if the topic of the inspiration has nothing at all to do with my blogs. I find that just putting myself in a place to be inspired or to see something that evokes some kind of emotional reaction is often enough to fire me up enough to go and do something worthwhile on my own blogs.

7. Do Something that Matters

Probably the number one thing I’ve found that keeps me fresh and inspired with my blogging is to blog about things that matter – to me and to others.

When you’re doing something that you have a genuine interest in and passion for, you’ll find that 99% of the time you can keep momentum going. I’ve had 30 or so blogs over the years and the two that I run today are on topics that I just really like and gain a lot of personal satisfaction from.

The other part of this point is to create something that matters to others. When you’re making other people’s lives better you’ll find that you get a lot of energy and inspiration. I know that while there have been tough times in building up ProBlogger over the last 9 years, the comments or emails from readers letting me know that something I’ve done has had a tangible impact upon them have helped me through those tough times.

So put your time into creating something real, something that makes your life and others lives better, and you’ll find that feeds you constant energy to help you through the tough times.

DISCUSS: What Was Your Most Popular Post in the Last Month and Why Did It Succeed?

At our ProBlogger Training Event last Friday I had a great conversation with 3 attendees during a lunch break where we each shared a post on our blogs over the last month that gained more visitors and/or comments than normal.

We had to say what the post was about and why we think it ‘worked’.

The exercise was fascinating and revealed a few similarities between the posts. I enjoyed doing it so much that I thought it might make an interesting group discussion here on ProBlogger.

In comments below – please share a link to a post in the last month on your blog that got more visitors and/or comments than normal and tell us why you think it worked with your readership.

Once you’ve shared – have a look at the links others share and the comments that they leave. I suspect that by doing so we’ll all probably learn a thing or two about creating successful blog posts.

PS: Here’s my answer. The most popular post on ProBlogger over the last month was ‘Don’t Fall Into This Trap That Could Destroy Your Blog‘.

I think it worked partly because the title makes you want to know what the trap is… but also partly because the post is based upon a story and is on a topic that most bloggers can relate to.

Over to you!

3 Varieties of Bloggers Block I’ve Suffered From [And What I Did About Them]

Where do you get ‘stuck’ in your blog writing?

Today – in preparation for my opening keynote for next weeks ProBlogger Training Event – I was reflecting upon some of the obstacles I’ve faced in my blogging over the years.

One of the recurring obstacles that I’ve tackled at different times has been ‘bloggers block’.

Most bloggers face it – the inability to write!

As I pondered the different bouts of bloggers block that I’ve faced I realised that there are actually a number of different types of bloggers block – or rather there are different stages of the blog writing process that I’ve had periods of getting ‘stuck’.

3 Varieties of Bloggers Block I’ve Suffered From [And What I Did About Them]

Here’s 3 types of bloggers block that I’ve suffered (please add yours to the list in comments below):

1. An Ideas Impediment

Two years ago I hit a patch where I found blogging really tough because I kept getting stuck on coming up with ideas of what to write about.

Post topic ideas eluded me at every turn!

I guess I had gotten to a point in the life of my blogs where I’d covered hundreds… no thousands… of topics and was looking for something completely fresh and new to share.

Solution: what ended up snapping me out of this bout of bloggers block was sitting down with a friend to brainstorm together some topics to blog about.

I found that with his encouragement that we quickly came up with a heap of topics/titles for blog posts. Once I got those ideas they just kept on coming!

2. Hitting the Writing Wall

Earlier this year I had a patch where I had plenty of ideas for blogging but found it difficult to get into a regular rhythm of actually writing.

Looking back I think it was partly because I was so busy that I’d gotten out of the practice of writing and had fallen for the trap of doing my writing at the end of the day when I was tired rather than in my golden hours (for me I am at my creative best between 9-11am).

Solution: the solution this bout of bloggers block was again pretty simple. I changed the structure of my week around a little to make more time for blogging and put aside two blog post creation times in my week (Monday and Wednesday mornings) where I switched off Skype, Twitter, Email and my phone and just wrote!

I also decided to mix up some of the places that I blogged to give me a little fresh motivation. It took a few weeks to get back into the groove but the more I did it the better things got!

3. Completion Constipation

A a number of years back I had a serious problem of starting but not completing blog posts. I had a serious backlog of unfinished posts… but I couldn’t get them out!

I’m embarrassed to admit it but at its worst I had 93 half written posts uploaded as drafts here on ProBlogger.

Add to that were the notebooks full of blog post ideas and half written posts in text documents on my computers desktop and you can see I had a problem.

I would get so excited with my new ideas that I’d start writing but halfway through a post I’d either get distracted by another idea or lose interest in what I was writing!

Solution: the solution to this one was pretty logical. I decided to put aside time each week to work on posts that I’d not completed.

At the time I decided to dedicate evenings to this task as in most cases most of the creative work had already been done in the posts and it was just a matter of finishing things off, proof reading and polishing the posts up before scheduling them.

Have You Suffered from Bloggers Block?

Have you suffered from a bout of bloggers block? What variety was it? What did you do about it?

Building a Blog Brand, Posting Frequency and Choosing a Niche [Speed Q&A]

In our most recent webinar we had 700 questions submitted by attendees – many of which we simply didn’t have time to cover.

Here are 3 of those questions and some quick answers.

How to Build a Brand for Your Blog

“What is the most important rule of thumb for building a brand?” – David

I think the most critical thing you can do in building a brand around your blog is to give some time to considering what kind of brand you want to build.

Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos is famously quoted as saying that “a brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room” – the question I think we all should ask is:

What do we want people to say about our blog when we’re not in the room?

Identify what you want to be known for and you’ll be in a much better position to BE that – which is key to building your brand.

This clarity will inform the way that you write, the topics you cover, the social media personas you build etc – all of which contribute to your brand.

Some further reading on Branding Blogs:

Choosing a Niche: Profitability vs Personal Interest

“What is more important, finding a profitable niche or finding something you love writing about?” – Carley

Great question and one that I’m sure there are going to be many perspectives on!

I guess it really comes down to your goals as a blogger as to how you answer that question.

At one end of the spectrum – if you have no intention of making money blogging then obviously profitability of the niche does not come into it.

At the other end of the spectrum – if you are blogging with the sole intent of making money then you’ll want to give the profitability of the niche at least some consideration.

Most ProBlogger readers however start out with mixed emotions and so the answer is somewhere between the two.

I personally have had 30 blogs over the years – the two that have had most success and profit have been the two blogs that I started because I really wanted to talk about the topics (blogging and photography).

My genuine interest in the topic sustained me through the tough times and I like to think that my passion for the topics showed through in the way that I blogged – which I think is an attractive quality when you’re looking for new readers.

Interestingly – the blogs that I started purely because I thought they might be profitable didn’t last long. I couldn’t sustain writing about them every day and I think those who did find the blogs were probably bored by what I wrote.

So if I had to choose between ‘interest in the niche’ and ‘profitable niche’ – I’d probably choose ‘interest in the niche’ (having said that – you don’t have to choose between the two – you can aim somewhere in between).

Ideal Posting Frequency

What is an ideal number of post per week? – Marsha

This is another question that there are many perspectives on and you’ll need to weigh up a number of factors including how much time you have, what type and length of posts you’ll be publishing, your goals for blogging etc

It also comes down a little to experimenting to see what level of posting goes down well with your readers and how much you can sustain because posting frequency can have an impact upon both you and your readers in positive and negative ways.

Let me expand on that a little:

Impact Upon Your Readers:

  • too much posting can burn your readers out and leave your readers feeling overwhelmed.
  • too little posting can make it difficult to build momentum on your blog and won’t enable your readers to feel connected and engaged

Impact Upon You

  • too much posting can burn you out and have a detrimental impact upon the quality of your writing
  • too little posting can leave you feeling disengaged from your blog and readers – while regular posting can help you to build momentum

It’s a juggling act and you won’t really know what is right for you until you start.

As a guide – I generally recommend if you’re starting out with blogging that you start with 3-4 posts per week if you can sustain that. You can then adjust your strategy from there as you get into the swing of blogging.

Read more on posting frequency in this longer previous post on the topic.