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The Importance of Letting A Good Post Wait

This article was written by Glen Stansberry of LifeDev (feed). Check out LifeDev if you want more ways to be creative and efficient with your writing.

Growing a readership is something that takes hard work and a little luck. Sure, sites like Digg and Reddit can greatly expand your readership overnight, but it’s really the way you craft your posts that will help the most with growing your blog. A bangin’ post is worth 10 mediocre ones any day. But unfortunately for most of us, in order to write a great post you have to be a… decent writer.

Becoming a better writer should be every blogger’s goal. Better writers can craft posts in a way that a) get their point across quicker and b) connect with the audience more effectively. No matter what your content, your audience will always benefit from better writing. And if your audience is happy, you’ll be happy too.

The darndest thing about blog content is that you can have the most amazing post in the world, but if you can’t create mildly decent sentences with proper spelling and grammar, nobody’s going to listen to you.

If you’re going to write like a drunk kindergartener, you can kiss your subscription rate goodbye.

[Disclaimer: The author does not even pretend to be any authority on "proper writing". As a matter of fact, he fell asleep frequently in English classes throughout his youth.]

If you’re not a great writer yet, don’t stress. Improving your writing skills comes mostly from practice and reading other great writers. But I’ve found that the most effective way to improving my blogging has been to just let my posts sit. If I sleep on a post, odds are it will be much better than had I just hit “Publish”. You see, most of the blogging mojo comes after the writing is done.

Once you’ve stopped typing you’ve only just begun the writing process. Read it through, at least a couple times. Odds are each time you read it through, you’ll pick up on stuff that could be worded better, or explained more, or even taken out completely. Don’t be afraid to let something sit overnight, or even longer. Think of your post as like a cheese that just gets better with age.

I’ve found that some of my best posts were crafted over the course of days. Yet it paid off in the end. The social sites went to town on that content, and now I’ve got backlinks galore from those posts.

You don’t want to let your posts sit too long though. At this point your fine cheese has turned a little too green. I wouldn’t recommend letting your posts “percolate” more than a week. Some people can pull it off, but for me I lose interest in the original topic too quickly, and most of my original ideas are gone.

So when you start to craft your next post, let it sit for a bit and see what happens. I guarantee your quality of writing will increase. And if your blog’s quality increases, so will your readership.

Use A Startpage to Blog More Efficiently

This post was written by Glen Stansberry of LifeDev.net (feed). Check out LifeDev if you’re interesting in adding more productivity and creativity to your blogging and life.

There are tons of startpage options to choose from: Google Homepage, Netvibes, Pageflakes and a slew of others. Personally, I’d recommend either Netvibes or Pageflakes, but to each his own.

A startpage can be a very valuable tool if you find yourself doing a lot of blogging. The most immediate benefit of using a startpage is the ability to do many blog-essential tasks from one interface. Tasks like searching, jotting down post ideas, and reading news. These can become pretty cumbersome if you do them frequently. Using a startpage greatly speeds up the process, and in some cases can even automate it.

Here are some of the most immediate pluses to using a startpage as opposed to a traditional feed reader.

1. Customizable feed layouts. You can subscribe to many different feeds like a traditional feed reader, but instead of showing up in a river of news style the feeds show up in boxes. You can visually manipulate the layout to display the feed boxes however you want. You can toggle them open or closed, and you can arrange your most important feeds towards the top, leaving the less active ones at the bottom. This allows you to quickly scan the page for new items.

2. Tons ‘O Tools. You can have a plethora of resources to aide your blogging. Todo lists to keep track of post ideas, rich media (video, image, podcast) searches, blog search, instant messaging, imported del.icious links, email… the options are virtuously limitless when tricking out your startpage.

3. Multiple pages. Most startpages allow you to create multiple pages. So for example, you could have an entire page dedicated to one blog, with all the relevant feeds, rich media searches.

4. Shareable pages. If you’ve got more than one author on your blog, share your startpage with them. That way you can both use the same resources, as well as easily stay on top of what the other is doing.

So to put an example startpage in action, check out a demo of one I made here for cars at Netvibes. I only added one feed, but you could add many many more. I just wanted to showcase the power and simplicity of being able to search blogs, movies, podcasts and more in one interface.

I’ve been using startpages for a couple of my niche blogs, and I can say with certainty that it has greatly cut down the time used per post. While I do like Google Reader, a startpage just brings more overall blogging functionality to the table.

How about you guys? Do you have any unique setups with startpages that help you blog?

Blog Translations: The Next Web Frontier

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Weblog Tools Collection is doing it. So is the Blog Herald. Are you doing it?

These and other blogs are hiring translators to translate their blog into different languages. Blog Herald began with Japanese, based upon a study released by Technorati stating that Japanese is the most used language on the blogosphere. Weblog Tools Collection offers Español and Deutsch versions of their blog, expanding into Europe.

Those of us with little or no money to spend on human translation services resort to translation WordPress Plugins or turn to Google’s Translate Language Tools or Altavista’s Babelfish. Machine translations aren’t perfect, but they typically do a fair job getting much of the concept across.

Having lived overseas among non-English speaking folks much of my life, the early days of the web was filled with anticipation that free instant translation would be available through our browsers. Click any link on a web page, and your browser would detect the language, magically translating it into your desired tongue. Websites in Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Hungarian, Hebrew, German, French, Arabic, Norwegian, Swahili, and everywhere would be immediately accessible for my reading pleasure.

I dreamed of learning about all these diverse cultures, getting an inside look at how they live and what their thoughts are on their lives, government, work, friends, and family. I wanted to ask them questions and seek their opinions, translated through the magic of web browsers. I wanted to learn from and about them, and I hoped they might want to know a little about me, too.

It never happened. [Read more...]

The Biggest Question Any Blogger Must Answer

So in your quest for blogging awesomeness, you may have had a chance to reflect on things and ask yourself a few questions.

  • What can I do to grow my blog?
  • Should I try that next marketing trick?
  • What will my next post be about?
  • How does Darren produce as much as he does?

But there’s one question that you might not be asking — that might be the most important one you, or any blogger could ask him (or her)self. Assuming that you’re a blogger who is interested in creating a blog that is read, well regarded, and well trafficked, there’s only one question that should preoccupy your mind at all times.

[Read more...]

A Few Last Lessons On Blogging

The blogosphere’s a tough place. And to create a blog that survives and thrives under absolutely Darwinian conditions isn’t easy. Since this business week is coming to a close, I’d like to share a few universal lessons that I’ve learned over the past six months that have allowed me to enjoy a few successes that I’ve had, such as being paid for blogging, getting hired, then promoted, at a blog news magazine, growing a personal blog that cracked the Technorati 5000, and have it be mentioned by major blogs to mainstream sites, and of course, being offered this plum guest blogging spot. Oh, and all the while continuing with my medical residency.

[Read more...]

The Rules Behind Creating a Great Blog

So in your quest to dominate your corner of the blogosphere, you might be wonder about higher order questions. How does one blog? What are the “rules” behind creating a great blog? Is there anything universal that connects the very stuff behind the truly great blogs irrespective of their content? What does a great science blog have in common with a great celebrity blog? And can corporate blogs, be great?

Well, if yesterday’s post was about the habits of being a successful blogger (I seemed to dwell on time management, didn’t I?), today’s post is on what what truly great blogs have in common, and a few exercises that you can do to try and bring your own blog up to par (if it isn’t already at par!).

[Read more...]

5 Prerequisites For Blogging Success

In the time that I have been blogging, I have noticed that there are a few things that “successful” blogs have in common. And I am defining “success” in every way — monetary terms, absolute traffic, but more importantly, in robust and continued growth. With 2007 here and many New Years Resolutions on the cusp, I thought we would start things off with what I believe are 5 things that are necessary to grow one’s blog.

1. Putting in the Time and Commitment.
One of the things that I didn’t fully appreciate is what a time commitment blogging is. I’m not including all the time it takes to literally set up a WordPress installation, or taking the time to tweak your theme just right, or even answering the buckets of email you may (or may not) have. What I am talking about is the time it takes to actually write.

If you’re a gifted writer, all the best to you. Skip the rest of this tip. For the rest of us who were not born with a pencil in their mouths, it literally takes time to write something really meaty, interesting, and worthy of your blog. The stuff that makes people fascinated and can’t wait to want more. It takes time to research stuff you don’t know about, to find a block of uninterrupted time to actually sit down and write the blasted piece, and then actually get it out in a form that you feel comfortable with.

And for people who have a semblance of a life — husband/wife, kids, a job, other Responsibilities — it can actually come as a bit of a shock, because in the blogging world no one really talks about how long it takes to actually create something you’re proud of.

For the literal minded (who have not yet started to blog), what this means is that at a post a day, it might require one extra hour of your life to produce that single post alone. Are you going to take that hour away from television time? Time with your family? Time to sleep? For most folks, their days are packed to the gills doing Stuff; taking the time to commit to blogging will often mean taking time away form something else.

[Read more...]

AdSense Earnings for November 2006

Last week I surveyed readers on their AdSense earnings for the month of November. I was hoping to run the poll for a full week but due to some problems with the plugin I was using only got around two days of data (732 respondents).

The results were quite similar to last years version of this same poll. Here’s a visual breakdown of numbers of respondents in each of the categories:

200612142228

As with previous years, the largest group of bloggers using with AdSense earn under $10 a month (28% of of all who use AdSense).

Interestingly – the second largest category wasn’t the $10 – $29 category – but the $100-$499 one (21%).

The top category of over $10,000 in a month was reached by 23 bloggers (4%). 16% are earning over the magical $1000 per month mark.

Here’s a pie chart with all the percentages (note, I’ve taken out the ‘don’t use AdSense’ category).

200612142230

Use Reader’s Previous Amazon Purchases to Drive Future Sales

Reader-Quick-TipsThis reader ‘quick tip’ is from David from Strobist (one of my favorite digital photography blogs that focusses upon the sub-niche of ‘lighting’.

I have gotten so much from your blog that I wanted to pass along a tip that might help your readers.

My primary income streams on Strobist have evolved from the initial typical Adsense structure to about 50:50 CPM banners and Amazon affiliate sales.

My traffic is still in the high growth phase, and shows no signs of levelling off anytime soon.

But even that does not explain the growth I am seeing in the Amazon affiliate sales. My core is a series of specially selected books on the right sidebar – this works far better than the computer-generated ads.

But the best idea I have come up with yet is to feature a monthly “Hot List” of the top ten items purchased by readers. I list it at the beginning of each month, as compiled from the previous month. See the October Hot List here.

The publication of that list has the effect of sending my Amazon sales through the roof for a few days. And it happens each month.

I do some minor commentary on the month’s new list entries and such, and archive the latest on an aggregation page.

It’s a simple thing, but it really works for me.

From Darren: David’s tip is actually something I’ve done from time to time in different ways. For example I recently put together this Digital Camera and Photography Gift Ideas list based upon reader purchases at Amazon.