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Blogger to Watch: Torre de Roche talks about her journey to big publishing deal

This is an guest interview by Jade Craven.

It is my honour to share the story of Torre De Roche, and her journey from blogger to author with an impressive publishing deal.

I first mentioned her on Problogger as one of the bloggers to watch in 2012. I was impressed with her self-published memoir and her creative approach to blogging. In 2011, she sold the rights to three publishers and sold the movie options.

Torre is a natural writer. Her memoir, Love With a Chance of Drowing, is one of the best books I’ve ever read. In this interview, I talk with her about her creative process and the books journey to publication. I recommend you check out the blog posts I’ve linked to; her story is really compelling.

You’ve previously said that you put a lot of effort into developing your personal brand. Can you walk us through the process?

Before I sold the book to publishers, I learned through my research that agents and publishers look for authors with platforms, like popular blogs. So I began brainstorming blog ideas that would:

(a) Fit with the theme of the book,

(b) Inspire, or offer the reader take-home value, and,

(c) Align with my voice and my self-deprecating sense of humour.

One day, while touring New Zealand by van, an idea struck out of the blue: the Fearful Adventurer! This theme would allow me to be open about my fears, while gently inspiring other fearful people to take leaps. Once I had that idea in place, I began designing a look and feel to align with that theme.

You write less frequently then most bloggers, but your posts are of a very high standard. How much effort do you put into the average blog post?

I don’t use a timer because that would be like weighting myself after a large, delicious meal, but yes, I always put a lot of effort into my posts. Some of my posts contain illustrations and when there is paint involved, a post can easily take me 16 hours or more.

I don’t plan them out—I let them evolve on the page. Sometimes that happens quickly over four hours, sometimes they’re created slowly over a week.

I don’t call it ‘work,’ though. It’s creative play.

Tell us more about the concept of creative play. How can non-artistic bloggers be more creative with their blog?

I don’t believe in the term ‘non-artistic’! Everybody is artistic. Creativity comes easier to those who embrace that trait in themselves and exercise it daily, but it’s a core part of who we all are.
Stephen Colbert once told a story about an epiphany he had in being able to fully be himself on stage: “Something burst that night, and I finally let go of the pretension of not wanting to be a fool.”
One more thing: ease off on reading How-To guides, and start filling your creative piggy bank with stand-up comedy, art galleries, books you wouldn’t usually pick up, and independent films.
To be creative, you have to surround yourself with creativity. There is no How-To guide that can replace that.

You’ve written about the difficulties trying to blog and travel at the same time. How do you manage to write such captivating blog posts while living a nomad lifestyle?

It’s tough to surrender into a ruminative creative headspace if you’re moving around a lot or worrying about where you’re going to sleep at night!

Travel gives me a lot of inspiration for what I create, but generally I have to wait until I’m fixed in one spot before I can process those ideas into any kind of art. I wrote Love with a Chance of Drowning a year after the voyage was over. By that time, I’d had a chance to process the experience retrospectively and make meaning out of the whole experience.

There’s a lot of value in fully experiencing the moment while you’re in it, and then turning it into art later on when you have the time and the headspace to spare.

Read:  The Problem with Being a Travelling Writer

You’ve talked about how you suffered from creative blocks, something that many bloggers would sympathize with. How did you overcome this?

Art is uncertain. Sometimes, in order to feel the delicious comfort of certainty, you might try to make art while grasping onto some idea or technique that seems safe. If you do that, your writing will come out stiff and contrived because you’re not creating, you’re imitating.

Loosen your grip. Let go of control. Embrace the freefalling sensation of having no idea where you’re going with something.

Good art comes from risk, experimentation, and play. A good way to discover this again is to take up a new form of art, one that you can’t control: sculpture, life drawing, ceramics… Squeeze some clay between your fingers, laugh like a child, and remember what it feels like to play without all that seriousness. Now, create from that space.

Read:  The Trouble With Blogging

The book

You were gaining traction for the self-published version of your book during 2011. What motivated you to accept a traditional book deal?

Before the book went to auction, I did some numbers to work out what the book was worth to me. I’d already invested a considerable amount into the self-publishing process, so it wasn’t good business sense to take a token advance just so that I could call myself a ‘published author.’ I also tallied up what I could reasonably expect to earn as a self-published author, factoring in all the limitations with distribution, etc. That’s how I got my magic number.

When the first offer came in, it was right on my number. I couldn’t believe it! We negotiated up from there. So I took the deal because the advance was considerably high, and because it was well above what I felt I could earn as a self-published author.

One of the things I loved about your book was that it was extremely polished. I’ve found that this is a rare quality in many of the self-published books and ebooks I read. How important is the design and editing? Was it daunting investing so much without knowing how people would react?

I spent several years writing my book and, while I doubted myself daily, I wouldn’t have written it if I didn’t believe in it. Investing at the end stages was a small price to pay on top of the time and energy I’d already spent writing the book.

Design and editing are extremely important! We live in an era of information overload, and people are now extra precious with how they spend their time. The cover has to immediately communicate one firm promise: This will be worth your time. Your purpose for getting the book professionally edited is so that you can come good on that promise.

You should strive to make your book worthy of the reader’s time from the moment they first lay eyes on your cover, to the moment they turn the final page. Otherwise you’re just creating noise.

 What role did your blog play in getting the book deal?

I wouldn’t have sold the book without my blog. It helped in several ways:

1. A Hollywood film producer randomly discovered my profile on Twitter two weeks after I self-published. He clicked through to my blog, read an excerpt of Love with a Chance of Drowning, and DM’ed me to request a copy of the book. I sent him a copy, and he ended up buying the film option.
2. A UK publisher chanced upon my book in much the same way: through random clicking that led her to an excerpt published on my blog. She also ended up putting in an offer to buy the book.
3. When my agent was pitching the book to Australia and the US, publishers could see that I had a blog and a following. This upped the value of the book. It has since sold to five publishers.

 More about her book:

What bloggers are you watching?

I follow a lot of blogs, but there are only a few that I visit regularly:

Hyperbole and a Half  – I discovered Allie Brosh a few years ago, and no other blogger has since made me spray tea out of my nose like her. It is, without a doubt, the most hilarious blog in the world.

Almost Fearless  – I’ve been following Christine Gilbert’s blog for several years now. Her life story is interesting to follow and she’s also damn good at the business of blogging.

World Tour Stories – This is a blog about a really, really good looking couple who are sailing the world. They are exceptional at telling a story through stunning photography.

A city girl with a morbid fear of deep water, Torre DeRoche, confronts her deepest fears after falling for an Argentinean man with a leaky sailboat and a big dream.

Set against a backdrop of the world’s most beautiful and remote destinations, Love with a Chance of Drowning is a sometimes hilarious, often moving and always breathtakingly brave memoir that proves there are some risks worth taking.

Are You Balancing Emerging Technology with Effective Strategy?

Last week I was asked at a conference to reflect upon the future of digital and among other things I made a reflection that seemed to resonate with those gathered. It was:

Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

As online publishers we see a steady stream of articles being written about new and future technologies, companies and trends in the online publishing space.

It is certainly an exciting time to be doing what we’re doing with such amazing development happening all around us and some amazing projections being made about what is ahead of us – however in the midst of all this development it is easy to overlook some of the most effective ‘old’ technologies and trends that we also have at our finger tips.

The reality is that while many new and future technologies are exciting and promising the world – that many of them are still either untested or not yet reaching their potential.

The example I used last week was to compare the effectiveness of social media against email in my own blogging.

On Digital Photography School we have

  • around 300,000 social media connections (mainly Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest)
  • around 300,000 RSS subscribers
  • around 700,000 email subscriber

Last week we

  • updated our social media accounts around 150 times over the week
  • published 14 new posts to our blog (and RSS feed)
  • sent a single email to our email list

Which was the most effective for us in terms of driving traffic?

Hands down it was the email we sent. I’d estimate that last week the single email generated well over 10 times the traffic that the 150 social media updates and the 14 RSS updates combined.

Our previous testing also shows that when we launch a new eBook that a short series of emails will generate over 90% of our sales of our eBooks over launch even though we promote it to social media numerous times during the launch too.

By no means is social media a waste of our time – it helps with multiple objectives that we have (it does drive some traffic, builds community/engagement, helps with branding, drives some sales) but my point is that an old technology like email still has an exceptional return on investment in our situation.

I will continue to invest time, energy and resources into developing a social media strategy – however not at the expense of ‘old’ media that is a tried and true strategy.

What about you – have you got the balance between the ‘new’ and the ‘old’ right? I would love to hear how you approach it?

How to Blog Like a Pro: Workshop on the Gold Coast Australia – Next Week

Next week (29th May) I’m running a special workshop at the Internet Conference on the Gold Coast here in Australia.

The workshop is titled – How to Blog Like a Pro – and you’ll get 4 solid hours of teaching in it – all delivered by me in a workshop limited to 40 people only.

The workshop has only previously been available to those signing up to the full 3 day conferences as an add-on but there are a few tickets still available and so I asked the organisers if we could sell them as a stand-alone ticket (i.e. you don’t have to come to the full 3 day event).

I’ll share how to get your discounted ticket ($75 off) below.

The Training will Cover

My goal with this day is to pack in as much information as possible – so come ready to learn!

1. My Story

  • How I got started and what can be achieved with blogging
  • 2. Introduction to Blogging for your Business

    • Why starting a blog is good for your online business
    • Recommended tools and platforms for blogging
    • Setting goals for Your blogging
    • Identifying Your Blog’s Reader – the cornerstone of great blogging

    3. How to develop a content strategy for your blog

    • How different types of content will help you achieve different goals
    • The Power of adding a Personal Touch into your blogging
    • The 3 ‘I’s’ of creating effective blog content
    • 9 types of compelling blog content
    • Developing an Editorial Calendar for Your Blog
    • The power of storytelling and how to collect them

    4. How to build a readership for your blog

    • ‘Build it and They Will Come’ doesn’t work
    • 9 Steps to finding readers for your blog
    • How to create content that people will want to share for you
    • How blogging fits into your overall social media strategy
    • 20+ techniques for finding new readers for your blog

    5. How to deepen reader engagement and build community on your blog

    • Why building community around your blog will take it to the next level
    • How to convert first time visitors into long term readers
    • 19 strategies for building community on your blog
    • How to deal with Trolls

    6. Monetizing blogs

    • An Introduction to 37 ways to monetize blogs.
    • 7. Questions and Answers

      • I’m happy to take any questions through the day and after the workshop – I’ll hang around for an hour after if there are any questions you don’t get the chance to ask during the actual workshop.

      Note: while #2 above is more focused on those who have an existing business that they want their blog to support – the rest of the workshop will be more general and relevant to all types of blogs.

      Also note – this workshop is focused upon teaching beginner to intermediate bloggers. We won’t have time to get too advanced but instead my goal is for you to come away from our time together with a good grounding in the key areas you need to go away and work on to build a successful blog.

      Other Details and How to Get Your Ticket

      Date of Workshop: Wednesday 29th May
      Time: 10am – 3pm (we’ll break for an hour for lunch)
      Lunch: is included in your ticket price
      Price: The full price of this ticket is $350 but for ProBlogger readers it is $75 off that price – so $275 AUD.

      To get your ticket simply head to this page, add your details, add ‘How to Blog Like a Pro’ to the Pre-Conference workshop field, choose the ‘Pre-Conference Workshop’ ticket option and enter the coupon code of ‘prop1375′.

    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.