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A Secret to Sustain Yourself as a Blogger

Today I want to talk about an issue may seem more suited to a ‘self help’ blog than a blog about blogging – but it’s something that I think is pretty important you want to be a successful blogger. It’s something that is so important that it can make or break you.

Sustainable-Blogging
Image by *nathan

However – while it’s crucial to sustaining successful blogs for the long haul – it’s got very little to do with blogging itself.

It’s got nothing to do with writing good content, nothing to do with building readers to your blog, nothing to do with SEO, ad optimization, social media or anything like that.

It has nothing to do with any of that and everything to do with a very personal part of you.

Let me explore it with a question:

Where do you get your personal worth from?

OK – some of you have your cursors hovering over the ‘back’ button in your browser – “this is not going to help me make my blog better” you might be thinking…. but humor me for a moment or two because what I’m exploring here is the reason that I see many bloggers give up blogging.

Let me flesh out the question with a couple more:

  • What makes you feel worthwhile – or not worthwhile?
  • When do you feel like who you are and what you do matters (and doesn’t matter)?

Here’s the thing. When I talk to people about when they feel ‘worthwhile’ or when they feel that they ‘matter’ they generally answer with one of two things.

‘When I achieve something’ or ‘when someone tells me that I am good’.

If you want to put it as an equation:

Personal Worth = What You Achieve + What Others Think of You

ie – we feel like we’re worth something when we do good things and others praise us and we feel worthless when we fail and when others tell us we’re no good.

This is an equation that most of us live by. In fact it’s an equation that we’re bombarded with day in day out through our lives. We see those who achieve and who are praised glorified on TV and are taught from a young age to aspire to be like them. We’re also taught to avoid failure and the ridicule of others at all costs.

The equation of personal worth coming from our achievements and what others think of us is something most of us fall back on automatically in most areas of our lives. Education, Relationships, Socially, Career – and for us as bloggers it is how most of us automatically measure ourselves as bloggers.

Unpacking The Equation for Bloggers

Who are the successful bloggers?

Those who are linked to, those who get loads of great comments, those who get so many subscribers that they can’t fit all the numbers on their RSS feed buttons, those who are praised by others, those who make it to the top of all kinds of ranking lists and who win awards. As a result most of us strive for these types of things and when we have success in these areas we feel warm and fuzzy inside and somehow more worthwhile as a blogger – as a person.

The problem with the equation:

The problem with rating our worth in this way (whether it be in our blogging or any aspect of our life) is that it’s something that is virtually impossible to live up to – whether our blog is ‘successful’ or not. Lets look at the two areas of the equation again:

Achievement – The issue is that all of us at some point or another fail. We have days where we make a mistake, where the luck doesn’t fall our way, where the actions of someone else means we can’t perform, where things outside of anyone’s control mean that it all comes crashing down. There are times in all of our lives when we can’t achieve. As bloggers many of us are familiar with the ‘failures’. If our personal worth is tied to what we do or don’t achieve then we’re going to be set for a roller-coaster of a ride.

The Opinion of Others – Again, as bloggers, most of us know that the opinions of others are always going to be mixed. Other bloggers, readers, writers from other types of media and others don’t really hold back on their opinion of bloggers and while what they see can at times be incredibly positive and uplifting – they can be equally devastating and hurtful. Also for many bloggers the opinions of others are simply absent. As a blogger starting out seeing the ‘comments (0)’ at the bottom of every post can be debilitating. Once again, if our personal worth is tied to the words of others about us then we’re setting ourselves up for a lot of highs and lows.

When I chat to bloggers that tell me that they are finished with blogging they almost always quietly tell me that they are quitting because of a reason that fits with one of the above areas. Feelings of failure, hurt at the critique of others, disappointment at their abilities, the fact that no-one ever responded or that they felt ignored…..

It’s a familiar story for me also.

When I started blogging on a more serious level 3-4 years ago I began to notice that I had real mood swings that seemed to be tied to how my blogs were going. I remember in the lead up to Christmas 2004 when traffic to my biggest blog at the time almost completely disappeared as a result of Google reshuffling it’s index. The week that followed that event took me to a very low place and very close to quitting my blogging (I even went out and go myself a ‘real job’. Correspondingly when the traffic returned 6-7 weeks later the ‘high’ that I was on was higher than I’d felt in a long time.

I realized around this time that I was on a roller coaster ride and that it wasn’t really healthy or sustainable for me – either as a blogger of as a human being.

True Personal Worth

The lesson that I continually come back to (and I need to learn and relearn it) is to remember that my worth is not determined by what I do or what others think of me. This isn’t a good place to measure my worth as a blogger or as a human being. Self worth comes from something much deeper that those things and while we’re constantly tempted to judge ourselves this way the reality is that my worth as human beings goes beyond my RSS counter, comment numbers, number of appearances on Digg, Technorati ranking, number of links from A-listers etc.

For me my personal worth comes from a much deeper place (something that is tied to my spirituality). I’m not sure where it comes from for you (and I’m not about to push my views on anybody) but I think it’s an important area to ponder because the alternative is to find yourself on the roller coaster of the achievement/opinons of others equation.

Are your feelings of worth tied to how your blog is going? Do you struggle with this one as much as I have? I’d love to hear how you’ve dealt with the issue.

The Long Tail of Blogging: Why Content is King

In this post Eric from Photography Bay examines the Long Tail as it applies to blogging.

Content is king. Yawn . . . right? You know this tired phrase is the gospel of blogging, but did you ever wonder why content is really king? You spend your time developing and massaging your posts to create the next bit of killer content. It’s the post that hits the front page of Digg, gets Stumbled to death or even Slashdotted. That’s why content is king, right? Wrong.

Content is King Because of the Long Tail of Blogging.

In 2004, Chris Anderson coined the term “The Long Tail” in a Wired Magazine article, which he followed up with a “The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More” (Chris Anderson)“>book and a blog on the subject. If you’re not familiar with the phrase or its meaning, here’s a very brief summary from Chris himself:

The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of “hits” (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail.

long-tail-1.png
(Picture by Hay Kranen / PD – via Wikipedia)

Example – Amazon.com

One of the best examples is Amazon.com, which provides consumers with access to the latest and greatest hit products, books and more. Sales of the bestseller books, however, pale in comparison to sales of the many obscure books in Amazon’s catalog. Hence, the long tail of the book market is where the majority of sales are coming from – and it’s growing.

Hot Content vs. Archived Content

Apply these same principles to your blog. That killer super-dugg post is great . . . for a day or two. Granted, the super-dugg post is sometimes great for added readers, linkbacks and helping your blog grow. It’s the long tail, however, that keeps your blog alive and thriving. While that traffic spike is great, if you adhere to publishing solid content as ProBlogger encourages, then your old, quality content overshadows even that super-dugg masterpiece.

Eyes on Photography Bay Stats

For instance, have a gander at this recent Photography Bay post on a new patent from camera manufacturer Canon, which covers some crazy new iris scanner for a photographer’s eye. This post turned out to be extremely popular for a few days, producing 5,839 pageviews on Wednesday, Feb. 13 – thanks to being Slashdotted and coverage by several tech sites.

long-tail-2.jpg

The total page views that day were 14,721. The lesson here is that even though the killer post for that day was miles above any other traffic, the rest of the content on Photography Bay bettered the killer post.

long-tail-3.jpg

Some of these posts are several months old. If you look further down the list of traffic-generating posts (470 different pages this particular day), you would see that some posts are closer to a year in age. That’s pretty cool to me because Photography Bay is only about 15 months old now. Now, think about 2, 3, or 5 years down the road . . . the long tail gets much longer and becomes a lot more significant.

long-tail-4.jpg

The long tail matters because of Google, linkbacks, readers and other requisite traffic-generating resources. If it weren’t for that catalog of niche posts that we build everyday we blog, posts like the Canon iris patent post might never take off.

Caveat

Please note, however, that this theory may be more true for some blog niches than others. Tech blogs often need that fresh content coming in to keep reader interest, since new gadgets and technology are more interesting than older gadgets (e.g., Googling for HDMI cables versus S-VHS cables). On the other hand, a niche blog on the healthcare industry will still grab Google traffic for the search “medicare anti-kickback laws” regardless of the age of the post. The topic has been around for a couple of decades and isn’t going anywhere in the near future.

The Right Analogy for the Long Tail

Contrary to what Read Write Web may say, the long tail is where the money’s at. Rather than analyzing a given blog’s posts and income, Read Write Web applied the long tail analysis to the blogosphere as a whole. While the data conforms to the long tail, the analogy and, thus, the conclusion, are flawed. Applying the principals of the long tail in the same manner as the Amazon example above, the long tail analysis properly demonstrates that a blog requires a significant amount of niche content to fit the model. With the content in hand, the long tail will wag the blog.

Conclusion

Google regularly accounts for more than 50% of Photography Bay’s traffic, which is why I must strive to continue to make that long tail longer. Today’s killer post is part of next month’s long tail traffic – and I want a longer tail! Regular, quality posts ensure that there will be a long tail tomorrow and that, my friends, is why content is king.

What are your thoughts on the long tail of blogging? Have you seen the long tail wagging your blog? How can we leverage these principals to make our positions in our niches even stronger?

Eric is the author of Photography Bay, which covers digital photography news, techniques and gear reviews. You can subscribe to Photography Bay’s feed here.

9 Tips to Start Blogging Successfully

babyComputer.jpgThis post was written by Sudeep D’Souza

I have been blogging for close to 3 years just for the fun of it without realizing the amount of money you can make. One day while browsing the internet, I stumbled upon problogger.net and suddenly realized the opportunity out there. So I started to blog a bit more seriously and here are 9 tips that I should have implemented to have a successful blog.

1. Have a Consistent URL

The identity you create for your blog lies in the URL. Once you decide on a URL for your blog, do not ever change it. Every time you change it you need to popularize your blog all over again. Besides, the technical problem is that the search engines and articles that reference posts in your blog have links to the older URL and it can create a lot of confusion and hence lost readership. Choose your URL carefully and stick to it.

2. Choice of subject to blog about

Choose the subject of your blog with care and consideration. Your blog should mirror your passion and knowledge on the subject. Identify whether you will be able to consistently post on the subject. Some topics that are search engine friendly and that never really die out are technology blogs, product related blogs, city centric blogs and money making blogs. There is always news to give your readers and also there are a lot of points to discuss on. More challenging blogs to write are blogs on thoughts, ideas, short stories, poems. In these blogs you have to be able to provide self- driven original content whereas in the previous kind there are other websites from where you can draw inspiration and ideas.

3. High Quality Content can get hard to produce consistently

Posting quality content consistently keeps your readers engaged and makes them come back for more. In the initial days posting is easy since you will have a lot of ideas in your mind. However, delivering high quality content to your readers day after day gets tougher as time progresses and ideas dry up. You need to keep innovating and ideating constantly.

4. Marketing your blog is hard work

Once you have content in your blog, its time to tell the world. The challenge is – ‘How do you tell prospective readers that your blog has what they are looking for?’ Social networking sites like stumbleupon, orkut, twitter, facebook and a zillion other websites are breeding grounds for finding prospective readers. Building your network can be a time consuming, never ending task, but it doesn’t end there, you need to make the effort to make your network aware of your blog. The benefits can only be exponential. Getting them to post comments is a completely different ball game.

5. Technical know how is required

Lack of technical know-how can hinder you from tweaking your blog and giving it the finesse and feel that you envisaged for your blog. Serious bloggers will have to dabble with HTML, JavaScript and so on. It is this technology that can give the blog the uniqueness, user-friendliness and functionality that makes it stand out. Be prepared to invest some time in learning web technologies. Being search engine savvy can go a long way in getting the traffic that you are looking for.

6. Research, Read, Reflect

Every post is a brand new post. Don’t be surprised that you would have to regularly research on your topic, as there is always something new out there. Read what others have to say and reflect. It involves a lot of hard work, patience, persistence to read content, assimilate and formulate your own content. At times, you should be ready to dig deep within your self.

7. Expect to ride an emotional roller coaster

Do not expect an easy ride when you blog. You can put in a lot of hard work and then realize that nobody is commenting on your post and on the other hand you will write a one liner and you will have the whole world talking about it. You will have days when you will be banging your head against the wall wondering what to post about and then there will be days you have so many ideas in your head that you don’t know where to start. So be ready to enjoy the ride.

8. Be prepared to sacrifice something in life

Since all this hard work is going to use up your time, you have to be prepared to give up something. For those that have a full time job – your personal life or work life is going to take a hit. Maybe some of your other hobbies or interests will get affected. So you need to decide carefully on the things in life that you are ready to forego in order to become successful as a blogger.

9. Writing a good post takes time and patience

There may be few gifted bloggers out there that can churn out interesting posts easily. Some have this skill from practice, and for some, it is a gift, but for the majority of us it is hard work right from coming up with the title to the way the post is structured to the content of the post. Be prepared to go through many iterations of it before you come up with the post that you would feel proud to publish.

Sudeep D’Souza in his blog sudeepdsouza.blogspot.com narrates his experiences in the software world and everyday life in Hyderabad, India.

Pros and Cons of Niche Blogging

In this article Mark Avey discusses the pros and cons of running a niche subject blog, from a point of view of making money.

A little History

I run a number of blogs. Most of them cover pretty niche subjects but one, in particular, is about as niche as you can get – flight simulation. Nothing more, nothing less. The site (flightsimx.co.uk) started life as a simple, fairly static web site. With the release of one particular item of flight simulation software, the increasing number of news items grew to such an extent that I needed an easier way to manage it. A blog format was the ideal choice for me. Whilst technically it is a blog, I guess you could argue that it’s really more of a news site, but a blog it is and a blog it is likely to stay.


It was around 14 months ago that the blog really started to attract visitors in reasonable numbers. It’s now getting around 2,500 uniques and 5,000+ page views a day, which I’m pretty happy with. In that time, I’ve learnt a lot about blogging. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and hopefully learnt from them. One of those things has been to be aware of the pros and cons of running a very limited subject blog from a financial viewpoint.

Why it’s bad to have a Niche Blog

  • Almost by definition, you’re aiming at a small audience. A small audience means a lower number of potential “customers” than you’re going to get for a Britney Spears fan club site (in this context, customers is referring to anyone following through with an ad on my site, be it an AdSense click, an affiliate sale, or any other method)
  • There are relatively few affiliate programs available for you to pick from. The low audience status of the blog also filters through to a low audience for things you might want to try and sell through such a program
  • Context sensitive ads are few on the ground. With something as specific as my flight simulator blog, there are a relatively low number of people willing to pay for advertising through programs such as AdSense. This can mean you start getting ads repeated quite often, which can easily lead to “ad blindness”
  • It can be much harder to get other sites to link to you (and hence bring you new customers). This is obvious really. The subject is so narrow that there aren’t (in my case) all that many sites out there on the same subject. Additionally, of those that are out there, most of them want to keep the visitors on their own sites and not send them away to mine via a link.
  • It can take a long time to start getting search traffic. This is simply because there aren’t all that many people searching for the subject matter of your site. (This really falls into the good and bad sections, so I’ll come back to this in a moment)

Why it’s good to have a Niche Blog

Strange as it may seem, a lot of the negative aspects can actually work for you after a while.

  • A niche site can bring you a lot of dedicated readers. Most of my traffic comes from search engines (around 75%). Most of the remainder are return visitors. I think a near 25% return rate is pretty good.
  • Expanding on point 1 a little, once you’ve been around a while (assuming you’ve got your SEO optimised), the search engines can start to like you. If the search engines are picking you up (my posts get indexed within about an hour now), people that are searching for your subject have a pretty good chance of finding your site.
  • Whilst there are fewer affiliate programs out there for you to choose from, you can get some reasonable deals if you go looking. The same rules of supply and demand work for anyone working in that niche, so people selling related items are looking for as many people as possible to sell their goods, which can put you in a good position.
  • Your name can get around. I get a lot of emails from people along the lines of “Are you the guy who runs the flight simulator site?”. As well as giving you a nice warm fuzzy feeling, it also means your name is being associated with that niche subject. If you do your job properly (blogging), this can turn you into an expert in your field, which is great news for your blog. This in itself can bring people to your site.
  • You can create a captive audience. Because there are so few sites dealing with the subject of my blog, people who are interested in the subject are more likely to return once they find me. If they’re coming back, they may click on an ad.
  • If you’re going to start from scratch with a blog, you’ve got more chance of finding a subject that few people have already covered. You’re going to find it hard to compete with a blog about movies, but you may have some success with political movies of the 1940′s for example.

Is it Worth it?

Overall, I’d have to say yes. I’ve been lucky. The subject of my blog is something I’m passionate about. Hopefully this comes across and will encourage other people with a similar passion to come back. And click on an ad.

Welcome to Readers of the Wall Street Journal

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Welcome to readers of Wall Street Journal who may have found themselves here after today’s article in there.

If this is your first time to ProBlogger.net then let me give you a quick tour of my online home.

Firstly, my name’s Darren Rowse and as the article in the WSJ suggests – I’m a full time blogger. I blog both here at ProBlogger but also at Digital Photography School. I’m also a cofounder of b5media a blog network with close to 300 blogs.

ProBlogger is a blog that is devoted to helping bloggers improve their blogging and explore ways to earn an income at the same time by writing about topics that they love.

More and more bloggers are now making at least a part time income blogging – with some even having gone ‘Pro’ with full time incomes using a variety of income streams.

I write more about the reasons for this blog and my experience as a blogger in my About Page. You might also like to see some of the ways that I make money from my blogs for an introduction into how bloggers make money blogging.

If you’re new to blogging you might find this ‘what is a blog?‘ article and my series on Blogging for Beginners helpful.

If you like what you read here you can follow my future entries (I write several times per day most days) in two ways – either using our RSS News feed or you can get daily updates by adding your email address to the field at the top of my sidebar.

Thanks for stopping by – I hope you enjoy your stay at ProBlogger. If you do have any questions feel free to drop me a note in a comment below or via my contact form.

Map Your Blog’s Visitors

Want to see where readers of your blog are geographically?

maps.amung.us might be a tool (toy?) that you find useful. Here’s the ProBlogger reader map (it could take a little time to populate – but it is supposed to be flash based so it won’t need to refresh the page to update)!

Of course it only tracks visitors on the page/s that you run the map on. So this map will only show visitors to this actual post or the blog (until this post drops off the front page). To get around this you could put it in your sidebar.

via TechCrunch

The Most Important Tip For Better Writing

Glen Stansberry is the author of the blog LifeDev (feed). Check out LifeDev for other tips about productivity and life improvement.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Becoming a better writer is the best thing you can do to improve your blog’s readership and traffic. Not how many buttons you have for easy submission to social services, not detailed SEO optimization, and certainly not gimmicky headlines that are created to tempt potential readers into reading your article. All of these things do have some effect on getting people to your blog, but if they don’t like what they’re reading, they’re sure-as-shootin’ not going to come back. It’s all about the content.

Good writers have an advantage on traffic because their readers come back every time they write a new article. Many blog readers are also bloggers, so they in turn link to the posts. The more links a blog has, the higher its posts rank in search engines, and the blog receives even more traffic. Not only that, compelling content gives readers a reason to submit to social sites like Digg and Del.icio.us (regardless of whether or not you have those handy buttons).

So how does one define a good writer? At the very least a decent writer can construct sentences that show at least a 3rd grade reading level. (While this is a rather facetious statement, I have come across a couple blogs that don’t meet this standard. Hopefully the authors really were 2nd graders.)
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Testing Moblogging

Today a package that i had been waiting for arrived – a new nokia n95.

Part of the appeal was its web browsing capabilities and wi-fi.

So the logical first move was a post via phone.

I doubt it will be a regular thing though as it is quite tedious.

I will use it for surfing and email a little though.

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.