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How ProBlogger Changed My Life and I’m Not Saying That Just To Suck Up.

guest post by Kelly Diels

I have been blogging for almost ten months. I quit my job – a really, really good job – last week. Today, I made $10,600.

In one day.

(Okay, not really in one day, but today I collected two cheques for writing projects that I secured because the clients saw my pieces at ProBlogger and hired me. True story.)

How did I use my blog to launch a business?

  1. I didn’t know anything about blogging except that I wanted to do it, so I googled “how to blog” and landed on ProBlogger. Thank goodness. So I learned how to blog on ProBlogger. I literally started with a piece from the archives about what to include in your first post.
  2. I started reading the blogs of people who were commenting at ProBlogger. I wrote a couple of adoring e-mails. Josh Hanagarne might know what I’m talking about. He’s easily flattered.
  3. Then, as I gained confidence – in part because I read the trial-and-error stories of other bloggers, here –  I started guest posting on ProBlogger. I sent Darren Rowse a whole whack of wacky pieces.
  4. Darren said, and I quote very loosely because I’m pretty sure he used proper grammar, hey I like your stuff, wanna write weekly?
  5. I said, umm, let me think about it. (Don’t believe that ostentatious lie. I didn’t say that. Instead, I said  “YES!!!!” and I launched (unbeknownst to him) into The Happy Shimmy wherein one drops it like it is lukewarm. And my awkward-girl-dance still looked better than this one. Maybe. Probably not. Shout out to bloggers: that’s a challenge. Let’s see your dance moves.)
  6. My blog traffic exploded. I didn’t mind this, at all.
  7. People started asking me to write for them. They’re even paying me. Lots.
  8. I have true, passionate friends – other bloggers – who are part of my heart, now, in real life (such a thing actually exists) whom I met because of ProBlogger (see #2). Either I saw their piece and stalked them until they relented and befriended me, or vice versa.
  9. A white hot meta-entrepreneur, and one of the people I admire most in this world, asked me to co-author a book with her.
  10. Yes, I am TOTALLY FREAKING OUT. ProBlogger, lots of love, some dancing and a little effort (ok, a LOT of effort) changed my life.

My quit-my-job-in-ten-months lessons:

  • when you’re figuring it out, the guidelines and tips and case studies at ProBlogger and other how-to-blog sites make the blogging world less intimidating
  • find your voice and write good stuff
  • be yourself. There’s no competition for that.
  • make friends
  • try lots of different techniques to promote your blog. As soon as you figure one out, keep doing that, and add another. (Did you read Jade Craven’s post about landing pages? Or Josh Hanagarne’s advice abouttricking his friends having a contest to get people to buy advertising? These are live-action case studies and that’s just useful.)
  • investigate – and try – lots of different models for making money: ads, products, affiliate deals, offline work.
  • play nice
  • prepare to be tired. Very tired. You may as well cut off your cable, now, because TV is no longer part of your daily regime. Unless you’re a TV blogger. In which case you’re just screwed.

So yep, I’ve got big love for ProBlogger (though my cable company may have other opinions) because what I learned here empowered me. I don’t mean that in just a fluffy, feel-good, girl-power kind of way; I mean, I have money in my hand. I mean, I now write for a living.  In just ten months, ProBlogger helped me change my life.

And I’m pretty sure that Darren Rowse would have offered me the weekly gig even if I hadn’t written this piece as bait.

I’m just kidding. Really. He made me the offer two months ago and unlike some people (me), he’s immune to flattery. Don’t even try it. Call me instead.

Better yet, let’s dance.

___________________________

Kelly Diels writes for ProBlogger every week. She’s also a wildly hireable freelance writer and the creator of Cleavage, a blog about three things we all want more of: sex, money and meaning.

How to Boost Your Alexa Ranking (by a MILLION Places!) in Two Months and One Day

guest post by Kelly Diels

In November, I rebranded and relaunched my blog. I screwed up, I suffered, I sniffled, I refuted the advances of a pervy tech wizard. And I thought: I’d better track my results to see if this was worth it. This better have been worth it.

It was.

On November 10, my Alexa rank was 1,082,076.

Two months and one day later, it is 173,556.

Alexa Rank for kellydiels Jan 11 2009

So, in just two short months (and one day), I raised my Alexa rank by almost one million places.

In three months (in the screen shot above, look at the bottom right figure of 1,766,896), my Alexa rank increased by almost two million places.

How’d I do it? I’m so glad you asked.

Once you get past the first set of ingredients – have a seriously small and unpopular blog – the recipe is simple. It simply requires a ridiculous amount of work and a bit of creativity.

Still, I’ve itemized and analyzed what I did differently in the last two months just so I could whisper sexy blog secrets in your ear.

Here is a list of my torrid confessions.

1. Write unique stuff

Yes, this is just another way of saying “write great content! great content! great content!”. There’s a reason everyone says it, repeatedly: because it works.

I admit it. When I started blogging, I was a wannabe. I wanted to be Steve Pavlina, Darren Rowse or Yaro Starak.

Now, I just wannabe myself. I’m lit-on-fire for the written word, I have big, ballsy opinions, I’m in bed with surprise, and I love to love. That all shines through in my transparent and sometimes pulpy posts. I know the blogging and business-writing rules and alternate between obeying them and breaking them with abandon. It is roller coaster writing, to be sure, but it seems to be a ride with an lengthening line up.

The lesson: be you, write you, and write wild and free.

2. Get your great stuff out there

In two words: guest post.

I don’t have a commenting strategy – or maybe I do, but it goes like this: don’t really do it, unless profoundly moved or delighted by the post or am crushin’ on the writer and you know who you are – so guest posts are almost exclusively how I get in front of new audiences.

Guest posts bump up my traffic significantly. In the last two months, the single greatest driver of my traffic was, you guessed it, ProBlogger. There was even one day when I had two guest posts up on both ProBlogger and Write to Done.

That day was a good day.

(That day was the day I started making money – but that’s another post, entirely.)

You know who I blame for my promiscuous guest-posting?

Josh Hanagarne, World’s Strongest Librarian. He encouraged/pushed/nagged me to guest post, but I was too timid. (Really. I was scared. What if people said no? Rejection is not my thing.) When coaxing me to approach other bloggers failed, spectacularly, he took a new approach.

He demanded a guest post from me for his site. So I sent him one and his people loved me up. It was like rolling around in a meadow full of daisies and puppies and then a unicorn slid down a rainbow and gave me a cupcake. Magic.

Then, after more encouraging/pushing/nagging from Josh, I wrote a guest post for Darren Rowse at ProBlogger. Of course, I didn’t submit it for ten days until I got exasperated by my own cowardice, cursed myself out and straight-up courted that fearsome dragon – Rejection – by pressing send.

Darren accepted it in something like 15 minutes and made nice virtual noises. Later, he said he’d publish as much as I could send him. That was all I need to hear. I sent him A LOT.

Suddenly I had confidence and started sending pieces all over the place.

And my blog grew. So did my traffic.

The lesson? Guest posts work predictable magic on your blog. Go forth, guest post, bewitch and bedazzle.

And have big, strong, nagging friends.

3. Write more, more often

I used to post new pieces 1-3 times a week. Now I post 5-7 times a week. I’ve simply developed a habit of writing every night. It is sometimes painful, almost always exhausting, I’m wasting money on cable I never watch, Facebook misses me something fierce, and I have very nearly stopped dating.

(Very nearly. Not entirely. If I stopped dating, what would I write about? I romance in the name of research. THAT’S HOW MUCH I LOVE ALL OF YOU.)

And then there’s Twitter. I’ve written 322,560 words on Twitter, which is basically a novel in Tweets.

Oh. That just made me a little sad.

But other than that twinge – I could have written a novel in the time I spent Tweeting, oh yes that stings - I’m ecstatic. I’m having so much fun. I’m seeing results.

And my blog is growing.

The lesson? Don’t worry about statistics. Worry about quality.

I didn’t set out explicitly to raise my Alexa rank. I set out to improve my blog, light my writing on fire, and make a lil’ love to my people (and find more of them). And, as a result, my blog took off and took my Alexa rank with it.

You can do it, too. Please do.

And then tell me all about it on Twitter, where I still won’t be writing my novel.

_____________________

Kelly Diels is a wildly hireable freelance writer and the creator of Cleavage, a blog about three things we all want more of: sex, money and meaning.

30 Bloggers To Watch in 2010

In this post Jade Craven shares her thoughts on 30 bloggers worth keeping an eye on in the year ahead!

Update: You can now follow all these guys from the one twitter list! Check out Blogger To Watch.

1. Dave Navarro

Follow @rockyourday

Dave was featured as one of tomorrows star bloggers in 2008 and has continued to impress in 2009. His tenacity and hard work have helped cement himself as a leading blogger and  coach. He has a truly impressive resume with guest posts on Copyblogger, two product reviews here on Problogger and joint ventures with other high profile bloggers.

2009 has been the year where he strategically built up his profile to become a respected member of the blogging community. In 2010, I expect he’ll be leveraging that profile to provide more awesome resources to help bloggers succeed. You can check him out at The Launch Coach and be sure to sign up for his advance discount list and for advanced notice of his More Buyers Every Month training.

More on Dave:

2. Skellie Wag

Follow at @Skellie

Skellie has kept quite for most of 2009. She has focused on her work at Envato and providing the occasional killer resource at Skelliewag. Despite her absence, many bloggers still credit her as one of their favorite bloggers.

I hope we will be seeing a lot more of Skellie in 2010.

More from Skellie:

3. Sarah Prout

Follow @sarahprout

Sarah Prout runs a boutique publishing company called Sprout Publishing. She creates cool products targeting business, bloggers, social media professionals and entrepreneurs.

She has caused quite the stir in the local social media scene with her blog, Entreprenuerial sparkle. She has built a strong reputation on delivering quality products and being really useful to her twitter followers.

You can check out my review of her Twitter Success Blueprint at Twitip and find out about her new course, Sprout Buzz. I am so keen to learn what awesome projects she’ll be working on next year.

4. Johnny B Truant

Follow @johnnybtruant

Johnny B Truant was rocking it at his humor blog before getting the attention of Naomi Dunford. He offered to be a guinea pig of her Online Business School and started guest posting on Ittybiz about his attempts to build an online business.

He raised his profile quickly with strategic guest posts and free offers. He quickly became a fixture in the blogging community and restructured his online presence so that all posts are hosted at Johnnybtruant.com.

He now makes a considerable income through technology consulting, affiliate commissions and sales of his product Zero to Business. You can check his new venture with Charlie Gilkey at Charlie and Johnny Jam sessions.

I hope he expands his products available in 2010 and that he continues to provide his awesome guest posts.

More from Johnny:

5. Leo Babauta

Follow @leobabauta

Leo was already widely regarded in the blogosphere, but this year he has shown why he commands so much respect. He has released two new blogs – Mnmlist and Zen Family Habits as well as courses at A List blogging Bootcamps. He has also released the free minimalist theme, the ebook on minimalism and the motivation handbook.

He has done this on top of promoting his book The Power Of Less and maintaining the high caliber of writing at Zen Habits. He shows no signs of stopping in 2010 with rumors of more projects in the works.

More from Leo:

6. Ali Hale

Follow @alihale

Ali Hale has made waves in 2009 with her staff blogging, guest posts and subsequent release of her Staff Blogging Ebook. She has set a new standard for high quality guest posts.

She has recently launched her blog at Aliventures where she provides in depth articles and comprehensive product reviews. I believe she will be contributing even more to the blogging community in 2010.

More from Ali:

7. Yaro Starak

Follow @yarostarak

Yaro Starak has shown bloggers’ just what they can achieve if they dominate a niche. Yaro started blogging at Entreprenuers Journey and has created a drool-worthy product funnel.

He has released a series of membership sites targeting bloggers at all levels of success including the very successful Blog Mastermind. I’m hoping he releases some new products in 2010 and continues to show bloggers what can be achieved through perseverance and delivering high quality content.

More from Yaro:

8. Joanna Penn

Follow @thecreativepenn

Joanna has been the hidden success story of 2010. Her blog, The Creative Penn, has had a lot of success in both the local and international blogging communities. She is developing a strong reputation for providing high quality content and is famous for providing high quality links on twitter.

She shows how rising stars can be useful and gracious. I know her blog is just going to get even better in 2010 and feel honored to be part of that journey.

9. Naomi Dunford

Follow @ittybiz

Naomi Dunford is awesome. She has a shaved head, conspires against a duck and likes to swear. She also has one of the freshest blogging voices online.

Her blog, Ittybiz, is one of the best resources on how to market your blog and business. She provides tonnes of free material and affordable courses as well as other courses like Marketing 101, Marketing School, SEO School and Online Business School for her loyal customers. So many of my friends credit her for their inspiration and success. She is fresh from a recent redesign and I can’t wait to see how her site evolves in 2010.

10. Chris Guillebeau

Follow @chrisguillebeau

Chris has received a lot of attention with his blog, the Art of Non Conformity. His unique philosophy and compelling writing style propelled him to authority blogger in less than 279 days.

He has released a number of unconventional guides including the Unconventional Guide to the Social Web, Unconventional Guide to Art and Money and partnered with skilled writers to deliver niche products. His full range of products are fantastic.

2010 will see Chris travel to fascinating countries, release more unconventional guides and the publication of his first book.

More from Chris:

11. Mike CJ

Follow @mikecj

Mike has created a name for himself in the blogging niche. He become a Problogger in 2008 thanks to Mikes Life and his two travel blogs.

He stood out with his practical blog posts and fast developed a community around Mikes Life. In 2009, he released his blogging course  and twitter guide. In 2010, he has just released Beyond Blogging (cowritten with Nathan Hangen.)

12. Dan Schawbel

Follow @danschawbel

Dan Schawbel is a brilliant example of an authority blogger. He has risen to the top of the personal branding niche having released a book, magazine and awards.

In 2009 he expanded the personal branding network with the creation of the Student Branding Blog. His content is syndicated by Forbes, Reuters and Fox Business.

In 2010, I think we will see Dan take niche blogging to a whole new level. I feel privileged to watch it happen.

More from Dan:

5 Ways Blogging Can Make a Difference For You in This Economy

13. Jonathan Fields

Follow @jonathanfields

Some of you may not know Jonathan. He is a blogger, author and speaker. That’s the simple version. His bio described him as

a giddy dad, husband, New Yorker, multi-time health & fitness industry entrepreneur, recovering S.E.C./mega-firm hedge-fund lawyer, slightly-warped, unusually-stretchy, spiritually-inclined, obsessed with creation, small-biz and online marketing-catalyst, speaker, direct-response copywriter, entrepreneur-coach, yoga-teacher, columnist, author, once-a-decade hook-rug savant, pro-blogger and career renegade™ gone wild.

He wrote a fantastic book called Career Renegade and released a killer report, The Truth About Book Marketing. He’s spent this year helping as many people as possible – whether it be through his speaking events and workshops or the creation of new projects like Tribal author.

It will be fascinating to see what he accomplishes next year.

More from Jonathan:

14. Marko Saric

Follow @howtomakemyblog

Marko has had astonishing success during 2009. He marked a year at How To Make My Blog and successfully launched his Twitter Marketing ebook. He earns a consistent income through his Thesis theme reviews and blog consulting. He did a fantastic presentation about how to build a better blog at a recent meetup in London.

I hope 2010 brings more products and presentations because he brings a lot to the blogging community.

More from Marko:

15. Charlie Gilkey

Follow @Charlie Gilkey

Charlie Gilkey is many bloggers secret weapon. He is a business and productivity coach that writes at Productive Flourishing.

He recently launched Email Triage and has joined with Johnny B Truant to produce monthly Jam Sessions.

He will be released more affordable products in 2010, as well as helping more bloggers kick arse. I cant wait to see what he and his clients achieve.

16. Robb Sutton

Follow @robbsutton

Robb has impressed many with the success of Mountain Biking 198. He has received over $100’000 in review products which he spoke about in his book Ramped Reviews . He now works on his network while blogging about his journey to success at Robb Sutton. You can check out his comprehensive free ebook, Ramped Blogging, while there.

He shows how people can apply practical business schools to the blogosphere and what you can achieve when you don’t doubt yourself. He does done multiple guest posts and podcasts this year and I look forward to hearing about his future projects.

More from Robb:

17. Gary Vaynerchuk

Follow @garyvee

What can I say that hasn’t already been said? He crushed it during 2009.

He launched Vaynermedia, a business specializing in building brand equity. He signed a 7 figure book deal with Harper Studio and released his best-selling Crush it. He has had many high profile press mentions and television appearances.

Gary has given many bloggers something something to aspire to. Knowing him, he’ll give us even more next year.

18. Chris Brogan

Follow @chrisbrogan

Chris has accomplished so much this year. His book, Trust Agents, became a New York Times bestseller. He touched a lot of people with his overnight success video series and grew his blog to almost 40’000 subscribers. I’ve had trouble with keeping up with all he’s accomplished this year because he has done so darn much. He works incredibly hard to ensure that his work helps as many of us as possible.

Judging by his business wishlist, he will be achieving so much more in 2010.

19. Michael Martine

Follow @remarkablogger

Remarkablogger has been a good friend this year and it has been a pleasure to watch his site grow. On top of his blogging and coaching duties, he helps market the Headway wordpress theme. This theme has really impressed a lot of my designer friends, and I know they have great plans for it.

Michael is definitely someone to watch in 2010. I just hope that, despite his success and accomplishments, he’ll always be the awesome guy I’ve come to respect.

20. Lea Woodward

Follow @leawoodward

Lea and her husband, Jonathan, have shown that you don’t need to stay in one place to rock the blogosphere. They have taken one blog, Location Independent, and developed an entire community around it.

The expanded the blog to create a network – using the birth of their daughter Mali as motivation for Location Independent Parents. She also expanded to develop a series of Location Independent guides.

2010 will see them expand their product range as well as develop the Location Independent community. If you are aspiring to blog while traveling, they are a must read.

21. David Risley

Follow @davidrisley

David is now a fixture in the blogging community. He tells it like it is at his DavidRisley.com blog and makes 6 figures a year from his PC Mech blog and products such as the Blog Masters Club.

He has taught us so much this year and will continue to do so during 2010. It will be interesting to see what new projects he comes up with.

More from David:

22. Glen Allsopp

Follow @viperchill

Glen Allsopp has a resume that would make many established bloggers envious. He has guest posted at many high profile blogs and is a successful staff blogger. He launched Cloud Living to much acclaim and has followed that up with another killer ebook - Reality Switch. I’ve loved learning about Glens story, both at PluginID and Viperchill.

More from Glen:

I’m confident that his business will skyrocket in 2010 – especially with his $1 million case study.

23. Laura Roeder

Follow @lkr

Many bloggers owe a lot of their success to Laura Roeder. She has shown how you can leverage social media effectively and how to market with class. Her blog, and business, boomed in 2009. She released a paid version of The Dash, launched her Creating Fame course and developed that into the Creating Fame Classroom (and more like Backstage pass to Twitter).

I hope she continues to create more brilliant information products in the new year and that she continues to provide so much value to the community.

More from Laura:

How to Make Deals with Bigshots in Less Than 10 Minutes

24. DM Scott

Follow @dmscott

DM Scott isn’t the sorta guy you normally see on these lists. I met him at a Social Media Masterclass and was blown away by his blogging knowledge. He has written two successful books – World Wide Rave and The New Rules of Marketing and PR. He has released many killer free ebooks and blogs at Web Ink Now.

He is someone you should get to know if you want to learn how to get world wide attention using social media. He knows his stuff and I’m sure he’ll be providing high quality content beyond 2010.

25. Darren Rowse

Follow @problogger

Darren already rocks the blogging community. He has a top 100 technorati blog, is one of the co-founders of b5 media and is the inspiration for many leading bloggers.

He took things to a completely new level in 2009. He launched Problogger.com, a personal blog as well as 31 days to become a better blogger Workbook.

I’ve heard that he has amazing things planned for his other blogs and can’t wait to see how he develops Twitip and Digital Photography School.

26. Collis Ta’eed

Follow @collis

Collis Ta’eed is many bloggers’ worst nightmare. I don’t want to know how much money I’ve spent on market places like Theme Forest and Graphic River.

Envato has grown so much this year. They have launched many new marketplaces, blogs and tutorial sites. They have cemented themselves in the creative communities.I’m really excited to see how Envato will develop next year. I hope that I can somehow even be part of it.

Also valuable are the E-books that Collis is part of from Rockable Press – how to be a Rockstar WordPress designer and how to be a Rockstar Freelancer.

More from Collis:

27. James Chartrand

Follow @menwithpens

2009 has certainly been a busy year for James. When he isn’t pumping out content on Men with Pens, he is actively commenting or connecting to the community via twitter.

2010 will be for interesting for James after the recent revelation that he is, actually, a she. James is still one of the best ‘blokes’ I know, but this story has really set the blogosphere on fire. It will be very interesting to see how it unfolds in the new year. Will she release a book? Will mainstream press pick up the story? I don’t care – as long as she continues to bring class to the blogosphere.

Also co-authored by James is the Unlimited Freelancer e-book.

28. Caroline Middlebrook

Follow @cmiddlebrook

Caroline Middlebrook was one of the star bloggers during 2008 but has slowed things down this year to work on her software project.  Her income has been consistent despite only spending only one hour a week.

Caroline will be launching her software project later this month. It will be interesting to see how her blog and project evolves in 2010.

More on Caroline:

29. Adam Baker

Follow @manvsdebt

Adam shows that you don’t need to be a metablogger to be successful. He has indirectly taught me, and many others, so much about engaging your community. He writes at Man Vs Debt and has spent most of 2009 traveling/working in Australia and New Zealand.

Adam celebrated the 6 month anniversary of Man Vs Debt with a fantastic article about how NOT to suck at blogging. I’m genuinely excited to see how he develops the blog over the next 12 months.

More on Adam:

30. Sonia Simone

Follow @soniasimone

As the senior editor at Copyblogger, Sonia has the finger on the pulse of the blogosphere. She shows how you can make writing informative and fun. She’s joint ventured on many awesome products this year including Freelance X Factor and Marketing For Nice People. She recently launched the Remarkable Marketing Blueprint – something I’m still annoyed I missed out on.

If you want to excel at content marketing, Sonia can help you. I’m sure she’ll be providing many opportunities to do so during 2010.

Who would go on your list?

These are the people that made it onto my radar this year, but I know there are many fabulous bloggers I haven’t met yet.

Share who you think are the bloggers to watch and why. Some of them may be featured in future Problogger posts.

Disclaimer: While there are affiliate links in this post, none of them are mine.

The Blah Blah Blah Blogging Rules. F It.

I’m having a rule-following problem. As in, don’t want to follow them.

Which rules? These ones:

  • Use snappy titles containing a question, the words “How To” and jarring adjectives. Do not be cute, arty, or poetic. Copy-write. Read the titles on the cover of The Enquirer or Cosmo and do what they do. Your title is more important than the post, itself.
  • Give advice. Provide value. Solve problems. Don’t talk about your cat or your sex life.
  • Make it scannable. Break up text with headers.
  • Make is scannable. Use lists.
  • Make it scannable. Use boldface and italics to emphasize your point.
  • Be brief, simple and stick to one topic. Your readers are only scanning it, anyways.

The Blogging Rules, Flouting Them, and the Faux-Rebellion.

Here is my confession: I’m a lit-on-fire blogger (who hates the word blog, cringes when I’m called a blogger, and resists the word “post”) but I don’t want to play by these rules.

I want to write wild, long, passionate, raw and real. I want to create art. I want to write words that land and burrow and inhabit my people. (I should just admit that I’m a wannabe poet and call it a day. Then no one would EVER read/scan my stuff. And so I blog.)

Here is my second confession: I adhere to the Gospel of Doowhatchalike. My titles are posts in and of themselves. I often write loooooooooooong pieces – sometimes 2,000 words or more. I insert my opinions and streams of consciousness and wackadoo digressions all over the place and they’re usually more interesting than the ostensible topic. And then I post pictures of my cleavage.

But just between you, me and the double D, I’m not a rebel.

I may have a vivid imagination and torrid/insane romantic life (thanks, vivid imagination!), but otherwise am so screamingly normal that it makes your normal tawdry. This is me: 9-5, kids, stability, friends, family, education, achievements, regular oil changes, a yard that doesn’t raise the wrath of strata, blah blah blah.

Why then, in my blog – my baby, my heart, my love, my creative offering to the world, my own thing – do I have to follow the rules? Why do you?

The Revolution Will Be Blogged

Recently, at my own site, I asked: Why do you blog?

The answers were many, varied, and invariably wonderful:

I blog because I love to write; blogging is just another form of expression for me. – Amanda Farough, Violet Minded

Though I may never become a writer who makes millions through my craft, blogging has given me the opportunity to affect the lives of others with my words. – Maven, A Fabulously Good Life

I blog because I’m the savior of the world and if everyone would just listen to me, we would all be better off, but then, I can’t even save myself sometimes so I guess that’s not true either.

I blog because I love run-on sentences.

I blog because the Infinite source of the cosmos calls me to it, that or is constantly warning me to stay away from it. Either way, I’m pretty bad at listening. – Steve, Life Change For You

I started blogging initially because it I was bored, dateless and cold on one January Friday night in Chicago. True story – Laura Cococcia, The Journal of Cultural Conversation

I am a glutton for personal development. whut.

I blog about it because I do my best thinking when I’m talking. I learn things as I explain them to others. I realize truth about myself, ugly ones and damaged ones and foreign ones, when I’m not stuck in my own head.

I blog because blogging is gangsta, and I got a gangsta lean. – Carlos Velez, Conscious Me (coming January 2010)

I needed a space where I could support my own interests, where I’m the Queen Of My Own Domain! It was also a challenge to push myself to try something completely new…to get unstuck and out of a rut. – Eileen, Blue Bird Luxe

I also consider it a creative act and a political act – any woman blogging now is raising a voice for all those womens’ voices which were silenced throughout history. And as the famous quote by Adrienne Rich states: When a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her. – Lianne Raymond

…I blog because I want a revolution, I’m adverse to guns, and toddlers aren’t great at protest marches (unless they’re protesting the lack of third bowls of ice cream or fourth green bananas). – Arwyn, Raising My Boychick

To recap: we’re blogging for creative expression; to affect the lives of others; because the-cosmos-made-me or we’re bored and dateless and got a gangsta lean; for challenge; as a creative and political act (be the revolution), and lions-and-tigers-and-bears, OH MY.

Nobody said this:

  • To follow the rules
  • To do what everyone else is doing
  • To turn my blog into a cliché
  • To make money (whaaaaaa????? NOBODY? – okay, a few)

My point: blogging can be transformational.

You know why?

Because it is writing – and we might say, oh you don’t have to be a good writer to be a popular blogger, but for the most part that is a big wiggly lie – and we’re doing it daily.

Those two things, together, mean we’re thinking about THINGS and working through them. A-ha moments are practically guaranteed.

And then there are the people. Wow, the people. Blogging lets us find our people and that is a revelation. It is like coming home to a love-in, only everyone keeps their clothes on (usually) and talks pretty about thinky things. It is beautiful. It is soul food that doesn’t make you fat.

Transformation, community, freedom, creative expression.

That’s why some (most?) of us are blogging. We’re not looking for another set of rules to obey.

Nope. Not even one person jumped on the couch to scream “I LOVE THE RULES. Katie Holmes, Schmatie Holmes, I WANNA MARRY THE RULES!”

So WHY all the Blogging Rules?

So what’s up with the rules? Who made these rules anyway? Why do we need them?

Even more importantly – let me put my social science hat on here and run a really good query – where do they come from?

Dearest Reader, I knew you’d ask, so I did the research. And this is the answer:

F it.

That’s not a code and I’m not alluding to a bad word. That’s really the answer. That’s how people read online.

F for fast. That’s how users read your precious content. In a few seconds, their eyes move at amazing speeds across your website’s words in a pattern that’s very different from what you learned in school.

In our new eyetracking study, we recorded how 232 users looked at thousands of Web pages. We found that users’ main reading behavior was fairly consistent across many different sites and tasks. This dominant reading pattern looks somewhat like an F and has the following three components:

  • Users first read in a horizontal movement, usually across the upper part of the content area. This initial element forms the F’s top bar.
  • Next, users move down the page a bit and then read across in a second horizontal movement that typically covers a shorter area than the previous movement. This additional element forms the F’s lower bar.
  • Finally, users scan the content’s left side in a vertical movement. Sometimes this is a fairly slow and systematic scan that appears as a solid stripe on an eyetracking heatmap. Other times users move faster, creating a spottier heatmap. This last element forms the F’s stem.

That’s not reading. That’s scanning – that’s a person who ended up on your site thanks to Google, and who is searching for an answer to a question. A solution. Maybe even something to buy. And that’s where The Blogging Rules come from.

Readers read the headline, maybe the first line or two, and then scan the body of the piece. Hence: great titles, strong leads, headers and lists.

Blogging Rules: Your New Best Friend. Alas.

The rules aren’t random. They’re a guide to crafting effective online content that gets read (errr…scanned).

Larry Brooks, the writing guru behind the rampant writing usefulness that is storyfix (and he’s so much more than that, too – he’s in love with me although he doesn’t know it nor does his wife. Vivid imagination, say hey!) writes in his blog about the importance of following the rules.

As in: if you’re a writer, and you want to get published, you better learn the storytelling conventions and rock them out. To the letter. Or resign yourself to being an undiscovered ungenius.

The same is probably true with blogging. The rules are about how people read online. And you want them to read your stuff, right? I mean that’s why we’re blogging, yes?

My inner imaginary rebel just nodded, sighed and said F it.

________________________

PS – Want more on the rules? Here’s a quick, top ten list of good stuff you can find here at ProBlogger. (Ah-choo!)

  1. Striking Findings from an Eye Tracking Study
  2. Behaviors of the Blogosphere Study Results
  3. What is a Blog?
  4. 18 Lessons I’ve Learnt as a Blogger
  5. Writing Good Content
  6. Post Length – How Long should a Blog Post Be?
  7. Granular One Topic Blog Posts
  8. Using Titles Effectively on Blogs
  9. Scannable Content
  10. Writing Blog Content – Make it Scannable

__________________________

Kelly Diels is a wildly hireable freelance writer and the creator of Cleavage, a blog about three things we all want more of: sex, money and meaning.

Six Ways To Make More Money As An Affiliate

By Johnny B. Truant

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that affiliate marketing is the easiest way to make money online. You don’t have to create a product or develop a service, you don’t need huge amounts of focused traffic the way you do with AdSense, (I started using AdSense a year ago and just recently passed the $100 minimum payout), and you don’t need to do a ton of advertising or SEO to make it work.

All you really need is an audience to whom you can refer products and services.

Of course, the above statement is true in the same way it’s true that you only need food, water, and shelter to live. It’s technically accurate — but personally, I’d like to have Netflix and a few Twix bars, too.

I made around $20,000 in my first six months from affiliate marketing, and the following are a six tips I’ve found that will take you from bare bones to a legit affiliate income.

1. Establish trust

Technically, you can make a few bucks here and there even by tossing out links to people who don’t know and/or like you. I think of these as “cookie toss” sales, because most affiliate setups dictate that each time a person clicks on an affiliate link, that affiliate’s cookie (which identifies the customer as “belonging” to that affiliate) overwrites any previous cookies on the customer’s computer. If you’re on Twitter during a launch and toss out a bunch of affiliate links for the product that everyone is promoting, there’s a chance that your link will be the last link someone uses before buying. You didn’t really refer the sale; you lucked into it.

A far better way to go is to actually have some credibility with your readers, audience, and peers. If you have a blog, work on building bulletproof trust with your readers. If you’re on Twitter, tweet with some integrity, and be a real person rather than a selling drone. If your people like and respect you, they will believe you when you say a product or service is worth buying.

2. Promote only products you honestly believe in

Don’t be a shill. Once you start promoting as an affiliate, you’ll quickly discover how many things are out there to promote. If you hop on every one, your people will turn away because they’re always being sold to. Worse, they won’t believe that your recommendations have any merit because you’ll recommend anything. There are plenty of good things out there, so be a true “raving fan” of a product you like rather than a hawker.

3. Don’t promise the moon (i.e. tell the truth)

No product or service is perfect, so don’t pretend it is. There is a strong tendency (especially in online marketing) to oversell. Everybody’s course will triple your income in two days; every program is guaranteed to whiten your teeth and wax your new Ferrari while filling your hot tub with supermodels. People are smarter than to believe the BS, so don’t feed it to them. (And as a bonus, if you tell the truth, you’ll sleep better at night.)

If you want to go really nuts with this principle, you can take the contrarian’s approach like I did when I promoted a course by pointing out its foibles and the fact that you may well totally fail online. (By the way, I ended up being the top-selling affiliate for that course.)

5. Disclose your affiliate relationships

This really isn’t a bonus item anymore, actually. The Federal Trade Commission is now saying that bloggers must disclose that they will make money if people buy through their affiliate links.

The good news is that disclosure can be a good thing if you’ve established trust already. Loyal readers won’t care that you’ll benefit if they believe that your praise of the product is honest, or if they were planning to buy anyway.

6. Offer bonuses

This is a great one. Recently, I offered to give my $297 Zero to Business program to anyone who used my affiliate links to buy Copyblogger’s Teaching Sells course, which I honestly think is spectacular. Because my course added almost $300 in value to their purchase, customers loved it. And because the commission for Teaching Sells exceeded the price of Z2B, I loved it.

I think the biggest, simplest key to affiliate marketing is honesty and integrity. If you lie, yes, you may make sales — but those people who were lied to will never buy through you again. If on the other hand you build relationships and tell the truth, affiliate marketing results in a natural synergy. You refer people to good products that they will enjoy and benefit from. When they buy, you benefit, too. And when they benefit, they come back to thank you from the referral. In all likelihood, they’ll trust your future recommendations in the future — and then everyone benefits again.

Hey, it beats a plain old “food, shelter, and water” existence, right?

——–

Johnny B. Truant writes about online business, turkeys, and occasionally SpongeBob SquarePants’ pet snail at JohnnyBTruant.com. He invites cool folks to join his laid-back Jam Sessions call series and to connect with him on Twitter @johnnybtruant.

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The Paint By Numbers Guide To Artful Blogging

A Guest Post by Greg Hayes from Live Fit Blog.

Do you subscribe to the idea that blogging is an art form? I do.

Britannica Online defines art as “The use of skill and imagination in the creation of aesthetic objects, environments, or experiences that can be shared with others.”

If you’re a blogger, then by definition, you most certainly engage in the following activities during the creation of content:

  1. Creative Writing
  2. Web Page Design (Aesthetics)
  3. Idea Development (Novelty)
  4. Social Media (Shared Experiences)

When we start our blog, we read the A-list bloggers, and they repeat the mantra of blogging, “CON-tent, CON-tent, CON-tent!” Yet, its so easy to get caught up in the allure of unique visitors, page views, and keyword content. All the background noise distracts us from the core of what we do, which is, in reality, a form of art.

Creative Writing

Like all other forms of art, the gift of creative writing is enhanced through practice and study. Research into the habits of many successful authors shows that most are well-read people. Reading the work of others shapes your own creative writing skills. Being well read keeps ideas flowing, and prompts you to expand your skills.

In the online realm, read the works of Copyblogger, Write to Done, and Men With Pens. These are places to hone your writing skills. There are others as well. Seek them out.They are masters at the craft of writing, and just like any student, studying will hone your skills.

Web Page Design

The artistry of blog design can take many forms. For instance, what experience do you hope to provide for your readers. If you look at Zen Habits, you’ll find a very clean design, with a strong focus on core content. Leo Babauta’s page design clearly adheres to the theme of his content, which is minimalistic in nature.

By contrast, John Chow’s site is geared toward the process of making money online. Readers should expect to find more advertisements and promotional materials. This is consistent with the experience John Chow is attempting to create for his readers.

These are just two examples. The point here is to choose a blog design that is consistent with the experience you want to create for your reader. Within those constraints, the options are endless.

Idea Development

The odds of choosing a truly novel niche are slim. There are very few subjects around the net that haven’t been covered in some detail. But, the same holds true for painting. Paintings of women are a dime a dozen. But there is only one Mona Lisa.

The process of creating a work of art demands novelty. No matter how crowded your niche, the experience you provide for your readers is what will differentiate you from the crowd. So, whatever you do, DON’T try to copy the success of others. Instead, study the success of other artists. Learn from them. Then apply what you learn in your own unique way to provide something new and fresh for your audience.

Social Media

Works of art are meant to be shared with others. What value would the works of Van Gogh or da Vinci bring to the world if they were secreted away, never to be seen again? The same holds true for your blog. Get out there and socialize with others in the online community. Take advantage of Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and all the others to share your work with the world. Revel in both the praise and critique of your works. It’s all part of the process.

Blogging is a unique art form. It blends aspects of creative design, writing, technical development, graphic media, and other skills to create something new and unique for readers around the world. It provides a novel, open platform for sharing new ideas. Take advantage and push the form to its limits. This is the essence of artistry.

About the author:  Greg Hayes writes Live Fit Blog, a blog with tips about living a balanced lifestyle, fitness, what it means to be a father, friend, husband, and much more.

How 12 Experts Make Money Through Their Blogs (And How You Can Learn Their Secrets)

A guest post by Jade Craven

Update – The offer in this post has been extended to Monday due to some server issues that Dave had.

I review a lot of information products. Rarely, does one impress me as much as More Buyers Mastermind. Rather than provide a pitch, I thought I’d explain why I believe so strongly in this product.

For the busy people, here’s the rundown:

  • It is becoming hard to directly monetize your blog
  • Dave Navarro has released a seminar, featuring 12 people who are making a LOT from selling products.
  • This is one of the best valued products available online.
  • He has released a LOT of content as part of his pre-launch – including an awesome twitter contest. Read the ‘P.S’ to find out.

Why its getting harder to monetize your own blog.

It is getting harder to monetize your blog via direct methods. There are more people publishing content online and more competition for the advertisers. Additionally, the global financial crisis has also slashed the revenue of many who relied solely on few methods.

Many people are now transitioning and offering more products and services. Just look at Darren – he recently launched a paid forum and an ebook.

Solution: A teleseminar from 12 people who are making A LOT online

David found a solution: 12 people who are making a LOT from selling products and services. The More Buyers Mastermind is a seminar featuring 12 awesome bloggers. Dave interviews top talent including:

  • Chris Garrett
  • Michael Martine
  • Chris Guillebeau
  • Naomi Dunford
  • Brian Clark
  • Laura Roeder

Every person on that list makes their income based on their blog. Lets re-examine that list:

  • Laura Roeder sells information products and consulting services
  • Brian Clark creates and recommends products at Copyblogger
  • Chris Guillebeau makes the majority of his income from his Unconventional Guides
  • Michael Martine sells a SEO ebook and consults at Remarkablogger
  • Chris Garrett offers his freelance services and sells an e-course
  • Naomi sells multiple online products and brainstorming consults

Now, they still make a decent income from advertising banners and affiliate income. The bulk, however, is from the indirect methods.

You need to act fast…

After this Friday, Dave is raising the price to $197. After 30 days, it will almost triple in price. (Update: Dave has extended this offer until Monday due to some server issues).

Some people avoid buying because they assume the product will come on sale eventually. Dave doesn’t offer discounted products. I agree: his products are awesome value as it is. That’s why you should take advantage of the entry level price now – its very rare you get a seminar this valuable.

Who is  Dave Navarro?

dave-navarro2Dave Navarro is the highly successful blogger behind Rock Your Day and The Launch Coach.

He has become a good friend of mine. Ever since I reviewed ‘How to Launch the **** Out Of Your Ebook‘ here on Problogger, he has gone out of his way to help me. At first I thought he was trying to suck up but I quickly learned that he naturally loves helping people.

I am not kidding about this. Anytime I tweet about my posting commitments, he reminds me not to burn myself out. He’s THAT awesome.

Why it is so valuable:

Its less than $10 a call

I’ve bought a lot of products. Anything less than $30 a call is a bargain. Dave is offering you 12 calls for $97.  You also get the additional coaching calls and workbooks. Most of these people charge over $100 for an hour of their time. Their information products are often just as high.

Dave will ask the right questions

I’ve listened to other audio products by Dave and he has the skills to get the exact information you need. You wont be paying for a product targeted to the beginners.

My final Opinion.

I’ve bought a lot of information products. Dave is one of the few people that consistently delivers.

I doubt that there will be another seminar this valuable in this price range. As Dave often says - ‘Price is what you pay. Value is what you get’

Bonus 1: Competition and Content

Dave has released 3 free workbooks as part of his launch cycle. They are accompanied by three of the best blog posts I have read.

Additionally, he has launched a twitter contest with over $2000 worth of prizes.

Call to action: Click here to check out the awesome workbooks and

Bonus 2: An extra goody

Dave knows that you guys may struggle with the cost of the course. He is willing to provide you with extra value by offering one of two Problogger resource. You can choose from:

  • 6 months free membership to the Problogger.com community
  • A free copy of the 31DBBB workbook

Just contact Dave after you’ve purchased. He’ll send you your product after the launch has died down.

Call to action: Click here to take advantage of this limited bonus. 

Disclosure: Dave Navarro is a good friend of mine. I have received review copies of his products. This does not affect my endorsement of this product.

Win Dinner with ProBlogger and Special Guests at Blog World Expo 2009

OK – this is a competition that is only for those attending Blog World Expo (please don’t comment below if you’re not attending). I know that excludes most readers but I hope we can include everyone a little by posting some pictures of the event.

The prize is a free dinner with me and some of my blogging buddies at BWE at the lovely Fiamma Trattoria and Bar** in Vegas.

I’m still confirming which other guests are coming but we have 3 spots open to ProBlogger readers – hence this competition.

Contest Rules

1. You must be attending Blog World Expo 2009 in Las Vegas, NV.
2. You must be available for dinner on Wednesday night, October 14th at 6pm. We cannot change the scheduled time or modify to suit anyone’s schedules.
3. You must provide your own transportation to and from the event.
4. Since we will need to place your name on a guest list, you will need to provide identification at the door upon arrival.
5. To enter, simply leave a comment below – make sure to use your REAL name and your most often checked email address in the name and email fields. Lara will do the draw using random.org on Tuesday at 4pm Eastern Time (NY, USA) and will contact the (3) winners privately via email. Please then confirm receipt of the email before 8pm ET.

*Please don’t leave a comment if you’re NOT available to attend the dinner. Because we’re running on very short notice, we need to keep this process as streamlined as possible, and weeding through comments wouldn’t help! Thanks for understanding!

** Dinner graciously provided by Fiamma Trattoria and Bar at MGM Grand @TasteMGMGrand.

How One Blogger Made $3k a month by Helping People – And How He Can Help You

A Guest post by Jade Craven.

JohnnyBTruantHave you heard of Johnny B Truant? He started writing at ‘The Economy Isn’t Happening’ but recently, he revealed he’s made $10’000 in 3 months. In his Ittybiz column, he told how he made nearly $3’000 in one month. He’s also written a couple of guest posts here on ProBlogger here and here.

What really attracted me to him was that he didn’t earn this money by taking advantage of people or using questionable tactics. He did it by finding out what people wanted and providing them with a solution that benefited them both.

In this post, I’ll talk about how Johnny did it. I’ll provide strategies and case studies so you can apply these tips to your on blog. I’ll even talk about the tactics he used to promote his killer new ecourse, for those who are looking at selling information products from their blog.

Finally, I’ll give you an exclusive discount for that e-course Zero to Business – just skip to the bottom if you want 10% off.

4 Ways To Earn Money By Helping People

Give Free Stuff strategically

strategyImage by Anil Jadhav

How Johnny did this:

  • He released a free instructional ebook about setting up a blog.
  • He did free website setups in return for testimonials

How You Can Do this

  • Barter your services with other skilled bloggers
  • Release an introductory report
  • Do free work in return for references or exposure
  • Do case studies highlighting your skills.

Case studies.

  • Leo Babauta, Skellie and Chris Garret got a lot of exposure because of their guest posting.
  • Neil Creek takes headshots of attendees at twitter meetups for use on their social media sites. He has received a lot of praise over this, both from the local twitter community and international photographers. He has gone on to get many more clients and enquiries.
  • Darren used to do case studies on his blog as an advertisement for his consulting. He no longer offers this service.

Provide calls to action regularly

callImage by kozumel

How Johnny did this:

  • He would frequently have P.S at the end of his post – including a few humorous ones
  • He would simply state “Call to Action”

How you can provide calls to action:

  • In the conclusion of the post, tell the reader what you want them to do
  • Give them an incentive to click through

Case Studies:

  • Ali Hales guest post on Problogger. She talked about the topic of staff blogging before encouraging people to check out her ecourse. As an extra incentive, she gave the readers a discount code.
  • Dave Navarros post on Freelance Folder, where he encouraged the readers to give an example in the comments.

Find your people.

people

Image by Elvire.R.

How Johnny did this:

  • He got a guest posting slot of Ittybiz, offering himself as a case study
  • He is on the faculty of Project Mojave
  • He has guest posted on the places where his target readership hangs out

How to do this:

  • Find blogs that attract the kind of people you want to target. See if you can guest post on that blog.
  • Seek  work and joint venture opportunities
  • Look for regular writing opportunities

Case studies.

I don’t need to offer any case studies. Look around at your favourite blogs. Do you see the same people being featured? Are the same people interacting? They are the loyal fans.

Are you a loyal fan of anyone? You’ll usually find you tend to hang out in that persons group. You may buy from more than one person. These are the people you want to connect with.

Selling something? Focus on selling solutions.

solve

Image by Doug88888

How Johnny did this

  • He offered wordpress installs at a discounted price. To compensate, he asked that people buy through his affiliate link
  • He sold group coaching to those that couldn’t afford the price of individual coaching..
  • When realizing that people were still needing information, he created a course that was cheaper than getting Johnny to help them through the process.

How you can do this:

  • See if you can offer a service at a discounted rate in exchange for purchasing something through their affiliate link
  • Find creative ways of making your products more affordable without underpricing yourself.
  • Listen to your audiences needs and create products to help them.

Case Studies:

  • Sarah Prout does this in her Twitter Success Blueprint. She realized that businesses needed an affordable way to learn about twitter, so she created an ebook with information catered to professionals, as well as other twitter users.
  • Men with Pens do this with their blog critiques. They offer a discount for ones offered on the blog.

I know many people hate being sold too. Rather than promote his course Zero to Business, I’ll talk about what you can learn from it.

What you can learn from the course

There are three main things I loved about the promotion strategy:

  • He created humorous videos with viral potential.
  • He purposely  avoided hype in his sales page
  • He provided real and useful bonuses

Lets discuss how you can learn from each strategy.

The Humorous videos.

  • He mocked a number of the key sales tactics in the internet marketing niche
  • In his letter to his affiliates, he recommended that people promote the videos rather than the product

So – how can you adopt this to your launch?

  • Offering a quality resource that your affiliates can promote
  • Mock some of the common techniques used in product launches in your niche

Avoiding Hype

  • Johnny repeated several times that this product would provide technical solutions. It not make them rich.
  • He then explained the costs of learning this if you paid his normal consulting fees.

So – how can you adopt this to your launch?

  • Talk about the practical reasons about how your product can help someone
  • Explain to them how your solution is better value than the alternative

Cool Bonuses

  • He provided individual coaching to the first five people that signed up
  • He offered group coaching to those who signed up by a certain date.

So – how can you adopt this to your launch?

  • Offer bonuses that are exclusive and are not freely available to other marketers
  • Offer bonuses that will provide real value to the majority of your buyers

My call to action:

  • If you want 10% off Johnnys e-course, Zero to Business, just use the word ‘problogger‘ as the discount code. Its that easy.
  • If you want to check out Johnnys blog, go on over to his fancy new site.
  • If you want rants about zombies, check out his twitter feed.