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How to Develop the Right Plan to Grow Your Blog’s Readership

We’re getting to the end of our time together, and in these last few days I like to look to the future and see how we can use what we’ve learned over the last few weeks on our blogs.

Today’s challenge is a simple one, although it might take you a bit of time, but it shouldn’t be skipped. We’re going to switch from creating content and the day-to-day of building community with our readers, and do things that are a little more long-term and strategic.

Today is all about growing your readership. I’ll discuss some of the drawbacks of focusing solely on content (as in a “build it and they will come” idea), and why it’s not going to do you any favours if you blog on a whim without a focus.

I’m also going to give you guidance when it comes to where you spend your time, who you are talking to, and how to find readers who will love your blog and what you do. I’ll tell you how to make a list that focuses on these things, and how to figure out what opportunities there are for you to join those readers and make an impact where they already are.

We’ll also have a look at where you are now and if the habits you currently have are serving you. And if they’re not – well, I’ll guide you through how you can make a change to blog to the right audience more effectively.

We’re almost there! Let’s go out with a bang.

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31DBBB Day 28 Writing Challenge: Write a Review Post

It’s writing challenge day!

For some of you, this will be “business as usual”, as review posts are already part of your repertoire. For others, it will be something quite new.

In today’s episode we discuss why review posts are even something to consider. They can be useful for many reasons, not just for the reader who may be researching a decision, but also for you and your blog too – not the least of which could lead to monetization. I built my first commercial blog 100% around reviews!

We’ll also discuss the reasons for and against having reviews on your type of niche blog, and the types of reviews you could do depending on your regular topics.

And last but not least, my top tips for how to make your review great – there’s plenty here for everyone, whether you think a review would fit on your blog or not. Try it and see!

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Click here to listen to day 28 of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog series on the ProBlogger Podcast. 

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31DBBB Day 25: Ask a Question

Today is another writing challenge, but it’s one that need not take much time at all. In fact, it might be the shortest post you’ve ever written!

Very simply, ask your readers a question.

In the episode, I detail the benefits of writing this kind of post – things like how it can increase blog stickiness, how it can help you gauge where your readers are at, how to tailor your content from what you’ve learned, how it even helps your post rank higher in Google searches.

And if you’re new, or concerned that you won’t get much of a response, take heart! I explain how it can still be useful even if you only get a handful (or less!) of answers.

I also go through 12 tips and ideas for asking readers questions on your blog, so you will come away with plenty of ideas to help you nail today’s challenge. I’d love to see what kinds of questions you ask your readers, so feel free to leave a link in the comments to your post and we can check it out.

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Click here to listen to day 25 of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog series on the ProBlogger Podcast. 

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31DBBB Day 22 Challenge: Pay Special Attention to a Reader

Today’s podcast episode is all about your audience, and how to make them feel valued.

If there’s one way to build a better blog, it’s taking care of the people who take the time to read and engage with you, therefore creating a space that both you and they love. And one way to take care of those people is to not only tell them they’re valued, like we did on day five by emailing them, but by actually showcasing them publicly. Tell them why you appreciate them, loud and clear!

In the early days, I regularly gave two pieces of advice: “make your readers famous”, and “love your readers to death”. Today your challenge is to do just that, and I’m here to tell you how. I also explain how it has a three-pronged impact on you and your blog and a few ways I’ve gone about publicly valuing my readers and the effect it has had.

As always, feel free to share on Twitter or here in the comments how you’re doing with the challenge – can you believe we’re past the three-week mark now?!

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Click here to listen to day 22 of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog series on the ProBlogger Podcast. 

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The ProBlogger Podcast How-To: Conduct a Policy Review

I know – it sounds so technical. What blogger has a policy review and why would you even need one?

Bear with me, I think you’ll find today’s challenge super useful even if you think it doesn’t apply to you.

Of course, for some of you it’s a legal requirement in your jurisdiction to have a privacy policy if you’re collecting emails, or a disclosure policy if you’re working with brands. For the rest of you, it’s just good form to be transparent with your readers how you operate.

You may even have just a quick run-through of procedures you follow in general, or if something goes wrong. They don’t always have to be published.

In the workbook, I mention six areas you might want to consider a policy, and in today’s podcast episode, I go into detail with those, including how you can go about creating them to be as simple or as complex as you like.

You can also use today to create these policies if you don’t have any to review. I think you’ll find them incredibly handy.   ProBlogger Podcast AvatarClick here to listen to day 21 of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog series on the ProBlogger Podcast. 

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How and Why to Experiment with Opinion Posts on Your Blog

Today’s challenge in 31 Days to Build a Better Blog should be easy for some of you – but terrify the rest!

Opinion posts come easily to those who are happy to share and engage in the feedback that they get. For others, though, it might not come naturally to put yourself out there and perhaps meet some resistance from those who don’t agree.

I’ve definitely had to push myself out of my comfort zone to share how I feel about something. It comes with a range of emotions about how your post will be met – what will people say? How will they think of me?

It turns out your opinion is something your readers want, so by not sharing it, you’re doing yourself and them a disservice. In today’s episode I outline the reasons why opinion makes your blog useful, and how it differentiates your blog from standard news and even other blogs in your niche.

So of course today’s challenge is to actually write an opinion post. Be brave! In the podcast I give some ideas for different niches about what you can write about and what might work for your situation. You’ll find some are easier than others, but the point is not to be controversial, just to mention where your values align.

Having said that – don’t shy away from controversy if you think it will be a relevant discussion.

Feel free to share your post in the comments below, and have a look at other bloggers’ posts as they come in. You’ll never know where it will lead you.

As always, stay tuned tomorrow for a brand new topic.
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31DBBB Day 18 Challenge: Create a Sneeze Page

Today is day 18 in 31 Days to Build a Better Blog and you can listen to it here.

If you’ve never created a sneeze page on your blog – one of the single most useful ways to get readers to stick around and get to know you so well they won’t want to leave – you need to do this today!

I’ve talked about sneeze pages for a long time, and it’s a term that I came up with in the first incarnation of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog in 2007. It’s a great way for all those posts you have in your archives that are still useful and relevant to be all in one place for the ease of readers who may be new to your blog.

The goal is to make the pages so interesting that the reader can’t help but click on more and more posts to read and before they know it, they’re deep inside your blog reading everything that they’re interested in.

In this episode I talk about the importance of sneeze pages for traffic, and the other benefits they bring. I also run through the types of sneeze pages you could create, depending on your niche, and whether to have standalone pages or posts. I also give a few examples for you to check out when creating your own in the show notes.

I’m going to discuss the type of sneeze page I think you should create for today’s challenge and give you tips on how to make the best one to really hook your audience – and also how to ensure they actually get seen by new readers to your blog.

It should be a nice and easy challenge for you today, but one that will see a heap of return on your effort.

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Click here to listen to day 18 of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog series on the ProBlogger Podcast. 

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Ask Yourself: How Do Readers See Your Blog?

It’s time for day 17 in our 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge.

Here’s a frightening reality – within just a few seconds of arriving on the blog that you pour hours and hours of time and energy into, a new reader will make snap judgements about what your blog is about and if it is worth their time to spend time on it.

First impressions are so important in real-life interactions but online it’s even more so.

You might look at your blog hundreds of times a week and therefore might miss little things, or be so familiar with it you don’t know what it’s like from a new reader perspective.

It can be nerve-racking to hear feedback about your pride and joy, but it’s necessary to ensure you’re providing readers with a place they want to stay. And the only way you’ll know how they feel about it is to ask them.

Today’s challenge is to conduct a “first-time reader audit” on your blog and try to see it from their perspective, so you know what you can tweak to make their experience better.

In this episode tell you how best to do this, and a list of things you’ll need to complete the audit. I’ve also got a series of questions to ask yourself as you watch the reader go through your blog to gauge their reaction. There will be questions you can ask them to prompt their description of their experience and give you valuable insight into how your blog looks to the outside world.

The show notes also include some tools and services to make this easier for you – especially if you don’t have a newbie on hand!

Good luck – would love to hear how you go.

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Click here to listen to day 17 of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog series on the ProBlogger Podcast. 

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ProBlogger Podcast: Blog Buddies

Let’s kick off this new week of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog with a podcast about finding your tribe.

I’m an introvert, and blogging and podcasting work really well with my personality type. I enjoy interacting with others, but at a bit of a distance. But one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over 13 years in this business is that sometimes I have to push myself out of my comfort zone and be among people, because it’s then that my blogs grow best.

In my first few weeks of blogging when I had no idea what I was doing, I realised the value of having a helping hand in other bloggers. Their support is indispensable, especially when you feel as though you’re not getting anywhere, or you’re better off doing something else with your time.

In today’s episode I go through the challenges I’ve faced over the years and how the presence of other bloggers have helped me. I’ve achieved so much more as a result of collaboration and reaching out to others, so I’ve a few ideas to share about how they help and why you should find yourself a friend or two to make this online journey with.

It’s probably pretty obvious, but today’s challenge is to find a blog buddy or buddies. That might not be as easy as you think, so I’m on hand to give some advice about how you might like to go about this.

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Click here to listen to day 15 of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog series on the ProBlogger Podcast. 

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