It’s been a couple of years since I ran this poll and I’m curious to see if the readership of this blog has shifted since then – so….
Looking forward to seeing the results on this.
It’s been a couple of years since I ran this poll and I’m curious to see if the readership of this blog has shifted since then – so….
Looking forward to seeing the results on this.
Affiliate Marketing is one income stream that many bloggers experiment with – but how many are attempting to make money in this way?
Once you’ve voted – here’s a few posts on the topic for those wanting to explore it more.
Don’t know what Affiliate Marketing is? Check out What is Affiliate Marketing.
This post was written by Aditya Mahesh, founder of AMBeat.com, a complete resource for entrepreneurs complete with advice articles, start-up profiles, interviews, news analysis, and more. Note: I (Darren) have added a few thoughts below Aditya’s post.
When it comes to the blogosphere it may be all about the content, but when it comes to content, credibility is king. Credibility can make or break a blog. Take a look at the successful blogs out there; TechCrunch, ProBlogger, Shoemoney, Huffington Post, Mashable, and the list goes on. What do all these blogs have in common? They are written by credible sources people trust as experts in their niche.
Building credibility is a crucial part of any business or blog. It is a process that requires tireless effort and can take months or years to build. In my opinion, your credibility is by far the greatest asset you have as a blogger, regardless of your monthly page views, RSS subscriber count, or even ad revenues.
While building credibility is difficult for anyone, it is especially difficult for young entrepreneurs who may still be completing college or even high school. Society seems to have this misconception that credibility and wisdom come with age and the older one is the more credible they are. Young entrepreneurs and bloggers definitely have to work harder to build their credibility, but speaking as the founder of a successful public relations firm I started as a freshman in high school at the age of 14, it is by no stretch of the imagination impossible for student entrepreneurs to brand themselves as credible resources.
Here are a four ways I built up my credibility:
The best thing you can do regardless of age to build credibility is to always deliver a quality product. When I ran my public relations firm I did the best job possible for all clients. Hence, they provided my service with positive reviews and recommended me to their peers. This word-of-mouth marketing was crucial to the success of the firm. In the blogosphere, focus on the quality of your posts and the content you provide. Over time, if you consistently provide quality output, no one will care how old you are.
One of the best ways to build credibility is to associate yourself with leaders in your industry. In the blogosphere this can be done through guest posts on larger blogs, inviting industry leaders to exclusive interviews on your blogs, and networking at industry events. While these leaders may be hesitant to work with young entrepreneurs at first, if you showcase the skills you possess, either by writing a quality guest post or asking for an interview with fresh unique questions, any doubts over age will disappear. In addition, this is a great way to build a network of mentors. Everyone likes it when someone else looks up to them. I have used my age to build a network of mentors for my personal success and my blogs.
While there are a decent amount of young entrepreneurs, your age still makes you unique and you can use this to your advantage. How many times have you seen large Tier-1 newspapers or magazine such as the New York Times, Business Week, Entrepreneur Magazine, Inc Magazine, Fast Company, and countless others feature pieces on young entrepreneurs? Business Week’s 25 under 25 which showcases 25 successful entrepreneur sunder the age of 25 or Inc’s 30 Under 30 which does the same for 30 entrepreneurs under the age of 30. When you pitch your business or blog to Tier 1 media for news coverage, your age makes your pitch unique and increases the chances of someone picking up the story.
Getting coverage in Tier 1 media is one of the best ways to become a credible source and using your age as a differentiation point can help you get coverage.
One of the most effective ways I have built up my credibility is to work in leadership positions with my peers and make them loyal followers of my blog or business. I am currently a sophomore at UC Berkeley and am teaching a course on entrepreneurship to other Berkeley undergraduates.
Teaching this course has helped me garner the attention of students on campus, entrepreneurs in the Berkeley community, and media outlets all which help my credibility as a blogger and entrepreneur.
In addition I am using promoting content from my blog in the course in effect building up a devoted reader base in my students.
Overall, building credibility does not happen overnight. It will take a lot of time and dedication. If you are a young entrepreneur it can be especially difficult. However, if you follow the tips above it should put you on the right path to branding yourself as a credible resource.
A Note from Darren: I think that Aditya is right on the money with his advice here. I’ve watched a number of young bloggers do quite well for themselves over the years by taking the above approach. To reiterate what Aditya has said:
1. Quality Matters – if you help someone or provide them with something that enhances their lives in some way then you’ll win respect with most people no matter what your situation is.
2. Associate with Industry Leaders – I think this one is particularly useful. It might take a little time to get on their radar but if you can position yourself near and even get endorsement and support from them you will not only learn a lot but others will take note. I’ve seen a number of young bloggers break into their niches by doing this.
3. Use Your Age to Your Advantage – don’t just do this in main stream media – if you’re young and pitching other blogs with guest posts, take the ‘young person’s view’ or the ‘a 15 year olds advice on….’ type approach with your articles. Again – this is something that I’ve seen get young bloggers standing out form the crowd.
4. Leading Your Peers – another useful point. Become an industry leader in your own peer group and in time as you all grow older you’ll still be positioned as one.
My last two pieces of advice are:
A) to persist and not get bogged down by those who look down on you because you’re young. You will find that some people will be reluctant to put their trust in you because you’re young. Don’t get bogged down in this or let it slow you down – move on, keep being useful and building what you’ve set out to build.
B) to have youthful exuberance and enthusiasm but to lose the youthful arrogance – by no means do all young people suffer with this problem but I have vivid memories of a few that do. Yes you’re young, yes you may know what you’re talking about – but don’t feel that if someone says ‘no’ to you that they’re doing it just because you’re young – other factors could be at play. By all means be enthusiastic and follow your dreams – but keep in mind that humility counts for a lot and those ‘older folk’ around you might actually know a thing or two that you’re yet to discover. There’s a fine line somewhere there – try to find it and walk on it!
Here I am – sitting in my local cafe where I’d come to spend the morning working on my blog using my mobile broadband modem…. which today decides not to work.
I spent 15 minutes trying to connect…. 5 minutes complaining about it on Twitter…. another 10 minutes trying to get it working…. 3 minutes grumbling to the waitress….
And then I decided that I had better do something productive.
But what can you do to improve your blog when you don’t have internet access? Here’s a few ideas:
Of course the above activities can all be done whether you have internet access or not – however many of them are things we put off for ‘one day’ and never get around to.
While having your internet go down can be frustrating – the key is to snap yourself out of the frustration and to do something productive and worthwhile with the time. Don’t just sit there trying to connect for hour after hour – get something done.
What activities do you do when you don’t have access to the internet?
PS: My internet is still down but I’ve managed to be productive. I’ve written 3 posts (including this one), planned 4 more, edited a post from one of my writers on DPS, answered 30 or so emails and am now going for a walk.
PS2: Spookily, just as I was about to shutdown my computer…. the internet came back!
It’s been a few years since services like PayPerPost (and others) controversially came onto the scene and gave bloggers the option to be paid for writing posts about products, companies or services.
So I thought it’d be interesting to see how many bloggers have done paid posts (and how many still do).
Feel free to expand upon your vote in comments below.
Titles change the destiny of your posts.
Those few words at the beginning of your blog post can be the difference between the post being read and spread like a virus through the web like a wild fire and it languishing in your archives, barely noticed.
This month we’ve been talking about how to ‘craft’ blog posts and are looking at key moments in the writing of blog posts that it is important to pause and put a little extra effort into.
While there will usually only be a handful of words in your post title – they are the most powerful words that you’ll write because for most of your readers the decision as to whether to read the rest of your post rests upon them.
Blog post titles appear in:
In each of these occassions the title can be the only thing that people see and the sole thing that people make the decision to visit your post on. Write a boring, complicated or confusing title and it doesn’t matter what you’ve written in the post – very few people will ever read it.
There are many techniques that copywriters use in crafting titles or headings both online and offline – but there’s generally one common goal behind them all. It can be summed up in the words of David Ogilvy who in Oglivy on Advertising (a great copywriting book) again and again echoes the refrain that:
“the purpose of a title is to get potential readers to read the first line of your content.”
This is one of the lessons that has helped me the most in my own blogging and I’ve seen it’s power again and again.
Write a captivating and intruiging title and you’ll draw people into reading it every time.
How do you craft a blog post title that get people to read your blog posts opening lines?
There are many techniques for crafting blog post titles that will draw readers into them. Below I’ll outline a few (you won’t be able to do all of them in every single post).
Before I share them – let me give one universal tip – Don’t Rush – this is the main point of this whole series on crafting content. If there’s nothing else you come away from today – take away that if you rush your titles you could well be wasting the time that you invest into your actual posts. Invest time into your posts, it’s something that will pay off!
Now that we’re taking our time – here are 8 tips that I use in the creation of blog post titles. Note: you’d not be likely to use all of them in the one post (although for fun I did my best to get quite a few of them into the image title above). Different techniques will work better in different situations.
This is SO IMPORTANT. If a potential reader comes across your post in Google search results or your RSS feed or on a site like Digg and they see a title that promises to meet a need they have – they’ll click that link on almost every occassion. Identify a need in of potential readers (we talked about this in yesterdays post) and communicate that your post will solve this problem or need in your title. This is why posts with titles like ‘How to Hold a Digital Camera’ and ’10 Ways to Take Stunning Portraits’ (LINKSSSSSSS) have driven hundreds of thousands of readers to my photography blog in the last year. They are not ‘clever’ or ‘cryptic’ titles – they simply SCREAM at those that see them what they’ll get if they visit the post. These titles don’t draw everyone that see’s them to them, but they’ll certainly draw in people with the needs that you’re aiming the post at.
Another technique that can be very good at drawing people into a post is to set the scene for controversy, debate or a strong opinion. You need to be willing to back these types of titles up with posts that reflect the title – but controversy is one of those things that tends to pique people’s interest. Keep in mind that when you create controversy you’ll attract strong reactions in people.
When you ask a question those who read it are wired to respond (or to see what the response is). I find that questions at post titles can be very popular at not only drawing in readers – but particularly effective at getting readers to leave comments – particularly if the comment directs a question AT the reader (ie use the word YOU in the question) rather than just being a random question. I’ll write more on personalizing titles below.
When you write blog posts you are potentially writing to vast audiences of many thousands of readers – however readers can feel like the post is laser targetted in on their own specific situation, particularly if you personalize the language that you’re using. One of the easiest ways to do this is simply to use the word ‘you’ in your posts. I wrote a little about this in First Person Blogging about ‘You’ but mainly talked about using the word ‘you’ in the post itself but in the title of your posts it can have an even bigger impact. Example – 21 Ways to Make Your Blog or Website Sticky.
Keywords in titles are good for two main reasons:
So use keywords that relate to your post in your titles. This is a particularly useful tip if you write about products, people or companies as these types of ‘names’ are some of the most searched for terms on the web.
One more tip for keywords – if you can include them at the start of your title they can have more impact with SEO than if you include them at the end of a title (particularly if the title is long).
Not all words are created equal – some evoke a powerful response in readers and it can be well worth your while to find out what they are.
It’s difficult to compile a list of these ‘power words’ but a few that I’ve found that can work (although read my disclaimer below):
Disclaimer – power words can be very beneficial, however they can also trigger negative reactions. Some people get skeptical when they see titles with these types of words and will resist clicking them – others will click them but get angry if the post itself doesn’t live up to the title. Proceed with caution.
I’ve mentioned this technique already but it does deserve a little further exploration as it is a definite way to draw people into a post. Making a bit claim or promise really extends upon my first technique – ‘Communicate a Benefit’ – but takes it to a place where the benefit being shared in the title just cannot be ignored.
These sorts of ‘big claims’ make guarantees that even people without a real need in your topic will want to check out.
The only problem with big claim posts is that if you can’t actually back them up with the post itself, you run the risk of putting readers offside.
The risk with humorous posts is that they can also fall flat on their faces and leave you with a post title that not only fails to draw loyal readers in but which is not optimized well for search engines (unless you manage to incorporate some keywords).
Keep it short – while it is possible to actually grab people’s attention with a very long title (the length itself can draw people to it) – in most cases you’ll want to keep it simple and easy to digest. This is good for readers but also search engines (they will only show 65 or so characters so if you go too long your full title doesn’t appear in search results).
Don’t use Periods (full stops) – this one might just be my personal preference and open for debate (although I’ve seen a number of copywriters talk about it) but using full stops or ‘periods’ at the end of titles can stop the flow of your readers. It’s not a big one but something that could have an impact.
What have you learned about writing blog post titles? Do you use some of the above approaches or have you found other techniques to work for you?
This post is part of a series on how to craft blog posts. It will be all the more powerful if taken in context of the full series which looks at 10 points in the posting process to pause and put extra effort. Start reading this series here.
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.
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:
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
(Picture by Hay Kranen / PD – via Wikipedia)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
This 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.