Three Basic Elements to Help You Create the Perfect Video

Three Basic Elements to Help You Create the Perfect VideoThis is a guest contribution from James Tew.

Many bloggers are now considering the use of video to increase their reach, inform their audience about an upcoming product launch, or just as a new way of leveraging one of the fastest growing mediums on the internet. In fact, according to, by 2019 80 per cent of the world’s internet traffic will be made up of video.

We work incredibly hard to build our reputations and would do anything to protect it because in the end, it makes up a large part of our business. One thing that I believe can be incredibly detrimental to that brand is terrible video production. However, more often than not now, we don’t have the time or patience to dedicate time to the technical aspects of video. In addition, for some of us, video is purely a marketing tool and we’re not aspiring to be the next JJ Abrams.

A lot of bloggers may already have a DSLR and I think it is safe to say that the majority of us have a smartphone. In fact, the smartphone you have can record incredible looking video without having to make any expensive purchases.

In this article, I want to touch on a few hacks that will help you dramatically increase the quality of your video, maintain your reputation and help you stand out from the rest.

Shaky Video

I get incredibly sea sick so it doesn’t help when I watch a video that makes me feel like I’m sailing through a cyclone. Shaky video is terrible and really screams “amateur”. Now I’m not saying that you need to go out and pick up the most expensive Manfrotto tripod but these couple of suggestions will increase your quality.

  • Use a stack of books to balance your camera or smartphone. Grace Helbig has over 2 million subscribers to her YouTube channel and in the documentary Please Subscribe, she proves that you don’t need expensive equipment. Grace simply sat in front of a window and rested her camera on a stack of books. This will immediately remove the shaking out of your video.
  • Grab a Selfie Stick or cheap tripod from eBay. You may be thinking: “a selfie stick? really?” – Well in fact, a selfie stick will decrease the amount of shake in your footage. This is because you have greater surface area to hold providing greater stability. Another option is to pick up a small tripod from eBay such as a gorillapod. My personal recommendation is a small tripod as it eliminates any contact with your camera.

Three Basic Elements to Help You Create the Perfect Video

Hollow Audio

Have you ever tried recording yourself with a DSLR and noticed that you sound like you’re talking into a tin can? The cameras aren’t built for amazing audio as well as image quality so using an external audio source will increase your quality tenfold. There is definitely not a lack of options when it comes to audio. Tools like the Zoom H4n or Rode Videomic Pro are industry standard for video marketers. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on this expensive equipment, here are three ways you could dramatically increase your audio quality.

  1. The Rode Smartlav+ is a great lapel mic for smartphone users. This inexpensive tool will dramatically increase the quality of your audio and allow you to use your smartphone as an audio recorder. Extremely simple to use, accompanied by the Rode app, you’ll look and sound like a pro in no time.
  2. Use your smartphone voice recorder app. If you’re using a DSLR, hiding your smartphone out of frame and recording via the audio recorder will see a dramatic improvement in comparison to camera audio. While it is not the best, it will suffice for the majority of bloggers looking to harness video.
  3. Use a podcasting microphone. If you’ve made the investment of purchasing a podcasting microphone, you can set that to record your audio and sync in editing. A simple clap on when recording will provide a spike in both camera audio and recorded audio enough for your to sync it up.


Another important aspect of filming is lighting. When I started making videos for YouTube, lights were one of the first things I purchased because I wanted to stand out and look the part. If purchasing lights is not in your budget, you can certainly take a leaf out of Grace Helbig’s book and sit in front of a window.

Much like with photography, we want to avoid overly saturated images. One hack that I have used in the past was to sticky tape baking paper over the window. This will diffuse the light enough to make the image less saturated.

Finally, avoid ‘yellow’ coloured down lights. If you’re using the downlights in your home, purchase a daylight bulb and position yourself approximately one to two metres away from the bulb. If you can, set your camera higher than your face and look up on a slight angle. This will help eliminate any harsh shadows on your face.

These are just three basic elements of what makes a good video from the production side. Of course as with anything we create, good content will always win however, implementing these three recommendations will help ensure that people don’t switch off in the first 10 seconds of your video.

Have you had much success with video? What has worked for you?

James is a 27-year-old dad of four girls who helps entrepreneurs build relationships and grow the strength, courage and confidence to build their brand with video.

5 Ways to Ramp Up Comments on Your Blog

This is a guest contribution from Alex Ivanovs.

Comments feed the writers soul with proof of work well done. It’s easy to think that not everyone likes comments, but the truth is that comments are what makes us believe in our content and its usefulness. The feeling you get from not receiving any comments on the content you write can be pretty devastating. You invest so much time into writing and publishing a post, and in the end it seems that you wrote it just for yourself.

The idea that nobody cares is quite painful. Comments are the blogger’s currency, and how long can you keep going on for when you’re broke?

Copyblogger, CNN, and Michael Hyatt are some of the most known names that have decided to abandon comments altogether, which puts more pressure on social discussion and sharing.

It’s important to remember that blog comments are not a metric of success, even some of the most popular blogs today are struggling to keep up with consistent comments, and the following concept shows what’s true for any blogger:

5 Ways to Ramp up Comments on Your Blog
(photo credit: CoSchedule)

I think it’s unrealistic to have a blog where 50% of readers would also be commenters, this would mean that a post that is read 1000 times would yield 500 comments, which is quite unheard of. If 1% of 1000 readers leaves a comment, that makes for 10 comments — a much more realistic number.

What are the options to stirring up the pot and getting more comments out of the content we publish?

1. Blogger mentions (name-dropping)

Name dropping is the act of giving someone credit for the work they have done, which in many cases is going to be a specific person who may or may not be influential. By giving someone else credit for the work they have done, you can utilize that mention to reach out to them and tell them where you credited them.



Jasmine Henry from Writtent shared a post about formatting blog posts, and throughout the post she mentioned several content sources that verified her claims, including our very own Darren Rowse.

Remember to:

  • Mention bloggers only if their opinion is truly relevant. Don’t do it for selfish purposes.
  • Reach out to the bloggers you have mentioned in your post by asking them to participate in discussion, respect their decision not to.

2. Comment to get comments

Having trouble being seen by others? Perhaps the issue is not the quality of content, but your lack of presence on other important blogs and platforms that could yield new visitors and commenters. Sites like BizSugar and Inbound are great for discovering new blogs, both new and seasoned.

Once you discover a previously unknown site that has content that’s relevant to yours, start engaging the writers in insightful discussions to form basic relationships. If successful (you get a reply), start aiming towards building a more serious relationship, such as: social media follows, link out to your own content, reach out to propose a guest column.

What you need to keep in mind that it’s important to know which blogs you’re leaving comments on. Big media sites like TechCrunch, Huffington Post, and Entrepreneur are all very active content platforms, but leaving comments on these sites isn’t going to yield any reasonable results, the reason why is because these sites write about every topic imaginable, which results in the audience being more widespread, whereas an audience that’s looking for specific niche content is more than likely to engage in discussion.

3. Share valuable content

Sharing valuable content can be misunderstood. You don’t have to aim for 2000 words, or name-drop 20 influential bloggers, what you need is to ask yourself, “If I was a visitor to this site and I read this piece of content, would it make me want to leave a comment? Do I feel like I have to respond?”.

A piece of content that’s organized and easy to digest, is naturally going to attract comments. A piece of content that’s a wall of text is going to be ignored. It’s that simple.

4. Confident opinion

New bloggers can get the wrong impression on the way blogging works. The idea that we have to write big posts with lots of information is well-known amongst the marketers, but is it really something that WE need to do? An honest and confident opinion will go much farther than a post that’s built around the idea of living up to the 2000 word limit to be a contender for the Google’s first page.

If something can be said in 1000 words and still provide immense value to the reader, why should you force yourself to find an extra 1000 words to feel safe about your rankings? Ask yourself, “Who am I writing for, a real human being, or an algorithm?”.

This brings us to the next point:

5. Love what you do

Why do you blog? Is it for growth purposes, to promote your business, to keep track of what you have learned, or to strive for financial freedom? All are good causes, but we must learn to find balance between all, otherwise we risk putting too much focus on one thing and forget about the rest.

New bloggers will inevitably struggle with the idea of having to get good rankings to be successful and popular, when in fact there are so many other ways to promote oneself.

The lesson here is that people can tell the difference between content that’s written passionately, and content that’s written for the purpose of gaining something back. You should not write about topics that you don’t feel connected with on some level, otherwise you will be chunking out content that lacks one of the most important ingredients; passion. When you’re passionate about what you do and what you write about, it can spark a passionate response in the reader.

Benefits of passionate writing:

  • Readers can identify with you on a deeper level, which in turn attract likes, shares and subscriptions.
  • Writing becomes an experience of joy. It’s easier to write about the things you love.
  • We develop deeper connection with our writing and that helps us to stay empowered and full of enthusiasm.

The lessons in this post are very clear, we must focus on providing value that comes from a place of transparency, rather than a place of need and want. We should give before we get, and we should not waste our and others time by forcing invaluable actions.

ProBlogger is is a great example of how readers feel connected and engaged in the published content, neither Darren nor the editors of this blog would encourage forceful content, it has to be insightful and spark a train of healthy thought.

What do you do to ensure readers share their thoughts with you on your blog?

Alex Ivanovs is a passionate writer who works in the field of technology, personal growth, and blogging. You can find his other work on SkillCode, and you can follow him on Twitter: @skillcode.

Feeling a Bit Lost? 4 Ways to Boost Productivity and Motivation on Your Blog

Feeling a bit lost? Here are 4 ways to boost productivity and motivation on your blog so you can get back in the game!There are many times in the life of a blogger when you find yourself unsure of where to go or what to do next.

That can be for so many reasons – when it comes to where you spend your time you’re overwhelmed with choice, you don’t know where to start, you want to do a little of everything and sort of all at once, you’re burned out with decision making, you’re not getting any traction, you’re afraidbasically, you’re a bit stuck and you don’t know what to do next.

The problem is, most of us then just end up doing nothing. Or something that isn’t going to propel you in the direction of where you need to go. Maybe you respond to a few insignificant emails, maybe you check someone else’s Facebook feed to be inspired what they’re doing and get stuck there for half an hour, maybe you throw your laptop out the window and play Candy Crush.

You’re not alone. Well, you probably are if you threw your laptop out the window, but just about everyone I’ve talked to has felt this way at some point. The deeper you get into the quagmire of blogging (blogmire?), the harder it is to find all the hours in the day to do all the things you need to do be the Next Big Thing.

And with all the overwhelming choice, to-do lists, articles you need to read, articles you did read that told you 50 things you now need to do – you paddle about doing not much of anything at all.

The best thing I know to do when I don’t know what to do is: anything. Everything. Something.

Just get started

Like last week when I told you it’s ok to just be done and not perfect, you just have to make a start.

When I’m faced with a to-do list that is longer than a two-day hangover, and even after prioritising my list I still don’t know how I’m going to get through it all, I pick one thing and move one step in the direction toward getting it completed.

I open a new post and give it whatever headline I can think of at the time (I can always change it later!). When it comes to writing the post further down the track, at least a post has been created for it and that’s one less thing I have to do.

Sometimes I open a new post and just write whatever is in my head about what I want to say. And then come back to it the following week. I always get a spark of recognition, which reminds me of something else I wanted to say, and then suddenly I’m off.

Sometimes I look up just one article I think will be a useful resource and take a few notes.

I move one step in the direction towards getting it done [tweet that!] Then the next time I think about writing that post/updating that schedule/creating a social media strategy I feel much better knowing it’s already been started and I just have to swoop in and tie up the loose ends. Sometimes those “tying up loose ends” actually means “doing the whole thing” but it’s a relief knowing it’s begun. And “well begun is half done”, as they say (thanks Mary Poppins/Aristotle).

Feeling a bit lost? Here are 4 ways to boost productivity and motivation on your blog so you can get back in the game!

Do a Brain Dump

This is the fastest way for me to lessen the anxiety that can come with a giant to-do list. It’s such a useful tool for getting everything out of your head and onto something permanent that you can keep adding to, and you can get an overview of everything that’s on your task list which gives you a better idea of where you are, what’s a priority, and what you should be spending your time on.

Use a white board, a piece of paper taped to the wall, lots of post-its, a google doc, an Evernote note, etc – whatever you have that’s big enough to contain all the bits floating around in your head that you need to tackle. Don’t be shy, put every little tiny thing on there and finally get it down once and for all.

Separate those tasks into “right now”, “in the next year”, and “long-term goals”. I often use a new sheet of paper for each of these lists and transfer everything across, but you can highlight them in different colours, or stick them on post-its, whatever works for you.

Feeling a bit lost? Here are 4 ways to boost productivity and motivation on your blog so you can get back in the game! Make a Cheat Sheet List

The next thing I like to do is check that master list of things to do, goals I want to achieve, and sundry tasks to be fulfilled and break them down into as many 10-minute tasks as I can. Then, when I’m feeling a bit lost at sea and haven’t got the motivation (or the time) to tackle one giant job, I pick one 10-minute task from my cheat sheet list (you can have one list for everything, or a list each for the short and long-term goals) and just do that one little task. I often then spend more than 10 minutes on it because I end up getting on a bit of a roll and can often get through quite a few of those small tasks – but it’s easier to sit down and do a small job when you’re feeling overwhelmed rather than be facing a massive job that you just can’t get your head around.

It stops me from floating around in that headspace where everything seems so overwhelming that I end up doing nothing (that overwhelm can often be what contributes to hoarding, as well as the pursuit of perfection, and I definitely hoard tasks instead of doing them!), and means I can actually cross a few things off my list because they only take 10 minutes, and that’s great for a feeling of productivity! And feeling productive then motivates you to be more productive and you feel like you’ve spent your time well instead of wasting it.

Feeling a bit lost? Here are 4 ways to boost productivity and motivation on your blog so you can get back in the game!

Be Creative

Get the brain working with less of the writing and logical bits of the task, and focus more on the creative parts that will spark thinking. Brainstorm the visuals for your post or social media, find an image to use or take your own, play around with fonts, give yourself 10 minutes to think of new ways you can promote the post, or devise a community challenge around it. Maybe think of an out-of-the-box way to create an affiliate post, or a different way to showcase a recipe. When you don’t sit down and stare at a blinking cursor trying to figure out what to write, but instead do some more imaginative, visual stuff, you often find that the task ends up in a natural state of flow and you complete more than you thought you would.

The extra bonus of this is that you find new ways to do things, it sparks ideas for more content, and can even motivate you to do the tasks you were dreading half an hour ago.

So remember: just start, even if you don’t finish. You’ll be thanking yourself next time you sit down to tackle that big to-do list!

What do you struggle the most with? Time? Overwhelm? Comparison? Let’s chat!

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama or be entertained on Facebook.

9 Hurdles I’ve Faced as a Blogger and How I Got Over Them

9 hurdles I've faced as a blogger, and how I got over them :: problogger.netI was speaking at a small event here in Melbourne recently and I was asked about the common hurdles bloggers face when building profitable blogs. It’s a difficult question to answer, as everyone’s hurdles are different – as are their coping strategies.

In today’s podcast I thought going through the hurdles I’ve faced personally in blogging and the strategies I used to get over them might be useful. You might recognise some or all of them, or you might know someone struggling with one of these (in which case, feel free to share this post with them!). I’ve also included links in the show notes for you to get more information.

The obstacles in my journey I’ve faced to get to where I am today first started with technical know-how – or rather, lack thereof. As a result I made a huge amount of mistakes that meant it was a slow and painful beginning. I’ve learned so much over the years, and as I did I made better and better choices so there are six tips in the podcast that should ensure you avoid or at least minimise the hurdles along your own path.

I also talk about fear: fear of looking stupid, fear of being criticised and even personally attacked (and how I dealt with a particularly frightening encounter when it was happening to me). There’s a section on building readership, which is incredibly frustrating when you’re writing good content but nobody is reading it, and a section on finding the right monetization model, blogger’s block, blogger’s burnout, narrowing your niche, and getting your time management balance right. All things I’ve struggled with but eventually found a way out of.

You can listen to the podcast here, or over at the show notes of episode 57.

9 Hurdles I've Faced as a Blogger and How I Got Over Them - on ProBloggerWhat do you struggle with as a blogger? Have you found an effective strategy of getting around it?

Further Reading:

The 9 Habits of Blogging to Increase Your Chances of Success

This is a guest contribution from Jerry Low.

There is one thing that all successful bloggers have in common with one another:


They all have habits that keep them focused and productive no matter what else is going on. They can easily navigate the highs and lows of life and still keep blogging away.

These habits force them to focus on things like learning new techniques consistently and seeking new knowledge about blogging, SEO and best practices. They also network with others restlessly.

In order to succeed in any area of life, you have to work on that area consistently. By building the right habits, you increase your chances of success. Think about some of the most successful people you’ve ever heard of.

As pointed out in a Forbes article about developing habits, Michael Jordan practiced jump shots even during his off season; and the Williams sisters practiced tennis every morning before school. To find great success, you have to do more than anyone else and you have to do it consistently.

Every habit you want to build can be broken into a specific sequence of steps. By focusing on these small steps, you build winning habits over time.

In the book “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard,” the Heath brothers suggest that to motivate the elephant (our emotion), you need to shrink the change.

What does that mean?

Build up the habit by taking steps to make it easier. Put your gym bag in your car’s trunk instead of focusing on the whole process of packing your gym bag, driving to the gym, sweating the heck out of yourself, driving back, showering, and unpacking the bag. Focus on one task at a time.

The same concept applies to blogging.

Focus on small tasks you can do, one at a time, and build the right habits. In fact, from my own experience and observations on other bloggers, having the right habit is the most important element in successful blogging.

When Ariana Huffington started the Huffington Post in 2005, people made fun of her. However, she had a vision. She consistently recruited celebrity bloggers and used some traditional, consistent marketing tactics. The rest, as they say, is history. She left many of her critics in the dust.

TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington provided solid technical information and news that anyone can understand. It is not the third most popular blog in the world. This was accomplished through consistent habits of posting about tech topics and being on the cutting edge of breaking news.

If you wish to have success as a blogger, here at the habits you should develop and keep:

1. Take notes anywhere, anytime

Find the most convenient way to keep all your notes together. There are many ways to do this. You can use index cards and file them. You can jot them down in your phone and transfer the ideas to DropBox or another online storage system. You can file them into folders on your computer.

The main point is to stay productive at all times. It doesn’t matter how you take the notes, just that you take them and make them easily accessible for future reference.

Personally I use Evernote to record all ideas and any reading online that I want to refer back to later. I use Evernote because it is easy for me to synchronize everything between my tablet, PCs, and mobile phones.


A quick view on my Evernote – where you can see how I group my readings and ideas into different notebooks.

2. Ask the right questions, always

Robert Kiyosaki shares a trick in his book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”: he says you should always ask “How can I do this…” anytime you’re impressed by someone else or like an idea.

For example, you listened to one of Pat’s Smart Passive Income podcasts. You think that it’s the best blogging resource ever in the world. So, you ask, “How can I do something like this?”

When you look at another blogger’s income report, ask, “How can I make my blog better than theirs?”

By asking the right question (how?), you open yourself to endless possibilities.

By asking the right question (how?), your brain doesn’t stop at admiring others, but works to repeat what you admire. You keep yourself busy searching for a way to make others admire you as well and to emulate those you look up to.

3. Always optimize your content for search engine traffic

Even though we shouldn’t rely on search engines as our only traffic source, Google is still an important source for targeted audience traffic.

First, always include relevant keywords in your post headlines and titles. Do enough keyword research to understand what searchers are looking for typically and what other bloggers in your niche are writing. This means you should be doing keyword research just to see what is trending, what is getting the most traffic, and what you might want to write about in the future.

Some of the tools you can use for this research include:

4. Post your content to social media at the right time

Nearly all bloggers probably agree that sharing your content on social media isn’t optional. If you want to increase your reach, reach your readers, and get people talking, you simply have to have a social media presence at a minimum on the big three (Google+, Facebook, Twitter).

However, timing those posts just right can have a huge impact on how successful your social media campaigns are.

Generally speaking, if your targeted audience is mainly in the United States, the retweet rate could be 2x higher if you post at 6 p.m. instead of 6 a.m. according to KISSMetrics. Facebook shares on Saturday could be 100% better than shares on Sunday.

Not only does what day you post matter, but what time you post and even what words you use and the size of your image.

Figure out the best time to post on Twitter/Facebook/Pinterest for your profile by using freemium tools such as Adespresso and HootSuite. Then, simply share your important posts during prime time.


I manage all my Facebook campaign via AdEspresso. As you can see – one quick way to optimize your FB ads is to look at the “Best Period” to post your ads.

5. Stay away from distractions when writing

It’s easy to get distracted while writing. Whether you are in the kitchen and your daughter walks into the room and starts talking in the middle of that sentence you are writing, or you have a television playing in the background and something captures your interest, you may get distracted and lose your train of thought.

Our brains are not designed to multitask effectively. Apparently, our brains just don’t like to multitask. Doing more than one task at a time creates “splits” in the brain, which are called “spotlights” by researchers. So, your brain is just racing and trying to switch quickly between different tasks.

Researchers have found that it can take time for the brain to shift from one task to the other. Even if it is only 1/10th of a second, it reduces our attention to that task. While studies show that women are better at multitasking, it isn’t ideal for anyone. It is better to focus on one task at a time. You’ll actually get more done and get it done more quickly.

To work more efficiently and focus on the task at hand:

  • Turn off phones, email notifications, TVs
  • Logout from your favorite social media networks
  • Use a distraction-free tool such as OmmWriter or Cold Turkey if necessary

6. Maintain a balanced life

Burnout can be a serious problem with bloggers. You may have been working on your blog without a break for months on end and seeing very little reward.

It is important to maintain balance in your life or you may burn out, walk away from your blog and never return.

Take time out of your schedule to spend with family and friends. If you are religious, allow time in your schedule to attend ceremonies.

Spend time on other activities you enjoy. You’ll also be surprised at how motivation will strike when you’re doing other tasks.

7. They take care of themselves

Life is busy for everyone. You may have an outside job and blog at nights or on the weekends. Perhaps you have a family or a busy social life as well.

It can be hard to find the time to take care of ourselves with so much going on, but if you aren’t feeling well it is hard to do everything from stay on top of the tasks you need to complete to focusing on writing the best content possible.

  • Get regular exercise to keep your body healthy and your mind focused.
  • Don’t get so busy that you skip meals.
  • Get enough sleep. If you stay up until 3 a.m. every night working on articles, they may or may not make much sense to anyone else.

8. Network with others

Successful bloggers know that blogging can be hard and lonely. They don’t try to go it alone. Instead, they develop a network of like-minded website owners they can turn to for advice, guest posts, links and support.

For example, there are many groups on both Facebook and Twitter in just about any niche you can imagine that are solely for the purpose of networking. For example, if you are a garden blogger, you might join a group on Facebook for gardening bloggers.

Once you join these groups, fellow members will offer advice, tips and will like and share your content on social media. This expands your reach and it expands their reach as you return the favor.

Networking builds your audience and gives you a sounding board.

9. Last but not least, be consistent

In lists of habits of bloggers, there is one thing that comes up over and over again. Post consistently and be true to yourself and your audience.

  • Use analytics to figure out high traffic times for your blog and then choose that time to schedule posts.
  • Post on social media at the same time and on the same days so your followers know they can count on you.
  • If you have a voice, don’t try to change it. If your view today is that widgets are the best thing since sliced bread, you better have an awfully good reason if you plan to change that opinion.
  • Respond to reader comments. They should know they can count on interaction from you.

Your readers will come to trust your integrity and know they can count on you and will feel comfortable sharing your blog with others.

Look at Your Reasons for Blogging

In the end, it boils down to your reasons for blogging.

Do you actually have something to say or some unique knowledge to share? If you are only blogging to make money, then you’re a lot less likely to be successful.

The minute you aren’t making money or it takes longer than you thought it would to make money, you’ll abandon your blog. Instead, focus on reaching one reader you can help or building your audience. The monetization will take care of itself over time.

Jerry Low is a geek dad who enjoys building web assets. Learn how you can grow and monetize your blog better in his recent post here.

3 Project Management and Organisational Apps that I Use in My Blogging

The last two weeks have been crazy. I’m sure you know the type of weeks I’m talking about. Onn top of my normally full weeks…

  • I impulsively decided to launch a month of daily podcasts (and I crazily decided to do all of the show notes, editing and production myself)
  • We launched our mid year sale on dPS
  • Our two day ProBlogger event is just 5 weeks away and preparations are getting to that ‘frenzy’ point
  • I accepted 9 invitations to be interviewed on other people’s podcasts
  • 3 out of 5 of our core team are away overseas so I had a few jobs that I’d normally have them do on my list
  • Two of my sons had birthday parties – shenanigans!!!
  • It’s school holidays so I’ve had to take a couple of afternoons off to do family stuff
  • I had a full day photoshoot to get some new headshot scheduled

In hindsight I probably bit off a little more than I could chew – although I do find that when I’m busy I am more productive – but I’m also feeling pretty much in control this week for two other reasons.

Firstly, I really believe that my recent changes in healthy living have played a massive part in helping me stay in control, not feel overwhelmed and being super productive. Diet and exercise are paying off in many ways!

Secondly, for the first time in a while, I feel like I’ve got my act together with a task management workflow that is working for me.

Someone asked me on Periscope earlier in the week (yes I’ve started using it this last week too – find me at @ProBlogger) what tools and app I use so I thought today I’d jot talk about 3 that I’ve found helpful in this crazy period. I hope that they help others who might be looking for some help in this area and would love to hear what you’re using below in comments!

1. Task Management – Wunderlist


Wunderlist is the latest tool that I’ve added to my system.

I was previously trying to use Evernote for task management but found it came up short for me on that front. While you can set reminders in Evernote I needed to be able to see a days tasks in a list and to be able to move them around easily, set recurring reminders, create sub lists etc.

Wunderlist has enabled me to do this and more (and I’m still discovering its features).

  • I love that it sits on my iPhone, Macbook and iMac (and my new Apple Watch)
  • I love that I can set up folders for different types of tasks
  • I love that I can set myself due dates and reminders
  • I love that it gives me a ‘smart list’ for todays tasks, this weeks tasks etc
  • I love that it allows me to set up recurring tasks (daily, weekly, monthly etc)
  • I love that it allows me to share lists (although I’m a bit scared to let my team or wife add to them yet!)
  • I love that I can email myself tasks
  • I love that I can add to my lists from browsers to take note of what I want to read later
  • I love that I can add notes/comments to my tasks
  • I love that I can put my tasks into my calendar

I’m also excited to see some Wunderlist integrations with Zapier (which I’m yet to explore) which allow it to be connected with other apps including Evernote.

2. Calendar – Fantastical 2 from Flexbits


I’ve always been a big user of Apple’s Calendar but in recent months I’ve found myself increasingly frustrated by it. This has been because I’m finding my days are fuller and fuller of appointments, reminders and tasks and I just wasn’t satisfied with the way they were being displayed.

I wanted a daily view that arranged my tasks better both on my computers, phone and watch. I had tried a few of the alternatives including the original Fantastical app but it wasn’t until I found the updated Fantastical 2 that I found something that suited my needs.

I will say I’m still on the trial and have not committed to buy it (I’m not a fan of having to buy it for my computer AND my phone) but I’m very tempted.

In many ways it has the same features as the normal Apple Calendar but it just displays what I have on each day/week better and I find that if I’m seeing what I have on arranged better then I spend less time messing around in my calendar and most importantly I miss less appointments!


I particularly love the ‘mini window’ which is in my menu bar on my computer which is a quick glance of my day that is easy to scroll through into future days.

Adding appointments is really easy too – you can do it in a very natural language (although Apple’s calendar isn’t too bad at this either).

The iPhone app is fantastic too – so easy to use, clearly laid out and very intuitive. The ‘daily ticker’ is really cool.

Screen Shot 2015 07 09 at 11 36 43 am

It looks good on the watch too!

NewImageI’ve also set up a Wunderlist calendar so my daily tasks are imported into my Fantastical calendar!

Last of all it syncs really well with other calendar apps so if it doesn’t work out I can always go back to another option.

3. Project Management – Evernote


While I’m not using Evernote any longer for task management I’m still a big user for many other things. I only really adopted it a few months ago now after seeing one of my team members use it for a day while we were travelling but it has literally changed my life in so many ways!

I have notebooks set up for many aspects of my business.

For example the ProBlogger podcast has a notebook which has notes for:

  • outline/plan for future episodes
  • each episode’s outline which contains bullet points I want to hit and notes that later become show notes
  • templates for sponsor mentions
  • brainstorming of ideas for future episodes/guest
  • marketing ideas

I am also finding that I’m writing more and more of my blog posts in Evernote. I just wish there was a way to export them directly into WordPress (I’m sure it can be done with IFTTT but I need a dummies version. Update: I’m told by Chris in comments Coschedule has this feature – I’m going to test that out!


  • I love that I can share notes or notebooks with team members.
  • I love that I can use it to scan documents on my iPhone and then keep them there.
  • I love that I can record audio notes to myself (or my team) on my phone and store them there.
  • Most of all I love that it is always with me in my phone or computers. Having such a powerful tool there all day means I’m capturing (and being able to find again) a lot more of my ideas whereas previously I had ‘notes’ everywhere (in my pocket on paper, on different apps, in different documents etc).

What Productivity Tools and Apps are you Using Right Now?

I’m using a heap more than these 3 tools but these 3 are more recently adopted ones for me that I’ve not written about previously.

Note: I should also mention that another ‘newish’ tool we’ve been using as a team lately is Slack. It’s more of a communications tool that we’ve particularly been using among our events team but it is certainly something I see us using more and more going forward in other aspects of the business too.

I’d love to hear what tools you’re using and how you’re using them in comments below?

What does the ‘Pro’ in ProBlogger Stand for?

Startup Stock PhotoI overheard an interesting debate on Twitter recently about what the ‘Pro’ in ProBlogger stands for.

Is it to signify professional behaviour, or is it about the profession of blogging?

The answer is both – but in my mind it’s more.

Here’s what the Pro in ProBlogger means to me

I’m Pro Bloggers – I love bloggers

As a 16-year-old I took a short course in public speaking.

This was an unusual move for me because I was a very shy kid who had a small group of friends. The idea of speaking in front of a room of people terrified me, but as I wanted to conquer that fear I took the class.

At the end of the course I had to stand up in front of a room of 60 or so people and talk for five minutes. I’d never felt such a rush of exhilaration and I saw people in the audience respond positively to my words and it triggered in me the beginning of a passion for communication.

I’ve explored many forms of communication over the years but when I stumbled across blogs for the first time in 2002 I knew I’d found something special. What other tool could amplify the voice of an ordinar guy like me around the world to millions of people?

I love blogging and I love bloggers and what they do day in and day out with their blogs. This blog is written by bloggers for bloggers and my hope is that it’ll help them to step closer to their potential.

It’s about the Profession of Blogging

For the first 18 or so months of my blogging, I didn’t consider the idea that it could be anything but a hobby. That changed through a series of events including starting a little digital camera review blog and stumbling across the brand new Google AdSense ad network.

To cut a long story short I began to experiment with making a little money from my blogs with the hope of covering my server costs and with the dream of one day being able to make enough money to get off dial-up internet and onto broadband.

Gradually I made enough to do both those things and the income grew into the equivalent of a part time income. At this point I created a category on my personal blog for ‘blog tips’ and began sharing what I was learning.

My income continued to grow until I reached a point in late 2004 where I realised I was going to have a full time income from blogging and that it had the potential to be my career or profession.

I began to search for other full time bloggers and found very few writing about their experience so decided to start a blog on my journey to ‘go pro’ as a blogger. was born and I imported all my previously written blog tips from my personal blog over to start it in September 2004.

I can’t lay claim to inventing the term as someone had already registered (which I later bought). They were not really using the domain (but seemed to have plans to develop a blogging platform) and as far as I know, I was the first person to use the term to describe someone making a living from blogging.

The early days of the blog were simply me sharing my journey of making a living from blogging. I wrote more general blog tips but the focus was always upon helping bloggers to sustain writing about their passions by building profitable blogs.

It’s about Positive Blogging

I’m a glass half full kind of guy (most of the time) and was brought up by parents who taught me to always look for the positives in situations I face, and in the people around me. Similarly, a phrase that was often heard in our house was ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all’.

This has all rubbed off on me and the way that I blog and I’m a big believer in spending 99% of my time doing things that are constructive and positive rather than focusing upon negativity, controversy, or picking out the fault in others.

I’ve seen many blogs about blogging come and go over the years but have noticed one type of blog tips blog ‘go’ (or die) more often than others – that being the type that dwells of the negative more often than the positive.

A number of examples come to mind (that I won’t name) but all of which either focused upon critiquing the approach of others, causing division, stirring up controversy, and basically attempting to get traffic by causing trouble.

While in some cases the negative tactic worked in getting eyeballs, each of these blogs is inactive today, and conversations with several of the bloggers concerned revealed that they couldn’t sustain the negativity and ended up burning out.

They also reflected to me that because they blogged negatively that they drew around them negative readers, and while traffic often rose so did a brand that they didn’t really want to be associated with in the long term.

In my experience, a blogger sets the tone for their blog. If you blog with a negative stance you tend to create a culture of negativity that others pick up on and join in on.

This is why some blogs end with with a cesspool of negativity in their comments.

On the flip side if a blogger models constructive and positive blogging this can help with building a strong positive and constructive community of readers.

While there will may be times to call out bad behaviour, write a justified rant, or offer a critique, my hope for ProBlogger is that it is a place for positive and constructive advice that brings about lasting change for those who read it.

It’s about blogging Professionally

My hope with ProBlogger is that it is not only a blog that helps others to ‘Go Pro’ as bloggers, but that it inspires them to do so in a professional and ethical manner.

A few years ago at a business conference I met a small group of attendees at a networking session, and on mentioning what I did, one of the members of the group burst out with the statement “but all you bloggers are scammers and sleaze bags!”

I’ll never forget that moment and the anger that the gentleman spoke with.

After an awkward silence for a few seconds, he shared his story. It wasn’t a pleasant one.

Sadly he’d been ripped off by a blogger who claimed to be able to teach him how to make a fortune from blogging with his $3000 ‘program’. The program turned out to be a poorly curated collection of posts from ProBlogger and several other blogging tips blogs and the promised coaching and support never eventuated.

Unfortunately this is not an isolated story, and one of the difficult parts about blogging about making money blogging is that the unprofessional and unethical actions of a small few bloggers in this niche hurt the reputation of the rest of us.

ProBlogger has no $3000 programs and makes no promises of overnight riches from blogging. Making money from blogs generally takes a long term approach and a lot of good, old-fashioned hard work.

While the temptation to take short cuts through unethical ‘black hat’ behaviour exist, the reality is that doing so puts you at the risk of being caught out and having your reputation hurt.

My goal with ProBlogger is to create a site that helps bloggers to blog well about what they’re passionate about, to build business models around their blogs to help them sustain what they do, and to do it in a professional and ethical way.

A Powerful Exercise inside Google Analytics to Set You Up for a Successful Year of Blogging

Have you started the year off on the right foot? I hope you had a worthwhile end of 2014 and are looking at 2015 with excitement and anticipation!

Today I wanted to share with you an exercise that I do on my blogs at the end of every year that helps me to grow my blogs in the year that follows.

I find that it both inspires me to get moving on the new year of blogging but also gives me some starting points for direction for the new year.

It’s an exercise that I do over the last week of 2014 and the first week of 2015 but is also something you could spend just 10 minutes doing and still get some value from.


It all starts for me in Google Analytics (the tool I use to track how my blogs are performing). You may use a different tool which will get you the same results (and if you’re not using something please do).

Note: I know the mention of ‘analytics’ is enough to put some of you off reading on any further. I get that – I’m not really an analytical guy. In fact anything with numbers or statistics elevates my blood pressure and makes me want to run screaming into my happy place. But bear with me – the numbers are just the starting point for this exercise and not the main thing!

I’m going to break this post down into three main sections which are based upon the three main categories in Google Analytics – ‘Audience’, ‘Acquisition’ and ‘Behaviour’.

I should say that there’s a HEAP more we could drill down into than what I’ll cover in this post but my hope is to give you some starting points to do some analysis in.

Note: Google Analytics also has ‘Real Time’ and ‘Conversions’ sections. I’ve previously touched on Real Time stats and it’s not as relevant for the type of analysis we’re talking about today. The ‘conversions’ area of analytics is something I’m still relatively new to so won’t be touching on today.

OK – grab a cup of your favorite beverage and make yourself comfortable – this will take a little while but I hope will be well worth your time!


Audience Overview

Firstly I log into Google Analytics and head to the ‘Audience Overview’ and plug in the dates for the full year to get a quick overview of how the year was. I usually look at things first in a ‘daily’ view to see where the spikes were and get a sense for the weekly cycle of traffic.

Blogging exercise daily overview

Note: all the screenshots in this post are stats from my main blog Digital Photography School (dPS). They are stats just for the ‘blog’ area of that site and not the forum or sister sites.

You can see in the above chart that there’s some regular patterns to traffic on dPS. Each week there is a spike (related to the day we send our newsletter) and a lull (weekends). There were also a few great spikes where we had posts go viral (this is something to investigate and take note of – we’ll touch on it later).

From this chart I immediately can begin to see that there wasn’t huge growth in the site over 2014 – although things were definitely lower at the start than the end.

To get a better picture of growth I find looking at a weekly and/or monthly view can be helpful. Here is the monthly view.

Blogging exercise monthly overview

Now we have a clear picture of the months things did well and slowed down. We can immediately see February was lowest (it always is for dPS – mainly because it has less days) and December was our record month (ever).

Some of these peaks and troughs will be seasonal but others are not. For example July and August tend to be slower months for us as many of our readers are out and about enjoying the Summer of the Northern Hemisphere.

Compare This Year to Last Year

Another fun chart to look at here is to compare 2014 with the year before.

To do this click on the date section and tick the ‘compare to’ box and plug in last year’s dates like this:

Blogging exercise comparison

You can again view this by day, week or month. I like monthly as it can show you seasonal impacts. Here’s how mine looked:

Blogging exercise monthly comparison

You can see here the Feb slump in both years as well as the November and December rise.

I love this comparative view because it shows the real growth we’ve had. While you can kind of get the feeling some of the other views above that we grew over the year it’s a relatively flat line.

This comparison shows that even in November where the lines are closest that we had 31% more traffic than the previous year. April was 82% higher than the previous year.

Note: comparison reports are a lot of fun and can be very motivating. Here’s how I use them during the year to keep my blog growing month to month.

Scroll further down the report and you get more comparative data:

Blogging exercise monthly comparison 2

We can see here that overall we were up by 51.58% in terms of traffic, 31.87% in users and 39.03% in page views – all good signs.

Below however we see some areas to work on. Pages viewed per session, time spent on site, bounce rate and new visitor numbers were all down (I’ll dig into the reasons for this below) – something we need to work on improving in 2015.

We had already noticed this and are getting ready to launch an evolution of our design that is all about trying to get visitors to view more pages per visit (which will lift their time on site and decrease bounce rate).

If you scroll down the page further you can also do some comparisons from year to year on other areas including language spoken by visitors, their location, the browser they use, operating system, screen resolution etc.

A couple that interested me:

Blogging exercise monthly comparison location

While numbers of those visiting from the US have growth significantly (62%) as a total percentage of our readers we’ve seen a fall and much faster growth in terms of our readers from parts of Asia.

This is something to keep in the back of our mind as we think about content but also how we monetise the site.

The other big shift from 2013 to 2014 was the growth in mobile use of the site which we can see in looking at operating systems used.

Blogging exercise monthly comparison operating system

Mobile vs Desktop

While we’re talking about devices lets quickly click the ‘Mobile > Overview’ item in the menu on the left of the page and see the comparison of desktop to mobile and tablet.

Blogging exercise monthly comparison mobile overview

As I mentioned just a couple of months ago in a post here on ProBlogger mobile/tablet traffic is now overtaking desktop traffic on many sites. In fact on dPS in December we saw desktop traffic make up only 46.41% of the overall site traffic with mobile getting 39.11% and tablets getting 14.48%.

Thankfully we now have a fully responsive design on the site!

One interesting thing I noticed looking at the breakdown of mobile/desktop traffic is the difference in bounce rate on them.

Blogging exercise mobile analysis

Mobile traffic has a significant higher bounce rate and lower page views per session/time on site. This is an ever increasing problem with mobile traffic growing and gives me some great information to feed into our site redesign – we obviously need to think about how to get those viewing the site on mobile to view more pages. It’s not the only reason these stats are down though (read on to find out the other part of the issue).

Lets move onto the ‘Acquisition’ section.


OK – so in the Audience section we saw we had some decent growth in traffic to the site. In the Acquisition area we can begin to analyse where that traffic is coming from.

Acquisition Overview

Click the ‘Overview’ item in the menu for a quick top level look at where traffic is coming from.

Blogging exercise acquisition overview

Obviously organic search is driving a lot of our traffic (44.4%) with social and direct each contributing around another 25%. Email looks small but a lot (in fact most) of the ‘direct’ traffic is actually from our email newsletter. There is also talk lately that some direct traffic is actually mobile traffic from Facebook.


Drill down further into each of these channels by clicking the ‘channels’ item in the left hand menu. In turn you can begin to look at each channel in turn and look for trends.

We could spend a lot of time digging around in here and it can be well worth doing – but for the purpose of this post here are a few things I found.

Firstly – a lot of the growth to dPS in 2014 can be attributed to social traffic – in particular Facebook.

While I know many publishers have become frustrated with Facebook in the last couple of years I have persisted with it – in fact I’ve put more time and effort into developing a rhythm of posting to our Digital Photography Facebook page (and even started a second Facebook page).

Here is a chart of all social traffic (blue line) with Facebook (orange), Twitter (purple) and Pinterest (green) to show you just how much Facebook is responsible for our social traffic.

Blogging exercise acquisition social

This above chart is both simultaneously encouraging (that all my work on our Facebook page is paying off) but also worrying (that perhaps we’re becoming too reliant upon Facebook). It is inspiring me to think about how to grow other social channels in 2015 (something I’ve begun work on with Twitter in the last week).

What I find really interesting looking at social traffic is that it’s this traffic that is dragging down our performance in terms of pages viewed per page, bounce rate, time on site and ‘new users’ that I mentioned above.

Here’s some analysis of our social traffic:

Blogging exercise acquisition social analysis

You can see there that Facebook traffic brings in only 23.99% ‘new’ visitors to the site. It’s very much about engaging with regular/loyal readers. This is great for building engagement but given Facebook brings in over 20% of our site’s traffic it has dragged down our overall stats in this area.

The same thing is happening withe ‘bounce rate which is a little higher than the site average’, pages viewed per session and average time on site.

Knowing this gives me a little comfort but also motivates me to work harder on our design to get more pages viewed per visit.

Referral Traffic

Another thing I noticed in the acquisition area is that ‘referral’ traffic only makes up 4.98% of our overall traffic. While this is still 2.3 million sessions its an area that I think there’s room for improvement on.

We did see one really nice day of referral traffic mid year after a mention in a Business Insider post – but other than that it’s been slowish (interestingly that post was syndicated on many other sites also which led to a lot more little trickles of traffic for the months after).

Blogging exercise acquisition referral

I’ve not really spent much time in the last couple of years working on this. Perhaps it is time to start doing some guest posting or networking with other site owners.

Social Landing Pages

Before we leave the ‘acquisition’ section it is worth looking at the Acquisition > Social > Landing Pages report which will show you the posts and pages on your site that got the most traffic from social media.

This is actually a report that I spend some significant time looking at. Here are the top 10 results for dPS in this report (click to enlarge).

Blogging exercise acquisition social landing pages

This report is one that can be well worth some real analysis on. Dig deeper than the first 10 items though (you can show as many as 5000 but the top 100 or so will give you some great insights).

By looking it over you’ll identify some great information on what type of content is getting shared, liked and engaged with on social media.

This will hopefully give you some hints for what type of content you might want to create for 2015 but also might give you some hints as to how to engage on social media too.

For example the #1 post in this report is an old post on camera settings that I noticed did well on Facebook back in 2012. I reshared it on Facebook in December and it went wild again. In fact it did so well that it was responsible for our biggest day of traffic ever later in December and is still sending us traffic weeks later.

I can’t emphasise enough how powerful it can be to reshare content that has done well previously. So many bloggers only share their new stuff on social media and forget that there’s gold in their archives.

This report is great for identifying these shareable posts – I’d even go so far as to advise exporting it and using it as a part of your social strategy for the next 12 months.

Note: I’ll write more below on analysing content below in the ‘behaviour’ section.

If you click on any of the landing pages in this report you get taken to a page which shows you where the traffic came from.

For example item 4’s report looks like this:

Blogging exercise acquisition social landing pages report

This can help you to get a sense for where content might be being shared around.


This is by far my most favorite section in Google Analytics and I spend a lot of time in here during the year. I particularly love the ‘Site Content’ area – I guess because content is what I’m really most interested in.

All Pages vs Landing Pages

There are two reports here that I find most interesting. ‘All Pages’ and ‘Landing Pages’.

While both show similar data I think it’s well worth looking at both.

‘All pages’ shows how many times pages and posts on your blog have been ‘viewed’.

‘Landing Pages’ shows how many times a page or post was the entry page into your site.

While these might sound similar they can produce quite different results. Lets compare the two for my blog.

First ‘All Pages’.

Blogging exercise behavior all pages

Now ‘Landing Pages’.

Blogging exercise behavior landing pages

Obviously there are some similarities here but some differences too.

For example our ‘photography tips for beginners‘ page is in both lists but people land on it only 197,669 times in the year but end up viewing it 566,590 times. This is because it is linked to very prominently in the navigation menu. The reason I put it there was that I’d previously noticed it had a very very low bounce rate

You can also see in the ‘all pages’ report that our Cameras page is our 6th most viewed page on the site despite it not featuring prominently as a landing page. This is our category page for cameras on the site and is really useful to see as it’s a page that has not previously had as many clicks on it. Obviously our audience are increasingly interested in knowing more about ‘gear’ – this will inform our posts for 2015.

All Pages

The ‘all pages’ report is really interesting to look at how readers are viewing all posts and pages on your site.

Other interesting findings by looking at this report include that our ‘thank you for subscribing to our newsletter’ page is actually the 22nd most visited page on our blog. I’ve not updated that page in over two years – so this gives me cause to go to it and see if I can optimise it.

Blogging exercise behavior thank you

Another useful piece of information I found on our ‘all pages’ report were a couple of pages with odd URLS that were appearing in our top 200 pages viewed on the site. Both had /?s= strings.

Blogging exercise search results

These pages are search results pages. So over 83,000 people have searched for ‘lightroom‘ and over 63,000 have searched for ‘photoshop‘ in the last 12 months. While in comparison to other pages on the site this isn’t massive traffic – it gives us some hints as to what our readers are looking for and perhaps are not finding enough of.

This is great information for future content planning.

These two results were the most searched for terms on the site but it got me wondering what else people are searching for – so I dug deeper. I plugged in ‘/?s=’ into the search box in the ‘all pages’ report and ran a report on anything with this string.

There were 211,751 results to this search! That’s over 200,000 words or phrases that people have searched for in the last 12 months. Here’s the top results:

Blogging exercise more search results

These are all single word searches and give us some good broad information on topics people want information on – but dig further down into the search results and you start to get phrases and more specific searches.

Blogging exercise more search results 2

This is really useful information. While only 13 people searched for those terms I can already see topics that we could write posts on based upon some of the more common words and phrases being searched for.

You can bet that I’ll be digging further into this report and that it’ll be informing content on the blog in 2015!

Landing Pages

OK – digging into the ‘landing pages’ report is one of my favorite things to do as it gives some great insights into where people are entering your site – great information for thinking about how to grow your traffic further in the next year.

This is one report I regularly export into a spreadsheet to do more in depth analysis on.

How to Export this report Before you export it scroll to the bottom of the page and choose to show more rows than the default 10. I choose 100 or 500. Then scroll to the top of the page and look for the ‘export’ drop down menu and choose how you want to export it. I usually export as a CSV and then view it as a spreadsheet.

9 Questions I Ask Myself About Content Reports in Google Analytics

As I work with this report there are a number of questions I’m asking myself including:

  1. what posts you might want to reshare on social at some point? – if it did well once it might do well again (see above for an example of this).
  2. what types of posts/mediums get shared most? – for example I notice in our most popular posts this year were a number of cheat sheets and infographics. This gives us hints as to what kind of posts might do well in 2015.
  3. what topics are hot? – for example I noticed in our top 100 posts for social that we had a lot of posts on camera lenses that did well. This informs what we might do more of in 2015.
  4. what headlines did well? – I noticed in our top 100 posts that we saw a number of posts that talked about ‘mistakes‘ that photographers make doing well. While we don’t want to do these posts all the time they do do well on social so we’ll no doubt do a few more in 2015.
  5. what posts could you extend? – some posts that have done well might lend themselves to become a series. For example our post ‘the only three lenses you’ll need for Travel Photography‘ could easily be extended to feature lenses for other types of photography.
  6. what posts could be optimised? – if posts are getting decent long term traffic from search or social it can be worth thinking about how to update them either by adding new content or by optimising them for search or social traffic. For example I noticed that our post on ISO settings is ranking well in Google but was not in the top 2-3 results in searches for ISO – so I’ve tweaked the post hoping to help that.
  7. what posts that I expected to go well under performed? – a lot can be learned from posts that DIDN’T rank in the most visited post lists. Perhaps they had the wrong headline, perhaps they could be republished at a better time, perhaps they are just a signal that the topic isn’t of interest to your readers.
  8. what older posts that need updating are still getting traffic? – this year I’ve noticed a number of 7-8 year old posts still getting significant traffic from Google. While some of them have evergreen content that is still relevant today a couple are very dated and in real need of updating.
  9. what posts are generating a lot of extra page views? – some pages stimulate readers to view a lot of other pages. On dPS I’ve developed number of what I call ‘sneeze pages’ that propel readers deep within the site. For example this year I notice that anyone entering our blog on our Portrait Photography Tips page is going on to view over 5 other posts on the blog. These pages that ‘over perform’ are ones to consider adding to menus, side bars, ‘further reading’ on other posts and sharing more regularly on social media.

Other Behavior Reports to Look at

There’s a lot more in the beheavior area of Google Analytics to dig into. Site speed is one to watch and work on. We’ve worked hard in the last 18 months to speed up dPS (although we could do more) as Google seem to be putting more emphasis on the speed of a site when working out how to rank it.

If you use AdSense on the site there’s some good data in Analytics too if you sync them up. Doing some work on working out which posts in your archives are most profitable on that front can certainly help you in working out which posts to keep promoting and what kind of content seems to be converting.

Summing Up

The above description may seem a little overwhelming but I cannot emphasise enough just how important it is to begin to develop this kind of analysis of your blog.

You may choose to only do some of this or might focus on other areas – but the more you know about how your blog has been travelling the better position you’ll be in to plan for future growth!

Effective Planning for Video Content

This is a guest contribution from Robert Benoit.

Video production is a great way to engage and expand an audience, whether it is for a blog, website or business venture.

Whether you’re an established blogger or simply trying to break into film production, developing a video requires the consideration of some key pieces before, during, and after the green light process.

If you’re thinking of diving into video production, the following tips may give you the edge you need to create the best video content without spending more than you need to.

Establish a budget

  • You can only imagine how often people will go into the production of a video and spend more than they have. This can be a disastrous situation, it’s best to avoid it and be smart. You want the video you’re making to be the first of many, not the last, so sit down and decide on a set amount of money you’re willing to spend on the production. This will save time and money in the long run.
  • Bonus Tip: It is important to map out the length of the production to estimate how long it will take to film. Quickness and efficiency will be an essential component to this process!

Think about your audience

  • Based on your business or interests there has to be a certain audience you want to reach with this production. Are you a musician trying to send a certain message or a small business attempting to reach those in the public that would benefit from your product? No matter what the message or purpose, there is an audience waiting for you to grab their attention.
  • Therefore, it is important to think about your audience before deciding the content of your video to ensure it is a piece of content they enjoy and like. Think about their interests, behaviours and what they like about your blog or business and be sure to incorporate these into the video in some way. This helps to ensure the video is relevant for your desired audience and is something they find enjoyable and interesting.

Storyboard your ideas

  • A beneficial part of this process is storyboarding as it allows you to organize the story you wish to tell and how you can visually achieve it. By analysing your video content frame by frame before filming, you will have an idea of what pieces of it work and can redesign the ones that might not. How can you determine this?
  • Look at the still frames and think, which ones enrich the emotion and theme of the content. Those are the ones you definitely need to include in your video.

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 10.40.09 am

Tools of engagement


  • While raw video footage is the skeletal structure of your project, video-editing effects are what allow the viewer to engage with the content and understand the overall message you’re trying to convey.
  • Remember the film “2001: A Space Odyssey?” Near the beginning of the film, ‘The Dawn of Man’ segment shows apes violently using bones to beat each other and then the bone is thrown into the air. Then the frame immediately cuts to a space satellite, four million years later! Kubrick makes a match cut from one time period to the next. What he’s trying to relay to the viewer is that humanity at one time was primitive and now views itself as technologically advanced.



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  • An effect used largely in the “Star Wars” film franchise by George Lucas is the wipe effect. This is utilized when a scene ends where a line wipes the previous scene away on screen and simultaneously reveals the next scene.

Why use this effect? It can establish an emphasis on events taking place linearly, allowing for action to blend with more action in two different places.

Be original

  • The single, most important thing you can do to arrive at the best video content possible from a production is to be original. Standing out from the crowd and avoiding secondary ideas will show in the final product, presenting the world with a video that is unlike anything else is the goal of any video production. Never forget to keep in mind “originality” above all else.

Now it’s up to you to take the necessary steps towards your successful video production. Believe in yourself and do your best to enjoy the process from start to finish. Careful planning pre-production is key, if you want it to go as smoothly as possible and remember the purpose of your video and the audience it is being aimed at, at all times during production. Ultimately, originality and relevance are the two most important features of a video. As long as it is something relevant to your target audience that they haven’t seen before they are sure to love it.

Robert Benoit is an intern at Phink TV who is currently studying English Writing and Mass Communication at Assumption College. He was born in Worcester, Massachusetts and is currently studying abroad in London. His future aspirations include film production and professional scriptwriting, as well as a passion for developing creative works.