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26 Blogging Mistakes That Are Costing You Time, Money, and Credibility

Are you making these 26 Blogging Mistakes That Are Costing You Time, Money, and Credibility

This is a guest contribution from Iniobong Eyo.

You’re slaving at your blog. You’re working hard. Real hard.

But things are not just going your way. You’re hardly getting any traffic to your blog, let alone comments or shares on your post.

You’ve been around for a while, but you still can’t make money from blogging. Now you’re wondering: does this even work?

You try guest posting. You can’t get published on a blog worse than yours. You can’t help but think: “Are these bloggers always this wicked or is it just me?”

Wait.

You’re not doing it right. You’re wasting precious time. You’re wasting money. And you look amateur – even to your cat.

Because unknowingly you’re sabotaging your blog and your blogging career. You’re making mistakes.

I’m a content strategist, who recently started his blog. Over the past two years, I’ve seen firsthand what works and what doesn’t from client work. Don’t feel intimidated, I still make some of these mistakes on my blog.

You know the best part?

It’s not too late to correct them.

Measure yourself against any of these mistakes below, and see how you fare. And even if you feel you’re making no mistakes, there’s always room for improvement.

Content

1. You write and wait for the audience to come

This has been around for God-knows-how-long.

Just keep posting on your blog and eventually, the world will discover you and your blog. Content is king, right?

Wrong.

It’s simply misleading. Terrific content alone will not make your blog an overnight success. To put things in perspective, tons of blog posts have gone live already today.

You’d be hard-pressed to find and read even 500 posts out of the lot.

If nobody’s reading and sharing your posts, what use is it? Spending your whole time creating content on your blog is folly.

Blogging isn’t just writing epic content. There’s got to be time for other small things too. And they add up.

But more on that later.

2. You believe you know what good content is

No you don’t. Your audience decides if your content is good or worth reading.

It’s the reason why you may spend days on a post, fully expecting it to go viral once you hit publish, but it doesn’t.

Your post hasn’t provoked emotions in your readers, provided a detailed guide to carry out a task, or given insanely useful advice.

When you have lots of eyeballs on your blog and there’s no engagement in the form of comments or social shares on your post (if you allow comments), you need to write terrific content. Your readers’ version of it that is.

Go figure.

3. You fixate on your posts’ lengths

Does it really matter how long your posts are?

It does, and it doesn’t.

You should consider the content of your post. If you can say it in 500 words, you may do so. If you can say it in 5000 words, it’s okay too. Don’t waffle on and on.

But research has shown that longer posts do better on search engines. Longer posts get shared more. Longer posts have stronger keyword potential.

So ideally, aim around 1500 words and above for your posts. In most blogging niches, with some research, you can consistently hit that mark with every post.

But that’s not possible if…

4. You believe you need to post everyday

This isn’t very popular anymore, but it deserves mention.

It takes time to create quality content. Think hours, days, or weeks.

By continually replacing the latest post, you destroy social proof. The longer a post stays on your blog as your latest post, the more exposure and interaction it gets. Few people will spend their time on yesterday’s conversation when there’s a new one today.

When you post everyday, you have less time to promote your posts, less time to plan your posts, and less time to create assets for your online business.

Spend time to plan and create your posts. Don’t post everyday. Well, except if you’re Seth Godin

5. You hold back good stuff on your blog

You feel your ideas are invaluable and you’d rather write an e-book out of them, start a coaching course, or create a flagship product. Right?

Wrong.

If you’re not offering any real value on your blog, you’ll never have the loyal readers you crave. You’ll never be taken seriously. You’ll hold on to your “invaluable” ideas forever.

So how do you give your best?

Write every post as though you’re paid at least $200 for it. When your post is so valuable, people can’t help but talk about it.

You’ll think of what to sell later.

6. You do your best writing only on your blog

It’s true that many influencers do not write guest posts anymore. But some still do.

They use it to market new products, get new readers/subscribers to their blogs, and even get new clients.

If you’re just starting out, or you don’t have enough readers/subscribers yet, posting your best content on your blog is plain silly. 

Jon Morrow calls it “speaking to an empty classroom.” It can be the best article ever written on the topic, but is it any use if nobody sees it?

“Write guest posts for someone else’s audience, impress the hell out of them, and siphon a portion of their readership to your own.”

– Jon Morrow

Many bloggers and online entrepreneurs have built their blogs and businesses through guest blogging. I could write a book about them.

They could never have done it if they reserved their best writing for their blogs.

It still works now, and you should guest post more than you write on your blog.

So maybe if I ever get to write that book, I’ll feature your story too.

7. You believe making empty promises with your headline is a headline hack

It’s sad but true. But not surprising. Generally, humans have and will always love shortcuts.

“Hack” posts are popular for a reason. And that’s the problem. Imagine seeing a post with the headline:

“How to Legally Make $10 000 in Five Minutes or Less.”

To their credit, some people will find the headline outrageous and see it for what it is – a click bait. But the allure is great. That’s why they’ll click on it still.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I believe it’s easier to read this post in less than five minutes than it is to make $10,000 in less than five minutes. Or I have a higher chance of getting a new client here that pays an hourly rate of $5000 for my services than making $10,000 in less than five minutes.

You get the point.

Please don’t create curiosity in your headline when you can’t deliver on its promise. Don’t use such headlines unless you’re absolutely sure it’s something 95% of your readers can do in five minutes…or less. Or most will never take you seriously again.

Give them real advice they can execute in five minutes, or whatever length of time your headline says. Only then are you delivering on your promise.

8. You try too hard to be funny in your posts

You’re likely familiar with this saying:

“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

– William Shakespeare

The big question is: can anyone become funny? To answer the question, let me rephrase Shakespeare’s quote:

“Some are born funny, some achieve funniness, and some have funniness thrust upon them.”

I’ll go ahead and say it.

I don’t believe anyone can become funny.

Similarly, I don’t believe anyone can become a good artist, a good writer, or a good mathematician. Because nature plays a big part.

But I believe everyone can get better at whatever they do. Sounding funny may not be your strength, but you can actually get better at being funny.

Study the works (whatever that is) of funny people you admire, practice it in day to day conversation, where you’ll often get instant feedback. Over time, being witty may come more naturally to you.

It takes a great writer to express sarcasm or wit. If you try too hard, you may be viewed as insensitive, or plain rude.

No matter what, don’t forget you don’t need to be funny to inspire people, to encourage them, or to change their lives with your posts.

9. You think trying to be clever is best

There’s a wide range of actions this applies to. But let’s focus on writing.

If you’re using 20 words to convey ideas that can be conveyed in 10 words, it’s not clever.

If you’re displaying your command of English by using “gargantuan” instead of “big” or “massive”, it’s not clever.

If you’re making empty promises with your headline, its not clever.

Please, always strive for clarity. Don’t let your audience pause to think about the meaning of your words. It’s frustrating.

Daniel Oppenheimer, professor of psychology at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, sums it up best:

“You should use use instead of utilizing utilize.”

10. You believe you’re just a blogger

No. You’re not just a blogger. You’re an expert, a writer, an entrepreneur. Your blog is simply a platform for all that.

Almost all bloggers making good income have books, courses, software, or a writing career. That’s how they make money. Their blog is just a “giveaway” to attract clients or customers.

Darren has got books, courses, paid job listings, is a keynote speaker, etc. I am a content strategist.

What do you have? What do you do?

11. Being an expert means you’re always right or you always have the final say

So you’ve just written “201 Ways of Doing A and B” and you feel there’s no 202nd or probably a 250th way of doing A and B? You’re wrong.

You’ve just written “The Ultimate Guide to Achieving X Results.” A “lowly commenter” adds a step you missed in your guide or adds a completely different way of achieving X. Do you thank him or do you try to discredit him? 

Nobody knows it all. And everyone is entitled to their own opinion. And we’re all humans.

On your blog, you may be the mentor, teacher or expert. Does that make you any more human than anybody else? No.

When you make mistakes, own up to them. When a reader mentions a point you missed or probably didn’t think of, acknowledge it. When you write posts, realize you may not always completely cover every aspect of a topic.

All the above don’t destroy your expert status. It only reaffirms it and bonds you with your readers.

12. You only write when you’re in a good mood

That’s what many think when they start their blog. It is wrong…on many counts.

This has been my biggest hindrance – at least for writing on my blog. But over time, I’ve realized the truth in this lyrics of the Westlife song Angel:

“There’s always some reason to feel not good enough.”

A good mood is relative. You’ll never absolutely feel good. So stop procrastinating writing with this excuse.

Because good writers write. It doesn’t matter if they have a failed relationship. It doesn’t matter if they work long hours. It doesn’t matter if they’re sick. It doesn’t matter if their day job is sucking the creativity right out of them.

Be a good writer.

Write.

13. You believe when you’re writing about a topic you love, you’ll have no writer’s block

It happens to the best of writers.

Maybe you feel it’s not the best time to write. Maybe you’re afraid of putting out your ideas to the world. Maybe you’re a perfectionist and everything must be right before you touch a pen or keyboard.

Or maybe you’re just stuck creatively. No new ideas.

There are many suggestions on overcoming writer’s block or what Darren calls “bloggers’ block” which you can apply personally. And never feel that because you’re writing about something you love, you won’t have writers block.

Keep a notebook where you can write down ideas as they come to you. Or you may use an app on your phone to record ideas. (I use Jotterpad when I don’t have my notes with me). Over time, you’ll have more ideas than you can finish in a lifetime.

Trust me. Or just ask international freelance journalist Mridu Khullar Relph. According to her, she has three notebooks with ideas she can never finish in her lifetime. So her problem isn’t writer’s block, but picking ideas from her massive collection.

If writing ideas on your phone or notebook don’t help, forget it. Just write. After all, writer’s block stops you from writing. Overcome it by writing.

No excuses or justifications. Write.

Blog Promotion

14. You believe promoting your blog is something you do when you have time

For you, once you find time to write a post, the sense of accomplishment you feel is so great you forget something else.

Post promotion.

You’ve likely heard about the 80/20 principle of blog post promotion. That is: spend 20% of your time writing and 80% of your time promoting it.

Literally, it would mean if you use two hours to write a post, use eight hours to promote it. Or if you use two days to write a post, use eight days to promote it.

I’m sorry. It doesn’t always work that way. What if creating a post took you a week, would that literally mean spend 28 days promoting it?

Or what if you run a news blog and publish several posts daily?

There’s no rule set in stone. I believe that if you’re writing a post in 12 hours, you should spend at least 12 hours promoting it.

Bottom line is: If you make time to write, make time for promoting what you write.

15. You need profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google +, LinkedIn to successfully promote your blog

This is tempting.

I know you have just 24 hours in a day. Everybody does. So how do you build your following on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google +, LinkedIn and at the same time churn out great content consistently? It’s not possible.

Social media is important. But you can’t spend time on all of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google +, LinkedIn and expect to do well on any of them. Because concentration is even more important.

Pick one, at most two to three social media networks. Concentrate on them. Don’t divide your attention between all social networks under heaven.

Or you’ll never do well on any of them.

Making Money

16. You need an avalanche of traffic to make money from your blog

False.

The truth?

You don’t need thousands or hundreds of thousands of visitors to make money. With the right promotion and strategy, your very first visitor can mean your first bucks online.

I had a grand total of 122 visitors to my blog when I made my first dollar online.

Making money from a measly visitor count is possible too, except….

17. You think blog ads are the easiest way to make money online

Blog ads pay you peanuts. Earning money through ads is a painfully slow process. Without enough traffic, and I mean hundreds of thousands of visitors to your blog, the amount involved is so small it’s humiliating.

When you’re starting out, the fastest way of making money is by offering services.

Offer a coaching service. Offer consultancy. Offer to write for pay.

That’s the fastest way of making money from your blog. I offered writing services. That’s how I made my first dollar online.

When you do have enough traffic or enough subscribers, you can create and sell your own products, or do affiliate marketing.

Don’t think blog ads. At least not yet. Please.

18. You think making money from blogging is easy

Making money from blogging is everything but easy. Not trying to discourage you, but from these stats, 81% of bloggers never make $100 from blogging, let alone make enough to support themselves or a family.

Even if you’re trying to promote your blog or services on your blog through guest posting, you’ll never know how many rejections you’ll get before you get one post published on a top blog.

And even if your post is accepted and will potentially result in leads for your business, you don’t know how long it will take before it gets to your turn on the host blog’s content schedule.

If you’re using Facebook ads, you don’t know how many hundreds or thousands of dollars you’ll spend before you start getting some traction to your blog.

I could say same or worse about every other promotion strategies out there.

Blogging is not easy. But hardly anything worthwhile is.

19. You think blogging is easier than a 9 – 5 job

It actually depends on you and what kind of person you are.

The truth is: blogging is not for everyone.

With a day job, all you’ve got to do is be nice to your boss and do your work no matter how mind-numbing it is, and you’ll get paid your expected salary.

You’ll be paid the same amount whether you put in 70% effort or 150% effort in your job.

As a blogger, you’ve got to hustle. Hustle hard. The amount of effort you put in especially in the beginning is directly proportional to your ROI.

At a 9 – 5 job, your boss likely decides what you will or will not do.

In blogging, you may consume tons of information on what to do, but it’s solely your choice to decide what you will or will not do. And you won’t always make the right decisions.

I can go on and on.

Blogging is guts and perseverance. Blogging is falling and picking yourself up. Blogging is hard work.

It’s everything but easy.

20. You treat your blog like a hobby

Is blogging something you do because you’re bored to death and can’t think of nothing else?

Blogging is a business. Blogging is a job. Blogging is a profession.

You wake by 4am or earlier to start writing a blog post.

Let’s pretend playing cards is your hobby. I don’t believe you’ll wake by 3am just to play cards.

Your hard work and sacrifices from day to day and night to night is proof that blogging isn’t just a hobby.

So the next time someone asks you:

“What’s your job?”

Hold your head high and say:

“I’m a blogger.”

That’s why you need to start making money to show for it.

21. You think you should have (insert visitor or subscriber count here) before you start selling

You need to start selling from the day you launch your blog. Yes, you saw right.

You see, the earlier you start selling, the earlier you start making money, and the earlier you can hire needed help to handle parts of the business you suck at. Because let’s face it, you can’t do everything.

Money can be a good motivation to keep going even when you’re not getting traction to your blog. It’s easier to quit and give up when you’re making no money.

You may be a very good writer, but you’re terrible at handling technical stuff. The earlier you start making money, the earlier you’ll be able to outsource so you can focus on other parts of your business. And the faster you’ll grow your blog.

Start selling. Just don’t turn your blog into a massive sales pitch. And don’t be pushy. Because if you’re offering something your audience wants and needs, they will purchase it.

22. You don’t invest in your blog and yourself

Blogging isn’t necessarily cheap. You pay for hosting, you pay for email marketing services, you pay for plugins, you pay for software, you pay for custom design. Those costs add up.

As a blogger, it’s a good idea to invest in yourself. When was the last time you bought a book on how to improve your writing or blogging skills? When was the last time you took a blogging course? When was the last time you attended a blogging webinar?

See why you need to make money now?

Miscellaneous

23. You have no blogging goals

Which blogs are you planning to guest post on?

What must you achieve this month to feel you’re making progress with your blog?

Where do you see your blog six months from now?

If you’re scratching your head right now, then you need to start setting goals for your blogging.

Write down specific goals you have for your blogging. Qualify and quantify them.

Don’t settle for your existing conditions.

24. You don’t measure the value of what you do

Facebook ads or guest posting? Twitter and Facebook or Google + and Pinterest? Writing or hiring writers?

Do you know which of the above gives you more ROI? You should.

What’s the point?

If Facebook ads brings you more subscribers or customers as compared with guest posting on other blogs, concentrate on it. It doesn’t mean guest posting is bad or produces poor ROI. Maybe you just suck at it. Hire someone to help you write guest posts then.

Same applies to the other questions above.

Don’t waste time doing stuff you’re just not good at or stuff that bring you low ROI.

It’s best to start measuring your time in this way. Not just for increase in customers or clients, but for subscriber growth and traffic.

25. You don’t measure success financially

How do you define success?

Is it getting a guest post published on ProBlogger? Is it gaining new subscribers or customers? Is it getting emails from readers who have been moved by your post?

“Success” is an ambiguous term. All three questions asked above may define “success” to you. But don’t fail to think of “financial success.”

After all, that’s the dream right? Working full-time as a blogger, and getting paid to change the world.

You can’t do that if you have no financial goals. You can’t do it if you have no money. You can’t do it if you can’t afford to invest in your blog.

So start thinking: what financial goals do you have for your blogging? How much should you earn from your blog to be successful financially?

26. You try too hard to be original

Almost all topics in every blogging niche have been done bazillion times. If you’re insisting on originality, you’ll hardly get anything published.

Find ways to approach tried and tested topics from new angles. You won’t go wrong with that.

Or are you trying to invent an original marketing technique because available ones are not working for you?

Let me tell you the truth.

If they’re not working, you’re doing it wrong. Just keep practicing until you get it right. Then maybe you can add your own “style” to it.

Conclusion

Don’t be disheartened. Making mistakes is not the end of the world. Learn from each mistake you make. I still make some of these mistakes personally.

Seek the story of any popular blogger out there, you’ll find they made mistakes too, again and again and again.

But they learned. Because life is a teacher. The more you live, the more you learn.

And more importantly, the more you practice and put yourself out there, the more you’ll realize what works and what doesn’t.

Falling by making mistakes is part of life. Getting back up is living.And you should live.

Remember those naysayers who ask you jeeringly: “Does anyone make money blogging?” Remember your friends who believe dreaming of a career online is insanity? Remember how frustrated you’ve felt at your blogging efforts that you just let the tears flow?

You’ve come a long way.

You can do it.

Don’t give up.

What blogging mistakes have you made or learnt from? Which has hit you or your blogging hardest? Let me know in the comments section below.

Iniobong Eyo is a content marketing strategist who helps businesses grow by planning, developing and managing their content. He writes at The Refinement Blog.

11 Quick Tips to Get More Comments on Your Blog

Have you seen comments drop off your blog in the last few years? Try these 11 quick tips to get them back again! On ProBlogger.net

Episode 79 of the ProBlogger podcast is another episode short on time but long on information!

Today we tackle the topic of how to encourage your audience to interact with you more on the comment section of your blog. Nowadays the trend for readers to reach out on social networks means less comments on blog posts, but that doesn’t mean drumming up blog comments is a lost cause (although it can certainly feel like it)!

I’ve got 11 tips for you that cover everything from simply asking for comments (you’d be surprised how successful that strategy is), to writing style that invites comment, best formats for blog posts, and how to deal with trolls and spam – which seems to be growing by the minute.

If you have any questions, you can catch me on twitter @ProBlogger, or in the comment section here or on the show notes at ProBlogger.com.

What would you add to this list? Have you seen a drop in comments over the years?

11 Quick Tips to Get More Comments on Your Blog

Further Reading:

5 Ways I Use Habits to Stay Creative and Productive When Working From Home

5 Ways I Use Habits to Stay Creative and Productive When Working From Home: by Gretchen Rubin on ProBlogger.net

Folks, you’ll know today’s guest contributor author Gretchen Rubin from her bestselling books on happiness, habits, and human nature, her inspiring talks, and her popular daily blog GretchenRubin.com. Gretchen also shares practical, manageable advice on her podcast Happier With Gretchen Rubin, which iTunes just announced as one of the best of 2015. We are thrilled to have Gretchen on ProBlogger today, giving us her best tips on how good habits can help you stay sane and on track when your workplace is also your home. 

If you’re a blogger, and you work from home, it can be tough to stay productive and creative. You can always knock off some household chore – or take a nap on the sofa!

5 Ways I Use Habits to Stay Creative and Productive When Working From Home

In Better Than Before, my book about how to master habits, I identify the 21 strategies we can use to make or break our habits. I use many of these strategies on myself, to keep myself on track as a blogger.

1. I use the Strategy of Safeguards to put myself out of the reach of temptation.

To do the serious work of original writing—my most challenging kind of work—I take my laptop to a library that’s a block from my apartment, and there, I don’t connect to the internet. It’s easier physically to remove myself from the lure of my three monitors than to use self-control. Many people accomplish the same thing by using software to shut down the internet for certain intervals every day. Look for stumbling blocks, plan for failure!

2. I use the Strategy of Scheduling to do certain tasks at certain times.

It turns out that working is one of the most dangerous forms of procrastination. So when I tell myself, “at 10:00 a.m., I’m going to write that blog post,” at 10:00 I don’t allow myself to think that while I’m writing, I can also clean my desk, check email, post on Twitter, go over my calendar, or indulge in my personal favorite, do “research.” At the designated time, I do the task that I’ve identified, or I stare at the ceiling. Even when I don’t feel like working, I soon buckle down, out of sheer boredom.

3. I use the Strategy of Foundation to make sure that I move around a lot during the day.

Some days I go to the gym, or take a yoga class, or have a strength-training session. We also just got a new puppy, so I’m going for many more short walks during the day. Research shows that exercise helps me stay energized and focused—and for me, it also helps me keep my rear in the chair when I’m working, because otherwise I get very restless. Plus, as Nietzsche wrote, “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” I often find that I get a big insight or make an important connection when I’m out for a walk.

4. I use the Strategy of Monitoring to keep track of how much I’m posting.

How many posts am I really doing each week? We do a better job with just about everything (exercise, diet, spending, etc.) when we keep close track of what we’re doing.

Weirdly, I’ve found, it’s easier to post just about every day than to post some days. I usually post 5-6 times a week, so it’s part of my ordinary day. I don’t agonize, “Should I write something? I wrote yesterday and the day befofre, shouldn’t I get today off? I have a good idea for tomorrow, so should I take today off? I didn’t sleep well last night, I’ll write better tomorrow”, etc. But if I posted, say, three times a week, I’d go through that every time, I’m sure.

As it is, I just have to post. If you want a daily time log, to help you monitor how you’re spending your time each day, download it here.

5. I use the Strategy of Treats to make plenty of time to read.

The Strategy of Treats is the most fun We should load ourselves with healthy treats, because when we give more to ourselves, we can ask more from ourselves. Reading is my favorite thing to do, and when I give myself plenty of time to read for fun, I feel energized and cared for. Also, my reading gives me new ideas, illustrations, and insights, so it makes blogging easier, too. But I spend a good amount of time each week reading exactly what I want to read, not what I think I “should” read.

BONUS

Here’s a strategy that I don’t need, but many people do: the Strategy of Accountability. In Better Than Before, I divide people into four categories: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels. (Take the quiz here.) For people who are “Obligers” (which is the largest category, by the way), the Strategy of Accountability is crucial. Key. Essential!

If you’re really good at meeting other people’s expectations, but find it hard to meet your expectations for yourself, you must give yourself outer accountability. Start an accountability group (starter kit here, if you want to start one) where people hold each other accountable. Work with a coach. Find a client. Report to a buddy. Do whatever it takes—because for many people, writing regularly on a blog is something that just won’t happen, no matter how much they want to do it, if there’s no external accountability. Know yourself, and plan accordingly!

If you’d like to read more about how to use habits to make your life happier, healthier, and more productive, check out my book, Better Than Before. It turns out that it’s not too hard to change your habits—when you know what to do.

Bonus Bonus!

The paperback of Better Than Before goes on sale on December 15. To say thanks to people who pre-order before that date, I’ll give you my “21 Days, 21 Strategies for Habit Change” email series for free. Lots of ideas about how to keep those New Year’s resolutions! But it’s only free until December 15. Info here.

Create an Opt-In Incentive to Increase Your Email Subscriber Numbers

How to Create an Opt-In Incentive to Increase your Email Subscriber Numbers // on ProBlogger.net

If you were listening to the previous ProBlogger podcast episode about my top tips for building your email subscriber list, you would have heard me talking about creating an opt-in as an incentive for people to sign up.

In this next instalment of the #TodayNotSomeday podcast, I’m going to talk you through exactly how to do that!

Creating an opt-in has the potential to significantly increase your subscriber numbers by offering something truly valuable in exchange for the reader’s email address. They are sometimes called lead magnets, and you’ll have seen them on plenty of other blogs and sites you visit.

Even though creating an opt-in and working on building your email list is one of the most important things you can do as a blogger, I know there are plenty of you who put it off to worry about another time. I know this, because I’ve done it myself! We’ve only recently started offering something similar on Digital Photography School despite being aware it is something I should have done much sooner.

You’ll also notice I don’t have a lead magnet or opt-in here on the ProBlogger blog, but you’ll hopefully see us get this task off our “someday” list in the new year.

Today’s challenge isn’t just for those of you without a lead magnet – if you’ve already got one on offer, you might want to consider upgrading or determining if it’s time to create another? Something more up-to-date, something that will appeal to a different audience, something specific to one of your site categories, or something that could boost your current list?

In today’s episode I also discuss why you should create an opt-in, and the potential it has to grow your blog. We go over how to deliver your opt-in, what format it could take, and how you can figure out something that incentivises your readers to sign up to your list and stay engaged. There is also the option of considering a longer-term strategy or offering as opposed to a one-off incentive, and I give a few ideas here. I also go through the purpose it needs to serve, how you can create your offering, tools and services I’ve used, and that all-important aspect: getting the signup!

So good luck with today’s challenge of creating an opt-in for your email list. What opt-in will you be creating? What will it be about, and how will you deliver it? Be sure to use the hashtag #TodayNotSomeday when you share your efforts to social media so we can see how you’re all doing.

Further Reading:

 

Top Tips to Boost Your Email List Subscribers Today

Top Tips to Boost Your Email List Subscribers Today - all secrets revealed on ProBlogger.net!

Welcome to the second episode of the #TodayNotSomeday podcast series, where today’s challenge is one I would prioritise above all others: getting people to subscribe to your email list.

I started using email as a way to communicate with my readers back in 2007 when I started Digital Photography School and my dad, an aspiring photographer, didn’t use RSS (which was the popular way of getting your content out to readers at the time). I realised he would be better off having posts sent to his email address, so I set that up and kept it on the site as a secondary subscription option for readers. Pretty soon the email list overtook our RSS subscriber numbers – today we have close to 900,000 subscribers.

But why worry about email? Why is it more important to grow than say, the number of people following you across your social media channels?

Mostly because it’s familiar, and used regularly by most. Nothing has come close to killing off email, and you don’t have to worry about algorithms, news feeds, and the fleeting nature of social media. It’s an incredibly successful traffic-driver, exceptional for selling (either affiliate sales or your own products), it’s good for building community, and it helps build your brand.

In today’s episode of the #TodayNotSomeday series on the ProBlogger podcast, I want to share what I think the three keys are to a successful email list so you can finally get going on building that thriving email subscriber community you’ve always wanted!

You’ll also find today’s challenge (don’t forget to use the hashtag across social media so we can support and keep each other accountable!), and also some of the email providers I recommend (including a couple of freebies), and tips on how to optimise your email list if you’ve already got one set up.

There are plenty of different ways to entice people to sign up, and you will find each of them will convert differently. This all depends on what calls to action you use, where you use them, and how you use them.

There are diverse opinions on this, but a few things I’ve tested really have significantly improved my signup levels, and I discuss all of those in today’s episode. I’ll cover everything from colours, benefits, incentives, and where we’ve had the most success putting our sign-up box and calls to action.

You can find today’s show notes here, and I look forward to seeing what you all share with #TodayNotSomeday!

Further Reading:

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 reelseo.com, 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.

Lighting

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.

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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 ProBlogger.net: 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: