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Tips for Writing Hardworking Posts – Part 2

JohnevansHere’s part 2 of Tips for Writing Hardworking Posts by b5 blogger John Evans.

I’m John Evans and I write Windows Vista and Microsoft Weblog for b5media. My personal blog is SYNTAGMA.

In Part 1, I looked at how a blogger’s “backlist” could be made to work harder by interlinking posts within a blog archive.

Here I’d like to give some thought to why certain posts become “hardworking” in the first place, and how this quality can be replicated in new posts.

I used the case of a post I did on Blogsmith, Weblogs Inc’s in-house blogging tool, a post that generated a continual stream of search traffic months after it was written. I believe this became a hardworking, much-searched post because it contained unique information.

Remember, I’d actually asked Jason for this info, so all other posts written on it referred back to mine. The post also ranked highly for the keyword “Blogsmith” which apparently interested a lot more people than I’d imagined.

Another “unique” post which generated lots of traffic for months, was one on the mysterious Google browser. Rumours had been going round for ages that they were working on this at the Googleplex. But you know how secretive those guys are … no hard news leaked.

Then one day, my stats (good old SiteMeter) showed a visitor who used a browser called Google 4.0. I wrote a kind of fantasy post about a mythical monster landing on Syntagma’s shores. From that moment until I closed down the Blogspot site, there was constant search traffic to the post. Again, it was unique information, not just commentary on another blogger’s post. So uniqueness makes for hardworking entries. And interlinking within the archive makes them more hardworking still.

What other qualities create hardworking posts? If we look at the way we read our newspapers, we might get a few clues.

Generally, we turn to the hard news first, especially in our interest groups. So it might be the sports section. We’ll skim down looking for our team by name and digest the facts. The same with politics and general news. We’ll look for hard facts and create an image in our minds of the shape of the day.

Then we’ll turn to the op-ed pages and search out our favourite columns, usually written by a big-name journalist. We will, at this stage, be seeking a pre-digested version of the news, with special insights from somebody in the know.

Thus, we want hard facts first, then additional commentary to make sense of them from a trusted source. These are the basic elements of a hardworking post.

1. Hard facts.
2. Unique information, wherever possible. You’ll need to seek this out or it won’t be unique.
3. Your take on the facts. This is your op-ed moment, when you add value to the baseline information you’ve assembled for the post. If readers begin to trust your opinions, they’ll come back for more.

The electronic marketplace is flooded with content, to the extent that the price of it as a raw commodity is next to zero. However, your content will rise in value when it attains a permalink which is indexed by the search engines. Now your post is not just a transient bit of fluff blowing away in the wind. It becomes a stable part of the Internet conversation, accessible by anyone over time, and a store of value for the blogger or blog owner.
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Niche Blogging Benefits

It’s Day 8 in the b5media 12(ish) days of Christmas Series and the next contribution is from By Tammy Powley from the Jewelry and Beading. She’s going to talk Niche Blogging. Feel free to add your own reflections and experiences on niche blogging in comments below.

Right now, I maintain three weblogs: Jewelry and Beading at b5media.com; Jewelry Making at About.com; and The Jewelry Weblog at Creative Weglogging. Notice a trend? While each blog has a different flavor, they all focus on one topic – jewelry.

After many years working as a defense industry technical writer, I always wanted to become a freelance writer. Jewelry was the way I accomplished this. It was my “niche,” my forte, and the way I managed to eventually write for the Internet, get published in magazines, and write and consult on a number of books. I was lucky that I happened to stumble onto my niche, and by focusing on one topic, I have found a good deal of success as a freelance writer and now Internet weblogger.

Niche blogging is a great way to promote your writing/blogging career and can even be fun, especially if you pick a topic that you’re already passionate about. If you’ve been struggling with your blog identity, moving from one topic to another but never really sure of where you’re headed, then consider the benefits of niche blogging.

  • You become an expert. When you concentrate on one topic, you eventually become an expert. Your knowledge grows and so does your reputation. This can lead to more writing work and recognition. As an example, I was recently interviewed by another freelance writer for an article she was working on for Art Jewelry magazine. I’m not getting paid in cash for this, but it will pay in promotion for me because she agreed to include the URL of my writing site (www.tammypowley.com), which has links to all my other blogs and web sites.
  • You can cross promote yourself. For example, use blog rolls to include links to your related sites. I do my best to keep each weblog I write filled with new content. However, if I have a new article or e-course on my About.com Jewelry Making site, I make sure to blog about it at one point or another on my Jewelry and Beading blog at b5media.com. I also blog about my latest hardcopy publications such as magazine articles or books I have pending. Keep your content fresh and new for all your blogging, but there’s no reason you can’t mention some of the same topical information.
  • You build an audience. By positioning yourself as an expert and cross promoting your on line and off writing, you build an audience. Readers of one blog turn into readers of your web site who turn into readers of your books. As you build an audience of readers, you build your reputation in your chosen topic field. I’ve received numerous publication opportunities from the fact that someone found my blog or web site. They liked what they saw and emailed me about possible writing projects. Also, when I query about new writing jobs, once I mention a URL or two of mine, those “in the know” often already know me and have read much of my on line work already.

Niche weblogging, of course, first requires a niche. Pick something you are already knowledgeable about and extremely interested in because it is what you will focus the majority of your blogging efforts around. You don’t want to get burned out in just a matter of months. Many of us have interests, hobbies, or a vocation that may be the perfect niche topic for a weblogging career. More than likely, you already have a niche; you just haven’t purposely concentrated on it in order to reap the full benefits of niche blogging.

Get a Little Bit Personal

The next post in the b5media 12 Days of Christmas Series (I’m keeping a full list of posts there now) has been submitted by Christina Jones, another of our newly merged blogs fom the About Weblogs Network. Christina blogs for us at eBeautyDaily and the Birthday Blog (which will be merged over onto it’s new domain and design shortly). Here’s Christina’s tip on Getting Personal on your Blog

Hi there – I am Christina Jones, from eBeautyDaily, and I want to offer my thoughts to you about the importance of getting to know your readers. One of the joys of reading other peoples blogs is getting a glimpse into their lives and their personalities. For some reason, this is always fascinating to us as humans. I have blogs ranging from the very serious to the very informal (with eBeautyDaily falling somewhere in between), but in all of them, you can see a personal part of me. I try to write from the heart rather than from the wallet. Without the heart, you might as well be writing a press release.

As a Problogger it can be beneficial to you to encourage your readers to interact with you and express their feelings about your topics so that you can gear your writing and your advertising towards things that they might be interested in. I believe this is the reason that blogs have become so very popular as a method of building a business, and as stand alone businesses themselves. Two things that I can’t stand to see on a blog are a lack of ability to leave comments, and no contact information. These are the very first steps to getting personal with your readers – without them I immediately wonder if I can trust any of the information I am reading, and I usually never return to the blog.

Yes, I know, you will get some spam. There are dozens of scripts to cloak your email address that you can look into, and most blogging platforms have options or plugins that can stop comment spam from overtaking your blog. The few moments of time tending your blog comments are nothing compared to the benefits you will receive from interacting with your readers. Also, don’t slack on responding to your comments, this is the interactive part of blogging, and what makes blogging so much fun. This is also the place where you can really reveal your personality, especially if you are blogging about more serious subjects. And don’t forget to thank your readers for reading occasionally. Ideally you are building a community, and if they don’t believe that you care about them, they might forget to care about you.

I hope you have a joyful holiday season, and thanks for reading!

Fund Your Love of Blogging

Nikki-BioThe next post in the b5media 12 days of Christmas series is from Nikki, one of our newer bloggers who has joined b5 as a result of our merger with the About Weblogs network. Her blog is on fashion accessories and is one of the AW blogs that we’re still to bring across onto a new domain and design. I hope you enjoy what Nikki has to say.

Hi, I’m Nikki from The Fashion Accessories Blog and I’m here to talk to you about the pros and cons of advertising on your blog. The upside is easy – you get to make money doing something you love. The downside is not so pretty – you can lose portions of your readership, you can destroy your design, you can lose your credibility, and more.

So how do you integrate some money-making ideas without losing the focus of your blog? It’s actually pretty easy. Advertise products and services that apply to your blog topic.

Blogging about dogs? Include your favorite collar accessories and link to them with pictures via Commission Junction.

Blogging about the real estate process? Include a Google AdSense banner in your sidebar that will pull up real estate related links.

Your readers won’t be as rebellious if you are including advertising that is applicable and useful to them. Some may speak out against your desire to make a few dollars, but if they’re not willing to help fund your hosting costs with a Paypal contribution, try not to let their comments get to you.

On the other hand, if you’re including distracting ads from a multitude of random companies – and your followers can’t find your blog categories because they’re buried far beneath the fold, don’t be surprised if you find your pageviews beginning to decline.

Happy blogging and happy holidays!

It’s all about the lifestyle

The next post in the b5media 12 days of Christmas is from one of the first bloggers to join b5 – Jayvee Fernandez who is one of our tech bloggers. He’s also one of numerous b5 bloggers from the Philippines. I’ll allow him to share more…

I’m Jayvee Fernandez, editor of Cellphone9. Though I feature a lot of tech news and product reviews, I believe the competence of C9′s content hinges more on buying advice, product comparison and taking product reviews one step further from being more that “matter of
fact.”

Though it may not seem like an obvious difference, there’s a big shift in focus when people talk about blogging about technology versus blogging about the technology lifestyle. Case in point – when people turn to me for buying advice on what the best gadget there is out there, I always throw back the question – “What are you going to use it for anyway?”

If you take a look at the bigger tech blogs in the blogosphere, you’d notice that they are characterized by a witty pen (err keyboard), pre-press release rumors, and product reviews slash features in various forms. Engadget for instance does the whole Unpacking thing, which is sorta like a geek strip tease and can be, often times, arousing to the geek eye.

There are so many tech blogs around, maintained by enthusiasts like you and me. But how does the small gem outshine the big one? Sometimes it just has to do with the polish. What I’m saying is, if we take tech blogging from the point of view of a gadgeteer’s lifestyle, then I think we’re on to something.

Blogging with the tech lifestyle in mind is a very huge niche that offers several advantages to aspiring bloggers:

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Ethics for Science and Health Bloggers

Our Second post in the b5media 12 Days of Christmas series is by Hsien-Hsien Lei. I’ll let her introduce herself and tell us about the topic of – a topic that might well be worth thinking through for all types of bloggers but which is particularly relevant for some in a field like Hsien-Hsien Lei.

Hi. I’m Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei and I write the Genetics and Public Health Blog. Unlike most of the other blog tips you‚ll be reading about in this series, mine will be geared towards science and health bloggers who, I think, have greater responsibilities to their readership. We’re not just blogging about the next generation of iPods or the latest celebrity to make a fool of himself. We’re blogging about life and death.

So maybe I’m being a little over-dramatic. But it’s true that science and health bloggers need to fully disclose any information that may mislead readers. For instance, I am a doctor, but I’m not that kind of doctor; I hold a PhD, not an MD. That makes a huge difference in how I understand and interpret the latest science and health news.

From the start of the Genetics and Public Health Blog, I made it clear that I wasn’t beholden to any advertisers or sponsors. While ads may appear on my blog, they do not influence my writing in any way. Everything I write is my own opinion. No one tells me what to write.

I encourage all science and health bloggers to write a post answering the following 10 questions posed by The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health:

1. Who runs this site?
2. Who pays for the site?
3. What is the purpose of the site?
4. Where does the information come from?
5. What is the basis of the information?
6. How is the information selected?
7. How current is the information?
8. How does the site choose links to other sites?
9. What information about you does the site collect, and why?
10. How does the site manage interactions with visitors?

My answers are posted at the Genetics and Public Health Blog. If you choose to answer these questions too, leave me a comment!

Blogging for Money and Tax

There’s a useful post by Bill over at BaseBlogging about Accounting for Bloggers where Bill interviews an accountant, Brian Borawski from Tigerblog, about tax implications and financial structures for bloggers. It’s probably more useful for US bloggers but might give those of us from other countries a few hints at the type of questions we should be asking our financial advisers.

Blogging Rhythms – Clearing the Inbox

Every morning when I get up there is a all manner of things waiting for me in my inbox. This morning there were 251 emails (it was about 6 hours between checking them – this number doesn’t include the 200+ emails that came in telling me about deleted comment spam). The morning inbox clearing process is taking an increasing amount of time. It has this strange way of setting the agenda and tone of the day. I always approach it with a mixture of apprehension and excitement at the unknown things it might contain.

In the inbox this morning was:

  • 100 or so comments from my blogs (a few of them spam that got through the spam killer plugins that needed my attention)
  • a couple of blogging opportunities to follow up (I’m always amazed at the array of interesting projects people are working on)
  • two requests for interviews (one podcast one, another via email)
  • a load of b5 correspondence from b5 bloggers and directors
  • 80 or so news alerts and press releases on different keywords that I follow in Google News and Topix (yeah I know they do RSS, but there are a few words I like to follow via email as well)
  • one or two hate emails (unfortunately a daily thing these days)
  • a couple of encouraging emails (I try to focus more on these than the previous category of emails)
  • 15 ‘can you check out my blog/new product’ emails (emails that I find it hard to keep up with these days)
  • a number of suggestions from blog readers on how I might improve my blog or topics they’d like to see me cover
  • quite a few questions from my different blog’s readers (I get a lot of these on my digital camera blog)
  • a few suggestions of links I might like to check out.

Here’s three of the links suggested today from ProBlogger readers:

It was a pretty typical array of email to deal with. In fact it was probably a bit lighter than normal, although since daylight savings came in I find that the first couple of hours of the day tend to bring in the biggest numbers of emails each day.

Dealing with email can be a pretty overwhelming experience so I’m attempting to develop systems for dealing with it. I’ve slowed down the frequency that my email is checked, but also have a triage type system which I’m trying to use to help me deal with it. As it comes in I have three categories. [Read more...]

Ten Rules for Profitable Blog Startups

Evan Williams from Pyra Labs had an interesting post a few days back titled Ten Rules for Web Startups which has some interesting points – some of which might well by relevant to bloggers in start up mode. The bold points are Evan’s – the rest is my attempt to adapt it to blogging.

1: Be Narrow – Evan suggests focusing upon the smallest possible problem to solve – good advice for a start up blog as well as a company. I was asked in an interview today what my advice is to bloggers and one of the first things I said was to think carefully about the niche that you choose. While there are some successful blogs going around that don’t have tight niches, there are many more that choose a narrow niche and work hard at dominating it. It’s old advice that I rabbit on about a fair bit – but the adage of being a large fish in a small pond is probably one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given in this business.

2: Be Different – In this point Evan talks a little about competition (something there is plenty of in blogging these days!). There is loads of useful advice here that’s totally relevant for blog start ups. Yes there is competition – deal with it. Don’t let it get you down because competition can actually be good for your blog. There is always a way to differentiate yourself from the ‘competition’. Find the gaps around the niche that others are missing, be creative, be outrageous, be extravagant – do whatever it takes to stick out of the crowd. [Read more...]