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The Anatomy of a Blog

11-1 StaticPaul Chaney has a good post titled Ten Things To Do Before You Blog in which he gives…four… things to do before you start a blog (six more to come in a future post). He’s writing more about business blogs than entrepreneurial blogs like most readers here seem to run – but I particularly like his second tip:

Consider is its core message. What are you going to write about? What topics will be covered? What “tone” will you give the blog? Are you wanting it to be warm and humorous, or more straightforward and informational?

You approach will largely be determined by the audience you’re attempting to target. Obviously, when writing any blog your primary consideration needs to be your readers, at least the readers you hope to attract. They will have the most bearing on the nature of the content and the way it’s presented.’

I think this is crucial in all types of blogs. Too many of the blogs that I follow don’t seem to have a consistent core theme. I’m not arguing that you can’t post on a variety of topics and even go completely off topic from time to time – but I think it’s important to have clear in your mind (and your readers mind) what the vast majority of posts on your blog will be working towards.

With this in mind you can actually begin to build into your blog threads of conversation that build upon and support one another and move your readers towards an objective or goal.

Heart Beat – For example here at ProBlogger.net the core theme or objective is to help bloggers make money from their blogs. This is the heart beat of my blog.

Skeleton – Once I identified this theme I had something to begin to build towards. Around the them I constructed categories (or sub themes if you like) that I felt would help me expand my overall theme. In a sense my categories are the skeleton which holds everything together. They remind me of my goal and give me a structure to work towards it from.

Muscle and Flesh - With categories mapped out I put flesh and muscle on the skeleton with daily posts. The daily posts break down the categories into bite sized chunks. In them the rubber hits the road and I communicate the practical advice that I’ve found to be helpful in achieving the goal for myself.

Here endeth the anatomy lesson

Productivity Tip #1

I’m having one of those months where I realize I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. What with catching up from a month off, to adding new bloggers to some of my blogs, to interviews with a couple of major newspapers, to working on a two day per week research position, to updating 20 blogs, to deciding this is the week to completely rework my Amazon affiliate links on over 5000 pages of content, to the normal hundreds of emails and IM conversations each day, to trying to run a church (it’s a hobby/passioin), to speaking next week on a four day conference (I really should do some preparation), to trying to start writing a book, to conference calls at all hours of the night….

I’m realizing that I either need to get myself a PA or I need to manage my time a little better.

So today I spent a little time reorganizing an area of my life that takes way too much time – Email.

Here’s Darren’s Productivity Tip #1 (there may never be a #2… I have no time).

Turn down the frequency with which your email platform checks your email.



Until today I had Entourage checking for new email every 4 minutes – all day long. That meant ever four minutes my concentration was broken and a potential distraction from the task at hand entered my life with a lovely chime and pop up on my screen notifying me of the incoming email/s. Due to the volume of email that I get there was usually at least one email every 4 minutes.

[Read more...]

Website Tips from Blogging Pro

Jacob gives his most important website tips over at Website Tips – Part 1. He focuses upon domain names, having a tableless design, simple design, search engine friendly URLs and keyword rich titles. He writes good, easy to grasp information on each topic.

I wish I knew some of these lessons when I first started blogging!

But wait there’s more. Also read Part II of this series.

Bloggers Block – Just Say Something

Peter has something good to say about those times when you have nothing to say – writers block.

His advice? Say something – even if it doesn’t feel too profound.

It’s a good point.

In fact it’s a strategy I use regularly and find to work for me. It’s quite amazing how often when you begin to write (usually complete drivel at first) that as you write you can often stumble upon something that’s pure gold.

Of course in these instances I usually delete the first paragraph or so – but some of my best posts emerged out of… well nothing.

Stepping towards $1,000,000

Jon over at Smart Money Daily has a plan – it’s a plan to make $1,000,000 gross income in a year from his online projects.

Ok – you might think Jon’s thinking a little too big – and maybe he is – but the think I like about his plan is that it starts with:

‘$50 a day gross revenue average over a one month period’

I’ve seen a lot of plans to make money online and they generally start with the grand goal of the $1,000,000 figure and fail to actually name any intermediate goals. Big goals are great – but some manageable starting points are often the keys to getting to them.

Jon’s plan is based upon the quality book by the name of E-Myth Revisited (affiliate link) which I’d highly recommend a read of (and which you can get a CD of also). Many of you will be familiar with the E-Myth so I won’t regurgitate it all here – other than to say that I’ve found it helpful in thinking about how to transition my blogging from a job to a business.

By no means am I there yet – the challenge still lies ahead of achieving the theory laid out in E-Myth – but at least I’m moving towards that goal and learning a lot in the process.

Becoming a Multi-Dimensional Blogger

Robert’s latest Corporate Blog Tip (#10) is simple but well worth taking note of:

‘If the only way people know you is through your blog you’ll be seen as a pretty one-dimensional person.

Blogging does have lots of advantages: lots of people can get to know you with a minimal amount of effort. But, when push comes to shove it’s not a way to build a really deep relationship.

There’s a reason why conferences are still very well attended: meeting someone face-to-face still is better than meeting them through a grid of pixels on the screen…’

He goes on to suggest a few ways to add another dimension to your blogging including podcasting, video blogs, hosting dinners, attending industry events etc.

I totally agree with what he’s saying.

I have a suspicion that the more places that your readers bump into you that the more chance you’ll have of making a good impression upon them and showing them that you’re multidimensional and no ordinary blogger.

An example of this is the numerous comments I’ve gotten from readers since starting to allow some of my posts to be republished at Web Pro News. Whilst I don’t get a lot of direct traffic from it, having my posts appear on another reasonably well respected and trafficked site puts my name, face (via a photo) and content in front of more people. Not only is it new people – but sometimes its the same people that see me here – which just reinforces my message.

I know a number of ProBlogger.net readers who became regular readers of my blog when they realized I was also a regular on Web Pro News. The same story is true after the last article that I featured in on my blogging in a newspaper. People who had previously seen my blog and had never returned came back for a second look (and stayed as regulars) after seeing the article.

So I echo Robert’s thoughts – let yourself enter new and even unexpected spheres.

Like he says this might include conferences or meeting people face to face, but it also might be as simple as a new blog, guest blogging for someone, writing a book or email newsletter, accepting an interview opportunity or letting some of your posts appear on another site from time to time. The more places you show up (in real life and online) the more chances you have to reinforce who you are to potential readers.

Bloggers block

Do you suffer from blogger block? Are there just some days where it’s near impossible to post because there is little or nothing happening on your particular subject or niche? Share your thoughts.

Personally I suffer it at seemingly random times, random in only that I have no control over the timing, and the more niche the topic the more likely it will occur. In the early days the Blog Herald was actually really hard to write for, mainly because 2 years ago there wasn’t a lot of blogging news. Today it’s a fair bit easier, although some days a harder than others. Now that I write for 4 blogs (or 5 if you include my guest spot here) its even more interesting. Being able to fill in here (and I believe Darren will be back here next week) has been a challenge, mainly because sharing advice or linking to others is sometimes related to mood or inspiration, some days I can be inspired with ideas, others I just ain’t. Blogs like PVRSpot which I really enjoy writting have actually proven hard to write for because the topic is such a niche that there’s not a lot of news, where as The Search Engine Herald presents the challenge of what to actually post because there is so much news about. In a different field I’ve guest blogged at The Gadget Blog when Colbert was away and although there is lots of input I’ve struggled to know how to differentiate the content, which is the blogs aim. How do you deal with a lack, or flood of source material?

Is Blogger the worst free blogging service?

I’ve got an interesting thread started at Blog Herald on an interesting topic that should be of interest to Probloggers: Is Blogger the worst free blogging service? that some readers might like to contribute to, but I’d like to add a little here. As a “Problogger” I’ve got to say that I’d NEVER set up a serious blog on a free service. Why? it’s a matter of control. If you are serious about blogging you’ll want to be sure that forever more you’ll have 100% control over your blog and will not be dependent on Google for your hosting. Every time I see a commercial or “Pro” blog launched that uses Blogger I cringe. Don’t get me wrong, personally I’ve always thought highly of Blogger and there is no argument that the service has played an important role in popularising blogs. But in business I wouldn’t risk my time and money on a third party where I’ve got no control over the hosting and future direction of a site, particularly if your site was on a blogspot.com domain. Using a free blogging service, even with Google behind it, is always a risk. I’ve got mixed responses on the actual service, as you’ll see from the post at the Blog Herald, but my advice: if you are serious about blogging you won’t host your blog on a free service.

Blog Tip: Hire someone for ad sales

The following blog tip has been submitted by Jon Gales – the editor of the wonderful MobileTracker blog. Learn more about Jon from this interview we did with him earlier in the year.



It’s very tempting to try and sell ads yourself—afterall, since you do all of the work why shouldn’t you get all of the ad revenue? Other than DIY programs like Google AdSense, I suggest that you let someone else take care of ad sales. There are a couple of reasons:

  1. If you hire a (good) professional, they are bound to be better at selling ads than you are. You could probably blog circles around them, but they can outsell you with their eyes closed.
  2. Separation of church and state. By this I mean the editor of the site isn’t the one collecting ad dollars. There’s a separation (though a loose one, you still have the final say over advertising deals) between your site’s content and its advertising. You wouldn’t want your newspaper’s writers also selling the ads. No investigative reporting would ever happen!

Since this is a comission business, your representative has it in his/her best interest to sell the highest dollar amount.