How To Be A Blogging Idol Instead Of An Idle Blogger

Todd Mintz writes a very worthwhile article at How To Be A Blogging Idol Instead Of An Idle Blogger which I think is a must read for bloggers wanting to start out in ProBlogging.

Whilst I don’t completely agree with everything Todd writes (I’ve never entered into a link exchange program or never bought a text ad for that matter) the article is brimming with useful information that Todd learnt in experimenting with blogs on the topic of American Idol contestants last season of the show. In particular he has had some success with the Bo Bice Blog.

Among Todd’s more useful tips are:

Have a narrow focus: The quickest way to drive traffic to your blog is through excellent search engine rankings. If you blog about lots of unrelated topics, you won’t rank well for any of your key terms….

Press Releases: Online press releases are an excellent way to generate notice for your blog. I created a press release announcing the launch of the blog, and once I decided to “actively” blog Bo, I wrote a release each week recapping the show and featuring highlights from the blog….

Involve Fans: When my blog reached a consistent 500 visitors a day, I decided to actively solicit posts from Bo’s fans. Sure, most blogs give readers the ability to post comments…but I thought that if I ran the comments as actual posts, I could create a “buzz” about the blog and generate large numbers of repeat visits….’

I subscribe to each of these tips and many of the other things Todd writes and think they apply not only to fan sites like the one he runs (keep in mind fan sites are hard to monetize…. I’ve been trying for a while now) but to most blog topics.

Blogging Rhythms 3 – Daily Rhythms

This Blogging Rhythms post should be a little shorter than the others (famous last words) as it’s focused upon a shorter rhythm – one of just 24 hours, the day.

Each of us have our own daily rhythms, times for waking up, eating, bathing, relaxing etc. Blogs often have up and down times during their day also.

For most of my blogs the most active times (in terms of traffic) tends to be while I sleep here in Australia and when Europe and the US are up and about (and surfing the web). This is of course a little different for my blogs on Aussie domains which have a nice busy time during the Aussie morning period when both Australia is awake and the US are having their early evenings.

So the question I’ve heard many bloggers ask is should such daily cycles impact the way they approach their blogging or should they just blog on regardless of who is up and surfing the web when?

My theory is that it’s worth considering when you post – but that it’s not worth getting obsessed by it.

My approach tends to vary from blog to blog. Let me unpack it a little:

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Blogging Rhythms 2 – Seasonal Rhythms

Another Blogging Rhythm that it’s useful to be aware of is the yearly rhythm.

Just last week I had an email from a reader asking me to take a look over their blog which they said was ‘in decline’. Ever since June they’d been gradually losing readers even though their Page Rank in search engines hadn’t changed and they were posting at the same rate as normal.

Northern Hemisphere Summer – After looking over their site I made the diagnosis that their blog was probably suffering from a variety of blogging seasonal depression disorder.

Traditionally traffic on the web (it’s not just a blogging thing) slows when the northern hemisphere hits summer. It’s not rocket science really – people take holidays – they go for walks in the sun – they play and watch sport – they’re not online quite as much and as a result traffic goes down.

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Combatting Blog Content Theft

Marketing Sherpa has a very useful article on Blog Copyright Theft which is full of all kinds of useful tips on how to protect your content.

Reminds me of an article I wrote a while back titled What to do when someone Steals Your Blog’s Content – Blog Blagiarism.

Interested to hear your experience and tips on protecting your content.

Blogging Rhythms – 1

Warning – Tangent Ahead! (I do get onto blogging eventually)

All of my friends are having babies.

It’s a wonderful thing actually – the pitter patter of little feet in our social lives is a really beautiful thing on so many levels. V and I enjoy our time with our friends so much – it seems every second day is cuddle time!

One of the things I’ve noticed about babies and our friends lives though is that they have their own distinct rhythms. Each baby we know has it’s own times for waking up, for feeding, for sleeping, for playing and for – well for making smells. No two babies are quite alike in this way.

I was chatting to a mate last week about this and his advice to me (not that we’re close to parenthood yet) is that it’s essential as a parent to be aware of your baby’s rhythm and to work with it rather than to fight it. Sure there are times when you might want to try and reprogram sleeping times – but to get into the rhythm of the baby’s life is a great starting point and is an essential part of a healthy life (for baby and parent).

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Principles of Choosing a Profitable Blog Topic

B.L Ochman has a post in which she summarizes information gleaned from an interview with Stephan Spencer who gives some solid advice on starting a blog. Here are two of his suggestions:

‘- Pick a very narrow topic. Nowadays even a blog specifically about Google is too broad. There is a blog about Google AdSense – now that’s nice and narrow, he says. “You are more likely to be seen as an expert in a narrow topic area.”

– Make sure you have enough content to be able to keep the blog going.’

Stephan’s approach is very similar to my own.

I was chatting on the phone to a reader wanting to start her first blog today. As we talked I realized that in choosing the right topic for a new commercial blog there are many factors that you want to weigh up and attempt to find some balance in. Some of these factors include:

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Perseverance in Blogging

Duncan has a good post over at Blog Herald about that talks about perseverance in building a blog. He writes:

‘Very few people find fame and fortune through launching a blog overnight, but over time most people can build a reasonable audience, or even more, based on perseverance at blogging, literally going the distance.’

Very true words from Duncan as per usual. Consistent, regular and quality posting over a sustained period are key to building a successful blog. If you’re not in it for the long term you’re unlikely to get far as an entrepreneurial blogging.

Responding to Blogging Criticism

Thanks to Robert for linking up to while I slept last night. It’s always nice to get a positive link from a larger blogger who sends an influx of new readers into your blog.

It’s been an interesting week here at ProBlogger for this reason – after the exposure I had in the Aussie Press and a few link ups from bigger bloggers I’ve ridden the roller coaster ride of publicity. With it comes some amazing opportunities but also a few hard knocks.

I’ve been on the receiving end of a few critiques of my blogging style this week – some of which have been quite valid and helpful – others of which have been quite scathing and verging on personal attacks (and of course quite a few of these are anonymous as per usual).

So what is my response to an ‘unfair critique’? Firstly I’d say don’t ignore it – I like to see every critique/threat/attack as an opportunity to better your blog and to win over more readers. How do you do that? Over the past couple of years I’ve developed the following type of process in responding to them:

1. Take a deep breath and give yourself a little space from the criticism – One of the worst things you can do when getting a critical comment or email is to respond in the moment out of the anger, fear, confusion and hurt that you might feel as a result. Go for a walk around the block, have a coffee, ring a friend or just take a few minutes to cool down before responding. At times I’ve even left responding until the next day when I’m thinking clearer.

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The Anatomy of a Blog

Paul 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 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