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

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 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.

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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 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.