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How to Be A More Productive Blogger

Keith Robinson has a great post on how to Be A More Productive Blogger. He lists 13 (unlucky for some) points that he has found helpful in successfully creating content. It’s a quality list which I think would be helpful for bloggers big and small. Whilst there isn’t heaps of new thoughts for me in it I’m feeling quite inspired just reading it through. Thanks Keith – after a long week I think I needed this one. Here are his first few great points:

  • ‘Set aside time for writing (or podcasting, etc.) and stick to it. Sounds simple, but life (and work) has a way of intruding on these times. You need to hold on to your creative times at all costs!
  • Create (and stick to) a publishing schedule. I used to do this quite a bit when I was first getting started. It really helped keep me on track and motivated. Now I’ve got a loose schedule I use, but there are times when I try and plan out something more solid to help make sure I don’t fall too far behind.
  • Keep an Idea Journal. I’ve taken to having one by my bed, one on my person and if all that fails, I’ve got idea pages set up in Backpack. You never know when you’ll need a good idea!’

Keep reading this quality post at Be A More Productive Blogger

Found via Micro Persuasion.

Frequent Short Posts – A Secret of A-List Bloggers Success

Tristan Louis at TNL.net does an interesting post today which analyses 5 top blogs (Boing Boing, InstaPundit, Daily Kos, Gizmodo and Engadget) and how frequent and long their posts are.

‘The data became clearer. On that particular day, the top five bloggers created an average of 30 entries, with each entry being under 150 words.’

It’s a very interesting post and one that backs up a lot of the theory that I’ve argued here over the past 6 months. Frequent short sharp posts work on a number of levels:

  • Highly Targeted Content – A post of 150 or so words is likely to be pretty targeted on one particular topic. Search Engines love this – they know what it is about and will rank it higher on this.
  • Search Engines like shorter posts. I personally think 150 might be 100 or so words short of what is ideal for SE’s but the research shows that shorter posts tend to be dealt with better than longer ones by Google.
  • Readers like bite sized content - Research shows that readers scan content and that they rarely read things word for word. They also have notoriously short attention spans online. 150 words is easily digestible.
  • High quantities of posts = more entry points to your blog - write one long 4500 word post each day and you create 1 new page on your blog. This is one possible new entry point on your site each day that will be indexed by Search Engines, appearing in RSS feeds etc. Create 30 posts and you can see you increase the chances of your blog being found exponentially. Multiply this 30 daily posts by 365 days in a year and you start the see the potential of such a strategy.

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Blogging about Products

Trevor Cook has an interesting post reflecting upon one of the most highly posts on his blog – a post about ‘Gmail Not Working’.

‘it leaves me wondering whether one of the best ways of boosting traffic is to write lots of stuff about products, good and bad.’

In a sense what Trevor has accidentally found with his post is the power of the long tail and his suggestion isn’t too far from the truth of what a lot of successful bloggers are doing with their posting about products. Take a look at Gizmodo and Engadget as to big examples – both are posting specifically about consumer electronic products – each post on a different one.

Whilst they don’t post something good and something bad about each product – their model of generating traffic is obviously very successful.

It reminds me of a post I wrote months ago about a study that found that products and brand names were among the most searched for terms on the internet.

28% of all Google searches were for product names and 9% were for brand names. I guess it makes sense that if you want to tap into this need of web surfers that you actually do blog about products and brands.

Building Blogging Relationships – Attitude

In my recent post on Blogging in Formation – Lessons from a Goose I promised to write some posts on how to build blogging relationships. This will be the first of numerous posts on the topic.

Before I get straight into strategies about how to make contact with and build mutually beneficial connections with other bloggers let me suggest that a starting point is not about choosing who you want to connect with – but rather that its probably worth doing a little self analysis first. Ask yourself some of these questions:

- Do you have the time and energy to connect with other bloggers?
- Are you willing to be ignored, rejected and even abused by other bloggers?
- Are you willing to be annoyed by other bloggers that you don’t want to connect with?
- What are your motives for building relationships with others?

These questions sound a pretty negative place to start a series on relationships – but I think its important not only to talk about the warm fuzzy stuff of blogging but the cold hard reality that sometimes it can be a cruel environment and a lot of hard work. Blogging has a ‘light side’ but it also has a ‘dark side’ (use the force Luke) and its worth considering both.

Let me tackle each question in turn [Read more...]

Selecting a Niche Market for your Blog

Computer Toaster has a helpful article on selecting a Niche Market for Ecommerce (update: the link is now dead so I’ve deleted it) which whilst not written for bloggers has some useful tips on how you might go through such a process of choosing a niche for your next blog. It’s one of those ‘free articles’ – but one of the more useful ones I’ve seen recently if you’re looking for good basic information on this topic.

Update: the link in this post is now out of date – but on the same topic you may be interested to read my post – How to choose a niche topic for your blog.

Blogging Workflow – Tabbed Browsing

Matthew posts a useful little tip for bloggers who are Firefox users – he’s been experimenting with the tabbed browsing feature to speed up his blogging workflow.

My Blogging WorkFlow - I use Safari as my browser of choice and similarly use tabs in conjunction with Bloglines to speed up my blogging process. In short my blogging workflow goes like this:

  1. Open Safari – open Bloglines in the first tab.
  2. As I work through my RSS feeds if I see something of interest that I might like to post I open it in a new tab
  3. I open up to 10 tabs at a time – usually on a similar theme. ie I have a folder for each blog I write and work through them one at a time.
  4. I then sort through each item – looking at them in each tab and decide if they are blog worthy or not. I close any that don’t make the grade.
  5. With the remaining ‘worthy’ posts I then post them using ecto. Sometimes this might entail grabbing a quote from the open tab (ecto does this with one click – it even automatically includes a link back to the source) and then adding a comment or my own opinion to the piece. Other times it is piece that is totally my own content with a link back to the post that inspired it.
  6. After each post I close down tabs.

This workflow is quick, clean (I only ever have one window open) and a simple process that is hard to mess up.

Other Uses for Tabbed Browsing – I also use tabbed browsing in a couple of other ways. I have a start up/stats folder that I open every month that automatically opens up all of my statistics pages in tabs. This includes a sitemeter counter for each of my blogs, my adsense stats, some overall domain stats pages and affiliate earnings pages. I open this collection of bookmarks in tabs first thing every morning and once or twice per day just to keep a finger on the pulse. It means I only take 4 or 5 minutes to check the performance of every blog and income stream.

I also have a similar collection of bookmarks for all my blogs front pages, another one for all my income streams stats pages and another for my top 10 or so sources of information that don’t use RSS.

What is your Blogging Workflow like?

A Good Blog is…

Ken Smith from Weblogs in Higher Education has a good post where he attempts to describe a ‘good blog’ – he writes:

‘A good blog has a focus, a field or topic where the writer keeps up with what’s being said. The writer attends with interest to the work being done by others, and the writer’s thinking is provoked and advanced by the particulars of the work others are doing. The writer is generous with others, responding to their work and risking and sharing ideas with them in return. These values imply character on the part of the writer; anyone who writes seriously — has the character to keep at it — will develop a voice or style appropriate for the subject matter. This voice implies the writer’s character.’

I like what he’s included in this statement – it resonates with me on lots of levels. Particularly this statement about the ‘generosity with others’ and ‘risking and sharing ideas’ with others fits in nicely with my current series on relational blogging.

How would you define a good blog?

Blogging in Formation – Lessons from a Goose

Canadian-Goose

“Two Heads are better than one”…. or so the old saying goes.

I’ve been reflecting this week about the importance of relationships in blogging.

I met up with an old university friend this week for the first time since we studied marketing together – catching up stimulated me to begin thinking about the style of business we were taught. Whilst its a little fuzzy (we did spend a bit too much time in the pub) I do seem to remember sitting through lecturers that talked about competition and the ways to ‘beat your competitors’. The main thrust of a lot of what we were taught was to get ahead of the competition by developing the best products, getting the best people and accumulating the best information. The only interaction you’d have with competitors was when you were laying the boot into them (figuratively speaking). The motto was to win at all costs – me first – others second.

Blogging has reminded me of another way of doing business – an ancient way of actually connecting with others in your field and working together for the mutual good of both parties.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from blogging over the past year is that often its when I give something away that I gain the most. It is when I’ve linked to others, provided a way of highlighting the projects of fellow bloggers, when I’ve spent a couple of hours giving free advice to a new blogger or when I’ve shared my biggest secrets – these are the moments that often I end up in a time of real growth on my blogs.

A wise guy once said - ‘Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor.’

Warning: Tangent Ahead – Lessons from a Goose

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Blogging and the Art Time Management

Define Blog has a good post on Managing Your Time as a blogger of multiple blogs:

‘If you run several blogs managing your time is highly important. Ideally we would like to take the hours we are awake, divide it by the number of blogs we have and have that be the total amount of time we spend on each one. But this is an impossibility. Do you have a job, do you have friends and family, do you enjoy eating? There are a lot of factors that keep us from working as much as we would like to on our blogs; so finding an effective way to manage your time and input on it is vital….’

I couldn’t agree more with Ryan. Time management becomes a real issue and something that can make or break an entrepreneurial blogger. It isn’t all plain sailing ad the distraction can be paralyzing. I know that there are days where I can spend hours on end doing things that are good things and even related things to blogging – but that are not blogging themselves.

I set myself a 25 posts per day goal to keep my blogs growing – but unless you have some real discipline goals like this can be easily pushed aside. The distractions can be anything from checking your stats, to IM conversations with other bloggers, to ‘tweaking’ design, to reorganizing categories to… you name it. Whilst all of these things are important to a blog – they can also take you away from your core business – providing content.

I’d be interested to hear how others manage their time? Do you have a daily rhythm that helps you stick to your goals or do you find yourself getting distracted (like me)?