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The Prelaunch Success Plan for your Blog

Paul has a good post on things to consider before launching your new blog to better the chances of success for your new blog. Rather than coming up with a topic, doing a quick design and a single post before telling the world about your new blog there are a number of things that can help your chances. Like Paul, I know the temptation to rush this process (starting a new blog is fun and exciting) but its worth taking your time.

Paul breaks it down to four aspects:

  1. The Design
  2. The Content
  3. What is it?
  4. The Review

Spot on advice under each topic – check out the full article here.

Do your Blogging Goals Match Your Current Blogging Practices?

Jeremy has an interesting post over at Ensight where he looks at a recent ‘downturn’ in blogging after some of the recent controversy over character blogs.

To be honest I’ve kept out of the debate and really don’t see it as a particularly useful one (maybe I’m missing the point but I find it a bit of a bore) HOWEVER while I was reading Jeremy’s blog I was drawn to the following four questions that he has for bloggers to ask themselves:

1. Why did I get into blogging?
2. Am I still blogging for the same reason as when I started?
3. What do I want blogging to become?
4. Are my current attitudes and actions the kinds of things likely to bring about my goal for blogging?

These are some questions I’m going to ponder over the next few days – particularly the last two.

I guess at the crux of it Jeremy is asking people for their blogging goals and then challenging them to ask if their current strategy is taking them closer or further away from these goals?

Warning – Tangent Ahead….

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Blogging – A Job that Never Ends

Sydney-Harbor-Bridge-1Driving across the Sydney Harbor Bridge on the way to the airport on a recent trip my taxi driver decided to give me a trivia lesson on the bridge. One of the statistics he recited was about painting the bridge – a job not for the feint hearted. It takes 80,000 litres (21,000 gallons) of grey paint and is an an endless task. As soon as they get to one end of the bridge they start again at the other.

Some days this is how I feel when it comes to blogging. There is an endless source of news, stories, tips and links to post on any given day. My goal each day is to clear my News Aggregator (Bloglines) of unread items. This is no easy task as I’m tracking 391 feeds in the search for quality content for my blogs. I do tend to scan more than I read word for word – however I like to do a pretty comprehensive job which takes time.

I get to the end of most days and have a similar feeling to the bridge painters in Sydney as I click the last ‘unread’ feed or folder – only to refresh the page and find more. A never ending task in a sense – but a satisfying feeling for that split second each day when its a fully read feed list.

A number of readers have expressed to me their frustration with this aspect of blogging – sometimes it can all seem rather overwhelming. I usually respond with some advice that my Dad used to give me when I felt overwhelmed by my studies:

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Blogging as Farming – How to Grow a Bumper Blogging Crop

Famer-D

On the weekend I was speaking with a friend, Alex, who is a Farmer about blogging and the more we talked the more we realized that there is a lot of similarities between what we do. I thought I’d rehash some of the main points from our conversation here:

Taking Time – One of the most frustrating parts of farming for Alex is the length of time it takes from the time of sowing to that of harvest. From the day he plants a crop to the day its safely on the way to be sold can be a nerve wracking period of months. There is a lot of hard work and money that goes into the initial time of planting and no income until quite a long period later (and sometimes not even then).

Blogging takes time also. Building up a blog to the point where it earns a good income can take months, if not years. No one starts a profitable blog and makes a fortune straight away – you have to build up archives, build up a reputation in your niche, build up your ranking in Search Engines, build up relationships with other bloggers – these things take time. I worked for 18 months on my blogs outside of my normal jobs before I was able to pull enough income from them to justify going full time.

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Generating Traffic for your Blog – Think Ahead

In a great example of thinking ahead – Rogers Cadenhead registered the domain name BenedictXVI.com a couple of weeks ago.

‘Cadenhead, an author of 20 technology “how-to” books with titles like “Movable Type 3 Bible Desktop Edition” and “Teach Yourself Java in 21 Days,” said he registered the names for $12 each from Internet address seller Bulkregister.com.

“I couldn’t resist the chance to have some skin in the game. Someone else already has JohnPaulIII.com and JohnXXIV.com, but otherwise I put a chip down on every name of the past three centuries,” Cadenhead wrote on his Web log at Cadenhead.org.’

Source: Fla. Man Secured BenedictXVI.com Weeks Ago

In fact Rogers secured six domain names which that all could have corresponded with a new pope’s new chosen name.

This is a wonderful illustration of my previous advice to think ahead about not only what people are searching for now – but what they’ll be looking for in a few weeks or months time. This is what I was doing when I started Pope Watch – but Rogers certainly trumped us all with his move! Congratulations to him.

One Blog Many Categories or Many Blogs?

William (a reader of ProBlogger) asks:

‘I have so many diverse hobbies and interests that I want to start a blog about, plus I’d also like to make some $ through AdSense & the likes…. Am I better off having one blog site with multiple categories or multiple blog sites highlighting specific interests?’

Great question William and one that I think more ProBloggers would do well to think through.

One of the common ways that many bloggers start out in their entrepreneurial blogging is through a personal and very general blog that covers many topics of interest. It makes sense in many ways – it’s simpler to have it all in one place, to manage one set of statistics, one design, one set of readers etc. Most blogging platforms seem pretty well set up for this as they allow categories to be created for each topic being covered.

Whilst it might seem easier to manage one blog on many topics it doesn’t always make good business sense to do so.

After a year of blogging in this way myself I began to notice a number of things that made me consider a new approach:

  • Some readers became disillusioned with the blog – My blog had four main themes and different readers resonated differently with each one. A few readers shared my diverse interests in all four areas, but most came to my blog to read about one of the (or at the most a couple of) topics. A number of regular loyal readers became disillusioned with my eclectic approach to blogging and gave up coming.
  • I felt guilty about the variety of topics – I’m a pretty impulsive guy who tends to get into something for a while in a big way and then move onto something else. As a result my personal/general blog would go through identifiable stages. For a while the posting would focus upon the topic of politics, then there would be a burst of writing on the topic of blogging, then there would be a few weeks of reflections on spirituality etc. Knowing that my readers were disillusioned by this approach I began to feel more and more guilty about my impulsive bursts of activity on topics. As a result I’d o out of my way to post on things just to keep some balance, even if I didn’t really want to write about certain things.

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Avoiding Blog Burnout – Advanced Posting and Additional Authors

Duncan has posted on the topic of How to avoid blog burnout in one easy lesson where he suggest taking a break is a good way to sustain your blogging over a longer period of time. In particular he writes that taking a weekend off (or at least having a lighter weekend) might be a way to keep your blogging fire burning.

I agree with Duncan in this – I am a big believer in a day off – in theory anyway.

I remember reading a study into productivity a few years ago in which researchers looked at a variety of different cultures work patterns in order to discover what the most productive people’s work practices were. A number of factors emerged from the study – but the one that rings in my mind years later is that they found the most productive cultural groups were those that worked hard for 6 days per week and rested for one. The day off was devoted to rest, family, relaxation and rejuvination of body, mind and spirit.

I think this is an important approach for any worker – bloggers are no exception. Without taking a break blog boredom and writers block can easily set in.

The challenge for those of us making a living from blogs is that the medium is a 7 day per week, 365 day per year venture. Whilst traffic does tend to go down on weekends (as less people are at work surfing the net when they should be working) the weekend is actually an opportunity for traffic and earnings like any other day and regular posting on the weekends is one way to ensure the traffic keeps coming in.

So what is a Pro Blogger to do?

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What to do when you Get Slashdotted

Getting a deluge of visitors to your blog from a larger site is what many blogger’s dreams are made of but what should you do if you want to maximise the benefit of this occurrence as and when it happens?

Every month or two I tend to get a link from the megablog Slashdot to one of my blogs (something that is called being ‘Slashdotted’ by many ). I’ve posted previously about how it can be quite a rush although the financial pay off is sometimes not quite what you might think. After being Slashdotted last time I started thinking about what a blogger could do to capitalise on the the rush of traffic.

There are a number of things that you might want to consider next time this happens to you (whether the traffic comes from a big blog like Slashdot or any other blog that is a little higher up the food chain than you). Before I outline what you might want to do – let me say that some of these will depend upon what the goals of your blog are. [Read more...]

Blogging Fears – Death

I’d like to continue my Blogging Fears series by talking for a moment about Death.

OK – ‘death’ is probably not a topic you were expecting me to cover in at ProBlogger (I hope this is not too morbid) but the past week I’ve actually been wondering what would happen to my Blogging assets if I were to die?

I know there would be international mourning among my readers and a great pilgrimage to Melbourne for my Funeral (streamed live on the net) but what about my blogs? It seems such a waste for me to have worked for all this time on my blogs and for them to stop running and stop earning an income for those that I love when I go.

Advice: Perhaps it would be a responsible thing to do to add my blogs to my will and to make arrangements for someone to look after them for my lovely wife who is rather clueless about blogging. Like any income earning asset, your blog is something to think about the future of beyond your life time (btw – if anyone wants to leave me theirs in their will – let me know!).

Have you considered adding your blog to your will? What provisions have you made (if any) for your blogs if you were to die or become incapacitated?

This is another part of my ‘Blogging Fears’ series where previous posts have been Getting Hacked and Disappearing from Search Engines.