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When Blog Competition is Good

A number of people have asked me in the past 24 hours whether I feel threatened when a new blog starts up with the same topic as one of mine.

It is an interesting question and one that I usually answer in a number of ways.

Firstly I admit that I do feel a bit threatened. I think its a fairly natural feel some anxiety, threat or worry when someone else steps on what you perceive as your patch. I feel these emotions when I first see new blogs set up that have complete or partial overlap with a topic I’m writing about. It worries me from time to time that there is only one top ranking in the Search Engines for a keyword that I might be targeting – in a sense my ‘competition’ and I are in a contest for such positioning. The more sites on the same topic the harder it is to get to the top of the pile.

Many people respond to such competition in a negative way. In response to the threat they tend to either:

  • ignore the competition (and hope they’ll go away)
  • attack their competition (discredit and try to undermine them)
  • worry themselves silly by monitoring their every move and attempting to copy everything they do in order to keep them covered

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Blogging Fears – Disappearing from Search Engines

A couple of days ago I started a Blogging Fears mini-series and talked about Getting Hacked. Here’s another – Disappearing from the Search Engines

As many of you know I’ve been there – it sucks and has the ability to almost completely cripple a blog that relies upon SE traffic. If you’re relying heavily on search engine traffic for most of your posts – be warned – it could happen to you.

Advice: Diversify your blogging interests. Develop a variety of blogs on different topics and domains. Look at non blogging income streams or related blogging income such as consulting, books, speaking etc. Work on generating traffic from other non Search Engine sources like other sites and newsletters to loyal readers. Even consider keeping or getting a part time ‘real’ job until you know you can survive on your blogging income even if the Search Engines abandon you.

A day in the life of a ProBlogger

This has always been one of the most popular posts on ProBlogger so today I thought I’d update it with some new things that I do on an ‘average day’ as a ProBlogger (originally written November 2004 which will explain the old comments).

A number of people have asked me recently what a typical day of blogging looks like for me – I thought I’d share the basics. Of course what an actual day looks like differs from day to day depending on other commitments (I have other interests/work outside of blogging), the day of the week (weekends I try to get a life) and my mood (I’m an impulsive type).

7.00am – My wife’s (‘V’) alarm goes off. I attempt to ignore it. She hits ‘snooze’.

7.15am – The alarm goes off again – I shove V out of the bed in the direction of the shower and promptly fall back asleep.

7.45am – V returns to the bedroom and the hair dryer starts – sleep becomes impossible – and so my day begins.

8.30am – Having showered, eaten and seen V off to work I sit down at my powerbook with a fresh cup of coffee and begin my morning blogging routine (note that despite public perception to the contrary – this ProBlogger is usually fully dressed (not in pyjamas or boxer shorts) by the time most people are hitting their normal place of work (9am). Of course there are exceptions to every rule).
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Blogging Fears – Getting Hacked

What is your Worst Blogging Fear?

This might make me sound a little paranoid – but occasionally I wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat thinking about the things that could go wrong with my little blogging business. In many ways what we do can be pretty fragile and at the whim and mercy of outside forces.

Over the next few days I’m going to write about some of my blogging fears and what I do to try and protect myself from them. I invite you to share your blogging fears and tips in comments.

Getting Hacked – what if someone took over your blog – changed the password, changed content or even worse, deleted it all. This is something I’ve thought about a lot over the past year. I know of one or two cases where its happened and been pretty devastating for the blogger’s in question. All that hard work, those many many hours of writing, editing, designing – gone in a single foul action of someone with too much time on their hands.
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Blog Strategy – Add Authors

Eoghann over at Blog World has an interesting post titled Blog Strategy where he talks readers through his Pro Blogging strategy. Eoghann writes 5 blogs on varying topics and each with their own strengths and weaknesses. He’s really just thinking out loud but its an interesting glimpse into his thinking.

The issue that seems to be facing him at the moment is time – Eoghann works full time, has 5 blogs (some of which are starting to take off) and 2 new born babies (twins). His goal of posting 3 posts per day on each of his blogs is sadly unachievable with his current circumstances so he’s faced with some interesting decisions.

His conclusions vary from blog to blog and a lot of what he decides I agree with but wonder if perhaps he might explore the following strategy also:

Add new authors – One good way of increasing the amount of posts on a blog is to add authors to it. One person might post once or twice per day but ten committed authors can do a lot more. This strategy is not suitable for all of his blogs but I wonder if perhaps his Solar Flare blog might be worth giving it a go on as its on a topic which is sure to have some passionate readers (science fiction). His Pro Wrestling Blog might be another worth trying this on.

I’ve found on some of my blogs that potential authors are often willing to write for free just for the love of a topic. Some bloggers have revenue sharing models – but I’d probably approach two or three of the more avid readers of that site (every blog has one or two addicted types) and see if they were willing to write something once or twice a week.

The other benefit of having a blog with multiple authors is that with others participating in content you often find that they also become your best marketers and PR people. Back when I did the Olympics Blog last year we added a number of authors to help out – whilst they didn’t post as many posts as we did as owners – one of the best things they gave us was links from their own blogs and promotion via word of mouth.

Of course on the down side of multiple author blogs is that you run the risk of losing a little control over quality and content (although you can always edit) and it can take a little time to set them up and initially manage them. However in my experience the benefits of increased amounts of content are well worth the effort.

Random Blog Tip – Contact Options

Related to my previous post about About pages I’d also like to make mention of another personal preference that I have – the inclusion of the ability for readers to contact you privately.

There are many ways of doing this – but I’m surprised by just how many blogs give no option for getting in touch with their author, editor or owner. Some may argue that having the ability to make comments is a way of letting your readers get in touch with you – however I don’t find this to be an appropriate way of communication on some topics as it does not ensure privacy for your readers.

I can think of a number of times over the past week where I’ve wanted to make contact with a blogger only to be confronted with the choice of the whole world being able to read my message or to refrain from making any contact at all. In the end I refrained from interacting with the blogger concerned and am unlikely to go back to the blog.

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Why Blogging is Like Having a Child

Jennifer Rice over at What’s Your Brand Mantra? posts a good article on her Link Policy and Building Traffic that is worth a read. The phrase that got my attention though was this – ‘Maintaining a blog is a lot like having a child’. She qualifies it by stating that she doesn’t have one (a child guess – cause she definitely has a blog – sorry, I couldn’t resist). Its an interesting analogy and one that has triggered a whole thought process for me!

A whole number of images came to my mind when letting my brain get a little creative with her statement. Here are a few (this could get ugly):

- ‘It takes a lot of time, nurturing and care.’ This was Jennifer’s one but I concur! Building a blog takes time, energy, sweat, tears and dedication. I’ve heard all that helps with children too. You don’t just suddenly have a fully developed child who can speak, walk, pay its own way and live as an adult – all of these things take time. Don’t expect your new blog to suddenly be everything you dream it to be – let it evolve and grow up in its own time. Sure you can encourage it along the way – but give it space to grow. I see it like gardening – Gardeners don’t actually make plants grow – they create an environment that is conducive to growth. No matter what you do you can’t make your blog grow – but you can create an environment that gives it every chance possible for it to happen. I guess in many ways thats what this blog is about – I’m hoping to provide bloggers with some techniques that help create futile blogging ground.

- Pregnancy – before I start a new blog I often feel like I’ve got something growing inside of me that just wants to get out. It can all happen very quickly or it can take quite a bit of time – but the ideas percolate away, developing and growing til that day when the time comes to actually do something with them.

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Do You Credit Your Sources?

What is your policy on giving credit to sites who pointed you to a link that you post about?

Do you for instance write use a ‘found via (insert blog who pointed you to the post you’ve written about here)’ byline or tag on your blog? (see last post for an example of what I mean).

I do this where ever possible but have noticed recently that fewer and fewer bloggers seem to credit where they get their information from. I think this is just plain bad manners and that its actually a missed opportunity also.

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Combatting Comment Spam – Contraception for your Blog

In my ‘Questions for ProBloggers‘ post Rick asks:

‘How do you deal with comment spammers?’

Comment spam is an insidious problem which threatens to kill or at least overwhelm many blog projects. I detest it on many levels, partly because of the content of many spam comments (which go against my values), partly because the people who do it are exploiting the hard work of others to make a quick (and big) buck and largely because of the time that it can take to delete it.

So how do you stop comment spam? This is the question everyone is asking and one which I’m afraid there is no easy answer for. The only 100% way not to have comment spam is to take away the ability to leave comments on your posts. (For some strange reason this reminds me of the age old advice on how not to get pregnant….don’t have sex).
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