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2 Products Worth Considering to Improve Your Blog Today

Each week I see multiple products launched targeting bloggers wanting to improve their blogs. I’ve tested many of them in my time and the reality is that most don’t deliver what they promise and I don’t promote them. However from time to time – some hit the mark and present unique and helpful information that delivers real value.

This week there were two of these such products that hit the market. Both are quite different in their focus but both are from experts in their field and will help bloggers improve two important aspects of their blogs:

1. Jon Morrow’s Apprentice Program for Guest Bloggers

Jon is someone who has built a career for himself as a copywriter and blogger using Guest Posting. He’s been a guest poster here on ProBlogger numerous times and is a regular on blogs such as CopyBlogger.

Over the last week or so he’s release a series of great videos (here and here are two) on the topic of guest blogging and this week launched a comprehensive program that literally guarantees to get you a guest post on a high profile blog (if you don’t you’ll get your money back).

Jon’s course is a mix of video, private forum, Q&A calls and one on one interaction with Jon.

Guest blogging is a technique many bloggers have used to launch their blogs to great things and Jon’s the perfect person to talk you through how to do it. Sign up Today Here.

2. Gideon Shalwick’s Rapid Video Blogging

Gideon Shalwick has also taken his blogging to the next level by being prolific at one aspect of online discipline – VIDEO. He too has released a series of great videos this week that talk you through different aspects of using video to make money online (check them out here, here and here – they are free and whether you buy the course or not offer great insights) and today launched a great product – Rapid Video Blogging.

Gideon’s course is massive and comprehensive. It includes 125 instructional videos and transcripts/audio version as well as a heap of great tools and resources including videos with great video bloggers, live interactive sessions for Q&A.

Video is an incredibly dynamic medium and mastering it is something many bloggers need to learn – check out Rapid Video Blogging for more information on just how to do that.

Which one is for You?

Both of these resources come from experts in their fields and will present different value to different bloggers. Neither are super cheap entry level products (you’re getting a heap of content with both) and so you’ll want to consider your needs carefully and view some of the free videos that the guys have produced – but if you’ve been thinking about how to take your blogging up a notch lately and want to make an investment into your learning – do give them both consideration.

They both do come with money back satisfaction guarantees and both Jon and Gideon are people I trust to honour that promise.

I’m looking forward to hearing how you enjoy these courses and seeing how they help you improve your blogs.

150 Bloggers Pack Melbourne Hotel for ProBlogger Training Day

One week ago today in Melbourne the first ever ProBlogger training day took place. What started as a spur of the moment idea less than 4 weeks before ballooned into a very worthwhile experience.

Originally I had thought it would just be a day for 10-15 bloggers gathering around a board room table talking about blogging – but it quickly turned into a sold out training day with 150 bloggers from around Australia (and one from New Zealand) packed into a hotel’s conference room to spend a full day learning about four aspects of blogging.

Speaking on the day were Chris Garrett, Yaro Starak, Collis Ta’eed, Pip Lincolne, Shayne Tilley from SitePoint and myself.

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We covered four main ‘pillars’ of blogger:

  1. Creating Killer Content
  2. Finding Readers
  3. Building Community and Reader Engagement
  4. Monetization

Here’s Yaro, Chris and myself – and no we didn’t coordinate our clothing for the day but we’re wondering if perhaps jeans and grey shirts are the new blogger uniform. Image by TheCreativePen.

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There was also a couple of panels and two case studies as well as a work-shopping session.

I wasn’t quite sure how we’d pull it all together in such a short time but considering there was only a few weeks lead time the event went swimmingly with loads of requests to do it again both in Melbourne and around the country (and overseas). I’m not quite sure when or how we’ll put on another one – but I do hope we can do something similar again.

A number of people kept great notes on the day so I’ve compiled the ones I’ve found below for those of you not able to be there. Some of them are blow by blow accounts so you’ll be able to pick up a lot of the tips touched on during the day. Also below is a video shot on the day by Lara from Social Rabbit asking attendees for tips on what they learned.

Summaries/Notes from the Day

PS: we did record the day and are trying to work out what to do with the 7 or so hours of content recorded. One option is to bundle it into a DVD – if you’re interested in buying a copy please let me know in comments below to give us an indication as to whether it’s feasible to do so.

Blogosphere Trends + Digging Deeper

This column is written by Kimberly Turner from Regator (a great tool that gathers and organizes the world’s best blog posts). – Darren

Each week, we look at the ten most blogged-about stories of the last seven days, as provided by Regator (which is turning two years old on Saturday!). Today, we’ll see how several great blog posts looked beyond the basics of these popular stories to give their readers more value and provide unique content. Digging deeper to approach posts in an unconventional or creative way can mean the difference between getting noticed and fading into the background. Let’s see some examples:

  1. Proposition/Prop 8
    The basics: Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage, was ruled unconstitutional.
    Looking deeper: Daily Intel’s “The Prop 8 Ruling: The Scrutiny Question, and What Will Happen Next?” examines the judge’s methods of scrutinizing the case, how that approach will impact future rulings, and the history of other cases that led to this point. When everyone else is telling readers what happened, do a bit of extra legwork to tell them how it happened.
  2. Chelsea Clinton
    The basics: Chelsea Clinton got married last weekend.
    Looking deeper: Conservative blogger Kathleen McKinley’s “Weddings and More. How Two Former President’s Daughters Are Quite Different” looked beyond the bride’s choice of hairstyle and gown by comparing Chelsea Clinton’s wedding to the wedding of Jenna Bush, another first daughter. She then broadened the comparison past the weddings themselves and into the lifestyles of the young women. Use comparisons to create a post that’s more appealing to readers in your niche.
  3. Android
    The basics: It was reported that Android phones were outselling iPhones.
    Looking deeper: Rather than taking the figures at face value, Cult of Mac spoke to an analyst in an attempt to put the figures in perspective in “Android Competing Against ‘Dumb Phones.’” Take time to question information you receive through press releases, other blogs, magazines, newspapers, television…well, pretty much any source. Don’t be afraid to do some extra reporting.
  4. American Idol
    The basics: Ellen DeGeneres left the show after one season as a judge.
    Looking deeper: While most blogs were awaiting official news about new judges, Pop & Hiss offered ten recommendations and the reasons for each in “Why not hire a music critic as an ‘American Idol’ judge? Ten contestants for the job.” Add your own opinions and recommendations to a story to make it your own.
  5. Oil Spill
    The basics: BP finally managed to stop the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.
    Looking deeper: Investment blog Seeking Alpha chose the angle that worked best for its readers in “Static Kill a Success; What’s BP Worth Now?” The post hypothesizes on the company’s current value and, just as importantly, explains how the blogger arrived at those figures. Use your expertise to provide value to your readers and information that other types of bloggers cannot.
  6. Ground Zero
    The basics: An Islamic cultural center (incorrectly referred to as a “mosque” by some) is set to be built on the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City, causing controversy and debate.
    Looking deeper: As the tagline “Answers to your questions about the news” indicates, Slate’s Explainer does a fantastic job of looking beyond the headlines and dissecting issues. “Can anyone stop construction of the mosque near Ground Zero?” which examines the legal and zoning issues around the facility, is no exception. Look for aspects of a story that aren’t being explored and try to tackle unanswered questions.
  7. BlackBerry Torch
    The basics: Research In Motion (RIM) launched the BlackBerry Torch.
    Looking deeper: Instead of simply reporting the release, PCWorld’s “BlackBerry Torch First Impressions: Fresh But Familiar Indeed” blogged their first impressions based on the blogger’s brief interaction with the device at the launch event. Going out and employing a hands-on approach will always get you better results than sitting at your desk waiting for press releases or review products.
  8. Kanye West
    The basics: Kanye West joined Twitter, spawning memes galore.
    Looking deeper: Vulture’s “What Did It Cost to Be Kanye This Week?” is an extremely creative, entertaining approach to the story. Look for trends within a story (e.g., not only is Kanye on Twitter, he often tweets about his lavish lifestyle) to find unusual and creative angles.
  9. Google Wave
    The basics: Google’s much-hyped Google Wave was shuttered this week.
    Looking deeper: In “Why Developers Did Not Adopt Google Wave,” ReadWriteWeb took a broad approach to coverage, discussing reasons Wave may have failed, the future benefits of its brief existence, and previous coverage of the product. Explaining why something happened (as well as how, see example #1) can be just as important as explaining what happened. Take the extra time and effort to give readers more.
  10. Lady Gaga
    The basics: Lady Gaga’s cover story in the latest issue of Vanity Fair and record number of Video Music Awards put her on the list this week.
    Looking deeper: Gawker.tv used a combination of techniques we’ve discussed above—namely using comparisons and identifying why something (in this case, Gaga’s popularity) has occurred—in “Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and the Coup d’Pop: A Diva Revolution.” Developing and supporting your own hypothesis is a sure way to ensure original content.

How do you get beyond the surface story to a unique angle that will appeal to your readership? Share your ideas and methods in the comments!

Kimberly Turner is a cofounder of Regator.com and Regator for iPhone as well as an award-winning print journalist. You can find her on Twitter @kimber_regator.

Discover how to Dominate Your Niche with Video Blogging [and Win an iPad]

rapid-video-blogging.pngYou can’t ignore video. It’s everywhere online these days – but are you using it well?

Youtube is one of the biggest search engines on the web, almost every product that is launched these days has accompanying videos from the product makers and bloggers are embracing it more and more as a way to communicate with their readers.

The problem is that many bloggers don’t know where to start.

Experienced video blogger – Gideon Shalwick – has this week released a great report to help bloggers through many aspects of using video on blogs to make money. It’s called ‘Rapid Video Blogging: The new Way to Easily Dominate Your Niche through YouTube‘.

Gideon gave me access to his report a couple of weeks ago and I found it so beneficial in my own use of video that the day I read it I created 4 new videos for my own blog AND offered to write the foreword for it!

This 90 page report covers the following:

  • 7 steps Gideon has used to dominate niches with video
  • How to create high quality videos – fast
  • Tips for Setting up a YouTube Channel
  • Why Video is better than Just Text or Audio
  • How to Optimize Your Videos for Maxmium Impact
  • Tips on Videos
  • How to Monetize Videos

In addition to the eBook Gideon’s put together 3 videos to accompany it (it wouldn’t’ be an authentic video resource without some vids!).

Also – Gideon tells me that he’s giving away 3 iPads to anyone who downloads his report and leaves a comment on a video on the download page. So far there’s less than 300 comments so you’ve got a better than 1 in 100 chance – pretty decent!

So if you’ve been looking to learn more about using video to grow your online business – check out Gideon’s free report today.

Update: apologies but the initial link I used went to the wrong page – I’ve now updated it.

Blogosphere Trends + Unicorns

This column is written by Kimberly Turner from Regator (a great tool that gathers and organizes the world’s best blog posts). – Darren

Okay, okay, so we’re not actually talking about unicorns…but even though it’s a vital part of your blog’s tone and voice, I didn’t think you’d click on anything that sounded as deceptively unsexy and unexciting as what we’re actually discussing this week, which is grammatical person. Wait! Before you zone out, stick with me for a sec: It’s not as bad as it sounds. Grammatical person is simply means that you’re either referring to yourself (first person), your reader (second person), or a third party (third person). And, um, like a unicorn, it often goes unnoticed and can be exceptionally helpful. (I’m trying, you guys.)

Every time you sit down to write a post, you make choices. Some, such as your topic and headline, are likely to be very deliberate. Others, such as grammatical person, probably happen without much scrutiny—but even if you aren’t pausing to consider person (we’ll drop the “grammatical” now ’cause I know it freaks some people out), it impacts the strength of every post you write. That’s why I’ve chosen some posts about the ten most blogged-about stories of the last week (provided, as always, by Regator) to illustrate the importance of choosing the right person. Let’s take a look:

  1. Oil Spill – Writing in the third person (using pronouns such as ‘he,’ ‘she,’ and ‘they’) isn’t just for newspapers, academic papers, and formal writing. Although we have talked about the importance of using your personality and opinions to strengthen your blog, there may be times when you simply want to convey the facts. Unsurprisingly, the blog of news organization Reuters is written in third person in “Dalian oil spill is all cleaned up” and most of its other posts. Be aware though that a “just the facts” approach can, when not used with care, leave you with a post that seems dull or stiff.
  2. Shirley Sherrod – The writer of “After Breitbart and Shirley Sherrod, We Need a Slow-News Movement” from Politics Daily chose to add first person (using pronouns such as ‘I,’ ‘me,’ and ‘we’) in combination with third to clearly convey his opinion along with a bit of his personality.
  3. Comic-ConFirstShowing.net’s “Comic-Con 2010: Quick Review of Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim” is an example of a very first-person focused post, with pronouns such as ‘I,’ ‘me,’ and ‘my’ accounting for more than five percent of the word count. A post with this much focus on the blogger is risky because unless he or she has established a relationship with readers so that they care a great deal about personal viewpoints, the post runs the risk of being less useful to readers.
  4. Mad MenJezebel’s “Contest: Win A Complete Set Of Mad Men Barbie Dolls!” primarily uses second person (pronouns such as ‘you’ and ‘your’) to give instructions directly to readers. There are plenty of times when you might want to speak directly to your readers, giving them directions for a contest is just one.
  5. Angelina JolieVulture’s “Six Lessons From Salt About the Differences Between Male and Female Action Heroes” is an example of a third-person piece that—unlike the newsy style of the Reuters blog above—infuses some personality, humor, and informality into the post.
  6. Kindle – “Don’t Really Care About Touch Screens or Color” from Conversational Reading uses a combination of first and second person. That choice, along with phrases such as “I wonder how many readers out there are like me…” establishes a conversational tone.
  7. Magic Trackpad – Telegraph.co.uk’s technology blog asks, “Would you switch your mouse for a trackpad?” Second person is the best choice when you’re trying to encourage interaction and, although the rest of this post is written in first and third person, most of the comments directly answer the second-person question from the headline.
  8. Tony Hayward – “3 Big Reasons Why Tony Hayward Failed As CEO” from The Business Insider is a third-person piece that uses first and second person in the subheaders to provide the voice of the public. Choosing a different grammatical person in subheads can make them stand out even more.
  9. Chelsea ClintonEcorazzi’s “Chelsea Clinton’s Very Vegan Rehearsal Dinner” uses first person (along with the ubiquitous third person and a dash of second) to help build the voice of the blog and connect with readers with statements such as “I’m just as confused … as some of you may be.”
  10. Oliver Stone – When a story has a direct impact on you for some reason, as “Put Down Your Pitchforks; Oliver Stone Apologizes” from Cinematical did for its author, the first person is likely to be your best choice. Many people find that first person is also the most natural option for storytelling, since that is how we are accustomed to telling stories on a day-to-day basis.

Even though the grammatical person was almost certainly not the first thing on these bloggers’ minds, each of the above posts would have been vastly different had the bloggers chosen a different option. What person do you use on your blog? Is it a conscious choice? Please share your thoughts and unicorn stories in the comments.

Kimberly Turner is a cofounder of Regator.com and Regator for iPhone as well as an award-winning print journalist. You can find her on Twitter @kimber_regator.

How to Build a Successful Blog Business

One of the best new resources for those wanting to make money from blogging is a new eBook (and available as a ‘real’ book is How to Build a Successful Blog Business by Collis Ta’eed.

I had the opportunity to read this great new book last week and was really impressed by the mix of solid teaching, practical tips and fantastic case studies.

book-cover.jpgCollis Ta’eed is the creator of some highly successful blogging businesses – Envato, Tuts+, Freelance switch and AppStorm. He’s built something with his great team from scratch to be some of the most popular and profitable blogs going around. He’s someone that I respect so much that I’ve invited him to speak at the upcoming Melbourne bloggers day net week.

Topics in the book include a wide array of things including

  • an introduction to
  • teaching on how to plan and research your new blog
  • tips on creating a brand, naming your blog, choosing domains and design
  • a variety of teaching on staffing your blog
  • content – how to write it, editing content, headline tips, evergreen content etc
  • generating traffic for your blog – how to do it!
  • monetization – teaching on an array of methods of making money from blogs
  • building a long term business – expanding to multiple blogs and adding businesses to your blog

There are also 3 great case studies on the blogs that Collis has set up – these case studies are highly valuable in and of themselves and my favourite part of the book.

I found this 327 page book to be a refreshing read and one that I think will help a lot of people. For me the highlight was to get an insight into how another bloggers has approached his business – I picked up a lot of great ideas and know that anyone starting out will gain even more insight.

You can get a free sample of the book on the sales page for it (including full table of contents and the first chapter).

Blogosphere Trends + Being Opinionated

This column is written by Kimberly Turner from Regator (a great tool that gathers and organizes the world’s best blog posts). – Darren

Man alive, I hate bringing you a list of blogosphere trends that includes both Lindsay Lohan and Jersey Shore—not to mention Sarah Palin. But I report the list, I don’t decide what’s on it (neither does Regator—it just calculates what’s being blogged about most this week). Then again, you might love Lohan and eagerly await the next episode of Jersey Shore. You may have voted for Sarah Palin. My distaste for those things is merely my opinion and, in giving it, I have given you a better sense of who I am. As a blogger, I am all for that. And you should be too.

If you look at the web’s top bloggers, you’ll find they have a couple of things in common: a unique voice, which we talked about recently, and opinions to share. As Darren pointed out, “Expressing opinions on your blog is like adding seasoning to food. Without it, your blog could end up being quite bland and blend into the crowd.” Reporting the facts is useful but adding commentary helps your blog stand out from the dozens—or hundreds—of blogs covering the same story. If you all have the same facts, it’s your viewpoint that will help remove you from the echo chamber. You are providing your translation of the story and encouraging your readers to see it in a new way.

Let’s look at examples of posts about this week’s top stories to see how sharing your opinions can enhance your blog and engage readers:

  1. Shirley Sherrod – Michelle Cottle of The New Republic pulls no punches in “The End of Andrew Breitbart.” She rails on “conservative pseudo-journalism” and refers to Breitbart as a “toxic tantrum.” Be warned though: This technique is not for the timid. Cottle has a long history of writing highly opinionated pieces that have, no doubt, helped her build a tough skin when it comes to antagonistic comments. The most frightening thing about going from a blogger who reports news to a blogger who reports news with a viewpoint is that you will offend someone—particularly if you phrase your opinions in such a confrontational way. But you will also build a stronger relationship with the rest of your audience, particularly those whose stance is similar to yours (and those who enjoy a healthy dose of debate).
  2. FacebookEpicenter’s “Five Things That Could Topple Facebook’s Empire” is a far more subtle approach. Since no one knows what will (or could) harm the social networking behemoth, Ryan Singel’s list comprises his own ideas about the challenges Facebook faces. This sort of opinion-sharing/hypothesizing is far less likely to ruffle feathers than the first example. While searching for a post that shared original thoughts on Facebook, I had to rifle through literally hundreds that were simply repeating that Facebook has reached 500 million users and Facebook was being taken to court and Zuckerberg was interviewed on television. They all had the same facts with nothing to differentiate one from another. That is what you want to avoid.
  3. Lindsay Lohan ­– Crushable’s “Poll: Should Celebrities Always Do The Right Thing?” shares the opinion that, due to her background, jail-bound Lohan should be allowed to make mistakes. The post follows up with “But maybe we are wrong!” and an invitation for readers to take a poll. One advantage of sharing your viewpoints is that it opens the door to the opinions of your readers and provides a venue for productive conversations. Your enthusiasm for a topic is contagious and much more likely to elicit a response than a straightforward repetition of the facts.
  4. Comic-Con ­– While other nerd blogs were rejoicing in the glory that is Comic-Con, Techland’s Lev Grossman was busy writing “The Guy Who Hates Comic-Con Goes to Comic-Con, Part 1.” It stands out among the posts on the event and the humor of it is a fantastic cloak for what might otherwise have been construed as a bit of a whiny perspective. It is fun to read and, most importantly, it is the author’s brutally honest assessment of the convention.
  5. Inception – Jim Emerson’s “Inception: Has Christopher Nolan forgotten how to dream?” post from Scanners does contain spoilers, so beware of that. But it also contains a unique perspective on the movie that I found compelling enough to share on my social networking pages. Emerson’s post shows the importance of providing supportive evidence to validate your opinion. Even those who do not agree with your assessment of a situation before reading your post may find themselves saying, “That blogger really has a point” if you provide enough reasons for your ideas.
  6. Mel Gibson – Rufus F.’s “In Defense of Casting Stones at Mel Gibson” from The League of Extra Ordinary Gentlemen is a direct response to E.D. Kain’s “In Defense of Mel Gibson” from the same blog. That is the beauty of opinions; they are likely (particularly among dissenters) to provoke discussions in the comments and, if they are divisive enough, to prompt entire posts providing an alternate position. For the record, I’m not encouraging flame wars or knock-down, drag-out arguments; I’m advocating respectful two-way conversations between adults with different viewpoints. Keeping your tone positive and staying open to contradictory viewpoints will help maintain a healthy community and positive vibe. I learn a great deal from listening to those who disagree with me, and you will too.
  7. Oil spill – “Gulf of Mexico,” which has been on trending for several weeks, has been replaced by “Oil spill” thanks to news that China is dealing with a spill of its own. How depressing. But I digress… Treehugger’s “In Defense of the Offshore Drilling Moratorium” takes the safest path to stating an opinion by defending the drilling moratorium. Sharing opinions is one thing, but sharing opinions that will alienate most of your readers (for example, a post titled “10 Best Steak Restaurants” on a vegetarian blog) is simply unwise. You don’t need me to tell you that.
  8. Steve JobsFlip the Media’s “On Media and AntennaGate” cites the author’s own history as support of an opinion, making ample use of phrases such as “I don’t think so,” “I agree with him,” and “I doubt it” to make it clear that the blogger is providing her personal opinion. There’s no need to go overboard, but be sure that you aren’t phrasing your opinions in a way that could be misconstrued as fact.
  9. Sarah Palin – From the moment you read the headline “I’m Telling You, Palin Has No Chance,” it is clear that Daniel Larison’s Eunomia post is providing a personal opinion. He acknowledges that “it’s risky to make absolute statements about anything…” but goes on to provide several reasons based on his findings. Again, this is a post that is a rebuttal to a post from another blog.
  10. Jersey ShorePortfolio’s “Here’s the Situation: Fire the ‘Jersey Shore’ Cast” provides its reasoning in the form of bulletpoints in what amounts to an open letter to the makers of the reality TV show. Open letters can be a fun and creative way to share your thoughts.

Are you opinionated on your blog or afraid of offending people? Let’s chat about it in comments.

Kimberly Turner is a cofounder of Regator.com and Regator for iPhone as well as an award-winning print journalist. You can find her on Twitter @kimber_regator.

Blogosphere Trends + Handling High Word Counts

This column is written by Kimberly Turner from Regator (a great tool that gathers and organizes the world’s best blog posts). – Darren

I’m often asked about the “ideal length” for a blog post. I’ve heard answers ranging from 200 to 800 words, but my answer is always the same: Enough to tell the story and not one word more. Writing short is actually considerably more difficult than writing long because every word has to truly pull its weight. There is no room for filler.

Challenge yourself: Try writing a post, going for a little walk to let it breathe, then coming back and cutting your word count by at least 10 (preferably closer to 15) percent. Impossible? Not at all. Start by ditching unnecessary adjectives and adverbs (why say “really big” when “huge” conveys the same?). Find places where you can replace an adverb and a verb with a stronger verb (e.g., “devoured” or “gobbled” rather than “ate quickly”). These steps alone will strengthen your post by making your writing more concise and your word choice more precise. Once you’ve done that, replace passive constructions with active ones wherever possible (“a pirate rode the unicorn” rather than “the unicorn was ridden by a pirate”) and get rid of wordy phrases (e.g., “can” instead of “is able to,” “before” instead of “prior to,” “about” instead of “with regard to,” etc.). You’ve probably cut quite a few words by this point. Continue looking for places to tighten (e.g., change “the opinion of the blogger” to “the blogger’s opinion”). Wordy constructions are sneaky; there are more of them than you think. I think the best thing about Twitter is that it encourages people to be more concise in their communications…that’s not to say you should start using “b4” and “urself” on your blog.

Let’s say you’ve chopped as much as you can from your post and it’s still long. You have three options: (a) Publish it as is and risk having distractible readers (that’s almost all of them) get click happy and leave your blog (b) Break it up into a series (c) use some of the methods below to make the post more scannable and digestible. We’re going to focus on option (c). Here are the top ten most-blogged-about stories of the week, as provided by Regator, and some examples of well-formatted but lengthy posts about each:

  1. LeBron James ­– “Did LeBron James Really Hurt His Brand?” is 778 words long, but thanks to careful formatting, it reads quickly and is not intimidating to readers. In addition to subheadings and bolded text, which we’ll discuss, SportsBiz uses a large pull quote to break up the text and generate interest. Pull quotes are less common online than they are in the print world, but a good pull quote can pique reader curiosity and serve to break up large blocks of text.
  2. World Cup – Weighing in at 1,241 words, Bleacher Report’s “2010 FIFA World Cup Final: How Spain Won It” would likely send readers running if it weren’t for its effective use of subheads. The title clearly conveys the post’s purpose and the subheads deliver to that end by providing an easy-to-scan list. Subheadings are important for longer posts because they provide the reader with multiple entry points. Not interested in Spain’s passing play? Perhaps the section on Cesc Fabregas will interest you. Subheads give readers that option.
  3. George Steinbrenner ­– Both LAist’s “Dodgers Reaction to Steinbrenner’s Death” and Gothamist’s “Players, Politicians Remember George Steinbrenner” use quotations to break up longer posts but comparing the two shows the importance of formatting. While neither seems overwhelming, The LAist post’s consistent use of bold to introduce the quotes’ sources enhances its readability significantly.
  4. Mel GibsonWorld of Psychology’s 719-word “Mel Gibson, Bipolar Disorder and Alcohol” is broken up into five distinct, numbered points. We’ve talked in the past about the scan-ability of list posts, and this is no exception. The bolded subheads are complete sentences that give a clear indication of what that section will address.
  5. Gulf of MexicoThe First Post’s BP oil spill: the conspiracy theories” was broken into two separate pages to disguise its nearly 1,300-word length. Tricky but effective. This is an example of a post that could have been broken into multiple posts with teasers for future parts and links to previous parts in each post.
  6. Bristol Palin ­– While not excessively long to begin with, at only 500 words, TV Squad’s “Bristol Palin’s Reality Show: If It Happens, Here Are 5 Things We Want to See” seems like an even quicker, easier read thanks to its combination of bolded subheads, a medium-sized photo, and short paragraphs. Keeping each paragraph short helps you avoid large blocks of text that the attention-span-challenged may find off-putting.
  7. Harvey Pekar ­– Comics Alliance’s 937-word “Harvey Pekar: A Timeline of a Comic Book Icon” could have tried to recap Pekar’s life in plain text, but it’s unlikely anyone but the most die-hard fans would’ve made it past his first issue of American Splendor. Instead, the blogger broke the story up using an engaging timeline format. It, along with the images and short paragraphs, makes this long post more palatable.
  8. Roman PolanskiJezebel’s “Roman Polanski Runs Free Once Again” isn’t long enough to require subheads, but does make use (like many of this blog’s posts) of prominent red links that, when scanned, provide a useful glimpse of the story (“not to extradite Roman Polanski,” “where he’s been since December,” etc.) as well as multiple entry points.
  9. Consumer Reports – At 909 words, Mashable’s “What Apple Must Do to Stop the Bleeding” uses many of the aforementioned techniques, including colored links, photos, and short paragraphs but also adds video within the post and oversized subheads with light grey lines around them to further divide the text.
  10. Old Spice – In addition to using video, photos, bold subheads, quotes, and colored links, ReadWriteWeb’s “How the Old Spice Videos Are Being Made” is an excellent example of tight, concise writing that uses all of its 1,065 words to maximum effect.

How do you handle long posts? Please share your techniques in the comments.

Kimberly Turner is a cofounder of Regator.com and Regator for iPhone as well as an award-winning print journalist. You can find her on Twitter @kimber_regator.

Announcing the ‘ProBlogger Track’ at Blog World Expo 2010

Join the top bloggers and new media experts in the world at BlogWorld Expo 2010I am very excited today to be able to announce to you that at this year’s BlogWorld and New Media Expo 2010 that Chris Garrett and I will be running a full day of training – the ProBlogger Track.

In this post I want to share a little more information about what we’ll be doing in the ProBlogger track and also mention that the Early Bird Special (almost 50% off) for signing up ends 15 July. But first, let me tell you why I love BWE!

Why I love Blog World Expo

BlogWorld Expo is an event that I’ve had the privilege of attending for the last two years and for me it is the #1 event that I try to get to in the US each year. I love it because:

  • Networking – thousands of bloggers and social media people in the one place opens up some amazing opportunities to build relationships and discover potential business partnerships.
  • Learning – some great speakers share what they know at this event. Their expertise covers a range of topics, from design, to SEO, to monetization, to content creation, to community management. There are also a lot of social media specific topics as well as sessions for different niches. Over 200 speakers present – there’s some great stuff to learn from them!
  • Not too Big but Big Enough – some other shows are so big that they become completely overwhelming. BWE is certainly big enough to attract great speakers and a large number of people to network with – but it’s not too big that you can’t find anyone. This being focused upon blogging and new media also brings it enough focus that you continually bump into people with shared interests.
  • Relaxed and Friendly – my own experience of this gathering is people are very friendly, inclusive and chilled. This is not a hyped up conference, but there is a lot of fun and plenty of opportunity to interact with others (the networking parties are great in the evenings).
  • Vegas – I’m not someone who could spend a lot of time in Vegas, but 3-4 days can be a lot of fun. This year BWE is moving from the convention center to Mandalay Bay which will mean that it is much more focused upon one area and hopefully more people will be staying close to each other. Less travel and more chance to interact.

What will the ProBlogger Track Cover?

Chris-Garrett-Darren-Rowse.jpgMost of you should know Chris Garrett – he and I co-authored the ProBlogger Book. This will only be the 4thd time we’ve met in person and the 2nd time we’ll have run this type of thing together (we’re doing one in Melbourne in a few weeks too).

Chris and I are still finalising the exact schedule for the day but here’s what we can tell you so far:

  • It will be held on Thursday 14th October. Please note this date so that you don’t just buy a pass for Friday and Saturday. There are other sessions on Thursday also which the Thursday pass will also get you access to.
  • I’ve recently surveyed a segment of ProBlogger readers on the needs and challenges that they face as bloggers. We’ll be basing the sessions we run around the main needs identifies. These are ‘finding readers’, ‘making blogs profitable’ and ‘writing killer content’.
  • We are hoping to mix things up a little in terms of how we teach these topics. We want each session to contain solid teaching (keynote style) but also time for practical case studies/interviews with people who know what they’re doing and some Q&A. So there will be a mix of keynotes, interviews and one panel on the day.
  • Chris and I won’t be doing everything alone – we’re already pulling together a few other special guest presenters to bring their own expertise.

Also at BWE this year it looks like I’ll be involved in a number of other sessions including the usual ‘Super Panel’ that looks at monetization and another that I’m not sure I can announce quite yet.

Update: The other session I’m doing is a keynote panel with Brian Clark of CopyBlogger and Sonia Simone of Remarkable Communication.

BWE Early Bird Special Ends 15th July

If you’re coming to BWE NOW is the time to get your ticket as they are currently running an Early Bird Special that ends on 15 July. The special gets you nearly 50% off so it is well worth taking advantage of! Sign up to attend BWE here.

PS: Promote BWE as an Affiliate

If you’re a blogger with an audience that might like to also attend BWE – you can also become an affiliate for BWE (like me). They pay a 10% commission on any referrals you can bring in. With an average spend of $360 this is $36 per attendee referred. Sign up as an affiliate here.