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Blogosphere Trends and Goal Setting

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

When I sit down to write this weekly column, I have two goals: 1. To tell you what bloggers are writing about most in the past week 2. To provide advice that is useful to the ProBlogger community. The first goal is easy because it’s the same every week. I fire up the super-secret algorithm at Regator and it spits out a list. The second goal is more challenging because it varies. It’s not enough to say I want to provide tips, I need to consider how I want to focus my post and what I want it to achieve.

You’ve probably got goals for your blog as a whole (e.g., reaching a certain number of readers or increasing comments by a certain percentage in the next year) but do you create goals for each post you write? You should. Goals hold you accountable and ensure that your post achieves what you want it to. Darren mentions the importance of setting goals in “Does Your Next Blog Post Matter?” He suggests writing your goal at the top of your draft (you’ll delete it before publishing unless it becomes part of your introduction), which is a good habit to get into. Before you publish, ask yourself whether the post achieves the goal.

I’ll share my goal for this post with you: This post will use Regator’s trends list to list the ten stories bloggers are writing about most this week. It will also provide examples that illustrate the types of goals bloggers might consider using on their own blogs. Let’s get started…

  1. Gulf of Mexico – Your post’s goal might be to motivate readers to take some action. A post such as The Beacon‘s “The Spill: What You Can Do, Part 2″ does this. The author mentions that readers have been asking how they can help with the oil spill. By providing this information, the post also achieves the goal of connecting readers with resources they’re seeking. Your readers’ questions can be a great source of post ideas. If many readers are asking the same thing, write a post with the goal of answering that question.
  2. Elena Kagan – Providing new or unique information about a frequently covered topic is a common goal. Washington Wire‘s “Making the Grade: Kagan’s Transcript” shares information from the U.S. Supreme Court nominee’s academic transcript and, in doing so, fulfills the goal of providing additional information about a hot story.
  3. Cannes Film Festival – Your goal may be as simple as “This post will provide readers with an opportunity to share their opinions about X.” Fashionista‘s “Who Opened Cannes Better, Cate Blanchett’s Alexander McQueen or Salma Hayek’s Gucci Couture?” and The Girls in the Beauty Department‘s “Poll: Did Kate Beckinsale Pull This Super-High Updo Off?” are not high-brow posts about a serious topic, but they do meet the goal of strengthening the community and giving readers a forum in which they can debate.
  4. Betty White – Sometimes your goal is as basic as, “This post will entertain readers.” The author of BestWeekEver‘s “In Honor of Betty White Week: The Golden Girls Credits the Way They Should Have Been” achieved that goal with an interesting fact (that the theme song for The Golden Girls was an actual pop hit) and amusing video (the verse about old age wasn’t included in the theme song so the blogger did some video editing to fix that).
  5. Lena Horne – If it’s appropriate for your blog’s tone, you can create posts with the goal of sharing your personal feelings or memories to pay tribute or support a point. “Memories of Lena Horne: The Calm After Stormy Weather” from The American Spectator and “The Night I Met Lena Horne” from The Root are beautiful examples of this goal being met. These sorts of posts also build community by strengthening the communication between blogger and readers.
  6. David CameronThe First Post‘s “In Pictures: Prime Minister David Cameron – The Story So Far” had a simple goal: “This post will tell the story of David Cameron through strong, well-selected photographs.”
  7. Robin Hood – The post “Robin Hood: 10 Things I Liked, 5 I Didn’t” from FilmSchoolRejects was written with the goal of refuting an earlier review. Policing other publications and gathering information to support or refute their claims can lead to countless post ideas.
  8. Gordon Brown – Your post’s goal may be to give your readers advice about something. Career Hub gets bonus points for finding a way to use a major news story to illustrate their advice in “Gordon Brown’s Downfall: 6 Career Lessons for Us All.”
  9. Lady Gaga –Another oft-used goal is that of of sharing information not yet available to the general public–advice from a conference that not all your readers were able to attend, a recipe you came up with in your own kitchen, or a pre-release issue of a comic book about Lady Gaga (Jezebel‘s “Good Idea, Gruesome Execution: The Lady Gaga Comic Book”).
  10. Times Square – If you’re a regular ProBlogger reader, you’ve seen Darren’s posts explaining why you need the ProBlogger book. Those posts, like Daily Intel‘s “Times Square Vendor Sells T-Shirts About Seeing Something and Saying Something,” have the goal of promoting a product. Promoting your product can be tricky but Darren gets by with it by weaving valuable tips into his promotional posts and Daily Intel’s post is actually less about promotion and more about sharing an interesting bit of news.

Speaking of news and promotion (see what I did there?), I wanted to mention briefly that the all-new, redesigned version of Regator.com is now open to the public. Several ProBlogger readers tried it during our private beta (Darren gave some invites away in the forums) and we appreciated the feedback from that. As I’ve been doing these weekly trends posts, several of you have mentioned that the topics important to bloggers in your particular niche don’t make it on to the overall trends lists you see here. While Regator doesn’t provide weekly trends on the site–those are exclusively for ProBlogger readers–it does give up-to-the-minute real-time trends for the blogosphere as a whole and for individual niches. That means that if you’re blogging about politics or technology or entertainment, you can head over to Regator to see what bloggers in your niche are writing about right now. I hope that’s helpful to those of you who wanted more genre-specific trends.

Do you have goals for individual posts that you write, or just for your blog as a whole? If not, do you think writing a goal statement before starting a post would benefit you? I’d love to hear your thoughts 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 Make Your Blog Pay the Bills [Bootcamp for Bloggers Starts Soon]

leo-babauta.jpgRegular readers of ProBlogger know the name Leo Babauta – creator of the massive blog ZenHabits (among other successful blogs). He’s guest posted here on ProBlogger numerous times and we’ve recommended what he does numerous times.

Leo’s famous for taking Zen Habits from nothing to one of the biggest blogs in the world with over 150,000 subscribers within a pretty short time frame. Off the back of his success he’s written a best selling book and launched a number of best selling e-books. He’s full time in what he does and every time I speak with him is experimenting with new ways to build his web presence.

A-List Blogging Bootcamp

One of Leo’s projects that he’s been running for a while now is the A-List Blogging Bootcamps. These intense 5 day training courses for bloggers have been a big success and he’s about to run another one called How to Make Your Blog Pay the Bills.

The course runs between 16-20 May and is an intense burst of learning through a variety of mediums including Podcasts, articles, videos, mentoring, daily live webinars with Q&A and daily action steps to keep you on track.

While there is some live interaction, there’s also lots that you can take away from it and digest in your own time for the next month after the course.

I participated in the teaching of the last bootcamp and was really impressed by the excitement that I saw among Leo’s students and so I’m also being featured in a session during this Bootcamp. Other guest presenters include Daniel Scocco and Jonathan Fields.

Learn more about how you can be involved in How to Make Your Blog Pay the Bills.

Disclaimer: I am a fan and supporter of Leo and what he does. I’m also a presenter in this course as well as an affiliate for it.

Blogosphere Trends – What Bloggers Are Writing About This Week

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

After reading this post, you’ll not only know what the ten most blogged-about topics of the past week are but you’ll also have at least ten great options for the opening line of your next post.

The opening line above makes a promise. And I hope that it made you want to read more. (You’re still here, right?) After your headline, the opening lines of your post may be the most important words you write. They determine whether visitors will continue reading or click past your post. Making a promise, like I just did, is one of many techniques you can try. I was digging into the ProBlogger archives and stumbled across Darren’s 2008 post “11 Ways to Open a Post and Get Reader Engagement,” which reminded me that it’s all too easy for bloggers to overlook the importance of those first few words. That’s why, as we look at this week’s blog trends (generated by Regator), we’ll also take a look how effective opening lines helped a few specific posts stand out from the pack.

  1. Gulf of Mexico/Oil SpillMashable identifies a need (in this case, the desire to understand the severity of the disaster) with the opening line, “Wondering just how much damage April 20′s Deepwater Horizon drilling platform explosion has caused?” Then, just as importantly, goes on to provide a solution. This technique is the number one tip on Darren’s list for a reason: It works. Painting a picture with words can also help you snag readers’ attention. The Gaggle does this very effectively in its opening line: “At last, it’s here: after more than two weeks of waiting, the eerie pinkish-orange foam mixture of seawater and crude oil that has been creeping ominously closer to has now begun to wash ashore the barrier islands off the coast of Louisiana.”
  2. Times Square – Intriguing or surprising statements are another way to draw readers in with opening lines. The Daily Beast does this with the line “The wife of the accused Times Square bomber lived a suburban life of shopping and Everybody Loves Raymond–until her handsome young husband became a monster.” Daily Intel uses the same technique: “The more we learn about wannabe Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, the more normal he seems.”
  3. UK Election – Asking a question that readers are curious about is another way to engage them. Toby Young asks, “Why hasn’t Gordon Brown resigned?” He follows through by hypothesizing and offering up possible answers. Starting with a question without a definite answer and offering up your own opinions can be a great way to elicit comments from those who agree as well as those with other opinions. Young’s post has, indeed, drawn a lively conversation from commenters.
  4. Greece – As Darren points out, “Your opening line need not be a textual one.” The Gothamist‘s photo of a riot officer falling to the litter-covered ground after being hit by a chair is a powerful and effective image that makes me want to learn more.
  5. Federal Trade Commission – Stats and figures can be quite attention-grabbing. Marketing Pilgrim uses a figure to create interest: “The FTC created quite a stir last year when they announced their new blogging guidelines to crack down on bloggers who receive products free in exchange for mentions or reviews. The FTC reassured bloggers that the rumored $11,000 fines wouldn’t affect them…”
  6. JJ Abrams – Darren points out that stories that illustrate a post’s point in an indirect way make for strong opening lines. FilmSchoolRejects uses this well in its post “Why J.J. Abrams Gets Away With Mystery,” starting with a paragraph-long story that compares mysterious roadside attractions and JJ Abram’s latest project.
  7. Lawrence Taylor – “If I asked you on May 5, 2010 who Lawrence Taylor was, you would probably respond that he was one of the best linebackers of all time.” This opening line from Bleacher Report acts, in some ways, like a question. It causes readers to ask themselves what has changed since May 5, 2010.
  8. iPad 3G Cult of Mac uses a combination of wordplay and a totally unexpected statement to create an opening line that’s tough to walk away from: “The iPad is smoldering hot, especially in a professional grade microwave where it goes in pristine, then bursts into flames and comes out a charred, broken brick.”
  9. Lynn Redgrave – An analogy can put a story into context for your readers. “Before there was Bridget Jones, there was Georgy Girl,” says Shine’s Manage Your Life blog. This helps readers who might not be familiar with the actress a reference point and reason to read on.
  10. Conan O’Brien – Strong quotes are a brilliant way to draw readers into your post. In a recent post on Conan’s first interview since The Tonight Show debacle, PopEater begins by setting up then using this quote: ‘I went through some stuff,’ O’Brien told ’60 Minutes’ on Sunday. ‘I got very depressed at times. It was like a marriage breaking up suddenly, violently, quickly. And I was just trying to figure out what happened.’”

Here’s a challenge: Armed with these examples and Darren’s tips, try a type of opening line you don’t normally use this week, then tell us about it 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.

Blogosphere Trends – What Bloggers Are Writing About This Week

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

Welcome back, my blogtastic friends! As you may have gathered by now: Every week, we use Regator‘s blog trends to show you what the blogosphere has been writing about during the previous seven days (click any trend to see posts about that story) and I give you a few blogging tips to go along with the trends. Speaking of which, I just finished watching the first, second, and third groups of videos that Darren gathered from readers who had tips to share, and I’m both impressed and inspired.

That’s why I thought we’d use this week’s trends to talk a bit about videos in posts, namely why and when to use video. The “Tips From Our Readers” video series as well as Darren’s weekly video posts are effective because they not only convey information but also use video to strengthen the community and to help readers connect with Darren on a more personal level. Building community and helping readers connect with you as a blogger are two ways of ensuring repeat visitors and higher traffic. Let’s take a look at this week’s trends and how a few specific blogs used video to add to these stories:

  1. Gulf of Mexico/Deepwater Horizon – In “Video of Oil Rig and Fire Rescues” The Lede features five separate videos of the oil rig fire in the Gulf of Mexico. These videos are used to convey the drama of the event and play into the human fascination with disasters. In general, don’t write about a tornado if you have video of it. Don’t describe an explosion if you can show it.
  2. Goldman SachsThe Consumerist‘s “Senator to Goldman Sachs: ‘Why Did You Push a S#!tty Deal?” uses video to show rather than tell readers about this altercation. Using video this way is a good alternative to transcribing long passages of quotes and also provides readers with nuances such as body language, facial expressions, and linguistic quirks that can be important in circumstances such as this.
  3. Kentucky Derby – Videos can be used to add humor to your blog. In “The Late Movies: Horse Racing Hijinks,” Mental Floss does this by providing a series of videos showing commentators struggling with unusual horse names during the Derby. (The Aaaaarrrr! video is priceless, but makes another point because the 1:34 second video only gets going after the 50-second mark. Don’t be afraid to edit videos down to the relevant bits. The internet has a short attention span.)
  4. Gordon Brown – Gordon Brown’s recent gaffe, in which he insulted a woman while his microphone was unintentionally on, is a perfect opportunity to use video to illustrate a controversial moment. The author of Britannica Blog‘s “Bigotgate and the End of Gordon Brown” recognized this and inserted video proof of the incident. Covering stories such as this one without video simply feels incomplete.
  5. Born Free – Rather than simply showing M.I.A.’s controversial banned-on-YouTube new video for “Born Free,” The Daily Swarm used it, along with other recent music videos, to highlight a trend in its post “Why the Event Video Is Back.” If you’re handy with video editing, you can also create videos that demonstrate trends by showing that multiple people taking part in a particular activity, wearing a particular fashion, or using a particular phrase, for example.
  6. Times Square – When timeliness matters, you might be able to cover a breaking story more quickly for your readers by posting video of a press conference than by writing your own analysis. Towleroad’s “Car Bomb Scare Shuts Down Times Square” quickly summed up the story with quotes from major news outlets and video of the mayor’s press conference. You can go this route to keep your readers informed then go back and write a more detailed post later.
  7. Bret MichaelsTV Squad uses video to provide additional commentary and opinion on Bret Michael’s medical condition from a public figure in “Did Trump Inadvertently Spoil ‘The Celebrity Apprentice?’” Using video in this way helps add additional voices and color to the post.
  8. Stephen Hawking – Video can also be used to add pop culture references to your posts. In “Stephen Hawking: ‘Don’t Talk to Aliens,’The Seminal uses amusing video clips from movies to indicate that Hawking thinks aliens are more like the crazy attack aliens from Independence Day than friendly E.T.s from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
  9. Arizona Immigration Law – Liberal U.S. political blog Crooks and Liars uses video of protests against Arizona’s new immigration law to support its viewpoints and take readers to the scene of a story in “Tens of Thousands March in Major Cities for Immigration Reform.” Taking your own video at a drama-filled event gives your readers inside access and puts them in the moment.
  10. Sandra Bullock – In “Sandra Bullock Paparazzi Feeding Frenzy Videos: Pure Chaos,” Gawker used video when words might’ve fallen short. The scene is so chaotic and overwhelming that video was, very likely, the best way to quickly communicate the situation.

Do you use video for any of the reasons mentioned here (to build community, to convey drama, to show rather than tell, to add humor, to illustrate controversy or chaos, to show a trend, to cover breaking news quickly, to add voices and commentary, to add pop culture references, or to take readers to the scene)? How have you used videos on your blog? Please share your experiences 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.

Blogosphere Trends – What Bloggers Are Writing About This Week

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

Happy Monday, bloggers! Every week, we use Regator‘s blog trends to show you what the blogosphere has been buzzing about during the previous seven days. (As always, click any trend to see posts about that story.) Because so many people are blogging about each of these stories, it becomes more important than ever to find a way to set your post apart.

This week, we’ll be taking a look at a few posts from bloggers who used interest-adding formats to approach these widely covered stories. So many of us tend to think in terms of text and paragraphs when we sit down to blog, but there are dozens of options you can use to add variety to your blog, find new ways of looking at a story, and present an oft-covered topic in a fresh and engaging way. Live blogging, slideshows, infographics, charts and graphs, timelines, contests, polls, lists, interviews, videos, reviews, tutorials, Q&As, and lists are just a few formats that are worth keeping in mind. Let’s take a look at how some bloggers approached this week’s top stories:

  1. Earth Day Treehugger‘s “An Earth Day Tribute to 11 Environmental Heroes” uses a slideshow to great effect, putting faces to the names to help readers connect more closely with the people being profiled. If creating a slideshow feels a bit overwhelming, a post with large, high-quality photos with deep captions can achieve the same thing in most cases.
  2. Goldman Sachs – In “SEC vs. Goldman Sachs Q&A,” The Huffington Post explains a complicated issue without frightening readers off with huge blocks of uninterrupted text by using a Q&A format.
  3. NFL Draft – In “Our NFL Draft Drinking Game Will Melt Your Face,” Asylum creates a game, complete with lengthy list of rules, for readers. My first thought was that creating games would rarely be a good option, then I searched Regator and found blog posts on drinking games relating to Earth Day, Avatar, Glee, income taxes, Battlestar Galactica, and dozens more. A search for more wholesome, less boozy options turned up posts on Appropriation Bingo, Gender Bias Bingo, Food Writer Bingo, Chatroulette Bingo, and too many more to mention. Get creative.
  4. South ParkBoingBoing‘s “South Park’s 200th, Litigious Celebs and Mohammed” makes great use of video. Videos add an extra dimension that can work well if your subject is engaging enough to hold your readers/viewers’ attention. In general, the shorter the better (without losing important context, of course).
  5. Gizmodo/iPhone 4G – Like a Q&A, timelines have the ability to break a complicated situation up in a way that makes it more digestible for readers. The timeline used by Today @ PCWorld in “Apple’s iPhone 4G Debacle: A Timeline” is in text format but, if you have the technical prowess and time, you could potentially get quite fancy with interactive visual timelines.
  6. Nick Clegg – Live blogging events encourages interaction and gives your readers the freshest information available. The Telegraph used this technique in “Sky TV Leaders’ Debate: Live Blog.” If you blog with others, live blogging as a group is a good way to give readers’ some extra viewpoints.
  7. Country Music Awards – You can use polls as a quick, easy way to cover a story and to encourage reader debate and comments. The Hollywood Gossip‘s post “ACM Awards Fashion Face-Off: Taylor Swift vs. Miranda Lambert” is an example of how brief a poll post can be.
  8. Project Runway – Interviews are a great option and, if you ask the right questions, also guarantee that you’ll have something original and exclusive to post. FabSugar‘s “Exclusive! Project Runway’s Jay Talks About Second Win and Why Nina’s Opinion Matters Most” has a descriptive headline and solid photos to accompany the interview.
  9. Tribeca Film Festival – Film, book, art, and music blogs employ reviews regularly (The Independent Eye has a series of well-written review posts on Tribeca Film Fest movies) but your niche might give you some even more interesting/unexpected options.
  10. Beijing Auto Show – Going to an event of interest to your readers? A thorough day-in-the-life post to share the experience with them is a useful alternative to live blogging (who has time to live blog while taking part in an event?). The Truth About Cars“TTAC at the Beijing Auto Show. Day Two” is an example of a detailed post of this kind. It’s obvious that the blogger took care to take ample photos and notes throughout the day.

What other formats have worked for you and your readers? Please share your examples 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.

Blogosphere Trends – What Bloggers Are Writing About This Week

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

Every week, we’re using the trending topics from Regator to show you what bloggers are writing about most during the previous seven days. Click any trend to see posts about that story. So far, we’ve used the trends to illustrate how you can break out of the echo chamber and solve problems for your readers.

This week, we’ll focus on crafting effective post titles/headlines. You can delve into the ProBlogger archives to find some great posts by Darren on this topic: “How to Craft Post Titles That Draw Readers Into Your Blog” is a must read for every blogger and “15 Ways to Rework Your Next Blog Title” is a useful follow-up. For this post, we’ll focus solely on the effectiveness the headlines, but as you blog, remember to deliver on what you promise–some of the posts behind these headlines do that better than others. Let’s see how a few bloggers handled the headlines for this week’s top stories:

  1. Twitter – Between buying Tweetie, archiving tweets in the Library of Congress, holding its developer conference, and unveiling promoted tweets, the service could not be ignored. The title of Gizmodo‘s “Inside America’s Secret Historical Tweet Vault” is almost as tough to ignore. As Darren points out, there are “power words” that, when used with care, can make your titles nearly irresistible. He lists words like: secret (used here) free, stunning, discover, and easy. There are plenty of others: exclusive,  shocking, new, etc.
  2. Goldman Sachs – “How to” titles are effective because they follow Darren’s #1 headline rule: Communicate a benefit. The Money Game‘s “How to Trade the Goldman Panic Right Now” does this well. My most widely read post ever was a “how to” post: “Seven Ways Social Media Is Ruining Your Life–And How to Fix It.” In large part, I credit the headline for that post’s popularity.
  3. Supreme Court – Personalizing titles by using “you” helps readers feel connected to the story. Queerty‘s “The 3 Supreme Court Cases Obama’s New Pick Will Decide for You” takes a larger story and makes the reader feel that it’s relevant to him or her.
  4. President Obama – Creating a keyword-heavy headline not only gives your readers a clear indication of what to expect, it also makes it easy for them to find your content in search engines or aggregators. Sometimes a straightforward, keyword-heavy headline is your best bet. i09′s “Obama’s Plans for NASA: Mars by 2030, $6 Billion Budget Increase Today” is long but will be easy to find in a search. CMT Blog’s “Garth Brooks Is Just Like Barack Obama” is even more effective. It has keywords but also draws on reader curiosity.
  5. Pulitzer Prize – Asking a question in your post’s title draws both readers who want to see how others answer and readers who are interested in sharing their own viewpoints. You might find that using this technique also helps you get more comments. “Sure, Online Journalism Nets Its First Pulitzer But Will a Blog Ever Win?” from Techdirt is a great example of a headline that provokes strong opinions and encourages discussion.
  6. Tea Party – Creating controversy with your headlines is one way to attract readers if you’re prepared for the consequences. Many bloggers enjoy igniting heated discussions. If you don’t mind disagreement, try stating a strong, polarizing opinion in your headline like AlterNet has in its post “The Tea Party Crowd Needs to Wake Up to Who the Real Villains Are.”
  7. Conan O’Brien – You’ve heard it before but I can’t do a post about titles without mentioning that people adore lists. Absolutely love ‘em. Lists quantify benefits and let readers know they’ll take away seven, 10 or even 99 new facts, tips, or tidbits. Take, for example, Vulture‘s “Seven Things Conan Can Do on Cable That He Couldn’t on NBC.”
  8. Record Store Day – If you’re covering something you have a very deep knowledge of, consider creating a “guide” style post. These posts are making a big promise to your reader–”guide” implies that you’ll be telling them all they need to know–so be sure to deliver. “Pitchfork Guide to Record Store Day” and “Flavorpill’s Guide to Record Store Day 2010 both went that route.
  9. PopeWSJ’s Law Blog chose to ask a hot-button question that would incite reader participation with its post “The Pope Can’t Be Sued Abroad…Is That a Good Thing?” and managed to elicit some comments nearly as detailed and lengthy as the original post.
  10. Iceland – Using humor in headlines is a tricky thing but, when done well, can result in clicks aplenty. City Room’s “Iceland Volcano Spews Consonants and Vowels” and HuffPo’s “Volcanic Ash Cloud Turns Out to Be Finale of Lost” both managed to make me smile…and get me to click to read the full post.

One last non-trend-related tip I’ll give from my own experience. Magazine editors labor for longer than you may think to craft the perfect cover line that’ll make you drop your hard-earned cash on their products. As a whole, they’re pretty good at it and the same principles apply to blog post titles. I’ve found that spending half an hour at a bookstore reading cover lines can be a great way to get inspired.

What makes you want to read a story? Please tell us about “power words” that have worked for you, humorous headlines you’ve crafted, question headlines that have elicited huge reader responses, or other techniques you’ve found to be effective. What works for your blog?

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 – What Are Bloggers Writing About This Week

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

What were bloggers writing about last week? We used Regator’s trending topics to generate a top ten list that shows you exactly that (click any trend to see posts on that story). In the first installment of this column, we looked at how a few bloggers had used unique approaches to cover the week’s hot topics in ways that added to the conversation and created more interesting, worthwhile content.

This week, I was inspired by Darren’s recent post “Here’s What You Should Do to Improve Your Blog Today.” In it, he suggests that you “identify a reader’s problem (or that of a potential reader) and produce a post that will solve it.” (ProBlogger’s The 31 Days to Build a Better Blog workbook also focuses on this topic on day 16.) Another way of putting it would be to fulfill a need or want that your readers have. So in addition to the trending topics for the week, we’ll also take a look at how a few specific posts covered these stories while simultaneously solving a problem for their readers. If you’ve written a post on one of this week’s trends that fulfilled a need for your readers, please share it in the comments.

  1. Justice John Paul Stevens – Darren presents the problems to be solved as statements such as “I am bored,” “I want to improve…” or “I need a review of…” In this case, a reader might say, “I want to share my opinion on something I feel strongly about.” And Slate‘s Jurisprudence blog post “Who Should Replace Justice Stevens?” gives them the opportunity to do so in addition to providing opinions, speculation, and commentary from a variety of legal professionals. (Comedy Central’s Indecision Blog filled my need for humor with the headline “Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens Forces Lazy Indecision Blogger to Come Up With Second Angle on Retirement in One Day.”)
  2. Tiger Woods – “I’d like to advance my career.” This is a common desire but not one you’d expect Tiger Woods to be able to help with. Above the Law managed to find a way with its post “Is There a Tiger Woods Effect in Law Firms?”
  3. iPhone OS/Steve Jobs/Apple iPad – The blogosphere has Apple fever! I’m grouping these three related terms (all of which appeared in this week’s top ten) together to avoid Apple overload. The most common reader need when it comes to new gadgets is “I want a review of…” or “I want advice about buying…” In the case of the iPad, Business Insider fulfills the second need by answering the question “Should You Wait for iPad 2.0?” in a thoughtful video post.
  4. Star Wars – Sometimes your readers’ wants might be as simple as “I want the latest news about…” or “I want to have interesting tidbits to drop into cocktail party discussions.” For this, Cinematical’s post “Will ‘Star Wars’ Work as a TV Comedy?” is ideal. Like the Justice Stevens post above, it allows readers to express their opinions on something.
  5. Polish President Lech Kaczynski – After a tragic event such as this week’s plane crash, there is a desire to provide as much information as possible but other reactions might be “I don’t want to feel alone” or “I want to know how others are feeling.” The post “Poland: R.I.P. Black Saturday” from GlobalVoices solves these problems by gathering a wide range of feedback, emotional reactions, and opinions from Facebook, Twitter, news sources, forums, and blogs.
  6. Net Neutrality – Complex issues such as these often leave readers thinking, “I want to know what effects this will have on my life.” WSJ blog Digits solves this problem with “Winners and Losers in the Net-Neutrality Ruling.”
  7. Easter – “I want to find a new/better way to…” Finish this sentence with something you know the readers in your niche are interested in, then write a great post about it. That’s what Serious Eats did in their beautifully presented and very useful post “How to Dye Easter Eggs Naturally, Without a Store-Bought Kit.”
  8. Malcolm McLaren – When a well-known individual passes away, many react with, “I want to remember…” Rolling Stone‘s Rock&RollDaily blog solved this problem by providing videos of punk icon Malcolm McLaren’s most notable work in “Flashback: Remembering Malcolm McLaren, The Musician.” Posts that solve the “I want to remember…” problem can work in other circumstances as well. Don’t underestimate the draw of nostalgia when considering posts that look back on a time period, individual’s career, or trend.
  9. Upper Big Branch – After tragedy, people often respond with “I want to understand why this happened.” BoingBoing‘s “Of Coal Mines and Methane” and Footnoted.org‘s “Few Hints of Trouble in Massey Energy’s Filings” take two very different approaches to solving the “I want to understand…” problem.
  10. Oprah Winfrey – “I want to be in the know” is one of our readers’ most common desires. They come to you each day (or week) to stay informed. The Frisky‘s “What We Know About The Oprah Winfrey Network So Far” condenses the basic information on the story into a quick-to-scan bulleted list, filling its readers’ need to be quickly informed.

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 – What Are Bloggers Writing About

kim.jpgToday we’re starting a new type of post here at ProBlogger – Blogosphere Trends – something we hope will become a regular feature of ProBlogger and a way for bloggers to keep up with the latest trends in the Blogosphere.

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

What were bloggers writing about last week? We used Regator’s trending topics for the week to generate a top ten list that shows you exactly that (click any trend to see posts on that story). But as Darren pointed out in his video post “11 Ways to Add to the Conversation of the Blogosphere and Stand Out from the Crowd,” it’s not enough to cover the stories that everyone else is covering: “Successful bloggers have something of their own to say.” So in addition to the trending topics for the week, we’ll take a look at some specific posts that managed to truly add to the conversation around these stories. Did you cover one of these stories in an innovative way that broke out of the echo chamber? Tell us about it in the comments.

  1. Sarah Palin – For “What Does the Future Hold for Sarah Palin? (Besides LL Cool J)”, Jezebel heeded Darren’s sixth piece of advice by considering the implications of the current story on future events.
  2. Hot Tub Time Machine – Though the post does contain spoilers, io9’s “Open Letter to the Writers and Director of ‘Hot Tub Time Machine,’ From a Physics Professor” is a refreshing take on a story that many bloggers covered with a simple review. Interviewing experts for posts is a great way to create original content—bonus points when you do it in such an unexpected way.
  3. Apple iPad – Like the Sarah Palin post, iPhoneCTO’s “iPad Misunderstood: 5 Ways Apple’s Uber Tablet Will Transform Business” looks into the future but, just as importantly, also takes a broad story and focuses it for the blog’s specific readership. Knowing your readers and shaping stories to meet their needs can help you craft unique content.
  4. Earth Hour – Earth Hour elicits its fair share of debate. Many bloggers approached the topic as devil’s advocates (more of Darren’s advice). Lifehacker’s “Forget Earth Hour and Do Something Useful Instead” not only argued against the effectiveness of the event but also provided alternate ways its readers could save energy.
  5. Ricky MartinAutostraddle’s “Cracking the Coming Out Code With Clues From Gay Ricky Martin, Infographics” analysed the star’s decision by putting it in the context of other gay celebrities and their experiences. Putting a specific story within a broader context is another way of adding to the conversation. The nifty infographics don’t hurt either. The good news is that, while they are eye-catching, they aren’t so elaborate that you’d require an art director do something similar for a story you’d like to explore in this way.
  6. Kids’ Choice Awards – While most posts covering this Nickelodeon event were pretty predictable, Videogum managed to elicit a giggle from me with its humorous presentation of the winners list in “Old People React to the Winners of the 2010 Kids’ Choice Awards.” A bit of well-placed humour can take a post on a story that everyone’s covering to the next level.
  7. Sandra Bullock – Rather than echoing the countless stories on the subject, “David Brooks + Sandra Bullock = Matrimania” from Living Single uses a New York Times opinion piece as a jumping off point to provide an alternate viewpoint and to look at the institution of marriage as a whole.
  8. Michael Steele – Another of Darren’s tips is to aggregate various opinions on a story. The Moderate Voice does this well in its post “How Long Will Michael Steele Last at the RNC?” The author gathers snippets of coverage from a number of major sources then goes a step further by adding his own opinion/analysis of each.
  9. Catholic Church“Are the Media Picking on the Catholic Church?” at Blogging Religiously uses a few bits of Darren’s advice. The author indicates what aspect of the story grabbed his attention—in this case the angle and nature of the media coverage—and then provides what he sees as missing information and answers to questions. Although he does quote from other sources, these techniques help him avoid the echo chamber.
  10. Large Hadron Collider – We’ve seen (iPad example) that taking a broad story and focusing it in for your audience can be very effective, but sometimes—particularly if you’re dealing with a complex subject such as the LHC—taking a very specific story and broadening it to provide background or additional explanation is an even better option. Ars Technica/Nobel Intent’s “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Particle Smashers (But Were Afraid to Ask)” illustrates this well.

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.

The Online Profits Teaching Resource Opens its Doors to 300 More Students

It is that time of year when an amazing array of products and teaching resources are being released for those wanting to explore how to make a living online. I know as someone who covers the topic here on ProBlogger I’ve been pitched to write about many of them (at last count I’ve been pitched to write about and recommend over 20 this week alone).

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I’m pretty selective in the products that I recommend – one of those that I do suggest you check out has just reopened its doors to a new calls of 300 members – it’s called Online Profits.

Online Profits is the work of Daniel Scocco from a number of sites including ‘Daily Blog Tips’ and he’s one person in this game that I’ve come to respect a lot.

Online Profits is a comprehensive teaching course that covers 24 learning modules. After completing the course:

  • You’ll know Internet marketing inside out.
  • You’ll create your own online business.
  • You’ll take your existing websites to the next level.
  • You’ll discover the tools you need to succeed.
  • You’ll get access to a vibrant community of entrepreneurs.

The 24 modules cover a lot of ground and go way beyond just talking about blogging. Daniel and his team go through the basics like choosing domains and niches but get into a lot more detail including topics like SEO, affiliate marketing, developing and selling products and much more.

The best part about what Daniel has done though is in the group of mentors and teachers that he has assembled. He’s used people like Neil Patel, Chris Garrett, Yaro Starak, Zac Johnson and a lot more successful internet marketers to share what they know.

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If you want to get a taste of Daniel’s style – I recommend you do so by checking out his free report – 10 Deadly Business Mistakes You Should Avoid.

It’s a valuable report that will not only give you an insight into how Daniel goes about his business but it’ll give you a sample of his style.

Online Profits opened its doors minutes before I hit publish on this post and will be closed again once 300 new class members signup. It’s a worthwhile investment in your learning about internet marketing.