Using the Blogosphere’s Trends for Your Niche

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

Hello, fellow bloggers! Hope you’re having a fabulous week. Since I started this weekly column on April 7, we’ve discussed strong headlines and opening lines, use of video and images, list posts, effective quotes, and more—all through the lens of the week’s most-blogged-about topics. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the conversations we’ve had together in the comments and the knowledge you’ve all shared with each other and with me.

In the spirit of those open conversations, I wanted to answer the most common question I’ve received: How can I use these general trends if I don’t blog about current affairs? Well, you can find trends on your specific niche on Regator, but the true answer is that no matter what your niche, there is often a way—with enough creativity and research into the details of the story—to make it work for your readers. And tying posts to the week’s hottest topics can be a great way to get new readers and attract attention. This week, along with trends from Regator, we’ll take a look at how these topics were covered by bloggers in unexpected niches…

  1. Gulf of Mexico – You’d expect the disaster in the Gulf to be covered by blogs on environmentalism, marine biology, perhaps even business and politics, but PopEater managed to find a way to bring this ecological story into the realm of pop culture in “An Interview With the Guy Skewering BP on Twitter.”
  2. World Cup ­– The Next Web’s “World Cup fever? Here are 5 apps to keep you on top of things” took what would traditionally be a sports story and moved it into the technology space by focusing on related apps rather than the event itself.
  3. Steve Jobs – Jobs’s highly anticipated World Wide Developers Conference talk unveiled the iPhone 4 and was covered widely by technology blogs but Star Trek blog was able to make the event relevant to their readers by focusing on the Star Trek references in the talk and technology from the show and movie in “Steve Jobs Invokes Star Trek (Again) While Unveiling 4th Gen iPhone.”
  4. Helen Thomas – While political bloggers obsessed over Thomas’s offensive comments, women’s blog Jezebel covered the story by discussing what Thomas’s undignified fall meant for a woman who had been an icon and inspiration to women everywhere in its post “Helen Thomas: When An Icon Disappoints [Iconography].”
  5. MTV Movie Awards – Rather than approaching this star-studded event from the usual entertainment blogger’s perspective, gay blog AutoStraddle’s “MTV Movie Awards 2010 Celebrate Lesbian Innuendo, Swearing, Twilight” made the awards more relevant to their readers by honing in on the “10 most homosexual moments of the MTV Movie Awards 2010.”
  6. Rue McClanahan – While many television and entertainment bloggers focused on McClanahan’s television and theater legacy, Ecorazzi’s “RIP: Actress And Longtime Animal-Advocate Rue McClanahan Dies At 76” brought the story to their ecologically conscious demographic by focusing on the actor’s animal rights work.
  7. Lady Gaga – On a week when Lady Gaga’s latest music video was on everyone’s lips, Social Psychology Eye’s post “Facing illness, belief helps” skillfully worked the pop icon into the blog by discussing the psychological implications of Gaga’s recent revelation that she had been tested for lupus, undoubtedly earning them quite a few more readers than they would’ve gotten on a straightforward academic post on illness perception.
  8. Rush Limbaugh – Rather than obsessing about the details of Limbaugh’s wedding, as many entertainment bloggers did, The Daily Beast’s “Celebrity Wedding Singers” took Elton John’s unexpected role as Limbaugh’s wedding singer and created a list post that broadened the appeal of the story.
  9. Israel – Music bloggers aren’t the most expected source of news from Israel, but several, including Drowned in Sound with its post “Bands cancel shows following Israel’s flotilla raid” covered what is essentially a political and international affairs story in a way that created value for their music-obsessed readers.
  10. Harry Potter – While film bloggers were busy dissecting the latest Harry Potter trailer, travel blog Gadling put its own spin on the popular character with “London mayor rails against Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s Florida location.”

One thing all of these posts have in common is that the bloggers took the time to learn enough details about these stories to find a way to make them work for their blogs’ niches. Have you managed to work a popular story into your blog’s niche by using a creative angle? Tell us about it in the comments!

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

Must Read Free Report and Recordings with Smart Entrepreneurs

I’m literally heading out the door to speak at an event here in Melbourne but before I do I wanted to let you know about a great free report written by CopyBlogger’s Brian Clark and two great conversations with amazing entrepreneurs Jason Fried (37 signals) and Steven Pressfield.

This is great content and it’s part of a new project that Brian’s putting together called Lateral Action.

Here’s what you get:

  • A recorded conversation (with edited transcript) between poet/entrepreneur Mark McGuinness and bestselling novelist and historian Steven Pressfield, about the true art of entrepreneurship.
  • A recorded conversation (with edited transcript) between writer/entrepreneur Brian Clark (hey, that’s me!) and 37signals founder Jason Fried, about building businesses that produce not just remarkable profits, but remarkable lives.
  • A 31-page PDF report from me called The Lateral Action Guide to Starting a Smart Business.

The recordings are a really insightful glimpse into the minds of two very smart people, but the report – as is usual with Brian’s stuff – is really excellent if you’re thinking through starting a business (or rethinking an existing one).

To get all three just visit Lateral Action and add your email address to get immediate access.

Update: the Lateral Action Course is now up and running – learn more about it here.

Blogosphere Trends + Effectively Using Quotes

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 use Regator’s trends algorithm to bring you a list of the ten most blogged-about stories. This week’s list is, admittedly, a bit of a bummer, with the Gulf of Mexico’s oil spill spending its sixth straight week in the top ten, accompanied by a number of celebrity deaths and the unstable situation in Israel.

But instead of getting down about the state of the world, let’s focus on how a few bloggers used quotes to add to the coverage of these important stories. Careful use of quotations is something many bloggers overlook, but well-chosen quotes can support your argument, increase your credibility, provide an alternate viewpoint, create emotional impact, provide a voice of expertise, add humor, and increase the quality of your post. As you select quotes for your posts, remember that a good quote is not filler and will always make your post more intriguing or useful to your reader. Quotes are one of Darren’s “13 Ways to Add New Dimensions to Your Next Post.” Let’s look at some examples along with this week’s top trends:

  1. Gulf of Mexico ­– A particularly impactful (and short) quote can make a great headline. The Daily Dish employed this technique by using Obama’s “Plug The Damn Hole” as the title for a recent post. The quote is an efficient way of providing a voice of authority and conveying the president’s frustration with the situation.
  2. Dennis Hopper – Roger Ebert’s “Dennis Hopper: In memory” uses quotes from the recently deceased actor to add depth to the post. Hopper’s own words, such as, “There’s always this fear of not being able to make the films, not being able to do the work…” personified the icon in a way that few descriptions could.
  3. Gary ColemanThe Inquisitr’s “911 call before Gary Coleman’s death, wife says ‘blood everywhere’” features multiple quotes designed to take readers inside a very personal experience.
  4. Memorial DayArmy of Dude uses a quote to set a scene and add detail in “Metal Memorials,” a touching, well-written post on the bracelet this veteran wears to commemorate his fallen friend. The quote, “Hey man, just so you know, I’m going to set this thing off” is real and conversational and puts the reader into the security line at the airport with the author, who has to repeatedly explain why he does not remove his memorial bracelet at the metal detector.
  5. Israel – Quotes can add intrigue and spur curiosity, particularly if they are featured in the headline as “Says One Israeli General: ‘Everybody Thinks We’re Bananas’” from Jeffery Goldberg’s blog on The Atlantic.
  6. World Cup – In “2010 FIFA World Cup’s Biggest Quote: ‘God Willing, I’m Ready,’ Says TorresThe Bleacher Report begins by stating, “This could be the single most important pre-World Cup statement made so far,” proving that the right quote can be a jumping off point and/or inspiration for an entire post. As you read, keep an eye out for quotes that may inspire you to explore a topic further.
  7. Rue McClanahan – Sometimes, a quote is the most succinct way to answer a question. When it was revealed that Golden Girl Rue McClanahan had passed away, many wondered how the one remaining Golden Girl was coping with the loss. Zap2It’s “Betty White: Rue McClanahan ‘was a close and dear friend’ provided the answer in Betty White’s own words: “… It hurts more than I ever thought it would, if that’s possible.”
  8. DADT (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell) – Quotes may be in the form of videos, as in Queerty’s “Is Dan Choi’s Hunger Strike Coach Planning On His Death?” The advantage of video is that the speaker’s emotional state and body language add to the quote’s impact.
  9. Tipper GoreThe Kicker (Columbia Journalism Review’s daily blog) gathered quotes from a number of sources to illustrate a trend and support a point in “Fineman on Gores: ‘Finally.’
  10. AT&T – Quotes need not be in textual format to provide value. The Consumerist’s “Listen to AT&T Ask Customer to Stop Sending Them E-mails” lends credibility to a rather unbelievable story by providing audio proof: “I want to first thank you for the feedback and going forward need to warn you that if you continue to send emails to Randall Stephenson, a cease and desist letter may be sent to you.”

How often and why do you use quotes on your blog? Please share your experiences in the comments. Have a great weekend and see you next week!

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

Top 10 Blogosphere Trends + 10 Great List Posts

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, Regator brings you a list of the ten stories bloggers have been writing about most during the previous seven days (click any trend to see a list of posts about it). And while blogging about the week’s hottest topics may help you snag some new readers, it also puts you squarely in the center of a massive crowd, all talking about the same subject. That’s why, along with the top ten lists, I always give examples of posts that covered the week’s top stories in interesting ways.

We’ve already looked at interesting formats that can inspire you and add variety to your blog. Today, we’ll look in more detail at one of those formats: list posts. Writing a list post is the assignment for Day 2 of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook because (among other reasons) list posts are scannable, succinct, visually attractive, persuasive, and have a higher than average chance of going viral. If you’re new to this type of post, get some valuable tips by checking out “10 Steps to the Perfect List Post.” Let’s see how some bloggers used lists to cover this week’s top stories:

  1. Gulf of Mexico – By offering five solutions, Inhabitat’s Top 5 Green Ways to Clean Up Oil Spills ensures that readers know exactly what they are being promised.
  2. Rand PaulThe Atlantic Wire’s 6 Ways Rand Paul Is Like Sarah Palin uses a bullet-pointed list to break up what might otherwise have been an unwieldy block of text providing comparisons between the two politicians.
  3. Google TV ­– 7 Ways to Watch Web Video Without Google TV gives readers value through tips on products, along with the pros and cons of each. Using a non-round number such as seven can have the effect of encouraging readers to add to the list in the comments, which has happened on this Gadget Lab post.
  4. French Open ­– The Bleacher Report’s 10 French Open Observations, provides tennis enthusiasts with ten scenes from this important event. As one commenter noted, the post keeps things “brief and moving along.”
  5. North Korea – As demonstrated by PajamasMedia’s North vs. South Korea: How Bad Could a War Get? list posts don’t always have to be numbered. Breaking this story down into “The Good News,” “The Bad News,” “The Worse News,” and “The Downright Scary News,” dissects and simplifies a complex situation.
  6. World CupAbduzeedo’s The 10 Stadiums of the 2010 World Cup is appropriately image-heavy and text-light for this design-focused blog and uses the round number 10, which (like 25, 50, or 100) lends the post a certain amount of authority.
  7. Mark Zuckerberg ­– Agree to Disagree’s 5 Ways to Deal with Facebook’s Privacy Policy shows that the list itself might be only part of your post. Create the list then spend the rest of your post playing devil’s advocate or debating the pros and cons of each item.
  8. Craig VenterJacks of Science used a bold, attention-grabbing, humorous headline to sell 5 Reasons Craig Venter Might Kill You. It’s not a brand-new post relating to Venter’s recent creation of the first synthetic life, but it does provide interesting trivia in a fun-to-digest format.
  9. Series Finale ­– BuzzSugar’s The Top 10 Highlights From the American Idol Season Finale! uses the word “top” to create interest. Words like “top” and “best” lead your readers to believe that they’re seriously missing out if they don’t read your post and therefore tend to do very well in the titles of list posts. Techland’s 10 Ways LOST Shouldn’t End takes the opposite approach and looks at the worst ways the show could end rather than the best. Lists of the “worst,” “most awful,” “most disastrous” also tend to do well. Call it schadenfreude.
  10. Shrek Forever AfterReelz Channel’s Top 10 “Wow, You’ve Really Let Yourself Go” Movies uses one timely story to illustrate a trend, presenting each list item with a clear subheadline in larger text and bolded phrase that hopes to intrigue readers into reading the smaller text.

How often do you use list posts? Under what circumstances to you think they work best? Let us know in the comments.

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

Join the Third Tribe Before the Price Changes

If you’re struggling to find your place in this internet marketing game and feel torn between the hype and obnoxious tactics of some of the traditional internet marketers and the ideals, principles and yet lack of profitability of many of the social media purists… you just might want to check out The Third Tribe.

Third Tribe was designed as a place for those who see themselves as internet entrepreneurs who want to embrace and learn from different types of internet marketers – yet who don’t want to abandon their principles, ethics and sell their souls along the journey.


Two weeks back I posted an update on the Third Tribe and hinted that now was a great time to join as the price would probably be raised in the coming month – on 1 June, the price will rise so this is your last chance to get in at the current level.

The reason for the price rise is simple – since launching we’ve added 10 hours of seminar content and a further 10 hours of other kinds of content including twice monthly Q&A calls. The value that you get out of the archives on day 1 of joining (currently for just $47) has risen – and so will the price if you don’t lock in at the current one.

Seminars already in the archives are:

  • Product Launch Strategies: What Always Works and What’s Working in 2010
    Jeff Walker & Sonia Simone
  • How to Get Your Customers to Do Your Best Marketing for You
    John Jantsch & Chris Brogan
  • Email Marketing Strategies that Work
    Sonia Simone & Brian Clark
  • Action Email: Copywriting Tips for Insanely Effective Email Marketing
    Dave Navarro & Sonia Simone
  • Internet Business Models: Part One – the Problogger model
    Darren Rowse & Brian Clark
  • Internet Business Models: Part Two – the Chris Brogan model
    Chris Brogan & Sonia Simone
  • Internet Business Models: Part Three – the Copyblogger model
    Brian Clark & Sonia Simone
  • Internet Business Models: Part Four – the Zen Habits model
    Leo Babauta & Darren Rowse
  • The Quick Start Guide to Making Money Online
    Johnny Truant & Sonia Simone
  • Advanced Affiliate Marketing with Social Media and SEO
    Brian Clark & Glenn Allsopp

You can get a lot fuller descriptions of the sessions and see the back story on why Brian Clark, Chris Brogan, Sonia Simone and myself started this project on the Third Tribe Site – so check them out.

Of course on top of the content is the community of Third Tribe. With thousands of members coming from a diverse back ground of online disciplines the forum area is a treasure trove of information, knowledge and potential collaborations.

Currently you get all of that plus recordings of the Q&A sessions the minute you subscribe for just $47. You’ve got no obligation to continue your membership after month 1 but if you do you can rest assured in the knowledge that you’re locked in at the current monthly price and won’t pay any more even after the price rise.

If you’ve been thinking about giving Third Tribe a go – it’s a great time to join us! I hope to see you on the inside!

Blogosphere Trends + Choosing and Using Images

Welcome back for another edition of the weekly Blogosphere trends, now on its new day of the week. If you’re blogging about stories, like those on the trends list, that are covered by hundreds of other bloggers across the blogosphere or in your niche, how can you make sure your post gets the attention it deserves? We’ve talked a bit about using effective headlines, interesting formats, and strong opening lines to draw readers to your posts. Today, along with the trends generated by Regator, we’ll look at some types of images that could be used to help posts about these popular stories stand out from the crowd.

Normally, I use individual blog posts to illustrate the week’s tips. This week, I’m taking a slightly different approach and using images from Flickr (unless otherwise noted) because I want to demonstrate the variety and quality of images available there via Creative Commons licenses. We’ll talk in a moment about licensing and other places to get free (or affordable) legal images for your posts, but first, let’s take a look at how this week’s hot stories could’ve been enhanced with visuals:

  1. Gulf of Mexico – Powerful photos, such as this oil-covered pelican, can be used to add emotional impact to your posts. Remember, a picture is worth 1,000 words…but it’s the internet, so your readers probably don’t have the attention span required to read 1,000 words.
  2. Elena Kagan – Clear, well-framed photographs can also be used to set the scene for your post. This photo of the U.S. Supreme Court is Konomarked, which is a bit different from the standard Creative Commons licensing normally used by Flickr. The Konomark symbol, which looks like a pineapple in a circle, generally means that the owner of the content is willing to share it but must be emailed first for permission.
  3. Cannes Film Festival – Perhaps you weren’t able to stand in the center of the red carpet at Cannes to get a dramatic shot…but someone was. Use their access to transport your readers to an exclusive location or event in order to give them a perspective they wouldn’t ordinarily be privy to.
  4. Ronnie James Dio – When choosing photos of celebrities–or people in general, for that matter–spontaneous shots that capture a moment in time are usually far more impactful than staged, posed promo shots provided by PR companies. Though taken on stage, this shot of Ronnie James Dio, who died this week, seems to offer a glimpse into the human being behind the rock star persona.
  5. Senate/Rand Paul/Arlen Specter – You might also consider using a comic or illustration rather than a photo. Because of the time involved in creating them, it can be tough to find free versions of political cartoons, this Arlen Specter work isn’t free but the prices are listed to give you some idea of what something like this would cost.
  6. Miss USA/Rima Fakih – The right image can be used to add humor to your post. In this case, this (really weird) “pole dancing is prohibited” sign could provide light-hearted commentary on the Miss USA pole dancing scandal.
  7. Robin Hood – If you regularly blog about movies, music, or television, you probably receive more publicity stills and promo shots than you’d use in a lifetime. They can be useful in the right context though. Slashfilm used promo shots to give readers a glimpse of the highly anticipated but then-unreleased Robin Hood movie. PR contacts are often happy to provide you with promo shots if you just ask.
  8. Steve Jobs – Although the old adage that pictures never lie is certainly not true in the age of PhotoShop and photo manipulation, they do still add a certain level of credibility to a story. Gawker published screen shots of a heated exchange between a blogger and Steve Jobs because it was not only a more visually interesting approach, but also helped legitimize the story.
  9. David Cameron – Infographics, such as this analysis of the UK election under different voting systems, can help your readers quickly and easily understand a complicated topic or simply present information and statistics that might’ve been dry or wordy in a more dynamic, interesting way.
  10. World Cup – Like infographics, maps are a visually engaging way to provide a great deal of information using minimal text and space. This annotated map of the World Cup surrounds quickly conveys important safety information to World Cup fans.

Most of the images above are available via Creative Commons licensing on Flickr. It’s vital to understand the various types of licensing so that you understand what you can and cannot do with a particular image and how it needs to be attributed. Many new bloggers make the mistake of using random images from a Google image search, hot-linking to images (a BIG no-no), or using Flickr or other image sites without fully understanding the licensing. Here’s my approach: I begin by doing an advanced search on Flickr, making sure to check the box that says “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content.” Then, once I’ve found an image I’m interested in, I click the “Some rights reserved” link (if it says “All rights reserved,” it it not available via Creative Commons) under “More information” in the lower right corner of the page to learn more about the licensing for that photo.

Flickr is a great resource but certainly isn’t your only option for free-high quality images for your posts. Here are a few other options:

– Use the advanced option of Google Image Search. Select the correct option under “Usage Rights.”
Wikimedia Commons is another amazing resource with more than six million images to choose from.
– If you’re ever in need of space or astronomy-related images, you can’t do better than NASA Images, which allows you to use any image (as long as it doesn’t imply that NASA endorses a particular product) simply by including a credit that says, “NASA/courtesy”
Stock.xchng, now owned by Getty Images, has 350,000 free stock photos. There are also a few other sites where you can find images free of charge, including MorgueFile, EveryStockPhoto, and Freerange Stock.
– The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a sizable library of nature-related digital media, all available free of charge.
– The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a beautiful library of photos, all available for free with a few minor restrictions regarding attribution.
– Use your own photos. With a decent camera and a bit of practice (along with some tips from photography blogs like Darren’s Digital Photography School), you can save yourself the time it’ll take to hunt down photos taken by others and get the satisfaction of creating even more original content for your blog.

Do you have a great image resource I haven’t mentioned? Please share it with your fellow bloggers in the comments.

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

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 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 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 and Regator for iPhone as well as an award-winning print journalist. You can find her on Twitter @kimber_regator.