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Free Webinar on Facebook Marketing: This Wednesday

Do you want to tap into the audience of over 1 billion people using Facebook?FB-Influence.png

This Wednesday I will be hosting a free live webinar with someone who has taught me so much about Facebook Marketing – Amy Porterfield.

At a recent session at Blog World Expo that Amy was teaching at I came away with a long page of action items of things to implement on my own Facebook pages and I’m confident that in our webinar you’ll likewise come away with some great ideas and things to do.

Amy is the author of Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies and has consulted with numerous well known companies and individuals on their Facebook strategy – she knows what she’s talking about and is a great communicator. You’ll get a heap of value from this webinar.

Registration is free and this webinar is live. I’m looking forward to participating but more than anything from the opportunity to soak up some more great knowledge from Amy.

The Webinar is happening this Wednesday (7th December) at 9pm-10pm EST (US Eastern time).

Register here to participate. Numbers on the webinar are limited and we won’t be posting a recording of this one so do make sure you’re on the call.

Seth Godin on Blogging and Productivity

With the launch this week of Seth Godin’s latest book, We Are All Weird, we wanted to share this interview we recently conducted with Seth on productivity and blogging.

Seth’s among the world’s most prolific bloggers, but he’s also a profuse book author and serial entrepreneur.

How does he fit it all in?

Seth Godin

Seth (image copyright Brian Bloom Photography)

One of his secrets might surprise you: “I’m America’s worst attender of meetings,” Seth reveals. “I don’t do any of that.”

“A meeting is a very special thing: it’s three or more people talking to each other about a decision that’s going to be made, and probably trying to get someone else to make it,” he explains. “And so I don’t have those. If I need information I have a conversation with one person. That’s not a meeting, that’s a conversation.”

He refers to Al Pittampalli’s book Read This Before Our Next Meeting, which was released in August through Seth’s publishing venture, The Domino Project, and which suggests more productive approaches to the traditional concept of the “meeting.”

Of course, that’s not the only way Seth manages to keep on top of things. As the interview reveals, his philosophy rests on a very clear vision of what’s important to him. It’s that vision that motivates him, helps him choose where to direct his energies, and enables him to make the everyday decisions that keep his media empire growing.

Our favorite piece of advice from the interview?

In a world where there’s not a lot of scarcity of ideas, and where digital stuff isn’t going to be able to be priced based on scarcity, ubiquity is a better strategy. If you can help change the conversation, if you can say stuff that’s worth saying, the money takes care of itself.
—Seth Godin

Start listening!

Or read the interview transcript in full:

Today I’m talking to Seth Godin of SethGodin.com. He’s a blogger, he’s a bestselling author of thirteen books including Poke the Box, he’s the inventor of permission marketing, and founder of Squidoo.com.

Seth, if there’s one word that could be used to describe your work, it’s prolific. You have six websites, you blog every day, you’ve written thirteen books, you do plenty of public speaking, you’ve founded dozens of companies and you carry the weighty mantel of “America’s Greatest Marketer.”

But when I emailed you about this interview, you replied. You set the appointment in Google Calendar and you sent me your Skype details. So I’m wondering, is it possible that America’s Greatest Marketer doesn’t have an assistant?

That’s correct.

How can this be? We imagine that you’re America’s Greatest Marketer, and America’s Busiest Man. Is that not the case?

Well, neither one of them is true, to be fair. I guess you make decisions about how you want to spend your time. What you didn’t mention is that I’m America’s worst watcher of television, cause I don’t spend any time doing that, zero. And I’m America’s worst attender of meetings, cause I don’t do any of that, zero. So I know people who do five hours of each every day. So right there I save myself ten hours a day.

The part about not having an assistant has to do with how permeable do you want to be to the world. You know, I don’t use Twitter, I don’t actively use Facebook, because I can’t do them justice. But if I hired someone to answer my email, it’d be better not even to use email. Cause what’s the point of having that filter? So I try to sort of strike this balance between doing some things at an insanely quick, prolific rate and doing other things not at all.

So in terms of permeability, you run a company, and you have publishers. I’m just wondering, if you don’t attend meetings, then how does permeability work with those kinds of operations that you’re working in?

Well, you know, we just published a book two weeks ago called Read This Before Our Next Meeting, and the author Al Pittampalli argues that a meeting is a very special thing: it’s three or more people talking to each other about a decision that’s going to be made, and probably trying to get someone else to make it. And so I don’t have those. If I need information I have a conversation with one person. That’s not a meeting, that’s a conversation.

If a decision needs to be made it gets made and then followup happens about what we’re going to do about the decision, but that doesn’t need to be a bunch of people around a table either. So there’s lots of interactions I have with people. I just don’t have those things that so many other organizations have where everyone sits around looking for the tallest poppy to chop down.

Fair enough. So can you tell us a bit more about what productivity means to you, and what motivates you to be so productive? Because obviously you are very productive.

Well you know, I think that it doesn’t count unless you ship it—that planning it and noodling it and refining it and thinking about it and keeping it in a drawer don’t count. You might as well do nothing. I think there are lots and lots of people who put in way more time than me, who may even create more than me, they just don’t ship.

No one calls up a plumber and says, “Wow, I can’t believe how many toilets you unclogged this week!” No one goes to short-order cook and says, “Wow, that’s your eight-hundredth hamburger of the week! That’s incredible!” Right? That’s their job. They ship for a living. If they don’t ship, they don’t get paid. And somehow we’ve seduced ourselves into thinking that it’s okay to hide. It’s okay for a playwright to write a play every five years. What was going on the other four and half years? I don’t know. If no one’s seeing your play, you’re not a playwright.

That’s interesting because I think many bloggers tend to see writing as a creative pursuit that does require shutting yourself away from the world, and having quiet time, getting in the zone, and noodling, as you say. And you’re not just writing blog posts—you’re writing book after book. How does the creative thing work for you? Do you take time out of your other work? Or is it just part of your regular routine? Are books and blog posts different for you? How does that work?

Okay well we need to be really careful here because a lot of times creative people want to know what other creative people do to do their work, as if using the same pencil as Steven King is going to do anything for you, ’cause it’s not. I know lots and lots of productive creative people and we all do it differently. So I think at its face, it’s not a particularly useful philosophy.

I will share one tactic which is that I write like I talk. The reason that’s important is that no one gets talker’s block. And so if you wake up in the morning unable to speak, then you need a physician. Everyone else doesn’t have that problem. So if you can train yourself to talk in complete sentences, and actually come up with thoughts that are worth sharing, then writing isn’t particularly hard—you just write down what you say.

That’s an interesting point you make about coming up with thoughts that are worth sharing. You’re a marketer so I’m thinking that you’re constantly looking at the market and looking at what people need to know or want to know or have a desire for information on. Have you trained yourself or honed your thoughts to meet those needs? Or are you just coming up with ideas every day? How do you make sure that your thoughts are worth sharing?

Oh they’re usually not!

What percentage would be worth sharing?

Five, maybe two.

Well how do you differentiate between the ones that are and the ones that aren’t?

Well, I notice things. That’s what I do. If I see something that I don’t understand I try to figure it out. If I see something that’s broken, I try to understand why it’s broken. And then you say either in writing or out loud what you noticed, and if it sticks with you for ten or fifteen or twenty minutes, maybe it’s worth writing down. And then you look at the ones that you wrote down and sometimes they’re worth sharing.

So in that regard do you use your blog as a bit of a proving ground, I guess, for ideas? ‘Cause a lot of bloggers would do that—they’d use their blog as a proving ground, and then they’d go away and write a product based on what they’ve honed over time on their blog. Do you do that or is your blog just as finished as a book would be?

In some ways it’s more finished because I get feedback as it’s going. I can fix something on my blog the next day, etcetera.

I don’t have products. I don’t think about products. And I’m not trying to monetize any of this. It monetizes itself, which is fine, and if it didn’t, that would be fine. So I think that when people start to think, “What can I hold back? What can I sell? How can I move people through a sales funnel?” they start getting themselves into trouble.

Why? Specifically why?

Because then who’s the customer? Who are you serving? In a world where there’s not a lot of scarcity of ideas, and where digital stuff isn’t going to be able to be priced based on scarcity, ubiquity is a better strategy. If you can help change the conversation, if you can say stuff that’s worth saying, the money takes care of itself. And too often the $59, $99, $499 special report is neither special nor a report.

It’s true. Well, we’ve talked about the writing a bit. Let’s talk about the bigger picture. It’s very easy to look at the Seth Godin we see in the media and say, “Okay, this guy’s in the business of content. He’s a content producer.” But you’re not that. You’re also a marketer, you’re a business owner, and the reason you’re a bestselling author is because you’re one of the most innovative marketing brains in the business. So I’m wondering what do you describe as being your true passion? And how important is that passion in your level of productivity?

You know, I have way too many conversations with myself about this. I would say that my passion is having people surprise themselves by what they’re capable of. And if I can be present at least a little bit for some of that internal dialog, that’s a privilege and a thrill for me. And when I hear from somebody who was working as a janitor for some company, and then four years later they own it, and they give me, right or wrong, some of that credit, I’m pretty pleased with that.

Because I think that people have way, way more potential than society lets them believe, and if I can help unlock that, that’s a privilege.

So that’s what motivates you when you get out of bed in the morning?

It is. It’s exactly what it is. I think if I was trying to make money, I would do something else for a living. There are certainly more lucrative ways to spend one’s time, and I think if I was trying to work on my tan, I wouldn’t sit indoors in front of a computer screen all day. So yeah, this is why I’m doing it. For that.

So how do you prioritize? That’s your passion, and it drives you to do a lot of different things, so how do you prioritize the different interests that you have? And how do you decide that you’re going to add something new to the list? Cause I’m imagining that the list is pretty full.

Yeah, I’m very bad at this. The answer is “poorly.” I decide poorly. That’s my only answer: I’m bad at it.

So what kind of internal struggle, if you like, do you go through when you’re facing doing something new. For example, if you were thinking of writing a new book. You’ve just written a book, but how do you decide when it’s time to start a new project?

Well, books are different. The only reason I ever start a new book is because I have absolutely no choice. There’s no excuses, delaying or anything else left. The book forces itself to be written. That’s been true for the last probably seven books. It’s such a long journey, it’s so frustrating, it’s such a hassle, so few people read it compared to my blog. There’s only going to be a book when the muse insists on a book.

Okay, so what about things like new businesses? Because you’ve started dozens of companies, so how did thy get onto the list?

I have, but I’m getting better at breaking that habit. The last company I started was six years ago, and Squidoo is doing really nicely—we’re the 76th biggest website in the United States. But I started that because there were some people I really needed to work with and they wouldn’t work with me unless I had something to work on.

But there’s tonnes of businesses that someone who was willing to work harder than me would start if they saw what I see; it’s just really hard to persuade myself to sign on for a ten-year project like that. I probably should get better at that.

Right, so I’m just thinking one of the things you mention is delaying, delaying projects and also the ten-year thing, the timeframe. So do you prefer to go for things that are a bit of a shorter timeframe or … I’m just trying to get an idea of how you would sift out these things. ‘Cause obviously you’ve got lots of ideas and lots of possibilities and I’m just thinking if, indeed, the average person has this great potential that you see, then that’s potentially overwhelming to have that potential. So I’m trying to get an idea of how you would prioritize.

Yeah, the book I wrote, The Dip, I take very seriously. I think that being the best at what you do is far more important than most people think. Which means that you need to make the thing you do small, so that you can be the best at it. And I also believe that we live in revolutionary times. Which means that…

You know, Henry Ford could have done anything he wanted once he got started. He could have started any one of 500 other businesses. And you know, he did cars, then he did trucks. But he could have done golf carts, he could have done boats, he could have done motor scooters, he could have done motor cycles—all these things. At one point Henry Ford had Ford shepherds who were tending Ford sheep so they could shear Ford wool to weave it on Ford looms to make fabric for Ford seats to put into Ford cars. Because he could.

You need to make the decision about what change are you passionate about making, cause it’s all a hassle. And there’s no formula. You just have to have an instinct, I think, for how hard are you willing to push to be the best at that thing. That’s why I don’t use Twitter, right? Because I get why people think it’s fun. But I also know that I couldn’t be as good as it as I could be and still do everything else I do.

Thinking about Twitter, and Facebook—you said you’re not on Facebook—and you don’t do meetings, are there any other tools or approaches or philosophies that you have to manage all the tasks that you do? Obviously not doing, not subscribing to certain things that you can’t give your all to is one of your approaches for getting through all the tasks, but are there any others that you can share with us?

Well I think, you know, I posted a couple of weeks ago about the Zig Ziglar Goal Planner that we published, and it really is my secret weapon. I mean, it saved me from bankruptcy. There were seven or eight years in a row where I was within two weeks of running out of money. That’s a really long time. 900 rejection letters from publishers everywhere. Window-shopping in restaurants cause there wasn’t money to buy a plate of spaghetti. And the Goal Planner saved the day.

We’ve update it; we’ve modernized it, but I don’t care which version you use: there’s something extraordinarily powerful. I have never met anyone who has seriously written down their goals, and done it properly, who is stuck or is considered a failure. Not one person.

Excellent. That’s great. Just before you go, I wanted to ask if you could share with us one piece of advice that you’d give to other bloggers who want to increase their creative productivity to a level that they can use to generate a full-time income.

Oh, I don’t think you should do that.

Excellent! And why not?

Because then you just, you’re doing it to generate a full-time income, aren’t you? And this is amateur media; this is not professional media. And every once in a while an amateur gets so good that people come to them and beg them to take money. But if an amateur sets out to be a professional, she starts making short cuts and she starts trading in relationships for cash. And I don’t know how to tell people to do that.

So obviously for you the relationships are where it’s at, not the cash.

Yeah, because if you do care about cash, sooner or later enough people who admire your work and trust you, it’ll turn into cash. But in the long run, we never ever keep track of how much cash someone has. We always keep track of what their reputation is.

Very true. Well, that’s an excellent note to finish our interview on. Thank you very much for your time, Seth.

Thank you Georgina, it was a pleasure.

Interview with Jeremy Vohwinkle – ProBlogger.com Small Victories Series

Jeremy Vohwinkle - Gen X FinanceToday we have another ‘Small Victories’ interview with blogger Jeremy Vohwinkle of Gen X Finance.

These small victories interviews are with members of ProBlogger.com and are all about highlighting some of the small wins that real bloggers have – our hope is that they’ll inspire other bloggers at similar stages to not only celebrate the ‘big wins’ and those that have already gone pro – but to focus upon the smaller things that take us forward as bloggers.

This video only goes for just over 9 minutes so sit back and enjoy.

Transcription of Interview with Jeremy Vohwinkle

For those of you who prefer to read than listen – here’s a transcription of the video by The Transcription People.

Lara: Hi ProBlogger readers, this is Lara Kulpa again, the Community Manager from ProBlogger.com and I have with me today Jeremy Vohwinkle from Gen X Finance. How are you Jeremy?

Jeremy: Hi, I’m great thanks.

How Jeremy Got Started

Lara: Wonderful. So, tell us a little about your blog and your background and why you started.

Jeremy: Okay, sure. I’ve been working in finance for a number of years and, through my course of, you know, helping people with their finances, I would spend a lot of time researching different financial topics and what happened is I noticed a lot of times I would stumble on sites that weren’t necessarily big media sites or official finance sites and I kind of wondered, “Who are these people and why are they writing about finance?”

So I did a little research and I noticed that most of these people were running what I guess people called blogs at the time; this was back in 2006, and I was clueless. I had no idea what a blog was. If you asked me, I would have said it’s what some teenager writes when they get home from school or something. So, I had no idea this was the same sort of thing.

So, I researched Word Press and just kind of how the whole process goes and I figured “Okay, I’m pretty good with computers. I bet I can set this up myself.” So, I had sat around thinking about what I want to write about and obviously finance was at the top of my list because that’s what I do for a living and I pretty much am borderline Generation X myself and I worked with pretty much the same people in that demographic, so it just came to me “Let’s do Generation X Finance”. Not very inspiring, but that’s how I came about it. And, to be honest, it was just a part time thing after work. I just wanted to kind of hone my skills in, in terms of what’s going on in the world of finance because things are always changing; the laws and the stockmarket and
things like that, so it really was a way for me to just stay up on what’s going on in current events.

That being said, you know, I just, I really got kind of sucked into it and the more I read other blogs, the more I was excited to write about my own and it just kind of fed off itself.

Lara: Yep, that happens.

Jeremy: Yep. So, I mean that’s kind of where I got started and I went from being completely clueless to now this is my full time job and I make a living writing about finance. So, it’s been a pretty amazing journey.

Jeremy’s Small Victory #1

Lara: That’s fantastic. So, what was the small victory you shared with us in the ProBlogger community?

Jeremy: Well, there is a couple of them. One of them actually stemmed from ProBlogger itself. When I first got started – this was probably 2007 I think, so I was only a few months into my blogging career I guess you could say. He, you know, Darren hosted a group writing project and I didn’t know what this was but I thought ProBlogger’s a big site so if I can somehow maybe get a link or something on the site, that would do wonders for my blog.

So I sat down and I kind of, you know, I hammered out a post in maybe an hour. I just, I submitted it and, you know, that was it. I didn’t expect a whole lot from it but I wanted to take part in, you know, what other people were doing.

What happened after that was kind of amazing because it, over the coming months, I received a lot of other sites linking back to my site. So that, the fact that I was mentioned on ProBlogger really evolved into getting dozens if not hundreds of links to this one post and, as I watched my stats, I realised that now this post was my most popular post on my entire site. And it was with this a light bulb kind of went off and said “Okay, if I can write one post that gets so much interest and in turn has started making me money, I bet I can take this blog to the next level.” I was doing it just as a hobby at the time but this was a real turning point where I decided that I have to look deeper into blogging and what I can do to actually get more popular, get more links and maybe turn that into some money. So, that was probably my biggest small victory.

Jeremy’s Small Victory #2

Jeremy: But the other one, which didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, was meeting, kind of not meeting, but interacting with other bloggers in the personal finance kind of blog space. There were a number of us that kind of got started right around the same time, we all had similar subscriber bases, we had similar traffic levels and we kind of just informally reached out to each via email and, I don’t know if it was 2007, 2008, but someone came around and said “You know, maybe we should form sort of a blog alliance or maybe we should kind of unofficially form a blog group or something like that.” And we kind of said “Okay, let’s do that.” And, being as original as we are, we called ourselves ‘The Money Writers’, which again not too exciting but we write about money, so it just made sense.

We set up a site ‘themoneywriters.com’, we just kind of pooled all our feeds together into one handy location and we set up an email group so that we could just communicate easily back and forth with each other. And, essentially, early on it was just kind of a virtual water-cooler. You know, we would talk about what people are talking about on finance blogs, what, what’s going on in terms of advertising, we’d bounce ideas off each other in terms of you know “How are you making money on your site?” and “What are you writing about that’s successful?” and things like that.

But eventually it kind of evolved into a more official group where we were pitching advertising to, you know, the whole group. So someone might come to us saying “I want to place an ad on your site” and we’d say “Well, you get a discount if you place ads on all of our sites.”

Lara: Wonderful.

Jeremy: So, this kind of collaboration allowed us to, all of us take part in advertising that we may not have had an opportunity to in the past. So that was a big stepping stone in terms of starting to propel our blogs into the pro-blog status.

Lara: Right.

Jeremy: But I think more important than that was simply having a group of trusted bloggers that you can, you know, talk about things with because, when you blog on your own, it’s kind of a solo job for the most part. You’re writing, you’re just trying to get links, you’re trying to do some social media stuff but you don’t really have a close connection with a lot of people, so having this kind of network where you can confide in people and you can kind of vent or, if you’re, got writer’s block, you can kind of get ideas from people. That was a huge, a huge benefit and to this day, if I didn’t you know kind of become part of this group, I don’t know if I would’ve had the energy to keep up with this for the past four years. I don’t know if my site would be making as much money as it is now. So the simple act of, you know, joining a small group of other bloggers has done wonders for the long run.

Lara: That’s wonderful. I know Darren has talked about blogger alliances before in the past.

Jeremy: Yep.

Lara: And it’s always been a really great idea to find people that are in the same niche as you and working together is clearly, it definitely gives you some level of victory together.

Jeremy: Oh yeah, for sure.

Lara: That’s great. So, last but not least, do you have any words about the ProBlogger community that you’d like to share with the readers of Problogger.net?

Jeremy: Yeah, certainly. Probably to kind of feed off of what I just talked about, which was forming that kind of blogger alliance. If you don’t have that personal alliance, I think the ProBlogger community is the, probably the next best thing because you have a group of people that all basically are sharing the same sort of goals. These bloggers wouldn’t have signed up if they’re not serious about taking their blog to the next level and if they’re not serious about making more money or propelling their blog to a new status. So, if that’s kind of what you’re looking to accomplish, you might as well sign up because you’re going to have people that you can bounce ideas off of, you can get people to, you know, share links, you can expand your reach by joining other social networks. It’s just, it’s a great way to kind of meet other people and really get the support that you need as an individual because, you know, it is hard work, there’s a lot of competition and every little bit of help you can get is going to make all the difference in the world.

Lara: Awesome. So I will cut this off here and thank you so much, Jeremy, for doing the interview with us. We’ll see you in the forums.

Exclusive Interview with Jeff Walker on Launching Products off Your Blog (Audio and Transcript)

One of the online entrepreneurs that I’ve been wanting to interview here on ProBlogger for over a year now is Jeff Walker. Many of you will know Jeff and his Product Launch Formula training. I’ve mentioned it as a resource many times as being something that has helped me double my income in the last 18 months as I’ve explored developing and launching my own products.

[Read more...]

Interview with Carleen Coulter – ProBlogger.com Small Victories Series

_wp-content_uploads_2008_09_n728640378_1497.jpgToday we have another ‘Small Victories’ interviwe with blogger Carleen Coulter, of Beauty and Fashion Tech.

These small victories interviews are with members of ProBlogger.com and are all about highlighting some of the small wins that real bloggers have – our hope is that they’ll inspire other bloggers at similar stages to not only celebrate the ‘big wins’ and those that have already gone pro – but to focus upon the smaller things that take us forward as bloggers.

Transcription of Interview with Carleen Coulter

For those of you who prefer to read than listen – here’s a transcription of the video by The Transcription People.

Lara: Hi everybody, this is Lara Kulpa from ProBlogger.com and as part of our new series on small victories I have with me today Carleen Coulter. Hi Carleen.

Carleen: Hi. How are you?

Lara: I’m wonderful. How are you?

Carleen: I am doing very well.

Lara: Good. So how about you give our listeners a little bit of a background?

Carleen: Okay. My name is Carleen Coulter. I’m the author of multiple blogs but my primary one is beautyandfashiontech, the words beauty and fashion followed by T-E-C-H .com.

Lara: Okay.

Carleen: I also have a blog, girl gloss and run some affiliate sites and I also run a little non profit blog for my dog.

Lara: Oh.

Carleen: Yeah, he doesn’t try to make any money.

Lara: So …

Carleen: Oh, go ahead.

Lara: No, no, no, you go, go ahead.

Carleen: I basically started blogging, I’d say it was about three and a half, four years ago now. Kind of did it on a whim. I just one day started reading some other blogs and said, hey, I’d kind of like to try that and started doing it. I’m actually an attorney by profession.

Lara: Oh, wow, nice. Very nice.

Carleen: So it’s … yeah, you know, it makes for a nice combination. I kind of like writing about things that aren’t legal topics from time to time.

Lara: I can’t blame you there.

Carleen: Yeah. The legal stuff gets kind of dry.

Lara: Yeah. So when you put your … put in your application to be featured in the series, what was the small victory that you were talking about?

Carleen: Well actually I had kind of a small victory and then more of a medium victory. The small victory was when I first started doing this, my, my now husband, he was then my boyfriend, was really kind of teasing me about it. He, you know, he would go, “So you’re writing about makeup, you think you’re going to make some money from this.” Because I told him, well, you know, I’d kind of like to make a little money, extra money on the side.

Lara: Right.

Carleen: And, you know, he said, “You’re never going to make money on that. You’re falling for some make money online thing.” And I said, “Well, you know, I’ll try and see what happens.” So after maybe, I don’t know, a month or two, you know, I start showing him, “Oh, here, look. I’m at least making, you know, a buck a day on AdSense.” He’s like, “That’s not money. That doesn’t count.” And so I think I was about three months in and two things happened. First, I got my first AdSense cheque. So I actually, you know, made enough to get to that hundred dollar mark.

Lara: Absolutely.

Carleen: And then I also sold a $1500 ad contract for a six month ad contract.

Lara: Wow.

Carleen: And so he comes home and, you know, I proudly show him this $1500 and that pretty much shut him up after that. And he simply said, “Yeah, you can do more of this.”

Lara: Yeah, sure, absolutely. That’s awesome.

Carleen: Yeah. So that was … that was the small victory. The medium victory was really from there it kept growing and … when I first … I was … I’m originally from Nebraska and I moved out to Illinois to be with my husband and I took a cut in pay. I lost a part-time teaching job that was extra income from that and the cost of living out here is kind of ridiculous.

Lara: Yeah.

Carleen: So, yeah, I moved out here, I really kind of needed extra money and was looking to replace my teaching income and what happened was by about the one year mark I had done that. So that’s kind of my medium victory is that, you know, things grew. I replaced all that lost income, actually increased it quite a bit and in the end last year my husband was laid off of his job and that actually probably saved us. I mean …

Lara: Wow.

Carleen: My income at that point covered the mortgage and we got by okay. And, fortunately, he’s re-employed now.

Lara: Right. That’s fantastic. You know, a lot of people talk about how they think that everybody is trying to get into the blogging thing and the making money online thing because of the way the economy is of course in the United States and things are getting rough around here and we’ve been battling this whole thing for a couple of years now and it’s really nice to hear that within such a relatively short period of time, if you look at the grand scheme of things, I mean, a year, but that’s not asking a lot, to be able to put in the effort for a year’s time. And …

Carleen: Yeah, you know, yeah, I think it … the key is putting in the effort.

Lara: Right.

Carleen: I mean, it’s definitely work.

Lara: Oh, yeah, absolutely. It’s … there’s nothing … Darren recently had a post about how unsexy it is and …

Carleen: Yeah, that’s a good way to put it.

Lara: Yeah. You know, there’s nothing … there’s nothing out there saying that this is one of those like set it and forget it kind of Ronco rotisserie things, you have to really put in the effort, and that’s fantastic. So let me ask you this, being a member of ProBlogger.com and coming to the site and everything, what are some things that you think have helped you along the way?

Carleen: Well, first off, I have to say that ProBlogger, ProBlogger.net, the actual blog, was instrumental from the get go for me. When I first started blogging and started realising, oh, I could actually make some money from this, I think I read every single thing on there. I mean, yeah, I mean, Darren was like … he was a God to me. I was like, “Wow, this is just amazing. It’s a great site.”

Lara: Yep.

Carleen: So when ProBlogger.com the forum and everything started, I immediately wanted to be part of that. And I think it’s a very useful place, especially … I think it’s particularly probably good for new bloggers and then there’s some established bloggers in there who are quite active.

Lara: Yep.

Carleen: So it’s a nice mix of people. You get new people in there with fresh ideas and questions. I mean, I’ve learnt from people’s questions.

Lara: Yeah.

Carleen: You know, people ask questions that I never thought of and I thought, okay, that’s interesting. And then I also learnt from the answers.

Lara: Right.

Carleen: And then, like I said, there’s experienced people in there too who bring their own wealth of knowledge.

Lara: Right, right. One of the things that I hear a lot from people, now that we’ve been sending out the weekly newsletters and kind of pointing people in certain directions each week, one of the responses I keep getting is that people are feeling almost like wallflower-ish. You know, they go in there and they’re kind of like, you know, “There’s so many people with such great information I feel like I have nothing to add,” you know. To which my answer is always, “Well, you know, your learning process can be somebody else’s learning process as well,” which kind of goes along with what you just said.

Carleen: Yeah, absolutely. You know, I mean, I can’t, I can’t say how many times I’ve seen somebody either in, in the ProBlogger forum or another forum ask a question where I just … it might be a very basic question and it’s something I’ve never thought of before.

Lara: Right.

Carleen: And I get something out of that and I say, hey, I really learned something from that. Also you can’t … you can’t discount the, just the social interactions and getting to know people.

Lara: Right.

Carleen: I’m always one that’s always loved forums because I’m just pretty social and, you know, if you’re kind of a wallflower you really can, you know, get to know people just by going in forums, asking a few questions, throwing in your thoughts and, you know, don’t worry about being new or maybe not having been blogging that long or anything. You know, I think everybody has something valid to add.

Lara: Fantastic. Well, Carleen, thank you so much for talking to us today. And go ahead and tell everybody what your URL is again.

Carleen: The primary site is beautyandfashiontech.com. The first part is easy, beauty and fashion T-E-C-H .com.

Lara: Okay, great. Well thanks so much and we’ll see you in the forums.

Carleen: Yeah, thank you for having me.

Lara: Absolutely. Bye bye.

Carleen: Bye.

Interview with Blogger Chris Monty: ProBlogger.com Small Victories Series

201006041127.jpgThere’s a really great thread going on over at the ProBlogger Community right now where we’re asking members to share their “small victories” in blogging. The reason is so that we can find candidates for podcast interviews and feature them over here at the blog.

With currently dozens of stories there, all of which are really great, we’ve got so many interviews to do! The idea behind this was to not only feature our Community members on the blog, but also to serve as inspiration to others who may think that even these “small victories” can’t or wouldn’t happen to them.

First, we’ll start with Chris Monty (pictured above), owner of Blippitt.

Transcription of Interview with Chris

For those of you who prefer to read than listen – here’s a transcription of the video by The Transcription People.

Lara: Hi ProBlogger readers. This is Lara Kulpa the community manager for ProBlogger.com and I have with me Chris Monty from Blippitt and we’re going to use Chris as our guinea pig for our new feature at ProBlogger.com where we feature our members over at ProBlogger.net with a story about their little small victories. So, Chris, hi.

Chris: Lara, how are you?

Lara: Good. How are you?

Chris: I’m good thanks. I’m excited.

Lara: Good. Good, good. So tell us a little bit about you, like what your background is and how you got started blogging and making money online?

Chris: Sure. Well I was in the mortgage industry which was a wonderful career choice up until around 2007 and the market started to fall and I had kids, a couple of little kids, and was on 100% commission and, you know, I just started thinking to myself, why am I putting myself through all this when, you know, I know … I’d just started to read ProBlogger and I’d gotten to know a few friends online who were blogging and making a little bit of money and I just kind of … when I first started I really didn’t even do it to start making money, I just, you know, I heard about blogging, I’d never tried it, so I setup a free blog over on Blogspot by Google just to have a little fun. And I, you know, I started one about being a dad and I started another one about, you know, one of my guilty pleasures is watching pro wrestling on the weekend. So I started another one where I was …

Lara: Nice.

Chris: … just kind of talking about pro wrestling stories and that kind of thing. And it was really just for fun until one day I guess I hit on a hot story and, you know, I saw that I was getting several hundred hits on my blogger blog and I thought, uhuh, so this must be how this happens. So I decided to actually do some research into and, you know, figure out how to properly setup a blog and spent a long time researching search engine optimisation and social media and …

Lara: Yeah.

Chris: … just sort of took it from there.

Lara: Cool. So what is the blog that you’re … that’s getting the most of your attention right now?

Chris: That’s definitely blippitt.com and, you know, I’m not so sure now that it was such a great domain name choice because every time someone emails me about it, they misspell it, you know.

Lara: I was going to say, can you spell that for everybody?

Chris: Yep, it’s B-L-I-P-P-I-T-T .com. So two Ps and two Ts in blippitt.com.

Lara: Gotcha. Gotcha. We’ll put that in the post too just to make sure.

Chris: Great.

Lara: Now how old is that, two years?

Chris: Well there’s a little bit of a story behind it. I’d been, you know, participating in some make money online forums and that kind of thing and, you know, it started out really as … it started out as one of the many make money online blogs out there. It started out as Montysmegamarketing.com and, you know, I had a pretty good following but I realised that the make money niche is not really where I wanted to be. So I launched Montysmegamarketing.com in July of 2008 and then, you know, after I lost my job in mortgage in February of 09 I rebranded it, I changed the domain name, you know, I moved everything over on the server to Blippitt …

Lara: Yep.

Chris: … .com and turned it into more of a mainstream pop culture, entertainment news, sort of a blog. So it’s, you know, I think of it as kind of like a buzz feed meets the inquisitor meets boing boing, you know.

Lara: Right.

Chris: You know, it kind of goes, what’s hot on the Internet and have a few laughs and we do viral videos and you’re fail of the day and things … mix in a few daily deals and that sort of thing.

Lara: Nice. Very cool.

Chris: So it’s, it’s been really going well. I mean, it cracked the Alexa top 100,000 within six months and then hit the Alexa top 50,000 just three months after that. So it’s fortunately just been doing nothing but … the traffic has been doing nothing but going up.

Lara: That’s fantastic. Fantastic.

Chris: Yeah.

Lara: So what was your small victory? When we put the call out inside ProBlogger.com for our members and said that we were going to do this, you were very excited to put your post in there and you said that it was your new favourite thread and I had to agree with you because I think it’s so cool to hear all these stories. So …

Chris: I think so too. I mean, there’s a lot of people that read ProBlogger that are doing a lot of good things and it’s, you know, it’s nice to hear what everybody’s success story is and …

Lara: Yeah.

Chris: You know, certainly my … one of mine was hitting the … hitting the Alexa top 50,000.

Lara: Absolutely.

Chris: Another was finally making it to the first page of Digg which actually just happened about two months ago. It was a …

Lara: Nice.

Chris: … post we did on, you know … of course it was a list put on which was something like 24, you know, contextual advertising fails. And it was actually … it was a pretty funny post.

Lara: Cool.

Chris: You know, I can see why it sort of took off and went viral.

Lara: Definitely.

Chris: But, you know, I’ve never seen traffic like that. In fact that was the main catalyst to make me go out and, you know, instead of being on a reseller server now I went out and just purchased a dedicated server through … through HostGator and …

Lara: Yep.

Chris: … we’re cooking along.

Lara: Cool. Now, I have to ask you this question because I know the answer and I want you to share it with everybody else. How has the ProBlogger community helped you with this whole thing?

Chris: The ProBlogger forums have been invaluable just from everything from how to market my blog better to the technical aspects of it. And just the other day … I use a plug in called WEBO Site SpeedUp to … I run the blog on WordPress which is just a fantastic system as far as …

Lara: Yep.

Chris: … search engine optimisation goes. But as far as hogging your CPU resources on your server it’s …

Lara: Yep.

Chris: … it’s a nightmare.

Lara: Yeah.

Chris: So, you know, this plug in got updated and my site basically crashed and I kind of posted this urgent, you know, thread in the ProBlogger forums, “Help. My (6:23) is down. I can’t get it back on,” you know. I know some WordPress but I don’t know PHP anymore than I know rocket science. So …

Lara: Right.

Chris: … you know, a couple of guys jumped in there and got me back up and running in no time …

Lara: Nice.

Chris: And it’s also been nice to just, you know, ask people, “Hey, take a look. What do you think of these monetisation methods?” You know, “I’ve got these ads running on the right, I’ve got these ads on the top and I’m using these advertising networks, you know, are there any others I should know of?” You know, “How can I go about negotiating a higher per CPM rate from some of these folks?” And, you know, the feedback that you get in there is great. Now, that being said, you can’t just come in and ask questions all the time and wait for people to answer them, you have to give as well as get.

Lara: Right.

Chris: So I sort of jump in and share my expertise whenever I can with …

Lara: And you do.

Chris: I use the term expertise loosely. I’ve been doing this for two or three years now but, you know, I feel like I’ve gotten to know things about WordPress and things about SEO that a lot of people would benefit from, so.

Lara: Absolutely. Absolutely. You’ve been a big help in there. And the thing to remember is that, you know, just as much as there are people who are in there that have been at this for six or seven or eight years, there are people in there who have been in it for six or seven or eight weeks and you’re kind of like in that, that middle ground now where …

Chris: Right, right.

Lara: … you know, there’s an equal balance and it’s really nice.

Chris: I’ve made some good friends in there too. It’s nice to, you know, we’ve got a few people that, you know, we private message each other, “Hey, I just put up a new post about this and I could use some traffic to it. Would you mind blogging about it?” You know, they’ll do the same to me, like, “Hey, we just put up this post about XYZ, you know. Can we … can you send us a few visitors or maybe mention it on your blog?” And, you know, networking online is not a whole lot different than networking online[sic]. It’s really …

Lara: Right.

Chris: It’s who you know.

Lara: Right. Very cool. So anything else you want to tell us about Blippitt?

Chris: You know, we’re just … we’re growing. It’s going really well. We just launched an iPhone app that’s … it’s available for free in the iPhone store.

Lara: Cool.

Chris: We’ve got our Facebook page up now and we’re on Twitter. We not too long ago were mentioned in a blog post by MTV.com so that was kind of a rush.

Lara: Oh, wow.

Chris: It’s nice. I looked in the stats one day and I started seeing all these hits coming from MTV.com and they picked up on a post we wrote, a Lady Gaga post that we had written and, you know, it’s great. I do plan on eventually … in fact I’ve already started it. I’m just kind of writing an eBook about exactly what steps I took to, you know, build links to Blippitt the way I did and how I’ve gotten the traffic and how I’ve … you know, I’m basically … I told myself if I can get it to the point where we’re making a good three to four thousand dollars a month then I would consider that a full-time income and …

Lara: Absolutely.

Chris: … we’re finally now … we’re finally now there. I mean I still, you know, I still have a day job but it’s for the benefits and it’s because I want to …

Lara: Right.

Chris: … and not because I need to. So it’s really cool just to be able to show my wife, you know, hey, all that picking on me you did because I was spending so many hours online is now paying off.

Lara: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Chris: Once the cheques started rolling in, her attitude changed a little bit.

Lara: Yes, they do. They do. It’s all about the green.

Chris: Yep, that’s right, yes.

Lara: Show me the facts, honey.

Chris: They’re really supportive of the whole process and it helps to have that support system behind you, definitely.

Lara: Yeah, that’s great. Fantastic. Well thank you so much, Chris.

Chris: Sure.

Lara: And we will be happy to watch Blippitt continue to grow and be really cool.

Chris: Yeah, that would be great. I mean, the one thing I can tell folks listening is to, you know, just never give up and never get discouraged. There were definitely times, you know, six or seven months into it and then a year into and a year and a half into it when I thought, you know, I’m really … I’m missing out on this family time and I’m just wasting time and it’s never going to happen, it’s never going to take off. But I’ve got this sign on my bed … on my bathroom mirror that is a quote from Winston Churchill and it just says, “Never give up. Never.”

Lara: That’s awesome.

Chris: And just when you finally commit yourself to doing it and not giving up, you know, that’s when things finally seem to take off. So you’ve just got to stick it out and be dedicated to it.

Lara: I love it. I love it. Thanks so much, Chris.

Chris: All right. Thanks, Lara.

Lara: All right. Great talking to you.

Chris: See you in the forums.

Lara: Okay. See you there.

Chris: All right.

Lara: Bye bye.

Chris: Bye.

So there we have it, our first ProBlogger Community Small Victory Interview! Many more to come, and if you’re interested in having your “small victory” story posted like these, join the ProBlogger Community and share your story!

Interview with Full Time Blogger – Holly Becker from decor8

holly-becker.jpgLate last week I spent a fascinating hour with Holly Becker from decor8 – an amazing interior design blog that is read by over 35,000 readers a day.

Today I’d like to share that interview with you as an example of a blogger who has made a living from blogging by building a niche focused blog.

decor8 has opened up many doors of opportunity for Holly. She makes a full time living from the blog (and also employs a regular columnist as well as her husband to run the back end) and it has led to other exciting possibilities including a book deal.

In this podcast interview Holly:

  • shares the story behind starting decor8
  • gives insight into how she keeps coming up with fresh content ideas
  • shares what type of posts work best at drawing in readers to comment
  • talks about her decision to bring on a regular columnist
  • reflects on dealing with negative comments
  • answers the question of ‘what is a conversion’ for you when a reader hits your blog
  • share how she’s built her readership
  • reveals how she makes a full time living from her blog
  • talks about her other ventures, including her ‘blogging your way’ e-course and up coming book

I love hearing stories like the one Holly shares because it’s yet another example of a blogger who makes a good living her blog (and it’s not a blog about making money on the internet!). I also loved chatting with Holly because she’s all about enhancing the lives of those who read her blog by producing a high quality and inspiring blog.

decor8.png

The interview is just on 51 minutes long so grab a cup of coffee and sit back to enjoy Holly’s insights on blogging!

here’s the podcast:

While you’re listening check out her blog and enjoy!

PS: you can grab the mp3 of this interview for later here – Interview with Holly

Feeling “Blogged Out?” [10 Pro Bloggers Share Their Advice on What to Do]

A Guest post by Heather Allard from The Mogul Mom.

If you’re a regular ProBlogger reader, you know that Darren dishes up heaps of incredible blogging advice 7 days a week, 365 days a year. His archives positively overflow with information on how to build a blog from the ground up, how to engage readers, how to earn a living from your blog, how to search engine optimize your blog, how to market your blog through social media and so much more.

If you’re a beginner blogger, there’s no better place to learn than at ProBlogger.

I know because when I started blogging in 2007, ProBlogger was like a launch pad for me.

I blasted into the blogosphere, writing posts in rapid fire succession as new idea after new idea spilled out of my bloggy brain faster than I could jot them down in trusty notebooks scattered around my house and car.

I churned out short posts, long posts, reviews, interviews, vlogs, linkies and more list posts than you could shake your cursor at. I SEO’d the daylights out of my blog, carved out a nice niche for myself and built up a pretty sweet subscriber base. I came, I blogged, I monetized. Oh yeah.

And then, after 3 solid years of blogging, I suddenly found myself with nothing left to say. No, not just blogger’s block. I’m talking not a damn thing to blog about. Zero, zip, nada. Last stop on the blogosphere for this lady.

350 posts, 1200 subscribers and 2000 comments later, I was officially all blogged out.

So I spent a week curled up in the fetal position deciding whether it’s better to burn out or fade away from the blogosphere, and then it hit me.

Surely I couldn’t be the first – or the only – blogger to feel this way!

So I did what any blogger worth her Alexa rank would do – I decided to BLOG about being all blogged out.

Newly invigorated, I set out in search of other solo bloggers who’d felt this same way to ask them what they did about it.

What I found was 10 top bloggers with very different takes – and advice – on being all blogged out.

Laura Roeder @lkr

Blogging Since:

Well I’ve been creating and sharing content online in various formats since about 1996. But I’ve never really considered myself a “blogger”or had one mega-popular blog. My current blog for my business has been running for about a year and a half.

Have you ever felt all blogged out?

Yes, definitely! I don’t blog that frequently so I usually don’t try to force it. I sometimes only update my blog once a month, it just depends on what I have going on and what I’m inspired to create. 99% of my blog is in video format, it is really difficult for me to write a beginning-middle-end article, it’s just not how my thoughts come I guess. But I could talk forever so video is the perfect format for me!

What did you do about it?

I plan out an editorial calendar at least 6 months in advance. This is the key part – you can’t just plan but you have to force yourself to stick to the weekly topic. I think too many bloggers wake up in the morning and try to think of a great topic that day – planning out a calendar in advance is a great solution. And then you have time to filter your ideas to make sure they’re all good instead of scraping the bottom of the barrel, desperate to come up with ANYTHING to write about!

Chris Guillebeau @chrisguillebeau

Blogging Since:

2008 — although I had been writing in other formats for a couple of years prior.

Have you ever felt all blogged out?

Thankfully — no.

How have you avoided it?

I’ve avoided it by trying to be somewhat intentional about the process.

First, I don’t limit myself in writing about one specific, niche topic. I write about a number of topics (travel, entrepreneurship, motivation) for a number of venues (my own blog, other blogs, a newspaper column, magazines, books, etc.). The variety is very helpful, because even though I’m writing a lot, the deliverables are not always the same.

And second, writing is my job. It’s just what I do. If a plumber gets bored, she still shows up every day and goes to work. Why should it be different for creatives? Steven Pressfield wrote about this in the wonderful little book The War of Art, which I re-read regularly and would recommend to anyone feeling “blogged out.”

Chris Brogan @chrisbrogan

Blogging Since:

I started in 1998 back when it was called journaling. I’ve used several different sites before settling on my own domain, and my blog technologies used to be WYSIWYG website design tools, so those ones are lost to all but the Wayback machine.

Have you ever felt all blogged out?

Never. I have more blog posts than I have time to post them. I write two or three at a time, so that I have a few in my rainy day pile (though at the time of writing this, I ran out, so will have to blog a few things on the next two airplanes). I never feel all blogged out. We have TONS to cover, and lots of ways of looking at things.

How have you avoided it?

Blogging/writing is about practice. The more you do it, the easier it comes. It’s like exercise. You can’t join a gym and bench press 300 pounds the next day. It takes a while to work your muscles up into the shape you need to perform. Same with writing.

I keep my eyes open. I read. I spend lots of time on other people’s blogs. I cultivate relationships, where sometimes the question someone poses makes for a great blog topic. There are tons of ways to find blog topics. One trick to doing something about it is to maintain a list of blog topics to write about for rainy days. I’ve given people over 300 over the last few years.

Danielle LaPorte @daniellelaporte

Blogging Since:

2008

Have you ever felt all blogged out?

No, never, absolutely not, the very thought makes me gasp in horror. For real.

How have you avoided it?

Everything is content. Believing that it’s all around you will help you find it. The conversation that you had with your girlfriend about Haiti, or the absurdity of phone books being delivered, or why your barista gives you the best customer service. Notice what you notice and trust that you can create some value out of it.

Tell a story. My speaking coach, Gail Larsen told me something that changed how I approach both speaking gigs and writing: Creating good content is not about looking for stories that will support your message, it’s about letting the stories find you. The stories that you remember so vividly, that you recall with the most affection or emotional charge – they’re in your psyche for good reason. You’ve held on to them because they resonate with your truth, your message – and that’s where the creative sweet spot is. Find the message in the stories you’re inspired to tell.

Get interviewed. Ask a friend to ask you some questions. Keep it casual or turn on a video camera while you’re at. You will be amazed at how damn profound, informed, and creative you can be when you get to riff to someone who already thinks you’re great.

James Chartrand @MenwithPens

Blogging Since:

I began blogging in early 2007 for my own business blog at Men with Pens, and I also began guest blogging at various other sites around the blogosphere at the same time. This spring, it’ll be three years that I’ve been a full-time blogger.

Have you ever felt all blogged out?

Oh, absolutely. Since my focus has always been on freelance writing, and that’s what I’ve tried to blog about the most, there comes a point where you tell yourself that you’ve said all you could, that you can’t think of anything else to say. That feeling never lasts very long for me – I have a pretty active mind that seizes on new ideas and spins easily – but sure, I think every blogger goes through a period of feeling there’s nothing left to write about.

I feel that many people, when they hit this point, fall back on repeating the same messages or content, only in different words. It’s a way to break through the problem, but I didn’t want to go that route. I feel a sense of obligation not to cheap out just to be able to slap up a post – I worked hard to build my blog up, and it means more to me than that. Blogging is more than just a job you have to do; it’s a commitment you make and uphold.

What did you do about it?

To avoid feeling I was running on empty, I looked instead at the related subjects of freelance writing. I realized there’s a lot more to writing than just writing about writing. There’s the business side, the administration, the customer service, the branding, ways to land new jobs, etc. When I realized that I wasn’t limited to what I could write on and still stay within my specialty, a whole world of possible posts opened up. I revisit that vast pool of potential each time I feel tapped out.

Another trick I use when I’m feeling like I just have nothing to write about anymore is to write – about something else. I put the blogging aside and work on some fiction or creative writing, just for fun. Or, I go out for a day and screw off, and I find that taking myself away from feeling like I have to blog brings me new inspiration. As I enjoy my day, I think about how the experiences I have relate to my subject. How are buying a pair of boots and blogging the same, for example? How is grocery shopping and writing similar? What did I like about that sign, and why did it catch my attention?

Sometimes, to be creative, you have to get away from trying to be creative, and ask questions that you wouldn’t normally think of asking.

For tapped out bloggers, my best advice is to take away the pressure by reminding yourself that this isn’t an obligation. In the bigger scheme of life, missing a week of blog posts while you disconnect or cutting your posting frequency from five days a week to once every two weeks won’t really make much difference. It’ll give you some relief from that ‘have to blog’ feeling, remind you of what’s really important in life and let you take care of yourself first.

Johnny B Truant @JohnnyBTruant

Blogging Since:

I really only started seriously in late 2008, writing my old pure humor blog at theeconomyisnthappening.com. I’d been writing “blog-like” stuff for some time before that on and off, but never actually launched a blog until 08.

Have you ever felt all blogged out?

Oh yes. Around 2001, I used to write a humor newsletter that I’d manually e-mail out to my friends and family. (The salvageable newsletters became the earliest posts in the humor archive on my current site.) Although I haven’t hit a wall since starting blogging in earnest in 2008-9, I hit several with those old pseudo-blog writings.

I started that endeavor with a weekly newsletter, and then slipped into monthly. Several times, I’d re-run old posts because I had nothing to write about, and once I wrote a post about having nothing to write about. The reason that pseudo-blogging ended was because I got tired of feeling like I had nothing to say every week — or at least, nothing to say that was funny.

What did you do about it?

I just quit.

Now, I’m not particularly concerned about running out of material and here’s why: Back in the day, I wrote humor and only humor. If it wasn’t funny, it wasn’t fit to run — with one notable exception just after 9/11/01. So not only was I looking for funny things to happen, but I had to work hard to tell folks about them in funny ways. That’s really, really hard to do — especially ongoing.

My blog now is an unashamed hodge-podge. I’ve deliberately kept my blog from having a niche, a genre, or a focus. It’s just about me, my business, what I’ve learned, what I do, and whether or not wild turkeys have found their way into my barn. Sometimes it’s funny, and sometimes it’s dead serious. All I have to do now is write what’s in my life, my head, and my heart — whatever that may be.

Lastly, I’ve only run two guest posts ever on my blog, but I’ve had other offers and may just start accepting some if I do get bogged down. I’ve seen some of my blogging friends do that if they are running low or if they go on vacation. I haven’t done it yet, but it’s nice to know the option is there.

Sarah Bray @SarahJBray

Blogging Since:

Don’t tell anyone, but I actually started several failed blogs before having even a whiff of success. My first one was in 2004. And no, I’m not giving details (curse you, Google archives!).

Have you ever felt all blogged out?

Heck yeah. Every blogger has those moments. We pressure ourselves to crank out amazing post after amazing post, and then we wonder why the wheels stop turning. For me, it was my subject matter — writing posts about the strategic side of web design for such a wide audience. I’ve got fellow designers who want to know how I do it, entrepreneurs who are completely new to the web (or the social web), entrepreneurs who are definitely NOT new to the web, people who are curious about my adamancy for content-driven websites…it’s just a really broad audience.

More challenges:

  • Writing about technology without inducing cricket chirps or loud snoring
  • Writing about things that anyone can do — not just super-technical people (which requires getting out of my super-technical brain and pretending I’m my computer-challenged mother…an interesting and involved process)
  • Writing about new ideas that are not talked to death all over the internet already
    • All of that has the power to turn me into a headlight-mesmerized deer if I think about it too much.

      What did you do about it?

      I put a lot of pressure on myself to only publish stuff that gives me a blood-rushing-to-the-head feeling. It’s what I do instead of punching all of those people in the face who say that bloggers aren’t “real writers”. Or maybe it’s because I like that writerly high you get when you know that you’ve communicated something really effectively.

      So to answer the question, I stick to a posting schedule that will allow me to do this. During some seasons of the work year, I publish three times a week. In this particular season, I publish once a week. I’m a huge believer in sticking to a posting schedule. It’s like your favorite show being on tv at the same time every week…you feel more committed to it when you can expect it. At the same time, I let myself be comfortable with changing my publishing schedule when that makes sense.

      I wouldn’t recommend doing this if your entire job is to write. But for my situation, giving myself permission to change my posting schedule for a season makes more sense than writing crappy stuff, not writing at all out of sheer overwhelm, or not getting my client-related work done. It takes some of the pressure off during busy times, which somehow brings blog topic epiphanies out of the sky. I don’t know how it happens…magic, maybe.

      Dave Navarro @RockYourDay

      Blogging Since:

      I started the RockYourDay.com blog in 2006, but didn’t really start building it seriously until the beginning of 2008, when I went all guns blazing (thanks to some inspiration from @menwithpens). I started The Launch Coach in early 2009 and hit the ground with a running start on that one, since it was making me money right off the bat, and that’s where I put 95% of my blogging time.

      Have you ever felt all blogged out?

      I feel that way all the time – I think it’s a natural part of a writer’s psychology, when we wonder how we can write something good when it’s already been done. We worry that what we write might not be good enough compared to other people or compared to our own successful posts, and it’s draining.

      What did (do) you do about it?

      The way out of that is to remember you’re in this to help people, not achieve God-like status on a post-by-post basis. What I do to break the funk is look through old comments for where people talk about what they’re struggling with and write about that, imagining I’m writing to that one person. That breaks the all-about-me-drama and gets me back on track. (And if I haven’t had comments lately I go to other blogs and look at their comments).

      Audrey McClelland @AudreyMcClellan

      Blogging Since:

      I started blogging in June 2008.

      Have you ever felt all blogged out?

      Definitely. I started my personal blog in June 2008, after I had my 4th son. After blogging about his birth and then about being the mother of 4 boys – I started to feel VERY “all blogged out” in November of 2008. I wanted to blog about things beyond my personal motherhood story. I think I kind of felt like, “What makes my story different or unique?” I kind of felt like nothing did… my blogs started to get very much of the same feel. So I made a conscious decision to change the direction of my blog in January 2009 because I felt it would infuse me with added energy.

      What did you do about it?

      I came out of it by starting my 365 Days of Fashion Advice for Moms. I loved sharing my experiences as a mom, but I wanted to get away from constantly talking about how difficult mealtime was or how I was so tired from not sleeping throughout the night. I wanted to add my love of fashion to the mix. So I started blogging about fashion advice for moms and I brought my own motherhood experiences to it, as the mother of 4 boys.

      The advice I would give a blogger that is all blogged out is bring another dimension into your blog. I had worked in the fashion industry for 6 years previous in New York City and I had a love and a passion for fashion. I did and still do wake up every single morning excited to blog about it. I just needed to take that step to bring another piece of me onto the table and not be scared to do it. Things changed for me professionally when I did make the change and it was all because I was feeling “blogged out.” I didn’t feel like my writing had a direction in 2008 and I wanted it to. Niching my blog became the best thing I ever did.

      Michael Martine@Remarkablogger

      Blogging Since:

      I had been creating and designing websites since 1994 (pretty much as soon as I got online when the Internet became available to anyone via AOL back in the day). I discovered Blogger in 1999 before Google bought them and have been a blogger ever since (though I switched to WordPress as soon as I discovered it).

      Have you ever felt all blogged out?

      Never! My audience is made of up certain segments who all have specific problems. So between that, the basics, and the new stuff that keeps unfolding, there is no end of topics to blog about.

      How have you avoided it?

      There are several reasons why I’m never blogged out. My readers, clients, and customers are mostly business owners. Different businesses have different challenges when it comes to blog marketing, so by focusing on a specific niche (like, say, real estate agents or freelance web designers) and then addressing a specific problem someone in that niche faces, I simply never run out of topics. I don’t always focus on a specific industry, but I’m guaranteed an infinite number of blog post topics if I do.

      This means my posts tend to be longer than the usual 250 – 500 words of a typical blog post. Because of this, it takes me longer to write a post and so I don’t publish as often as many other bloggers. At the least, I publish twice a week. At most, I may publish up to four times a week. But I never publish every day of the week. This makes it easier to come up with ideas and keeps the quality of the writing higher.

      Here are some tips for coming up with post ideas:

      • Think of a specific type of person in your blog audience and a problem they have, then write a post for that person that addresses the problem.
      • The basics never go out of style. Tackle them in your own way or link to posts which cover the basics.
      • Tell a story from your own life that has a lesson to teach your audience.
      • Compile a list of resources your audience will find valuable.
      • Accept guest posts from others in your niche (sometimes you have to ask for them).
      • You can always interview others in your niche.

      To prevent yourself from getting blogged out in the future, try these tips:

      • Be in constant communication with your audience: ask what keeps them up at night, what their problems are, what information they are hungry for.
      • Think of series of posts you can write. A series guarantees post ideas for many days. Note how successful Darren has been with his “31 days” series. You have to think of these in advance and plan them out.
      • As you surf the web, collect links by topic in Evernote or some other note-taking system. Then, when they become numerous enough, you can publish them in a resources post. These can build up over time, so that very little work is involved in creating them.

      Don’t let ideas get away from you when you do have them. There are many ways to capture ideas.

      So, if you’re feeling all blogged out, you’re in good company. And you’re definitely not at the end of the blogging road.

      Laura, Chris G., Chris B., Danielle, James, Johnny, Sarah, Dave, Audrey and Michael gave awesome ideas about what to do when you’re feeling all blogged out. And, I don’t know about you but my head is swimming with new blog ideas. Now…where’s my notebook?

      Well? What about you? Have you ever felt all blogged out? What did you do about it?

      Heather Allard lives in Rhode Island with her husband, three kids, Hope, Grace & Brendan and one big dog, The Dude. Since 2001, she’s started three businesses and sold one of them for six figures. Now she shows mom entrepreneurs how to build a business between diaper changes and play dates – without breaking the bank, or their spirit. Find her on Twitter as @HeathAll.

Rock Hard Thighs and Cold Hard Cash: Robb Sutton Spills His Tawdry Review Site Secrets

guest post by Kelly Diels

When I was wondering how to create an effective, money-making review site, I thought of Robb Sutton.

Robb Sutton’s review site, Mountain Biking by 198 “pulls in thousands in review product every month” and in the last 15 months has received over $100,000 dollars worth of review product. He’s also got several other sites, including a coffee review blog, and oh yes, makes a pretty decent living as a ProBlogger.

That is, when he’s not hanging out with the likes of me and telling me all his secrets.

Kelly Diels: Robb, tell me all the dirty details about review sites.

[looooooooooooong pause. Isn't it a little early in the conversation to have offended him?]

Kelly Diels: Robb?

Robb Sutton: I’m here. Sorry…was just closing up a few things. Now you have my 100% attention.

Kelly Diels: You know a girl likes that.

Robb Sutton: Yes, they do!

Kelly Diels: I mean, so I’ve heard. Tell me, dahlink, how you got started with review sites.

Robb Sutton: Well, it all started with an idea that had nothing to do with reviewing product, ironically.

Kelly Diels: Go on…

Robb Sutton: I had this idea that I was going to have a trail review site for mountain biking that was all user submitted content. About 5 minutes into the process, I realized that you can’t have user submitted content without traffic. So I started a blog where I reviewed parts, bikes and other related products and that took over what was the user submitted part. Basically, I used it as a traffic generator that became the model for Bike198.com.

Kelly Diels: So you’re inadvertently brilliant?

Robb Sutton: I fell into it…I like to think of it as a progression. I had some experience being on the other side of the fence in the corporate world, so I knew how to quickly adapt that to blogs.

Kelly Diels: How did you get your pretty mitts on things to review?

Robb Sutton: Well, back when the industry had no clue who I was, I relied on current contacts and cold contacting through emails and phone calls. Now it is a combination of them finding me and me finding them.

Kelly Diels: Do you work with PR companies, or companies directly?

Robb Sutton: I work with PR companies, directly with manufacturers, distributers and some retailers.

Kelly Diels: And for those of us who just got really scared, what does that process look like?

Robb Sutton: Typically, I send out an email explaining who the site is, what we do and what the process is. I then include examples with some simple search engine and site stats. If it is a smaller company, you pretty much get to the right person right away. A lot of times through that email and you are off and rolling. For larger companies and some smaller ones, a follow up call is required to get in touch with the right person. Phone calls always convert better than emails, but I always start with emails so they know who you are when they pick up the phone.

Kelly Diels: Gawd, it is almost like online dating.

Robb Sutton: Yeah, a little bit!

Kelly Diels: What sorts of strings get attached to the product and reviews?

Robb Sutton: No strings really. Sometimes you have to return the product if it is super expensive. But sometimes you don’t even have to do that. Most companies know what blogging and review blogging entails these days.

Kelly Diels: Which brings us to Disclosure, baby. Tell me how you handle Big Brother, the FTC.

Robb Sutton: I have a blanket disclosure on all of my sites that is linked up in the footer that explains links, products, etc. I am very up front with my readers on the process so there is nothing that is hidden that could be considered bad by the public or FTC. Everything is up front and honest.

Kelly Diels: And if you’re just not into her the product? What do you do?

Robb Sutton: I write the truth! Bottom line is that you are writing for your readers and not the companies. If you are just going to write glorified advertisements then no one is going to take you seriously. Back everything up with facts and everything turns out ok.

Kelly Diels: Sing it, sister.

Robb Sutton: Even companies I have given poor reviews to in the past still send me stuff. They want to reach the audience and you want to deliver the goods. Its a win/win.

Kelly Diels: All press is good press…

Robb Sutton: Actually…that is very true.

Kelly Diels: Seriously. The first time someone trashed me online (Allyn Hane, lover, I’m a-talking to you) I was delighted. But I digress. What kind of traffic are companies and agencies looking for?

Robb Sutton: They are looking for targeted traffic.

Kelly Diels: What does targeted traffic mean?

Robb Sutton: The specific number isn’t really important. 100 targeted eyes are better than 10,000 that aren’t targeted.

Kelly Diels: How do you demonstrate “targeted eyes”? I feel like we just took a sharp right turn into a gun range.

Robb Sutton: Targeted traffic is basically qualified leads. When someone subscribes to your blog, they are targeted because they want to digest that subject matter. And don’t shoot!

Kelly Diels: I can’t. I don’t even know the process for getting a gun permit in Canada but I know it takes forever. Also I’m a lover, not a shooter…Tell me about a review or a product that got you all hot ‘n bothered.

Robb Sutton: Hmmm…

Kelly Diels: I went to a sex toy party on Friday night and, given the subject of my blog, I’m pretty sure that I can review those products and claim them as a tax deduction. But again, I digress.

Robb Sutton: [laughs, possibly uncomfortably] Yes, you probably could…An example of an interesting product/review was when I got in a fork from a manufacturer because of comments I made about how I didn’t like the direction they were heading.

Kelly Diels: Umm… “got in a fork”? Dude. translation, please. I mean, it sounds naughty but even I’m drawing a blank.

Robb Sutton: Suspension fork. It is the thing on the front of the bike that is the suspension.

Kelly Diels: Oh it is a thing. Not a position. That clears everything up. So why was this fork so fabulous?

Robb Sutton: Because it was sent to me after I made the comments. I backed everything up with facts on why I didn’t agree. And they said…ok…try it out for yourself. I thought that was pretty cool.

Kelly Diels: That’s pretty smart marketing, actually. And..? How was the fork?

Robb Sutton: Great product. Still don’t agree with that one aspect.

Kelly Diels: I had no idea forks were so controversial.

Robb Sutton: They are a reputable company that produces a great product but I just didn’t agree with the “new standard” they were introducing.

Kelly Diels: Ok, Mr. Fancy Britches. I get it. YOU HAVE OPINIONS – which, I’m thinking, is probably why your review site works.

Robb Sutton: Doesn’t everyone?!

Kelly Diels: Yes, darling. That was a compliment in disguise. I think that is what reviews are about – good, solid, well-reasoned opinions…So. You get loads of free products, but how do you make money? You can’t eat forks.

Robb Sutton: Affiliate revenue, direct advertising, e-book sales like my Ramped Reviews (aff), pay-per-click…I like to diversify.

Kelly Diels: And what about all the companies kissing your…site? Do they ever buy advertising?

Robb Sutton: They do, and it is a lot easier to sell advertising space to people you already have a working relationship with.

Kelly Diels: And what does that do to the separation of church and state, editorial vs revenue? Do you feel awkward about reviewing your clients?

Robb Sutton: Not at all. Everything is explained up front. No surprises. Keep in mind that nothing is written that is pure emotion or inflammatory. It is all fact-based opinion.

Kelly Diels: That’s right. We all have niches. MINE is pure emotion and inflammatory prose. So stay outta that one, my love…Ok. Going general: do you think review sites of higher ticket items – like bikes, cameras etc – work better than other kinds of review sites, like say restaurants or experiences?

Robb Sutton: I think it is about equal. I also run a coffee review site (coffeeobsessed.net) that does really well and it is very young. I think the possibilities are wide open.

Kelly Diels: Now you’re speaking my language. The language of love/caffeine.

Robb Sutton: Yeah, I’ll leave that one to you! I’m obsessed…I’ll admit it.

Kelly Diels: With coffee? Or mountain bikes?

Robb Sutton: Nothing better than a great cup of coffee, but both. And blogging, of course.

KellyDiels: I ask because I like coffee and mountain bikers. I may have mentioned this before: THIGHS OF GRANITE.

Robb Sutton: Very true! And a strong grip.

Kelly Diels: If you do say so yourself. With whom can I verify this? I have to fact-check, you know.

Robb Sutton: Any cyclist…but especially mountain bikers because we have to ride technical terrain.

Kelly Diels: Well, there you have it. The secrets of review sites, hot coffee, and rock hard…thighs.

Kelly Diels writes for ProBlogger every week. She’s also a wildly hireable freelance writer and the creator of Cleavage, a blog about three things we all want more of: sex, money and meaning.