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DISCUSS: Does Your Blog Focus More Heavily Upon Information, Inspiration or Interaction?

I’d love to get some discussion around this question today.

Does your blog focus more heavily upon Information, Inspiration or Interaction?

A year ago I wrote a post in which I talked about we I use a combination of Information, Inspiration and Interaction focused posts to engage with readers over at my photography blog.

While the blog largely focuses upon ‘information’ posts (tutorials and reviews) I’ve increasingly found that when you season those posts with a little inspiration (story telling, humour, imagery) that readers are more likely to take note of the the more information heavy content that we produce.

As a result we always try to include great images in those posts and even publish semi-regular posts with nothing but great images.

On top of that when we throw in interactional opportunities (discussions, polls, quizzes, challenges) I’ve noticed that we get a lot more repeat readers. It’s like the perfect storm for creating an engaging blog.

Of course the mix of posts we publish at dPS will be different to what other blogs do. As we’re a ‘how to’ site there will naturally be a fairly heavy focus upon informational posts.

I’d say that our mix is 70% Information, 20% Inspiration and 10% Interaction in terms of emphasis.

What about you? What’s your mix of content like? Do you have a focus upon one type of post or are you mixing it up?

DISCUSS: How Often Do You Redesign Your Blog?

Over at Digital Photography School this week we launched a complete overhaul of our site design. It was a massive job that took over 6 months of planning and implementation to pull off – but we finally got there without too many hiccups.

New dps

We’ll post about the process and some of the features we’ve implemented in the coming weeks but I thought it might be an interesting discussion question to ask readers how often they’ve done redesigns on their blogs?

dPS started in over 7 years ago and in that time we’ve had 3 redesigns – so are averaging every 2nd year for a complete overhaul. Of course in between designs there have always been tweaks and evolutions – but because the site is so big now and not only had a blog but forums, many sales pages and numerous social media accounts to update each time we redesign it’s not a quick process to do an overhaul.

How often do you redesign your blog? Is it an annual event or are you doing it less frequency or perhaps constantly evolving it?

DISCUSS: Which Social Network Sends Your Blog the Most Traffic?

At PBEVENT last week I was having lunch with a group of 5 bloggers from quite different niches and for a few minutes the conversation centred around the topic of which social media sites send us the most traffic.

We went around the circle and shared the top sources of social media traffic for our blogs and it was fascinating to hear how for different blogs and niches the answer changed.

I thought it might make an interesting discussion post here on ProBlogger (and might help some of us to work out where to invest more time into social.

Social media traffic

While traffic isn’t the only benefit of engaging on social – I know for many bloggers it’s a big reason to be engaging in social.

So here are my 2 questions for discussion:

  1. what is your blog’s niche/topic?
  2. what social media site/s sends your blog the most traffic?

Let me quickly answer for my two main blogs:

For Digital Photography School

  1. the niche is obviously ‘photography tips’
  2. The top social media source of traffic last month was clearly Facebook with Pinterest coming in at number 2 (but not even close to what Facebook sent).

For ProBlogger

  1. the niche is ‘blogging tips’
  2. The top social media source of traffic last month was again Facebook – but Twitter came in as a closer 2nd.

Aside: I was actually a little surprised by the result for ProBlogger because last time I checked Twitter was the #1 and I do put more effort into building a presence on the ProBlogger Twitter account than on our Facebook Page (we also have a lot more engagement and larger following numbers on Twitter). It looks like I might need to rethink my focus a little!

Have You Ever Had a Blogging Mentor or Coach?

I’m regularly asked if I have a blogging mentor or coach – or if I’d consider being one for someone else.

I’ve never had a formal coach or mentor myself although there have been plenty of people who have given me advice along the way. I have not offered any kind of coaching service for many years  as I found I could be more helpful to more people by writing content here on ProBlogger than working 1 on 1 with people.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not an interesting discussion for us all!

Whistle coaches use

Have you had a Blogging Mentor or Coach?

If so – I’d love it if you could spare a moment or two to answer any or all of the following questions:

  1. How did you find them?
  2. Was it a paid experience or a free one?
  3. Was it an ongoing or short term experience?
  4. Was it to help you with a specific issue or more general in nature?
  5. What were the main benefits of the experience?

Over the years, I’ve come across quite a few bloggers who have had coaches and mentors and their experiences have been mixed.

Some of the best examples I’ve seen have been ‘peer’ mentoring experiences, where a group of bloggers band together – often around an email list or a private Facebook group – to share and learn from one another.

Also, I know of a number of bloggers who have used mentors/coaches to help them with specific problems/challenges and it’s been to great effect. For example, one blogger I know hired a coach to help them walk through creating and launching their first eBook and another who hired someone to help them design an editorial calendar.

I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this one!

What Mistakes Did You Make When You Started Blogging? What Would You Do Differently?

This morning, a new blogger asked me to name 3 mistakes I made when I started blogging so he could avoid the same pitfalls.

I thought this might make a good discussion starter and something that might help new bloggers. So… take a few moments to answer these two questions.

  1. What are the mistakes you made when you started blogging?
  2. What would you have do differently?

Here are my 3 mistakes and what I would do differently:

  • Not getting my own domain - I should have bitten the bullet and secured a domain for my first blog the day I started.

  • Choosing profitable topics rather than topics I was interested in – at one point I had 30 blogs, most of which I thought would be profitable. I couldn’t sustain them. I should have stuck to blogging about things I was interested in and passionate about.
  • Expecting that good original content was enough to attract readers – I should have spent more time OFF my blog, interacting with people where they gathered, rather than having a ‘build it and they will come’ mentality.

So now it’s over to you. If you started your blog today, what would you do differently?

I’m looking forward to hearing your responses!

DISCUSS: How do you Keep your Content Fresh, Interesting and Engaging?

Over on our Facebook page last week Kim Hill-MacCrone asked a question that I thought might be a good one to discuss with the wider ProBlogger readership.

How do you Keep your Content Fresh, Interesting and Engaging?

It is a question I get asked quite a bit and know is a challenge many bloggers face. I also know that bloggers use a wide array of techniques and strategies to combat the problem including:

  • limiting posting frequency to when they actually have something fresh, interesting and/or engaging to say
  • having an editorial calendar that cycles through different types of posts on different days of the week
  • outsourcing some of the writing of content (paid writers or guest posters)
  • regularly polling readers on what topics they want written about on the blog

I’m just scratching the surface here – I’d love to hear your thoughts.

So lets hear some tips and suggestions on the topic – how do you keep your content fresh, interesting and engaging?

84 Must Read ‘How to’ Blog Posts (and 3 Winners Announced)

Last week here on ProBlogger I ran a ‘Group Writing Project‘ where I invited readers to go away and write a ‘How To‘ Post on their blog and then to come back and show us a link to it.

The response was fantastic (we’ll do it again in the weeks ahead) – 84 people wrote and submitted a post (although a few of those didn’t completely follow the instructions and submitted old posts – naughty!) and I’ve heard some great feedback from a number of you who enjoyed the challenge of writing that type of post, found some cool new blogs and also saw some great traffic from participating!

I’d REALLY encourage you to look through the submissions below (I’ve listed them all). There are some cool posts in the list and this project really comes alive when people surf through it and leave comments and make friends.

The Winners Are…

As part of the project I said I’d randomly choose one participant to win the full library of ProBlogger eBooks (worth over $250). We had such a great response that I’ve decided to give 3 prizes away instead.

So the 3 winners that I’ve just randomly selected are:

  1. Pamela – who wrote How to Be a Cat
  2. Caroline – who wrote ‘How to Go from Can’t to Can in 9 Steps: Starting Your Own Business
  3. Sam who wrote How to Have a More Productive and Energetic Morning

Congrats to our winners – I’ll shoot you an email shortly with your prize!

84 How To Blog Posts

Below are all of the submissions we received – it was a bit of a job to compile them all here but I hope you take the time to surf through some of the posts listed as there are some great blog posts in the mix here. Apologies if your post was missed – I hope I got them all but it was quite the task :-)

As you surf the list please consider commenting on the posts you resonate with to encourage the authors and if you find something good – PLEASE share it with your social network or even on your blog.

You Know you’ve Been Blogging too Long When… #BloggingTooLong

I posted this on my Google+ account and on Twitter earlier today:

You know you’ve been blogging too long when a family member asks for parenting advice and you write a 10 Point Answer, start brainstorming catchy titles and considering adding images and further reading.

The responses I got were pretty funny from others who had had similar experiences, so I thought it might be a fun one to open up here on the blog.

What have you found yourself doing that makes you think that perhaps you’ve been blogging a little too long?

Here’s a few more from my own experience:

You Know You’ve been blogging too long when… you have to pause a conversation with a friend to take notes for a blog post idea.

You Know You’ve been blogging too long when… you wake up your wife at 3am to tell her that you worked out a way to double your AdSense income.

You Know You’ve been blogging too long when… you are overheard sleep talking about Brian Clark and Chris Brogan.

Over to you… when did you know you’ve been blogging too long?

How I Overlooked a 1000 Visitor a Day Source of Traffic [And What I Did to Grow it to 3000 Visits a Day]

Last week I was digging around in my Google Analytics stats and drilling down to look particularly at sources of traffic to my photography tips site.

I noticed a new source of readers that has been creeping up in terms of how much traffic it sends. Here’s the chart from the last few months.

new-traffic-source.png

It started as a trickle, but as you can see, in the last month there have been days on which traffic from this source has spiked up to over 2000 unique visitors. Even on an average day we’re up over 1000.

While it’s not the biggest source of traffic to the site by any means, it was a bit of a surprise and made me realize that I’ve not been as diligent in checking referral traffic sources as I once was.

Referrers are key

Before I reveal the source I want to emphasize my point: keep a watch on your referral stats. The source of this traffic doesn’t really relate to many of you who are operating in different niches, but the principle does. Be diligent in watching where traffic is coming from because there are almost always ways of growing traffic from these unexpected sources.

  • If the source is another blog, you can build the relationship with the other blogger.
  • If the source is a social network, you can get more active in that network, consider putting sharing buttons on your site, and educate your current readers about how to use it.
  • If the source is a search engine, you can look at what you’re doing right on that post SEO-wise and try to replicate it. You can also tweak the posts getting the traffic to make them rank even higher.
  • Whatever the source, you can look at the content that’s working out and produce more of it.

There are any number of ways of exponentially increasing growing sources of traffic, but if you don’t know about them, you will never be able to take action!

So what was the source of the traffic?

I know some of you skipped down here without reading the above section. You really should go back and read over it … but I’ll tell you now if you promise you will!

The traffic is coming from Pinterest.

Pinterest is a growing social bookmarking/network site (they call themselves a Virtual Pin Board) that is particularly popular in some niches like home decoration, weddings, craft, fashion, food, and more.

The traffic has literally arrived without me doing anything at all. I didn’t have an active account on Pinterest until the last week or so when I set up an account (connect with me here). I haven’t promoted the site there, or used their buttons (until this last week when I put it on a few of our hotter articles). The growth has been purely organic. I guess photography is one of those niches that Pinterest users are interested in!

Since finding out about Pinterest I’ve begun to participate there a little more myself, and have added a few share buttons to some pages that have been doing well for us. I’m taking my time as I don’t want to do anything spammy, but even since I’ve known about it and participated on this low level, I’ve seen traffic rise from a spike of 2000 or so visits in a day to over 3000—lucky I checked my stats!

As I say, this isn’t about Pinterest (although I’m sure some of you will find it fun and useful)—it’s about being diligent about your metrics, always being on the lookout for what’s growing, and working out how you can position yourself to be able to leverage that.