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Write a Better Blog Series In One Sitting

This post was written by Glen Stansberry of LifeDev (feed). Check out LifeDev for tips to increase creativity and productivity in your writing.

If you’re wanting to generate a little bit of buzz around your blog, you might think about writing a blog series. I’ve found that they usually generate a fair amount of link love, and if anything it gives your regular readers something to look forward to.

However, writing a blog series isn’t always the easiest thing to do. It can be a daunting task, and the potential to stop halfway is very high.

I just wrote a blog series on digital vs. paper productivity tools, and while writing stumbled on a great little tip. I found that the best way to write a blog series is to write it all before you hit publish. Just by writing them all up, and use the advanced posting feature to automate the process over a few days (or however long your blog series is), you can kick back and watch your series take care of itself throughout the week. It’s a beautiful thing.

I know writing an entire series ahead of time sounds scary and daunting, but it’s really not that bad and it will pay off. Here’s why. [Read more...]

How a Young Couple Made Half a Million Dollars In an Hour Before My Eyes

Just a few weeks ago I found myself sitting in a room full of 500 aspiring internet marketers who had gathered together to learn the art of growing an online business.

I was there to present on the topic of blogging but after presenting right up front as one of the first speakers found myself fascinated by the way in which the other speakers presented.

Each speaker was given just over an hour to talk and then 10 or so minutes to pitch a product, resource or service to those attending.

Over the three days of presentations I saw a wide array of presentation styles:

from the quiet and humble interview that the organizer did with one presenter who was making her fortune through selling pearls

through to the hype filled presentation of a black hat SEO splogger (who made me feel ill)

through to the dynamic presentation of a 22 year old young man who was building an online community with hundreds of thousands of members around teaching people to play piano by ear

[Read more...]

Blogging Is About Writing

By Lorelle VanFossen of

When you visit Google, do you click a picture to begin your search? Do you face a screen full of images like in a grocery store self-checkout? Click fruits, then apples, then scroll through pictures of apples before you find the Jonagold Apples you want to buy, and select those?

Of course not.

The web is about words. No matter how visual and audible it becomes, it continues to be about the words.

Blogging is about writing. Many claim that content is king. If content is king, then the army that protects and defends the king is the written word.

Here are some things to think about next time to put your army to work on your blog.

  1. Don’t Just Show, Show and Tell: It’s time to get back to show and tell. Blogs offer amazing ways to present multimedia information, but you still have to tell us about it. You must show and tell in order for your point to be fully understood. Words may not do it alone, but a picture is not worth a thousand words when fed through feeds and search engines. You must have the words.
  2. Keywords, Keywords, Keywords: With the recent public release of the Google Patent for Blog PageRank, your keywords are more important than ever as the algorithm applies multiple content matching, content relevancy, search relevancy, and link-to-content relevancy tests to determine if the keywords match the content. Learn how to write keyword-rich content to increase your page ranking. More importantly, write with keywords to help your reader know exactly what you are writing about.
  3. Write Clickable Titles: The keywords you use in your post titles tell potential visitors what your post is about. If they don’t get it, they won’t click it. If they do click, and the content doesn’t match, they won’t be back.
  4. Make Your Point in the First 200 Words: You have less than a second to capture your reader’s attention. If the user on your site, feed, or search engine summary doesn’t “get the point” in the first two or three sentences, you’ve lost them.
  5. Blog Writing Is About Editing: A great idea does not translate automatically into good writing. It’s the editing that clarifies your writing so the idea comes through. It’s as much about the words you add as the words you take away to increase the post’s clarity and power.
  6. Make Your Words Timeless: Blog writing isn’t like words you throw out into the air and expect them to vanish. The words you fill your blog with tend to last. Make sure the words you use and the things you say are worth reading twenty years from now.
  7. Don’t Waste Words: A powerfully titled article drew me from my feed reader and I was greeted with this first sentence: “I still have to take a shower, and I’m late for work, but I wanted to tell you about this because I think it’s important, so I’ll just rush this off before I jump in the shower and head to work.” Don’t waste words. Don’t tell your readers things they really don’t want to know. Get to the point and stop wasting your time and theirs.
  8. Explain Jargon: We get so caught up in our little world of acronyms and industry jargon, we forget few outside our clubhouse know what we are talking about. Stop once in a while and explain to us what these terms and letters mean. It doesn’t have to be a paragraph, just a few words. Don’t assume we know what you are talking about.
  9. Use Descriptions in Images and Links: Blog writing isn’t limited to just the words. If you aren’t using titles in links and alt in images, you are missing out on a very valuable use of keywords and content building. You are also not in compliance with web standards.
  10. Use Descriptions for Flash, Podcasts, Videocasts, and Screencasts: If you are using any audio or visual multimedia on your blog, help us understand what we are going to see and hear. Convince us to click to play. A picture may speak for itself, but you have to do the writing for it.
  11. Present a Problem, The Solution, and The Results: Don’t present a solution before the reader understands there is a problem. Present the problem, give us the solution, and then lead us through the results and the benefits of the results. When readers follow along with the process, they better understand how it works and why it works for themselves.
  12. Just the Facts, Ma’am: Everyone has an opinion. What makes your opinion different from other opinions is that yours is based upon the facts. Wild accusations, suggestions, and analogies do not build trust and respect. Make your opinions be based upon valid facts and identifiable references and citations. Be prepared to back your word up with the truth.
  13. [Read more...]

Long Posts vs Series of Posts

Reader QuestionsAh Pek asks – ‘I have started a new blog, and I will be doing a series of articles that are quite lengthy. I have divided it into a few parts. Is it advisable to post it as a regular entry with titles that says XXX Part 1 and so on or would it be better to put all the parts in a single page with a dedicated title? Which option will be better from a SEO point of view?’

Let me attempt to outline some of the advantages and disadvantages of Long Posts vs Series of Posts.

The Pros and Cons of Long Posts

As you suggest – one of the options at your disposal is to simply write one long post. The beauty of doing this is that your readers get all the information on a topic in one uninterrupted post that they don’t need to keep coming back to over time. For reader satisfaction alone a long post can be great.

The problem with long posts is that unless you’re an incredibly gifted writer – many of your readers won’t get to the end of a long post. Studies into how people read online have shown that they respond better to short sharp pieces (although I do find readers respond well when I write long pieces too).

Another problem with long comprehensive posts is that they can actually drain you of ideas that could sustain your blog for a longer period of time. For example instead of writing one long post with 30 tips in it you alternatively could have written 30 shorter posts with 1 tip in each over a full month. I’ve seen a few bloggers launch with incredibly comprehensive posts that cover almost every aspect of their niche. Those posts can do very well with readers an on sites like Digg – but the next day the blogger can often be left wondering if there’s anything on their topic left to write.

[Read more...]

The Importance of Letting A Good Post Wait

This article was written by Glen Stansberry of LifeDev (feed). Check out LifeDev if you want more ways to be creative and efficient with your writing.

Growing a readership is something that takes hard work and a little luck. Sure, sites like Digg and Reddit can greatly expand your readership overnight, but it’s really the way you craft your posts that will help the most with growing your blog. A bangin’ post is worth 10 mediocre ones any day. But unfortunately for most of us, in order to write a great post you have to be a… decent writer.

Becoming a better writer should be every blogger’s goal. Better writers can craft posts in a way that a) get their point across quicker and b) connect with the audience more effectively. No matter what your content, your audience will always benefit from better writing. And if your audience is happy, you’ll be happy too.

The darndest thing about blog content is that you can have the most amazing post in the world, but if you can’t create mildly decent sentences with proper spelling and grammar, nobody’s going to listen to you.

If you’re going to write like a drunk kindergartener, you can kiss your subscription rate goodbye.

[Disclaimer: The author does not even pretend to be any authority on "proper writing". As a matter of fact, he fell asleep frequently in English classes throughout his youth.]

If you’re not a great writer yet, don’t stress. Improving your writing skills comes mostly from practice and reading other great writers. But I’ve found that the most effective way to improving my blogging has been to just let my posts sit. If I sleep on a post, odds are it will be much better than had I just hit “Publish”. You see, most of the blogging mojo comes after the writing is done.

Once you’ve stopped typing you’ve only just begun the writing process. Read it through, at least a couple times. Odds are each time you read it through, you’ll pick up on stuff that could be worded better, or explained more, or even taken out completely. Don’t be afraid to let something sit overnight, or even longer. Think of your post as like a cheese that just gets better with age.

I’ve found that some of my best posts were crafted over the course of days. Yet it paid off in the end. The social sites went to town on that content, and now I’ve got backlinks galore from those posts.

You don’t want to let your posts sit too long though. At this point your fine cheese has turned a little too green. I wouldn’t recommend letting your posts “percolate” more than a week. Some people can pull it off, but for me I lose interest in the original topic too quickly, and most of my original ideas are gone.

So when you start to craft your next post, let it sit for a bit and see what happens. I guarantee your quality of writing will increase. And if your blog’s quality increases, so will your readership.

Blog Translations: The Next Web Frontier

By

Weblog Tools Collection is doing it. So is the Blog Herald. Are you doing it?

These and other blogs are hiring translators to translate their blog into different languages. Blog Herald began with Japanese, based upon a study released by Technorati stating that Japanese is the most used language on the blogosphere. Weblog Tools Collection offers Español and Deutsch versions of their blog, expanding into Europe.

Those of us with little or no money to spend on human translation services resort to translation WordPress Plugins or turn to Google’s Translate Language Tools or Altavista’s Babelfish. Machine translations aren’t perfect, but they typically do a fair job getting much of the concept across.

Having lived overseas among non-English speaking folks much of my life, the early days of the web was filled with anticipation that free instant translation would be available through our browsers. Click any link on a web page, and your browser would detect the language, magically translating it into your desired tongue. Websites in Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Hungarian, Hebrew, German, French, Arabic, Norwegian, Swahili, and everywhere would be immediately accessible for my reading pleasure.

I dreamed of learning about all these diverse cultures, getting an inside look at how they live and what their thoughts are on their lives, government, work, friends, and family. I wanted to ask them questions and seek their opinions, translated through the magic of web browsers. I wanted to learn from and about them, and I hoped they might want to know a little about me, too.

It never happened. [Read more...]

The Balancing Act of Where to Pitch Your Content

Balancing-ActYesterday I posted about how it’s often the simple posts aimed at the basics that get most attention on a blog.

The challenge with this is that for those blogging on established blogs with longer term and more advanced readers suddenly posting a lot of posts at a beginner level can actually mean you run the risk of alienating your regular readers.

However if you don’t post entry level posts you run the risk of alienating newer readers who are just at an early stage of learning about your niche.

A real juggling act can be needed as a result. So what to do?

Here’s a little advice for longer term bloggers on how to get the balance right.

  • Interlink to the basics – if your blog has a lot of content that is pitched at a beginner level in your archives – make it a regular practice to link to it in your current and more advanced posts (as it is relevant to do so). In this way newer readers will be driven deeper into your blog to be educated on the basics which will help them understand your more advanced work. This will also help you with search engine ranking for those basic posts that you’ve written.
  • Beginners areas – assemble an area on your blog that is dedicated to the beginner or novice in your topic. In a sense this is what I did with my blogging for beginners series which I highlight in my menu here at ProBlogger. Alternatively you could start up a ‘beginners’ category for your blog which you direct first time readers to.
  • Periodic beginner posts – while you might be a little fearful of turning off your more advanced readers by doing it too much, periodic posts that cover the basics of your topic is something you will want to consider doing. If every post was targeted at the novice you might get in trouble – but to integrate an occasional one (while keeping up your more advanced content also) probably will be OK with your loyal readers.
  • Involve longer term readers – loyal readers giving you grief about too many basic posts? Why not invite them to participate in teaching the beginners. One way to show them the need for what you’re doing is to give them a job and help them feel that they’re doing something useful in helping those with less knowledge than themselves.
  • Advanced areas - beginners areas work well – but you might also like to consider special areas for your longer term and more loyal readers to find content and interact with one another. Perhaps you could start a forum for them or start a category of posts directly for them to subscribe to with an RSS feed.

[Read more...]

The Rise of the Multi Blogger Blog – Outsourcing Content Creation

There’s something in the air today – everyone seems to be talking about outsourcing your blogging (or elements of it).

Daniel is writing about it from a perspective of outsourcing some of your non core blogging activities (like design, blog maintenance, marketing and even content creation) and Yaro is talking about his journey of outsourcing his own blog’s content creation and management.

It’s an interesting topic for discussion and something that a lot of blogs are moving more towards with numerous large blogs around the wider community moving to a group blogging model. To some extent I’ve even done it a little here at ProBlogger with the invitation to a couple of fellow bloggers (Tony and Glen) to submit articles every week or two.

I’ve also tinkered with it over at DPS where I’ve been using more and more reader submissions (from semi-regular contributers mainly).

Why would you want to outsource elements of your blogging (particularly content creation) by adding new authors to your blog? Well there are numerous advantages that immediately leap to mind:

  • fresh ideas
  • new styles/voices
  • less reliance upon you personally to drive the brand
  • introduce new skills, opinions, experiences and expertise into the mix
  • potentially increase posting frequency
  • having people in different time zones to keep things well maintained
  • gives you a break or allows you to focus on new projects

Of course for every upside there’s usually a downside to accompany it and some of the negatives of outsourcing through adding new bloggers can include:

  • more time spent on managing others and the issues that they can bring
  • motivational issues for bloggers
  • potential dilution of your own personal brand
  • risk of lower quality content
  • new voices can disenfranchise some loyal readers
  • compensation challenges – finding the right model and administering it
  • recruiting – how do you find the right person with the right ‘fit’?

I certainly don’t have all the answers to any of these issues and like most others at this stage am still finding my way with it. My own ‘outsourcing’ has been largely out of wanting to free up a little more time and a desire to add a few new voices into the mix – but I suspect we’ll see more and more blogs going the multi-blogger direction in the coming months.

How to Blog With ‘Voice’ and Increase Community and Readership

This post has been submitted by Glen Stansberry.

Most bloggers have a great advantage over traditional media: there’s no stingy editorial process to whittle away at our writing. We can say what we want, however we want. Yet many bloggers fail to take advantage of this fact, afraid to voice an opinion or use an entertaining writing style for whatever reason. If you don’t write with voice or opinion, you’re completely tossing away some of the best aspects of blogging.

Anybody can copy and paste. I’m pretty sure they’ve even trained monkeys to do it. If your blogging style consists of “Michael Arrington wrote about X today” and link to his story, theoretically you’re in the same skill category as the primate. Last time I checked, monkeys are still flinging poo at zoo attendees. You don’t want to be compared with that, do you?

[Read more...]