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Forget about Marketing: Concentrate on Blogging

This is a guest contribution by Nicholas Whitmore.

The title: What on earth does it mean?

Well, recently it seems like a lot of bloggers fancy themselves as marketers. You can’t read a post on a blog without seeing a load of other bloggers commenting at the bottom, with a link back to their own site. Of course other bloggers use black hat SEO tricks and other shady tactics in order to drive traffic to their blog. Each to their own you might say, but at the end of the day life can be much, much easier.

If you publish blog content that’s truly awesome, everyone else will market your blog for you.

If you seem to spend half your life trying to promote your blog with your efforts never coming to fruition, now’s the time to stop. There’s a reason why things aren’t working out – and you can bet your bottom dollar that it’s the actual content in your blog posts.

Sorry to have to break it to you, but your blog posts suck.

A man shocked at your lack of proofreading!

It’s time to go back to basics because if you’re guilty of trying to build links and force traffic to your blog, you’re trying too hard.

The art of blogging involves thinking up great topics and blog titles, performing research where required, then authoring great work.

Building links and driving traffic to your website does not fall under the blogging remit – that’s marketing, something different altogether.

Good things come to those who wait

Starting a successful blog is not something that you can do overnight. In fact, it can take months or even years before you start to see traction and those crazy traffic figures you’ve dreamt of. If you’ve got a short attention span or you’re incredibly impatient, the chances are that you won’t make it as a blogger.

Whilst some bloggers out there make a living from their sites, don’t go quitting your day job and blowing your life savings just yet – getting a blog to the point where it can be successfully and sustainably monetized takes a very, very long time.

Expedite success with more awesome blog posts 

The only way in which you can expedite the success of your blog is to publish more high quality content. Be careful not to inundate your visitors with too much content to digest though in your race to the top. Careful balances need to be struck between quality and quantity – a balance must also be struck between too many and too little blog posts.

Rarely will you see a sparsely populated blog that’s extremely popular. One of the core ingredients of a successful blog is frequent content – there’s no getting away from that fact. You don’t have to post 10 new blogs each week, but it would help in a lot of cases.

Hard work always pays off 

On my desk is a mug that my father used to drink out of. It says: “Hard work always pays off” – I find that little saying resonates around my head at least one million times each day. There are few things in life truer than this saying – and it can of course be applied to the world of blogging.

Be prepared to spend a good few months writing awesome posts that few people will read initially.

Keep plugging away – keep publishing great content and your blog will be recognized. The pay off comes when the recognition that your blog receives snowballs – links from other blogs start rolling in, and people recommend your posts on social media.

Recognition usually starts like a little trickle of water – gradually it will build up into a raging torrent. The more recognition your site receives, the more people will read it. As more people read your blog, it’ll receive further recognition. It’s an infinite loop of goodness for you as a blog owner!

In Summary 

When you write and publish awesome content on your blog, good things will come your way.

When you write and publish boring content then spend hours on end building links to it, trying to force people to your website, good things will never come.

Spend your time blogging – not marketing. The marketing side of things will be taken care of for you by your visitors if the blog posts that you publish are good enough to be recommended and shared across the internet.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with sharing posts you publish via social media with friends and followers – it’s the ideal way in which to generate that initial buzz and interest about your blog. When the marketing of your posts takes longer than it does to actually write them however, you’ve almost certainly lost your way as a blogger.

 Nick is a freelance journalist and website content editor from http://www.contentwriting.org. He writes extensively about the art of blogging, as well as online marketing techniques such as SEO, PPC and SMM.

Why Your Blog Posts Are Falling Short of Greatness and What To Do About It

This is a guest contribution by Belinda Weaver, marketing copywriter behind The Copy Detective.

You’ve finished your latest blog post and it’s pretty good isn’t it, isn’t it?Boy looking confused

Are you sure?

 

Some bloggers think that coming up with ideas is the hardest part of blogging. Maybe you agree. Personally, I think it’s harder to turn an idea into blogging GOLD.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

Writing a really great blog post isn’t simply down to your writing. Sure, you need to use language that will appeal to your reader, and all your verbs need to be the right way up but the secret to writing an exceptional blog post, every time, is the planning.

I know what you’re thinking. Planning? How time-consuming and boring!

I know some bloggers sit down and let the words simply pour from their mind. Others will agonise over each word. Whether you find blogging easy or difficult, planning your blog post for as long as it takes to have a cup of tea will bring you that much closer to bloggy GOLD.

Quick–fire planning process

The planning stage of writing a blog post – or any piece for that matter – is all about deciding what you’re going to say.

You might love to start a post and let the keyboard take you where it will. And that’s ok. Your post will be ok, but it won’t be great. If you want your blog posts to stand head and shoulders above the thousands of other blogs in your niche, you have to aim higher.

Step 1: Boil the kettle

My favourite way to procrastinate is to make a cup of tea and that’s the perfect way to start your planning process.

While the kettle is boiling, grab a pen and some paper, or the app and device of your choice, and set a timer for 3 minutes.

Write down the main point you want your readers to walk away with. Just one or two sentences about what you want them to learn or maybe how you want them to feel. That’s your blog theme.

It will depend on what you’re blogging about and your style of blogging, but setting a high-level theme to your post will help you assess whether you’ve nailed it once the writing is done.

Step 2: Dig deeper and explain it.

Your next task is to turn your theme into a more detailed outline.

Set the timer again – this time for 7 minutes.

Blog time

Image courtesy stock.xchng user colombweb

Create a list of specific points you want to make. It might be the elements of the story you’re telling, or the top takeaways on the topic you’re delving into or even the steps of a process (like this post).

It doesn’t have to be a long list. I recommend having no more than 10 points in your list. Depending on your topic, this might even take you a lot less time than 7 minutes.

Remember, you’re not writing the post during this time. You’re simply creating a list. Just like your blog post theme from step 1, this list will help to guide your ideas and your writing.

Step 3: Plan the introductions

How you open your blog post is pretty important. Actually, it’s very important as it’s in the first few sentences of your blog post that your reader decides whether to stick around, or lend their eyeballs to someone else. Not literally, of course.

Set your timer for another 5 minutes.

Write down the challenges your reader is facing, the ones your blog solves or even just talks about. You should also jot down why they would care about your post. What are you offering them?

These two elements will help you keep your reader in mind while you write. After all, your blog posts aren’t really about you… they’re about your readers.

Then you need to choose your approach. There are lots of different ways you can introduce your reader to your topic. You can ask a question or quote a statistic, make a claim or tell a story. Here are 10 great ideas from Darren or you could startle your reader with something a little more shocking.

Now, let’s see where we are.

You’ve got your theme. You’ve got the guts of your post mapped out and the introduction. And you’ve only spent 15 minutes out of your day!

happy_time

Image courtesy stock.xchng user lusi

Step 4: Plan the wrap-up

Now you need to plan the conclusion. Your conclusion is the final impression you’ll leave on your reader’s brain. It’s possibly one of the biggest influences on how much your blog post is shared and how many comments you get. So it’s worth a few more sips of tea, isn’t it?

Get that timer and set it for 3 minutes.

Inspiring your reader to take action is a really popular way to end your post. Think of asking your reader to share their story or their advice, or even setting them some homework. But you don’t have to set an action in your conclusion. Your wrap might simply spell out the main point you wrote down in step 1, leaving your reader feeling inspired.

Here are 7 powerful ways to wrap your post up. Choose one and make a note of it in your plan. 

Step 5: Name your baby

The final piece of the puzzle is the blog title. This might just be a working title until your blog post is written but your title is one of the hardest-working parts of your blog post. Before they even get to your introduction, many readers will have decided to read or ignore your post, based on the blog title.

Here are some of Darren’s tips on writing a blog title that gets noticed.

I often write a few working titles during the planning stages then choose one and adjust it once I’ve written the post.

And you’re done!

Sometimes, the best-laid plans will go to waste. In fact, they might just be thrown out the window and driven over a few times. And that’s ok.

Don’t feel that you have to stick to your blog post plan if inspiration pulls you in another direction. Go with it!

But, if you spend a little bit of time, your blog posts will:

  • Make the writing stage so much easier.
  • Make sure your points are clearly made, without rambling.
  • Give you more ideas for follow-up or add-on posts!

Now it’s over to you. I’d love to know how you approach your blog writing now, and whether you plan your posts out. If you don’t spend any time planning right now, can you find the time to have a cup of tea to lift your blogging game?

Belinda is a professional copywriter confidently walking the line between writing effective copy and creating an engaging brand personality. Get your FREE copy of her cheat sheet to incredibly effective copywriting and make sure you’re the first to hear about her next copywriting master class

How I Turned a Guest Post into 3 Million Visitors and Over 150,000 Social Media Shares

Yesterday, I shared a practical exercise for diving deeper into your blog’s analytics to discover how you can use the last month of blog action to plan for the future.

Today, I’d like to show you an example of just how powerful this discipline can be when it comes to building traffic to your site. In fact, this simple exercise led to a series of events that generated:

  • 3 million unique visitors
  • 131,000 ‘pins’ on Pinterest
  • 25,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook
  • 19,000 RT’s on Twitter

It all started with a Guest Post Submission

This story all began in March of 2012 when I received an email through the contact form on dPS, outlining an idea for a guest post. The author wanted to write a post with some examples pictures of how to pose women for portraits.

I liked the idea and agreed that the author could write the post. He submitted it a couple of weeks later and I scheduled it to go live late on the 28th.

The post was titled Posing Guide: 21 Sample Poses to Get You started with Photographing Women (note: on the blog it says ‘Part 1′ but at the time of publishing it was a stand alone post).

Screen Shot 2013 06 04 at 1 20 59 PM

Initial Results

I thought the post would do well as it was on a topic we’ve had good responses to in the past i.e. posing techniques. It was also an image based post, which we’ve had quite a bit of success with.

Four days later (on the first of April), when I was doing my ‘deep dive’ into Google Analytics, I was excited to see that the post had done very well indeed.

The day it was published the post had over 17,000 visitors, which was higher than an average post on its first day. Around 30% of that traffic was coming in from Facebook, which was surprising as I didn’t promote it on our own Facebook page until the day after.

The second day after publishing, the post saw around 8,000 visitors but day 3 saw it reach over 42,000 visitors.

This spike was partly due to the post being featured in our newsletter, which normally spikes traffic to the site, but that day also saw some great traffic from social media including StumbleUpon, Facebook and Pinterest.

Over the following few days it continued to do really well so by the time I did my analyse it had already received around 150,000 visitors – considerably higher than other posts on the site in their first week.

Other than the raw traffic numbers I was interested to see that:

  1. The number of sharing events the post was getting on Facebook, StumbleUpon and Pinterest. The post had some great visuals that seemed to stimulate this.
  2. The number of comments and emails we were getting from readers asking how to pose men and kids.

Building Momentum

I saw an opportunity and immediately emailed the author to see if he’d be interested in similar followup posts on posing men and children.

He had also noticed a spike in traffic to his own site as a result of the post, was keen to do more and immediately began work.

Within a week we published Posing Guide: 21 Sample Poses to Get You Started with Photographing Men.

This second post did about 75% of the traffic of the first post but the patterns were very similar. The difference was that we didn’t see traffic from StumbleUpon but instead saw it from Reddit.com

10 days later we published a Posing Guide for Photographing Children with very similar results.

While traffic wasn’t quite as spectacular on posts #2 and #3 they were still well and truly out performing most other posts on the site. Naturally, I commissioned the author to write more!

Post #4 was a Posing Guide for Photographing Couples is an interesting case study in and of itself because while it spiked in traffic over the first week it didn’t drive as much initial traffic. However, since publishing it last May it has gone on to become our most popular post ever on Pinterest and continues to drive great traffic to the site ever since.

Screen Shot 2013 05 27 at 2 47 16 PM

To this day, that post has over 83,000 ‘pins’ and has been visited just under half a million times in the last 12 months!

Over the coming months we published more followups in this series:

Each post has not only gone on to drive its own traffic but every time we post another addition to the series we see a surge of traffic to previous posts (as we interlink them all). So now, because we’ve published six followup posts in the series, our original post has received around 850,000 visitors and they’ve had over 2.5 million visits between them all.

Take Home Lessons

The take home lesson for me is it’s not only important to create useful content, you need to take note of what works. You also need to attempt to find ways to build momentum on your site and followup with more of the same!

While the traffic levels may not be the same as what we do on dPS (we have the benefit of having build decent traffic to the site since 2006) the same principles can apply for a blog at any level.

The success of this series of posts has generated a lot of future ideas for dPS. We’ve commissioned the author to create another series of posts (the first of which went live on the blog in the last hour) which will also include ‘real photos’ based upon the poses previously covered. This was something we had requests for in the previous series of posts so I’m hoping it goes well.

11 Quick Tips for Writing Compelling Posts On Your Blog

Yesterday I ran a workshop for a small group of bloggers here in Australia. One of the sessions I covered was on writing compelling content.

Here’s a brief look at a few of the recurring themes in what I shared:

  1. Be Useful – if your post isn’t informing, inspiring, entertaining or making someone’s life better – don’t publish it until it does.
  2. Share your Opinionopinions are often what sets bloggers apart from the pack.
  3. Cut out the Fluff – before you hit publish, revise your post and remove anything that doesn’t add value.
  4. Visualise Your Reader – writing with a reader in mind personalises your writing.
  5. Make Your Posts Scannable – only 16% of people read every word online. Format your posts so that your main points stand out.
  6. Work and Rework You Headlines – a good headline can be the difference between a blog post being read, or ignored.
  7. Write with Passion – when you show you care about what you’re writing, your readers are more likely to care too.
  8. Give your Readers something to do Nextask your readers to DO something once they finish reading. It could be to read something else, comment, apply a lesson, share the post etc.
  9. Tell Storiesstories are powerful ways of connecting with, inspiring and teaching your readers – they also create memories
  10. Give Your Posts Visual Appeal – the inclusion of an eye-catching image or a well designed diagram can take your post to the next level.
  11. Practise – the best way to improve your writing is to write. Practise Makes Perfect.

On Hamburgers and Hooks: How to Effortlessly FIND (Not Write) Your Compelling First Line

This is a guest contribution from Kelly Diels-Rostant.

Hamburger

Image courtesy of Suat Eman FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Where’s The Beef?” asked the lil’ ol’ lady and in so doing launched her late-blooming acting career.

It was 1984. Clare Peller was eighty-four years old. It was her first acting gig and it was a hit. Her Wendy’s spot spawned a series of follow-up commercials, launched a slew of licensing and merchandising deals (t-shirts, coffee mugs, beach towels, oh my!), and became an instant cultural catch-phrase.

It may even have turned the tide of a presidential primary. In a televised debate, listening to presidential hopeful Gary Hart talk about his “new ideas”, rival Walter F. Mondale leaned forward and said, “When I hear your new ideas, I’m reminded of that ad, ‘Where’s the beef?’”.

Mondale, not Hart, won the democratic nomination. That’s the power of a pithy, provocative phrase. A hook. The beef. And your blog post has got to have it.

So let me tell you where your blog post beef is: it’s the best, most quotable line of your piece, and I promise you it’s already there.

Really, it’s there. You already wrote it. It’s just in the wrong place.

But first, a little background.

The most quotable line of your blog post could – and should – be the first line. The hook. Hook your readers.

In conventional newspaper journalism, the first line of the piece is the entire piece: Who. What. When. Were. Maybe even how and why. All in one line. The way if the reader stops reading right there after the first line (bad reader! lazy reader!), she still got everything she needed to know.

Which means she can stop reading, yes?

NO.

Is that what you want your blog readers to do? Stop reading after the first line?

So that’s instructive. To write effective, compelling, must-read blog posts, accept the dramatic imperative of classical journalism and hook your reader with the first sentence. Then abandon the methodology – do NOT spill the who, what, where, when or how. At least not yet.

Write hooks, instead, which means don’t give it all away the first line. In fact, don’t lead with any context at all. Context can come later, in the second pararaph, or even later, in the second section of your post.

Because the more provocative, mysterious and insensible the first line, the better the hook. Your reader has to keep reading to figure it out.

Mwahahaha.

That was my evil bloggess laugh. It’s genetic. For example, remarking upon my progeny – one of whom is the incomparable, six year old Lola whose first viewing of 101 Dalmatians provoked her to confide, I really like that evil girl [Cruella DeVille], I like her style Amanda Farough once said, “She’s only one bad science experiment away from becoming an evil genius.”

True dat.

I digress. Sort of. But like any good villainess/bloggess, I do have a signature, sneaky trick in reserve.

It’s a guide to finding your blog post hook in one step.

Notice I said hook finding, not hook writing.

IMPORTANT: I want you to avoid performance anxiety – I mean writer’s block – because so far, there’s no little blue pill for that. Alas. Because if I sit down and try to write The Best First Line Ever, a hot-and-sexy hook, I won’t be able to get my writerly mojo up…so lo, the page will remain blank. Unloved.

But.

If I just write and write and write until I’m finished (I call this Draft Zero because it’s the utterly unselfconscious and necessary blathering that precedes what writer Anne Lamott calls The Shitty First Draft) and then go back and ask,

Where’s The Beef?

AKA

Where’s the Quote?

Then and only then can I get it on. That’s when I’ll find it: the great line I’ve already written. The hook.

And you can, too.

So, when you’re hook-finding, ask yourself this:

Where’s the beef? If you were a reader, what line would tickle, stroke or slap you? Where’s the leap-frogging, cart-wheeling, caterwauling sentence that demands to be known? Where’s the wisdom? Where’s the beef? The quote? Doncha wanna give good quote?

Yes, you do – and if you can’t find a few foundational, architectural phrases that transform your piece from sentences laid end-to-end into “arcades and domes”, then your Draft Zero work is not done.

But if you seek, you will find them: arcadian, majestic, domestic lines of genius already embedded in your blog post. They’re there because you let yourself write them.

Yep, it’s true: there are gorgeous phrases and stunning sentences already in your blog post just waiting to be relocated to where they really belong.

And one of them is your hook. It’s already there, you already wrote it, you just have to find it.

That’s why this exercise is called Hook Finding, not Hook Writing.

So that’s all you have to do.

Flow, write, finish, realize you’re not finished (editing is 90% of real writing), ask yourself, where’s the quote?, and voila! there’s your hook. Cut ‘n paste to the first line -

        which will, inevitably suggest a new narrative arc and the direction for subsequent editing, hallelujah!

 - then revise your piece to support and amplify your new hook, answer the hook in the last line…

…and just like that, you’ll have a hook AND a cohesive, compelling, must-read blog post.

So that’s how you find your blog post’s hook and then use your hook to tie it all together. Tie it up.

Some people like it like that.

Like, your reader.

The one who was hooked. The one who read your piece right through to the end.

And like the hamburger-eating public. Asking Where’s the Beef? increased Wendy’s annual revenue by 31%. One stunning phrase in the right place – a television commercial, a presidential campaign, the first line of a blog post – can change everything.

So please sally forth right now and find your hook. Yum.

—————

The Moral of the Story in Four Short Tweetables*:

  1. Asking yourself “Where’s The Beef?” works for burgers AND blog posts. (click to tweet)

  2. The more provocative, mysterious and insensible the first line, the better the hook. (click to tweet)

  3. “She’s only one bad science experiment away from becoming an evil genius.” (click to tweet)

  4. Hook Finding 101: Write; reread your work; ask yourself, “Where’s The Quote?”; and voila! Hook, found. (click to tweet)

*Wanna know how I wrote these tweets? I didn’t. I found them already written in my post. Yup, hook-finding works for crafting Tweetables, too.

Kelly Diels-Rostant is the evil villainess/writer-for-hire responsible for Cleavage.

7 Steps to Proofreading Like a Pro

This is a guest contribution by Charles Cuninghame, website copywriter and owner of Text-Centric.

I’m sure we can all agree that proofreading is the least fun part of blogging. But while it may be tedious, it’s well worth the effort.

Typos are not only embarrassing, they can also cost you money.

In a widely reported study in 2011, British entrepreneur Charles Duncombe found a single spelling mistake can cut online sales in half! If you don’t have a product, then you could be missing out a blog subscriber or repeat visitor!

A man shocked at your lack of proofreading!

Here’s a tried and tested proofreading process that I’ve taught to many novice writers with great success. Once you get the hang of it, you should be able to thoroughly proofread an average length blog post in 5-10 minutes.

What you’ll need:

  1. A printer
  2. A red pen
  3. A highlighter pen

Step 1: Set it aside

Time permitting, set your blog post aside for a while before you proofread it. An hour is good, a day is better. The more time you put between the writing and proofreading, the more refreshed you’ll be and better able to spot any typos.

Step 2: Print it out

Research has shown that proofreading on-screen is not as effective as proofreading a printout. So do yourself a favour and print your post out. But run it through the spell checker first, to fix any obvious spelling mistakes.

Step 3: Mark up your changes

Get ready by minimising distractions. Proofreading requires your undivided attention. So turn off your phone, close your email and switch off the music.

Read through your post marking up typos and rough spots with your red pen as you go. Force yourself to slow down and concentrate. Focus on each word and character as you read.

Make your mark-ups obvious so you don’t overlook them at the corrections stage. Punctuation marks (commas, apostrophes, full-stops/periods, etc.) are particularly easy to miss. So it’s a good idea to circle the mark-up for extra emphasis.

It’s also a good idea to put a cross in the margin next to a line that contains a correction.

Step 4: Read out loud

Once you’re been through your blog post once, read it aloud. Reading aloud helps in two ways. Firstly, your ears will often catch mistakes that your eyes miss. Reading aloud forces a higher level of concentration than silent reading.

And secondly, reading out loud helps you to write conversationally. If your post sounds clunky when you speak it, you need to revise it until it sounds confidently conversational.

Step 5: Double-check details

There are some details that are particularly embarrassing or troublesome to get wrong. So you should double-check the following:

  • The spelling of people’s names e.g. is it Janine or Jenean? Stuart or Stewart?
  • Ditto brand names e.g. is it Word press, WordPress or Word Press?
  • Telephone numbers and email addresses
  • Prices
  • Click links to make sure they go where you want them to.

Step 6: Make corrections

Make all your corrections in one go, not as you find them. Be very careful as you make changes. You don’t want to add in errors at this stage. Be especially careful with any sections you’ve rewritten. If you’ve rewritten a significant portion of your post it’s best to print it out and proof it again.

A common mistake is missing corrections you’ve marked up on your printout. So as you make each change mark it off your printout with your highlighter. When you’ve finished making changes, go over your printout to make sure you haven’t missed anything.

Step 7: Final check

As a final check, run the spell checker over your corrected post. Read it on-screen to make sure it looks OK. Break up any paragraphs that are longer than 5 lines. Now you’re good to hit the publish button!

Charles Cuninghame is a website copywriter and the author of the Website Content Cheat-Sheet. For important documents he usually hires a proofreader.

How Much Content Should I Have Ready to Go When I Launch a Blog?

I recently had the opportunity to sit with a small group of Pre-Bloggers – people about to start their first blogs.

One of the questions I was about how much content should be written before launching a new blog.

My answer came in two parts:

  1. The Ideal Scenario
  2. What I actually have done

The reality is that what I ‘preach’ isn’t always what I ‘do’ – so let me tell you about both!

Note: we give a lot of teaching and some great exercises on this topic in ProBlogger’s Guide to Your First Week of Blogging.

The Ideal Scenario

OK – here’s what I’d do if I was creating a strategy to launch a new blog. Following this strategy would leave you with around a month of content and content ideas ready to go!

Dreaming goals

Mark Aplet – Fotolia.com

1. Have At Least 3-5 Posts Already Published

My ideal scenario for launching a new blog is to have at least a few posts already live on the blog.

The benefit of this approach is that when you launch the blog, people arrive and see more posts than just your ‘I started a blog’ post!

These early posts should cover a range of topics within your niche and give your first readers a taste of what is to come in terms of topics, a sense of who you are and an idea about the voice that you’re writing in.

2. Have 5-10 Posts Ready to Publish in Drafts

When launching a new blog, it’s also GREAT to have a few blog posts written and saved as drafts.

The reason for this is that often, when launching a blog, you can easily get distracted by other aspects of the launch. Design tweaks, getting a server set up right, promoting the blog, setting up social media accounts etc.

While you might have a lot of this done before launch, there’s a good chance something will go wrong (it’s Murphy’s Law). If you have at least a few blog posts already written and ready to go, you’ve got a great backup.

Having posts in reserve also takes a bit of pressure off and won’t leave you with that stressed ‘what am I going to write about today’ feeling!

3. Have 20 Blog Post Ideas Brainstormed

One of the hardest parts of creating regular blog posts – particularly in the early days – is coming up with ideas of topics to write about.

As a result I highly recommend doing some brainstorming before you launch, when the pressure is off. Put aside time to come up with as many blog post ideas as possible by what ever means suits you.

I personally like to use Mind Mapping to come up with blog post ideas (I’ve written about mind mapping here and here).

Keep your post ideas handy and add to them regularly, and you’ll find you are never stuck for something to write about!

What I’ve Actually Done

OK – so the ideal theory I’ve outlined above is all good and well – but the reality is that I don’t know a whole heap of bloggers who have always stuck to their launch strategy, including myself.

My own experience is that often, when starting a new blog, excitement and adrenaline kicks in. When you’re passionate about your new project, it’s easy to be more impulsive!

Here’s the brief launch story of my two main blogs:

ProBlogger – I launched ProBlogger in September 2004 after writing about blogging tips and making money blogging on my personal blog, in a category dedicated to the topic.

When I launched ProBlogger.net, I brought all of those posts that I’d previously written so when I launched there was already 60+ posts live.

I remember doing some brainstorming of post titles but I didn’t have any posts saved as drafts. Instead, I was so excited about starting ProBlogger that I published 40 posts in the first 10 or so days!

In hindsight – that was too many. I was naive, but I was so excited!

Digital Photography School – when I launched dPS back in April 2006, I set out with a year and a half of extra experience and so I decided to take things slower.

The dPS blog was something of an experiment and I didn’t know if it was going to be much more than a hobby. But I decided to create more content before launching and went through the brainstorming exercise, with mind maps that I linked to above.

I had 20 or so post ideas mapped out and even wrote a couple of posts that I’d published before launching – but didn’t have too many posts written as drafts on launch.

My plan at launch was to only post 3 posts per week while I got going but again I got a little excited and in the first week I published 6 posts and from then on it was pretty much daily!

Can you see a theme here? I tend to get very excited with new projects and holding back and being measured isn’t always easy for me!

How About You?

I’d love to hear about your blog launching strategies? Do you publish many posts before launching or have posts ready to go? Any other tips for new bloggers?

And if you are looking to launch a new blog – check out ProBlogger’s Guide to Your First Week of Blogging for more tips and exercises to help you get your blog launched with the right foundations!

Blog This! Sometimes Going Back to Basics Leads to the Best Posts

Today, I’m preparing some slides for a keynote I’m doing tomorrow. I included this diagram – something that Chris Garrett came up with years ago as a way to show new bloggers what they should blog about.

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The idea – obviously – is to find the connecting point between what YOU know (lessons you’ve learned, problems you’ve overcome, experiences that you’ve had etc) and what your readers (or potential readers) want (or need) to know.

The intersecting point is GOLD!

The problem with this diagram is when I show it to people they sometimes respond saying, ‘I don’t know anything‘!

I understand this feeling. However, I would encourage anyone thinking that to think again. In many cases, you simply overlook what you know because you think it is too basic to share!

As I was preparing for my keynote, I was reminded of a post that I wrote on dPS back in 2007 that illustrates this pretty well.

The post was How to Hold a Digital Camera.

This post came about when I was looking through submitted reader photos to select some to critique in our forum. Many of  the photos I was looking at were blurry and I realised that a common mistake was ‘camera shake’ (or the camera moving while the shot was being taken).

One of the most common and obvious reasons for camera shake is that the photographer is not holding their camera still.

There was an obvious need among some of our readers to learn how to hold their camera to keep it still while shooting.

I knew the theory of how to do this after being taught it in a school photography class but I remember thinking it was simply too basic to write a blog post about.

But I wrote the post anyway.

I hesitated for several days before publishing it, second guessing myself the whole time. I envisaged being laughed down.

The post was a hit. It got a lot of traffic early on, quite a few comments (in which many suggestions were made of other techniques) and it has been shared many hundreds of times around the web on social media.

Today, as I prepared for my keynote, I decided to check my Google Analytics to see how many times the post has been viewed since 2007.

The answer surprised me…

The post has had over 560,000 unique views!

Over half a million people have viewed that post over the last 6 years and still gets an average of 150 visitors per day to it (mainly search traffic).

Sometimes even the most basic advice – things you take for granted – is the advice your readers really need to hear.

Will Your Content Marketing Last The Distance?

This is a guest contribution by Ruchi Pardal of ResultFirst.

Some people believe that content marketing means multichannel, and seemingly mechanical, publishing of anything, anywhere. Their goal is to gain links and rank well (of course, momentarily) using thin content, spinned content, keyword-rich content or unnecessary press releases. That’s the kind of content marketing that brings very short lived benefits (if any). True content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.

Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What’s Content Marketing?

Content marketing creates valuable, sharable content published on multiple channels to attract readers and hopefully customers. Content marketing builds a community. Content marketing gains exposure. And, of course, content marketing markets your brand. But true content marketing taps into people’s desires and grabs their attention by wowing them. Bewitching them. Making them learn something they didn’t already know or were seeking. It hooks them in not just once, but time and time again.

Your Content Marketing Weapons

  • Blog posts
  • Infographics
  • Guest posts
  • Podcasts
  • Comics
  • Video content
  • Webinars
  • Ebooks
  • Open discussions
  • And counting…

Questions for Long Distance Content Marketing

Content marketing, if used smartly, can help you gain things you never even knew you could get your hands on. Kissmetrics skyrocketed its traffic and got 3500+ unique domain links using by creating 47 infographics. In fact, it’s one of the greatest examples of content marketing done right. Even Mashable believes that.

So, here are the questions you should (and must) ask yourself if you want your content marketing to work for you in the long term:

Is there any meaning to the content I’m creating? Content marketing with an ambiguous objective is the worst of them all. So, first off, think about what you want to achieve and how that impacts your different audiences. Then track back to how content marketing can bridge the gap. Choose the right content marketing weapons for your audience and your objectives and before jumping in feet first, work out how your content can stand out.

Is it relevant to what my audience wants? Anything that gives your audience, or their network, real value is relevant. Instead of wasting time thinking about how to convert them as a subscriber, think what they need to learn and what they’d love to learn.

Is it mostly about myself, my company, my team? That’s okay – but only sometimes and it’s important that content that’s just about you, with no value to your audience, is in the minority

Does it add any value to or challenge traditional wisdom? Nobody loves rehashed content but yes, if you can give an old topic a new angle or your take then it can feel like a brand new idea.

Does it sound robot-generated? Try to make your content interactive as hell. If it sounds robot-generated, it’s drab, irritating and repelling, your readers won’t read beyond the first paragraph.

Will my audience link to it and share it socially? One of the qualities of content marketing that lasts the distance is its ability to resonate with large audiences and that means making it sharable! Sharable content also helps you in your SEO efforts, too.

Am I just adding to the sea of crap content that’s already on the Web? Please don’t! It’s our Web and it’s up to us whether we make it all the more exciting or filled with full, lifeless, boring content

Have I chosen the right channel for publishing my content? The right channel leads to the right audience so it’s quite an important decision. If you’ve been doing content marketing just to get links, well, that won’t help you now. Google values not just hard-earned but relevant links from trusted sites. Moreover, this I-want-that-link behaviour is disturbing and somewhere undermines what we put into getting one. Time to get over this, right?

Last and the most important: Is my content marketing based on a content strategy? Solid content marketing needs a solid content strategy, one that must answer how you’ll take care of creating, marketing and governing content over time.

A footnote about SEO

“If your content is the best thing since sliced bread, you’re going to rank well. We are focused on what searchers are engaging and how we can deliver them better results.” Bing’s Duane Forrester

“Don’t think about link building, think about compelling content and marketing.” Google’s Matt Cutts

If you still think that SEO is all about rankings and traffic, don’t do content marketing for SEO, at all. However, if you understand that content marketing is about creating and sharing value that helps you build great communities, well the SEO benefits will come as a result.

In summary, I’d reiterate that you can’t win the marathon and gain loyal followers with short sprints of content. You need a content strategy and consistent effort.

So, how do you make sure that your content marketing lasts the distance? What is your favorite content marketing weapon and why? Shout out below.

Ruchi Pardal is Director of ResultFirst, a firm that works on pay-for-performance model, helping businesses get found across search engines and give an optimal experience to their audience. She’s been into digital marketing for well over 10 years. When she’s not busy with her work, Ruchi loves to spend every moment with her awesome family.