How to Write Home Run Posts

HomerunThe following guest post was submitted by John Wesley who blogs at (feed) about motivation, productivity, and self improvement.

The Importance of Home Run Posts

Most of you are probably familiar with the Pareto Principal, also known as the 80/20 rule. The rule states that 80% of results come from 20% of causes. In blogging this rule is even more extreme (probably 95/5) because of social media. A great post that goes viral, makes the front page of Digg, and is picked up by a top blogger, will easily receive 20 times more traffic, back links, and RSS subscribers than a post that’s merely very good.

Home run posts grow your blog rapidly so it’s important to do everything you can to take a post from good to great. This goes against the popular opinion that short frequent posts are the best strategy. This might work well for blogs that already have a sizable readership, but if you’re just starting out you’ll need to do more to make an impact. This means providing significant value.

What Makes a Home Run Post?

Home run posts come in all shapes and sizes but they tend to share a few important qualities.
[Read more…]

8.9 Posts Per Week – Too Many? Not Enough?

Over the weekend I asked ProBlogger readers to tell us how many posts they’d written on each of their blogs last week.

142 comments were left referring to a total of 181 blogs. Here are a few of the figures:

  • The average number of posts that bloggers posted to each blog was 8.9 for the week.
  • The most common response was 5 posts for the week (27 blogs had this number of posts – or 15%).
  • 50% of blogs had 6 or less posts posted to them (and 50% had 7 or more posts over the week – or 1 post per day)

Here’s how things look when we graph them. The bottom axis is the number of posts written and the left axis is how many blogs had this many posts.

Note: I’ve excluded a couple of the responses because they didn’t give enough detail on a blog by blog basis.

An observation
My initial reaction to the figures was that it fit pretty closely with what I’d expected. The average blogger is able to get around 1 post out per day (or at least per weekday).

However my curious little mind automatically wonders what would happen if we did a similar survey on a list of more prominent and successful blogs? On previous occasions I’ve spent time surfing through the Technorati Top 100 to find out how often they post per day. On one occasion I found that the top 50 posted around 20 times per day (140 times per week) and on another found that the top 10 posted an average of 30 posts per day (210 times per week).

If someone’s got time to do a more recent survey of how many times they post I’d love to see it – but I suspect that the graph would look quite different to the one above – with a much higher average and a shape that had a higher proportion of blogs at the right hand end of the graph.

What is the optimal number of posts per week?

By no means am I suggesting that post frequency is the key to successful blogging. There are many factors that come into play when we analyze successful blogs.

[Read more…]

The Most Important Tip For Better Writing

Glen Stansberry is the author of the blog LifeDev (feed). Check out LifeDev for other tips about productivity and life improvement.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Becoming a better writer is the best thing you can do to improve your blog’s readership and traffic. Not how many buttons you have for easy submission to social services, not detailed SEO optimization, and certainly not gimmicky headlines that are created to tempt potential readers into reading your article. All of these things do have some effect on getting people to your blog, but if they don’t like what they’re reading, they’re sure-as-shootin’ not going to come back. It’s all about the content.

Good writers have an advantage on traffic because their readers come back every time they write a new article. Many blog readers are also bloggers, so they in turn link to the posts. The more links a blog has, the higher its posts rank in search engines, and the blog receives even more traffic. Not only that, compelling content gives readers a reason to submit to social sites like Digg and (regardless of whether or not you have those handy buttons).

So how does one define a good writer? At the very least a decent writer can construct sentences that show at least a 3rd grade reading level. (While this is a rather facetious statement, I have come across a couple blogs that don’t meet this standard. Hopefully the authors really were 2nd graders.)
[Read more…]

Blogging Tips: Writing Purposeful Content

The following is a guest post by and an excerpt from her popular book, Blogging Tips, Tips Bloggers Won’t Tell You About Blogging.

Writing with keyword-rich content helps your blog be found and readers to fully understand what you are writing about. Write consistent and purposeful content.

The more inline your content is with your blog’s purpose, the more concentrated your use of keywords will be throughout the entire blog, not just on a per-post basis. The more diverse your blog’s content, the more diffused your keyword usage will be across all of your blog.

Make a plan for your content. Make lists of the topics you will write about in keeping with your blog’s purpose. Stick to those subjects as much as possible to build your blog’s reputation as the place to come for answers on those subjects.

What Are The Benefits Of A Focused Blog?

  • Content is synonymous with the subject.
  • Links are synonymous with the subject.
  • It builds a reputation.
  • It builds authority.
  • It becomes a destination.
  • It becomes a source.

Your Blog’s Content Labels Your Blog

If your blog tells more stories about your life than reports on the news and world around you, then it’s a personal journal or memoir. If your blog reports and comments on politics, it’s a political blog. If it has more reviews of products and services than other content, it’s a review blog. If it has more photographs than text, it’s a photoblog. If it has more music than text and pictures, then it’s a music blog. If it has more video than music, text, and pictures, then it’s a video blog, vid-blog or v-blog. If your blog has more ads than content, it’s in the business of blogging.

The majority of the content on your blog indicates the purpose of your blog. When labeling your blog, take a serious look at its content. As your blog evolves, the value of your blog comes from the content you build over time.

Readers Thrive On Consistency And Continuity

If you create an expectation of content on your blog, readers return expecting to find similar content. If you switch one week from blogging about grooming pets to blogging about grooming horses, you have set an expectation that your blog is about grooming animals. If you switch from grooming dogs to racing cars, readers are thrown off and their expectations aren’t met. The odds are they will not return for more.

It used to be said that predictability was boring. In blogging, predictability builds return customers. They know you are the expert on this subject and that you are the source for information. Meet their expectations when they return.

Lorelle VanFossen blogs about blogging and WordPress on and the , and is the author of Blogging Tips, Tips Bloggers Won’t Tell You About Blogging.

Telling Your Story With Words and Images

The following is a guest post by .

Words tell their own story. They bring forth rhyme and reason, color attitudes, and move people. Combining the power of the verbal image with the visual can either enhance your story or overpower it. Finding that happy medium is the challenge facing every writer using images with their writing.

Compass and Map, Photography Copyright Not for Use Without Permission by Brent VanFossenBloggers often use a combination of words and images to convey a message. Some use more words and less images, others use more images and less words, while others struggle to find the way to get the message across equally with words and images.

Like words, a photograph tells a story. It can tell the whole story or part of the story. It’s up to the photographer, like the writer, to determine how much of the story is told by the image and how much is told in words.

When the blog post is a photography essay, where the images tell part of the story and the words tell the rest, how do you choose the images to go with the words? How do you combine written and visual media to form complete picture in your blog post?

When planning your photographic essay consider the following:

  1. What are you trying to say?
  2. What is the point of this picture?
  3. Does it add to the story?
  4. Does it subtract from the story?
  5. Is the point really evident?

As you develop your blog post and examine the words and images you want to use, ask these questions of each image and paragraph as you struggle to find the right combination and balance for your message.
[Read more…]

How Long Should a Post Be?

reader-questionsmistergin asks – “I notice most of your blog entries are short. I have a habit of not necessarily being long winded, but very detailed. I want to cover all the bases and make the article “full”.

However, I realize that I start running into posts that scroll through 2 sometimes 3 pages. I keep paragraphs short, try to use to accentuate, and bold/color where possible, but I still can’t help but feeling that while my site is great for content, some folks may not want to read all that.

Any suggestions on the length of my articles? I keep thinking that right now I want to build “pillar articles” as I believe you called them, and then link to them later on. It seems to me that long and detailed articles now will help get me indexed and linked, and then shorter articles may keep the feed readers happy.”

Hmmm – one of the longer questions that I’ve been asked (sorry – couldn’t resist).

Let me answer with six points:

1. Both Can Work

I believe a blog can be successful based around both short and long posts. Check out sites like Engadget or Gizmodo for short post sites (often newsy based ones like short posts) or Read Write Web or Steve Pavlina for longer, deep and/or analytical ones.

I think the key is to develop a rhythm in the style and focus of your blogging so that readers come expecting to get what you offer them.

2. You’ll Attract Readers Who Like Your Style

You’ll probably find that the type of post that you write will attract a certain type of reader also. For example I know with Steve Pavlina that I often hear extreme views expressed about his writing. Some don’t have the patience for his long posts – others thrive on it and wouldn’t have him change at all.

3. Consider the Life Stage of Your Blog

One factor to consider is the age and life stage of your blog. One strategy that many bloggers use in the early days of their blogs is to build up a good number of longer ‘pillar‘ or ‘cornerstone‘ posts on a blog. These can help you to build credibility but will also be articles that link to later on as you blog.

[Read more…]

Where to Get Product Pictures for your Blog

reader-questionsFrank Johnson (no url provided) asks – “Darren – my question is how you find product photography for your product-related blogs. Do you 1) take photos of the products yourself; 2) grab them off the manufacturers’ websites after asking for permission to use them; 3) grab them off the manufacturers’ websites without asking for permission (assuming it’s fair use); 4) do something else? Thanks!”

I generally take the approach of using a companies product shots without permission (if they’re the original producer of that content). In reality I am generally emailed press releases when a new product is launched which includes a product shot (or a link to one). Most major manufacturers also have press sections on their sites which generally have image galleries specifically designed for use in the press or online media.

The key is to compile a list of the official sites and keep an eye on them (hint: don’t just look at the US sites, often products are released in Europe and Asia before the US).

When I can’t find these I also have relationships with a couple of other blogs and sites in my niche where I have reciprocal agreements to use pictures that they’ve used (and they can use mine).

In a last case resort I’ve asked for permission to use other site’s shots if they’ve specifically taken them but it rarely comes to this – manufacturers are pretty good at getting pictures out pretty quickly once a product is released.

Is Your Blog Truly Valuable?

This post was submitted by Chris Garrett from

Valuable content. Most people know this is the way to be successful in blogging.

Sure there are other important factors too. Traffic, design, usability, community … All the good stuff.

Whatever reason people have for visiting, they stay for the content.

Here is the catch. Have you actually sat down and worked out what “valuable content” means?

  • Is it a one-off post that gets to the front page of Digg?
  • Articles that get lots of links?
  • Posts that attract comments?
  • Is it that top 100 list you bookmarked?
  • A funny cartoon that gets pinned to a cubicle wall?
  • Flash games you just can’t put down?
  • All of the above?

Value is tough to pin down. The definition depends entirely on point of view. What is valuable to the creator could be subscribers and AdSense clicks, while the reader could be just looking for a solution to their plumbing leak.

What is valuable depends entirely on your audience. Before you work out what you need to create, you need to get inside your audiences head and have a really good poke around. Solve their problems, motivate, educate and entertain.

While most people would love to have millions of visitors, thousands of subscribers and maybe a top 100 spot in the technorati list, if you are not supplying value then all of these lovely high-scores and stats are hollow at best.

[Read more…]

A Process for Persuasive Blogging

Today I was digging through Joseph Sugarman’s ‘Advertising Secrets of the Written Word‘ and came across a section describing how he teaches students to work out the sequence of ad copy.

Without rehashing the whole chapter his style is very much about identifying a reader need and then leading them through a logical process of asking questions and providing answers to a point where he can close the sale.

In asking the right question at the right time in an ad he argues that you get the to read on and establish a flow for your readers to progress through your ad (or if you’re blogging, your post).

In the same section Sugarman also suggests copywriters use a Flow Chart to outline the process that you’re attempting to lead readers through.

At each step along the process you state a problem or question that your readers need to overcome and present an answer to that problem or question.


The idea of a flowchart is probably not something that most bloggers would do on any given post – however it’s a good exercise to do occasionally on longer posts (or series of posts).

In fact I used to use this type of approach when writing sermons and have applied it quite a few times over the last couple of years in writing posts.

Another way of thinking about it is like this:

1. State ultimate Problem – starting with a problem that your reader needs to overcome (or a need that they have) is a great place to start if you want to call them to some action. People rarely take action on things if there’s no felt or perceived need.

2. Outline sub-problems – break down the larger problem into sub problems that need to be overcome for that problem to be solved. You’ll then tackle each problem one at a time.

3. Answers/Solutions – Logically step through each of the identified sub problems one at a time. Every time you propose a solution for one of the smaller problems you make a stronger case for the solution of the ‘ultimate’ problem

4. Call to Action – once you’ve tackled each of the smaller issues or problems along the way you’re in a good position to restate the ‘ultimate’ problem and call readers to an action that will answer it and meet the need that they have.


This sort of process will obviously work better for some blogs than others (the way I’ve written it is ideal for ‘how to’ blogs) – however it can be applied in a variety of situations.

It works because of the weight from the accumulation of answers. Give it a go and tell us how you find the process.