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The Two Most Important Words in Blogging

Brian’s done it again with a great post at Copyblogger and has written about The Two Most Important Words in effective Blogging. You really should read it because it’s right on the money.

How to Sell Information Products

Wouldn’t you love to have your very own product to sell?

More and more bloggers are looking to diversify their income streams, rather than having all their eggs in the AdSense basket. Others are just now discovering blogging, and they recognize right away that it is an ideal platform for information sales business models.

For my very first guest article here at Problogger, I’d like to share a few tips about utilizing a blog to both create and sell information products. While it’s possible to sell information products created by others through affiliate programs, I’d like to encourage you to consider creating something yourself, as it puts you in the absolute best position in the online sales world.

The good news is, if you already have a blog, but no product, you’re on the right track. And if you have neither a blog nor an information product in development yet, you will definitely want to consider starting to blog first. I’ll explain why below.

So, without further ado, here are 7 tips for creating and selling information products with blogs:
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Writing Blog Post Headlines That Get Results

Copyblogger has a very useful post on Writing Headlines That Get Results that is well worth the read if you’re like most bloggers and spend a lot of time writing posts and then just slap a title on it.

‘According to some of the best copywriters of all time, you should spend half of the entire time it takes to write a piece of persuasive content on the headline. So if you have a blog post that is really important to you or your business, one that you really want people to read, you should downright obsess over your post title….’

How to Write for Busy People

Ben at Inside Firefox has written a great little post on how to write for Busy People (and lets face – most of us fit the category).

I think the six points they make are great advice for bloggers also. Of course that doesn’t mean you can’t break the ‘rules’ and still have a worthwhile blog – but they are worth keeping in mind.

  • Making important points up front
  • Clear taxonomy of headings, and lots of them
  • Writing clearly and succinctly
  • No long, unbroken paragraphs or tracts of text.
  • Preferring bulleted lists with clear points to paragraphs.
  • Use of emphasis in formatting to make important things clear

I particularly would echo Ben’s sixth point. I know that when I go to a blog and see long unbroken paragraphs that it’s a major turn off. I don’t mind reading long article but am much more likely to do so if I can see it’s well organized, not too overwhelming and if it gives me some hints at a glance as to what it’s about and what I’ll get out of it. First impressions count for a lot.

The only extra hint I’d add to Ben’s list is to think carefully about your main title. He’s mentioned headings which could include this – but I think if a title is designed well it can communicate a lot and be the thing that gets people reading or turns them away from your post.

10 Steps to Writing a Successful Series on your Blog

Now that we’ve talked about why a blogger might consider the use of a series of posts I’d like to turn my attention to the way in which I do it.

When it comes to the way I build a series of posts on a blog my workflow is a little different to Eric’s (although there are some real similarities also). Let me outline how it usually works for me (and it does vary from time to time).

1. Identify a topic - this is of course key when it comes to developing a successful series (as it is with single posts also). As I reflect upon most of the series of posts I’ve written here at ProBlogger over the past year it’s interesting to see that in virtually every case the series has started in my mind as a single post. For example – one of my first ever blog series was one I wrote on AdSense for Bloggers. This 8 part series started (in my mind) as a medium sized post. As I started writing I soon realized that there was more that I could write than would comfortably fit in one post and so the series began.

The key of course is to make sure you choose a topic that is large enough to warrant multiple posts (you don’t want to write a series just for the sake of it) but manageable enough not to overwhelm you. Some topics are so large that they could almost be a blog in and of themselves.

The ideas from most of the series that I do generally do come from the themes that I see in the interactions that I have with my readers. Questions that they ask are usually key in triggering my thinking in this way.

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How to Write a Blog Series

MindBlog has a good post on Writing a Series of Blog posts which outlines the process that Eric goes through when putting together a series of posts over at his blog.

The method of stringing related posts together in a series has been a central part of ProBlogger over the past year (I always seem to have one on the go) so Eric’s post got me thinking about my own workflow in writing them.

As a result I thought it’d make a good series to write how I do it!

Don’t worry – it’s just going to be a 2 part series. In this post I’ll talk a little about WHY writing series of posts from time to time can be helpful and in the next (and last) post in this mini-series I’ll outline my 10 step process for writing a successful series.

Writing a series of posts is an excellent strategy for bloggers for a number of reasons.

  • Instead of ending up with one longer post on your blog on a topic you end up with multiple highly targeted posts which is good for your blog’s Search Engine presence
  • Series of posts can often help bloggers to go deeper and examine a wide topic in a more comprehensive way
  • They help build momentum on a blog over time in terms of your writing flow – I also find that they are good for helping me keep my motivation to write up on my blogs
  • They encourage repeat readers (people come back each day for more)
  • If you put them together smartly they are interlinked which is good for building page views per reader, creating stickiness and ranking well in Search Engines

A Word of Warning – I do suspect that some bloggers take the idea of the blog series too far in a couple of ways.
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How Often Should a Blogger Post?

Seth writes a good post on what he calls The noisy tragedy of the blog commons. He observes the high posting frequency of the top blogs going around and writes:

Just like the marketers of Oreo (now in 19 flavors of cookies) we’re dealing with clutter by making more clutter. RSS fatigue is already setting in. While multiple posts get you more traffic, they also make it easy to lose loyal readers.

I think posting frequency is a question that bloggers need to consider very carefully on a number of fronts. Here are some of the factors to consider:

1. Writer Burnout – Every year I do a 24 hour blogathon to raise money for a charity (this year’s will be soon – so get your paypal account stocked up with cash ;-) ). While I enjoy the process a lot I also find that it generally leaves me quite burnt out – both physically, as you’d expect, as well as in my ability to write. This is an extreme example but is what happens if you overload your blog for a sustained period with loads of posts (unless you have a team of bloggers to help you – as do many of the larger blogs). The constant drive for high quality and relevant content is something that takes it’s toll on a blogger. Post too often and the quality of your writing could suffer.

2. Reader Burnout – I’ve noticed that on some of my blogs that a high number of posts in too short a period can also leaving readers burnt out. This is only the case with loyal readers who either come to your blog via a bookmark each day or who follow you via RSS. I know from personal experience of reading blogs that if my news aggregator shows that there are over 20 unread posts on a blog that I’m less likely to read each post in full (unless it’s one of those blogs that I’m a massive fan of). If a blog consistently posts at too high a rate I’ve even been known to unsubscribe from it simply because I can’t keep up.

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Is Submitting Free Articles a Good Strategy for Blog Growth

Yaro has been doing an experiment to see whether writing article to submit to ‘free articles’ directories is a worthwhile way to build your blog (a strategy that quite a few bloggers use) His post is at The Verdict: Is Article Marketing Worth Your Time? The results don’t seem conclusive but I’m sure others would have experiences to add to Yaro’s so head over and have your say.

Generating Ideas for your Blog

Liz has a nice post on being an Idea Magnet today that I’m sure many will enjoy.

As she writes – one of the most difficult parts of blogging for many is coming up with ideas that are fresh and engaging. I know after three years of blogging I have days when I get up and wonder if there is anything else to cover! To this point I’ve not run out of ideas (although have had lean patches which I think are a normal part of the the blogging cycle).

If you’re stretched for ideas at present read Liz’s post – and if you’re still out of inspiration you might also find my battling bloggers block series of some help.