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…]

How do you Find Stories for Your blog? – Open Mike

On the weekend I asked readers to submit their tips on how they find readers for their blog in an ‘open mike’ discussion – the results were pretty good (it’s done pretty well on Digg today – I hope some of those featured got some good flow on traffic).

Today I’d like to open up a discussion around another question.

Where do you Find Stories for Your Blog?

I’m interested to hear from bloggers of all varieties (news bloggers, tips bloggers, business bloggers etc).

  • Where do the ideas from your stories come?
  • What tools do you use to find them?
  • What blogs/sites/offline sources do you use to track them?
  • How do you work out which stories to write about and which to leave out?

I’m really after any tip that you’ve found helpful in keeping your blog up to date with interesting, useful and unique content. There’s no wrong or right answers – no tip is too simple or advanced.

Looking forward to reading your wisdom – hopefully we all can learn a thing or two in the process.

How to Think Outside of the Box and Develop Attention Grabbing Content

I’d like to welcome Glen Stansberry from LifeDev (feed) to Problogger. Glen has offered to write a series of posts looking at how to use creativity, productivity and organization to improve your blogging skills.

With the blogosphere ballooning to gigantic proportions, more and more blogs are springing up in every single niche. While it’s great for the reader to see a wide spectrum of opinions, it makes the blogger’s job of standing out that much harder. Any blogger can read a bit of news in their topic, and regurgitate it on their own blog with little thought. But that doesn’t do anything to help our readers, other than give them one more reason to unsubscribe from Mr. RSS.

It’s quite easy to get lost in the sea of voices. However, there’s one often-overlooked way to instantly grab attention: thinking outside of the box.

Case Study: 37Signals

37SignalslogoloLets take a look at a quick example of what we’re talking about here. 37Signals runs a great blog Signal Vs. Noise.

In this blog the software company’s founders spend most of their time writing about the 37Signals mantra: great web software is simple, fast and elegant.

But what makes their writing so compelling is that they hardly ever write about software.


That’s right – What makes their writing great is that they are able to take pieces of seemingly unrelated topics and link them to their mantra, like how comics relate to web design. Or film concepts and branding. They know how to breathe life into a concept, to let the viewer see an idea in a different light.

Apply, Rinse, Repeat

This technique not only adds a new dimension to your writing, but it also shows how knowledgeable you are on your topic, Obi-Wan. The deep understanding you have of the concept means that you can show correlations previously unheard of. Can you smell the linkbait? :)

And the best part about this strategy: you can start using it immediately. And it’s really not that hard.

It all starts by changing the way you think about information.

Try reading news about topics that interest you but are completely unrelated to your niche. Or read less news, and allow your brain more time to think.

In short: start becoming more aware of how everything relates to your blog’s topic, in some way or another.

You may not get ideas from your feed reader either. That’s OK. Odds are it will be better if you don’t anyway. You’ll want to use as little “influence” from other sources as possible to help ensure originality and to get the creative juices flowing.

[One word of caution: Don’t get too abstract on your readers. Clarity is key in making this work. You never want to have your readers scratching their heads at your writing.]

There’s something that puts a well-crafted post ahead of the rest. By wrapping your posts in fresh perspectives, you’ll instantly improve your blogging, and your readers will thank you for it.

This is the first part in the series Cutting Above the Rest, a series focusing on how to use creativity, productivity and organization to improve your blogging skills. Check out Glen Stansberry’s blog LifeDev (feed) for more tips to improve your creativity.

The Kenny Rogers Guide to Getting People to Read Your Whole Posts

I never thought I’d quote Kenny Rogers on this blog but here’s something he said to a contestant on American Idol this series:

“the first word that comes out of your mouth helps people to decide whether to listen to the next word, which in turn helps them work out whether to listen to the next word, which helps them work out whether to listen to the next one… and so on and so forth…” (paraphrased)

When I heard it I was immediately reminded of a message that Joseph Sugarman comes back to again and again in his book Advertising Secrets of the Written Word when he’s talking about the headlines or titles of advertising copy.

Throughout the book he drums this into his readers (again a paraphrase):

“What is the purpose of a heading or title?

To get potential readers reading the next line of your ad.

What is the purpose of the first line of your ad?

To get those who’ve read it to read the second one.

What’s the purpose of the second line?

You guessed it – to get readers to read the third….”

Kenny and Joseph’s advice is much the same. The first things you sing, say or write in any form of communication are of vital importance when it comes to engaging people well.

The way you open a song, advertisement, book, speech or blog post often determines whether people will track with it.

If you want people to still be with you at the end of your post work hard at attention grabbing, intriguing, captivating and desire creating titles and openings.

Finding a Conversational Voice in Your Blogging

200612112158This is my final post in the ‘adding a personal touch to your blog‘ series:

This one is more of a personal preference than anything so take it or leave it – but I attempt to make my writing style as conversational as possible. I try to write in a similar way to the way I speak.

I know that this frustrates some readers for would like a more formal or text book approach – but in the majority of cases the response is positive and readers become drawn into my posts and respond in a similar voice.

The result is real conversation between blogger and reader and not ‘spin’ or ‘corporate talk’.

Once again – this doesn’t work for everyone – find your own voice and stick with it.

Using Stories to Add a Personal Touch to Your Blog

200612112158I’ve recently been reading The Story Factor by Annette Simmons and am convinced that stories are one of the most powerful ways of engaging and impacting readers.

I’ve written previously on using stories in blogging (and will probably again) but am a firm believer in using stories as they:

  • engage the imagination of readers
  • go beyond facts and theories
  • reveal something about yourself as a blogger
  • trigger emotions and the senses
  • provide hooks for readers to latch onto in your blogging
  • are relatable to readers
  • illustrate your points in ways that can be much more convincing (and convicting) than other types of information

First Person Blogging about ‘You’

200612112158This is post 2 in the Adding a Personal Touch to Your Blog Series

2. First Person vs Third Person

While there is definitely a place for third person writing in blogging – I know that I am much more drawn bloggers who place themselves inside their posts by writing in the first person. Don’t just report on the facts – let yourself engage in them and talk about how they impact you, what you feel about them, how you discovered them and how you’ll respond to them and you will find your readers respond in a similar way.

For example – next time a story like ‘Google buys YouTube’ breaks, rather than just reporting on the sale and talking about the details of the deal (like thousands of other bloggers), tell your readers how the sale could impact you (and as a result them), talk about your own feelings about the deal etc.

3. Using ‘You’ to create a more personal Blog

In a similar way that using ‘I’ language adds a personal touch to a blog – using ‘you’ language can also draw your reader into your blogging.

Brian from Copyblogger has a great post on the importance of ‘you’ in your copywriting which says it better than I could.

“When it comes to writing engaging content, “you” is the most powerful word in the English language, because people are ultimately interested in fulfilling their own needs. It may sound harsh, but the fact is your readers won’t start to actually care about you at all until you’ve repeatedly offered them exceptional value with your blog.”

When you start using ‘you’ in your blogging and you immediately force readers to consider how what you write impacts them. This means your writing leaves the realm of ‘theory’ and becomes personal.