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Battling Bloggers Block – Where do you get Stuck?

Battling Blogger's Block - where do you get stuck?

Recently, I had a question from a listener:

“Darren do you have any tips for bloggers with bloggers block? I want to take my blog to the next level in 2016 but I’m stuck. Every time I sit down to write nothing comes and the more that happens the more stressed I feel and the less it seems to flow!”

And it gave me an idea – so today is the first in a mini-series of common problems that many bloggers face, and one of the biggest issues revolves around content. What happens when you run out of ideas? What happens when you feel as though nobody is hearing you? What happens when bloggers’ block strikes? It can happen to the best of us, and when it does it can be incredibly frustrating.

As I’ve given this topic much thought over the years, I’ve come to realise that there is not just one type of blogger’s block. To be more specific, there are different stages of the blog writing process that have tripped me up from time to time.

In today’s episode of the ProBlogger podcast I want to help you through this common stumbling block by talking about the three types of blogger’s block I’ve suffered from, and what I did to break out of those ruts. Whether it’s at the ideas level, the productivity level or falling down before the finish line, if you’re feeling it, chances are I’ve been there too.

You can find the show notes here, and if you have any questions I’d be happy to answer them in the comments or on Twitter, where I’m @problogger.

 

Have you ever suffered from blogger’s block? What did you do about it?

Further Reading:

26 Blogging Mistakes That Are Costing You Time, Money, and Credibility

Are you making these 26 Blogging Mistakes That Are Costing You Time, Money, and Credibility

This is a guest contribution from Iniobong Eyo.

You’re slaving at your blog. You’re working hard. Real hard.

But things are not just going your way. You’re hardly getting any traffic to your blog, let alone comments or shares on your post.

You’ve been around for a while, but you still can’t make money from blogging. Now you’re wondering: does this even work?

You try guest posting. You can’t get published on a blog worse than yours. You can’t help but think: “Are these bloggers always this wicked or is it just me?”

Wait.

You’re not doing it right. You’re wasting precious time. You’re wasting money. And you look amateur – even to your cat.

Because unknowingly you’re sabotaging your blog and your blogging career. You’re making mistakes.

I’m a content strategist, who recently started his blog. Over the past two years, I’ve seen firsthand what works and what doesn’t from client work. Don’t feel intimidated, I still make some of these mistakes on my blog.

You know the best part?

It’s not too late to correct them.

Measure yourself against any of these mistakes below, and see how you fare. And even if you feel you’re making no mistakes, there’s always room for improvement.

Content

1. You write and wait for the audience to come

This has been around for God-knows-how-long.

Just keep posting on your blog and eventually, the world will discover you and your blog. Content is king, right?

Wrong.

It’s simply misleading. Terrific content alone will not make your blog an overnight success. To put things in perspective, tons of blog posts have gone live already today.

You’d be hard-pressed to find and read even 500 posts out of the lot.

If nobody’s reading and sharing your posts, what use is it? Spending your whole time creating content on your blog is folly.

Blogging isn’t just writing epic content. There’s got to be time for other small things too. And they add up.

But more on that later.

2. You believe you know what good content is

No you don’t. Your audience decides if your content is good or worth reading.

It’s the reason why you may spend days on a post, fully expecting it to go viral once you hit publish, but it doesn’t.

Your post hasn’t provoked emotions in your readers, provided a detailed guide to carry out a task, or given insanely useful advice.

When you have lots of eyeballs on your blog and there’s no engagement in the form of comments or social shares on your post (if you allow comments), you need to write terrific content. Your readers’ version of it that is.

Go figure.

3. You fixate on your posts’ lengths

Does it really matter how long your posts are?

It does, and it doesn’t.

You should consider the content of your post. If you can say it in 500 words, you may do so. If you can say it in 5000 words, it’s okay too. Don’t waffle on and on.

But research has shown that longer posts do better on search engines. Longer posts get shared more. Longer posts have stronger keyword potential.

So ideally, aim around 1500 words and above for your posts. In most blogging niches, with some research, you can consistently hit that mark with every post.

But that’s not possible if…

4. You believe you need to post everyday

This isn’t very popular anymore, but it deserves mention.

It takes time to create quality content. Think hours, days, or weeks.

By continually replacing the latest post, you destroy social proof. The longer a post stays on your blog as your latest post, the more exposure and interaction it gets. Few people will spend their time on yesterday’s conversation when there’s a new one today.

When you post everyday, you have less time to promote your posts, less time to plan your posts, and less time to create assets for your online business.

Spend time to plan and create your posts. Don’t post everyday. Well, except if you’re Seth Godin

5. You hold back good stuff on your blog

You feel your ideas are invaluable and you’d rather write an e-book out of them, start a coaching course, or create a flagship product. Right?

Wrong.

If you’re not offering any real value on your blog, you’ll never have the loyal readers you crave. You’ll never be taken seriously. You’ll hold on to your “invaluable” ideas forever.

So how do you give your best?

Write every post as though you’re paid at least $200 for it. When your post is so valuable, people can’t help but talk about it.

You’ll think of what to sell later.

6. You do your best writing only on your blog

It’s true that many influencers do not write guest posts anymore. But some still do.

They use it to market new products, get new readers/subscribers to their blogs, and even get new clients.

If you’re just starting out, or you don’t have enough readers/subscribers yet, posting your best content on your blog is plain silly. 

Jon Morrow calls it “speaking to an empty classroom.” It can be the best article ever written on the topic, but is it any use if nobody sees it?

“Write guest posts for someone else’s audience, impress the hell out of them, and siphon a portion of their readership to your own.”

– Jon Morrow

Many bloggers and online entrepreneurs have built their blogs and businesses through guest blogging. I could write a book about them.

They could never have done it if they reserved their best writing for their blogs.

It still works now, and you should guest post more than you write on your blog.

So maybe if I ever get to write that book, I’ll feature your story too.

7. You believe making empty promises with your headline is a headline hack

It’s sad but true. But not surprising. Generally, humans have and will always love shortcuts.

“Hack” posts are popular for a reason. And that’s the problem. Imagine seeing a post with the headline:

“How to Legally Make $10 000 in Five Minutes or Less.”

To their credit, some people will find the headline outrageous and see it for what it is – a click bait. But the allure is great. That’s why they’ll click on it still.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I believe it’s easier to read this post in less than five minutes than it is to make $10,000 in less than five minutes. Or I have a higher chance of getting a new client here that pays an hourly rate of $5000 for my services than making $10,000 in less than five minutes.

You get the point.

Please don’t create curiosity in your headline when you can’t deliver on its promise. Don’t use such headlines unless you’re absolutely sure it’s something 95% of your readers can do in five minutes…or less. Or most will never take you seriously again.

Give them real advice they can execute in five minutes, or whatever length of time your headline says. Only then are you delivering on your promise.

8. You try too hard to be funny in your posts

You’re likely familiar with this saying:

“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

– William Shakespeare

The big question is: can anyone become funny? To answer the question, let me rephrase Shakespeare’s quote:

“Some are born funny, some achieve funniness, and some have funniness thrust upon them.”

I’ll go ahead and say it.

I don’t believe anyone can become funny.

Similarly, I don’t believe anyone can become a good artist, a good writer, or a good mathematician. Because nature plays a big part.

But I believe everyone can get better at whatever they do. Sounding funny may not be your strength, but you can actually get better at being funny.

Study the works (whatever that is) of funny people you admire, practice it in day to day conversation, where you’ll often get instant feedback. Over time, being witty may come more naturally to you.

It takes a great writer to express sarcasm or wit. If you try too hard, you may be viewed as insensitive, or plain rude.

No matter what, don’t forget you don’t need to be funny to inspire people, to encourage them, or to change their lives with your posts.

9. You think trying to be clever is best

There’s a wide range of actions this applies to. But let’s focus on writing.

If you’re using 20 words to convey ideas that can be conveyed in 10 words, it’s not clever.

If you’re displaying your command of English by using “gargantuan” instead of “big” or “massive”, it’s not clever.

If you’re making empty promises with your headline, its not clever.

Please, always strive for clarity. Don’t let your audience pause to think about the meaning of your words. It’s frustrating.

Daniel Oppenheimer, professor of psychology at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, sums it up best:

“You should use use instead of utilizing utilize.”

10. You believe you’re just a blogger

No. You’re not just a blogger. You’re an expert, a writer, an entrepreneur. Your blog is simply a platform for all that.

Almost all bloggers making good income have books, courses, software, or a writing career. That’s how they make money. Their blog is just a “giveaway” to attract clients or customers.

Darren has got books, courses, paid job listings, is a keynote speaker, etc. I am a content strategist.

What do you have? What do you do?

11. Being an expert means you’re always right or you always have the final say

So you’ve just written “201 Ways of Doing A and B” and you feel there’s no 202nd or probably a 250th way of doing A and B? You’re wrong.

You’ve just written “The Ultimate Guide to Achieving X Results.” A “lowly commenter” adds a step you missed in your guide or adds a completely different way of achieving X. Do you thank him or do you try to discredit him? 

Nobody knows it all. And everyone is entitled to their own opinion. And we’re all humans.

On your blog, you may be the mentor, teacher or expert. Does that make you any more human than anybody else? No.

When you make mistakes, own up to them. When a reader mentions a point you missed or probably didn’t think of, acknowledge it. When you write posts, realize you may not always completely cover every aspect of a topic.

All the above don’t destroy your expert status. It only reaffirms it and bonds you with your readers.

12. You only write when you’re in a good mood

That’s what many think when they start their blog. It is wrong…on many counts.

This has been my biggest hindrance – at least for writing on my blog. But over time, I’ve realized the truth in this lyrics of the Westlife song Angel:

“There’s always some reason to feel not good enough.”

A good mood is relative. You’ll never absolutely feel good. So stop procrastinating writing with this excuse.

Because good writers write. It doesn’t matter if they have a failed relationship. It doesn’t matter if they work long hours. It doesn’t matter if they’re sick. It doesn’t matter if their day job is sucking the creativity right out of them.

Be a good writer.

Write.

13. You believe when you’re writing about a topic you love, you’ll have no writer’s block

It happens to the best of writers.

Maybe you feel it’s not the best time to write. Maybe you’re afraid of putting out your ideas to the world. Maybe you’re a perfectionist and everything must be right before you touch a pen or keyboard.

Or maybe you’re just stuck creatively. No new ideas.

There are many suggestions on overcoming writer’s block or what Darren calls “bloggers’ block” which you can apply personally. And never feel that because you’re writing about something you love, you won’t have writers block.

Keep a notebook where you can write down ideas as they come to you. Or you may use an app on your phone to record ideas. (I use Jotterpad when I don’t have my notes with me). Over time, you’ll have more ideas than you can finish in a lifetime.

Trust me. Or just ask international freelance journalist Mridu Khullar Relph. According to her, she has three notebooks with ideas she can never finish in her lifetime. So her problem isn’t writer’s block, but picking ideas from her massive collection.

If writing ideas on your phone or notebook don’t help, forget it. Just write. After all, writer’s block stops you from writing. Overcome it by writing.

No excuses or justifications. Write.

Blog Promotion

14. You believe promoting your blog is something you do when you have time

For you, once you find time to write a post, the sense of accomplishment you feel is so great you forget something else.

Post promotion.

You’ve likely heard about the 80/20 principle of blog post promotion. That is: spend 20% of your time writing and 80% of your time promoting it.

Literally, it would mean if you use two hours to write a post, use eight hours to promote it. Or if you use two days to write a post, use eight days to promote it.

I’m sorry. It doesn’t always work that way. What if creating a post took you a week, would that literally mean spend 28 days promoting it?

Or what if you run a news blog and publish several posts daily?

There’s no rule set in stone. I believe that if you’re writing a post in 12 hours, you should spend at least 12 hours promoting it.

Bottom line is: If you make time to write, make time for promoting what you write.

15. You need profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google +, LinkedIn to successfully promote your blog

This is tempting.

I know you have just 24 hours in a day. Everybody does. So how do you build your following on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google +, LinkedIn and at the same time churn out great content consistently? It’s not possible.

Social media is important. But you can’t spend time on all of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google +, LinkedIn and expect to do well on any of them. Because concentration is even more important.

Pick one, at most two to three social media networks. Concentrate on them. Don’t divide your attention between all social networks under heaven.

Or you’ll never do well on any of them.

Making Money

16. You need an avalanche of traffic to make money from your blog

False.

The truth?

You don’t need thousands or hundreds of thousands of visitors to make money. With the right promotion and strategy, your very first visitor can mean your first bucks online.

I had a grand total of 122 visitors to my blog when I made my first dollar online.

Making money from a measly visitor count is possible too, except….

17. You think blog ads are the easiest way to make money online

Blog ads pay you peanuts. Earning money through ads is a painfully slow process. Without enough traffic, and I mean hundreds of thousands of visitors to your blog, the amount involved is so small it’s humiliating.

When you’re starting out, the fastest way of making money is by offering services.

Offer a coaching service. Offer consultancy. Offer to write for pay.

That’s the fastest way of making money from your blog. I offered writing services. That’s how I made my first dollar online.

When you do have enough traffic or enough subscribers, you can create and sell your own products, or do affiliate marketing.

Don’t think blog ads. At least not yet. Please.

18. You think making money from blogging is easy

Making money from blogging is everything but easy. Not trying to discourage you, but from these stats, 81% of bloggers never make $100 from blogging, let alone make enough to support themselves or a family.

Even if you’re trying to promote your blog or services on your blog through guest posting, you’ll never know how many rejections you’ll get before you get one post published on a top blog.

And even if your post is accepted and will potentially result in leads for your business, you don’t know how long it will take before it gets to your turn on the host blog’s content schedule.

If you’re using Facebook ads, you don’t know how many hundreds or thousands of dollars you’ll spend before you start getting some traction to your blog.

I could say same or worse about every other promotion strategies out there.

Blogging is not easy. But hardly anything worthwhile is.

19. You think blogging is easier than a 9 – 5 job

It actually depends on you and what kind of person you are.

The truth is: blogging is not for everyone.

With a day job, all you’ve got to do is be nice to your boss and do your work no matter how mind-numbing it is, and you’ll get paid your expected salary.

You’ll be paid the same amount whether you put in 70% effort or 150% effort in your job.

As a blogger, you’ve got to hustle. Hustle hard. The amount of effort you put in especially in the beginning is directly proportional to your ROI.

At a 9 – 5 job, your boss likely decides what you will or will not do.

In blogging, you may consume tons of information on what to do, but it’s solely your choice to decide what you will or will not do. And you won’t always make the right decisions.

I can go on and on.

Blogging is guts and perseverance. Blogging is falling and picking yourself up. Blogging is hard work.

It’s everything but easy.

20. You treat your blog like a hobby

Is blogging something you do because you’re bored to death and can’t think of nothing else?

Blogging is a business. Blogging is a job. Blogging is a profession.

You wake by 4am or earlier to start writing a blog post.

Let’s pretend playing cards is your hobby. I don’t believe you’ll wake by 3am just to play cards.

Your hard work and sacrifices from day to day and night to night is proof that blogging isn’t just a hobby.

So the next time someone asks you:

“What’s your job?”

Hold your head high and say:

“I’m a blogger.”

That’s why you need to start making money to show for it.

21. You think you should have (insert visitor or subscriber count here) before you start selling

You need to start selling from the day you launch your blog. Yes, you saw right.

You see, the earlier you start selling, the earlier you start making money, and the earlier you can hire needed help to handle parts of the business you suck at. Because let’s face it, you can’t do everything.

Money can be a good motivation to keep going even when you’re not getting traction to your blog. It’s easier to quit and give up when you’re making no money.

You may be a very good writer, but you’re terrible at handling technical stuff. The earlier you start making money, the earlier you’ll be able to outsource so you can focus on other parts of your business. And the faster you’ll grow your blog.

Start selling. Just don’t turn your blog into a massive sales pitch. And don’t be pushy. Because if you’re offering something your audience wants and needs, they will purchase it.

22. You don’t invest in your blog and yourself

Blogging isn’t necessarily cheap. You pay for hosting, you pay for email marketing services, you pay for plugins, you pay for software, you pay for custom design. Those costs add up.

As a blogger, it’s a good idea to invest in yourself. When was the last time you bought a book on how to improve your writing or blogging skills? When was the last time you took a blogging course? When was the last time you attended a blogging webinar?

See why you need to make money now?

Miscellaneous

23. You have no blogging goals

Which blogs are you planning to guest post on?

What must you achieve this month to feel you’re making progress with your blog?

Where do you see your blog six months from now?

If you’re scratching your head right now, then you need to start setting goals for your blogging.

Write down specific goals you have for your blogging. Qualify and quantify them.

Don’t settle for your existing conditions.

24. You don’t measure the value of what you do

Facebook ads or guest posting? Twitter and Facebook or Google + and Pinterest? Writing or hiring writers?

Do you know which of the above gives you more ROI? You should.

What’s the point?

If Facebook ads brings you more subscribers or customers as compared with guest posting on other blogs, concentrate on it. It doesn’t mean guest posting is bad or produces poor ROI. Maybe you just suck at it. Hire someone to help you write guest posts then.

Same applies to the other questions above.

Don’t waste time doing stuff you’re just not good at or stuff that bring you low ROI.

It’s best to start measuring your time in this way. Not just for increase in customers or clients, but for subscriber growth and traffic.

25. You don’t measure success financially

How do you define success?

Is it getting a guest post published on ProBlogger? Is it gaining new subscribers or customers? Is it getting emails from readers who have been moved by your post?

“Success” is an ambiguous term. All three questions asked above may define “success” to you. But don’t fail to think of “financial success.”

After all, that’s the dream right? Working full-time as a blogger, and getting paid to change the world.

You can’t do that if you have no financial goals. You can’t do it if you have no money. You can’t do it if you can’t afford to invest in your blog.

So start thinking: what financial goals do you have for your blogging? How much should you earn from your blog to be successful financially?

26. You try too hard to be original

Almost all topics in every blogging niche have been done bazillion times. If you’re insisting on originality, you’ll hardly get anything published.

Find ways to approach tried and tested topics from new angles. You won’t go wrong with that.

Or are you trying to invent an original marketing technique because available ones are not working for you?

Let me tell you the truth.

If they’re not working, you’re doing it wrong. Just keep practicing until you get it right. Then maybe you can add your own “style” to it.

Conclusion

Don’t be disheartened. Making mistakes is not the end of the world. Learn from each mistake you make. I still make some of these mistakes personally.

Seek the story of any popular blogger out there, you’ll find they made mistakes too, again and again and again.

But they learned. Because life is a teacher. The more you live, the more you learn.

And more importantly, the more you practice and put yourself out there, the more you’ll realize what works and what doesn’t.

Falling by making mistakes is part of life. Getting back up is living.And you should live.

Remember those naysayers who ask you jeeringly: “Does anyone make money blogging?” Remember your friends who believe dreaming of a career online is insanity? Remember how frustrated you’ve felt at your blogging efforts that you just let the tears flow?

You’ve come a long way.

You can do it.

Don’t give up.

What blogging mistakes have you made or learnt from? Which has hit you or your blogging hardest? Let me know in the comments section below.

Iniobong Eyo is a content marketing strategist who helps businesses grow by planning, developing and managing their content. He writes at The Refinement Blog.

Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately?

Reading Roundup: What's new in blogging this week / ProBlogger.net

Welcome to the weekend! (Well, Friday if you’re in the northern hemisphere!). Where we are it’s the wind up of summer school holidays, the last weekend before routine and structure begins. Wherever you are, I hope it’s a great one.

Let’s learn stuff!

What’s new in blogging this week

12 Work Hacks to Keep You Sharp And Focused Throughout the Day // Huffington Post Australia

I’m a big fan of #9 and I will tell anyone who sits still long enough to listen. If you work from home especially, pay attention!

10 Must-Read Resources That’ll Change The Way You Write Blog Posts, Emails, Optins and More // Edgar

If you don’t know, then learn from the experts! Edgar have rounded up the top advice they’ve read on the most common issues we all face.

Top 6 Mistakes Marketers Make on YouTube Influencer Campaigns // Kissmetrics

This post will be useful to you both if you are a marketer looking to work with YouTubers, and also bloggers who are looking to work with brands. Find the gap in the relationship that leads to these six mistakes and do your best to plug it.

How to Craft the Perfect Tweet // Enterpreneur

Nailing the perfect combination that readers can’t help but engage with.

11 Things to Do Now to Keep Your AdWords Healthy in 2016 // Search Engine Land

Nobody wants to upset Google, so jump on the trends for this year and ensure that when you create (and pay for!) an ad, that it’s getting seen by the right people.

How to Find Amazing Content for Your Social Media Calendar (and Save Yourself Hours of Work!) // Business2Community

If you’re looking for other content to share to balance out your own, this post has tons of great ideas.

images-social-media

How to Use Images on Social Media to Add Value Part 1: Social Media Images, Sizes, Best Practices,and Tools // Top Rank Blog

Quite a number of image-creation programs I’ve not used before, have you?

15 Hidden Instagram Hacks and Features Everyone Should Know About // Hubspot

I love number one, but it requires also contravening my life laws from the first link, so I don’t do it. I was also pretty impressed with the flight mode stuff. Creep away!

How to Convert Blog Traffic into Customers with CTAs: The Complete Guide // Grow & Convert

I love anytime someone walks me through a Google Analytics Goal and this is no exception. Don’t forget to sign up to be notified when the other posts in the series are published.

How to Get Featured on Large Publications Without Guest Posting // Sumome

A fantastic idea for those of us who have huge back catalogues, but not much time to create new content for other publications. Let me know if it works for you!

So what have you learned this week? Happy to chat in the comments!

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama, follow on Pinterest for fun and useful tips, peek behind the curtain on Instagram, or be entertained on Facebook.

8 Tips for Busy Bloggers – How to Make the Most of the Time You Have

8 Tips for Busy Bloggers - How to Make the Most of the Time You Have

Finding time to blog is something that all bloggers struggle with.

 

It doesn’t matter what level of blogging you’re at – whether it’s dabbling as a hobby or working full time online, the hours we devote to blogging can be hard to find for all of us.

I actually struggle at being productive the most when my timeframes are limited – I have experimented with plenty of workflows and routines to try and keep on top of it, and recently when I realised I needed to pay more attention to my health, I changed them up again.

In this episode of the ProBlogger podcast, I go through eight ways you can be productive and make great use of what time you do have, and share my story of what I’ve learned over the years truly works and is truly sustainable.

If you’re struggling with spending your time well, or even finding the time to blog to start with, this episode is for you.

I’ll outline how to organise your priorities, complete your tasks, create editorial calendars, coming up with content ideas, and other tips on how to stay focused when you really need it.

You can find the show notes for episode 82 here.

Further Reading:

 

How to Triple Your SEO Efforts Just By Blogging

How to Triple Your SEO Efforts Just By Blogging

This is a guest contribution from Julia McCoy.

If you’re like most bloggers, you’re probably wondering how you can produce huge results, the kind other bloggers retire doing. Or, you’re looking to gain a serious boost for your business via blogging, but not sure how to get rolling.

Fortunately, this success isn’t just blind luck – it is the direct result of a series of efforts you can apply to your own blog.

If you’re looking to increase your SEO, blogging is the first and most important step. According to HubSpot’s 2015 blogging frequency benchmark data, companies that blog earn 97% more inbound links than companies that do not. Additionally, companies that post more than 16 blog posts each month get roughly 3.5 times more traffic than companies that publish four or fewer posts each month. (We recently gained over 300 keyword positions in a single day—and it was 100% through our content & blogging.)

Read on to learn more about the SEO importance of blogging and how you can triple your SEO efforts through regular, high-quality posts.

Blogging 101: Why it’s so Darn Important for SEO

When it comes to SEO, there is arguably nothing more important than blogging. In order for content to rank well, there has to be content in the first place and multiple industry leaders have shown that companies that blog regularly do better than companies that don’t. 

HubSpot’s aforementioned blogging frequency benchmark data shows that when small companies with 1-10 employees publish more than 11 posts each month, their sites get three times as much traffic as companies of the same size that publish only one post per month. What’s more, sites with 11 posts each month earn twice as much traffic as companies that publish between 2-5 posts each month.

For slightly larger companies, the results are comparable: companies with between 26-200 employees that publish more than 11 posts per month get twice as much traffic than companies who only publish one post each month.

It’s obvious that blogging frequency really does matter and that, in order to boost traffic and improve SEO, you need to produce relevant, useful content on a regular basis.

One of the main reasons for this is that old blog posts stick around long after they’ve been published. In fact, when HubSpot conducted a study of their own blogging traffic, they found that 90% of the leads their blog produced actually came from old posts. That said, it’s possible to generate, in equal parts, traffic from both old and new content, as long as you know how to create content that is genuinely interesting and valuable.

How to Blog for SEO: 6 Takeaway Tips

Now that you know how important blogging is for SEO, here are 6 tips to help you blog better and produce better results.

1. Create quality content

This may seem obvious, but creating content is one of the most important aspects of SEO. This is because each post you write adds a new SEO page that has the potential to be crawled and indexed by Google. Additionally, each new post can be optimized for unique long-tail keywords which allows bloggers to create pages full of new ranking opportunities. Blogs also offer the opportunity for high-quality backlinks and plenty of organic traffic to your site.

2. Write attention-grabbing headlines

If you do it right, every post you write can create high-quality traffic that gets you noticed. Unfortunately, most people don’t do this right. This is because they focus only on getting content written and distributed rather than creating viral content that maintains its value. The first secret to doing the latter is to make sure that your headlines are irresistible.

Eight out of 10 people read headlines while only two out of 10 read body copy, so you can bet that people will click through to your blog if you get your headline right. Need an example? Consider Upworthy for a moment. Upworthy launched two years ago and now boasts viral posts and 88 million visitors, which makes it more popular by visitor numbers than the Huffington Post, Business Insider, and Buzzfeed. The secret to Upworthy’s success? Attention-grabbing headlines first of all, and then minimal sharing buttons and the use of short, intriguing videos to grab users.

How to Triple Your SEO Efforts Just By Blogging

Once you’ve mastered killer headlines, you’ll want to ensure that your content is the correct length. At Express Writers, our blogs are generally between 1000-3000 words and Buzzsumo has found that its most popular posts range between 3000-10,000 words.

3. Solve your readers’ problems

No matter how quality your content is or how shocking your headlines are, it isn’t going to carry you to SEO and sales success if it doesn’t pertain directly to your readers. This means that, in order for your blogging efforts to work in favor of your SEO standing, you need to understand your audience very well. You should know what they’re interested in and which problems they’re struggling with and you should be able to synthesize new content ideas that will help make their lives easier.

To get a better handle on who your audience is and what they want, use sites like Quora to get involved in niche-specific conversations and then head to BuzzSumo for help in creating and generating new ideas for content. BuzzSumo allows users to plug in keywords and see what other related topics have gone viral on social media. Another great tool for this same purpose is Ubersuggest, which is fantastic for generating ideas for blog posts and advertises itself as “Google suggest on steroids.”   

4. Make it evergreen

It’s one thing for your posts to be attention-grabbing but it’s entirely another for them to hold their value throughout the months or years. This is where Evergreen topics come in. According to Moz, evergreen content offers “continued and sustained success.” To put it another way, evergreen content doesn’t rely upon passing trend and it doesn’t rely on the re-posting of old content. Rather, it uses foundational industry truths as topics from which to branch out. Examples in the world of blogging include “How to Blog – The Steps to a Successful Blog Start,” “Revealed: 19 Things to Know Before You Start a Blog” and ProBlogger’s own “How to Blog: Blogging Tips for Beginners.” These posts all take one evergreen topic (blogging) and offer helpful tips and tricks on the subject. Because of this, these posts aren’t going to come into and out of fashion. Instead, they will continue to be highly searched-for and will continue to be a major source of traffic for their home sites.

5. Use long tail Keywords

Long tail keywords are and have always been a big traffic factor for bloggers. Take Search Engine Journal, for example, who noted a huge 78% jump in traffic after optimizing their content for long-tail keywords. In order to optimize content for long tail keywords, it’s important to create extensively researched, lengthy, valuable content that utilizes your long-tail keywords in a natural way.

Since long tail keywords show you what your users are looking to do, there’s a high probability that content optimized for them will produce far better conversions than content that is not. Additionally, longtail keywords can help you understand how to better structure content in order to solve a searcher’s problems or provide value for their needs.

6. Use CTAs to collect emails

As of 2013, there were more than 3.6 billion email addresses worldwide with upwards of 247 million emails sent on a daily basis. According to many email marketing experts, for every $1.00 bloggers spend on email marketing tactics, they earn $42.00. If you need an example, you can think about QuickSprout, which created a revenue of $43k from one email blast over a single 24-hour period.

That said, it’s wise to collect emails every time someone visits your site. Do this through a special landing page or embed email popups or subscription forms throughout your blog. Accompany these with powerful CTAs and then use the gathered emails for email marketing down the road. In order to get the most emails possible, ensure that your site is structured properly and easy to use. This means that your site should be compatible for all devices and very readable (in terms of font type and actual writing). The site should also load quickly and be easy to navigate. When your site provides a positive experience for users, people are much more likely to click and subscribe than they would be for a difficult site that wasn’t intuitive.

Conclusion

While increasing SEO can be confusing, it’s obvious that blogging does in fact have a large impact on SEO. Follow these 6 tips to help you blog better, increase SEO rankings, and make more sales. Happy blogging!

Julia is a serial entrepreneur and content marketer, and the founder of Express Writers; she loves to blog and is a soon-to-be published author.

Are You Ignoring This All-Important Aspect of Your Blog?

Are You Ignoring This All-Important Aspect of Your Blog?

This is a guest contribution from Larry Alton.

Content may be king to a successful blogger, but layout and design are also important aspects.

Unfortunately, this is a topic that doesn’t come naturally to most bloggers. In fact, it can be a point of conflict for bloggers who have no graphic design background.

Sound familiar? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. With the intuitive information and guidance found in this post, you’ll be able to take action and give your blog a simple adjustment it drastically needs. 

Study Consumption Patterns

Every blog is different, but users often consume information and interact with content in similar ways. Over the years, web designers have studied trends and determined that two design patterns stand above the rest. Let’s take a look:

F-Pattern design

Various eye-tracking studies have shown that many web surfers prefer to read the screen in an “F” pattern. In other words, they start by looking at the top of a web page and ultimately drift further and further down the left-hand side of the page. Only occasionally do they gravitate towards the right-hand portion of a page. The takeaway is that the most important elements of a website should be on the left side of the design.

Z-Pattern design

While similar to the F-Pattern, the Z-Pattern design has some slight nuances. This theory says that users follow the shape of a Z when consuming content. That is, they start in the upper left-hand corner of the screen and proceed horizontally to the upper right-hand portion before moving diagonally to the bottom left and across to the right.

The F and Z patterns are obviously generalizations, but the principles gleaned from these design techniques can be applied to any website or blog. Using a scroll heat map, you may be able to figure out just how far down your pages users are venturing before clicking through to another page. With this information, you can then increase conversion rates and reduce bounces.

By using a heat scroll map, you may also discover that certain design elements on your blog aren’t serving much of a purpose. In Darren’s recent podcast about How to Give Your Blog Design a Spring Clean, he touched on the importance of refreshing layouts and visual elements to maximize results. Specifically, he started with two simple questions:

“What do you want people to do on your blog?

“Are you reflecting that in your design?”

Darren then discussed some simple, yet effective solutions to improving your blog layout in a practical manner. While he mentioned a number of helpful tips, we’re going to dig a little deeper into one tip in particular: decluttering your blog sidebar.

How to Declutter Your Blog Sidebar in 4 Easy Steps

Over time, your blog’s sidebar grows. You add a link here and a tool there, and before you know it your sidebar is the equivalent of that messy junk drawer in your kitchen. While you may not consciously think about your growing sidebar, now is the time to give it a little TLC. Here are some targeted tips for decluttering that sidebar so that you can speed up your site, eliminate distractions, and improve the visual layout of your blog.

1. Set Your Priorities

The first thing you have to do is set your priorities and metrics for determining what stays and what goes. The best method of prioritizing sidebar elements is by analyzing each individual one and asking two questions: Is this element serving my blog’s goals? Is this element serving my visitors’ needs?

If the answer to both of these questions is “no,” then there’s nothing else to think about. Go ahead and hit the delete button! If the answer is “yes” to both, then you can feel good about leaving well enough alone. Things get a little murky when you have one yes and one no. Weigh the pros and cons and err on the side of removing the element if you can’t definitively say that it adds value.

2. Delete These Elements

Right off the bat, there are some clunky elements that you can delete. The first is the “Tag Cloud.” These are the groupings of the most commonly used words on your blog. While they may look cool at first, the reality is that nobody uses them. They just take up space.

The next thing you should delete is that blog roll. While a good link to a relevant blog may be helpful, the fact is these links take away from your site by driving traffic to different URLs. They also take up a lot of room.

Finally, consider deleting the recent comments section from your sidebar. The reason is that nobody cares to read comments out of context. Furthermore, if spammers regularly comment on posts, your sidebar will end up being nothing more than a real-time spam feed.

3. Highlight Popular Posts

Most blogs are set up in a format that highlights the most recent posts in the sidebar. While there’s nothing wrong with this, people can get the same information by simply visiting the first page of your blog. Instead, use this space to highlight popular posts. This will increase your click through rates and provide more value in the long run.

4. Understanding What Stays

So, what stays in the sidebar? Well, you’ll definitely want an opt-in form to collect user’s email addresses, a mini bio with picture to highlight who you are, and a convenient search bar. Past this, nothing is mandatory. Remember, only keep an element in your sidebar if it serves the needs of your visitors or satisfies the goals of your blog.

Make Layout and Design a Priority

While every blog is different, the reality is that most users interact with blogs in similar ways. If you study the consumption patterns of your users, you’ll notice that your cluttered sidebar likely adds very little value to your blog. In fact, it may take away from the primary conversion goals you’ve established. Paying attention to these behavioral patterns and decluttering your sidebar may allow you to experience higher conversion rates and longer site visits.

Nobody is telling you to skimp on content. Your content is obviously the most critical component of having a successful blog. However, you can’t afford to ignore layout and design. By combining the right layout with relevant content, you can transform an average blog into a valuable, high-converting industry resource that attracts readers, advertisers, and influencers alike. And while you may have never realized it in the past, decluttering your sidebar can play a major role in this transformation process.

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

14 Types of Stories You Can Tell on Your Blog

14 Types of Stories You Can Tell on Your Blog - never be stuck for a post idea again! On ProBlogger.net

We all know storytelling is one of the key aspects of successful blogging. If you can weave a story around your words, no matter what your niche or topic, it is more likely to entertain your readers and resonate with them.

Even if you think you aren’t much of a writer or storyteller, you can still find one of these story types discussed today that will be useful and relevant for your blog – following on from Episode 80 of the ProBlogger podcast where I discuss what to say when you’ve got nothing left to say, hopefully these should give you some ideas on how to craft your words so you can stand out as a unique and interesting blogger.

In this episode I discuss these story types and how to get the best out of them (with examples!)

  • Personal discovery stories
  • Analogies and illustrations
  • Success stories
  • Failure stories
  • Someone else’s story
  • “How I Did It” stories
  • Biographies
  • Picture stories
  • Case studies
  • Fiction
  • Reader stories
  • Collection stories
  • “Imagine if” stories

Then go forth and shake up your usual writing routine with the age-old tradition of sharing stories for connection. Let me know how you go – does this kind of writing come naturally to you? Or is it out of your usual style?

You can find the show notes for episode 81 of the ProBlogger podcast 14 Types of Stories You can Tell on Your Blog at ProBlogger.com.

Further Reading:

 

5 Ways to Eliminate About Page Anxiety

This is a guest contribution from Natalie Gowen.

Today I’m talking About Pages. Or, rather, I’m talking about About Pages. Either way – please don’t go screaming from the room.

Yes, your About Page is one of the most important pages on your site. Yes, it can make a deep emotional connection with your readers. Yes, your About Page can grow your readership and increase your business with tremendous effectiveness.

And yes! About Pages are the hardest pages to write. If you suffer from About Page Anxiety, you are not alone.

Getting clients to hand over About Page content for their website is the most dangerous part of my job. It’s like taking candy from a baby – where the baby is a starving lion and the candy is a fresh gazelle.

It doesn’t have to be that way. You can stand up to About Page Anxiety. You can write a compelling story about your site. You can tell writer’s block to go bother someone else. You can be the proud owner of an About Page that sells you and your blog and convinces people to keep reading.

All it takes is 5 simple elements:

1. Tell your readers why they should care.

When a new visitor comes to your About Page they want to know one thing – what’s in it for them? Answer that question and you also give your readers a reason to dive deeper into your site or add you to their bookmarks.

Your benefits can be real or intangible, either way – be clear about what your blog offers. For example:

You’re a humor writer and a mom – readers care because a good laugh brightens their day, and hey, at least they’re not cleaning poo-based finger paint off the walls.

You’re a business coach – they care because their dreams are like a frozen computer and you can teach them how to reboot.

You’re a fitness blogger – they care because you provide daily motivation to move a little bit more than they did yesterday.

Starting off your About Page by focusing on your reader is the best way to spark a connection.

2. Give them reason to believe you.

Giving people a reason to care about your blog and sharing the benefits you offer can lead you to make some pretty big claims. Using the examples from above:

The humorous mom can make her readers problems fade into the background with a few minutes of laughter.

The business coach gives hope that a side gig can become a full-time job.

The fitness blogger sells a vision of his reader’s future self, the one that can jump off the couch and keep up with the kids.

To help your readers believe you, they need to trust you.  Do you have a degree? Are you featured on top blogs in your niche? Do you have clients that adore you? Is the proof in the (social media) pudding?

Your About Page is the best to explain enough about yourself that readers know you’re not just blowing smoke.

3. Get personal

Your readers will come back for the benefits you provide, but they will connect deeper if they can tell you are a real person, with real struggles and real victories.

Getting personal doesn’t have to mean divulging every last detail about your life. If you want to retain some privacy, let your personality show by sharing:

  • Your values
  • Your interests and hobbies
  • Your goals, hopes and dreams for the future

Most of all – make sure you include a good, clear picture of yourself. It’s always easier to like someone if you can see their eyes.

4. Be available

Don’t play hard to get.  After all, blogging is about connection – so be reachable. If someone really resonates with your purpose and wants to reach out, let them. You can make it easy:

  • Using your website’s email forms
  • Sharing your email address as an embedded link
  • Adding links to social media and connecting off the blog

5. Extend an Invitation

Readers on your About Page have knocked on your door. Are you going to let them in?

Like vampires, first-time visitors to your blog need a specific invitation to go deeper into your website or come closer to becoming your client. Otherwise, they’ll close the browser and will soon forget all about you.

The best invitations are extended as a Call to Action. CTAs are traffic building, business-growing workhorses. The key to an effective CTA is to:

  • Be direct
  • Be relevant
  • Be simple

If you’ve covered the first four About Page elements, you’ll be surprised what readers will do.  They’ll follow you on social media, join your email list, read more posts or even buy your products. You just have to ask.

The Long & Short of About Pages

When you break it down, your About Page should be pretty simple. Whether you write in first or third person, it doesn’t really matter. If it’s long or short, that doesn’t matter, either.

At the end of the day, if you’ve covered the 5 main elements let your About Page be uniquely yours and kick About Page Anxiety out the door.

Natalie Gowen is a brand and marketing strategist for creative and passionate entrepreneurs. As part of her mission to eradicate boring About Pages, she’s the author of the e-course and workbook, About Page Mashup 

Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately?

Reading Roundup: What's new in blogging this week / ProBlogger.net

So much stuff to pack into one weekly roundup here! If you’re thinking about growing your social platforms, or wrestling your inbox to submission, then read on…

Six Marks of Effective Content: The Lego Movie Edition // Copyblogger

Do all your blog posts meet these criteria? If not, then you might find they’re getting lost among the crowded blogosphere.

23 Tools and Tips for Social Media Marketers // Social Media Examiner

If you were listening a few weeks ago, you would have noticed me mention the BuzzSumo Chrome extension and how good it is for calculating tweets of your posts even though tweet shares are not being counted any more. This post recommends you download it for a ton of other cool features, and also give a heads up about Evernote hacks, Facebook security settings, sharing plugins, replay your live streams and more.

Create Coding Magic // Elembee

If you’re still in the beginner stages of coding, like me, then you won’t want to miss this free short video course on basic coding tricks for things like website tweaks and email signup buttons. I learned so much!

How to Spend Less Time on Email: 12 Tips For Keeping Your Inbox Under Control // Hubspot

If your inbox is anything like mine, you’d be desperate to keep it at a level that doesn’t make your brain explode. I like these tips (especially the ruthlessly unsubscribe bit, although I’ve had trouble with unroll.me before), but number 3 is my saviour.

7 Ways to Reach Your Target Market on Facebook // Social Media Today

Not all of these tips will be relevant, but they are useful. I’ve not heard good things about the Facebook business pages though, and plenty of people I’ve talked to would like to change theirs back. Have you had much luck with it?

How Snapchat is Targeting the Over-35 Crowd // LA Times

Because older people is where the money’s at, of course. But is that maybe where your audience is at, too?

The Untold Story Behind Vincent van Gogh’s Success // Jeff Goins

If you’ve hit a wall, or feel like you’re not getting where you should be by now, then read this. Then, read this.

Twitter’s New Rules Explicity Crack Down on “Hateful Conduct” // Mashable

If you were one of the people from last week who agreed with the BBC that the internet has gotten nastier recently, then take heart in knowing that Twitter has announced they will not tolerate “behavior designed to harass, intimidate or silence another user’s voice through fear”.

Case Study: How We Gained More than 100 Links for a Travel Website via Content Marketing // Moz

Jumping on a trend definitely helps. I like how they’ve broken tasks down to make it easier to understand and to replicate. More links: better search results.

The Top 8 Design Trends to Watch This Year // Hubspot

This infographic gives a fantastic visual representation of what’s going to be hot on blogs this year. Do any of them appeal to you? Is it time to give your blog a makeover?

What’s caught your eye this week?

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama, follow on Pinterest for fun and useful tips, peek behind the curtain on Instagram, or be entertained on Facebook.

What to Write About When You Feel Like You’ve Got Nothing Unique to Say

What to Write About When You Feel Like You've Got Nothing Unique Left to SayIf you’re still on holidays, or are up to your ears in start-of-the-year business, today’s episode of the ProBlogger podcast is a short and sweet one, designed to be easy to listen to.

Why Your Story Will Always Be Interesting to Someone

If you’ve been blogging for some time, you can come to feel as though you’ve already said all you wanted to say, or feel as though you’re competing in an over-saturated market where everyone in your niche is saying the same thing – or they’ve already said it, and they’re saying it better than you. You’re not alone.

I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t matter if there are writers out there that are smarter or funnier than you.

Your story will always be unique – and there is someone out there who needs to hear these words from you. Not from your cleverer competitor, but your particular story, your special brand of relating to your readers.

In today’s episode I talk about how you can infuse your writing to ensure you stand out from the crowd with your own voice.

You can find the show notes here.

Further Reading: