Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately?

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

Think Reddit is a Productivity Killer? Here are 9 Subreddits That Will Help Your Career // Hootsuite

You don’t need to tell me twice Reddit is required reading! Bookmarked nearly all of these pages.

How to Create a Fan Content Campaign in 7 Easy Steps // Social Media Examiner

Crowdsourced content can work really well – from fostering a sense of community to giving readers more ownership over the content of yours they’ve come to love. SME gives you the lowdown.

Can Email Finally Be Killed off? // The Telegraph

Not for life, but for work? Seems like everyone’s jumping on the email-killer program bandwagon. Stay tuned…

9 Types of Blog Posts that are Proven to Boost Traffic // CoSchedule

Not just list posts! I bet you could do any one of these and make it work. Plus a free downloadable worksheet!

10 Things I’ve Learned While Learning Facebook Ads // Moz

“I’m obsessed because I’m convinced Facebook Ads are one of the most powerful tools we currently have as digital marketers,” says Kane Jamieson. I kind of agree. Love the way they’ve set out the learnings in the ‘quick guide’ too.

Reading Roundup: What's New in Blogging Lately? (favourite photo editing tools)

The Best Photo Editing Apps Chosen by You // Hootsuite

Speaking of crowd-sourced content, Hootsuite asked their followers what their favourite mobile editing apps are – the usuals are represented (Snapseed, VSCO Cam etc) but also a couple of surprises. Check them out if you’re bored with what you’ve got.

Goodbye Socality Barbie: Instagram’s Greatest Star has Quit // Social Media Today

Oh this is sad. RIP Socality Barbie. Thanks for the laffs.

Dropbox’s Google Docs Competitor is Launching Next Year // Mashable

If you’re a rabid Google Docs user (they’re just so handy!) or someone looking for an alternative, Dropbox’s code-named ProjectComposer has turned out to be a Docs-like program called Dropbox Paper and you can sign up for the beta here.

15 Ways to Maximise Your Productivity with Google Drive // BetterCloud Blog

If you’re still here, though… why not boost your productivity? Can’t hurt!

Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule // Paul Graham

An oldie, but a goodie. I refer to it often. Is your schedule running you or are you running your schedule? Tim Ferriss in his email this week said he got to a point where “my agenda became a list of everyone else’s agendas”, and I know plenty of you out there will understand that feeling. Are you spending too much time answering email, doing tiny tasks, catering to others instead of creating? Let’s make a change.

So what have you learned this week? Ready to ditch email? Boost your productivity? Going to make a change with your schedule?

PS you might have noticed we have new sharing buttons over there to your left – why don’t you try them out on this post?!

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of 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 or be entertained on Facebook.

15 Questions to Ask to Help Identify Your Blogging Niche or Focus

15 Questions to Ask to Help Identify Your Blogging Niche or FocusIn today’s episode of the ProBlogger podcast I wanted to talk about the nitty gritty of defining what your blog is about. Not just to pigeonhole anybody, or to put any constraints on your creativity, but to help you hone in on what you want to provide and how you want to come across online.

This is a question that’s particularly important to think on when you’re first starting out (although experimentation is also encouraged!), but still useful when you’re already established to ensure you’re working within your goals. It’s also ok to change your mind as you go!

Most successful blogs do have a niche or a topic, and in many cases it’s the reader demographic and not so much the topic niche that drives the content. You can cover a large amount of topics if your readers are parents, or retirees – topics can really depend more on the audience than the niche itself.

If you’re struggling with defining your niche, then I’ve got 15 questions for you to ponder – grab a pen and a notebook and jot down your answers as they come to you, and hopefully by then end you will see some themes emerging… and some focus for your site.

You can hear the podcast and questions below, and find the show notes over at episode 59 of the ProBlogger podcast here.

Further Reading:

The Complete Bloggers’ Guide to Web Hosting

This is a guest contribution from Jerry Low.

Blog hosting can be a confusing thing to navigate, particularly if you’re new to the blogging game or just striking out with your own domain. If you look at WordPress’ previous official web hosting company recommendations, there are three hosting companies suggested – DreamHost, Laughing Squid, and BlueHost.

While I fully agree that these three are quality hosting companies, I wouldn’t label them as the best WordPress hosting choice for every blogger.

For example, DreamHost is a bit pricey for someone looking for an option that fits into a tight budget. The servers at BlueHost could be too packed for someone looking for extra reliability and CPU power. Laughing Squid is not a choice I’d recommend for a newbie or a non-techie.

Just because one host is one man’s meat, it could be another man’s poison. A lot depends on your specific needs as a blogger, your budget and even which features you may want to add to your site in the future.

With that in mind, I want to teach you how to pick the right web host for your blog instead of following others’ recommendations blindly.

What makes a good web host? 7 must-know factors

1. Reasonable Price

Some hosting providers target uninformed shoppers and are extremely overpriced. This is why it is important to compare multiple web hosting companies and what they offer in their packages.

User Friendly Control Panel: Both cPanel or vDeck are easy to use and there are many online tutorials on various blogs to talk you through their use. Beware of a customer built dashboard. They are very hit or miss and can be downright painful to use sometimes.

2. Helpful Customer and Technical Support

Make sure you can contact the host 24/7 for tech support. In addition, there should be multiple ways to contact the hosting company, such as via email, a ticket system on their website, and via telephone.

3. Reliable Server Uptime

There is no excuse for repeated downtime. The site simply must be up most of the time. It is best to try for a site that has a 99.9% uptime guarantee. 99.5% is (just) okay, but the 99.9% is preferable. Make sure they offer a guarantee. Don’t just take their word for it either. Track your site’s uptime with tools like Uptime Robot and Pingdom.

4. Payment Plans

You have to be comfortable with the payment plan. I’m okay with a yearly subscription if there is a decent discount, but other people want more flexibility. Just because you don’t mind a yearly subscription now doesn’t mean that’s the way it will always be either. Look for a host with more flexibility, such as 1-, 6-, 12-, 24-month subscriptions.

5. Easy to Manage

The control panel should allow you to easily install WordPress or the content management system you want with a few clicks. If it is too complicated to install the software, you’ll wind up paying fees to have a techie do it and then your budget will be blown. Check out the demo control panel before signing on with a hosting company to be sure you can easily complete the tasks you’ll need to.

6. e-Commerce Features

If you need or think you might need in the future e-Commerce solutions, make sure you have access to SSH access, SSL certificates and even easy to install shopping cart platforms.

7. Room to Grow

Is the hosting company one you can grow with as your site grows? Can you upgrade to a VPS or a dedicated server? While it’s smart to start off with a good shared hosting account, you may quickly grow to a point where it just makes sense to upgrade. You don’t want to have to move your whole site if you don’t have to.

Understanding your hosting needs

It’s important to evaluate the specific needs you have for a hosting company. Otherwise you may fall into the trap of blindly following the advice of others and wind up with a hosting company that doesn’t meet your needs as a blogger.

Questions to ask yourself or your hosting provider:

Do you need email hosting?

Do you want [email protected]? If yes, then you will need to stick with hosting companies that provide email hosting. Keep in mind that an email with your domain name looks more professional.

Do you need large storage for media files?

For example, do you plan to upload unique videos, infographics, or high resolution photos? If yes, you will need to get a host that offers large storage solutions. However, be wary of hosting services with unlimited storage as some of them will limit your storage usage by capping on your inode usage. Ask your web host before signing up about inode usage. Anything below 100,000 inodes on a shared web host is unacceptable.

Do you expect the site to grow fast?

If yes, then you probably need to stick with a web host that provides room to grow. More traffic = more data transfer and CPU power. Look at the cost of bigger packages and private hosting. Some hosting companies offer a cheap rate for small packages, but charge much more than they should for larger ones.

What other additional services you need?

Do you need server root access? Do you need someone to backup your site for you or automated backup? Do you need automated malware scanning? These could be deciding factors on your hosting choice.

What is your level of hosting knowledge?

Do you need spoon-fed support or you can pretty much cover everything yourself? Do you prefer phone calls over live chat; or vice versa? If you have very little knowledge, look for a hosting company that caters to newbies or offers inexpensive tech support packages.

Can you tweak and secure the WordPress yourself?

Do you need a developer to do it for you instead (some hosting companies provide web development services)? Check carefully the cost of such developer services. Does the company charge by the hour or by the task? Will they teach you to manage your own backend on the server or will you be paying them for all eternity to update your site?

Is the server location important?

If you are not planning to use a CDN, then you probably want a server that is closest to your blog targeted audience so your blog loads faster for them.

Protecting yourself from a bad web host

There is nothing worse than paying for a year upfront only to realize your blog hosting company is downright horrid. There are some things you can do to protect yourself from a bad web host, though.

  • Register your domain name with a third party registrar even if the hosting package comes with a free domain name (use that free one for a domain to park on top of your main one). NameCheap and GoDaddy are my two favorites for registering a domain.
  • Check if the web host IP is black listed – use Spamhaus Block List.

Once you’ve already committed to a website:

  • Track your site uptime using free tools like Uptime Robot and Pingdom.
  • Backup your site regularly. Even if the web hosting company offers a free site restore/backup option, backup your site anytime you do a major update. There are many nightmare stories about complete websites being lost forever.
  • Ensure that all files are using the correct CHMOD permissions. CHMOD permissions range from 000 (no access) to 777 (full access). You can use a FTP tool to check and set the right permissions on each folder and file. Filezilla or Cute FTP are two examples, but there are many free and paid FTP software solutions out there. Choose the one that is easiest for you to use. Typically, you can right click on the folder on your web server within your FTP program and see what the permissions are set to.
  • Use a strong password and change it regularly just in case your password is stolen by someone working in the hosting company.

So how do you pick a good host for your blog?

types of web hosting

If you are just getting started with blogging:

  • Pick a web host that you can afford for at least 2 years. Your blog may not make any money at all, particularly at first, so you want to be sure you don’t have to shut the blog down because of lack of funds.
  • A reliable shared web host should be good enough for now. Just remember to check about space limitations and check uptime.
  • Right now you should focus on building useful content and growing your community. You should spend more on marketing and content. Get a good newsletter service and start building your email list, start social media marketing ads, get in touch with local bloggers and hire them to promote your blog, etc.
  • Ask questions about customer service and if they will help you understand running a website because you are new to blogging.

For seasoned bloggers:

  • As part of your job now is to make sure your readers can navigate smoothly within your blog. You need a very reliable and fast web host.
  • You should track your site uptime and response speed with tools like Pingdom and Uptime Robot.
  • Monitor your blog memory usage and know your limit – once your blog hits 80% of the allocated memory (this the usual bottleneck you’ll first bump into with shared hosting), then it’s time to consider upgrading to VPS hosting.
  • Also, consider using an SSD hosting for faster site speed.

Do hosting reviews matter?

As someone who makes a living writing hosting reviews, even I would say that it depends. Sometimes reviews don’t matter at all, because:

  1. Hosting reviews are sometime useless as reviews are affected by commission payouts (although many of us try to keep things unbiased as much as possible).
  2. Real users who are not affiliated with web hosting companies and write feedback are either very upset with the service or extremely happy with the web host. Those in the middle, who likely can easily see both the pros and cons, may not comment at all.
  3. Haters gonna hate. People tend to leave feedbacks when they are angry. Big companies – with tens of thousands of customers – are bound to have negative comments. Pay attention to the negative reviews, but understand that may not be the whole picture.
  4. Some web hosting shoppers have unreasonable expectations. When those demands aren’t met, even if they are unrealistic, they are angry and leave bad reviews.
  5. This is why every hosting company – no matter how good they are – will have negative reviews. Weight the positive and the negative to get a clearer picture.
  6. What’s important is to see how these hosting companies handle critiques and negative comments. Are they trying to improve? Are they polite to the complaining customer or dismissive?
  7. But in reality, most of the time, the hosting service is doing okay – slightly better than expected or plain mediocre. Perhaps the hosting service is nothing to shout about, and yet nothing awful enough to complain about. You seldom see hosting reviews that say the service was average.

On the other hand, hosting reviews can help you get a clearer picture of whether a hosting company will work for you or not:

  1. A good hosting affiliate will give you the inside picture and let you decide if the host is right for you. I am not going to tell you to sign up for a web host I personally didn’t think much of, because that would impact my reputation and trustworthiness. Most hosting affiliates feel the same way.
  2. Don’t want to read those small texts in TOS? Want uptime records for a web host? that’s what good reviewers do for you. They dig down into the important information and share anything you really need to know to make up your mind. For example, the following images are uptime record I made for my InMotion Hosting review at WHSR.

hosting uptime sample

The Big Picture

The bottom line is that you have to look at many different elements to figure out whether a web host is right for you. Read hosting reviews to discover what others think about that host. Then, run your own test and ask your own questions.

Trust your gut instincts when making the final decision about which host is most suited to your needs. Never be too lazy or afraid to switch hosts when things turn bad. Even a great host can grow too fast or all under new management and become the opposite. If you’ve given a host a few months for things to settle and things aren’t improving, then it’s probably time to shop around.

Jerry Low is a geek dad who enjoys building web assets. You can get more of his blogging tips here

5 Ways to Ramp Up Comments on Your Blog

This is a guest contribution from Alex Ivanovs.

Comments feed the writers soul with proof of work well done. It’s easy to think that not everyone likes comments, but the truth is that comments are what makes us believe in our content and its usefulness. The feeling you get from not receiving any comments on the content you write can be pretty devastating. You invest so much time into writing and publishing a post, and in the end it seems that you wrote it just for yourself.

The idea that nobody cares is quite painful. Comments are the blogger’s currency, and how long can you keep going on for when you’re broke?

Copyblogger, CNN, and Michael Hyatt are some of the most known names that have decided to abandon comments altogether, which puts more pressure on social discussion and sharing.

It’s important to remember that blog comments are not a metric of success, even some of the most popular blogs today are struggling to keep up with consistent comments, and the following concept shows what’s true for any blogger:

5 Ways to Ramp up Comments on Your Blog
(photo credit: CoSchedule)

I think it’s unrealistic to have a blog where 50% of readers would also be commenters, this would mean that a post that is read 1000 times would yield 500 comments, which is quite unheard of. If 1% of 1000 readers leaves a comment, that makes for 10 comments — a much more realistic number.

What are the options to stirring up the pot and getting more comments out of the content we publish?

1. Blogger mentions (name-dropping)

Name dropping is the act of giving someone credit for the work they have done, which in many cases is going to be a specific person who may or may not be influential. By giving someone else credit for the work they have done, you can utilize that mention to reach out to them and tell them where you credited them.



Jasmine Henry from Writtent shared a post about formatting blog posts, and throughout the post she mentioned several content sources that verified her claims, including our very own Darren Rowse.

Remember to:

  • Mention bloggers only if their opinion is truly relevant. Don’t do it for selfish purposes.
  • Reach out to the bloggers you have mentioned in your post by asking them to participate in discussion, respect their decision not to.

2. Comment to get comments

Having trouble being seen by others? Perhaps the issue is not the quality of content, but your lack of presence on other important blogs and platforms that could yield new visitors and commenters. Sites like BizSugar and Inbound are great for discovering new blogs, both new and seasoned.

Once you discover a previously unknown site that has content that’s relevant to yours, start engaging the writers in insightful discussions to form basic relationships. If successful (you get a reply), start aiming towards building a more serious relationship, such as: social media follows, link out to your own content, reach out to propose a guest column.

What you need to keep in mind that it’s important to know which blogs you’re leaving comments on. Big media sites like TechCrunch, Huffington Post, and Entrepreneur are all very active content platforms, but leaving comments on these sites isn’t going to yield any reasonable results, the reason why is because these sites write about every topic imaginable, which results in the audience being more widespread, whereas an audience that’s looking for specific niche content is more than likely to engage in discussion.

3. Share valuable content

Sharing valuable content can be misunderstood. You don’t have to aim for 2000 words, or name-drop 20 influential bloggers, what you need is to ask yourself, “If I was a visitor to this site and I read this piece of content, would it make me want to leave a comment? Do I feel like I have to respond?”.

A piece of content that’s organized and easy to digest, is naturally going to attract comments. A piece of content that’s a wall of text is going to be ignored. It’s that simple.

4. Confident opinion

New bloggers can get the wrong impression on the way blogging works. The idea that we have to write big posts with lots of information is well-known amongst the marketers, but is it really something that WE need to do? An honest and confident opinion will go much farther than a post that’s built around the idea of living up to the 2000 word limit to be a contender for the Google’s first page.

If something can be said in 1000 words and still provide immense value to the reader, why should you force yourself to find an extra 1000 words to feel safe about your rankings? Ask yourself, “Who am I writing for, a real human being, or an algorithm?”.

This brings us to the next point:

5. Love what you do

Why do you blog? Is it for growth purposes, to promote your business, to keep track of what you have learned, or to strive for financial freedom? All are good causes, but we must learn to find balance between all, otherwise we risk putting too much focus on one thing and forget about the rest.

New bloggers will inevitably struggle with the idea of having to get good rankings to be successful and popular, when in fact there are so many other ways to promote oneself.

The lesson here is that people can tell the difference between content that’s written passionately, and content that’s written for the purpose of gaining something back. You should not write about topics that you don’t feel connected with on some level, otherwise you will be chunking out content that lacks one of the most important ingredients; passion. When you’re passionate about what you do and what you write about, it can spark a passionate response in the reader.

Benefits of passionate writing:

  • Readers can identify with you on a deeper level, which in turn attract likes, shares and subscriptions.
  • Writing becomes an experience of joy. It’s easier to write about the things you love.
  • We develop deeper connection with our writing and that helps us to stay empowered and full of enthusiasm.

The lessons in this post are very clear, we must focus on providing value that comes from a place of transparency, rather than a place of need and want. We should give before we get, and we should not waste our and others time by forcing invaluable actions.

ProBlogger is is a great example of how readers feel connected and engaged in the published content, neither Darren nor the editors of this blog would encourage forceful content, it has to be insightful and spark a train of healthy thought.

What do you do to ensure readers share their thoughts with you on your blog?

Alex Ivanovs is a passionate writer who works in the field of technology, personal growth, and blogging. You can find his other work on SkillCode, and you can follow him on Twitter: @skillcode.

Feeling a Bit Lost? 4 Ways to Boost Productivity and Motivation on Your Blog

Feeling a bit lost? Here are 4 ways to boost productivity and motivation on your blog so you can get back in the game!There are many times in the life of a blogger when you find yourself unsure of where to go or what to do next.

That can be for so many reasons – when it comes to where you spend your time you’re overwhelmed with choice, you don’t know where to start, you want to do a little of everything and sort of all at once, you’re burned out with decision making, you’re not getting any traction, you’re afraidbasically, you’re a bit stuck and you don’t know what to do next.

The problem is, most of us then just end up doing nothing. Or something that isn’t going to propel you in the direction of where you need to go. Maybe you respond to a few insignificant emails, maybe you check someone else’s Facebook feed to be inspired what they’re doing and get stuck there for half an hour, maybe you throw your laptop out the window and play Candy Crush.

You’re not alone. Well, you probably are if you threw your laptop out the window, but just about everyone I’ve talked to has felt this way at some point. The deeper you get into the quagmire of blogging (blogmire?), the harder it is to find all the hours in the day to do all the things you need to do be the Next Big Thing.

And with all the overwhelming choice, to-do lists, articles you need to read, articles you did read that told you 50 things you now need to do – you paddle about doing not much of anything at all.

The best thing I know to do when I don’t know what to do is: anything. Everything. Something.

Just get started

Like last week when I told you it’s ok to just be done and not perfect, you just have to make a start.

When I’m faced with a to-do list that is longer than a two-day hangover, and even after prioritising my list I still don’t know how I’m going to get through it all, I pick one thing and move one step in the direction toward getting it completed.

I open a new post and give it whatever headline I can think of at the time (I can always change it later!). When it comes to writing the post further down the track, at least a post has been created for it and that’s one less thing I have to do.

Sometimes I open a new post and just write whatever is in my head about what I want to say. And then come back to it the following week. I always get a spark of recognition, which reminds me of something else I wanted to say, and then suddenly I’m off.

Sometimes I look up just one article I think will be a useful resource and take a few notes.

I move one step in the direction towards getting it done [tweet that!] Then the next time I think about writing that post/updating that schedule/creating a social media strategy I feel much better knowing it’s already been started and I just have to swoop in and tie up the loose ends. Sometimes those “tying up loose ends” actually means “doing the whole thing” but it’s a relief knowing it’s begun. And “well begun is half done”, as they say (thanks Mary Poppins/Aristotle).

Feeling a bit lost? Here are 4 ways to boost productivity and motivation on your blog so you can get back in the game!

Do a Brain Dump

This is the fastest way for me to lessen the anxiety that can come with a giant to-do list. It’s such a useful tool for getting everything out of your head and onto something permanent that you can keep adding to, and you can get an overview of everything that’s on your task list which gives you a better idea of where you are, what’s a priority, and what you should be spending your time on.

Use a white board, a piece of paper taped to the wall, lots of post-its, a google doc, an Evernote note, etc – whatever you have that’s big enough to contain all the bits floating around in your head that you need to tackle. Don’t be shy, put every little tiny thing on there and finally get it down once and for all.

Separate those tasks into “right now”, “in the next year”, and “long-term goals”. I often use a new sheet of paper for each of these lists and transfer everything across, but you can highlight them in different colours, or stick them on post-its, whatever works for you.

Feeling a bit lost? Here are 4 ways to boost productivity and motivation on your blog so you can get back in the game! Make a Cheat Sheet List

The next thing I like to do is check that master list of things to do, goals I want to achieve, and sundry tasks to be fulfilled and break them down into as many 10-minute tasks as I can. Then, when I’m feeling a bit lost at sea and haven’t got the motivation (or the time) to tackle one giant job, I pick one 10-minute task from my cheat sheet list (you can have one list for everything, or a list each for the short and long-term goals) and just do that one little task. I often then spend more than 10 minutes on it because I end up getting on a bit of a roll and can often get through quite a few of those small tasks – but it’s easier to sit down and do a small job when you’re feeling overwhelmed rather than be facing a massive job that you just can’t get your head around.

It stops me from floating around in that headspace where everything seems so overwhelming that I end up doing nothing (that overwhelm can often be what contributes to hoarding, as well as the pursuit of perfection, and I definitely hoard tasks instead of doing them!), and means I can actually cross a few things off my list because they only take 10 minutes, and that’s great for a feeling of productivity! And feeling productive then motivates you to be more productive and you feel like you’ve spent your time well instead of wasting it.

Feeling a bit lost? Here are 4 ways to boost productivity and motivation on your blog so you can get back in the game!

Be Creative

Get the brain working with less of the writing and logical bits of the task, and focus more on the creative parts that will spark thinking. Brainstorm the visuals for your post or social media, find an image to use or take your own, play around with fonts, give yourself 10 minutes to think of new ways you can promote the post, or devise a community challenge around it. Maybe think of an out-of-the-box way to create an affiliate post, or a different way to showcase a recipe. When you don’t sit down and stare at a blinking cursor trying to figure out what to write, but instead do some more imaginative, visual stuff, you often find that the task ends up in a natural state of flow and you complete more than you thought you would.

The extra bonus of this is that you find new ways to do things, it sparks ideas for more content, and can even motivate you to do the tasks you were dreading half an hour ago.

So remember: just start, even if you don’t finish. You’ll be thanking yourself next time you sit down to tackle that big to-do list!

What do you struggle the most with? Time? Overwhelm? Comparison? Let’s chat!

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of 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 or be entertained on Facebook.

Should You Use Timestamps on Your Blog? The Pros and Cons

Should You Use Timestamps on Your Blog? The Pros and Cons on ProBlogger.netA reader asked me recently about using timestamps on blogs, as she’s redesigning hers and wondered if she should use them or not in her new design. It’s a question I get asked fairly often so I’ve dedicated today’s ProBlogger podcast to sharing with you the pros and cons of blog timestamps and whether I think they should be included or left off.

Reader Bernadette also noted that I use timestamps here on, but not on my main blog, Digital Photography School. There are a few reasons for that: the blogging industry is moving fast, and I’ve had this blog for so many years now that I want to signal to readers when the posts were published so they can see whether the information is still relevant for today, and also that if the information isn’t quite relevant, they can see that I wrote it early in my blogging journey. It helps them see the context around the content.

For Digital Photography School, I’ve never used timestamps and that’s because the posts there aren’t newsy – they’re timeless, evergreen posts that will always be useful. Putting a date on these posts might cause readers to assume that because they weren’t written recently that they will be behind the times, which often isn’t the case. A date in this instance would be a distraction and because it’s not relevant to the post itself, I leave it off.

So in short, my theory is that date stamps either add to or take away from your blog. In this episode I discuss why you should and also why you shouldn’t include them on your content, and three options for what to do on your blog for when a black and white decision isn’t so easy.

You can listen below, or on iTunes, and find the show notes here.

Further Reading:

The Secret Weapon That Levels the Playing Field for Every Blogger

The Secret Weapon That Levels the Playing Field for Every Blogger - on ProBlogger.netThis is a guest contribution from Ryan Biddulph.

7 years ago I was a broke, depressed, recently-laid-off security guard.

My life had no direction.

I had no purpose.

My self esteem was in the toilet.

I was lost, swaying to and fro on a sea of circumstance.

Today, I am a pro-blogging island-hopper. My wife Kelli and I blog from paradise. We’ve traveled the world for 51 months straight, living in places like Fiji, Bali, Thailand and Costa Rica. I am an Amazon bestselling author. I’ve written too many Blogging from Paradise eBooks to count. I publish a podcast. I may even start Blabbing after seeing Darren’s inspiring Blab sessions.

I’ve lived my dreams because I discovered the secret blogging weapon years ago.

This secret weapon helped me to gain recognition in a crowded, star-studded blogging field.

This secret weapon levels the playing field for every blogger on earth.

Yes….even you!

The Secret Weapon?

My story.

Your story.

Every blogger’s story.

No two human beings are alike, just like no two snowflakes are alike. Every creation is unique. This miracle of life does not exclude bloggers. Nor does it exclude their stories.

Nobody has lived your story and nobody can tell your story in your voice. Only you have lived your special, inspired life, and only you can write in your special voice.

This is why storytelling levels the playing field for every blogger.

Nobody has lived Ryan Biddulph’s life and nobody in human history can tell my story in my voice, as I can. Which is why I’ve lived a neat life in paradise. I use the one branding tool, the secret weapon, that makes me stand out from all bloggers: telling my story in my voice.

What if Your Story Has Been All Struggles So Far?

Tell your struggle-laden story. Then share your dream.

If you’re new to blogging your story needs to include a dream. Nobody wants to follow a pity party. We’ve all been through nightmares but we’re all inherently hopeful. Share your dream. Hook readers.

Your story becomes your secret weapon, leveling the blogging playing field, if it ends with a dream. I want you to inspire me. I want to root for you. I want to watch you overcome the odds. I enjoy watching you crush obstacles.

Once you add your dream to your struggles, you have set the stage for a happy ending that we all want to see. You’ve whetted your blogging dagger. You’ve hammered your blogging scythe.

Billion Dollar Industry

Readers and viewers buy into stories. Literally. Books, movies and TV shows are billion dollar industries. Everybody has a billion dollar story within them just screaming to be told. Be bold. Tell your story.

Practical Tips for Telling Your Story

  1. Write for at least 30 minutes daily. Writing regularly helps you to find your voice. Writing regularly also inspires you to let go the self conscious “my story is not significant” limiting belief.
  2. Read voraciously. Skilled novelists can teach you how to write emotional, inspired stories. I am reading George R.R. Martin and Lee Child now. These two bestselling authors inspire me to become a better storyteller through their masterful writing skills.
  3. Tell your story regularly, offline. Get comfortable chatting up your story with strangers. For example: I drop my blog name and personal story casually into conversations with strangers I meet during my world travels. Doing so gives me greater confidence to tell my story regularly through my blog.
  4. Surround yourself only with confident, inspired bloggers. Allow their transparency and faith in self to rub off on you. Bloggers like Darren freely share both their successes and failures. If he only spoke of his successes his story would be boring because good stories need highs and lows. Learn from him. Follow one of his great success secrets: transparent blogging.
  5. Weave some part of your personal tale into every blog post. Blogging from Paradise readers often comment that they love when I share my personal travel stories. My stories are unique. Nobody on earth can re-create my experience with my writing voice. I remember this before I publish any blog post.

Do You Think that Nobody Cares about Your Story?

7 years ago I was a nobody. I didn’t even know what a “blog” was.

Today I am a fulltime income-earning, island-hopping blogger.

My metamorphosis started with one story. One day I just decided to blog about how I became a pro blogger. I thought for years that nobody cared about my story. Who would really be interested in a security guard turned blogger? It turns out, a lot more folks than I initially thought. Everything changed the moment I opened up. I had to speak up. It took courage to tell my story. It took a willingness to accept criticism. But I am so happy that I chose to tell my tale.

We care about your story.

We want you to tell it.

You have the great equalizer in your blogging arsenal. It’s begging to be used.

Tell your story.

Your Turn

Are you telling your story?


Why not?

Ryan Biddulph is an Amazon best selling author, blogger, world traveler and the creator of Blogging from Paradise.

5 Things to Pay Attention to When Considering Local SEO and Your Blog

5 Things to Pay Attention to When Considering Local SEO and Your BlogThis is a guest contribution from Larry Alton.

People are always talking about how SEO affects the quantity and quality of traffic your blog receives, but you’ll rarely hear local SEO discussed in terms of blogging. Most people feel like local SEO is reserved for physical businesses, but your blog could also benefit from some strategic tweaks and adjustments.

Understanding Local SEO

Local SEO is essentially a sub-segment of search engine optimization that focuses on enhancing local visibility within a specific geographical market. By following certain tips and including specific data and information, pages can rank higher in these markets. While you may want to hire an SEO company that’s skilled at local search engine optimization, there are some important things worth knowing if you’re considering local SEO for your blog.

  1. Domain authority. While there are a lot of different nuances to local SEO, one thing doesn’t change: the importance and significance of domain authority. The strength of your blog – in the eyes of the search engines – directly impacts local and organic rankings. Some of the factors that go into determining domain authority include the age of the website and the number/quality of links pointing to the website. Domain authority is constantly being updated to reflect changes and developments, so it’s important to keep an eye on this aspect of SEO.
  2. Accurate NAP info. The biggest issue for blogs – if they aren’t directly connected to a physical business – is the challenge of listing accurate contact information. Local SEO depends on this to verify location and geographically organize search results for users. NAP stands for “name, address, and place” and it’s an important factor for local searches. If at all possible, it’s helpful to secure a local phone number and mailing address for your blog.
  3. Local content. Google pays a lot of attention to the keywords and topics you discuss on your blog. While you should avoid keyword stuffing, it’s helpful to include valuable local content on your blog. By discussing topics that are rich in local keywords, you’ll naturally enhance your local SEO efforts.
  4. According to the 2015 Survey of Local Search Ranking Factors, the fourth most important localized organic factor is the click-through-rate of your search results. In other words, when users do click your SERPs, are they bouncing or sticking around for more? The only way to ensure users click through is to offer valuable content that answers questions and provides fresh insights.
  5. Domain wording. If you have a geographic keyword in your domain name, you have a much better chance of ranking for that location. This isn’t possible for every blog, but it is something worth considering when launching. If you can’t get the geographic keyword in the domain name itself, consider including it in as many titles and headers as you can.

While local SEO is designed for pointing users to local businesses and services in their area, bloggers should also be paying attention to these techniques. By studying some of the ranking factors and understanding what goes into local SEO, it’s possible that you can enhance your blog’s visibility.

The Inverse Relationship

On a related note, it’s pretty interesting to study the inverse relationship between blogging and local SEO. While up until this point we’ve discussed how local SEO tweaks can impact your blog, it’s important to note that blogging can also impact local SEO for physical businesses. We’re at a point where many local businesses are investing in blogging, but very few are doing it well. By mastering blogging and giving it the attention it needs to thrive, a business can really excel in this area.

The biggest thing blogging does for local SEO is attract relevant traffic. By writing timely, local content that pertains to a particular geographical market, you can encourage natural back linking and sharing. This is how you begin building organic traffic.

Looking at the Big Picture

Whichever angle you look at it from, blogging and local SEO are intertwined. Local SEO impacts a blog’s visibility and quality of traffic, and a company’s blog can directly impact local SEO efforts.

It’s a very real, tangible relationship that all bloggers and business owners need to be aware of. By looking at the big picture and understanding this connection, you can better understand the value behind what you’re doing.

Do you pay much attention to local SEO?

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

Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately?

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

It’s Saturday here in Oz, so that must mean reading roundup day (and Halloween)! Enjoy/Boo.

The Thumb is In Charge // Facebook

If you’ve ever doubted that mobile is the future (who would really, though?!), Facebook has undertaken some research that squarely places mobile in the “you better get on this and quickly!” box. You can download “The Thumb is In Charge” magazine that explains their findings, or follow along as they release three blog posts detailing it all. If you want to be where the future is going, this is pretty required reading.

The Social Media Metrics You are Forgetting // Hootsuite

Oy, the bounce rate. Indeed I am forgetting that. Couple of other ways of measuring traffic here too, if you’re interested.

Google AdWords Turns 15: A Look Back at the Origins of a $60 Billion Business // Search Engine Land

It’s come so far! What a great infographic too. Very handy if you advertise with AdWords, or you’re thinking you’d like to start.

YouTube Red Will Pay Video Makers During Free Trial, After Concerns // BBC

Did you know that YouTube is launching a subscription service so you can watch your favourite cat-playing-the-piano videos ad-free? It’s only for the US and it’s only a select trial. After vloggers worried they wouldn’t receive ad revenue during the trial, but YouTube Red has clarified they’ll get a cut of the subscription profits based on how long people watch their content for. I am interested to see how the subscription services would go… I often think I’d rather watch an ad than cough up cash but that could just be me.

Slack Finally Lets You Create Group Chats Easily // Mashable

As you know, we used Slack for team communications during the ProBlogger event earlier in the year and this group chat function would have been great. Until now you had to open a new channel if you wanted to reach everyone at the same time (or tag them individually). Get the update for the group chat availability.

Is Twitter the Next MySpace? //

Now there’s a thought. Nobody wants to be the new MySpace, but flagging user growth and fewer people using it in general, we could very well see its demise. What are your thoughts? Is Twitter still useful for you?

5 Ways Google Analytics Finds You Relevant Topics for Your Social Media Campaigns // Entrepreneur

Have you finally hit that point where you’re struggling to come up with a constant stream of content ideas? This post shows you how to mine Google Analytics for all the info you need.

Why All SEOs Should Unblock JavaScript and CSS… and Why Google Cares // Moz

These terms make my head spin. But I care about what Google cares about.

Snapchat or Instagram? Deciding Which Platform is Best for Your Visual Content // Social Media Examiner

I always say go where your audience is, and also where you enjoy being. That’s where the magic is! But this post will also help you decide.

How Google Handles Search Queries it’s Never Seen Before // The Next Web

You know, I’ve never thought of this. But it made me think – what are my potential readers searching for that I’ve never thought of? And how can I create content for that?

So what have you learned recently? Do you think Twitter is on the decline? Snapchat or Instagram?

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of 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 or be entertained on Facebook.

9 Hurdles I’ve Faced as a Blogger and How I Got Over Them

9 hurdles I've faced as a blogger, and how I got over them :: problogger.netI was speaking at a small event here in Melbourne recently and I was asked about the common hurdles bloggers face when building profitable blogs. It’s a difficult question to answer, as everyone’s hurdles are different – as are their coping strategies.

In today’s podcast I thought going through the hurdles I’ve faced personally in blogging and the strategies I used to get over them might be useful. You might recognise some or all of them, or you might know someone struggling with one of these (in which case, feel free to share this post with them!). I’ve also included links in the show notes for you to get more information.

The obstacles in my journey I’ve faced to get to where I am today first started with technical know-how – or rather, lack thereof. As a result I made a huge amount of mistakes that meant it was a slow and painful beginning. I’ve learned so much over the years, and as I did I made better and better choices so there are six tips in the podcast that should ensure you avoid or at least minimise the hurdles along your own path.

I also talk about fear: fear of looking stupid, fear of being criticised and even personally attacked (and how I dealt with a particularly frightening encounter when it was happening to me). There’s a section on building readership, which is incredibly frustrating when you’re writing good content but nobody is reading it, and a section on finding the right monetization model, blogger’s block, blogger’s burnout, narrowing your niche, and getting your time management balance right. All things I’ve struggled with but eventually found a way out of.

You can listen to the podcast here, or over at the show notes of episode 57.

9 Hurdles I've Faced as a Blogger and How I Got Over Them - on ProBloggerWhat do you struggle with as a blogger? Have you found an effective strategy of getting around it?

Further Reading: