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Stop Reading, Start Doing - time to put that knowledge into practice / problogger.net

I’m going to hazard a guess that you are here at ProBlogger.net because you want to know how to make a blog a success. With a successful blog, you can make some money, right? With the knowledge you glean from here and other places, you’re hoping to take your blog to the next level.

But I think that’s where a lot of us get stuck. With the knowledge.

We may in theory know what it takes to create great content, find readers, nail social media, and run a much-loved blog. But we may also stop short of actually putting that knowledge into practice. And what is the point of having all that knowledge, if you’re not going to use it to help your dreams come true?

I think we’re all guilty of it to some degree. There have been tons of things I knew I should do, but thought I lacked the time or the skills to do so. One day, I forced myself to sit down and make those small changes on my blog, one at a time. And you know what? They weren’t so hard, and they didn’t take much time. Things like installing a sticky top bar messenger for newsletter signups, revamping my About page so it more accurately reflected what my blog is about, actually testing some Pinterest strategies… my list was seemingly endless. And seemingly endless lists can be overwhelming – so much so that we don’t even get started on them.

What I want you to do (today, if you can!) and pick one thing you’ve learned recently and actually do it.

You know what those things are that are floating around in the back of your mind. That you’ll get to one day. Well, today is your day! Go! Do!

Which one do you think you will try? I’d love to hear in the comments what’s on your list, or what you’ve done recently that has really worked.

 

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net, and the gal behind Veggie Mama. A writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd, she can be found making play-dough, reading The Cat in the Hat for the eleventh time, and avoiding the laundry. See evidence on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and twitter @veggie_mama.

Never Too Soon: Using Your Blog to Generate Sales During the Holiday Season

Another holiday season is fast approaching, and that means websites are scrambling to ready killer campaigns (or have already launched them) that will generate North Pole-sized sales. For those fortunate enough to have a wealth of resources at their disposal, this will mean lavish advertising campaigns that will feature them prominently on the most highly-trafficked sites on the net.

Those with more moths in their digital wallet than Benjamins will need to rely on other assets, one of their most prized ones being their blog. While blogging and SEO have always been valuable tools in the online marketing arsenal, the paradigm is shifting, and quality content is now more important than ever.

There’s two reasons for that. On the one hand, Google’s search engine has evolved to put less emphasis on keywords and more of it on other aspects of a post’s content and quality. These changes will continue to happen as Google’s crusade for an unadulterated Internet only increases. And on the other hand, search engines and SEO are no longer the primary method to attract eyeballs in the first place. Instead, social media and social sharing have become a prominent means through which content is found and consumed.

That, more than anything else, is why quality is king. While search engines can still be tricked, real people can’t; or at least not quite so easily. Your blog post has to strike a chord with readers, a powerful chord; a “this post was so cool I just have to share it with my friends” chord.

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At the same time, your post has to be a little self-promotional. It’s not entirely enough just to get people there, to read your post and depart. You need them to read your post, love it and share it themselves, but to also draw something from it and become interested in what you’re selling. That is a very difficult balancing act.

The Art of Sharing

 Firstly, you need to understand what content is being shared. Contrary to popular opinion about the attention spans of the internet hordes, long-form content is shared far more often than short-form. In fact, the longer and longer it gets, the more likely it becomes that it will be shared. Sharers clearly respect the effort put into longer pieces, and that effort is finally being rewarded by the internet.

Meanwhile, on the emotion front, readers tend to share awe-inspiring or humorous posts more than anything else. 46% of all shared posts were deemed to be either humorous, joyous, or amusing, and 25% awe-inspiring, according to a study conducted by OkDork. People want to share pleasing content, not something that will bring their friends down.

The easiest of those emotions to hit is probably humor. While it’s hard to inspire awe or joy in some subject matter, you can always sneak humor in (like I could put something funny in this bracket right here if I wasn’t so lazy; don’t be lazy!).

Tying it All Together With a Pretty Bow

In the end though, it all needs to tie-in with your product(s), encouraging your now-joyous readers to either look into other information on your website, return later for more information, or head straight to your checkout so your online payment processor (and hopefully you have a good one that won’t butcher that final, crucial step and will also be cost-effective for you) can rack up another sale for you. All of these are crucial to succeeding in an online sale. Your blog content can drive them there, but your inefficient and non- user-friendly shopping cart can drive them away just as quickly.

The content needs to be engaging, but also self-promotional. In this sense, your blog post should almost borderline on a sales letter masquerading as shareable content with a catchy title, a very personable (and personal) feel, and laden with humor. It should skillfully extol the virtues of your product or service in a way that feels fun and non-aggressive. Finding something shareable to talk about in your industry should be quite simple to not only come across, but to write about in an educated manner. After all, you are an expert in your industry, and your customers will surely think of you as such should you deliver consistently as both a content provider and retailer.

One possible way to pull this off is to compare your product to another comparable one, but not a direct competitor. Say you’re selling a motorized skateboard, instead of trying to attack other products in that niche, take a shot at regular skateboards instead with your blog post “5 Reasons Why Pushing a Skateboard with Your Foot is soooo 1990’s”.

You’ve just created an article concept with the potential to be a fun, viral success, while innocuously touting your own product and generating interest and potential sales for it. Congratulations. Now get to it; these blog posts (and the jokes in their brackets) don’t write themselves. Good luck!

Owen Andrew is a tech journalist and Apple enthusiast. When he’s not writing or drooling over the latest Apple announcement, he’s usually hanging with his kids and doing family activities. Feel free to give him a shout on G+ or Facebook

Effective Planning for Video Content

This is a guest contribution from Robert Benoit.

Video production is a great way to engage and expand an audience, whether it is for a blog, website or business venture.

Whether you’re an established blogger or simply trying to break into film production, developing a video requires the consideration of some key pieces before, during, and after the green light process.

If you’re thinking of diving into video production, the following tips may give you the edge you need to create the best video content without spending more than you need to.

Establish a budget

  • You can only imagine how often people will go into the production of a video and spend more than they have. This can be a disastrous situation, it’s best to avoid it and be smart. You want the video you’re making to be the first of many, not the last, so sit down and decide on a set amount of money you’re willing to spend on the production. This will save time and money in the long run.
  • Bonus Tip: It is important to map out the length of the production to estimate how long it will take to film. Quickness and efficiency will be an essential component to this process!

Think about your audience

  • Based on your business or interests there has to be a certain audience you want to reach with this production. Are you a musician trying to send a certain message or a small business attempting to reach those in the public that would benefit from your product? No matter what the message or purpose, there is an audience waiting for you to grab their attention.
  • Therefore, it is important to think about your audience before deciding the content of your video to ensure it is a piece of content they enjoy and like. Think about their interests, behaviours and what they like about your blog or business and be sure to incorporate these into the video in some way. This helps to ensure the video is relevant for your desired audience and is something they find enjoyable and interesting.

Storyboard your ideas

  • A beneficial part of this process is storyboarding as it allows you to organize the story you wish to tell and how you can visually achieve it. By analysing your video content frame by frame before filming, you will have an idea of what pieces of it work and can redesign the ones that might not. How can you determine this?
  • Look at the still frames and think, which ones enrich the emotion and theme of the content. Those are the ones you definitely need to include in your video.

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Tools of engagement

 

  • While raw video footage is the skeletal structure of your project, video-editing effects are what allow the viewer to engage with the content and understand the overall message you’re trying to convey.
  • Remember the film “2001: A Space Odyssey?” Near the beginning of the film, ‘The Dawn of Man’ segment shows apes violently using bones to beat each other and then the bone is thrown into the air. Then the frame immediately cuts to a space satellite, four million years later! Kubrick makes a match cut from one time period to the next. What he’s trying to relay to the viewer is that humanity at one time was primitive and now views itself as technologically advanced.

 

 

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  • An effect used largely in the “Star Wars” film franchise by George Lucas is the wipe effect. This is utilized when a scene ends where a line wipes the previous scene away on screen and simultaneously reveals the next scene.

Why use this effect? It can establish an emphasis on events taking place linearly, allowing for action to blend with more action in two different places.

Be original

  • The single, most important thing you can do to arrive at the best video content possible from a production is to be original. Standing out from the crowd and avoiding secondary ideas will show in the final product, presenting the world with a video that is unlike anything else is the goal of any video production. Never forget to keep in mind “originality” above all else.

Now it’s up to you to take the necessary steps towards your successful video production. Believe in yourself and do your best to enjoy the process from start to finish. Careful planning pre-production is key, if you want it to go as smoothly as possible and remember the purpose of your video and the audience it is being aimed at, at all times during production. Ultimately, originality and relevance are the two most important features of a video. As long as it is something relevant to your target audience that they haven’t seen before they are sure to love it.

Robert Benoit is an intern at Phink TV who is currently studying English Writing and Mass Communication at Assumption College. He was born in Worcester, Massachusetts and is currently studying abroad in London. His future aspirations include film production and professional scriptwriting, as well as a passion for developing creative works.

 

 

Facebook Atlas: A New Stage in Digital Marketing or Just another Competition with Google?

This is a guest post from Ben Austin of Absolute Digital Media.

Move over Bing, Google has a new competitor in the form of Facebook.

Ok so we all knew Bing was never really a threat to the search giant, but it gave us something to blog about each time the Microsoft owned engine upped its marginal share of the market. Facebook on the other hand is stepping on Google’s toes in an area that it’s a little more sensitive about. Data. What’s more it looks to be acting much more aggressively towards its goals.

According to eMarketer, Facebook’s share of worldwide revenue from digital advertising across all devices currently stands at 8%, second only to Google’s 32%. With the introduction of its new advertising platform, Atlas, designed to track the effectiveness of online ads, it could be set to encroach further.

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What is Facebook Atlas?

Atlas is a digital advertising platform that Facebook acquired from Microsoft last year for almost $100 million. Since then it claims to have rebuilt Atlas “from the ground up”, to offer a way of “bridging the gap between online impressions and offline purchases.” As Facebook users will be familiar with, consumers’ newsfeeds often feature highly targeted ads, based on information from their profiles, such as age, gender and interests. With Atlas, these highly personalised ads will follow you elsewhere across the internet, to other websites as well as the apps you use regularly.

It does this by matching Facebook user data and advertisers’ customer data with a tool called Facebook audiences, matching email addresses and phone numbers with the accounts associated with this information.

Whilst this is great news from an advertiser’s point of view, and stands to make Facebook a lot of money, not everyone is so keen. Understandably. Collecting and analysing detailed info about no less than 1.3 billion users and targeting them elsewhere around the web is nothing short of intrusive and has gathered comparisons to Google’s ambiguous use of data in recent years.

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Competing for data with Google

Google is no stranger to the odd privacy or data scandal. As well as the Street View saga, the company has been involved in several court rulings, particularly in Europe, demanding it change the way it handles data about web users.

However it is this data that is partly responsible for it becoming the powerful being it is today, and so it perhaps comes as no surprise that new service, Certified Shops, is all about gathering data. In turn for allowing online retailers to display a badge proving themselves as trusted and reliable, they have to agree to send Google an inordinate amount of detail about their customers and transactions. Google has also reserved the right to use this data for other purposes.

The two web authorities have been locked in a battle of who can gather the most data for some time now but where does this end?

An abuse of power?

The concern is that in their quest to outdo one another and gather the most personal data, they are effectively abusing their power. Both are treading a fine line between proving to marketers the power of ads, and pushing their customers away. New customers may actually shy away from sites with the certified badge, whilst Facebook could end up a network more geared towards generating revenue and less about social interactions. There is certainly a gap between public perception of data usage and what actually happens and both companies are exploiting this naivety.

However, it is important to note that Facebook has stated that users will stay anonymous to advertisers, who will only know basic facts about them.

At the end of the day, this level of data gathering is nothing new. By simply having a Facebook account or browsing the web on a regular basis, people are providing companies like Facebook and Google with information about themselves and about their internet behaviour. The lessons from this are twofold. Users need to become more savvy online and big brands like Google and Facebook need to be careful not to overstep the mark.

Ben Austin is the CEO of Absolute Digital Media, an award-winning digital marketing agency based in the UK.

 

15 Quick and Easy Productivity Super-Hacks for Busy Bloggers

This is a guest contribution from Pooja Lohana.

Let’s face it.

As a blogger, you have a knack to find just one more task that needs to be done. Now.

Then there are times when you just don’t feel like doing that pesky little task – the more you think about it, the more you imagine the worst, and the more you procrastinate.

No matter what your situation, here are 15 productivity hacks that really work, well if you only try them.

And the best part? You don’t have to follow through each one – pick the ones that best resonate with you and run with it.

Sound good?

Let’s get hacking.

15 Quick and Easy Productivity Super-Hacks for Busy Bloggers

1. Use email templates

As a blogger, I receive a ton of email each day. Some are from readers thanking me for a post. Some even have a specific question that needs answering.

Depending on the type of email you receive, you can create templates so replying doesn’t take too much of your time.

For example, if I receive a “thank you” email, I acknowledge their reply with a simple two-sentence email.

If it’s a question-email, I flag it using Gmail’s red exclamation flag to answer at a set day in the week.

All my email is filtered to one Gmail address, so I don’t have to keep checking countless inboxes (and avoid those cPanel logins too!)

Last but not the least, if you write a lot of email templates, stick to the 5-sentence rule.

Why 5 sentences? According to Guy Kawasaki, less than five is usually too curt for a response, and more than five wastes time. I agree.

Of course, not all my emails are 5-sentence long. However for templates, that strategy works like a charm.

Oh and one more thing – try turning your email window off in order to focus better.

When I keep my Gmail tab open in the background, a notification pops up each time a new email arrives.

Bam… There goes my focus down the drain.

I’ve since decided to turn off any distracting windows and only kept important tabs open. Over time, it has saved me hours.

 

2. Create an editorial calendar

Unless you’re Seth Godin, there will be days when you don’t have anyting to say, or don’t have the time to come up with a stellar topic idea.

The solution? Create a simple editorial calendar so you’re never short of ideas. Old-school 2-column excel sheet will do. Or you can go fancy-pants and try an app like Gather Content.

If the idea of a calendar sounds too stifling, try keeping a log of ideas in your WordPress backend.

That’s what blogger Sarah Wilson does – at any point, she has about 20 draft posts ready to be used. When inspiration strikes, she creates a simple draft and works on them overtime until they are ready to launch. Neat, eh?

 

3. Re-post your evergreen content

You don’t have to produce epic content every time. Dig into your archives to find “evergreen” posts – the type that stay fresh and timeless from season to season.

Examples of an evergreen post:

  • Long list posts
  • Case-studies
  • How-tos
  • Collaborated posts
  • Tutorials and guides

Since evergreen posts tend to be long, you can break them into smaller chunks and repurpose them as a PDF report, an audio freebie, or a Slideshare presentation.

Get creative and post new bite-sized, snackable content for your readers. This is especially a great hack for those slow days when you’re too busy to post on your blog or social media.

 

4. Automate sending out your content

Following up from the last hack, a smart strategy is to create a series of email autoresponders or teaser emails for your old blog posts.

That way, even if you don’t have anything new to say, you stay at the top of your readers’ minds and new subscribers on your list are fed with good content.

 

5. Take the shortcut to mobile-responsive

Did you know that 82% people use mobile phones to check emails these days? What’s more, 42% of your subscribers will delete your emails if they don’t show up well on their phones.

Bloggers, clearly it’s time to go mobile-responsive with your content.

But you don’t have to go on a template-designing spree or hire external help.

Email marketing service such as GetResponse offers ready-made one-click responsive templates, so you don’t have to worry about how your emails show up on a smartphone or tablet, therefore saving you a ton of time.

http://www.getresponse.com/

source: Get Response

 

6. Unsubscribe ruthlessly

I have a simple rule – if more than 30% of my incoming email is announcements and newsletters from other people’s lists, I go on an unsubscription spree.

Of course, with Gmail’s Promotions tab, life has become easier and I don’t have to necessarily do that any more.

But still, if you’re a lover of clean inbox and don’t read a lot of e-newsletters, try Unroll.me to unsubscribe a bazillion times faster.

 

7. Use If This Then That

IFTTT lets you “put the internet at work for you”. Basically, it’s an app to automate your online life.

You can set trigger events that are based on cause and effect relationship (if this, then that). The events + triggered actions together form IFTTT “recipes”.

As a recipe example, once you add a new article to read in Feedly, you also have it saved in your Dropbox folder.

IFTTT supports many “channels” such as Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Dropbox, Evernote, Bit.ly etc. that you can use in your recipes.

Source: IFTTT

Source: IFTTT

8. Don’t be afraid to delegate

Back when I started as an entrepreneur and blogger, I wanted to do everything to perfection.

I thought no one else could do all those tiny tasks on my list better than I, because no one understands my business as much as I do.

Big mistake!

Turns out, there are people who want to help you. For example, if you hate composing and scheduling a month’s worth of Facebook posts, there’s someone out there who loves that and is a pro at it.

Fiverr and FancyHands are two places to find that “special” someone.

Remember, you can’t go at full speed 24/7. Decide which tasks really need your attention and which ones can be outsourced. That’s a sign of a real superman – after all, he needed a sidekick too, right?

 

9. Do a Pomodoro

You’ve probably heard of a Pomodoro. It’s a simple productivity technique where you work for 25 minutes followed by a 5-minute break. Since you “only” have 25 minutes to work, your brain can focus 100% as it creates a sense of urgency.

I use the Pomodoro Productivity app which has some neat settings to increase or decrease break times and sound settings. It also nicely syncs with your Google calendar to get a visual warning when a Pomodoro overlaps with an appointment.

 

10. Try Awareness

Awareness is another free and unique app that will play a Tibetan bowl “ding” every hour. It’s a gentle reminder to take a 5-minute break and get off that chair.

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11. Use Awesome Screenshot

If you’re like me, you want to take multiple screenshots for every post you write.

Awesome Screenshot is a super-helpful app that sits as a Chrome extension and can save you a ton of time.

 

12. Manage your stuff with Trello

I’ve only recently started using Trello, and kicking myself because I’m so late to discover it.

You can create Trello cards for your to-do tasks, ideas you want to implement or known issues to be solved. You can track progress of each one as you go.

You can also use it for your editorial calendar.

Here’s an example of a Trello in progress.

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13. Slam multitasking

Because it doesn’t work. Period.

One study even showed multi-tasking led to a loss of productivity by 40% because participants had to keep switching between tasks.

 

14. Chew gum

This one’s a weirdo in the list, but chewing gum leads to alertness and reduces occupational stress too.

 

15. Eat a banana

According to UCLA, a banana is great brain food that brings 25 grams of glucose (optimum) to your blood stream. Glucose is great to keep that active, productive, switched on state when you need it the most. Go bananas!

 

Your Turn!

You now have 15 super-hacks – some are easier than others. Now it’s your turn to take your pick.

Go, apply them and be a rockstar.

 

I know there are more super-hacks that I’ve missed. What’s your favourite?

Pooja Lohana is a freelance writer, ghost writer and online marketing mentor featured on Problogger, Firepole, JeffBullas, MarketingProfs, Hongkiat and more. If you’re an aspiring writer and want to become self-employed, create wealth and live a better life by launching your online writing biz, steal her free mini-course to make your first $1000 (and more) writing at home.

Free Webinar: How to Start (or Reboot) Your Blog Right: 8 success factors that determine your blog’s future

UPDATE: this webinar is now finished. Check out other upcoming webinars at our Problogger Webinars page.

This coming Tuesday/Wednesday (depending where you live) I’m running a free webinar with Chris Garrett.

The time of the webinar is:

Los Angeles: 5pm Tuesday 28th
New York: 8pm Tuesday 28th
London: 12am Wednesday 29th (sorry my UK friends!)
Singapore and Perth: 8am Wednesday 29th
Cape Town: 2am Wednesday 29th
Melbourne and Sydney: 11am Wednesday 29th

Note: we will record the webinar but you need to register to receive access to it.

The title of the webinar is – How to Start (or Reboot) Your Blog Right: 8 success factors that determine your blog’s future

Chris Garrett is long term blogger, the co author of the ProBlogger book and Chief Digital Officer at CopyBlogger Media.

Here’s a short description of what will be covered:

The world of blogging has gone mainstream, and this has introduced both opportunities and also challenges. Today you need more than passion and technical know-how, you need a plan.

How can you break through the noise and get started in 2014? If your blog is stumbling, how can you get it on the right track? In this webinar, Chris Garrett takes us back to fundamentals and talks us through the planning and research that lead him to his new forthcoming blog.

Normally our webinars are for paid up members of ProBlogger.com only but as this topic is so applicable to a wider audience we thought we’d open it up for free.

To register you’ll simply need to sign up for a free account to ProBlogger.com and register for the webinar.

Here’s the process:

1. Head to the webinar page here.

2. Click the ‘register’ button.

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3. A popup box will appear with a button to create a free account. Click it.

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4. Add your details and click ‘continue’.

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5. You’ll be now taken back to the webinar page where it should show you’re now registered for the webinar. You’ll get an email confirming your registration and another reminding you of the webinar as it approaches.

Can’t wait to see you in the webinar later this week!

Remember, we will record this for those unable to make the live webinar but you’ll need to register with the above process to gain access to it.

Note: your free account on ProBlogger.com only gives you access to upcoming the live ‘public’ webinars including one with Jeff Goins next month and one with Elise Cripe in December.

Paid up members also unlock a heap more in ProBlogger.com and gain access to recordings of all webinars (currently 31 in our archives), future monthly private webinars, our ProBlogger plugins, a private forum area etc.

3 Ways to Define What Your Blog Is About

What is your blog about?

It’s a question all bloggers get asked from time to time. How do you answer it?

It’s also a question I know many ProBlogger readers wrestle with – particularly when starting out.

What is my niche? Do I even need a niche? How do I define my niche?

Every time I run a Q&A webinar over on ProBlogger.com, I get questions around whether bloggers need a niche. I thought I’d put a few thoughts into a blog post and suggest three ways to define what your blog is about.

1. Niche

Lets start with the most obvious one – choosing a ‘niche’ to blog about.

Most bloggers I know would classify their blog in this way. I often do!

ProBlogger – at it’s most basic level is a blog about blogging (sad but true!).

Digital Photography School – it’s a blog about digital photography.

Everything that happens on my blogs comes back to these core topics – they’re very much niche blogs.

There are many other examples of great ‘niche’ blogs. For example Chris Hunter’s BikeEXIF.

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2. Demographic

Most ProBlogger readers fit fairly and squarely into a ‘niche’ but I know from experience that there’s quite a few of you squirming in your seat and resisting the urge to scroll to the comments section to tell me that your blog doesn’t fit into a niche.

Perhaps thinking about ‘who’ your blog is for rather than the ‘topic’ it is about is a better approach for you.

Over the last 10 years I’ve seen more and more bloggers developing blogs around a certain demographic of readers.

Gala Darling was one of the first I came across doing this on her blog (although there were others doing similarly.

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A quick look over Gala’s blog and you can see she’s talking about a range of topics – Style, Beauty, Travel, Self Love are 4 categories but over the years she’s talked about relationships, horoscopes and much more. While her blog doesn’t really fit neatly into a ‘niche’ Gala seems to have a clear understanding in her mind of who she is writing for.

There are many examples of bloggers targeting particular demographics. Some are focused upon men or women, others are aimed at a generation, others are aimed at a lifestyle.

3. A Fight

At this year’s ProBlogger Event in Portland Oregon Jeff Goins gave a talk that presented another way to think about what your blog is about that I know many attendees found really helpful.

He suggested picking a ‘fight’.

For a gentle shy guy like me, this at first sounded a little confronting – but as he spoke, I realised I’d already picked a fight in my blogging!

By picking a fight Jeff was not suggesting you attack another person or choose something to blog about that is necessarily controversial – but rather to centre your blog around a struggle in some way that readers might identify with.

While I’ve already mentioned above that ProBlogger is a ‘niche’ blog, I realised that as Jeff spoke that when I started ProBlogger it was definitely centered around a ‘fight’.

When I started ProBlogger back in 2004, blogging was seen as a very ‘pure’ medium that was supposed to be used largely for self expression. To suggest that blogs could be used to make money was something that polarised people.

Some argued blogs should never be used for commercial purposes and suggested that to do so would be to slimy/scammy and others doubted that it was even possible to make money blogging.

Starting ProBlogger was me putting a flag in the sand and saying that not only was it possible to make a living from blogging (I was almost full time at that point) but that you could do it without selling out or entering into sleazy territory.

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That was my fight and it turns out that while it was a little controversial at the time, a lot of others who shared my belief and who got some kind of inspiration from that same fight. Others gathered around that flag in the sand and ProBlogger gained momentum.

As I think about the three options of niche, demographic, and fight, I’m not sure there’s a right or wrong way to go about it. Each has its advantages and disadvantages but I do wonder if having a ‘fight’ might be a particularly powerful way to go.

A fight galvanises people and is something that you and others can get passionate about. These things are good for a blog.

Niches, Demographics and/or Fights?

The above three options for classifying a blog are certainly not the only ones, and I wouldn’t want to argue that they’re mutually exclusive.

In fact as I think about some of my favourite blogs, I see some that have niches, demographics, AND fights!

A prime example of this would be Vanessa’s blog Style and Shenanigans (Vanessa is my wife) who has a blog about ‘style’ (niche), which is written for women (demographic) and has a fight. Her fight is that you can retain a sense of style despite having three little boys running around your home destroying everything (as we do).

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How Do You Define What Your Blog Is About?

Do you have a niche, a demographic or a fight? Or do you think about what your blog is about in some other way?

I’d love to hear your take on this!

How Having a Strong Email List Can Land You Great Sponsorships

This is a guest contribution from email marketer Luke Guy.

How exactly do sponsors determine a price for ads on a blog? What would you consider the “golden standard” as for measuring how much a brand is worth or the size? There are many ways to do this. It’s important to know this so you can figure where to spend most of your time and building.

Here are general ways to determine brand size:

  1. Your follower numbers on social media
  2. Blog stas
  3. The size of your email list
  4. Social shares per article

These are the main ways sponsors determine on how much you’re worth, and the size of your brand, but which one should you focus most on? Coming from me, Luke Guy, you can almost guess, right? As you know, the email list is the best way to determine someone’s brand size.

I’ll explain why.

Social media with a large following was rare a few years ago, but now even grandma can have hundreds of thousands of followers. With it becoming so cheap now, you can buy fake followers for almost pennies. Many politicians are known for doing this to embellish the numbers -up to half of the followers have been known to be fake during presidential campaigns. So this is definitely not the way to measure someone’s brand size.

So what are other ways sponsors determine brand size?

Insights from the blog is a great way to measure traffic and to see how many people are viewing your blog. By simply taking a snapshot of your stats, you’d be revealing the traffic coming to your site. Gold, right?

Only thing is, the traffic numbers could change overnight. Let’s say you’re in a relationship with Google and it’s sending traffic to you like crazy. Your blog could be flooded at the time and things look really good. You bring home the amazing content and it sends you the traffic.  Such a beautiful relationship! But let’s say you burn the biscuits, forget the anniversary, or worse, you cheat with black hat SEO methods! Guess what? Google is leaving.  Your stats could drop overnight and you’re now seeing newbie traffic.

So yeah, I definitely wouldn’t depend on the stats of a blog alone. Even if it wasn’t based on Google, how could you guarantee these people would come back?

Keep reading.

Let’s go ahead and talk about the email list, is it the best way to determines ones size? I’d say it’s one of the greatest ways, if not THE best way to determine size. Why would I say that?

Well no one is going to buy 100k fake emails and then claim that as their list, you know how I know? That would cost $500 in Mailchimp fees per month. No one is going to go through that. No one would claim a list this size and it not be true. It would take one glimpse from the dashboard to convince the sponsors you mean business. Email list are the biggest way to convince sponsors.

Here’s something else to think about.

What is the best way to control traffic besides the email list? Besides paid ads, nothing. Also, what other way could you send a mass message and get 30-40% open rates? That’s 40,000 people who will be exposed to your message within hours (based on 100,000 email list). There’s no other way to control that kind of traffic. Organic search is super, don’t get me wrong, but that isn’t controlled. With the email list, you can control the how, when and where.

Combining All Three Is Best

If you have all three: Social Media, Email List, and Blog Stats. Why not reveal all three? The best way to get brand size is to combine all three of these. I know this. But if that email list is small and weak looking, the Facebook following of 50k isn’t looking very good right now, does it? Looks very fishy actually. So the email list brings credibility and the rest sweetens the deal.

By building your list, you’re showing your sponsors who you are and what you’re capable of. The size of your list is also the best way to catch eyes when applying for sponsors for your blog. So let me encourage you and start building that list. Make it a profit journey and learn how to grow that list while making money. Many ways to do this, but the biggest way is to simply use that traffic and send it to your site. Then from that site sell your services, do affiliate marketing, or my least favorite – adsense ads.

Ways to grow the list:

  1. Guest post and offer something downloadable (requiring opt-in).
  2. Try to talk with 5 people (via email) a day about your niche. Have your signature ready with a link to your opt-in.
  3. Include opt-in boxes on every page and post of your blog.
  4. Create an eBook that requires opt-in.
  5. Create a free program that requires email like Sumome.
  6. Talk about why people should join on social media

View 26 Ways To Grow Your Email List Like A Boss to get more ideas.

There’s one thing I know, and that’s people love to download things. It’s just in us to love this kind of thing. Another tool in my utility belt is how I see it. So offer something free like a plugin, program, or a series of educational emails, and start building the list!

When you give good reasons why people should download your free program (email required) the more likely they will. If it’s actually helpful, it won’t be long before you’re collecting emails automatically on a huge scale. Which is game changer.

But why go through this?

By building that relationship and collecting emails you’re building traffic. You do this by sending content-filled emails their way. You’re not pitching sales balls at them four times a week. Your sending them content-filled, and helpful emails. Send something amazing. By building this relationship you’re getting referrals and more sign-ups. The more sign-ups you get, the more traffic you can control and send your way. Once you your traffic get’s to a size, they will buy products from that site. All this can happen before the big sponsorship. So like I say, grow the list while making money. The more helpful you become, the more people will talk about you, the larger the list becomes.

So focus on that list and grow it like a boss. Get sponsored.

Luke Guy blogs at Lukeguy.com. He researches email marketing and loves to write about it. If you need further help with your email challenges, you can join him here! Or even hire him here to write for you. He has been featured on Search Engine Journal, Smart Passive Income, Jeff Bullas, Convince & Convert and a few others.

 

A Social Media Etiquette Guide You Might Find Useful

This is a guest contribution from Jennifer Landry.

What do you think of when you hear the word etiquette?

For most people, the term conjures up images of a relative telling them to chew with their mouth closed, or to take their elbows off the table. So what does it mean when it’s applied to social media?

In general terms, etiquette is a set of guidelines on how to behave properly around other people. While you might not have face-to-face interaction with all of your followers, the way you present yourself online directly affects people’s opinion of your brand. You might be surprised at the amount of companies, even the big ones, that don’t quite understand this simple fact and have posted inappropriate updates that made light of important events or misused certain hashtags. The simplest way to avoid this problem is to read over your posts before pressing publish. If you think it could somehow be misconstrued or you’re not sure what the hashtag means, it’s best to simply not post the update.

While you might know the basics of presenting yourself on social networks, you might not realize that there is a set of more nuanced etiquette rules for each of the different platforms. The infographic below outlines these unspoken rules for the most popular social networks. While not a complete list, it can help set the groundwork for how to post and interact with your audience.

Imprimir

Jennifer Landry is a writer/journalist living in Malibu, California. 

How You Can Make Your Writing Twice as Fast by Making It 3x More Time-Consuming; Wait, What?!

This is a guest contribution from Karol K. You can read the first post in this series “The Power of TK in Content Writing and How it Can Help You” here.

Imagine yourself in the following scenario…

It’s a normal Tuesday and you decide to write a blog post. You start confidently with a blank screen, and after a minute or so, the first sentence is ready. But almost immediately there’s a problem.

“No, this doesn’t sound right,” you start thinking, so you correct a couple of words and read it back again. “Okay, this is better!”

Now you can†proceed to†the next sentence.

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Does this sound like you?

More importantly, do you see anything wrong with this scenario?

(Hint: the answer is yes.)

The big problem here is that trying to write and edit at the same time†results only in†prolonging the whole content creation process significantly.

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Better solution?

1) Write first.

2) Edit later.

3) Proofread even after that.

Yep, crafting a quality blog post is†a three-part process. And the absolute best solution is doing each part on a separate day.

Although it sounds counterintuitive (after all, why take three days to write a post if you can do it in just one), it does work. And it works exceptionally well.

Here’s why.

Writing and editing are two extremely different activities. Writing is 80 percent (give or take) creativity and 20 percent craftsmanship. Editing is the opposite.

Now, trying to do both at the same time forces you to switch between two different mindsets multiple times over. And even though you might be effective at each individual activity (editing or writing), it’s the switching that takes time, confuses you and costs you energy.

You will always be much more effective and much faster focusing on just one kind of task at a time.

Granted, I know that it’s much easier said than done and that editing as we write is a huge temptation. It feels like a†natural thing to do, even though it works against us. So here are 3†hacks†to help you write in peace, not disturbed by any editing urges:

1)

Don’t go back to re-read what you’ve just written. It’s a soft form of limiting your creativity and it slows you down significantly. Even if you end up writing the same paragraph twice by accident, it’s still something you can fix during the editing phase.

2)

Make†the red spellcheck underline your friend. The underlined words shouldn’t annoy you. They should be a testament to your creative method of†writing! Don’t correct them right away.

3)

Backspace is the one forbidden key on the†keyboard. Don’t erase, just write.

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At the end of the day, I guarantee that you will be much more satisfied having written two unedited 1000-word articles, than ending up with†just one edited article†that’s 800 words.

Or am I wrong?

Karol K. (@carlosinho) is a freelance writer, published author, founder of NewInternetOrder.com and a blogger at Bidsketch.com (delivering some cool freelance blogging and writing tools, advice and resources just like what you’re reading now). Whenever he’s not working, Karol likes to spend time training Capoeira and enjoying life.