@ProBlogger http://www.problogger.net Blog Tips to Help You Make Money Blogging - ProBlogger Fri, 24 Apr 2015 20:52:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 Copyright © ProBlogger Blog Tips 2010 darrenrowse@gmail.com (@ProBlogger) darrenrowse@gmail.com (@ProBlogger) 1440 http://www.problogger.net/wp-content/plugins/podpress/images/powered_by_podpress.jpg @ProBlogger http://www.problogger.net 144 144 Make Money Online @ProBlogger @ProBlogger darrenrowse@gmail.com no no The Full Blog Monetization Menu – 60+ Ways to Make Money With Your Blog http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/04/24/the-full-blog-monetization-menu-60-ways-to-make-money-with-your-blog/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/04/24/the-full-blog-monetization-menu-60-ways-to-make-money-with-your-blog/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 14:17:58 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=36434 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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The Full Blog Monetization Menu – 60+ Ways to Make Money With Your Blog

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60+ Ways to make money on or with your blog  problogger.netThis is a guest contribution from Paul Back.

You think about it all the time – how great it would be to make money from your blog.

Yet, with monetization, things can get a little confusing. There are just so many different options.
Making money from your blog is not something that happens by accident.

It takes forethought, planning, and a winning strategy.

Once you understand all of the possible ways to monetize your blog, it’s much easier to devise the right plan.

Succeeding at Monetizing Your Blog

The First Step is Understanding Your Options

There are almost limitless possibilities for a blogger like you to earn money online, but most of these fall into a small number of distinct categories.

This post is designed to show your options so that you can go on to make the right monetization decisions.

Without having a clear idea of what’s possible, you simply can’t make a solid choice.

Your destination is a blog that makes you money – you need to choose some routes that will get you there.

Let’s face it – blogging is hard work, so don’t make it even harder by failing to create a clear path to reaching your goals. You’ll end up investing time and energy on something that just won’t work for you.

When analysing your options, think about your end goal – do you want a more passive way to earn? Perhaps you want to offer a service? Maybe you just want to create and sell your own products? Not sure yet?

Whatever it is – we have it on the menu.

The Full Menu

I scoured the Internet for months trying to find the most diverse and proven ways to make money from blogs.

I’ve talked to every contact I have, conducted research, done free and paid courses and classes, read real books and e-books, watched videos, attended webinars, and have tried a lot of these strategies myself – if it’s not on the list, it probably doesn’t exist or just doesn’t work.

So don’t worry; I’ve got you covered!

Look through the list, and find your best options — or just see what’s available. Use it as a guideline for your blog monetization plans.

Display Advertising

Ads are great, but they can be tricky.

They can deliver staggering revenues, but for most people, they make very little. If you want success with ads, you must consider traffic, audience, and context.

Generally speaking, the traffic numbers of most blogs don’t have the volume to make a real dent with display advertising, and once you have the traffic, there are usually better ways to monetize.

Of course there are exceptions to the rules – so aim to understand your niche and audience before deciding if ads are right for you.

Overview

  • Pros: Easy to set up, offers passive income (set-and-forget), requires no special skills, works on most audiences, and works from day one.
  • Cons: Usually results in relatively small profits, requires a lot of traffic, turns off some audiences, makes your blog look less attractive, and is usually not the main revenue maker for a blog.
  • Best When: You have a lot of traffic, you have other sources of revenue, and you’re waiting to develop your own products for sale or quickly monetize without much effort.

You have many ad networks to choose from. Google AdSense is the most popular, but look into Media.net (Yahoo/Bing) and Clicksor. These ad networks are contextual – they automatically display ads based on your page’s content.

After you choose an ad network, there’re many different ad models you can use – each one has its benefits.

Here are the best options:

Display Advertising Options:

PPM

Get paid whenever a visitor lands on a page displaying the ad, as its “seen” — it doesn’t matter if the ad is clicked or not.

  • Pros: Visitors don’t have to click on your ads to make money.
  • Cons: Needs even more traffic than other ad types and usually pays less.
  • Best When: This is great for high-traffic blogs that have little audience interaction – news-type blogs for example.

PPC

Get paid when someone clicks on the ads displayed on your blog. (Prices depend on niche — more competitive = more money.)

  • Pros: Standard advertising model — it is the best bang for your buck.
  • Cons: You want advertisers with relevance to your blog to increase ad clicks.
  • Best When: In high competition niches that are relevant to your blog.

Banner Ads

Banner ads are placed in sidebars, headers, and individual posts. These can be PPC or PPM.

  • Pros: Common and effective form of advertising.
  • Cons: Can ruin the look of a blog depending on which ads are displayed.
  • Best When: You have control over which banners display.

RSS Ads

Appear in the RSS feed of a blog.

  • Pros: A great way to make money from your RSS feed.
  • Cons: With the decline of RSS feeds, these have become less popular; that doesn’t necessarily make them bad.
  • Best When: You have a large RSS list.

In-text Ads

These are ads that are embedded within your written text. When a reader clicks on them, it displays the corresponding ad.

  • Pros: They look like links, so there is no need for banner ads.
  • Cons: Distracting. People may find it annoying. Makes your blog worse from a usability perspective.
  • Best When: You don’t use other forms of advertising.

Mobile Advertising

If you have a mobile app or want to advertise via mobile channels. See: ADMob, Millennial Media, and Adfonic. There were 7.1 billion mobile devices connected to the net in 2014 – mobile and app advertising is set to take advantage of this in a big way.

  • Pros: Take advantage of a growing sector, less competition in the app sector, majority of web traffic comes from mobile devices.
  • Cons: Situational – you need to have an app or want to advertise in apps.
  • Best When: You have an app, and you want to capitalise on the growing number of mobile devices or when your audience largely uses mobile to view your content.

Advertising widgets

Use widgets such as AdSanity to help you manage and customise ads on your blog.

  • Pros: Detailed advertising information, makes your ads more profitable and customizable (e.g., display ads with higher revenue). Works with single or multiple ads.
  • Cons: Cost of entry, needs more effort on your part.
  • Best When: You already use ads with some success and want to increase their profitability.

Bulletin/job board

Create a bulletin or job board and let others advertise on it for a fee.

  • Pro: Easy to set up and can drive huge amounts of relevant traffic to your blog, which amplifies other monetisation avenues and turns your blog into a “hub” in your niche.
  • Cons: Usually this is not a primary source of income; your blog has to be sufficiently popular.
  • Best When: Your blog is seen as a hub in your space when you already have a lot of traffic and when combined with other revenue streams, e.g., Problogger Job Board.

Audio ads on your podcasts

If you have a podcast, use audio ads similar to a commercial radio station and promote people’s products, services and get paid — e.g., use networks like this, and this.

  • Pros: A great way to earn money from your podcasts.
  • Cons: You must have a regular audience for your podcast to have any real effect.
  • Best When: You have a large and consistent podcast audience.

Sponsored content

Sponsored content is advertising material in the context of a blog post (should be disclosed). Its effectiveness is determined by audience size and relevance. A good example of how sponsored content works is mashable.com. They regularly use content from big companies and get huge brand visibility in exchange for money.

  • Pros: Good way to earn money. Most people would have no issue with sponsored content, if you label it as such.
  • Cons: Would turn some people off and would only work well in some niches (depending on sponsored content opportunities and how well they match your blog).
  • Best When: You have a large reach and you are in a niche with good sponsored content opportunities.

Ads on your videos (for other’s products or your own)

Use your videos as platforms for advertising. Use the YouTube advertising program, or create an agreement with a sponsor, and mention them or display their logo in your videos.

  • Pros: Make money from the content you create, easier to get noticed than blog banner ads, relatively unexplored area for most bloggers, and can go viral.
  • Cons: Only applies to video content. Traffic needed. May need relationships with businesses.
  • Best When: You are a successful video content creator.

Directly sell ad space on your blog

Sell ad space to other bloggers or businesses without going through a middle man (ad networks).

  • Pros: No middleman, total control over what ads you want to display, more profit, and you can choose ad designs that complement your blog.
  • Cons: Fewer ads to choose from and harder to arrange than AdWords (or equivalent).
  • Best When: You share an audience with a blogger or business that’s interested in advertising on your site.

Sell, Sell, Sell – Blog Stores

Sometimes, the best way to make money off your blog is to treat it like a sales platform.

The biggest problem for most online businesses is they lack traffic volume and a repeat audience. As a blogger, that’s your bread and butter.

Bloggers get so hung up on providing free content that they forget they are allowed to sell to their audiences. If you provide real value with your content and offer something relevant, your audience would love to buy from you.

Here are the best ways:

Create blog merchandise:

Sell shirts, caps, or just about any merchandise from your blog.

  • Pros: A fun idea which under the right conditions will make a great income; check out Cafepress and Merchify for ideas.
  • Cons: Situational — some brands just don’t make for good merchandise.
  • Best When: You have an active, engaged community and a cool social brand. E.g., it’s perfect for health blogs.

Auctions/eBay store

You can create a simple eBay store for your blog. It’s easy and a quick way to start earning an income. Alternatively, you can auction items to your audience without eBay.

  • Pros: Easy and cheap to set up.
  • Cons: Not suitable for every blog, people might take you less seriously depending on niche, and probably not a steady income.
  • Best When: You are in a creative category such as DIY or in a niche that has many physical products associated with it.

Start an ecommerce store

Sell items directly from your blog with no third party involvement.

  • Pros: This is a great way to monetize a blog; a varied inventory can create fantastic revenue.
  • Cons: Need products to sell. Not all niches can be successful – or at least not without thinking outside the box. Check out Lynne Knowlton’s selection of products.
  • Best When: You have many things to sell or have a blog for business purposes.

Reviews and Sponsorships

As a blogger, your biggest asset is your audience.

They give you authority and influence. And when influential people speak – others listen.

This makes bloggers like you perfect for product reviews and sponsorships. These strategies have been around for a long time – and for good reason; they work.

You can use the power your audience gives you to earn a living, without violating your audience’s trust or using any sleazy tactics.

Here are the best ways:

Paid reviews

Paid reviews are where an advertiser pays the blogger for a review of their product or service. Bloggers should let the audience know when a post is paid for; in some countries it’s required by law (including the U.S.). You can use PayPerPost, com or make your own arrangements.

  • Pros: You get paid to review products and services in your niche. It’s easy and requires little effort.
  • Cons: Not every niche and blog has the opportunity to review a product. This method is a short-term monetization strategy.
  • Best When: You have a popular blog with a lot of reach and an audience that is understanding.

Receive gifts for reviewing products

Getting paid in the form of products or services can be another source of revenue.

  • Pros: An easy way to get rewarded. You can set up a page on your blog to let people know you do reviews, or you can email people directly if you are interested.
  • Cons: Most people would prefer cash payments.
  • Best When: You have a large audience that values your opinion.

Get sponsored by a company

Leverage your audience and influence to get sponsored by a company that will pay you in cash or gifts to promote them.

  • Pros: Can be lucrative, and you don’t have to do your own development or branding.
  • Cons: Usually you need to have a popular blog.
  • Best When: You have a popular blog and you outreach to companies that you have an interest in working with.

Become a brand ambassador

If you love a particular brand, you can try to become a brand ambassador. You promote a company and get paid in commissions, free gifts, or cash.

  • Pros: A great way to earn and promote your favourite companies.
  • Cons: You need to have a company you strongly believe in that fits your image, you need a large following, and your reputation is in another’s hands.
  • Best When: There is a company that lives up to your expectations of quality, service, and ideals — and is beneficial to your audience.

Passive Income

Every blogger has fantasized about making a fully passive income at some stage.

And affiliate marketing is the best way of doing that. But even with passive income, you still have to do some work.

Well, initially at least.

But get it right and your life will change in a big way. So kick back, relax, and watch that money come rolling in.

Here are the best ways:

Join an Affiliate Program

Becoming an affiliate is the perfect way to make money selling products or services without having to invest time in creating them yourself.

  • Pros: Great source of potential revenue, no need to develop your own products.
  • Cons: Turn your audience away if you promote the wrong type of product, lose audience to competitors, lose audience if you overdo it, and not as much money as making your own products.
  • Best When: You have a large devoted audience, you want to make extra money to an already successful blog, or you want to “test drive” an idea before committing your own time and money.

Affiliate links in posts

You create “evergreen” content with links to affiliate products – this is not promoting another blogger’s products via email advertising. For an example of affiliate links in posts, check out Darren Rowse’s Digital Photography School. The difference is subtle, but some audiences simply do not want to hear about other people’s products in your email messages.

  • Pros: Earns money while providing value to your audience. Perfect for monetizing your current content.
  • Cons: Takes some effort to set up; very few people could make a full living off affiliate links in posts.
  • Best When: You create incredible list articles with affiliate links and you have a large audience.

Webhosting referral affiliates: (Bluehost, Godaddy, Hostgator)

Promote a service you trust and use on your blog to earn commissions.

  • Pros: It’s easy, no special skills are needed, and anyone can do it. All website owners need hosting.
  • Cons: Like other affiliate links, this usually won’t be enough to make a full living, and needs lots of traffic.
  • Best When: Using hosting companies that you trust and use with your blog. Your audience has or intends to have a website, e.g., blogging, social media, and business niches.

Affiliate sales from social media (Instagram and Pinterest)

If you have a large presence on Instagram or Pinterest, you can promote affiliate products using RewardStyle or ETSY. This is a great way to use your blog in conjunction with social media, and earn money – perfect for visual merchandise, i.e., fashion or design blogging.

  • Pros: A fantastic way to leverage your social media presence.
  • Cons: You need to have a large following to be accepted.
  • Best When: You are a popular blogger that focuses on visual content.

Create an affiliate program for your own products

This is a way to get extra reach and revenue from one of your own products.

  • Pros: Increase profits for no extra work, and a great way to make extra sales and get exposure.
  • Cons: Not as profitable as tapping into the market without a middleman.
  • Best When: You have an expensive product to sell and have relationships with influencers in your niche.

Directly sell other bloggers’ products and get commissions

Like affiliate marketing, you’re selling other people’s products, but unlike traditional affiliate marketing, the commission is determined directly between you and the other party.

  • Pros: High commissions and relevant to your audience. Good way to build goodwill and relationships with other bigger players in your niche.
  • Cons: You need strong connections to other bloggers – which means you are already established. Has potential to lose your readers to your competition.
  • Best When: You already have a medium to large email list and have good relationships with other bloggers/businesses/gurus. 

Be a Leader

As a blogger, you’re naturally a coach and mentor to your audience.

You love what you do, and you wouldn’t change a thing. So, why not get paid for it?

Everybody wants your help, but it’s not possible to help everyone. You need to prioritize and still find the time to create quality content.

When you charge for your services, you can focus on your work, provide quality advice, and spend

your time more wisely.

Here are the best ways: 

Consulting

Consulting is about using your expertise to provide specific problem-solving or troubleshooting – such as providing marketing advice or strategy. E.g., Neil Patel. Consulting usually requires you to have a specific skillset.

  • Pros: Usually more lucrative than coaching and builds your credibility faster. Great as a primary or secondary revenue stream.
  • Cons: Requires a high level of authority and credibility in your niche when compared to coaching, therefore not the best option for total beginners. It’s also time intensive.
  • Best When: Your intervention can have quick and measurable results (changing marketing strategy, providing SEO audits etc.), usually “service” based.

Coaching

You offer expertise to help your clients resolve a problem – coaching is similar to consulting, but there is more emphasis on providing support, encouragement, motivation, and guidance. With coaching, there is less emphasis on having a specific skillset or qualification in general and more emphasis on support and feedback.

  • Pros: Provides a consistent flat rate and a reliable income, and you also learn more about your audience.
  • Cons: It is a time-heavy process that slows the growth of your blog and requires a certain amount of authority.
  • Best When: There is a longer-term issue or problem that requires more than one or two sessions to resolve — e.g., lifestyle change, personal development.

Group coaching programs

Like advanced consulting for a whole group of clients through a predefined curriculum. You provide lessons, exercises, feedback, and mentoring.

  • Pros: You learn new skills and get rapid feedback about what your customers want – while being paid.
  • Cons: A lot of time is taken in running and preparing these courses. You need some level of experience.
  • Best When: You have already had success with one-on-one coaching and are looking to take on more students at once — e.g., Selena Soo.

Get Paid for Superior Content

It’s your job to create incredible content for your audience.

You spend countless hours researching, writing, creating and editing. But some content is just too valuable, too time intensive and too in-depth to be given away for free.

If you didn’t charge for it – it would be impossible to keep your standards that high.

This is a natural progression for any blogger, and it’s a fantastic way to earn money.

Here are the best ways:

Private interview series

You interview experts in your field on a number of important topics and charge a fee for accessing this material — e.g., Yaro Starak from EJ.

  • Pros: These are cheap to set up, easy to scale, and are incredible relationship-building opportunities.
  • Cons: The experts have to be well known authorities in your space for people to consider it valuable enough to pay for. The interviews must provide real value. You need to be fairly well connected.
  • Best When: You are well connected in your niche as well as have other products (with higher prices) for sale.

Develop and sell your own self-paced courses

Self-paced courses are teaching resources that a user goes through at their own pace; usually it’s a combination of text, video, audio, and live calls.

  • Pros: One of the best ways for bloggers to make sustainable, high-level profits. Courses like this build your credibility and can be your sole revenue stream.
  • Cons: Time and effort intensive to put together, and you need a lot of experience in your field (to create worthy learning resources).
  • Best When: You are a popular blogger who’s ready to step up to the challenge – this separates the casual bloggers from the big boys. E.g., Jon Morrow’s Guest Blogging

Create a video course

Video courses are similar to self-paced courses, but they focus heavily on in-depth “over the shoulder” type videos. These are perfect for instructing complex tasks that users need to view multiple times to follow.

  • Pros: Same as a self-paced course.
  • Cons: Video courses take a lot of time to set up, may require special video and editing software, and high production value is a must, due to repeated viewing.
  • Best When: You are in a technical niche like link building / SEO. E.g., Brian Dean.

E-books

E-books are a great place to start monetizing.

  • Pros: Low up-front and overhead costs, no ongoing cost or customer support, easy to create, and you gain credibility and widen your audience.
  • Cons: Relatively low profit per sale, and requires high volume to make money.
  • Best when: You have other forms of revenue, and you are looking to expand your authority. E.g., Enchanting Marketing.

Membership Site

Create regular private content that users pay to view.

  • Pros: A great way to get consistent money (this works by charging a relatively small, recurring monthly fee).
  • Cons: You need to produce regular high-quality content that’s worth paying for.
  • Best When: You have a ton of high-quality topics to discuss, and you’re invested in creating high-quality content consistently for the long term.

Private forum

A great way to reach out to hundreds or thousands of clients at once.

  • Pros: Like private membership content but usually more time intensive. The quality is usually lower than that of premium courses.
  • Cons: It takes a lot of time and energy to set up, and the level of service is usually not as high as a self-paced course.
  • Best When: You have a loyal audience and you are willing to spend time each day to review threads and post in forums, or when you have other “power users” that will aid you in the forums.

Leverage Your Blogging Skills

As a blogger, you develop a particular skill set.

This skill set is extremely valuable in the real world. But most bloggers take it for granted – some don’t realize how sought after these skills can be.

But if you’re smart, you can use these skills to your advantage.

Here are the best ways:

Paid guest posts

There’re blogs and business sites that pay you to guest post. Do this regularly and the money starts to add up. Check out some great resources for paid guest posting: here, here and here.

  • Pros: Great way to polish your writing and get paid for it.
  • Cons: Too time intensive to make a lot of money.
  • Best When: You want to earn some money while polishing your writing skills.

Ghost-writing for other bloggers or sites

Earn money by offering ghost-writing services for other blogs or businesses. This is similar to guest posting, but you’re not credited for the work, and you’ll usually get paid more per post.

  • Pros: Fantastic way to boost revenue and build relationships.
  • Cons: Time consuming, and a lot of bloggers may find it unsatisfying in the long run.
  • Best When: You are in the freelancing / blogging / writing niche, which means you can charge a lot more and build a reputation with popular bloggers and businesses.

Use your blog as a platform for a higher-paying job

Use your blog as a launching pad for a much higher-paying career in the real world. Make yourself an authority in the niche your ideal job fits into, and use it as leverage in your workplace or the job market. You can also launch your own freelance career as a blogger, writer, or coach.

  • Pros: Gives the security of a “real” job. A lot of people prefer more traditional and structured ways to earn money.
  • Cons: Ultimately, you are bound by the job market.
  • Best When: Your passion lies within a particular business sector or you are self-employed.

Write sales letters

Writing a sales letter is similar to a sales page for a business, but it’s longer, more detailed, more difficult, and requires a high level of copywriting and marketing skills.

  • Pros: Direct marketing is a particular skill that can earn you much more money compared to traditional copywriting.
  • Cons: It’s an acquired skill, and not everyone is capable of doing it well.
  • Best When: You’re a blogger in the marketing/copywriting niche with a few years of experience.

Publish a book

Write and publish a physical book. Many bloggers have become bestselling authors; some even have a few books under their belts.

  • Pros: Books are an incredible authority booster, and you receive huge acclaim and open up other opportunities. Not only do you make money from book sales, but you also can increase your rates on all your other offerings.
  • Cons: For this to have any real chance, you need a fairly large and devoted audience.
  • Best When: You’re a gifted writer, and you run a popular blog. E.g., Seth Godin.

Write web copy for businesses/blogs 

A great way to use your copywriting skills is to write sales copy for websites. Copywriting for company websites and sales pages is a sought after skill, and can be hugely rewarding. 

  • Pros: Get paid a lot more than just writing articles.
  • Cons: Providing a service like this usually only applies if you are in the blogging, social media, or marketing niches.
  • Best When: You are in the right niche and have some degree of authority and/or marketing experience.

Form a partnership (with another blogger, online business, or physical business)

Enter a mutual business relationship with another blogger, business, or physical business, and get paid to do so.

  • Pros: Access to revenue or skillsets that you otherwise wouldn’t have. With a mutual partnership, you have the option to split up work, access to products you normally would not have, and the freedom to focus on doing what you’re best at.
  • Cons: Not receiving full profits.
  • Best When: Your blog is related to an industry with business opportunities, and you are well connected.

The Power of Events

You’re probably pretty social.

You love talking with your audience, you love networking with other bloggers, and you love to share what’s on your mind – and the best way to share ideas is to share with a receptive group.

And creating an event is an excellent way to teach, raise your profile, and get paid.

Here are the best ways: 

Organize an event (in real life)

Step out from behind your keyboard, and organize a real-life event. Take the lead and earn money from real-life events — like Copyblogger, Problogger, or NerdFitness (check out this awesome fit camp) — if you have readers that are in proximity to you or are willing to travel. Most people put more value in a face-to-face interaction and are willing to pay for the experience. Events will bond you with readers, and are mutually beneficial.

  • Pros: You can make great money and strong bonds with readers.
  • Cons: It can be difficult logistically and may not work in some niches; usually you would need to be well known and respected.
  • Best When: You have a strong bond with your audience, and you can organise an event worth paying for.

Paid speaking gigs

Use your blog as a platform to launch a speaking career.

  • Pros: Branch out from your blog for a well-paid and rewarding speaking career.
  • Cons: The suitability of this depends on your authority, niche, and comfort with public speaking.
  • Best When: You’re passionate and imagine yourself “blogging” in front of a large, live audience. E.g., Neil Patel (above) or Adam Franklin.

Host a branded Twitter party

Bloggers have more authority on social media than most businesses or online users. If your blog gives you clout on Twitter, approach a business or company to host a branded Twitter party and get paid for your efforts.

  • Pros: Leverage your large Twitter following and get paid to promote.
  • Cons: A Twitter party is audience specific and brand specific. This strategy requires your audience’s “permission” and participation, and it would put some people off.
  • Best When: You know your audience likes the brand/product being promoted, and you have a large Twitter following.

Live workshops

You can hold a webinar online, or a real-life local event, which requires payment to attend. E.g., Jon Morrow’s live workshops for his Guest Blogging program.

  • Pros: A cool way to teach and engage an audience which is very rewarding and provides you with a good income. Similar to group coaching but with a higher price bracket.
  • Cons: You would need to organize well and have a high level of service and value for this to work.
  • Best When: You have had some practice with webinar software and consulting.

Get the Crowd On Your Side

Rally the troops and form an army.

With the power of the crowd on your side, you can achieve incredible things.

Harnessing the power of crowdfunding has never been easier; there is money to be made, projects to complete, and lives to change.

If you have the will, and the right people behind you, there’s a way.

Here are the best ways:

Create a crowdfunding page

If you have a specific goal or mission for your blog, create a crowdfunding page, and source funds from your audience.

  • Pros: Get paid for having a vision and the initiative to start something your audience appreciates.
  • Cons: Ideally, you need a mission people can get behind, and this method usually doesn’t provide reoccurring income.
  • Best When: You have a vision, goal, or mission that inspires people to take action — you may be helping others (like Pat Flynn did), have a special project you want to work on, or be developing a product your fans want ( with an epic $50 million dollars from crowdfunding – check out their blog here).

Enroll in the Beacon network

Get donations for your creative work.

  • Pros: An innovative way to get paid for your work.
  • Cons: Not yet a proven way, and it’s mostly for creative work.
  • Best When: You have a blog in the creative space, and you want to try something different.

Get fan funding with Patreon

Get donations for your creative work – this is like crowd funding but for a sequence of smaller projects.

  1. Pros: A great way to make money for content in the creative space. A unique way to build a bond with your fans.
  2. Cons: It’s not mainstream, and your audience would need to adopt the Patreon system.
  3. Best When: You create creative projects, and your audience is open to new ideas. E.g., Cliff Ravenscraft uses Patreon for his podcasts.

Get your audience on Flattr

An interesting platform for you to share your creative content and get paid for each “like” from any Flattr user. 

  • Pros: In theory, it’s a great way to get paid for your creative work.
  • Cons: You have to convince your audience to use the Flattr system.
  • Best When: A large part of your audience uses Flattr.

Get tips on Tiptheweb

Encourage your readers to use a tipping service to get paid for your creative work.

  • Pros: You get rewarded for your outstanding work on a per case basis.
  • Cons: This is in the beta stage, meaning you most likely won’t get enough people tipping to make a solid income.
  • Best When: You consistently create great content, and your audience members are early adopters that benefit from your work.

Let your audience show gratitude on Gratipay: Similar to tipping but provides a reoccurring weekly donation for doing good work.

  • Pros: You have a better chance to make regular income than tipping since you get weekly payments.
  • Cons: Might have a harder time convincing your audience to commit to reoccurring weekly payments.
  • Best When: You have a loyal audience, you create great content, and you do not advertise or sell any other products.

Just ask for donations (PayPal)

A bit of an old-school way to make money blogging. Just put up a donations page, and ask your readers to donate, either for a specific one-off purpose (e.g., buying a new microphone) or just in general. This can work well, depending on your audience. E.g., Scooby’s Fitness Network.

  • Pros: One of the easiest ways to make money from your blog.
  • Cons: Not a dependable income and as most people will not donate.
  • Best When: Your readers feel in debt to you and your great work, especially when you don’t push any products on them. 

Get Technical

Sometimes it’s necessary to get technical.

Creating a unique product for your audience takes a lot of resources, planning, and work. If you have the know-how and the will to make it happen, you can achieve great things.

I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m saying that if you do it right, it’s going to be worth it.

Here are the best ways:

Develop and sell your own physical products

Much like selling your own programs, but this product is physical. 

  • Pros: A physical product lends you credibility and makes you seem more serious than your competitors. Physical products are often easier to market.
  • Cons: Costs are higher due to producing prototypes. Higher risk strategy when compared to non-physical products or courses due to upfront costs.
  • Best When: You are in a niche that allows for physical products. E.g., no meat athletes gear.

Sell your blog/site template or theme

Sell your custom designed blog theme or template.

  • Pros: A great way to make money if you have a unique theme that people like.
  • Cons: Not every theme and template would apply; most wouldn’t.
  • Best When: You have your own custom theme that your readers ask you about regularly.

Develop and sell your own software:

This is specific to your industry; your programs could be web-based programs, software, or systems that you directly sell to your audience.

  • Pros: The best option for high revenues, and it can be your sole revenue stream. Specifically designed with your audience in mind, which makes it much easier to sell.
  • Cons: An advanced method, it takes a lot of time and money to set up. It’s crucial to have experience (or an experienced team) in development and to really know your audience before you attempt to create these programs.
  • Best When: You have an already popular blog, in the right niche, with a proven track record in sales, and you have money to invest in hiring experts to help you. For example, AppSumo, created by Noah Kagan who runs his own blog at OkDork, or KISSmetrics.

Create a mobile app

Create a mobile app related to your audience, use it as a way to sell something, or leverage it for promotion, advertising, and brand awareness opportunities.

  • Pros: A unique approach, and unlike other app developers, you already have an established audience. Use your blog as a platform to distribute your app, build awareness, and create cross-promotional opportunities.
  • Cons: Technically challenging, and you need to have a good idea of what people want.
  • Best When: You have experience in development, you know your audience well and understand what they need. The level of complexity varies, but you would need a developer if you do not have the skills. Here is a non-tech example.

Try Something Different – Break the Mould

Sometimes, the best way to make a living from your blog is to try something new.

That’s the beauty of it; there really isn’t a limit to what you can do.

If you have the courage to try something different, you may get the rewards you’ve always wanted.

Try something unconventional, innovative, cutting edge – or even downright crazy!

If you have the vision, passion, and drive, no one is going to stop you.

Now go get ’em tiger!

Here are the best ways:

Treat it like a business, and look for an angel investor

If you’re looking to turn your blog into a profitable business, search for investors to back you financially and strategically. Look to Mashable and BuzzFeed for examples.

  • Pros: Secure funding to invest in your blog and the security of knowing successful business people are backing you.
  • Cons: It’s less like a traditional blog and more like a business, which requires a regimented and profit-driven approach.
  • Best When: You have a vision, and you want to build a business around that.

Use a paywall

Paywalls are commonly associated with news websites, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t use them for a blog.

  • Pros: Proven in other industries to make money with your content. A great opportunity to make it work for blogging. Great with in-depth content or more news-type blogs.
  • Cons: Will put a lot of people off.
  • Best When: You have a popular blog with exclusive

Try an “out there” idea

Check out Lynne’s awesome treehouse. She thought outside the box and made money from it. You may not have a treehouse, but you have skills, services, opportunities, or physical products that a portion of your audience will be interested in. 

  • Pros: Unique to the individual; almost everyone has something special they can offer.
  • Cons: You have to look hard to create opportunities.
  • Best When: You identify your unique offer, and you have the courage to try it out.

Sell your blog

Sick of your blog? Sell it. Get paid for your effort; look how Ramsay Taplin and Yaro Starak sold theirs.

  • Pros: Get rewarded for all your hard work with none of the pressure.
  • Cons: It’s usually only one payment unless you have a licensing contract, which can be complicated to arrange. Your blog needs to hold a business value to be eligible for sale.
  • Works Best: When you have a successful blog that you want to get rid of.

Here’s a Toast to Your Success

You have choices to make.

Choose the right ones for you and your blog – and you’ll be rewarded.

Hundreds of thousands of people make money from their blogs; some even make enough to quit their day jobs.

Stop wondering what it would be like - join them.

In reality, it’s no harder than what you do as your job every day.

But without blind luck, the only way to get there is understanding your options, choosing some strategies, and working toward your goal.

Targeted action is the difference between success and failure.

There is a lot riding on your decisions.

But don’t use that as an excuse to take no action.

The only decision you’ll regret is the one you don’t make at all.

Right now, action is vital.

Even if it means you make mistakes.

You can adapt and change later – just start now.

You have your options laid out in front of you – make your choices, and work at them.

It’s time to make a move.

Are you ready?

 

Paul Back will help you grow your blog, increase your traffic, and teach you to make money online. If you’re serious about blogging, then head on over and get your free guide to The 3 Most Effective Blog Monetization Methods and start earning a good living from your blog, quickly and without frustration.

 

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

The Full Blog Monetization Menu – 60+ Ways to Make Money With Your Blog

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ProBlogger FAQ: How Often Should I Post? http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/04/21/problogger-faq-how-often-should-i-post/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/04/21/problogger-faq-how-often-should-i-post/#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 03:24:21 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=37583 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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ProBlogger FAQ: How Often Should I Post?

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ProBlogger FAQ - How often should I post Darren gives his answer : problogger.net

Post frequency is a topic that comes up often among bloggers. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just started or you’ve been posting for years – people change, algorithms change, and even your motivations for blogging change. No-one is immune from wondering if their schedule is working, or if tweaks can be made for more successful audience interaction.

As I said in my previous FAQ post on how long posts should be – it depends on several factors. The length of posts, the frequency of posting, and definitely post content all require trial and error, and for the blogger to know what their readers respond to best.

There’s been a shift I’ve seen lately – two shifts, actually – in posting schedules that work for certain bloggers posting certain content.

There’s the shift toward following the Upworthy/BuzzFeed model of 10-20 posts a day, and others doing slow, longer, deeper posts.

The choice can even depend on your monetizing model. If you are dependent upon banner ads, your’e going to need more posts. More eyeballs mean more clicks, which mean more money can be made that way.

If you’re selling a product or service, then you’ll do better with slower paced, deeper content. You’ll notice that’s what we’ve been experimenting with here on ProBlogger recently.

Finding a posting schedule requires some homework on the part of the blogger – checking their Analytics to see what posts work best, what times work best, and at what speed. You can canvass your audience for their opinion outright by asking them on Facebook, email newsletters or including the question in your regular surveys and make your decision based on their answer. You also need to canvass yourself – how many posts can you reasonably fit into your schedule before quantity overcomes quality?

In this post on How Many Posts Should a Blogger Post I go into detail about the pros and cons of daily blogging, which might help you make your decision. Of course there are benefits of both, and sometimes it can take a while of testing before you find which works best for you.

You might also find this post useful where our guest writer Ali Luke discusses the surprising answer she found to the universal question.

Have you struggled with this? Or have you found the perfect posting schedule? I’d love to hear in the comments.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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ProBlogger FAQ: How Often Should I Post?

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Make Money Blogging for Real: 3 Must-Know Factors http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/04/20/make-money-blogging-for-real-3-must-know-factors/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/04/20/make-money-blogging-for-real-3-must-know-factors/#comments Sun, 19 Apr 2015 14:16:36 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=36639 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Make Money Blogging for Real: 3 Must-Know Factors

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This is a guest contribution from Jerry Low.

Most people have heard of the success of Perez Hilton’s blog and that he makes somewhere between $200,000 to $400,000 each month blogging about the latest celebrity gossip.

Success stories like Hilton’s might make the prospect of earning a fortune blogging seem real, but the truth is that it is hard work and not very many crack that six figure per month mark. Still, you can make a decent living from blogging, if you know how to go about it.

Every now and then, I’m pulled aside at a family gathering or am emailed by someone who wants to know if it’s possible to make money blogging.

Some of the common questions include:

  • How do you make money online?
  • How does AdSense work?
  • Should I attend this “make money online” course?

The answer is an absolute yes. You can make money blogging.

While not in the six figures, Matthew Woodward, for example, made approximately $20,000 in December of 2014. That’s a pretty nice paycheck for blogging.

Even a simple idea like Michael Malice’s Overheard in New York, where people submit posts of things they’ve heard somewhere in New York, earns about $9,000 a month from private advertising revenue, such as banner ads placed on the site.

Personally, I have been making money online since 2004. I quit my day job as a rubber dam engineer in 2006, and never looked back.

So, again, the answer is: Yes, you can start a blog easily and make some money.

There are a lot of different online business opportunities, too.

The only question left is: Do you have the writing quality and blogging know-how to get it done? It’s not something easy, but I promise you it’s worth it.

5 ways of making money from your blog without having your own product

When you think of making money from a blog, you might think about Google ads, but there are a few different ways you can make money from your blog:

  • AdSense – People make hundreds of thousands from Google AdSense ads. AdSense makes up about one-third of Google’s revenue. Pay is good, but you will need to play by Google’s rules. There are reports where Google AdSensers get bumped out of the program without warning.
  • Affiliate marketing – This is simply a way to sell related items without the cost of developing a unique product. This is mainly how I make my living online, so this is a viable way to earn money from your blog.
  • Banner ads – Another way to make money from your blog is to sell banner ads on third party sites such as BuySellAds.com. My experience is that this is fairly low pay, but better than nothing. All the different areas of your income can pool together to make a difference in your overall blog earnings.
  • Selling ads directly on your blog – You can earn good money by selling banner ads directly on your blog. However, your blog must first have a good amount of traffic to attract the higher paying advertisers. At first, it might be better to focus on building that traffic and then you can more easily attract the big players.
  • Product reviewer – This might not pay you monetarily, other than the amount you’re earning from blogging, but it can help you try out the newest products in your niche. Merchants send you their products for trial, and you write an honest review. WHSR blogger Gina Badalaty, for example, does this and wrote some great tips on how to become a product reviewer. The key to becoming a product reviewer is that you need to be an influencer in your niche. Personally I get free hosting accounts to test at WHSR so I can write a review on it.

3 key factors: What makes my blog work and why yours doesn’t?

1. You need to be in a profitable niche!

One of the first things you want to think about is your niche and whether it is profitable. Some experts advise being a big fish in a small pond, but I think the exact opposite. You should try the big pond because that is where the money is.

While your great Aunt Mary’s unique recycled dress quilts might be amazing, not that many people are as interested in reading about them as about quilting in general. Don’t limit your topic too much.

When I first got started, I created a site selling inflatable boats online. Can you imagine how many people might buy inflatable boats online? That’s right, not many.

What’s worse, this product is a seasonal product and only sells during the summer, so I was further limited in my sales. Having that said, I did make some money from the site – averaging not more than two sales per year. My inflatable boat business didn’t even take off enough to launch it onto the small pond, much less a big pond.

So, how do you find a profitable niche? Personally, I use SpyFu to check out what advertisers are spending on a niche that I think I might like to tackle. If advertisers, or merchants, are spending big money on that industry, then it means there is money to be made.

spyfu-cpc

There must be a reason why these people can afford $8 – $17/click on these keywords.

If you do not have a SpyFu membership, you can simply do a Google universe search (search at .com, add &pws=0 at the end of your search strings) on the niche you are interested in. Are there any advertisers in the search results? If so, then there may be money in this niche.

Use Google keyword planner to guesstimate the average price of a click in your industry – with that you can predict roughly how much you can earn per Google AdSense click. The higher the pay per click, the more potential there is to earn.

Login to CJ.com and search merchants – use Network Earnings (the green bar) as a potential earning indicator. See image below to understand how I interpret the numbers at CJ.

cj-adv

Network Earnings = How much the advertisers are paying compare to overall. Higher Network Earnings = more affiliates in the program;. 3 month EPC = Average earning per 100 Clicks = How profitable is this affiliate program in long term; 7 day EPC = Average earning per 100 clicks = Is this a seasonal product?

2. Are you getting sufficient targeted traffic?

Another thing you need to keep in mind is the targeted traffic possibilities for a given niche. To be able to make decent money, your blog must have sufficient targeted traffic possibilities. This is where your SEO and social media marketing (SMM) kick in.

When people search for info relevant to your niche topic, they become your target audience. The more people who search for that topic, the bigger your potential audience.

Also, if someone follows your competitors on Facebook, those people are your targeted audience. If you are thinking about jumping into a niche and you see that your closest competitor has a couple million page likes on Facebook, then that is a good sign that there is a big target audience.

More targeted traffics = more money

However, to win the attention of this target audience, you have to gain skills in both SEO and SMM. It is simple math. The more targeted traffic your blog gets, the more money you’ll make.

Here’s how it works: Let’s say you are selling a web hosting service as an affiliate and the average conversion rate is 3%. On average, every 100 visitors that you refer to the web hosting provider, you’ll manage to get three sales. If you manage to refer 200 visitors, then theoretically there will be six sales down the road.

We want all tails keywords

longshorttail Image credit: Bytelaunch

You’ll want to be sure that you figure for both primary and secondary (short-tail and long-tail) keywords to get the best idea of overall traffic possibilities.

Owen Powis, the CEO of Wordtracker, advises that:

“A clear, well-organized site structure helps Google find your content and makes the navigation of your site easier for your customers.”

Being aware of the different target keywords (both primary and secondary) and the advertising basics aimed at those keywords will make your blog more successful.

3. Are you building a List?

You’ve probably heard multiple gurus saying that building an email list is of ultimate importance when driving traffic to your site. If you want to make money blogging, you’ll want to capture your site visitor’s emails and send them emails that will drive them to visit your site over and over again.

If you need help with building and making money out of your email list, here is a very handy guide written Marya Jan on Problogger.net.

Why is an email list so important? An email list is your greatest asset online because those signed up are trusted leads who have visited your blog. Your email subscribers already trust you and your authority on this topic.

If you were going to buy something online, you would probably look at products based on the recommendation of someone you trust. If you wanted to buy a guide to read, you would first look at guides written by or recommended by someone you trust.

If you were following Adam Connell (from Blogging Wizard) new venture WP Super Stars from the beginning, you should note of is that he started collecting email subscribers ahead of time. That’s right -You can start collecting subscribers before you even have a blog. Reach out to family, friends and acquaintances to get started.

Bottom Line – You can do this!

When it comes to making money from blogging, you have to be creative and keep an eye out for new opportunities and changes in how search engine algorithms and advertising work. However, with a bit of foresight sprinkled with hard work and consistency, you too can make a living from blogging.

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

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Make Money Blogging for Real: 3 Must-Know Factors

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The Only Business Training Resource I Promote Just Opened for Enrolments for One Week http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/04/17/the-only-business-training-resource-i-promote-just-opened-for-enrolments-for-one-week/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/04/17/the-only-business-training-resource-i-promote-just-opened-for-enrolments-for-one-week/#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 16:29:19 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=37447 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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The Only Business Training Resource I Promote Just Opened for Enrolments for One Week

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Update: this course will be open for enrolments for just over 1 more day.

I only promote one blogger training resource each year and this is the only week this until 2016 that they have enrolments open.

I’m very fussy about what blogger training resources I promote (because there is so much hype and dubious practice in this space) but today have a recommendation for an authentic and valuable program that I know will help many ProBlogger readers.

Here’s what you need to know.

The Short Story

The Elite Blog Academy is one of the most comprehensive blogging courses I’ve ever come across – and it’s available to enrol in with an early bird offer for just the next 5 days with the coupon code PROBLOG (which saves you $50).

Check it out here

NewImage

The Longer Story

NewImageLast year I had the opportunity to meet a great US based blogger by the name of Ruth Soukup.

We only had the chance to grab a quick coffee while I was in Portland but in that time Ruth really impressed me with her story of starting and growing her blog Living Well Spending Less.

While like us all Ruth made her share of mistakes in the early days over the first four years of the blog Ruth managed to grow its readership to over a million monthly readers and to generate a full time income from it.

I was really impressed with both Ruth’s success but also the clear and strategic she applied to her blogging.

Numerous times as she spoke I wanted to take notes as she’d been experimenting with techniques I’d not come across before – particularly around Pinterest and social media.

At the end of her story I remember thinking ‘I wish we could bottle what you’ve done and share it with ProBlogger readers’.

No sooner than I’d thought this Ruth slid across the table a white folder with an outline for her EliteBlog Academy course. Yep – she’d bottled it!

The Elite Blog Academy: Enrolments Close in Five Days

Ruth’s Elite Blog Academy is literally her stepping you through her process for building a profitable blog in 12 wonderfully crafted lessons. You can learn more about it here (but use the coupon code PROBLOG to save $50).

Here’s a short video about the course:

The course is delivered through

  • 12 fantastic unit videos
  • 12 very detailed workbooks (with video outlines)
  • 16 helpful handouts, 30 assignments
  • a series of 4 live webinars with Ruth
  • weekly office hours to chat with the team
  • a weekly newsletter
  • a a Private Community forum where you can interact with Ruth and other attendees.

This course is not designed for the faint of heart – it requires work (as does successful blogging) and a willingness to really buckle down. That said, for those who are willing to do the work, it also comes with a 100% money-back guarantee.

Anyone who completes the course and has not seen measurable results in both traffic and income growth will get their money back, no questions asked. That’s a pretty incredible promise, but it means that you’ve literally got nothing to lose. 

If you are ready to finally take your blog to the next level, sign up now to secure your spot here.

Don’t forget to use the coupon code PROBLOG – it’ll save you $50 at check out. The code expires and enrolments close at midnight on 21 April.

Disclaimer: as stated above – I want to be clear that I’m an affiliate for this product but do so having checked it out and genuinely recommending Ruth it’s creator and the program itself. I’m also so impressed with Ruth’s teaching I’m flying her to Australia later this year to do some teaching at our ProBlogger Event – she’s the real deal!

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

The Only Business Training Resource I Promote Just Opened for Enrolments for One Week

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3 Reasons to Stop Relying on How-To Lists for Information (and What to Do Instead)! http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/04/17/3-reasons-to-stop-relying-on-how-to-lists-for-information-and-what-to-do-instead/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/04/17/3-reasons-to-stop-relying-on-how-to-lists-for-information-and-what-to-do-instead/#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 14:21:46 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=36644 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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3 Reasons to Stop Relying on How-To Lists for Information (and What to Do Instead)!

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 This is a guest contribution from Daryl Rothman.

calendar-checklist-list-3243

The truth is out there.

At least, we hope so.

How-to lists are all the rage in the burgeoning blogging world. And many are good, but there is an absolute deluge. The list of lists is growing.

Who has it right? How do you choose? What lists you should rely on?

Simple. None.

Before you loose the slings and arrows of recrimination upon me, hear me out. I didn’t say you shouldn’t read any how-to lists. There are some great ones. Read away! I am saying you need to stop relying upon them. Here’s why.

  • We are so inundated with lists it is easy to get overwhelmed. You are busy. You have important things to do—including writing, especially writing—and you don’t have unlimited time to be navigating your way through the vast sea of offerings. Have you ever been excited about an idea and set about researching related pieces, only to find there were so many that it was impossible to know where to begin or how to prioritize? Did you feel the motivation slowly ebbing away? The ability to strategically focus—in our writing and in our research—is critical, and if you get overwhelmed it is easy to succumb to exasperation and become paralyzed into inaction.
  • “Expert” advice may not in fact be just that. Again, a caveat: questioning one’s expertise is not to suggest they are unmeriting of admiration and respect. But you must be judicious, and proceed with a healthy dose of skepticism. What are this writer’s credentials? Has she presented certain things as fact which are, in fact, opinion? Are there other perspectives she’s neglected? “Expert” advice can be that shimmering mirage in the desert, but danger lurks just beneath: in our anxious quest to be enlightened, to find that quick fix, the holy grail of literary wisdom, we all too often sublimate and diminish our own power and expertise. Be wary of “gurus,” particularly self-appointed ones. Look past the accolades and glitz and learn to be persuaded by—well, persuasion.
  • Most lists are by their nature prescriptive and one-size fits all. And, inevitably, too good to be true. Diamonds are formed about 100 miles beneath the earth’s mantle, and even after they finally breach the surface only a little bit shows—we have to dig to get at the rest. So too with your best literary gems. Lists are inherently dismissive of the myriad and often subtle dynamics and variables unique to each writer. The gurus know we’re busy, and not only crave answers, but prefer them in bite-sized morsels which are easily digestible and immediately applicable. You are jolted with a surge of motivation, and it may even last for a few days, sometimes longer. But then what? Unless the list happened to be the best way lists can motivate you eternally, the magic ultimately begins to fade. And no wonder– little in life is that simple or easy—nothing meaningful or enduring, anyway. Your writing, I hope we agree, is meaningful. And we want it to endure.

So What Now?

Well, I would be negating every point I’ve just raised above if I tell you precisely what. But I do have some suggestions which have been helpful to me and which I believe —if you contemplate and tailor them within the context of your unique goals and experiences—will be useful for you too.

Determine why you may rely upon lists.

Are you short on time? Out of ideas? Struggling to get organized and get started? These are common challenges and it is normal to seek easy answers.

As I’ve said all along, there are good resources out there, including some terrific lists, but once you understand the reasons behind your reliance, you will be better able to address them in more enduring ways.

Seek information which focuses on you, which helps you find your own voice. This WTD article, while admittedly a list, does just that. It is a great example of deferring to your own wisdom, which is in the end, the best kind of advice.

Just the Facts…

Learn to find valuable, credible, reliable information which aligns with your needs and your goals. I am a writer and an early childhood advocate, and in the latter arena, the term “evidence-based practice” is bandied about quite a bit. Evidenced-based, not, “opinion-based.”

There is nothing wrong with reading and enjoying opinion pieces, but if you are reading something with an expectation of expertise and actionable information, you must be judicious. Take a moment to read the author bio and credentials, and evaluate critically that which is being presented.

Embrace your inner expert.

Learn how to build your own cadre of reliable information. Or, as I sometimes call it, “getting your nerd on”.

I do it (it’s really not a big leap for me), and it can be emboldening and fun. Rather than seeking that Holy Grail which contains all the answers for which you’ve thirsted, recognize that “truth” is not conferred upon us through the waving of that wand, and that a good deal of effort is required.

We are lifelong learners, and truth is never quite ours, but we move closest to it when we recognize it is a matter of the journey itself, which can sometimes be a bit of a grind. Writing, reading, networking, researching. But there is a fair bit of magic and community along the way. Keep notes as you go. Seek and consider a diversity of ideas and approaches. Commune with other literary spirits.

Consider the challenges for which you seek counsel and jot down how you would answer if someone else queried these things of you. I’ll bet you have some pretty good thoughts. A simple reminder that the best and most enduring ideas reside within you.

You are an expert in your own right. Embracing that, and sharing it with others, can be very rewarding.

So what do you think? Have I just committed anti-list sacrilege? Please comment and list a few thoughts. 

Daryl Rothman’s debut novel is being published by Booktrope in 2015. He has written for a variety of esteemed publications and his short story “Devil and the Blue Ghosts” won Honorable Mention for Glimmer Train’s prestigious New Writer’s Award Contest. Daryl is on Twitter, Linked In and Google + and he’d love you to drop in for a visit at his website. Daryl is not sure why he is speaking of himself in 3rd-person. And, like George, he likes his chicken spicy.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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3 Reasons to Stop Relying on How-To Lists for Information (and What to Do Instead)!

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Tips for Creating Your First eCourse http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/04/15/tips-for-creating-your-first-ecourse/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/04/15/tips-for-creating-your-first-ecourse/#comments Tue, 14 Apr 2015 14:22:08 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=37319 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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Tips for Creating Your First eCourse

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Tips for starting your first ecourse  problogger.netThere’s a reason you’re seeing an influx of ecourses in the blogosphere of late – it’s a fantastic way to share to a higher (and sometimes more concentrated) degree your talents and knowledge. If you have a niche blog, then there’s a good chance you can come up with an in-depth and useful course that will be helpful for your readers and profitable for you.

If an ecourse is something that’s been on your mind, then read ahead. Last year, Chantelle Ellem of Fat Mum Slim ran her very first blogging ecourse, the Clever Cookie School of Blog, which was a huge success. I picked her brain about how she started the course, what platforms she used, and what she learned. If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments and we’ll try and get an answer for you to start your ecourse journey off on the right foot!

The Overview

What made you decide you wanted to offer an online blogging course?

I was getting emails every single day asking me how to do things on the topic of blogging, really specific questions that needed a lot of time and energy to respond to. And of course I was responding to each of them! I decided that there was obviously a need for a blogging course. It was actually back in 2010 when I dreamed up my blogging course, and it was a time when no one (or not that I knew of) was doing it. Over the years I’d revisit the idea, write the content and structure for the course and eventually I got my butt into gear and launched it this year.

When you began putting the course together did you have a specific outline in mind, or did it come together more as you were writing it?

Because I wrote it back in 2010, so much happened since then, like… Instagram! So I knew that I wanted to cover off everything I knew in my own head about blogging, and put it down into lessons. It definitely evolved as I started writing the content, and realised that I had so much more stuff I wanted to share.

How engaged have people been with it?

People have been amazingly involved. It’s been so well-received. I’ve done blogging courses before and it felt a lot like we were dumped with the information and left there to absorb it. I wanted to be really available to the Clever Cookie students, and let them pick my brain whenever they like. It’s been time-consuming, but good time-consuming. I’ve loved sharing conversations about blogging with the students.

What was the motivation behind getting “guest speakers” in? Were they hard to source?

I don’t know everything there is to know about blogging, and I don’t think anyone does… so I wanted to bring other people in to share their knowledge. I also wanted to teach the students that there’s not just one way to blog successfully. I wanted them to take bits of information from all the different sources, decide what felt right to them, and then make it into their own recipe for blogging success.

Has it been hard to fit it in alongside your regular work?

I’m not going to lie, yes it has. But I love blogging, so it doesn’t always feel like work. And, who needs sleep anyway? I think if I’d just created the content, scheduled it to go live and left the students to it, I’d have more time on my hands… but I want to be there as much as possible, and I wouldn’t be happy doing it any other way

What has surprised you about the course?

A few weeks before I did the course I read a quote that said, “Obvious to you is amazing to others” and it made me realise that the really basic general knowledge is something that I shouldn’t overlook sharing. And that feeling was right, because the most simple lessons I’ve taught in Clever Cookie have been the ones that have resonated most with the students.

What has delighted you?

The community! I love the community that has already blossomed amongst the bloggers. They’ll be their own support network moving forward once the course has long finished. They have access to a Facebook group for graduates and will be able to share, give advice, help each other out and support each other on their journey. Also, we sent out little welcome packs at the start of the course, and people loved getting those presents. Seeing and reading their reactions was a great way to kick off.

What did you learn about running a course like this that you will know for next time?

One big thing I learnt was with finances. The forum we run the course in takes a big chunk of income, and PayPal takes some too. We factored that in of course, but it was expensive, as were the welcome packs and postage. Because my Paypal account hadn’t had income coming in before, Paypal seized all the money (it’s a long story but they like to look after customers so they’ve frozen half the income for the course for six months in case anyone requests a refund). So I learnt those things, which I never knew before. I also learnt that there is some pretty amazing up-and-coming blogging talent out there. That’s exciting!

What would you advise other people if they wanted to run an online course?

I would say to do it! Be organised, set a schedule for the content, make it as social as possible and easy to digest. I’d also have to remind people of that great quote I read before we launched, “obvious to you is amazing to others”.

Tips for starting your first ecourse : problogger.net

The Nitty-Gritty

Platforms

The platform I used to host the course was CourseCraft: https://coursecraft.net/ In an ideal world I’d create my own platform, but this was pretty seamless. They take a percentage of all your profits, but it removed a lot of the stress for us.

Learning Curves

Tech-wise, we really only had to get to know how to use CourseCraft, and that was hard when students would ask about functionality but we didn’t know the answers to. A lot of the teething problems we had were more around figuring out Paypal, grabbing people’s addresses {we sent everyone a welcome pack in the mail}, and working out international times for the Facebook chats that we had with experts in blogging.

Social Media

We didn’t think that Clever Cookie required too many social media platforms to support it, as we already had our own assets, but we started a Facebook page and a new website. We also used MailChimp to email students, and to create a database to gain interest.

Useful Advice

Going into Clever Cookie we just tried to put into it what we’d like to have learned 4 years ago, and went with that. We asked for feedback from our students on completion of the course and it was really, overwhelmingly positive. Over these past six months we’ve seen lots of our graduates go on to achieve awards for blogging, grow their audience, and really soar.

Have you ever considered creating an ecourse? What tips do you have for us? I’d love to hear!

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

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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Tips for Creating Your First eCourse

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The Structure of a Proper Client Proposal That Will Land You a Blogging Gig http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/04/13/the-structure-of-a-proper-client-proposal-that-will-land-you-a-blogging-gig/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/04/13/the-structure-of-a-proper-client-proposal-that-will-land-you-a-blogging-gig/#comments Sun, 12 Apr 2015 14:45:42 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=36649 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

The Structure of a Proper Client Proposal That Will Land You a Blogging Gig

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This is a guest contribution from Karol K.head

Struggling to make money blogging, aren’t you?

SEO doesn’t seem to work for you.

Neither does social media.

And don’t even get me started on commenting on other blogs and online forums … it’s just noise.

Maybe you even subconsciously hate people like Darren, Jon Morrow, or Brian Clark, purely because they’ve succeeded and you haven’t (yet).

First of all, it’s okay. Don’t worry, not being satisfied and trying to look for outside reasons to justify our problems is a natural human reflex. It will pass.

Second of all, maybe you’ve been putting your efforts in the wrong place…

I don’t want to sound too much like a preacher of some kind, but there really are different ways of making money through a blog out there, and they don’t all revolve around: (1) creating content, (2) building an audience, (3) selling info products to that audience. This is just one of the possible methods. A very sound method if executed properly, but still just one among many.

For instance, a counter approach I’d like to present to you today is based around freelance blogging. In other words, it’s about offering blogging services to other website owners. Or to say it even more plainly, it’s about getting paid to blog.

So naturally, the most important question here is how do you convince anyone to hire you, and why would they even want to hire you to write for them if they have a pair of perfectly good writing hands themselves?

This is what we’re going to answer today. Namely, we’re going to discuss how to craft a proposal that will win you freelance blogging gigs.

The method I like to use is something I call the hungry carnivore tactic.

The Structure of a Proper Client Proposal that will Land You a Blogging Gig / problogger.net

Corny, I know. But it works. It’s a four-step process:

  1. Induce hunger.
  2. Serve the appetizer.
  3. Serve the meat.
  4. Serve the dessert.

Let’s take it from the top.

1. Induce hunger

The Structure of a Proper Client Proposal that will Land You a Blogging Gig / problogger.net

It all starts when the carnivore enters a restaurant – your restaurant.

(The carnivore is just a metaphor for your client, by the way.)

The first thing you need to do when you set your eyes on that prospective client is to induce hunger in them.

You want them to feel exactly like a person feels when they enter a restaurant and see everybody eating. In such an environment, they will become hungry right away and inevitably order something.

So how do you do this to a client?

A very good starting point is identifying their problem and talking about it openly. You want to appeal to them by making things tailor-made.

For example, you don’t actually want to offer a standard blog writing service. Instead, you should identify the areas where the prospective client’s blog is lacking and point those areas out. When you do so, the client will start craving a solution.

As much as possible, try using research data when talking about problems. For instance, if you’re pointing out that the client posts irregularly, try looking up a study about standard blog ROI vs. posting frequency; just to name one possibility.

In general, the more you can help your client to understand the issues that need to be addressed, the more they will want to hire you.

2. Serve the appetizer

The Structure of a Proper Client Proposal that will Land You a Blogging Gig / problogger.net

This is the time to start serving up your solutions.

So to grab your carnivore and make them pay attention to you, serve an appetizer that presents a good overview of what’s to come – the meat.

This is about listing goals and objectives – the main vision of what you can provide as a freelance blogger.

Focus on the following:

  • what’s the most important business goal for your client in relation to their blog,
  • what benefits you bring to the table that can make this goal achievable,
    • list specific benefits that are measurable and easy to grasp and be confident about it (in a way, you’re telling them what dish you’re going to serve them),
    • emphasize why those are the benefits the client should be looking for.

Doing all this might sound like a lot of unnecessary work. I mean, after all, why wouldn’t you just send a standard pitch and offer a simple writing service, right? Well, you can do that, but you’ll be leaving a lot of business on the table.

And it’s not just me talking. Here’s what Ruben Gamez – the founder of Bidsketch (client proposal software for freelancers) – thinks about the no.1 mistake that freelance bloggers make when building a pitch or a proposal:

Almost everyone does the minimum in their proposal. Do more than what has been asked.

They’re looking to get more traffic? Research content for their audience, show a couple of popular posts, and suggest similar topics that will do well.

Whatever their goal is, spend a little time doing research, and include your recommendations.

Ruben surely knows what he’s talking about here, considering the fact that he’s built his whole business based on his client proposal skills and years of experience in that area.

Essentially, this is what appetizers are about – getting someone more excited about the main dish that’s to come. Which brings me to:

3. Serve the meat

The Structure of a Proper Client Proposal that will Land You a Blogging Gig / problogger.net

This is “the what” of your offer. In this part, you need to take the things you’ve talked about in the appetizer and list a specific solution that you’re going to provide.

There’s a handful of important elements you should focus on here:

  • Define the scope of the project. Talk about what you will do as part of the project. For example, writing X articles, each one Y-words long, and so on.
  • Describe your process. How you’re going to deliver the articles. How many revisions are possible. The goal here is to secure yourself from any sort of scope creep.
  • Provide the timeline. When each article is going to get delivered. Is this done in one large package or will you be delivering in batches?
  • The payments. Break down what the client is paying for and how you expect to get the money (PayPal, wire transfer, 50-50 split, etc.).

Now the tricky part.

Try offering more than one possible option. The sweet spot is three. Here’s how:

  • Tier #1 (let’s call it that). Consisting of just the minimal number of services that the client needs. Let’s say this one has the price tag of $2,000 – for the sake of this example.
  • Tier #2. The advanced package. This is Tier #1 plus some additional service that the client already mentioned and will consider useful. For example, this can be an overall WordPress blog management service if you’re into such things. This one could be $3,000.
  • Tier #3. The trickster package. This is Tier #2 plus one more additional service. Again, something valuable. Like social media management for their blog posts. The price tag: $3,000.

No typo there, by the way. Tiers #2 and #3 have the same price tag. This is the whole trick. The goal is to convince the client to always go for the most expensive option. If I’m not mistaken, I first learned about this in Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely.

The reasoning behind this tactic is that comparing each option is hard for the human brain, so we need to provide a common denominator. In this case, it’s the price. So when the price for both options is the same, it’s easy to tell which one is a better deal. And that is most likely what the client will end up selecting. This is the meat.

4. Serve the dessert

The Structure of a Proper Client Proposal that will Land You a Blogging Gig / problogger.net

Now the final part. At this stage, the carnivore should already be fairly satisfied with what they’re seeing, so we just need to give them this final nudge.

Some possibilities:

  • List an expiration date. Say that your offer is only valid through {date here}.
  • Provide an early action bonus. Say that if they act today, you will give them one extra service (but make it a simple one – something you can take care of relatively quickly).
  • Display testimonials. This is a good moment to reference some of your previous clients’ opinions. Just two quick testimonials with names and pictures will be enough here.

Finally, conclude with a good call to action.

Just tell them what to do next. You can even use a sub-headline like “Next Steps.” Tell them how to accept your proposal and make it easy. You don’t want the client to get stuck at this point.

In short, list the bare minimum of things you need from the client in order to get started with their project.

The cut-out-n’-keep template

Okay, so that’s it for the theory. But I do have one more thing for you. If you’d like a complete proposal template – built on the principles explained here – just go ahead and click this link.

Finally, what’s your take on this? Is freelance blogging something you’re planning to do in 2015 to grow your blog business in a more direct way?

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.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

The Structure of a Proper Client Proposal That Will Land You a Blogging Gig

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Why Should I Make My Webpage Interactive? http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/04/10/why-should-i-make-my-webpage-interactive/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/04/10/why-should-i-make-my-webpage-interactive/#comments Thu, 09 Apr 2015 14:07:35 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=36705 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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Why Should I Make My Webpage Interactive?

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This is a guest contribution from Ben Shwartz.

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover… but does that extend to eBooks? How about webpages? In the current state of our globalized, media-saturated society, it’s difficult—if not outright impossible—to live by this seemingly antiquated adage. Amidst the hustle and bustle of the World Wide Web, appearance often conquers content in terms of user retention, which makes your landing page the golden ticket to your website’s success.

“If you had one shot, one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted, one moment… would you capture it, or just let it slip?”—Eminem on landing page optimization… or a rap battle.

Generating a home page with interactive features (think layered multimedia and on-site social networking) allows the fireworks to come directly to the customer, instead of having the customer waste his or her precious time searching for what exactly it is that you have to offer. With that said, put your best foot forward and take advantage of all the…well, advantages, an interactive site can procure.

Capture the social media-unfriendly.

For better or for worse, social media often gets a bad rap. For the stubborn old-timers, social media shy, and those who are proud to have never given a virtual thumbs-up or double-tapped to “like,” having an on-site source for communication can be an easy (and potentially covert) transition to get these hesitant folks more inclined to digital networking.

If you’ve already won the first battle by getting them to your site in the first place, the immediate presence of focused content and engaging topics relevant to their interests may compel them to take part in the conversation. Easy, automatic signup options (i.e. via your email account) saves time and gets the user directly apart of the conversation. As a bonus, user profiles are limited within the site’s perimeters, ensuring an extra level of privacy that will be happily received by any reluctant recluse.

For the sake of organization.

If you’re a startup or an e-commerce retailer, chances are you have a string of social media accounts representing your business all around the web. From obvious mainstays like Facebook and Twitter to the more professional LinkedIn and less structurally restrictive Tumblr, there’s a whole pond full of big name outlets for one little fish to navigate. Streamline key topics of interest to establish your site as the primary source of discussion, so as to provide a clear, exact, and timely authority on your site’s content. Allow your social media links to direct traffic back to your site, whether they target new customers with catchy captions or retain existing customers with reminders regarding updates to the content with which they are already familiar.

On the contrary, if you’re looking to give your customers some extra context that you find may interest them (and thus further establish yourself as a thought leader), multimedia tools are available on the market to create centralized hubs of outsourced interaction. Simple, customizable icons link to related and relevant content. Should one recommendation prove beneficial to your customer, there’s a good chance you’ve converted him or her into a repeat user on your own site.

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Enjoy the benefits of live personal presence in real-time.

Social networking, especially within a particular niche, can quickly get to look a lot like a high school cafeteria. You have a few cheerleaders on the hunt for prom dresses, a gaggle of brainiacs preparing for the next Comic-Con, and devoted group of traveling Phish fans. While each individual adheres to a different class schedule, eating at the lunch table affords a precious punctual platform from which to vocalize their hopes, needs, and desires.

While these “lunch tables,” or online outlets for communication, do currently exist (and in great numbers), the current state of cyber affairs stimulates the desire for instant gratification, or feedback in real-time. While alerts and notifications on other outlets can remind you of existing conversations, having an on-site communication tool allows a more organic flow of communication. Customers can feel that they’re actually a part of a dynamic conversation, rather than uttering anonymous nothings to the wind. Users can create more substantial relationships with one another and in turn, return to the site to continue these budding interest-based friendships. Topics will be more likely to stay on course given their placement in a centralized, authoritative position, and you will be more likely to sustain P2P relationships given that your site will be the common link (literally) shared between viewers.  Just like in high school, everyone wants to be a part of a group and their conversation. Your on-site social network will give your viewer a voice and heighten the likelihood that he or she will be heard.

Educate others while educating yourself.

In terms of building a community, user retention is more likely to increase if your viewers feel at home. If they’re already engaging in a conversation, they’re more likely to resume input if they feel that they’re in a group consisting of thoughtful peers based on mutual interests and respect.

Having one (or several) of your team members as an active social presence on your site is a win-win for all parties. From a customer’s perspective, they can gain insight from interaction with a thought leader, and the informal setting in which it takes provides a more humanized and less formal or mechanical component.

Additionally, it goes without saying that a business needs to determine its customers’ desires and interests, and having an inside source on the front lines is one of the easiest ways to do just that. By learning the popular topics in your forums, you’ll have a better idea of what can be added, edited, or removed to maximize your website’s potential and propel your future business goals.

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In essence, an interactive website prioritizes and centralizes not only the products by also the discourse associated with your brand. Your landing page is your money maker, given its status as your company’s official authority. If we stay with the times and realize that consumers must be efficiently engaged to ensure conversion, then we must recognize how important it is to create a visually appealing product that provides a one-stop shop for your audience’s needs.

Finally, consumers strive for a human connection rather than a technical, formalized response to their social networking input. Combine winning visuals with interactive, informal discussions to ensure that your site is one worth reading from one day to the next.

Ben Shwartz is the VP of Marketing for Spot.IM. He loves to buy and sell websites, and immerse himself in anything and everything in the realm of online marketing.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Why Should I Make My Webpage Interactive?

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ProBlogger FAQ: How Long Should Posts Be? http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/04/08/problogger-faq-how-long-should-posts-be/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/04/08/problogger-faq-how-long-should-posts-be/#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 14:43:42 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=37198 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

ProBlogger FAQ: How Long Should Posts Be?

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Over the years I’ve been asked many questions about blogging, but I find there are a few that pop up more often than others. While blogging is different for everyone, I have found that the conclusions I’ve arrived at after all this time still hold true.

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be posting my answers to the most frequently asked questions here at ProBlogger. If you have any you’d like me to answer, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

ProBlogger FAQ How long should posts be We go into the answers.

The biggest question I get asked though, is how long should a post be?

My answer to this is usually “write enough to be useful, and then stop”.

This, of course, means that a post can be any length, and I certainly don’t follow a set formula. You can be useful in 500 words, or you can be useful in 3000 – it all depends.

There has been talk recently about longer-form content and the way Google ranks it as opposed to the bite-size content usually recommended for time-poor readers. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, so it’s best to consider what the topic is, who your reader is, and how much you have to say about it.

Longer-form content

Search ranking

Regardless of the fact we post on a constantly-updated platform, there is still a need for in-depth analysis. Google itself came to the conclusion after a reader experiment that people are looking for both quick answers and to learn more broadly about the topics that interest them.

Long form also content keeps people on the site longer, which seems to be increasingly a factor in Facebook’s and Google’s algorithms and how they rank content. They factor that time spent on your site into their ranking strategy – how long it takes you to get back to Facebook or Google and interact. Did you flick back almost immediately after not finding what you wanted? Or did you spend a few minutes reading, therefore proving the content useful and as something you wanted to see?

CoSchedule recently conducted an experiment on longer-form content and how it was ranked in search results depending on word length. They mentioned the correlations companies like Moz and serpIQ have found between long-form content and search result placement, and also number of backlinks. Garrett at CoSchedule tested key words and found that the 500-word posts rarely ranked at all. He came to the conclusion that Google doesn’t prefer long-form content simply because it was longer, but that length was one of the indicators of quality (out of 200 ranking factors). The point was still to create great content, as Google values value over all.

Virality

In his experiment on QuickSprout, Neil Patel found that his posts that were longer than 1500 words garnered significantly more social shares than the posts that weren’t. Buzzsumo went on to analyze 100 million articles last year only to discover the same thing – the longer the content, the more shares it gets.

 Usefulness

There’s no doubt you can cover much more ground when it comes to long-form content, and the likelihood that you will be providing the answer the reader is looking for, or solving a pain point for them, is higher.

Longer, in-depth, useful articles are still some of the most popular on ProBlogger – posts like Can You Really Make Money Blogging [7 Things I Know about Making Money Blogging]How to Consistently Come Up with Great Post Ideas for Your Blog, and The Ultimate Guide to Making Money with the Amazon Affiliate Program (which is a whopper at 7683 words). They provide value because they answer just about any question anyone would have.

Short Form Content

I’ve experimented with both long and short-form content on ProBlogger, and have sometimes turned what could be an in-depth post into series of shorter posts instead.

The good thing about a series of posts on the one topic is that it creates anticipation. While it’s never been as successful for me (share-wise) as long-form content, it’s still useful. The best response I’ve seen to a series of posts I’ve done is when I first published 31 Days to Build a Better Blog – where, by posting something every day, I built a community of bloggers all taking small steps in a month to create more successful blogs.

How to Decide?

As I mentioned earlier, the length of your posts depend on various factors. There doesn’t seem to be a one-size-fits-all approach, and very much requires you take into account the topic, your blog, and it’s readers.

Benefits of long-form content:

  • Provides answers to questions
  • Is ranked higher in search results by Google
  • Get shared more
  • Asserts your authority (particularly the in-depth, heavily researched types)
  • Increases engagement
  • Increases the likelihood of quality backlinks
  • Provides value
  • Keeps readers on site
  • Easier to naturally use keywords more often
  • Convenient for readers – all answers in one go

Cons

  • It takes time and effort
  • People might not read as they don’t have the time as it comes through their newsfeed
  • People might save it to read later and then forget
  • It may overwhelm the reader

Benefits of short-form content

  • Easily digestible
  • Easily shared
  • Easily written
  • Helps you keep a consistent updating schedule

Cons

  • Might not be long enough to provide what the reader is looking for
  • Easy to read and forget
  • Could get lost in the busy internet crush
  • Doesn’t establish credibility the way a long-form post can

The idea is to weigh the pros and cons of each and come up with a formula that feels good to you.

Joe from The Write Practice breaks it down well in his post “How Long Should Your Posts Be? A Writer’s Guide” – giving common blog posts lengths and the best types of topics they’re suited to.

Neil Patel outlines the factors you need to take into account before deciding on post length in this post, but asserts that substance is the most basic consideration. “What are you trying to say? What’s the substance? If you can say it in 100 words, then you may want to do so. If it requires 2,000 words, that’s fine too,” he says.

It all comes down to content. Good, useful content that people enjoy reading. Write enough to be useful, then stop.

What are your thoughts? Have you seen short-form do well? Or are you more of a long-form writer? I’d love to hear in the comments.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

ProBlogger FAQ: How Long Should Posts Be?

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Top Takeaways from ProBlogger Perth Training Event: Content, Blog Design, Social Media, Productivity, and Monetization http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/04/06/top-takeaways-from-problogger-perth-training-event-content-blog-design-social-media-productivity-and-monetization/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/04/06/top-takeaways-from-problogger-perth-training-event-content-blog-design-social-media-productivity-and-monetization/#comments Sun, 05 Apr 2015 14:15:58 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=37100 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Top Takeaways from ProBlogger Perth Training Event: Content, Blog Design, Social Media, Productivity, and Monetization

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In the lead-up to the main ProBlogger Event on the Gold Coast this year, we have held various workshops and panels around the country, teaching and inspiring bloggers in their own home towns.

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February saw the first full-day event in Perth, Western Australia with both local and interstate speakers on the topics of content, better blog design, social media for blog growth, productivity, and monetization.

We’ve rounded up the top three tips from each speaker for those who couldn’t attend.

Darren Rowse (Keynote) How to Build Sustainable, Long-Term Blogging Success Through the Creation of Meaningful Blogs and Social Engagement.

Darren took us through the main pain points of beginner bloggers, and even those of us who feel like we’ve slogged away for years without much to show for it – with so many blogs out there how do I do I stand out and build an audience? How can I break through the noise? And wow do I establish myself and build a profile when everyone else is doing the same thing?

You May Not Need to Grow as Much as You Think

Darren showcased bloggers with minimal traffic making maximum money – proof that you don’t have to have hundreds of thousands of followers to make blogging work for you.

5 Lessons I Learned about Making a Living from Blogging with Smaller Amounts of Traffic

For those of us who make it work on much more modest traffic, Darren outlined the ways they’ve succeeded where others have failed – namely, it does depend on your business model:

10945560_10150687087939945_4904796194490385344_nThat diversity of income streams is crucial (not all eggs in one basket – what if one of those eggs fails and you lose all your traffic and income overnight?), and that you’re targeting the right reader, connected readers, readers who will be advocates for you, who respond to brand messages, affiliate promotions, and who buy your products and services. You want to aim for connected, engaged readers, not those who fly in and fly out.

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Fill a Gap

Those blogs who are successful are doing things that others are not – perhaps they were the first of their kind, or they built a following by jumping on a trend that was popular at the time. Perhaps they were an emerging sub niche, coming along at just the right moment when need is high. Or perhaps they are catering to an ignored demographic – people who wish there was something created that spoke directly to them.

Where can you fill a gap? Where can you tend a growing need? Where can you spearhead a trend that is just about to hit? Poke around in the corners of what people want before you quit, believing there’s just too many people all saying what you want to say.

Nicole Avery, How to Streamline Your Blogging Workflow

Nicole’s presentation was easily the most popular one of the day, with her practical tips and strategies to make the best use of the time you have to blog. Nicole took us through her personal routines of running one of Australia’s most popular parenting blogs while also being the mother of five kids.

Her top three tips include:

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Find Out Where You Are Now:

Analyse the time you spend on your blog, and see where you might be wasting it, or it might be better spent elsewhere. Use programs like Rescue Time to get a snapshot of where you are.

Find Out Where You Are Going

It’s easy to waste time when you’re not certain where you should be spending it. Create a goal, create a content plan toward that goal, and create a work schedule to help you achieve that goal.

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Take Action

Your work schedule should be mostly work, minimum admin and processing. Nicole recommends you set up your calendars and toolbars for success – have everything to hand and everything written down. Set up your email inbox with canned response to help you cut back time in order to spend it on more productive pursuits. Above all, stay focused. (image)

Nicole has shared her slides here, and her resources mentioned to help you improve your blogging workflow here.

Kelly Exeter, the 5 + 5 Formula for Great Blog Design

Kelly Exeter of Swish Design has worked on some of the best blogs in Australia, creating functional websites that also look beautiful. She gave us her top five tips for each over the course of the hour.

Functionality

Your blog must support and enhance your brand, make your reader feel at home, offer a logical pathway around your site, get the reader to take some kind of action, and help you achieve your blogging goals.

Top Takeaways from ProBlogger Perth Training Event: Content, Blog Design, Social Media, Productivity, and Monetization

 

Design

Needs a great header, logical naviation, clean sidebar, clear content area, and effective use of white space.

Top Takeaways from ProBlogger Perth Training Event: Content, Blog Design, Social Media, Productivity, and Monetization

Stacey Roberts, An Introduction to Turning Your Blog into a Business

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I outlined an overview of the myriad ways to make money, and how to keep it sustainable, most of which I’ve used on my own blog, Veggie Mama. The most important thing though, is staying true to yourself, having a vision, being honest with readers, and working hard.

 

Ways to Monetize

Really only limited by your imagination, there are numerous ways to make your blog profitable. From the immediate ideas of advertising, affiliate sales, brand collaborations and own products, to audio/video, freelancing, consulting, syndication, merchandising, and more.

What you need to focus on is: what are you passionate about? What is realistic for you? Where do your talents lie? Do you want active or passive income (or both)? The intersection of these dictates how you should monetize.

Pricing

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Without an industry standard, it can be difficult to put a price on what you do. Overcharge, and nobody will buy. Undercharge, and you sell yourself short. We went through several ways to formulate a price for your work – from this calculation, to seeing what others charge, and considering your qualifications and skill.

Media Kits

Brand collaborations are a popular way of monetizing your blog, and for many bloggers can also bring in the bulk of the income. To get a foot in the door with brands, you will need a media kit – a one-stop resume of sorts of your blog, your audience, and your prices. We also discussed how to get on a brand radar, and how to make your blog brand-ready. You can read the Ultimate Guide to Creating a Media Kit here, where I go into detail about what they should contain, and how to make them look professional.

My slides from the presentation and my downloadable cheat sheet of info and links mentioned is here.

Christie Burnett, Mastering Social Media for Blog Growth

Christie from Childhood 101 has a huge Facebook following, and let us all in on how she grew it, and how she keeps it healthy.

Define Your Voice

Make your social media reflect your brand – whether you’re humorous, helpful, authoritative, etc. Be consistent with that voice.

Invite Participation from your Readership.

Don’t think of it as a one-way relationship, but rather an ongoing discussion. Readers like to know they’re welcome to contribute, and that their contributions are important.

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Develop a Social Media Plan That Works

Your plan needs to consider your content, your style, and the time you have available. Christie recommended bloggers “plan, schedule, track analytics, repeat”.

Christie also discussed using the right tools to help you share and keep track of your shares – whether you use a calendar, a plugin, a third-party app or whatever works for you. Make a note of what was popular with readers, and what didn’t work quite so well. Get to know your audience and cater to their needs.

Christie’s presentation slides are here.

If you haven’t yet, you can still get your ticket for the Gold Coast ProBlogger event held at the RACV Royal Pines on August 14 and 15. The two day event includes speakers like Heather B. Armstrong from Dooce, and Pamela Wilson — of Big Brand System and Copyblogger Media. You can find out more information about speakers and sessions here, and to buy a ticket here.

See you there!

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

 

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Top Takeaways from ProBlogger Perth Training Event: Content, Blog Design, Social Media, Productivity, and Monetization

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30 High-Impact Ways to Level Up Your Writing http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/04/03/30-high-impact-ways-to-level-up-your-writing/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/04/03/30-high-impact-ways-to-level-up-your-writing/#comments Thu, 02 Apr 2015 14:00:47 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=36426 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

30 High-Impact Ways to Level Up Your Writing

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This is a guest contribution from freelance blogger and email copywriter Hassan Ud-deen.

Ever feel like your writing could be better?

If you’re a blogger, there’s no way around writing.

It’s critical to everything you do, and shapes your reputation online. 

This makes a lot of us dread writing. 

We approach it with a heavy heart full of anxiety and minds clouded by doubt.

But what if you could ensure that your writing is at least decent every time you hit that publish button?

 30 High-Impact Ways to Level Up Your Writing

You’d be less worried about the mechanics of writing, and more focused on your message to your audience.

Making you a more powerful blogger.
So here are 30 high-impact ways to supercharge your writing chops, boost your blogging confidence and finally slash those paralysing doubts swirling in your brain.

Let’s go.

1. Develop a Strong Foundation 

Before you can produce writing that leaps out of the screen and grabs the readers attention, you’ll need a good understanding of the basic principles of writing.

Things like grammar, spelling and sentence structure. 

One of the most highly recommended books for this is The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. Its a short compact book that’s crammed with everything you need to ensure your basic writing is tight. 

2. Take Your Reader to Starbucks 

Imagine you’re sitting in a class with about 30 students. You have a speckled professor droning on about a scientific topic. 

Now imagine having coffee with a friend sitting across you at Starbucks, explaining the same thing.

Who are you most likely to listen and learn from?

Your friend, right? Because it’s more personal.

Your friend will:

  • Ask you questions to make sure you understand
  • Fluctuate his tone of voice to emphasise points
  • Give you analogies, similes and metaphors to explain better

Similarly, you can do same thing with your words.

  • Ask readers questions to break the monotony and keep them engaged
  • Emphasise important points by making your text bold, italic or underlining
  • Provide vivid metaphors, similes and analogies that help your reader understand what you’re saying with speed and clarity

So next time you sit down to write, don’t think about thousands of eyes gazing at your screen. Think about the reader you’re having a delicious coffee with.

It’ll instantly add a more conversational flow and inject personality into your writing.

3. Have an Outline Before Writing 

Top bloggers like Neil Patel, Carol Tice and Michael Hyatt all swear by the time slicing power of outlines. 

Not only will outlines improve the speed at which you can dish out blog posts, they also improve the flow and quality of your posts.

A good outline covers the following points:

  • The introduction, where you tell your reader what your post is about, and how it’s going to make his life better to make him want to read on.
  • The main body or meat of a post, where you deliver most of your tips and advice
  • The conclusion, where you finish your post with a summary and a call to action 

If you feel that your writing could be better and faster give outlines a try.

4. Don’t Edit and Write at The Same Time

Writing and editing involves two different sides of the brain. Writing is a more creative process and editing is more logical/analytical.

Editing while you write is like continuously switching up and down gears in your car. You’re going to be slowing yourself down.

Putting your foot down all the way instead of switching speeds will work better.

When you start editing while you write, you slow down your writing speed, lose momentum and are more likely to doubt what yourself.

Basically, don’t write and edit at the same time, it disrupts the creative process.

5. Your First Draft Will Suck

It’s tempting to think that your favourite bloggers are magically creating stellar content on their first drafts, but thats not true.

Your first draft is all about getting your thoughts down on paper.

Accept that it will suck.  It will free you from the mental chains of doubt, and prevent you from being overly analytical.

6. Give your Brain a Break before Editing

Once you’ve written your draft, give your brain a break and distance yourself from it for a day or two.

This will increase your objectivity for your first round of editing and will let your mind sift through the ideas you wanted to express during your write up.

Related: Thee Stephen King Drawer Method for Writing Better Copy

7. Snap Your Brain’s Adaptations in Half 

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” (Stephen King)

Think of your brain as a muscle. It needs constant stimulation to grow and become stronger. 

Therefore, you have to train your writing muscles rigorously by continuously reading. You’ll expose yourself to different words, sentences, styles and steadily absorb good writing habits. 

I’m a little gym obsessed, and one thing you learn when building muscle is that you have to attack the body with different types of training.

Doing the same routine day in day out leads to you hitting plateaus. Your body eventually adapts to your routine and stops growing. 

Similarly, when it comes to reading… try to vary what you read.

If you normally read fiction, switch to non-fiction once in a while. If you normally read action/adventure try out romance. 

Reading something different will break your brain’s adaptation pattern, consequently strengthening your writing muscle and leaving you stronger and more well-balanced writer.

8. Embed Awesome Writing into Your Brain by Handwriting 

Sounds odd, doesn’t it? 

Well, it’s how many great writers started off.

Journalist Hunter S. Thompson started by copying the The Great Gatsby and A Farewell to Arms on a typewriter.

Robert Louis Stevenson, author of classics like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Treasure Island, honed his chops by taking a passage from a great writer and reading it. Then turning over the passage and trying to re-write it again from memory.

Dan Kennedy bloodied his nose in the marketing world by copying out 500 sales letters by hand in order train his mind to absorb the rhythm of good copy.

I’ve used this technique myself. It ain’t easy, but it’s an excellent way to quickly absorb good flow and wording and sharpen your skills.

Try it, I dare you.

9. Take a Literary Hammer, and Smash Your Favourite Writing into Pieces 

Everyone has a writer they look up to. And what better way to learn from those that you admire right?

Find a piece of writing that you admire. It could be from a book, a blog post, or a sales letter.

Now take the piece of writing that impacted you and break it down. Analyze what the writer does to make it so powerful.

Ask yourself: 

  • Why does this part of the blog post, book or sales letter stand out so much?
  • What techniques does the writer use to make the piece stand out?
  • What effects did the words phrases and style have?
  • How does it make you feel?

By closely analyzing an excellent piece of prose, you gain a deep insight to what the writer was thinking and the techniques they used. You can then use the techniques for your own purposes.

10. Print Out what You’ve Written

Sometimes it can be harder to find your mistakes on a computer screen. Printing out your work can make it easier for you to spot grammar and spelling mistakes in your writing.

11. Hit Your Reader Reader’s Senses Where it Hurts 

To keep your readers straight-jacketed to your post, engage their senses.

What can they see? Smell? Hear? Feel?

Here’s what a sentence looks like before engaging the senses:

“Your writing has to make an impact on your readers.”

Yawn. 

It’s a normal, tasteless, sentence that has surface level impact on the reader.

After engaging the senses:

“Your words have to creep up on your audience and sucker punch them into paying attention.”

See the difference?

By using the sensory experiences, the sentence latches on to the readers attention and forces them to feel what you’re saying.

12. Keep Your Writing Active 

The passive voice butchers your writing. Whereas the active voice, adds strength and vigor to it.

Take a look at these passive sentences:

The bat was swung by John

The ball was thrown by James

The door was broken by the dog

Look at what happens after a little makeover…

John swung the bat

James threw the ball

The dog broke the door 

Not only are the sentences more concise, clear and strong. But they also carry more impact with less words.

If you want your readers to effortlessly slide down your posts, keeping your writing active is a must. 

13. Use Shorter Paragraphs and Sentences

Nobody wants to process large chunks of information. They want easy digestible pieces of information they can easily understand.

That’s where having shorter sentences and paragraphs can help a ton.

Keeping sentences and paragraphs short quickens the pace of your writing; makes it easier to understand, and makes your writing less intimidating. 

Aim for one main point per paragraph and one main idea per sentence.

14. Supercharge Your Brain With Words

“I often read for 5-10 minutes. Out loud.” Was Jon Morrow’’s response when asked what his pre-writing rituals are. 

We all know that any writer worth his salt is a serious reader.

But, did you know that when engaged in a powerful reading session, you receive a boost in connectivity in the part of the brain that is associated with the receptivity of language? 

Yup, scientists from Emory University proved that reading heightens your brain power when it comes to dealing with language.

Try reading before you sit down for your next writing session and see if you don’t improve.

15. Develop a Brain Pumping Routine

High performers in any profession develop a routine to get in the “zone”.

Developing a routine for your writing trains your brain to expect to write, which warms your mind up and makes the act of writing much easier in comparison to writing cold.

Jack Kerouac would kneel, pray, light a candle and write by it’s light, then blow it out when he was done.

John Carlton would slip into a different of writing clothes to get him in the zone. 

Ernest Hemingway liked to write first thing in the morning.

Experiment with different routines and see what sticks, because once you have a solid routine to get you in the mood, you’ll no longer be a victim of writers block.

16. Sharpen Your Headline Chops

When writing headlines, you have to make every single word count. Or you risk your reader turning a blind eye to your post.

Headlines force you to be selective and squeeze the power out your words. This transitions into your ability to create hard-hitting sentences that flow smoother, and read better.

17. Write Like it’s Your Job

As Stephen King said, writing is “just another job like laying pipe or driving long haul trucks.”

Let’s imagine that you’re a plumber, and it’s your first day on the job.

You wouldn’t expect yourself to be amazingly skilled at what you’re doing, right?

But you know that becoming better is inevitable. Thanks to the fact that it’s your job, and you’re doing it almost every single day.. 

The same applies to writing.

Write when you feel like it. Write when you don’t. Prioritize your time around writing. 

Write like it’s your job and you’re guaranteed to level up your skills .

 18. Get enough sleep

Ever tried to build muscle? 

An important principle that people skim over is rest. 

They pack themselves into gyms and break down muscle tissue to get stronger. But, the body doesn’t get stronger during exercise. It starts repairing and adds extra muscle tissue during sleep. 

So activities like: writing and reading. Studying different styles, and analyzing great writing…are the literary equivalent of pumping weights. 

They’ll challenge your writing muscle and force it to grow stronger.

But despite your attempts to sharpen your skills…something as simple as sleep could be killing your progress.

Sleep is vital for survival,and keeps your nervous system functioning properly. And according to biological psychologist Namni Goel, “there’s plenty of research showing how a lack of it cripples your mind.”

Writing is hard.

It forces you to dig deep in your brain and extract ideas, information, and feelings. Then communicate them to another human being. 

Don’t make it even harder by not getting enough sleep. 

19. Get Moving 

Henry David Thoreau said: “the moment my legs begin to move my thoughts begin to flow – as if I had given vent to the stream at the lower end and consequently new fountains flowed into it at the upper” 

As mentioned before, writing ain’t easy.

That’s why its important to keep yourself in shape. Your body is your temple, and you want it to be operating at its peak (don’t you?).

Exercise can help you do that. 

Many great writers swear by exercise being a helpful tool for boosting creativity and preparing you for the act of writing.

There’s even research that proves exercise fires up your neurons and switches your brain on.

Research conducted by cognitive scientist prof colzato showed that “people who are doing exercise on a regular basis outperform those who don’t. We think that physical exercise trains your brain to become more flexible in finding creative solutions.”

I like to hit the gym or jump rope for a while before writing.  It calms me down, boosts my mood and clears my thoughts.

But you don’t have to do anything strenuous, you could walk, run, or even do light stretching… just get your blood moving.

20. Release Your Inner (Doodling) Child

Sounds odd doesn’t it? 

But at times, rules, regulations and emotional baggage can weigh you down and stifle your  creativity. 

In her book the doodle revolution, Sunni brown says that doodling helps you focus by “anchoring” a task. Especially when it comes to things that require attention for extended periods of time. Things like lectures, meetings, calls and writing.

“We think doodling is something you do when you lose focus, but it’s really a preemptive measure to stop you from losing focus,” 

Find yourself feeling mentally clogged up at times? Grab a pen and blank paper. Let your thoughts flow freely.

21. Have an Editor Read Through your Work 

No one ever writes the perfect draft.

And even though your second and third ones might be more polished; nothing beats a fresh pair of eyes.

An editor can also highlight your weaknesses and strengths so you can objectively look at your writing and decide what to work on.

22. Join a Group of Writers

Writing is a solitary activity.

And unfortunately, not everyone understands what it’s like to bleed thoughts from your brain into crisp, compelling words that communicate your ideas.

Surround yourself with people who write. 

You’ll get ongoing feedback on your progress, and you’ll always have someone who can sympathize with your writing pleasures and pains.

23. Study Great Sentences

Sentences are the backbone of your writing.

The stronger they are, the stronger your writing will become and the more impact it will have on your readers.

If you encounter a sentence that catches your attention, stop for a second.

Go over it again. Handwrite it. Study it. 

Break down why it’s such a good sentence. Is it concise and powerful? Does it contain a metaphor with killer clarity? Is it crammed with power words? 

Take notes on what makes other sentences good. You’ll discover useful lessons that’ll strengthen your own writing.

24. Cut Out Anything Repetitive or Boring

This applies to both your words and the ideas you express.

Instead of using the same word to describe something; aim for a variety of accurate words to make your writing blossom inside your readers mind.

Below is a short action scene I wrote. 

Before cutting out boring phrases and using different words to create vivid images, this is what it looked like… 

“He fired the gun. The bullets reached each target. One bullet hit the guards head and left a bloody mess. The other bullet hit the second guard square in the jaw and left an explosion of teeth. By the time he reached his next point of cover, both guards were dead.”

Here’s what it looks like after:

“The gun rattled to life. Each shot reaching its intended destination with blinding speed. One cratered through a guards forehead, the second exploded into an anatomical firework of teeth and jaw bone as it smashed into the 2nd guards mouth. By the time he reached his next point of cover, both guards were dead.” 

See the difference? 

I removed everything that was repetitive, and replaced boring words with high power verbs to create a more vivid image that hits where it hurts.

25. Play with Your Words

Instead of settling for the first few words that come to your head, whip out a thesaurus and get digging.

Try using different words and phrases instead of the ones you’ve chosen.

By regularly practicing this, you’ll expand your vocabulary and develop the important skill of choosing the right word at the right time to create the perfect image. 

26. Your Reader’s Cursor is Hovering on the X button

It’s easy to think your readers are browsing for fun and enjoyment. That they’ll read every word of your post; but that’s just not true. 

It’s better to think of your reader like this: 

Your reader is juggling a screaming baby on his lap, has dozens of tasks to finish, and is ready to click on that big red x button the second your post doesn’t provide the solution to his problems. 

Now, that may not be 100% true… but this simple mindset shift will help you create more reader friendly content from the get go.

You’ll be sure to keep his pains and problems in mind, which means you’re less likely to have fluffy, bloated writing that bores his ear off.

27. Kill Cliches with Lethal Analogies

Cliches suck.

They’re tasteless phrases that readers shake off like dirt on their shoulders.

Aswell as making you look like a lazy writer, they butcher any hint of personality in your writing.

So, what to do instead? 

Kill them…with high power analogies.

28. Keep it Dead Simple

Want to instantly power up your posts?

Make them easier to read by simplifying your writing.

Now, simple doesn’t mean limp sentences that pass readers by… it means taking out unnecessary ten-dollar words that make you look like a pompous show off.

Don’t say:

Utilize when you can say use

Extrapolate when you can say estimate

Desiderate when you can say desire

And cut out words like very, really, almost, probably etc.

Keeping your writing simple allows you to communicate with your readers better. It smoothly slides information into their brains without them having to make too much effort.

29. Jump into Your Reader’s Bed

What sites does your reader like to visit? What type of content do they like to read? What do they struggle with the most? 

Answering these questions gives you a deeper insight into what your reader’s most troubling problems, hopes and desires are.

Use polls, surveys, or emails to find out what they want and need.

Knowing your reader well will help you improve on the main purpose of your writing, which is…

To add value to his life through your content.

30. Dissect Bad Writing

You’ll often hear that one of the best ways to improve your writing is to… “read widely and read great writers.”

But what about bad writing?

Think about it.  When you’re engrossed in reading a blogpost, novel, or article that is good, it stealthily washes over your eyes and sneaks into your brain. Because you’re enjoying it. 

But when you face writing that is bad, it’s hard to read. 

You notice that it’s bad instantly. The sentences might feel bloated. The flow might feel horrible. It’ll be completely boring. Making it easier to analyze. 

You’ll spot exactly where the writer went wrong, and how you could improve it. 

Reading bad writing also has another sneaky benefit. 

It’ll give you a little confidence boost and make you feel better about yourself, because constant exposure to writing to higher level writing can lead to doubts sprouting in your brain. 

31. Skyrocket Your Productivity with a Deadline

The less time you have to do something, the faster you’ll get it done. 

When you don’t have a deadline, it’s tempting to think that you can keep on editing and improving your work. But after creating one, you’re forced to complete your work in a given time frame, which will increase your chances of getting it done quicker.

32. Set a Daily Writing Goal

Yes, daily.

Why? 

Well, imagine a gymnast performing in front of thousands of eager eyes. 

Effortlessly flipping through the air and performing feats most only dream of. 

He didn’t learn how to perform on the day of the performance, did he?

He had to constantly drill the movements into his brain. Day in, day out…until they became second nature.

Similarly, the popular writers that you look up to experienced the same thing.

They had to continuously suffer creating humiliating sentences, weak content and limp paragraphs to gradually get better. 

Constant practice is what sands the edges off your lack of skill. 

That’s where writing daily will help you tremendously. 

Set aside a small chunk of time to write everyday. Don’t concern yourself with writing thousands of words. Just be sure to write every day and make it a habit. You can increase your targets later. 

Eventually, you’ll be able to produce hard hitting writing with less effort because it’s ingrained in your mind and body.

It’s no longer something takes a ton of energy and has to be scraped out your skull. It’s an embedded habit. 

There you are, 30 high-impact writing ways to level up your writing. Your next step?

Pick 1-2 tips from this post and try them out for a at least a couple of weeks. Improvement will be inevitable.

Hassan Ud-deen is a freelance blogger and email copywriter (who likes to be called “The Wordslinger”). He helps businesses use content to grow. You can find out more about at www.f-bombmarketing.com or if you need help with your blog posts or copy, shoot him an email or connect with him on Facebook.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

30 High-Impact Ways to Level Up Your Writing

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7 Effective Tips To Grow Your Social Media Presence The Right Way http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/04/01/7-effective-tips-to-grow-your-social-media-presence-the-right-way/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/04/01/7-effective-tips-to-grow-your-social-media-presence-the-right-way/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 14:13:27 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=36568 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

7 Effective Tips To Grow Your Social Media Presence The Right Way

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7 Tips to Grow Your Social Media Presence The Right Way / problogger.netThis is a guest contribution from Adam Connell.

Have you ever wondered how to gain a significant advantage with social media? Not just in terms of growing a following but growing an engaged following?

I have too, and so have countless others.

The truth is that you can, and it’s easier than you might think.

If you’re serious about growing a more engaged following, you’ll find this post helpful. You’ll learn how to focus your efforts, boost engagement, monitor your progress and ultimately start seeing real growth.

Ready? Let’s dive in!

1. Get to know your audience

Your audience should be the focal point of your entire blog and everything you do should be based around helping them and solving their problems.

In order to do that, you need to know as much as you can about them.

Once you learn more about your audience, you will be able to use that knowledge to guide your social media efforts and create a more personal experience.

Start off by putting together personas for different segments of your audience.

Consider the following:

  • Demographics
  • Questions they have
  • Problems they’re facing
  • Their dreams
  • Preferred social networks
  • Preferred content types

You can conduct surveys and other types of research to find out more about your audience. There are plenty of tools you can use as well.

The important thing for the purpose of social media is that you get an understanding of which social networks your audience prefers, and what they prefer to share.

It’s worth having a read of Darren’s post on creating reader profiles to more tailor your content to fit the needs of your audience.

2. Identify when your audience is most active

Have you seen any of those infographics floating around the web saying when the best times to publish social media messages?

There are a bunch of them and they look smart, but the reality is that they were created using someone else’s data – not your data.

Everyone’s audience is different, so if you want to truly know when your audience is most active you need to use your own data.

Using tools like Tweriod (for Twitter) and Timing+ (for Google+) you can get a good idea of the times when your audience is most active. You can also check the “insights” section of your Facebook dashboard to find out when your audience is online, and also what types of posts they are interacting with the most.

This is an important ingredient in any effective social strategy.

3. Help people instead of selling to them

The point of social networks is to be social, and real success means helping others without asking for anything in return.

Your followers are real people and should be treated as such.

By helping people you’ll be able to stay top of mind, so when someone does need a product/service you offer, chances are that they’ll still come back to you – because you helped them.

“If you sell something, you can make a customer today. If you help someone, you can create a customer for life.” – Jay Baer

4. Focus on building real relationships

The key ingredient to making social media work is a focus on building real relationships.

This quote from Ted Rubin explains it best:

“Relationships are like muscle tissue. The more they’re engaged, the stronger they become. The ability to build relationships and flex that emotional connection muscle is what makes social so valuable.”

Instead of focusing on getting as many followers as possible, focus on creating fewer and more meaningful relationships.

Sure, you won’t get the same social proof that having a massive following will give you, but you’ll find that you get more engagement and a more loyal following. That’s what will make the difference.

This comes back to my previous point on helping.

Help people without asking for anything in return, and you’ll start to build up goodwill. In the long term the impact of this can be huge.

5. Engage, engage and engage some more

You could leave social media on autopilot – but you shouldn’t.

If you’re serious about building a loyal following, you need to engage with as many people as possible, as often as you possibly can.

Don’t just wait for others to engage, kick start the process yourself. Start a conversation.

6. Go visual and get more traction

Visuals are a powerful social media tool.

For example, Buffer found that tweets with images get 150% more retweets. And there is data to confirm this on other networks.

Before you share a text-based social message, consider whether you could share an image instead.

Thanks to free tools like Canva, it’s now incredibly easy to overlay text onto an image or create unique graphics. A great example is the use of quotes and images.

There are also plenty of sites like IM Creator and StockSnap which you can use to find high quality stock photos that won’t cost you a penny – just be sure to check the license details first.

7. Monitor your progress with the right tools and find what really works

Monitoring your social media efforts is important for a few reasons:

  • You’ll find additional opportunities to engage and build relationships
  • You can monitor your competitors and understand how their strategy fits together
  • You can monitor your own growth and gain insights into what’s working for you

There are several tools you can use to monitor your social media presence more effectively.

Cyfe

cyfeCyfe makes it easy for you to setup custom dashboards to track the metrics that matter to you.

You’ll have access to plenty of widgets which you can add to your dashboard. There are tons of other widgets that can help you with a variety of other things, not just social media.

Price: Free to use for up to five widgets, paid plans start at $19/month.

Mention

MentionMention is a great tool that is purpose built for monitoring across social networks and other websites in real time.

It’s easy to use, and you’ll get straightforward alerts whenever you get a new mention.

Once inside the platform you can respond to mentions directly so there’s no need to jump over to another social tool.

Price: Free for up to 250 mentions/month.

Oktopost

OktopostOktopost is a solid all-round social media management tool but the way it groups social messages together is extremely helpful from a monitoring perspective.

You can use the platform to share your social messages and engage with your audience directly.

The twist here is that when you add social messages, they’re added to campaigns. Those campaigns are grouped together in the reporting tab to show you the progress of each campaign.

This makes it incredibly easy to see how campaigns are performing from a birds eye view.

Price: Starts at $49/month.

BuzzSumo

BuzzSumoContent plays a big part in the social media landscape so it’s important to have a tool that makes it easy to find out which content people are sharing.

Using BuzzSumo you can search for your competitors, topics and more – the results will show you which pieces of content are getting shared the most.

You can also find out who is sharing that content and engage with them from within the platform.

It’s a great tool to find out the key influencers in your niche too.

Price: Starts from free with limited results, paid accounts with reporting/analysis features start at $99/month.

Conclusion

If you want to get ahead on social media you need to focus on building lasting relationships.

Your focus should be on long term, sustainable results rather than looking for an immediate payoff.

Keep the focus on helping your audience and you will grow an engaged following.

Do you have any tips or insights to add? Let us know in the comments below.

Adam Connell is the Founder of Blogging Wizard, a website devoted to helping bloggers grow their traffic, email subscribers and online presence. If you want to get ahead on Twitter, download this free checklist to learn how to rapidly grow your following (the right way).

 

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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7 Effective Tips To Grow Your Social Media Presence The Right Way

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Editing for People Who Love to Write… Too Much http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/03/30/editing-for-people-who-love-to-write-too-much/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/03/30/editing-for-people-who-love-to-write-too-much/#comments Sun, 29 Mar 2015 14:22:35 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=36395 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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Editing for People Who Love to Write… Too Much

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If you’re anything like me, you love words. You love prose, you love language, you love how a perfectly-constructed sentence can say so much more than just letters put in order.

If you’re unlike me, however, you love to use lots of words, and write mountains of prose.

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I know it’s hard not to get carried away, telling everyone everything you’ve ever wanted to say about a subject. Especially online, when blogs are creative outlets, and there are no restraints or word counts. But having been on the reading end of waffly posts (particularly when I haven’t got too much time to spare), I’ve realised the old adage “less is more” really does ring true.

Does that mean you can’t write long-form posts because they bore readers? No! It means write them well.  Make each of those 2000+ words count.

But how do you self-edit when you feel as though every word is important? I’m so glad you asked! Let’s find out:

Tips for Self-Editing

Follow Stephen King’s Number-One Tip

I wrote about his method of editing here, but it’s basically getting some space between you and your work. Stephen King puts his work (literally) in a drawer, and comes back a couple of months later to edit and tweak. You can come back sooner than that, but fresh eyes and a clear head make a world of difference when it comes to editing. Still unconvinced? You won’t be after you read the post!

You really can’t edit while you write, go straight from writing to editing, or edit the same day. Give it some time.

Can you say it in fewer words?

Twitter is great training for this (thanks to its 140-character limit), as was being a journalist – cutting unnecessary words makes for cleaner copy, there’s just no way around it. I’ll bet there are plenty of sentences you can streamline to pack a powerful punch in fewer letters.

Read it Aloud

You’ll be surprised how much your writing can sound perfectly fine in your head, but be totally disjointed when you read it aloud. You’ll notice those times when your sentences run on, where you might need a comma, or where you’ve repeated a word too often.

Print it Out

Reading on a screen, no matter how many times you’ve done it or how comfortable you are with it, is still so different to reading words in print. Your accuracy in identifying errors is far greater when you have a hard copy to refer to, especially when it comes to finding visually-similar mistakes. If you’re working on something that has to have the highest degree of accuracy, print it out, grab a pencil or a highlighter, and get to work.

Look for the Most Obvious

In your first read-over, search for the glaring errors – the typos, the spelling errors, that one time where you got your their/there mixed up, the visual formatting (how did that sentence get down there?), and any time you’ve written in passive voice. Pay special attention to apostrophes – most of the time they don’t need to be there. If it’s a possession or a contraction, fine, but keep them out of where they don’t belong.

Further Reading: Five Quick Grammar Tips to Improve Your Writing (Plus Free Downloadable Cheat Sheet)

Turn it Around

You’ll be surprised how much clearer a sentence can be if you flip it. Especially if you have that gut feeling that it’s too long or there’s something not quite right about it. Passive sentences can really disrupt your flow.

“In one day, a month’s worth of blog posts were written by me.”

Sounds so much better (and uses fewer words and has more of an effect on the reader) if it’s written:

“I wrote a month’s worth of blog posts in one day.”

There now, you’ve turned a passive sentence into a punchy, active one, losing extraneous words in the process. Well done!

Done is Better than Perfect

You could spend days tweaking your posts. You add, you take away, you add back, you switch around, you make eight versions of the headline in case one works better. Sometimes you end up going around in circles because you’re so into it now you can’t see straight, and your perspective is all off.

You just have to put your foot down and publish!

As journalists, we had a ready-made cutoff – it didn’t matter how much you had fiddled with your story, at some point it had to go to the printer, like it or not. Set yourself a cutoff, and remember – blogging gives you the gift of updating your post after publication if you really feel it needs it.

If you’ve followed Point One, I can almost guarantee you’ll find something!

Try it… You’ll Like it

If you’re unsure about a paragraph (or even a sentence), open a new document. Cut and paste all those “maybe” paragraphs into the document, and read your original post in its shortened form. Still think it could do with those words? Add them back in, no harm done. (Are you SURE, though?!)

Fact Check

It’s all very well and good to write something to convince people of your message, but you need stats to back it up. Ensure that all the numbers, anecdotes, and information you’ve included can be verified. Make sure there’s links to further information to help the reader understand your post, and to see the proof for themselves.

One top tip I learned is that if you’ve got questions, your reader will too. Wherever have made a bold claim, link to where you got your information. If you think that someone reading your post would benefit from your primary sources, then include them.

Harden Up

I know your work is precious. You’ve put a lot of effort into it. Your blog post is the culmination of hours of research, years of learning, numerous mistakes. You have a lot to say, and you think all of it is necessary.

It’s probably not.

There might be a place where you’ve repeated yourself. You might be able to make your point just as validly, but in fewer words. Some anecdotes, while funny, just won’t fit. Harden up and get rid of the bits that just aren’t working. There’s nothing stopping you from using that information in a future post, but your job here is to look at your work with a critical eye and make it the best it can be. How would you edit this if it was someone else’s work? What bits would you cut out in order to make your story better? Do that. You won’t regret it.

Do you love to write too much? We've got some solid tips for self-editing to help cut the waffle and write clean / problogger.net

 

So tell me – do you find editing hard? Or are you constantly looking over everything you read with your editor hat on? (that can be just as bad – it’s harder to get lost in a story when you’re always getting tripped up by writing errors). What’s your best tip for self-editing?

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

Helpful Links

9 Crucial Tips for Self-Editing Your Blog Posts

How to Use Google in the Most Unusual Way to Make Your Self-Editing Faster and Better

How You Can Make Your Writing Twice as Fast by Making it 3 Times More Time Consuming. Wait, What?

Hemingway App highlights common errors, long sentences, and grammatical issues that need attention. It also helpfully colour-codes the changes to be made. If you write a lot, you might find this useful.

Grammarly has pretty hardcore algorithms to not only find spelling mistakes, but contextual spelling errors too.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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Editing for People Who Love to Write… Too Much

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Blog Post Idea: How I Do It Posts http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/03/27/blog-post-idea-how-i-do-it-posts/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/03/27/blog-post-idea-how-i-do-it-posts/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 14:19:20 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=36663 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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Blog Post Idea: How I Do It Posts

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Recently I shared a simple technique that I use to come up with ideas to write about on my blog – answering a beginner question.

While not really rocket science I had a number of readers contact me privately with thank-you messages appreciating the nudge to write that type of post.

Today I’d like to suggest another simple technique for coming up with blog post ideas. It’s simple yet is perhaps one of the most powerful types of posts I’ve used on my own blogs many times in the last 12 years.

I call these posts the ‘how I do (or did) it’ post.

How I did (or do) it

Over the years I’ve found that posts that walk people through processes of how you do things go down exceptionally well.

Giving someone the theory is good but showing them how you apply that theory takes your writing to a new level.

There are a couple of ways to do this.

How I DID It

Firstly you could walk people through how you did a one-off thing.

You could write a post on how you lost weight, or a post on how you made a dining table for your family, or how you wrote your first book, or how you overcame your fear of heights.

For example Vanessa (my wife) wrote a post on travelling to Bali with Young Kids that basically shared tips from our experience of a trip to Bali with our kids last year.

NewImage

She followed it up with posts on where to shop in Bali and where to eat and drink in Bali.

Each of these posts essentially took our experience of that trip and explained what we’d done and learned on the trip. They contain a heap of practical tips gained from real experience.

These posts have been used many many times by Vanessa’s readers who are considering similar trips.

A variation on this ‘how I did it’ post might be a ‘what I learned from it’ type post.

For example when I created and released my first eBook I wrote about 8 lessons I learned from the experience here.

Screen Shot 2015 03 11 at 9 10 19 am

How I DO It

Secondly you could walk people through how you do something that is a normal part of your life.

For example I recently shared a screen cast of my social media workflow and how I keep my dPS Facebook page running and in another post shared an exercise I do in Google Analytics.

Screen Shot 2015 03 11 at 9 11 58 am

These are things I do regularly without really thinking about it that it turns out readers are interested in.

One of my good blogging friends – Nicole Avery – does this regularly on her blog Planning with Kids.

For example here is her family morning routine, her kids homework boxes and how she preps food for her 5 kids’ lunch boxes each week.

NewImage

In each case Nicole has simply looked at her life and found a routine, system or process that works for her and has shared it on her blog.

These things might be so much a part of your day or week that you don’t even think of them any more – but you’ll often find that these are things that will help others incredibly.

Exercise

Brainstorm ideas for these two types of posts.

What are some big one off things that you’ve done in your life that you could write about?

What are some things that you do regularly in your life each day or week that could actually help others? (e.g. routines, systems, processes).

Hint: pay close attention the questions that you regularly get asked from family and friends about how you do things or about the experiences that you’ve had. If people in your ‘real life’ are interested in how you do these kinds of things you can bet others online would be too.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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Blog Post Idea: How I Do It Posts

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3 Secret Weapons I Used to Launch My Fulltime Blogging Career http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/03/25/3-secret-weapons-i-used-to-launch-my-fulltime-blogging-career/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/03/25/3-secret-weapons-i-used-to-launch-my-fulltime-blogging-career/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 14:23:38 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=36875 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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3 Secret Weapons I Used to Launch My Fulltime Blogging Career

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work-677582_640

This is a guest post by Jeff Goins of Goins, Writer.

“I’d like to be a writer,” I told my friend one day when he asked what my dream was. “But that’ll never happen.” And I quickly went back to moping around, waiting for my big break.

At the time, I was working for a nonprofit as a marketing director, secretly wondering what it might be like to write for a living. Little did I know how close I was to my goal.

My was staring me right in the face the whole time. I was just blind to it.

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer,” Harriet Tubman once said. “Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

That’s absolutely true. Your dream lives inside you, not somewhere out there. And instead of waiting for someone to come along and give you permission, you need to realize that you have everything you need to do this right now.

So let’s look at what you already have at your disposal and how I launched my own full-time blogging career using these same tools.

Secret Weapon #1: Listen to Your Ache

Have you ever felt jealous of someone else’s success? Of course you have. You’re human, aren’t you. But don’t feel bad. Envy isn’t always a bad thing, if you know how to use it.

Being jealous of what someone else has or has done is a sign of somethign you don’t have. You’re not living the life you dreamed of, not making the money you want, or simply not getting the credit you think you deserve.

Left unchecked, those feelings of missing out can get nasty really quickly. But when properly channeled, they can be a means to you discovering what you’re meant to do.

Here’s what I mean.

What bothers you that you see in the world? What problems in your industry or social ills do you see that you think should be fixed? When you see someone publishing their words or getting paid to pursue a passion, does it stir something in you? Does it make you a little angry, even a tad frustrated?

Good. Listen to that.

All dreams begin with frustration. But they don’t end there. It takes a person of action to do something with that feeling. Because really, frustration is just a surface emotion. It’s just pent-up passion with nowhere to go.

So pay attention to what makes your heart ache. When you’re feeling frustrated, remember it’s a sign of what you’re missing out on. It means you need to get to work.

Secret Weapon #2: Take the Long Road

Once on a webinar, I heard Darren Rowse say his first year of professional blogging had only made him something like $30,000. When I heard that, it sounded like a dream come true.

His intentions were to set our expectations low. He explained how hard he worked, staying up late and getting up early, how difficult it was. Not everyone can make six figures in the first month was his point. He was trying to keep us grounded. But it gave me hope.

I didn’t want fluff. I wanted someone to tell me exactly what I needed to do to pursue my dream. And for some reason, telling me it was going to be difficult and not very rewarding made it real. It made it attainable.

Sometimes, you have to hear someone else describe the life you long to live before you can begin to visualize it yourself.

Darren’s words spoke to the frustration I felt. They made me realize I was going to have to work hard if I wanted to live my dream and that patience was going to be an important factor in my success.

When I started my blog, I was determined to not worry about stats for the first two years. I would just write. The audience would come as my craft grew. If that took years, so be it. Six months later, I had more traffic than I ever could have imagined—hundreds at first, and then thousands of daily readers.

It would be a long while before I’d start making money, but still, seeing it was possible changed everything. Right around that time, my wife and I decided to start a family and began counting down the days until our son would be born.

At that same time, I started to hatch a plan for how I could make money with my blog.

Secret Weapon #3: Don’t Neglect the Past

When you decide to go full-time with your blog, you may be tempted to make the biggest mistake most dreamers make. You may think that dreaming is about looking forward.

It’s not. Dreaming is about looking backward and remembering what it is you have always loved to do. “Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it,” Parker Palmer wrote, “I must listen to my life telling me who I am.”

So before I could even figure out what I wanted to sell, I was going to have to figure out what value I had, what strengths I possessed that could benefit someone. And the answer to that was buried deep in my past.

“Jeff,” my friend said to me that day I announced my dream was to write, “you are a writer. You just need to write.”

He was right. I had been writing. All these years. In various capacities. But somehow, it just didn’t feel like enough. I didn’t feel like enough. But when I heard those words, I knew they were true.

Maybe, I thought, before we can do something, we have to become someone. Activity follows identity. It was a simple principle but one I’ve come to embrace in all areas of life.

What that meant for me was looking honestly at my life and identifying what strengths I had to offer. I had spent the past seven years as a marketing director and before that as the leader of a music group.

I couldn’t remember a time in my adult life in which I hadn’t been working with creative people. That was a bigger clue than I first realized. Maybe, I thought, I could do that online.

So I gradually turned my new blog, which had been more of a leadership blog, into a writing-focused resource. First, I tested out posts on writing to see if they appealed, and I was amazed at how much people connected with the content.

What Derek Sivers says is true: “What’s obvious to you is amazing to others.” The secret to discovering the value that you offer the world is hidden in the strength you’re probably taking for granted.

The Finish Line

A year after starting my blog, I launched my first eBook on writing and made $1500 from it.

A few months later, I launched an bundle product and made $16,000 in the first six weeks.

Several months after that, I launched my first online course, Tribe Writers, and made $25,000 from it.

By the end of that year, I had made over $150,000 blogging.

I couldn’t believe it. This was my dream, and it had come true in ways that completely astounded me.

But the truth is the process took two years from start to finish, plus another seven years of preparation. It required all those things Harriet Tubman mentioned: passion, patience, and strength.

If you’re going to come face to face with your dream, you’re going to need them, too. You’ll have to:

  1. Turn your frustration into passion.
  2. Be willing to take the long road, understanding that good things come in time.
  3. Embrace your past, using whatever strengths you’ve accumulated along the way and putting them to use.

Yes, it will take time and it won’t be easy. But the good news is you don’t have to sit around feeling frustrated or like you missed out. Everything you’ve done up to this point has prepared you for what you’re about to do.

Now, it’s up to you to get started.


Jeff Goins is a full-time blogger at Goins, Writer, where he shares tips on writing, creativity, and making a difference. His latest book, The Art of Work, is all about discovering your calling.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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3 Secret Weapons I Used to Launch My Fulltime Blogging Career

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7 Commonsense Tips to Improve Your Next Expert Roundup http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/03/23/7-commonsense-tips-to-improve-your-next-expert-roundup/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/03/23/7-commonsense-tips-to-improve-your-next-expert-roundup/#comments Sun, 22 Mar 2015 14:41:06 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=36577 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
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7 Commonsense Tips to Improve Your Next Expert Roundup

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expert roundupThis is a guest contribution from Neil.

Are you wondering why your expert roundups are not living up to your expectations? Why you are never getting the level of response some other people are getting?

After all, the idea behind creating an expert roundup sounds foolproof on paper.

  1. Get eminent experts to answer a question for you.
  2. Gather the responses and publish the ultimate answer to that question.
  3. Get your experts to share the content and then leverage their audience to get a viral post.

There is no way you can fail!

But the reality is a bit different.

My first expert roundup (January, 2015), featured the likes of top guys like Rand Fishkin, Neil Patel and Yaro Starak. In terms of quality, it was great. But it got me only around two hundred shares and a few backlinks.

Disappointed by my failure, I felt that “expert roundups” are overhyped. I looked around to get some expert roundup tips.

After a while, I realized that there was no flaw core idea of an expert roundup. The problem was in the execution of it. Actually, I was so excited about the roundup, that I overlooked certain things, which are just common sense.

Today on Problogger, I would like to share these commonsense tips so that you can organize a better expert roundup.

Do keyword research to focus on the right terms

You may create the grandest expert roundup (in terms of quality). You may even generate tons of backlinks. But unless it is properly targeted, it will never fulfill its potential.

By proper targeting, I mean that you should target the right terms or keywords for search engines. After all, the backlinks and shares that will get showered upon your roundup must help it to generate organic traffic.

If you have not chosen the right keywords, then what is the point? Your backlinks may help you rank #1 for your keyword, but if people do not search for that term, it is of no use.

In my last expert roundup, I made this mistake. The overall topic was good. It was about “blogging mistakes made by top bloggers”. I was quite sure that new bloggers would be very interested in learning about it.

But I did not consider the fact whether users would be using the same term in the search engines.

As it turned out, the main keyword “blogging mistakes” did not have an appreciable search volume. Even if I had been able to rank for the keyword, the benefit would have been minimal.

Ultimately, I got around this by naming my blog pos “19 expert blogging tips to avoid blogging mistakes”.

But this is not the right way to do it.

The approach should be very simple. Try to find the hole in the available information. Once you have found something that is asked a lot, but not answered well, you have struck gold.

Now you need to grab the topic and do a little keyword research to get the right term to use in your question. There are only two factors that you need to consider:

  • The keyword should have at least moderate search volume.
  • The keyword should not be too competitive.

In case you have already committed the error of choosing a low search volume topic, you have to improvise. Re-frame your question so that it includes good keywords.

To get the best out of your keywords, make sure that you use the keywords in the title of your post (obvious thing). A huge chunk of your backlinks will have the title of your post as the anchor text. Including your keyword in the title will go a long way in helping you to rank for that keyword.

Increase your reach by approaching more people

An expert roundup always results in a quality piece of content. But for the person conducting the roundup, there is much more to it than just the content. As the host blogger, you are banking on the expert’s reach to spread the word about your roundup. You are dependent on the expert’s popularity to have an influence on your roundup.

The idea behind an expert roundup is to leverage influence of the experts. Your aim is to ride the influence of your experts to gain as widespread popularity as possible. So it is pretty commonsense-the more experts you have, the better it is for you.

More experts mean more followers. More experts mean that your content will get shared to a wider audience.

So the message is very clear. Get in as many experts as possible.

And it is beneficial to the experts too. If your expert roundup does really well and ranks high in the search engines, each one of the experts will also be on the receiving end of a highly relevant and quality back link.

POINT TO NOTE: get in as many “experts” as possible. Here, “experts” is the crucial term. I’m not asking you to include just anybody in your expert roundup to fill up the numbers. There no point in doing that. In fact, doing that will dilute the experience of your expert roundup.

Finding experts is simple:

  1. Do a Google search with your niche’s keywords.
  2. Find experts on existing roundups by searching: “keyword” + expert roundup.
  3. Find highly followed people on social networks.

Get people to respond by gradually building trust

So now it is clear that you need to get as many experts as possible to participate in your expert roundup. But obviously, it is easier said than done.

Experts are busy people. They get tons of e-mails and expert roundup invites. They cannot respond to all of them. To get answers, you have to do the obvious things:

  1. Approach them with a short and concise e-mail.
  2. Pose a question that is interesting to them.
  3. Pose a question that is relatively easy to answer and so on.

But the easiest way to get someone to respond to you is to build trust with that person.

Imagine for yourself. If you are in a rush, you may skip over an e-mail from an unknown person. But if you know that person, you will be compelled to at least have a look at the e-mail. You will try to respond to the person it possible.

Same thing happens with the experts (and for any human being). It is human psychology. One can easily say no to an unknown person but rejecting a familiar person is harder. Our subconscious always tries to maintain and honor preexisting relationships.

Your task: build familiarity with the expert before approaching with the invite.

Simple ways to build familiarity:

  1. Follow the expert on social networks.
  2. Comment and discuss on the expert’s blog.
  3. Send a “thank you” email for a helpful blog post.

Use a deadline to get more responses

Not using a deadline was a big mistake for my last roundup post. I thought that the experts, being busy people, may not appreciate the idea of being given a deadline.

But I was wrong! It is always better to specify a deadline for submission of expert entries.

There are two reasons:

Firstly, deadlines promote actions.

An expert may read your email but if you have not mentioned a deadline, he or she may postpone the reply. And in that process, the busy expert may forget about your e-mail altogether.

On the other hand, if you do specify a deadline, the expert may reply immediately or at least mark the email to be replied before the deadline.

After all, itís a good deal for the expert. The expert is getting a highly relevant back link in exchange of a simple answer to a question. That is why, using the deadline works. The deadline serves to remind that the chance to get an easy back link may be gone soon. Thus it promotes a prompt reply.

Second benefit of using a deadline is that it will demonstrate your professionalism and seriousness about the expert roundup. Without it, some people may think that you are not sure about how and when you’re going to post the expert roundup. That may lead to loss of interest in your expert roundup.

Moral of the story: Use a deadline. 7 to 10 days is good in my opinion.

Have higher expectations from the experts

If your expectations are low, you’re most likely to be getting the same. This is one blunder I committed while conducting my first expert roundup.

I was not sure whether the experts would have time to look into my question and answer it. So, I tried to make it easier for them by saying that even a single line opinion would be fine.

MISTAKE!

I was doing an expert roundup and it deserved expert comments.

I understand that it is not reasonable to expect the experts to write long explanations. But a single line opinion conveys hardly any value.

Suppose I ask someone about his/her biggest mistake as newbie blogger and the person responds “not doing this or that”. It is a technically correct answer but it hardly adds much value. A little explanation is expected at least.

So settle for a middle ground. Writing 50 to 100 words does not take too long and is quite reasonable to ask for.

So nowadays I write:

A short 50-100 word opinion would be fine although you can elaborate your experience if you like.

Here, I am using the word “short” to make it seem easy to the experts but at the same time I am also specifying them the minimum length I expect.

Coming back to my story: I failed to specify this minimum limit in my first roundup post. As a result, few experts did provide single line opinions. But obviously, the mistake was mine. It was me who said that “even a single line opinion would be fine”. And this is one big problem in asking your expert on Twitter. That is why I always prefer e-mail.

That said, I’m very grateful that most of the experts did leave longer and valuable comments on my expert roundup. And this also tells you that the experts are also okay with writing a few words.

Don’t be shy to ask for a “proper and meaningful” expert opinion on your roundup.

Use author bio to allow users to connect with experts

When you’re conducting an expert roundup, it is essential that your readers connect with the experts. Not everyone will know all the experts. You must give them a reason why they should listen to the expert.

For example, I know Darren and the great work he has done with Problogger. But a new blogger may or may not know (although it is unlikely). Without knowing about Darren’s expertise in blogging, a new blogger may not pay heed to his advice. That is why it is essential to do a short introduction of your expert.

Writing a short author bio is a nice way to do it. Just a couple of sentences are fine. Tell who the author is and a little about his/her achievements and specialization. This will give enough reasons to your readers to listen to a particular expert. And this will also allow everyone to appreciate and value the comments made by the experts.

Here is a sample:

Darren Rowse is one of the first bloggers to blog about how to make money blogging. He is the man behind the hugely popular blog Problogger and popular books like “Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income”. He is regarded as one of the foremost authorities on blogging.

Promote more or more to get the most out of your roundup

Last but not least, put serious effort in promoting your expert roundup.

Creating a highly informative and useful expert roundup is only half the battle. If you stop there, it is no good. After all, you have invested so much time and effort in producing an amazing piece of content. Why stop when it is the time to reap the rewards?

Promote your expert roundup like crazy.

  1. Start with your expert panel. Show them your gratitude for taking out time to participate in your expert roundup. E-mail all your experts letting them know that the post is up. Thank them and ask them to share the content. Not everyone will share it but some of them will.
  2. If your experts do not reply back, remind them after a couple of days. Talk to them on Twitter and let them know.
  3. Promote your post on Twitter, Google plus and Facebook.
  4. Use hashtags to make it easier for people to find your post.
  5. Mention your experts on twitter and google plus. Here is a template that you can use:

    Tip no #: “Insert tip here” -By @expertname <Insert link to post>

  6. Share multiple times on your social networks: the day of posting, the day after posting, one week after posting.
  7. Share your post on social bookmarking sites. Encourage your readers to share your post on social bookmarking sites. Reach out to friends and acquaintances and ask them to share your post.
  8. And obviously, do not forget the e-mail list. You can write a couple of e-mails to build up anticipation for to the roundup post. This will ensure a better response from your email list subscribers.

These are just some ideas. Be creative and find out more ways to promote your post.

Are you ready for your next expert roundup?

So, I have shared my tips for creating a better expert roundup. These expert roundup tips work great. Now, it’s your turn – apply these tips and let us know how your next expert roundup goes. And if you have your own secret tip, feel free to share with us in the comments section.

Neil test drives new blogging tips and strategies on his blog and then lets you know what works. He shares his blogging experience on Blogician and you can read his first expert roundup at blogging tips for new bloggers.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

7 Commonsense Tips to Improve Your Next Expert Roundup

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Grab Your Ticket for the 2015 ProBlogger Training Event http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/03/20/grab-your-ticket-for-the-2015-problogger-training-event/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/03/20/grab-your-ticket-for-the-2015-problogger-training-event/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2015 01:47:39 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=36840 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Grab Your Ticket for the 2015 ProBlogger Training Event

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Yesterday we released tickets to the 2015 ProBlogger Training Event on 14-15 August here in Australia on the Gold Coast.

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As I write this post 560 bloggers, speakers and team have grabbed their tickets (400 of those went in the first 10 minutes) and under 150 tickets remain.

This year we’ve got attendees coming from all states and territories in Australia as well as attendees flying in from the USA, New Zealand, India and Fiji.

Attendees not only come from all over the place but come from a wide spectrum of niches (everything from bloggers blogging about Fashion, to Health, to Travel, to Food, to Small Business and much more) and also a wide spectrum of experience levels.

Here’s the experience levels of attendees broken down (this doesn’t include speakers or team which all come from the 4-5 years or 5+ years categories).

Screen Shot 2015 03 20 at 12 36 10 pm

There’s a heap more information about the event over on the PBEVENT page – check out details of the speakers and sessions already announced (more to come) and venue and location.

I’m particularly excited about our international speakers this year. We’re bringing out Heather B Armstrong from Dooce, Jadah Sellner from Simple Green Smoothies, Pamela Wilson from CopyBlogger and Ruth Soukup from the Elite Blog Academy.

NewImage

If you’re thinking of joining us the cost for bloggers is just $399 AUD (around $300USD depending on the exchange rate on the day) which includes the two days of training, lunches and refreshments both days, a networking party and slides and recordings of all sessions.

Many conferences of this type and length cost upwards of $1000 so we’re pleased to have Olympus on board as a presenting partner. Olympus have substantially subsidised the cost of attending for bloggers this year but will also be adding a heap of value to the conference with some training for bloggers on how to take better photos for their blogs.

If you’re thinking of joining us please don’t wait too long and grab yours here. Tickets will sell out for this event and we’d hate for you to be disappointed.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Grab Your Ticket for the 2015 ProBlogger Training Event

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Where to Find Free Images Online http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/03/20/where-to-find-free-images-online/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/03/20/where-to-find-free-images-online/#comments Thu, 19 Mar 2015 14:00:45 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=36240 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Where to Find Free Images Online

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In a perfect world, we could all take amazing photos, edit them scrupulously, and somehow manage to have enough props and stylish flair to snap the exact image you need to illustrate your post.

In the real world, we have access to other talented people who do that instead!

A roundup of places to find free images online for your blog or social media

I’ve lost count of the posts I’ve pinned, sent to Evernote, or emailed to myself that round up great places to find free images on the internet. To save myself that headache (and hopefully you too!) here they all are, finally, in one place. Pin it for yourself!

Tweet this: 27 Places to Find Free Images Online: @veggie_mama + @ProBlogger

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Pexels

Pexels

from their site: All photos on Pexels are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. This means you can copy, modify, distribute and perform the photos. The pictures are free for personal and even for commercial use. All without asking for permission or setting a link to the source. So thatattribution is not required. All in all the photos are completely free to be used for any legal purpose.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons has almost 25 million freely usable media files. You need to read their Reuse guide to check out the licensing requirements, though.

Getty Images

Getty Images has more than 50 million embeddable images – just hover over  an image and click the </> icon to get the code to paste into your post.

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Public Domain Archive

Public Domain Archive

Public Domain Images are bloggers who have curated all the images in the public domain they’ve come across in one handy place. Both modern and vintage images to choose from.

Free Images

Free Images (previously stock.XCHNG) have stricter requirements with their licensing, so do check each image before use. Option to purchase other photos as well.

Open Photo

Open Photo has plenty of images, vectors, and even video to choose from.

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New Old Stock

New Old Stock

New Old Stock is full of vintage photos from public archives, free of known copyright restrictions. You could scroll for hours!

Picography

As Picography says: Free high resolution photos. Use them however you like.

Creative Market

Creative Market is a paid service, with a weekly grab-bag of free images, fonts and other goodies to use on your blog.

Woman Using Smartphone  With Beautiful Blue Ocean

Stokpic

Stokpic

Stokpic not only has beautiful images totally free to use for personal or commercial use, they will also email you a package of 10 every two weeks. Their image categories are listed right at the top so you can see at a glance if they have something you’re looking for.

Foodies Feed

All food, all the time.

Stockvault

A very easy search function lets you find exactly what you’re looking for straight away on Stockvault. You can read the permitted usage terms here.

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Unsplash

Unsplash

A great selection of images, to which 10 new ones are added every 10 days. There isn’t any search function or categories list, which can make it hard to find something specific, but the current images are laid out in a grid format for you to view.

Photopin

Photopin has free photos for bloggers and creatives, which are accessed from the search bar on their home page.

A Prettier Web

A Prettier Web has beautiful (and quite girly) free images for bloggers and creatives.

Picjumbo

Picjumbo

Picjumbo

Picjumbo has categories of free images on the left-hand side to help you find what you’re looking for. Everything from abstracts to weddings.

SplitShire

Click the menu box on the upper right-hand-side of SplitShire to find the categories, otherwise, scroll through the offerings.

Death to the Stock Photo

Death to the Stock Photo has a bundle of free images that get sent to subscribers each month, usually in a theme.

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Gratisography

If you’re looking for something quirky and fun, you’ll find it at Gratisography.

Morguefile

To use some of the images at Morguefile, you’ll need to ask permission and link back to the creator, but they’re free and hi-res.

Dreamstime

An easy-to-use list of categories shows itself when you are on the “free images” section of the Dreamstime site.

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Pixabay

Pixabay

Pixabay has tons of public domain vectors, drawings, and photos – all for free. A captcha is necessary prior to download, or you can sign up.

FreeFoto

FreeFoto has 132549 free images to use with attribution and linkback.

iStock

Part of Getty Images,iStock has free photos, illustrations, video, audio, and editorial files in weekly batches.

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Boss Fight

Boss Fight has one mission: To be your final “Boss Fight” when it comes to finding completely free (do whatever you want) stock images, photos, and photography.

Flickr Creative Commons

Flickr Creative Commons is constantly updated with people all over the world sharing their photos for use. Do check each attribution licence, however, as some are stricter than others.

StockSnap

StockSnap also has royalty-free images with no attribution required.

Where to find free images online  Problogger.net

 

And not technically photos, but Entypo has 411 pictograms for use on websites. Fun!

Where are your favourite places to get images? Are you a photographer yourself?

 

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

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Where to Find Free Images Online

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Building Your Audience From Zero to Traction http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/03/18/building-your-audience-from-zero-to-traction/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/03/18/building-your-audience-from-zero-to-traction/#comments Tue, 17 Mar 2015 14:34:28 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=36574 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Building Your Audience From Zero to Traction

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This is a guest contribution from Brian Casel.

If there’s one common thread among many of those who build successful businesses online, it’s this: They’ve been able to build an audience, which has helped them gain traction and spread value with a farther reach.

But what if you have no audience yet? Zero subscribers. Little to no traffic. How can you get started, when nobody knows who you are?

I was there about 18 months ago. My blog received less than 20 visitors a day. My newsletter did not exist. I had been blogging for years, but couldn’t connect with an audience, let alone create a product they might buy.

Since then, I’ve turned it around by embracing a three-step strategy I’ll share with you today. As of this writing, my newsletter is up to 5000 subscribers, the blog receives hundreds of visitors per day, and my course has sold multiple five-figures since it launched four months ago.

These aren’t groundbreaking numbers. But to me, they represent the difference between blogging as a hobby (where I was at a few years ago), and meaningful part of my business today.

Now—I’m sure you already know the mechanics of building an audience: Blog posts. Landing Pages. Email lists. Autoresponders. Yadda Yadda. Those are the tools and tech, and there plenty of resources where you can find the right ones for you.

But those things won’t actually get people to stop, take notice, and give you their email address because they want more.

So how do you do that, when you’re still unknown?

Let me break it down with four important concepts:

  • Your “Who”
  • Their “Why”
  • Resonate
  • Exposure

Your “Who”

The most important thing in building an audience, or marketing a product, is to know who you’re writing (or selling) to. The more you know your audience, the easier it is to resonate with them. (tweet that)

But how can you possibly know who your target audience is when you don’t have an audience yet?

A lot of advice out there tells you to hunt for your audience. Do keyword research… Analyze buzz trends on social media… capitalize on current news headlines. They’re telling you to spot a herd of people and catch that wave.

To me, this always seemed like a monotonous and uninspiring way to create content. So I never followed this advice.

In fact, I’m pretty sure none of the folks that I subscribe to — who happen to have very large audiences — never followed this advice either. Probably for similar reasons. They just didn’t want to.

This brings me to my first point: You get to choose your who.

Your who is the person you care about and the person you genuinely want to help. They’re probably a lot like you. Maybe you’re further along in your journey, or maybe they’re further than you. Either way, you guys are probably on the same path.

Do this:

Give some thought to who you want as your readers / listeners / subscribers. This part is totally up to you. At the end of the day, if you don’t care about the people you’re writing for, then you won’t be able to help them, which means you won’t get very far anyway.

In my case, I was a freelance web designer, and I transitioned to a products business. So I decided the my who are my peers — freelancers and consultants who work on the web and want to transition to a products business.

By the way, lots of different people will stumble across your site over time. The vast majority of them won’t be your who. Only a small slice of those new visitors are. Those are the ones you want as subscribers and they’re the ones who you want to see again. So focus your attention on them.

Their “Why”

Finding your who is up to you. But creating content that resonates with them is not.

Now you need to reconcile your who with their why.

Everyone is on a journey. Everyone wants to get to a destination that is different and better than where they’re currently at. This is always changing. For everyone.

If you asked me 10 years ago where I wanted to go, I would have said I wanted to find my career path, and meet a girl.

Five years ago? I wanted to get more clients, and find a home for my wife and I to settle down.

Today? I want to build my products business so my growing family can live comfortably and travel.

Next year? Who knows…

How would your people answer that question? What is their why?

Do this:

Set up a welcome email autoresponder sent to every person who joins your email newsletter. Here’s a screenshot of the email I send to every new subscriber who joins my newsletter:

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 11.21.23 am

Keep that welcome email short and to the point, which is: Ask your new subscriber, “where they want to be one year from now?” I recommend adding, “What’s your biggest hurdle holding you back?”

In the beginning, you won’t have many responses. That’s OK. You’ll get plenty of replies over the course of year.

The fun part is to watch how your audience’s why changes over time. Your understanding of it will change too. The more in touch are you are, the easier it is to write things that help them get ahead, and the more likely your posts will resonate.

Writing stuff that resonates

So you know who you want to be reading your blog, and you’re in touch with the journey they’re on (their why). Now how do you actually speak to that, and create content that truly resonates?

I found a very simple method: Just answer questions.

Every blog post / podcast episode / video / whatever you create should be your answer to a question that your people are seeking an answer to. They have a very specific problem, and your post is the solution. In fact, it’s the best solution they’ve come across in a very long time.

That’s what it takes for a blog post to resonate.

Do this…

Start every new blog post with a question. Have you noticed that the first few paragraphs of this article contained several questions? The idea for this article literally came from a question that one of my subscribers asked me a few weeks ago.

Here are some places I go to identify questions that I could answer in new articles:

  • Questions people ask me when replying to my newsletter.
  • Questions people ask me when I’m out at a conference.
  • Questions that come up in forums and communities that I hang out in—particularly the ones that I feel eager to hop in and answer.
  • Questions found on Quora and Reddit, and similar question/answer sites.

Spend an hour and come up with a list of 5 (or more) questions that your people are asking. Make sure they’re questions that you’re eager to answer. I’m sure there are many that fit this criteria for you.

Exposure

Now I don’t want to give the impression that if you simply write great content that could resonate with the right people, then it will.

It probably won’t.

Unless… you get exposure in places where your people are already hanging out.

Here are the common “tactics” that most people focus on. These have never worked for me:

  • Cold email a popular blogger and cleverly include a link to your new post, in hopes they might tweet it. I tried it. Sometimes it gets that tweet. Great… For a minute. I stopped doing this because I hate the idea of “pushing” my stuff on someone who didn’t ask for it. Plus, they’re super busy and I want to respect their time.
  • “Go viral” on Hacker News, Reddit, Digg.com. I have submitted posts to these a handful of times. Maybe twice my hit the front-page for a while and brought a spike in traffic. Almost none of those folks ever subscribe and return.
  • SEO Keyword Optimize my posts. Have some of my posts done well in search engines? Sure. Do I know how or why that happened? Not really. My goal when I write is to help my people get ahead, and hopefully get them to subscribe so they’ll come back again. SEO traffic typically doesn’t play out this way. The channels I’ll list below do.

So here’s what has worked for me, and what I think you should focus on when you’re just getting started:

Answer questions in forums

I suggest focusing on just one or two online communities that you personally feel connected to.

Find a question you’re eager to answer and post the best response you can possibly fit in the reply box. Then finish by including a link over to your blog post on that same topic.

Don’t simply reply by saying “Good question, I wrote a whole article on it: LINK”. You should actually answer the question right there in the forum, then provide the link for more. Build credibility and earn their trust with your thoughtful reply, then invite them to your site for more.

Case Studies

Readers love hearing about real-world examples of a problem being solved. You still want to be sure you’re answering a question, but your answer (or solution) can come in the form of a case study.

I found that these types of posts tend to get shared and passed around a lot. One of my post popular articles from last year on my System For Selling, where I covered how we set up Trello as our CRM, and our process for handling inbound sales leads. This continues to get passed around, and even wound up getting mentioned on Trello’s blog!

Podcasting

While you won’t get thousands of listeners overnight, podcasts are much less competitive and easier to reach people than a new blog. There simply aren’t as many podcasts as there are blogs.

I also found that podcasts seem to build a more intimate relationship with your audience than readers of a blog. Plus, it’s fun!

Paid acquisition

I wouldn’t recommend this if you’ve never managed an ad campaign before. But if you know you’re way around Facebook ads or Twitter ads, then you might try it as a way to jump-start your email list. Point this traffic at a landing page for a free, educational resource, that is highly relevant to the people you want to reach, and the topics you write about.

I’ve had better success with Retargeting ads, since those are seen by folks who have already found you through organic channels first, but maybe didn’t opt-in to your list on their first visit.

Related: Tips and Tricks to Nail Facebook Advertising With Jon Loomer
The Lowdown on Facebook Advertising, and What We’ve Found Works Really Well

Return Visitors

Now, to be clear: The ideas I just listed above won’t bring in tidal waves of traffic. They’ll be more like drops and splashes. That’s OK for now. They’re only intended to get things going.

What will really move the needle are getting those first visitors to return and to share your content. That’s where your email list comes in.

Here are some ways I found work well attracting those first subscribers to your email list:

  • Offer a free resource, like an email course, highly relevant to your people’s why.
  • Point everything to the free resource: Bylines on your guest blog posts, link to it from your Twitter profile, mention it when you go on podcasts, this is your “gift” that you’re proud to share with anyone who might benefit from it. So promote it.
  • Include bonus content on some of your posts. For example, in my System For Selling post, I offer the exact setup instructions for anyone to download when they subscribe to my list.

The small breaks

As I’m sure you can tell, none of this audience-building stuff happens overnight.

The reality is it’s a long series of “small breaks”. A high profile Retweet. A guest post opportunity. An invitation to be on someone’s podcast. All of these add up and build exposure over time.

Some might see these as “lucky” breaks. But I see them as inevitable opportunities that arise when you repeatedly put yourself out there, serve your audience, and stick with it!

Brian Casel was a freelancer who turned productized business owner. Today he writes his newsletter and blog to help you do the same. Get Brian’s free email crash course on Productizing Your Service.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Building Your Audience From Zero to Traction

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The 3 Building Blocks of a Blockbuster Blog http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/03/16/the-3-building-blocks-of-a-blockbuster-blog/ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2015/03/16/the-3-building-blocks-of-a-blockbuster-blog/#comments Sun, 15 Mar 2015 14:07:57 +0000 http://www.problogger.net/?p=36428 Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

The 3 Building Blocks of a Blockbuster Blog

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This is a guest contribution from digital marketer Pratik Dholakiya.

Whether it is to pour out your musings in black and white, or to promote your business among your target audience, or even to create a record of important events that future generations can look back at years later, the reasons for blogging are as numerous as there are blogs on the internet.

The-3-Building-Blocks-of-a-Blockbuster-Blog

Of the millions of blogs currently online, a very tiny handful can claim to have any real level of success. Success can be measured in readership, virality, monetization, and many other different interpretations based on the primary purpose of the blog itself.

What Your Blog Needs to Be Successful

Here we’ll take a look at what it takes for a blog to be successful from the perspective of building a strong reader base and earning revenue from one’s blog.

1. Pick a Blogging Platform That Gives Your Blog Wings

A blog that you intend to build and nurture for years to come ought to be strong enough to bear the vagaries of time and tide on the internet.

By this, I mean your blogging platform needs to be easy to use, a pleasure to browse through, while simultaneously offering the right level of security to prevent any mischievous hackers from breaking in.

Trouble is – once you start looking the mind-boggling variety of options available – WordPress, Tumblr, Medium, TypePad, and more – will soon confound any beginner.

So before you dive headlong into creating a bunch of blog posts on the first platform that you stumble upon, here are a few basic metrics you must compare these platforms on:

  • Ease of use – Does it take you forever to even figure out how to open the blog editor? Is the reading experience painless? Is it mobile-friendly?
  • Customization – Doe the platform allow you to personalize your blog? Can you install plugins, change the themes or layouts, or even write your own CSS and HTML code if you so please?
  • Security – How secure will your data be? Will the subscriber email IDs that you’ll collect from your blog readers be safe and sound? How easy is it to back up your blog?
  • Cost – Is it completely free? Does it need you to buy hosting separately? Can you afford to pay for hosting?
  • Storage Space – How much free data storage is offered by your platform? Would you need to keep upgrading your storage every now and then? Would you need to move to a completely new platform when you run out of space?

Matt Banner of On Blast Blog has put together a very handy comparison of the best blogging platforms currently available. Weigh your options very carefully before you arrive at a decision.

2. Craft Each Post Like Picasso Giving Birth to Cubism

The best way to build a blog that really resonates with readers is to write about a topic that you are an expert about.

You don’t have to write about some complicated technical field, just because it’s in vogue. Are you a good cook? Start a recipe blog. Love to tinker with your car? Share your automobile expertise with the mechanically challenged people in the world through a blog.

Take Neil Patel’s QuickSprout blog, for example. Patel is a SEO and content marketing wizard, and he writes primarily about his core competence in his blog. His complete ease with the stuff he writes about and deep knowledge of his domain are reflected in every single post that he puts up. This particular post answers the question “How long should an ideal blog post be?”

Patel turns this rather mundane question into a detailed, well-researched and scientific analysis of different post lengths and their impacts on readership, conversions and shareability. By quoting live data points like the one below, Patel makes his post educational, interesting and highly readable.

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 12.02.35 pm

Source

And that is exactly what a blog needs to be successful – valuable content that is important to its readers, presented in a sharp, yet easy-to-digest manner.

Why, the best bloggers have readers forking out good money to read content that a lot of others give out for absolutely free – that’s the power of strong writing combined with solid research!

3. Make Your Blog Findable – By People and Search Engines Alike

Creating fabulous content and leaving it to fend for itself is doing a gross disservice to your blog and to potential readers out there.

To begin with, make sure you stick to one central topic in each blog post. This topic would typically be something your users really care about.

How do you find out what users want to read? By using tools like the Google Keyword Planner, KeyWordTool.io or the Moz Keyword Analysis Tool, you will discover the most popular keywords that users are looking for in your specific domain. Write dedicated posts about one or at the most two keywords – thus automatically making your content keyword rich.

Optimizing your on-page SEO is another critical part of having your blog discovered. Invest in free (or paid, if you can afford them) SEO plugins like Yoast or All-in-One SEO, which optimize various aspects of your page without too much manual effort from your end. If you want to take your on-page SEO a notch higher, make your meta data work for you.

Spend time on creating great meta descriptions for each post that will inform your reader what your post is about straight from the search results page.

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 12.02.51 pm

Make it a habit to cross reference posts on your blog in new posts that you write, and link to them – this increases visibility for old content and makes it more authentic from the point of view of a search engine.

A key platform that you MUST harness to promote your blog is social media. Put up links to your latest blog post on social networks like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn depending on what type of audience you’re targeting. Organic posts on social media can only take you so far. If your budget permits, create a serious advertising plan on social media platforms to market your blog.

Related:
Tips and Tricks to Nail Facebook Advertising
The Lowdown on Facebook Advertising, and What We’ve Found Works Really Well

One of the first steps you need to take once your blog is live is to work towards collecting a strong subscriber list. A prominent subscription widget on every page accompanied by maybe a lightbox message as the reader moves to exit your blog are good options to start quick. All it takes is one email to your entire subscriber base to jumpstart your readership.

Take up speaking opportunities at local events in your field to widen your audience and raise your reputation in your niche. Attending workshops related to your field exposes you to experts who can help you through both information and contacts from their industry networks.

In Closing

Data shows that 77% of all internet users read blogs.

With half the world’s population now online, that makes it 2.3 billion people who form your potential audience.

Equal portions of hard work and digital marketing savvy tempered with a dash of patience result in a smash-hit blog. Give it a shot. Your blog will thank you for it.

Pratik Dholakiya is the Co-Founder and VP of Marketing of E2M, a digital marketing agency and MoveoApps, a mobile apps development company. Pratik has contributed on sites like Moz, Fast Company, Social Media Examiner, KISSmetrics, and Content Marketing Institute to name a few. He’s a ‘must follow’ SEO expert according to Search Engine Watch and has been named one of the top content marketing influencers by Onalytica. He’s passionate about fitness, entrepreneurship, startups and all things digital marketing.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

The 3 Building Blocks of a Blockbuster Blog

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