Close
Close

Feeling “Blogged Out?” [10 Pro Bloggers Share Their Advice on What to Do]

A Guest post by Heather Allard from The Mogul Mom.

If you’re a regular ProBlogger reader, you know that Darren dishes up heaps of incredible blogging advice 7 days a week, 365 days a year. His archives positively overflow with information on how to build a blog from the ground up, how to engage readers, how to earn a living from your blog, how to search engine optimize your blog, how to market your blog through social media and so much more.

If you’re a beginner blogger, there’s no better place to learn than at ProBlogger.

I know because when I started blogging in 2007, ProBlogger was like a launch pad for me.

I blasted into the blogosphere, writing posts in rapid fire succession as new idea after new idea spilled out of my bloggy brain faster than I could jot them down in trusty notebooks scattered around my house and car.

I churned out short posts, long posts, reviews, interviews, vlogs, linkies and more list posts than you could shake your cursor at. I SEO’d the daylights out of my blog, carved out a nice niche for myself and built up a pretty sweet subscriber base. I came, I blogged, I monetized. Oh yeah.

And then, after 3 solid years of blogging, I suddenly found myself with nothing left to say. No, not just blogger’s block. I’m talking not a damn thing to blog about. Zero, zip, nada. Last stop on the blogosphere for this lady.

350 posts, 1200 subscribers and 2000 comments later, I was officially all blogged out.

So I spent a week curled up in the fetal position deciding whether it’s better to burn out or fade away from the blogosphere, and then it hit me.

Surely I couldn’t be the first – or the only – blogger to feel this way!

So I did what any blogger worth her Alexa rank would do – I decided to BLOG about being all blogged out.

Newly invigorated, I set out in search of other solo bloggers who’d felt this same way to ask them what they did about it.

What I found was 10 top bloggers with very different takes – and advice – on being all blogged out.

Laura Roeder @lkr

Blogging Since:

Well I’ve been creating and sharing content online in various formats since about 1996. But I’ve never really considered myself a “blogger”or had one mega-popular blog. My current blog for my business has been running for about a year and a half.

Have you ever felt all blogged out?

Yes, definitely! I don’t blog that frequently so I usually don’t try to force it. I sometimes only update my blog once a month, it just depends on what I have going on and what I’m inspired to create. 99% of my blog is in video format, it is really difficult for me to write a beginning-middle-end article, it’s just not how my thoughts come I guess. But I could talk forever so video is the perfect format for me!

What did you do about it?

I plan out an editorial calendar at least 6 months in advance. This is the key part – you can’t just plan but you have to force yourself to stick to the weekly topic. I think too many bloggers wake up in the morning and try to think of a great topic that day – planning out a calendar in advance is a great solution. And then you have time to filter your ideas to make sure they’re all good instead of scraping the bottom of the barrel, desperate to come up with ANYTHING to write about!

Chris Guillebeau @chrisguillebeau

Blogging Since:

2008 — although I had been writing in other formats for a couple of years prior.

Have you ever felt all blogged out?

Thankfully — no.

How have you avoided it?

I’ve avoided it by trying to be somewhat intentional about the process.

First, I don’t limit myself in writing about one specific, niche topic. I write about a number of topics (travel, entrepreneurship, motivation) for a number of venues (my own blog, other blogs, a newspaper column, magazines, books, etc.). The variety is very helpful, because even though I’m writing a lot, the deliverables are not always the same.

And second, writing is my job. It’s just what I do. If a plumber gets bored, she still shows up every day and goes to work. Why should it be different for creatives? Steven Pressfield wrote about this in the wonderful little book The War of Art, which I re-read regularly and would recommend to anyone feeling “blogged out.”

Chris Brogan @chrisbrogan

Blogging Since:

I started in 1998 back when it was called journaling. I’ve used several different sites before settling on my own domain, and my blog technologies used to be WYSIWYG website design tools, so those ones are lost to all but the Wayback machine.

Have you ever felt all blogged out?

Never. I have more blog posts than I have time to post them. I write two or three at a time, so that I have a few in my rainy day pile (though at the time of writing this, I ran out, so will have to blog a few things on the next two airplanes). I never feel all blogged out. We have TONS to cover, and lots of ways of looking at things.

How have you avoided it?

Blogging/writing is about practice. The more you do it, the easier it comes. It’s like exercise. You can’t join a gym and bench press 300 pounds the next day. It takes a while to work your muscles up into the shape you need to perform. Same with writing.

I keep my eyes open. I read. I spend lots of time on other people’s blogs. I cultivate relationships, where sometimes the question someone poses makes for a great blog topic. There are tons of ways to find blog topics. One trick to doing something about it is to maintain a list of blog topics to write about for rainy days. I’ve given people over 300 over the last few years.

Danielle LaPorte @daniellelaporte

Blogging Since:

2008

Have you ever felt all blogged out?

No, never, absolutely not, the very thought makes me gasp in horror. For real.

How have you avoided it?

Everything is content. Believing that it’s all around you will help you find it. The conversation that you had with your girlfriend about Haiti, or the absurdity of phone books being delivered, or why your barista gives you the best customer service. Notice what you notice and trust that you can create some value out of it.

Tell a story. My speaking coach, Gail Larsen told me something that changed how I approach both speaking gigs and writing: Creating good content is not about looking for stories that will support your message, it’s about letting the stories find you. The stories that you remember so vividly, that you recall with the most affection or emotional charge – they’re in your psyche for good reason. You’ve held on to them because they resonate with your truth, your message – and that’s where the creative sweet spot is. Find the message in the stories you’re inspired to tell.

Get interviewed. Ask a friend to ask you some questions. Keep it casual or turn on a video camera while you’re at. You will be amazed at how damn profound, informed, and creative you can be when you get to riff to someone who already thinks you’re great.

James Chartrand @MenwithPens

Blogging Since:

I began blogging in early 2007 for my own business blog at Men with Pens, and I also began guest blogging at various other sites around the blogosphere at the same time. This spring, it’ll be three years that I’ve been a full-time blogger.

Have you ever felt all blogged out?

Oh, absolutely. Since my focus has always been on freelance writing, and that’s what I’ve tried to blog about the most, there comes a point where you tell yourself that you’ve said all you could, that you can’t think of anything else to say. That feeling never lasts very long for me – I have a pretty active mind that seizes on new ideas and spins easily – but sure, I think every blogger goes through a period of feeling there’s nothing left to write about.

I feel that many people, when they hit this point, fall back on repeating the same messages or content, only in different words. It’s a way to break through the problem, but I didn’t want to go that route. I feel a sense of obligation not to cheap out just to be able to slap up a post – I worked hard to build my blog up, and it means more to me than that. Blogging is more than just a job you have to do; it’s a commitment you make and uphold.

What did you do about it?

To avoid feeling I was running on empty, I looked instead at the related subjects of freelance writing. I realized there’s a lot more to writing than just writing about writing. There’s the business side, the administration, the customer service, the branding, ways to land new jobs, etc. When I realized that I wasn’t limited to what I could write on and still stay within my specialty, a whole world of possible posts opened up. I revisit that vast pool of potential each time I feel tapped out.

Another trick I use when I’m feeling like I just have nothing to write about anymore is to write – about something else. I put the blogging aside and work on some fiction or creative writing, just for fun. Or, I go out for a day and screw off, and I find that taking myself away from feeling like I have to blog brings me new inspiration. As I enjoy my day, I think about how the experiences I have relate to my subject. How are buying a pair of boots and blogging the same, for example? How is grocery shopping and writing similar? What did I like about that sign, and why did it catch my attention?

Sometimes, to be creative, you have to get away from trying to be creative, and ask questions that you wouldn’t normally think of asking.

For tapped out bloggers, my best advice is to take away the pressure by reminding yourself that this isn’t an obligation. In the bigger scheme of life, missing a week of blog posts while you disconnect or cutting your posting frequency from five days a week to once every two weeks won’t really make much difference. It’ll give you some relief from that ‘have to blog’ feeling, remind you of what’s really important in life and let you take care of yourself first.

Johnny B Truant @JohnnyBTruant

Blogging Since:

I really only started seriously in late 2008, writing my old pure humor blog at theeconomyisnthappening.com. I’d been writing “blog-like” stuff for some time before that on and off, but never actually launched a blog until 08.

Have you ever felt all blogged out?

Oh yes. Around 2001, I used to write a humor newsletter that I’d manually e-mail out to my friends and family. (The salvageable newsletters became the earliest posts in the humor archive on my current site.) Although I haven’t hit a wall since starting blogging in earnest in 2008-9, I hit several with those old pseudo-blog writings.

I started that endeavor with a weekly newsletter, and then slipped into monthly. Several times, I’d re-run old posts because I had nothing to write about, and once I wrote a post about having nothing to write about. The reason that pseudo-blogging ended was because I got tired of feeling like I had nothing to say every week — or at least, nothing to say that was funny.

What did you do about it?

I just quit.

Now, I’m not particularly concerned about running out of material and here’s why: Back in the day, I wrote humor and only humor. If it wasn’t funny, it wasn’t fit to run — with one notable exception just after 9/11/01. So not only was I looking for funny things to happen, but I had to work hard to tell folks about them in funny ways. That’s really, really hard to do — especially ongoing.

My blog now is an unashamed hodge-podge. I’ve deliberately kept my blog from having a niche, a genre, or a focus. It’s just about me, my business, what I’ve learned, what I do, and whether or not wild turkeys have found their way into my barn. Sometimes it’s funny, and sometimes it’s dead serious. All I have to do now is write what’s in my life, my head, and my heart — whatever that may be.

Lastly, I’ve only run two guest posts ever on my blog, but I’ve had other offers and may just start accepting some if I do get bogged down. I’ve seen some of my blogging friends do that if they are running low or if they go on vacation. I haven’t done it yet, but it’s nice to know the option is there.

Sarah Bray @SarahJBray

Blogging Since:

Don’t tell anyone, but I actually started several failed blogs before having even a whiff of success. My first one was in 2004. And no, I’m not giving details (curse you, Google archives!).

Have you ever felt all blogged out?

Heck yeah. Every blogger has those moments. We pressure ourselves to crank out amazing post after amazing post, and then we wonder why the wheels stop turning. For me, it was my subject matter — writing posts about the strategic side of web design for such a wide audience. I’ve got fellow designers who want to know how I do it, entrepreneurs who are completely new to the web (or the social web), entrepreneurs who are definitely NOT new to the web, people who are curious about my adamancy for content-driven websites…it’s just a really broad audience.

More challenges:

  • Writing about technology without inducing cricket chirps or loud snoring
  • Writing about things that anyone can do — not just super-technical people (which requires getting out of my super-technical brain and pretending I’m my computer-challenged mother…an interesting and involved process)
  • Writing about new ideas that are not talked to death all over the internet already
    • All of that has the power to turn me into a headlight-mesmerized deer if I think about it too much.

      What did you do about it?

      I put a lot of pressure on myself to only publish stuff that gives me a blood-rushing-to-the-head feeling. It’s what I do instead of punching all of those people in the face who say that bloggers aren’t “real writers”. Or maybe it’s because I like that writerly high you get when you know that you’ve communicated something really effectively.

      So to answer the question, I stick to a posting schedule that will allow me to do this. During some seasons of the work year, I publish three times a week. In this particular season, I publish once a week. I’m a huge believer in sticking to a posting schedule. It’s like your favorite show being on tv at the same time every week…you feel more committed to it when you can expect it. At the same time, I let myself be comfortable with changing my publishing schedule when that makes sense.

      I wouldn’t recommend doing this if your entire job is to write. But for my situation, giving myself permission to change my posting schedule for a season makes more sense than writing crappy stuff, not writing at all out of sheer overwhelm, or not getting my client-related work done. It takes some of the pressure off during busy times, which somehow brings blog topic epiphanies out of the sky. I don’t know how it happens…magic, maybe.

      Dave Navarro @RockYourDay

      Blogging Since:

      I started the RockYourDay.com blog in 2006, but didn’t really start building it seriously until the beginning of 2008, when I went all guns blazing (thanks to some inspiration from @menwithpens). I started The Launch Coach in early 2009 and hit the ground with a running start on that one, since it was making me money right off the bat, and that’s where I put 95% of my blogging time.

      Have you ever felt all blogged out?

      I feel that way all the time – I think it’s a natural part of a writer’s psychology, when we wonder how we can write something good when it’s already been done. We worry that what we write might not be good enough compared to other people or compared to our own successful posts, and it’s draining.

      What did (do) you do about it?

      The way out of that is to remember you’re in this to help people, not achieve God-like status on a post-by-post basis. What I do to break the funk is look through old comments for where people talk about what they’re struggling with and write about that, imagining I’m writing to that one person. That breaks the all-about-me-drama and gets me back on track. (And if I haven’t had comments lately I go to other blogs and look at their comments).

      Audrey McClelland @AudreyMcClellan

      Blogging Since:

      I started blogging in June 2008.

      Have you ever felt all blogged out?

      Definitely. I started my personal blog in June 2008, after I had my 4th son. After blogging about his birth and then about being the mother of 4 boys – I started to feel VERY “all blogged out” in November of 2008. I wanted to blog about things beyond my personal motherhood story. I think I kind of felt like, “What makes my story different or unique?” I kind of felt like nothing did… my blogs started to get very much of the same feel. So I made a conscious decision to change the direction of my blog in January 2009 because I felt it would infuse me with added energy.

      What did you do about it?

      I came out of it by starting my 365 Days of Fashion Advice for Moms. I loved sharing my experiences as a mom, but I wanted to get away from constantly talking about how difficult mealtime was or how I was so tired from not sleeping throughout the night. I wanted to add my love of fashion to the mix. So I started blogging about fashion advice for moms and I brought my own motherhood experiences to it, as the mother of 4 boys.

      The advice I would give a blogger that is all blogged out is bring another dimension into your blog. I had worked in the fashion industry for 6 years previous in New York City and I had a love and a passion for fashion. I did and still do wake up every single morning excited to blog about it. I just needed to take that step to bring another piece of me onto the table and not be scared to do it. Things changed for me professionally when I did make the change and it was all because I was feeling “blogged out.” I didn’t feel like my writing had a direction in 2008 and I wanted it to. Niching my blog became the best thing I ever did.

      Michael Martine@Remarkablogger

      Blogging Since:

      I had been creating and designing websites since 1994 (pretty much as soon as I got online when the Internet became available to anyone via AOL back in the day). I discovered Blogger in 1999 before Google bought them and have been a blogger ever since (though I switched to WordPress as soon as I discovered it).

      Have you ever felt all blogged out?

      Never! My audience is made of up certain segments who all have specific problems. So between that, the basics, and the new stuff that keeps unfolding, there is no end of topics to blog about.

      How have you avoided it?

      There are several reasons why I’m never blogged out. My readers, clients, and customers are mostly business owners. Different businesses have different challenges when it comes to blog marketing, so by focusing on a specific niche (like, say, real estate agents or freelance web designers) and then addressing a specific problem someone in that niche faces, I simply never run out of topics. I don’t always focus on a specific industry, but I’m guaranteed an infinite number of blog post topics if I do.

      This means my posts tend to be longer than the usual 250 – 500 words of a typical blog post. Because of this, it takes me longer to write a post and so I don’t publish as often as many other bloggers. At the least, I publish twice a week. At most, I may publish up to four times a week. But I never publish every day of the week. This makes it easier to come up with ideas and keeps the quality of the writing higher.

      Here are some tips for coming up with post ideas:

      • Think of a specific type of person in your blog audience and a problem they have, then write a post for that person that addresses the problem.
      • The basics never go out of style. Tackle them in your own way or link to posts which cover the basics.
      • Tell a story from your own life that has a lesson to teach your audience.
      • Compile a list of resources your audience will find valuable.
      • Accept guest posts from others in your niche (sometimes you have to ask for them).
      • You can always interview others in your niche.

      To prevent yourself from getting blogged out in the future, try these tips:

      • Be in constant communication with your audience: ask what keeps them up at night, what their problems are, what information they are hungry for.
      • Think of series of posts you can write. A series guarantees post ideas for many days. Note how successful Darren has been with his “31 days” series. You have to think of these in advance and plan them out.
      • As you surf the web, collect links by topic in Evernote or some other note-taking system. Then, when they become numerous enough, you can publish them in a resources post. These can build up over time, so that very little work is involved in creating them.

      Don’t let ideas get away from you when you do have them. There are many ways to capture ideas.

      So, if you’re feeling all blogged out, you’re in good company. And you’re definitely not at the end of the blogging road.

      Laura, Chris G., Chris B., Danielle, James, Johnny, Sarah, Dave, Audrey and Michael gave awesome ideas about what to do when you’re feeling all blogged out. And, I don’t know about you but my head is swimming with new blog ideas. Now…where’s my notebook?

      Well? What about you? Have you ever felt all blogged out? What did you do about it?

      Heather Allard lives in Rhode Island with her husband, three kids, Hope, Grace & Brendan and one big dog, The Dude. Since 2001, she’s started three businesses and sold one of them for six figures. Now she shows mom entrepreneurs how to build a business between diaper changes and play dates – without breaking the bank, or their spirit. Find her on Twitter as @HeathAll.

7 Tips to Keep Your Family On-Board for Your Blogging Journey

A guest post by Dustin Riechmann of Engaged Marriage.

Blogging and FamilyMy life is pretty typical for a 30-year old family man these days. I do my best to maintain a hectic schedule and the demands that come with balancing a wife, kids, a full-time career, a mortgage, church, community service, tee ball practice, my daughter’s tea parties and the occasional beer or round of golf with my buddies.

Oh yeah, and I’m a blogger, too.

Does This Sound Familiar?

You crawl into bed several hours after what would be considered a normal bedtime. Sure, you are short on sleep and you have a big meeting in the morning, but you are feeling pumped about the great post you just knocked out. This could be the pillar content or the guest post for ProBlogger that puts your blog on the map.

Is your spouse happy for you, or do they feel left out or abandoned?

Of course, the answer to this hypothetical (but really important) question won’t hinge on your actions on one particular night spent working late. The way your spouse and/or kids view your online pursuits will be based on the way they have been impacted and where they feel they fit into your many priorities.

A healthy family life is not only critical for your happiness but for your success in blogging. The creation, growth and maintenance of a remarkable blog requires a great deal of energy and hard work. And if you are constantly fighting the resistance of those in your own household, you are simply not able to sustain the required effort for the long haul.

7 Tips to Build Family Support for Your Blog

I have experienced these struggles first-hand during my first six months of blogging, and I happen to write on the topic of building an extraordinary marriage and family life.

Here are some tips that should help keep your spouse happy and your family supportive of your admirable efforts:

1. Set Priorities and Keep Them

Trust me, I know how easy it is to become totally obsessed with your blog, and this is especially true when you are getting started and trying to do so many different things to create a quality site and attract an audience. I think this passion is an awesome thing, and if you don’t have it you probably need to question your chosen niche or maybe even your desire to be a serious blogger.

However, you really need to take a step back and make sure you have your priorities straight. If you have a family (and you like them and would prefer that they stick around), you cannot let your blog trump your love and attention to them. Set your priorities, communicate them clearly and then let your actions confirm your good intentions.

2. Create Healthy Boundaries

The best way to stay true to your priorities is to create some boundaries with your time. For example, I have established a “no computer time” rule for myself where I don’t use the laptop (or my smart phone) between the time I get home from work and when we get the kids to bed. By setting up this boundary, I free my time and my mind to enjoy my children, play outside or help my wife out with dinner each evening.

Tell your spouse about your boundaries and encourage them to let you know if they see you slipping and not holding true to your commitments. Your family should be your best accountability partner, and they’ll know better than anyone when they feel like you’re not keeping them your top priority.

3. Communicate Your Reasons for Blogging

Why are you investing all this time and effort into blogging anyway? Take the time to tell your loved ones why your blog is important to you and how you see it as a benefit for your family.

It could be that you see it as a creative outlet, it makes you a better person or simply that you want to make money with your blog. Whatever your reasons, I’d bet that your intentions are good and that your entire household could be helped by your hard work. Tell them about it!

4. Sacrifice Personal Time, Not Family Time

If you have made the commitments that should come along with marriage or having children, it’s vital that you don’t push those aside in deference to your time online. We already talked about setting priorities, but the way you prove your intentions is in how you spend your time.

When you need to put your blog time into overdrive to meet a deadline or create your own product, it will require a sacrifice of time from some other area of your life. If you want your family to stay on-board with your efforts, you must sacrifice your own personal time. This may mean skipping poker night or a girl’s night out, but it shouldn’t mean missing your date night with your spouse or your daughter’s school play.

5. Seek Their Input

If you want your family to love your blog as much as you do (okay, so that’s not possible), try to get them involved in some way. This could be as simple as having your spouse proofread a post, or it could mean that you share your thoughts about a recent family event with your audience in a relevant way.

The way you handle this will obviously depend on your niche. I wouldn’t expect many writers to share the same level of personal stories as someone with a marriage blog, but you can surely find a way to make your family feel like they have at least a small ownership in your efforts.

6. Don’t Get Too Personal

While you want to get their input, you need to be careful not to cross the line by sharing too much personal information on your site to the point that your family becomes uncomfortable. You should have a general agreement with your spouse about what is okay to include in a blog post, such as using real names, personal stories or family photos.

My site discusses some pretty intimate issues (sex, money and spirituality for instance), and I love to include personal examples to help create compelling content. However, we have discussed this issue thoroughly, and my wife is totally cool with it as long as I don’t get too crazy. In fact, that’s actually my family in the picture above for all of ProBlogger nation to scrutinize.

Make sure you define the “personal line” with your family and don’t cross it without their permission.

7. Be Inspired By Your Family

You love your family, and if you are like me, they motivate you to do great things. Let your time with them fuel your motivation and inspire you to have an awesome blog.

This could be as simple as breaking writer’s block by goofing around with your kids, or it could mean literally writing a post based around a unique family experience. Let the love and energy your family provides shine through in your writing.

You Can Have It All

A successful blog requires some late nights and a lot of time. There really is no substitute for hard work, and you are not going to get the results you desire without a significant investment of your energy and attention.

However, if you keep things in perspective and make the proper investments in your relationships, you can have a thriving blog amidst all the craziness of life. More importantly, you can have the awesome marriage and healthy life that your entire family deserves.

So, what will you do to ensure that your family remains supportive of your blogging journey?

I’ve gotta run…I have a date night planned with my wife. And soccer practice bright and early tomorrow morning.

Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage with the mission of helping others achieve the extraordinary in marriage and in life. Please visit his site for more proactive and practical advice on topics ranging from Sex to Spirituality…and find him on Facebook and Twitter.

10 Tips for Blogging Your Way to Small Business Success

This is a guest post from Mark Hayward, you can follow him on Twitter @mark_hayward. The article focuses on helping business folk, both big and small, who would like to start blogging.

small-business-blogging-tips.png

Do you own a business? Have you noticed a dramatic decrease in sales because of the current economy?

Here’s the thing: For people like Darren, Brian Clark, and Leo Babauta blogging is a full-time job, a primary source of income, and most importantly, a real and profitable business model.

But, what if you find yourself in a different camp?

Perhaps, if you’re like me, you own business that provides a service, manufactures goods or sells consumer products. Blogging is NOT your business, but you use (or would like to use) it as a tool to market and promote your venture.

When I was just getting started as a small business blogger one of the smartest observations I heard on the subject came from Shana Albert (a.k.a The Nanny612). She stated, quite simply: ‘I don’t make money from my blog, but I make money because of my blog.’

In essence, Shana uses her blog to strategically drive traffic to her business website where she sells pre-school curriculum. Her words of wisdom have stuck with me and I think any business, whether large or small, can really succeed in doing the same thing.

Further reading: check out Darren’s previous posts on ways of making money BECAUSE of your blog.

Blogging is for pimply-faced kids!

Surprisingly, a lot of business owners that I meet on a daily basis have a sentiment similar to the one above. In fact, most think;

Sure blogging and social media are great if you enjoy spending your days ‘cyberloafing’, but they certainly can’t help me to promote my business.

Quite honestly, I find it shocking and awfully hard to believe that MANY business owners still have this general view of blogging and social media.

A Personal Case Study

For those of you who might not know, I own a small business in the Caribbean. When I was first getting started I really had no budget to pay for advertising and marketing. As such, I have utilized nothing but blogging and social media for the past couple of years to promote my business. More specifically, when I took over this B&B venture there were no reservations, no customers, and no prospects. In a short period of time I have been able to go from a no cash or customer flow to maintaining a 70-100% occupancy rate depending on the month. (Yes, even in this economy!)

My business provides me with an opportunity to meet incredible people from all over the world. Most recently, I had a guest visiting from a neighboring Caribbean island and, he too, runs a small hotel.

During one discussion the gentleman told me that his business was down a whopping 75% over the past year. According to him, the lack of customers and drop in business could all be attributed to the state of the economy. Truly, I felt awful for him.

While I wholeheartedly agree that the collective global economy is in terrible shape, I asked him what type of promotion and marketing he was doing so that his customers could find him and to help keep his business in the public eye.

His answer (and I think this explains a lot):

‘We are doing what we have always done.’

Upon further investigation, I found out that ‘What we have always done‘ equated to a fairly decent website if it was the year 2000 and a U.S. based reservation service that is paid a percentage to make bookings for him. That’s it.

To be fair, my guest was a bit older and I think he was afraid to embrace new technology and marketing methods. But it tends to boggle my mind that even in this hyper-technical age he and many other business owners are missing a HUGE opportunity to promote their business in an extremely cost effective manner.

Unfortunately, the conversation with my guest ended and I did not have the time that morning to discuss the issue further. However, if I had the time, and or, if you know a business owner in a similar situation, the following is what I would have passed on to him;

Ten Tips to Help You Blog Your Way to Small Business Success

Tip One: Define your goals

Whether you are a plumber, bike retailer, or cafe owner start by assessing your business goals and how you would like your blog to help you achieve them – e.g. Do you want customers to find you? Do you want to be on the front page of Google? Are you all about selling more services and product?

Tip Two: Research keywords

Before you begin blogging have a look at some of the keyword tools like the one found on SEO Book and determine what your potential customers and clients are actually searching for. If your business is active in a mostly local market, or generally for clients in a small town, then include the town’s name in your research. The information gathered from running a couple of keyword searches is extremely valuable when it comes to writing posts that are targeted and meant to highlight specific information.

Tip Three: Use free tools

I think many small business folk are turned off by blogging and social media because they are under the illusion that marketing online costs a tremendous amount of money. My chosen platform for my business website and blogging is WordPress, which, I am sure most of you know, is free to use and has some amazing free themes. (Note: If you want to spend a couple of dollars you can get Thesis theme.)

Tip Four: Educate the consumer

When starting a blog that revolves around your small business the general tendency is to want to publish a bunch of SPAM posts that extol your virtues. While it is okay to do this once and a while, I have found that educating the consumer works tremendously well and is highly effective. Also, please remember that there is a big difference between using your business blog to tell your story (How you came to own the business, defining your passion, etc.) and just telling people to buy your product or service because you are the best.

Tip Five: Allow 3 to 6 months for return on investment (ROI)

There are a few schools of thought when it comes to measuring ROI for business blogs. We all, myself included, are searching for that magic bullet that is going to draw in more customers. However, from my own experience and in discussion with other business owners who blog, three to six months seems to allow enough time to put up an adequate amount of posts (even if you only publish once a week) and to also obtain a quantifiable and measurable amount of customer data.

Tip Six: Research the competition

Small business owners sometimes feel funny inquiring about what their competition is up to. Keep in mind, this is business, I highly recommend having a search around the web to discern what your competitors are up to. In most cases I think you will be pleasantly surprised to find out that they do not have a strong web presence. And if they do, you will now know that you need to step your game up a bit more.

Tip Seven: Keep it simple

Business blog posts do not have to be extravagant Pulitzer Prize worthy affairs. If you should find yourself stuck for topics, or are facing blogger’s block, have a look at this post I recently did, 31 Blog Post Ideas For Small Businesses.

Tip Eight: Forums are your friend

One of the most common complaints I hear from business bloggers who are getting started is ‘Nobody is coming to my site.’ Is that so? I don’t care if you trade in rare eighteenth century chess pieces or high-end designer shoes; chances are a niche forum exists for your specific business. Do a simple Google search to find out where your customers are hanging out online and make a visit to those sites. Promoting your small business within a forum works best when you approach it in the same manner as step four. You need to educate the consumer and gain member trust before you can start endorsing yourself (otherwise you will be seen as a troll).

Tip Nine: Be consistent

Quite possibly the most important piece of advice for any small business blogger – You NEED to be consistent in your efforts.

Tip Ten: Once you are blogging regularly branch out into other social media

Starting a comprehensive social media and marketing plan can really help to give a traffic boost to your business blog. Social media does not have to be intimidating and you can easily start by uploading a few well tagged and described photos to FLICKR and then possibly move on to YouTube, FaceBook, and Twitter.

If you are a business owner who is struggling in this economy, or if you know of someone who is hesitant to embrace the power of blogging for business promotion, here are a few of additional resources that might help.

Are you a ProBlogger, or business owner who blogs? What are some tips that you might offer?

Mark Hayward owns a business and lives in the Caribbean. He is co-founder of the nonprofit, Train for Humanity, and you can follow him on Twitter @mark_hayward.

What Everybody Ought to Know About Blogging – 97 Blog Tips

Building-A-Better-Blog-2We are entering the last week in the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog project and I’m continuing to enjoy both writing my own tips and reading those being submitted by readers.

Today I’ve got another 97 reader tips for you (taking us to a total of 456 submissions so far) and once again they cover a wide array of topics relevant to any blogger wanting to improve their blog. If you’ d like to be included in the last lists simply follow the instructions in the Introduction to the 31 Day Project post. It’s worth doing – the last one of these posts went onto the front page of Delicious and i heard from a few readers that they had quite a bit of traffic as a result.

I hope you enjoy this wonderful array of blog tips:

31 Days to Building a Better Blog

UPDATE: This page is for the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog project that I ran in 2007. You can get a much more updated version of this challenge which I ran in 2009 here.

This is the central page of the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog Project that I’m running here at ProBlogger.

What is the 31 Day Project About?

To put it most simply – it’s a month long series of posts here at ProBlogger designed to walk you through 31 tasks that you can do to make your blog better. You can read more about how the project works and how to participate in my introduction to the project.

The project is made up of two parts:

My Tips and Reader Tips

Below you’ll find a summary of both. To keep up to date with the project subscribe to ProBlogger’s RSS feed or to our daily email updates.

To participate with a tip of your own simply follow the steps outlined in this post.

The Posts So Far

Day 1 – Email a New Reader
Day 2 – Run a ‘First Time Reader Audit’ on your Blog
Day 3 – Search for and Join a Forum
Day 4 – Interlink Archived Posts
Day 5 – Conduct an ‘About Page Audit’
Day 6 – Email an Old Timer Reader
Day 7 – Plan Your Next Week’s Posting Schedule
Day 8 – Comment on a Blog You’ve Never Commented On Before
Day 9 – Run an Advertising Audit On Your Blog
Day 10 – Declutter Your Sidebar
Day 11 – Dig into Your Blog’s Statistics
Day 12 – Introduce Yourself to another Blogger
Day 13 – Search for an Affiliate Program that Fits Your Blog
Day 14 – Analyze Your Blog’s Competition
Day 15 – Make Your Most Popular Posts Sticky
Day 16 – Create a Heatmap of Where Readers Click on Your Blog
Day 17 – Run a StumbleUpon Campaign for Your Blog
Day 18 – Create a Sneeze Page and Propel Readers Deep Within Your Blog
Day 19 – Respond to Comments on Your Blog
Day 20 – Run a Reader Survey
Day 21 – Make a Reader Famous
Day 22 – Catch New Readers Up on the Basics of your Blog
Day 23 – Go on a Dead Link Hunt
Day 24 – Do a Search Engine Optimization Audit
Day 25 – Go Shopping and Improve Your blog
Day 26 – Link Up to a Competitor
Day 27 – Find a Sponsor for Your Blog
Day 28 – What is Your Blog’s Mission Statement
Day 29 – Email a Blogger that Linked to You to Say Thanks
Day 30 – Explore a Social Media Site
Day 31 – Run a SWOT Analysis on Your Blog

Reader Tips

Days 1-2

Days 3-5

Days 6-8

Days 9-13

Days 14-19

Days 20-23

Days 24-27

Days 28-31

Speedlinking – 23 June 2007

Top 5 – Group Writing Project – Full Submission List

Here’s the full list of 893 participants in the ‘Top 5′ Group Writing Project. Thanks to everyone for entering!

Top 5 – Group Writing Project Day 2

Top-5Today is the first time that I’ve run a Group Writing project where the submissions have come in faster than I am able to read them all (I will read them all though!). You readers have blown me away today by the sheer numbers of you throwing yourselves into this project and by the creativity and diversity of your approaches.

Today we’ve had 242 submissions which on top of yesterdays 132 means we’ve already hit 374 bloggers participating (around 30 more than our previously most popular project – with still 2 days to go).

If you haven’t put your post in yet – there’s only two days to go. To enter and go into the draw for the $1001 prize read the instruction on this post and get your submission in.

The Prize and Why Chitika Rocks – #4

As a little thank you to the sponsor of this Group Writing Project (did I mention they’re putting up $1001?) I’m writing a mini series of comments about the – My Top 5 Reasons that Chitika Rocks. Today we’re counting down to number 4.

RpuOne of the best converting ad units from Chitika that I run on a few of my blogs is the Related Products Unit (RPU). These units simply look at the keywords that you suggest to them (I link them to the headline of my post) and then provide a text link to 3 related products. These are CPC units and they convert brilliantly – especially if you place them at the end of a post about a product (ie these won’t work as well on non product related posts).

Even though these ads appear at the bottom of my posts they convert as well (if not better) than ads I have above the fold. They’re gold! RPUs wont work for everyone (and Chitika do have a few requirements for publishers before they allow them to be used but if they let you into the program I’d highly recommend testing them on a product related blog.

Today’s Submissions

Warning – before tackling this list (and you’ll want to!) you’re going to need some supplies. Grab a coffee or beer (a six pack would probably be enough) as well as a snack (or two). There are some great reads in this list – please surf by as many as you can, comment, link up and spread some group writing project cheer!

Here are today’s submissions (PS: after the list is a list of the most clicked on links from yesterday’s submissions):
[Read more...]

Travel Blogging

MoiToday is day 12 in the 12 days of Christmas Series – but it’s not over yet (it looks like it’ll be a 15 days of Christmas series instead. Today Melissa Petri shares with us about Travel Blogging. I’ll let her introduce herself.

My name is Melissa Petri and I write Europe String – Travelling Europe on a Budget. Architecture may have been my initial vocation but I have earned my PhD in packing light and choosing the best hotels through years of practice. I am an expatriate in Germany; and count the USA, Hong Kong, China and Korea in my adoptive land list. Now that I have grown roots in Frankfurt, I have yet to give up my semi-nomadic life as I continue to traipse around the world for business and leisure.

Since I am perpetually on the go, you can expect Europe String updates to be researched first-hand. I have been known to go inside restaurants to interrogate the staff. I have also been known to listen to other tourists in cafes, trying to glean more insider information from unsuspecting yet reliable travel resources. Chutzpah and wanderlust go hand-in-hand to fill my head with information to share. Different travel information which are shared with 2 other travel blogs, are the by-products. Over at Escape Blog, I make sure that readers know that “getting there is only part of the equation, making sure you don’t piss off the locals is where the excitement begins.” And at Flyaway-Weblog, readers are informed about the current deals and the ins and outs of travelling.

Yes, I regularly write for 3 travel blogs. Note that when travelling, you will NEVER be worried about blogger’s block. A day’s worth of experience is blog fodder enough for the whole week. There are so many things to discuss that you will find yourself with even more information long after you have gone back home and started working on your desk.

What exactly can you write about?
[Read more...]