Most Popular Posts on ProBlogger 2014: General Tips

This week we’ve covered the five most popular posts in the areas of monetization, content, social media, and writing tips. Today we bring you the top 5 general tips that readers found most useful. I hope they do to you too! Read it now, or pin for later.

ProBlogger Popular Posts of 2014: General Tips - we covered grammar mistakes, one thing to do daily that will change your blogging, SEO must-dos, project management websites, and if Content isn't King - then what is?

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1. 5 Quick Grammar Tips to Improve Your Writing – Plus Free Downloadable Cheat Sheet

A super-handy overview of apostrophes, when to use that/which/who, when to use “everyday” vs. “every day”, commas, and capitalization. The cheat sheet is perfect for printing out and leaving it in your workspace so you’re never stuck with a grammar issue again.

Image by zev

Image by zev

2. Spend 10 Minutes Doing This Every Day and You Could Transform Your Blogging

We even started doing it at ProBlogger HQ at our regular meetings.

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3. Publish Your Blog Post Without SEO and Thousands of Visits will be Forever Lost

SEO kingpin Rand Fishkin stopped by ProBlogger to give us the absolute ultimate in SEO advice. Simple things you can do right now to ensure you’re getting the maximum exposure of your work.

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4. Top 10 Web-Based Personal Project Management Tools

You’re looking for a sweet app to streamline your worklife? Us too. Here are 10 of them that will keep you (and your team, if you have one) on track.

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5. Content isn’t King: Here’s What is

I know I’ve made this mistake in 2014 with my own blog. Content is great – but useful content is what gets you places. Are you useful?

 

Did you use these tips this year? Have you figured out a way to serve your readers by meeting their needs with your blog? I’d love to hear it!

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 (cat pictures welcome!).

 

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Most Popular Posts on ProBlogger 2014: General Tips


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Most Popular Posts on ProBlogger 2014: Creating Content

Content is King, as they say (or is it?!) so it’s no wonder that this topic was one of the most popular this year. Write great, useful content and promote it well – it’s the baseline for a successful blog.

Which of these top five posts resonates with you?

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1. How to Consistently Come up with Great Post Ideas for Your Blog

Part of our Creating Content Theme Week, a behemoth post of advice that will mean you will never be stuck for a post idea again.

Create Content To Promote Your Blog

2. How to Promote Your Blog with Content that Will Grow Your Traffic, Links, and Shares

It’s everything you want in one package: how to get traffic, links, and shares. Tips on how to get your content to shine.

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3. Three Ways to Define What Your Blog is About

Do you need a niche? What would you say yours was? Darren gives us the ins and outs of making a stand on your genre.

HOW TO CREATE MASSIVE VALUE CONTENT

4. Create Massive Value Content and Blow Your Readers’ Minds

If you followed the very first link on this page, you’ll find what is actually King – and this post will help you provide it for your readers.

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5. Content Week Case Study: Carly Heitlinger of the College Prepster on Where She Gets Her Ideas

Carly has barely missed a day blogging in six years. Here’s how she keeps content fresh, current, and more importantly – consistent.

 

What do you think? Anything to add on how to create great content? Where do YOU get your ideas?

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 (cat pictures welcome!).

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Most Popular Posts on ProBlogger 2014: Creating Content


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Most Popular Posts on ProBlogger 2014: Monetization

We’ve covered so much ground here on ProBlogger this year, and much of it about monetization – here are the top five posts this year in that category. Have you made the changes you read about in these posts? Which ones did you miss? Take this chance now to catch up – or pin it for future reference.

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Image via Flickr user Susy Morris

Image via Flickr user Susy Morris

1. Making the Impossible Possible: How I Created a Full-Time Blogging Income with No Qualifications

It seems like Stacey Corrin’s story of turning her passion into profit in just three months was a hit with you guys. And who can blame it – the majority of readers here want to make some kind of income from their blogs, and full-time seems like the jackpot. Some great tips in this post from someone who has been there, done that.

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2. How I Doubled My Unique Visitors in Six Months (and Tripled Them in a Year)

This is a post I wrote after seeing tremendous growth on my personal blog in 2012. Some real, practical take-home strategies you can do today to boost your traffic.

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3. 9 World-Class Bloggers Share Their #1 List-building Tip

A few famous faces gave their top tip for creating the best email list possible. Everything from content to plugins and download incentives is covered.

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4. Partnering with Brands Theme Week: Ways to Collaborate and Earn an Income on Your Blog

Aussie super-blogger Nikki Parkinson of Styling You gives the lowdown on how to make a brand-blog collaboration really shine. Nikki’s advice on ways to work together and how to get brands on side are not to be missed.

The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Media Kit // ProBlogger.net

5. The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Media Kit

Another one from our Working With Brands Theme Week – everything you need to know to create a kickass media kit, all in one place. Remember – less is more!

 

Did you catch these throughout the year? Have you found the tips useful? I’d love to chat!

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 (cat pictures welcome!).

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Most Popular Posts on ProBlogger 2014: Monetization


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Modern Enterprise Link Building Strategies for 2015

This is a guest contribution from digital marketer Ryan Chester. Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 11.39.34 am Everything needs to adapt with the advancement of customer needs, whether it is fashion, food or even enterprise digital marketing strategies. People should have to make changes in their principles as the time changes. Likewise, when you talk about link building and its key principles, you should have to create some distinction from their previous techniques because things are not like what they used to be in the past. Companies, who haven’t modified their strategies, or hired followers of old link building techniques, always suffer. They encounter difficulties in increasing their online presence. However, it does not mean that one cannot mend it or to become successful again. All they have to do is to change their thoughts and make themselves aware of the latest Google’s linking strategies.

Importance of links

I personally own a business, in addition to my current job. I too experienced this situation where my business was about to close – but thanks to Google’s Webmaster Tools, I gained insights about establishing credibility. I’m back to successfully running my business that is getting amazing response from all over the world. Initially, what I came to know is that creating links is an extremely important steps if you want to get quality search engine results.

Matt Cutts, head of the web-spam team in Google, cleared that Google uses sophisticated text-matching strategies to display search results and makes sure that they are both relevant and important for the users. Throughout my learning process, I found that links are not only important for maximizing your online presence, but they are even important for different SEO purposes. This is a possibility of getting traffic from many of your linked websites. Maybe, people visiting other websites are directed towards your site via external links. So, you can say that backlinks are always important for any website who wants to survive in this virtual world, no matter they have zero value. Let’s have a look at some of the most successful link building strategies.

On-Site Content Creation

The Webmaster Guidelines of Google recommend website owners create high quality and unique content that is relevant to their business, so they can naturally gain popularity and help them to develop trusted links. Your website’s traffic depends on the backlinks and links’ ability to cater attention of readers is entirely based on the quality one will be producing. If you have created impressive, flawless and high quality content, chances are higher that it will get better response compared to those that have low quality content. So, your first step in link building should be based on online content marketing with all the quality standards involved.

Tips for Creating Backlinks

Research

When I started, I didn’t know the real importance of research and didn’t have any idea where to begin. But, as soon as I explored the field, I began to realize its importance. My online content strategy was not successful until I came to terms with this. After getting all the information, I reset my techniques and focused on the research. However, I didn’t have to make much effort because I got something useful! Let me explain… since you are not alone in this industry, your competitors (who may have been in this industry for a long time) have done enough legwork that can help you in evaluating what sort of content you should create. You just have to look at their work and find out what type of content attracted most of the readers. This industry establishes credibility by revealing their secrets to gain more clients.

Content Development

After determining the best topics related to your industry, start combining them with content types that best compliment the idea. Below are some of the most famous content kinds that can definitely generate high traffic:

  • Lists

They are considered as the easiest techniques to create content because they can easily provide the desired information. Just like Heartbleed Hit List, you can cater attention of readers by showing more and more list numbers.

  • Videos

The web is making a major shift toward video content, and it’s a good time to get ahead of the curve. There is a lot of opportunity here, and you can make a big splash with YouTube in sending a lot of traffic to your website. There are some tips optimize your YouTube video or channel for better rankings too!

  • In-Depth Guide

If you have knowledge about a certain topic, you should discuss it in depth. Apart from showing how efficient and expert you are, I would recommend you to accept criticism from people because this will help you to get appreciation in the sense that you are ready to learn more- no matter how much experience you have.  It’s always a good idea to build a 101 guide or introduction guide, like we did for email marketing intro for entrepreneurs.

  • Pillar Pages

They actually refer to list of resources present on your website’s page for a certain topic. You can combine many articles on one topic on one pillar page and welcome readers to have a look at them. This will not only help you in showing the extent of your knowledge on that topic but also earn links and shares for you.

  • Industry Reports

You can gather data on your industry in the form of industry reports and allow readers to go through them whenever they want. Be sure not just to ask questions on different aspects but also throw light over demographic details to authenticate your words.

Content Promotion

Don’t think your task is over because content creation is half the battle. Its publication and promotion also need your attention because it is the actual time to attract readers so they can read it. When your goal is to create links, don’t just start sharing on social media platforms or via email marketing. You need to adopt a different approach and try to approach people through other sources. You can use Influencer Outreach, Content Amplification as well as blogging platforms to show your online presence.

More Link Building Strategies to Consider

Apart from the above mentioned tactics, you can follow any of the strategies that I am going to discuss.

Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is not exactly what people think of it. You approach the right people, at the right time , with right concept. In order to create quality links with guest blogging, you need to find top publications in your field, which are also getting good amount of social media shares and traffic. You can apply as a regular contributor instead of only being a guest blogger. Once you start publishing the content, connect them with your Google+ profile to create a satisfactory authorship. This will help in improving your reputation as the industry expert.

Media

You can become a credible source for reputed journalists as they are always in search of interesting finding, quotes or reports. This can help you in earning sufficient links on different online publications.

Sponsorships

Charities and sponsorship is a good idea to feature yourself in front the audience and influencing them to try out the services of your business. This will help you gain quality backlinks.

Ryan Chester is a digital marketing connoisseur. Part of the Enterprise SEO Team at AnnexCore. He has helped many multi-national companies achieve success with their digital marketing endeavors. Chat with him on Twitter here.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Modern Enterprise Link Building Strategies for 2015


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Stand out from the Crowd: Simplicity Tips from Amy Lynn Andrews

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If you’ve been blogging for long, you’ve no doubt heard of Amy Lynn Andrews.

Plain-language blogging tips, tricks, and tutorials are Amy’s game. And while everyone gets louder and brighter on the internet in order to catch your attention, Amy is whispering. And it works.

Amy covers everything from How to Start a Blog to How to Make Money Blogging, and sends out arguably the most useful newsletter on the planet every Sunday morning.

I wanted to know how the simple life made a difference to her blogging experience – if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed with all we’re supposed to do and use and read and be as bloggers, I hope this is useful to you. Slim down, pare back, focus on your priorities. Amy would want you to!

The Useletter

I asked Amy how she settled on her very different style of newsletter (and was reminded again how important an email list is):

“I wanted to reduce my dependence on other sources of blog traffic, like search, social media and referrals. I also liked the idea of permission-based marketing which gives me the power to go to my readers instead of waiting for them to come to me. In a nutshell, an email list was a more controllable digital asset for me,” she says.

“Once I decided to go in this direction, I knew I needed to stand out. Everyone is building a list these days; my emails had to be super valuable. I chose to leverage the reputation I had already built on my blog, which is the provider of helpful tutorials and in-plain-English content. I decided to focus on quick, bite-sized tips in my emails. I called it The Useletter because they are tips you can use.”

So did this simple template evolve over time, or was it planned from the outset?

“The basic, (mostly) text-only format has always been the same and it suits me well for 3 reasons: I like quick tips, I struggle to write blog posts and I’m lazy when it comes to including images. :)

“It was also somewhat inspired by NextDraft, the wildly popular daily news roundup written by Dave Pell.”

So what gets a coveted spot in The Useletter? How does Amy decide what’s most important? 

“I love to learn and my favorite online pastime is hunting for useful information. The internet is full of impressive people who share amazing tips and tricks. Whenever I come across something that makes me think, “Hey, that’s a great idea!” or “Oh, that’s handy!” I file it away to be included in The Useletter.

“I follow dozens of blogs and newsletters. I read ebooks, magazines, books and anything else I can download or put on my Kindle. I’m a huge fan of podcasts. Videos and webinars are often great sources of information too. Basically, anytime someone is talking about blogging or online business, I take note!

“Most of my reading material is funneled through Feedly where I categorize it according to my main topics. If it makes the cut as I scan through, it gets saved in Evernote, my holding tank for The Useletter tips. (Here’s how I use my editorial calendar.)”

Simplicity Gets Results

I think the simplicity works because it’s a little unexpected for an email. I’ve tried to format it in a way that people can quickly glean what they want. And I do my best to include a variety of actionable tips that doesn’t require reading a whole blog post to get the main nugget.”

It’s not only The Useletter that is frill-free: Amy’s website has been streamlined to make the most important things the focus and set aside all else. How has that worked for her? 

“I’m still experimenting with it, but yes, it did [improve The Useletter signup rates]. However, I’ve debated about switching it back, simply because I frustrate myself when I go to my site to lookup a post and I have to click through the home page first.”

So simplicity is a theme for her. But why?

“I appreciate simplicity in my own life. The more I’m online, the more complicated it feels. There’s just too much – too many graphics, too many apps, too many choices, too many ads, too many social media options. There’s too much vying for our attention. Simplicity makes life breathable.” [Tweet that!]

Simple Advice for Bloggers

Observe, listen and respond – to the people, not the gurus. Over the last few years, one of the clear messages I’ve heard from internet users is they’re suffering from information overload. They can’t keep up. And yet, bloggers and online business owners continue to churn out content at an astounding rate (I’m guilty too!). There’s nothing magical about simplicity, it’s just that simplicity is an antidote to a common pain point.

In Mailouts

Practice the art of empathy. Put yourself in your readers’ shoes. What would they appreciate? How can you help them? When it comes to online communication, email is intimate. Treat your subscribers with respect and they’ll stick with you for the long haul. Do your subscribers really want your email? Would you?” [Tweet that too!]

Simple Advice for Email Signup Rates

You can’t create sign ups, but you can create enticing content. Let the usefulness of your emails speak for themselves and others will eventually start promoting for you. Of course you can make your sign up form clear and conspicuous or offer a great lead magnet (i.e. freebie), but in my experience, word of mouth is a whole lot more effective.

After that, make your subscribers hesitant to unsubscribe, lest they miss out on what you’re going to send next!”

 

Wise words! I know I’ve been yearning for more simplicity in my blogging – I want to get to the heart of sharing something without sacrificing too much time and energy to do so. How about you? Feeling the pull to do more, be more? I’d love to chat in the comments!

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 (so much more!) at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama (cat pictures welcome).

 

 

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Stand out from the Crowd: Simplicity Tips from Amy Lynn Andrews


@ProBlogger

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How to Get Read: 8 Ways to Take your Blog From Existence to Greatness

This is a guest contribution from Jerry Low.

 

Here’s one thing I bet you don’t know about Isaac Newton – do you know Newton has the most valuable tooth in human history?

One of his teeth was sold in 1816 at auction for approximately $ 3,600. In today’s terms, that is about $ 35,000 – which cost more than a Ford Fusion Titanium car in the United States.

But how is this related to writing a great blogpost? Well, we will talk about it later (if you can’t wait, skip to point #2). But before we dig deeper, here are two more facts for you:

Blogging is practically a given these days, regardless of your title or industry — and for good reason.

Though there are plenty of ingredients required to make it… rather than just write to an abyss, quality blog posts are one that you just can’t overlook.

But what exactly makes a great blog post? Here are eight tips to take your blog from good to great.

1. Make your titles count

Before anyone actually reads your post, they’re going to see your headline — and that headline often is the only consideration you get as to whether they read the post or move on, so make it count.

Coming up with decent headlines isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but by creating a good set of headline templates that you can use later for brainstorming and writing reference, you’ll save yourself time on the back end — not to mention beat out writers’ block when it strikes.

A little more on headlines

Keep in mind the following when it comes to developing headlines for your blog posts:

Don’t under-estimate the value of a good “how to”

Every article seems at least a little bit interesting when you add “how to” into the title. I wouldn’t be surprised to see “How to pour plain water into a glass in 49 ways” go viral one day. And you know what? I’d probably read it. “How to” just inspire curiosity.

Incorporate “How to” in different ways and in different places in your headline. For example, you might do “49 ways to pour water” or “How to pour water: 49 unique ways” or even “49 unique ways to pour water into a glass: the how-to you need to see to believe.”

By placing the “how to” statement at different points in your headline and adding in adjectives or other lead ins, you’re able to adjust your levels of directness or drama.

If it bleeds, it leads

Not all words are created equal, so use them appropriately and carefully. Some words are soft and picturesque, some are impactful, heavy, threatening, and powerful… you get the idea.

Words like “kill,” “bleed,” “scary,” “dark,” “war,” and “secret,” for example, are quite powerful and quickly draw intrigue. They can also drive directly to a point –or, conversely, simply create an interesting play on words. Consider your purpose.

For example, “The war on words” creates a very different headline than “Why are there so many bad blogs?” Frankly, it just sounds more interesting and impactful. Or, take the following — which of these two headlines would you rather read: “Bleeding Blue… Democrats Take All” or “Democrats Win Seats Tuesday”?

3. Ride on the famous

Famous people have pull and persuasion — use that. This isn’t to say that you can start making up quotes or statements supposedly from Sandra Bullock… but you can use what (and who) you know and have access to.

Every industry has its power players — allude to them or incorporate them smartly and relevantly.

For example, “8 Ways to Think Like Warren Buffet — Create a Powerful Rapport With Your Readers,” mentions a well-known industry authority in a non-attributive way that still establishes know-how and intrigue. “Develop a Steve Jobs-quality Vision for your Company” is another example — it includes a well-known, respected persona in a neutral way to gain interest and establish legitimacy. It works for all industries — fashion and beauty? Try something like “5 Fall Outfits Even Anna Wintour Would Approve of.”

2. Open with a bang

When someone reads your blog, you have just a few seconds to hook that reader, so make every word count and make every word interesting. If you can hook visitors to read even just your first two or three sentences, they’ll be more likely to read your whole post.

There are many different types of hooks you can use in your blogpost. To name a few:

  • Shock the readers with interesting facts.
  • Use a quote that meshes up with your topic.
  • Ask a question to spark readers’ curiosity.

Make use of fact sites (example – this, this, and this) to find interesting facts and data. The story about Isaac Newton’s tooth earlier, for example, is a hook I use to attract more reads.

3. Write how you speak

speak

People read when what they’re reading is fun… corporate or formal tones are not fun to read, so loosen it up a bit.

Write your blog in fun, easy-to-understand language that takes a more personal tone. This is what distinguishes your blog from a whitepaper or other corporate communication — and, it’s why people will read your blog. They want to know what you’re up to and they want to know you (assuming you have something to say, that is) — so let them get to know you. Share your thoughts in your writing and let them get to know you by not only what you say, but how you say it.

Nenad Senic says it beautifully:

“Write like you talk. I love English for that. No matter what industry you’re coming from, write the way you talk. Writing blog posts is like giving advice or/and making a point…Your goal is to be understood. You want to get your message across. You can’t do so with cold, bureaucratic-like language.”

4. Use images to your advantage

It’s common sense, but also statistically proven again and again: articles that incorporate images attract more back links and views. Choose images that are not only relevant, but that are actually interesting. Avoid generic clip art, people can smell cheesy a mile away.

Personally, Pixabay and Compfight are my favorite sources for high quality, beautiful, and free photos. I love Pixabay due to its flexibility (no attribution is needed for images found on Pixabay!) and Compfight due to its flawless user-experience (very easy to search images). And, in case you want more, here’s a list of 20+ free image sources for bloggers.

5. Give your post flow and structure

Good blog posts are easy and fun to read not only because of how they say and the tone or language — they’re also easy to read because they’re well structured. Things like sub headlines, bullet points, images, tables, and other visual elements help to guide the reader’s eye and makes it easy for people to follow and read.

Easy reading gets more reading — it’s true.

6. Be social, be friendly

Want to get your blog posts read more frequently? Make it easy for people to share on social media.

When people see something they like, they like to share it with people they know — so making it easy for them to do so will direct more traffic to your blog. Simple share buttons for the major social networks are free and easy to install on your blogs — in fact, 54 percent of the 10,000 largest websites now display social sharing links and, according to a recent study, websites with a Twitter share button get 700% more sharing than their social media unfriendly counterparts.

Not into the buttons or want to draw even more attention? Don’t be shy — use call to actions to better interact with your readers and encourage them to share the post.

7. Have your own voice

You remember in #4 when we talked about writing more in the way you speak? This is your voice — use it.

Your voice is your personality — and it’s what sells your blog and makes it unique. Don’t try to be someone you’re not and never be too shy to show your personality. Your blog is your own — you’re allowed (and supposed to) share your opinions and even stand up to criticism. It’s your opinion… that’s the beauty of it!

In truth, controversial posts often get more links and attention on social media… that isn’t to say that you should write with the intention of picking fights — just don’t be afraid to be yourself, opinions, personality, and all.

8. Ask for what you want

Ever read something and end up thinking something to the extent of, “and….?” Don’t write an “and…?” piece.

Make sure that every blog post has a specific point and a specific objective. That objective might be to gain social media shares, email sign-ups, or traffic to another page — the objective can change, so long as each post has one. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want — directness is good and clearly communicates to your readers. A solid call to action will accomplish this beautifully — let your readers know exactly what you want them to do.

Not sure what will work?

Do some A/B testing to determine which approach works best with your readers.

Now over to you!

These are my tips above to keep your blog post on the “great” list.

There are lots of things that separate a great blog and great posts from the rest. Do you agree with the points I mentioned in this article? What’s in your must have factors for a great blogpost? I look forward to your input in the comment section.

Jerry Low is a geek dad who enjoys building web assets. You can get his best blogging and growth hacking advice here.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

How to Get Read: 8 Ways to Take your Blog From Existence to Greatness


@ProBlogger

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How to Promote Your Blog Without Letting The Rest of Your Blogging Slide

Recently I shared the stories of how my two blogs grew. One (ProBlogger) had a ‘tipping point’ early on which grew traffic almost overnight and the other (Digital Photography School) had slow but steady growth over several years with no real tipping point.

There were some great comments on that post including this one from Steve:

I have seen a recent increase in traffic, but it didn’t happen by accident. I spent a good deal of time promoting my blog in various ways. I suspect your increases resulted from similar efforts.

I ran an experiment to see what would happen if I made a concerted effort to promote my blog. My readership increased, which is extremely gratifying. But it came at a cost. My marketing diverted time away from producing high quality content.

I want a lot of readers, and I want them to see my best work. I have yet to figure out how to do the marketing and still have enough time to produce my best content. Do you have any thoughts on this?

I wanted to publish Steve’s comment for a few reasons.

Firstly – I think a lot of us could learn from Steve’s observation that growing traffic to a site almost always is the result of time and effort spent intentionally trying to grow your blog.

I don’t know how Steve went about growing his traffic but there are a couple of ways I’ve seen bloggers work hard at doing it:

1. prolific networking – we’ve all seen bloggers do this. They are on every Twitter chat, commenting on many blogs, attending meetups and events, participating in forums and Facebook groups, emailing other bloggers and generally putting themselves out there many times every single day. The result is that they seem to be everywhere and are on the radar of everyone.

This approach takes MASSIVE effort!

2. guest posting – I can think of numerous bloggers (I’ll share one example later in this post) who have used strategic guest posting to grow their profile and traffic. Those who do it best write amazingly helpful content and usually appear on multiple blogs. They usually also pay a heap of attention to the comments sections on those guest posts (answering every single comment left) and social media.

Another approach that probably fits into this guest posting approach are those who put themselves out there constantly to be interviewed or to interview others. Also in this category are those who put themselves out there in speaking at events.

This approach takes a MASSIVE effort!

But it Doesn’t Stop There

The above two strategies are not the only two that can be used to grow traffic to a blog (and they are not mutually exclusive – many do both) but I think you’ll agree that they illustrate this idea that growing traffic is not a passive thing – it takes significant work.

But it doesn’t stop there… and this is the second reason I love Steve’s comment.

To grow a successful and well read blog takes a lot more than just putting yourself out there to promote your blog prolifically.

As Steve observes – it also takes time to create high quality content for your own blog.

This is where the juggle begins because as we all know, creating great content for your blog on a regular basis takes a MASSIVE effort!

Of course the work doesn’t stop at the creation of content, there’s also serving those readers who come as a result of your promotion who are reading that content.

Many of the most successful bloggers that I’ve seen rise to prominence over the past few years also have an incredible focus upon building community with and serving the readers that they currently have.

They respond to comments on blog posts, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, email etc.

This takes a MASSIVE effort!

Throw into the mix the challenge of monetising your blog, the technical challenges keeping a blog up and running can throw at you, paying attention to your blog design and the challenges of having a family, ‘real’ job, social life and staying healthy and you can see why many bloggers feel quite overwhelmed and disillusioned with blogging!

“Do you have any thoughts on this?”

Steve finished his comment with a question… one that many of us ask. What’s the answer to this massive tension that we all face?

To grow our blog’s traffic takes us away from creating content. To focus upon one thing means a ‘cost’ in another area.

I don’t have THE answer to this question but as I responded to Steve’s comment a couple of thoughts came to mind.

Firstly – Pay Attention to the Tension

It is very easy to get out of balance. Over the years I see bloggers often falling into one of two camps.

1. Focus Upon Content at the Expense of Promotion

This sometimes comes as a result of feeling too shy to put yourself out there but can also be the result of a ‘build it and they will come’ mindset and a belief that great content will attract readers.

This is a half truth.

Great content does help to attract and retain readers – but it’s a lot easier to do that if you’re ‘out there’ promoting that content in some way. This is especially true when you’re just starting out.

As your blog gets older and you do have an established readership you’ll find that they do share great content for you – but in the early days it’s you that needs to do that work!

2. Focus Upon Promotion at the Expense of Content

I’ve seen a number of bloggers lately who are ‘everywhere’ and doing an amazing job of networking, growing their profile and just generally being a fantastic contribution to their niche on social media.

The problem for them is that they do this at the expense of building their own blog. There comes a time where if you want to build a business around your blog that you need to get people engaged in what you do on your blog.

If you’re not paying attention to creating great content there and engaging the readers who come – much of your promotional effort will be wasted.

Pay attention to the tension – spot when you’re getting out of balance and adjust your approach as you do. It’s really important!

Secondly – Try a Promotional Burst Approach

It strikes me that some of the bloggers that come to mind who used guest posting to grow their blogs a few years back didn’t use the strategy indefinitely.

One of the bloggers who I marvelled at with regards to how he built his audience was Leo Babauta from Zen Habits.

Leo seemed to burst onto the blogging scene – seemingly from nowhere – back in 2006-2007. I don’t remember the first time that I came across him but I’m pretty sure it would have been in a guest post on someone else’s blog because Leo was prolific as a guest poster.

Leo would have these bursts of guest posting over a few weeks. It was almost as if every day over these weeks he’d be on a different blog (including here on ProBlogger). The result of the accumulation of all these posts must have been great traffic back to his blog.

The thing was that these bursts seemed to have quite inentional starts and ends to them. He’d be published everywhere (including publishing posts on his own blog) for a few weeks and then he’d pull right back and just focus upon his own blog.

I remember emailing him at one stage when I was going on holiday to see if he’d be interested in writing something for ProBlogger and he said no because he was just focusing upon writing for his own blog at that time. A few months later he was open to writing a guest post again.

I’ve never talked to Leo about this strategy but it strikes me that he must have worked really hard for a month or two before his burst of guest posting to either produce all those guest posts or have a backlog of posts to publish on his own blog and then he must have switched into ‘promotion mode’ and let it all loose.

The key though was that it was for a defined period before he got back to serving the readers he’d attracted.

I saw him do these bursts of promotion several times over a couple of years in which he built himself an amazing audience and real momentum. At this point he didn’t need to guest post so much (if at all) but his established audience began to promote him through word of mouth.

My Final Advice for Steve

There are a couple of things that I think we as bloggers always need to pay attention to – these being publishing regular high quality content on our blogs and looking after the readers we already have (community).

These activities are like a baseline. Take the focus off these at any point and your blog is likely to suffer fairly quickly.

Promoting a blog is something you should also have some baseline activities and rhythm around. For example sharing new content to social media (whether through automation or manually doing it) is good practice.

However I do think there are times where it’s probably well worth having a burst of concerted promotional effort to grow your blog.

Whether it be through guest posting, reaching out to mainstream media, attending/speaking at events or even paying for advertising – a burst of intentional promotional activity for a defined period can have some real benefits.

Giving it a ‘burst’ means that you’re able to plan for it and hopefully the baseline activities don’t suffer too much. Also by giving it a burst you can potentially get that ‘she’s everywhere’ effect that gets on people’s radar.

What’s Your Advice to Steve?

I’d LOVE to hear your advice for Steve on how to keep this balance between promotional activity and paying attention to the rest of your blogging right.

Over to you!

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

How to Promote Your Blog Without Letting The Rest of Your Blogging Slide


@ProBlogger

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Is it Time to Burn Feedburner? There are Alternatives

This is a guest contribution from Steve Williams of feedburner-alternatives.com

To build up a readership it’s crucial to offer your visitors to subscribe to your blog, so they get updated every time you publish a new post. The two most important channels are email and RSS. Social media, despite the hype, is only second priority in terms of effectiveness.

Several services exist which help you to offer easy RSS & Email subscription options, ranging from RSS subscription facilitators (turning your RSS feed into a nice-to-look-at subscription screen which anyone can understand), RSS2Email as well as classic Email marketing services.

Feedburner: The top dog in decline

The – by far – most popular choice in the blogging community is (still) Feedburner. Feedburner offers solutions for both RSS and Email. And the best of it: it’s 100% free.

However, since Google bought Feedburner in 2007, it never got further developed. Several features got shut down, such as the monetization tool Adsense for feeds as well as the Feedburner API.

And it’s getting worse: more and more bloggers notice that Feedburner’s email delivery is not working reliably anymore. And as there has been no Google support to solve the issue many bloggers have given up on Feedburner.

However: which alternative services could take Feedburner’s spot?

The Feedburner alternatives

The essence of our research: there’s not one solution for all. It all depends on what your needs are.

Switching from FeedBurner Decision Tree Infographic

Credit to feedburner-alternatives.com

Feedburner is not working anymore, and it’s time to do the switch.

If you used Feedburner to handle your RSS feeds, Feedblitz (inexpensive) and Feedpress (slightly more expensive, but more features) are the way to go.

If you also used Feedburner to update your readers by email, then Feedblitz is the first choice which offers the most advanced solutions for both RSS and email (however, they charge quite a bit).

If you want to spice up your email newsletter a bit more, it may be worth to switch to the services which focus on those, i.e. either Mailchimp or Aweber. For the RSS-part you can then use Feedblitz or Feedpress.

Are you already using one of those alternatives? Let us know in the comments!

Steve Williams initiated www.feedburner-alternatives.com, reacting to the increasing frustration with Feedburner and the time-consuming process to find an alternative. Contact him on his page with suggestions on how to further improve the overview.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Is it Time to Burn Feedburner? There are Alternatives


@ProBlogger

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Is it Time to Burn Feedburner? There are Alternatives

This is a guest contribution from Steve Williams of feedburner-alternatives.com

To build up a readership it’s crucial to offer your visitors to subscribe to your blog, so they get updated every time you publish a new post. The two most important channels are email and RSS. Social media, despite the hype, is only second priority in terms of effectiveness.

Several services exist which help you to offer easy RSS & Email subscription options, ranging from RSS subscription facilitators (turning your RSS feed into a nice-to-look-at subscription screen which anyone can understand), RSS2Email as well as classic Email marketing services.

Feedburner: The top dog in decline

The – by far – most popular choice in the blogging community is (still) Feedburner. Feedburner offers solutions for both RSS and Email. And the best of it: it’s 100% free.

However, since Google bought Feedburner in 2007, it never got further developed. Several features got shut down, such as the monetization tool Adsense for feeds as well as the Feedburner API.

And it’s getting worse: more and more bloggers notice that Feedburner’s email delivery is not working reliably anymore. And as there has been no Google support to solve the issue many bloggers have given up on Feedburner.

However: which alternative services could take Feedburner’s spot?

The Feedburner alternatives

The essence of our research: there’s not one solution for all. It all depends on what your needs are.

Switching from FeedBurner Decision Tree Infographic

Credit to feedburner-alternatives.com

Feedburner is not working anymore, and it’s time to do the switch.

If you used Feedburner to handle your RSS feeds, Feedblitz (inexpensive) and Feedpress (slightly more expensive, but more features) are the way to go.

If you also used Feedburner to update your readers by email, then Feedblitz is the first choice which offers the most advanced solutions for both RSS and email (however, they charge quite a bit).

If you want to spice up your email newsletter a bit more, it may be worth to switch to the services which focus on those, i.e. either Mailchimp or Aweber. For the RSS-part you can then use Feedblitz or Feedpress.

Are you already using one of those alternatives? Let us know in the comments!

Steve Williams initiated www.feedburner-alternatives.com, reacting to the increasing frustration with Feedburner and the time-consuming process to find an alternative. Contact him on his page with suggestions on how to further improve the overview.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Is it Time to Burn Feedburner? There are Alternatives


@ProBlogger

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Blogging Dead? How Blogs are changing and How You Can Stay on Top

Image via Flickr user Spondle.

Image via Flickr user Spondle.

This is a guest contribution from author and freelance writer Steff Green.

Like that sparkly rhinestone jacket you purchased last year but suddenly realise is actually kind of hideous, blogging trends change with the seasons. What was once the mark of a high-quality blog now screams of incompetence. Readers are fickle and changing, apt to desert you at a moments notice when something new and shiny and rhinestone-encrusted comes along.

But could blogging actually be dying?

Many sources confirm that it is. The Guardian points to statistics showing the amount of blogs started by teens has halved since 2006, and massively declined among millennial. Jason Kottke, writer of one of the longest-running blogs on the web, states that the blog’s demise came about because the fundamental purpose of blogging was no being fulfilled with other media. In her Atlantic piece titled 2013: The Year “The Stream” Crested, Alexis C. Madrigal discusses the idea that content online is now organised by preference and importance, rather than chronology, rendering the format of the blog obsolete.

“Today, teens are about as likely to start a blog (over instagramming or snapchatting) as they are to buy a music CD. Blogs are for 40-somethings with kids.” – Jason Kottke.

With social media platforms becoming the online communication too du jour, and with smartphones and other devices becoming for many the preferred platform, blogs have fallen to the wayside in favour of shorter, punchier messages specifically tailored to hit a reader’s buttons.

So what does this mean for you, the blogger? Are you scared? I’m not. And here’s why. I know that whatever changes come about, there are always people out there who need to know things, or need to be entertained. I know things, and I’m mildly amusing, so as long as I’m creating content, it will find an audience, even if that audience – and the way they find and digest that information – may change.

Here are some changes I’ve noticed, and some ideas for how you can stave off your blog’s untimely death:

People are less interested in following blogs

I’ve found that subscriber numbers are way down on all the blogs I manage. The use of feeds has diminished since Google Reader was laid to rest, and I think when Gmail and other clients started filtering promotional material away from the “Primary Inbox”, blog updates via email became less important.

With dwindling subscriber lists, what do you do to keep your readership intact?

What you can do about it:

  • Just because people aren’t subscribing, doesn’t mean they aren’t reading. People are more likely to follow your blog on social media – clicking through to your links when you post them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
  • Take advantage of this swing towards social media use by ramping up for social presence. One thing I like to do is post an article link a couple of times over the week, to increase the chances of people seeing it. I also frequently post links to older articles from my archives.
  • Look at new ways to boost subscriber rates by offering something different. Many bloggers are transitioning into “media hubs” – a place where many different stories and opinions and ideas and media are collected and disseminated. Offer content that can be shared on social media with ease and keep people coming back by giving them a whole lot more of what they want.
  • Rebrand your blog so it’s not a “blog”. Instead of a blog tab in your navigation bar, call it “Steff’s Thoughts” or “Helpful Tips” or “Articles” – recreate yourself, move away from the title of “blogger” and start thinking of your website as a media business.

Guest Blogging Isn’t As Valuable As it once Was

I’ve been finding my recent guest blogging aren’t yielding the results I’ve come to expect. Whereas a post written for a A-grade blog in 2012 might generate 300 hits to my site, these days it might only generate 30.

People are paying less and less attention to the bio links in posts, and Google is, too. Host blogs, hounded constantly by advertisers looking for low-cost linkbacks, have tightened their submission guidelines to the point that getting in is almost as strenuous as a job application at Google.

Yet, despite the changes in the guest-blogging space, many bloggers are still citing this technique as one of the core methods of building a following. So, what do you do to improve your guest blogging results?

What you can do about it:

  • Don’t write off guest-blogging altogether – it still has its place. You just have to be more strategic about it.
  • Instead of randomly choosing 20 sites to target for guest blogs, focus on building ongoing relationships with 1-3 popular sites. Become a regular contributor. Allow that audience to get to know you through regular posts. This is how you get them to start following you.
  • Choose topics that require specific examples from your own sites and businesses. This way you can talk about your personal experience and, as you describe yourself as a case studies, readers are more likely to be interested in your work and click through.
  • Pull together resources with other bloggers to create awesome products like free webinars or documents. “Free” is still a great way to attract new readers to the top of your funnel. For example, the team at First Site Guide created this incredible Start a Blog guide with advice from some of the best bloggers in the business. It was a real team effort and has provided a free resource that I personally find incredibly useful.

People Interact on Social Media, Not Your Sites

So how many blog comments do you get, huh? Is it anything like the number you had four years ago? I doubt it very much. Practically every blogger I’ve talked to has said comments are on the decline. Why? Two words: social media.

Readers are not only using social media to find your content, they are also using their favourite platforms to interact with it, and you. A reader is more likely to share your post on Facebook and leave a comment there than write something on the blog itself.

If your readers are flocking to social media to discuss your posts, what can you do to steer them back to your site?

What You Can Do About It?

  • First of all, I think you should let your readers take the lead with how and where they want to discuss your posts. If discussion is moving on to social media, than I say, “embrace it!”
  • Delete the comment function of your blog altogether, or at least hide the number of comments on a post, so readers aren’t always seeing a big “0 comments” after the post title.
  • Focus on building and engaging with your audience on one or two of your favourite social media platforms. Discuss topics, ask questions, post interesting links and get them to talk with you throughout the day, not just when you post an article. Don’t try to be everywhere at once, but use the platforms you enjoy to build your audience.
  • At the end of your blog posts, invite readers to share and discuss your content on Facebook.
  • Post content on your social media you don’t post on your blog. I like to share funny links and music videos throughout the day on my Facebook page.

Monetization of Sites

Readers have started to get smart to the methods of blog advertising – they might avoid affiliate links, scoff at “sponsored content” and glance over your sidebar ads without a single click. Google is punishing the selling of text links and other types of sponsored content. It seems that selling advertising is no longer a way to create a viable income stream.

And it’s not just advertising. With the advent of the kindle and readers coming to expect ebooks for $ 2.99, revenue from ebook sales on blogs have dwindled.

Or is it? Here’s what you can do to jump-start monetization on your blog:

What can you do about it?

  • Bloggers are getting truly entrepreneurial and thinking about monetization from outside of the context of their blogs. For example, Elsie and Emma from A Beautiful Mess – a simple DIY blog – created an app allowing users to add doodles and words on top of their images. The app became one of the most popular.
  • Other bloggers are stepping out from behind the keyboard and building branded content in a live setting. The three bloggers behind The Blogcademy, for example, are running live workshops all around the world.
  • Chunky advertorial posts just won’t cut the mustard any more. Blog readers want something more authentic. Brands are still working with bloggers but many are looking for sophisticated content partnerships.
  • Other writers are using their blog as a platform to launch creative projects that might not necessarily have much to do with the topic of their site. For example, I am writing and publishing dark fantasy fiction, and my site is a music website, but I’m using it as my platform as many music fans also enjoy dark fantasy.

I’ve been blogging since 2008, and I’ve seen many different trends rise and fall. It can be hard when something we’ve come to rely on no longer works, but I think it’s important to see every setback as an opportunity in disguise – allowing us as bloggers to shift focus, re-evaluate, change things up and take risks.

Steff Green is a writer, blogger and heavy metal maiden living off-grid in rural New Zealand with her cantankerous drummer husband, a menagerie of animals and their medieval sword collection. Check out her dark fantasy novel, The Sunken, or subscribe to her blog for updates and free books.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Is Blogging Dead? How Blogs are changing and How You Can Stay on Top


@ProBlogger

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment