Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately?

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

I don’t know about you but I’ve got my game face on. Plenty here to see you through this next week – I particularly enjoyed the Moz Whiteboard Friday about blog post SEO and the post on Facebook reach. Enjoy!

5 Stress-Free Tips for Pricing Your Services | Copyblogger

“Why does pricing our services provoke such fear and dread?”, they ask. I don’t know, but it does! I think once you get a price you can settle into the decision, but when you are still struggling to decide it can be an incredibly difficult decision.

Facebook Reach: Everything You Need to Know | Edgar

Because that algorithm is still so, so confusing. And appears to change at the drop of a hat! I’m also hearing a LOT about paying to boost posts that are already doing well organically – even a couple of dollars can make a difference.

SEO For Bloggers: How to Nail the Optimization Process for Your Posts | Moz

From the king of SEO himself, Rand Fishkin, to your blogging ears. Don’t go past this advice!

The Science Behind Design: 8 Psychology Principles to Apply to Your Next Project | Hubspot

Can’t argue with science! These tips make a lot of sense – are you looking at your blog like a reader would?

8 Social Media Lessons We Can Learn From the Pros (With Templates!) | Canva Design School

Templates! Awesome. As someone with zero graphic design skills, I need them!

On a Social Network that is Increasingly Anti-Social, Facebook Groups May Be our Only Hope | The Daily Dot

This gave me a lot to think about – we are often told to start a Facebook group for our blogs as a way of still connecting with your readers in amongst the Facebook reach saga. Is this where people go for connection now?

Taking Notes Vs Taking Belief | Seth’s Blog

If you’ve been “studying” or reading up on awesome blogging practices to avoid actually practising the practices, then this one is for you. Spend more time being creative.

Key Takeaways from the Google AMA: RankBrain, Panda, Penguin, Bots & More | Search Engine Land

Google held an SMX Advanced Talk and Barry Schwartz has distilled everything you need to know. *Googles AMP*

How to Promote Your Blog and Make it Viral | Social Media Today

Some harsh truths in here! But also some good advice. It’s getting harder to cut through the noise these days.

11 Methods that Will Make Your Content Marketing Campaign Go Viral | Quicksprout

And if that doesn’t work, try Neil’s tips – they start with planning, like all good ideas do.

Have fun out there this week!

The post Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately? appeared first on ProBlogger.


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ProBlogger Event Speakers Share Their Experience

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By Grove Galligan.

At this year’s 7th Annual ProBlogger Event, hundreds of bloggers will come together to network with each other and learn from over 30 speakers and subject matter experts.

What separates those attending from those presenting is…. not much.

Bloggers are speaking, and most of the speakers blog. The people up on stage have faced similar challenges to those listening to them and this makes their stories relatable.

Our speakers package up their experience and expertise for the benefit of those in the audience. Our attendees come away inspired and motivated by the actionable insights from people just like them.

When we asked this year’s line-up of PBEVENT speakers what was their biggest challenge in their online endeavours we also asked for their top tip to deal with it. We received some interesting responses with a few common themes, some you may recognise yourself.

Time Management

 

The only way I ensure I have time to do my blog and book writing is to schedule it into my calendar and make it non-negotiable.

If you only ever write ‘when inspiration strikes’ or ‘when you have time’ – it will never get done. I also remind myself frequently that ‘just because it works, that doesn’t mean you have to do it’.

There are so many things we could be doing to make our online endeavours more successful, and we can’t do them all. A few things done really, really well will always be more impactful than doing many things ‘ok’.

With three small kids I’ve become a ninja at nap time. Writing a to-do list the night before is the best way to make sure things keep moving forward.

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Focus

For me, it’s staying focused.

I’m awful for being easily distracted, having too many ideas and not being sure what to concentrate on. In recent years, though, I’ve really accelerated my progress by doing just three things.

First, I do a big planning exercise at the start of the year, setting out goals for the year. I split the business challenges into categories, eg. Sales Funnel and Product Development. Then I set my long term yearly goals within those categories.

Next, I make a plan for the coming month – a set of tasks that move me towards those goals.

Finally, each week I break them down and set out my goals for the week, and I post them in my accountability group in slack. Those are things that can be achieved in half a day.

So, when I come in in the morning, I just look at my weekly accountability list, and I know exactly what I have to do. It keeps me on track and it’s the main reason I’ve grown the business more in the last year than in the 5 years before that!

The online space – while wonderful in many ways – can also be a massive echo chamber, and I’ve often found myself comparing what we’re doing in our business to what others are doing in theirs.

It’s not so much about external signs of ‘success’ but rather the constant question of whether I should be trying this new platform or that new promotional tool, buying this online course or that best-selling book.

It can become very overwhelming very quickly to keep chasing every new and shiny opportunity that comes our way, so I give myself time and space before making any decisions.



Having a clear picture of our goals is important, because it turns out that the vast majority of these “opportunities” are simply prettily packaged detours that take us further away from our destination. Understanding this is probably one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learnt over the past few years of working online.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with any of these offerings, but realising they’re not right for us right now is really liberating, because I can say no with complete confidence and, bonus: FOMO isn’t a thing I have to worry about anymore.

Trying to take in too much information from too many sources and ending up doing way too much learning and not enough action taking.

My top tip has been to unsubscribe from most of the newsletters I was getting into my inbox and sticking with 2 or 3 trusted sources.

Being online the distractions are endless.

It is easy to justify the time we spend on social media, reading blogs etc as “work”. To keep focused I set boundaries and set myself up for success by removing as many distractions as possible so I stay focused on the task at hand.

Don’t try and do everything all at once. Do one thing at a time and make sure it works, then move on to the next thing. Otherwise you simply end up with a catalogue of partially completed bits.

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Prioritisation

Scaling and prioritization are my biggest challenges with managing my personal brand content, social engagement, as well as business goals and being a Dad to three girls.  

I’ve always believe that identifying what I don’t know and then sharing that within my digital story allows me to surround myself with those who know what I don’t and learn from them while also together become a better team as a whole.  

I’ve also worked hard on celebrating small wins along the way while focusing on long term goals and strategies allowing me to prioritize what needs done by when it’s due and it’s impact on my long term goals.

My biggest challenges at the moment are taking on too much at once, and not blocking out the less important things to focus on the things that matter.

One of the reasons for that is that it’s hard to say no to opportunities that are in front of you today when you don’t know what’s going to land in your pipeline months down the line.

Over-commitment leads to fatigue and burn-out, and when you’re feeling exhausted it’s easy to fall back on the easy things that make you feel busy but aren’t moving you forward in your business.

Recognising your limits and keeping yourself in a healthy work-life balance is important. I won’t claim to be nailing that balance perfectly, but I’m getting there.

Hard Work (The Magic Formula)

Probably figuring out how to build a business around the content I create. The way I solved it was creating shitloads of content and starting shitloads of businesses until something stuck.

Getting attention in a noisy world. Top tip for dealing with it, is to work ridiculously hard to make all the content you put out the best out there.

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Making Money

My biggest challenge was working out the best way to make my blog profitable – and then sticking with the approach that I chose to take.

There are so many different ideas out there that it is easy to keep switching tactics and to not give any one approach enough time and energy to see if it will actually work.

My top tip for dealing with that is to have patience. Educate yourself, decide on a strategy and then stick with it until you have given it enough time to know whether it has worked or not.

Like any small business, offline or online, the biggest challenge is creating and sustaining a consistent cash flow. And like any small business, this is better achieved by creating multiple income streams.

So my top tip is that as you build your community, continue to create new income streams for your online platform – don’t rely on just one avenue for making money.

We also asked our speakers to cut to the chase and tell us what would be at the top of their ‘to-do’ list if they were just starting out today in the online world.

Build Community

Focus on building a community of people who rally behind a common passion or purpose that aligns with your business goals and personal passions.  

Doing this allows you focus on the people and the mission more so than vanity metrics or silo’d networks.  Networks and platforms will come and go but if you build a community they’ll follow you where you go.

Build a community. Unique visitors are one thing, but people that read your blog, trust you and respect your opinion are much more than unique visitors. They will be your advocates and the ones that buy your products if you choose to sell them.

It takes time to build this and it is worth the investment.

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Network

Start building relationships with other content creators and influencers, probably in person.

Besides the planning and goals work that I described above, the top thing on my to-do list would be to get out there and start meeting people.

A huge factor in our growth since the start of 2015 has been the people I’ve met. I moved to a new city around that time, and so I had to make the effort to get out there and meet some new people. People who are supportive, creative and honest when I need it.

It’s easy, when you’re running a mostly online business, to hide behind your keyboard, and think that’s enough. But, the growth that I’ve experienced thanks to my network has been enormous, and it’s only going to get bigger over time.

Get out there, find events, talk to people, make friends, and you’ll grow as a result.

Find some like-minded people at a similar stage of business and form a mastermind group to support each other. The mastermind group I’ve been a part of for the past year has been invaluable.

Getting to know other bloggers. It doesn’t matter how great your blog is, if you’re not an active part of the wider blogging community it’s going to be very hard for your blog to grow and for you to reach the people your words can help.

Test The Market

Find out what people want and see if they will buy it.

Start a Facebook page and invest some money to get your idea out there to test the waters.  

If you can’t get your specific audience interested on Facebook through targeted promotions, then I would find a new idea.

Ship a product.

So many things go into shipping a product that help your business as a whole. Product creation means tapping into audience needs, focussing on a high level of quality and value, and growing a fan-base that trusts you enough to pay for what you’re offering.

All of those things make you a better blogger.

Credit: Mick Russell

Credit: Mick Russell

Content

The top of my to-do list would be the same as it was when I realised that blogging was a thing and I changed the way I wrote my blog posts. Content is EVERYTHING.

Your voice, the way you write your content, the way you reach out and connect with your community – even if it’s small – that is the number one thing you need to focus on.

This applies at the beginning and every day on your blogging and online journey. Nail the community factor and you’ll have an engaged audience which will want to buy-in to anything that you might be selling – your own products or someone else’s.

If I was starting out today I would be incorporating more video.

Video has been the fastest way that I’ve grown my business and now with the addition of FB live – I’d be going crazy on it!

Be Yourself

Be yourself.

Don’t spend valuable time trying to be someone else, or even a version of yourself that you think others will like.

Instead, spend that time practicing how to write as yourself. So really – be yourself, and practice in public.

So there you have it. A small taste of the wisdom you can expect to be shared at ProBlogger Event 2016 in September on the Gold Coast.

If you haven’t bought your PBEVENT ticket yet, get in before July 1 and save $ 100 before the full rate kicks in. 

We hope to see you there!

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PB126: How to Create a Blogging Will (and Why You Should)

Creating a Blogging Will

Today, I want to talk about something that may come across as a little morbid or depressing, but something that I think is important – particularly for those of us who do generate a living from our blogs (or at least a decent part time income). 

It’s all about how to prepare a ‘blogging will’.

Note: this episode is now live in iTunes if you’d prefer to listen to it there.

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Have you ever wondered what happens to your blog if you were to pass away?

Over the years, I’ve known a number of bloggers who have sadly passed. Many of them, I only knew online and didn’t know their families. While reflecting on their lives, I often wondered how their families dealt with the bloggers online affairs after they were gone.

Every time I thought about this, I also wondered what would happen to my own blogs and business if I were to pass away.

Ever since 2006, I’ve had a ‘blogging will’ to help my family work out what to do if that were to happen.

As a solo entrepreneur, I realized that much of what was needed to run this business was locked up in my head—a dangerous thing if something happened to that head!

I remember waking up in a bit of a panic one night wondering what would happen if Vanessa didn’t know how to access my blog or understand how I’d set things up business wise.

I got up and created a little document for her to use in such circumstances.

In Today’s Episode What Does My Blogging Will Contain?

  • People
      • Names and contact emails of people I trust and work with
      • 15 people who I have different working relationships and friendships with who could help with different aspects of my business from:
        • Server setup
        • Income streams
        • Business partners
        • Team members
        • And more
      • I include a brief description of who they are, where they live, and what they can do to help
      • With the right people around my business could be sustained at least to a point where parts could be sold
  • Business overview
      • General business structure and overview of blogs, eBooks, courses, sister sites, job boards, teams, and income streams.
      • Advice
        • In the will are a few paragraphs of advice about what I’d do if I was in the situation of having to run the business without much prior knowledge of it.
        • I explain what I’d try to sell, who I’d try to convince to run things, what products I’d release, and so on.
        • While none of it is legally binding, I want to leave my family in the best position to be able to sustain themselves in the long term if something were to happen to me.
  • Passwords, login details, access codes
    • Many parts of my business are reliant upon third parties, and anyone wanting to keep things running would need to access those services.
    • For example, they’d need my PayPal account login details, affiliate program logins and ad network access details, domain name registration access, servers, bank accounts, email accounts, social media access and of course passwords to the blogs themselves.
    • I guess ultimately email access is key as so many of the others can be accessed with being able to reset passwords and send them to that.
    • Without these, it would be almost impossible to keep things running profitably.
    • While I don’t include the passwords in the document (security reasons) I give information on how she can access them!

How did you go with today’s episode?

Do you have a Blogging Will, or any other kind of plan in place for your blog in the case of your passing?

Enjoy this podcast? Sign up to our ProBloggerPLUS newsletter to get notified of all new tutorials and podcasts below.

 

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You can use the following widget to ask a question. Please include your name and blog name (if you have a blog).

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Why Boosting Facebook Posts Is Not So Bad After All

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By ProBlogger SME Samantha Jockel.

When I think back over the past six years I have been using Facebook as a business tool, there have been moments of exhilaration and despair.

In the early days, we experienced incredible growth on some of our Facebook pages – growing thousands of people overnight without a dollar spent. And then there was this word algorithm that started to pop up, which is when dread began to set in.

This fantastic platform that we had been using for years to gain an amazing audience for our business became less and less accessible as the days went by. Then Facebook ads came along and at that point I thought it was the beginning of the end.

I know in business it is best not to put all of your eggs in the one basket and we have tried very hard to build other ways of connecting with our audience outside of Facebook, however the more we look at the data the more we know Facebook is where our people engage.

I remember feeling anger at Facebook for quite some time. All of a sudden they had taken away our capacity to communicate to this amazing community we had built because they wanted our money.

I understood they were a business trying to make money as any business would, but I was still annoyed. After I got over myself and my rage I was faced with the option of trying to work out this new Facebook challenge that was sitting in front of me or give up. I am not one to give up!

Three of the pages I ran had rather large Facebook following: Suburbly (367,000), School Mum (328,000) and Aldi Mum (115,000).   This meant when I initially started looking at boosting posts, I was faced with options between $ 200-$ 1000 per post which was a huge amount of money for us for one post.

Despite all of the struggle around organic reach, our pages still performed quite well due to our audience being highly engaged.

We were lucky to have built such large numbers before reach was restricted so even though our average post did not reach anywhere near our total page likers, we still reached a significant amount of people.

Having said that of late we have noticed the Facebook algorithms getting smarter at picking up sponsored content and shout outs to sponsored posts on our blog.

Ultimately they want in on the action and from a business point of view I can understand that.

So the conundrum was that sponsored posts are the posts we want to do really well to continue to secure brands being interested in working with us, however their reach seemed to be impacted at times.

So here is what I have learnt playing with boosting posts on Facebook over the past year.

1. Audiences

Firstly, we have learnt that different audiences cost different amounts to boost to.

Due to running a number of different Facebook pages with different demographics, we have learnt that depending on who you are targeting will change the cost significantly.

On one of our pages we can spend $ 100 and reach up to 30,000 people and on the other we could pay $ 100 and be lucky to reach 2000. Initially we thought there was a glitch with the page and e-mailed Facebook on a number of occasions about it but every time they told us this particular audience was more sought after so they were more expensive to reach.

2. Popularity

How much it costs to boost depends on how popular the post is.

We have noticed that when we boost a popular post, our dollars go much further than when we boost a post that is not performing as well.

Again, this is logical, however it is good to know that you will get much better value for money boosting posts if your people are engaging the content.

3. Money Well Spent

Boosting a post can be cheaper than paying for your time or another writer’s time to produce more content for traffic.

Content, content and more content is the story of our life.

For us, we have traffic targets for our weekly content on the blog that we need to hit to maintain consistent website traffic.

Creating this content either costs us in our time or we may pay a contributor to produce some content for us. Sometimes I swear a piece of content is going to go gangbusters and then for some reason it doesn’t get Facebook reach. My intuition tells me that if we can just get it out there off it will go.

In these moments I do the math and realise that boosting a post is cheaper to bring website traffic than spending my time writing more content or paying for another contributor to write an article. So we boost and 9 times out of 10 we are right.

Sometimes I will boost a post that has performed really well already because I know the boost will perform and the traffic from that is genuine and so much cheaper than the time it would take me to write another piece of content.

4. Taking time off

Boosting is great when you want to have a holiday.

Realising this was the moment that I fell in love with boosting posts.

When you live your life on the content creation train it feels like there is never time for a break. Social media and website content is 24/7.

One of the magical things about boosting is if you want to take a holiday and keep up the traffic to your website then you can by posting a few of your best performing posts from last year and boosting them.

Sure it will cost you some money but it will be less than paying for content and you can take a well-deserved break knowing that the traffic is still coming in.

5. Sponsored Post Success

You can be confident that you can get traffic to your sponsored posts.

Knowing that I can boost our sponsored posts for clients gives me the confidence that we can guarantee value for the brands that we work with as we can guarantee the hits.

No more fingers crossed that Facebook will give us reach for that post as we know we can always boost it and we generally never create content we know our audience won’t be interested so the challenge is just getting it in front of them so they can engage it.

As you can see I have done a full 180 in terms of my attitude towards boosting posts and feel like it is not so bad after all as it gives us the confidence to know that we can get our content in front of people, we just might have to budget that in.

Sam Jockel founded ALDI Mum in 2011 and cofounded School Mum, Suburbly and The Holidaying Family in the years to follow with a total Facebook community of over 800,000 followers. She spends half of her life looking at analytics to help inform the next step.

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PB125: How to Handle Critical and Attacking Comments from Blog Readers

Handling Critical Comments and Attacks from Blog Readers

In my recent podcast on the characteristics of successful blogging, I touched on the topic a couple of times of putting yourself out there for public comment and critique.

I suggested that having a bit of a thick skin might be useful because from time to time you’ll definitely get ‘feedback’ that may not be as a encouraging, helpful or constructive as it could be – and which at times may even enter into the territory of it being aggressive, attacking and personal.

ProBlogger_125

While I’ve only experienced this a handful of times in over 10 years the times that it has happened to me have rocked my world a little.

So how should a blogger deal with criticism of their blogging? That’s what this episode is all about!

In Today’s Episode How to Handle Critical and Attacking Comments from Blog Readers

Note: This episode is now live in iTunes here.

  • Embrace it – When you’re critiqued there is potential for growth from the encounter. Feedback of any type is a sign that someone has noticed what you’re doing and reading your blog.
  • Consider the critique – When I get a negative comment, I try to step back and do a bit of analysis of what’s going on. Here are a few questions I consider:
    • Is the comment within the boundaries of what I think is acceptable for my blog?
    • Is there some truth in it? Are there some improvements you can make?
    • Is there a misunderstanding you can clarify?
    • Is this something I’ve heard before? Is there a common theme to the critiques?
    • Is this from someone who I have interacted before? Were they having a bad day or is this ongoing?
    • Was there anything positive? Is there common ground you can focus on?
    • Is this a troll or someone seeking attention?
    • Is the feedback anonymous? Is it a trouble maker or someone you know?
    • What is the intent of the critique?
    • Are there any signals that can give you context for the commenters situation? Sometimes looking at the links to their blog/social, previous comments or things said in the comment can give you an understanding of the agenda of the person.

A lot of this is about trying to get to the heart of what’s going on with the comment. For me a lot of it comes down to trying to understand the intent of the other person and trying to respond to that rather than just the words that they’ve chosen to use.

Sometimes behind the words that come across as a personal attack is something that you can take on board to learn from/improve what you do or the opportunity to help your reader and make a positive connection.

Of course it’s not always easy to do this.

You may need to give yourself a little time/distance (although you may need to act faster if things are blowing up). Step away from the computer!

You might also find it helpful to involve another person. Ask a friend, family member, another blogger for their take. Sometimes someone who is outside the situation can reveal something about the feedback that you’re not seeing.

Respond – With analysis and feedback, you are in a better position to respond. I have taken a few options to respond.

  • Responding to trolls
    • Delete it – I rarely delete negative comments but on occasion if a comment is left by someone who is obviously trolling and doing so in an offensive way I’ll delete it.
    • Ignore it – If the feedback comes on social media and its troll like I usually ignore it.
    • Overly polite kindness – Sometimes I take a kill them with kindness type response. I don’t tend to do this so much these days – it is a little passive aggressive but it can be effective at times.

If there’s even some hint that the person is coming from a non-troll place I will respond with these options:

  • Clarification – Maybe they misunderstood your point, clarify blog post
  • Take responsibility – If you’ve made an error, take responsibility
  • Debate – A robust discussion can benefit both sides
  • Agree to Disagree – If the comment is in a very closed manner, debate won’t work, be constructive but agree to disagree
  • Private responses – If they are intent on a non-constructive heated exchange, try to end it and offer a private conversation
    • Many times these invitations go ignored which to me signals some of the intent of the other person.
    • The times that the person does followup, I’m always willing to engage as they may have some genuine issue that they are looking for resolution around.
    • In most cases, we’re able to come to some resolution but there have been a couple of occasions where we still come to an impasse and you need to disengage.
  • Respond with Genuine Care –  Sometimes, you can tell from the comment/feedback that the other person is operating from pain/hurt. Sometimes emailing them simply to say that you noticed their comment and wanted to see if everything was ok can be the right response.
    • If I’ve had other positive interactions with the person in the past and their comment seems out of character
    • If their blog/social/comment shows that they’re going through something
    • Many times when I do this I find that the person is going through something personally. Many times, they apologise and the fact that you responded with genuine kindness/care strengthens the relationship.
  • Let the Community Respond – Sometimes the community notices and responds.

Lastly – there are many times where the person’s negativity says more about the other person and their situation than it says anything about you or what you’ve written.

“Thank you for your ‘gift’ – but I think you can keep it for yourself.”

Further Resources on How to Handle Critical and Attacking Comments from Blog Readers

How did you go with today’s episode?

I would love to hear your feedback on this particular issue. Please feel free to respond and let me know when you disagree. Let’s have a discussion on this topic.

Enjoy this podcast? Sign up to our ProBloggerPLUS newsletter to get notified of all new tutorials and podcasts below.

 

 

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I base many episodes of this podcast upon questions answered by ProBlogger Podcast listeners and Blog readers.

You can use the following widget to ask a question. Please include your name and blog name (if you have a blog).

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2x Your Blog Writing Productivity and Reduce Your Stress by Single-Tasking

2x your blog writing productivity and reduce your stress by single taskingBy ProBlogger Productivity Expert Nicole Avery.

As bloggers we spend much of our work time online as that is where our home base is, but a key drawback to being online is that there is so many distractions so close at hand.

Combine this with the fast pace of blogging where there are many things to check, update, write and read, you can easily feel overwhelmed.

In an effort to keep up many turn to multitasking. While sitting at our computer, we respond to the beeping of our phone letting us know someone has responded to our tweet, we move from our WordPress dashboard to our email inbox to take a quick look and see if anything urgent has popped in since we last checked – which was only about 15 minutes ago.

In reality we are not truly multitasking though, we are actually task switching at a frenetic pace.

Task switching comes with a hefty price tag. The American Psychological Association reported that cost could be has high as 40%:

“Although switch costs may be relatively small, sometimes just a few tenths of a second per switch, they can add up to large amounts when people switch repeatedly back and forth between tasks. Thus, multitasking may seem efficient on the surface but may actually take more time in the end and involve more error. Meyer has said that even brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40 percent of someone’s productive time.”

And not only does task switching take you longer to complete your tasks, but it causes you additional stress in the process:

“After only 20 minutes of interrupted performance people reported significantly higher stress, frustration, workload, effort, and pressure {source – The Cost of Interrupted Work: More Speed and Stress).”

So how can we better manage our online behaviour? Single tasking. Working on one task until it is completed and setting up your work environment so it is distraction free to allow you to achieve this.

Alexander Graham Bell

Next time you sit down to write a blog post, take these steps and watch your productivity double and your stress levels decrease:

1. Put your phone on airplane mode

You may not be ready to turn off notifications on your mobile phone entirely (though I can recommend it), so with the switch of one button, you can prevent your phone from interrupting you while you write your blog post.

You don’t need your phone when writing your post on the computer and you can return calls, messages etc once you have completed your task.

2. Close down email

When things get hard our brain automatically looks for a distraction like checking our emails.

Writing a blog post can be hard, finding the words to convey your message can take time and deep concentration. Don’t allow your brain an easy way out by having a quick fix and becoming distracted by checking email.

If you are going to need information from your inbox to help you write the post, copy and paste the contents into a text doc or in your WordPress post draft. Be prepared so you don’t have to open up your inbox through the writing process and reduce your productivity.

3. Stay in the one application

You may need to undertake research to put your blog post together. Separate the research task and the blog writing task from each other.

When putting together a list style posts, for example like “5 podcasts to help you grow your email list”, set yourself a time limit to research and gather the links you will need to write the post. Keep all the information in the one place so you will not have to switch from one application to another.

Likewise if your blog post will be using images, work on the images before or after you have written the post.

Taking a single task approach to writing keeps your focus or writing flow and minimises time lost from switching to and from applications.

Every time you switch to another application, your brain has to adjust to the new application, work out what it is doing, and then readjust when you go back.

4. Timer

If you have been used to task switching, single tasking can require some retraining of your brain.

It may have become very used to the instant gratification of responding to dings, bells and alerts. Deprived of this stimuli and being required to focus solely on one activity can be hard work for the brain.

To help work through this readjustment, use a timer and start with smaller blocks of time where you have to single task.

The Focus booster app can be a useful tool for this process. It works on the Pomodoro Technique, using a timer to break down work into intervals, 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. It can be easier to get started sometimes knowing that you only have to stick to the task for a short time period and then you can have a break.

Paul J. Meyer

5. Block yourself

Writing your blog post in your dashboard means you are just a click or two away from checking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. Sometimes we need to protect ourselves from ourselves! Install an app like Self Control for the Mac or Cold Turkey for Windows which allows you to list websites that you want to block yourself from for a set time period of time.

Even if you are tempted and click away from your dashboard, you won’t be able to access the site you were after, even if you turn your computer on and off!

6. Note down your distracting thoughts

While writing a blog post, it is common to come up with ideas for another or have breakthrough moments on other projects you are working on.

Instead of stopping writing your post to pursue that thought, simply write down on either pen or paper or at the bottom of the post, your thoughts and know you will come back to them once you have finished your writing.

The act of writing the other ideas down frees up the brain to focus solely on the writing of your post.

Taking time before you write your blog posts to set up your work environment so it is distraction-free is a worthwhile investment. This environment will allow you to single task your blog writing which will boost your productivity and decrease your stress.   

Have you noticed increased productivity through single tasking?

Nicole Avery is a Melbourne mum to five beautiful kids aged seven to 17. She is the master organiser behind the popular parenting blogPlanning With Kids and the author of a book by the same name, where she shares tips and tricks for organising the chaos of family life. She is slightly addicted to spreadsheets, tea, running and, of course, planning!

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Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately?

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

I have to say, my favourite link this week has got to be the first one – the interview with Rand Fishkin. I love a peek behind the curtain into how other people have been successful! So much this week to get your inspiration on – I hope you find something that resonates.

What it’s Really Like to Start an Ultra-Successful Company: Meet Moz’s Rand Fishkin | Copyblogger

I love this super-comprehensive post about Rand, and how he got to where he is. The long and winding road to overnight success!

How to Get Subscribers For Your Blog: 7 Fresh Ideas | HubSpot

Make the most of what you’ve got – wherever you’ve got it.

Facebook Marketing Tips for Any Budget | Edgar

Have I convinced you to spend money on Facebook yet? I hope so! Even if you don’t have much to spare you can still see great results.

7 Reasons You Should Redesign Your Small Business Website in WordPress | Entrepreneur.com

Speaking of convicing, I do hear a lot of chatter about different types of platforms to build a blog on, business or otherwise. I’m a huge fan of the customisable and flexible WordPress, and here are 7 more reasons why.

The Ultimate Guide to GIFs: How to Create Them, When to Use Them, and Why Every Marketer Needs Them | Buffer

I bloody love a GIF, they usually add an extra comedic aspect I really enjoy. Embrace the GIF!

photo-1432973321519-0deedadfa3a2

Skyscraper Content the Right Way: How to Truly Help Your Readers | Content Marketing Institute

So much to think about here – it’s not a tactic I use myself but I can see how it would work if you do it well.

10 Social Media Blunders that Cost a Millennial Their Job – Or Worse | Money

Oh these are cringeworthy, but may we all learn a lesson from them.

Zuckerberg: I am not a lizard | CNET

If you missed Mark’s Live Video Q&A you can catch up on all the highlights here – Jerry Seinfeld even makes an appearance and gets Zuck himself to talk about stuff he never thought he would publicly. It’s great.

5 Simply Awesome Email Automation Funnels to Build Today | Jeff Bullas

It’s alllll about the engagement, people!

Social Media ‘Outstrips TV’ as News Source for Young People | BBC

I don’t know if you’d call me a young person, but we watch about zero TV these days (except for Masterchef) and we definitely don’t get our news from there any more. I’m not surprised at this research, but what does that mean for people with online businesses? How can you be where the eyeballs are?

So do you pronounce it jif or gif? Are you on WordPress? Do you get your news from TV any more? Let’s chat!

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PB124: Using “We” When You Mean “I” – Does it Matter?

Using We and I in Blogging

Today we are talking about using the words we and I. This comes from a question from Sally.

ProBlogger_124

This show was prerecorded because I am on a beach in Thailand. If you would like to join us on the Gold Coast in Australia for the ProBlogger Event, you have just under two weeks left to save $ 100 on your ticket. You can get all of the details on ProBloggerEvents.com.

This question is from Sally (not her real name). Sally is just starting out blogging and doesn’t have a team. She has noticed some bloggers say “we” even though they don’t have a team. Is it better to use “we” or “I” when blogging.

In Today’s Episode Using We and I When Blogging and Does It Matter

  • I’m sure a lot of bloggers can relate to this question.
  • I know I’ve slipped into the “we” in the early days of my blogs because they kind of slid into being a collaborative thing
  • I wasn’t trying to project I was bigger than I was, it was more of the collaborative nature
  • In time, I had regular guest writers and a forum moderator, so I guess the “we” became more justified
  • After I started hiring more people it definitely became a “we”
  • I struggle with the flip side of this sometimes, I use “I” on my blog when I have a collaborative team working on the site and helping out
  • I think it is a good idea to be as transparent as possible
  • Using “I” can make you more relatable to your audience and show that you are just like them
  • There will come a time when the “I” becomes a “we”, this isn’t a clear cut process and the transition may be muddled
  • Stay transparent, and share your journey. Don’t worry too much if the lines become muddled.

How did you go with today’s episode?

I would love to hear other people’s opinions on this. When did you start using “we”? Do you slip into using “we” or “I” when you shouldn’t? I would love to hear your take on this subject.

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9 Reasons I Hate Your Blog

By Jerry Low.

1

Does your website have a high bounce rate? What is it about your blog that makes them want to press the back button?

The truth is that if your bounce rate is high, then there is something that is causing people to discredit your blog and leave quickly. Bounce rate, at least by Google’s standards, is measured in single page visits and how much time visitors spend on a landing page.

However, there are so many different things that play into whether your bounce rate works for you or not. A lot depends on the goal you’ve set for your website and whether or not you are meeting those goals.

I thought a lot about this and realized that there are many negative factors that could kill your success in blogging. And, like it or not – to succeed, there is a set of rules that bloggers need to follow. Some of those rules will impact bounce rate and some will not. But, the bottom line is that there are some things that will cause a visitor to stay on your site and some that will drive him away.

9 Reasons I Hate Your Blog

You’re probably thinking that “hate” is a big word, but it does reflect part of my feelings. Perhaps “turned off” is the more appropriate term here. And, here are 9 reasons why your blog would turn me off and cause me to bounce away.

1. You do more than one popup

Popups work. I get it.

I use it at times myself, too. In fact, the day I turned on a site-wide popup form on WHSR, our newsletter subscription rate surged more than 400%.

The key here is to not add too many popups. Excessive popups disrupt the reading experience and are seriously annoying.

I have seen bloggers who forgot to turn off their old popups when making new ones. This causes overlapping popups on a single page. It’s horrific and it underlines the importance of always testing your site whenever you do an update.

Based on InsightOne Study, 70% of Americans get most annoyed when popups are irrelevant and would even go ahead and block a site because of such annoying intrusions.

At the same time, however, as proven by my experiment, popups can greatly increase your subscription rates.

There are valid reasons for using popups, so if you choose to do so, you’ll want to keep these three tips in mind:

Tip#1: Use popups in moderation

I lost all my respects to one very popular marketing blog when I saw a Hello Bar, full screen welcome gate, and an exit popup, in one page.

Again, don’t overuse popups. One per page is about all I can take.

Tip #2: Make popups smarter

There are tools that allow you to show popups at a specific time, such as when a visitor is leaving your website or has scrolled down to a certain level on your page. Use these functions to minimize the damage popups can cause to blog user experience.

Caption: Real life sample: Subscription popup at Social Triggers – the signup form only pops when there’s an exit intention (cursor going up).

Real life sample: Subscription popup at Social Triggers – the signup form only pops when there’s an exit intention (cursor going up).

Tip #3: Only use well-designed and –written popups

If you must interrupt my reading in the middle of the article with a popup, at least do it in a way that is entertaining and visually pleasing.

And the best written popup award goes to… WaitButWhy.

And the best written popup award goes to… WaitButWhy.

2. Copycat

You also irritate me, a lot, when I recognize a piece of stolen content on your blog.

Copying people’s content is not only unethical, but illegal. There are copyright laws in place that protect people’s written and creative work and violating them can get your site shut down.

However, let’s say you don’t outright copy, but you use your own words and copy the same article making it very similar.

On top of that, you can hurt Google ranking for both your site and the site from which you copied the content. Not cool at all.

I assume people copy other people’s content because they can’t write well or simply don’t have enough time to write.

Simple Solutions:

Step #1- Read and take notes frequently

I believe you should take notes anywhere, anytime. In my opinion, it’s the #1 success habit in blogging.

When inspiration strikes or when you find something useful during your daily reading, jot down your thoughts or a note on the information.

I use Evernote to collect and manage my ideas. You can do the same with something else or with the same program, but the key is to take notes regularly so you don’t lose a brilliant idea.

Step #2 – Pass your ideas / studies / researches to a ghost writer

The key in this is to not outsource everything to the ghost writers. Instead, you should spend more time studying and researching the topic you want to write about. Offer some detailed notes.

Then, hand off the writing of the words and editing to professionals.

3. You call yourself expert when you are not

It bothers me a lot if you try to act like an expert and you’re not.

This can become clear very quickly to readers because if you don’t know much about the topic it is going to show. Someone might ask a question in the comments and you’ll have no clue how to answer it.

Faking as someone you are not sucks on many different levels. Just be honest. If you need to know more about a topic you love and want to write about, and then study that topic until you know it inside and out.

Calling yourself a guru while giving nothing but common knowledge advice on your blog irritates me. I don’t visit your site to learn something I already know – that everyone already knows.

Instead of trying to present yourself as the authority over something you know little about, write about what you do know or can easily learn and learn well.

4. Advertisements everywhere

Advertisements make for a spammy, ugly blog. Some bloggers put ads everywhere you can imagine. They might place an ad between paragraphs, inside popups, in the header, on sidebars, or even sugarcoat an ad as “other relevant resources” at the bottom of a post.

The truth is that, yes, there is tons of money to be made with these kinds of strategies.

Scott DeLong, founder of ViralNova, sold his site for $ 100 million. His site was similar to BuzzFeed and was chock full of advertising. His success (though big part of it depends on how he grew his site traffic, not jamming ads to his site) has sparked ambitious bloggers to build a similar site/blog and maximize the number of ads they can squeeze onto one page.

I counted 27 ads in one recent post at Viral Nova

I counted 27 ads in one recent post at Viral Nova

Their goal is simply to repeat his success.

Stuffing advertisements everywhere might bring in some extra cash, but it doesn’t bring any value to the readers and honestly, it sucks.

In the long-term, sites like this won’t be successful.

It’s proven that Google finds content mills, advertising mills, and similar sites and tightens up their algorithms to prevent those who come along behind from succeeding.

In fact, Facebook has already cracked down on the use of viral headlines like those used on sites like ViralNova and BuzzFeed and is showing them less on user pages. This means that traffic has fallen dramatically for sites that relied on social media for the majority of their traffic.

There are better, long term monetization strategies. From choosing a sustainable, profitable niche to creating and selling a product and organizing events, bloggers should utilize smarter strategies instead of baiting for ad clicks all day long. Readers are wising up to this tactic, too, and may resent click bait strategies.

5. I can’t read it on my phone

Nothing annoys me more than a site that isn’t mobile responsive. I connect to the Internet and read a lot on my phone. If your blog is not optimized for mobile, high chances are I will just skip your blog and go read somewhere else.

Worldwide, as of 2015, nearly 53% of people could access the Internet online. Like it or not, optimizing for mobile users is no longer an option in web UX design.

We have close to 140,000 unique visitors at WHSR and more than 45% are visiting us via a mobile device. More and more people are reading on their phones. 55% of all Oyster’s activity is now happening on phone. 54% of the 1.65 billion monthly active users access Facebook only on mobile (see report, page 7).

894 million mobile-only MAUs on Facebook

894 million mobile-only MAUs on Facebook.

And if that’s not enough, Google announced Mobilegedddon in mid-2015. That essentially means that sites that aren’t mobile friendly are likely to lose out in organic search rankings.

6. I can’t scan your posts quickly before I start reading

I will probably hate your blog if I can’t scan your posts before reading. I want to know in a nutshell what your post is about so I know if it will cover the topics I need to know or not.

Descriptive headlines are vitally important. H2 and H3 headers make for easier reading and help readers quickly understand what your post covers.

You also want your article to be easy to scan. Adding bullet points, short paragraphs and tight writing all go a long way toward increasing readability. Where appropriate, infographics and diagrams can also add a lot of value to an article.

7. The things you are blogging about aren’t worth blogging about

Stop blogging incessantly about your gym session, your cat, the cupcake you just ate, and your mundane daily activities at home. I don’t care and chances are that no one else cares about these things.

We all do them.

They aren’t exciting or unique.

The time I spend on your blog is valuable to me. I don’t have a lot of time to waste. Tell me something interesting, or useful. Make me laugh, impress me, most importantly, help me learn and grow better as a person or at something.

Before you spend time writing about something on your blog, make sure you understand what other articles on that topic are available and try to add some extra value or a unique twist to your article on that topic. If you don’t have anything to add, then that might not be the best topic to write about.

8. Autoplay video/audio

I hate it every time when a video loads automatically on the Fantasy Premier League homepage. They are Premier League officials, hosting the world’s most popular fantasy sports game. Since I’ve been playing two mini leagues with my buddies for years, I put up with it. Some site visitors won’t.

I’m also not fine with your blog if it loads a video or audio automatically instead of giving me a choice in the matter. I enjoy silent browsing. I am not going to find the “stop” button when your blog auto plays your theme song, I will simply go for the “close tab” button.

I dislike video plays without me pressing the “play” key.  If you must auto play a video, at least start it with the sound off.

Keep in mind, too, that not everyone has high speed Internet. While most people do, there are some rural users who might even still be on dial up. By automatically starting a video or audio, you essentially freeze the computers of your audience without high speed capacity.

9. Your page made me wait for more than five seconds

Generally speaking, any website that shows a blank page for more than five seconds are bad. Studies have proven repeatedly that page abandonment rate goes up with your site load time increases.

Almost 50% of Internet users expect a website to load in two seconds or less, and if it doesn’t load in three seconds, they will likely abandon that site.

If I am expecting to read a blog post, which typically would consist only of text and images, I expect to be served fast. Any blog page that takes longer than a few seconds to load is unacceptable.

There are a number of ways to improve your site load time:

Ditch the big image slider that takes forever to load

Host your blog on a faster server

Minimize HTTP redirects and pack your CSS and jQuery scripts together to reduce page roundtrip times

To dig in further, I suggest make use of free tools like Google PageSpeed Insights, Bitcatcha, and Pingdom to pin point the culprit that’s dragging your site speed.

Bottom line –

Even if you are currently running a blog that I would hate for all 9 reasons listed above, you can easily rectify these issues. Even minor tweaks can improve your bounce rate and offer you reader a more usable experience.

Take the time to visit your own blog as though you are a first time visitor. Pay attention to how fast the page loads (clear your cache first, so you get an authentic reading on this), pay attention to popups and if they interrupt your reading, and think about anything that might annoy your visitor.

With a little intuitiveness about what readers really want, your site will quickly become an authority that readers turn to time and time again for information and entertainment.

Jerry Low is the founder of Web Hosting Secret Revealed (WHSR). You can find more blogging tips like this article in his ebook and bi-weekly newsletter service.

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7 Simple Ideas for Mailing List Opt-Ins

photo-1421882046699-09a0ff4ffb1bThis is a guest contribution from Charles Crawford.

For a blog or business, a quality opt-in campaign is worth its weight in subscribers.

Not only does a subscriber base give you direct access to the customers and readers that care most about your brand, but it also lets you target those who are most engaged and willing to come back for more. Truly, this is a marketing technique that should not be taken lightly –  if you haven’t set up a mailing list, now’s the time.

Bear in mind, however, that an opt-in campaign must be more than a simple newsletter or a glorified advertisement in your subscribers’ mailboxes. People don’t part with their precious email addresses for just anything, the best opt-ins give them value, and promise even more down the line. You need to always be thinking how you can help your reader or solve a problem for them, and then make that the basis of your opt-in. Once they’ve signed up to your list, you keep providing value and helping them wherever you can.

However, this is putting the cart before the horse if you haven’t already attracted your subscribers. While you’ll find that a small number of people will happily sign up for your marketing outreach as raving fans, you’re still going to have to put in some real effort to get new subscribers and keep them happy.

Just as your opt-in campaign should focus on bringing readers and customers value, so should your methods for reeling them in. This means giving them something free in exchange for the subscription.

1. Free Information and Updates

Of course, a newsletter will already be giving out free information and updates about your posts or products. But it’s all in the way you sell it. Instead of just informing your website’s visitors that you have a mailing list, sell it to them just as you would any other product. And in order to do that, you have to get into the mind of your customers.

People like feeling that they’re a part of an exclusive club, that they’re getting the secrets that will put them ahead of everyone else and make them come out on top. To take advantage of this, tease them with tidbits you’ll include only in your mailing list. The best part about this freebie method is that if you’re an expert in your niche, it should be pretty easy to share your knowledge.

But don’t let that make you think you can provide your audience with something they could easily find on their own. Remember rule number one of opt-ins: provide value. Don’t take your space in their inbox lightly. Reward your opt-ins with regular, high-quality articles that they wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else.

Mailchimp and Constant Contact are two great platforms for creating and maintaining your email base.

2. Resource Sheet

If your blog is in any way educational to your audience, they’re going to want a way of finding other helpful links that will help them learn more about your niche.

In return for signing up for your email or service, offer them a huge list of other resources they can turn to. You’ll be providing your audience with that ever-important value while simultaneously adding authority to your brand.

You don’t necessarily have to list all of your competitors on this sheet; instead, think of related niches, topics, blogs and sites that will genuinely help your reader.

These could be websites, books, tools, online communities, trade magazines–things you yourself use to become an expert in your niche.

3. Ebook Related To Your Industry or Niche

Ebooks are a great way to branch out with your service. Leverage your extensive knowledge  into a short e-book that is helpful for your audience. The best part is, when creating an e-book, you don’t necessarily have to start from scratch. It’s often enough to repurpose existing blog posts for new subscribers, but if you’re concerned about providing value for the long-termers then use those blog posts as a basis for an eBook and then include extra copy alongside.

The de-facto platform for creating and hosting e-books is Amazon’s Kindle Store, with which you have the extra benefit of marketing your brand to another audience. However, it isn’t the best when it comes to giving away free books. Instead, use InstaFreebie, which allows you to upload your ebook file and generate a link for sharing. Plus, it integrates with Mailchimp.

iphone-624709_1920

4. Discounts on Your Products or Services

While it may hurt you to give away your products at discount, there are some upsides. Firstly, discounts on older ebooks, courses, or content that isn’t top of sales any more can be a great way of keeping them moving. These discounts may even have the power to get your audience to purchase one of your products they perhaps weren’t going to in the first place.

Coupon codes are a great way to provide discounts to your audience. How you go about doing this will depend on the retailer you’re using or the ecommerce system you have set up for the business part of your blog. In any case, you’ll be able to generate discount codes that you can then pass on to your potential opt-ins.

Offer these discounts in exchange for your users signing up for your email newsletter or subscription-based service. Even if they only sign up to receive the discount, chances are that many will stay subscribed to your service, especially if they find that your campaign provides them with value that they weren’t expecting.

5. Unused Materials

If you have some material that you just haven’t been able to use – for example, a lengthy blog post or guide – and you just can’t figure out how to get it out there, consider giving it away for free. While you could go ahead and convert this material into a password-protected file, consider leaving it unlocked. If your audience decides to share it with others, that’s free publicity for your brand.

Chances are, this material that’s been sitting around will be a little unpolished. While you may have kept it from release due to quality concerns, customers will be a little more forgiving if you’re giving it away for free. Still, you should take some time to edit and perfect, just like you would with anything you release as part of your brand. Anything that shows an obvious lack of quality will turn off your audience and be a bad representation of your brand.

6. Case Studies

You can use the freebie giveaway as an opportunity to teach your audience how to best make use of your blog. 

Consider giving users a collection of success stories that you or your readers have had from using the content they’ve found on your blog – post step-by-step instructions in how this success was achieved.

Always keep in mind the reader of your case study: it should be well-formatted with headings, subheadings, bullet points, and pictures to easily guide the reader along.

A case study is wonderful because it provides solid value to your audience, as they can model their own strategies off this success story. Plus, it has the added benefit of lending more authority to your blog and giving your audience more confidence in using it. After all, a confident audience is a repeat audience.

7. Counseling or Guidance

While this won’t work for all situations, you could consider giving away some special guidance to readers who sign up to your mailing list.

Such applications for this idea are an hour-long phone call or video chat, or a once-a-month catchup on something that they’re struggling with.

How you apply this idea will depend on your schedule and availability. While this probably won’t be appropriate for simple email sign-ups, it can be a good way to get readers to take the next step, especially when there are ecourses or other services involved.. There is one other upside to this idea: it will give you the social proof of being an authority in your field.

If you’re concerned about “wasting” your time and resources on giving something away, consider these two things: First, a freebie is an investment, and while you won’t see returns immediately, they’re guaranteed to bring in a bigger audience. Secondly, you can always find other ways to cut your expenses to make up for the fact that you’re giving away something for free.

Which opt-in type do you think would work best for you?

Charles Crawford is a high-level entrepreneur and co-founder of Crawford and O’Brien. Charles has been studying internet marketing, web design, and tech start-ups for years, and he has been successful with multiple business ventures such as affiliate marketing (where 98%+ of users never make money).

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