211: Creating a Successful Podcast – Advice from Pat Flynn

Advice from Pat Flynn on How to Create a Successful Podcast

Today I have a treat for anyone who has ever considered starting a podcast (or already has one), because I’ve just finished a Skype call with Pat Flynn about the art of podcasting.

Pat Flynn How to Create a Successful Podcast

 

As I’ve mentioned in the past, Pat’s teaching on podcasting is the number one thing that helped me as I was starting the ProBlogger podcast two years ago. If it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t have started at all.

And so I was very excited when he launched his Power-Up Podcasting course earlier this year, because I knew it would help many more Pre-Podcasters get into this amazing medium.

Pat spoke at our Aussie ProBlogger events earlier in the year (he’ll also be speaking at our Dallas event in October), and during that event we talked about how often I heard ProBlogger readers say things like “I really should start a podcast”.

It’s a statement I hear all the time. But it’s almost always followed up with something like “But I don’t know where to begin”’ or “But I don’t have the right gear” or “But it all seems so overwhelming”.

So I asked Pat if he’d be willing to come on the show and help those in our audience interested in podcasting take their first steps.

Today we jumped on Skype, and I put a lot of your questions and challenges to him in this interview.

Not only that, Pat has also opened up his Power-Up Podcasting course exclusively for ProBlogger listeners. His course opened for just a week in July when a couple of hundred students signed up, but then he shut the doors so he could concentrate on serving that first intake of students.

So this is pretty special. He’s opening it back up for only one week, and only for ProBlogger readers and listeners. You can see what it’s all about over at ProBlogger.com/powerup.

Whether you enroll in the course or not, I encourage you to stay tuned to today’s interview.

In it Pat and I talk about

  • A tip for growing your podcast audience through Facebook Groups (it’ll help you grow your blog too)
  • What two of his most successful podcast episodes have been
  • What microphones he recommends if you’re on different budgets
  • Working out which format of podcast is right for you
  • Interviewing techniques to help you get conversations flowing
  • Surfacing stories in those you interview
  • Editing podcasts
  • The pros and cons of seasons vs ongoing episodes,
  • How to make your episodes sound more alive and energetic
  • Much much more.

Pat is incredibly generous with his advice in this episode. So whether you take his course or not, you’ll get a lot of inspiration and ideas from staying with us.

Again, if you’re interested in checking out the Power-Up Podcasting course head to problogger.com/powerup where for the next seven days you can enroll. If you’re listening after that seven-day period there will be an option to join his waitlist until the next time he opens the doors.

Links and Resources

Microphones




Full Transcript
Expand to view full transcript
Compress to smaller transcript view
Darren: Hi there. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast, event, job board, and a series of ebooks all designed to help you as a blogger to grow a profitable blog. You can learn more about what we do at ProBlogger over at problogger.com.

Today, I have a real treat for anyone who has ever considered starting a podcast or anyone who’s already got one, because I’ve jumped on a call today with Pat Flynn to talk about the art of podcasting.

As I mentioned in past episodes, Pat’s teaching on podcasting is probably the number one thing that helped me when I started getting into podcasting. I walked through a lot of his teaching to set up this very podcast. If it wasn’t for him, I have doubts as to whether I would’ve ever started at all.

Earlier this year, when he launched his Power-Up Podcasting course, I was very excited because I knew it was something that would help so many more pre-podcasters, people who wanted to get into this medium. Pat spoke at our Australian ProBlogger event earlier this year. He’ll be speaking at our upcoming Dallas one in October 2, by the way.

At the event earlier in the year, we got to talking about how often we heard ProBlogger readers say things like, “I really should start a podcast”. That is something I hear every week from ProBlogger readers. It’s a statement that comes very regularly, but almost always is followed up with something like, “But I don’t know where to start”. Or “I don’t have the right gear”. Or “It all seems so overwhelming”. These sort of excuses, these challenges, these problems that bloggers face. Sometimes, it’s also followed out with, “But I’m scared. I don’t like the sound of my own voice”.

As a result, I thought it would be good today to get Pat in on this particular episode to talk about some of those first steps that you need to take with podcasting, some of those things that are going to make it a little bit easier for you if you’ve been saying, “I really should start a podcast”.

Earlier today we jumped onto Skype, and I was able to put a lot of the questions that you asked in our Facebook group to Pat and presented some of those challenges that I know many of you have.

Now, Pat was very generous with his time today. We planned to be online for about 45 minutes but we ended up going well over an hour. He just had so much good stuff to say and so I’m very thankful for him. Not only that, he also has opened up his Power-Up Podcasting course exclusively for ProBlogger listeners at the moment. He opened this course earlier in the year. I think it was in July, just for a week, and several hundred students went through that course at that point but he also closed the doors after that week so that he could concentrate on serving that first intake of students.

I’ve twisted Pat’s arm and he is opening the doors just for you. No one else is able to get in at the moment so it’s pretty special that you can have access to that. So if you are interested in taking a course and going a little bit further, head over to problogger.com/powerup.

Whether you enroll in that course or not, I do encourage you to stay tuned to today’s interview because in it, Pat shares a wealth of information. He talks about a tip for growing your podcast audience through Facebook groups that I never thought of myself. I think it would work also in growing your blog. He also reveals what his two most successful podcast episodes have been. He tells us about what microphones he recommends at different budget levels.

We talked about what format of podcast and how to choose the right format for you whether it be an interview or teaching course or something else, more narrative storytelling one. He shares interviewing techniques. I’ve got so much for you out of those interview techniques to get the conversation flowing.

He gives us a question that he asks regularly to help surface stories in those that you interview. We talked about editing podcast. We talked about seasons of podcast, whether you should just go with ongoing episodes. We talked about how to make your episode sound more alive and energetic and we talked about so much more along the way.

Pat has been so generous with his advice in this episode so whether you take that course, Power-Up Podcasting or not, you’ll get a lot of inspiration and ideas from staying with us for this episode today. Again, if you’re interested in checking out that course, Power-Up podcasting, head over to problogger.com/powerup where for the next seven days only, you can enroll. If you are listening to this after that seven day period, there will be a waitlist there that you can sign up for and he will let you know the next time the doors open.

Today’s show notes are also over at problogger.com/podcast/211. I’ll link there to all the resources and gear that Pat mentions in the show. Thanks for listening and I’ll talk with you at the end of this episode to wrap things up.

Darren: Pat, you’ve just returned home from Lisbon, one of my favorite cities in the world. I’m curious, when you were filling in your departure and arrival forms, what did you put in your occupation?

Pat: It’s hard. I never know how to answer that question. To answer that question for a nation, I just put entrepreneur and that’s really what I am. Man, Lisbon was amazing. That was my first time in Europe ever. I’m 34 years old and I finally made it to Europe. I was there to speak at an event. It was just beautiful. I attempted to vlog the whole thing, which is an interesting experiment and people seem to be enjoying that although it took a lot of hard work to edit all that stuff.

This is the year of international travel for me. I was at the ProBlogger event. My family and I came over and I spoke in Brisbane, in Melbourne, which was amazing. Thank you again for inviting me. It’s obviously just an amazing time with your people there. And then, later this year, I’m headed over to see Chris Ducker and what he’s got going on in London. I’m traveling, man, this year.

Darren: That’s great. One of the reasons I wanted to get you on the podcast today was the amount of people that came up to me at our event who said, “I came here because I either listen to your podcast or I listen to Pat’s podcast”. Podcasting was a massive reason that people came to our event this year and so I wanted to really drill in on podcasting because it’s something that you’ve been at now since was it 2009, 2010 you started out?

Pat: 2010 although I wanted to start one year earlier. I just got kind of scared of the whole thing. But yeah, I remember doing the workshops. The workshops were fantastic, by the way, where you did these little mastermind groups on day two of the event and a lot of the people who I was sitting at with in the tables were asking me about podcasting so your audience is hungry for it. I’m ready to give you as much as I can.

Darren: Yeah. My first question is do you see yourself more these days as a podcaster or as a blogger?

Pat: As a podcaster for sure. It was interesting because when I started podcasting, it was only every other week that I was coming out with a show. Because again, I was just kind of dipping my toes into it and it was a little bit difficult for me at first to figure things out on my own and I was still blogging three times a week.

But even six or seven months later, I went to an event and I started to meet a lot of fans and people who have read my blog and have gone to my site. They could not stop talking about the podcast. “Pat, the podcast was amazing. I love when you told that story about this.” Or “Oh, when you had that guest on your show, that was amazing”. I’m like, “What about my blog? I blog so much more”. But everyone I was speaking to was talking about the podcast.

That gave me a good clue that okay, maybe I should podcast a little bit more often and then I started to see amazing results from it. This sort of relationship building that happened because of it felt so much stronger than the relationships I was building from the blog. People were coming up to me and they would tell me these amazing things and I wouldn’t even know their name. They would talk to me like we’ve been friends forever and that’s really what the power of podcasting is. So yes, I primarily identify myself now as a podcaster, an award-winning podcaster and a teacher of podcasting and just somebody who’s just fallen in love with the medium.

Darren: You’ve just mentioned a few of the benefits, I guess, there from your experience. But from your students, you’ve now been teaching people how to podcast for a while now. What are some of the benefits that you see in those students of starting podcasts?

Pat: The different students have different results depending on what they’re looking for. The big one, I had a student from my previous enrollment period launch his podcast last week. It’s called Sober Together. He went through a period in his life where he was dealing with addiction and whatnot and he came out with this podcast, which was really hard for him to do.

And already, he’s getting emails from people who he would’ve never reached otherwise, saying, “Thank you so much for creating this. I feel like I have a place of a friend. I have a person I can look up to and who’s helping me through this tough time of my life”.

He was sending me messages of how incredibly thankful he was to have this medium that connect with people on such a serious topic. There are other people out there who have had brands already, who have now seen influxes of traffic come to their site. Many people have been finally able to contact and reach an authority level or an influencer in their space to invite them on their show when otherwise, they wouldn’t have been able to have that conversation with them.

Other people are now seeing clients. If you do any coaching or do any courses, online courses or things like that, it’s a great way a podcast is to get in front of an audience and give them a taste of what it’s like to learn from them. And then of course, if you offer coaching, it’s like, “Hey, you’ve heard me coach this other person or you heard me talk about this stuff. If you want to work with me further, you can get my coaching package”.

Everybody who has gone through my course, who has finished and completed it, is seeing results and it varies depending on what they do and what their offers are. But yeah, it inspires me so much to see people do the podcast much faster than I did when I started because like I said, I had so many hurdles to overcome. I was scared of what my voice was going to sound like. I was scared people who weren’t going to listen or if they did listen, they thought maybe I wasn’t qualified to talk about what I was talking about or they would just stop the show and listen to somebody else but to help new students through that is amazing. I’m just trying to pay it forward.

Darren: That’s great. You’ve mentioned there a few reasons that put you off podcasting when you first started. I’m actually interested in whether you think there are certain people who shouldn’t podcast. I’m trying to give, I guess, a realistic expectation here of is podcasting right for people. Is there anything that you would get people to ask before they decide to start a podcast in terms of things that might actually put them off and should put them off from podcasting? Or do you think it’s for everyone?

Pat: I feel like everyone could start a podcast but should everybody start a podcast? I don’t know. It sort of depends. Just coming from a very honest place, somebody who sells a course on this stuff, it’s like if you know that the podcast is there because it’s a bright, shiny, new object that’s going to take you away from what you know you should be doing because you’re scared of some other thing that you should be doing and it’s hard that you’re just trying something new, then I would say don’t do it because the last thing you want to do is start to fill your brain with all this extra stuff that’s going to take you away from where your focus needs to be.

However, I will say that a number of people have joined the course having lost a lot of focus and then now have refocused that energy into a content medium and a platform that they really feel energized about too. On one hand, it’s like, “Hey, don’t distract yourself”. But on the other hand, it’s like, if you have been struggling to find something that is really helping you spread your message. helping you create a connection, helping you meet other influencers, well then this is the one that maybe you can take energy away from something else and put all that energy into…

And the other thing I would say is that it is not just, “Alright, I’m going to start a podcast. I’m going to click a button and have a podcast of my own”. No. There’s a lot of work involved. There’s a lot of questions that need to be asked and there’s a lot of planning that needs to happen. This is why I created this course. I had a free tutorial for a long time, showing people how to do this but people still needed a little bit of handholding, some office hours to get questions answered.

I would say that if you’re somebody who isn’t going to really commit to the process of getting this up, then I wouldn’t do it. But I think most of your audience, they’re following you because they know that you have the information and that if they take action with that, most of them are committed to do that, then they should be okay.

Darren: Britney asked in our Facebook group about how much time it’s actually going to take. She said she’s busy with other forms of content creation. Do you have an amount of time if you want to do a weekly show that you need to be putting into it and to set it up? Realistically, is it going to take a week, two weeks, a month?

Pat: Well, setting it up, typically, all the students that have gone through my course were just getting all the information they need up front. I’ve had people do it as quickly as two weeks after purchasing Power-Up Podcasting and then I’ve had people spend six months because life has been so busy and they’ve been just consuming one lesson as they can. With lifetime access, there’s no worries there in terms of not getting enough in a short period of time.

Typically, I guess on average, it would take about a month to get set up. Potentially less if you work really hard at it and just devote all your energy to it. You can do it within two weeks. But I would actually say a month is actually perfect because what I teach in the course is not just how to set up your podcast. It’s also how to get found. That’s where a lot of other podcasting courses sort of miss out.

I think that’s my specialty, the marketing put on top of the podcast to make sure that you’re not wasting your time with getting your show up but you’re actually getting results from it like we talked about earlier. What I would recommend is having a couple of weeks to actually start building buzz for your show. Even though you might have it ready and set up, you’re still going to want to tease a little bit.

What I recommend is to create an event out of the launch of your podcast. This is for anything, if you’re creating a blog, if you’re creating a video blog, or a YouTube channel. When ProBlogger happens, Darren, you don’t just open up the doors and say, “Alright guys, come on in.” You tell people months at a time because it’s such a big thing. You don’t need to tell people months ahead of time about your podcast but a few weeks is great to get people excited about it.

You can start teasing clips here and there and you get people ready to subscribe and you might even want to do a contest or a giveaway in the beginning to get some ratings and reviews and more downloads that’s going to help you in the rankings in iTunes.

The nice thing about podcasting is once you get everything set up up front, then all you have to worry now, and you know this Darren, is just producing each individual episode. Everything almost happens automatically after you publish that episode from there. There’s no having to go into iTunes every time and upload an episode every time. It doesn’t work like that.

Your audience knows what feeds are. Podcasts work with feeds and you give iTunes, you give Stitcher, you give Google Play your feed. Every time that feed updates, those directories automatically update and then everybody who’s subscribed to your show will automatically see it in their device the next time that show comes out after they subscribe.

That’s the beauty of the podcasting thing. Your episodes get pushed out similar to how people used to follow blog content on the RSS readers that we all used to have. It’s the same way with podcasting.

But the other cool thing about podcasting specifically is that the way that people consume that content is different than any other content out there, for example, video or blogging. People are consuming podcasts on the go while walking their dog, at the gym, on the plane, on a commute. It’s an amazing way to get in front of an audience where no other content medium can.

Not only that. It’s not just the content type, it’s how long they’re listening. Most people are listening for 30 minutes to an hour. That’s way more than a person would spend on your blog. If you look at the average time people spend on your blog, it’s probably 5 to 10 minutes, on average. People watching a video, it might be anywhere between 10 to 20 minutes for those longer ones. Most videos that are consumed on YouTube are probably within 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Tim Ferriss has a show that some of the episodes go over two hours. There’s a Joe Rogan podcast, each episode is an hour and a half. There’s a great podcast called Hardcore History. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard that one. Some of those episodes are five and a half hours long and I think that’s too long. I tried listening to that show.

The point of this is people are listening. They’re putting the podcast into their daily lives while they’re doing other things and you talk about a way to build a relationship. They’re listening to your voice. They’re hearing and feeling your emotion. It’s just so, so powerful. Once you get up and running, I would say, and I teach you these techniques. You could probably get an episode out every week on your own in two and half to three hours each week. Almost the same amount of time that might take you to produce a blog post.

I feel now, now that I’ve been doing this for a while, the podcast is just far easier to produce than a blog post.

Darren: I’m completely with you. I know I can outline a teaching episode in 20, 30 minutes particularly if you’ve already written on the topic and you’ve already got a blog post there that you can base it off and update and then you speak to it and people will forgive the mumbles or the little stumbles or you can edit them out later and it takes as long to record it as it takes you to speak it.

Pat: Yeah. Keep those uhms in there. Keep those kinds of things that I just did in there because that makes it more real. I remember when I first started, I tried to remove every uhm, every weird pause, every breath and I listened to the episode and it just didn’t sound real because when you talk to people in real life, nobody speaks perfectly. If they do, I don’t know, it just sounds different and it’s real life. It makes your life easier too because you don’t have to edit all that stuff out and you get better over time.

That’s another sort of side benefit I found of podcasting. I wasn’t a great communicator at first. I loved blogging because I can write and delete and edit and write and delete and edit again. With podcasting, you can do that. But forcing myself to just go, A) saves me time with editing but B) I’ve now been practicing communication by talking into the microphone and now, it’s given me confidence to get up on stage. It’s given me confidence to have conversations and be able to deliver a story much better in a more impactful way. I still stumble every once in a while but like we were saying, that’s how it is in real life.

Darren: A few other questions that we got in the Facebook group for you centered around gear. I know gear is not the most important thing that we need to talk about really.

Pat: It’s so fun to talk about gear, right?

Darren: Let’s talk about gear for a few minutes. Particularly, it’s interesting, Imogen in the group said if you’re a complete beginner and money is tight, do you have any recommendations for why gear would be I guess necessary at first because when money is tight, we need the bare minimum and then maybe if you’ve then got the next level up, do you have any next steps in terms of the improving sound quality and recording?

Pat: The sound quality is really important. People can find your show and you might have the best, most helpful content in the world, but if it’s not sounding great, most people in the podcasting world expect a great sound. Luckily for us, it doesn’t cost very much to do that.

When I teach podcasting, I want to give you the bare minimum amount that you’ll need to spend in addition to whatever it is you might be already investing. People have really loved me for that because I know how it is. It’s tough. But if you’re going to invest in taking the time to do a podcast, you want to invest just a little bit more than a $ 20 microphone to have great sounding audio because you want people on the other end to really enjoy the audio of your show.

I’m just going to give you the microphone right now that you should be using. It’s called ATR2100 by Audio-Technica. The beauty about this microphone, actually let me click on the link now. I believe it is right now $ 60 on Amazon, which is amazing. Plus the idea that you don’t have to buy a mixer and all these other boxes with all the dials and stuff. You don’t need any of that stuff. All you need is a computer with a USB plug in and this microphone will work.

It sounds just as good to non-professional broadcasters as this microphone that I’m using right now, which is a higher level one. It’s about $ 400. It’s called a Hiel PR-40. It sounds just like this one. It’s mobile. This microphone that I have right now, that I’m using here at my office, it’s not portable. It needs a mixer because it has what’s called an XLR connection, which uses a giant cable connection that has these three prongs at the end of it. The Audio-Technica ATR2100 is a USB mic and it sounds fantastic.

That, a microphone stand, you can edit using your free GarageBand or there’s another tool called Audacity out there. That, you can use to edit your show and really, that’s all you need. That and a little foam ball that goes over your mic so that the ‘p’ sounds and the ‘b’ sounds don’t pop in people’s ears when they’re listening. That it. Less than $ 100. And then for hosting for your audio, $ 7 a month. That’s it and it’s really, really inexpensive these days to get high quality sound.

Back in the day, when podcasting started, podcasting has been around since the early 2000s and it was for the nerds and the geeks who understood feeds, audio and broadcasting. Now, we’re in an age where anybody can do it and you’re seeing it. You’re seeing shows from people with regular brands up on iTunes competing and beating the big names and now building an audience, building relationships.

As much as I would love for everybody to have the top level equipment, you don’t need that. You can save that money or spend it on going to a conference to build relationships and then invite those people on your podcast, for example, instead.

Darren: You mentioned at hosting, a big no-no is to host it alongside your blog on those servers.

Pat: Don’t host it on your own. Where you host your blog, don’t host your audio for your podcast there too because it’s going to eat up a lot of bandwidth and of course, it’s going to also affect the speed of your website. It might crash it. For whatever reason, you might get for example, an influencer one day might link to your show because they really enjoyed it or maybe you featured them on your show and they were like, “Hey, listen to my show or listen to me on Darren’s show”. And then boom, you get this influx of traffic. Everybody’s downloading at the same time and you’re wondering why your website is slow. And people are listening to your show and they’re going to your website and they’re like, “Why is this website not working? It’s too good to be true. I’m going to move on to somebody else”.

You don’t want that kind of scenario so always best to host your audio files on a server that is specifically for the audio files. There are two that I recommend. The one that I recommend, that I trust more than any other is Libsyn. They’re great. They have been in this arena for over a decade and they’re very reliable. Everything is super smooth and fast there so that’s who I would go with if you’re going to start a podcast. The other one is Buzzsprout.

Darren: Okay. It’s amazing how cheap it is, really, when you think about the bandwidth that’s getting tuned up on a fairly large scale. It’s very affordable to get into. Bret asked how important is it to have things like music, professionally recorded intros, outros, breakers, outwork? How much should you be investing into that? Can you do it all yourself or would you recommend that that’s an area to invest in?

Pat: You can do it all yourself. I did my own voiceover for a while and I produced music in GarageBand and I tested that for a little bit and then I hired somebody else to do it for me. Actually, the intro to The Smart Passive Income, I produced it myself. I just grabbed an audio file from a royalty free audio site and then I just hired a guy to do the voiceover on top of it. You can find people on Fiverr now who are great, for $ 5 to $ 10.

There are obviously people at an upper level who can do voiceover treatment for you. There’s a company called Music Radio Creative that can give you the whole package with the music and the intro, the outro, and the sounds and the sound effects and stuff. But honestly, you don’t need that. That’s going to add a little bit of flavor to your show in the beginning and a little bit of professionalism but honestly, if you are there in the beginning telling a great story, you don’t need any of that stuff.

Just tell a great story. Get people into your world and show them what it is that you have to offer them and they’re going to be hooked. From there, then you can add maybe later on, some music and other things like that.

The artwork however, as you mentioned, is really important because people before they listen to your show, they’re actually going to see it first. They’re going to see the artwork and the artwork is sort of like just the first impression so you want it to be great. You can do it on your own. A lot of my students do it on their own using something like Canva or I think PicMonkey is the other one.

I don’t remember the other one that somebody used but you can do it on your own. The file size is quite large actually because it’s for all the systems that podcasts run on including Apple TV. A 3,000 x 3,000 pixel, which is a lot, but what Apple automatically does is shrink that down and make it for iPad, for iPhone, etc.

A couple of things for artwork, you want it to stand out so look at the categories on iTunes and find what other shows are going to be there and find one that stands out. The person I mentioned earlier, Michael, he is in the self-help category and he really smartly chose a yellow color when all the other colors are not yellow at all. His show stands out very, very well.

You also want to keep the text on your artwork minimal because again, when it’s shrunken down and most people are finding them either on a website or most likely on their phones, a lot of times, when there’s too much text, it’s going to be illegible. And then finally, you want to make sure that there’s just something there that resembles what the show is about. It could be a picture of you. It could be a picture of your logo, like yours. It could be a symbol that represents what it is that you do. It can be anything. Really, you just need to get it up there, make it look great and then move on with your show from there.

It’s just kind of a one0-time decision up front and you can invest as much as you want in that but you don’t have to get too crazy.

Darren: With all those things, you can add, change, and upgrade and refresh them later on so don’t get too stuck on that. I’ll show you a way out. I think it’s probably more important.

Pat: Just like starting a blog. How many times do we waste like four weeks on, I just the perfect theme or I just need to get this logo designed. Get it out there. You can perfect those things later.

Darren: Format is another question that I got asked a few times. Interview, panels, co-host, talking head, narrative, there are all these different kinds of podcast and as soon as you dig into iTunes, you can see there’s a huge variety. How do you make that decision? Is it about your personality? Is it what you like listening to? Is it the topic or is it all of those things together? How do you make that decision?

Pat: What I would recommend is go into iTunes. Start listening to a few podcasts and start paying attention and being conscious to the format, the structure, the style, the pacing, those kinds of things. Over time, even just over a day, you’re going to start to realize, well I like this or I don’t like this. You can incorporate those into your own show too and put your own voice, your own spin, your own personality and character into it.

Interview shows are typically the ones that most people do because approaching that, you’re like, “Oh, this is easy. I just have to talk and ask questions and have the other person who I invite in the show produce the content for me”. That’s kind of half true because yes, the other person is going to answer your questions but the most important things when it comes to an interview show is asking the right questions.

I teach a lot of interview techniques and how to go deeper. The one thing I would recommend is don’t just have a list of questions that you want to ask and just only stick to those. My pet peeve, and there’s a lot of popular shows that do this, but my big pet peeve is when you go, “Okay, question number one… Okay. Thank you. Question number two…”. Don’t do that. After they answer question number one, what about like, “How did you feel when that happened?” Just like a regular interview would be, a regular conversation.

When you go to a café with a friend and you’re literally talking to them and trying to discover more things about them, first of all, you’re not presenting them a list of questions and secondly, you’re not just moving on from topic to topic after every answer. You’re going deeper. You’re having a real conversation. That’s a frame of mind that I like to offer people. When you get into an interview with somebody, you could even say this to the person you’re interviewing. It’s a great way to make them feel better about what they’re about to do with you in terms of the interview.

I always say when I bring a guest on, I say, “Let’s just pretend we’re in a coffee shop. I’m getting to know you and we’re just chatting. Don’t worry about the audience. They’re just a fly on the wall”. That typically will get people a little more comfortable to that point where they’re going to share deeper information. The gold really comes three or four levels deep after you ask an initial question. If you move on to the next question too soon, you might not get to that good stuff that’s going to make your show unique versus when other people perhaps try to interview that person too.

Speaking of getting people to say yes to interviews, that can be very difficult. A few tips there I just want to give to you. First of all, asking authors or people coming out with promotions of some kind, they’re likely going to say “Yes” during those times so you can ask them because they’re going to be wanting to get in front of as many people as possible.

I remember when I launched my book ‘Will It Fly?’ In 2016, I wanted to get on every single podcast that I could and so I was saying yes to everybody. Look for authors. If you want to look for a big name, that’s where I would start. The other thing is look for other people who have already done podcasts. They kind of know what that’s about. People who seem to be on many shows are going to be more likely to say “Yes” to new ones.

Also, from there, you can then begin to name drop. If you find an author, for example, and you promoted his book because it was coming out, you reach out to somebody else and you can say, “Oh, I’ve interviewed people like Tim Ferriss or Gary Vaynerchuk”. These people who came onto my show when they were doing certain promotions because I knew they would be more likely to say “Yes” then.

But now, people are like, “Ooh, you interviewed Tim Ferriss? You interviewed Gary Vaynerchuk? You interviewed Darren Rowse? Okay, I will say yes to your show”. The final tip I have for you, related to who to interview would be, you don’t have to interview A-listers. I think this is a big misconception, is “Oh, I have to get the top guys on the show and that’s how I’m going to be popular”.

No. Interview amazing people. There are amazing people in this world who have amazing stories to share, who nobody has even heard of yet. My most popular episodes are not the one with Tim Ferriss or Gary Vaynerchuk or other big names. It’s the one with somebody that nobody has ever heard of before like Shane and Jocelyn Sams from episode I think 122, who are just two people from Kentucky, in the United States, who happen to find Smart Passive Income and talk about how they then transition from being a teachers to online entrepreneurs. That is one of the most downloaded episodes ever because not only are people listening to it because people can feel like they can relate to them because they’re only just a couple of steps ahead versus the A-listers who are out and in stratosphere.

They also are more likely to share it because those people represent the major part of my audience. Don’t just interview A-listers. Interview non A-listers, the B- and C-listers out there. The people who are trying to be up and coming in that space. They’re going to be likely to say “Yes” because they want to be getting that exposure.

Also, if you have a brand already, interview success stories that you’ve helped to create. This something that actually helped promote in my last launch for the podcasting course. I interviewed three students. I interviewed them about what it was like to start a podcast and some of the struggles that they had and of course, just naturally through that, they’re saying, “Oh, and your course was so great because of this and that”. It’s essentially just a testimonial.

Right now, you could probably think of one or two people who you know you’ve helped if you’ve already have a band out there in your blog or videos. Invite that person on your podcast and have them tell the story. It’s so much more powerful than you telling your audience, “Hey, this is why my stuff is great”. Somebody is saying it for you and they’re telling the stories behind it. Listening to their voice, nothing is more powerful in marketing.

Going back to one of the questions related to structure. The other structure to do that’s very easy is just solo episodes where you are by yourself and you are essentially doing what’s almost like a presentation. I remember when I used to do those. I used to script every single word that I was going to say because I was so afraid of missing something or saying something incorrectly or all the random pauses. I didn’t trust myself to share those things.

Some tips I have for you is one, is to understand first what is it that transformation you want your audience to go through? They’re one way and then they listen to your show and they come out a new way. What is that transformation you want them to go through? And then just bullet point the stories you want to tell, the facts, the case studies, the examples, all the things that then support that transformation happening from the point that a person starts to listen to your show to the point that a person ends.

And then, because you have those bullet points and because you’re trusting yourself just like you would in a conversation when those topics come up, you just go. You just let yourself talk about those things. If there are important things like quotes you want to mention, write those down or specific like five items that you want to cover. Write those down too. Don’t script out the whole thing. It sounds completely robotic. You’re going to put your audience to sleep if you do that. Just be natural. Try it.

Also, I need to say this. Your first episodes are going to be terrible. That’s okay. You have to get through that. I think it was John Lee Dumas who has I think 1,700 episodes now. He said that every master started as a disaster. I love that quote. That’s with everything not just podcasting. In order to get to the good stuff, you have to get through that disaster. Just get started.

Those are the two formats that I would recommend starting with. There are other ones such as, there are some people who have a fiction, ones where they’re just literally telling a story as if it’s a book. Other ones are more what’s called MPR style, documentary, journalistic style with interviews on the street with background music. I’ve done that kind of episode before. I think it was episode 138.

I took a recorder to Columbus, Ohio, where my team is and I was like, “Okay, I’m going to interview my team. I’m going to talk about this trip”. The episode ended up being 25 minutes. It was a good episode. There’s a lot of music. It felt like you were in Columbus interviews. You got to meet my team. It took eight hours to edit that episode. That’s why I haven’t done many of those. Because when you record an interview, you record the interview and then you can record maybe the formal intro later and boom! You have it ready to go. That’s formatting.

Darren: Pat, you were just so easy to interview. I said this at our event. You just answered six of my questions without me even asking one. But here’s my next question then. What happens when that doesn’t happen? When you have an interviewee who is awkward or is having a bad day or is just not in the flow with you, haven’t had that coffee? Sometimes, it just grinds and it’s hard to get them to reveal. It’s hard to get them to share something of themselves. It’s hard to get them talking. Do you have any tips for getting the flow going with someone particularly when you’re interviewing them?

Pat: Thank you for the compliment, first of all. Secondly, I’ve gone through that process of interviewing and having it be very difficult to get great information to get great information from them. One word answers even if it’s an open-ended question. Just a couple of sentences and then that’s it and then kind of a random pause. It’s difficult sometimes and honestly, I’ve done a couple of interviews where at the end, I’m just like, “Wow. Okay. That’s actually probably wasn’t a good recording”.

I’m not saying this to this person but I’m thinking it and then I often go back to them and I say, “You know what, I don’t know what it was. It was probably me”. It’s like I’m breaking up with them. “It wasn’t you. It was me. I just didn’t feel the energy. I’m really sorry. I’d love to perhaps reschedule this with you or perhaps find a way to make you more comfortable with the show but the way the content played out during our interview, I can’t publish it. I have really high standards for the content that I deliver and again, I think it was mostly my fault.” That’s typically the way that I do it. I’ve only had to do that twice out of over 300 interviews that I’ve done.

It doesn’t happen very often because I know some other strategies. For example, like I mentioned earlier, you’re making people feel comfortable with you when they are getting on the Skype call with you if you’re using Skype to record, which is what we’re using right now actually. Making them feel comfortable about that.

When I get people onto the show, I say, “Okay, we’re not recording yet because I want people to know when I’m going to hit record so just really quickly, an example might be like, “Hey Darren, thanks for coming on the show today. I’m not recording yet. I just want to check our levels first. Make sure you’re comfortable and again, remember, we’re just going to have a casual conversation just like we’re in a coffee shop so no worries there. Can I answer any question for you before I hit record?”

Again, this is like really setting this person up for comfortability, a little bit of control. You’re able to ask a few questions if there are any. “Oh, how long is this going to go for?” “Oh, 30 minutes.” “Okay, great.” Again, you’re just answering all their concerns up front.

And then one great tip I have during the show. If it’s not going very well, try to lead people to a story that they’re interested in telling. A lot of the times, people aren’t excited about answering facts or talking about case studies or things like that. People love to talk about stories about themselves. And so a great tip I have for you if you’re trying to get a story from somebody, and I learned this from the person who created the podcast called Startup, he said, “If you’re trying to get a story from somebody, just simply ask them hey, tell me about a time when _____”.

Don’t say blank but talk about the topic. “Hey Darren, tell me about a time when you were trying to write a blog post and it just wasn’t going well.” That just opens up Pandora’s Box because then, you’re giving that person permission, essentially to talk about themselves. People love to talk about themselves and moments in their life that happened and things that they can remember.

If it’s even still a struggle from there, you might have to kind of guide them a little bit. “Maybe not a blog post that you struggle with. Let’s go the opposite way, Darren instead. What about when you just felt like you’re in the flow? What allowed you to get into that state of mind where it was just so easy for you to write a blog post?” If it didn’t work out on that first one, I might flip the switch and try to find one that was the opposite.

Again, interview techniques come over time. I teach the stuff but it’s a great way to start to hone in on those strategies that you can get to really make your episode stand out.

Darren: Great tips. Interestingly, I’ve got to tell me about times my potential questions which leads me to I guess potential questions. When you’re going to an interview, you’ve already said don’t go through your list of questions, but do you go in with some general questions and some follow up questions?

The other part of that is do you do pre-interviews? Because I’ve noticed I’m getting asked to do more and more pre-interviews before shows where you either jump on with a post and he’s going to interview you and talk about what they’re going to interview you about or a producer of this. I’ve noticed more and more podcasters are using other people to prepare for the podcast. Have you done pre-interviews? Would you recommend them? Do you go in with those sort of questions based on those interviews or your own research?

Pat: Research and prepping for an interview, great topic. I don’t do pre-interviews myself. I feel like the pre-interview happens as we are coming up with the ideas or as I’m researching that person. In terms of research, it’s typically not a lot of research. Take somebody who has written a book for example. I want to know just what the book is about and a little bit about that person because when I ask questions, I want to be in the shoes of my audience.

I’ve listened to podcast episodes before where a person, I can tell has just done so much research about their guest so much so that I feel left out. They didn’t set it up properly. I’m feeling left out. And so, I don’t want my audience to feel that way. I want my audience to tell me later while you ask the exact same questions that I had in my head. That’s my favorite compliment to get as an interviewer, which is, “Oh man, I had that question in my head and then you asked it”. That’s such a good compliment.

By not doing a ton of research, you still have to do some. You don’t just want to be like, “Hey, I heard you were great. Why are you great?” You don’t want to approach the show like that. Use a little bit of common sense. I have been on other people’s shows where they have done pre-interviews and typically, these shows that do those are really, really high up their shows that are very difficult to get into that have a lot of people in their audience and they just want to make sure that their standards are going to be really high.

You don’t necessarily need to do them yourself, especially when you’re just starting out, but it is something you could incorporate. One thing I think you could potentially do to help prepare your person that you’re interviewing before you get them on to is just to, even some of my students have done this even on their own, is to send an informational email beforehand, that gives them some tips related to the microphone that they might be using and to make sure that the door is closed and that your phone is off. All those kinds of things.

That’s not necessarily pre-interview but it’s just prepping the person to have a better time with you also. That’s research for me. List of questions, I do have a few often when I’m interviewing somebody because I just know I want to get a story from them or I am just really curious about something. The cool thing about podcasting is it’s your show. You can run it any way you want. You are more than welcome to ask any questions that you like but obviously, you are speaking to somebody if you’re doing an interview so you know, you’re also talking to them at the same time so common sense, courtesy, and respect also play a role.

But you’re allowed to, if you’re feeling it, to push that person a little bit and to start to ask a little bit. Again, that’s where the gold comes out. There’s that line of comfortability just like put your toe in on that other side a little bit just to see and test okay, well how much can I get out of this person. When I select a guest to come on the show or when a person asks to be on my show, I will determine whether or not that person is right because A) they aren’t somebody who’s going to share something that anybody else has shared before on the show. B) I know that they have something of value to offer. If those two things are true, then I can often get those stories out and to help people through that transformation by asking the right questions.

Darren: That’s great information. I think that it’s amazing how many people would just accept any interviewee and don’t do that refining all of is this the right person for my show. Sometimes, I get pitched quite a bit by the celebrity’s issues and I push back on those because I know they’ve been everywhere and they’ve got an agenda that they’re going to push in the podcast and so I’m much more interested in getting an everyday person, someone that can relate to the audience to get on.

Pat: Can I offer another tip Darren? I typically just share this one with my students but I mean, I’m just so thankful to be talking about podcasting and Power-Up Podcasting, my course, today. I just want to give this to you because this is great and it’s great for bloggers, it’s great for video people, it’s great for podcasting so I don’t want to hold it back. That is a great person to interview is the owner of a forum.

In your niche, go to Facebook. Type in a keyword, maybe it’s knitting or something and look at the groups. When you type in that keyword, there’s another selection after that to just find all the groups. You’re going to find groups that have thousands of members. Click on that group. You don’t even have to join. It’ll tell you exactly who admin of that group is.

You can reach out to that admin and even message them directly through Facebook and say, “Hey Marissa, I see you have this knitting group here. Awesome community you’ve built. I’d love to feature you on my podcast about knitting and talk about how you came up with this idea and your specialty in knitting. What do you say?” More than likely, these people, the forum admins and owners are going to say “Yes”. They’re going to be flattered that somebody had reached out to them because more often than not, they’re not getting any exposure for what it is that they do.

Now, what are the chances, Darren, do you think that that person, when you feature them, when you make them the hero of that podcast, that they’re going to share that with their 5,000 plus members in their community? It is very, very likely. I’ve had students who have gone from zero audience to thousands of downloads per episode now just using this one strategy alone.

And so if you’re a blogger, you can do the same thing. “Hey, I’d love to feature your knitting community on my blog and talk about maybe if you have two or three tips and techniques to offer. My audience, I’d love to send them your way”.

But of course, what’s going to happen, they’re going to send their people your way as well. It’s just been one of the best tips. I share a lot of cool things like that that can help you get exposure but I just wanted to give that one away.

Darren: That’s gold. It struck me that someone who is admin of a forum or a group is possibly a different kind of person to someone who’s a big blogger. They may not be quite as self-promotional. They’re much more interested in the community. It’s a different kind of person to get on as well. Yeah, gold. Love it.

Pat: Writing it down.

Darren: Listeners, just move across to editing a little bit because I think editing is something that a lot of bloggers who are considering podcasting get caught up on, is how do you edit? What tools should you use to edit? But also, how much should you edit? This is one thing I’m interested to hear with you. In your interviews of people, are you editing the interview or do you just let it play? Are you chopping out parts? Are you rearranging it in any way or you’re just someone who just lets it run from start to finish?

Pat: Every time they say something great about me, that’s all I include. That’s it. No. I’m just kidding. I keep the interviews straight away the whole time unless there’s something in the middle that happens like a disconnect and we have to reconnect later or I’ve actually had a coughing fit one time where it lasted for like 30 seconds. I’m not going to leave that in the show. Sometimes, I’ll sneeze and I’ll just leave it in and I’ll be like, “That’s real life”. People comment on that. They’re like, “I love how you left that sneeze in there. It’s kind of an interesting reset button”.

Most of the time, I just leave it all the way and I don’t chop it up. I don’t want to only show the best parts. I try to do my best as an interviewer to keep it interesting the whole time and on path. Sometimes, when you interview somebody, your line of sight is down this one line and then all of a sudden, something happens and then you’re like way and left feel here. You’re in another country talking about some random other topic, which is fine. It’s okay to do that every once in a while.

As long as you know what that transformation is you want or what the stories you want them to tell you, you can always add a stopping point. “Alright, we’re off of the tangent here. Let’s go back to what we were initially talking about earlier and blah, blah, blah.” You can take it there. Yeah, I don’t chop up these interviews. I leave them all the way in. That of course makes it so much easier when it comes to editing.

I do chop up however when I’m recording on my own. This is funny. I had a guy, actually, he attended ProBlogger event, Jason Skinner, amazing guy. He came up with a podcast and he was just so excited about it. He’s doing great. I remember when he was first recording his show, he was saying something like, “Man, I did like ten takes of my first episode. I just can’t get it right. What’s going on?” And then the final sentence was something like, “I just can’t record for 15 minutes straight without making an error”. I was like, “What? You’re trying to record a 15…” Nobody can record a 15 minutes straight without making an error. That’s insane. He’s like, “What do you mean?” I said, “Record as much as you can and when you fumble, just click stop and then edit that part out where you fumbled and just pick up where you left of and keep going. When people listen to the final version at the other end, they would have no idea that you fumbled and messed up”.

I even show this in my course. If you look at my timeline in GarageBand for one episode that I do, you’ll see it’s chopped up into a couple dozen pieces because it took a couple dozen tries for different parts to get it in there but never have I done ever one episode straight through when it’s a solo episode of my own. Sometimes, I’ll tell a story and then I forget where I’m going and then I just okay, wait, I got to redo that. Let me go back to where I was or back to that middle part before I get to that closing part and then let’s click record and go again. It always happens. That’s how you edit your show when you’re doing it on your own.

Darren: That’s great. There are no rules for this stuff either. I think it’s good to communicate that to a new podcast, is you can stop halfway. You can edit. You can do it in one take if you’re good at that. It’s totally fine. One of the thing I’ve learned to do is to listen back to my podcast before I pass them off to my editor. They look up where the energy is and where the flow is. If there is a dead patch in an interview, it’s okay if you want to, to chop that part out. The same for you. As you listen to yourself, you’re going to go, “I really slumped there. I’m going to chop that out. I’m going to re-record that. There’s no harm in it doing it again.” So great advice.

Pat: You learned a lot about yourself when you podcast. By listening to your show specifically as well. My first episode is still online on iTunes and I can’t listen to it because it’s just terrible and so I feel like I speak so slowly and there’s a lot of uhms and I’m counting everyone of them. You can sort of as you go through all the episode, over time, you start to see the progression. You start to notice how I tell stories differently. You start to feel the confidence.

A good tip I have for all of you is to stand up while you’re podcasting. I remember somebody told me, “Oh Pat, you got to stand up while you podcast”. I’m like, “Why would I do that? That would be like standing for an hour. My feet would hurt”. They’re like, “No. Try to get a mat on your feet if you don’t want them to hurt”. I said, “Okay, I’ll try it”.

I didn’t tell my audience that I did this. I didn’t tell my podcast listening audience that I stood up during this episode. However, I must have gotten a couple dozen messages from listeners saying, “Pat, I don’t know what it was about this episode but you seem to have a little bit more energy”. I knew it was because I stood up because when you stand up, you are in sort of ready mode. You have more of your lungs to fill up because you’re not being squished by your posture. That’s another great tip when you’re recording a podcast, is to try it standing up. You’ll see that there is a significant difference.

Darren: It makes such a massive difference. I accidentally listened to episode one of this podcast the other day. I was trying a new podcast then it came on and I was like, “It’s so slow.” I’m really sorry for you new listeners who went back to number one. Good content but gosh, it was so slow. You got to listen to it at double speed.

The other thing I’ve been doing recently is sit ups before I do a podcast. I’ll just pump out 10 sit ups or a couple of push ups. It’s the energy. You’ve got to get things moving in your body.

Pat: I wasn’t going to say this but I do 20 push ups before I record a show. It’s the same thing. I think even Michael Hyatt, who’s a good friend of mine and yours as well I believe, he showed on video once how he has like this mini trampoline that he jumps on before he goes live. It’s so strange but I follow everything Michael does and I believe him with everything he says because he’s just such an amazing leader.

Of course, I just started exercising before I record and you just have so much energy. You can really listen to it and can tell.

Darren: The other thing, force yourself to smile while you’re doing a podcast. It comes through in your voice when you’re happy. When you’re positive, when you’re optimistic, it really flows through and I often get to the end of an interview and I realize I’ve been smiling the whole time even when I’m listening to the other person.

Pat: Till your cheeks hurt?

Darren: Yeah, I get that all the time. Smile. Force yourself to smile and write it down on your screen. Smile.

Pat: I love that.

Darren: They can’t see you but they can hear you smiling.

Pat: A great tip. Those of you listening right now, you can probably see us smiling on the other end after the comment.

Darren: We’re not wearing pants or anything but we’re smiling.

Pat: That’s the other thing about podcasting. You could do it naked and nobody’s going to see you.

Darren: Okay. We’re getting into dirty areas.

Pat: These are all the high-end tips that you don’t hear anywhere else.

Darren: Alright. A couple more questions. I really want to focus on building the audience now because Linda in our Facebook group said do you have any suggestions on getting that audience bigger but also, do you have any kind of workflow or schedule for each episode in terms of sharing it and getting it out there?

Pat: Yeah, absolutely. I remember Darren, you showed this slide at the event recently where I think it was a woman who had a blog and she had shown you her workflow for everything that happened after she creates a blog post and it was like a list of 75 things or something like that. I don’t have a list of 75 things to share with you but what I would offer is pick the top five and really master those.

Those top five things after an episode comes out could be for example, emailing your list. That’s a completely underutilized thing, especially when it comes to podcasting but also blogging. You have this email list. They want to hear from you. They’ve chosen to hear from you. Share that information when it comes out.

But you know, pursuing social media and maybe taking that social media step a little bit further by creating a little quote card and there’s other tools out there now that’ll let you create a movie file that embeds your audio in it really quickly. And it also shows those waveforms as you’re speaking. It becomes a great tool. You can use on Instagram and on Facebook and on Twitter to have people listen to like a little clip of your show.

You can just offer from your previous episode maybe a really interesting insight or something that’s about to lead into maybe a top tip that you then kind of tease so that you get people to listen to it. It’s not just like, okay, social media or just take it another level and make it great to make it worthwhile so that instead of just doing a tiny good job on everything, do a great job on less things.

The other thing you should do would be to encourage within your shows people to share it. I would absolutely make sure to include a call to action within every single episode but don’t include the same call to action in every single episode. People who listen to podcasts are similar to Netflix viewers and that they binge listen. And so, when people are binge listening to your show, if they start to hear the same exact call to action every single time, they’re going to tune it out just like we’ve tuned out AdSense ads nowadays.

You want to mix it up. Change it around. Make it different. Don’t copy paste from previous episodes. Make it organic and switch it up. It could be subscribe to the show. It could be rate the show. It could be download this freebie. Those kinds of things. Amy Porterfield has done a great job of getting people to download stuff from her podcast.

That’s one of the bigger challenges and something that I think one of my strengths is, is yes, you can get a lot of listens and a lot of exposure on a podcast but getting people to take action is a little bit harder specifically when that action happens on a website because as you might know, people are listening on the go mostly. How do you get them to go and do stuff with you get on your email list. There’s a lot of strategies for that. Amy Porterfield does an amazing  job so if you want to any of her episodes, she does a fantastic job of helping you download something.

Typically, what she’ll do is she’ll create an amazing episode that’ll show you how to do something for example how to use the brand new Facebook power ads editor or something. She talks about Facebook ads quite a bit. She’ll say, “By the way, I know this is a lot of information. What I did was I put together a two paged PDF file that just is a checklist of all the things you need to do the next time you set up your ad. All you have to do is go to this website”. It’s usually her website/ and then just the number of her episode. She uses a WordPress plugin called PrettyLinks to do that.

“Go to that website to download that freebie. It’s completely free.” And of course, what happens? She gets their email. And then she might down the road, sell a course on Facebook power editor or something. This is the kind of rhythm that she has. Offering a ton of value, getting new exposure on a podcast, getting people on her email list by offering something a little bit more that would help people, actually something helpful, not just like transcript or something, and then finally, leading them into more value and then eventually a course offer of some kind.

Darren: That’s great. When she interviewed me, she actually asked me if she could use a couple of my blog post in a PDF form, which again linked back to my site as well. There’s benefit for her to do that so she created an opt-in out of my content. I think it’s just gold. Any way that you can get people across your site so that you can contact them later when they are in a state where they can click through I think is so important.

One of the things I’ve noticed a lot of top hand bloggers doing and you know, you mentioned NPR and some of those high-end shows that they use seasons really well. Many of the new bloggers I start out getting to this habit of feeling like they have to create a new post every week of the year. I’ve got a weekly show, 52 episodes a year. What are your thoughts on seasons and creating seasonal content? Do you think there’s some pros and cons of both approaches?

Pat: Let me tell you, something in my life right now that’s missing is Game of Thrones because Game of Thrones, the final season is not coming out until 2019 or something like that. It makes me want it so much more. It makes me know that as soon as that season comes out, I’m going to be boom! Watching every episode as soon as it comes out.

In a pro way, in a positive way, I think seasons allow during those breaks for people to just really, really crave and want more. Yes, people might be upset because you typically come out on a Tuesday and then for how many months or weeks, you don’t come out with one, well, I think there’s a positive aspect to that.  That is this Game of Thrones effect like I was talking about. But that can only happen if your content is that good. Of course, hopefully you’ll put in the right value to make it as such.

I think seasons are great as well because it allows us to give ourselves some breathing room so you don’t have to feel like you’re tied down or that if you stop your podcast, you’re a failure. No. Actually, here’s the interesting thing. Somebody in one of my mastermind groups, his name is Todd Tresidder from financialmentor.com. He teaches really high-level financial advice to his audience. He did a podcast a couple of years back and he only did I think, I don’t remember the exact number, but it was only 30 somewhat episodes I think.

He just stopped and he hasn’t produced a new podcast episode for two years, which in the grand scheme of things is like, “Oh well, that’s kind of sad. You didn’t keep it up. It’s kind of a failure”. But podcasting lives on. It is evergreen content. He is continually getting because iTunes is a search engine, because people find his podcast on his website, because people have linked to his show, because people have talked about it. It’s continually getting new clients. He’s continually getting new students because of the podcast that he created two years ago.

Although you might think that, “Oh well, seasons is not good because less opportunity to get in front of my audience and give them those new call to actions”. Although that might be true, podcasting content is evergreen, absolutely. Even more evergreen I think than a lot of videos especially videos that are up on Facebook, which aren’t really seen anymore after the next day so that’s great.

And then I like the idea of season because then, it can give you okay, I don’t have to do 52 in a row. I can do ten. You can even batch record this ten up front and then come out with a season. Some people go Netflix style and release all of them at the same time. Chris Ducker and I do that with our One Day Business Breakthrough Podcast. We have adapted the season thing because that’s all the time we have available to record. He’s in the Philippines. I’m in the US.

We record every few months and that’s the only time we have together to do that and so we come up with eight episodes. We record them in about three days and that becomes a season that’ll last for a few months for people and then we come out with the next season a few months later. Yes, seasons are great. I think When iOS 11 comes out very soon. They’re going to make it so much easier for podcasters to actually make seasons happen and actually note podcast is being a part of a different season or season one, season two, etc. I’m all for it. I love the idea.

Going consistent every week is a great thing too because people, when they listen to your show, they are putting you into their lives, into routine. My podcast comes out on Wednesday and one time, I was late. I came out with my episode on Thursday but before I came out with  my episode on Thursday, I started getting a barrage of emails from my audience saying, “Where is the episode? What happened? Are you okay?” People were swearing at me and being really mean but I also realized that wow, this means that people want the episode.

One person was like, “My commute today felt so lonely because I didn’t have your podcast with me today. Please make sure you come out with it on time next time”. It’s cool. That might sound like a negative but I think that’s a positive. It’s like wow, people have you in their lives. They want more of you. And so, it’s so cool.

Darren: It is a nice thing to hear those sorts of things. I often will get “Monday mornings is my time with Darren” or “I go with run with Darren on Mondays”.

Pat: I love when they say that. I should be the strongest person in the world because I’ve been in several gyms. I have been to almost every country in the world although I’ve only been to Lisbon in real life. Just the way they phrase that, right? It’s like you’re with me. You don’t say that about blogs. You don’t even really say that with video often.

“Man, Darren, you are with me on my commute today.” You can tell there’s something different about podcasting.

Darren: Yeah. I love the ones where people say my kids know you. My kids love your accent or that type of thing as well.

Pat: Yeah. That’s good. I keep my show swear free. We talked about editing earlier, I interviewed one person, I won’t mention his name but I spent three hours editing it because I had to remove every swear word. The next time he came to the show, he didn’t do any at all so maybe that gives you a clue who’s a two-time guest on SPI. But I mean kids listen because they’re in the car with mommy and daddy. That’s partly why I’m kind of a little sad about Gary Vaynerchuk because I love Gary’s stuff. I love how motivating he is but I can’t share him with my seven-year-old because then my seven-year-old will get sent to detention afterwards.

Yeah, anyway it’s your show though. Depending on who you want your audience to be, you can make it any show you want. I know a lot of people who do swear because that’s who they are on their podcast and that’s totally okay too.

Darren: Totally. A big shout out to all the kids listening today.

Pat: Yeah, love you guys.

Darren: Stats and metrics, I kind of want to wind this up but I’m really interested to hear how you work out whether a show was successful or not. Are you looking at download numbers, iTunes rankings, show note visitors, conversions in terms of how many people sign up for your email or does it change from episode to episode?

Pat: It is not about the numbers for me. In terms of success of a podcast it is, are you actually helping people on the other end? That to me is what defines success. Are you actually serving others? Whether it’s 100 people or 100,000 people per episode, I still think it’s important to realize that you are there helping people. And when you can help 100, those 100 people can share your show with another 100 people.

Let’s talk about that number really quick because a lot of people will say, “Oh, I only have 100 downloads per episode”. But then I say, “Okay well, let me invite you to a conference and let me put you in a room in front of 100 people. Now, how do you feel?” Of course, they’re like, “A little nervous now. I’m getting goosebumps thinking of that”. We’ll that’s how it is on your show.

That’s the kind of relationship that you could build and if you treat your 100 subscribers like they’re just a number, well of course they’re not sharing your show, of course not. No, you need to treat them like gold and give them the time and attention that you would a person who comes and flies over to you and gets a hotel and sees you speak at an event. And then you can grow it from there.

It’s insane when I think about this analogy in terms of the numbers that I have now. I’m walking into a stadium every single week in front of 100,000 people and I’m right there in the middle and everybody’s there ready and listening to me. It just partly scares the crap out of me because that would really scare the crap out of me in real life.

But it also inspires me. It’s like all these people, I could change their lives. I could help them and when I get the responses back, when I see people enjoying the show, that to me is what success is. The numbers, obviously, they’re important to look at to make sure that you’re continually growing, that you’re actually getting downloads just to make sure there’s no errors of course.

But email list, being added to is important too. I think it’s important to ask yourself what is the most important metric for you. I think it varies for every person. For me, I have a really interesting one and that is how many thank you responses could I get in my email inbox everyday. That is a sign to me that okay, I’m doing things right. It depends on the person.

Darren: Yeah. That 100 people who could be listening, you’re spending an hour with them. That’s 100 hours of conversation that you have emitted. That’s the other reminder I think to make. You’re having hundreds of thousands of hours of conversation with people and that’s amazing but 100 hours is pretty amazing too. I couldn’t schedule that much time with people during the week. A hundred  hours is great.

Tell me about an episode—you see what I did there?—which you would consider to be your most successful episode. Why was it successful in your eyes?

Pat: I’ll tell you a funny story. A lot of people know that I’m an adviser for a company called LeadPages. LeadPages is co founded by a man named Clay Collins. I invited Clay on the show to just talk about LeadPages and to share some insight with people to inspire them so I invited him on the show. We recorded and it was okay. Clay always has great things to say and amazing stories to share.

But afterwards, I think it was the next day, I messaged Clay and I told him, I knew he would appreciate this especially as an adviser to LeadPages because we obviously talked about that in the show, I replied back and I said, “Clay, a part of me feels like we could do better”. And he was like, “What do you mean? I thought we had a great interview. You said it was great”. I said, “Yeah, I know but I feel like we could take it another level up. I want people to be blown away by your story. Can we sit down for a half hour at some point?” He’s like a CEO of a multimillion-dollar company and he immediately said “Yes”. He’s like, “Yes. Let’s do it. Let’s take the approach of let’s make this the most downloaded episode ever”.

He and I spent a lot of time and then he spent time even offline, outlining a specific structure. This is episode 263. Typically, episodes of mine nowadays get downloaded over 100,000 times after six weeks. After the six-week period, 100,000 people are on average getting through this episode. After two weeks, this new episode that we recorded, you can see the structure, essentially, what we ended up talking about was how to go from four figures to five figures to six figures to seven figures essentially. Talking about this in terms of like stepping up in a ladder. Every rung of a ladder requires different mindset, a different set of comfort zone, getting out of that, etc. After two weeks, this episode had 350,000 downloads.

I didn’t do anything different to promote it. That’s the other thing. I didn’t do anything different than what I normally do. Because we paid attention to what the content was about, it had gone viral. It was just really cool because I was a little scared to ask Clay if we could do this again because I felt like we talked for an hour and a half and that was an hour and a half that we never ended up using. But we had to get through that and so, the point of the story is that it’s your show and you can make it as great as you want it to be and I was very thankful that Clay was very understanding with that.

Another very popular episode I have, which I’m already seeing, is it came out today actually, Darren, this is an interview with a woman named Cassidy. I know this is going to be a big one. She makes six figures a year helping people plant succulents. Succulents are a kind of plant. To share her story in this really obscure niche, nobody has ever heard of Cassidy. Most people who are listening to my podcast, they’ve never heard of this woman. But already, I’m getting emails and messages about just how inspiring this is because like I said earlier, I’m making somebody who follows SPI the hero of the story. I’m making it seem like what she has achieved is achievable.

Because of that, because of the obscure niche, because of the way she tells her story, and because it’s relatable, it’s getting an amazing, amazing response. Two different perspectives in terms of let’s make a great episode for me.

Darren: They’re great stories. It’s often those ones that just come out of left field that you don’t expect to go big, that just resonate with people on a deeper level and get shared around.

Pat, I could talk to you for hours and we’ve gone over what I thought we were going to talk about.

Pat: Sorry.

Darren: No. It’s gold. I really appreciate that you are responsible for starting this podcast. I went through your free podcast tutorials when I started. It took me about a month to get going and they were gold for me. But what was missing from those tutorials was the interaction with you and with other podcasters and so, when you released Power-Up Podcasting, your course, I think it was in July this year, I was so excited for your students because the thing that was missing for me that would’ve sped up the process and would’ve improved my podcast so much was the interaction with people who have been there and done it before and other people who were going through that experience right now. I was really excited when you launched Power-Up Podcasting.

I was so excited to hear that quite a few of our readers and our listeners went through the course. You mentioned Jason Skinner before. He’s one of our listeners of this and he is one of our attendees of our event. When I caught up with him at our event this year, he was absolutely raving about you and your course. I think you’ve actually got a case study from him on your sales page. You can go and listen to that. He’s got a podcast called Business Made Easy. Launched his podcast as a basis for that and so I was really excited to see you doing that.

You open that for a limited time for people and very generously and kindly opening it up for ProBlogger readers, I think fairly exclusively at the moment so we’re very excited about that. I just wonder if you can talk us through what it the course, who is it ideal for, and anything else you think our readers need to hear to make a call on whether it’s right for them.

Pat: Sure. If you’re still listening to this episode, it’s more than likely that you have this urge and knowledge that you should start a podcast. I wanted to start a podcast back in 2008 because of a podcast that I had listened to that have really changed my life. I knew that if I was able to grab onto this medium, I can potentially change other people’s lives too.

But like I said way earlier in the interview, I didn’t know how to do it. I didn’t have the help. I didn’t have any structure. I just had to figure it out on my own. And because of that, I didn’t get it done until a year and a half later. And so, I feel like with the success of how with the podcast that I’ve created, I have five podcasts of my own, actually, and with just my teaching style, it’s sort of become my mission now to help people start their own podcast if they want to. That’s why I’m here.

It’s not just to help you set it up like you’re talking about, Darren, and it’s also not just to help you get found. That’s the other sort of super power that I have to offer people kind of like what we hinted on earlier. But it’s really like you said, that access. I think that’s one thing that’s unique about me and the courses that I produced, is you get a lot of access to me and also a community of other students.

I’ve already prepped the students who are in there now. There are several hundred of them who have gone through the course already, graduates, if you will. That a brand new set of students are going to come in and we always do sort of a nice welcome for all the new students to make them feel like they’re at home. They’re in the right place and they’re in the right community.

Also, to see some of the wins that some of the existing students have had so they can look up and see something they could strive for. In addition to that, this is what’s really unique. I actually was asked by a number of people who are colleagues of mine, why I do this and why I don’t do it at a higher price point. You could see the price point on the sales page but most of my colleagues were like, “Okay, what you offer on top of that should be at a higher price point”. But no because like when I took courses, when I first started, it was just a little bit of access to the course creator that really made the big difference between the course, is that it really did help me in the course and that did not.

Sometimes, you just need one or two questions answered and very quickly, to push you forward. That’s why when you join, you’re going to see that there’s these things called office hours. I will get on a live call in front of the entire group. Whoever wants to join, you have lifetime access to the course. You have lifetime access to the community and you also have lifetime access to all these office hours even for future enrolment periods. I will be there and I will answer every single question that comes across within an hour.

Multiple office hours happen every single month. For this next launch, there’s actually nine that are scheduled within three or four weeks after the launch period closes. This is only open for seven days. I like to work with the students that are coming in, in a group. It’s easier for me to answer questions. It’s easier for me to hold their hand through the process and that’s the number one thing people have said, “Pat, you give so much of yourself. I guarantee you, you will not find another course online about podcasting, let alone anything where you get this much access to people who are there to support you including the course instructor”.

I’m just really excited to welcome a new batch of students in there, especially from the ProBlogger community who I care so deeply for. Go in there and you’ll see other members who are a part of the ProBlogger community as well and then you get to meet a number of other people too. But really, this course takes you through the whole thing, from start to finish.

First of all, pre-launch, all the things you need to do before you launch your show. That’s stuff about what your show is going to be about. I help you understand what that’s going to be, what the title should be, getting your description down, making it optimized for iTunes SEO, all those kinds of things. Getting your artwork done, ordering your equipment, getting it sent to you, etc.

The next phase is then planning not your podcast in general but your podcast episodes. One of my big strengths is content creation and planning and so I put that into step two here in the pre launch phase. I show you who should you be interviewing and why, what should your content be about, how should it be structured, what should be your first episode should be about, etc. what call to actions should you create, all those kinds of things.

And then we get into a little bit more of the technical stuff, a lot of the scary stuff that was very scary to me when I first started. If any of you have seen ever any of my tutorial videos, you know that I give you the quickest and easiest way to learn these things. And so, I do the same thing with various versions of different kinds of software you can use, how to organize your files, recording tips to make it easier for you to do editing down the road and how to interview.

Then we get into a few more technical things and then I give you your launch execution plan. This is the big one that helps you get found not just to help you get your podcast up but help you get found on launch day. So what we were talking about earlier creating an event, I give you a walkthrough of all the things you need to do during launch week, during launch day, all those kinds of things.

And then later on, you’ll get into the post launch stuff where you can learn about how to read the stats, how to automate your show, how to repurpose stuff, how to get onto like the new and noteworthy in rankings and all those kinds of things.

Finally, there’s a lot of bonus material there too. For example, how to grow your community with a podcast, grow your email list, how to monetize. There’s a whole bonus section with five videos on monetization strategies and then also interviewing in person if you’re going to do that and then always access to the recordings of the office hours too.

It’s a complete package and I’m just really excited, like I said, to take care of anybody who is interested and wants the right way to do it in the most efficient and most quality way possible.

Darren: That’s great. It’s a very generous course in terms of what you cover and your own personal access. I think it’s really exciting for people who want that a little bit extra that I can’t get through the free tutorials that are around.

Head over to problogger.com/powerup. We will send an email out to you if you’re on our list as well, just with that link and with those details. Check out the case studies on that page. I love the case study. They’re from Jason but also Sophie Walker who’s another Aussie. She’s got a podcast called Australian Birth Stories. Actually, earlier today, I was on iTunes and she is number one in her category. She’s in UN-noteworthy Australia and she’s I think number 40 in the whole of Australia for all topics and categories.

Pat: She’s crushing it.

Darren: She is doing amazing things and she’s got a podcast about stories of child birth. So, you’ve got Jason there who’s got a business podcast. You’ve got Sophie there who’s got a podcast on giving birth. It’s not just for one type of podcaster. There’s a great variety there from what I can see just in the case studies, let alone who’s in the course.

Pat: If you want to be the expert in your niche, it’s definitely a way to do it. It’ll also help you become an expert by interviewing other experts too through association. It’s just amazing platform and I wholeheartedly believe that I have the best course out there to help walk you through that process. It is the best thing I’ve ever created.

Darren: It sounds like a great investment. Again, it’s problogger.com/powerup. You’ve got a 100% money back guarantee, I see there as well so if you want to check it out.

Pat: Absolutely.

Darren: I do wholeheartedly recommend Pat to you. Thank you so much, Pat. I appreciate the time that you’ve generously given to our audience today. I look forward to hearing of the podcast that would be born as a result of the last hour and 20 minutes of podcast today.

Pat: Thank you, Darren, for the opportunity. Thank you for those of you who listened all the way through. I look forward to working with you.

Darren: Thanks man.

Wow, there’s a lot of good information in that one. I hope you’ve got as much value out of it as I did personally from talking to Pat today. Again, the show notes today are at problogger.com/podcast/211.

If you are interested in talking Pat’s course, I can highly recommend it to you. Head over to problogger.com/powerup. It’s only open for seven days though and if you are listening after the seven day window has closed, there will be an option there for you to sign up for a waitlist and be notified next time it goes live.

As I mentioned at the top of the show, Pat is also speaking at our Dallas event this year, Success Incubator. We’ve got a small group but a powerful group of speakers coming along to that event. There’ll be time for interacting with our speakers including Pat, Rachel Miller, who spoke in recent podcast and Kim Garst, who’s speaking about Facebook live.

I’ll be talking, doing the opening keynote on evolving your blog and business, so much more. We’ve got lots of masterminding opportunities too so head over to problogger.com/success to get information on that or just head to today’s show notes where there’ll be links to all of these things.

Lastly, I just want to be clear that I am an affiliate for Pat’s course. However, as you can tell from this interview, I’m also a raving fan and a good friend and I would be promoting whether it had the affiliate link or not. Just be clear, I do make a commission if you buy that but that’s how we keep this show going for free.

Thanks for listening today. I do hope you’ve got value out of it. I can’t wait to hear your podcast. If you start one because of this event, I want you to share it with us. Head over to the Facebook group and let us know about that podcast. There’ll be an opportunity to do that in our weekly wins thread.

Thanks for listening. Chat with you next week in episode 212.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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

Click Here to Subscribe to ProBloggerPLUS for Free

The post 211: Creating a Successful Podcast – Advice from Pat Flynn appeared first on ProBlogger.

      


ProBlogger

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

Comparing Email Service Providers for Bloggers

Email Service Providers for Bloggers

This is the third post in our Email Newsletter Series.

One major sticking point for most bloggers who are setting up a newsletter is deciding what email service to use. There are lots of different, competing, options out there, and there’s no one perfect solution.

Just in case you were thinking about it … don’t try to run a newsletter by emailing everyone through your regular email client, using the “BCC” field. If you email subscribers from your own gmail, yahoo, even @yourdomain.com email account, you put your own IP address at risk for being blacklisted by Internet Service Providers if you get flagged as spam.

That means all your emails – not just bulk emails sent to your subscribers but regular everyday communications – could have a hard time getting to anyone. Definitely not a situation you want to find yourself in. You also want to make sure you don’t unintentionally break any privacy or anti-spam laws or you could find yourself in even more trouble.

Why Use an Email Service Provider?

Most email services have quite similar features, including these basics which really do take away the headache of sending bulk emails by:

  • Sending out emails. Obviously you’ll want to be able to email your list whenever you like! Most services allow you to send unlimited emails – however, if you’re on a free or cheap plan, check the small print.
  • Complying with regulations by allowing email recipients to “unsubscribe” from your list and helping you avoid being reported as spam by automatically stop sending emails to bounces, blocked mailboxes, spam reporters or mis-spelled emails. This actually gives you better a better chance of getting to your subscribers’ inboxes through the email service’s established reputation as a sender
  • Reporting on email deliverability, open-rates and click-throughs to see what messages work and even enabling split-testing of one message versus another
  • Offering a load of advanced features including sign-up forms, scheduled sending, automated message sequences, tagging and segmenting your audience to target with different messages and fancy templates to help your emails look great

How to Choose an Email Service?

What email service is going to work for you depends on what you want out of a service and often what stage of blogging you are at. For instance, having a free or low monthly rate may be more important when you’re just starting out. Whereas a complex array of trigger-based autoresponders based on subscriber activity will be useful to convert your subscribers to become paying customers via an email sales funnel.

An easy trap to fall into is to start looking at email service providers before analysing your own needs and priorities. You can very quickly become overwhelmed by the array of choice and distracted by features that may not be necessary or even useful for you.

A few questions to ask yourself are:

  • In what direction do you think your blog will develop? Are you planning to monetize and in what ways?
  • How many subscribers do you have? What goals/objectives do you have for subscriber growth and over what time period?
  • What’s your budget? If you’re planning to monetize your blog, it’s easier to offset the cost of email against sales revenue.
  • Are you technically-minded? For example do you know how to use HTML code?
  • Is graphic design and using images important for your emails? If you’re a fashion, food or lifestyle blogger, this may be much more important than if you are writing about less visual subjects.
  • How much time do you have to set things up and devote ongoing to your email system?

Once you have a framework of your own requirements, it becomes much easier to sort through the different features and options to assess what email systems will work for you and whether there is one that suits you best.

The good news is that even if you change your mind at a later stage, it’s possible to switch from one service to another. Most will make it quite straightforward to export your subscriber database to move to a new supplier.

At ProBlogger, we have just finished the process of changing our email service provider. We have used AWeber for approximately 12 years, alongside Mailchimp on occasion and we continue to do so for my other blog Digital Photography School. We took our time to investigate other email options, trialling a couple of alternatives and working out what will also work best with other systems we’re using. You don’t need to spend as long as we did in this process, but do enough homework to work out what suits you best. I’m an affiliate for the programs we use and the following recommendations include our affiliate links.

Which Email Service Should You Use?

The following list is an overview of popular email service providers that we have personally trialled over a long time. Each of them have their own strengths and weaknesses and are suitable for bloggers with different priorities and at different stages. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but hopefully it’ll give you an idea of some of the key options for running an email list. We’ve also compiled a comparison table of key features you can use to benchmark other solutions.

MailChimp

This is free up to 1,000 subscribers, and used by a lot of newer bloggers to get up and running. Mailchimp offers a really friendly interface, making it easy to create good-looking emails using their nice templates with a drag and drop editor. The Basic version isn’t so feature-rich as other options, but does offer some neat integration with Facebook and Instagram. Mailchimp charges an extra $ 199/month for their Pro add-ons which give you more advanced tracking, targeting and automation.

RECOMMENDED FOR: MailChimp could be a good option if you’re (a) just starting out with email and have under 1,000 subscribers (b) visual presentation and images are important (c) not yet ready to use lots of detailed features like tagging.

ALTERNATIVE: You may also want to consider the newer MailerLite which is quite a bit cheaper (once you get past 1,000 subscribers) and offers a few extra features.

AWeber

This well-established service costs from $ 19/month for up to 500 subscribers, and has slightly different strengths and features from MailChimp. You can refer to our comparison table below for details. While AWeber’s user interface is a bit dated, it represents increasingly good value for money as your list grows and has useful functionality to take your email marketing up a notch. You can apply tags to your subscribers to segment them, trigger email campaigns and autoresponder sequences. AWeber also offers split-testing allowing you to test different subject line text or message content, even different sign-up forms to increase response rates. Otherwise, the AWeber reporting is a bit clunky to use and doesn’t measure much beyond open and click rates. AWeber do provide good customer service via phone, email and live chat which is above and beyond most providers who just give you an online library of resources.

RECOMMENDED: AWeber is a solid, no-frills option that has worked for many (ProBlogger included) for a long-time. It’s particularly cost-effective as you develop a large list to market to.

ConvertKit

“Built by bloggers for bloggers” is the tagline of this new kid on the email block. We trialled Convertkit early on and were impressed with the system’s simplicity and recently added functionality which suits ‘professional’ bloggers. If you want to segment your list in several different ways (e.g. based on what links an individual subscriber has clicked), Convertkit has hosted, customizable landing pages and opt-in forms that allow you a lot of tagging options along with easy to use trigger-based email automations and sequences. However, Convertkit only does text based email. There are no beautifully designed templates here (unless you code it yourself): the focus is on sending simple, straightforward content.

RECOMMENDED: If you can budget for it, ConvertKit allows a lot of power and flexibility, and works very well to deliver a sign-up incentive (e.g. a free .pdf) – this is integrated with the “confirmation” email, so when your subscriber clicks to get their freebie, they automatically confirm their email address too. It’s simplicity allows you to get up and running quickly and if you are switching to Convertkit with over 5,000 subscribers, they offer a complimentary migration service.

ALTERNATIVE: GetResponse offers similar features to Convertkit but with more of a visual focus giving you designed email templates and a stock image library.

Drip

Drip is a bit pricier than the other options we’ve covered so far ($ 83/month for 5,000+ subscribers) but it has more features and comes with a money-back guarantee. You can compare it with other options here – though note this is Drip’s own comparison tool. Ultimately ProBlogger decided on Drip as it gave us the best insights into our readers, beyond email activity. Drip enables us to identify how valuable subscribers are, scoring each individual as a lead and also tracking their activity over on the blog. We can follow up on these interests with very personalized automated email workflows. Many similarly powerful systems require you to hire a consultant to navigate their complexities, whereas Drip is straightforward enough to tackle yourself with great learning resources including a Facebook Group and a supportive customer service team to assist.

RECOMMENDED: If you have an established blogging business and are looking for a powerful but easy to use CRM-type system check out Drip.

ALTERNATIVE: There are quite a few solutions in this top-end category, but none of them are cheap. Leading options include ActiveCampaign, Ontraport and Infusionsoft.

Want a handy comparison of the options we’ve used and trialled? Download the ProBlogger Email Service Provider Comparison for Bloggers, based on most of the the same criteria we used to choose our email service provider.

Whichever service you pick, the important thing is that you choose something and get started on building your list. Hopefully, the options above have given you some ideas of what might suit you best.

Got your list set up but still feeling stuck? Don’t worry. Next week, I’ll be taking a look at seven common newsletter problems … and solving them for you.

The post Comparing Email Service Providers for Bloggers appeared first on ProBlogger.

      


ProBlogger

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

210: Launching a Blog: How Many Posts Do You Need?

How Many Live Posts Do You Need When You Launch Your Blog

Today, I want to answer a question almost every blogger asks when they start blogging: How many posts should I have live before I launch my blog?

It’s a common question I get, and while I’ve mentioned a few approaches in other episodes today I’m tackling the topic specifically.

So if you’re starting a blog for the first time, or thinking of starting a second blog, this podcast is for you.

Links and Resources



Full Transcript
Expand to view full transcript
Compress to smaller transcript view

Hi there. Welcome to episode 210 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse. I’m the blogger behind problogger.com – a blog, podcast, event, job board and a series of ebooks all designed to help you as a blogger to grow your blog, to start that blog, to grow it and to create content that’s going to help your audience. And then, hopefully to monetize that as well. You can learn more about ProBlogger and all we do over at problogger.com

In today’s episode, I want to talk about a question that I get asked quite regularly from readers of ProBlogger. In fact, it’s a question that all of us, bloggers, at one point or another ask ourselves, particularly when we’re starting our blog. The questions is this: “How many posts should I have live before I launch?” This is one of those common questions I get asked, and I have mentioned a few different approaches to this in previous episodes. Today I want to tackle that specifically as an episode. My view on this has changed slightly over the years, maybe slightly different from what you heard me talk about in the past. I’ll tell you a little bit more about why I’ve changed that as the show goes on.

If you’re starting a blog for the first time, or if you’re thinking of starting a second one, today’s episode is for you. You can find today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/210. Before I get into today’s teaching, two things I want to mention very briefly. Firstly, if you haven’t already joined our Facebook group, head over to problogger.com/group where there is almost 9,000 bloggers who are coming together every day to talk about their challenges, the wins that they’re having, the things that they’re learning and to ask questions as well. If you’ve got tips to share, or if you’ve got questions to ask, head over to problogger.com/group and answer the questions that we ask you to answer as you apply. That helps us to approve you faster.

The second thing I’ll mention just briefly is that I will be in Dallas co-hosting a special event for ProBlogger readers and listeners on the 24th and 25th of October. The event is called Success Incubator. It’s going to be a day and a half which we are packing, literally we’re packing every minute of this day, particularly on the first day and then the second half day. We’re teaching for bloggers and for online entrepreneurs. We’ve got speakers like myself, Pat Flynn, Kim Garst, Rachel Miller who you heard in the last episode about Facebook, Andrea Vahl, Steve Chou, Kim Sorgius and many more speakers as well. You’ll hear some of those speakers in upcoming episodes of this podcast as well.

If you want to grab a ticket for that event, they are limited. Head over to problogger.com/success. That’s an event that I’m co-hosting in Dallas on the 24th and 25th of October and I would love to see you there. Again, show notes today at problogger.com/podcast/210 and I hope you enjoy what I’ve got for you today.

The question of the day is, “How many posts should I have live before I launch my blog?” There are a few different thoughts that I want to run through today. The first one is that there is no right or wrong answer here, as is the case with many of the topics that we cover here. I can think of numerous successful bloggers who have taken extremely different approaches on their launch. In fact, I’ve had direct involvement with a few different blogs that take all kinds of different approaches. I’ll mention some of them today.

Your launch doesn’t define whether your blog is going to be successful and I’ll come back to finish on that topic today. I think it’s really important not to get so caught up on getting this perfect because sometimes that actually stops you from launching altogether. There are definitely some pros and cons for each of the approaches. It probably partly comes down to your personality type and what’s going to help you to get your blog launched. Some people just need to publish something and launch so that it gets done, while others are probably a little bit more strategic in their personality and arrive with a push through, getting a little bit more done before they hit launch.

There’s no right answer here. It’s going to come down partly to your situation, partly to your personality type as well, maybe even your topic which I’ll touch on in a moment too. Let’s look at the two main approaches and talk about the pros and cons of each. The first approach is where you just launch it already. This is what most bloggers do, I suspect. If I was to do a survey of the listeners of this podcast, I’ll suspect most of us do this first approach. This is what I’ve done in most occasions when I’ve launched a blog too.

I think back to my first blog, back in November 2002, it all happened very, very quickly. Massively impulsive actions from me on that particular day. I learned what a blog was and an hour later, I’d set one up and by the end of the day I’ve written a post and I’d spammed all my friends and family telling them about it. It was live. I was on the way as a blogger. Now there’s massive positives for me in doing it this way. I got it launched, that is the big positive for me. If I’ve been too strategic on that day, if I’d put too much time into thinking about what niche should my blog be about and mapping out an editorial calendar and thinking about all the topics and agonizing over writing a series of perfect launched posts, I would never have gotten it launched. It’s just not in my nature to put that much planning and forethought into it. I’m a spontaneous person, I’m an INFP on the mind brings personality type.

I think that probably is a perfect way for me, as that type of personality, to launch a blog. I needed to go with the flow, I needed to launch it and get it out there because by launching it, getting it out there, having people see it, respond to it, that gave me energy for my next post. My next posts were better because I got it out there really quickly. I know many bloggers who really need to take this approach because they’re the type of people that if I take too long thinking about it and planning it, it will never get launched. If you’re the type of person, maybe you’re a perfectionist and you know that if you allow yourself to get perfectionist about your launch, you’ll never get it launched.

Maybe you’re the type of person who needs to get something out there and then evolve it, get some response to it. Once it’s live, that’s going to give you energy. Certain types of personalities, that’s just going to be much better. There are the positives of that for me.

The negatives of this approach, of just launching it with one post, is that there is potential for not really capitalizing on that initial rush of visitors. Not that there’s probably going to be thousands of visitors, but those visitors that come, your friends and your family or your network, if that first post isn’t just right, then there’s some potential downsides of that.

In my case, as I look back on that first post, not that it’s live on the internet anymore because that blog doesn’t exist. That first post was me simply saying I’ve started blogging. I put no thought into it, I didn’t really know what blogging was. In hindsight, it was a very dull way to start a blog and it really wasn’t the type of post that would’ve inspired anyone to want to follow that blog at all. It was just me saying here’s a blog.

If I was taking this approach today with launching a blog and I just wanted to launch with one post, I would be making that post as useful as it possibly can be, a really solid piece of content that sets the tone for what the blog will be about going forward. That will give people a sense of curiosity and leave people thirsting for more of the type of content.

You really want to make sure that that post is high value, that it’s useful, that it’s in some way going to change those first reader’s lives in some way. An evergreen piece of content or something that we might call pillar stone or corner stone piece of content, or pillar content. In some ways this is what I actually did do when I started Digital Photography School. Before I launched Digital Photography School, I’d mapped out quite a few posts that I wanted to write. I think I actually brainstormed a list of 50 posts that I could write, and then I wrote my first post and published it. And then I told the world about it, I told my networks about it, I told my friends about it.

That particular blog, Digital Photography School, went live with one post. But I already planned the next post and the first post that went live, it wasn’t a “I started a blog”, it wasn’t a welcome post, it was a tutorial. It set the tone, it showed the world, those first readers who came, what that blog was going to be about. Not by telling them what it would be about but actually showing them the type of content that it would be. The first post was a tutorial and that’s what every post since then has been as well. I set the tone with that first useful piece of content. If I was to take this one-post launch strategy again, I will be starting with high value content. I wouldn’t be starting with a welcome to my blog type post. I would start with that useful piece of content. You might weave into that first post, a welcome, you might say welcome to my new blog. Let’s start with a tutorial on this or whatever it is that you are going to go on with. Don’t make that first post if you’re only launching with one welcome post.

The second approach is where you launch your blog with a few pieces of content already live. This is how Vanessa, my wife, launched her blog Style & Shenanigans. From memory, her blog went live on its first day before she told her all friends about it with three pieces of content already published. The first one was a welcome post. This is where you can write a welcome post. I think it’s totally fine to do a welcome post and to talk about what the blog is going to be about. But if that’s the only piece of content you go live with, that’s probably not a good thing. But Vanessa put that out there with two other pieces of content.

The two other posts that she published on that first day were useful pieces of content that set the tone for her blog and the two topics that she wrote about were the two main categories of her blog. If you’ve visited Vanessa’s blog, it’s called Style & Shenanigans. It’s about being stylish but also being a parent and the tension between those two things at times. The first post was a fashion post, it was about style. It was something about clothes, from memory. The second post was about travelling with kids, going to a particular area in the state that we live in.

Those two themes were there right from the start. Kids, being a parent, and also style and fashion. Her first day of launch had a taste of what was to come as well as that welcome post. I think that was a really nice way to start her blog. Because anyone showing up on her blog on that day got a taste for what was to come, they saw that it wasn’t just about fashion, it wasn’t just about being a parent, it was about a variety of things. In her welcome post she actually mentioned some of the other topics that she wanted to explore as well.

She also had a few other posts that she’d already written on day one as well but she hadn’t published them yet. They sat there in her drafts. I think from memory, her first week of publishing, she actually published five or six posts. She had almost a daily post coming out. All of those first posts were already written. I think that’s also a very smart way to go about it too, because in that first week, you do need to spend some time promoting and responding to comments that are left. It can be a tough time to write content because you are still getting used to promoting your content and trying to work out how to moderate comments and all those types of things. Having those posts there in reserve was really useful. She just had to hit publish on those posts to get that back content going.

That enabled her to also build a bit of momentum on that first week as well. There was a daily post and she actually scaled that back after the first week. She went back after the first week to three posts a week. That’s what she’s done ever since. Start with a bit of a bang and then scaled it back a little bit.

The positives of this type of approach is that when people did come on that first day, they saw it wasn’t just a fashion blog, it wasn’t just a blog about parenting, it gave them a taste of what was to come as well. It also showed them that there was a few things that they could dig around and have a look at. Sometimes if you launch a blog with just one post, if that post isn’t perfect for the person who does come to your blog, there’s nothing else for them to go on and read. By having two or three posts there, it did give her readers a few things to do. They were hanging around, taking in the brand, taking in the idea of the blogger a little bit longer as well. I really liked her having those extra posts ready to go.

The negative of this type of approach, of having more than one post already published, is firstly, there is more work involved in that. She had to write three posts before she hit launch and she actually had those other posts already written as well. Five or six posts already written, that’s a fair bit of work, particularly when you’re a new blogger and you’re not used to producing content. That could have killed her enthusiasm, it could have stopped the momentum before she even started. However, in Vanessa’s case, she is an incredibly driven person, she’s very disciplined and she’s a strategic planner type of person as well. Again, it suited her personality type to do that. She wasn’t going to allow that work to stop her from launching. It didn’t hold her back.

I guess the other negative of starting with more than one post is that, if you start with too many posts, people are less likely to see all of the posts that you’ve written. It does take time and energy to write a blog post and to launch with three. It might reduce the chances of people reading all of those three. In some ways, you might be investing time into writing content that not everyone is going to see. Maybe there’s a negative there.

There are the two main approaches: launch with one, launch with more than one. I guess there’s no real other alternative there. I will mention a third approach. This is something that I did when I launched ProBlogger. ProBlogger was a little bit different because I actually started writing about blogging and making money from blogs on a previous blog to ProBlogger. My first personal blog had about 30 categories. One of those categories was blogging. I wrote on that first personal blog even back in 2003, 2002, I started to write about my journey in making money from blogging.

That blogging category already had 30 or so posts in it on my personal blog. When I launched ProBlogger, what I did is I took the best of that content, the evergreen content from my old blog and I put it onto ProBlogger. ProBlogger actually launched with about 60 posts. I’d written 60 posts on that topic. When I launched ProBlogger, I had those 60 posts there. What I did in the old blog, the post that I had taken to put into ProBlogger, I set up redirect. If anyone landed on those posts on my old URL, that will redirect them into the new ProBlogger.

I don’t think I would ever launch a blog with 60 posts ever again. But there were some advantages of doing it. Firstly, traffic began to flow very quickly over into ProBlogger because of those redirects that I’d set up. That was a good thing if you do have a personal blog and you do want to take a category and launch it. I would definitely recommend setting up some redirects because you will get some traffic across into those archives straight away. Also, when people arrived on ProBlogger from day one, the new readers who never come across me before who might have randomly showed up on my blog, it actually looked pretty comprehensive. They arrived on this brand new blog and suddenly there were 60 articles there. It looked like I’d already been around for a while. That helped to build some credibility quickly, as well.

I do remember, on the first day of that blog, some readers leaving comments saying, “Wow! You know a lot about this topic.” And, “I’ve never heard of you before, but wow.” It did create an impression, having more posts up there. I guess the downside of that is that not all those posts got read. Those new readers who came, 60 posts is a lot of content to read through on the first day of a blog. A lot of that content didn’t get read by the new readers as well. Sixty was probably overkill on that front. But because I’d already written it, they were already sitting there on another blog, it didn’t really cost me any extra time to do that.

There are few different approaches for you. Which one’s right for you? As I hinted earlier, it’s probably going to come partly down to your personality type. If you’re like me, you’re a spontaneous person, you’re energized by seeing something launched, then maybe launching with one post is good. If you’re a perfectionist who might get held back from actually launching at all because you feel like your launch has to be perfect, maybe you just want to launch something that’s not perfect then just get something out there to get over that hump that might hold you back. A one post launch might be a good thing for you. If you’re a driven person, if you’re a disciplined person, somebody who likes to just be strategic, someone who likes to plan things out, that actually might give you more energy. Maybe having some posts already published, and having others already written, like Vanessa did, is the right approach for you.

Also, if you have a blog that’s got lots of topics or a breadth of topics like Vanessa’s, it might be worth launching with two or three posts as well to give your readers a taste for the different things that are going to come as well.

The key though, whichever approach you take, is to make that first post or those first posts as useful and amazing as they can be. Use your first post to set the tone, to show that you know what you’re writing about. And to serve your readers, make them useful. Do something in that first post or those first posts that’s going to change your first readers’ lives some way. This is what’s going to make an impression upon them and this is what’s going to make them want to come back again and again. That is the key to this, whatever approach you take.

The last thing I’ll say, if you are still stewing over these decision, maybe you’re going “I still don’t know which way to go”. The last thing I’ll say to you is that ultimately, it doesn’t really matter. I’ve never ever heard a blogger who talked about having major regrets on how many posts they had live on the first day of their live. I’ve never heard anyone complain that they did the wrong thing and most bloggers look back on those first posts and they cringe a little at the awkwardness of their writing or maybe they were a bit naïve, maybe they made some mistakes but most bloggers give little thought to that first day after it actually happens.

What really matters is what you do after the launch. That’s what’s so much more important. It’s what comes next after the launch. Don’t let this decision hold you back, and don’t let it stress you out. It’s what comes next that really matters, it’s the consistent publishing of new content after your launch, it’s the efforts you put into promoting that content, it’s the way in which you engage with the readers who come to your blog, but ultimately that’s what really matters. It’s not what happens on day one. Don’t let this decision hold you back, don’t let it stress you out too much. I’d much prefer you put something out there to launch, throw yourself into it and then get on with blogging. That’s what really matters. Actually, launch something, and then get on with blogging.

I hope you find that this is useful. Again, you can find today’s show notes where you can leave a comment and let us know what you did or what you will do defiantly over at problogger.com/podcast/210 or over in the Facebook group. If you want to head over to problogger.com/group, you’ll be redirected into the group where we do discuss every show that comes out on the podcast. Lastly, if you’ve got a moment and you would like to give us a review on iTunes, it does help us to get our word out about the ProBlogger show to the wider audience and a five-star review certainly helps. It gives me a little bit of a buzz as well, but also spend a moment or two and let us know what you like about the ProBlogger podcast as well. That does help others to join in on the fun but also gives me the feedback that I need to make this show better for you as well.

Thanks for listening today and I’ll be back in touch with you next week on the 211th episode of the ProBlogger Podcast.

If you’re still here and you’re looking for something else to do, head back to the last couple of shows, 209 was one of my favorite episodes. I interviewed Rachel Miller, who is one of the speakers at the Dallas event. She talked to us about five things you can do on your Facebook page that don’t cost you a cent, that will bring more engagement to help you to get more organic reach. Back in Episode 208, I did a bit of a tour of my smartphone and iPad and talked about some of the apps that I love and that helped me in my blogging.

The other thing you might want to go and have a look at is the Facebook Live that I recorded last week on the ProBlogger page. I’ll link to it in today’s show notes. In that, I talked about one of those apps that I talked about in Episode 208, Adobe Spark. I actually illustrate how I use Adobe Spark to create social graphics and also videos. If you want to check out that Facebook Live, I will link to that on the show notes as well. Again, today’s show notes, problogger.com/podcast/210. Dig around in the archives, head over to iTunes and dig around. There’s plenty of episodes there and I’d love to get your feedback on those as well. Thanks for listening.

Before I go, I want to give a big shout out and say thank you to Craig Hewitt and the team at Podcast Motor who’s been editing all of our podcasts for some time now. Podcast Motor have a great range of services for podcasters at all levels. They can help you set up your podcast but also offer a couple of excellent services to help you to edit your shows and get them up with great show notes. Check them out at podcastmotor.com.

Thanks for listening, chat with you next week.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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

Click Here to Subscribe to ProBloggerPLUS for Free

The post 210: Launching a Blog: How Many Posts Do You Need? appeared first on ProBlogger.


ProBlogger

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

Should You Disable Comments on Your Blog?

This is a post by ProBlogger expert Ali Luke

When you started out blogging, you were probably thrilled when you got a comment. People were reading your posts, and cared enough to leave their own thoughts.

As time went by, you probably found some of the comments very useful. Maybe they sparked off an idea for a different post, or gave you a perspective you wouldn’t have otherwise considered.

But if you’ve been blogging for a long time, and your blog gets a lot of traffic, those comments may be starting to become less of a delight and more of a chore.

Responding to five comments on every post might take only ten minutes, so it’s no big deal. But responding to fifty could take you the best part of an hour.

If you write two posts a week, that’s two hours you’re spending on comments. You could have written another blog post in that time.

Even if you hire someone to respond on your behalf, you’re still paying for their time. And that money could probably be better spent getting help with something else.

So it’s no surprise that some people who run large blogs decide not to have comments at all.

This isn’t a new thing. Way back in 2005, Steve Pavlina closed comments on his self-development blog. In 2006, Seth Godin closed comments on his business blog.

In recent years, it’s become something of a trend. I’ve seen several blogs I read (avidly!) close their comments sections.

Copyblogger removed their comments in 2014, and then brought them back in 2016.

Michael Hyatt removed comments from his blog in 2015, and then brought them back a year later.

A few months ago one of my very favourite bloggers, Carol Tice from Make a Living Writing, decided to close comments on her blog. I’ve often glanced through the comments there, and I was always impressed by how often and how thoughtfully Carol responded. But I completely understand that it wasn’t sustainable.

What about your blog? Should you stop taking comments altogether? Or do you think blogs should have comments?

Deciding What to Do About Comments

When you launch a blog, chances are comments are enabled by default. It’s easy to run with them enabled, but there’s no rule that says blogs must have comments.

Here are a few things you might want to think about.

  • What value do you get from comments? Does your blog attract thoughtful, engaged readers who leave comments that spark off great ideas for you? Or are most of the comments spam or very short comments that don’t really add any value?
  • Are you happy with how much time you currently spend moderating / answering comments? You may well be. On my Aliventures blog I post only once a week, and rarely spend more than ten minutes a week answering comments. This is perfectly sustainable for me.
  • Would your readers prefer to interact with you in a different location (e.g. on your Facebook page)? Obviously there are pros and cons to doing this. But some blogs encourage readers to leave feedback on social media platforms instead of (or as well as) commenting on posts themselves.
  • Do you get worried or stressed over comments? Even if it doesn’t take you long to respond to comments, they can still cause a lot of anxiety – especially if you’re writing in a niche where readers tend to be snarky or critical.

There are no right or wrong answers here, and different bloggers will come to different conclusions about what to do. For a couple of useful perspectives, take a look at:

Blog Commenting Isn’t Dead – It’s Different, Charlie Gilkey, Productive Flourishing

This is a thoughtful, detailed look at comments and whether or not we should disable them on blogs, along with an in-depth explanation about the “Campfire” (a thriving Facebook group Charlie runs for his readers) and the role it plays in encouraging conversations.

Do Comments Actually Increase Your Search Traffic? A Data-Driven Answer, Neil Patel, Quick Sprout

This post digs deep into whether comments benefit your blog in terms of search engine traffic, and concludes that they have a small impact. (Obviously, you might be looking for different benefits from comments.)

Of course, removing comments doesn’t have to be a decision you make once and stick to forever. Like Copyblogger and Michael Hyatt, you may want to experiment with removing comments for… say, a year. You can always re-enable them.

If you don’t want to switch off comments completely, but want to reduce how much time you spend dealing with them, you might want to think about:

#1: Installing a Robust Anti-Spam Plugin

Removing spam comments can take up a lot of time. (And if you don’t weed them out promptly, they make your site look bad). To save yourself a lot of effort, install a good anti-spam plugin such as Akismet. It  will remove almost all spam comments before you even see them.

#2: Closing Comments on Older Posts

There’s no rule that says you need to leave comments open forever. Many large blogs close comments on older posts after a set period of time (e.g. two weeks, one month, etc.) Readers can all join in the discussion when the post first goes live, but readers who stumble across it a year later won’t be able to comment. This can cut down on spam, and means you have a smaller number of conversations to keep track of at any given time.

You can change this under Settings –> Discussion in your WordPress dashboard. Look for the line that says “Automatically close comments on articles older than (X) days” and set (X) to whatever you want.

#3: Using Disqus or Facebook Comments (or Another Plugin)

While many bloggers are happy with WordPress’ built-in commenting functionality, others prefer to use a different system. Disqus and Facebook Comments are both popular, though there are other options as well.

For a look into the pros and cons of each, check out James Parson’s post Facebook vs Disqus vs WordPress Comments: Which to Use?

Ultimately, what you do about comments is entirely up to you.

Some bloggers have strong opinions, and feel that comments are a defining feature of a blog. But most people are fairly pragmatic about it, and agree that comments are valuable. They add to the discussion, can bring in interesting ideas / alternative perspectives, and create a greater sense of “buy in” for readers. They can even potentially help with search engine traffic by providing extra content.

But comments also come at a cost – your time and attention – and it’s up to you to decide whether they’re worth it.

Do you currently have comments enabled on your blog or not? Are you thinking about changing this? Let us know your thoughts below.

The post Should You Disable Comments on Your Blog? appeared first on ProBlogger.

      


ProBlogger

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

203: How to Approach Influencers in Your Niche

how to reach out to influencers in your niche

How to Connect With Influencers in Your Niche

Today I want to share some teaching on how to approach influencers and other well known people in your niche (or outside it too).

One of the most powerful ways to grow your profile, audience and brand is to connect with others in your niche. The benefits of doing it can be many and varied – the opportunities that flow from these interactions can be pretty cool for the growth of your blog….

BUT doing it the wrong way can also hurt your blog and brand – so I want to share what NOT to do.

Links and Resources for How to Approach Influencers in Your Niche



Full Transcript
Expand to view full transcript
Compress to smaller transcript view

Good day there. My name is Darren Rowse. I’m the blogger behind ProBlogger.com – a blog, podcast, event, job board, and a series of eBooks, all designed to help you as a blogger to grow an amazing blog, to create great content that’s going to change the life of your readers and to build profit around that blog too. You can learn more about ProBlogger and our upcoming events over at problogger.com.

In today’s episode, episode number 203, I want to share some teaching on how to approach influencers and other well known people in your niche or even outside your niche too. Some of what I’m going to share today actually works really well on a personal level if you admire a comedian, or a musician, or that type of person as well.

One of the most powerful ways to grow your profile, and your audience, and brand is to connect with others in your niche, particularly those who are prominent themselves. The benefits of doing this can be many and varied. The opportunities that can flow from these interactions can be pretty cool for the growth of your blog, but doing it the wrong way can also hurt your blog and brand as well.

Today, I want to share some things to do, the approach that I take with approaching influencers but also some things not to do.

You can find today’s show notes over at problogger.com/podcast/203 where I will share some further reading as well. There’ll also be links on the show notes to our Facebook group, which you can find at problogger.com/group, a thriving group and community of bloggers. We’ve got some new things going in there at the moment which I’ll tell you about at the end of the podcast today.

Also, you’ll find on our show notes today the last chance to get tickets for our Aussie events which are happening in the next few days in Brisbane and Melbourne. You can find more details on those Australian events at problogger.com/events and our Dallas event in Dallas, Texas later in the year, in October at problogger.com/success.

Now, let’s talk about approaching influencers in your niche. Today, we’re talking about how to connect with influencers in your niche. Today’s podcast really comes about after earlier in the week, I listened to a Facebook Live talk by someone else. I’m not going to mention who they are because I’m going to critique what they say. This person was talking about this very topic, how to leverage influencers to grow your blog.

Now, the topic is a good one. As I said at the top of the show, I think that getting to know other people in your niche can bring many benefits to your blog. It’s not just about growing traffic and them sending you traffic. It’s also about growing your profile, growing your credibility, making friends, and helping them as well. It’s a mutual thing in my mind. But after 15 minutes of listening to this Facebook Live, I found myself getting very frustrated, and the reason for this was that the person described a system, a systematized approach that was incredibly formulaic and it was anything but personal.

They actually used a tool to run all of their approaches. The tool I’m not going to name because I really don’t believe in this approach. But the tool itself allowed you to create a sequence of emails that is going to be sent to influencers to get their attention. The emails were all set up ahead of time and depending upon whether the influencer responded to you, it would then send them more emails at different intervals. You can set them up for every 24 hours or every 48 hours.

For example, the first email might be a friendly introductory email where you mention that you’re a fan of their site. If they don’t respond to that, a second email might be, “You might have missed my last email.” The third one might be something funny but a little bit more direct to about, “Why you were ignoring my emails?” The fourth one could be a more direct one, perhaps even strongly worded that you’re disappointed that they didn’t respond.

The person who was teaching this system actually had these templates. As he went through them, I recognized the emails because I get these emails everyday. If the influencer responds at any point, then you can have other emails in the system that you go back, these canned responses asking them to do whatever it is that you’re trying to get them to do. Or you can take over and get a little bit more personal with your responses at that point.

As I listened to this presentation, on some levels, it made sense. I could see how it might work in some cases but what annoyed me most about it was that this person said that once you’ve got this email setup, that you can then scale it and then you can put in 10, or 20, or 100 influencer’s names and email addresses and then get this system going with hundreds of people at once. All you have to do is add in their first name and their site’s URL and then email address and it will just take over and it will run the system for you.

As he described this, it made me remember all the emails that I’ve received that have been the same templated formulaic response. The person doing the Facebook Live said, “If you buy this product,” and it was hundreds of dollars to get this and it was a monthly product as well, they also include all the email addresses of influencers as well, which annoyed me even more because I know I’m on some of those lists. I was pretty annoyed with this presentation.

I guess the main reason that I was annoyed is that I get these emails everyday. I can spot them a mile off. Whilst I didn’t know the name of the tool, I could see what was going on. It might be that these emails are slightly personalized. They usually have my name. Sometimes, they don’t. Sometimes, they say, “Insert name here.” You can see that they forgot to insert the name. They might have my site’s URL but they’re obviously not personal.

When they come at predetermined intervals, every 48 hours in a sequence, I simply trash them and mark them as spam. I don’t like to do that because I like to reply to emails that I get. I do as much as I can. It begins to clutter the inbox and I get 10 or so of these everyday and it wastes a lot of my time.

Here’s the thing though. I know that the bulk of people who are sending those emails and buying these very expensive tools have good intentions. I know some people listening to this podcast probably use them as well. They’re being sold these tools, which can be very expensive and promised amazing results but without knowing it, I know these good people who are using these tools are potentially hurting their brand.

Here’s what I want to say today, is that there are better ways to do it. I talk to big influencers. I’m a small fry but I talk to big influencers and what I experienced personally is just the tip of the iceberg. I spoke to one big influencer last week. He actually asked me not to mention his name but he told me that he gets over 100 emails everyday that are the same formulaic approaches. Many times he looks at the emails and can see that people haven’t even bothered to customize the emails. They’re exactly the same for multiple people. They’re using the swipe files.

It was interesting to chat with him because whilst he was really angry about getting all of these emails and wasting so much time, on the other hand he said, “It’s actually not that hard to get on my radar.” He’s actually someone who is very easy to get in touch with, someone who has collaborated with people many times over who have approached him the right way. But people who go this new automated route never, ever succeed with him. He just trashes them. He marks their emails as spam. It really doesn’t build their brand at all to approach him in this way.

I actually asked this influencer if I could interview him for this particular podcast and he was a bit hesitant to do that because he didn’t want to trigger hate amongst people who were using those tools and he also didn’t want to trigger a flood of people trying to approach him because he’s a very busy guy. He did give me some advice. I’ve compiled it into today’s topic and added some of my own thoughts as well. I really do genuinely hope that these help you, for those of you who are trying to reach out to influencers.

Let me go through some of these tips. The first one is to have realistic expectations. Let me start by saying that whether you use the automation route or whether you take the approach that I’m going to talk about today, not all influencers are going to respond to you. They get a lot of approaches and they have a lot of interactions everyday.

The person that I am actually talking about, this anonymous influencer that I’m basing today’s podcast on, he has over a million social media connections. In fact, there’s several million when you add all the networks together. He gets a ton of approaches everyday, not only the automated one, but other ones as well. He does actually interact at a remarkable level. I just looked at his Twitter account. He replied to over 100 people today in the last 24 hours on Twitter so he’s interacted a lot there. He also did a one hour Q&A session on Facebook Live today.

He does a lot of interacting but even at that level of interaction, he tells me that he’s aware he can’t get back to everyone. He feels bad about it. Now, not at all influencers come anywhere near what this influencer does. They’re busy people. They get approached all day, everyday so don’t be surprised if you either hear nothing back or you might get a response back that isn’t what you hoped for. They may be shutting you down in some way, or are saying no to you, or maybe you got something bad from an assistant and not them personally.

But don’t let this stop you. You never know who you can interact with. Make the approach and try to build a relationship with these influencers but know that not all of them are capable. They just don’t have enough hours in the day in many cases. Don’t let it stop you making the approach but also go in with realistic expectations.

As I said at the top of the show, I’ve actually had some amazing interactions over the years with people that I never thought would respond to me, people in my niches who are much bigger than me, movie stars, singers, comedians, business people, really a variety of different people who I thought would probably ignore my approach but who did get back to me. It’s amazing how approachable people are. It’s amazing how interactive some people are but go into it with realistic expectations and knowing it may not work the way that you expected it. That’s my number one tip. Be realistic.

Number two, don’t stalk. Don’t be stalker. All of what I’m going to share with you today is about being useful, it’s about helping influencers, it’s about reaching out and helping to give them a win, about helping them to achieve what they want to achieve. But if you’re not careful, some of what I’m going to share today can look a little bit like stalking. Yes, be enthusiastic, reach out, but be aware of not overstepping boundaries and maybe have an accountability buddy that you share what you’re doing with them, bounce your ideas around so that they can maybe say to you, “Hey, that’s starting to look a bit stalker-ish.” Just be aware that when you are reaching out, people are willing to interact with you but don’t overstep the boundaries. I’ll touch on that a few times during today’s episode.

Number three tip is to be someone worth knowing, which sounds a little bit odd. When you reach out to someone, the chances are that before they respond, particularly if you’re asking them something, asking them to do something, or approaching them in a personal way, many times, before they reply to you, they will do a bit of digging. They will check out who you are. They will do some research. They might check out your blog. They might look on your social media accounts. They’re going to want to know who this person is that’s making an approach.

I guess the question I want to ask is what are they going to find? Perhaps the best thing you can do before you start reaching out to people is to build something worth being found. Show that you’re a genuine person, that you’re a credible person, that you’re a trustworthy person, that you have expertise perhaps, or that other people like you. Build some social proof. I know this is hard if you’re just starting out. You can’t just conjure this stuff up but the more that you can show that you’re a worthwhile person, that you’re worth being known in some way, the more likely they are to respond in a positive way. This takes time to build of course.

Even if it’s your Twitter account, does your Twitter account look good? When they look at your Twitter account, are they going to see you complaining all the time about things? Are they going to see you talking about the topic that they’re interested in? You can think about what are they going to think when they dig a little bit deeper? Work hard at creating a great blog or a great podcast, a great Twitter account, a great whatever it is that you do so that when they do a little bit of digging, they will be interested, they’ll be intrigued. They will see you as a potentially credible source of information and worth being known.

This is all before you even make the approach. This is something just to keep working on, I guess.

Number four tip is to know them before you know them. That is to do a little bit of research, to do a little bit of preparation. Most of what I’m going to share today can be helped a lot by doing a little bit of work before you make the approach. Try to understand who the person is. Try to understand what their goals are, what their motives are, knowing a little bit about their history. What is their story? What are their values? What do they like? What do they dislike? Knowing all of these things will help you to create a better impression and to serve them better. It will inform the approach that you take.

Do a little bit of digging. Look at their social media accounts. Read their blog if they’ve got one. Listen to their podcast. Try to understand who they are underneath the fact that they’re an influencer. Again, this is one of those areas you don’t want to be stalking them. You don’t want to be trying to hack into their Facebook account or getting too personal, but having an understanding of who they are is going to go a long way.

The other thing that’s a part of this is to do a little bit of research into where they engage most. This is really important. They might have a Twitter account but do they engage on their Twitter account or are they using it more to broadcast? They may actually prefer to do their engaging on LinkedIn, or they may prefer to do their engagement in Facebook group, or they may prefer to do it via Facebook Live. Really, most influencers have a variety of social media accounts but if you go and do some analysis, you’ll find that they have a preferred place that they like to interact.

Sometimes, they communicate this. Sometimes, if you look at their contact page on their blog, they might say, “Hey, I hang out in this Facebook group a lot. Come and ask me questions there.” Sometimes, you need to do a little more digging as well.

I’m a good example of this. I have a lot of social media accounts. I don’t use Instagram very much at all. I do have the account there. When I go on holidays, I tend to post more there but I don’t tend to interact much there. I’ve got a Twitter account where I interact a little bit more but for me, Facebook is where I interact more: Facebook group, Facebook Lives that I do on certain times at the week as well. If you were to dig into me, you would find that Facebook is probably a better place to begin to build those relationships. I’m trying to communicate that more and more as well to help people to find me where I’m most accessible.

Do a bit of research into who the person is.

Once you’ve done that research, one of the key things that you should be thinking about is what are the goals of this influencer? How can I serve them? I guess the fifth thing that I want to say is to serve. Serve first, ask later would be the tip that I’d give you. In your research, what are they trying to achieve? What are their goals? What are their passions? What are the outcomes that they are looking for? Most influencers, it’s fairly obvious what they’re trying to achieve. There might be an offer. They’re probably trying to sell more books. They may be a podcaster. They’re probably trying to get more listeners to their podcast.

Begin to think about what is it that they want, what is a win for them, and how can I give them a win in some way. Some of the wins that online influencers are wanting are going to be pretty obvious. For example, if they’re a blogger, most of them are going to want to increase their reach. They’re going to want either more traffic, or a bigger audience, or a bigger profile. That’s something that most online influencers are going to want. That doesn’t come and go. It’s just something that they all typically want.

Most online influencers want engagement. Most online influencers want some kind of conversion, some sort of monetization. They’re trying to sell something whether it’s a product, or a service, or getting people to a website where they convert by getting people to look at their ads. Most online influencers are also trying to create content. These are things that influencers are interested in. I guess the question is how can you serve them? How can you help them to achieve those goals? I’m going to dig into those things in a moment.

There are also other times in an influencers life where they will want something specific, something that’s a little bit more time sensitive, that they may be looking for a particular outcome over the next week or over the next month. These are really key things to latch into and to understand. Are they launching a new book? Are they launching a new product or a new service? Are they supporting a not for profit project that they’re passionate about? Are they launching a new social media account or exploring a new medium that they’re trying to get more traction on? Maybe they’re launching a YouTube account or they just started doing Facebook Lives.

When influencers are starting new things or they’re promoting something specific, two things happen. One, they get really busy but two, they often become very open to being approached if you can help them with that particular thing. If you noticed an influencer doing something time specific, this can, at times, be a great time to approach them. They may be more open to engaging in some way if you are in a position to help them with an outcome that they’re looking for. Be aware of their ongoing wins that they’re looking for, the outcomes that they’re looking for, but also, be really aware of those key times when they’re about to launch something. Often, they’ll tell you when it’s coming.

I was looking at one online influencer the other day and he said he’s got a new course coming out next month. That’s a signal that maybe I should be reaching out to him and saying, “Hey, I noticed you’ve got this launch coming up. Can I interact with you? Can I support you in that in some way?” Be aware of those types of things. What I want to do now is just look at some of those objectives that an influencer might have. Some of them are more of the ongoing ones. Hopefully, this will give you a few more tangible tactical things that you can do, although I hesitate to use that word, tactical, because I really do want this to be about relationship.

Don’t systematize it. Don’t see this as a tactic. Actually be a good human being and build a relationship with them in some ways because ultimately, that’s going to give you and the other person the biggest win and it’s going to be a lot more fun and satisfying along the way as well.

What are some of the objectives that an influencer might have that you could help with? The first one might be that they are looking for engagement. They might want more engagement in some way. The influencer might be a blogger. They might be a podcaster. They might be a video blogger, doing a live video. In all of this cases, one of the things they want is people to engage with what they do. It’s just not satisfying as a blogger or a live video to create great content and to have no one interact with it in any way.

One of the simplest things that you can do is to comment. Leave comments, leave replies on their blog posts. Reply to their social media. Don’t just say that was good, nice post. Go the extra mile by being constructive, by adding something to what they’re doing. If they ask questions, answer the questions. If they’re teaching something, give some examples of their teaching. Ask questions of them.

One of the things that I think can really get on people’s attention is when you go above and beyond with the comments that you leave. I can think back a number of times over the last year where people have gone above and beyond leaving comments on my blog, on my Facebook, in the Facebook group, actually showing that they are not just reading and saying nice posts but that they’re actually interested in engaging in some way. That’s one of the most satisfying things for a blogger, a podcaster, or someone on social media.

Be highly engaged. Add to the conversation in some way. That’s great. Being a highly engaged audience member is great but you can actually take this further when it comes to this idea of helping someone to build engagement. You can actually help them to build community as well. One of the things I’ve noticed is that there’s real opportunity to join in and help influencers build this community around what they’re doing.

Let me give you a really good example of this. This is about six or seven years ago. I noticed a blogger was running a Twitter chat. It was a Twitter chat that was fairly well attended in their particular niche and I decided to join in on that Twitter chat. This blogger had never run a Twitter chat before and so I decided to make myself an unofficial community manager for this Twitter chat. I know I didn’t tell the blogger I was doing it and I didn’t want to be too over the top with it so I kind of restrained myself a little bit.

But I decided I was going to ask some good questions and I was going to respond to as many people as I could in that Twitter chat. My goal is not to build my profile. My goal was to make it the best Twitter chat that it could possibly be. At the end of the Twitter chat, the other blogger messaged me privately and said, “Hey, that was amazing. Could you come back next week to do it as well?”

They didn’t actually know me from ProBlogger. They didn’t know my profile whatsoever. It was actually completely off topic and random that I was on this particular Twitter chat but I had participated in Twitter chats before. I knew what made a good Twitter chat and so I decided just to be the best participant in that community that I could.

By me doing that, it actually drew others into the conversation. They actually really value that. If someone’s doing a Facebook Live, don’t just leave comments answering their questions or asking them questions. Take notice of the other people on the chat and respond to their questions. Say, “Yeah, that’s a good idea.” Not just to the person doing the Facebook Live, but to other people who are commenting as well. Ask them questions. Try and engage them. Welcome them into the community.

You want to be a little bit careful here. You can go too far with this. This is where you can be seen to be almost trying to take over someone else’s community. You want to be very careful there. Don’t stalk them. Don’t come across in a way that you’re just trying to build your own profile. You want to be really careful that you’re being seen as someone who’s serving that community in some way.

Another thing that could work at this kind of juncture is to actually volunteer in some way. It maybe after you’ve done some of this type of thing and try to build engagement, you might want to reach out to the influencers and say, “Hey, I’ve really enjoyed your Facebook Lives. Would it be helpful if someone was to assist you in them in some way? I’m happy to volunteer my time.” Or maybe it’s a Twitter chat, “I’m happy to participate in that. Could I prepare some questions for you? Can I serve you in any way to help you to make that Twitter chat run better?” It may be that it’s better to participate and then volunteer to take on those type of roles as well.

Another role that you might want to volunteer to participate in is to moderate in the Facebook group as well, although you probably want to be a good, active member of the community before you’d make that kind of volunteering offer.

Help someone to build engagement I guess is the first thing that is going to help them to have a win. Another thing that many influencers are trying to do is to build traffic and reach to build their profile. This is a goal that most online influencers want to achieve so how can you help them to do that? You may not have a massive audience yourself. You may not think that you’re going to be able to send them any traffic but even you attempting to help them can be a powerful thing, something that’s going to get on their radar.

A few practical things that you can do to help them to grow their audience, share their stuff, share their content, retweet their tweets if you think it’s going to be relevant to your audience, and take their blog posts and share them on your social media, link to them from your blog. You may even want to reach out to them and ask, “Can I interview you on my blog to introduce you to my audience?” Sometimes, that may not be possible. They might not be willing to invest the time into an interview but even just sending them a simple question that you get their opinion on, a one question interview, “Hey, could you answer this question? I would use it in my blog.” Those types of things expose your audience to this particular influence and help them to grow their profile.

If they’re not interested in that type of interview type of thing, maybe just do a case study on them. Maybe you can find enough information on what they’ve done and what they’ve achieved in the past so you can write a case study on who they are, how they’ve grown their business, how they’ve grown their influence. You might find a quote and use one of their quotes in your articles.

Link to them from other places. Maybe you write guest posts for other blogs. Don’t just link in your guest posts to your own content, link to other influencers. This happened to me a few years ago now. A blogger that I’ve never heard of before wrote a post in a big business publication. It was a guest post. It wasn’t something that were paid for. That link in their article, I think it was from Businessweek or Forbes, one of those, that sent a ton of traffic across to my site. This blogger could never have sent me that much traffic but by getting an article in a bigger publication and linking to me from that, they certainly got on my radar. You’re writing guest posts, don’t promote yourself, promote other people. See that as an opportunity to help someone else achieve their goals as well.

Maybe giving a talk, a presentation, mention these influencers in those talks as well. It’s amazing how many times people will tweet the influencer that you’re talking about in a talk on those occasions. It may be that you can introduce that influencer to someone else that they need to meet, that might help them. Be a connector. Perhaps, you can’t send them traffic directly but perhaps, you could suggest to another blogger that they link to something that this person has written. Actually be the connector. Help to set them up in some way.

Maybe you could recommend that someone in mainstream media interview them. I remember years ago now, a reader of Digital Photography School, when I was just starting out that blog, they got me an interview in The New York Times. Just as I was starting my blog, this reader thought I was doing something interesting and so they sent a random email to a reporter at The New York Times and that reporter emailed me and asked me to interview me. Maybe you could be that type of person to help them to grow in some way.

Help them to build their audience. When you do these types of things, let them know what you’re doing. You don’t need to boast about it, but if you’ve linked to them in your blog, if you’ve linked to them in a guest post, just send them an email or send them a message saying, “Hey, I mentioned you here.” That is enough. That will get on their radar. Send them a quick message, those types of things.

The accumulation of all those little things that you can be doing, that actually has a big impact. If the influencer is trying to sell something, how can you help them to sell more of that thing? Maybe you could become an affiliate, maybe you could write a review of their products and services, maybe you can recommend their product on social media, but here’s one of the cool things that you can do. Send them a testimonial. People who are selling stuff, they love getting testimonials that they can use. If someone’s selling an ebook, buy the ebook and send them a paragraph of what you think about that ebook that they can then use.

You may even want to send a photo. But here’s even cooler. Send them a video. Send them a video testimonial. Send them an audio testimonial if they have got a podcast. These types of things are going to help them to sell more of their thing. Again, it’s all about trying to work out what is it that they’re trying to achieve and how can you be useful in that.

Another last thing that you can do, many influencers are trying to create content. You can participate in the content creation process. It may be that you have an idea for a blog post that they could write, something that they’ve never written about before. You may even go to the effort of putting a title and three points that they could cover into it. Actually help them to create that blog post. Maybe it’s about asking them questions that they might want to write about.

Maybe, you could actually create some content for them as well. Maybe, you could create a little jingle for their podcast. Maybe, you could create a meme that they could share on social media. Maybe, you could create a social graphic that they could share that promotes one of their posts. Create some little pieces of content that they can share. It may not be much, but even just little things that can be useful to them, little graphics that they can use on their Twitter account, for example. Things that they can use in their own content, to improve their content. It’s actually going to make you the impression.

Maybe, it’s doing research for them into a particular topic. Maybe, it’s finding some data that they might find useful. Maybe, it’s even letting them know if there’s an error in their content, a spelling mistake or something that’s not quite working or a broken link. You need to be a bit careful about those ones. You want to probably do it in private if you can, not call them out, be polite, and be kind in a way that you critique those types of things. But those are the types of things that help them to create better content. That makes an impression upon people.

A few more tips. This is a big one. This probably already comes through a few times in what I’ve said, but it’s to be human. Whilst I’m calling these influencers influencers, they’re not really influencers. They’re human beings. They have good days. They have bad days. They get hurt. They get angry. They feel joy. They have questions and problems of their own as well as questions and solutions that they give other people, so answer their questions.

If they are tweeting that they’ve got a question or they’ve got a problem, research the solution to that problem, actually serve them in that way. Support the courses and passions that they have. Encourage them when you notice they’re going through a tough time. If they’re tweeting about a problem they’ve got, send them a word of encouragement. Celebrate their wins. Notice their efforts. Notice the things that they’re trying to do. Notice their strengths. Laugh with them.

One of the best things you can do is people often blow off steam on Twitter. They might mention that they’re watching Game of Thrones, the season opener of that. Some light hearted banter, a well timed pun, sharing a funny GIF or a meme can go a long way, even if it’s completely off topic. If they have shown a part of themselves to be human, show a part of yourself to be human as well. Maybe even send them a gift. You want to be a bit careful about gifts. You don’t want to do anything too creepy there, but you know, a meaningful gift, something physical that you can send them in the post, can actually go a long way as well.

I did this a few years ago. I noticed a movie star. I’m not going to mention who it is because I don’t want a big note, but this particular movie star was starting a blog. This was 10 years ago now. I decided to send this movie star my book in the post. I didn’t really do it with the agenda that they would link to it or anything and they didn’t but I got this really nice email back saying, “Hey, thanks. No one else really noticed I started my blog. It didn’t really work but I appreciate you reaching out in that way.” Those types of things can really create a big impression. Be human.

Another thing to try is to be memorable where you can. This is really hard. It’s not always possible to do. But if you could do something out of the blue, something surprising, or something funny, or something really smart, or something really generous, that can actually create a memory that can be a very powerful thing. It may also be a part of your brand. It can help you to stand out.

For example, I know one blogger who’s brand is that he always wears bright colored eyeglasses. He must have 50 pairs of them. Almost everyday, he wears a different pair of glasses. It’s part of his brand. It’s the type of thing that people remember. Again, it’s not something you can just do but if you can build something memorable into the approaches that you make, that can really go a long way not only to a first impression, but to create a first impression that lasts in some way. Maybe, it’s the way you use your sense of humor.

This is another one to be a bit careful about. But I know one blogger who’s very good at giving constructive criticism. He gets on really big influencer’s radars by doing something that feels really risky. He points out things that they could improve upon. He does it in such a way that the person actually feels really good about it. You might find a mistake in something that they’ve written or an improvement that they could make to some content that they’ve made or to a product. He points out what are their weaknesses but he has this way of doing it that the person actually feels like he’s being very constructive, very generous, and very helpful.

If you want to take that approach, it feels risky to do it but it can actually create a massive impression. I’ve seen this happen to me a number of times. One example that comes to mind is when I started this podcast. A few weeks after launching this podcast, I got an email from one of our event attendees at an Aussie ProBlogger event, an attendee called Rachelle Colbert.

Rachelle has experience in radio and television and so she’s someone who I knew about. We’ve not really spoken a great deal but she sent me an email on this day, a few weeks after my podcast launched. She had recorded me a personal podcast. It was like 20 or 30 minutes of advice, of ways that I can improve my podcast. She pointed out the things that I wasn’t so good at and things that I wasn’t doing in a good way. She’s actually a radio person so I knew she had some credibility there. One of the reasons I probably did persist with all 20 minutes of that recording was that I knew she was going to give good advice. But I could also tell through her recording that she genuinely wanted to help and she wasn’t just being critical, she was being constructively critical. That really came across in the way she said it.

If you do it, if you want to stand out and be memorable by pointing out criticism, be constructive, show you care, and do it in private where you can as well. Be genuine with your criticism. This example really leads me to my next point, is to personalize your approach.

In this world where influencers are being bombarded by automated personality-less approaches, make your communications as personal as you can. Rachelle sending me a 20 minute personal podcast that no one else would ever listen to, for her going to that length to send me a message, no one’s ever done that for me before. 20 minutes may have been too long if I hadn’t known who she was in the past and we’ve not interacted before but the medium she chose was really smart. Record an audio that allows the person to hear your voice, to understand you are genuine, to hear some of your personality, and to be reminded that it’s a human being on the other side of the approach and not just words on the screen.

Sending audio is so easy to do. Facebook Messenger now allows it. You can record it on your computer and send it in an email. There are so many ways to send audio. Another option is to record video. I’m seeing this more and more lately, people sitting in front of a webcam or a phone or even doing a Screencast and sending that video. It shows that you’ve gone through some effort and that you’re a person as well.

Lastly, I guess, with personal approaches, when possible, meeting the person in person can create a really positive impression too. Just don’t stalk. Here’s my advice again. Don’t stalk. Also, be aware that if you’re approaching someone at a conference, it may not be the best time for them to remember you because they’re probably being approached by a lot of people. If they’re a speaker at a conference, often, they’re being bombarded by people asking questions. So, yes, meet them but follow up with another message, whether it be text, or video, or a message on social media in some way.

A few last tips, a really quick one. Where you can leverage mutual connections, sometimes, getting someone else that the influencer knows to introduce you, can speed things up. I find that really works a lot. Using something like LinkedIn which allows you to do that can be one way to do that, but I personally would try and do it in another way because a lot of people are introducing people on LinkedIn that they don’t really know. If there’s a mutual connection, leverage that in some way if you can.

One of the last things I want to say is to really focus upon building these kind of relationships before you need something. This is the last thing I would say is I get a lot of first contacts from people that come with an ask. Whilst I certainly am open to responding and working with people that I’ve never heard of before, the reality is I’m much more likely to want to connect with someone and help someone that I feel like I’ve had an ongoing connection with. I’m much more open to people asking me to do things or asking me for a favor or asking me to participate in what they’re doing if that relationship didn’t start with that.

Start these relationships with an open ended attitude. I really love what Sonia Simone over at Copyblogger writes on this particular topic. She actually has a really great article that I’ll link to in the show notes today, with 10 tips for connecting with influencers. Some of it has got some overlap with what I’ve said today but she actually uses some tactical advice as well that I haven’t covered. But the last thing she says, I want to read it to you. I hope Simone doesn’t mind. Her last point is it doesn’t always work the way you thought it would.

This is what she wrote. She says, “Way back when I started my first blog, I secretly imagined that one day, I was going to have tea and crumpets with Seth Godin everyday. Turns out, I can’t really eat crumpets. All that gluten is not good for me. Also, possibly more to the point, Seth just wasn’t that interested. To be clear, he’s always been very nice, just not on the daily crumpets level nice. On my path, one of my goals was to someday develop a good working relationship with Seth Godin. Things didn’t work out exactly as I had visualized but a bunch of other good things happened on that path and I did end up building great working relationships with lots of other amazing people. You have to follow the path you’re actually on, which sometimes bears only slight resemblance to the one that was originally in your head. The plan is nothing. Planning is everything, Dwight Eisenhower once said. Do have goals. Do have some folks in mind that you’d love to create professional relationships with and then do a bunch of epic stuff. Be a good egg. Know your topic and make yourself useful and see where the real path leads. It’s going to be somewhere good. Just be ready for a few interesting twists.”

I think this is so important and it really comes back to I guess what I said at the top, many times you’ll try and get to know someone, you’ll reach out to an influencer, sometimes, they won’t reply, sometimes, it will lead to nothing at all, but sometimes, it will lead to something that you didn’t expect. Many of the times that I’ve approached people, I’ve approached with one thing in mind and something else comes out of that interaction as well. It may be that that person is a stepping stone to meeting someone else. It may be that what you pitch that person, ask that person, they say no to but they have another idea that could end up being a fruitful collaboration in some way.

Build the relationships first. Actually reach out to people and who knows where these things will lead to.

Now, last thing I want to do with this episode is to finish off with some words that my anonymous influencer friend wrote down for me to share. It’s his list of five things to do and five things not to do. This is what he writes. He says don’t be a robot. Don’t give false flattery. Don’t be negative or a gossip. Don’t be a fan boy or a fan girl. Don’t be selfish.

And then his do’s, he says be generous, be constructive, be confident, be engaging, and be human. I hope something of what I’ve shared today is helpful to you. Reach out to influencers. You never know where these things may lead to.

You can find today’s show notes with that link to Sonia Simone’s amazing article over on Copyblogger. The show notes are at problogger.con/podcast/203.

Last thing I’ll say, and I hinted this at the top of the show, is that we’ve made some changes in our ProBlogger Facebook group over the last week. The group is now growing. It’s almost up to 8,000 members. As things grow, we need to adapt, evolve, and change things up. A few things that we’ve done, firstly, we have changed it from being a public group to a closed group. It’s not secret but now, if you’ll look at it and you’re not a member, you can’t see what’s going on inside, which makes it a little bit more private. A few people were reporting that threads were showing up in their friends’ feeds and things like that. Now, that won’t happen. If you want to ask questions and you don’t want your readers or other people to see it, only people in the community are going to see them.

We’ve also started using hashtags in our group a lot more. I’ve asked people to only start new threads that start with one or two hashtags. Either ask, #ask, and in that case, you are asking a question or #tip, where you are leaving a tip. We really want the group to be a place where people help one another. So they’re asking questions, talking about the problems that they have, and sharing tips that they’ve got as well.

We also asked people not to share links in the group as well. We’ve all been part of Facebook groups where it’s just the link sharing goes on and on. It becomes a very self promotional place. We’ve asked people to actually share the advice that they’ve got in the thread itself with the tip rather than sharing a link to something that they’ve written elsewhere. That certainly helped to cut down the amount of threads that we’ve got, but also made the threads we’ve got more useful.

The last thing we’ve been doing in the Facebook group is regular thread. Every Monday, we’re now doing goals. What’s your goal of the week thread. I start that or Laney, who works with me starts that off and then everyone responds to that. That’s Mondays. Wednesdays is hump day hurdles. What is the biggest challenge you’ve got this week? What’s the problem that you’ve got this week? It’s about sharing those problems but then we encourage people to be the solution to the problems that each other has and so you share your problem then you look through the list and find someone else that has a problem that you can be a solution for. That’s on Wednesdays.

Fridays is win day. That’s a day where we invite you to share something that you’ve done during the week that has been a win. That is an opportunity for you to point at a post that you’ve written or to link to something that you’ve feel proud about. We are allowing you to share your links and those types of things, but only in those types of threads as well.

We had some really positive responses to what we’re doing in the group. I get a lot of personal messages from people saying, “Thank you. This group has helped me level up in my blogging.” If you are looking for a community that’s supportive, that’s really positive, very constructive, do join the Facebook group. Go to problogger.com/group and you’ll be forwarded into the Facebook group, or you’ll find a link to that in our show notes, or if you do a search on Facebook as well.

Thanks so much for listening to this podcast. I’m amazed every week when I look at the stats of the amount of people who are engaging, listening, and sharing the journey with us in this. It’s a real honor to be a part of that and I look forward to connecting with you maybe at one of our events in the coming weeks or in our Facebook group as well.

The last thing I’ll say is that over the next couple of weeks, I will be at our Australian events as this podcast goes out. We’ve got a bit of a special treat for you for the next two episodes of the podcast as well. Be a bit different to normal so I hope you enjoy what we’ve got planned for you while I’m off at the ProBlogger events. We’re going to give you a taste of what goes on at our events in this podcast.

Thanks for listening and I’ll chat with you next week in one of those episodes, episode 204.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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

The post 203: How to Approach Influencers in Your Niche appeared first on ProBlogger.

      


ProBlogger

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

5 Essential Blog Foundations for Strong SEO

5 Essential Foundations for Strong SEO

This is a post by ProBlogger’s SEO expert, Jim Stewart.

Many bloggers start a blog with gusto, rushing to establish a blogging website and share their opinions and knowledge with the world. They choose a popular platform to build on, select an attractive theme with all the bells and whistles, sign up for hosting that appears value for money, before finally writing awesome content and waiting for the audience to explode and their rankings to rocket.

Then reality often sets in.

They slave away for months with much optimism only to find themselves languishing in the dark recesses of page two (or worse) on Google, while their competition revels in the attention lavished on those that sit comfortably in the top three spots on page one.

So what went wrong?

Well it’s often because they’ve built their blogging site on foundations made of sand; unstable foundations that are at the mercy of Google’s ever-changing algorithms, ones that can transform ranking stability into ranking free fall in the blink of an eye.

So what can you do to avoid the pitfalls when establishing your blog? Well, there are tried and trusted strategies to building a blog that can create robust SEO for future growth. These strategies should be the cornerstones of any new blog, ones that will create and maintain a strong foundation that will withstand and protect your blog from the fickle nature of Google updates.

1. Content Management System

Choosing the correct Content Management System (CMS) is imperative. I cannot recommend WordPress highly enough. Its popularity is such that it reportedly powers over 22% of all websites and is a widely used CMS blogging platform for good reason.

wix-vs-wordpress.png

Wix vs WordPress

WordPress is an open-source program that offers you the freedom and flexibility to customise your site to your liking while leaving you room to grow, there are thousands of free and paid plugins, and best of all it contains an in-built blogging platform.

Simplicity is the name of the game with WordPress. It is easy to download and install and just as easy to operate. WordPress also utilises search engine friendly code that not only makes it appealing to Google, but also easy to adjust your SEO with a multitude of plugins.

The admin control panel makes it easy to maintain updates and backups for both plugins and themes and can manage many media platforms, perfect for promoting your brand.

2. Yoast SEO

There are many useful plugins for WordPress but few more important than Yoast SEO. You could spend countless precious hours poring over your site, making adjustments and monitoring results. Yoast SEO will save you that time.

It is arguably the most important, not to mention effective, tool your site can wield. Yoast streamlines your site’s SEO functions via one easy to use control panel where you can follow recommendations to effect real change to your SEO. Yoast SEO is not a one-size-fits-all plugin, and therefore will need some customisation to suit your individual site needs. Never fear though, as the process is simple using the inbuilt dashboard.

Once set up, Yoast SEO can be commanded to check each of your blog posts for SEO friendliness and report back using a sequence of coloured dots, green for good and red for, well, not so good! Yoast offers the ability to focus on areas of your site where SEO improvements are needed the most and can yield fantastic results when fine-tuned. (If you need help installing and setting up Yoast SEO, we have a comprehensive breakdown here.)

3. Hosting

Spend some time selecting your hosting solution. A poor choice, often based on price, can have a detrimental effect on your blogging site, whereas a fast hosting solution can result in huge increases in traffic. If you heed my advice and build your blog using WordPress then it is advisable to have your site hosted by a WordPress specialist.

For that, WP Engine (aff) is unbeatable. They are a dedicated WordPress host with satisfied customers in over 120 countries. Being an open source program, WordPress can be susceptible to certain flaws, such as security. That is why WP Engine is the trusted hosting name for the platform. Their custom designed architecture delivers a seamless and smooth running website that will grow with your blog.

Others benefits include superb customer service, all-important backups, high-level security, and a unique front-end that can help your site run up to six times faster. Site speed cannot be overstated as it contributes heavily towards a great user experience, one that Google values and can help your rankings. An optimal load time is under 0.5 seconds. A fast Domain Name System (DNS) lookup is also important. This system translates an easily remembered domain name into an IP address used for communication between computers. This conversion process takes time, so the faster your DNS, the better value for your blog.

4. Theme

There’s a great thrill when it comes time to selecting a theme for your blog. WordPress has a theme for every blog, from photography to eCommerce and there’s sure to be one perfect for you. These themes require no coding experience, as most include a control panel where you can customise colours, layouts, background images and the like.

While there are thousands of free and paid templates to choose from, you should not select one on design alone. Behind the theme are codes and architecture that will affect your SEO. Select a template that uses heading tags properly and not for aesthetics, otherwise you may be unwittingly harming your SEO.

An SEO Friendly Structure

From How to Select the Perfect Theme for Your Blog

No matter what other website owners are saying, SEO still is, and will remain, a very important element for the whole “getting popular on the internet” thing.

An SEO friendly theme is a really valuable asset. If you’re planning on doing any kind of SEO work around your site, then such a theme is essential. And even if you don’t have time for SEO, an SEO friendly theme can do a surprisingly big part of the work for you anyway.

Good SEO always starts with getting the basic characteristics of your site just right. Only then you can tackle link-building and other off-page SEO tasks.

How can you find out whether a theme is SEO friendly or not? Unfortunately, you can’t know for sure until you start working with a given theme. However, there are still some things to look for when you’re playing with a theme’s live demo, or analyzing the screenshots of a theme.

  • Is there the ability to set the titles and descriptions for every post and page individually (including the homepage)?
  • Does the theme use <H> headings?
  • Are the categories and tags visible?
  • Is the layout clean and simple?
  • Does the theme support major SEO plugins?

Some of these factors can be seen when you’re looking at a theme, while others are simply listed in the promotional materials of the theme. Make sure to pay attention to these considerations, though. The more SEO features a theme has, the better.

5. Brand

I’m a firm believer that brand is a ranking factor for Google. By that I mean that Google admits popularity is a ranking factor, saying, “URLs that are more popular on the Internet tend to be crawled more often to keep them fresher in our index.”

Build your brand. Gone are the days of focusing on building backlinks. Increasing your audience will in turn increase your brand popularity, sending the Googlebot crawling your way more often and increasing rankings in the process. If your brand becomes synonymous with a product or service then Google will trust you and direct traffic your way.

You must also focus on building your brand and growing your audience outside of Google. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter will all contribute to your brand’s authority in the marketplace and will help drive rankings.

These five factors are prerequisites for building a healthy, stable, and durable blogging site. Rush in and sign up for items based on price, appearance or convenience and your blog will stagnate and possibly die. Get them right and you will have a stable platform that is flexible enough to grow with your blog and take advantage of Google updates long into the future.

The post 5 Essential Blog Foundations for Strong SEO appeared first on ProBlogger.

      


ProBlogger

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

204: 6 ‘Ordinary’ Things That Will Grow Your Blog into Something Extraordinary

How Ordinary Things Can Lead to Extraordinary Results With Your Blog

This week and I’m excited to be spending time face to face with quite a few ProBlogger podcast listeners and blog readers at our Aussie blogging events.

We’ve been holding annual Australian events since 2010 and it is a highlight of my year each time. It’s fantastic to put faces to names, hear the stories of what bloggers are learning and to get inspired by meeting many of you.

So because I’m away this week and busy with the event I thought it might be fun to give you a taste of what happens at a ProBlogger event and to play you a talk I gave at one of our events a few years ago.

6 ordinary things for extraordinary blog growth

So for today’s episode (#204) I’m going to play you a full opening keynote talk that I gave in 2014.

It’s a talk I gave which explores how doing ordinary things consistently over time leads to extraordinary results in blogging.

Often bloggers look for the ‘secret’ strategies that will launch their blog into a viral success. However the reality is that most successful bloggers spend more time on small, ordinary things – it’s these things that really lead to success.

In this talk I outlined 6 of these ‘ordinary things’.

This is a talk I hear attendees referring to quite a bit – so I hope you enjoy it too.

Links and Resources on 6 ‘Ordinary’ Things That Will Grow Your Blog into Something Extraordinary



Full Transcript
Expand to view full transcript
Compress to smaller transcript view

Hey there and welcome to episode 204 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger and podcaster behind ProBlogger.com, a site that’s really dedicated to helping you to grow an amazing blog, that serves your audience, that creates great content, and that builds some profit around what you do online.

You can learn more about ProBlogger and all of the different things we do including our ebooks, events, the podcast and blog itself over at problogger.com. And then, have a dig around. You’ll find a lot of information on our Start Here page there as well so look for that in the navigation.

This week, I’m really excited because I’m spending time face to face with quite a few ProBlogger podcast listeners and ProBlogger blog readers at our Australian blogging events. We’ve got two events this year, Melbourne and Brisbane, and they’re going on pretty much as this podcast goes out. We’ve been holding these events since 2010 and it is the highlight of my year every year because I get to put names to faces, hear stories of bloggers and what they’re learning, and see the growth in our attendees from year to year as well. I always come home inspired although a bit tired from these events as well.

Because I’m away this week and not at my office, and not able to record too much in terms of a podcast, I thought it might be fun to give you a taste of what happens at the ProBlogger event. I’m going to play you a keynote presentation I gave at one of our events a few years ago. It’s actually completely relevant for today and hopefully, you find some inspiration in it as well.

This episode, episode 204, I’m going to play you the full opening keynote of the talk I gave in 2014, three years ago now. It’s a talk in which I explore how doing ordinary things, consistently over time, leads to extraordinary results. Often, bloggers come to ProBlogger and I get emails all the time and people will say, “What is the secret strategy, what’s the secret sauce that’s going to launch my blog into being a viral success?” The reality is that it’s not the secret strategies that tend to lead to that viral success. It’s some of the smaller ordinary things.

In this talk, I shared six ordinary things that are going to help you to build something quite extraordinary. This is a talk I actually get a lot of feedback from, even three years later, I get bloggers come who heard this talk at our event and they refer back to it. I really do hope that it is useful to you as well. If you like to follow along with the slides for this talk, I actually had a set of slides, I’ve uploaded them into this week’s show notes and you can scroll through them as I talk, if you like. They are over problogger.com/podcast/204 and I will also upload them as a PDF if you want to download them.

If you are also interested in coming to our events, of course, this year’s events, you can’t really get tickets for anymore for the Aussie events. Although, you may be able to get one to the Melbourne event if you are able to act fast. There is always information on our upcoming Australian events at problogger.com/events. Our Dallas event later in the year that I’m running with some friends called The Success Incubator. There will be details of that at problogger.com/success.

I’m going to hand over to me and this is a live recording so you’re going to hear a little bit of audience. You’re going to hear me embarrass myself along the way a couple of times as well as I stumble over my words. I get a few laughs at my own expense during this one but hopefully it’s clear enough for you. The slides will certainly help at times but I think most of it would be understandable if you’re just listening along as well.

Thanks for listening and I look forward to hearing what you think about this particular keynote. You can always give us feedback on the show notes or over in the Facebook group. Thanks for listening and here I am.

This event, I’ve been trying to work out what to talk about for the opening session of this event, and I want to do something a little bit strange. I want to start with a confession. It doesn’t usually happen at the start of an event that the founder gets up and reveals something about himself that perhaps isn’t overly positive or has a bit of a negative vibe but this is my confession to you, I sometimes feel like this guy. Some of you are groaning internally because the Lego Movie is on the high rotation at your house. Anyone? My house we’ve got three boys – they’re three, six and eight, and Lego is huge and it’s often embedded into my feet late at night.

The Lego Movie, the main character of it is this guy here, Emmet. I really resonate with his character which is strange because he has a luscious head of hair and my boys did too. After we took them to see the Lego Movie, my two eldest, I found them in one of their bedrooms fighting over who is going to be Emmet in their imaginative play.

I thought this was a little bit strange because there’s other really cool characters in this movie, there’s Batman and Superman, and Wonder Woman, and all kinds of amazing characters but no,  they wanted to be Emmet. I asked my middle boy, he’s now six. He’s slightly philosophical, “Why did you want to be Emmet?” He thought about it for a little while and then he said, “He’s just ordinary but he still did something really cool.” My boys resonated with this character and I do too.

When you first meet Emmet in this movie, he’s very ordinary, very average. He just tries to fit in. He’s a construction worker, follows instructions, blends into the crowd. In fact, later in the movie when his friends are interviewed about him, some of them don’t even remember that he exists. He’s very ordinary, very average. Through circumstances, he finds himself surrounded by these extraordinary characters called “The Master Builders,” the exact opposite of him. There’s Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Abraham Lincoln, the NBA All Stars, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – these big characters but they also have amazing abilities to construct whatever they want, almost out of thin air, just using their imagination and the bricks that they find around them. Emmet is the exact opposite of this. He just wants instructions.

A prophecy is made about Emmet, that he is the special one who’s going to lead The Master Builders. There’s this scene in the movie which is on the screen now, where Emmet is in this coliseum like gathering of Master Builders and he’s introduced as The Special One who is going to lead them.

He walks up onto the stage and everyone falls silent waiting for magical words and he pretty much says, “Hi! I’m Emmet. I’ve got no idea what’s going on here.” In the next couple of moments, he pretty much reveals that he’s anything but special, that he’s anything but a Master Builder, that he’s anything but a leader and, of course, the Master Builders decide not to follow him.

That moment in the movie is kinda like the dream I have every night for two weeks before this event. Every event I go to where I’m invited to speak, something in the back of my head says, “You’re too ordinary. You’ve got nothing to say. You’re too average.” I’m not saying that to make you feel sad for me. There’s actually a few reasons that I’m saying this.

Don’t worry, the founder hasn’t lost his mind. It’s cool.

The reason I say this is that every time I come to this conference, I have conversations, usually before the conference, where people say to me, “I feel like I’m a bit out of my league.” “I feel like I shouldn’t be here.” Someone said to me this morning already, “I haven’t even started my blog yet.” “I haven’t posted for six months,” someone else told me this morning. “I don’t know if I should be here.” “I’m not very good at writing.” “I’m not very technical.”

These little voices go in the back of all of our minds. We’re actually a community of Emmets. I want to start off by saying today, we all feel these things. We all feel average. We all feel ordinary. We all, at times, feel out of our league. It’s interesting when I talk to speakers of this event, they say the same things. We’re all feeling these same things.

I guess the first reason I wanted to give my confession this morning is that I think that it’s actually a collective confession and I want to put it out there right up front that this is how we sometimes feel. After we come to a conference and we tell everyone why they should listen to us and what we do know, I think this is a place where we can say what we don’t know and it’s totally fine to do that. It’s totally fine to feel these things.

The second reason I wanted to give this confession today is that we live in amazing times. We live in times where ordinary people here in Australia are doing extraordinary things. There’s a movement happening and it’s happening in this room. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things often think, what would someone coming into this room, who didn’t know what this conference was about, think this conference is about just looking at our attendees? I think I wouldn’t have any idea. I think I would be amazed when I start to hear some of the stories in this room. Our community is doing amazing things.

One of the things I love to do is to go overseas and speak at events and tell stories of Australian bloggers. Over the last year, I’ve told 12 stories of Australian bloggers, people who’d come to our event, people who’d spoken at our event and the things that they have done.

I told this story earlier this year of a guy called Chris Hunter. Who remembers Chris? He spoke like three years ago. I think some of you, now, remember him. Chris was one of our panels and he’s just a lovely guy but he’s just a guy that you walk past on the street, not really noticed. He’s unassuming. He’s quiet. Chris has achieved a lot but he’s overcome a lot, too. He immigrated from the UK to Sydney and now, I think, he’s gone along to New Zealand. He’s hearing impaired and overcome some challenges in that area of his life. He was working in an advertising agency and doing quite well for himself. But every night he would go home and he would do what he really loved, he had a secret passion, it was classic motorbikes – custom motor bikes.

He started a blog called Bike EXIF and he started to post pictures of classic motorbikes. At our event, he told us the story of how he started it. Chris is now a full-time blogger just a few years later. He has over two million Pinterest followers. Pinterest isn’t just for girly things, it’s for motorbikes! He is an influencer in his industry. He has advertisers paying him money to appear on his blog. He’s an authority. He’s a normal person doing something quite extraordinary.

I love to tell the story of Christina. I saw Christina. She’s here somewhere. I’ve been telling Christina’s story when I travel as well. Where are you, Christina? I like to look at you. I don’t like to look at you. I would like to see you. Oops! Suddenly, my mouth is very dry. The first time I met you would have been three years ago, probably the same event that Christ was at. The night before our event, someone sent me an email and said, “You’ve got to check out this blog. There’s this woman, Christina, who’s posting pictures of the back of her head and people are reading her blog. She was posting pictures of her hairstyle.” I think it just started off at the back of your head, and gradually it was the side and in the end, it’s the front as well.

I immediately knew something was happening here because I can see the engagement in the comments. Christina has spoken in a number of our events and told her story, and now a full-time blogger. I love watching Christina’s Instagram feed as she goes traveling around the world to fashion shows and released an ebook, and this week, released your book here in Australia. Jim, now, husband, is also working with you as a blogger. I just think this is amazing that you can start out posting pictures of the back of your head and a whole business opens up, something quite extraordinary.

I love telling the story of Gavin. He’s from Zen Pencils. He also spoke probably at the same event, I reckon. He told his story about how in 2011, he quit his job because he wanted to become a comic. He was working as a graphic designer. They sold their house so that he had a bit of a buffer and he tried all these different ways of becoming a comic. Two or three times he tried, nothing worked. Until one day he had the realization that he could combine two of his passions, one was comics and two was inspirational quotes, and he started Zen Pencils. He now has hundreds of thousands of social media followers. He’s now traveling the world speaking at conferences. He was recently speaking at Comic-Con, that’s a dream come true for a comic.

I love the fact that normal people are doing extraordinary things. These are just three of literally hundreds of stories in this room of people who are doing amazing things, and we really want to hear your stories this week. There’s going to be some opportunities to do that.

Collectively, I did the sums the other day, you have 30 million readers. That person coming into this room would have no idea who they’re seeing in the middle of normal people doing extraordinary things.

Over the last year, I asked from Facebook the other day, “Have you launched something this year?” These are just some of the ebooks and books that have been launched this year. These are just some of the businesses that have been launched this year that train people in social media and blogging. These are just two of the possible Kickstarter campaigns that have happened this year. These are just one of the apps that just happened to get to the top of the App Store. A couple of the events that are being run by bloggers this year. You’ve achieved so much this year and I can’t wait to see what is achieved in the next year.

The third reason I wanted to share my confession of feeling ordinary is really what I wanted to talk about for the rest of this time we’ve got today is that in my experience, success is really about doing ordinary things. A lot of times, people come and want the secret, sexy, sort of strategies on blogging. The reality is, most of the reasons why bloggers succeed is they do ordinary things and they continue to do them really well. Success is more about doing the ordinary thing so that you already know than discovering the secrets that you don’t yet know. That is my experience over the last 12 years.

What I want to do today is to share with you six ordinary things that you already know that you need to keep doing.

The first one is the most ordinary of them all, and it’s to start. I know 90% of you guys have done that, I want to say something to you in a moment, but for the 10% of you who haven’t yet started your blog, you are completely welcome here and that’s totally fine to not have a blog. But if you go home and you don’t start something, I’m going to hunt you down.

I love the fact that even this morning a couple of people said, “I didn’t have my blog last year, but I do now.” Congratulations, that’s fantastic.

I love this quote, before I tell my story, “Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started. The way you figure yourself out is by making things.” That’s Austin Kleon, who wrote a book called Steal Like an Artist. This quote pretty much sums up my own story.

Back in 2002, I started a blog. Many of you heard my story, I’m not going to tell it in great detail but I started a blog after seeing someone else’s blog and being inspired by it. 30 minutes after I saw his, I knew I had to start a blog but I also knew I had a long list of excuses going through my head. I didn’t know what a blog was 30 minutes before so I had no experience. I had no skills. I’d had 20 jobs in the last 10 years, I don’t really stick at things too well. I had a shed in the backyard full of sporting equipment that I used once, sometimes I hadn’t used them at all. We didn’t have any money. We were nearly married. I had no network. I didn’t know any other bloggers. No niche. Had fear. What if my wife reads this? What if my mom reads it? What if no one reads it? What if everyone reads it and I make a mistake? All these little fears, these little niggly voices.

I had this perfectionism. I don’t think I’m actually a perfectionist but when it came to blogging that first blog post, I remember looking at it and thinking, “This is too short in comparison to the one I’ve seen earlier.” As I looked at my free blogger template, which in 2002 was ugly, I think it was purple and orange, and big ugly fonts. I looked at it and thought, this just isn’t going to do. But for one reason or another I hit publish on that first blog post 12 years ago.

As I did, my excuses literally began to dissolve. In the 20 minutes it took me to get that blog set up, I learned skills, I gained the experience. That first short, embarrassingly simple blog post, I gained skills and I began to take a step towards developing a voice. In that next week, I began to find a reader or two as I began to read their blogs and leave comments, my network began to open up. The excuses dissolved, but they only dissolved because I started.

Inaction breeds doubt and fear, action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy. That’s my experience.

Starting leads to our concept of opportunities and I could fill a page full of the opportunities that have come. I still remember the first time I’ve got an email from this guy in the States, from a company I’ve never heard of before. I was living in a bit of a cocoon. The company was Wiley, which is a fairly big publisher, one of the biggest in the world. They said, “We want you to write a book.” I thought it was a friend playing a joke on me, and said, “Yeah, right.” He came back and said, “No, really. I’m from Wiley. I’d like you to write a book.” The same thing happened when someone asks me from overseas to come and speak at an event about blogging. I’ve only been blogging for a couple of years, why do you want me?

These opportunities came, but they only came because I started. The best thing about starting for me is actually it lead to self-discovery. Sorry about the big head picture but I didn’t know how else to visualize it. But for me, starting lead to this whole journey of my ideas. The little embryonic ideas that I had actually began to grow bigger. What I found is that when you put even your tiny, little thoughts and ideas out there, they crystallize, they actually grow stronger, by verbalizing them, by letting other people see them.

Starting lead the growth of ideas, that actually lead to discipline. This is the first thing I’ve stuck at for more than a year of my life, and it’s been 12. I can’t believe it that I’ve actually been publishing posts every day for 12 years, lead to a development of a voice and passions emerged. The peace kind of killed the fear. The fear is still there but it enabled me to deal with that. A whole new vocation, I guess, emerged.

For those of you who’ve already started, here’s the thing, starting isn’t just something you can never take off your to do list. It needs to become a mind set. It needs to become something that you revisit constantly. I sat down on the couch a few months ago and I drew a line on a page and I put 2002 on one end of the page, 2004 on the other end and I analyzed all the times that I’d started things over the last 12 years.

I came up with 100 starts over the next hour. I visualized a few on the screen. Some of these starts are new blogs, I’ve had 30. I only have two today. That shows you my ratio of success. Some of these starts are business partnerships, some of them went on to do really great things, some of them ended very badly. Some of these starts are ebooks that I’ve written or starting on social media, new platforms. There’s been heaps of starts.

Some of these starts started as tiny, little ideas that grew into bigger things. As I said a couple of years ago on one of my keynotes, “Your next big thing might be the little thing that’s staring you right in the face right now.” Look at those little things and act upon those little ideas that you have.

The number two obvious thing you already know that you need to continue to do is to put your readers first.

We’ve all said this as bloggers. I hear it all the time but it’s so tempting to put other things first. This is the key question. If you come to a ProBlogger event before you’ve heard me talk about this idea of asking this question: Who are your readers? Who are your current readers? Who are your potential readers? The more you can define who they are, get clarity about who your readers are, the better position you’d be in to create content for them that’s useful, the better position you’d be in to build community with them, the better position you’d be to go and find them and the better position you’d be in to monetize your blog.

Get to know your readers, understand their needs, their problems, their challenges, their desires, their dreams and their fears. Those things are incredibly powerful to understand. It takes time to understand these things, but do anything you can to meet a reader whether it be online or offline and to understand these things about them. Understand their goals, the language that they use, how they use the internet, their habits, their loves, their hates, and their passions. These things are incredibly important. Those of you who’ve been along before have heard me talk about these things.

But there’s another question I want you to begin to ask as well and this is a question I’ve only been asking for 12 months, at least explicitly, I’ve been asking this question in my mind. Get clarity around who your readers are but then also get clarity around the change you want to see in those readers. This is incredibly powerful. Understand the change in your readers. You know who they are now, but where do you want them to be? What’s your dream for your readers? Define that, that’s a powerful thing.

What I’ve discovered is that powerful blogs, blogs that have a huge impact upon people, they’re the blogs that actually leave a mark on people, they’re the blogs that actually leave their readers different from when they arrive to when they leave. If you can have a blog that changes people, you have the start of something pretty amazing.

Ask these three questions: Who are my readers? What are their needs? How are they going to change as a result of reading my blogs? Spend 10 minutes doing that and you’ll come up with your mission statement or your purpose statement for your blog.

On my blog, Digital Photography School, my readers are people who own digital cameras, who aren’t using those cameras to their potential, that’s their need, and we give them creative control of their cameras. Very simple, kind of, statements but those statements have changed the way that we’ve built our blog over the last year. We now pass this onto our writers and their content has improved incredibly since they knew what we’re on about. Our readers are now starting to feedback to us that they’re getting creative control of their cameras. We never told our readers this is what we’re on about, but they’ve started to notice. Spend time doing that exercise, it’s quite profound.

Put your readers first is one of those things we always say but the problem is there’s all these other temptations and it’s very easy for other things to become first. For some of you, it’s the strategy, it’s looking at the Google Analytics and trying to get your page views up, repositioning your logo and putting your social media buttons in different places, all these sorts of things can cloud out the fact that there are actually readers looking at this stuff.

Sometimes, it’s the profit and this, for me, there’s been a number of times over the last 12 years where I got so into the AdSense numbers are going up, and what if I put my ads there and you actually lose sight of where your readers actually are in the process. Sometimes, it’s traffic. Sometimes, it’s building your own profile, “I want to be bigger than that blogger.” You begin to network, it’s about the request you get from media or that they’re getting it or you’re not getting it. It’s very easy to become distracted by these things. Sometimes, it’s the crafting of the content itself. Sometimes, you can get so into writing amazing content that you actually forget anyone’s reading it and that you’re there to serve them. Put your readers first.

The third thing that you already know is so powerful and you’re going to hear this time and time again over the next few days is that usefulness is king. Over the last 12 years, I’ve seen so many articles written about how content is king, how community is king, how WordPress is king, how Twitter’s king or Facebook’s king, how blogging is king. How all of these things are the most important thing. None of them are king. Usefulness is king. Those things are just different ways of being useful. Whatever you do with your blog, be useful in some way. For me, ultimately being useful comes back to that change that you want to bring. If you can define that change and then begin to break it down, you are actually going to be useful.

For us, we want to give people creative control of their cameras so we begin to break that down. There are different things that our readers need to learn to get creative control and these become categories on our site or blog posts on our site. They need to know technical things like what is aperture, what is shutter speed. They need to know other things like how to get confident with your camera, how to actually take pictures of people without feeling awkward about taking pictures of people. Things they need to learn about how to see and compositions. All of these things and there’s probably a hundred things that we can add to this list are actually how we deliver this change that we want to bring to people.

Some of you heard me talk about this post I wrote back in 2006. I started Digital Photography School in 2006 and one of the first posts I wrote was this one. It’s the most basic post I’ve ever, ever written. I wrote it because people were sharing photos on our Flickr group, which were really bad and the photos were bad because they weren’t holding the camera still when they took the photo. They were holding the camera up and when they hit the shutter speed they push the camera down and it would be blurry.

I saw our need. I thought I’m going to write a post on that. I looked at the post that I’ve written, I thought, “I’m going to get laughed down about this post because it’s just so basic. People are just going to look down their noses at this post.” But I saw the problem that people had so I decided to publish it anyway. I looked at the stats a month ago, on this post. It’s had over 610,000 people view it. I’m glad I wrote it, now. It’s not the biggest post, it’s never had a huge spark in traffic at that time. All of that traffic, almost all of it has come from Google and almost every search has come with the words: How do I hold my camera?

People go to Google to ask the questions that they’re too embarrassed to ask their friends, write that stuff. The stuff you have forgotten that you know is useful. Sometimes, it’s about going back to the basics and providing that kind of information.You don’t have to know a lot, you don’t have to be an expert. I’m not a photographer, a professional photographer. I wrote for people who were behind me in the journey. Be useful to people behind you on that journey.

The fourth thing that you already probably instinctively know is that you need to develop a rhythm of usefulness. I think rhythm is really important. This is another lesson I’ve learned over the last year, regularity is really important. It’s important for a number of reasons.

On Digital Photography School, we’ve developed quite a complicated rhythm. It’s been eight years now since we started that site. It started out much simpler, one post every two or three days. Today, our rhythm kind of looks like this, we publish two posts a day, which is much more than a lot of you post and that’s totally fine to post less. The important thing is the rhythm.

We post five times on Facebook every day, that sounds like a lot, it is. I do it every night at 9:00PM, schedule the next day’s five posts. We publish one challenge to our readers every week. We say, “Go away and take a photo on this theme and come back and show us your photo.” We post one newsletter per week, every Thursday night. It went out last night, Thursday night. I was sitting in my room getting it ready. We send out a newsletter every single week.

We do an annual holiday program every year that lead up to Christmas, the 12 days of Christmas. It’s happened four or five years now. We do ebooks. Every four or five times a year, we publish ebooks. Not necessarily seasonal, but they kind of happen when the seasons happen.

That’s a fairly advanced rhythm, some of you who are just starting can go, “That’s too much for me.” That’s totally fine. But what I found is that the rhythm is really, really useful. It’s useful for me as a blogger and my team because it gives me a deadline. I find that if I’m writing regularly, I write better. It’s easier to come up with ideas. If I’m writing once a month, it’s very hard to get going again. Rhythm is really important for you but it’s also really important for your readers.

I’ve started to notice, even though we’ve never told our readers that we publish two a day, our readers know that. They show up at the times we publish. We get tweets from people if we are an hour late. Same with today’s post. The other morning I’ve got an email from someone, actually it’s a Facebook message from someone, saying, “The 6:00AM Facebook post you do didn’t come up today in my feed.” It’s not my fault Facebook didn’t show it was there, but an interaction with that person, they sat down every morning with a cup of coffee to look for our latest Facebook update.

Your readers begin to show up when you post with a rhythm. It’s really powerful. They begin to gather in the places that you show up regularly so build a rhythm of usefulness in your site.

The other thing about rhythm is that it adds up over time and the accumulated effect of it is amazing. We publish 730 posts per year now, that’s 730 doorways into the site, 730 posts that could be shared on Twitter or on Facebook. Again, 730 is probably too much for many people but even 52 a year. It begins to add up over the years.

That last one there, we’ve published 20 ebooks over the last five or so years. If you told me 5 years ago we’re going to publish 20 ebooks, I would have fallen over. The first one almost killed me. But when you get into the rhythm of it, it actually becomes easies and you begin to develop a system, and it becomes much more achievable. Over time, that gives you an incredible amount of things to offer your readers so rhythm is really important.

Epic blogs are built on lots of little regular useful actions. I don’t know a blog that made it off a single post, it’s about regularity of useful stuff over time. Yes, have these big dreams of the things you want to achieve but know that you going to have to take lots of little useful steps to get there.

The fifth thing that I want to say, it kind of ties into usefulness but I think this really needs to be said particularly at the moment.

As I look around the web, as I look at my Facebook stream, there’s so much fluff being produced at the moment. The other day, I almost cried at that crap that was being shared in my Facebook stream. Someone shared a video of when an elephant met a cat and you wouldn’t believe what happens when they meet. You go and watch the video because I want to know what happens. An elephant walked down the street, there was a cat in the corner of the frame, the elephant went and then it walked on. You wouldn’t believe it. There’s so much fluff.

I don’t want to pick on BuzzFeed, I don’t want to pick on Upworthy or any of these sites that do it. They’re onto something and it’s working for them. They’re driving a lot of traffic but what worries me is that I’m starting to see this appear on blogs who used to publish really good, useful, original content.

In the photography space, I can think of two or three blogs that used to publish maybe one or two useful tutorials everyday, they were growing their readers, lots of community, lots of engagement, they were helping a lot of people and now they’re publishing 15 to 20 pieces of fluff every day, other people’s stuff. Some of the stuff they share is kind of useful but they’re not actually taking their readers on a journey anymore. They’re actually abandoning their readers and they’re not being meaningful. I see it because their readers are coming to our site saying, “Geez, nice to read some tutorials that actually help us rather than just seeing this sort of stuff.”

Brian Solar, he’s a blogger in the States. He came to Melbourne recently and he said this quote, “Don’t compete for the moment,” which is what these sites are doing. They’re just trying to get people there for the moment because that loads another ad.

“Compete for meaning.” He said it for two reasons. One is it’s really hard to compete with Upworthy and BuzzFeed because they’re doing it so well, but two he was talking to business people and said that it’s very hard to sell stuff to people who were just there for a fleeting feel good second and then not back again. It’s much easier to sell stuff to people and to build a relationship with people who you’re actually changing their lives in some way and you’re taking them on a journey.

I love this quote from our very own, Shane Tilley, who said this to me the other day and I’m like, I’m going to write that down, “The trend is to chase eyeballs, they can have them. I care about the hearts and the minds of our readers. This is where it’s at.”

This is where it’s at whether you’ve got an advertising model because advertisers, they want to advertise on sites where readers are engaged, where they love the content, where they love the people behind it. This is where it’s at if you want to sell a product because your readers are much more likely to buy something if you’ve actually got a history of changing their lives in some way.

I actually think there is an incredible opportunity at the moment particularly, with all this fluff around us, to create content that has quality, to create content that has soul, to create content that has meaning, to create content that brings about a lasting change in people and that takes them on a journey. I think that type of content stands out, at the moment. That kind of content creates trust. That kind of content creates authority and influence. Spend your time doing that, you might publish a little less, but you’re going to publish content that actually makes the world a better place and that opens up opportunities for your monetize.

The last thing I want to say is, again, this is something that you already know but so many people don’t act upon it and it’s to persist. This is the lesson that applies to all areas of life. Good things come when you persist. Success usually only ever comes when people persist.

My experience is when you do these six things and you continue to do these things, that you build those things like credibility, and trust, and authority.

Put your readers first after you start. Be useful, develop a rhythm of usefulness. Create meaning and then keep doing it, and then keep doing it, again and again. It’s out of those things that this thing transactional value happens. That’s where profit, I think, for most of us is going to come.

But the other thing that happens when you build this cycle of usefulness and meaning is that you find your readers start to tell other people about it. They evangelize what you are doing.

This is something we’ve noticed on our Facebook page recently. We get threads like this. This has come from earlier in the year, I just posted a link on Facebook this day. It wasn’t a very special link. This little stream of conversation happened afterwards. Nany said, “Halona, here’s that page I was telling you about.” Cody said, “Kyle, this is the page I was telling you about.” Mark says, “Matthew.” Didn’t say anything, just tagged the guy. We see that every day. Brandon did the same thing. Elizabeth said, “Jason read this.” Jason said, “Thank you.” Anna says, “Thank you.” I don’t know who she came into it but she said thank you too. Lorenda said, “Check out this Facebook page, like it and get their daily articles. They’re very good and I pick up a lot of good info here.”

This happens every day, now. It’s happening particularly in the last year since we’re sort of changing our approach, thinking about the change we want to take people on and delivering content that does that. This is how you grow your site, it’s through this cycle of usefulness and meaning.

Here’s the thing, the thing I’ve noticed about people who are actually doing amazing things in our community. They’re actually doing this stuff already. Many of you are doing it. I guess, I just want to encourage you, if you’re in that journey of building usefulness, it takes time. I know some of you are frustrated at the moment. Facebook keeps changing the rules and things don’t always go right, and challenges come our way but persist with this stuff. It’s when we do it that we build something that actually makes the world a better place.

I want to finish with this last thought before we move on. 99.9%, probably, 99.99% of great bloggers are not awesome on their day one. Their awesomeness is the accumulation of the value that they create over time.

I really look forward to the next year. I can’t wait to show the slides of what you’ve achieved over the next year through providing value.

Well, there you have it. That was my keynote address from 2014 at the ProBlogger event which I think was being held up on the Gold Coast here in Australia. It was a great event and I hope you enjoyed listening along to that.

If you’ve got any feedback on today’s show, you can head over to the show notes where you can also get those slides at problogger.com/podcast/204. You could also give us some feedback over in the Facebook group, as well, problogger.com/group. We’ll get you into that group.

Next week, I do have another little recording for you of another one of our sessions because we’ll be holding our second event next week and after that, we’ll be back to the normal show. I hope you enjoy what I’ve got for you next week. I’ll be chatting with you in the upcoming episode too.

Thanks for listening! Chat with you, soon.

Before I go, I want to give a big shout out and say thank you to Craig Hewitt and the team at PodcastMotor who’ve been editing all of our podcasts for some time now. PodcastMotor have a great range of services for podcasters at all levels. They can help you set up your podcast but also offer a couple of excellent services to help you edit your shows and get them up with great show notes. Check them out at podcastmotor.com.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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

The post 204: 6 ‘Ordinary’ Things That Will Grow Your Blog into Something Extraordinary appeared first on ProBlogger.

      


ProBlogger

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

5 Critical Elements You Need to Check Off for Every Blog Post

5 critical blog post elements

This post is by ProBlogger subject matter expert Ali Luke

Over the past few years, I’ve conducted a lot of blog reviews for fellow writers. It’s always great fun to read other people’s posts … especially when they’re on topics that are totally new to me!

Along the way, though, I’ve noticed that there are five critical elements that far too many bloggers miss out of their posts.

Could your posts be missing any of these too? They are:

1.       The Hook

2.       Subheadings

3.       Transitions

4.       Links

5.       The Conclusion

#1: The Hook

I’ve never seen a blog post that didn’t have an introduction. I’ve seen plenty of posts, though, that had over-long introductions without a hook: a compelling reason for the reader to keep going.

Here’s an example of a good hook, from Laney Galligan’s post 5 Ways You Can Use Facebook Groups to Benefit Your Blog:

That’s right, more than 1 billion people are using Facebook groups. That’s where the conversation and community is happening and it’s something you can easily create for your blog.

Laney makes the benefits clear (Facebook is where “the conversation and community is happening”) and also makes an implicit promise that this post will teach the reader how to “easily create [that] for your blog”.

The first few sentences of your post, too, need to convince the reader that your post is worth their time.

#2: Subheadings

Very short blog posts (say, under 400 words) don’t need subheadings. Anything longer, though, can normally benefit from being broken into sections.

If your post is missing subheadings, it’s easy for the reader to get lost midway.  When that happens, chances are, they’ll stop reading. Subheadings help because they act like signposts: they tell the reader where they are and what’s coming next.

For more help with subheadings, check out my podcast for ProBlogger, How to Use Subheadings to Add Structure to Your Blog Posts.

#3: Transitions

A transition is like a little bridge from one thought to another. Sometimes, you don’t need a transition at all (a subheading can essentially serve the same purpose). If your post feels disjointed or abrupt in places, though, you may need to add in a quick transition.

Often, a transition is helpful before any major new section of your post. They can also be used to introduce lists.

Here are some examples, from Nicole Avery’s post How to Reduce Your Time on Social Media to Increase Your Blogging Productivity – you might want to read the whole post to see how these work in context:

There are two different ways that I see social media impact bloggers’ productivity negatively.

 

How does this behaviour on social media impact their productivity? It impacts it in three key ways:

 

It doesn’t mean that you can’t be on social media, it just means you need to take a more planned and proactive approach to how you go about it. Here are two actions you can take to help you:

#4: Links

While it’s not absolutely essential for your post to contain links, it’s almost always a good idea to include at least one. Both internal links (to your own blog) and external links (to other websites) matter.

  • Links to past posts on your blog help readers dig in … and stick around.
  • Links to posts on other people’s blogs position you as someone helpful and knowledgeable.
  • Links to your products or services help you make more sales.
  •  Links to books on Amazon can bring in affiliate income – and also make you look helpful and well informed.

It’s often appropriate to include links throughout your post, usually to give more information about a particular point. If you quote someone or give an example, you should provide a link too.

Sometimes, you might not have many opportunities to link within a post (or you may not want to distract readers – e.g. in a how-to post): if that’s the case, you could include some “further reading” or “where next?” suggestions at the end.

#5: The Conclusion

Of all the missing elements, this is probably the one that seems to get left off the most! If you finish your post too suddenly, though, it not only seems weirdly abrupt to readers … it robs you of a great chance to direct their next actions.

There are several ways to tackle the conclusion: personally, I think it’s good to sum up briefly (if only in a sentence), and to give a “call to action”. You can find out more about those in the ProBlogger podcast episode How to Write a Post That Contains a Call to Action.

Here’s an example of a conclusion that encourages the reader to take action based on the content – this is from Colin Gray’s post How to Get Your First Podcast Sponsorship:

If you’re looking to dip your toe in the waters, but sponsoring your blog is a step too far, then try your podcast. Build a relationship there and who knows, it might lead to your blog, your video channel, your social media.

If that gives you the time and the space to spend time on the content you love, offering more and more value to your readers, then it’s worth an ad spot or two. Give it a shot!

When you’re busy writing a blog post, it can be difficult to think about everything you need to include … you’re probably hurrying just to get all your ideas down.

As you edit, though, use these five critical elements as a checklist: make sure you’ve included each one – or that you’ve got a very good reason not to!

Which of these five elements do you find yourself inadvertently missing out? How could you include it in your next post? Share your thoughts or tips with us in the comments!

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

The post 5 Critical Elements You Need to Check Off for Every Blog Post appeared first on ProBlogger.

      


ProBlogger

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

Community Discussion: Should Bloggers Ask For Donations?

Bloggers calling for donations or reader contributions like “buy me a beer” or “buy me a coffee” have been around for over ten years, as has the debate over whether they should.

Now however, with more mainstream media putting up paywalls, the growth of subscription based content providers and the rise of crowdfunding, is it a better time for bloggers to put their hand out too?

As an example, it appears Guardian News and Media (Guardian and Observer) is trying to monetize its content every which way. It produces a variety of content from outside parties, categorising it as either:

  • ‘Supported by’ – editorially independent content, produced by journalists, funded by foundations and the like;
  • ‘Paid content/Paid for by’ – produced by the paper’s commercial department not journalists; or
  • ‘Advertiser content/from our advertisers’ – produced by the advertisers themselves.

Whilst they are earning money from advertisers and sponsors, the Guardian also asks its readers to ‘Become a Supporter’ (subscriber) or ‘Make a Contribution’ (donate).

Paypal has long had a ‘donate’ button you can put on your blog and even set up a recurring subscription-like donation. How would this go down with your audience?

Similarly, I’ve seen many bloggers disclose affiliate referrals to their readers as a way to ‘donate’ to help them keep the lights on or pay their internet bills.

Patreon claims to have sent over $ 150 million to creators using its membership model whereby your fans pay you a subscription amount of their choice. This model seems to be growing in popularity for creators of all kinds, but particularly podcasters and YouTubers.

Inklpay is a new player offering $ 0.10 micropayments either in the form of voluntary ‘tips’ or an enforced paywall per piece of content. Would this work for you?

At ProBlogger, we occasionally run blogging events and often receive feedback from attendees that we should charge more given the value of these events. We noticed that the event ticketing system Eventbrite now also offers a ‘donate’ option alongside its free or paid ticketing. This concept seems like those restaurants where they don’t have prices on the menus and instead ask you to pay what you think the meal is worth or what you can afford.

So, what about you? Have you ever asked for or received donations on your blog? What system do you use? Do you donate to others? Would a voluntary subscription fee, once-off contribution or a micropayment per piece of content work for you? More importantly, would your audience see value in that?

Please contribute to the production of this content by leaving your ‘tip’ in the comments below (see what I did there?!). 

(Photo by Thomas Malama on Unsplash)

The post Community Discussion: Should Bloggers Ask For Donations? appeared first on ProBlogger.

      


ProBlogger

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

209: 7 Types of Evergreen Content You Can Create On Your Blog

17 Types of Evergreen Content for Your Blog

Today I want to talk about Evergreen content, and suggest seven types of evergreen content you might like to try on your blog.

I’ve got loads of advice for you today, and in today’s show notes I have a lot of examples you’ll want to check out. Some are from my blogs, but there are also a lot from listeners who put examples of their own evergreen content in our FB group.

7 Types of Evergreen Content To Create On Your Blog

How to Content

Frequently Asked Questions

Research Results

Storytelling

Case Studies

Introductions to…

Ultimate Guides

Further Listening

Links and Resources for 7 Types of Evergreen Content To Create On Your Blog

And don’t forget to join our Facebook Group




Full Transcript
Expand to view full transcript
Compress to smaller transcript view
Hey, it’s Darren Rowse from ProBlogger here. I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast, event, job board, series of ebooks and a whole lot more all designed to help you as a blogger to start an amazing blog, to grow an audience, to create content that will change the world and make money from your blog. You can learn more about what we do at ProBlogger over at problogger.com.

In today’s episode, Episode 209, I want to talk about evergreen content. I want to suggest to you seven types of evergreen content that you might like to try on your blog. I’ve got loads of advice for you today. It has taken me a long time to prepare this show because there’s so much in it. If you want to follow along with me and get the examples that I mention along the way, I do encourage you to head over to the show notes at problogger.com/podcast/209 because there I do have some examples of the type of content I’m going to talk about today. Some of those examples are from my blogs, but also quite a few examples from your blogs.

I actually asked in our Facebook group for the members of that group to give us their examples of evergreen content. So far, I think it’s over 120 people who have shared examples. I’m going to get those examples and put them to our show notes today, at least some of them, the ones that are relevant for today’s show. Head to the show notes, problogger.com/podcast/209. There will be a list of all the examples, as well as a full transcript of today’s show and a link into the Facebook group as well.

The last thing I’ll say is make sure you are subscribed to this podcast if you’re not already. In a couple of week’s time, I’m going to continue this whole train of thought and give you at least another seven more examples. In fact, I think it might be two more episodes because I’ve already got 21 examples of different types of evergreen content. If this is floating your boat, if you are getting something out of today’s episode, make sure you’re looking out for the next one. Again, the ProBlogger show notes are at problogger.com/podcast/209.

Let’s talk evergreen content. Back in Episode 136, I introduced the idea of evergreen content as being one of the best types of content that you can put on to your blog. Today, I want to extend that episode, Episode 136, and suggest to you seven types of evergreen content that you might want to invest some time into creating on your blog. Back in that episode, I talked about why evergreen content is so great an investment of time.

If you’re not familiar with the idea of evergreen content, you’re not really sure what it is, you might want to go back and listen to that one first. But in short, evergreen content is the type of content that is relevant today when you’re publishing it, and will still be relevant in a year or two years or even ten years’ time. It’s the type of content that doesn’t date. As a result of that, it’s the type of content that you and others are able to share over and over again, after you publish it, into the future. As a result of that, it tends to be the type of content that you can repurpose into other formats as well. It often does well in search engines. As a result of all those things, it has a longer shelf life.

It’s a really good investment of your time. You might write a post today that’s evergreen and for the next few years you’ll continue to get traffic to it and be able to share it.

Back in that episode, I did give you an example of a post I wrote on Digital Photography School, it’s called an introduction to ISO settings on cameras. Not the most sexy title in many ways. I shared in that episode about how on the day I published that post, it had 100 views on its first day, which was okay. The cool thing about this post, because it was evergreen, a year later it was still getting views. In fact, the views had gone up to 200 to 300 views a day. Two years later, it was getting 700 views a day because by this stage, it began to rank in search engines.

I actually just went back and looked at that particular post in Google Analytics. Today, it has had over 1,000 visitors to it. Over the last month, it’s been averaging about that much. Since I published it many years ago now, it’s had over four million visitors to it. This is the beauty of evergreen content, it’s the type of content that you write today and in ten years’ time it still might be getting those views because it’s still relevant to your readers.

Back in Episode 136, I gave you some examples of evergreen content, some examples from my own blogs. I talked about why each one worked, but a number of people since that episode have been asking me for more on this topic of evergreen content because they’re not sure how it relates to their particular type of blog. I’ve had a number of people say, “Evergreen content is good for you because you do how to content. But what about me? I don’t have a ‘How to’ blog.”

Today, what I want to do is extend this idea, extend Episode 136 in some ways and take it in a slightly different direction and talk about different types of content that you might want to create for your blog. Again, there’s going to be lots of examples today but I’m going to cluster them together into types of articles.

My hope is that somewhere in what I’m going to present to you today and in the upcoming episodes on this topic, that you might find something that’s relevant for your blog. I really do encourage you to head over to the Facebook group where there is a thread on this topic as well. The amount of content that’s been shared there, the amount of evergreen content is just quite inspiring. There’s blogs there that are travel blogs, fashion blogs, there’s business blogs, there’s computer IT blogs, there’s a variety of blogs, weight loss blogs. Everyone has been able to find some evergreen content, so that might be a great place to head into.

Let’s get into the seven that I want to talk about today. It is also worth knowing that between the things I’m going to talk about today, there is some overlap. You might actually say that a particular post might fit into two or three of these categories as well. I do want to expand them out a little bit. Again, the show notes are over at problogger.com/podcast/209 where all the examples are listed as well.

The first category of content that I want to talk about is the most obvious one. When I asked in our Facebook group for examples of evergreen content, this by far was the most common response. It is ‘How to’ content. This is going to be no surprise to you that I’m talking about this one first, because for me it’s been my bread and butter of my own blogging over the years. Content that teaches people to make something, do something, achieve something, be something. It’s how to do, how to be, how to make, how to achieve, that type of content. This is the type of content I want to start off with. Ninety-five percent of the thousands of posts that I’ve published on my blogs would fit into this category. ‘How to’ content works very well as evergreen content because it is one of the main reasons that people go online, they tend to go online and do a search on Google for ‘How to’ information. They want to learn something about how to achieve something, be something, make something. If you are creating that type of content, you’re positioning yourself to be found on the ends of those searches, whether those searches would be happening on Google, or iTunes, or on social media as well.

Many times, these ‘How to’ topics are quite evergreen in nature. Unless you are doing a really cutting edge, ever-changing kind of niche, most of the ‘How to’ content we can create today will still be relevant at least in a years’ time if not in more than that.

‘How to’ content is also really great because it creates sticky readers. It actually makes the impression upon people. If you teach someone something, if you teach them how to do something, how to be something, how to make something, they’re going to be thankful for that and they’re going to remember who taught them how to do that. As a result, they tend to come back to your blog.

It’s also great for building credibility as well. When you teach someone something, they see you as an expert, they see you as a teacher, as an educator, and that helps to build your credibility. ‘How to’ content is very, very powerful.

As I think about ‘How to’ content, there’s a number of different ways that we can classify it. One way would be to think about the level of that content. Let me just talk for a moment about beginner ‘How to’ content, this is actually what I major on. Particularly on Digital Photography School, in the early days of that particular blog, it may actually seem really basic to write beginner-y content. I know a lot of bloggers don’t write certain blog posts because they think it’s too obvious. As I’ve said on this podcast before, it’s the obvious stuff that people are actually searching the web for.

Millions of people everyday are going to Google to ask questions they’re too embarrassed to ask their friends. This is why on my blogs, posts like ‘How To Hold A Camera’ do so well, really basic stuff that you take for granted. You know this stuff but other people don’t. Actually, writing that type of very basic content can be a very powerful thing. If you write enough of that content, you’re positioning yourself to be on the end of those millions of search results.

On my blogs, ‘How To Hold A Camera’ would be one example on Digital Photography School. Another one over on DPS is ‘Beginner’s Tips For Night Sky Photography’. I just looked at that and that’s done very well for us. It’s a beginner’s guide, I guess, to a particular type of photography. On ProBlogger, a good example would be ‘How to Start a Blog’. It’s the most basic question that a new reader might be asking when they come to ProBlogger. Beginner ‘How to’ content can be very powerful.

But ‘How to’ content for advanced people of course is just as powerful in many ways. There may not be quite as many people searching for that advance content, but there’s probably less content online that is at that advanced level as well. It can be well worth investing time into. It’s not just beginners who are searching for that type of information.

My blogs do tend to start out more on the beginner-y end. Over time, Digital Photography School started out ‘How To Hold A Camera’, ‘What is ISO?’, these very basic things. But over time, our audience began to grow up and they became more advanced because I was teaching them stuff. Typically, I begin to start writing more intermediate content, and then more advanced content. On Digital Photography School, we have posts like ‘Advanced Tips for Touch-Up Images’, which I’ll link to in today’s show notes as well.

Whether you’re writing beginner ‘How to’ content or advanced ‘How to’ content or something in between, there’s a variety of things that you can do to really get in touch with that. Brainstorm, what are your readers’ main problems? What are the main challenges that they have? What are the main obstacles that they face? What are the main processes that you can walk people through? Brainstorm around those things and you’ll come up with plenty of ideas as well. Put yourself back in your shoes, into the early days of your own development on your topic, and think about the problems that you had, the challenges that you had, the things that you needed to learn, and then write about those things.

The other thing I’ll say about ‘How to’ content is that it can take many forms. It can be written, it can be visual, it can be video, it can be audio, or a combination of those things as well. Don’t feel you have to write it, in fact, sometimes when you bring a visual element to it, in addition to the writing, it can really come alive. We find that on Digital Photography School particularly, if we do a step=by=step ‘How to’ article and we include screen grabs or pictures of different steps along the way, those posts tend to do much better than if we just write the content.

The other way to do a ‘How to’ piece is to personalize it a little bit more. You can do a ‘How I did it’ post, that’s still teaching people how to do it but it’s talking about it in terms of a story or your experience of it. ‘How I did it’, ‘How I achieved it’, ‘How I made it’. That type of post can work as well. It’s still a ‘How to’, but it’s putting it in a personal way, and it’s almost something from your past. It’s actually a tangible thing and people really like that.

You could also write in the more theoretical voice, in the third person, or you might even talk about how someone else does it. You might want to write a post that’s an observational post about how someone else in your particular industry approaches a problem. You might interview them to get that information, or you might just observe it yourself.

It’s a bit more of a case study, I guess. ‘How to’ content can take many different forms. If you want to learn a little bit more about ‘How to’ content, back in Episode 142, I did a whole episode on how to content as well.

Number one type of evergreen content that does so well for me, I’m going to continue to invest into this, is ‘How to’ content.

Number two is Frequently Asked Questions. Frequently Asked Questions, FAQs, are gold when it comes to evergreen content. If you’ve ever joined me on one of my Facebook Lives that I do, I do these ‘Ask me anything’ Facebook Lives every now and again on our Facebook page. You know if you’ve been to more than one of them that I get a handful of questions over and over again. Whilst there’s always some new and fresh questions that I’m asked, I almost always get asked things like ‘How often should I post on my blog?’, ‘How long should my posts be?’, or ‘Can you really make money from blogging?’ These are three questions I get asked all the time.

Of course, these are not new questions. As I think back to when I started ProBlogger in 2004, they’re the type of questions I got asked back then. In fact, I’ve probably been asked those three questions every week since 2004. I don’t mind answering those questions at all, but it gives me a hint as to the type of content that I should be writing on my blog and the type of content that’s gonna be great, evergreen content, because these questions don’t go away. That’s a hint to you that it’s going to be great, evergreen content. If you hear a question more than once, please, whatever you do, make a note of it and create some content that answers that question.

‘Frequently Asked’ posts can come in a variety of different types. For example, you might take one of those questions and answer it as a post. For example, on Digital Photography School, we have a post ‘What Do The Numbers On Your Lens Mean?’ This is a question we get asked semi-regularly, so we wrote a post on it. It’s a single question that the answer is the post. On ProBlogger, ‘How Often Should I Post?’ is a post that I’ve written. I’ll link to all these in the show notes, or ‘How Long Should A Post Be?’ These are where I tackle a question and the post is the answer to that.

The other type of frequently asked questions posts that you might want to do is where you answer a number of frequently asked questions in the one post. For example on ProBlogger, I could write a post—I’ve never actually done this, maybe we should. I could do a post, ‘Frequently Asked Questions of Bloggers’, or ‘Frequently Asked Questions That Bloggers Ask’. That’s an overarching one, and I might tackle all the frequently asked questions in the one post. Or, you might choose to do that on a category.

On Digital Photography School, we have a post called ‘7 Common Questions About Long Exposure Photography’. It answers seven different questions. We have another one called ‘9 Commonly Asked Questions On Shooting In Low Light’. You can see there that we’ve chosen a topic and then we’ve answered the frequently asked questions that pertain to that particular topic. Two different ways of approaching FAQ. Again, in a previous episode, I did a whole episode on FAQs as well. If you want to dig into that a little bit further, Episode 139 is a good one there. In that episode, I actually dig into seven ways to identify these frequently asked questions, particularly if you haven’t got a big readership or if you’ve got a new blog and you don’t know what the frequently asked questions are, there’s some techniques in that episode, 139, on that.

Frequently asked questions are great. I don’t tend to do a lot of them, but it’s something that I do weave into my blogs from time to time.

Number one was ‘How to’ content, number two was Frequently Asked Questions, number three type of evergreen content that you might want to try is what I would call a research results type of content.

Research results or stats or any kind of data can make amazing, evergreen content, particularly if you do the research yourself and it’s original and unique to your blog. One of the best examples, as soon as I came up with this point to talk about today, one of the examples that came straight to mind was Mike Stelzner from Social Media Examiner who every year does an annual industry report on social media marketing. I’ll link to the latest one of these in the show notes today for 2017. Every year, they do this major survey of their readers. They have a fairly large blog and they ask them a variety of questions about their experience and their use of social media over the last year. They gather all this data and then they put it together into a report. The data is so rich, it’s so good. They, from that data, are able to spot the trends in social media and opportunities for their readers. They get a lot of ideas for future content for their blog from that report, and it also makes really interesting reading for their readers themselves. They put it into a report and then they offer it to their readers as well as an opt-in. They talk about some of the data in blog posts as well.

This type of content, when you research and you provide the results of your research, is the type of content that can do very well in an evergreen way as well. Michael’s doing it every year, so that data is dating a little bit. But a year is a long time to get traffic to it. I would bet that that content is getting a lot of traffic throughout the year because it’s the type of content that people want to share and they want to link to as well because it’s original, it’s valuable. It’s not the type of thing that you can get just anywhere at all.

You might think I can’t do a major survey, I don’t have enough readers to do a major survey. There’s other ways that you can take this same idea of presenting data and statistics. A very simple thing that you can do is to run a poll on your blog, and then do a second post with the results of that. This is the type of thing that I did many times over on Digital Photography School, on ProBlogger. In fact, I just saw a poll that I did in 2006 on ProBlogger that is still getting traffic today. It was a poll that I ran on ProBlogger asking our readers how much they made from blogging.

Then, I did a second follow up post a month or so later once I collated that data. Basically, the post was just a pie chart of me showing how much bloggers made from blogging. That results page was just a simple pie chart with a few of my own comments added to it. That post, still, today gets traffic. Even though that data is particularly out of date, it’s still getting traffic today.

It’s a type of example that you can take and run with for yourself. Do a poll with your audience, pull it in the results, write a second post, and then you’ve got some unique data that you can present to your readers.

Another thing that you can do is to ask your readers an open-ended question and then summarize the responses. Again, this is something I’ve done numerous times on ProBlogger where I might ask… In fact, it’s kind of what I’m doing with this podcast today. I asked in our Facebook group for examples of evergreen content, and I could quite easily take all those examples that you’ve given me in our Facebook group and write a post about that with 101 examples of evergreen content. In fact, maybe I should do that. That itself would make really good content as well. Asking an open-ended question and summarizing the responses in some way.

There’s plenty of places that you can find good data. If, for example, in my Amazon Affiliate reports I see what cameras my readers are buying, every month or so I get that data out of Amazon Affiliates and I put it into a blog post. I create a bestseller list and then write a post, here’s the cameras that our readers are buying on Amazon. Those become posts themselves. Our readers loves those posts, I’ll link again to those in the show notes today. Anytime that you can get data, particularly if it’s unique to your particular situation, that can be really good.

The other thing I’ll say is if you can’t do research, even other people’s research, as long as you give credit, can work for evergreen content as well. You might see a study that’s relevant to your industry and then write a post about that study where you summarize some of the results, of course giving credit back, linking to the source of the data, but then interpreting it for your readers. It’s really important to make it unique in some way, make it more useful to your readers. A lot of your readers will be interested in the data, but if you can translate it, interpret it for their particular situation, that can be a very powerful thing. Research posts can do really well for evergreen content as well.

The number four type of post or content that I think does particularly well with evergreen content is storytelling. Stories don’t tend to date. This is pretty evident when you think about the kind of stories that get told today. Many of the stories that get in media today are actually really ancient ones. They get passed on from one person to another by word of mouth, or they get reinvented for new mediums as well. A good story doesn’t date. People are still interested in that.

I just listened to a podcast earlier today as a true crime podcast. The story that was told in that podcast was from the 1930s. It hasn’t dated, I’m still interested in that because the story itself is what grabs me. Tell stories on your blogs.

I’m not going to go into great detail on storytelling because again I’ve talked about storytelling in previous episodes. You can go back and listen to Episode 80 where I talk about why stories are great, but the one you really want to listen to is Episode 81 where I give you 14 types of stories that you can tell on your blog.

A few examples of good stories that have worked for us on my blogs, on Digital Photography School we did a post called ‘Using Photography To Make A Heartfelt Difference’. It’s a type of post that if you’re sensitive to heart-wrenching stories, you might not want to go and read. It actually is a story, one of our writers told about using her photography to help families going through real times of grief. That post, it just has done amazing things. One, it’s highlighted a charity that we really believe in and support. Two, it’s actually really connected with our readers. A lot of our readers go back to that post; they remember it, they share it as well.

Another post on ProBlogger, ‘How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise, and Get Paid to Change The World’. I know many of you know what this post is already, it’s the story of Jon Morrow. Jon tells his story of being paralyzed from the neck down and still making a living out of blogging. His story is so inspiring. Again, I’ll link to both of those in the show notes today.

Storytelling is amazing. Both of those posts were written over five years ago. In fact, I think Jon’s was eight years ago. Both of those posts to this day continue to get traffic to them. The story doesn’t date, it’s evergreen. Storytelling is really important.

The fifth type of content you might want to try is case studies. In many ways, a case study is a story. It’s actually one of the types of stories that I did mention in Episode 81. Case studies are very powerful, and I really wanted to pull that out from that category of story telling. I think it’s particularly useful for a lot of bloggers who don’t think they’ve got anything evergreen that they can talk about.

Maybe you’ve got a case study that you can talk about, people love case studies. They can be incredibly evergreen, unless you’re in one of those cutting edge, ever-changing industries or niches, you will find that case studies don’t date too much. Case studies are essentially stories that are not just told to make people feel something or entertain them, but they’re actually stories that pull apart a process or an experience so that those who read them can learn something from them. They often have a lesson from the story as well.

Case studies, you might think of them as fairly business orientated type of posts but actually, I think case studies can be applied to most niches. For example, maybe you’re a travel blogger. You might tell the story of taking a trip, planning the trip, going on the trip, recovering from the trip, what you learned on the trip, what you did well on the trip, what you didn’t do well on the trip, things you might do differently next time. You might pull apart your strategy for booking the trip and talk about how you do it differently. That’s a case study.

A fashion blogger might do the same thing, they might have their approach for preparing for a wedding, what outfits did you research, what did you ultimately choose, what accessories worked, what did other people wear, how did it work out with the weather, what you’d do differently next time, the lessons that you learned along the way.

These are case studies, they’re stories, they’re teaching stories in many ways and that’s a case study. These posts do really well. I guess you’re talking about an event, something that happened, how it unfolded, and what can be learned from that. There are lots of approaches that can be taken with case studies. You could tell us success case study, but also a failure case study. Sometimes, people really like those success ones, how I built a blog from scratch in three months, that type of post does really well. But then you could also do a how I sent an email to a million people that weren’t supposed to get the email and what I learned from that failure. We’ve certainly done those types of posts on ProBlogger as well.

Sometimes, those failure posts can actually be just as useful to people as the success ones. Again, these don’t date. Those types of lessons that you learn can be as relevant today as they would be in five or ten years’ time. Again, I’ve got some examples of case studies in the show notes as well, some of mine and some of yours as well.

Two more types of evergreen content that I want to talk about. They build upon each other. Number six is what I would call ‘Introductions to’. These might overlap a little bit with ‘How to’ content, or even Frequently Asked Questions because you could do an ‘Introduction to’ on a frequently asked question, but they also could be a category of their own.

As I look at my Google Analytics, this afternoon I actually spent a bit of time doing that. I see that a lot of the posts that have done really well for us over the long term, this evergreen content, have had this ‘Introduction to’. They’ve actually had those words in the titles. I mentioned one of these at the top of the show, an introduction to ISO settings. That actually wasn’t really a ‘How to’ piece of content, it didn’t really teach how to do anything, but it taught what something was. In some ways, it was a definition, but it did have a little bit of advice attached to it as well. If you go and read that post, you’ll see that it wasn’t a ‘How to’ post. That was actually a part of a series that we did, we did three parts; ‘An Introduction To Shutter Speed’, ‘An Introduction To Aperture’, and ‘An Introduction To ISO’. We linked all those posts together and we did a summary post over them all and talked about how they are the three elements in well-exposed photos. Every time I mentioned shutter speed, aperture, or ISO, we link back to those posts as well.

As you look at them, they’re all fairly short articles. They’re only like 500 or 600 words, they’re fairly basic, beginner concepts. You could of course do a more advance introduction, an introduction to a higher level topic. But particularly with those beginner type concepts, an introductory post can work very well.

Keep in mind with introductory posts, they don’t need to be super long. They don’t need to be super deep. They introduce your readers to something. They might give some first steps, they might give some definitions. They probably should link at the end of them to some reading on deeper articles. I’ll talk about that in a moment as well. People who want to go beyond the introduction then get led to something that’s more in depth.

Introductory posts can be quite broad. You could do an introduction to blogging, you could do an introduction to photography as your overarching themes, or you could drill down a little bit more and you could do some introductions to a category on your blog, or an introduction to a specific topic.

On Digital Photography School, we have an introduction to street photography, we have ‘An Introduction To Bird Photography’, we have ‘An Introduction To Choosing A Camera Lens’. These are quite broad things, these are categories of our blog, but then we also have more introductions to some very specific things. ‘An Introduction To Taking 360 Photos’, these are very niche type topics. You can do introductory topics that are broad or quite focused. That’s number six.

Number seven, the last one I want to talk about today, is almost the opposite of the introductory post. It’s ‘The ultimate guide’. While introductions type posts tend to be a little lighter and targeted to getting people started with the concept, another approach is to go much deeper. In fact, to go very comprehensive. ‘Ultimate guide’ type posts take a lot more work, they tend to be more comprehensive in their nature. They go deeper, but they can really pay off.

I’ve seen this time and time again, it’s the longer, more deep, more comprehensive articles that tend to build credibility with your readers, they make a big impression on your readers, they also tend to get a lot of shares and a lot of links and they can rank really well in Google as well. They’re also the type of content that people remember and they come back to over and over again. The other thing I said about ‘Ultimate guide’ type posts, which I’ll give you examples of in a moment, is that they can be repurposed into other types of content. You can repurpose them into an opt-in as well for your blog or a lead magnet.

They also work really well as a companion to an introductory post. For example, on Digital Photography School, we have a post, an introduction to street photography, which I mentioned before. If you’re going to look at that post, it’s ’10 Quick Tips Of Street Photography’. It’s about 1,500 words from memory, so it’s not super short but it’s not super comprehensive either. It’s a good starting point if you want to learn about street photography. But if you go and look at that article, you see at the top of it and at the bottom of it we link to our ultimate guide to street photography. Then, you got to look at that one and you see it’s over 6,000 words long, it’s really deep. It’s very comprehensive, it’s the type of article that people want to print. In fact, we give them a PDF version of it if they want to opt-in to grab that.

It’s a much meatier post as well. It’s the type of post that you can spend a good half an hour reading and really digesting, and then you probably want to share it with your friends and save it for later.

Our goal on Digital Photography School is to have an introductory post for all of these big categories, these different types of photography. We want to have those intro posts, those digestible, easy-to-read posts that give people a taste, but we want them all to link to an ultimate guide as well. We try and produce at least one ultimate guide every four to six weeks.

Again, I’ll give you some examples of these in the show notes today. We’ve got an ‘Ultimate Guide To Photography For Beginners’. Very broad category there. We’ve got an ‘Ultimate Guide To Getting Started With Lightroom’, ‘How to’ content in that particular one. ‘The Ultimate Guide To Landscape Photography’, again one of our broader categories. Again, you’ll see some examples there in the show notes. These do really well but they do take a lot of work to put together as well.

They’re the seven types of content. I really want to say right upfront that they’re just seven of many types of evergreen content. I’ve already got a list of another 14 or so that I do want to cover in a future episode in a couple of weeks’ time.

Number one was ‘How to’ content, whether that’d be beginner or advanced. Number two was Frequently Asked Questions. Number three was research results. Number four was stories, storytelling. Number five was storytelling through case studies. Number six was introductory type post, ‘Introductions to’. Number seven was ultimate guides.

I hope that you found something in there that you can gnaw away and write, something that’s going to be evergreen, something that won’t date on your blog that’s going to continue to bring life to your blog for the ongoing future.

Again, there’s lots of examples in today’s show notes that are over at problogger.com/podcast/209. Also, check out the Facebook group where there’s a thread dedicated to people sharing their examples of evergreen content. If you’ve got a good example, feel free to pop it in there. I’ll link to that thread directly from our show notes as well. I’ll link to some of those examples in the show notes today as well.

The last thing I’ll say as I said at the top of the show today, do subscribe to us on iTunes because I’ve got at least two more episodes on this topic coming out in a few weeks’ time. What will really make me happy is if you actually, as a result of this episode, create an evergreen piece of content. That’s what would really make me happy. I did not come up with this list today just to talk to myself, I really would love to see you applying it. If you do write an evergreen piece of content, can you share it with us over on that thread in the Facebook group as another example that people can get some inspiration from? That will show me that people are taking some action on this as well. You might also want to tweet me at @ProBlogger and share that example of the post that you wrote as well.

Go ahead, give it a go, see what you can come up with and share your results with us. Thanks for listening today and I’ll chat with you next week in Episode 210 where I’m going to talk about launching blogs. We’re going to pause this evergreen content and I’m going to talk about launching a blog and particularly how much content you might want to have live on your blog when you go for launch, that will be Episode 210.

Thanks for listening, chat with you next week.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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

Click Here to Subscribe to ProBloggerPLUS for Free

The post 209: 7 Types of Evergreen Content You Can Create On Your Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.


ProBlogger

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