Yoast: Your Complete WordPress SEO Toolkit

photo-1426927308491-6380b6a9936f

By ProBlogger SEO Expert Jim Stewart of StewArt Media.

Driving your WordPress website toward a higher Google ranking involves constant tweaking, which can mean hours of detailed work. Enter Yoast SEO: the one WordPress plugin that can optimise your entire site.

This comprehensive tool is the most complete SEO plugin available for WordPress, with the ability to streamline your site to increase your click through rate and ranking. Rather than spending endless hours tracking down individual problems to fix, you’ll find all your SEO functions in one compact area. You’ll have the power to make real, effective changes to your site that gives positive results.

The more often you can tempt the Googlebot to crawl your site and see what it likes, the higher chance your site will rise in the rankings. Optimising your site with Yoast SEO will do just that.

It’s the one SEO tool that you absolutely can’t do without.

Setting Up Yoast SEO

Once downloaded and installed, you’ll need to set up Yoast SEO so it works best for your website. Every site has different needs, but creating the right settings is a relatively straightforward task.

Begin with the SEO option on the dashboard menu, and then choose General. This will take you to a page that offers you general settings options for SEO. It includes a General Settings tab, which has a tour for the entire plugin if you want to see all its options. Next is Your Info, where you’ll input information about your site and your business.

Next, you’ll fill out the information on the Webmaster Tools (aka Google Search Console) tab. This allows you to verify your Google Search Console or other Webmaster tools you’re planning to use with your site. The final part of this section is the Security tab. If you’re operating a single-person site, don’t worry about it. If you’re working with multiple people on one site, you might consider disabling the advanced options for other, more casual, users.

Once you’ve finished the Your Info option, move down to the next one, Titles & Metas. For me this is probably the most important area of Yoast as it determines what Google can crawl & index on your site. Most bloggers sites I see have this set up incorrectly. The settings will differ slightly depending on how your site is built and what sort of blog it is but the goal is the same. Eliminate duplication. Duplication of your content can hurt your ranking efforts as Google may have difficulty understanding which page it should rank. Under Post Types, normally we would “noindex” things like media or gallery pages and some custom post types if it makes no sense for Google to index them. Similarly, forms, lightboxes, or other plugins may be generating content you don’t really want or need Google to index. You can simply select noindex on those post types. The other major area to look at is the Taxonomies tab. On most sites, we would noindex categories & tags. That may be different for your site depending on how you use them, but for most they are simply duplicating what can be found elsewhere.

pb-yoast-1

The other section you should spend some time in and familiarise yourself with, is the sitemaps section. I’m surprised the amount of bloggers I speak to that have not submitted a sitemap to Google Search Console. I explain it all here

Unless you have a multi-Author blog, noindex your Author Archives. Once again, for most sites we don’t want Google crawling the archives as they are simply a duplication of content found elsewhere on the site.

pb-yoast-2

This, and every section after this, is very simple to fill out, while being crucial for getting the SEO correct on your site. Take the time to read each section carefully and fill out each answer thoroughly.

Using Yoast SEO

Now that Yoast SEO is set up on your site, go to the left side menu on your dashboard and choose All Posts or All Pages, depending on which ones you want to check. You’ll see a column marked “SEO” on the right side of the screen.

This column gives each page or post a score, rating its SEO “friendliness,” the likelihood that Google will like it:

  • A green dot is good, Google will approve
  • A grey dot means there’s no information available for Yoast SEO to judge
  • A yellow or orange dot means there’s something that can be fixed on the page
  • A red dot is, of course, the worst. It means the page/post has significant problems

This process won’t tell you exactly what each page needs for improvement, but it’s great for triage. It organises your work to tell you where you’re needed most.

After a while, you will get a feel for how to write a post that is optimised well simply by following these scores. 

Click on an individual page to open it to the page editor, and you’ll find the Yoast SEO toolbox underneath the page’s content. Here you can customise your description tag, page title and add a “focus keyword” which will tell you how well you have optimised for it. Think of this as the SEO training area. You need to strike a balance between using your keywords whilst maintaining readability.

Tweaking your site with Yoast SEO can give you incredible results, but don’t worry about turning every dot green on the entire site. Use some logic when changing your page details. Remember though, it is just a tool and your results will depend on how well you use it. Like every plugin, Yoast SEO isn’t perfect, but it’s the closest you’ll come to having an SEO professional on your staff, 24 hours a day.

Jim Stewart, CEO of StewArt Media, is a recognised digital marketing expert. Jim is ProBlogger’s SEO expert and will share his vast SEO knowledge to equip you with the systems and skills to optimise and monetise your blog using tried and tested techniques. What Jim doesn’t know about SEO and blogging isn’t worth knowing.

The post Yoast: Your Complete WordPress SEO Toolkit appeared first on ProBlogger.

      


ProBlogger

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Yoast: Your Complete WordPress SEO Toolkit

photo-1426927308491-6380b6a9936f

By ProBlogger SEO Expert Jim Stewart of StewArt Media.

Driving your WordPress website toward a higher Google ranking involves constant tweaking, which can mean hours of detailed work. Enter Yoast SEO: the one WordPress plugin that can optimise your entire site.

This comprehensive tool is the most complete SEO plugin available for WordPress, with the ability to streamline your site to increase your click through rate and ranking. Rather than spending endless hours tracking down individual problems to fix, you’ll find all your SEO functions in one compact area. You’ll have the power to make real, effective changes to your site that gives positive results.

The more often you can tempt the Googlebot to crawl your site and see what it likes, the higher chance your site will rise in the rankings. Optimising your site with Yoast SEO will do just that.

It’s the one SEO tool that you absolutely can’t do without.

Setting Up Yoast SEO

Once downloaded and installed, you’ll need to set up Yoast SEO so it works best for your website. Every site has different needs, but creating the right settings is a relatively straightforward task.

Begin with the SEO option on the dashboard menu, and then choose General. This will take you to a page that offers you general settings options for SEO. It includes a General Settings tab, which has a tour for the entire plugin if you want to see all its options. Next is Your Info, where you’ll input information about your site and your business.

Next, you’ll fill out the information on the Webmaster Tools (aka Google Search Console) tab. This allows you to verify your Google Search Console or other Webmaster tools you’re planning to use with your site. The final part of this section is the Security tab. If you’re operating a single-person site, don’t worry about it. If you’re working with multiple people on one site, you might consider disabling the advanced options for other, more casual, users.

Once you’ve finished the Your Info option, move down to the next one, Titles & Metas. For me this is probably the most important area of Yoast as it determines what Google can crawl & index on your site. Most bloggers sites I see have this set up incorrectly. The settings will differ slightly depending on how your site is built and what sort of blog it is but the goal is the same. Eliminate duplication. Duplication of your content can hurt your ranking efforts as Google may have difficulty understanding which page it should rank. Under Post Types, normally we would “noindex” things like media or gallery pages and some custom post types if it makes no sense for Google to index them. Similarly, forms, lightboxes, or other plugins may be generating content you don’t really want or need Google to index. You can simply select noindex on those post types. The other major area to look at is the Taxonomies tab. On most sites, we would noindex categories & tags. That may be different for your site depending on how you use them, but for most they are simply duplicating what can be found elsewhere.

pb-yoast-1

The other section you should spend some time in and familiarise yourself with, is the sitemaps section. I’m surprised the amount of bloggers I speak to that have not submitted a sitemap to Google Search Console. I explain it all here

Unless you have a multi-Author blog, noindex your Author Archives. Once again, for most sites we don’t want Google crawling the archives as they are simply a duplication of content found elsewhere on the site.

pb-yoast-2

This, and every section after this, is very simple to fill out, while being crucial for getting the SEO correct on your site. Take the time to read each section carefully and fill out each answer thoroughly.

Using Yoast SEO

Now that Yoast SEO is set up on your site, go to the left side menu on your dashboard and choose All Posts or All Pages, depending on which ones you want to check. You’ll see a column marked “SEO” on the right side of the screen.

This column gives each page or post a score, rating its SEO “friendliness,” the likelihood that Google will like it:

  • A green dot is good, Google will approve
  • A grey dot means there’s no information available for Yoast SEO to judge
  • A yellow or orange dot means there’s something that can be fixed on the page
  • A red dot is, of course, the worst. It means the page/post has significant problems

This process won’t tell you exactly what each page needs for improvement, but it’s great for triage. It organises your work to tell you where you’re needed most.

After a while, you will get a feel for how to write a post that is optimised well simply by following these scores. 

Click on an individual page to open it to the page editor, and you’ll find the Yoast SEO toolbox underneath the page’s content. Here you can customise your description tag, page title and add a “focus keyword” which will tell you how well you have optimised for it. Think of this as the SEO training area. You need to strike a balance between using your keywords whilst maintaining readability.

Tweaking your site with Yoast SEO can give you incredible results, but don’t worry about turning every dot green on the entire site. Use some logic when changing your page details. Remember though, it is just a tool and your results will depend on how well you use it. Like every plugin, Yoast SEO isn’t perfect, but it’s the closest you’ll come to having an SEO professional on your staff, 24 hours a day.

Jim Stewart, CEO of StewArt Media, is a recognised digital marketing expert. Jim is ProBlogger’s SEO expert and will share his vast SEO knowledge to equip you with the systems and skills to optimise and monetise your blog using tried and tested techniques. What Jim doesn’t know about SEO and blogging isn’t worth knowing.

The post Yoast: Your Complete WordPress SEO Toolkit appeared first on ProBlogger.

      


ProBlogger

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PB149: Series of Blog Posts vs Long Blog Posts – Which is Better?

The Pros and Cons of Long Posts

Today, we have a question from Emma Cameron

“Hi Darren, I love your podcast!

I found your 7 day intensive blogging series very helpful, and it led me to write a post I might never have gotten around to otherwise. In answering my most frequently asked question, which is ‘What is Art Therapy’? This has turned into an incredibly long post which covers things which are not easily found elsewhere online.

I have a question for you: is it better to leave it as a single, very long, authoritative and useful evergreen post, or should I split it up into several shorter posts?

Which of those would be better for getting my website seen by more people, ranking higher in Google etc?”

ProBlogger_149

In Today’s Episode the Pros and Cons of Long Posts

  • Writing a long post – Pros
    • Readers get all of the information on one post
    • It can increase reader satisfaction
    • They can be quite comprehensive and authoritative
    • Long posts get shared a lot
    • Long posts can rank well in Google – possibly because of increased links or a ranking preference
  • Writing a long post – Cons
    • Long form content takes a lot of effort to research and write
    • Unless you are an amazing writer, some of the readers may not get all the way through it
    • Can be draining to the author when it comes to ideas for the long run
  • Series of posts – Pros
    • More posts to sustain you over time
    • SEO advantage – the more focused your posts are there can be SEO advantages – A series of posts all linked to each other may rank for smaller key phrases
    • Interconnected posts can help with SEO – Internal links
    • A series can build momentum and give your readers a sense of anticipation
    • A series may help build subscriber count
    • Can help build more page views – good for stats
    • A series may motivate a blogger to write more
    • Can be used like a free course for your readers
  • Series of posts – Cons
    • Some readers will prefer to get it all at once
    • Can sidetrack your whole blog for a bit

Another option is maybe you can do both. Run a series, then compose all of it into a particular piece of content. This content can be used for an optin form or even sold as a PDF version.

Further Resources on the Pros and Cons of Long Posts



Full Transcript
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This week, I received a great email, a lovely email from Emma, one of our listeners of the podcast who asked me this question.

She wrote, “Hi Darren, I love your podcast! I found your seven day intensive blogging series very helpful, and it led me to write a post I might never have gotten around to otherwise. In answering my most frequently asked question, which is ‘What is Art Therapy?’ this has turned into an incredibly long post which covers things which are not easily found elsewhere online.

I have a question for you: is it better to leave it as a single, very long, authoritative and useful evergreen post, or should I split it up into several shorter posts? Which of these would be better for getting my website seen by more people, ranking higher in Google?”

Great question Emma, and thanks for listening. I really do love that you enjoyed the Blogging Groove Challenge. I had a lot of very positive feedback and still can see in the Facebook group a lot of people still working through those seven challenges. This is a great question and I do have some thoughts on the topic and it’s one that I think bloggers should really ponder because there’s many times where it probably does make sense to write a long post and there’s some times where a series makes more sense too.

I want to give you some thoughts on how to make that decision. Before I get into that, for the next few weeks we’re going to go back to a weekly show. We usually publish two podcasts episodes for week but while our ProBlogger event is on and it is going to be on in a week and a half from this episode goes live.

I just want to scale things back a little bit for a couple of reasons. Firstly for those of you who are coming along to the event or who are buying the virtual ticket, I don’t want you to be too overwhelmed with the sound of my voice. But also for my own sanity and my team’s sanity, just want to scale things back a little bit while we do focus on getting that event up and running. The episodes will come out on a weekly basis for the next couple of weeks.

Hopefully this will also give those of you who are still working through the Blogging Groove Challenge an opportunity to catch up a little bit and take a breath. We did do seven episodes in seven days starting back in Episode 137. This gives you a chance to really catch up on that.

The last thing I’ll say speaking of the ProBlogger event, if you’d love to come along to the live event here in Australia on the Gold Coast, there still are a few tickets left for live attendees but you need to be quick and head over to probloggerevents.com. There’s an opportunity there to buy a live ticket. Those of you who want to join us at the virtual ticket, head over to problogger.net/virtualticket. You can get access to all 50 recordings and slides at the training sessions at the event, and you also get access to a Facebook group that we’ve got going for virtual ticket holders and live ticket holders and you also get access to all the recordings from last year’s event as well.

Now, I want to tackle Emma’s question about long form content versus a series of shorter posts. The question of writing long posts versus breaking up posts into short posts and publishing them as a series is one that I do get fairly regularly. I know it’s something that a lot of bloggers invest a lot of time into writing a long post like Emma has. Often look at it and think this could be a whole month’s worth of content, this could be a lot of content that I could really break down. The temptation is many times to break it into a series.

Sometimes, it actually is better for your readers if you do that and sometimes it’s better if it’s a long form piece of content. There’s no right or wrong answer on this one but there are certain situations where I think either one is probably the preferable thing to do. I want to give you some pros and cons of long posts and pros and cons of series of posts. Hopefully as I work through these, the answer will become clearer for you and for others who are asking this particular question.

On one hand, we’ve got the option of writing a long post. The good things about long post, the beauty of this is really that your readers get all of their information on a topic in one uninterrupted post that they don’t need to keep coming back to over time and they don’t need to be clicking from one page to another to get all the information.

I guess you really do need to keep in mind your readers on two fronts here. Firstly, you’ve got those who are reading your latests posts. Those of you who are coming to your blog, they don’t want to have to wait sometimes for the next three weeks to get all the information if you’re going to split it up. Also, those who are coming to your blog in a couple of months time and are finding your old content. Sometimes, it gets a little bit annoying clicking from link to link to link as well. The beauty of having that one post, that one long post, is that it can increase reader satisfaction and really make it easier for them to get all of your great information in one place. That’s purely from the reader’s perspective.

The other good thing about long posts is that as you’ve mentioned in your question, Emma, there’s a sense that they can be quite comprehensive and authoritative. This gives you, the writer, some satisfaction that you’ve written something really helpful and it’s really impressive for a reader to come to a post that may be 2,000, 3,000, or 5,000 words long. There’s something very meaty about that. This can build credibility, can build authority, and it can also help to get your post shared a lot.

What I found with a lot of our long posts, they do get shared a lot. I suspect that’s because people feel good about sharing something that’s very meaty and comprehensive. People notice the effort that you’ve gone to that is above and beyond to give them lots of good information. That’s another advantage of having a long post.

I’ve also noticed some of our longer posts tend to rank really well in Google. You’ve asked about Google in your question. The reason that they’re raking well in Google may be that they get shared a lot more and they get linked to a lot more than some of our shorter posts. People are impressed by them but I have heard some SEO experts argue that longer posts can rank better than shorter ones as well.

Certainly, there seems to be in my mind, in my experience, once you get past 500 or 600 words, Google does tend to take notice of the post as well. That’s not to say it has to be super long to get to that stage.

There could be an argument there that longer posts will rank better as well but I have also seen some of our really short posts rank pretty well as well. I don’t want to just say long is the only way to go if you want to rank.

A couple of good reason there to write a long form piece of content. One, it gives your readers a sense of satisfaction. It will impress your readers as long as the content is good and can help build some authority and credibility. It can increase your shares and it can also help you as a result of those shares and links as well as the length to rank a little bit better in Google.

On the negative side of long posts, there are definition some things that you’ll want to consider. Firstly, this probably doesn’t really apply to Emma because she’s already written the post, but a long form piece of content can take a lot of effort to research and write, take a lot of time.

I find some of my longer pieces have taken me several days and a lot of real effort and a lot of real intense effort to get them done and a lot of discipline as well. I remember writing one post that was over 7,000 words long and I knew from the start that it was going to take a long time to write it. I found motivating myself to write that piece of content a real effort, I’m not the most disciplined person in the world.

That’s not to say that just because there’s a lot of work involved it’s a bad thing. Good things do take work. If you are someone who struggles with motivation and struggles with getting things done, they maybe there’s an argument for a shorter post. As I’ve said, in Emma’s case she’s already written it, so well done.

Another challenge with long posts is that unless you’re an amazingly gifted and engaging writer, some of your readers probably won’t get through to the end of your post. A long form piece of content may not have as much impact for that reason on your readers. The reality is some people scan content online, some people don’t have much time, some people are on a mobile device where they may not feel like they really want to keep swiping and swiping and swiping. Some people get distracted halfway along an article. In terms of having an impact upon your readers, there might be an argument there for breaking things down into bite sized pieces so that readers can consume it in separate instances rather than expecting them to sit and wade through a long piece. That might be a factor.

Some types of content will perhaps be a little more boring, a little more dry. You might want to break them down in some way. I’ve seen some studies talk about how people reading content online respond better to short, sharp pieces of content. Having said that, I’ve also seen some long pieces that have big impact upon people as well because they are written in a good way. There’s pros and cons there.

Another problem with a long, comprehensive post is that they can actually drain you as the author of ideas that could sustain your blog for a longer period of time. Let me give you an example, I talked to one blogger recently who published his very first post on his blog. It was a mega post, it was 9,000 words long and it was everything he knew about his topic of his blog, about the whole niche. The post was amazing, 9,000 words of really useful, actionable content.

He published it and then he sat down to start brainstorming ideas for future posts and he felt like he already wrote everything he knew. He had nothing left to write. Every time he would start to write a new post, he would say I already talked about that, I already gave all my tips on that in that first post. Sometimes, a long post can be impressive to your readers but it can drain you of all your ideas as well.

This particular blogger wished he had written 20 to 30 shorter posts over his first month or so that contained exactly the same information as the big one. He realized he could’ve broken it down and had a whole month’s worth of content as well.

There’s some pros and cons there of long form content. As I said, there’s no right or wrong answer. On the flip side, let’s look at the series of posts. Again, there’s some pros and cons. Some of the advantages of writing a series of posts gives you more posts to sustain you over time as my blogging friend found out in the example that I just gave, to be able to break that post down that you’ve written into maybe three or four posts might give you a couple of week’s worth of content which gives you a bit of a break from writing or enables you to prepare some other content or do something else on your blog as well. That’s an advantage potentially of having a series.

On a search engine optimization perspective, I think there is an advantage of series of posts sometimes as well. The more focused your posts are, that can have some advantages with SEO. Instead of having one long post that might be quite broad and overarching in its topic, it might rank really well for that overarching phrase that you’re using but it may not be able to rank for some of the more focused keywords in your niche. A series of posts might allow you to rank for a lot of keywords over time.

For example if I was on my photography blog to write a mega post on how to take a well exposed photo, that post might contain ten subtopics within it. It might contain information on shutter speed and aperture and ISO, seven or eight other topics. That pots might rank quite well for something like How to Take a Well Exposed Photo but it’s not going to ever rank for shutter speed or ISO or aperture. A series of posts that over time I roll out and they all link to each other might give the same information to my readers but I might be able to rank for all of those smaller key phrases.

I guess here it really depends on what you want to rank for. If you want to rank for a really broad term, then a long megapost might be your best bet. If you are more interested in ranking for ten more focused terms, then a series might be better as well. A series of posts, there being more pieces of content, creates more ways into your site. Again, there’s some advantages and disadvantages there in terms of an SEO perspective.

Other advantages of a series of posts, lots of interconnected posts can, some people argue, help with search engine optimization. Search engines tend to like links, they tend to like websites that are interlinked, lots of internal inks from one page to another can help Google to rank your site.

One of the things I love about a series is that it can build momentum on your blog. Regular posts that build from one day to the next give your readers a sense of anticipation. They show your readers that you’re putting some thought, you’re taking them on a journey. Sometimes, readers can really respond very well to that. They feel like this blogger is really taking me on a journey, they’re really being thoughtful with the content that they’ve got.

A series of posts can build anticipation in your readers as well and that can actually help you to get more subscribers as well. If someone comes across your first post in a series and it promises that tomorrow you’re going to write a second post, that builds anticipation and that might give them a reason to subscribe. One of the things that I do suggest if you have a series is always at the end of the post mention that there’s another one coming and then give people an option to subscribe so they can get notified when that particular post goes live.

Series are great for building momentum, they’re also really good if you’re interested in getting more page views in your site. This is particularly relevant if you monetize your blog using an ad network like Adsense. It’s a CPM advertising where you get paid every time someone views the ad. This can be good for your stats and for earnings if you do monetize in that way.

A series of posts can also motivate a blogger to write more. I talked before about how long form piece of content can be really draining to write and can take a lot of time and energy. If you struggle to write something of that size and to motivate your self, a series of posts might help you to break it down into more bite sized chunks. The idea for me of writing a massive long post that’s 9,000 words is not the most attractive thing, that doesn’t turn me on. I know I can sit down right now and write a thousand words on something, or 500 words on something. Breaking it down can help you to be motivated to write.

One last thing I will say about a series of posts is that it can actually almost be used like a free course for your readers. This sense of building anticipation and building momentum with your readers can be really great. I’ve seen it work very well. For example if you announce you’re going to tackle a big topic over the month of September which is coming up, something that’s going to be valuable to your readers, offer to email them every time a post in that series goes live. It could be a really great way of building your email list and giving your readers a sense that they’re on an event.

A good example of this is the challenge that we just did in this podcast, Seven Days to Get Your Blogging Groove Back. That was something I didn’t have an email list to associate with but by putting that on, it created this event for people to join and for people to get excited about. It’s hard to exactly explain why it works but it gives people a sense of belonging to something and they are participating in something. The idea of an event really can bring a blog to life.

I’ve seen this happen many times with series of posts. 31 Days to Build a Better Blog started as a series of blog posts that we did over a month. It showed me just how powerful it was to create events on your blog that people can join into. Sometimes, a series, particularly if a series is a participatory type things like the Blogging Groove Challenge, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, it wasn’t just about teaching people, it was about getting people to do something. A series that has some sort of action associated with it can be very powerful.

Let’s lastly think about the downside of doing series. For me, the main downside of a series of posts is that some of your readers will simply prefer to get it all at once. It can be frustrating to have to wait for the next post in the series or to click from one post to another post to another post. All it takes is for one of those links from one post or the other to be missing or to be broken and then the person can’t find the end of the series. That can be a negative experience and very frustrating for ur readers.

I know for a fact that I prefer to get all my information in one go in most cases. I don’t want to have to wait for the whole story. This becomes particularly frustrating when you get very bits with your content, when you do a series just for the sake of building more page views. We’ve all been to those sites which make you click the next button 40 times to get to the end of the piece of content and they break it down into such minute bits that it gets really frustrating.

Another negative of a series is that it can actually side track your whole blog a little bit. If you have a blog which has normal content, every week you might have the same type of post and then suddenly you want to do a month long series that just looks at one aspect of your blog? For people who aren’t interested in what you’re doing in the series, that can actually be very frustrating. They don’t want that thing that you’ve gone off on a tangent, they just want what you normally do. A series can actually stop momentum for people who aren’t engaging in the series itself.

I found this when I did 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, there was some of my readers who didn’t want to participate in that series. But for the whole month, that’s all I did. They were like where’s the rest of the stuff that you do? That was lots of short posts and they’re all activities that people can do, some people wanted longer form tutorials. You’ve got to think about do you cater for those readers as well, do you write extra content in there, how do you bring everyone along on the journey? You want to really think about how long your series is, is it going to be every post that you do, are you going to give something else for other people as well?

How do you make the choice I guess is the last question. I’ve talked about the pros and cons of series and long form, there is no right or wrong choice here. Either one can work, I personally have had really success with both options.

In my early days, I think I probably use series of posts more than I do these days. I really enjoyed writing in that way. I found it easier to write a series of short posts than one longer one. I felt that they created momentum, I found particularly when there was interactive components to them like 31 Days to Build a Better Blog and then Blogging Groove Challenge that people really responded well. I would put down some of the growth of my blogs to the fact that I did do those types of challenges and series of content.

I also think there’s an advantage if you are tackling a big topic and you want your readers to be able to really digest the topic and do something with it. Sometimes, breaking it down can be good as well. Teaching someone something that’s very complicated and you want them to take their time in digesting that, sometimes it might be better to do that in a series of posts as well.

I would really encourage you to think about a series of posts. I think from time to time, maybe a few times a year, a series can be really the feature of your year. Personally, I try and do two or three series of posts every year. They worked really well. I wouldn’t want every post I do on my blog to be a part of a series, I think there’s real value in sprinkling in some longer form content as well, or as your readers could end up getting a bit annoyed with you. You’re always leaving them hanging and waiting for the next thing. Definitely do a bit of both.

The last thing I would say is that maybe you could do both with this piece of content that you’ve written, Emma. Maybe you don’t have to choose just one or the other. One of the approaches that I’ve experimented with a number of times is running a series of posts and then combining all the parts of that series into one other piece of content. You might do a series of five posts on this particular topic, run it over a week or two weeks, let your readers really digest that. At the end of that time, say for those of you who want the whole thing that you can print or that you can share with someone else, here’s a PDF version of it and actually give them the whole lot as a second piece of content.

You might even make that a part of an opt in. You might say if you want the whole lot for printing or for sharing or for referring to later, just shoot me your email address and I will send you a copy of that.

The other thing you might like to do is sell that long piece of content. This is what I did with 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. 31 blog posts that were combined together into a PDF, I added a little bit more content to it in that first version and then I offered it for sale. I was really skeptical that anyone would want that but it turns out that many thousands of our readers did want that long form piece of content that they can work through time and time again. I think the reason for that was partly that it was long form, partly that I organized that long series of posts into one easily digestible piece of content, and also it was a very interactive series as well. That might be one thing to consider that actually turned out to be my most profitable ebook on ProBlogger. Well worth considering and an option to really do both of what you’re asking as well, Emma.

I hope that’s been helpful for you.

If you enjoyed the ProBlogger podcast, I would love it if you would head over to iTunes and give us a rating and a review. I look forward to chatting with you next week. Thanks!

How did you go with today’s episode?

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The post PB149: Series of Blog Posts vs Long Blog Posts – Which is Better? appeared first on ProBlogger Podcast.


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Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately?

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

There’s a buzz of excitement here as PBEvent 2016 gets ever closer! I am obsessively going over my slides, information is being emailed, awesome competitions to win cool blogging stuff are being run, and there’s tons of chatter and getting-to-know-yous in the Facebook group for attendees – bring on the 9th and 10th of September! (and that’s not just because I’m dying to get out of the Melbourne chill and into some beachy sunshine).

How Lesser-Known Models Navigate Instagram and Snapchat | Racked

Not everyone can be at the top of the game, but you can still be successful as a mid-range influencer, blogger or online creative. The numbers pressure is still there, but you can make it work for you.

6 Website Design Tips that Will Have Your Audience Licking Their Screens | Copyblogger

That title will make much more sense when you read the article! But the truth is, design plays a huge part in how your audience will receive your stuff. Are you happy with how your site looks right now?

From Podcast Host to Full-Blown Personal Brand Entrepreneur, with Colin Gray | Chris Ducker on YoupreneurFM

Colin Gray talks to Chris Ducker about how he’s developed his podcast into a long-standing business based around his personal brand (and how you can too!). Colin has written some great posts here on ProBlogger recently, if you missed them:

How to be a Smart Breaking-News Consumer on Social Media | OnMilwaukee

This is so important – in the rush to retweet or share something pertinent with your audience, you might be getting it so, so wrong. It’s so easy to publish fake news and images these days. Make sure you don’t get fooled! There can also be huge ramifications for sharing incorrect information.

How a GIF of Aly Raisman’s Floor Routine Got Me Permanently Banned from Twitter | Jim Weber

And this too! The consequences for sharing content that doesn’t belong to you – even if everyone else is doing it – can throw a spanner in the works (and if you’re really unfortunate, cost you a lot of money).

how_to_start_a_food_blog

How to Start a Food Blog and Change the World | The Blog Tyrant

It’s one of the fastest-growing niches, and one that can be quite lucrative. This is a pretty hefty post! There’s plenty of “start a blog” posts about (we have a super-thorough one here, which is packed with resources), but if you’re looking for one with a particular foodie bent, then you’ll find some extras on Ramsay’s post.

5 Years of Business Firsts | Jon Loomer

Jon takes us back through the early days of his blog, the mistakes he’s made, and the tips he used to grow into the Facebook expert hub it is today. We all have wobbly early years! Don’t let that keep you from trying.

What Twitter’s New Quality Filter Actually Does | Edgar

I’m excited about this! As are (I assume) the perennially trolled.

The Secret Sauce to Shareable Visual Content Your Audience Will Devour | Socially Sorted

Once again Donna nails it with her epic visual social content knowledge! She really knows her stuff.

Marketing in Four Steps | Seth Godin

You may as well hear it from him if you’re resistant to the message that you have to show up and do the work. Consistently. There is no easy money, not even online.

What’s caught your eye this week?

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

      


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Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately?

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

There’s a buzz of excitement here as PBEvent 2016 gets ever closer! I am obsessively going over my slides, information is being emailed, awesome competitions to win cool blogging stuff are being run, and there’s tons of chatter and getting-to-know-yous in the Facebook group for attendees – bring on the 9th and 10th of September! (and that’s not just because I’m dying to get out of the Melbourne chill and into some beachy sunshine).

How Lesser-Known Models Navigate Instagram and Snapchat | Racked

Not everyone can be at the top of the game, but you can still be successful as a mid-range influencer, blogger or online creative. The numbers pressure is still there, but you can make it work for you.

6 Website Design Tips that Will Have Your Audience Licking Their Screens | Copyblogger

That title will make much more sense when you read the article! But the truth is, design plays a huge part in how your audience will receive your stuff. Are you happy with how your site looks right now?

From Podcast Host to Full-Blown Personal Brand Entrepreneur, with Colin Gray | Chris Ducker on YoupreneurFM

Colin Gray talks to Chris Ducker about how he’s developed his podcast into a long-standing business based around his personal brand (and how you can too!). Colin has written some great posts here on ProBlogger recently, if you missed them:

How to be a Smart Breaking-News Consumer on Social Media | OnMilwaukee

This is so important – in the rush to retweet or share something pertinent with your audience, you might be getting it so, so wrong. It’s so easy to publish fake news and images these days. Make sure you don’t get fooled! There can also be huge ramifications for sharing incorrect information.

How a GIF of Aly Raisman’s Floor Routine Got Me Permanently Banned from Twitter | Jim Weber

And this too! The consequences for sharing content that doesn’t belong to you – even if everyone else is doing it – can throw a spanner in the works (and if you’re really unfortunate, cost you a lot of money).

how_to_start_a_food_blog

How to Start a Food Blog and Change the World | The Blog Tyrant

It’s one of the fastest-growing niches, and one that can be quite lucrative. This is a pretty hefty post! There’s plenty of “start a blog” posts about (we have a super-thorough one here, which is packed with resources), but if you’re looking for one with a particular foodie bent, then you’ll find some extras on Ramsay’s post.

5 Years of Business Firsts | Jon Loomer

Jon takes us back through the early days of his blog, the mistakes he’s made, and the tips he used to grow into the Facebook expert hub it is today. We all have wobbly early years! Don’t let that keep you from trying.

What Twitter’s New Quality Filter Actually Does | Edgar

I’m excited about this! As are (I assume) the perennially trolled.

The Secret Sauce to Shareable Visual Content Your Audience Will Devour | Socially Sorted

Once again Donna nails it with her epic visual social content knowledge! She really knows her stuff.

Marketing in Four Steps | Seth Godin

You may as well hear it from him if you’re resistant to the message that you have to show up and do the work. Consistently. There is no easy money, not even online.

What’s caught your eye this week?

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

      


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4 Creative Ways to Build Buzz for Your Next Blog Post Before It Goes Live

pexels-photo (1)

This is a guest contribution from Bill Achola.

I remember those days when I thought writing a blog post was enough.

I would invest all my efforts on choosing the right topic, writing a quality blog post, making it smart, funny, and engaging, adding interesting pictures, carefully crafting an eye-catching format, and choosing the right time to post.

I would weigh all my options, do all the hard work, hit ‘publish’, and then wait for the traffic to pour in.

It didn’t.

It wasn’t until I had wasted a considerable amount of effort that I realized that effectively promoting a blog post is as important as, if not more so, than writing quality content.

In a blogosphere full of unwanted noise, your goal is to make your voice heard above all the others. Your goal is to attract audiences who might be interested in what you have to say and how you choose to say it. For that, you need to find creative ways to promote a blog post before you even write one.

But how exactly can you do that?

After all, not all of us can invite Drake to help promote our next offering. So, you need to rely on these four creative ways to build buzz for your next blog post before it goes live.

1. Reach Influencers Through Pre-Outreach

Influencers are every blogger’s personal gold mine. They are the gateway to blogging heaven, the key to success. The right influencers can drive valuable traffic in droves to your blog. Each of the influencer’s audience is your personal resource which you can tap into to get more hits on your blog post.

You can have separate influencers for separate platforms. And the ways to reach audiences on each of these platforms are oddly specific. For instance, consider how Wilson Hung describes his experiences in promoting his blog posts on Reddit: 

A few days before I publish an article, I look for recent Reddit posts related to my article. I then send a PM to Redditors who commented in the article asking if I have their permission to follow up with them when I release a similar Reddit post. When your blog post finally goes live, you can promote it on Reddit and send a PM to all the people who gave you their permission. This may sound like a lot of work, but soon you’ll build a list of army upvoters that will help ensure you hit the #1 spot in a specific subreddit for each article you post.

A successful example:

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 5.39.37 pm

2. Use ‘Weak Ties’ To Generate Early Buzz

But what exactly are weak ties, you may be wondering? And how do you use them to promote your blog post?

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 5.41.06 pm

Weak ties, by definition, are the antithesis of close friends on social media. They are acquaintances that you might not even talk to once a year. Think about it. How many friends do you have on Facebook? How many of them do you speak to regularly?

Not many, I suppose. Your weaker friends may not be valuable to you from a social perspective. But they are highly important resources from a promotional perspective. Sure, they might not all be digital marketing experts. They might not even be influencers in your field.

But who cares? They do have friends, don’t they? And they can share your articles with those friends, can’t they? Even if you reach five of your weaker ties, you are reaching five separate audiences. You’re increasing the likelihood of your article being read and shared by a factor of five.

According to Ronald S. Burt:

Indeed, it might not be who or what you know that creates advantage, but rather more simply, who you become by dint of how you hang out—the disadvantaged hang out with folks just like themselves, while the advantaged engage folks of diverse opinion and practice.

3. Use The ‘Content Roadshow’ Technique

The Content Roadshow technique was developed by Brian Dean as a means to generate backlinks for your content. You can also use it to promote your blog post even before you begin to write it.

But what exactly is the Content Roadshow technique?

In simpler terms, it’s a way to search for leading authors for your topic and reach those authors individually to promote your content. Since these authors are well-read experts in your field, gaining their support will be highly beneficial for your blog.

Here’s how Brian Dean describes the Content Roadshow technique:

I usually just Google keywords related to my content and find other bloggers. Then I reach out to those people that come up in those results. I will send an email and just ask if they want to check it out. If they are interested, I’ll send the content and ask them what they think. It’s very simple. People will thank you and share it with their audience.

Did you notice that the process begins with looking up keywords? Finding the right keyword ideas is the first step of the Roadshow technique. Once you narrow down a list of appropriate keywords, it’s time to begin emailing the prospects.

Here’s an example of the email draft:

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 5.41.40 pm

4. Email Brands That Have Been Mentioned In Your Post

Even some of the most successful brands and services are always looking for publicity and ways to reach newer audiences. And if you do that for them, they’ll respond positively as well.

For instance, if you plan to link an article or a successful blog in your content, you can email the original author, asking whether they would be interested in sharing the content with their readers.

Formulating the email is crucial. If you do it right, you’ll be surprised by the response you receive. Here’s what Melyssa Griffin has to say about that:

Your initial email is fairly crucial, especially because many brands receive plenty of these types of emails each day. My best advice? Keep it short, descriptive, and to the point. Don’t add entire paragraphs about your blog or a three-page collaboration idea that they have to download as a Word document. Rather, keep your email to a few sentences.

Reach For The Stars

Experience is not just about learning from the mistakes. It’s about learning from the mistakes of others as well. And the best way to avoid what I went through is to follow these four steps from the very beginning.

Reaching for the stars is not easy, but taking the first step is.

So what are you waiting for?

Bill Achola is a content marketing consultant specializing in content writing and marketing at Billacholla.com. He works closely with B2B and B2C companies providing the right content that generates traffic and revenues back to their business.

The post 4 Creative Ways to Build Buzz for Your Next Blog Post Before It Goes Live appeared first on ProBlogger.

      


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How Working Fewer Hours Can Increase Your Productivity

How working fewer hours can increase your productivityBy ProBlogger Productivity Expert Nicole Avery.

We live in a culture that assumes the more hours you work the more work you are doing. Stories are traded of working past midnight or working 10 hour days with no breaks with great pride and being sleep deprived due to work, is treated by many as a badge of honour. But is it productive?

If you look at the statistics, it appears not:

working_hours_picture_1_2

The above graph shows the productivity (GDP per hour worked) in relation to the number of hours worked in OECD countries. The trend is clear: the more hours worked the less productive we are.

Personally this is something I have worked out the hard way. At the end of 2014 I was so close to quitting blogging. I was caught in the working longer hours trap. I would work some hours while the kids were at school, then once they were off in bed I would start my second shift and work late into the night.

I found myself in the position where it seemed, no matter how many hours I worked, I couldn’t keep up. Sometimes we need to reach a low point before we make change and this was the case for me. I shared on ProBlogger last year the steps I took to turn this around and you can read more about it here, but the biggest impact was changing my work schedule and working fewer hours.

Working fewer hours when you are struggling to keep up can seem contradictory, but productivity isn’t about the volume of hours you work, it is about your work output. I set new work boundaries for myself. I was no longer going to do a second shift. My workday would end when the kids were home from school and I would have at least one day every weekend that was work free.

As I made the changes to my work schedule, the results on my productivity were instantaneous. Working tired all the time is ineffective, things take longer, you are more easily distracted and there is an increase in procrastination. Taking adequate breaks away from the blog allowed me to refresh, rest and have time for thinking, all of which helped increase my productivity when I was working.

Associate Professor Cal Newport even has a formula to explain why working more hours isn’t necessarily more productive:

work accomplished = time spent x intensity of focus

You can use this formula to see if working fewer hours can help you increase your productivity. Newport uses an intensity of focus rating of 1 – 10 with 10 being the highest level of focus.

In my example back in 2014, after working until 11.00pm the day before my work accomplished the next day would have looked something like this:

  • 10:00am – 11:00am – 6 intensity of focus
  • 11:00am – 12:00pm – 5 intensity of focus
  • 1:00pm – 2:00pm – 4 intensity of focus
  • 2:00pm – 3:00pm – 4 intensity of focus

This would give me a work-accomplished result of 19 units of work for my four hours of work. Then I would have my second session in the evening:

  • 8:00pm – 9:00pm – 3 intensity of focus
  • 10:00pm – 11:00pm – 2 intensity of focus

This would give me a work-accomplished result of five units of work for my two hours of work and a total of 24 units of work for my six hours of work time that day.

Compare this to my current schedule, where I do not work at night and am in bed by 10:00pm:

  • 10:00am – 11:00am – 10 intensity of focus
  • 11:00am – 12:00pm – 9 intensity of focus
  • 1:00pm – 2:00pm – 9 intensity of focus
  • 2:00pm – 3:00pm – 8 intensity of focus

I estimate that for my four hours of work my output is 36 units of work, a 50% increase in my productivity compared to my 2014 example. And my current output confirms this formula to be correct. I am working about half as many hours as I was working, for more output. This year I have started a podcast and have almost completed a new product to sell from the blog – neither of which I did when I was working in the evenings.

It can be scary to think about working less, but if you think about the times when you have achieved your greatest work output, you will most likely find commonalities like you were well rested and focused. Working longer hours is not conducive to creating this state, so take the plunge and revamp your work schedule to work fewer hours, but work more effectively in those hours you work.

How many hours a week are you working on your blog?

The post How Working Fewer Hours Can Increase Your Productivity appeared first on ProBlogger.

      


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PB148: Juggling Family Life and Blogging? Here’s some Tips on Getting the Balance Right

Finding a Balance Between Family Life and Blogging Life

Today, we are talking about family and blogging.

One of the reasons I was attracted to blogging was because it seemed like something that would allow me to have some flexibility in my life and time for family.

ProBlogger_148

Today, I’m going to talk about how that turned out, and the struggle and tensions that can arise when blogging with family around.

My blogging career didn’t turn out quite as we expected it would, but my full-time blogging does allow me flexibility and to be involved with day to day family life.

By working at home, I can greet my kids at the door after school, attend daytime school concerts, give my kids rides when needed, and take my son to a cafe on Fridays.

There are also challenges with working at home and being so close to family all of the time. Family and blogging demands can pull on each other and achieving balance can be a challenge.

In Today’s Episode Family Life Blogging Life Balance – Tips on Getting it Right

  • Set aside time for blogging or your business and set time aside for your family – Carve out times where you are 100% focused on each
  • Become as organized as you can be – I get more done when I have less time because I plan better
  • Communicate your boundaries – The schedule doesn’t work unless you communicate it to those around you
    • I talk about my work and share with the kids
    • Set up signals and reminders that I am focusing on work, if I’m in my office I am working – this will eliminate distractions – physical separation and signal – if the door is shut, I am not to be disturbed
  • Have the ability to work outside the home – cafes, libraries, I rented a room in a church, I also found a co-working space – mixing up the working environment helps with creativity and eliminates distractions
  • Have a way to capture ideas on the run – ideas and inspiration in the middle of family time – use a notebook or phone with apps like Evernote
  • Extended time away from blogging is useful – I spend 3 or 4 weeks a year where I don’t check my blog at all – good to unwind – good for business to come back fresher
  • Delegate and outsource – Getting other people involved in some of the work of my business has helped me considerably  
  • Get help in other areas of your life – a cleaner or a gardener
  • Make peace with the tension and be mindful and keep priorities in mind, there will be times that you get out of balance.

Further Resources on Family Life Blogging Life Balance – Tips on Getting it Right

Virtual Ticket for upcoming ProBlogger Conference



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Darren: You can do it.

Mr. Five: I can’t getting it.

Darren: Hi there, welcome to ProBlogger.

Mr. Five: Hi there, welcome to Progg…

Darren: Say it again.

Mr. Five: Hi there, welcome to Pro…dagger

Darren: ProBlogger.

Mr. Five: Pro…B…Blogger

Darren: ProBlogger.

Mr. Five: ProBlogger.

Darren: Pro, I said it wrong. ProBlogger.

Mr. Five: Plo…Blogger.

Darren: We should change the name to something else, what should it be?

Mr. Five: Hi there, welcome to the Rowse Family.

Darren: The Rowse Family, that would be much easier and nice to say.

Mr. Five: Today we’re talking about family and blogging.

Darren: Hi there, it’s Darren from ProBlogger here. That was Mr. Five, we’ll call him. He’s my five year old son. He’s home with me today.

It made me think about a question that I get asked quite a bit. How do you juggle family life and blogging life?

Ever since I’ve been in blogging, I blog from home. This has been a bit of a juggle for me because I started blogging when I was newly married. We were dreaming of having a family, having kids. Once we didn’t have them yet, one of the reasons that I was first attracted to the idea of blogging as a way of earning money and building a career in blogging was that it seemed like something that would enable me to have some flexibility and would enable me to have work but also be involved in my family and the raising of my kids.

That’s what I want to talk a little bit about today. How did that turn out? Some of the expectations didn’t quite turn out to come true but some of them did. I want to talk a little bit about that juggle because there is some tension there. Most of you who are blogging and raising a family, or blogging at home where there are family distractions, noise around will know some of those tensions.

As I said when I start blogging, one of the things I was attracted to was this ability to have some flexibility in my life. Our early plan, Vanessa and my early plan with blogging was that it would be a great part time job for me to have and we would both work part time and share caring for the kids.

At that time, we had no idea really what blogging was going to lead to. We had no idea how big blogging would become as an overall medium but also for us in a personal way.

As my income in my blogging grew, we quickly discovered that the income being generated by my blogging was going to exceed Vanessa’s earning capacity. Some of her dreams shifted as we began to have kids as well. In the end, we decided that she would be the primary caregiver of the kids and also do some part time work and I would work full time on my blogging.

She’s now become a blogger as well but that’s another story for another day. I guess why I’m telling you this story is that things didn’t quite turn out as we expected with regards to blogging. But it certainly has been something that has given us as a family incredible flexibility.

It’s allowed me whilst I do it full time on my blogging to be very involved in the day to day of family life. I work at home, which means I’m here when the kids leave for school and preschool. Mr. Five who you just met before goes to Kindergarten, pre-school here.

I’m here when they return home, I usually make a point to greet them at the door when they come home and at least connect with them for a few minutes before I get back to work. I’m able to drop them off at school, pick them up from school when needed, and go to mid-week school concerts and activities from time to time as well. Be involved in classrooms as a volunteers at times as well. I love that. I love that.

Today is actually a really good example of that. It’s Friday here. On Friday mornings, every Friday morning almost, I take my eight year old to a local café before he goes to school for some one on one time. That’s something I did with my eldest child who is now 10 for a couple of years as well. In this time we spend time doing his homework, or he does his homework, he reads to me, then we have a chat over hot chocolate. I’m not sure that that kind of time would have happened if I was working in another kind of job and I had to commute. Blogging’s been really flexible in that way.

This afternoon, I’ve got Mr. Five at home with me. Vanessa’s taking an interstate trip with the girlfriend for a girl’s weekend. Again, it’s only because I’m blogging that I could see having the opportunity to be involved in this way and have some flexibility around that.

Another great thing I love about blogging and the flexibility that it brings is that it can be done anywhere in the world that there’s internet, at least. There’s an opportunity to travel as a family beyond what annual leave of a job might be able to give us. Last year for instance, we took a month of traveling in the US. I went over to speak at Social Media Marketing World, then we continued to travel for three or four weeks after that. Also, I was able to blog from the road at night and then have fun during the days going to Disneyland and all of the other things that we were able to do over that particular trip.

There’s definitely some upsides about blogging when it comes to family. These are things that do attract many people into blogging. Many people in fact start blogging in the time within a transition of family. Many of the attendees of that comfort start blogging because they’re home for the first time having kids after having a professional career. They want to engage some of the skills that they’ve brought up in that career. Blogging affords them the ability to do that.

There’s definitely challenges also. Anyone who works from home whether they’re a blogger or have some other kind of business or work that they do at home knows some of those challenges particularly when there are kids involved.

Today, I want to share with you a few of the lessons that I’ve learned along the way. I want to say really upfront is that I’m no expert in this. There are times where the balance for me between family and work gets out of balance one way or the other. Sometimes family actually competes with work. I don’t spend enough time working because things build up in family and have to be done. There are other times where work can get in the way of family as well. I do not want to portray anything today saying, “I’ve go this fully worked out.” But I have learned a few things along the way over the last thirteen years of juggling this.

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve got three boys. You met Mr. Five before, there’s Mr. Eight and Mr. Ten. They’ve all just had birthdays in the last few weeks. Three boys, it’s a pretty crazy house at times but we have learnt a lot of things along the way.

Here’s a few of those lessons for you. The first thing I’ll say is that I think it’s really important to set aside time for blogging or for your business, and time for your family. The temptation is to try blog while also doing the family stuff. There are times where you just have to do that. You have to blog when the kids are there in front of you, or while you’re supervising them, or while they’re watching a movie, or while something else is going on. But what I discovered is that I am a much better parent when I’m 100% focused on my kids. I’m a much better blogger when I’m 100% focused upon my blog.

Not all of us have the luxury of being 100% focused on either of those activities at all times but I think it’s really important to try and carve out some times where you are 100% focused upon your family and 100% focused upon your blogging.

For me, ultimately, my family is my number one priority. I would drop everything else for them if it came to that. But in order to serve them and to feed them, to cloth them, I have to have some kind of income. My family has to have income coming in. As a result, business also has to be a high priority for me and it’s also something I enjoy doing as well.

For my own benefit, for my own mental health and satisfaction and having meaning in my life, I want to set aside time to blog as well. For me, we’ve come up with, or for us, we’ve come up with a bit of schedule in terms of the times that I blog, and in the times that I work, in times that are for family.

For example, this is how it works for us at the moment. This is a bit of a fluid kind of schedule, different life stages, and on different days and different weeks, it does change a little bit. But in general, the time before 9:00AM in the morning is almost always 100% focused on my family. The time from 9:00PM to 5:00PM during weekdays is almost 100% focused upon my business. The time after 5:00PM until about 7:30PM, 8:00PM is almost 100% focused upon my family and particularly the kids.

The time from 7:30PM, 8:00PM onwards, is usually dedicated to Vanessa although sometimes we mutually agree that it would be an evening that we dedicate to work because Vanessa works at home as well. There are probably two or three nights a week where we sit on the couch next to each other and work, and maybe have the television on in the background. And then there’s another couple of nights a week where we just hang out together and have a chat just watch together, or do something else.

There’s the weekends. For me, most of the weekends are pretty much dedicated to family. Occasionally we will do a little bit of work, maybe on one of the evenings just to schedule some social media. But most of the weekends are pretty much dedicated to the family.

That’s how it works for us. As I mentioned before, that’s changed over the years to suit the stage of life that our family’s at. Also on any given day, we may kind of talk about how things might run a bit differently from day to day. For example today where Vanessa’s out, I’m spending most of the afternoon with Mr. Five. It doesn’t really matter how you start through. I almost hesitated to share how we do that because every family will be different, every individual will be different. The key is to attempt to find some time where you can dedicate your focus purely to blogging, to business, and purely to your family. I think both your family and your business are going to benefit from that.

The next thing I’ll say is that then it really becomes a matter of becoming as organized as you possibly can be particularly in those times when you’re 100% focused upon your work. Today for example, I’ve only got two or three hours this morning to purely work, to be 100% focused on my work. I had to make a decision this morning about how I was going to spend that time. I actually find the days where I have less time to work are the days that I’m usually most productive. I actually get more done when I only have a half day to work than if I’ve got a whole day. You tend to fill up your time when you’ve got lots of it doing all kinds of stuff that doesn’t really matter. Today, I came out with the list of the things that I needed to achieve today in those three hours.

There’s a whole heap of tips that we could give around organization but for me it really boils down to working out what is important, making a list, and ticking off those things.

Having said that, there will be times where you probably are doing a bit of a juggle. I know many of the listeners of this podcast listening to my show are going that’s totally unrealistic for me, I don’t have that much time. I don’t have the luxury of being able to focus 100% on my blog. I know a lot of parents are juggling a lot. It’s just unrealistic to do that, you might have little kids at home and not be able to have someone else help out in that way.

There are, I guess, other things that you can do in those times when you are juggling things like today for example. Today as I looked at my time, I said to myself I’ve got these three hours where I can be focused 100% upon my business. In those times, you can be 100% focus, it may only be for 45 minutes when your kid has a nap. There are the times that I would suggest you put a time, that time aside to create. Personally, I find it really how to create content when the kids are there in the room with me. That’s the time where I, if I do have a 45 minute break where I can work, usually I will dedicate that sort of time to being creative.

There will be other times in this afternoon, I’m sure there’ll be times where I’ll be 100% focused on Mr. Five and there will be a few other times where he’ll enable me to do a little bit of work and that’s totally fine. He’s quite content at times to play by himself, or he might watch an episode of one of his favorite shows, or play outside if it stops raining.

There would be a few times where I know I would be able to do a little bit of work. It’s in those times that I won’t create, I’ll do my email, I will do social media. These are things that don’t take as much creative energy from me.

I guess what I’m trying to encourage you to do here is if you’re juggling kids and work, and there are times where you can work but you also have to be aware of the family around you, I guess think about the activities that you do in those times. Try in the times where you can fully focus upon you work, you use those times to create and the other times to do more administrative type things.

Another tip I’d give you is communicating your boundaries. I’ve just run through with you my schedule of how I spend my time knowing that is good for me. But it only ever really works if you communicate it with those around you. For me, that’s more of a conversation and me just sign to my family this is the way it’s going to be this week.

Ultimately, it’s a conversation I have with Vanessa to work out those boundaries about how our family’s going to run. We do from time to time ask our kids and involve our kids in our family schedule as well. We think it’s important that they take some ownership over that. But then I guess it’s about trying to communicate to our kids the priorities as well.

There’s a couple of things that I try and do here. Firstly, as my kids are getting older now, I’m trying to have more and more conversations about my business and what I’m doing with my business. They know I’m in my office a fair bit of time. I think it’s important that they know what I’m doing. I talk about my work. When we have dinner together as a family, we go around the table and everyone shares something that they did today. I try and talk about the types of things that I’m doing. What is a podcast? What am I talking about in my podcast? I’ll tell them tonight about this podcast. What is the work that I’m doing?

Helping them to understand that, but also trying to help them to understand why I do it. I think that’s really important as well. They understand that the reason that I work is because I enjoy it, I’m trying to help other people through my work, but I’m also trying to make some money for our family. I think it’s important to share those types of things. That’s certainly the way that I was brought up.

Second thing for me in terms of communicating with your family is we try to set up little signals and reminders to the kids particularly around those times that I am focusing upon my work. Now, for me, this mainly comes down to the fact that I work in my office. If I’m in my office, it’s a signal to them that I’m at work. I rarely work in front of my kids, in the family areas of the house. I generally don’t work in the kitchen, or in the laundry, in the living room. I generally work in my office unless they’re not home or they’re in bed. Sometimes, I would do work on the couch at night but they’re in bed.

This is good for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it means when I’m working, I’m eliminating some of the distractions that come with working in family areas. Luckily, my office is at the front end of the house. The family areas are at the back. That does gives some separations. It also gives them the signal that I am working and that I need to focus.

The other thing that I do is that I have this amazing tool, it’s called a door on my office. It’s great because it’s the signal. If the door is shut, my kids know that I need to focus, and I need not to be distracted, and I need them not to interrupt me unless it’s an emergency, unless it’s really important. If the door’s open, I keep it open quite a bit when they’re home, it means that I’m happy for them to disturb me. This is just a little signal that we’ve kind of built in. I communicate around. I remind them of it.

There are times where they ignore it and they do burst in when I’m doing a webinar in front of a thousand people. That’s happened a number of times. But most of the time, they’re pretty respectful of that, even Mr. Five. It works out pretty well.

It’s also good for Vanessa as well. She knows not to come down and ask what’s going on or to my arrangements for the evening when the door is shut as well. That’s particularly useful.

I know other people have other signals in their family. I know one friend who puts on a shirt and tie when he’s at work even though he works at home. It helps him to get in the zone for his work, helps him mentally to kind of get in that zone but also shows his family that he’s in work mode. He has to work in a family area because they live in a small house. He’s got his tie on, occasionally even puts a suit on. That’s the signal to his family that he’s trying to work.

I know someone else who has a little sign that they put on their office door. They actually work in the second living area in their house. That area sometimes is a family area, sometimes it’s a work area. He will shut the door and he’ll put a little sign on it similar to what you put on the hotel door to tell housekeeping that you want your room to be serviced. His sign says something like, “I’m at work” or “Come and say hi.” He flips it around depending on what’s going on at that time. These little signals to family to help put boundaries around that work can be useful as well.

Another thing that I’ve tried numerous times over the years in different ways is to have the ability to work out of the home as well. There are certain times where it’s just too hard to work at home. I have the luxury of having Vanessa at home as  well so I can leave the home. I know some people don’t have that luxury as well. But for me, there’s been a number of ways that I’ve worked out of the home. For many years, it was working out of cafés. Many of you who are long term ProBlogger readers will have read blog posts where I’ve talked about working out of cafés. That’s been great. I quite like working in that environment where there’s some white noise, where there’s other people around, I find that kind of semi social. But then there are other times where I’ve worked out of libraries. Our local library has a nice little area where it’s relatively quiet. There’s desks, it’s a nice little environment to work.

In more recent times, I found a room in a local church that I’ve hired for me and my team to work out of. Most Friday mornings is the time where, one it gets me out of the house, and away from family.  My son is usually home on a Friday morning so it gets me away from the family, gives them some space where he can be a little bit noisy but also it gives us a space to work as a team.

Also over the last six months, I found a co-working space not far from where I live where I can pay a daily right to spend time. It’s got wifi, and a printer, and coffee machine, and all of that type of stuff. That’s a bit of a social environment as well.

I find those types of environments good because they do mix up my working environment which I think helps me with my creativity but also gets me out of the home, away from some of those distractions at home. Particularly if I need to really get something done, if I’m working on a big project, if I’m working on an ebook that I’m writing, or a keynote that I’m about to deliver, I often will go up to the co-working space where I just find being away from the distractions of home. I’m able to be super productive on those days.

Another quick tip that I’ll give you is to have a way to capture ideas on the run. As much as I try and separate out blogging and family times, I do find that I get all kinds of ideas and inspiration in the middle of family time. I used to always carry a little notebook around with me so that I could capture those ideas on the run. But these days, I use my phone, I use Evernote or other note taking apps. Occasionally, I’ll write those down, type them onto my phone. Other times, I’ll record them as a little audio file as well. I find capturing those ideas on the run is really useful. Many times, those ideas don’t come back again. I find my memory’s not that great. To be able to have them there to come back to after I’ve been with the family, when I’m back in the work mode, is good as well.

I’ve got three more tips to give you. Firstly, I find extended time away from blogging to be really useful as well. I did mention earlier that I love blogging because I can do it from anywhere in the world, it enables me to blog while on the road, having vacations, have more vacations perhaps as a result of that. I think it’s also really important to have extended time away from your blogging as well where you can for an extended period of time just dedicate yourself to family and to other things in life.

I try and have at least three, maybe four weeks a year where I try not to check my blog at all. There’s at least a week away from blogging. Usually for me, two of these weeks are over the Christmas break herein Australia in summer. We usually go away for a couple of weeks down to the beach. This is a just a good time because it’s for family, it’s for me to unwind, it’s good for my mental health, for my family, but it’s also I find good for my business as well to have a little bit of time where I’m not paying attention to it. I usually come back fresher.

It is hard to completely get offline. For me, I find myself get a bit edgy over the first few days. But after a couple of days, I’m usually pretty good at. Also I think it’s probably a particularly useful thing if you blog about everyday stuff, or you blog about things like travel which could easily turn into content. I think having time where you’re not capturing and creating content is important for you, but it’s also really important for your family.

Not every experience that you have needs to be captured and turned into content. It’s tempting when you are on holiday, when you are traveling and seeing interesting things, and getting ideas. But I think sometimes resisting that temptation to turn into content is good for you, but that’s probably even better for your family.

I have talked to a number of bloggers and their families who feel the kids end up feeling like they have been turned into content. There’s a tension there around that. I guess create memories, not just content, when you’re away. I know that’s hard. I particularly now that’s hard being married now to a blogger who does blog about travel. There’s is a bit of tension that within Vanessa with that. I encourage you to wrestle with that particular one.

Second last tip is to delegate and outsource. One of the things that really helped me so much over the last three to four years particularly is that I’ve been able to get other people involved in some of the work with my business. This has taken time. You obviously need to have some income before you can start paying people to help you. If you’re at that point where your blog has grown and you’ve got some income, consider investing some of that income into getting people alongside you to help you.

For many, many years, probably the first eight or so years of my blogging, I tried to do it all which meant I had to be constantly online, I had to be moderating comments around the clock because the spammers were getting in and I had to monitor my tech, whether my servers are up, I was getting alerts during the nights saying my service were down.

One of the best things I ever did was to begin to get other people to help me with my blogging. I think I spoke about in my last episode about how one of the best things I ever did was getting Simon on to help me with my customer support emails. That freed up so much time for me to focus upon the things that I was best at within my business but also freed up a whole lot of time for family and for the rest of my life. I’ve become less of a workaholic as a result of getting other people involved in my business.

It does obviously add up to the expense of your business that maybe something that you need to be working towards. It’s I think enabled me to build a better blog which is better for my readers but also better for me and my family as well.

I guess the other area that you might want to consider getting help in is other areas of your life. I’ve touched on this in other podcast as well. Again, you might need to wait until you’ve got some bit of a steady income from your blogs. Perhaps by investing some of that income into getting help around the home, maybe with child care, maybe with getting a cleaner, or getting someone to help with the garden. Maybe that will also enable you to find some more time for your business but also for you family.

That’s something that may come overtime as well. We do a bit of that. We don’t have any full time help by any means around the home but we do from time to time have people come in and help us with gardening, and some cleaning. Occasionally, particularly when life is getting busy to help us to free up a little bit of time to do other work but also spend better quality time with our family.

Those are the main tips that I’ve got for you today. I guess the last thing I’ll say is you’ve got to make peace with this tension that you’re probably feeling. I think it’s probably healthy to feel that. Most bloggers do have this tension. We have a limited amount of time. How we spend that, I think it’s good to have some tension around that. Good to be mindful about that and to be thinking about that and to be intentional about that.

The key for me really is about communication and trying to keep your priorities in mind. There will be times where you will get out of balance. That’s natural and it may even be a good thing as long as you’re aware of where things are out of balance and you’re able to rectify that in times as well.

I’d love to hear your tips on this particular topic. It’s one that I know many of our readers do struggle with. How do you juggle your business life, your family life, and the rest of your life as well? It may not be that you have kids, but maybe there’s tension that you feel like you could be doing more of other activities as well. How do you keep that all in balance? Do you keep it in balance? I’d love to hear your thoughts on that particular question as well.

Mr. Five: Thanks for listening to my Dad today. Please buy a ProBlogger ticket so I could go to Disneyland.

Darren: See you later.

Mr. Five: See you later.

Darren: Mr. Five would really love to go to Disneyland. If you’d like to help him get there, you can buy a virtual ticket for the ProBlogger Conference. If you head over to problogger.net/virtualticket, you’ll find all the information of the virtual ticket for the upcoming ProBlogger Conference which gets you access to 50 sessions of content recorded at the live event plus 23 sessions of great actionable content from last year’s event. All the information is available for you at problogger.net/virtualticket.

How did you go with today’s episode?

How do you balance your business life and family life? How do you keep it all in balance? Do you keep it all in balance? I’d love to hear your tips.

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The post PB148: Juggling Family Life and Blogging? Here’s some Tips on Getting the Balance Right appeared first on ProBlogger Podcast.


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How Working Fewer Hours Can Increase Your Productivity

How working fewer hours can increase your productivityBy ProBlogger Productivity Expert Nicole Avery.

We live in a culture that assumes the more hours you work the more work you are doing. Stories are traded of working past midnight or working 10 hour days with no breaks with great pride and being sleep deprived due to work, is treated by many as a badge of honour. But is it productive?

If you look at the statistics, it appears not:

working_hours_picture_1_2

The above graph shows the productivity (GDP per hour worked) in relation to the number of hours worked in OECD countries. The trend is clear: the more hours worked the less productive we are.

Personally this is something I have worked out the hard way. At the end of 2014 I was so close to quitting blogging. I was caught in the working longer hours trap. I would work some hours while the kids were at school, then once they were off in bed I would start my second shift and work late into the night.

I found myself in the position where it seemed, no matter how many hours I worked, I couldn’t keep up. Sometimes we need to reach a low point before we make change and this was the case for me. I shared on ProBlogger last year the steps I took to turn this around and you can read more about it here, but the biggest impact was changing my work schedule and working fewer hours.

Working fewer hours when you are struggling to keep up can seem contradictory, but productivity isn’t about the volume of hours you work, it is about your work output. I set new work boundaries for myself. I was no longer going to do a second shift. My workday would end when the kids were home from school and I would have at least one day every weekend that was work free.

As I made the changes to my work schedule, the results on my productivity were instantaneous. Working tired all the time is ineffective, things take longer, you are more easily distracted and there is an increase in procrastination. Taking adequate breaks away from the blog allowed me to refresh, rest and have time for thinking, all of which helped increase my productivity when I was working.

Associate Professor Cal Newport even has a formula to explain why working more hours isn’t necessarily more productive:

work accomplished = time spent x intensity of focus

You can use this formula to see if working fewer hours can help you increase your productivity. Newport uses an intensity of focus rating of 1 – 10 with 10 being the highest level of focus.

In my example back in 2014, after working until 11.00pm the day before my work accomplished the next day would have looked something like this:

  • 10:00am – 11:00am – 6 intensity of focus
  • 11:00am – 12:00pm – 5 intensity of focus
  • 1:00pm – 2:00pm – 4 intensity of focus
  • 2:00pm – 3:00pm – 4 intensity of focus

This would give me a work-accomplished result of 19 units of work for my four hours of work. Then I would have my second session in the evening:

  • 8:00pm – 9:00pm – 3 intensity of focus
  • 10:00pm – 11:00pm – 2 intensity of focus

This would give me a work-accomplished result of five units of work for my two hours of work and a total of 24 units of work for my six hours of work time that day.

Compare this to my current schedule, where I do not work at night and am in bed by 10:00pm:

  • 10:00am – 11:00am – 10 intensity of focus
  • 11:00am – 12:00pm – 9 intensity of focus
  • 1:00pm – 2:00pm – 9 intensity of focus
  • 2:00pm – 3:00pm – 8 intensity of focus

I estimate that for my four hours of work my output is 36 units of work, a 50% increase in my productivity compared to my 2014 example. And my current output confirms this formula to be correct. I am working about half as many hours as I was working, for more output. This year I have started a podcast and have almost completed a new product to sell from the blog – neither of which I did when I was working in the evenings.

It can be scary to think about working less, but if you think about the times when you have achieved your greatest work output, you will most likely find commonalities like you were well rested and focused. Working longer hours is not conducive to creating this state, so take the plunge and revamp your work schedule to work fewer hours, but work more effectively in those hours you work.

How many hours a week are you working on your blog?

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4 Creative Ways to Build Buzz for Your Next Blog Post Before It Goes Live

pexels-photo (1)

This is a guest contribution from Bill Achola.

I remember those days when I thought writing a blog post was enough.

I would invest all my efforts on choosing the right topic, writing a quality blog post, making it smart, funny, and engaging, adding interesting pictures, carefully crafting an eye-catching format, and choosing the right time to post.

I would weigh all my options, do all the hard work, hit ‘publish’, and then wait for the traffic to pour in.

It didn’t.

It wasn’t until I had wasted a considerable amount of effort that I realized that effectively promoting a blog post is as important as, if not more so, than writing quality content.

In a blogosphere full of unwanted noise, your goal is to make your voice heard above all the others. Your goal is to attract audiences who might be interested in what you have to say and how you choose to say it. For that, you need to find creative ways to promote a blog post before you even write one.

But how exactly can you do that?

After all, not all of us can invite Drake to help promote our next offering. So, you need to rely on these four creative ways to build buzz for your next blog post before it goes live.

1. Reach Influencers Through Pre-Outreach

Influencers are every blogger’s personal gold mine. They are the gateway to blogging heaven, the key to success. The right influencers can drive valuable traffic in droves to your blog. Each of the influencer’s audience is your personal resource which you can tap into to get more hits on your blog post.

You can have separate influencers for separate platforms. And the ways to reach audiences on each of these platforms are oddly specific. For instance, consider how Wilson Hung describes his experiences in promoting his blog posts on Reddit: 

A few days before I publish an article, I look for recent Reddit posts related to my article. I then send a PM to Redditors who commented in the article asking if I have their permission to follow up with them when I release a similar Reddit post. When your blog post finally goes live, you can promote it on Reddit and send a PM to all the people who gave you their permission. This may sound like a lot of work, but soon you’ll build a list of army upvoters that will help ensure you hit the #1 spot in a specific subreddit for each article you post.

A successful example:

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 5.39.37 pm

2. Use ‘Weak Ties’ To Generate Early Buzz

But what exactly are weak ties, you may be wondering? And how do you use them to promote your blog post?

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 5.41.06 pm

Weak ties, by definition, are the antithesis of close friends on social media. They are acquaintances that you might not even talk to once a year. Think about it. How many friends do you have on Facebook? How many of them do you speak to regularly?

Not many, I suppose. Your weaker friends may not be valuable to you from a social perspective. But they are highly important resources from a promotional perspective. Sure, they might not all be digital marketing experts. They might not even be influencers in your field.

But who cares? They do have friends, don’t they? And they can share your articles with those friends, can’t they? Even if you reach five of your weaker ties, you are reaching five separate audiences. You’re increasing the likelihood of your article being read and shared by a factor of five.

According to Ronald S. Burt:

Indeed, it might not be who or what you know that creates advantage, but rather more simply, who you become by dint of how you hang out—the disadvantaged hang out with folks just like themselves, while the advantaged engage folks of diverse opinion and practice.

3. Use The ‘Content Roadshow’ Technique

The Content Roadshow technique was developed by Brian Dean as a means to generate backlinks for your content. You can also use it to promote your blog post even before you begin to write it.

But what exactly is the Content Roadshow technique?

In simpler terms, it’s a way to search for leading authors for your topic and reach those authors individually to promote your content. Since these authors are well-read experts in your field, gaining their support will be highly beneficial for your blog.

Here’s how Brian Dean describes the Content Roadshow technique:

I usually just Google keywords related to my content and find other bloggers. Then I reach out to those people that come up in those results. I will send an email and just ask if they want to check it out. If they are interested, I’ll send the content and ask them what they think. It’s very simple. People will thank you and share it with their audience.

Did you notice that the process begins with looking up keywords? Finding the right keyword ideas is the first step of the Roadshow technique. Once you narrow down a list of appropriate keywords, it’s time to begin emailing the prospects.

Here’s an example of the email draft:

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 5.41.40 pm

4. Email Brands That Have Been Mentioned In Your Post

Even some of the most successful brands and services are always looking for publicity and ways to reach newer audiences. And if you do that for them, they’ll respond positively as well.

For instance, if you plan to link an article or a successful blog in your content, you can email the original author, asking whether they would be interested in sharing the content with their readers.

Formulating the email is crucial. If you do it right, you’ll be surprised by the response you receive. Here’s what Melyssa Griffin has to say about that:

Your initial email is fairly crucial, especially because many brands receive plenty of these types of emails each day. My best advice? Keep it short, descriptive, and to the point. Don’t add entire paragraphs about your blog or a three-page collaboration idea that they have to download as a Word document. Rather, keep your email to a few sentences.

Reach For The Stars

Experience is not just about learning from the mistakes. It’s about learning from the mistakes of others as well. And the best way to avoid what I went through is to follow these four steps from the very beginning.

Reaching for the stars is not easy, but taking the first step is.

So what are you waiting for?

Bill Achola is a content marketing consultant specializing in content writing and marketing at Billacholla.com. He works closely with B2B and B2C companies providing the right content that generates traffic and revenues back to their business.

The post 4 Creative Ways to Build Buzz for Your Next Blog Post Before It Goes Live appeared first on ProBlogger.

      


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