Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately?

Reading Roundup: Blog news with ProBlogger

This week’s posts made me want to live in an RV and perennially chase the warmer weather while reading more novels and finding creative ways to stay well-clear of writer’s block. Quite a good week, if I’m being honest!

I think it’s probably because it’s grey and drizzly here (autumn is well on the way) that I’m dreaming of an endless summer road trip…

How This 27-Year-Old Made $ 1 Million Last Year | Forbes

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner explains in detail how she earned her first million – mostly from her blog, Making Sense of Cents. She posted for us here on ProBlogger last month on How To Make Time To Grow A Successful Blog When You Have A Full-Time Job – her tips are solid.

The ‘Sharent’. Are We Safe As Parent Bloggers? Do We Put Our Children And Selves At Risk? | The Huffington Post

I think most parent bloggers have grappled with all the pros and cons that come with living their lives online, but it never seems like there’s one clear answer. Where is your line in the sand?

3 Ways to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others | Psych Central

The blogging comparison beast is large and loud, and can often get in our way of doing our best on the internet. I love these practical tips, based in psychology, to get yourself out of the negative mindset. You’d be surprised how impactful it is to just recognise your feelings and say them out loud!

How to Turn Your Email into High Ranking Articles: Repurpose and Rank in 6 Steps | Orbit Media

Not only repurposing content (which we love here at ProBlogger for working smarter, not harder), but ranking for it too! Excellent.

8 Tips From Authors To Make Your Writing More Inclusive | Bustle

Which is more important than ever on the internet, where we have a global audience.

Advertisements are coming to Facebook Live | CNBC

Well it was probably always coming, but it does change things. How will you handle it?

How to stay out of trouble with the new influencer transparency rules | Mumbrella

From March 1, brands and influencers (and all the people in between) will need to abide by new amendments to the Advertiser Code of Ethics in Australia – which won’t affect the large number of folk who are upfront and honest, but will be an expensive mistake for others who don’t disclose.

How to blog when you’ve hit a wall and run out of creative ideas | Creative Boom

Which hopefully won’t be you, but hey – we’ve all been there!

How To Improve Your Email Campaigns Using Analytics | Search Engine People

Even if numbers are just not your thing, there’s much to be learned from them – especially when it comes to making good decisions based on past performance.

4 guidelines for writing SEO-friendly headlines | Poynter

Where journalism and blogging meet! I also think we may forget about proper names and place names when it comes to crafting the best headline… but I guess the real talent is merging keyword-rich headlines that actually engage human readers. May that be all of us!

What caught your eye this week?

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

      


ProBlogger

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Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately?

Reading Roundup: Blog news with ProBlogger

This week’s posts made me want to live in an RV and perennially chase the warmer weather while reading more novels and finding creative ways to stay well-clear of writer’s block. Quite a good week, if I’m being honest!

I think it’s probably because it’s grey and drizzly here (autumn is well on the way) that I’m dreaming of an endless summer road trip…

How This 27-Year-Old Made $ 1 Million Last Year | Forbes

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner explains in detail how she earned her first million – mostly from her blog, Making Sense of Cents. She posted for us here on ProBlogger last month on How To Make Time To Grow A Successful Blog When You Have A Full-Time Job – her tips are solid.

The ‘Sharent’. Are We Safe As Parent Bloggers? Do We Put Our Children And Selves At Risk? | The Huffington Post

I think most parent bloggers have grappled with all the pros and cons that come with living their lives online, but it never seems like there’s one clear answer. Where is your line in the sand?

3 Ways to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others | Psych Central

The blogging comparison beast is large and loud, and can often get in our way of doing our best on the internet. I love these practical tips, based in psychology, to get yourself out of the negative mindset. You’d be surprised how impactful it is to just recognise your feelings and say them out loud!

How to Turn Your Email into High Ranking Articles: Repurpose and Rank in 6 Steps | Orbit Media

Not only repurposing content (which we love here at ProBlogger for working smarter, not harder), but ranking for it too! Excellent.

8 Tips From Authors To Make Your Writing More Inclusive | Bustle

Which is more important than ever on the internet, where we have a global audience.

Advertisements are coming to Facebook Live | CNBC

Well it was probably always coming, but it does change things. How will you handle it?

How to stay out of trouble with the new influencer transparency rules | Mumbrella

From March 1, brands and influencers (and all the people in between) will need to abide by new amendments to the Advertiser Code of Ethics in Australia – which won’t affect the large number of folk who are upfront and honest, but will be an expensive mistake for others who don’t disclose.

How to blog when you’ve hit a wall and run out of creative ideas | Creative Boom

Which hopefully won’t be you, but hey – we’ve all been there!

How To Improve Your Email Campaigns Using Analytics | Search Engine People

Even if numbers are just not your thing, there’s much to be learned from them – especially when it comes to making good decisions based on past performance.

4 guidelines for writing SEO-friendly headlines | Poynter

Where journalism and blogging meet! I also think we may forget about proper names and place names when it comes to crafting the best headline… but I guess the real talent is merging keyword-rich headlines that actually engage human readers. May that be all of us!

What caught your eye this week?

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

      


ProBlogger

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178: How to Get Products to Review on Your Blog

Strategies to Get Products to Review on Your Blog

In today’s lesson, I want to share 7 strategies that I used to get products to review on my first ever commercial blog – a camera review blog.

It’s not always easy to get products to review in the early days of a blog when you perhaps don’t have a big profile so in this episode I rewind the clock to when I was just starting out and share how I did it.

So if you’d like to create more product reviews on your blog – this one is for you.

Listen to this episode in the player above or here on iTunes.

Further Resources on Writing Reviews



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Hey there! Welcome to episode 178 of the ProBlogger podcast!

My name’s Darren Rowse, and I’m the blogger behind ProBlogger.com, which is a blog, podcast, event, job board, and a series of eBooks all designed to help you as a blogger to start a blog, to create amazing content, and to grow your audience and hopefully make some money from your blog, too.

You can learn more about ProBlogger over at ProBlogger.com.

In today’s episode, I wanna share with you seven strategies that I used in the early days of my blogging to get products to review on my first commercial blog, which was a camera review blog. I know a lot of you as listeners do reviews on your blog from time to time. Some of you have blogs that are purely about reviewing products, but it’s not always easy to get those products to review.

In the early days of a blog, when you don’t have many readers perhaps and not have a big profile, it can be particularly hard to get those products. This is exactly the problem that I faced in my early days, and so today, I wanna give you seven strategies to get some products to review. Some of them are a little bit obvious, and some of them are quite creative and I hope will be helpful to you.

If you wanna create product reviews for your blog, this episode is for you. You can find the show notes, transcript, and some further reading over at ProBlogger.com/podcast/178.

Just before I start though, I also wanna make one other note. I have in the last couple of days changed our Facebook group’s name. It was previously a group that I’d called “The ProBlogger Challenge Group.” It was purely for sharing challenges for you as listeners, and I decided in the new year to broaden the group a little bit. Now it is called “The ProBlogger Podcast Listeners Group.”

If you do a search on Facebook for “ProBlogger Podcast Listeners,” you’ll find it, and we will be still doing some challenges. But I also wanted to open it up a little bit more to discussing each episode and maybe even making a challenge for each episode. If you’ve got any questions or tips that you wanna share with the group, you can do that there. Again, do a search for “ProBlogger Podcast Listeners” or click on the link in today’s show notes. That’s enough of the logistics. Let’s get into today’s show where we are going to talk about reviews.

The topic for today’s episode comes from Paul [Sutcliffe 0:02:40], who in a recent Facebook Live that I was doing asked me a question, which I answered in the Facebook Live, but then afterwards thought of a whole heap more that I could say on the topic. This is the question that he asked. He said, “How do people go about doing a good review of a product before you’re in a position to be having them sent to you by the product sellers? Do you spend your own money on them to start with or get info from other reviews and sources on the internet?”

This is a great topic. Actually as I was answering it on the Live, it made me think back to my own early days of blogging because I started out, as many of you know, with my first commercial blog being a review blog. It kinda started by accident one day, when I posted a little 300-word review of a camera that I was using. I didn’t really expect much from that particular post, but I learnt very quickly that reviews are fantastic.

People search for reviews on Google. One of the things that I learnt is that a lot of people are searching Google for advice on purchases that they’re making. We’ve all done it, and we perhaps don’t just do it on Google anymore. We perhaps do it on YouTube and other places as well, but people are searching for that type of information so it can be a great source of traffic. I know many bloggers, who have blogs on all kinds of topics, who occasionally write reviews and find that their reviews are their most popular posts.

People search for them. People find them useful. They’re grateful for them. I used to get emails from all kinds of people saying, “Thank you for the review that you wrote on this particular camera and that particular camera,” and they became readers – long term kind of readers because I gave them good advice. People remember where they get that type of advice, so it can be great for building credibility with your readers.

Reviews can be monetized as well, particularly through affiliate marketing if you are recommending a particular product and linking to where people could buy that product with an affiliate link. Those links do tend to convert quite well.

The other thing I love about reviews is they get conversations going as well. When you put your opinion of a product out there, you will find that other people will respond to that as well, either those who agree with your opinion or perhaps have a different opinion to you.

Reviews are great, but how do you get the products to review? It can be a challenge when you’re just starting out, particularly when you wanna do a lot of reviews. Now my first review came because I had a digital camera of my own. I bought it, and that’s probably the best place to start. I’ll talk a little bit more about that in a moment, but what happens when you run out of products that you own that you want to review. This is the challenge that I had in those early days. After I did that first review, how was I going to get another camera to review?

I guess, one source of review products can be the manufacturers themselves, but what if you don’t have a big profile? What I wanna share with you today is seven places that I would get cameras to review – seven different tips to getting cameras to review or products to review on your particular blog. This is how I did it.

Number one. The first place to start is with what you already have. The most obvious tip, so I’m not gonna spend a lot of time on this one. That first review I did was on my own camera, but that dried up very quick because I only had one digital camera.

That’s the first place to start. What do you already have or what are you about to buy that you could be reviewing? Every time I bought a new photography related piece of gear, I would review that, whether it be a lens or a flash or an SD card, a memory card, or something else. You’ve gotta get in the habit of really turning anything you have that’s related to your topic into a review. Number one: review what you already have.

Number two: borrow what you can from your friends or any other contacts that you have. I remember in those early days. Any time a friend would buy a new camera, I would say, “Hey! Could I use it for the weekend?” or “Could I use it for a day?” Write a review on that. It was amazing how many people, not only allowed me to do that, but they began to come to me with their new piece of photography gear because word got out that I was reviewing. A lot of my friends wanted to put the piece of equipment that they bought into my hands so that I could review it because they were interested in my opinion on it.

Borrow. Use your networks, whatever it might be. I actually was part of a camera club, a photography club, and that opened up all kinds of possibilities for camera and gear to review. Find any kind of club or group that might open up the possibilities there.

Number three – this is as my site began to grow, new opportunities for getting review units began to open up. One of the things that I did was to start to ask myself, “Where are the cameras that I wanna review?” The manufacturers at the time weren’t sending cameras out to online reviewers. This is back 2004 and 2005. They were sending them out to journalists. They were sending them out to other places, but not online, particularly bloggers.

I began asking, “Who does have the cameras that I wanna review?” One of the obvious places was camera stores. What I found is that when I would go into a camera store and introduce myself and say, “Hey, I’ve got this site that reviews cameras. Is there any way that I could borrow one of your cameras to review, if I could give you some profile?” What I found is that a lot of the camera stores were actually really interested in building their online profile. This is back in 2005, 2006. I suspect it’s even more so today.

I was amazed how many camera stores allowed me to take cameras away and review them. Sometimes they would give them to me for an afternoon or a couple of hours to run around the city and take photos with their cameras. They would keep my driver’s license or some other form of ID. As the relationships grew, they sometimes let me take them home overnight or for a weekend. In return for them giving me the camera to review, I would link to them in the review and say something like, “This camera was provided by Michael’s Camera Store, which is a Melbourne camera store.” I was able to give them some profile in return for them lending me a camera to review.

Who has the thing that you want to review? The answer may be a store. It may be a rental place. One of things I found is that there was actually a camera rental company in the US, who was willing to send review units to one of our writers a little bit later on. In return for us, again, linking to them and giving them some profile on our blog. We would always acknowledge that the review unit was provided to us by this particular lens rental company.

Who has the type of thing that you want to review? It may be that there’s a local library in your area that has that type of thing. I know here in Australia, a lot of local libraries don’t just have books; they also have DVDs. They sometimes even have toys, so if you’re reviewing toys, maybe there’s a library that has toys that you could borrow as well. There may be other organizations, particularly retailers.

Number four tip is to pitch the manufacturer or a distributer of the product that you’re reviewing. Whilst you might not think you’ve got a big profile, you’d be surprised how many manufacturers do actually have review units that you can review. Most of them probably aren’t gonna send you free stuff that you can keep forever, particularly if that product is high value. If you got low value products that you wanna review, you’ll find that they will give them to you at times, but many of them will lend them to you. This is what I found gradually over time. Manufacturers began to have review units available to bloggers and to online influencers. You’ll be amazed how many companies really are quite open to that, even if you don’t have a massive audience. If you’ve got the right audience for them, they will be open to that type of relationship.

I would be networking as much as you can with manufacturers. The way I did it in the early days was to go to trade shows – our local shows here in Australia for the photographic industry. At those shows, I was able to meet the manufacturers or their representatives. A lot of the time here in Australia was distributors who I was meeting. As I was able to share the story of my site and begin to get to know them, they began to become interested once they heard how much traffic we had and who was reading our site. They became interested in lending us cameras to review.

They never gave us them outright. I wanna make that really clear upfront. We never, ever were given a camera to review that we could keep. We always had them for a couple of weeks, but this certainly was one thing that began to happen more and more. We, even after a while, began to have manufacturers email us and say, “Could you review our products? We’ve got some review units.”

Pitch the manufacturers. The key is to not just talk about how many readers you’ve got, but talk about the type of readers you’ve got and show them that whilst you might not have a massive amount of readers that you’ve got the type of reader that they want to get their product in front of. A targeted audience can go a lot further than a big one. That’s number four.

There’s a few more. If that one doesn’t work for you, it may take a little bit of time to build those relationships.

Number five is consider buying the product that you want to review. I only did this a few times, and I only did it when it was either a really popular item that I knew there’d be a lot of demand for, people wanting information on. If there was a really hot, new camera coming out that I knew everyone wanted to know about, I would consider buying that product, and particularly when I thought I could make enough from the review, through affiliate links, to pay for it anyway. If I knew there was a hot, new camera coming out and I was pretty sure it was a really good camera, I would consider buying that and hope that I can make enough off the affiliate links or on a camera that I wanted anyway. That might be one option for you.

The other thing that I did do on a couple of occasions was to rent a camera. I already mentioned that there was a company who rented cameras out. Well, here in Australia, you can also rent cameras. This is significantly cheaper than buying it, but it meant that I could give it a go for a week. I was able to rent that camera for a week and then send it back again. There was some cost involved, but I was able to make that money back from the affiliate links.

Tip number five was to buy or rent the product that you want to review.

Number six. This is where you get a little bit more creative. What about asking someone else to write a review for you? I published many reviews from other people on my blog in the early days. There’s a variety of different types of people, who might be able to write a review for you. The most obvious one is other bloggers. The idea of a guest post didn’t really exist back in 2005, but people were doing it anyway.

One of the things I did was if I saw another blogger who did own a camera, whether they were a photography blogger or some other type of blogger, I would always email them and say, “Hey! I notice you’re using this particular camera. Would you mind writing 500 words on what you think about that particular camera?” It’s amazing how many other bloggers were more than willing to do that, particularly if you were to give them some exposure.

I remember there were a couple of friends who were hesitant to lend me their camera, as I talked about earlier, but on those occasions, a couple of them actually said they’d write something from their own perspective. They were decent writers, so I would do that.

Another one that worked really well for me was to approach a journalist. I saw in a Melbourne newspaper that there was a journalist, who was writing short reviews on cameras in a weekly supplement in one of our newspapers. I emailed him, and I said, “Hey, is there any way that we could use those reviews that were appearing in the newspaper on our blog?” He wasn’t allowed to do that, but he was able to rewrite them. What he did was when he was reviewing a camera for the newspaper, he would actually write two versions of it and send us one. We were able to do that in return for giving him some profile and giving the newspaper some profile as well. That went on for a couple of years. Couple of times a month, he would send us these reviews.

Maybe there’s someone else out there, who’s got the product in their hands that you want to review, that would review it for you.

Another option that you might want to think about is to interview someone about that product. You might find that they don’t want to write a blogpost for you, but they’re more than willing to talk to you about that product.

I came across one car blogger. He had a blog on exotic cars. It was very hard for him to get a car manufacturer to lend him a car to review, so he would go out and he would find people who owned these cars. He would take his camera out and interview them in person. In essence, what he was doing there was creating content that was that person’s opinion of the car that they bought. They were usually very positive opinions because people had invested significantly to get these cars, but it was really interesting content.

Maybe there’s a way that you could get that type of information from people who own it in some other way. There might be a variety of places. Some of the camera stores that I got to know actually started to write reviews for us as well, again, in return for us promoting the stores, the lens. A rental company that would sometimes lend us review units to review ended up writing their own reviews for us in return for it. Maybe there’s someone else out there who has the product that you want to appear on your site that will create that content for you – either you’re paying them or giving them something else in return. Who has that product in their hands that could lend you that product but could also create that content for you?

The last thing that I used to do – Paul kind of alluded to this in his question. I used to look at what other people were doing online and the reviews that they were creating online. I began to aggregate some of those reviews as well. If there was a camera that I could not get my hands on, but other people were writing about it, I would try and find a quote from those articles and link to those articles from my site.

This is what I would do in aggregating the review. I would write a post that was called “The Canon Powershot A60 (or whatever it might have been) Reviews.” That’s what I would title it, “reviews.” Then I would write a post that listed the camera features that had a picture of the camera – usually a picture from the camera manufacturer, and then I would write some of my own thoughts on the features: on how it looked, on who I thought that camera might suit, on features that might have been missing from it. There’s a lot that you can get from just looking at the features of a product.

Then underneath that, I would quote other reviews. I would only take ever one or two sentences from someone else’s review. It might have been another blogger or another site that I saw or even a newspaper article on a particular product. I would take a sentence or two, and I would make it very clear that it was a quote. I would always link, after that quote, to the source of the quote. It might have been something like DP Review, a digital camera review site. They often had the cameras in their hands the day a new camera was announced, because the camera manufacturers would send this site their cameras. It was very well known, so the day after they’d do their review, I would write this post that would list the features and then would take a quote from the review. Then I’d link to the source of that review.

What I ideally try and do is find two or three reviews on the camera. If it was the A60, I would go on a bit of a search on the web, and I might link to DP Review. I might link to another photography blogger. I might link to a newspaper that had also reviewed it as well. I would take quotes from all those reviews, linking to all of them, and then I would sum up the post with some of my own thoughts and would pick up some of the themes in those reviews.

I think it’s really important, when you are using other people’s content, to not use too much of that content. I did talk about this in episode 173, but it’s okay to use some of it. It’s okay to use snippets of it, as long as you’re very clearly identifying when you’re not writing that content yourself and always attributing to the source of that.

The other thing that you could do today – and this wasn’t really available to me to do back in 2005 – is to use embeddable reviews from YouTube particularly. There’s a lot of reviews of all kinds of products. Pretty much any product that you could think of – there’s a review of it on YouTube. Most of those YouTube creators are more than willing for you to embed their video on your site because it gives them more views, and it gives them more profile. Again, you wanna be really clear in doing that, that it’s not you, and give credit to who is giving that review.

Where possible, add your own thoughts to it. I think it’s really important to make the post your own in some way. Give it an introduction. Talk about your thoughts on the product and who it might be useful for, and then sum it up at the end.

Other people reviewing the products that you can’t get your hands on – can you aggregate that in some way for your audience?

I used to get emails from other bloggers, who I was taking the quotes from, and they would say, “Thank you so much for quoting my review. Thank you so much for the links.” They actually began to pitch us. Every time they would write a review, they would send us a link to it and say, “Hey! Could you do another one of your posts?”

Occasionally, you get someone who go, “Please don’t do that anymore,” but I would say that was probably once or twice in several years of doing it. Most people are more than willing for you to quote them, to link to them in that particular way. The key is to be really transparent about your source of the information, and create something that’s useful for your readers. They will really value that.

There’s seven tips that you might wanna use. If you can’t get those products that you want to review, firstly review your own stuff. Review stuff that you can borrow from your friends or from your network. Look for places that will let you borrow the products that you want to review – number three – particularly retailers or places that might rent out that particular product. Number four: pitch the manufacturers and distributors for review units. You might find, particularly if you show them your audience and who your audience is, that they’ll be willing to do that. Number five: buy the product. Consider doing that, particularly if you make enough money from the review to make it worthwhile. Number six: ask other people to review, write reviews, or create content for you, or interview them. Number seven: aggregate what other people are doing.

Hopefully somewhere in the midst of that, there’s some good advice for you, Paul, and for the others of you, who do want to do more reviews on your site. I’ve got some further reading for you on the topic of writing reviews and how to write amazing product reviews and product reviews that will serve your readers. Those I’m linking to in today’s show notes at ProBlogger.com/podcast/178, particularly on how to format those posts and how to make them extra useful – the type of review that people will really find useful but also will share with other people. You can find that over on the show notes.

Lastly, on the show notes, you can also add your own thoughts. How do you do reviews? How do you get those products that you review on your blog? I know a lot of bloggers almost get too many offers these days from PR agencies, who are trying to get reviews on your blog, but many times, those offers are un-particularly relevant and they sometimes can be low quality in terms of the products. You do need to be a bit careful about the type of reviews that you do accept for your blog, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on this whole topic over again at ProBlogger.com/podcast/178.

Thanks for listening. I’ll chat with you in episode 179 next week!

Remember if you are interested in joining the ProBlogger Podcast Listeners Group, we do have a group over on Facebook. You might wanna turn this particular episode into a challenge. I do challenge you to do it.

Write a review on your blog this week, and go over to the Facebook group and share that review with us. I’ll set up a thread where you can do that, and I’d love to see what you come up with. Look forward to seeing your reviews over in the ProBlogger Facebook group.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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179: How to Lower the Bounce Rate on Your Blog

11 Techniques for Lowering the Bounce Rate on Your Blog

In today’s lesson I want to talk about a statistic or metric that is in Google analytics that I see bloggers talking about a lot – that of ‘bounce rate’.

Just today I was asked twice about bounce rate and how to get it lower.

So in this episode, I thought I’d tackle the topic and will talk briefly about what bounce rate is, about why I see many bloggers not really interpreting it in a helpful way and  for the bulk of the episode I want to give you 11 things you can do to lower bounce rate on your blog. Lastly I’m going to suggest some homework that you might want to do!

So if you if you’re not sure what bounce rate is or you look at the stat in your Google Analytics and want to know how to get it lower – this episode is just for you!

Note: you can find this episode (PB179) here on iTunes if you’d like to listen to it there.

Further Resources on How to Lower the Bounce Rate on Your Blog



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Welcome to episode 179 of the ProBlogger podcast!

My name’s Darren Rowse, and I’m the blogger behind ProBlogger.com, which is a blog, a podcast, event, job board, and series of eBooks all designed to help you as a blogger to start an amazing blog to create lifechanging content for your readers and to hopefully make a bit of an income for yourself.

You can learn more about ProBlogger over at ProBlogger.com.

Now today, I’m feeling a little bit strange. Listen to this. Can you hear it? There’s nothing. My house is so quiet today because my youngest son started school this week. Yes, all three of my boys are at school at last. Also it’s been very exciting to see him get in his uniform and waddle off to school with a massive bag on his back. The house is just so quiet. I think it’s gonna take a little time to get used to, but anyway, one of the good things about a quiet house is that I can record this podcast pretty much anytime of the day. I don’t have to set him up with a movie or anything like that or wait till he goes off to preschool.

Without further ado, let’s get into today’s lesson.

In today’s lesson, what I want to talk about is a statistic or a metric that you can find in your Google Analytics account. It’s one that I see a lot of bloggers talking about. It’s the statistic or the metric bounce rate – your bounce rate. That’s what I wanna talk about today.

Even just today, I was asked twice in Facebook groups about bounce rate and how to get it lower, so I thought in this episode, I’d tackle the topic. We’ll talk briefly about what a bounce rate is, for those of you who’ve never heard that term before or maybe you’ve seen it in your Google Analytics and wondered what it was. I wanna talk a little bit about why I think some bloggers aren’t really interpreting bounce rate in a helpful way.

For the bulk of this episode, I wanna give you eleven different things you can do to get your bounce rate lower and hopefully improve your blog. The last thing I wanna do is suggest a little bit of homework that you might wanna do to lower your bounce rate. I wanna challenge you to pick one of the things we talk about today to lower yours.

If you are someone who doesn’t know what bounce rate is or you have been looking at it in your Google Analytics and wondering how to get it lower, this episode is for you. There is going to be quite a bit of further reading and some suggested further listening today, so you might wanna check out the show notes over at ProBlogger.com/podcast/179, where you can also get a full transcript of today’s show.

Let’s get into it.

Today I was asked by two different bloggers about bounce rate. [Riva 0:02:44] asked, “What are some ways to reduce your bounce rate?” Riva says, “I’m adding other posts at the end of my post for people to click through to. I’ve written long form and short form posts. I’ve got a ‘Start Here’ and ‘About’ page, but I can’t get my bounce rate below 70%.” Then Paul asks, “What’s an acceptable bounce rate for a blog? Mine is 80%. Is that too high? What can I do to lower it?”

Bounce rate – something that’s on the mind of at least two of our readers and I know a little bit more because I just asked in our Facebook group (the ProBlogger Listeners Facebook group) – I asked the question, “What statistic do you watch the most?” About a quarter of the people who’ve responded so far have mentioned “bounce rate.” It’s something that’s on your mind. Let’s quickly define it, and then get onto some tips for lowering it.

Firstly, definitions. Bounce rate is a metric in your Google Analytics account that reports the percentage of people, who visit your site and who leave your site from that first page that they arrive on. They bounce off your site. They come to a page, and then they leave straight away without clicking around your site.

To find this statistic, it’s very easy. Simply log into your Google Analytics account. If you don’t have Google Analytics, please add it, because it’s an industry standard. It’s amazingly powerful, and it’s completely free. Once you’ve got it set up on your blog – if you’ve got questions about that, ask in the Facebook group, we’ll be able to help you through that.

Log into your Google Analytics account. When you are on the first page – once you’re looking at your blog stats, you’ll see the “Audience Overview.” You’ll see a little chart titled “Bounce Rate,” and it will have a percentage number underneath it. I’m looking at mine right now for Digital Photography School, and the number is the 78.25%. That’s an average of the last month of people who bounced away from my site, which sounds pretty hot. 78.25% are arriving on my site, and they’re leaving straight away.

It’s very difficult to compare my bounce rate to yours, and we’ll talk a little bit about why that might be in a moment. But you will see that number for yours. That means 78.25% of people are arriving on my blog, and they’re leaving without viewing any more than the single page they arrive on. If you click on that little chart in Google Analytics, it will open up the last month of your bounce rate or whatever period that you’ve got the dates in for.

Now most blogs don’t really see a great variation from day to day in their bounce rate. They’re usually a pretty flat line. Mine changes slightly when we send out our email. I’ll talk a little bit about that in a moment, but most blogs will have a very steady line when they click on that particular chart. It’s pretty even over time.

In general, when you’re interpreting that number, a high number – if you’ve got 99%, it means a lot of people are leaving your blog without surfing around. If it’s a low number, it means a lot of people are getting to your site and then clicking around your site. In general, most people would say a high number is a bad sign and a lower number is a good sign. But there are some times, where that’s not the case. We’ll talk about those in a minute. A low number means less people are bouncing away from your site.

The most common question I get asked when it comes to bounce rate is the one you heard before, “How do I get it lower?” or like Paul asked, “What’s an acceptable rate?” I’m gonna talk a little bit about how to get it lower in a minute, but there’s a few things I do wanna say about bounce rates. This comes into how to interpret that number.

First thing, there are times when a lower bounce rate isn’t a good thing. You might think that’s weird, but there are times, where the goal of a page on your site or maybe even your whole site is to get your readers to do something other than click around your site. For example, if you have a site that’s all about promoting affiliate products, you probably want to send people away from your site. You might have a post on your site that you actually want a bounce rate that’s really high. You want people to be bouncing straight off your site, because that means they’re going to visit the affiliate site. That might be one case.

It may be that you want people to call your business. If you’ve got a business, your blog is about your business, and ultimately, your goal is to get people to pick up the phone and call you, then a high bounce rate could actually be a sign that that’s a good thing. They’re getting to your site, and they’re picking up the phone and calling you. It may be that you’re trying to sell something on a site like Amazon or eBay, so you want to send people away from your site. It may be that you’re capturing a lead through a tool that doesn’t require another page load on your site.

Any of these things can actually mean your bounce rate is higher, but it can be a good thing. I wanted to put that out there, so it’s not always something that you want to lower if you’re trying to achieve one of those things. But most of us are trying to lower our bounce rate.

Second thing I wanna just say before I get into some techniques for lowering your bounce rate is that I see a lot of bloggers looking at their sites’ overall bounce rate. The number I gave you before is 78.25% of people who arrive on Digital Photography School are bouncing away. That’s interesting, but I much prefer to look at the bounce rate of individual pages on my blog. Whilst, yes, lowering my overall number might be a good thing, I’m much more interested in lowering the number on individual pages.

Let me give you a few examples. On ProBlogger, as I look at my Google Analytics account, I can see on the front page of ProBlogger, over the last month, our bounce rate is 61%. That’s lower than our site average. I think our site average there is similar to DPS. It’s normally in the seventies, but on the front page is 61. That makes sense. When people arrive on the front page of ProBlogger, there’s lots of options there for them to click around the site. They’re probably looking at the front page, because they’re trying to work out what the site is and what the most recent stuff is, and so it makes sense that that number is lower.

If you look at other pages on ProBlogger, you might look at our “Start Here” page. The bounce rate on that is 54%. That’s fantastic. Again, that page is purely designed to direct people to different parts of the site. On the job board on ProBlogger – this is where we list jobs for bloggers – the bounce rate is 35%, and that’s great because it means people are clicking on individual jobs on that job board. You can see there, there’s an incredible variance. Whilst the overall bounce rate for ProBlogger as a whole is 72%, there’s pages that are as low as 35%. There’s incredible variance there. I think looking at your overall number is interesting, but looking at individual pages and individual posts on your site is much more interesting.

On the converse side, I’ve showed you there some low bounce rates. There’s posts on ProBlogger that have very high ones. There’s a post I was just looking at before. I wrote it in 2012. It’s still getting search traffic every day, but the bounce rate on that individual post is 91%. That’s because the content on it is old. People are arriving on it and seeing the date 2012, and they’re seeing information that perhaps isn’t as relevant for them and they’re bouncing away at a higher rate. Actually digging into your stats and looking at the bounce rate of individual pages, I think is so much more productive and beneficial. A better strategy for looking at your overall is to really dig into those. I really would encourage you to do that in your Google Analytics.

You may even just stop this podcast right now and get into Google Analytics. Look at your most visited pages, your front page of your blog, and the key pages in your navigation, the most visited blog posts, pages like sales pages or landing pages for your email lists – all of these pages – it’s really interesting to see what the bounce rate is, and it’s much more worthwhile to spend your time decreasing the bounce rate on individual pages than overall in some ways. That’s another thing I wanna say about bounce rate.

The last thing I’ll say before I get into some techniques for lowering bounce rates is that bounce rate varies depending upon the source of your traffic. Again, I’m gonna flip back to Digital Photography School. My Google Analytics there – just looking at that now, and I can see that traffic that comes from Google bounces away from Digital Photography School at 77%, whereas traffic coming from social media is bouncing away at 81%. Then traffic coming in from email is bouncing away at 55%. I could see the incredible variance in the types of traffic and the sources of the traffic, so I think it can be really useful to dig into that.

I’m particularly interested in looking at Google traffic because that makes up the bulk of the traffic on my site. Over 50% of my traffic comes in from Google, and most of the people arriving in from Google are first-time visitors as well. I’m looking at really lowering that.

Email – I’m not really as interested in lowering that. It’s already pretty low, and that’s because we send out emails with multiple links in them. Someone opening our email might see 10 of our latest posts on the site, and so they’ll click on through to a few of those. That’s why that number is 55%, but I’m not really interested in lowering that much more because those people are already subscribed.

People who are coming in from Google – they’re first-time visitors. I wanna get that number down because I know if I can get people visiting more pages on their first view, they’re more likely to subscribe.

Dig into your Google Analytics. Look at the bounce rate for individual pages on your site and also the different sources of traffic. You’ll get much more information about your bounce rate if you dig deeper.

I made those disclaimers and those general comments about bounce rate. Let me dig into some strategies for getting the bounce rate on your site down, and of course keeping in mind that sometimes, in a few instances, you don’t wanna get it down because you wanna get it higher. You want people to take action off your site, but let’s talk about getting your bounce rate down because that’s what most of us are interested in doing on our site on the individual pages.

I wanna go through 11 things, and I’ll kind of whip through them as fast as I can. Firstly, the first thing you can do to get your bounce rate down is to make a great first impression when people arrive at your site. I’ve said this many times in the past. People decide in the first few seconds when they’re on your site as to whether you’re a credible site, whether you’re relevant to them, and whether you’re worth reading. They’re making those judgments based upon the design of your site, the branding of your site, whether you’re clearly communicating the benefits or topic of your site, whether you’re making a promise that excites them. Things like your design, your branding, your tagline – these things can help to create a great first impression. They will make people look a little bit deeper into your site. If they see a beautifully designed site that’s well-branded and that clearly communicates a benefit for them reading, they’re much more likely to click around on your site and see whether you’ve got something worthwhile for them.

Another thing that you can do to create a positive first impression is to work on social proof. Again, this makes people look twice if you’ve got a user testimony or a testimony from someone else who’s famous or someone who said something nice about your site – include that. If you’ve got a lot of social media followers or subscribers, if you put that number up and show people there are other people on your site, if you’ve been quoted in mainstream media and you can use the logo of the New York Times or the Washington Post or whatever it might be – these things all just create these little signals for first-time visitors to your site that perhaps your site is a legitimate site. Perhaps you’re credible. Perhaps you’ve got something worthwhile to them. Social proof can also help.

Another thing that is a little bit controversial, but I’m gonna go there, is: I think removing the dates on your blog posts can be one thing that may make a good impression upon people, particularly when you’ve got a lot of very old content on your site that’s evergreen. On Digital Photography School, we have posts that I wrote back in 2006, 2007, which are still relevant for today. I’ve got a post – I just shared it on Facebook earlier today – on shutter speed and what shutter speed is. It’s a useful post, but it was written in 2007. If I have the date on that post, people will look at it and go, “Ugh. This is old.” They’ll make a judgment based upon when it was written even though it still is relevant today as it was back in 2007.

On Digital Photography School, I don’t have dates on my site. That removes a little barrier. It creates a little bit more of a positive impression. If your site is not about evergreen content, there’s probably good reason to keep dates on your site, but if you’ve got a lot of evergreen content, removing dates might be one thing that can help to make a more positive impression. I actually noticed when I took dates off Digital Photography School, my bounce rate actually got lower. That was a little test that I did. Number one: make a great first impression.

Number two: make your site as easy to use as possible. People are much more likely to stay in the site and click around on your site if it’s easy to do that. Number one: make sure your site loads fast. If you have a very slow loading site, people are going to get frustrated using it. They’re not gonna wanna click another link on your site because it’s gonna take another 30 seconds to open up. Make your load time as fast as you can. Make it easy to read.

You might wanna listen to episode 176, where I talked about scan-able content, using good font sizes and line spacing, choosing a readable font, having clear navigation, making your blog mobile responsive, so that people don’t see a tiny, minute version of your site, and they just don’t know what to click on your site. Minimize interruptions. Too many pop-ups or too much clutter on the site – it just gets too overwhelming for people. You want a nice, clean site that loads fast, that’s easy to read on a mobile. These things make it easier for people to stay on your site. They will reduce the bounce rates.

It may be that you need to think about a redesign for your site to fix up some of those things, if you think they might be having an impact. One of the things we do when we do a redesign is really watch very carefully the bounce rate statistic across the whole site, but also on individual pages.

Number three thing you can do to reduce bounce rate is to really focus very hard on high quality content. Perhaps this is the best thing that you can do because if people arrive on your site and they read something or they watched something, and they experienced something that changes their life in some way that’s high quality content, they’re much more likely to click around. If you’ve got a well-written article that’s articulate, if you are generous with your readers, if you have something that enhances their life in some way – they’re gonna click around. That’s ultimately, I think, the best thing that you can do. Invest a lot of time into the content. Of course, that improves your blog in many other ways, but it will improve the bounce rate as well.

Number four: call people to connect with you in some way. One of your goals on most parts of your blog or to get people to make an ongoing connection with you, you want them to maybe subscribe to your email list, connect with your social media, make a strong clear call to action in multiple parts of your blog to connect with you. This will help people to keep coming back to your site, which ultimately – it may not change your bounce rate in the moment, in that first visit, but it will over time. We see return visitors to Digital Photography School. People who are coming back every day are actually clicking around at a much higher rate than first-time visitors. That’s very clear in all of the blogs that I’ve ever been involved with.

You wanna get people engaged, and the best way to get people engaged with you is to get them to subscribe in some way to connect with you in some way. I’ve got a lot more advice on that particular topic of getting people to connect with you, getting people to subscribe with you in episode 115. I’ll link to that in the show notes. Any point of connection that you can get is a really great way of getting an ongoing lower bounce rate.

Number five. This is something that is gonna take a little bit of work to do, but it’s one of the best things that I did on ProBlogger over the last 18 months. We’ve actually just rolled it out over on Digital Photography School. In our redesign of ProBlogger last year, we created, for the first time, portals. If you haven’t seen them before, just go to the front page of ProBlogger.com and scroll down, and you’ll see there that we’ve got eight icons on that page.

We’ve also got those icons on every page on the blog as well in the sidebar. The title above it says “I need help with…,” and then underneath that there’s eight things. Basically, what each of those icons links to is what we call one of our portals. You’ll see there’s a portal for how to start a blog. You’ll see there’s a portal for creating great content. You’ll find a portal for finding readers for your blog. We researched our readers to find out what their biggest needs were, and we identified these eight things that our readers come looking for information on, on ProBlogger. Then we developed a portal page for each of those things. I think there’s actually seven of them. One of them links to our job board as well.

We created these portals. If you go and click on one of those portals, you’ll find out that they contain a video greeting, so I’m trying to make a connection there. That’s a personal video. It’s me talking about my need in that particular issue. Then underneath the video or next to the video, there’s a call to subscribe. There’s lots of information. It’s not just our latest posts. It’s not like a category page, where we just show our latest, most recent content on that particular topic. We actually have curated our best content on that.

Underneath the video, you’ll see there six or eight different posts that we’ve hand-selected on that particular topic of finding readers or starting a blog. Then underneath that, we showcase our latest content. You can find some fresh stuff, but you’ll also find our best stuff as well.

The portals have really, really helped our bounce rate a lot. With the portal, the main reason we do it is to get people to the right content on our site within a click or two of them arriving on our site. Our portal pages have a bounce rate as low as 40%. I just looked at them all, and I think the lowest one was 39%.

Now I do talk again more about our portals and how we developed them in episode 114, if that’s something interesting to you. Really think about that as our way to get people to the best content and to get people accessing your archives. This is one of the things that we realized in ProBlogger. We’ve got thousands of posts in our archives. Many of them are really useful today, but people just weren’t finding them because they had to dig too hard so we’re surfacing that best content as well.

Number six thing that I wanna talk about is similar to the portals, and that is our new “Start Here” page. Having a “Start Here” page – again, I mentioned the statistic before. It’s one of the lower bounce rates on our site at ProBlogger. A “Start Here” page is a great way of highlighting some of your best content and getting people connected with you. It’s similar to our portals in design and bounce rate as well.

It’s really prominent in our navigation, so if you go to any page on ProBlogger, the first item in the nav bar is the “Start Here” bar. It’s really targeting, particularly those first-time viewers and particularly the Google readers – anyone arriving in from Google, who’s arriving on ProBlogger for the first time and Digital Photography School now is hopefully gonna see that link in our navigation. If you go and look at that page, again, there’s lots of good content. It introduces the idea of the portals, and it tries to get that connection with people.

Think about how you could do it. You might wanna do an “About” page. You might find something else. A “Story” page, “Learn About Me as a Blogger” – those type of pages may actually help to achieve those goals as well for you.

Tip number seven – this is really a simple one to do – is to make external links on your blog open in a new tab or a new window. If you are linking on your blog to another website in a blog post, one of the simplest things that you can do so that you don’t lose that reader is to make sure it opens in a new window or a new tab. This means that if someone clicks your external link, they don’t leave your site. There’s just a new tab open there. It doesn’t mean that they have to hit the back button to get back to your site, because they’ve now got two tabs open – one with the new site and one with yours. That keeps people on your site longer and increases the chances of them clicking another link on your site.

It’s very simple to do this today. You don’t even need to really learn HTML. If you’re using WordPress, there’s a checkbox every time you add a link. You can click that checkbox. It’s a “Open in new tab” checkbox, and it will add that relevant HTML. There’s also WordPress plugins. I’ll link to them in the show notes that will do this for you automatically. That’s just one of the simplest things that you can do. It really does work to reduce the bounce rate on your site.

Again, number eight – I’ve only got eleven, so we’re getting towards the end here. Number eight – this is a very simple thing to do particularly for those of you who’ve got blogs that have been around for a while, you might have a lot of archives. As I said before, a lot of those posts in your archives don’t get seen very much. Another way to highlight some of that older content is to simply add links to the new posts on your site.

One of the best things that you can do is as you’re writing your next blog post, just challenge yourself to link to at least three other posts on your site as you write that post. As you mention topics in your new posts, that you’ve written about before in greater depth or things that relate, just link to them. Just add those. It needs to be something that you just get into the habit of doing in the middle of your posts. As you’re writing, be adding links.

Also, you can add further reading at the end – some suggested reading. That’s a great place to add some other links as well because people have just finished reading something from you. Hopefully they’ve liked it, and they’re looking for something else to do. Suggest some further reading or some further listening on your own site. There are widgets that will help you to do that and plugins that will help you to do that. They’re surface-related reading, but I actually like to add in my own.

Another thing that you can do is to create content that interlinks. Actually create a series of content on your site. Might be over a week. It might be over a month. It might be over a longer period. It may be something that you actually publish it all on the one day. There’s five posts broken down. One post links to the next post. This can significantly lower your bounce rates. People want to know what’s coming next. They’ll click those links like crazy.

There’s definitely some pros and cons of using series of content. You don’t wanna just break a really short idea down into 10 posts because that can get quite annoying to your readers, but if you got a longer idea that you wanna explore, a series can be one really great way to do that. I do talk about the pros and cons of series versus a long form content in episode 149. I’ll link to that in the show notes.

The other thing you might wanna do just to help resurface some of that old, good quality content in your archives is to link to those posts in your sidebar. This is something that used to happen a lot on blogs, that used to be very common in sidebars to see the links to other posts. I don’t see it as much today. Maybe it’s a change in design, but I do think if you’ve got a really good quality post – a post that just always gets a great reaction – find ways to highlight that wherever you can. It may be that you should highlight that on your “About” page, on your “Start Here” page. It may be that that’s just a post that gets linked to on every page on your site.

If you look at ProBlogger, you’ll see in the sidebar, we always highlight a post called “How to Start a Blog.” I’ve talked about that post in previous episodes. We highlight that on every page because we know there’s a very high percentage of our readers who need that information. They come looking for that information. Maybe you’ve got a post that you know it’s popular, that you know there’s a big demand for that topic, and you know it’s a good quality post, link to it in your sidebar. It doesn’t have to be a link. It could be a button. It could be a banner. We link to it with an image and a call to action in the image.

Point number eight: interlink your content and highlight the best content on your site as much as possible.

Tip number nine is kinda related to that in highlighting the best content on your site, and it’s to use what I call – I’ve talked about this a couple of times in the past – the “Sneeze” page. One of my favorite techniques for getting people to explore my site, to go deep within my archives, is to create a special page on my site called a “Sneeze” page. These are pages on your site, which are purely about listing relevant posts on a topic.

I’ve give you the example. You can find this in the show notes, but if you go to Digital Photography School and you look in our navigation menu, you’ll see that we highlight very prominently in our menus, a link called “Tips for Beginners.” We know that that’s a really popular idea for a lot of our readers there. They learn about photography. A lot of them are beginners.

If you click on that link, you will end up on a page, which is what I would call a “Sneeze” page. Essentially, it introduces the topic, and then it lists 40 or so different posts that we’ve written that will be relevant for beginners. If you hit that page, it’s very unlikely that you will leave that page without clicking at least one of those links. The whole point of that page is to get people “sneezed” deeply into our archives.

I do this numerous times. You’ll also see it in our navigation. There’s a page called “Portrait Tips,” and there’s another one called “Landscape Tips.” These are “Sneeze” pages. These are purely lists of links around our site, and people click those links like crazy. It’s one of the best things that I’ve ever done, and I can’t believe more bloggers don’t do that.

You can also write posts in that style. I’ll link to this in the show notes. There’s a post on Digital Photography School called “Twenty-one Settings, Techniques, and Rules All New Camera Owners Should Know.” It’s a post. It’s an article. It’s a 21-point article or list post. I write a paragraph on each of those settings or techniques, and then I link in each case to another article on the site on that particular topic. It’s sneezing people. It’s very rare that someone arrives on that post and doesn’t click at least one other link on the site. It’s got a very low bounce rate. Use that technique on your site.

Tip number ten is to invite interaction. One of the simplest ways to get people to view another page on your site is to get them to leave a comment. Leaving a comment using most comment systems today means that the page will reload. When you hit “Comments” after you put your comment in, the page reloads, and suddenly you’ve got your bounce rate down. Getting a comment is one very simple way to get your bounce rate down, but it also, and more importantly I think, increases the chances that that person’s gonna come back to your site tomorrow or the day after to see if someone has interacted with him.

Again, listen to episode 79 for how to get more comments on your blog because I know it is something that a lot of bloggers do struggle with. I guess it’s also worth saying that pretty much anyway of getting an engagement with your reader, getting them to vote in a poll, getting them to take a survey or a quiz, getting them to like your page on a social media account – any sort of form of engagement does increase the chances of them coming back again, which helps with your bounce rate. I’ve got some further listening for you on the show notes on that particular topic of building community on your blog.

Last thing I’ll say about getting your bounce rate lower is to make searching easy on your site. I’m amazed how many blogs I arrive on today that don’t have an opportunity for readers to search on their content, or they bury their search bar low on the page somewhere. I think our search bars need to be prominent because a lot of people arrive on a piece of content on our site. That piece of content may help them, or it may not quite help them.

One of the first things that they will think to do is “I wonder if they’ve got the exact information that I want.” If your reader comes with a particular need, the chances of them – if they see a search bar – searching, doing a search on your site for that particular need or that particular topic are quite good. Again, this is a great way to get a second-page view. When they put in search, they hit the search icon, another page loads on your site, the search results. Then there’s a whole weave of other links to other things you’ve written. Again, they will click on one of those links, and another page loads.

Getting your bounce rate down, make sure your search function is working. Make sure people can see it, and make sure it’s prominent. It will help people to load more pages, but it will also help to surface the right content for your readers. A lot of this really is about trying to get the right content in front of your readers as easy as possible.

There’s eleven techniques that you can use to lower the bounce rate on your site. I know there’s been a lot of information, and I have mentioned quite a bit of further listening that you can do. I’m gonna link to all of those links in the show notes, and there’s also a full transcript of every word I’ve said today in the show notes as well over at ProBlogger.com/podcast/179.

Bounce rate is an important metric to watch, and I hope you found this episode helpful. Just keep in mind that while looking at the overall bounce rate of your site is interesting, it’s more powerful to look at individual pages and individual sources of traffic. In particular, what I’m doing in tracking my bounce rate is looking at the most popular pages on my site. I’m looking at my front page. I’m looking at the most visited blogposts, and I’m particularly paying attention to certain sources of traffic. For me, Google is one that I’m particularly working on lowering the bounce rate on at the moment. I’d encourage you to do that as well.

If you wanna turn today’s show into a challenge, and I know many of you are looking to turn the information that I’m giving into practical out-workings, homework, if you like. There’s a few things you can obviously do. Firstly, and probably what I would do first is to identify your top three blogposts on your site, in terms of: there are posts that consistently get decent traffic from Google or some other source. Go and have a look at the bounce rate on those three posts. You may actually find they’ve all got very similar bounce rates, and it might be the average of your site. Or you might find that one of them is much higher or one of them is much lower. Do some analysis on why that might be the case. Challenge yourself to optimize those particular posts.

If you’ve got a post in your archives that’s getting a lot of traffic to it, see what you can do to lower that bounce rate in some way. Maybe it’s about doing a call to subscribe. Maybe it’s about adding some further reading at the end of the post. Or maybe it’s about adding some links in the midst of that content or other things that you’ve written. Maybe it’s about asking a question at the end of that post to get a discussion going. Maybe it’s about improving the quality of that post, making a better first impression. Look at that types of thing.

There’s also plenty of other things I’ve mentioned today that you could do as a challenge as well. You could look at key pages on your site, like your homepage and start thinking about how you could redesign that page and make that homepage a little bit stickier and more clickable. You could start a “Start Here” page on your site, or think about creating a “Sneeze” page. Or you might look at maybe identifying some topics for portals on your site. You might even just simply install one of those WordPress plugins that make external links open in new tabs.

Choose something today. That’s the key. Choose something as a result of this information. I challenge you. Lower your bounce rate in one of these ways on your site, and then come over to the Facebook group “The ProBlogger Listeners” Facebook group – if you do a search for “ProBlogger Podcast Listeners,” you’ll find it – and tell us “what did you do and did it work?”

If you want something else to listen to, there’s plenty listed on the show notes today, but you might also want to check out episode 35, which is all about creating a sticky blog. Sticky blog sounds a bit icky, but it’s a blog where you hook people. You trap them on your site without actually [recalling 0:38:14] them or anything. It’s about creating a site that people don’t want to leave. Episode 35 goes into greater depth on that.

Thanks for listening today. I look forward to hearing how you approach lowering your bounce rate. Head over to the Facebook page and let us know what you’re gonna do and how it works for you. Thanks for listening. I’ll chat with you next week.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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180: 7 Types of Facebook Live Videos that Grow Your Audience, Build Your Brand and Make Money

Ways to Use Facebook Live to Grow Your Blog

In today’s lesson, I want to talk about Facebook live video which is a technology that has been around for a while now on Facebook and that I think continues to be something that bloggers could get a lot of value out of.

We’ve seen Facebook continue to develop it over the last 12 months. Initially, it was only available to larger influencers and verified account holders, then they opened it up to everyone and in the last few weeks they’ve made it so you can now do it from your desktop rather than just using your phone.

I know numerous bloggers getting pretty amazing results with FB live – they’re using it to build their brand, grow their audience and make money – so I thought today we’d look at some of the different ways that you can use it to grow your blog and business.

Stay tuned my quick top 7 ways to use Facebook Live!

Further Resources on Using Facebook Live

Listen to this episode in the player above or on iTunes here (look for episode 180).



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Hey there, it’s Darren Rowse from ProBlogger. Welcome to Episode 180 of the ProBlogger podcast where today I want to talk about Facebook Live and give you my Top 7 different ways to use this technology that I think has a lot of benefits for bloggers. As I said at the top, my name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast, event, job board, series of ebooks, and many other things all designed to help you as a blogger grow your audience and make money from your blog. You can learn more about ProBlogger over at problogger.com.

In today’s lesson, we’re talking Facebook Live and we’ve seen over the last 12 or so months Facebook continue to develop this particular aspect of their platform. Initially, it was only available to larger influences or verified account holders but then they opened it up to everyone. I’ve seen a lot of our audience begin to experiment with the technology.

Facebook hasn’t just let this technology sit dormant. Over the last few weeks, they’ve made it even easier to do. You can now do it from your desktop, you just need to log into Facebook itself and there’s an option to do a Facebook Live broadcast from your webcam which really opens it up to even more bloggers. I suspect they’re going to continue to develop it even further. I hope they add things like being able to share your screen and to do split screens. You can do a lot of that stuff using other tools and we’ll touch on some of that a little bit later on today.

I know a number of you as readers of ProBlogger are already using Facebook Live but I suspect there’s many of you who have been looking at this technology and wondering how you would use it. That’s what I want to focus upon today. Let me give you seven ways to use Facebook Live to help to grow your brand, grow your audience, and to make money from your blog, and to build your business.

Let’s get into today’s show. But before I do, I just want to briefly give you some of the why of using Facebook Live and I’m going to whip through these reasons really quickly. Firstly, for me, Facebook Live, the real benefit of it is that it gives you a live interaction with your audience. It’s all about engagement, it’s all about understanding who is reading your blog and who’s watching you because you get immediate feedback. More important than that, it personalizes your brand and it shows your followers, your readers, who you are.

I’ve lost track of the amount of people that have contacted me after watching one of my live videos and having interacted with me on a live video. I’ve lost count of the number of people who have said things like you’re not the way I had previously thought of you, you’re different to my previous perception of you. Usually, the difference is a positive difference, I’m pleased to say.

Facebook Live does open up that engagement with your audience and it certainly warms up your audience. I’ve noticed many times after a Facebook Live that people leave comments on my blog for the first time ever having seen me on a Facebook Live or they will purchase a product in the days that follow as well. I think it’s really about that engagement, it helps your audience to understand who you are, helps you understand them, and helps them feel like you have noticed them because you’re seeing their comments, you’re interacting with them. It helps you understand who’s reading your blog which gives you insight into the type of content that you can create as well.

I find Facebook Live gives me a lot of energy as well. It’s quite often after doing a Facebook Live that I will have an idea for a blog post and I will have real motivation to write that post because I’ve just been asked a question or I’ve just seen one of my audience members with a particular need. I’ve lost track of the amount of podcasts that I’ve created almost within minutes of completing a Facebook Live because it does give me energy and motivation and ideas as well.

It’s also a really great way of testing your ideas. If you’ve got an idea for a blog post or a podcast or a piece of content or a product, jump on Facebook Live and test that. You get immediate feedback with your audience as well.

It’s also a great way of increasing your reach on Facebook. Facebook is prioritizing Facebook Live at the moment. They are showing your live videos to a large audience than pretty much any other type of content that you can put onto Facebook at the moment. I’ve seen this time and time again, I did a Facebook Live just last week. I think on the ProBlogger page, we have an audience of about 80,000 people who followed our page. That video had reach of over 150,000. That’s because Facebook prioritizes that. It’s the type of content that people like to share as well, so it is a great way of finding new readers or engaging with those readers who perhaps haven’t seen your content for a while on Facebook Live because of their algorithm on Facebook.

There’s a whole lot of reasons there. I think it does help to build your brand, build your audience, and there’s potential for it to help you to monetize as well. The question then is how do you use it and what type of video should you be creating on Facebook Live? Really, there’s no one answer. I’ve seen 10, 15 different types of videos that bloggers are using on Facebook Live but today I just want to share the top 7 that I’ve seen and done myself.

Number one is my favorite and that is to do an ask me anything video. We’ll say right upfront that this is the one that you need to have an audience for. If you are a small blogger, this may be a bit of a tricky one, or you may need to really work hard to get people to show up on your ask me anything video. This is where you sit in front of the camera and you take questions and you answer those questions to the best of your ability. This is what I predominantly use Facebook Live for at the moment, I’m trying to do it at least once a week. Sometimes I announce it beforehand with an email or in Twitter to try and get people to my Facebook page just before it happens. That certainly helps to get more interaction.

I find that I need 20 to 30 people to be watching live to get enough questions to last me at least half an hour. That’s the minimum that I’m looking to be on Facebook Live for is about half an hour because it takes a little while for your audience to grow and for Facebook to be able to prioritize it. You want to be aiming for at least that long.

Ultimately, it’s an ask me anything type session but sometimes it is helpful to be able to put a topic around it as well. You could say, if you’re a photography blogger, “Ask me anything about portrait photography.” Or, “Ask me anything about landscape photography.” That sometimes can help to draw people in with that particular interest.

Sometimes it’s also good to be able to go into those sessions with some questions that you’ve already been asked to get the ball rolling. You might say on your Facebook page a few hours you’re going to do the video that you’re taking questions and that you will answer them in an upcoming Facebook Live video.

Ask me anything is really great if you do have that audience. It does build engagement, and this is where you do get that conversation with your audience. It’s one of the few places that you can almost have a real time conversation with your audience. These are the ones where I often get those emails afterwards of people really saying thank you so much for answering my question and you are different to the way I expected. You can be a bit playful in these types of sessions.

Number two is to teach something. Prepare a talk, prepare some tips, prepare some teaching of some kind. Usually, I would take in about five different points that I want to make on a particular topic and I would make the topic a pain point of my audience or a challenge that they’re trying to overcome and then I would present five or so things about how to overcome that. Again, you want to aim for maybe 10, 15 minutes of teaching and then you can switch into a Q&A. That’s where you get a little bit more interactive. You want to say right upfront that today, I’m not here to answer questions, I want to teach you something and then we’re going to take on a Q&A as well. That really does work well.

You can use some visuals with that, I’ve seen people standing in front of a white board where they have their points written. I’ve seen people use their camera on their phone and flipped it around to show the points on the screen, it’s a powerpoint presentation. I’ve seen people stand in front of televisions where they have a powerpoint so they’re able to have some visuals for their teaching as well. Using those visuals can really work well.

I really hope that Facebook does add in the ability to do screen sharing natively from their app or from the desktop option that they have at the moment because that will certainly help with the teaching because you will be able to use your visuals. But, there are other tools that you can use to do that as well. There’s a tool called WireCast which will enable you to have multiple cameras and also to share your screen, your desktop on your computer. You could also use a tool called Zoom. Zoom is a webinar tool and you can actually do a webinar and then share that to Facebook Live. That would be another way that you can share some slides in a fairly easy way.

The key here is to think about what you’re going to teach and make sure it’s something that really is a pain point of your audience or it’s something that they want to learn. One of the great things as bloggers when it comes to this is that if you’ve already got content on your blog that teaches something that you can really quite easily take one of those old posts that you’ve written and repurpose that into a live video. You’ve already got the content there, you’ve got your main points already lined out, it’s just a matter of speaking those points. Don’t read them, you want to speak them.

A number three type of video that you want to use is where you want to use the live video to promote some content that you’ve already published. This is something I’ve done a number of times and I’ve done it a number of times particularly on Digital Photography School. What I was doing for a while on the DPS Facebook page was to jump on and to do a Facebook Live just after our newsletter went out. What I would do is basically run through the newsletter and show our viewers of the video the post that we’ve published over the last week. If you’ve subscribed to the DPS newsletter, you’ll know that we send out once a week an email that just basically shows the 14 posts that we’ve published over the last week. We list them, it’s a very simple email.

What I did was basically I showed people the content and I use my phone to do this. I flip the camera around and show the screen of my computer and actually talked about each of the pieces of content that we published over the last week. And then in the description of that video, I shared the links of each of those pieces of content as well so people could then go and find those pieces of content. That did really well, we saw spikes in traffic but it also helped us to get new subscribers to our newsletter because that start of that video I was saying, “Hey, if you haven’t already got our newsletter, here’s what it looks like.” I show them, “Here’s the content that we promoted this week.” That motivated some people to sign up for our newsletter as well.

You could do it with your newsletter or you could do it every time you write a new blogpost. You could say hey, today, I published this. You might give a few of the reasons that you published that post. You might even give a bit of a teaser on some of the content itself, and then you give people the link to go and find that piece of content. You might also take some questions. You might say, “Go and read it now, let me know what you think about it,” and get feedback in some way. Promoting content, promoting a newsletter, promoting some feature of your blog is the number three type of video that you might do on Facebook Live.

Number four is to do a review or to demonstrate something. One of the beauties of video is that you can show stuff. It doesn’t just have to be you standing in front of a camera talking into the webcam, you can be actually illustrating how to use something or to show a product or something that you’ve got that might interest your readers in some way.

You might do an unboxing. If you get a parcel in the mail, you can do an unboxing if you know what it is. Give your first impressions of that particular product. I’ve seen a number of bloggers do this in the fashion space, fashion bloggers who actually unbox a dress and then duck behind a little place and put it on and then show it and then get feedback on it from their audience.

I’ve seen parenting bloggers demonstrate toys with their kids, actually showing the product that they have being given for review. You could do this as a first impression review and then go in and write the full review later on.

The great thing about Facebook Live is that you can embed the videos that you do as a Facebook Live into a blog post later. That’s pretty cool. You can actually say in your full review that you write up in your blog, “Here’s a video that I shot with my first impressions.” Give the rest of the content underneath that as your written content. Doing reviews, demonstrating if you’ve got something particularly visual that you’re writing about, that could be a great way to use Facebook Live.

Similarly if you’re a travel blogger to show a destination. I guess in many ways that’s a review or a demonstration of that destination as well. If you’ve got something visual that you’re blogging about, Facebook Live could be brilliant for you.

Number five way that you can use Facebook Live is to recap an event. I know a lot of you go to conferences, you go to workshops, you go to different types of events. Using Facebook Live in that scenario is brilliant. Firstly, you could actually be showing part of the event. You need to get a bit of permission, you need to actually find out what the terms of service are of that event. You probably don’t want to be live broadcasting keynote speeches without permission. But at the end of the day, that is often a great time for you to do a Facebook Live because you can recap what happened at the event.

I’ve done this a number of times. Last year at Social Media Marketing World, at the end of every day, I would get on and do a Facebook Live video for my followers of here’s the top five things that I learned at Social Media Marketing World this year. That was great because it actually shared what I was learning with my audience. I have a large audience that wants to be at the event that I’m at, but most of them just can’t be there. To be able to give some sort of an insight of that to show them parts of that event can be a really good thing as well. If you are going to an event, make sure at the end of that day, at the start of the day, perhaps just do some little snippets throughout the day of different things that you learned at the event.

Number six thing that you can do for Facebook Live, I’ve already touched on it, to do interviews. This is something you could do at an event to actually ask a speaker, ask another attendee, can I ask you a few questions about the topic that you spoke about, or a session that you’ve been at. Interviewing people can be a great way of doing your Facebook Live. This gets someone else into your video which brings a bit of variety to what you’re doing as well.

It doesn’t have to be at an event, you can actually arrange to meet someone, find a quiet room somewhere, and to do a longer interview or more formal interview as well. This can be done live or they can be done using some of the tools like Zoom, the webinar tool that enables you to do split sharing. At the moment, the Facebook Live doesn’t natively let you do split sharing but I have heard some rumors that that might be coming. But at the moment, you can use tools like Zoom to do that as well. It might be more of a virtual interview in some ways as well.

The last type of video that I’m keen to experiment with, I’ve seen social media examiner do this a number of times, is where they give their Facebook Live access to a guest presenter. If you think about guest posts on blogs, that’s fairly common today. We allow people to write a useful piece of content on our blog, why not consider giving access to someone to your Facebook page to do a live video? This takes a bit of trust because you’re going to have to give them some admin rights to your Facebook page. You don’t want to just be doing this to anyone.

If you’ve got an expert in your field, someone that you know and trust, get them on to do an ask me anything or get them on to do a teaching type one. Get them to present something. That can actually be really interesting because it shows your audience that you’re connected with other people in your industry, it gives them another voice which adds a bit of variety to your page, and they may promote it as well if they’re someone who has some influence in their space, they might share it to their network which then helps your page to be found by more people as well.

Again, it takes some trust. Don’t just give access to your Facebook page to anyone, but that’s something that you might want to do.

Those are just seven things that you can do with a Facebook Live. Ask me anything, teach something, promote content or your newsletter, do a review or a demonstration, recap an event, interview someone, or get a guest presenter on. You can do a lot more than that, you can do a behind the scenes, announcements, previews of things that are coming out. Those seven things that I’ve gone through are the things that I’ve used Facebook Live for with best results.

I would love to hear what you think. How have you used Facebook Live? You can tell us how you’ve done that at problogger.com/podcast/180 or you can share that over in our Facebook Group. Just search on Facebook for ProBlogger Podcast Listeners.

Lastly, I want to challenge you to do a Facebook Live this week. I know for a fact that a large percentage of you have not done your first Facebook Live. I want to challenge you to do it today. Whether anyone shows up to your Facebook Live live or not, it doesn’t matter. The great thing about Facebook Live is that once the live session is over, it becomes a video on your page or in your group, wherever you decide to do it. It becomes content that you can then embed into a blog post or that will remain on your page and people can access it afterwards.

Facebook continues to share it later on. Even if no one shows up to it, if you do a teaching for example and no one shows up, it still is valuable content as well. I want you to choose one of those seven types of Facebook Lives, to do it on your Facebook page, and then to come into our Facebook Group ProBlogger Podcast Listeners and share what you did, leave a link to your Facebook Live. I really want to see as many Facebook Lives over the next seven days as possible. I challenge you, I dare you, I double dare you, do it today.

Thanks for listening, I’ll chat with you next week.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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Community Discussion: Making Money

ProBlogger Community Discussion: Making Money

One of the most popular topics on ProBlogger (if not the most searched-for item) is making money blogging, and how to go about it.

There are so many ways of earning a living online, and we have almost just as much advice on how best to keep the dollars rolling in. Darren covers it quite extensively on his podcast, and it’s a topic we dive down deep in during every ProBlogger conference or event. If you’ve got a question, we would undoubtedly have the answer!

But because it’s so different, there’s no one real formula to success (and if there is, I’d probably say it’s “diversify“). Thats why I’d love to chat with you about what has worked for you and what hasn’t? What are the pros and cons of each choice for you? What would you love to try? What do you wish would be successful, but just isn’t?

For example, affiliate sales for me used to be difficult as it wasn’t as prevalent in Australia. Most of my income comes from freelance blogging, writing, and editing, and while affiliate income has grown, it isn’t what it could be if my audience was US-based. I also quite regularly had sponsored content on the blog over the years, but sidebar advertising wasn’t terribly successful. My next move is products (if only I can make the time!).

Where do you stand on making money? How much would you like to make? What kinds of income streams are you using or will you be experimenting with this year? Let’s chat!

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181: How to Overcome the Challenges of Being a Solo Entrepreneur

Tackling the Biggest Challenges of Being a Solo Entrepreneur with Robert Gerrish of FlyingSolo

In today’s lesson, I have a real treat for those of you who spend most of your working life alone as solo-entrepreneurs.

Over in the ProBlogger Podcast listeners facebook group this week I ran a little poll to see how many of you as listeners work alone vs work in teams. The results were as I suspected – 93% of you work alone on your blogs.

Of the other 7% – most had family members or readers volunteer their time to help out a little with some small aspect of their blog but it was largely a solo venture.

This is no surprise to me at all because in the regular surveys we do of ProBlogger readers and listeners we regularly get asked questions on some of the challenges that solo-entrepreneurs face.

As a result for today’s episode I asked Robert Gerrish to join me. Robert is a coach, teacher and community leader who has a passion for solo business owners. He’s the owner of an Australian site – FlyingSolo and has recently put together an excellent resource for solo-business owners called Soloism.

I chatted with Robert earlier today, and I asked him about some of the biggest challenges I see in our community of solo-entrepreneurs. We talk about productivity, focus, loneliness, personal development, motivation, feeling overwhelmed and how to get through times when things don’t seem to work. He also gives us some tools and apps that solo business owners will find useful.

If you’re a solo-entrepreneur (or want to be) you’re going to relate to a lot of what we talk about in this episode. I came away from this chat feeling motivated and inspired for my own business and hope you enjoy it to.

Further Resources on How to Overcome the Challenges of Being a Solo Entrepreneur

‘Note: we are an affiliate and earn a small commission if you purchase Soloism but we offer our genuine recommendation for it and the teaching of Robert.’



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Darren: Hi there and welcome to Episode 181 of the ProBlogger Podcast!

My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, a podcast, event, job board and a series of ebooks all designed to help you as a blogger to start an amazing blog, beautifully designed and to create amazing content for it and to grow that audience that you’ve been dreaming of and to hopefully make some money from your blog as well. You can learn more about ProBlogger at problogger.com.

In today’s episode, I have a real treat for those of you who, if you’re like me, spend most of your time working alone as a solo entrepreneur. I do have a small team who works with me but I spend most of my day by myself and I’m not the only one. I’ve ran the ProBlogger Podcast listeners Facebook group this week, I ran a little poll to see how many of you as a listeners work alone versus working in teams.

The result was as I suspected, 93% of you work alone on your blog. You don’t employ anyone, you don’t have anyone volunteering to help you in your blogging. Of the other 7%, most of you said that you had a family member or a reader volunteer their time or someone virtually offering their time in another part of the world. Of that 7%, most of you say you do spend most of your time alone as a solo entrepreneur even though you do have other people involved in the business.

This figure of 93% or it’s probably 100% really is no surprise to me at all because every time we survey our readers, we find the same thing and we get a lot of questions from you as readers and listeners of the podcast asking us about your biggest challenges as a blogger. Most of the challenges that we see are less about blogging and more about being a solo entrepreneur. We get a lot of questions about productivity and how to stay focused and how to do with being overwhelmed and how to know what to spend your time on. These are challenges that many of us face because we’re working alone.

As a result, for today’s episode I asked Robert Gerrish to join me. Robert is a coach, he’s a teacher, he’s a community leader who has a passion for solo business owners. He’s the owner of an amazing site her in Australia called Flying Solo. You can find it at flyingsolo.com.au, it’s got over 100,000 members and they’re almost all solo business owners. He’s been doing that for many years now. And he’s also recently launched a really great cause for people around the world called Soloism. We’ll talk about that later in the episode.

I chatted with Robert earlier today and I asked him about some of those big challenges that I see you as our community having as a solo entrepreneurs. We talked about productivity, we talked about focus, we talked about loneliness, about personal development, how to stay motivated, how to deal with feeling overwhelmed and how to get through those times where there’s rejection or a failure. I also get some really useful tools and apps that solo business owners will find useful.

If you are a solo entrepreneur, or you want to be, you’re making a transition to be, you’re going to relate to a lot of what we talk about in this episode. I personally came away from this chat feeling very motivated and inspired and I hope you do, too.

You can find today’s show notes over at problogger.com/podcast/181 where there’s a full transcript of today’s show. You’ll also find on the show notes today a link that Robert has given us that gives you 20% off his Soloism course. We’ll talk a little bit more about that at the end of the show. But you’re going to get a lot of value whether you look at that or not because this episode is packed with value. I hope you enjoy this interview with Robert.

Hello Robert, how are you today?

Robert: I’m very well, Darren, great to be talking with you.

Darren: That’s great to be chatting with you, as well. Sometimes when I think about interviewing you, I don’t know quite where to go with this because there’s so much we can talk about. You’ve got a great story and your site Flying Solo is one that I would love to interview you about, but today I want to talk about Soloism and being a solo entrepreneur. I want to just give our audience a bit of context into who you are and why you are talking to us on this topic today, whether you can talk to us a little bit about why you’re passionate about Solo Entrepreneurs and maybe give us a two minute back story of getting into that industry yourself.

Robert: Yeah, sure. I started Flying Solo about 20 years ago now, which has just flown by. I can’t believe it’s that long. To give you a short version, my background part on that was on the other side of the world, in London. I was working for a small independent marketing consultancy, we sold our business in the late ‘80s and I then decided with a bit more caution, I knew what to do with, not sure what to do next, that I’d take a year off and travelled the world. Wasn’t I lucky? And I did.

Thank goodness, I ended up in Australia and thank goodness I met my now wife. We relocated to totally here now. The reason I’m telling you all that is when I came here, I decided that after reason based on the full on career, I really wanted to do my own thing and I totally saw these stories about some life in Australia. I decided, yes, okay, I was going to start a business, I was going to keep very under control, very manageable, we want to start a family. I knew I wanted a real sort of lifestyle business.

I set about doing that and ended up getting a little too busy, and one of the main reason I got too busy was that I started working with small creative groups. That was the background that I had, small creative companies, helping them with their positioning and marketing.

Through a delightful twist of fate, I was introduced to this whole world of coaching that was just starting. This was about 1998, 1999.  I looked to that and I thought, this is a really good way to deliver my skills rather than consulting where you come back to your office and do all the work. Coaching is very much more you support the individual to find the solution themselves and you’d nudge them and guide them. I was really attracted to that, that suited my lifestyle business idea perfectly.

About that time, ABC Four Corners was doing a show on new work practices and delightfully they chose me as their guinea pig. I suddenly had an office which in fact was my garden shed with a TV crew in it, they followed some of my clients around and over a very short period of time, my businesses went nuts. I had this fantastic national TV profile, my phone was ringing off the hook. I was so busy. I suddenly found myself back on that situation where I was doing too much and that’s not what I wanted.

As I sat down one day with all the files of everyone I’ve ever talked to and worked out who are the people I really wanted to work with, who the people I really sensed I was doing good work with. Lo and behold, they were all people that were working totally by themselves. Just like me, trying to build a nice lifestyle business, something that allowed them to live and work the way they wanted to.

With my marketing brand, I wanted something here so I registered Flying Solo, I started writing just about solo businesses, working by yourself very quickly. Daily Telegraph asked me if I’d write a regular column, it all just took off. It’s always been since then and to this day is what drives me is wanting to support people who want to create that own business. If they want to scale and grow into something much larger, fine, but the hot land of our community, I will say those that want to work on their own terms want freedom, want fulfillment, want to do work that inspires them and does some good and that’s what we do now in Australia, the same as US and UK. Over 70% of small business these days are one person businesses and I think some of the challenges we have are very unique and that’s why we exist.

Darren: That’s great. It’s exactly why I wanted to focus on Soloism today because our audience, every time we survey them, and we survey them several times a year, the challenges in our community, seem to be less about how do I blog and more about how do I have a business and sustain it as single person or maybe someone who’s contracting out. It’s not a traditional business model in many ways, so many of the questions that we get are more around productivity and focus and feeling overwhelmed and lacking motivation and feeling lonely.

Today, I wonder if we could tap into some of those themes but before I get into those challenges, I wonder whether some people just aren’t cut out to be a solo operator and whether you can identify some characteristics that good solo operators might have for help to make that decision whether it’s right for them.

Robert: It pains me to say but I do agree. It does not suit everybody and particularly those that have maybe come from perhaps the big end of town from corporate, from an employed position where they’re used to having structure thrust upon them, they have reporting procedures and action this to determine why the people…

Sometimes, when you’re shifting from that to being the master of your own destiny, control of your own time and business, it doesn’t sit with everybody. But I do think that so many of the things that can bring about change and can help really enjoy a very learnable skill. This is not rocket science or else there wouldn’t be 70% of our business community working like this.

I think it’s something like one in three house in most residential streets in Australia and you got a home based business in them. A lot of people are doing it, but I think we need an ability to be able to juggle projects, we need to be able to have real clarity around where’s our priorities are and I think that’s a key one that we might pull apart a bit further. We need to be self-starters, we need to be disciplined, we need to be willing to learn, putting our own professional development at the top of our list which is often something that can be not on the top of the list. We got to be able to communicate well, we need to be able to market, we need to hold ourselves accountable, there’s a lot of stuff there.

We have a quiz, I’m very happy if anyone wants to have a look at it. It’s at flyingsolo.com.au/quiz where we pull this really apart and what are the skills that you need. I do think that we can certainly learn these things and we can take steps forward and start to bring some structure but it takes work. There’s no doubt about that.

Darren: Yeah. I think it takes time getting used to it as well. I actually had a conversation with someone recently that didn’t think they had what it took to be at home all day alone. I think you’re right, some of those skills and characteristics develop over time. But you don’t have to confront them all on day one either.

Robert: That’s for sure. Also, the way that we can run our businesses now has changed so dramatically even in the last 10 years. When you mentioned there about working alone, certainly working alone at home doesn’t work for everyone. You can’t bounce ideas off your household pets, you can get distracted when you work out of your office and see your dishwashing sitting there. There are things we can do about that, we can move around.

I think the important thing is to focus on what we can do, what we should do. If anyone is standing at home or sitting at home now feeling a little lost, the thing I would say is don’t sit around at home. Just get out, get out to the world. Don’t sit there laboring over something because ideas don’t come when you’re bashing your head on your monitor. It doesn’t work like that.

Darren: That’s right. It leads me to my next question, we hear a lot of our audience working off the kitchen table, if surrounded by the life of home or they’re working after work in a real job, lots of distractions. Are there tips you can give around the work environment and how to set up your work environment if you are struggling with all those distractions and other agendas?

Robert: Yes. I think you touched the very first point which is when someone is working at their kitchen table. If that works for you, fine. In my experience with these things, what we really need to do is we need to show ourselves that we’re taking our work seriously. I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve spoken to over the years, and I’ve said who’s struggling a bit with concentration and focus on the business.

Describe for me where you’re working right now. What do you see around you? And it startles me how many people use the third bedroom, the one with the half assembled Ikea furniture and kid’s bikes and all this kind of stuff. They huddle themselves in the corner somewhere or they sit in the kitchen or they sit in the bedroom. Really this is sending, I think, fairly deep signals to our inner selves that this isn’t real business, this is just something I’m going to do in the kitchen table once I got a bit of time.

I would say give yourself the best space in your home. Many cases, the nicest room is their bedroom where they walk in every night, shut their eyes and go to sleep ten hours, eight hours, whatever. Give yourself the best possible space. Make it the most supportive space.

If it’s important to you that it looks like a proper office, well, paint it like a proper office, furnish it like a proper office. Anything that sends signals to you that okay, here I am, I’m going to work, that’s what we need to do. Whereas if we’re sitting down in our pj’s and we’re just doing it around normal daily family life, then I think we’re setting ourselves up for a bit of a tricky time.

Create the right space. Have your desk space. I would suggest you nice and clear the things that are on your desk are the things that are your priorities. Anything else, get it out of your vision, move it away from you. Have a decent chair, have a decent desk, have a decent light, get the best computer you can afford. Give yourselves the best chances. If you’re in employment and somebody says sit over there in that corner where there’s no light on that horrible old chair and that lanky old desk, you wouldn’t stay there for very long and yet we do it to ourselves, it’s crazy.

Darren: That’s true. I think a lot of it is mindset, really. I know one friend who wears a tie to his front room everyday just to help him to get into work zone and to focus professionally upon what he’s doing.

Robert: I have a similar story of a woman who leaves her house, walks around the block and comes back in again. That’s a great thing. There’s a lovely quote from the Dalai Lama which says, “I’ve got so much work to do today, I’m going to have to meditate twice as long.” I think this is the most wonderful thing. The sentiment of that is if you’re busy and you’re overwhelmed, often the best thing you can do is actually just take yourself away, give yourself a chance to clear your head, work out what your priorities are and then come back into your day with some vigor.

If we’re just walking getting something like the kids out to school, walking into an office and boom, immediately feeling overwhelmed with what you’ve got to do, that’s never going to work.

Darren: I think back to when I used to work in a shop selling stationery, I used to enjoy the commute and I think that commute gave me some separation from the rest of my life and helped me to get ready for work. I miss that commute today and often will go for a walk or grab a coffee and get to work after I’ve had a break.

Robert: The story I often told people, just imagine you’re going on holiday, you’re going on a two week holiday or something, what usually happens before you go on holiday is you clear everything up, you empty your inbox, you tidy your office, you tidy up loose ends and then you go off and you enjoy holiday. And then when you come back, that first day back, sometimes you might not want to be back. What you’ve got is a workplace that’s ready for you.

What we shouldn’t be doing is waiting for our annual holidays to do this kind of stuff. Ideally, we should do these rituals that you talk about when you end your day, make sure you’re leaving your space ready for your next day, give yourself the best chance to work at your best.

Darren: That’s great. We’re really getting in there to talk some of the rhythms of work and leaving your work so that you’re ready for the next days starts to speak to a system of time management, almost planning. Do you have any other tips around managing your time?

Robert: Look, there’s a few things. Just to sort of jump around a little bit and go back a step. When I was doing a lot of one on one coaching with people, I would meet people who are or were in a position where they were really struggling and overwhelmed and just feeling so anxious about their work.

One of the opening questions that I would ask is where do you get your energy from? In most cases, people would respond in that situation saying I haven’t gotten any energy, that’s why I’m talking to you. I’ll say okay, let’s have a look at when you did have good levels of energy, describe life then. If you do that exercise, you’ll find that what people are saying oh when I had energy I used to catch up with my mates twice a week, I play soccer at weekends, I go out with my partner once a fourth night, I go for a run every morning, I go to the gym twice a week. All these things, that little by little when the pressure is on, if we’re not careful, we let go of these things one by one because we have this crazy thought that because I’ve got so much work, I’ve got to stay here in front of my computer which is just lunacy. We’ve got to put ourselves first, put ourselves as a priority, treat ourselves like our best customer.

You mentioned going for a walk there, I love walking. If don’t go for a decent walk every day, I’m not a nice guy. When my son gets home from school, my wife gets home, I’m not the nicest person to be around, but if I go for a decent walk, I get clarity, I get some distance between my work and the rest of my life. It’s not really a tool but it’s something I think we need to do.

We are very strong advocates of Flying Solo and have been for a number of years over the Pomodoro Technique which I’m sure you and your listeners will have heard of, but this whole notion of working in 20 minute blocks of having, it’s called Pomodoro Technique, invented by this Italian guy. He runs his little Italian tomato kitchen timers. You work for 20 minutes on a topic and then you take a five minute break. That’s a little tool, if anybody Googles that, there’s a lot of guides, there’s apps on your phone as well.

I think the notion of working in blocks of time and being really clear on what you’re going to do for the next 20 minutes and looking at a project, okay, that project is going to take me three lots of Pomodoros, having it planned. This might sound quite structured to some people and a lot of creative people don’t actually love a lot of structure but I would just say to you, please, please try it because it opens up so much more possibility to what you can achieve in a day.

I would certainly have a look at blocking time, using blocks for key periods. Something that has always worked well for me is having daily themes. For a while in my coaching business, Wednesday was my Business Development Day. All I did on Wednesday were activities to do with attracting growing business through promotion and marketing. The result that had on the rest of my week is whenever I have any other ideas or anything that I observed or anything I thought of that, it would all go in my diary for Wednesday. That’s Wednesday, I’ll do that on Wednesday. Don’t worry about that now.

But again, what I think happens with a lot of us in solo businesses is there are so many things coming at us all the time that we feel we have to respond to them in real time and that just destroys any sense of focus. Using blocks have perhaps, blocking a whole day, giving a day a theme, those are some of the things that certainly work for me and I’ve seen them work for a lot of other people.

Darren: It’s fascinating you said that because regularly, the listeners of this would’ve heard me talk numerous times about my own weekly schedule. I have a template for my week where I block it half a day for creating content, half a day for different activities, and I find that particularly works well for me. And I try and leave some freedom in there and some impulse in the midst of the day because I think that’s important for my personality type but I do think blocks of time work well.

Robert: I totally agree with you. I think if we don’t allow some time to be impulsive then, really where is this freedom that we’re all after. We should do that. But freedom comes and you can enjoy freedom when you get a sense that you’ve actually achieved something.

For anyone who’s having one of these really cranky sort of days, where they’re just in and out of email or Facebook and not doing anything. If you say to that person, okay, now it’s your yoga class, the chances are they go I don’t feel like I deserve that, I haven’t done enough, I haven’t achieved enough.

But if you actually do these things in these blocks, then you feel that you’ve achieved and that’s the whole thing. There’s no one else coming along patting us on our back when we’re walking saying good job or bad job or anything like that. We got to do it ourselves.

I talk to my son a lot about this when he’s doing his homework now. His tendencies, he wants to go and skateboard or he wants to go and hit the ball against the wall and I’ll always say come on, just eat the frog first, do the Brian Tracy thing, do the work first and then celebrate by having a bit of fun. Doing that switch is okay, I think.

Darren: That’s right. One of the other things that we hear from a lot of our audience is the feeling of overwhelm. It comes from different races, sometimes it’s just that a lot of pressure on other times it’s someone’s choice. How do I know what to focus on? There are so many opportunities and particularly as bloggers in the social media space, do I focus on Facebook or Twitter or Snapchat or blogging itself or podcasting and it can be an overwhelming space to be involved in. Is there any tips you can give us on doing that because we do have to do it all ourselves. We are the only ones who can get it done, is there anyway to make smart choices around what to focus at time on and to deal with those feelings of overwhelm?

Robert: Gosh. That’s such a big one. We research our audience every couple of years and overwhelm is second to finding enough clients and having enough revenue, it’s always there. A large part of it, I think was it Paul Theroux who said that lovely quote, “The world moves a sign for the man who knows where he’s going.” I still think of that.

I think it comes back to we need to have real clarity of what we’re actually trying to achieve and where we’re trying to get to. That’s so basic. You’ve heard that a million times. I do think that the core of overwhelm is a lack of or a slight hesitation in is this the right thing? Should I be doing this? When you’re really clear on what you want to do and where you need to go and what your priorities are for your day, it’s much easier to go, well, maybe that is a nice bright shiny thing over there but is it going to take me where I’m trying to go, it probably isn’t, so I won’t look at it now.

It’s the part of it that’s doing that and that doesn’t really answer your question because the examples that you used there are always or the number them a ways that a blogger can market and of course any blogger is looking to grow their and again look at all sorts of opportunities. But the main thing there is it comes back to that blocking idea. If looking at new avenues is something to do, then how that being maybe one of your themes, that one day a week or one day a fourth night, where that’s all you do. You bury yourself into it, rather than being distracted at new shiny things that are popping up here and there and they’re always going to be popping up here and there is compartmentalizing, you put them down, that’s your day of research to look at those things, speak to a couple of people, get other people’s opinions.

No one needs to reinvent the wheel these days. Too many people worry about trying to be early adopters, trying to get on things fast, getting on things first. I’m more of a get rich slowly kind of person. It means you don’t have to get rich. There’s no hurry. The important things is to step back a bit and observe and listen and look.

Whether that’s a tangible enough response to your question is questionable but the other thing now I’d say is overwhelm can be eased dramatically when we get things down on paper. When we’re walking around with stuff in our heads, it’s a really busy place, it’s like starting a computer and launching every single piece of software and then expecting everything to move smoothly, it doesn’t.

Ideally what we should do is get the stuff out of our heads. Get it down on paper, just write it down. If you’re getting overwhelmed by something, write down your thoughts. What is it you’re getting overwhelmed about? Is it right that you should be thinking about this now? Just go through that process, almost like sort of morning pages, you’ll be familiar with the artist way. Getting stuff out of your head and down on paper is such a strong way of clearing some of that overwhelm.

Another good way is to buddy up with someone, speak to a friend or a colleague. Speaking to people, we don’t do enough of that. Talk to somebody. Somebody who’s maybe on a similar situation, maybe catch up with them once or twice a week, talk on a forum. Forums are full of people that are sharing the things that are overwhelming them. You would know, your listeners would know the joy you feel, the ease you feel when you share a situation, a problem with somebody else. Even if you share it with someone who doesn’t even speak in your language, you’ll come away feeling a bit better.

Darren: Words really are powerful. Because often when we have those thoughts locked in our minds, they become bigger, they don’t need to become as big as we build them up in our minds. Sometimes, just speaking them or writing them down as you suggest can put you back in control again and give you perspective.

Robert: Totally. If you’ve done any of the studies of cognitive behavior therapy, it sounds very technical but is basically, in my understanding of it, I’ve done this a short course and it’s a means by which you write down what’s on your mind, you then write in the column next to it what am I really worried about? What are the issues that really concern me? And then in the third column, what’s the alternative, how might things actually play out? Just by pulling something apart like that, particularly for anyone that has recurring concerns, they’re forever waking up at two in the morning with the same sort of problems in their mind and two o’clock in the morning or thereabouts is never a good time to get clear.

But if you got a sheet of paper and I did this for a while, when we have some pressures on our business a few years ago. I wrote down, I did this three column thing. Okay, this is what I’m worrying about, this thing needs to be explained a little bit further but this is actually what it really counts, this is what could have really happened, this is an alternative way of looking at it. I just kept that by my bedside. My goodness, it was helpful. Just knowing it; you wake up, you can see it, you can worry, you can look at it and go, you know what, that doesn’t deserve worrying about, that’s just crazy.

Darren: Yeah, that’s right. It sounds like you did that like I do with my wife, with Vanessa. Often she doesn’t understand the complexities of what I’m worried about but simply by putting them out there, she’ll ask a couple of questions and you suddenly, yeah, okay, I don’t need to be worried about that anymore.

Robert: I agree. I think our wives are similar. It’s incredible, it doesn’t need to be somebody who has a deep insight into these machinations of your business. It’s the process of talking, verbalizing it, actually will help the individual to see often the absurdity of the worry but also start to see a hint of some of the solutions and the alternative ways of looking. There are always different ways of looking at things. When we’re on our own, hemmed in a bit, we often just fail to remember that.

Darren: Yeah. I guess one of the things that we’re talking about here is how you worry if things don’t go well. Many times, things do go well and we don’t need to worry about those things but what about when things don’t go well? Do you have any suggestions? Sometimes things rock our world, we might go through a ton of rejection, or something just doesn’t work and it can be really hard, as a solo entrepreneur, get over those hurdles because we don’t have someone alongside of us going, let’s keep going. Often when you are working in a team environment, one person’s up while the other person’s down. But if you’re all down and you’ve had some sort of rejection, how do you get back up on the whole and keep going?

Robert: That’s a great point. And yes, of course it happens. If we think of our kids, when they’re starting to walk, when they’re starting to talk, what do they do? They just fall over but they don’t just sit there and heap, they get up and they do it again. That’s nowhere near enough of that kind of solution but it’s worth remembering that as human beings, this is how we’re built, this is innate, this is within us, things are going to fail, but we do have the skill within us, we have the resolve and the drive within us to get up and try it again.

But the thing, I think, that often we don’t do enough of is just recognizing the real kind of learning and the wins even within failure. What I mean by that is if you think of those poor people who, maybe it’s hard to sympathize with them. Those people who ring up your family home at six o’clock at night, cold calling, canvassing, trying to plug you something. That’s a really grueling job to do, it’s a horrible job and most of the time they match with failure and they’re usually a lot worse that just failure, they get abused and everything else.

How on earth do they skip there and dial the next number? The reason I think that they do that, and there has been some research into this, is that the measurement of success is very much taking in very small steps. The fact that you pick the phone up in the first place is a win. The next thing that you actually say something even if it’s smartly abusive, is a win. They take the wins along the way and I think as business centers, we don’t do enough of that. We look at something and it’s too easy to say, well that didn’t work. Thomas Edison said, he doesn’t think he’s failed, he just found 10,000 ways it didn’t work.”

I think the same is true in business, we used to look at what we’re doing, going okay, that didn’t go the way I wanted it to go. However, what have I learned about that? What can I take as of it that I can reapply? If we start to use that sort of mindset, my goodness! It’s going to open up new possibilities and new levels of strength within us. Because if we do just fall over and heap every time, it’s not going to work. We’re not going to be able to come and carry on doing that.

There is a survey done, I think it was the Productivity Commission here in Australia spoke to a number of startup failures. To a woman and a man, every single person who failed, this is some time after they shut the door, considered the failure to have been a positive thing. Now that’s a very hard thing to get your head around when you’re in the middle of it, but they all look back in it saying, actually, if that hadn’t happened, then I wouldn’t have learned this, I wouldn’t have learned this, I wouldn’t have gone here, I wouldn’t have met that person. I think that’s an important thing just to remind ourselves that there are always lessons in here. You need to step back and go okay, well, that didn’t work, but what have I learned from it and how can I amend it and change it and transition and try again. Once we do lots of that, my goodness. It’s a tricky one, but once we do, we’ll never have that problem again.

Darren: That’s right. The rejections and the failures and the elimination of a course of action that you won’t take again narrows down the chance of victory. I was talking to one blogger the other day and she was like she’d been really quite depressed about her blog and have been dwelling on the fact that nobody’s reading and nobody’s commenting and nobody’s following and no one’s subscribing, then she managed to turn it around by focusing upon the fact that well, 30 paper read today, and I guess we start to look for the positives in that. 30 people are paying attention to something that I said, that doesn’t happen for me in my real life. That’s something to celebrate, she began to focus upon the 30 rather than the nobody. It completely changed her around and now has 30,000 because she actually realized they were the individuals, they’re interacting with what she was doing and it really changed things for her.

Robert: Isn’t that a wonderful example. You mentioned 30 people, it they turned up at your front door, that’s a lot of people. You wouldn’t fit them in most offices. That’s so valuable. When she talked to you, into the process of talking to you, she sounds like she got there. That’s just so important.

Darren: One of the other things that’s kind of come up in our conversation a little, bit there is about looking after yourself. When you’re working for a corporate or an employer, there are systems in place for the employee, that’s professional development. Often, there’s annual leave or sick leave or long service leave or maternity leave, all these things to help care for the employee. But when you’re working for yourself, that’s very easy to not have those systems in place, most of us probably don’t. Do you think there’s a case for us to think through things like sick leave and those professional development and those types of things, things that we can put in place to help us to be more sustainable in the long term within our business?

Robert: Yes, there definitely is. I think the good news is we don’t have to use terms like sick leave. We can put it in our language but I think it’s back to this kind of putting our self first. I would say that over the years that we’ve been existing, we’ve seen very, very positive changes in this regard.

I remember when we were starting out, so much of the talk where there’s sort of a battle of business. You got to work harder, mate. You got to push harder and I didn’t see so much of that around these day, thank goodness. I think a large percentage of people aren’t getting this right.

I think putting ourself first again is that energy thing, what is going to allow you to be the best possible you, is it going to yoga three times a week? Is it starting the day off with a walk? Is it catching up with a friend? These are the kinds of things that should be in our diaries before anything else, before any of those things. Putting the things that make you you, that’s the single most important thing I think, is giving yourself the chance to be your best self.

It’s that Dalai Lama quote again. That’s where it starts. With paid holiday leave, I certainly strongly advocate that we should always have something in our diaries that we can look forward to. Again, my darling wife Jane is very good at putting things in my diaries but we make sure that we’ve got some bit of fun always planned with us.

Lots of our availability is determined by school holidays, so every school holiday, we make sure we do something. We go away somewhere, we do something. But regardless of whether it’s school holidays or not, having something planned in your diary. Maybe it’s once a month, maybe it’s once a fourth night, maybe it’s once every three months, but what we shouldn’t do is get to the point where we get to end of year and go, oh, I didn’t have any holiday. I just don’t think that’s the right way to be.

The other thing is that perhaps it sounds like a bit of contradiction to that is that balance is not something that you do at the weekends. That’s not how it should be when you’re running your own business. Balance should be within every day. Doing something every day that is for you and that is for your mental and physical well being is just so important. I think it’s not work like a dog Monday to Friday and then lie on the sofa all weekend. Plan it in your day, make it a part of your day.

The professional development thing, I would say that again, we got so much access to tools. You go into Coursera or any of these places, anything that you want to upscale and my goodness you can just do it immediately. You can do it also at local universities and lots of organizations that exist doing very low cost professional development.

What I think we should do as solo business owners is give ourselves a professional development budget and spend it. Make sure we spend it because just going to something, when I was talking about that cognitive behavior therapy, the reason I did  that was I did a four day course, part of Sydney Uni. It was brilliant. I didn’t know what I was really doing but it looked interesting and I did for three afternoons, met with a fabulously interesting group of people, cost me not much money. Give yourself a personal development budget and spend it. Don’t get to the end of the year without spending it.

Darren: That’s great. I love those tips of something to look forward to and that’s something we’re always obsessed by our holidays and spend way too much time thinking about our next holiday but I think that helps my mental health to know that there’s something coming and there’s something exciting. Like you’re saying, each day there needs to be something to look forward to as well. For me, that’s my walk, my podcast, listening in the middle of the day, I give myself 45 minutes just to listen to something fun. That drives me through the morning and then it’s probably watching something on Netflix in the evening.

Robert: I’ve set up a day recently. I’m based in Sydney and I’ve planned a wonderful day trip, I’ve done it a couple of times. I’m going to try and do it every 12 weeks, which is I get a train from the center of Sydney which goes to Kaima down on the South Coast. It’s about 2 1/2 hours, lovely journey. I walk from Kiama to Gerringong which is about 20kms there and back. Lovely coast line walk and I get the train home again.

I leave at 7:30 in the morning, get home 7:30 at night and I walk and I sit and I listen, I take podcasts, I take notebooks. What a fantastic day. It’s a day and as I scurry off to the railway station and hop off at 7:00 in the morning, it just feels so wonderful. You can do so much when you’re staring out the window of a train or walking along a coast. It’s one day. It cost me next to nothing, it’s so cheap. It’s just a beautiful way to spend your day.

Darren: It’s interesting that you, as someone who worked alone a lot, spend that time alone when you’re not working as well. Are you an introvert?

Robert: No, not at all. Actually, no, I’m not in the slightest. But I love solitude. Actually, there’s a wonderful show on ABC recently about the distinction of solitude and loneliness. I love solitude and I just think it’s so important for me anyway and I know this happily from my wife. My wife’s an artist and she has time where she just wants to be by herself and paint and I know our teenage child has plenty of time and he wants to be on his own. I just think solitude is a wonderful thing. So yes, I do choose to be by myself and I make sure I have a good block of it each and every day, quite honestly, I spend the rest of the time surrounded by 100,000 Flying Solo members. I love communing as well.

Darren: I guess that brings me to my final question. It was around loneliness and I asked in our Facebook group the other day if anyone had any questions for you and there was a number of people who just reported feeling lonely and I can see them connecting with our community which is one way to tackle that. Do you have any other thoughts on those who do struggle with that aspect of being a solo entrepreneur?

Robert: Yeah. Look, it’s a very important one and I think learning this can really eat away at you and it just shouldn’t. I think there’s a distinction between working by yourself and just really feeling like you’re alone. You mentioned you’re in community of ProBlogger and clearly, we have a community at Flying Solo.

There are so many ways that we can connect and we should. I think that one of the key things is just having the courage to get away from your desk and going into the world. If you’re one of those people who tend to fall back a lot on online communication, maybe take a shift from that and actually arrange to go and meet people instead of just hooking up with them online. That might not sound like it’s so sensible in terms of time usage but what it gives you in terms of connection I just think is so much greater.

I personally love to go and work in a public library, I also have an office at home, I have an office in town but I still go and work in our public library, often if I’m writing. Having other people around me, that’s sort of studious with their head down really helps me. I think little tricks like that, just connecting by seeing other people living their lives, maybe going and doing work in a co-working space for a couple of hours, go and sit in a café. Really, libraries are just so wonderful. We can use those.

I think buddying up with people is very good if you just have two or three people, close colleagues perhaps in their little Facebook group and just check in with each other.

Since we use Slack as our communication tool in Flying Solo which works superbly for us, there’s eight of us all dotted around different parts of the country, all different time zones, working different days, working different hours but that’s one place where we just come together. Those little tools, if we make use of those, can really keep us connected.

Our forums at Flying Solo, lots of people pop in there. It never ceases to amaze me how supportive people are of other people, it’s a natural human instinct to offer support to other people. We should just use that. If you’ve got something on your mind, something you’re worrying about, something that you’re not sure about, then just ask. You’d be amazed what you get back.

Meetup groups, another great place to go just to stay connected with people. It’s connection that connection that connects, that’s the answer.

Darren: You’ve mentioned a couple of tools that you use, Slack being one. We use Slack as well. Do you have any other tools or apps that you use? Not just for connection with others but any aspect of being a solo operator.

Robert: I use one little one which you probably heard of called . A cool Coffitivity which is a little app. It’s available for Mac and Android. It’s just the noise of a café. It sounds a bit weird. It’s just a little app and if I play it, it just gives you the noise of a lovely café, you can’t hear any particular voices distinctly but it just gives you the impression that you’re in a bustling place.

Surprisingly, that really works. It really does. I personally use that. I use music a great deal. I have music playing around me all the time. I personally don’t have any vocals, I find those distracting but other music I certainly listen to. I make sure that regardless of whether it’s one of my walking periods or not that I’m outside quite regularly. I stay and see people around me as often as I can, I use podcasts and not just business podcasts. In fact, less and less do I listen to business podcasts, I listen to podcasts that entertain me, just humor or that lead me in areas that I maybe just don’t know anything about. I find those are good.

Another thing that I do that I know number one is a bit weird, whenever I travel anywhere, if I’m going to an airport, I’ll always buy a magazine about a topic that I know nothing about. The time before last, it was a whole thing on graffiti. It was a magazine about graffiti and street art. I just bought that, I didn’t really understand it, not before I read I wasn’t sure whether do I like graffiti or don’t I. When I go to Melbourne, I love it, but a lot of the stuff I see around here is just tagging and messy.

I buy magazines on topics that I don’t know, I read them, my gosh, that opens up just new ways of thinking. I’m not sure whether it necessarily helps me with the loneliness side of things but it gives me an understanding of people in different ways that I didn’t have before. I just think that’s a large part of it, being open to new ways of doing things, new ideas, getting out from our own little bubble.

Part of the joy of a solo business is our little bubble but there’s a danger in there, also. A final thing I’ll just say is another quote that I often repeat in my head. It’s the one from the British philosopher, Bertrand Russell which is, “The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” I use that as my excuse. I’ve got a bit of a thing about chairs, I buy and sell and collect particular chairs. That’s what I repeat to myself. The time I’m enjoying wasting is not wasted time. My wife calls it chair porn but it’s just me sitting there looking at a particular chair, models of chairs, and I love doing it. That to me just reminds me of gosh, aren’t I lucky to be working by myself, I can spend 10 minutes today doing something that I just love and no one’s going to tell me off.

Darren: That’s great. I love it. I feel like we’re just giving the surface today even though we have covered a lot of grounds. There’s so much that solo entrepreneurs face and I know that many in our audience would like to dig a little bit deeper with you and I guess they can check out Flying Solo but I love what you’ve launched in the last month, Soloism. I wonder whether you can give us a really brief introduction to Soloism because as I look at it, it is a perfect fit for so many ProBlogger readers.

Robert: Actually, it’s one point that I meant to mention before when you talked about being able to focus and concentrate on your priorities. The whole of last year, my password on my computer was the best work ever. I had to type that in laboriously, my computer is set to go to sleep every 10 minutes or something. For probably 10 times a day for everyday last year and a bit of the year before, I have decided to type in the best work ever. That is a wonderful way also to keep a theme going and keep you focused.

The purpose of that for last year was I was writing this course which we now have at soloism.com. The reason we’ve done it on this different domain is that Flying Solo is very much an Australian Business community. With Soloism, we’re taking what we’ve learned from nearly 20 years into the world and Soloism is basically a course of steps. I think we’ve got 82 videos that will go through every aspect of building, designing, growing, enjoying a solo business.

We’ve really pulled it apart, I’ve written it all, I’ve recorded all the videos. I do believe it’s the kind of thing I wish I had when I started. It’s all we know, we’ve observed a lot of solo businesses doing a lot of things and it’s everything we know in one spot and the idea is that if you got a query about how to charge more or how to work more productively or how to market with a little bit more powerhouse, use words more strongly, everything’s there. It’s lifetime access. That’s why we call it work your way which is very much the sentiment of a solo business. It’s totally made for people like you and me and you and your listeners. I really hope they will have a look at it and might like it.

Darren: I love it. Your tagline Complete Guide to Going Alone in Business, I always say the complete guide and think there’s nothing that’s complete. As I looked over the outline, you’ve got 26 sections and 106 modules covering pretty much anything I could think of that I’d want to know on this particular topic. You’ve very generously given 20% off for ProBlogger readers and we’ve got a link in our show notes at problogger.com/podcast/181 and we’ll have the link that automatically you’ll see that 20% off for the next two months from when this show goes live. Thank you very from my audience to you for doing that.

Robert: It’s a total pleasure. I really hope that I’ll get to meet anybody who’s got any questions for me about anything whatsoever. Just send me an email at robert@flyingsolo.com and I’m happy to talk to anybody about any issues of their solo business.

Darren: Excellent. Thanks so much for being so generous with your time. Is there anywhere else that our audience can connect with you further?

Robert: I think that’s about it. I would just say don’t spend any more time thinking about me, just go for a walk.

Darren: Yeah. Perfect, and another podcast or two while you do it.

Robert: Yes, that’s absolutely right.

Darren: That’s great. Thanks so much, I have enjoyed speaking with you today and thank you from the ProBlogger audience to you.

Robert: Thank you so much.

Darren: I hope you found that interview to be useful and hopefully a bit inspiring as well. Being a solo entrepreneur is something that I have loved for years. I really have loved it. It’s brought a lot of freedom to my life which I’m incredibly grateful for but it does come with some real challenges and some real cost at times as well and we have to work through those challenges that we talked about today.

I hope you found this interview to have come at a good time for your own journey. I’ve been amazed actually over the last few weeks, the amount of people who said, are you reading my mind? These episodes just keep coming at the right time. I hope today’s was one of those.

You can find the full transcript of today’s show notes as well as a little bit of further listening and reading over at problogger.com/podcast/181.

If you are listening for something else to listen to, a couple of suggestions for you, and the last couple of episodes have had some really good feedback. In 179 we talked about how to reduce your bounce rate, got some tactics to do that. I’ve really been pleased to see some of you reporting how you have implemented some of those tactics.

` In episode 180, we talked about using Facebook Live and again, in the Facebook group we have seen a number of you sharing some of those Facebook Lives that you’ve done. Well done for those of you who have.

And I’ve also, as you were listening today, if you were challenged by what Robert was talking about in terms of looking after yourself, because if you want your business to thrive, you need to look after you or else your business is not going to be sustainable.

You might want to check out Episode 38 in which I share about how I came to the same lesson myself. I realized that I had not been looking after me and as a result my business was suffering and so I talk in that episode about how I got my health back on track and actually give you the things that I did to get my diet and exercise back together, some of my mental health and some other areas in my life back on track, as well. That was my most commented upon episode ever. That’s episode 38, if you want to go back and listen to that you’ll find it in iTunes or over at problogger.com/podcast/38.

Okay, it was a long one today. Thanks for listening to the end. I do appreciate it and I really look forward to connecting with you.

Next weekend, episode 182. Have a great week!

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The post 181: How to Overcome the Challenges of Being a Solo Entrepreneur appeared first on ProBlogger Podcast.


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Community Discussion: Making Money

ProBlogger Community Discussion: Making Money

One of the most popular topics on ProBlogger (if not the most searched-for item) is making money blogging, and how to go about it.

There are so many ways of earning a living online, and we have almost just as much advice on how best to keep the dollars rolling in. Darren covers it quite extensively on his podcast, and it’s a topic we dive down deep in during every ProBlogger conference or event. If you’ve got a question, we would undoubtedly have the answer!

But because it’s so different, there’s no one real formula to success (and if there is, I’d probably say it’s “diversify“). Thats why I’d love to chat with you about what has worked for you and what hasn’t? What are the pros and cons of each choice for you? What would you love to try? What do you wish would be successful, but just isn’t?

For example, affiliate sales for me used to be difficult as it wasn’t as prevalent in Australia. Most of my income comes from freelance blogging, writing, and editing, and while affiliate income has grown, it isn’t what it could be if my audience was US-based. I also quite regularly had sponsored content on the blog over the years, but sidebar advertising wasn’t terribly successful. My next move is products (if only I can make the time!).

Where do you stand on making money? How much would you like to make? What kinds of income streams are you using or will you be experimenting with this year? Let’s chat!

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Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately?

ProBlogger reading roundup | Blogging News

This week is all about writing (and writing lots), getting your SEO right, and decluttering your online life. Enjoy!

5 Writing Techniques that Stir Your Audience to Action | Copyblogger

Emotion, Emotion, Emotion is the new Location, Location, Location. If we’re not getting our audience to feel, how are they going to be motivated to engage?

The Four Essential Qualities You Need for Freelance Writing Success (and How to Develop Them) | Aliventures

Whether you have a side hustle freelancing or it’s your main source of income, success often only comes after a lot of hard work. Ali gives us the lowdown on the absolute foundations of making it as a freelancer: and it all starts with self-confidence.

This SEO Checklist = 48.7% More Organic Traffic [Case Study] | Backlinko

Wouldn’t you like to increase your traffic by almost half? Well get ready to make tons of notes and a firm to-do list… I shudder to think how many of my images are missing alt text, but I’m chipping away at them over time. These are easy strategies that just take a bit of focus from you.

How to Be a Prolific Writer | Mark It Write

This content ain’t gonna write itself! This post has some excellent advice from one of my favourite authors and some handy tips to get your fingers working faster on the keyboard.

5 tips for writing a great blog post for your event | Eventbrite

Do you hold events? Do you write event wrap-ups? Perhaps you go to a blogger conference or meetup, or some kind of workshop or gathering? These tips will be helpful.

8 Awesome Ways to Declutter Your Digital Marketing Life | Search Engine Journal

Much is being made of spring cleaning in the Northern Hemisphere, and that goes for your online life too. What needs cleaning, updating, removing, or general tidying up?

5 Ways to Analyze Your Social Media Marketing Performance | Social Media Examiner

When it comes to social media success, it’s crucial to know what’s working and what’s not. Where do you start? Well, you can try this post!

Top WordPress Plugins Every Site Should Have | Yoast

Which ones are you missing?

3 Effective Ways to Reduce Social Media Overwhelm | Socially Sorted

Reduce the clutter, hone your focus – Donna leads the way!

How Snapchat Could Bring Back TV’s Golden Age | Fast Company

Channel surfing from your couch? Remember those days? Apparently Snapchat has brought them back, only updated for the digital needs of today.

What caught your eye this week?

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

      


ProBlogger

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Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately?

ProBlogger reading roundup | Blogging News

This week is all about writing (and writing lots), getting your SEO right, and decluttering your online life. Enjoy!

5 Writing Techniques that Stir Your Audience to Action | Copyblogger

Emotion, Emotion, Emotion is the new Location, Location, Location. If we’re not getting our audience to feel, how are they going to be motivated to engage?

The Four Essential Qualities You Need for Freelance Writing Success (and How to Develop Them) | Aliventures

Whether you have a side hustle freelancing or it’s your main source of income, success often only comes after a lot of hard work. Ali gives us the lowdown on the absolute foundations of making it as a freelancer: and it all starts with self-confidence.

This SEO Checklist = 48.7% More Organic Traffic [Case Study] | Backlinko

Wouldn’t you like to increase your traffic by almost half? Well get ready to make tons of notes and a firm to-do list… I shudder to think how many of my images are missing alt text, but I’m chipping away at them over time. These are easy strategies that just take a bit of focus from you.

How to Be a Prolific Writer | Mark It Write

This content ain’t gonna write itself! This post has some excellent advice from one of my favourite authors and some handy tips to get your fingers working faster on the keyboard.

5 tips for writing a great blog post for your event | Eventbrite

Do you hold events? Do you write event wrap-ups? Perhaps you go to a blogger conference or meetup, or some kind of workshop or gathering? These tips will be helpful.

8 Awesome Ways to Declutter Your Digital Marketing Life | Search Engine Journal

Much is being made of spring cleaning in the Northern Hemisphere, and that goes for your online life too. What needs cleaning, updating, removing, or general tidying up?

5 Ways to Analyze Your Social Media Marketing Performance | Social Media Examiner

When it comes to social media success, it’s crucial to know what’s working and what’s not. Where do you start? Well, you can try this post!

Top WordPress Plugins Every Site Should Have | Yoast

Which ones are you missing?

3 Effective Ways to Reduce Social Media Overwhelm | Socially Sorted

Reduce the clutter, hone your focus – Donna leads the way!

How Snapchat Could Bring Back TV’s Golden Age | Fast Company

Channel surfing from your couch? Remember those days? Apparently Snapchat has brought them back, only updated for the digital needs of today.

What caught your eye this week?

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

      


ProBlogger

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