5 Healthy Work Practices for a ProBlogger

5 Healthy Work Practices for a ProBloggerThis is a guest contribution from Chelsea Lee Smith of MomentsADay.com.

As a part-time blogger and homeschooling mother of three, I often get asked: “How do you do it all?!”

In the past, I usually ran through a few different answers: I have had a regular cleaner at times; I usually do my shopping online to save time; I rarely watch TV; I have occasional childcare.

But these answers are only a small part of the bigger picture.  Yes, making certain lifestyle choices has contributed to my ability to get things done.  However that in itself would not provide me with the professional environment required to continue my work as a blogger.

The underlying reason I have been able to keep up my blog alongside a very busy personal life is that I aim to maintain healthy work practices.  This keeps my blogging at a level where it doesn’t overtake my life and ensures I keep enjoying it.

5 Healthy Work Practices for a ProBlogger

I did not map all this out until recently when I nearly hit rock bottom as a professional blogger.  It wasn’t because my statistics had dropped or anything else catastrophic had happened (knock on wood).  I was simply emotionally exhausted and drained.

I basically got to a point that I felt so overwhelmed with blogging that I was seriously considering giving it up.  We had moved to a new town and setting up house was taking much more time and energy than I had envisioned.  Article deadlines were constantly creeping up on me, leading to late nights and a lot of anxiety.  Nothing was being checked off on my project to-do list.  My inbox was going bonkers.

After e-chatting with a few blogging buddies, I recognised the need to sit back and really take stock.  I had been through many busy periods during my blogging career.  Study, pregnancy, new baby, a year of travel around Australia.  What was the issue now?  Why was it so challenging?

I asked myself:

  • Was I enjoying my work?
  • Was I maintaining my boundaries?

The answer to both questions was no.  I was not enjoying my work because I felt constantly behind, leading to a little voice in the back of my head saying that it would never be enough no matter what I did.  I was sticking to my post schedule instead of writing what I was passionate about.  I was checking my email on my phone throughout the day, trying to get one or two jobs done here and there, and not staying present with my family or myself.

Were these patterns contributing to a better blog?  Not really.

Did I want to continue blogging?  No way.  At least not like this…

So I outlined the practices I had followed in the past that would help me enjoy my work and maintain my boundaries again.  What a difference it has made to reintroduce these habits in my life.  I now feel that I have a better blog and am able to be a better me.

5 Healthy Work Practices for a ProBlogger

I am sharing my list of healthy Pro-Blogger practices with you in case these points help you create better choices around your work as a blogger.

1. Take yourself seriously

Emails sent in the checkout line are rarely typo-free or complete.  Don’t skip meals or stay up all night tweaking something that can wait until tomorrow.  Do work when it’s working time, in your own designated working space.

Treat yourself like an important employee – give yourself a desk, all the tools you need, and time to regroup when you need it.  If you take care of yourself and maintain your head space, your work will be better and you will be in a better place personally to handle pressure when it comes your way.

2. Guard your work hours

As a work-at-home blogger, it can be tricky to overcome distractions.  I have found that when my work interferes with family time, even 10 minutes here and there, I head down a slippery slope towards resentment by myself as well as my family.

Therefore when I am able to schedule time to work on my blog, I fully dedicate that time to working on my blog.  No cleaning, no cooking, no laundry, but work, as if I were in an office away from my house.  If I find I am getting distracted by Facebook or start procrastinating by doing the household chores, it is time to take a break.  I like to be productive in bursts instead of feeling like I’m spending hours getting “nothing” done.

3. Surround yourself with inspiring colleagues

Who doesn’t like to chat at tea break about what’s going on in the office?  It’s necessary to have colleagues not only for professional development but for a sense of teamwork and mutual support.

My blogging buddies are absolutely irreplaceable because – it’s just a fact – no one gets blogging like a blogger.  I was lucky towards the beginning of my blogging career to be hooked up with some pretty fantastic bloggers who are not only a great sources of information but some of my most reliable cheerleaders.  We share our struggles and our milestones, ask each other questions, let each other know about embarrassing typos and all the other good stuff that happens in blogger Facebook communities.

If you don’t have a blogging group that fits you, find one or create your own.  It can be a game changer to be supported by like-minded bloggers, especially those in your own niche.

4. Choose quality over quantity

No one can do it all.

All the bloggers I have ever met have expressed that there are so many things they would like to do – ebooks, ecourses, better SEO, more printables – but simply don’t have the time.  Being a blogger in itself takes serious commitment, a good amount of planning, a whole lot of time, and often a few tears.

I often have two dozen projects on my list and have to narrow it down to one or two that I want to actually complete.  I do allow myself a bit of time to dream and explore different options, but choosing a couple things to actually finish helps me meet a deadline.  I also constantly remind myself that I don’t have to be everywhere on social media as long as I’m consistently in one or two places where my readers know they can find me.

5. Be true to yourself

There is a delicate balance between writing what you want to say and writing what readers want to read.  No matter what topic you are writing about, you have a voice and a skill set that is uniquely yours.  Your blog is your platform to share a message with the world.  What will your legacy be?  Be true to yourself and write from the heart.  Not only is it more satisfying, but following your passions will keep you motivated to continue progressing in your blogging career.

Remembering these healthy work practices has helped me get my blogging groove back on, and I hope they might help you consider what will lift your blogging work higher as well.

Have you considered healthy blogging practices before?  What are your must-dos?

Chelsea Lee Smith is an author and parent educator who shares personal growth activities and resources for the whole family at MomentsADay.com.

The post 5 Healthy Work Practices for a ProBlogger appeared first on ProBlogger.

      


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5 Healthy Work Practices for a ProBlogger

5 Healthy Work Practices for a ProBloggerThis is a guest contribution from Chelsea Lee Smith of MomentsADay.com.

As a part-time blogger and homeschooling mother of three, I often get asked: “How do you do it all?!”

In the past, I usually ran through a few different answers: I have had a regular cleaner at times; I usually do my shopping online to save time; I rarely watch TV; I have occasional childcare.

But these answers are only a small part of the bigger picture.  Yes, making certain lifestyle choices has contributed to my ability to get things done.  However that in itself would not provide me with the professional environment required to continue my work as a blogger.

The underlying reason I have been able to keep up my blog alongside a very busy personal life is that I aim to maintain healthy work practices.  This keeps my blogging at a level where it doesn’t overtake my life and ensures I keep enjoying it.

5 Healthy Work Practices for a ProBlogger

I did not map all this out until recently when I nearly hit rock bottom as a professional blogger.  It wasn’t because my statistics had dropped or anything else catastrophic had happened (knock on wood).  I was simply emotionally exhausted and drained.

I basically got to a point that I felt so overwhelmed with blogging that I was seriously considering giving it up.  We had moved to a new town and setting up house was taking much more time and energy than I had envisioned.  Article deadlines were constantly creeping up on me, leading to late nights and a lot of anxiety.  Nothing was being checked off on my project to-do list.  My inbox was going bonkers.

After e-chatting with a few blogging buddies, I recognised the need to sit back and really take stock.  I had been through many busy periods during my blogging career.  Study, pregnancy, new baby, a year of travel around Australia.  What was the issue now?  Why was it so challenging?

I asked myself:

  • Was I enjoying my work?
  • Was I maintaining my boundaries?

The answer to both questions was no.  I was not enjoying my work because I felt constantly behind, leading to a little voice in the back of my head saying that it would never be enough no matter what I did.  I was sticking to my post schedule instead of writing what I was passionate about.  I was checking my email on my phone throughout the day, trying to get one or two jobs done here and there, and not staying present with my family or myself.

Were these patterns contributing to a better blog?  Not really.

Did I want to continue blogging?  No way.  At least not like this…

So I outlined the practices I had followed in the past that would help me enjoy my work and maintain my boundaries again.  What a difference it has made to reintroduce these habits in my life.  I now feel that I have a better blog and am able to be a better me.

5 Healthy Work Practices for a ProBlogger

I am sharing my list of healthy Pro-Blogger practices with you in case these points help you create better choices around your work as a blogger.

1. Take yourself seriously

Emails sent in the checkout line are rarely typo-free or complete.  Don’t skip meals or stay up all night tweaking something that can wait until tomorrow.  Do work when it’s working time, in your own designated working space.

Treat yourself like an important employee – give yourself a desk, all the tools you need, and time to regroup when you need it.  If you take care of yourself and maintain your head space, your work will be better and you will be in a better place personally to handle pressure when it comes your way.

2. Guard your work hours

As a work-at-home blogger, it can be tricky to overcome distractions.  I have found that when my work interferes with family time, even 10 minutes here and there, I head down a slippery slope towards resentment by myself as well as my family.

Therefore when I am able to schedule time to work on my blog, I fully dedicate that time to working on my blog.  No cleaning, no cooking, no laundry, but work, as if I were in an office away from my house.  If I find I am getting distracted by Facebook or start procrastinating by doing the household chores, it is time to take a break.  I like to be productive in bursts instead of feeling like I’m spending hours getting “nothing” done.

3. Surround yourself with inspiring colleagues

Who doesn’t like to chat at tea break about what’s going on in the office?  It’s necessary to have colleagues not only for professional development but for a sense of teamwork and mutual support.

My blogging buddies are absolutely irreplaceable because – it’s just a fact – no one gets blogging like a blogger.  I was lucky towards the beginning of my blogging career to be hooked up with some pretty fantastic bloggers who are not only a great sources of information but some of my most reliable cheerleaders.  We share our struggles and our milestones, ask each other questions, let each other know about embarrassing typos and all the other good stuff that happens in blogger Facebook communities.

If you don’t have a blogging group that fits you, find one or create your own.  It can be a game changer to be supported by like-minded bloggers, especially those in your own niche.

4. Choose quality over quantity

No one can do it all.

All the bloggers I have ever met have expressed that there are so many things they would like to do – ebooks, ecourses, better SEO, more printables – but simply don’t have the time.  Being a blogger in itself takes serious commitment, a good amount of planning, a whole lot of time, and often a few tears.

I often have two dozen projects on my list and have to narrow it down to one or two that I want to actually complete.  I do allow myself a bit of time to dream and explore different options, but choosing a couple things to actually finish helps me meet a deadline.  I also constantly remind myself that I don’t have to be everywhere on social media as long as I’m consistently in one or two places where my readers know they can find me.

5. Be true to yourself

There is a delicate balance between writing what you want to say and writing what readers want to read.  No matter what topic you are writing about, you have a voice and a skill set that is uniquely yours.  Your blog is your platform to share a message with the world.  What will your legacy be?  Be true to yourself and write from the heart.  Not only is it more satisfying, but following your passions will keep you motivated to continue progressing in your blogging career.

Remembering these healthy work practices has helped me get my blogging groove back on, and I hope they might help you consider what will lift your blogging work higher as well.

Have you considered healthy blogging practices before?  What are your must-dos?

Chelsea Lee Smith is an author and parent educator who shares personal growth activities and resources for the whole family at MomentsADay.com.

The post 5 Healthy Work Practices for a ProBlogger appeared first on ProBlogger.

      


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How To Get Started With Free Travel When Your Blog is Brand New

How To Get Started With Free Travel When Your Blog is Brand New

This is a guest contribution from Dan Bagby of Honeymoon Always.

Many travel bloggers start blogging with dreams of getting free travel around the world. Last year, I set out with the goal to see what it would take to make that a reality – and I was surprised at how little time it took to get upgrades and “freebies” in exchange for coverage on my blog.

After only three blog posts and 100 Instagram followers, we received our first perk: an upgrade to the best suite in a 4-star hotel. It was an amazing experience and we felt like little kids at Disney World. Our next trip included a complimentary weekend at a 4-star resort with couples massages and 5-course meals. Even with a full time job, I was able to enjoy theme park tickets, ski passes and invitations to resorts in Mexico in Jamaica before I had 10 blog posts published, and having less than 500 followers on social media.

So here is my secret I hope I don’t regret sharing. What matters isn’t the size of your blog’s audience, but what value you bring to the PR or marketing professional you would like to work with.

It really comes down to the way you ask and the value you can provide.

Making the Right Ask

You have to actually ask

Do not fear rejection; just ask! If you don’t ask in the first place, the answer is always no. I would say for every 10 emails I sent, we end up getting some sort of free travel from at least one contact.

Ask at the right time

It is all about timing. Businesses needing coverage when you contact them will value your offer more than those that are well established and overbooked. For example, if you were to reach out to the Hard Rock Café Resort in Orlando and it is always booked they may not even respond, but a brand new hotel in the area is looking for ways to market their recent opening.

One hotel we reached out to recently reopened after a multimillion-dollar renovation and another had just reopened their spa. Both welcomed our visit and made for a great experience.

Another aspect of timing is seasonality. If you ask for anything during a busy time of year or busiest day of the week, you are less likely to get the answer you are looking for.

Ask for the right things

At first, ask for things that will not cost the business much money or displace paying guests. At first we found success booking a hotel room and asking for an upgrade. We were upgraded to a suite costing over 400 euros a night more than we paid. We also found success with attractions like theme parks where providing passes to two extra people does not impact their profit.

Find Ways to Provide Value

Use other bloggers’ audiences

Did you know there are plenty of writers who don’t have their own blog and get free travel all the time? While I still believe in having a blog of your own, until it is well established you can “borrow” someone else’s audience to show value. By writing guest posts on these blogs, you’re providing great content and they’re providing you authority. It’s a way to build links to build your own brand and get in front of another audience that travel destinations find valuable.

After you have written a few guest posts, see if you can become a regular contributor. At this point, when you ask for hosted travel let them know the bigger sites you contribute to and what you can provide for them on those sites. The focus is not longer on the size of your site, but on the other audience they will reach.

Once you have a well established relationship with the site owners or editor, don’t be afraid to tell them what you are working towards and they can actually assign you an article you can share with the destination or attraction you are contacting.

Used paid promotion to pick up the slack

Instead of mentioning the size of your social following while emailing destinations, focus on reach you can guarantee using paid social media. For example, I know that $ 10 will get a reach of around 20,000 targeted users. Instead of saying I have 500 Instagram followers, commit to boosting two Instagram posts to people living in nearby cities that show interest in resorts and holidays.

Provide Additional Services

What else can you do to provide value? Are you a professional photographer, videographer or have a drone you can create content with and provide it to the resort after? Providing other services will make it easier for the PR and marketing professionals see the value in your proposal.

A few more tips for success

Be in a clear niche

Being a generic travel blogger is fun but in the early days, it won’t help you stand out. Instead focus on a specific niche. With a simple mention of your blog and niche, whoever you contact should quickly know what kind of angle you will be covering and how they fit within the brand you are creating.

Be specific with coverage

Last, tell them exactly what to expect from you. For example, if emailing an hotel in Los Angeles you could say they can expect one detailed review post on your blog, and a mention in a “2 Days in Los Angeles Itinerary” post that will be posted on another site. Additionally they will be featured in three Instagram posts that will be boosted to 3000 targeted users in San Diego and San Francisco with premium travel credit cards. This lets them know exactly what will be expected if they host you.

Its been a fun ride these last few months traveling and learning the travel blogging industry. I look forward to the day that my blog stands on its own to get hosted trips, but until then its nice to know with a little extra work, I can already get the travel experience benefits of a larger blog.

How about you? Have you been successful working with brands or destinations early on? What do you recommend?

Dan Bagby is a digital marketing and SEO specialist who is venturing into travel writing on his blog, Honeymoon Always, in hopes of making it easier to plan honeymoons and never leave the honeymoon stage.

The post How To Get Started With Free Travel When Your Blog is Brand New appeared first on ProBlogger.

      


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How To Get Started With Free Travel When Your Blog is Brand New

How To Get Started With Free Travel When Your Blog is Brand New

This is a guest contribution from Dan Bagby of Honeymoon Always.

Many travel bloggers start blogging with dreams of getting free travel around the world. Last year, I set out with the goal to see what it would take to make that a reality – and I was surprised at how little time it took to get upgrades and “freebies” in exchange for coverage on my blog.

After only three blog posts and 100 Instagram followers, we received our first perk: an upgrade to the best suite in a 4-star hotel. It was an amazing experience and we felt like little kids at Disney World. Our next trip included a complimentary weekend at a 4-star resort with couples massages and 5-course meals. Even with a full time job, I was able to enjoy theme park tickets, ski passes and invitations to resorts in Mexico in Jamaica before I had 10 blog posts published, and having less than 500 followers on social media.

So here is my secret I hope I don’t regret sharing. What matters isn’t the size of your blog’s audience, but what value you bring to the PR or marketing professional you would like to work with.

It really comes down to the way you ask and the value you can provide.

Making the Right Ask

You have to actually ask

Do not fear rejection; just ask! If you don’t ask in the first place, the answer is always no. I would say for every 10 emails I sent, we end up getting some sort of free travel from at least one contact.

Ask at the right time

It is all about timing. Businesses needing coverage when you contact them will value your offer more than those that are well established and overbooked. For example, if you were to reach out to the Hard Rock Café Resort in Orlando and it is always booked they may not even respond, but a brand new hotel in the area is looking for ways to market their recent opening.

One hotel we reached out to recently reopened after a multimillion-dollar renovation and another had just reopened their spa. Both welcomed our visit and made for a great experience.

Another aspect of timing is seasonality. If you ask for anything during a busy time of year or busiest day of the week, you are less likely to get the answer you are looking for.

Ask for the right things

At first, ask for things that will not cost the business much money or displace paying guests. At first we found success booking a hotel room and asking for an upgrade. We were upgraded to a suite costing over 400 euros a night more than we paid. We also found success with attractions like theme parks where providing passes to two extra people does not impact their profit.

Find Ways to Provide Value

Use other bloggers’ audiences

Did you know there are plenty of writers who don’t have their own blog and get free travel all the time? While I still believe in having a blog of your own, until it is well established you can “borrow” someone else’s audience to show value. By writing guest posts on these blogs, you’re providing great content and they’re providing you authority. It’s a way to build links to build your own brand and get in front of another audience that travel destinations find valuable.

After you have written a few guest posts, see if you can become a regular contributor. At this point, when you ask for hosted travel let them know the bigger sites you contribute to and what you can provide for them on those sites. The focus is not longer on the size of your site, but on the other audience they will reach.

Once you have a well established relationship with the site owners or editor, don’t be afraid to tell them what you are working towards and they can actually assign you an article you can share with the destination or attraction you are contacting.

Used paid promotion to pick up the slack

Instead of mentioning the size of your social following while emailing destinations, focus on reach you can guarantee using paid social media. For example, I know that $ 10 will get a reach of around 20,000 targeted users. Instead of saying I have 500 Instagram followers, commit to boosting two Instagram posts to people living in nearby cities that show interest in resorts and holidays.

Provide Additional Services

What else can you do to provide value? Are you a professional photographer, videographer or have a drone you can create content with and provide it to the resort after? Providing other services will make it easier for the PR and marketing professionals see the value in your proposal.

A few more tips for success

Be in a clear niche

Being a generic travel blogger is fun but in the early days, it won’t help you stand out. Instead focus on a specific niche. With a simple mention of your blog and niche, whoever you contact should quickly know what kind of angle you will be covering and how they fit within the brand you are creating.

Be specific with coverage

Last, tell them exactly what to expect from you. For example, if emailing an hotel in Los Angeles you could say they can expect one detailed review post on your blog, and a mention in a “2 Days in Los Angeles Itinerary” post that will be posted on another site. Additionally they will be featured in three Instagram posts that will be boosted to 3000 targeted users in San Diego and San Francisco with premium travel credit cards. This lets them know exactly what will be expected if they host you.

Its been a fun ride these last few months traveling and learning the travel blogging industry. I look forward to the day that my blog stands on its own to get hosted trips, but until then its nice to know with a little extra work, I can already get the travel experience benefits of a larger blog.

How about you? Have you been successful working with brands or destinations early on? What do you recommend?

Dan Bagby is a digital marketing and SEO specialist who is venturing into travel writing on his blog, Honeymoon Always, in hopes of making it easier to plan honeymoons and never leave the honeymoon stage.

The post How To Get Started With Free Travel When Your Blog is Brand New appeared first on ProBlogger.

      


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How to Grow Your Fitness Blog to 100,000 Monthly Visitors in Less than a Year

By Alex Chris of reliablesoft.net

How do you build a successful fitness blog? What does it take to start a blog and grow the traffic to 100K monthly visitors in less than a year?

If you have a fitness blog or planning to start one or even if you are just curious on how you can grow your blog’s traffic fast, then this post is for you.

What you will learn in this post is the steps I followed to increase the traffic of my fitness blog to 100,000 organic visits in only one year. I will explain the process I followed and share my experiences so that you can replicate my steps and do the same.

To give you an additional incentive to read this post until the end, let me mention that the organic traffic of the blog at the end of January is close to 600K monthly visits.

How to grow your fitness blog to 100,000 monthly visitors in less than a year

A screenshot from semrush, showing the growth of traffic since 2012.

Have in mind that although what you will read below is the story of a fitness blog, the concepts and techniques can be applied to all kinds of blogs and websites.

So, let’s get started.

I’m sure that you want to see some numbers and statistics but let’s just hold on for a moment.

Let’s rewind and take it from the beginning and talk a bit about the fitness industry.

The fitness industry is often referred to as the ‘million-dollar industry’. On one hand, we have the millions of people searching for ways to get fit, lose weight and unleash the secrets of healthy living.

On the other hand, it’s the companies that make millions per year by selling meal plans, diets, supplements and sometimes just hope to help those people achieve their goals.

In the middle, we have giant websites (newspapers, online magazines, etc.) that provide free information on all topics related to fitness and healthy living.

Someone may wonder, how can a new fitness blog compete with these and gain its share of traffic and money?

Well, it’s a matter of quality. Have you ever heard the term ‘content it’s king’?

It’s one of the most popular advice given by SEO’s the last 10 years and this is for a reason.

Make your content better than the competition and everything else will follow.

So, the first takeaway message from this post is that there is always hope. The Internet is not a place for a few but it’s a place for the many and if you prove that you have something valuable to offer to your readers, you can succeed in any niche you choose.

How to go from 0 to 100K Monthly Visits on Your Blog

Ok, now that everything is in place, let’s get to the details.

The blog is caloriesecrets.net, it was established in April 2012 and by the end of April 2013, monthly traffic from Google was 102,944.

Here is an overview of the monthly traffic for the first 12 months.How to grow your fitness blog to 100,000 monthly visitors in less than a year

It helps you see at a glance your traffic details and the relationship between number of published posts and traffic. This can prove very useful when you need the extra motivation to start writing you next post.The above table is a copy from my notes. I like to keep a simple table like this for all my websites and I suggest you do the same.

Step 1: Get to know your niche

Your first step and before starting a blog in any niche, is to find out as much as you can about your niche.

In my case, I was blogging about fitness since 2008 so I knew the industry very well and I believe this is one of the reasons that the blog’s traffic increased so quickly.

Once you come up with a blog idea, open Google, go to Facebook and Twitter and spend time to learn about your industry.

Find out who are the influencers, which websites rank on the first pages of Google, what type of content they provide, how often they publish new content, what is the average length of each post, what do they share on Facebook and twitter.

Tools like semrush and buzzsumo can help you a lot. Semrush is the perfect tool for competitor analysis. It can give you a lot of information about a domain including ranking keywords, traffic and a thorough backlink analysis.

Buzzsumo can help you identify what type of content gets shared on social media, what type of titles are used and who are the influencers in a niche.

STEP 2: Do your keyword research

A successful blog starts with good keyword research. I’m sure you know this already but it’s necessary to mention this again because any time you spend at the beginning doing keyword research will pay off later.

Remember when I mentioned above how competitive the fitness industry is? This is where good keyword research and in particular long tail keywords come into rescue.

When doing keyword research on highly competitive niches, don’t lose your time by targeting the most popular keywords, these are already being targeted by giant websites.

What you should do instead is go after long tail keywords.

This guide explains in detail how to find the long tail keywords in your niche, what I want to add here is the following:

Don’t get obsessed about the search volume of a keyword. Tools may show that long tail keywords have low search volumes but what is more important, especially at the beginning, is to achieve top rankings for some of the keywords (even if their traffic is very low).

This will gradually make your domain stronger and give you the opportunity to achieve higher rankings for more popular keywords.

STEP 3: Create a publishing schedule and stick to it

If you want to get traffic from search engines, you need to have content. It’s as simple as that.

Especially in niches like fitness, you need to have a lot of content. When starting out you should decide how often you can publish new posts, create a plan and stick to it.

When I launched the blog in April 2012, I published 10 posts the same day and then established a publishing schedule of three posts per week, which I keep today.

No matter the season (holidays, time off) or how I busy I am, I will publish three new posts per week. It’s a commitment you have to make if you are serious about your blogging efforts.

How often you should publish a new post depends on a number of things. You should not set optimistic targets you cannot meet but on the other hand you should not forget that the success of your blog, largely depends on your content.

My recommendation is to aim for three posts per week and if you feel you can do more, to go daily. Don’t forget to take a look at what your competitors are doing, this will help you decide on what target to set.

Step 4: Create Quality content

I said in the introduction of this post that content quality is a very important factor for all blogs in all niches.

For health-related niches, this is even more important. When you give advice to people that has to do with their state of health, you should be very careful.

It’s not like blogging about any other subject where you can become an expert through experience.

It’s not enough to be passionate about nutrition or fitness but you need to be an expert (a verified one), so that your readers (and other websites in the industry), will take you seriously.

If you think about it, you have three options:

  • To become an expert – get a diploma or attend courses.
  • To avoid giving any health related advice to people and only share your experiences on how you managed to lose weight or get fit, etc.
  • Hire an expert.

At the beginning, I started with number 2. I’m passionate about fitness and healthy living and I had enough stories to share with the rest of the world.

Soon enough my experience in the fitness industry told me otherwise. To get noticed by other bloggers and websites, I needed something more than just experiences, I needed certified experts that can analyse the science behind nutrition/fitness and this is the point that I decided to go with number three, i.e. to hire experts to do the writing.

It was a huge step, one that added risks and extra costs to a blog that was not making any money yet, but it was a necessary step. I was willing to take the risks because I knew the industry well so I knew what to ask from my writers.

Now, I don’t want to confuse you so let me clarify something. I’m not suggesting that you need to be a certified professional in order to create a blog on any topic you like.

All I’m saying that you need to take into account the particularity of your niche and be in position to create content that is as good or better as to what is already published on the web.

To summarize, my advice when it comes to creating content for your blog is this:

  • Take a closer look at your competitors and create content that is better (both in terms of quality and length).
  • Use case studies and research data to back-up the views / ideas expressed in your articles.
  • Be unbiased. Tell both sides of a story.
  • Don’t try to oversell a product or service, your main focus should be to provide value to your readers.

Step 5: Get your SEO right

Once you have good content, the next step is to get your SEO right. Good SEO will help your content rise to the surface and receive the attention it deserves from search engines and people.

In general, SEO can be split into three parts:

Technical SEO: These are settings that have to do with indexing and crawling, XML sitemaps, URL formatting and other ways to ensure that search engines can read and index your website properly.

On-Page SEO: Techniques you can use to make your pages’ search engine friendly. Things like your page titles and descriptions, text formatting, image seo, mobile friendliness, speed and other settings that can help search engines understand the context (meaning) of your posts and pages.

Off-page SEO: This is often referred to as ‘link building’ and it has to do with getting references (links) from other related websites on the Internet. By doing so, you can gradually increase your domain authority and get better rankings in Google.

It’s not as hard as it sounds. There are many ways to learn SEO and get this right. You just have to allocate some time from the beginning to learn the basics and as you become more experienced, everything will make more sense.

What I did from the very beginning was to fix the technical SEO issues and for every published article, I did some basic on-page SEO optimizations, especially with the titles and images.

Now, everybody with an experience in blogging knows that link building is crucial for rankings. I also knew this in 2012 but for those that remember, this was the year that Google released the Penguin and Panda algorithms that gave a special attention to bad linking practices.

So, I decided not to do any form of link building but rely solely on the quality of the content (as well as the methods you will read below), for getting natural backlinks to the site.

My advice for beginners is to follow the same path i.e. until your blog is at least six months old and has a decent number of posts with quality content, not to engage in any form of link building.

After that period, be selective as to the techniques you will use and don’t push it too fast. Build your link profile slowly and avoid any kind of shortcuts.

Step 6: Promote Your Work (besides Social Media)

We all know that social media is one of the fastest ways to promote your blog, especially if you are willing to spend a few hundred dollars on Facebook ads, but it’s not the only way to reach new audiences.

While I did start a Facebook campaign to increase my fans, which was more efficient at that time than it is now, I also looked for other ways to promote my blog. In particular:

  • I added the blog to the Chrome Web Store. This was a hidden source of traffic since thousands of people added my chrome app to their desktops and they also got new notifications every time a new post was published. I did not expect this to work so good but as they say, you will never know something unless you try it. Unfortunately, after the latest changes to the chrome web store (June 2016), this is no longer the case.
  • I created apps for Android Devices and Microsoft and uploaded them to the Google Play, Amazon Play Store and Windows Store. The competition was less (compared to today), and these apps generated a decent amount of direct traffic.
  • I also verified the website with Health On the Net– an independent organization that checks health related websites for compliance with a number of things. This did not generate extra traffic but it helped in building trustworthiness which is equally important.

Step 7: Don’t forget about your users

While so far we have talked about the importance of content and SEO, you should not forget about the user experience.

The first thing that comes in mind is of course the design of the website that has to be easy to use and user friendly, but there also other incentives you can provide to users so that they can come back and re-visit.

What I did is to create a set of Free tools (free diet plan, calorie counter, calorie calculator) to help users achieve their weight loss goals.

This helped a lot in getting repeating visits and creating a community around the website. In addition, it was a great way in building a large email list for my newsletter.

The take away from this section is to think of ways to make users engage with your content and give them incentives so as to re-visit.

What about money?

I deliberately did not mention anything about money and how I was able to pay for all the content and tools, but I know that this is a part that you want to read so here are the details.

At the beginning and for a few years the website was operating at a loss. This was not a surprise for me, I knew it from the beginning and I took the risk.

I knew that in order to make real money, you needed a lot of traffic but I also knew that in order to get good traffic you needed good content and tools.

The website makes money from Adsense. The last four years it generated a nice five-figure amount. Enough to cover for the initial expenses and also to provide a decent monthly revenue.

At some point, I did try to test other ways to make money by creating my own products (related to dieting) and through affiliate marketing but at the end I found that Adsense performs better.

With Adsense you don’t have to worry about creating products, managing sales and customer support but you settle for less profit.

I know that other companies are probably making more money from my content than I do but at this stage and with the lack of time, I decided that Adsense is the best way to go.

Conclusion

To sum up this post, let me give you some pointers you can use when working on your own blog or website.

First: There is no secret recipe for creating a successful blog. Everything is laid out in front you and it’s the same for all blogs in all niches:

  • Create engaging content
  • Good on-page SEO
  • Careful off-page SEO
  • Consistency (stick to your publishing content)
  • Build a community around your blog
  • Be patient and work hard

Second: Get to know your niche really well. This is part of your job as a blogger, it’s not an optional task. You need to know what your competitors are doing and what is working for them. Spying on your competitors is not a black hat technique, it’s a way to make your content and user experience better.

Third: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If you are starting out now, you may not get it right from the first time. That’s normal to happen. Learn from your mistakes and try again.

It took me years to get organic traffic to my first blog, caloriesecrets was my fourth attempt in the fitness niche.

Take ProBlogger as another example. It is a highly successful blog with millions of monthly visitors in one of the most saturated niches on the Internet, but this did not happen overnight. Darren has been working on this blog since 2004 and before that he already had two years’ experience with other blogs.

Don’t forget, good results come to those who take blogging seriously and work hard.

Share you own story or questions in the comments, I would be more than happy to answer them.

Alex is the Digital Marketing Manager at Reliablesoft. He blogs regularly about SEO and Digital marketing and his work has been referenced by leading industry websites. You can find him in Twitter (@reliablesoftnet)

The post How to Grow Your Fitness Blog to 100,000 Monthly Visitors in Less than a Year appeared first on ProBlogger.

      


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185: How to Get a Blogging Job

How to Apply for a Blogging Job

In today’s lesson, I want to talk about finding a job as a blogger – particularly how to apply for a blogging job.

Back in 2006 I noticed I started getting a lot of two types of emails:

  1. People wanting to hire bloggers would email me asking if I knew anyone suitable for a blogging job that they had.
  2. Bloggers would email asking if I knew anyone looking to hire a blogger.

After months of getting these kinds of emails and manually playing matchmaker I decided it would be easier if I just created a place for people to meet one another.

I started the ProBlogger job board where those looking to hire bloggers could advertise their blogging job opportunities and bloggers could apply for the jobs.

While it started slow with just a new job every few days – since 2006 we’ve had well over 10,000 jobs listed!

These days there’s usually 1-5 new jobs listed on the boards – with some days as many as 10 new ones going up.

Late last year we redesigned the job board and added some new categories. Now you can not only advertise to find a writer but there’s the ability to find people to work as editors/proofreaders, ghostwriters, promoters/marketers, copywriters and more.

I use the job board to advertise for writers on my own photography blog several times a year and we always find great candidates but every time we do it highlights to me that some people could do with some help in putting their application together.

So in today’s episode I want to give you some tips for applying for a blogging job.

If you’re looking for work at the moment – this is the episode for you.

Further Resources on How to Get a Blogging Job



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Hi there and welcome to episode 185 of the ProBlogger podcast.

My name is Darren Rowse and I am the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast, event, job board and a series of ebooks all designed to help you as a blogger to start your blog, to grow your audience, to create great content, engage with that audience and hopefully make some money from your blog as well.

You can learn more about ProBlogger and all we do over at problogger.com. Just look at the menu at the top and you’ll find all of the different things I’ve just mentioned.

In today’s lesson, I want to talk about finding a job as a blogger, particularly how to apply for a blogging job. Back in 2006, I noticed I started getting two types of questions quite regularly from readers of ProBlogger. Firstly, there was one group of bloggers who wanted to hire someone to work for them. Either as a writer, an editor or in some other aspect of their business and these people would email me and go, do you know anyone who’s suitable for this type of job?

The second type of email were from people looking for work. People saying I want a part time job, I’m building my blog, I need to pick up some other work. Do you know anyone wanting to hire someone like me? I realized I was good at playing the matchmaker and I used to try and match people up and look through the emails I was getting from people wanting to hire and try and match them up with a people looking to be hired but it was a bit of a clunky process. I decided it would be a lot easier if I just created a place where people could meet one another.

I started the ProBlogger Job Board. This is a place where people looking to hire bloggers could advertise their jobs and people looking for work could apply for those jobs. It started in 2006, I can’t remember exactly when in the year but it started very slowly. I remember going to a few of my friend’s and saying, hey, do you want to advertise for free on it? Just to get some jobs out there and I think it launched with five or six different jobs. Every few days someone else would advertise on it.

Since that time, it’s grown and the demand for people looking to hire writers and bloggers for different aspects of their business has grown. Since 2006, we’ve had well over 10,000 jobs listed on that job board. Over 10 years now, we’ve had about 1,000 jobs per year on average, although it has escalated. These days, typically, there’s at least one new job advertised every day. Sometimes as many as five or six. I think our record was 12 jobs in one day listed. As I just looked at it now, there’s over 100 jobs listed on the job board right now, four whole pages worth of them.

Late last year we redesigned the job board and added some new categories. Now you can not only advertise if you want to find a writer but you can also advertise for editors, proofreaders, ghostwriters, copywriters, even people to help you promote your blog. There’s a number of different categories that you can advertise there for.

If you are looking for work at the moment, as a blogger, you want to supplement your income in some way, there’s a variety of different types of jobs being advertised there. Most of them are writing related but we’re increasingly seeing people looking for editors and other types of content creators as well.

I use the job board to advertise for writers from my own Photography Blogs several times a year. One of the things I noticed is that we get quite a few applications, last time we advertised we had 60 people apply but quite a few of the applications really didn’t themselves any favors. I’ve realized every time I advertise that a lot of bloggers are applying for jobs in ways that really don’t help them to get the jobs.

In today’s episode, I want to give you some tips for applying for a job on the ProBlogger job board or another job board as well. If you are looking for work at the moment, as a blogger or in some related field, this episode is for you.

I’ve got today’s show notes over at problogger.com/podcast/185 where I’ll link to the job board and also give you some further reading as well.

First thing I want to say is that if you are looking for the job board, head over to problogger.com/ jobs. It’s pretty simple to remember, problogger.com/jobs and you’ll find the job board. You’ll see on the front page there are some featured jobs, advertisers who pay a little bit extra to have their job featured for the whole month at the top. If you scroll through the pages, there are three or four different pages with 30 or so jobs per page there. You’ll see there are some fascinating jobs listed there from time to time.

That’s the first thing I’ll say, head over to the job board and have a look at what is being advertised there. I’ve got 11 things for you to keep in mind as you’re putting together your application.

First thing is to act quickly. The jobs on the job boards do go quickly and we regularly see advertisers put a job up and within 24 hours they take the job down because they’ve already filled the job. You’ll see there’s three or four pages where the jobs in there. There’s also been other jobs advertised in the last month that are no longer there.

I do encourage you to act quickly. You don’t want to rush the process, you don’t want to apply with a half organized application, you want to actually put together something of quality but you do need to act reasonably quickly. Even 24 hours is a long time in blogging land. If you see an opportunity, put aside some time to act fairly quickly.

There are a number of things that you can do to make sure you see the jobs quickly as soon as they’re advertised. Firstly, you use RSS feeds and you have an RSS feed reader. We have an RSS feed, you can follow that that into your feed reader and see the jobs as they come up.

Secondly, there’s also a feature in the sidebar on the job board. If you go to the job board now, if you’re looking at a desktop, you’ll see in the sidebar. If you are in a mobile, you might need to scroll down a little bit to see it. There’s an opportunity there for you to setup an email alert. You can add in your email address and you can add in a keyword as well if you want to filter the jobs.

If you only want to find food blogging jobs, if you write about food, you might want to put in the word food there and it will only send you an email if the job is listed that uses the word food in the job. Or if you’re a travel blogger, you might want to just put in the word travel. If you’re interested in lots of categories, you can leave the keyword field empty and we will email you once a day with all the new jobs. I actually subscribe to that just to see the new jobs that come up and the email comes through once a day and you get a digest of the new jobs. That’s one way to be alerted via email when the new jobs go up.

Lastly, you can also follow the ProBlogger Twitter account because every new job gets tweeted out once as well. You want to see all the jobs there unless you’re sitting there and looking everyday on Twitter but that might be another place as well.

The other thing to say is that jobs stay listed for 30 days. We do encourage anyone who advertises on the job board to close the job down when they hire someone but not all advertisers do this. You will see some of the older jobs on the job board may already be filled. You probably get better luck at high hit rate if you do apply for the newer jobs, but sometimes in those archives, sometimes advertisers are looking for something very niche-y or something very specific and they’ll keep the job open for the whole 30 days as well. Do dig into the archives. If you see something that’s a perfect fit for you, just send them an email and see whether it is still open.

Number two is to follow the instructions in the job, it’s amazing when I’ve advertised for people on Digital Photography School when I’ve advertised for writers, we ask for some specific things in the application. We ask for examples of their work, we ask them not to send in full resumes, we ask them to do some specific things. It’s amazing how many people obviously do not read the job and don’t follow the instructions. If you are applying for a job and it’s been asked for you to supply some examples of your work or not to do something and you don’t follow those instructions, it’s a signal to an advertiser that you are someone who doesn’t pay attention to detail. Carefully read the job and follow the instructions. I shouldn’t really have to say it but it’s amazing how many people don’t do that.

Number three tip is to sell yourself. It’s amazing, when I look through the applications that come in for jobs that we’ve put up on the job board, how many people who sell themselves short and I understand this on some levels. I’ve got a bit of an inferiority complex myself and I find it hard to sell myself but you really need to put your best foot forward. As with any job, you’ve got to give people a reason to hire you. List some reasons why you would be good for the job, talk about your experience, talk about your knowledge of the topic, talk about your passion for communication, your passion for the topic. The way you work with others, the skills that you have, all of these things are going to help you be noticed. You don’t have to hype yourself up, you don’t have to sell yourself as something that you’re not but put your best foot forward. If you need some help with that, find a friend, find a colleague, find someone who can help you to put words to those skills and might help to sell you.

Number four is to write your application well. This is one of those ones I’m amazed that people don’t proofread their applications. Blogging, you’re applying for a job, that is a largely written medium in most cases and your written application gives your prospective employer a hint as to how well you’re going to do your job. See your application as an audition for the job. If you put forward an application that’s well written, that is spell checked, that’s well structured, that demonstrates that you know grammar, then you’re going to do yourself a lot of favors. Proofread your application. Really important. If possible, find someone else to proofread it for you because they’ll pick up mistakes that you will miss. It’s really important to put your best foot forward in that regard.

Tip number five is to give examples of your work. Most of the jobs that you see listed on the job board do ask for this and they ask for it in different ways. Sometimes they ask for links for articles that you’ve published somewhere else, whether that being on your own blog or on other line article sites in different ways. Some people actually want you to send them a document or send them a PDF. Have a look at what they’re asking for, you may need to do a little bit of work to get it into the right format but it’s really important that you do put forward some examples of what you’ve done.

There’s a number of things to consider when you think about what pieces you want to show them. They sometimes will ask for something very specific but in many cases just give us some example of your works. Include links to your blog. It’s really good if you can show them that you are a blogger already, share links to that. You want to choose to show them content that relates to the topic, if possible. If it’s a travel writing blog and you’ve never written a blog post about travel, you might want to go and quickly write a post for your own blog on travel to show them that you can write on that particular topic.

You want to actually show them the style as well and sometimes it can be worthwhile going and having a look at the advertiser’s blog or their website to find out what style of content they produce. Some people write in a more conversational style, sometimes people want a more formal style. Go and have a look at their blog, try and understand who their reader is, what style of content works well in that site and then show them examples that they could imagine seeing that topic content on their sites. You really want to do some research.

Pick examples that are relevant to the topic, to the style and also maybe try and show a few different types of content that you can do. Show some examples that show your versatility in writing a different styles. You might want to show them a list post that you’ve written, you might want to show them a how to piece of content that you‘ve written, you might want to show them a humorous post that you’ve written, a story that you’ve written. Showcase that you’re not just someone who’s going to write one type of content, if that’s what they’re looking for.

Again, this will come from the ad itself. Hopefully they have said a little bit about the topic content that they want but do the research, go and have a look at their site, find out what works well. You might want to take the URL and put it into a tool like BuzzSumo, buzzsumo.com and see what has done well on their site in the past. BuzzSumo will show you what on their site has been shared the most; that will give you some hints as to the type of content that they might want to be producing.

If in doubt, you can always email them in many cases as well. If there’s not enough information in the ad, you can actually email them and say, “I’m putting together my application, I’d love to know a little bit more about the style of content that you want.” Going back and asking some questions may be something that can help you to shape your application in some ways.

Tip number six is to be concise. Advertisers that I talk to on the ProBlogger job board are telling me that they are getting quite a few applications. Last time we advertised, we had 60 or so different applications for a job that we were advertising, they’ve got to get through a lot of applications and if they see an application that is really long, it’s a bit of a signal to them that there is going to be a fair bit of work involved here. You want to be concise, you don’t want to be too brief, you want to include everything that they ask for but don’t overwhelm people with your application. It’s important to get that balance right.

Tip number seven. Demonstrate a knowledge of blogging. You don’t want to just demonstrate your knowledge of the topic which I’ll talk about in a moment but also show them that you understand blogging itself. Obviously they’re going to want to know that you know about your topic but if you can show them that you’re a blogger, share a link with them and that you’ve been at it for a while, if you have, that you have a professionally regularly updated blog that you regularly produce content, and you can give some examples of that, that you are familiar with tools like WordPress or other blogging tools. These types of things are signals to a prospective advertiser that you’re serious about blogging, that you’re serious about your craft, that you’ve gathered some skills already. It’s also going to help them to know that they may not have to train you as much. They don’t have to walk you through how to update a blog post because you’ve already done that on your own blog.

If you haven’t got a blog yet, get one going. Check out our five step guide to starting a blog but get one going because that’s a great resume, it’s a great portfolio for you if you do want to find this type of work. Demonstrate that you are a blogger, that you understand the tools and that you got some skills in that area.

Tip number eight is to demonstrate the knowledge on the topic itself. This is so important, probably should be in my number one tip but people don’t employ people to write on their blog if they don’t have an understanding of that particular topic. If you’ve got some experience in that area and writing about that topic, that’s really great, but if you’ve got other experiences as well. Maybe you’ve had some training in your topic, maybe you’ve delivered workshops, maybe you subscribed to other blogs. You can actually show that you are across the topic, you know what the latest trend are in that particular topic and that is going to add a lot as well.

Tip number nine. Don’t apply for every job. I’ve discovered over the last few years in my own advertising that some people do apply for every single job that comes up on the job board and this comes across in the application. But usually, it’s a copy and paste kind of application that people are sending in. The applications themselves often demonstrate that people haven’t read the ad, they don’t have any knowledge, they’re just desperate for a job. Really take the time to filter through the jobs. Find the ones that you can really be a good fit for and just apply for those and really tailor those applications. So important. Don’t apply for everything, it’s just going to annoy the advertiser.

Tip number 10. Demonstrate that you’re willing to go beyond just writing. If it is a writing job, that’s great. Demonstrate that you can write. That’s really important. Demonstrate all the things I just said but also show them how else you can add something to their blog. If you can demonstrate to an advertiser that you don’t just write well but you have experience in design, in writing for search engine optimization, that you have experience in social media, in editing, in design, in creating visual content, in creating video. Any other skill that you’ve got, just list it as other skills thing in the bottom of your application. There are other thing that I do because they will peak the interest of advertisers. That will show advertisers that maybe they’re not just getting a writer here, maybe they’re getting someone who can help with search engine optimization or maybe you could help them create some new types of content for their blog.

The other thing that I think is really important is if you have a social network already, if you’re already on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, any of these networks, include links to those, show them that you’re already networking in these areas and include that you’d be willing to promote the content you write to your own social network. This will grab people’s attention because they want new eyeballs on their content. If you’re willing to share your content with your own network, and share it with other bloggers that you know, that to them will signal new eyeballs on the content, new traffic to their site. That will be something that will hopefully get them interested.

Demonstrate in your application that you’re not just willing to write the content but you’re willing to respond to comments, that you’re willing to share the content on social media, and that you’re willing to go the extra mile to help them to build a successful blog. You’re not just there for content, you’re there for a little bit more than that.

The last tip I’ll give you is to stand out from the crowd. I’ve already mentioned a number of times that you won’t be the only person applying for this job. I don’t remember ever getting an email from an advertiser saying I didn’t get any applications or I only got a couple of applications. Most advertisers are reporting that they’re getting quite a few application, so you won’t be the only one sending your application. Think about how can I stand out from the crowd.

Hopefully you’ll stand out from the crowd by doing the things I’ve already talked about, demonstrating that you’re going to go above beyond writing, that you understand your topic, that you’re a great blogger but also think about how can you stand out with the opening line of your application, how can you show them that you are an A-list candidate because they will be going through the applications and probably getting rid of over half of the applications very quickly. You want to do something to really grab their attention.

Hopefully somewhere in those 11 tips, there are some that you can take on board as you are applying for jobs on the ProBlogger job board. Again, it is at problogger.com/jobs, that will get you to that job board. Do give it a go, check out the latest jobs that are there right now. We promote the job board to advertisers regularly so there’s always fresh jobs coming up. Make sure you subscribe to get the alerts. I think it’s really important to at least be subscribing via email or RSS and then maybe checking out the Twitter account as well.

Let us know how you go with the applications. Let us know if there are any improvements that you want on the job board as well as either as an advertiser or as someone applying for jobs as well. You can don that over on today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/185, also if you’ve got any feedback on today’s show, you can also do that in the ProBlogger podcast listeners Facebook group.

This week we went past 3,000 members of that group. Lots of activity happening in there and some really good conversation again. Do a search on Facebook for ProBlogger podcast listeners and you’ll find that group and I usually let people in who apply within 24 hours, although I will be on the road this week going to Social Media Marketing World in San Diego, and that’s the last thing I wanted to say.

If you are going to be in San Diego for Social Media Marketing World in the next week, pop on my session. I’m doing a session on the Future Of Blogging, The Changing World Of Blogging In A Social Media A`ge. I’d love it if you’d come along and check out that session and come and say hi. Love to meet you at Social Media Marketing World this particular week.

Thanks for listening today. Good luck with your applications for jobs and I look forward to chatting with you next week on the ProBlogger Podcast.

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How to Grow Your Fitness Blog to 100,000 Monthly Visitors in Less than a Year

By Alex Chris of reliablesoft.net

How do you build a successful fitness blog? What does it take to start a blog and grow the traffic to 100K monthly visitors in less than a year?

If you have a fitness blog or planning to start one or even if you are just curious on how you can grow your blog’s traffic fast, then this post is for you.

What you will learn in this post is the steps I followed to increase the traffic of my fitness blog to 100,000 organic visits in only one year. I will explain the process I followed and share my experiences so that you can replicate my steps and do the same.

To give you an additional incentive to read this post until the end, let me mention that the organic traffic of the blog at the end of January is close to 600K monthly visits.

How to grow your fitness blog to 100,000 monthly visitors in less than a year

A screenshot from semrush, showing the growth of traffic since 2012.

Have in mind that although what you will read below is the story of a fitness blog, the concepts and techniques can be applied to all kinds of blogs and websites.

So, let’s get started.

I’m sure that you want to see some numbers and statistics but let’s just hold on for a moment.

Let’s rewind and take it from the beginning and talk a bit about the fitness industry.

The fitness industry is often referred to as the ‘million-dollar industry’. On one hand, we have the millions of people searching for ways to get fit, lose weight and unleash the secrets of healthy living.

On the other hand, it’s the companies that make millions per year by selling meal plans, diets, supplements and sometimes just hope to help those people achieve their goals.

In the middle, we have giant websites (newspapers, online magazines, etc.) that provide free information on all topics related to fitness and healthy living.

Someone may wonder, how can a new fitness blog compete with these and gain its share of traffic and money?

Well, it’s a matter of quality. Have you ever heard the term ‘content it’s king’?

It’s one of the most popular advice given by SEO’s the last 10 years and this is for a reason.

Make your content better than the competition and everything else will follow.

So, the first takeaway message from this post is that there is always hope. The Internet is not a place for a few but it’s a place for the many and if you prove that you have something valuable to offer to your readers, you can succeed in any niche you choose.

How to go from 0 to 100K Monthly Visits on Your Blog

Ok, now that everything is in place, let’s get to the details.

The blog is caloriesecrets.net, it was established in April 2012 and by the end of April 2013, monthly traffic from Google was 102,944.

Here is an overview of the monthly traffic for the first 12 months.How to grow your fitness blog to 100,000 monthly visitors in less than a year

It helps you see at a glance your traffic details and the relationship between number of published posts and traffic. This can prove very useful when you need the extra motivation to start writing you next post.The above table is a copy from my notes. I like to keep a simple table like this for all my websites and I suggest you do the same.

Step 1: Get to know your niche

Your first step and before starting a blog in any niche, is to find out as much as you can about your niche.

In my case, I was blogging about fitness since 2008 so I knew the industry very well and I believe this is one of the reasons that the blog’s traffic increased so quickly.

Once you come up with a blog idea, open Google, go to Facebook and Twitter and spend time to learn about your industry.

Find out who are the influencers, which websites rank on the first pages of Google, what type of content they provide, how often they publish new content, what is the average length of each post, what do they share on Facebook and twitter.

Tools like semrush and buzzsumo can help you a lot. Semrush is the perfect tool for competitor analysis. It can give you a lot of information about a domain including ranking keywords, traffic and a thorough backlink analysis.

Buzzsumo can help you identify what type of content gets shared on social media, what type of titles are used and who are the influencers in a niche.

STEP 2: Do your keyword research

A successful blog starts with good keyword research. I’m sure you know this already but it’s necessary to mention this again because any time you spend at the beginning doing keyword research will pay off later.

Remember when I mentioned above how competitive the fitness industry is? This is where good keyword research and in particular long tail keywords come into rescue.

When doing keyword research on highly competitive niches, don’t lose your time by targeting the most popular keywords, these are already being targeted by giant websites.

What you should do instead is go after long tail keywords.

This guide explains in detail how to find the long tail keywords in your niche, what I want to add here is the following:

Don’t get obsessed about the search volume of a keyword. Tools may show that long tail keywords have low search volumes but what is more important, especially at the beginning, is to achieve top rankings for some of the keywords (even if their traffic is very low).

This will gradually make your domain stronger and give you the opportunity to achieve higher rankings for more popular keywords.

STEP 3: Create a publishing schedule and stick to it

If you want to get traffic from search engines, you need to have content. It’s as simple as that.

Especially in niches like fitness, you need to have a lot of content. When starting out you should decide how often you can publish new posts, create a plan and stick to it.

When I launched the blog in April 2012, I published 10 posts the same day and then established a publishing schedule of three posts per week, which I keep today.

No matter the season (holidays, time off) or how I busy I am, I will publish three new posts per week. It’s a commitment you have to make if you are serious about your blogging efforts.

How often you should publish a new post depends on a number of things. You should not set optimistic targets you cannot meet but on the other hand you should not forget that the success of your blog, largely depends on your content.

My recommendation is to aim for three posts per week and if you feel you can do more, to go daily. Don’t forget to take a look at what your competitors are doing, this will help you decide on what target to set.

Step 4: Create Quality content

I said in the introduction of this post that content quality is a very important factor for all blogs in all niches.

For health-related niches, this is even more important. When you give advice to people that has to do with their state of health, you should be very careful.

It’s not like blogging about any other subject where you can become an expert through experience.

It’s not enough to be passionate about nutrition or fitness but you need to be an expert (a verified one), so that your readers (and other websites in the industry), will take you seriously.

If you think about it, you have three options:

  • To become an expert – get a diploma or attend courses.
  • To avoid giving any health related advice to people and only share your experiences on how you managed to lose weight or get fit, etc.
  • Hire an expert.

At the beginning, I started with number 2. I’m passionate about fitness and healthy living and I had enough stories to share with the rest of the world.

Soon enough my experience in the fitness industry told me otherwise. To get noticed by other bloggers and websites, I needed something more than just experiences, I needed certified experts that can analyse the science behind nutrition/fitness and this is the point that I decided to go with number three, i.e. to hire experts to do the writing.

It was a huge step, one that added risks and extra costs to a blog that was not making any money yet, but it was a necessary step. I was willing to take the risks because I knew the industry well so I knew what to ask from my writers.

Now, I don’t want to confuse you so let me clarify something. I’m not suggesting that you need to be a certified professional in order to create a blog on any topic you like.

All I’m saying that you need to take into account the particularity of your niche and be in position to create content that is as good or better as to what is already published on the web.

To summarize, my advice when it comes to creating content for your blog is this:

  • Take a closer look at your competitors and create content that is better (both in terms of quality and length).
  • Use case studies and research data to back-up the views / ideas expressed in your articles.
  • Be unbiased. Tell both sides of a story.
  • Don’t try to oversell a product or service, your main focus should be to provide value to your readers.

Step 5: Get your SEO right

Once you have good content, the next step is to get your SEO right. Good SEO will help your content rise to the surface and receive the attention it deserves from search engines and people.

In general, SEO can be split into three parts:

Technical SEO: These are settings that have to do with indexing and crawling, XML sitemaps, URL formatting and other ways to ensure that search engines can read and index your website properly.

On-Page SEO: Techniques you can use to make your pages’ search engine friendly. Things like your page titles and descriptions, text formatting, image seo, mobile friendliness, speed and other settings that can help search engines understand the context (meaning) of your posts and pages.

Off-page SEO: This is often referred to as ‘link building’ and it has to do with getting references (links) from other related websites on the Internet. By doing so, you can gradually increase your domain authority and get better rankings in Google.

It’s not as hard as it sounds. There are many ways to learn SEO and get this right. You just have to allocate some time from the beginning to learn the basics and as you become more experienced, everything will make more sense.

What I did from the very beginning was to fix the technical SEO issues and for every published article, I did some basic on-page SEO optimizations, especially with the titles and images.

Now, everybody with an experience in blogging knows that link building is crucial for rankings. I also knew this in 2012 but for those that remember, this was the year that Google released the Penguin and Panda algorithms that gave a special attention to bad linking practices.

So, I decided not to do any form of link building but rely solely on the quality of the content (as well as the methods you will read below), for getting natural backlinks to the site.

My advice for beginners is to follow the same path i.e. until your blog is at least six months old and has a decent number of posts with quality content, not to engage in any form of link building.

After that period, be selective as to the techniques you will use and don’t push it too fast. Build your link profile slowly and avoid any kind of shortcuts.

Step 6: Promote Your Work (besides Social Media)

We all know that social media is one of the fastest ways to promote your blog, especially if you are willing to spend a few hundred dollars on Facebook ads, but it’s not the only way to reach new audiences.

While I did start a Facebook campaign to increase my fans, which was more efficient at that time than it is now, I also looked for other ways to promote my blog. In particular:

  • I added the blog to the Chrome Web Store. This was a hidden source of traffic since thousands of people added my chrome app to their desktops and they also got new notifications every time a new post was published. I did not expect this to work so good but as they say, you will never know something unless you try it. Unfortunately, after the latest changes to the chrome web store (June 2016), this is no longer the case.
  • I created apps for Android Devices and Microsoft and uploaded them to the Google Play, Amazon Play Store and Windows Store. The competition was less (compared to today), and these apps generated a decent amount of direct traffic.
  • I also verified the website with Health On the Net– an independent organization that checks health related websites for compliance with a number of things. This did not generate extra traffic but it helped in building trustworthiness which is equally important.

Step 7: Don’t forget about your users

While so far we have talked about the importance of content and SEO, you should not forget about the user experience.

The first thing that comes in mind is of course the design of the website that has to be easy to use and user friendly, but there also other incentives you can provide to users so that they can come back and re-visit.

What I did is to create a set of Free tools (free diet plan, calorie counter, calorie calculator) to help users achieve their weight loss goals.

This helped a lot in getting repeating visits and creating a community around the website. In addition, it was a great way in building a large email list for my newsletter.

The take away from this section is to think of ways to make users engage with your content and give them incentives so as to re-visit.

What about money?

I deliberately did not mention anything about money and how I was able to pay for all the content and tools, but I know that this is a part that you want to read so here are the details.

At the beginning and for a few years the website was operating at a loss. This was not a surprise for me, I knew it from the beginning and I took the risk.

I knew that in order to make real money, you needed a lot of traffic but I also knew that in order to get good traffic you needed good content and tools.

The website makes money from Adsense. The last four years it generated a nice five-figure amount. Enough to cover for the initial expenses and also to provide a decent monthly revenue.

At some point, I did try to test other ways to make money by creating my own products (related to dieting) and through affiliate marketing but at the end I found that Adsense performs better.

With Adsense you don’t have to worry about creating products, managing sales and customer support but you settle for less profit.

I know that other companies are probably making more money from my content than I do but at this stage and with the lack of time, I decided that Adsense is the best way to go.

Conclusion

To sum up this post, let me give you some pointers you can use when working on your own blog or website.

First: There is no secret recipe for creating a successful blog. Everything is laid out in front you and it’s the same for all blogs in all niches:

  • Create engaging content
  • Good on-page SEO
  • Careful off-page SEO
  • Consistency (stick to your publishing content)
  • Build a community around your blog
  • Be patient and work hard

Second: Get to know your niche really well. This is part of your job as a blogger, it’s not an optional task. You need to know what your competitors are doing and what is working for them. Spying on your competitors is not a black hat technique, it’s a way to make your content and user experience better.

Third: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If you are starting out now, you may not get it right from the first time. That’s normal to happen. Learn from your mistakes and try again.

It took me years to get organic traffic to my first blog, caloriesecrets was my fourth attempt in the fitness niche.

Take ProBlogger as another example. It is a highly successful blog with millions of monthly visitors in one of the most saturated niches on the Internet, but this did not happen overnight. Darren has been working on this blog since 2004 and before that he already had two years’ experience with other blogs.

Don’t forget, good results come to those who take blogging seriously and work hard.

Share you own story or questions in the comments, I would be more than happy to answer them.

Alex is the Digital Marketing Manager at Reliablesoft. He blogs regularly about SEO and Digital marketing and his work has been referenced by leading industry websites. You can find him in Twitter (@reliablesoftnet)

The post How to Grow Your Fitness Blog to 100,000 Monthly Visitors in Less than a Year appeared first on ProBlogger.

      


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Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately?

Reading Roundup: Blogging and social media news over on ProBlogger.com

Ok so after reading these articles this week, I’ve prioritised my tasks: double my podcast downloads, and revisit Pinterest. What’s yours?

The Most Annoying Things Brands Do on Social Media | Marketing Profs

Are you annoying people by being overly salesy? What about using too much jargon? A couple of the things on here will see me unfollow faster than lightning too.

5 reasons why more sleep will help you be more productive + how to get more sleep | Planning with Kids

I love being productive, and I love sleeping. It’s insane how much I notice my brain actually functioning when I get enough zzzzz’s. I’m willing to be you need more sleep, too!

How My Podcast Downloads Doubled Overnight | James Altucher

I’m not gonna turn that down!

Instagram Launches Slideshows: 3 Tips For Brands | Milk it Academy

I felt like I was one of the last people for this to roll out, but when I saw others using it, I was unimpressed. If their first image was boring, why would I want to see three of them? And I wasn’t interested in seeing five images only slightly different from the original. No thanks. These tips are much better.

23 types of audio, video, and other media you can add to your course (or blog) to make it even more epic | By Regina

An epic blog for an epic issue! You wanna be epic, right?

Your Daily SEO Fix: Link Building & Ranking Zero | Moz

I have been asked about link-building in the last few weeks more than I ever have in my last three years at ProBlogger. Hear it from the horse’s mouth!

The ‘404: Not Found’ error page has origins dating back to the 1980s | news.com.au

Did you know?

Is Longer Really Better? How Focused and Comprehensive Content Ranks Better | Neil Patel

I think it’s official now: constant short updates are being trumped by longer pieces, at least in search rankings.

The 3 Facebook Ad Tips You Need To Know | Hootsuite

Who actually has this nailed yet? Was it practice? Experimentation? A tutorial? Spill!

How to Optimize Pinterest Content for Search | Social Media Examiner

Are you still Pinterest-ing? Does it still bring the same traffic it once did?

What’s caught your eye this week?

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

      


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Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately?

Reading Roundup: Blogging and social media news over on ProBlogger.com

Ok so after reading these articles this week, I’ve prioritised my tasks: double my podcast downloads, and revisit Pinterest. What’s yours?

The Most Annoying Things Brands Do on Social Media | Marketing Profs

Are you annoying people by being overly salesy? What about using too much jargon? A couple of the things on here will see me unfollow faster than lightning too.

5 reasons why more sleep will help you be more productive + how to get more sleep | Planning with Kids

I love being productive, and I love sleeping. It’s insane how much I notice my brain actually functioning when I get enough zzzzz’s. I’m willing to be you need more sleep, too!

How My Podcast Downloads Doubled Overnight | James Altucher

I’m not gonna turn that down!

Instagram Launches Slideshows: 3 Tips For Brands | Milk it Academy

I felt like I was one of the last people for this to roll out, but when I saw others using it, I was unimpressed. If their first image was boring, why would I want to see three of them? And I wasn’t interested in seeing five images only slightly different from the original. No thanks. These tips are much better.

23 types of audio, video, and other media you can add to your course (or blog) to make it even more epic | By Regina

An epic blog for an epic issue! You wanna be epic, right?

Your Daily SEO Fix: Link Building & Ranking Zero | Moz

I have been asked about link-building in the last few weeks more than I ever have in my last three years at ProBlogger. Hear it from the horse’s mouth!

The ‘404: Not Found’ error page has origins dating back to the 1980s | news.com.au

Did you know?

Is Longer Really Better? How Focused and Comprehensive Content Ranks Better | Neil Patel

I think it’s official now: constant short updates are being trumped by longer pieces, at least in search rankings.

The 3 Facebook Ad Tips You Need To Know | Hootsuite

Who actually has this nailed yet? Was it practice? Experimentation? A tutorial? Spill!

How to Optimize Pinterest Content for Search | Social Media Examiner

Are you still Pinterest-ing? Does it still bring the same traffic it once did?

What’s caught your eye this week?

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

      


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3 Tips for a Productive Approach to Email

3 Tips for a Productive Approach to Email | ProBlogger

Back in 2006 Merlin Mann created a series of posts on the 43 Folders blog called Inbox Zero. I am sure most of you have heard this term, but from chatting with bloggers at conferences and meet ups, most bloggers have misinterpreted the key philosophy behind Inbox Zero.

Contrary to popular belief, the “Zero” doesn’t refer to fanatically keeping your inbox empty at all times. Instead, it refers to “the amount of time an employee’s brain is in his inbox.” {source}

We all know that spending our entire day in our inbox is not productive, but how can we approach email productively? To determine this we need to define productivity. I define productivity as using your time, energy and attention effectively to achieve your goal.

And you can use this definition of productivity to understand the real point of Inbox Zero. What Mann was getting at with Inbox Zero, was that you need to manage your inbox in a way so that it takes up a minimum of your time and attention.

In order to do this you need to have a process for how you deal with your email. You can find many complex systems on the internet by email specialists on how to label, filter and file emails which will help you make small gains in productivity. But if you want to make substantial improvements and really reduce the amount of time and attention you give to email, you need to take a step back and look at your overall approach to email.

Here are three strategies I have implemented to my email practice that has reduced the amount of time I spend on email each week by more than half.

1. Batch your emails

Batching your emails addresses two of the key components of productivity – it impacts how much time and attention you give your email. Batching your emails means you only access your emails at particular time/s of the day.

I took a gradual approach to batching my emails. I first started by allocating a block of time each day for emails and I set it for a period in the day which had a natural boundary. It was the last hour of my work day and the hour leading up to when I had to head out to pick the kids up from school. Email is a task that expands to fill the time you allocate to it, so where possible if there is a time in your day that has fixed boundary, try using it as a book end for you email batching.

Approaching your email in blocks of time like this reduces the over all time you spend on email during the day. It prevents the quick check here and there, that finds you reading emails but not actioning them. Meaning that when you go back to the inbox you have to read them again and then action them, effectively double handling them and doubling the time you have spend on email.

The batching approach also means that you minimise how much attention your inbox takes up. Every time we take a quick check of our emails, out attention is diverted from the key activity we were working on and even though we may switch back to our key activity quickly, part of our attention remains in our inbox.

For example, as a blogger if we are writing a post and decided to do a “quick check” of our email and find an email from a reader who is angry about something we have written, or we have an email from a client reminding us of an overdue task, it is hard for us to 100% focus on writing our post. Our mind wanders to explanations we will write to both emails, killing off any flow we had going and making the task of writing the blog post harder and longer than it needed to be.

Sophie Leroy, a business-school professor at the University of Minnesota studied the impacts of switching between work tasks and she refers to this as attention residue. In the abstract of her study Why is it so hard to do my work? The challenge of attention residue when switching between work tasks, Leroy notes:

people need to stop thinking about one task in order to fully transition their attention and perform well on another. Yet, results indicate it is difficult for people to transition their attention away from an unfinished task and their subsequent task performance suffers.

If you want to be productive in the way you approach email, leave checking it to dedicated blocks of time, time where you are only focusing on one task.

After my experiment with batching my emails as my last task of the day, I found there were moments where I was still taking a sneak peak here and there. It generally happened when I was stuck on something, finding a task hard or procrastinating. To create good habits I am a firm believer in setting myself up for success so I installed BatchedInbox. It is a super useful tool for Gmail that enforces your batching rules for you.

Within BatchedInbox you determine the frequency that you will receive your emails. Mine is set to release my emails to me at 1pm each day. If at any point I go into my inbox after this, I will see no new emails. So even if I do check there is nothing new to see!

There are some ways around the system, for example when I am creating my newsletters and I want to see a test version sent to myself, I can simply go to my sent mail and it will be sitting there for me. There are also ways to pick up the other emails waiting for you, but all of them require me to do a few extra steps. Those extra steps make me ask the question “do I really need to check my email?” and almost every time the answer is no.

2. Decide your process for actioning emails

A standard approach to email is to jump into the inbox and start working on what is at the top and make your way down. This can see you dedicating time to emails that are not as important as others. We can also feel the need to respond to emails that have been sitting there for a while if we finally have time to action them.

To prevent you from randomly working on emails you need to define a process for actioning them. My approach when I do access my inbox is to:

  • Delete – go through and see what I can delete. I have a policy of deleting any brand request etc emails that are not addressed to me personally.
  • Batch – file away like emails so I can respond to them at once, for example I often ask for people to reply to me in my newsletters, so have a folder for these emails. Responding to them all in the same session means my mind is that mode and I can respond quickly to them.
  • Importance – with the above emails sorted, I then scan through the email titles and sender names and determine the order I will respond to them. The order I respond in is directed my my business goal for the year. PR requests for example even if they have urgent in the headline will not be actioned before queries from my paid course members. It is often easier to reply to the “urgent” style emails coming through rather than more complex and important emails from course members after more information or writing a proposal response for a large campaign request.

3. Write short and effective responses

Writing polite, well written but short and effective email responses is something that takes practice. When sent a detailed and long email from a reader, we often feel the need to reciprocate and give a lengthy response. As nice as that is to do, for most bloggers it simply isn’t practical.

The other extreme is that it can be tempting to make our way through our inbox, by creating some email tennis – that is we respond to an email with a question with another question to lob the email ball back on their side of the court. This just clogs up both inboxes and requires more work in the long run.

When replying to emails, ensure that you write only what you need to and make it as easy as possible for there to be a resolution for your email. If for example a prospective client wants to have a Skype call with you, either send a list of available times or even use a tool like Calendly to make organising the time simple and fast.

If writing short responses is a new thing for you and you want to educate your network try using the Chris Ducker 3 sentence rule.  This simply involves a line in your email signature saying “Why is this email 3 sentences, or less? Click here to find out.” Hat tip to the lovely Kelly Exeter for this email productivity tip.

Canned responses is another tool that helps you with responding to emails effectively. It is for Gmail users and can be found in Labs in your settings where you can enable it. Canned responses allows you to send standard responses to emails. You can have many canned responses and can choose which response you send to which email.

I receive many emails a day requesting opportunities to guest post, asking me to promote their products, adding links to my posts etc. I have separate canned responses for all of these, politely written declining them all. Some bloggers choose to simply delete these emails instantly which is one approach, but they tend to be persistent and repeat email, so I have found it more effective to tell them no thanks and cut down the volume coming in.

When actioning email it is important to remember that you are in control. Just because someone has sent an email which asks for your attention, doesn’t mean you have to give it attention straight away. Email is a tool to assist with your blogging, but it is not your core activity. The time and attention you give your inbox should reflect that.

What is your approach to productively handling your email?

The post 3 Tips for a Productive Approach to Email appeared first on ProBlogger.

      


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