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Tips for education purpose only.

Tips for education purpose only.
Have a nice day.. :)

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    Build better blog by hubspot-directory.blogspot.com Build better blog by hubspot-directory.blogspot.com Presentation Transcript

    • 31 daysto builda betteredition blogsecond written by Darren Rowse
    • 31 days to build a better blogSecond EditionPublication date November 2011Published by: Darren Rowsewww.problogger.netProducer: Jasmin TragasGraphic Design: Naomi Creeknaomi@naomicreek.comVersion 1.0 ©Copyright 2011 Darren RowseNOTICE OF RIGHTSAll rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced,stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form orby any means, without the prior written permission of thepublisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied incritical articles or reviews.NOTICE OF LIABILITYThe author and publisher have made every effort to ensure theaccuracy of the information herein. However, the informationcontained in this book is sold without warranty, either expressor implied.Neither the authors and ProBlogger, nor its dealers ordistributors, will be held liable for any damages caused eitherdirectly or indirectly by the instructions contained in this book,or by the software or hardware products described herein.
    • ContentsCredits and copyright_______________________ 2 Set up alerts to monitor what’s happening Conduct a policy review_ ___________________ 92 in your niche_______________________________ 46Preface_____________________________________ 4 Pay special attention to a reader___________ 96 Come up with 10 post ideas_ _______________ 50How to use this workbook___________________ 5 Call your readers to action_______________ 100 Develop an editorial calendar for your blog__ 55Bonus tasks________________________________ 6 Use a magazine to improve your blog_____ 104 Take a trip to the mall and improveWrite an elevator pitch for your blog________ 7 your blog _________________________________ 59 Ask a question___________________________ 108Write a list post___________________________ 13 Update a key page on your blog____________ 62 Improve another blog_ ___________________ 113 _Promote a blog post_______________________ 18 Find a blog buddy_ _________________________ 67 Hunt for dead links_ ______________________ 116Analyze a top blog in your niche_ ___________ 23 Solve a problem: 7 ways to identify Write a review post______________________ 119 readers’ problems_ ________________________ 71 _Email a blog reader________________________ 27 Develop a plan to boost your blog’s Watch a first-time reader use your blog____ 77 profile and readership online_ ____________ 123 _Make your blog mobile-friendly_ _____________ 31 Create a sneeze page for your blog_________ 80 Monitor statistics on your blog___________ 131Write a link post___________________________ 35 Write an opinion post on your blog_ ________ 85 Plan the next steps for your blog_________ 135Choose a social media space to focus on_ __ 40 _ Leave comments on other blogs____________ 89 What now?______________________________ 139Join a forum and start participating________ 433
    • Preface So, you want to improve your blog, but you’ve been putting it in the ”one day” basket? Maybe you just don’t know where to begin. In either case, you’re not alone. You’re also in the right place. A few years ago, when I asked on Twitter whether there were any bloggers interested in a month of concentrated teaching and practical exercises to improve their blogs I was inundated with expressions of interest. Over 13,000 bloggers signed up, and the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Challenge was born. These days, little has changed. All bloggers want to improve their blogs, but many never quite get around to it. I went through this in the early days of my own blogging, but eventually there came a point where I just had to get serious, and put time aside to work on my blog. That’s what this challenge is about. The idea is simple. By the end of this challenge, you’ll have learned 31 aspects of blogging, and put them into practice. This program is designed not only to fill your head with knowledge about blogging, but to give you some concrete ways to actually do something with that knowledge.4
    • How to use this workbookThis workbook is a collection of the teaching Further readingand tasks that bloggers went through in that This section provides links to further readingchallenge. It is broken into 31 days or tasks, on the day’s task and topic area. I’d hate for Before you starteach with three main sections: you to complete the challenge and not take your learning any further. These pointers will To help us with a couple of the tasksTeaching give you a way to keep learning long after in the challenge, and to help youThis section introduces the area or idea we’ll track the results of your work on the you’ve finished 31 Days to Build a Betterfocus on for the day. challenge, make sure you have some Blog. kind of statistics package installed onTask Example your blog.This section explains the day’s task in step-by- Where it makes sense, I’ve included anstep detail. I use and recommend Google example of someone who’s put the day’s task to good effect on their blog. Hopefully, the Analytics (it’s free andNotes creativity of these bloggers will inspire you comprehensive), but there areIn this section, I’ll give you a few tips and that little bit extra—you might also find some plenty of others on the market.hints from my own experience to help you getthe most out of the day’s task. great blogs you aren’t already following. Note that if you use WordPress or While this workbook has been designed to one of the other hosted bloggingInteract be worked through over 31 days, feel free platforms, you may not be able toThis section gives you the day’s hashtag. to proceed through it at your own pace. You install a hosting package of your own.Use it to mark any tweets, status updates, might tackle a couple of tasks in a single day, Don’t worry, though—each of theand social media messages you post about or take your time with them and do just one platforms has built-in site trackingyour progress on the daily task. Thousands or two a week. It’s totally up to you. functionality, which is fine for theof others like you are taking the 31DBBB purposes of this workbook.challenge, and by connecting with them How ever you use it, I hope you find thisonline, you’ll get to check out each other’s workbook helpful!progress, exchange ideas, and make newfriends.5
    • Bonus tasks If you find this workbook helpful and want to continue the 31DBBB process further, you can. This is the second edition of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, and in it we’ve replaced some of the tasks from the previous edition. The tasks we removed haven’t been lost, though: they’re included with even more tasks in the downloadable pack that accompanies this edition of 31DBBB. This is, effectively, an extra week of blog–improving tasks. Don’t stop at 31 days—take the challenge as far as you can!6
    • DAY 1Write an elevator pitch for your blog
    • Day 1 – Write an elevator pitch for your blog Elevator pitches for Other reasons for TODAY’S TEACHING bloggers developing an elevatorToday, we’ll develop an elevator pitch for your blog. While the idea of an elevator pitch is usually pitchLet me explain why it’s important. encouraged when startup entrepreneurs are Of course, coming up with an elevator pitch will looking for investors, developing an elevator pitch benefit you in many ways. A good elevator pitchWhat is an elevator for your blog is also a smart move. is brilliant for communicating what your blog ispitch? One of the most important reasons to do this about to readers (both the ones you already have, and potential readers), other bloggers, potential exercise is that it forces you as a blogger to think“An elevator pitch is an overview of an idea business partners, media reps and journalists, through what your blog is about, and crystallizefor a product, service, or project. The name advertisers, and even friends and family members that in your mind. If you’re fuzzy on what your blogreflects the fact that an elevator pitch can be who might not understand what you’re doing. is about, it’s unlikely that anyone else will be abledelivered in the time span of an elevator ride to get a clear idea, either. Once you’ve created your blog’s elevator pitch,(for example, thirty seconds, or 100–150 there’s no limit to the places and situations wherewords).”—Wikipedia Knowing what your blog is about helps you to you can use it—either in part, or in its entirety. develop every aspect of it, including:Many business and self-improvement courses Here are a few that spring to mind:teach students to develop an elevator pitch for • writing content Your blog’s tagline: Having a short, sharp, andtheir business (or even for themselves). The • promotion and finding readers descriptive tagline for your blog can be a powerfulidea is to have something short and sharp that technique to quickly communicate to new readersyou can say about yourself when the opportunity • search engine optimization what your blog’s all about. Readers who don’t gainarises, instead of bumbling your way through a a sense of what your blog’s about are in dangervague explanation of what your business does— • networking with other bloggers of leaving quickly—so a tagline that is displayedand missing an opportunity to impress your prominently on your blog can be a great way tolistener. • branding hook them in.The elevator pitch has two goals: • design ... the list goes on. Your About page: New blog visitors tend to flock • to communicate what you do In fact, almost every task that we’ll tackle in the to the About page of a blog. As well as being next 31 days will flow on from this task. the ideal place to communicate what your blog’s • o entice the person receiving your pitch t about, it’s also a good spot to sell to potential to want to know more. readers the reasons why they should subscribe and come back.8
    • Day 1 – Write an elevator pitch for your blogReal-life conversation: Whether you’re at a Email signature: Many people have links to theirconference, in business interactions, or just in blogs in their emails, but a link can be somewhat TODAY’S TASKan everyday conversation, the topic of your blog meaningless on its own. Why not add youris likely to come up from time to time. These elevator pitch? Similarly, signatures in forums can Take some time out today to develop an elevatoropportunities can be the ideal time to rely on your be a good place to include a short description of pitch for your blog. If you already have one, take aelevator pitch to describe what your blog’s about. what you do, to motivate people to check out your few minutes to review and refine it. blog.Business cards: I receive a lot of business cardsat conferences, and to be honest, at the end of Social media profiles: The same goes for all How to write an elevatorthe day I can’t remember who gave me most of your social media profiles. As well as using themthem. Adding an elevator pitch to your card can to point people to your blog, include your elevator pitch for your bloghelp trigger the memory of who you are and what pitch to give them a reason to visit. Much has been written on this topic online, butyou do in the minds of those you chat with at here are some starting points that I recommend:these busy events. Landing pages: An elevator pitch can make putting together copy for a landing page much 1. Solve a problem or need: I’m a big believerPitching to media: One of the things I’ve noticed easier. That’s true for any kind of landing page, in developing blogs that fulfil real needs, andabout many journalists is that they’re very busy including Twitter and other social media landing solve real problems. The problem need notpeople who are constantly being pitched ideas for pages. be a big one (like world peace) but you shouldstories. Having a thought-through and effective be attempting to create a solution thatpitch can help you get noticed, and give journalists Where else would you use an elevator pitch? people need on some level. Communicatea reason to listen to what you have to say. I’m sure there are plenty more opportunities to this in your elevator pitch. pull them out! Feel free to share the other placesPitching to other bloggers: Similarly, I find that where you’ll be using your pitch using today’s 2. Define your audience: Who is your blog for?if I’m being pitched to as a blogger, I take more hashtag (more on that in a moment). Who are you attempting to attract? If yournotice if the person making the pitch gives me a blog is targeting a certain demographic orbrief insight into who they are and what they do. type of person, mention those people in your pitch. If your blog is for teens, don’t develop a pitch for retirees—target the readers you want. I’m a big believer in developing blogs 3. Be clear: Don’t leave people second-guessing that fulfil real needs. what you mean, or struggling to interpret jargon—make your elevator pitch crystal clear.9
    • Day 1 – Write an elevator pitch for your blog4. Keep it short: People have limited attention 8. Consider using a question: People are My elevator pitch spans and a low capacity for absorbing lots wired to answer and engage with questions. of information. Get to the point, eliminate Ask questions—even rhetorical ones—in your I have a couple of elevator pitches in my blog at unnecessary words, and make it punchy! pitch, and you’ll hook people in. ProBlogger.net. One’s short (just six words) and one’s a little longer (it takes a minute or so to5. Stand out: Use humor or powerful imagery 9. Be ready to expand upon your pitch: At say). I use one or the other depending upon the to grab the attention of those that hear your a recent conference, someone approached circumstances and opportunity I have to share. elevator pitch. me and gave what seemed like an elevator pitch about their blog. It worked really well, My short one is very simple: ProBlogger helps6. Be intriguing: Your elevator pitch is unlikely and they had me interested—so interested Bloggers Build Exceptional Blogs. I’ve used to convert people into blog readers all on its that I asked them to tell me more. The others over the life of this blog (and continue to own, but it should entice them to learn more. problem was that they had little else to say evolve it) but I’ve settled on this one for the time You don’t need to cover everything in it, but about their blog. See your elevator pitch as being because it’s so simple, to the point, and attempt to write something that stays in the a conversation-opener that’s designed to lead clear. minds of those who hear it. to further interaction with people. You don’t have to say it all in your initial pitch, but you The longer version expands upon this to explain7. Be energetic but not hyped: You provide should be ready to say more if people are some of the ways that the blog helps bloggers more than just dry information when interested. improve their blogs by talking through a few of describing your blog, but you also convey the main topics I cover. what you feel about it. This is important: if These are just the thoughts that come to my you create a pitch using language and a voice mind on elevator pitches. What would you add? that are dry and uninspired, you’re unlikely to Not everyone will be able to incorporate all of the convert anyone into a reader. Show people above points but I hope that some of them will that you love what you’re doing, that you’re help you to develop yours. passionate, and that you care about your topic. But don’t go too far and hype it up beyond what it is, either. Your elevator pitch is unlikely to convert people into blog readers all on its own, but it should entice them to learn more.10
    • Day 1 – Write an elevator pitch for your blogWrite your elevator pitch TODAY’S NOTES EXAMPLETo get started writing your elevator pitch, notedown these elements: Tips for developing your elevator pitch Heather Solos’s Home-Ec101 is a great example of a blog that uses elevator pitches to great • your audience 1. Start by brainstorming words related to your advantage. blog. What words come to mind as you think • their need or problem about your blog? • the solution your blog provides. 2. Ask two to three friends or family membersThese items form the bare bones for your pitch. to try to describe your blog in a sentence.From here, use your creativity, imagination, and 3. Where will you use the elevator pitch that youpersonal style to develop an elevator pitch of come up with today?100 to 150 words that clearly communicateswhat your blog is about. As I mentioned earlier, my own approach with elevator pitches is to have two. I have a short oneIf you’re on a roll, try developing a short tagline that I use as a tagline on my blog and businessfrom this pitch. Also, try expanding on your pitch When you arrive on the home page, the first thing card, and a longer one that I’m able to share within an imaginary conversation with another blogger. you’ll see is the site’s tagline: Skills for Everyday people in person when time is less of an issue. Living. It’s clear and concise, and gives you aOnce you have an elevator pitch for your blog, strong first impression about the site’s purpose.write or print it out and put it near your computer Try expanding onso that you can be reminded of it as you blog. Look under the Site Info and Disclosure menu item, and you’ll find Heather has both MissionYou might also like to start to incorporate it intoyour blog as a tagline, or include in your About your pitch in an Statement and About pages. Her Mission Statement expands on the tagline—but only apage. imaginary conversation little:You could even write a post about it on your blog with another blogger. “Home Ec 101 is a site dedicated to teachingto communicate to your readers what you’re on. a broad range of life skills to adults in a conversational and entertaining manner.”11
    • Day 1 – Write an elevator pitch for your blogSo now we know the blog will teach us something,that it’s for adults, and that we can expect to INTERACT FURTHER READINGbe entertained. Perhaps that’s enough for somereaders, but if it’s not, that’s okay: Heather leads Gain feedback on your results and see what A USP or unique selling proposition, is a similar ,you to more information: others are doing by updating your social network idea to an elevator pitch. I really love this status using the hashtag #31DBBBDay1. Copyblogger article on USP development.“Check out the About page for the long-windedversion.” Don’t be shy—we’ll be interested to see what J  ade Craven explains how an elevator pitch can you’ve been up to! be used to enhance your blog’s landing page.The About page has the detail: Heather explainswhy she developed the blog, and provides her F  or more on putting together a Twitter landinginsights into the audience she serves, as well as page, see my post Develop a Twitter Landingsome background on herself. Page.Although the home page layout has changed, I  once asked my readers to send me their blogs’Home-Ec101 still provides a great example of elevator pitches, and wrote up the results. Ifsome of the ways you can adapt your elevator you’re interested in getting a few ideas, checkpitch for use on your blog. them out here.  12
    • DAY 2Write a list post
    • Day 2 – Write a list post 3. Lists look neat: I don’t know about you, but 7. Lists go viral: Lists can start epidemics TODAY’S TEACHING when I arrive on a site that’s full of messily of ideas. For the above reasons and more, formatted text, I tend to keep my stay short. bloggers and social media aficionados seem Lists, on the other hand, can be visually to love sharing lists and, as a result, theyUsing lists has always been a popular and pleasing and more likely to stimulate reading. spread quickly around the web (and beyond).effective technique among bloggers wantingto write viral content—posts that are actively 4. Lists can be comprehensive: While some 8. Lists break down the complicated: Onespread from one person to the next. might argue that lists dumb down ideas and reason I find list posts to be powerful is that concepts, when they’re written well, they’re they can break down complex ideas or tasks.Just look at the front page of Digg, TweetMeme, just as comprehensive as any other style of I know that on my photography blog, many ofand Delicious and you’ll see that much of the writing. our Photoshop tutorials work best when ourhottest content on the web at any given time is authors present their instructions as steps.written in this style. 5. Lists are persuasive: If you want to That way, a procedure that can at first seem mount a case quickly, presenting numerous overwhelming becomes accessible as a list of arguments in a list can be quite convincing.8 reasons why list posts Again, it’s about including identifiable points bite-sized tasks.are powerful for bloggers that together form a convincing argument. Warning: Limit your list posts. They can be incredibly powerful, but readers can becomeList posts are popular because: 6. Lists can add to the ease of writing: I like frustrated with them if that’s all you present. writing in lists because they break down my1. Lists are scannable: Online readers are thoughts into bite-sized pieces, which is good notoriously lazy and tend to scan content for my readers. It’s also good for me as a rather than read it word for word. A list writer, as I consider how to express myself. helps communicate a number of points quickly and easily, and helps readers know if a post contains information of interest to them.2. Lists keep posts succinct: There is A list helps communicate a number of points something about a list that keeps a blogger from rambling. Each point has a start and quickly and easily, and helps readers know if end, whereas with an essay style of writing, a post contains information of interest to them. points often bleed into one another.14
    • Day 2 – Write a list post 3 types of list posts 3. Lists within posts: The content you’re TODAY’S TASK reading right now probably best illustrates There are a variety of ways of incorporating lists this type. In this chapter, there are two lists into your blog. Depending upon the topic and style that present ideas in the midst of otherToday your task is to write a list post on your of blog you’re building, some of these options content. In a sense the list becomes a wayblog. You may not choose to publish it today if might be appropriate for you: of breaking up your text. I find that oftenyou already have something lined up, but aim to these kinds of posts do quite well, as otherpublish it in the next day or two if you can. 1. The post as a list: In this case there’s bloggers looking for a quote to share withTo get started, think about whether your audience nothing in the post except the list. The title their readers will go to your list.would be interested in: of your post introduces the topic, and the list speaks for itself. The list can be quite bare- Some bloggers do, at times, become a little anti- • a step-by-step explanation of a procedure bones—short and to the point. However, list, suggesting it’s an overused technique and a readers often like them because of their lazy way to write, but this need not always be the • a collection of ideas or people bluntness and the way they tell it like it is. case. There’s nothing to stop a blogger developing Example: 21 Ways to Write Posts that an in-depth list post for almost any blog. •  ranked or ordered group of items or a are Guaranteed to Grow Your Blog. concepts. List posts will not suit everyone’s style and they’re 2. Extended lists: This is how I generally probably harder to use with some blog topics thanIf you answered “yes”, you’re well on your way to approach list posts. I’ll show you a few others. However, they are a useful style of post towriting a list post. examples below, but in a sense, this type of have in your tool belt when the opportunity arises. post is similar to an essay or article, except the main points are broken down into a numbered list format. Generally, there’s a heading for each section, and a paragraph or The title of your post two under each one. Example: 10 Ways to Take Stunning Portraits. introduces the topic, and the list speaks for itself. The list can be quite bare-bones—short and to the point.15
    • Day 2 – Write a list postExamples of list posts 4.  Twitter Tools that Help You Work 10 Smarter: This is a list of resources and TODAY’S NOTESI know some of you will find today’s task easier tools that have turned out to be very popularthan others. Some have successfully written a lot with readers. Note the amount of retweetsof list posts, while others have yet to try. Some this post had on Twitter—lists can go viral! Quick tips for writinghave topics with which these types of posts fit list posts 5.  0 High Fliers on Twitter: Lists of people 1better than others. I hope that in the following are another classic type of post that often 1.  you’re stuck for ideas, head to a site like Ifexamples (both from my blogs and others), you’ll does well. They tend to cause debate, Digg or Delicious. Check out their popularfind a little inspiration to discover a type of post discussion and a few vanity link-ins from stories and take note of all the list posts andthat might work with your blog. those on the list. articles.1.  Tips for Amateur Wedding 21 6. The Logo Design Process from Start to 2. While you’re on Digg and Delicious, do a Photographers: This is a general post listing Finish: This is an example of a list that really search for keywords related to your blog a lot of tips. The tips are brief but each could is a step-by-step process. and see what others have written that has be expanded into a post of its own at some point. performed well. This could give you some 7. Top 25 fictional ads in sci-fi movies: inspiration. A little different but a good example.2. Popular Digital Cameras and Gear: This is actually a series of four lists of 3.  personal approach to writing list posts is My Also: Check out this long list of list posts products that are popular among my to start by brainstorming as many points as I written in a group writing project by readers readers. The lists rank popular products can that are relevant to the topic I’ve chosen. of ProBlogger. This list of posts has many from highest to lowest, which my readers I don’t end up using them all, and some examples (some good and some not so good) on have really appreciated. points merge and become one. However, hundreds of topics. Hopefully some of them will starting with a big list and culling it to reflect give a little inspiration.3.  Types of Pages that Every Blogger 20 only the best ideas is often a good way to Should Consider: Note the technique of start. using a small picture for each point on the list in this example. I’ve used this a number of times and it seems to work well at drawing readers’ eyes to points. I first learned the Starting with a big list and culling it to reflect only power of this technique in a post I wrote back in 2005 called 18 Lessons I’ve the best ideas is often a good way to start. Learned about Blogging.16
    • Day 2 – Write a list post When you look at this post, you notice a few EXAMPLE things about lists: INTERACT 1. The different list styles he’s used here reallyThroughout today’s exercise, I’ve linked to plenty Join the discussion on social media and see help to break up the content and differentiateof list posts. One thing that seems to bother what others have done for this task. Share a each section. Some are straight bullet items,some bloggers about list posts is that they seem link to your own post along with the hashtag others have sub-headings, others containsimple—almost too simple, in some cases. #31DBBBDay2. links, and so on.Sometimes, we want to communicate somethingmore complex than “7 Simple Ways to..” or 2. Matt’s used different list styles, but each“5 Tips to Help You...” list is consistently presented within itself. FURTHER READING Without this kind of consistency, theMatt Gartland is a master of lists—he uses them scannability that the lists are intended to If you’re after a little extra reading on the topicoften within lengthy, complex posts to break up bring to the post would be lost. Under the of writing list posts, check out this excellent andthe content, and make it more scannable. sub-heading “Publications—Magazines”, for practical post: 10 Steps to Writing the PerfectThe Little Black Book of Self-Publishing is a example, each bullet point has: List Post.great example. • its own sub-head, followed by a dash • two paragraphs of text •  link to the site mentioned, plus other a links to related information. 3. Formatting is really important with list posts. In simpler list posts, it’s easy enough to make the heading bold, for example, and the body content consistent. But as you can see in this case, the formatting of each list is what makes it easy to see and to use.17
    • DAY 3Promote a blog post
    • Day 3 – Promote a blog post 11 ways to promote a 4. Internal links: Rather than just promote TODAY’S TEACHING your post on other people’s sites, think about blog post where you can link to it from within your own site. Perhaps you’ve written on the topicMost bloggers have tried blog promotion in A quick note: do be careful in using these before and can add a link for further reading.various ways. One mistake I see a lot of bloggers techniques. Don’t use them all with every post Maybe adding a section in your sidebar formaking in their attempts to find new readers is you write. Choose your best posts and promote “Latest posts” could work. Internal linkingthat they only ever promote their blog as a whole. them selectively, in ways that are helpful to other won’t drive heaps of new traffic to yourTheir promotion is all about driving traffic to their people. posts, but it can help with SEO, and increaseblog’s home page. 1. Pitching to other bloggers: Ask another page views.While there’s nothing wrong with this, I’ve had blogger to consider linking to your post. 5. Newsletters: If you have an email newslettera lot more success in promoting individual posts There’s a real art to this; read more in list, shoot out an email about your latestthan my blog’s front page. That’s what we’re going 11 Ways to Increase Your Chances of post.to do today. Being Linked to by a Blogger. 6. Other blogs’ comments sections andHaving hit Publish on your list post yesterday, 2. Social networking: Which social networks, forums: Leaving helpful and insightfuldon’t just leave it to chance that your post will be like Twitter and Facebook, do you use? Use comments on forums or other blogs canread. Be proactive and spend a little time today them to promote your post. The key is not to be great at driving traffic if your commentgiving it some nudges to help it on its way. incessantly spam your followers and friends is genuine, relevant and sensitive to the with your link. Instead, use your network toLet’s find some ways to promote your post. discussion. Leaving a link is sometimes seed the link and let your followers spread appropriate provided it is highly relevant. the word for you. This won’t happen every time but as your network grows, it can 7. Email signatures: Including links to become more and more powerful. your blog in your outgoing emails is fairly I’ve had a lot more commonplace, but include links to recent 3. Social bookmarking: Promoting selective success in promoting links on sites like Digg or StumbleUpon can posts instead of just your blog’s home page URL. individual posts than my lead to amazing results. Further reading is available on this topic at How to Get to 8. Follow-up posts: Write a new post on your blog’s front page. the Front Page of Digg and Using Social blog that picks up where your last one left Media Sites to Grow Your Blog’s Traffic. off. This builds momentum and if you inter- link the posts, drives more page views.19
    • Day 3 – Promote a blog post9. Advertise your post: For posts that you’re Feeling timid? particularly proud of, and that have been well TODAY’S TASK received by readers, you might even consider I know that many new bloggers often feel quite a mini ad campaign with a small budget using timid and wary of promoting themselves. Don’t Take a little time to look at yesterday’s post and a service like AdWords or StumbleUpon worry: you’re not alone. I have felt that myself ask yourself where it might be appropriate to advertising. There’s further reading on this many times, and sometimes I haven’t put my work promote it. If you think the post is not really idea in Run a StumbleUpon advertising forward where perhaps I should have. However, worthy of promotion, feel free to choose a more campaign on your blog. the times when I’ve been willing to push myself out relevant post. If you don’t have one, spend some time today writing a link-worthy post and then try of my comfort zone have usually paid off.10.  itch to mainstream media: Occasionally P promoting that. your posts may be relevant to the While there’s been a few instances in my blogging mainstream media. You’d want to pick life where I’ve gained traffic from a lucky break, In most cases, I’d start with point #1 above: a really interesting post for this; it’s not traffic in big numbers has mainly been a direct Pitching to other bloggers. Choose another blog advisable for everyday content. result of me doing some promotional work. Don’t with similar content to your post, and politely submit it to that blog as a suggested link. Again, just leave it to chance—put yourself out there and11. Article marketing: I wouldn’t recommend check out 11 Ways to Increase Your Chances see what comes as a result. submitting exactly the same article you’ve of Being Linked to by a Blogger for tips that will posted on your blog to article marketing sites help increase the likelihood of success. (this can get you into trouble with Google— you could face penalties for duplicate content) but I know of a few bloggers who rewrite their key articles for article marketing purposes.I repeat, don’t do all of the above suggestions for The times when I’ve been willing toevery single post on your blog. I tend to pick oneor two posts a week to push, and let the others push myself out of my comfort zonegrow organically. have usually paid off.20
    • Day 3 – Promote a blog post TODAY’S NOTES EXAMPLE This is the Brain Pickings bot – daily blog posts, automated. For the real thing, follow @brainpicker.Final tips on promoting Brain Pickings blog owner Maria Popova promotes http://www.brainpickings.org posts widely online, but the way she approachesyour post social media is slightly unusual. Followers know that if they follow this feed, all they’ll see are the articles published on the blog—1. List all of the places where you have a nothing else. The second Twitter account, presence online, and look into the possibility @brainpicker http://twitter.com/#!/ of promoting a post through them (for brainpicker is the feed of Popova herself, example, social media, email signatures, and includes links to blog posts, as well as forums, blogs, etc.). commentary, retweets, and other information.2. List people that you have connections with Each time this blogger publishes a post, it’s who might be open to helping you promote automatically promoted through Twitter and the a post. Brain Pickings RSS feed, and pushed to Facebook. Popova has a Facebook page http:// These are automatic channels—good ones toIt won’t be appropriate to promote your post in www.facebook.com/pages/Brain- consider if you’re a little shy about self-promotion,all of these places, or to ask everyone on your list Pickings/55555550744?ref=mf as well as or you’re strapped for time.to help promote each post you write. However, two Twitter accounts. The first, @brainpickingshaving this list handy will help you each time you http://twitter.com/#!/brainpickings has this Popova also promotes the post through hercome to promote a post—you can scan down it for its bio: own Twitter account, and, if it’s really great, inand see which outlet might be the best fit for the her weekly email newsletter. These channelspost. are comparatively easy to add to an automaticThe key is relevance. Match the post you’re promotional approach once you’re comfortablepromoting with the right place and people, and with how things are going.you have a much greater chance of it beingsuccessful. Also, make sure you only do this withyour very best content.21
    • Day 3 – Promote a blog post INTERACT FURTHER READINGOnce you’ve done it, I’d love to hear how you went Stephen Guise’s time-saving bloggingabout promoting your post and what the result technique helps you automatically promote yourwas. Update your blog or social media accounts posts in social media and other locations.with the hashtag #31DBBBDay3 so we can findout how you’re doing. O  nibalusi Bamidele’s post on getting traffic to your blog also has some sound advice for article promotion. These ideas should keep you going for a while to come.22
    • DAY 4Analyze a top blog in your niche
    • Day 4 – Analyze a top blog in your niche 2. Take 15 minutes to TODAY’S TEACHING TODAY’S TASK analyze the blogToday, we’ll spend some time on a successful blog Here’s how I suggest you go about today’s task. Take a little time to analyze the blog on these points.in your niche. Rather than promoting yourself onthat blog, we’ll spend time watching, listening, 1. Identify a successful Contentand observing how the blog operates. The goalis to let what you learn help shape your own blog in your niche • What topics are they covering?blogging strategy. You might already know of these sorts of blogs, • What topics are they ignoring?A blogger can learn a lot by spending time on or you might need to do a little research. • What voice or style do they post in?other blogs—particularly those that are doing well. If you’re not sure which one to choose, head toYou can pick up all manner of ideas, strategies, • How often are they posting? Technorati’s Top 100 Blogs or Google Blogand tips. You’ll note things that the blogger does Search and attempt to find a blog on your topicwell, which you might like to emulate, as well as •  hat level are they pitching their posts at W that’s performing well. If you’re unable to find oneelements that they’re missing that could help you (for example, beginners, advanced, etc.)? that covers exactly the same topic, don’t worryto differentiate yourself. too much—choosing a blog on a related topic will Reader engagement work too. •  hat topics generate the most W conversation? •  hat styles of post seem to connect with W readers best? A blogger can learn a lot by spending time •  hat questions are readers asking in the W on other blogs—particularly those that comments? are doing well. You can pick up all manner •  hat complaints do you see readers W of ideas, strategies, and tips. making in the comments? •  hat tools or media is the site using W (for example, are they using Twitter, forums, etc.)?24
    • Day 4 – Analyze a top blog in your nicheDesign SEO Two quick words of •  hat’s your first impression from their W If you have some competence in SEO, you might warning design? like to check out how the blog’s doing in some of these areas. 1. Maintain the focus on your own blog •  hat have they done well? What have they W done poorly? •  ho is linking to this blog? (You can use W A trap some bloggers fall into is that they spend the “link: www.blogurl.com” command in so much time watching their “competitors” that •  hat options do they give readers to W Google to find out.) they reduce the time they dedicate to building subscribe? their own blog. This analysis is useful to do •  hat does their source code reveal about W every now and again, but don’t let it occur at theMonetization how they’ve set up their site? expense of other core activities on your own blog.This will give you hints as to how you might make • f they have an open or unlocked stats I 2. Be uniquemoney from your blog. package, what can you learn from their stats? Which pages are popular? Where Another trap I see some bloggers fall into is •  hat advertisers are targeting this blog? W virtually replicating every aspect of another blog. does their incoming traffic come from? It’s true that there’s a lot we can learn from •  hat type of affiliate programs are they W Really, the number of questions you could be others, and lessons we can take from what promoting? asking is limitless. What you’re attempting to do others are doing. But if you simply copy everythingTraffic with this exercise is identify what’s working well on another blog does, you’ll fail to differentiate the other blog, and establish what opportunities yourself, and potential readers will have no realYou might like to head to a site like Alexa or there might be to position your blog in the “gaps” reason to read your blog instead of others.Compete to do some analysis of the blog’s traffic that this blog is leaving open.level. Is it growing or shrinking, or has it reacheda plateau? Alexa also provides stats on page When you do this type of analysis with a numberviews, time spent on the site, sites that link in, of blogs in your niche, you should begin to seebounce rates, audience location, where people go some patterns emerging—tactics that consistentlyon the site, and more. However, I’ve found that work well for blogs in your niche, and things thatthis information isn’t always accurate. perhaps you could do that nobody else is doing.25
    • Day 4 – Analyze a top blog in your niche TODAY’S NOTES INTERACT FURTHER READINGOne more tip for You can also share, discuss, and explore this task I’ve never really considered other bloggers to be on social media. We’d be interested to hear which my “competition”, and this article explains why.analyzing successful blog you reviewed. Remember to use the hashtagblogs #31DBBBDay4.Perhaps the best way to really analyze anotherblog in your niche is to be an active reader of it.Make a list of all of the blogs that you can findin your niche. As you do this, set up an RSS Build some time into your regular bloggingsubscription to each of them so you can monitorwhat they’re writing over time. schedule to read and digest the contentBuild some time into your regular blogging that others are producing in your niche.schedule to read and digest the content thatothers are producing in your niche. As you dothis, you’ll begin to see what others are focusingon, what their readers are responding to, whattrends are emerging in your niche, and who theauthoritative voices are.You’ll learn even more about other blogs by beingan active commenter (but that’s another day inthis challenge).26
    • DAY 5Email a blog reader
    • Day 5 – Email a blog reader Take it further and make TODAY’S TEACHING TODAY’S TASK a bigger impressionToday’s task is all about building a community on The task is simply to email one new reader … This technique can really be worth investing timeyour blog and making an impression on readers or more. into each day, and there are two easy ways thatby giving them some personal attention. you can extend it to make it even more engaging: While the tip sounds simple—too simple perhaps—it’s actually a technique that I used in 1.  the person has left a link to their own If the early days of ProBlogger and it really helped blog in the comment, leave a comment on to build up reader engagement. their blog. Again, this is another technique I used in my early days of blogging, and it was What I found is that when you pay personal When you pay attention to a reader it significantly increases the certainly paramount in building readership. personal attention chances of them not only returning to your blog, but also spreading the news of your blog through 2. Respond to the comment on your blog. Sending the email is great for making an to a reader it their network. impression on the commenter themselves, significantly increases So look over the most recent comments left on but leaving a comment in your own comment section shows other readers that you’re the chances of them your blog, and identify a reader who you don’t recognize. Shoot them a quick email thanking happy to engage in conversation. It also helps build comment numbers, which can build not only returning to them for their comment. social proof and show your blog is active. your blog, but also Make sure you include a link back to your blog spreading the news so they know who you are, and make the email relevant to their comment (that is, answer a of your blog through question they asked, or add to their comment in some way). You might also like to point them to their network. your RSS feed in the email, possibly converting them into a loyal reader. While there are some tools out there that can email “new comment” leavers automatically for you, the more personal you can make it, the better.28
    • Day 5 – Email a blog readerRinse and repeat Note: Is this tip not spectacular TIP: No comments on your blog yet? enough for you? If you’re a very new blogger, you might notIf you have a few extra minutes today, do this witha handful of new readers—the more the better. Last time I shared this tip with a fellow blogger, have people leaving comments on your blogI’d also highly recommend adding this task to they rolled their eyes at me and said that they yet. If this is your situation, don’t worry; I haveyour daily routine. Commit to spending ten to didn’t want to find just one more reader for another mini task for you to do today.15 minutes a day emailing readers, and you could their blog—they wanted hundreds or thousands. Spend 10 minutes visiting other blogs onend up making an impression on thousands of your topic and leave relevant, helpful, genuine This blogger failed to realize two things:people each year. comments on these blogs. The more helpful 1. Loyal readers spread the word. I’ve found your comments, the better; making anThis simple tip takes just a moment to do, but that in many cases a single reader quickly impression with quality comments raises yourcan create a loyal, long-term reader for your blog. grows to become numerous loyal readers profile and can potentially drive traffic back toDo it at least once a day (or set yourself a higher because, when you make an impression your blog.target) and you’ll build your blog consistently over on people, it’s likely that they’ll spreadtime. the word about you. They do this through their own blogs, word-of-mouth, social networking sites, and so on. Commit to spending 2. Loyal readers build page views, One loyal reader can potentially view your blog 10 to 15 minutes a day hundreds (if not thousands) of times. A daily visit from that reader for a year brings an emailing readers, and extra 365 page views to your blog. Gain an you could end up extra loyal reader every day for a full year and the numbers start to add up. making an impression While there’s nothing wrong with attracting on thousands of people thousands of new readers to your blog quickly, each year. the majority will leave just as quickly as they arrived. Building loyal readers one by one on a daily basis can be a lot more fruitful in the long run.29
    • Day 5 – Email a blog reader TODAY’S NOTES EXAMPLE INTERACTAs I already mentioned, it’s important to make What should you say to a blog reader? That’s How are you going with building a loyal readershipyour email as personal as possible. Show the up to you! But here’s one example of an actual through engagement? Discuss your approachreader that you’re not just sending automated email that I sent to one of my Digital Photography with others on social media using the hashtagspam emails—refer to their comments, comment School readers. I emailed him because he’s been #31DBBBDay5.on their blog (if they have one), contribute to an active commenter on our blog in the last fewa point they made in their comment, or ask a months, and I wanted him to know his commentsrelevant question. have been noticed and appreciated. FURTHER READINGOne other quick tip: if the person has left a It took me a few moments to write, but hopefully 13 Types of Posts that Always Get Lots ofparticularly insightful comment or demonstrates tells one of our readers that they’re a valued part Comments is good reading for those who are stillthat they know what they’re talking about, ask of the site. trying to entice readers to comment.if they’d be interested in expanding upon theircomment with a guest post on your blog. Hi Paul—it’s Darren from Digital Photography Should You Respond to Comments via Email School here. I noticed your comment today on or in Comments? provides two options forI’ve done this more than a few times, and the my recent sunset photography tutorial and just interacting with readers and both have theirresults have always been fantastic. As well as wanted to say thanks for leaving the comment place.engaging with a reader, it also brings a fresh voice and the encouragement.and perspective to your blog, and builds uponthe ideas presented in previous posts, creating I also took a look at the links of the photos onmomentum. Flickr that you mentioned—nice work. Great to see some good examples on the topic—it really adds to the post to have them shared. Thanks for reading dPS and for being such a regular commenter—it means a lot to me. Darren Rowse30
    • DAY 6Make your blog mobile-friendly
    • Day 6 – Make your blog mobile-friendly TODAY’S TEACHING TODAY’S TASK Make notes as you go. What do you like? What makes it difficult to move around a blog on your mobile? How easy is it to access comments,It’s easy to pretend we don’t really need to worry Today’s task is to make your blog mobile-friendly. share a post, and find other posts on each blog?about making our blogs mobile-friendly. After all, If it’s already mobile-friendly, use this opportunitymobile devices come with browsers installed, so to investigate mobile-site plugins or functionality How does your mobile-neutral blog stack upit’s not as if our readers can’t access our blogs that you could use to enhance your readers’ against the others you’ve seen? If you’re eager toon the go. experience of your blog through mobile devices. take advantage of the possibilities that mobile can offer to you—and your readers—you’ll be pleasedIt’s also tempting to rely on the blogging platform to hear that it’s not difficult.you’ve chosen when it comes to mobile. “I’m sure Don’t have a mobileWordPress has that stuff all under control” is a Back on your computer, head to the supportcommon thought in blogging circles. version of your blog? forums for the blog platform you use. Search for “mobile blog” or “mobile version” and look throughTo be fair, your readers probably can access your The best place to get a feel for mobile blog the conversations to see what other users areblog without too much difficulty through their options is … on your phone! Grab your phone saying, and what tools they’re recommending.browsers. But is that the best experience you can and navigate to your blog. Don’t just land on theprovide for them? homepage—try navigating to a story, make a From here, the world’s your oyster, but if you need comment, and so on. extra help, speak to a designer, blogging buddies,There are also other benefits to be gained from or ask around your social networks for help andcreating a mobile version of your blog—including TIP: Don’t forget your tablet advice.mobile-specific advertising revenue. Doing this kind of research on a tablet is alsoLet’s look more closely at mobile blogs. handy, but it’s probably a good idea to make TIP: My recommendation phone research your priority, since the interface The ProBlogger and Digital Photography is so much smaller: if a blog works well on a School blogs use the WPTouch Pro plugin, phone, it’s likely to work well on a tablet, too. and has since 2009. It’s definitely a plugin I’d recommend for those running WordPress blogs. Next, check out the blogs of some of your competitors. This research will give you a snapshot of the offerings that other bloggers are using—and an idea of the kinds of interfaces your readers are interacting with.32
    • Day 6 – Make your blog mobile-friendlyAlready have a mobile 3. Review your post titles and text TODAY’S NOTESversion of your blog? How do your post titles appear when they’re listed in your blog’s mobile interface? Do they demandIf you’ve already created a mobile version of your If you’re running a professional blog, you really the readers’ attention? Do they tell readers whatblog—perhaps using a mobile theme like the need a mobile version of your site. It’s easier they’ll get if they click on the link?WordPress Mobile Pack or a dedicated mobile for users, it can be better for your bottom line,design service like Mobify—then perhaps it’s time And what about your posts themselves? How do and it lets you make the most of the mobileto look into some of the other aspects of blogging they read on a mobile device? It sounds odd, but environment.for mobile devices. what works on a laptop or desktop often loses One thing I’ve found valuable is to keep an eye on time-strapped, physically jostled mobile users. Can1. Review what’s out there the mobile stats just as you do your site stats. you work toward some content compromises that See how usage of your mobile blog changes as work for both groups of readers?Those busy plugin developers are always you tweak and update the mobile version. Keepupgrading, updating, and overhauling. Check the an eye on your ad revenues, commenting stats,status of the service or plugin you use, to make TIP: What about mobile blogging? and so on. This is the best way to measure thesure there isn’t extra functionality you could be If you’re often on the go yourself, why not impacts of the work you do on your mobile site—taking advantage of to improve your mobile blog’s consider the mobile blogging functionality of and put yourself in the best position to makeuser experience. the blog platform you use? Most platforms give advantageous changes in future. bloggers the ability to write and publish posts—2. Review your use of images and other media complete with images, tags, and so on—from Of course, if you really want to get inside the mobile devices. Check your network’s support heads of mobile users who visit your blog on theirMost of the plugins and services handle images, phones, you could always survey them. pages for details.videos, and downloads within posts fairly well, butdo check how the images on your site appear on This can be particularly useful for getting insightsyour mobile blog. Could you present them more into where they access your blog (On publiceffectively? Reviewing a few of your posts on your transport? While they’re at lunch?) and how muchphone can be an illuminating experience. See how usage of your or why they engage with your posts—downloading PDFs, commenting, or sharing, for example— mobile blog changes as when they’re on the go. you tweak and update the mobile version.33
    • Day 6 – Make your blog mobile-friendly INTERACT FURTHER READINGShow us your mobile blog! And see others’ … For the story of my initial foray into monetizing myusing the hashtag #31DBBBDay6. blogs’ mobile traffic, see How I Monetize Mobile Traffic on My Blogs. If you’re curious about what mobile devices mean for content, see Brian Milne’s article, Writing for Mobile Blog Readers. Are you tracking your mobile visitor levels? For a brief overview, see Count Your Mobile Device Traffic.34
    • DAY 7Write a link post
    • Day 7 – Write a link post 4. It can help your SEO efforts. Some SEO TODAY’S TEACHING TODAY’S TASK professionals argue that linking out to related content in your niche using relevant keywords as anchor text can affect how the searchSomeone once asked how I built a readership on Today, your task is to reclaim the practice of engines see your site. You’d want to avoidmy first blog. One of the answers I gave was that linking to other blogs—also called outbound going over the top and linking out too much,I was generous linking to other blogs. linking—by writing a post that highlights what but a few links to quality content on your another blogger (or bloggers) in your niche hasI wasn’t alone. Back then, blogging revolved topic may well show a search engine that written.around the link. One blogger would write a post your blog is worthy of authority. It’s certainlyand hundreds of others would link to it with posts Today, we’ll write a link post—a post that links up not the main factor in search algorithms, butthat built upon the initial post’s ideas in some way. to at least one other blog. many argue that it helps.The result was that: Reasons to link from your blog to others include: The key with this task is to link to content that’s valuable—content that your readers will find it1. ideas spread across the blogosphere quickly 1. It’s a great way to give something of relevant and helpful to them. value to your readers. While your readers2. relationships between bloggers grew with come to your blog to read what you have to Of course, building this practice into your blogging each link say, I find that they’re always appreciative of means you need to be aware of what’s happening links to quality content. in your particular part of the web. To do this you’ll3. everyone’s blogs grew. probably want to: 2. It builds your credibility. RegularlyWhile this still happens today on blogs to some highlighting what others are writing in your 1. subscribe to other blogs and sites in yourdegree, much of the sharing of links has moved niche shows your readers that you’re abreast nicheto other media, like Twitter, Facebook, and social of developments in your field, and that you’rebookmarking sites. Nowadays, bloggers rarely link 2.  atch social bookmarking sites that cover w connected to the network.to other blogs on their blog because they’re either topics in your industrydoing it elsewhere or they feel that by linking, 3. It helps you to build relationships withthey’d be helping a competitor. 3. subscribe to news alerts with tools like other bloggers. There’s nothing like sending Google Alerts. another blogger traffic to make an impression and build connections. Not only that, but when you link to others in a constructive way that actually builds upon their ideas and adds value to a conversation they’ve started, it can often lead to ongoing interactions.36
    • Day 7 – Write a link post6 types of link 2. Take the opposite point of view. Another  see this approach in action, have a To way to bounce off a peer blogger’s post is look at DIY Lighting Hacks for Digitalposts to consider to explore the opposing point of view. You Photographers. This post was simply a might do this to play the devil’s advocate, or collection of tutorials that others had writtenThere are many options for linking to another because you actually believe the opposite of on a particular topic. I included a picture andblog in a way that’s valuable. Let me give you what they’re saying is true. Of course, this is short description of each one as a list. Thea few suggestions that go beyond just giving unlikely to build a relationship with the other post was passed around the web via manyyour readers a link and a recommendation to blogger if you do it in a way that offends, so social media sites. This ProBlogger post,“go read it”. if you disagree with them, be sure to do so 27 Must-read Tips and Tutorials for1. Build upon the points of others. Take an respectfully and thoughtfully. Bloggers, is another example of this. article by someone and contribute some 3. Build a resource on a topic. Pick a topic 4. Try speed linking. I used to do this regularly perspectives that they might have overlooked that’s relevant to your blog, and spend some on ProBlogger (here’s an example speed or left out. A classic way to do this is to time reading what other bloggers in your linking post, but note that I’ve moved most take a list post that a blogger has written niche have written on the topic previously. of it over to my Twitter account). The idea and add an extra couple of points of your You’ll probably end up with a list of posts was that on a given day, I’d link to five or six own. For example, if someone writes a post from other blogs on the one topic. You could posts that I came across in my reading for called 21 Ways to Write Posts that Are present them simply as a list of links, or you that day. The links covered a broad range of Guaranteed to Grow Your Blog, write a could state the main points from each post, topics that I felt were relevant to my readers. post called 3 More Ways to Write Posts or even use quotes from each one. These that Are Guaranteed to Grow Your Blog This form of link post has great potential. types of posts often do well on social media that links to the first post. Your post might A while ago, I wrote a post, 25 Great sites—particularly if you gather a large list of pick up on a few of the points and then Photography Tutorials and Links from helpful resources on the topic. extend the article by suggesting three of Around the Web. It was simply a collection your own. of a few great tutorials that others had written around the time I published the post, plus a few of my own links from our archives. Pick a topic that’s relevant to your blog, and spend This post made it to the front page of Digg and other social media sites simply because some time reading what other bloggers in your niche it contained some great tutorials. have written on the topic previously.37
    • Day 7 – Write a link post5. Conduct one-question interviews. This TODAY’S NOTES EXAMPLE tactic is pretty straightforward: you shoot a question out to another blogger, or bloggers, to gain their perspective on a topic that’s Ridiculously Extraordinary’s Karol Gadja links Tip: Collecting links for link posts off-site in his link post How (Not) to Find a relevant to your readers. It takes a little coordination and some planning, but it’s A key to successful link posts is to be across Sponsor for Your Cause, Website, Business, or always worthwhile. I find this type of post what people are writing about in your niche. As Event. This post tells the story of his efforts to most effective when you email the same I mentioned in Day 4, it’s important to be aware gain sponsorship for a Rollercoaster Tour, which question to a handful of bloggers in your of, and actively follow, other blogs and sites in gives the links context. niche, then compile all the answers into one your niche. The fact that the links are spaced out, and post, side-by-side, so your readers can see One task that I do to help me record useful there’s a relatively low proportion of links to different perspectives. Of course, don’t forget resources and links in my niche is to use a text is often seen by readers as giving the links to link to the blogs of each of the people you bookmarking site like Delicious [delicious.com]. more importance or value. Seeing as he’s been interviewed! I’ve set up an account there, and when I find an sparing with the links, readers feel certain that6. Suggest further reading and give interesting article that I think people will find the resources and people he’s linked to are worth examples. Another common way of linking to useful, I simply bookmark it with a specific tag looking at. others, as well as creating value for readers that I use when I think the post is worth sharing and adding depth to your posts, is to include with my readers. Then, when I come to do a link links to what others are saying on a topic post, I have a ready-made list of links to share. in the day-to-day writing of your blog posts. You could do the same thing by bookmarking Your post might not be a link post in and of itself—instead, you may be covering a topic posts in your browser, having a text file that you A key to successful dump links into, or setting up a Twitter account comprehensively from your own perspective. to keep the links on. The key is to have some link posts is to be But don’t let this stop you from suggesting further reading links at the end of the post. kind of system to capture the best stuff that you can share later. across what peopleThese are six suggestions, but there are so many are writing aboutothers that you could try. For more ideas, check in your niche.out a post I wrote called How to Add to BloggingConversations … and Eliminate the EchoChamber.38
    • Day 7 – Write a link post INTERACT FURTHER READINGShow us your link post! Don’t be shy: let us know There are some great resources that deal withhow you’ve gone with today’s task by sharing your the topic of linking:experience on social media using the hashtag#31DBBBDay7. •  Reasons You Should Link Out to 5 Others from Your Website •  sing Outbound Links to Improve Your U Blog •  onthly trends + ten tips for a flawless M lining strategy39
    • DAY 8Choose a social media space to focus on
    • Day 8 – Choose a social media space to focus on TODAY’S TEACHING TODAY’S TASK Which network best suits your brand?It’s fair to say that social media channels are If you don’t have a presence for your blog on anyextremely popular with bloggers. I’m a big social social media, that’s great—you’re starting this The other question I’d ask is, “Which networkmedia user—I have accounts on Facebook, task from scratch. suits my brand?”Twitter, and Google+ for my different sites, and If your blog does have a social media presence, I’d Some networks simply don’t suit some brands.use them all daily. like you to take a deep breath, step back from the As an example, my Twitter tips blog, Twitip.com,That said, there are some bloggers who still see work you’ve done on that network, and distance doesn’t have a Facebook page. Facebook isn’t thesocial media as a waste of time. And given the yourself from any one network for the moment. place for a blog about Twitter, is it? Logically, it’s atime and energy many bloggers spend scrambling no-go.to build a profile on the latest social network, it Now, in considering any communications channel, you need to consider two things: your audience The choice of networks may not be so clear-cutcan seem like these media are time drains. and your brand. for your blog, but it’s still a good idea to thinkLike any communications channel, you really about which network will suit your brand best.should assess whether your blog’s readers usea given network before you dive in to building a Which network does yourpresence there. audience use? Where’s the opportunity?That’s what today’s task is all about: taking a Finally, you can put these two factors together In considering your audience, the key question youlogical, thoughtful approach to your blog’s social to identify where you feel your time will be best want to ask is, “Which social media networks aremedia presence. spent, in terms of the market size you’ll be able to they using?” reach through social media.Whether or not you’ve already established a The best way to start answering that questionpresence on a given network, this task should I’m not talking about the size of the social might be to ask it of your readers—perhaps in ahelp you to think more strategically about your networks themselves, but where more people like post, poll, or email. While this seems simple, youefforts. your current blog readers are spending their time. might be surprised by the answers you get. Searching for your blog topic’s key words and phrases on the social network will help you to get an idea of who else is operating in that network, Some networks simply don’t suit some brands. and how many followers and fans they have.41
    • Day 8 – Choose a social media space to focus onThis should give you some kind of indication ofhow strong the audience is for your topic on that TODAY’S NOTES INTERACTnetwork—and what the competition is like. I think the one thing that’s difficult for most people What happened when you stood back from socialPersonally, I believe the first issue is more to allow for in their social media strategy is the media and looked at how it might—or might not—important than the second, since “competitors” fact that for many, many of us, social media is fun. help you engage with readers? Tell us on yourcan often become allies on social media, social media network of choice using the hashtagreposting your updates and engaging with you in When you think about the other channels we #31DBBBDay8.positive ways. In that vein, try checking the blogs use to communicate with readers—email,of your “competitors” to see which social networks advertisements, guest posts—social media’sthey’re active on. about as fun as it gets. FURTHER READINGYou might also want to review the social media Of course, we use our blogs for communication,activity of other businesses or operators in your How far should you go in building community but where the daily tasks of writing posts,space who aren’t direct blogging competitors. through social media—rather than on your blog responding to comments, and so on can becomeAfter all, social media is a great way to connect itself? I explained my thoughts on this question in daunting, the real-time engagement on socialwith peers, advertisers, mentors, and others with Home Bases and Outposts—How I Use Social media seems to retain its sense of fun.whom you can collaborate to help grow your blog. Media in my Blogging So participating in social media meets a lot ofAnswering these questions should help you to E  ach network offers its own advantages and needs for a lot of bloggers. By the same token,clarify which social network—or networks—are disadvantages. I took a close look at Google+ in the fact that it’s fun, and we convince ourselvesgoing to be good places to build an engaged Why Bloggers Should Consider Engaging on we’re using it to build our blogs, can see uscommunity and profile for your blog. Google+ spend more time on social media than is really constructive. We might even use it as an excuse “Influencers” are an important part of socialTIP: Use this approach elsewhere to neglect other things we should be doing to media—and social media jargon! They’re touted asThe process we’ve just stepped through could develop our blogs. something of a holy grail for social media success,also be applied to other online services, like but reaching them is tough, as Dan Zarella Taking a more strategic approach to selectingsocial bookmarking sites, different forums or explains in Influencers are Real, But they’re social media, like the one I’ve outlined here,communities you’re considering joining, and so on. Not Always Who You Expect should help you to keep that kind of time-wasting in check, and maintain a strong focus on your   goals for social networking.42
    • DAY 9 Join a forum andstart participating
    • Day 9 – Join a forum and start participating 2. Driving traffic: Create value and become a TODAY’S TEACHING useful resource in a forum, and people will TODAY’S TASK want to know more about who you are and what you do. You’ll sometimes also have theOne of the questions I always ask new bloggers Your task today is to join a forum that relates opportunity to share some relevant links towhen it comes to finding readers for their blog to the topic of your blog. If you’ve already joined things you’ve written via your forum signatureis: Where are your potential readers already one, spend 10 or 15 minutes participating in the or profile page.gathering online? One of the places I encourage discussions there.them to go looking for those potential readers is 3. Understanding your niche: The hiddenon forums on topics related to their blogs. The key to participating valuably in a forum is to benefit of joining a little-known forum is that it spend time being as useful as possible to the can provide fertile ground for gathering ideasForums are fantastic places for bloggers to people there. Your main activity should not be to and understanding the needs of potentialparticipate, because they provide a number of leave links to your blog everywhere. Instead, focus blog readers. Go to any forum, and you’ll seeopportunities: on answering questions, making connections, that the same questions are usually asked and generally being as useful as you can to other1. Profile building: Put consistent time into a over and over again. These questions actually members of the forum. large forum on your topic and you can build annoy some regular forum members, but a significant profile in your niche. I’ve seen as a blogger, you should take note of such questions, and write posts that answer Note: Keep looking it happen in my own photography forum numerous times—bloggers have provided them. After all, they usually signal a problem If you can’t find a forum on your specific topic, value and shown off their expertise … and in or need that your potential readers have on look for one on a related topic. If you can’t find any the process, they’ve actually developed fans those topics. I know if I’m ever in need of a at all, perhaps it’s a signal that you should start among the forums’ users. topic to write about on my blogs, forums are one at some point. Forums can actually be great one of the first places that I go looking for additions to blogs. inspiration. Go to any forum, and you’ll see that the same questions are usually asked over and over again. These questions actually annoy some regular forum members, but as a blogger, you should take note of such questions, and write posts that answer them.44
    • Day 9 – Join a forum and start participating TODAY’S NOTES EXAMPLE INTERACTIn my browser, I have a folder of bookmarks, The way you participate in forums can have a Found some good forums in your niche? Sharecalled Forums, that includes all the forums with significant impact on perceptions of your authority, them—and your progress—on social media usingwhich I have an account. I set aside 15 to 30 experience, and generosity within your niche. the hashtag #31DBBBDay9.minutes every day to interact in forums. Whenthat time comes, I simply right-click on the forum The Tutorials section of the dPS forums is afolder and select “Open All in Tabs”, which opens good place to see participation in action. FURTHER READINGup all the forums I’ve bookmarked immediately One contributor who’s made a real name forin separate tabs. I then quickly move through Build Your Blog With Forum Traffic, in which himself over the year is Richard Taylor. As wellthe forums, looking for opportunities to provide Skellie suggests four strategies on this topic. as engaging with others to the tune of morespeedy answers to questions, or give tips. than 3,000 forum posts, he’s also contributed a H  ow to Use Forums to Drive Hundreds ofSome forums also allow you to subscribe via RSS number of photography tutorials, including these: Thousands of Readers to Your Blog is a storyto conversation threads. If you really want to stay from an anonymous reader who built a successful White Balanceon top of conversations in a forum, subscribing blog using this technique.to key threads can be a great idea—that way Street Night Photographyyou’ll hear of anything new in the forum, as wellas keeping abreast of the discussions that are Aperturealready taking place. Shutter Speed The way you participate Have a look at the responses his tutorials get in forums can have a from other readers, and you’ll get an idea of the standing Richard has among the community—all significant impact on because of his generous contributions to the forums. perceptions of your authority, experience, and generosity within your niche.45
    • DAY 10Set up alerts to monitor what’s happening in your niche
    • Day 10 – Set up alerts to monitor what’s happening in your niche Reasons to be aware of 3. Profile-building and establishing perceived TODAY’S TEACHING expertise: Bloggers who are obviously aware what others are talking of what’s happening in their niche are oftenI’m often asked by friends, family, and readers about in your niche seen as experts, and authorities in their industry. I know of a number of bloggershow I spend my time during an average day of There are quite a few reasons why bloggers and Twitter users who’ve built profiles forblogging. monitor what’s being said on other blogs and in themselves simply by having their fingersThey’re often surprised to hear that while I the news on their topic. These include: on the pulse of their niche, and linking todefinitely do a fair bit of writing, there are a interesting, useful content on other sites. 1. Ideas for posts: One of the main challengesnumber of other activities that take up quite a bit that bloggers face at different times is 4. Networking: Using some of the alert toolsof my focus. running out of topics to blog about. Keeping we’ll discuss in a moment will enable youThese important activities that I spend abreast of what others are writing about to know who’s talking about issues that areconsiderable time on as a blogger include gives you an almost unlimited supply of ideas. relevant to your niche within a short timewatching, monitoring, reading, and listening to It also helps you to keep your posts current, of them doing so. This enables you to makewhat others are writing or saying on their blogs since you know what’s buzzing in your niche connections and build relationships withand social media accounts. at any given point in time. these people. 2. Being aware of breaking news: This point 5. Managing your reputation: Knowing when is more relevant for some niches than others are talking about you, your company, others, but in many cases, knowing when a your brands, and your blog is valuable. That story is breaking in your industry can be very knowledge enables you to build relationships important. Being unaware of such stories with those who are saying positive things can make your blog seem out of touch to about you, and to manage any negative talk. readers wanting to know the latest. Bloggers who are obviously aware of what’s happening in their niche are often seen as experts, and authorities in their industry.47
    • Day 10 – Set up alerts to monitor what’s happening in your niche 2. Twitter Alerts: There are countless tools will indicate when stories are breaking in TODAY’S TASK to help you monitor what’s being said on your industry, but won’t overwhelm you with Twitter. Some are built into Twitter clients results. (for example, TweetDeck has a great one),Today, your task is to set up alerts and watchlists but others include Monitter (allows live 2. Vanity alerts: These are keywords thatfor your blog’s niche. monitoring but also gives you an RSS feed are specifically relevant to you. They include for words), Twendz, Twitter’s Search (you your personal name, your blog’s name, yourThere are plenty of services around to help you can set up an RSS feed for any keyword), company name, your brand names, and evenkeep track of what people are writing. I’d love and Twitter Hawk (a paid service that URLs.for you to suggest those that you use when youupdate us on your progress with this task through allows you not only to monitor but respondsocial media (see Interact below), but here are to tweets on keywords).the two that I use most: Warning: Monitor in1. Google News and Blog Alerts: Google As I mentioned above, there are many tools around to do this type of monitoring. The key is to moderation Alerts will show you any mention of keywords find one or two that fit with your style and rhythm Let me finish with a word of warning. in news sources (for example, newspapers), of blogging, and to regularly check them. Don’t become obsessed with monitoring on blogs, in videos, on the web, or even in what others are saying. Google Groups. You can choose to be alerted about specific categories, or all of them, and What types of alerts While I do believe you can significantly enhance you have the opportunity to receive alerts via email or RSS feeds at various intervals. should you set up? your blog if you’re aware of what others are doing in your niche, monitoring can become a Let me outline a few types of alerts that you could distraction—if not an obsession. The key with all set up. These are the two that I most commonly blogging tasks is to undertake them in a balanced use: way. Set up some alerts today, and keep an eye on them. But don’t forget to actually do some 1. Industry words: These are words that are writing yourself: don’t just watch what others relevant to your blog’s niche. For example, write! if you blog about the wedding industry, you might like to monitor terms like “wedding dress”. If you blog about Britney Spears, you’ll want to be watching for any use of her name. The point is to find keywords that48
    • Day 10 – Set up alerts to monitor what’s happening in your niche TODAY’S NOTES INTERACTSetting up alerts is fairly simple. Here’s what I do: See what others are saying about today’s task by doing a search on social media for the1. List keywords that are relevant to my blog. #31DBBBDay10 hashtag … and don’t forget Some of the words that you used in your to add your thoughts to the mix, too. elevator pitch from our task on Day #1 might work. FURTHER READING2. Once I have the list, I start typing them into the alert tool that I’m using to get an idea of the results. If you’re unsure which alert tool There are many ways you can use alerts. to use, start with Google Alerts. Jane Sheeba’s article Efficient Blog Commenting: Save Your Time and Energy3. Sometimes it takes time to find the right delves into one of them. keywords, because some words return no results while others return more than you can realistically monitor. Keep trying!4.  generally let an alert run for a week before I I decide whether to keep it running or not. That way, I can see the number of alerts I’ll receive, and assess how helpful they’re likely to be.49
    • DAY 11Come up with10 post ideas
    • Day 11 – Come up with ten post ideas 1. The setup TODAY’S TEACHING TODAY’S TASK Grab a whiteboard, piece of paper, notebook,Ever run out of things to talk about on your blog? Come up with a list of at least ten future topics computer, or something else to write on. ThereIf your answer is “yes”, you’re not alone. to write about. You can do this quite easily using are also various mind mapping tools and software mind mapping. Let’s step through the process options available, but I find a pen and paperOne of the biggest challenges facing bloggers now. work just fine. Now, draw five circles across thewith blogs that have been around for longer than middle of the page. In each circle write the titlesa few months is to come up with fresh content of the last five posts on your blog, as I’ve doneon a regular basis. below. Note that if you want to do this more comprehensively, you can go back further and doToday your task is to complete an exercise that it with more posts.will identify a range of post topics that you canuse when you’re stuck for a post idea in future.The key with this process is not to put yourself 2nd 3rd 4th 5thunder pressure to come up with completely Last Last Last Last Lastnew and out-of-the-blue ideas for every post you Post Post Post Post Postwrite. Instead, this process taps into what you’verecently written on your blog, and helps you toidentify ways to extend those ideas.The beauty of this approach is that you actuallyend up building a sense of momentum on yourblog, where your posts build upon and relate towhat you’ve previously written, rather than just One of the biggest challenges facing bloggerswriting a collection of posts that fail to grow in with blogs that have been around for longer thanany one direction. a few months is to come up with fresh content on a regular basis.51
    • Day 11 – Come up with ten post ideas2. Extend your previous Let me take an older post of mine (Why You These ideas are logical next steps for readers Should Use AdSense on Your Blog) and show wanting to explore this topic, some of them based posts you how it might work: upon actual questions from readers. Do this with the other four posts you’ve written, and you’llNow take each post in turn, and spend a few At this point, I have seven potential new posts to have plenty of ideas for new posts to cover in theminutes brainstorming ways that it could be write that extend upon my original one. Coming up coming week or two.extended. Most posts that you write will be able with them took me two to three minutes, but if Ito extend in any number of directions. Here are were doing this seriously I’d give it more time anda few examples: come up with 20 or so posts. •  icking up a question or idea that a reader p asked in the comments on that post Write a post collecting links •  xploring the opposite point of view from e from around the web to help the post people improve Write a post AdSense • aking a news post and writing an opinion t bouncing off earnings Why You questions from piece about it SHOULDN’T readers about how to monetize Use AdSense • aking a theoretical post and writing a piece t small blogs with on Your Blog that helps people to implement the theory little traffic •  xpanding upon ideas glossed over in e Why You passing in the previous post. SHOULD use 10 Ways to Improve Your Write a case AdSense on AdSenseThe list could go on. Really, this task is about study on a Your Blog Earningsfinding ways to take ideas in a previous post and blogger who is making moneyexpand upon them. from AdSenseFor each idea, draw a line out from the circle, Interviewdraw a square (or use a different color), and write someone at Answer Andy’s AdSense aboutthe idea inside it. question about how bloggers getting reaccepted can improve theirThe key at this point is to let yourself be as creative into AdSense after earningsand outside-the-box as you want. Any idea is allowed. being banned52
    • Day 11 – Come up with ten post ideas3. Extend further Let’s do it now with the post below, just for fun. Remember: Everything that you post on your You can see that I found some posts easier to blog either adds to, or detracts from, your blog’sYou might want to stop this exercise at this point extend than others. This is okay—not every post is perceived value. Not everything that you come upif you feel you have enough topics to keep you in need of a follow up, but some will have multiple with should make it through to the front page ofgoing. However, while you’re in a brainstorming possibilities, and some will lend themselves to the your blog.frame of mind, why not take it a step further creation of a longer series of posts. At this point your list probably won’t contain muchand think about how you might extend the topics From the example below, you can see that more than the topics or titles of your posts. Ifyou’ve come up with? I’ve come up with 15 ideas—not bad for five you’re feeling inspired, you might like to chooseThe beauty of thinking forward even further is minutes of brainstorming! The key is to let your one of them to begin shaping into an actual post,that you could quickly come up with another creativity run wild, because it can take you in but don’t feel you need to do that yet. Tomorrow,10 or so posts, and be able to map out your some wonderful directions. Then, once the we’re going to look at the list of topics and helpnext few weeks of blogging. brainstorming’s done, be ruthless in culling you to take them to the next step by creating an ideas that don’t add significantly to your blog. editorial calendar for your next week of blogging. 10 alternatives Write a post to AdSense Tip: Another approach for newer blogs Case study collecting links for bloggers on a blog’s first from around the If yours is a very new blog, you may only have 3 months web to help people improve a few posts in your archives to base this mind Write a post AdSense bouncing off earnings Why You mapping exercise on. In that case, use the questions from SHOULDN’T readers about Use AdSense same principle, but instead of making your five how to monetize Common small blogs with on Your Blog Mistakes that starting circles refer to previous posts, use little traffic bloggers make 5 Ad networks with AdSense them to name categories of information that for beginner Why You bloggers SHOULD use 10 Ways to your blog might cover. Improve Your Write a case AdSense on Series on AdSense study on a Your Blog AdSense Design blogger who is Earnings For example, if your blog is about personal making money from AdSense finance, you could make your starting circles Series on Interview Adsense Ad reflect subtopics of that overarching topic: someone at Answer Andy’s AdSense about Placement budgeting, saving, investing, credit, and career, question about how bloggers Regular Series getting reaccepted can improve their for example. Once you’ve got your categories or of case studies into AdSense after on successful being banned earnings subtopics, you can then pick up the exercise at bloggers step two, extending those subtopics into post Post on ways ideas or topics within the subtopic. to get banned from AdSense53
    • Day 11 – Come up with ten post ideas TODAY’S NOTES EXAMPLE INTERACTThe process I’ve outlined here is one I try to I can’t say for certain, but I have the feeling that Share your ideas and see how others are doingcomplete on at least a monthly basis. I set aside Pace and Kyeli at connection-revolution.com by updating your status on social media using thetime at the start of each month to brainstorm as came up with the WCWW2 Tasty Treat series hashtag #31DBBBDay11. Perhaps some othersmany topics as I can. as a result of brainstorming. The series promotes will be able to help you with post ideas. You never a product that these bloggers have created—a know!I use other methods in addition to mind mapping product which spawned a number of post ideas.as part of this process. I also keep a list ofquestions I receive from readers over email or in So, while the Tasty Treats work really well as apost comments, as well as watching what other standalone series, and have a sense of coherencepeople are writing about in my niche. and continuity around them, I can imagine that their mind map, if they made one, might haveFinally, I have an Ideas text document on my had a few other bubbles coming off the maincomputer’s desktop, in which I’m constantly “WCWW2” starting point. And as you canwriting ideas for posts. This way, at a moment’s see, the posts work well together to provide anotice, I can find a topic to write about that’s complete, contextualized picture of this topic.relevant to my audience. That’s one of the big advantages of brainstorming a number of ideas in one sitting.54
    • DAY 12 Develop an editorialcalendar for your blog
    • Day 12 –Develop an editorial calendar for your blog 4. For each post that you slot in, write a TODAY’S TEACHING TODAY’S TASK sentence or two about what it’s about (so you’re able to remember later in the week). I often also take a moment or two at thisYesterday, your task was to come up with a list of Today’s task is to develop a publication schedule point to brainstorm some of the main pointsat least 10 post ideas for your blog. The thinking or editorial calendar. If you already have one, for the post. If any examples, illustrations,was to spend time coming up with ideas before fantastic—now might be a good time to review it pictures, or related posts that I’ve previouslyyou needed the posts. Doing this releases you and add in the post ideas you created yesterday. written come to mind, I make note of thesefrom the pressure of having to brainstorm ideas If you don’t already have a publication schedule or too.every day: you can focus on writing instead. editorial calendar, here’s how I created mine. Let me say at this point that the plan I createToday’s task is to take the list you created through this process is not always reflected in theyesterday and plan your posting schedule(or editorial calendar) for next week. I attempt How to develop a weekly way that I actually roll out posts. My blogging style is a little more fluid than this, and I tend to addto do this on a weekly basis for each of my blogs,usually on Sunday night or Monday morning. editorial calendar new posts into the mix, reorder posts, and extend single posts into series as the days pass. 1. Calculate how many posts you want to post in the coming week on your blog. However, going through this exercise is fantastic because it means I have a week’s worth of post 2. Set up a spreadsheet or Word document ideas at my fingertips. It also means that I have with a table that has a slot for each post, as ideas that I can use when writing each post in well as the date and time the post needs to my plan; this gives me a head-start on writing, go live on your blog. and means that I can usually get right down to business on the days I need to write posts. 3. Take the list of ideas that you brainstormed yesterday, and place them into the empty slots in the table. As I do this, I often have new ideas for posts that might make good follow-ups to those I’m planning. I slot these into the schedule too.56
    • Day 12 –Develop an editorial calendar for your blogAnother editorial TODAY’S NOTES EXAMPLEcalendar idea to considerAnother way that some bloggers approach Developing an editorial calendar is particularly There are as many ways to set up an editorialeditorial calendars is to come up with a “weekly useful for helping a blog remain balanced in a calendar as there are bloggers! Here are a couplerhythm” of posts for their blog. Put simply, they variety of ways: of examples from our archives.assign a different type of post for each day of • Topic: Sometimes when I do this exercise, Here’s an example of the pretty straightforwardthe week, and stick to that rhythm over the I realize that my blog has become a little calendar that I used to schedule content on bothlong term. one-dimensional, always focusing upon ProBlogger and Digital Photography School.For example, Mondays might be list post day, a particular aspect of my blog’s niche.Tuesdays might be link post day, Wednesdays Developing an editorial calendar helps memight be opinion/rant day, Thursdays might be to be intentional about covering a variety ofreview day, and so on. The blogger then knows topics that are relevant to my readers.the style of post for each day and just has to slot • Style of writing: One thing that manyin topics that fit each style. bloggers do well is write different types of posts. They throw in a review, a rant, a how-to or tutorial, a list post, an interview,TIP: Editorial Calendar plugin or a humorous piece. Planning theseIf your blog uses WordPress, why not give publications in an editorial calendar can And here’s a screenshot of an editorial calendarthe Editorial Calendar plugin a try? Many help you to vary the style of voice you write that’s color-coded to reflect the different types ofProBlogger readers use it and recommend it. in, without making your blog seem too posts that are scheduled. fragmented. Another way that some bloggers approach editorial calendars is to come up with a “weekly rhythm” of posts for their blog. Your editorial calendar will probably look different from both of these, but they should give you an idea of the different ways a calendar can be developed.57
    • Day 12 –Develop an editorial calendar for your blog INTERACT FURTHER READINGHow did you find this process? Have you got These are only two suggestions; there are manynext week’s editorial calendar set up? Share your variations on the idea of blog editorial calendarsexperience on social media or your blog, using the that you might like to explore. Here are a few postshashtag #31DBBBDay12. that pick up the idea: n Easy Content Scheduling for Bloggers, I Georgina Laidlaw explains how she runs the ProBlogger editorial calendar. Jonathan Thomas provides some interesting food for thought in this post, How to Develop a Niche Blog Content Plan. I  talk about the value of editorial calendars to your overall blogging “flow” in 7 Ways to Keep Fresh Content Flowing On Your Blog.58
    • DAY 13Take a trip to the malland improve your blog
    • Day 13 – Take a trip to the mall and improve your blog •  hat messages are they using in their W TODAY’S TEACHING TODAY’S TASK marketing? •  hat colors or design techniques are WToday, we’re going shopping! I know what you’re Let’s go shopping! popular at the moment?probably thinking: “What? This ProBlogger dudehas lost his mind! What does shopping have to 1. Step away from the computer. Come on, you • What else is in fashion?do with blogging?” can do it! •  hat sales techniques are sales staff WStick with me for a second, and let me explain. 2. Grab a notebook and pen. Do you remember using?I want to encourage you to go shopping for two them? They’re what you used to use beforereasons: your primary form of communication involved •  hat are retail outlets doing well? What W typing. are they doing poorly?1. It will get you away from your blog for a bit. I was chatting with another blogger 3. Head to your local shopping centre, mall, or 5.  s you watch, make some notes. Don’t A recently and we both admitted that we had shopping strip. Apologies to those in rural attempt to find any lessons, or try to tie been in our PJs all day blogging (it was 4pm areas; this may or may not work in your local anything back to your blog yet. for me). We both realized that we needed to general store. go out more. Sad, but true! 6. Once you’ve spent half an hour or so in 4. Once you’re there, take 30 minutes or so to Observation Mode, find a spot to sit down2. It will give you a chance to complete some go wandering with no agenda other than to with a coffee, and go over what you’ve observation exercises that could help your observe: noticed. See if there are any lessons you blogging. This is the main reason for today’s might be able to apply to your blogging. • Who’s there? Who are they with? task. It’s based upon an experience that I had today at a local shopping centre or mall). This process might seem a little random and • What are they doing? pointless but I’ve done it on numerous occasions over the last few years, and each time I’ve come •  hat are they buying? What products are W away with at least one new idea to apply to my particularly in demand at the moment? blogging. • How do they make their buying decisions? •  hat are the retailers doing to attract W people’s attention and stand out?60
    • Day 13 – Take a trip to the mall and improve your blog Malls are great because they’re places in which TODAY’S NOTES marketers are employing all kinds of strategies INTERACT that can be useful to learn from. But if there’s no mall in your town, or you’re unable to get to one,Some of the ideas I’ve gained from visiting the What did you learn on your “shopping” expedition? try going to another place where people gather.mall have come directly from what I’ve seen I’d love to hear about your experiences with this What can you learn from:retailers do in their marketing. exercise—don’t forget to hashtag your blog posts or status updates with the tag #31DBBBDay13. • a walk through your town or shopping stripFor example, I recently saw a store using anattention-grabbing technique that I want to apply •  0 minutes of watching TV (try a channel 3to my blog to draw readers’ eyes to the most like the shopping channel) FURTHER READINGimportant elements on the page. I’ve also learneda lot about people and how they operate, and • your local library I nspiration for improving your blogging isonce or twice I’ve seen illustrations to use for everywhere! In this post, I reveal how I useposts or even ideas for new blog post topics. • a local tourist destination? magazines to get ideas to develop my blogI’ve even spotted a trend that gave me an idea for Blogging lessons are available to us in many  nd in this one, Jill Chivers explains 10 Things Aan entirely new blog! aspects of life. For an example, look at what TV Shopping Networks Can Teach You About I learned from watching an umbrella salesman Making Money Blogging on a rainy day a couple of years back. I  also like to blog from shopping malls—among other places!—as this post explains. Malls are great because they’re places in which marketers are employing all kinds of strategies that can be useful to learn from.61
    • DAY 14Update a key page on your blog
    • Day 14 – Update a key page on your blog Your home page 2. Sidebar: Most blogs have a sidebar on TODAY’S TEACHING every page, but it’s probably looked at more This is a fairly obvious one. Most blogs receive frequently on your home page than on any more traffic to the home page of their blog than other. Over time, sidebars tend to becomeWhat are the most important pages on your any other. The ProBlogger front page receives a cluttered with lots of buttons and links;blog? Which are the most valuable? little less than 20% of all traffic on the site. perhaps it’s time for a spring clean, with theThis is an interesting question to ponder ... in objective of only leaving useful and importantfact, spend a few minutes thinking about that It’s the page I usually promote on business cards, information there.now. I sat down and asked myself this question in my email signature, and on profile pages of social media sites. It’s also this page that others 3. Headers and logos: One way you can giveearlier in the week, and I identified around ten refer people to when they mention my blog, either your front page (as well as other pagespages on my blogs that for one reason or another in conversation or on their own sites. And it’s this on your blog) a refresh without doing a fullwere more important than others. page that people landing on my old posts often redesign is to develop a new logo or headerWhile every page on a blog is important, some head to next to see what the site is about. for your blog. This shouldn’t be rushed into,pages are more powerful than others at helping but perhaps today is a day to begin thinkingyou to achieve your goals as a blogger. And some Update it: You can update the home page of about a new look for your blog.of these important pages need updates from time your blog in a variety of ways, from complete makeovers to minor tweaks. The makeover/ 4. Site objectives and calls to action:to time. overhaul end of the spectrum is a little beyond the One important question to ask when you’re scope of this challenge, so let me suggest a few looking at your blog’s home page is: what are TODAY’S TASK smaller ideas: your objectives? What do you want people to do when they arrive on your blog for the 1. First impressions: What first impression first time (remembering that your front pageSo, today your task is to spend time identifying key does a new reader get when they arrive is a logical place for new people to visit)?posts and pages on your blog and to give them an at your home page? Do they know what Do you want people to subscribe to an RSSupdate. your blog is about immediately? Do your feed or newsletter, click on an ad, tell a blog’s title tags, header, and tagline strongly friend, be driven to your best content, buy aLet’s explore a few of these pages, and think communicate what your blog is about? Are product, or hear your story? What do youabout some of the ways that they might need an their eyes drawn to one important element, want them to do? Once you’ve identified yourupdate. or is the page cluttered? key objective, you can then position a call to action in a prime location on your blog’s front page.63
    • Day 14 – Update a key page on your blogYour About page Your landing pages Your Contact pageThe About page of a blog may receive less traffic Landing pages tend to be important for any When I first ran the 31DBBB challenge onthan others, but it can be a very influential page, blogger, no matter whether their visitors are ProBlogger, I had an email from a participantso it’s one that’s worth developing. coming from an advertisement you’ve created, called Becki, who wrote: Twitter or Facebook, or an affiliate programWho might read an About page? It doesn’t take you’re running. “I read all 700+ comments to the Day 2 posta genius to work out that those reading your and searched for people who have blogs in aAbout page are likely to be in Investigation Mode. As we develop our promotions, and our brands, similar niche to me. I was hoping to have a linkMy suspicion is that those clicking on About links it’s likely that we’ll need to make tweaks to our on their site and to cooperate in some way, butare going to be: landing pages, to make sure that they’re in am amazed that most have no method to directly keeping with the consistent branding message contact the author.” •  rst-time readers wanting to know whether fi we’re presenting elsewhere. this site is for them Becki actively wanted to reach out to other Obviously your landing pages need to serve a bloggers in her niche with the hope of working •  otential partners, advertisers, p particular purpose—and that is probably going with them in mutually beneficial ways. But due collaborators, journalists, PR people, or to vary depending on which landing page you’re to many bloggers failing to provide a way to be other bloggers wanting to know if they looking at. So make sure that as you look for contacted, they missed out on a potentially fruitful should invest time in building a relationship out-of-date and inconsistent information, broken relationship. with you. links, and other elements that don’t reflect landing page best practices, that you have the goal of the Do you have a means of being contacted on yourIt stands to reason that you’ll probably want to blog? If so, is it up to date? page, and the users who arrive there, in mind atkeep this page up to date, and give some thought all times.to the ways you call people to action there.Probably the two biggest mistakes that you canmake when it comes to an About page are: It doesn’t take a genius to work out1. not to have one that those reading your About page2.  leave it as the default About page that to your blog package automatically sets up for are likely to be in Investigation Mode. you.64
    • Day 14 – Update a key page on your blogYour high-traffic pages Other key pages 1. What kind of questions do you have about your camera?Most blogs that have been around for a while Many blogs have other key pages that often go 2. What’s the most confusing aspect of usinghave at least a handful of posts in their archives for months (if not years) without an update. These your camera?that generate a higher number of page views than include Advertise with us pages, Recommendedothers. This traffic can be generated through reading pages, and Subscribe pages. Almost any 3.  you were to visit a website about Ifsearch engine traffic, by another site linking to page that’s linked from your navigation menu is photography, what types of information wouldthose articles, by a social media site making a worth addressing, as these will be the links that you be after?page popular, and so on. first-time visitors are most likely to check out. 4. What would make a photography site moreThese are important pages—they’re gateways Enough talk—go and update some pages! credible to you?through which potentially loyal readers enter yourblog. The problem is that many of those new What I found in asking these types of questionsvisitors often turn right back around and leave TODAY’S NOTES was that the photographer wanted information onagain. an aspect of camera use that I’d never covered One suggestion for this exercise is to try to get before. I immediately wrote a new post on thatSpend some time today identifying the most into the head of a person who’s visiting your blog topic and added a link to it from one of my keyvisited posts on your blog using your blog stats for the first time. pages. As it turned out, many other readers hadprogram. Google Analytics is one that I use similar questions.and recommend, but even a blog platform like We’re going to do a first-time reader audit laterWordPress’s native stats package should reveal in this program, but in the meantime, try to find Trying to get inside the head of a first-time readerwhich pages are visited most. a person who hasn’t visited your blog before, can help you identify the types of information that but might have an interest in the topic you’re might convince them to keep coming back to yourOnce you’ve identified some key pages, make sure covering. Don’t show them your blog yet (wait till blog. It can also motivate you to update those keythey’re up to date and as helpful to readers as Day 17)—for now, just ask them what they want pages that they visit while making that decision.possible. Then, think about how you can make to know about your topic and blog.each post stickier. A couple of suggestions: I recently went through this exercise with a1. Add some suggested reading links that point beginning photographer—a family member who’d to other key posts on your blog. just bought a digital camera. I asked them:2. Insert an invitation to subscribe to your blog at the end (or even the start) of the post.65
    • Day 14 – Update a key page on your blog You could say the changes I’ve made have been EXAMPLE informational—and they have—but more than INTERACT that, they’ve really been made to reflect the changing nature of the ProBlogger brand andA great way to see how others have developed Which page—or pages—did you update? Show site, and what it can offer. In 2007, ProBloggertheir key pages is to use the Wayback Machine. them off on social media—don’t forget to use the meant one thing. In 2011, it meant something hashtag #31DBBBDay14.For fun, I decided to do a little vanity search and similar, but with some important differences.see how my About page had evolved over time. I hope this gives you a clear picture of theThe first time the Internet Archive bot crawled reasons why it’s important to keep key pages FURTHER READINGmy page was in 2007, and it’s interesting to pick of your blog up to date.out the differences between the page that was If you’re still not convinced of the value of youronline then and the one that’s online now. About page, read Lea Woodward’s article How • The layout and image haven’t changed. Your About Page Can Make or Break Your Blog. • n 2007 I was involved in the b5media I network; I’m not any longer, so that text Richard Adams gives some great tips for has been removed. improving your contact page in Optimize the Most Underutilized Page of Your Blog. • ’ve expanded the Why Problogger? section I to include a new network I developed. Not sure if your blog has all the pages it needs? Check out 20 Types of Pages that Every •  added social media links to the Subscribe I Blogger Should Consider to see if you’ve section. forgotten any. •  inserted some information about the I ProBlogger Book and other products.66
    • DAY 15Find a blog buddy
    • Day 15 – Find a blog buddy 2. Rotating leadership: Even with the pushing 4. Power of the honk: From the ground, the TODAY’S TEACHING effect of those behind it, the front bird uses V formation of a flock of flying geese is a the most energy and becomes tired more beautiful thing to watch. They serenely glide quickly than the others. The geese know this across the sky, looking majestic and peaceful.While I’m an introvert who’s energized by and instinctively rotate leadership of the flock, However, go up into the flock and you’ll findspending time alone, I’ve found that my blogs allowing tired birds who have expended a lot it’s quite a noisy affair: the geese constantlygrow fastest when I work with other bloggers. of energy for the sake of the flock to rest, honk at one another. There are numerousLet me start with an illustration that shows the and be pulled along for a while until their next theories about this honking (they may bepower of working together. turn up front. letting each other know where they are, so there are no mid-air collisions), but many 3. Dropping out of the flock: As a result ofA lesson from geese sickness or injury, a bird will occasionally believe it helps to create an environment of mutual encouragement. It reminds me of the begin to fall away from the flock, unable to days when I used to play football at school.Scientists have found that geese flying in keep up. Instead of allowing this bird to fly Before the game began, all the boys wouldformation in a flock can travel around 78% on alone, at least two others will always gather in the locker room to whip themselvesfurther in a session than geese flying solo. drop out of the flock with it. This ensures into a frenzy—shouting meaningless stuff[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swarm_ that the injured bird will be defended and about what they’d do to the opposition,behaviour] Working together on the task cared for until it’s ready to resume flying, and slapping each other on the back, andof flying is beneficial in a number of ways: that it won’t forfeit the benefits of flying in basically creating an environment where1. Aerodynamic formation: The V formation formation. we thought we could conquer the world. of geese maximizes the energy expended by the birds. The goose at the front of the flock As a result of these dynamics, the geese can fly breaks the air for those flying behind it, and amazing distances without stopping for rest— creates a slipstream in which they’re pulled much further than if they tried to do it alone. along. The birds behind also help those in front, as the upward motion of their wings creates an updraft, propelling them forward. This push–pull relationship ensures all birds While I’m an introvert who’s energized by in the formation benefit from the work of the others. spending time alone, I’ve found that my blogs grow fastest when I work with other bloggers.68
    • Day 15 – Find a blog buddyAdvantages of working blogger, it’s beneficial to find another TODAY’S TASK blog at a similar stage of development totogether as bloggers yours. You’ll be both going through similar challenges at roughly the same time, whichI’ve noticed that bloggers who work together often Today’s task is to find yourself a blogging buddy. means you’ll understand where the otherlast longer in the blogosphere, and have more How can you do that? person is at, and you’ll have the chance tosuccess in building their blogs. Finding another First, go and read the article, How to Find a work through those challenges together.blogger—or a small group of bloggers—and Blog Buddy, which contains great advice forcommitting to work together for the common •  ake each other’s blog better: When you M finding a blog buddy.good of your blogs offers a number of benefits. agree to a blog buddy relationship, commitThe ones I’ve listed here are taken from the Also, consider these tips for establishing a solid upfront to making each other’s blogsarticle, The Power of Collaboration in Today’s buddy relationship: better. While most of us are committedBlogging World by Eric and Sean): to making our own blogs better (and •  ake it mutually beneficial: These types of M should be), it can be quite powerful to take1. You gain feedback on posts prior to relationships are best when both parties that attitude with another person’s blog. pressing Publish. gain through the interaction. It’s a give-and- Together, we know—and can achieve—a lot2. You have a person to vent to who take situation, so make sure both parties more than any single one of us alone. understands your situation. contribute and benefit in tangible ways.3. You can work on projects together. •  ttempt to find a blogger in a similar niche: A This may be impossible for some, but if you “Synergy is the highest4. You can share link love. can, try to build relationships with people in activity of life; similar niches to yours. These relationships5. You can share each other’s posts through social media and with other bloggers. will have the potential to open up great it creates new untapped6. You can share communities. opportunities for you on many levels. If alternatives; it values you’re unable to find someone in your7. You can help each other stay motivated niche, don’t worry: you can still learn a lot and exploits the mental, through encouragement. from another blogger on a different topic. emotional, and8. You can guest post for each other. •  ind other bloggers on your level: When F psychological differences I’ve suggested this idea in the past, I’ve9. You can share each other’s talents. noticed a lot of bloggers approaching A-list between people.”10.  ou’ll have twice the blogging power Y bloggers. While there’s nothing wrong with building a relationship with a more popular —Stephen Covey at your disposal.69
    • Day 15 – Find a blog buddy TODAY’S NOTES INTERACT FURTHER READINGBe aware that, sometimes, this type of task Looking for a blog buddy? Found one and Onibalusi Bamidele includes various forms oftakes time. While I’ve given you a challenge to want to celebrate? Let us know—through your collaboration in his article, 10 Little-knownfind a blog buddy today, don’t expect to find one blog or on social media—using the hashtag Ways to Get Traffic to Your Blog.immediately. The best blog buddies often come #31DBBBDay15.out of ongoing relationships, which take time to Buddies aren’t just for blogging: the Webdevelop. Marketing Ninja (not his real name!) explains the benefits of having a launch buddy in Let a LaunchBuild into your daily blogging efforts the task of Buddy Help Boost Your Blog.reaching out to other bloggers in your niche.Look for opportunities to work together to mutualbenefit, and over time you might just end up withthe kind of blog buddy that I’ve described in thischallenge—and without either of you actuallyasking the other to be a blog buddy.70
    • DAY 16 Solve a problem:7 ways to identifyreaders’ problems
    • Day 16 – Solve a problem: 7 ways to identify readers’ problems A great exercise to do to identify your own TODAY’S TEACHING TODAY’S TASK previous problems—at least, those that don’t come to mind straight away—is to sit down with a notepad and pen or a laptop and simplyToday’s task is a writing-oriented one. Today’s task is to identify a problem that your brainstorm everything you’ve learnt, overcome,Today, we’re going to solve readers’ problems. readers are experiencing, and that you can solve discovered, or solved about your blog’s topic. on your blog. Here are seven methods that I’veThis is something that most successful bloggers Also list questions that you remember asking used to identify reader problems.build into every single day of their blogging. others, or problems that you might haveWhy? Because if you’re solving problems: researched yourself.1. you’ll make an impression on people 1. Solve your own This should give you a good list of potential posts problems to write on your blog.2. people are more likely to return to your blog My favorite way to identify the needs and3. people will be inclined to tell others about your blog. problems of others is to take note of my own. In 2. Look for questions my experience, when I’ve had a problem, others have had it too. Instead of just solving your in search referralsFor some bloggers, identifying a problem that problems for yourself and moving on, why nottheir readers have is easy—they have a lot of Once your blog has been going for a while there capture the solution and add it to your blog soreaders and so have their finger on the pulse of are a few ways to tap into your readership and that others can benefit from it?those people’s needs. However, it’s a little trickier discover the problems those people have. Onefor newer bloggers with a smaller and less vocal particularly useful way is to look at how and why Recently, a Twitter follower asked me howreadership. readers access your blog (and what they do when she should start her blog. She was a little they arrive). Look at the terms people type into apprehensive and not sure how to start out. My search engines to reach your site. Sometimes, answer was to write about a problem that she’d the most common keywords can illuminate an experienced, and how she’d solved it. There’s no My favorite way to better way to start up a blog—right from day one, area with which people experience problems. identify the needs and you signal to readers that you’re interested in For example, I’ve installed the WP stats plugin on solving problems. my Twitter Tips blog. While it’s not as advanced problems of others is to as some stats packages, it does show me the take note of my own. common keywords that people have used on search engines to arrive at my site. Here’s a screenshot of part of the list of keywords:72
    • Day 16 – Solve a problem: 7 ways to identify readers’ problems The same information can be gleaned from most 3. Analyze internal web statistics packages. Here on ProBlogger people have arrived on the site asking: searches Another related way to find information on what your current readers’ needs are is to watch what they search for when they’re on your blog. This is helpful because it reveals the questions they’re asking that you haven’t already written about. There are a few tools available that show you internal search keywords: Lijit—Lijit is a search box that you put on yourThese are just seven of many hundreds of terms sidebar or in your navigation area instead ofthat people have typed into Google, and already Again, this information reveals some real-life your normal search box. It performs the sameI can see a few issues that users are seeking to problems and needs that people are experiencing. function as far as your readers are concerned, inaddress: that it allows them to search your blog. However, Keep in mind that, with these techniques, you’re it also presents you, the publisher, with an •  ow to make a background image for h relying on your site ranking well for certain array of useful information on those searches. Twitter keywords that you’ve already used in published For example, Lijit shows me that people have • finding out about Twitter badges posts. The reason I have people arriving on my searched ProBlogger for these terms: blog searching for “how to be lucky” is because • looking for people to follow on Twitter I’ve already written about that exact topic, and for that reason, I probably don’t need to write • deciding between Twitter and Facebook another post on it. However, you will also find that people are asking questions about areas that • how to customize Twitter. you’ve yet to write specifically about.From those seven search terms, I’ve identified fiveproblems that people have on Twitter!73
    • Day 16 – Solve a problem: 7 ways to identify readers’ problemsIt also produces a list of searches that people 4. Ask readers 5. Look for problemshave performed on your blog, but for which therewere no results: for questions on other sites Another method that can be worthwhile is to ask This tactic can be particularly good for those who readers for questions, or to tell you about the are just starting out, and don’t have any readers needs and challenges they face. to ask for ideas. It simply involves finding a forum, blog, or social networking site that’s relevant to This, of course, assumes that you have some your niche, and surfing through the content or readers (so it might be unsuitable for those conversations, looking for the types of questions who are just starting out), and that they’ll feel that people ask. comfortable to give you a response. You’ll probably want to do this on larger sites that There are a variety of ways you can ask questions receive lots of comments, as that’ll make the task that encourage readers to respond: really worthwhile. As you spend time on decent- sized forums, you’ll begin to see that a range 1. Write a post asking for questions. of common questions are asked over and over 2. Email a handful of the most recent again. commenters and ask if there’s anything theyWhile that list includes some rather odd terms, need help with.it also produces some very useful information, 3. Set up a contact form that acts as aproviding a snapshot of the information my questionnaire. There are a varietyreaders need. 4. Run a survey for readers. of ways you can 5. Run a poll that lets readers identify their most pressing needs (this allows some ask questions that anonymity). encourage readers I’ve tried each of these approaches, and all have to respond. been worthwhile in helping to identify readers’ problems.74
    • Day 16 – Solve a problem: 7 ways to identify readers’ problems6. Use social media to 7. Ask friends and family TODAY’S NOTES gather questions Lastly, don’t forget your real-life friends, family, and work colleagues. Many of the day-to-day One of the best ways to solve problems that areThese days, I’m gaining more and more inspiration conversations we have reveal the types of on a more advanced level is to draw others in tofor posts from social networking sites. struggles and challenges we face. While you’ll help you. For example, on my photography blog,Twitter is a great place for collecting questions want to keep private conversations private, they I’m often asked questions that I lack the expertisefrom people with real needs and problems. could be a great source of inspiration for posts. to solve. I’m not a professional photographerI mainly do this in two ways: and even if I were, I wouldn’t have expertise in all I find that gatherings with extended family are aspects of photography.1. Ask for questions: Every now and again great opportunities for me to tap into what I simply tweet that I’m looking for a few people think about the topics I write about. For So when I’m asked one of these tricky questions, questions to base new posts on. example, at one gathering a family member asked I go searching for an expert in that area. I ask me if he was holding his digital camera right. He them one of three things:2. Watch lists: I’ve chosen a few keywords was almost a little embarrassed to ask, as the that I track on Twitter, using my Twitter question was so basic. But as I was answering 1. Would they write a guest post for me on client TweetDeck. Often, people use these him, I realized that other beginners would have that topic? keywords in questions they’re asking on the same question. That’s how the post How to Twitter. I try to answer these questions Hold a Digital Camera came into being. 2. Would they like to be interviewed on that on Twitter, but I also often use them as topic? inspiration for longer blog posts. 3. Would they mind answering one question on that topic? I generally start with the first option and work Many of the day-to-day conversations we my way down the list if they don’t have time for it. If they’re unable to help, I’ll find someone else have reveal the types of struggles and challenges who can. we face. While you’ll want to keep private An alternative idea for involving others is to put conversations private, they could be a great the same question to multiple experts. Ask five people how they’d solve a certain problem, then source of inspiration for posts. share all five answers in a post. This way, you gain five perspectives on the question, rather than one.75
    • Day 16 – Solve a problem: 7 ways to identify readers’ problems EXAMPLE INTERACT FURTHER READINGKevin Cullis of MacStartup.com has guest posted What problems are your readers facing? Tell us Solving problems is a critical aspect of manyon ProBlogger a few times, but his first post, how you went with this task on social media, using blogs. I feel so strongly about it that I included itA Blog, a Book, and a Business: One Author’s the hashtag #31DBBBDay16. in my Principles of Blogging series.Journey, shows how he developed both a blogand a book by recognizing a need, and solving Solving problems isn’t just about the problem—that problem. it’s also about how you give the solution! Ali Luke explains how to use personal anecdotes andAs he says in the article, “One day, a business stories to solve reader problems in her article,customer recommended turning my writings into Are Your Personal Stories Turning Readersa book, and wondered when it would be done Off?so she could buy one.” What had started as ahobby, “to combine both business processes and And Georgina Laidlaw provides some good advicecomputer solutions”, suddenly found a niche, and for tutorial writing in 5 Tips for Creating a Trulya need. Valuable Tutorial.Kevin provides the example of a blog post hewrote explaining how to create a drop-cap inApple’s iWork Pages. Within weeks, this becameone of the most popular articles on the blog. “Notonly were people hungry for my information,” hewrites, “but I have personally referred to my siteusing my own blog to find long-forgotten answersto problems.”76
    • DAY 17 Watch a first-timereader use your blog
    • Day 17 – Watch a first-time readetr use your blog The process •  hat did they feel when they first arrived W TODAY’S TEACHING at your blog? Load your blog up and let your friend use it. •  hat suggestions do they have for WWithin seconds of arriving, new visitors make Have them spend four or five minutes just improving your blog?decisions that will determine if and how they’ll wandering around your blog. Don’t talk to themuse your blog. In the same way that first while they do this. Instead, watch carefully how •  hat questions do they have after surfing Wimpressions can be vital in real-life interactions, they use your blog: your blog?they are essential online. • How do they navigate? •  hat words would they use to describe the WToday’s task is to do some analysis of what design?first impressions people get when they arrive at • Where do they click?your blog. •  hat are the main elements they W • What do they pause to read? remember about your blog ten minutes later? TODAY’S TASK • What do they skip over? •  hat areas of the blog do they seem most W •  hat suggestions do they have from a WToday, we’ll conduct a First Time Reader Audit on drawn to? user perspective?your blog. Once they’ve surfed your blog for five minutes, You’ll be amazed at what you’ll learn by watching a ask them some questions about the experience. first-timer use your blog.What you’ll need • What were their first impressions? The last time I went through this process, I actually had four people participate. I chose1. A friend, family member, work colleague, •  hat did they first think your blog was W people with different levels of web savvy, from or even a blogger that you haven’t had about when they saw it? a person who doesn’t use the web much at all, much to do with before. The key is that the through to an experienced blogger. I found having person must not have seen your blog before. •  id they find it easy to read, navigate, and D feedback from people with different levels of online You’ll need the person to spend around ten understand? experience to be very valuable. minutes with you, so bribe them with a coffee or snacks.2. A computer on which the person can use your blog. Ideally you’ll be in the same room You’ll be amazed at what you’ll learn by as the person while they use your blog, but watching a first-timer use your blog. this test can also be done virtually.78
    • Day 17 – Watch a first-time readetr use your blog TODAY’S NOTES INTERACT FURTHER READINGIf you’re up to a little JavaScript coding, a great What have you learned by watching someone use Skellie outlines his Top 5 Ways to Improve Yourlittle tool that you should try is CrazyEgg.com. your blog? Share your insights on your blog or Blog’s UsabilityThis service enables you to watch where people social media, using the hashtag #31DBBBDay17.click when they’re on your blog. The service tracks When we redesigned dPS, I wrote a post onusage and creates a heatmap of the most clicked- that process, which was heavily focused onon areas of your blog. improving usability. It’s How to Redesign a Blog: Redesigning dPSIt won’t give you all of the information that you’llgain from watching a first-time reader use yourblog, but it will show you what links are clicked on.From this information, you can gain insight intowhat interests your readers and what catchestheir eyes.This kind of user information can be very usefulboth from design and writing perspectives, asyou’ll be able to infer what types of informationyour readers want more of, what types of calls toaction work best, and so on.Google Analytics also has a feature to show youthis, although the presentation of where peopleclick isn’t half as pretty or useful as the CrazyEggheatmaps, in my opinion.79
    • DAY 18 Create a sneezepage for your blog
    • Day 18 – Create a sneeze page for your blog Why a sneeze page? Benefits of sneeze pages TODAY’S TEACHING One challenge many bloggers face is that over A sneeze page can be powerful in a variety ofToday, we’ll create a sneeze page for your blog. time the archives of their blogs fill up with ways: hundreds and then thousands of posts. The problem is that, by default, a blog generally only 1. It shows off your archives: If I spend hoursWhat is a sneeze page? highlights the most recent posts that you’ve (if not days) crafting a blog post, I want people to read it! Sneeze pages lengthen the written. They’re displayed on the front page,The term sneeze page is one that I came up with while the majority of your older posts go largely time over which people interact with yourfor the very first version of this blog challenge, unnoticed once they drop off that front page older posts.and refers to a key strategy I’ve been using with listing. 2. It’s great for SEO: Search engines reviewmy blogs for years. A sneeze page is all about showing off those the links that others make to your postsThe idea is simple: to create a page that propels archives. in order to rank those posts in the searchpeople deep into your blog by highlighting the best results. They also consider the internal linksposts you’ve written. on your blog. Linking to old posts can help boost their search engine rankings. 3. It can help create a sticky blog: I’ve yet to see stats on this, but it’s my suspicion that a person who arrives on your blog for the first time is more likely to return if they discover more great posts there. Have a person read 10 great posts, instead of just the one at the top of your home page, and you’ll increase the likelihood that they’ll become a regular reader and subscribe.81
    • Day 18 – Create a sneeze page for your blog These sneeze pages (and others) are linked Time-related sneeze TODAY’S TASK prominently around my blog, and from the “Best of ProBlogger” section on my home page. pagesToday’s task is to create a sneeze page. To give These pages are based around a defined period of Similarly, on Digital Photography School (dPS) I’veyou a few starting points, let’s look at the types of time. They often take the form of a “best of” post created pages for key topics (like Compositionsneeze pages out there. that highlights key posts from the period, and Tips, Digital Photography Techniques, Portrait Photography Tips, How to Photograph, and serve to either remind readers of previous posts Digital Photography Tips for Beginners) and that they might want to revisit, or to highlightTypes of sneeze pages linked to them from my navigation area. I find posts that they might have missed. these pages generate a lot of page views on theThere are many ways of creating a sneeze page The period of time that you choose can really be pages they link to.for your blog. Some are actual pages; others are anything from a year to a month, week, or evenblog posts. Let’s explore the main types. One more creative example of a themed sneeze a weekend (that is, a post that summarizes the page is 21 Settings, Techniques, and Rules All posts from a weekend that those readers who New Camera Owners Should Know. This post only read your blog during work hours might haveThemed sneeze pages is a list of links but it’s written more as a typical missed). Blogs that post very frequently use these blog post—you’ll see it contains pictures and “roundup”-style posts quite regularly; for example,These list posts or pages on your blog that focus Lifehacker often publishes one at the end of each descriptions of the points that are made in eachon a single theme. For example, on ProBlogger week to highlight key posts for that period. of the linked posts.I’ve created a number of themed sneeze pages: While the examples above are all pages in • How to Make Money Blogging WordPress rather than actual posts, this last • How to Find Readers for Your Blog example is a normal post on my blog. • How to Write Great Blog Content • Search Engine Optimization for Bloggers There are many ways of creating a sneeze page for your blog. Some are actual pages; •  sing Social Media Sites to Grow Your U Blog’s Traffic others are blog posts.82
    • Day 18 – Create a sneeze page for your blogRetro sneeze pages Promoting your sneeze TODAY’S NOTESAnother variation of the time-related sneeze page pageis to create one that unashamedly shows off a If you’re creating your first ever sneeze page don’t Sneeze pages can be an effective way to drivenumber of posts from your blog from a particular be overwhelmed by the idea. I started simply people deep into your blog, but they’ll only do thatpoint in its history. by making a “best of” page that looked back on for as long as you’re able to drive people to the sneeze page itself. the last month of my blogging. You can see anThe most common way to do this is to have a example of this technique from my Twitter blog atpost highlighting blog posts from a year ago. A sneeze page should be promoted and positioned www.twitip.com/10-hot-twitter-tips.Here’s an example from Lifehacker, another blog prominently on your blog so that people willthat did (and still occasionally does) this. It’s important to note that my blog had only been continue to see it. going for three months at this stage. While I So, once you’ve created your sneeze page, link to didn’t have a lot of blog content, I could still createSeries sneeze pages it from navigation menus, sidebars, or other hot a sneeze page simply by looking at the stats of my zones on your blog. blog and identifying the most popular posts so far.This technique involves writing a series ofinterlinked blog posts exploring a topic over aperiod of time. TIP: Another approach Another tip to start off with is to considerOne key with writing a series of posts is to makesure that readers have a trail of links between One key with writing what your most common reader questions are, then identify a cluster of posts that might helpthem, so that they’re encouraged to read the fullseries. A great way to help readers discover a a series of posts is to answer them.full series is to develop a sneeze page. All of the make sure that readers For example, on my photography blog I’m often have a trail of linksposts in the series should link back to it, and it asked about wedding photography. I’ve writtenshould link to them. on the topic a number of times, so I decided toSeries sneeze pages can become key pages on between them, so that pull together a list of links to relevant posts.your blog. For example, on ProBlogger one of my they’re encouraged to In this way I’ve kept the sneeze page focused onmost popular pages is Blogging for Beginners,which started out simply as a list of posts from a read the full series. a theme I’m constantly asked about. I’ve also developed a standard email that I send to anyoneseries I was writing specifically for beginners. who requests wedding photography information, and it points them to this sneeze page.83
    • Day 18 – Create a sneeze page for your blog This adaptation of the sneeze page idea helps EXAMPLE new users, and regulars with a little time on their INTERACT hands, find new, relevant content that would otherwise be buried deep in the site’s archives.I’ve given you a lot of examples of sneeze pages Once you’ve created your sneeze page, please do I had my developer create these panels so thatalready in this chapter, so here, let me show you share a link to it with us on social media. Don’t I can control the content that appears in eacha technique I’ve used to take this idea one step forget to use the hashtag #31DBBBDay18 so we one—and ensure that over time, all of the bestfurther on dPS. Scroll down the dPS homepage can find your update! content from my archives can be cycled throughand you’ll see feature panels that list articles the home page.in three areas of the site: Photography Tips& Tutorials, Cameras & Equipment, and Post There are many other ways you could adapt the FURTHER READINGProduction. sneeze page idea, but this is one that’s worked for me. Sneeze pages aren’t just a good idea in and ofEach panel has three buttons, Recent, Popular, and themselves. You can use them to boost yourFeatured, which users can click to see a different blog’s readership, sales, and traction in a numberselection of the content in that area of the site. of ways. T  he Blog Tyrant explains how sneeze pages help him promote his products in How a 30 Minute Reject Post Brings Me Hundreds of Subscribers a Week. I  also explained the role sneeze pages can have in SEO in Optimize a Single Post on Your Blog for SEO.84
    • DAY 19Write an opinion post on your blog
    • Day 19 – Write an opinion post on your blog Why opinions matter TODAY’S TEACHING TODAY’S TASK You’ll probably find that some posts are unsuitableToday’s task is another writing-oriented challenge places to share opinions. But when you regularly Your task today is to write a blog post thatfocused on expressing an opinion. give your opinion on your blog, you’ll realize that it expresses an opinion. can have a significant impact:There are many factors that set great bloggers This might seem easier for some niche or topicsapart from the rest, but one that continually crops • t encourages others to share their I than others, but I think it probably applies to mostup is that successful bloggers often have strong opinions in comments or on other blogs. of us.opinions that they’re bold enough to express. Often, opinion posts draw out interaction and productive conversations. 1.  your blog is about politics, share your IfOther bloggers in their niches might report news. personal thoughts on what a politician isBut it’s those who express opinions about the •  ou help your readers to translate news Y saying.news and current events in their industry whose and understand how information appliesblogs tend to receive more links from others. They to them. This makes your content more 2.  your blog is about cameras, instead of just Ifalso generate more comments and are perceived useful. reporting the release of a new camera, tellas thought leaders in their niches. your readers what you think of its features •  ou show your readers that you go beyond Y and who you think it will be useful for. just reporting news, because you’re actually engaging with it and are obviously 3.  your blog is about Britney Spears, showing If interested in the topic you’re writing about. her latest haircut and outfit is fine, but tell us When you regularly This is infectious and will draw your readers what you think about it. in, too. give your opinion on 4.  your blog is about food, share a recipe, If Expressing opinions on your blog is like adding then tell your readers what you love about it your blog, you’ll realize seasoning to food. Without opinion, your blog and what occasion it suits best. that it can have a could end up being quite bland, blending into the crowd. Adding your opinions helps to give your Steer clear of being highly emotional about your significant impact. blog a unique flavor. topic; to express your opinion, all you need to do is add your own thoughts and feelings about the information you’re covering.86
    • Day 19 – Write an opinion post on your blog My main advice to those feeling a little nervous •  rite with grace: Strongly held opinions W TODAY’S NOTES about sharing their opinions is: can be written in a way that’s inclusive of other people’s views and respectful of •  tart small: You don’t need to share your S those who disagree. There’s no need toA number of people have emailed about this task, opinions on a big, controversial topic right write a rant in highly emotive or confrontingsaying that they were worried about being divisive up front. For your first opinion post, choose language.and putting off readers by expressing their own a topic that’s less confronting—perhaps aopinions on their blog. review of a book you’ve read, rather than •  ork on a community of knowledge: W who you voted for in the last election. When I write opinion posts, I generally endI can understand this feeling, especially when them with an invitation for others to shareyou’re a new blogger. It can take a while for some • Don’t be afraid of controversy: their views. On my blogs, I try to build abloggers to grow used to the idea of sharing what Over time, I hope you’ll become more sense that it’s okay to disagree, and tothey think and feel, when they know their opinions comfortable with expressing opinions. promote the idea that together, we knoware being read by others. Keep in mind that there’s nothing wrong more than any individual. Foster a sense with a diversity of opinions, and that a of community and inclusiveness, and try to little controversy can actually bring life to create an environment where people feel your blog. It can often snap people out safe to share what they think, because a of passively looking over your posts, and diversity of opinions is valued. cause them to start engaging. Just make sure that your posts are topical, relevant, You, as the blogger, set the tone for your blog, so and helpful to readers—avoid controversy model inclusiveness and respecting and valuing for controversy’s sake. others, and you’ll find that most of your readers will follow your lead. Keep in mind that there’s nothing wrong with a diversity of opinions, and that a little controversy can actually bring life to your blog.87
    • Day 19 – Write an opinion post on your blog EXAMPLE INTERACT FURTHER READINGI’ve included examples here of blogs that contain Calm your nerves—and show off your post— Product reviews can be good places to startopinion posts, but aren’t opinion blogs. A good in a social media update. Use the hashtag integrating opinion into your blog. I’ve given myopinion blog is a great place to study the art of #31DBBBDay19 to share your progress with opinion in the review post, How to Turn Youropinion posts. Rachel Hills blogs at Musings of others. Blog Traffic Into Money.an Inappropriate Woman, and posts what aremainly opinion pieces about women and feminism. A more traditional opinion piece is Enzo Cesario’s Going Gonzo, or How I Stopped Worrying andHills’s opinion posts come in many different forms, Learned to Love the Blog.and while some pit others’ opinions against herown, many of her articles simply advance this A strong opinion piece is Greg McFarlane’sblogger’s own—researched, informed—opinions. article, Why Beiber SEO Copywriting SexIf you’re interested in getting a handle on the Doesn’t iPad Work Minecraft.subtleties of opinion writing (or even just gettingan idea of how the pros do it), have a look atMusings of an Inappropriate Woman.88
    • DAY 20Leave comments on other blogs
    • Day 20 – Leave comments on other blogs Warning: Don’t spam TODAY’S TEACHING Tips for commenting well It should go without saying, but just having • Keep comments on topic.“Leave comments on other blogs.” moderated the comments on my own blogs I •  et your comment show that you’ve read L suspect it needs to be said again: don’t be a the post.If there’s one piece of advice on building traffic comment spammer!that’s given to new bloggers more than any other, •  ay what you like or don’t like about the Sit’s this. Avoid even looking like a comment spammer! post. I add that second warning because I come across •  dd an example or another point that the ABenefits of commenting a lot of bloggers who try to leave comments on other blogs in a way that they think is genuine, blogger might have missed.on other blogs but that looks like spam. Their comments often • Ask a relevant and insightful question. secure them a spot on the blacklists of commentBloggers are encouraged to comment on other spam filters. • f you include a link to your own blog in Iblogs for good reason. Blog commenting can the comment, make sure it’s a relevanthelp you: The rule of thumb that I advise when leaving one that adds to the post and will be comments on other people’s blogs is simple: add useful to those who follow it.•  nd out what other bloggers in your niche are fi value. A comment that simply says “great post” doing with a link back to your own blog adds little if any I see comments as being like mini-resumes. value to the blog. And it looks spammy. The only Every comment you leave is representative of•  ead some great content that could spark ideas r visitors coming to your blog from that kind of you, so it’s like a mini resume for you and your for your own blog comment are people wanting to know who the blog. You can read more about this idea in the•  each out to other bloggers in your niche, r spammer is! last point of Lorelle’s post on comments. as comments are often the start of fruitful Also keep in mind that comments can hurt your relationships TODAY’S TASK brand just as they can help it. Every comment•  reate a small doorway to your own blog for c you write has the potential to hurt your the readers of the blog you comment on reputation and brand as a blogger. Here are Today your task is to spend 10 or 15 minutes 10 Ways That Comments Can Actually Do reading and interacting on other blogs that•  uild your own profile in your niche—every b More Harm Than Good to the Brand of Your address your topic, or a similar one. comment is a chance to show your expertise, Blog. knowledge, and understanding of the topic.90
    • Day 20 – Leave comments on other blogs TODAY’S NOTES EXAMPLE INTERACTBlogs are only one place where you can leave Commenting on other blogs really does deliver How did your blog commenting go? Pointcomments online. We talked about forums those benefits I mentioned at the start of this us to your valuable, interesting comment inearlier in this book, but another type of site chapter. Recently I was mentioned in the post a social media update, using the hashtagthat often allows these sorts of interactions is Why I’m Jealous of Men (It’s Not What you #31DBBBDay20.the mainstream media websites, particularly Think) on Leah McClellan’s Peaceful Planet blog.newspapers. When this hit my radar, I went over to have FURTHER READINGNot all newspaper sites allow comments, and a look, and was inspired to respond to Leah’ssome that do moderated the comments quite thoughts. Leah didn’t hesitate to provide a I  wrote a post way back in 2007, which I thinkheavily, but I’ve noticed that more and more thoughtful reply to my comment—as she does to is still relevant today: 11 Tips for Getting Yournewspapers are giving readers the ability to most commenters on her blog. It was great to Comments Noticed on a Popular Blog.comment on news articles. connect this way with her. Many bloggers make commenting a regular partSome prohibit you from leaving a link to your blog After I’d written that response, though, I had the of their blogging effort. If you do, you’ll soon findin the comments area, but if you use your URL as idea that those points could make an interesting that commenting takes time. Author Joe showsyour name, you can still gain some benefits from post for my lifestyle site, FeelGooder.com. So I you how to reduce the time it takes in A Blogdoing so. The same rules apply though: avoid reshaped that information into a standalone blog Commenting Strategy.being spammy, and add genuinely interesting post for that site’s readers, called Domesticand useful comments to make your comment Organization for Work-from-home Parents. Then, Jane Sheeba expanded on Joe’s idea ineffective. Efficient Blog Commenting: Save Your Time That single comment had a lot of implications. and Energy. It took time to write, but it was definitely a worthwhile thing to do. The more you comment on others’ blogs, the more you’ll agree on this. Many bloggers make commenting a regular part of their blogging effort.91
    • DAY 21Conduct a policy review
    • Day 21 – Conduct a policy review TODAY’S TEACHING TODAY’S TASK If you do have a policy on the areas I mention below, review it by asking yourself:“Policy review” might sound bureaucratic, but the Depending on how experienced you are at 1. Does it reflect my current philosophy onfocus of today’s task is simply to develop a set of blogging, and how long your blog’s been online, the topic?operating standards for your blog that take the you may or may not have put some policies in As your ideas and opinions change, so youbrain-strain out of overcoming the hurdles that place. should update your policies.crop up every day online. For today’s task, we’ll review your existing policies, 2. Does it embody industry standards andThese standards or policies can help you to make and put together any extra policies you haven’t best practices?decisions more quickly and consistently, and considered before, but feel you need. B  est practices evolve over time, so you’llrespond more genuinely to readers, contacts, and need to review your policies periodically toother collaborators on your blog. They also allow For each of the policies I’m about to mention, make sure they’re current.for greater consistency in the way you approach you’ll want to ask a few questions. The first is, “Do I have a policy on this?” 3. Will it help me achieve the goals I’ve setblogging—something that can help you build for my blog?authenticity and a stronger brand over time. If not, should you? The answer to this question E  volving goals may mean your currentImportantly, they let you spend more time will depend on the nature of your blog and its policies need to be tweaked.immersed in the aspects of blogging that you find operations (e.g. if you don’t allow comments, you won’t need a comments policy), how important 4. Is it useful and usable?the most enjoyable. and complex you feel the issue is, and how helpful There’s no point making a policy that’s 10 you feel a policy will be. pages long. You need concise, clear policies that you can apply at a moment’s notice It’s an unfortunate It’s an unfortunate truth that often, bloggers don’t and that, if you like, you can stick to the wall truth that often, feel the need to outline a policy on a certain issue until they’ve been caught out. For example, you above your monitor for easy access. bloggers don’t feel may not feel you need a copyright policy until a 5. Can the people it affects access it?  For example, can advertisers access your the need to outline guest poster uses an image on your blog without advertising policy? Can guest bloggers permission—and you’re held responsible by the a policy on a certain image’s owner. access your copyright policy? issue until they’ve been You may want to add questions to this list, but these make a good starting point. Let’s look at caught out. the basic policies a blogger might put in place to make blogging easier.93
    • Day 21 – Conduct a policy reviewCopyright policy Content acceptance Personal privacy policyYour copyright policy might affect items such policy If you write about your life on your blog, youas blog posts, comments, guest posts, image might like to set a few boundaries around the Useful for bloggers who accept guest posts, aand other media use, options for reuse of your information you feel comfortable disclosing. content acceptance policy sets ground rules forcontent by others, copyright notices, and so on. A personal privacy policy is probably the most the approval of content to be published on the personal of the policies I’ve mentioned here—so site.The copyright policy I’m talking about here isn’t personal that it may well be second nature to you.the same as the copyright notice you may or may If you’re receiving a lot of guest posts, you mightnot display on your blog—I’m talking about a set You may not need to write it down, but it’s a good also set a submissions review policy, askingof operational standards. As an example, they idea to give it some thought, and work out where authors to meet certain criteria (e.g. providing amay dictate that you run at least two sentences you stand on the issue of your personal privacy maximum word limit and asking them to submitof every guest post through Copyscape to make online. content in .txt format), and declining to considersure the content is original, or display a complete any submissions that don’t meet those criteria.attribution for every image you use on your site. Advertising and Email management policy promotions policyComments policy An email management policy is about setting If you promote others’ products via advertising,If you allow comments on your blog, you’ll need to guidelines for yourself about the management of affiliate marketing, reviews, and so on, anset some guidelines about the kinds of comments reader email, how you’ll determine which contacts advertising and promotions policy will help youyou’ll accept, and those you’ll delete. Most of us warrant a reply, and when and how you’ll respond to make unemotional decisions about variousthink it’s obvious what constitutes an unacceptable to those emails. opportunities.blog comment, but when you’re moderating tensor hundreds of comments a day, you’ll find a Some bloggers respond to every single reader There may be product types or brands you won’tchecklist-style policy very handy. email they receive; others (like myself) don’t— promote. You might set criteria for selecting otherwise, we’d never do anything but email! Each products for promotion on your site. You mightWill you allow swearing in comments? Product blogger approaches this issue differently, so see develop policies around rate negotiation,promotion? Personal remarks? Personal attacks? what works for you. payment terms, and other administrative issues.How will you tell the difference between the two? An advertising and promotions policy is a goodWill you close comments on a post after a certain one to have in place before you start acceptingtime period? As you can see, a comment policy payment for promotions.can be really helpful.94
    • Day 21 – Conduct a policy reviewOther policies TODAY’S NOTES INTERACTAs I said, this list isn’t exhaustive—your blog mayhave forums, columnists, online services (like the Often, beginner bloggers don’t see the need to Have you overhauled your blog’s policies?ProBlogger Job Boards), and so on. But these develop policies, and it can be a need that evolves Did this task leave you with questions? Shareareas should give you some food for thought over time, as your blog grows and you become your thoughts, and see what others are doing,around important blog policies, as well as other more involved with your audience. using the hashtag #31DBBBDay21.unique policies you might want to develop foryour blog. That said, most pro bloggers I know have policies in place for key aspects of their blogs—content, FURTHER READING copyright, privacy and so on. You can leave the development of your policies One approach to best practice guest post until you’re forced to develop them, but since solicitation and management is outlined in LJ they’re really an essential part of a pro blog, Earnest’s How to be a good guest post host. I’d encourage you to put them in place sooner T  o understand the implications of a good rather than later. comment policy, see Elise Bauer’s article, My own policies that I’ve developed for my blogs How does your comment policy affect your are fairly straightforward, but they do help me readership? to run a number of different blogs on different Your personal privacy policy can be as open or topics, with different features and audiences, stringent as you see fit. Author Treacle explains consistently, without confusion, and without one end of the spectrum in Anonymous blogging (too much!) overload. 101: a quick and dirty primer.95
    • DAY 22Pay special attention to a reader
    • Day 22 – Pay special attention to a reader 1. Those you make famous: The first and TODAY’S TEACHING most obvious people to benefit from your TODAY’S TASK efforts are those you highlight. Having a blogger go out of his or her way to talk aboutThe blogosphere was built on principles of Today your task is to make a reader famous. an individual on a blog certainly can makepromoting others, conversation, celebrating an impression. It gives the reader a sense Choose one (or more) of your current readersdiversity, open source knowledge, and so on. One that they’re valued, and that they belong to a and do something out of the blue to acknowledgeof the first attractions to me of blogging was the community. Participating in the blog can help them, show them that you value them, andway that bloggers celebrated their readers and them achieve their own goals if the blogger highlight them to your other readers.other bloggers. sends other readers to the reader’s site toWhile many blog tips focus upon techniques to learn more about them.help make bloggers and their blogs more well How to make readers 2. Other readers: One of the lessons I learnedknown, this paradoxical key to blogging success early in blogging is that when you publicly famousremains the same. Many of the bloggers who value one reader, others often feel valued as There are many ways to highlight your readers onbuild great blogs actually go out of their way to well. It shows you have a genuine interest your blog. Let me share a few approaches thatmake their readers famous. in your readers, and that you value all of I’ve used over the years.When you create space on your blog to highlight them—even when you just highlight a few.readers in some way, the impact can be quite 1. Promote a comment to a post: Sometimes,profound—particularly if you do it regularly. readers make particularly insightful and wiseTwo groups of people tend to be impacted. observations, or provide really valuable tips in your blog comments. While they’ll be read by a handful of people in the comment thread, why not pull that great comment out and use it as The first and most obvious people to benefit the basis for one of your posts, highlighting the wisdom conveyed and the person who made from your efforts are those you highlight. the comment? Having a blogger go out of his or her way to 2. Write a post about the reader’s blog: Visit the blogs of those leaving comments talk about an individual on a blog certainly on your blog and pick one that resonates can make an impression. with you. Write an unpaid review of the blog, highlighting the best posts, and what you like about it.97
    • Day 22 – Pay special attention to a reader3. Send your readers to comment on 6. Projects, memes, and competitions: 8. Invite guest posts: Often, guest posting another’s blog: Write a post that links to Long-term readers of ProBlogger may be is talked about solely as a way to gain free another’s great blog post, and suggest that familiar with the group writing projects that content for your blog. While this is fine, one your readers head over and comment on it. I used to run on the blog every six months of the things I love most about it is that it Closing the comments in your own post and or so. I would invite readers to write posts puts your blog’s microphone in the hands of saying that you’ve left a comment already on on their blogs and then share the links with another. A person who’s normally constrained their blog can help make this call to action each other. These projects always generate by the comments section of your blog has a more effective. a lot of traffic for participants. Similarly, you little more influence on the direction of your can run competitions, blog carnivals, and community for a moment. This can have a4. Give readers an opportunity to promote memes, which give readers an opportunity real impact on the person writing the post, themselves: Run a project or write a post to highlight their own online presences, as well as on your readership, as they see a that gives readers an opportunity to promote blogs, Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, person who’s just like themselves featured on themselves in some way. For example, on and so on. In the social media love-in I ran your blog. dPS I’ve given readers a chance to show [www.problogger.net/538-twitter-users- off their photographs. In one post I asked, that-blog], I invited readers to share their “Do you have a photoblog?” Hundreds TIP: No readers to make famous yet? social media accounts. Hundreds of people of readers left links to their blogs and many participated and those that did received a Of course, this exercise is easier to achieve on emailed me later to thank me for sending them lot of followers on Twitter, as well as new blogs that have been around for a while and traffic. In another similar example, I asked contacts on other networks. have developed a readership. Those who are readers to share their best-ever shot. just starting out will find it harder—there are 7. Run a reader poll and display the results only so many times you can make your mother,5. Reader of the week: I’ve seen a few blogs in a post: One weekend, run a post that wife, or best friend famous on your blog without do this over the years; they simply choose poses a question to your readers. Then do a looking a little desperate! one reader each week to highlight in a post. follow-up post the next week, where you add some of your own thoughts on the question If you’re a new blogger, or your site is yet to and highlight some of the best comments attract reader comments, try making another that readers left. Alternatively, you could blogger famous today by writing a post that survey your Twitter followers on a topic links to them, and highlights them to your relevant to your blog, then highlight their readers. responses in a blog post.98
    • Day 22 – Pay special attention to a reader 5. Give readers a chance to show their TODAY’S NOTES expertise: One way I’ve done this is to INTERACT periodically ask my Twitter followers a question, then highlight their answers on myThe ways in which you can make readers famous Did you succeed in making a reader famous? blog. For an example, see this video post.really are limited only by your imagination. Here How did they feel? Share your experiences onare a few more ideas you might like to try. your blog, or on social media, using the hashtag #31DBBBDay22 so we can learn from you!1. Conduct a short interview with an EXAMPLE interesting reader: This approach works particularly well if your reader is a Lynn Terry, at Click Newz, is great at making FURTHER READING professional or expert in your niche. I’ve readers famous. In her post How To Build A done this a number of times with great Website - Quick and Easy she responds to a I f you’re thinking of opening your blog up to guest photographers on my photography blog. reader question about starting your first blog. posts, take a look at How to Be a Good Guest2. Create an “Introduce yourself” post: Post Host, by LJ Earnest. Interestingly, this reader mentions that he’s new Simply write a post inviting readers to to the site, saying, “I found your site quite by Another interesting option is to run a blog introduce themselves. Many forums have accident.” Acknowledging readers isn’t about contest, which Nathalie Lussier explained in Put these types of threads, so why not have a telling the world when a big-name niche “celebrity” Out the Welcome Mat: How to Run a Blog post dedicated to it on your blog? shows up to your blog—it’s about recognizing Contest with Panache. everyday readers. The people who appreciate your3. Use widgets and plugins: There’s a variety work and value your advice, and are most likely to Finally, check out the post How to Find a Guest of tools to let readers highlight that they’ve become loyal, regular readers. Blogger for Your Blog, in which I make a reader visited your blog. One of the most common famous by referring to their comment and building ones is Facebook, which shows the avatars Take a look at how warmly Terry greets her a post around it. of readers who visit your blog to other reader, and the value of the advice she gives him Facebook users who stop by. (as well as all the other readers who have the same question, but are too shy to ask). This post4. Gravatars: Let readers personalize their really creates a strong connection—and it’s full of comments by configuring your comments useful information too. area to show their avatar if they’re registered on Gravatar.com. You can see this in action in my photography blog’s comments.99
    • DAY 23Call your readers to action
    • Day 23 – Call your readers to action You might call readers to take any of a number of The problem of passive TODAY’S TEACHING types of actions, such as: readers • mplementing an idea that you’ve written iToday’s task is another writing-oriented one: it’s While the calls to action I’ve listed here might aboutto write a post that contains some kind of a call seem like fairly simple things to encourageto action. •  ubscribing to your RSS feed or an email s readers to do, the reality is that most blog newsletter readers are passive. Looking at my own blogs,At some point in the lives of most blogs, the I’d estimate that less than 1% actually makebloggers want readers to go beyond reading, • buying an affiliate product comments, and that the vast majority of thoseand take some kind of action. So, while this type who come to my blogs leave without doingof post might not be one that you’ll use all of • writing a comment anything.the time, it’s a handy technique to have in yourblogging tool belt. • voting in a poll Talking to other bloggers, I get the feeling that I’m • making a donation to a charity only one of many with passive readers. How about you? Would you like to have a more active and • voting for you on a social bookmarking site interactive readership? Some of the actions • buying a product that you’ve developed How do we snap readers that you’ll want to call • visiting another site out of passivity? people to take will • hiring you for some service that you offer Learning how to call your readers to action takes benefit your blog, •  eading another piece you’ve written on r time. There are some techniques that I can point your blog while others will you to that will help, but the best way to learn how to do it is to practice your calls to action and encourage readers • visiting your business site. see what works best for you, your blog, and your to apply the ideas The list could go on! Some of the actions that readers. you’ll want to call people to take will benefit your you’re writing about. blog, while others will encourage readers to apply the ideas you’re writing about. Of course, most will benefit both yourself and your readers.101
    • Day 23 – Call your readers to action  recommendation is to start with simple My TODAY’S TASK TODAY’S NOTES calls to action that encourage your readers to start interacting with you and doing something—leaving comments, answeringToday, your task is to write a post that calls your To give you an extra boost, here are four more questions, participating in polls, and so on.readers to take some kind of action. tips to call readers to action: In time, once readers start taking ownershipBefore you begin, I recommend that you read 1. Relevancy is key: Ask readers to perform of their experience on your blog, you can trymy post, 12 Tips to SNAP Readers out of an action that’s relevant to your blog’s topic. other, stronger calls to action.Passivity. This might sound a little obvious, but I’ve 3. Break through with humor: This point seen a lot of bloggers throw posts into theIt contains some useful tips and techniques that only applies to some blogs, but it can mix that call people to take actions that arewill help you in today’s task. Once you’ve read it, work well. I’ve seen a number of bloggers unrelated to their normal blogging. The moreall you need to do before writing your post is to encourage reader participation by asking relevant the call, the greater your chanceschoose the action that you want your readers to them to do something a little light-hearted that people will respond.take. and humorous. For example, some of the 2. Build a culture of action: One thing I’ve bloggers in our forum area ran a miniIf you’ve never written a call-to-action post before, noticed about building interactive blogs is competition inviting readers to submit achoose an action that’s simple and achievable (for that it often takes time. In my experience, caption for a funny photo—and had someexample, persuading readers to comment on the with a new blog it’s usual that’s there are good results.post, or subscribe to your feed). Another option only a few comments (if any), hardly anyonemight be to write about a book that you’ve read 4. Set homework: One of the reasons that the votes in polls, nobody responds to affiliateand can recommend, and call people to action to 31DBBB challenge works so well with my invitations … you catch my drift. However,buy it at Amazon with an affiliate link. Ultimately, own readers is that I’ve worked hard to make in time it’s possible to build up reader activitythe action that you’ll want to call people to will every day in the series practical, with its own on your blog.depend on your blog’s goals. task. I’ve tried to include ways for people to take the teachings and apply them straight away. Readers seem to appreciate the action-orientation of the challenge, since they not only learn the theory, but are able to bed If you’ve never written a call-to-action post before, it down in an experience with the homework choose an action that’s simple and achievable. task.102
    • Day 23 – Call your readers to action EXAMPLE INTERACTWhen you’re writing your call to action, it can be Once you’ve written your post, let us know howgood to be creative. The art is to do it in a way you went with it.that complements your blog’s unique personalityor brand. • Do you have passive readers?Plenty of blogs have ordinary “subscribe now” •  hat techniques did you use to call people Wor “download here” calls to action. How can you to action?make your call to action stand out? • Did it work?Ashley Ambirge, of The Middle Finger Project • How would you do it differently next time?has a uniquely sassy online persona, and shecarries that attitude through to her calls to •  hat have you done previously that has got Waction. The message she presents to new blog your readers doing something?visitors reads: Update your social media status or your blog—“You’re new-ish here! Welcome. You should and don’t forget to share it using the hashtagprobably subscribe to my RSS feed, because if #31DBBBDay23.you don’t, no one will like you. Peer pressure--what a bitch, right?”To many bloggers, that might seem a bit off-the- To see how Ashley makes a call to action in a FURTHER READINGcuff, but it fits well with Ambirge’s style—and it post, take a look at her piece, How to Get Morecertainly stands out in the crowd. Sign up to her Clients and Stop Sucking at Business. And at Kimberly Turner takes us on the ultimate tour ofnewsletter and you won’t click a Subscribe button: Baseball. Maybe. This post shows off Ashley’s calls to action in Blogosphere Trends + EffectiveAmbirge’s reads “Bombs away”. Who doesn’t expertise, but also makes you want to work with Calls to Action.want to click on that? her—which is, after all, what this post is about. I also elaborated on the topic of calling readers While this is an example of personal branding, to action in my post, How to Create Compelling there’s no reason why you couldn’t make just as Content by Inspiring Action. strongly branded calls to action for a blog that has a business brand.103
    • DAY 24Use a magazine to improve your blog
    • Day 24 – Use a magazine to improve your blog 3. Post ideas: Whether I choose a magazine Why analyze “old media”? TODAY’S TEACHING that focuses on my blog’s topic or not, I almost always come away with an idea for I can hear a few blogging evangelists asking what a new blog post. Sometimes the inspiration the point of this exercise is. Blogging is newAre you looking for some fresh design, marketing, comes from a completely unrelated topic, but media so why would we look to old media likestory, or even headline ideas for your blog? the article’s headline or title could be applied magazines to learn tips?Today‘s task might just help with this. to my niche.Today’s task is simple, really: it’s to analyze or While I agree that blogging is a very different 4. Learning about my niche: If you choose medium to magazine publishing, throwing outreview a magazine with a view to learning how you a magazine from your topic or niche, this everything that’s been learned by mainstreammight improve your own blog. exercise will keep you up to date on the latest media seems arrogant to me.This is an offline activity. All you need to complete news and developments.it is a pack of sticky notes, a notebook, a pen, a Sure, we should be innovating and working with 5. Writing tips: A good article on almost any the strengths of the blogging medium, but theremagazine (or a newspaper), and a free hour. topic can teach you a lot about effective are also lessons to be learned by looking at whatI work through this process on a regular basis communication. others are doing in different media and formats.because it helps me in a number of ways: A lot has been learned over decades of print 6. Monetization lessons: Mainstream media publishing, and we, as bloggers, have a great1. Marketing ideas: The way the magazine have been monetizing content for a long opportunity to take those learnings on board and markets and pitches itself to readers can time; while the web is a little different, some build upon them ourselves. teach us a lot. Look particularly at what of the same principles do apply. they do on the front cover—it’s all about 7. Reader engagement: While it’s a very convincing people to buy the magazine. different medium, magazines are increasingly2. Design ideas: Some magazines are better trying to become more interactive by running laid out than others, and the web is definitely competitions, setting up online forums, The way the magazine markets and pitches a different medium than print. However, we and using reader contributions. I often can still learn a lot about design from a good gain sparks of inspiration from seeing how magazine. Better magazines will give you an magazines reach out to readers. itself to readers can indication of what types of designs, colors, and layout are popular and in fashion. teach us a lot.105
    • Day 24 – Use a magazine to improve your blog 4. Once you’ve had a quick skim through the •  hat can you learn from ad placement W TODAY’S TASK magazine, make a note of what grabbed and design in the magazine? you on this first pass. Was it a headline, picture, color, the opening line of an article, •  hat level is this magazine pitched at WToday, you’ll analyze a magazine to find ways to or something else? Attention-grabbers are (beginners, intermediate, advanced, etc.)?help improve your blog. Which magazine should important in creating an engaging blog, soyou analyze? Almost any will do; however, if there’s •  hat does the magazine do well? W it’s worth noting what caught your eye.a magazine that covers the same topic as your What does it not do well? How would youblog, choose it. improve it? 5. Now take a second, slower read of the magazine. Start at the front cover and work •  hat are the limitations of the magazine WTIP: To the library! your way through. As you read ask yourself medium? How could you use this toMany public libraries have back copies of some of the following questions: capitalize on selling your blog?magazines, so you can do this task free, and •  ho is the target audience of this Wwith lots of magazines at once. As you read through the magazine, make note publication? of story ideas, design techniques, headline •  hat techniques are used on the front W structures, and other techniques that you mightThe process I use page to draw people into the magazine? want to try on your blog.I generally conduct this magazine review exercise •  hat makes you pause to read an article? W I’m not saying you should copy everything you seethis way: Why do you skip over other articles? in the magazine. Rather, I’m suggesting that you use it as an opportunity to learn and think about1. Set aside at least an hour and head to a •  hat types of headlines are they using? W your own blog. Some of what you see will naturally place where you’ll be left undisturbed (I tend How effective are they? lend itself to your blog; other parts won’t. to go to a cafe). •  ow are pictures used? H The value of this exercise lies in stepping away2. Bring along the magazine (or a few), a from your own blog for a little while, and gaining notebook, a pen, and a pack of sticky notes. •  hat colors are popular at the moment? W some fresh ideas and perspectives.3. Starting with the front cover, quickly skim •  ow are articles formatted (use of H through the magazine, placing a sticky note subheadings, bold, lists etc.)? on any page that catches your attention. •  ow does the magazine sell itself (looking H Don’t pause to read anything yet—just take forward to future issues, subscription a quick flick through to see what leaps out pages, etc.)? at you.106
    • Day 24 – Use a magazine to improve your blogTIP: A magazine in your niche TODAY’S NOTES INTERACTIf you choose a magazine on a topic that’ssimilar to your blog, it can be worthwhile to One extra way that a magazine can help you What did you learn from your magazine review?keep an eye out for opportunities to directly improve your blog is to identify people who might Share your ideas—and find those of others—usingimprove your blog. contribute content to your blog. the social media hashtag #31DBBBDay24.For example, you might pitch yourself as a Magazines that use reader contributions will oftencontributor to the magazine. I’ve done this anumber of times with mixed success, but if the publish the web addresses of those who submit FURTHER READING articles or tips. I’ve followed up these links manymagazine strongly relates to your blog, why times and have often approached these writersnot contact the editor to suggest that you do a If your magazine research makes you rethink for guest contributions to my blogs. Some of thempiece together? your approach to headings and titles, you might take me up on it, and it’s a great way to bring a enjoy the post The Pimp, The Grocer, and the fresh voice into your blog: read more about how IYou could offer to write an article or even a Hitman: Magnetize Your Headings Using the do this.regular column. I’ve seen a number of bloggers Power of the Unexpected.do this with success. Alternatively, you mightwant to pitch yourself or your blog as a If reviewing layouts, image placement, and titlespotential subject for an interview or article in makes you wonder about the factors that affectthe publication. readability, take a look at Kimberly Turner’s post, Blogosphere Trends + Improving Readability. One extra way that a magazine can help you improve your blog is to identify people who might contribute content to your blog.107
    • DAY 25Ask a question
    • Day 25 – Ask a question 6. They open up opportunities for follow-up 10.  eader answers can sometimes be used as R TODAY’S TEACHING posts as you summarize the answers, pick actual posts. I’ve promoted the comments up conversations, and even answer the people have made on my blog to actual blog question yourself. posts, adding a few extra comments of myAsking readers questions is a fantastic way to own and giving credit to the comment leaver,grow your blog. Here are 10 reasons why: 7. Well-worded questions can often rank high of course. This was one of the techniques we in search engines. Pick a question that discussed in the chapter on making readers1.  gives readers a sense of community and It people will ask when they search the web famous. participation—there’s nothing like coming to for answers and optimize your page for that a blog where readers are interacting. It gives question, and you could rank quite well. Some bloggers resist writing question posts the blog a sense of being alive. because they’re scared that nobody will answer 8. These posts can be great for generating the questions they ask. This can certainly be a2.  increases blog stickiness, as people are It incoming links to your blog as other bloggers little disheartening, but if you construct the post more likely to return to a blog that they’ve pick up the conversation on their own blogs. well and include your own answer to the question, contributed to. at least the post will be valuable, even if the 9. Reader comments give you a means of3. Question posts are fairly effortless to write conversation fails to take off. entering into conversation with those (although they can take some moderating). people, either by responding with your own Remember that only around 1% of blog readers4. Question posts are fantastic for helping you comment, or via email. In a blog’s early days, tend to leave comments, so a lack of response to gauge where your readers are at with it can be especially good to do this, as those to your blog doesn’t mean that no one is reading. certain topics. few readers you have can help to spread Keep trying! word of your blog through their networks.5. Reader answers can fuel future post ideas for your blog.109
    • Day 25 – Ask a question12 tips for asking your 6. Generate debate by asking an either/or 11.  Ask more personal (yet on-topic) questions. question, where there are only two answers That is, instead of just asking what peoplereaders questions on to choose from. These questions are easy to think about a question, ask them what theyyour blog answer, and they’re a great way to help train do in their own lives. For example, I once your readers to comment (the RAW/JPEG asked readers to tell me what their favoriteWhen it comes to asking your readers questions, question post above is an example of this lens was at dPS. It was answered by overthere are no real rules about the types of approach). 200 people and, at the time, was my mostquestions or how you should go about it. commented post.However, here are 12 tips that I’ve found helpful: 7.  using a poll tool to give your readers a Try way to vote on a number of options. 12.  ollow up your question posts with F1. Keep the question relevant to your blog’s summaries of the answers provided by topic. 8. Stimulate a conversation by asking a readers. If you receive a lot of responses it controversial question, but be aware that can be well worth your time to collate them2. Ask a question that builds on a previous readers could get fired up. into a new post. This shows your readers post; for example, on dPS I wrote a post that you value their answers, and creates a about the pros and cons of shooting in RAW 9.  willing to share your own answer, but Be really interesting post. After I’d asked my dPS versus JPEG. The post was quite popular so if you’re confident people will respond, you readers about their favorite lenses, I wrote I followed it up with a post asking readers might want to consider holding off on your a summary of the more popular DSLR what format they shot in. own answer, and giving it in a follow-up post. lenses. The response from these two posts This means you’ll need to write two posts was fantastic, as many readers not only had3. Ask questions that are answerable. This instead of one, but it also prevents you from a say on the topic, but also enjoyed reading might sound silly, but sometimes questions skewing your readers’ answers. what others were doing. are so hard to answer that people avoid them. 10.  o you have a frequently asked question that D4. Ask questions that readers will want to know you’re unable to answer? Ask your readers the answer to. For example, ask about a hot Ask your readers for their opinions—you might learn something topic on which readers will value insight into in the process! I often use “community what others think or do. workshop” type questions, where I simply for their opinions pose a question and ask readers for advice5. Suggest possible answers to your readers. on the topic. The comments section then —you might learn I find that when I give some answers or options in the post, it can help start a becomes the resource (I’ve included some examples below). something discussion. in the process!110
    • Day 25 – Ask a question 3. What Digital Camera Do You Use? Not just your blog… TODAY’S TASK Another question aimed at asking readers to share their own experiences of gear that Don’t restrict your questions to your blog: social they use. This gave me valuable information media is a great place to ask questions ofYour task for today is to ask a question of your about my readers, but also provided me with readers, and really engage on a different level.readers. great content for a follow-up post. I love to ask questions of my readers onExamples of question 4.  hat Shooting Mode Do You Shoot in W Twitter and Facebook, and I’ve had some great the Most? Asking this question provided an discussions on Google+ too. One of the bestposts opportunity to link to previously written posts aspects of using social media to ask questions is on the topic. I also followed it up with some its immediacy. Often your readers will respond inI use reader questions regularly on my posts on the same topic, as the question real time and you can get a bit of a chat going,photography site. In fact, they’re among the itself really opened up an area that some of which is really fun, and can generate a lot ofmost popular posts on the blog, both in terms my readers hadn’t explored much before. momentum.of page views and generating comments. I’vesupplied a few here to give you some ideas for 5. How Would You Photograph a Funeral? To make this tactic work really well, you candifferent types of questions you can ask: This is a community workshop-type post ask your connections to tag their responses to where I pose a reader’s question and let your question with the tag that you use on your1. Which Digital Camera Manufacturer other readers give their advice and tips. I find first update. That way, your readers can follow is Best? A question that caused real these question posts particularly effective as the whole discussion, and participate in it, very debate among readers, as there’s no clear- they not only answer a reader’s question but easily. It means that a single conversation can be cut, single answer. I followed it up with the community’s answers form a fantastic shared among many, over a timeframe of days a summary post: Best Digital Camera resource. Other examples of this include or even weeks. It also makes sifting through the Manufacturers. “How to Photograph Grandma” and “How responses much easier for you!2. Win a Prize by Telling Us About Your do I Photograph Kids?”. Digital Camera. In this instance I offered a 6. Share Your Best Shot Ever. This post prize for people to answer the question in the simply asked readers to share a link to their dPS forum. best photograph. It gave readers a chance to show off their work a little. and was very popular.111
    • Day 25 – Ask a question This approach might seem a little fake, and The Facebook comments showed that readers TODAY’S NOTES I guess it is on some levels. But often, even really appreciated this day’s activity. By answering starting a conversation in real life requires readers’ needs directly, the video generated a someone to put themselves out there. Don’t strong opportunity for this blogger to engageThe most common response I receive on this task hesitate to have someone get the ball rolling for closely with his audience.is from those just starting out with their blog, you … and then see where it leads.who feel they lack the readership to gain a decentnumber of responses to a question post. INTERACTI feel your pain on this one. You may want to EXAMPLElimit your question posts while you’re starting Invite others doing the 31DBBB challenge toout; however, I still think they’re worth running Online marketing strategist Tommy Walker is comment on your post by sharing it on socialoccasionally—you just need to work a little harder among the bloggers who have really embraced media with the hashtag #31DBBBDay26.to get the conversation going. social media. In particular, he’s built a strong following on Facebook, so when he ran a 21-dayHere’s what I’d do if I wanted to run a question Facebook challenge, he used the social network to FURTHER READINGpost successfully on a new blog: really build the interactivity of his event.1. Write your question post. Keep it on-topic Question posts are among the most-commented On Day 18, he opened a Facebook poll to find and easy to answer. A poll might be a posts on my blogs—but there are others! I cover out what participants wanted him to cover good starting place, as it’s easy for people them all in the article 13 Types of Posts that the following day—using events to promote a to complete, and keeps the responses Always get Lots of Comments. business, or using Facebook video to develop anonymous. engagement. His fans voted for video, and the next day he delivered: a Facebook video on using You may find that it’s only2.  the first person to answer your own Be Facebook video! question. This will start the ball rolling.3. Email a few friends, pull in some favors, your friends who respond, and ask others to help out by answering the but by having a few question or voting in the poll. people interacting,You may find that it’s only your friends whorespond, but by having a few people interacting, you could just draw outyou could just draw out other lurking readers. other lurking readers.112
    • DAY 26Improve another blog
    • Day 26 – Improve another blog TODAY’S TEACHING TODAY’S TASKWhen was the last time you made another It’s all very well to go out and try to make theperson’s blog better? Today’s task is to do just blogopshere better! But … just how do you Really, there is no limitthat: improve a blog that’s not yours. improve another person’s blog? Here are just a few ideas: to the ways thatMost bloggers naturally spend the vast majorityof their time improving their own blogs. There •  rite a high quality guest post that will be W you can help anothercan be a lot of positive results, however, when useful to another blog’s readers. blogger improveyou spend time improving other people’s blogssomehow. •  eave helpful and insightful comments. L their blog.I think it’s fairly obvious why it can be worth •  ink to the blog and send your readers to it. Lhelping another blogger achieve their goals, so I •  romote the blog in social media, perhaps Pwon’t go into it too much here, except to say that starting a social bookmarking campaign for Really, there is no limit to the ways that you canyou can make a major impression on another them. help another blogger improve their blog. The keyblogger by helping them achieve their goals fortheir blog. When you do this, any number of is to ask yourself what their needs might be, and •  ecommend to your readers that they Rbenefits can come your way. attempt to fulfill those needs in some way. should subscribe to the blog. The key with this exercise is to perform a •  mail the blogger with some suggested E significant action for the other blog. Don’t just topics you’d love to see them cover. There can be a lot leave comments on 50 blogs today; spend some • ntroduce them to a potential advertiser. I significant time focusing your energy on one other of positive results blog in your niche. when you spend time •  hare with them an affiliate program that S has worked for you. If your efforts go unnoticed by the other blogger,improving other people’s •  rite an email telling the blogger how you W don’t despair. Hopefully, in doing something for others you’ll learn something for yourself—and blogs somehow. found one of their posts helpful. gain good karma in the process!114
    • Day 26 – Improve another blog TODAY’S NOTES INTERACTThe simplest way to complete today’s task is Which blog did you help to improve today? Shareto leave a highly useful comment on another it with us on social media—or through your ownperson’s blog—but I’d encourage you to go further blog—using the hashtag #31DBBBDay26.today if you can.One of the most effective strategies to explore FURTHER READINGis guest posting on another blog. This has thebenefit of exposing your ideas to a new audience. How to get Guest Blogging Jobs explainsAlso, for the blogger that you’re writing for, your the basics of approaching bloggers to provideguest post means free content, a fresh voice, guest posts.and a day off from having to write a new piece fortheir blog. How to be a Good Guest Blogger expands on that idea with tips to make the opportunity aOf course, a guest posting spot on another blog success.can be tricky to obtain, but it’s worth the effort toat least try. To save you from wasting your time,write a guest post for a blog that focuses on asimilar topic to yours. This way, if the other blogdeclines to publish the post, you can always use iton your own blog.Lastly, if at first you don’t succeed try and tryagain. In time, someone will take you up on youroffer and when they do, you have an examplethat you can show another blogger. Each time itbecomes a little easier.115
    • DAY 27Hunt for dead links
    • Day 27 – Hunt for dead links What to do when you find TODAY’S TEACHING TODAY’S TASK a dead linkBlogging is built on the link. One blog links to Today your task is to go on a dead link hunt. There are a few options for handling dead links:another blog, which links to another, whose owner 1.  or update the link: If the link is simply Fixmakes comment on another. This is a wonderfulthing. But what happens when one of the blogs How do you detect wrong, or points to the wrong place, updatethat you’re linking to is retired, deleted, moves, dead links on your blog? it so that it works.or changes its link structure? The most obvious way to approach this task is 2. Delete the link: If the link is dead andThe link becomes dead (a condition known as to surf every page on your blog and manually there’s no correct or updated one, deletelink rot) and can cost your blog on two fronts: check all the links. This might be achievable on the link. I usually add a note to the post to a new blog, but on older blogs with hundreds or say that I’ve done this. Sometimes I also1. Readability: If they click on a dead link, your thousands of posts, it’s impossible. update the post with new links so that it’s still readers can end up on error pages, or being relevant and as helpful as possible. redirected to other irrelevant content. This There are many link-checking tools available but, can cause reader frustration and give the to be honest, I’m yet to find one that I’m really 3. Delete the post: Occasionally I’ve deleted a impression that your blog is old and out of happy with. I do hear that Xenu’s Link Sleuth post if its main point was to link to another touch. is well regarded. I’ve also used the free version post. A dead link makes this type of post of Dead-Links.com (which only checks to a obsolete. In those cases, I consider deleting,2. SEO: I’m unsure of the technicalities or what shallow depth) but I’d be keen to hear your rather than updating them. the latest research shows, but from what I suggestions of other options (see Interact below!). can tell a dead link is looked upon unfavorably Whether you use a tool or just tackle the task by search engines, and you run the risk of Here are a few link checking tools that are manually a few posts at a time, finding and fixing penalties. recommended in the WordPress Codex: dead links can be well worth the effort. • Link Valet • W3C Free Link Checker • AnyBrowser’s Link Checker • HTMLHelp Valet Link Checker • NetMechanic’s Link Check117
    • Day 27 – Hunt for dead links TODAY’S NOTES INTERACT FURTHER READINGDead link fixing isn’t the most glamorous task, How do you find dead links? What do you do when Dead link checks are just one aspect of theso while we’re at it, how about dealing with some you find them? Have any cool tools to share? routine blog maintenance that you’ll want toother dry tasks that many blogs could benefit Update your blog or social media account with undertake. The others are explained in the articlefrom? your thoughts—and the hashtag #31DBBBDay 27. Creating a Blogging Maintenance Routine that Isn’t a Chore, by author James.1. Spelling: Set aside some time to go over old posts looking for misspelled words. As you update your links, make sure the link text you’ve used is indicative of where the link will take2. Grammar: Most blogs have plenty of your readers. Georgina Laidlaw explains how in grammatical errors that could do with fixing. Is Your Link Text Letting You Down?3. Formatting: If you’ve ever done a site redesign, you’ll know there can be all manner of formatting issues that need to be addressed in old posts. It can be well worth your time to go back over your early posts and see how they look now in the new design.None of the above tasks is riveting blogging work,but eradicating these kinds of errors can make abig impact upon readers—and their perceptions ofyour blog.118
    • DAY 28Write a review post
    • Day 28 – Write a review post Are reviews irrelevant •  hotel, tourist destination, or airline if you’re a TODAY’S TEACHING a travel blogger to your blog? •  n outfit that a celebrity is wearing if you’re aToday’s task is another writing challenge: I’d like You might be thinking to yourself that your blog is a fashion bloggeryou to write a review post. I know that many unsuited to review posts. For example, you maybloggers already write reviews on their blogs but not write about products, nor be able to think of •  speech given by a politician if you’re a ayou can never have enough practice on this type any books that relate to your topic. political bloggerof post. Fear not—all you need to do is think a little • a gadget if you’re a tech bloggerThe web is increasingly being used by people creatively, and you’ll still be able to completeto research purchases and help them make today’s task. Here are a few ideas for reviews: •  tool or piece of equipment relevant to adecisions. I’m without any stats on this, but your nichelooking at the types of words and phrases that • booksusers type into Google to find my blogs, there’s •  n exhibition or gallery if you’re an art astrong anecdotal evidence that people are actively •  ovies or TV shows that are relevant to m bloggerusing the web to seek advice. Reviews on your your audience • a toy if you’re a parent bloggerblog help position you to meet this need. • another website in your niche • an instrument if you’re a music bloggerThe other great aspect about review posts is that • a restaurant if you’re a food bloggerthey show you have opinions on your topic. This Really, the list could go on and on—there’s somakes an impression on readers, and increases • an article from a magazine or website much scope with this type of post!the likelihood that they’ll see you as an authorityon the topic that you’re writing about. I know that many bloggers already write reviews on their blogs but you can never have enough practice on this type of post.120
    • Day 28 – Write a review post 4. Think about keywords: As you’re writing 7. Say who it’s good for: Is this right for me? TODAY’S TASK your review, think about the words and is a question that many of your readers phrases that people will be searching for in will be asking. As a result, identify who you search engines to find this information. It’ll think a product or service is right for. And,As you prepare to write your review post, keep vary from topic to topic but I find words like if it’s appropriate, talk about how you’d usethese tips for effective reviews in mind. price, problems, review, and so on, are often a product—the reasons why someone would1. Give an opinion: People read reviews to help searched for. Also, make sure you use the need or use it. Also provide tips to help those them make decisions. As a result, they want name of the item you’re reviewing at least who do buy the product to use it—this can opinions, so don’t be afraid to give them. If a few times, especially in the title. Make really lift a review. The more you can tie your you review an item that’s below par, don’t be sure you write for people as your primary review to the real-life experiences of your afraid to say so. This builds credibility with audience, not search engines (otherwise readers, the better. your audience and shows that you’re willing you risk your review being dominated by keywords), but do use your common sense to 8. Be personal: Often, it’s the more personal to give real advice. optimize your post well for SEO. reviews which tell a story, that seem2. Give a rating: Following from the point to connect best with readers on my above, I find that when you give some kind of 5. Make comparisons: I find readers respond photography site. Making a connection with concrete rating in a review, readers generally well to comparisons of products in a class. your readers by sharing your story and even respond well. If you’ve already written a review on the item showing real-life pictures or video (rather you’re comparing the current product or than official product pictures) can really make3. Be balanced: You can give an opinion and service with, make sure you link between the a difference. still be balanced about it. Reviews that posts. explain both the positives and negatives are 9. Visuals count: Anything that can help more rounded and helpful to readers. 6. Use an affiliate link: If there’s an affiliate your readers visualize the product you’re program associated with the item you’re reviewing will give your review extra impact. reviewing, use it in the post. Bloggers’ Use pictures, videos, screen captures, or opinions differ on this point, but in terms diagrams wherever you can to add depth to Make sure you of pure conversion rates on affiliate links, a your review post. well-written and balanced review can be very write for people as your good at driving sales. 10. Give details on how to obtain the item: primary audience, If your review is about a product that can be purchased, give as much information as not search engines. you can on how readers can buy it and how much it’ll cost.121
    • Day 28 – Write a review post TODAY’S NOTES EXAMPLE INTERACTOn a related note, if you’re writing reviews of Some bloggers are as nervous about reviews as If you have any further tips on writing reviews,a book or product that’s listed on a site like they are about opinion posts—after all, both post share them with us using the hashtagAmazon, consider writing a review for that site, types require authors to put themselves and their #31DBBBDay28.too. reputations on the line. Of course, once you’ve written your review postI’m aware of a number of bloggers who are prolific Brett McKay’s Art of Manliness blog includes for today, do share it on social media, and tell usreviewers on Amazon, and who have actually built occasional reviews, and some have become the how you found the exercise.up a good name and profile for themselves by site’s most-read pieces. His post 100 Must Readleaving insightful and helpful reviews on that site. Books: The Man’s Essential Library is a great example of a review post that’s not too daunting. FURTHER READINGWhile you’re forbidden to leave live links back to Okay, so you may not have time to review 100your blog in your Amazon review, each reviewer is books, but this post highlights the good, so For a detailed guide to writing excellent productgiven a profile page, and you can leave a link and there’s little chance of controversy arising from reviews, see Ray Maker’s article, How to Writeinformation about yourself there. Some reviewers this kind of review. Amazing Product Reviews.also include their URLs in their profile names. Look a little deeper into the archives and you If you really like the idea of review posts, andAgain, it’s all about creating value for those who might spot Soda Review: Which is the Best you want to take them more seriously, see Mikeread your review, and letting your usefulness help Cola? Here, Brett draws comparisons between Essex’s interesting post, Set Up Your Blog for“sell” you to potential blog readers. brands, but he keeps each product review short Product Reviews. and pithy, and developed a three-bottle-caps standard to rank each product. It’s a positive, Jenny Dean explains how to promote your easy way to do a review and, as you’ll see, there’s product review post on social media in her article plenty of room to include valuable information in Make the Most of Product Reviews on Your this format. Facebook Page.122
    • DAY 29Develop a plan to boost your blog’s profile and readership online
    • Day 29 – Develop a plan to boost your blog’s profile and readership online However, it can also be a complete waste of time. We’ll spend 20 minutes on Twitter, five minutes TODAY’S TEACHING on MySpace, 20 minutes reading other blogs on A trap that I see many bloggers falling into (and Google Reader, 30 minutes checking out photos have fallen into myself) is to sink significant of friends on Facebook, 20 minutes checkingToday your task is one that should help you time into building a presence on sites without out the latest threads on our favorite forums,think a little more strategically about where having really thought through two important then back to Twitter for 20 minutes, 15 minutesyou spend time building your online profile. considerations: following links we found on Digg…One of the ways that many successful blogs •  hether it’s the right site to build a w It’s easy to reach the end of the day and wondercreate a readership and profile is by spending presence on what we really achieved. We have very little tosignificant time and energy building up a show for the time we spend. Can you relate?presence on other websites. Whether it’s •  hat’s the blogger’s strategy and purpose wthrough forums, social bookmarking sites for being on the site. It’s a pity that so many of us struggle with this(like Digg or StumbleUpon), social messaging problem, because spending time on othersites (like Twitter), blogs, or any other type Perhaps I’m describing myself more than you websites has the potential to really build ourof site, investing time in other websites can here, but many of us as bloggers tend to drift blogs.be a great way to build your own brand. around the web, from site to site, without any real direction or purpose. One of the ways that many successful blogs create a readership and profile is by spending significant time and energy building up a presence on other websites.124
    • Day 29 – Develop a plan to boost your blog’s profile and readership online 2. Describe your desired • Flickr: A site dedicated to photo sharing  TODAY’S TASK was an obvious place for me to build a reader presence when starting my photography site.Today your task is one that some of us (I’m Spend around ten minutes describing the type ofreferring to myself here!) will find difficult. person you want to read your blog. For some, this •  ifehacker: This blog is all about helping its LDepending on your personality type, it could feel a will include very specific things like demographics technically interested audience with hackslittle rigid; however, I ask that you humor me and (age, gender, location), but for others, the or tips. It was a logical place for me, as allsee where the exercise takes you. audience description will be less specific. Your of my blogs share tips. potential readers might be defined as “beginnerThe task is to think strategically about how you photographers”, or the description may be based •  witter: Until recently, Twitter has been Tspend your time online. To do that, I’d ask you more on people’s needs or behaviors: “people mainly used by social media buffs; it’s ato consider these questions. Perhaps grab a interested in learning the latest patchworking logical place for me to have a presence fornotepad and pen to write down your thoughts techniques”, for example. the ProBlogger and TwiTip blogs.on each. • Forums: When I launched ProBlogger, I 1.  ow much time do H 3. Ask yourself this spent a lot of time on webmaster-related forums like DigitalPoint and Webmaster you have? question World. And when I started out with my photography blog I was involved with a lot Ask, “Where are my potential readers gatheringWork out how much time you have each day (or of photography forums. online?”week) to spend on other websites to build yourblog’s profile. Remember that you also need to •  logs: I still hang out on a lot of blogs that B This is a key question, and one you should askput aside significant time to spend on your own are related to my niches, but particularly yourself regularly. If your goal is to build your blog,blog, writing and interacting with readers there. in the early days of my photography blog, you need to know what types of people you want I was a daily commenter and occasional to attract, and be on the lookout for other sites guest poster on quite a few. where these types of people gather. •  tumbleUpon: Image-based posts tend to S Of course, this question is a little tricky to answer, do really well on StumbleUpon; as a result and it can take a lot of time to identify these it was a logical place for me to build a sites. Let me give you some examples of how I’ve presence for my photography blog. answered this question:125
    • Day 29 – Develop a plan to boost your blog’s profile and readership onlineThese were some of the locations that related 4.  hat opportunities Wto my own blogs. For your niche or topic, the list are there to build acould look quite different. Perhaps there are other If you’re acceptedsocial media sites, or different types of sites, presence?that attract the kinds of readers you want. For as a guest poster,example, Facebook features certain popular topics Once you’ve identified at least a couple ofwith strong followings, while LinkedIn might be a places where your potential readers are already pay particular attentionmore appropriate place to interact if your blog is gathering, spend some time looking at the opportunities you might have on these sites to to the types ofbusiness-related. build your own blog’s profile. posts that work wellKeep in mind to look for sites outside yourniche or topic. For example, Lifehacker is not a The opportunities will vary quite a bit from site on the site.photography blog, but its readership overlaps with to site. We’ve touched on some of them earlier,the types of people I want to read my photography including:blog. The webmaster forums were not specificallyforums about blogging, but their userbase I. Guest posting: If it’s a blog, does it accept II. Submit tips or news: Similarly, some blogsincludes a percentage of people who operate guest posts? Some blogs actively seek rely heavily on readers for story ideas andblogs. contributors (look for “Write for us” pages) will give credit to story sources. For example, while others may not advertise it, but do use in the early days of my photography blog,So look at related topics and consider whether reader contributions. I regularly emailed Engadget and Gizmodothere might be some kind of overlap between the when new cameras were released. I’d sendreaders that they have, and those you’re looking  you’re accepted as a guest poster, pay If them not only the news of new camerasto attract. particular attention to the types of posts but images that they could use. They didn’t that work well on the site. Look at comment always use my stories or link back to myAs I mentioned above, learning where your numbers and try to find out which types of blog, but when they did, it was a boost to mypotential readers gather online is a long-term articles might have done well previously on traffic, profile, and SEO.effort, but try to come up with at least a couple social media sites. Quite often, the bloggerof locations for the purpose of this activity. will be willing to help you and give you Quite a few blogs have links in their examples of what’s previously worked on their navigation areas inviting these types of tips blog. and ideas for stories, so go ahead and use them.126
    • Day 29 – Develop a plan to boost your blog’s profile and readership onlineIII Leaving super-useful comments: If there’s no way to share tips or write guest posts I once spoke with V. Profile pages: Does the site provide you an opportunity to set up a profile page, or for another blog, the comments section is a a blogger whose is there any other opportunity to promote strategy was to leave good place to really build your profile. yourself in some way? Most social media sites and forums offer users the ability to say Make an effort with comments. I once spoke with a blogger whose strategy was to at least one post-length a little about themselves, share links back to their blogs, customize your presences with leave at least one post-length comment on comment on another an avatar and/or background image, and blog in his niche another blog in his niche each day. By “post- nominate some keywords as tags. length”, he meant an in-depth comment of 500 words or more. The comment would each day.  to keep your brand consistent across the Try extend the ideas in the posts they were different sites that you’re building a presence commenting upon, share examples that on. Also, think about using a landing page as gave the posts more depth, add resources, IV.  Making connections and building your the page that you link to, rather than just the and so on, instead of just linking back to the network: If the site you’ve identified is more front page of your blog (read more on how I commenter’s own blog. The strategy was to of a social networking or social bookmarking do this with a Twitter Landing Page. add comments that were attention-grabbing site than a blog, then one strategy to work and highly useful. on is making connections with others on the VI. Signatures: If the site is a forum, or some site. Set up an account and start seeking other community site, you might have an The result was that the commenter was friends. Pay particular interest to making opportunity to add a signature to your regularly asked by others to guest post on friends with other active users and people comments. My only tip with this tactic is that their blogs. Readers would visit their blog who share your interests. sometimes less is more. Long, flashing, or even though the commenter rarely linked to bright signatures can look quite spammy, it in their comments.  can also be well worth identifying key It so instead go for a tasteful and descriptive players or influential members on the site. signature. The same strategy can be used in forums. Watch how they operate, and look for Start a new thread that’s a tutorial or highly opportunities to build relationships with them. Many opportunities to promote your work useful resource; people will want to know exist on other sites. For example, Facebook more about you if you do (more on this The idea is to be a genuine participant on offers a variety of applications that allow you strategy of using forums to promote your the site—to add value, and become a key to pull in your latest posts, list your blogs, blog here). member of the community. As you do this, and more. See what other bloggers are opportunities will arise that will allow you to doing, and test to see if their strategies work promote yourself and your blog a little more. for you too.127
    • Day 29 – Develop a plan to boost your blog’s profile and readership onlineVII. Advertising: This tactic won’t be for 5. Plan a strategy You can extend this step by actually planning out everyone, but many sites will give you the what an average day or week will look like for opportunity to engage with their readers Okay, so you’ve identified some sites where your you as you go about your blogging. I know of a through advertising. While this might sound potential readers are gathering, and you’ve few bloggers who’ve gone as far as setting up very expensive, there are quite a few sites assessed some of the opportunities that exist to a spreadsheet with each day and the hours on that enable you to start affordable ad build your profile on these sites. that day outlined. They then block out times in campaigns with a small budget. each day for certain activities. They fill up their Your task now is to think a little strategically about most productive times of the day with the most For example, social media sites like what you’re going to do on these sites. important activities (like writing content on their MySpace, StumbleUpon, and Facebook own blog) and then set aside time each day or all have advertising options that allow you to You don’t need to have a highly developed plan or week to spend on other sites. target specific demographics and even people strategy, but jot down some of the following: with certain interests. They all allow you to This type of schedule might only suit certain set up campaigns with small budgets, too. •  ow much time will you spend there? H bloggers—I personally use it when I’ve felt Prioritize which sites you want to spend particularly aimless with my time. Yet, even doing Other types of sites might not have quite more time on over the others. it for a week or two can help you to develop more the same sorts of ad opportunities, but they healthy online habits. could be open to other types of advertising. •  hat times of the week is it best to W If it’s another blog of a similar size to yours, be active on this site? Sites have their you might even approach the blogger to do own rhythms and some will be more active an ad swap: you put an ad on their blog, and on certain days or times than others. they put an ad on yours. •  hat types of actions am I going W Most sites will want toVIII.  olunteer to help: If it’s a forum site you’re V to take on this site? Which of the see your work before taking you on as a aiming to spend time on, you might have opportunities that you’ve identified in the opportunity to help out by becoming a step #4 will you pursue? moderator. Most sites will want to see your •  hat are my goals? These goals can W moderator, but if you work before taking you on as a moderator, but if you contribute genuinely over time, be informal. They might include things like contribute genuinely having a guest post published, becoming there may be opportunity in this area. a moderator, posting a certain number of over time, there may be Moderation status gives you a certain level of authority and profile on a forum, though take comments each week, becoming familiar opportunity in this area. with the owner of the site, and so on. care to avoid abusing the privilege.128
    • Day 29 – Develop a plan to boost your blog’s profile and readership online6. Analyze your current I’m not arguing that everything you do online has to be productive and helping to build your profile. TODAY’S NOTES activity Some bloggers use Twitter socially rather than to build blogs, and that’s fine; however, it’s still worthThe last step in this task is to analyze what you’re There’s a lot of information here. If you’re feeling asking yourself the question, and doing a littlecurrently doing with your time online. overwhelmed, take your time to go through analysis of your online habits. each of the main points. You might also find that • What sites do you spend time on already? stretching today’s task out over a few days helps TIP: Don’t lose focus you to really gain the most from it, because most •  o these sites actually help to build your D of these points are really worthy of a day’s effort. Avoid becoming obsessed with building your profile, or could you more effectively use Don’t rush through them. profile on other people’s sites. I’ve seen a your time elsewhere? number of bloggers spend so much time building Also keep in mind that the process described in •  re you being effective with the time you A their presence on sites like Twitter that they fail today’s task is one you can do periodically over spend on these sites? to build and develop their own blogs. Identify key time. For example, identifying where your potential sites to spend time on, but put your own blog at readers are gathering should reveal new answersI did some analysis some time ago. At the time, the top of the list and set aside as much—if not each time you perform this task over the comingI was sinking a lot of time into two main social more—time to work specifically upon it. months.media sites: Twitter and Plurk. While I enjoyedboth I realized that Twitter was a more effective So while you should put some time aside today toplace for me to be interacting. While I’d become complete this task, you’ll also want to build thisa top ten user on Plurk, it was a less effective use process into your regular blogging plan.of time for me, so I decided to stop interactingthere and focus my energies upon Twitter. I’ve seen a number of bloggers spend so much time building their presence on sites like Twitter that they fail to build and develop their own blogs.129
    • Day 29 – Develop a plan to boost your blog’s profile and readership online A similar strategy-development process to the INTERACT FURTHER READING one I’ve outlined above is explained in Grow Your Blog’s Readership by Targeting Readers.How’s your strategy looking? Share it—and find A post that outlines how I use social media sites Run a StumbleUpon Campaign on your Blogout about what others have done—on social as satellites around my blogs rather than the explains how to use StumbleUpon to build yourmedia, using the hashtag #31DBBBDay29. main activity is Home Bases and Outposts: How profile. I Use Social Media in My Blogging. Interested in YouTube, but not sure where to 10 Ways to Find Readers for Your Blog by start? See Hasan’s article, The Blogger’s Leveraging Other Online Presence shares ten Ultimate Guide to YouTube Success. tips for building a presence on other people’s sites that you can leverage to build your own profile. S  top wasting time on Facebook … and use it to your advantage instead! Matt Robison explains My series on social media marketing for bloggers how in Use a Facebook Campaign to Find New starts with the article, Using Social Media Sites Fans. to Grow Your Blog’s Traffic.130
    • DAY 30Monitor statistics on your blog
    • Day 30 – Monitor statistics on your blog Some bloggers will be used to doing this type 4. Questions being asked: What questions are TODAY’S TEACHING of analysis, and don’t need a lot of help, but if readers typing into search engines to find you’re new to blog metrics, here are a few to pay your blog? These could make great future particular attention to: posts (learn more about how to do thisYou’ll recall that, at the outset of this challenge, here).I encouraged you to make sure you had a metrics 1. Overall visitors: Probably the metric thepackage installed on your blog. By now, you should majority of bloggers look at the most. Are 5. Keywords that send traffic: Knowing thehave at least a month’s worth of stats to look at. visitor numbers increasing or decreasing? keywords that people search for to find yourIf you’ve yet to install a stats package, you should What might be the reasons for these site is very useful. It helps you to know howput one on your blog a.s.a.p., as it’ll help you changes (for example, frequency of posting, to optimize your blog for search engines, andtrack how your blog’s performing. topics, links from other sites, etc.)? gives hints about the content your readers are searching for.We’ll take some time today to do a little analysis 2. Most popular posts: Which posts are beingof your blog’s statistics. There’s a wealth of read most? This information is important for 6. Seasonal traffic: Are there any seasonalinformation in them that can be incredibly useful. a couple of reasons. For starters, it gives trends that you should be aware of, and you hints about the topics you could write could use to capture more traffic? WhatNote: Not just now… more on. Secondly, it gives you some key causes any bumps in traffic levels, and howThis exercise tends to become more useful over pages on your site to optimize—that is, think can you prepare yourself better next time?time. If this is the first time you do it, I hope about how you can drive people from these (Read more on seasonal traffic and howit’ll be illuminating. However, the longer you’ve posts deeper into your blog. to capture it.)been collecting metrics on your blog, the more 3. Referral stats: Which sites send you the 7. Daily and weekly trends: Another trend touseful this analysis can become as you track most traffic? If it’s another blog, perhaps you watch is what your traffic does over differenttrends and see patterns emerge over time. could develop a relationship with the owner periods of time. What are the most popularAs a result, this type of exercise should be built to elaborate on this. If it’s a search engine, times of day? What days of the week areinto your regular blogging routine—I try to do how can you use on-page SEO techniques most popular? Knowing this gives you insightan in-depth review each month. to adapt the posts and see your blog rise to plan new post publication effectively. even higher in the search results? If you’ve yet to install a stats package, you should put one on your blog a.s.a.p., as it’ll help you track how your blog’s performing.132
    • Day 30 – Monitor statistics on your blog8. Bounce rates: Metrics packages like Google 12. RSS stats: If you’re using a tool like that of other pages. When I investigated, Analytics provide you with a bounce rate stat, FeedBurner to manage your RSS feeds, I found that the page had some very bad which measures how many people arrive at you’ll have access to more useful information. formatting issues that made the page almost your site and then leave again without viewing FeedBurner tells you the number of unreadable; I was able to fix the problem and any extra pages. I find this a key metric to subscribers, and also which posts are the keep more readers engaged as a result. watch—and attempt to change. Set yourself most read; again, this highlights the content some goals to lower this rate and raise the people are engaging with, giving you some 16.  onetization stats: Many of us want M page views per visitor by making your blog good information on what works best. to make money from our blogs, so it’s sticky. important to pay attention to stats on how 13. Outbound clicks: Some metrics packages will your blog is performing money-wise. The9. Page views per visit: Similarly to bounce give you this type of information. If you have metrics you have at your disposal will vary, rate, this is a good metric to watch over access to it, knowing which links people are but if possible, try to work out where on your time as it shows you whether those coming clicking to leave your blog can be helpful. It blog the income is coming from specifically. to your blog are going deep into your blog’s can reveal what motivates your readers, and For example, if you use Google Analytics and content, or simply looking at the page they what types of information they want more of. AdSense, you’ll be able to see which pages arrive on. My goal on my blogs is to see this are earning more than others. Alternatively, number increase over time. For tips on 14.  here people click on your page: Stats W use the channel or tracking options your ad how to increase page views, also check out packages like Google Analytics and CrazyEgg network or affiliate program provides to help 4 Quick and Simple Ways to Increase will create heatmaps or visual pictures of you work out which posts are performing. Page Views on Your Blog. the areas people click on when they visit your blog. I find CrazyEgg’s heatmaps better 17. Other stats: There are plenty of other10. Time on site: Another stat that can give you than Google Analytics, but you do need to stats, and they can be very revealing when a sense of whether readers are engaging set the service up on specific pages of your you dig into them. Knowing the geographic with your content is time on site, which blog to be able to generate the maps. This regions of your readers can be advantageous looks at how long visitors stay on your blog. information is really worthwhile when you’re as you think about content or dealing with The longer they’re staying, the more likely thinking about the design and layout of your advertisers; being aware of the screen it is that they’re reading, commenting, and blog, but it can also help you to lay out posts resolution and browsers people are using interacting (or that they forgot to close their to test where people click. to view your site is good from a design browsers!). perspective. Also worth reviewing are 15. Exit pages: This metric tells you which stats on how many posts you’ve done (post11. New and returning visitors: This one gives pages of your blog people leave from. A frequency can help you monitor how you’re you a sense of whether you’re succeeding in couple of years ago, I checked my stats and performing personally); how many comments converting people to loyal visitors. noticed that the percentage of people leaving you’ve had, and on which posts; and more. a particular page on my blog was triple133
    • Day 30 – Monitor statistics on your blogWarning: Avoid becoming Secondly, keep in mind that blogs take considerable time to build. Over the years I’ve INTERACTa stats addict analysed hundreds of successful blogs and have found that in most cases they’ve been going forMost new bloggers go through a period where What have you learned from your stats analysis? at least 2-3 years before they hit the big time.they check their stats every hour. This is normal, Share it on your blog and social media using thebut it can add up to a lot of wasted time. #31DBBBDay30 hashtag. The key with most successful blogs is that they push through the lean patches of their early days.I personally try to do a quick check of my statsmaybe two or three times a day, just looking at While I’ll stop short of promising you massive traffic, if you hang in there for three years, you FURTHER READINGtraffic numbers mainly to see if there’s any spike should see improvement over time.in traffic that I need to know about. Then, each In the post, Using Google Analytics to Comparemonth, I put aside an hour or two to go deeper Thirdly, aim for exponential growth. Instead of Traffic from Different Periods of Time, I useand look at some of the above statistics more focusing upon raw numbers of how many readers the Compare feature on Google Analytics toclosely. you have or don’t have, set yourself a different track my blog’s progress by comparing it to other kind of goal. What I Iearned in the early days of periods. my own blogging was that it was more powerful TODAY’S NOTES to think about growing my blog by a certain Stats aren’t everything, as Stephen Guise percentage each month, rather than by a given explains in his article, 2 Blogging Myths: TrafficYou may feel a little depressed about what you number of readers. Measures Success, and Content is King.see when you delve into your blog’s stats. After Increase your blog’s traffic consistently over time, All traffic is not created equal! See Johnwhat seems like ages spent building a blog, it can and you’ll hit exponential growth. To find out more, Burnside’s article, Understand Your Site’sbe quite disillusioning to be confronted with the have a look at this video, where I explain my Traffic, for full details.reality that only a handful of people are visiting. experience of growing my blog.If this is you, I’d like to share a few words ofencouragement.Firstly, you’re not alone. Almost every blogger (bigand small) that I’ve met tells me of this feeling inthe early, and sometimes latter, days of their blog. The key with most successful blogs is that they push through the lean patches of their early days.134
    • DAY 31Plan the next steps for your blog
    • Day 31 – Plan the next steps for your blogToday is Day 31 in the 31-day challenge! •  ix posts a week (Sundays are a day off s TODAY’S TASK from posting)Congratulations to those who’ve made itthrough to this point. I hope you’ve found it to • each post day having its own type of postbe a helpful experience. Whether you’re a blogger who’s struggling with discipline or routine, or you’re an old-hand at seat- • ime on Sundays for determining the t of-your-pants blogging, I would highly recommend specifics of each post (topics, titles etc.) TODAY’S TEACHING setting aside a little time to develop some kind of a plan for the next month. • an administration task each MondayFor this final task, I’d like to encourage you to take •  romotional activities on Tuesdays, p Grab a calendar (whether it be physical ora step back from the last month of activity and Wednesdays, and Thursdays computer-based) and map out specific tasks thatlearning in order to plan your next steps. you want to achieve over the next month. Let me show you what this might look like with a calendar •  day for emailing readers, answering their aWhile most bloggers tend to drift aimlessly questions, etc. each Friday that I whipped up in Google Calendars.along in their blogging, those who are successfuloften set aside time to think strategically about • stats analysis on the last day of the month The calendar below is based on some of thetheir blogs. This doesn’t mean you need a highly activities we’ve covered over the last month.developed strategy; it just means you need to • brainstorming on the first day of the month. You can see that this plan includes:think about what you want to achieve and how youwant to do it. I would highly recommend setting aside a little time to develop some kind of a plan for the next month.136
    • Day 31 – Plan the next steps for your blogThe daily tasks will, of course, vary from blog to I do these regularly myself (most of them on When you’re putting together your plan, don’tblog, so you won’t be able to simply adopt this at least a monthly basis). It’s unnecessary to bite off more than you can chew. If you’re justplan. replicate them all for yourself, but please don’t starting out with your blog, one of the dangers simply end the challenge today and shelve what you need to be aware of is blogger burnout. ManyYour situation will be different from mine. For you’ve learned. Pick two or three tasks that you’ve bloggers put so much effort into the first monthexample, you might have a different frequency of found helpful, and plan to do them more and or two of their blog that they’re exhausted after aposting or include different activities—the key is extend them further. few weeks. They’re unable to sustain that level ofto lay out a plan of the main things you feel are activity over the long haul.important to your blogging. TIP: Tell someone your plan Seven posts per week is an unrealistic goal forOf course, the above calendar looks very neat. Once you’ve worked out what you’re doing next many blogs. If yours is one of them, don’t beatBut you’ll find that various tasks (comment with your blog, tell someone. yourself up about it. Three to four high qualitymoderation, email, social media presence, posts per week is a better outcome than sevenand so on), and other opportunities and Plans often remain just plans and don’t become average ones.challenges will arise daily to take you off course. reality. One way to make them happen is toIf you identify a main task or two for each day, share them with others. Share your plan with Promoting your blog three times a week bythough, you know you’ll achieve a good balance your blog buddy, tell us about it on social commenting on other blogs, having a presenceof activity over a month. media, or find another friend or family member in forums, and networking with other bloggers to share it with. may be difficult for you to fit in. That’s fine. ScaleWith this calendar in place, there’s no need it back to a level you can sustain and in time youto have to work out what to do each day when might find yourself able to take it up a notch.you start blogging; you just have to do the taskoutlined for the day. TODAY’S NOTES The key is to work out how much time you can allocate to blogging, then prioritize the tasks youOver the last 31 days we’ve covered a lot of need to do to make your blog a success.ground. By no means have I touched on every I’m very aware that many bloggers taking thisaspect of blogging, but my hope is that we’ve challenge are at the beginning of their bloggingcovered at least a few practical things that you journey and are very much blogging on the sidecan build into your regular blogging routine. while they work another job, look after their children, and so on.Look back over the last 31 days of tasks andidentify the ones you might want to perform The calendar that I’ve produced for this task may,regularly on your blog. I chose the selection of as a result, be quite overwhelming, as it has taskstopics and tasks in my calendar simply because on every single day of the month.137
    • Day 31 – Plan the next steps for your blog I plan for the year ahead. On a big picture-level, EXAMPLE I’m not thinking about specific posts I want to INTERACT write. I’m asking what big events I want to plan for in the upcoming 12 months. These mightWhen planning for my blogs, I tend to look at Did you create a blogging strategy? Share your include new products to develop and launch, sitethem on two different levels. goals with us on social media, using the hashtag redesigns, major post series, and so on. I try to #31DBBBDay31—and search on that tag to find produce a calendar that plots these events for the out what others have done.Looking at the big picture year ahead. I’d also plot holidays, conferences, and so on in this calendar.I tend to do this at the end of a year when I’m FURTHER READINGlooking forward to the upcoming year. Looking at the small A content strategy could become part of yourI look back on the year that has been. I’minterested in many factors here, including traffic picture overall blogging strategy. Georgina wrote about creating a content strategy in Easy Contentstats, reader engagement, profitability, and things The other main focus of my own planning is on a Scheduling for Beginners.like branding and reader sentiment. more immediate level, and is ongoing. It’s good to check out the strategies others haveStrategically, I’m looking at things like a SWOT For dPS, I’m thinking a week or two in advance used to achieve success. Six Things I Learned inanalysis. Through this, I can examine where the about content that needs to go up, and I have My First Six Months as a ProBlogger explainsblog is positioned in terms of the niche, what it a loose, written plan for this. I’m also aware of John Saddington’s blog strategy.is doing and not doing well, and what other blogs other short-term projects that need to happen,are doing and not doing well. and I try to break those down into achievable tasks.I ask in what significant ways could the site beexpanded. Asking this question for ProBlogger These could include anything from planning out aresulted in the launch of the ProBlogger Job series of posts, to writing an ebook or developingBoards. For dPS, one answer to this question was a marketing plan for a new product, to schedulingto add a post-production section to the blog. in time to reach out to other blogs or media for marketing and networking purposes.138
    • What now?Thanks for taking part in the 31 Days to Get more from Problogger BONUS TASKSBuild a Better Blog challenge. I hope thatyou’ve found the process to be a helpful one Everything I know about blogging is in two Don’t forget: You can continue the 31DBBBthat has given you some ideas on how to places: process further with our bonus downloadabletake your blog to the next level. pack. It contains five extra tasks that cover 1. ProBlogger.net areas in which our readers expressed Many new and experienced bloggers have special interest. We couldn’t fit them allIt doesn’t end here into a 31-day program, but we didn’t want visited already, but if you haven’t done so,The feedback that I’ve had from this stop by and subscribe to ProBlogger the you not to have this information, to:challenge has been very encouraging. Over blog. With over 5,500 posts in our archives •  efine what you want people to say D19,000 bloggers have engaged with the on countless aspects of blogging, there’s about your blogteaching and tasks so far—many reporting plenty to explore. You can subscribe to •  ind out what people say about your blog Freal growth in their blogs. ProBlogger to get regular updates, advice, and tips sent direct to your email inbox. •  ake sure your posts are findable MAs a result I’d love to keep what we’ve • Get to know content SEOstarted going. 2. ProBlogger the Book • Review your calls to action A condensed and up-to-date version of ProBlogger the blog, this hard copy book For the sake of completeness, the pack also is written specifically with the new blogger contains two tasks and a list of resources (and the blogger who is yet to start) in mind. from the previous edition of 31DBBB, so Get more details at ProBloggerBook.com you have the whole lot at your fingertips: I’d love to connect with you online, too. • Interlink your old blog posts Join me on Twitter at @problogger, • Breathe life into an old post Facebook and Google+. Keep in touch! •  7 must-read tips and tutorials for 2 bloggers139