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ProBlogger Podcast: Blog Tips to Help You Make Money Blogging

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Business
Education
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Blog Tips to Help You Make Money Blogging

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Blog Tips to Help You Make Money Blogging

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Top 5 favorite podcasts

By Blue Owl Night Bird - Aug 09 2019
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Full of useful info! I recommend going back to the first episode and listening in order- I found doing that to be extremely helpful. This podcasts gives me encouragement, insight, and structure to build a better business. Cheers mate.

Fantastic!

By CarolinaPrincess843 - May 04 2018
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I love listening to Darren on my way to work! He puts things in a way that is easy to understand.

iTunes Ratings

325 Ratings
Average Ratings
288
15
10
2
10

Top 5 favorite podcasts

By Blue Owl Night Bird - Aug 09 2019
Read more
Full of useful info! I recommend going back to the first episode and listening in order- I found doing that to be extremely helpful. This podcasts gives me encouragement, insight, and structure to build a better business. Cheers mate.

Fantastic!

By CarolinaPrincess843 - May 04 2018
Read more
I love listening to Darren on my way to work! He puts things in a way that is easy to understand.

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Cover image of ProBlogger Podcast: Blog Tips to Help You Make Money Blogging

ProBlogger Podcast: Blog Tips to Help You Make Money Blogging

Updated 2 days ago

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Blog Tips to Help You Make Money Blogging

186: A Step-By-Step Guide to How I Write a Blog Post

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How I Write a Blog Post – My Step-By-Step Process

Today, I want to walk you through my step by step process for writing a blog post!

I get asked about this regularly over in the ProBlogger podcast listeners Facebook group. So today I put together some notes on the workflow I use and want to run you through.

Before I do – and speaking of the Facebook group – I wanted to let you know that I’ve shared some exciting news with members of that group  in the last week – particularly about an event that ProBlogger is involved in running later this year in the US.

We’ve not fully launched the event yet publically but if you’re curious about coming to an event that ProBlogger is collaborating on – head to the Facebook group and check it out.

But enough of that! – let’s get into today episode.

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Good day, it’s Darren from ProBlogger. Welcome to Episode 186 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind ProBlogger.com, a blog, podcast, event, job board and series of ebooks all designed to help you as a blogger to start a blog, to grow that blog’s audience, to create some really useful content for that audience and to make some money from your blog.

Today, I want to walk you through my step by step process for writing a blog post. I get asked quite regularly over in the ProBlogger podcast listeners group on Facebook about my writing process. Whilst I’ve talked about different aspects of my process, various episodes of this podcast, I’ve never really gone from start to finish. Today, I want to walk you through it.

Before I do, I just did give you a little hint, that we’ve got some events coming up with ProBlogger. This year, we are planning to do an Australian event. In fact, there may be more than one, we’ll let you know a little bit more about that in the coming weeks. But we also, this year, want to do something in the US because we do have so many of our readers of ProBlogger, listeners of this podcast in the US.and speaking of the Facebook group – I wanted to let you know that I’ve shared some exciting news with members of that group  in the last week – particularly about an event that ProBlogger is involved in running later this year in the US. This year, we are planning an event in the US.

Whilst we’re not quite ready to launch details of that quite yet, I’m working with some partners on this particular event, we have let some details slip out in the Facebook group. We wanted to do a bit of a soft launch. If you’re curious about coming to an event in the US, go join the ProBlogger Podcast Listeners Facebook Group. Do a search on Facebook for ProBlogger Podcast Listeners and you will find the group. Join and you will find some details in there. By the time this episodes comes out, you may even be able to pick up an early bird ticket to that event. If you’re curious about coming to an event in the US, check out the Facebook group. If you’re in Australia or willing to come to Australia later in the year, stay tuned, we’ll let you know a little bit more about that.

But enough of all that, enough of me teasing you about events. I know I’ve been known for doing that. I want to get into today’s episode. Let’s get into talking about my writing process.

Ben over in the Facebook group today asked me this morning if I could talk a little about how I go about writing blog posts. He particularly wanted to know how I outline my posts and then how I go about ordering the writing process; when do I write headlines, introductions, and that type of thing.

I started to write back a rather long post to Ben describing what I go through. As I was writing it, I realized I’ve never really fully run through that whole process on this podcast. That’s what I want to do today. I hope it will be helpful for you. I have touched on some of the different things that I’m going to talk about in previous episodes, so I’m not going to rehash all of that today. I’ll refer you back to some of those episodes as we go along.

Let’s get into it. The first thing that I do is pretty logical, really. It’s to pick a topic. Pick something that I want the post to be about. I should say this process really does apply to creating videos on YouTube or a podcast even. I went through almost this exact process in preparing this podcast. I actually use a very similar process when I’m creating a talk as well, a presentation, a keynote presentation.

This, for me, given the type of blogs that I have is almost always about either identifying a question that one of my readers is asking that I can answer, or identifying a problem that one of my readers has that they’re trying to overcome, or identifying a task that someone is trying to complete, or identifying a goal that someone is trying to reach.

I’m a teaching blogger, I’m a how-to kind of blogger. 95% of my posts are how to content. I always start with one of those things; a question, a problem, a process, a task, or a goal that someone is trying to achieve. Generally, that defines the topic of my post. I’m coming from that perspective today as a teaching blogger, I’m sure other people would choose topics based upon other things but that’s where I’m coming from.

Number two, this is something I think is really important, I don’t see too many other people writing about this when they outline their process. Number two for me is to remind myself of my reader. I’ve kind of eluded to this in my first point, picking a topic, because almost all the posts that I write tend to come out of questions or problems or goals that my readers have. In this step, I take a moment before I write anything to try and imagine the situation of my reader. You are so much more effective in your blogging if you write with your reader in mind, if you write to your reader. I think it’s really important to pause before you write, to picture your reader.

I’ve talked in previous episodes about how I’ve got avatars or reader profiles. I think I talked about this in Episode 33, about how to develop an avatar. In this step, I go a little bit deeper and I try and write a sentence before I write anything else about who my reader is and how they look at this topic, how they view the topic that I’m talking about, the perspective that they might have on this topic.

If I’m writing about a problem, why do they have that problem? Why does my typical reader have that problem? How do they feel about that problem? What have they previously tried to overcome that problem? What has stopped them from solving that problem in the past? Take a few minutes to put yourself in the shoes of your reader. This might be about you going back in time to when you had that problem or when you had that question, and actually just let yourself marinate in the situation of your reader for a moment because if you write from that perspective with that person in mind, you’re going to be so much more effective in your writing. You’re going to write with empathy and you’re going to write a relevant piece of content for them. You’re not going to write a hypothetical post, you’re going to write something that’s going to solve a person’s problem.

Let me give you a really quick example. I might choose to write a post on my photography blog answering a really common question that we get quite a bit. The question we often get is, “How should I light my portraits?” That’s a typical question we get. It’s a good question, but there’s a lot of different ways that I can approach that question depending on who is asking the question. My readers, who are they? What type of gear do they have? What type of budget do they have to buy new gear? What type of experience or level are they at in their photography?

If I was doing this for my readers on Digital Photography School, I’d write a short sentence or two describing my reader. If I was doing this for DPS readers, I might identify that a lot of our readers are just starting out with photography, they’re beginners. Their perspective, their viewpoint of lighting a portrait is they don’t even know where to start. They may not have too much lighting gear at their fingertips, they may have one flash, they may not even have a flash, they might be just using lights around their home, they might be on a real budget.

Knowing that gives me a viewpoint to write that article from, it gives me a perspective to tackle, it gives me a real understanding of who might be reading their article. I’m not going to write an article about how to light a portrait with professional photography gear in this case, I’m going to write something from the perspective of someone just starting out. Think about your reader, think about the situation they’re in, the feelings they have, the questions that they have around your topic. The more you can do thinking around that, the better position you’re going to be in to outline an article and to write that article with real empathy and in a relatable way.

The other thing I’m thinking about when I’m thinking about my reader is what do I want them to do after reading my article? Thinking about the call to action before you start writing anything is really important because it will shape your article, it will shape your headline, it will shape your introduction, it will shape the way you write your main part of the content, and it will shape your conclusion. Don’t just get to the end of your article and ask yourself, “What do I want my readers to do now?” Ask that question before you start writing.

Number three, create a working headline. This is something that I’ve actually changed my perspective on, I used to write the article and then write a headline. I know some people prefer to do it that way and that’s totally fine, I understand that perspective. What I like to do is spend a little bit of time taking that topic, taking that reader perspective, and trying to come up with a headline. I find that sometimes in the creating of a working headline that I find a unique angle to write the post from, particularly given the work I’ve just done on understanding my readers.

If I want to take that example a little bit further, the question I’m writing about is how do I light a portrait. I’ve done the work in understanding my reader, I understand they’re beginners, they don’t have much lighting gear. I might brainstorm headlines and come up with things like how to light a portrait using lights you find around your home. That might be something that interests that type of reader. Or, how to light a portrait when you’ve only got one flash.

They’re not really fully formed headlines yet, but they’re good enough for a working headline. I might choose one of those. Really, by coming up with a variety of those type of headlines, I actually now have an angle for my article. I might take that one how to light a portrait using the lights that you find around your home, that gives me the whole article. I can start to think about what lights do I have around the home and begin to construct that particular article. Or if I choose the one how to light a portrait with just one flash, I now have the boundaries of what that article needs to be about. For me, creating that working headline upfront sometimes just gives a little bit more tightness to what the article is about.

I will say, it’s important that this is just a working headline, it’s just a working title. I often, if not always, go back and tweak and change the headline later after I’ve written the article, or sometimes even as I’m writing the article I’m thinking about I need to change that headline a little bit.

I do talk a lot about headlines in Episode 156. If headlines is something you want to learn more about, I give you a variety of different ways to come up with a great headline for your article in that episode 156.

Number four is to brainstorm and list the main points or the main teaching of your article. I’m coming from someone who’s teaching in most of my articles. For me, it’s about trying to construct something that is going to teach people or is going to convince people of something. At this point, I’m not really writing a lot, I’m coming up more with a bullet point list, and I do this in a text document on my computer, sometimes I’ll do it on a notepad or I’m doing this in mind mapping. I did talk about that in Episode 182. I use a couple of softwares to create mind maps. Sometimes, for some of my larger articles, I like to visualize it. In many cases, it’s about doing it on a piece of paper or on a text document.

I’m trying at this point to brainstorm the answers to the questions that I’ve identified, or solutions to problems, I’m outlining the steps that a reader needs to go through to learn a new skill or master a process. I’m really trying to add the bones to the article, I’m not adding muscles, I’m not really adding much at this point. I’m just coming up with bullet points. Those bullet points will often become subheadings in my articles. I tend to almost start with a list, my articles don’t always end up as a list although sometimes they do. I find that by coming up with some main subheadings for my article for the main sections, and then beginning to come up with a few sub points for each of those sections, that’s where the article begins to form for me.

This is really the outlining process. I often start with more points than I actually end up using in the article. I’m thinking about all the possible things I could write and then I begin to call it down and come up with the main things that I want to say, the most valuable things.

I don’t get too precious about how many points I’m going to make, I know some bloggers only create lists of seven things. I don’t do that, I use as many points in my articles as I think are useful and I try and make it the best article I can. Some of my articles and podcasts have one point, sometimes it’s most effective if you’ve just got one big idea, and sometimes I have up to 20 or 30. I think I had a podcast recently with 21 points in it.

It’s about trying to come up with what you’re going to say, outline that in a bullet point or in a mind map in some ways. You may want to write a sentence about what you’d say in each of those sections, or some sub bullet points as well.

I think it’s really important to arrange those points in the right order. This is something I think a lot of bloggers could improve their writing by just taking a moment or two to ask themselves is this the right order? Is it a logical order? Are my points building upon one another?

Most articles, it’s much more effective to put them in a logical order, in an order that builds momentum and makes sense to your readers. Spend some time on that. At this point, I’m still outlining, I try and take a bit of a critical look at the outline I’ve come up with. When I’m happy with the outline, I look at it and then I start to ask myself some hard questions. This sometimes isn’t a very nice process, but sometimes things like is this outline going to be useful? Usually, you can tell from an outline whether it’s going to be a lightweight article or whether it’s gonna be really useful. Is someone going to have a fist pump moment when they read this article, given the points you’ve come up with, or are they going to say that was okay? “They got me to click but it didn’t really change my life.” Is that article useful? Is it meaningful? Is it going to change someone’s life in some way?

What questions might people still be asking at the end of reading that type of article, looking at the points that you’re going to make. Will they have some questions? Make note of what those questions are. Is there something that you don’t know as the author yet about this topic that you really should know? Sometimes when we write articles, we get to the end of the article and we go, “I didn’t really know enough about that. I should’ve done some research on that.” What arguments and objections might people have about this article having a look at that outline?

I think it’s really important to ask those types of questions, be critical about the outline that you’ve come up with. Don’t just ask those questions at the end when you’ve written the whole thing. I think it’s important to ask some of those questions as you’re drafting an outline for your article. Because sometimes, at this point in the process, you realize that you need to go away and do some research, or that you need to go away and ask some questions of your own to learn more about that particular topic, or maybe at this point having asked those questions you think actually this is a bit of a weak article, I’m not going to write it.

That’s happened to me many times, I’d much rather come to that conclusion that this is not a strong article. At that point then after I’ve already written something because that’s going to take me several hours more. Ask some of those critical questions at this point. It may be that you need to go away and do some research. I try not to look at what other people have written too early in the process, I like to outline my article first, and then do some research and see what other people have written to see if there’s any other ways that I can improve it. I tend to do that later. It’s also really important to make note of who inspired you so that you can give some credit for that as well.

The other thing you might want to do, having asked some of those questions, if you realize that the article is not going to be strong enough, you may want to go away and seek some help from other people. You can seek help by reading other people’s articles, but maybe there’s someone you can do an interview with or ask some questions or even get them to write a section of your post for you. This point in the drafting of your post, it’s important to have asked those questions so that you can put in place answers to the objections people will have, that you can strengthen something that’s shaping up to be weak.

Number five is where we begin to work on the introduction. I do know that some people wait until after they’re written their article and then go back and write their introduction, in the same ways that people sometimes do that for their headline. I, again, find that for me, writing the introduction upfront is good, it helps me get into the flow as a writer. Sometimes, I find that if I’ve written an introduction, again it shapes the direction of the article and it helps me to write the rest of the article faster and more in the flow. I will say as with a headline, I will often go back and re-work an introduction later, I think it’s important to do that. I find for me writing that introduction early is good.

When you’re doing your introduction, a few things I’ll say about that. Again, as you’re writing an introduction, be really thinking about your reader and their position, the questions and the feelings that they have. I think a good introduction not only identifies the topic, which is important, but it also should empathize with the reader. It should show your reader that you understand their situation, that you understand the question they have or the problem they have and how they feel about that. I think if you can show some empathy in those first few lines, you’ll make a deeper connection with your reader and that will drive them to want to read the rest of your article. Show them that you know how they feel, that you understand their situation, rather than you’re just writing a hypothetical article on a topic.

Paint a picture also of what the benefits of them reading the rest of your article are. You might want to make a promise, you might want to say this is an outcome that you’ll have as a result of reading this article. They’re the type of things that I would put in an introduction. For me, an introduction is generally between one and three paragraphs. As I’ve said, this will get reworked later, it’s a working introduction.

Point number six is to expand your main points. With the introduction written, I then tackle each of the previously outlined points that I’ve gone through in putting that outline together. This is where I write the bulk of the article, this is where I spend a lot of time. Sometimes for me, it will take a couple hours to write a couple thousand words or a thousand words, sometimes it will take me a couple of days to really work through this depending on how hard it is and whether I’m in the flow or not of writing. Generally, what I do is take a bullet point from my outline and come up with a subheading for that part of the article. And then, I write a paragraph or two or three, or maybe a little bullet list as part of that article.

I try and stick to the outline I’ve previously come up with, but it’s not unusual for me to also be thinking of more things that I can say as I’m going. I’ll either make note of the other ideas I’m getting on a piece of paper next to me, or I might add them to the outline that I already come up with.

I also find as I’m writing articles, I get ideas for new articles. It’s often in this part of the process that I’ll be tempted as I’m writing to take a tangent. I’ve trained myself to be aware that sometimes those tangents take in the middle of an article are actually new blog posts. I think it’s really useful to have somewhere as you’re writing that you can just brain dump other ideas that you get, or other questions that you think readers might have that relate to your topic.

Really, point number six here is about expanding the main points. It’s adding meat to those bones that you’ve come up with earlier in your article. You can see here that I tend to write my articles in the order that my readers read them. For me, this is really important. I write the headline, the introduction, the main part of the article.

Point number seven is really moving onto the conclusion. The age old advice of Aristotle says, “Tell them what you’ll say,” that’s your introduction. “Then, tell them,” which is the main part of your article. “And then tell them what you just told them,” this is the conclusion. Good articles have some kind of a conclusion. For me again, I do this after I’ve written the bulk of the article. Once I know what I’ve told them, I then try and sum up my teaching in some way.

Usually for me, this is about trying to return to the problem or the question that I set out in the introduction to tackle, to remind people what I’ve tried to teach them. Give them a bit of a summary of the main points again. You’ve probably heard me do this in the podcast quite a bit. I generally go back through the points that I’ve made, put them in a nice, quick summary statement. And then, it’s important to ask your readers to take some kind of action and to go back to that thing that you identified right at the start that you want your readers to do and then ask them to do that. It’s important not to ask them to do too many things but clearly state the one thing you want them to do next. Make it very clear what you want them to do. That can really be anything. Depending on the article, it could be to do something that you’ve been just teaching them to do. Go away and try this technique I’ve just talked about, or it might be something more about leaving a comment, or telling a story, or responding and interacting with what you’ve done in some way. There’s no right call to action, it really has to flow from the goals of your blog and the goals of this particular article.

Number eight, before I do any editing, I’m looking to polish and add depth in some way. I think almost every article could be improved in some way, and not just by editing, there can be more added to it. Could you add a story? Could you add an image? Could you go and find a video on YouTube that you can embed into it? Could you create a chart that illustrates something that you’ve done? How could you make it look better and how can you make the content actually be better? Could you go away and find a quote from someone and add that particular thing in? Could you go away and do a little mini interview with someone to add in some of their ideas, with maybe an alternative viewpoint to what you’ve written. It’s really important to make your content look really good but to add depth to it as well.

Step number nine, the last one I want to talk about, is to edit and proofread. You’ve spent a lot of time by this point steering over your article but you need to take a little bit of a step back at this point and do some editing. For me, I find putting a bit of space between when I write and when I edit is really important. I think we use different parts of our brains for this more critical thinking about editing. I suggested seven steps for editing your work in Episode 168, but I do want to emphasize it’s so important to do. You waste all that energy by publishing something that’s not quite good enough and that’s got glaring mistakes in it. Do some editing, or get someone else to help you with that particular process. Build editing and proofreading into your workflow. Quality control really does matter.

To summarize that, because all good conclusions have a summary, pick your topic, number one. Number two, remind yourself of your reader, do a little bit of work about putting yourself in their shoes. Number three, create a working headline. Number four is to brainstorm and to list the main points of your article. Number five, write a working introduction. Number six, expand the main points. Number seven is write a conclusion and call to action. Number eight is to polish. I should’ve said in the polishing stage for me, that’s where I go back to my headline, I go back to my introduction, and rework those so that they’re not just working headlines, working introductions, they are the final ones. Number nine is to edit and proofread your content.

That’s my workflow. I would love to know how this differs from yours, what you would add into it. I wrote a whole series of posts on this topic quite a few years ago now on the ProBlogger blog. I’m going to link back to that because I think it’s still relevant today, I do go into more depth in each of the things that I’ve talked about. I also have another one right at the end about what to do after you’ve published your content as well.

The title of that series was actually called How To Craft A Blogpost, 10 Crucial Points To Pause. The whole idea of that series was that I think a lot of bloggers—I’ve done this myself. It’s so tempting to just bang out a blogpost, just bang out an article and hit publish and put it out there. The whole point of that series, and hopefully of this particular episode, is that I think it’s so important to take your time and to craft the content that you have. That means pausing to ask question, pausing to imagine your reader, pausing to make it better, to add depth, to polish. Crafts people don’t just bang out art, they really take their time and they add depth to it. They make it the best it can be. I think it’s important that we do that with our content.

Whatever workflow you have, I really encourage you to pause along the way to be reflective about it, to ask those questions along the way. Most importantly, to really keep coming back to who is reading that content. On the other end of that content is a human being who has needs, who has problems, who has feelings, who has a situation that they’re in, and to really spend a little bit of time throughout this whole process, to picture them, to understand them, and to write for them. It’s such an important thing. Your content will rise in quality, it will rise in relevance to people, and it will be the type of thing that people will want to share because they feel connected to you if you go to that extra effort of understanding who’s on the other side of that content. Craft your content, don’t just create it, craft it, take your time with it.

You can find today’s show notes with all the further listening that I mentioned along the way over at problogger.com/podcast/186. I hope you found this one useful, and also as I said before, check out the ProBlogger Podcast Listeners Facebook Group where we do have some details of some upcoming events, particularly an event coming up in the US. Love to connect with you and hopefully even meet you and see you there.

Thanks for listening today, I’ll chat with you in Episode 187.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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Mar 27 2017

30mins

Play

PB002: Write and Publish a List Post [Day 2 of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog]

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Today your challenge is to create a ‘list post’ for your blog

Since I started blogging back in 2002 the ‘list post’ has always been a popular type of post for bloggers. While you may not want every post on your blog to have this format there’s no doubt there are some definite advantages of using them from time to time.

As I look at my most popular posts over the years on my blogs many of them would fit quite well into this category.

So today I want you to create one. Here’s what to do:

  1. Listen to today’s episode (either here on the site or in iTunes or Stitcher)
  2. create and publish your list post on your blog
  3. please share a link to your newly published list post in comments below so we can see what you’ve done today
  4. check out some of the links other share, comment on and share the ones you enjoy the most

In This Episode

Here’s what I cover in todays episode:

  • 8 Reasons Why List Posts Work
  • A Warning on List Posts
  • 3 Types of List Posts to Try Writing on Your Blog
  • Examples of List posts that I’ve written that might give you some ideas

Examples of List Posts Mentioned in this Episode

All of these examples come from my blog at Digital Photography School but please submit your own new list posts below and check out the examples others leave to see them applied in different niches/topics.

Also mentioned in this episode as a tool to check was Buzz Sumo.

Show Us Your List Posts

The key to this 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Challenge is that you DO the challenges. So your challenge today is to write a list post and then to share the link in comments below.

Note: Please only share NEW posts that were written as part of this challenge and not old archived posts. This is about getting you to write something new!

Once you’ve shared your link please check out the links that others leave and get to know some other bloggers involved in this challenge.

Check out this Offer from 99designs

Also check out the great offer our friends, and new podcast sponsor, 99designs have for you (worth $99). They’re a fantastic place to go if you’re looking for any help with graphic design in your blogging.

I use their services and have worked with some great designers to create graphic design creatives for my blogs.

Pick up the 31DBBB eBook at 50% Off

Don’t Forget You can also grab the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook with a 50% discount using the coupon code PODCAST50 during the checkout process here.

Enjoy this podcast? Subscribe to ProBloggerPLUS for free to get free blogging tutorials and podcasts in your inbox each week.

Jul 01 2015

21mins

Play

PB053: How I made over $500,000 with the Amazon Affiliate Program

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Note: you can listen to this episode above or load it up in iTunes.

How to Make Money With the Amazon Affiliate Program

Today’s episode is all about making money with the Amazon Affiliate Program.

In episode 51 I introduced the topic making money through affiliate marketing and gave some practical tips on how to do it.

Amazon’s Associates Program is the first affiliate program I started making money from and I continue to earn money from it today. I share my experience and top tips that you can use to generate your own income from the Amazon Affiliate Program.

In This Episode

You can listen to today’s episode above or in iTunes or Stitcher (where we’d also LOVE to get your reviews on those platforms if you have a moment). In today’s episode:

  • My start with using Amazon’s Affiliate Program
  • Why many people don’t use the Amazon Affiliate Program (and why I do)
  • 20 Practical Tips to Make Money with the Amazon Affiliate Program
  • 10 More Tips on Using the Amazon Affiliate Program

Further Reading and Resources for How to Make Money With the Amazon Affiliate Program

Also here are a couple of the charts I mentioned in the show:

The first is my annual income from the program for the first ten years.

The second shows the income on a quarterly basis so you can see the spikes around the holidays.

How did you go with today’s episode?

What did you learn from today’s episode? If you’ve been using the Amazon Affiliate Program already, what tips would you add? If you haven’t, how do you think you might start using the Amazon Affiliate Program in future?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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Oct 15 2015

33mins

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246: 9 Ways to Accelerate the Growth of Your Blog

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9 Things I Wish I Knew About Blogging That Will Accelerate the Growth of YOUR Blog

In today’s episode I want to share my keynote at this year’s Social Media Marketing World – 9 Things I Wish I Knew About Blogging that Will Accelerate the Growth of YOUR Blog.

Here are the slides from my talk:

9 Things I Wish I Knew About Blogging that Will Accelerate the Growth of Your Blog from Darren Rowse

Keep focusing on the pillars of pro blogging:

  • Profitable blogs are built on great content
  • Take the initiative to drive traffic to your blog
  • Take ownership of building engagement with your readers
  • Monetization.

Don’t skip over these pillars or take shortcuts.

And here are 9 accelerators to grow your blog faster:

  1. Understand and engage with your audience. Know your readers’ needs.
  2. Transform your readers’ lives. Great content leaves a mark on your readers.
  3. Focus less on the number of eyeballs, and more on engaging the hearts of the right readers.
  4. Create a design based on what you know about your readers. Customize their experience.
  5. Teach and engage readers through challenges using various mediums.
  6. Collaborate with others to:
    • exchange services
    • generate content
    • drive traffic
    • create revenue streams.
  7. Focus on creating evergreen content that maintains relevance and doesn’t date as fast as other content.
  8. Maintain your archives, or they depreciate. Archives are an income-generating asset.
  9. Be careful about where you go all-in on.. Where should you spend your time?

Quotes of the Week:

“Speed is only useful if you are running in the right direction.” – Joel Barker, Future Edge

“Everyone wants to live at the top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.” – Andy Rooney

“Growth is a spiral process, doubling back on itself, reassessing, and regrouping.” – Julia Margaret Cameron

Links and Resources for 9 Ways to Accelerate the Growth of Your Blog:

Further Listening:

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Darren: Good morning and welcome to episode 246 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com. A blog, podcast, event, job board, series of ebooks, and courses, all designed to help you to start an amazing blog to grow the audience on their blog, to create great content, and to build some profit around that blog as well. You can learn more about what we do at ProBlogger at problogger.com.

In today’s episode, I want to share with you a recording of a talk I gave this year at Social Media Marketing World. A great event run by Mike Stelzner and his team from Social Media Examiner. This talk is one that I got a lot of positive feedback on. In fact, I don’t think I’ve have so much positive feedback on a talk at Social Media Marketing World as I’ve received both at the event this year and since the event. I’ve got permission from Mike and his team, who’ve kindly allowed me to republish it here on the podcast in its entirety.

The title of the talk is Nine Things I knew About Blogging that will Accelerate the Growth of your Blog. It’s nine things that really–today, as I look back over at the last 16 years, have been really responsible for most of the growth in my blogging. These are things that I think people that are just starting out with blogging will learn a lot from but also those of you who are along the way who wanna be the best in growth in your blogging someway. Some of these are more relevant to beginners than others. Others are a little bit more advanced. I hope there’s something for everyone in this.

Now, the other thing I should say is that you’re gonna hear me touch on a few things that I have talked about in other podcasts–of late and also in the past. There will be a little bit of repeat in this for some of you but I’m hoping that by hearing all nine things together, you’ll see how some of them fit together. I would love to hear what you think about this keynote, if you’ve got any comments, if you’ve got any thoughts on it, anything you wanna add, any questions you have, feel free to ask me either on Facebook group or over on the show notes as well.

The other thing I will say about the show notes is that, I’ve also put the slides from this talk. you may actually find the slides useful as I go through this talk. It’s probably ideal to have them with you. I’ll put them up as a slideshare over at problogger.com/podcast/246. That’s where you can get the slides, episode 246 over on problogger.com/podcast. There’s also, in the slides, free download links mentioned to some worksheets, some guides that we’ve put together for you. You will see in the slides a link into our member’s area which is brand new and in that we have a variety of worksheets and guides that you can grab but those mentioned in the slides but also some extra ones as well.

If you wanna check out those, you’ll see a link in the slides and in the show notes but also you can find them by going to problogger.com/members and that’s a new area that we’ve set-up on ProBlogger, it’s completely free. It allows you just to download some of those guides and we do hope to add more of those in as well. Find all that at problogger.com/podcast/246.

Lastly, just a really quick mention, this episode is brought to you by Success Incubator–an event that I’m running with some good friends this year in Orlando. If you enjoy today’s podcast, it will give you a feel for what we do at that event because I do some teaching every year at that event, and we also do a little bit of masterminding as well. It’s in September 24th and 25th in Orlando. All the details are linked to on today’s show notes or you can go to problogger.com/success.

Alright, after I’ve said all that, I’m gonna just hit play on this week’s recording from my talk, and at the end I’ll come back and I’ll share my quote of the week and give you some further listening as well. One last little thing, it does get a little echoey in the recording, I hope you forgive me for that, and give you a bit of a feel for being at a live event. I’ll see what I can do with the recording and see if I can get rid of a little bit of that echo but please, do bear with me on that one. Hope you enjoy my talk from Social Media Marketing World.

Mike: Our speaker today, of course, is the amazing Darren Rowse. When I started as a blogger back in 2009, he was one of those guys that I wanted to be when I grow up.

If you don’t know who he is, he’s the founder of problogger.com. He’s also the founder of Digital Photography School, he has a conference of his own. Without wasting any more of his precious and valuable time, he’s got a lot to give you, please welcome Darren Rowse to the stage.

Darren: Thank you for that beautiful introduction. You can come with me everywhere. I want to talk today about things that are going to accelerate the growth of your blog. I’ve changed my title slightly for those of you who have already noticed it. I’m giving you nine ways to accelerate the growth of your blog because I’ve only got 45 minutes, if you want the 10th one, come and talk to me in the hall afterwards and I’ll make something up.

The other thing I’ve changed is this word “accelerate.” I think I used the word shortcuts in my talk, and I did that because Mike said, “You really need to get your title in today, Darren,” I just came up with that one. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that shortcuts kind of give the indication that you can skip over bits of the journey. I’m a big believer that you need to really build the foundations first, and so I’ve moved towards this acceleration idea.

If you’ve been reading ProBlogger, or listening to the podcast, or you’ve come to one of our events, you’ll know I talk a lot about the pillars of problogging, and these are the things that you really need to be doing day to day, these are the things that you can’t skip over.

I want to put these things out front before I get into my nine accelerants because they are so important. They’re not the sexiest things in the world to talk about because they’re just no-brainers, but I really want to emphasize them because everything I say in this session builds upon these four thing.

Great blogs, profitable blogs, no matter what profit means to you builds on great content on you taking the initiative to drive traffic to your own blog, you taking ownership over the building of engagement with your readers and monetization.

Most bloggers, when they start out, kind of instinctively know that they need to create content. That’s what a blog is about, but a lot of bloggers start out thinking that if they just do good enough content, the traffic will appear, the engagement will happen and opportunities to make money will land in their lap.

The reality couldn’t be further from that. You need to take ownership and be working on a daily basis in each of these four areas. It’s the accumulation of the little things that you do in these four areas that build a profitable blog.

I want to put that out front and say you can’t shortcut these things. These are things you need to be working on regularly. It doesn’t need to be daily, but regularly; you need to be building in these four areas.

Having said those things, I want to talk about these nine things that have helped me to accelerate the growth of my blogs over the years, things I wish I knew back in 2002 when I started out and I hope that that will help you in your journey as well.

A few of these are mindset-type things and some of them are a little bit more tactical. I hope they kind of meet different ones of you at different parts in your journey.

The other thing I’ll say is that most of these things really relate well to podcasting and video creation. If you are in those spaces, apply these to that. The first thing is the thing I talk about every time I speak these days, and that is understanding your audience. The more you understand about your audience, the more you know them, the better position you’re in to serve them and the faster your blog will grow.

I started blogging in 2002. This is a picture of my first blog. It’s really ugly. It’s the only blog I ever designed myself. It took me months to get to that stage and then I realized I needed to find someone who knew something about blog design. It really was a blog that served me. It was a fun hobby. It was a place where I could express myself. It was a place where I could have a creative outlet and talk about the things that interested me.

That’s why I started blogging. I started because I just wanted to talk out loud about these things that interested me and it served me. Then, about two weeks into my blogging journey, I realized that, accidentally, I was also serving other people because I started to get these emails from people saying, “That’s really interesting. That really helped me. Thank you for writing that.” At first, I was like, “Well, that’s weird. I didn’t really write these for anyone else. I was just expressing myself,” but I realized there was this opportunity there to serve other people.

I remember the day I got my first comment from someone who wasn’t my mom and that was kind of a weird experience, and I realized that when he left this comment, I got his email address. I thought, “Maybe I’m supposed to email the people who comment,” and so I sent him an email. I basically said, “Thanks for your comment. Who are you? I’d love to know a little bit more about you.”

That was one of the best things that I ever did because he responded and he said, “I’ve left hundreds of comments and no one’s ever emailed me so thanks for that. This is who I am,” and he introduced himself to me and we began to have this conversation.

I decided to do that anytime anyone left me a comment for the first two years of my blog, I emailed every single commenter personally. That was one of the best things that I ever did because it built engagement and built a relationship but, most of all, it helped me to understand who my readers were.

I began in those two years to see patterns in my readers, and this idea of who my reader was began to form. What I realized is that the more I got to know who my reader was, the better position I was in to write content that would impact them as much as it would impact me.

This thing began to happen as my blog began to grow. I realized the more I understood about who was reading, the better position I was in to drive traffic to my blog, to build engagement on my blog and then, later on when I began to monetize, I was in a great position to be able to monetize as well, because I knew my readers’ needs and I could find ways to meet those needs through the products that I created.

One of the best things I ever did when I started my main blog today, Digital Photography School, is to create avatars, one of the best things that you can do. You probably already got one in your head, but I think there’s something really profound about getting it down on paper or getting it down in writing, because it will cement in your mind who is reading your blog.

You’ll also begin to picture these people, all these hypothetical people, as you write your content, and your content will come across in a more personal way as well.

My first avatars were pretty light, they had demographics, where they hung out online, how they spent their money as it pertained to my topic, the questions that they had, the felt needs that they had. Gradually over time, I began to deepen my avatars. I began to tap into some underlying things that were really powerful to understand about my readers.

I really would encourage you to particularly look out for these things. Firstly, look out for the pain of your readers. It sounds really negative, but it’s very important. Understand their needs, not just the questions they have, their felt needs, but their real needs. Over time, you’ll begin to see that behind their questions are deeper things.

On ProBlogger, we get a lot of questions about blogging and technical things, but one of the things I’ve learned about ProBlogger readers is that a lot of them are actually really fearful.

I’ve had three people this morning come up and say, “I used to have a blog, but I can’t get over fear. It’s stopping me from blogging,” and so we write a lot about fear on ProBlogger because that’s the real need and our readers really respond to that. Understanding these deeper things that are holding them back are really important.

The other things you want to look out for are the gains that they’re looking for: What are their aspirations? What are their dreams? Where do they want to be? What are their goals? Unlock these types of things and it will infect your content.

You’ll create content that’s not just about your topic, but it’s meaningful your readers. I was really fascinated to hear Mike talk so much this morning about meaningful interactions with people because it’s exactly what I’m about with blogging. The more you understand about your reader, the better position you’re in to be meaningful to them.

I’ve got some worksheets for you. Don’t feel under any pressure to grab these at all. If you want to answer worksheets to help you work through creating avatars, it’s there. I’ll show you this link again at the end as well. The second thing that’s really connected to this first is understand not only who’s reading your blog, but how you can potentially transform their life, which sounds very grand and aspirational, but is a very powerful thing.

What I’ve learned over the years is that great content leaves a mark on the people who read it, or listen to it, or view it. Your content should transform your reader’s life in some way. It doesn’t have to be in a big way; it could just be that you put a smile on their face because you entertained them or it could be that you informed them of the latest news. It could be that you gave them a sense of belonging. It could be that they’re suddenly feeling all motivated in some way.

There’s a variety of ways that you can be transformational with your content. As soon as you begin to understand what the transformation is that you can bring, you’ll begin to see that your content will be transformed as well.

Again, a really simple exercise you can do is to grab a piece of paper, on one side, write down a few characteristics of your reader when they arrive on your side. This essentially is the avatar that I was just talking about.

This is just great to know in and of itself, but the second part is even more powerful: Create an aftershot. Who will your reader be after they’ve left your blog? Even if after one visit, who do you want them to be? How do you want to have changed them? Who do you want your reader to have been after a year of traveling with you? How do you want their life to be different? Understanding that transformation will impact all of the pillars that I was talking about before.

On Digital Photography School, it’s really simple. We are going to take people from being in automatic mode with their amazing camera, to having full creative control of that camera. Simply understanding that gives me ideas for content, but it also gives me a way to promote my blog as well, and to drive traffic to it. It’s so much easier to drive traffic if you promote using the transformation rather than your topic.

Don’t ever say, “I have a blog about photography.” “I have a blog that takes people from automatic mode to having creative control of their cameras.” People will want to read that blog if you talk about the transformation. The topic in and of itself isn’t really that attractive, so talk about the transformation.

Understanding this transformation will give you all kinds of ideas of how you can engage with your audience as well, what questions can you ask them to build engagement. It will also help you with monetization.

The third thing I want to talk about that ties really in with what Mike was talking about earlier, and this is something that will escalate the growth of your blog, maybe not so much in terms of the numbers in your Google Analytics, but in terms of the profitability and the outcomes that you want.

Engaged traffic is exponentially more powerful than just traffic of any kind. What I’d encourage you to do, and this will grow your blog so much faster is to focus not so much upon getting eyeballs, but on actually getting engagement with the heart of your readers.

I learned this the hard way. When I started blogging, I just wanted anyone to read my blog, my mom, my wife, my friends, pretty much anyone. The way that I got them to do that was just send lots of emails to my friends. That didn’t last so long because my friends got annoyed with it. Now, I began to look at other ways of doing that, leaving comments on other blogs. I left comments on every blog that I ever knew.

Gradually over time, I began to see that there were these other sites. There was a site back in the day called Digg. Does anyone remember Digg? It’s like Reddit and you could get your content voted up onto the front page.

I remember one day my content got onto the front page of Digg and I had 150,000 visitors in two hours. I was ecstatic. I was like, “This is going to change my blog. I’m going to start making money. I’m going to become well-known. I’m going to get a book deal,” all those dreams. I had all of the dreams.

I very quickly realized that it didn’t lead to anything that was good at all. It crashed my server and the only people who showed up, those 150,000 people, were teenage snarky boys. They left negative comments and they destroyed the community on my blog. I realized that, one, I want the right readers but, two, I want readers who want to engage. I learned the hard way that eyeballs make you feel good in the short term, but they don’t actually lead to sustainable growth in the long term.

I focus very much upon not the eyeball and getting lots of traffic, get the right reader. Lots of benefits of building this kind of engagement on your blog, which I won’t go through, but it really will help you to grow your blog. Particularly if you’re looking to monetize in some way, no matter what type of monetization you want to do, it will be enhanced my engagement.

Advertisers want to advertise on blogs that have engagement. You’ll sell your products so much more if you’ve got engagement. You’ll be able to monetize the engagement itself using masterminds or membership areas. Engagement is where it’s at.

A lot of people used to say, “Content is king.” I actually think community is king and content, so it certainly goes alongside it. If you can get this community particularly in this day where the algorithms are really looking for engagement, it’s where you should be acting.

How do you get this engagement? The first thing I’ll tell you is, if you want engagement, you need to be engaging. You need to show up. You need to take the lead in that. People will respond to you being generous and being engaging.

Some of the ways that you can do this outside of your blog, apart from writing in an engaging style, and that’s where it really needs to start. At the moment, I think live video continues to be a place where you can build that kind of engagement.

I don’t get hundreds of thousands of people viewing my live videos; I get a few hundred people at a time who view my live videos, but I know those people are much more likely to show up tomorrow and leave a comment on my blog.

Those people are much more likely to share my content on their social media platforms. Those people are much more likely to sign up for my newsletter list to get my opt-ins and eventually to buy one of my products. I see their names pop up all the time. Live video is very powerful.

Groups continue to work for us at the moment. I’m really wary about when this will end; Facebook, particularly, changing their algorithms all the time. While they’re working, they should be surfing that life.

The podcast. I’ve met so many people already at this conference who’ve come up and said things like, “I feel like I know you,” or, “Can we go on walks together every week?” Someone came up the other day and said, “We have a shower together once a week?”

People spend time with you and even though the podcast is not interactive at all, it’s a very personal medium and it builds engagement. It builds this sense that people know you, which is a really important thing, so include that there as well.

Meetups and events are probably the best thing that I do in terms of getting to know my audience, whilst you can’t get all of your audience to them, that will really build advocates for your brand and so any way that you can meet people in real life is important as well.

The last thing I’ll talk about in a moment is challenges. They’ve been very important for us. This is something I did last year on the way home from social media marketing world. I’ve got a 25-hour commute to get home. I was like, “How can I fill up these 25 hours?” so I got onto my Facebook group and I said, “I’m going to ask every question you ask me over the next 25 hours.” I was sitting in airports a lot of that time.

Our Facebook group only had about 800 members at the time, so it wasn’t a big community, but 200 of them showed up and asked a question over that time. It was fascinating to see how spending that 24-hour period with my readers really grew the engagement of that little community.

It was really fascinating to see that most of the action actually happened when I was in the air and didn’t have WiFi. My community showed up and answered each other’s questions more than I answered their questions. This illustrates that point: If you’re willing to be engaging, your community will take your lead and they will be engaging, too, not just with you but with each other. That’s where real community happens.

The last thing I’ll tell you about engagement is this idea of know, like, and trust. Who has heard that quote? People do business with those that they know, like, and trust. You will hear that quote at least three times over the next two days. People use that quote all the time at this conference.

Here’s the thing about know, like, and trust: It’s a two-way thing and people will know, like, and trust you so much faster if you show that you know them, and you show up, and spend time with them, and show that you like them, and that you trust them by being vulnerable with them as well. That’s just an example of that. In that 25 hours, my readers began to realize that I wasn’t just there to get them to know, like, and trust me. I actually wanted to interact with them.

The fourth thing I want to talk about is a little bit more strategic, and that is design. I’ve already shown you that I’m not a great designer, so I can’t give you any tips on colors, or fonts. The thing I’ll say about design is, increasingly, our design is about trying to meet our readers where they’re at. You know a lot about your readers just simply by looking at where they came from? Did they come from Google? Or an email? Or social media?  Whether they’ve been on your site before? What part of the site they’re on?

These things are things that we know and we get these data, so we should be reflecting this on our design. Some of the things we’ve been trying to do on ProBlogger are to try and create a design that really meets our readers where they’re at to show that we know them and to show that we want to help transform them.

In the old days, it was all about trying to get people to view more about content, just any of our content. Today, it’s more about communicating the journey and trying to show our readers where they’re at.

If you’ve got a ProBlogger now on the front page, right down the bottom of the front page, we have this heading, “I need help, too.”

Underneath that, there’s these eight icons. The eight icons represent pain and the gains of our readers. We’ve identified, over the years, that our readers have eight main reasons they come to ProBlogger. They want to learn to start a blog, they want more traffic, they want to make more money, they want to be more productive with their time, they want to understand the tools, these are the basic things that they come looking for information on. Everywhere on the site, we greet them with an invitation to get help in one of these areas. This is to demonstrate that we know who our readers are, to communicate, “We know your pain.”

Instead of directing them to a category page, we direct them to what we call a portal page. On these portal pages, we’ve curated an experience for our readers. We greet them with a video where I communicate that I, too, have this pain or I, too, want this gain and I’ve had experience in that. Then, we’ve curated some content underneath that, both blog posts and podcasts, that take them through solutions to that pain.

I know that if I get you to this portal page, you will stay on our site for at least three times longer than the average of our site. You’ll view quite considerably more pages, you’ll sign up to our newsletter, much more likely, you’ll connect with us on Facebook more likely as well. Eventually, you’ll buy one of our products as well.

Getting people to a page where you demonstrate you know your reader and you meet them with content that’s where they’re at is very powerful. Traditionally, if people come to a blog, the chances of them finding content that meets their pain is pretty small because the latest content that you’ve got is highlighted to them. If that content doesn’t meet their pain immediately, they’ll bounce away, so we’re trying to meet people where they’re at.

Another thing that we do on the front page of ProBlogger is greet different readers differently. If you’ve never been to ProBlogger before, you’ll get this greeting. It’s all about the transformation. This is what we’re in the business of doing. We want to take you from here to here and we’d love to connect with you.

If you’ve been to our site before and you’ve got a cookie from us, we don’t want to show you this because you already know about ProBlogger. We want to show you this, and this is, “Welcome back,” and, “Here’s the posts you’ve missed since last time you were there.” This is a very simple way to customize the experience of your reader. It’s thinking in your design about how you can meet different readers based upon what you know about them.

The fifth thing I want to talk about is challenges. Since 2004, when I started ProBlogger, I can see that there have been spikes of activity over those years: spikes in traffic, spikes in engagement and spike to profit as well. I can track all those spikes back to challenges that I’ve run on the side. The first challenge I ran on ProBlogger was back in 2005 and I did it completely by accident.

One night, I was lying in bed at 2:00 AM thinking about my blog as I often do, and I couldn’t go to sleep. I had idea: “I want to start 31-day series of content on my blog,” and every day after these 31 days, I want to give people a little bit of teaching and then give people a little bit of homework to do, something practical that they could do. I thought this was going to be a teaching series.

I launched it the next day. I had no idea what the 31 days were going to be, so I had to make it up on the spot and it took off. The first post I did was the biggest pose I’d ever written, and people joined in this challenge. They didn’t see it just as a teaching experience; they actually saw it as an engagement experience. They wanted to join this event that I was running. I called it 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. They saw it as an event and I was, “Okay. I’ll make it an event,” and so I started to make it more engaging. I said, “At the end of every day, come back and show us what you did,” and readers began to check out what each other were doing and these conversations were opening up.

The second year I did it, we added a forum to it and we added an opt-in, so we sent out emails along the way as well. Every time we ran it, it was the biggest traffic we’d ever had, the biggest engagement we’d ever had.

At the end of 2009 when I did it, my readers said, “Hey, we really would love it if you could create a PDF version of this.” Some of them were saying, “We’ll pay you for it,” and I was like, “How much will you pay me for it?”

They were like, “$15 or $20,” and I was like, “No you wouldn’t pay that,” and they were like, “Yes, we will.” I was like, “Hey, let’s test this,” so I created the ebook and I put it on sale, thinking maybe it would sell $100 or so because all of the content was already on the blog for free. I mean, who’s going to buy something that’s already there for free? About 10,000 people bought that in the first year so I was like, “Okay. These challenges can actually be monetized as well.” People will take this free information, but if you re-package it into something that they can use again and again, that’s useful in an ongoing way, that’ll be great.

The other cool thing about this is that other groups of bloggers that I don’t even know about buy the book together and run through the challenge together. They’re running their own challenges. You give them the format, they will take and run it as well.

You can do challenges in other mediums. This is a challenge I ran on the podcast a year or so ago, seven days of writing challenges. It really took off and it led to a lot of growth in the podcast.

This is another challenge we did earlier this year. We launched this as a course. It’s a free course on how to start a blog and it’s the type of course you could do anytime, but we launched it as a challenge and we took several thousand bloggers through this challenge together. This, really, is one of the best things that we’ve done in the last year or so. Challenges are very powerful. There’s lots of benefits of running a challenge on your blog.

Again, for those of you interested in monetization, you can monetize these in a number of ways. Firstly, you could run a free challenge and then do an upsell at the end of that. Our starter blog course is free, but we’ll be selling our 31 Days to Build a Better Course, which is coming out soon at the end of that to people. You can monetize it with sponsorships so, “Here’s a free challenge that you can participate in. It’s presented by this brand,” and you can charge for that.

You can do affiliate marketing during it. In our starter blog course, we had about 6000 people go through that. We know, on average, that we make about $6 per participant in that through affiliate stuff that we do. We promote servers and web press tools along the way. We disclose all of those so our readers know that they’re helping us as well. The other way that you can do it is to sell the challenge, and that’s what we did with 31 Days to Build A Better Blog, the ebook.

There’s a variety of ways that you can use challenges to actually build a business as well but, for me, the challenge is really exciting because it helps you to get to know your reader better.

At the end of our Starter Blog challenge, we’ve got thousands of bloggers now who are engaged with our brand. We just help them to start a blog and they’re really grateful for that. That “know, like and trust” has really grown as a result of them spending a month with us working on achieving something. We’re actually helping them in a tangible way.

The sixth thing I want to talk about is collaborations. Collaborations are probably one of the most powerful things I’ve done to grow my blog. Blogging is a juggle. Every blogger in the room knows what that juggle is, to create content, to build engagement, to drive traffic, to maintain all the social media accounts, to keep WordPress up to date and all the plugins. It’s just making me stressed just listing these things off. They’re balls in the air and it’s so hard to keep all those balls in the air.

The thing I’ve learned over the years is that it’s a lot easier to keep balls in the air and more balls in the air when you actually juggle with other people. There’s a variety of ways you can do this. You could outsource, you could hire a team but most bloggers don’t have the resources to do that. The best way to do it is to find win-win ways of working together with other bloggers, other content creators.

I did this very early on in my blogging. I showed you my blog design before. I realized that I needed to find someone who knew about blog design, so I found someone who was willing to design my blog for free if I did some work for them. I did some writing for them. I drove some traffic to their business as well. It was a collaboration where we exchanged services. Pretty much in every one of the pillars that I’ve talked about before, there are opportunities to collaborate.

When it comes to content as bloggers, I think we should be collaborating more. Yes, I know a lot of just post for each other, but why don’t we create content together? YouTubers do it all the time. It’s so normal for two YouTubers to come together to create a video together and then they repost that onto their own channels. Why don’t we do that more as bloggers? People co-author books. People co-author articles in mainstream media.

I published almost 19,000 articles on my two main blogs, and two of them have been co-authored posts. I think we could be working together more to collaborate in content. There’s a whole heap of ways that we could also collaborate in driving traffic to one another, to build engagement. Why does every blogger have to have their own Facebook group? Why don’t bloggers join together to create Facebook groups together and come up with win-win ways of building collaborations around that?

When it comes to monetization, I particularly think there’s opportunities to collaborate. Back in 2009, I created this ebook. It’s the first ebook I’d ever created and it was basically a rehash of a lot of articles that I’d already written on Digital Photography School. It almost killed me. It killed me to create this ebook. Even though it was already republished content and it was mainly all written, just the design of it, the editing of it, the proofreading of it, the putting-it-together, almost killed me. It took me five or six months to get this ebook together.

I knew I should do it. I’ve been procrastinating. I finally did it. I launched it, wondering if anyone would buy it. We sold about $70,000 worth of copies of it in the first 10 days. I suddenly realized that maybe I should do more ebooks but I didn’t want to go through that process again of having to create another ebook so I began to look for ways of getting others involved in this process.

I reached out to one of the authors on our site who had been writing some articles for us and I said, “Hey, Neil, would you be interested in writing an ebook? We’ve got the traffic. We’ve got the shopping cart system now. We can do customer service, we can bring that side of things, but I can’t write another ebook. I don’t have the time. Would you do it?” and he was like, “Yes, sure. No problem.”

Three weeks later, he’d written an ebook that took me five months. It was completely from scratch. He was just a great writer and, when we put it on sale, it did better than our first one. He wrote another one a few months later, and another one, and another one. We’ve got 30 ebooks now on our sites and I have not written any of them. These are all collaborations. We’ve got six courses. We’ve got Lightroom Presets. We’ve got Printables. All of them have been collaborations, every single one.

In that time since 2009, maybe I would’ve written another five or six ebooks on this site, but we’ve got all of this suite of products now. Yes, we share the revenue and sometimes it sucks to think, “We’re only getting 50%,” but it’s actually really exciting that we’ve also opened up revenue streams for all these other people as well. An ebook writer the other day emailed me and said, “You just helped us to buy our first house,” so it’s really great to be a part of that process as well. He’s also helped us to buy a house, too, which is nice, too.

As I look at all the income that we earn, these are the main income streams on my blogs. I’m happy to talk about income streams after this session. Almost all of them are actually collaborations. There’s only one that’s not out of all of those. Really, think beyond you when it comes to monetizing your blog. It’s one of the most powerful ways to build profit around your blog. I’m not just talking here about monetizing through affiliate products; I actually think business-to-business. You could be collaborating with others in your industry to create things together and find win-win- solutions. I’ve got a podcast on that that goes into a little bit more depth if you do want to listen to a bit more on that topic.

Ever-growing content, I was talking to someone just earlier about this. This is one of the best things that I ever did. I completely agree with Tim Farris on this. One of the most labor-efficient ways to grow your blog readership but also engagement as well is to focus on creating ever-growing content. Ever-growing content is content that doesn’t date as fast as other content. This is my first commercial blog. It’s actually a photography blog that I had before Digital Photography School.

It was a news and reviews site, and I did two types of posts. There were news posts and reviews. The news posts would do really well for three days after I write them. “Here’s a new camera! It’s exciting! Canon’s got this new camera,” and then no one would want to know about that post three days later because it’s old news. To create a blog that’s purely news, you need to create a lot of content every day. That’s why some of these gadget sites publish 20 or 30 articles a day because they just need to pump out lots of content to keep the traffic coming.

The other type of content I did on this site were reviews of cameras, and these were a bit more ever-growing. You’d write a review of a brand new camera today, people will be interested in that review for about a year until Canon brings out the next model that supersedes the last one. That taught me how powerful ever-growing content was. I was able to track how much our news articles could make us through ads versus how much our review posts would make us through ads. The review posts were 10 times as much in terms of the earnings.

I began to wonder, “What would happen if I had even more ever-growing content in this particular space of photography? What would that look like?” and that, of course, chained into Digital Photography School where we teach people how to use cameras because the basics of how to use a camera haven’t changed since I was in Year 10 at high school when I was using film camera. Aperture is still aperture. Shutter speed is still shutter speed. How to hold a camera hasn’t changed that much. There certainly are aspects of photography that have changed but the basic things haven’t changed so I decided to start writing a site that was more about this type of content, content that wouldn’t date as much.

Now, we still do some news-y type posts. I thought it’d be interesting to show you a couple of case studies on different types of posts. This is a news-y type of post, a post we wrote three years ago on Adobe’s new version of Lightroom. You can see there the Google Analytics. It did quite well for the first week of this post. I think Day One had about 3,000 visitors. Over the first couple of weeks of this post, we had about 11,200 visitors to it.

Over the last three years, we’ve added another 18,000 viewers. It really has not worked for us very much. In fact, at the moment, it’s getting one viewer per month, and they just happen to stumble upon it or maybe it’s me checking out whether it’s still alive. It’s not really working for us at all. It took the writer about an hour to write it and a little bit of editing but it really hasn’t worked for us.

This is another post that we wrote two weeks later, and it’s on a topic that we get questions on from time to time and we continue to get questions on. It’s more ever-growing in nature. Now, this isn’t the most spectacular post. You can see that the pattern there in the first couple of weeks was very similar. It had about 16,000 visitors to it over the first two or three weeks but since that time, it’s had 42,000 visitors to it. You can see there are some little extra spikes along the journey, and these are times that we’ve re-shared it.

This is the beauty of ever-growing content: You write it three years ago, I can share this again on our Facebook page today and our readers will go, “Thanks. That’s really good.” If I re-shared that news post about Lightroom, people would go, “Why are you sharing this? This is three years old.” Ever-growing content allows you so share it. Other people are sharing it, too. The other thing is if you drill into that graph even more, you’ll see that 40 people every day view this post from Google. Those 40 people don’t sound like much but, 365 days a year, that begins to add up over time. We’ve got 8,000 posts on our site now, too, and if they’re all getting 40 visitors a day, that adds up over time as well.

Alongside that, occasionally, you do a post that actually adds up even bigger. This is one of those posts. I wrote it in 2007. It didn’t really start that spectacularly. It had about 100 visits a day because that site was really small at the time, but this one’s actually grown in how much traffic it gets over time. It’s had over 40 million people view it since that time. It took me two hours to write it back then, and this post is working for us today and continues to earn us revenue from advertising but also brings in subscribers to our blog because we have opt-ins associated with that as well. Then, we’re able to sell to those people down the track.

This is the power of ever-growing content, all those 8,000 posts with visitors and this one that gets about 3,000 visitors a day still today that begins to add up over time. This is why you begin to see the acceleration of your blog. The more archives you have that are ever-growing, it really does pay off. It doesn’t happen overnight but it grows over time.

The second last thing I want to talk about is maintaining your archives, and this is particularly important if you go down this route of ever-growing content. This is a major trend that I’m seeing that’s not being talked about at the moment amongst bloggers. They’re spending more time doing this. Your archives are an asset. I’m just showing you that there’s gold in your archives. You’re probably all thinking about a post that just still gets traffic today. That post is an asset and potentially is an income-generating asset.

Here’s the thing: Your assets depreciate and I bet you your archives are depreciating right now. I dare you. Go back to the first post you ever wrote. What are you going to do? You will cringe. I guarantee it. We all do. We all cringe, and that’s because your archives are depreciating. It doesn’t look as good anymore because we used to use these tiny little thumbnails and sometimes their images are broken. We have these call-to-actions that don’t go anywhere anymore because that social network doesn’t actually exist anymore. “Share on MySpace,” and all of those types of things going on.

There’s broken links there. Your writing has improved since then. You used to write in a very naïve kind of way. You used to make all these assumptions. You used to format those posts differently. Maybe you didn’t use headlines and it was just a long line of text. Your archives are depreciating. They’re looking dated. They probably have information in them that needs to be updated as well. Why don’t we maintain them? If you maintain your archives, you can actually reverse that trend.

I’m just showing you an example of that. That ISO post that’s had 40-something million people? I’ve updated that every six months since 2007. It’s better now than it was when I started. It’s my goal to continue to improve the way it looks, the way it reads and the information in it. I want it to be the best article that I can, and that’s why it’s growing. This is something that’s happening more and more. We maintain all of our assets because we know there are consequences in the future if we don’t.

This is what I’m noticing: A lot of bloggers are doing it. They’re actually publishing lists. A lot of the big bloggers don’t publish anywhere near as much new content as they used to, and that’s because they’re publishing better content when they’re publishing new content. It’s deeper content. It’s longer-form content in many cases, but they’re also putting more of the effort into up-keeping their archives because there’s better return in up-keeping and improving their archives than there is in creating lots of new posts.

Particularly if you’ve been blogging for five or six years, you’ve probably written about everything there is to write about on your topic. There’s probably not a lot of new stuff to write but you can be improving those old archives and even republishing them and re-sharing them as well. There’s lots of benefits of up-keeping your archives but the challenge I have for you is to really start to build that into your editorial strategy. Identify the old posts that have done well, the best posts–the ones that have had a lot of traffic in particular, start with those–and anything that’s underperformed in the past.

I’m not going to go through these individually but these are some of the things that you can do to improve your content–and, yes, you can grab these slides later to work through these. The thing I would encourage you to do particularly is to give your old content the cringe test. I challenge you: Every day, look at one of your old posts. That means, over the year, you’ll have looked at 365 posts. Some of those old posts will be fine; you won’t cringe. They’re probably good. If you cringe, you need to update it. It’s really important to do that. Then, build that into your calendar. Most bloggers have a calendar. I publish new content on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Why don’t you update content on Tuesday and Thursday? Actually, make that a part of your system of creating content.

The last thing I want to talk about just for a moment or two is be really careful about where you go, and this is particularly relevant as we go into this conference. You’re going to come home from this conference feeling overwhelmed by all the things you could do. You’re probably already feeling it. Mike’s talk talked about a few things this morning. He’s talking about bots.

Should we be doing bots? Should we be doing Facebook, Instagram? Snapchat, I don’t think so. There’s lots of different things that you can be doing there and where should you be spending your time. I just want to give you three pieces of advice on that. Firstly, focus on what is converting for you already. A lot of people come to a conference like this and say, “I’m going to give up blogging to get into Instagram stories.” I’ve seen people do this. I’ve seen bloggers give up wanting to get onto Twitter, to Instagram, to Facebook.

All the ones who just jump onto Facebook are all coming back to me and going, “I wish I kept blogging.” Focus on what is working for you now. The new stuff that’s coming up all the time, maybe it’s something you should be focusing your time on, but you should be spending most of your time on what is actually working for you and for others in the industry now. For me, the thing that is working the best for me is search engine optimization. Search sends me over half of my traffic. Facebook sends me 8% of my traffic, and that’s my number one social source. Why do I spend three hours a day on Facebook? Why, when search is converting so much more? Search isn’t going away.

The second biggest driver of traffic for me is email. I send my own avalanche of traffic every week. We sent a newsletter last night. I know today will be our biggest day of traffic. Why aren’t I spending more time on that? Focus on what is working. Yes, there’s all this new cool stuff around at the moment. Spend some time on that. Learn to see whether that might convert for you, but spend more time on the things that are working for you today.

The second thing: Focus on what you have more control over. You don’t own Facebook. You’re building their asset. You don’t own Instagram. You’re building their asset. Build your asset, your podcast, your blog, your email list. Now, you don’t have complete control over your email list because Google’s now getting in the middle of that and filtering some of your emails into little different inboxes and things, but you still have those email addresses which you can use in different contexts as well.

Build your assets. Focus on these things. Yes, experiment in these other things as well, but here’s the thing that you should be doing with social media, in my opinion: Leverage them while they last. Ride the waves of these new things that come. Bots might be the new thing that’s going to last for the next year or two until the marketers all destroy it, but ride that wave while it’s lasting and then be ready to pivot into something new.

Gary V. is really big on this. He talks about this quite a bit. If you watch his trajectory over the last three or four years, he’s jumped from platform, to platform, to platform. Now, what he’s doing is building his own platform a lot more. He’s trying to get people to join his community, to get on his email list. Yes, use these things but use them to build your asset. They’re not a long-term plan in my opinion.

Thank you for coming. You can grab these slides and a few resources that we’ve put together that are relevant for this session. I’m going to be here for the next two days. I’ll stand out there for all of it. If you’ve got questions that last that long, I’m happy to chat to you and take any of your questions out in a whole way because I need to get a newspaper in here. Thanks so much.

I hope you enjoyed today’s recording. Again, thank you to the team at Social Media Marketing World for allowing us to use this talk. It’s a great conference. If you do wanna head to a conference next year check it out. I’ll link to them in the show notes today. Not sure whether I’ll be there or not next year but I have been for the last four-five years, so it’s highly likely that I will.

My quote of the week, something I started last week. I’ve got two or three for you and they’re all on the theme of acceleration or growing your business. These are things that might balance out some of what I taught today.

The first one’s from Joel Barker, “Speed is only useful if you are running in the right direction.” For me, that’s a reminder that goals are so important. It’s well and good to grow your business, to grow traffic to accelerate your growth in some ways. But unless you’re clear on the goals that you have, you’re accelerating you, you’re getting faster in the growth of the business for no real ultimate goal, I guess. You could be ending up just going fast in the wrong direction. Get those goals down first.

Second quote from Andy Rooney, “Everyone wants to live at the top of the mountain but all the happiness and growth occurs while you are climbing it.” This is something I think is really relevant for a lot of bloggers because a lot of bloggers I know have this goals that I wanna be a full time blogger, a goal that they wanna get a book deal, or a goal that they wanna be doing something with their blog, and opening up opportunities with their blog. it’s great to have those goals but the reality is that the goal doesn’t bring happiness itself. It can be a momentous occasion but enjoy the ride to the goal as well. That’s what I’ve certainly fanned over the years. The goal itself is important but the journey is really rich as well. I encourage you to pause along the way, don’t be obsessed with growth, but actually enjoy the little wins that you have along the way. Enjoy the friendships that are merged from it. Enjoy the opportunities that you have to change your readers’ lives as well.

Last quote that is from Julia Margaret Cameron, “Growth is a spiral process, doubling back on itself, reassessing, and regrouping.” If you’re at the point in your business where you’re current plateauing in your traffic a little bit, I hope that some of what you’ve heard today will help in that. But also know that it’s natural to have periods of intense growth but also periods where things feel like they’re slowing down, and even where they’re going backwards. Those times are really great opportunity to assess how things are going, to analyze where previous growth has come from, and to look around and see what others are doing to perhaps try something new as well. It’s completely natural to have those times where things fall flat, where things go backwards, that is part of the process. Don’t give up. Keep pushing forward.

Hope you have found those quote useful. I’ll include them over on the show notes today as well. I look forward to chatting with you next week.

Actually, I will also just say that over on the show notes as well, I do link to some of the further listening on the nine things that I mentioned in today’s podcast as well. There’s plenty there to dig into if any of those nine things really pick your interest. go a little bit deeper on them by listening to one of those podcasts. Again, today’s show notes including the slides, our links to those worksheets, link to those quotes, all of the links, all of the things, you can find them at problogger.com/podcast/246.

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May 07 2018

53mins

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235: How to Build Authority, Influence and Trust When Nobody Knows Who You Are

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How to Build Authority and Influence with Your Audience

In today’s episode, I want to talk about building authority and influence.

This topic came about from talking to a number of bloggers who’ve just completed our Start a Blog course. They’re starting from scratch (as we all did), and want not only to be found, but also to make an impression on those who arrive at their blog.

How can you be seen as a trusted authority on your topic, and a credible source of information, people don’t yet know who you are?

Getting traffic is one thing, but how do you build influence?

In this episode, I want to share 13 things that I’ve noticed good influencers do to build authority and credibility with their audience.

Resources for How to Build Authority, Influence and Trust When Nobody Knows Who You Are

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Hi there. Welcome to episode 235 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse. I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast, event, job board, series of ebooks, and courses all designed to help you to start an amazing blog, to create content for that blog that’s going to change the world, that’s going to change your reader’s lives, to grow traffic to your blog, and to build profit around your blog as well. You can learn more about what we do at problogger.com. In particular, check out our brand new course How to Start a Blog, our ultimate guide to starting a blog. Check out our new course which is coming in the next few weeks, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, which is perfect for new bloggers and intermediate bloggers who want to give their blog a kickstart. You can find our How to Start a Blog course at problogger.com/startablog and 31 Days to Build a Better Blog at problogger.com/31days or just over on ProBlogger, look for the courses tab and you’ll find them all.

In today’s episode, I want to talk about building authority and influence with your audience. This topic came up as I was talking to a number of the bloggers who just completed our Start a Blog course. We just graduated 103 bloggers. They’ve just started their brand new blogs. We posted links to all of them on our site. If you want to check them out, head over to ProBlogger. Today I’ll actually link to them in our show notes as well.

These 103 bloggers, just like all bloggers starting out, they’re starting from scratch. They’ve got a number of challenges. One, they need to create content. Two, they need to build traffic. But also more important than building traffic, they need to actually build influence, they need to build authority, they need to build credibility. This is one of the things that a number of new bloggers have talked to me about in the last few weeks. They can see the traffic coming in but how do they actually become someone with authority on their topic? How do they become someone who is trusted as a credible source of information? How do you build this when the traffic that’s coming in has no idea who you are? It’s one thing to get traffic but how do you build influence?

In this episode I want to share 13 things that I’ve noticed good influencers do to build this authority and credibility with their audience. You can find today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/235.

Today we’re talking about how do you build authority, how do you build influence, how do you take this traffic from giving you their attention to actually beginning to feel connected to you on this deeper level and seeing you as someone to be trusted.

There’s a number of different approaches to this. One of the old school way of thinking about this, I’ve seen many people build their business in this old school way, that school of thought would say gather as much knowledge as you can. Then show what you know, show what you’ve achieved. Be an expert, look the part. If you don’t know it all, fake it ‘til you make it. Be confident, promote yourself. This is the advice that I grew up seeing other people living out. This kind of approach works sometimes. But over the years, I’ve noticed that there’s a lot of bloggers, a lot of podcasters who don’t take that kind of approach, this approach where you build your authority but telling everyone that you’re an authority, that’s the approach that I see a lot of bloggers are doing. Sometimes it does actually work but in most cases I don’t think it does today. I think things have changed.

What I want to give you today is 13 things that I think you can do to help you to build some authority. We might call this the Authority 2.0. It’s a slightly different approach. It’s not just about telling everyone that you’ve got authority and they should trust you but it’s a deeper way. It’s perhaps a little bit slower in some ways but it’s actually more powerful, more sustainable. It’s hard to put your finger exactly on how someone builds authority so I can’t give you a definitive list of all the characteristics of these kinds of people. But in this episode, I want to share some of the common characteristics that I’ve noticed in meeting people who do have influence. They’re the people who I guess have had influence upon me.

Really I guess one of the things I would say before I get into my list is that I would encourage you to think about who influences you and to do some analysis on why you think they influence you because really, that is the answer. If you do that analysis yourself, what individuals, what authors, what companies, what friends influence you? If you can unlock why they influence you, you’ll probably find the answer as well. That’s really how I’ve come up with this list.

I will say I don’t know anyone who’s got all these 13 characteristics but let me have a go at describing some of what I’ve noticed about them. Number one, this is what I’ve noticed, their authority isn’t just built upon what they know but how generously they share what they know. I’m not discounting the fact that you need to know something about your topic. I do believe that the more you know about your topic, the better position you’re going to be in to be seen as a credible, authoritative type of person. Talking about your topic, knowledge is important but if you want to be influential, if you want to actually be trusted, if you want to be seen as someone that people want to connect with, it’s probably just as important to be known as someone who’s generously sharing what they know. Let me say that again, their authority isn’t just built upon what they know but how generously they share what they know.

I’ve seen this time and time again. Sometimes the people who rise to the top of the niche don’t know the most but they share everything that they know. I think about my own situation, Digital Photography School, I’m not a professional photographer. A lot of people are surprised at that, “You’ve built this site with millions of readers, how did you do that? You must be a professional in photography. You must know a lot about photography.” The reality is I didn’t know a lot about photography, I knew enough to teach beginners. I shared everything I knew on that topic.

I shared this one as number one because I want to be an encouragement to those of you who are struggling with impostor syndrome. This is something I see time and time again with bloggers starting out. They want to write on a topic but they’re not an expert in that topic yet so they discount themselves as being someone who should have a blog on that topic. You can be an intermediate level and write about that topic as long as you are transparent about what you know and what you don’t know and as long as you are aiming to teach people who are a bit behind you on that journey. That’s important.

Be known not just as someone who knows a lot about what you’re writing about but as someone who shares everything that they know. That goes a long way as well. Not to discount that you need to know something, you can’t just bluff your way through it. It’s not just a fake it and make it approach, you do need to know something, you need to be a learner on your topic, you need to be growing in your knowledge. But it’s just as important to be known as someone who is generously sharing everything that they know. Number one, their authority isn’t just built upon what they know but how generously they share what they know.

Number one, they don’t just talk about what they know but they also share what they don’t yet know. This comes into what I was just talking about, that transparency. The old school way of building authority is to just build yourself up to present yourself as the expert, as the guru. The reality is none of us know everything about our topic. We need to be clear with people that we have strengths and to promote those strengths but we also need to show people that there are areas that we don’t yet know and that we’re still learning about. That transparency about where your expertise ends and who you are best at serving, those types of things are really important.

If you’ve been traveling with ProBlogger over the years, you know that I’m not the most technical blogger in the world. I, quite often, in my Facebook live say I don’t know the answer to that question about how servers or domains or those types of things. I know enough to teach a beginner but we’ll find the answer for you because it’s not an area of expertise for me. I’m putting people around me who can fill in those gaps. Don’t just talk about what you know, talk about what you don’t know.

Whilst that might seem a little bit counterintuitive, it actually has a big impact upon your readers. They will trust you so much more because they see that you are willing to admit to a weakness or a deficiency in your knowledge in some way. It’s a very powerful thing. It’s a way of making a really deeper connection with people. Don’t just talk about what you know, talk about what you don’t yet know.

Number three thing is that these people that I’m thinking of who influence me and that I see as authorities learn in public. They learn in public. This is all a part of that transparency. When people see you as someone who’s still learning on a topic, who’s still gathering knowledge, who admits that they don’t know everything, that has big impression. But when you learn in public and share the journey of your learning, that is something that people want to be a part of as well because they can relate to that. They’re on your blog because they want to learn about that topic. When they see you learning and sharing immediately what you’re learning, then that’s a powerful thing.

Some of the things that you can do there to learn in public, I used to do interviews. I’ve used the example of Michael Stelzner from Social Media Examiner, one of the biggest social media blogs on the planet right now. He started out as someone who didn’t really know a lot about social media by doing interviews at conferences with social media experts. One of the reasons he did that was to learn from these people. He said, “I couldn’t get one-on-one coaching sessions with them all so I decided to interview them and record those interviews and then share those interviews.” It became a content creation strategy but it also was a learning strategy for him. It also built relationships with the people he was interviewing. He was learning in public. He was asking the questions he wanted the answers to. One, to gather his own knowledge and to improve the position that he was in but also to create content that he knew would be relatable to other people who’s in that same position. Interviews are a great way of doing this.

Doing experiments in public can be really important as well. I’ve seen people like Pat Flynn do this over the years really well. He’s known for doing experiments in starting new blogs, starting new businesses in public. He doesn’t do them behind closed doors and then report what happened. He actually says, “Here’s what I’m doing. Watch me do it. I’m experimenting, I’m learning.” People can really relate to that. Talking about the failures as well as the success is really important.

Asking lots of questions, this is one of the things I use to do on ProBlogger all the time, have blog posts that were me seeking information from my readers and me asking, “What would you do in this situation?” That again seems a bit counterintuitive, shouldn’t you as the expert be telling everyone what the answer is? No. People actually respect when you don’t know all the answers and when you are trying to find the answers for people. You will learn and as a result, you become more of an authority on your topic and more of an expert because you’ll be gathering these answers. Don’t pretend you know it all. Learn in public is a very powerful thing that you can do.

Tied into this is my fourth point. They use case studies, both case studies of themselves and others. Talk about the experiments that you’ve done, report back on what you are learning and what you are doing. But also talk doing case studies of other people can be a powerful way for you to learn but also for you to build credibility particularly when you’re doing case studies of what you were doing with other people.

Let me give you an example on ProBlogger. When I started ProBlogger, one of the things I did semi-regularly was to do case studies of how I would improve another blog. Sometimes these were blogs that hadn’t actually asked me to do this case study. It was just me seeing something and thinking I like the way they do this, this is what I would do to improve their blog and to actually write that type of post in a positive way. I never critiqued what they were doing. They were just suggestions and constructive things.

Down the track, people began to ask me to critique their blog and to coach them. Instead of coaching them one-on-one in private, I would coach them in public. I’d write the little critiques of their blog, with their permission, in public. This became really useful in the type of content that my readers wanted. The post became very popular but they also showed that I knew what I was talking about. This is one of the things that I’ve learned over the years. When you can demonstrate your knowledge indirectly, that’s a very powerful thing.

The old school way of building authority is to tell everyone what you know. But when you do this type of public coaching, in this case study, you’re demonstrating what you know. You’re actually showing people what you know by just doing it and by giving advice to someone else. People find that as a less confrontational way of building authority. Instead of telling people what you know, actually show them what you know in an indirect way, whether that be through a case study, whether that be through public learning or public coaching in some way.

Number five is that they show vulnerability. This, really, I guess comes into this transparency that I was talking a little bit about earlier. They don’t just show their credentials and strengths but also their weaknesses in that way. That’s vulnerability. There’s been a lot written over the years about vulnerability. Brené Brown’s written some great stuff on that topic. It’s similar to that transparency one earlier but I really want to emphasize it here because there’s something about being vulnerable in public that people really do respect. It builds relatability and it also shows that you are a human being.

One of the things I’ve noticed over the years about people who take this old school way of building their authority, telling everyone what they know is that they almost become superhuman. It’s almost like they become a bit robotic. Sometimes they come across as having it all so much together that they don’t actually relate to me. People like to see the frailties and the humanness in other people as well. Showing your vulnerability is important.

As part of that, to show as much of your personality and your personal situation, your personal life as you feel comfortable to do. This doesn’t mean you need to be Instagramming your family life, you might want to have some boundaries around some of that. But people do appreciate when you are able to weave into your content the fact that you are a normal person. To show a little bit of yourself in that way can be powerful.

Last year I think it was, I had one of my sons do the intro for this podcast. You wouldn’t believe how many people contacted me about that. Actually hearing one of my kids’ voices on the podcast made a big impression upon people. When I meet people in public, that’s the podcast episode that people tend to remember the most for some reason. They don’t even remember the content I had there but they remember the fact that I let my kid to be on my podcast. That was something that connected with many people, I guess who are parents as well. Allowing these little personality quirks, your personal situation but also your vulnerabilities into your podcast can really make a deep connection with people as well.

The other thing I will say about this by way of a personal example is some of the podcasts where I’ve shared my failures and mistakes have been the most powerful. I did a podcast about my procrastination, my character trying to be a perfectionist and as a result procrastinating. That podcast, again, had a massive impact upon people. I did another podcast years ago now about my health situation, how I was gradually putting on weight and what I did about that. Those podcasts are slightly off topic in some ways but they actually had a massive impact and made a deeper connection with people. Share your vulnerability, share your personality – really important.

Number six. People with authority, people with influence that I respect the most, they share their transformations and conversions. This is a massive part of them being seen as a credible source. They don’t just talk about the destination of where they’ve arrived but they talk about their origins and who they were when they started out. This inspires and it also makes them more relatable. If you think about it, if you were hiring a personal trainer, would you be more likely to hire a personal trainer who was born with chiseled abs, perfect genetics, and had no struggles in their health or would you prefer to go to someone who had really struggled with their nutrition and with exercise over the years but through trial and error has gotten to a point where they’re healthy? I personally would prefer someone who has had ups and downs over their life and who has come out the other end in a better place because I can relate to that type of person. I can’t relate to someone who always had chiseled abs and who’s got perfect genetics and who’s never struggled with their health. I prefer to go and see someone who has journeyed through it and can relate to the struggles that I’m having.

The same is true with building authority in your particular topic. If you can demonstrate by telling your story about who you were and who you are now, you may have reached a point where things are really great but what were things like in the way to getting there? Actually sharing those stories is a very powerful thing. This taps into the transparency and the vulnerability. It’s amazing how many people on their about pages talk about their achievements and talk about where they are now but they don’t actually tell their story. I think your about page is a brilliant place for you to tell stories about your journey, about your transformations, about your conversions to the way that you’re living today. It’s not just about the destination but it’s about the journey. People are much more interested in the journey that you’ve had than the destination that you’re at now. Weave that into your about page. Weave that into your brand if you can. Weave that into the way you promote your blog, the taglines that you have, your content, you can be constantly telling those little stories.

Pretty much every time I talk, I tell my stories of becoming a blogger. I talk about how I really had no credentials to be a blogger, I talk about how it took me three months to work out how to make text bold on my blog once I’ve started. This is I guess an entry credential in some ways, me talking about my weaknesses. But it illustrates the transformation to get from that to being a full-time blogger, to get from no readers to having millions of readers. That is something that people get inspired by all the time but they can also relate to that because they can relate to having those same challenges in the early days as well. Share your transformations, build your brand on those transformations that you’ve had. It’s a very powerful thing.

Number seven thing, over halfway now. They tend to be positive, optimistic, and constructive in their outlook. I’m thinking here about people who I’m drawn to. Maybe it’s just partly my personality coming out here but I’m personally much more likely to be influenced by and see someone as an authority on their topic when they have this more positive, optimistic outlook. They’re not just interested in busting myths and tearing down and critiquing. They spend more time presenting solutions, solving problems, and pointing to a way forward. This isn’t to say that from time to time you can’t get negative with your blog. I think being negative, critiquing something, busting myths – these types of things can actually play a part in building authority. To show that side of yourself from time to time can be important. I think you don’t want to be known purely as a negative person.

I know some people build their whole brand around critique. But most of the people I’ve seen attempt that don’t tend to last the journey or they tend to transition into a more positive person at some point because they realize that people come to them for their critique but they’re coming almost more for the entertainment of the critique and the snarkiness but they don’t actually see them as an authority on that topic.

I think probably about ten years ago in the blogging about blogging space, there are a number of people who started blogs that were very negative, very snarky. They’re talking about the negative things that they were seeing other people were doing. They were having a go at people, they were tearing down, and they were calling them out. Their blogs became very popular. They got a lot of traffic but no one actually saw them as an authority on their topic, no one actually bought their products, no one actually saw them as an authority in their space. They weren’t actually putting forward a solution alongside their critique. Go there if you need to from time to time, bust myths, critique, that’s fine from time to time. But always do it with a solution, with an alternative, and you’re going to be in a much better position. They’re positive, they’re optimistic, they’re more constructive than being known for being negative.

Number eight, they build a platform of giving and generosity before they promote. There’s definitely a time for asking. There’s definitely a time for selling what you do. But as I think about the people who I see as influencers and the people who I bought their products, the asking tends to be dwarfed by their giving and by their generosity. Survivors don’t be self-serving. Yes you need to win out of the scenario and this is a trap that some bloggers get into, it’s like just give, give, give and don’t actually get. You’ve got to get some balance in there on that. But you want to be known as generous before you ask.

Blogs like Copyblogger. I’ve read Copyblogger for years. Brian Clarkson Simone generously gave amazing teaching. I read them for years and as a result of that, anytime they will release a product I was a buyer of that product based upon the generosity of what they’ve done. I wanted to reciprocate. The only reason I bought their products was because they were so generous. Build a platform of generosity, of giving before you ask or promote.

Number nine, they show up, they deliver quality, they ship, they’re reliable. Authority isn’t just built on what you know but rather people knowing they can rely and depend upon you, people knowing that you have their back. Don’t be flaky. Don’t promise things that you don’t deliver upon. You want to be shipping, you want to be showing up. If you say that you were going to do a podcast every week, do a podcast every week. If you’d say you’re going to do a blog post every week, do a blog post every week. If you’re going to send an email newsletter every week, send that email newsletter every week. Do everything you can to show up. Not to say that you can’t take a break but forecast that break. Tell people the reason why you’re taking that break.

It’s reliability. It’s being there for your reader and them feeling like you’re consistent and you’re going to continue to show up and you’re going to have their back. This builds credibility. When people know that you deliver a podcast every week or that you deliver articles every week and you deliver that newsletter, they begin to show up expecting that you’d be there as well. Be reliable in that way.

Point number ten is to keep your messaging clear and simple. Did you notice how clearly and simply I said that? Keep your messaging clear and simple. Authority isn’t built upon making yourself look smart and lording your intelligence over those who follow you. Authority comes when you make your audience feel smart, when you facilitate them making discoveries, when their knowledge grows because of you. Again, let me think about this. It’s not about you looking smart, it’s about you making your readers feel smart.

I love the quote from a guy called Adam Grant. He said, “Good communicators make themselves look smart. Great communicators make their audience feel smart.” Really important distinction there. The old school way of building authority is about look at me, look at all the things that I know, look at all the things that I can say, look at all the big words that I can use. That might make you look good but influence, trust is built upon people feeling that they are benefiting from the relationship and that they are getting smarter as a result of you.

This needs to shine through in your content, the way you write your content. I’ve read a number of articles recently that talk about how to best communicate is actually write at a low level. They write at an 8th grade level rather than a university level. Actually writing in a way that your readers can understand the words, they don’t need to go away and look up words in dictionaries, they don’t need to guess the jargon you used – actually writing in a very clear way that makes your readers feel like they can understand what you’re saying is actually so powerful in building authority and credibility as well. It needs to shine through in the content that you use but also in the way you promote yourself as well. Don’t just make yourself look smart, make your readers look smart. Bring them into that in many ways that you can.

Number 11 is one that I’m really passionate about. Great influencers use their influence for the benefit of those they influence. There are too many word influences in there but think about this. A lot of influencers use their influence to benefit them. “I want to be influential.” “Why do you want to be influential?” “I want to be influential because it’s going to get me a car, it’s going to get me a holiday, it’s going to get me money. It’s going to get me all this stuff. I’m going to get a lot out of being influential.” The reality is that that’s only going to get you so far.

Great influencers use their influence for the benefit of other people. Use your influence for the benefit of other people. I see a lot of people trying to build authority and influence because of how their influence and authority will improve their lives. But I’m struck by the fact that many of the great influencers that I’ve met live very simply. They use their influence to benefit others.

What can you do that’s going to improve the situation of your readers and make the world a better place in some way? I actually ask that question from time to time. You will discover ways to use your influence, as small as it may be, to benefit other people. Obviously, you can write content that’s going to solve your readers’ problems but what more could you do? What more could you do for your readers?

For example, as I think about this for ProBlogger, what can I do to benefit you as an audience? One of the things that we’ve been realizing over the last year or so is that yeah, we can teach you how to blog but one of the needs that we see a lot of bloggers having is they want more traffic, particularly new bloggers. As you start your blog, you’ve got no traffic. One of the things we realized as we were doing this Start a Blog course that we launched recently is that we can actually help our students to get their first traffic.

This is why we started International Start a Blog Day, which happened yesterday as I record this. We actually promoted the 103 blogs that started as a result of our course because we realized we could not only help these bloggers to start their blogs but we can actually give them a little bit of traffic. We’ve been promoting these blogs. I had an email this morning from someone who said, “Wow, I had 100 readers yesterday. I never thought I’d get 100 readers on the first day of my blog.” What could you do that could help your readers to have their dreams come true? What could you do to help your readers’ dreams come true? Don’t just use your influence to make your dreams come true. Find creative ways to make your readers’ dreams come true as well.

I’ve got two more here. Point number 12, these influencers, these authoritative people that I respect don’t seek to be known, liked, and trusted. They show that they know, like, and trust their audience. I’ve spoken about this before. The quote by Bob Burg, “People do business with those that they know, like, and trust.” This is a very well-known quote. I believe it. People will want to do business with you when they know, like, and trust you. One of the ways that you speed up people knowing, liking, and trusting you is to actually do those things to them as well. I think this quote is a two-way thing. Don’t just try and be known, don’t just try and be liked, don’t just try and be trusted but actually display that you know your audience, that you like your audience, and that you trust your audience. Let’s just break that down a little bit.

Do you know your audience? The more you know your audience, the better position you’re in to build authority with them. Do your research on who is reading your blog. Who are they? Their demographics. What are their needs? What are their dreams? When you know these things, you’re in a much better position to serve them and as a result they’re going to begin to realize that you actually know who they are. One of the best things that I get is emails from time to time from people saying, “I feel like that podcast was for me.” That is because I’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand who is my audience. I create content based upon knowing who they are having met many of them at our conferences and our events but also talking to them on Facebook lives and those types of things as well. The more you get to know your audience and show them that you know who they are, the more they’re going to want to know, like, and trust you as well. Know your audience. Know, like, and trust.

Like your audience. Show warmth to your audience. Show your audience that you actually like them. Make your audience feel they are charismatic. A lot of bloggers they want to be charismatic themselves. Actually make your audience feel like you know them but you also like them. Spend time with them. Get on Facebook live and answer their questions. Hang out with them. Some of the most popular Facebook lives that I’ve done have been the ones where I’ve sat with a beer on a Friday afternoon and I’ve just said, “Let’s hang out.” We just chatted back and forth. We’ve asked questions of each other. We’ve hung out, we’ve had fun. Those are the types of things that, actually as I look back over the year, I’ve built relationships with my audience the most. Hang out with them. Show them that you like them.

Lastly, show them that you trust them. This comes down to this vulnerability that I was talking about before. When you share something of yourself, you’re showing your audience that you trust them. By me sharing that I’ve got three boys and me sharing that I’ve just been on holidays and me sharing some of the mistakes that I’ve made and some of the insecurities that I have, that shows that I trust you as my audience. I wouldn’t share that type of stuff if I didn’t have some trust of you, if I didn’t like you. Don’t just try and be known, be liked, and be trusted. The way that you actually do that is to know who you’re speaking to, to like them and to show that you like them, and to trust them – very important.

The last thing I’ll say about building influence and trust and authority is that it takes time. Most of the people that I see as influencers and authoritative type people and people that I see having credibility in the topics that they talk about, as I think about it and as reflecting on this week, they’ve all been around for a while. I’ve been following them for a while. It didn’t happen overnight.

I look at someone like Chris Guillebeau. He’s been blogging for years, probably for a decade or so now. He’s someone that gradually over time I’ve come to know, like, and trust. He’s someone that overtime I’ve began to see has authority on certain areas. It’s because he’s done all of the things that I’ve just talked about. He’s been vulnerable, he’s put himself out there, he’s kept his messaging clear, he’s shown up, he’s delivered on his promises. All of these things I’ve just talked about, he’s done them but he’s done them time and time and time again over the years. It’s the accumulation of that that makes me think, “Yeah, he’s credible. I can trust him. He’s an authority.” That is key.

I know that’s a little bit disheartening for those who just finished our Start a Blog course and you just started. But it’s the accumulation of the little things that you do over time that are going to lead to people knowing, liking, and trusting you, and people seeing you as an authority. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s the accumulation of these things. It’s the longevity of you doing these things overtime that’s really going to count the most. Yes you can build little bits of influence early on but it’s going to exponentially grow the longer you show up and the more consistent you are with these things over time as well.

I really hope that has been helpful to you. I hope it’s been clear and simple enough. As I thought through, I’m very aware that different people grow their authority and influence in different ways. I actually made a list of about 20 people that I see as authorities in their niches. As I looked at the list, I saw some of these characteristics but every time I look at a different person I’m like, “Yeah but they don’t quite fit with this one.”

I want to emphasize again that those 13 things I’ve just talked about, these are different mix and play for each person. Take it as a put it out list, some of it will resonate with you, some of it you want to try, some of it you might not relate to as much but somewhere in the mix of all that I think are some answers.

I’ve got some further reading for you today. I’ve got a few articles that I read in preparation for this podcast. There’s an article from Copyblogger Demian Farnworth, 10 Ways to Build Authority as an Author, which overlapped with a few of the things that I said. Then Shane Snow has a couple articles that I’ll link to and a couple articles he wrote about the level that writers write at. That touched on that, in keeping your messaging clear and simple. He’s written about some investigation that he’s done that talks about how writers that are most powerful in their communication tend to write at a lower level. He did some research into the level that great writers write at. He found about the 8th grade level was about the level that they were writing at, and that made them more relatable and easy to read. I’ll link to those in the show notes today as well as some further listening on the podcast as well.

You can find today’s show notes over at problogger.com/podcast/235. Thanks so much for listening. If you’ve got a moment, I would love it if you would head over to the ProBlogger blog and check out our list of 103 bloggers who started their blogs. The reason that we do have that list public is that we want you to visit them. We would love it if you would encourage those bloggers.

I know a lot of you have been blogging for years now. I want to encourage you just to remember what it was like that first week that you launched your blog. Wouldn’t it have made your day if someone had a shown up your blog and left a comment? Wouldn’t it have made your day if someone had shared your blog on their social media account? That would’ve been so encouraging for you. I really want to encourage you to head over to that list and find a blog that you can leave a comment on, maybe more than one. Find a blog that you resonate with that you could share on your social media account. Pass on a little bit of the traffic that you have. Use your influence to build and benefit other people as well. I really encourage you to do that.

We love the fact that there’s all these new blogs out there, and excited that there’s a lot more coming as well. I think almost 2000 people have started the Start a Blog course already. We’ve seen 100 blogs launched. There’s quite a few coming up behind them in the coming months as well. Anything you can do to support those new bloggers would be fantastic.

Thanks so much for listening today. I will link to the honor roll in the show notes as well, problogger.com/podcast/235. Chat with you next week.

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Feb 12 2018

40mins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for listening, chat with you next week.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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Sep 11 2017

24mins

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PB052: 10 Writing Tips to Help You Sound More Human

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Note: you can listen to this episode above or load it up in iTunes.

How to Use Your Writing to Build Relationships and Build Your Brand

Today’s episode is all about using your writing to build relationships and your brand. It’s a special interview with Beth Dunn, Product Editor-in-Chief at HubSpot. In today’s podcast episode, Beth shares really practical tips and strategies you can use for helping you sound more human in the way you write your blog content.

In This Episode

You can listen to today’s episode above or in iTunes or Stitcher (where we’d also LOVE to get your reviews on those platforms if you have a moment). In today’s episode:

  • Why every word you choose affects how you are perceived by others
  • 10 things you can do to make sure your writing portrays exactly what you want it to say
  • How to write to show that you are human
  • How to write to show that you are honest and trustworthy
  • How to make your readers excited
  • How to approach acronyms and formal language
  • How to make sure mistakes don’t slip through
  • Why a style guide can be so powerful in improving your writing
  • How to find an editor
  • How to tap into the power of pronouns
  • The power of imagining your reader in a really bad mood
  • How to convey humour without accidentally coming across as snarky or sarcastic

Further Reading and Resources for How to Use Your Writing to Build Relationships and Build Your Brand

How to be a writing god:

https://youtu.be/S8Q3vnPM6kk

How to fix your writing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzkXcZcayA0

More writing tips and resources from Beth:

You can connect with Beth and more of her writing at:

How did you go with today’s episode?

What did you learn from today’s episode? Are you already using some of Beth’s strategies? Which ones will you try next? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Finally, if you have a moment we’d love to get your feedback on the ProBlogger Podcast with this short survey which will help us plan future episodes.

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Oct 12 2015

45mins

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PB003: Promote Your Blog [Day 3 of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog]

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Find New Readers for Your Blog with Todays Blogging Challenge

Today is day 3 in our 31 Day Challenge and today your task is to promote your blog by sharing one of your previously published blog posts (perhaps even your list post from yesterday)!

This is an activity that bloggers really need to be focusing regular attention on so I hope that some of the tips I share in todays episode will become a regular part of your daily blogging workflow.

In this Episode

Building readership for your blog is a question I’m asked about every day and there’s a lot to say about it so I start off talking in slightly more general terms but then give you some specific ways to promote your blog. Here’s what I cover.

  • Why a ‘build it and they will come’ mentality doesn’t work
  • 6 phases of growing readership for your blog
  • 11 ways to promote your blog post

Here’s a graphic of the 6 phases from a talk I gave recently to help you visualise it.

But as I say – today is very much about phase 4 of the process.

Your Challenge for Today

Choose one (or more) of the 11 ways mentioned in todays episode to promote your blog (or try another that wasn’t mentioned) and get off your blog and put some of your recently written pieces of content out there.

Note: Please go a little beyond what you normally do. If you normally push your posts out onto social media – do something a little extra and see what happens.

Tell Us What You Do! – Once you’ve promoted your post please let us know what you did in comments below these notes so we can learn from you. Also let us know what impact your actions have.

Other Links and Resources Mentioned In Todays Episode

I mention a couple of resources in todays episode that would make great further reading (and listening) on this important topic.

I’ve also included a few other relevant articles to the topic for you to check out if you want to dig deeper.

A Great Offer from our Friends at 99designs

Before I go I would recommend that you check out the great offer our friends, and new podcast sponsor, 99designs have for you (worth $99). They’re a fantastic place to go if you’re looking for any help with graphic design in your blogging.

I found them so easy to use when getting my podcast artwork designed and appreciate their great variety of designers, fantastic value for money and the quality and speed of the work being produced.

Don’t Forget You can also grab the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook with a 50% discount using the coupon code PODCAST50 during the checkout process here.

Enjoy this podcast? Subscribe to ProBloggerPLUS for free to get free blogging tutorials and podcasts in your inbox each week.

Jul 02 2015

21mins

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198: 6 First Income Streams Recommended for Bloggers

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6 Recommendations to Monetize Your Blog

In today’s episode I want to talk about making money blogging.

More specifically, I want to tackle a question from a reader who has been blogging for a while without monetizing but is wondering which income stream she should try  first.

I’ll suggest 6 income streams that I see bloggers often starting with and at the end nominate my favorite one that I think can be a good place to start for many bloggers.

So if you’ve been wanting to start monetize your blog – whether you’re a new blogger or an established one – or even if you’ve been monetizing but want to add another income stream – this episode is for you.

Links and Resources on 6 Recommended First Income Streams for Bloggers


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Good morning and welcome to episode 198 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast, event, job board, and a series of ebooks, all designed to help you as a blogger to grow your audience, to create amazing content that’s going to change your audience’s life in some way and to build profit around your blog.

In today’s episode, in episode 198, I want to talk to you about that topic of making money from your blog, building a profitable blog. Most specifically, I want to tackle a question from one of our readers from the Facebook group who’s been blogging for a while now without monetizing. She has actually built up a bit of an audience, some archives of content, but is wondering which income stream she should try to add to her blog first.

In today’s episode, I want to share with you six different income streams that might be a possibility for this particular blogger. These are six income streams that I see bloggers often starting with. At the end of presenting the six, I want to nominate my favorite one that I think could be a good place to start for many bloggers. If you’ve been wanting to start to monetize your blog whether you’re a new blogger, or an established one, or maybe you’ve been monetizing for a while and want to add another income stream, this episode is for you.

You can find today’s show notes where I will be listing some further reading and listening over at problgger.com/podcast/198. Also, you can join our Facebook group and connect with other bloggers on this same journey of monetizing their blogs. The Facebook group is over at problogger.com/group.

Lastly, if you are in America, in the US, check out our upcoming Dallas event which I will be co-hosting. We’ve got a great lineup of speakers including Kim Garst, Pat Flynn, myself as well as a range of other bloggers and online entrepreneurs. You can get the details of this event which is happening in October, I think it’s the 24th and 25th of October. You can get those details at problogger.com/success.

If you use the coupon code SUCCESS17, you’ll get $50 off over the next couple of weeks but don’t wait too long on that because that discount won’t last long. All those details will be on the show notes today. I think it’s time we go into today’s episode.

I got a message from Danielle who’s one of our Facebook group members this morning. She said in her message and she gave me permission to share this, “I saw your recent Facebook Live on how to make money blogging. I love the idea of adding multiple income streams to a blog.” That’s something that I did cover in that Facebook Live recently. “But as a blogger who’s been blogging for a while and has a medium sized audience but who’s never monetized, what income stream should I add first? Thanks, Danielle.”

Thanks for the question, Danielle. I do appreciate that. If you do have questions at any time, pop them into the Facebook group or send me a message if you would like to do that as well. On the group would be great because that way we can answer I publicly. But there are a few options for you, Danielle, as is often the case with question that I’m asked about blogging, the answer is, often, it depends. It really does depend. There are a number of factors that are going to help us to work out what income stream should work best for you.

Some of the factors that you will need to ponder and I guess you need to think about as you’re listening to some of what I’m about to suggest. Different factors will impact the income stream that you choose. Some of the factors might include your topic. Some topics lend themselves very well to different income streams whereas other topics don’t at all. For example, I found talking to many bloggers who blog about spirituality of different faiths or politics that advertising doesn’t always work so well on some of those, particularly advertising with advertising networks like Google’s AdSense. Your topic is going to come into it.

Even more important than topic though is your reader’s intent. The question is why are readers on your site? If you can really tap into that, why are they there, you will, hopefully, begin to see some opportunities to monetize. For example, if your readers are on your site wanting to learn information, they want information of some type, they want teaching, they want how to information, then that’s going to land itself to monetize by selling information, information products. I’ll talk a little bit more about that.

If people are there because they want to connect with other people who share a similar interest or a similar life situation, it may be harder to sell information but it might be easier to sell them into a membership community. Ask yourself the question why are readers on my site? What is it that they’re there for? Because that might help to reveal the right income stream.

Some other factors that come into play, your audience’s size, whilst you’ll always find that as you grow your audience your income will grow with most of the income streams I’m going to talk about today. Some of them are almost not worth trying if you’ve got a tiny audience. For example, Google AdSense. You’re not going to make much on it at all unless you have a sizeable audience.

Your audience’s location is another factor. Some locations monetize better with Google AdSense, with things like Amazon’s affiliate program. If you have an audience who is all in the one location whether that be in the one country or even the one state or even the one town, I know some of the bloggers in our Facebook Group have very localized blogs, then they will lend themselves to different types of income streams. For example, I know one blogger who has a blog in Melbourne and they monetized their blog by advertising on their blog to Melbourne businesses. That really lends itself very well to that, your audiences’ location.

Also, the source of your traffic, you’ll find that some different types of traffic will monetize differently. Traffic coming in from search engines might do better with Google AdSense but traffic coming in from social media might do better with affiliates. Really, it’s going to depend on your certain situation. I’m generalizing a little bit there. Email, I find, works really well when you’re selling a product, for example. The source of your traffic is another factor to consider.

There are some other things to keep in your mind, your topic, your readers’ intent, the size of audience, the location of your audience, the source of your traffic, these types of things, it’s worth knowing what they are because as I go through these six different income streams that you might want to consider, those factors will come into play.

Let me outline six of the options. By no means are these six the only options. These are just six of the most common things that I see bloggers doing as their first income stream. I’m not saying any of them are the best for you, Danielle. You’ve got to give it a go and I’ll talk a little bit later about trying different income streams because different income streams will have different fits for different blogs.

Number one and by no means am I putting this in order of priority, this is just the most common one that I see a lot of bloggers starting with, it is actually the one I started is Amazon’s affiliate program. Amazon’s associate’s program is what you will need to Google. To find it, I’ll link to it in today’s show notes. Some people are pretty much turning our podcast off right now because they don’t like Amazon’s associates program and I understand why that is. There are a number of reasons that I regularly hear from people that they don’t like it.

For one, in some places it’s just not available. There are some states in America that you cannot join the Amazon’s associates program and it’s got to do with tax and the legal aspect of it. I don’t really understand it because I’m not in one of those jurisdictions. Other people might be from other parts of the world where there’s not an Amazon store. There are legitimate reasons not to do it.

But often, the complaints I hear about Amazon’s program are that the commissions are quite small, they are. The commissions that you make on Amazon when you recommend a product and someone buys that product, you earn a little commission and the commissions are quite little, they’re I think 4% depending on the products. It can go a little bit higher. I have high commissions up to 8% or 10%. It’s not a massive commission that you get, particularly if you’re recommending low priced products. If you’re recommending a $10 eBook and you’re earning 4%, not a lot there, which I understand.

Other people complain about Amazon because the cookies don’t last long. If you send someone into Amazon, if they make a purchase, I think it’s within 24 hours you can get a commission but after that, you don’t. I will need to check how long that cookie lasts today. They’re some of the reasons that I hear Amazon being critiqued and they’re valid reasons but I still like Amazon and I still like to promote on Amazon. If you follow my Digital Photography School blog, you will see that I recommend cameras on Amazon all the time. Every time I talk about a camera, we link into Amazon with our affiliate code.

There are a number of reasons for that, that we choose Amazon even above camera stalls and that is because Amazon’s an incredibly trusted brand. We have a very US based audience. We know most of our audience know, use and trust and like Amazon. They know that brand, they trust it. It’s a safe option for them to spend their money on. Another reason that I like Amazon is that it’s not just books on Amazon. There are all kinds of products. If you have a high value product that you write about on your blog like a camera, 4% isn’t really much when you’re talking about a book but if you’re selling a $2,000 camera, it add ups over time. That’s one of the reasons that I particularly like it.

Another reason I like Amazon is that there’s more than just books on Amazon, there’s products from almost every category that you can think of. People tend, once they’re in Amazon, to start surfing around and I can see, I actually recommended a lens on Amazon yesterday from our Facebook page and no one bought the lens but I can track that people bought other things. I saw people buying books. I saw people buying cosmetics. I saw people buying nappies. I saw someone buying a necklace, jewellery and this was because I linked in pointing to lens. I would say that most people are buying more than one items. They tend to surf around and Amazon is very good at suggesting things for people to buy. Get people in the door at Amazon and Amazon’s very well refined, very well tested and then I will get this out for you.

Another reason I like Amazon as a first income stream, just to begin to learn how to monetize your blog is that it’s so easy to integrate. Amazon provides a variety of different tools and widgets that you can use on your site. You can just create text links but you can also develop little icons and widgets that you can put in your sidebar and even a shop that you can build as well.

Another thing I like about Amazon is that particularly around holidays like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, they are very well optimized and they often have really good promotions on them. If you can get people into the store at those times, people are in a buying mood but Amazon also have a lot of specials and so you can promote those types of specials as well.

Amazon’s not going to be a perfect fit for every blog but I do think it’s worth considering if you want to start out. One of the reasons I do particularly like it as a first one is that it’s so easy. You can be up and running with Amazon within a few minutes, just go to Amazon’s associates program, signup and you can be generating links pretty quickly.

The times that it may not be good for you is if you do live in one of those US states where it’s not allowed or if you have an audience that doesn’t live within one of the locations that Amazon has a store. Amazon has stores in America, they’ve got a UK one, I think they’ve got a German one. They’ve got a variety of different stores and you’d be aware of the ones in your particular area. I think there’s about to open up in Australia as well.

It may not be perfect for you but it’s one to consider. If you want to learn a little more about Amazon, check out episode 53 where I talk about how I made over half a million dollars with Amazon. That’s sounds like a lot but it’s come out of almost the last 15 years of blogging so split that up a little bit. I also have written a really extensive article on the topic called the Ultimate Guide to Making Money with the Amazon Program which is a text based version of that particular podcast in podcast episode 53. I’ll link to those in the show notes today.

That’s the number one, by no means is it the best. Number two that I want to talk about is other types of affiliate programs. This is another option that I think is very easy to do. There’s very little investment that you have to make when you’re promoting someone else’s products and there’s a variety of different types of products that you might want to promote.

Again, just for a recap for those of you who aren’t even familiar with that term affiliate, it’s when you recommend a product and you earn a commission when someone buys that product. You are given a link that has a little tracking code and so the person who’s selling the product knows you referred that and they were able to pay that commission.

There’s a variety of options here. You might want to promote a physical product. For example, Vanessa, many of you know Vanessa, my wife, she has a style fashion blog. It’s called Style and Shenanigans. She has an affiliate link from numerous types of physical products. She’s writing about fashion so she is linking into clothes store, clothes and shoes and bags, accessories, those types of things. She also writes about books so she’s recommending books on online stores. She’s recommending them on Australian stores because her audience is in Australia. She doesn’t do so much on Amazon.

She’s linking and promoting home wear products, vases and paintings and all kinds of those types of things, sheets, duvet covers and those types of things and then gift ideas. Around Christmas, she might do a list of 10 things to buy a guy for Christmas, or a woman for Christmas, or mother’s day, that type of thing. She’s talking all the time on her blog about physical products. When she promotes those products, they work quite well for her.

If you’re talking about physical products on your blog, find an affiliate program where you can recommend those types of products. You’ll find many these days, many normal retailers like actual brick and mortar retailers in shopping centers and malls that you go to. Many of them will have programs already. You could simply do a search on Google for the shop name affiliate program and you’ll probably find that many of them do. Of the shops that Vanessa shops in, there’s only really one or two that don’t have an affiliate program already.

Some of them will have their own affiliate program but most of them will use what’s called an affiliate network. Some of these might be networks like Commission Junction, or Commission Factory, or ShareASale, or LinkShare. I’ll link to those in the show notes today as well. There are networks around as well. The beauty of the networks is that they actually represent quite a few different retailers and different options for you so you might sign up for a site like LinkShare or ShareASale and you might be promoting three or four of their merchants at once which means you’re not getting lots of little checks and lots of little payments coming in. ShareASale will just send you that one payment every month.

Physical products might be a good fit for your blog if you’re writing about those types of things already and you can find products related. The other type of product that you can recommend as an affiliate is virtual products. These are usually more information based products. This is really where I started to ramp up my monetization. I started out with Amazon’s affiliate program and AdSense which I will talk about in a moment but then I very quickly learned that you could earn a higher commission if I was recommending an information product particularly an ebook.

The first ones that I promoted were ebooks on photography. I found that many of the people who are writing ebooks, even 10 years ago, now were paying 50% commission. You’re not looking at a 4% or an 8% commission like Amazon, you can earn a higher percentage. Again, really, it’s going to depend upon the reader intent. If your readers are there to learn something, information products like ebooks, or courses, or even membership sites can be very, very good. If you have people wanting to have community, you might promote membership sites. They tend to be more about where people have a forum and can connect with other people.

If people are there to learn how to do something, you might also want to recommend software products. On ProBlogger, we recommend hosting options, we recommend tools, landing page sites, plugins, those types of things, WordPress themes, they all have affiliate programs as well and they relate to the reason that people are on ProBlogger because they want to have good blogs and these tools enable them to do that as well. Think about that and you might want to do some research and look at what other bloggers are promoting in your particular industry. You might want to Google your topic and affiliate program, or your topic and ebook, or your topic and course. Many of the products you’ll find will have an affiliate program attached to them.

Some of those affiliate networks that I mentioned previously will have lots of information products in them as well. I find ShareASale has a lot of software as a service products that might relate to your niche. There’s another one called Clickbank that has a lot of more information product. E-junkie also as a lot of affiliate options for information products as well. Again, it’s really important that you not only choose a product to promote that is on topic for you, but you want to also match it to the intent of your readers.

Many of you will remember I had a camera review site back in the day. When I recommended teaching products or ebooks on that site, people weren’t buying those products because the intent of those people on that camera review site was to learn about which camera they should buy. It was much better for me there to link into Amazon because that’s where the product they were researching was. Promoting books on how to take better photos just didn’t work there at all. These days on my Digital Photography School site, the intent of the reader is to learn how to use cameras and so those ebooks do so much better. Again, match the intent of your readers with the product.

I do share more about affiliate marketing in episode 51. If that’s something you want to learn more about, go check that one out. Again, I’ll link to it in the show notes and I’ll remind you of all of these further listenings later as well in the show.

Number three thing that you might want to try and I see a lot of bloggers starting this way, particularly bloggers who’ve already built a bit of an audience and they want to start monetizing is advertising networks. This probably won’t suit a brand new blogger who doesn’t have an audience because this is one of those income streams that does really require you to have traffic. It’s not going to convert at all. You might earn a few cents if that, using an ad network. In fact, you might not even get into some ad networks until you have some traffic.

This is how I got started, but again, I’ve been blogging for a year and a half before I started to monetize. I signed up for Google’s AdSense network. It actually came out about the time that I started to think about monetizing my blog so I was lucky in some ways to get in the ground floor. AdSense is another one of these income streams that gets a bit of a bad rep from some bloggers. Some bloggers don’t like it because they don’t make much money from it and that could be because they don’t have much traffic or it could be that they have a traffic from a location that doesn’t monetize while using Google AdSense.

I find Google AdSense works really well for US audiences but it doesn’t seem to work as well for audiences from different parts of Asia, for example. It really is going to depend upon that location but it’s worth a try if you do have some traffic but you’re going to need a lot of it to really ramp things up.

Another advertising network that I do know a lot of bloggers who are doing quite well from these days is a network called Mediavine. Again, I’ll link to it in the show notes. They do have a few restrictions on who can join but the bloggers I know who get accepted by it say they do a lot better than they did from AdSense. On their page, you can actually go and have a look at some of their guidelines that they say. They say that you have to produce original content so you’re not let to repurpose content from other places and the categories that they say they accept bloggers from are food, parenting, DIY, health, fitness, fashion, travel, crafts, education or entertainment.

It’s fairly broad but there are some categories that they don’t seem to represent like politics, religion, those types of things. Really, if you fit into one of those niches, you might want to have a look it. They do require you to give them exclusive access so you cannot be running other ad networks here. They also say, “It has to be exclusive across mobile and desktop.” You also need to have 25,000 sessions a month, that’s a Google analytics measure there. If you’re getting under 25,000, you may not get accepted into it but it’s something to aim for, again.

They’ve got some requirements. You can check that one out if in you’re in one of those categories. There are other advertising networks around and if you are in another niche and you’re looking for one, you might want to pop into the Facebook Group and ask if anyone else is aware of any that might suit your particular niche. That’s the number three.

Number four is related to that because it’s still advertising. It’s what I would classify as a sponsorship. This is, again, not going to be relevant if you’re a brand new blogger because like ad networks, you do need to have some existing traffic to be able to sell sponsorships on your blog. Danielle seems to have some traffic so it might be a good fit for her. This is where you find a brand that is willing to work directly with you. In some ways, it’s cutting out the middleman like AdSense or Mediavine, you’re going directly to the advertiser.

I’m not going to go into great detail on this one because I think we’ll do a full episode on it in the coming episodes but I did talk to Nikki Parkinson about this in her recent interview in episode 196. There are a variety of ways that a sponsorship can work. Again, it’s only going to really work if you’ve got that traffic but a sponsor may be interested in buying a banner ad on your site, they may be willing to sponsor some content so they might want you to write a review of their product and then pay you for that. They might want to sponsor a series of content, we’ve done that type of thing on Digital Photography School where we might have done a whole series of articles on portrait photography, that was sponsored by Canon.

They didn’t actually do that but that would be an example and it’s not where you’re actually promoting a product but you’re presenting content sponsored by them. A brand might also be interested in hiring you as an ambassador if you’ve got a well-known face or profile in the industry, a brand might want to sponsor a giveaway or a competition on your site or they might want to do a combination of those things. This is what we often do on Digital Photography School, we will sell some banner ads, we might sell a banner ad in our newsletter as well, maybe some social media promotion and it’s a competition as well. We bundle things up.

There’s a variety of ways that you might want to work with a brand. Again, it’s going to only really suit bloggers who have a bit of an established profile and some traffic as well. You want to find a brand who wants to associate them with you. For that to happen, you need to be in good standing and have a good reputation.

The fifth thing that you might want to consider is creating your own products to sell. Up until this point, we’ve largely been talking about promoting other people’s product as an affiliate or working with a brand. You’re sending people away from your site selling other people’s stuff. That can work quite well particularly if you can get a cut from what you sell and that converts. But your own products might be another one.

This is one that I would suggest most bloggers might not have as their first income stream unless they have been around for a while because it does take some traffic but it also takes a lot of work. It’s going to be some investment that you have to make into creating a product particularly if it’s a physical product. You need to get it designed. You need to get it made. Even a virtual product like an ebook, you’re going to have to take some time to create that product.

My first product was an ebook. What I did is turn some of my previously published blog posts into the ebook and then I wrote some extra content that was exclusive to the ebook as well. It took me some time to get it together. It took me three or four months to create that ebook and get it ready to sell. It does take some work. The reason it worked very well for me was that I had a lot of the content already written and I already had an audience who is engaged. I had fans of the site. They’re willing to buy what I was selling. There was trust and relationship there.

This one is definitely more risky if you don’t have many readers or they’re not an engaged reader. If you have a lot traffic coming in from search engines, for example, and they’re people who just come in once and then never come back again, they’re less likely to buy from you because they don’t trust you as much. You have to really work hard on your marketing to convert them because you got to convert them in that one time they’re on your site unless you do some retargeting advertising later. But if you’ve got readers who are coming back again and again particularly if you’ve got email addresses of those readers, I find email is a great way to sell products.

If you got that engaged audience and you’re looking for your first income stream, it might be that selling your own product is the best way in because if you’ve got a very engaged audience, they’re going to be excited about your product and you’re going to actually make it a bit of an event and include your readers in the development of that product as well and bring them on that journey. Let them know that you’re writing an ebook ahead of time. Get them even to crowdfund the ebook using Kickstarter or that type of thing.

If products are something you’re interested in, you could check out episode 67 where I tell the story of my first products and also outline some steps that can help you to work out what product to make and how to make that product as well.

The last income stream that I want to talk about is where you sell your own services. Again, this won’t be relevant for everyone, not that any of them are. This is another way that I see some bloggers monetizing early in their blogging, it’s where they sell themselves in some way. This is obvious, if you’re a professional, you might be an accountant, or a lawyer, or a child behavior therapist, or you might have a business of your own on the side and this is where you use your blog to promote that business. I do know quite a few bloggers who didn’t have an existing business but then decide to sell services that relates to their blog.

Let me give you a few examples. I know two bloggers here in Australia who are fashion bloggers who now sell their services to fashion boutiques and fashion manufacturers, small fashion manufacturers to write copy for their websites and also to manage their social media. Because they’ve built up their profile as a fashion blogger, they’ve got some expertise in those areas, they then offer those services to others in that particular industry. If you’ve got a decent reputation in your industry already, you might do well from that.

Another example is a parenting blogger that I know who writes paid articles for a parenting magazine and for local newspapers. She has a regular column and she gets paid to do that. It may be that you have a service that you can offer people in your industry as well. Again, not going to be relevant for everyone but if you’ve already built up that reputation, it may be something you can do.

When I did a recent survey of full time bloggers, I surveyed about 100 full time bloggers. I found that over half of them offered freelancing services. I was really surprised at that but it makes sense because often when you are selling yourself as a writer, or a consultant, or as a coach in some way, you are able to charge a higher rate than you might able to get from selling an ebook or two. That’s another one to consider.

I’ve gone through six different options there. We started with Amazon’s affiliate program then we talked about other affiliate programs, we talked about advertising networks, we talked about sponsorships and working with brands, we’ve talked about creating your own products and then we talked about selling your own services. But the question still remains, which one should Danielle do and which one should you do if you are wanting to monetize your blog for the first time. Again, it really does depend. But if I had to choose just one, if I just had to choose which one, for me, it would probably be affiliate, it would probably be affiliate marketing.

Whether that’s Amazon or whether that’s another affiliate marketing relationship with a brand that’s more suited to your audience, I think it could work well. There are a variety of reasons that I think affiliate is the best way to go for many bloggers, not all but many. That is because there’s very low barrier to entry. You can sign up for an affiliate program and some of them will take 24 hours to approve you but many of them will approve you instantly. You can be generating some links that you can then be putting into your blog straight away.

The reason that I love affiliate marketing so much isn’t so much the income that you’ll get because in the early days, you’ll probably won’t earn a lot from it but you’ll going to learn a lot from it. You are going to begin to see what products your audience are interested in buying. You could be promoting a variety of different products. You could be promoting some physical ones, you could be promoting some high priced ones, you could be promoting some low priced ones and you could be doing some information products, you can try few things and then begin to see what your audience response to. This might help you to work out what you should create, what product you could then build.

Creating that product might be your ultimate goal but to work out which one to create and how to market it and how to price it, how to promote it, you’re going to learn a lot by doing some affiliate marketing first. For me, that’s probably the real beauty of it. The other thing you might also learn by doing some affiliate marketing is what type of products you could then be approaching to sponsor your blog. You might find that jewelry does really well on your blog or why not reach out to some jewelry stores or jewelry manufacturers and see if they would want you to become an ambassador or to become a sponsor on your site.

This is what I actually did in the early days of my blog, I did a lot of affiliate marketing and I worked out after a while on my Digital Photography School blog, the ebooks work really well. I didn’t create an ebook till 2009 but I was promoting ebooks since 2007 and I worked out that my audience, they like ebooks and they like them on certain topics and at certain price points. I created my first ebook on the topic that I knew would work and at the price that I knew would work as well. You’ll begin to learn a lot about what’s going to work with your audience.

I also learned on my very first blog, that camera review blog, that Amazon affiliate links were working well on my site. I began to approach camera stalls directly to sponsor the site. Again, you’re going to learn a lot there that can flow onto other income streams as well. If I was starting today, I’d probably identify a few key products to promote on my blog as an affiliate and then start with that.

A few last things to really keep in mind, and I really want you hear this. Making money from blogging takes time. It’s not an overnight get rich quick program. Most bloggers also have more than one income stream and that’s what Danielle mentioned in her question. We’re talking today about your first income stream, it’s not your only one. Most full time bloggers have at least two. Many of them have four or five different income streams. Most full time bloggers try income streams that don’t work for them too. Most full time bloggers have a stream of things that they have tried that didn’t work. Don’t just rely on one. Just because the first one doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean that others won’t as well so hang in there. Keep experimenting.

Another thing to keep in mind is that making money from your blog isn’t a passive thing, it’s not passive income. You are going to need to set aside time to monetize. A lot of people tell the story of my first ebook making $70,000 in its first couple of weeks. I’ve told that story from the stage a few times and I’ve heard other people retell that story. But they tell it as a he got rich overnight type story. The reality couldn’t be further from that truth. The reality is that it took me two years of building up traffic to a site. It also took me three months of working everyday to create that ebook and getting ready for that launch. It took years of developing trust with my audience.

Yes, you can make money quickly but it’s usually built on the foundations of a blog with a great archive of content that has an audience that you’ve worked really hard to build up, an audience that’s engaged. These are the foundations for that profitable blog. Yes, experiment with those income streams but don’t do it at the expense of creating great content, engaging with that audience, and promoting your blog as well. Those things are just so important.

I hope that somewhere in the midst of that is an answer for you, Danielle. Maybe affiliate marketing but maybe as I’ve talked today, something else has peaked your interest as well. I have mentioned a lot of further listening. I just want to emphasize that again. If you do want one of those income streams, here’s a list of a podcasts that you might want to listen. Firstly, episode 32, I’ll list all these in the show notes. 32 is an episode on answering that question can you really make money from blogging. I talked about seven things that I’ve learned about making money from blogging.

Episode 51 is about affiliate marketing, if you do want to explore affiliate marketing, how to do that, how to convert better than just putting an ad in your sidebar for an affiliate product, episode 51 is for you. If Amazon is one that you want to look at, you can listen to episode 53 which really builds on episode 51 so those two might work well in conjunction. If you want to create your first product, go back and listen to episode 67 because I really do talk about my journey in that as well.

If you want to learn a little bit more about working with brands, you might want to listen to that interview that I did with Nikki Parkinson. Just a couple of episodes ago in 196, I think it was. She actually talked there also about how she monetizes in a few other ways as well. It could be a good one to listen to if you haven’t already.

All those will be listed on the show notes at problogger.com/podcast/198. Lastly, if you want to do check out the Facebook group, head over to problogger.com/group where I’d love to hear about how you monetize your blog. There’ll be a thread announcing this podcast in the comments of that. We’d love to hear about your first dollar, how you made that first dollar, and what you would do differently if you’re starting out again today.

Thanks for listening today. I’ll be back with you next week to talk about another cool tool that’s going to help you in your blogging. Thanks for listening. Chat with you soon.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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Jun 19 2017

38mins

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PB067: Why You Should Create a Product to Sell On Your Blog (and Tips on How to Do It)

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How to Develop a Product to Sell on Your Blog

Today’s episode is the second of the new ‘Today, Not Someday’ series of podcasts that will take us up to the end of the year about what you can do to make your blog ready for success in 2016. The focus is your ‘someday’ list, the things you’ve always wanted to do to improve your blog but have struggled to make happen. For details about how the series works, check out episode one here.

The focus of today’s episode is about why having something to sell is so important, and tips about how you can develop a product to sell on your blog.

In This Episode

You can listen to today’s episode above or in iTunes or Stitcher (where we’d also LOVE to get your reviews on those platforms if you have a moment). In today’s episode:

  • Why having something of your own to sell is so important
  • 9 ways you’re losing opportunities if you don’t offer products on your blog
  • How I made my first product – the mistakes I made and the lessons I learned
  • 8 steps to follow to create your first product

Update: you might also like to check out this followup episode on how to create more time to create your first product.

Further Reading and Resources for How to Develop a Product to Sell on Your Blog

Other episodes in the Today, Not Someday Series:

The ‘creating products’ series on the ProBlogger blog

This is the series of blog posts I mention about ‘creating products’ that Shayne Tilley and I shared on the ProBlogger blog:

Meet my new friend, Edgar

I’d like to welcome a new sponsor to the ProBlogger podcast for the duration of this 10 part series, my friend ‘Edgar‘.

Edgar is a tool I’ve been using since January of this year that does exactly what this series is about. It enables you to make the work you do on social media keep paying off for the long term. You put a little work into Edgar today by adding social media updates highlighting the great content in your blog’s archives and Edgar goes to work to share them to your followers not just once but by queuing your updates to keep delivering to into the future.

The team at Edgar have put together a special deal for ProBlogger readers which gives you a free one month trial. Sign up for it at meetedgar.com/problogger.

How did you go with today’s episode?

How did you go with product ideas? What product do you think you will create and launch first? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

The hashtag I’ll be using to talk about this journey on social media is #TodayNotSomeday and I encourage you to share your journey too, using the same hashtag.

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Dec 02 2015

27mins

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201: The Secret to Building a Blog with Big Traffic and Profit

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How to Build Traffic and Profit into Your Blog

On today’s episode I want to talk about a key to creating a blog with lots of traffic and profit.

The topic comes from a conversation I had this morning with a new blogger who was asking me about how to create content that would go viral and as I look back at the growth of my own blogs I think it’s an important lesson to my own business’s growth.

Links and Resources on The Secret to Building a Blog with Big Traffic and Profit


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Hey there, my name is Darren Rowse. I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast, events, job board, and a series of ebooks, all designed to help you as a blogger to grow a profitable blog. You can learn more about ProBlogger and all we do over at problogger.com.

Today’s episode is episode 201. In it, I want to talk about a key to creating a blog with lots of traffic and profit. It comes from a conversation I had this morning with a new blogger who was asking me about how to create content that will go viral. As I look back on the growth of my own blog, I think it’s a really important lesson for bloggers of all stages, good reminders on how to grow a business around your blog and traffic to your blog.

You can find today’s show notes with some further listening at the end at problogger.com/podcast/201. Also, join our Facebook group at problogger.com/group. Just wanted to let you know, a bit of a reminder of our events that we’ve got coming up. If you are in Australia, we do have a limited number of tickets left for our events that are happening at the end of July and the start of August in Melbourne and Brisbane. You can get more information on those events at problogger.com/events.

If you’re in America and can get to Dallas, Texas, in October, we’ve got a great event coming up there. You can find out more information on that event at problogger.com/success. All of those events, Pat Flynn will be joining me and we’ve got a raft of other amazing speakers happening at all of those events as well. I’ll link to each of those pages in our show notes as well.

Let’s get into talking about traffic and profit and how to build those things into your blog. This morning, I had a conversation with a new blogger who asked me a question that I do get from time to time. They ask me, “How do you get viral traffic with a blog post?” It’s not the first time I’ve been asked it. I suspect it’s not going to be the last time that I’ll be asked it. Every time I am asked this question, I find myself wondering whether I should give the answer that the blogger wants to hear or whether I should give them the one that they need to hear.

In this case, I told them the one they needed to hear. But the answer that they really want with that question is for me to reveal some secret to writing highly shareable content. Now, of course there are many techniques that you can use to increase the shareability of your content. I’m going to suggest some further listening on that topic at the end of this podcast. There’s nothing at all wrong with writing shareable content and hoping for it to get viral. I actually think you should write some of that type of content but it’s not the answer to building a sustainable full time blog with big traffic.

In fact, when you become obsessed with writing just that type of content, it can hurt your blog. The answer that the blogger I talked to today needed to hear is that in most cases, the reason a blog grows into a sustainable business is that they don’t have viral content. It’s actually not the viral content that helps them to grow that. The key to building a blog with big traffic and big profits is to build it one step at a time. I’m sure there are a few examples around the bloggers who have hit it out of the park with a single blog post, who’ve had overnight success with one piece of content that goes viral. In fact, I’ve heard a few of those stories but it’s certainly not my experience.

Whilst I’ve met thousands of full time bloggers over the last 15 years, I’m yet to meet one who got there with a single viral blog post. Full time bloggers rarely have that kind of overnight success. The fastest I’ve heard about is around for months of working on a blog before someone got to a full time level. I’m sure there are faster examples out there but even that four month example is an exception to the rule. In most cases, blogs with big traffic, significant traffic, it takes years of work to get to that level of blogging one step at a time.

I know some of you who are listening to this podcast are feeling a little bit disappointed right now. We do love to hear those stories of overnight success. We love hearing about things going viral. Those are fun stories. I understand your disappointment. For those of you who’ve had those moments of going viral, you actually know that they are fun experiences as well. I know this because I remember one of the first times it happened to me.

In the early days of Digital Photography School, I was kind of obsessed with writing viral content. I remember one post going viral. In fact, it was probably one of the first posts that went viral for me. It was January 2007. I just looked up the Google analytics stats a few minutes ago and I hit the jackpot with a post. At that time, my blog was seven months old. I was averaging around 4,000 visitors a day, which wasn’t too bad. I’d actually managed to grow my blog relatively quickly to 4,000 visitors a day. That growth was based upon the fact that I’d had a previous photography blog. I was able to bring some readers across from that, I was ranking relatively well in search engines already, and I was bringing in that kind of traffic from search.

But things have begun to plateau at around this 4,000 visitors a day mark. I published a lot of evergreen cornerstone content, which had helped to get to that point, but I wasn’t satisfied. I wanted more traffic and so I began to look around at what other sites were doing. I particularly was drawn to social bookmarking sites. At the time, they were huge sites. Today, we see sites like Reddit. Back then, it was site like Digg. They were the big sites that you could get lots of traffic from.

I began to analyze the type of content that was being shared a lot on these sites. I realized there were certain formulas to it. There were certain headlines that did pretty well. There were certain topics that if you write about those, they seem to get shared more. I began to try writing some of that type of content. It was quite different to the kind of content I’d already been publishing on my blog. It was fluffy content. It wasn’t overly deep. It wasn’t really that helpful. They were listicles. They were top 10 lists. They were posts that were more about controversy than helping people. They had clickbait-y kind of titles and yet I began to write that type of content.

One day, it worked. I remember on this day, early January 2007, I published a post and I woke up one morning and I realized that it had been linked to by a larger blog. A blog called Lifehacker. I’d pitched them the previous day of my post. I’d say, “Here’s my post. You might find this interesting. Your readers might find it interesting.” And they’d taken the bait. They linked to my post. That link doubled our traffic that particular day. That was fantastic. In some way, I didn’t just have 4,000 visitors. I had 8,000 that day. This was just the beginning.

The next day, the post was picked up and linked to on a site called Digg, which was one of the forerunners to Reddit. Things went crazy. Overnight, we went from having 4,000 visitors a day, the next day I had over 100,000 visitors. I remember that day vividly. I sat there at my computer refreshing my site stats over, and over, and over again. I did very little else that particular day. I remember watching the numbers grow 4,000, 8,000, 16,000, 20,000, and continued to grow and grow. It was amazing rush. I felt like I finally hit it big. I’ve had this success. I finally was going to have a full time income from this particular blog, but it didn’t last.

The next day, I woke up expecting to continue to have massive traffic to my blog, but it was all gone. The next day, we had 4,100 visitors. I was so disappointed. The rush of traffic was amazing. It was an amazing feeling. It really was. I understand why people want viral content. Believe me. But virtually, none of it ever came back despite my best efforts, despite me trying to get that traffic to go and visit another post, and to sign up for my RSS feed, and to follow me on Twitter, and all these other things that could have happened to help me make it come back. It didn’t work.

For the next month, my traffic was flat, 4,000 visitors a day. Sometimes, it went slightly high. Sometimes, it went slightly lower. I got really down about it. I wanted that rush of traffic again. I started to write more posts like the first one, trying to recreate it, but none of them took off. I pitched almost every post I wrote to Lifehacker, hoping that it would trigger another rush of traffic, but they didn’t link up again. I tried to game Digg and get my post up to vote it up on Digg but that didn’t work either. I became obsessed with trying to go viral again.

For months, that became my number one goal. I wanted to repeat that “success.” For me, it felt like it was success but the reality was that it didn’t help my blog at all. The result was that for the next few months, I continued to create fluffy content. It was designed to trigger shares but not really to serve my readers.

Now, it did happen again. I did have a few more of those viral days over the coming months, where my traffic would be huge, where I would get to the front page of Digg or another site like, there was one called Delicious back then. It was social bookmarking sites or another big blog would link up. I’d feel on top of the world. I had a successful blog for a day only to find the next day, my traffic was 4,000 visitors a day. I actually looked at my stats the other day and it was flat for month after month after month. There used to have the big spikes and then nothing, 4,000 visitors a day.

This continued on for a long time until I had a realization that 4,000 visitors a day wasn’t just a number. It wasn’t just a number. 4,000, it was 4,000 people a day, 4,000 human beings have landed on my site each day and that wasn’t something to be depressed about. That was actually something to celebrate. But the realization that I also had was that when they were landing on my site, they were actually finding fluffy content. They were finding formulaic headlines, they were finding content that was designed to be shared but not designed to solve their problems. I wasn’t serving them at all.

This was a massive mind shift for me. I realized that the traffic that I already had, that I thought wasn’t enough, was actually pretty amazing. The fact that 4,000 people, human beings have given me attention each day was pretty amazing. Whilst I’ve been hoping for these 100,000 visitors a day spikes in traffic, the reality was that even with a big spark in traffic every couple of months, that it was the 4,000 visitors a day type traffic that was actually outnumbering my viral traffic.

4,000 visitors a day is 120,000 visitors over a month. I already had the equivalent of a viral traffic each month and yet I was focused on something that just really wasn’t paying off at all. I began to wonder if instead of focusing upon trying to hit the ball out of the park with one post a month, whether I’d have more success in trying to serve those readers I already had. If I spent more time trying to get that number from 4,000 visitors a day to 4,001, to try and grow them one at a time rather than 100,000 at a time, because when I was getting those 100,00 visitors, it really wasn’t converting to anything that took me closer to my goal of becoming a full time blogger.

That’s what I started to do. I started to try and take little steps towards that bigger goal rather than trying to get to the big goal all at once. Some of the things I started to do around that time; I started to survey my readers. I started to ask them, “What are your questions? What are your problems? Who are you?” I didn’t even know who they were really at this point. I began to gather that information. With that information, I suddenly started to have a wealth of content ideas. I started to see what their problems were and I started to understand what they need. I started to understand what motivated them, what turned them on and off. I began to suddenly get a lot of ideas for content.

I also found that because I was spending less time on sites like Digg and trying to get links from other sites, because I was sitting on my Google Analytics less each day refreshing it wondering if I was going viral, I suddenly had more time to write content. I had more ideas for content and I had more time to write it. I increased the amount of content I was producing on the site. I went from 4 posts a week to 5 posts a week, to 7 posts a week, and then later on, to 10 posts a week. I began to just focus less upon the stats and more upon serving my readers.

I also had more time in my hands to interact with my readers. I began to respond to comments more. We ended up starting a forum and trying to build some community there. It was also around this time I began to work more on not just trying to get traffic but trying to convert the traffic that was coming into becoming subscribers. It was around this time I began to really focus more upon trying to build my email list and signed up for AWeber and began to grow that particular list. I began to create content via email that would engage those readers and bring them back to the site again and again.

I still did try to write the occasional piece of shareable content. I actually did one probably every couple of weeks but the ratio of the kind of content that was shareable and the kind of content that was more evergreen serving my readers, it changed considerably. I went from trying to hit the ball out of the park with viral content from every post with every post to 1 in 10, 1 in 14 posts. What I found is that those shareable pieces of content actually started to get shared more by my readers because I’d been serving them better. Because I’ve been paying attention to them, they began to share that content more. It naturally actually began to happen more often. I would begin to get more viral spikes in traffic.

Now, again, those viral spikes didn’t lead to a lot of ongoing growth to my blog but it did begin to happen more and more. That was actually helpful with social proof. The impact was that a month later, after I made this mind shift, I remember actually, the date that I did it because I wrote it in the journal. I looked it up yesterday and I went and had a look from a month after making that decision, my traffic was at 4,500 visitors a day. It had actually began to go up. It was going up sort of 10%, 20% per month. Three months later, I was already on 6,000 visitors a day. A year later, my traffic was at 9,000 visitors a day.

We did continue to have a few viral days of traffic but my efforts were not about making viral traffic happen. It was more about trying to serve my community. Those viral things were sort of like the cream on top. The real focus became trying to grow our traffic from day to day, the longer term visitors. I realized that a reader who came back everyday for the next year, was 365 times more valuable than a reader who surfed in one day and never came back again.

These days, the site has grown a lot. These days, 100,000 visitors in a day is a normal day for us. But that only happened because I changed the mentality. I stopped chasing viral traffic and started doing the things that would grow loyal readers.

Here’s my point for today. Do you have dreams of big traffic and profits for your blog? I hope you do. That’s fantastic. Dream big but don’t allow your big dreams to distract you from the truth that the way those big dreams are usually achieved is one step at a time. Dream big but the reality is that you’re most likely to get to those dreams coming true if you begin to take single steps at a time.

What are the steps that you need to take? That’s my question for you today. I’ve got some suggesting points but it’s going to be different for each one of us. Maybe your next step is starting that blog that you’ve been thinking of starting. I know a lot of readers or listeners for this podcast haven’t started a blog yet. You’ve been thinking about doing it. Maybe today is the day. Start that blog. I’ll link in our show notes to our guide to starting a blog.

Maybe your next step is writing a blog post. Maybe it’s a post you’ve been procrastinating on. You’ve heard me talk about my procrastination issues. Maybe you’ve been procrastinating on something. Or maybe you didn’t need to write any blog post. Maybe your blog has been a bit dormant. That might be your next step. Maybe your next step is to just get into your blog and look at the last comment and reply to it. Maybe your next step is to come up with some sort of system to share your content on social media.

You might want to look at tools like Edgar. They enable you to set up systems to be able to share things. Maybe your next step is to set up an email list. Maybe your next step is to send an email to your email list. Maybe your next step is to do a survey of your readers to understand their needs better. Maybe your next step is to meet one of your readers. Maybe you need to arrange a Skype call with one of your most prolific commenter, someone who leaves a comment on your blog just to understand who they are.

Maybe your next step is to reach out to another blog in your niche, to begin to get to know them, to network with them. Maybe it’s to join a Facebook group in your niche and to begin to participate there, begin to be useful there. Maybe it’s to start your own Facebook group. Maybe it’s to do your first Facebook Live. Maybe it’s to get onto Twitter and to look for questions that people are asking in your niche and to answer those questions. Maybe your next step is to reply to an email from one of your readers or to write a guest post for another blog.

I don’t know what your next step is. Maybe it’s one of those things or maybe it’s something else. But what I do know is it’s the accumulation of those small steps that’s going to build your blog the most. It’s the slow one by one addition of a new piece of content everyday or a new addition of a reader everyday, the serving of those readers everyday. It’s the accumulation of those things that you’re going to have the biggest impact on your blog over the long term.

By no means am I saying you shouldn’t try and hit the ball out of the park occasionally. Big hits can be great. They can give you a rush of motivation. They can actually bring in some new readers but you’re going to find out that if you obsess about hitting it out of the park every time that you’re going to strike out a lot. You need to also build those little small things into your days.

What’s one thing you can do today that’s going to take you a step closer to your big dreams? I’d love to hear what your next step is going to be, what that next thing is going to be. You can head over to our Facebook group and let us know what your step is going to be today. Tell us your story of those viral days. I’d love to hear if they did convert for you. But what are those small things that you’ve done over time that have lead to a longer term ongoing growth as well. Share those things over on the Facebook group. If you head over to problogger.com/group, you’ll be forwarded into that group.

If you’re wondering what you should listen to next. I’ve got a few suggestions for you. I did mention at the top of the show that there are some things that you can do to write more of that shareable content. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as you do it in moderation. Episode 113 is one where I suggest 4 different techniques for getting more eyeballs to your blog. One of the techniques I do talk about there is writing shareable content, so that might be of interest to you.

Episodes 1 through to 31, old time listeners would know what that was. That was 31 days to build a better blog. It’s where I turned my ebook, 31 Days to build a better blog into a series of podcast that give you 31 activities that you can do to help you grow your blog. If you’re looking for one of those small things you can do and you’re not sure what to do, go back and listen to some of those episodes, episodes 1 through to 31. They’re still all in iTunes. All in the show notes as well.

The other thing that you might want to do is listen to episode 66. Episode 66 is one where I started a little series of 10 things you can do today that will pay off on your blog forever. Actually, over the 10 episodes that follow that go through 10 different things that often we procrastinate on, often are the things that we put off doing, and the 10 things that we should prioritize I guess, and 10 things that I’ve done that have really led to a lot of ongoing growth on my blog. I actually think those 10 things are well worth looking at almost every year, just to do some assessment on.

That’s episode 113 for some shareable content tips, episode 1 through to 31 for the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog tips, and episode 66 if you want to begin that journey of looking at those 10 things that will have a long term impact upon your blog.

Lastly, you can check out today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/201. Thanks for listening, chat next week.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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Jul 10 2017

23mins

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PB032: Can you really make money blogging?

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Note: you can listen to this podcast above or load it up on your device on iTunes here.

Is it Really Possible to Make Money From Your Blog?

Today’s episode is about whether it is really possible to make money from your blog. We take a close look at how many bloggers make money, the methods you can use, and the realities of earning money as a blogger.

Money text on euro bills by Dani Rönneberg on 500px

In this Episode

You can listen to today’s episode above or in iTunes or Stitcher (where we’d also LOVE to get your reviews on those platforms if you have a moment). Today we talk about:

  • How much money bloggers make
  • 37 different ways to make money blogging
  • How I make money blogging
  • 11 examples of bloggers who make money blogging
  • The 4 things it takes to build a profitable blog

Further Resources

37 Ways to Make Money Blogging

How much money ProBlogger readers make from blogging

Not all of our readers try to make money from blogging. This is how much money our readers who DO try to make money from blogging say they make (based on results from a survey we ran recently):
  • 4% of bloggers who try to make money blogging make over $10,000 a month
  • 9% of bloggers who try to make money blogging make $1,000 – $9,000 a month
  • 7% of bloggers who try to make money blogging make $500 – $999 a month
  • 17% of bloggers who try to make money blogging make $100 – $499 a month
  • 25% of bloggers who try to make money blogging make $10 – $99
  • 28% of bloggers who try to make money blogging make made under $10 a month
  • 10% of bloggers who try to make money blogging say they don’t make anything

Examples of bloggers making money blogging

Further Reading

How did you go with today’s episode?

What are the next steps for your blog? Will you try new ways of making money from your blog? If you’re already making money from your blog, what is it that’s working best?

I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.

Pick up the 31DBBB eBook at 50% Off

Don’t Forget You can also grab the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook with a 50% discount using the coupon code PODCAST50 during the checkout process here.

Finally, if you have a moment we’d love to get your feedback on the ProBlogger Podcast with this short survey which will help us plan future episodes.

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Aug 03 2015

28mins

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250: 9 Types of Killer Filler Content that are Easy to Create

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How to Create Killer Filler Content for Your Blog

This week I’m sharing a list of content filler types you can use for your blog. And they don’t take a lot of effort or time to create.

If you’re struggling to create thoughtful, original long-form content, these will help fill some of the gaps.

Here’s how to create killer filler content and add value to both your blog and your readers.

  1. Reader Discussions: Ask a question to generate a debate/community workshop
  2. Polls: Increase reader engagement and start a good discussion with a question
  3. Homework/Challenges: Specify a topic, and give readers an assignment
  4. Link Posts: Link to another blog/article (or include a list of links) to build relationships and find out what others are thinking
  5. Best Of/Archive Posts: Post useful posts new readers have never seen
  6. Guest Posts/Regular Contributors: Include posts written by others, or find a regular writer to do a semi-regular post
  7. Embeddable Content: Use photos, cartoons, or go to YouTube; search keywords related to your blog topic, and find a high-value video that helps your readers
  8. Interviews: Find interesting experts, and ask them questions to help your readers
  9. Answer Question: Address questions from readers and beginners (but make the answers short and sweet)

These posts are a little less labor intensive to create, but still serve a purpose for your readers.

The key is to experiment. Which get positive reactions? Evolve them into something you can add on a regular basis to your blog.

But remember, don’t publish ‘filler content’ just for the sake of posting.

Quote of the Week: “If you treat every situation as a life-and-death matter, you’ll die a lot of times.” – Dean Smith

Links and Resources for 9 Types of Killer Filler Content that are Easy to Create:

Further Listening

Examples of 9 Types of Killer Filler Content that are Easy to Create

Courses

Join our Facebook group

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

Hello. It’s Darren from ProBlogger here. Welcome to episode 250. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast, event, job board, series of ebooks, and courses all designed to help you as a blogger to grow your blog, to build that audience, to create great content, and to build profit around your blog. You can learn more about what we do at problogger.com.

In today’s episode, I want to suggest to you a list of types of content that you can use on your blog and potentially in other mediums as well that don’t take a massive amount of time to create. This episode does build upon what I talked about in the last episode– episode 249–where I was talking about deadlines, schedules, and editorial calendars.

In that episode, we heard a question from a blogger who was finding it difficult to keep up with the schedule. That actually found having a deadline each week, having that schedule was limiting and they decided to slow down and only post when they had something to say, which I agreed with on some levels, but I did mention that there was a danger associated with that.

One of the dangers is that you can slow down so much that you don’t publish anything at all. I suggested last episode that there might be some ways of creating content that don’t take a lot of effort, that still serve your readers, and keep the publishing of content ticking over.

I jokingly call this kind of content, filler content. But it’s not really filler content because filler content does have this light and fluffy feeling to it. We want the content to be killer filler content. We want it to be relatively easy to create, but also adding value to your readers and to your blog.

Today, I want to suggest nine types of killer filler content for your blog. Before I do, this is episode 250, which feels a little momentous. It’s a bit of a milestone, so I do want to pause for a moment and given the fact that I really didn’t know if this podcast was going to have more than 31 episodes, it’s a bit of a milestone. I’m kind of proud to get to this point, but I also really am very aware that it only has happened because of you. I did want to stop and thank you today as a listener.

I just checked our stats. We’re approaching four million downloads. Probably, we will hit that in the next couple of months and that blows my mind. It’s been three years of creating content. The fact that almost four million people have tuned in at some point or another is fantastic.

I’m really aware that a number like that sounds a lot, but what really strikes me is that, that represents a lot of people like you taking time out of their day every week to spend a little bit of time with me.

I hear from a lot of you that you enjoy our weekly chats and that sometimes you hear things on this podcast that help you to grow your blog. That’s really exciting for me, so I just wanted to pause, take a moment today, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to hang out with you each week, and to contribute to your week and your blogging in some small way.

I love these times, even though I don’t get to hear your voices, but I look forward to the chats that we have and I look forward to hearing the stories that come out of this as well. So, thank you.

You can find today’s show notes, which will have a transcript of today’s show at problogger.com/podcast/250.

Today’s topic—let’s get to that now—is how to create these killer filler content for your blog. I do want to really emphasize today that you probably should never really be publishing filler content. You don’t want to just post for the sake of posting.

Every time you publishing something you have an opportunity to add value to your readers to build your brand in some way. I do want you to keep in the front of your mind that as I go through this list of types of filler content, that they can each be used in good ways, but also in bad ways. They can actually all be used in ways that can add value into the lives of your readers and build your brand, but they can also be used in bad ways.

If you just get into a routine of publishing filler content that doesn’t add value, really what you’re doing is destroying your brand, frustrating your readers, and not really helping you to build anything, so keep that in the front of your mind.

I should also say that I think this type of content that I’m going to share today, you could fill your whole blog up with this, but really, I want to share these ideas to go in between your other content–the deeper, more thoughtful, the original ideas that you have, I think the more of that kind of deeper, longer-form perhaps content, original thought that you can bring to your blog, the better. Really, what I’m describing today are things that can go around that and can add value to that in some ways as well.

Let me go through these nine different types of content and then I’ll wrap it up at the end. Number one is something that we’ve been doing on digital photography school and ProBlogger, really since the beginning of both of those sites on a semi-regular basis. We don’t do this every week, we don’t even do it every month. But every month or two, we would do these types of post and it is the reader discussion.

There’s a number of ways you could do this. One way is to issue your readers with a question that they can go away and discuss. The question on ProBlogger might be, “Tell us about the most successful way that you’ve driven traffic to your blog. It’s a nominated topic, it’s a nominated question, it opens a discussion, and that maybe all the content that you have. You may write just a paragraph asking the question and then throw it open to your audience.

Another way you can do it is set up a debate. You might say, “Here’s two approaches–which one do you agree with?” In digital photography school, we have from time-to-time done debates like, “Zoom lenses versus prime lenses? Prime lenses are lenses that don’t zoom. Which one do you prefer?” We just open that up as a discussion and we know that there are fans of zoom lenses, there are fans of prime lenses, there are fans of people who like to do both, a discussion will open up as a result of that. This is where you open up a debate or you give two alternatives.

Another thing that you can do is to ask people to share their stories. You might ask them to share examples of something that you’ve written about previously. You may have written a post, your longer, more thoughtful post earlier in the week. You might publish one on Monday and it might be on that topic of zoom versus prime lenses. You talk about the pros and cons and then on Wednesday you might do a follow-up post that opens up the discussion. You link from one to the others. This, we find, works quite well on digital photography school where we have a tutorial and then we have a discussion.

Whilst we could do those two things into one post and sometimes that works, what we find is that we get more comments if we do a separate post later in the week that links to the first, because people have had time to digest that tutorial that we have already published and then I can have a discussion about it later. It also give us a second chance to promote the original content that we published earlier in the week.

Discussion posts can be really good. The other bonus about having a discussion post is that you get inspired, you get questions, you get ideas from the discussion that you could then write about later. I quite often find our discussion posts stimulate an idea for me for a follow-up post, which again gives you an opportunity to link back to that discussion, creates more page views on your blog, and it highlights the fact that you got discussion on your blog. Discussions can be great for that. The only thing that you really want to pay attention to is making sure that discussion is relevant to your overall topic of your blog.

Number one, discussions. Number two is similar in some ways and that is where you could run a poll. It’s so easy to run a poll on your blog. There are plenty of tools around. There’s lots of WordPress plugins if you’re a WordPress user. There are other poll tools around that allow you to embed polls onto your blog. This again gives you the opportunity to ask your readers a question, and then you can see the results of that. They don’t even have to leave a comment to respond to that.

This is something that we used to do every week on digital photography school. We certainly slowed down on the amount of polls that we do these days, but one of the bonuses of doing polls is that they actually give you a result as well. You can do a follow-up post about the result of the poll. Typically what we do is ask a question of our readers of this or that type question or give them three or four alternatives, and then, a week or two later we would look at the results of that and we would write a post sharing the results. Drawing people’s attention back to that poll, we create a chart, show them the results, talk about why maybe the results happened and maybe give them some further reading as well.

This idea of taking the results of the poll or taking the discussion that’s already had and creating new content about that is how this content creates even more content for you and I love that. A reader discussion, for example. You could take some quotes from your readers and then put them into a new blog post later on, again adding some of your own thoughts which your readers will love because you’re featuring their ideas in your main content.

Number one was reader discussions. Number two was polls. Number three is something that we still do every week on digital photography school and we do it from time-to-time on ProBlogger, and that is to give your readers a little bit of homework or a challenge to do.

This is one of the most popular posts that we do on digital photography school every week. My editor will name a theme or a topic and then our readers go away and take a photo on that theme before coming back and sharing the image that they take in the comments of our blog.

This, we call it our weekly challenge, it’s a little assignment. Some of our readers, actually the whole week revolves around this challenge. We typically will write a tutorial on the topic of the challenge. We might write a tutorial on shooting with long shutter speeds and then we might have a discussion later in the week on that topic, then later in the week again we give our readers a challenge to take a photo with a long shutter speed.

The beauty of this—I’ve talked about this in the past—is that we’re giving our readers information in the tutorial, and then we are giving them an opportunity to discuss, to have some interaction with that topic, and then we give them an invitation to actually implement what they’re learning, get them out and applying the information that they’ve learned.

This information, the interaction, and getting them to do something with it not only gives us three pieces content in a week instead of one. It actually challenges our readers to do what we’re teaching them.

So, if you have a how-to blog, this is a great little model that you could very easily implement into your blog, that takes you posting from once a week to three times a week very, very easily. Homework challenge is the third type.

The fourth type is something that we used to do all the time on blogs back in the day. The link post was so popular. A few years back, this was what everyone did on their blogs, almost every post. I actually looked back on my very first blog recently. I looked up on the Wayback Machine and I was amazed that always every post I wrote out of the first few months was me linking to something else and then making comment about that. I would link to a blog post that I’d read and then I would add my thoughts. I would talk about what I agreed with, what I disagreed with, and tell my readers why they should read that link, that was almost every post I did.

It’s the kind of thing that we do today on social media, but why not go back to that and do that on your blog from time to time? It’s relatively easy to create that type of content. There’s a number of ways that a link post you might put it together. One, as I just described, you linking to another blog or an article and then adding a few of your own thoughts to it. I think it is important that you add something original to it, that you give your readers a little bit of context as to why you are linking to that post.

The other way that you can do is to create a series of links. It’s almost like a compilation of things to read for your readers. We used to do this even a year or two ago on ProBlogger once a week. Our editor at the time, Stacy, would put together I think about six or seven links from around the web that she’d found interesting that have been published over the last week. We might link to Social Media Examiner, to Moz, and other blogs like Copyblogger who had published new things over the last that we found interesting.

Stacy would pull together those links into a list and then she would write a short paragraph, a few sentences about each one. It took a little bit of work to do, but it wasn’t her having to come up with lots of ideas and it was a much easier piece of content to create each week.

The other way you could do it is instead of publishing a list of new content that you’d found over the last week, you could choose seven links that all relate to a particular topic. You might do a bit of a search around for a topic that you cover on your blog that gives seven other people’s opinions on the topic. You might have a short quote from each those and then link for further reading.

These types of content might sound a little bit lighter than some of the stuff that you do, but what I found is that our readers really love these types of content because it gets other people’s voices onto your blog, other ideas onto your blog. It can add in some really interesting ideas into your content as well.

They’re also really good at building relationships with other people on the web in your niche as well. When you are linking to other people, you’ll find from time to time that they will notice those links and they might even reach out to you as well. Sometimes, actually share that content.

We had a post on digital photography school a few years ago, which was 18 Great Photography Links From Around The Web. It was just 18 links that I’d found that week. That post went viral. It was just a list of links with a sentence or two about each one and it got hundreds of thousands of views that particular week. These types of posts can do quite well. They also keep you in touch with what other people are writing about, and thinking and learning in your niche, which can be good for you and can stimulate further ideas for you to create content.

You can see a theme here. Most of these things not only adds some new content onto your blog. They not only serve your readers in a new way, but they can actually inspire you if you’ve got a bit of writer’s block or if you are searching for things to write about, struggling to come up with new ideas, that can sometimes stimulate that.

A fifth type of killer filler content that you can create is similar to the link post in some ways, but this is where you create a link post of content in your own archives. This is going to be particularly useful for any of you who have been blogging for a year, or two, or three and you’ve probably got those archives that most of your readers do not know about because they’re new readers and they haven’t seen the old content in your archives, or maybe they’ve forgotten about it.

If you got evergreen content in your archives, it is useful every now and again to bring it to the attention of your readers. A post that you might do from time to time is a ‘best of’ post. “Here is the best post from our category on digital photography school.” It might be our portraits category or “Here’s five articles that you may not have read from our landscapes category.” Actually resurfacing that content, highlighting it again. Now you wouldn’t want to do this every single post, but once a month you might add this into your content schedule.

There’s a blog called Lifehacker that I used to read a lot. I assume it’s still around today. I don’t read it so much anymore. They used to do this post which, once a week, they would do a post, ‘One year ago on Lifehacker.’ It was basically them looking at what they published one year ago and then relinking to anything that was still relevant today. It became this weekly thing that people looked forward to. It enabled them to explore the recent history of the archives of that post. That’s the fifth type of killer filler content.

Number six is guest post or other regular contributors. I’m not going to talk in great deal about this because just a couple of episodes ago in episode 248, I talked about how to find new writers for your blog and we touched on this again.

Obviously, one way to create content for your blog that doesn’t take you a lot of work is to have someone else write it for you, either as guest or as a hired writer.

Now, I do need to emphasize that this does still take some work because you need to have some editorial control over that. You want to proofread it, you want to make sure that it is written with sound advice and it fits with the overall ethos of your blog, but I think it is one way to lighten the load because you don’t have to come up with the idea for that content. You don’t have to come up with the original thought for that. You just need to put on your editor hat to make sure it is of a high-enough quality. That’s the sixth way of creating some extra content on your blog.

Number seven is embeddable content. I hinted at this one last week’s episode because it’s something that I still do to this day. On digital photography school, we have one post every week that is us highlight and embedding a video that we found on YouTube that someone else has created on the topic of photography and a different aspect of photography.

Our editor does a bit of a search on YouTube to find the best video on a topic that she wants to cover, then she writes a paragraph or two introducing that topic, talking about it from her perspective, linking to anything we’ve written on that topic before, and then she embeds that YouTube video into the post. These posts do really well.

Sometimes actually, some of the best posts that we do in terms of traffic, which feels a bit awkward in some ways because we didn’t create the bulk of the content, but our readers love them. We don’t normally do video. They allow us to create content on topics that maybe a fringy topic that we don’t have expertise in.

They also build relationships with the video creators as well. The video creators get views out of these. They are able to monetize those views if they’re running ads on their site. They help to build their profile.

We get a lot of video creators actually pitching us and saying, “Hey, why don’t you feature our video?” They’re actually bringing value to our readers, they’re bringing value to the video creators, but also, they’re bringing value to our site as well because they’re adding a different voice and different expertise into the site.

It’s so easy to do. Head over to YouTube and just do a search for keywords relating to your topic. Make sure the videos are relevant, that they’re high quality, that they add something to your blog that they’re going to benefit your readers in some way, then embed that into a post. Add some of your own thoughts around it, of course, link to anything that is relevant to that so you might get the second page view in some way, and this can do very well on your blog. We do this every week. We do one post a week in our schedule using curated content.

Now of course, videos are just one type of thing that you can embed on to your site. Embeddable content comes in so many different forms. Back in episode 152, I did a whole episode on the topic of ‘finding embeddable content to use on your site.’ You can use SlideShares, other people’s slide presentations. You can embed those onto your site. You’d be amazed on SlideShare the topics that are covered.

You can do almost any social media update that you can find, yours or other people’s. You can embed someone’s tweets, their Facebook post, their Facebook videos, the live videos that they’ve done. Pinterest bookmarks, Instagram, you can take all of that content and use it on your blog within the terms and conditions of those social networks.

You can embed audio files. I think, the site Anchor still allows you to do that. You can go to sites like Andertoons and embed cartoons. Videos of other people’s livestreams from Facebook or Periscope. Photos from sites like 500px and Flickr–animated GIFs, infographics–there are sites around that allow you to embed content onto your blog.

There’s an amazing amount of great content on the web that people want you to share on your blog. You don’t get into trouble with copyright around this because they actually have enabled embedding of their content onto your site.

This maybe one thing you can do on your blog, you might want to do it every now and again. You may actually want to link this up with the link post that you do so you might want to share a couple of links each week, maybe YouTube video that you found, maybe a few tweets or other social media updates and that could become a curated piece of content that you feature on your blog.

Again, you’ll find that these sparks ideas for your own writing and content creation as well. It could also be a good follow-up piece of content if you’ve written an article early in the week, you might then find someone else’s perspective on YouTube on that particular topic as well.

Number eight type of killer filler content is interviews. This one does take a little bit more work than some of the other ideas that I’ve listed, but interviewing someone in your niche can be a great way of creating content without a ton of work. The hardest part is finding someone with expertise in your area who’s got the time to be interviewed and then constructing some questions that are going to be interesting enough to put to them and also your readers.

Again, this can be done in a variety of ways. You might choose to do an audio recording of an interview. You might want to do a Skype call where you record that audio or even the video as well, or you might want to send the questions via email as well and then take the written answers and put them into a blog post as well.

Again, it takes some work to do this. It takes a little while to get used to it, but it’s the type of content that your readers love. On this podcast, some of the most popular episodes I’ve ever done have been interviews. Again, they mean that I don’t have to come up with the ideas for the show. I just have to come up with the questions to ask, which is a skill in and of itself, but it uses a different part of my brain. I find it refreshing to switch into an interview every now and again.

The last type of killer filler content that I want to add into today’s show is I guess a flip side of an interview. It is you asking yourself a question or letting your readers ask you a question, then creating some content around that. Actually, answering a question that a reader might have or that someone who’s a beginner in your topic might have.

I’m aware that some of you may not have enough readers to be getting questions in yet, but you certainly would be able to answer some questions that your potential reader might have coming up with those questions for yourself.

Pat Flynn has built a whole podcast around this with his AskPat Podcast. If you’re not familiar with it, he—until recently, I think it was late last year, he posted five podcasts a week answering a reader question. His podcast were very short. They were four or five minutes, some of them, as much as maybe 10 minutes at the most. He kept his answers short and sweet. The expectation with his listeners was that they weren’t long episodes, and then he would take a question and answer it off the top of his head on the fly.

You could do that as a podcast. You could also do that as a live video, taking questions and answers. You could do it as a recorded video or you could it as a blog post as well. In fact, I did this a few years ago on ProBlogger. I think I was going away for a week and I was like, “Oh, what am I going to publish while I’m away?” What I did was wrote a post saying, “Hey, if you’ve got any question for me, I want to answer them.”

I took those questions and I limited myself to 10 minutes to answer the question. I wrote that in the introduction of the post, these are quickfire questions and answers, and I’m going to limit myself. These are short posts. My readers again weren’t expecting lots of deep analysis in the answers. Just was just me answering the question, limiting myself to 10 minutes. That went across really well.

Our readers really enjoyed them because they were short posts. They didn’t have to spend 15 minutes reading the content. I have to link to further reading in them as well, which drove people deeper into the site. Again, it’s a relatively easy thing to do. It does take some effort, but it’s less effort than writing a really long article every week.

Now, I’m aware that with these nine types of killer filler content, that I’m scratching the surface. Other ideas have are already being coming as I’ve been talking to you today. The key is to experiment, to test what types of posts get positive reactions from your readers, what types of posts are actually easy for you. You might actually find some of these quite difficult because your brain is wired a different way to mine.

The other thing I’ll say is that these types of posts, sometimes the first time you do it, they take a little bit of effort, but over time they become easier to do, and you might find it become very quick for you to do.

The other thing I wanted to add in is that it’s really the combination of these types of posts in combination with your longer, more thoughtful content that you do as well that really matters. I encourage you to think about the flow of your content. I’ve mentioned a few times here that you can use this type of content in conjunction with your other content on your blog.

Let me give you an example of what a week of content using this kind of flow might look like. On a Monday you might publish your main piece of content for the week. This might be a longer, more thoughtful article that you’ve written on a topic, it might be a how-to piece of content, something that might be three or four thousand words. It’s the main piece of content for the week. That’s Monday.

Tuesday, you might do an embeddable piece of content that is on the same topic. “Here’s a video of someone else exploring this same topic.” They’ve got some different perspectives. Maybe they’ve got the opposite perspective, maybe they got the same perspective, so you’ve got an embeddable piece of content. Tuesday is the embeddable.

Wednesday might be your reader discussion. This is where you open it up to your readers. “What do you think about this? Now, you’ve seen my opinion, you’ve have seen someone else’s. What do you think about this? Where do you stand with this topic?” You come up with a question that builds upon that in some way. That was Wednesday.

Thursday might be your challenge post. This is where you challenge your readers to get out there and to do something that you’ve taught them to do earlier in the week.

Friday might be an interview. Maybe it relates to the topic again of the week or maybe it’s something else completely.

Saturday might be a link roundup. Again, you could tie that into the theme of the week. All of these posts could be related or you could just mix it up and just do other links that you found.

Sunday might be a day off or you might choose to do a quick answer of a reader. Maybe it’s a question that’s come up during the week that you then do an answer of.

Now that’s seven pieces of content, with one longer, thoughtful piece of content and then all of the others are centered around that. It brings other perspectives into your site, it gets your readers engaged in your topic, it gets your readers taking action on the thing that you taught them that week.

Hopefully, somewhere in the midst of that is something that’s going to help you to create maybe a little bit more content while you give yourself space to write some of these longer form content as well.

I should really say that seven posts a week is possibly too much. I just gave you that example as how you could do it if you did want to do daily posting, but you may choose to do that same rhythm over a month or over a couple of weeks, still taking out content every three or four days along that kind of a structure.

I hope that somewhere in the midst of that is something of value to you. I’d love to hear if anything has sparked as a result of the ideas that I’ve shared today. Maybe there’s a new topic content you want to have a play around it.

Just because you do it once doesn’t mean you have to do it forever. Just throw it into the mix. See what happens for you and your energy, but also see what happens with your readers. You might just find something new that you could repeat into the future.

This week’s quote of the week comes from Dean Smith who said, “If you treat every situation as a life-and-death matter, you’ll die a lot of times.” I guess my thought on this quote today is we do give a lot of thought to these things and we stew over, should I publish daily? Or should I publish five times a week? Or should I publish this type of content? Or should I publish that type of content?

I do think it’s important to give consideration to this. It is important to your blog, but it’s not a life-or-death matter. Be a little bit playful with it, mix it up, try new things, and see what happens. The worst thing that can happen is the post might fall flat. It may not hit the mark and that can be just a hint that you don’t do that again and then you can move on to try something else. Hope that fits with you.

You can find today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/250 where I will include a little bit of further listening for you of some of the podcast episodes that I have mentioned today.

Thanks so much for listening, helping us to get to 250 episodes. It means a lot to me that you’ve been with us this long. If you have a moment I would love to get your reviews of this podcast on iTunes or wherever else you listen to this podcast. It means a lot to me to read those. I get an email every week letting me know when people have left a review.

Thanks so much to those of you who have, and if you’ve got a moment to leave a review and a rating, that helps me a lot. Thanks for listening. I’ll chat with you next week on the ProBlogger Podcast.

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

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Jun 04 2018

33mins

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257: 3 Writing Tips That Helped Kelly Grow Her Readership by 500%

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How One Blogger Grew Her Readership by 500% with Help from Three Practical Writing Tips

In this episode we continue our Blogging Breakthroughs series, this time with a story from my friend Kelly Exeter.

Kelly is a regular speaker at our events, has contributed ProBlogger content as a guest writer, and has been a guest on this podcast several times.

Today, the story Kelly shares is a great companion piece to the “How to Become a Prolific Content Creator” episode.

Her blogging breakthrough is about going from someone who is a good and proficient but bland writer with a plateauing audience to someone who writes with more personality and in a way that’s magnetic to readers. A lot of readers.

To get to that point, Kelly was willing to find someone to critique her writing. We all know it can be difficult to accept criticism, but it’s well worth doing.

Sometimes you write something that has good information and is well written, but doesn’t connect with people. It’s too vanilla. It isn’t read, commented on, or shared.

The problems Kelly experienced are probably things many bloggers can relate to.

Kelly describes three practical tips to improve your content:

  1. Messy drafts: Hand-write random ideas, previous stories, and tangents (some may not make it into a post). Form core idea with developed personality
  2. Don’t sit on the fence: You don’t need to be confrontational or controversial. But you do need to define your stance. Just be you
  3. Write the way you talk: Have faith in your voice, and let your personality shine. Use quirks, funny words and expressions you use when you talk in your content

By improving her writing, Kelly increased her reader traffic from 2,500 to 15,000 a month – a 500% increase. It also helped her make about $100,000 in off-blog income.

Links and Resources for PB 257: 3 Writing Tips That Helped Kelly Grow Her Readership by 500%:

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Darren: Hey there and welcome to episode 257 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse, I’m the blogger behind problogger.com. A site dedicated to help you to create a great blog and to build profit around your blog. You can find at problogger.com where you’ll also our eBooks and more importantly probably our courses, our starter blog course for those of you who haven’t yet started, but also our 31-Days To Build A Better Blog course which is ideal for those of you who are early in the blogging or even intermediate, and advanced bloggers that need a bit of a kick start for your blog. Just look for the courses tab at problogger.com.

Today, we’re going to continue our blogger breakthrough series of podcast with a story from my friend, Kelly Exeter. Kelly is going to be familiar to many of you because she has regularly spoken at our events here in Australia. She has contributed guest content on the ProBlogger, the blog but also has been on this podcast a number of times.

I interviewed her back in episode 193 on how to be a prolific content creator. That was a hugely popular episode, one of the more popular interviews that I’ve done. You can find a link to that in today’s show notes. Today she’s going to share a story that I think it’s a great companion piece to that interview that I did. I do encourage you to listen to both if you haven’t listened to the previous one or if you want to relisten to it, too.

Today, Kelly is going to share a story about how she went from being a good proficient, but a bit bland writer whose audience had plateaued, to someone who was writing with more personality and was writing in a way that was more magnetic to readers. Ultimately, it attracted a lot more readers. she’s going to tell you exactly how many readers she had, and how many she went to just by implementing these three practical tips that I love.

I really love the way she’s expressed each of these, and I want to tease them at a little bit more at the end of her seven-minute story. Do stay tuned to the end, you’ll find out how much traffic she went from at the end, but also I will come back and wrap this show up with a few thoughts of my own.

You can find today’s show notes where you will find a link to Kelly’s site, kellyexeter.com.au. You’ll also find a link to that previous interview I did, and a full transcript of today’s show, you’ll find it at problogger.com/podcast/257, now here’s Kelly.

Kelly: Hi, my name is Kelly Exeter, you can find me online at kellyexeter.com.au and I have been blogging for eight years. Before I share my blogging breakthrough, I need to emphasize that the point of my blog is always being able to showcase my abilities as a writer.

I’ve always known that one day, I wanted to be writing books, and making income from people buying those books. I needed people to fall in love with my writing. About three years into my blogging journey, I was pretty happy with where I was at. Some people seemed to like my writing, but I’d hit a bit of a plateau in that my readership wasn’t really growing anymore.

This led me to seek out a writing mentor, someone I knew who wouldn’t sugarcoat anything and tell me straight, and well she told me straight and so she said, “Kelly, your writing is technically very sound, you communicate your points well, there are no wasted words. It’s good writing, but it’s not great writing. It’s very vanilla.” So, it definitely hurt to hear that, and what did she even mean by “very vanilla.”

She meant that while my post contained useful information, they were quite bland and hard to distinguish from any other reasonably well written post on the topic.

I was also writing in a very safe fashion because I was so scared of offending someone. My writing it was littered with caveats like maybe, and might. Finally, I wasn’t letting my natural voice come through. This is because there were writers I really admired whose tones and approaches I was trying to emulate. I was trying very hard to sound like them and not allowing my posts to sound like me.

So, what did I do to make my writing less vanilla? The first thing I did was I started handwriting first drafts and those first drafts were idea dumps more than anything. So, previously I’d have an idea, and then I’d outline and post that idea, and then I’d write the post to that outline, and what emerged was something like a school essay. It’s very proper, it was good information, but there was no personality, and sometimes, the idea wasn’t actually that good, but because I’ve outlined the post, I would persist with it, and write it, and publish it anyway.

What handwriting those first drafts did was it removed my ability to edit as I went. Instead of stopping, and starting, and finessing each sentence, and getting blocked when I couldn’t get a sentence right, I just wrote, just writing. Quite often I find myself drifting away from the original idea I had to a new much better idea or at the very least, a new much better way of saying the thing I was trying to say. Bottom line, approaching my first draft writing this way meant the core idea behind each post was stronger.

The second thing I did was I stopped worrying about offending people, which is hard to do because I don’t like offending people. I once heard someone say that, “You know you stand for something when you become simultaneously magnetic and repellant.” Because I wasn’t willing to be repellant, because I would keep sitting on the fence not wanting to offend anyone, it wasn’t clear what I stood for.

Before writing a post, I started making sure the idea I was posting was something I could stand behind very strongly and then I made it clear what my stance was. I didn’t vacillate, I didn’t say maybe, and might, and sort of every second sentence.

Then finally, I let myself write the way that I talk, which is much harder than it sounds because I feel my natural tone is overly earnest, and I kind of wince a bit when I hear myself speak, and this is kind of why I was forever trying to emulate near the reflectiveness, and cleverness, and snappiness of my writing idols, but in trying to write like other people, the result always came across quite forced and inauthentic and a bit bland.

Again, it’s entirely possible for your writing to be technically sound and convey great information, but also be very bland, and when this happens, it’s much harder for the reader to connect with you, and if the reader doesn’t connect with you, it’s going to be very hard to achieve any kind of blogging success.

There’s so much competition for your readers these days. They don’t tend to stick around and read bland stuff. Even if they read it, they certainly don’t share it. So the upshot of all of this was, I started writing in my own voice rather than trying to write like other people. If you too feel your writing is a little vanilla, and you’d like to be able to differentiate yourself better, here is a quick summary of those three things I just mentioned about the three things that helped make my writing better.

One, allow yourself to write messy first drafts instead of perfect first drafts because messy first drafts throw out much better ideas. For example, anyone can write a blog post around how to be more productive at work. When you go beyond that first idea and write a messy first draft as I did, you might find yourself writing, how I get all my work done in five hours a day. So it’s much stronger idea, and that idea led to a post of mine that has been shared thousands of times.

Number two, don’t sit on the fence. When you have found your way to a better idea, stand strongly behind that idea because doing this will draw the right people to you, and repel the people you’re not trying to attract. Remember, we don’t want to speak to everyone, you only want to speak to your people.

Number three, write the way that you talk. Have faith in your own voice. Remember, your voice is something no one else has. It’s the easiest way to distinguish yourself from others, and again, some people will love your voice, and some people will hate it, and that’s okay because it’s better to have 50% of people love your work and 50% of people hate it than have 100% of people being quite indifferent to not care in one way or the other.

Now, let’s talk about results. What is the end result of me doing these three things that I’ve just outlined above. Well, within three months of implementing those things into my writing, my monthly readership jumped from 2500 readers a month to 15,000 readers is a month. It got the ball rolling towards a scenario where I was able to generate more than $100,000 on of blog income. It was definitely worth it for me, and I’m sure it’ll be worth it for you, too.

Darren: Thanks so much to Kelly Exeter who has shared those tips, you can find her at kellyexeter.com.au. There’s a lot that I love about these particular episode and I knew that she would have a lot of good things to say and that’s why I invited her to help us kick off this series. The first thing I love and she didn’t really mention it as a tip at the end, but I think it’s a great tip, is to find someone to critique your writing.

Kelly stepped out of her comfort zone into that uncomfortable space of asking someone to tell it like it is about her writing. This is not easy stuff to hear when someone tells you, “You’re a good writer, but you’re a bland writer.” That must have been hard to hear, but if she hadn’t have stepped into that space, she wouldn’t be where she is today. I think it’s well worth doing, finding that type of person who can give you that type of advice.

I think the problem that Kelly has is something that many of us probably can relate to. I think most blogs go through this, whether they articulate it in exactly the same way. I see a lot of people with plateaued traffic that’s certainly something, it’s not always to do with your writing voice, but I also see a lot of writers and I include myself in this, you go through periods where you become a good writer, but your writing is bland, and it is vanilla.

This is something I think a lot of us need to keep coming back to, and it’s easy to slip into this type of writing. Your blog always becomes a bit of a machine, you keep churning out content, and it can get to a point where it does become a little bit bland. It might have useful information, it might be technically well written, but I don’t know if you’ve ever had that experience, you put something out and it just doesn’t do anything, it doesn’t connect with people, as a result it doesn’t really get read, it doesn’t get commented on, it doesn’t get shared.

This is one of those things that I encourage you to really go back to look at in your writing, if you have got to that plateau in your content, maybe this is one of the reasons that’s behind it. Kelly’s three tips are fantastic. First one, writing messy drafts. I’ve seen that in practice over the last few months of working with Kelly.

I’ve been working with Kelly on a book and she helped me with the medium articles that I spoke about in episode 255. That article started really messy. In fact, we probably went through a few first drafts which were kind of random collections of ideas, previous stories that I told, and no real core idea. In playfully drafting that article, and exploring all kinds of tangents as it developed, many of which didn’t actually make it into the article itself, the core idea began to form.

I don’t think it would have gotten to the point that it is, if we hadn’t have had sort of that messy start to it. I’ve never done what she said there, to handwrite the first drafts. I can see how that would really help. I personally fall into the trap of editing as I write. I try not to do that because I do know that it stifles my ideas in the flow, but it’s something like I naturally do because it’s so easy to do when you’re writing on your computer, you can just delete things, rewrite things, and it does stop the flow. It’s something I’m probably going to give a go to do that handwriting type of thing. I can see how that would work quite well.

The second tip there was not to sit on the fence, and this is again something I can relate to. My temptation is to not to want to offend anyone. I don’t like to have people react negatively to a content. I think it’s a natural reaction, but as a result of that, I try to please everyone, and my writing at times can feel like it has lots of disclaimers, explanations, caveats, excuses through the content, and again, that’s not easy to read.

I don’t think people want all of that, they want to get to the point. Getting past that and realizing that your content doesn’t have to please everyone is a great lesson. It does create stronger writing, it creates that reaction in your readers. That sometimes does magnetize people, and sometimes repels them but as Kelly says, it doesn’t leave them feeling indifferent, and that’s what you don’t want.

You don’t want indifferent readers. It sometimes means that you need to push into I guess, areas that you feel a little bit more uncomfortable, but I don’t think it means you need to be confrontational, you can still write in a nice voice, you don’t have to be controversial just to the point of it and just be you which leads to that last tip that Kelly shared of writing the way you talk. This is the big lesson for me in the early days of my blogging. I tried for many years, not for many years but for many months at least to write in the style of other people that I saw and admired.

I realized my voice was much more conversational as well. It’s something I’ve noticed many times with successful bloggers that I’ve met in person. Often there are little quirks and funny words and expressions that you see in their content, it’s just an extension of what they say in a conversation, and as I think about this, Vanessa, my wife, her blog, Style and Shenanigans, she uses a language that she talks in, and it’s kind of quirky at times, but I think it actually stands out. I’m sure it does annoys some people, but I’m sure, it also really connects with other people and that’s why she’s got a very engaged audience, it shines through her personality.

I love the advice on that Kelly has given today. I’ve seen the results of these advice in her writing, it really has changed over the years. I’ve never heard the traffic change there from 2500 visitors a month which is great to 15,000 a month, that’s a 500% increase in traffic in just a few months. You can see there the impact that this has upon your readers. I know the times that I’ve gone with this advice almost intuitively, I’ve seen that same thing happened as well.

Thanks so much to Kelly. You can find more from Kelly at kellyexeter.com.au. There’ll be a link in today’s show notes to that as well.

I’ll also include a link in today’s show notes to the interview I did with Kelly back in episode 193 where she gave some really good advice on becoming a more prolific content creator. That was episode 193, you’ll find it in iTunes and in the show notes. The show notes are at problogger.com/podcast/257 there’s also full transcript of today’s show there.

Thanks so much for listening. Next week, we’re going to get back into the blogging breakthrough series. You’re going to hear from some of the listeners of this podcast. The first two episodes have been friends of mine who I invited to kick off the series, but we’re going to get into some listeners in the coming weeks, looking forward to sharing some of those stories with you.

Lastly, if you want to head to one of our events, Kelly is a speaker at many of our events. We’ve got an event coming up in Orlando, Florida, late September. If you go to problogger.com/success you’ll see the Success Incubator event that we’ve got running up.

There will be some presentations at that event, but there will also be a lot of masterminding. So if you want to check that out as well. The event is actually happening just before FinCom which is a conference for financial bloggers, and if you’re one of those bloggers as well, I will be speaking at that event as well. Those two events held at the same venue, running into the other, our event is first, so that might be a good one to check out as well if you’re in that space.

Thanks for listening today, chat with you next week on the ProBlogger Podcast.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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Aug 20 2018

18mins

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PB068: How to Increase Your Email List Subscribers By 100% Or More Today

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Note: you can listen to this episode above or load it up in iTunes.

How I Increased the Subscriber Rate on My Blogs by 80-1000%

Today’s episode is the second of the new ‘Today, Not Someday’ podcast series. The focus is actioning your ‘someday’ list, the things you’ve always wanted to do to improve your blog but have struggled to make happen. For details about how the series works, check out episode one here. Part 2 was about why you should sell a product on your blog (and how to dot it).

The focus of today’s episode is about why and how you should have a good system to allow people to subscribe to your email list. I have spent lots of time over the years experimenting with different ways to let readers subscribe across my blogs. I share the technique I use that increased my email list subscribers by over 100% so you can use it on your blog.

In This Episode

You can listen to today’s episode above or in iTunes or Stitcher (where we’d also LOVE to get your reviews on those platforms if you have a moment). In today’s episode:

  • Why I started using email as a way to communicate with my readers
  • Why email is a valuable communication tool for your blog
  • The 3 keys to increasing the subscriber numbers on your email list
  • An invitation to complete a challenge to improve your blog
  • 5 things you should test in your email list sign ups
  • The tool that has increased my email list sign ups by more than 100%

Further Reading and Resources for How to Increase Your Email List Subscribers By 100% Today

The email list providers that I use:

SumoMe, the email list tool I use for pop up and Welcome Mat subscription forms (and a SPECIAL OFFER)

The great thing about SumoMe is that:

  • It allows you to test different types of popups, hello bars etc. in combination
  • You can target people coming from different sources of traffic with different tools, different CTAs, different frequency of seeing the tools etc.

I’ve seen between 80%-1000% increases in subscribers on every site I’ve tested it on.

Check out the increases in subscribers I’ve seen to a couple of my sites. First Digital Photography School.

Next – here’s the increase in subscribers here on the ProBlogger Podcast show notes page.

My wife even saw a 1000% increase in her subscribers on her blog!

The feature I specifically mention working very well for me on my blogs (and being responsible for these increases in subscribers) is the ‘Welcome Mat’. SumoMe has a special offer for ProBlogger readers, a free month of ‘Welcome Mat Pro’, which is pretty amazing! Access the special offer here

Other episodes in the Today, Not Someday Series:

Update: check out Part 3 which continues the theme of growing your subscriber numbers by creating an opt-in for your blog.

Meet my new friend, Edgar (and a SPECIAL OFFER)

I’d like to welcome a new sponsor to the ProBlogger podcast for the duration of this 10 part series, my friend ‘Edgar‘.

Edgar is a tool I’ve been using since January of this year that does exactly what this series is about. It enables you to make the work you do on social media keep paying off for the long term. You put a little work into Edgar today by adding social media updates highlighting the great content in your blog’s archives and Edgar goes to work to share them to your followers not just once but by queuing your updates to keep delivering to into the future.

The team at Edgar have put together a special deal for ProBlogger readers which gives you a free one month trial. Sign up for it at meetedgar.com/problogger.

As promised in today’s podcast – here’s a video of how I use it:

If watching videos isn’t your thing – here’s a blog post I wrote on how I use Edgar.

How did you go with today’s episode?

Do you already have an email list? Will you start one today? If you already have an email list, what strategies are working best to convert people into signing up? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

The hashtag I’ll be using to talk about this journey on social media is #TodayNotSomeday and I encourage you to share your journey too, using the same hashtag.

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Dec 04 2015

30mins

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269: How Rowan Grew His Pinterest Following to More Than 300,000 in Two Months

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How a Blogger Uses Pinterest to Boost His Following

Welcome to the final episode of our Blogger Breakthroughs series. Today we share a story from Rowan Sims, Digital Photography School writer and ProBlogger podcast listener.

Rowan’s also a landscape and travel photographer who uses his blog to teach readers how to improve their photography, as well as share his photo adventures and location guides.

The biggest challenges he faced with blogging were being inconsistent and not attracting the right audience.

So he switched his blog’s focus from just sharing photography to teaching it as well.

He’s also written some guest posts. Don’t underestimate the power of guest blogging. It’s about more than just link building.

Another breakthrough for Rowan was discovering the power of Pinterest. It’s become Rowan’s largest source of referral traffic.

Rowan has used various tools and social media sites to promote his photography, but Pinterest needed a different approach and was a steep learning curve.

No matter what your niche is, Rowan has suggestions on how to optimize Pinterest for best results:

  • Set up a Pinterest business account and review your Pinterest insights/analytics to know what’s working and help identify your target audience
  • Create attractive pins
  • Use Tailwind to drip feed pins and create tribes

Pinterest is one option, but experiment with different platforms to figure out what works best for you.

Rowan’s blogging breakthroughs have not only helped increase his traffic, but has brought him the right traffic. People are genuinely interested in what he has to say and share.

Links and Resources for How Rowan Grew His Pinterest Following to More Than 300,000 in Two Months:

Further Listening

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Join our Facebook group


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Darren: Hey there and welcome to episode 269 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse. I’m the founder of ProBlogger which started out as a blog with lots of blog tips and has become a blog, a podcast, ebooks, courses, and a job board as well to help bloggers to find jobs. There’s a lot on ProBlogger. You can check it all out at problogger.com where we really are about trying to help bloggers to monetize their blogs.

Today is the final episode in our blogger breakthrough series. We may do this again in the future because I’ve had a lot of really great feedback on the stories that we’ve been featuring. I’m going to get back to a noble flow of things next week. But today, I want to share with you a story from Rowan Sims. Rowan actually is a writer over on Digital Photography School. I didn’t realize he was also a listener of this podcast. You hear at the end, he worked his way back through all of the archives of the podcast—all 269 episodes. He may be up there as one of the most avid listeners of the podcast.

He submitted his story of how he grew his blog. He took his blog from fairly inconsistent blogging, he switched his focus, and he shares two strategies that he used to help grow his traffic particularly Pinterest. He gives some good tips on driving traffic with Pinterest as well. He actually submitted a short 4 ½-minute story and then I asked him to submit a few more tips so you will a bit of a change in the audio—that’s kind of part two coming in halfway along where he gets to be a bit more practical about Pinterest.

Before I introduce you or put Rowan onto you, I do want to mention a little personal project that I’ve been playing around with, and that is a new podcast. This is not just a podcast with me, it’s actually a podcast with Vanessa, my wife, and my three boys. We’ve been talking for a while now about having a family podcast and also, we’re not completely sure how it’s going to roll out completely. We don’t even know what the name will be down the track. We’re calling it the Rowse Report at the moment. It is, at this moment, a one pilot show. It’s about what we’re reading, what we’re watching, what we’re listening to, what we’re playing.

We each have a little segment where we talk about the books, the podcast, what we’re watching on Netflix, what movies we enjoy, what games we might be playing. I’ve got plans for a few episodes. We’re just putting it out there at the moment. If you’d like to have a listen to that, there’s not actually a website for it yet, but you will be able to find the latest episode linked to either on my Facebook page—facebook.com/problogger or I will link to it in today’s show. We are hosting it on the Anchor platform and it should go up in iTunes as well in the next week or two. You might want to do a search there for Rowse Report.

Anyway, you can find it all on today’s show notes. The show notes also will have transcription of today’s story as well as some links that Rowan mentions in the show. He mentions a couple of tools that you might want to check out and then an article that he has written as well. I’m going to hand over to Rowan and I’m going to come back at the end just to wrap things up and give a few thoughts of my own and suggest a couple of things that you might want to do as a result of what you hear. Here’s Rowan.

Rowan: Hi guys. My name is Rowan and I’m a blogger and photographer from New Zealand. My blog name is Rowan Sims Photography and you can find me at rowansims.com. I started my blog back in 2010 so it’s been about eight years. I’m a landscape and travel photographer, so I use my blog to teach my readers how to improve their photography. I also use it to share my photo adventures and location guides.

My audience is mainly beginner to intermediate photographers. As I said, I’ve been blogging for about eight years, but really inconsistently. I’ve seen some small success with a few posts getting some serious traffic. In the past, I use my blog mainly to share my travel and landscape photography with a little monetization from some affiliate products.

My biggest challenge is with being consistent and tracking the right audience. There have been periods of every year when I didn’t blog at all. The little audience I did have completely forgot about me. I also found that the search traffic that was coming to my blog was basically just leaving. Visitors weren’t interested in subscribing or following me on social media once they have found what they were looking for. I’ve built up a small email list and social media following but not enough to drive traffic to my blog.

I’ve had a couple of big breakthroughs this year. At the end of 2007, my girlfriend and I decided to spend some time in Australia after living in Canada for a couple of years. She’s also a travel blogger and have had some similar struggles to me, so we decided to make the most of the fresh start and really focus on our blogs in 2018. I also decided to shift the focus of my blog from just sharing my photography to teaching others as well.

One of the things I decided to work on was guest posting. I’ve written a couple of guest post in the past, but never really pushed it. To start with, I approached Digital Photography School which I’m sure you’ve heard Darren talk about on this podcast. They were happy to have me write for them, so I submitted an article. That first post was really well received which was a huge encouragement for me.

The second breakthrough I’ve had this year was discovering the power of Pinterest for driving traffic. I’ve used Pinterest inconsistently for a few years and it’s a personal use. I’ve never really seen it as a tool for promoting my photography or my blog. I thought it was really just for moms sharing recipes. I decided to take another look at it this year, so I switched to a business account and I’ve a whole another profile. I really had no idea how powerful Pinterest could be for bloggers. Pinterest has become my largest source of referral traffic in just a few months.

Learning how to use Pinterest for business was a pretty steep learning curve. It’s such a unique platform. I’ve used many tools and social media sites to promote my photography over the years, but Pinterest required a very different approach. Fortunately, as a blogger, I’ve had a ton of visual content which Pinterest is all about. This meant that I was able to hit the ground running with a decent amount of content that I could optimize for Pinterest and experiment with.

There are a few things that I did which I think set me up well on a path to seeing results from Pinterest. Every blogger is going to use it differently, but I think these things are going to be useful no matter what your niche.

The first thing I’d recommend is setting up a business account, as I mentioned. This may sound obvious, but I didn’t realize the value of it until I did it myself. There aren’t a ton of differences between a regular account and a business account but the biggest one for me has been Pinterest Insights. If you’re anything like me, you probably spend a lot of time looking at your analytics. I probably spend way too much time in there, but it pays off if you know what to look for.  Pinterest Insights are incredibly powerful, and they can help you in a couple of ways. Firstly, you’ll see what’s working and also, you’ll see where your target audience is. It’s pretty different than Google Analytics, so don’t expect to be able to understand it straight away. But give it sometime and I’m pretty sure you’ll see the value in it for sure.

The second thing that really helped me was to create really attractive pins. Again, this sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed how many pins I see everyday that have had virtually no thought going to them at all. It’s a visual platform so learning to create beautiful pins is an absolute must. I’m not a designer by any means so my pins are pretty basic. I’ve created templates in photoshop to make it easy to create new pins for each post. I switch up the photos and text and it’s done in just a few minutes. If that sounds way over your head, there are free tools like Canva that make it super simple. This was a process of experimentation and it still is. Some of my templates get a lot of engagement and the ones that get little just gets scrapped. I regularly try new fonts and overlays to see what works best. I’m a prolific experimenter and that’s served me really well, so I encourage you to do the same.

The third thing that’s really made a big difference in growing my Pinterest account is actually another tool called Tailwind. You may have heard of it. It’s a tool that makes scheduling and repining really simple. One of the unique things about Pinterest is that you need to be very active to see results. But bombarding your followers with a ton of pins each time you visit doesn’t work. Tailwind allows you to drip feed your pins over the day so they’re more likely to be seen by your followers. It also has a fantastic feature called Tribes which encourages members to re-pin other member’s content. It’s really effective and it’s been super helpful for me especially considering I have a relatively small following.

I actually wrote a whole post about how I grew my account from about 1000 views a month to over 300,000 in only about two months. It’s written for photographers, but the principles are valid no matter what niche you’re in.

The biggest advantage of these two breakthroughs is that I’m not only getting a lot more traffic, it’s the right kind of traffic. People who are visiting my blog because they’re genuinely interested in what I have to say, they’re sticking around longer, and are subscribing.

In the last six months, I’ve more than doubled the email list that I’ve built over the last four years. I’ve also been given a few opportunities as a result of writing for other photography blogs. I’m getting in front of a much larger audience and building a larger profile as a result. Getting to where my target audience and guest posting there has been one of the best things I could have ever done for my blog.

What I want to say to listeners is don’t underestimate the power of guest posting. It’s about so much more than just link building. If you can write for blogs that have a bigger audience than your own, some of their audience will inevitably become some of your audience. The second thing I would say is keep experimenting with various tools and platforms. It might be something you’ve tried in the past and decided isn’t for you. Test out new stuff but be careful about dismissing the old stuff. You never really know what might work for you.

That’s it. Before I go, I just wanted to say a huge thanks to Darren. I spent the last few months listening to the entire back catalog of the ProBlogger podcast. It’s been insanely helpful. Every time I listen, I get inspired. I’ve learned so much. I’m sure I probably would’ve given up by now if it wasn’t for you sharing your knowledge and passion. Both of your blogs, ProBlogger and Digital Photography School had been hugely helpful for me, so thank you very much.

Darren: Thanks so much to Rowan for sharing his story today. You can find his site at rowansims.com. I have a link to the article that he mentioned on his advice on Pinterest in the show notes today as well. You can find that show notes at problogger.com/podcast/269.

I love this story for a couple of reasons. One, Rowan has found for himself the reality that guest posting isn’t dead. Guest posting was huge five or so years ago now. Most people were using it to build their search engine traffic, getting links from other sites, but Google cracked down on this and so those links aren’t as valuable as they used to be than what really valuable at all. As a result, a lot of people gave up on guest posting.

I’ve long argued that there was more to guest posting than just the links. Certainly, the links were helpful but getting in front of other people’s audiences is something that is well worth doing, particularly, if it’s the right type of traffic, the right type of audience. Rowan talked there about how he targeted where his audience was, and he focused on those places to build profile. He did that through Digital Photography School which is the perfect audience for him if he wants to teach people how to do photography. We’ve heard time and time again from our writers that it’s a benefit for them to do that purely for the traffic that they get and that the profile, the expertise that they’re able to build on their particular topic.

Guest posting isn’t dead, I’m going to link in the show notes today to a previous episode on guest posting if you want to check that one out. It’s one the early episode that I did right towards the beginning of this podcast, back in episode 37. If you want to dig back and have a listen to that, it’s on iTunes. Some of those early episodes, I should say, on iTunes have probably disappeared at some point because I think there’s a limit of 300 episodes that I can show you at a time, and we are approaching that point. We’re at 269, so in another 31 episodes, the first episodes will disappear. You might want to go back and listen to those early episodes if you haven’t already. That’s just a little side.

The other thing that I love that Rowan found for himself is that Pinterest is a great way of driving traffic. Every time I meet bloggers, I meet people who are using Pinterest in really interesting ways as well. They always tell that they’re surprised about how their topic works on Pinterest. Photography is a topic that works on Pinterest. I’ve seen topics like motorbikes, gardening, fashion. I’ve seen technology boards do really well. There really isn’t a limit since some of those stereotypical niches that you might think do well on Pinterest certainly do work, but it’s a lot broader than you might think. Great tips there from Rowan.

I do plan on doing an episode in the coming months hopefully before the end of the year on Pinterest as well because I’ve met some good people on that particular topic. Do get into that article that Rowan mentioned. I will link to it in the show notes today. Also, check out those tools that he mentioned. I’ll link to those in the show notes too. There’s Canva which you’ll find at canva.com and tailwindapp.com. That’s the tool that enables you to schedule into Pinterest your pins. Check out Pinterest. I think Pinterest is a great one because Pinterest really does rely upon content.

A lot of bloggers have found the hard way that Facebook has changed their algorithms a lot and that’s because they don’t really need content on Facebook. Facebook’s much more than people sharing links, it’s about people having conversations, and people watching video, and people engaging in communities, so it’s not really in Facebook’s best interest to allow us to share links that lead people off Facebook.

The whole point of Pinterest is that people go there to find content. They actually reward people who create great content. I do think it is a platform that is well worth checking out if you haven’t already. As Rowan says, it’s well worth revisiting. We actually are in the process of probably having a full look at Pinterest for Digital Photography School in particular. We’ve never quite cracked it but based on some of the advice that I received over the last few months, we’re going to give it another go. That’s high on our agenda for 2019. I’m interested to see if we can replicate some of the results that Rowan got being in a similar niche to him.

Anyway, I’m going to leave it at that. Again, you can find today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/269. You’ll find the link there to out family podcast as well, if you do want to have a listen to that. It’s called the Rowse Report. Anchor is slowly adding it all in the different podcasting app.

At the point I’m recording this, it’s not on iTunes yet, but is on Anchor and I think also on Pocket Casts. But hopefully, it will all be added in the coming days and weeks as well. Just search for Rowse Report or check out the show notes. I would love to know what you think about it and we would love any suggestions you’ve got for a name for that podcast as well. Have a listen and see what you think. I do think that the stars of the show will be my kids though, so you might want to have a listen to that. It’s kind of funny seeing your seven-year-old talk about a book that he’s reading. Anyway, I’m going to leave it at that. You can check that one out. I’ll chat with you next week where we’re coming back to our normal schedule called Podcasting at ProBlogger. Thanks for listening. Chat with you next week.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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Nov 12 2018

18mins

Play

150: How I Make Money Blogging – My Profit Streams Revealed

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Profit Streams Revealed: How I Make Money Blogging

Today, I’m going to go through exactly how I make money blogging. I’m going to talk you through the income streams that I use to monetize my blogs and build an income for my family.

This is something that I have done on the blog, but today I’m going to give you the information on the podcast because some of you don’t read the blog.

Today’s podcast is based off of this article on ProBlogger, “My Blogging Income Breakdown for the First Half of 2016”.

This report is for my total business including ProBlogger and Digital Photography School. I will give you a little insight as to what site each income stream I mention is generated from.

I will also be talking about profit as opposed to revenue. I will also be talking in percentages because I don’t generally reveal my actual income.

In Today’s Episode How I Make Money Blogging – My Profit Streams Revealed

  • Affiliate Income – There aren’t a lot of direct expenses from affiliate income, so it is profitable.
    • On dPS we do two big promotions every year. We have our 12 days of Christmas sale and our mid year/summer sale. In each of these, we have daily deals on photography products.
    • On ProBlogger we have been focusing on affiliate income from some of the tools we use. Plus links to hosting and themes.
    • On dPS we regularly link to Amazon.
  • Products – These are eBooks, lightroom presets, courses, and printables. In 2009, I decided to invest time into creating my first products which were eBooks.
  • AdSense – dPA has a large amount of traffic, so it pays to use AdSense along with other income streams.
  • Sponsorships  
    • On dPS we offer sponsorships to advertisers who want to work directly with our audience.
    • On ProBlogger we have done a handful of sponsorship campaigns with companies like Meet Edgar and 99designs.
  • Job Board
    • On ProBlogger we have had the job board since 2006. At first, it was a trickle, but it has now grown to 6000 ads places. We plan on releasing an update to the job board in the coming weeks.
    • Take a look at the How to Make Money Blogging page on ProBlogger for a good overview.
  • Event
    • This year will be out 7th ProBlogger Event held here in Australia. The event generates a large amount of revenue, but the expenses are huge, so the profit is about 3% of my blogging income.
    • This year there is a virtual ticket available for those people who can’t make it to Australia. This should offer a revenue increase.
  • Other – I have a couple of other small income streams.
    • Speaking
    • Book Royalties
    • Other Royalties/Copyright payments such as when my content is used in schools in Australia.

A Word on Expenses

Even though our revenue has went up in the past 12 months so has our expenses. In the last 12 months we invested heavily into the development of our sites. Such as with the ProBlogger redesign. I’ve also expanded my team to include:

  • 2 editors (one for each site)
  • 2 business unit managers (one for each site)
  • Admin/customer service team members (one for each site)
  • Marketing (one person for dPS)

All team members except for one are part-time. We also have a huge array of contractors who help with product creation, proof reading, podcast editing, etc.

We also have to have dependable servers and a number of software subscriptions to keep everything running smoothly. You can find these on our resources page. To make money you have to spend it!

Further Resources on How I Make Money Blogging – My Profit Streams Revealed


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This is ProBlogger. Hi there, it’s Darren from ProBlogger. Welcome to Episode 150 of the ProBlogger podcast. Today, I want to go through exactly how I make money blogging. I want to talk you through the income streams that I use to monetize my blogs and to build an income for my family off the back of my blogs. This is something I have done from time to time over on the ProBlogger blog.

Today, I want to give to you on the podcast. I know some of you don’t read the blog and prefer to listen. That’s what we’re doing today.

Back in 2002 when I first started blogging, and then over the next couple years started to make money for my blogs, the first question I would almost always be asked when I say to someone I’m a blogger. The question was almost always, “What’s a blog?” It would usually come with sort of a glazed overlook. Sometimes I’d say, “What’s a blog ball?” There was just almost no comprehension back in 2002 what a blog was, at least here in Australia.

Almost everyone asked it. I would have this little spiel about what a blog was for anyone who genuinely seemed interested in finding out what it was, which wasn’t everyone, I have to say.

Over the last few years, when I say I’m a blogger and that’s how I make my money, most people now know what a blog is but the question I get asked more than any other is, “How do you make money from a blog?” Sometimes people know what a blog is and they may even have a vague idea of how you make money. The most common thing that people guess at is something like, “You make money like a newspaper from ads?” It’s rare that people know too much more than that unless they are a blogger, or have some online experience, or know someone that doing it full time.

Even today, I was in a café getting my long black in the morning which is my coffee of choice. The barista there asked me the question again, “How do you make money blogging?” His brother actually was a blogger who wanted to go full time. He thought his brother was on a road to nowhere. He was amazed when I mentioned that I was a blogger making a full time living from it. He was amazed that someone was actually doing it full time. He asked the question. As I was explaining to him how I make money from my blogs, I realized I haven’t really talked about it explicitly on the podcast. That’s what I want to do today.

What I’m going to share with you today is based upon a recent income report I did do over on the ProBlogger blog. I summarized my income streams of the first half of 2016. As I record this, it’s September. It’s a couple of months ago that I published that. I will link to it in today’s show notes. I thought it would be useful to go through because it does represent the last couple of months as well.

Before I get into the nitty gritty of it, let me say three things. Firstly, this is for my total business. It’s a combined profit for both ProBlogger and Digital Photography School that I’m talking about. I have two main blogs, my biggest one is Digital Photography School. It’s about eight times bigger than ProBlogger. The bulk of what I’m talking about today in terms of income is from Digital Photography School but I will be referring to ProBlogger from time to time as well. Think of it as the overall. For each income stream that I mention, I’m going to give you a little bit of insight into which of the sites I’m talking about. Hopefully you can get it straight in your head.

The second thing I’ll say is that I’m talking here about profit rather than revenue. These things are very different. I see a lot of people doing their income reports based on revenue but it doesn’t really take into account the expenses. I don’t know that that’s overly helpful. What you’re going to hear me go through today, I’m going to give you a percentage of what each income stream makes in terms of profit.

The reason I do this is there are elements in what I do that generate a lot of revenue but which also have significant expenses. The main one I’m thinking of here is the ProBlogger event which is happening in the next week. That bring in a lot of income. We have hundreds of bloggers paying $300 or $400 a pop, $400 or $500 a pop. That brings a lot of income. It mounts up very quickly but the reality is we have massive expenses as well.

When you hire a hotel for two days for 500 people, the mind boggles at the bills you get. There’s a lot of revenue there but it’s not as much profit. You’ll see how little the profit is in a few minutes.

The last thing I want to tell you is that I’m not going to tell you my actual income in this particular podcast. I don’t generally reveal specifics of how much. Rather, I’m going to talk in percentages here.

I do this for a couple of reasons. One, I always found a little uncomfortable talking publicly about exactly what I earn. It’s probably just the way I was brought up. Also, sometimes I think when people share the figure, people don’t actually see the lesson behind that. Sometimes for a small blogger just starting out, it can seem, I think almost detrimental when you’re comparing yourself to someone who’s earning a lot of money. It can perhaps not be helpful.

Really, the point of this podcast is to show you the diversity of income streams and how they are mixed together to build up a full time income for me. I will say in terms of how much, back in 2006 I revealed that my profit was over a $100,000 a year. It’s only gone up from there. That’s about all I’ll say on that particular front. I will say when I did the blog post, someone tried to calculate it based upon some of the publicly available information as well. You can probably dig in and find out a little bit more, if you did choose to do so.

Let’s get into breaking it down, if you’ve got it in front of you, you’ll be able to see that the number one income stream for me for the first half of 2016 in terms of profit was affiliate income, affiliate commissions. It makes up 46% of my overall profit for the first half of this year. When I calculated this out, I was actually a little bit surprise when this category came up as high as it did. I knew it would be number one or two but I’d been thinking in terms of just basic revenue.

Number two category is product sales. Usually, the revenue that products sales brings in is pretty similar to affiliate but there’s a lot more expenses with product sales and that’s why affiliates is number one because any earnings you make, you keep. There’s not really too many direct expenses with affiliates. That’s one of the reasons I really like it.

As you look at that 46%, I will say upfront, it comes from both Digital Photography School and ProBlogger. I do some affiliate promotions on both.

Generally, my affiliate income comes from three different sources. Let’s break them down for you. Over on Digital Photography School, we do two really big promotions every year. The biggest one is our 12 Days of Christmas Sale. We also do a mid-year sale, we call it our Summer Sale even though it’s winter here because most of our audience is in America. Our mid-year sale is the second biggest one.

In each case, we for a week in our mid-year, and for 12 days Christmas sale, we release a new deal everyday. The deals are half our own products. We might reduce an ebook by 60%. Say for 24 hours, you can get now your book at 60% off. Or, it’s an affiliate deal where we negotiate with someone else who’s got a product. It might be a course, in might be an ebook, it might be a membership site, it might be some software that’s relevant for photographers. Again, we say for 24 hours you can get this deal. That’s where that affiliate income is coming from.

These two promotions are our biggest earners of the year on Digital Photography School. They’ve done amazingly well over the last couple of years. Our ebook and courses, our products do pretty well but our affiliates, some of our affiliate deals do very well as well because they’re new to our audience.

Many of our audience have already seen our ebook and might have them already but some of these affiliate things are really new. I think last year, the year before, we had one that just went massively huge. It was a presets package. The year before that, it was a course that we promoted. I can earn a lot of money very quickly in 24 hours. That’s the main source of a lot of that affiliate income.

The second one is on ProBlogger, we do a little bit of affiliate marketing as well. We don’t do the deals like on Digital Photography School that has something we’ve talked about doing. We do have some partners like SumoMe who I’ve mentioned on this podcast. When I mention them on the show notes, there’s a link, an affiliate link to their product. LeadPages is another one. We also mention those on our resources page on ProBlogger as well. That resources page we linked to very prominently around the site so it gets quite a bit of traffic.

We also have affiliate promotions on ProBlogger with Bluehost, a serve option which we mentioned in How to Start a Blog Page as well. There’s lots of mentions of the partners that we use, and recommend, and their affiliate links around ProBlogger. We don’t tend to do big campaigns like we do on Digital Photography School.

There have been a few times where I’ve recommended training programs on ProBlogger as well. But in this six month period, there wasn’t any that were included in that. The other type that we occasionally will link to is WordPress themes on How To Start a Blog Post. As well, there’s links to StudioPress, I think there. That would be the second category that makes up this 46%.

The third one is Amazon. I linked to Amazon a lot on Digital Photography School. Anytime I mention a camera, a lens, a photographic accessory, a photography book, anything that is mentioned on Digital Photography School that can be bought on Amazon, we link to it with an affiliate link. Amazon makes up about 9% of that 46%, just to give you an idea. The other 81% is ebooks, courses, software and online services that we recommend.

Affiliate marketing is big. It does go up and down a little bit from month to month. Usually, it’s in our number one or two category for profit. It’s great. The other good thing about affiliate, I mentioned this a few times on the podcast is that, when you’re promoting ebooks, and courses, and software, and services with affiliate marketing, it gives a you a real insight into what your readers like, which might give you some insight into the type of products that you might like to create.

The number two category that I’m going to talk about in a second is product sales. Most of the products that I’ve created to sell on my blogs, I’ve tested whether they will go over well with my audience by promoting a similar product that someone else has made as an affiliate.

Affiliate marketing is great for that. It brings in an income, you don’t have too many expenses apart from actually writing some content to promote it. Number three, you can test a lot of ideas. You learn a lot about marketing as well. When you promote an affiliate product, you’re pushing people often to a sales page that someone else has created. By looking at those sales pages and seeing how they convert, it will help you a lot when you come to create your own sales pages as well.

The other thing I actually would say about affiliate marketing is when you’re promoting someone else’s ebook, then later you create an ebook, sometimes the people you’ve promoted will then promote yours. You kind of end up with this win-win partnerships as well. Some of the people that we’ve promoted in the past have then created products for us as well. It’s all kinds of opportunities that come from doing affiliate marketing.

Number two, income stream. I’ve already mentioned it a few times is product sales. You’ll see if you’re looking at the graphic that 69% of our product sales come from ebooks. For this period, 28% come from Lightroom Presets. Lightroom Presets are like a little plug in that you put into Adobe Lightroom to help you create different effects in your images. 2% came from courses, 1% from printable.

Up until 2009, pretty much most of my income came from either affiliate marketing or working with advertisers or ad network. Mainly sponsorship and affiliate marketing. But in 2009, I decided to invest a little bit of time into creating my first product. They’re both ebooks. The first ebook on Digital Photography School was a Portrait Photography ebook which was largely a compilation of posts that I’ve already published on the blog with a little bit of new information. On ProBlogger, the first ebook was 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. Both of those ebooks did really well with my audiences. I saw enough profit from both of those ebooks to know that it was something that I want to do more often.

Since 2009, we’ve released at least two or three ebooks every year since. I think we’ve done 35 or so ebooks now. Since 2009, ebooks have been one of our biggest income streams. Again, you’ll see that for the first half of this year, 69% of our product sales came from ebooks. 69% of the 31%, that is. Ebooks still are really great for us.

Since 2009, we’ve started to experiment with other types of products as well. You’ll see in the list there’s printables, these are things where you just might create a few sheets where people can print them out at home. We had some posing printables. Our audience on Digital Photography School very often liked posing suggestions when they’re photographing people. We created a posing guide that they can print out and take with them.

We also have had some courses. The reason that courses in this period were only 2% of that product breakdown is because we didn’t really promote them over the first half of this year. I will say courses have been quite profitable for us as well. To this point, we’ve only got three of them. We didn’t promote them in the first half of this year, but literally over the last month, finishing tomorrow actually, we’ve been launching a new course. If I was to do this breakdown for the second half of the year, I would suggest that courses would be a lot higher. Launching a course for us can be as profitable, if not more profitable, that launching an ebook. Usually they are higher price point.

The other thing that you’ll see in that list is Lightroom Presets. We have, in this case, in the first half of this year, we launched one, out first ever Lightroom Preset bundle. Since then, we’ve launched another one. Again, they’ve been very profitable for us.

Again, that’d be similar sort of revenue to a course or an ebook depending on the particular ebook I’m talking about there. Presets have been particularly popular for us. Courses have done well. Ebooks have done well.

ProBlogger also had some ebooks, although we haven’t really release one for a while. That’s on my agenda for the month after the ProBlogger event is to start to create some courses and ebooks for ProBlogger as well. We’re looking at building some products. Watch this space on that front. Hopefully, there’ll be some income profit in next income report that I do.

The third category, this one surprises a lot of people when I mention it. A lot of people don’t see that we do this one. We don’t do this one on ProBlogger so they don’t realize we do it. Our third income stream, third highest income stream is AdSense. Google’s AdSense program. Now I know some of you are literally dropping your iPhones right now. I can’t believe we’re doing it. It was the first income stream that I ever did back in 2004 or it’s maybe 2003 when I first started to experiment with it. It’s never gone away. It’s always work for us.

I know AdSense doesn’t work with everyone and every type of blog. I know a lot of bloggers have never had much luck with it. Because Digital Photography School has large traffic, we get four to five million visitors a month, a lot more page views, that helps with banner ads. AdSense seems to like our site as well. We have had in the years gone by, AdSense has done just extraordinarily well to the point where people from AdSense can’t believe how much it makes. We’ve been used as a case study in different settings.

I will say that our income from AdSense has decrease over the last couple of years. That has been for a couple of reasons. Firstly, we’ve been attracting a bit more direct sponsorship which I’ll talk about in a moment. Also, I’ve found just AdSense’s earnings have just been on a slow decline over the last few years. Our revenue per a thousand view RPM has just been declining a little bit. We’ve been working to try and pump it up a little bit more, we’ve had a little bit of success over the last month or so with getting a little bit higher but it’s something that has just slowly been sliding.

I do find most people who use AdSense or other ad networks, there are quite a few around, have been finding that this income stream is kind of dying away a little bit. We’re now seeing a lot of the ad networks developing really quickly a lot of different products because they can see that this revenue is slipping. It’ll be interesting to see what they come up with next.

AdSense makes up about 8% of our total income. That sounds small but it’s fairly significant. It’s certainly a nice direct deposit to get in my bank account every month. It doesn’t go up and down a lot. It just really depends on traffic. As I said, slowly declining as well.

That’s income stream number three. The other good thing about AdSense is you’re not splitting that revenue with anyone. AdSense already takes their cut so you don’t have too many direct expenses from it as well.

Number four income stream or profit stream for us is sponsorships. This is where we are working directly with a brand. This is something I started to do in the early days. I think it was back in 2004, 2005. I remember on my photography site back then, ringing up a camera store for the first time and saying, “Hey, would you like to reach people looking to buy cameras? Because I’ve got a photography blog.” Then I had to explain what a blog was. Eventually, I managed to convince a camera store to pay me $20 a month to advertise on my blog. It wasn’t much but it was recurring income because they signed up. Over time, as my traffic increased, I was able to increase that to $30 a month, $40 a month, $50 a month, $100 a month. I guess it’s kind of continued to grow since then.

On Digital Photography School particularly, we offer sponsorship options to advertisers. We usually put the ads in the place of AdSense. We won’t sell any advertising, any banner ads, unless we can earn more from them than we can from AdSense. We know how much an ad will earn us in an ad slot with AdSense so we try to at least double that from a direct sponsorship engagement with a campaign. We’ve had companies like Canon, I think we had Tamron, we’ve had other photography education sites and centers like the New York Institute of Photography. We’ve had a variety of advertisers on Digital Photography School in the first half of this year. It’s not a massive amount for us, but 6%, again, it’s better than nothing.

The other thing we do offer people who want to come on as a sponsors is not just banner ads. We offer them a placement in our newsletter. We have a newsletter that goes out to about 700,000 readers every month. We’re able to put that ad in front of that audience both as a banner ad in the newsletter but also a text ad in the newsletter. We also offer them the opportunity to do a competition on the site or even some social media advertising which we always disclose as well.

On ProBlogger, we’ve not really done any banner advertising or any AdSense for many years now. We have done a few sort of partnership sponsorships campaigns. You will have heard on this particular podcast that we’ve featured 99 designs in the past. Edgar, Meet Edgar, the social media tool, they’ve been advertisers on the podcast as well. We’ve done a few sponsorships at our event. Our event’s profit largely comes from the sponsors. I haven’t included that profit in this category, I’ve included it later on in this income report in the event category.

Sponsorship makes up about 6%. Not massive, but again all of these small income streams come together to add up. That’s one of the points that I want to get across to you today is the diversification of your income streams that actually can add up.

The next category, I think we’re up to number five now. The fifth category is our job board on ProBlogger. Many of you will know that on ProBlooger, we have a job board. I’ve started it in 2006. It was a place where people looking to hire bloggers could advertise. You can find it at jobs.problogger.net. I don’t really say that link too much but it is linked to from all of the ProBlogger sites. We tweet out every job that gets advertised there. People pay us $50, US that is, for their ad to go up. It lasts for 30 days.

When I first started it back in 2006, I remember the first week or two that I had the job board. We did have quite a few ads because I gave a lot of them away to friends to try to get a few ads on there. It kind of was a trickle. There might have been an ad every three to four days, maybe, if I was lucky. There would be weeks where we might only have one ad. Gradually over time, it’s grown. We are getting close, the last time I checked we’re getting close to our 6,000th ad placed on the job board. This is where you can probably do some sums. $50 times 6,000 ads. There were a few freebees in the early days but not really many at all.

Considering the initial investment on the job board, which was minimal, I had someone code it. It wasn’t very well coded in the early days but it was there. It’s been a largely passive income stream. I’m very, very pleased that I started that job board back in 2006. As you can see, by doing those sorts of calculations, I probably spent several thousand dollars getting the thing up and running. It doesn’t really take that much work to keep it going. I do have occasional things that I need to interact with advertisers on. Occasionally, we need to delete an ad if it’s not appropriate and doesn’t meet our standards. But largely, it’s a fairly passive income stream.

We’re actually at the moment investing some time and money into creating version two of it. It does need some updating. We want to give it some more features to advertisers but also applicants. Watch this space as well because we’ve got some new things coming on that particular job board. If you do want to advertise, $50 for 30 days, we do find a lot of advertisers email us a few days later and say, “Can you please take down our ad because we’re getting too many applicants.” We find a lot of people find really good applicants there.

That was profit stream number five. Let’s talk number six which is our event, which is very topical, because as this podcast goes live, I’ll be packing my bags, the next day getting on a plane to go to our ProBlogger event, our 7th annual ProBlogger event here in Australia. Tickets are still on sale if you want to join us at probloggerevents.com. The virtual ticket really is where most of you would be able to get some value out of that.

Our event is a massive focus for the ProBlogger team that I’ve got. It’s largely a labor of love. When I did start the event, seven events ago now, I did it mainly because I wanted to get Aussie bloggers together. I wanted to see what would happen when that happened. I saw a lot of value happening in the US events that I was going to. I didn’t really have profit in mind, I just didn’t want it to cost me anything. I wanted to breakeven.

For the first three or four years of that event, it was pretty much a breakeven target every year. The problem that I had was that when 300 or 400 bloggers come together, you start having a lot of expenses. It became a bit of a risky thing to put on. I remember getting a bill from a hotel that was over $100,000. Thinking in my mind, if this doesn’t work, if people don’t show up, or if something goes wrong, it’s going to hurt a lot to put on this event that doesn’t work. I realized I needed to start to build some profit into the event not because I need the extra cash but because I didn’t want to hold that risk for myself.

We have been trying to make it more profitable thing over the last few years. We’re still also really trying to keep it as affordable as we can. We always get comments from our attendees saying, “This is just so cheap.” We actually charge our attendees less than it costs us to put the event on. If we could break it down per attendee, we charge them about 80% of what it cost. We make out the risk, we make out the profit from working with sponsors. That’s where this profit comes from from the event. That goes up and down a little from year to year as different sponsors come and go.

We’ve had some amazing sponsors over the last few years. Olympus is an ongoing sponsor for us, Olympus Australia, the camera maker. We’ve had a variety of different sponsors over the years.

This year, we’ve got the virtual ticket back. That does help us to be a little bit more profitable. If you do want to give something back to ProBlogger and help us out to cover our cost, you can get that virtual ticket as well.

The last category is other. There’s always another category in these types of of things. This is a very small amount. I think it was like 1%, yup, 1% of the income. It largely is speaking fees. Occasionally, I do speaking where I’ll get paid a fee. It’s book royalties from the ProBlogger book which was published years ago. I still occasionally get a little check, tiny little check. It was never a big one I have to say, if you want to make money, don’t write a book. It was better for branding and that type of thing. I still occasionally do get a little royalty there.

I get out a check every quarter, or every six months from a copyright organization here in Australia. When a school here in Australia uses material on Digital Photography School, if you do, we get paid for that. That’s just something that happens here, I think, I guess through the Australian government. That’s a nice little bonus check. It’s never more than a thousand dollars or so at a go. There is other and occasionally I just get some other random things that come in as well. Those are the income streams.

Every time I do an income report, I get asked about expenses. That is the flip side. I’ve tried to take those into account in just talking here about profit. Some of the things I do spend money on, it might be useful in sort of touching on that as well. It’s hard to nail some of them down specifically to the income stream because a lot of the expenses that I have, the biggest expenses that I have on my team. Some of my team work on different projects, some of them are just focused on the event for example. Some of them are just focused on the production of the ebook for example. But then, some of them work across different income streams as well.

Let me just run through my team. We have an editor for each of my sites, they’re both part time. We have two business unit managers, one for Digital Photography School and one for ProBlogger. I have some administrative and customer service team members. I have a marketing person for Digital Photography School. All of my team are part time except for one.

On top of that, there’s a huge array of other contractors. We hire people to proofread our ebooks, I hire people to edit this podcast, I hire people to write content on Digital Photography School, they get paid per article. We work with partners to create the ebooks, we work on a revenue share basis there as well. I guess on top of the people, the things like service, which are not cheap, the amazing array of software services and subscriptions that most bloggers have as well. For lending pages, email providers, and that type of thing as well. Most of which you can see over on the recommended blogging rasources page that I have as well.

I guess my philosophy with the expenses is that you really do have to spend money to make money. I do that on people and tools as well. I guess there’s my time as well which is hard to put a value on as well but that’s certainly an expense. I work hard at what I do.

There are my income streams. I know for a fact that what I’ve just shared then will resonate was some of you. Some of you will have very similar income streams. You might make most of your money from affiliate and product sales as well. I know on the flip side that many of our event attendees, their main source of income is working with brands and doing sponsored posts. I know others who have membership sites and that’s their number one form of income. There is a lot more ways that you can make money and I’ll link in today’s show notes to some further reading on all of the income streams that I’ve mentioned on how to build those. Also, some other recommended reading on other income streams that you might be interested in as well.

I would love to hear back from you on how you make money from your blog if you are a full time blogger, or a part time blogger. You can leave a comment on problogger.com/podcast/150.

Just one last call. Our event does happen the day after this podcast goes live or a couple of days after it goes live. If you’d like to be a part of that event virtually, you can get a virtual ticket. If you head over to problogger.net/virtualticket, you’ll be able to pick up a virtual ticket to that event and get all 50 sessions from this year’s event, including my opening keynote, including a keynote from Natalie Sisson from Suitcase Entrepreneur, from Bryan Fanzo talking about live streaming. We’ve got sessions on Instagram, YouTube, Podcasting, and many sessions on content creation, how to drive traffic to blogs. We got sessions on SEO. The list goes on and on. As a bonus, you also get 23 sessions from last year as well. All the audio files and slides from this year and last year.

I look forward to chatting with you next week. Remember, we’re on a weekly schedule at the moment until the event’s finished where I will chat with you in another of our podcast.

Thanks for listening today. I’ll chat with you then.

This episode of the ProBlogger podcast was edited by the team at Podcast Motor who offer a great range of services including helping you to set up and launch your podcast as well as ongoing editing and production of the podcast that you produce. You can check them out at podcastmotor.com.

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Sep 05 2016

33mins

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270: How One Blogger Changed Her Life by Starting a Blog

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How Starting a Blog Helped Transform the Life of a Blogger

Happy New Year!

This first episode of 2019 launches a series of stories from new bloggers who started their blogs after completing our free Start a Blog course.

The course features seven steps, which makes it a perfect way to celebrate International Start a Blog Day on February 7.

The first story comes from Denise Bumby, who took our course last year and launched her Does Size Matter? blog about six months ago.

Denise was searching for a way to cope with changes in her life. And she found her way through blogging, which brings her joy and hope.

She may not have many subscribers yet, but that number is growing daily. And so is Denise.

Denise’s tips on how to boost your blog:

  • Consistently produce content
  • Use social media
  • Post content in various formats (videos, etc.)
  • Get mentioned on other blogs
  • Learn and implement affiliate marketing and sponsorship
  • Keep working. Don’t give up or get discouraged

Despite what you may think, anyone can start a blog – young or old, tech savvy or not. Blogging is for everyone.

So, are you ready to start a blog?

Links and Resources for How One Blogger Changed Her Life by Starting a Blog:

Courses

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Darren: Hey there and welcome to the first episode of the ProBlogger podcast for 2019. This is episode 270. You can find today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/270. ProBlogger is a site for bloggers and prebloggers, who today’s episode is particularly for. It’s all designed to help you to build and grow a blog that not only makes your reader’s life better in some way but also helps you to achieve your goals and bring you a little joy to your life as well. We’re going to hear a story today where that happens.

Today, we are launching another round of our bloggers’ stories. It’s a series that’s going to go for the next couple of weeks. They’re shorts stories from brand new bloggers. This series is all about starting a blog and hearing the stories of bloggers who started their blog over the last 12 months.

They all started their blogs as a result of doing our Start A Blog course, which we are currently really pushing hard because on the 7th of February, we’re running our International Start A Blog Day for the second year in a row. Last year, we ran International Start A Blog Day and hundreds of bloggers started a blog on that particular day.

As you’ll hear today, hundreds more started their blogs in the months afterwards. Some people needed a little bit more time. We want you to be a part of this year’s Start A Blog Day. Whether you are a blogger who’s about to start and you’ve been thinking about starting a blog or whether you know someone who should start a blog, we want you to encourage them to get involved. If you want to be a part of it or if you know someone who really does need to start a blog, our course is 100% free and it will help you to start that blog. You can find it at problogger.com/startablog.

Before I introduce you to today’s story, I want to pause for a moment and say Happy New Year. I know it’s three weeks into the new year and I should apologize for the delay in getting this episode out but I do want to start off by saying Happy New Year. The reason for the delay this year is that it’s been a bit of a tough year so far. In fact, last year was a little bit tough as well. Many of you I know have been following my Facebook profile and my personal profile where I shared recently a couple of posts about my own battles with depression over the last year and also the recent loss of a friend.

I wanted to mention those things here because I’m really aware that sometimes in the online space, we only talk about the good stuff, the highlights. I’m not sure how helpful that is for you as a listener to only hear the ups, the successes, the highlights, to see the good things that is going on. The reality is that sometimes life gets tough and there are good times to step back, to change things up, to take a break, to rest, and to heal.

That’s what I’ve been doing really over the last six or so months as I changed the structure of this podcast and the start of this year, particularly, with the sad news that we’ve had. I also wanted to mention that here because so many have left kind messages for me over the last couple of weeks, particularly, and I just want to pause and say thank you. I love our community. I only hope that I can offer a little encouragement and support back to you. So, Happy New Year. But for those of you that is not a happy new year, that it’s just a new year, or a sad new year, I feel your pain. Hang in there, you’re not alone, and I hope that things improve for you.

Okay, I’ve said I love that and I really do send my wishes to you today. But I also want to get on with today’s podcast and I’m going to move into today’s blogger story. I love this one. It’s a lovely story from Denise Bumby from a blog called Does Size Matter? which you can find at koryanddenise.com and I’m gonna link to it in today’s show notes if you want to check it out, and I encourage you to do. I encourage you to support these new bloggers that we are featuring in this series.

Denise took part in a course last year and as you’ll hear, she worked though it at her own pace. She didn’t make the International Start A Blog Day launch but she launched it about six months ago and she battled through the learning process and she shares her story today. It’s a short story and it goes for about five or so minutes, but I hope it is one that will warm your heart as much as it warmed mine. Here’s Denise.

Denise: My name is Denise Bumby and my blog’s name is Does Size Matter? We are a traveling RV review blog and we kind of just show things from our unique perspective. You can find us at koryanddenise.com. That’s kory with a K and denise dot com or on YouTube at youtube.com/doessizematter.

I started this blog because I was searching. I was at that stage in my life when there were a lot of changes and I wasn’t coping well. My only child had gone away to school, we had moved out of our childhood home, and the medical clinic where I was a nurse had closed, so I lost my job. I know the first two things are good things but I still felt some loss from them. I know many people can relate to this but even though change can be good, there’s still loss associated with it.

I had lost my identity as a mom, my purpose in the world as a nurse, and the familiarity of my home. Every night, Kory would come home to me sitting at the table crying. He would ask how he could help and all I could tell him was to just give me some time and I would find my way. I’d sit on my computer and read blogs, watch videos, and find myself starting to feel a little bit better. I wondered how can I do this, how can I continue to feel better, how could I be part of this blogging community.

I started to search until I found the ProBlogger course and then I started to learn new things with that. I worked through it at my own pace and I didn’t launch my site on the projected date with the others because I just needed to learn so much and I wanted to do it at a pace that I felt good with.

I went on in and I did finally launch my site in April and I put my first video out to the public in June. I went really slowly because I was that person in the office who cannot handle any new technology and I was always calling someone in to fix my computer and give me help. I truly learned everything from scratch, things most people just know I had to learn. So, along with my ProBlogger course, I searched everything and anything, a word, a step, anything I didn’t understand, the internet taught me how.

So now, six months after we went public, we have 454 subscribers. I know it’s small in the grand scheme of things but it’s growing everyday and more importantly, so am I. The main highlight of this past year is that I have created something that people are watching and reading and enjoying. I love the comments and the discussion that comes from all of this. I’ve actually created something.

When it comes to content creation, I find it super fun. I do lots of research, which I also like, on the places we go, the RVs we review. Some of them are really special and unique, and it’s just fun for me to do. We also like really helping people make their purchases or their plans of things they want to go or just giving them that little extra information they needed.

The other part of our blog is to show people that you just got to go out there and do the things you want to do and not just because there might be some blocks or something, you can find a way around it. You can do things. You just might have to do them a little bit differently and that’s okay.

When it came to finding readers, it’s been tough and I think that’s a pretty usual thing for newbies at this. But we just keep producing no matter what, we keep putting out content and we used lots of social media. We’ve had one video get over 19,000 views so we’re really proud of that. Then just another time randomly we ran into another blogger who mentioned us on his site and that gave us a boost as well. Every one of those boosts gives you a little bit of excitement and I need just keep moving forward and working harder and just keep producing consistent content.

As for community, there’s a lot of like-minded bloggers, YouTubers, RVers, et cetera. People that are interested in the same kinds of things that we’re interested in, whether they be new or very successful people, they’re also very kind, easy to talk to, and willing to share suggestions and advice or what’s worked for them. It’s a broad and supportive group. We enjoyed to contact and the guidance. Sometimes, we just get it through a Facebook group or email or where we’ve even been to group gatherings that were really helpful.

Next for me, I’ve got to go back and start all over with all my same trusted resources like ProBlogger, to learn and implement affiliate marketing and sponsorship. I can’t wait to see how this goes. What I do know is that it’s a whole other set of learning that I need to do. But I’m confident now that I will be able to handle this and I’ll be able to implement it into my site. So check back with me next year and see how much I made.

My biggest tip is just keep working and learning. Even when it seems so above your head, the answers are out there. If you find some good, trusted resources that you can follow along with in a place like ProBlogger that has so many things, posts to read, podcast to listen to, there is just a wealth of information there. I just keep going to those places, looking for the information, learning it, and then learning how to implement it.

Blogging seems like it’s only for the young or the computer geeks. But it can be for anybody. It can be for you, too. Don’t get discouraged by foreign things and hard work. Now, when Kory comes home, I’m too busy to be crying at the table because I truly have found my way.

Darren: Thank you so much, Denise. I really appreciate you sharing your story with me and our community today. I wanted to share this story as the first one today because it kind of touched a nerve with me in some way. It’s a representative of the stories that I hear from many readers of ProBlogger. Whether you’re brand new in blogging or whether you’ve been blogging for a while, I hear this story again and again from people about how blogging has a potential to bring joy and hope and purpose to people’s lives.

This is my own experience in the early days of starting a blog. I started my blog on impulse, not knowing what I was doing, not really understanding what a blog was at all. But there’s something about the constant creation of content, the building of community with my readers. Those interactions that I had, the development of my ideas and the sharing of my experiences, putting those things out into the world, it not only became an income and became success in terms of the numbers, but it brought hope and it brought life to me. It changed my life in numerous ways on a more personal level.

Whilst you might listen to stories like Denise’s and say, “Well, she’s only got a small number of readers or a small number of subscribers or she’s not yet making an income.” What I actually hear in the story is the story of someone who has already had her life change through blogging. She’s gone from a time of sadness and that’s part of all of our lives, I certainly understand that, but blogging has actually brought her through that and has given her something else, and added something else into her life.

I wanted to share that and this story for that reason mainly, but I also love her tips. Her tips of keep working, keep learning, don’t give up, there’s always something new to learn in blogging. Whether you are just starting out or you’re about to start your blog, you’re about to enter into a steep learning curve if you’re just starting out. But don’t be scared about that. There’s plenty of great resources out there and there’s plenty of support out there for new bloggers as well.

But if you’re listening to this and you’ve been blogging for a while but you’re about to start monetizing for the first time like Denise is, or whether you are thinking about moving from one blogging platform to another, or exploring a new medium, keep learning. The learning curve gets steep from time to time. Keep producing content, keep learning, keep serving your readers, and don’t give up.

Lastly, I love that Denise said that blogging is for everyone. Often, people think blogging is just for young people. The reality is, as I look at our audience, our audience is actually older than you might expect. I don’t have the stats right in front of me but the vast majority of ProBlogger readers are my age—I’m 46—or are older, there’s quite a few. We do have younger readers as well but it’s certainly isn’t just a young person’s game.

Denise took her time. She doesn’t feel super techy but she learnt what she needed to do and she got through it. Denise took her time going through the course and if you are wanting to start the course, you can go to problogger.com/startablog. You’ll see that we’ve outlined the course in seven steps. We see some of our students right through those steps in seven days. Some people who’ve got the time, maybe a little bit of experience, or maybe some support, they go through it in seven days. Some even go through it in a shorter period. But many of our students do take longer and that’s totally fine.

If you make our 7th of February International Start A Blog Day, then that’s great. But if you take a little longer, you’re still part of the family and most importantly, you too can have that life-changing experience of starting your blog.

Today’s show notes are at problogger.com/podcst/270. We’ve got all the links there to Denise’s blog, also to the Start A Blog course, or you could go there directly at problogger.com/startablog. We’ll also be promoting it around the site at the moment, particularly going to lead up to the 7th of February. I do encourage you to take that step. Sign up and get involved. We are doing some support on our Facebook pages as well at the moment. I really can’t wait to see the new blogs that come out of this year’s batch of students to go through Start A Blog course. 

How did you go with today’s episode?

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Jan 21 2019

16mins

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213: Blogging and Content Marketing: 10 Things To Know

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10 Things I Wish I Knew About Blogging and Content Marketing When I Started

Today, I want to share the audio of a keynote I gave at a conference early last year about 10 things I wish I’d known about blogging and creating content for content marketing when I started.

In episodes 204 and 205 I shared some recordings of keynotes I’ve given, and the response from many of you was that you wanted to hear more of that style of podcast. So today I dug out a talk I gave at the Super Fast Business conference, which is run by James Schramko here in Australia.s

James, who puts on a great event, asked me to share some of my story and give some practical tips on content creation.

I talk about defining what your blog is about, the three phases of creating great content, how to mix up the different types of content you feature on your blog, idea generation, creating ‘content events’ on your blog, and how to differentiate yourself in your content.   

I loved doing this talk, and I hope you enjoy it too.

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Slides from the Talk

For those of you who would like to follow along with the slides – here they are.

10 THINGS I WISH I KNEW ABOUT CONTENT MARKETING WHEN I STARTED from Darren Rowse

Further Listening on 10 Things I Wish I Knew About Blogging (and Content Marketing) When I Started


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Hi there and welcome to episode 213 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse, and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast, event, job board, and a series of ebooks, all designed to help you as a blogger to grow your audience. You can find more about ProBlogger over at problogger.com.

In today’s episode, I want to share with you an audio from a keynote I gave at a conference early last year. The topic was ’10 things I wish I had known about blogging and creating content for content marketing when I started’. A bit of a mouthful, but you get the idea. Back in episode 204, 205, just a few episodes ago, I shared a couple of recordings from keynotes I’ve given at my ProBlogger events and I had so much positive response from that. People really enjoyed that format, a presentation, a talk. Longer form and also the slides from those talks as well.

I wanted to do it again because many of you wanted more of that style of podcast. We’re not going to do it every week by any account. I don’t give that many talks. But I did find this one from the Superfast Business Conference. It’s a conference that is run by James Schramko. Many of you will know here in Australia. It’s run in Sydney and it was a great event. I really enjoyed getting to that particular event.

James puts on a really good event, and he asked me at the event last year to share some of my story but also give some practical tips on content creation. Really, that’s what the focus of this talk is about. In it, I’ve given a few tips on defining what your blog is about but then we get a lot into content creation itself. I talk about three different phases of creating content. I talk about how to mix up the different types of content that you might want to feature on your blog. I talk about idea generation, some tips on creating content, finishing content, running content events and challenges on your blog and also how to differentiate yourself through your content as well.

I really enjoyed this talk and I hope you do as well. I’ll also put up the slides from this talk in today’s show notes. There are a few times during the talk where you probably will want to refer to the slides. Whether you do that as you’re listening if you’re at a computer or whether you want to come back to the slides later, you’ll be able to do that. I bet 95% of what I do talk about in this talk doesn’t rely on the slides but you might want to have them. The show notes are at problogger.com/podcast/213.

The only other thing I will note is that at the time of this talk, there was a tool that I was using called Blab. Blab is a live streaming tool that allowed multiple people to be on the screen at once. Now, that tool doesn’t exist today. But when I do talk about it, you can pretty much substitute most of the other live streaming tools that exist today. It’s only a brief mention during the talk but I did want to point that out.

Some of the points I mention in passing during this keynote were expanded upon in later podcast. At the end of the talk, I will come back on and suggest some further listening for those of you who want to dig deeper into some of the things I touched on during the talk. But again, I’ll link to all of those in the show notes as well. problogger.com/podcast/213. Thank you so much for listening. I hope you enjoy this talk and I will come back at the end just to wrap things up.

Host: Our next guest is a superpower in the blogosphere. In fact, I remember going to an event, my first event in the United States several years ago, and I found out he’d been to one before that, one of the early ones. I found a transcript of what he’d been doing and what he talked about. I read through it and I thought, “This is great.” He’s probably one of the seeds to my original direction towards content marketing. And then I recently saw him in the Philippines, presenting. I thought, “This information is very in line with what we do.” His version of what I talk about with OTR, but he’s been doing it a lot longer than I have. He can do things like write and spell. He’s prolific and he’s really, really good at it. Without further ado, I’d like to introduce Darren Rowse.

Darren: Thank you. It’s really good. Who’s feeling like they’ve already got enough value from this and they could go home almost? I, literally in the lunch break, had to rewrite the opening story of my talk thanks to an earlier presentation. I put all my content onto an app, thanks Jared. I’ve killed my idea for the ProBlogger album and t-shirt range. I have been considering doing a pyjama range, ProBlogger workwear for bloggers.

I’ve had to call the team and tell them to put all the content behind a subscription. I’ve deleted all the apps on my phone and I just took a hot and cold shower. It’s been a busy lunch break. I hope you’ve had a productive one.

I want to talk about content marketing, and to help you understand the perspective that I’ve come to this topic from. I want to tell you a very brief version of my story. I got an email a couple of days ago basically saying, “We’ve got lines for speakers.” It was basically cut out all your story because people just want the tips. I’m like, “But that was the first 20 minutes of my talk gone.” I’m going to tell it to you in two minutes and it does skip over some of the stages of the format for storytelling before.

For me, it all started in 2002 with an email from a friend. I was sitting at a desk, one of the part-time jobs that I had, and this email pinged in. A voice said, “Master, you’ve got mail.” Did anyone else install that? I was the only one. Okay, It was 2002 and I got this email and it had four words in it and a link. The four words were, “Check out this blog.” I had no idea what a blog was so I clicked the link out of curiosity. I ended up on this site that changed the course of my life not because of the content on it, although that was interesting, but because it was my first discovery of blogging and of this amazing tool called a blog.

What I found on this blog was this tool that enabled this guy on the other side of the world living in Prague, to talk to me in a really powerful, personal way. It amplified his voice in a way I’ve never seen a voice amplified before. I’ve done some public speaking. I’ve never had my voice amplified in that way. Around his voice was this community. Everyone was getting smarter as a result of not only what he was saying but the fact that there was a community there.

These two things captivated me. Within a couple of hours, I decided I needed to start a blog. Now, unfortunately, I had no credentials whatsoever to start a blog and if I thought about it for any more than about five minutes, I wouldn’t have done it. I’ve had 20 jobs in the last 10 years, none of which had anything to do with blogging. The only qualification I had was a Bachelor of Theology, which hasn’t really helped a whole heap. I wasn’t a great writer. It was my worst subject in high school and I was incapable of making text bold on that blog for three months after starting it.

Back then, you had to know a little bit of HTML and I had no idea, technological. But for one reason or another, I started that blog and that was the best thing that I’ve ever done in business. This is what it looked like. It was ugly. I designed this myself. It was based upon my wedding invitation, which makes me doubt my wife’s choice in colors. But if you’ve seen her blog, she’s a very colourful person.

Anyway, I did meet some people who knew how to make text bold and they eventually redesigned my blog for me. It was a personal journal of sorts. I was writing about spirituality, politics, movies. It was pretty much an outward pouring of what was in my mind, which was quite scary. What was even more scary was that thousands of people a day found it and read it. I didn’t know why but I was quite happy that they did.

I became very quickly addicted to blogging and creating content, with no intent whatsoever of making it into a business. It was just a hobby. It was something that I did for pretty much seven hours every night when I got home. It was a big part of my life and it became an addiction.

I began to experiment with other blogs over time. My next blog was a photo blog. I was going to share photos of a trip I was taking to Morocco with my wife, with my brand new digital camera. Turns out no-one had looked to any of the photos but I posted one review of the camera I was using and it ranked number one on Google for that camera. The entrepreneurial lights began to go in my mind.

I transitioned that photo blog onto a digital camera review blog, where I wrote reviews of other cameras and aggregated reviews that other people were writing around the web. It was a good time to start a digital photography blog because digital cameras were just starting to really take off.

In 2004, blogging had become a part-time job. In fact, it almost became a full time job. With this particular blog, I started to put some AdSense ads on my blog and some Amazon affiliate links to earn those 4% commissions on those $10 books. I didn’t really earn a lot but it was the beginnings of a part-time job, which over the next year, became a full-time thing for me.

In 2004, I started ProBlogger. It was pretty much me saying to the world you can make a living from blogging and is anyone else doing it out there because no-one was writing about it. It was my attempt to find other people on this same journey to learn from and to share what I was learning with.

I transitioned my photography blog into Digital Photography School in 2007 and this is my main blog today. It’s about ten times larger than ProBlogger. ProBlogger is a bit of a side project for me, which pays a full-time living in and of itself. But this is the main thing that I do today. It’s a how to take photography-type site.

Thirteen years later, I’m not the biggest blogger in the world and I’m not the best blogger in the world. But given the fact that I had no idea what I was doing when I started, I’m pretty pleased with what’s happened as a result of it. There’s a whole heap of numbers there which I pinch myself at. But the thing that I really love about what’s opened up for me is the opportunities. The opportunities to write a book, to start a conference, to speak at amazing events like this, meet amazing people.

But the best thing of all is when people come up to me at a conference like this, as happened this morning, and say things like, “You wrote this post that changed my life. In some small way, it helped me to start a business.” Or like James said before, “Influence the way I do things today.” That is something that I get really excited about. That’s the biggest compliment for me.

Thirteen years later, I find myself as a full-time blogger. Blogging and content marketing for me really tap into this quote that you’ve probably heard a million times before at conferences like this. “People do business with those that they know, like, and trust,” and content has the ability to help you to be known. Who would’ve ever thought I would be known by four million people a month? To be liked.

Who would’ve ever thought that someone will walk up to me this morning in a conference and give me a hug? I’m an introvert. I don’t like hugs, but I love the fact that people actually feel like they know me and they like me. It opens up opportunities for you to be trusted. This is what content marketing, this is what blogging is all about for me.

I want to say right upfront, whilst I’m talking about content marketing today, I’m doing it as a blogger. A lot of what I share today comes out of that experience. Blogging for me is the center of the mix. These are all of the other things that I do with my time and I could probably add some more circles to that. This week, I started on an app called Anchor. I don’t know if anyone’s started playing with Anchor. It’s like an audio version of Twitter. It’s fun. You leave a message and then everyone else leaves a voicemail message effectively back on your message and a conversation happens that way. It’s a really cool tool.

Anyway, I’m always experimenting with lots of different things. For me, the blog is the center of the mix. Whether that’s the case for you or whether a podcast is that or whether it’s something else, I think pretty much everything that I want to share this morning and the ten things that I’ve learned since I started applies to pretty much any medium and most of the models that you’ll be experimenting with before.

I’m going to whip through ten things. The first two are fairly foundational and then we get a little bit more tactical as we go along. This is something you’ve probably already thought about but I think it’s something that you really need to come back to on a regular basis. Define what it is that your blog or your podcast or you are about. There’s a variety of ways that you can think about this. The most common of which is to choose a niche and to think about that niche.

Has anyone got a niche in the room that you would say you got a niche? I’ve got a photography blog. That’s my niche. I’ve got a blogging blog. That’s a niche. This is Chris Hunter. He’s got a great blog called Bike EXIF. It’s about custom and classic motorbikes. He’s the only male I know who’s got something like 400,000 or 500,000 Pinterest followers. A lot of people say Pinterest is for women only. No way. There’s a whole heap of men on there and they’ve got their own niches.

He has a niche. I’ve got a niche. A lot of bloggers though that I meet say, “I don’t really want to just write about one topic.” And so another way to define what you’re on about is to think about your demographic. This is Gala Darling. She writes about travel, horoscopes, tattoos, relationships, travel, all kinds of stuff. But they relate to the one kind of person. She thinks about her blog as a blog for youthful, alternative, unconventional, individual, eccentric women. Her words, not mine. That’s her demographic.

The third way I think is, you can add to these other two, and that is to have a fight. I think this is a particularly powerful one. ProBlogger, when I started in 2004, it was a blog about making money from blogging. That was quite a controversial thing to write about in 2004 because blogging was seen as a very pure medium. And so for me to say I’m making money from blogging and I’m making six figures from it back in 2004, that was quite a stir. People really reacted to that in one of two ways.

Some people said, “He’s lying.” Other people said, “You shouldn’t make money from blogging.” And other people said, “Yeah, I want to do that too.” For me, the fight of ProBlogger back then was that you can do it and you can actually do it in an ethical way. That was like me putting a flag in the sand and people either reacted against it or they rallied around it. A lot of people were inspired by that idea. A lot of people shared that journey.

Having a fight for what you do is a very, very powerful thing. My wife, she’s a style blogger. She has a niche. Style, fashion, homewear, that’s her niche. She has a demographic as well. She writes for moms. But she also has a fight and it comes out in a lot of the content that she writes. You don’t have to give up on style when you’ve got three little, I was going to call them brats, boys running around in your home who fight against their stuff. That’s her fight. That something that really resonates with a lot of moms and so she weaves that into her blog and people rally around it.

When you’ve got a fight, you give something for people to join and that’s a very powerful thing when it comes to content. What is it that you do? This is something I go back to quite regularly and think about. The other thing I’d say about choosing what you do, choose something that’s meaningful to you. You’re going to be at this for a while so you might as well do something you enjoy and something that’s meaningful to you. If it’s meaningful to you, it will shine through in the content that you create.

I’ve had 30 blogs over the years. I have to say 28 of them I started because I thought they’d be profitable and they didn’t really mean a whole heap to me. I couldn’t sustain them and people who came across those blogs could tell that they weren’t meaningful to me and so they didn’t come back again. Do something meaningful to you.

Number two, understand your reader and how you will change them. Most people have been through some sort of an exercise like this and have created something like this. These are the reader profiles that I created when I started Digital Photography School in 2007. Some people would call them personas or avatars today. I know some people like personas and avatars, other people don’t.

But what I would say to you whether you’ve got one or not, you need to understand who’s reading your blog. The better you understand them and what is meaningful to them, the better position you’ll be in to create great content, to find more of those readers because you’ll start to understand where they’re hanging out. You’ll also understand how to build community with them and you’ll suddenly get ideas for how you monetize as well. The better you understand who is reading your blog, the better.

But here’s the thing. Most people’s avatars, most people’s understandings of their readers ends at ‘They’re 34, they’re male, they live in these sorts of… ‘Their demographical information. That’s good to know but you need to understand these kinds of things. You need to understand their needs. You need to understand their problems. You really need to understand their desires, where they want to be, their dreams. Those things are really powerful things to understand.

You need to understand their fears. Their fears are the things that are stopping them to get to their dreams. Even if you just understand their dream and their fear, that’s a very powerful thing to understand. It will inform your content. Again, it will inform how you brand yourself, how you promote yourself, how you build community and how you monetize. These things need to be crystal clear in your mind.

Whether you’ve got an avatar or not, understand these things. Find out what is meaningful to them. When you understand those things, that is meaningful stuff. Understand what’s meaningful to them. You can do it in a whole heap of different ways. For us, we use surveys. One of the things I love about live streaming, Periscope or a tool like Blab, has anyone used Blab? It puts you into a conversation. A very real-time conversation with people. That’s great for broadcasting your ideas and for creating content but it’s even more useful in terms of understanding the needs of people.

I remember the first time I did a Blab. It’s like Google Hangouts but it works. It put me into a conversation with three of my readers. I’ve never heard of them before. I didn’t recognize their names but suddenly, I was seeing them on the screen, hearing their voices, hearing their frustrations, hearing their questions. I wrote the best content that afternoon, after that Blab, because it was written out of the pain of my readers and the real life questions of my readers.

Use these sorts of tools to understand who your readers are. I think the great thing about an event like this, if you have enough readers to hold an event, is that you understand, you meet those people. It will infect the way you create content.

But here’s something where you can take your avatar writing to the next stage. Most people don’t do this. They have an avatar. They might know their reader’s problems but here’s the question I’d ask you. How will you change your readers? How are you going to change them? Here’s a simple exercise that you can do. Actually, before I give you the exercise, great blogs and great podcasts, they leave a mark on their readers and so I want to encourage you to think about the content you create.

It’s not only getting people onto your list or getting them to know, like, and trust you but understand that that content that you create has the potential to change your readers. If you create content that changes your readers, that’s a very powerful thing because they’ll come back and they’ll bring other people with them.

Here’s the exercise. You can do this later. It’s a very simple one. You just need a piece of paper and a pen the draw a line across it. At point A, I want you to describe who your readers are when they arrive on your blog or your podcast or where it is that you have first contact with people. This will be your avatar of sorts and it should include their needs, their problems, their desires, and their fears, those types of things.

Most people do this when they’ve got a blog but hardly anyone does this, where will your reader be as a result of coming into contact with you? Where will they be in a year’s time? Where will they be in five years’ time? What’s your dream for your readers, for your audience? Describe that change. Very powerful to understand that change. It should inform everything else that you do. It should inform the content you create, the product you create, the way you engage with people. Get crystal clear on that change.

Digital Photography School, my main blog, the change is very simple. I want people to get out of automatic mode on their cameras and to have full creative control of their cameras. Most people use their cameras in full automatic mode but they don’t know the full potential of their cameras so I want to give them creative control of their camera. That’s a very simple change. I talked to a parenting blogger the other day. She was starting a whole membership site for parents. I got her to do this exercise. We were both in tears by the end of it because she described desperate families who couldn’t communicate, who are angry and dysfunctional and then she described the most amazing families that you could ever imagine.

What a change she is bringing. By understanding that change, she suddenly had ideas for content. She suddenly had ideas for products. She suddenly had ideas for what her community could be through this exercise, very, very powerful thing to do. Essentially, what you’re doing is creating a before and after avatar for your audience.

Number three thing I want to talk about is three phases of creating content. Most people have a content creation process that was like my one used to be. You sit down and you think, “Shit, what am I going to write today?” Has anyone had that moment? You spend the next two hours working out what you’re going to write about. And then you write it and then you bang, publish, and it goes out. That’s the way I used to publish content. It was thoughtless, it was sporadic, and I’ve very rarely built momentum from one piece of content to the next.

Great blogs take their readers on a journey. Great podcasts take their readers on a journey. They build momentum over time. They’re thoughtful. They’re consistent and they do build momentum. Have a think about those words. They don’t just happen. You need to be intentional about the kind of content that you create. I want to encourage you to be intentional in three areas of your content creation. I’m going to dig deeper into each of these.

The first one is idea generation. Most bloggers kind of understand they need to come up with good ideas to write about but most bloggers do it in the moment that they’re creating the content itself. I want you to consider doing that ahead of time.

Secondly, the content creation. First, most of us understand we need to put time aside for that. Here’s the one I think most people could lift their game in. That’s the completion of their content. Most bloggers I come across either have a whole heap of drafts that they’ve never published. I had 90 at one point on the ProBlogger back end, or they publish content that could be a whole heap better, that they could be completing better. I want to give you some tips in each of these three areas as the next three points of my presentation.

But before I do, I want to encourage you to put time aside for this. One of the things I loved in one of the earlier presentations was about separating your tasks out. James shared his weekly schedule before. I’ve got a little way to go to clear mine but this is how I structure most of my weeks. You’ll get these slides later and you can look a little more deeply into it. I put time aside. Every week, I make an appointment with myself every week to come up with ideas. It happens on Friday morning. I spend half an hour on it. That’s all. Half an hour and I brainstorm by myself.

Then my team shows up for the meeting and I share what my ideas are and they tell me which ones are good and which ones aren’t. They develop them a little bit further. We probably spend about 45 minutes in total on ideas and that type of thing. Friday afternoons, I spend time planning the content I’m creating next week. I find really useful on a Monday morning when I look ahead for creation of content, to know ahead of time what I’m going to create that morning. I don’t have to come up with the idea. It’s already come up with and I’ve already given myself the deadline of when it needs to be created by. Monday, Tuesday morning, I spend time creating. Whether that be blog post or podcast or webinars or whatever it might be.

In the afternoons, I’d spend time completing. That’s really important for me to do because that’s my natural tendency, is to publish half finished content. I just like to get it out there without really going to the next level and taking that content from being good to great. I want to show you how to do that in a moment.

The fourth thing I want to talk about is generating ideas. Really, I want you to return to this exercise. This is what I did in 2007 when I started Digital Photography School. I worked at this overall change I was trying to bring and then I decided to fill in the gaps. For you to take your audience from one point to the next, what needs to happen? What do they need to know? What mindshifts need to happen? What skills do they need to develop? What areas do they need to build their confidence in?

I started to fill in the gaps. Here are some of the things I came up with for my audience. They needed to learn about aperture, shutter speed and some of those technical things they needed to grow in their confidence. They needed to understand really basic skills of how to hold a camera. I came up with 207 things in this exercise. It took me a whole afternoon to do. I returned to it the next day, I came up with another 100 so right about 300 things that my readers needed to do to get from fully auto to creative control. That was my first two years content for the blog.

I turned that content, step by step, into cornerstone pieces of content that I gave away to my audience. I placed them in an order that would take my readers on a journey from being in fully automatic mode to having creative control of their cameras. These four pieces of content here were some of the first pieces of content that I wrote. I looked at the stats the other day. Each of those pieces of content has been read over two million times since I started.

To this day, it still gets thousands of people to each of these pieces of content. I’m constantly linking back to these cornerstone pieces of content. Every time I mention the word aperture, it links back to the aperture article. Every time I mention shutter speed, it links back to the shutter speed article. It’s because I mapped out the whole road map ahead of time that I knew with confidence that the end of those two years are the base of what I was wanting to teach.

Do that exercise. It’s very powerful. If you’re ever running out of ideas, again, think about the change you’re trying to bring and build a road map for your readers. Six more really quick tips on generating ideas. You need to keep a record of every question you’re very asked or every question you ask yourself, every problem you ever notice. Again, this is the thing I love about live streaming, Periscope, it’s the thing I love about webinars, coming to conferences. I’m constantly writing down the questions people ask me. If one person is asking them, other people are asking them too.

Set idea traps. This is so powerful. The best thing I ever did for coming up with ideas was to set up a survey. I did it on day three of Digital Photography School. When I set up an autoresponder, you sign up to our newsletter, two or three months after you’ve been getting these weekly newsletters, I send you an email saying, “Would you mind filling in a survey? It helps us to understand you better. It collects a little bit of demographical information about our audience but there’s an open ended question.

The open ended question reads something like, “Do you have any questions or problems you want us to write a blog post about?” It’s an optional question. We had about 200,000 or 300,000 people complete that survey since 2007. That’s a lot of data. About 50,000 of those people have asked a question in that survey. I never run out of things to write about because I just go to the SurveyMonkey and look at the latest questions that we’ve been asked. It also shows your audience that you are interested in answering that question.

Set idea traps. You can use surveys. Your Facebook updates every now and again. You can ask that same question. Is there something you’d like us to write about? I’ve come across a number of bloggers recently who set up Facebook groups and they run polls every week in their Facebook group to test five different ideas for articles that they’re thinking about writing and they get their Facebook group members to vote on which one they want them to write a piece of content about.

Set up these little traps to collect ideas. You should be monitoring every blog post you write, every tweet you put out to collect those questions. If you don’t have people reading your blog yet, and leaving comments, head to someone else’s blog and look for the questions. Someone who’s a bigger blogger in your niche. YouTube is the best place ever to come up with questions. The comments left on YouTube clips in your industry will give you ideas for blog posts.

Forums also, we used to run a forum on Digital Photography School. It was amazing how many people would set up an account and I never post one thing. It was almost always a question. People joined forums to ask questions so you need to sit in those places and collect those sorts of questions.

And then find a brainstorming buddy. I don’t know if you’ve got these but one of the best things I did when I started ProBlogger was to commit with two other bloggers in my niche to throw out ideas at each other and to give each other ideas to write about. We became writing buddies.

The last thing, this is something that’s very simple to do particularly if you’ve been blogging or podcasting for a year or two, is to look back on your archives and ask yourself the question, how could I extend that old post or repurpose it or update it in some way? I actually do this everyday. Everyday, I look back at what I published this day last year and this day the year before on this same date. I actually go back through the archives all the years that I’ve been writing, every single day, to ask myself the question is that post still relevant? Could I update it? Could I repurpose that content in some way?

That’s where most of my podcasts, for the first year of my podcasting, have come from. Just looking back at the blog post that I’ve written and repurposing them and updating them.

Number five, I want to talk about creating content. Five really quick tips on this, firstly, write to your avatar or write to people that you actually know who are readers. My best blog post almost always start out as an email, a question from a reader or a conversation that I had at a conference or something that happens on Periscope. I write with the person in mind and my content comes out more personal.

It’s amazing how many people come out and say, “I feel like you’re writing to me. Did someone tell you about me?” It’s usually because I know someone like them and I’m writing in a more personal way. Write to your avatar and consider a blogging template. If you’re stuck in your writing, sometimes, it can help to get out of that stuck place by creating a template.

This is a template that Michael Hyatt came up with. I really didn’t like this idea when I first came across it. He follows the same template in almost every post he writes. I was like, “I’d never do that.” And then I start thinking about my own writing and I realize I pretty much do the same thing without actually having a template. Most of us develop a style of writing so if you’re stuck, maybe look back at some of your old post and work out what your template is or maybe steal someone else’s like Michael’s. He’s put it up and you’ll get a link to that in a moment.

I tend to back track my content. I’d much prefer to sit down from morning and write three or four blog post than to sit down four morning and write four blog post. I’m very much about batching what I do with my time. I set deadlines. We use a tool called CoSchedule, which is a WordPress plugin. It helps us to map out our content plan for a month, sometimes two or three months in advance and to assign tasks. We work as a team. I know what I have to write at certain times and then I may have to pass it over to Stacey who edits my content for me.

I’m a really big believer also that if you want to create great content, you need to consume it. This is something that I fell short on for a couple of years. It’s only more recently that I’ve started to re-consume content. Sometimes, it’s very easy to get very busy and not fill your own cup. I think consuming great content, one, is good because you will learn more but two, you will also pick up production ideas.

I’ve started listening to podcasts recently. Most of which have nothing to do with what I write about but I always come away from those podcasts with ideas from my own show.

I want to talk about completing content. This is a big area that I think most content creators could up their game in. Firstly, get help if you can afford it. This is Stacey and Darlene who edits my blogs for me now. Since giving this to someone else to do, we’ve produced a lot more content and a lot better content. If you can afford to get someone in to help read your content out loud, it’s amazing how many mistakes you’ll find. I find it particularly good if you’re reading it out loud to another person.

If I’ve got an important piece of content, I’ll ask my wife Vanessa listen to it as I read it to her. I know she’s not really listening but just the fact that she might be helps me to pick out all the mistakes that I would’ve been making.

This is something I think we all could lift our game in and it’s in polishing and making your content more visually pleasing and easier to consume. We don’t publish a blog post, we don’t publish show notes anymore without an image. Every post has to have at least one. Most of our posts have several images.

That’s not just because I’ve got a photography site, that’s also on ProBlogger, we’ve tested it. The post that have images get read at least 40% more than the post that don’t have images. The same with all of our social media now. Almost every tweet I do now has to have an image in it. They get retweeted significantly higher. They get more responses to them. It just works. You just have to have an image of some kind. Whether it be a diagram or a chart. Over time, you get to see which images are working well as well.

Spend time crafting those titles. The title is going to be pretty much what determines whether someone reads the opening line of your post. And then your opening line needs to be something you really need to polish as well. These are two places that I’m spending a lot of time in my content. I usually write my content first and then come back to the title and the opening line and then craft those and spend significant time on those areas.

Pay attention to your formatting, particularly your headline. It’s really important as well. People do not read content online. They scan it first and so if you can use headlines to tease them, they will then want to go back and fill in the gaps between the headlines. So really pay attention to that. Draw their eye down the page with images as well at key points, anywhere you want them to look.

Add depth to your content. Every time I go to Hit Publish, just before I do, I always ask myself and I’ve trained my team to ask themselves, could they add more meat to it? Could they make it a better post in some way? Maybe by adding in an example, maybe by telling a story or using an analogy, maybe by adding an opinion. It’s amazing how many blog posts go out about new technology and they have no opinion. It’s just here are the specifications of the new MacBook Pro and here’s a picture. That’s it.

Tell us why we should buy it. Whether it’s any good, who would be applicable for it, add your opinion. This is what makes your content unique. People aren’t reading your content for specifications. They want to know what you think. That’s what gets the conversation going as well.

Suggest further reading. We have good SEO benefits mentioned this morning about having links to your own content but also links out to other people’s content. It shows your audience that there’s more to do, there’s more to learn and that you know where to find that. That’s good for you own credibility. Also, it builds relationships with other sites when you’re linking to them as well.

Add quotes. It’s so easy to tweet someone and say, “Do you have any thoughts on this?” And then embed that tweet reply into your content. I email Seth Godin all the time. He didn’t know me from anywhere but he almost always responds to those sorts of emails. “Do you have one line to say about this topic? Thanks Seth.” I’ll borrow your authority and I’ll plug that into my content. It makes my content more useful and adds another opinion, another voice and shows your readers that you’re going to the extra mile in gathering different opinion for them.

Suggest something for your readers to go and do. This adds depth. I’ll show you some examples of how we do this on Digital Photography School. This is something that is just so easy to do. It’s so easy to embed something else. We again heard good SEO reasons for doing that. If you can keep people on the page longer, it helps your SEO ranking, also makes your content better. Just look at all the places you can get embeddable content these days.

We all know you can embed YouTube clips. That’s easy to do. Just do a search for your topic and find a video that related to what you’ve got to say. But there are so many other places you can get embeddable content. I judged a blogging competition for social media examiner recently and the blogs that won all used embeddable content. They mixed it up. They were embedding tweets. They were embedding Facebook page status updates. They were embedding videos. They were embedding audio clips. This new tool that I mentioned before, Anchor, you can embed that anchors that you create and the anchors that other people create as well. Give your readers different things to do while they’re on your site. It’s so easy to do.

Mix up your content. I was talking to a restaurateur down in Melbourne, a very well known one recently who’s had a top level restaurant now for 10 years. I was quite amazed when I heard that he’d been going for 10 years. He’s been at the top of the game for 10 years. I was like, “This game of having a restaurant, it’s very fickle. There’s always the new cool place down the road that everyone’s rushing off to.” I asked him, “How do you keep at the top of the game?” He said, “Basically, I reinvent myself every year. Sometimes two times a year.” He’s had four fit outs in that time. He reinvents his menu every year, several times. He actually does it seasonally. He’s always reinventing things.

The people who have come to this restaurant know what they’re going to get. They know the sort of the food that he has. They know the level of service. But he’s always constantly experimenting with new things. I think this is really true in this place, in this time where so much content are being created. There’s always new sites springing up.

Your readers need to understand that quality is always going to be high and the type of stuff you’re talking about is going to be consistent. But you need to mix up the type of content that you’re producing. I want to encourage you to do it in a number of ways. One is to produce content that has different styles to it. This is what I say to my team, “Every week, I want you to create content that informs, inspires, and interacts.” If you look at each of those blog posts that I’ve got up there, they’re all on exactly the same topic. Long exposure photography.

We publish the first one on Monday. It’s information. It’s a meaty article, a tutorial. To be honest, hardly anyone reads it on Monday. You know when they read it? They read it on Wednesday, after we publish an inspirational post and we link back to it. The inspirational post is 15 beautiful photos that we’ve curated. That post has hardly any text at all. It’s all about showing what could be. It’s all about showing our readers the type of photos they could take. It gives them a reason to go and read the tutorial. Inspire them and then drive them to the information.

At the end of the week, on Friday, Saturday, we give them a challenge. We say, “Go and take a photo using the technique you learned on Monday, looking at the photos that you saw on Wednesday. Go and try it for yourself and come back and share the photo with us.” We use Discuss as a communing tool, which allows embedding of photos in the comments. This really works. Both of those posts drive traffic back to the informational posts. We got extra paid views as a result of it.

The best thing though is that our readers actually learn something because they learn information, they’re inspired to use the information. They’re given a chance to implement what they learn. We all know that people learn best when they do. Inform, inspire, interact. 90% of our content is information but we sprinkle it. We season it with inspiration and interaction.

Another way to mix up your content is to try different formats. You’ll find over time that your audience will respond best to certain types of content and we’ve certainly worked out that information content is our best, we use a lot of guides, how to’s, tips, tutorials but we sprinkle it with stories.

Storytelling is another way of inspiring and some of our best posts have been more inspirational content telling stories. But there’s a whole list of different types of content that you need to constantly be experimenting and seeing what’s working with your audience. The same with different mediums.

For us, blog posts have been a big part of it. But more recently, I’ve started to get into more visual content particularly through our social media, infographics, and cheat sheets have really been working very well for us lately and live streaming as I said before. Actually, what I’m finding is live streaming so Periscoping everyday is driving people to my podcast and the podcast is driving people to the blog for some reason. That seems to be the flow of our readers. Just experiment with where you can meet new readers and where you can take them as a result of that.

I want to talk for a moment about this idea of know, like, and trust that opened this quite before. People do business with people that they know, like, and trust. So if you want people to do business with you, you want them to know, like, and trust you. How do you create content that takes them through this process? It will be different for everyone of us but I want to show some examples of what we do. This is an infographic. We didn’t actually create it. We curated it. We always link back to the source.

We find that infographics work very well as a first point of contact with our audience on Digital Photography School. Our audience share these like crazy. They can’t get enough of them. That’s good at getting known. People share that kind of content. But in and of itself, that doesn’t really help because people generally would bounce away from an infographic very quickly. What we do and you can see that underneath a highlighter, that we have further reading based on that infographic.

We used to just post the infographic and that was great for traffic, getting the eyeball. But since we started giving further readings that relates to that infographic, we’ve seen a lot more stickiness to the sight so highlight and underneath it, you can’t read it. It’s three articles on how to hold a camera, which is exactly what the infographic is about. We give them a meatier piece of content. That’s the content that people like. They begin to not only see you and know you. They begin to like you and trust you.

Underneath that, we have other articles for beginners because this is a topic that’s very beginner-y. But we can’t post infographics all day everyday. We have to go to the next level. You have to start asking yourself, what’s going to take people to the next level of liking us? Again, this is where we have more of our inspirational content. This is where storytelling is very powerful. Content that’s going to make people grow in their desire, in inspiration and motivation. Sprinkle that type of content.

But again, you’ll see there, I’ve highlighted links further into the sight. We’re always trying to get people to the content which helps them to trust us. That helps them to build credibility and authority for us. This is another type of content that helps likeability. It’s any kind of interactional. This is one of our challenges. We do them every weekend. Here is something for you to go away and do. Show us your work. People like to show off. People like to talk. We give them an opportunity to do that. That gives them a sense of belonging.

And then trust. These are meaty articles. That post there on the right, The Ultimate Guide To Learning How To Use Your First Digital SLR is like 6,000 words long. That’s a big piece of content but it grows authority. We’ve actually found that long form content is outperforming anything else on the sight at the moment. I don’t know if you can see that but that post has been shared over 149,000 times. It took a lot of work to get that piece of content together but it’s paying off because not only is it being shared, it’s growing trust. It’s growing credibility.

That piece of content, we tracked it, is responsible for a lot of people buying our ebooks than buying our products as a result of that. Okay, we know, like and trust. What about buy? Because we all want the sale, eventually. How do you actually get them to buy? What we’ve found is that our blog posts are not a very good place to get the buy. For our audience, it just doesn’t work at all. We actually tracked this ebook that we launched last year. It was responsible for about 5% of our sales, our blog content.

We just don’t sell blog content anymore. We sell for our email list. We’ve got an email list of about 800,000 now and it drives almost all of our sales. Social media just doesn’t convert for us at all. We don’t use social media or our blogging content, or even the podcast to sell. We use it to drive people to our newsletter.

This is what most people do on their blogs. They have their blog and then they have a sight wide opt in on the side bar. Get our cheat sheet or get our ebook, whatever it might be. This works, this is good but what’s even better is to have multiple opt ins. One of the trends we noticed last year was a lot of blogs now are using a library of opt ins and they’re matching the opt in that relates best to a certain category of content.

What’s happening even more this year, this is another shift that I’ve noticed is that cool kids are now creating opt ins for every blog post that they do or every podcast that they do. I think James mentioned or alluded to this earlier. This is what Amy Porterfield did. She interviewed me for her podcast a few months ago and she said to me, “Can I take three of your best articles from the blog, put them into a PDF, and then add some of my own thoughts to it? She created a very simple opt in for that podcast. She wouldn’t be promoting it anywhere else except for that episode.

This is what RazorSocial are doing in Cleary. He actually gives anyone who comes to his blog a PDF version of every blog post. You can just download a PDF version of the blog post but it’s behind an opt in. It’s converting really well for him. It’s a very easy way to create an opt in.

This is Jill from Screw the 9 to 5. They’ve started creating checklists or swipe files the relate to blog posts. They don’t do it for every blog post but certainly the ones that are meatier, the longer form content. They’re adding blog-post specific opt ins to them. I think we’ll see that just well a lot more and more in the next 12 months.

Talking about content events, as I look back over the last 12 years of my own blogging journey, I quite often live in Google Ad Analytics and I love just to look at what happens when there’s spikes in traffic came, just a good habit to get into. I noticed recently that a lot of the spikes in traffic in my site have happened around events or content events.

The first one was back in 2005 on ProBlogger. I was sitting in bed one night at 2:00AM and I had this little idea for a 31 day series of content on the blog. I was going to give a little bit of teaching everyday and then a little activity to go and do for my readers. I couldn’t go to sleep so I got up and I just wrote this blog post and said, “I’m going to do this thing. I’m going to start it tomorrow and I’m going to call it 31 Days To Build A Better Blog.” Put no thought into that idea at all.

I had no idea what the 31 days were going to be. I think I may have had a couple of ideas and I just went to bed and I slept easy. I’ve got it out of me. Put the blog post up, woke up the next morning, there was more comments on that post than I’ve ever had on a post before. I was like, “Okay, what’s day one going to be?” Quickly, I came up with day one and it started this little series of content over the first 31 days.

Traffic was two or three times higher that month than I’ve ever seen before. I was like, “What is going on here?” Essentially, I was doing the same thing I was doing every other day. But because I called it something and ran it over a defined period, people wanted to join it. There was a sense of an event happening and people like to join events.

I did the same series in 2007. This time I put an opt in around it. I said you can get an email every day and essentially, it was the same thing, almost exactly the same content. It was two or three times bigger than the first year. I did it in 2009 again and this time, we had a little community area. Today, I’d probably use a Facebook group or something like that. People really responded well in not only getting the content and the task, but coming together and sharing their knowledge.

This event idea really took off. At the end of 2009, my readers said, “Could you give us this in a PDF or an ebook? We’ll even pay you for it.” I was like, “No, you won’t.” They were like, “Yeah, we will.” I put it into a PDF and I created 31 Days To Build A Better Blog, The ebook. 12,000 people bought in the first three weeks after launching it, at $20 each. I’m like, “What in the world happened?”

Events are very powerful. People like to join things. Any sort of a defined period is a very powerful thing. I’m going to let you work through this slide later when you get it but there’s a whole heap of benefits of doing an event. I was going to say I think it’s about joining. It’s about something social. It’s about doing something together, achieving something together that can be very powerful to do.

Here are a few examples. This is my wife. She does events. She actually did her first event two weeks into her first blog. She had no one reading her blog at all. I think there was like 10 readers. By the end of that week, she had 200 readers a day because she did this event. It was just a very simple event. She told her readers to take a photo of themselves wearing a certain color everyday for a week and post in on Instagram with a hashtag. It went crazy. She does these events now every three or so months and every time, it significantly increases her traffic.

This is one around fitness. You can do this in pretty much any niche. This is one around organizing your pantry of all things, an event that this blogger did. She had thousands of people to the pantry challenge together. This is a 52 weeks event on finances and saving up money. You can really do it in lots of ways. If you’ve ever been to Bali, this is the braiding your hair challenge. Literally, Kristina did. She does 30 days of braiding your hair and she turned it into an ebook at the end of it.

People joined in and then she used that as the launch of her new product. Any kind of an event worked really well. Again, I’ll let you read through those. I don’t like bullet points but I thought it would be a quick way of getting the information to you and allow me to get on to my last two points.

This is the biggest challenge I think, for us as content creators today. How do you differentiate yourself? We live in a time where, I think I saw the stats the other day, there’s around 74 million plus blogs on wordpress.com. That’s just the wordpress.com version and there’s the wordpress.org version, which is even more popular, then there’s Tumblr and Blogger. There’s so much content being created all the time. Looking at podcasts, app store, there’s so many podcast out there. There’s so much content being produced.

It’s probably one of the most important things that we need to really get our heads around as content creators. How do we stand out? Seven quick tips to do it. Firstly, and this is the hardest one. It’s almost impossible to choose a unique topic but it still is kind of possible. Firstly, you could be first and it was helpful to be one of the first people talking about blogging and making money from blogging. But this is pretty much impossible. There’s 1,000 blogs on almost every topic you can think about.

But you can be the first one to combine two topics together. This is Manolo, the shoe blogger. He started blogging in 2007 and there were thousands of blogs on shoes already back in 2007. But he was the first person to blog about celebrities and their shoes. He went viral. He went crazy. He was the first one to bring two topics together.

This is Jen and Jadah from Simple Green Smoothies. Jada spoke at our event last year. She told the story about how she had I think four or five different blogs, none of them worked whatsoever until she noticed Green Smoothies starting to take off. And so she started Simple Green Smoothies. They have hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers, hundreds of thousands of readers to their blog. They built a massive business around Simple Green Smoothies.

This is Donna Moritz, some of you will know, she’s an Aussie blogger. She had a social media blog as did thousands of other people. It was pretty much the same content, talking about all things social media. And then she noticed visual content was starting to grow and become more important. She noticed the post that she was writing on visual content started to really take off so she killed all her other posts and just focused on visual content. Jumped on that emerging trend.

Serve and ignore demographic. I think this is a very powerful thing because yes, there is a blog on every topic out there but there’s a whole heap of ignored demographics. Has anyone come across Nerd Fitness? This is a great blog if you’re a nerd. There’s tens of thousands of fitness blogs out there but they all look the same. They’ve all got chiselled guys with six packs on the front and they all speak in the same language that I have no idea what they’re talking about.

Steve Kamb decided to start a fitness blog for nerds. He gamified getting fit. Nerds want to get fit too but we’ve been ignored, we’ve been left out of that whole thing. Did I say we? Yeah. This is a great example of serving and ignoring. He’s really presenting the same information. He just changes the language and he’s branding it in a way that is relevant for the ignored niche.

There are all kinds of ignored niche, whether it be gender, disability, life circumstances, age that you are. I came across a few bloggers recently who’ve been creating blogs for seniors and retirees, who have felt left out of certain niches as well. There are all kind of ignored demographics.

Use a different medium or format. A lot of you read The Verge. When The Verge started, almost every tech blog had been successful the nerd, The Verge was using short form content. Engadget, Gizmodo, TechCrunch, they were publishing 10 to 20, sometimes 30 or 40 blog posts a day and they were almost all one or two paragraphs long The Verge came out now publishing 4,000, 5,000 word articles.

They stood out because they changed the format. This is Brian Fanzo. He was a social media expert as were thousands of other people but he spotted this live streaming trend going on and so he now is flying around the world talking about live streaming and he’s made a name for himself because he chained the medium that he was using to talk about the same topics.

Publish in a different pace. Everyone here probably knows John Lee Dumas. There are lots of entrepreneurial blogs out there but no one was doing daily. I don’t know how he does it. I don’t know how he keeps us but he changed the pace of publishing content. As a result, that’s one of the reasons that he stood out.

This is Dosh Dosh, a blog that was around years ago now. He started I think in 2007. It was a blog about making money blogging. This is three years after ProBlogger started and by this stage, there were thousands of blogs on how to make money from blogging, Macky from Dosh Dosh decided to slow it down. He didn’t go faster. He went slower and longer form. He was publishing at one stage, one piece of content every month. It was long, meaty content that everyone anticipated. When he published that post, it got shared like crazy. Macky’s down at it again. You’ve got to get his latest post that would take you a week to read it and implement the content. It was so meaty but he slowed it right down. It became a part of his brand. Now, he’s disappeared and no one knows where he went.

Right for a different level of expertise, this is what I did with Digital Photography School. There were thousands of blogs for photographers in 2007 when I started. It was a stupid topic, it was too late. Digital photography has been around forever. But most of those blogs have been writing for experts. Most of those blogs had this culture on them. If you turned up and asked a beginner question, you would get laughed out of the comment section.

It wasn’t because the bloggers themselves didn’t like beginners. It was because the audience had all grown up and become intermediate and advanced users. I started a blog for beginners. One of my first articles was how to hold a camera. The most basic thing you could think of. I almost didn’t publish it because it was so basic. I was embarrassed to publish the post. It’s now had over 800,000 people view the post.

People need that kind of information. That’s the kind of information that they’re too embarrassed to ask their friends. Those serve a different level of expertise.

Lastly, I want to talk about refining your voice. Something is really hard to teach on. How do you develop your voice? Partly, it comes from experimentation but it’s something that you can make some choices around as well.

Some of you might know Jeff Goins. He’s a blogger about writing and he’s written some great books. He says you can write in any of these five voices on pretty much any topic, any niche. The professor is someone who researches, who pretty much spends their whole life dedicating to learning about a particular topic and then they present a hypothesis and they really teach at a high level about a topic.

The artist is someone who’s not really interested in teaching, they’re just interested in beauty and aesthetics and inspiration. They’re looking for the beauty in a topic and you can probably think of bloggers who do that or podcasters. But I don’t really teach you anything but you just come away from it feeling motivated and inspired.

The prophet is someone who’s interested in telling you the truth. The cold, hard, ugly truth. They bust myths, sometimes they’re not that popular but you know they’ll tell it like it is. Sometimes, they’re not that sensitive in their language that they use but they just get to the point. I reckon someone in this room might be a prophet.

The journalist is someone who curates. They gather information from different sources and then presents that information as a story.

The celebrity isn’t someone who’s famous. They’re someone who’s charismatic. It’s more about the person and what they think about a topic or how they live their life, their personality, that’s big in that particular topic.

Jeff argues that you can pretty much take any of these or a combination of these as your voice. I reckon you could add a couple of more at least. You can be the companion. You can be the person who journeys with someone, who may be just a step ahead of them in the journey. You can be the mentor. You can be the entertainer and talk about the funny stuff that’s going on in an industry or niche. You can be the reviewer. You can be the curator. You can be the storyteller, the guide, the teacher, the thought leader or something else.

The more you do it, the better you’ll work out what your voice is and really, I would suggest that you look around at what everyone else is doing and try and find the gaps in that as well. It needs to be who you are and it’s hard to write in a voice that you’re not. But if you can find a gap that reflects who you are, that’s a very powerful thing.

Again, when I started Digital Photography School, I wanted to teach, I wanted to give people a how to, but I didn’t want to be a professor. There were plenty of them already so I decided to be the companion. I decided to be someone who’s like here’s what I learned, try this. I’ll be a friend who teaches you. Think about your voice.

The last thing I want to say, I’ve got a few minutes left to say it. I don’t need them, is to keep moving. This is just a general piece of advice I guess, for entrepreneurs. You’ve got to keep moving. Pay attention to the little ideas you get that keep you awake at night like I paid attention to, back in 2005, when I couldn’t sleep at night. And don’t just pay attention to those ideas, do something with them. Get up out of bed and write a blog post. Put it out there. See what happens. Look for the sparks that energize you and then test those sparks and look to see what happens. Look for the sparks that energize other people.

When I put that blog post out there about 31 days to build a better blog, I didn’t know what would happen but I followed the energy. I saw that my readers were responding and so I went with it. I went hard at it. And then I repeated it and I evolved it. And then I repeated it and I evolved it again. Now, I turned into the product.

You know what? The best thing, yes all those sales of that book, I think I looked a couple of weeks ago and we sold 60,000 copies of that book now. It’s going to be a profitable venture. I’m really glad I paid attention to that spark of energy and did something with it at 2:00AM that night. It also led to a whole other journey. Whilst ebooks may not be the best model, maybe we need to all move towards subscriptions, I don’t know, but ebooks and paying attention to that spark was something that really was powerful for me. I’d spend on a whole heap of other product ideas that I’ve created since.

We’ve now published about 40 ebooks. We’ve now sold almost half a million ebooks since 2009 when I first created that first one. It’s opened up this whole new way of doing things. I put it all back to the fact that I paid attention to a spark of energy and I enacted, I kept moving.

I love this little quote from Jadah Sellner that I’ll leave you with. “Take imperfect action.” It’s very easy to come to a conference like this and be overwhelmed by the people on the stage, telling you their stories of all the things that they’ve done and looking around you at the room and all the other people taking notes about the things they’re going to enact in hearing these stories. The thing that you’ve got to realize is that none of us really know what we’re doing and we’re all just taking imperfect actions and seeing what happens as a result of that.

There are plenty of failures that we all have along the way but somewhere in the midst of the things that we do comes life and comes profit. That’s all I’ve got to say today. Thank you for the time.

I hope you enjoyed that talk. I do recommend the Superfast Business conference. James Schramko also has a podcast. If you do a search for Superfast Business, you’ll find him. He’s a very smart, straight talking kind of guy. Another Aussie accent to add to your playlist if you’re not from Australia or if you are as well.

Thanks for listening. Don’t forget to join the Facebook group, problogger.com/group.

As promised at the top of the show, some further listening for you. If you want to listen to a podcast on how to choose a niche, go back to episode 59. If you want to hear a podcast about avatars and thinking about your audience, go back and listen to a really early one, episode 33. If you want to dig into that exercise for thinking about how to change your audience’s life, go back even further to episode 11. That was part of our 31 day series. If you want to dig into more about how to come up with great ideas to create content, go and listen to episode 84, which was a part of a series that I did. It was followed up on episode 86 on how to create content. I really dig into some strategies for thinking about how to get into the habit of creating good content. Episode 87 was also about completing content, finishing things off.

Lastly, if you want to learn more about embeddable content, I’d go a lot deeper into that topic in episode 152. There’s lots more in the ProBlogger archives there so dig around and if you do want to get those links, go over to the show notes, which are at problogger.com/podcast/213.

Lastly, thanks so much for those of you who left reviews over the last week in iTunes and other podcasting apps. I am loving those reviews and a few good ones came in this week as well.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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Oct 02 2017

1hr 8mins

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136: The Ultimate Guide to Creating Evergreen Content for Your Blog

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Why Evergreen Content is the Best Investment of Time for a Blogger

“If you could only write one type of content on your blogs – what would it be?” I was asked this question while on a Q&A panel back in 2007 while at a conference in Las Vegas.

It’s a question that I go back to again and again, and the answer hasn’t changed a bit. I also think writing this type of content is why I have had success over the last 13 years.

One of the most important things I’ve done in my blogging has been to focus on writing one particular form of content above all others – that being evergreen content.

Evergreen content is content that stays fresh for your readers. It’s as relevant years after being written as it was the day it was written.

In Today’s Episode Examples of Evergreen Content

This episode is available to listen to on iTunes here.

Examples of Evergreen Content Submitted by Facebook Followers

Further Resources on Evergreen Content the Best Investment of Time You’ll Ever Make as a Blogger

Types of Posts That Can Be Evergreen

Different Mediums


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Hey there, it’s Darren from ProBlogger and welcome to Episode 136.

“If you could only write one type of content on your blogs forever, what would it be?” This is the question that I was asked back in 2007 while I was in Las Vegas at a blogging conference. I was in this Q&A Panel and I was asked this question by someone on the floor, I wish I knew who it was because it’s a question that I’ve gone back to time and time again. I’ve particularly gone back to the answer that I gave on that particular day.

The answer I gave that day, I hadn’t really thought a whole heap about. It was just something that came to mind in the moment as I was asked the question. But in answering the question, I unlocked a bit of a secret. I had this realization that a lot of what I’d done over the last three years of my blogging already had set me up and had helped me to grow my blogs to that point.

I’ve been blogging for four or five years at that point and in that moment in answering that question, I realized what I’d been doing. It really shaped the years that have followed. Over the last almost fourteen years of blogging now, I have focused almost 95% of my time creating a certain type of content and that’s what I want to talk about today. What type of content should you be focusing your time upon creating?

If you really want a bang for your buck, if you really want a good return on investment in terms of the time that you put into content, I want to share with you the type of content that I think you should be at least dedicating some time to every week.

You can find today’s show notes and there’s going to be quite a few of them today because this will be a meaty podcast, I’ve got a lot to go through with you today. I want to share with you what this type of content is. I want to tell you why it’s so powerful. I want to give you some examples of this type of content, a variety of different examples both from my blogs and also some of my readers. I also want to share with you some ideas on how to come up with this type of content for your own blog. There’s a variety of different approaches that you can have.

Make yourself comfortable, grab yourself a beverage, and go over to problogger.com/podcast/136 where I will include all the show notes and there will be links to all the examples that I give you today. Thanks for listening and let’s get into this particular episode.

What type of content is the best type of content to focus upon creating for your blog? Whilst there is never a single answer to this type of question because every blog is a little bit different, I want to talk about the approach that I have taken with the vast majority of the content that I’ve created. Over the last thirteen years, I tried to work out the other day how many pieces of content I’ve published on my blogs. I don’t really know because my first blogs do not exist anymore and I can’t actually see how many pieces of content are there, but it’s well over 20,000 pieces of content that I’ve created just on my blogs. You can add into that a whole heap of social media posts as well.

There’s over 8,000 posts alone on ProBlogger, blogpost and podcast added together. There’s over 6,000 on Digital Photography School. Just on my main two blogs, there’s 14,000 pieces of content there and then I’ve got a whole heap of other content on previous blogs that I’ve had as well.

One of the things I’ve done in preparation for today’s podcast is look back over some of the best content that I’ve created in terms of how many people have viewed it. One of the things that I’ve noticed as I look back at the most read content that I’ve created is that the vast majority of it is what I would call evergreen content.

Evergreen content is a terminology that you may have heard before. For those of you who don’t, evergreen content is content that stays fresh for your readers. It’s as relevant today years after being written as it was on the day that it was written. It doesn’t date I guess would be another way to describe it.

I want to say right upfront, I’m sure that there are plenty of examples of blogs that are very successful, that don’t focus upon evergreen content. I’m not saying that this is the only way to create a blog is to create evergreen content. I’ve actually had a blog, one of my first commercial blogs that was very much the opposite. It was very now content, it was about digital cameras and what was being released today. It was all about the new technologies. There’s plenty of examples of blogs that do well with that sort of more now focused content.

As I look at my most successful blogs, the content that has been the basis for those success has been evergreen content. I’m going to share with you a whole heap of different examples of that type of content from both ProBlogger, Digital Photography School. If you’re looking at the show notes, you’ll also see I’m including some links to some of my readers’ evergreen content as well to give you some examples of that, hopefully to stimulate some ideas for your own blog.

I’m not the only one who things that evergreen content is great, there’s been many blog posts written around the web for that and you can do a search for evergreen content and find a whole heap of great advice on it. I want to encourage you to listen to this really short snippet from Tim Ferriss’ Podcast. I’m using this with permission from Tim, thank you Tim for allowing me to share it. This comes from his 78th episode, it’s from May 27, 2015. It’s a really good episode where Tim is asked a whole heap of questions by his readers. In this particular segment, he’s asked how he would build his blog audience again if he was just starting out today.

“If you’re building an audience, the most labor efficient way to build an audience over time is to have evergreen content. I write long pieces that will be more valuable from an SEO real estate standpoint two years from the day I write it compared to the week it launches, if that makes sense.

Were you to look at my back catalog and the stats—I’m on WordPress VIP—or Google Analytics, you would see that my most popular post that each get hundreds of thousands of visits per month were written several years ago. That’s very much by design, I’m not upset by that because I fully expect that some of the articles I write this year, for instance my post on Practical Thoughts on Suicide which is a very intense post, I expect that will continue to gather steam and be spread around and shared and a year from now will be right in the Top 10 rankings which is very important to me.”

Thanks again, Tim, for allowing us to share that snippet. I do recommend that you go and check out Episode 78 of Tim’s podcast. I’ll link to it in today’s show notes as well because Tim does go on to talk a little bit more about long form content which, the two elements for him, evergreen and long form content. That’s certainly a powerful approach.

Today, I just want to really focus in on evergreen content. This is content, as Tim says, it’s going to be as valuable in a couple of years time, perhaps be even more valuable and getting more traffic in a couple of year’s time than perhaps it is on the day that he publishes it.

Why is evergreen content a great investment? I think it should be already seeing it. It continues to serve your readers as much in the future as it does the days that you write it. The value that you’re creating. That is a powerful thing to know that the piece of content that you’re going to publish today is going to have a positive impact upon people in ten year’s time potentially is a pretty amazing thing. That piece of content has the ability to make the world a better place for a longer period of time. That’s purely just from an altruistic kind of perspective, I think that’s a great thing.

In terms of traffic, and that’s what Tim’s really talking about here, it’s something that will continue to be searched for again and again. If you choose the right topics, something that is relevant today but also will continue to be relevant in the future, I’ll give you some examples of these in a moment. That potential lead can bring in as much traffic today. If you pick the right topic in an area that’s growing, you might be spotting a trend within your niche that you think is going to be the next big thing for the next ten years and it’s actually going to grow, then that is even better than something that’s just sort of already plateaued.

Evergreen content is the type of content that you can refer people from future blog posts back to. Many of the examples that I’ll give you a little bit later, pieces of content that I’ve written on Digital Photography School and ProBlogger which are kind of cornerstone pieces of content that I continue to drive traffic back to from my future posts. It’s really useful to have those types of pieces of content in your archives ready to go so that you can link it back to those types of things.

Evergreen content is the type of content that you can link to from your navigation, from your menus, from your side bars. If you go to problogger.net right now, you’ll see in the side bar of our blog post that from those blog posts we actually have sort of little banner ads for some of our evergreen pieces of content.

We have a post that I wrote a few months ago now called How to Start a Blog in Five Easy Steps. That’s linked to from every blog post on ProBlogger, that’s an evergreen piece of content. I know that piece of content isn’t going to date. It may date slightly in terms of some of the technologies, but I can update that.

My How to Make Money Blogging post is an evergreen piece of content. I’ve had that live on ProBlogger now for many, many years. Yes, I do update it from time to time, tweak it a little bit, but it’s an evergreen piece of content that I continue to drive traffic to from blog posts but also from our navigation.

Evergreen content is the type of content that you can continue to share and re-share in social media. This is one of the frustrating things about having a blog that has very much “now” content, that dates very quickly, is that you may have a very short window that you can be sharing the content that you’re creating.

If I do a review of a new camera, I can share that on social media for maybe a couple of months and it will still be relevant. Six months later, that camera has already been superseded by a new one, Canon will release a new one every six or so months so supersede their old ones. I can’t really continue to re-share that review.

But if I have a blog post that is not dated at all, I can share that every month for the next ten years if it’s the right piece of content. Every month might be a little bit overkill but many of the pieces of content that I am sharing on Digital Photography School’s Facebook page were written ten years ago and haven’t been really changed much at all since that point because they’re on topics that are still as relevant today. That gives you a growing library of content that you can continue to re-share. If you use a tool like Meet Edgar, which we use on our Twitter streams, that can become a very automated thing. It can really help you to cut down the work that you’re doing in terms of the sharing of content.

Evergreen content is the type of content that once you have it and it’s working in one format, you can also repurpose into other formats. For example, a couple of the episodes that I’ve done over the last few months here on the podcast started out as blog posts, evergreen pieces of content that I’d already published on the blog. Once you’ve got an evergreen piece of content that’s working, one of the things you should be considering is what other mediums could I be repurposing that content into?

Evergreen content is also the type of content that you’ll find other bloggers will want to link to as well. That’s a good thing for you as well.

There’s a whole heap of reasons as to why evergreen content is well worth investing your time into.

How much of the content in my archives does fit this category? As I look back at the content and look at how it’s performed over time, many times it’s very steady in terms of the graph that we see in Google Analytics. It steadily tends to grow over time. I want to give you a couple of examples of this from Digital Photography School to contrast two types of content, the evergreen versus the now.

Last year on Digital Photography School, we published a post that was all about Adobe announcing that they released a new version of Lightroom, Lightroom CC. We did a blog post on this. This is what I would classify as now content, this was big news in our community, Lightroom is the biggest post processing tool that our readers use. It was massive news. The post did really well for us. In the first week that that post went live, we had twelve-thousand page views. It was really good, it was a successful piece of content. The first day it went live, it had about three thousand page views. Later in the week when we sent our newsletter, it had three-thousand five-hundred, four-thousand page views, all during that week had a lot. Twelve-thousand in the first week. That’s what I would consider a successful post in its first week.

But then, traffic tailed off. As I look back on it, it’s a bit over a year since that post was published. That post yesterday had two readers. One of them was me going back to have a look at the post, so it had really one reader. Since the time it was published, after the first week, it’s had probably a total of about a thousand page views in a year. Really, most of that came in the second and third week after it went live.

That’s an example of a piece of content that dates and that’s pretty typical as I look at reviews of cameras, as I look at posts about breaking news. If you’ve got a blog that has that type of content, you’ll probably see the same trends. You might be able to lengthen the amount of time that people go back to that by re-sharing on social media a few times but it’s the type of content that doesn’t tend to attract much traffic.

I want you to contrast that pattern of traffic with another post that I wrote back in 2007. This post is again on Digital Photography School and I’ll link to both of these in the show notes today. This was a post which was an introduction to a concept in photography called ISO. If you’ve got a film camera back at home, you’ll remember that film used to have ISO over a certain number. This is a blog post which explains what ISO means and what it particularly means for digital photography today.

The day that post went live back in 2007, the blog was a smaller blog back then. It had 100 page views. Then, it tapered off. It actually went down after that first week, after it appeared in the news, it kind of tapered off. I was getting about 40 to 50 visitors a day. Fairly similar pattern to the second and third week to the Lightroom post that I just shared with you.

But then, things began to grow. Twelve months after that blog post was published, in 2008, it was getting two-hundred to three-hundred page views per day. Two years after it was published, it was getting seven-hundred page views a day. Three years after it was published, it was getting one-thousand page views a day. Since that time, it’s remained at about that level between one-thousand and one-thousand five-hundred per day with the exception of a few days where I’ve re-shared it on social media because we do re-share this post at least a couple of times a year on Facebook because it’s as relevant today as it used to be. On those days, it can get up to ten-thousand if things really go well for it in a particular day.

As I look back, since 2007, that blog post has continued to grow. It’s kind of plateaued a little bit now at a thousand to one-thousand five-hundred per day. That’s kind of where it’s still sitting today. As I look back over that time, it’s had over three-million page views to it. I wrote the post in 2007, it’s getting ten to fifteen times the traffic today as it did on the day that I published it. It continues to be valuable for my readers, it continues to drive traffic largely from search engines, but it’s also getting traffic every time I re-share it on social media and other people share it on social media. It’s the type of post that other people link to when they want to explain to their readers what ISO is which only continues to help it to grow.

Both posts probably took me about an hour, maybe two hours to write. The first one, the Lightroom one, was actually one of our authors who wrote it. I don’t know exactly how long they took to write it, but that post was around eleven-hundred words long. My post on ISO, the evergreen one, was seven-hundred words long. They were fairly significant pieces of content but they probably only took a couple of hours to write.

Obviously, the investment of time and effort on the ISO post, the evergreen piece of content, was much, much better than on the Lightroom post, the now piece of content. That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with writing about the issues of today, things that will date. We do do those types of posts. The vast majority of what we focus our attention on on both Digital Photography School and ProBlogger is evergreen content. It just does not even compare in terms of the payoff from the investment of time.

What I want to do now is share with you a few examples of evergreen pieces of content because I know every time I bring this topic up, some people say to me, “I just can’t do evergreen content on my blog.” I want to share with you some of the examples of content that I’ve created on both Digital Photography School and ProBlogger partly to give you a bit of an example of some of the types of things that were done and some of them might stimulate some ideas for you.

After I give you the examples, I want to give you some tips on how to identify evergreen opportunities for content particularly on those blogs where it’s not as obvious. Let’s start with some examples.

Yesterday, I spent a bit of time going back into Google Analytics and I pulled up the Top 10 posts on ProBlogger and Digital Photography School in terms of traffic. I pulled out the Top 5 from both ProBlogger and Digital Photography School to share with you. Let’s kind of work back through these from the most popular.

The most popular post that I’ve published on Digital Photography School is a post called Ten Ways To Take Stunning Portraits. I’ll link to all of these in the show notes at problogger.com/podcast/136 where you can take a look at these. This particular post is pretty typical of a lot of the posts that we’ve got over on Digital Photography School. It’s a fairly introductory type guide to a subtopic in Digital Photography School. We talk about Landscape Photography, Macro Photography, but Portrait Photography is probably the biggest category of posts that we have on the blog. This post is an introduction to Portrait Photography.

I have a lot of posts on Portrait Photography but this one kind of gets into some of the basics of that big topic. The post is long-ish, it’s probably around one-thousand four-hundred words. It’s not a massive long-mega post, but it’s meaty enough that there’s some content there. I do find that search engines do tend to like content that is a little bit longer. Anything over a thousand words is going to be treated as sort of a slightly more meaty post.

You look at that post and you’ll see it’s in the list format. It covers ten points and for each point, I only really touch on the idea. I don’t go into great depth for each point. For each point, I link to further reading. This is a technique I like to use, I’ve talked about this on the podcast before. I would classify this as a sneeze post, the idea is that you’re sneezing people deep within your blog in all different directions. For everyone of the ten points that I make in the post, there’s a paragraph or two and then there’s usually a picture to help give it some visual interest and then I sneeze people deep into the archives. Hopefully by the end of reading this post, I might’ve read three or four or maybe all ten of the further pieces of reading which does increase the chance that they will subscribe as well to the blog.

This post really worked really well because it was an introductory type post to a major category on the blog. I’ve done this same thing for Landscape Photography, Macro Photography, Wedding Photography. All of those main things that we find our readers come for, there’s this type of post on the site. It’s a topic that is not going away. People will always continue to take pictures of people and the principles that I talk about are evergreen principles. They’re not current trends in Portrait Photography, these are tips that you can use today and hopefully you’ll still be able to use in ten years.

I think this post worked because it’s got some stuff in it that you can apply immediately after reading it. It’s actionable, it’s practical, and there’s more there if you want to read. There’s a further reading on each of the posts.

Another reason that this one did well is that I followed it up with a second post, so there’s another post and you’ll see it at the bottom of the post as an update, Ten More Tips Or Ways To Take Stunning Photos. The reason that helps its evergreen nature is that that second post drove people back to the first one. People, when they link to my content here, this particular post, they have to link to both of them. That just drives more traffic as well.

I think the last reason that this one particularly worked is because it was written in a fairly accessible style. People like lists, it’s scannable, there’s lots of images, it’s not too heavy. That’s the first post. It’s a teaching post I guess you would say, an introductory teaching post to the topic.

The second one I want to share with you is a little bit different. It is titled The Rule of Thirds. This, I would say, is a little bit different for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s not as long. It’s only about six-hundred words long so it’s getting towards the shorter end of the type of post that we write on the site. You don’t have to write long form content, I know Tim if you listened to the rest of his podcast, you’ll see that he writes fifteen page long articles. His podcasts go for an hour, two hours some of them. He really believes in long form content and I do too but I also think that you can do evergreen content that is shorter form as well. Again, it’s not super short but six-hundred words, we’re getting a bit shorter now.

The other thing that this post is different for is that it’s not a teaching post, really. It does teach you but it’s more of a definition post. It’s not a how to do it type post like the first one, it’s more of a what is a type post. The rule of thirds is a principle of photography, many of you will have been taught it as kids, it’s a rule of composition. It does touch on how to apply the rule, it’s more about defining what this rule is. I find that definition posts are a great way of doing evergreen content in most niches. I would say there are terminologies, there are phrases that we use that an introductory type reader, a beginner reader doesn’t understand.

I would suggest that most of the readers that have come to this post over the years have typed into Google what is the rule of thirds. We come up number one or two depending on how Google’s ranking is on the day for that particular type of term.

On ProBlogger, we do posts like this as well. One of the good pieces of content didn’t make Top 10 but we get a lot of traffic to on ProBlogger is a post that I wrote called What Is A Blog? You might think that’s the most silly post to write but it’s amazing how many people type that into Google.

Other terms that are relevant for your niche that you could write a post defining those words or explaining what those types of things are. This really can drive a lot of traffic. That post, the rule of thirds post, has had over two and a half million people come to it.

I got a third example, another one from Digital Photography School is a post called How To Make An Inexpensive Light Tent. Again, link to it in the show notes. This one’s around eleven-hundred words long. This is a classic step by step post. It’s teaching people how to do something, lots of images at each step along the way.

This post worked for a number of reasons. One, it’s a teaching post. Again, this is what I like to do. I like to teach people how to do things. Anything that’s a step by step guide works very well and these DIY projects really work for us as well.

The other reason that I know this post has worked is a lot of our readers came back to it again. That just drives people back again and again over time. I know a number of our readers bookmarked this particular post. When they first read it, they didn’t want to make it straight away but they came back to it later. It’s the type of thing that they share as well which really does help with that evergreen nature of it.

For some reason, this post really lived on in the minds of a lot of our readers and I continued to today see people sharing this post on Twitter with their friends. I guess if it comes up in conversation that one of their friends is wanting to have a light tent which is just a piece of equipment for photography, I guess it just comes to mind for people. So if you can create something that’s memorable and that people will refer back to again and again, that can work particularly well.

Example number four is a post called Long Exposure Photography, 15 Stunning Examples. I wanted to include this one because it’s only two-hundred words long. This is really short form content here. I guess it is longish in some ways because it’s got images in it. This post is one that I have shared on the podcast before, it’s just fifteen inspirational images that illustrate a particular technique in photography.

Evergreen content doesn’t’ have to be a teaching post, it doesn’t even have to have a lot of words, it can be purely image. I just wanted to include this one because it is an example of something that is a little bit different but it continues to be evergreen. Those images, if you choose the right images, they can live on as being something that inspires people for many years to come. I guess in some ways this is a bit of a case study post. Here’s what other people have done with this technique.

Number five, this is the last one I’ll give you from Digital Photography School. I want to share some ProBlogger ones with you next. This one is called Posing Guide – 21 Samples Poses to Get You Started with Photographing Women. This is nine-hundred words long, getting a little longer here. But again, this one has lots of images. It’s got twenty-one images in it. This was actually part of a series of blog posts. Again, it’s another example where evergreen content within a series, or the links from one post to another, can really work very well. You end up with quite a large collection. I think we had eight or nine different posts in this series. We had Posing Guide – 21 Sample Poses To Help You with photographing women, men, couples, kids, and different situations as well.

Again, this is an example where it’s words and images together. It’s not so much a teaching post, it’s more of a how I did it or a case study type post. The other thing that we found with this post is that it’s one that people save to their iPads and took out with them when they’re photographing women so they can show people the particular poses. If you can create something that people will read more than once, that increases the evergreen nature of it as well and increases the amount of pageviews that that particular post will get. That post had around two-million people hit it. I think it was published back in 2010, so it’s about five or six years old now.

Five more examples, these ones will come from ProBlogger.

The next one I’ll talk about is one called Can You Really Make Money Blogging – 7 Things I Know About Making Money Blogging. Many of you have seen this post over on ProBlogger because it’s one of the most read posts that we’ve ever done. It’s a longish post, it’s about two-thousand words long, fairly long form content there. This is an example of a frequently asked question. I think if you can identify any frequently asked question within your niche, any question that you get from your readers via email or comments or any critique that you have of your particular niche. I saw a lot of people saying you can’t really make money blogging so this was my answer to that statement or to those questions.

It’s a list post so there’s seven things I know about this particular topic. It’s the type of post that I link back to constantly from other posts on ProBlogger. You will see me link to it, you will see me mention it in podcasts. I link back to it and that increases the evergreen nature of it by getting people back to that post again and again. Every time you get people back to the post, it increases the chances that you will be shared again or it might be linked to which then helps your SEO. It’s one of those things that can snowball over time as your post grows.

The other thing I’ll tell you about this one is a bit of a myth busting post. If there’s a myth within your industry that won’t go away, that’s an ideal topic that you should be writing about because it’s evergreen.

The next post I want to talk about briefly is my mega post, one of the longest posts I’ve ever written called The Ultimate Guide to Making Money with the Amazon Affiliate Program. Again, this is one that you will probably have seen if you’ve been reading ProBlogger for a while because it continues to rank really well in Google and it gets shared heaps. I know Amazon actually shared this with a lot of their affiliates because it was such a mega post, it’s seven-thousand seven-hundred words long. As a result of being so long, people bookmark it, they save it for later, they come back to it, they save it in Facebook which must be a signal to Facebook that it ranks well. It’s a type of post that people share like crazy, it’s been linked to a lot from different blogs including Amazon themselves. It’s also something I refer back to time and time again. Those things all come together to make it something that’s quite powerful.

A few of the techniques that I mention in this particular post have slightly dated, I don’t do them anymore. I updated this post and that’s one of the things I’ll talk about in a moment. You can actually link from the evergreen nature of a post by changing it. I’m totally fine with that and I’ll talk a little bit more about that in a moment.

The eighth one that I want to share with you quickly now is a post called How to Craft a Blog Post – 10 Crucial Points to Pause. This was a post that is a little bit different to some of the others because it’s an introduction to a series of posts that I published over several weeks. If you go and look at it, the post itself is just the introduction, it just raises what I’m going to do next. And then, I link to all the other ten posts in the series.

As I release new posts, I would update this post to include the link to it. It’s kind of like the hub of a series. It doesn’t have a heap of content in it of itself, about eight-hundred words, it’s not tiny. It acts more as a central hub for the rest of the series. Again, it’s on a topic that’s evergreen, how to write a blog post. The ten things that I mention are all as relevant today as they were back in 2008 when I published this post. It’s one of those ones that has really steadily grown in terms of the traffic that has come to this post but also to the other ten posts in the series as well.

I’ll link to this one particularly from the portals around ProBloggers as well so I’m not only relying upon Google to send traffic to it but I’m also sending traffic to it from navigation areas and our portals on the blog as well. I think that’s really important to think about not just relying upon Google but actually helping get people to these evergreen posts as well.

The ninth one that I want to share with you is a little bit different again, it’s called How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise, and Get Paid to Change the World. It sounds like a bit of an aspirational post and it is. It’s actually a guest post that John Murrow wrote. I really would recommend that you go back and read it because it’s just a story. This is another example of a different type of content, it doesn’t have to be teaching, it doesn’t have to be a case study, it doesn’t have to be a definition type post. This is a story. If you’ve got a story or you know a good story that’s relevant for all time like this particular one is, that’s a great type of evergreen content that you could be creating for your blog as well. It doesn’t date, it inspires people as much today as it did in 2011 when we first published it on ProBlogger.

The last one I want to give you is kind of one that was a bit of surprise. As I looked at the most read posts on ProBlogger, I didn’t realize this post was getting so much traffic even today. It’s Ten David Ogilvy Quotes that could Revolutionize Your Blogging. It’s a post I wrote back in 2011 and it was just a collection of my favorite quotes from David Ogilvy who’s sort of like the original Ad Man. It’s fifteen-hundred words long so I did add a little bit of my own content. It’s fairly large, it’s not a meaty post at all. I guess people still are searching today many, many years later for quotes from David Ogilvy. I suspect that’s where the traffic is coming in from.

They’re just ten of the examples that I’ve done. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve got some examples on the show notes today from some of our readers, some ProBlogger readers. I actually put on my Facebook page a few days ago now that I was doing this podcast and I wanted examples of other evergreen content from other blogs. There’s a whole collection of all kinds of different content there. I wanted to include these probably to drive a little bit of traffic to ProBlogger readers, I love to share traffic with our readers. But two, also because I wanted to show you some examples of evergreen content from different niches. Some of these are teaching type posts and some of them are different styles of content as well.

I know for a fact that some of you are still going, “This doesn’t really work for my niche.” I kind of want to address that a little bit now. Evergreen content can take all kinds of forms. You’ve already seen some of the different styles of content, the different types of posts that I’ve shared. We’ve got how to, instructional guides, that’s where I spend a lot of my time. You’ve got definition type posts, you’ve got inspirational content—some of those image collections that I shared but also the story that we shared—case studies and examples—sometimes, they can date a little bit but sometimes they don’t. Advice, we got a post on ProBlogger, How to Choose a Blog Platform. That’s a piece of content that hasn’t really dated a whole heap although some of the platforms have changed, we’ve updated it a little bit, but it’s a question that people continue to ask. It answers to frequently asked questions. The last type would be swipe files or templates. I’ll share an example in a moment from Copy Blogger that fits into that category.

Again, you can also see this even in the examples I’ve given you. There’s been different styles or formats of posts as well. Step by step, list post, essays, articles, all kinds of image collections. We’ve got different mediums there, evergreen content can be written content, audio, many of the podcasts that I’ve created including this one remain as relevant today as they were when I recorded them and hopefully will live on for a long time to come. Video can be evergreen. Really, you’re not limited to just the written work here.

I’ve got a post on YouTube, a video that I did on my secrets to making money from blogging. I referred to that a couple of episodes ago and it continues to get views even today. Video can work as well. Different styles, different mediums, different types of posts all can work as evergreen content. You’re not limited just to a written content.

How do you identify evergreen content ideas for your particular blog? I want to make a few suggestions for you and hopefully some of these again will stimulate some ideas for you.

The first question is what questions do you get asked today that you’ve been asked for a few years now? What questions do you get asked that just don’t go away. An example of that on ProBlogger was can you really make money blogging? That’s one question. Another one we get asked all the time is how do you make money blogging. Some of the best posts that we’ve got on ProBlogger just answer those frequently asked questions.

What are the key challenges, obstacles, or problems that don’t go away for your readers? Again, on ProBlogger, one of the key challenges is that our readers have and hasn’t gone away is productivity. How do I fit it all in? How do I get it all done? You’ll notice a lot of the content that I’ve created on ProBlogger does take that angle. How do you get it all done? How do you decide which social media network to go on, that was two episodes ago. What are those challenges, obstacles, and problems that your readers have that just haven’t gone away? That type of content that addresses those types of challenges will lend itself to more evergreen content.

What searches are people doing on your site to get to your site? If you can get some of that information from Google Analytics, you want to dig in a little bit too to see what people are searching for when they’re on your site. What searches are people doing on your topic elsewhere? You might want to look at Google Trends as a good tool for that. You can type in a keyword there and it will show you whether that keyword is being searched for on Google and whether that’s trending up or trending down type of topic.

What are the cornerstone things that people need to know in your niche? A good example of that on Digital Photography School was that ISO post. I wrote a series of posts back in 2007 I think it was on Digital Photography School on the topics of aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Those three concepts are what I would consider to be cornerstone pieces of content. If you want to take a well exposed photo, you need to learn those three things. Those ideas are cornerstone to the topic.

If there are cornerstone things that you constantly are referring to in your articles, then maybe you’ve never even written on those posts because you think they’re so basic for everyone. They’re the type of things that you should be writing content on. You should always link back to those things.

What are the key categories in your niche that you could write an introduction on? What could you create that people will come back to again and again? A good example of this, when I do go on Facebook for people to share examples, Carla and Emma from The Merrymaker Sisters shared a recipe that has sent them heaps of traffic to their particular blog The Merrymaker Sisters. It’s called The Paleo Salted Caramel Slice Recipe. It’s such an amazing slice, I’ve actually tasted it, that I bet people are constantly coming back to it. It’s one that they would live on in their memories that they come back to again and again and again. If they don’t print it out and put it in their most used recipes.

Those types of things that you create that people come back to is really important. Hence, swipe files is another example of this. Copy Blogger is one of my favorite blogs over at copyblogger.com. Brian Clark wrote an article back in 2008 or 2009 on his Ten Surefire Headline Formats that Always Work. These were just sort of little templates of headlines that you could use for blog posts. That post, it’s just become iconic. People constantly refer to it and I constantly go back to it. Every time I’m stuck writing a blog post title or trying to name an ebook or trying to come up with a headline for a landing page, I go back to that post. If you can create something that has some sort of a swipe file element to it that people will keep coming back to, then that’s the type of thing that maybe you should be trying to create on your blog as well.

The last thing I’d say is to try to help you identify evergreen content ideas. What key stories have there been in your life or in your industry, in your niche, that continue to have relevance today, things that continue to teach and inspire your readers today.

I think in most of our lives, there’s moments in our lives that have been turning point moments for us. We often refer back to them in passing. I really would encourage you to identify what were the turning point moments in your own life that you do occasionally refer to on your blog. Write that up as a blog post, write that story up, and then you can link back to that and drive traffic back to that over time. That’s another evergreen idea.

The last question I want to touch on with evergreen content, it’s a question I get quite a bit. “What should I do if my content dates?” There are plenty of blogs as I mentioned before that just purely do now content. On one level, that’s totally okay. I want to say if you got a blog that’s all about now content, maybe you’ve got a news blog or maybe you’ve got a politics blog that’s all about the election that’s happening in the US at the moment, or if you’ve got a blog that’s all about gadgets and you have to just constantly write about now stuff, that’s okay. But, keep your eyes open for opportunities to add some evergreen content. I do think in most niches there’s opportunities to create evergreen content.

What I would say to you is look for opportunities to mix it up. Not every content you write needs to be evergreen and not every content idea that you have needs to be now. Most blogs can create a mix of that. It will differ from blog to blog what that mix is.

Over on Digital Photography School, I would say 90% to 95% is evergreen. We could write a lot more about the new cameras that come out and the new techniques that there are for getting certain styles of post processing and we do do a few of those types of things but we tend to leave that to other blogs that are majoring more upon that.

On ProBlogger, we tend to do a little bit more now content because techniques do change. For example, we’ve written more recently about Snapchat. We’ve written more recently about Facebook Live, some of these emerging trends that are a heat for a while. I would say they’re still reasonably evergreen but they may be not as evergreen as some of the posts that we do on Digital Photography School.

I guess that’s one of the things that we should acknowledge, really evergreen content is a spectrum. Some pieces of content that you write might last ten years, it might last a hundred years really. Some of those principles of life just don’t change but there’s a sliding scale. Some pieces are now and they’re today type content and they will not be relevant tomorrow. And then, a lot of pieces of content, on ProBlogger, posts about Snapchat may only be around for six months or so, that’s more evergreen than just a today type of content. Do consider those types of posts as well, the medium level evergreen.

The last thing I’ll say is that you can update your content to make it more evergreen. I’ve already kind of mentioned this as well. Even the post that are dating, look back at them and ask yourself are there opportunities to go back to some of those olds posts and update them?

A good example of this on ProBlogger is my post How to Make Money Blogging. I think you’ll find it at problogger.net/make-money-blogging. It’s about two-thousand nine-hundred words long. I can’t remember when I wrote that post, I think it must’ve been back in 2007, 2008 when I kind of summarized how I made money blogging. If you go back in the web archives and look at the different versions of that post that have been online, you will notice that they have changed quite a bit. I’ve gone back to that post again and again and again and updated it and changed it. Probably very little of it is still what I actually wrote when I first published that post. Yet, I would still consider that to be an evergreen piece of content because it’s still the same topic.

Whilst the content on it has changed with the times, people still are asking about how to make money blogging. The topic hasn’t changed and the page URL hasn’t’ changed. It continues to rank well in Google as well. You may have some content in your archives that you could tweak and update a little bit and it becomes evergreen again today. Particularly pay attention to content that is doing well in Google or that is getting a lot of traffic from another blog. If you’ve got a hot post like that in your archives, really make it a high priority to continue to update that one.

There are also other things that you might want to do some analysis on. There are things within your niche that readers continue to come looking for. I’ll give you a couple of examples of this. One of my favorite blogs to read is Mac Rumors. It’s a blog about the new things that are rumored to be happening with Apple and Mac, new iPhones that might be coming out, new features that might be on the next MacBook Pro. I would consider most of the content that goes up on Mac Rumors to be very now, it’s all now, it’s all stuff that could be obsolete tomorrow. As that rumor gets proved to be false or as the new iPhone comes out, those posts that are being written about it really become obsolete.

But as I look at Mac Rumors, they have worked out that there are some things that people just come constantly looking for advice on. If you look up in their navigation area, they’ve got a link called Buyer’s Guide. It’s the buyer’s guide to all Apple Products. One of the things I guess they’ve realized is that their readers get really nervous about whether they should buy a product now or whether they should wait a month or two before the new product comes out. If you look at the buyer’s guide, it actually gives you the latest information on that particular product. This is a page that they’ve created that gives you up to date information on an evergreen topic. I guess that’s the point I’m trying to make here today is are there things that your readers constantly are asking, I suspect they created that page because people kept asking in their forms. It’s now the right time to buy this particular product.

They created a guide for that and they constantly update it, it gets updated probably everyday almost. It’s an evergreen kind of page because it’s fulfilling a need that is not going away in their readers. You might find that there is just something that all your readers want to be kept up to date on so then you can create a page that’s a little bit evergreen there.

Another example of a blog that I read quite regularly that does this is Life Hacker. If you go to Life Hacker, you will see different versions of Life Hacker depending on where you are in the world. If you go to the US Life Hacker page, you’ll find that they have some links to the most essential apps for Macs. I’ll give you the link to that in today’s show notes. It’s a post that they update constantly with their favorite apps for Macs.

They’ve obviously worked out that there’s high demand that’s not going away for that particular topic. So if you look at that post, you’ll see that some of the comments are from 2013. That post has been live for a long time but it’s been updated in the last few days and they do say when they update it as well. If there’s something that people just keep asking you about, it’s a problem that your readers have that’s just not going away, consider creating a page that you’ll update that really fulfills the evergreen kind of need that people have as well.

Two more quick examples. I’ll shoot you over to Digital Photography School again. We’ve got a couple of posts there that are our most popular Digital SLRs, most popular lenses, most popular compact cameras. I’ve shared the links in the show notes. These are posts that I update probably once a quarter, so three or four times a year. It just shows the current trends in those particular things.

I noticed a few years ago that people are constantly asking what digital SLR should I buy? I could spend all day answering that question or I could create a page that simply answers the question for our readers. Again, it’s an evergreen question but I update the content. That might be something that you can do. If you’ve got a blog that is on one of these sort of now, now, now type topics, maybe there are some things that you can do to create some evergreen content.

Last one I’ll share with you as an example is from Vanessa’s blog, my wife. Stole Shenanigans is her blog. She wrote a post called Where to Shop in Bali after we took a holiday there. I don’t know that she really expected that post to do as well as it has, but it’s one that has ranked pretty well in Google and yet it does date. Where to Shop in Bali does change from month to month, year to year. We’ve been back to Bali several times now, and she’s gone back even by herself on a girl’s kind of holiday for a significant birthday that she had. Every time she goes back, she collects more information on that particular topic and then updates that post.

You might have a post that dates but are there ways that you can continue to update that one?

There are some ideas on how to create evergreen content for your blog. Creating it is half the blog, the next thing you really do need to think about is how do you get people to it. Once you’ve written your evergreen piece of content, think about how you’re going to get your readers to it. Whilst some noble post might have a spike in traffic and then die off very quickly, the goal with evergreen content is to get a steady stream of traffic to it overtime.

A few tips on how to do that. Partly, it’s going to be up to Google, Google does have their way of determining where to rank traffic. I guess the first thing is learn how to do some SEO, how can you optimize your post for SEO. I’ll link in today’s show notes to an episode that we did on search engine optimization that Jim Stewart on that particular topic.

Optimize your post for SEO but then consider how you can get people to it from your blog, your existing blog. Your navigation areas, your menu, your sidebar. If it’s an important piece of evergreen content, you probably want to highlight that post in some way on your blog. On ProBlogger, I mentioned already on our sidebar next to blog post we have linked to some of our important pieces of evergreen content, we have portals, we link to some of our important evergreen pieces of content from the about page, the start here page.

Also, underneath blog posts we have further reading which we recommend certain pieces of content that people should read as well. Go back through your archives and work out are there other relevant pieces of content that you could be linking to your new evergreen content from. Even if it’s just sending a trickle of traffic from ten different blog posts, that adds up over time.

You can regularly re-share that social media content again and again. Build a system where you’re highlighting that type of content. One very simple thing that I do pretty much every day is go back to look at what I published this day last year and this day two years ago. The date today as I’m recording this is July 25. Tonight when I do my social media for Digital Photography School, I curate all the content that goes up onto our Facebook page, I will look at what I published on the 25th of July last year and every year over the last five or six years. I’ll be looking for opportunities as I do that to find evergreen content.

I don’t share every post that we published on the 25th of July because some of it wasn’t evergreen. But if it’s evergreen and it’s still relevant today, I use that as a single to myself to re-share. I know every year, I go through every post on the site. If it’s evergreen, it gets shared at least once a year. Build a system where you can resurface that evergreen content.

Keep in mind as you write future pieces of content that there will be opportunities to link back to your evergreen content in that. Before you publish any new blog post, ask yourself is there something I’ve written before that’s evergreen that I should be linking back to? You should be linking to your evergreen content in any promotional activities you do. If you are guest posting on someone else’s blog, don’t just link back to your front page in your bio. You might want to consider linking back to an evergreen piece of content that relates to what you wrote about in that guest post. If you’re interviewed on a podcast or if you get an interview in the media, try and find a way to mention that piece of content that you’ve created and drive people back from that.

I guess the last thing is if you’ve got a piece of content that’s evergreen, consider who might be interested in that. Is there a social media influencer in your particular niche who might actually like and might share that piece of content as well?

Promote your evergreen content. Don’t just write it, that’s half the battle, but get people to it and work it. It’s really important to continue to do that.

The last thing I’ll say about evergreen content is that once you got people viewing it and once you have that steady stream of traffic to those posts, you’ve got to ask yourself what’s the point of that? If people are seeing that content and then they’re bouncing straight off your site again, that’s kind of a bit of a wasted opportunity so how can you leverage the eyeballs that that evergreen content are getting?

You might want to consider creating an opt-in or lead magnet where you give something away in return for an email address from the people who do come to that. You might want to get people to read a second piece of content. If you’ve got an evergreen piece of content that’s getting lots of eyeballs, you might want to suggest some further reading on that to get a second eyeball on a second piece of content. You might want to call them to follow you on social media.

Really, it’s about trying to make that piece of content that is evergreen, that is getting the traffic, as sticky as possible. I put together an episode purely on that topic of making your blog post sticky. It’s Episode 35 of the ProBlogger podcast and I really would encourage you to go back and listen to that one once this particular episode is finished. If you’ve already got evergreen content that’s ranking in Google, that’s getting traffic from social, that’s getting traffic from other blogs, you really need to take a good look at that piece of content and see how can I leverage that piece of content. You’re going to listen to Episode 35 on that.

Just to sum up, evergreen content is one of the best investments that you’ll ever make in terms of creating content for your blog. Not every piece of content needs to be evergreen and not every piece of evergreen content that you create is going to work. Sometimes, they just don’t attract the traffic that we think. But the more evergreen content you create over time, the better.

I shared with you earlier in this podcast ten pieces of content that have done really well for me on my blogs. Those pieces of content, some of them have had millions of pageviews but none of them have made up any more than 1% or 2% of my overall traffic. The reality is that all of the hundreds of millions of pageviews that I’ve had over the years, most of it has come from all the little pieces of content that I’ve created that have been evergreen. Really, it’s about the accumulation of what’s in your archives that matters with this. It’s not just those big posts that go viral, it’s some of those little posts as well that might attract an extra ten, twenty, thirty visitors a month to your blog; those add up over time.

Every piece of content that you create is an investment that continues to drive the overall traffic that you’re able to drive to your blogs. I really do encourage you this week to make it your goal to create some evergreen content and identify some other topics that you might want to write that are evergreen in nature. Actually, come up with a bit of a schedule to create that content over the coming weeks and months.

Thanks so much for listening to today. I know it’s been a long one. It actually took me forever to prepare this one, there’s so much to say on the topic. You can find today’s show notes with all the further reading, all the examples that I’ve given you, and a full transcription of this whole podcast over at problogger.com/podcast/136. Thanks for listening, I’ll chat with you in a couple of days time in Episode 137. 

How did you go with today’s episode?

I hope you are building evergreen content into your weekly or even daily schedule. I would love to know what type of evergreen content you have published and how it is working for you. Share your experiences below.

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Jul 28 2016

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279: How Jeff Goins Evolved His Blogging Into a Million Dollar Business

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How Blogging Led to a Million Dollar Business for Jeff Goins

Jeff Goins shares how his blogging business has evolved over the years. What he’s doing now is very different than when he started.

Blog 1: Jeff started blogging as an outlet to catalogue his journey across North America while on tour with a band. 

“That was my first blog and my first experience with sharing my life and my ideas with the world. Just the thrill of pressing, Publish.”

Wake-up Call: While living the dream of playing music for thousands of screaming fans, Jeff’s favorite part was writing blog posts.

Blog 2: Jeff moved to Nashville and trained missionaries to blog for a nonprofit. Eventually, Jeff became the Marketing Director and learned about online marketing. 

Wake-up Call: Jeff wanted to get back to his own blogging. “I had been helping other people share their stories. I had something to say and wanted to share it with the world.”

Blogs 3 to Present: Jeff wanted to make a living as a writer, but didn’t know how.  

Wake-up Call: Jeff’s failed blogs had one thing in common: He quit them. Time to get serious and stick to it: 

  • Write every day 
  • Get more subscribers
  • Build email lists
  • Learn from other bloggers
  • Offer to write and accept guest posts

Now, Jeff is a full-time blogger, author, speaker, and online entrepreneur.  

Top Tips to Achieve Blogging Success

  1. Give before you ask; always give more than you take. 
  2. Listen to other bloggers’ advice.
  3. Connect with influential people.

Next Steps in Blogging Evolution

  • Masterminds: Creates relationships, connections, and community
  • Events/Conferences: Tribe Conference
  • Programs: Write a Bestseller 

Based on his experiences as a writer and blogger, Jeff will be the keynote speaker at ProBlogger’s upcoming Evolve 2019 in Melbourne.

A few tickets are still available! For more information: Problogger.com/events

Links and Resources for How Jeff Goins Evolved His Blogging Into a Million Dollar Business:

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Darren: Hey there friends and welcome to Episode 279 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com; a blog designed to help you to start and to grow a profitable blog. 

Today on the podcast, we have a special guest, Jeff Goins. I’ve been wanting to bring Jeff Goins to the podcast for a while now. Many of you know of Jeff, he has a fantastic blog that I do encourage you to check out. We’ll link to it in the show notes today. He writes great advice for people who write. If you want to become a better writer, particularly if you want to write a book, he has some great advice.

I wanted to get Jeff on the show today to talk a little bit about how his business or his blogging business has evolved over the years, because he started a number of years ago now. What he’s doing today is very different to the way he started. He really started in a personal record keeping kind of way with his blogging and he’s grown his brand, and his business around that. As he says in this interview, he’s actually had nine blogs over the years and his last one has really built the business. He’s got a lot of great advice today as we talk about this idea of evolving your blog. 

Today’s interview is actually a little bit different to any interview I’ve done before because I sent Jeff the questions via email and he recorded them in one hit. He kind of interviews himself, although the questions do come from me. It’s a new style of interview, it helps me to create this because we’re in different time zones. I really like what he’s put together, so this might be something we do in the future a little bit more because I think it’s very effective. In fact, Jeff says stuff during this interview that I really needed to hear on a personal level myself. I might talk a little bit about that at the end of this interview.

The other reason I’m bringing on Jeff today is that he’s speaking at our upcoming ProBlogger Event in Melbourne on the 9th and 10th of August. We still do have a small number of tickets available to that, particularly the mastermind which Jeff is going to be at for two full days. If you enjoy Jeff in this and you can get to Melbourne, Australia on the 9th and 10th of August, go to problogger.com/events and you can see what we’re running there. You might just be sitting around the table with Jeff for a couple of days in August.

I’m going to hand over to Jeff now. At the end, I want to come back and just pull out some of the things that really impacted me in this interview of sorts. Here’s Jeff.

Jeff: Hello, this is Jeff Goins. I am answering some questions that Darren sent me. I think what I’ll do is I will read the question, and then share my answer. 

Question number one: how has your blog evolved to the point that it’s at now? Tell your evolution story.

My blog really began as a series of different blogs over the years. My first blog was in 2006, 2005 and 2006 I was touring with a band all over North America and I wanted to catalog the journey. I started a blog on Xanga. I’d always journaled and written as a kid, and this was another outlet. This was a way for me to share my journey. I had a hand full of friends reading it. It was just fun to share.

It was a big wake up call for me when halfway through this year of playing music for a living–which I had always thought was the dream–that my favorite part of the week was not playing shows for sometimes thousands of screaming, and sometimes thousands of indifferent teenagers. It was this hour in the afternoon usually on a Saturday or a Sunday where we would be staying with a family somewhere and I would ask to use their desktop computer and I would write a blog post cataloging what we have done that day. 

That was my first blog and my first experience with sharing my life and my ideas with the world. Just the thrill of pressing publish and sharing that. This evolved into me moving to Nashville, getting a job with a nonprofit, actually training missionaries in how to blog for this nonprofit organization that I worked for for seven years. Becoming the Marketing Director there, learning about online marketing. In that process, deciding I wanted to get back into blogging for myself. I had been helping other people share their stories and I wanted to start doing it again for myself; I missed it, I felt like I had something to say and want to share it with the world.

Over the years, I had started these different blogs and fits and starts. Honestly, I’ve been following ProBlogger for a long, long time and wanted to make a living as a writer but didn’t know how to do that. I remember Darren sharing on a webinar that the first year as a full time blogger, he made $36,000. He was saying it like you’re not just going to start off making six-figures, it’s kind of hard. That was exactly my salary that year and I was like wow, I could replace my income with blogging? That sounded really exciting.

I had started all these blogs. I think I went back and counted recently, it was like nine different blogs. From that first Xanga blog in 2006, to 2010 when I at the end of the year started a blog called Goins, Writer, goinswriter.com, which is the blog that I have today. 

I was really frustrated with myself for quitting all those previous blogs. I realized that all those failed blogs had one thing in common, and that was that I quit them at some point. I had grown up a little bit, I had a little bit more responsibilities, I better understood marketing and what might, might not work in terms of a blog and a message. 

I had decided when I started this blog at the end of 2010 when I was getting much more serious about writing for a living that I would do this for two years before I would quit. I would write every single day on this blog for two years without quitting. At the end of two years, if I didn’t have at least 250 subscribers, which was the most I’d ever had in any blog, then I would quit and go do something else. I wasn’t going to do it forever, but I was going to give it a good, solid try. 

In the past, I always heard of these blogs. Anywhere from six weeks to six months later, I would quit and I would go start something else. I thought what would just happen if I just stuck with it? That’s what I did. In 2011, I blogged every single day. I started paying attention to what I was learning on ProBlogger and Copy Blogger and following other writers and bloggers online. I reached out to them, I asked to guest post, I offered them opportunities to guest post on my site, and I just started building email lists. I learned about lead magnets and ways to get people on your subscriber list. 

By the end of 2011, I’d grown an email list of about 10,000 people and realized that I could monetize this. Then in 2012, I sold a couple of ebooks and made about $50,000 off of this ebook called You Are A Writer, so Start Acting Like One. Then from there, I turned that ebook, essentially, into an online course called Tribe Writers and made an extra $100,000 or so off of that and some affiliate marketing that I was doing.

In 2012, I made about $150,000 in side income off of this little blog business that I had started in the last six months of the year. I was still working at this nonprofit, making about $30,000 a year. That year, my wife quit her job. She gave birth to our first child, our son Aiden. She quit her job, she didn’t go back after having our baby. I was getting ready to quit my job and we started this business. We tripled our household income in a matter of months. That was 2012, and in 2013 I quit my job, I turned 30. I’ve been a full time blogger, author, speaker, and online entrepreneur ever since. 

That’s been my blogging journey, lots of other stories in there. Where I’m at now is when I started the blog, I didn’t know what I wanted. I had a goal of replacing my wife’s income, which was about $30,000. I thought if I replace her income, I can keep my job and then do this thing on the side. I’ll essentially have two jobs, she can stay home and be a full time mom for a while which is something we agreed would be good, we both wanted that. This is what I would do.

When my initial goal was met and then exceeded, I didn’t really know what to do with that. I just started chasing more for the sake of getting more subscribers, trying to get more money, doubling and tripling our revenue every single year, growing a team, doing all this stuff. One day, I woke up and realized this isn’t what I wanted.What I wanted was way back there, it was this simple life and way to do my work where I was getting paid to write the stuff that I wanted to write.

A big wake up call for me was I started this online education business, teaching online courses so that I could write and make money. I wouldn’t have to worry about hitting the bestseller list every time and selling hundreds of thousands of copies of a book so that I could make an income off of my writing. I could just get paid and write books that I believed in, and not worry about them having to be bestsellers.

It was a big wake up call for me when I realized that I was so busy running this education business that was supposed to provide the income and freedom for me to write that I no longer had time to write. I had actually hired a writer to write my blog posts for me. I realized man, something is off here. This business that I started so that I could be a writer is now keeping me from writing. 

Over the past few years, I’ve had to make a series of difficult decisions to get back in my lane, get focused on the creative work which is the work that only I can do and not worry about what everybody else is doing. Just learn how to run my own race, and the results of that has been I have felt more successful, I have been happier with my work than I’d ever been, and just more at peace. 

As a result, I think the work is better, I’m actually personally netting a higher income while generating fewer sales just because I’ve gotten really specific and focused on the work that I want to do, that only I can do. It doesn’t have anything to do with growing some huge media empire, it’s just about me doing the work that I believe in and sharing it with the world. That’s my blogging story and my answer to question one.

Question two: what are three top tips behind the success you’ve achieved? 

I believe that all education is broken up into three areas. One is principles, two is strategies, and then three is tools. A lot of people in the online marketing space like to talk about tools and strategies, meaning what’s working now and how do I do this? How do I grow my email list? Well, you need a lead magnet and you can set it up in MailChimp. MailChimp is a tool, the strategy is using a lead magnet to get more subscribers.

Underlying, most strategies and tools are principles. Tools change often, strategies change sometimes, principles never change. Principles are usually timeless truths. If they change, they change very gradually over the course of decades, if not centuries.

I’m very interested in the principles. A few principles that have worked well for me, that continue to work although the modalities, the strategies and tools that I use to accomplish these things have changed. One lesson that I’ve learned, one principle, is that you always have to give before you ask. You always have to give more than you want to take. 

I heard Gary Vaynerchuk talk about this in regards to his book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. He said most people think that means give, give, give, take. It doesn’t mean give, give, give, take; it means to give, give, give, ask. For every ask: hey, sign up for my email list; hey, buy my book; hey, do this, do that; I want to give these three things away for free. A phrase that we use in a lot of courses with our students is you have to be relentlessly generous. You have to be relentlessly generous with your audience.

When I would start a blog, it was about me, and of course it’s your words, it’s your ideas, it’s your story; in a sense, it is about you. Something that really, really helped and lots of people talk about this but get so focused on the practicality of it. You have to be generous. 

For me, giving, giving, giving, without asking. I wrote a free blog post every day for two years before I sold a single thing. I gave away ebooks, webinars, trainings, tools, all kinds of things for free. First of all, I didn’t even know what I was doing. I was just trying to figure it out, I was practicing in public sharing my work, trying to get feedback on the stuff that was resonating, that was valuable to me. I was also trying to build up a lot of trust.

At the end of that two years—it was more like 18 months before I started making an income off of the blog—I started hearing from readers saying, “Hey, this is great. Thanks for sharing all this stuff with us for free. But, can we buy something from you? Can we pay you for something?” One of the lessons that I learned is that if you give, give, give, give, if you make it all about them, they—some of them—will make it about you. 

You really can give your way into success. Every new business pursuit, idea, I’m just finding ways to plant seeds of generosity, helping people without asking anything in return. I think more often than not, that comes back to me giving time, giving money, giving resources to my audience, to my friends, to my network. People that I know, just trying to spend that goodwill. Overtime, you become known as a helpful, resourceful person. When your name comes up in conversation, people talk about you in a positive way. It just spreads this positive brand, plus it feels good to help people.

That was one principle, it will never hurt you to out-give your audience. It will only ever help you. It is a great way to establish yourself from everybody else.

Another tip, lesson, principle thing that I learned was to listen to what the people who have done this for a long time tell you to do. For a long time, I thought I don’t need to listen to Darren, he’s old. Just kidding. He’s been doing it for a long time and there are these timeless principles, like using a lead magnet. I thought I was above that and I was trying to pave my own path without first paying attention to the ways that this has always worked. It always works to give before you ask people to pay attention to you, to use a lead magnet to get somebody on your email list. That’s not tricking them and getting them in your email list, it’s rewarding them for their attention.

A really big moment for me was when I stopped thinking I knew everything and just started listening to anyone, especially those who had done things that I wanted to do. Assuming I knew nothing, taking the posture of a student and acting like an apprentice, then just trying things. Being willing to do what other people said without arguing about it.

Often, I talk with folks who are struggling to succeed with their blogs or online businesses. They go, “Oh yeah, I’ve tried that, I’ve heard that. Give me something new, give me a new idea.” It turns out that the oldest things that have worked for a long time are the techniques and strategies that are probably going to keep working for a long time, they just might need a fresh coat of paint on them.

Do what works for other people, at least try it. Be humble enough to admit what you don’t know, become somebody else’s student, and try it. 

I think the last thing that works really well for me is connecting with influential people. It sounds bad and I’ll explain what this means for me, but essentially leveraging their influence to grow my own influence. What that means is I would reach out to folks and I would try to be as helpful as possible, people like Darren Rowse, Brian Clarke, Seth Godin, Michael Hyatt, a lot of people in the blogging and online marketing space. I never said how can I be helpful because that’s not very helpful, but I always say hey, can I write a guest post for you? Or could I share this tip with your audience?

Obviously, there’s something in it for me when I would do that, but there was also something in it for them. I found that by simply meeting influencers, people that I considered mentors, and sharing something with their audiences, that was a fast pass to getting in front of a lot of people in a short amount of time.

How do you practically do this? Well, oct people don’t do this very well, I didn’t do this very well for a long time. It’s because you get in front of somebody and say hey, let me talk to your audience. That’s not going to work; they don’t trust you, they don’t know you, they don’t know if you have any right speaking to their audience. What I practiced without realizing it, and in retrospect I now think of it as the case study strategy. What I did was remember lesson number two, be humble enough to admit what you don’t know and try new things based on what other people are saying. 

The second part of that is to become somebody’s case study. If I read something on Michael Hyatt’s blog that said you should have a lead magnet, I’ll go okay, great, I’m going to do that. I would go do whatever so and so influencer had said and I would implement it, and then I would report back to them. I would send them an email, or comment on their blog, or tweet back at them, reply to them on Twitter, and share the results. I would do this over, and over, and over again with people who were sharing advice particularly about blogging and online marketing. 

I did this, I just thought of it as seeds. I thought of it as a way of being helpful to people that helped me by saying hey, you might want to know that this worked for me and I just want to say thanks. I did this enough times with enough people that some of them started talking about me. Michael Hyatt was one of these people where in a way I became one of his case studies. He had just had a book come out called Platform which I think came out in 2012. I was growing my platform at the time. It was working, and I was sharing it with him, and he actually invited me to write a chapter in that book about guest posting, which I had gotten really into and had shared with him how it had helped me grow my blog. 

That relationship probably saved me years of hustling. I think there was a number of people. There are plenty of people that said hey, this worked, and never heard back from them. But those that I did hear back from, I doubled down on that connection and built a relationship, a friendship with these people. 

That, lots of people talk about that, everybody wants to get in front of influential people and have them share their stuff with the world but it’s actually really hard unless you realize that these people who are constantly sharing advice very rarely hear back from people who are actually doing the work and applying the principles.

This is what I call the case study strategy, you do what other people say that you should do and you let them know about it over time. You build a relationship with them, and some of these people will just talk, you don’t even have to ask. Sometimes you can ask, “Hey, can I do a guest post or share this on your podcast? Or would you endorse my book?” Whatever. I have found just by simply being the case study of the giants who have come before you, it can save you a lot of time and it can help you get your work in front of a much larger audience without having to spend years on building that audience.

Those are some tips that I think were pretty helpful for me.

Question three: what’s the next step and the next challenge in your evolution? I’ve done the thing where I’ve worked with tens of thousands of customers buying courses, ebooks, and programs. That’s been cool, it’s made a lot of money, millions of dollars in income. The more I do this—I’ve been running my business for almost seven years now—the more interested I am in going deeper with fewer people.

The two things that I’m really interested in are masterminds, I currently run a mastermind of creative entrepreneurs, about 20 people. I’m wanting to keep growing that. We meet every week on Zoom, we meet in person three times a year. Really walking these creative entrepreneurial journeys out together, really fun. I love the impact, relationship, connection that happens, and community that happens in a space like that. I can see growing more groups like that, I love the mastermind experience.

Live events, doing a live conference for years has been really fun. This will be the last year of our conference called the Tribe Conference but I’ll probably do some more regional, smaller, mastermind kind of events. I like workshops. It’s funny, all the things that an online business afforded me—scale, opportunity, reach—a lot of people with a click of a mouse, being able to create a product once and share it with a lot of people, do it all online. In some ways, building an online business is moving me back towards offline activities, getting together in person, working with fewer people on ways that aren’t necessarily scalable. That’s where I’m seeing a lot of the impact. I’ll continue to do online programs and things like that, but I’m really excited about that, working with creative entrepreneurs.

We have a program, helping people write great books, it’s called Write A Bestseller. I like that a lot. I hope to focus more on that, helping people get their books out into the world, that’s something that I’m focusing on a lot, and less on how do people grow their blogs, and get better at internet marketing. I think there’s a lot of value there but there’s a lot of people who do that really well. What I do well is I write books and teach people how to do the same. I’m looking forward to doing more of that from a teaching perspective. That’s it, those are all the questions. I hope this was helpful, let me know if I can be of any more service to you. 

I will be speaking at the ProBlogger Event in August, hope to see you there. If you have any questions, feel free to email me, jeff@goinswriter.com. If there’s a question that you have for me that I wasn’t able to answer in this interview, feel free to shoot me an email. I’ll see you in Melbourne in August, thanks.

Darren: Wow, thank you so much, Jeff, for your wise words today. As I said at the top of today’s show, got a lot out of this myself. Jeff is someone that I look to for advice as a writer. I quite often will bounce ideas off of Jeff, but he’s also someone who I think has a lot of good things to say of us who are building a business as well. You can check out Jeff’s site at goinswriter.com. Check out all of the things that he’s got to say there.

Few of the things that really stood out to me. Firstly, he really talked about the success of his latest venture, goinswriter.com. He has been answering the question what will happen if I stick with this? I really relate to that, because I think a lot of bloggers do have a series or a trail of half finished blogs behind them. One of the biggest things that really, I guess, gets in the way of success for many bloggers is they just don’t stick at it. Or, they have a series of blogs rather than one blog. I love that, Jeff. 

Finally did stick to blogging and got serious about it. He mentioned a number of things there that I think are really important for those who are just starting out; developing an email list was a big part of what he did. Having that email list of people who were regularly hearing from him really enabled him to monetize in the long run. I loved that advice.

I secondly really related to this idea of having the mindset shift that he realized what he wanted wasn’t more. I don’t know if that wake up call that he had was something that you relate to, but I find a lot of us as bloggers who have been around for a number of years and I’ve used this analogy in the past. It’s almost like we build a machine around what we’re passionate about, but the machine actually takes over and we spend our time feeding the machine.

Jeff talked a little bit about how he built a business which he thought would allow him to do what he loved, writing, but it actually stopped him from writing. I think a lot of bloggers actually get to this point, particularly bloggers who have had some success. Many of us do need to have these moments in our business where we realign, where we perhaps narrow our focus back down to the things that we really started out wanting to do. In the case of Jeff, it was writing.

I really appreciate the fact that he shared that lesson that he had because it’s something that I know I’ve had to do periodically over the years, and perhaps even need to do at the moment as well. I thank Jeff for sharing that. 

His three top tips that led to his success. Firstly, you have to give before you ask; I love that line from Gary V. Give, give, give, and then ask; rather than give, give, give, and take. There’s a difference between asking and taking from your audience, and I think a lot of us as bloggers do have the temptation to just take instead of asking our audience I they would like to buy something from us. Be relentlessly generous was the advice there. I think that really does represent the success of many of the bloggers that I admire over the years, their generosity.

Listen to those who have gone before you. Again, this is something that you’ve heard on this podcast before. The oldest things that have been working for a long time, it turns out those things will continue to work into the future. That’s why we do preach that you need to develop an email list. This is old fashion technology that continues to work today. Yes, we do need to learn how to continue to use it, and tweak it, and we’ve got podcasts here in the archive of ProBlogger that all about that. But don’t just latch onto all the new, sexy things that are coming out. Actually look at what’s already been working for decades now and latch onto those things.

Lastly, his advice to connect with influential people. I love that strategy that he talked about being the case study of the influencers. I just think it’s such brilliant advice. Actually, implement the advice of the people you want to get in the radar of. Then, tell them what happens, and then you become their case study. Whether that be as a guest post or an interview, or something that they just use in passing as an example. I can actually think of a number of people that that’s happened to, both that have approached me but also that I’ve approached others by being their case study. Brilliant advice, really encourage you to try that one out yourself. Influencers are looking for that feedback and they are looking for case studies that prove that their own advice work. Actually be the case study for an influencer. Brilliant advice, really wish I’d come up with that one myself, so thanks Jeff for sharing that.

I love this interview, in fact I’m going to listen to it again because there’s more in there that I wanted to get into. You might want to go back and have another listen to today’s interview with Jeff. Please share it with anyone who you know of that needs to hear this advice. I really hope that this episode does get shared wildly because I think it’s got so much valuable stuff into it.

If you would like to check out more from Jeff, you can head to goinswriter.com and also consider coming. I know it’s last minute notice now, to our August event in Melbourne. We do have a handful of tickets both to our beginner event—we have a whole day of training for our beginners who want to start a blog or who’ve just started their blog. Jeff will be talking at that, he’ll be giving a keynote on how to develop your voice. 

If you’re a little bit more experienced, whether you are intermediate level or more advanced, Jeff will be at our mastermind event as well. As he mentioned in his interview, he loves masterminding and I’ve seen him in action at that type of event, he’s excellent, which is why we’ve got him to our event. Our events are in August in Melbourne. I know that cuts out some of you, but if you are able to get to Melbourne, head over to problogger.com/events. Hopefully, there’s still a few tickets available and we’d love to see you at that particular event.

Thanks for listening today. Our show notes today, and there’s a full transcription of this podcast at problogger.com/podcast/279. Thanks and we’ll chat in the next episode, 280. Thanks for listening.

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Jul 23 2019

33mins

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278: Evolve Don’t Revolve Your Blogging

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Evolve Your Blog

Does it feel like you’re going around in circles with your blog? It’s easy to revolve in your blogging.

Let’s look back at my keynote presentation titled, Evolve Don’t Revolve, from ProBlogger’s Evolve event in 2017. 

It highlights my journey as a blogger and areas where you can evolve your own blog and online business.

Plus, the 2017 keynote features a Q & A with Pat Flynn, who shares how he achieved success by evolving his blog, Smart Passive Income.

https://www.slideshare.net/problogger/evolve-dont-revolve

ProBlogger’s Evolve 2019 event in Melbourne is happening soon!  

  • August 10: Training Day (Beginner/Intermediate)
    • Four key areas of building a successful blog
  • August 10-11: Mastermind (Intermediate/Advanced)
    • Spend time with other bloggers, online creators, and entrepreneurs to workshop your blog and business

Jeff Goins will present this year’s keynote titled, Finding Your Voice as a Blogger. He’s the author of Real Artists Don’t Starve.

Fellow expert bloggers, Nicole Avery, James Schramko, Kelly Exeter, and Shayne Tilley, will talk about their knowledge and experience.

For more information about Evolve 2019, go to Problogger.com/events. Don’t forget to sign-up by June 30, 2019, to get the Early Bird price. 

Links and Resources for Evolve Don’t Revolve Your Blogging:

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Darren: Hey there, friends. It’s Darren Rowse from ProBlogger. Welcome to Episode 278 of the ProBlogger Podcast. The podcast is designed to help you start a blog, to build that blog, and to monetize it. 

Today, I’ve got a special treat for you. It is a keynote that I gave a couple of years ago at our ProBlogger event in Melbourne. It’s titled Evolve Don’t Revolve. It’s all about how as bloggers and online entrepreneurs, it’s really easy to revolve in our blogging, to just go around in circles. I don’t know if you can relate to that of feeling going around in circles. I certainly can. There’s been so many times over my 15 years of blogging where I’ve realized I’m just treading water, I stopped growing, I stopped evolving. The call of this keynote is to look at seven different areas where you can evolve your blog and online business.

Also, a taster of what we do at our Evolve event, at our ProBlogger event, which we’ve been running it for quite a few years. We’ve got our new event coming up in August of this year on the 10th and 11th of August, again, in Melbourne. I want to tell you a little bit about that event before we get into the keynote. There’s two options for those of you who want to come to our event in Melbourne. On the 10th of August, we’ve got a training day. This is a one day event for beginners, intermediate level bloggers. It’s also probably relevant for other content creators as well. 

If you head to problogger.com/events you can actually see a rundown of what we’re doing at that particular event. Largely though, it’s me. You’ll get a full day of me teaching on the four key areas of building a successful blog. I’m going to talk for about an hour about content and crafting great content for your blog. I’ll talk about evolving your engagement with your readers, how to build community on your blog, how to find new readers for your blog, and then, how to monetize your blog. 

This is perfect if you are a beginner or intermediate level. If you’re just starting out, you just set up your blog, maybe with our Start a Blog course, this is brilliant to help you get the ball rolling. If you’re more intermediate, maybe you’ve been blogging for a while, you want to evolve what you’re doing, maybe from a hobby blog to a professional blog where you make money from it, or maybe you’ve had a blog that’s going a little bit dormant, a little bit stagnant, and you want to give it a refresh, then this is the perfect event for you.

You will also, in that event, hear from Jeff Goins, who we’re bringing out from Nashville, Tennessee in the States. He’s going to come out and do the keynote on finding your voice as a blogger. He’ brilliant on that particular topic and a really great teacher when it comes to writing and communicating on a blog. You’ll also hear a little bit from Nicole Avery at the end of that day as well. She’ll talk about productivity and really help you shape what you’re going to do as a result of the day.

The other option for those of you who are a little bit more intermediate and advanced is to come along to our mastermind. This is the second time we’ve held masterminds at our ProBlogger event. It’s being held this time over two days, the 10th and the 11th of August, again, in Melbourne. We’ll actually overlap with our training day. You’ll hear the same keynote from Jeff Goins at the start of the day. The rest of the two days, you’ll hear from some other people including James Schramko, who is a Sydney-based content creator and business owner. He’s brilliant on selling and helping you to grow a business. He’s brilliant on membership sites and just a really smart guy. You also get to sit around the table with Jeff and James in masterminding, myself as well on the second day. Nicole is there as well. We’ve also got Kelly Exeter, who’s brilliant on writing, editing, also design, self-publishing. And Shayne Tilley from 99Designs, who’s spoken at all of our events. He’s brilliant on creating products via blog marketing and just really helping you to shape your business. 

You get the opportunity at the mastermind to sit with all of those people and also other attendees. This is where the real value comes when you sit with other bloggers, online creators, entrepreneurs, and spend a couple of days really workshoping your business. If you like to get to our event on the 10th and 11th of August this year, just head over to problogger.com/events. You can see all the details there. We do currently have an early bird offer and that ends at the end of June. You don’t have long to grab your tickets at that special rate.

All right, I’m going to get into today’s keynote. You’ll also, at the end of this keynote, hear from a familiar voice to many of you, from Pat Flynn. Pat was at our event. We fly out at least one international guest every year. This year it’s Jeff Goins, but Pat was at our event two years ago. I interviewed Pat on stage and there’s a bit of Q&A with our audience as well. As we talk particularly, again, about him and how he’s evolved his blog. Pat is just a brilliant example of someone who has done that brilliantly over the years. What he’s doing today is very different to what he started out doing. I think that’s the reason that he has had so much success. 

So, settle in, maybe grab yourself a beverage or something to eat because this goes for about an hour, a bit over an hour. You might even want to break it down into two sessions; that’s totally fine as well. There’s lots of practical stuff in this. If you also want to checkout the slides, head over today to our show notes at problogger.com/podcast/278 where you’ll be able to get the slides. There are a few things in this talk where I do refer to stuff that’s on the screen including a few jokes and funny bits as well. Hope you enjoy this keynote. Then, I’ll come back at the end just to wrap things up.

I was interviewed on a radio just recently. Someone asked me that same question but they asked me to go back to the very start of my blog and said, “What has changed in your blogging since you started?” Now, I started blogging in 2002. It was a mind-blowing question to be asked because everything has changed in my blogging since 2002 except for the fact that a blog is pretty much the same thing. It’s chronologically organized information, it’s got comments usually, and it’s content, it’s useful content. That’s always been my philosophy. Fifteen years of blogging, things have changed a lot for me. 

This is the first article anyone ever wrote about me. It was written in 2006. I found it the other day as a screenshot. When I read the article, I realized things have changed but also the picture. Hopefully, I looked a little less stressed than I did back then. I don’t know what it was but this photographer just seemed obsessed with me putting my hands in my head. These are the pictures he took that day. I thought I was maybe looking seriously or maybe wanted to cover up the fact that I was bald.

Anyway, things have changed for me. I now have a pose slightly differently for photos that’s partly because I’ve got an Instagram-obsessed wife and she knows you’ve got to […] this kind of stuff. Things have changed a lot and I look back on those times and think things have changed for me a lot. 

This is my first blogpost. When I first published it, I didn’t look like this. I’ve started on Blogspot which became Blogger and my first theme was a free theme. There was hardly six to choose from, and it was navy blue, black, and monochrome. It was the most ugly thing that you’ve ever seen.

Then, this is my first attempt at a blog design. It’s pretty much the only time I’ve ever attempted a blog design and I realized very quickly that even after three weeks of work to get to this point that I wasn’t really very good at it. Even if you look at that post, you’ll see things have changed. I used tiny little fonts. It was peaches at all on any post that I wrote. The tools that I was using, Blogger, they were very basic. You couldn’t even have comments on Blogger when I first started. You had to install a script. There’s lots of things have changed since 2002.

The next question I was asked in the interview when I recapped some of these things was, “How did you make the change from where you were then to where you are now?” This is the most impossible question I’ve been asked because I knew that the interview only had three minutes to go. “How did you do it? How do you transition from those awkward starts that we all start with to a point where you have a business around your blog or you’re a full-time blogger, or whatever it is that is your goal?”

I completely stuffed up my answer. I’ve been stressing about how I answered that on the radio that day and I’ve been thinking about how I should’ve responded. If I have 45 minutes to answer, I probably would’ve told you what I’m about to tell you. That’s what I want to really just give my proper answer today, how do you change from those awkward starts to building a business to realizing your goals of blogging?

The first thing I wished I said was that persistence is really 90% of it. That’s not the sexiest answer. It’s not a strategic answer, but it’s true. I love this quote from Albert Einstein, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I’ve stuck with problems longer.” I think it’s probably a bit of false modesty in that from Albert Einstein, saying he’s not that smart, but I really relate to that. I look around this room and I know I’m not the best writer in this room. I’m not the best writer out there. I’m not the best marketer. I’m not the best at technology. I’m certainly not the best blog designer. I’m not the best at anything, but I really stuck at it for a long time and I think persistence has really paid off for me. 

I love the story of the turquoise and the hare or the turtle and the hare. You’re going to see a few turtles today because I really relate to that turtle. Taking one small step after another. Keeping the momentum going is just so important. Really, I think 90% of any success I had has come from persistence. 

What can you persist with? I’ve shared this quite a few times now in this event. Success is usually more about doing the things that you know you should be doing rather than trying to find the secret strategies, the secret sauce all the time. I say this at the front of this event because a lot of our new attendees often come going, “What’s the real secret? How are we really going to do this?” and they’re looking for that thing that’s just going to escalate things for them. Some of the strategies that you hear will escalate you forward. But really, what is going to grow you the most is doing the things you already know you should be doing and they’re the things that you probably knew when you first started your blog already.

We call these Pillars of ProBlogging and you may have heard us talking about these before. Chris Garrett, who wrote the ProBlogger book with me, came up with this in 2009. We actually based the first event on these four pillars and that’s what we’re doing again today.

The first one is content. On day one, when I wrote that first blog post, I knew that I needed to write content. We all do. This is just no brainer stuff. You look at that first blog that you set up and you see there’s no post. Instinctively, you need to create content for it unless it’s not really a blog. For me, this is obviously the key to it. Every post you write is building the asset of your blog. Every useful piece of content that you write, it’s the archives that really is the value.

A lot of bloggers do look for that viral piece of content. They just want to write one piece of content that’s going to escalate them. Occasionally, those viral pieces of content do come and they do escalate you forward. But really, it’s persisting with your content. This is one of those things you already know that you should be doing but you need to persist with it. That’s so important to do.

The second pillar is community. It’s engagement. It’s about interaction. The way we’ve been in 2002 is changing. Previous to 2000, I reckon that most people went online trying to download stuff. A lot of it is dodgy. They were satisfied to go online and get stuff, receive stuff, download stuff. That’s what I used to do. I used to go online and research the essays I was writing. I was studying at that time. I was downloading stuff.

Around 2000, and even before, but really started to escalate 2000–2002, people realized that they could interact more. The web became a much more interactive space and this is the beginnings of social media. I probably started with user boards, internet chats, and some of these older technologies, but blogging really escalated this. This is the reason I started blogging was I saw it was an interactive medium and I saw that people were really engaging. 

The day I installed comments on my first blog, it took me about a week to do it. I saw my blog improving incredibly. As I improved the content I was writing, it’s that engagement. People sharing their stories, sharing their experience, disagreeing, and encouraging, those types of things have really improved the content that I was creating. I realized that my blog grew faster the more engaging it was.

Community is so important, but the thing about community is that it doesn’t just happen in one day. It takes time and it takes persistence. Every time you respond to a comment, every time you respond to an email, every time you engage with someone on social media, you’re building the asset of your blog. It’s persistence with community and engagement that is so important.

Number three pillar is traffic. Remember that first day where you realized you’ve written a piece of content and no one is reading it except for you? That feeling sometimes last for some of us for weeks. Then, someone shows up on you reblog and you realize, someone found your blog. I remember that moment very clearly. I published my first post and then, my next feeling was, “How am I going to get people to read the post?” I did what almost every blogger does. I spammed all my friends and said, “Here’s my blog.” That’s how most of us start. 

Most of us realize that we can’t really sustain that approach for too long. Our friends are only going to put out with those emails for the first few days. But we’ve learnt something on that first day. We’ve learnt that we need to take responsibility for driving traffic to our blog. It’s something that we need to take initiative to.

We all have these dreams that if we just write good enough content, floods of traffic is going to come to us. But in the early days of our blog, particularly, we need to take the initiative. We need to take steps to drive traffic and that really shouldn’t go away. We should always be thinking, “How am I doing to drive traffic to my blog? Where can I be engaging? Where can I be useful? Where can I build my profile and drive some traffic back to my blog?” This is something we need to persist with.

Now, in time, word of mouth does kick in. Our readers begin to spread the word for us. But even today, 15years later, I’m still asking myself, “How can I get traffic to my blog?” In fact, just two days ago, I said to my team, “We really need to up our game in this area,” because we’ve noticed our traffic’s sliding from some of our old steady sources of traffic like Facebook. The Facebook algorithm is killing us all. At the moment, we need to be more proactive with that. We need to take some more initiative on that front. Traffic is the third pillar. This is all the stuff that we all know on the first day of our blog. We know we need content, engagement, and traffic. 

The fourth pillar is another thing. If we want a profitable blog, we need to be proactive in the area of monetization. For me, this really didn’t even kick in for a year-and-a-half because I didn’t know that you could monetize a blog back in 2002; no one was really doing it. But again, I learned very quickly that even though I dreamt of a passive income straight from my blog, that I needed to do some work to get that passive income stream going in the early days. This is another area we need to persist with.

Now, this is a common theme at a ProBlogger event. If you’ve been to our events before, you know I talk a lot about putting time aside to monetize your blog. I think it was about four years ago. I put a challenge to our community and said, “Put aside 15 minutes everyday to monetize your blog in some way.” If we all put aside time to write content, we put aside time to engage with our audience, we put aside time to promote our blog, but most of us don’t put aside time on a regular daily basis to monetize our blog, at least a lot of bloggers don’t. Four years ago, I put that challenge out. 

I remember, a lot of bloggers took up that challenge. Twelve months later at the next event, I was amazed at how many bloggers came up to me and said, “You know, I took the 15-minute challenge and I wrote a book this year. I wrote a book I’ve never have written. I wrote […] guide, launched a course. I launched a membership site.” I can see people in the room who actually came up to me and said, “That 15 minutes a day challenge changed my blog.” To me, it was really a great illustration of how persistence in this pillar pays off. I think this is probably one of the biggest messages I want to get across to new users. If you want a profitable blog, you need to take some initiative in this, no matter what model you used. Persistence in this area is so important.

Persist with content, engagement, traffic, monetization. It’s the accumulation of the little steps that you take in these areas that’s really is going to put you in the best position for a profitable blog. It’s not the secret strategies. It’s these four things. That’s why we designed today around these four things. We want you to persist in these areas. 

Here’s a question for you, which of these four things your weakest link? Which one is the weak one for you at the moment? Where have you been putting all your energy? That’s great that you’ve been putting your energy there but where, maybe, have you been taking the foot of the accelerator this year?

For me, every year, it’s been different. Every year, I realize that there’s been times where I really haven’t put much time into my content. Or there’s been times where I really just not serve my readers and engage with them as much as I could’ve. Or like this year, maybe I got a little bit lax at driving traffic, maybe I’ve been focusing on other things, or maybe it’s been monetization.

There are times in your blog’s life cycle where you probably do need to focus more on one thing. There are other times where you need to just ask yourself again, “Where have I been missing out?” That’s one of the quickie questions I would ask you to ponder today as you think about your next steps with your blog.

Persist. Persisting is so important but it’s not enough. Often, I hear business quotes. There’s a lot of quotes about persisting. Sometimes it sounds like all you have to