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Is WordPress Still the Best?

I am a huge fan of WordPress.

I’ve run my business on it for a decade, recommended it to thousands and feel eternally grateful for what it’s allowed me to do.

But is it still the best option?

As you might have noticed, the blogging scene has changed a lot in the last five years.

There’s free platforms like Tumblr and Medium that are now absolutely booming and doing things slightly differently.

Squarespace, the ultra-sexy hosting service (and podcast industry mega-patron!) is everywhere and is pretty awesome too.

Then there’s the fact that a lot of people blog on social networking sites like Instagram and Facebook and that seems to be enough for them.

Today we’re going to take a look at whether WordPress is still the best bet for bloggers and website owners who are just starting out.

As always, I’d love your comments below.

Every platform as it’s own advantages

One of the first things to note here is that each platform will have some features and advantages that are lacking in the other platforms.

When you’re looking to start a blog or website it’s important to note these features because one something that’s important to you might be completely irrelevant to me.

For example, if you write a blog on LinkedIn you’ll enjoy the fact that it’s pretty easy for all of your contacts to see the articles that you write, and everyone who reads it will be pretty targeted to your niche. Try to integrate a product to sell or a mailing list, however, and you’ll be pretty stuck.

So, when reading the rest of this article please note that the evaluations are made based on what I consider to be the most important features and options for running a successful blog.

So, what does WordPress have going for it?

Let’s start this little analysis by looking at some interesting facts and stats about WordPress so you have an idea of what we are working with.

  • Over 24% of the entire web is powered by WordPress.
  • There are over 500 new sites created per day.
  • Over 1,200,000 people have downloaded WordPress plugins.
  • WordPress is available in 56 languages.
  • 17 posts are published every second on WordPress

It truly is the most popular platform in the world and for good reason. Here is why I still use and recommend WordPress for bloggers and online entrepreneurs of all levels.

Please keep in mind that I’m talking about a self-hosted WordPress blog here as opposed to the free version.

The main advantage that WordPress has always had over its competition is the seemingly unlimited ability to customize everything from the source code to the look at feel.

plugins

As you can see above, there are roughly 40,000 plugins available – each one giving you new abilities and functions on your blog – and it’s all usually for free or a very small cost (compared to actually building the feature).

You might add a store, harden your security, add icons, generate opt-in forms, change your header design, improve your SEO… the list is endless.

And if you don’t like the way a particular plugin works you can open up the code and tweak it yourself. Or you can pay someone to re-write the whole darn thing until it works exactly like you need it to. You can do this at the plugin level, or open up your server and change it from that level. You have complete control – something missing from many other platforms.

wordpress themes

Now if we take that same idea over to the topic of themes/templates you’ll see that the WordPress theme directory itself has over 2,000 themes in just the popular section alone – all of them free. There are thousands more available.

Then you can go premium and look at sites like Theme Forest which has around 9,000 premium themes designed by professional WordPress designers whose sole job is to design themes that function well.

People who say that places like Squarespace are better because they offer better support often overlook this fact. Sure, you can get support on the free WordPress forums, but you also have support from your theme designer and your WordPress host.

Once again, if you’re not happy with the way your blog is looking you can open up the source code in five seconds and change colors, fonts, or engage a designer to help you re-work the whole thing.

For me, having a WordPress blog is all about owning your asset, controlling your future, and having complete freedom to tinker and tweak whatever you like.

On most other platforms (Medium, Tumblr, Squarespace, etc.) you are limited to their servers or their APIs and as such there is always going to be something that is limited. It might not be a big things, but when you’re trying to run a business it might just be big enough to be a problem.

There’s got to be some downsides, right?

As was mentioned at the top of the post, every blogging host or platform has it’s downsides. And, as seems to happen with WordPress, sometimes your big advantages can turn into weaknesses.

Security issues come with popularity

For example, as WordPress becomes more and more popular we see increased instances of security breaches. It makes sense – the more people using the platform the luckier the intruders can get by sheer statistical probability.

This issue is compounded by the fact that the open source nature of WordPress means that anyone can build a plugin and that plugin can either have bad intentions behind it, or just be coded in a way that leaves it vulnerable.

To avoid this, it’s important to always use up to date plugins, make sure you read the reviews first, and follow basic security protocols on your blog to ensure it stays safe. And remember, WordPress is not less secure than anything else it is just a target because more people are using it improperly.

Lack of direct sources of traffic

One of the reasons Medium and Tumblr have been doing so well as new blogging platforms is that they have their own little ecosystems that feed your blog’s traffic and chances of success.

For example, the front page of Medium has staff picks and popular items for the day, and you’ll see recommendations from those in your social networks.

This means that content has a good chance of being seen and shared by someone without all of the blogging SEO work that we need on WordPress self hosted setups.

And here’s one I found on the front page of Tumblr today that has had around 60,000 shares within the Tumblr network itself.

https://creativekandi.tumblr.com/post/159852440361/bill-nye-should-just-be-the-answer-to-all-our

The way that these newer platforms have started to bridge the gap between “website” and “social network” is very interesting and I think it will be a trend that we see more of in the future.

This does not mean, however, that it’s the best place to start a blog or website (especially if you want to make money with it) because you simply don’t know if it’ll be around in five years. Look at MySpace and Google+ and similar websites which everyone thought would be around forever. If you’d invested your time and effort into building a career there you may be in trouble.

So what’s the verdict on WordPress?

While some other blogging platforms have made some big inroads recently, I still can’t imagine moving away from a self-hosted WordPress setup.

For me, it really comes down to the fact that WordPress offers you near unlimited options for configuration, design changes, feature development and expansion. You are never going to run out of room or power, and you’re never boxed in to a different company’s API or strictures.

And while a lot of people decry WordPress updates as annoying, what they really represent is constant improvements, security patches, feature additions, etc.

It is actually pretty amazing for something you essentially get for free.

If you want to build a blog that supports your family or perhaps is the basis of a business that allow you to work from home then I would 99 times out of 100 recommend a the WordPress and host combination for the sheer fact that it’s changeable and you control it.

What do you think about WordPress?

As always, I’d really love to know your opinions on how WordPress compares with the other platforms out there. I sometimes am a bit worried that I’m blinded to the features of the new players because I’ve been using this setup for such a long time, so please feel free to teach me a thing or two in the comments below.

Don’t Miss The Hottest Blogging Trends Of 2017

A number of active blogs numbers over 100 million, so how do you make your blog a standout?  Whether you are starting a blog for the first time, or you are looking to get more traffic to your blog, there are always trends to follow to make your blog shine.  Follow these blogging trends to get your site the following it deserves.

Include Engaging Media

Blogs are no longer just made up of blocks of text and a few images scattered here and there.  In today’s blogging environment, a variety of content is key.  This means not only making sure your images are high quality, but varying your use of different types of media. Fun and creative videos are the latest and most popular trend in blogging. Do not hesitate to create videos and encourage followers to follow your social media accounts. 

You can create videos using GoPros, amazing new drones, and even your iPhone! There’s no excuse not to use video today.

BlogPress Images and Video
Taking your own photos and video is a great way to get really creative with your blog.

The crème de la crème of blogging at the moment, however, has to be live streaming.  Live streaming is at this time the most immersive experience for viewers because it puts them right there with you.  Followers have the ability to interact with you, ask questions, and comment while you are streaming.  More and more people want to buy into a totally immersive experience in which they are engaging with the content as it happens in real-time.  In many cases, it goes farther than what many blog videos and images cannot do.  Depending on the brand of your blog, you can conduct interviews with special guests or even immortalize your travel adventures.

Go for Quality Over Quantity

BlogPress: Blogging, Training, and Incredible Personal SupportToday, there is simply too much content on the web to sift through.  The sheer amount of blogs that may surround your topic can be overwhelming, so the answer to this is simple: less is more.  Readers and viewers today want quality work.  Their time is precious and they want to find something worth looking at.  If they cannot find it in your content, they will quickly move on to something else.  The cure to this is to elevate the quality of your content.  Feel free to go in-depth about your specific entry, or divide the topic into a series whether it be politics, lifestyle, or media.  Sometimes this means writing more, and sometimes this means writing less.  If you are not the best editor, perhaps have a trusted friend or family member who has the skills to elevate your work for you.

Keep in Touch With Your Followers

A great deal of criticism has surfaced about the cold and impersonal nature of social media.  While these critiques do have their merits, they don’t have to hold true for you.  You can influence your followers by becoming more personable.  This means that when a follower reaches out to you, you should make an effort to reach out to them.  Often, a popular blogger or YouTuber will have followers that look up to them, so making yourself accessible via a bio, a question and answer session, or a live stream will help your followers connect to you.  It may be impossible to answer everyone’s questions, but you do have the ability to reach out when it’s appropriate.

Try Guest Posting

BlogPress: Blogging, Training, & Support
Guest Posting is a great way to get your blog in front of a new audience.

Instead of competing with your fellow bloggers, try contacting them for a guest post on something you enjoy.  It need not be a direct competitor, but you can write for a variety of blogs that cover a vast network of topics.  Form relationships with your fellow bloggers and you may be surprised at the following you will gain.

Blogging should be a fun and engaging experience for both you and the audience.  If you want to continue to have a successful blog in the future, follow these tips add a nice polish to your blog.

The post Don’t Miss The Hottest Blogging Trends Of 2017 appeared first on BlogPress.


Don’t Miss The Hottest Blogging Trends Of 2017 was first posted on April 25, 2017 at 12:31 pm.

Don’t Put Ads on Your Blog

ads on blogs

Ads are still the primary way that bloggers try to make an income online. But is it really the best solution? Probably not.

There seems to be a common perception (among newer bloggers in particular) that the best way to make an income with a blog is to write content and then put some kind of advert in the sidebar or at the top of each post.

I regularly hear from people who want to know how to get more AdSense clicks, or where to find advertisers to pay them for a prime piece of website real estate.

In my experience, this is one of the worst ways to make money online.

Today’s post will take a look at why ads are not the best way to make an income from your blog, and what alternatives are available to us in the short and long term.

Note: I’m always happy to be wrong and learn new things so make sure you read to the end if you’ve got a different point of view!

Why I don’t like ads on blogs

Let’s start this post by jumping right in and looking at why advertising and programs like AdSense aren’t the best fit for blogs.

  • Lack of quality control
    One of the first things you notice when you sign up to a program that delivers ads on your blog is that you often don’t have much control over the ads that are then displayed on your blog. I often find it a bit sad to see a high quality magazine, for example, displaying ads from questionable products that they would otherwise never approve.
  • Site load time
    If you run a speed test on any website that uses an advertising network you can almost guarantee that it will be slowing down their site. As we know, a fast loading blog is essential for good Google rankings and, as such, we should be a bit careful about installing anything that affects this negatively.
  • Low earnings per lost reader
    When you think about it, a program like AdSense is sending readers away from your site for a few cents (or maybe a few dollars in a good niche). While this can add up to a lot, it’s still a relatively cheap way to lose readers that are quite difficult to acquire through content creation, SEO, networking, etc.
  • Intrusive display options
    From an advertisers points of view, they are going to want to maximize the amount of coverage they get on your blog. But from your readers point of view, that represents an annoying intrusion or a big break in page momentum. This can have a huge effect on bounce rate and subscriber conversion rates.
  • Lack of trust
    In some extreme cases, ads can cause readers to lose trust in the site. For example, there are some blogs that have so many ads and pop ups that I no longer visit them (even with a pop up blocker) because I don’t like the scripts and cookies and some of the nasty things they can do to your computer.

We’ll take a look at the flip side of all this in a minute, but these are the main reasons why I don’t think bloggers should consider ads as a main source of income for their long term careers.

A quick example of the problem with ads

Now that we’ve gone over the basics, I thought it would be good to look at an example of how advertising might have a negative effect on a site. Please keep in mind that this is me talking personally as a user/reader of a site. I don’t have any data on this particular example.

The above is a screenshot from News.com.au which, at the time, had at least five ads on the homepage for well-loved painkiller, Panadol. For many web users this makes it extremely difficult to determine where the news ends and the advertising begins. I think there would be a lot of accidental clicks, which, to me, doesn’t do any favors for the advertiser or the seller.

I acknowledge that news sites in particular are in a difficult position at the moment as revenues fall, fake news gains popularity, and budgets are tight. But I can’t help wonder whether this is doing more harm than good over then long term, as opposed to sites like the New York Times and New Yorker which are adjusting quite well with subscription models.

Note: This is also why I don’t recommend free blogging platforms where ads are often a non-negotiable part of the user experience.

So, what’s the alternative?

At this point you’re probably wondering what a good alternative is. That’s where it gets a little bit tricky and we have to start thinking from a more long term perspective.

  1. Develop a strategy for the future
    The first thing we need to do is develop a long term blogging strategy that factors in all the different goals and ideas you have for your blog over the next five or so years. This really helps to make the next stages more focused, and gives you ideas about where to go next.
  2. Explore temporary sources of income
    In my guide on how to make money from a new blog we go into some better details about what is possible for short term income sources that enhance your blog instead of detracting from it. For example, using your blog as an Internet business card to sell services to businesses in your area, freelancing, etc. This really helps while you’re getting established.
  3. Build a mailing list around a particular niche
    Throughout all of this, we should be focusing the majority of our efforts on building a mailing list that is very closely targeted to the area that we want to monetize in the future. For example, if your blog is about Bonsai growing you could set up a mailing list with a weekly Bonsai expert tip and, throughout this process, introduce people to some affiliate products that you use with your own Bonsai garden at home.
  4. Create a product that appeals to your mailing list
    The majority of bloggers who have gained some level of success have created a product that they then sold to a mailing list that was primed for the sale. Examples include ViperChill opening an SEO training course after writing about Google for months, Darren Rowse selling photography guides to his enormous community at Christmas, Pat Flynn building a podcast player while also having the best how to podcast guide on the net, etc.
  5. Reinforce these systems with more traffic
    Once you have a good system of email list > affiliate products > original products set up then your main job is to drive relevant traffic to those posts and pages that promote the funnel. This can mean getting more traffic Google and then exploring things like advertising, guest posting, instagram marketing, etc. as a way to ensure that you get a continuous and reinforcing flow.

One of the main reasons that I like this style of monetization is that the whole process, if you so choose, can be of value to your readers – the content that originally lands them, the email course, the products – all of it can solve problems and help people in their daily lives.

A quick example of this being done right

There are so many places to see this type of strategy but I thought I would just show you one that I really like in the hope that it’ll give you a few ideas for your own blog. This example is from The Chess Website.

chess example

This is a fantastic demonstration of how to use free content as a way to encourage people to sign up for a highly relevant paid product – in this case the unlocking of further strategies.

The Chess Website is also prolific on YouTube and its videos get millions of views to its free training and strategy videos.

Once you visit the website to practice more chess openings or strategies you see that you can get many more tutorials unlocked by paying a small membership fee. This is a really flawless transition from free to paid content and gives them so many opportunities for further promotions as they already have an active and very engaged customer base.

When are ads on blogs a good idea?

I couldn’t end this post without taking a look at the inevitable situations where ads are a reasonable idea.

This mainly occurs where traffic is relatively large but the time on site is relatively low because readers are getting the information they need quite quickly, or the information doesn’t require much analysis.

For example, product review sites where the products aren’t that interesting (think fridges, vacuums, etc.) are going to really struggle to get people subscribing for a mailing list. It’s different when the product has a cult following (think iPhones, video games, PC hardware, etc.), but where someone is just looking to see if a thing is good or bad based on others’ reviews then there isn’t much more you can do than ads.

Another situation might be where you site gets a lot of traffic but is about a very generalized group of sub-topics. Some magazines and newspapers run into this issue – while one reader might like to see articles on climate science updates that doesn’t mean they’ll want to read about elections in New York. In this situation it’s still preferable to use affiliate product where you can, but some advertising might be necessary.

The last option I wanted to throw out there is when an advertiser approaches you directly and wants to place ads on your blog exclusively. They might buy naming rights, or sponsor your site for a period of time. This could happen, for example, if your blog is about a new movie or video game that is coming out. In that scenario you have complete control over the ads and the price.

Do you use ads on your blog?

I know that a lot of you gals and guys use ads on your blog and I’d really like to know whether you disagree with my assessment, or whether I’ve missed any important point. Have ads worked well for you? Or have you found another alternative that you think bloggers might like to know about?

Please leave a comment.

Top photo © Danomyte Scared Man.

Forget Memes. Here’s What Blogs Can Really Do.

no bloggingBlogging has long been an effective way to share ideas and information, but it hasn’t always been something that the cool kids embrace. Should that worry us?

Last week someone kidded with me by saying that “…only idiots blog, so don’t do it”.

Don’t worry, they were joking and I had a good laugh! But it did get me thinking about all the positive things that blogs can do, and how they’re really not just for selfies and re-sharing memes.

A good blog can change the world. Maybe not everyone knows about that.

Today I want to show you some of the most inspiring and effective blogs on the net (like, way better than Blog Tyrant) and why I think this medium is still one of the most powerful forms of communication around.

My own feelings about blogging

Blogging has quite literally changed my life.

It’s allowed me to build a career where I can work from home, travel with my partner, and even donate a little bit of money to some charities that I really love. And while I honestly don’t think Blog Tyrant is anything special, I feel so lucky to be able to work on a website with such a great community of friends and fellow web entrepreneurs.

I don’t say any of this to make myself seem good, I just feel it’s important to show examples of how blogging can really impact both the blogger and the reader. For me it has been an absolutely fantastic process, and something that I will always evangelize in the hope that it will spread little chunks of goodness around the web.

Blogging isn’t for idiots, it’s actually very important

As the world becomes more deeply digitized, websites and blogs are going to play an extraordinarily important role in education, modern thinking, culture and, as we saw last year, how effectively our political systems work.

I’m also convinced that blogging will play an bigger role in our economy as artificial intelligence and robotics steps in and takes over more and more traditional job roles. Millions will turn to the Internet to look for supplementary income opportunities.

So, what I thought I would do now is go above and beyond this little blog and show you some examples that have had a significant impact on their community, the Internet itself, and maybe even the whole world.

1. GiveWell – Charity reviews and research

give well

GiveWell describes themselves as “…a nonprofit dedicated to finding outstanding giving opportunities through in-depth analysis. Thousands of hours of research have gone into finding our top-rated charities. They’re evidence-backed, thoroughly vetted, and underfunded.” The idea is basically that they help you donate to charities in the most financially effective way. You know that every dollar that you donate is having an impact.

But the interesting thing is how much their blog shaped my own ideas about charity. Their articles are brilliantly researched and really help to open your eyes to new ideas. This article on whether to give now or later is a good example.

This is one blog/website that is read by thousands of people and organizations around the world and is having a very direct impact on things like getting kids healthy through de-worming, and by making charities more effective and transparent.

2. Gates Notes – The blog of Bill Gates

bill gates blog

We all know Bill Gates as the man behind Microsoft. But, for me, the more important thing is that Bill has used his wealth to make the world a better place through extensive and effective charity and things like The Giving Pledge where he, Melinda Gates, and Warren Buffet have encouraged dozens of billionaires to donate their wealth to philanthropy.

This particular blog is important because it shows Mr. Gates leading by example. It is exciting to see a billionaire technology giant writing about topics like How Foreign Aid Helps Americans and How You Can Be a More Effective Donor, and so on.

These articles are shared and read by millions, including policy-makers, those with money to burn, and, perhaps most importantly, the younger generation who will one day take the reigns

3. Wait But Why – A new post every sometimes

wait but why

Wait But Why is one of the only blogs where I have sat quite literally for the whole day and read. That is such a rare feeling and something that I really value.

This is the type of long-form content blog that makes you think about things in an entirely different way. The posts are meticulously researched and, best of all, it’s written in a way that is so approachable and warm that you just want to keep going deeper and deeper. I can’t help but imagine how many people have had breakthrough moments reading this stuff.

Articles like this one (where he interviewed Elon Musk!) must have inspired so many people to study science, and this one to make people read more books because, actually, you only have about 300 books left before you stop reading for the rest of eternity. I’d avoid the article on A.I. though, it actually caused me to lose sleep!

4. I Used to Be a Human Being – New York Magazine

human being

This one is not a whole blog but a single article that originally appeared in a print publication and then was syndicated online. The article I Used to Be a Human Being is one of the most beautiful pieces I have ever read online, and made me genuinely re-think the way I work, live and interact with the world around me.

To me, this is a fantastic example of how a blog format can take an amazing piece of writing and spread it to the masses. While the New York Magazine print edition has decent circulation numbers, it’s online presence reaches far more people and allows articles like this to be shared with people who might otherwise have never purchased or subscribed.

One has to wonder whether Andrew Sullivan would have had the opportunity to publish articles in magazines like this one without an already exceptional and popular blog of his own.

5. Dooce – I like babies but I couldn’t eat a whole one

dooce

A genuine cultural icon. Dooce, written by Heather Armstrong, was one of the first and arguably the most successful in the niche of personal bloggers (and that awful term “mommy bloggers”). She started back in 2001 and was even fired from her job for blogging about a bad experience – that lead to the term “Dooced” which has been used by people all over the world. For a long time Heather was considered one of the most influential women in online media.

The thing that really stood out to me about Heather’s blog was how openly she wrote about depression and the difficult sides of parenting. These articles were read by millions of people around the world and, as you can see on this post, the comment threads fill up with people sharing stories and opening up about their own struggles.

Heather really inspired a whole generation of bloggers who started writing and sharing their stories. While I know not all of them went on to Dooce’s level of fame and fortune, I have no doubts that this genre has helped a lot of people deal with day-to-day existence.

6. Tree Hugger – Sustainability with Sass

tree hugger

Tree Hugger is a well-established blog that is aiming to make sustainability and green-technology more mainstream. To me, this is a perfect blog as it combines approacability with a very strong brand and ethos. You know exactly what it’s about and it can be something that you bookmark and read regularly to discover new ways to be a contributing human being.

For example, this article on whether our own personal lifestyle choices help the environment in a meaningful way is a really good method for introducing people to more political thoughts about green technology changes. It’s a warning but also quite hopeful. With the current climate emergency, this type of blog is essential.

7. Students for a Free Tibet – Transformation through non-violence

free tibet

I sit here and write this article from a comfortable office. Many of the bloggers behind Students for a Free Tibet, however, are often quite literally risking their freedom in order to share information that tells the world about what is going on inside a Chinese occupied Tibet.

Social media has played an increasingly important role in modern times. During the Arab Spring, for example, we saw how risky it could be to be a blogger, but also how important it was to get truthful information out to the world when a dictatorship might be blocking news access. I can’t imagine how terrifying this must be, and I feel really quite inspired at this very brave use of the blogging format.

8. LGBTQ Nation – World’s most followed LGBTQ news source

LGBTQ news

The Internet has probably done a lot for making LGBTQ issues more mainstream. For example, it’s provided forums and private chat rooms where sexually confused teenagers can get support and seek advice.

Sites like LGBTQ Nation go a long way to ensuring that issues like sexism, homophobia, LGBTQ suicide and depression, etc. don’t go unnoticed. It also shines a light on news that specifically affects a large but often under-represented portion of our population. Here’s a recent example.

9. Medium – Share stories that matter

medium

I was pretty skeptical about Medium when it first came out. And while I still don’t think it’s the best choice for a blog host when you want to build a business or a long term career, the quality and power of this blogging platform is undeniable. They have truly created a place on the net where people come to write good stuff.

For example, there’s the article where the CEO of GoDaddy stopped by to talk about how A.I. will replace jobs, or this article with 12k shares about how quitting a corporate job ruined a life, or this wonderful story with advice from a 30-year-old to his younger self.

So many bloggers are now using Medium to share ideas or get feedback on topics they aren’t sure about. I regularly find myself clicking through to links containing the medium.com URL because I have come to associate much of the work their with quality research, progressive thinking, and helpful communities.

How does your blog affect the world around it?

If you are thinking about starting a blog soon, or already have one in operation, it’s important to think about the impact that you’ll have on those that read your stuff. I often think about this quote when it comes to the Internet:

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them. – the Dalai Lama

I’m not saying that everyone needs to be perfect (I’m certainly not), and we can’t all have blogs that change the world, but in a global society where your writing can reach all countries, and kids have near unlimited access to everything, our blogs play a bigger role than ever.

So that just leaves us to wonder: what impact are we having?

If You Truly Value Blog Comments, You Have to Show Up

Vision

One of the topics that continues to do the rounds is that of blog comments.

Do they still count? Should blogs just switch off comments and become a content publication instead? Are comments even valued as they once were?

This follows the decision by many bloggers and content creators to close down their comments section, citing all the conversation is on social media now, there’s too much spam, and it takes time to moderate the community.

For me, though, it’s less external issues that have caused these sites to close down comments, and more internal ones – namely, the blogger (or blog owner) stopped showing up and caring.

I used to follow a lot of the blogs that closed their comments section(s) down, and something that became clear as they were getting close to that decision was the blogger was seen less and less in the comments.

Whereas before they’d been very active in helping build community and hold active conversations with commenters, now they were only replying to comments that praised them or their post.

That’s if they even showed up at all.

Instead of a thriving, interactive comment section, there was simply comment after comment without a reply, either from the blogger or other commenters.

In that kind of environment, of course blog comments are going to suffer – after all, how long would you stay talking to someone on the phone, or in-person, if there was no reply coming back?

Not long.

Then there’s the “I’m too busy to do all the back-end stuff” argument, which – in fairness – has some validity. But to what degree?

You’re Busy, I’m Busy. And..?

I get it. We’re all busy, and we all have finite time in our days.

There’s only so much we can allocate to our blogs versus elsewhere, and remain effective on both sides of the coin.

But then isn’t that true for everything in life?

Don’t we make decisions based on what we want and how to get there, as opposed to giving up because the work to get there is a little more than what we want to put in?

  • Yes, conversations are happening on social. But guess what? People are complaining that there are less opportunities for conversations on social now the marketers and brands have taken over.
  • Yes, blog comments need moderation. But guess what? Do the legwork early on (blog comment policy, banning offenders, making the comments a fun place to be, etc.) and you’ll actually get a better community.
  • Yes, community growth needs interaction. But guess what? Interact and build that community, and you have a wonderful “base” to build from when you do have something to sell, or need to get your message out to a wider audience.

It’s easy to blame social media for blogging’s woes. Much like blaming others for our own failings in life, scapegoats are more attractive than self-analysis.

But it’s not as clear-cut as “all the conversations are happening on social media”. They may well be happening a lot – but guess where that traffic will come when they want to see the source of that discussion?

Once that traffic arrives, if they find a comments area that looks as fun and inviting as a McDonald’s restaurant does to a food snob, of course they’ll leave immediately.

If, on the other hand, they see a blog that opens up to others, and – imagine this! – actively converses with them, they’ll stay. Comment. Reply. Subscribe.

Social media won’t “kill” blog comments – bloggers will.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Unless you let it be.

Education Blogs: How To Stand Out From The Crowd

Did you know that almost 16 million of Americans participate in education and training programs? It means that if you decide to start an education blog, your audience will be huge.  Educational blogging is a good way to share your experience with people who need it and to become more popular in your industry. Moreover, there is a great opportunity to earn some money and to travel around the world, as you will be able to work online.

Teachers, students, and parents need time and effort to adapt to the changes. They need to get instructions and fresh information. That’s what educational blogging is all about.

Education blogs are usually maintained by teachers, tutors, or even parents. They cover anything from new teaching methods to homeschooling plans. Some bloggers provide full online courses, as well as technology tips and news about the current state of education. They are making huge contributions towards the growth of the industry.

The majority of educational bloggers use their blogs for class blogs, student blogs, and class blogs with individual student blogs. However, personal blogs are also very popular in the education niche.

Education Blogs: How To Stand Out From The Crowd

What Are Education Blogs And Why Do We Need Them?

  • Every blog makes important contributions to the online base of knowledge. Whenever we have questions or problems, we find solutions in high-quality blog posts.
  • They are great for communication between teachers. An educator can use the blog to share their experience with other teachers and ask for their feedback.             
  • Teachers can also use the blog to share news, assignments, reminders, and tips with students and their parents.   
  • Thanks to blogging, teachers, students, and parents can encourage debates on important issues related to education.
  • The students can share their studying methods, as well as the progress they make on different projects. Blogging is a nice way for them to share thoughts and opinions.
  • When a student starts blogging from an early age, they are developing valuable writing skills. Consider it this way: you’re training the next generation of successful bloggers, who will make the Internet better.

It’s clear: any teacher or student can benefit from a blog. There is a huge challenge to overcome, though: there are thousands of blogs that already cover topics similar to the ones you have in mind. Uniqueness and value are the most important principles of blogging. How do you make your project different?

Education Blogs: How To Stand Out From The Crowd

Educational Blogging Tips: How To Stand Out From The Crowd

How do you define the concept uniqueness in blogging? It’s not about thinking of a topic that has never been covered in the history of blogging. Get real: can you think of such topic? Maybe you have an idea, but you can’t maintain a blog based on that premise. Uniqueness is all about tackling trending and evergreen topics in a different way. It’s about finding your voice and conveying it through captivating posts that the audience loves reading. We’ll share some tips that will help you get there.

1. If You’re Tackling Politics, Make Strong Arguments

Every educator and parent have their point of view regarding education. Every blogger, in general, has opinions about society. Whether we like it or not, that point is often related to politics. Criticism is highly necessary for this niche since that’s what drives the education system forward.

However, you have to keep in mind that people don’t like reading blogs exclusively focused on politics and pedagogy. If you really want to bring light to some issues, you need to do it occasionally. Most of all, you have to expose unique arguments and support them with facts. Keep in mind that you’re just another blogger in this niche. You’ll come across different points of view and you’ll have to handle criticism if you cover these topics.

Share Unique Experiences

Storytelling is an effective method for writing blog posts. People are not after strict guidelines and lecturing attitude when they read blogs. They want tips and opinions supported by actual experience.

If you’re an educator, tutor, or homeschooling parent, you should personalize the process of teaching according to the needs of your students. Each student has unique interests and a different capacity to process information. You experiment with different methods so you can share them with the online audience. Think out of the box and provide something valuable for your readers. For example, Julie Petersen, an educational blogger, provides scholarships at her essay writing companies review blog, to help students take the most of their studies.

2. Listen to Your Readers

You already wrote about the ed-tech products you use, you shared your teaching methods, and you covered some personal experiences. Now what? When you’re on a consistent blogging schedule, you’ll inevitably come to a point when you’re blocked. Every blogger faces such blockade. All topics will seem boring. That’s when you need your readers more than ever.

Ask your readers for their opinions at the end of each post you write. They will use that opportunity to give you credit for the good ideas and criticize you for something they don’t agree with. However, they will also ask questions that reveal new topics for you to work on. When you’re listening to your audience, you write more relevant posts.

3. Make Case Studies

HubSpot is one of the most successful marketing blogs on the Internet. Do you know why? First of all, it’s a high-quality blog with huge value for marketers. Many of the articles are supported with case studies, which make the readers aware of the way theory works in practice.

Let’s say you started using a new note-taking app in the classroom. You invited your students to use their tablets instead of the usual notebooks for taking notes. How did that work? How did their productivity, engagement, and efficiency change after this? You can measure their speed in taking notes and note if they are listening more when they don’t have to write in a notebook. Notice what results they will have on the test at the end of the lecture and turn that experience into a case study.

You can turn various classroom experiences into unique case studies.

There is no magic formula that leads you to successful blogging. Focus, persistence, and uniqueness – that’s the clear recipe for success. You’ll discover your own ways to attract the audience, and that’s what makes you a unique blogger.

The post Education Blogs: How To Stand Out From The Crowd appeared first on BlogPress.


Education Blogs: How To Stand Out From The Crowd was first posted on March 23, 2017 at 10:51 am.

Discover The One Detail that Boosts Your Blogging and Marketing Engagement – Every Time

one detail effective blogging

It’s funny the things you pick up as you spend more time in an industry. Little ideas, strategies, and patterns that are usually completely lost on you in the beginning stages but that the “experts” all seem to know.

The blogging industry is no different. There are so many details that, once discovered, make a huge difference to how you operate on a day-to-day level.

In today’s post I’m going to talk about one idea that I have always kind of known but never really appreciated fully. It makes an enormous difference to how many emails get opened, ads get clicked, etc.

I hope this helps someone out there do things a little quicker.

So what is this one detail we should all know?

When you work in a crowded space like blogging it’s important to try and get every little advantage that you can.

And while this detail might not sound that exciting when you first hear it, I guarantee it will impact the way you do things tomorrow.

So what is it? Here we go:

The time and place that your intended audience interacts with your newsletter, blog, or advert is of paramount importance. Click To Tweet

Make sure to differentiate this from the time that you send out your newsletters or publish a blog post as those are different things. Here we are talking about the time that they actually see and interact with it.

Let’s have a look at how this works and how it applies to all the things we are trying to do online.

The importance of timing on the web

I have been thinking about this topic for a while but was reminded of it today when I was listening to the latest episode of This American Life where the editor of the Dallas Morning News replied to a critical email from a newspaper reader in less than 20 minutes.

It occurred to me that (other than it being a really cool thing for the editor to do!) the email must have come at a time when the editor was receptive to such a criticism, had time to open and reply to the email, and was in the mood to actually do so.

That’s a lot of factors.

And I wonder how many of us know, on average, what time of the day/week we are most likely to hit that sweet spot with our readers and subscribers in our niche and on our lists specifically?

Taking it to the next level, I wonder how many of us know the same information for platforms like Facebook and Twitter when we are promoting our new articles or interacting with people about them?

This is really important stuff to figure out because a few hours could mean the difference between a post going viral by hitting a certain number of social shares, a sales target being reached, a post getting indexed well on Google because it got a huge amount of traction, etc.

So how do we do ensure that we’re publishing, emailing and setting adverts to go out a time when people are most likely to action them?

How to get the timing right for your blog

Here are some thoughts based on experiments that I’ve done on my own blog. As always, if you think I’ve missed anything exciting please head to the end of the post and leave me a comment.

1. Know your audience and their daily schedule

How much do you know about your readers and their daily schedule? What about the readers you want to reach but haven’t quite done so yet?

Let’s say that you have a blog about teaching. While general email marketing wisdom might suggest emailing your list at, say, 9am on a Wednesday, this has obvious problems for teachers who would be in the middle of a class!

Of course, we’re only talking about averages here, but every industry will be different and so it’s important to have at least a vague idea of your blog’s demographics, time that they are online, their habits, and so on. This is a very important starting point.

2. Send out a survey and get feedback

One way you address this in a direct way is to send out a survey to your readers and ask them directly when they would like to see your newsletters in their inbox. This is a really interesting tactic because it then sets up an expectation in the mind of the reader – they will be looking out for your content and feel like the have participated in the process of having it created.

Giving your readers a sense of ownership in your blog is a very powerful marketing tool. When someone feels like they have a stake in something they are more likely to share content, leave comments, and generally evangelize your brand more.

blog survey

You can do this by simply publishing a blog post and asking people to respond in the comments with their preference. However, I prefer to send out an email survey with a service like Survey Monkey as then the results are private and you’re more likely to get detailed responses as people are responding straight out of their inbox.

Be careful about how you structure your questions. For example, just because someone says they would like something on a Wednesday doesn’t mean that Wednesday is the day that they will read it. Researching about how to craft your survey questions is really a worthwhile exercise.

3. Research industry standards and then compare

Around this time you’ll also want to take a look at your industry standards. This is important because you might actually be getting good numbers without knowing it. For example, I have had people ask me why their open rate of 20% is so low when actually it’s a full 5% to 10% higher than average!

best times
Image source: MailChimp

There is some absolutely excellent research by Mail Chimp on some of this stuff and it’s a really good starting point. This is obviously very heavily catered towards email marketing but, seeing as that is a big part of what we bloggers do, it is a really good way to get an overall picture.

4. Get anecdotal advice from people in your industry

If you can’t find any solid research that comes from massive amounts of data then the next step is to look to those in your industry who may have run their own experiments.

forums

Places like Warrior Forum and Inbound.org have a lot of really smart people who are extraordinarily generous about giving away the things that work for them. I am often pleasantly surprised at how much detail people are willing to share about their own “trade secrets”.

I’d highly recommend joining one of these and also looking for some niche-specific forums or communities where you can drill down in to the stuff that works for your particular topics. This is also a really good way to make contacts for collaborations, guest posts, etc.

5. Run split tests and compare

Of course you knew I was going to mention split testing! To be fair, this is really the only way to solidify the ideas that you have into actual real and practical information.

If this is new to you, split testing is essentially where you have two identical versions of an email or landing page and where you change one element and send it out to segments of your audience to see which performs best.

The element that you change might be a color, title, image or, as we’re doing here, the time that you are sending out the newsletter to your audience.

A/B testing can turn into a maddening and endless pursuit of the perfect result, and it often distracts you from things like creating really good content for your blog. For that reason, I’d recommend starting with a few basic email split tests and then move on to some slightly more complicated advertising tests like running the same advert at different times of the day. This can be easily done with Facebook advertising and most other platforms.

6. Train your readers to expect certain times

One thing that you will see a lot of bloggers do is send out their newsletters at the same time every week. This is an interesting tactic because, while it might not be the ideal time of the day, it trains people to expect the notification and thus might make it more likely to be opened.

dps weekly newsletter

One example of this is Digital Photography School which is a real powerhouse of content. Instead of sending out notifications of every article they encourage readers to sign up to a weekly summary which goes out via email and is also occasionally used for promotions.

Again, if you go down this road you’ll want to make sure you inform readers at the time of sign up so that they know what is going on. And, as always, you’ll need to test it for a period of time and then compare it to something else to see if it’s getting the desired results.

7. Stalk people on Twitter

This tip relates specifically to emails that you send out to other bloggers in your niche when you are trying to organize a collaboration, guest post, etc. as part of your ongoing blogging strategy. Of course I don’t mean actually stalk them, but using Twitter and social media to find out about the times they’re online and their preferences can be very useful.

For example, have a look at this Tweet and subsequent video by majestic SEO dragon, Rand Fishkin. This is a prime example of how a little bit of research can save everyone time because it is clear, in this example, that Rand ain’t gonna do roundup posts. In my opinion, it could damage your chances at getting future responses from Rand if you send him a mass email asking for a reply (P.S. I’ve done that!).

A final word on timing

You might have got to the end of this post and decided that you still don’t think it is that important of a factor to spend all this time thinking about and that is okay.

But if that is you I’d encourage you to think of all the hours that go into your blog posts, newsletters, etc. and then think about how much of a waste it is to miss out on a few hundred/thousand views just because you’re sending it at a time when people can’t take an action. It’s especially sad if it’s a really helpful product or service that you’ve worked for months on.

You don’t have to get this stuff perfect, but a few little experiments or questions could give you dramatically different results, and those results might make your blogging, email marketing, and adverts a lot more effective.

Have you experimented with this?

I’d love to know whether any of you gals and guys have done any experiments with this. Do you find any particular day of the week effective? And how do you know that it is the best option for your blog? Please leave a comment below and let me know.

A Comprehensive Guide on How to Write Effective Post Titles

Ever wondered how to consistently write effective blog post titles? It’s one of the most important skills to have in the online world. Let’s look at a graphic summary and then jump into some big details below:

blog post titles

An introduction to blog post titles and headlines

An entertaining and eye-catching headline can help a blog post (that might otherwise have gone unnoticed) get thousands of social shares, hundreds of comments, and a boost in Google rankings.

Write a boring title, however, and even the best blog post will get skipped.

Now, I’m not saying that I always write effective titles for my blog posts – I still have so much to learn and there are countless websites that do them a whole lot better than me. But, I’ve been asked about my methodology a few times now and thought it might be something a few of you might like to read.

So here we go!

A question about titles from Frank

In a post about mailing lists I got a question in the comments section from Frank which got me thinking about this topic some more:

question

Now, Frank’s question is primarily about email subject lines and crafting them so that people open up your emails. But seeing as there is a lot of similarity and crossover between email subject lines and blog post titles and so I am going to talk about it all in one post.

What makes for an effective post title?

Let’s start this post by talking about what makes a title effective.

To my mind there are a few things we can talk about here – each one slightly more challenging than the last:

  1. It should catch their eye
    The very first thing a title needs to do is catch someone’s eye whether they see it in an email, Facebook feed, Tweet or whatever. Cutting through noise is hard.
  2. It should get a click
    The next thing you need to do is get them to click through to read it. This is much more difficult than it sounds – some formats only have 0.5 to 1% click through rates.
  3. It should cause an engagement or action
    Some people will share or like an article simple based on whether they think their friends will like the article’s title. More likely, however, is that your title encourages someone to read your excellent content.
  4. It should assist your longterm Google rankings
    A good title not only gets people interested in the article but also helps you to rank well on Google. More about this later.

You might write a title that you really love and think is clever as hell but unless it is leading to these types of responses you will be wasting your time.

How to write effective post titles

Okay so writing a good title is not easy.

We all know that.

It takes a lot of practice and it also requires a lot of testing to see what works and what sort of tiny variations you can make to elicit a big change in performance.

But there are some things you can do every time, sort of like a routine, to ensure that you get the best possible chance of success.

Today’s post is not going to be a formula that you can follow – mostly because I don’t follow one myself. Rather, what I want to do is just give you a few different things that you can think about and do each time you sit down to write.

Hopefully that helps you get results.

1. Always consider your target audience first

Before you write a title for a blog post you need to think about your target audience.

Who are they? What do they do? How old are they? These are all important questions that can have a big impact on how your titles form.

Perhaps most importantly, however, is the question: what problems do they have?

If your title can tap into that anxiety (and perhaps solve it!) you’ll find yourself getting a much better engagement rate.

Always know who you are writing for and what issues they are having. Successful websites that are aimed at professional corporates “feel” completely different to music sites for teenagers. That’s important.

2. Think about where they are reading the title

This point relates heavily to Frank’s question about email subject lines because when your title is designed to be read in an inbox you need to factor in things like mobile screen sizes.

phone screen

Here’s a screen shot of two emails that I sent to myself using some pretty lazy examples of my own headings. You can see how on my iPhone the subject gets quite cropped and the text underneath plays a really big role. If you have a large percentage of people reading your emails on their mobile you’ll need to pay careful attention to how much fits.

3. Know exactly what short and long-tail keywords you’re targeting

Keywords are a vital part of blogging success.

You need to know exactly what keywords your blog as a whole is targeting, and you need to know what keywords each individual post is targeting and how that helps to create a big blog-wide picture. To do this well you need to know a little bit about short and long-tail key phrases and how they all work together.

Here’s an example if you aren’t sure:

Short-tail: grow a blog

Long-tail: how to grow a blog in 2017

As you can imagine, short-tail keywords are extremely competitive and difficult to rank for. What most people now do is try to rank for a series of longer-tail alternatives where you add an extra bit of information on the end to target a smaller group of people.

I’ve written a bit about keyword research for blogging before so I won’t go over it again in too much detail. At a minimum, you want to spend 20 minutes to an hour researching and making sure you can compete and are targeting the right things.

4. Pick a post title strategy and work your keywords into it

So now we are up to the bit where you actually start to draft some titles.

This is where it gets lengthy!

It’s at the point where we have to communicate our ideas to our readers, show them what we want to achieve, generate some curiosity, and also add in the key phrase for the benefits of Google SEO.

Each thing that you leave out makes for a less effective title.

So how do you do that?

Well, the best bet is to use some kind of title strategy that gives you a little method or guideline to follow.

Here are some examples:

  • Shock value
    Two titles that have worked really well for me personally are Why I Hate Copyblogger which was published on Copyblogger itself and an email I sent with the subject Goodbye Old Friend about switching to my new responsive theme. Both caused a big stir, but had the downside of a bit of negative feedback for scaring people! Note that these don’t address all of our criteria.
  • Scarcity
    Human beings are hardwired to minimise loss and as such using a title that indicates that readers are already losing something, or that there is a limited amount of something available to them can be incredibly effective. My most effective example of this is probably Why Blogging is a Waste of Time because so many of the readers were already heavily involved in blogging.
  • Time sensitivity
    Time sensitivity is closely related to scarcity – if there is a limited amount of time available people will be more likely to act. My favorite example of this is from Glen who actually uses that phrase in the title Time Sensitive: How to Reach 100,000,000 Unique Visitors in Just 6 Months. If you don’t feel compelled to click this link you might actually need to see a doctor. Another big example from this week is the article Google Search is About to Make a Major Change.
  • Exclusivity
    Sticking to our biological needs, humans really love being part of something exclusive. We can see this awful ego in action all over the place with premium memberships; the clubs and groups you join when you buy a Porsche, for example. Even just hinting at something exclusive can be very powerful as I was happy to see in my post REVEALED: 19 Things to Know Before You Start a Blog which has been a big post for me.
  • Fear and anxiety
    Marketing is normally about solving a need that someone has (although we could argue that these days marketers create artificial needs to sell us crap…). If you can incorporate a fear or anxiety into your title you’ll generate immediate interest. The title How a Single Guest Post May Have Gotten an Entire Site Penalized by Google does that extremely well because we’ve all done guest posts and we’re all kind of scared of that penalty. Note: Please only do this is you feel the fear is necessary and your post has some answers. Don’t just aim to scare people.
  • Extraordinary value
    Titles that communicate an extraordinary amount of value often do really well, especially if the article itself actually follow through with the promise. I tried to do this with a post called My 9,381-Word Guide on How to Start a Blog and Dominate Your Niche. It took a long time to write but the results have been pretty good. In my opinion Glen is the king of these types of titles with examples like How 3 Guys Made Over $10,000,000 Last Year Without a Single Backlink.

These are just some very basic examples. I’ll try to give you a few more tactics towards the end of the post in case you want to go deeper on how to work these motivations into your title and headline writing.

5. Keep your title in view and constantly tighten it

When I was in university someone told me to read the essay question every few minutes to stop myself going off track.

It was very good advice.

I like to keep my title in view and read it again and again as I type each paragraph. This helps me stay on track, but it also forces me to review the headline and tighten it up as the post evolves – which it always does.

On average I would say that my titles get re-written at least 20 to 40 times before I publish.

Sometimes the title will change because you realize that there is a better topic/angle for your overall blogging strategy, other times you just figure out better and better ways to say what you want.

The main iterations of this post’s title went:

How to Write A Blog Post Title
Why My Blog Post Titles Take Hours to Write
My Method of Writing Effective Blog Post Titles
How I Write Effective Blog Post Titles
Why Writing Blog Post Titles Can Take Hours
Why My Effective Titles Take Hours
How I Write Effective Post Titles (and Why it Can Take Hours)
How I Write Effective Titles (and Why it Takes Hours)
Etc.

(Dear Google, I am not keyword-stuffing here. 😉 )

Each one of these variations also probably had two or three versions that I toyed with. Sometimes I will sit there and do this until I feel solid about it, other times I will revise the title as I write the article itself in order to get the whole entity flowing together.

6. Publish your post and tweak for different versions

Okay so this is where the “art” of title-writing starts to turn more into the “science” of title-writing.

Once you’ve finished writing the perfect blog post you hit publish and then start to take care of all the other versions of your post title that need to be addressed.

For example, the way your title appears on Google, Facebook, your blog itself, and your mail out can all be completely different if you so choose.

I touched on the mail out above with the iPhone sizing so let’s talk more about the appearance in the search engine rankings here.

With a plugin like All in One SEO Pack or Yoast’s WordPress SEO you can actually change the title of your posts so that they appear different in Google.

For example, here’s a result from Blog Tyrant:

search result

As you can see, the blog post title is too long and gets cut off. The tricky thing about this, however, is that the title length that Google shows will be longer depending on the key phrase that was searched. In the old days it was around 70 characters and so we could easily cater for that. Not anymore.

So it’s important to think carefully about the main key words you want to rank for an ensure you have a good appearance for that main target.

ctr

You can track all of this in Webmaster Tools and a bit with Clicky.

Here you can see a post where I’m getting a 46% click through rate from Google for the displays where I rank in the first position. This could be better but depends on lots of things like the type of search people are doing (how-to’s vs general info), the number of ads around it, etc.

One thing that’s good to note here is that you don’t want to change your title too much on Google (or anywhere else…) such that people get mislead when they arrive on your post and see the actual title. That will cause a big increase in your bounce rate.

If you want to test the effectiveness of your subject lines for mail outs it’s a good idea to segment your list and split test different versions and see whether you can get any meaningful results that you can learn from and replicate next time.

Some more tips for writing effective post titles

Now that I’ve kind of gone over my own process for writing effective titles, I thought it would be a good idea to give you a few miscellaneous tips and resources that I have found useful over the years.

In other words, here are some things that I couldn’t figure out how to fit into the main content:

  • Jon Morrow’s free eBook on writing headlines is probably the best resource on the internet for headline development. I regularly refer to it to “borrow” ideas. You’ll need to submit your email to get it.
  • Write a lot. There’s a story here that Brian Clark made Jon Morrow write 35,000 headlines in one year in order to help him become the best at it.
  • Copyblogger has an absolute boatload of headline material that you can get all in one place. Man I really hate these guys.
  • Find people to learn from. I regularly look at ViperChill and ViralNova to see whether they have any super-successful post titles that I can adapt to my own blogging formula.
  • Study your real results. Learn to look at your data and see what is getting the actual results that count. That could mean subscribers, sales or some other metric important to your blog. Once you know, copy those posts.
  • Be scientific. Tools like AWeber, VWO, etc. can help you use different testing methods to see what is working most effectively.

In the end, writing effective titles is just like any other skill that you want to develop – it takes study, practice and a lot of testing to get it right.

What is your most effective title?

I’m really kind of curious to see what kind of post titles the Tyrant Troops have come up with. If you know what your most effective title has been please write it out below in the comments. We might all learn a thing or two from your success!

Is English the Best Language for Your Blog?

blog in english

English is usually considered the default language of the web. But is it really the best choice for your blog?Click To Tweet

One of the most common questions I get from new bloggers is whether they should blog in their own language or try to do it in English, even though they don’t feel that confident.

And as blogging and high-speed Internet spreads from the usual places like the USA, UK and Australia to newer markets like China, India and many African countries, the issue of language becomes even more important and complicated.

In this post we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of English and how to determine what’s best for your blog.

Should I blog in English?

Just yesterday I received this question in my email from a new blogger called Ahmed. He phrased it really well so I’ve included it here with his permission. Have a quick read:

blog in english

Ahmed’s concerns are all legitimate, and it’s great that he is thinking about them early on in his career. Let’s take a look at how we can try and figure this out.

When is English is good for blogging? It’s not clear.

I wanted to start this article by looking at the pros and cons of using English on a blog but, after doing research beyond my own experiences, I found that it was really difficult to isolate each aspect in that way.

For example, the statistics are all very different and it’s unsure what is relevant. This graph by W3 Techs says that about 50% of websites are in English, but then we can see here that only 26% of people online use English. While that is still the highest portion, it still hundreds of millions of other language speakers on the table.

In the end I came to the conclusion that it is all really about your goals. That is something we have talked about a few times on Blog Tyrant, and it is really important to think about before you start a blog and get too far down the road because it will influence many choices like this one.

For example, if your goal is to promote a local business and that business is in China then there is not much point doing a content marketing campaign in English. You want local people to notice the business and the vast majority of them are speaking and reading a Chinese dialect.

It gets a little bit more complicated, however, when your goal might be to sell a physical product that has worldwide appeal. While you might be based in a non-English speaking country like China, you might still have huge markets in the USA. Furthermore, you main marketing channels might be sites like Etsy or Pinterest which have a huge English-speaking bias.

Lastly, what if you have no product at all and are looking to either make money through other means, or not make money at all and just try to raise awareness for a cause or build up an email subscriber list for some future reason? Is there a good answer then?

How do I decide on my blog’s main language?

With all that in mind, how do we then go about deciding on what language to blog in? As with most decisions, it is all about weighing up the opportunity cost.

This means that you have to consider what benefit you are foregoing by choosing one course of action over another while trying to decide which option is better. Here’s an example scenario:

***
You live in Germany and want to start a vegetarian food blog that is not location specific. German is your first language, but you also can write and read in (not great) English. You decide to write you blog in English in order to tap in to a larger traffic base in America and around the world. You have some successes with content on social media and Google, but no one engages with your blog or subscribes because the slightly broken English makes the otherwise quality blog seem amateurish.
***

If this blogger had chosen to blog in German the traffic might have been slightly lower, but that traffic may have been more engaged and lead to opportunities in a local market like a book deal, speaking presentations, coaching, etc. In this scenario the opportunity for more traffic had an increased cost.

Keeping opportunity cost in mind, I would look at things like:

  • What are your goals?
    Think carefully about what direction you want your blog to go in and how it will be used in the future. If you want to try and make some money then think about whether it will be affiliate programs or something more location-specific.
  • What is your best language?
    Generally I think starting a blog in your best language is a good idea because it can give you more confidence to move forward. There is so much competition these days and something it can be a bit depressing when you struggle to get traction. A broken-English set back is not what you need at the beginning.
  • Could you benefit from a multi-language site?
    Would it be possible to make one site with multiple translations? You can do this yourself or hire a translator to help you create various versions. Neil Patel is someone who has started doing this recently.
  • Are two blogs necessary?
    Is it beneficial or perhaps even necessary to create two separate blogs in different languages and with slightly different goals and maybe slightly different content? This is something I’d only look at after having some success with one blog first.
  • What is your competition doing?
    As always, a little bit of competition analysis can be a very valuable thing and is something that we bloggers should try and do more often if we can. Look at a few different segments of your niche and see what those blogs are doing and how effective it has been.
  • Ask people who might know
    The last point that I wanted to mention is that it is a good idea to to what Ahmed did at the start of this post and shoot an email to people who might know, especially if they are in your own niche. Most of the time they will be happy to help a new blogger in their area and it can save a lot of guess work.

All of these factors and options can play a role in how you decide to proceed when it comes to the language of your blog. As much as I’d love to give a hard and fast answer about the best option, it really depends too much on your own skills, goals, location and so on.

A final word on languages and translations

Of course I know absolutely nothing about other languages, but I have been lucky enough to spend a good deal of time in non-English speaking countries and around people who specialize in translations.

One thing that has taught me is that language is a very important thing to a culture. I am very skeptical of translation bots and websites because, as soon as you use them, you notice that they miss a lot of the nuances and hidden meanings of the words.

If you do decide to translate your blog I recommend hiring someone to help you at least edit the work. And try to remember that translating your content might really help someone out there who might never have encountered you. That’s even better than finding a new source of traffic!

Have you thought about this before?

I’d love to know if anyone out there has thought about this for their own blog and how they came to decide. Did it work out as well as you’d hoped? Or perhaps you’ve found a good middle ground? Please leave a comment below and let us know. It might really help someone.

How to Write the Perfect Blog Post: A Complete Guide to Copy

Want to learn how to write the perfect blog post? Of course you do! Let’s start with a graphic you can save for future reference.

The Perfect Blog Post

Feel free to share or use this graphic on your own blogs if you like. Please just link back to this post as a credit.

Now we can get into the bulk of the details that you might want to bookmark and follow along whenever you write a new article.

Okay, so what makes this the perfect blog post?

Okay, so let me do a bit of explaining.

I’m not saying that I know how to write the perfect blog post and that everything I do on my blog is perfect.

It’s not.

In fact, I really don’t like my writing that much at all. (Do all bloggers feel like that?)

But I have been blogging for quite a while now and in that time I’ve been able to hone my posts by looking at what has worked and what hasn’t over the years.

It’s basically a lot of trial and error.

Today all I am doing is sharing the elements, strategies and ideas that I have seen make a big difference to the stuff I write. I’m hoping that you might read something new, apply it to your own blog and see a big difference in your own results.

So it’s more like a quest for finding your own perfect blog post based on what has worked for me.

5 things to keep in mind before you start

Let’s start this post by talking about a few background idea that you kind of need to keep in mind while you are writing your posts. This is a bit like the instructions as opposed to the actual creation.

1. Ask yourself “…and then what?” before you start writing

One of the best lessons that I ever learned as a blogger is this:

All your blog posts should form one big beautiful picture as opposed to each being stand alone items. Tweet this.

What this means is that you need to sit down and carefully figure out what it is that you want your blog, and your blog posts, to achieve every single time.

The question “… and then what?” seems to help me the most.

I’ll sit down, log in, and fiddle around with a title and an idea. Once I’m pretty sure on the topic I’ll ask myself very deliberately what I want people to do before I write any words.

Make sure your post all work together as a team to achieve one or two very deliberate goals – and remember that everything that you write should help people solve problems in their lives and generally be something that adds a bit of goodness to the world.

This is so important.

2. More is more

The next few items are really going to grate on a few people – the idea that more is more is kind of something we’ve all been trained to disbelieve.

But, in blogging at least, the longer posts with more perceived value seem to have some of the best results. This also counts for landing pages that are selling a product or service.

Of course, no one is going to read 5,000 words of rubbish. But in my experience, if you can write a hugely long post you are more likely to grab someone’s attention as they instantly associate the length or number of compiled items as being of high value.

As always, test it for yourself. But here on Blog Tyrant I rarely publish anything less than around 2,500 words.

3. The way it looks matters as much as what it says

When I’m drafting my posts (I always do that in WordPress) I’m constantly hitting “preview” in order to see how the post is looking from a visual point of view.

Many writers out there will hate this idea.

But the more I go on, and the more aware I become of my own blog-reading habits, the more I realize how important it is for the layout to be appealing, simple and easy to read.

That means making sure you have:

  • A nice large font-size
    I talked about this a little bit last week but you want to make sure your font is easy to read and matched to your brand.
  • Quality images
    Draw people in with high quality (but fast loading) photos and images that add value to the post and pull the eye down.
  • Small paragraphs
    Make sure you don’t waffle on for lines and lines of text. People are used to skimming so keep the paragraphs short.
  • Bold text and bullet points
    Whenever you can break up the text with burst of bold or bullet points you should do it. Just imagine this section as one big bulk paragraph vs how it is now.
  • A narrow-ish content width
    Don’t make people read your text over a hugh long line. You want your content area to be no more than around 700 pixels (mine is 650) because tired eyes will get lost.

A lot of this is not based on any data I have from my blogs, but more based on how I go about reading blogs, and how I used to design websites for clients. Readability is very important, and you want to develop a level of consistency so that all of these things add up to a blog post that “looks” like one of yours.

The reason I say that this stuff matters as much as what the post actually says is because I firmly believe that a lot of people just won’t read even brilliant text on a super-ugly blog.

4. Adding something for everyone helps uptake

It’s very difficult to please everyone, but one thing you can try to do is cater to as many “groups” of people as possible.

For example, when writing my post about blogging in 2015 I noticed something interesting: the people who shared the post on Twitter weren’t the same people who shared it on Pinterest.

What this means is that people consume things in different ways. Some people like technical explanations, others like a big old infographic and a quick skim.

If you can create a blog post that covers all of these things you are on to a real winner because you are going to touch a lot of different groups of people who will hopefully want to pass on the element of your post that they found compelling.

This also has the dual benefit of being excellent for SEO – Google is constantly looking for websites that have different formats and features in order to provide a more varied front page of results.

5. Each headline/post should address a single evergreen problem

Something that we’ve talked about a few times is the idea of “breaking down” your blog posts and just focusing in on one smaller topic.

For example, a post about How to Be Awesome at Karate might actually be better of as a dozen posts made up of smaller topics like How to Throw the Perfect Karate Punch or How to Make a Fist in Karate.

Dudes like Mehdi from Strong Lifts have absolutely killed it by focusing in on topics like how to bench press.

Over the years I’ve noticed that articles that focus in on one problem such as how to sell a blog or how to start a fashion blog seem to do the best because they solve very narrow problems and these problems never really go out of fashion.

A guide to writing the perfect blog post

Okay, so, with all those things in mind, here is the way I go about writing my perfect blog post. I hope these steps might be useful to you as well.

  1. Generate your idea
    Idea should be distinctive in the market. Try to base the post on reader feedback, a known problem in the industry or competition analysis. Research the front page of Google and your main competitors at this stage to see how you can improve on what’s out there. If you can’t, don’t bother.
  2. Develop headline
    Address problem in the headline using fear (not to scare people, but to show how you’ll solve it!), scarcity or intrigue/questions. Keep under 65 characters long. Ensure SEO key phrase is in title. Constantly refer back to headline as you write. Use websites like ViperChill, Boost Blog Traffic and Viral Nova as a guide for headline generation.
  3. Write introduction
    First line of post should re-address your problem, headline and key phrase. Rest of introduction aimed at drawing eye down towards main points. Tell people what you’re going to do with the rest of the post, what they’ll learn, etc.
  4. List out the main points
    Rattle out your main points of the blog post so you can see the shape of the article and what you’re going to be covering. This helps to avoid double-ups and omissions.
  5. Open up tabs
    At this point I open up dozens of tabs relating to research, competition and topics that I want to cover. I then link to them as I go and if I get stuck I re-read information and try to improve on it.
  6. Write a base of 2,000 to 2,500 words
    I have a little personal rule that if I’m not hitting at least 2,000 words I’m not covering the topic deeply enough. I write out my main points to at least 2,000 words addressing the main keyword.
  7. Add bonus material
    At this point I’ll add extra paragraphs, tips, quotes, videos, photos, click to tweets, references, etc. in order to take the main content to the next level. This might take the article up another 1,500 to 2,500 words. Try to link to influencers who have written extensively or well on the same topic. Make sure you link to your own posts extensively.
  8. Don’t finish topic/pose question
    Don’t quite complete the topic. Leave room for discussion. Pose a question at the end of the article to encourage discussion.
  9. Select main photo
    I spend quite a lot of time looking for a good photo. I want it to be curious, involving a human being and something that fits with my brand. I use a lossless smusher to keep the size down but the quality high, and always make sure they are the same size and format.
  10. Publish at a peak time
    Do a quick read over for spelling and formatting but don’t waste too much time. Hit publish at a peak time. For me that is between 8am and 10am on Monday, Wednesday or Friday on East Coast USA time.

Okay so that’s the main formula that I follow every time I sit down to write. Of course, sometimes it varies based on the topic or strategy that I’m following but for the most part that’s how it goes.

How to ensure your perfect post gets results

Once you’ve written your post there are a few follow up things that you’ll want to take care of.

1. Email the people included

If I know the people well I’ll shoot them an email and let them know that I’ve included their website/post in my own article. I usually don’t ask them to share it because I don’t like putting the pressure on, I just let them know and that’s it. If your article is good enough they’ll usually give it a tweet.

2. Mail your list

I always mail my list to let them know that a new post has gone live. I send these out at peak times when the most people are online and I follow a very simple template of plain text with one link to the post. These emails are a great way to test your short-form copywriting which is aimed at getting people to open emails and click links week in, week out.

3. Test regularly

The perfect blog post will only be revealed through testing. You might hit a winner and go viral and never be able to repeat that success because you aren’t actually sure what made it stick. Split testing titles, formats, length, timing, etc. are all very valuable things to do.

4. Throw $20 at it

Sometimes it takes me a whole week to write a post, especially if it’s 9,000 words like my guide on how to start a blog. And if I’m spending that much time working on an article I want to give it the best chance of success. A quick $20 on Facebook Ads or Twitter Ads can really help to give it a boost.

5. Tweak it regularly based on feedback

As a blogger you get feedback from both human and non-human sources. It’s very important to keep posts “alive” by tweaking them based on things you hear and see. For example, if someone tells you that you’ve missed something, add it in. If Google Webmaster Tools tells you that your title isn’t getting a good CTR then change it and monitor.

Examples of some perfect blog posts

It wouldn’t be right to finish this post without showing you some of the most perfect blog posts that I’ve seen out there in the wild.

  • The Beginner’s Guide to the Paleo Diet
    Steve Kamb’s post over at Nerd Fitness has had over 2,000 comments and 45,000 likes on Facebook. It’s a massively detailed article with photos, videos and even it’s own app! Incredible value for anyone searching the topic.
  • Northern India: the Good, the Great and the Ugly
    I only found Legal Nomads recently but have been blown away by the quality of the articles that Jodi puts up. This one on India took my 20 minutes to get through and is filled with the most wonderful photos – a blog post made only after actually visiting the place!
  • How to Start a Podcast
    This tutorial from Pat Flynn is absolutely massive and contains the most complete instructions you’ll find on the topic. It includes a complete walk through and then a bunch of high res videos that take you through each step. This isn’t ranking number one on Google yet but it will be soon.
  • A Long, Ugly Year of Depression that’s Finally Fading
    One of the most heartfelt and comprehensive posts you’ll ever read from a CEO. Rand completely laid out his story of depression but also included emails, screenshots, slides, etc. about how and why it all happened. Fascinating read that touched a lot of people.
  • The Advanced Guide to SEO
    These guides that Neil Patel puts together are absolutely outrageous. Different design and content features and often longer than an actual book. They cost a lot to put together but they really cut through. This is the type of value we should be aiming for.

Do you have a perfect blog post?

Have you ever written a blog post that went viral or brought you a heaps of awesome results? I’d be really keen to hear about it. Please leave a comment below and feel free to leave your links as long as they are appropriate and on topic. Oh, and as always, let me know if I’ve missed anything!