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How to Write More

how to write more

I remember setting up my first WordPress blog and then sitting back and thinking nervously to myself: this is going to be a lot of work.

It’s quite interesting to note that, while many new bloggers have trouble with technical aspects like plugins, getting a blog host, optimizing for Google, and so on, it’s actually the practical aspects like finding time to write blog posts that can cause the most stress.

And while I confess to being a big lazy procrastinator, I have managed to find a few little strategies that help me be a more efficient blogger. Actually, maybe the laziness is why I went looking for them!

In today’s post I’m going to try and help you figure out how to write more, and discuss why you’d even want to do that in the first place.

I hope it’s useful!

More is… more

Usually people tell you that less is more.

But when it comes to blogging it’s fascinating to note that there are some scenarios where it’s pretty true to say that more is more. More words, more posts, more links, etc.

For example, one of the backbones of my blogging strategy for the past few years has been to create long form content that is at least 3,500 words long.

People like Neil Patel, Glen Allsopp, etc. regularly extol the benefits of writing longer posts – they are statistically more likely to get more shares, likes, links, and subscribers.

And while there is no point in posting more if the content is ordinary, it’s good to learn how to write more if it means you can create longer blog posts that solve more problems, rank well on Google, and form a solid basis for your blog’s long term success.

So, let’s take a look.

How to write more

Here are a few strategies, ideas, and tools that have helped me write more over the years. We’ll begin with the more theoretically tips and then get on to some practical methods.

1. Have a solid set of goals with a timeline

It is really hard to sit down to research and write super-long articles if you don’t have a reason to do it. Knowing your short and long term goals and setting them to a timeline makes an enormous difference.

I made this error for years and years and it wasn’t until my older sister asked me over dinner what my goals were for the year. I ummmed and aahhhhed for so long and went away feeling embarrassed enough that I decided to sit down and figure out exactly what I wanted to do that year.

The result was extremely motivating; when you set a timeline for an outcome you start to work backwards and see all the small steps that you are going to need to get that. And, for us bloggers, that usually means writing more content in order to help more people.

2. Know exactly why you are doing it

This is closely related to the first point but is different enough that it needs its own mention because it has really helped a lot of bloggers I know.

I have personally found it crucial to have a reason to get out of bed each morning. For some people it is because they want to get better at a skill, for others it might be making more money to support your family or perhaps even a charity. Whatever your motivation, it can help a lot if you isolate it, make it clear, and then recall it regularly.

Not only does this keep your writing focused and careful, it also helps to support you emotionally when you are having down days where the writing doesn’t flow or you feel like progress isn’t happening fast enough. If you can recall to mind the stakeholders of your progress then it puts a fire under your butt.

3. Read, read, read, read, read

If you talk to almost any writer, author, journalist, or blogger about what helps them be good at what they do I can guarantee that a large portion of them will tell you to read more.

A lot of fantastic things happen when you read – especially when you go outside your comfort zone and look at various sources. First of all, your mind opens up to new ideas. Secondly, you start to discover new ways to express those ideas with your writing. Thirdly, your writing happens with less difficulty because the tones and styles of those authors start to absorb into you.

If you are having a period of writer’s block then one of the best things you can do is take a few hours to read. Look around at the best blogs in your niche, but then go further to excellent long form sources like the New Yorker, WIRED, Mother Jones, etc. and see if something sparks.

4. Find a place to write and go there… even if you can’t

Finding somewhere to write is extremely important. It doesn’t need to be National Library of the Czech Republic inspiring but it should be enough that it allows you to concentrate in the zone.

The most important thing, however, is that you actually go there and write. This is really easy for me to say – I don’t have kids or a “real” job to go to. And I imagine that if you’re a stay-at-home parent or someone trying to blog while raising a family then it could be extremely tricky. But it is also extremely important.

Try finding a cafe nearby or even a place in your house that is just for sitting and writing. Let your family know that for the time that you’re in there (it might only be 30 minutes a day) that you’re not to be disturbed. You can get a lot done in a short amount of time when it’s just one thing.

5. Start with an extraordinary headline and keep coming back to it

For me, it’s really important to have an excellent headline sorted before I start doing any of the actual content writing. This helps me to stay focused.

Actually, this was a tip I got from a lecturer in University who said that you should write your essay topic at the top of your screen and always have it in sight. Refer back to it again and again and it will help you stay on topic in every paragraph, sentence, etc. I found it useful and so applied it to blog writing.

There are so many tactics for writing a good headline or blog post title but here’s a little summary that should be enough for this article:

write blog headlines

You can also look at the cheat-sheet made by Jon Morrow for some wonderful tips on how to write good headlines. It’s well worth the email submit.

The thing to remember here is that once you figure out the perfect headline/title for your blog post you often find that the content writing flows a lot easier. You know what question your are trying to answer, problem you are trying to solve, etc. and as such everything feels very consistent.

Try working a little longer on your headlines, even if you have to re-write them 50 times, and then see whether you find that the rest of the article comes out a lot quicker.

6. Develop an article structure that you can use as a base

Another little trick that has worked quite well for me is to come up with a post structure that I use for every article that has all the elements that I’ll use laid out in front of me. Here’s a rough look at what most posts on Blog Tyrant will look like:

blog post structure

The reason I think this helps us to write more is because it gets you in to a pattern that you can repeat over and over again. As opposed to sitting down and trying to figure out the content, structure, layout, etc. you just sit down and start filling in the familiar format that you’re used to.

This takes a little bit of time and will be different depending on the theme you use, the niche you’re in, etc. so it’s a good idea to do a few tests and see what the majority of your traffic seems to like.

7. Get better at typing and editing

Another important consideration is the physical act of writing. For more of us, that means learning how to type faster and edit more efficiently.

typing speed

The above is a screen shot of my best result for a typing speed test – I cheated and had a few goes! I am not very fast at typing when compared to people who have trained properly, but I have definitely improved a little bit over the years.

Quick interruption: I’d absolutely love to see your results! Click the link above to take the test and then post your score in the comments below.

These websites can also teach you how to type more efficiently by giving your courses, tools and information on the best keys to use, etc. I would put too much time in to this, but it’s good to see if you’re making any huge errors.

When it comes to editing, the best thing you can do is get some help so that you’re not left doing it all yourself. This is one of those areas that can take up a lot of valuable time that would be better spent working on the income-earning activities on your blog, or just writing more words, practicing.

proof reading bot

If you don’t want to pay anyone to help you edit, you can use tools like the Proofread Bot above that is actually really excellent at making suggestions for how you can improve your writing from a grammar, spelling, and readability point of view.

8. Use the Pomodoro technique for efficiency

The Pomodoro technique is one of many similar styles that can help you become more efficient by breaking your work routine up into small segments that are supposedly supposed to give you the right amount of work and the right amount of breaks.

pomodoro

Glen over at ViperChill wrote a massive post about this and I couldn’t say anything better, so all I will do is encourage you to look at it a bit deeper and see if it works for you.

If it’s not Pomodoro, see if you can find a similar efficiency technique that will help you write more by keeping you focused on task and balanced between working and fatigue and inspiration.

9. Remove distractions

We’ve touched on this in the point about finding an inspiring place to go and write more, but this one is a little more hard-core. We’re going to actually try to remove distractions.

For example, the now-famous app, Flipd, is outstanding if you want to do things like hiding distracting programs, locking your phone for a certain amount of time, and so on. There’s another app called Forest that helps you stay focused and actually plants trees to reward you.

This is a really good idea if you’re perhaps working from home for the first time and are still adjusting to the freedom. It’s a really good way to help you move from one schedule into another.

What helped you to write more?

I’d really love to know if you think anything is missing from this article. Have you ever set out to try and find more time to write and had some luck making it happen? Have you ever increased your writing output and productivity over time? Please leave a comment below and let me know.

Top image: © Danomyte.

Revealed: These Tactics Will Help You Win at Guest Posting

guest posting

Guest posts form an integral part of any blogging strategy. But can you still get them in today’s overcrowded environment?

Actually, the issue of guest posting is not an easy one to cover.

Some blogs that used to offer guest posts are now totally closed to the idea. Others that would never dream of accepting them are opening up to the idea of having multiple authors.

So how do you get a guest post in today’s blogging landscape? And do you even want to still try and get them?

Let’s take a look.

A quick overview of some guest posting tactics

Let’s start this article by taking a quick look at the overarching principles behind pitching for guest posting opportunities in today’s environment:

guest posting infographic

Now let’s get into the real details of this article. Hopefully by the end of it you’ll have some new ideas for your guest post pitches and approaches.

So, is guest posting still possible these days?

Shall we touch on a little bit of history first?

Go back in time 10 years and you would have seen a thriving guest posting industry in almost every blogging niche.

People were swapping articles on each others blogs and it was helping them get traffic and even boosting their Google rankings up and up.

Some bloggers were even making a lot of money by charging advertising to put links on their site in the form of a guest post because they knew how valuable that backlink was for the person doing the post.

This all changed with the advent of the Penguin update back in 2012, and then even further in 2014 when Google’s Matt Cutts basically told people to stop guest posting for SEO purposes.

Some bloggers wrote about how this was not exactly accurate but, for the most part, it had the effect of making it a lot harder for people to get a guest post on another blog because everyone started to get afraid of Google penalties.

So what happens when guest posting is part of an overall blogging strategy like this one, or a strategy like this one that is aimed at getting more traffic from Google?

Guest posting to increase exposure to your brand, tap into different audiences, etc. are still very important and valid reasons for wanting to write on a blog that isn’t your own.

Well, the good news is that, despite all of this, guest posting is still very possible and can have extremely positive results for everyone who takes part, as long as it is done cleverly.

How NOT to get a guest post these days

My intention here is not to embarrass anyone who sends out guest post pitches but rather to highlight a few issues that pop up in the hope that it helps in the future.

As someone who is fortunate enough to own a pretty big blog, I get approached by people looking to do guest posts every single day. Sadly, most of these pitches fall on deaf ears because the majority of them contain the same errors that get repeated again and again and, as the guy who sees the emails every day, they start to stand out a lot.

Here is one example from this week:

guest post pitch

At first it looks like a pretty decent email pitch. Short, to the point, etc. But when you see these every day (and they all look the same) you start to notice some things.

  • Nothing is personalized
    The first thing that you notice is that they haven’t addressed me by my name or role. This automatically makes anyone in the internet marketing space think that it’s auto-generated.
  • Incorrect link
    Secondly, they have pointed to my blog archive at /blog/ and said that it was a post and that they liked what I wrote. This doesn’t bode well for someone hoping to write on a blogging site – either they don’t know what a post is or the email is incorrect.
  • Generic details
    The last paragraph has no details about their idea for a guest post, what they are suggesting for my site, how it will help my readers, etc. Again, it seems a lot like a mass generated email.

This is all a little bit frustrating when my contact page says at the very top that we do not accept any guest posts at this point in time, even if you are Seth Godin himself.

Interestingly, I’ve started replying to these pitches asking politely where they got the email address from and have never once heard back from any of them. I’m not sure what that means…

How to get a guest post in today’s landscape

If you are a new blogger that is looking to start guest posting then I applaud you – it’s a good strategy that still works.

One thing I’ve noticed is that the same tips that worked for me when I first got started still have a big effect now. Guest posting has changed, but a lot of the same things are still working.

Let’s have a look.

1. Build relationships before engaging

As we saw in the example above, it’s very unlikely that you are going to get a guest post by emailing a blogger randomly with a half-baked pitch. The reason is simple – your pitch is getting received with dozens of others and there is no way for it to stand out.

What this means is that it’s really important to build relationships with bloggers first. This helps to differentiate yourself from the masses and makes it more likely that you’ll get a leg up.

One example of this is my Internet-friend, Vishal, who you might have seen in the comments section of Blog Tyrant leaving massive essays that are filled with value (seriously, some of them are like 1,000 words long!).

After a while I began chatting to Vishal and he expressed that he’d like to learn more about my industry and that if I needed any small jobs done that he’d be interested in helping. I remember feeling instantly excited about this idea because I’d seen the quality and care of his comments and knew that he was a trustworthy person.

I ended up hiring him to do a few little research and writing tasks which will be published very soon, but the main point is that it was much easier for me as a site owner to take the step towards working together when I’d seen him around the blog creating value and sharing knowledge. When Blog Tyrant gets opened up for other authors I’d be delighted to ask him to participate.

Actually, it has always been like this. Back when I was fortunate enough to be asked to do some writing on ViperChill I had been friendly and communicated with Glen for a long time before. It absolutely wouldn’t have happened from a cold email.

2. Show legitimate value first

Closely related to the idea of building relationships is the fact that you’re much more likely to get noticed if you can show something interesting or valuable that you’ve done.

For example, at least half of the guest post pitches that I receive are from bloggers with no existing blog, or from those with a blog that is brand new.

While I appreciate that they are trying to get guest posts so they can build that new blog up, it’s also a little bit like going for a job interview for a manager’s position without having any experience in the entry-level positions first.

Trying to land a guest post without sample work is like applying for a manager’s role with no experience.Click To Tweet

One of the most incredible things about starting a blog is that you can use it as a digital resume that shows people your skills, your brand, and what you are about. They can explore it on their own time, and you don’t have to explicitly describe anything, you just let your work do the talking.

So when you’re trying to land a guest post on a particular topic, it’s important that you already have some kind of successful content on that topic. This doesn’t mean you need viral posts with millions of views, but show that you can actually write a long-form piece that is well researched, helpful, etc.

3. Find a way to be different

As I showed in the example above, when you pitch is just like every other pitch it’s easy for the site owner to think that you’re just mass emailing with no real value to add to the blog.

One of the most important things you can do in any marketing exercise is find a way to be different and memorable so that you stand out in the mind’s of the people who encounter you and your brand.

One incredible example of this is a guest post that appeared on Copyblogger by a dinosaur robot called Fake Grimlock.

grimlock

This entire post was written in a kind of broken English with the caps lock button turned on for the whole thing. I remember laughing out loud to myself when I saw it – it was such a contrast to the other perfectly formed grammar masterpieces that usually appeared on Copyblogger.

This is a really fascinating (if not extreme) example of how you can approach your pitch differently. It’s important to remember how many emails your target gets on a given day, and to try and find some way both in the email itself and leading up to its sending to set yourself out from the pack.

4. Link to the people you want to work with

This is something we have talked about before in posts about blogging strategies and the like, but it’s really important to remember when you are trying to get a guest post.

The idea here is that you want to “give before you receive” by linking to the sites that you want to work with in the future.

This is something that every website owner appreciates because links are such valuable currency in our industry. If someone gives you a link in a guest post that they’ve done you really take notice because the act of citing your blog in a guest post is extremely kind.

marketing blogs

Kristi Hines was someone who did this extremely well by creating highly useful content around the web that always linked back to a copious amount of bloggers.

For example, this compilation post that she did on Unbounce was one of my top traffic referrers for a long time. It got almost 400 comments and thousands of social shares.

After seeing this post I linked to Kristi more often and I noticed that her profile kept growing and growing until she was guest blogging on some of the biggest sites in the world. I am convinced this style of blogging really helped to showcase her writing skills to the right people.

I really don’t want this all to sound too much like I’m encouraging you to link to Blog Tyrant, I’m just being honest about the things that stand out when you get dozens of pitches every week. When someone has a demonstrated history of knowing your blog and citing it in other articles it really does go a long way.

5. Don’t worry if it doesn’t work right away

Guest posting is a hard gig and it’s important to remember that it can take a long time for the results to start showing up. I had an interesting chat about this topic on Twitter the other day and Brendan Hufford shared a very on-point insight:

Whenever I write about things like making money from blogging or working from home I always try to do it from a long term, sustainable perspective.

Sure, there are bulk/mass/automated ways to do all of these things and sometimes the work. But often when they work they usually only do so for the short term and then you are left scrambling to find the next thing that cuts through.

Try to keep track of the things that work for you and then try to replicate them for different campaigns, sites, etc. And if you ever stumble across something that is done well, consider popping it in a “Inspiration” folder in your bookmarks so you can refer back to it later and try to learn from it.

So many small wins in blogging come from just looking at what is working well for others and then trying to replicate or improve on that for your own blogs.

Have you had any luck guest posting?

As we’ve talked about throughout this article, guest posting is a lot harder than it used to be. I’d really love to know if you’ve had any luck and if you’d recommend anything to new bloggers who are hoping to get started and chalk up some early wins. Please leave a comment and let us know.

New Strategies to Get You More Blog Comments

more blog comments

Getting more comments on your blog can be a very hard task, but there are some new strategies to try that might make things easier.

One of my favorite parts of running a blog is the friends that get made in the comments section.

The conversations that have been had on this site over the years, for example, have been a truly wonderful experience and something I’m so grateful for.

As I’ve often said – and I mean it – the comments are usually more valuable than the articles I write.

But not everyone seems to get a lot of interaction on their blog. Today we’re going to try and fix that once and for all.

Let’s take a look.

Are these basic issues discouraging comments?

Before we get into some of the strategies that can help you get more comments, we want to take a look and see whether there are any basic errors that could be getting in the way.

  • Is your site mobile responsive?
    If your site is (still!) not mobile responsive then there is a good chance you are making it too hard for a good portion of your visitors to interact and leave comments. Remember, upwards of 50% of your traffic could now be coming from mobile devices.
  • How is the load time on assets?
    We know that your blog’s loading speed is important, but you also have to make sure that certain assets are also loading fast. For example, if you use a comment plugin like Disqus you need to make sure that it isn’t slow.
  • Are the questions answered?
    Some article are so complete that there isn’t much room left for discussion. It’s worth going back to see whether your headers, content, and conclusions leave anything left to chat about. Every good blog post should be extensive but perhaps not totally solved.
  • Is your design too complicated?
    Sometimes bloggers, in a genuine attempt to be on top of trends, add way too many things to their design which leaves less experiences web users confused about what action to take. How many options do you have available on your blog? Any more than two or three and you’ll be losing people.

Now that we’ve got some of the negative things out of the way, let’s take a look at some new things bloggers and marketers are doing to get more comments.

New strategies that lead to more comments

I should mention at the top that not all of these things are take from blogging examples but we can take lessons from each one and apply it to our own blogs.

1. Asking for mentions or tags

There is a new trend going around on social media at the moment that mixes humor an the innate power of social networking sites to get people to embarrass their friends.

tag

The above example is a screenshot from a local football Facebook page that asks their fans to tag a mate who is losing his hair. It has over 45,000 comments…

Now, this isn’t exactly the best example to give, and a lot of these meme-based ones are sexist or stupid, but they do give a good insight into what people will respond to when asked. It’s important to note that it is totally okay to ask your readers to perform an action.

At the end of almost every blog post I like to devote a whole paragraph and closing statement to encouraging people to leave comments, and to expand on all the things that I’ve missed in the post.

In this post on starting a blog for the first time, for example, I really noticed that by asking people to comment on their own experiences or the factors that were omitted from the article that I was likely to get more comments.

2. Taking a popular event/theme and applying it to your niche

One tactic that has been working really well lately is to create marketing material out of the latest news events or themes in the world and apply them to your niche.

Steve Kamb from Nerd Fitness does this really well, and one of his latest articles called You Are Flawed. And So Are Your Superheroes. is a fantastic combination of brilliant long form content and a twist on a modern topic that every one is talking about or seeing in the movies.

One niche where we see this more and more is on late night TV where hosts like Stephen Colbert are raking in tens of thousands of comments, links, shares, etc. by commentating, night after night, on the current political climate. Just a few years ago, it would be interviews with celebrities that got the main attention, but now it is commentators like John Oliver making sense of news and politics that is getting talked about.

One way you can make the most out of this while still helping people is to create content that touches on these subjects but guides people through a difficulty. For example, if you were parent who ran a blog that talked about family, schooling, politics, etc. you could do an article about how to talk to your kids about [insert law] that Trump passed.

oatmeal

Another example of this can be seen on sites like The Oatmeal who go into incredible detail to study a different angle about something everyone is talking about. Their latest comic is all about how hard it is for people to change their minds and is extremely relevant for the current political climate.

It has had almost 100k shares and thousands of comments, a lot of which are really touching stories and experiences that people are sharing.

Remember, the point is not to be controversial for the sake of it, but rather to add something useful and truthful to the noise that is out there at the moment that often seems like it is trying to do the opposite.

3. Asking a popular question and making it the headline

Making headlines a question is not a new tactic, but it has definitely been getting more effective as social networking sites allow you to share that question in different formats.

Last week in the article on whether WordPress is still best we had some incredible discussions and I really learned a lot about the different options that were out there, the problems people had with WordPress, etc. All of this meant that the comment count got pretty high.

I don’t share this one to brag (the comments were often showing flaws in the post!) but rather to show you how powerful it can be to make your article about one evergreen question that lots of people have experience with. It can lead to some really wonderful conversations.

The same occurred in posts like Is Blogging Finally Dead? and Will Your Blog Ever be Profitable Enough to Support Your Family – both questions that touched a lot of people and something that was easy enough for everyone to weigh in on.

Although they don’t have a comments section, the New Yorker does this type of headline extremely well as you can see this week with Is the Gig Economy Working?. These are always in the most popular section and you regularly see them cited in other blogs and discussion threads which makes them extra valuable for building links.

Another example of this is BBC News who often post images and videos to instagram with a question over the top of the photo. This creates a lot of discussion as you can see in the post above on whether or not this is the best way to get a crying baby to go to sleep.

Making your headline/topic part of your marketing collateral on social networking sites or advertising campaigns is an extremely good way to increase organic reach because you get people discussing on and off-site.

4. Running a contest in your mail outs

Another strategy that I have found to be quite effective is to run a contest that asks people to leave a comment on a certain post in order to get entry to win some kind of giveaway.

This works especially well when you promote it to your mailing list first as they are more likely to be active in getting involved with something that takes a few more steps than usual.

comment giveaway

As you can see in the example above, some physical businesses do extremely well by mixing a “tag a friend” promotion with a giveaway. This particular one is celebrating a cinema’s birthday with an iPhone giveaway and has over 55,000 comments so far.

It’s unclear how successful these things are – some niches will be more likely to get ongoing traction than others. This cinema, for example, probably did quite well because all of the comments would be from friends of people who already like the cinema and are in the same location.

Before running a contest, make sure you think carefully about the goals and outcomes, the prize you giveaway, and then any local laws that you need to abide by. Some countries/states have very strict things about who can run a contest and the language and prizes that can be offered.

5. Requiring a comment for a result

This is quite similar to the one above but is more like a request or registration that is a little more public or accessible as opposed to a straight email submit form.

For example, in this article Glen asked people to leave a comment if they wanted to get access to his private Facebook group as a way to protect members. It’s had over 1,000 comments and continues to grow.

I really like this idea as it creates a bit of discussion around the topic and gets people anticipating the result. It’s also a very clever way to keep the site looking alive and busy which can be very valuable social proof for new visitors who are encountering the content for the first time.

Some tricks to help with your comments

If you’re running a WordPress blog there are some really cool plugins that you can utilize to help make your comment areas more engaging and useful for both you and the readers.

  • Redirect your comments
    You can redirect first-time-commenters to a landing page that encourages them to sign up to your list, shows them new content, or just says thanks!
  • Email when someone replies
    A plugin like this one will automatically notify someone by email if their comment got a reply. This is essential for encouraging good ongoing discussion.
  • Add extras features
    A plugin like wpDiscuz allows you to add extra features like emojis, searchable comments, tagging commenters, replying directly from email, and much more. This can make the comments section feel more like a forum.
  • Avatars next to your comment
    If you’re new to WordPress you might want to head over to Gravatar to get your globally recognized avatar next to your comments whenever you use the same email to post a message in a comment thread.
  • Display your most popular posts
    If you have articles where ongoing comments is important then consider adding a widget somewhere on your blog that shows those most commented on articles so people know what is being talked about right now.

As always, make sure you test these things on your own blog and make a determination as to whether it is adding the right type of functionality to your blog and not detracting from important things like email sign ups or affiliate conversions.

Do you have any tricks for more comments?

I’d really love to know how your blog goes for comments. Do you find it hard to get them, or is it something that has happened quite easily for you? If you have any tips or tricks that you’d like to share please leave a message below as it might really help someone who is struggling.

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.