It is no secret that I really enjoy the Problogger’s Webinar Series… And today’s webinar: Ten Things I Wish I Had Known About Blogging When I Started… was no exception.
The Problogger is celebrating ten years of blogging this week and his webinar was a great peek into the world of a Problogger. He began with the story of his blog and and was quite happy to share what worked and what didn’t work with his followers. His basic premise is that “Blogging isn’t rocket science” and “Success doesn’t happen overnight.” Well isn’t that the truth… isn’t it good to know that successful bloggers get there by doing “consistent small actions every day” and they love to take the initiative and experiment a little. Most of us probably learnt this is in primary school: drifting along and working in fits and starts are not the keys to success and inevitably lead to boredom and failure, he wasn’t tell us anything new under the sun. But he was applying the knowledge that we do carry to blogging. It was good to hear that there are no deep and abiding secrets about blogging well, it is just a matter of loving what you write about, working hard and giving it time.
He has said it before and he will say it again… there are three aspects to blogging and all three need to be in play at a time:
Successful Blogs = Content + Community + Promotion
I think it is important that beginner bloggers know that blogging isn’t just about putting up a great post and waiting for the world to read it… I know that the time I spend online is not all about creating blog posts – a lot of time is spent engaging with our readers and and being present on other social media so that folk recognise you and come and read what you are writing about… Have to say while I love creating blog posts, I love the time spent “chatting” with our followers, I have made some of my very best friends ever through our blog. And as for social media… well whats not to love about spending time on twitter or pinterest!!!
Then he went on to share: Ten Things he Wished he had Known About Blogging From the Start:
- If you want it to be a business – treat it as one: If the goal for your blog is a business goal then treat it like one right from the start. If you want to use your blog to create a book deal then figure out the steps you need to take to get there from the start. I think that’s important… so much time is spent saying: “One day I will get serious…” but to be honest if you want to be treated professionally then your blog needs to be professional too. The key is knowing what you are planning to achieve with your blog and if that is a personal diary then so be it!!!
- Decide WHO you want to Read Your Blog: Have a very clear idea about who you are writing for… so clear that you could write a reader profile of them filled with details: who they are, what they like to read, what they would like to know, what motivates them and so on. The more specific details the better… because not only are you better able to engage your readers but they create lots of material to write about. If you want to know your readers better then questionnaires are a great way to generate information and provide you with topic ideas. And polls are a fun way to engage readers and figure out where to pitch your posts… if almost all your readers are interested in one particular theme… then that’s the theme to write about!!!
- The Power of Email: He went into lots of detail about email newsletters and this is a topic I want to know heaps about – I would really like to start one… email is a way for you to drive traffic to your blog. The Problogger posts his newsletters on Thursday or Friday so that readers pop over to his blog on the weekends. He has a challenge to engage readers and promote community, he provides folk with links to his best content from the week and it is a great way for readers to feel part of your blog’s community and they will want to engage with you.
- The Power of Pop Ups: This one is a bit of a contentious one… It would never occur to me to invite readers to sign up with a pop up, but he did demonstrate that his readers really responded well to them. He surprised himself when subscribers lept from 50 to 350 subscribers per day. He thought readers would fall away… but they didn’t page views were not affected. It is of course the design of the pop up… a once off invitation to subscribe is one thing. My experience with popups is well – avoid them at all costs when I find them, so I imagine my readers would feel the same!!!
- Create Something to Sell: He began like most of us using passive ways to create income from his blog: add networks, affiliate marketing and so on. This is the one thing he really wishes he had done sooner, but even he procrastinated. The Problogger thought, like most of us, that nobody would want to pay for content that they could find for free on his blog. When he wrote his first e-book, he used articles from his site and created some fresh content and his readers loved it!!! I am proof of that!!! There is always a learning curve with something new… he had to figure out how to create shopping carts and such like, but that isn’t a reason not to get going. We can always find and excuse not to try something new – but this is the one thing he really asks himself: “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”
- Inform, Inspire and Interact: This point was all about creating blog content and generating fresh ideas. He was surprised at how inspirational posts really engaged his readers… he imagined they would stop by and look, but it turns out that these posts generate lots of engagement as folk want to know how they can achieve the same results… lots of engagement and questions means that a lot of potential post material is generated. The more your readers interact the more they will generate questions and the more you will want to provide solutions. In his newsletter he provides inspiration that drive readers to “information posts” and then he creates a challenge so that they can use their new knowledge. This a great model to get readers interacting and to creating a community around your blog.
- Look for Sparks: How often have you written a post that you thought your readers would love and then… no reaction! But there some topics that your readers love and totally engage with… they flock to those posts… those are sparks!!! Go with them… find ways to write more about those topics, look for glimmers of energy and see if you can’t develop ideas around them. Think of topics that fire you up and energise you… topics that you can’t help flying over the keyboards with… also look at posts that potential collaborators are interested in, or what folk around you are doing… these ideas often lead to great projects. So the tip: Look for sparks and fly with them!!!
- Be Active: How often we think we are working, when often we are distracting ourselves… we claim we are engaging on twitter as the hours roll by… his challenge is to spend fifteen minutes less on a distraction and concentrate really hard on a project that you have been putting off… Spend just fifteen minutes working on your e-book or generating a media kit or contacting potential advertisers. If I can do this around the house with housework, surely I can do this on our blog… in fact there are so many little things that I want to do on our blog that I really could get done in fifteen minute chunks… it may well be time to get active!!! As the Problogger says: “What action will I take today that will grow my blog?”
- Do Good With Your Blog: I like this, a couple of weeks ago some one asked why I don’t make millions from our blog and thought about and realised well… we have generated income, just not so much for ourselves!!! One of our fabulous blog projects was that our readers helped us to build a library for Lesotho. And that is the sort of thing we would to use our blog for and create opportunities for our kids to leave a legacy. If it is something you are passionate about, chances are your readers will want to read about it… don’t think your readers won’t want to engage with your good causes… they will!!! I know from experience that I expected a really small response… and we were quite overwhelmed by our readers enthusiasm and willingness to join in.
- Aim to Have a Big Impact on the Readers you Already Reach: This is so true, often engaging the readers you have and striking up a loyal readership is far better for the long term survival of your blog than huge fly by night visitors who are rushing past your site one their way to another. Engaged readers are so much more rewarding and honestly, from personal experience, it is a lot more fun to engage and communicate with readers and welcome new ones with a chat, by replying to comments for instance… than trying to generate huge swaths of readers who don’t have quite the same passion for your topic that you do.
- Be Yourself: Don’t write what you think you should say, don’t try and write like someone you admire… your readers really do want to read what you have to say!!! Write like you talk, have conversation with your readers. I know it is astonishing… we always think that folk want to read “that blogger,” but actually they are on your site to read your blog and to hear what you have to say. So write as yourself, use your words and just share your story… your readers will respond to you and what you have to say.
And the tenth + 1 point… and don’t I like a blogger that needs an extra point…
Question and Answer Time: At the end of the webinar heaps of followers had questions… often these are just as interesting as the whole shebang… so here is a selection of them:
- What do you do when you have dozens and dozens of ideas? Write for your readers, what they respond well to and on topics that energise you, so that you can keep returning to the topic and writing more about it.
- What’s the biggest mistake bloggers make? Love this answer: “Not starting.” And quitting too soon, before you find your rhythm… but not starting is the biggest mistake!!!
- What is the one thing a blogger needs to do every day? Work on those three foundations: Content + Community + Promotion.
- Best affiliates with out looking spammy? Look for a product that is a genuine recommendation, that you have used yourself and loved and that meets your readers needs.
- How to make content sticky and viral? Asking your readers questions and add related links back into your site to drive readers deeper. And another good tactic is to create anticipation… write a series or tell readers what you will be blogging about next.
- How to write when you feel like no-one is reading your posts? This was my beginner blogger fail for sure… I didn’t know how too set up comments – so for the first couple of months I sent my posts into hyperspace with absolutely no return… I had no idea what people were reading and enjoying and what they weren’t. The key, according the Problogger and it is a good one, is to write about topics that you love… Your energy will rub off on your readers!!! Celebrate the good reactions… and don’t commit the paralysing mistake of comparing yourself to others!!! Keep in mind that probably less than 1% of your readers will re-act… so really celebrate the good reactions!!!
- Will mobile technology affect blogging? Already blogs are being designed with mobile readers in mind. Posts have to be much shorter and snappier… no one wants to read long wordy articles on their phone. Definitely not a post like this one!!!
- How do you get folk to engage and leave comments? He suggests asking a leading question, a really specific question or even for a one word response and then engage with your readers to show that you appreciate your comment community. I have found posts that get the best results are those that I write boom, boom, boom in fifteen minutes… always from the heart and always get a great response from our readers.
- How do I stop procrastinating… How do I get Going? You have to practice blogging… to be a blogger. This is the truth!!! The great thing about blogging is that it doesn’t have to be perfect… in fact it probably never will be but you can just start. There are a million reasons not to get going but just starting will set you rolling…
- How do you discover your niche? Trial and error!!! Brainstorm post ideas and if you can think up a couple of posts then you may have hit on a niche… dozens of post ideas and you may have to narrow it down and very few post ideas means that you nay want to open it up a bit. What are magazines publishing, is your topic growing and engaging…
- How to integrate other social media into your blog? Do a little research to see where your readers are… Some niches are more about discussion and others are about sharing content, find one that fits your style. Social media is a great way to build your blog, just find out where your readers are and engage with them.
- What about Adsense? It works in some niches and not in others, readers are very familiar with it. It is hard to see what ads your readers can see and… I had never about this before but: Advertising always takes readers away from your site!!!
- What is the best money maker on your blog? This follows from the previous question: Create your own product… it keeps folk on your site and meets the needs of the reader.
- What is the best way to engage big bloggers? Well this really holds true for all bloggers, be genuine. Keep in mind that big bloggers are bombarded with attention seekers and are under a heap of pressure… engage them for genuine reasons rather than just because of who they are.
- What Mail service can you use? Feedburner is free, but has severe limitations. Pay services like A-weber do provide a better service.
And that was it – an impressive amount of information shared on the webinar… it is really worth signing up to these if you are serious about learning more about blogging… they are totally not for super advanced bloggers… just heaps and heaps of information to help regular bloggers to write about the topics they love. Gotta say I love how the Problogger shares his know how with his followers… and thanks for a great ten years!!!
Previous Webinars include: