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Can Guest Posts Make You a Better Blogger?

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Laptop3 Over the past year, fewer blogs have been open to accepting guest posts. Kristi Hines talked about this shift in the blogging world early this year in her post entitled, “Guest Blogging in 2013: The End of Unsolicited Guest Posts?” and why it is happening. Bloggers can still guest post, but these opportunities are not as abundant as they once were, especially if you’re not well connected to others in your niche.

As someone who manages the guest post emails we get here on the NMX blog, I know how crazy some potential guest posters can be. Posts are poorly written with little to no “meat” on the bones. They’re fluff. Or they’re stuffed with keyword links and self-promotion. Or the grammar is so bad that I would have to rewrite the entire piece to prepare it for publishing.

I’ve even had potential guest posters be rude or downright nasty to me when I’ve asked for changes or decided not to publish. Word to the wise: if you want to have a guest post relationship with someone, don’t speculate on their mother’s weight.

But the silver lining is that working with guest posters has made me a better blogger. Here’s why:

  • I’m pushed to raise the bar on my own posts.

It isn’t fair for me to ask of guest posters what I don’t do myself. When someone is interested in guest posting, I typically send them a list of directions to follow, which include things like, “link back to relevant posts from the past” and “use headers or bullet points to make the text more readable.” Having this set of rules sets the bar for posts on the blog, my own included.

  • Editing makes you a better writer.

Like many people, I’m a horrible editor of my own work. But I think I do okay editing others’ posts, and practicing this skill makes me a better writer and self-editor for my own posts.

  • Guest posts give you a break.

Although I do subscribe to the notion that you should only blog when you have something to say, I also know that post frequency does affect your traffic. With guest posts, a weight is lifted because you’re not pressured to produce X number of posts per week. Editing and preparing a guest post is still a lot of work (sometimes even more work than writing a post yourself), but you don’t have to be wearing your creative writing hat when doing it. You’re less likely to burn out if you allow guest posts on your blog.

  • Guest posts can inspire future content.

I’m always inspired when I read other blogs, and the same is true of guest posts. Even when a post isn’t well-written and I ultimately say no to publishing it, the topic can help me brainstorm future ideas for my blog posts. And, if I do publish because the guest post is up to par, I can link back to it in my own post. One of the great things about blogging is that you can build off each post to tell a comprehensive story. I like to think of blog posts like stories in an anthology. They all work together on some level, despite being stand-alone.

Accepting guest posts isn’t for everyone. Some bloggers don’t want to make time to deal with the copious number of poor requests. Others worry that guest posts will lead to a weaker brand. But before you say a blanket “no” to guest posts, think about the advantages as well. I believe guest posting can make you a better blogger, despite the extra work you have to be willing to do if you accept them.

How to Use the Scientific Method to Write Better Blog Posts

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scientic method blog posts Despite science not being a strength for me in elementary school, lesson I do remember is the scientific method. I liked the step-by-step process of discovery, and even won the fourth-grade science fair because I was so good at executing this method of experimentation.

If you think elementary school science has no bearing in your life, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to use the scientific method to write blog posts. Not every blog posts lends itself well to the scientific method, but if you’re testing a theory or making an argument, it can help lend credibility to your post and explain your findings in a clear and concise way.

Need to brush up on your science skills? Let’s go through each step of the scientific method to explore how you can use it to write blog posts. In this post, I’m going to refer use “How Lying Can Vastly Improve Your Blog” as an example of a post I wrote using the scientific method, so you may want to open this link in a new tab/window to refer to it.

Step One: Ask a Question

The first part of the scientific method is to ask a question. This is what start the entire process. The question in my example blog post was: Can lying to myself help me improve my blog? You can leave it at that, but when writing my post, I prefer to take the route of explaining why I am asking whatever the question may be. We’re bloggers, after all. Telling the story is part of what helps draw people in.

Step Two: Do Background Research

This is a step that many bloggers skip over. However, adding some research to your posts makes it a much stronger final product. In the case of my example, I did some research on lying and what others say about self-deception. I included several links to my findings.

I find that in topics relating to blogging and social media, understanding the psychology behind our behaviors is extremely helpful. Depending on your topic, you may also want to find out what other bloggers have written about it before. If I were a scientist, opinion might not matter to me, but with this modified version of the scientific method for bloggers, opinions, especially of top bloggers in your field, matter very much. And if you confirm their opinion, you can reach out to them to let them know your results.

Step Three: Construct a Hypothesis

At this point, it’s time to narrow your focus and construct a hypothesis that you can test. This is a little more involved than step one, where you just ask a general question, and you want it to be a statement that you’re testing, not a question. In other words, what do you think your experiment will prove?

So, in my example, my hypothesis was: I will write better blog posts if I believe someone will be reading them as part of my portfolio.

It’s important to be honest about the concerns you have regarding your hypothesis. For example, I noted that because my lie was self-deception, I was aware that it was a lie. A lie told by someone else would be more powerful.

Step Four: Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment

This is the fun part: test your hypothesis. For kids, it means mixing baking soda and vinegar to watch a homemade volcano erupt. For you, it means writing blog posts or using social media or otherwise changing your behavior to see what happens.

Three things to keep in mind when doing an experiment:

  1. Work in a controlled environment as much as possible.
  2. Do your experiment several times.
  3. Have a plan for measuring your results.

I’m sure some scientists out there are cringing at my idea of an experiment, but we’re not trying to cure cancer here. It’s okay to be a little more relaxed than you would in a laboratory setting. But you’ll get better results if your experiment is structured. So, in my example, I told myself that I was applying for a new job and someone would be looking at my blog posts as a factor in deciding whether or not to hire me. I even browsed some job boards to make the self-deception more “real.”

Having a controlled environment is important. Otherwise, your results could be reflecting factors other than what you are testing. For example, my blog posts will automatically be better if I am super passionate about a topic. So, for my tests I trying to choose topics that I am moderately passionate about, but not that I had some kind of deep burning desire in my soul to write about.

I also wrote about a myriad of topics, from Twitter to business values to web TV. Whenever you experiment with your blog, its important to look at your results over time. I always find it extremely frustrating when someone tries something new on their blog for one day and then proclaims it doesn’t work. You need to give experiments a chance.

Lastly, you have to be able to measure your results. If your hypothesis is “Tweeting out more links will bring me more traffic” but you don’t have Google Analytics or another such tool set up on your blog, how will you know if it works? It might seem like you have more traffic, but maybe you in fact have the same amount of traffic, but more comments.

Step Five: Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion

Next, you have to take an honest look at the data you’ve collected from your experiment. It’s easy to manipulate data to believe what you want to believe. Try to keep an open mind! For example, once tested whether or not pop-up ads increased my subscriber numbers. They did. Even though people complain about pop-ups, they work. It was something I didn’t want to believe, but the numbers proved me wrong.

During this step, it’s also important to look at data holistically. Data can easily be manipulated if your only look at one piece. So, if you are testing pop ups, you might say that they work because you saw a spike in subscriber numbers. However, what happened to your unsubscribe rates? Or your bounce rates? Or the number of complaints you received from your community?

In addition, I believe it is important to sometimes say, “I don’t care what the data says. This is not right for my readers.” Sometimes we get too caught up in what works that we forget what’s the right thing to do. I wrote about this problem here. Scientists may not consider their feelings about a result, but they would consider the ethics, practicality, and side effects behind their experiment’s conclusions.

Step Six: Communicate Your Results

The last part of the scientific method is to communicate your results. Scientists publish papers and report findings, often struggling with this step. As a blogger, you should have no problem communicating your results! As you write your blog post about your experiment, keep the entire scientific process in mind. Talk about your question and the research you did. Outline your hypothesis/experiment and analyze your data. Using this process to structure your blog post makes sense.

You blog post doesn’t have to read like a technical report. After all, this isn’t a lab. It’s a blog. Even though I used the term “experiment” in my example post about self-deception, I don’t think people read that post and though, “Oh, she’s using the scientific method to test a hypothesis.” Give your post some flavor.

Overall, I’ve found that using the scientific method has helped my up my game when writing blog posts. I encourage you to try it out yourself–and if you do, definitely come back to this post to leave a comment telling us about your results.

3 Ways to Create Better Images for Your Blog Posts

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Without a doubt, creating images for blog posts ranks pretty low on my list of favorite tasks. Yet, I’ve found that having compelling images, not just stock photography, is important for getting social shares and keeping my readers interested, especially with longer posts.

I’m not a very good photographer, though. It certainly isn’t a passion of mine, and I don’t own a DSLR. However, I’ve still come up with a few ways to add compelling images to my blog posts. Here are my three best methods:

1. The Title Image

One of my favorite types of images to create is what I call the “title image.” I like this type of image for my blog posts because they look professional and are readily shared on Facebook and Pinterest. They’re also easy to make using stock photography. Here’s how to make a title image:

  • STEP ONE: Find some stock photography with licensing that allows you to edit it.

The image should be related to your post, but since you’re going to be adding text, the relationship can be looser than if you were only going to use the image. It’s very important that you look not just for Creative Commons images, but also images where the owner stated that it’s okay to alter, because you will be adding text to it. For our example, I’m going to use this image from NMX 2013. Since NMX owns the image, I know that I’m allowed to use it in this blog post and to alter the image with text.

title image example 1

It’s great if you can find an image, like this one of Tom Webster, that has a big blank spot. If you can’t, however, not to worry! Focus on finding a nice shot that fits your post topic rather than an image that is so-so image with a blank spot. I’ll show you in the next step what to do if there’s not a big blank spot.

  • STEP TWO: In your favorite photo-editing program, add your title.

I’m going to show you using PicMonkey, which is free and easy to use. You don’t even have to download anything; it’s an online editing program. You could use Photoshop or whatever other program you have that allows you to add text.

Select a font you like and add the text. It usually works to either center the text, adding breaks so it fits nicely, or to justify the text left or right depending where it is located on the image. If I justified the text in this image, I would left-justify because it’s on the left side. But let’s go with centering the text for now:

title image example 2

This is a nice font for our silly made-up title, but the line in the background is a little distracting. So, a bolder font would probably work better. I’m also going to add a shadow in a contrasting white color to make the words really pop.

title image example 3

That looks pretty nice, and it only took me a few minutes. You can also play around with using different fonts and sizes to make certain words stand out. Remember to create something that represents your brand and your niche well. Here’s an example of a more playful look:

title image example 4

This one took a little longer, but gives you a completely different look. There’s no formula for choosing the right font, size, and colors; you just have to play around with it until you get a look that you like.

But let’s say that your image didn’t have a nice open spot like this picture of Tom. Let’s say instead you have this picture of the crowd watching a session:

title image example 5

In this case, any place you add the text, the busy background will distract you and make it hard to read. So, I suggestion added a faded block of color behind the text. I usually use either black or white and fade to between 30% and 50% depending on how distracting the background is.

title image example 6

You can of course also make it snazzy with drop shadows, fun fonts and colors, etc. but keep in mind that this technique looks best when the title is on a single line, so longer titles don’t work will with this method.

2. The Collage

Another option you have if you want to make a highly-sharable image is to do a collage. I most commonly add the title of my post to these as well, but how you use a college is really up to you. This method is great for list posts or when you’re talking about several tips/products/etc. throughout the course of your post. It allows you to highly several images at once this way.

For example, let’s say I was writing a post called “NMX Speakers Who Make Glasses Look Cool.” I could do this:

collage example 1

Cliff Ravenscraft certainly does make glasses look cool…but if I want to highlight several different speakers in my post, an image of Cliff alone might not be the way to go. So instead, a collage will work well.

  • STEP ONE: Find images to illustrate all of your points.

In this case, I’m going to find images of lots of NMX speakers who wear glasses. As always, remember to use images under the Creative Commons license where the owner allows you to alter.

  • STEP TWO: Open PicMonkey in collage mode.

You can definitely use other image editing programs as well, but PicMonkey is hands down my favorite tool in this case because it has a mode specifically for collages.

  • STEP THREE: Choose a layout that will allow you to highlight your text and add images.

There’s no one right way to do this. You could, for example, choose to have a large box for the text (to add later) or you could create a college where you’ll later add the text over top of the images, like with the title slide.

Here’s the an example with the former:

collage example 2

And the latter:

collage example 3

  • STEP THREE: Add text to your college if desired.

To actually achieve the look you get with the above two images in PicMonkey, you have to save the collage and reopen in regular editing mode to add the text. This is where I also added the blue boxes in both cases. Adding text gives you more of the “title image” look, but a pure collage without text might work well for your needs.

3. The Quote Image

Lastly, a really easy type of image that is usually shared a lot is what I call the quote image. I’m taking a page from print design for this one! When you’re reading a story, especially in a magazine, there are often pull quotes – quotes from the actual text that have been pulled out and made into larger images because they are interesting or important.

This is so easy I’m not even going to break it down into steps for you. All you do is paste a line from your post into a photo editing program. You can use an image or texture for a background or use a simple colored background that coordinates with your blog’s theme.

Here’s an example of a quote I used for an image in a post featuring NMX speaker Dino Dogan:

dino dogan quote

Even better, you can connect an image like that to Click to Tweet and tell your readers via the caption to click on the quote to share it. A good quote is irresistible to share!

So there you have it, my three favorite ways to create images for my blog posts even though I’m not a photographer and don’t know much about editing images. How do you add images to your blog posts? If you have a great method to share or have tried any of the above methods, leave a comment!

12 Types of Blog Posts You Need to Stop Writing

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blog posts you need to stop writing

“Add more content!”

That seems to be the battle cry these days. Keeping your blog as updated as possible does make sense. Although some argue that quality matters less than quantity, while this is true, I can say without a doubt through my own experiences, that if you have more content, you’re going to get more traffic than if you have less content, as long as you maintain quality. At one of our past events, Chris Brogan mentioned seeing similar results – when he posts fewer times per week, his traffic goes down.

That of course doesn’t mean you should just be throwing crap up on your blog to try to hit a certain number of posts every week. I think most serious bloggers understand this. However, I still see a lot of bad posts in my Twitter stream every day. Remember, it only takes one bad post to make someone unsubscribe (or never subscribe in the first place).

You can’t please everyone, but I believe the following twelve types of post have no place on a good blog:

news

1. Rehashed News

You’re never going to compete with huge news sites unless you have millions of dollars to throw into your own media outlet. If all your post accomplishes is summarizing a story you saw on Google News or Reuters, you haven’t accomplished anything other than boring your readers. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t post news at all. In fact, posting news is a great idea for most bloggers. But when you do it, consider:

  • Picking up the phone to get a quote from an expert that can add something new to the story
  • Adding your own opinion or analysis to the story
  • Doing a round-up of what other people are saying about the story
  • Putting the story in a different context (i.e. finding a unique angle)
  • Coming up with a how-to related to the story
  • Looking at what people are saying about the story via social media and talking about their unique opinions

In other words, make your coverage of the story something different than what people are going to read from a huge news outlet. For example, when Pinterest announced the addition of “secret boards,” we didn’t just post about this new feature, which many were doing. We posted three ways to use secret boards, so our story was unique and helpful to readers.

If you’re dead-set on posting news stories that report just the facts, consider taking a new approach to your blog completely and really attacking one specific niche. For example, if you like entertainment news, maybe instead of posting all sorts of celebrity news, which sites like TMZ already do, you can post specifically about celebrity babies or a certain genre or music or celebrities who are buying homes. Nich-ifying can help you find an audience even if you’re not publishing unique stories.

interview

2. Posts with More Quotes than Original Content

I love a good quote, but if the entire story is just quoting another blogger or news story, you might as well be scraping their content. Yes, it might be completely valid to publish a small part of someone’s post with a link back to the rest, but that doesn’t make you a blogger. It makes you a content curator. Again, what can you add that makes the story special or adds another layer or helpfulness?

There are so many possibilities. You can “debate” the other blogger with a post of your own, build upon his/her ideas, or even do an interview with the blogger to delve deeper into the story. If all you want to do is share an excellent quote from a blog post you read, here are some better ways to do that:

  • Share the quote via Twitter with a link back to the source
  • Post the quote in a related forum with a link back to the source
  • Create an image using the quote a publish on Facebook or Twitter with a link back to the source
  • Share the quote as part of your email newsletter with a link back to the source

Your actual posts should be more than just republishing someone else’s words.

reader

3. Theory without Practicality

This one drives me nuts.

I love to read what you think about a certain topic, but what I love every more are practical tips. Don’t just tell me why. Tell me how. If all I can do is read your information, but I have no idea how to actually apply it to any part of my life, your post isn’t very beneficial to me.

I’m guilty of this one. I think we all have a tendency to get really passionate about our opinions. And while opinions are great, they rarely stand alone if there’s no practical counterpart. Sometimes, this is as simple as including a few links to post that are straight-forward how-tos. Your entire post doesn’t have to be about teaching someone how to do something.

The problem is that many bloggers publish these types of posts but never follow up. So, as a reader, I’m lost. Don’t write “10 Reasons Why You Should….” unless you follow up or link to how to actually do that task. You’ve convinced me! Now tell me what to do to get started.

PIC01595.JPG

4. Common Sense Posts

Worse than “theory” posts are common sense posts. I get it; we’re all beginners at some point. You can’t ignore your readers who are just learning about a topic for the first time. Only posting advanced-level stuff isn’t the right choice for most bloggers.

But even beginners have common sense.

For example, let’s say that your blog is about cooking and you want to publish “10 Things Every Kitchen Needs.” That sounds like a great post – but if your 10 items include a pot and a pan, I’m going to roll my eyes. Newbie cooks might not realize how helpful it can be to own a strainer or a food processor, but come on…they know that they need a pot and a pan.

Take things a step farther and be more useful. If you’re going to do something so 101-leve that it includes telling new home chefs to buy a pot and pan, at least tell them what kind to buy and why. What size is best? What material? What brand? Go a step beyond common sense, even with your beginner-level posts.

headline extra

5. Posts that don’t Deliver on Headline Promises

If I click on a post you share on Twitter and the content doesn’t deliver what the headline promised, I’m probably going to unfollow you. Your headline builds trust with the reader. If your content isn’t what they expect, you lose that trust, and it’s nearly impossible to get it back again once lost.

The biggest offender I see of this is the use of the term “secret.” If you’re going to give me “10 Secrets to Writing Better Blog Posts,” I better not show up to your post and see that secret number one is to optimize for search engines, secret number two is to use headers, secret number three is to include an image, etc. Those are not secrets. Those are 101-level tips. “Secrets” implies that the post is going to be advanced – that these are tips I’ve probably not come across before or am not already using.

Another offender is telling me something is “awesome” or “killer” or “ninja” or “rock star.” If you use any of those terms, you better deliver on that promise. It’s not that you have to stop using these words (and related words) to describe your content. Just understand that you’re setting the bar high, so there’s a bigger probability that people will be disappointed by the content if it doesn’t deliver.

beach

6. “Sorry I’ve Been Away” Posts

Sometimes, there are unforeseen circumstances that require us to be away from our blogs. When you’re ready to start up again, it’s really tempting to write a “Sorry for being gone” post to explain what you were doing.

To me, that’s a throw-away post. Unless what you were doing is super interesting, I don’t need to hear your excuses and explanations. I just want posts like you used to publish. Mention why you were gone at the beginning of your next post if you must, but just get back to your schedule instead of spending 500 words to tell me that you had the flu or were snagging some beach time.

love myself

7. Ego Strokers

A few months ago, I wrote a post about blogging success and whether your success stems from content that helps people or content that is simply what people want to hear. The latter is little more than ego-stroking. It really isn’t hard to get people to rally behind you when you say, “Hitler was bad.” This is also true with less extreme examples. If your audience is primarily working moms, it isn’t hard to get people to agree with an op-ed about the need for flexible scheduling for parents who work.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t post something you’re super passionate about, but don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone – and to ask your audience to step out of theirs. If you are promoting a popular opinion, add your “something special” to the post, whether that means including some how-to tips, playing devil’s advocate, or quote an expert. What can you add to the story that makes it unique? (Am I started to sound like a broken record yet?)

scales

8. How *Blank* is like *Blank* Posts

When I first started blogging, I wrote a lot of this type of post. But you know what? They’re kind of dumb. Congratulations, you found a creative comparison between two things. Unless your post is meant to be funny (Think: “How Your Baby is like a Tiny Ninja”) or teaches you something interesting (Think: “How Soft Drinks are like Addictive Drugs”), the post is another throw away.

Even if you think your post is teaching something, ask yourself…”Is it really?” Remember, you want people to walk away with specific, practical tips not a bunch of random information that doesn’t really relate because you were stretching to find comparison points.

snarky

9. Snark

When you’re snarky on your blog, you’re really nothing more than an online, adult bully. Yes, it can make you popular, because some people thrive on drama, but will it make you respected? No way.

You can still be opinionated and even write in a “snarky” style. The key with snark is to talk about things that happen, not specific people or companies. Erika Napoletano is a great example of something who has a snarky writing style, but in a good way.

Of course, you can also still voice your opinion about someone or some company you don’t like, but when you do so, have a little class. Make points that you can back up instead of just snarking. You’re not going to do yourself any favors if you’re just flat-out mean.

And keep in mind that when you’re snarky, you lose business. Even if you see your traffic go up because people think you’re funny or are attracted to negative leadership, when all you do is snark about crap you don’t like, brands won’t want to work with you. Brands like bloggers who give honest, thoughtful, thorough opinions, not drama queens (and kings).

gossip

10. Rumors

When you post a rumor like it is news, it makes me question your dedication to the niche. It’s okay to comment on rumors, but I’ve seen several popular blogs run rumors as though they are confirmed stories.

This happens even more frequently when bloggers are republishing blog posts that are republished from other blog posts. It’s like a game of telephone. Along the way, rumors turn to facts, which can be confusing for the reader and unfair for all parties involved.

Take the time to find the original source of a story and confirm facts with a reputable site or expert. Hint: Wikipedia is not a reputable site.

Remember, gossip is as bad as rumors. Sometimes gossip is made up of rumors but other times, gossip is someone saying to you “I’m not supposed to know this, but I overheard…” If you can’t confirm it by printing the source, it is as good as a rumor. “Facts” are overheard out of context all the time.

shock

11. Sensationalist Stories

The media thrives on emotion. Facts are skewed so that someone’s agenda is supported in the most emotionally charged way possible.

Sensationalism can drive a ton of traffic, but it ultimately damages your credibility.

When you post facts on your blog, be aware of your own biases. It’s okay to post your opinion, but if you’re presenting supporting facts, make sure those facts are accurate. If there was a study done, how many people took part in the study, how were they chosen to participate, and when were the stats collected? A survey of 60 people in rural Texas asked about their opinion on gun laws will yield a much different result than a survey of 10,000 people from across the country on the same topic. A study on cancer patients’ diets done 50 years ago is going to give you different results than a study on the same topic done today.

In the end, make sure that the information you’re posting is the most up-to-date, unbiased information possible, not just the best information to support your personal viewpoints. That way, if you’re firing people up, it’s for the right reasons, not because you’re manipulating data to scare people.

peacock

12. Posts that aren’t Your Best Work

Finally, I’m using a picture of a peacock here, because I hope you are always proud to show off your work. If a post isn’t your best work, don’t hit that publish button. Simple as that.

All the time, I hear the advice that your work doesn’t need to be good, it needs to be “good enough.” There’s something to be said for analysis paralysis and being so caught up in the details that you never get the job done. However, if you write a post and feel “meh” about it, reconsider before you publish. How can I as the reader get excited if you as the writer don’t even care?

You should always strive for the best. Pretend this post you’re writing is going to be seen by Oprah. Imagine if you lost your job today and your last post was the post a new employer would be looking at to consider you for their open position. Get morbid and think about how the last post would represent you if you died tomorrow.

Take pride in the work you do, always. It only takes one bad post to make me hit the back button and be gone from your blog forever.

Your turn: What kind of posts do you wish people would stop writing?

From Good to Great: 5 Ways to Turn Passion into Better Blogging

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If there’s one thing that sets the big blogs apart, it’s passion. With that in mind, here are five ways to turn your passion into better blogging!

1. Be Willing to Learn New Things

Take that enthusiasm you have for your industry and use it to grow your ability to communicate about it. Blogging is a unique medium, different from magazine advertising, direct mail marketing, or email newsletters—so invest the time to learn how it works and to continually improve your skills. Here are a few areas to explore:

  • HTML/CSS: In today’s world of user-friendly blog software and templates, you don’t need to know HTML or CSS coding to start a site—but learning a few basics won’t hurt. In fact, with a little extra coding knowledge under your belt, you’ll be better equipped to tweak your design as you like. For a good start, see this helpful article at Google.
  • Design: Content may be king, but design definitely matters. Keep track of blog designs you like and continually look for ways to raise the bar on how your site looks to visitors.
  • SEO: Search engine optimization is crucial for increasing traffic because it helps bring users to your site when they’re already searching for related information. For more information on this topic, take a look at “Why SEO Matters No Matter How Brilliant Your Content Is.”
  • Photography: The Internet is a visual place, so improving your pictures goes a long way towards improving your site. At the Straight North Blog, we’ve used royalty-free images from Fotolia; at my personal blog Food Loves Writing, I’m always looking for ways to take better pictures and even to hand-illustrate when appropriate.

2. Let Your Excitement Show—on Social Media

When someone is passionate about what he or she is saying, it’s not hard to tell—and that’s just as true online as it is at cocktail parties. Whether on Twitter or Facebook or another site, let your genuine enthusiasm show by sharing and posting online the things that catch your attention.

  • Relevant Links: Find a blog or website that inspires and motivates you? Share it with your followers and tell them why you like it. Not only does this make your feed more valuable, but it also builds community with the authors and creators whose works you’re promoting. Food bloggers do this all the time when they share recipes and links from other sites, like Sarah Kieffer from the Vanilla Bean Blog does here on Facebook:

vanilla bean blog

  • Interesting Articles: When you come across a study or article that relates to your industry, tell your fans about it—they might feel the same way, like Helene from French Foodie Baby does here:

french foodie baby

  • Your Own Work: Promoting your own content on social networks is acceptable, as long as that’s not all you promote. With discretion, let your followers know about your recent work—blog posts, press releases, news updates—and where they can find it.

the house that lars built

3. Find Other People as Passionate as You Are

One of the greatest benefits of sharing your passion online is finding a network of people who also love what you love. Whether you’re a food blogger obsessed with baking, a business blogger fascinated by corporate case studies, or a graphic designer ever on the hunt for slick logos, you can bet there are other bloggers who feel the same way. By forming relationships with like-minded people, you create a strong community that greatly enhances your online experience. Reach out on social media or via email.

Some of the benefits of blog community include:

  • Genuine friendships
  • Loyal audience
  • Promotion of each other’s work
  • Creative inspiration
  • Opportunities to learn
  • Greater visibility
  • Enjoyment

4. Reach High for Specific Goals

Passion is great, but passion with a purpose is even greater. Rather than just striving to blog better, set specific goals—this helps guide your efforts and ensures you’re moving towards a better blog.

Three tips for setting blog goals:

  1. Be Specific: Don’t say, “I want to blog better.” Say, “I want 2,000 new RSS subscribers by the end of three months.”
  2. Make Goals Measurable: If your goal is more subscribers, find a way to calculate that number. If your goal is a lower bounce rate, set up Google Analytics. Make your goals measurable so you know if you’re hitting them.
  3. Set Time Limits: Be sure to set time limits on your goals. Rather than aiming to blog twice a week, aim to blog twice a week for a year—this helps to keep you motivated.

5. Branch Out

Who says you have to stop at blogging? Why not branch out beyond traditional posts into the world of videos or podcasts? Sometimes a new vehicle is all you need to improve your work. Here are a few ideas for spreading your passion even farther:

  • Videos: Visual, engaging, and filled with potential for adding your personality to your site, videos are typically crowd pleasers. Try answering reader questions, sharing behind-the-scenes information, running interviews over video, or giving helpful how-tos, like Meghan from Eat Live Make does here:

photography 101

  • Podcasts: Built off the idea of radio broadcasts, podcasts let you communicate with your audience orally, opening up all kinds of possibilities, from interviews to roundtable discussions to music and more. One new way to do this is through a Google+ Hangout, which is what Alex and Sonja from A Couple Cooks did on March 9.
  • Guest Posting: Spread your voice online by guest-posting on other websites, like authors do on this site regularly. This builds community with other blog authors and gets your brand out to a larger audience.
  • E-books: By making an e-book, you have a packaged product to sell or give away. This option is great for how-to guides, topical booklets, compilations, etc.  You may create the book in a Word processor, save it as a PDF, and market that PDF directly through your site; or you could go through a service like Amazon Kindle Direct, like we did with our ebook.

written together

Your Thoughts

Whether you’ve been blogging a day or a decade, what have you seen to be keys to blogging passion? How does it show? How can you nurture it? Is passion driving what you do?

Creating Content for the Digital Family

Author:

Raising a family today is very different compared to raising a family before the introduction of the Internet. I can remember going to restaurant as a child and feeling lucky if there was a place mat to color while waiting for my kid’s meal. Now, I see smartphones and tablets being passed to children to keep them occupied. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just different.

In this interview, NMX speaker Amy Lupold Bair talks about the challenges of raising a digital family:

Want more from Amy? Check out her 2013 NMX presentation, “Community Building Lessons from a Professional Twitter Party Host.”

Because children are so in tune with the digital world, I think we as content creators need to consider the entire family. Does that mean that a toddler is going to read the same blogs as his parents? Probably not. But there are ways to create content for the digital family that I think too few bloggers are considering.

Understanding Your Audience

First, do you even know whether or not your readers have children? Understanding your audience at this level is important even if your content isn’t about children. Why? Two main reasons (though there are others):

  1. Kids dictate how much free time a person has.
  2. Your audience will make different buying decisions if they have children.

Understanding how much time and money people have is key to tailoring your content for these people.

Let’s first look at the time aspect. One of the most common questions new bloggers ask is, “How long should my posts be?” and one of the most common answers I hear is, “As long as they need to be.” I’ve probably even given people this advice myself. But logically, even if your content is awesome, some people might not have time to read it if you post 1000+ words daily.

A few months ago my father was in the hospital. The drive for me was about four and a half miles one-way from my home, so I was spending a lot of time on the road. I continued to work full time, plus I helped my mom out around the house and spent lots of time with my father. I don’t have kids, but I do have a family…and family time meant I had little time for blog reading. Even when I knew a post would be awesome based on the writer, I often skipped it because it just looked too long to read.

Are your giving parents options? If your readers have family obligations, does your blog have a podcast option for their commute? Do you offer some shorter post options they can read during naptime?

And second, money. Overall income doesn’t matter as much as disposable income matters. Two people might both make $75,000 per year, but if one person is single and the other person is supporting three kids, the likelihood that they’re going to purchase your $500 product changes drastically. Again, are you giving parents options? Do you have a payment plan? Or do you have less expensive products? Do you entice with sales from time to time? When your ebook is up against putting food on the table, hungry mouths are always going to win out.

Content for the Whole Family

Considering the needs of digital parents is just the start. I also recommend that you start looking at kids, especially teens, as potential readers of your content. Children are spending more and more time online and unless you’re creating content for an adult-only industry, you want to start grabbing these eyeballs now. These are people who grow up to be truly passionate about a specific topic.

When I was 15, the Internet was still pretty young, but I can remember reading websites about writing. I loved writing prompts, writing tips, and information about how to get published, and I gobbled it up. Another friend of mine spent all his time online look at car-related sites. Yes, before he even had a license. Yet another friend liked finding recipes online.

These teens don’t sound much different from the adults who read your website, right? And maybe they don’t have the ability to make purchases today, but in five years, when that 15-year-old is 20, they will have been reading your blog for five years, and they’ll be much more likely to pull out their wallet to support you.

So how can you catch the attention of teens?

  • Be where they are online. Most teens I know are on Facebook, but depending on the niche, forums might also be helpful.
  • Produce content for beginners or tell them were to go. If your blog is advanced-level, at least link to 101-level information so that teens (and anyone really) can understand concepts that are new to them.
  • Encourage your younger readers. Respond to their comments and help them as much as possible. Remember, you were once young too, so be understanding when someone asks a really off-the-wall question.

Depending on your topic, you might even want to volunteer with the Scouts or other community organizations to introduce them to your niche. If you’re a food blogger, have the local youth group over to your house to prepare a meal together. If you blog about sports, volunteer as a coach in your community. Blog about design? Teach a 101 class for kids at the local arts center. Be the person to introduce a new interest or hobby to a kid and they will remember that (as will their parents).

Not every blog has to directly create content for the whole family, from toddlers to senior citizens. But if you consider the role family has to plan in your readers’ lives and analyze how you can set kids on the right path, you might be able to grow your blog in entirely new directions.

Guest Blogging in 2013: The End of Unsolicited Guest Posts?

Author:

I love guest blogging. As a matter of fact, I got my first freelance writing inquiry thanks to a guest post on Social Media Examiner. I know how powerful guest blogging is for building your reputation and increasing your business.

If you have been looking for guest blogging opportunities lately, you may have spotted a discouraging trend. Here are some examples of what I mean.

Mashable’s former guest writer guidelines pages now goes to a cute 404 error page:

mashable-closed-guest-post-submissions

Copyblogger closed guest post submissions:

copyblogger-closed-guest-post-submissions

ProBlogger, well known for publishing a high volume of guest posts, just recently announced their halt on guest post submissions:

problogger-closed-guest-post-submissions

And they are not the only ones. If you search accept unsolicited guest posts, you’ll find 2,000+ results from sites that no longer accept them.

Why Blogs Are Closing Guest Post Submissions

I can’t speak for everyone else, but I can share some examples of why I closed unsolicited guest post submissions on my own blog. First, there were the bad pitches.

bad-guest-post-request-1

Then there were the unrelated submissions. This guy stole an image of Chase Crawford to “personalize” his Google account and auto-submits posts like this daily through my contact form. Yes, I said daily.

bad-guest-post-request-2

This one was about a taxi booking service.

bad-guest-post-request-3

Then there were the responses when I rejected submissions that didn’t fit the guest posting guidelines I had set.

bad-guest-post-request-4

bad-guest-post-request-5

You can see more bad examples in The State of Guest Blogging presentation. I can’t even begin to imagine what sites like Probloger, Copyblogger, and Mashable were receiving on a regular basis. I still get about bad five requests a day even after clearly noting on my guest post guidelines page and my contact form that guest post submissions are closed.

If bad requests weren’t enough, then there’s the video of the head of Google’s Webspam, Matt Cutts, talking about Google’s feelings towards guest blogging for links:

If Google doesn’t like the guest blogging for links strategy, they probably don’t like the blogs that post those guest posts either.

How to Increase Your Odds of Getting Accepted

So how do you increase your odds of having your post published on quality blogs? Here are some tips.

Be a real person.

If your business is outsourcing a guest blogging campaign, find real people to help you with it – not cheap link building services that are likely using $5 writers who use celebrity photos and fake names to pitch your content. Preferably real people who have an established reputation in the industry you want them to write for.

Work your way up.

Unless you are already an established, well known writer or have an amazing blog, you will need to start building your reputation. Most people can’t go from unknown to Mashable right out the gate. Start with smaller blogs in your industry, create great content for them, and then work your way up. Use your best guest posts as examples along the way.

Create a relevant portfolio.

Most blog owners and editors will want to see a sample of your writing beyond the piece you submit to them. The best place to create samples are on your own blog. You can even create a portfolio page that lists your latest contributions to other blogs to let people where else you have been published. You can create this page manually, adding links to your latest post as you go.

If you have a WordPress blog and regularly write for blogs that offer an RSS feed for your post, you can use the RSS Agregator plugin to publish your feeds into one page. You can see this plugin in action on my own portfolio page.

To make this work, you will need to find your author page on the blogs you write for by clicking on the link to your name in the author bio. Some blogs, like this one, have an RSS icon linking to the RSS feed for on the author archive pages. If it doesn’t, you can add feed to the end of the URL (http://domain.com/author/yourname/feed/), test it, and grab it as your author RSS feed.

Once you have a strong portfolio page, you can include it anytime you inquire about a guest blogging opportunity.

Build relationships.

You might have noticed that while a lot of sites are not allowing unsolicited guest post submissions, they are still publishing content by multiple authors. If you want to be one of those authors, you’ll have to know someone on the inside to make it happen. The best ways to get to know a blog owner and its writers are the following.

  • Actively follow the blog’s latest posts. Subscribing via RSS using Google Reader is one of the easiest ways to keep things organized and not blow up your inbox.
  • Read the posts and when you feel you have something valuable to contribute, comment.
  • Share the posts on Twitter and include both the blog’s main Twitter handle as well as the author’s.
  • Interact with the blog owner and authors on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Aim for the network where they are active but get the least attention – usually that’s Google+.

Get Introduced

Once you’ve built up a strong relationship with a regular contributor to a site, see if you can get them to introduce you to the blog owner or editor.

Look for golden opportunities.

If you can’t get an introduction, then look for golden opportunities to request a guest post spot. For example, if you get listed as one of Social Media Examiner’s top social media blogs or ProBlogger’s top bloggers to watch, that is the perfect time to approach the blog to become an author.

You can also take advantage of other opportunities. Say you find a broken page or error in a post. Submit a contact form and let the blog know. Sometimes, you’ll get lucky and get a response from the blog owner or editor themselves. They’ll know that you are familiar with their blog and that might be your in to ask if they are accepting guest posts. Better yet, say that you have this great topic in mind and wish the blog still accepted guest posts so you could submit it. Sometimes that works too!

Do you still accept guest posts on your blog? Are you running into lots of sites that don’t? What is your take on the future of guest blogging? Let’s discuss in the comments!

How Often Should I Blog?

Author:
Find your blogging pace

Find your blogging pace

One question I get asked a LOT is, “How much do I need to write at my blog?”

The question needs clarification.

How much does a blogger need to write to do what? Have an online platform? Get readers? Make money? Make money from traffic alone? Make money by offering display or affiliate ads? Make money by offering a service? Make money by some combination of all of these?

The answer to how much a blogger should write at their blog will differ depending on why the blogger writes? Depending on what the blogger’s end game is.

That being said, there is one thing that is absolutely foundational to making money with your blog. You have to have traffic = eyeballs of people specifically interested in the content at your site.

The traffic can be minimal, as in only those people you tell to go there. The traffic can com via referral, as in those people who are told to go there by hook or by crook. Think through social networking. The traffic can come via search = somebody dropped something in a search engine box and found you. The traffic can come through some combination of these methods.

In my Marketing with Social Media MBA course, I am teaching my students how to get people to find them via search engines.

Believing that is cheaper = a better of use time spent, for people to find me than it is for me to find them, I am teaching my students that they need to write in such a way that they become visible to the search engines without compromising the quality of their content.

The question again, “How much does a blogger need to write at their blog to get found by real people via search engines?”

Here are the weekly guidelines I am giving my students:

1.  Each student must write a minimum of 600-750 words daily. Those words can be in the form of 3 posts that are 200-250 words long, one post that is 600-750 words long or a 200-250 word post and a 400-500 word post.

2. Each student must guest blog (400+ words) at my site on a subject that I give them. And in this guest blog, they link back to their own sites. After guest blogging at my site, as one of their daily posts they must write about their experience of guest blogging at my site and link to it.

3. Each student must guest blog at a classmate’s site. They are free to pursue which site they will guest post at and the rules are the same. They will write 400+ words about something relevant to their classmate’s site, providing a link back to their own web site. And as one of their daily posts they must write about their experience of guest posting with a link.

4. Finally, each student is required to write an anchor/pillar/evergreen post at their home site. (400+ words) that they would be particularly happy with AND they are asked to share it with their social network IF they have one.

There are 73 students enrolled in the class. More than 50 of them are very active. A few of them are wasting their money and my time. I can’t help that latter group.

So, how is this working?

I will delve into the analytics as the weeks progress. But for now, the interested reader can see how the top 10 sites are performing after weeks one, two and three.

That question one more time: “How much do I need to write at my blog?”

My answer: “How much traffic do you want at your blog? Keep writing until that many people show up.”

The above guidelines will get you started.

10 Movie Plots That Can Help You Write Better Blog Posts

Author:

Formulas can make your writing boring, but they exist for a reason: they work. The key is making the same old, same old you own with a little creativity. In this post, we’ll go over 10 movie plots that can help you write creative, engaging blog posts for your community.

some like it hot

1. The Fish Out of Water

Description: The main character gets thrown into a situation where he or she is very uncomfortable. Hilarity typically ensues, and the protagonist usually learns a lesson.

Movie Examples: Big, Some Like it Hot, Edward Scissorhands

The Twist for Bloggers: We’re all a little set in our ways. Try putting yourself in a situation that isn’t comfortable for you, and reporting back on the results. It’s even better if you can put your own little spin on it. Teach your readers a lesson through your experiences.

Blog Example: Let’s say you run a food blog that typically posts home-style recipes, just like mama used to make. What would happen if you took one of her butter-heavy favorites and made a healthier version? Sure, you might not be a traditional health food blog, but this could be a nice spin, especially if you not only post the recipe, but also talk about what you’ve learned about slimming down a meal.

karate kid

2. The Coming of Age

Description: Coming-of-age films follow the story of a child becoming an adult. Through the series of events in the movie, the protagonist matures physiologically and enters a new stage of life.

Movie Examples: My Girl, Can’t Hardly WaitThe Karate Kid

The Twist for Bloggers: Tell your readers a “coming-of-age” story that makes sense for your topic. In other words, talk about your transition from one way of thinking to a more mature way of thinking.

Blog Example: A tech blogger, for example, could tell the story of how he/she always hated a certain brand of cell phones, until getting one for Christmas and finding out that all assumptions about the brand were wrong.

up

3. The Buddy Comedy

Description: Buddy movies pair two unlikely candidates together and put them in a situation where they have to rely on one another. Usually, the two people are of the same sex and they solve some kind of crime or defeat some kind of evil together, with hilarity ensuing at every turn.

Movie Examples: Men in Black, Up, The Odd Couple

The Twist for Bloggers: Team up with another blogger to do some joint debates, where you take one stance and the other blogger takes the opposite stance. You can combine these into one post, or write separate posts. The point is to give the reader a look at both sides of the coin so they can decide for themselves. It’s great for getting community interaction on your blog, since people like to give their opinions on polarizing topics.

Blog Example: We did this right here on the NMX blog when we asked Jason Falls and Marcus Sheridan to each talk about their opinions on using curse words on your blog.

texas chainsaw

4. Serial Killer/Slash

Description: Most serial killer (slasher) movies start with a group of unsuspecting teens or young adults who are having fun, and then start getting picked off one by one. At the end, there is usually one person or a couple left standing.

Movie Examples: Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Evil Dead, Halloween

The Twist for Bloggers: The same way killer might pick off people one by one, you can pick off topics one by one in a special series, where you cover one item in a category every week/day.

Blog Example: Let’s say you have a home improvement blog. You could do a series on the types of tile, with each post covering one type and going over the advantages, disadvantages, and costs.

titanic

5. The Love Triangle

Description: One of the most common chick flick movies is the love triangle, where two people randomly meet and develop feelings for one another, but one of them is already engaged.

Movie Examples: Titanic, My Best Friend’s Wedding, The Wedding Planner

The Twist for Bloggers: The essence of the love triangle is that one of the people realizes that they are not in love like they were or they realize that the relationship isn’t right and they should break it off. Think about a habit or technique relating to your topic that you really should quit, and talk to your readers about the outcome of doing so.

Blog Example: If you run a fashion blog, you could talk about how you have a tendency to buy or keep clothing that is too small, and how it was liberating to purge your closet of items that just remind you you aren’t as thin as you used to be.

slumdog millionaire

6. Rags to Riches

Description: The hero of this story goes from being poor and downtrodden to being rich in a strange turn of events. This can also mean that the “ugly” girl is turned beautiful or that the geek is turned into a popular kid.

Movie Examples: She’s All That, The Blind Side, Slumdog Millionaire

The Twist for Bloggers: How did you change your life? People read your blog because they want to be like you. So teach them lessons based on your own experiences.

Blog Example: On your financial blog, you could talk about how you got out of debt or on your marketing blog you could talk about how you grew your email list to over 100,000 people.

day after tomorrow

7. Man versus Nature

Description: The characters in the story are battling a natural disaster that threatens to totally wipe out mankind. Or, the characters are battling an animal that threatens to totally wipe out their little group. Either way, man is fighting Mother Nature, usually just battling to survive because there is no possibility of stopping the natural world.

Movie Examples: The Day After Tomorrow, Armageddon, Jaws

The Twist for Bloggers: What challenges are inevitably found in your life? How have you overcome these challenges? When you’re dealt a certain lot in life and don’t have a choice in the matter, what can you do to still succeed? The theme of your post should be survival of something you have no control over.

Blog Example: Maybe you run a small business blog and you can talk about how a small real estate firm used social media to survive the housing marking crash. Or maybe you have a green blog, and you talk about how you grow your own ingredients, even though your apartment has no outdoor space.

v for vendetta

8. Man versus Society

Description: The protagonist of a Man versus Society movie is battling against “the man.” He or she sees a problem in the world and chooses to stand against it. Often, this person ends up leading a revolution.

Movie Examples: Schindler’s List, V for Vendetta, Braveheart

The Twist for Bloggers: What do you see happening in your niche that is bad? It can be scarey to speak out against other big-name bloggers or common advice that everyone follows, but doing so can also start a revolution.

Blog Example: On our TBEX (travel exchange) blog, our CEO Rick wrote “You Are Not a Travel Blogger” about some of the bad behavior he sees in this niche and how some people who call them professionals aren’t really professionals.

shrek 2

9. The Sequel

Description: When a movie does well in the box office, it is usually followed up with a sequel. Sometimes the same actors are involved. Other times, it’s a completely new cast. Rarely is the sequel as good as the original, but sometimes it is even better.

Movie Examples: Shrek 2, The Dark Knight, Aliens

The Twist for Bloggers: Got a post that’s getting tons of traffic or comments? Write a follow up to that post. You could pull inspiration for your new post from a discussion in the comments or go into further detail about your opinion.

Blog Example: If you wrote an informative post about a recent news story, you could follow it up with an op-ed about the story. Or if you wrote “15 Tips for…” you could follow it up with “15 MORE Tips for…”

true grit

10. The Remake

Description: When a movie is good the first time around, it sometimes gets remade. People are usually highly critical of the remakes, because they loved the original, but you’re starting with a proven story, so there’s the opportunity for greatness with a remake.

Movie Examples: Dawn of the Dead, Scarface, True Grit

The Twist for Bloggers: There’s no reason you can’t rewrite a post to modernize it. Update the information so it’s more relevant for users. You can also do this with posts from other blogs, but make sure you’re adding something valuable of your own, not just rewriting information, and always give credit where credit is due.

Blog Example: Say someone in your niche writes “The Top Things You Need to Know about…”. You could write your own version of this, referring to some of his/her points, but also adding some of your own.

Some Final Thoughts

Of course, most movies are actually a combination of formulas and plots. If they weren’t, going to the movies would be pretty boring. So think about how you can combine some of these formulas and use them to create interesting blog posts. No matter what your niche, you can use these plots to make your blog better.

7 Pieces of Blog Advice to Ignore

Author:

When it comes to advice, blogging’s like anything else—everybody’s got an opinion, and these opinions often conflict. How can you know whose to trust? Which advice is the right advice? Are there certain tips that you can always assume to be untrue?

To help answer those questions, here are seven pieces of advice you can safely ignore:

1. “Always blog every day.”

One of the earliest and most popular pieces of advice given to bloggers was also one of the worst, saying you have to blog every day. While the experts say daily blogging is necessary for building traffic, the truth is that daily blogging is not the only way to gain readers. In fact, some bloggers find the pressure to post every day lowers their posts’ quality and therefore, in the long run, hurts them more than it helps.

Better advice: Blog regularly, but blog quality.

2. “You need to be controversial.”

Controversial topics indeed draw readers’ attention—but sometimes they backfire. When a site with a generally happy, uplifting tone publishes a sharp, critical article, the audience recoils. Controversy for its own sake is not beneficial; it’s alienating.

Better advice: Don’t feel you need to be controversial to be different. It’s just as interesting to approach a topic from a new angle or perspective. More than that, stay authentic to your own voice.

3. “Comment on other sites constantly.”

In blogging’s early days, everyone said to comment on other sites as much as possible because by responding on other blogs, you alert other bloggers to your site.

Better advice: Rather than commenting on blogs to bring traffic to your own, comment on other blogs when you’re genuinely interested in what the blogger has to say. This fosters real relationships.

4. “Don’t go too specific.”

The biggest blogs are about the biggest topics—or at least that’s what some experts say. That’s why specialists often recommend writing about the industries with the largest followings. But if writing about the popular topics isn’t authentic to your voice, readers will notice—and you’ll never get anywhere.

Better advice: When someone says your niche is too specific, don’t listen. Whatever your passion, an audience exists for it.

5. “You have to build traffic.”

Whether you blog about accounting or home design, the experts push for numbers, numbers, numbers. Everything is about building Web traffic and attracting more eyes to your content—but, in reality, building traffic is only one potential goal.

Better advice: Evaluate what you hope to accomplish with your site—Brand awareness? Better SEO for your website? New leads? More sales?—and see if that goal demands more traffic. If it doesn’t, don’t waste your time.

6. “Pull pictures from Tumblr.”

Everybody knows pictures make blogs more attractive and interesting—they give readers something to look at, respond to, and sometimes share. And if you look at other blogs, you’ll find other bloggers taking pictures from Tumblr or Pinterest and posting them on their own sites. You may do it, too.

Better advice: Most photos on Tumblr don’t link to the original source, and taking someone else’s picture without permission is not okay; it’s stealing. It’s better to use your own pictures, or use a resource that gives full permission for usage.

7. “Nobody reads blogs anymore.”

Here’s a piece of advice meant to discourage: Blogging is done. You hear this from cynics and experts alike, along with stats on how many blogs exist and how few find success. Why should you even bother with a blog? Stick to social media instead.

Better advice: The prevalence of blogging is less a testament to over-saturation and more a testament to its power. In 2013 more than ever, content is key for firms to stand out online, as well as for individuals. Blogs add relevant, authoritative content for businesses and draw big-time SEO power for websites. That’s why, whether you blog for business or pleasure, blogging is worthwhile.

Your Turn

Does this post resonate with you? Have you received advice like this from well-meaning blog experts and wondered what didn’t add up? What other bad advice have you received about blogging? What good advice?

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