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Overheard on #Blogchat: Peak Days (@abbisiler)

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Do you participate in #blogchat? Every week, this weekly discussion on Twitter focuses on a specific topic and bloggers everywhere are invited to join in. Because I often have more to say than what will fit in 140 characters, every Sunday night, I post about some of the most interesting #blogchat tweets. Join the conversation by commenting below.

(Still confused? Read more about #blogchat here.)

This week’s theme: Understanding your blog’s analytics and using that info to grow your blog’s readership

Stats are the bane of my existence. I don’t like tracking them. I don’t like studying them. I just like to blog about topics that I find interesting and see what happens. I know that this is a total cop-ou and a disservice to readers, so I track stats anyway. But I don’t have to like it.

When talking about stats, what I find most helpful are real ways to take the numbers I’m seeing and apply them to be a better blogger. Something that I haven’t thought about:

@abbisiler If you blog daily, you can monitor which days are your peak days– post your ‘best’ or most ‘shareable’ content on those days!

This is one of the best blogging tips I’ve read in a long time, and I read a lot about blogging, so that’s not something I take lightly. I do that that applying this tip is not necessarily as easy as just looking for peaks and traffic spikes, but it is something that you can definitely apply to be a better blogger.

If you do any kind of research on “best days to post” at all, you’ll find that the overwhelming number of people who speak about the topic tell you that Tuesday morning is a golden time. There’s a number of reasons why they’re right in many respects – on Mondays, people are bogged down answering work-related emails, by Wednesday and Thursdays, there’s so much new info for the week online that stuff gets lost in the shuffle, and by Friday, a lot of people have checked out for the weekend or are desperately trying to finish work so they can leave their computer until Monday. Tuesday makes sense.

Well, for some bloggers. See, your target market might be different. Let’s say, for example, that your audience is comprised mostly of stay-at-home parents. For a mom or dad on the go, Tuesday morning isn’t necessarily a point that sticks out. They aren’t sitting at work, bored and looking for a way to entertain time between meetings or job tasks. They’re running after their kids because, presumably, the other parent is at work. For the stay-at-home parent, peak times might be at night, after the kids have gone to bed or on weekend when two parents are home and they get some free time away from the kids to read blog posts.

It’s all about analyzing your market, and I think that’s where @abbisiler‘s top comes in most handy. Your audience is represented by your stats, so it’s like getting information straight from the horse’s mouth.

Be careful, though, because peak times may be driven by outside influences. For example, let’s say that you only post once a week – on Wednesday afternoons. You can’t look at your stats and say, “Oh, hey, it is best to post most on Wednesday afternoons because that’s when I get the most hits.” No, you’re creating a situation to get the most hits at that specific time. If you posted every single day, the peak time would likely drastically change.

Be careful also to look at the big picture, not a single week. If a post you wrote is tweeted by someone influential, for example, you’re going to see a stats spike at that time. So, make sure you understand why stats spikes are happening when they’re happening. There could be a reason outside of just “audience preference.”

When you do find that sweet spot, make the most of it. Schedule posts to go up at that time, especially if you think the post has the potential to go viral. Make site announcements at that time. Email your list at that time. Launch a product at that time. you get the picture. When people are visiting your site most, make it shine.

I want to say a personal thanks to @abbisiler for this stats tip! It’s something I haven’t really considered, but am now going to give some thought.

Check out “Overheard on #Blogchat” here every Sunday to read about some of the most interesting tweets from participating bloggers.

Overheard on #Blogchat: Passion vs. Skill (@DaveTaylor)

Author:

Do you participate in #blogchat? Every week, this weekly discussion on Twitter focuses on a specific topic and bloggers everywhere are invited to join in. Because I often have more to say than what will fit in 140 characters, every Sunday night, I post about some of the most interesting #blogchat tweets. Join the conversation by commenting below.

(Still confused? Read more about #blogchat here.)

This week’s theme: Who are you writing your blog for, you or your readers? Who should it be?

As you can guess, a lot of the discussion this week pitted two valuable ideas against one another:

  1. You should blog for yourself, about topics that you’re passionate about, because your posts will be more interesting and you’ll enjoy your job more.
  2. You should blog for the reader, because it is really your community who makes your blog what it is, especially if you blog for money.

Many people agreed that the best case scenario is a little bit of A and a little bit of B, but along the way, we certainly got some interesting comments on both sides of the argument. One that I thought was especially worth noting:

@DaveTaylor Btw, not sure I agree you “must” be passionate about your subject if you’re a skilled, pro writer…

So, do you have to be passionate about a topic to write about it? For some people, the answer is yes, but for professional writers, nearly any topic can be covered if you’re willing to do the research. I should know; I’m a freelance writer and I’ve definitely written about topics that do not particularly interest me.

The disconnect between DaveTaylor’s tweet and practicality, however, comes when you consider the very nature of a blog. Answer this questions for me:

Why do you blog for money versus do something else for money?

The American Dream – or really, the human dream in general, this isn’t just about being from the USA – is that you make a living doing something that you love, something that doesn’t feel like work. Yes, a skilled writer should be able to cover just about any topic. But the whole point of blogging is to get away from having to work in a job that you don’t feel passionate about. Otherwise, why not just get a 9-to-5 and not have the stress of trying to figure out how to make money with your blog?

I don’t care how skilled you are as a writer. If you aren’t passionate about a topic…

  1. …it will be a chore to write every blog post.
  2. …you’ll miss out on big stories because the topic isn’t something you naturally follow in your free time.
  3. …you won’t connect with your audience well because, yes, they are passionate about the topic.
  4. …it will take longer to write every post because you have to do more research.
  5. …you won’t really care about your blog, other than whether or not it’s making money.

If you aren’t passionate about something, you can certainly do a wonderful job blogging about it for a client. A good example of this is how I spent years blogging about weddings for a client of mine. Yes, writing posts was still a chore and they took longer to research, but I didn’t have to worry about building an audience, networking, etc. because it wasn’t my blog. I wasn’t emotionally invested. I just did a good job with the text and collected a paycheck.

But if you’re going to start your own blog? Please have passion. For your own sake, pick a topic that you really enjoy and even feel emotional about. In the end, even if another niche looks more lucrative, you’ll build a better blog if you have passion.

Check out “Overheard on #Blogchat” here every Sunday to read about some of the most interesting tweets from participating bloggers.

Overheard on #Blogchat: Selfish Tweeting (@MelaKamin)

Author:

Do you participate in #blogchat? Every week, this weekly discussion on Twitter focuses on a specific topic and bloggers everywhere are invited to join in. Because I often have more to say than what will fit in 140 characters, every Sunday night, I post about some of the most interesting #blogchat tweets. Join the conversation by commenting below.

(Still confused? Read more about #blogchat here.)

This week’s theme? How Musicians Can Use Social Media

The theme of the week isn’t really my forte, but that doesn’t mean the conversation isn’t interesting or that there’s nothing to learn. One tweet that struck me during the chat:

@MelaKamin I use twitter 2get exposure, but also start a dialogue, find a niche/fan base & be a fan of others also – it’s not just about me

Whether you’re a musician or in another field, those last five words are some of the most important ever tweeted, if you ask me. It’s not just about me.

I repeat: It’s not just about me. Say it with me: IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT ME!

Twitter, like other social networking sites, can help you build your brand and promote your work, but if that’s all you use it for, you’re doing it wrong. In fact, I bet that if you’re just using Twitter to promote yourself, you don’t see much action through this network.

Twitter is a two-way street. If you want people to tweet your links, you have to tweet theirs. If you want people to RT your tweets, you have to RT theirs. If you want to people to  reply to you, you have to reply to them. If you want people to follow you, you have to follow them.

At the same time, don’t RT tweets or links, reply, or even follow just because you want people to promote you. Do so because you actually enjoy what they have to say. If you’re selfless on Twitter, good stuff happens. Trust me – I started off with a much more selfish approach to Twitter, and I saw absolutely no results. Now, I use Twitter as a way to connect with people, not just promote myself…and it’s exploded!

I know that I personally need the reminder every so often to use Twitter to connect, not just promote. So, I’m glad that I went to #blogchat tonight – I need to RT and link more often when I read something I enjoy. I’ve been doing too much self-promotion lately! What about you? When’s the last time you used Twitter to promote someone else or connect for totally selfless reasons?

You can’t engage everyone. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. But whether you’re a musician or a blogger (or both!), Twitter shouldn’t be all about you. Thanks to @MelaKamin for giving us that reminder!

Check out “Overheard on #Blogchat” here every Sunday to read about some of the most interesting tweets from participating bloggers.

Overheard on #Blogchat: Controversy and Blogging

Author:

Do you participate in #blogchat? Every week, this weekly discussion on Twitter focuses on a specific topic and bloggers everywhere are invited to join in. Because I often have more to say than what will fit in 140 characters, every Sunday night, I post about some of the most interesting #blogchat tweets. Join the conversation by commenting below.

Something that is always on my mind when I blog is whether or not I’m being too antagonizing. So, this tweet caught my mind:

propickup I think too many people hide from controversy when blogging

I think propickup is right – and why is this the case? Are we worried about offending people or losing readers? Is it too much effort to defend a controversial post when the comments start rolling in? Are you worried that advertisers will desert?

Maybe a little all of the above. Bloggers shy away from controversy at times because we just don’t want to stir the pot.

But isn’t that part of the reason why we’re blogging in the first place? Earlier tonight, I talked about another #blogchat tweet talking about how a blog is your own creating, and you get to make the rules. So, it follows that you should be able to voice your opinion.

While that’s certainly true, we also blog because we want people to read what we write, either as entertainment or to help them learn something. If you don’t want people to read what you write, why put your work online? It’s just as easy to type your thoughts into word processing programs. So, with that in mind, I think it’s important to always think about how you approach controversy. Some tips (this is a bit of a brain-dump right now, so add to them with comments!0:

  • Don’t rant for the sake of ranting. If you have something important to say, really passionate ideas, that’s one thing. If you’re trying to drive traffic by saying things that are shocking, you’re barking up the wrong tree.
  • Research! Before you go off on a subject, make sure you full understand it. Read about the topic from multiple sources and even spend some times talking about it with  friends or other bloggers so you can formulate and educated post.
  • Avoid defensive comments. If you write something controversial, you’re probably going to get comments calling you stupid. Some of these comments may even make good points. Before you reply in a really defensive, angry way, take some time to ensure you’re adding value with your comment, not just defending yourself.
  • Address weaknesses in your argument. This is debate 101! If there weren’t weaknesses, there wouldn’t be controversy. Talk about good points that the “other side” has in your post.
  • Don’t single out readers or other bloggers (in most cases). If you’re going to attack something, attack an idea, not a person.
  • Edit, edit, edit! When you’re passionate about a topic, as is often the case with controversy, it is easy to write 7,000 words about the topic. You don’ t have to limit yourself to a few hundred words, but create something that people will actually read, not something that’s so long it turns off readers. If you truly have 7,000 worth of points to make, split it up into multiple posts.

We don’t have to be afraid of controversy. Often, controversial topics are the best, and even people who don’t agree with you will come back again to read more of your work. Be thought-provoking and don’t be too afraid of making people mad.

Check out “Overheard on #Blogchat” here every Sunday to read about some of the most interesting tweets from participating bloggers.

Overheard on #Blogchat: Love Your Blog!

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Every Sunday night, bloggers can participate in #blogchat, a weekly Twitter discussion about the weekly topic. It was started by @MackCollier and, in my opinion, is a good example of what a Twitter chat should be. I thought it would be fun to comment here on some of the tweets made during #blogchat every week, since not everyone has time to  participate. And since I often have something to say that doesn’t fit into 140 characters.

Tonight’s topic? It’s an open mic night, so lots of subjects are being discussed.

Right off the bat, one caught my eye:

@2ndchancemoon: I blog because its mine all mine and I can move it in any direction at any time. Love that!

It’s something that we as bloggers forget sometimes – one of the reasons we blog is to be our own bosses. In the shuffle of trying to make money, find readers, and create content, it’s easy to get frustrated. But if we weren’t doing this because we wanted a slice of the internet to call our own, we’d be blogging for other people and letting them worry about the stresses of money, traffic, and content.

There’s nothing wrong with blogging for other people. I mean, it’s what I’m doing right now. The point here is that sometimes you need to step back from the daily grind and remember why you got into this in the first place – because you love it!

Something that’s also important to remember. On your blog, you get to make the rules. Story time!

A few months ago, a good friend of my got an email from a reader giving her some criticism on her blog. My friend didn’t take it well (what can I say, she doesn’t have a thick skin, poor girl). Immediately, she began redesigning her blog to put the readers’ suggestions into effect. Overall, a lot of these suggestions made her blog stronger.

Some…well, they just didn’t work.

And really, they weren’t bad ideas, they just weren’t good suggests for her. Even if a suggested change from a reader, whether it is constructive criticism or someone just being mean/rude, might add value to your blog, sometimes you have to stop asking yourself whether it’s good for your readers and ask if it is good for you. Don’t lose control of your blog!

Also keep in mind that if something isn’t working on your blog, you can change it. You aren’t obligated to write a certain number of posts per week. You aren’t obligated to post a specific feature, even if it has been tradition on your blog. You aren’t obligated to stick to self-imposed rules. Repeat after me: This is my blog. I get to make the rules!

Check out “Overheard on #Blogchat” here every Sunday to read about some of the most interesting tweets from participating bloggers.

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