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Ice Cream Cone Blogging

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On a hot summer day, there are few things better than a sweet, dripping ice cream cone. There’s this little old school ice cream shoppe in my neighborhood that has the best flavors and homemade sugar waffle cones. It’s so yummy and refreshing that I don’t even mind when it melts in the sun and is impossible to eat without getting as sticky as a four-year-old. That’s part of the joy of an ice cream cone in the summertime.

Today is not a hot summer day. I’m not in the middle of a blizzard or anything, but it’s January in Northern Virginia. The nights are cold, snow is a constant threat, and we have a bag of rock salt waiting by the door just in case it’s needed.

Now, I probably wouldn’t say no to an ice cream cone right now. I love ice cream! But it’s not the same. During the winter, ice cream is still good, but it’s just not the same. As you stroll down the street with your favorite flavor, your fingers and lips get cold and it just doesn’t have the same refreshing effect.

Blogging can be similar. Your content might not change, but it doesn’t always taste the same.

The “if you build it, they will come” idea of blogging is a romantic one, but the quality of your content isn’t the only things that plays a part in your overall success. One of the factors that few seem to talk about is timing. You’re the ice cream maker. It’s up to you to serve your customers the best treats for the season. Some customers might still want ice cream during the winter, but you should at least offer some hot chocolate too.

Timing is about two things: research and your gut.

Timing Research

Ever wonder why so many products launch on Tuesdays or why Sunday night Facebook posts seem to get a lot more attention? It’s not a coincidence. There are certain days and times of the day that are statistically better than others.

When I was younger, I worked in a butcher shop and deli (sexy, I know). At the end of every month, we’d see a dip in sales – people didn’t buy as much because they were waiting for their social security checks or government assistance. So, my bosses would put the more expensive items on sale. The way, people could afford these items – and the tended to buy more. It was a well-timed sale.

Think about why people do things online. If your target audience is under 18, they probably aren’t going to be online at 10 AM on a Tuesday – they’re going to by online when they get home from school. If your target audience is older, they’re probably going to be online after the kids go to bed. If your target audience is technologically-minded, they probably are going to be online during the day at work (at least a little), and will be especially hungry for content on Fridays when they’re anxiously waiting for the day to end and the weekend to begin.

Do a little research with your content. Test out your theories by releasing posts at different times and on different days and recording what happens. You can even set up split tests with your email lists to see when you get a higher open rate. The numbers don’t lie – and this could help you drive higher traffic number with little extra work.

Going with Your Gut

Sometimes, you have to throw research out the window. As much as it might make sense to announce your new book on a certain day or send out an affiliate email during a certain window or time during the day, don’t let your research cloud your good sense.

My birthday is in February. And I want ice cream. Normally, ice cream isn’t as good during the winter, but there’s an exception to this rule and if my friends didn’t bring out the ice cream just because it was “too cold,” I’d be very disappointed.

Going with your gut makes sense. When something is timely, release it while emotions are high, before people have the chance to cool off and stop caring about a topic. When your blog needs a pick-me-up, post sooner rather than later. When you’ve built up some anticipation for content, give the people what they want because if they have to continue to wait, they’ll loss interest. If you have a really innovative idea, post it!

Do research and follow the rules regarding the timing of your blog posts – but don’t be afraid to break those rules.

Personally, I’m still studying the best times to release new posts and when to follow the rules versus when to go with my gut and post immediately. Do you have a certain time you like to post on your blog? Do you think it matters?

How Zombies Could Help Your Blog

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Over the past few years, zombies have gone from being a cult favorite to being widely loved as a part of mainstream pop culture. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with people about the best zombie apocalypse strategy. Zombie books are invading best seller lists. Zombie movies and video games are more popular than ever. So tell me, why did you decide to read this article? Was it because you say “help your blog” and thought that you might pick up some tips? Or was it becauase though, “Oh, cool. This should be interesting.” after seeing the word zombies in the title?

Let’s be honest here. We’re all friends. You were attracted to the title, weren’t you?

And that’s exactly how zombies can help your blog. Good post titles will draw in readers every time.

I’m being a little unfair today, because this post actually doesn’t have anything to do with the undead. You could, though, create a post centered on a popular topic, like zombies. Drawing a parallel requires a little creativity to be sure, but it can definitely be done. Point in case, a few months ago, I wrote “Zombie Blog: How to Revive a Dead Blog” here at BlogWorld. Since then, we’ve changed around our counters, but I can tell you firsthand that a lot of people retweeted and visited that post.

Zombies aren’t the only hot topic. For example, I’ve written pieces comparing to blogging to Lady Gaga. This blog has about as much to do with pop stars as it does with horror movies, yet the posts work because I can create parallels – and packaging tips or techniques around zombies or Lady Gaga automatically makes the post more interesting.

Here’s the sad fact: no matter what your niche, there are dozens, maybe even hundreds, of other bloggers writing about the same things. Yes, you have an original take on the topic for the sheer fact that you are the person writing the post, but there are probably even other bloggers who have a similar writing style. Sometimes, posts start to seem like white noise, simply because everyone is writing about the same topics.

Pulling in some kind of parallel with an unrelated, but popular, topic helps you stand out from the sea. People are more likely to recommend your post over others covering the same topic, and if people have ten minutes to read 100 new posts in their feed reader, they’re more likely to pick yours because it sounds as entertaining as it is informative.

My point here isn’t just that you should have good titles, though. Yes, titles are important, but you have to deliver in your post as well. Is your post presented in a fun way? Are your tips, how-tos, techniques, reviews, etc. thought provoking and original, not just rehashing topics that everyone in your niche is covering? Zombies can help you create a popular post, but only if you aren’t a zombie when you’re writing. Readers want articles that are not only full of brains*, but that are also entertaining.

I think that’s where we all fail sometimes. We are so concentrated on getting out the best information possible that we don’t write posts that are fun to read. You don’ t have to necessarily be funny (though that’s definitely one route you can take), but if you’re writing boring “top ten tips” post after “top ten tips” post, your readers are going to start to desert. Try adding personal stories or pictures. Try adding your opinion. Try being controversial.

Take an objective look at your last ten posts. Regardless of how good the information is, are any of them unique and interesting? Or are they all pretty cookie cutter? You have awesome ideas to share with people, but sometimes we all need to use zombies to actually drive traffic.

*braaaaaaaaaaaaains

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