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The 5 Biggest Obstacles (& Solutions!) to Getting Your Blog Started

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blog consulting

Image Credit: Benjamin Belew

In my years of blog consulting with veterans, businesses, newbie and wannabe bloggers I have learned that there are generally five obstacles that most bloggers face when getting started.

In this article I will share those five obstacles AND the solutions to them.

Will Rogers was a cowboy, vaudeville performer and social commentator who lived in the late 19th to early 20th centuries.  Rogers is credited with having first said, “If you can do it, it ain’t bragging.”

I am not “horn tooting” here. Rather I want the reader to have confidence that what I have learned and share here comes not from theory, but from real world experience. I’ve helped more people create web sites than I can remember AND get in total real/relevant traffic that is approaching 100,000,000 page views (that’s right, 100 million)–primarily (80%+) from search engines. I ain’t bragging.

Obstacle #1 Picking a Domain Name

I am genuinely surprised at the number of times that I have sat with small businesses to corporate clients who were paying me from $200-500/hr (really!) to discuss with them what domain name they should use.

I suppose it is natural to think that some names might be better than others and it is best to choose the most ideal name.

The simple truth – it really doesn’t matter what your domain name is. I have some very stupid names for some of my sites and they still have received anywhere from 1 – 30 million page views total depending on the topic.

Question: Why is that?

Answer: The domain name is not nearly as important as the title of your blog, your tagline, your choice of categories, the title you choose on individual posts and posting consistently relevant content to your blog. Get these latter points right and you can call your blog anything you want.

That being said, I do have some suggestions.

1. Choose something people can spell.

Americans are pretty much spelling challenged. If you were not born between 1954 and 1959, you probably are not that good at putting all your letters in a row correctly. From ’54-’59 Americans learned how to spell phonetically. I can spell things I have never heard or seen before (usually) and I can guess at the reading of most words. Yeah, I am old. I know it. My brother was born in ’53. He can’t spell to save his soul. My sister was born in ’60. Yup, can’t spell.

Not long ago GoDaddy invited me to their HQ for a tour and some priming. I’ll explain below. One of the things I learned was that the average length of a domain name is 8-9 characters. GoDaddy would know. They have sold some 53 million names.

Choose something that is as short as possible and that people can spell.

2. Use your own name.

I own BillBelew.com. It is not because I am vain. It is because it’s me. It was also the name of Elvis Presley’s costume designer. That Bill Belew died a few years ago. I got a LOT of visits from friends asking, “Bill, are you okay?” If you happen to have the name of somebody famous, good for you. Most don’t. For the most part, if you can’t think of a good domain name that hasn’t been used in 10 minutes or less, use your own name. Add your middle initial if you must. Add your title. First initial, last name. First name, last initial. That sort of thing. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of choosing something for your domain name and getting started. I will explain why in my session at NMX.

3. You can always change your domain name.

My son is a concert pianist who started getting pretty popular. People asked him if he had a web site. When he told them the name (it was an old fantasy character), the response was “Huh?!”

Repeat the name.

“Huh?”

He ended up buying the name BenjaminBelew.com and used a redirect to the old website domain name. Nobody knows the difference unless they check the URL box at the top AFTER they type in the domain name. Who does that? Curious? Take a look at www.benjaminbelew.com and see how it changes.

Obstacle #2 – Choosing good/reliable/cheap hosting

At least half the world’s population is shoppers.

Question: Where is the best place to get the most reliable hosting at the cheapest price?

Answer: Short of someone subsidizing the costs, the cheapest place to go is www.bm2hosting.com

(Full disclosure – I own this, but keep reading before you pass judgment on what may seem to be self promotion.)

I bought the rights to be a reseller for the world’s largest domain and hosting company. See above. I asked them, “What is the lowest possible price I can sell domains and hosting for without me having to dip into my own pocket to pay?” The prices offered at BM2Hosting are the lowest you will find anywhere. When people buy there, I do not make any money. Seriously, I pay a nominal sum annually to be able to resell these products so that my students and clients will not get bogged down searching for something better. There isn’t anything better.

  1. Nowhere more cheaply
  2. 24/7 support – great customer service
  3. Solid reputation

Obstacle #3 – Selecting Best Template

There is Blogger and WordPress and Typepad and Homemade.

Google’s chief of search engine findability and spam prevention recommends WordPress. He uses a WordPress template. And he says that WordPress templates are search engine friendly “out of the box.” And he has all of Google’s Blogger resources at his disposal! Use WordPress.

It has:

  1. More flexibility – If you can think of something you’d like to have/do at your blog, somebody has figured out a way to do it.
  2. More options – Too many! Don’t get bogged down.
  3. Ease of use – If you can write an email, you can use WordPress.
  4. Availability of help – There is a whole industry of worker bees helping people with their WordPress blogs. Don’t know who to ask? Ask me.

Question: Which WordPress template should you use?

Answer: If you can’t decide within 15 minutes of looking at the many FREE options that WordPress offers, choose the default template and go with it for now. The simple truth – in the beginning it doesn’t matter what your site looks like, nobody is coming anyway. What is important is getting started.

Choose a template, start writing and hit publish–often.

Obstacle #4 Choosing What to Write About

Question: What is the single best way to get more traffic to your web site?

Answer: Write more.

It is absolutely fundamental that the more you write, that is, the more often you hit the publish button, the higher the probability of AND the more actual visits you will see. Nothing beats publishing more. Period. Unless it would be writing more and better, using good SEO principles. I will explain this at my session at NMX.

For now, I tell people to write about something that:

  1. They are interested in – Usually when people ask me what to write about, they mean to ask what the highest paying niches are. I know the answer. But, why would you want to write about something you don’t care about just so you can make more money?
  2. You can create an interest in – Write about your topic so much that people will think, “Hey, I’d better go see what all the fuss is all about.” A good, hard-working blogger really can create their own ‘celebrity’ status.
  3. Is timeless – This is stuff that is always on people’s “to-know” list. Five of these, four reasons for, How to… and so on.
  4. Is timely – What does what you know have to do with what is going on in the world around you? Make the connection.
  5. You have a lot to say about – I tell my clients they need to write about something they have 1,000 things to say about. Literally a thousand. Don’t have that much to say? You will be hard pressed to make money blogging, I think.

Obstacle #5 It’s too much work

Making a living blogging is a lot of work. Getting good results (a LOT of traffic at your blog) from is a lot of work. Doing better business, getting more leads, more clients, more offers from your blog is a lot of work. But if you don’t want to work hard, I have solved that problem, too.

Write a big check (depends on your goals) and I will do it for you. And, if not me, there are people who will ghost blog for you. But it costs money.

There is no reason why you can’t get started blogging today. You can go from zero to hitting the publish button in about two hours.

The five biggest obstacles to getting started blogging are overcome

  1. Name – done
  2. Hosting – done
  3. Template – done
  4. Content – done
  5. Hard – done

What are you waiting for? Get started today.

How to Use Your Blog to Get Freelancing and Consulting Work

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Recently, we talked about 17 plugins you can use with WordPress to make money on your blog, and while I think this is a great place to start, not every blog needs to be monetized so overtly. Just because you don’t run ads or work with sponsors doesn’t mean you can’t make money with your blog. In fact, one of the most lucrative monetization efforts for me has been gaining other work through my blog. You can be hired as a freelancer or consultant, or you can even be offered a job in your field, all due to your blogging activities.

Before you go about monetizing in this way, here are a few things to consider:

  1. Every time you take on outside work, you have less time for your blog.
  2. When you take a full-time job in your field, you might ultimately have to give up your blog if it is a conflict of interest.
  3. If your main goal with your blog is to use it to get hired, you might have to heavily filter what you say in op-ed posts.

Now that you know some of the drawbacks, are you still interested in making money this way? If so, here are a few tips to help you get started.

  • Create a page for your services.

Sometimes, the people who visit your blog might not realize that you’re looking for work even though they’re looking to hire someone with your skills. Once, I worked with a client looking for a web designer. He said, “Can you help me find someone like such-and-such blogger? Her work is perfect!” My response was, “Have you asked that blogger?” My client ended up hiring that person, who almost missed out on the job simply because she didn’t have a “hire me” page on her website.

  • Talk about prices.

Every time I see Marcus Sheridan speak, he preaches the importance of talking about prices on your website. I think this is a great tactic if you’re selling services online. People like to know what they’re going to have to pay in order to hire you. Of course, sometimes, you can’t give an exact price, but even giving a range is better than not giving any pricing information at all.

If your ultimate goal is to get work from your blog, there are times when you might not want to post about certain topics. Potential employers could be turned off by highly opinionated pieces, posts where you are negative about a company in your industry, or too many guest posts on your blog. Yes, you want traffic, but if you are using your blog as an online portfolio, you should choose each post with care.

Ultimately, you don’t need ads to monetize your blog; you have other options as well, including using your blog to get freelancing and consulting work. If you’re a blogger looking for this kind of work, consider coming to the next NMX event. It’s a great place to network and meet the type of people who want to hire someone like you!

12 Places to Find Inspiration for Your Next Blog Post

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12 Places to Find Inspiration for Your Next Blog Post Recently, I sat down at my computer to write some blog posts for the week. I found myself in that dangerous cycle of staring at the blank page, getting frustrated, walking away, coming back to the computer when I felt “refreshed”…and starting the cycle all over by staring at the blank page again. I’ve written hundreds of posts here on the NMX blog and thousands of posts across several blogs over the span of my career.

I had nothing left to say.

I felt like punching the computer. I felt like crying. Could this be the end? Was it time for Allison the blogger to retire once and for all?

Of course, if you’ve been blogging for any length of time, you know that these feelings wax and wane. All bloggers inevitably face the terror of the blank screen from time to time. It’s one thing if you truly do not enjoy blogging in your niche anymore. Then, maybe it’s time to move on to another project. But if you’re simply feeling uninspired, don’t worry; it will pass.

It will pass…but you can’t just sit around and wait for that to happen. If you do, you can easily fall into complacency, ignoring your blog for months. Sometimes, you have to go out and find inspiration, tear it from the world, and stick it on your blog. If you don’t have a muse, look for one rather than just waiting for one to magically find you.

I already posted this short list of the places I find inspiration most often – from current events, stories/parables, and kids/pets. But some days, those techniques just don’t work. So let’s dig even deeper and find more places to help get inspired to write. Here are the places I look for inspiration when I don’t know what to write about (and if you need even more ideas, check out this list of Brilliant Bloggers talking about finding post ideas):

1. Other Bloggers

When is the last time you took a day to catch up on your reading? When’s the last time you actively searched for new blogs to read instead of relying on your old favorites? What’s the last time you wrote a reactionary piece to something someone else wrote?

2. Google Analytics

What search terms are people using to get to your site? Are you actually answering their questions or addressing their needs with the posts they find?

3. Your Readers

Don’t be afraid to post a poll asking your readers what kind of topics they want to see you covering on your blog. You can also ask them for specific questions they have so you can address their problems.

4. Your Past Posts

Rarely is a post truly evergreen. Could you write an update to a previous post? Could you cover a topic in more detail? Think about how you can use one of your favorite past posts as a starting point for one or more new posts.

5. Versus

What in your niche can be compared? Think about two products or two services or two schools of thought you can compare and contrast and write about it.

6. Books and Print Media

Just like we don’t take enough time to read other blogs, we often don’t take enough time to read books in our niche. Books (and other forms of print media) can lead not only to reviews, but also to content ideas. Pull a quote from an author and write an entire blog post around that.

7. YouTube

What are people in your niche creating video content about? Check out YouTube and see what videos are most popular about specific topics. Even if you don’t do videos yourself, you can turn those ideas into blog posts.

8. Forums

If you don’t have a huge following quite yet, polling your readers can be difficult. So instead, head to a forum related to your niche and see what people are asking. Answer their questions with a blog post.

9. Wordtracker’s Keyword Questions

This is a trick I learned from Rich Brooks during his BlogWorld New York 2012 session. Wordtracker has a great tool called Keyword Questions. You enter a broad term (like “cooking” if you are a food blogger) and you can see what people are really asking about this topic. Each question can be answered in a blog post.

10. Twitter Hashtags

On Twitter, people often use hashtags to talk about specific topics. Search these hashtags (or just do a general Twitter search) to find out what they’re talking about. This can inspire you to write your own posts about the topic.

11. Pinterest

I absolutely love Pinterest! (If you aren’t using it yet, here’s a five-part Pinterest 101 series to help you get started.) This site is a great source of inspiration, since you can search for boards about a specific topic and see what people have pinned to those boards. You can also type in pinterest.com/source/yoururl.com (replaced with your url of course) to find out what people are pinning from your site so you can replicate that success by expanding more on a popular topic.

12. Your Own List of Ideas

Lastly, you can get inspiration from your own list of ideas. What does that mean? It means that right now, start a list of ideas that you can pull up whenever you are stuck. When you’re feeling super creative, it’s easy to come up with topics for posts, so when you’re in the blank screen cycle and contemplating giving up, you can simply open this document and pick an idea from the list. Add to this list of ideas regularly so you also have fresh content ideas for your blog.

5 Ways To Handle Blogger Backlash

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Photo Credit: Colin Adamson

You’re a blogger, perhaps you do it for your company or perhaps you do it for yourself.  Unlike most writing, blogging as a type of prose affords those of us with the opportunity to have an opinion.  Depending on the specific outlet, often the opinion is backed by nothing more than your feelings or experiences which guide the content.

Nonetheless you write to inspire; sometimes action, other times reflection.  When done well, a blog post can provide its audience a new perspective, a new idea, or a drive to action that will make them long ingratiated to you for the value you added to their world.

While there is no shortage of me too bloggers in every subject, one of the things that often makes certain bloggers stand out is their willingness to take a side, and not necessarily the popular position.  Well guess what…when you take the risks of having a position, an opinion, or decide to profess expertise at or above your pay grade you run the risk of serious backlash.  This most specifically will come in the form of negative commentary which can often spawn a plethora of negativity especially when the right ringleader comes in and swings the old axe.

Well, when you lie there in the face of the proverbial axe you, as the creator, need to make a decision as to how you respond to the negativity.  Do you stand up and fight, or do you take the avoidance route?  Or, do you take some other avenue?  (I hear some companies just make up fake aliases to write positive commentary in light of treacherous PR or incredibly stupid commentary.) There are many ways to skin this cat, however one wrong move and you could be this girl.

So here are 5 ways to handle blogger backlash. My suggestion, choose wisely!

1.  The Aggressor – Jump all over them and shout from the rooftops why they are wrong.  Of course you must do this with eloquence in a Shakesparian gaffe to make sure that the commenter knows that you mean business and that you aren’t going to take this $#IT from anyone.

2.  Humble Pie – Every so often someone comes along and shows you something you don’t know.  If you are wrong, and you know you are wrong then eat your humble pie.  Show gratitude, appreciation, and empathy for your misguided views and make it hard for the negativity to continue.  It is only the worst of the worst type of people that will keep kicking you when you are already down.

3.  Back That View Up – Sometimes for the sake of not riddling your readers with tons of citings and other credentials you throw out some vitals without backup.  I, for instance, often find that readers like shorter posts and less facts because the facts are easy to find.  They come for the unique perspective we bring as a blogger.  However when your expert status is put into question sometimes you have to back that view up with some of the facts.  If you have the credentials and the details to derail the backlash, now is the time to bust it out.

4. Agree to Disagree – Views won’t always line up and when you put yourself out there you are opening both sides to plead their case.  The more tenuous the subject, the more extreme the backlash may be.  In some cases you are best off to respond with appreciation for their feedback and the desire to agree to disagree.  With many of these opposing views there is not going to be movement toward middle ground so a professional appreciative response like this keeps you as the professional.

5. Ignor(amous) – Perhaps you write controversy all of the time.  Then I offer two thoughts.  One, you probably don’t need this advice, and two, you probably have grown some pretty thick skin by this point.  Now you just ignore it because you really don’t care what people think or at the very least you have become an expert in faking that belief.

When you bring the heat by blogging against the grain, you have to expect the reward and the punishment that will go with it.  You will get the eyeballs that you want and the shares that can take your content viral, but you can’t always count on it being for the right reason.

Having said that, the world (sometimes) appreciates a different view.  Other times not so much, at least not the ones that stop to comment.  Perhaps nobody knows this better than I do.  I’ve been called a moron, an idiot, a buffoon, and even some names that are too politically incorrect to include here (E-mail me for details).

However that hasn’t changed a thing for me.  When I write, I bring it every time and sometimes the subjects I tackle come back to tackle me.  But it doesn’t keep me down for long because with every comment there is an opportunity to respond intelligently and keep the content alive.   But the key is in choosing the “Intelligent” response.

So keep writing and keep bringing YOUR viewpoint.  The world doesn’t pay attention to “me too,” they pay attention to “why you” and that is why we write in the first place.

How Being a Nerd has Made Me a Better Blogger

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Are Nerds Better Bloggers I’ll admit it; I’m a total nerd. My idea of a romantic date night is playing video games or Magic: The Gathering with my boyfriend. I’d rather hang out online than hang out at a bar (most of the time). I can quote Doctor Who on command and would rather watch Star Trek than Sex in the City.

Perhaps my nerd-dom is summed up in the fact that I couldn’t think of a more recent popular non-geeky television show than Sex in the City.

Being a nerd isn’t really a badge of honor for me as much as it is a fact of life. Luckily, being a nerd has made me better at my job as a blogger. Here’s why:

  • Nerds are used to dealing with haters.

These days, being a geek is “cool.” Or so it seems. I would argue that living zombies and playing Madden with your “bros” doesn’t really make you nerdy. But regardless, nerds out there know how hard it was growing up loving books instead of cheerleading or chess instead of football. I count my lucky stars that I’m a girl, so I was never on the receiving end of a wedgie (do boys still give wedgies to one another on the playground?), but I was certainly teased and even bullied. It’s great experience for dealing with haters online. I’ve grown a thick skin over the years, which makes it easier for me to voice my opinions online without being fearful of people thinking I’m uncool.

  • Nerds love education.

Growing up, I was always the kid who actually liked going to school. The first day was exciting for me, and I would often start browsing through my textbooks as soon as I got them, even before we had homework assignments or had jumped into lessons. This love of education has really helped me as a blogger, because I’m constantly trying to learn new things in my niche. More importantly, I like the research aspect of blogging, which is where I feel like a lot of bloggers are lacking. The amount of misinformation online is astounding, and even most opinion pieces online could benefit from better research. Don’t just tell me why I should do something a certain way. Tell me what proof you have to back up your opinion.

  • Nerds are passionate about weird stuff.

To be successful as a blogger, you have to be passionate about your niche. Weirdly passionate. Nerds already get that. We’re fangirls and boys of weird stuff, whether it’s bringing Firefly back on the air and who shot first–Han or Greedo. We follow every snippet of news about books from our favorite authors  becoming movies, we spend hours creating fantasy characters for a new tabletop game, and we stand in line behind thousands of other people at ComicCon to see our favorite comic book artists. That weird obsessive behavior is what will make you successful in your niche, and trust me; nerds have weird down pat.

  • Nerds are driven.

I wasn’t given a basketball scholarship. Making friends didn’t come easily to me. Getting a date? Let’s not even talk about that. Growing up, if I wanted something, I had to try really, really hard. Even with academics, the competition to be best among nerds is fierce, and if you aren’t working hard, you’re falling behind. Nerds have to work extra hard at everything they do growing up, so it leads to a very driven personality in many cases. Now, that’s not to say that if you aren’t nerdy, you aren’t a hard worker. But as a nerd, I personally learned to be a very driven person, working hard for everything I have with nothing just handed to me. This is a quality that has helped me be a successful blogger today. You aren’t going to be successful if you aren’t willing or able to put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into your blog.

  • Nerds love a challenge.

Whether it’s figuring out that math problem or writing a novel or beating a video game villain, nerds love a challenge. And really, that’s what blogging is–a challenge. If you’re someone who easily quits when things get tough, this probably isn’t the right path for you, at least not as a career. Challenge is scary, but it can also be extremely rewarding. When you embrace the challenge of blogging and combine that with your nerdy nature to be driven, passionate, educated, and willing to express your opinions even in the face of haters, that’s when you can truly start to build a better blog.

So let your nerd flag fly! Embrace the inner geek, learn to love your dorky self, and start building a better blog instead of repressing those memories of getting picked last in gym class.

For other nerds out there: do you think being nerdy has helped you become a better blogger? And if you weren’t a nerd growing up, do you think that your personality as a child (and beyond) has helped you be successful as a blogger?

Quality Blog Content: It’s Not What You Think

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Quality Blog Content “You have to have quality content on your blog to succeed.”

“Search engine optimization only works if you have quality content.”

“Content is king.”

How often have you heard people say one of the above phrases or another version that essentially boils down to the need for high-quality blog posts if you want to succeed as a blogger? The word quality is throw around more often than any other, and justifiably so. I fully agree with the advice that, as a blogger, you will live or die by the quality of your content.

But what is quality?

One of the main problems I see in blogging world right now is that few people actually define what constitutes quality content. So let me ask right now: What is quality blog content? I personally don’t think there is a single, all-encompassing answer, but if you aren’t asking yourself that question, I wonder: how can you honestly be providing true, quality content?

What Quality is Not

I think we need to be disillusioned about the true definition of quality content as it relates to blogging. What comes to mind when someone says quality blog content to you? I’ll tell you my knee-jerk reaction:

  • Quality content is well-researched.
  • Quality content is written artistically and with care.
  • Quality content is original and interesting.

That’s my knee-jerk reaction…but I’m not sure it’s correct. At least not entirely.

If your blog needs quality content to be successful, and quality content is well-researched, artistic, created with care, original, and interesting, I have to ask: Why are there so many popular blogs online that do not have any of these characteristics?

I’d like to suggest that quality is not the same online as it is in the print media world. In fact, I think the definition of content quality online is still evolving.

What Quality Really Is

So if quality isn’t any of those things I’ve listed, what is quality content?

I’d like to suggest that quality content is this: Content created that will help you reach your overall blogging goal.

We’ve been talking a lot about goals here on the NMX blog recently. Last week, I asked, “Are Your Blogging Goals Realistic?” and before that, I posed the question, “Are Your Actions Aligned with Your Online Goals?” As a blogger, you probably have (and should have) several goals, but if pressed, what is the single thing you hope to accomplish with your blog? Is your goal to…

  • Sell a product?
  • Raise brand awareness?
  • Position yourself as an expert?
  • Educate your community?
  • Entertain readers?
  • Promote a cause or idea?
  • Enjoy the blogging process?

Any of these are justified goals, and most bloggers will point to more than one. But what’s your one general, most important goal? In order to create quality content, everything you write has to be created with that one goal in mind.

Quality in Action

To illustrate how this works, I’m going to use two very different blogs as an example. The first is celebrity gossip blog TMZ, and the second is social media blog Social Media Examiner. Very different blogs, right? But in their respective niches, they are both extremely popular.

TMZ’s goal is to entertain readers. You don’t go to TMZ for education, and they aren’t really trying to sell anything. Readers visit TMZ as a guilty pleasure, to pass the time, and to satisfy the natural curiosity we have to know how celebrities live.

Social Media Examiner isn’t about entertaining readers. This site is all about education. Yes, they sell products, and I’m sure they certainly want to be seen as experts in the social media field, but overall, this site is about educating their community.

Forget about niche, if you put content from TMZ on Social Media Examiner, readers will absolutely not think it is quality. The opposite is true as well. TMZ readers would not be happy if they started blogging in the same style as Social Media Examiner.

The Subject Nature of Quality

To everyone reading this post, the choice may seem simple: You’ll take Social Media Examiner over TMZ any day, am I right? But we’re an insular community in many respects, and what we like isn’t necessarily what others like. A lot of people use the Internet not for work, but for relaxing when they get home. The last thing they want to read online is educational content. They want fun. To them, Social Media Examiner may seem extremely low quality because the posts are long and boring.

In other words, quality is subjective.

It’s important to remember that why you’re throwing around advice that writing quality content is important. What’s quality in one niche or even to one blogger might be drastically different in another niche or to another blogger. So before you point to someone and say, “You content is not quality” and more importantly before you give advice about how to create quality content, it’s important to step back and ask whether or not the content is aligned with the goal of the blog.

How to Give Your Audience Time to Digest Your Content

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digesting content Last week, I posted my opinion that “blog when you have something to say” is bad advice. Unsurprising, a little debate about how often one should post is going on in the comments of that post. This is a debate that has raged for years and will likely continue for years to come.

But while people often talk about how often you should create content in order to keep readers engaged, what we should be talking about as well is how you should schedule content to avoid overwhelming your fans. When you publish too much content, your audience doesn’t always have time to digest it. So how can you ensure that you don’t post too often?

  • Stick to a schedule.

When people get overwhelmed by your content, it’s typically not because you’re posting too much, but rather that you’re posting too much unexpectedly. If you don’t post for two weeks and then suddenly post three times in a single day, your readers are thrown off kilter. Similarly, if you typically have three new podcast episodes per month and suddenly you have three in one week, your listeners probably haven’t set time aside to listen to all that content. Sometimes, extra content sneaks in; it is important to be timely when dealing with a news story. But most of the time, it’s important to set expectations with your readers by sticking to a general schedule. People subconsciously plan when they’ll digest your content, so you don’t want to mess up that plan they’ve made.

  • Mix up your content.

If you’re worried about posting too much content, think about the type of content you’re uploading. Maybe you do a video one day and an in-depth written piece the next. Maybe your 3,000 word post is surrounded by shorter pieces. Maybe your make a podcast available for download, but offer a transcript the next day. People like to digest different kinds of content, so mixing things up and giving them options makes your content more inviting than day after day of the same thing.

  • Set the bar high for quality.

Lastly, I think it’s important to challenge yourself to raise the bar on your content. People will make time to digest whatever brain food you set in front of them if that food tastes like it is from a five-star restaurant. I hope that if you’re reading this post you realize the importance of good quality, but we all get lazy sometimes. Push yourself to create better content more often. If you can do that, your audience won’t be overwhelmed; they’ll be begging for more.

Want to set the bar higher for yourself? Join us at NMX in Vegas this January to learn more about content creation online.

Robert Scoble talks about Blogging [Video]

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Back in the day, there were only a few hundred blogs on the web; not the millions there are now. When it comes to blogging, there are just a handful of people who have been in the space for a long time. One of those veteran bloggers is Robert Scoble.

Robert has built a name and strong reputation for himself and we’re always pleased when he comes to share his knowledge at our conferences. At our most recent event in New York, Srinivas Rao of BlogcastFM caught up with Robert. Check out what he has to say about standing out online, representing a brand while being your own personal brand, and about how social media has changed how we share.

 

 

Why “Blog When You Have Something to Say” is Bad Advice

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One of the most common questions I hear about blogging is this:

How often should I blog? Do I need to write a certain number of posts per month or week or day?

And commonly, the answer I see people giving is this:

Blog when you have something to say. You don’t have to stick to a certain schedule or routine. What’s important is that you blog when you feel passionate about the topic.

It certainly sounds like good advice, but in actuality, it can be quite dangerous, especially for new bloggers. Why is “blog when you have something to say” such bad advice?

1. It encourages laziness.

When you only blog when you have something to say, you’re encouraged to be a lazy blogger. It’s almost as though we’re giving ourselves a free pass to do less work. Something big happens in your industry? Meh. I don’t *really* feel passionate about that topic, so I’m not going to write about it.To be sure, you don’t have to write about everything, but sometimes covering a topic is what is best for your readers. If you give yourself a free pass to ignore certain topics, you aren’t giving your readers the best experience possible on your blog.

2. We aren’t forced to push ourselves.

When you only blog when you have something to say, it’s easy to fall into the trap of not looking for something to say. It’s not about blogging about topics when you don’t care about them. It’s about finding things to care about. When you’re forced to push yourself to find topics to cover, you might be surprised at what you find. The world is an interesting place. You might also be surprised at the work you do when you push yourself to find the interesting story in a topic you don’t naturally find interesting.

3. More posts lead to more traffic.

The more you write, the more your fans will visit your blog to read what you write. Maintaining a high quality is important, but if you do, you will see more traffic. Chris Brogan talked at BlogWorld New York about how he recently decrease the number of times he posts per week and he’s definitely seen a decrease in traffic. When having a conversation with Jared Polin about this, he told me that he attributes at least some of his own success to the fact that he posts six or seven times every week. I can also confirm from my personal experiences that when I post more, I see more traffic. So if you’re measuring success with statistics, posting more often is a great way to boost your traffic. And remember, readers are creatures of habit. If you post on a schedule, they’ll know when to expect new content. If you post sporadically, they might simply forget about you.

Going back to the original question – how often should you blog? If the answer isn’t “blog when you have something to say,” what is the answer?

Some people might disagree with me, but I think the best answer is this: Blog as often as you can while maintaining a high quality. Get on a schedule and stick to it, pushing yourself to blog regularly. Sometimes it might be hard, but as Jimmy Dugan says, “It’s supposed to be hard! If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it.”

How often do you blog? How often do you think people should blog? Tell us with a comment below!

 

How to Instantly Make Your Content “Pinable”

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Want to instantly make every blog post you write pinable? Of course you do! According to PR Daily, Pinterest accounts for 3.6 percent of referral traffic, which makes it just about neck and neck with Twitter. So, the more your posts get pinned, the more traffic you’ll get to your site – and that’s a good thing all around, right? Yay, traffic!

It should come as no surprise that the best way to instantly make your blog posts more pinable is to focus on your images. But what if you don’t work in a visual niche like travel or food? Not to worry; you can still create images that will make your blog posts extremely pinable.

The following is an edited excerpt from The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Your Blog, Podcast, and Videos with Pinterest, an ebook you can download for FREE right here on the NMX blog. In this excerpt, we’ll talk about how to create great images for Pinterest that make sense for you blog, no matter what your niche.

Images for Visual Niches

Start by analyzing your niche. Do images work hand-in-hand with your content? We’re not talking about your personal practices. A lot of people get a little lazy when it comes to adding pictures to blog posts. But what’s the standard in your niche? Do people generally use a lot of pictures? In any basic how-to niche (food, crafts, etc.), this is often the case. That’s why those topics are so widely spread on Pinterest.

If pictures are a huge part of your niche, half the battle is already done. The other half is making sure that your own content is up to snuff. Simply put, you need a money shot.

In film terms, the money shot is the scene that often takes a disproportionate amount of time and money to shoot, but is essential to the success of the film. It’s that moment in a film where viewers feel like the price of the ticket was justified. Money shots are those big movie moments that you remember forever, like the scene where Luke Skywalker loses his hand in Star Wars or Leonardo DiCaprio shouts “I’m the King of the World” in Titanic.

You need to use pictures that serve as money shots for your blog posts or other digital content in order to gain traction on Pinterest. You want readers to need to share because they’re so enticing. It’s that shot of freshly baked rolls with melting butter when you post a bread recipe. It’s that adorable shot of your daughter covered in finger paints on your parenting blog. It’s that shot of your finished product when you post a tutorial. Stock photography certainly doesn’t give you a money shot (in most cases).

And not every picture you take yourself is a money shot, either. These pictures have to be special; they have to make you want to click through to see the amazing website they came from. In other words, these pictures have to be evangelists for your content.

When the Money Shot isn’t Easy

The concept of a “money shot” picture is pretty easy to implement on sites that are already inherently visual. But on other sites, this is not as easy. For example, if you blog about social media and write a list of the “Top Ten Tips for Using Twitter,” there’s nothing physical to photograph, other than maybe a screen shot of you using Twitter. And that’s not exactly a money shot. Or if you’re a virtual assistant and sell services instead of products, there’s nothing to really photograph other than yourself.

That doesn’t mean you can’t be successful on Pinterest. On the contrary, if you work in one of these niches, you can be super successful because others aren’t using the network. Less competition means more opportunity for you! Creating a “money shot” picture that’s eagerly pinned is easier than you might think.

Step-by-Step Image Creation

The first step is to find a picture that makes sense for your post. It can be one of those dreaded stock photography images, as long as you’re making sure to use Creative Commons pictures that allow users to alter the image. Fair use photography can be found at a number of sites, include SXC.hu, Flickr, and Wikipedia. Again, make sure you check the licensing of any photo you want to use to ensure you’re giving attribution properly and to ensure that the owner allows people to create derivative works.

The second step? Add some text. In most cases, your headline works just fine, but remember, the focus here is on the picture. So if your headline is too long, alter it. You want the text you use to convey information and entice readers, which is why you should use your blog post/podcast/video title—you should already be creating headlines that attract clicks.

If you’ve never really thought of the power of headlines before, here are some great resources:

In addition, Brian Clark at Copyblogger has an 11-part series called How to Write Magnetic Headlines that you should check out.

The third step is to make the text look professional (and readable) by adding a drop shadow, highlights, and if necessary using photo-editing software like Photoshop. Looks matter. I know your content might be great, but that alone won’t help you get shares and clicks on Pinterest. You need to present a pretty package.

Even if you don’t have a photo editing program, you can quickly and easily add text to pictures with PicFont.com.

Examples of Great Images for Pinterest

These images can take on lots of different looks. Here are a few pins to check out to get some ideas for your own pictures:

We also have used images like this here on the NMX/BlogWorld blog. Here are some examples:

There are some challenges with creating these images. Sometimes, if you have a theme where the homepage pulls images of different sizes, it can be difficult to create images with text that work across the board. We have that challenge right now, so it’s one of the things we’re thinking about with future redesigns of this blog. If you aren’t a designer, placing the text on an image can also be challenging so that it looks good.

What’s important is that you’re trying, and that you’re making as many posts as possible pinable on Pinterest. This isn’t just about Pinterest. If you don’t like or don’t care about this platform, that’s your prerogative. What it’s about is realizing that a more visual, interactive web is where we’re going as an industry. If you aren’t making an effort, if you’re just using stock images and logos, you’re going to get left in the dust.

Want even more awesome Pinterest advice? Get the entire ebook for FREE here: The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Your Blog, Podcast, and Videos with Pinterest

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