How SEO Can Help Your Blog Rank Well

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How SEO Can Help Your Blog Rank Well

In the final part of our three-part series on the What, Why and How of SEO and how it can be used to improve your blog’s rankings, we’ll be exploring how SEO can help your blog rank well.

Ranking well in the major search engines means added visibility for your blog. Visibility should eventually turn into conversions, so you are making money by learning SEO. The rules change often. The major search engines, led by Google, generate somewhere in the neighbourhood of 90% of all web traffic on the Internet. New viewers are much more likely to find your blog through Google than through any other medium, including friendly word of mouth. Obviously, ranking well is of vital importance!

Learning the nuances of how SEO helps the search engines rank pages can be incredibly helpful for SEO noobs. Once you learn the basic rules of why other blogs are winning, you can modify your strategies to win as well! Here are the ways that SEO can help your blog rank well.

Natural Organisation / The Macro theme

The major search engines are always looking to provide the most relevant results to its audience. To this end, Google created an unofficial ‘trust’ system, that takes into account a site’s trust, authority and expertise. The purpose is to give greater visibility and rankings to sites that are widely acknowledged as leaders or authorities in their chosen fields. While it has to be said that no one can say with certainty the metrics used to determine ‘authority’ it is thought to be based on aspects such as your social presence and quality of links that your site receives. It is Google’s way of recommending a site, or piece of content, that it determines would best answer a search query.

Part of SEO is learning how to organise your blog around relevant keywords so that the search engines associate your entire blog with an overall theme. Blogs that skip around from dog food to beach living to auto parts will find it difficult to rank for any of those subjects.

In Australia we have a saying: “jack of all trades, master of none.” The same applies to your blog. The blog that picks one subject and talks about every nuance of it will gain more visibility by becoming an authority on the subject. Creating a theme (the macro theme) is your first discipline when learning SEO.

Relevant Keywords in Individual Blogs

Within a macro theme, the search engines are looking to drill down even more. In order to provide even better results for their audiences, the search engines will place special relevance on blogs that answer a specific query. What are people asking about? Local topics and specific questions. As you write your blogs, you should look to answer specific questions in each of your pieces. This is what people are looking for, and if the search engines match your topic to a popular question, you will gain a great deal of visibility and may even achieve a Featured Answer position.

You signal the topic of your blogs to the search engines through keywords. Keywords are words that are the focus of your blog. For instance, if you are blogging about cat food, you are likely to use the terms “chicken” or “flavouring” more than “ignition” or “light fixture.”

Google has been around long enough to have accumulated masses of data regarding search terms and the predictive nature of searchers. Their algorithms can accurately predict relevant keywords associated with previous searches, making it easier for searchers to find relevant content that answers their query. It is imperative that you include accurate keywords relevant to your content, as the search engines will be looking for those keywords and phrases when determining the relevancy of your blog. Matching your keywords to the search engine’s assumptions of what your blog should contain is great SEO technique and boosts the visibility of your blog post.

How SEO Can Help Your Blog Rank Well | Featured Answer vs Number One Organic

Bringing Relevant Traffic to Your Blog

While the search engines are checking for keywords and other technical aspects of your writing, you should also check what real human traffic is doing. Search engines have the ability to track how long a visitor stays on your page with a metric known as the bounce rate. A high bounce rate means a visitor has left the page quickly, while a low bounce rate means the opposite. While the question of whether the bounce rate affects your rankings has long been dispelled (it doesn’t!), you can still use it to your advantage.

Bounce rate is not an accurate metric in the first instance, as many sites don’t utilise Google Analytics, leaving Google unable to track bounce rate information across the board. In other instances, a high bounce rate may be good for one page and bad for another. For example, if a contact page has a high bounce rate, then it may simply be that it is fulfilling its purpose; visitors complete the contact form before leaving.

What you can use bounce rate for is to monitor the quality of your site. Bounce rate can be an indicator of quality, but not as a weighting factor. A high bounce rate doesn’t equate to low rankings, but you can monitor pages on your site for a high bounce rate. That high rate may be due to low quality pages that you can improve to lower the bounce rate and improve your overall ranking.

Search engine optimisation is a complex discipline that people have written entire books about. There are entire blogs dedicated to the subject and the nuances of the process are only becoming more complicated as time goes on. However, the basics of SEO will never change.

Your main job is this: Create content that people want to see, and market it to them honestly! Do this, and SEO will work in your favour to make your blog rank well!

Jim Stewart, CEO of StewArt Media, is a recognised digital marketing expert. Jim is ProBlogger’s SEO expert and will share his vast SEO knowledge to equip you with the systems and skills to optimise and monetise your blog using tried and tested techniques. What Jim doesn’t know about SEO and blogging isn’t worth knowing.

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Just as you have signed up for many, many email lists, lots of people will signup for yours if you market it right.

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The president of 21c Museum Hotels says that art strengthens the company’s growing footprint.

Originally published on: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/7-hidden-facebook-power-editor-features-to-save-time/

Do you advertise on Facebook? Are you taking advantage of all of the features in Power Editor? Power Editor has a number of often-unnoticed options that can help marketers create more effective ad campaigns while saving time. In this article, you’ll discover seven overlooked Power Editor features to manage your campaigns more efficiently. #1: Split […]

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– Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

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The 9 Questions You Can Ask to Increase FaceBook Engagement

In today’s lesson, I want to give you some really practical things that you can do to increase engagement — particularly to get people to comment — on your Facebook page and if you have them — groups.

Most bloggers spend a lot of time on Facebook and it’s for good reason. The amount of potential readers for our blogs who are on Facebook on a daily basis is staggering. It’s where people are online and so it makes sense to have a presence there.

However using Facebook to grow your audience is getting increasingly tough — particularly if you want to do it organically and don’t have a budget to advertise. I won’t go into the reasons for this in this podcast but will say that one way to increase the effectiveness of what you do on Facebook is to put concerted effort into increasing engagement with those who already follow you there.

Facebook has an algorithm with many factors that determine how widely they’ll show your updates — and one of them is how many people are engaging with your posts.

If FB sees you’re getting lots of likes, shares and comments on your posts — they’re seeing what you’re doing as worth showing to others.

So if you want to increase the effectiveness of your FB strategy — this show is for you.

Listen to this episode in the player above or here on iTunes.

Further Resources on 9 Types of Questions to Ask On Your FaceBook Page to Get More Comments

School Mum Facebook Page
Example of where I asked a question in a link post

Full Transcript
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Hello there and welcome to Episode 183 of the ProBlogger podcast.

My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com; a blog, podcast, event, job board, and a series of ebooks all designed to help you start the most amazing blog, to grow your audience, to create content that changes that audience’s life in some way, and hopefully to make a little bit of money from your blog along the way or a lot, hopefully. You can learn more about ProBlogger over at problogger.com.

In today’s lesson, I want to give you some really practical things that you can do to increase the engagement, particularly to get more people to comment upon your Facebook page. If you have them, your Facebook groups, and other types of social media as well.

Most bloggers do spend a lot of time on Facebook and that’s for a good reason, it’s not because we’re all distracted and sit there looking at cat memes all day, some of us probably do that too. The main reason I think bloggers tend to be attracted to Facebook, particularly with their blogging, is the amount of potential readers for our blog who are there at any one time on a daily basis. If you look at the stats of how many people are using Facebook, it is quite staggering. It’s where a lot of people are spending a lot of time. It makes sense for us who want to reach those types of people to have a presence in this platform.

The problem is using Facebook to grow your audience is getting increasingly tough. If you’ve been blogging for two, or three, or four years, you probably have seen the changes that have happened over that time, particularly if you want to grow your audience on Facebook organically and you don’t have the budget to advertise. You can certainly reach a lot of people if you’ve got money to spend, but if you want to do it organically, it can be tough. It’s not impossible though.

One of the reasons that it’s not impossible is that there are still things that you can do to increase your effectiveness on Facebook. One of those things is to build engagement with those who already follow you on Facebook. Facebook has this algorithm with many factors that determine how widely they will show your updates. One of the signals to Facebook that you are doing something worth showing to more people is to build engagement with your posts. If Facebook sees your posts getting some engagement, they will show your post to more people.

If you are like me and you want to get more engagement on Facebook, you are going to want to really work on engagement. That’s what this podcast is all about today. I particularly want to focus upon how to get more comments for your Facebook page. If that’s something that is of interest to you, this show is for you.

Getting people to comment on your Facebook updates is very important. I’ve already told you the main reason for that, it’s a signal to Facebook that what you’re doing is good and it helps you get seen more. But, there’s some other reasons why I think engagement is well worth trying to get on your page. It’s also a signal to your readers that you’re interested in them and you’re not just interested in them following you and clicking on your links, but you are actually interested in engaging with them. It’s like going to a party and meeting someone for the first time and they ask you a lot of questions, you get the sense that they’re interested in you. That’s a good thing because you have a good feeling and you want to spend more time with that person. It’s a great way to build that relationship, to warm up that relationship with a potential reader.

The other reason, it’s really great for social proof as well. If someone else stumbles upon your Facebook page and sees that you’re engaging with your audience and that they are engaging with you, that’s going to make you much more attractive to them and they’re much more likely to join in.

There’s a variety of different reasons why engagement and particularly getting comments on Facebook is a useful thing. There’s also a variety of ways to get that engagement. Obviously, the number one thing that you want to do is to get people to like your Facebook page, that’s one type of engagement. Then, there’s getting people to react to your updates on Facebook. Traditionally, this was about getting a like on your post but today there’s all these other emoji reactions, people can love, laugh, they can do the wow emoji, they can be sad, they can be angry. Those type of reactions are one type of engagement that Facebook lets you get.

And then, there’s getting the share which is really great. It’s where someone shares the update that you’ve done to their followers or on a page or a group that they’re involved in. All of these things are signals to Facebook, they’re really positive. The one that I like the best is the comment. Getting someone to leave a comment on your Facebook update is great. Again, it’s a signal to Facebook, the reason I like it though is that it tells you something about your audience and it’s them stepping out of lurking mode and putting themselves out there.

If you can get a comment on your Facebook page or even your blogpost or anywhere on social media, that’s someone pausing and not just going for the easy option of the like button but they’re actually putting themselves out there to react. That very often is a really important part in the building of that relationship.

If you think about real life and when relationships take off, think back to when you first met a friend. It’s the first words that come out of your mouth and the first words that come out of their mouth that often create that impression and take that relationship to the next level. It’s the conversation where you go deeper.

This is why I want to focus today’s episode on how to get more comments on your Facebook page. We may go into how to get more shares and likes and those types of things in another episode but today I want to focus on the number one way to get more comments on your Facebook page. It’s not really rocket science, but there’s a variety of techniques in doing this. The number way that I found to get more comments on your Facebook page, on your blog post, on social media of any kind, is simply to ask questions.

That seems pretty obvious but I’m amazed how many Facebook pages never, ever ask questions. I followed lots of Facebook pages, I’ve lost count of how many I follow. Most of them never actually ask questions, they never do the most obvious thing to get me to comment and to engage with them, they never ask me a question. They make it so easy for me to look and to stay passive in that relationship.

If you think about the real world interactions that we have, a very large percentage of conversations start with a question. Think about it, you might even want to track it over the next 24 hours. Over the next day, track how many times a conversation that you have starts with either you or the other person asking a question. Usually, they’re kind of almost greeting like questions, like how are you, what are you up to, how is your day, how are you feeling? These things are almost substitutes for saying hi. Here in Australia, we go hey, how is it going, mate? We’re not always expecting an answer to that question, it’s more of a greeting than anything, but it’s still a question that opens the conversation.

There’s questions opening conversations but that’s also how conversations go deeper. Think about the last deep and meaningful conversation that you had, it almost always gets deep and meaningful because at least one person in that conversation starts asking some deeper questions. They start scratching and going below the surface with a question.

Questions lead to meaningful conversations, questions lead to learning, to deeper relationships in real life. If the goal of our blog is to grow an audience with people who feel like they know, like, and trust us, then I think we need to ask questions online too, and particularly in the Facebook space. Questions are great but what type of questions should we be asking?

This is what I want to do for the rest of this particular episode. I want to actually outline for you some of my favorite types of questions to ask on Facebook. I’ve actually got nine types of questions that you can ask. You may even, an idea to do this, ask one of these types of questions on your Facebook page as this episode is going on. I dare you to do it and then to leave a comment at the end and let us know what question you asked.

Nine types of questions that you can go away right now and ask on your Facebook page. Number one, and this I think is the easiest one to do and it is possibly the most effective one as well. In fact, I just did it a few minutes ago on my own Facebook page on Digital Photography School and immediately started to get comments.

Number one, ask a fill in the blank type question. This is where you might say, this is the exact question that I asked on my Photography School Facebook page—I had: Fill in the blank, “The lens attached to my main camera right now is ______.” I’m basically asking what lens is attached to your question right now. I used the fill in the blank type format to do that.

If you’ve got a blog about blogging, you might ask, “My first blogging platform was ________.” You might say, “My first camera was ________.” “The words that describe my approach to diet is _______,” if you’re a food blogger. “My favorite comfort food is _________.” Really, any question can be turned into a fill in the blank type post. The beauty of this type of question is that it is incredibly simple for someone to answer. All they have to do to leave a comment is to write one word. This is the lowest barrier of entry that you can possibly give to anyone leaving a comment.

Often, this is a good way to get that person who might have been following your page for a while now to leave their first comment. They don’t really have to reveal anything too deep and personal, they just need to put in a word. You want to make sure that the question is related to your overall topic, you don’t just want to be asking random questions that have nothing to do with your topic. Too often, I do see some Facebook pages doing that. I’m a big believer in trying to keep it relevant. Fill in the blank type posts are the first type of questions you might ask.

Another one which is similar in some ways because it sometimes can mean a one word response or one word comment is when you ask a question that is this or that type of question. It’s where you give your followers the choice between two options and in doing so, you say here’s the two responses I’m looking for, which one are you? You might say are you a cat or dog person?

On Digital Photography School, we occasionally have a question which is about Nikon versus Canon. That always starts a bit of a fight. Or, do you post process your photos or do you not post process your photos? We know that within our audience, there’s these two camps. We start a discussion on that.

Yes or no questions might be another option. If you’re a fitness blogger, you might say do you exercise daily, yes or no? There’s only two answers really there. Some people will come in with a sometimes, but that’s totally fine as well.

A true or false question might be another one, it’s a this or that.

I guess the last one I’ll say there is you might actually want to choose a question that is some sort of a controversy or some sort of a debate. You want to be a little bit careful with this because these types of questions can be a bit edgier, so during the election you might have said Trump or Hillary. On the photography space, the Nikon Canon one, that’s a bit of a debate. The reason we don’t ask it too often is we do see other camera manufacturers, people who have those cameras chime in but it also can get a bit negative. You do want to be a bit careful about this or that questions, particularly if it’s a debate or a controversial type thing. They can be a really good discussion starter as well and are worthy experimenting with.

Number one was fill in the blank type questions, number two were this or that questions, number three is another one. I’ve got a few types but I’ve seen other bloggers use this incredibly well, it’s actually a technique that one of my online friends Samantha Jockel from School Mum regularly uses. She actually takes questions that readers have emailed her and she puts it up on Facebook as a discussion starter. The questions, because her blog is School Mum, her questions generally relate to parenting or family life or school life.

I was just looking at her page a few minutes ago and the last one of these that she posted, she starts it with this little phrase, “A school mom asked…” That’s the signal to the audience that it’s this type of question. Everyday, she does a School Mum ask type post. After it, she says, “Can I please ask how much do you give your kids for school lunch, as my kids are always hungry. P.S. Any food ideas, please.” This is a question that someone sent Samantha. She has put it up on the page.

If you go and look at her Facebook page, every single day, there is a post that is a reader question. Sometimes, the questions are heartfelt, sometimes it’s a real problem that a person is having, they’re always anonymous so people do tend to ask those personal questions. Sometimes, they’re funny, sometimes they start debates, sometimes they’re on those controversial type issues. Perhaps, they’re an easier way to get into those controversial questions because it’s a reader asking the question rather than you.

These posts, many of them do really well. Again, I encourage you to go and look at Samantha’s Facebook page and you’ll see some examples of the different types of questions that she’s asked. Ask a reader question. If you’re getting questions from readers, you probably just need to dig into your blog posts, comments, or comments that have been left on your Facebook page, or emails that you’ve been receiving, or you might actually want to do an update saying do you have any questions, and actually gather the questions that way. If you get questions, turn them into Facebook updates. Let your readers, let your community find the answers to those questions as well. They can do really well.

The fourth one is questions where you ask your readers to talk about their biggest problems, challenges, or obstacles, or even fears. This might seem like a negative thing to do, you might want to keep a positive vibe on your Facebook page, but it’s amazing what comes out when you actually nominate a topic and say what’s your biggest problem in this area?

To take Samantha’s example again on School Mum, she might ask a question like what’s your biggest fear as a parent? What’s your biggest challenge at the moment in raising boys? What’s the biggest problem that you have in the area of discipline? You can actually target the types of questions that you want to explore. To actually get your readers to come out and share some of the problems and challenges and pain that they have, the fears that they have, it might feel like a negative thing but it actually does lead to high engagement, people are willing to share this type of stuff.

The best thing about these types of questions is they’ll help you to understand who is following your page. You’ll begin to see things about your audience that you never knew before. These things will inform future pieces of content for your site as well. This is something if you follow me on the Facebook page, at the ProBlogger Facebook page, you’ll see that almost every week we ask a question that is really about trying to work out what the biggest obstacle is for our readers at the moment. Those answers often turn into blog posts.

The other great thing about this type of question is that you’ll find that in the responses, people will nominate problems that they’ve got that you’ve already written about. You can reply to that and say hey, here’s a tutorial I wrote on that topic, or here’s an article with some tips on how to overcome that challenge. You can actually drive people back to your archives by sharing links in response to the problems that people have.

The ultimate thing here, being willing to talk about people’s problems is that you show your readers that you’re interested in helping them, you’re interested in hearing about their problems, and you also give them a chance to solve one another’s problems as well. This is something I did in our Facebook group, the ProBlogger podcast listeners group that we’ve got on Facebook the other day.

Actually, on a Friday afternoon I think that was, I said what’s your biggest problem now? I’m going away for the weekend but I know you can answer each other’s problems. It was amazing to see people chime in and respond to each other’s problems in that way. That may not work quite so well on an open page, but in a Facebook page it might work as well. It gives your followers a sense that they’re not alone.

Even though I just said I went away for a weekend when I asked that question, I did qualify that by saying you need to look after each other here. When you do ask these types of questions, it’s really ideal if you hang around immediately after you ask that question. You want to be there to respond to the problems that people have, to be present, interact with them, help them where you can, and to show empathy. It’s really important not just to ask those questions to trigger the pain in people’s lives but to be there to walk with them in that as well.

The fifth one is the flip side of this and that is to ask people about their dreams, to ask them about their aspirations. It’s really important to not just understand who your readers and their problems but to also understand who they want to become. Again, this shows them that you’re interested in them making some changes in their life and you also will get a lot of ideas for the types of things that they want to learn how to do. Then, you can create content that helps to move them along towards those dreams that they have as well. People do love to talk about their dreams, they love to talk about their hopes for their future. That’s the fifth type of question that you can ask on your Facebook page.

The sixth type is what I would call a tips question. This is where you ask your followers for their tips. They’re probably coming to your Facebook page because they want to learn from you, but the reality is that in any community, more than two or three people, there’s a lot of wisdom in the crowd.

In fact, many years ago now, I read a book called Wisdom Of The Crowd that really highlighted this. Any group of people has the ability to solve most problems that we face. This is where you actually say to your audience, “I want to hear from you today with your tips,” about a particular area. You may not get as many responses from this type of question as you would from a fill in the blank type question. The responses that you will get will be deeper, they’ll also be longer and they’ll be more useful, they’ll be the types of comments that other readers will gain a lot of value from as well.

You might ask a question that really taps into a typical question that a beginner in your topic has, and then you put that question to your audience and say what would you answer to this type of question? What tips do you have, what stories, what tools would you use? You really are looking for those tips there.

The other thing that I love about this type of question is that you can turn the answers into content if you get permission. This is something that again you will probably have seen me do on my Facebook page, the ProBlogger Facebook page. If I’m writing a blog post or if I’m preparing for a podcast, very often in the week before the podcast comes out in our Facebook group for instance, I will ask a question that relates to the podcast. Really, what I’m trying to do there is to get the audience’s ideas that I can then incorporate into the podcast. Of course, you want to give credit to the people who leave those responses.

You might say if you’re writing a post about exercise on your fitness blog, try to work out the top ten exercises that your readers love to do. You can ask what’s your favorite exercise and why do you like it? Underneath that, you might say I’m going to use some of your responses in a future blog post. Anyone who does leave a comment is kind of agreeing that they want their comment to be on the blog post. Then, you can take their responses and you can either embed them into your post or you might just copy and paste them into your blog post. Of course, giving credit to the person who left their response.

And then, you are basically creating reader generated content for your site. It’s not just your voice, it’s theirs as well. Of course, you probably want to add a few of your own comments to that to build upon the ideas that your readers share, but these types of questions work really well.

Typically, these types of questions would usually start with how do you do type questions. How do you do this, how do you do that? How would you approach this situation? Asking for tips, that’s question number six.

Number seven is another one. This one probably won’t work for everyone but I think it can probably be stretched to a lot of Facebook pages. It’s something we do very regularly on our site. We actually ask our readers to share a photo. You could ask them to share a photo or a video. If you go on our Facebook page, you will see that when people are given the opportunity to leave a comment, there’s a little icon in that comments window where they can upload a photo or a video as well. I’m amazed how many pages don’t utilize this feature.

Obviously, it works really well on my Digital Photography School site. We have a site about photography so every week, at least once, we ask our readers, upload your best portrait from the last month, or upload your best landscape in the last month, upload a picture that you think will be improved in post production. We have some discussions around that.

We actually ask our readers to upload a photo or a video. It works really well. We end up with a long list of photos instead of comments. Many people don’t even leave an actual comment, they’ll just share the photo.

You might think this doesn’t really to my blog, I don’t have a photography blog, but I have seen this work on plenty of blogs. I saw a parenting blogger ask recently, show us a favorite piece of art from one of your kids. I saw a food blogger ask, show us the last picture in your camera phone that you took of food. That was pretty funny actually because there were really nice pictures and really ugly ones as well. I saw a fashion blogger ask, show your your favorite pair of shoes. A technology blogger asked, show us a picture of everything that you have in your laptop bag.

You can, at a stretch, find at least one question that you could ask that you want people to respond to with that picture or a video. It’s just an alternative way.

Again, you might not get quite as many comments but you’ll get some really interesting ones as well. I guess again you could probably takes some of those pictures if you made it clear in your question and put it into a blog post. Maybe you can create a little SlideShare of all the different photos that were submitted, or maybe you can pick your best three or four and write about why you like them in a blog post. Again, you want to get a bit of permission on that because you don’t want to use other people’s photos without their permission. I think most people would be pretty cool with that, that’s question number seven.

Number eight is accountability questions. This, again, may not work for all pages but I think a lot of them might work. This is where you ask your followers, the people who like your page, a question to get them to nominate something that they’re going to do in order for you to keep them accountable.

You may have been a part of Facebook groups that do this and this happens in a lot of Facebook groups. What’s your biggest goal of the week? You can ask that on your Facebook page. I think you can take it a step further if at the end of the week you went back to that post and asked anyone who responded with a goal how they went with that goal.

I actually saw this happen on a Facebook page recently where the person on Monday morning just had a very simple question, what do you want to achieve this week? What’s your biggest goal this week? And then on Friday, he came back and he left a reply on every single person’s comment who mentioned a goal and all he had was a few words, how did you go with…?

I was actually someone who left a comment at the start of a week and I hadn’t done my goal by the end of the week. You know what? I went away and got it done about ten minutes after he left that comment. I’m really grateful for him because he took the time to come back to me and keep me accountable to that.

I think this could be done on all kinds of Facebook pages, not every time. If you have any kind of page where people are trying to build a habit, where they’re trying to learn something, where they’re trying to become something, you could certainly ask this type of question and then come back to them. Not to whip them, not to make them feel bad if they haven’t met their goal, but simply to encourage them and to build some accountability into that. I think that makes a massive impression upon people. I know I’ll be going back to that page, I’ll be making it a big part of what I do because I know that guy is taking the time to notice my goal.

The last type of question that I want to briefly talk about is where you use questions in other types of blog posts. Most of what I talked about in the previous eight types of questions that you can ask is really when you ask a question as your status update. The fill in the blank question, that’s your update, that’s all you have in it. You might include a picture or something like that but really the update is the question.

You can also ask questions in other types of updates too. I think that can actually make them more effective. I want to give you an example, and to see the example, you’re going to have to go over the show notes. A few days ago on my Digital Photography School Facebook page, I shared a link to an older post that I’ve written, about three or four months ago now. It was a link to a post which listed popular cameras in our readers. Again, you can check this out on the show notes.

The title of the post was very simply The 19 Most Popular Compact System And Mirrorless Cameras With Our Readers. I could quite easily have just put the link in the Facebook but in addition to that, I also added a question. When I put the link in the Facebook, Facebook automatically pulled in the title. It automatically pulled in the picture from the post. There’s also an opportunity to add a little bit extra into your Facebook update. Before I schedule it, I added the question, “Do you use one of these popular compact system cameras?” Just a little question.

My goal for that post was to get people over to my blog post. By adding that question, I also got people answering the question which I think in the end helped me to get even more people to the blogpost because at this moment, as I just went and looked at it now, 23 people have answered that question which is good for us. When we share a link, we don’t tend to get a lot of comments because people either ignore it or they go and read the blog post and then they don’t leave a comment.

In this case, 23 people answered the question. That’s higher than normal for us. The post also had a higher than average reach, and I suspect because people were leaving comments, Facebook thought something is good with this, we’re going to show it more. It got a higher reach than normal, and it also got a lot of really good click through traffic to our blogpost as well. I think that’s because the question I asked, people needed to go and read the post before they could answer it. Those 23 people who left a comment, they at least went away and had a look at the cameras listed on the page so that they could answer the question.

Asking questions in link posts can work. Sometimes, I will make the title that I use on Facebook to a link post a question rather than the actual title of the blog post, you can change it. Asking questions can actually just give your normal post on Facebook a bit of a boost as well.

There are the types of questions that I think you could be asking on your Facebook page. Hopefully by now, you’ve already asked one of them. You could’ve done the fill in the blank post question. You could’ve done a this or that type question. You could’ve done a reader question, you might’ve done a question to unearth the problems, challenges, obstacles and fears of your readers. You could ask a question to unearth their dreams, their aspirations, you could ask your readers for a tip. You could ask your readers a question that is about making them accountable. You could ask them a question as a part of a link post that you’re doing as well. The key is to get in the habit of asking questions and to mix it up.

I’ve got a few other really quick tips when it comes to asking questions.

Number one, I think it’s really important as I said earlier to make your questions relate to your topic. You may be able to get some engagement by doing off topic questions from time to time and that might be okay from time to time, but if you do that regularly, your readers are going to feel that your page topic has begun to dilute. Be a little bit weary of going too off topic.

Number two, consider using an image. You can ask a question and that might get seen by people but if you use an image that relates to your question, it’s just going to pop in the news feed a little bit more. People will notice that a little bit more. You might just have a plain image or you might even get an image and then put some text over the top with the question itself, that can also get a little bit more engagement.

Another alternative might be to ask the question as a video. You might actually want to do a Facebook live, we talked about that a few episodes ago, get on Facebook live and ask your readers a question. That will then appear in their feed later on after the Facebook live is open as a replay, as a video. We all know that Facebook Lives get more reach than other types of posts. Maybe try and incorporate the Facebook Live episode a couple of weeks ago with asking a question.

The fourth thing I’ll say is that timing is really important. You don’t want to ask questions when your audience are all asleep. I did this stupidly the other night, I had this question pop into my mind that I wanted to share my audience. I asked it at 3:30PM Australian time which is in the middle of the night when most of my audience are awake in America, and it’s also when my Aussie audience are picking up kids at school or about to go home from work. It was just a bad time. I know my readers aren’t online at 3:30PM.

If you’ve got a question that you want to ask, schedule it for a time when your readers are engaging with your page. It’s really important to do that.

Don’t ask too many questions would be another little tip. I think it’s important to mix up the type of post that you publish. Share some links, share some videos, share some pictures, and share some questions as well. When you mix up the types of content that you share, Facebook seems to reward that.

Be responsive, as responsive as you can on your Facebook page. When people respond with an answer to a question that you have, it’s really nice if they then get a response from you. They’ve taken the time to respond to you, take some time to respond to them. You need to be the community that you want to have. If you want engagement, you need to be engaging with your posts.

Another really quick tip is to ask timely questions. If something big is happening, whether it be a holiday, an event that’s relevant to your industry, maybe it’s an event like the Oscars which just happened. If you can find a relevant way to ask a question about that timely event, it can really help. For starters, it’s on the top of mind of your audience and so they may have already been thinking about that and be more likely to want to talk about it. It also can work in Facebook as well. Facebook has trending topics. If you use words that are trending at a time, Facebook might share that a little bit more often as well.

The last thing I’ll say is you’d be really careful about how open ended your questions are. You can ask really open ended questions but I find I get much better responses if I’m specific with my question, if I’m narrow-ish and have focus with my question. That’s why I think fill in the blank questions do quite well because they’re very narrow, you’re just looking for one word and you’re nominating the topic. If you’re too open ended, sometimes the response tend to be a bit wishy washy or people don’t know how to respond as well. You want to make it easy for people to respond to your questions, at least as easy as possible.

I hope that somewhere in the midst of today’s show, there are some questions that you can ask on your Facebook page. Again, these are the types of things you could also be asking in a Facebook group, LinkedIn group, pretty much any type of social media. Or, even on your blog. You may actually want to try doing some blog posts that are centered around questions as well. This is again a big thing that I get asked a lot by bloggers, how do I get people to leave a comment on my blog post? One of the best things you can do is to learn to ask good questions.

I’m sure as I’ve gone through this that some of you are thinking, “He didn’t mention this one,” or that, if you’ve got another type of question that you’d like to ask, I would love to hear what that is in today’s show notes. You can go to problogger.com/podcast/183 and tell us about the types of questions that you like to ask.

I’m also really interested if any of you, during the listening of this podcast, went to your page and asked a question. If you did, congratulations, I would love to know what that question was.

You might even want to leave a link on the comments on the show notes today as well to that question. You can also leave comments in our Facebook group, just search on ProBlogger for the ProBlogger Podcast Listeners group, there’s 2,500 people in there who do discuss each episode and who do a few challenges together as well.

Thanks for listening today, I’ll chat with you next week on the ProBlogger Podcast.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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The post 183: 9 Types of Questions to Ask On Your FaceBook Page to Get More Comments appeared first on ProBlogger Podcast.


     Related Stories180: 7 Types of Facebook Live Videos that Grow Your Audience, Build Your Brand and Make MoneyPB177: How to Build Traffic and Momentum on Your Blog After a Blogging Slump 


Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/ProbloggerHelpingBloggersEarnMoney/~3/2Lvzovm0DPY/problogger

Strategies to Increase Your Blog Earnings

In today’s lesson, I want to talk about two things I’ve been doing on my main blog to increase the profitability of the blog — both have been working really well!

I’m going to talk about 3 income streams in particular — AdSense Ad network (although this will be relevant to other networks too), Affiliate promotions and selling our own products.

So if you want to increase the profitability of your blog — this show is for you.

Further Resources on 2 Blog Monetization Strategies that Have Increased My Blogs Earnings by over 40%

AdSense New Ad Placement Guidelines
Facebook Group

UPDATE: it’s been a couple of weeks since I made some of the changes mentioned in this episode and we’ve now completed some of the extra AdSense tweaks to ads shown to those on desktops. The results have been better than expected. While I talk in this episode about 40-50% increases in earnings my AdSense earnings are over 100% higher than last month.

In fact here’s a graph of my weekly AdSense earnings over the last 12 months. You can see there’s natural variation week to week but since making the changes we’ve seen two great weeks of increased earnings.

Full Transcript
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Hi there! It’s Darren from ProBlogger here. Welcome to episode 184 of the Problogger Podcast.

My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, which is a blog, a podcast, an event, a job board, a series of ebooks and numerous other things all designed to help you as a blogger to start a blog, to create great content that’s going to change the world in some way and make your audience’s lives better and build that audience to the point where you are able to make a profit from your blog.

You can learn more about ProBlogger over at Problogger.com.

In today’s lesson, I want to get a little bit personal. I want to talk about some other things I’ve been doing over the last month or so to increase my blog’s income. To increase the profitability, particularly of my main blog, Digital Photography School. In particular, I want to share with you two different strategies that I’ve been working on with my team there that have worked well.

I am actually going to talk a little bit about three different income streams. One of them is AdSense, the Google’s Advertising Network. Although what I’ll share will probably be relevant for other advertising networks too.

I want to talk a little bit about affiliate promotions and also selling our own products. If you monetize your blog in any of those ways, today’s episode will be relevant for you.

“What are you doing on your blog this year that you’ve never done before?” That was the question that I asked in the ProBlogger podcast listener’s group on Facebook this week. The responses that you, as a community, shared with me were fascinating. The reason I asked that question is that I’ve become more and more convinced lately that many of us as bloggers fall into patterns and habits as bloggers that can limit what we achieve.

One of the things I strongly believe and I’ve always believed this but I need to relearn it again recently, is that if we want success with our blogs, we need to be willing to do new things, to experiment. If we want to increase traffic on our blogs, we need to promote our blogs in new ways. We need to let that evolve. If we want to build income on our blogs, we need to constantly be trying new things in that area too.

You’ve probably heard the definition of insanity that often gets attributed to Albert Einstein. He was said to have said the definition of insanity is, “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” I’ve heard that quote attributed to numerous people but whoever said it, smart person because there’s truth there. If you want to experience new, good things in our lives, we need to be willing to step outside of our comfort zones and live in new ways. To live our lives exactly the same way year after year and expect new things to happen to us? There’s really not much sense in that.

The same is true for our blogging. Anyone who’s been blogging for awhile now will know that it’s very easy to fall into patterns and rhythms and habits of doing things on our blogs that are just the same year after year after year. It’s very easy to almost see what we’ve built as machines, as something that we need to continually feed and we’ve always done it that way so we’ll continue to do it that way. As a result, even though some of those habits start out for good reasons, we can end up seeing our blogs, our business plateau or even slump.

To be honest with you, last year that’s what happened to me. The realization at the end of last year as I looked at the stats of my blog in terms of traffic but also in terms of profit, that perhaps I become a little bit complacent. Perhaps I had allowed some of the patterns that I built into my blogging to stagnate a little bit and I’d become a little bit lazy in my approach to blogging. Particularly, that was the case in how I monetize my main blog, Digital Photography School.

Since 2009, I’ve monetized Digital Photography School with three main income streams. Previous to 2009, my income had largely been about AdSense, that’s continued. That’s the number one income stream on the site. Not in terms of size. It’s not the largest but it’s been a consistent good part of the income of Digital Photography School.

Another area is affiliate promotions, we tend to promote ebooks and courses and memberships of other people and take an affiliate commission.

The third way we monetize DPS is through our own products. Initially through ebooks, some courses that we’ve developed and also some Lightroom Plugins, some software.

We have these three income streams on the blog. I’m a little bit complacent in each of these areas. Whilst I’ve always believed that we need to need to constantly be experimenting and I talk about that on the podcast all the time, in terms of monetization, I hadn’t done much experimenting, I hadn’t changed things out for quite a while particularly with the AdSense Ads.

AdSense, if you’ve ever done AdSense on your blog, you know that you put a bit of code into your sidebar, you might test it a bit in the early days but then it’s a set and forget type thing. it’s very easy to just allow it to sit there on your site. It seems almost like passive income but unless you tweak it, unless you’re willing to experiment with new things, you can see diminishing returns on it.

In all of these areas, I kind of become a little bit complacent. At the end of last year, I looked at the stats of how much the site had earned and whilst it had been a really good year, profitable year, a year that had paid for our mortgage and enabled us to take holidays and all that type of thing and we had a profit, it was a lower profit than the previous years. There were a numbers of factors at play but one of the main reasons that I identified for this small slump in our income was that I become complacent and I realized that it was time to shake things up on Digital Photography School a little bit and to try some new things particularly with monetization.

The year before, I’ve shaken thing up quite a bit in terms of driving new traffic to the sites and we did some SEO on the site, we’d really shaken things up in terms of getting more email subscribers. I’ve become a little bit complacent on monetization. There’s been a number of things that I’ve been working on this year on Digital Photography School.

Today, I want to share with you two of them because I think they cover most scenarios in our listenership. Most of our readers are monetizing through launching their own products or doing affiliate promotions or running ads on their site. I want to give you two things that I’ve done that relate to those.

The first thing that I want to talk about is the way we’ve been doing our launches over the last couple of months on Digital Photography School. Since 2009, we’ve done periodical launches on Digital Photography School and those launches have largely been about our own products. Every time we create a new an ebook, we do a launch. Every time we create a course, we do a launch. But also when we promote someone else’s product, we will do a launch as well.

Typically since 2009, our launches have usually gone for 3-5 weeks with our launches. Ever since about 2010, we’ve had this pattern of our launch. The pattern really worked well in the early years and it’s continued to work okay but the first thing that we’ve done to shake things up this year is to shorten our launches.

We’d been doing 3-5 weeks for our launch. Typically our launch in previous years had gone like this: we would send out a big email to our full list on the day the product launched. We would usually do discounts at 30%, 40%, 50% discount for early birds, we might sometimes add in a bonus, we might sometimes run a competition as well. And then for the next 3-5 weeks, depending on how long we had in our calendar, we would send out one email per week and then in the last week, right at the end of the week, we would send out a last chance email. That had worked quite well for us.

We weren’t emailing everyday, we were emailing once a week and each of the emails had a different flavor to it. One of our emails would announce the product, we’d do another email that was a testimonial type email once we start to get some feedback from other people who’d bought it. We might do an email that talked more about the benefits of the product, we might do an email that promoted a guest post from the author of the ebook. We might do an email that was a last chance type email towards the end of the campaign as well.

Each one of the email are a different flavor. We would typically do a blog post at the start, we would do a number of social media updates throughout those five weeks as well. It was long, it was spread out, we were trying not to annoy our readers too much with lots of emails too quickly.

One of the things we’ve been trying this year is different types of launches. We’ve really tried to shorten our launch period. This is for a number of reasons. One, it means that we’re able to get a launch from start to finish over and done much quicker which is less work for our team. It doesn’t tend to drag on. One of the things we heard from our readers was you aren’t emailing us too often. It’s only once a week but it’s five weeks of hearing the same thing over and over again. We’ve decided to shorten our launches for those main reasons and to see how it went.

The first launch we did this year was for a course that we had on Night Photography. We launched it on the 31st of January and it was all over by the 14th or the 15th of February. It was just over two weeks and one day. In that time, we ended up sending four emails. We ended up sending as many emails but we really shortened the space of that.

In the first email, we said, this process is only going to last two weeks so we built that urgency right from the start. In previous launches, we would build that urgency towards the end of the launch and it really worked a lot better. We still did very similar types of social media updates, there were less of them because it was over two weeks but there was a little bit more urgency in them as well. We also built into our launch this year a ticker, a counter with a countdown for how long the launch had to go so people could see how long that process is going to last. That was both on the sales page but also on the rest of the site. We have a bar that would appear at the bottom of the site that was counting down, so anyone arriving on the site would see that something was happening as well. That probably helped quite a bit as well. But definitely making a short launch worked well.

The other type of launch that we’ve done since, we did this a couple of weeks ago now, was an affiliate launch. This launch went for five days. It was even shorter again. Five-day launch and it was a bundle of products, photography based products that we promoted that someone else had put together. I was nervous about it being a five-day launch, a five-day campaign because we typically, we’re going five weeks and then we’ve done a two week one and we’re like oh, this is the jackpot, this has worked very well but how’s five days going to work? But we had no say in that, the partner that we were working with, that’s what they were doing so we promoted it for a five-day launch.

There were a number of reasons why that particular promotion did really well. For one, it was a great product, it was $4,000 worth of products for less than $100, so it was a big discount but I think it being a short launch worked really well as well. We sent out a number of emails over those five days. Again, I was nervous about that, sending so many emails in such a short period of time. Was it going to annoy our readers? And I’m sure it did for some of our readers but we were amazed how few unsubscribes we got from that particular campaign over those five days. Again, that one worked really well.

Short, sharp launches is a new strategy that we’ve been trialing. We’ve so for done a two-week launch and a five-day launch. We will probably do some other experiments with different lengths of launches as well. But I will say, so far, the signs are really good and it’s now, as I record this of the 8th of March, my wedding anniversary, my mom’s birthday. Happy anniversary Dawn and happy, happy birthday, Mom. But it’s been the best start of the year that we’ve had for many years. In fact, it may be the best part of the year ever we’ve had in terms of affiliate income and income from our own products as well.

If you’ve been playing around with different types of launches, change things up, see how they go. Try something shorter and sharper and more intense. If you’ve been doing short, sharp ones maybe you want to try something that’s longer. I’m not saying that short is the only way, I’m saying experiment with it.

The other reason I think it works to change things up is that your audience can become aware of the pattern of your launch as well. The reason I know that is that occasionally I’ll get an email from one of our readers saying I know you usually add in a prize or usually these launches go for a few weeks, do I have enough time up my sleeve to make this decision? Whilst there’s probably some positives if your reader’s beginning to know what your rhythm is, I actually think there could be a bit of complacency as well and maybe your audience can become a little bit blind to the techniques that you’re using. Change things up. See what works. Try some new graphics on your screen. Try some new social media strategies as well during your launches, you might just find that you unlock something that really works well.

One of the things that we’ve been trying in addition to shorter launch is sending in a very last minute email as well. We’ve been sending out an email as the last email in our campaign saying you’ve got four hours left in this campaign. Again, I was nervous in doing a four hours to go type email because I’m like what if someone gets it six hours after we send that email and the launch is already over? But that email in both of these last week campaigns that we’ve done has generated more sales than any of the other emails in our campaign as well. Last minute emails can really work very well. For us, in both times that we’ve used it, it’s been a very short email, it’s always been like a courtesy type email, just didn’t want you to miss out on this, there’s four hours left, check it out here. That’s what worked really well for us as well.

That’s the number one strategy. Play with different types of launches and reinvent your launch sequence. Don’t become complacent. You’ll learn so much by trying new things.

Number one, reinvent your launch sequence. Number two is about our AdSense. I did an AdSense order on the site. One of the things I realized with AdSense is that I really haven’t played around with new types of positioning for ads for quite a long time. I think we redesigned Digital Photography School about three years ago now and that was the last time that we changed anything with our AdSense account. That’s a long time, that’s ridiculously a long amount of time. I should have been tweaking and playing with that for quite some time.

The reason I hadn’t been playing with it is that AdSense isn’t our biggest income stream. It’s been something I’ve used since 2004, and it’s done really well for us over that time and it’s just a slow burner but I really hadn’t changed things for about three years and so I decided that we needed to do a bit of a review of that and we really dug into our stats, worked out what type of ads were working well for us. It’s really clear from our site that 300 x 250 pixel ads are working really well for us. The ads that work best for us are ads that we put inside the content so we actually put an ad in the middle of an article, they are the ones that work best for us because they are the ones that people are seeing as they’re reading the content.

Ads over in your sidebar or up in your header, they will work, they’re worth having on your site but the ones in your content worked much better. What I realized is that there are few things that I could do to really change things up in terms of the ads on our site.

Firstly I decided to look out what was happening in our mobile theme. We’ve got a responsive design of Digital Photography School. The way we set it up is that we had 2-3 ads on any page for mobile. If you are viewing Digital Photography School on your mobile phone, you scroll through one of our typical articles. You might see two ads, you might see three. That was how things were set up. That was partly because AdSense used to have a limit on how many ads you could show on a page. I think their limit was three up until August last year. I’d heard that they changed their policy but I didn’t do anything about it. That was a bit crazy. I should’ve done something about it.

The new policy is that you can have as many ads as you want on your page except that they do say you do want to have more content than ads which is probably really wise not only from their perspective but also your users. You don’t want to overwhelm your users with too many ads, so you can change things up.

One of the things that we have done in terms of our ads for mobile, and this is really what we’ve been working on so far is adding more units per page, particularly adding more units into the content itself. Previously, we had two ads in our sidebar which came in underneath the content on mobile and we only have ever had one ad in the content itself for mobile. A lot of the articles on Digital Photography School are 2,000 worth articles. We only really have one ad in the article itself, so we realized that those longer articles we could be inserting more ads in. We’ve got some rules now on our site the way we’re displaying our ads, we’ve built it in, coded it into our system that if the article is over 500 words, we’ll add two ads in. If the article is over 1000 words, we’ll add three ads in. If the articles are really longer like a 3000 word article, we’ll add in four ads.

Depending on the size of the content, you’ll see different amounts of ads. We’ve got some rules in there about them not appearing too close to each other so there’s always paragraphs between them. We’ve got rules in there, I think on how close they will appear to pictures because we don’t want them right budding up against the picture, we want to space them out. We’ve built some rules in on that regard and that’s taken a little bit of coding to do but it means that we are seeing more ads shown on the site which will increase the income and has increased income as well.

We’ve also pushed the ads a little bit higher on the page. One of the things that I realized in doing this order was that we had more ads right at the bottom of the page because that’s where we were showing our sidebar and not so many at the top. Of course many people won’t get to the bottom of the page and they’re scrolling on a mobile, so they weren’t seeing those bottom ads, so they weren’t earning us anything at all. We’ve been a little bit more aggressive in terms of where we show the ads on mobile as opposed to desktop as well. There’s more ads, they’re higher on the page, particularly showing different types of ads for different lengths of content as well.

How is it going for us so far? Purely by just changing the ads on your mobile we’ve increased our advertising revenue through AdSense by—it’s seven days since at the moment and each day is a little bit different but it’s between 40-50% higher every day since we launched that compared to the last few months of earnings.

The next thing that we’re going to do is a bit of an order on our desktop ads as well. And again, we are going to add in an extra ad unit per article, at least one, some of the longer article will get two extra ads and we’re going to be a little bit more aggressive with ads inside the content on the desktop as well and I’m pretty confident that we will be able to increase our revenue from advertising, hopefully another 30-40% as well.

Don’t get complacent. That’s the big lesson when it comes to monetizing today. Don’t do what you’ve always done. The reason we’ve been positioning our ads like we’ve been positioning them was because I learned some lessons years ago. Things change. AdSense has changed since years ago. There’s new types of ads that you can put on your page. There’s new policies constantly being added so you can tweak your approach. That’s the key lesson here, when it comes to your launches again tweak and you will see lots of new things as well.

Let me give you one little last thing that we’re going to be trying in the coming month or so in Digital Photography School. We’ve decided to add in a new type of promotion on Digital Photography School and this is a promotion of our own products, our own ebooks and courses. We’ve decided to do what we’re calling pop-up sales. These will be sales that appear on the blog itself. We’re not going to send an email because we’re already sending a lot of emails through the year and we don’t want to continually bombard our list with email after email but we’re going to promote these sales of our products throughout the year.

Every month for the rest of the year, we’re going to nominate one of our ebooks or one of our courses or bundle of our courses and ebooks together that we’re going to do a pop-up sale. The pop-up sales will last between 24 hours and 48 hours so they’ll be really quick shop sales. We’re promoting them with a blog post or we’re promoting them with a hello bar with a timer in it like we did in our recent longer launches. Also, we’ll be doing some social media around that as well. The idea here is to bring a bit of attention to one of the many products that we have sitting in our store. We find that typically on every day, we might sell one of a certain ebook. Over a month, we might sell 30 of each of our ebooks, which is great. That’s a nice little bubbling income that comes along but I guess the question is how could we shine a little bit more light on those products to sit there, to increase the long tail income from those as well.

Those pop-up sales, we’ll test some different percentage of type deals, or test some different bundles of products as well. It’s really just to try and increase some of that. I don’t expect that those pop-up sales are going to bring in a massive amount of income like if we send out several emails, but I’ll be very interested to see what we can generate in terms of those just to bring out a little bit of the income from day to day as well.

There are couple of things we’ve been trying on Digital Photography School. There’s a lot more going on behind the scenes as well that I’ll continue to report back to you on but I’d love to hear what you are trying. To answer that question, you might actually want to go join the group and find that question that I asked, what are you doing this year in your blogging that you’ve not done before? If the answer is nothing, can I encourage you to come out with something? If you want to achieve results that you’ve never had before, you need to be willing to do things you’ve never done before on your blog. This really relates to monetization but also relates to driving traffic, it also relates to the content that you’re producing as well, the ways that you’re engaging with your audience. What are you doing this year in your blogging that you’ve never done before? Answer that question over in the ProBlogger Podcast Listeners Group on Facebook or on today’s show notes at ProBlogger.com/podcast/184.

Thanks for listening. Head over to the show notes where I’ll have some further reading for you as well.

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The post 184: 2 Blog Monetization Strategies that Have Increased My Blogs Earnings by over 40% appeared first on ProBlogger Podcast.


     Related Stories185: How to Get a Blogging Job 


185: How to Get a Blogging Job

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/ProbloggerHelpingBloggersEarnMoney/~3/Q7-DWk3yjiA/problogger

How to Apply for a Blogging Job

In today’s lesson, I want to talk about finding a job as a blogger — particularly how to apply for a blogging job.

Back in 2006 I noticed I started getting a lot of two types of emails:

People wanting to hire bloggers would email me asking if I knew anyone suitable for a blogging job that they had.
Bloggers would email asking if I knew anyone looking to hire a blogger.

After months of getting these kinds of emails and manually playing matchmaker I decided it would be easier if I just created a place for people to meet one another.

I started the ProBlogger job board where those looking to hire bloggers could advertise their blogging job opportunities and bloggers could apply for the jobs.

While it started slow with just a new job every few days — since 2006 we’ve had well over 10,000 jobs listed!

These days there’s usually 1-5 new jobs listed on the boards — with some days as many as 10 new ones going up.

Late last year we redesigned the job board and added some new categories. Now you can not only advertise to find a writer but there’s the ability to find people to work as editors/proofreaders, ghostwriters, promoters/marketers, copywriters and more.

I use the job board to advertise for writers on my own photography blog several times a year and we always find great candidates but every time we do it highlights to me that some people could do with some help in putting their application together.

So in today’s episode I want to give you some tips for applying for a blogging job.

If you’re looking for work at the moment — this is the episode for you.

Further Resources on How to Get a Blogging Job

Job Board
RSS Feed for the Job Board
Facebook Group

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Hi there and welcome to episode 185 of the ProBlogger podcast.

My name is Darren Rowse and I am the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast, event, job board and a series of ebooks all designed to help you as a blogger to start your blog, to grow your audience, to create great content, engage with that audience and hopefully make some money from your blog as well.

You can learn more about ProBlogger and all we do over at problogger.com. Just look at the menu at the top and you’ll find all of the different things I’ve just mentioned.

In today’s lesson, I want to talk about finding a job as a blogger, particularly how to apply for a blogging job. Back in 2006, I noticed I started getting two types of questions quite regularly from readers of ProBlogger. Firstly, there was one group of bloggers who wanted to hire someone to work for them. Either as a writer, an editor or in some other aspect of their business and these people would email me and go, do you know anyone who’s suitable for this type of job?

The second type of email were from people looking for work. People saying I want a part time job, I’m building my blog, I need to pick up some other work. Do you know anyone wanting to hire someone like me? I realized I was good at playing the matchmaker and I used to try and match people up and look through the emails I was getting from people wanting to hire and try and match them up with a people looking to be hired but it was a bit of a clunky process. I decided it would be a lot easier if I just created a place where people could meet one another.

I started the ProBlogger Job Board. This is a place where people looking to hire bloggers could advertise their jobs and people looking for work could apply for those jobs. It started in 2006, I can’t remember exactly when in the year but it started very slowly. I remember going to a few of my friend’s and saying, hey, do you want to advertise for free on it? Just to get some jobs out there and I think it launched with five or six different jobs. Every few days someone else would advertise on it.

Since that time, it’s grown and the demand for people looking to hire writers and bloggers for different aspects of their business has grown. Since 2006, we’ve had well over 10,000 jobs listed on that job board. Over 10 years now, we’ve had about 1,000 jobs per year on average, although it has escalated. These days, typically, there’s at least one new job advertised every day. Sometimes as many as five or six. I think our record was 12 jobs in one day listed. As I just looked at it now, there’s over 100 jobs listed on the job board right now, four whole pages worth of them.

Late last year we redesigned the job board and added some new categories. Now you can not only advertise if you want to find a writer but you can also advertise for editors, proofreaders, ghostwriters, copywriters, even people to help you promote your blog. There’s a number of different categories that you can advertise there for.

If you are looking for work at the moment, as a blogger, you want to supplement your income in some way, there’s a variety of different types of jobs being advertised there. Most of them are writing related but we’re increasingly seeing people looking for editors and other types of content creators as well.

I use the job board to advertise for writers from my own Photography Blogs several times a year. One of the things I noticed is that we get quite a few applications, last time we advertised we had 60 people apply but quite a few of the applications really didn’t themselves any favors. I’ve realized every time I advertise that a lot of bloggers are applying for jobs in ways that really don’t help them to get the jobs.

In today’s episode, I want to give you some tips for applying for a job on the ProBlogger job board or another job board as well. If you are looking for work at the moment, as a blogger or in some related field, this episode is for you.

I’ve got today’s show notes over at problogger.com/podcast/185 where I’ll link to the job board and also give you some further reading as well.

First thing I want to say is that if you are looking for the job board, head over to problogger.com/ jobs. It’s pretty simple to remember, problogger.com/jobs and you’ll find the job board. You’ll see on the front page there are some featured jobs, advertisers who pay a little bit extra to have their job featured for the whole month at the top. If you scroll through the pages, there are three or four different pages with 30 or so jobs per page there. You’ll see there are some fascinating jobs listed there from time to time.

That’s the first thing I’ll say, head over to the job board and have a look at what is being advertised there. I’ve got 11 things for you to keep in mind as you’re putting together your application.

First thing is to act quickly. The jobs on the job boards do go quickly and we regularly see advertisers put a job up and within 24 hours they take the job down because they’ve already filled the job. You’ll see there’s three or four pages where the jobs in there. There’s also been other jobs advertised in the last month that are no longer there.

I do encourage you to act quickly. You don’t want to rush the process, you don’t want to apply with a half organized application, you want to actually put together something of quality but you do need to act reasonably quickly. Even 24 hours is a long time in blogging land. If you see an opportunity, put aside some time to act fairly quickly.

There are a number of things that you can do to make sure you see the jobs quickly as soon as they’re advertised. Firstly, you use RSS feeds and you have an RSS feed reader. We have an RSS feed, you can follow that that into your feed reader and see the jobs as they come up.

Secondly, there’s also a feature in the sidebar on the job board. If you go to the job board now, if you’re looking at a desktop, you’ll see in the sidebar. If you are in a mobile, you might need to scroll down a little bit to see it. There’s an opportunity there for you to setup an email alert. You can add in your email address and you can add in a keyword as well if you want to filter the jobs.

If you only want to find food blogging jobs, if you write about food, you might want to put in the word food there and it will only send you an email if the job is listed that uses the word food in the job. Or if you’re a travel blogger, you might want to just put in the word travel. If you’re interested in lots of categories, you can leave the keyword field empty and we will email you once a day with all the new jobs. I actually subscribe to that just to see the new jobs that come up and the email comes through once a day and you get a digest of the new jobs. That’s one way to be alerted via email when the new jobs go up.

Lastly, you can also follow the ProBlogger Twitter account because every new job gets tweeted out once as well. You want to see all the jobs there unless you’re sitting there and looking everyday on Twitter but that might be another place as well.

The other thing to say is that jobs stay listed for 30 days. We do encourage anyone who advertises on the job board to close the job down when they hire someone but not all advertisers do this. You will see some of the older jobs on the job board may already be filled. You probably get better luck at high hit rate if you do apply for the newer jobs, but sometimes in those archives, sometimes advertisers are looking for something very niche-y or something very specific and they’ll keep the job open for the whole 30 days as well. Do dig into the archives. If you see something that’s a perfect fit for you, just send them an email and see whether it is still open.

Number two is to follow the instructions in the job, it’s amazing when I’ve advertised for people on Digital Photography School when I’ve advertised for writers, we ask for some specific things in the application. We ask for examples of their work, we ask them not to send in full resumes, we ask them to do some specific things. It’s amazing how many people obviously do not read the job and don’t follow the instructions. If you are applying for a job and it’s been asked for you to supply some examples of your work or not to do something and you don’t follow those instructions, it’s a signal to an advertiser that you are someone who doesn’t pay attention to detail. Carefully read the job and follow the instructions. I shouldn’t really have to say it but it’s amazing how many people don’t do that.

Number three tip is to sell yourself. It’s amazing, when I look through the applications that come in for jobs that we’ve put up on the job board, how many people who sell themselves short and I understand this on some levels. I’ve got a bit of an inferiority complex myself and I find it hard to sell myself but you really need to put your best foot forward. As with any job, you’ve got to give people a reason to hire you. List some reasons why you would be good for the job, talk about your experience, talk about your knowledge of the topic, talk about your passion for communication, your passion for the topic. The way you work with others, the skills that you have, all of these things are going to help you be noticed. You don’t have to hype yourself up, you don’t have to sell yourself as something that you’re not but put your best foot forward. If you need some help with that, find a friend, find a colleague, find someone who can help you to put words to those skills and might help to sell you.

Number four is to write your application well. This is one of those ones I’m amazed that people don’t proofread their applications. Blogging, you’re applying for a job, that is a largely written medium in most cases and your written application gives your prospective employer a hint as to how well you’re going to do your job. See your application as an audition for the job. If you put forward an application that’s well written, that is spell checked, that’s well structured, that demonstrates that you know grammar, then you’re going to do yourself a lot of favors. Proofread your application. Really important. If possible, find someone else to proofread it for you because they’ll pick up mistakes that you will miss. It’s really important to put your best foot forward in that regard.

Tip number five is to give examples of your work. Most of the jobs that you see listed on the job board do ask for this and they ask for it in different ways. Sometimes they ask for links for articles that you’ve published somewhere else, whether that being on your own blog or on other line article sites in different ways. Some people actually want you to send them a document or send them a PDF. Have a look at what they’re asking for, you may need to do a little bit of work to get it into the right format but it’s really important that you do put forward some examples of what you’ve done.

There’s a number of things to consider when you think about what pieces you want to show them. They sometimes will ask for something very specific but in many cases just give us some example of your works. Include links to your blog. It’s really good if you can show them that you are a blogger already, share links to that. You want to choose to show them content that relates to the topic, if possible. If it’s a travel writing blog and you’ve never written a blog post about travel, you might want to go and quickly write a post for your own blog on travel to show them that you can write on that particular topic.

You want to actually show them the style as well and sometimes it can be worthwhile going and having a look at the advertiser’s blog or their website to find out what style of content they produce. Some people write in a more conversational style, sometimes people want a more formal style. Go and have a look at their blog, try and understand who their reader is, what style of content works well in that site and then show them examples that they could imagine seeing that topic content on their sites. You really want to do some research.

Pick examples that are relevant to the topic, to the style and also maybe try and show a few different types of content that you can do. Show some examples that show your versatility in writing a different styles. You might want to show them a list post that you’ve written, you might want to show them a how to piece of content that you‘ve written, you might want to show them a humorous post that you’ve written, a story that you’ve written. Showcase that you’re not just someone who’s going to write one type of content, if that’s what they’re looking for.

Again, this will come from the ad itself. Hopefully they have said a little bit about the topic content that they want but do the research, go and have a look at their site, find out what works well. You might want to take the URL and put it into a tool like BuzzSumo, buzzsumo.com and see what has done well on their site in the past. BuzzSumo will show you what on their site has been shared the most; that will give you some hints as to the type of content that they might want to be producing.

If in doubt, you can always email them in many cases as well. If there’s not enough information in the ad, you can actually email them and say, “I’m putting together my application, I’d love to know a little bit more about the style of content that you want.” Going back and asking some questions may be something that can help you to shape your application in some ways.

Tip number six is to be concise. Advertisers that I talk to on the ProBlogger job board are telling me that they are getting quite a few applications. Last time we advertised, we had 60 or so different applications for a job that we were advertising, they’ve got to get through a lot of applications and if they see an application that is really long, it’s a bit of a signal to them that there is going to be a fair bit of work involved here. You want to be concise, you don’t want to be too brief, you want to include everything that they ask for but don’t overwhelm people with your application. It’s important to get that balance right.

Tip number seven. Demonstrate a knowledge of blogging. You don’t want to just demonstrate your knowledge of the topic which I’ll talk about in a moment but also show them that you understand blogging itself. Obviously they’re going to want to know that you know about your topic but if you can show them that you’re a blogger, share a link with them and that you’ve been at it for a while, if you have, that you have a professionally regularly updated blog that you regularly produce content, and you can give some examples of that, that you are familiar with tools like WordPress or other blogging tools. These types of things are signals to a prospective advertiser that you’re serious about blogging, that you’re serious about your craft, that you’ve gathered some skills already. It’s also going to help them to know that they may not have to train you as much. They don’t have to walk you through how to update a blog post because you’ve already done that on your own blog.

If you haven’t got a blog yet, get one going. Check out our five step guide to starting a blog but get one going because that’s a great resume, it’s a great portfolio for you if you do want to find this type of work. Demonstrate that you are a blogger, that you understand the tools and that you got some skills in that area.

Tip number eight is to demonstrate the knowledge on the topic itself. This is so important, probably should be in my number one tip but people don’t employ people to write on their blog if they don’t have an understanding of that particular topic. If you’ve got some experience in that area and writing about that topic, that’s really great, but if you’ve got other experiences as well. Maybe you’ve had some training in your topic, maybe you’ve delivered workshops, maybe you subscribed to other blogs. You can actually show that you are across the topic, you know what the latest trend are in that particular topic and that is going to add a lot as well.

Tip number nine. Don’t apply for every job. I’ve discovered over the last few years in my own advertising that some people do apply for every single job that comes up on the job board and this comes across in the application. But usually, it’s a copy and paste kind of application that people are sending in. The applications themselves often demonstrate that people haven’t read the ad, they don’t have any knowledge, they’re just desperate for a job. Really take the time to filter through the jobs. Find the ones that you can really be a good fit for and just apply for those and really tailor those applications. So important. Don’t apply for everything, it’s just going to annoy the advertiser.

Tip number 10. Demonstrate that you’re willing to go beyond just writing. If it is a writing job, that’s great. Demonstrate that you can write. That’s really important. Demonstrate all the things I just said but also show them how else you can add something to their blog. If you can demonstrate to an advertiser that you don’t just write well but you have experience in design, in writing for search engine optimization, that you have experience in social media, in editing, in design, in creating visual content, in creating video. Any other skill that you’ve got, just list it as other skills thing in the bottom of your application. There are other thing that I do because they will peak the interest of advertisers. That will show advertisers that maybe they’re not just getting a writer here, maybe they’re getting someone who can help with search engine optimization or maybe you could help them create some new types of content for their blog.

The other thing that I think is really important is if you have a social network already, if you’re already on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, any of these networks, include links to those, show them that you’re already networking in these areas and include that you’d be willing to promote the content you write to your own social network. This will grab people’s attention because they want new eyeballs on their content. If you’re willing to share your content with your own network, and share it with other bloggers that you know, that to them will signal new eyeballs on the content, new traffic to their site. That will be something that will hopefully get them interested.

Demonstrate in your application that you’re not just willing to write the content but you’re willing to respond to comments, that you’re willing to share the content on social media, and that you’re willing to go the extra mile to help them to build a successful blog. You’re not just there for content, you’re there for a little bit more than that.

The last tip I’ll give you is to stand out from the crowd. I’ve already mentioned a number of times that you won’t be the only person applying for this job. I don’t remember ever getting an email from an advertiser saying I didn’t get any applications or I only got a couple of applications. Most advertisers are reporting that they’re getting quite a few application, so you won’t be the only one sending your application. Think about how can I stand out from the crowd.

Hopefully you’ll stand out from the crowd by doing the things I’ve already talked about, demonstrating that you’re going to go above beyond writing, that you understand your topic, that you’re a great blogger but also think about how can you stand out with the opening line of your application, how can you show them that you are an A-list candidate because they will be going through the applications and probably getting rid of over half of the applications very quickly. You want to do something to really grab their attention.

Hopefully somewhere in those 11 tips, there are some that you can take on board as you are applying for jobs on the ProBlogger job board. Again, it is at problogger.com/jobs, that will get you to that job board. Do give it a go, check out the latest jobs that are there right now. We promote the job board to advertisers regularly so there’s always fresh jobs coming up. Make sure you subscribe to get the alerts. I think it’s really important to at least be subscribing via email or RSS and then maybe checking out the Twitter account as well.

Let us know how you go with the applications. Let us know if there are any improvements that you want on the job board as well as either as an advertiser or as someone applying for jobs as well. You can don that over on today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/185, also if you’ve got any feedback on today’s show, you can also do that in the ProBlogger podcast listeners Facebook group.

This week we went past 3,000 members of that group. Lots of activity happening in there and some really good conversation again. Do a search on Facebook for ProBlogger podcast listeners and you’ll find that group and I usually let people in who apply within 24 hours, although I will be on the road this week going to Social Media Marketing World in San Diego, and that’s the last thing I wanted to say.

If you are going to be in San Diego for Social Media Marketing World in the next week, pop on my session. I’m doing a session on the Future Of Blogging, The Changing World Of Blogging In A Social Media A`ge. I’d love it if you’d come along and check out that session and come and say hi. Love to meet you at Social Media Marketing World this particular week.

Thanks for listening today. Good luck with your applications for jobs and I look forward to chatting with you next week on the ProBlogger Podcast.

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How I Write a Blog Post — My Step-By-Step Process

Today, I want to walk you through my step by step process for writing a blog post!

I get asked about this regularly over in the ProBlogger podcast listeners Facebook group today put together some notes on the workflow I use and want to run  you through it.

Before I do — and speaking of the Facebook group — I wanted to let you know that I’ve shared some exciting news with members of that group  in the last week — particularly about an event that ProBlogger is involved in running later this year in the US.

We’ve not fully launched the event yet publically but if you’re curious about coming to an event that ProBlogger is collaborating on — head to the Facebook group and check it out.

But enough of that! — let’s get into today episode.

Further Resources on A Step-By-Step Guide to How I Write a Blog Post

How to Craft a Blog Post — 10 Crucial Points to Pause
Episode in which I talk about avatars
How to create great blog headlines
How to use mindmapping
7 Steps to Editing Blog posts

Full Transcript
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Good day, it’s Darren from ProBlogger. Welcome to Episode 186 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind ProBlogger.com, a blog, podcast, event, job board and series of ebooks all designed to help you as a blogger to start a blog, to grow that blog’s audience, to create some really useful content for that audience and to make some money from your blog.

Today, I want to walk you through my step by step process for writing a blog post. I get asked quite regularly over in the ProBlogger podcast listeners group on Facebook about my writing process. Whilst I’ve talked about different aspects of my process, various episodes of this podcast, I’ve never really gone from start to finish. Today, I want to walk you through it.

Before I do, I just did give you a little hint, that we’ve got some events coming up with ProBlogger. This year, we are planning to do an Australian event. In fact, there may be more than one, we’ll let you know a little bit more about that in the coming weeks. But we also, this year, want to do something in the US because we do have so many of our readers of ProBlogger, listeners of this podcast in the US.and speaking of the Facebook group — I wanted to let you know that I’ve shared some exciting news with members of that group  in the last week — particularly about an event that ProBlogger is involved in running later this year in the US. This year, we are planning an event in the US.

Whilst we’re not quite ready to launch details of that quite yet, I’m working with some partners on this particular event, we have let some details slip out in the Facebook group. We wanted to do a bit of a soft launch. If you’re curious about coming to an event in the US, go join the ProBlogger Podcast Listeners Facebook Group. Do a search on Facebook for ProBlogger Podcast Listeners and you will find the group. Join and you will find some details in there. By the time this episodes comes out, you may even be able to pick up an early bird ticket to that event. If you’re curious about coming to an event in the US, check out the Facebook group. If you’re in Australia or willing to come to Australia later in the year, stay tuned, we’ll let you know a little bit more about that.

But enough of all that, enough of me teasing you about events. I know I’ve been known for doing that. I want to get into today’s episode. Let’s get into talking about my writing process.

Ben over in the Facebook group today asked me this morning if I could talk a little about how I go about writing blog posts. He particularly wanted to know how I outline my posts and then how I go about ordering the writing process; when do I write headlines, introductions, and that type of thing.

I started to write back a rather long post to Ben describing what I go through. As I was writing it, I realized I’ve never really fully run through that whole process on this podcast. That’s what I want to do today. I hope it will be helpful for you. I have touched on some of the different things that I’m going to talk about in previous episodes, so I’m not going to rehash all of that today. I’ll refer you back to some of those episodes as we go along.

Let’s get into it. The first thing that I do is pretty logical, really. It’s to pick a topic. Pick something that I want the post to be about. I should say this process really does apply to creating videos on YouTube or a podcast even. I went through almost this exact process in preparing this podcast. I actually use a very similar process when I’m creating a talk as well, a presentation, a keynote presentation.

This, for me, given the type of blogs that I have is almost always about either identifying a question that one of my readers is asking that I can answer, or identifying a problem that one of my readers has that they’re trying to overcome, or identifying a task that someone is trying to complete, or identifying a goal that someone is trying to reach.

I’m a teaching blogger, I’m a how-to kind of blogger. 95% of my posts are how to content. I always start with one of those things; a question, a problem, a process, a task, or a goal that someone is trying to achieve. Generally, that defines the topic of my post. I’m coming from that perspective today as a teaching blogger, I’m sure other people would choose topics based upon other things but that’s where I’m coming from.

Number two, this is something I think is really important, I don’t see too many other people writing about this when they outline their process. Number two for me is to remind myself of my reader. I’ve kind of eluded to this in my first point, picking a topic, because almost all the posts that I write tend to come out of questions or problems or goals that my readers have. In this step, I take a moment before I write anything to try and imagine the situation of my reader. You are so much more effective in your blogging if you write with your reader in mind, if you write to your reader. I think it’s really important to pause before you write, to picture your reader.

I’ve talked in previous episodes about how I’ve got avatars or reader profiles. I think I talked about this in Episode 33, about how to develop an avatar. In this step, I go a little bit deeper and I try and write a sentence before I write anything else about who my reader is and how they look at this topic, how they view the topic that I’m talking about, the perspective that they might have on this topic.

If I’m writing about a problem, why do they have that problem? Why does my typical reader have that problem? How do they feel about that problem? What have they previously tried to overcome that problem? What has stopped them from solving that problem in the past? Take a few minutes to put yourself in the shoes of your reader. This might be about you going back in time to when you had that problem or when you had that question, and actually just let yourself marinate in the situation of your reader for a moment because if you write from that perspective with that person in mind, you’re going to be so much more effective in your writing. You’re going to write with empathy and you’re going to write a relevant piece of content for them. You’re not going to write a hypothetical post, you’re going to write something that’s going to solve a person’s problem.

Let me give you a really quick example. I might choose to write a post on my photography blog answering a really common question that we get quite a bit. The question we often get is, “How should I light my portraits?” That’s a typical question we get. It’s a good question, but there’s a lot of different ways that I can approach that question depending on who is asking the question. My readers, who are they? What type of gear do they have? What type of budget do they have to buy new gear? What type of experience or level are they at in their photography?

If I was doing this for my readers on Digital Photography School, I’d write a short sentence or two describing my reader. If I was doing this for DPS readers, I might identify that a lot of our readers are just starting out with photography, they’re beginners. Their perspective, their viewpoint of lighting a portrait is they don’t even know where to start. They may not have too much lighting gear at their fingertips, they may have one flash, they may not even have a flash, they might be just using lights around their home, they might be on a real budget.

Knowing that gives me a viewpoint to write that article from, it gives me a perspective to tackle, it gives me a real understanding of who might be reading their article. I’m not going to write an article about how to light a portrait with professional photography gear in this case, I’m going to write something from the perspective of someone just starting out. Think about your reader, think about the situation they’re in, the feelings they have, the questions that they have around your topic. The more you can do thinking around that, the better position you’re going to be in to outline an article and to write that article with real empathy and in a relatable way.

The other thing I’m thinking about when I’m thinking about my reader is what do I want them to do after reading my article? Thinking about the call to action before you start writing anything is really important because it will shape your article, it will shape your headline, it will shape your introduction, it will shape the way you write your main part of the content, and it will shape your conclusion. Don’t just get to the end of your article and ask yourself, “What do I want my readers to do now?” Ask that question before you start writing.

Number three, create a working headline. This is something that I’ve actually changed my perspective on, I used to write the article and then write a headline. I know some people prefer to do it that way and that’s totally fine, I understand that perspective. What I like to do is spend a little bit of time taking that topic, taking that reader perspective, and trying to come up with a headline. I find that sometimes in the creating of a working headline that I find a unique angle to write the post from, particularly given the work I’ve just done on understanding my readers.

If I want to take that example a little bit further, the question I’m writing about is how do I light a portrait. I’ve done the work in understanding my reader, I understand they’re beginners, they don’t have much lighting gear. I might brainstorm headlines and come up with things like how to light a portrait using lights you find around your home. That might be something that interests that type of reader. Or, how to light a portrait when you’ve only got one flash.

They’re not really fully formed headlines yet, but they’re good enough for a working headline. I might choose one of those. Really, by coming up with a variety of those type of headlines, I actually now have an angle for my article. I might take that one how to light a portrait using the lights that you find around your home, that gives me the whole article. I can start to think about what lights do I have around the home and begin to construct that particular article. Or if I choose the one how to light a portrait with just one flash, I now have the boundaries of what that article needs to be about. For me, creating that working headline upfront sometimes just gives a little bit more tightness to what the article is about.

I will say, it’s important that this is just a working headline, it’s just a working title. I often, if not always, go back and tweak and change the headline later after I’ve written the article, or sometimes even as I’m writing the article I’m thinking about I need to change that headline a little bit.

I do talk a lot about headlines in Episode 156. If headlines is something you want to learn more about, I give you a variety of different ways to come up with a great headline for your article in that episode 156.

Number four is to brainstorm and list the main points or the main teaching of your article. I’m coming from someone who’s teaching in most of my articles. For me, it’s about trying to construct something that is going to teach people or is going to convince people of something. At this point, I’m not really writing a lot, I’m coming up more with a bullet point list, and I do this in a text document on my computer, sometimes I’ll do it on a notepad or I’m doing this in mind mapping. I did talk about that in Episode 182. I use a couple of softwares to create mind maps. Sometimes, for some of my larger articles, I like to visualize it. In many cases, it’s about doing it on a piece of paper or on a text document.

I’m trying at this point to brainstorm the answers to the questions that I’ve identified, or solutions to problems, I’m outlining the steps that a reader needs to go through to learn a new skill or master a process. I’m really trying to add the bones to the article, I’m not adding muscles, I’m not really adding much at this point. I’m just coming up with bullet points. Those bullet points will often become subheadings in my articles. I tend to almost start with a list, my articles don’t always end up as a list although sometimes they do. I find that by coming up with some main subheadings for my article for the main sections, and then beginning to come up with a few sub points for each of those sections, that’s where the article begins to form for me.

This is really the outlining process. I often start with more points than I actually end up using in the article. I’m thinking about all the possible things I could write and then I begin to call it down and come up with the main things that I want to say, the most valuable things.

I don’t get too precious about how many points I’m going to make, I know some bloggers only create lists of seven things. I don’t do that, I use as many points in my articles as I think are useful and I try and make it the best article I can. Some of my articles and podcasts have one point, sometimes it’s most effective if you’ve just got one big idea, and sometimes I have up to 20 or 30. I think I had a podcast recently with 21 points in it.

It’s about trying to come up with what you’re going to say, outline that in a bullet point or in a mind map in some ways. You may want to write a sentence about what you’d say in each of those sections, or some sub bullet points as well.

I think it’s really important to arrange those points in the right order. This is something I think a lot of bloggers could improve their writing by just taking a moment or two to ask themselves is this the right order? Is it a logical order? Are my points building upon one another?

Most articles, it’s much more effective to put them in a logical order, in an order that builds momentum and makes sense to your readers. Spend some time on that. At this point, I’m still outlining, I try and take a bit of a critical look at the outline I’ve come up with. When I’m happy with the outline, I look at it and then I start to ask myself some hard questions. This sometimes isn’t a very nice process, but sometimes things like is this outline going to be useful? Usually, you can tell from an outline whether it’s going to be a lightweight article or whether it’s gonna be really useful. Is someone going to have a fist pump moment when they read this article, given the points you’ve come up with, or are they going to say that was okay? “They got me to click but it didn’t really change my life.” Is that article useful? Is it meaningful? Is it going to change someone’s life in some way?

What questions might people still be asking at the end of reading that type of article, looking at the points that you’re going to make. Will they have some questions? Make note of what those questions are. Is there something that you don’t know as the author yet about this topic that you really should know? Sometimes when we write articles, we get to the end of the article and we go, “I didn’t really know enough about that. I should’ve done some research on that.” What arguments and objections might people have about this article having a look at that outline?

I think it’s really important to ask those types of questions, be critical about the outline that you’ve come up with. Don’t just ask those questions at the end when you’ve written the whole thing. I think it’s important to ask some of those questions as you’re drafting an outline for your article. Because sometimes, at this point in the process, you realize that you need to go away and do some research, or that you need to go away and ask some questions of your own to learn more about that particular topic, or maybe at this point having asked those questions you think actually this is a bit of a weak article, I’m not going to write it.

That’s happened to me many times, I’d much rather come to that conclusion that this is not a strong article. At that point then after I’ve already written something because that’s going to take me several hours more. Ask some of those critical questions at this point. It may be that you need to go away and do some research. I try not to look at what other people have written too early in the process, I like to outline my article first, and then do some research and see what other people have written to see if there’s any other ways that I can improve it. I tend to do that later. It’s also really important to make note of who inspired you so that you can give some credit for that as well.

The other thing you might want to do, having asked some of those questions, if you realize that the article is not going to be strong enough, you may want to go away and seek some help from other people. You can seek help by reading other people’s articles, but maybe there’s someone you can do an interview with or ask some questions or even get them to write a section of your post for you. This point in the drafting of your post, it’s important to have asked those questions so that you can put in place answers to the objections people will have, that you can strengthen something that’s shaping up to be weak.

Number five is where we begin to work on the introduction. I do know that some people wait until after they’re written their article and then go back and write their introduction, in the same ways that people sometimes do that for their headline. I, again, find that for me, writing the introduction upfront is good, it helps me get into the flow as a writer. Sometimes, I find that if I’ve written an introduction, again it shapes the direction of the article and it helps me to write the rest of the article faster and more in the flow. I will say as with a headline, I will often go back and re-work an introduction later, I think it’s important to do that. I find for me writing that introduction early is good.

When you’re doing your introduction, a few things I’ll say about that. Again, as you’re writing an introduction, be really thinking about your reader and their position, the questions and the feelings that they have. I think a good introduction not only identifies the topic, which is important, but it also should empathize with the reader. It should show your reader that you understand their situation, that you understand the question they have or the problem they have and how they feel about that. I think if you can show some empathy in those first few lines, you’ll make a deeper connection with your reader and that will drive them to want to read the rest of your article. Show them that you know how they feel, that you understand their situation, rather than you’re just writing a hypothetical article on a topic.

Paint a picture also of what the benefits of them reading the rest of your article are. You might want to make a promise, you might want to say this is an outcome that you’ll have as a result of reading this article. They’re the type of things that I would put in an introduction. For me, an introduction is generally between one and three paragraphs. As I’ve said, this will get reworked later, it’s a working introduction.

Point number six is to expand your main points. With the introduction written, I then tackle each of the previously outlined points that I’ve gone through in putting that outline together. This is where I write the bulk of the article, this is where I spend a lot of time. Sometimes for me, it will take a couple hours to write a couple thousand words or a thousand words, sometimes it will take me a couple of days to really work through this depending on how hard it is and whether I’m in the flow or not of writing. Generally, what I do is take a bullet point from my outline and come up with a subheading for that part of the article. And then, I write a paragraph or two or three, or maybe a little bullet list as part of that article.

I try and stick to the outline I’ve previously come up with, but it’s not unusual for me to also be thinking of more things that I can say as I’m going. I’ll either make note of the other ideas I’m getting on a piece of paper next to me, or I might add them to the outline that I already come up with.

I also find as I’m writing articles, I get ideas for new articles. It’s often in this part of the process that I’ll be tempted as I’m writing to take a tangent. I’ve trained myself to be aware that sometimes those tangents take in the middle of an article are actually new blog posts. I think it’s really useful to have somewhere as you’re writing that you can just brain dump other ideas that you get, or other questions that you think readers might have that relate to your topic.

Really, point number six here is about expanding the main points. It’s adding meat to those bones that you’ve come up with earlier in your article. You can see here that I tend to write my articles in the order that my readers read them. For me, this is really important. I write the headline, the introduction, the main part of the article.

Point number seven is really moving onto the conclusion. The age old advice of Aristotle says, “Tell them what you’ll say,” that’s your introduction. “Then, tell them,” which is the main part of your article. “And then tell them what you just told them,” this is the conclusion. Good articles have some kind of a conclusion. For me again, I do this after I’ve written the bulk of the article. Once I know what I’ve told them, I then try and sum up my teaching in some way.

Usually for me, this is about trying to return to the problem or the question that I set out in the introduction to tackle, to remind people what I’ve tried to teach them. Give them a bit of a summary of the main points again. You’ve probably heard me do this in the podcast quite a bit. I generally go back through the points that I’ve made, put them in a nice, quick summary statement. And then, it’s important to ask your readers to take some kind of action and to go back to that thing that you identified right at the start that you want your readers to do and then ask them to do that. It’s important not to ask them to do too many things but clearly state the one thing you want them to do next. Make it very clear what you want them to do. That can really be anything. Depending on the article, it could be to do something that you’ve been just teaching them to do. Go away and try this technique I’ve just talked about, or it might be something more about leaving a comment, or telling a story, or responding and interacting with what you’ve done in some way. There’s no right call to action, it really has to flow from the goals of your blog and the goals of this particular article.

Number eight, before I do any editing, I’m looking to polish and add depth in some way. I think almost every article could be improved in some way, and not just by editing, there can be more added to it. Could you add a story? Could you add an image? Could you go and find a video on YouTube that you can embed into it? Could you create a chart that illustrates something that you’ve done? How could you make it look better and how can you make the content actually be better? Could you go away and find a quote from someone and add that particular thing in? Could you go away and do a little mini interview with someone to add in some of their ideas, with maybe an alternative viewpoint to what you’ve written. It’s really important to make your content look really good but to add depth to it as well.

Step number nine, the last one I want to talk about, is to edit and proofread. You’ve spent a lot of time by this point steering over your article but you need to take a little bit of a step back at this point and do some editing. For me, I find putting a bit of space between when I write and when I edit is really important. I think we use different parts of our brains for this more critical thinking about editing. I suggested seven steps for editing your work in Episode 168, but I do want to emphasize it’s so important to do. You waste all that energy by publishing something that’s not quite good enough and that’s got glaring mistakes in it. Do some editing, or get someone else to help you with that particular process. Build editing and proofreading into your workflow. Quality control really does matter.

To summarize that, because all good conclusions have a summary, pick your topic, number one. Number two, remind yourself of your reader, do a little bit of work about putting yourself in their shoes. Number three, create a working headline. Number four is to brainstorm and to list the main points of your article. Number five, write a working introduction. Number six, expand the main points. Number seven is write a conclusion and call to action. Number eight is to polish. I should’ve said in the polishing stage for me, that’s where I go back to my headline, I go back to my introduction, and rework those so that they’re not just working headlines, working introductions, they are the final ones. Number nine is to edit and proofread your content.

That’s my workflow. I would love to know how this differs from yours, what you would add into it. I wrote a whole series of posts on this topic quite a few years ago now on the ProBlogger blog. I’m going to link back to that because I think it’s still relevant today, I do go into more depth in each of the things that I’ve talked about. I also have another one right at the end about what to do after you’ve published your content as well.

The title of that series was actually called How To Craft A Blogpost, 10 Crucial Points To Pause. The whole idea of that series was that I think a lot of bloggers—I’ve done this myself. It’s so tempting to just bang out a blogpost, just bang out an article and hit publish and put it out there. The whole point of that series, and hopefully of this particular episode, is that I think it’s so important to take your time and to craft the content that you have. That means pausing to ask question, pausing to imagine your reader, pausing to make it better, to add depth, to polish. Crafts people don’t just bang out art, they really take their time and they add depth to it. They make it the best it can be. I think it’s important that we do that with our content.

Whatever workflow you have, I really encourage you to pause along the way to be reflective about it, to ask those questions along the way. Most importantly, to really keep coming back to who is reading that content. On the other end of that content is a human being who has needs, who has problems, who has feelings, who has a situation that they’re in, and to really spend a little bit of time throughout this whole process, to picture them, to understand them, and to write for them. It’s such an important thing. Your content will rise in quality, it will rise in relevance to people, and it will be the type of thing that people will want to share because they feel connected to you if you go to that extra effort of understanding who’s on the other side of that content. Craft your content, don’t just create it, craft it, take your time with it.

You can find today’s show notes with all the further listening that I mentioned along the way over at problogger.com/podcast/186. I hope you found this one useful, and also as I said before, check out the ProBlogger Podcast Listeners Facebook Group where we do have some details of some upcoming events, particularly an event coming up in the US. Love to connect with you and hopefully even meet you and see you there.

Thanks for listening today, I’ll chat with you in Episode 187.

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Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/seomoz/~3/aQRyNNJ5MHA/structuring-urls-for-easy-data-gathering-and-maximum-efficiency

Posted by Dom-Woodman

Imagine you work for an e-commerce company.

Wouldn’t it be useful to know the total organic sessions and conversions to all of your products? Every week?

If you have access to some analytics for an e-commerce company, try and generate that report now. Give it 5 minutes.

Done?

Or did that quick question turn out to be deceptively complicated? Did you fall into a rabbit hole of scraping and estimations?

Not being able to easily answer that question — and others like it — is costing you thousands every year.

Let’s jump back a step

Every online business, whether it’s a property portal or an e-commerce store, will likely have spent hours and hours agonizing over decisions about how their website should look, feel, and be constructed.

The biggest decision is usually this: What will we build our website with? And from there, there are hundreds of decisions, all the way down to what categories should we have on our blog?

Each of these decisions will generate future costs and opportunities, shaping how the business operates.

Somewhere in this process, a URL structure will be decided on. Hopefully it will be logical, but the context in which it’s created is different from how it ends up being used.

As a business grows, the desire for more information and better analytics grows. We hire data analysts and pay agencies thousands of dollars to go out, gather this data, and wrangle it into a useful format so that smart business decisions can be made.

It’s too late. You’ve already wasted £1000s a year.

It’s already too late; by this point, you’ve already created hours and hours of extra work for the people who have to analyze your data and thousands will be wasted.

All because no one structured the URLs with data gathering in mind.

How about an example?

Let’s go back to the problem we talked about at the start, but go through the whole story. An e-commerce company goes to an agency and asks them to get total organic sessions to all of their product pages. They want to measure performance over time.

Now this company was very diligent when they made their site. They’d read Moz and hired an SEO agency when they designed their website and so they’d read this piece of advice: products need to sit at the root. (E.g. mysite.com/white-t-shirt.)

Apparently a lot of websites read this piece of advice, because with minimal searching you can find plenty of sites whose product pages that rank do sit at the root: Appleyard Flowers, Game, Tesco Direct.

At one level it makes sense: a product might be in multiple categories (LCD & 42” TVs, for example), so you want to avoid duplicate content. Plus, if you changed the categories, you wouldn’t want to have to redirect all the products.

But from a data gathering point of view, this is awful. Why? There is now no way in Google Analytics to select all the products unless we had the foresight to set up something earlier, like a custom dimension or content grouping. There is nothing that separates the product URLs from any other URL we might have at the root.

How could our hypothetical data analyst get the data at this point?

They might have to crawl all the pages on the site so they can pick them out with an HTML footprint (a particular piece of HTML on a page that identifies the template), or get an internal list from whoever owns the data in the organization. Once they’ve got all the product URLs, they’ll then have to match this data to the Google Analytics in Excel, probably with a VLOOKUP or, if the data set is too large, a database.

Shoot. This is starting to sound quite expensive.

And of course, if you want to do this analysis regularly, that list will constantly change. The range of products being sold will change. So it will need to be a scheduled scrape or automated report. If we go the scraping route, we could do this, but crawling regularly isn’t possible with Screaming Frog. Now we’re either spending regular time on Screaming Frog or paying for a cloud crawler that you can schedule. If we go the other route, we could have a dev build us an internal automated report we can go to once we can get the resource internally.

Wow, now this is really expensive: a couple days’ worth of dev time, or a recurring job for your SEO consultant or data analyst each week.

This could’ve been a couple of clicks on a default report.

If we have the foresight to put all the products in a folder called /products/, this entire lengthy process becomes one step:

Load the landing pages report in Google Analytics and filter for URLs beginning with /product/.

Congratulations — you’ve just cut a couple days off your agency fee, saved valuable dev time, or gained the ability to fire your second data analyst because your first is now so damn efficient (sorry, second analysts).

As a data analyst or SEO consultant, you continually bump into these kinds of issues, which suck up time and turn quick tasks into endless chores.

What is unique about a URL?

For most analytics services, it’s the main piece of information you can use to identify the page. Google Analytics, Google Search Console, log files, all of these only have access to the URL most of the time and in some cases that’s all you’ll get — you can never change this.

The vast majority of site analyses requires working with templates and generalizing across groups of similar pages. You need to work with templates and you need to be able to do this by URL.

It’s crucial.

There’s a Jeff Bezos saying that’s appropriate here:

“There are two types of decisions. Type 1 decisions are not reversible, and you have to be very careful making them. Type 2 decisions are like walking through a door — if you don’t like the decision, you can always go back.”

Setting URLs is very much a Type 1 decision. As anyone in SEO knows, you really don’t want to be constantly changing URLs; it causes a lot of problems, so when they’re being set up we need to take our time.

How should you set up your URLs?

How do you pick good URL patterns?

First, let’s define a good pattern. A good pattern is something which we can use to easily select a template of URLs, ideally using contains rather than any complicated regex.

This usually means we’re talking about adding folders because they’re easiest to find with just a contains filter, i.e. /products/, /blogs/, etc.

We also want to keep things human-readable when possible, so we need to bear that in mind when choosing our folders.

So where should we add folders to our URLs?

I always ask the following two questions:

Will I need to group the pages in this template together? If a set of pages needs grouping I need to put them in the same folder, so we can identify this by URL.Are there crucial sub-groupings for this set of pages? If there are, are they mutually exclusive and how often might they change?If there are common groupings I may want to make, then I should consider putting this in the URL, unless those data groupings are liable to change.

Let’s look at a couple examples.

Firstly, back to our product example: let’s suppose we’re setting up product URLs for a fashion e-commerce store.

Will I need to group the products together? Yes, almost certainly. There clearly needs to be a way of grouping in the URL. We should put them in a /product/ folder.

Within in this template, how might I need to group these URLs together? The most plausible grouping for products is the product category. Let’s take a black midi dress.

What about putting “little black dress” or “midi” as a category? Well, are they mutually exclusive? Our dress could fit in the “little black dress” category and the “midi dress” category, so that’s probably not something we should add as a folder in the URL.

What about moving up a level and using “dress” as a category? Now that is far more suitable, if we could reasonably split all our products into:

DressesTopsSkirtsTrousersJeans

And if we were happy with having jeans and trousers separate then this might indeed be an excellent fit that would allow us to easily measure the performance of each top-level category. These also seem relatively unlikely to change and, as long as we’re happy having this type of hierarchy at the top (as opposed to, say, “season,” for example), it makes a lot of sense.

What are some common URL patterns people should use?Product pages

We’ve banged on about this enough and gone through the example above. Stick your products in a /products/ folder.

Articles

Applying the same rules we talked about to articles and two things jump out. The first is top-level categorization.

For example, adding in the following folders would allow you to easily measure the top-level performance of articles:

TravelSportsNews

You should, of course, be keeping them all in a /blog/ or /guides/ etc. folder too, because you won’t want to group just by category.

Here’s an example of all 3:

A bad blog article URL: example.com/this-is-an-article-name/A better blog article URL: example.com/blog/this-is-an-article-name/An even better blog article URL: example.com/blog/sports/this-is-an-article-name

The second, which obeys all our rules, is author groupings, which may be well-suited for editorial sites with a large number of authors that they want performance stats on.

Location grouping

Many types of websites often have category pages per location. For example:

Cars for sale in Manchester – /for-sale/vehicles/manchesterCars for sale in Birmingham. – /for-sale/vehicles/birmingham

However, there are many different levels of location granularity. For example, here are 4 different URLs, each a more specific location in the one above it (sorry to all our non-UK readers — just run with me here).

Cars for sale in Suffolk – /for-sale/vehicles/suffolkCars for sale in Ipswich – /for-sale/vehicles/ipswichCars for sale in Ipswich center – /for-sale/vehicles/ipswich-centerCars for sale on Lancaster road – /for-sale/vehicles/lancaster-road

Obviously every site will have different levels of location granularity, but a grouping often missing here is providing the level of location granularity in the URL. For example:

Cars for sale in Suffolk – /for-sale/cars/county/suffolkCars for sale in Ipswich – /for-sale/vehicles/town/ipswichCars for sale in Ipswich center – /for-sale/vehicles/area/ipswich-centerCars for sale on Lancaster road – /for-sale/vehicles/street/lancaster-road

This could even just be numbers (although this is less ideal because it breaks our second rule):

Cars for sale in Suffolk – /for-sale/vehicles/04/suffolkCars for sale in Ipswich – /for-sale/vehicles/03/ipswichCars for sale in Ipswich center – /for-sale/vehicles/02/ipswich-centerCars for sale on Lancaster road – /for-sale/vehicles/01/lancaster-road

This makes it very easy to assess and measure the performance of each layer so you can understand if it’s necessary, or if perhaps you’ve aggregated too much.

What other good (or bad) examples of this has the community come across? Let’s here it!

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YOU CAN’T TRICK WINNERS | DailyVee 188

Originally published on: http://youtu.be/2fEsCfXVjKM

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