Category Archives: Blogging

doshdosh.com

Some things are meant to be read.

Nearly a decade ago,  there was a blogger who in my opinion really was one of the first “real content marketers” who shared significant insights in the field of online marketing. His work was never rushed, gimmicky or shallow – the stuff he wrote was fantastic and attracted followers and readers throughout the blogosphere.

Sadly, sometime in 2010 he went completely offline and it seems nobody knows what became of him. In case you’ve been around the web for a while, you might have guessed that I’m talking about Maki from DoshDosh.

Maki Dosh DoshSome things are meant to be read and a lot of Maki’s work was taken offline in 2010, just after the website got hacked and ended up with copious amount of spam. Fortunately, I’ve been able to recover a lot of the good stuff, cleaned it up (mostly) and put it back online with a new domain: http://thedoshdoshfiles.com

 

Bob Jones and Problogger Darren Rowse

ProBlogger Event Review for those who couldn’t attend

Bob Jones and Problogger Darren RowseBig day today for me. The Darren Rowse road-show (ProBlogger) hit Perth and I managed to get a ticket to the event. This might sound silly for someone who has been working online for the last ten years, but this is the very first event I’ve attended. Not sure why – this stuff is awesome and I got to have some great face time with Darren himself who was kind enough to answer a few questions I had. I’ve learned a lot at the #pbevent

I’ve compiled a bunch on notes on Evernote and have reorganised them for you in this blog post.

Great crowd, awesome speaker line-up, great vibe – loads of information shared here today. Also met a load of new people who all love this industry and I’m sure I’ll be bumping in to them more on events and I’ll be sure to follow them on social media or on their blogs.

The speaker line-up was impressive with Kelly Exeter on blog design, Nicole Avery on blog scheduling and workflows, Christie Burnett on social media management and Stacey Roberts on monetising a blog.

Some fun facts of the ProBlogger event:

  • The ladies love Darren! There were 87 confirmed attendees here today and I kid you not, I was one of four guys, including Darren
  • On the way in I was listening to Pat Flynn’s SPI podcast and once I was here, during the presentation the smartpassiveincome.com website was used as a prime example of great blog design (which it really is!)
  • Nicole Avery did a 30K run at 3:45 the morning of the event. That’s THIRTY. Before SIX o’clock in the morning!
  • The event was sponsored by Olympus but their spokesperson was in hospital with his wife, having a baby
  • I’ve written a complete recap of the ProBlogger in Perth event

The event kicked off at 9:30 with Darren doing his keynote and a little bit about how he started both problogger.net and digital-photography-school.com (which is his bigger blog), very inspiring stuff and it just shows that with some thought and determination, you can be successful online with a blog.

Session one, Darren gets the show started

Darren spoke about how he got started a little since 2003, with a time line explaining some of the evolutions in money earning capacity that his sites went through. He also explained that you don’t need hundreds of thousands of readers to have a successful blog in terms of making money with it. Some examples that were given:

  1. Small concrete bench niche blog which averages 20 visits per day, makes over $100K per year by upselling his services.
  2. Photography blog with 500 visits a day makes $140K per year mainly selling a beginners ebook.
  3. Product review blog owned by a work at home mum blogger earns over $90K a year through affiliate sales, reviews and ads.
  4. Get fit blog which helps people to get started makes over $4,000 per month with an online course and coaching.

As you can see, there is money to be made as long as you find and target the right reader. If you can turn a visitor into a subscriber, they instantly become a lot more valuable to your blog. The right reader adds value to your blog community, turns into an advocate, responds well to brands you affiliate with and is more likely to buy your product.

Session two, Kelly Exeter about blog design

To attract the right reader, make sure your blog feels like home to them. Your design needs to help you complete a goal and that means you really need to put some thought into it. Your blog design should support and enhance your brand.

What is your brand? The answer to the following question: “What do other people say about you when you’re not in the room?”

Useful points to consider when designing or picking a theme for your WordPress blog:

  • Don’t get cute with your navigation – people expect certain things to be in certain areas with certain names. Don’t have a link to your blog on your navigation bar that says “stuff I say” for example. It just confuses people.
  • Try to make your blog personable by adding at least one good photo of yourself in a prominent position as readers like to connect deeper with a blogger. It helps strengthening your brand and relationship.
  • Less is more in your sidebar. The primary objective of a sidebar is to cut off your main copy so that doesn’t get too wide to read. Really focus on what you believe is nessecary to achieve the goals you’ve set for your blog.
  • Make use of high quality images – if you need your blog to stand out, invest in beautiful imegary.
  • Declutter everything! Make sure your blog is easy to read and digest. This means your font should be 16px and line spacing should be 1.5 times the your font size.

Session three, Nicole and Darren on content

This session opened my eyes in terms of where to look for ideas that can be used to write great content.

If you have a readership already, tap into it. Send out a newsletter or survey to them with several open ended questions. Nicole mentioned she’s had great success with this because it helps her to really write the specific content her readers want from her (remember the right reader stuff I mentioned above!)

To find good blogging content ideas in the wild, here’s a set of items that can help you to find it.

  • Figure out what challenges your readers face.
  • Be on the lookout for seasonal and current events
  • If you have a large topic, break it down in a big and small post. The small post is a “sneeze page” as Darren calls it, to move people deeper into your website, linking to the bigger post.
  • Do a full series of posts. ProBlogger had a “31 days to build a better blog” for example, which boosted traffic and readership.

Session four, Christie Burnett on social media

I think Christie was a little nervous getting started but once she got going and shared with us that she has 218,000 Facebook fans and 172,000 followers on Pinterest, there was no stopping her. What a social power house!

A very enjoyable slide deck with loads of animals showed us what to look for and what to do to grow a following on social media.

  1. Once you’ve set your blog’s goals, find the right reader and seek them out on their social media platform of choice.
  2. Make sure once you’ve picked your playground, you make it easy for people to see where you hang out (think sidebar!)
  3. Be consistent in posting and sharing, set a pattern people expect.
  4. Be relevant and community focussed by engaging your readers.
  5. Be ethical, don’t spam or steal other peoples stuff for a few shares.
  6. Find a tribe of like minded bloggers and help each other share content. Also see what’s working for other bloggers and reuse that content to get shares for yourself.
  7. Don’t be afraid to repost some of your stuff – a lot of people won’t have seen it yet.

Some of the scheduling tools Christie touched on were:

  • Tailwind for Pinterest content management
  • dlvr.it to help deliver and share social content
  • Buffer also is a great tool to schedule social posting
  • Schedulegram for Instagram scheduling

And finally the secret four steps to social media success that have helped Christie get to where she is now: Plan, Schedule, Track, Repeat

Session five, Nicole Avery on planning a successful blog

This was my personal favourite session as it punched all the problems I have as a blogger in the face  Nicole’s Twitter handle PlanningQueen couldn’t be more accurate. As Darren mentioned during the event, she’s a machine!

Nicole shared her insights on the 80/20 Pareto principle (just like Tim Ferriss in the four hour work week)and showed us how she used the productivity data she got from ResucueTime and cut out activities that didn’t add to the bottom line.

The main points that I took away from this session all revolve around planning and scheduling:

Why Schedule and Plan your blog content?

  • It allows for more thinking time and will help the post quality
  • It gives you more time to prepare any images, videos or other media you want to add to your posts
  • This helps you meet deadlines and have posts done on time.
  • Also helps you to get in the zone and run through several posts in one go; batch writing.
  • Increases speed of the post writing as you already know exactly what your post will be about.

When putting a schedule together, make sure you know what you’re currently using your time on, be realistic of how many hours you really have available to write, figure out what time of the day works best for your creative mind to be switched on, schedule around existing boundaries such picking up or dropping off the kids at school.

Tools (gmail based) that can help you get to a better planned and more productive day:

  • Setup labels, tags and rules in your email system.
  • Set time limits for your work (Pomodoro works really well for me)
  • Use canned responses in Gmail to quickly respond to FAQ
  • Use the Calendar to help you with recurring reminders

Finally, how do you stay focused and make the most of your time?

  • Stop multi-tasking, stat mono-tasking (Finally someone who agrees with me!)
  • Block out distractions on the computer
  • Don’t start work unless you have plan to stick to
  • Manage your information with services such as Feedly, Buffer and Evernote (which is what I used to take notes the whole day).

Session six, Stacey Roberts on making money with a blog

Stacey tried to answer one of the biggest questions of the day, how to make money with a blog. She mentioned that even on the way to Perth, in the plane someone rolled his eyes at her when she told him she’d be speaking at an event about just that. A lot of people still don’t seem to take blogging very serious (which is fine, more for the rest of us, right?)

After going through the basics, the main list of monetisation options (that I wrote down) is as follows:

  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Banner Advertising
  • Google AdSense
  • Sponsored Posts

A big one for me was to collaborate with a brand and leverage that relationship with sponsored content, giveaways and reviews. If you want to find a brand, there’s agencies that can help you blog to connect. A few mentioned were NuffNang, The Remarkables Group, Ministry of Talent and Agents of Influence. All of these have different entry levels and you’ll have to take a look to see if you can work with one of them.

Important things to remember when making money with a blog:

  • Make sure you’re passionate about what you blog about.
  • Figure out what talents you have and use them
  • Every one started small, don’t give up
  • Experiment with everything!

Whew! What a day and what a post! I hope this was useful for those of you who wanted to go but couldn’t make it. I’d appreciate it if you could share this post on your favourite social media network by the way =)

I think everyone there had a blast and I’ve heard several people opting in for the ProBlogger event in QLD later in the year. Anyone here going? Leave a comment

Baby Name Suggestions Google

Blogging For Beginners

That’s a question I have been asked several times now, so I figured I might as well write a post about it, so people can share it and I don’t have to keep repeating myself :)

Before I get started, I just want to make one thing clear; This is the way that I do/did it – and that doesn’t mean if you do things differently, that you’re doing it wrong. Everyone has got their own way of getting things done, and some are more successful than others – which is a good thing, since the Internet would be very boring if we were all equally successful.

Plan your blog strategy

Step 1. Get yourself the best possible domain name that you can get.

What do I mean by this? Well chances are that you’ve started blogging to make some money online. And you won’t make money from ads or affiliate sales, if nobody visits your blog. What you need to know is that search engines like Google will become the backbone of your little online enterprise. And therefor you will want to ‘accommodate’ those search engines as much as you possible can. If you make sure that they can find you, and know what you’re on about, they will start sending you targeted traffic for free. That’s traffic that converts!

If you buy a domain, try getting a keyword-rich name, something that relates to your blog’s topic. Try to figure what what sort of keywords and phrases (long-tail keywords) your desired audience is using to find stuff on Google. For example, if you want to start a blog about babies, try to see what most people are looking for. One of the quickest ways to do this is use the auto-suggest feature that Google offers. Just type one of the main keywords of your blog into Google, and see what gets suggested.

In the example down below, I’d probably try to get a domain name like babynamescenter.com or babyboysandgirlsnames.com – these two examples both have popular keywords in them, so there shouldn’t be a doubt for Google (or any humans) as to what your blog is about.

Baby Name Suggestions Google

A domain name is just one part of the equation. And it too has other factors involved like age, length and TLD (Top Level Domain, like .com or .net) that can influence the position of your blogs ranking in Google’s search results.

I’m not saying that getting free hosting like blogger or wordpress is a bad thing, but I prefer to not have keywords in my link that I don’t need. (Free hosts usually have their own name or address in your site’s link address).

Step 2. A list of WordPress plugins that will help your blog grow big and strong

One of the greatest features that WordPress has to offer must be their plugin system. This makes it super-easy to add new functionality to your blog, without you having to know any difficult programming and coding. You simply find the plugin which does what you want, upload it, activate it, and in some cases – configure in in your WordPress admin panel. If you’re still unfamiliar with the admin panel, have a look at these WordPress tutorial videos. Here’s a list of my all-time favourites:

1. All-in-one-SEO: The name pretty much covers it all. This plugin will help you to make your blog stand out more for Google, helping it to get indexed quicker and more accurate. Basically you can tell Google what your blog is about by adding the right keywords in the right places on your blog.

2. XML Sitemap Generator: This plugin will create a sitemap of your website, taking out all the guesswork for Google. This ensures the Google is aware of ALL the pages that your site has to offer them. Sitemap = more pages indexed.

3. AskApache Search Engine Verify: Not really a necessity plugin, but ideal for newbies and lazy people like me. This plugin makes it a breeze to verify your blog with Google webmaster tools. If you haven’t added your site there yet, stop reading this post now and GO DO IT NOW!

4. WordPress Stats: Simply because its good to collect as much data as possible regarding your traffic. You can analyse the data to see where you can improve your site. (e.g flush out the 404 pages).

5. WP Super Cache: You probably won’t have much use for this plugin when you first start out with your blog, but when you’re starting to get featured on the frontpage of sites like Digg and Reddit, you’ll be glad you have it. It helps your webserver deal with a lot of traffic, by creating static HTML pages of your content on the fly.

6. SEO Search Terms Tagging: Adds keywords that people have used to find you with in the search engines to the footer of your posts, increasing the odds that your post will get ranked even better for that particular keyword later on.

7. Google Analyticator: Like plugin #3 – This plugin makes it easy for newbies and lazy people to get your Google Analytics up and running. Remember kids, the more data you can get, the better. nomnomnom.

8. Enforce WWW Preference: This plugin simply forces your site to have or not have the WWW in front of it. You should make a choice which one of these two you’re going to use, because Google will see your the site with WWW as a different site than the address without the WWW. Change your settings now in your WordPress admin panel > Settings >General. (The plugin was retired, but it still works, so I created a copy on my server for you to download).

Random pic of Chuck Norris Because he can.

Step 3. Tagging, categories, slugs, and robots

Every post you write has the option to add tags. Basically a tag is an extra keyword you can mark your post with, to help the search engines understand better what the main topic of your post is. Use this option – but don’t go overboard. Adding 5-15 tags will do fine. You don’t want Google to think you’re keyword stuffing/spamming.

Use categories. Not just for Google, but also for your visitors. Some people that are just looking for baby names can click on the baby names category, and find all the relevant information they are after. They don’t have to browse through all the other baby related posts about baby poo, baby vomit, baby pee, and baby snots. You don’t want to put them off having a baby in the first place do you ? :)

A post slug is a little trickier; what it does is make you have your cake and let you eat it too. If you have your permalinks setup something like this “/%postname%/” – you can have a link which is titled “Blogging for beginners” but which looks like this in your addressbar: “http://bobjones.nl/how-do-you-set-up-a-blog-frm-scratch/”. This way you can optimize your URL for the search engines, and optimize your actual title for other humans.

One more important file you’ll need to create is what we call a robots.txt. This is a (or can be a) simple txt file that looks like this: my robots.txt. This file will set the rules for every search engine that visits your site. If you want the world to find you, don’t add anything to the Disallow: list, but If you have stuff to hide, add it to the disallow list. Here’s a more detailed explanation of robots.txt.

Ok, so that sums up the very basics that I feel every new blogger should start with. There are heaps of other things I would like to tell you, but I feel this post is already longer than it should have been. I’ll write a ‘part 2′ sometime soon.

Hope you’ve learned something, and I advise you to bookmark this post for future reference. And feel free to share it on twitter and such with your friends that are thinking of becoming serious bloggers!