Recently I shared a simple technique that I use to come up with ideas to write about on my blog – answering a beginner question.
While not really rocket science I had a number of readers contact me privately with thank-you messages appreciating the nudge to write that type of post.
Today I’d like to suggest another simple technique for coming up with blog post ideas. It’s simple yet is perhaps one of the most powerful types of posts I’ve used on my own blogs many times in the last 12 years.
I call these posts the ‘how I do (or did) it’ post.
How I did (or do) it
Over the years I’ve found that posts that walk people through processes of how you do things go down exceptionally well.
Giving someone the theory is good but showing them how you apply that theory takes your writing to a new level.
There are a couple of ways to do this.
How I DID It
Firstly you could walk people through how you did a one-off thing.
You could write a post on how you lost weight, or a post on how you made a dining table for your family, or how you wrote your first book, or how you overcame your fear of heights.
For example Vanessa (my wife) wrote a post on travelling to Bali with Young Kids that basically shared tips from our experience of a trip to Bali with our kids last year.
Each of these posts essentially took our experience of that trip and explained what we’d done and learned on the trip. They contain a heap of practical tips gained from real experience.
These posts have been used many many times by Vanessa’s readers who are considering similar trips.
A variation on this ‘how I did it’ post might be a ‘what I learned from it’ type post.
For example when I created and released my first eBook I wrote about 8 lessons I learned from the experience here.
How I DO It
Secondly you could walk people through how you do something that is a normal part of your life.
These are things I do regularly without really thinking about it that it turns out readers are interested in.
One of my good blogging friends – Nicole Avery – does this regularly on her blog Planning with Kids.
For example here is her family morning routine, her kids homework boxes and how she preps food for her 5 kids’ lunch boxes each week.
In each case Nicole has simply looked at her life and found a routine, system or process that works for her and has shared it on her blog.
These things might be so much a part of your day or week that you don’t even think of them any more – but you’ll often find that these are things that will help others incredibly.
Brainstorm ideas for these two types of posts.
What are some big one off things that you’ve done in your life that you could write about?
What are some things that you do regularly in your life each day or week that could actually help others? (e.g. routines, systems, processes).
Hint: pay close attention the questions that you regularly get asked from family and friends about how you do things or about the experiences that you’ve had. If people in your ‘real life’ are interested in how you do these kinds of things you can bet others online would be too.
This is a guest post by Jeff Goins of Goins, Writer.
“I’d like to be a writer,” I told my friend one day when he asked what my dream was. “But that’ll never happen.” And I quickly went back to moping around, waiting for my big break.
At the time, I was working for a nonprofit as a marketing director, secretly wondering what it might be like to write for a living. Little did I know how close I was to my goal.
My was staring me right in the face the whole time. I was just blind to it.
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer,” Harriet Tubman once said. “Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
That’s absolutely true. Your dream lives inside you, not somewhere out there. And instead of waiting for someone to come along and give you permission, you need to realize that you have everything you need to do this right now.
So let’s look at what you already have at your disposal and how I launched my own full-time blogging career using these same tools.
Secret Weapon #1: Listen to Your Ache
Have you ever felt jealous of someone else’s success? Of course you have. You’re human, aren’t you. But don’t feel bad. Envy isn’t always a bad thing, if you know how to use it.
Being jealous of what someone else has or has done is a sign of somethign you don’t have. You’re not living the life you dreamed of, not making the money you want, or simply not getting the credit you think you deserve.
Left unchecked, those feelings of missing out can get nasty really quickly. But when properly channeled, they can be a means to you discovering what you’re meant to do.
Here’s what I mean.
What bothers you that you see in the world? What problems in your industry or social ills do you see that you think should be fixed? When you see someone publishing their words or getting paid to pursue a passion, does it stir something in you? Does it make you a little angry, even a tad frustrated?
Good. Listen to that.
All dreams begin with frustration. But they don’t end there. It takes a person of action to do something with that feeling. Because really, frustration is just a surface emotion. It’s just pent-up passion with nowhere to go.
So pay attention to what makes your heart ache. When you’re feeling frustrated, remember it’s a sign of what you’re missing out on. It means you need to get to work.
Secret Weapon #2: Take the Long Road
Once on a webinar, I heard Darren Rowse say his first year of professional blogging had only made him something like $30,000. When I heard that, it sounded like a dream come true.
His intentions were to set our expectations low. He explained how hard he worked, staying up late and getting up early, how difficult it was. Not everyone can make six figures in the first month was his point. He was trying to keep us grounded. But it gave me hope.
I didn’t want fluff. I wanted someone to tell me exactly what I needed to do to pursue my dream. And for some reason, telling me it was going to be difficult and not very rewarding made it real. It made it attainable.
Sometimes, you have to hear someone else describe the life you long to live before you can begin to visualize it yourself.
Darren’s words spoke to the frustration I felt. They made me realize I was going to have to work hard if I wanted to live my dream and that patience was going to be an important factor in my success.
When I started my blog, I was determined to not worry about stats for the first two years. I would just write. The audience would come as my craft grew. If that took years, so be it. Six months later, I had more traffic than I ever could have imagined—hundreds at first, and then thousands of daily readers.
It would be a long while before I’d start making money, but still, seeing it was possible changed everything. Right around that time, my wife and I decided to start a family and began counting down the days until our son would be born.
At that same time, I started to hatch a plan for how I could make money with my blog.
Secret Weapon #3: Don’t Neglect the Past
When you decide to go full-time with your blog, you may be tempted to make the biggest mistake most dreamers make. You may think that dreaming is about looking forward.
It’s not. Dreaming is about looking backward and remembering what it is you have always loved to do. “Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it,” Parker Palmer wrote, “I must listen to my life telling me who I am.”
So before I could even figure out what I wanted to sell, I was going to have to figure out what value I had, what strengths I possessed that could benefit someone. And the answer to that was buried deep in my past.
“Jeff,” my friend said to me that day I announced my dream was to write, “you are a writer. You just need to write.”
He was right. I had been writing. All these years. In various capacities. But somehow, it just didn’t feel like enough. I didn’t feel like enough. But when I heard those words, I knew they were true.
Maybe, I thought, before we can do something, we have to become someone. Activity follows identity. It was a simple principle but one I’ve come to embrace in all areas of life.
What that meant for me was looking honestly at my life and identifying what strengths I had to offer. I had spent the past seven years as a marketing director and before that as the leader of a music group.
I couldn’t remember a time in my adult life in which I hadn’t been working with creative people. That was a bigger clue than I first realized. Maybe, I thought, I could do that online.
So I gradually turned my new blog, which had been more of a leadership blog, into a writing-focused resource. First, I tested out posts on writing to see if they appealed, and I was amazed at how much people connected with the content.
What Derek Sivers says is true: “What’s obvious to you is amazing to others.” The secret to discovering the value that you offer the world is hidden in the strength you’re probably taking for granted.
The Finish Line
A year after starting my blog, I launched my first eBook on writing and made $1500 from it.
A few months later, I launched an bundle product and made $16,000 in the first six weeks.
Several months after that, I launched my first online course, Tribe Writers, and made $25,000 from it.
By the end of that year, I had made over $150,000 blogging.
I couldn’t believe it. This was my dream, and it had come true in ways that completely astounded me.
But the truth is the process took two years from start to finish, plus another seven years of preparation. It required all those things Harriet Tubman mentioned: passion, patience, and strength.
If you’re going to come face to face with your dream, you’re going to need them, too. You’ll have to:
- Turn your frustration into passion.
- Be willing to take the long road, understanding that good things come in time.
- Embrace your past, using whatever strengths you’ve accumulated along the way and putting them to use.
Yes, it will take time and it won’t be easy. But the good news is you don’t have to sit around feeling frustrated or like you missed out. Everything you’ve done up to this point has prepared you for what you’re about to do.
Now, it’s up to you to get started.
Are you wondering why your expert roundups are not living up to your expectations? Why you are never getting the level of response some other people are getting?
After all, the idea behind creating an expert roundup sounds foolproof on paper.
- Get eminent experts to answer a question for you.
- Gather the responses and publish the ultimate answer to that question.
- Get your experts to share the content and then leverage their audience to get a viral post.
There is no way you can fail!
But the reality is a bit different.
My first expert roundup (January, 2015), featured the likes of top guys like Rand Fishkin, Neil Patel and Yaro Starak. In terms of quality, it was great. But it got me only around two hundred shares and a few backlinks.
Disappointed by my failure, I felt that “expert roundups” are overhyped. I looked around to get some expert roundup tips.
After a while, I realized that there was no flaw core idea of an expert roundup. The problem was in the execution of it. Actually, I was so excited about the roundup, that I overlooked certain things, which are just common sense.
Today on Problogger, I would like to share these commonsense tips so that you can organize a better expert roundup.
Do keyword research to focus on the right terms
You may create the grandest expert roundup (in terms of quality). You may even generate tons of backlinks. But unless it is properly targeted, it will never fulfill its potential.
By proper targeting, I mean that you should target the right terms or keywords for search engines. After all, the backlinks and shares that will get showered upon your roundup must help it to generate organic traffic.
If you have not chosen the right keywords, then what is the point? Your backlinks may help you rank #1 for your keyword, but if people do not search for that term, it is of no use.
In my last expert roundup, I made this mistake. The overall topic was good. It was about “blogging mistakes made by top bloggers”. I was quite sure that new bloggers would be very interested in learning about it.
But I did not consider the fact whether users would be using the same term in the search engines.
As it turned out, the main keyword “blogging mistakes” did not have an appreciable search volume. Even if I had been able to rank for the keyword, the benefit would have been minimal.
Ultimately, I got around this by naming my blog pos “19 expert blogging tips to avoid blogging mistakes”.
But this is not the right way to do it.
The approach should be very simple. Try to find the hole in the available information. Once you have found something that is asked a lot, but not answered well, you have struck gold.
Now you need to grab the topic and do a little keyword research to get the right term to use in your question. There are only two factors that you need to consider:
- The keyword should have at least moderate search volume.
- The keyword should not be too competitive.
In case you have already committed the error of choosing a low search volume topic, you have to improvise. Re-frame your question so that it includes good keywords.
To get the best out of your keywords, make sure that you use the keywords in the title of your post (obvious thing). A huge chunk of your backlinks will have the title of your post as the anchor text. Including your keyword in the title will go a long way in helping you to rank for that keyword.
Increase your reach by approaching more people
An expert roundup always results in a quality piece of content. But for the person conducting the roundup, there is much more to it than just the content. As the host blogger, you are banking on the expert’s reach to spread the word about your roundup. You are dependent on the expert’s popularity to have an influence on your roundup.
The idea behind an expert roundup is to leverage influence of the experts. Your aim is to ride the influence of your experts to gain as widespread popularity as possible. So it is pretty commonsense-the more experts you have, the better it is for you.
More experts mean more followers. More experts mean that your content will get shared to a wider audience.
So the message is very clear. Get in as many experts as possible.
And it is beneficial to the experts too. If your expert roundup does really well and ranks high in the search engines, each one of the experts will also be on the receiving end of a highly relevant and quality back link.
POINT TO NOTE: get in as many “experts” as possible. Here, “experts” is the crucial term. I’m not asking you to include just anybody in your expert roundup to fill up the numbers. There no point in doing that. In fact, doing that will dilute the experience of your expert roundup.
Finding experts is simple:
- Do a Google search with your niche’s keywords.
- Find experts on existing roundups by searching: “keyword” + expert roundup.
- Find highly followed people on social networks.
Get people to respond by gradually building trust
So now it is clear that you need to get as many experts as possible to participate in your expert roundup. But obviously, it is easier said than done.
Experts are busy people. They get tons of e-mails and expert roundup invites. They cannot respond to all of them. To get answers, you have to do the obvious things:
- Approach them with a short and concise e-mail.
- Pose a question that is interesting to them.
- Pose a question that is relatively easy to answer and so on.
But the easiest way to get someone to respond to you is to build trust with that person.
Imagine for yourself. If you are in a rush, you may skip over an e-mail from an unknown person. But if you know that person, you will be compelled to at least have a look at the e-mail. You will try to respond to the person it possible.
Same thing happens with the experts (and for any human being). It is human psychology. One can easily say no to an unknown person but rejecting a familiar person is harder. Our subconscious always tries to maintain and honor preexisting relationships.
Your task: build familiarity with the expert before approaching with the invite.
Simple ways to build familiarity:
- Follow the expert on social networks.
- Comment and discuss on the expert’s blog.
- Send a “thank you” email for a helpful blog post.
Use a deadline to get more responses
Not using a deadline was a big mistake for my last roundup post. I thought that the experts, being busy people, may not appreciate the idea of being given a deadline.
But I was wrong! It is always better to specify a deadline for submission of expert entries.
There are two reasons:
Firstly, deadlines promote actions.
An expert may read your email but if you have not mentioned a deadline, he or she may postpone the reply. And in that process, the busy expert may forget about your e-mail altogether.
On the other hand, if you do specify a deadline, the expert may reply immediately or at least mark the email to be replied before the deadline.
After all, itís a good deal for the expert. The expert is getting a highly relevant back link in exchange of a simple answer to a question. That is why, using the deadline works. The deadline serves to remind that the chance to get an easy back link may be gone soon. Thus it promotes a prompt reply.
Second benefit of using a deadline is that it will demonstrate your professionalism and seriousness about the expert roundup. Without it, some people may think that you are not sure about how and when you’re going to post the expert roundup. That may lead to loss of interest in your expert roundup.
Moral of the story: Use a deadline. 7 to 10 days is good in my opinion.
Have higher expectations from the experts
If your expectations are low, you’re most likely to be getting the same. This is one blunder I committed while conducting my first expert roundup.
I was not sure whether the experts would have time to look into my question and answer it. So, I tried to make it easier for them by saying that even a single line opinion would be fine.
I was doing an expert roundup and it deserved expert comments.
I understand that it is not reasonable to expect the experts to write long explanations. But a single line opinion conveys hardly any value.
Suppose I ask someone about his/her biggest mistake as newbie blogger and the person responds “not doing this or that”. It is a technically correct answer but it hardly adds much value. A little explanation is expected at least.
So settle for a middle ground. Writing 50 to 100 words does not take too long and is quite reasonable to ask for.
So nowadays I write:
A short 50-100 word opinion would be fine although you can elaborate your experience if you like.
Here, I am using the word “short” to make it seem easy to the experts but at the same time I am also specifying them the minimum length I expect.
Coming back to my story: I failed to specify this minimum limit in my first roundup post. As a result, few experts did provide single line opinions. But obviously, the mistake was mine. It was me who said that “even a single line opinion would be fine”. And this is one big problem in asking your expert on Twitter. That is why I always prefer e-mail.
That said, I’m very grateful that most of the experts did leave longer and valuable comments on my expert roundup. And this also tells you that the experts are also okay with writing a few words.
Don’t be shy to ask for a “proper and meaningful” expert opinion on your roundup.
Use author bio to allow users to connect with experts
When you’re conducting an expert roundup, it is essential that your readers connect with the experts. Not everyone will know all the experts. You must give them a reason why they should listen to the expert.
For example, I know Darren and the great work he has done with Problogger. But a new blogger may or may not know (although it is unlikely). Without knowing about Darren’s expertise in blogging, a new blogger may not pay heed to his advice. That is why it is essential to do a short introduction of your expert.
Writing a short author bio is a nice way to do it. Just a couple of sentences are fine. Tell who the author is and a little about his/her achievements and specialization. This will give enough reasons to your readers to listen to a particular expert. And this will also allow everyone to appreciate and value the comments made by the experts.
Here is a sample:
Darren Rowse is one of the first bloggers to blog about how to make money blogging. He is the man behind the hugely popular blog Problogger and popular books like “Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income”. He is regarded as one of the foremost authorities on blogging.
Promote more or more to get the most out of your roundup
Last but not least, put serious effort in promoting your expert roundup.
Creating a highly informative and useful expert roundup is only half the battle. If you stop there, it is no good. After all, you have invested so much time and effort in producing an amazing piece of content. Why stop when it is the time to reap the rewards?
Promote your expert roundup like crazy.
- Start with your expert panel. Show them your gratitude for taking out time to participate in your expert roundup. E-mail all your experts letting them know that the post is up. Thank them and ask them to share the content. Not everyone will share it but some of them will.
- If your experts do not reply back, remind them after a couple of days. Talk to them on Twitter and let them know.
- Promote your post on Twitter, Google plus and Facebook.
- Use hashtags to make it easier for people to find your post.
- Mention your experts on twitter and google plus. Here is a template that you can use:
Tip no #: “Insert tip here” -By @expertname <Insert link to post>
- Share multiple times on your social networks: the day of posting, the day after posting, one week after posting.
- Share your post on social bookmarking sites. Encourage your readers to share your post on social bookmarking sites. Reach out to friends and acquaintances and ask them to share your post.
- And obviously, do not forget the e-mail list. You can write a couple of e-mails to build up anticipation for to the roundup post. This will ensure a better response from your email list subscribers.
These are just some ideas. Be creative and find out more ways to promote your post.
Are you ready for your next expert roundup?
So, I have shared my tips for creating a better expert roundup. These expert roundup tips work great. Now, it’s your turn – apply these tips and let us know how your next expert roundup goes. And if you have your own secret tip, feel free to share with us in the comments section.
Neil test drives new blogging tips and strategies on his blog and then lets you know what works. He shares his blogging experience on Blogician and you can read his first expert roundup at blogging tips for new bloggers.
Yesterday we released tickets to the 2015 ProBlogger Training Event on 14-15 August here in Australia on the Gold Coast.
As I write this post 560 bloggers, speakers and team have grabbed their tickets (400 of those went in the first 10 minutes) and under 150 tickets remain.
This year we’ve got attendees coming from all states and territories in Australia as well as attendees flying in from the USA, New Zealand, India and Fiji.
Attendees not only come from all over the place but come from a wide spectrum of niches (everything from bloggers blogging about Fashion, to Health, to Travel, to Food, to Small Business and much more) and also a wide spectrum of experience levels.
Here’s the experience levels of attendees broken down (this doesn’t include speakers or team which all come from the 4-5 years or 5+ years categories).
I’m particularly excited about our international speakers this year. We’re bringing out Heather B Armstrong from Dooce, Jadah Sellner from Simple Green Smoothies, Pamela Wilson from CopyBlogger and Ruth Soukup from the Elite Blog Academy.
If you’re thinking of joining us the cost for bloggers is just $399 AUD (around $300USD depending on the exchange rate on the day) which includes the two days of training, lunches and refreshments both days, a networking party and slides and recordings of all sessions.
Many conferences of this type and length cost upwards of $1000 so we’re pleased to have Olympus on board as a presenting partner. Olympus have substantially subsidised the cost of attending for bloggers this year but will also be adding a heap of value to the conference with some training for bloggers on how to take better photos for their blogs.
If you’re thinking of joining us please don’t wait too long and grab yours here. Tickets will sell out for this event and we’d hate for you to be disappointed.