Author: Darren Rowse

8 Important Admin Tasks to Do When Launching a New Blog

The post 8 Important Admin Tasks to Do When Launching a New Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

Admin tasks to do when launching a new blog

When you launch a new blog (especially if it’s your first), there’s so much to do it can feel overwhelming.

Having spent so much time and effort selecting your themepre-writing posts, and maybe even setting up your email list, you probably just want to make it live as soon as possible so you can tell everyone you know about it.

But hold up just a minute. You may have missed a few small but crucial administrative tasks that may seem nitpicky but can make a big difference to how your blog is perceived by first-time readers.

For instance, if you still have a default “About” page up there your blog won’t look completely finished. And a lot of established blogs still have the “meta” widget in the sidebar, despite it offering no value to readers whatsoever.

While there’s nothing wrong with being a new blogger (we all were at some point), you probably don’t want to look like a complete beginner. Readers who’ve experienced other newly launched blogs might be wary of investing time and energy in yours if it looks half complete. They might think you won’t stick with it for long.

So here are the eight steps you should take when launching a blog (or soon afterwards). And while these are focused on WordPress blogs, many will apply to other platforms too.

(Don’t worry if you launched a while ago and haven’t done some of these yet. It’s great that you got your blog out there and online. Just tackle them as soon as you can.)

#1: Remove the “Hello World” Post

You’ve probably already done this. But just in case you haven’t, make sure you remove the default “Hello World” post from your blog.

You can do this by either:

  • editing the existing post to give it a different title, permalink and text
  • deleting the entire post from your blog under Posts > All Posts in your dashboard.

If you decide to keep and edit the original post, make sure you delete the associated comment, which you can find under Comments in your dashboard.

Even if you’ve published several of your own posts and the “Hello World” post doesn’t appear on your front page any more, it’s still a good idea to completely delete it. Otherwise it’ll show up in archives and could be found when searching your blog.

#2: Delete the Default “Sample” Page

WordPress comes with a default “Sample Page” that looks something like this:

Sample page example

You don’t want to leave that sample page in place. Even if there’s no link to it in your navigation, it can still be found by searching your blog. And it doesn’t create a good impression.

You can either delete it or, if you prefer, edit it and create an “About” page or similar as WordPress recommends. (Just make sure you change the permalink to something other than sample-page.)

#3: Remove the “Meta” Widget from Your Sidebar

By default, WordPress places certain widgets in your sidebar. Don’t think you need to keep these. You can easily remove them under Appearance > Widgets (just drag and drop).

While you may want some of the default widgets, you can definitely dispense with the “Meta” widget, which looks like this:

Meta widget

Note: If you’re logged into your site, you’ll see the links “Site Admin” and “Log out” instead of “Log in”.

You don’t need the “Log in” link. You can access your WordPress dashboard by going to www.yourblogname.com/wp-admin and logging in (if necessary).

And chances are your readers won’t need the “Entries RSS” link. These days most readers t subscribe by email instead, and readers who do want to use RSS can just enter your blog’s name/URL in their feed reader. (I doubt they’ll want to subscribe to an RSS feed of all the comments, either.)

Leaving the meta widget in your sidebar adds unnecessary clutter, and marks you as a new blogger.

#4: Check (and Maybe Change) Your Permalinks

When you install WordPress, your permalinks will default to ‘Day and name’, which looks like this:

problogger.com/2018/09/12/sample-post

You might be perfectly happy with this. But it’s not the only option you have. For instance, you may want to have shorter permalinks that don’t include the date, like this:

problogger.com/sample-post

Ideally you should change your permalink structure early in the life of your blog so your post URLs are consistent. You’ll also avoid the risk of broken links on both own your blog and other blogs linking to yours. (Selecting a new structure updates the permalinks across your entire blog, not just on posts you publish in the future.)

You can change your permalinks under Settings > Permalinks.

#5: Fill Out Your Social Media Links

Many blog themes come with icons for your social media accounts, often in the footer or header.

A surprising number of blogs (even long-established ones)don’t have these set correctly, so the icon either isn’t clickable or leads to the homepage of Facebook, Twitter, etc. – not the blogger’s own profile or page.

Normally there’s a setting somewhere in your theme where you can include the actual URL of your Facebook page, Twitter profile, and so on. If you can’t find it, Google for the name of your theme plus “Facebook icon” or similar.

While it takes only a few minutes to set them up, they can make a huge difference to the number of followers you gain on social media. But if someone clicks a button that doesn’t work, you may miss out on a connection that becomes a long-term reader or even a paying customer.

#6: Make Sure Your Contact Form Works

One issue even well-established bloggers sometimes come across is contact forms that don’t always work correctly. While it may be frustrating for your readers (they’ll never hear back from you), it could also raise serious problems for you.

What if you miss a message from a customer asking for a refund on your ebook (as per your guarantee), and they end up raising a PayPal dispute? Or what if you never see the message from someone who wants to give you a free product or pay for advertising on your blog?

Even if your form appears to work and tells you a message was sent, it may not be reaching your inbox. It could be a delivery problem (they don’t reach you at all). They might reach you, but then end up in your spam folder. Or something may have gone awry with the plugin.

Before you launch, triple-check your contact form to make sure it actually works. Try it out yourself and, if possible, ask a couple of friends to test it as well. Make sure the emails all reach your inbox successfully.

(It’s also worth re-checking your contact form every so often. WordPress updates or plugin updates may mean it suddenly stops working, even if it’s been working fine for months.)

#7: Set Up Google Analytics and Google Search Console

I can understand why many bloggers launch without these in place. By the time you’ve set up a domain name and hosting, and installed a WordPress theme, the idea of doing anything else techy might seem just too much.

However, it really helps to have Google Analytics in place from the day you launch. That way, you can see exactly which posts and pages are popular, how people navigate through your site, whether they arrived through search, social media, or a backlink, and much more.

Google Search Console is slightly different. You can use it to set up your sitemap, find out what links Google had difficulty crawling, check whether your website has any security issues, see what search terms people are using to find your blog, and much more.

The good news is that both Google Analytics and Google Search Console are actually quite straightforward to set up. You’ll need to create a Google account (if you don’t already have one) and for both you’ll need to link them to your blog.

We cover how to do that with Google Analytics in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog course. And here’s where you can find out more about Google Search Console.

#8: Install (or Activate) the Akismet Plugin

Akismet is a WordPress plugin that detects and removes spam comments before they ever appear on your blog. It will significantly reduce the amount of spam you have to deal with, which means you won’t have spam comments hanging around on your blog waiting to be deleted.

All blogs get hit with spam comments. But if a lot of them are getting through, it doesn’t give readers a great impression. A comments section riddled with spam makes your blog look unattended and uninviting. And it may well be promoting or linking to things you don’t want associated with you and your blog.

Depending on your host, your WordPress installation may come with the Akismet plugin already in place. If not, you can install it from your WordPress dashboard by going to Plugins > Add New and typing “Akismet” in the search box.

You’ll need to click the “Activate” button to get Akismet working, and you’ll then be taken to the Akismet site where you can sign up.

Akismet’s site implies that you need to pay, but you can use it for free. Just click the “Personal” plan and slide the payment slider all the way to the left.

Akismet slider

Note: This license is only intended for non-commercial sites (i.e. sites without advertising, business information, products for sale, etc.)

I realise there’s quite a bit to take in here, especially if you’ve already spent a lot of time writing posts and choosing a theme for your blog. But if you tackle these one at a time, you’ll soon get them all done.

If you get stuck, take a look at our 31 Days to Build a Better Blog course (which covers a lot of these areas) or search Google for instructions.

Good luck with your blog launch.

Image credit: Jazmin Quaynor

The post 8 Important Admin Tasks to Do When Launching a New Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

261: Breakthroughs that Grew My Blog from 30 Readers a Day to Profitable in Less Than 2 Years

The post 261: Breakthroughs that Grew My Blog from 30 Readers a Day to Profitable in Less Than 2 Years appeared first on ProBlogger.

Three Breakthrough Tips That Helped a Blogger Become Profitable

Here’s another episode from our Blogging Breakthroughs series, which features bloggers’ stories about breakthroughs in traffic, income, and other aspects of blogging.

About two years ago, after a career in Air Traffic Control and dealing with health issues, Michele Robson decided to start a blog about luxury travel on a budget called Turning Left for Less.

michele robson breakthrough

Michele had some writing experience, but didn’t really understand blogging. Her blog started out slowly, but has now reached a point where she earns a liveable income.

Michele shares three breakthrough tips that helped her grow her luxury travel blog from just a few readers a day to where it’s at today.

  1. Post every day
  2. Befriend a blogger you admire and have them become your mentor
  3. Be first to market and review products and services

Michele has built credibility, and industry leaders are now coming to her. She no longer needs to chase them for information.

As bloggers, we all start with very few readers and doubts about whether to continue. Just think of Michele’s story, follow her three tips, and don’t give up.

Links and Resources for Breakthroughs that Grew My Blog from 30 Readers a Day to Profitable in Less Than 2 Years:

Further Listening

Courses

Join our Facebook group

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view

Darren: Hey there and welcome to episode 261 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse, and I’m the blogger behind ProBlogger. A blog, podcast, events, courses, ebooks, and lots more that helps bloggers to start blogs, to grow their blogs, and to build profit around their blogs. You can find more about what we do over at problogger.com.

Now, today, we continue our series of blogger breakthrough episodes, where we’re hearing from listeners of the podcast about how they’ve grown their blogs, particularly focusing upon their breakthrough moments, the things that have helped them to do what I’ve just said, grow their blogs, start their blogs and to build profit around their blogs.

Today’s story is one that I love. It’s from Michele Robson, who has a blog called Turning Left for Less, and the tagline of her blog is Champagne Travel on Prosecco Budget, which will give you the indication of what it’s about. It’s about luxury travel on a budget. It’s something that I think is a great topic, but also the story that Michele tells is really worth listening to as well. I’m sure a lot of people will relate to her story, as well.

After a long career in one particular industry, air traffic control, and a tough time with health, Michele decided to start a blog. She only started less than two years ago, I think it was November 2016, so not long at it, but in that time she’s, despite not really having any experience in blogging, she’s been able to build her blog where she’s now earned enough to survive on the income from her blog, which is a great story. She’s gone from literally having a very few readers to having a significant readership as well, and really doing some amazing things. In her story today, she shares three breakthrough moments that helped her to grow from just a few readers a day to the point that she’s at today.

I’m going to let Michele share her story, but I will come back at the end of her story, and just share a few of the things that I appreciated from what she shared, and give you a little bit more further listening on a couple of things she talks about as well. You can find a link to Michele’s to blog turningleftforless.com at our show notes which are at problogger.com/podcast/261 as well as a full transcription of today’s show. I’ll talk to you in a moment after Michele shares her story.

Michele: Hi, my name’s Michele Robson and I’m from the UK. I run the blog Turning Left for Less. You can find the blog at www.turningleftforless.com. I started the blog in November 2016 after having had a kidney transplant. I had been working for 23 years in air traffic control and decided that the transplant was a way to do something different and actually write about what I really love. The blog is all about luxury travel for less, which is something I’ve always been passionate about. I like to travel in style, but I like to spend as little as possible, as everybody does, so I share my tips with my readers on how to travel for less.

When I first started the blog, I literally knew nothing about blogging at all. I didn’t know how to use WordPress. I think pretty much all I knew was how to write an article. I’d written articles before in my previous job as part of newsletters, so I was quite confident with the writing side of it. But in terms of actually building a blog, it was very difficult. I remember setting it up and it took me something like two weeks just to work out how to center my logo, because there was virtually nothing online that seemed to work. I spent hours and hours, eventually I did it, and it was worthwhile, but it was very steep learning curve to start off with.

I’m not particularly technically-minded, and to have to learn all the background WordPress stuff, and things like SEO, and obviously making readable articles, and social media, it was very difficult. I remember the first time I started to think, “Oh, am I actually going to carry on with this?” I’d only been going just over a month, but it was over the Christmas period, so of course it’s very quiet for blogs. I was getting something like 20 views a day, some days I used to think, “God, I’ve got more friends than that.” It was really difficult to keep going when you see such low viewing figures.

What I decided to do, which was my kind of breakthrough moment, was to post every day. My competition does that. I had always wanted to ideally not do that because of the amount of work it takes, but I decided in the end, if you can’t beat them, join them. It was definitely worthwhile, me giving it a go and I could always stop, if I wanted to. I guess that was one of three things that really helped me have a breakthrough.

One of the things I really recommend that worked for me, is if you have somebody whose blog you admire, try and befriend them. Try and get them to be your mentor, and that’s what I did. There’s a blogger called God Save the Points, Gilbert Ott is his name, and I’ve always been fan of his blog. Though we blog slightly differently, we’re in the same sort of genre, and I really liked the look of his blog and I could see he was doing well. He was really successful. I mean, nowadays, he has about a million views a month, which is pretty good after three and a half years.

I was part of the same group as him on Facebook, so I messaged him. He knew who I was from the group, and I said how much I admired him, and I would really be grateful if he would be able to give me some tips. I offered to buy him lunch, which obviously did the trick in terms of him then wanting to meet up. I took him somewhere very nice and plied him with drink and a very nice meal, and he basically told me everything he knew about how he had got to where he was. Since then we’ve become good friends, and he has always been very supportive, and helped me every step of the way.

I also have another friend who blogs in a different sphere, but had a lot of experience in the same sort of area I’m in. Again, I basically took him out, pumped him for information, and again, he’s always been very supportive, and he’s introduced me to other bloggers that are very well known. I think, for me, get yourself a support network and people who are mentors, because you can’t do it all by yourself. It can be quite lonely sometimes blogging, so having that support around you is really important.

The other things that I did that I think are still useful was about making sure that I was first to market, as it was, with certain things. In there, I blog about business class travel, first class travel, and if I notice a new product coming out, say for example, I talk about British Airways a lot because that’s what most of my readers are interested in. As soon British Airways announced they’re going to launch something, whether it’s a new meal service, a new seat, anything like that, I make sure I’m the first one that actually reviews it. I will drop everything and buy a flight and get on it as quickly as I can. That was one of my other major breakthroughs because I wrote a very complimentary review, which was deserved, by British Airways, when they introduced their new food, and the company actually picked it up.

I was still very unknown at that point, I’d only been going under a year, been going about 10 months, and they actually put my blog article on their website, and they promoted it through Twitter, and with a lot of their social media, pilots that post on there and a lot of them have like tens of thousands of followers, and that made a huge difference for me. It definitely got me a lot of views to the website, and that was the first time it really started to pick up for me, and started getting some really good traffic. Nowadays, I’m getting about a hundred and fifty thousand views a month after, not quite two years, which I’m pretty happy with, really.

After my breakthrough, obviously I’m now getting very good views. I’m actually getting people approaching me, which is great companies approaching me to work with them, which is really good that I don’t actually have to chase it. I know I feel that I can kind of set my terms because I have that credibility. I’m being approached by industry people, like Runway Girl, to do interviews with them, which is really good. Again, it’s about credibility.

The other thing that is different now is I’m making a regular income. I’d always done the blog full-time from the very start, but I am now actually at the point where the income is livable. Just, it’s still not a lot, but it’s enough to be able to survive on. That has taken quite a while and an awful lot of work in terms of affiliate links and advertising.

I guess my tip would be for, to achieve a similar breakthrough is really just finding that person that’s going to be your mentor, that will help you, because there I’ve found there’s so much online, so much information it’s really difficult to pick out which bits you need to know. For example, for me, keywords, a lot of people concentrate on keywords, but in the niche I operate actually I don’t need to bother about it a lot of the time because there is very little competition for many things.

Actually, I don’t bother with that a lot of the time, whereas I could have wasted hours and hours and paying for keyword tools. For me, actually I don’t need it, I’ve done alright without it. I think that is quite important, to make sure you understand your niche, and what is going to work for you rather than just trying to follow the generic advice that you find. You need that extra tip from people that know, not just the basics, you need the really sort of fine detail of your area to get it to working, and get it to the point you want it to be quickly, which I think, for me, I’ve achieved my target for what I wanted for you, too, already now without even getting to that point. It’s been very useful, for me, it’s made a huge difference.

Darren: Thanks so much to Michele for sharing her story. I have really appreciated hearing the different accents, the different voices, the different experiences of those who are sharing in this particular series. I am really enjoying seeing the feedback from many of our listeners as well on this.

As I said at the top of this show, I love this story. I’m sure many of us can relate to that feeling of frustration in the early days of getting the blog up, without much experience in blogging, that frustration of realizing that you’ve got more friends than you’ve got readers, which can be a bit confounding because you wonder why your friends aren’t reading your blog as well, sometimes. But those early days are tough.

I guess, one of the reasons why I’m loving this series is that it reminds us that we all do start in that same place. We all do start with very few readers, doubts about whether we should continue, and frustrations in the technicalities of setting up a blog, and so I appreciate Michele sharing her story of that. I love the breakthrough moments that she’s picked out as well. As I look back over my own breakthrough moments, there are many things that we could talk about, and so, there’s just so many things that I’m sure Michele could have shared, but the three that she shared today will be helpful.

The first one being: posting everyday helped her blog to grow. Now, I find this an interesting one because it’s something that I have taught in the past, but something that I don’t think is right for every blogger, but certainly seems to be the case that it was right for Michele. One of the good things about increasing your posting frequency is that you are increasing the amount of doorways into your blog. If you’re only posting once a week, that’s 52 doorways into your blog a year. If you’re posting every day, that’s 365 doorways into your blog. That’s doorways in from search engines, from social media, from the potential of other bloggers linking to you, and people coming in from your RSS feed. The amount of posts that you do is one way that you can increase your traffic to your blog. But it needs to be only done if you have the capacity to really do that, and you need to really think about your resources, the time you have, and your topic as well, so there’s a variety of things you want to consider in making that decision.

What I want to do today is share with you, in the show notes, a couple of things that you can read and listen to on this very topic of frequency of posting. There’s a blog post that Ali Luke wrote on ProBlogger not too long ago, which I’ll link to in this show notes, where she talks about the different options you’ve got for frequency. Also, there’s a podcast, I think it was episode—it might have been episode 250, just going to check that for you, yup—which is about how to create more content for your blog in an easy way. Not every post you need to write needs to be a long, detailed post.

In episode 250, I talked about nine types of content that you can create for your blog that aren’t too hard to create. Nine pieces of content that you can add to your existing content without too much work, of course, keeping in mind that you wanted to keep it high quality as well.

Posting every day, I think, is a great tip. I would probably advise that you don’t have to be daily, you might actually choose to be more than daily. You might want to be two or three times a day. The actual frequency isn’t the key, the key is thinking about how you can increase the frequency a little bit, particularly in the early days of your blog, when you may not have many posts in your archives.

The main breakthrough that I loved in what Michele shared today is the idea of befriending other bloggers, finding mentors. One of the things I do notice many bloggers, when they start out, is that they see other bloggers in their niche sometimes as their competitors. I understand why that might be.

In business, we’d see other people doing what we’re doing as competitors, and we don’t tend to reach out to them and have relationships with them. But in the blogging space, there’s plenty of good reasons to be interacting with, befriending, and working with, collaborating with other people who are in your niche.

Michele really tells the story beautifully there, of two bloggers that she reached out to, who have become friends, who’ve become collaborators, who have linked to her, who she supported as well, who’ve introduced her to other people in the industry. This is such a powerful thing. I’ve seen time and time again, where bloggers have moved past that idea of competitorship, or competing with others in their niche, and instead, working with them and befriending them, and that has helped so many bloggers, and it certainly helped me, particularly in the early days of ProBlogger. Twere other people who were blogging about blogging in those early days.

In the year or so that I started, there were other people who started, Copyblogger was a great example of this. We helped each other to grow. We ended up doing quite different things, but there was overlap in our audience, and that is such an important thing. If you’re alright, I would befriend other bloggers in your niche, this is really important. If you were I, I would find a mentor, even if it’s just a one-off mentoring session, like Michele described, over a meal. That can be a very powerful thing as well.

And then her last breakthrough was really, I thought, was great as well. Particularly if you are blogging about anything that’s to do with news, or product, as Michele is. Being first to market, being early in writing about something newsworthy in your industry is a great thing, it signals to your readers that you are first, that you are up with the latest, but it also gets on the radar of other people in your industry. Whether that be other bloggers who might link to you, or as in the case with Michele, other people in the industry like the people you’re reviewing the products of.

Being first, being early, being positive, being constructive about the things that are happening in your industry will get you on the radar of others, and that then opens up all kinds of opportunities. When people see you writing about those sorts of topics, you’ll get invited to the press launches. You will sometimes have opportunity to work with brands in a paid capacity as well, to become an ambassador. So really important to do that, and Michele’s obviously worked that very well. Networking, being open to collaboration is a very powerful thing. I do encourage you to take those things on board, particularly if you’re in those sorts of industries where you can write about news, and what’s going on in your industry. It can be a very powerful thing.

Thanks so much, Michele, again, for sharing. You can find Michele’s blog at turningleftforless.com. You can find a link to her blog in our show notes today, but also a link to those episodes that I talked about earlier, particularly episode 250, where I talk about tons of content that you can create that doesn’t take too much work. I think I called it Killer Filler Content, although it’s not really filler content, because it can actually be really valuable for your readers as well.

Again today’s show notes are at problogger.com/podcast/261 is a full transcription there. Also dig back over the last few episodes as well, where we’ve got, I think we’re up to six other blogger breakthrough stories now. There are other variety of different topics as well, so it’s well worth digging back into those. Thanks for listening, chat with you next week in episode 262.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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The post 261: Breakthroughs that Grew My Blog from 30 Readers a Day to Profitable in Less Than 2 Years appeared first on ProBlogger.

261: Breakthroughs that Grew My Blog from 30 Readers a Day to Profitable in Less Than 2 Years

The post 261: Breakthroughs that Grew My Blog from 30 Readers a Day to Profitable in Less Than 2 Years appeared first on ProBlogger.

Three Breakthrough Tips That Helped a Blogger Become Profitable

Here’s another episode from our Blogging Breakthroughs series, which features bloggers’ stories about breakthroughs in traffic, income, and other aspects of blogging.

About two years ago, after a career in Air Traffic Control and dealing with health issues, Michele Robson decided to start a blog about luxury travel on a budget called Turning Left for Less.

michele robson breakthrough

Michele had some writing experience, but didn’t really understand blogging. Her blog started out slowly, but has now reached a point where she earns a liveable income.

Michele shares three breakthrough tips that helped her grow her luxury travel blog from just a few readers a day to where it’s at today.

  1. Post every day
  2. Befriend a blogger you admire and have them become your mentor
  3. Be first to market and review products and services

Michele has built credibility, and industry leaders are now coming to her. She no longer needs to chase them for information.

As bloggers, we all start with very few readers and doubts about whether to continue. Just think of Michele’s story, follow her three tips, and don’t give up.

Links and Resources for Breakthroughs that Grew My Blog from 30 Readers a Day to Profitable in Less Than 2 Years:

Further Listening

Courses

Join our Facebook group

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view

Darren: Hey there and welcome to episode 261 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse, and I’m the blogger behind ProBlogger. A blog, podcast, events, courses, ebooks, and lots more that helps bloggers to start blogs, to grow their blogs, and to build profit around their blogs. You can find more about what we do over at problogger.com.

Now, today, we continue our series of blogger breakthrough episodes, where we’re hearing from listeners of the podcast about how they’ve grown their blogs, particularly focusing upon their breakthrough moments, the things that have helped them to do what I’ve just said, grow their blogs, start their blogs and to build profit around their blogs.

Today’s story is one that I love. It’s from Michele Robson, who has a blog called Turning Left for Less, and the tagline of her blog is Champagne Travel on Prosecco Budget, which will give you the indication of what it’s about. It’s about luxury travel on a budget. It’s something that I think is a great topic, but also the story that Michele tells is really worth listening to as well. I’m sure a lot of people will relate to her story, as well.

After a long career in one particular industry, air traffic control, and a tough time with health, Michele decided to start a blog. She only started less than two years ago, I think it was November 2016, so not long at it, but in that time she’s, despite not really having any experience in blogging, she’s been able to build her blog where she’s now earned enough to survive on the income from her blog, which is a great story. She’s gone from literally having a very few readers to having a significant readership as well, and really doing some amazing things. In her story today, she shares three breakthrough moments that helped her to grow from just a few readers a day to the point that she’s at today.

I’m going to let Michele share her story, but I will come back at the end of her story, and just share a few of the things that I appreciated from what she shared, and give you a little bit more further listening on a couple of things she talks about as well. You can find a link to Michele’s to blog turningleftforless.com at our show notes which are at problogger.com/podcast/261 as well as a full transcription of today’s show. I’ll talk to you in a moment after Michele shares her story.

Michele: Hi, my name’s Michele Robson and I’m from the UK. I run the blog Turning Left for Less. You can find the blog at www.turningleftforless.com. I started the blog in November 2016 after having had a kidney transplant. I had been working for 23 years in air traffic control and decided that the transplant was a way to do something different and actually write about what I really love. The blog is all about luxury travel for less, which is something I’ve always been passionate about. I like to travel in style, but I like to spend as little as possible, as everybody does, so I share my tips with my readers on how to travel for less.

When I first started the blog, I literally knew nothing about blogging at all. I didn’t know how to use WordPress. I think pretty much all I knew was how to write an article. I’d written articles before in my previous job as part of newsletters, so I was quite confident with the writing side of it. But in terms of actually building a blog, it was very difficult. I remember setting it up and it took me something like two weeks just to work out how to center my logo, because there was virtually nothing online that seemed to work. I spent hours and hours, eventually I did it, and it was worthwhile, but it was very steep learning curve to start off with.

I’m not particularly technically-minded, and to have to learn all the background WordPress stuff, and things like SEO, and obviously making readable articles, and social media, it was very difficult. I remember the first time I started to think, “Oh, am I actually going to carry on with this?” I’d only been going just over a month, but it was over the Christmas period, so of course it’s very quiet for blogs. I was getting something like 20 views a day, some days I used to think, “God, I’ve got more friends than that.” It was really difficult to keep going when you see such low viewing figures.

What I decided to do, which was my kind of breakthrough moment, was to post every day. My competition does that. I had always wanted to ideally not do that because of the amount of work it takes, but I decided in the end, if you can’t beat them, join them. It was definitely worthwhile, me giving it a go and I could always stop, if I wanted to. I guess that was one of three things that really helped me have a breakthrough.

One of the things I really recommend that worked for me, is if you have somebody whose blog you admire, try and befriend them. Try and get them to be your mentor, and that’s what I did. There’s a blogger called God Save the Points, Gilbert Ott is his name, and I’ve always been fan of his blog. Though we blog slightly differently, we’re in the same sort of genre, and I really liked the look of his blog and I could see he was doing well. He was really successful. I mean, nowadays, he has about a million views a month, which is pretty good after three and a half years.

I was part of the same group as him on Facebook, so I messaged him. He knew who I was from the group, and I said how much I admired him, and I would really be grateful if he would be able to give me some tips. I offered to buy him lunch, which obviously did the trick in terms of him then wanting to meet up. I took him somewhere very nice and plied him with drink and a very nice meal, and he basically told me everything he knew about how he had got to where he was. Since then we’ve become good friends, and he has always been very supportive, and helped me every step of the way.

I also have another friend who blogs in a different sphere, but had a lot of experience in the same sort of area I’m in. Again, I basically took him out, pumped him for information, and again, he’s always been very supportive, and he’s introduced me to other bloggers that are very well known. I think, for me, get yourself a support network and people who are mentors, because you can’t do it all by yourself. It can be quite lonely sometimes blogging, so having that support around you is really important.

The other things that I did that I think are still useful was about making sure that I was first to market, as it was, with certain things. In there, I blog about business class travel, first class travel, and if I notice a new product coming out, say for example, I talk about British Airways a lot because that’s what most of my readers are interested in. As soon British Airways announced they’re going to launch something, whether it’s a new meal service, a new seat, anything like that, I make sure I’m the first one that actually reviews it. I will drop everything and buy a flight and get on it as quickly as I can. That was one of my other major breakthroughs because I wrote a very complimentary review, which was deserved, by British Airways, when they introduced their new food, and the company actually picked it up.

I was still very unknown at that point, I’d only been going under a year, been going about 10 months, and they actually put my blog article on their website, and they promoted it through Twitter, and with a lot of their social media, pilots that post on there and a lot of them have like tens of thousands of followers, and that made a huge difference for me. It definitely got me a lot of views to the website, and that was the first time it really started to pick up for me, and started getting some really good traffic. Nowadays, I’m getting about a hundred and fifty thousand views a month after, not quite two years, which I’m pretty happy with, really.

After my breakthrough, obviously I’m now getting very good views. I’m actually getting people approaching me, which is great companies approaching me to work with them, which is really good that I don’t actually have to chase it. I know I feel that I can kind of set my terms because I have that credibility. I’m being approached by industry people, like Runway Girl, to do interviews with them, which is really good. Again, it’s about credibility.

The other thing that is different now is I’m making a regular income. I’d always done the blog full-time from the very start, but I am now actually at the point where the income is livable. Just, it’s still not a lot, but it’s enough to be able to survive on. That has taken quite a while and an awful lot of work in terms of affiliate links and advertising.

I guess my tip would be for, to achieve a similar breakthrough is really just finding that person that’s going to be your mentor, that will help you, because there I’ve found there’s so much online, so much information it’s really difficult to pick out which bits you need to know. For example, for me, keywords, a lot of people concentrate on keywords, but in the niche I operate actually I don’t need to bother about it a lot of the time because there is very little competition for many things.

Actually, I don’t bother with that a lot of the time, whereas I could have wasted hours and hours and paying for keyword tools. For me, actually I don’t need it, I’ve done alright without it. I think that is quite important, to make sure you understand your niche, and what is going to work for you rather than just trying to follow the generic advice that you find. You need that extra tip from people that know, not just the basics, you need the really sort of fine detail of your area to get it to working, and get it to the point you want it to be quickly, which I think, for me, I’ve achieved my target for what I wanted for you, too, already now without even getting to that point. It’s been very useful, for me, it’s made a huge difference.

Darren: Thanks so much to Michele for sharing her story. I have really appreciated hearing the different accents, the different voices, the different experiences of those who are sharing in this particular series. I am really enjoying seeing the feedback from many of our listeners as well on this.

As I said at the top of this show, I love this story. I’m sure many of us can relate to that feeling of frustration in the early days of getting the blog up, without much experience in blogging, that frustration of realizing that you’ve got more friends than you’ve got readers, which can be a bit confounding because you wonder why your friends aren’t reading your blog as well, sometimes. But those early days are tough.

I guess, one of the reasons why I’m loving this series is that it reminds us that we all do start in that same place. We all do start with very few readers, doubts about whether we should continue, and frustrations in the technicalities of setting up a blog, and so I appreciate Michele sharing her story of that. I love the breakthrough moments that she’s picked out as well. As I look back over my own breakthrough moments, there are many things that we could talk about, and so, there’s just so many things that I’m sure Michele could have shared, but the three that she shared today will be helpful.

The first one being: posting everyday helped her blog to grow. Now, I find this an interesting one because it’s something that I have taught in the past, but something that I don’t think is right for every blogger, but certainly seems to be the case that it was right for Michele. One of the good things about increasing your posting frequency is that you are increasing the amount of doorways into your blog. If you’re only posting once a week, that’s 52 doorways into your blog a year. If you’re posting every day, that’s 365 doorways into your blog. That’s doorways in from search engines, from social media, from the potential of other bloggers linking to you, and people coming in from your RSS feed. The amount of posts that you do is one way that you can increase your traffic to your blog. But it needs to be only done if you have the capacity to really do that, and you need to really think about your resources, the time you have, and your topic as well, so there’s a variety of things you want to consider in making that decision.

What I want to do today is share with you, in the show notes, a couple of things that you can read and listen to on this very topic of frequency of posting. There’s a blog post that Ali Luke wrote on ProBlogger not too long ago, which I’ll link to in this show notes, where she talks about the different options you’ve got for frequency. Also, there’s a podcast, I think it was episode—it might have been episode 250, just going to check that for you, yup—which is about how to create more content for your blog in an easy way. Not every post you need to write needs to be a long, detailed post.

In episode 250, I talked about nine types of content that you can create for your blog that aren’t too hard to create. Nine pieces of content that you can add to your existing content without too much work, of course, keeping in mind that you wanted to keep it high quality as well.

Posting every day, I think, is a great tip. I would probably advise that you don’t have to be daily, you might actually choose to be more than daily. You might want to be two or three times a day. The actual frequency isn’t the key, the key is thinking about how you can increase the frequency a little bit, particularly in the early days of your blog, when you may not have many posts in your archives.

The main breakthrough that I loved in what Michele shared today is the idea of befriending other bloggers, finding mentors. One of the things I do notice many bloggers, when they start out, is that they see other bloggers in their niche sometimes as their competitors. I understand why that might be.

In business, we’d see other people doing what we’re doing as competitors, and we don’t tend to reach out to them and have relationships with them. But in the blogging space, there’s plenty of good reasons to be interacting with, befriending, and working with, collaborating with other people who are in your niche.

Michele really tells the story beautifully there, of two bloggers that she reached out to, who have become friends, who’ve become collaborators, who have linked to her, who she supported as well, who’ve introduced her to other people in the industry. This is such a powerful thing. I’ve seen time and time again, where bloggers have moved past that idea of competitorship, or competing with others in their niche, and instead, working with them and befriending them, and that has helped so many bloggers, and it certainly helped me, particularly in the early days of ProBlogger. Twere other people who were blogging about blogging in those early days.

In the year or so that I started, there were other people who started, Copyblogger was a great example of this. We helped each other to grow. We ended up doing quite different things, but there was overlap in our audience, and that is such an important thing. If you’re alright, I would befriend other bloggers in your niche, this is really important. If you were I, I would find a mentor, even if it’s just a one-off mentoring session, like Michele described, over a meal. That can be a very powerful thing as well.

And then her last breakthrough was really, I thought, was great as well. Particularly if you are blogging about anything that’s to do with news, or product, as Michele is. Being first to market, being early in writing about something newsworthy in your industry is a great thing, it signals to your readers that you are first, that you are up with the latest, but it also gets on the radar of other people in your industry. Whether that be other bloggers who might link to you, or as in the case with Michele, other people in the industry like the people you’re reviewing the products of.

Being first, being early, being positive, being constructive about the things that are happening in your industry will get you on the radar of others, and that then opens up all kinds of opportunities. When people see you writing about those sorts of topics, you’ll get invited to the press launches. You will sometimes have opportunity to work with brands in a paid capacity as well, to become an ambassador. So really important to do that, and Michele’s obviously worked that very well. Networking, being open to collaboration is a very powerful thing. I do encourage you to take those things on board, particularly if you’re in those sorts of industries where you can write about news, and what’s going on in your industry. It can be a very powerful thing.

Thanks so much, Michele, again, for sharing. You can find Michele’s blog at turningleftforless.com. You can find a link to her blog in our show notes today, but also a link to those episodes that I talked about earlier, particularly episode 250, where I talk about tons of content that you can create that doesn’t take too much work. I think I called it Killer Filler Content, although it’s not really filler content, because it can actually be really valuable for your readers as well.

Again today’s show notes are at problogger.com/podcast/261 is a full transcription there. Also dig back over the last few episodes as well, where we’ve got, I think we’re up to six other blogger breakthrough stories now. There are other variety of different topics as well, so it’s well worth digging back into those. Thanks for listening, chat with you next week in episode 262.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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The post 261: Breakthroughs that Grew My Blog from 30 Readers a Day to Profitable in Less Than 2 Years appeared first on ProBlogger.

Using Templates and Checklists to Make Your Blogging Life Easier

The post Using Templates and Checklists to Make Your Blogging Life Easier appeared first on ProBlogger.

Templates and checklists

Tell me if any of these scenarios sound familiar:

  • You sit down in front of a blank page to write a new blog post. You make a start, but you’re not sure where to go next.
  • You often find yourself completely rewriting your draft posts because they just don’t seem to work.
  • After publishing a post, you rush around fixing all the little things you missed – the “read more” tag you left out, the featured image you forgot to resize, and the “further reading” suggestions you didn’t turn into hyperlinks like you intended.
  • Writing and publishing posts always seems to take longer than you expected.
  • You can’t imagine taking on an assistant because it would take so long to train them how to do everything you need them to do.

If you’re like most bloggers, at least some of those things probably happen every week.

The good news is there are a couple of easy ways to solve all these problems: templates and checklists.

Templates and checklists are used by the biggest blogs out there. (At ProBlogger and Digital Photography School they’re essential to the smooth running of the blogs).

We’ve published plenty of templates and checklists in the past – such as our template for evaluating your blog’s first year (or any year) – and I’ll be linking to some of them in this post.

If you’re worried that using a template or checklist might stifle your creativity, look at it this way: maybe you could be more creative if you had enough structure in place so you can focus on writing your post instead of everything else.

Templates vs Checklists

Templates are great tools for helping you produce a particular piece of content. For instance, you might have:

  • A template for your typical blog posts: You might have a feature image, a short introduction, three to five main points, and a call to action at the end.
  • A template for creating branded images on your blog: You can set this up in your image editing program of choice and use it again and again, dropping in a new image and adding new text as appropriate.
  • A template for replying to certain types of email enquiry. If you need to respond to would-be guest posters, potential advertisers, or even readers asking common questions, it can really help to use a template rather than having to type out a fresh reply from scratch.
  • A template for your email newsletter. Your email service provider probably has plenty of built-in templates you can choose from, so this might be something you already have in place. But if you find it difficult to fill out particular sections, you may want to make some additional notes on their structure.

Checklists give you a series of things to check you’ve completed when undertaking a particular task. For instance, you might have:

  • A checklist for publishing a blog post: This could include things such as giving the post a category, scheduling it at the right time (e.g. “10am Wednesday”) and quickly previewing it to make sure everything looks correct. You can see an example of the CoSchedule checklist we use in this post.
  • A checklist for sending out your email newsletter: This may include things such as sending it to yourself first, making sure the links all work, and double-checking you’re sending it to the right list.
  • A checklist for launching a new product: This might be quite a long checklist, and one you don’t use very frequently. But don’t let that put you off creating it. Product launches involve a lot of moving pieces, and you don’t want to miss something important (or end up stressing out more than necessary).
  • A checklist for editing and uploading your podcast episodes. This is the sort of task you could easily hand off to an assistant. So creating a checklist now might make handing it over much easier in the future.

I’m going to walk you through two very useful resources you can create for yourself: a template for writing your blog posts and a checklist for publishing them.

Creating a Blog Post Template

A very simple blog post template might look like this:

  • Introduction
  • Main body
  • Conclusion

To make your template useful, though, you’ll probably want to make it a bit more detailed than that.

For instance, your template might look like this:

Introduction

  • Feature image
  • Pose a question to the reader (e.g. “How often do you find yourself going to bed later than you meant to?”)
  • Write a few short paragraphs that lead into the post

Main body:

  • Three to five main points, each with a subheading
  • Each point has a “Further reading” or “tip” suggestion at the end, immediately before the subheading for the next point

Conclusion:

  • Sum up the post in two or three sentences
  • Prompt the reader to take action (e.g. “leave a comment to tell us…” or “for more help with this, check out my book on…”)

Your ideal template might look quite different from this. For instance, perhaps you want to have part or all of your introduction before the feature image, or maybe you want to write short posts that have just one or two key points and a very short conclusion.

Have a go at coming up with your own template for your posts. Don’t worry about making it “perfect”. Templates and checklists are living documents that can be tweaked and perfected over time.

You might want to have several varieties of template for different types of post. You could also choose another blogger’s post and break it down into an outline, then use that as the basis for a template.

Creating a Blog Post Publishing Checklist

Once you start using checklists, you’ll find they make your life so much easier. It doesn’t take any longer to glance over a checklist than to call up your mental “checklist” in your head. In fact, you’ll probably find it’s quicker to use the checklist as you won’t be struggling to remember everything.

Many blogs use checklists for common, repeated administrative tasks. And one great task to pick for your first checklist is publishing a blog post.

Here’s how your checklist might look:

  • Copy the edited post into the WordPress editor
  • Add a featured image
  • Include a “read more” tag at an appropriate point (if appropriate for your blog’s theme)
  • Set an appropriate category for the post
  • Set the post’s permalink
  • Preview the post and check that it looks as expected
  • Check all links are working correctly
  • Schedule the post for 10am Wednesday

Of course, you may have different tasks you want to include on your checklist. Perhaps you’ll publish the post straight away and then schedule a tweet about it.

Your checklist may well change over time. Perhaps there’s a task you want to add that you hadn’t originally thought of, or maybe you find a new way of doing something.

Having this type of checklist makes it much easier to work with an assistant, if that’s something you choose to do in the future. You can simply give them the checklist and ask them to work through it for each post, rather than trusting them to remember a long list of instructions you gave them over the phone.

Templates and Checklists for You to Try Out Today

As well as creating your own templates and checklists, you can use ready-made ones. Don’t feel you have to use them exactly as they were created. You can always tweak or modify them to suit your blog.

Here are some great ones to start off with.

Template and checklists (among many more resources) available in our (FREE) Ultimate Guide to Start a Blog Course. Sign up or log in to directly access the checklists below.

Template and checklists (among many more resources) available in our (paid) 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Course. Sign up or login to directly access the checklists below.

Templates and checklists take a bit of up-front time to create, or to modify to your exact needs. But once you have them, you can use them again and again to save time (and stress).

I’d love to hear how you use templates and/or checklists. Do you use any on your blog? How have they helped you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters

The post Using Templates and Checklists to Make Your Blogging Life Easier appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

260: How One Recipe Blogger Turned Her Blog Around with a Simple Mindshift

The post 260: How One Recipe Blogger Turned Her Blog Around with a Simple Mindshift appeared first on ProBlogger.

How a Mindshift Changed One Blogger’s Perspective

This episode of our Blogging Breakthroughs series features eight-year blogger Sarah Cook. Her blog Sustainable Cooks shares recipes, gardening tips, and real food for food people.

Sarah describes how a simple and practical mindshift recently ramped up her efforts as a blogger. She changed her mindset from “me” to “we”.

Blogging mindshift

Most bloggers put the emphasis on themselves, which is natural. But if you want to build a big audience and monetize your blog you should focus on your readers.

You can still inject yourself into your blog. Just remember who is reading, what their lives are like, what role you play in their lives, and how you can help them.

Create an avatar to learn more about your readers. If you have one, revisit and update it. Another option, depending on how brave you are, is to connect with your readers directly.

Before each post Sarah asks herself, “How will this post improve my readers’ lives?”

Keep it real, and show your readers what normal life looks like. Being vulnerable is powerful.

Knowing more about your readers will help drive and reveal your blog’s design, branding, marketing, monetization and content.

Never forget that your readers are human beings, not just numbers.

Links and Resources for How One Recipe Blogger Turned Her Blog Around with a Simple Mindshift:

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Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view

Darren: Welcome to episode 260 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name’s Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com which is a blog, a podcast and a series of courses, eBooks and events even, to help you to become a better blogger. You can find more about ProBlogger at problogger.com. Now today, we’re going into our blogger breakthrough series where we’re sharing stories of bloggers who have had breakthroughs in some way. We’ve had three of these previously and they’ve been really popular. I’ve had a lot of really positive feedback about those episodes.

People seem to like to hear from normal bloggers. I’m not saying I’m not a normal blogger, but normal bloggers who are at different stages of their journey. Today, we’ve got a story from Sarah Cook. Sarah has a blog called Sustainable Cooks. I guess, a bit of a play on her name but also the topic as well. She writes about recipes, and gardening, and I guess doing food from a family perspective in realistic ways.

She will introduce that much better than I did. I love this story. It’s a really short one today and it’s simple on some levels, but it’s incredibly powerful. Sarah has been blogging for eight or so years now. Things have really ramped up in the last year as a result of a mindshift.

Also something really practical that she did. As in similar stories, it is a mindshift type thing that needs to start with, but it’s also a practical. I’m going to let Sarah share that story. As I said, it’s not long. At the end, I want to come back and share a few thoughts and give you a free downloadable resource that you can also use to do the exact thing that Sarah did. You’ll find a link to that on today’s show notes, and you’ll find a full transcription as well as links to Sarah’s blog, the show notes are at problogger.com/podcast/260. If you want to look at Sarah’s blog as you listen, she is at sustainablecooks.com.

Sarah: Hi, I’m Sarah Cook from Seattle, Washington and my blog is Sustainable Cooks. You can find it at www.sustainable cooks.com. I’ve been blogging for eight years though only seriously in the last 11 to 12 months. My blog is all about real food for real people. So we share healthy recipes and gardening tips with realistic expectations about what you can accomplish with kids and family, and things like that. What was blogging like before my breakthrough?

Up until last summer when I started discovering awesome podcasts like yours, I didn’t know a thing about SEO. My photography was so bad that my friends now refer to an old post I have as the poop cookie post because the picture was so terrible. I had seven years of post without a single recipe card. I had self-changed my permalinks and screwed up the redirect, breaking all of my popular posts on Pinterest in the fourth quarter right in time for Christmas, and my site was so slow and not user friendly.

At that time, I only wrote for me and not my reader. I never considered them when I wrote. I was ready to quit because I just wasn’t motivated, and I felt useless. My traffic and my income were a joke. I didn’t understand social media or promotion at all. I would publish a post, out it went, and why it never paid off is only a mystery to me. I put it out there and I figured that was it.

So last May I had two paths in front of me, quit or double down and work really smart and super hard. So my breakthrough actually came about through one of your podcast. They mentioned doing Skype calls with readers and honestly, I thought it was really weird. But I needed practice for Skype for an upcoming project. So I sent it out to my list as a, “Hey, what’s up? Anyone wants to talk?” And I got a lot of interest. During a Skype call with the reader, she started off immediately by saying, “This is how your blog has changed my life.” Just like that I realized these were real people behind the Google analytics, actual human beings and not just numbers.

From there I became obsessed about learning about my audience, what they needed, what made them tick, what made them laugh, and what made them cry. I created an avatar of my reader and I’ve even shared this avatar with them in a post and they all pretty much said, “Yup, that’s me.” Now I write to my avatar. I write to solve her problems and I write right to change her life. What has blogging been like after my breakthrough? The mindshift changed in combination with a giant rebrand, new site design, and professional SEO audit has completely changed the course of my blog.

My traffic is up, I qualified for a premier ad company, and I have purpose and motivation again. I no longer sit down in my laptop and think I have to write a post. I open my computer and I think, this is how this post is going to help my reader’s life today. I am so fired up and I’m still ready to hustle. I never sleep but it’s always worth it because I love this job.

What is a tip to share with your listeners? Shift your mindset from “Me.” to “We.” Think about how your reader will use your content to solve their problems. Maybe your post don’t need so much of a backstory that’s how I used to write, all about me. Because maybe your readers just want the recipe, or perhaps they’re just coming to you to be educated about something. Maybe they want and need new ideas for their family, but they don’t want to feel like Pinterest failures. So while you’re solving their problems, also show them what real life looks like, how it’s realistic. Be true to them by being true to yourself and be helpful.

I have two small boys at home so Thomas, the tank engine is huge in our house, and every day when I sit down at my computer to write, I think tonight I will be really useful. Is there anything else I want to share? Just that your podcasts has been so instrumental in my change and thank you so much.

Darren: What a fantastic story. Thank you so much Sarah for sharing it with us today. I love this story. I love that it’s something that came out of the ProBlogger’s podcast. It’s always really nice to hear those stories of how something that we’ve covered here on the podcast has helped people. Thank you for that. It’s very encouraging to me.

I guess the other thing I love about these story is that it pretty much used a tip that I give every time I get up in front of an audience and talk. I always touch on this even if it’s just in passing.

Firstly, work out who is reading your blog, and secondly work out how you can change their life. For me, this is just central in everything else, and really these are the two questions that I ask when I write a piece of content, but also do a redesign as I think about the products that we create as we do podcast episodes. I’ve got the audience in mind but also the change I’m trying to bring. And so it was really great to hear Sarah articulate that in a slightly different way to the words that I use.

I just want to reemphasize some of Sarah’s points, but I also want to say that there is a resource that you can use to create one of those avatars. I’ll talk about that in a moment but you’ll find a link to that in out show notes as well. So if you want to do the avatar exercise, that is something you can grab for free and we’ll send that to you if you pop in your email address.

A couple of things that Sarah mentioned that I loved. Firstly, change your mindset from “Me” to “We”. Most bloggers do start out with the real emphasis on me, that’s what I did.

My first blog was a personal blog. It’s natural to do that. It’s natural to talk about yourself, your own experiences. Sometimes, I think it’s quite fine for a blog to always be about you. You expressing yourself, you will find some readers are interested in you. I do think you probably want to keep some of you in it forever.

But if your goal is to build a larger audience, to monetize your blog, to sell products, to find advertisers, you’re going to have a much higher success if you do the work that Sarah described and make some transition through thinking about your readers.

That’s not to say that you have to give up talking about you. You can still inject you into your blog but you need to focus more on understanding who is reading, who’s on the other side, who is behind those Google analytics numbers, what their lives are like, what role you’re playing in their life and if you can help them in some way? This is just such a powerful thing to do and to understand. It will reveal so many things to you. It will inform your blog design, it will inform your branding, how you promote your blogging, grow your audience.

It will give you ideas for how to engage people and to get them commenting on your blog or commenting on your social media, they will give you ideas for the type of products you could create, or the type of advertisers that you might reach out to. It’s just such a powerful thing and I guess ultimately it’s also going to inform the content that you create.

Once you nail who is your reader, and what is your role in making their lives better in some way, you need to keep it at the forefront of your mind and this is something I find a lot of bloggers do understand who their audience is, but they don’t revisit as much and it tends to slip off the radar. I love that question that Sarah asked herself before she writes a piece of content, “How will this post improve my reader’s life?” And that’s something that I would encourage you stick it on your screen, your computer screen, make it a screensaver, or do something that’s just going to remind you of who your reader is.

One of the things that I used to do after I did my first avatars was to print them out and put them next to my computer. I would literally look up at my avatar as I was writing content. I would imagine that I was talking to them, and I found that that transformed not only the type of content I created, it suddenly started to be more useful. But it also made me write in that much more personal tone. Whatever you need to do to remind yourself who that reader is whether that’s jumping on a Skype call and like Sarah did with readers once a month. I know Pat Flynn does this every month.

He rings up a reader and has a chat to them, or whether it’s printing out the avatars and keeping them at top of mind all out with it. Running some meetup events where you actually get to meet your readers, all of these things can just trigger you back to remind you of who is on the other side of your content

So take home message today is to do the exercise Sarah mentioned. Create an avatar, if you have not done one before, I wrote an article on how I recommend you do that and that’s a link in today’s show notes, and on that post on that article, there is a downloadable template which you can fill in or use as a basis for your own avatar.

Now if you’ve already done the avatar exercise, I encourage you to revisit it, update it. Your audience may be changing. You may be changing in your focus, you may be changing in how you are changing your reader’s lives. What I’ve found over the years is that my understanding of my readers has deepened. It has changed, my audience particularly on the photography blog has changed, their needs have changed. Revisiting that avatar is a really useful thing to do periodically.

If you’re feeling extra brave, do that exercise that Sarah did. Get on the phone or Skype with a reader. It can be incredibly revealing, and lead to all kinds of unexpected things.

If you want to read my article on creating avatars or if you want to visit Sarah’s blog, head over to the show notes at problogger.com/podcast/260. Again, Sarah’s blog is at sustainablecooks.com.

Last thing, I love what Sarah said, in passing in her story about keeping it real and showing your readers what real life looks like. I’m kind of passionate about this topic at the moment for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, I think it’s just a great thing to do if you blog. It really does build a connection with you and your audience. I can say on Sarah’s blog that she has what she calls confessions posts. She had one for August so this is a confession where she does a series of confessions to her audience and she tells her audience a few things about herself, what she thinks, and what she feels. I can see the reaction to that post is really positive. She gets a lot of reader engagement there. This is her showing her life as it really is.

It’s not just, “Here’s 10 fabulous things I did over the last month.” It is, “Here are things that are going on in my life or things that I feel.” Some of them not just warm and fuzzy, some of them are a little bit more raw.

This is something I’ve been reminded about a lot lately, being vulnerable is just so powerful. I did talk a little bit more about that in episode 255. So if you want to delve into that a little bit more, head over and listen to that episode as well.

The other reason I just love this whole idea of keeping things real is that I just think that we are working in a space where it’s so tempting to just present the good stuff in our lives. The stuff that’s happy, the stuff that we’re proud of and I think that creates something in our culture that is really harmful.

I’m just really passionate about this at the moment. We’ve got to be real with each other. We’ve got to be vulnerable. We’ve actually got a show each other what normal is because if we continue the way that we are at the moment particularly in social media, it leads to comparisons, it leads to unrealistic expectations, and I just think it’s hurting our culture. It’s going to hurt our kids, it’s hurting people around us and it’s leading to a whole lot of issues.

I encourage you to be real. Be a part of breaking some of these stuff that we see going on around us. I think you will not only release yourself and hopefully find a happy place for yourself by letting people know what noble is for you, but I think you have a massive impact on your reader’s lives as well.

Sorry for the side track there. It‘s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately and particularly with the Spark’s 00:15:01 challenge that we’ve been running as a result of my midlife crisis post, it’s not something that’s come out quite a bit there and we had a little Facebook group of people sharing on a daily basis about their lives. Some of the things that people shared were vulnerable and I could see it impacting not only them in sharing it, but the rest of us as well.

That’s my little thought for the day. I hope you do find some of that useful. Again, the show notes are at problogger.com/podcast/260 and lastly, thanks Sarah so much for sharing your story. I’ve got another one for you next week.

You’ve been listening to ProBlogger. If you’d like to comment on any of today’s topics or subscribe to the series, find us at problogger.com/podcast. Tweet us @problogger. Find us at facebook.com/problogger or search ProBlogger on iTunes.

Before I go, I want to give a big shout out and say thank you to Craig Hewitt and the team at Podcast Motor who’s been editing all of our podcast for some time now. Podcast Motor has a great range of services for podcasters at all levels. They can help you to set up your podcast, but also offer a couple of excellent services to help you to edit your shows and get them up with great show notes. Check them out at podcastmotor.com.

How did you go with today’s episode?

Enjoy this podcast? Sign up to our ProBloggerPLUS newsletter to get notified of all new tutorials and podcasts.

The post 260: How One Recipe Blogger Turned Her Blog Around with a Simple Mindshift appeared first on ProBlogger.

260: How One Recipe Blogger Turned Her Blog Around with a Simple Mindshift

The post 260: How One Recipe Blogger Turned Her Blog Around with a Simple Mindshift appeared first on ProBlogger.

How a Mindshift Changed One Blogger’s Perspective

This episode of our Blogging Breakthroughs series features eight-year blogger Sarah Cook. Her blog Sustainable Cooks shares recipes, gardening tips, and real food for food people.

Sarah describes how a simple and practical mindshift recently ramped up her efforts as a blogger. She changed her mindset from “me” to “we”.

Blogging mindshift

Most bloggers put the emphasis on themselves, which is natural. But if you want to build a big audience and monetize your blog you should focus on your readers.

You can still inject yourself into your blog. Just remember who is reading, what their lives are like, what role you play in their lives, and how you can help them.

Create an avatar to learn more about your readers. If you have one, revisit and update it. Another option, depending on how brave you are, is to connect with your readers directly.

Before each post Sarah asks herself, “How will this post improve my readers’ lives?”

Keep it real, and show your readers what normal life looks like. Being vulnerable is powerful.

Knowing more about your readers will help drive and reveal your blog’s design, branding, marketing, monetization and content.

Never forget that your readers are human beings, not just numbers.

Links and Resources for How One Recipe Blogger Turned Her Blog Around with a Simple Mindshift:

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Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view

Darren: Welcome to episode 260 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name’s Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com which is a blog, a podcast and a series of courses, eBooks and events even, to help you to become a better blogger. You can find more about ProBlogger at problogger.com. Now today, we’re going into our blogger breakthrough series where we’re sharing stories of bloggers who have had breakthroughs in some way. We’ve had three of these previously and they’ve been really popular. I’ve had a lot of really positive feedback about those episodes.

People seem to like to hear from normal bloggers. I’m not saying I’m not a normal blogger, but normal bloggers who are at different stages of their journey. Today, we’ve got a story from Sarah Cook. Sarah has a blog called Sustainable Cooks. I guess, a bit of a play on her name but also the topic as well. She writes about recipes, and gardening, and I guess doing food from a family perspective in realistic ways.

She will introduce that much better than I did. I love this story. It’s a really short one today and it’s simple on some levels, but it’s incredibly powerful. Sarah has been blogging for eight or so years now. Things have really ramped up in the last year as a result of a mindshift.

Also something really practical that she did. As in similar stories, it is a mindshift type thing that needs to start with, but it’s also a practical. I’m going to let Sarah share that story. As I said, it’s not long. At the end, I want to come back and share a few thoughts and give you a free downloadable resource that you can also use to do the exact thing that Sarah did. You’ll find a link to that on today’s show notes, and you’ll find a full transcription as well as links to Sarah’s blog, the show notes are at problogger.com/podcast/260. If you want to look at Sarah’s blog as you listen, she is at sustainablecooks.com.

Sarah: Hi, I’m Sarah Cook from Seattle, Washington and my blog is Sustainable Cooks. You can find it at www.sustainable cooks.com. I’ve been blogging for eight years though only seriously in the last 11 to 12 months. My blog is all about real food for real people. So we share healthy recipes and gardening tips with realistic expectations about what you can accomplish with kids and family, and things like that. What was blogging like before my breakthrough?

Up until last summer when I started discovering awesome podcasts like yours, I didn’t know a thing about SEO. My photography was so bad that my friends now refer to an old post I have as the poop cookie post because the picture was so terrible. I had seven years of post without a single recipe card. I had self-changed my permalinks and screwed up the redirect, breaking all of my popular posts on Pinterest in the fourth quarter right in time for Christmas, and my site was so slow and not user friendly.

At that time, I only wrote for me and not my reader. I never considered them when I wrote. I was ready to quit because I just wasn’t motivated, and I felt useless. My traffic and my income were a joke. I didn’t understand social media or promotion at all. I would publish a post, out it went, and why it never paid off is only a mystery to me. I put it out there and I figured that was it.

So last May I had two paths in front of me, quit or double down and work really smart and super hard. So my breakthrough actually came about through one of your podcast. They mentioned doing Skype calls with readers and honestly, I thought it was really weird. But I needed practice for Skype for an upcoming project. So I sent it out to my list as a, “Hey, what’s up? Anyone wants to talk?” And I got a lot of interest. During a Skype call with the reader, she started off immediately by saying, “This is how your blog has changed my life.” Just like that I realized these were real people behind the Google analytics, actual human beings and not just numbers.

From there I became obsessed about learning about my audience, what they needed, what made them tick, what made them laugh, and what made them cry. I created an avatar of my reader and I’ve even shared this avatar with them in a post and they all pretty much said, “Yup, that’s me.” Now I write to my avatar. I write to solve her problems and I write right to change her life. What has blogging been like after my breakthrough? The mindshift changed in combination with a giant rebrand, new site design, and professional SEO audit has completely changed the course of my blog.

My traffic is up, I qualified for a premier ad company, and I have purpose and motivation again. I no longer sit down in my laptop and think I have to write a post. I open my computer and I think, this is how this post is going to help my reader’s life today. I am so fired up and I’m still ready to hustle. I never sleep but it’s always worth it because I love this job.

What is a tip to share with your listeners? Shift your mindset from “Me.” to “We.” Think about how your reader will use your content to solve their problems. Maybe your post don’t need so much of a backstory that’s how I used to write, all about me. Because maybe your readers just want the recipe, or perhaps they’re just coming to you to be educated about something. Maybe they want and need new ideas for their family, but they don’t want to feel like Pinterest failures. So while you’re solving their problems, also show them what real life looks like, how it’s realistic. Be true to them by being true to yourself and be helpful.

I have two small boys at home so Thomas, the tank engine is huge in our house, and every day when I sit down at my computer to write, I think tonight I will be really useful. Is there anything else I want to share? Just that your podcasts has been so instrumental in my change and thank you so much.

Darren: What a fantastic story. Thank you so much Sarah for sharing it with us today. I love this story. I love that it’s something that came out of the ProBlogger’s podcast. It’s always really nice to hear those stories of how something that we’ve covered here on the podcast has helped people. Thank you for that. It’s very encouraging to me.

I guess the other thing I love about these story is that it pretty much used a tip that I give every time I get up in front of an audience and talk. I always touch on this even if it’s just in passing.

Firstly, work out who is reading your blog, and secondly work out how you can change their life. For me, this is just central in everything else, and really these are the two questions that I ask when I write a piece of content, but also do a redesign as I think about the products that we create as we do podcast episodes. I’ve got the audience in mind but also the change I’m trying to bring. And so it was really great to hear Sarah articulate that in a slightly different way to the words that I use.

I just want to reemphasize some of Sarah’s points, but I also want to say that there is a resource that you can use to create one of those avatars. I’ll talk about that in a moment but you’ll find a link to that in out show notes as well. So if you want to do the avatar exercise, that is something you can grab for free and we’ll send that to you if you pop in your email address.

A couple of things that Sarah mentioned that I loved. Firstly, change your mindset from “Me” to “We”. Most bloggers do start out with the real emphasis on me, that’s what I did.

My first blog was a personal blog. It’s natural to do that. It’s natural to talk about yourself, your own experiences. Sometimes, I think it’s quite fine for a blog to always be about you. You expressing yourself, you will find some readers are interested in you. I do think you probably want to keep some of you in it forever.

But if your goal is to build a larger audience, to monetize your blog, to sell products, to find advertisers, you’re going to have a much higher success if you do the work that Sarah described and make some transition through thinking about your readers.

That’s not to say that you have to give up talking about you. You can still inject you into your blog but you need to focus more on understanding who is reading, who’s on the other side, who is behind those Google analytics numbers, what their lives are like, what role you’re playing in their life and if you can help them in some way? This is just such a powerful thing to do and to understand. It will reveal so many things to you. It will inform your blog design, it will inform your branding, how you promote your blogging, grow your audience.

It will give you ideas for how to engage people and to get them commenting on your blog or commenting on your social media, they will give you ideas for the type of products you could create, or the type of advertisers that you might reach out to. It’s just such a powerful thing and I guess ultimately it’s also going to inform the content that you create.

Once you nail who is your reader, and what is your role in making their lives better in some way, you need to keep it at the forefront of your mind and this is something I find a lot of bloggers do understand who their audience is, but they don’t revisit as much and it tends to slip off the radar. I love that question that Sarah asked herself before she writes a piece of content, “How will this post improve my reader’s life?” And that’s something that I would encourage you stick it on your screen, your computer screen, make it a screensaver, or do something that’s just going to remind you of who your reader is.

One of the things that I used to do after I did my first avatars was to print them out and put them next to my computer. I would literally look up at my avatar as I was writing content. I would imagine that I was talking to them, and I found that that transformed not only the type of content I created, it suddenly started to be more useful. But it also made me write in that much more personal tone. Whatever you need to do to remind yourself who that reader is whether that’s jumping on a Skype call and like Sarah did with readers once a month. I know Pat Flynn does this every month.

He rings up a reader and has a chat to them, or whether it’s printing out the avatars and keeping them at top of mind all out with it. Running some meetup events where you actually get to meet your readers, all of these things can just trigger you back to remind you of who is on the other side of your content

So take home message today is to do the exercise Sarah mentioned. Create an avatar, if you have not done one before, I wrote an article on how I recommend you do that and that’s a link in today’s show notes, and on that post on that article, there is a downloadable template which you can fill in or use as a basis for your own avatar.

Now if you’ve already done the avatar exercise, I encourage you to revisit it, update it. Your audience may be changing. You may be changing in your focus, you may be changing in how you are changing your reader’s lives. What I’ve found over the years is that my understanding of my readers has deepened. It has changed, my audience particularly on the photography blog has changed, their needs have changed. Revisiting that avatar is a really useful thing to do periodically.

If you’re feeling extra brave, do that exercise that Sarah did. Get on the phone or Skype with a reader. It can be incredibly revealing, and lead to all kinds of unexpected things.

If you want to read my article on creating avatars or if you want to visit Sarah’s blog, head over to the show notes at problogger.com/podcast/260. Again, Sarah’s blog is at sustainablecooks.com.

Last thing, I love what Sarah said, in passing in her story about keeping it real and showing your readers what real life looks like. I’m kind of passionate about this topic at the moment for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, I think it’s just a great thing to do if you blog. It really does build a connection with you and your audience. I can say on Sarah’s blog that she has what she calls confessions posts. She had one for August so this is a confession where she does a series of confessions to her audience and she tells her audience a few things about herself, what she thinks, and what she feels. I can see the reaction to that post is really positive. She gets a lot of reader engagement there. This is her showing her life as it really is.

It’s not just, “Here’s 10 fabulous things I did over the last month.” It is, “Here are things that are going on in my life or things that I feel.” Some of them not just warm and fuzzy, some of them are a little bit more raw.

This is something I’ve been reminded about a lot lately, being vulnerable is just so powerful. I did talk a little bit more about that in episode 255. So if you want to delve into that a little bit more, head over and listen to that episode as well.

The other reason I just love this whole idea of keeping things real is that I just think that we are working in a space where it’s so tempting to just present the good stuff in our lives. The stuff that’s happy, the stuff that we’re proud of and I think that creates something in our culture that is really harmful.

I’m just really passionate about this at the moment. We’ve got to be real with each other. We’ve got to be vulnerable. We’ve actually got a show each other what normal is because if we continue the way that we are at the moment particularly in social media, it leads to comparisons, it leads to unrealistic expectations, and I just think it’s hurting our culture. It’s going to hurt our kids, it’s hurting people around us and it’s leading to a whole lot of issues.

I encourage you to be real. Be a part of breaking some of these stuff that we see going on around us. I think you will not only release yourself and hopefully find a happy place for yourself by letting people know what noble is for you, but I think you have a massive impact on your reader’s lives as well.

Sorry for the side track there. It‘s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately and particularly with the Spark’s 00:15:01 challenge that we’ve been running as a result of my midlife crisis post, it’s not something that’s come out quite a bit there and we had a little Facebook group of people sharing on a daily basis about their lives. Some of the things that people shared were vulnerable and I could see it impacting not only them in sharing it, but the rest of us as well.

That’s my little thought for the day. I hope you do find some of that useful. Again, the show notes are at problogger.com/podcast/260 and lastly, thanks Sarah so much for sharing your story. I’ve got another one for you next week.

You’ve been listening to ProBlogger. If you’d like to comment on any of today’s topics or subscribe to the series, find us at problogger.com/podcast. Tweet us @problogger. Find us at facebook.com/problogger or search ProBlogger on iTunes.

Before I go, I want to give a big shout out and say thank you to Craig Hewitt and the team at Podcast Motor who’s been editing all of our podcast for some time now. Podcast Motor has a great range of services for podcasters at all levels. They can help you to set up your podcast, but also offer a couple of excellent services to help you to edit your shows and get them up with great show notes. Check them out at podcastmotor.com.

How did you go with today’s episode?

Enjoy this podcast? Sign up to our ProBloggerPLUS newsletter to get notified of all new tutorials and podcasts.

The post 260: How One Recipe Blogger Turned Her Blog Around with a Simple Mindshift appeared first on ProBlogger.

What if You Can’t Find Your Niche?

The post What if You Can’t Find Your Niche? appeared first on ProBlogger.

How to find your niche

Are you struggling to stay motivated with your blog writing about the same thing again and again?

Or are you flitting around between lots of different topics, trying and failing to find one thing you want to write about?

In the old days of blogging, bloggers were often advised to be very specific – define a niche on a very narrow topic (e.g. “iPhone covers”) and become the expert in that particular narrow field.

Thankfully, things are more relaxed these days. Many bloggers have a fairly broad remit, and it’s become far more common to think about having a niche demographic than a niche topic (which I wrote about on ProBlogger way back in 2007).

Of course, bloggers still need some sort of niche. It’s hard to think of any successful blogs that cover every single topic the blogger could possibly be interested in.

But if the path to finding your niche is a little rocky, don’t worry because…

Plenty of Bloggers Don’t Succeed with Their First Idea

There are lots of bloggers out there who took a while to find their niche. Perhaps you’re one of them.

Some bloggers started a blog that took a long time to see traction. It took Chris Brogan eight years to get his first 100 subscribers. And Brian Casel reveals in this post that

My blog received less than 20 visitors a day. My newsletter did not exist. I had been blogging for years, but couldn’t connect with an audience, let alone create a product they might buy.

before he finally gained traction with a three-step strategy.

Other bloggers try several niches before finding the one that’s a perfect fit for them. Johnny B Truant started out writing about weightlifting and running for diabetics, used to set up WordPress blogs, and now runs the publishing business Sterling & Stone alongside Sean Platt.

So if your blog seems to be growing very slowly, or you’ve tried out a couple of niches that just weren’t right for you, take heart. It’s an experience many, many bloggers have faced.

Including me.

When I began blogging in 2002, it was out of curiosity. It wasn’t until a year later that I started my first photography blog (a camera review blog thatI later re-launched as Digital Photography School). And during 2004 I started a lot of different blogs – it got up to 30 at one point. I launched ProBlogger in September 2004, and it wasn’t until 2005 that I went full time. (You can read the full story here.)

Finding Your Niche

There’s no magic way to find the perfect niche for you. But here are some questions you might like think about that could help you choose.

  • What have you already tried in terms of blogging? Were there any aspects of it that you particularly enjoyed? Maybe you had a blog about meal planning that you struggled to feel interested in, but loved writing a post about cooking alongside your kids.
  • What blogs or magazines do you read? Could you write about similar topics?
  • What topics can you imagine yourself talking about or writing about for years to come?
  • What sort of blog would feel like “you”? If your current topic seems like an uncomfortable fit, something you wouldn’t want to talk to your friends about, then maybe it isn’t right for you.

I know many bloggers feel they don’t want to confine themselves to a single niche.

If that’s you, maybe you’d find it helpful to focus on your audience instead of on a particular topic. For instance, you might want to write for “parents” or “retirees”, covering multiple topics that would be of interest to that audience.

For more help finding your niche, listen to my podcast on how to decide what your blog should be about, which covers 15 great questions to ask yourself.

Are Your Early Blogging Efforts Wasted?

If you’ve been working hard for months or even years on a blog only to decide your heart really isn’t in it, you might find it very hard to let go.

It can feel like all those words and all that effort to grow your mailing list or to increase your pageviews were a waste of time.

But there’s a different way to look at it. All that work was vital in getting you to where you are right now, and none of it was wasted. The skills you learned, from setting up WordPress to crafting great blog post titles, will be a huge help to you with your next blog.

(If you decide to start a completely new blog, rather than changing direction with your existing one, you might also want to look into selling your first blog.)

When Thomas Edison was working on his nickel-iron storage batteries, he told a reporter, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”.

Hopefully you won’t need to go through 10,000 blogs before finding your niche. But you may well need to try out a few wrong paths or false starts before finding the best way forward for you.

Is it Time to Change Direction, or Start Something New?

As you’ve been reading this post, you may think your blog just isn’t a good fit for you anymore. You’re struggling with motivation to write there. Perhaps you got into that niche because you thought it would make money. Or perhaps you picked a topic that interested you a couple of years ago, but is no longer something you find engaging.

Is it time for a change of direction? You could refocus your existing blog. Or you could launch something completely new.

If you’re going to start a new blog, check out these podcast episodes:

Even better, you can work through our (completely free) Start a Blog Course. Sign up here and get started straight away.

If you’re going to refocus or even relaunch your existing blog (especially if you haven’t written much, or anything, for a while), listen to our podcast episode on how to relaunch a dormant blog.

Finally, if you’d like a hand brainstorming about your new niche, come over to the ProBlogger Community group on Facebook. (Start your post with the hashtag #ask, so we know it’s a question.) We’ll be glad to help you.

Image credit: Tim Mossholder

The post What if You Can’t Find Your Niche? appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

259: How This Home Cooking Blogger is Replacing Her Lawyer Income with Her Blogging Income

The post 259: How This Home Cooking Blogger is Replacing Her Lawyer Income with Her Blogging Income appeared first on ProBlogger.

How a Lawyer’s Home Cooking Blog is Helping Her Replace Her Law Income

Libby Hakim features in the fourth episode of our Blogging Breakthroughs series, where listeners share stories about traffic, income, mindset, and other blogging areas.

Libby has a new blog, Cooking with Nana Ling, which focuses on home cooking based on her great-grandmother’s recipes.

Home cooking blogger

Before her blog, Libby was working a part-time legal job and had two small children.

But with her blog, Libby has experienced four mini breakthroughs:

  1. Mindshift: Presumed she would never make more than she would as a lawyer, but started to believe she could make a living by blogging.
  2. What to Blog About: Had heaps of ideas, but got tired of them. Her cooking blog gives her and others joy and happiness, so she has been able to sustain it.
  3. Overcoming Perfection: Launch deadline makes you commit to moving forward with your blog, even if you don’t think it’s good enough yet.
  4. Like-New Blogs: Don’t compare yourself to bloggers who’ve been around awhile. You’ll evolve your writing and the way your blog looks.

With blogging, you’ve got to start somewhere to develop a sense of purpose and enjoy what you do. Don’t give up. Keep going. Breakthroughs lead to something special.

Links and Resources for How This Home Cooking Blogger is Replacing Her Lawyer Income with Her Blogging Income:

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Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view

Darren: Hey, there and welcome to episode 259 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse, and I’m the founder of ProBlogger. You can find out more about what we do in helping the bloggers start blogs and monetize their blogs at problogger.com.

Today is the fourth installment in our blogger breakthrough series where we’re sharing stories from listeners of the podcast in how they had different kinds of breakthroughs in their blogging. Today’s story comes from a blogger who’s relatively new to blogging. She started blogging six months ago using our Start A Blog course, which you can find the link to in today’s show notes.

The blogger that I want to introduce you to today, her name is Libby Hakim. She’s got a fascinating blog. I love the topic of this blog. The title is Cooking With Nana Ling. I’ll let her introduce where the blog idea came from because that is part of the breakthrough that she wants to share today. But I just love this story because it is from a new blogger who’s already got to a point where she’s reaching some of her dreams in being able to give up other work and focus on her blogging. She’s still got a way to go, but she’s well on the way. The blog itself is a beautifully designed blog and just has a great concept.

You’re going to hear four blogging breakthroughs today–just four short ones. At the end of Libby’s story, I’m going to come back and pull out a few of the things that I noticed about it. Libby’s another Aussie, so you’re going to hear a bit of an Aussie accent. You might hear a few words that I use from time to time as well, which is fun and at the end, I’ll come back and share some thoughts. You can find today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/259. You’ll find a full transcript there as well. Thanks, Libby. I’ll hand it over to you.

Libby: Hi, there. My name’s Libby Hakim, and I’m from Sydney, Australia. My blog is called Cooking With Nana Ling. You can find it at www.cookingwithnanaling.com. My blog is only six months old, and as you probably guessed, it’s about cooking, more specifically, it’s about home cooking. It’s based around the recipes my Nana Ling—who is my great-grandmother—wrote down in the late 1930s, and early 1940s. I inherited her vast collection of handwritten recipes. The blog is about recreating those recipes, but also inspiring other people to enjoy home cooking.

My breakthrough story isn’t about one big breakthrough moment. I’ve broken it up into four little mini breakthroughs. It was those little breakthroughs that really took me from being someone who is skeptical about blogging, and thought basically, was a fantasy, to someone who can justify spending a day each week on a blog. I’m really hopeful, as time goes forward, that I’ll be able to devote even more of my working week to blogging.

Just to set the scene, before my first mini-breakthrough, I was working part-time as a lawyer. I had two small children, and work-wise, I wasn’t feeling particularly satisfied. It was very difficult to work part-time in the legal profession, but that was something that I’ve trained for many years. It was something I’ve been doing for many years, and I didn’t really feel I had many other options.

During my second round of maternity leave, I’d taken a course in writing for magazines and newspapers. That was going really well as a little hobby or side business, it’s something I really loved writing, and part of that meant soaking up lots of new information. I was listening to a heap of podcasts, and one of those was ProBlogger. I really loved listening to ProBlogger even though I wasn’t blogging. I think I always had that little dream that, well, imagine being able to blog for a living? But that was when I was still in this mindset that blogging was just a fantasy.

One day, I was having a particularly bad day in my legal job, so I took myself off to have a lovely lunch at a restaurant in the Sydney CBD. I put my earplugs in, and I listened to the latest ProBlogger podcast to cheer myself up. As I was listening to that podcast, Darren actually described how he wasn’t really making any money from blogging in the early days, and his wife was the breadwinner. She was the lawyer.

It came to a point though where he had to give himself a bit of an ultimatum, and start making money or actually get a real job. Then he described how he did actually start making money from blogging, and then he started making more money than his wife was earning as a lawyer. That was a real mind shift for me because I’d always just presumed that I would never make as much money doing anything else than I would by practicing law. I think in that episode, he also went on to describe how his wife actually ended up leaving law and becoming a blogger herself.

That was just a massive, massive mind shift for me. I started to think, “Perhaps I could actually make writing and blogging a career.” It did actually take a couple of years, but I did end up leaving my part-time legal job to become a writer. I have my own copywriting and freelance writing business. I was writing blogs for lots of big business, big brands, and I really, really loved that career, but after my youngest daughter went to school, and I had a little bit more time on my hands, I kept going back to that idea that I would love to have my own standalone blog that I could learn from, that I could grow, and I could have fun with.

Then I went into the next hurdle—which I had to go through with one of my mini-breakthroughs—the next hurdle was, “What to blog about?” I had heaps of ideas, but all of them I got sort of tired of after about a week. There was one idea that I actually got to the stage where I’ve built a blog, I wrote some posts, it was about juggling parenting and career. But I was just so tired of that topic by the time I was ready to launch it, that I never launched it, it just drained me of energy. I couldn’t be enthusiastic about going out there and putting this blog out.

The idea for my Cooking With Nana Ling blog didn’t really come from sitting down, and brainstorming topics I could possibly blog about, it actually came to me from an Instagram post. Last Christmas, I remembered I had my great Nana Ling’s recipe books tucked away, the handwritten recipe books. She was very thorough. She’s dated all the recipes, she included all the instructions, and there are literally, hundreds of recipes there that she’s collected over the years. I sat down with those books, and it just filled me with such joy to look through these recipes.

I ended up cooking up a Christmas pudding, and it went wonderfully. It was the first time I’ve ever had success cooking a Christmas pudding. Then, of course, I bragged about it on Instagram, and I also included the page from her recipe book. It just got this overwhelming response. Some actually wonder that I actually had these recipe books, and how lovely it was that I could recreate the recipe nearly 80 years later.

That really was the start of my idea for the Cooking With Nana Ling blog. As I thought about the blog, I just had more and more ideas, and I got more and more excited about it. It just filled me with so much enthusiasm and happiness. That’s how I came across the topic and got past that hurdle of actually finding a topic that I knew I would stick with.

In the early days obviously, you’re not going to have a lot of readers. You need to really enjoy what you’re doing. Otherwise, it can all feel a bit pointless. It’s very time-consuming, so you need to be able to justify to yourself why you’re spending so much time on a blog. Well, I did, at least, because I’ve got two young children. I need to earn money. In the early days and still, I don’t earn a lot from the blog. To have a sense of purpose, and to really enjoy what I do, is really important. This idea just fitted with the rest of my life.

I always enjoyed home cooking. But the few years before I started the blog, I felt like I didn’t get enough time to actually, cook. The blog is also another way of getting me back in the routine of cooking and spending time in the kitchen.

The next two breakthroughs were really about overcoming my sense of having to have everything perfect. The next breakthrough was actually, having a launch deadline. I enrolled in the Start A Blog course with ProBlogger, and that included a launch deadline which was really important for me because I probably would’ve spent the next six months or more getting the blog just how I liked it. I was adding little bits and pieces, always changing things. But to have a launch deadline mean that I can focus on that date and I was very committed to launching the blog on that date. But even though I had that date, I was still feeling really nervous about launching the blog. I felt it wasn’t good enough.

My next little mini-breakthrough—the final breakthrough—came when Darren, actually reminded us during the course that our blogs would look like new blogs, they weren’t going to look like an established blog, and that sounds very obvious. But I was comparing myself to existing bloggers. I was comparing my blog to blogs that have been around for at least a few years. That made me realize, “I just had to launch this thing, and it’s going to look like a new blog.” that finally got me over the line where I actually, launched a blog. I can say now that you have to start somewhere.

Since I started my blog six months ago, I’ve been on TV. I was on the Channel 7 program, and I had celebrity chef Zoe Bingley-Pullin visit my house and cook with me. Even to be speaking and asked to speak on this podcast, I just would not have imagined that when I first launched the blog. You just got to start somewhere. I’m really grateful that I just kept going with the idea of the blog and that I may not have had one big breakthrough moment, but I kept going, and all these little breakthroughs led to something that I’m just so excited about.

Just to finish off, I guess my message would be, to just keep that dream of having a blog alive. Find a topic that you really, really care about, and that gives you lots of ideas and energy. Thanks, everyone for listening. Thank you so much, Darren and the ProBlogger team for having me on the podcast.

Darren: Thanks so much for sharing your story today, Libby. That is a great story. I really love the way that you came along that topic. It really connects with a lot of what I have taught in the past about how to choose what to blog about. I’ve been through the process of starting 30 or so blogs over the years, and the ones that fell over quickly were all ones that stole energy from my life; the ones that have continued have been the ones that not only gave energy to other people but also gave energy to me.

I really love that in your story that you did that little experiment in putting that Instagram post up there. Whether you thought that it could become a blog when you put that up or not, it gave you a spark, but it also gave your potential readers, your friends, and family a spark as well. They are the type of things that I really encourage people to take note of, “What’s giving you energy?” If it’s giving you energy, you’re going to be able to sustain it for the long term; if other people are getting energy too, then that’s the perfect storm, really.

I love that also, Libby mentions in her story, that the first breakthrough was one in her mind–it was a mind shift. I really want to emphasize that because a lot of the breakthroughs that I’ve had over the years haven’t actually been about anything that I’ve done necessarily, but it’s a new way of thinking about things; so beginning to treat my blog not as a hobby but as a business, thinking about my readers and who they are—that was a new mind shift—not thinking about myself, but thinking about who my readers were–these types of mind shifts can really have a profound impact because it changes your actions. As you’re listening to this series, I encourage you to listen to the shifts that happen in the blogger’s minds that often precede the change in behavior.

The third and fourth breakthroughs that Libby shared revolved around getting things launched. I love the fact that she did take notice of what we taught in the course–of setting a launch deadline. This is something that I’ve noticed, numerous times, when I’ve talked to bloggers who’ve gone through the full course and have actually, come out the other end with an actual blog is that they do set the launch deadline.

One of the traps that many bloggers fall into is that they spend so long getting their blog ready to launch, that they lose the passion for the blog in the process. That’s something I’ve heard countless times over the years, so get something up. As Libby says there, you don’t have to have it looking perfect when you get it launched. It’s going to look like a new blog. All our blogs, when you first start them, they all look different to the way they are today, they all look different to a more established blog, and that’s only natural. You will evolve the look of your blog. You’ll evolve your writing. You’ll evolve your logo. Just get something online because that will enable you to start writing. That’s often where the energy begins to flow, and that will keep you going through evolving the rest of your blog, as well.

Thanks so much, Libby for sharing today. You can find Libby’s blog  cookingwithnanaling.com. You’ll find the link to that in our show notes today, you’ll also find the link to our Start A Blog course which we’ve had so many bloggers go through. I’m just so proud of the fact that we’ve seen hundreds, it’s probably in the thousands now, of bloggers start a blog as a result of that free course. It’s completely free. You can find it at problogger.com/start-a-blog. I’ll link to that in the show notes as well because it is a bit of a mouthful.

If you go to problogger.com, you’ll see our courses tab, and you’ll find a link to it there. It’s completely free. It’s quite comprehensive. It walks you through the technicalities of setting up a blog, but also some of the mind shift type stuff that you might want to think about as well.

What I think is a good foundation, to be able to monetize later, we don’t get into monetization so much in the course, that comes later on. But you’ll set up a blog that not only is technically sound and stable but also hopefully, it will help you to choose a topic that could be profitable later, and could actually, be sustainable in the long term as well. Check out the Start A Blog course. There’s no cost at all, so there’s no harm in giving it a go.

Thanks so much for listening today. Again, our show notes today are at problogger.com/podcast/259. Special thanks again to Libby Hakim.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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The post 259: How This Home Cooking Blogger is Replacing Her Lawyer Income with Her Blogging Income appeared first on ProBlogger.

259: How This Home Cooking Blogger is Replacing Her Lawyer Income with Her Blogging Income

The post 259: How This Home Cooking Blogger is Replacing Her Lawyer Income with Her Blogging Income appeared first on ProBlogger.

How a Lawyer’s Home Cooking Blog is Helping Her Replace Her Law Income

Libby Hakim features in the fourth episode of our Blogging Breakthroughs series, where listeners share stories about traffic, income, mindset, and other blogging areas.

Libby has a new blog, Cooking with Nana Ling, which focuses on home cooking based on her great-grandmother’s recipes.

Home cooking blogger

Before her blog, Libby was working a part-time legal job and had two small children.

But with her blog, Libby has experienced four mini breakthroughs:

  1. Mindshift: Presumed she would never make more than she would as a lawyer, but started to believe she could make a living by blogging.
  2. What to Blog About: Had heaps of ideas, but got tired of them. Her cooking blog gives her and others joy and happiness, so she has been able to sustain it.
  3. Overcoming Perfection: Launch deadline makes you commit to moving forward with your blog, even if you don’t think it’s good enough yet.
  4. Like-New Blogs: Don’t compare yourself to bloggers who’ve been around awhile. You’ll evolve your writing and the way your blog looks.

With blogging, you’ve got to start somewhere to develop a sense of purpose and enjoy what you do. Don’t give up. Keep going. Breakthroughs lead to something special.

Links and Resources for How This Home Cooking Blogger is Replacing Her Lawyer Income with Her Blogging Income:

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Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view

Darren: Hey, there and welcome to episode 259 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse, and I’m the founder of ProBlogger. You can find out more about what we do in helping the bloggers start blogs and monetize their blogs at problogger.com.

Today is the fourth installment in our blogger breakthrough series where we’re sharing stories from listeners of the podcast in how they had different kinds of breakthroughs in their blogging. Today’s story comes from a blogger who’s relatively new to blogging. She started blogging six months ago using our Start A Blog course, which you can find the link to in today’s show notes.

The blogger that I want to introduce you to today, her name is Libby Hakim. She’s got a fascinating blog. I love the topic of this blog. The title is Cooking With Nana Ling. I’ll let her introduce where the blog idea came from because that is part of the breakthrough that she wants to share today. But I just love this story because it is from a new blogger who’s already got to a point where she’s reaching some of her dreams in being able to give up other work and focus on her blogging. She’s still got a way to go, but she’s well on the way. The blog itself is a beautifully designed blog and just has a great concept.

You’re going to hear four blogging breakthroughs today–just four short ones. At the end of Libby’s story, I’m going to come back and pull out a few of the things that I noticed about it. Libby’s another Aussie, so you’re going to hear a bit of an Aussie accent. You might hear a few words that I use from time to time as well, which is fun and at the end, I’ll come back and share some thoughts. You can find today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/259. You’ll find a full transcript there as well. Thanks, Libby. I’ll hand it over to you.

Libby: Hi, there. My name’s Libby Hakim, and I’m from Sydney, Australia. My blog is called Cooking With Nana Ling. You can find it at www.cookingwithnanaling.com. My blog is only six months old, and as you probably guessed, it’s about cooking, more specifically, it’s about home cooking. It’s based around the recipes my Nana Ling—who is my great-grandmother—wrote down in the late 1930s, and early 1940s. I inherited her vast collection of handwritten recipes. The blog is about recreating those recipes, but also inspiring other people to enjoy home cooking.

My breakthrough story isn’t about one big breakthrough moment. I’ve broken it up into four little mini breakthroughs. It was those little breakthroughs that really took me from being someone who is skeptical about blogging, and thought basically, was a fantasy, to someone who can justify spending a day each week on a blog. I’m really hopeful, as time goes forward, that I’ll be able to devote even more of my working week to blogging.

Just to set the scene, before my first mini-breakthrough, I was working part-time as a lawyer. I had two small children, and work-wise, I wasn’t feeling particularly satisfied. It was very difficult to work part-time in the legal profession, but that was something that I’ve trained for many years. It was something I’ve been doing for many years, and I didn’t really feel I had many other options.

During my second round of maternity leave, I’d taken a course in writing for magazines and newspapers. That was going really well as a little hobby or side business, it’s something I really loved writing, and part of that meant soaking up lots of new information. I was listening to a heap of podcasts, and one of those was ProBlogger. I really loved listening to ProBlogger even though I wasn’t blogging. I think I always had that little dream that, well, imagine being able to blog for a living? But that was when I was still in this mindset that blogging was just a fantasy.

One day, I was having a particularly bad day in my legal job, so I took myself off to have a lovely lunch at a restaurant in the Sydney CBD. I put my earplugs in, and I listened to the latest ProBlogger podcast to cheer myself up. As I was listening to that podcast, Darren actually described how he wasn’t really making any money from blogging in the early days, and his wife was the breadwinner. She was the lawyer.

It came to a point though where he had to give himself a bit of an ultimatum, and start making money or actually get a real job. Then he described how he did actually start making money from blogging, and then he started making more money than his wife was earning as a lawyer. That was a real mind shift for me because I’d always just presumed that I would never make as much money doing anything else than I would by practicing law. I think in that episode, he also went on to describe how his wife actually ended up leaving law and becoming a blogger herself.

That was just a massive, massive mind shift for me. I started to think, “Perhaps I could actually make writing and blogging a career.” It did actually take a couple of years, but I did end up leaving my part-time legal job to become a writer. I have my own copywriting and freelance writing business. I was writing blogs for lots of big business, big brands, and I really, really loved that career, but after my youngest daughter went to school, and I had a little bit more time on my hands, I kept going back to that idea that I would love to have my own standalone blog that I could learn from, that I could grow, and I could have fun with.

Then I went into the next hurdle—which I had to go through with one of my mini-breakthroughs—the next hurdle was, “What to blog about?” I had heaps of ideas, but all of them I got sort of tired of after about a week. There was one idea that I actually got to the stage where I’ve built a blog, I wrote some posts, it was about juggling parenting and career. But I was just so tired of that topic by the time I was ready to launch it, that I never launched it, it just drained me of energy. I couldn’t be enthusiastic about going out there and putting this blog out.

The idea for my Cooking With Nana Ling blog didn’t really come from sitting down, and brainstorming topics I could possibly blog about, it actually came to me from an Instagram post. Last Christmas, I remembered I had my great Nana Ling’s recipe books tucked away, the handwritten recipe books. She was very thorough. She’s dated all the recipes, she included all the instructions, and there are literally, hundreds of recipes there that she’s collected over the years. I sat down with those books, and it just filled me with such joy to look through these recipes.

I ended up cooking up a Christmas pudding, and it went wonderfully. It was the first time I’ve ever had success cooking a Christmas pudding. Then, of course, I bragged about it on Instagram, and I also included the page from her recipe book. It just got this overwhelming response. Some actually wonder that I actually had these recipe books, and how lovely it was that I could recreate the recipe nearly 80 years later.

That really was the start of my idea for the Cooking With Nana Ling blog. As I thought about the blog, I just had more and more ideas, and I got more and more excited about it. It just filled me with so much enthusiasm and happiness. That’s how I came across the topic and got past that hurdle of actually finding a topic that I knew I would stick with.

In the early days obviously, you’re not going to have a lot of readers. You need to really enjoy what you’re doing. Otherwise, it can all feel a bit pointless. It’s very time-consuming, so you need to be able to justify to yourself why you’re spending so much time on a blog. Well, I did, at least, because I’ve got two young children. I need to earn money. In the early days and still, I don’t earn a lot from the blog. To have a sense of purpose, and to really enjoy what I do, is really important. This idea just fitted with the rest of my life.

I always enjoyed home cooking. But the few years before I started the blog, I felt like I didn’t get enough time to actually, cook. The blog is also another way of getting me back in the routine of cooking and spending time in the kitchen.

The next two breakthroughs were really about overcoming my sense of having to have everything perfect. The next breakthrough was actually, having a launch deadline. I enrolled in the Start A Blog course with ProBlogger, and that included a launch deadline which was really important for me because I probably would’ve spent the next six months or more getting the blog just how I liked it. I was adding little bits and pieces, always changing things. But to have a launch deadline mean that I can focus on that date and I was very committed to launching the blog on that date. But even though I had that date, I was still feeling really nervous about launching the blog. I felt it wasn’t good enough.

My next little mini-breakthrough—the final breakthrough—came when Darren, actually reminded us during the course that our blogs would look like new blogs, they weren’t going to look like an established blog, and that sounds very obvious. But I was comparing myself to existing bloggers. I was comparing my blog to blogs that have been around for at least a few years. That made me realize, “I just had to launch this thing, and it’s going to look like a new blog.” that finally got me over the line where I actually, launched a blog. I can say now that you have to start somewhere.

Since I started my blog six months ago, I’ve been on TV. I was on the Channel 7 program, and I had celebrity chef Zoe Bingley-Pullin visit my house and cook with me. Even to be speaking and asked to speak on this podcast, I just would not have imagined that when I first launched the blog. You just got to start somewhere. I’m really grateful that I just kept going with the idea of the blog and that I may not have had one big breakthrough moment, but I kept going, and all these little breakthroughs led to something that I’m just so excited about.

Just to finish off, I guess my message would be, to just keep that dream of having a blog alive. Find a topic that you really, really care about, and that gives you lots of ideas and energy. Thanks, everyone for listening. Thank you so much, Darren and the ProBlogger team for having me on the podcast.

Darren: Thanks so much for sharing your story today, Libby. That is a great story. I really love the way that you came along that topic. It really connects with a lot of what I have taught in the past about how to choose what to blog about. I’ve been through the process of starting 30 or so blogs over the years, and the ones that fell over quickly were all ones that stole energy from my life; the ones that have continued have been the ones that not only gave energy to other people but also gave energy to me.

I really love that in your story that you did that little experiment in putting that Instagram post up there. Whether you thought that it could become a blog when you put that up or not, it gave you a spark, but it also gave your potential readers, your friends, and family a spark as well. They are the type of things that I really encourage people to take note of, “What’s giving you energy?” If it’s giving you energy, you’re going to be able to sustain it for the long term; if other people are getting energy too, then that’s the perfect storm, really.

I love that also, Libby mentions in her story, that the first breakthrough was one in her mind–it was a mind shift. I really want to emphasize that because a lot of the breakthroughs that I’ve had over the years haven’t actually been about anything that I’ve done necessarily, but it’s a new way of thinking about things; so beginning to treat my blog not as a hobby but as a business, thinking about my readers and who they are—that was a new mind shift—not thinking about myself, but thinking about who my readers were–these types of mind shifts can really have a profound impact because it changes your actions. As you’re listening to this series, I encourage you to listen to the shifts that happen in the blogger’s minds that often precede the change in behavior.

The third and fourth breakthroughs that Libby shared revolved around getting things launched. I love the fact that she did take notice of what we taught in the course–of setting a launch deadline. This is something that I’ve noticed, numerous times, when I’ve talked to bloggers who’ve gone through the full course and have actually, come out the other end with an actual blog is that they do set the launch deadline.

One of the traps that many bloggers fall into is that they spend so long getting their blog ready to launch, that they lose the passion for the blog in the process. That’s something I’ve heard countless times over the years, so get something up. As Libby says there, you don’t have to have it looking perfect when you get it launched. It’s going to look like a new blog. All our blogs, when you first start them, they all look different to the way they are today, they all look different to a more established blog, and that’s only natural. You will evolve the look of your blog. You’ll evolve your writing. You’ll evolve your logo. Just get something online because that will enable you to start writing. That’s often where the energy begins to flow, and that will keep you going through evolving the rest of your blog, as well.

Thanks so much, Libby for sharing today. You can find Libby’s blog  cookingwithnanaling.com. You’ll find the link to that in our show notes today, you’ll also find the link to our Start A Blog course which we’ve had so many bloggers go through. I’m just so proud of the fact that we’ve seen hundreds, it’s probably in the thousands now, of bloggers start a blog as a result of that free course. It’s completely free. You can find it at problogger.com/start-a-blog. I’ll link to that in the show notes as well because it is a bit of a mouthful.

If you go to problogger.com, you’ll see our courses tab, and you’ll find a link to it there. It’s completely free. It’s quite comprehensive. It walks you through the technicalities of setting up a blog, but also some of the mind shift type stuff that you might want to think about as well.

What I think is a good foundation, to be able to monetize later, we don’t get into monetization so much in the course, that comes later on. But you’ll set up a blog that not only is technically sound and stable but also hopefully, it will help you to choose a topic that could be profitable later, and could actually, be sustainable in the long term as well. Check out the Start A Blog course. There’s no cost at all, so there’s no harm in giving it a go.

Thanks so much for listening today. Again, our show notes today are at problogger.com/podcast/259. Special thanks again to Libby Hakim.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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The post 259: How This Home Cooking Blogger is Replacing Her Lawyer Income with Her Blogging Income appeared first on ProBlogger.

7 Ways to Start Building an Audience for Your New Blog

The post 7 Ways to Start Building an Audience for Your New Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

7 ways to start building an audience for your new blog

It’s a problem every new blogger faces, and it can seem insurmountable.

How do you build an audience when no-one knows who you are?

There’s plenty of good advice out there (so much that it might seem a bit overwhelming). So in today’s post I’m sharing seven straightforward but effective ways to start building an audience for your new blog.

#1: Tell Your Family and Friends

This might seem obvious, but does your current network know about your blog?

If not, post about it on Facebook or send an email to your personal contacts. Don’t feel awkward about doing this. It doesn’t need to be pushy or spammy, and you may find you have more in common with your current connections than you thought.

If you’re not sure what to write, try something like this:

Hello. I’ve just started a blog (www.nameofblog.com) about [topic]. I don’t know if it’s something you’d be interested in, but if it is I’d love any feedback. If not, I’d be really grateful if you could spread the word to any of your friends who might enjoy it.

Thanks.

[your name]

Tip: There’s one big caveat here. If your blog’s topic is likely to be controversial within your friendship or family group, you might want to be selective about who you share it with, at least until you find your feet and feel more confident about blogging.

#2: Comment on Other People’s Blogs

Even though much of the conversation that used to happen in blog comments now takes place on social media, commenting on other people’s blogs can still be effective in the early days of a blog.

In fact, low comment numbers can actually help you because your comment will stand out more.

If you’re not sure how commenting can bring visitors to your blog, here’s how it works.

You fill in your name, email address (which only the blogger can see) and your blog’s URL, as well as writing the comment itself. Your name then becomes a link to your blog that anyone can click on to visit your site.

Tip: However tempting it might be, don’t put in a keyword or phrase as your name (e.g. “Best Parenting Tips”). Use your actual name or whatever pseudonym you blog under. Otherwise your comment might well get deleted as spam. And by default most WordPress comments sections apply the “nofollow” attribute to all links, so there’s no point in commenting just to create a backlink to your blog.

#3: Join Facebook Groups for Bloggers

There are loads of great Facebook groups out there aimed at bloggers. And if you’re not already a member, why not join the ProBlogger Community?

Groups are a great way to meet other bloggers who are just starting out, or who have been blogging only for a few weeks. You can ask others how they’re getting traffic, and you may well meet some friendly bloggers who can become new companions for your blogging journey. If they write about the same sorts of topics as you, they may even be happy to share your posts with their growing audience. And you can return the favour for them.

Tip: Be careful not to come across as self-serving or spammy in groups. Don’t just post “Here’s my blog, please come and visit it” or similar. Respond to other people who are looking for help and support too. Make sure you check any rules for the group (look for a “sticky” post at the top of the group’s news feed) before posting.

#4: Put Your Blog’s URL in Your Social Media Bios

On almost every social media site, you’ll have the option to include a website link. Sometimes (such as on Twitter) this is quite prominent. On other sites (such as Facebook) it’s less so, but it’s still there.

Make sure you include the link to your blog on any social media accounts you already have. It only takes a minute, and someone glancing at your profile might decide to check it out.

Here’s how the website link appears on Twitter:

URL in Twitter bio

Tip: Depending on how you use social media, you might want to set up new accounts, profiles or pages for you personally vs you as a blogger. On Facebook, for example, it definitely makes sense to have a page for your blog that people can “like” rather than using your personal profile where you need to “friend” everyone back. (Once you start getting dozens or hundreds of readers, it quickly becomes unsustainable.)

#5: Answer Questions on Forums

One way to get an audience is to go where your audience already exists. A great place to try is Quora – a site where members ask questions on all sorts of topics. There are bound to be lots of questions relating to your chosen topic, and by answering them you can encourage people to check out your blog.

It’s not just new bloggers who use this method either. You’ll find some big names on Quora such as blogger Neil Patel and novelist Orson Scott Card.

Tip: Don’t just post “That’s a great question, and you can read my thoughts about it on my blog”. You need to answer the actual question someone asks (preferably with lots of detail) if you want your answer to get “upvoted” as a popular one.

#6: Take Part in Twitter Chats

Twitter chats happen for a specific length of time (normally one hour) on a specific date (normally weekly). You take part simply by adding the chat’s chosen hashtag (such as “#blogchat” or “#socialbloggers”) to your tweets.

This can be a great way to meet new people with similar interests to you. And chances are you’ll pick up a bunch of new Twitter followers. Of course, make sure you follow anyone in the chat who you’re interested in getting to know, too.

There’s a huge list of Twitter chats on TweetReports, which you can search by topic (e.g. “blogging”).

Tip: As with any method for finding new readers, don’t be spammy. If you’re new to a particular chat, spend some time listening as well as tweeting. And don’t share a link to your blog or a post on your blog unless other people are doing so.

#7: Write Guest Posts for Other Blogs

This is often a very effective method for getting new readers, especially in the early days of a blog when every reader counts. I know some bloggers feel they’re too new to guest post, but the reality is that host blogs don’t normally care how large an audience you have. They just want a well-written post.

When you guest post, you get to “borrow” someone else’s audience while they read your post on the host’s blog. And if they like what you wrote, at least some of those readers will click on the link in your guest post bio to read your blog.

Tip: If you want to know more about guest posting, check out 7 Powerful Non-SEO Reasons to Try Guest Posting and Find and Pitch the Perfect Guest Posting Opportunities.

When you’re just starting out (or when you’re returning to blogging after a break), finding even a handful of readers can feel like a huge challenge. Try at least one of the methods I’ve suggested, and see how you get on. If you’re looking for even more actionable strategies, check out the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog course to get more momentum for your blog.

 

Image credit: Kyle Glenn

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