Author: Laney Galligan

5 Blogging Lessons You Can Learn from a Small Country Town

The post 5 Blogging Lessons You Can Learn from a Small Country Town appeared first on ProBlogger.

Blogging lessons you can learn from a small country townLooking for the fast lane to blogging success? Want to join the upper echelons of blogging stardom at the top end of town, and be dazzled by the bright lights of the big city?

If you’re exhausted from chasing all the shiny things and trying to keep up with the Kardashians, I’d like you to consider getting out of the blogging rat race for a while. Take a break from trying  to network with all the flashy influencers in your niche, and check out your small town country cousin bloggers instead. You’ll be surprised at the benefits.

Don’t believe me? Here are five blogging lessons you can learn from a small country town.

Everyone says hello to you in the street

It can take a long time to run errands in a small town because you’re constantly bumping into people you know. Whether it’s a short conversation, a hello, the tip of the hat or a raise of the eyebrows (it’s a Kiwi thing), people acknowledge each other in small towns.

So next time you ‘bump’ into another blogger commenting on someone’s blog or social media post, say hello. Don’t just comment back to the host. Start a conversation with the other people at the party. It builds a wonderful feeling of community. And people love being acknowledged.

Everyone knows everyone else’s business

Not only does everyone know everyone else in a small town, they usually know their business too. Now I’m not suggesting you become the town gossip. Instead, think about a local business owner and how important it is for them to know their customers. During the off-season, when there’s a  limited amount of foot traffic, they survive or die by local customer loyalty. So they get to know you and anticipate your needs.

As a blogger, make an effort to get to know your readers. Survey them. Have conversations with them in the comments. If they’re also a blogger, go and see what’s going on in their patch of town. The better you know your audience, the more you can engage them and build a feeling of community.

Support other businesses

Similarly, small-town businesses need local support. And so the businesses all support each other. Some of the strongest business associations and Chambers of Commerce are in small towns. They collaborate to create opportunities and events for their town. In fact, one of my first jobs was to create and manage a festival for my small home town to encourage more visitors in the shoulder season.

What does this look like for you as a blogger? Support other bloggers. Visit their blogs. Read and comment on their posts. Share opportunities with them. And invite them to events or recommend them to brands you know would suit them.

As the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats. So find a group of like-minded bloggers and grow together. Whether it’s in a mastermind, a Facebook group or a regular meet up, help each other survive and thrive.

Serve only what the town needs

A small population is a tough crowd for a small business. You have to be careful about what you offer, or your business will end up one of those boarded-over shopfronts at the daggy end of town. In the past few days I’ve driven through countless small towns in the rural back blocks of three Australian states. It’s not BMW or Tesla Dealerships taking up real estate. It’s tractors (for the farmers) and motorhomes (for the retired farmers).

Find your niche and serve it well – especially if your niche is a demographic rather than a topic. It’s a balancing act between being a population of one (you as your ideal audience) and trying to please everyone.

A sense of town pride and identity

Australia seems to be obsessed with attaching town identity to ‘Big’ things – The Big Banana, The Big Pineapple, The Big (and quite frankly, scary) Koala. I even drove through a small town that prided itself on being the home of The Dish, a big radio telescope.

My point is that small towns take pride in themselves and establish their identity. And you can do the same with your blog. It may still be one small blog in a sea of other small blogs. But you can take pride in how your blog looks, and use your branding to make it stand out.

My first blog was a black and yellow beacon in a flood of pretty pastel sites. Sure, I would have liked a pretty blog too. But my blog was about being a ‘crash test mummy’, and so black and yellow it was. And did people remember my blog? Yes, they did.

That’s just five blogging lessons you can learn from small country towns. And there are bound to be plenty more. For example, what’s the blogging equivalent of knocking on the new neighbour’s door with a welcome basket?

Image credit: Jinen Shah

The post 5 Blogging Lessons You Can Learn from a Small Country Town appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

Productivity Inspiration to Get You Out of Your Blogging Slump

The post Productivity Inspiration to Get You Out of Your Blogging Slump appeared first on ProBlogger.

Productivity for blogging slump

Did you notice the middle of the year just slide on by? Are you one of those people who has already reviewed their yearly goals to see if you’re on track? Or are you in a bit of a mid-year blogging slump? Perhaps you were out enjoying the summer weather or, if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, your fingers probably froze off and you can’t type anymore.

Whatever your reason for being in a bit of a lull, we thought it was a good time to give you a bit of inspiration in the productivity department to rev you up for the home stretch of 2018. Here’s a roundup of posts we’ve noticed around the internet, as well as some popular ones from here on the blog and podcast. We hope you can find something in there that gets you amped and actioning things with your blogging.

Are you too helpful for your own good?

Paul Cunningham is a long-time ProBlogger team ally, and is super generous with his knowledge and time in our Facebook community. His latest post Solving Problems Without Falling into the Helpfulness Trap really struck a chord with me, and if your most common catchphrase is “leave it with me” then you need to read this.

And don’t dismiss it if you think because you don’t work in a team it won’t be useful. I’m going to start using these awesome questioning strategies on my kids.

Is Your Productivity a Victim of Your Environment?

Many bloggers either blog in their spare time outside of work hours (which usually means blogging at home) or work from home full-time because it’s too expensive to lease an office space to get the separation from your home life.

If your procrastination has ever become so bad that you get distracted by folding washing or all the odd jobs you never have time for, then you need rescuing by ProBlogger productivity expert Nicole Avery. Check out her five rules that will help you work more productively at home.

Is the Social Media Rabbit Hole Holding You Back from Success?

One of the biggest drains on our productivity as bloggers is our working environment. And I don’t just mean the kitchen table or the ‘office’ you’ve set up in the corner of the living room. (I’ve had both, by the way.) I mean the place where we almost unavoidably spend a lot of our time – on social media.

Elements of our blogging require using platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Youtube (and that’s just three) to promote our content, engage with our community and curate ideas and content to share. But then the rabbit hole widens, and down we go.

Before you know it you’ve probably wasted more than an hour over the course of your day, mindlessly scrolling and consuming nothing useful that will help you achieve your goals. So, why not intentionally put that time towards implementing the five-hour rule used by Bill Gates, Jack Ma and Elon Musk to climb to the top of the ranks of the world’s most successful people?

My Time is Limited

There are only so many hours in a day. So you might be familiar with some of these problems.

I Don’t Know What to Focus On

Blogging is incredibly multi-faceted, and if you don’t have pages of “To Do” lists gathering dust as you battle the next urgent/shiny/fun thing then join the club. Fortunately, Darren had the foresight to write this post just for you.

For each stage you’re in with your blogging, he has practical advice on where you should be spending your time. Check out this post from the archives on four key areas to focus your time on to grow profitable blogs (and how much time to spend on them).

I Don’t Have Enough Time to Be Consistent

We get it, we really do. We’ve already identified things such as competing priorities and environmental factors that make blogging difficult. Yet one thing we constantly hear (and advise) is to be consistent with your blogging. So how do you do that when you just don’t seem to have the time? ProBlogger writing expert Ali Luke has some awesome tips on how to blog consistently when you have little time. You can squash your blogging into your busy life.

It Just Takes Me Too Long

You’re not alone. We regularly see this question being asked in our Facebook Community:

How long to write a blog post How long to write a blog post How long to write a blog post

There are a lot of parts to writing a blog post, and different approaches to getting it done (such as the batching that Ali suggests). But what if this sounds more like you?

Blog posts take me hours. Not minutes. Hours. Write one and I’m creatively spent. I need to lie down, take a walk or faff about on Facebook for 30 minutes to recover. By then a crisis has flared up. Forget batching.

That’s ProBlogger’s psychology expert Ellen Jackson. And she uses her psychology background to develop a five-step plan that helps her write faster and crank out blog posts in the time she has available for them. Check out her post on five ways to write faster and you’ll wonder what to do with your extra time.

I hope you find something that works to get you out of your slump. Failing that, do what I do and have a bulletproof coffee in the morning. I’ve got energy and laser focus almost all day long.

What are your top productivity tips and hacks?

Image Credit: Nathan Dumlao

The post Productivity Inspiration to Get You Out of Your Blogging Slump appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

How to Use the WordPress WYSIWYG Toolbar to Format Your Blog Posts Like a Pro

WordPress WYSIWYG tutorialAre you using WordPress’ formatting features to their fullest?

I expect you already know the basics of formatting your blog posts to make them more readable. (If you’re just getting started, you might want to check out 4 WordPress Formatting Tips to Make Your Posts More Readable for an overview of the basics.)

But many bloggers  even experienced ones  don’t realise just how many formatting features are built into WordPress.

Understanding the WordPress WYSIWYG Editor

Whether you write your drafts in the WordPress editor or elsewhere, it’s important to be familiar with the WordPress WYSIWYG toolbar and know what all those buttons do.

WYSIWYG (pronounced “wizzy-wig”) stands for “What You See Is What You Get”, and describes any interface where you can see how your text will actually look as you apply various types of formatting to it. Microsoft Word, Google Docs and WordPress are all WYSIWYG editors.

Whenever you create a new post or page in WordPress, you should see the WYSIWYG editor. The toolbar (the buttons along the top) looks like this:

(If you don’t see these buttons, make sure you’re using the “Visual” rather than the “Text” version of the editor. You can swap between the two using the tabs on the right-hand side of the box where you write your post.)

If you’ve written and formatted your post in another WYSIWYG editor and copied the text into WordPress, some of the formatting may have been preserved. But some formatting options, such as blockquotes and horizontal rules, can only be applied in WordPress.

(Don’t worry if you have no idea what “blockquotes” and “horizontal rules” are. You’ll know all about them, and how to use, them by the end of this post!)

Even if some of the buttons look confusing right now, they’re all straightforward to use. We’ll take the toolbar one row at a time.

The Top Row of the Toolbar: The Most Common Formatting Options

The buttons are divided into two rows. The top row contains the options you’re likely to use most frequently.

Here they are:

We’ll go through them one by one:

#1: “Paragraph” Dropdown

HTML tag equivalent: <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, etc. and <pre>.

This dropdown menu lets you format your text using heading styles:

Heading 1 is used for the title of your post, and so should be avoided for subheadings within your post.

Most bloggers use Heading 2 for their main subheadings and Heading 3 for any subheadings nested beneath those. (In this post, for instance, the subheading The Top Row of Buttons: The Most Common Formatting Options is Heading 2, and the subheading #1: “Paragraph Dropdown” is Heading 3.)

The “Preformatted” option can be used if you’re including sections of code in your post. it will display the text exactly as written using a monospaced font.

#2: Bold Text

HTML tag equivalent: <strong>

The button that looks like a B is probably familiar to you from Microsoft Word and other programs. It makes your text bold like this.

To use it, you can either:

  • Click the “B” button, type the text you want in bold, then click “B” again to turn back to normal text.
  • Type your text as normal, then highlight the portion you want in bold and click “B”.

Use it for: Emphasising a key sentence, or creating a subheading where you don’t want to use a heading style.

#3: Italic Text

HTML tag equivalent: <em>

The button that looks like an I is probably also very familiar. It makes your text italic like this.

Use it for: Emphasis on a particular word, or for a sentence or two of explanatory text (e.g. a note at the start of your post saying This is the first in a four-part series).

#4: Unordered List (Bullet Points)

HTML tag equivalent: <ul> for the list, <li> for each item on the list

The button with three dots and lines might look a bit like Morse Code, but it’s actually used to create a bulleted list (also known as an “unordered list”) like this:

  • Item one
  • Item two
  • Item three

Use it for: A list where the order or number of items doesn’t particularly matter. If each item on your list is more than a paragraph long, you’ll probably want to format your list differently (e.g. using subheadings).

#5: Ordered List (Numbers)

HTML tag equivalent: <ol> for the list, <li> for each item on the list

The second list button is for a numbered list (also known as an “ordered” list) like this:

  1. Item one
  2. Item two
  3. Item three

Use it for: A list where the number or ordering of items matters (e.g. you’re giving step-by-step instructions or writing a top ten list).

For more help with lists, check out my post How to Use Lists Effectively in Your Blog Posts.

#6: Blockquote

HTML tag equivalent: <blockquote>

Blockquote (or block quotation) formatting is used to style quoted text so (normally) it has a wider left margin than the standard text. Depending on your blog’s theme, the blockquote text may also be in a different font and have quotation marks alongside.

This is how blockquotes look on the ProBlogger blog.

Use it for: Any quote from someone other than you that’s more than a few words long. Very short quotes can be placed within quotation marks in a sentence.

#7: Align Left/Center/Right

HTML tag equivalents: <p>, <p style=”text-align: center;”>, <p style=”text-align: right;”>

By default, your text will be left-aligned (flush with the left-hand margin). But you can also align your text so it’s centered or right-aligned.

This text is centered.

This text is right-aligned.

Use it for: Creating a sales page or special offer, where it might make sense to center your text. Some bloggers even use centered text for poems or other slightly unusual types of content.

#8: Link/Unlink

HTML tag equivalent: <a href>

This button lets you turn text into a link that readers can click to visit a different post or page. Simply type the text (e.g. the title of a post), then highlight it and click the link button. You’ll see this:

You can then paste in the URL (web address) of the page/post you want or, if it’s on your own blog, you can search for the page/post by title.

Your link will show up like this:

Which is the Best Blog Hosting Solution?

Use it for: Internal links to your own posts (good for SEO and encouraging readers to stick around longer on your blog), and external links to other people’s posts or other resources (good for demonstrating your knowledge/expertise within your field, and for building relationships).

#9: Read More Tag

WordPress tag equivalent: <!–more–>

Some blog themes show multiple posts on the front page or index page. A “read more” tag breaks the post into two parts: the first part will appear in the index, and the rest will only be shown once the reader clicks “read more” (or clicks on the post title).

Other themes are designed to show only an excerpt from the post (auto-generated or hand-crafted), so you won’t need a “read more” tag. You can see this in action on our own “Blog” page.

Use it for: Breaking off posts after the introduction, or if you want to show part of each post rather than full posts on your home page/blog index page.

#10: Toolbar Toggle

WordPress tag equivalent: n/a

The “Toolbar Toggle” lets you show/hide the second row of icons on your toolbar. (It used to be called “Show/Hide Kitchen Sink”, which you might recognise if you’ve been blogging for a long time.)

Use it for: Viewing the second row of toolbar buttons. Or hiding them if you find them distracting or only have a small screen to work with.

The Bottom Row of the Toolbar: Less Common Formatting Options

While you might not use these buttons very often, it’s useful to know what they do just in case you need them.

Again, we’ll take them one at a time starting on the left.

#1: Strikethrough Text

HTML tag equivalent: <del>

Strikethrough text is crossed out, like this. As with bold and italic, you can click the strikethrough button then type, or you can highlight existing text and apply strikethrough formatting to it.

Use it for: Humorous effect (if that suits your blogging tone), or for special offers on your products (you can “cross out” the normal price and display the offer price).

#2: Horizontal Rule

HTML tag equivalent: <hr />

The horizontal rule creates a line that runs across your post. It can be useful for breaking a post into one or more visual sections (although it doesn’t act as a “read more” tag).

It looks like this:


Use it for: Setting off the start or end of a post (e.g. if you’re introducing a new series of blog posts at the start, or making a special offer at the end).

#3: Text Color

HTML tag equivalent: <span style=”color: #ff0000;”> (for the color red)

Your text will default to the colour set by your blog’s theme – normally black or very dark grey.

Sometimes, you might want to put text in a different colour. You can do this by either:

  • selecting the colour, using the A dropdown, then typing
  • highlighting existing text and then choosing a colour for it.

After you click on the dropdown, you can pick a colour simply by clicking on it:

If you prefer, you can create specific custom colours by clicking “Custom…” and then setting the RGB values.

Use it for: Occasional coloured text, perhaps to highlight a special announcement or offer. Be careful not to go overboard with different colours in your posts. You might want to use the “custom” colour option to match special coloured text to the colour palette of your header or branding in general.

#4: Paste as Text

HTML tag equivalent: n/a

Most of the time you’ll want to paste text into the WordPress editor and keep its formatting. If you paste text that you drafted in Word, most of the formatting will automatically copy across too.

But sometimes you may want to paste text without the formatting. Simply click this button, which looks like a T on a clipboard, to toggle the “paste” function to “plain text mode”.

From now on, when you paste text, all the formatting will be removed. (You can click it again to toggle back to the normal mode.)

Use it for: Pasting formatted text (e.g. blog post titles that are formatted as a header, when you don’t want to keep any of the formatting). Remember to toggle it back off again if you only want to use it temporarily.

#5: Clear Formatting

HTML tag equivalent: n/a

To remove formatting, you don’t need to get rid of each instance of bold, italic, coloured text,  etc. individually. Instead, you can use the “Clear Formatting” button, which looks like an eraser.

Simply highlight the formatted text you want to change and click the button.

Use it for: Getting rid for formatting that you don’t want. That might be formatting that you accidentally applied, or formatting that’s appeared when you’ve copied text into your post.

#6: Special Character

HTML tag equivalent: n/a, though individual characters will have a special ASCII code

Occasionally, you might want to include a special character in your post or page that you can’t actually type, such as the copyright symbol ©.

To use this feature, position your cursor where you want the special character to appear, then click the Omega symbol to open a panel of special characters and select the one you want:

Use it for: Inserting a copyright notice with ©, using a Registered ® or Trademark ™ character when writing about your products/brand or someone else’s (if appropriate), or inserting any other special character!

#7: Increase/Decrease Indent

HTML tag equivalent: <p style=”padding-left: 30px;”>

If you want to indent text (push it over to the right), you can use this feature. The right-hand button of the two creates the indent; you can click it again to increase the indent.

Use the left-hand button to reduce or remove an indent that you’ve created.

Use it for: You might choose to set off specific text using an indent and perhaps a different  colour too (e.g. if giving an example within a “how to” step).

#8: Undo/Redo

HTML tag equivalent: n/a

You’re probably already familiar with these buttons from your usual word processor. Use “Undo” (the arrow pointing to the left) to undo whatever you just did. Use “Redo” if you change your mind again.

Use it for: Easily undoing an action (e.g. if you applied formatting you realise you don’t want, or you accidentally deleted your whole post and want it back).

#9: Keyboard Shortcuts

HTML tag equivalent: n/a

Most of the toolbar functions also have a keyboard shortcut, so you can easily use them without having to move your hands from the keyboard to the mouse. Click the ? button to see them in a handy list:

Some of these shortcuts may be familiar from other programs, such as Ctrl+B for “bold text” and Ctrl+Z for “undo”.

But there are others here that are specific to the WordPress editor, such as Shift+Alt+m to insert/edit an image.

Use it for: Speeding up your workflow, especially if there’s a particular type of formatting you use a lot.

While the WordPress toolbar buttons might not be the most thrilling aspect of blogging, being able to format your posts and pages effectively can really make a difference. Well-formatted posts look professional and are easy to read, and well-formatted pages can do a better job of converting prospects into leads or customers.

Is there a new feature you’ll be using in your next blog post, or on one of your pages? Which one will you be trying out?

Or did you learn about a feature you never even realised existed? Let us know in the comments.

The post How to Use the WordPress WYSIWYG Toolbar to Format Your Blog Posts Like a Pro appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

5 Bloggers Who Started a Blog in 2017 and Survived

Started blog in 2017

When you start a blog, you understandably look for advice from experts to help get you started. You look at countless blogs in your niche – ones that have probably been going for a while and enjoying various types of success.

It can be quite overwhelming, and sets you up for the comparison game and ‘perfection paralysis’ – not wanting to hit publish until your blog looks perfect.

Just recently we asked the ProBlogger Community to submit their stories of starting a blog, and their tips for those  considering starting a blog in 2018. We received so many stories, some of which have been published on the ProBlogger podcast.

Today we’re sharing stories of those still in the early stages of starting a blog who haven’t forgotten those early frustrations, and have tips that might help you at at the start of your blogging journey.

We’ve summarised their responses below, and included a link to their recordings (mp3 files) so you can download and listen to them in full.

Real Life Minimalism – Roshni F. Ghandi (May 2017)

Roshni is a lawyer and entrepreneur who discovered the importance of having systems in her personal life and business. It  inspired her to start her blog Real Life Minimalism in May 2017 so she could help others.

Summary of Roshni’s Start a Blog Story

Hindsight: Roshni was grateful she took the time to understand the technology and tools such as WordPress.

Mistakes: Before discovering ProBlogger, she heard advice to create webinars and funnels and forgo blogging. She finally realised a blog is a foundation, and started one to support her business.

Successes: Roshni has made a lot of connections and friendships through her blogging, and has been approached for collaborations off her blog that have helped support her business.

Tip: Her tip is ‘Know-Plan-Evolve’. Have a bird’s-eye view of what you want to create, listen to your audience, be flexible and open to change, and avoid distractions.

Good Life. Better. – Jenny Sewell (July 2017)

Jenny made a lot of changes in her life including taking control of her finances, becoming healthier and losing weight. She also started thinking and planning more about her career and retirement. She realised there were very few positive stories on the internet for women who needed to do the same, so she started her blog Good Life. Better. in July 2017.

Summary of Jenny’s Start a Blog Story

Hindsight: Jenny was glad she just jumped in with one post and hit publish. She learned as she went, and invested in learning WordPress by watching videos.

Mistakes: Jenny was getting overwhelmed. She wanted to do everything at once, and was even dreaming about how her sidebar should look like rather than getting good sleep. She also fell into the trap of buying too many books and courses. She realised she needed to work out her priorities.

Successes: While she’s enjoyed meeting the blogger community where she has received a lot of support, she realised she needed to write for her avatar, not other bloggers. Another big positive is having a creative outlet.

Tip: Look long term. Be okay with having your first year as your learning year and getting to know your audience.

Engage Weddings – Becca Poutney (August 2017)

Becca had a local networking group for local wedding suppliers, and realised that people getting married didn’t know about them. She started her blog Engage Weddings in August 2017 to help people getting married discover local wedding suppliers.

Summary of Becca’s Start a Blog Story

Hindsight: Becca is grateful she had a strategy for what she wanted to achieve and the content she wanted to create in the first few weeks. Having a networking group of contacts also made everything a lot easier, as she was able to source guest content from other suppliers.

Mistakes: Becca made the mistake of thinking her blog could grow quickly and fast. She realises now that it takes work, and is excited for the future.

Successes: Her established network of contacts enabled Becca to use her blog to promote and run a successful event, bringing together 21 suppliers and 75 guests.

Tip: Before you start, find a network of other bloggers, businesses or people in your niche (either online or in real life) to help inspire and support you.

Inspired Life in Greece – Dena Argyropoulou (September 2017)

Dena uses her blog Inspired Life in Greece as a platform for self-expression, and to document how moving from California to Greece (where she’s from) gave her the courage to live a life aligned with who she is. She share tools and resources to help her readers define their authentic life, and plans to add online courses, products and coaching services.

Summary of Dena’s Start a Blog Story

Hindsight: Dena is grateful she didn’t spend time doing things like designing a logo, and instead used the time to create worksheets for her newsletter subscribers.

Mistakes: She chose an easier platform instead of going with WordPress and. She’s now switching over to WordPress with some help.

Successes: To discover she could share good stories as a writer (her normal creative outlet is graphic design) and receive positive feedback from her readers, which has given her great confidence.

Tip: Find balance between self-expression and creating content that’s valuable to your reader.

Levels of Gray – Kenobi Pollard (December 2017)

Kanobi’s blog  levels of gray is the newest of the five, starting in December as a personal journal for Kanobi to share her thoughts on photography, beauty, travel and style. She wanted to document the levels of gray in people’s lives after being laid off from her corporate job last year, and was determined to start a blog in 2107. It took her all year, but she’s done it.

Summary of Kanobi’s Start a Blog Story

Hindsight: Kanobi is grateful for all the blogger podcasts (such as Darren’s) she listened to before starting a blog, and the advice she received from them.

Mistakes: She went through six changes of blog design before starting, with friends and family supporting her along the way. But she wishes she hadn’t told people about her blog before she even had a concrete vision of what is was herself.

Successes: She has been surprised to get positive feedback on her writing. While she’s not generating the traffic she’d like to yet, her blog has already helped her reach people who may not have already known her. And she’s really happy with the experience she’s gained thus far.

Tip: Find a topic you’re passionate about, and distinguish your voice rather than losing your message because you’re caught up in what everyone else is saying.

Start a Blog in 2018

If you’re planning to start a blog in 2018, check out their blogs so you can see what a new blog actually looks like. We hope you enjoy discovering some new bloggers, and enjoy their stories.

Also consider joining our free course starting on 10th January 2018 with Darren.

 

The post 5 Bloggers Who Started a Blog in 2017 and Survived appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

How to Edit Your Blog Posts Like a Pro

It’s every blogger’s worst nightmare.

Your latest post gets shared by a big-name blogger, and you start getting lots of traffic. Hurrah!

But then someone sends you an email (or worse, leaves a comment) pointing out a glaring mistake in the first paragraph.

Mistakes can knock your reader’s confidence in you. A study in the UK a few years ago suggested that spelling mistakes might be costing businesses millions of dollars.

Of course, editing isn’t just about fixing typos and spelling mistakes. It’s also about shaping your post so it’s easy for readers to engage with. Even if your post is free of grammatical and spelling mistakes, you’ll still lose readers if it takes forever to get to the point, or switches between topics too much .

Perhaps you’ve struggled to edit your posts effectively in the past. You may have spent hours tweaking them, only to feel the result wasn’t much better than what you started with. Or maybe you think it simply takes too long.

In this post, I’ll explain how to create a simple checklist to help you edit – just like we do here at Problogger.

Our Editing Process at ProBlogger

Every post we publish goes through the same streamlined editing process.

Several members of the ProBlogger team write content (mainly Darren and me), and we also publish posts from our subject matter experts. This means we need a clear, step-by-step editing process that makes it easy for everyone to collaborate. and ensures all posts follow our style guide.

Part of our process is this checklist template, which we apply to every post in CoSchedule.

Even if you’re the only person who ever writes for your blog, it still helps to have a clear editing process.

Also think about where you edit. If you’re working with outside parties (e.g. guest posters or companies/agencies providing sponsored content), you may want to use Google Docs like we do. You can collaborate with the author as you edit, and hand the post on to someone else who may be handling formatting and uploading.

If it’s just you, it’s still important to have a self-editing process. It could mean clearly separating your roles as “writer” and “editor” so you’re not trying to edit as you write.

I also recommend coming up with a checklist you can use again and again so you never  have to worry about missing a crucial step when editing a post. Here’s how.

Creating Your Own Editing Checklist

You probably already have a process you work through when editing, whether you realise it or not. Open a blank document and type out the typical steps you go through. For instance, maybe you always add the formatting (subheadings, bold text, lists, etc.) when you edit, rather than while you’re drafting.

Now, see if anything is missing from your checklist. Here are some important things to include:

#1: Introduction

Make sure your introduction has a hook, ideally in the very first line. What will the reader gain from this post? Give them a clear reason to keep reading.

Avoid overly long introductions. You’ll lose readers when they’ve barely started on your post. One trick to try is to remove the first paragraph or two of your post entirely. Does it work just as well (or even better) without them?

Further reading: 10 Tips for Opening Your Next Blog Post, Darren Rowse

#2: Subheadings

Unless your post is very short, add subheadings to break it into sections. This helps all your readers. Those who skim for information can quickly find the relevant parts of your post, while those who read every word won’t feel lost in a sea of text.

You should format subheadings by using a heading tag. Make sure the hierarchy is correct (i.e don’t skip from H1 to H3). This is something we always check for here at ProBlogger.

Further reading: How to Use Subheadings to Add Structure to Your Blog Posts , Darren Rowse with Ali Luke

#3: Visual Breaks

Create white space in your post wherever possible. If you can put something into a bulleted list, do it. We also use the blockquote format to highlight key parts of a post. It gives the content more space, and makes it look more attractive.

Images can also create useful breaks in your post. They’re particularly useful if you’re giving instructions on how to do something, because you can show readers how it should look at each step.

Don’t be afraid to use one-sentence (or even one-word) paragraphs. They can be tremendously powerful. Smart Blogger and Copyblogger both make great use of them in their posts.

Further reading: How to Write a Great Paragraph, James Chartrand

#4: Extraneous Material

Delete anything that isn’t relevant to your post, no matter how witty, clever, or well-written it is. If you can’t bear to lose it completely, copy it into a ‘snippet’ file. You might be able to use it in a future post. (A great tip from Bill Harper who edits our posts.)

If your post includes a lot of detail to get beginners up to speed (or to give experienced readers extra food for thought), consider linking to that information in other posts (yours or someone else’s) instead. That way, you can give those who need more help (or want to go deeper) the information they need without everyone else getting bogged down in your post.

This doesn’t mean you can’t write long posts. Some topics require more space to cover all the details. Just make sure every paragraph is necessary.

Further reading: ProBlogger FAQ: How Long Should Posts Be?, Darren Rowse

#5: Conclusion

Make sure your post has a conclusion. Some bloggers have a tendency to end their posts abruptly – especially if they’ve written a list post. Remember, the last few lines of your post are an opportunity to leave your readers with a good impression. You can also give them a call to action, such as leaving a comment, sharing your post, or even buying your product.

Like introductions, conclusions don’t need to be long to be effective. But they do need to be there.

Further reading: 7 Powerful Ways to End Your Next Blog Post, Ali Luke

#6: Complex Sentences, Phrases and Words

Read your post out loud. Another great tip from Bill (that I don’t have the patience to do myself). Are any of your sentences too long? (You shouldn’t need to take a breath mid-way.) Are some a bit of a tongue-twister? Listen to how your writing sounds, and split up or rewrite any sentences you struggle with.

Look for words and phrases you can replace with simpler ones. For instance, don’t say “obtain” when “get” works just as well.

Further reading: Shorter, simpler words: Guide to concise writing, KingCounty.gov

#7: Links to Other Posts

Linking to other posts on your blog is always a good idea. And not just for the potential search engine benefits. It also helps new readers dig more deeply into your body of work, and increases the chances they’ll stick around.

As you edit, look for opportunities to include a link to a post in your archives. Consider linking to other blogs too. It shows readers that you read and research in your niche, and can be a great way to build a strong relationship with fellow bloggers.

Further reading: Why Interlinking Your Blog Posts is a Must (and Not Just For SEO), Daniel Vassiliou

#8: Before Publication

You may want to include this step as part of your editing checklist, or create a separate checklist for ‘uploading’ or ‘publishing’ blog posts. (It’s particularly useful if you work with a virtual assistant.)

Depending on your theme, and how you like to format your posts, it might include things like:

  • Ensuring the post is assigned a category and, if you use them, tags
  • Including a featured image for your post
  • Adding a “read more” link (so only the first part of your post appears on the front page of your blog)
  • Scheduling your post to appear at a future date

Further reading: Categories vs Tags – SEO Best Practices for Sorting your Content

While content isn’t the only thing you need for a successful blog, it’s crucial that your posts are as good as you can make them. That means careful editing. And if you use a consistent process like we do here at ProBlogger, you’ll always be able to edit quickly and effectively.

Did we miss any items that you have in your checklist? Share them with us in the comments below.

Image credit: Joanna Kosinska

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One Screenshot You Must Include When Pitching a Sponsored Post

william-iven-22449.1.jpgIf you’re familiar with sponsored content as an income stream, chances are you’ve been asked for a media kit or a proposal to do a sponsored post. Unfortunately, the world of sponsored post rates and assessing the value of your site is a bit like the wild, wild west.

It can be daunting putting together a media kit, especially when you don’t have the ‘big numbers’ everyone seems to flaunt and expect. So most bloggers look at what everyone else is doing, and then create something similar. Brands can then compare one blogger to the next simply by looking at the stats they’ve included.

While that’s great for them, it’s bad for you. You don’t want to be judged on numbers alone. Two bloggers with the same audience size can generate very different results for a sponsored campaign. And a smaller blogger can often outperform a larger one.

One of the biggest issues with media kits is they often only highlight the totals, such as reach (Users) and pageviews (Impressions) for the past 30 days. They’re rarely broken down by location or demographic, and almost never by topic. Bigger numbers may look more impressive, but they can set the wrong expectations.

Another issue is showing averages, such as average time on site or average bounce rate. They’re averages, which makes them look… well, average.

If you want to really impress a brand, create a media media kit that focuses on the topic of the sponsored post.

Let’s say you have a baking blog, and the brand wants to promote a chocolate product. Wouldn’t it make sense to show how crazy your audience is about your recipes that include chocolate?

Pretty logical right? But how many of you actually do it? Maybe you’re not even sure how to do it.

Well, today I’m going to show you how with Google Analytics.

What screenshot do I need?

If you navigate to Behaviour, and then All Pages, you’ll see results for all your content (usually sorted by pageviews).

Google Analytics Behavior All Pages.png

But what you really want is a screenshot that highlights content related to whatever topic the sponsor is interested in.

Using Darren’s Digital Photography School blog as an example, let’s say I wanted to pitch a sponsored post to a Wildlife Photography Tours company. Naturally I’d want to demonstrate how many people are interested in wildlife photography content on the DPS site. Assuming the term ‘wildlife’ is in the URL of these posts (after all, it’s good SEO, right?), I can use the search function in Google Analytics to bring the relevant content to the surface.

You may not have noticed the search function before. But it’s there, pretty much in the middle of the screen. And you type in a keyword (on our case, ‘wildlife’), it will return a list of blog posts with that keyword in the slug.

Google Analytics Topic Search.png

And this is where it gets interesting.

Instead of generic totals, you’ve now shown interest in the sponsor’s topic. In our case, the screenshot shows interest (pageviews) in the topic over a year. After all, sponsored posts hang around a lot longer than a month. And why pitch for one sponsored post when you can show them what a long-term partnership could look like?

You can also point out things like the time on post being longer than the site average. (Agencies love ‘dwell time’ as a measure of engagement.)

Of course, you don’t have to put this in your media kit, although you certainly can. I usually either send or embed it in my intro email and draw attention to it.

You can still included totals in your media kit, and most potential sponsor would expect that. But now you can also send them something they probably wouldn’t expect, which will help your pitch stand out from the rest.

What are some interesting things you’ve done to help your sponsored post proposals stand out from the rest? Share them in the comments below.

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Professional Development for Bloggers: How to Learn on a Budget

bloggers-professional-development.jpg

I have a confession to make: I was a bit of a geek at school. I was the kid who asked questions all the time. What can I say? I loved learning.

And I still do. Every part of the process is exciting for me – learning new things, meeting new people, and being inspired. So imagine how excited I was when I left school and discovered my employers would actually pay me to learn. ‘Professional Development’ quickly became my two favourite words.

Unfortunately, being paid to attend conferences and stay in nice hotels so I could learn and network ended when I left the corporate world. And who pays for your professional development when you’re a blogger? That’s right – you.

Working for yourself means there’s no training and development are who’ll pay to keep your skills up to date. But because I value it so much, I’ve kept investing in my own professional development since going solo. And in this blog post I’m going to share some of the learning opportunities the ProBlogger team and I recommend.

Further Education

When I realised my traditional sales and marketing skills were in danger of being superseded in a digital world, I enrolled in a Diploma in Digital Marketing. It wasn’t strictly blogging related, but it covered content marketing, social media, advertising, PR, acquisition/conversion/retention strategies and much more.

Do those skills sound familiar? They should – I use them pretty much every day to manage the ProBlogger and Digital Photography School blogs. I studied online for a year to get my Diploma in Digital Marketing through the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing in the UK. It’s fairly intensive, requires two assessments, and you even need to physically sit two exams despite being an online course. (My writing hand was almost dead after writing with pen and paper for six hours.)

Would I do it again? Yes. Sure, it was expensive. But being taught industry best practice by qualified professionals and getting a formal certification at a Bachelor Degree level was definitely worth it.

Conferences

When you have to pay for your ticket, airfares, transport, accommodation and room service, you become very picky about the conferences you go to. Which is why ‘looking local’ is your best first option.

I was lucky. One of the first blogging events I went to (a ProBlogger event, where I met Darren for the first time) was right here in Melbourne, Australia. Of course, there have been other great local events, but I’m proud to say I’ve been involved with the ProBlogger Events here in Australia for the past five years. (Here’s where you can read about our most recent event and sign up for alerts about our next one.)

Unfortunately I won’t be attending the next one in Dallas, Texas. But Darren will be there, co-hosting with Digital Collab of the Success Incubator on the 24th of October. It will also feature amazing speakers including  Pat Flynn, Kim Garst and Andrea Vahl. It’s a fantastic opportunity, and tickets are still available if you can make it. (It will be Darren’s last international trip for the year.)

If there isn’t much happening in your local area, you may need to look further abroad. My first international blogging conference was BlogHer in New York in 2012. It was quite an experience for me. I got to meet a lot of bloggers, and be exposed to new ideas and new ways of doing things. I also learned about sponsored content trends (which was new to me at the time) that would soon be heading to Australia.

One I wish I could get to more often is Mike Stelzner’s Social Media Marketing World in San Diego. I was there in 2015, and appreciated the focus on social media, which was becoming more and more a part of a blogger’s online environment. In recent years the agenda has expanded to include more content marketing and a dedicated stream for ‘creators’ such as bloggers and podcasters. You’ll usually find Darren speaking at this event – it’s one his favourites, too.

There’s another one that isn’t strictly blogging, but can give you insights about the kinds of marketing skills you can consider – Hubspot’s Inbound in Boston. It’s the one where I flew to the other side of the world only to get locked out of Seth Godin’s keynote. (Oops!)

If you’re looking for conferences, Social Media Examiner has a list of events being held around the world. There’s also a comprehensive directory of 400+ worldwide digital marketing events at marketingterms.com.

Blogging Courses and Resources

Of course, a big part of what we do here at ProBlogger is provide access to free and affordable content to help you with your blogging. ProBlogger has more than 8,000 free blog posts and a library of six eBooks. (We’ll also be adding some courses soon, so watch this space.)

One of our most popular books is the best-selling 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. It’s a great resource you can use whenever your blogging needs a bit of focus and revitalisation. There’s also Blogwise – our collection of productivity tips that’s currently being offered as part of the Ultimate Bundles Blogger’s Genius Toolkit.

The Blogger’s Genius Toolkit

One of the reasons we’ve endured with eBooks is they’re so affordable. We’ve contributed to (and been an affiliate for) the Ultimate Bundles Blogger’s Genius Toolkit for the second year in a row because it represents such amazing value.

The team at Ultimate Bundles has put together the best resources on all the topics that matter to bloggers – mastering social media, monetization, creating and selling products, time management and productivity, growing an email list, and so much more.

All-up there are 91 resources in the toolkit. The eBooks, eCourses, templates and workbooks alone are worth more than $5,800. And on top of that you get $1,193 worth of free bonus offers, and ten tools and services to help you run your blog better.

But the best part (and one of the main reasons we take part each year) is that you can get the lot for just $97. That’s about the same as a course or a few eBooks. And a lot less than a flight from Melbourne to Boston.

There’s even a full 30-day happiness guarantee, which means you can try it out without any risk.

Here’s where you can learn more and buy the bundle. But be quick – it’s only available until 11:59pm EST on Monday the 9th of October.

Blogger Groups

If you’re looking for more free advice and support, Facebook Groups can be a fantastic resource for new and advanced bloggers alike. While many Facebook groups are set up for paid courses (and therefore restricted), there are still plenty of free ones.

ProBlogger Community is our free closed Facebook Group where Darren, Kat Jarman (our Community Manager) and I hang out with nearly 10,000 bloggers. It’s a great place to ask questions, offer valuable tips, and help each other. It costs nothing to join – you just need to answer three simple questions). And we have guidelines on taking part in the conversation that help stop it from becoming spammy and self-promotional.

It’s also a great place to get direct input from Darren. We direct most enquiries we get via our contact form to the group, so you’re more likely to get his attention this way.

Here are some other places we like to hang out.

The Inspired Bloggers Network Facebook Group is a similar group that also has strict guidelines around self-promotion and profiting from the group. It’s there to encourage and educate bloggers.

You’ll find Darren in Rachel Miller’s Facebook Massive Growth Strategies group since he became a student of her course. There’s a free group you can join, and a different group if you buy the course.

For the Aussies in the house, we also love hanging out over at Aussie Bloggers, where we often help out and join the conversation. We love their two straightforward and very Australian rules – 1. Don’t spam the group. 2. Don’t be a dick. Enough said really!

Hopefully you’ll appreciate the spam and sleaze-free communities in these groups as much as we do.

What are some other ways you’ve progressed your professional development since becoming a blogger?

Jonathan Simcoe

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Community Discussion: Are You Making Progress With Your Blogging?

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Remember the 1st of January 2017? Did you decide “This is the year I’ll start a blog”? Or maybe you set some new blog goals for 2017, prompted by our community discussion?

Well, guess what? We’re coming up to the last quarter of the year – just 3 more months remain in 2017. Are you where you want to be with your blogging at this stage of the year?

If you haven’t set any goals you may not be sure how you’re tracking. It’s never too late to benchmark where you’re at and prepare for what’s ahead. A good start would be these 17 statistics to monitor on your blog. If it’s your first year of blogging, then check out our tips (and free download) for evaluating your blog’s first year. Even if it wasn’t your first year, the evaluation will still help you work out how you’re traveling with your blog.

If you’ve been blogging a while, you may want to conduct a more thorough review. Whilst it might be a little early to conduct a full annual blogging review, you may glean enough insights to get you through to the end of the year in good shape by evaluating these seven areas of your blog from Darren’s half-yearly review process.

With the final quarter of the year to go, you may also want to start planning ahead for next year. It will be Christmas before we know it, so it’s a good time to set some blog changing goals for the new year.

We’d love to know how you monitor your blog’s progress. Do you set goals – annually, quarterly, monthly even? Do you have a process for reviewing your blog’s performance? Perhaps you can share in the comments which metrics/milestones/achievements are most important to you? And, most importantly – tell us if you’re where you were hoping to be with your blogging as we move into the last quarter of 2017.

Image Credit: rawpixel.com

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Community Discussion: Should Bloggers Ask For Donations?

Bloggers calling for donations or reader contributions like “buy me a beer” or “buy me a coffee” have been around for over ten years, as has the debate over whether they should.

Now however, with more mainstream media putting up paywalls, the growth of subscription based content providers and the rise of crowdfunding, is it a better time for bloggers to put their hand out too?

As an example, it appears Guardian News and Media (Guardian and Observer) is trying to monetize its content every which way. It produces a variety of content from outside parties, categorising it as either:

  • ‘Supported by’ – editorially independent content, produced by journalists, funded by foundations and the like;
  • ‘Paid content/Paid for by’ – produced by the paper’s commercial department not journalists; or
  • ‘Advertiser content/from our advertisers’ – produced by the advertisers themselves.

Whilst they are earning money from advertisers and sponsors, the Guardian also asks its readers to ‘Become a Supporter’ (subscriber) or ‘Make a Contribution’ (donate).

Paypal has long had a ‘donate’ button you can put on your blog and even set up a recurring subscription-like donation. How would this go down with your audience?

Similarly, I’ve seen many bloggers disclose affiliate referrals to their readers as a way to ‘donate’ to help them keep the lights on or pay their internet bills.

Patreon claims to have sent over $150 million to creators using its membership model whereby your fans pay you a subscription amount of their choice. This model seems to be growing in popularity for creators of all kinds, but particularly podcasters and YouTubers.

Inklpay is a new player offering $0.10 micropayments either in the form of voluntary ‘tips’ or an enforced paywall per piece of content. Would this work for you?

At ProBlogger, we occasionally run blogging events and often receive feedback from attendees that we should charge more given the value of these events. We noticed that the event ticketing system Eventbrite now also offers a ‘donate’ option alongside its free or paid ticketing. This concept seems like those restaurants where they don’t have prices on the menus and instead ask you to pay what you think the meal is worth or what you can afford.

So, what about you? Have you ever asked for or received donations on your blog? What system do you use? Do you donate to others? Would a voluntary subscription fee, once-off contribution or a micropayment per piece of content work for you? More importantly, would your audience see value in that?

Please contribute to the production of this content by leaving your ‘tip’ in the comments below (see what I did there?!). 

(Photo by Thomas Malama on Unsplash)

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How You Can Use Your Influence to Help

Today on the blog we have Sarah Rosberg who founded the Australian Headquarters for charity Rafiki Mwema. I’ve interviewed Sarah to get a charity’s perspective on how you can best help them with your influence as a blogger. Sarah’s tips include the kinds of activities you can do that help (with some great examples), how to choose a cause to support and how to overcome some of the challenges of working with a charity.

{trigger warning to child sexual abuse}

LG: Tell us a little about how you started Rafiki Mwema and what it does?

SR: Rafiki Mwema was born from the need to support very young girls in Kenya who have been sexually abused.

Rafiki Mwema is a therapeutic safe house to help these little girls make sense of the horrors that have happened to them; allow them access to any medical treatment they need; support them through the court system; allow access to therapeutic support; and where possible to work with their families for a safe return to the home.

Photo of girls when they were going to close down the house

I worked in Kenya for many years (with another home) and I saw Anne Marie (from Play Kenya) do play therapy with some of the home’s most abused children.  What I witnessed Anne Marie and Play Kenya achieve with their therapy gave me the  utmost respect and admiration for what they were doing.

We stayed in touch for years and one day; about 3 years ago she told me that they had run out of funds for Rafiki Mwema.  I knew closing down this home meant these girls  would have to go into other homes or back to their communities (most filled with huge violence and abuse) and wanted to do what I could to help

I decided to hold an online auction via my business page to raise funds for them. My aim was to raise 2 months’ running costs ($10K) to get them out of trouble.. I asked for people in my online community to donate items that I could auction off.  I had a wonderful response and was able to raise $17K!

My auction banner for FB

This was a great result and it would keep Rafiki out of trouble for 3 months but what would happen then?  I had fallen for the girls while pouring myself into this auction and couldn’t get them out of my head so I considered starting a charity in Australia for Rafiki Mwema to help keep them open long-term.  I had done started a charity  before for another organisation, so I knew how to do it, but with so many other obligations in my life… I DON’T HAVE THE TIME.. but I also realised, I DON’T HAVE A CHOICE.

Our first board meeting!

I started Rafiki Mwema and within 3 months from starting we had all of the girls fully sponsored.  The WWW is an amazing thing most of the time!!

LG: How did you reach out to bloggers to help raise awareness for Rafiki Mwema?

SR: When I was initially looking for help with the auction I was reaching out from my business page (web designer – Castle Design). I knew many bloggers from working over the years, so reached out to my clientele and friends via my Facebook page.

[Laney] It’s worth noting that many larger charities and causes outsource their outreach to agencies. This can be confusing and conflicting for bloggers when they think the agency is being paid by the charity and yet there is no budget for the bloggers. In this case, please remember a) that a PR agency’s principle remit is to get free exposure for their client and is possibly doing it pro bono,  and b) charity is about giving. If you wouldn’t write about a charity unless you were paid to, maybe it’s not the right fit for you.

LG: What do you look for in an “influencer”? Does size matter?

Yes, of course, size does matter (in that the larger the reach the more potential awareness for the charity), but you only need ONE person to make a difference. You could help to reach the ONE person that could change everything. If a blogger came to me wanting to help my charity and they had 100 followers or 100,000 followers, I would treat them the same and welcome them with opens arms. What I look for in an influencer is someone who really cares. Passion and dedication to the cause matters more than audience numbers at the end of the day.

LG: What are the most valuable things bloggers can do to help a charity? What activities have the most impact?

SR: Raising awareness for a charity is invaluable because you never know who could see the information and fall in love with the cause. Bloggers could have an ad for the charity in their sidebar or regularly do shoutouts to their followers or include information in their newsletter.

Letter Campaign

Chantelle from Fat Mum Slim has done many different activities that I just LOVE. Mine and the kids’ favourite campaign has been Letters for my Rafiki where she did a post about our kids in Kenya and how they love getting letters in the mail. She suggested people could write letters and send gifts or donations to them and used a hashtag #lettersformyrafiki. We still get letters in Kenya and it still makes the kids happy each and every time.

Some of our girls with their letters.

Gift Exchange

Another wonderful thing Chantelle has done each year is the gift exchange which is such a fun thing to do.

The Gift Exchange is a really fun, feel-good exercise where I partner people up so they can send on gifts to people they’ve never met before. People make new friends, receive happy mail, and just have a good old time.

On registration people donate $5 (more for accountability) and that comes straight to us for Rafiki Mwema!

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is a strange one – it can go either way. We did a crowdfunding campaign with blogger Constance Hall  and we absolutely smashed it. $200K in a matter of weeks ($150K in 1 day!). But, making a crowdfunding campaign successful really does depend on numbers and a reputable cause that has trust. If people looked into Rafiki, they would see the history, the following, the updates and the success stories. They can also see (and call/email) myself and my team so they know it’s legitimate. All these things will make a crowdfunding successful. Constance also has a following unlike many others – they love her and trust whatever she trusts and loves. We are lucky she found her way to us (via one of my sponsors). ONE person can change everything.

LG: What do you think the bloggers you’ve worked with would say are the benefits of helping Rafiki Mwema?

SR: The ONLY benefit of helping Rafiki Mwema is the good feeling of making a difference. Being able to see the change first hand and knowing that was because of YOU. There is no better feeling, and no amount of money or payment could beat that.

LG: How should a blogger go about choosing and approaching a cause to support?

Of course it depends on your love/passion. Mine is children and Kenya. I can’t explain the  Kenya side, but knowing children are suffering, I cannot sit back and do nothing.

Figure out  what your passion is – Animals, Education, Children etc – and then start looking for a charity that helps. It’s pretty easy to look in to a charity and see if they are legitimate. Check their Facebook, Instagram, website and go from there. There are so many charities out there. If you don’t find the one you are passionate about helping, then why don’t you start one? Trust me, if I can do it you can do it!

LG: Are there any barriers, difficulties, negatives that bloggers should be aware of?

SR: Keeping in mind if you help one charity you will get requests to help more (I get asked all the time to help other charities even though I run one myself!).  I have seen this time and time again and huge guilt does come with having to say no.  My suggestion is to find your charity and stick with that one.  You can’t do everything.  I WANT to help everyone out there who needs help but that is impossible.  But what I CAN do is help these 66+ kids in Kenya and I can do it really well. I have to focus on them and just politely decline and explain that it takes all my energy.  You can just say that you have your charity of choice that you support.

If you ever post something that is hard to read it is very important to begin the post with something like a {trigger warning to child sexual abuse}, as relevant to the content.

No doubt you will have some followers who don’t support your cause, or argue with you why you support this cause and not that one. If you are passionate about your cause and why you do support it you will be comfortable with your reply to them.

You will never please everyone and that is not what charity is about.

LG: Do you have any final advice for bloggers?

If anyone would like advice on how to help a charity or even start a charity I would welcome they get in touch with me.

I will continue to fight until the day that I die.  I will speak up about the unspeakable, I will continue to make people uncomfortable and I will always be the voice for the children that the majority of the world has chosen to ignore.

If I can teach my daughter one thing, it would be to honour the wonderful life she has been given by helping those who have not been so lucky.  No matter who they are or who you are, cut us open and we are all the same.

Every single one of us.

Sarah runs a design company called Castle Design as well as Rafiki Mwema.

You can find out more about the work Rafiki Mwema does here. You can also follow their journey on Facebook and Instagram.

 

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