Tag Archives: Increasing productivity

Productivity Inspiration to Get You Out of Your Blogging Slump

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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.

      

246: 9 Ways to Accelerate the Growth of Your Blog

9 Things I Wish I Knew About Blogging That Will Accelerate the Growth of YOUR Blog

In today’s episode I want to share my keynote at this year’s Social Media Marketing World – 9 Things I Wish I Knew About Blogging that Will Accelerate the Growth of YOUR Blog.

Here are the slides from my talk:

Keep focusing on the pillars of pro blogging:

  • Profitable blogs are built on great content
  • Take the initiative to drive traffic to your blog
  • Take ownership of building engagement with your readers
  • Monetization.

Don’t skip over these pillars or take shortcuts.

And here are 9 accelerators to grow your blog faster:

  1. Understand and engage with your audience. Know your readers’ needs.
  2. Transform your readers’ lives. Great content leaves a mark on your readers.
  3. Focus less on the number of eyeballs, and more on engaging the hearts of the right readers.
  4. Create a design based on what you know about your readers. Customize their experience.
  5. Teach and engage readers through challenges using various mediums.
  6. Collaborate with others to:
    • exchange services
    • generate content
    • drive traffic
    • create revenue streams.
  7. Focus on creating evergreen content that maintains relevance and doesn’t date as fast as other content.
  8. Maintain your archives, or they depreciate. Archives are an income-generating asset.
  9. Be careful about where you go all-in on.. Where should you spend your time?

Quotes of the Week:

“Speed is only useful if you are running in the right direction.” – Joel Barker, Future Edge

“Everyone wants to live at the top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.” – Andy Rooney

“Growth is a spiral process, doubling back on itself, reassessing, and regrouping.” – Julia Margaret Cameron

Links and Resources for 9 Ways to Accelerate the Growth of Your Blog:

Further Listening:

Courses

Join our Facebook group

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

Darren: Good morning and welcome to episode 246 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com. A blog, podcast, event, job board, series of ebooks, and courses, all designed to help you to start an amazing blog to grow the audience on their blog, to create great content, and to build some profit around that blog as well. You can learn more about what we do at ProBlogger at problogger.com.

In today’s episode, I want to share with you a recording of a talk I gave this year at Social Media Marketing World. A great event run by Mike Stelzner and his team from Social Media Examiner. This talk is one that I got a lot of positive feedback on. In fact, I don’t think I’ve have so much positive feedback on a talk at Social Media Marketing World as I’ve received both at the event this year and since the event. I’ve got permission from Mike and his team, who’ve kindly allowed me to republish it here on the podcast in its entirety.

The title of the talk is Nine Things I knew About Blogging that will Accelerate the Growth of your Blog. It’s nine things that really–today, as I look back over at the last 16 years, have been really responsible for most of the growth in my blogging. These are things that I think people that are just starting out with blogging will learn a lot from but also those of you who are along the way who wanna be the best in growth in your blogging someway. Some of these are more relevant to beginners than others. Others are a little bit more advanced. I hope there’s something for everyone in this.

Now, the other thing I should say is that you’re gonna hear me touch on a few things that I have talked about in other podcasts–of late and also in the past. There will be a little bit of repeat in this for some of you but I’m hoping that by hearing all nine things together, you’ll see how some of them fit together. I would love to hear what you think about this keynote, if you’ve got any comments, if you’ve got any thoughts on it, anything you wanna add, any questions you have, feel free to ask me either on Facebook group or over on the show notes as well.

The other thing I will say about the show notes is that, I’ve also put the slides from this talk. you may actually find the slides useful as I go through this talk. It’s probably ideal to have them with you. I’ll put them up as a slideshare over at problogger.com/podcast/246. That’s where you can get the slides, episode 246 over on problogger.com/podcast. There’s also, in the slides, free download links mentioned to some worksheets, some guides that we’ve put together for you. You will see in the slides a link into our member’s area which is brand new and in that we have a variety of worksheets and guides that you can grab but those mentioned in the slides but also some extra ones as well.

If you wanna check out those, you’ll see a link in the slides and in the show notes but also you can find them by going to problogger.com/members and that’s a new area that we’ve set-up on ProBlogger, it’s completely free. It allows you just to download some of those guides and we do hope to add more of those in as well. Find all that at problogger.com/podcast/246.

Lastly, just a really quick mention, this episode is brought to you by Success Incubator–an event that I’m running with some good friends this year in Orlando. If you enjoy today’s podcast, it will give you a feel for what we do at that event because I do some teaching every year at that event, and we also do a little bit of masterminding as well. It’s in September 24th and 25th in Orlando. All the details are linked to on today’s show notes or you can go to problogger.com/success.

Alright, after I’ve said all that, I’m gonna just hit play on this week’s recording from my talk, and at the end I’ll come back and I’ll share my quote of the week and give you some further listening as well. One last little thing, it does get a little echoey in the recording, I hope you forgive me for that, and give you a bit of a feel for being at a live event. I’ll see what I can do with the recording and see if I can get rid of a little bit of that echo but please, do bear with me on that one. Hope you enjoy my talk from Social Media Marketing World.

Mike: Our speaker today, of course, is the amazing Darren Rowse. When I started as a blogger back in 2009, he was one of those guys that I wanted to be when I grow up.

If you don’t know who he is, he’s the founder of problogger.com. He’s also the founder of Digital Photography School, he has a conference of his own. Without wasting any more of his precious and valuable time, he’s got a lot to give you, please welcome Darren Rowse to the stage.

Darren: Thank you for that beautiful introduction. You can come with me everywhere. I want to talk today about things that are going to accelerate the growth of your blog. I’ve changed my title slightly for those of you who have already noticed it. I’m giving you nine ways to accelerate the growth of your blog because I’ve only got 45 minutes, if you want the 10th one, come and talk to me in the hall afterwards and I’ll make something up.

The other thing I’ve changed is this word “accelerate.” I think I used the word shortcuts in my talk, and I did that because Mike said, “You really need to get your title in today, Darren,” I just came up with that one. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that shortcuts kind of give the indication that you can skip over bits of the journey. I’m a big believer that you need to really build the foundations first, and so I’ve moved towards this acceleration idea.

If you’ve been reading ProBlogger, or listening to the podcast, or you’ve come to one of our events, you’ll know I talk a lot about the pillars of problogging, and these are the things that you really need to be doing day to day, these are the things that you can’t skip over.

I want to put these things out front before I get into my nine accelerants because they are so important. They’re not the sexiest things in the world to talk about because they’re just no-brainers, but I really want to emphasize them because everything I say in this session builds upon these four thing.

Great blogs, profitable blogs, no matter what profit means to you builds on great content on you taking the initiative to drive traffic to your own blog, you taking ownership over the building of engagement with your readers and monetization.

Most bloggers, when they start out, kind of instinctively know that they need to create content. That’s what a blog is about, but a lot of bloggers start out thinking that if they just do good enough content, the traffic will appear, the engagement will happen and opportunities to make money will land in their lap.

The reality couldn’t be further from that. You need to take ownership and be working on a daily basis in each of these four areas. It’s the accumulation of the little things that you do in these four areas that build a profitable blog.

I want to put that out front and say you can’t shortcut these things. These are things you need to be working on regularly. It doesn’t need to be daily, but regularly; you need to be building in these four areas.

Having said those things, I want to talk about these nine things that have helped me to accelerate the growth of my blogs over the years, things I wish I knew back in 2002 when I started out and I hope that that will help you in your journey as well.

A few of these are mindset-type things and some of them are a little bit more tactical. I hope they kind of meet different ones of you at different parts in your journey.

The other thing I’ll say is that most of these things really relate well to podcasting and video creation. If you are in those spaces, apply these to that. The first thing is the thing I talk about every time I speak these days, and that is understanding your audience. The more you understand about your audience, the more you know them, the better position you’re in to serve them and the faster your blog will grow.

I started blogging in 2002. This is a picture of my first blog. It’s really ugly. It’s the only blog I ever designed myself. It took me months to get to that stage and then I realized I needed to find someone who knew something about blog design. It really was a blog that served me. It was a fun hobby. It was a place where I could express myself. It was a place where I could have a creative outlet and talk about the things that interested me.

That’s why I started blogging. I started because I just wanted to talk out loud about these things that interested me and it served me. Then, about two weeks into my blogging journey, I realized that, accidentally, I was also serving other people because I started to get these emails from people saying, “That’s really interesting. That really helped me. Thank you for writing that.” At first, I was like, “Well, that’s weird. I didn’t really write these for anyone else. I was just expressing myself,” but I realized there was this opportunity there to serve other people.

I remember the day I got my first comment from someone who wasn’t my mom and that was kind of a weird experience, and I realized that when he left this comment, I got his email address. I thought, “Maybe I’m supposed to email the people who comment,” and so I sent him an email. I basically said, “Thanks for your comment. Who are you? I’d love to know a little bit more about you.”

That was one of the best things that I ever did because he responded and he said, “I’ve left hundreds of comments and no one’s ever emailed me so thanks for that. This is who I am,” and he introduced himself to me and we began to have this conversation.

I decided to do that anytime anyone left me a comment for the first two years of my blog, I emailed every single commenter personally. That was one of the best things that I ever did because it built engagement and built a relationship but, most of all, it helped me to understand who my readers were.

I began in those two years to see patterns in my readers, and this idea of who my reader was began to form. What I realized is that the more I got to know who my reader was, the better position I was in to write content that would impact them as much as it would impact me.

This thing began to happen as my blog began to grow. I realized the more I understood about who was reading, the better position I was in to drive traffic to my blog, to build engagement on my blog and then, later on when I began to monetize, I was in a great position to be able to monetize as well, because I knew my readers’ needs and I could find ways to meet those needs through the products that I created.

One of the best things I ever did when I started my main blog today, Digital Photography School, is to create avatars, one of the best things that you can do. You probably already got one in your head, but I think there’s something really profound about getting it down on paper or getting it down in writing, because it will cement in your mind who is reading your blog.

You’ll also begin to picture these people, all these hypothetical people, as you write your content, and your content will come across in a more personal way as well.

My first avatars were pretty light, they had demographics, where they hung out online, how they spent their money as it pertained to my topic, the questions that they had, the felt needs that they had. Gradually over time, I began to deepen my avatars. I began to tap into some underlying things that were really powerful to understand about my readers.

I really would encourage you to particularly look out for these things. Firstly, look out for the pain of your readers. It sounds really negative, but it’s very important. Understand their needs, not just the questions they have, their felt needs, but their real needs. Over time, you’ll begin to see that behind their questions are deeper things.

On ProBlogger, we get a lot of questions about blogging and technical things, but one of the things I’ve learned about ProBlogger readers is that a lot of them are actually really fearful.

I’ve had three people this morning come up and say, “I used to have a blog, but I can’t get over fear. It’s stopping me from blogging,” and so we write a lot about fear on ProBlogger because that’s the real need and our readers really respond to that. Understanding these deeper things that are holding them back are really important.

The other things you want to look out for are the gains that they’re looking for: What are their aspirations? What are their dreams? Where do they want to be? What are their goals? Unlock these types of things and it will infect your content.

You’ll create content that’s not just about your topic, but it’s meaningful your readers. I was really fascinated to hear Mike talk so much this morning about meaningful interactions with people because it’s exactly what I’m about with blogging. The more you understand about your reader, the better position you’re in to be meaningful to them.

I’ve got some worksheets for you. Don’t feel under any pressure to grab these at all. If you want to answer worksheets to help you work through creating avatars, it’s there. I’ll show you this link again at the end as well. The second thing that’s really connected to this first is understand not only who’s reading your blog, but how you can potentially transform their life, which sounds very grand and aspirational, but is a very powerful thing.

What I’ve learned over the years is that great content leaves a mark on the people who read it, or listen to it, or view it. Your content should transform your reader’s life in some way. It doesn’t have to be in a big way; it could just be that you put a smile on their face because you entertained them or it could be that you informed them of the latest news. It could be that you gave them a sense of belonging. It could be that they’re suddenly feeling all motivated in some way.

There’s a variety of ways that you can be transformational with your content. As soon as you begin to understand what the transformation is that you can bring, you’ll begin to see that your content will be transformed as well.

Again, a really simple exercise you can do is to grab a piece of paper, on one side, write down a few characteristics of your reader when they arrive on your side. This essentially is the avatar that I was just talking about.

This is just great to know in and of itself, but the second part is even more powerful: Create an aftershot. Who will your reader be after they’ve left your blog? Even if after one visit, who do you want them to be? How do you want to have changed them? Who do you want your reader to have been after a year of traveling with you? How do you want their life to be different? Understanding that transformation will impact all of the pillars that I was talking about before.

On Digital Photography School, it’s really simple. We are going to take people from being in automatic mode with their amazing camera, to having full creative control of that camera. Simply understanding that gives me ideas for content, but it also gives me a way to promote my blog as well, and to drive traffic to it. It’s so much easier to drive traffic if you promote using the transformation rather than your topic.

Don’t ever say, “I have a blog about photography.” “I have a blog that takes people from automatic mode to having creative control of their cameras.” People will want to read that blog if you talk about the transformation. The topic in and of itself isn’t really that attractive, so talk about the transformation.

Understanding this transformation will give you all kinds of ideas of how you can engage with your audience as well, what questions can you ask them to build engagement. It will also help you with monetization.

The third thing I want to talk about that ties really in with what Mike was talking about earlier, and this is something that will escalate the growth of your blog, maybe not so much in terms of the numbers in your Google Analytics, but in terms of the profitability and the outcomes that you want.

Engaged traffic is exponentially more powerful than just traffic of any kind. What I’d encourage you to do, and this will grow your blog so much faster is to focus not so much upon getting eyeballs, but on actually getting engagement with the heart of your readers.

I learned this the hard way. When I started blogging, I just wanted anyone to read my blog, my mom, my wife, my friends, pretty much anyone. The way that I got them to do that was just send lots of emails to my friends. That didn’t last so long because my friends got annoyed with it. Now, I began to look at other ways of doing that, leaving comments on other blogs. I left comments on every blog that I ever knew.

Gradually over time, I began to see that there were these other sites. There was a site back in the day called Digg. Does anyone remember Digg? It’s like Reddit and you could get your content voted up onto the front page.

I remember one day my content got onto the front page of Digg and I had 150,000 visitors in two hours. I was ecstatic. I was like, “This is going to change my blog. I’m going to start making money. I’m going to become well-known. I’m going to get a book deal,” all those dreams. I had all of the dreams.

I very quickly realized that it didn’t lead to anything that was good at all. It crashed my server and the only people who showed up, those 150,000 people, were teenage snarky boys. They left negative comments and they destroyed the community on my blog. I realized that, one, I want the right readers but, two, I want readers who want to engage. I learned the hard way that eyeballs make you feel good in the short term, but they don’t actually lead to sustainable growth in the long term.

I focus very much upon not the eyeball and getting lots of traffic, get the right reader. Lots of benefits of building this kind of engagement on your blog, which I won’t go through, but it really will help you to grow your blog. Particularly if you’re looking to monetize in some way, no matter what type of monetization you want to do, it will be enhanced my engagement.

Advertisers want to advertise on blogs that have engagement. You’ll sell your products so much more if you’ve got engagement. You’ll be able to monetize the engagement itself using masterminds or membership areas. Engagement is where it’s at.

A lot of people used to say, “Content is king.” I actually think community is king and content, so it certainly goes alongside it. If you can get this community particularly in this day where the algorithms are really looking for engagement, it’s where you should be acting.

How do you get this engagement? The first thing I’ll tell you is, if you want engagement, you need to be engaging. You need to show up. You need to take the lead in that. People will respond to you being generous and being engaging.

Some of the ways that you can do this outside of your blog, apart from writing in an engaging style, and that’s where it really needs to start. At the moment, I think live video continues to be a place where you can build that kind of engagement.

I don’t get hundreds of thousands of people viewing my live videos; I get a few hundred people at a time who view my live videos, but I know those people are much more likely to show up tomorrow and leave a comment on my blog.

Those people are much more likely to share my content on their social media platforms. Those people are much more likely to sign up for my newsletter list to get my opt-ins and eventually to buy one of my products. I see their names pop up all the time. Live video is very powerful.

Groups continue to work for us at the moment. I’m really wary about when this will end; Facebook, particularly, changing their algorithms all the time. While they’re working, they should be surfing that life.

The podcast. I’ve met so many people already at this conference who’ve come up and said things like, “I feel like I know you,” or, “Can we go on walks together every week?” Someone came up the other day and said, “We have a shower together once a week?”

People spend time with you and even though the podcast is not interactive at all, it’s a very personal medium and it builds engagement. It builds this sense that people know you, which is a really important thing, so include that there as well.

Meetups and events are probably the best thing that I do in terms of getting to know my audience, whilst you can’t get all of your audience to them, that will really build advocates for your brand and so any way that you can meet people in real life is important as well.

The last thing I’ll talk about in a moment is challenges. They’ve been very important for us. This is something I did last year on the way home from social media marketing world. I’ve got a 25-hour commute to get home. I was like, “How can I fill up these 25 hours?” so I got onto my Facebook group and I said, “I’m going to ask every question you ask me over the next 25 hours.” I was sitting in airports a lot of that time.

Our Facebook group only had about 800 members at the time, so it wasn’t a big community, but 200 of them showed up and asked a question over that time. It was fascinating to see how spending that 24-hour period with my readers really grew the engagement of that little community.

It was really fascinating to see that most of the action actually happened when I was in the air and didn’t have WiFi. My community showed up and answered each other’s questions more than I answered their questions. This illustrates that point: If you’re willing to be engaging, your community will take your lead and they will be engaging, too, not just with you but with each other. That’s where real community happens.

The last thing I’ll tell you about engagement is this idea of know, like, and trust. Who has heard that quote? People do business with those that they know, like, and trust. You will hear that quote at least three times over the next two days. People use that quote all the time at this conference.

Here’s the thing about know, like, and trust: It’s a two-way thing and people will know, like, and trust you so much faster if you show that you know them, and you show up, and spend time with them, and show that you like them, and that you trust them by being vulnerable with them as well. That’s just an example of that. In that 25 hours, my readers began to realize that I wasn’t just there to get them to know, like, and trust me. I actually wanted to interact with them.

The fourth thing I want to talk about is a little bit more strategic, and that is design. I’ve already shown you that I’m not a great designer, so I can’t give you any tips on colors, or fonts. The thing I’ll say about design is, increasingly, our design is about trying to meet our readers where they’re at. You know a lot about your readers just simply by looking at where they came from? Did they come from Google? Or an email? Or social media?  Whether they’ve been on your site before? What part of the site they’re on?

These things are things that we know and we get these data, so we should be reflecting this on our design. Some of the things we’ve been trying to do on ProBlogger are to try and create a design that really meets our readers where they’re at to show that we know them and to show that we want to help transform them.

In the old days, it was all about trying to get people to view more about content, just any of our content. Today, it’s more about communicating the journey and trying to show our readers where they’re at.

If you’ve got a ProBlogger now on the front page, right down the bottom of the front page, we have this heading, “I need help, too.”

Underneath that, there’s these eight icons. The eight icons represent pain and the gains of our readers. We’ve identified, over the years, that our readers have eight main reasons they come to ProBlogger. They want to learn to start a blog, they want more traffic, they want to make more money, they want to be more productive with their time, they want to understand the tools, these are the basic things that they come looking for information on. Everywhere on the site, we greet them with an invitation to get help in one of these areas. This is to demonstrate that we know who our readers are, to communicate, “We know your pain.”

Instead of directing them to a category page, we direct them to what we call a portal page. On these portal pages, we’ve curated an experience for our readers. We greet them with a video where I communicate that I, too, have this pain or I, too, want this gain and I’ve had experience in that. Then, we’ve curated some content underneath that, both blog posts and podcasts, that take them through solutions to that pain.

I know that if I get you to this portal page, you will stay on our site for at least three times longer than the average of our site. You’ll view quite considerably more pages, you’ll sign up to our newsletter, much more likely, you’ll connect with us on Facebook more likely as well. Eventually, you’ll buy one of our products as well.

Getting people to a page where you demonstrate you know your reader and you meet them with content that’s where they’re at is very powerful. Traditionally, if people come to a blog, the chances of them finding content that meets their pain is pretty small because the latest content that you’ve got is highlighted to them. If that content doesn’t meet their pain immediately, they’ll bounce away, so we’re trying to meet people where they’re at.

Another thing that we do on the front page of ProBlogger is greet different readers differently. If you’ve never been to ProBlogger before, you’ll get this greeting. It’s all about the transformation. This is what we’re in the business of doing. We want to take you from here to here and we’d love to connect with you.

If you’ve been to our site before and you’ve got a cookie from us, we don’t want to show you this because you already know about ProBlogger. We want to show you this, and this is, “Welcome back,” and, “Here’s the posts you’ve missed since last time you were there.” This is a very simple way to customize the experience of your reader. It’s thinking in your design about how you can meet different readers based upon what you know about them.

The fifth thing I want to talk about is challenges. Since 2004, when I started ProBlogger, I can see that there have been spikes of activity over those years: spikes in traffic, spikes in engagement and spike to profit as well. I can track all those spikes back to challenges that I’ve run on the side. The first challenge I ran on ProBlogger was back in 2005 and I did it completely by accident.

One night, I was lying in bed at 2:00 AM thinking about my blog as I often do, and I couldn’t go to sleep. I had idea: “I want to start 31-day series of content on my blog,” and every day after these 31 days, I want to give people a little bit of teaching and then give people a little bit of homework to do, something practical that they could do. I thought this was going to be a teaching series.

I launched it the next day. I had no idea what the 31 days were going to be, so I had to make it up on the spot and it took off. The first post I did was the biggest pose I’d ever written, and people joined in this challenge. They didn’t see it just as a teaching experience; they actually saw it as an engagement experience. They wanted to join this event that I was running. I called it 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. They saw it as an event and I was, “Okay. I’ll make it an event,” and so I started to make it more engaging. I said, “At the end of every day, come back and show us what you did,” and readers began to check out what each other were doing and these conversations were opening up.

The second year I did it, we added a forum to it and we added an opt-in, so we sent out emails along the way as well. Every time we ran it, it was the biggest traffic we’d ever had, the biggest engagement we’d ever had.

At the end of 2009 when I did it, my readers said, “Hey, we really would love it if you could create a PDF version of this.” Some of them were saying, “We’ll pay you for it,” and I was like, “How much will you pay me for it?”

They were like, “$15 or $20,” and I was like, “No you wouldn’t pay that,” and they were like, “Yes, we will.” I was like, “Hey, let’s test this,” so I created the ebook and I put it on sale, thinking maybe it would sell $100 or so because all of the content was already on the blog for free. I mean, who’s going to buy something that’s already there for free? About 10,000 people bought that in the first year so I was like, “Okay. These challenges can actually be monetized as well.” People will take this free information, but if you re-package it into something that they can use again and again, that’s useful in an ongoing way, that’ll be great.

The other cool thing about this is that other groups of bloggers that I don’t even know about buy the book together and run through the challenge together. They’re running their own challenges. You give them the format, they will take and run it as well.

You can do challenges in other mediums. This is a challenge I ran on the podcast a year or so ago, seven days of writing challenges. It really took off and it led to a lot of growth in the podcast.

This is another challenge we did earlier this year. We launched this as a course. It’s a free course on how to start a blog and it’s the type of course you could do anytime, but we launched it as a challenge and we took several thousand bloggers through this challenge together. This, really, is one of the best things that we’ve done in the last year or so. Challenges are very powerful. There’s lots of benefits of running a challenge on your blog.

Again, for those of you interested in monetization, you can monetize these in a number of ways. Firstly, you could run a free challenge and then do an upsell at the end of that. Our starter blog course is free, but we’ll be selling our 31 Days to Build a Better Course, which is coming out soon at the end of that to people. You can monetize it with sponsorships so, “Here’s a free challenge that you can participate in. It’s presented by this brand,” and you can charge for that.

You can do affiliate marketing during it. In our starter blog course, we had about 6000 people go through that. We know, on average, that we make about $6 per participant in that through affiliate stuff that we do. We promote servers and web press tools along the way. We disclose all of those so our readers know that they’re helping us as well. The other way that you can do it is to sell the challenge, and that’s what we did with 31 Days to Build A Better Blog, the ebook.

There’s a variety of ways that you can use challenges to actually build a business as well but, for me, the challenge is really exciting because it helps you to get to know your reader better.

At the end of our Starter Blog challenge, we’ve got thousands of bloggers now who are engaged with our brand. We just help them to start a blog and they’re really grateful for that. That “know, like and trust” has really grown as a result of them spending a month with us working on achieving something. We’re actually helping them in a tangible way.

The sixth thing I want to talk about is collaborations. Collaborations are probably one of the most powerful things I’ve done to grow my blog. Blogging is a juggle. Every blogger in the room knows what that juggle is, to create content, to build engagement, to drive traffic, to maintain all the social media accounts, to keep WordPress up to date and all the plugins. It’s just making me stressed just listing these things off. They’re balls in the air and it’s so hard to keep all those balls in the air.

The thing I’ve learned over the years is that it’s a lot easier to keep balls in the air and more balls in the air when you actually juggle with other people. There’s a variety of ways you can do this. You could outsource, you could hire a team but most bloggers don’t have the resources to do that. The best way to do it is to find win-win ways of working together with other bloggers, other content creators.

I did this very early on in my blogging. I showed you my blog design before. I realized that I needed to find someone who knew about blog design, so I found someone who was willing to design my blog for free if I did some work for them. I did some writing for them. I drove some traffic to their business as well. It was a collaboration where we exchanged services. Pretty much in every one of the pillars that I’ve talked about before, there are opportunities to collaborate.

When it comes to content as bloggers, I think we should be collaborating more. Yes, I know a lot of just post for each other, but why don’t we create content together? YouTubers do it all the time. It’s so normal for two YouTubers to come together to create a video together and then they repost that onto their own channels. Why don’t we do that more as bloggers? People co-author books. People co-author articles in mainstream media.

I published almost 19,000 articles on my two main blogs, and two of them have been co-authored posts. I think we could be working together more to collaborate in content. There’s a whole heap of ways that we could also collaborate in driving traffic to one another, to build engagement. Why does every blogger have to have their own Facebook group? Why don’t bloggers join together to create Facebook groups together and come up with win-win ways of building collaborations around that?

When it comes to monetization, I particularly think there’s opportunities to collaborate. Back in 2009, I created this ebook. It’s the first ebook I’d ever created and it was basically a rehash of a lot of articles that I’d already written on Digital Photography School. It almost killed me. It killed me to create this ebook. Even though it was already republished content and it was mainly all written, just the design of it, the editing of it, the proofreading of it, the putting-it-together, almost killed me. It took me five or six months to get this ebook together.

I knew I should do it. I’ve been procrastinating. I finally did it. I launched it, wondering if anyone would buy it. We sold about $70,000 worth of copies of it in the first 10 days. I suddenly realized that maybe I should do more ebooks but I didn’t want to go through that process again of having to create another ebook so I began to look for ways of getting others involved in this process.

I reached out to one of the authors on our site who had been writing some articles for us and I said, “Hey, Neil, would you be interested in writing an ebook? We’ve got the traffic. We’ve got the shopping cart system now. We can do customer service, we can bring that side of things, but I can’t write another ebook. I don’t have the time. Would you do it?” and he was like, “Yes, sure. No problem.”

Three weeks later, he’d written an ebook that took me five months. It was completely from scratch. He was just a great writer and, when we put it on sale, it did better than our first one. He wrote another one a few months later, and another one, and another one. We’ve got 30 ebooks now on our sites and I have not written any of them. These are all collaborations. We’ve got six courses. We’ve got Lightroom Presets. We’ve got Printables. All of them have been collaborations, every single one.

In that time since 2009, maybe I would’ve written another five or six ebooks on this site, but we’ve got all of this suite of products now. Yes, we share the revenue and sometimes it sucks to think, “We’re only getting 50%,” but it’s actually really exciting that we’ve also opened up revenue streams for all these other people as well. An ebook writer the other day emailed me and said, “You just helped us to buy our first house,” so it’s really great to be a part of that process as well. He’s also helped us to buy a house, too, which is nice, too.

As I look at all the income that we earn, these are the main income streams on my blogs. I’m happy to talk about income streams after this session. Almost all of them are actually collaborations. There’s only one that’s not out of all of those. Really, think beyond you when it comes to monetizing your blog. It’s one of the most powerful ways to build profit around your blog. I’m not just talking here about monetizing through affiliate products; I actually think business-to-business. You could be collaborating with others in your industry to create things together and find win-win- solutions. I’ve got a podcast on that that goes into a little bit more depth if you do want to listen to a bit more on that topic.

Ever-growing content, I was talking to someone just earlier about this. This is one of the best things that I ever did. I completely agree with Tim Farris on this. One of the most labor-efficient ways to grow your blog readership but also engagement as well is to focus on creating ever-growing content. Ever-growing content is content that doesn’t date as fast as other content. This is my first commercial blog. It’s actually a photography blog that I had before Digital Photography School.

It was a news and reviews site, and I did two types of posts. There were news posts and reviews. The news posts would do really well for three days after I write them. “Here’s a new camera! It’s exciting! Canon’s got this new camera,” and then no one would want to know about that post three days later because it’s old news. To create a blog that’s purely news, you need to create a lot of content every day. That’s why some of these gadget sites publish 20 or 30 articles a day because they just need to pump out lots of content to keep the traffic coming.

The other type of content I did on this site were reviews of cameras, and these were a bit more ever-growing. You’d write a review of a brand new camera today, people will be interested in that review for about a year until Canon brings out the next model that supersedes the last one. That taught me how powerful ever-growing content was. I was able to track how much our news articles could make us through ads versus how much our review posts would make us through ads. The review posts were 10 times as much in terms of the earnings.

I began to wonder, “What would happen if I had even more ever-growing content in this particular space of photography? What would that look like?” and that, of course, chained into Digital Photography School where we teach people how to use cameras because the basics of how to use a camera haven’t changed since I was in Year 10 at high school when I was using film camera. Aperture is still aperture. Shutter speed is still shutter speed. How to hold a camera hasn’t changed that much. There certainly are aspects of photography that have changed but the basic things haven’t changed so I decided to start writing a site that was more about this type of content, content that wouldn’t date as much.

Now, we still do some news-y type posts. I thought it’d be interesting to show you a couple of case studies on different types of posts. This is a news-y type of post, a post we wrote three years ago on Adobe’s new version of Lightroom. You can see there the Google Analytics. It did quite well for the first week of this post. I think Day One had about 3,000 visitors. Over the first couple of weeks of this post, we had about 11,200 visitors to it.

Over the last three years, we’ve added another 18,000 viewers. It really has not worked for us very much. In fact, at the moment, it’s getting one viewer per month, and they just happen to stumble upon it or maybe it’s me checking out whether it’s still alive. It’s not really working for us at all. It took the writer about an hour to write it and a little bit of editing but it really hasn’t worked for us.

This is another post that we wrote two weeks later, and it’s on a topic that we get questions on from time to time and we continue to get questions on. It’s more ever-growing in nature. Now, this isn’t the most spectacular post. You can see that the pattern there in the first couple of weeks was very similar. It had about 16,000 visitors to it over the first two or three weeks but since that time, it’s had 42,000 visitors to it. You can see there are some little extra spikes along the journey, and these are times that we’ve re-shared it.

This is the beauty of ever-growing content: You write it three years ago, I can share this again on our Facebook page today and our readers will go, “Thanks. That’s really good.” If I re-shared that news post about Lightroom, people would go, “Why are you sharing this? This is three years old.” Ever-growing content allows you so share it. Other people are sharing it, too. The other thing is if you drill into that graph even more, you’ll see that 40 people every day view this post from Google. Those 40 people don’t sound like much but, 365 days a year, that begins to add up over time. We’ve got 8,000 posts on our site now, too, and if they’re all getting 40 visitors a day, that adds up over time as well.

Alongside that, occasionally, you do a post that actually adds up even bigger. This is one of those posts. I wrote it in 2007. It didn’t really start that spectacularly. It had about 100 visits a day because that site was really small at the time, but this one’s actually grown in how much traffic it gets over time. It’s had over 40 million people view it since that time. It took me two hours to write it back then, and this post is working for us today and continues to earn us revenue from advertising but also brings in subscribers to our blog because we have opt-ins associated with that as well. Then, we’re able to sell to those people down the track.

This is the power of ever-growing content, all those 8,000 posts with visitors and this one that gets about 3,000 visitors a day still today that begins to add up over time. This is why you begin to see the acceleration of your blog. The more archives you have that are ever-growing, it really does pay off. It doesn’t happen overnight but it grows over time.

The second last thing I want to talk about is maintaining your archives, and this is particularly important if you go down this route of ever-growing content. This is a major trend that I’m seeing that’s not being talked about at the moment amongst bloggers. They’re spending more time doing this. Your archives are an asset. I’m just showing you that there’s gold in your archives. You’re probably all thinking about a post that just still gets traffic today. That post is an asset and potentially is an income-generating asset.

Here’s the thing: Your assets depreciate and I bet you your archives are depreciating right now. I dare you. Go back to the first post you ever wrote. What are you going to do? You will cringe. I guarantee it. We all do. We all cringe, and that’s because your archives are depreciating. It doesn’t look as good anymore because we used to use these tiny little thumbnails and sometimes their images are broken. We have these call-to-actions that don’t go anywhere anymore because that social network doesn’t actually exist anymore. “Share on MySpace,” and all of those types of things going on.

There’s broken links there. Your writing has improved since then. You used to write in a very naïve kind of way. You used to make all these assumptions. You used to format those posts differently. Maybe you didn’t use headlines and it was just a long line of text. Your archives are depreciating. They’re looking dated. They probably have information in them that needs to be updated as well. Why don’t we maintain them? If you maintain your archives, you can actually reverse that trend.

I’m just showing you an example of that. That ISO post that’s had 40-something million people? I’ve updated that every six months since 2007. It’s better now than it was when I started. It’s my goal to continue to improve the way it looks, the way it reads and the information in it. I want it to be the best article that I can, and that’s why it’s growing. This is something that’s happening more and more. We maintain all of our assets because we know there are consequences in the future if we don’t.

This is what I’m noticing: A lot of bloggers are doing it. They’re actually publishing lists. A lot of the big bloggers don’t publish anywhere near as much new content as they used to, and that’s because they’re publishing better content when they’re publishing new content. It’s deeper content. It’s longer-form content in many cases, but they’re also putting more of the effort into up-keeping their archives because there’s better return in up-keeping and improving their archives than there is in creating lots of new posts.

Particularly if you’ve been blogging for five or six years, you’ve probably written about everything there is to write about on your topic. There’s probably not a lot of new stuff to write but you can be improving those old archives and even republishing them and re-sharing them as well. There’s lots of benefits of up-keeping your archives but the challenge I have for you is to really start to build that into your editorial strategy. Identify the old posts that have done well, the best posts–the ones that have had a lot of traffic in particular, start with those–and anything that’s underperformed in the past.

I’m not going to go through these individually but these are some of the things that you can do to improve your content–and, yes, you can grab these slides later to work through these. The thing I would encourage you to do particularly is to give your old content the cringe test. I challenge you: Every day, look at one of your old posts. That means, over the year, you’ll have looked at 365 posts. Some of those old posts will be fine; you won’t cringe. They’re probably good. If you cringe, you need to update it. It’s really important to do that. Then, build that into your calendar. Most bloggers have a calendar. I publish new content on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Why don’t you update content on Tuesday and Thursday? Actually, make that a part of your system of creating content.

The last thing I want to talk about just for a moment or two is be really careful about where you go, and this is particularly relevant as we go into this conference. You’re going to come home from this conference feeling overwhelmed by all the things you could do. You’re probably already feeling it. Mike’s talk talked about a few things this morning. He’s talking about bots.

Should we be doing bots? Should we be doing Facebook, Instagram? Snapchat, I don’t think so. There’s lots of different things that you can be doing there and where should you be spending your time. I just want to give you three pieces of advice on that. Firstly, focus on what is converting for you already. A lot of people come to a conference like this and say, “I’m going to give up blogging to get into Instagram stories.” I’ve seen people do this. I’ve seen bloggers give up wanting to get onto Twitter, to Instagram, to Facebook.

All the ones who just jump onto Facebook are all coming back to me and going, “I wish I kept blogging.” Focus on what is working for you now. The new stuff that’s coming up all the time, maybe it’s something you should be focusing your time on, but you should be spending most of your time on what is actually working for you and for others in the industry now. For me, the thing that is working the best for me is search engine optimization. Search sends me over half of my traffic. Facebook sends me 8% of my traffic, and that’s my number one social source. Why do I spend three hours a day on Facebook? Why, when search is converting so much more? Search isn’t going away.

The second biggest driver of traffic for me is email. I send my own avalanche of traffic every week. We sent a newsletter last night. I know today will be our biggest day of traffic. Why aren’t I spending more time on that? Focus on what is working. Yes, there’s all this new cool stuff around at the moment. Spend some time on that. Learn to see whether that might convert for you, but spend more time on the things that are working for you today.

The second thing: Focus on what you have more control over. You don’t own Facebook. You’re building their asset. You don’t own Instagram. You’re building their asset. Build your asset, your podcast, your blog, your email list. Now, you don’t have complete control over your email list because Google’s now getting in the middle of that and filtering some of your emails into little different inboxes and things, but you still have those email addresses which you can use in different contexts as well.

Build your assets. Focus on these things. Yes, experiment in these other things as well, but here’s the thing that you should be doing with social media, in my opinion: Leverage them while they last. Ride the waves of these new things that come. Bots might be the new thing that’s going to last for the next year or two until the marketers all destroy it, but ride that wave while it’s lasting and then be ready to pivot into something new.

Gary V. is really big on this. He talks about this quite a bit. If you watch his trajectory over the last three or four years, he’s jumped from platform, to platform, to platform. Now, what he’s doing is building his own platform a lot more. He’s trying to get people to join his community, to get on his email list. Yes, use these things but use them to build your asset. They’re not a long-term plan in my opinion.

Thank you for coming. You can grab these slides and a few resources that we’ve put together that are relevant for this session. I’m going to be here for the next two days. I’ll stand out there for all of it. If you’ve got questions that last that long, I’m happy to chat to you and take any of your questions out in a whole way because I need to get a newspaper in here. Thanks so much.

 

I hope you enjoyed today’s recording. Again, thank you to the team at Social Media Marketing World for allowing us to use this talk. It’s a great conference. If you do wanna head to a conference next year check it out. I’ll link to them in the show notes today. Not sure whether I’ll be there or not next year but I have been for the last four-five years, so it’s highly likely that I will.

My quote of the week, something I started last week. I’ve got two or three for you and they’re all on the theme of acceleration or growing your business. These are things that might balance out some of what I taught today.

The first one’s from Joel Barker, “Speed is only useful if you are running in the right direction.” For me, that’s a reminder that goals are so important. It’s well and good to grow your business, to grow traffic to accelerate your growth in some ways. But unless you’re clear on the goals that you have, you’re accelerating you, you’re getting faster in the growth of the business for no real ultimate goal, I guess. You could be ending up just going fast in the wrong direction. Get those goals down first.

Second quote from Andy Rooney, “Everyone wants to live at the top of the mountain but all the happiness and growth occurs while you are climbing it.” This is something I think is really relevant for a lot of bloggers because a lot of bloggers I know have this goals that I wanna be a full time blogger, a goal that they wanna get a book deal, or a goal that they wanna be doing something with their blog, and opening up opportunities with their blog. it’s great to have those goals but the reality is that the goal doesn’t bring happiness itself. It can be a momentous occasion but enjoy the ride to the goal as well. That’s what I’ve certainly fanned over the years. The goal itself is important but the journey is really rich as well. I encourage you to pause along the way, don’t be obsessed with growth, but actually enjoy the little wins that you have along the way. Enjoy the friendships that are merged from it. Enjoy the opportunities that you have to change your readers’ lives as well.

Last quote that is from Julia Margaret Cameron, “Growth is a spiral process, doubling back on itself, reassessing, and regrouping.” If you’re at the point in your business where you’re current plateauing in your traffic a little bit, I hope that some of what you’ve heard today will help in that. But also know that it’s natural to have periods of intense growth but also periods where things feel like they’re slowing down, and even where they’re going backwards. Those times are really great opportunity to assess how things are going, to analyze where previous growth has come from, and to look around and see what others are doing to perhaps try something new as well. It’s completely natural to have those times where things fall flat, where things go backwards, that is part of the process. Don’t give up. Keep pushing forward.

Hope you have found those quote useful. I’ll include them over on the show notes today as well. I look forward to chatting with you next week.

Actually, I will also just say that over on the show notes as well, I do link to some of the further listening on the nine things that I mentioned in today’s podcast as well. There’s plenty there to dig into if any of those nine things really pick your interest. go a little bit deeper on them by listening to one of those podcasts. Again, today’s show notes including the slides, our links to those worksheets, link to those quotes, all of the links, all of the things, you can find them at problogger.com/podcast/246.

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246: 9 Ways to Accelerate the Growth of Your Blog

9 Things I Wish I Knew About Blogging That Will Accelerate the Growth of YOUR Blog

In today’s episode I want to share my keynote at this year’s Social Media Marketing World – 9 Things I Wish I Knew About Blogging that Will Accelerate the Growth of YOUR Blog.

Here are the slides from my talk:

Keep focusing on the pillars of pro blogging:

  • Profitable blogs are built on great content
  • Take the initiative to drive traffic to your blog
  • Take ownership of building engagement with your readers
  • Monetization.

Don’t skip over these pillars or take shortcuts.

And here are 9 accelerators to grow your blog faster:

  1. Understand and engage with your audience. Know your readers’ needs.
  2. Transform your readers’ lives. Great content leaves a mark on your readers.
  3. Focus less on the number of eyeballs, and more on engaging the hearts of the right readers.
  4. Create a design based on what you know about your readers. Customize their experience.
  5. Teach and engage readers through challenges using various mediums.
  6. Collaborate with others to:
    • exchange services
    • generate content
    • drive traffic
    • create revenue streams.
  7. Focus on creating evergreen content that maintains relevance and doesn’t date as fast as other content.
  8. Maintain your archives, or they depreciate. Archives are an income-generating asset.
  9. Be careful about where you go all-in on.. Where should you spend your time?

Quotes of the Week:

“Speed is only useful if you are running in the right direction.” – Joel Barker, Future Edge

“Everyone wants to live at the top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.” – Andy Rooney

“Growth is a spiral process, doubling back on itself, reassessing, and regrouping.” – Julia Margaret Cameron

Links and Resources for 9 Ways to Accelerate the Growth of Your Blog:

Further Listening:

Courses

Join our Facebook group

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

Darren: Good morning and welcome to episode 246 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com. A blog, podcast, event, job board, series of ebooks, and courses, all designed to help you to start an amazing blog to grow the audience on their blog, to create great content, and to build some profit around that blog as well. You can learn more about what we do at ProBlogger at problogger.com.

In today’s episode, I want to share with you a recording of a talk I gave this year at Social Media Marketing World. A great event run by Mike Stelzner and his team from Social Media Examiner. This talk is one that I got a lot of positive feedback on. In fact, I don’t think I’ve have so much positive feedback on a talk at Social Media Marketing World as I’ve received both at the event this year and since the event. I’ve got permission from Mike and his team, who’ve kindly allowed me to republish it here on the podcast in its entirety.

The title of the talk is Nine Things I knew About Blogging that will Accelerate the Growth of your Blog. It’s nine things that really–today, as I look back over at the last 16 years, have been really responsible for most of the growth in my blogging. These are things that I think people that are just starting out with blogging will learn a lot from but also those of you who are along the way who wanna be the best in growth in your blogging someway. Some of these are more relevant to beginners than others. Others are a little bit more advanced. I hope there’s something for everyone in this.

Now, the other thing I should say is that you’re gonna hear me touch on a few things that I have talked about in other podcasts–of late and also in the past. There will be a little bit of repeat in this for some of you but I’m hoping that by hearing all nine things together, you’ll see how some of them fit together. I would love to hear what you think about this keynote, if you’ve got any comments, if you’ve got any thoughts on it, anything you wanna add, any questions you have, feel free to ask me either on Facebook group or over on the show notes as well.

The other thing I will say about the show notes is that, I’ve also put the slides from this talk. you may actually find the slides useful as I go through this talk. It’s probably ideal to have them with you. I’ll put them up as a slideshare over at problogger.com/podcast/246. That’s where you can get the slides, episode 246 over on problogger.com/podcast. There’s also, in the slides, free download links mentioned to some worksheets, some guides that we’ve put together for you. You will see in the slides a link into our member’s area which is brand new and in that we have a variety of worksheets and guides that you can grab but those mentioned in the slides but also some extra ones as well.

If you wanna check out those, you’ll see a link in the slides and in the show notes but also you can find them by going to problogger.com/members and that’s a new area that we’ve set-up on ProBlogger, it’s completely free. It allows you just to download some of those guides and we do hope to add more of those in as well. Find all that at problogger.com/podcast/246.

Lastly, just a really quick mention, this episode is brought to you by Success Incubator–an event that I’m running with some good friends this year in Orlando. If you enjoy today’s podcast, it will give you a feel for what we do at that event because I do some teaching every year at that event, and we also do a little bit of masterminding as well. It’s in September 24th and 25th in Orlando. All the details are linked to on today’s show notes or you can go to problogger.com/success.

Alright, after I’ve said all that, I’m gonna just hit play on this week’s recording from my talk, and at the end I’ll come back and I’ll share my quote of the week and give you some further listening as well. One last little thing, it does get a little echoey in the recording, I hope you forgive me for that, and give you a bit of a feel for being at a live event. I’ll see what I can do with the recording and see if I can get rid of a little bit of that echo but please, do bear with me on that one. Hope you enjoy my talk from Social Media Marketing World.

Mike: Our speaker today, of course, is the amazing Darren Rowse. When I started as a blogger back in 2009, he was one of those guys that I wanted to be when I grow up.

If you don’t know who he is, he’s the founder of problogger.com. He’s also the founder of Digital Photography School, he has a conference of his own. Without wasting any more of his precious and valuable time, he’s got a lot to give you, please welcome Darren Rowse to the stage.

Darren: Thank you for that beautiful introduction. You can come with me everywhere. I want to talk today about things that are going to accelerate the growth of your blog. I’ve changed my title slightly for those of you who have already noticed it. I’m giving you nine ways to accelerate the growth of your blog because I’ve only got 45 minutes, if you want the 10th one, come and talk to me in the hall afterwards and I’ll make something up.

The other thing I’ve changed is this word “accelerate.” I think I used the word shortcuts in my talk, and I did that because Mike said, “You really need to get your title in today, Darren,” I just came up with that one. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that shortcuts kind of give the indication that you can skip over bits of the journey. I’m a big believer that you need to really build the foundations first, and so I’ve moved towards this acceleration idea.

If you’ve been reading ProBlogger, or listening to the podcast, or you’ve come to one of our events, you’ll know I talk a lot about the pillars of problogging, and these are the things that you really need to be doing day to day, these are the things that you can’t skip over.

I want to put these things out front before I get into my nine accelerants because they are so important. They’re not the sexiest things in the world to talk about because they’re just no-brainers, but I really want to emphasize them because everything I say in this session builds upon these four thing.

Great blogs, profitable blogs, no matter what profit means to you builds on great content on you taking the initiative to drive traffic to your own blog, you taking ownership over the building of engagement with your readers and monetization.

Most bloggers, when they start out, kind of instinctively know that they need to create content. That’s what a blog is about, but a lot of bloggers start out thinking that if they just do good enough content, the traffic will appear, the engagement will happen and opportunities to make money will land in their lap.

The reality couldn’t be further from that. You need to take ownership and be working on a daily basis in each of these four areas. It’s the accumulation of the little things that you do in these four areas that build a profitable blog.

I want to put that out front and say you can’t shortcut these things. These are things you need to be working on regularly. It doesn’t need to be daily, but regularly; you need to be building in these four areas.

Having said those things, I want to talk about these nine things that have helped me to accelerate the growth of my blogs over the years, things I wish I knew back in 2002 when I started out and I hope that that will help you in your journey as well.

A few of these are mindset-type things and some of them are a little bit more tactical. I hope they kind of meet different ones of you at different parts in your journey.

The other thing I’ll say is that most of these things really relate well to podcasting and video creation. If you are in those spaces, apply these to that. The first thing is the thing I talk about every time I speak these days, and that is understanding your audience. The more you understand about your audience, the more you know them, the better position you’re in to serve them and the faster your blog will grow.

I started blogging in 2002. This is a picture of my first blog. It’s really ugly. It’s the only blog I ever designed myself. It took me months to get to that stage and then I realized I needed to find someone who knew something about blog design. It really was a blog that served me. It was a fun hobby. It was a place where I could express myself. It was a place where I could have a creative outlet and talk about the things that interested me.

That’s why I started blogging. I started because I just wanted to talk out loud about these things that interested me and it served me. Then, about two weeks into my blogging journey, I realized that, accidentally, I was also serving other people because I started to get these emails from people saying, “That’s really interesting. That really helped me. Thank you for writing that.” At first, I was like, “Well, that’s weird. I didn’t really write these for anyone else. I was just expressing myself,” but I realized there was this opportunity there to serve other people.

I remember the day I got my first comment from someone who wasn’t my mom and that was kind of a weird experience, and I realized that when he left this comment, I got his email address. I thought, “Maybe I’m supposed to email the people who comment,” and so I sent him an email. I basically said, “Thanks for your comment. Who are you? I’d love to know a little bit more about you.”

That was one of the best things that I ever did because he responded and he said, “I’ve left hundreds of comments and no one’s ever emailed me so thanks for that. This is who I am,” and he introduced himself to me and we began to have this conversation.

I decided to do that anytime anyone left me a comment for the first two years of my blog, I emailed every single commenter personally. That was one of the best things that I ever did because it built engagement and built a relationship but, most of all, it helped me to understand who my readers were.

I began in those two years to see patterns in my readers, and this idea of who my reader was began to form. What I realized is that the more I got to know who my reader was, the better position I was in to write content that would impact them as much as it would impact me.

This thing began to happen as my blog began to grow. I realized the more I understood about who was reading, the better position I was in to drive traffic to my blog, to build engagement on my blog and then, later on when I began to monetize, I was in a great position to be able to monetize as well, because I knew my readers’ needs and I could find ways to meet those needs through the products that I created.

One of the best things I ever did when I started my main blog today, Digital Photography School, is to create avatars, one of the best things that you can do. You probably already got one in your head, but I think there’s something really profound about getting it down on paper or getting it down in writing, because it will cement in your mind who is reading your blog.

You’ll also begin to picture these people, all these hypothetical people, as you write your content, and your content will come across in a more personal way as well.

My first avatars were pretty light, they had demographics, where they hung out online, how they spent their money as it pertained to my topic, the questions that they had, the felt needs that they had. Gradually over time, I began to deepen my avatars. I began to tap into some underlying things that were really powerful to understand about my readers.

I really would encourage you to particularly look out for these things. Firstly, look out for the pain of your readers. It sounds really negative, but it’s very important. Understand their needs, not just the questions they have, their felt needs, but their real needs. Over time, you’ll begin to see that behind their questions are deeper things.

On ProBlogger, we get a lot of questions about blogging and technical things, but one of the things I’ve learned about ProBlogger readers is that a lot of them are actually really fearful.

I’ve had three people this morning come up and say, “I used to have a blog, but I can’t get over fear. It’s stopping me from blogging,” and so we write a lot about fear on ProBlogger because that’s the real need and our readers really respond to that. Understanding these deeper things that are holding them back are really important.

The other things you want to look out for are the gains that they’re looking for: What are their aspirations? What are their dreams? Where do they want to be? What are their goals? Unlock these types of things and it will infect your content.

You’ll create content that’s not just about your topic, but it’s meaningful your readers. I was really fascinated to hear Mike talk so much this morning about meaningful interactions with people because it’s exactly what I’m about with blogging. The more you understand about your reader, the better position you’re in to be meaningful to them.

I’ve got some worksheets for you. Don’t feel under any pressure to grab these at all. If you want to answer worksheets to help you work through creating avatars, it’s there. I’ll show you this link again at the end as well. The second thing that’s really connected to this first is understand not only who’s reading your blog, but how you can potentially transform their life, which sounds very grand and aspirational, but is a very powerful thing.

What I’ve learned over the years is that great content leaves a mark on the people who read it, or listen to it, or view it. Your content should transform your reader’s life in some way. It doesn’t have to be in a big way; it could just be that you put a smile on their face because you entertained them or it could be that you informed them of the latest news. It could be that you gave them a sense of belonging. It could be that they’re suddenly feeling all motivated in some way.

There’s a variety of ways that you can be transformational with your content. As soon as you begin to understand what the transformation is that you can bring, you’ll begin to see that your content will be transformed as well.

Again, a really simple exercise you can do is to grab a piece of paper, on one side, write down a few characteristics of your reader when they arrive on your side. This essentially is the avatar that I was just talking about.

This is just great to know in and of itself, but the second part is even more powerful: Create an aftershot. Who will your reader be after they’ve left your blog? Even if after one visit, who do you want them to be? How do you want to have changed them? Who do you want your reader to have been after a year of traveling with you? How do you want their life to be different? Understanding that transformation will impact all of the pillars that I was talking about before.

On Digital Photography School, it’s really simple. We are going to take people from being in automatic mode with their amazing camera, to having full creative control of that camera. Simply understanding that gives me ideas for content, but it also gives me a way to promote my blog as well, and to drive traffic to it. It’s so much easier to drive traffic if you promote using the transformation rather than your topic.

Don’t ever say, “I have a blog about photography.” “I have a blog that takes people from automatic mode to having creative control of their cameras.” People will want to read that blog if you talk about the transformation. The topic in and of itself isn’t really that attractive, so talk about the transformation.

Understanding this transformation will give you all kinds of ideas of how you can engage with your audience as well, what questions can you ask them to build engagement. It will also help you with monetization.

The third thing I want to talk about that ties really in with what Mike was talking about earlier, and this is something that will escalate the growth of your blog, maybe not so much in terms of the numbers in your Google Analytics, but in terms of the profitability and the outcomes that you want.

Engaged traffic is exponentially more powerful than just traffic of any kind. What I’d encourage you to do, and this will grow your blog so much faster is to focus not so much upon getting eyeballs, but on actually getting engagement with the heart of your readers.

I learned this the hard way. When I started blogging, I just wanted anyone to read my blog, my mom, my wife, my friends, pretty much anyone. The way that I got them to do that was just send lots of emails to my friends. That didn’t last so long because my friends got annoyed with it. Now, I began to look at other ways of doing that, leaving comments on other blogs. I left comments on every blog that I ever knew.

Gradually over time, I began to see that there were these other sites. There was a site back in the day called Digg. Does anyone remember Digg? It’s like Reddit and you could get your content voted up onto the front page.

I remember one day my content got onto the front page of Digg and I had 150,000 visitors in two hours. I was ecstatic. I was like, “This is going to change my blog. I’m going to start making money. I’m going to become well-known. I’m going to get a book deal,” all those dreams. I had all of the dreams.

I very quickly realized that it didn’t lead to anything that was good at all. It crashed my server and the only people who showed up, those 150,000 people, were teenage snarky boys. They left negative comments and they destroyed the community on my blog. I realized that, one, I want the right readers but, two, I want readers who want to engage. I learned the hard way that eyeballs make you feel good in the short term, but they don’t actually lead to sustainable growth in the long term.

I focus very much upon not the eyeball and getting lots of traffic, get the right reader. Lots of benefits of building this kind of engagement on your blog, which I won’t go through, but it really will help you to grow your blog. Particularly if you’re looking to monetize in some way, no matter what type of monetization you want to do, it will be enhanced my engagement.

Advertisers want to advertise on blogs that have engagement. You’ll sell your products so much more if you’ve got engagement. You’ll be able to monetize the engagement itself using masterminds or membership areas. Engagement is where it’s at.

A lot of people used to say, “Content is king.” I actually think community is king and content, so it certainly goes alongside it. If you can get this community particularly in this day where the algorithms are really looking for engagement, it’s where you should be acting.

How do you get this engagement? The first thing I’ll tell you is, if you want engagement, you need to be engaging. You need to show up. You need to take the lead in that. People will respond to you being generous and being engaging.

Some of the ways that you can do this outside of your blog, apart from writing in an engaging style, and that’s where it really needs to start. At the moment, I think live video continues to be a place where you can build that kind of engagement.

I don’t get hundreds of thousands of people viewing my live videos; I get a few hundred people at a time who view my live videos, but I know those people are much more likely to show up tomorrow and leave a comment on my blog.

Those people are much more likely to share my content on their social media platforms. Those people are much more likely to sign up for my newsletter list to get my opt-ins and eventually to buy one of my products. I see their names pop up all the time. Live video is very powerful.

Groups continue to work for us at the moment. I’m really wary about when this will end; Facebook, particularly, changing their algorithms all the time. While they’re working, they should be surfing that life.

The podcast. I’ve met so many people already at this conference who’ve come up and said things like, “I feel like I know you,” or, “Can we go on walks together every week?” Someone came up the other day and said, “We have a shower together once a week?”

People spend time with you and even though the podcast is not interactive at all, it’s a very personal medium and it builds engagement. It builds this sense that people know you, which is a really important thing, so include that there as well.

Meetups and events are probably the best thing that I do in terms of getting to know my audience, whilst you can’t get all of your audience to them, that will really build advocates for your brand and so any way that you can meet people in real life is important as well.

The last thing I’ll talk about in a moment is challenges. They’ve been very important for us. This is something I did last year on the way home from social media marketing world. I’ve got a 25-hour commute to get home. I was like, “How can I fill up these 25 hours?” so I got onto my Facebook group and I said, “I’m going to ask every question you ask me over the next 25 hours.” I was sitting in airports a lot of that time.

Our Facebook group only had about 800 members at the time, so it wasn’t a big community, but 200 of them showed up and asked a question over that time. It was fascinating to see how spending that 24-hour period with my readers really grew the engagement of that little community.

It was really fascinating to see that most of the action actually happened when I was in the air and didn’t have WiFi. My community showed up and answered each other’s questions more than I answered their questions. This illustrates that point: If you’re willing to be engaging, your community will take your lead and they will be engaging, too, not just with you but with each other. That’s where real community happens.

The last thing I’ll tell you about engagement is this idea of know, like, and trust. Who has heard that quote? People do business with those that they know, like, and trust. You will hear that quote at least three times over the next two days. People use that quote all the time at this conference.

Here’s the thing about know, like, and trust: It’s a two-way thing and people will know, like, and trust you so much faster if you show that you know them, and you show up, and spend time with them, and show that you like them, and that you trust them by being vulnerable with them as well. That’s just an example of that. In that 25 hours, my readers began to realize that I wasn’t just there to get them to know, like, and trust me. I actually wanted to interact with them.

The fourth thing I want to talk about is a little bit more strategic, and that is design. I’ve already shown you that I’m not a great designer, so I can’t give you any tips on colors, or fonts. The thing I’ll say about design is, increasingly, our design is about trying to meet our readers where they’re at. You know a lot about your readers just simply by looking at where they came from? Did they come from Google? Or an email? Or social media?  Whether they’ve been on your site before? What part of the site they’re on?

These things are things that we know and we get these data, so we should be reflecting this on our design. Some of the things we’ve been trying to do on ProBlogger are to try and create a design that really meets our readers where they’re at to show that we know them and to show that we want to help transform them.

In the old days, it was all about trying to get people to view more about content, just any of our content. Today, it’s more about communicating the journey and trying to show our readers where they’re at.

If you’ve got a ProBlogger now on the front page, right down the bottom of the front page, we have this heading, “I need help, too.”

Underneath that, there’s these eight icons. The eight icons represent pain and the gains of our readers. We’ve identified, over the years, that our readers have eight main reasons they come to ProBlogger. They want to learn to start a blog, they want more traffic, they want to make more money, they want to be more productive with their time, they want to understand the tools, these are the basic things that they come looking for information on. Everywhere on the site, we greet them with an invitation to get help in one of these areas. This is to demonstrate that we know who our readers are, to communicate, “We know your pain.”

Instead of directing them to a category page, we direct them to what we call a portal page. On these portal pages, we’ve curated an experience for our readers. We greet them with a video where I communicate that I, too, have this pain or I, too, want this gain and I’ve had experience in that. Then, we’ve curated some content underneath that, both blog posts and podcasts, that take them through solutions to that pain.

I know that if I get you to this portal page, you will stay on our site for at least three times longer than the average of our site. You’ll view quite considerably more pages, you’ll sign up to our newsletter, much more likely, you’ll connect with us on Facebook more likely as well. Eventually, you’ll buy one of our products as well.

Getting people to a page where you demonstrate you know your reader and you meet them with content that’s where they’re at is very powerful. Traditionally, if people come to a blog, the chances of them finding content that meets their pain is pretty small because the latest content that you’ve got is highlighted to them. If that content doesn’t meet their pain immediately, they’ll bounce away, so we’re trying to meet people where they’re at.

Another thing that we do on the front page of ProBlogger is greet different readers differently. If you’ve never been to ProBlogger before, you’ll get this greeting. It’s all about the transformation. This is what we’re in the business of doing. We want to take you from here to here and we’d love to connect with you.

If you’ve been to our site before and you’ve got a cookie from us, we don’t want to show you this because you already know about ProBlogger. We want to show you this, and this is, “Welcome back,” and, “Here’s the posts you’ve missed since last time you were there.” This is a very simple way to customize the experience of your reader. It’s thinking in your design about how you can meet different readers based upon what you know about them.

The fifth thing I want to talk about is challenges. Since 2004, when I started ProBlogger, I can see that there have been spikes of activity over those years: spikes in traffic, spikes in engagement and spike to profit as well. I can track all those spikes back to challenges that I’ve run on the side. The first challenge I ran on ProBlogger was back in 2005 and I did it completely by accident.

One night, I was lying in bed at 2:00 AM thinking about my blog as I often do, and I couldn’t go to sleep. I had idea: “I want to start 31-day series of content on my blog,” and every day after these 31 days, I want to give people a little bit of teaching and then give people a little bit of homework to do, something practical that they could do. I thought this was going to be a teaching series.

I launched it the next day. I had no idea what the 31 days were going to be, so I had to make it up on the spot and it took off. The first post I did was the biggest pose I’d ever written, and people joined in this challenge. They didn’t see it just as a teaching experience; they actually saw it as an engagement experience. They wanted to join this event that I was running. I called it 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. They saw it as an event and I was, “Okay. I’ll make it an event,” and so I started to make it more engaging. I said, “At the end of every day, come back and show us what you did,” and readers began to check out what each other were doing and these conversations were opening up.

The second year I did it, we added a forum to it and we added an opt-in, so we sent out emails along the way as well. Every time we ran it, it was the biggest traffic we’d ever had, the biggest engagement we’d ever had.

At the end of 2009 when I did it, my readers said, “Hey, we really would love it if you could create a PDF version of this.” Some of them were saying, “We’ll pay you for it,” and I was like, “How much will you pay me for it?”

They were like, “$15 or $20,” and I was like, “No you wouldn’t pay that,” and they were like, “Yes, we will.” I was like, “Hey, let’s test this,” so I created the ebook and I put it on sale, thinking maybe it would sell $100 or so because all of the content was already on the blog for free. I mean, who’s going to buy something that’s already there for free? About 10,000 people bought that in the first year so I was like, “Okay. These challenges can actually be monetized as well.” People will take this free information, but if you re-package it into something that they can use again and again, that’s useful in an ongoing way, that’ll be great.

The other cool thing about this is that other groups of bloggers that I don’t even know about buy the book together and run through the challenge together. They’re running their own challenges. You give them the format, they will take and run it as well.

You can do challenges in other mediums. This is a challenge I ran on the podcast a year or so ago, seven days of writing challenges. It really took off and it led to a lot of growth in the podcast.

This is another challenge we did earlier this year. We launched this as a course. It’s a free course on how to start a blog and it’s the type of course you could do anytime, but we launched it as a challenge and we took several thousand bloggers through this challenge together. This, really, is one of the best things that we’ve done in the last year or so. Challenges are very powerful. There’s lots of benefits of running a challenge on your blog.

Again, for those of you interested in monetization, you can monetize these in a number of ways. Firstly, you could run a free challenge and then do an upsell at the end of that. Our starter blog course is free, but we’ll be selling our 31 Days to Build a Better Course, which is coming out soon at the end of that to people. You can monetize it with sponsorships so, “Here’s a free challenge that you can participate in. It’s presented by this brand,” and you can charge for that.

You can do affiliate marketing during it. In our starter blog course, we had about 6000 people go through that. We know, on average, that we make about $6 per participant in that through affiliate stuff that we do. We promote servers and web press tools along the way. We disclose all of those so our readers know that they’re helping us as well. The other way that you can do it is to sell the challenge, and that’s what we did with 31 Days to Build A Better Blog, the ebook.

There’s a variety of ways that you can use challenges to actually build a business as well but, for me, the challenge is really exciting because it helps you to get to know your reader better.

At the end of our Starter Blog challenge, we’ve got thousands of bloggers now who are engaged with our brand. We just help them to start a blog and they’re really grateful for that. That “know, like and trust” has really grown as a result of them spending a month with us working on achieving something. We’re actually helping them in a tangible way.

The sixth thing I want to talk about is collaborations. Collaborations are probably one of the most powerful things I’ve done to grow my blog. Blogging is a juggle. Every blogger in the room knows what that juggle is, to create content, to build engagement, to drive traffic, to maintain all the social media accounts, to keep WordPress up to date and all the plugins. It’s just making me stressed just listing these things off. They’re balls in the air and it’s so hard to keep all those balls in the air.

The thing I’ve learned over the years is that it’s a lot easier to keep balls in the air and more balls in the air when you actually juggle with other people. There’s a variety of ways you can do this. You could outsource, you could hire a team but most bloggers don’t have the resources to do that. The best way to do it is to find win-win ways of working together with other bloggers, other content creators.

I did this very early on in my blogging. I showed you my blog design before. I realized that I needed to find someone who knew about blog design, so I found someone who was willing to design my blog for free if I did some work for them. I did some writing for them. I drove some traffic to their business as well. It was a collaboration where we exchanged services. Pretty much in every one of the pillars that I’ve talked about before, there are opportunities to collaborate.

When it comes to content as bloggers, I think we should be collaborating more. Yes, I know a lot of just post for each other, but why don’t we create content together? YouTubers do it all the time. It’s so normal for two YouTubers to come together to create a video together and then they repost that onto their own channels. Why don’t we do that more as bloggers? People co-author books. People co-author articles in mainstream media.

I published almost 19,000 articles on my two main blogs, and two of them have been co-authored posts. I think we could be working together more to collaborate in content. There’s a whole heap of ways that we could also collaborate in driving traffic to one another, to build engagement. Why does every blogger have to have their own Facebook group? Why don’t bloggers join together to create Facebook groups together and come up with win-win ways of building collaborations around that?

When it comes to monetization, I particularly think there’s opportunities to collaborate. Back in 2009, I created this ebook. It’s the first ebook I’d ever created and it was basically a rehash of a lot of articles that I’d already written on Digital Photography School. It almost killed me. It killed me to create this ebook. Even though it was already republished content and it was mainly all written, just the design of it, the editing of it, the proofreading of it, the putting-it-together, almost killed me. It took me five or six months to get this ebook together.

I knew I should do it. I’ve been procrastinating. I finally did it. I launched it, wondering if anyone would buy it. We sold about $70,000 worth of copies of it in the first 10 days. I suddenly realized that maybe I should do more ebooks but I didn’t want to go through that process again of having to create another ebook so I began to look for ways of getting others involved in this process.

I reached out to one of the authors on our site who had been writing some articles for us and I said, “Hey, Neil, would you be interested in writing an ebook? We’ve got the traffic. We’ve got the shopping cart system now. We can do customer service, we can bring that side of things, but I can’t write another ebook. I don’t have the time. Would you do it?” and he was like, “Yes, sure. No problem.”

Three weeks later, he’d written an ebook that took me five months. It was completely from scratch. He was just a great writer and, when we put it on sale, it did better than our first one. He wrote another one a few months later, and another one, and another one. We’ve got 30 ebooks now on our sites and I have not written any of them. These are all collaborations. We’ve got six courses. We’ve got Lightroom Presets. We’ve got Printables. All of them have been collaborations, every single one.

In that time since 2009, maybe I would’ve written another five or six ebooks on this site, but we’ve got all of this suite of products now. Yes, we share the revenue and sometimes it sucks to think, “We’re only getting 50%,” but it’s actually really exciting that we’ve also opened up revenue streams for all these other people as well. An ebook writer the other day emailed me and said, “You just helped us to buy our first house,” so it’s really great to be a part of that process as well. He’s also helped us to buy a house, too, which is nice, too.

As I look at all the income that we earn, these are the main income streams on my blogs. I’m happy to talk about income streams after this session. Almost all of them are actually collaborations. There’s only one that’s not out of all of those. Really, think beyond you when it comes to monetizing your blog. It’s one of the most powerful ways to build profit around your blog. I’m not just talking here about monetizing through affiliate products; I actually think business-to-business. You could be collaborating with others in your industry to create things together and find win-win- solutions. I’ve got a podcast on that that goes into a little bit more depth if you do want to listen to a bit more on that topic.

Ever-growing content, I was talking to someone just earlier about this. This is one of the best things that I ever did. I completely agree with Tim Farris on this. One of the most labor-efficient ways to grow your blog readership but also engagement as well is to focus on creating ever-growing content. Ever-growing content is content that doesn’t date as fast as other content. This is my first commercial blog. It’s actually a photography blog that I had before Digital Photography School.

It was a news and reviews site, and I did two types of posts. There were news posts and reviews. The news posts would do really well for three days after I write them. “Here’s a new camera! It’s exciting! Canon’s got this new camera,” and then no one would want to know about that post three days later because it’s old news. To create a blog that’s purely news, you need to create a lot of content every day. That’s why some of these gadget sites publish 20 or 30 articles a day because they just need to pump out lots of content to keep the traffic coming.

The other type of content I did on this site were reviews of cameras, and these were a bit more ever-growing. You’d write a review of a brand new camera today, people will be interested in that review for about a year until Canon brings out the next model that supersedes the last one. That taught me how powerful ever-growing content was. I was able to track how much our news articles could make us through ads versus how much our review posts would make us through ads. The review posts were 10 times as much in terms of the earnings.

I began to wonder, “What would happen if I had even more ever-growing content in this particular space of photography? What would that look like?” and that, of course, chained into Digital Photography School where we teach people how to use cameras because the basics of how to use a camera haven’t changed since I was in Year 10 at high school when I was using film camera. Aperture is still aperture. Shutter speed is still shutter speed. How to hold a camera hasn’t changed that much. There certainly are aspects of photography that have changed but the basic things haven’t changed so I decided to start writing a site that was more about this type of content, content that wouldn’t date as much.

Now, we still do some news-y type posts. I thought it’d be interesting to show you a couple of case studies on different types of posts. This is a news-y type of post, a post we wrote three years ago on Adobe’s new version of Lightroom. You can see there the Google Analytics. It did quite well for the first week of this post. I think Day One had about 3,000 visitors. Over the first couple of weeks of this post, we had about 11,200 visitors to it.

Over the last three years, we’ve added another 18,000 viewers. It really has not worked for us very much. In fact, at the moment, it’s getting one viewer per month, and they just happen to stumble upon it or maybe it’s me checking out whether it’s still alive. It’s not really working for us at all. It took the writer about an hour to write it and a little bit of editing but it really hasn’t worked for us.

This is another post that we wrote two weeks later, and it’s on a topic that we get questions on from time to time and we continue to get questions on. It’s more ever-growing in nature. Now, this isn’t the most spectacular post. You can see that the pattern there in the first couple of weeks was very similar. It had about 16,000 visitors to it over the first two or three weeks but since that time, it’s had 42,000 visitors to it. You can see there are some little extra spikes along the journey, and these are times that we’ve re-shared it.

This is the beauty of ever-growing content: You write it three years ago, I can share this again on our Facebook page today and our readers will go, “Thanks. That’s really good.” If I re-shared that news post about Lightroom, people would go, “Why are you sharing this? This is three years old.” Ever-growing content allows you so share it. Other people are sharing it, too. The other thing is if you drill into that graph even more, you’ll see that 40 people every day view this post from Google. Those 40 people don’t sound like much but, 365 days a year, that begins to add up over time. We’ve got 8,000 posts on our site now, too, and if they’re all getting 40 visitors a day, that adds up over time as well.

Alongside that, occasionally, you do a post that actually adds up even bigger. This is one of those posts. I wrote it in 2007. It didn’t really start that spectacularly. It had about 100 visits a day because that site was really small at the time, but this one’s actually grown in how much traffic it gets over time. It’s had over 40 million people view it since that time. It took me two hours to write it back then, and this post is working for us today and continues to earn us revenue from advertising but also brings in subscribers to our blog because we have opt-ins associated with that as well. Then, we’re able to sell to those people down the track.

This is the power of ever-growing content, all those 8,000 posts with visitors and this one that gets about 3,000 visitors a day still today that begins to add up over time. This is why you begin to see the acceleration of your blog. The more archives you have that are ever-growing, it really does pay off. It doesn’t happen overnight but it grows over time.

The second last thing I want to talk about is maintaining your archives, and this is particularly important if you go down this route of ever-growing content. This is a major trend that I’m seeing that’s not being talked about at the moment amongst bloggers. They’re spending more time doing this. Your archives are an asset. I’m just showing you that there’s gold in your archives. You’re probably all thinking about a post that just still gets traffic today. That post is an asset and potentially is an income-generating asset.

Here’s the thing: Your assets depreciate and I bet you your archives are depreciating right now. I dare you. Go back to the first post you ever wrote. What are you going to do? You will cringe. I guarantee it. We all do. We all cringe, and that’s because your archives are depreciating. It doesn’t look as good anymore because we used to use these tiny little thumbnails and sometimes their images are broken. We have these call-to-actions that don’t go anywhere anymore because that social network doesn’t actually exist anymore. “Share on MySpace,” and all of those types of things going on.

There’s broken links there. Your writing has improved since then. You used to write in a very naïve kind of way. You used to make all these assumptions. You used to format those posts differently. Maybe you didn’t use headlines and it was just a long line of text. Your archives are depreciating. They’re looking dated. They probably have information in them that needs to be updated as well. Why don’t we maintain them? If you maintain your archives, you can actually reverse that trend.

I’m just showing you an example of that. That ISO post that’s had 40-something million people? I’ve updated that every six months since 2007. It’s better now than it was when I started. It’s my goal to continue to improve the way it looks, the way it reads and the information in it. I want it to be the best article that I can, and that’s why it’s growing. This is something that’s happening more and more. We maintain all of our assets because we know there are consequences in the future if we don’t.

This is what I’m noticing: A lot of bloggers are doing it. They’re actually publishing lists. A lot of the big bloggers don’t publish anywhere near as much new content as they used to, and that’s because they’re publishing better content when they’re publishing new content. It’s deeper content. It’s longer-form content in many cases, but they’re also putting more of the effort into up-keeping their archives because there’s better return in up-keeping and improving their archives than there is in creating lots of new posts.

Particularly if you’ve been blogging for five or six years, you’ve probably written about everything there is to write about on your topic. There’s probably not a lot of new stuff to write but you can be improving those old archives and even republishing them and re-sharing them as well. There’s lots of benefits of up-keeping your archives but the challenge I have for you is to really start to build that into your editorial strategy. Identify the old posts that have done well, the best posts–the ones that have had a lot of traffic in particular, start with those–and anything that’s underperformed in the past.

I’m not going to go through these individually but these are some of the things that you can do to improve your content–and, yes, you can grab these slides later to work through these. The thing I would encourage you to do particularly is to give your old content the cringe test. I challenge you: Every day, look at one of your old posts. That means, over the year, you’ll have looked at 365 posts. Some of those old posts will be fine; you won’t cringe. They’re probably good. If you cringe, you need to update it. It’s really important to do that. Then, build that into your calendar. Most bloggers have a calendar. I publish new content on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Why don’t you update content on Tuesday and Thursday? Actually, make that a part of your system of creating content.

The last thing I want to talk about just for a moment or two is be really careful about where you go, and this is particularly relevant as we go into this conference. You’re going to come home from this conference feeling overwhelmed by all the things you could do. You’re probably already feeling it. Mike’s talk talked about a few things this morning. He’s talking about bots.

Should we be doing bots? Should we be doing Facebook, Instagram? Snapchat, I don’t think so. There’s lots of different things that you can be doing there and where should you be spending your time. I just want to give you three pieces of advice on that. Firstly, focus on what is converting for you already. A lot of people come to a conference like this and say, “I’m going to give up blogging to get into Instagram stories.” I’ve seen people do this. I’ve seen bloggers give up wanting to get onto Twitter, to Instagram, to Facebook.

All the ones who just jump onto Facebook are all coming back to me and going, “I wish I kept blogging.” Focus on what is working for you now. The new stuff that’s coming up all the time, maybe it’s something you should be focusing your time on, but you should be spending most of your time on what is actually working for you and for others in the industry now. For me, the thing that is working the best for me is search engine optimization. Search sends me over half of my traffic. Facebook sends me 8% of my traffic, and that’s my number one social source. Why do I spend three hours a day on Facebook? Why, when search is converting so much more? Search isn’t going away.

The second biggest driver of traffic for me is email. I send my own avalanche of traffic every week. We sent a newsletter last night. I know today will be our biggest day of traffic. Why aren’t I spending more time on that? Focus on what is working. Yes, there’s all this new cool stuff around at the moment. Spend some time on that. Learn to see whether that might convert for you, but spend more time on the things that are working for you today.

The second thing: Focus on what you have more control over. You don’t own Facebook. You’re building their asset. You don’t own Instagram. You’re building their asset. Build your asset, your podcast, your blog, your email list. Now, you don’t have complete control over your email list because Google’s now getting in the middle of that and filtering some of your emails into little different inboxes and things, but you still have those email addresses which you can use in different contexts as well.

Build your assets. Focus on these things. Yes, experiment in these other things as well, but here’s the thing that you should be doing with social media, in my opinion: Leverage them while they last. Ride the waves of these new things that come. Bots might be the new thing that’s going to last for the next year or two until the marketers all destroy it, but ride that wave while it’s lasting and then be ready to pivot into something new.

Gary V. is really big on this. He talks about this quite a bit. If you watch his trajectory over the last three or four years, he’s jumped from platform, to platform, to platform. Now, what he’s doing is building his own platform a lot more. He’s trying to get people to join his community, to get on his email list. Yes, use these things but use them to build your asset. They’re not a long-term plan in my opinion.

Thank you for coming. You can grab these slides and a few resources that we’ve put together that are relevant for this session. I’m going to be here for the next two days. I’ll stand out there for all of it. If you’ve got questions that last that long, I’m happy to chat to you and take any of your questions out in a whole way because I need to get a newspaper in here. Thanks so much.

 

I hope you enjoyed today’s recording. Again, thank you to the team at Social Media Marketing World for allowing us to use this talk. It’s a great conference. If you do wanna head to a conference next year check it out. I’ll link to them in the show notes today. Not sure whether I’ll be there or not next year but I have been for the last four-five years, so it’s highly likely that I will.

My quote of the week, something I started last week. I’ve got two or three for you and they’re all on the theme of acceleration or growing your business. These are things that might balance out some of what I taught today.

The first one’s from Joel Barker, “Speed is only useful if you are running in the right direction.” For me, that’s a reminder that goals are so important. It’s well and good to grow your business, to grow traffic to accelerate your growth in some ways. But unless you’re clear on the goals that you have, you’re accelerating you, you’re getting faster in the growth of the business for no real ultimate goal, I guess. You could be ending up just going fast in the wrong direction. Get those goals down first.

Second quote from Andy Rooney, “Everyone wants to live at the top of the mountain but all the happiness and growth occurs while you are climbing it.” This is something I think is really relevant for a lot of bloggers because a lot of bloggers I know have this goals that I wanna be a full time blogger, a goal that they wanna get a book deal, or a goal that they wanna be doing something with their blog, and opening up opportunities with their blog. it’s great to have those goals but the reality is that the goal doesn’t bring happiness itself. It can be a momentous occasion but enjoy the ride to the goal as well. That’s what I’ve certainly fanned over the years. The goal itself is important but the journey is really rich as well. I encourage you to pause along the way, don’t be obsessed with growth, but actually enjoy the little wins that you have along the way. Enjoy the friendships that are merged from it. Enjoy the opportunities that you have to change your readers’ lives as well.

Last quote that is from Julia Margaret Cameron, “Growth is a spiral process, doubling back on itself, reassessing, and regrouping.” If you’re at the point in your business where you’re current plateauing in your traffic a little bit, I hope that some of what you’ve heard today will help in that. But also know that it’s natural to have periods of intense growth but also periods where things feel like they’re slowing down, and even where they’re going backwards. Those times are really great opportunity to assess how things are going, to analyze where previous growth has come from, and to look around and see what others are doing to perhaps try something new as well. It’s completely natural to have those times where things fall flat, where things go backwards, that is part of the process. Don’t give up. Keep pushing forward.

Hope you have found those quote useful. I’ll include them over on the show notes today as well. I look forward to chatting with you next week.

Actually, I will also just say that over on the show notes as well, I do link to some of the further listening on the nine things that I mentioned in today’s podcast as well. There’s plenty there to dig into if any of those nine things really pick your interest. go a little bit deeper on them by listening to one of those podcasts. Again, today’s show notes including the slides, our links to those worksheets, link to those quotes, all of the links, all of the things, you can find them at problogger.com/podcast/246.

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245: Why Shiny Object Syndrome Is Sometimes a Good Thing

Why Shiny Object Syndrome Can Be Good for Your Blog and Business

Do you suffer from Shiny Object Syndrome? Are you easily distracted by something new – a tool, medium, tactic, or income stream?

Whatever it is, it captivates and distracts you in the moment. And it can easily take over your day, week, or even month.

Shiny Object Syndrome has the power to take you away from your core business, which can be destructive.

But it can be a good thing, too.

JR Caparas asked me how to avoid Shiny Object Syndrome in blogging. My answer? Don’t avoid it. Just make sure you put boundaries around it.

Sometimes shiny objects can give you energy, spark new ideas, and help you discover new ways to engage your audience.

So rather than avoiding shiny objects, make time for them. But don’t let them hijack your business, your time and your life.

You need to spend most of your time focusing on what’s most important, what keeps your blog growing, what’s already working, and what’s proven to work.

But put some time aside to play, experiment, learn, and be curious. And look for what makes sparks fly and gives you energy when you play with that shiny object.

Put shiny objects in their place.

Quote of the Week: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Washington Thurman, author, philosopher, theologian, educator, and civil rights leader.

Links and Resources for Why Shiny Object Syndrome is Sometimes a Good Thing

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Hey there and welcome to episode 245 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast event, job board, series of ebooks, and courses all designed to help you to start an amazing blog, to grow that blog, to monetize that blog and hopefully have a good time while you’re doing it. You can learn more about ProBlogger at problogger.com.

Now, today’s podcast is all about something that I know many of us struggle with in this space, it is shiny object syndrome, that time when you’re working away and suddenly you find yourself doing something completely different to what you had set down to do. You’re being distracted by something; it could be a game on your phone, but it also could be something that is good, a new tool, a medium, a new tactic, a new income string.

Whatever it is, it captivates you in that moment, it looms large, it can distract you right where you’re sitting not only for that moment, but it can end up distracting you if you’re anything like me, for a day, for a week, for a month, or for the rest of the year. It has the power to take you away from your core business and to be really distracted, but, and this is what I want to talk about today, I think it can actually be a good thing too. There’s some positives when it comes to shiny object syndrome. I want to explore that a little bit in today’s show. It will be a short one, but I want to put to you that shiny object syndrome is actually something you can—maybe you should plan for, maybe you should actually build into your week.

Hang with me though, before I get into that, I want to just let you know that this episode is brought to you by this year’s Success Incubator event which I’m running with some good friends this coming September on the 24th and 25th in Orlando, Florida. If you are in the U.S. or you feel like a troop out to the U.S., you could actually tackle this onto another conference that’s happening in the days after theme con, this year, we are doing it again.

This is the second time we’ve done Success Incubator. It is a mastermind style event, you get about half the time teaching, and half the time interacting with other people in an intentional way, talking about your business, your blog, and helping each other to improve what you want to build. If that sounds interesting to you, I highly recommend that you grab a ticket sooner than later because we are limiting the numbers this year quite a bit. problogger.com/success will take you there and give you all the details of that event.

The last thing I want to say is that I’m going to do something a little bit new at the end of today’s podcast. I want to share with you a quote of the week and I was just thinking maybe I’ll do this for a few weeks and see what you think about it. I love quotes, I spend a lot of my time being distracted by quotes which is a little bit ironic because that’s what I’m talking about today. I do want to share a quote with you today that I think relates to blogging—not all of the quotes that I share will relate to blogging but hopefully it’s just a moment in this podcast that will give you a little bit of encouragement as you go about your business. So stay tuned to the end and I will share that quote with you. Lastly, problogger.com/podcast/245 is where you’ll find today’s show notes and a full transcript of the show. Let’s get into it.

Okay, today’s topic was suggested by one of our Facebook group members, JR Caparas I think it is, thank you for your question. “How do you focus and avoid shiny object syndrome in blogging?” JR asks, and then it goes on to talking about the topics, niches, blogging, books, courses, blogging tasks, possible sources of income as examples of those shiny objects. Here’s what I want to say to you, JR, I actually think that shiny object syndrome can be a good thing, and I would encourage you not to avoid it but to put it in its place.

Those of you who have been listening for a while know that I’m a big believer in putting boundaries around what we do, all of the things that we do, to actually put things in their place. Here’s the argument that I want to make for shiny object syndrome, is that sometimes, the shiny objects can actually give us energy, they can spark new ideas, they can help us discover new ways of engaging with our audience and they can actually help us to find white space in our minds and are able to rest a little bit.

The distractions can actually be good things in a variety of ways for us personally, but also for our business and for our blogs. I’ve discovered this many times over the years, that it is sometimes in the distractions that I get my next good idea. Sometimes, it is listening to a podcast that has got nothing to do with blogging that I actually get the best idea for blogging. Sometimes, it is in playing with a new social network that’s just emerging, a shiny object that really isn’t benefiting my blog in the present. Sometimes, I get ideas from that, sometimes I discover something that I can then translate into my business.

What I want to encourage you to do is to think about not avoiding it, not eliminating it, but to actually make time for it and put boundaries around that. The key is not to allow your business, your time, your life to be hijacked by the shiny object.

The problem I see—and I’m sure this is what JR is alluding to—is that many times we get completely sidetracked by the shiny objects, by the new medium, by that new tool, by that new platform, all the topics, all the techniques, all the gears, all the conferences, all the books, all the courses, all the income strength. Sometimes these things actually completely sidetrack us and stop our core business and activities that we need to do to build our blog.

What I want to encourage you to do is to think about your time and your schedule and actually schedule your week out as much as possible. This is something I’ve talked about, I think it was back in episode 40, for the first time and then more recently in episode 163. In both of those episodes, I showed you my weekly template.

This is something I designed for my week. I actually got a calendar—a Google calendar—and I blocked out time for different activities. A lot of those activities were to do with my core business. A lot of them went to creating new content, brainstorming ideas, connecting with my team, doing administrative tasks like replying to emails, moderating comments, interacting in my Facebook group, these are the things that I know are so important. If you’re going to look at my template, you’ll see that probably 95% of my time, maybe 90% of my time, is on these core things that I know I need to do to build my business. That’s particularly between 9:00 and 5:00. But you will also sit down Monday afternoons if you’re going to look at episodes 163. You’ll see on Monday afternoons, I have time for play and that is a time where I have scheduled shiny objects.

That is a time I do not plan what I’m going to do, I simply sit down on a Monday afternoon and I say, what do I want to do now? What have I been putting off this week to play with? What am I curious about? What new tool? Sometimes it’s a tool, sometimes it’s a book that I’ve had sitting next to my bed, sometimes I go and curl up in my bed and have a read. Sometimes it’s an episode on Netflix that I’ve been thinking about, sometimes it’s a podcast, sometimes it’s exercise, sometimes it’s playing with my kids, sometimes it’s a new app on my phone or a game that I want to play with. These shiny objects, I actually acknowledge them and I set aside time to do them and to pay attention to them.

Sometimes, it’s a very productive time and sometimes it’s a completely unproductive time but I’ve put shiny objects in their place. What I’ve discovered is that I actually begin to look forward to Monday afternoons, it’s a time that I relax, it’s a time that I enjoy, a time that I see almost as a reward for the hard work of the rest of my schedule. Put aside best of time for shiny objects.

Now, you might choose to do that on a Monday afternoon, once a week, or you may choose to do that every afternoon at 3:30 just before your kids get home from school or after you’ve written a blog post, you may give yourself a boost of 15 minutes and you may want to schedule it in that way. Put aside time for it, and what you might find is that it will give you energy, it will spark new ideas, it will help you to discover new techniques in what you’re going to do. Some of it will actually then become not just a shiny object but it can actually become the thing that you do, your next big thing in some way. This is again something that I’ve talked about before that your next big thing sometimes will start as a little spark of an idea or something that you experiment with.

I can think about many times where this has happened for me. This podcast really started as a shiny object for me. This podcast was something that I had felt that I wanted to do, something that was making me curious, it was something that I’ve been wondering about for many years and I decided to do. But, I decided to do it with boundaries around it.

I actually started this podcast for a month. I said to myself I’m going to do a month of content. I’m going to do this first series of this podcast. A part of me there was really limiting myself to just that one month because I didn’t want to become distracted for all time by it, I wanted to see whether ego meet energies and whether it was something that I enjoyed, but I also wanted to watch to see what happened as I follow that spark of curiosity.

What I found is that the podcast did give me energy. It was actually something that I enjoyed incredibly but I also realized that in doing it, experimenting with it, was that other people were getting energy with it too.

This is the second thing that I encourage you to do as you think about these times where you allow yourself to be distracted, where you allow yourself to be following your curiosities is to pay attention to whether those things give you energy but also as you experiment particularly with the things and to do with your blog, watch to see what happens as a result of those things.

If the podcast had given me incredible amounts of energy but no one ever listened to it, I would probably have to ask some tough questions about that. Is this something that is going to bring life to my business in the long-term if no one is listening to it? You want to be finding things that allow you to feel like you’ve come alive, but also things that give other people energy as well. That’s my advice for you, JR, yes, you want to limit your shiny object syndrome but actually find a place for it. Find a place for that because you may just find that in those moments where you follow those curiosities, that new things will emerge from those.

I would love to hear your reflections on this podcast and I would particularly love to hear those moments where you have found the shiny object that has distracted you in a good way that has led to something powerful. After they hear people talking about productivity, eliminate distractions. I would love to hear some examples of people who have been distracted by something but have actually found some goodness in those distractions as well. You can let us know what those things are either on the comments of the show notes today at problogger.com/podcast/245, or head on over to our Facebook group, just search for ProBlogger Community on Facebook.

Now onto my quote of the day, and it just so happens I didn’t actually plan it this way but as I’m thinking about the quote that I have selected for today, it actually connects with the topic of today, it was meant to be, I might say. The quote is from a man called Howard Washington Thurman who is an author, philosopher, theologian, educator, civil rights leader—I just read that off Wikipedia. I don’t really know a lot about him, but I love this quote, it’s one that has resonated with me for years now and it came back to my attention today as I was listening to a podcast.

This is what he wrote or spoke, “Don’t ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive and go do it because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” I think this does resonate with today’s show. You do sometimes need to be mindful of the things that make you come alive. Sometimes those things start as shiny objects, things that might even be distracting you and if you don’t allow yourself to follow those curiosities, you might not actually discover what it is that is alive within you.

Let me just read that again, “Don’t ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive and go do it because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” I guess the last thing I’ll say about this is that it does particularly right to those of you who at the beginning of your journey of blogging have maybe been wondering what should I blog about?

Choosing a niche, I do think it’s important to pay attention to what brings you alive, what gives you energy because you are going to be at this for a long time and you might as well enjoy what you’re doing, you might as well feel alive by what you are doing, but the value of it is that if you come alive with your topic, your readers, the listeners of your podcast, the viewers of your video are going to feel that you are alive with your topic and that’s going to resonate with him on a deeper level, and it’s going to make them feel more alive as well.

What the world needs is people who are alive, and particularly in the times that we live in today, we do live in a time where it’s very easy to feel like it’s a dark time but what the world actually needs is people who will brush on a little light and they do that by being excited or passionate about what they’re on about.

Thanks for listening. I would love to hear any quotes that you’ve got that bring you a bit of life again. Feel free to share them in today’s show notes or over in our Facebook group as well. I might just feature a couple of yours in the future as well.

Thanks for listening, I hope that you have a great week of being a little bit distracted at times, but also paying attention to 90% of that time to your core tasks as well. Don’t go too far with the shiny objects. Thanks for listening, chat with you next week.

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The post 245: Why Shiny Object Syndrome Is Sometimes a Good Thing appeared first on ProBlogger.

245: Why Shiny Object Syndrome Is Sometimes a Good Thing

Why Shiny Object Syndrome Can Be Good for Your Blog and Business

Do you suffer from Shiny Object Syndrome? Are you easily distracted by something new – a tool, medium, tactic, or income stream?

Whatever it is, it captivates and distracts you in the moment. And it can easily take over your day, week, or even month.

Shiny Object Syndrome has the power to take you away from your core business, which can be destructive.

But it can be a good thing, too.

JR Caparas asked me how to avoid Shiny Object Syndrome in blogging. My answer? Don’t avoid it. Just make sure you put boundaries around it.

Sometimes shiny objects can give you energy, spark new ideas, and help you discover new ways to engage your audience.

So rather than avoiding shiny objects, make time for them. But don’t let them hijack your business, your time and your life.

You need to spend most of your time focusing on what’s most important, what keeps your blog growing, what’s already working, and what’s proven to work.

But put some time aside to play, experiment, learn, and be curious. And look for what makes sparks fly and gives you energy when you play with that shiny object.

Put shiny objects in their place.

Quote of the Week: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Washington Thurman, author, philosopher, theologian, educator, and civil rights leader.

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

Hey there and welcome to episode 245 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast event, job board, series of ebooks, and courses all designed to help you to start an amazing blog, to grow that blog, to monetize that blog and hopefully have a good time while you’re doing it. You can learn more about ProBlogger at problogger.com.

Now, today’s podcast is all about something that I know many of us struggle with in this space, it is shiny object syndrome, that time when you’re working away and suddenly you find yourself doing something completely different to what you had set down to do. You’re being distracted by something; it could be a game on your phone, but it also could be something that is good, a new tool, a medium, a new tactic, a new income string.

Whatever it is, it captivates you in that moment, it looms large, it can distract you right where you’re sitting not only for that moment, but it can end up distracting you if you’re anything like me, for a day, for a week, for a month, or for the rest of the year. It has the power to take you away from your core business and to be really distracted, but, and this is what I want to talk about today, I think it can actually be a good thing too. There’s some positives when it comes to shiny object syndrome. I want to explore that a little bit in today’s show. It will be a short one, but I want to put to you that shiny object syndrome is actually something you can—maybe you should plan for, maybe you should actually build into your week.

Hang with me though, before I get into that, I want to just let you know that this episode is brought to you by this year’s Success Incubator event which I’m running with some good friends this coming September on the 24th and 25th in Orlando, Florida. If you are in the U.S. or you feel like a troop out to the U.S., you could actually tackle this onto another conference that’s happening in the days after theme con, this year, we are doing it again.

This is the second time we’ve done Success Incubator. It is a mastermind style event, you get about half the time teaching, and half the time interacting with other people in an intentional way, talking about your business, your blog, and helping each other to improve what you want to build. If that sounds interesting to you, I highly recommend that you grab a ticket sooner than later because we are limiting the numbers this year quite a bit. problogger.com/success will take you there and give you all the details of that event.

The last thing I want to say is that I’m going to do something a little bit new at the end of today’s podcast. I want to share with you a quote of the week and I was just thinking maybe I’ll do this for a few weeks and see what you think about it. I love quotes, I spend a lot of my time being distracted by quotes which is a little bit ironic because that’s what I’m talking about today. I do want to share a quote with you today that I think relates to blogging—not all of the quotes that I share will relate to blogging but hopefully it’s just a moment in this podcast that will give you a little bit of encouragement as you go about your business. So stay tuned to the end and I will share that quote with you. Lastly, problogger.com/podcast/245 is where you’ll find today’s show notes and a full transcript of the show. Let’s get into it.

Okay, today’s topic was suggested by one of our Facebook group members, JR Caparas I think it is, thank you for your question. “How do you focus and avoid shiny object syndrome in blogging?” JR asks, and then it goes on to talking about the topics, niches, blogging, books, courses, blogging tasks, possible sources of income as examples of those shiny objects. Here’s what I want to say to you, JR, I actually think that shiny object syndrome can be a good thing, and I would encourage you not to avoid it but to put it in its place.

Those of you who have been listening for a while know that I’m a big believer in putting boundaries around what we do, all of the things that we do, to actually put things in their place. Here’s the argument that I want to make for shiny object syndrome, is that sometimes, the shiny objects can actually give us energy, they can spark new ideas, they can help us discover new ways of engaging with our audience and they can actually help us to find white space in our minds and are able to rest a little bit.

The distractions can actually be good things in a variety of ways for us personally, but also for our business and for our blogs. I’ve discovered this many times over the years, that it is sometimes in the distractions that I get my next good idea. Sometimes, it is listening to a podcast that has got nothing to do with blogging that I actually get the best idea for blogging. Sometimes, it is in playing with a new social network that’s just emerging, a shiny object that really isn’t benefiting my blog in the present. Sometimes, I get ideas from that, sometimes I discover something that I can then translate into my business.

What I want to encourage you to do is to think about not avoiding it, not eliminating it, but to actually make time for it and put boundaries around that. The key is not to allow your business, your time, your life to be hijacked by the shiny object.

The problem I see—and I’m sure this is what JR is alluding to—is that many times we get completely sidetracked by the shiny objects, by the new medium, by that new tool, by that new platform, all the topics, all the techniques, all the gears, all the conferences, all the books, all the courses, all the income strength. Sometimes these things actually completely sidetrack us and stop our core business and activities that we need to do to build our blog.

What I want to encourage you to do is to think about your time and your schedule and actually schedule your week out as much as possible. This is something I’ve talked about, I think it was back in episode 40, for the first time and then more recently in episode 163. In both of those episodes, I showed you my weekly template.

This is something I designed for my week. I actually got a calendar—a Google calendar—and I blocked out time for different activities. A lot of those activities were to do with my core business. A lot of them went to creating new content, brainstorming ideas, connecting with my team, doing administrative tasks like replying to emails, moderating comments, interacting in my Facebook group, these are the things that I know are so important. If you’re going to look at my template, you’ll see that probably 95% of my time, maybe 90% of my time, is on these core things that I know I need to do to build my business. That’s particularly between 9:00 and 5:00. But you will also sit down Monday afternoons if you’re going to look at episodes 163. You’ll see on Monday afternoons, I have time for play and that is a time where I have scheduled shiny objects.

That is a time I do not plan what I’m going to do, I simply sit down on a Monday afternoon and I say, what do I want to do now? What have I been putting off this week to play with? What am I curious about? What new tool? Sometimes it’s a tool, sometimes it’s a book that I’ve had sitting next to my bed, sometimes I go and curl up in my bed and have a read. Sometimes it’s an episode on Netflix that I’ve been thinking about, sometimes it’s a podcast, sometimes it’s exercise, sometimes it’s playing with my kids, sometimes it’s a new app on my phone or a game that I want to play with. These shiny objects, I actually acknowledge them and I set aside time to do them and to pay attention to them.

Sometimes, it’s a very productive time and sometimes it’s a completely unproductive time but I’ve put shiny objects in their place. What I’ve discovered is that I actually begin to look forward to Monday afternoons, it’s a time that I relax, it’s a time that I enjoy, a time that I see almost as a reward for the hard work of the rest of my schedule. Put aside best of time for shiny objects.

Now, you might choose to do that on a Monday afternoon, once a week, or you may choose to do that every afternoon at 3:30 just before your kids get home from school or after you’ve written a blog post, you may give yourself a boost of 15 minutes and you may want to schedule it in that way. Put aside time for it, and what you might find is that it will give you energy, it will spark new ideas, it will help you to discover new techniques in what you’re going to do. Some of it will actually then become not just a shiny object but it can actually become the thing that you do, your next big thing in some way. This is again something that I’ve talked about before that your next big thing sometimes will start as a little spark of an idea or something that you experiment with.

I can think about many times where this has happened for me. This podcast really started as a shiny object for me. This podcast was something that I had felt that I wanted to do, something that was making me curious, it was something that I’ve been wondering about for many years and I decided to do. But, I decided to do it with boundaries around it.

I actually started this podcast for a month. I said to myself I’m going to do a month of content. I’m going to do this first series of this podcast. A part of me there was really limiting myself to just that one month because I didn’t want to become distracted for all time by it, I wanted to see whether ego meet energies and whether it was something that I enjoyed, but I also wanted to watch to see what happened as I follow that spark of curiosity.

What I found is that the podcast did give me energy. It was actually something that I enjoyed incredibly but I also realized that in doing it, experimenting with it, was that other people were getting energy with it too.

This is the second thing that I encourage you to do as you think about these times where you allow yourself to be distracted, where you allow yourself to be following your curiosities is to pay attention to whether those things give you energy but also as you experiment particularly with the things and to do with your blog, watch to see what happens as a result of those things.

If the podcast had given me incredible amounts of energy but no one ever listened to it, I would probably have to ask some tough questions about that. Is this something that is going to bring life to my business in the long-term if no one is listening to it? You want to be finding things that allow you to feel like you’ve come alive, but also things that give other people energy as well. That’s my advice for you, JR, yes, you want to limit your shiny object syndrome but actually find a place for it. Find a place for that because you may just find that in those moments where you follow those curiosities, that new things will emerge from those.

I would love to hear your reflections on this podcast and I would particularly love to hear those moments where you have found the shiny object that has distracted you in a good way that has led to something powerful. After they hear people talking about productivity, eliminate distractions. I would love to hear some examples of people who have been distracted by something but have actually found some goodness in those distractions as well. You can let us know what those things are either on the comments of the show notes today at problogger.com/podcast/245, or head on over to our Facebook group, just search for ProBlogger Community on Facebook.

Now onto my quote of the day, and it just so happens I didn’t actually plan it this way but as I’m thinking about the quote that I have selected for today, it actually connects with the topic of today, it was meant to be, I might say. The quote is from a man called Howard Washington Thurman who is an author, philosopher, theologian, educator, civil rights leader—I just read that off Wikipedia. I don’t really know a lot about him, but I love this quote, it’s one that has resonated with me for years now and it came back to my attention today as I was listening to a podcast.

This is what he wrote or spoke, “Don’t ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive and go do it because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” I think this does resonate with today’s show. You do sometimes need to be mindful of the things that make you come alive. Sometimes those things start as shiny objects, things that might even be distracting you and if you don’t allow yourself to follow those curiosities, you might not actually discover what it is that is alive within you.

Let me just read that again, “Don’t ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive and go do it because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” I guess the last thing I’ll say about this is that it does particularly right to those of you who at the beginning of your journey of blogging have maybe been wondering what should I blog about?

Choosing a niche, I do think it’s important to pay attention to what brings you alive, what gives you energy because you are going to be at this for a long time and you might as well enjoy what you’re doing, you might as well feel alive by what you are doing, but the value of it is that if you come alive with your topic, your readers, the listeners of your podcast, the viewers of your video are going to feel that you are alive with your topic and that’s going to resonate with him on a deeper level, and it’s going to make them feel more alive as well.

What the world needs is people who are alive, and particularly in the times that we live in today, we do live in a time where it’s very easy to feel like it’s a dark time but what the world actually needs is people who will brush on a little light and they do that by being excited or passionate about what they’re on about.

Thanks for listening. I would love to hear any quotes that you’ve got that bring you a bit of life again. Feel free to share them in today’s show notes or over in our Facebook group as well. I might just feature a couple of yours in the future as well.

Thanks for listening, I hope that you have a great week of being a little bit distracted at times, but also paying attention to 90% of that time to your core tasks as well. Don’t go too far with the shiny objects. Thanks for listening, chat with you next week.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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The post 245: Why Shiny Object Syndrome Is Sometimes a Good Thing appeared first on ProBlogger.

5 Tips to Help You Consume Content More Productively

Consume content productivelyAs bloggers, we create a significant amount of content. But most of us consume a significant amount of it as well.

In an industry that uses strategies such as SEO, social media marketing and email marketing as key tools, we need to stay up to date with changes and trends so we can keep growing and developing. We also need to keep abreast of what’s happening in our niche to stay relevant.

Trouble is, with so much content out there we could easily spend our entire blogging work day consuming it. Sure we’re learning a lot, but we need to be mindful of how much time we’re spending and do it productively so it helps us grow our blogs.

Here are five tips to help you consume content more productively.

1. Focus

If you’ve been reading the productivity posts here on Problogger, then you’ll hopefully have set a goal for the year. If you have, you can use it to help target the type of content you read, watch and listen to. General knowledge is wonderful, and certainly has its place. But in terms of helping you with your blogging it’s far more productive to focus on content topics that will help you reach your blogging goal(s) for the year.

For example, if your goal is to increase newsletter subscribers then subscribing to podcasts and blogs that share content on this topic would be beneficial, as would reading books or listening to audiobooks that share list-building strategies.

It can be tempting to learn about every blogging issue to try and stay up to date. But this splits your attention, which means you can only go shallow on topics. You’re better off going deep and consuming content on fewer topics that will help you reach your goal than spreading your attention too thin.

2. Have the content come to you

You’ll always need to look for specific information. But if there are blogs, podcasts and vloggers you like to read, listen to and watch regularly, make sure you subscribe to them. That way the information comes to you, which you can then consume whenever it’s convenient.

There are plenty of great tools available to help you. Here are a few that work well for me.

feedly

feedly is a content aggregator that works on web browsers, as well as on iOS and Android devices through a free app. It lets you curate a news feed from a variety of online sources. You can add blogs, Youtube channels, and even Google keyword alerts that will gather the latest articles on your chosen topics from more than 5,000 of the world’s best news sources.

As you can see from the screenshot, it’s super easy to add new content.

YouTube Moz

To add a blog you like to read, simply click on the Add Content button and paste in the URL. You can also add your favourite YouTube video channels by pasting the URL into the space provided and clicking Follow.

With feedly you can scan through your preferred data sources without going to the actual source sites. This means you avoid all the distractions and ‘rabbit holes’ you can lose yourself in, helping you consume content more productively. It also means you can turn off things like Youtube notifications, as you’ll get the updates automatically in feedly.

Content aggregators such as feedly can also help you position yourself as a subject matter expert in a particular area. It can search the internet for your chosen keyword and retrieve articles from reputable news sources all over the world, rather than you having to do all the searching yourself. You can then either share these articles on your social media channel straight away, or use feedly’s Read Later function and mark content you want to save to share on your social media networks later.

Keyword alerts

Podcast apps

The podcast revolution continues, with so many amazing podcasts being published every day. Subscribing to podcasts in your niche, goal areas or areas of interest is an excellent way to manage incoming audio content.

If you use an Apple device you can use the native Podcast app. But with the changes they made to the app in iOS 11 I’m now looking at two other highly recommended podcast apps:

  • Overcast, an iOS-only app available as either a free version with ads or a paid version with no ads.
  • Pocket Casts, a paid app available on Android and iOS.

3. Take action notes

While it’s great to listen to podcasts and read blog posts and books on topics that will help you, unless you take action it’s not an effective use of your time. To ensure you put your new knowledge to use, or at least explore your thoughts and ideas on the content you consumed, take action notes.

Action notes are exactly what their name implies. After you’ve had a reading or listening session, write down the actions you’d like to take. They aren’t just general notes on things you heard or read, or quotes from the book. They’re specific action items you can take for your blog, based on the broad information you heard.

For example, if you’re focusing on increasing newsletter subscribers you may have found the Problogger podcast in your app and listened to Darren’s podcast on how to get more subscribers, follows and connections from your blog readers. With so much great information in this podcast you could easily write reams of notes. But Instead, try writing three actions you can take from what you’ve learned, such as:

  1. Create two more two opt-ins or lead magnets so they’ll be more relevant to readers, depending on the content they’ve been reading on the blog.
  2. Install a welcome mat, and track the impact on new subscribers.
  3. Write a series of blog posts, and encourage readers to subscribe so they get the latest posts in the series delivered to their inbox.

You can easily read and listen to huge amounts of information and not act on it. By keeping action notes in either your master planning document or a separate notebook, you can track and work through the action items you want to implement on your blog.

4. Share your thoughts

The best way to learn is to teach. Share your thoughts on what you’ve been reading, listening to or watching on your blog. Even if the information is different to your niche, you can build your own piece of content around it. You’ve been building a relationship with your audience, and they’ll be interested in your opinion and recommendations.

Gathering and sharing excellent content can be a great way to give value to your audience, and give purpose to the content you consume. Here are a few examples of bloggers sharing their thoughts on the content they’ve been consuming:

  • Meet Me at Mikes – Something to read: Pip regularly shares what she’s been listening to, watching or reading. In this post she shares a host of things she’s been reading – from blogs and books to menus and recipes. It’s an eclectic collection that wonderfully reflects the personality of her blog, and shares information with readers they may not have found on their own.
  • James Clear – Reading list: James is a prolific reader, and he writes super useful book summaries on his blog. James has collated his book reviews into a much-favourited and shared reading list, which breaks books into categories and top ten lists. In his full book reviews (like this one on Sapiens) he has three sections – the book in three sentences, the summary, and affiliate links to where you can buy the print, eBook and audiobook versions of the book. This reading list is a go-to reference guide for readers when they’re looking for a book to read.
  • Becoming Minimalist – Inspiring Simplicity. Weekend Reads: Joshua Becker writes a weekly post sharing content he’s either watched, listened to or read on his simplicity/minimalism niche. The format is the same each week – a short introduction, and then one or two sentences on each item he shares. These posts are incredibly useful to his readers who are exploring and learning more about minimalism, and are consistently shared widely on social media. When I last checked, the post I’ve linked to had been shared more than a thousand times.

5. Use boundaries to limit your consumption

It can be hard to stop reading, watching or listening to content that’s stimulating, amusing or informative. But there’s a tipping point to how much content we can consume. Setting up personal boundaries can help ensure we take a productive approach to our consumption.

Look for pockets of time in your day where existing boundaries force you to stop. I schedule social media and blog reading in the last 30 minutes of my work day, when I pick the kids up from school. You may not have a school pick up to do, but you might have a meeting you can do some reading before, or a regular appointment that can act as a boundary and stop you spending too much time consuming and not enough time creating.

How do you manage the way you consume content? Tell us about it in the comments.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

The post 5 Tips to Help You Consume Content More Productively appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

5 Tips to Help You Consume Content More Productively

Consume content productivelyAs bloggers, we create a significant amount of content. But most of us consume a significant amount of it as well.

In an industry that uses strategies such as SEO, social media marketing and email marketing as key tools, we need to stay up to date with changes and trends so we can keep growing and developing. We also need to keep abreast of what’s happening in our niche to stay relevant.

Trouble is, with so much content out there we could easily spend our entire blogging work day consuming it. Sure we’re learning a lot, but we need to be mindful of how much time we’re spending and do it productively so it helps us grow our blogs.

Here are five tips to help you consume content more productively.

1. Focus

If you’ve been reading the productivity posts here on Problogger, then you’ll hopefully have set a goal for the year. If you have, you can use it to help target the type of content you read, watch and listen to. General knowledge is wonderful, and certainly has its place. But in terms of helping you with your blogging it’s far more productive to focus on content topics that will help you reach your blogging goal(s) for the year.

For example, if your goal is to increase newsletter subscribers then subscribing to podcasts and blogs that share content on this topic would be beneficial, as would reading books or listening to audiobooks that share list-building strategies.

It can be tempting to learn about every blogging issue to try and stay up to date. But this splits your attention, which means you can only go shallow on topics. You’re better off going deep and consuming content on fewer topics that will help you reach your goal than spreading your attention too thin.

2. Have the content come to you

You’ll always need to look for specific information. But if there are blogs, podcasts and vloggers you like to read, listen to and watch regularly, make sure you subscribe to them. That way the information comes to you, which you can then consume whenever it’s convenient.

There are plenty of great tools available to help you. Here are a few that work well for me.

feedly

feedly is a content aggregator that works on web browsers, as well as on iOS and Android devices through a free app. It lets you curate a news feed from a variety of online sources. You can add blogs, Youtube channels, and even Google keyword alerts that will gather the latest articles on your chosen topics from more than 5,000 of the world’s best news sources.

As you can see from the screenshot, it’s super easy to add new content.

YouTube Moz

To add a blog you like to read, simply click on the Add Content button and paste in the URL. You can also add your favourite YouTube video channels by pasting the URL into the space provided and clicking Follow.

With feedly you can scan through your preferred data sources without going to the actual source sites. This means you avoid all the distractions and ‘rabbit holes’ you can lose yourself in, helping you consume content more productively. It also means you can turn off things like Youtube notifications, as you’ll get the updates automatically in feedly.

Content aggregators such as feedly can also help you position yourself as a subject matter expert in a particular area. It can search the internet for your chosen keyword and retrieve articles from reputable news sources all over the world, rather than you having to do all the searching yourself. You can then either share these articles on your social media channel straight away, or use feedly’s Read Later function and mark content you want to save to share on your social media networks later.

Keyword alerts

Podcast apps

The podcast revolution continues, with so many amazing podcasts being published every day. Subscribing to podcasts in your niche, goal areas or areas of interest is an excellent way to manage incoming audio content.

If you use an Apple device you can use the native Podcast app. But with the changes they made to the app in iOS 11 I’m now looking at two other highly recommended podcast apps:

  • Overcast, an iOS-only app available as either a free version with ads or a paid version with no ads.
  • Pocket Casts, a paid app available on Android and iOS.

3. Take action notes

While it’s great to listen to podcasts and read blog posts and books on topics that will help you, unless you take action it’s not an effective use of your time. To ensure you put your new knowledge to use, or at least explore your thoughts and ideas on the content you consumed, take action notes.

Action notes are exactly what their name implies. After you’ve had a reading or listening session, write down the actions you’d like to take. They aren’t just general notes on things you heard or read, or quotes from the book. They’re specific action items you can take for your blog, based on the broad information you heard.

For example, if you’re focusing on increasing newsletter subscribers you may have found the Problogger podcast in your app and listened to Darren’s podcast on how to get more subscribers, follows and connections from your blog readers. With so much great information in this podcast you could easily write reams of notes. But Instead, try writing three actions you can take from what you’ve learned, such as:

  1. Create two more two opt-ins or lead magnets so they’ll be more relevant to readers, depending on the content they’ve been reading on the blog.
  2. Install a welcome mat, and track the impact on new subscribers.
  3. Write a series of blog posts, and encourage readers to subscribe so they get the latest posts in the series delivered to their inbox.

You can easily read and listen to huge amounts of information and not act on it. By keeping action notes in either your master planning document or a separate notebook, you can track and work through the action items you want to implement on your blog.

4. Share your thoughts

The best way to learn is to teach. Share your thoughts on what you’ve been reading, listening to or watching on your blog. Even if the information is different to your niche, you can build your own piece of content around it. You’ve been building a relationship with your audience, and they’ll be interested in your opinion and recommendations.

Gathering and sharing excellent content can be a great way to give value to your audience, and give purpose to the content you consume. Here are a few examples of bloggers sharing their thoughts on the content they’ve been consuming:

  • Meet Me at Mikes – Something to read: Pip regularly shares what she’s been listening to, watching or reading. In this post she shares a host of things she’s been reading – from blogs and books to menus and recipes. It’s an eclectic collection that wonderfully reflects the personality of her blog, and shares information with readers they may not have found on their own.
  • James Clear – Reading list: James is a prolific reader, and he writes super useful book summaries on his blog. James has collated his book reviews into a much-favourited and shared reading list, which breaks books into categories and top ten lists. In his full book reviews (like this one on Sapiens) he has three sections – the book in three sentences, the summary, and affiliate links to where you can buy the print, eBook and audiobook versions of the book. This reading list is a go-to reference guide for readers when they’re looking for a book to read.
  • Becoming Minimalist – Inspiring Simplicity. Weekend Reads: Joshua Becker writes a weekly post sharing content he’s either watched, listened to or read on his simplicity/minimalism niche. The format is the same each week – a short introduction, and then one or two sentences on each item he shares. These posts are incredibly useful to his readers who are exploring and learning more about minimalism, and are consistently shared widely on social media. When I last checked, the post I’ve linked to had been shared more than a thousand times.

5. Use boundaries to limit your consumption

It can be hard to stop reading, watching or listening to content that’s stimulating, amusing or informative. But there’s a tipping point to how much content we can consume. Setting up personal boundaries can help ensure we take a productive approach to our consumption.

Look for pockets of time in your day where existing boundaries force you to stop. I schedule social media and blog reading in the last 30 minutes of my work day, when I pick the kids up from school. You may not have a school pick up to do, but you might have a meeting you can do some reading before, or a regular appointment that can act as a boundary and stop you spending too much time consuming and not enough time creating.

How do you manage the way you consume content? Tell us about it in the comments.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

The post 5 Tips to Help You Consume Content More Productively appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

5 Tips to Help You Consume Content More Productively

Consume content productivelyAs bloggers, we create a significant amount of content. But most of us consume a significant amount of it as well.

In an industry that uses strategies such as SEO, social media marketing and email marketing as key tools, we need to stay up to date with changes and trends so we can keep growing and developing. We also need to keep abreast of what’s happening in our niche to stay relevant.

Trouble is, with so much content out there we could easily spend our entire blogging work day consuming it. Sure we’re learning a lot, but we need to be mindful of how much time we’re spending and do it productively so it helps us grow our blogs.

Here are five tips to help you consume content more productively.

1. Focus

If you’ve been reading the productivity posts here on Problogger, then you’ll hopefully have set a goal for the year. If you have, you can use it to help target the type of content you read, watch and listen to. General knowledge is wonderful, and certainly has its place. But in terms of helping you with your blogging it’s far more productive to focus on content topics that will help you reach your blogging goal(s) for the year.

For example, if your goal is to increase newsletter subscribers then subscribing to podcasts and blogs that share content on this topic would be beneficial, as would reading books or listening to audiobooks that share list-building strategies.

It can be tempting to learn about every blogging issue to try and stay up to date. But this splits your attention, which means you can only go shallow on topics. You’re better off going deep and consuming content on fewer topics that will help you reach your goal than spreading your attention too thin.

2. Have the content come to you

You’ll always need to look for specific information. But if there are blogs, podcasts and vloggers you like to read, listen to and watch regularly, make sure you subscribe to them. That way the information comes to you, which you can then consume whenever it’s convenient.

There are plenty of great tools available to help you. Here are a few that work well for me.

feedly

feedly is a content aggregator that works on web browsers, as well as on iOS and Android devices through a free app. It lets you curate a news feed from a variety of online sources. You can add blogs, Youtube channels, and even Google keyword alerts that will gather the latest articles on your chosen topics from more than 5,000 of the world’s best news sources.

As you can see from the screenshot, it’s super easy to add new content.

YouTube Moz

To add a blog you like to read, simply click on the Add Content button and paste in the URL. You can also add your favourite YouTube video channels by pasting the URL into the space provided and clicking Follow.

With feedly you can scan through your preferred data sources without going to the actual source sites. This means you avoid all the distractions and ‘rabbit holes’ you can lose yourself in, helping you consume content more productively. It also means you can turn off things like Youtube notifications, as you’ll get the updates automatically in feedly.

Content aggregators such as feedly can also help you position yourself as a subject matter expert in a particular area. It can search the internet for your chosen keyword and retrieve articles from reputable news sources all over the world, rather than you having to do all the searching yourself. You can then either share these articles on your social media channel straight away, or use feedly’s Read Later function and mark content you want to save to share on your social media networks later.

Keyword alerts

Podcast apps

The podcast revolution continues, with so many amazing podcasts being published every day. Subscribing to podcasts in your niche, goal areas or areas of interest is an excellent way to manage incoming audio content.

If you use an Apple device you can use the native Podcast app. But with the changes they made to the app in iOS 11 I’m now looking at two other highly recommended podcast apps:

  • Overcast, an iOS-only app available as either a free version with ads or a paid version with no ads.
  • Pocket Casts, a paid app available on Android and iOS.

3. Take action notes

While it’s great to listen to podcasts and read blog posts and books on topics that will help you, unless you take action it’s not an effective use of your time. To ensure you put your new knowledge to use, or at least explore your thoughts and ideas on the content you consumed, take action notes.

Action notes are exactly what their name implies. After you’ve had a reading or listening session, write down the actions you’d like to take. They aren’t just general notes on things you heard or read, or quotes from the book. They’re specific action items you can take for your blog, based on the broad information you heard.

For example, if you’re focusing on increasing newsletter subscribers you may have found the Problogger podcast in your app and listened to Darren’s podcast on how to get more subscribers, follows and connections from your blog readers. With so much great information in this podcast you could easily write reams of notes. But Instead, try writing three actions you can take from what you’ve learned, such as:

  1. Create two more two opt-ins or lead magnets so they’ll be more relevant to readers, depending on the content they’ve been reading on the blog.
  2. Install a welcome mat, and track the impact on new subscribers.
  3. Write a series of blog posts, and encourage readers to subscribe so they get the latest posts in the series delivered to their inbox.

You can easily read and listen to huge amounts of information and not act on it. By keeping action notes in either your master planning document or a separate notebook, you can track and work through the action items you want to implement on your blog.

4. Share your thoughts

The best way to learn is to teach. Share your thoughts on what you’ve been reading, listening to or watching on your blog. Even if the information is different to your niche, you can build your own piece of content around it. You’ve been building a relationship with your audience, and they’ll be interested in your opinion and recommendations.

Gathering and sharing excellent content can be a great way to give value to your audience, and give purpose to the content you consume. Here are a few examples of bloggers sharing their thoughts on the content they’ve been consuming:

  • Meet Me at Mikes – Something to read: Pip regularly shares what she’s been listening to, watching or reading. In this post she shares a host of things she’s been reading – from blogs and books to menus and recipes. It’s an eclectic collection that wonderfully reflects the personality of her blog, and shares information with readers they may not have found on their own.
  • James Clear – Reading list: James is a prolific reader, and he writes super useful book summaries on his blog. James has collated his book reviews into a much-favourited and shared reading list, which breaks books into categories and top ten lists. In his full book reviews (like this one on Sapiens) he has three sections – the book in three sentences, the summary, and affiliate links to where you can buy the print, eBook and audiobook versions of the book. This reading list is a go-to reference guide for readers when they’re looking for a book to read.
  • Becoming Minimalist – Inspiring Simplicity. Weekend Reads: Joshua Becker writes a weekly post sharing content he’s either watched, listened to or read on his simplicity/minimalism niche. The format is the same each week – a short introduction, and then one or two sentences on each item he shares. These posts are incredibly useful to his readers who are exploring and learning more about minimalism, and are consistently shared widely on social media. When I last checked, the post I’ve linked to had been shared more than a thousand times.

5. Use boundaries to limit your consumption

It can be hard to stop reading, watching or listening to content that’s stimulating, amusing or informative. But there’s a tipping point to how much content we can consume. Setting up personal boundaries can help ensure we take a productive approach to our consumption.

Look for pockets of time in your day where existing boundaries force you to stop. I schedule social media and blog reading in the last 30 minutes of my work day, when I pick the kids up from school. You may not have a school pick up to do, but you might have a meeting you can do some reading before, or a regular appointment that can act as a boundary and stop you spending too much time consuming and not enough time creating.

How do you manage the way you consume content? Tell us about it in the comments.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

The post 5 Tips to Help You Consume Content More Productively appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

190: How to Overcome Failure in 6 Steps

How to Move Through Failure in 6 Steps

In today’s lesson, I want to talk about failure in business and how to move through it.

I’ve been asked questions on this topic a number of times in the last few weeks and while it’s a topic most of us probably don’t want to have to learn about – it’s something that we all will need to deal with at one point or another because it’s a part of any business story.

We all fail – in fact failure is an essential part of any startup and if you’re not having it it could be a sign that what you’re doing is not pushing hard enough and that you’re spending a lot of time in your comfort zone.

SO in this episode I’m going to give you 6 things that I try to do when facing failure of different sizes. I think they’re relevant for the small fails and mistakes that happen to us regularly but am particularly thinking about some of those big ones too!

Further Resources on How to Overcome Failure in 6 Steps

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Hi there and welcome to episode 190 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com. A blog, podcast, event, job board and a series of ebooks, all designed to help you as a blogger to start a blog, to grow your audience, to create amazing content, and to hopefully make some profit from your blog. Learn more about ProBlogger over at problogger.com.

In today’s lesson, I want to talk about failure, failure in business particularly, and how to move through it. I’ve been asked questions on this topic a number of times over the last few weeks and when I hear the same question more than once, I often pick up my ears and it often turns into a podcast and that’s what I want to talk about today.

It’s something that I guess most of us don’t really want to have to learn about. We don’t want to have to learn how to move through failure but it is something that we will all need to deal with a one point or another, both in our personal lives but also as part of a business story and our blogging journey.

We all fail. In fact, I think failure is an essential part of any start up, any business. If you’re not having times of failure, if you’re not having things where things don’t succeed, it’s possibly a sign that what you are doing really isn’t outside of your comfort zone and perhaps you’re not pushing things hard enough.

In this episode, what I want to do is give you six things that I try and do and I emphasize try here because there’s a right answer when it comes to failure and there’s an actual answer, so most of us swing from the good things through to the unhelpful things. Those are six things that I try to do when I’m facing failure or mistakes of different sizes.

I actually think most of what I’m going to share today is relevant for the small failures we have, those things that just don’t go right from day to day but also those bigger things as well. I’m particularly thinking of those because some of the questions I’ve heard over the last week have been on those bigger failures.

You can find today’s show notes with the six points that I’m going to go through as well as some further reading over at problogger.com/podcast/190. Also, check out the Facebook group at problogger.com/group where there’s some great discussion going on at the moment. We’ve seen a lot of new members over the last few weeks. Let’s get into today’s show.

Like I said in my introduction today, I’ve had a number of questions on the topic of failure recently. Willie over in the Facebook group asked just a few weeks ago, how would you recover from a massive failure? And then Max also messaged me and gave me permission to share his question. He said, “I’ve just had a big failing in my blogging business and I feel unable to move on. Do you have any advice?” That’s what I want to address today.

What do we do, a lot of these will be applicable to other areas of life too, but particularly in a blogging business, the failures we have can sometimes be very public failures and sometimes the mistakes we make, the things that we say we’re going to do don’t often work out and there’s public consequences on that.

I guess I’m tackling it from that angle as well. Firstly, let me give you what I usually do first. That is to freak out. Usually for me, when I have a failure, when I make a mistake, when something doesn’t go right, I usually have some kind of an emotional response. I’m a fairly measured person, you would meet me in person you might not think that I freak out but I do.

I throw as good tantrum as anyone else, I panic as much as anyone else, I think the worst as much as anyone else, and as I was preparing this podcast, I was going to say, “Move past that phase as quickly as you can and get onto the more constructive things.” I actually think that it may be important to have that moment of freak out.

Failure takes its toll on us and that is a natural thing. I think it’s probably important to get through those feelings and to some extent embrace them and sit with them, and to let them out. I think it’s really important to let those feelings out, to not bottle them up. This is going to come out to a lot of what I’m going to talk about today. I think we do need to get those feelings out.

All I would say is as you are having your freak out, as you are having your tantrum, as you are having that panic, try to do it in a safe place that wouldn’t have long lasting consequences on you, those around you, and your business. I think it’s totally fine to feel the pain, to feel out of control for a moment. That is natural and it’s okay to do that so allow yourself to do that. But as you’re feeling that, try to move yourself towards the six things that I’m going to talk about next.

Out of that panic, out of that freak out, here’s what I would suggest you do. The first one is so important and that is to try. This is hard, all of this is hard, but try to separate your failure away from your identity.

One other the biggest challenges that I think many people face today is that they equate their self-worth with their achievements or their lack of achievements, also, what other people think about them and I think this is a real trap. This is a huge trap.

I want to give you an equation. This is an equation that I see the world suggesting when it comes to our self-worth. The world says self-worth equals what I achieve plus what others think of me. Let me repeat it, self-worth equals what I achieve plus what others think of me. This is a message we hear all the time. We hear it in conversations, we say it in the media, and we say it in marketing. My self worth is all about what I achieve my success, and what others think of me.

So to be worthwhile, I need to achieve a lot, I need to have other people think well of me. This idea creeps out in a lot of what we do. Most of us don’t even know that we abide by that equation, but we are constantly looking for success, and we’re constantly looking to look good in front of other people. The problem with this equation is that it really sets us up with problems because it’s just not realistic.

All of us are going to have times in our personal lives and in our business where we do not achieve, where we fail. It’s just human to have failures and so if we equate our self-worth with achieving with success, then we’re setting ourselves up for a massive fault. All of us are going to have times in our lives where other people don’t think much of us. If we base our self-worth upon our success and what other people perceives of us, then our self-worth is going to have times where we will have very little of it.

That’s an unhealthy thing. It’s going to only lead to poor self-worth. It’s going to lead to a roller coaster ride through your life. I guess one of the big things that I want to get across and this is something that I try and really remind myself in those times of failure is that my self-worth doesn’t come from what I achieve and it doesn’t come from what other people think of me, it actually comes from something else.

For me, that comes more from my faith. For other people, it will come from something else. But if there’s one thing I really want to get across today, as we tackle this topic of failure, is that you are not worthless because of your failure. You’re not worthless because of your failure, you are not a failure. What you have done, your business may have had a time of failing but that doesn’t mean that you are a failure, don’t personalize your failure.

Particularly if it’s a business failure which is really not connected to you, it is something that you do. Yes, it’s an action that has failed, but it is not you. Don’t identify yourself as a failure just because of something that you have done.

Number one, separate your failure out from your identity. Number two, don’t face it alone. I’m not sure whether this is a gender thing, whether it’s more of a personality thing, but a trap that I’ve seen many of my friends fall into is that they face their failure alone. They internalize their failure.

One of the best things that I think you can do is to admit your failure and to share with another person, just one other person. That will help so much. Even if that person has no real understanding of your business, by telling them what you are facing, you’re doing something very healthy.

To verbalize it and to start a conversation about it actually is a very powerful thing. Name the mistake, name the failure, first, by you alone and internalize it and you will very luckily become overwhelmed by it. It will become bigger than it really is. This is something I’ve fallen into the trap of, many times.

Even last year, the end of last year, I had a couple of months where revenue wasn’t really great for the business. It wasn’t particularly anything I had done, it just was a bit of a lean patch and I know many other bloggers went through that. For the first few weeks that I noticed that, I internalized it and I would lie in bed at night thinking that the end of the world was coming and not being able to see anything positive in my business, even though there was lots there.

It was only once I shared that load with Vanessa, and for me, Vanessa, my wife, my partner, is the place that I go to. By simply naming the issue, by putting words to it, it put things back into perspective. I realized, even as I spoke the words of what was going on that there were solutions, that there were ways forward.

The other person may not even know what you are talking about but you, simply verbalizing it to another person, can be a very powerful thing, so tell a friend, share the load. As I said, it’s usually for me, talking with Vanessa. Today, she is a blogger and so she does have some understanding of what I’m talking about but even in the early days, back in 2002, 2003, when none of my friends knew what blogging was, when social media didn’t even exist, I found simply by verbalizing those things really did help a lot.

In doing so, you’re actually going to find that you’re not the only person who has failed as well, we all do. Most of the people that you share your failure with will be able to recount some story in their own life where they faced something similar, even if the details are different.

The other thing I would suggest you do though is to also find someone who does understand your business. Talk about it and this might be the second person that you talk to. It maybe that you need to find another blogger, it may be, for a period of time you need to find a business coach or a mentor. Those types of relationships are really important, even if they’re not formal business coach type relationships.

There are a few people in my life, if I’m having a tough time in business, I’ll pick up the phone, and even though they might be in the different type of business, to me, they understand some of the pressures of what it is that we’re going through. Get some professional advice. It doesn’t have to be an ongoing thing. It might just be a simple phone call with someone who’s been through what you’ve been through and to draw the wisdom of them.

It might also be something like more of a group type of support, maybe finding a Facebook group like the ProBlogger Facebook group or there are plenty of others online as well to actually have those types of people we can present the failure, the mistake or part of it to that type of group and get that type of advice.

Lastly, I would say is that there are times where you might need to find a therapist. You might need to find a counselor. Perhaps your business failure has rocked your world, your confidence, your personal health, your mental health in some way. There is no shame in actually finding someone to give you support on that emotional level. When you’re sick physically you go and see a doctor and when you shaking up emotionally with your mental health, I think it’s important to seek help there as well.

That’s something that I’ve done from time to time as well. Sometimes, our business life spills out into our personal lives. Just to encourage you if that is spilling out to actually get some help in that way. Maybe going to speak to a doctor and getting some help in that way as well. No shame at all in that. It’s an important part of this journey.

Number one is to not take on that failure in your business into your personal identity. Number two, don’t face it alone and number three, is related to not facing it alone and that is to be transparent. It really does relate a little bit to what I’ve just talked about, you speaking with that friend, or that colleague, or that doctor, and being a little bit vulnerable with another person, it’s being transparent about the type of failure that you’ve had.

Often as you begin to process these failures, you realize there are other people impacted by your failure. This doesn’t always happen but in many cases there will be someone else who has been impacted by the mistake that you have made. It maybe that there is a business partner, maybe there is a team member, maybe there is a colleague, maybe even your readers as a blogger have been impacted by your failure, by your mistake.

The temptation when other people are hurt by our failures or impacted by our failures is to save face, it’s to hide our failures, and to actually even pretend that it didn’t happen or to lie about them, perhaps. But in most cases, this just escalates the problem, and this is really tough. I know it’s tough and I’ll say it’s kind of hesitating but come clean. Admit to your failing to those who are impacted, own your part in it, take responsibility for the mistakes that you have made and attempt to deal with those consequences to find a win-win solution for those who are impacted and to I guess seek forgiveness and to actually right the wrongs that have been done.

This isn’t really relevant to all types of failures but in many cases, I’m sure you can realize that those times in your life where you have had a failing, other people are impacted by that. Many times the failing, there’s ripple effects that go out from it.

To give you a really quick example, and this is a small failing, I know many of you are probably thinking of bigger things of what I’m about to share with you but this sort of illustrates in my own business a mistake that was made a few years ago, we sent an email, a sales email that was supposed to go to a few hundred people. It was a small segment of our photography blog. A few hundred people was supposed to get this sales email. We actually sent it out to every single person on any of my list including my ProBlogger readers.

I think it was close to 700,000 to 800,000 people who got this email. The email was irrelevant to most people. It was a sales email and it went out. My immediate reaction was to panic, to throw a bit of a tantrum, to run away, to pretend it didn’t happen and I was really worried, particularly my ProBlogger readers, that they were going to get this photography sales email.

How was that going to impact? Was it going to impact my credibility? I really hoped that no one would notice but I quickly realized that people were going to notice and so I had to come clean about that mistake as quickly as I could sent an email again to those hundreds of thousands of people, apologizing and owning the mistake that we’ve made and apologizing for that.

I sent that second email with a lot of fear. I wasn’t quite sure how it would be received. Whether people will believe me? I was amazed, instantaneously I started getting emails from readers, messages from readers, saying that they understood it, that they were confused by the first email but they really appreciated me owning the mistake. By no means was there any intention for this to happen. It actually ended up being something that built the brand. I think people were impressed by the way that it was handled and people reflected back that they could relate to the mistake.

In many ways, sending that email, owning that mistake, owning that failure, actually humanized the brand of ProBlogger and Digital Photography School. That’s not a big example. I know there are bigger failures. There has been bigger failures in own life but I’ve seen time and time again, when we own our mistakes, when we own our failures, when we take responsibility for where we have done the wrong thing, that often will be received well from other people. Most people are incredibility generous and gracious and can actually be something that can lead to solutions as well. As you are transparent with people, you will hear back things that can often help you to move forward through that failure. Number three is to be transparent.

Number four is to learn from it. This is something I say to my kids all the time. I say to my kids all the time, making a mistakes are not a bad thing, it’s actually making the same mistake repeatedly and not learning from that mistake, that’s the issue. That’s where I get across with my kids. If you made a mistake, that’s totally fine. What are we going to learn from it? How are we going to do things differently next time?

When they make the mistake again, that’s when we have tough words. That’s where we really need to address it, I guess. Making mistakes is a part of life. It’s actually I think a sign of life, that something that you are building momentum, that you are moving forward. Mistakes come when we do that. Failure comes when we do that. Embrace those mistakes, but look for what you can learn through that mistake.

All businesses will have their times of failure, but what you can learn from it, why did the failure happen? Spend some time with that question, what actually happened. Don’t just move on to the next thing, what actually happened, what could you have done differently that would provide a different result. What can you learn from that failure, what lessons were there?

Don’t run away from the mistake, the failure, embrace it. It’s a learning opportunity. If you can find some way to see as a positive and to do it differently next time, that’s a very powerful thing. You know that for a fact, if you actually think back to previous failures you’ve had, you know that those times, sometime they make you who you are today. In hindsight it’s really easy to see that but trying try and convince yourself out in the moment as well. What can I learn for this? How I can turn this around?

Number five thing is to keep moving. I do think it’s important to sit with the problem, to sit with the foe, to learn from it, to rest perhaps, if you need to recover from it, because sometimes it does take an emotional toll. There are times where I think in business we need to rest, we need to stop, and we need to have a break. Sometimes, after failure, that can be a really good time to do that, to look after ourselves, but I think it’s really important to then move on to keep the momentum going in some way.

Right now I’m teaching my five year old to ride a bike. I know a lot of you listening to this podcast, the parents, have had that experience yourself, and he has had his fair share of crashes over the last few weeks. He has scrapes, bruises, and sores on his elbows, on his knees and he even got a little one on his nose at the moment. He has had these crashes and that’s part of learning to ride a bike.

He kind of understands that but there are these moments after he has a crash, after he has banged into a fence sort or something, that his natural reaction is to say, “I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to ride a bike,” and to ride off this whole experience. I understand that, I understand that’s a natural reaction, I understand the little tantrums that he throws at those point, but I also understand that if he wants to develop this skill, he needs to get back on the bike.

He understands that too in many ways as well and sometimes a little rest is in order, sometimes a little what went wrong is in order so we can learn from the mistake, but most importantly, he gets back on that bike. The same is true in our business, failure can paralyze us. It can stop us in our tracks but it’s important to keep moving, get back on the bike.

Identify your next best step, maybe that your next best step is about picking up the pieces and starting again. Maybe it’s about evolving what you do, tweaking it, taking the lessons from the mistake and just evolving and tweaking or it may even be that your next best step is to start something new. Drawing out what you’ve learned, identify something that you need to do to keep you moving and if possible include someone else in that conversation, tell someone about that next best step as well.

The last one I want to share with you is going to annoy some of you. This comes from my personality type which I’m told can be quite annoying at times, but that is to be positive. It’s so hard to do it but I always try and look at the bright side. I’m told by Vanessa and her friends that I am eternally an optimist and that can be incredibly annoying, but I am always looking for positive. I think even in those times of incredible failure there are sometimes, there’s almost always some sort of a glimmer of something positive in the midst of that.

Sometimes, it does take a little while for this positive glimmer-y little sparks to emerge but when you see them, grab them and move towards those glimmers, focus upon them. It’s often the small little sparks that fly in the midst of a failure that can become our next big thing. It can actually be the failing, the mistake that we’ve made that shapes us and that becomes a part of who we are and how we move forward. It can actually become a part of your brand in many ways. I can think of many people over the years, who actually through failing that they’ve actually discovered a passion.

They’ve actually discovered out of their own pain a way that they can help other people who go through a similar things as well. Be very aware that in the midst of the gloominess of failure can actually be the seeds, of something really important. Be on the lookout for those things and on the lookout for those small sparks and to be positive about those sort of thing. Celebrate those little things in small ways in the midst of that pain as well.

I know as I’ve gone through this, part of me is cringing if I’m honest with you because I know in the midst of failure sometimes you don’t want to hear this kind of stuff. Hearing things like find the sparks, it sounds a bit corny, but I really hope that somewhere in the midst of those six things is going to be a way forward for different one of us, who are going through different stages of failure at the moment.

Separate your failure from your identity, don’t face it alone, draw other people alongside you to share the stuff that you’re going through. Number three, be transparent with the mistake, with the pain. I think that’s particularly important in the blogging space because many times when we try and hide the issues, the failings, and the mistakes, these things actually come out later. They can actually come back so be transparent. Number four analyze the failings, analyze the mistake, and work out what you can do to do things differently in future. Number five is to keep moving, keep momentum going, get back on the bike. And lastly, find those glimmers, those sparks of opportunity, those sparks of positivity, and focus upon those things.

I really do hope that somewhere in the midst of those six pieces of advice is something that helps you to move through the inevitable failures that will come your way, the inevitable mistakes that we all do, and that will help you to move through those things into exciting times ahead.

You can find today’s show notes over at problogger.com/podcast/190 where you have the opportunity to not only get a transcript of today’s show and find other episodes that relate to the show, but you can also leave a comment. Also, check out the Facebook group problogger.com/group. That will redirect you into that Facebook group.

Lastly, if you’re looking for something else to listen to, check out episode 54 of this podcast. It kind of relates. There’s some overlap in topic. In episode 54, I gave you three questions to ask yourself when you’re facing fear, which is something that I know relates to these times of failure as well. If you want something else, you’re feeling fearful at the moment about those sorts of failures that you go through, go and listen to episode 54 as well. It may help you to move through that, that time as well.

Thanks for listening today. I look forward to chatting with you in episode 191 next week on the ProBlogger podcast.

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’ve been editing all of our podcasts for some time now. Podcast Motor have a great range of services for podcasters at all levels. They can help you to setup 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?

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The post 190: How to Overcome Failure in 6 Steps appeared first on ProBlogger Podcast.

188: How to Build Two Successful Blogs (and the Pros and Cons of Doing so)

The Pros and Cons of Having More Than One Blog

In today’s lesson, I want to talk about having more than one blog on the go at once.

Regular listeners of this podcast know I have two main blog – ProBlogger and Digital Photography School. I’m fortunate enough to have been able to build them up so that either one of them could be a full time venture which is great – but having two businesses to focus upon not only comes with some benefits – but some costs.

In this episode I want to share:

  • The story of how I built them to the point they’re at today
    The pros and cons of having more than one blog or business
  • Some tips on juggling two things like this at once

Lastly – today’s episode is proudly presented by this year’s ProBlogger events. This year we’re holding three events – one in Brisbane Australia, another in Melbourne Australia and a third in Dallas Texas.

These events are designed with very similar goals to this podcast – to help bloggers to grow blogs with world changing content, with lots of readers and which are profitable. All of these events will have some amazing teaching from experienced bloggers (people like Pat Flynn who i speaking at our Australian events) but also have opportunities for masterminds and really drilling into the blog and business that you have to help take it to the next level.

If you’re interested in the Aussie events head to problogger.com/events and if you’re interested in the Dallas event head to problogger.com/success but please don’t wait too long as these events are selling quickly and the early bird price ends in the coming weeks.

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Hi there, it’s Darren from ProBlogger here. Welcome to another episode of the ProBlogger podcast, this is episode 188. For those of you who are new to ProBlogger, ProBlogger is all about helping you to start a blog, to grow your audience of your blog, to create content that’s gonna change that audience’s life and hopefully to make some money from your blog as well. You can find out more about ProBlogger and what we do at problogger.com.

In today’s lesson, I want to address a question that I’ve been getting quite a bit lately and that is, “How do you juggle two blogs and should you have two blogs?” A lot of regular listeners of this podcast know that I do have two main businesses and they both center around blogs. It’s ProBlogger which you are listening to right now, which is a blog podcast event and numerous other things. And then there’s Digital Photography School, which again is a very similar model in many ways. It’s centered around the blog, and then there’s ebooks and courses and other aspects of that business as well.

I’m fortunate enough to have been able to build up these two businesses so that either one of them could really be a full-time venture, which is great. It also presents with some interesting challenges, to say the least. Having two businesses comes with benefits but it also comes at a cost.

In this episode, I wanna share with you the story about how I built up these blogs to the point that they’re at today, the pros and cons of having more than one blog and business. And then for those of you who are considering juggling two businesses like I am, some tips on how to do that and how to approach that if you do decide to do that.

Lastly, today’s episode is proudly presented by this year’s ProBlogger events. This year, we are holding three events over in Australia; Brisbane, Australia, and Melbourne, Australia and the third event in Dallas, Texas in the United States. These events are designed with very similar goals to this podcast, to help you to grow your blog with world changing content, to grow your readership and to build profit around your blogs.

All of these events have some amazing teaching from experienced bloggers like Pat Flynn who’s speaking at our Aussie events but also we have opportunities for master minds at all of our events as well. These help you to really drill down with some experts, with some experienced bloggers to drill down into your business and to really pick apart your business and work at how to take it to the next level.

If you’re interested in our Australian events, head to problogger.com/events. If you’re interested in coming to our Dallas event which is in October this year, head over to problogger.com/success. Please don’t wait too long on either front because the events are selling out quickly and we do have some early bird pricing on these events that end in the coming weeks.

Today’s episode really is inspired by a question that I had over in the Facebook group this week from Sandy. Sandy wrote to me, “You blog on ProBlogger and Digital Photography School. I have heard that you had many other blogs in days gone by. Can you give me some advice on whether having more than one blog is a good thing or not?”

Thanks so much for the question, Sandy. I do appreciate it. It is a great question and as I mentioned at the top of the show, it’s one that I’m getting increasingly regularly at the moment. I know a lot of you as bloggers are wondering whether you should have one blog or more than one blog. That’s really what I want to talk about today. I want to tell you the backstory, the pros and cons of having two focuses, and then some tips on how to juggle two businesses really I guess is what we’re talking about today.

First, the story. I’m not going to go into great detail. The first thing I really do wanna say is that most people when they come across me, and dig into what I do, see a snapshot of how things are today. Two blogs that are established with thousands of blog posts already in the archives and a decent readership with multiple income streams, that’s what you see as the snapshot. This is just the reality of today.

What you don’t see is the whole journey of almost 15 years behind what you see today. I guess what you see today wasn’t the reality when I first started. It had to evolve. I guess why I wanna tell you the story today is that it didn’t just arrive like this, it actually was something that evolved over time. To be honest, it started completely as accident, and it really is not something that I’ve planned to be like it is today.

To go back in time, 2002 is when I started my first blog. That first blog’s name was The Living Room. It was a blog about my experience of being involved in a new church. As well as many other aspects of my life, it started off as me wanting to tell the story of that church. That church was called Living Room as well.

As I began to blog, as I began to find my voice, I realized that I really enjoyed writing about all kinds of things. I wrote about life in Australia, politics, television, movies, sport, blogging, photography, getting married, all of these different things that were going on in my life at that time. It became I guess an extension of the different compartments in my brain as I began to talk about these different things.

Back in 2002, it was very normal to have a blog that covered such a wide spectrum of topics. That’s why I did it, it worked. My readers didn’t really push back too much on me covering that diverse spectrum of topics.

But gradually over time, as blogging matured and as other people begin to niche down with their blogs and focus upon specific things, and as my audience grew and different groups in my audience came for different things, I did began to have some tension on my blog. There were readers who came because I wanted to hear about the church that I was involved with. They were interested in photography and they were interested in blogging. And then there were other people who began to read that blog, Living Room blog, because I was writing about blogging and not many other people were writing about how to make money from blogs at that time. Those readers really were interested in hearing about photography or church.

I began to feel this tension. It began to constrain my blogging in many ways as well. I began to think, “Well, I’ve just written about blogging yesterday, can’t write about it tomorrow. I need to throw in another topic there to serve those other people.” I began to feel constrained. I didn’t really have the freedom to write that blog in the way that I wanted to. I began to take some of the categories in my blog and start new blogs based upon those categories.

The first one I did was a camera review blog which I started late in 2003. It was about a year after I started blogging. It was a blog where I reviewed cameras and many of you have heard me talk about that blog in the past. It worked really well, it’s actually the first blog that I began to make some money from by putting some Adsense Ads on and referring people over to Amazon with affiliate links.

It worked so well that I decided that I’m gonna start to replicate this and so I started a camera phone review blog. This is right when those first phones came out with cameras, Nokia cameras have little tiny camera on it. I began to do reviews of camera phones. Then I thought, “Okay, I’m gonna do another one on printers.” Printers are kind of related to photography and so I began to review printers. I think the next one, I’m kind of a bit fuzzy here about the order of it all but I did another one on the Olympic Games. Was it the Athens Olympic Games? It must have been 2004-ish. And then I started ProBlogger, that was in 2004. I definitely remember that one. That was where I began to talk about making money from my blogs. I began to share what I was learning about making money from blogs.

At this point, I already had four or five blogs going. Some of them were making good money. The camera review blog was making good money. The camera phone blog was doing okay. And then ProBlogger came about, and it completely took off. It was really about the timing of launching that blog. No one else had a blog about making money from blogging back then. A few people are beginning to explore how to do it, but no one had a complete blog about it.

When I announced that I was making a full-time living from blogging and six figures a year from blogging, that became big news. A lot of other blogs linked to it. Some because they didn’t like the idea of people commercializing blogs and other people because that’s what they wanted to do. ProBlogger had this tipping point moment, it was even just a few months into the blog and it already had a fairly sizable audience. It began to make a little bit of money. And I began to explore different ways of monetizing that blog.

Around this time, I also started my first blog network, it was called The Breaking News blogs. I did that with some friends over in New Zealand. By 2005, I think I had about 30 blogs including that network of blogs that I was involved with at that time.

The reality though was that only three of them were really working very well at all. The Camera Review blog was doing well. The Camera Phone blog was doing okay. The Athens Olympic Games blog did really well for the two weeks of the Athens Olympic Games and then it died away. And then there was ProBlogger.

Whilst those blogs were working, there was really one that I was enjoying. I wasn’t really enjoying the camera reviews, I wasn’t really enjoying camera phone reviews, I was enjoying ProBlogger. I decided that I needed to make some changes because I knew I really was gonna have to be at this for 10 or so years to do anything significant with blogging. I thought to myself, “I might as well enjoy what I’m doing.” I decided to make some big changes.

Luckily, ProBlogger by this stage was at the point that it was starting to make a decent income from it. I was doing some affiliate stuff, I was launching some of my products. I decided to focus upon that more and to start killing off some of those other blogs.

The first thing I decided to stop doing with my partners was to stop the Breaking News blog network which freed up a lot of time from me. That enabled me to put more time into ProBlogger, and it grew ProBlogger even more.

In 2006, I decided I was gonna stop the Camera Review blog and the Camera Phone blog. That was a big risk because those blogs at that point were my main source of income. In fact, they were making over $100,000 a year in income but they were killing me. They were soul sucking kind of blogs to run because I’m not a techy kind of guy, I’m not a review kind of guy. I didn’t really feel satisfied with the quality of what was going on on those blogs either.

I decided to transition from being a Camera Review blog to being a How to Take Better Photos blog, which is something I really was much more passionate about. It was something I was much more interested in. The other aspect of it is that I knew I could build my audience over time with the how to blog more than a review blog. People I knew read review blogs when they’re in a buying mode, when they’re trying to work out which camera to buy. But people would subscribe to a how to take better photos blog for a longer period of time. I kind of knew that was a better business model and opportunity around a how to blog, and so I decided to make that switch. Felt risky, but I did had the back-up plan of ProBlogger by this stage. It had been going for two years.

I guess that’s one of the reasons I wanna share this story is that I didn’t launch Digital Photography School and ProBlogger on the same day. I actually did ProBlogger first. I got it up and running, I got it to a point where it was profitable which enabled me then to start something new as well. That, I guess, is one of the big lessons that I wanna get across to you with this story is that you might have two things in mind, you might have two blogs in mind. I would encourage you to really invest into one of them first, and put one of them on the back burner perhaps for a little while, you might want to get the domain, might want to reserve some social media or accounts but put it on the back burner and really focus on one thing.

I personally find that I’m much better at launching one thing at a time. It takes a lot of energy, a lot of creativity, a lot of thought to launch something. Don’t try to launch them both at the same time.

2006 came around and I decided to make the switch. To be honest, when I started Digital Photography School, it was really tough. It was the first year or two of Digital Photography School, the growth was really slow, it was completely different to ProBlogger. ProBlogger had this tipping point moment and I’ve gone into Digital Photography School rather naively thinking that I would just be able to grow that blog really quickly and it didn’t happen. There was no big tipping point day like there being with ProBlogger.

My readers from my original photography blog weren’t interested in the new blog. Not many of them came across, hardly any of my ProBlogger readers were interested in the new blog, that was too different of a topic I guess. I had to work for those first two years on DPS to really grow the archives up, to write a lot of content, to grow traffic to the blog through writing sharable content, through networking, through writing guest posts, through collaborating with other bloggers. Eventually, to get some traffic in from Google and some other social media sort of sources.

I was doing it all myself, particularly for the first year, and most of it for the first two years. Initially, I was doing all the writing, all the promoting, all the comment moderation and all the partnerships and all the monetizations as well. There were numerous times during that first couple years of DPS where I almost gave up because it just wasn’t taking as fast as I wanted. There was growth, but it was really slow growth.

In hindsight, I look back on the stats and I actually see that the growth was steady. I guess that’s the reason that I continued with it is that even though it wasn’t spectacular growth, I knew that if I could keep growing that blog by 10% per month or even 10% every two or three months, over the long haul, I could see that that would grow to a point where it would be a significant amount of traffic and a significant amount of income.

I kind of tried to take this long term view all the time knowing that I had ProBlogger already at a point where it was doing reasonably well. Eventually, Digital Photography School did grow to a point where it got to the same size as ProBlogger and then it grew bigger than ProBlogger. Probably took about three years to get to that point where Digital Photography School was bigger in terms of traffic and income than ProBlogger. It continued to grow. To this point, I haven’t looked at the stats for a few months but Digital Photography School is probably about eight or nine times larger today than ProBlogger. It’s where I put most of my time and resources today.

ProBlogger’s still something that I put a lot of my time into because it’s a personal brand, I’ll talk more about that later. Digital Photography School is where most of the focus of my business goes to.

Now, I should say at this point before I get into some tips that both DPS and ProBlogger are more than just blogs today. They both started out purely as blogs but today the blog is at the center of other things. Digital Photography School today has a range of products around it, ebooks and courses and software. It’s also got a little sister business called Snap and Deal that runs alongside it. It’s more than just a blog and the same is true with ProBlogger. Of course you’re listening to the podcast today but we also have a job board and events as well. There’s lots of moving parts with both of those businesses and either one of them is a full-time thing in terms of income but also both of them could be quite overwhelming. There are a lot of parts to run. That’s the story.

Let me talk a little bit about the pros and cons of having more than one blog or more than one business. Let’s start with the good stuff, the benefits of having multiple blogs. I’ve kind of picked up on some of these already as I told my story. The first benefit that I would say of having more than one blog, and I guess the reason that I started having more than one blog is that it brought a certain amount of freedom to my blogging.

One of the reasons I decided to have more than one blog in those early days is that I felt like I had something to say on more than one topic. I’m a multi-passionate kind of person. I know a lot of you as readers and listeners of ProBlogger are on the same boat. I talked to many of you who say have multi-passions. You’re interested in travel as well as food, or you’re interested in technology or science or you have this multiple kind of interest. For me, in those early days and still today, I have multiple interests. I’m interested in spirituality, I’m interested in photography, I was interested in blogging, I was interested in communication. All these things were things I wanted to talk about.

To have more than one blog enabled me to do that with more freedom. I didn’t have to worry about my readers so much and whether they wanted me to talk about the different topics. I knew that they could just really drill into the blog that they wanted to read rather than have to wade through all the other stuff that they weren’t interested in. If you’re a multi-passionate person, then maybe that is one reason why you might want to have more than one blog.

Second benefit of having more than one blog from a business perspective is the income diversification. Another advantage of having more than one blog, if you’re blogging for income is that by having more than one iron in the fire can be a good thing. It can increase the chances of one of them working for you.

Most bloggers know that there are no guarantees that a blog is gonna work. There’s no formula for a successful blog that will guarantee you’re gonna have success. And more so, I teach a lot of principles of building successful blogs. There’s no guarantees that any of this is gonna work, or any of it will hit them up with your readers.

I had 30 blogs and two of them really worked, 28 of them didn’t. That kind of gives you the kind of chances of having a successful blog. Having more than one blog and my strategy was, “Okay, I’m gonna start lots of blogs. Let’s see which one works.” Which one works for me as an author but also which one works with my readers as well.

This is one of the reasons that you might wanna have more than one blog. To actually have a couple of irons in the fire, to test which one works best and then to be able to focus on that.

I knew really quickly after studying all my blogs whether they had a chance of success. I knew when I started that printer blog that I talked about before that it was not gonna work. I knew within a couple of months of starting that blog that it was not getting traction. I got no comments, I got no emails, I got very little traffic. I knew it wasn’t gonna work. I also knew that it wasn’t giving me any energy as well, it wasn’t something I enjoyed at all.

I knew that even though Digital Photography School was slow, and it was tough and I felt like giving up at points, I knew it had a good chance of working even after a few weeks of having that blog because I started to get comments. I started to get emails from people going thank you. I also felt a lot of energy. Having numerous blogs and starting those blogs, it was good in that regard. It showed me what I wanted to do. It unveiled my true passions, but it also showed me where my audience was responding in different ways. It’s good for testing different ideas and diversifying your interest in that way.

Also, it can help in terms of the actual income and diversifying that income as well. I’m having different income streams on those different blogs, I guess spread the risk a little bit. Digital Photography School in the early days, I monetized it mainly using Google AdSense and a little bit of affiliate marketing on Amazon. Whilst ProBlogger, the income from that was more about ebooks and promoting software and tools.

There were quite different income streams and I guess that diversifies the risk in some ways as well. If AdSense was to go away, I still would have other income streams by having those other blogs. I guess in terms of topics as well, there’s some diversification there. By having more than one topic that you’re blogging about, if one topic was to go away, if blogging for example was to be a trend that disappeared after a couple years, I would still have another topic that hopefully would have sort of an increase in trend as well. Diversifying I guess the topics, the income streams they could be some benefits of doing that.

The other benefit for me of having more than one blog is that as a multi-passionate person, I tend to get a bit bored if I just have one thing to do. This is why before I started blogging, I’d had 20 jobs in the last 10 years before my first blog. I was someone who just needed to switch around, needed to try new things. Having more than one blog enabled me to switch. There’s times over the last 10 or so years where ProBlogger has been my passion and there’s been other times where Digital Photography School’s been something that I’ve really served myself into and enjoyed. By having two things to really focus my energy on, I’m able to mix things up which for me keeps my interest and helps me continue to be passionate as well.

Some of the cons, some of the costs, I think you could probably work it out. Firstly by having more than one focus, you run the risk of lowering the quality of what you do. At the height of my diversification, when I had 30 blogs going at once and I was creating content for all 30 blogs, I know for a fact that the quality of what I was doing was not great on most of those blogs. In fact, on most of those blogs, it was pretty boring. I think back and I kinda cringe at what I used to put onto those blogs. I remember putting press releases up onto my blogs, it was not good content though. It wasn’t personal, it was robotic, it was machine like. It was formulaic, I was rehashing the news that was being sent to me by camera manufacturers and printer manufacturers. It was more about trying to gain the search engines and trying to get AdSense clicks than anything else. It was boring for me and it was also boring for my readers in hind sight. It was never gonna lead to a sustainable business because the quality just wasn’t there. It wasn’t interesting, it wasn’t meaningful, it wasn’t really that useful to anyone at all.

As it turns out, I’m glad I got out of that kind of model because Google has put more and more emphasis onto ranking quality content. Back then, you just had to have the keywords in the content and work at how to get a few links to your site. Today, Google’s so much better at it and same with the social networks as well.

Thirty blogs for me, it was never realistic if I wanted to keep the quality up. Even just having two blogs at times has led to me having to decrease the quality as well. That’s been one of the struggles, particularly when I was writing all the content myself for both ProBlogger and Digital Photography School. I was really aware that by having those two focuses, the quality at times did suffer. That’s one of the reasons I began to get some help in terms of building a team around the blogs as well. Having more than one blog, it’s something that you’ve really gotta be aware of. It may be that you have to write less content but to keep that level of quality up again.

In terms of cost, I guess it could be that you not only lower the quality but you could be lowering the quantity of the blogs. For me, quality is always more important than quantity but quantity can help as well. The way I kept the quality up on both of those blogs was to really pull back on how much content I produced, and that’s fine. When you’re first starting a blog like Digital Photography School, one of the ways that you can really grow a blog faster is to produce more content, to begin to put more content out there because every piece of content on your blog is a new doorway into your site. You really aren’t able to produce as much if you have more than one blog.

I guess the other cost of having more than one blog is the risk of burning out. When I had 30 blogs, I was living a crazy, frantic life. I was working 12 to 14, 15, 16 hours a day just trying to get content up onto all of these different blogs. I was trying to produce content on every blog everyday which just wasn’t realistic. Reducing my efforts to just two blogs really helped me a lot in terms of work-life balance, my own health, my own passion for what I was doing. Even just having two blogs, there’s been times where it’s been a struggle as well.

These are some of the costs. The risk of burning out, the risk of lowering quality, the risk of lowering quantity and all of these things can have an impact upon whether the blog has a chance of working as well.

Some of the things that I would encourage you to do, if you really do have those two passions and you really do wanna explore having two different businesses, I think it can work. I’ve made it work. I do sometimes wonder whether if I just focus on one of them, will I build something bigger? That’s something that possibly the answer would be yes. If I just focused on ProBlogger, could I build ProBlogger into a better thing for my readers, for me? Same with Digital Photography School, if I didn’t have ProBlogger, could I build Digital Photography School into something bigger as well? I think the answer would have been yes. I probably would have built bigger businesses, but I’m also someone who’s fine with that.

Big isn’t everything for me. I don’t want to be a multi, multi-millionaire. I don’t wanna have a business with a hundred employees. I like small. I think I can make something meaningful on both fronts, for myself but also for my readers. I guess really you’ve gotta do some analysis on what’s your ultimate goal. Do you wanna be a multi-million dollar company? Do you wanna just build something small, that’s meaningful, that sustains your life? For me, it’s the latter. That’s probably the first tip I could give you, is really think through: what are your goals? If you want to build something massive, if you want to build something like Telstra or Google, then you probably wanna just pick one thing and really go after that thing. But if you’re happy to have something smaller, something that’s sustainable perhaps, and you wanna explore different passions in your life then maybe two things.

Firstly, consider what it is that you’re trying to achieve, what it is that is your goal, what it is that’s your dream. Secondly, if you really do wanna explore two things, as I mentioned before, spread out the launches. Don’t launch two things at once. I’ve talked to a number of people who’ve done this, it’s possible but you’ve probably got a much better chance of both of them working if you spread things out. For me, the reason I told you my story earlier is that I wanted to show you that things were spread out.

I started blogging in 2002, spent two years really learning the skills. I started ProBlogger in 2004. After I had the skills, after I’ve had some experience, I started Digital Photography School in 2006. It was really two years after ProBlogger that I started. There were other things that I started in the midst of it but I think the reason that Digital Photography School worked is that even though I had that all idea when I started ProBlogger, I could have done it in 2004 in terms of an idea, but I really allowed myself to get ProBlogger established first. That meant I didn’t have as much pressure on me to make Digital Photography School work straight away. I didn’t have to make an income from that blog straight away, because I already had ProBlogger up and running.

Spread out your launches, if you can. Give yourself a period of time where you can just focus upon one thing to get it established, to make it operate as a business, to be able to build some systems and procedures and to build a team so that first thing can run relatively independently so that you can then give a lot of your attention to that new thing.

The next tip I’ll give you is to build a team. I did okay at launching both Digital Photography School and ProBlogger with largely just me working on those businesses. I learned very quickly that I could only really scale those businesses to the point that I was willing to let go and bring others into what I was doing. This is probably a topic for a whole other episode as how to build a team. But for me, it initially meant bringing on some other writers. My first writers were guest writers and then I began to build a team of paid writers.

That also meant getting some administrative support, getting someone in. I think the first person I actually hired was to do comment moderation. Now I’ve got someone to help me with some email and customer support, I’ve hired people to help me with design and tech. And then also some more managerial type roles. I’ve got someone working for me at the moment who helps me produce new products and do busdev.

Again, this is not something that just appeared, this is something that really evolved. That comment moderator, I think they were earning $10 a day for 10 minutes of work. It’s really tiny kind of stuff. It’s gradually growing over time.

Today, I’m fortunate enough to have an amazing little team of seven or eight people who I talk to most days. They help me with different aspects of the business. They’re all part time, but they all do things that either free up my time so that I can do what I do best. I don’t have to answer emails or I don’t have to moderate comments or do these things that they can do. They’re either freeing up my time or they’re doing things that I could probably do but they can do it better than me.

Editing this podcast, the team of PodcastMotor helped me to edit this podcast. They do a much better job, they do it faster than me which frees up my time but they also do it at a high quality. That’s really the kind of hires that I make, they either free up my time and free up my mindspace or they have skills that I just don’t have. Keep in mind, all of these hires didn’t just happen, they were all tiny hires in the early days. Some of them actually started as me bartering services and giving exposure and that type of thing and then growing in that relationship.

While I’m also talking about team, I guess the other thing I would say about teams, this is something that’s become more important to me over the last couple of years. If you do have two businesses and you’ve got teams, you probably in the early days will have team members who are working on both of the businesses.

To give you an example, Jasmin who today manages Digital Photography School, Jasmin actually for a while there was working on both sides of the business. She was producing and I hired her to help me produce products for Digital Photography School. She was also working on the ProBlogger event and helping to manage that. She was doing an amazing job on both of those things and did really well.

One of the things that we’ve tried to do with the business over the last little while is to separate the teams out. This is something you probably won’t be able to do in the early days but there are some real benefits of being able to have different people on your team to focus on different aspects of the different businesses. The problem with having people working on both of your businesses if you’ve got two businesses is that there would be times where they would feel torn between the two businesses in terms of what they should be focusing their time on and you will as well. This is one of the things that we’ve really worked on over the last years, we now have two separate teams. I work on both of the businesses but all my team members work on different aspects of the businesses except for our developers. Our developers are kinda working on both aspects, and again that’s got some cost, there’s some tension there at times. I think that’s certainly been something that’s been really beneficial for us to have different people working on different parts of the business.

The second last thing I’ll say is to think really carefully when you’re launching your businesses about how much personal branding you put into the businesses. One of the best things that I ever did was to make Digital Photography School a non-personally branded site. Digital Photography School, if you’re gonna have a look at it today, you find it really hard to find many references to me. My name is not really on that site much at all. It’s only the about page I think as the founder. Occasionally, we’ll write a blog post if it’s more of a sales type blog post. But 99% of the content is written by a team of writers, the editor is someone else, not me. I’m really not there at all. It’s not a personally branded site.

The benefits of that is that I don’t need to really do much to keep that site running. In the early days, I did it all. But even in those early days, I didn’t really promote myself. I promoted the brand, Digital Photography School. It wasn’t really a Darren thing. I knew that that would enable me to scale it and to get others involved in that. Right from day one, I knew I wanted to have other people writing most of the content on that site because I knew I just wasn’t going to be able to invest heavenly in that for all eternity because I had ProBlogger which is much more personally branded.

Again if you look at ProBlogger, you see my face on the front page. You see videos of me every week, you see my name on a lot of places. I’m the voice of this podcast. It’s much more personally branded. As a result of that, there’s a lot more that I have to do to keep ProBlogger running. I’m committed to that, I enjoy that so that’s not a problem. But if you had two personally branded sites, that’s gonna be really tough.

I encourage you if you are gonna do two things, maybe consider making one of them or both of them non-personally branded if you can. It will enable you to scale things a lot bigger. It will enable you to be less involved in the day-to-day running of one or both of those businesses. It’ll really help a lot. It will also help you if you eventually wanna sell what you do. I think I would have much better chances of selling Digital Photography School one day than ProBlogger. ProBlogger I think could be sellable as well but there would probably be conditions that I would have to hang around because my name is associated with that brand a lot more. Think carefully about your personal branding.

The last thing I’ll say is one thing that helped me a lot is to really work on my routines and batching what I do. I‘ve talked about batching in the past. One of the biggest challenges that I faced having to have my head across both of my business even though I’ve got Digital Photography School to a point where it almost runs itself in many regards, there are dead lines that loom for me every week on both of those blogs.

It could be hard when you’re involved in the day-to-day of two different businesses to keep track of what you’re supposed to be doing at any given time. Particularly when you got a personality type like me which is not the most organized type person, I’m not great at diaries and these types of things. That’s an area that I’ve really had to work on.

I had to build routines and I’ve talked in previous episodes about my routines but Tuesday afternoons for me is the time that I create the ProBlogger Plus Newsletter. Thursday afternoons, until about a year ago, I always did the Digital Photography School Newsletter. I separated those two things out onto different days. Today the DPS one gets done by a team member. Monday afternoons I’ll record this podcast. Every Monday afternoon I’m recording this podcast, it’s Monday afternoon right now. Wednesday is a day that we have our DPS team meetings. On Fridays, we have our ProBlogger team meetings.

Actually having these rhythms, these routines to your week actually enables you to remember, to create a rhythm that helps you to be productive as well. It also helps your team, when you do build a team, to know what it is that you’re working on. My team knows that Wednesday is the DPS team meeting. If they’ve got something they wanna ask me, they can just hold off until Wednesday morning and when we have that if it’s a non-urgent thing so they’re not pinging me all week, they’re putting things onto the agenda for that particular time.

Conversely, the ProBlogger team knows that Wednesdays is the time that I spend more thinking about DPS and so they don’t tend to annoy me as much on that about the things that are associated with ProBlogger and vice versa. The more you can set-up those sorts of rhythms where you focus upon different aspects of your business, the better. That’s good for you but it’s also good for you team as well.

Alright then, my tips and some of the pros and cons of building two different businesses simultaneously, I don’t know that I’ve got all the answers on this particular front but I hope that somehow what I shared today is some wisdom you can apply to your particular business.

If you’ve got anything that you would like to add to this conversation, I would love to hear it because I love to learn from you. That’s a completely selfish request. Let me know what you found to be useful for you if you’ve got two businesses. You can do that over on the comments at problogger.com/podcast/188, or you can head over to the ProBlogger Facebook group, just go to problogger.com/group and you’ll find the group. We’ll forward you over to that particular Facebook group where we’ve got just over 3,500 members now interacting with each other every week and discussing the episodes but also sharing the tips that we’ve been picking up on blogging as well.

Lastly, if you’ve got a moment, head over to iTunes and leave us a review if you haven’t already, I love getting those reviews, it means a lot to me. Helps me to actually stay on track and create podcasts that really serve you. If you’ve got any reviews that you wanna leave, head over to iTunes or your favorite podcast network to do that as well. I look forward to chatting with you in next week’s episode, Episode 189 of the ProBlogger podcast.

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The post 188: How to Build Two Successful Blogs (and the Pros and Cons of Doing so) appeared first on ProBlogger Podcast.