Tag Archives: Mindset + Motivation

218: How to Set Smart Blogging Goals for the New Year

Using the SMART Approach to Set Your Blogging Goals for 2018  

It’s that time of year where many of us are reviewing the year gone by and setting our blogging goals for 2018.

Goal setting is really important in any venture. Without goals, your actions tend to be aimless and random. By setting something specific to aim at, you’ll  be motivated and more focused in your efforts.

A lot has been written about goal setting over the years. But one way to set your goals is to use the SMART approach, where SMART is an acronym for characteristics of good goals.

Most people say Peter Drucker came up the idea, while others say it was George Doran. In any case, both men were almost certainly contributors.

Today I want to work through one version of it (there are a number of subtle variations) and see what we can learn about it as bloggers.

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Hi there, and welcome to Episode 218 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse, and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, a podcast, series of ebooks, and a job board all designed to help you as a blogger to grow your blog, to build an income around your blog, and hopefully change the world and make it a better place at the same time.

Today in Episode 218, I want to talk about goal setting. It is that time of year where I know many of you are beginning to wind down a little bit. You’re beginning to do some reviews of your blog and you’re starting to think about next year. You’re thinking about what you should be trying to achieve in the year ahead. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably starting to think about some goals or objectives for the year ahead. That’s something that we’re talking about as a team for ProBlogger and Digital Photography School at the moment.

I thought I would share some tips on setting some goals. Goals that are going to stretch you, but also goals that would be realistic. Goals that will move your business forward and move you forward, I guess, in many ways as well. I want to give you a bit of a framework for thinking about those goal settings.

You can find out a little bit more about what I’m doing today on today’s show notes. There’s a full transcription of today’s show, as well as some further reading as well. Go to problogger.com/podcast/218. There’s also an opportunity for you to sign up for our ProBloggerPLUS newsletter on the show notes. And simply, that is a weekly email that I send out every Thursday, Australian time, on Thursday morning US. That’s just a recap of what we’ve published over the last week. You get a little notification of our new podcast and new blogpost and if I’ve done a Facebook Live as well. Anyway, I want to get on with today’s show. Show notes again at problogger.com/podcast/218.

As I said in the intro, it is that time of the year where many bloggers are reviewing the year gone by, beginning to think about goals for 2018. Also, many of us are looking forward to a little bit of a break over the holiday period. Here in Australia of course, we’re going into Summer at the moment. I’m standing here in my shorts and t-shirts which is a welcome relief after a long winter. We’ll be having a warm Christmas and New Year’s period with a bit of a break. That’s what, us, Aussies do. But also, in the midst of all that planning for a break, we’re beginning to think about next year, 2018. I can’t believe it’s almost upon us.

Goal setting of course is so important in any part of your life really. If you want to achieve things, it’s much easier to make those achievements if you’ve actually got a specific goal in front of you. Your actions tend to be pretty aimless in life and random if you don’t have something to actually aim for. How do you come up with that thing that you’re going to aim for?

There’s been a lot written about goal setting over the years both on ProBlogger. I’ve covered this topic almost every year. I’ve done a blog post or a podcast on it and in the broader blogger sphere, there’s been many books written about it as well.

One of the approaches that has come to my attention over the years that I’ve found helpful in thinking about my goals is to use the acronym S.M.A.R.T. This doesn’t tell you how to come up with goals, but as you’re thinking about your goals it’s a good framework to run your goals through to make them more effective goals.

I don’t know who came up with the S.M.A.R.T. framework for goal setting. Some people say it was Peter Drucker, other people say George Doran’s. I want to give those men credits but they have both certainly written about this and contributed to this framework. There’s been plenty of others over the years as well. I’ve done research into the S.M.A.R.T. goal setting, there’s lots of different translations of it. The S.M.A.R.T. can actually stand for different things. I want to give you one version of that today. And as I’ll go along the way, I’ll also mention a few other words that I think could be useful as you’re thinking about your goals.

Let’s look at them one by one. To start off, I’ll give you the overview. The overview is that your goals should be S for smart, M for measurable, A for achievable, R for relevant, and T for time-bound. As I said before, there’s a few other words that I’ll throw in along the way. Let’s look at each one in turn.

Let’s start with S for specific. Make your goals as specific as possible. Don’t make your goals something like, “I want more traffic for my blog,” or, “I want more money from my blog,” or, “I want to write more often.” These are good goals, they’re good things that you should be probably wanting to do as a blogger. But they’re very fuzzy. Make them more specific. If you want more traffic, how much more traffic do you want? If you want more money, how much more money do you want? If you want to post more often, how often do you want to post? Get as specific as possible.

You might say, “I want 100% more traffic this year than I had last year,” or, “I want to earn $50,000 this year,” or, “I want to publish a blog post every week this year.” They’re very specific goals. They also tap into the next letter which I will talk about in a moment.

The other S word that I came up with that I haven’t really seen too many people talking about but for me, is an essential to any goal. It’s to make it as significant as possible. Don’t just set goals for the sake of having goals. Choose goals that will take you towards your overarching, long-term goals, the things that you are wanting to achieve – not just this year but in the next 10 years. What is the goal of your blog? Why are you blogging? Your goals need to tap into that why on a deeper level.

If your goal is to make a million dollars, then you’re probably not going to do that in the first year. But make your goal something that is going to help you to achieve that overarching goal. If your overarching goal is to get a book deal, you may not get that this year. But what do you need to do this year to take you towards that long-term goal? If your goal is to retire by the time you’re 60, then unless you’re 59, that’s probably not going to happen this year. But what can you set as a goal that’s going to take you towards the long-term goal?

Consider the big picture and also consider, I guess, what is significant to you. What are you passionate about? What is meaningful to you as well? It’s really important to have significant goals because those kinds of goals, they’re going to be much more motivating for you than just a general fuzzy goal like, “I want more traffic,” or, “I want to double my traffic.” If you tap into the why you want more traffic, that is going to make the goal more significant to you. Make your goals specific but make them also significant.

M is for measurable. If you can’t measure, then it’s not a S.M.A.R.T. goal. In the examples I gave earlier, “I want to increase my traffic by 100%,” or, “I want to earn $50,000.” “I want to publish a blog post every week.” They are not only specific goals but they’re also measurable because I can tell whether I have achieved those things or not. I will know by the end of the year if I have increased my traffic by 100%. I will know if I have published every week whether I’ve published every week. I can see whether I’ve achieved those goals or not.

Measurable goals are great for that reason. You’ll know if you’ve reached them or not, but they’re also great because they can help you to track how you’re going in those things as well. For example, the $50,000 this year. Fifty thousand dollars might be more or less what you want to achieve. But whatever it is that you want to make, you can then break that down into a monthly, weekly, daily total. I know if I want to make $50,000 this year, then I need to make $4,166 every month. I can see how far through the month am I on track to make that target. Same, you can get even more granular thinking about $137 a day to help you reach that goal.

Measurable goals are great because they help you whether you’ve got it or not but also, it can give you motivation along the way that can spur you on and see how you’re tracking with your goal. The other M word that I would encourage you to think about, it kind of taps into the significant one that I was talking before, but it’s to make it meaningful.

Make your goals meaningful to you. Try to choose goals that have meaning to you personally but also to your business. Like I said before, this taps into those significant goals as long-term goals, but also, what else is meaningful to you. Your goals could actually be other things that you want to achieve.

For example, I talked to one blogger recently who told me that her goal for next year is to raise $10,000 for school of orphans in Africa. That’s what she wants to achieve. Whilst that’s not going to grow her business, it’s meaningful to her. She actually visited that orphanage a few years ago and it’s a meaningful goal for her. She wants to raise that, and she wants to raise that through her blogs.

Choose goals that are not just going to further your business, but are going to further other goals that you might have, other meaningful things that you have. Your goals need to be measurable and also if you can, make them meaningful.

Now A, a is for achievable goals. Your goals should stretch you. There should be things that are going to make you work hard. But they should also be realistic, based upon the situation that you’re in. If you’re blogging in the evenings after work, after other family commitments, it may not be realistic to set your goal to publish a blog post every day. It may not even be realistic for you to publish every week. You may want to come up with a different goal based upon the situation that you’re in. If you are able to dedicate full time, you’ll probably be able to reach some of those goals of publishing weekly, maybe even daily.

Setting your goal too big could actually hurt your blog. It could impact your motivation but also, it could hurt the quality of the work that you’re doing and as a result, could hurt your brand. Do stretch yourself, but don’t bite off more than you can chew. Take account of your available time, the resources that you have, also the stage of your blog, are things really important? I see a lot of bloggers who say, “I want to be a full-time blogger by the end of the year,” and they actually haven’t started their blog yet. That may not be realistic. It might be a stretch goal.

I have certainly seen a couple of bloggers go full-time within a year, but in most cases it’s not actually achievable for most bloggers. Usually, it takes a couple of years to kind of get to that stage. Take into account your time, your resources, the stage of your blog, where it’s sitting at the moment. Also, look at previous performance, how’s your blog been tracking, and the experience of others as well. You can certainly ask around to find out whether a goal sounds realistic to other people.

It’s also worth saying that another A word is often translated into S.M.A.R.T. goals as agreed-upon. I’ve seen a number of people write about this. Your goals need to be agreed-upon. This is usually said in the context of a team. The A, agreed-upon, everyone in the team should know and agree upon the goal.

This isn’t going to be as relevant for all bloggers because I know a lot of ProBlogger and podcast listeners are single person blogs, they’re just them blogging. It’s not too hard to have an agreed-upon goal if you’re the only one there. But if you do have a team, I think it’s really important to communicate those goals that you have.

The worst thing you can do if you’re in a team is for you to have a goal and not communicate that to your team. Make sure everyone else knows what the goal is, and get buy in from them as well. A goal really is useless in a team environment if everyone doesn’t know it, but also they don’t buy into that in some way. A is for achievable goals, but also if you have a team make sure that they are agreed-upon as well.

R, make your goals Relevant. Make your goals sit alongside each other really well. This is thinking about you’re going to probably come out with multiple goals for your blog in a year. If you’re thinking about that sort of whole year, you probably should have a number things that you are trying to achieve. But sometimes goals can clash with one another.

I think back over the years, there’s been tons of set goals that I realized one of the goals that I’ve set for the year stands out on my list as being something that just doesn’t fit with others. Many times the reason is that it’s just not the right time to pursue that thing.

For example, I think it was back in 2015, I had on my list of goals that I wanted to run an event in the US. It’s something that I felt strongly about – we’ve got a lot of readers in the US – I wanted to do this, and I felt it would be worthwhile. I thought it would serve our readers. I thought it would be profitable.

But as I looked at that complete list of goals that I wanted to achieve in 2015, it became clear to me that if I was going to put an event on this US, it was going to hurt some of my other goals.

It was going to take a lot of the focus away from some of these other things that really needed to happen first. I needed to get some more foundational things done before I put on that event in the US. So I decided to put that goal on hold. It wasn’t something that I killed. I knew I would do it eventually. But I decided not to pursue it in 2015.

This year, when I decided to look at my goals, it was something that we were much more ready to do. I already met some people who can help us to make that event a reality, and I had freed up some time in my own schedule to be able to put attention into that. This year in 2017, we ran the Success Incubator event.

It was a good goal but it just wasn’t the right time for that goal. It wasn’t a relevant goal for 2015. As you look at that list of goals that you’ve got, bring some critical thinking to it. It’s great to have sort of big goals. I think there’s a place for blue sky thinking, brainstorming, when you’re coming up with goals. But also bring some critical thought to it as well. This might be something that you want to involve some other people in. Show your goals to someone else. Often they will say, “Hmm, this one doesn’t quite fit.”

There’s some other questions you might want to think about. Do your goals sit well with each other? Are there any in your list that could clash with others, one goal might hurt another? Is now the right time to pursue all of those goals? Will one of the goals cause you to be distracted from some of the other things because it’s so big or it’s so new? Is the current environment suitable for the goal? Maybe your goal is to come up with a new type of product and maybe the market’s not ready for that product yet.

Or maybe it’s an old-fashion kind of goal. It would have been a good goal ten years ago, but it’s not so good now. Do other things need to be achieved first? Are there some foundations that need to be laid this year so that you can achieve those other goals next year?

Those are some of the questions I will encourage you to ask once you’ve compiled a list of goals to actually think about. Not only are they specific, measurable and achievable but are they actually relevant for my business today? Are they relevant to what’s in front of me right now, the current situation I’m in? That’s R.

T in the S.M.A.R.T. is to make them time-bound. It’s perhaps a bit of a stretch too because it’s not a word I would usually use. For me, I would say put a deadline on your goal. This is part of making your goal specific and measurable. It’s also about helping you to begin to think about the how, how you’re going to reach that goal. Once you put a deadline on it, you begin to see what needs to be done at certain times of the year.

Put a deadline, “This goal needs to be achieved by August.” I begin to then kind of work backwards from August and begin to slot into place other smaller goals or objectives or milestones that need to happen along the way. It’s also, I find personally, my personality type. Having a deadline actually helps me with my motivation. I work really well with a deadline. A deadline helps me to stop procrastinating. I’ve talked about that in previous podcast as well. Put a deadline on it.

One tip I would give you with deadlines. Don’t make all your goals by the end of the year because you’re going to get into a problem at the end of the year. It could mean that you have a really hectic last month of the year. December might be crazy because you’ve got all these goals that haven’t been met yet and you’re trying to work on them all. Think about spreading some of your goals out through the calendar so that you are working on different things at different times of the year.

For my blogs, for Digital Photography School for example, we create a calendar for the whole year. We’re actually will be doing that in the next week or so. We begin to slot those goals in as we go. Once we have our overall goal, we might have an overall goal. This year we want to launch three new products. We begin to think about when will those products fit in? Another goal might be we want to do five affiliate promotions. Now, we’ve got our products slotted in, we can begin to see where our affiliate promotions might go in. We might want to have four opt-ins, four lead magnets. Where are we going to slot those in? We’ve already got all these other projects on the go, so we’re able to begin to slot those in.

Having a deadline in place means that you are motivated. But it also begins to help you to plan that year so that you’re not doing too much all at once. Really helpful. Another T word that I want to throw in for S.M.A.R.T. goals is to make your goals as thorough as possible. I’ve already alluded to this in some ways. I think you probably should come up with more than one goal for the year. I don’t think you should come up with too many, but think about all of the different aspects of blogging.

As I’ve talked about in previous episodes of this podcast, I believe there are certain pillars of pro blogging. If you want to have a profitable blog, there are a variety of things you need to be working on in any one at a time. You need to be thinking about content. You need to be thinking about traffic. You need to be thinking about engagement and building community. You need to be thinking about monetization. For me, they’re the four pillars of pro blogging. It makes sense to me that you probably want to be thinking about coming up with at least one goal for each of those four areas; some goals for your content, some goals for your traffic, some goals for engagements, some goals for monetization.

Then of course, there are some other aspects of blogging like design, like tech, the tech side of your blog, your servers and that type of thing and also, your productivity and how you are going to do all of this stuff. You might want to have other goals in some of those areas as well. By doing so, you’re coming up with a holistic kind of thorough approach to goal setting. You’re not just saying, “I want more traffic this year,” or, “I want more money.” You’re actually beginning to break down where does more money actually come from? Well, it probably comes from working on my content, my monetization, my traffic, my engagement, my productivity, my design, my tech. All of these things will help contribute to some of those bigger goals that you might have as well.

For me, the areas that I would always be thinking about were content, traffic, engagement, monetization, productivity, design, and tech. They’re probably the seven main areas that we will be coming up with goals for across my blogs.

S.M.A.R.T. goals, S.M.A.R.T. goals are specific, they’re significant, they’re measurable, they’re meaningful, they’re achievable, they’re agreed-upon if you’ve got a team, they’re relevant, they’re time-bound or they have deadlines, and they’re thorough. There’s this smart approach to that. A few other thoughts that I would pop in there, write it down, I think it’s so important to not just come up with the goals in your mind because if you’re anything like me, you’ll forget those goals or they won’t be at the top of your mind, actually write them down, put them into a calendar. I think that is so important.

If you’ve got a goal and it’s measurable and it’s got a deadline, then it should automatically go into a calendar at that deadline and you should probably even be working backwards. Once you’ve got the goal in the calendar, you want to start thinking about what needs to happen to make that goal a reality. This is where you get into the planning. Work backwards from the deadline. What needs to happen for that ebook that you want to have launched by October? What needs to happen by August? What needs to have happened by April? What needs to happen in the next week? You can begin to put some milestones in place. You can begin to work out the order of what needs to be achieved, and who needs to do it as well.

The last thing I would say is make your goals accountable to people. Maybe that’s another A word there. But be accountable to someone with your goals whether that be a family member, a partner, a friend or maybe some other blogger that you want to pair up with this year. Or maybe it’s in your Facebook group or another Facebook group as well.

If you want to join the ProBlogger Facebook group, we’ll have a thread where you can share your goals for the year and maybe just by putting it out there to the group, maybe that will make you a little bit more accountable. I would encourage you though to find someone else who will keep you accountable to that, a buddy or maybe a mentoring group as well.

I hope that’s been helpful for you. I’d love to hear what your goals are for the year, either in the Facebook groups or in the comments on the show notes as well. Today’s show notes are at problogger.com/podcast/218 and of course, the Facebook group, if you do a search for ProBlogger Community on Facebook, you would find that group immediately.

Lastly again, do sign up for our newsletter. It is the best way to keep up with our latest content. We definitely, this year, slowed down in the content creation that we’ve done. This is really as a result of your feedback. We were getting a lot of feedback from people saying, “I didn’t want too many articles every week.” So we slowed it down, there’s only ever going to be one blogpost, one podcast, and one Facebook Live over the next year. Occasionally, we might slip something if we’re doing a series that’s on top of that. But we want to make it achievable for you to consume our content at ProBlogger. That ProBloggerPLUS newsletter, which you can sign up for anywhere on ProBlogger, will help you keep in touch with that new stuff as well.

Hopefully that’s helpful for you today. I’ll look forward to travelling with you over the next few weeks as we approach the end of the year. I’ll look forward to chatting with you in the New Year as well. As I said last week, we’ve got a brand new course that we’ll be launching that’s going to help people to start a blog early in the year next year. If you know anyone who is kind of thinking about starting a blog, let them know that we’ve got that coming. Then we’ve got something else coming up straight after that course that’s going to help us establish bloggers to kind of get their blogs firing up again as well. That’ll come out probably on February as well. Some exciting things coming. Can’t tell you much more than that at the moment, but I look forward to sharing more in the coming weeks. Thanks for listening, chat with you next week.

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218: How to Set Smart Blogging Goals for the New Year

Using the SMART Approach to Set Your Blogging Goals for 2018  

It’s that time of year where many of us are reviewing the year gone by and setting our blogging goals for 2018.

Goal setting is really important in any venture. Without goals, your actions tend to be aimless and random. By setting something specific to aim at, you’ll  be motivated and more focused in your efforts.

A lot has been written about goal setting over the years. But one way to set your goals is to use the SMART approach, where SMART is an acronym for characteristics of good goals.

Most people say Peter Drucker came up the idea, while others say it was George Doran. In any case, both men were almost certainly contributors.

Today I want to work through one version of it (there are a number of subtle variations) and see what we can learn about it as bloggers.

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Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Hi there, and welcome to Episode 218 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse, and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, a podcast, series of ebooks, and a job board all designed to help you as a blogger to grow your blog, to build an income around your blog, and hopefully change the world and make it a better place at the same time.

Today in Episode 218, I want to talk about goal setting. It is that time of year where I know many of you are beginning to wind down a little bit. You’re beginning to do some reviews of your blog and you’re starting to think about next year. You’re thinking about what you should be trying to achieve in the year ahead. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably starting to think about some goals or objectives for the year ahead. That’s something that we’re talking about as a team for ProBlogger and Digital Photography School at the moment.

I thought I would share some tips on setting some goals. Goals that are going to stretch you, but also goals that would be realistic. Goals that will move your business forward and move you forward, I guess, in many ways as well. I want to give you a bit of a framework for thinking about those goal settings.

You can find out a little bit more about what I’m doing today on today’s show notes. There’s a full transcription of today’s show, as well as some further reading as well. Go to problogger.com/podcast/218. There’s also an opportunity for you to sign up for our ProBloggerPLUS newsletter on the show notes. And simply, that is a weekly email that I send out every Thursday, Australian time, on Thursday morning US. That’s just a recap of what we’ve published over the last week. You get a little notification of our new podcast and new blogpost and if I’ve done a Facebook Live as well. Anyway, I want to get on with today’s show. Show notes again at problogger.com/podcast/218.

As I said in the intro, it is that time of the year where many bloggers are reviewing the year gone by, beginning to think about goals for 2018. Also, many of us are looking forward to a little bit of a break over the holiday period. Here in Australia of course, we’re going into Summer at the moment. I’m standing here in my shorts and t-shirts which is a welcome relief after a long winter. We’ll be having a warm Christmas and New Year’s period with a bit of a break. That’s what, us, Aussies do. But also, in the midst of all that planning for a break, we’re beginning to think about next year, 2018. I can’t believe it’s almost upon us.

Goal setting of course is so important in any part of your life really. If you want to achieve things, it’s much easier to make those achievements if you’ve actually got a specific goal in front of you. Your actions tend to be pretty aimless in life and random if you don’t have something to actually aim for. How do you come up with that thing that you’re going to aim for?

There’s been a lot written about goal setting over the years both on ProBlogger. I’ve covered this topic almost every year. I’ve done a blog post or a podcast on it and in the broader blogger sphere, there’s been many books written about it as well.

One of the approaches that has come to my attention over the years that I’ve found helpful in thinking about my goals is to use the acronym S.M.A.R.T. This doesn’t tell you how to come up with goals, but as you’re thinking about your goals it’s a good framework to run your goals through to make them more effective goals.

I don’t know who came up with the S.M.A.R.T. framework for goal setting. Some people say it was Peter Drucker, other people say George Doran’s. I want to give those men credits but they have both certainly written about this and contributed to this framework. There’s been plenty of others over the years as well. I’ve done research into the S.M.A.R.T. goal setting, there’s lots of different translations of it. The S.M.A.R.T. can actually stand for different things. I want to give you one version of that today. And as I’ll go along the way, I’ll also mention a few other words that I think could be useful as you’re thinking about your goals.

Let’s look at them one by one. To start off, I’ll give you the overview. The overview is that your goals should be S for smart, M for measurable, A for achievable, R for relevant, and T for time-bound. As I said before, there’s a few other words that I’ll throw in along the way. Let’s look at each one in turn.

Let’s start with S for specific. Make your goals as specific as possible. Don’t make your goals something like, “I want more traffic for my blog,” or, “I want more money from my blog,” or, “I want to write more often.” These are good goals, they’re good things that you should be probably wanting to do as a blogger. But they’re very fuzzy. Make them more specific. If you want more traffic, how much more traffic do you want? If you want more money, how much more money do you want? If you want to post more often, how often do you want to post? Get as specific as possible.

You might say, “I want 100% more traffic this year than I had last year,” or, “I want to earn $50,000 this year,” or, “I want to publish a blog post every week this year.” They’re very specific goals. They also tap into the next letter which I will talk about in a moment.

The other S word that I came up with that I haven’t really seen too many people talking about but for me, is an essential to any goal. It’s to make it as significant as possible. Don’t just set goals for the sake of having goals. Choose goals that will take you towards your overarching, long-term goals, the things that you are wanting to achieve – not just this year but in the next 10 years. What is the goal of your blog? Why are you blogging? Your goals need to tap into that why on a deeper level.

If your goal is to make a million dollars, then you’re probably not going to do that in the first year. But make your goal something that is going to help you to achieve that overarching goal. If your overarching goal is to get a book deal, you may not get that this year. But what do you need to do this year to take you towards that long-term goal? If your goal is to retire by the time you’re 60, then unless you’re 59, that’s probably not going to happen this year. But what can you set as a goal that’s going to take you towards the long-term goal?

Consider the big picture and also consider, I guess, what is significant to you. What are you passionate about? What is meaningful to you as well? It’s really important to have significant goals because those kinds of goals, they’re going to be much more motivating for you than just a general fuzzy goal like, “I want more traffic,” or, “I want to double my traffic.” If you tap into the why you want more traffic, that is going to make the goal more significant to you. Make your goals specific but make them also significant.

M is for measurable. If you can’t measure, then it’s not a S.M.A.R.T. goal. In the examples I gave earlier, “I want to increase my traffic by 100%,” or, “I want to earn $50,000.” “I want to publish a blog post every week.” They are not only specific goals but they’re also measurable because I can tell whether I have achieved those things or not. I will know by the end of the year if I have increased my traffic by 100%. I will know if I have published every week whether I’ve published every week. I can see whether I’ve achieved those goals or not.

Measurable goals are great for that reason. You’ll know if you’ve reached them or not, but they’re also great because they can help you to track how you’re going in those things as well. For example, the $50,000 this year. Fifty thousand dollars might be more or less what you want to achieve. But whatever it is that you want to make, you can then break that down into a monthly, weekly, daily total. I know if I want to make $50,000 this year, then I need to make $4,166 every month. I can see how far through the month am I on track to make that target. Same, you can get even more granular thinking about $137 a day to help you reach that goal.

Measurable goals are great because they help you whether you’ve got it or not but also, it can give you motivation along the way that can spur you on and see how you’re tracking with your goal. The other M word that I would encourage you to think about, it kind of taps into the significant one that I was talking before, but it’s to make it meaningful.

Make your goals meaningful to you. Try to choose goals that have meaning to you personally but also to your business. Like I said before, this taps into those significant goals as long-term goals, but also, what else is meaningful to you. Your goals could actually be other things that you want to achieve.

For example, I talked to one blogger recently who told me that her goal for next year is to raise $10,000 for school of orphans in Africa. That’s what she wants to achieve. Whilst that’s not going to grow her business, it’s meaningful to her. She actually visited that orphanage a few years ago and it’s a meaningful goal for her. She wants to raise that, and she wants to raise that through her blogs.

Choose goals that are not just going to further your business, but are going to further other goals that you might have, other meaningful things that you have. Your goals need to be measurable and also if you can, make them meaningful.

Now A, a is for achievable goals. Your goals should stretch you. There should be things that are going to make you work hard. But they should also be realistic, based upon the situation that you’re in. If you’re blogging in the evenings after work, after other family commitments, it may not be realistic to set your goal to publish a blog post every day. It may not even be realistic for you to publish every week. You may want to come up with a different goal based upon the situation that you’re in. If you are able to dedicate full time, you’ll probably be able to reach some of those goals of publishing weekly, maybe even daily.

Setting your goal too big could actually hurt your blog. It could impact your motivation but also, it could hurt the quality of the work that you’re doing and as a result, could hurt your brand. Do stretch yourself, but don’t bite off more than you can chew. Take account of your available time, the resources that you have, also the stage of your blog, are things really important? I see a lot of bloggers who say, “I want to be a full-time blogger by the end of the year,” and they actually haven’t started their blog yet. That may not be realistic. It might be a stretch goal.

I have certainly seen a couple of bloggers go full-time within a year, but in most cases it’s not actually achievable for most bloggers. Usually, it takes a couple of years to kind of get to that stage. Take into account your time, your resources, the stage of your blog, where it’s sitting at the moment. Also, look at previous performance, how’s your blog been tracking, and the experience of others as well. You can certainly ask around to find out whether a goal sounds realistic to other people.

It’s also worth saying that another A word is often translated into S.M.A.R.T. goals as agreed-upon. I’ve seen a number of people write about this. Your goals need to be agreed-upon. This is usually said in the context of a team. The A, agreed-upon, everyone in the team should know and agree upon the goal.

This isn’t going to be as relevant for all bloggers because I know a lot of ProBlogger and podcast listeners are single person blogs, they’re just them blogging. It’s not too hard to have an agreed-upon goal if you’re the only one there. But if you do have a team, I think it’s really important to communicate those goals that you have.

The worst thing you can do if you’re in a team is for you to have a goal and not communicate that to your team. Make sure everyone else knows what the goal is, and get buy in from them as well. A goal really is useless in a team environment if everyone doesn’t know it, but also they don’t buy into that in some way. A is for achievable goals, but also if you have a team make sure that they are agreed-upon as well.

R, make your goals Relevant. Make your goals sit alongside each other really well. This is thinking about you’re going to probably come out with multiple goals for your blog in a year. If you’re thinking about that sort of whole year, you probably should have a number things that you are trying to achieve. But sometimes goals can clash with one another.

I think back over the years, there’s been tons of set goals that I realized one of the goals that I’ve set for the year stands out on my list as being something that just doesn’t fit with others. Many times the reason is that it’s just not the right time to pursue that thing.

For example, I think it was back in 2015, I had on my list of goals that I wanted to run an event in the US. It’s something that I felt strongly about – we’ve got a lot of readers in the US – I wanted to do this, and I felt it would be worthwhile. I thought it would serve our readers. I thought it would be profitable.

But as I looked at that complete list of goals that I wanted to achieve in 2015, it became clear to me that if I was going to put an event on this US, it was going to hurt some of my other goals.

It was going to take a lot of the focus away from some of these other things that really needed to happen first. I needed to get some more foundational things done before I put on that event in the US. So I decided to put that goal on hold. It wasn’t something that I killed. I knew I would do it eventually. But I decided not to pursue it in 2015.

This year, when I decided to look at my goals, it was something that we were much more ready to do. I already met some people who can help us to make that event a reality, and I had freed up some time in my own schedule to be able to put attention into that. This year in 2017, we ran the Success Incubator event.

It was a good goal but it just wasn’t the right time for that goal. It wasn’t a relevant goal for 2015. As you look at that list of goals that you’ve got, bring some critical thinking to it. It’s great to have sort of big goals. I think there’s a place for blue sky thinking, brainstorming, when you’re coming up with goals. But also bring some critical thought to it as well. This might be something that you want to involve some other people in. Show your goals to someone else. Often they will say, “Hmm, this one doesn’t quite fit.”

There’s some other questions you might want to think about. Do your goals sit well with each other? Are there any in your list that could clash with others, one goal might hurt another? Is now the right time to pursue all of those goals? Will one of the goals cause you to be distracted from some of the other things because it’s so big or it’s so new? Is the current environment suitable for the goal? Maybe your goal is to come up with a new type of product and maybe the market’s not ready for that product yet.

Or maybe it’s an old-fashion kind of goal. It would have been a good goal ten years ago, but it’s not so good now. Do other things need to be achieved first? Are there some foundations that need to be laid this year so that you can achieve those other goals next year?

Those are some of the questions I will encourage you to ask once you’ve compiled a list of goals to actually think about. Not only are they specific, measurable and achievable but are they actually relevant for my business today? Are they relevant to what’s in front of me right now, the current situation I’m in? That’s R.

T in the S.M.A.R.T. is to make them time-bound. It’s perhaps a bit of a stretch too because it’s not a word I would usually use. For me, I would say put a deadline on your goal. This is part of making your goal specific and measurable. It’s also about helping you to begin to think about the how, how you’re going to reach that goal. Once you put a deadline on it, you begin to see what needs to be done at certain times of the year.

Put a deadline, “This goal needs to be achieved by August.” I begin to then kind of work backwards from August and begin to slot into place other smaller goals or objectives or milestones that need to happen along the way. It’s also, I find personally, my personality type. Having a deadline actually helps me with my motivation. I work really well with a deadline. A deadline helps me to stop procrastinating. I’ve talked about that in previous podcast as well. Put a deadline on it.

One tip I would give you with deadlines. Don’t make all your goals by the end of the year because you’re going to get into a problem at the end of the year. It could mean that you have a really hectic last month of the year. December might be crazy because you’ve got all these goals that haven’t been met yet and you’re trying to work on them all. Think about spreading some of your goals out through the calendar so that you are working on different things at different times of the year.

For my blogs, for Digital Photography School for example, we create a calendar for the whole year. We’re actually will be doing that in the next week or so. We begin to slot those goals in as we go. Once we have our overall goal, we might have an overall goal. This year we want to launch three new products. We begin to think about when will those products fit in? Another goal might be we want to do five affiliate promotions. Now, we’ve got our products slotted in, we can begin to see where our affiliate promotions might go in. We might want to have four opt-ins, four lead magnets. Where are we going to slot those in? We’ve already got all these other projects on the go, so we’re able to begin to slot those in.

Having a deadline in place means that you are motivated. But it also begins to help you to plan that year so that you’re not doing too much all at once. Really helpful. Another T word that I want to throw in for S.M.A.R.T. goals is to make your goals as thorough as possible. I’ve already alluded to this in some ways. I think you probably should come up with more than one goal for the year. I don’t think you should come up with too many, but think about all of the different aspects of blogging.

As I’ve talked about in previous episodes of this podcast, I believe there are certain pillars of pro blogging. If you want to have a profitable blog, there are a variety of things you need to be working on in any one at a time. You need to be thinking about content. You need to be thinking about traffic. You need to be thinking about engagement and building community. You need to be thinking about monetization. For me, they’re the four pillars of pro blogging. It makes sense to me that you probably want to be thinking about coming up with at least one goal for each of those four areas; some goals for your content, some goals for your traffic, some goals for engagements, some goals for monetization.

Then of course, there are some other aspects of blogging like design, like tech, the tech side of your blog, your servers and that type of thing and also, your productivity and how you are going to do all of this stuff. You might want to have other goals in some of those areas as well. By doing so, you’re coming up with a holistic kind of thorough approach to goal setting. You’re not just saying, “I want more traffic this year,” or, “I want more money.” You’re actually beginning to break down where does more money actually come from? Well, it probably comes from working on my content, my monetization, my traffic, my engagement, my productivity, my design, my tech. All of these things will help contribute to some of those bigger goals that you might have as well.

For me, the areas that I would always be thinking about were content, traffic, engagement, monetization, productivity, design, and tech. They’re probably the seven main areas that we will be coming up with goals for across my blogs.

S.M.A.R.T. goals, S.M.A.R.T. goals are specific, they’re significant, they’re measurable, they’re meaningful, they’re achievable, they’re agreed-upon if you’ve got a team, they’re relevant, they’re time-bound or they have deadlines, and they’re thorough. There’s this smart approach to that. A few other thoughts that I would pop in there, write it down, I think it’s so important to not just come up with the goals in your mind because if you’re anything like me, you’ll forget those goals or they won’t be at the top of your mind, actually write them down, put them into a calendar. I think that is so important.

If you’ve got a goal and it’s measurable and it’s got a deadline, then it should automatically go into a calendar at that deadline and you should probably even be working backwards. Once you’ve got the goal in the calendar, you want to start thinking about what needs to happen to make that goal a reality. This is where you get into the planning. Work backwards from the deadline. What needs to happen for that ebook that you want to have launched by October? What needs to happen by August? What needs to have happened by April? What needs to happen in the next week? You can begin to put some milestones in place. You can begin to work out the order of what needs to be achieved, and who needs to do it as well.

The last thing I would say is make your goals accountable to people. Maybe that’s another A word there. But be accountable to someone with your goals whether that be a family member, a partner, a friend or maybe some other blogger that you want to pair up with this year. Or maybe it’s in your Facebook group or another Facebook group as well.

If you want to join the ProBlogger Facebook group, we’ll have a thread where you can share your goals for the year and maybe just by putting it out there to the group, maybe that will make you a little bit more accountable. I would encourage you though to find someone else who will keep you accountable to that, a buddy or maybe a mentoring group as well.

I hope that’s been helpful for you. I’d love to hear what your goals are for the year, either in the Facebook groups or in the comments on the show notes as well. Today’s show notes are at problogger.com/podcast/218 and of course, the Facebook group, if you do a search for ProBlogger Community on Facebook, you would find that group immediately.

Lastly again, do sign up for our newsletter. It is the best way to keep up with our latest content. We definitely, this year, slowed down in the content creation that we’ve done. This is really as a result of your feedback. We were getting a lot of feedback from people saying, “I didn’t want too many articles every week.” So we slowed it down, there’s only ever going to be one blogpost, one podcast, and one Facebook Live over the next year. Occasionally, we might slip something if we’re doing a series that’s on top of that. But we want to make it achievable for you to consume our content at ProBlogger. That ProBloggerPLUS newsletter, which you can sign up for anywhere on ProBlogger, will help you keep in touch with that new stuff as well.

Hopefully that’s helpful for you today. I’ll look forward to travelling with you over the next few weeks as we approach the end of the year. I’ll look forward to chatting with you in the New Year as well. As I said last week, we’ve got a brand new course that we’ll be launching that’s going to help people to start a blog early in the year next year. If you know anyone who is kind of thinking about starting a blog, let them know that we’ve got that coming. Then we’ve got something else coming up straight after that course that’s going to help us establish bloggers to kind of get their blogs firing up again as well. That’ll come out probably on February as well. Some exciting things coming. Can’t tell you much more than that at the moment, but I look forward to sharing more in the coming weeks. Thanks for listening, chat with you next week.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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The post 218: How to Set Smart Blogging Goals for the New Year appeared first on ProBlogger.

Why You’re Not in the Content Business (and Why That’s a Good Thing)

Create Transformation

Originally posted as a Facebook update from FinCon in Dallas (video below)

In my opening keynote at FinCon last night I challenged the attendees to think about how their blog, podcast and video content could potentially be changing people’s lives.

You see, many of us see ourselves as being in the ‘content business’. But I think it’s better if we start seeing ourselves as being in the ‘transformation business’.

Great content leaves a mark on people. It moves them from one place to another.

The the creators of that content do it in various ways – teaching, giving information (such as news), entertaining, providing motivation, and giving their audience a sense that they’re not the only ones and providing hope for a better future.

We can all probably think of content that’s changed our lives in some way. For example, I can personally think of podcasts that inspired me to eat better and exercise, and probably added years to my life.

Some content creators see the change they’re bringing to their audience in flashing lights. It’s obvious, like the example I just gave. But some of us think the changes we bring are smaller, or even insignificant.

For example, at Digital Photography School we teach people how to move from being stuck in Auto Mode with their cameras, and help them get creative control and take better photos. It’s a transformation, but it’s not on the scale of adding years to someone’s life.

Or is it?

Here’s the thing. While giving someone creative control over their camera doesn’t feel that ‘big’, it can actually have a far bigger impact than you might imagine.

Since starting that blog I’ve had emails and conversations with readers who have told me that by bringing about that transformation in photography they’ve:

  • found new creative outlets that have helped their mental health
  • built new skills that have led to promotions at work
  • developed confidence and overcome fears
  • grown new income streams
  • learnt how to take images they can use in meaningful ways as gifts to family and friends, and to serve their community groups.

The point is, you never quite know what impact your content will have on people. But when you create content that brings about change, it can potentially have ripple effects beyond the changes you’re aiming to bring.

The other thing to consider is that sometimes you create changes in your readers on a scale you could never imagine.

ProBlogger, for example, is a blog all about helping bloggers start blogs and grow income from them. We attract a lot of bloggers at the beginning of their journey, and as a result hear a lot of great stories from them that reflect this stage of blogging.

It’s really satisfying to hear those stories from newer bloggers taking their early steps. What we don’t always hear are the stories of those who read ProBlogger in the early years of their journey and went on to do bigger things.

But just because we don’t hear the stories doesn’t mean it’s not happening. And the last few days here at FinCon and our Success Incubator event was testament to that fact as I bumped into some of these ProBlogger readers who went on to bigger things.

Without naming names, I met:

  • a person who credits an article I wrote on ProBlogger to saving her marriage, and helping her and her husband to build a business that earns several million dollars a month. (The article was nothing to do with marriage, by the way.)
  • another person who landed a job on our job board that led to a freelance writing career where he earns a seven-figure income each year.
  • yet another person who tells me that reading ProBlogger seven years ago, and later writing some guest posts for us, helped him build a business with a revenue at the mid-eight-figures level a year.
  • a person who found the first edition of the ProBlogger book in an airport bookstore back in 2008. She read it from cover to cover on a long-haul flight and started a blog the next day that helped her become a full-time author and speaker.

Each time I heard these stories I was taken aback, and even found myself getting emotional. Sometimes people take the content you create and the products and services you offer and run… or sprint with it. You may never know the end result, but you may have just played a part in changing someone’s life.

So stop seeing yourself as being in the ‘content business’, and start thinking about what you do as ‘transformation’.

When you do, you’ll find it has a number of impacts.

  1. What you do will become more meaningful, and be more motivated to do it.
  2. The content you create will be different. You’ll stop writing ‘about topics’, and start writing ‘for people’.
  3. It will probably also become more empathetic and passionate (something your readers will notice).
  4. Your audience will become more willing to engage with you (and each other).
  5. Your content will be easier to promote (as people are attracted to content that gives them a win or a benefit).
  6. You’ll find your blog easier to monetise (particularly if you create products and services that also bring about transformation).

So don’t just create content. Create a transformation!

(Un-mute to listen!)

Image Credit: Dan Gold

The post Why You’re Not in the Content Business (and Why That’s a Good Thing) appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

How to Smash Your Blogging Goals in Just 5 Days

Smash Your Blogging Goals

This post is by ProBlogger expert Ellen Jackson of Potential Psychology

Have you ever uttered the phrase, ‘One day I’ll…’?

Of course you have. We all have.

One day I’ll schedule my social media

One day I’ll improve my web site

One day I’ll organise my images (a personal favourite)

One day I’ll start a podcast…

Next we say, ‘When…’

When I have more time

When I have more money

When inspiration hits

When I’ve developed my skills

When I feel more confident

When life is easier….

Here’s a thought: What if life is never easier? What if you never find more time, money or confidence?

What if tomorrow and the day after and the day after that are no different to today? How will you ever achieve your goals and get those ‘one day’ tasks done? What if ‘one day’ never comes?

Procrastination researchers have discovered that our tendency to put things off is a self-delusion designed to make us feel better about today.

‘We think that our future self will be better able to handle feelings of insecurity or frustration with the task,’ psychologist Dr Fuschia Sirois says. ‘That somehow we’ll develop these miraculous coping skills to deal with the emotions that we just can’t deal with right now.’

Oh dear.

The Quick Win Goal Challenge

Recently I challenged my audience to see if together we could make some progress on our ‘one day’ goals. Science tells us that public accountability can help motivate you to achieve your goals, so we teamed up and made a commitment to work together.

We each picked a ‘one day’ goal – something that had been on the to-do list for months or longer. Tasks we’d been avoiding – important but not urgent. Goals that languished in the backs of minds, niggling, without ever launching forth to a point of urgency.

Our aim?

To follow five simple, science-based steps over five days to make major progress on our ‘one day’ goals.

The goals were diverse:

‘Make a plan to buy my first home’

‘Digitise my client files’

‘Tidy my spare room’

‘Write my ebook’

‘Build my potential client base’

We were all filled with enthusiasm, posting images to Instagram each day to share our progress.

The results were gratifying.

“I am well on the way to finishing my ebook. I produced 65 pages of a 100-page book, created the template, designed the cover AND worked out a distribution plan. All in five days! Prior to this I had done… not much for two years.”

“I have officially ticked off everything I set out to do this week. Feeling chuffed.”

And the steps to get there?

Let me share the five science-based steps to making your ‘one day’ today.

Step 1: Know EXACTLY What You Want to Achieve by the End of the Five Days

‘Fix my web site’ is a goal too overwhelming to contemplate. What does ‘fixed’ look like? How will you know when it’s fixed? Will ‘fixing’ one piece break another one?

No wonder you never start.

When you pull a goal apart and specify exactly what you want to achieve, you do two things:

  1. You get clear on all the little tasks involved. This will help you estimate the time you need, and help you figure out where to start.
  2. You paint a picture of what success looks like. A clear, specific goal like ‘By Friday I will have updated the background image on my home page, created links in the menu to my new product pages and rewritten my About Me copy’ feels achievable. ‘Fix my web site’ feels like a task you want to avoid.

Step 2: Take Conscious Action

A clear, specific goal is necessary but not sufficient if you want to achieve your ‘one day’ project. You need to know where you’re going, but it’s action that will get you there.

Step two involves two tasks.

Task One: Write it down. Did you know you are 42% more likely to achieve your goal if you write it down? It’s not clear how or why this works, but the evidence confirms that it does.

Task Two: Work on your ‘Why?’ For many of us, motivation comes not just from what we’re trying to achieve, but why. Studies have shown that if we connect our goal to something larger and more important (‘I want to make money blogging so I can spend more time at home with my children’) we are less impulsive, less likely to give in to distractions, and more likely to plan and execute the required actions to reach our goals. When you’ve articulated your goal, spend some time thinking about why you want to achieve it. Who’s involved? How will they benefit? How will achieving this goal improve your life?

Step 3: Stop Looking for Motivation

Motivation: We’re all looking for it. Somewhere along the line someone convinced us that when we find our motivation, goal success will be effortless. We just have to find it, and then making client calls will be easy. We’ll sit at the laptop and schedule our social media. We won’t procrastinate or be distracted. We’ll just get stuff done. Simple.

But motivation isn’t  ‘thing.’ It can’t be found. Motivation, in simple psychological terms, is the desire to do something. You won’t find the desire to do something hiding anywhere. You have to create it.

Here’s a tip from the world’s leading researchers in goal-setting: Make your goal difficult.

Challenging but realistic goals – goals that stretch us but not quite to breaking point – activate motivation. They push us, encourage us and reward us when we achieve them. If a goal is too easy we don’t get the get up and go to… well, get up and go. If they’re too difficult we’re too overwhelmed to start. A stretching, challenging but achievable goal is like Baby Bear’s porridge – just right.

Step 4: Use my Favourite Productivity Tip

It’s called ‘The 15-minute rule’ and it rocks. I know because I use it all the time.

Here’s how it works:

If there’s a task on your list that you’re avoiding, commit 15 minutes to it today.

It could be:

  • 15 minutes of writing
  • 15 minutes of client calls
  • 15 minutes tidying your office
  • 15 minutes on that proposal you’ve been avoiding.

Why does it work? Because getting started is the hardest part of any task. The good news is that once you’ve started, you’re likely to push on beyond the 15 minutes you committed to. It’s called the Ovsiankina effect. Your brain doesn’t like starting a task and then stopping partway through. It will linger on your unfinished business, niggling at you until you get the job done. Get started and you’ll find the motivation to do more.

Step 5: Celebrate Every Step

What do you do when you finish a project or task? Do you tick it off the list and move straight on to the next one? Do you get on a roll, morphing into a task-completion machine? How long can you maintain momentum before you collapse on the lounge with the remote and Netflix?

A critical step in making progress towards difficult goals is celebrating the steps along the way. Yes, a big win feels great. But it’s the small wins – the incremental tasks you nail each day – that sustain your motivation and keep you happy and engaged for the long run.

Day five is all about reviewing your progress and celebrating your successes. Make a list of every little thing you’ve achieved on your ‘one day’ goal so far. Every little tiny thing. Give yourself a mental high five and put your feet up for a while. You’ve made a big start on a long-time goal. That deserves a reward. What’s more, you’re set up to rock on into next week.

Ellen Jackson from Potential Psychology  is a workplace psychologist, consultant, writer and speaker. Her mission is to help others to live, learn and flourish. You can join her next free Quick Win Challenge to nail your ‘one day’ goal here.

The post How to Smash Your Blogging Goals in Just 5 Days appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

214: 4 Realities of Blogging All Bloggers Need to Talk About

4 Difficult Realities All Bloggers Face

During a conference last year I was invited to have dinner with three other bloggers who had all been blogging for 5-10 years and were now doing it full-time.

It was a fun dinner, and we covered a lot of ground in terms of conversation. But during dessert the conversation got a little deeper as one of them began to share how they were struggling with their blog.

On their surface, their blogging was going okay. They had a great readership, and the content they were putting out was going well. But on the inside they felt disillusioned.

And as they continued their story, I looked around the table and saw a lot of nodding going on. Their story was resonating with us all.

I related to it a lot. Blogging can be hard sometimes, and it’s to become disillusioned.

As a blogger I’ve heard people rave about my, blog with comments like:

  • “You’re so prolific!”
  • “How do you stay so productive?”
  • “How did you write that way?”

But on the inside I’ve wondered why they can’t see what a grind and a struggle blogging can be.

This podcast is largely positive and constructive about how to build a profitable blog. But after reflecting on this conversation from last year it struck me that while I often talk up blogging, and share the benefits of doing it and the tactics of building profit, it may be worth acknowledging some of the hard stuff we face as content creators.

So in today’s episode I want to talk about four realities of blogging that many of us bloggers don’t always share.

Part of why I’m doing it is to give you a realistic insight into the life of a blogger. But I also think it’s important for us bloggers to realise that we’re not alone in facing some of these things. Being a little vulnerable with each other during that conversation last year seemed to lift our spirits a little. And out of the conversation came encouragement to keep at it.

So today I present four things about blogging that are hard. By no means is it a definitive list – I could probably come up with a lot more for a part two – but I hope it’s helpful.

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Further Listening on 4 Realities of Blogging All Bloggers Need To Talk About

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Hey there, and welcome to Episode 214 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind
problogger.com, a blog, podcast, events, job board, and series of ebooks all designed to help you to grow a profitable blog. You can learn more about what we do at ProBlogger at problogger.com.

In today’s episode, I wanna do something a little bit different. Last year, I was at a conference and was invited to have dinner with three other bloggers. They were bloggers who had all been blogging for 5 to 10 years, they were all full time at what they do. Relatively successful bloggers. It was a fun dinner; we laughed, we joked around, it was fairly lighthearted for the main. We covered a lot of ground in terms of our conversation.

Somewhere around the time that dessert was served, the conversation got a little bit deeper as one of our dinner party began to share that they were struggling with their blog. On the surface, this particular blogger’s blog was going okay; they had a great readership, they were producing lots of content, they had built a team, they had a beautiful design. It was all going well on the outside, but on the inside the blogger was feeling disillusioned.

As the blogger shared, I looked around the table and I saw that we were all nodding at the story. The story that the blog was telling was resonating with us all. I personally related a lot. There are times in blogging where it’s hard. There are times where it’s easy to get disillusioned. There are times as a blogger that I’ve heard people rave about my blog with comments like, “You’re so prolific” , “You’re so productive”, “How do you write like that?” But on the inside, I’ve wondered why they can’t see what a grind and a struggle it can sometimes be.

This podcast is largely pretty positive and constructive about how to build a profitable blog, but it struck me this week as I reflected upon that conversation that whilst I talk about blogging a lot, sometimes I don’t talk about the negative sides as well. Perhaps, it’s worth acknowledging some of the hard stuff that we as content creators face. In today’s episode, I want to go there. I want to talk about four realities of blogging that many of us as bloggers don’t always share. We like to present the positives and that’s great, but perhaps sometimes it’s worth going into these slightly darker and more personal, vulnerable places. I hope you allow me to do that today.

I want to do so partly to give a realistic insight into the life of a blogger. It’s not all bells and whistles. I also want to share it today because sometimes I think as bloggers, we think that we’re the only ones facing this kind of stuff. It struck me during that conversation with my blogging friends last year that simply by us each sharing about the tough stuff that we went away from that dinner with our spirits lifted a little bit more, slightly more energized and encouraged by one another’s stories.

Today, I want to present four things about blogging that are hard. By no means is this a definitive list. I can probably come up with 40 of these things, and perhaps there will be a part two at some point. I hope in sharing these four things that whatever you’re facing at the moment as a blogger, you’ll be a little bit encouraged that you’re not alone and perhaps come away with some ideas about how to combat these four things.

Let’s get into the first tough things about blogging that we don’t often share.

The first thing that I want to talk about is that it’s hard to be creative every day. Content creation, when you’re doing it on a regular basis, whether it’s daily or even weekly, it’s hard sometimes. There are times where it just flows. There are times where you sit at the computer and ten blog posts just come out of you, or three podcasts, or you get so many ideas and you get into the flow. But there are also many times in the life of most bloggers where you sit at that screen and you wonder what it is that you should be writing about, or you feel like you and everyone else has already written on every topic that there is to write about in your niche, or you doubt whether you are the right person to be writing on that topic, whether you have the skills, or experience, or authority to really go there. Or where you struggle to get into the flow of writing, you’re just getting to that flow. Or where you’re fighting distractions or even boredom with the task at hand.

The reality is that it is sometimes hard. There are days where it does flow and there are many days where it doesn’t. I just want to acknowledge that as the first thing today. My tip for you, if that’s what you’re facing, there’s many other podcasts we’ve written, I’ve put together, on this particular topic but my main thing that I want to say to you today if that’s the place you’re in is to push through the pain. You need to know that hurting is an essential part of growing your creative muscles.

I’m sitting here at my desk today, I’m standing here actually, and my muscles are sore. My triceps are sore. I went to PT, my personal trainer, yesterday, and he worked my triceps and they hurt. It hurt at the time and it hurts today but I know that the result of that hurt is that I will have stronger triceps. I don’t think they’re ever going to be massive but I’m experiencing growth as a result of some of that pain.

The same thing is true of your creative muscles. Good things happen when you exercise that creative part of yourself. You need to push through that, you need to persist with that.

Get into the flow by creating something, anything. Sometimes, the hard bit is just starting out. But once you get going, once you push through that initial resistance, that’s where the energy comes, that’s where the ideas come, that’s where the creativity comes. Make creating a regular thing, schedule it into your day, into your week, and push through that regularity and repetition of creating something, anything, even if you don’t publish it. It’s part of getting into that flow.

Number two thing that I want to talk about is that first drafts are almost always bad. My favorite bloggers, they just seem to have this innate ability to put words together in such an amazing way that seems, as a reader, effortless. It looks almost like some sort of superpower. There’s a couple of bloggers that come to mind. Every time I read one of their articles, I just feel alive as a reader. It’s amazing, they have this incredible gift.

The reality is that behind the scenes, the article that you’re wowing over usually starts out nothing like its finished, public version. The article probably started out as a hastily scribbled bullet point list on the back of a napkin, or them jotting something down into a notes app on their iPhone. It was probably then turned into a first draft that was full of mistakes and awkwardly formed ideas. In time, it was probably refined and re-worked. It was probably revisited time and time again. It was probably added to and then subtracted from. Its headline, its opening lines, its conclusions were probably agonized over, it was probably critiqued and edited numerous times and then polished and eventually it was published. It was probably published by someone who then continued to proofread it and edit it after it was published, in the days after.

Creating content takes time. It rarely, if ever, comes out of the author ready for publishing in its first draft. I’ve never, ever written a blogpost that didn’t get an edit, didn’t get reworked.

The tip I have for you, if you are looking at that piece of content that you’ve written and it’s awkward and it’s not flowing and it doesn’t look very good is to keep putting effort into editing, into finishing your work. You need to put as much time into the editing and the polishing and the finishing of your work as you do into that first draft, if not much more.

The second thing, your first drafts are usually almost always pretty bad.

The third thing I wanna talk about is that—this is speaking from my experience—you never really finish anything. Nothing is ever perfect. In 15 years of blogging, I don’t think I’ve ever hit publish on anything on my blog or my podcast that I’m 100% happy with. There is almost always, as I hit publish, a tension within me, mixed feelings. Excitement on one hand, pride, satisfaction. But also on the other side, there’s almost always some uneasy feeling that maybe I could have done a little bit more, or maybe I could’ve added more detail, or maybe I could’ve polished it further, or maybe I could’ve got an extra quote, or maybe I could make it look better.

On one hand, these feelings of “I could do more” can be a good thing. I just spoke in the last point about how you should let those feelings drive you to improve those first drafts. On one hand, those feelings are great, but on the other hand some of us as content creators allow these feelings of “I could do more” to stop us publishing or releasing anything at all. I think, really, one of the skills as a blogger is to find a place between those two extremes. Perfectionism can be both a superpower and a curse. Allow it to drive you to improve what you do, but also learn that you sometimes just need to set free, you need to put what you’ve done out there, you need to set free what you create.

You can always tweak later, but you will never build anything of value unless you hit publish on it. Leave with that tension. Acknowledge that perfectionism within you. Work with it, but also resist it so that you do publish something.

The fourth thing kind of relates to this idea of perfectionism. The fourth thing that I want to acknowledge is that procrastination impacts us all. It happens to us all. We all know what it is to procrastinate.

Here’s a little secret for you. I outlined this very podcast in March of 2016. It was the day after the conversation that I had with my friends. Now, as I sit in front of this podcast, my microphone, recording this podcast is now the 4th of October, 2017. It’s taken a year and a half for me to get this podcast done. Even the most productive people have the temptation to put things off. In many cases, it’s the things that we procrastinate about that ultimately have the power to hold us back most.

For me, procrastination is often tied to fear. It’s the things that scare me that actually are the things that have the biggest potential to bring good things into our life as well. You need to learn to see procrastination as a signal that it’s something you need to really pay attention to. If you’re a procrastinator, after this episode finishes, go and listen to Episode 167 for my ultimate procrastination story and tips.

I hope somewhere in the midst of these four things, there’s some encouragement for you. I don’t want this to be a Debbie Downer, I don’t want it to be a negative podcast, but I want to acknowledge that sometimes it’s hard. It’s hard to be creative every day. It’s hard when you look at those first drafts and you think it’s awkward and it’s not working. It’s hard when you put off things. It’s hard to get things finished. These are four things that I’ve struggled with over the years and I want to let you know that it’s okay to have those struggles too but I encourage you to push through them.

I would love to hear what struggles it is that you wish more bloggers would talk about. You can do so in a couple of ways. You can do it over on our podcast notes, show notes today at problogger.com/podcast/214 or over in our ProBlogger community Facebook group. Love to connect with you there and I look forward to chatting with you next week in Episode 215.

If you’re looking for something else to listen to, go and listen to Episode 167, the one I mentioned in that particular episode. It’s about procrastination. It was me telling a story of my ultimate procrastination, something that cost me a lot of money when I procrastinated on but it gives you some practical tips about how to get things done too. Go over and join the Facebook group. problogger.com/group.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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214: 4 Realities of Blogging All Bloggers Need to Talk About

4 Difficult Realities All Bloggers Face

During a conference last year I was invited to have dinner with three other bloggers who had all been blogging for 5-10 years and were now doing it full-time.

It was a fun dinner, and we covered a lot of ground in terms of conversation. But during dessert the conversation got a little deeper as one of them began to share how they were struggling with their blog.

On their surface, their blogging was going okay. They had a great readership, and the content they were putting out was going well. But on the inside they felt disillusioned.

And as they continued their story, I looked around the table and saw a lot of nodding going on. Their story was resonating with us all.

I related to it a lot. Blogging can be hard sometimes, and it’s to become disillusioned.

As a blogger I’ve heard people rave about my, blog with comments like:

  • “You’re so prolific!”
  • “How do you stay so productive?”
  • “How did you write that way?”

But on the inside I’ve wondered why they can’t see what a grind and a struggle blogging can be.

This podcast is largely positive and constructive about how to build a profitable blog. But after reflecting on this conversation from last year it struck me that while I often talk up blogging, and share the benefits of doing it and the tactics of building profit, it may be worth acknowledging some of the hard stuff we face as content creators.

So in today’s episode I want to talk about four realities of blogging that many of us bloggers don’t always share.

Part of why I’m doing it is to give you a realistic insight into the life of a blogger. But I also think it’s important for us bloggers to realise that we’re not alone in facing some of these things. Being a little vulnerable with each other during that conversation last year seemed to lift our spirits a little. And out of the conversation came encouragement to keep at it.

So today I present four things about blogging that are hard. By no means is it a definitive list – I could probably come up with a lot more for a part two – but I hope it’s helpful.

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Further Listening on 4 Realities of Blogging All Bloggers Need To Talk About

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Hey there, and welcome to Episode 214 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind
problogger.com, a blog, podcast, events, job board, and series of ebooks all designed to help you to grow a profitable blog. You can learn more about what we do at ProBlogger at problogger.com.

In today’s episode, I wanna do something a little bit different. Last year, I was at a conference and was invited to have dinner with three other bloggers. They were bloggers who had all been blogging for 5 to 10 years, they were all full time at what they do. Relatively successful bloggers. It was a fun dinner; we laughed, we joked around, it was fairly lighthearted for the main. We covered a lot of ground in terms of our conversation.

Somewhere around the time that dessert was served, the conversation got a little bit deeper as one of our dinner party began to share that they were struggling with their blog. On the surface, this particular blogger’s blog was going okay; they had a great readership, they were producing lots of content, they had built a team, they had a beautiful design. It was all going well on the outside, but on the inside the blogger was feeling disillusioned.

As the blogger shared, I looked around the table and I saw that we were all nodding at the story. The story that the blog was telling was resonating with us all. I personally related a lot. There are times in blogging where it’s hard. There are times where it’s easy to get disillusioned. There are times as a blogger that I’ve heard people rave about my blog with comments like, “You’re so prolific” , “You’re so productive”, “How do you write like that?” But on the inside, I’ve wondered why they can’t see what a grind and a struggle it can sometimes be.

This podcast is largely pretty positive and constructive about how to build a profitable blog, but it struck me this week as I reflected upon that conversation that whilst I talk about blogging a lot, sometimes I don’t talk about the negative sides as well. Perhaps, it’s worth acknowledging some of the hard stuff that we as content creators face. In today’s episode, I want to go there. I want to talk about four realities of blogging that many of us as bloggers don’t always share. We like to present the positives and that’s great, but perhaps sometimes it’s worth going into these slightly darker and more personal, vulnerable places. I hope you allow me to do that today.

I want to do so partly to give a realistic insight into the life of a blogger. It’s not all bells and whistles. I also want to share it today because sometimes I think as bloggers, we think that we’re the only ones facing this kind of stuff. It struck me during that conversation with my blogging friends last year that simply by us each sharing about the tough stuff that we went away from that dinner with our spirits lifted a little bit more, slightly more energized and encouraged by one another’s stories.

Today, I want to present four things about blogging that are hard. By no means is this a definitive list. I can probably come up with 40 of these things, and perhaps there will be a part two at some point. I hope in sharing these four things that whatever you’re facing at the moment as a blogger, you’ll be a little bit encouraged that you’re not alone and perhaps come away with some ideas about how to combat these four things.

Let’s get into the first tough things about blogging that we don’t often share.

The first thing that I want to talk about is that it’s hard to be creative every day. Content creation, when you’re doing it on a regular basis, whether it’s daily or even weekly, it’s hard sometimes. There are times where it just flows. There are times where you sit at the computer and ten blog posts just come out of you, or three podcasts, or you get so many ideas and you get into the flow. But there are also many times in the life of most bloggers where you sit at that screen and you wonder what it is that you should be writing about, or you feel like you and everyone else has already written on every topic that there is to write about in your niche, or you doubt whether you are the right person to be writing on that topic, whether you have the skills, or experience, or authority to really go there. Or where you struggle to get into the flow of writing, you’re just getting to that flow. Or where you’re fighting distractions or even boredom with the task at hand.

The reality is that it is sometimes hard. There are days where it does flow and there are many days where it doesn’t. I just want to acknowledge that as the first thing today. My tip for you, if that’s what you’re facing, there’s many other podcasts we’ve written, I’ve put together, on this particular topic but my main thing that I want to say to you today if that’s the place you’re in is to push through the pain. You need to know that hurting is an essential part of growing your creative muscles.

I’m sitting here at my desk today, I’m standing here actually, and my muscles are sore. My triceps are sore. I went to PT, my personal trainer, yesterday, and he worked my triceps and they hurt. It hurt at the time and it hurts today but I know that the result of that hurt is that I will have stronger triceps. I don’t think they’re ever going to be massive but I’m experiencing growth as a result of some of that pain.

The same thing is true of your creative muscles. Good things happen when you exercise that creative part of yourself. You need to push through that, you need to persist with that.

Get into the flow by creating something, anything. Sometimes, the hard bit is just starting out. But once you get going, once you push through that initial resistance, that’s where the energy comes, that’s where the ideas come, that’s where the creativity comes. Make creating a regular thing, schedule it into your day, into your week, and push through that regularity and repetition of creating something, anything, even if you don’t publish it. It’s part of getting into that flow.

Number two thing that I want to talk about is that first drafts are almost always bad. My favorite bloggers, they just seem to have this innate ability to put words together in such an amazing way that seems, as a reader, effortless. It looks almost like some sort of superpower. There’s a couple of bloggers that come to mind. Every time I read one of their articles, I just feel alive as a reader. It’s amazing, they have this incredible gift.

The reality is that behind the scenes, the article that you’re wowing over usually starts out nothing like its finished, public version. The article probably started out as a hastily scribbled bullet point list on the back of a napkin, or them jotting something down into a notes app on their iPhone. It was probably then turned into a first draft that was full of mistakes and awkwardly formed ideas. In time, it was probably refined and re-worked. It was probably revisited time and time again. It was probably added to and then subtracted from. Its headline, its opening lines, its conclusions were probably agonized over, it was probably critiqued and edited numerous times and then polished and eventually it was published. It was probably published by someone who then continued to proofread it and edit it after it was published, in the days after.

Creating content takes time. It rarely, if ever, comes out of the author ready for publishing in its first draft. I’ve never, ever written a blogpost that didn’t get an edit, didn’t get reworked.

The tip I have for you, if you are looking at that piece of content that you’ve written and it’s awkward and it’s not flowing and it doesn’t look very good is to keep putting effort into editing, into finishing your work. You need to put as much time into the editing and the polishing and the finishing of your work as you do into that first draft, if not much more.

The second thing, your first drafts are usually almost always pretty bad.

The third thing I wanna talk about is that—this is speaking from my experience—you never really finish anything. Nothing is ever perfect. In 15 years of blogging, I don’t think I’ve ever hit publish on anything on my blog or my podcast that I’m 100% happy with. There is almost always, as I hit publish, a tension within me, mixed feelings. Excitement on one hand, pride, satisfaction. But also on the other side, there’s almost always some uneasy feeling that maybe I could have done a little bit more, or maybe I could’ve added more detail, or maybe I could’ve polished it further, or maybe I could’ve got an extra quote, or maybe I could make it look better.

On one hand, these feelings of “I could do more” can be a good thing. I just spoke in the last point about how you should let those feelings drive you to improve those first drafts. On one hand, those feelings are great, but on the other hand some of us as content creators allow these feelings of “I could do more” to stop us publishing or releasing anything at all. I think, really, one of the skills as a blogger is to find a place between those two extremes. Perfectionism can be both a superpower and a curse. Allow it to drive you to improve what you do, but also learn that you sometimes just need to set free, you need to put what you’ve done out there, you need to set free what you create.

You can always tweak later, but you will never build anything of value unless you hit publish on it. Leave with that tension. Acknowledge that perfectionism within you. Work with it, but also resist it so that you do publish something.

The fourth thing kind of relates to this idea of perfectionism. The fourth thing that I want to acknowledge is that procrastination impacts us all. It happens to us all. We all know what it is to procrastinate.

Here’s a little secret for you. I outlined this very podcast in March of 2016. It was the day after the conversation that I had with my friends. Now, as I sit in front of this podcast, my microphone, recording this podcast is now the 4th of October, 2017. It’s taken a year and a half for me to get this podcast done. Even the most productive people have the temptation to put things off. In many cases, it’s the things that we procrastinate about that ultimately have the power to hold us back most.

For me, procrastination is often tied to fear. It’s the things that scare me that actually are the things that have the biggest potential to bring good things into our life as well. You need to learn to see procrastination as a signal that it’s something you need to really pay attention to. If you’re a procrastinator, after this episode finishes, go and listen to Episode 167 for my ultimate procrastination story and tips.

I hope somewhere in the midst of these four things, there’s some encouragement for you. I don’t want this to be a Debbie Downer, I don’t want it to be a negative podcast, but I want to acknowledge that sometimes it’s hard. It’s hard to be creative every day. It’s hard when you look at those first drafts and you think it’s awkward and it’s not working. It’s hard when you put off things. It’s hard to get things finished. These are four things that I’ve struggled with over the years and I want to let you know that it’s okay to have those struggles too but I encourage you to push through them.

I would love to hear what struggles it is that you wish more bloggers would talk about. You can do so in a couple of ways. You can do it over on our podcast notes, show notes today at problogger.com/podcast/214 or over in our ProBlogger community Facebook group. Love to connect with you there and I look forward to chatting with you next week in Episode 215.

If you’re looking for something else to listen to, go and listen to Episode 167, the one I mentioned in that particular episode. It’s about procrastination. It was me telling a story of my ultimate procrastination, something that cost me a lot of money when I procrastinated on but it gives you some practical tips about how to get things done too. Go over and join the Facebook group. problogger.com/group.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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213: Blogging and Content Marketing: 10 Things To Know

10 Things I Wish I Knew About Blogging and Content Marketing When I Started

Today, I want to share the audio of a keynote I gave at a conference early last year about 10 things I wish I’d known about blogging and creating content for content marketing when I started.

In episodes 204 and 205 I shared some recordings of keynotes I’ve given, and the response from many of you was that you wanted to hear more of that style of podcast. So today I dug out a talk I gave at the Super Fast Business conference, which is run by James Schramko here in Australia.

James, who puts on a great event, asked me to share some of my story and give some practical tips on content creation.

I talk about defining what your blog is about, the three phases of creating great content, how to mix up the different types of content you feature on your blog, idea generation, creating ‘content events’ on your blog, and how to differentiate yourself in your content.   

I loved doing this talk, and I hope you enjoy it too.

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10 THINGS I WISH I KNEW ABOUT CONTENT MARKETING WHEN I STARTED

Further Listening on 10 Things I Wish I Knew About Blogging (and Content Marketing) When I Started

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Hi there and welcome to episode 213 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 grow your audience. You can find more about ProBlogger over at problogger.com.

In today’s episode, I want to share with you an audio from a keynote I gave at a conference early last year. The topic was ’10 things I wish I had known about blogging and creating content for content marketing when I started’. A bit of a mouthful, but you get the idea. Back in episode 204, 205, just a few episodes ago, I shared a couple of recordings from keynotes I’ve given at my ProBlogger events and I had so much positive response from that. People really enjoyed that format, a presentation, a talk. Longer form and also the slides from those talks as well.

I wanted to do it again because many of you wanted more of that style of podcast. We’re not going to do it every week by any account. I don’t give that many talks. But I did find this one from the Superfast Business Conference. It’s a conference that is run by James Schramko. Many of you will know here in Australia. It’s run in Sydney and it was a great event. I really enjoyed getting to that particular event.

James puts on a really good event, and he asked me at the event last year to share some of my story but also give some practical tips on content creation. Really, that’s what the focus of this talk is about. In it, I’ve given a few tips on defining what your blog is about but then we get a lot into content creation itself. I talk about three different phases of creating content. I talk about how to mix up the different types of content that you might want to feature on your blog. I talk about idea generation, some tips on creating content, finishing content, running content events and challenges on your blog and also how to differentiate yourself through your content as well.

I really enjoyed this talk and I hope you do as well. I’ll also put up the slides from this talk in today’s show notes. There are a few times during the talk where you probably will want to refer to the slides. Whether you do that as you’re listening if you’re at a computer or whether you want to come back to the slides later, you’ll be able to do that. I bet 95% of what I do talk about in this talk doesn’t rely on the slides but you might want to have them. The show notes are at problogger.com/podcast/213.

The only other thing I will note is that at the time of this talk, there was a tool that I was using called Blab. Blab is a live streaming tool that allowed multiple people to be on the screen at once. Now, that tool doesn’t exist today. But when I do talk about it, you can pretty much substitute most of the other live streaming tools that exist today. It’s only a brief mention during the talk but I did want to point that out.

Some of the points I mention in passing during this keynote were expanded upon in later podcast. At the end of the talk, I will come back on and suggest some further listening for those of you who want to dig deeper into some of the things I touched on during the talk. But again, I’ll link to all of those in the show notes as well. problogger.com/podcast/213. Thank you so much for listening. I hope you enjoy this talk and I will come back at the end just to wrap things up.

Host: Our next guest is a superpower in the blogosphere. In fact, I remember going to an event, my first event in the United States several years ago, and I found out he’d been to one before that, one of the early ones. I found a transcript of what he’d been doing and what he talked about. I read through it and I thought, “This is great.” He’s probably one of the seeds to my original direction towards content marketing. And then I recently saw him in the Philippines, presenting. I thought, “This information is very in line with what we do.” His version of what I talk about with OTR, but he’s been doing it a lot longer than I have. He can do things like write and spell. He’s prolific and he’s really, really good at it. Without further ado, I’d like to introduce Darren Rowse.

Darren: Thank you. It’s really good. Who’s feeling like they’ve already got enough value from this and they could go home almost? I, literally in the lunch break, had to rewrite the opening story of my talk thanks to an earlier presentation. I put all my content onto an app, thanks Jared. I’ve killed my idea for the ProBlogger album and t-shirt range. I have been considering doing a pyjama range, ProBlogger workwear for bloggers.

I’ve had to call the team and tell them to put all the content behind a subscription. I’ve deleted all the apps on my phone and I just took a hot and cold shower. It’s been a busy lunch break. I hope you’ve had a productive one.

I want to talk about content marketing, and to help you understand the perspective that I’ve come to this topic from. I want to tell you a very brief version of my story. I got an email a couple of days ago basically saying, “We’ve got lines for speakers.” It was basically cut out all your story because people just want the tips. I’m like, “But that was the first 20 minutes of my talk gone.” I’m going to tell it to you in two minutes and it does skip over some of the stages of the format for storytelling before.

For me, it all started in 2002 with an email from a friend. I was sitting at a desk, one of the part-time jobs that I had, and this email pinged in. A voice said, “Master, you’ve got mail.” Did anyone else install that? I was the only one. Okay, It was 2002 and I got this email and it had four words in it and a link. The four words were, “Check out this blog.” I had no idea what a blog was so I clicked the link out of curiosity. I ended up on this site that changed the course of my life not because of the content on it, although that was interesting, but because it was my first discovery of blogging and of this amazing tool called a blog.

What I found on this blog was this tool that enabled this guy on the other side of the world living in Prague, to talk to me in a really powerful, personal way. It amplified his voice in a way I’ve never seen a voice amplified before. I’ve done some public speaking. I’ve never had my voice amplified in that way. Around his voice was this community. Everyone was getting smarter as a result of not only what he was saying but the fact that there was a community there.

These two things captivated me. Within a couple of hours, I decided I needed to start a blog. Now, unfortunately, I had no credentials whatsoever to start a blog and if I thought about it for any more than about five minutes, I wouldn’t have done it. I’ve had 20 jobs in the last 10 years, none of which had anything to do with blogging. The only qualification I had was a Bachelor of Theology, which hasn’t really helped a whole heap. I wasn’t a great writer. It was my worst subject in high school and I was incapable of making text bold on that blog for three months after starting it.

Back then, you had to know a little bit of HTML and I had no idea, technological. But for one reason or another, I started that blog and that was the best thing that I’ve ever done in business. This is what it looked like. It was ugly. I designed this myself. It was based upon my wedding invitation, which makes me doubt my wife’s choice in colors. But if you’ve seen her blog, she’s a very colourful person.

Anyway, I did meet some people who knew how to make text bold and they eventually redesigned my blog for me. It was a personal journal of sorts. I was writing about spirituality, politics, movies. It was pretty much an outward pouring of what was in my mind, which was quite scary. What was even more scary was that thousands of people a day found it and read it. I didn’t know why but I was quite happy that they did.

I became very quickly addicted to blogging and creating content, with no intent whatsoever of making it into a business. It was just a hobby. It was something that I did for pretty much seven hours every night when I got home. It was a big part of my life and it became an addiction.

I began to experiment with other blogs over time. My next blog was a photo blog. I was going to share photos of a trip I was taking to Morocco with my wife, with my brand new digital camera. Turns out no-one had looked to any of the photos but I posted one review of the camera I was using and it ranked number one on Google for that camera. The entrepreneurial lights began to go in my mind.

I transitioned that photo blog onto a digital camera review blog, where I wrote reviews of other cameras and aggregated reviews that other people were writing around the web. It was a good time to start a digital photography blog because digital cameras were just starting to really take off.

In 2004, blogging had become a part-time job. In fact, it almost became a full time job. With this particular blog, I started to put some AdSense ads on my blog and some Amazon affiliate links to earn those 4% commissions on those $10 books. I didn’t really earn a lot but it was the beginnings of a part-time job, which over the next year, became a full-time thing for me.

In 2004, I started ProBlogger. It was pretty much me saying to the world you can make a living from blogging and is anyone else doing it out there because no-one was writing about it. It was my attempt to find other people on this same journey to learn from and to share what I was learning with.

I transitioned my photography blog into Digital Photography School in 2007 and this is my main blog today. It’s about ten times larger than ProBlogger. ProBlogger is a bit of a side project for me, which pays a full-time living in and of itself. But this is the main thing that I do today. It’s a how to take photography-type site.

Thirteen years later, I’m not the biggest blogger in the world and I’m not the best blogger in the world. But given the fact that I had no idea what I was doing when I started, I’m pretty pleased with what’s happened as a result of it. There’s a whole heap of numbers there which I pinch myself at. But the thing that I really love about what’s opened up for me is the opportunities. The opportunities to write a book, to start a conference, to speak at amazing events like this, meet amazing people.

But the best thing of all is when people come up to me at a conference like this, as happened this morning, and say things like, “You wrote this post that changed my life. In some small way, it helped me to start a business.” Or like James said before, “Influence the way I do things today.” That is something that I get really excited about. That’s the biggest compliment for me.

Thirteen years later, I find myself as a full-time blogger. Blogging and content marketing for me really tap into this quote that you’ve probably heard a million times before at conferences like this. “People do business with those that they know, like, and trust,” and content has the ability to help you to be known. Who would’ve ever thought I would be known by four million people a month? To be liked.

Who would’ve ever thought that someone will walk up to me this morning in a conference and give me a hug? I’m an introvert. I don’t like hugs, but I love the fact that people actually feel like they know me and they like me. It opens up opportunities for you to be trusted. This is what content marketing, this is what blogging is all about for me.

I want to say right upfront, whilst I’m talking about content marketing today, I’m doing it as a blogger. A lot of what I share today comes out of that experience. Blogging for me is the center of the mix. These are all of the other things that I do with my time and I could probably add some more circles to that. This week, I started on an app called Anchor. I don’t know if anyone’s started playing with Anchor. It’s like an audio version of Twitter. It’s fun. You leave a message and then everyone else leaves a voicemail message effectively back on your message and a conversation happens that way. It’s a really cool tool.

Anyway, I’m always experimenting with lots of different things. For me, the blog is the center of the mix. Whether that’s the case for you or whether a podcast is that or whether it’s something else, I think pretty much everything that I want to share this morning and the ten things that I’ve learned since I started applies to pretty much any medium and most of the models that you’ll be experimenting with before.

I’m going to whip through ten things. The first two are fairly foundational and then we get a little bit more tactical as we go along. This is something you’ve probably already thought about but I think it’s something that you really need to come back to on a regular basis. Define what it is that your blog or your podcast or you are about. There’s a variety of ways that you can think about this. The most common of which is to choose a niche and to think about that niche.

Has anyone got a niche in the room that you would say you got a niche? I’ve got a photography blog. That’s my niche. I’ve got a blogging blog. That’s a niche. This is Chris Hunter. He’s got a great blog called Bike EXIF. It’s about custom and classic motorbikes. He’s the only male I know who’s got something like 400,000 or 500,000 Pinterest followers. A lot of people say Pinterest is for women only. No way. There’s a whole heap of men on there and they’ve got their own niches.

He has a niche. I’ve got a niche. A lot of bloggers though that I meet say, “I don’t really want to just write about one topic.” And so another way to define what you’re on about is to think about your demographic. This is Gala Darling. She writes about travel, horoscopes, tattoos, relationships, travel, all kinds of stuff. But they relate to the one kind of person. She thinks about her blog as a blog for youthful, alternative, unconventional, individual, eccentric women. Her words, not mine. That’s her demographic.

The third way I think is, you can add to these other two, and that is to have a fight. I think this is a particularly powerful one. ProBlogger, when I started in 2004, it was a blog about making money from blogging. That was quite a controversial thing to write about in 2004 because blogging was seen as a very pure medium. And so for me to say I’m making money from blogging and I’m making six figures from it back in 2004, that was quite a stir. People really reacted to that in one of two ways.

Some people said, “He’s lying.” Other people said, “You shouldn’t make money from blogging.” And other people said, “Yeah, I want to do that too.” For me, the fight of ProBlogger back then was that you can do it and you can actually do it in an ethical way. That was like me putting a flag in the sand and people either reacted against it or they rallied around it. A lot of people were inspired by that idea. A lot of people shared that journey.

Having a fight for what you do is a very, very powerful thing. My wife, she’s a style blogger. She has a niche. Style, fashion, homewear, that’s her niche. She has a demographic as well. She writes for moms. But she also has a fight and it comes out in a lot of the content that she writes. You don’t have to give up on style when you’ve got three little, I was going to call them brats, boys running around in your home who fight against their stuff. That’s her fight. That something that really resonates with a lot of moms and so she weaves that into her blog and people rally around it.

When you’ve got a fight, you give something for people to join and that’s a very powerful thing when it comes to content. What is it that you do? This is something I go back to quite regularly and think about. The other thing I’d say about choosing what you do, choose something that’s meaningful to you. You’re going to be at this for a while so you might as well do something you enjoy and something that’s meaningful to you. If it’s meaningful to you, it will shine through in the content that you create.

I’ve had 30 blogs over the years. I have to say 28 of them I started because I thought they’d be profitable and they didn’t really mean a whole heap to me. I couldn’t sustain them and people who came across those blogs could tell that they weren’t meaningful to me and so they didn’t come back again. Do something meaningful to you.

Number two, understand your reader and how you will change them. Most people have been through some sort of an exercise like this and have created something like this. These are the reader profiles that I created when I started Digital Photography School in 2007. Some people would call them personas or avatars today. I know some people like personas and avatars, other people don’t.

But what I would say to you whether you’ve got one or not, you need to understand who’s reading your blog. The better you understand them and what is meaningful to them, the better position you’ll be in to create great content, to find more of those readers because you’ll start to understand where they’re hanging out. You’ll also understand how to build community with them and you’ll suddenly get ideas for how you monetize as well. The better you understand who is reading your blog, the better.

But here’s the thing. Most people’s avatars, most people’s understandings of their readers ends at ‘They’re 34, they’re male, they live in these sorts of… ‘Their demographical information. That’s good to know but you need to understand these kinds of things. You need to understand their needs. You need to understand their problems. You really need to understand their desires, where they want to be, their dreams. Those things are really powerful things to understand.

You need to understand their fears. Their fears are the things that are stopping them to get to their dreams. Even if you just understand their dream and their fear, that’s a very powerful thing to understand. It will inform your content. Again, it will inform how you brand yourself, how you promote yourself, how you build community and how you monetize. These things need to be crystal clear in your mind.

Whether you’ve got an avatar or not, understand these things. Find out what is meaningful to them. When you understand those things, that is meaningful stuff. Understand what’s meaningful to them. You can do it in a whole heap of different ways. For us, we use surveys. One of the things I love about live streaming, Periscope or a tool like Blab, has anyone used Blab? It puts you into a conversation. A very real-time conversation with people. That’s great for broadcasting your ideas and for creating content but it’s even more useful in terms of understanding the needs of people.

I remember the first time I did a Blab. It’s like Google Hangouts but it works. It put me into a conversation with three of my readers. I’ve never heard of them before. I didn’t recognize their names but suddenly, I was seeing them on the screen, hearing their voices, hearing their frustrations, hearing their questions. I wrote the best content that afternoon, after that Blab, because it was written out of the pain of my readers and the real life questions of my readers.

Use these sorts of tools to understand who your readers are. I think the great thing about an event like this, if you have enough readers to hold an event, is that you understand, you meet those people. It will infect the way you create content.

But here’s something where you can take your avatar writing to the next stage. Most people don’t do this. They have an avatar. They might know their reader’s problems but here’s the question I’d ask you. How will you change your readers? How are you going to change them? Here’s a simple exercise that you can do. Actually, before I give you the exercise, great blogs and great podcasts, they leave a mark on their readers and so I want to encourage you to think about the content you create.

It’s not only getting people onto your list or getting them to know, like, and trust you but understand that that content that you create has the potential to change your readers. If you create content that changes your readers, that’s a very powerful thing because they’ll come back and they’ll bring other people with them.

Here’s the exercise. You can do this later. It’s a very simple one. You just need a piece of paper and a pen the draw a line across it. At point A, I want you to describe who your readers are when they arrive on your blog or your podcast or where it is that you have first contact with people. This will be your avatar of sorts and it should include their needs, their problems, their desires, and their fears, those types of things.

Most people do this when they’ve got a blog but hardly anyone does this, where will your reader be as a result of coming into contact with you? Where will they be in a year’s time? Where will they be in five years’ time? What’s your dream for your readers, for your audience? Describe that change. Very powerful to understand that change. It should inform everything else that you do. It should inform the content you create, the product you create, the way you engage with people. Get crystal clear on that change.

Digital Photography School, my main blog, the change is very simple. I want people to get out of automatic mode on their cameras and to have full creative control of their cameras. Most people use their cameras in full automatic mode but they don’t know the full potential of their cameras so I want to give them creative control of their camera. That’s a very simple change. I talked to a parenting blogger the other day. She was starting a whole membership site for parents. I got her to do this exercise. We were both in tears by the end of it because she described desperate families who couldn’t communicate, who are angry and dysfunctional and then she described the most amazing families that you could ever imagine.

What a change she is bringing. By understanding that change, she suddenly had ideas for content. She suddenly had ideas for products. She suddenly had ideas for what her community could be through this exercise, very, very powerful thing to do. Essentially, what you’re doing is creating a before and after avatar for your audience.

Number three thing I want to talk about is three phases of creating content. Most people have a content creation process that was like my one used to be. You sit down and you think, “Shit, what am I going to write today?” Has anyone had that moment? You spend the next two hours working out what you’re going to write about. And then you write it and then you bang, publish, and it goes out. That’s the way I used to publish content. It was thoughtless, it was sporadic, and I’ve very rarely built momentum from one piece of content to the next.

Great blogs take their readers on a journey. Great podcasts take their readers on a journey. They build momentum over time. They’re thoughtful. They’re consistent and they do build momentum. Have a think about those words. They don’t just happen. You need to be intentional about the kind of content that you create. I want to encourage you to be intentional in three areas of your content creation. I’m going to dig deeper into each of these.

The first one is idea generation. Most bloggers kind of understand they need to come up with good ideas to write about but most bloggers do it in the moment that they’re creating the content itself. I want you to consider doing that ahead of time.

Secondly, the content creation. First, most of us understand we need to put time aside for that. Here’s the one I think most people could lift their game in. That’s the completion of their content. Most bloggers I come across either have a whole heap of drafts that they’ve never published. I had 90 at one point on the ProBlogger back end, or they publish content that could be a whole heap better, that they could be completing better. I want to give you some tips in each of these three areas as the next three points of my presentation.

But before I do, I want to encourage you to put time aside for this. One of the things I loved in one of the earlier presentations was about separating your tasks out. James shared his weekly schedule before. I’ve got a little way to go to clear mine but this is how I structure most of my weeks. You’ll get these slides later and you can look a little more deeply into it. I put time aside. Every week, I make an appointment with myself every week to come up with ideas. It happens on Friday morning. I spend half an hour on it. That’s all. Half an hour and I brainstorm by myself.

Then my team shows up for the meeting and I share what my ideas are and they tell me which ones are good and which ones aren’t. They develop them a little bit further. We probably spend about 45 minutes in total on ideas and that type of thing. Friday afternoons, I spend time planning the content I’m creating next week. I find really useful on a Monday morning when I look ahead for creation of content, to know ahead of time what I’m going to create that morning. I don’t have to come up with the idea. It’s already come up with and I’ve already given myself the deadline of when it needs to be created by. Monday, Tuesday morning, I spend time creating. Whether that be blog post or podcast or webinars or whatever it might be.

In the afternoons, I’d spend time completing. That’s really important for me to do because that’s my natural tendency, is to publish half finished content. I just like to get it out there without really going to the next level and taking that content from being good to great. I want to show you how to do that in a moment.

The fourth thing I want to talk about is generating ideas. Really, I want you to return to this exercise. This is what I did in 2007 when I started Digital Photography School. I worked at this overall change I was trying to bring and then I decided to fill in the gaps. For you to take your audience from one point to the next, what needs to happen? What do they need to know? What mindshifts need to happen? What skills do they need to develop? What areas do they need to build their confidence in?

I started to fill in the gaps. Here are some of the things I came up with for my audience. They needed to learn about aperture, shutter speed and some of those technical things they needed to grow in their confidence. They needed to understand really basic skills of how to hold a camera. I came up with 207 things in this exercise. It took me a whole afternoon to do. I returned to it the next day, I came up with another 100 so right about 300 things that my readers needed to do to get from fully auto to creative control. That was my first two years content for the blog.

I turned that content, step by step, into cornerstone pieces of content that I gave away to my audience. I placed them in an order that would take my readers on a journey from being in fully automatic mode to having creative control of their cameras. These four pieces of content here were some of the first pieces of content that I wrote. I looked at the stats the other day. Each of those pieces of content has been read over two million times since I started.

To this day, it still gets thousands of people to each of these pieces of content. I’m constantly linking back to these cornerstone pieces of content. Every time I mention the word aperture, it links back to the aperture article. Every time I mention shutter speed, it links back to the shutter speed article. It’s because I mapped out the whole road map ahead of time that I knew with confidence that the end of those two years are the base of what I was wanting to teach.

Do that exercise. It’s very powerful. If you’re ever running out of ideas, again, think about the change you’re trying to bring and build a road map for your readers. Six more really quick tips on generating ideas. You need to keep a record of every question you’re very asked or every question you ask yourself, every problem you ever notice. Again, this is the thing I love about live streaming, Periscope, it’s the thing I love about webinars, coming to conferences. I’m constantly writing down the questions people ask me. If one person is asking them, other people are asking them too.

Set idea traps. This is so powerful. The best thing I ever did for coming up with ideas was to set up a survey. I did it on day three of Digital Photography School. When I set up an autoresponder, you sign up to our newsletter, two or three months after you’ve been getting these weekly newsletters, I send you an email saying, “Would you mind filling in a survey? It helps us to understand you better. It collects a little bit of demographical information about our audience but there’s an open ended question.

The open ended question reads something like, “Do you have any questions or problems you want us to write a blog post about?” It’s an optional question. We had about 200,000 or 300,000 people complete that survey since 2007. That’s a lot of data. About 50,000 of those people have asked a question in that survey. I never run out of things to write about because I just go to the SurveyMonkey and look at the latest questions that we’ve been asked. It also shows your audience that you are interested in answering that question.

Set idea traps. You can use surveys. Your Facebook updates every now and again. You can ask that same question. Is there something you’d like us to write about? I’ve come across a number of bloggers recently who set up Facebook groups and they run polls every week in their Facebook group to test five different ideas for articles that they’re thinking about writing and they get their Facebook group members to vote on which one they want them to write a piece of content about.

Set up these little traps to collect ideas. You should be monitoring every blog post you write, every tweet you put out to collect those questions. If you don’t have people reading your blog yet, and leaving comments, head to someone else’s blog and look for the questions. Someone who’s a bigger blogger in your niche. YouTube is the best place ever to come up with questions. The comments left on YouTube clips in your industry will give you ideas for blog posts.

Forums also, we used to run a forum on Digital Photography School. It was amazing how many people would set up an account and I never post one thing. It was almost always a question. People joined forums to ask questions so you need to sit in those places and collect those sorts of questions.

And then find a brainstorming buddy. I don’t know if you’ve got these but one of the best things I did when I started ProBlogger was to commit with two other bloggers in my niche to throw out ideas at each other and to give each other ideas to write about. We became writing buddies.

The last thing, this is something that’s very simple to do particularly if you’ve been blogging or podcasting for a year or two, is to look back on your archives and ask yourself the question, how could I extend that old post or repurpose it or update it in some way? I actually do this everyday. Everyday, I look back at what I published this day last year and this day the year before on this same date. I actually go back through the archives all the years that I’ve been writing, every single day, to ask myself the question is that post still relevant? Could I update it? Could I repurpose that content in some way?

That’s where most of my podcasts, for the first year of my podcasting, have come from. Just looking back at the blog post that I’ve written and repurposing them and updating them.

Number five, I want to talk about creating content. Five really quick tips on this, firstly, write to your avatar or write to people that you actually know who are readers. My best blog post almost always start out as an email, a question from a reader or a conversation that I had at a conference or something that happens on Periscope. I write with the person in mind and my content comes out more personal.

It’s amazing how many people come out and say, “I feel like you’re writing to me. Did someone tell you about me?” It’s usually because I know someone like them and I’m writing in a more personal way. Write to your avatar and consider a blogging template. If you’re stuck in your writing, sometimes, it can help to get out of that stuck place by creating a template.

This is a template that Michael Hyatt came up with. I really didn’t like this idea when I first came across it. He follows the same template in almost every post he writes. I was like, “I’d never do that.” And then I start thinking about my own writing and I realize I pretty much do the same thing without actually having a template. Most of us develop a style of writing so if you’re stuck, maybe look back at some of your old post and work out what your template is or maybe steal someone else’s like Michael’s. He’s put it up and you’ll get a link to that in a moment.

I tend to back track my content. I’d much prefer to sit down from morning and write three or four blog post than to sit down four morning and write four blog post. I’m very much about batching what I do with my time. I set deadlines. We use a tool called CoSchedule, which is a WordPress plugin. It helps us to map out our content plan for a month, sometimes two or three months in advance and to assign tasks. We work as a team. I know what I have to write at certain times and then I may have to pass it over to Stacey who edits my content for me.

I’m a really big believer also that if you want to create great content, you need to consume it. This is something that I fell short on for a couple of years. It’s only more recently that I’ve started to re-consume content. Sometimes, it’s very easy to get very busy and not fill your own cup. I think consuming great content, one, is good because you will learn more but two, you will also pick up production ideas.

I’ve started listening to podcasts recently. Most of which have nothing to do with what I write about but I always come away from those podcasts with ideas from my own show.

I want to talk about completing content. This is a big area that I think most content creators could up their game in. Firstly, get help if you can afford it. This is Stacey and Darlene who edits my blogs for me now. Since giving this to someone else to do, we’ve produced a lot more content and a lot better content. If you can afford to get someone in to help read your content out loud, it’s amazing how many mistakes you’ll find. I find it particularly good if you’re reading it out loud to another person.

If I’ve got an important piece of content, I’ll ask my wife Vanessa listen to it as I read it to her. I know she’s not really listening but just the fact that she might be helps me to pick out all the mistakes that I would’ve been making.

This is something I think we all could lift our game in and it’s in polishing and making your content more visually pleasing and easier to consume. We don’t publish a blog post, we don’t publish show notes anymore without an image. Every post has to have at least one. Most of our posts have several images.

That’s not just because I’ve got a photography site, that’s also on ProBlogger, we’ve tested it. The post that have images get read at least 40% more than the post that don’t have images. The same with all of our social media now. Almost every tweet I do now has to have an image in it. They get retweeted significantly higher. They get more responses to them. It just works. You just have to have an image of some kind. Whether it be a diagram or a chart. Over time, you get to see which images are working well as well.

Spend time crafting those titles. The title is going to be pretty much what determines whether someone reads the opening line of your post. And then your opening line needs to be something you really need to polish as well. These are two places that I’m spending a lot of time in my content. I usually write my content first and then come back to the title and the opening line and then craft those and spend significant time on those areas.

Pay attention to your formatting, particularly your headline. It’s really important as well. People do not read content online. They scan it first and so if you can use headlines to tease them, they will then want to go back and fill in the gaps between the headlines. So really pay attention to that. Draw their eye down the page with images as well at key points, anywhere you want them to look.

Add depth to your content. Every time I go to Hit Publish, just before I do, I always ask myself and I’ve trained my team to ask themselves, could they add more meat to it? Could they make it a better post in some way? Maybe by adding in an example, maybe by telling a story or using an analogy, maybe by adding an opinion. It’s amazing how many blog posts go out about new technology and they have no opinion. It’s just here are the specifications of the new MacBook Pro and here’s a picture. That’s it.

Tell us why we should buy it. Whether it’s any good, who would be applicable for it, add your opinion. This is what makes your content unique. People aren’t reading your content for specifications. They want to know what you think. That’s what gets the conversation going as well.

Suggest further reading. We have good SEO benefits mentioned this morning about having links to your own content but also links out to other people’s content. It shows your audience that there’s more to do, there’s more to learn and that you know where to find that. That’s good for you own credibility. Also, it builds relationships with other sites when you’re linking to them as well.

Add quotes. It’s so easy to tweet someone and say, “Do you have any thoughts on this?” And then embed that tweet reply into your content. I email Seth Godin all the time. He didn’t know me from anywhere but he almost always responds to those sorts of emails. “Do you have one line to say about this topic? Thanks Seth.” I’ll borrow your authority and I’ll plug that into my content. It makes my content more useful and adds another opinion, another voice and shows your readers that you’re going to the extra mile in gathering different opinion for them.

Suggest something for your readers to go and do. This adds depth. I’ll show you some examples of how we do this on Digital Photography School. This is something that is just so easy to do. It’s so easy to embed something else. We again heard good SEO reasons for doing that. If you can keep people on the page longer, it helps your SEO ranking, also makes your content better. Just look at all the places you can get embeddable content these days.

We all know you can embed YouTube clips. That’s easy to do. Just do a search for your topic and find a video that related to what you’ve got to say. But there are so many other places you can get embeddable content. I judged a blogging competition for social media examiner recently and the blogs that won all used embeddable content. They mixed it up. They were embedding tweets. They were embedding Facebook page status updates. They were embedding videos. They were embedding audio clips. This new tool that I mentioned before, Anchor, you can embed that anchors that you create and the anchors that other people create as well. Give your readers different things to do while they’re on your site. It’s so easy to do.

Mix up your content. I was talking to a restaurateur down in Melbourne, a very well known one recently who’s had a top level restaurant now for 10 years. I was quite amazed when I heard that he’d been going for 10 years. He’s been at the top of the game for 10 years. I was like, “This game of having a restaurant, it’s very fickle. There’s always the new cool place down the road that everyone’s rushing off to.” I asked him, “How do you keep at the top of the game?” He said, “Basically, I reinvent myself every year. Sometimes two times a year.” He’s had four fit outs in that time. He reinvents his menu every year, several times. He actually does it seasonally. He’s always reinventing things.

The people who have come to this restaurant know what they’re going to get. They know the sort of the food that he has. They know the level of service. But he’s always constantly experimenting with new things. I think this is really true in this place, in this time where so much content are being created. There’s always new sites springing up.

Your readers need to understand that quality is always going to be high and the type of stuff you’re talking about is going to be consistent. But you need to mix up the type of content that you’re producing. I want to encourage you to do it in a number of ways. One is to produce content that has different styles to it. This is what I say to my team, “Every week, I want you to create content that informs, inspires, and interacts.” If you look at each of those blog posts that I’ve got up there, they’re all on exactly the same topic. Long exposure photography.

We publish the first one on Monday. It’s information. It’s a meaty article, a tutorial. To be honest, hardly anyone reads it on Monday. You know when they read it? They read it on Wednesday, after we publish an inspirational post and we link back to it. The inspirational post is 15 beautiful photos that we’ve curated. That post has hardly any text at all. It’s all about showing what could be. It’s all about showing our readers the type of photos they could take. It gives them a reason to go and read the tutorial. Inspire them and then drive them to the information.

At the end of the week, on Friday, Saturday, we give them a challenge. We say, “Go and take a photo using the technique you learned on Monday, looking at the photos that you saw on Wednesday. Go and try it for yourself and come back and share the photo with us.” We use Discuss as a communing tool, which allows embedding of photos in the comments. This really works. Both of those posts drive traffic back to the informational posts. We got extra paid views as a result of it.

The best thing though is that our readers actually learn something because they learn information, they’re inspired to use the information. They’re given a chance to implement what they learn. We all know that people learn best when they do. Inform, inspire, interact. 90% of our content is information but we sprinkle it. We season it with inspiration and interaction.

Another way to mix up your content is to try different formats. You’ll find over time that your audience will respond best to certain types of content and we’ve certainly worked out that information content is our best, we use a lot of guides, how to’s, tips, tutorials but we sprinkle it with stories.

Storytelling is another way of inspiring and some of our best posts have been more inspirational content telling stories. But there’s a whole list of different types of content that you need to constantly be experimenting and seeing what’s working with your audience. The same with different mediums.

For us, blog posts have been a big part of it. But more recently, I’ve started to get into more visual content particularly through our social media, infographics, and cheat sheets have really been working very well for us lately and live streaming as I said before. Actually, what I’m finding is live streaming so Periscoping everyday is driving people to my podcast and the podcast is driving people to the blog for some reason. That seems to be the flow of our readers. Just experiment with where you can meet new readers and where you can take them as a result of that.

I want to talk for a moment about this idea of know, like, and trust that opened this quite before. People do business with people that they know, like, and trust. So if you want people to do business with you, you want them to know, like, and trust you. How do you create content that takes them through this process? It will be different for everyone of us but I want to show some examples of what we do. This is an infographic. We didn’t actually create it. We curated it. We always link back to the source.

We find that infographics work very well as a first point of contact with our audience on Digital Photography School. Our audience share these like crazy. They can’t get enough of them. That’s good at getting known. People share that kind of content. But in and of itself, that doesn’t really help because people generally would bounce away from an infographic very quickly. What we do and you can see that underneath a highlighter, that we have further reading based on that infographic.

We used to just post the infographic and that was great for traffic, getting the eyeball. But since we started giving further readings that relates to that infographic, we’ve seen a lot more stickiness to the sight so highlight and underneath it, you can’t read it. It’s three articles on how to hold a camera, which is exactly what the infographic is about. We give them a meatier piece of content. That’s the content that people like. They begin to not only see you and know you. They begin to like you and trust you.

Underneath that, we have other articles for beginners because this is a topic that’s very beginner-y. But we can’t post infographics all day everyday. We have to go to the next level. You have to start asking yourself, what’s going to take people to the next level of liking us? Again, this is where we have more of our inspirational content. This is where storytelling is very powerful. Content that’s going to make people grow in their desire, in inspiration and motivation. Sprinkle that type of content.

But again, you’ll see there, I’ve highlighted links further into the sight. We’re always trying to get people to the content which helps them to trust us. That helps them to build credibility and authority for us. This is another type of content that helps likeability. It’s any kind of interactional. This is one of our challenges. We do them every weekend. Here is something for you to go away and do. Show us your work. People like to show off. People like to talk. We give them an opportunity to do that. That gives them a sense of belonging.

And then trust. These are meaty articles. That post there on the right, The Ultimate Guide To Learning How To Use Your First Digital SLR is like 6,000 words long. That’s a big piece of content but it grows authority. We’ve actually found that long form content is outperforming anything else on the sight at the moment. I don’t know if you can see that but that post has been shared over 149,000 times. It took a lot of work to get that piece of content together but it’s paying off because not only is it being shared, it’s growing trust. It’s growing credibility.

That piece of content, we tracked it, is responsible for a lot of people buying our ebooks than buying our products as a result of that. Okay, we know, like and trust. What about buy? Because we all want the sale, eventually. How do you actually get them to buy? What we’ve found is that our blog posts are not a very good place to get the buy. For our audience, it just doesn’t work at all. We actually tracked this ebook that we launched last year. It was responsible for about 5% of our sales, our blog content.

We just don’t sell blog content anymore. We sell for our email list. We’ve got an email list of about 800,000 now and it drives almost all of our sales. Social media just doesn’t convert for us at all. We don’t use social media or our blogging content, or even the podcast to sell. We use it to drive people to our newsletter.

This is what most people do on their blogs. They have their blog and then they have a sight wide opt in on the side bar. Get our cheat sheet or get our ebook, whatever it might be. This works, this is good but what’s even better is to have multiple opt ins. One of the trends we noticed last year was a lot of blogs now are using a library of opt ins and they’re matching the opt in that relates best to a certain category of content.

What’s happening even more this year, this is another shift that I’ve noticed is that cool kids are now creating opt ins for every blog post that they do or every podcast that they do. I think James mentioned or alluded to this earlier. This is what Amy Porterfield did. She interviewed me for her podcast a few months ago and she said to me, “Can I take three of your best articles from the blog, put them into a PDF, and then add some of my own thoughts to it? She created a very simple opt in for that podcast. She wouldn’t be promoting it anywhere else except for that episode.

This is what RazorSocial are doing in Cleary. He actually gives anyone who comes to his blog a PDF version of every blog post. You can just download a PDF version of the blog post but it’s behind an opt in. It’s converting really well for him. It’s a very easy way to create an opt in.

This is Jill from Screw the 9 to 5. They’ve started creating checklists or swipe files the relate to blog posts. They don’t do it for every blog post but certainly the ones that are meatier, the longer form content. They’re adding blog-post specific opt ins to them. I think we’ll see that just well a lot more and more in the next 12 months.

Talking about content events, as I look back over the last 12 years of my own blogging journey, I quite often live in Google Ad Analytics and I love just to look at what happens when there’s spikes in traffic came, just a good habit to get into. I noticed recently that a lot of the spikes in traffic in my site have happened around events or content events.

The first one was back in 2005 on ProBlogger. I was sitting in bed one night at 2:00AM and I had this little idea for a 31 day series of content on the blog. I was going to give a little bit of teaching everyday and then a little activity to go and do for my readers. I couldn’t go to sleep so I got up and I just wrote this blog post and said, “I’m going to do this thing. I’m going to start it tomorrow and I’m going to call it 31 Days To Build A Better Blog.” Put no thought into that idea at all.

I had no idea what the 31 days were going to be. I think I may have had a couple of ideas and I just went to bed and I slept easy. I’ve got it out of me. Put the blog post up, woke up the next morning, there was more comments on that post than I’ve ever had on a post before. I was like, “Okay, what’s day one going to be?” Quickly, I came up with day one and it started this little series of content over the first 31 days.

Traffic was two or three times higher that month than I’ve ever seen before. I was like, “What is going on here?” Essentially, I was doing the same thing I was doing every other day. But because I called it something and ran it over a defined period, people wanted to join it. There was a sense of an event happening and people like to join events.

I did the same series in 2007. This time I put an opt in around it. I said you can get an email every day and essentially, it was the same thing, almost exactly the same content. It was two or three times bigger than the first year. I did it in 2009 again and this time, we had a little community area. Today, I’d probably use a Facebook group or something like that. People really responded well in not only getting the content and the task, but coming together and sharing their knowledge.

This event idea really took off. At the end of 2009, my readers said, “Could you give us this in a PDF or an ebook? We’ll even pay you for it.” I was like, “No, you won’t.” They were like, “Yeah, we will.” I put it into a PDF and I created 31 Days To Build A Better Blog, The ebook. 12,000 people bought in the first three weeks after launching it, at $20 each. I’m like, “What in the world happened?”

Events are very powerful. People like to join things. Any sort of a defined period is a very powerful thing. I’m going to let you work through this slide later when you get it but there’s a whole heap of benefits of doing an event. I was going to say I think it’s about joining. It’s about something social. It’s about doing something together, achieving something together that can be very powerful to do.

Here are a few examples. This is my wife. She does events. She actually did her first event two weeks into her first blog. She had no one reading her blog at all. I think there was like 10 readers. By the end of that week, she had 200 readers a day because she did this event. It was just a very simple event. She told her readers to take a photo of themselves wearing a certain color everyday for a week and post in on Instagram with a hashtag. It went crazy. She does these events now every three or so months and every time, it significantly increases her traffic.

This is one around fitness. You can do this in pretty much any niche. This is one around organizing your pantry of all things, an event that this blogger did. She had thousands of people to the pantry challenge together. This is a 52 weeks event on finances and saving up money. You can really do it in lots of ways. If you’ve ever been to Bali, this is the braiding your hair challenge. Literally, Kristina did. She does 30 days of braiding your hair and she turned it into an ebook at the end of it.

People joined in and then she used that as the launch of her new product. Any kind of an event worked really well. Again, I’ll let you read through those. I don’t like bullet points but I thought it would be a quick way of getting the information to you and allow me to get on to my last two points.

This is the biggest challenge I think, for us as content creators today. How do you differentiate yourself? We live in a time where, I think I saw the stats the other day, there’s around 74 million plus blogs on wordpress.com. That’s just the wordpress.com version and there’s the wordpress.org version, which is even more popular, then there’s Tumblr and Blogger. There’s so much content being created all the time. Looking at podcasts, app store, there’s so many podcast out there. There’s so much content being produced.

It’s probably one of the most important things that we need to really get our heads around as content creators. How do we stand out? Seven quick tips to do it. Firstly, and this is the hardest one. It’s almost impossible to choose a unique topic but it still is kind of possible. Firstly, you could be first and it was helpful to be one of the first people talking about blogging and making money from blogging. But this is pretty much impossible. There’s 1,000 blogs on almost every topic you can think about.

But you can be the first one to combine two topics together. This is Manolo, the shoe blogger. He started blogging in 2007 and there were thousands of blogs on shoes already back in 2007. But he was the first person to blog about celebrities and their shoes. He went viral. He went crazy. He was the first one to bring two topics together.

This is Jen and Jadah from Simple Green Smoothies. Jada spoke at our event last year. She told the story about how she had I think four or five different blogs, none of them worked whatsoever until she noticed Green Smoothies starting to take off. And so she started Simple Green Smoothies. They have hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers, hundreds of thousands of readers to their blog. They built a massive business around Simple Green Smoothies.

This is Donna Moritz, some of you will know, she’s an Aussie blogger. She had a social media blog as did thousands of other people. It was pretty much the same content, talking about all things social media. And then she noticed visual content was starting to grow and become more important. She noticed the post that she was writing on visual content started to really take off so she killed all her other posts and just focused on visual content. Jumped on that emerging trend.

Serve and ignore demographic. I think this is a very powerful thing because yes, there is a blog on every topic out there but there’s a whole heap of ignored demographics. Has anyone come across Nerd Fitness? This is a great blog if you’re a nerd. There’s tens of thousands of fitness blogs out there but they all look the same. They’ve all got chiselled guys with six packs on the front and they all speak in the same language that I have no idea what they’re talking about.

Steve Kamb decided to start a fitness blog for nerds. He gamified getting fit. Nerds want to get fit too but we’ve been ignored, we’ve been left out of that whole thing. Did I say we? Yeah. This is a great example of serving and ignoring. He’s really presenting the same information. He just changes the language and he’s branding it in a way that is relevant for the ignored niche.

There are all kinds of ignored niche, whether it be gender, disability, life circumstances, age that you are. I came across a few bloggers recently who’ve been creating blogs for seniors and retirees, who have felt left out of certain niches as well. There are all kind of ignored demographics.

Use a different medium or format. A lot of you read The Verge. When The Verge started, almost every tech blog had been successful the nerd, The Verge was using short form content. Engadget, Gizmodo, TechCrunch, they were publishing 10 to 20, sometimes 30 or 40 blog posts a day and they were almost all one or two paragraphs long The Verge came out now publishing 4,000, 5,000 word articles.

They stood out because they changed the format. This is Brian Fanzo. He was a social media expert as were thousands of other people but he spotted this live streaming trend going on and so he now is flying around the world talking about live streaming and he’s made a name for himself because he chained the medium that he was using to talk about the same topics.

Publish in a different pace. Everyone here probably knows John Lee Dumas. There are lots of entrepreneurial blogs out there but no one was doing daily. I don’t know how he does it. I don’t know how he keeps us but he changed the pace of publishing content. As a result, that’s one of the reasons that he stood out.

This is Dosh Dosh, a blog that was around years ago now. He started I think in 2007. It was a blog about making money blogging. This is three years after ProBlogger started and by this stage, there were thousands of blogs on how to make money from blogging, Macky from Dosh Dosh decided to slow it down. He didn’t go faster. He went slower and longer form. He was publishing at one stage, one piece of content every month. It was long, meaty content that everyone anticipated. When he published that post, it got shared like crazy. Macky’s down at it again. You’ve got to get his latest post that would take you a week to read it and implement the content. It was so meaty but he slowed it right down. It became a part of his brand. Now, he’s disappeared and no one knows where he went.

Right for a different level of expertise, this is what I did with Digital Photography School. There were thousands of blogs for photographers in 2007 when I started. It was a stupid topic, it was too late. Digital photography has been around forever. But most of those blogs have been writing for experts. Most of those blogs had this culture on them. If you turned up and asked a beginner question, you would get laughed out of the comment section.

It wasn’t because the bloggers themselves didn’t like beginners. It was because the audience had all grown up and become intermediate and advanced users. I started a blog for beginners. One of my first articles was how to hold a camera. The most basic thing you could think of. I almost didn’t publish it because it was so basic. I was embarrassed to publish the post. It’s now had over 800,000 people view the post.

People need that kind of information. That’s the kind of information that they’re too embarrassed to ask their friends. Those serve a different level of expertise.

Lastly, I want to talk about refining your voice. Something is really hard to teach on. How do you develop your voice? Partly, it comes from experimentation but it’s something that you can make some choices around as well.

Some of you might know Jeff Goins. He’s a blogger about writing and he’s written some great books. He says you can write in any of these five voices on pretty much any topic, any niche. The professor is someone who researches, who pretty much spends their whole life dedicating to learning about a particular topic and then they present a hypothesis and they really teach at a high level about a topic.

The artist is someone who’s not really interested in teaching, they’re just interested in beauty and aesthetics and inspiration. They’re looking for the beauty in a topic and you can probably think of bloggers who do that or podcasters. But I don’t really teach you anything but you just come away from it feeling motivated and inspired.

The prophet is someone who’s interested in telling you the truth. The cold, hard, ugly truth. They bust myths, sometimes they’re not that popular but you know they’ll tell it like it is. Sometimes, they’re not that sensitive in their language that they use but they just get to the point. I reckon someone in this room might be a prophet.

The journalist is someone who curates. They gather information from different sources and then presents that information as a story.

The celebrity isn’t someone who’s famous. They’re someone who’s charismatic. It’s more about the person and what they think about a topic or how they live their life, their personality, that’s big in that particular topic.

Jeff argues that you can pretty much take any of these or a combination of these as your voice. I reckon you could add a couple of more at least. You can be the companion. You can be the person who journeys with someone, who may be just a step ahead of them in the journey. You can be the mentor. You can be the entertainer and talk about the funny stuff that’s going on in an industry or niche. You can be the reviewer. You can be the curator. You can be the storyteller, the guide, the teacher, the thought leader or something else.

The more you do it, the better you’ll work out what your voice is and really, I would suggest that you look around at what everyone else is doing and try and find the gaps in that as well. It needs to be who you are and it’s hard to write in a voice that you’re not. But if you can find a gap that reflects who you are, that’s a very powerful thing.

Again, when I started Digital Photography School, I wanted to teach, I wanted to give people a how to, but I didn’t want to be a professor. There were plenty of them already so I decided to be the companion. I decided to be someone who’s like here’s what I learned, try this. I’ll be a friend who teaches you. Think about your voice.

The last thing I want to say, I’ve got a few minutes left to say it. I don’t need them, is to keep moving. This is just a general piece of advice I guess, for entrepreneurs. You’ve got to keep moving. Pay attention to the little ideas you get that keep you awake at night like I paid attention to, back in 2005, when I couldn’t sleep at night. And don’t just pay attention to those ideas, do something with them. Get up out of bed and write a blog post. Put it out there. See what happens. Look for the sparks that energize you and then test those sparks and look to see what happens. Look for the sparks that energize other people.

When I put that blog post out there about 31 days to build a better blog, I didn’t know what would happen but I followed the energy. I saw that my readers were responding and so I went with it. I went hard at it. And then I repeated it and I evolved it. And then I repeated it and I evolved it again. Now, I turned into the product.

You know what? The best thing, yes all those sales of that book, I think I looked a couple of weeks ago and we sold 60,000 copies of that book now. It’s going to be a profitable venture. I’m really glad I paid attention to that spark of energy and did something with it at 2:00AM that night. It also led to a whole other journey. Whilst ebooks may not be the best model, maybe we need to all move towards subscriptions, I don’t know, but ebooks and paying attention to that spark was something that really was powerful for me. I’d spend on a whole heap of other product ideas that I’ve created since.

We’ve now published about 40 ebooks. We’ve now sold almost half a million ebooks since 2009 when I first created that first one. It’s opened up this whole new way of doing things. I put it all back to the fact that I paid attention to a spark of energy and I enacted, I kept moving.

I love this little quote from Jadah Sellner that I’ll leave you with. “Take imperfect action.” It’s very easy to come to a conference like this and be overwhelmed by the people on the stage, telling you their stories of all the things that they’ve done and looking around you at the room and all the other people taking notes about the things they’re going to enact in hearing these stories. The thing that you’ve got to realize is that none of us really know what we’re doing and we’re all just taking imperfect actions and seeing what happens as a result of that.

There are plenty of failures that we all have along the way but somewhere in the midst of the things that we do comes life and comes profit. That’s all I’ve got to say today. Thank you for the time.

I hope you enjoyed that talk. I do recommend the Superfast Business conference. James Schramko also has a podcast. If you do a search for Superfast Business, you’ll find him. He’s a very smart, straight talking kind of guy. Another Aussie accent to add to your playlist if you’re not from Australia or if you are as well.

Thanks for listening. Don’t forget to join the Facebook group, problogger.com/group.

As promised at the top of the show, some further listening for you. If you want to listen to a podcast on how to choose a niche, go back to episode 59. If you want to hear a podcast about avatars and thinking about your audience, go back and listen to a really early one, episode 33. If you want to dig into that exercise for thinking about how to change your audience’s life, go back even further to episode 11. That was part of our 31 day series. If you want to dig into more about how to come up with great ideas to create content, go and listen to episode 84, which was a part of a series that I did. It was followed up on episode 86 on how to create content. I really dig into some strategies for thinking about how to get into the habit of creating good content. Episode 87 was also about completing content, finishing things off.

Lastly, if you want to learn more about embeddable content, I’d go a lot deeper into that topic in episode 152. There’s lots more in the ProBlogger archives there so dig around and if you do want to get those links, go over to the show notes, which are at problogger.com/podcast/213.

Lastly, thanks so much for those of you who left reviews over the last week in iTunes and other podcasting apps. I am loving those reviews and a few good ones came in this week as well.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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How to Harness Your Personality and Become a Better Blogger

Understand your personality to blog better

This post comes to us courtesy of ProBlogger psychology expert Ellen Jackson

Are you a scheduler? Or do you publish as you write?

Do you delegate? Or is your need for the nitty-gritty too great?

I’d love to be the writer with the annual content calendar, or the leader who entrusts my big ideas to others. I’ve filled a thousand spreadsheets with good intentions, only to find them languishing and incomplete months later. I’ve dabbled with VAs, and had my control freak tendencies laid bare.

It took a while, but I’ve learned that I’m wired to work the way I work best. Other people’s systems and successes may seem appealing, but unless they fit in with my modus operandi I’m trying to fit square pegs in round holes.

Personality is what makes you, you.

In psychology, your personality is defined as ‘the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character’. It describes who you are, and what makes you, you.

It also shapes the way you work.

Think of your personality as your unique operating system. It’s the software that manages your thoughts and behaviour. It directs your energy and attention, and defines which systems, processes, people and environments are most compatible with you.

When your operating system fits your work and work environment, tasks are seamless. Sit me in a café with a notebook and pen and ask me to generate fifty ideas, and I’m a machine. Sit me at a desk with a spreadsheet and ask me to fill in the boxes and you’ll be tearing your hair out at my slowness and ineptitude.

How well your personality matches your tasks, team and goals is often the missing link between overwhelming frustration and intense productivity. When we have insight into our unique operating system, we can create the interface we need with our world to make work easy and fun instead of being filled with stress, bugs and crashes.

Understanding your personality

While there are many ways to describe personality, today’s experts believe there are five broad, basic dimensions known as the ‘Big 5’ personality traits. Unlike models such as Myers-Briggs or DISC that assign people to ‘types’, the Big 5 depicts personality as five spectra:

  1. Openness to experience
  2. Conscientiousness
  3. Extraversion
  4. Agreeableness
  5. Neuroticism

We all exist as a dot somewhere between the two extremes of each dimension. And those billions of dots represent billions of wonderfully unique, complex people.

You can get an insight into your personality through online questionnaires such as the Truity Big Five personality assessment. They’re quick, reliable, and give you a detailed report that includes your score and description for each dimension.

You can also uncover your personality type with a little introspection and a guide like the one I’ll share with you now.

Which of the following best describe you?

Openness to experience

High: People at the ‘high’ end of openness like venturing outside their comfort zone. If this is you then you love novel experiences, variety, and coming up with new ideas. You might be described by others as imaginative, insightful, curious, creative, or even intellectual.

You love the creative side of blogging and business, but the routine and repetition of everyday tasks bores you to tears. Scheduling is tedious, and you don’t have the patience for spreadsheets. You are an ideas person who struggles with following through.

Low: If you’re at the ‘Low’ end of the openness dimension you enjoy routine. You stick to what you know, and you do it well. You’re practical, down to earth, and happy doing the same task time and time again. That’s how you get so good at it.

Conscientiousness

High: Highly conscientious people are persistent, self-disciplined, reliable and persevering.

If this is you then you’re organised, you work within the rules, and you excel at delaying gratification.

Getting the job done is never a problem for you, but you may turn yourself inside out getting it done. (Stress head alert!)

Low: Are you a major procrastinator? A little bit flighty? Impetuous and impulsive? If you are, then you may be sitting at the other end of the conscientiousness scale. You’re fun and spontaneous, but find it hard to actually get the job done. (That whooshing sound was probably another deadline flying by.)

Extraversion

Chances are you’ll recognise this spectrum – extroversion at one end, introversion at the other.

High: If you’re high on extroversion you’re sociable, assertive, outgoing, talkative and socially confident. You’re the team player who wants to collaborate with everyone. You love your colleagues to bits, but you will never be left alone.

Low: At the low end of the extroversion scale you’ll find the introverts, although most of us sit somewhere in between. True introverts are quiet, introspective, reserved and thoughtful. They are people of few words but many thoughts. They’re writers, not networkers, and group work sends shivers down their spine.

Agreeableness

How are your people skills?

High: People high in agreeableness are trusting, patient, tactful, kind and considerate. If this is you then you’re well-liked, respected, and sensitive to other people’s needs.

You might blog to help and spread happiness. No cynics or ranters here.

Low: Not everyone likes to be liked. If you’re low on the agreeableness scale you’re happy on the edge of social acceptance. You can be rude, antagonistic, and maybe sarcastic. You’ll make enemies as well as friends, but you won’t care. You’re much better at saying “No” than your highly agreeable mates, and no-one will ever take advantage of you.

Neuroticism

If you Google it, you’ll see it defined as ‘mentally maladjusted’ – pretty harsh.

High: Those high on the neuroticism scale tend to be over-sensitive, nervous, anxious, self-critical and insecure. They’re also easily angered and temperamental. If this is you, then you might find yourself embroiled in regular battles – online and offline.

But there’s an interesting twist. Parts of your personality can interact with varying results. And if you’re high on neuroticism and conscientiousness, you may end up channeling your anxious energy for good. Healthy neurotics take action to address their worries rather that ponder and plot. If this is you, then you may actually have better health habits and greater motivation to succeed in all areas of life than your less conscientious counterparts.

Low: Finally we have our emotionally-stable peeps. They’re adventurous and unflappable. Unencumbered by worry or self-doubt, it’s hard to rattle them. They’ll try anything once, and no problem is too big. If this is you, then you’re optimistic, self-confident, reliably even-tempered, and will cope with any crisis that’s thrown.

3 Tips on Using Your Personality to Blog Better

Do you know where you sit on each of the Big Five dimensions? If you do, try these tips to work and blog better.

  1. Take note of the characteristics that make you great at what you do. These are your strengths, and you should use them as often as you can.
  2. Make a note of the characteristics making work difficult right now. Are you a creative type struggling to narrow yourself into a niche? Or perhaps you’re an extrovert weary from working alone. What can you change about the way you work to find a better match between who you are and how you work?
  3. Stop fighting your operating system. You work the way you work because that’s the way you’re wired. It’s who you are. Fighting your natural preferences is energy-sapping, and robs the world of your unique and fascinating contribution. Don’t let that happen. Go forth and be the crazy, exceptional individual you are. It will make your work (and your life) a lot easier.

Are you in tune with your personality? Have you figured out how you work best?

Photo credit:
Pablo Varela

The post How to Harness Your Personality and Become a Better Blogger appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

205: 5 Obstacles Bloggers Face (And How to Get Over Them)

How to Overcome 5 Blogger Obstacles

As I record this, I’m just home from our first ProBlogger event of the year in Brisbane and am preparing for our next one in the coming days in Melbourne.

The Brisbane event was really worthwhile. We heard from Pat Flynn, Jadah Sellner, James Schramko, Kelly Exeter, Shayne Tilley and Laney Galligan and had a couple of days of great teaching and inspiration – including a day with a small group masterminding their businesses.

overcome-5-blogger-obstacles

Each year at our events, I open the event with a keynote. This year I spoke about evolving your blog rather than getting into a ‘revolving’ pattern (or going in circles). I will share more on that topic on the podcast in the future but as we’re very much focused this week on our events and serving our attendees I wanted to give you another taste of what we do at our events and share with you the opening keynote from a previous year as this week’s episode.

I did this in the last episode too and got a lot of positive feedback and hope you’ll enjoy this one too. It’s from 4 years ago but I think it’s spot on in terms of a message for today too.

The bloggers interviewed on stage:

Further Listening and Reading on 5 Obstacles Bloggers Face (And How to Get Over Them)

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Darren:
Hey there, my name is Darren Rowse. I’m the blogger behind ProBlogger.com, a blog, podcast, some events, a job board, and a series of ebooks, all designed to help you as a blogger to grow your blog, to start it up, get content on it, build community with your audience and to make some money from it as well.

You can learn more about all we do at ProBlogger over at problogger.com. As I record this episode, episode 205, I’m just home from our first ProBlogger event of 2017. This year was in Brisbane, just in the last weekend. We’re getting ready for our next one, experimenting this year with two in two weeks. The second one will be in Melbourne. By the time this episode goes live, we will have that one as well.

Our Brisbane event was really worthwhile. I’m so excited about what we did this year. We heard from Pat Flynn, Jadah Sellner, James Schramko, Kelly Exeter, Shayne Tilley, Laney Galligan, and had a couple of really great days of teaching and inspiration, including a day with a small mastermind group. Really working through 40 or so blogger’s businesses.

Each year, at our events, I open the event with a keynote. This year, 2017’s event, I spoke about evolving your blog rather than getting into a revolving pattern. I guess the catch was to evolve, not revolve, because many times, we go in circles. I’m going to share more about that topic on this podcast in the future, another reason to subscribe if you haven’t already.

As we’re very much focused upon our real life events this particular week and serving our attendees who come along to that, this week in the episode in the podcast, I want to give you another taste of what we do at our events and share with you another opening keynote from a previous year, as this week’s episode. Now, I did this last week as well. If you haven’t listened to that back in episode 204, got a lot of positive feedback in the last few days about that one and so I hope you enjoy this one as well.

The one I’m about to play for you is from four years ago, 2013, but I think it’s spot on in terms of message for today. It’s one of the more evergreen ones that I’ve ever done. But, this one’s a little bit different. It’s different in two ways. Firstly, in this keynote, I went to a place I normally don’t go to in an opening talk. Normally, for an opening talk, you do something really positive, very constructive. In this one, I share some deeper stuff. I talked about some things that I knew going in could touch a nerve with some bloggers.

I was a little bit nervous about it, to be honest, because it goes to the heart of some things that I know many of us, and I’m talking about myself here, feel that holds us back in our blogging. I actually share in this episode five obstacles or roadblocks that bloggers face and then give some tips on how to overcome those hurdles, those challenges. In this particular keynote, I talk about feeling like you don’t have enough time to blog, we talked about feeling like you don’t have the skills that it takes, maybe you’re not technical enough.

In this one, we talked about fear. We talked about building something that’s sustainable or feeling like you’re not building something profitable and lastly, I talked about that trap that many of us fall into, the comparison game, where we look at what others are doing and compare ourselves to others.

This might all sound a little bit negative, but the result of this talk was pretty remarkable. This event was one of the most powerful ones that I’ve ever been to, all that I’ve held. People at this event, including our speakers and attendees, shared vulnerabilities and really went deep. As a result, we saw some really great results in the months afterwards.

The second thing that’s a bit different about this talk is that you’re not just going to hear my voice, we actually hear the voices of myself but also five other bloggers, five of our speakers in fact. Three of them, our international speakers, we had Amy Porterfield this year and you’ll hear from her in a moment. You’ll hear from Trey Ratcliff from Stuck In Customs, Tsh Oxenreider, and then two Aussie bloggers, Brooke McAlary, who you heard in previous on this podcast, and Phoebe Montague, a fashion blogger from Melbourne as well.

You’re going to hear me talk and then each of these are going to chime in as well, as I invite them onto the stage. If you want to follow along with the slides that I share for this talk, and I just summarized some of the points that I make in these slides, I’m uploading them to this week’s show notes. You can check them out over at problogger.com/podcast/205. I’ll also, on the show notes, link to some further listening and reading for you as well. We’ll link to each of the five bloggers that I interview because they’re all doing really remarkable things and I think are well worth checking out. Without further ado, I’m going to get into this keynote. I hope you enjoy it. I’ll wrap it up at the end to mention a couple of other things that you might like to go and listen to next.

This morning, I want to start by talking about the obstacles that we face as bloggers. It sounds like a bit of a downer to start off, thinking about the things that hold us back and the things that block our way. Thus, I reflected in the lead up to this event. I reflected on my own almost 11 years of blogging. Whilst there have been a lot of highs, there’s also been a lot of bumps in the road for me over that time.

Quite often when I come to a conference like this, either as a speaker or as an attendee, I start thinking about what will I talk to people about. A lot of the time, I think of the positive things that I want to share and the successes that I’ve had and kind of gloss over those hard things. But I want this conference this year to be a place where we talk about the good stuff, but also the challenges that we face. I want this to be a conference this year where we talk about our vulnerabilities, our anxieties, and really, are honest with each other, both as speakers, but also as attendees.

I guess I want to model that a little bit this morning by talking about some of my obstacles over the years because I think a lot of them are things that I know others face as well. I want you to think about answering this question. What is your number one obstacle that you’re facing at the moment as a blogger, whether you are 10 years into blogging, whether you’re just starting blogging, whether you haven’t even started a blog. Every year, we have pre bloggers come to ProBlogger as well. What obstacle are you facing at the moment as a blogger?

I want you to write it down. I want you to get your iPad out or your iPhone out, write in on your hand, wherever. I want you to write it down because I think by writing down these things, they become a little bit more crystallized in our mind. As you head into the next two days of teaching, I want this thing to be in the back of your mind. I want to inform the sessions you go to, the questions you ask speakers, the questions you ask fellow attendees, the conversations that you have.

Don’t just talk about the good things that are happening, the highs, but also, talk about these challenges. Quickly, just in a word or two, write it down. What is this challenge that you’re facing? What’s blocking your way at the moment? What’s holding you back at the moment? Just one thing would do. I know we’ve probably all got about 10, but what’s the number one thing for you?

Now, you’ve written it down, I want you to jump out of your comfort zone a little and turn to someone next to you and tell them. If it’s a highly personal thing, you don’t have to share at all. You got one sentence to say it so you don’t have to go into great detail. Just in one sentence, say what it is. Let the other person say what it is. You got one minute.

Please continue that conversation because it seemed important conversation. The way you’re going to breakthrough those barriers, you’ve just done part of it. I think by verbalizing it, by writing it down, you’re crystallizing it in your mind but you also may have just created an ally to help you to jump over that hurdle. I really encourage you to prolifically tell people about your problems at this conference. You have my permission to do that. That’s the kind of conference I want. I want us to be smashing through these barriers. That’s my aim for this conference.

What do you reckon the number one thing was that you just shared then? Anyone? Oh my gosh, time. I asked that question on our Facebook event page, if you haven’t found it, we’ve got one, and on Twitter the other day. The number one thing that came back was time. It was expressed in a whole heap of different ways, I don’t have enough time to blog. Life gets in the way. We all have other things and they’re important things in our life, like children, partners, friends, jobs, studies, hobbies, volunteering, and all kinds of other stuff that compete for our time.

We have distractions. As bloggers, we live in perhaps one of the most prolific place for distractions. How many times have you sat at the computer to write a blog post and just followed a link and end up watching about funny cats on YouTube. We’re just surrounded by them. Not only do we follow other people’s links, we create our own and just make other people distracted. This is just distractions all around us.

There are opportunities too. I was talking to a blogger the other day and she said to me, “I get invited to seven events every week.” Seven events every week so that’s one a day on average. They’re good things. They’re opportunities. They’re fun. Some of them could open up opportunities to earn an income. But if she went to them all, she’d have no time to actually blog. There are opportunities.

And then there are these demands that we put upon ourselves. And these expectations that we put upon ourselves. I have to post everyday. I have to tweet this many times. I have to be involved in these 42 social networks. There are all of these demands that we place upon ourselves as well, which crowd out our time.

I wish I had the answer for you on this front. I don’t. This is one of my big struggles. From the very day I started blogging to today, it’s been a juggling act for me. When I started blogging, I was working three part time jobs. I was working in an in flight catering kitchen, putting food on trays on a conveyor belt. That was one of my jobs. I was working in a warehouse. I was working in a church as a youth worker. I was also studying at the time as well.

So blogging for me was just something I did in between times. It was what I did in lunch breaks. I took a notebook everywhere. I was writing blog post ideas as I was putting orange juice on trays. It was somewhere feeding around the edges.

Within the first week of blogging, I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have half a day a week or a morning a week just to dedicate to blogging?” I was lucky enough about a year later when my blog started to make a bit of money to get to the point where I could put half a day a week into blogging. At that point, I thought to myself, “I can’t get it all done. I wish I could have two mornings a week.”

Gradually, over time, as my blog grew in income, I was able to dedicate more and more time. One day a week, two days a week, three days a week. A couple of years later, I was working 40 hours a week on my blog. It’s seems like an amazing luxury to have 40 hours a week but you know what, I couldn’t get it all done. I started working 50 hours a week and started saying up till 2:00AM or 3:00AM and getting up early in the morning. I’ve got to a point where it started to impact my health. I could see it started to impact my friendships because the only friends I have were my readers. I saw that it could have potential to impact family and other important things to me.

I guess the first thing I want to say about time is that there will always be more that you can do. You just need to come to a point of making peace with that. You’ll never get it all done. I’m sorry but you never will. There will always be another blog post you could write, another tweet you could do, another blog that you could read, another blogger that you could network with, another advertiser you could approach, another ebook that you could write, and the list goes on and on. I’m sorry if that depresses you but that’s the reality. You just gotta make peace with the fact that there will be things that you can’t do.

For me, changing that mind shift for me was probably the time I started to become more effective with my time, because I realized there was a limit of how much time I could put into blogging. I needed to be smart with the way that I used it. For me, probably knowing your goals is probably the thing that’s helped me the most with my time management.

By having a goal, something that I’m aiming for with my blogging, suddenly I’m able to filter out the distractions, suddenly I’m able to judge whether the opportunities are worthwhile opportunities to take. Is this opportunity going to take me towards my goal or take me away from it? By knowing my goals, I suddenly become more time efficient. Still challenges of distractions but it helps.

The other part about goals for me is I’ve noticed that if a goal is a meaningful goal to me, if it is significant to me in some way, I’m much more likely to be efficient with my time in doing that. About eight years ago, I had 30 blogs. I was trying to post to them all everyday. Ridiculous. Stupid. This is when I was working 60, 70 hours a week. It was just dumb. 28 of those blogs, I had no passion for, whatsoever. They meant nothing to me. I just thought they might be profitable.

I told you last year about one of them, my printer blog. A blog about printers. I hate printers. I was writing a post everyday about it. I struggled to dedicate the time to that blog. Of course it died because it didn’t matter to me. But ProBlogger is a blog that matters to me. It matters to me and thankfully, it matters to other people as well. Someone came up this morning and said ProBlogger helped them to grow an income for their family. Something that they never thought would happen. That means something to me. That’s exciting to me. That motivates me to keep on keepin on with that blog. It makes me much more disciplined with that blog as well.

Choose goals that are meaningful to you and others and I think that helps you to become more dedicated with what you’re doing. And then choose things that will move you towards those goals and spend 90% of your time doing those things. This is not rocket science but we need to hear it.

I was talking to a blogger recently and she told me that she just didn’t have enough time to blog. I said, “How much time do you have to blog?” She said, “30 hours a week.” I’m like, “That’s a fair bit of time. What are you doing with that time?” She said, “I don’t know. I’m doing stuff.” I’m like, “What do you do with that time?” I set out a task of noting down everything she did for a week. She set up a grid and she filled in every block, she wrote down what she was doing. She’s probably spent most of the week writing down what she was doing. But she got to the end of the week and I said, “Now, add it all up, the different activities, and work out what you’re doing to your time.” She was spending about 80% of her time on social media.

Then the question is is that taking you towards your goals or is it distracting you away from your goals? Social media, you could say it’s helping you reach your goals but there comes a point where it actually takes you away from your goals. She was confronted by this and she completely redid the way she uses her time. Now, she spends about 10% of her time on social media and she spends 90% of her time writing blog posts and doing things to monetize her blog and building community on her blog. She’s seen her blog take off by just changing the things that she’s doing and making them things that take her towards her goals.

You noticed I said there’s 10% left for you to become distracted. I actually think being distracted is a good thing. It lets your mind wind down and often, when I’m distracted, I get ideas as well. Let your mind have those moments to have fun and do those sorts of things. But this takes a bit of discipline as well.

Identify sticking points out there. I wrote a post on ProBlogger the other day, how over the last 11 years, I’ve had these different bouts of blogger’s block. It’s tough. I used to just call it blogger’s block but I what I’ve realized is there are different types of blogger’s block. For me, identifying exactly what the problem is, then unleashes me to flow in other areas.

For me, one of the things that I struggled with in 2006, 2007 on ProBlogger, was coming up with ideas to write about. I’ve been blogging for two and a half years on ProBlogger and I felt like I’d blogged everything there was to blog about blogging. I was blogging two or three posts a day. That’s a lot of posts. That’s a lot of topics covered.

I really struggled to come up with something new and fresh. I just thought I had blogger’s block but when I realized it was about idea generation, I decided what am I going to do about it, I found two friends and we spent a morning together. They were also going through the same issue. They had blogs on different topics. We just brainstormed together for a morning. They told me what to write about and I came up with almost 30 or 40 posts and so did they. We did it again for a full day. A couple of months later, I came up with hundreds of ideas.

By identifying the sticking point, I then released myself to actually write. Another sticking point I had was in creation of content. This is a more recent problem for me. About a year ago on ProBlogger, I just did not have time to write posts because the opportunities were starting to flow over, running this event, which kept growing. Sponsors wanted to talk. We were publishing ebooks. I’d hired some team members and I was managing them. I just wasn’t writing anything.

By identifying the sticking point, I was able to re-do how I use my time. And so I dedicate Monday and Wednesday mornings to write. I turn everything off, I don’t answer my phone, I work offline, and I just write. They’re my golden hours for writing content.

The other type of blogger’s block that I had was completing posts. Who’s got 30 or 40 posts half written? A year into writing ProBlogger, I had so many ideas to write about. It was fresh. It was new. It was exciting. The blog was going. At one point, I had 93 drafts in the backend of ProBlogger. I just would start a post and I’d get distracted and then start another post and then I’d never finish anything. Again, the sticking point was finishing posts and it was publishing posts and getting them ready to publish. And so I dedicated an hour every afternoon to polishing posts and getting them ready.

It’s not rocket science but for me, I guess it’s about identifying what is the point that’s holding you back and re jigging your time to dedicate some time to those sticking points. Those points will change over time for you as well so just be aware, where’s the blockage and how can I unleash that?

This morning I’m going to get five people up to talk about their challenges with these topics. I’m going to talk to you about five obstacles and I’m going to interview five people. Tsh. I’d like you to welcome Tsh. Many of you know Tsh runs a blog called Simple Mom. She’s from Oregon, although from Austin, Texas before that. She’s come like 36 hours to be here. Tsh, can you tell us a little bit about a time where you struggled with time and what you did about it.

Tsh: I’ve been blogging about five years and I would say all of that time is a struggle for time. When I started, I had a newborn and a two year old. My kids are now eight, five, and I also have a three year old. That, in itself, means I don’t have a lot of time. We also homeschool. I don’t know if that’s a thing in Australia. It just means I don’t have a lot of time.

                    What I have learned that really helps me a lot is to think about how I made, think about when I work best, what’s important to me in terms of more lifestyle and not so much on the blog. When I started thinking about such as I tend to think better in the morning. I’m a morning person. After 4:00PM, most of my writing is just crap. So I learned to okay, let’s take advantage of that time. I now wake up at about 5:30AM or so and write until about 7:30AM. I don’t get online at all. I just write.

My big fuel and my passion is the writing part of it so that’s where I want to spend most of my energy. I take advantage of that early morning hour or two hours when no one else is awake and it’s nice and quiet. Nobody needs me, for the most part, you got little kids so that still happens. I get most of my writing done before my family even wakes up. By breakfast time, I’ve already written. I feel that sense of accomplishment for my day that if everything else doesn’t happen, at least I’ve gotten something written.

By about 4:00PM, if I want to get more work done, it’s usually kind of the mindless tasks, the things I don’t need to spend as much energy on: editing photos, just the manual editing of posts, getting them scheduled, things like that. Taking advantage of my natural rhythm has helped me a ton. The hours you do spend blogging matter more for me.

The other thing I’ve realized, kind of what Darren was saying, the idea of never having enough time to do it all. Nobody ever says, “Well, I finished Twitter today so I guess I can move on.” It never stops. That’s the nature of the internet.

For me, it helped me a lot to realize that “no” really, a lot of times, means not now. It’s just not a good time for that project, that idea, that whatever it is now. I might be able to do it later but “no” is not necessarily an end to a dream, an end to an idea. It’s just means now is not a good time. That just mentally helps me, I guess, not feel so depressed about the whole never finishing the internet thing.

The last thing that really helps me is getting offline. That seems so counterintuitive because shouldn’t you be online more to get more done? But you know how you don’t feel like you need any clothes until you go to a store and you start seeing all the stuff and you’re like, “Oh, I could use that. I could use that.” It’s the same things in some ways being online. You don’t really think about all these things you want to do and get accomplished until you get online and you see all these other great things happening and all these other people to talk to.

Something about just being offline, being around 3D people, being outside in nature, all those things just cleared your head and you stop feeling that anxiety about time and the lack of it and needing to get everything done. Those are my main three things I do to stay sane and have enough time.

Darren: Lack of skills. I love Napoleon Dynamite. He’s the coolest. I must have watched that so many times. Skills, it’s hard when you start at blogging. I said all of those things that are on that list. That’s my list. I can’t write. I really didn’t really write very well, I still don’t think I write very well. I don’t know enough about social media. I didn’t know anything about blogging. I used the internet for research and email. That was pretty much all I did in the early days. I didn’t know about publishing. I didn’t know how to get a domain name, a design, or any of these sorts of things.

                    This is something I see a lot of bloggers really struggle with even though the tools have improved a lot. In the early days, you had to know how to code to do a lot of stuff and the tools have improved a lot. My wife started blogging three weeks ago, which is kind of fun. She’s coming this afternoon. Please be nice to her. It’s been interesting to be reminded of those things that you take for granted when you’ve been blogging for awhile, like aligning images and some of those sorts of things. She said all those things as well.

                    This can stop you in your tracks. It can stop you in your tracks at different times in your blogging as well. I’m still not taking enough. I still don’t think I can write well enough but I guess it’s about how do you breakthrough this sort of obstacle. My thoughts on this, again, you never know it all, you’ll never have enough time but you’ll also never know it all. No blogger that I know knows it all. You have to come up with a strategy to cope with what you don’t know.

                    I guess in the same way that corporates put time aside for professional development, I want to encourage you to do the same. I’m preaching to be converted here because you’re all at an event, which is about blogging. I don’t want to hop on that too much. Continue to think about maybe 5% to 10% of your time, maybe an hour a week to reading an article on a blog like ProBlogger, for instance. Buying an ebook maybe. There are heaps of resources out there, there are heaps of webinars out there to help you with these sorts of skills. And really, the next two days is about skills.

                    Collaborate, cooperate, barter, outsource. What I found in my first three weeks of blogging was that there are these other community of other bloggers who know stuff. For me, I had to make text fold on my blog for the first month or so of my blogging. Back then, you couldn’t hit the B button and highlight things. You had to know code like these html stuff. I was too embarrassed to ask anyone about it. I made friends with a couple of New Zealanders, Rachel and Reegan. They were really friendly and so one day, I got up the courage to admit that I didn’t know how to make text dark or I didn’t even know what to call it. I asked Rachel and she giggled and said, “Here’s the code that you can do.” And sent me to a site. And so I began to learn the skills.

                    Getting the courage to ask someone how you do something was something for me that was actually a bit freaky. It took me out of my comfort zone. But you know, by asking her that, that question led us to a partnership. We actually started a little blog network together and then became business partners. Her husband and I started my first money making blog, which was a blog about the Athens Olympics. We blogged all through the night as the Olympics happened. It led to a profitable sort of mutually beneficially win-win relationship.

Those sorts of little questions you ask and relationships you have with others, try to make them win-win. You don’t have to pay everyone. You’ll find a lot of people will want to just help you and a lot of people will want to collaborate and find win-win. I also sent a lot of traffic to them over the years, as thank you for their help. When I started to earn an income, I started paying Rachel to design my blogs as well. Over time, you’ll find new ways to be able to outsource, whether they’re just bartering or whether they’re actually in pain. Be open. The person next to you may actually be able to help you.

I can’t think simple. This is what I’ve been saying to Vanessa, my wife, who started blogging. Let’s start simple. She looks at social networks, there’s Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, and all these different things, she doesn’t know how to use any of those things. She doesn’t know how to use Twitter, which I’m kind of happy about at the moment because I can tweet like crazy and she doesn’t know how to follow me. Gradually, she’s going to learn those things. One thing at a time. One step at a time.

I guess the thing I learned about ProBlogger is by being transparent about what I don’t know, you actually become more relatable to people as well. In ProBlogger, I was terrified when I started ProBlogger because I didn’t know how to design a blog. I didn’t know anything about SEO. I didn’t know anything about analytics, that side of things. I thought to myself do I bluff my way through it or do I say what I know and say what I don’t know, and that’s what I decided to do. I found by showing people what I didn’t know, that I actually made a lot of friends and became more relatable. Be a bit transparent, particularly those of you who are starting out. And practice, you just have to practice. The only way you improve to write, you can learn a lot about writing but unless you actually practice it, you won’t.

I want to get Amy up, another one of our international speakers. Welcome Amy. Amy’s coming all the way from San Diego. Is that right?

Amy: Yes.

Darren: How long were you on the flight?

Amy: It’s a lot of hours. I think 14.

Darren: Oh my gosh.

Amy: Yes.

Darren: I’ve done that trip many times.

Amy: Many times, so I can’t complain.

Darren: No, you can. Anyone who’s on the trip can complain. Can you tell us a little bit about you, your confrontation of lack of skills and what you did about it?

Amy: Yes. I used to work for Tony Robbins. He’s a motivational speaker. I traveled the world with him and was behind the scenes for many, many years. That’s a big guy to be behind the scenes with. I was really behind the scenes. I remember about a year before I went out on my own, I looked at a co-worker and said, “I know nothing to start my own business.” I wanted it so bad but I told her I know nothing I can teach out in front of what I do here at Tony Robbins. She said I was crazy but basically, over that year, I had this desire to have my own business. The word freedom kept going in and out of my head daily.

                    When I thought I didn’t have any skills, what I did is I took action and I call it total immersion. I immersed myself in everything social media for about a good year, 5:00AM to 7:00AM, every morning, Monday to Friday. Basically, I just had to move forward. When you’re thinking I don’t have the skills, I don’t know what I’m going to do. Everybody has somewhere to start and you’ve just got to actually take action. Total immersion, learning everything I could get my hands on free and paid, came to events, I’m going to talk about that today, basically everything I could.

                    What’s interesting is I think it comes back to mindset. My desire to have the freedom and not have a boss anymore had to outweigh the fact that I actually didn’t know what I know now and what I teach now. At the time, I knew nothing about Facebook marketing. That was a year before I actually went out on my own. It really moves fast when you go for total immersion.

                    What’s interesting is when Darren asked me to come to the Gold Coast to speak about Facebook marketing, it was really full circle because I’ve been to the Gold Coast three times with Tony Robbins. If you told me a few years ago that I’d be on stage talking about Facebook marketing, I would say you belong in the loony bin. That would never happen. But it’s funny how when your mindset and you actually put your desire in front of your fear, what can happen. Total immersion, taking action, and saying, “Okay, if I don’t know it, how am I going to know this? What do I need to actually get the knowledge to move me forward?” A combination of that but I really think it comes back to mindset.

Darren: Fear, this is a big one. This is my big one. If you could’ve seen me two weeks ago thinking about this event, I was almost in the fetal position. I was thinking about all the scenarios, all the things that could go wrong with today. I’m sure most of my team know the day I’m talking about. But I almost became paralyzed by fear and the things that could go wrong.

                    The fears that we face as bloggers are varied. I’m sure the list I’ve got there is just a very small sample. I suspect that a lot of you shared about fear before, when you talked to one another. These fears that haunt us. What if no one likes me? What if no one notices me at all? What if I look stupid or make the wrong choices? What if it’s not perfect? That’s my big one. I’m a bit of a perfectionist. What if I’ve got nothing to say or run out of things to say? What if I don’t know enough? What if? What if? What if?

                    The fears can grind us to a halt. I’ve seen this happen for many bloggers. They just become almost paralyzed by it. Again, I don’t have the answers to this. it’s something I struggle with a lot of the time. I’ve overcome some of the fears but other ones sort of pop up and replace them. Here’s a few of the thoughts I have on fear. Fear is a signal. It’s a signal that something important is about to happen. As I look back on all of the life changing moments in my life, fear was present. I think it’s a signal. I think it’s designed to make us fight or flight. There are times for both.

                    Fear can be a good thing. It can warn you to run away from something that’s about to kill you. It gives you that adrenaline and helps you to run faster, I think. It can also be there to give you adrenaline to fight your way through something and to pay attention. If you’re feeling fear about blogging, that’s because you’re about to do something important, something life changing. Let it be a signal to you. This is a mind shift thing. This is something you need to learn when you’re feeling, “Okay, I’m not going to let it paralyze me. I’m going to make it allow me to pay attention to what’s going on in this situation.”

                    For me, that’s what I did this week. I said to myself, “I’m feeling really scared about ProBlogger event. It means something important is going to happen. I need to focus.” That’s what I allowed the fear to do for me, rather than to distract me and to paralyze me. I made it make me focused. I want to suggest three questions to ask when you’re feeling fear. What’s the worst thing that can happen? It’s a cliché, I know. You hear it a lot. But it gives you perspective.

I use this on my seven year old son all the time. Swimming lessons, he can swim. He was swimming in his lessons in water up to here but for some reason, for a patch, he wouldn’t take his feet off the bottom. We talked our way through it. What’s the worst thing that can happen? “I can die.” I’m like, “The water is only up to there. You’ve got your teacher next to you. I’m watching from the edge. I’ll tell your teacher to jump in and save you. What’s the worst thing that could happen to you?” I put my feet down. The situation is putting into perspective. What’s the worst thing that could happen?

That’s a good question to ask. Sometimes the answer is I could die. And so, it’s good to know that. Fear might be telling you to do something about that. What’s the worst thing that could happen? What would you do if that happens? How would you recover from that? I think this is a really important question to ask. I asked myself this question two weeks ago when I thought about this event. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Amy, Tsh, and Trey could be caught in a volcanic ash cloud and not be able to get out of America. That’s one of the worst things that can happen. I might forget all my clothes and have to wear a dress. There are all these things and you begin to work through them and then you begin to think about what I do.

As a team, we started to think what would we do if all our international speakers couldn’t get here. We came up with a contingency plan. By asking this question, you’re better prepared and you do what you’re about to do, better.

The last thing is what could be the best thing that could happen? I think we dwell on the first one a lot. We allow our minds to go there quite a bit. But if we also go to the best thing that could happen, we actually find perspective. Because the reality is it’s probably something in between. You’ve got just as much of a chance as the best thing happening is the worst.

For me, these three questions together can help me to work my way through fear. I guess the other thing for me is talking to other people about it. Get out of your comfort zone. It’s the place that sparks. Last year in my keynote, I talked about how the big things that have happened to me have often started as little small sparks of opportunity. Those sparks for me usually fly when I put myself out of my comfort zone.

One of my fears is meeting new people. Hi, 450 new people. This is my worst nightmare. But what I’ve discovered is that when I force myself to walk up to a complete stranger and introduce myself, sparks fly. I remember going to my first conference in the US, travelled there by myself, freaking out, sitting in the back corner. The stupid speaker made me talk to the person sitting next to me in the opening session. Terrible thing to do.

I did it. I talked to the guy next to me. He became a business partner three years later. Sparks flew in that conversation. We discovered, we shared an interest and interesting things happened as a result of that. Get out of your comfort zone. I know a lot of you are doing that this weekend and I celebrate that you are doing that. That’s fantastic.

The last thing I’ll say about fear is even wobbly courage is courage. A lot of people say to overcome fear, you need to become a warrior. I don’t feel like a warrior but I pushed myself with wobbly knees and legs and feeling nervous into situations. And that’s courage. That’s when sparks fly.

Brooke’s going to come up. Brooke is another one of our speakers. Brooke came last year to our event. You may have seen the video that she made, which we used to help promote this event. She’s going to speak to us later. Brooke, can you tell us a little bit about fear for you, when you faced it, what you did about it.

Brooke: Apart from now?

Darren: Yeah.

Brooke: Probably one of the things that sticks out in my mind the most is the moment I realized that every single number on my analytics page was a person and they were judging me, in a nice way, I’m sure.

Darren: No, they get together.

Brooke: It’s a forum. It just caused me to question what I was writing about and question my voice. As a result of that, I got really boring. I started to write in the middle of the road. That was just purely based on fear because I didn’t want to offend anybody. I wanted people to like me. It took me quite a while to figure out that was the problem because I started to procrastinate. I didn’t write so well. I didn’t write with passion.

                    But once I figured out that that was the fear that was driving it, I wrote a post called 10 Things I’m Afraid to Tell You. I just put it out there. The response was amazing. I had lots of emails from people thanking me and thanking me for facing up to my fear. Because I actually spoke about things, some are small things and embarrassing things like enjoying 50 Shades of Grey.

Darren: It’s a bright book.

Brooke: It’s a fantastic book. But other things were quite big: struggled with depression, things like that. As a result, people really responded incredibly well. My main tip would be initially figure out what the fear is because you may not be sitting there and thinking, “I’m terrified of being judged.” You may be sitting there thinking, “I don’t want to write anymore. I’m a bit sick of this.” You just need to look deep into that and figure out if it’s a fear and then face it. As long as you’re not going to die. Face up to it.

Darren: Thank you, Brooke. Another obstacle, we’ve got two more to go, is sustainability. This is around profitability. A lot of bloggers I meet, particularly at this sort of conferences, how am I actually going to keep this going? How am I going to make it pay its way? This is certainly something I know is on the top of a lot of your minds at the moment. You may have built an audience. You may have built some community. You might’ve been able to get traction. You may have started to get interest from PR companies. But you can’t live off of free stuff. How am I actually going to make this pay its own way?

                    I’m not going to talk a whole heap about this now because this conference is on this particular topic and there’s a whole heap of sessions that can help you with it. There are a few things I’ll say. I’m just going to flip past this because we all know it takes a lot of time and work but there are probably 1.1% of my readers who think it’s easy and it’s going to be easy. If you’ve got that expectation, sorry.

                    There are no formulas and blueprints. That’s usually the same 1.1% who think that there’s a formula they can follow. I’m sorry. There’s not. Every successful blogger I’ve met has forged their own way. There are certainly principles that you see in a lot of them and we’ll talk about some of those over the next couple of days but each blogger is quite different and each situation is different.

                    Over time, things change as well in the wider context. A few years ago, sponsored posts weren’t that big in Australia but now, they seem to be being presented all the time. Things change in the wider context. And also, things change depending upon the stage of your blog as well. The way I used to monetize, it was only a limited option of ways I could do it in the early days but today, because my audience has grown, opens up new opportunities.

                    Profit usually comes around in exchange of value, I found. If you’re just thinking at the start of your journey of business model, ask yourself these sorts of questions. I think somewhere in the intersection of these things, you may find some ways of making profit. Who are your readers? What are their needs and challenges? How can I deliver value to those? Usually, the answer to profitability is somewhere in the midst of those. Your reader’s needs and serving your readers. That’s certainly the case if you have your own product. You can serve your readers needs and challenges by creating a product or a service to sell to them.

                    Same is true with advertising. Finding someone else’s product and selling space or affiliate marketing, it’s usually somewhere in the intersection of those things. Really, the key thing is to understand your readers and what they want and what they need.

                    For me, I guess monetization is just being a series of experimenting and tweaking of these. I reckon I’ve monetized my blogs or tried to monetize my blogs in about 40 ways over the last 10 years. Today, I do about seven. I’ve tried a lot of stuff and a lot of stuff didn’t work. But I found a few things where there were glimmers of hope and I continued to work on those things and tweak them and evolve them.

                    Over time, the more you experiment, the more you learn and the more you learn about your readers, the more you’ll start to logically see fit about how you can monetize your blogs. Again, we’ve got a whole heap of sessions on monetization so I’m not going to talk too much about it. But I’m going to get Trey up. Trey’s another one of our international speakers. He actually lives in New Zealand, but came in from San Fran and in two days, is going back again and then coming back to New Zealand.

Trey: Three.

Darren: Three trips in a week.

Trey: Yeah.

Darren: To and from America. Thank you.

Trey: Sure.

Darren: We’re all on camera. What are you doing? He’s got a Google glass. Trey, he’s a great photographer. He runs a great blog called Stuck in Customs. But a whole heap of other stuff has sort of flowed out of what you do. I know this is a massive topic to talk about in two minutes but can you tell us a little, maybe a story about when you faced sustainability and what you did?

Trey: Yeah. This is a story, it’s a nice story. When I was in college, I went to school in Texas at SMU. I was in computer science and math. That was sort of my thing. I was a huge Star Trek fan. I love The Next Generation. I especially love Patrick Stewart. I love that guy. Remember back then we used to watch TV and we won’t have a laptop on our laps. We would just watch TV. You just pay attention so you would really drink these guys in. I love that guy.

                    I was walking to a student union and I saw there’s a flyer on the wall that Patrick Stewart was coming to my college and he was going to be doing Shakespeare live on stage. I guess he’s staying true to his roots even though he’s doing the sci-fi stuff. But he loves Shakespeare so I got to go see him. I’m not in the theater department so okay, I’m going to go sneak in there. I headed and marked on my calendar. I went and I went the side door. Huge theater. Meadows auditorium, seats thousands and thousands of people.

                    I go in there and it’s completely empty except for two people that are sitting in the front row. I thought, “Oh my gosh, what’s going on? This is weird.” I went in and I sat down. And then I realized, “Oh my gosh. They’re just so bad at marketing this thing. Nobody actually came.” Patrick is going to be mortified. I felt really embarrassed for him and it was just a weird bouquet of feelings inside me. I was excited to see him but if felt bad.

                    So anyway, he came out. He’s like, “Oh.” And then he went off stage for a second and he came back and he brought three chairs. He says, “Would you guys like to come on stage with me?” We’re like, “Yes.” We all went up there. There were four seats all pointing at each other. He says, “Do you all mind if I perform The Merchant of Venice?” No. That would be great. He did the whole thing from memory. Acted the whole thing. every character, everything.

I’ll never forget it. At this one time, he started doing the soliloquy from Shylock and he’s wearing this old tweed sport coat. He was at this point and he slapped his chest and this dust just blew up and the lights were burning down. He was like acting to the dust. I was like, “Wow. This is so awesome.” Looking back on this, I realized, “Look, it doesn’t matter who shows up. He just loved Shakespeare. He was so happy to do it. There’s a purity to it there.”

I realized this. I did the blog. It’s been like seven years now. I did it forever. Just me and my mom showed up on the lonely thing. I did it because I loved it. He did Shakespeare because he loved it. He doesn’t really make his money from Shakespeare, does he? He just loves acting even though the core is this very niche thing that he got into, Shakespeare. He made his money from Star Trek and doing other shows that’s dealt on the ancillary of this.

The two lessons I pulled out of this are one, you just do what you love. It doesn’t matter who shows up. You just can’t help but do it. This was very much his essence. The other half of it is that even on the core was this tight, niche-y Shakespeare thing that only he and very few other people actually really care about in the world, that is what drove him and he took ancillary things to make money that are related to that.

There’s a whole lot of ways to make money on the internet. As long as you get really tight into your core and experiment, that was perfectly said. Just massive amounts of experimentation around things that are directly or indirectly related to this area of expertise that you accidentally fall into just because of love.

Darren: Thank you very much, Trey. It’s so true that most of the people I see making a living from blogging actually started out just talking about their love. They say it’s a bonus that they get paid to do what they used to talk to their mates or annoy their mates with, talking about all the time. That’s certainly my case. That’s great. Thank you, Trey.

                    The last obstacle, and I almost didn’t want to talk about this one because I say it in the Australian blogger sphere quite a bit. I know it causes angst and I know sometimes it causes a bit of controversy but I just see so many bloggers get caught up in this and I have at times, and so, I want to go there. I hope you’ll let me.

                    The comparison game. I’d say it’s a comparison trap. I wrote about this on ProBlogger the other day. It’s probably the biggest read post on ProBlogger over the last year. I talked about the story of one blogger who I called Selly, but that’s not her real name. She’s an Aussie blogger who started a blog and three months later, her blog died because she fell into the comparison trap. She started her blog because she admired another blogger and she came across this blogger and she admired her. And so, she was inspired by her. She started her blog and modelled herself on this blogger and then gradually, day by day, she became more and more in the comparison game.

                    She started to look at how this other blogger wrote and felt insufficient in the way she wrote. She worked and worked and worked on posts, and sometimes, there’ll be a week between posts because she was trying to perfect it to get to point where it was like this other blogger. And so, her writing stopped over time. She began to compare how this person used social media and she started to want to emulate her and then started to become jealous of her and started to become angry because this person did it so much better.

                    The comparison game led her down this path where she compared herself in so many different ways. She became not a blogger, but a comparer. She actually became more obsessed with the comparisons than the actually blogging. It’s a fairly extreme example of it, but I think most of us at one time or another, if we’re honest, we’ll know that we played this game. It can take us in terrible directions to do some things that we’re not proud of as well. I certainly have gone there myself.

                    I felt this when I first started out. I used to admire some bloggers who inspired me to start my first blog and I used to try and write in their style. Their style was very deep and analytical and thinking type post. I don’t even know the words to describe their style of writing because I’m just not that kind of person. I remember writing, trying to write those type of posts in the early days and those posts were just the worst posts I’ve ever written. No one ever commented on them because I don’t think anyone understood them.

                    I discovered after a few months that my style was more conversational. I’m really glad I did. I’m glad I didn’t continue to go down that path of comparing. I guess I forged my path in different ways. I want to encourage you if you’re in this tempting area and it’s tempting. You go on Twitter and you think, “I’ll just see what they’re saying today. I’ll just see if they’re saying something about me or that could be about me.”

                    If you’re that type of person or if you’re a comparer, if you’re looking at other people’s stats or how many comments they get, I want to encourage you to realize the comparisons you’re making are just not fair. You are comparing everything you know about yourself to snippets of what they’re showing about themselves. It’s not that they’re hiding themselves, those other things about themselves, they’re just showing naturally the things that they’re proud of. And so, your comparison is not fair. They’re showing the best of what they’re doing and you know everything about you. It’s not just the best. It’s the worst as well. The comparison’s just not fair.

                    If you’re going to compare, compare yourself  to yourself when you started out. That’s one of the things that I didn’t actually realize I was doing, this is what I did in the early days of my blog. What I used to do is at the end of every month, I look at my stats and I compare them to last month’s stats and I tried to get my personal best. In the same way an athlete uses their personal best, I use my personal best with my blogs.

                    When I started to earn income, that’s when I started to compare my income to myself last month. I went for my record month. That became my obsession. Maybe that was a little bit unhealthy in some ways but I think it’s probably a better obsession than trying to beat someone else. Compare yourself to yourself.

                    You are unique. Use that as your competitive advantage. That’s hard to do. It’s hard to find how to do that but most bloggers that find their voice, that’s what they do. They actually use their weaknesses. They use their failures as part of their story to actually make themselves unique. Everyone’s writing about the same things but no one has your story. Use that story. It’s what makes you unique.

                    The last thing I found is you are so much more than your successes and what other people say about you. I think as humans beings, we naturally compare ourselves all the time. We naturally think about our self worth based on whether we succeed or what other people say about us. They’re the two things I think most of us judge our self with on. We feel good about ourselves when we succeed and when other people say good stuff about ourselves.

                    If that’s where we get our self worth from, we’re in for trouble because we all fail. At times, other people won’t ever say nothing about us or crap about us as well. You’ve got to get your self worth from somewhere else. For me, that comes from spirituality, comes from spirituality, comes from a whole heap of other things. I’m not sure where your self worth comes from but I encourage you to look elsewhere than how well you’re doing on your blog, how many Twitter followers you have, how many readers you have, how much money you have, and what other people say about you. You’re so much more worthwhile than any of those things so don’t allow yourselves to compare in that way.

                    I want to get one last person up, Phoebe. Phoebe is going to come. Phoebe is from Melbourne. Phoebe spoke at our second ProBlogger event. I remember I was in the other room when Phoebe got up to speak and tweet out when completely off in the next room, as Phoebe talks.

Phoebe:         I still do.

Darren:         You still do, thank goodness. Can you tell us a little bit about the comparison game? You’re in the fashion blogging space. That wouldn’t be a comparative sort of…

Phoebe: Oh no, that’s not judgmental at all. Are there fashion bloggers here? Are there people that maybe don’t blog about fashion but put photos of yourself? Yeah, okay. I know you’re out there. What you find when you put yourself online and put photos of yourself online, that you’re open to judgment and you’re open to compare yourself with other people. I am seven years into my blogging career and last year, a new blogging fashion network opened up, called Felt, which is based out of Sydney.

                    It was based on an American business model where it was exclusive. It was invitation only. They only worked with, at that stage when they started, I think five bloggers, fashion bloggers. I wasn’t invited. I always like to think that I was somewhat at the top of my game, that I still had a readership a long time into my blogging career. I was just scratching my head, what have I done? What am I not doing right? Why don’t these people like me?

The girls that were chosen were very young. I’m over 30, believe it or not. They were all about 18, 19, 6ft, two of them ex models, weighed 50 kilos. Not me. I had read and followed their blogs. I just sat with my head in my hands and I thought, “What is my value? Why am I doing this? If this is what is being held up as a pinnacle in my industry and within fashion blogging, what is my value?”

I rang one of my girlfriends and she said, “This is just bad for your health. You need to stop this.” She said, “And of all people, Phoebe, you should know better.” I said, “Yeah, I know but it just gets me. It got to me.” She goes, “What are you going to do about it?” I said, “Lose 10 kilos and grow a couple of feet.” She said, “No, you’re not going to do that.” She said, “You need to write about it,” And so, I did. I wrote a two part series because the fashion blogger sphere and Twitter sphere went nuts when it was launched.

I’ve always seen blogging as community based. I’m very generous with my time, knowledge. I’ll tell you anything you want to know about blogging. I won’t charge you unless you’re a corporation. It had always been about positivity and fostering inclusion. It went against this very tight exclusive group, everything that I thought blogging was about, so I wrote about it.

I turned inward and I switched off. I unfollowed them all on Twitter. I unfollowed them on Instagram. I switched off from their blogs for a while. I looked inward. I wrote a two part series. Those blog posts were picked up by AAP and Patty Huntington, who’s one of Australia’s most well known fashion bloggers. She’s a former journalist and she actually referenced that post just last week, again.

What I had perceived as a comparison that really got me down, I turned into a positive because I thought, “If I don’t do this, it’s going to throw up every other fear we’ve talked about today. Fear, roadblock, writer’s block, and it’s not going to be sustainable for me.

Darren: Thanks so much, Phoebe.

Phoebe: You’re welcome.

Darren: Thanks Phoebe and thanks to the other people who’ve come and shared. I really appreciate people going to those places and sharing those sorts of things, honestly. I hope that that encourages you. We all face these obstacles that we’ve been talking about today.

                    How are we going to finish this off? I was talking to a hurdler recently at a party. Kind of lucky talking about obstacles, hurdles, and things like that. He’s not an Olympic hurdler or anything like that, he competes in a local competition. I said to him, “So tell me, how do you become a great hurdler?” He said this, “You jump over a lot of hurdles.” Effectively, what he told me is that to become a great jumper of obstacles and hurdles, you need to jump over a lot of obstacles and hurdles.

Every time you jump over one, you exercise your muscles and they become stronger. You learn how to keep momentum going when you jump over hurdles. Sometimes, you jump into hurdles and you crash and hurt yourself and you learn how not to jump in over hurdles. The only way we get through this stuff is to confront it. The only way we’re going to face our fears and stop comparing ourselves with others, to actually about and to do it. I really want this event to be an event that challenges us to do that. I really would encourage you as you go into the next couple of days to keep these obstacles in front of your mind and to talk about them and ask questions about them and to take them on rather than run around them.

You can see obstacles as hurdles or you can see them as fences that contain you. When you start seeing them as fences that contain you, you actually stop yourself and you contain yourself. So I encourage you, over the next couple of days, we’re going to get through these obstacles and I really hope that that’s the case for you.

That wraps up our keynote from 2013. I hope you found it beneficial for the different challenges that you face at the moment. I would love to hear what you think about this week’s episode. You can leave a comment over on our show notes over at problogger.com/podcast/205 or you can check out our Facebook group. If you just do a search on Facebook for ProBlogger community or go to problogger.com/group, you’ll find it. Just apply to join if you haven’t already and you can leave your reaction to that episode, that keynote there as well.

Also on the show notes, I’m going to link to some further listening and some further reading as well. As I said at the top of the show, I’ll link to each of the five bloggers that I interviewed: Tsh, Amy, Trey, Phoebe, and Brooke. All of their blogs in details will be listed there as well. Also, I’ll link to the blog post that Brooke mentioned in her interview, the 10 things that she was scared to tell her readers. You can go and check that one out as well if you’d like.

Also, I’ve got some further listening for you. If you want to learn a little bit more about blogger’s block, I did mention three different types of blogger’s block in that particular episode, go and check out episode 83, where I talked about those three types of blogger’s block. And then in episodes 84, 86, and 87, not 85, there’s a bit of a break in that series. I did talk about the three types of blogger’s block and give you some tips on how to get through it.

If that’s something you’re facing at the moment, go look at episode 83 right through to 87, really. And then episode 54, I talk about fear. I go deeper into those three questions to ask when you are facing fear. Lastly, there is a post over on the show notes about the comparison game if that is something that you are struggling with at the moment, comparing yourself to other bloggers.

Whatever it is that you’re facing at the moment, I really do hope that today’s episode has helped you just to push through it a little bit, to keep going, to persist, some of the things that we talked about at this year’s event as well was persisting and really going through those tough times, it’s when we lean into our fear. It’s when we push into those challenges. It’s when we exercise jumping over those challenges that we do really often see growth come out of these periods that could stop us from blogging. If you’re in one of those spaces at the moment, it could actually be just one of those things that you need to push through that’s going to grow your blog, that’s actually going to grow you as a blogger as well.

Love to hear from you. Come and join us in the Facebook group and next week, we’ll be back to our normal schedule. No more event keynotes. I’ve got some stuff planned for you. We’ve got some interviews and we’re going to talk about some cool tools as well in the coming weeks as well.

Thanks for listening. Chat with you next week in episode 206.

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The post 205: 5 Obstacles Bloggers Face (And How to Get Over Them) appeared first on ProBlogger.

205: 5 Obstacles Bloggers Face (And How to Get Over Them)

How to Overcome 5 Blogger Obstacles

As I record this, I’m just home from our first ProBlogger event of the year in Brisbane and am preparing for our next one in the coming days in Melbourne.

The Brisbane event was really worthwhile. We heard from Pat Flynn, Jadah Sellner, James Schramko, Kelly Exeter, Shayne Tilley and Laney Galligan and had a couple of days of great teaching and inspiration – including a day with a small group masterminding their businesses.

overcome-5-blogger-obstacles

Each year at our events, I open the event with a keynote. This year I spoke about evolving your blog rather than getting into a ‘revolving’ pattern (or going in circles). I will share more on that topic on the podcast in the future but as we’re very much focused this week on our events and serving our attendees I wanted to give you another taste of what we do at our events and share with you the opening keynote from a previous year as this week’s episode.

I did this in the last episode too and got a lot of positive feedback and hope you’ll enjoy this one too. It’s from 4 years ago but I think it’s spot on in terms of a message for today too.

The bloggers interviewed on stage:

Further Listening and Reading on 5 Obstacles Bloggers Face (And How to Get Over Them)

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Darren:
Hey there, my name is Darren Rowse. I’m the blogger behind ProBlogger.com, a blog, podcast, some events, a job board, and a series of ebooks, all designed to help you as a blogger to grow your blog, to start it up, get content on it, build community with your audience and to make some money from it as well.

You can learn more about all we do at ProBlogger over at problogger.com. As I record this episode, episode 205, I’m just home from our first ProBlogger event of 2017. This year was in Brisbane, just in the last weekend. We’re getting ready for our next one, experimenting this year with two in two weeks. The second one will be in Melbourne. By the time this episode goes live, we will have that one as well.

Our Brisbane event was really worthwhile. I’m so excited about what we did this year. We heard from Pat Flynn, Jadah Sellner, James Schramko, Kelly Exeter, Shayne Tilley, Laney Galligan, and had a couple of really great days of teaching and inspiration, including a day with a small mastermind group. Really working through 40 or so blogger’s businesses.

Each year, at our events, I open the event with a keynote. This year, 2017’s event, I spoke about evolving your blog rather than getting into a revolving pattern. I guess the catch was to evolve, not revolve, because many times, we go in circles. I’m going to share more about that topic on this podcast in the future, another reason to subscribe if you haven’t already.

As we’re very much focused upon our real life events this particular week and serving our attendees who come along to that, this week in the episode in the podcast, I want to give you another taste of what we do at our events and share with you another opening keynote from a previous year, as this week’s episode. Now, I did this last week as well. If you haven’t listened to that back in episode 204, got a lot of positive feedback in the last few days about that one and so I hope you enjoy this one as well.

The one I’m about to play for you is from four years ago, 2013, but I think it’s spot on in terms of message for today. It’s one of the more evergreen ones that I’ve ever done. But, this one’s a little bit different. It’s different in two ways. Firstly, in this keynote, I went to a place I normally don’t go to in an opening talk. Normally, for an opening talk, you do something really positive, very constructive. In this one, I share some deeper stuff. I talked about some things that I knew going in could touch a nerve with some bloggers.

I was a little bit nervous about it, to be honest, because it goes to the heart of some things that I know many of us, and I’m talking about myself here, feel that holds us back in our blogging. I actually share in this episode five obstacles or roadblocks that bloggers face and then give some tips on how to overcome those hurdles, those challenges. In this particular keynote, I talk about feeling like you don’t have enough time to blog, we talked about feeling like you don’t have the skills that it takes, maybe you’re not technical enough.

In this one, we talked about fear. We talked about building something that’s sustainable or feeling like you’re not building something profitable and lastly, I talked about that trap that many of us fall into, the comparison game, where we look at what others are doing and compare ourselves to others.

This might all sound a little bit negative, but the result of this talk was pretty remarkable. This event was one of the most powerful ones that I’ve ever been to, all that I’ve held. People at this event, including our speakers and attendees, shared vulnerabilities and really went deep. As a result, we saw some really great results in the months afterwards.

The second thing that’s a bit different about this talk is that you’re not just going to hear my voice, we actually hear the voices of myself but also five other bloggers, five of our speakers in fact. Three of them, our international speakers, we had Amy Porterfield this year and you’ll hear from her in a moment. You’ll hear from Trey Ratcliff from Stuck In Customs, Tsh Oxenreider, and then two Aussie bloggers, Brooke McAlary, who you heard in previous on this podcast, and Phoebe Montague, a fashion blogger from Melbourne as well.

You’re going to hear me talk and then each of these are going to chime in as well, as I invite them onto the stage. If you want to follow along with the slides that I share for this talk, and I just summarized some of the points that I make in these slides, I’m uploading them to this week’s show notes. You can check them out over at problogger.com/podcast/205. I’ll also, on the show notes, link to some further listening and reading for you as well. We’ll link to each of the five bloggers that I interview because they’re all doing really remarkable things and I think are well worth checking out. Without further ado, I’m going to get into this keynote. I hope you enjoy it. I’ll wrap it up at the end to mention a couple of other things that you might like to go and listen to next.

This morning, I want to start by talking about the obstacles that we face as bloggers. It sounds like a bit of a downer to start off, thinking about the things that hold us back and the things that block our way. Thus, I reflected in the lead up to this event. I reflected on my own almost 11 years of blogging. Whilst there have been a lot of highs, there’s also been a lot of bumps in the road for me over that time.

Quite often when I come to a conference like this, either as a speaker or as an attendee, I start thinking about what will I talk to people about. A lot of the time, I think of the positive things that I want to share and the successes that I’ve had and kind of gloss over those hard things. But I want this conference this year to be a place where we talk about the good stuff, but also the challenges that we face. I want this to be a conference this year where we talk about our vulnerabilities, our anxieties, and really, are honest with each other, both as speakers, but also as attendees.

I guess I want to model that a little bit this morning by talking about some of my obstacles over the years because I think a lot of them are things that I know others face as well. I want you to think about answering this question. What is your number one obstacle that you’re facing at the moment as a blogger, whether you are 10 years into blogging, whether you’re just starting blogging, whether you haven’t even started a blog. Every year, we have pre bloggers come to ProBlogger as well. What obstacle are you facing at the moment as a blogger?

I want you to write it down. I want you to get your iPad out or your iPhone out, write in on your hand, wherever. I want you to write it down because I think by writing down these things, they become a little bit more crystallized in our mind. As you head into the next two days of teaching, I want this thing to be in the back of your mind. I want to inform the sessions you go to, the questions you ask speakers, the questions you ask fellow attendees, the conversations that you have.

Don’t just talk about the good things that are happening, the highs, but also, talk about these challenges. Quickly, just in a word or two, write it down. What is this challenge that you’re facing? What’s blocking your way at the moment? What’s holding you back at the moment? Just one thing would do. I know we’ve probably all got about 10, but what’s the number one thing for you?

Now, you’ve written it down, I want you to jump out of your comfort zone a little and turn to someone next to you and tell them. If it’s a highly personal thing, you don’t have to share at all. You got one sentence to say it so you don’t have to go into great detail. Just in one sentence, say what it is. Let the other person say what it is. You got one minute.

Please continue that conversation because it seemed important conversation. The way you’re going to breakthrough those barriers, you’ve just done part of it. I think by verbalizing it, by writing it down, you’re crystallizing it in your mind but you also may have just created an ally to help you to jump over that hurdle. I really encourage you to prolifically tell people about your problems at this conference. You have my permission to do that. That’s the kind of conference I want. I want us to be smashing through these barriers. That’s my aim for this conference.

What do you reckon the number one thing was that you just shared then? Anyone? Oh my gosh, time. I asked that question on our Facebook event page, if you haven’t found it, we’ve got one, and on Twitter the other day. The number one thing that came back was time. It was expressed in a whole heap of different ways, I don’t have enough time to blog. Life gets in the way. We all have other things and they’re important things in our life, like children, partners, friends, jobs, studies, hobbies, volunteering, and all kinds of other stuff that compete for our time.

We have distractions. As bloggers, we live in perhaps one of the most prolific place for distractions. How many times have you sat at the computer to write a blog post and just followed a link and end up watching about funny cats on YouTube. We’re just surrounded by them. Not only do we follow other people’s links, we create our own and just make other people distracted. This is just distractions all around us.

There are opportunities too. I was talking to a blogger the other day and she said to me, “I get invited to seven events every week.” Seven events every week so that’s one a day on average. They’re good things. They’re opportunities. They’re fun. Some of them could open up opportunities to earn an income. But if she went to them all, she’d have no time to actually blog. There are opportunities.

And then there are these demands that we put upon ourselves. And these expectations that we put upon ourselves. I have to post everyday. I have to tweet this many times. I have to be involved in these 42 social networks. There are all of these demands that we place upon ourselves as well, which crowd out our time.

I wish I had the answer for you on this front. I don’t. This is one of my big struggles. From the very day I started blogging to today, it’s been a juggling act for me. When I started blogging, I was working three part time jobs. I was working in an in flight catering kitchen, putting food on trays on a conveyor belt. That was one of my jobs. I was working in a warehouse. I was working in a church as a youth worker. I was also studying at the time as well.

So blogging for me was just something I did in between times. It was what I did in lunch breaks. I took a notebook everywhere. I was writing blog post ideas as I was putting orange juice on trays. It was somewhere feeding around the edges.

Within the first week of blogging, I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have half a day a week or a morning a week just to dedicate to blogging?” I was lucky enough about a year later when my blog started to make a bit of money to get to the point where I could put half a day a week into blogging. At that point, I thought to myself, “I can’t get it all done. I wish I could have two mornings a week.”

Gradually, over time, as my blog grew in income, I was able to dedicate more and more time. One day a week, two days a week, three days a week. A couple of years later, I was working 40 hours a week on my blog. It’s seems like an amazing luxury to have 40 hours a week but you know what, I couldn’t get it all done. I started working 50 hours a week and started saying up till 2:00AM or 3:00AM and getting up early in the morning. I’ve got to a point where it started to impact my health. I could see it started to impact my friendships because the only friends I have were my readers. I saw that it could have potential to impact family and other important things to me.

I guess the first thing I want to say about time is that there will always be more that you can do. You just need to come to a point of making peace with that. You’ll never get it all done. I’m sorry but you never will. There will always be another blog post you could write, another tweet you could do, another blog that you could read, another blogger that you could network with, another advertiser you could approach, another ebook that you could write, and the list goes on and on. I’m sorry if that depresses you but that’s the reality. You just gotta make peace with the fact that there will be things that you can’t do.

For me, changing that mind shift for me was probably the time I started to become more effective with my time, because I realized there was a limit of how much time I could put into blogging. I needed to be smart with the way that I used it. For me, probably knowing your goals is probably the thing that’s helped me the most with my time management.

By having a goal, something that I’m aiming for with my blogging, suddenly I’m able to filter out the distractions, suddenly I’m able to judge whether the opportunities are worthwhile opportunities to take. Is this opportunity going to take me towards my goal or take me away from it? By knowing my goals, I suddenly become more time efficient. Still challenges of distractions but it helps.

The other part about goals for me is I’ve noticed that if a goal is a meaningful goal to me, if it is significant to me in some way, I’m much more likely to be efficient with my time in doing that. About eight years ago, I had 30 blogs. I was trying to post to them all everyday. Ridiculous. Stupid. This is when I was working 60, 70 hours a week. It was just dumb. 28 of those blogs, I had no passion for, whatsoever. They meant nothing to me. I just thought they might be profitable.

I told you last year about one of them, my printer blog. A blog about printers. I hate printers. I was writing a post everyday about it. I struggled to dedicate the time to that blog. Of course it died because it didn’t matter to me. But ProBlogger is a blog that matters to me. It matters to me and thankfully, it matters to other people as well. Someone came up this morning and said ProBlogger helped them to grow an income for their family. Something that they never thought would happen. That means something to me. That’s exciting to me. That motivates me to keep on keepin on with that blog. It makes me much more disciplined with that blog as well.

Choose goals that are meaningful to you and others and I think that helps you to become more dedicated with what you’re doing. And then choose things that will move you towards those goals and spend 90% of your time doing those things. This is not rocket science but we need to hear it.

I was talking to a blogger recently and she told me that she just didn’t have enough time to blog. I said, “How much time do you have to blog?” She said, “30 hours a week.” I’m like, “That’s a fair bit of time. What are you doing with that time?” She said, “I don’t know. I’m doing stuff.” I’m like, “What do you do with that time?” I set out a task of noting down everything she did for a week. She set up a grid and she filled in every block, she wrote down what she was doing. She’s probably spent most of the week writing down what she was doing. But she got to the end of the week and I said, “Now, add it all up, the different activities, and work out what you’re doing to your time.” She was spending about 80% of her time on social media.

Then the question is is that taking you towards your goals or is it distracting you away from your goals? Social media, you could say it’s helping you reach your goals but there comes a point where it actually takes you away from your goals. She was confronted by this and she completely redid the way she uses her time. Now, she spends about 10% of her time on social media and she spends 90% of her time writing blog posts and doing things to monetize her blog and building community on her blog. She’s seen her blog take off by just changing the things that she’s doing and making them things that take her towards her goals.

You noticed I said there’s 10% left for you to become distracted. I actually think being distracted is a good thing. It lets your mind wind down and often, when I’m distracted, I get ideas as well. Let your mind have those moments to have fun and do those sorts of things. But this takes a bit of discipline as well.

Identify sticking points out there. I wrote a post on ProBlogger the other day, how over the last 11 years, I’ve had these different bouts of blogger’s block. It’s tough. I used to just call it blogger’s block but I what I’ve realized is there are different types of blogger’s block. For me, identifying exactly what the problem is, then unleashes me to flow in other areas.

For me, one of the things that I struggled with in 2006, 2007 on ProBlogger, was coming up with ideas to write about. I’ve been blogging for two and a half years on ProBlogger and I felt like I’d blogged everything there was to blog about blogging. I was blogging two or three posts a day. That’s a lot of posts. That’s a lot of topics covered.

I really struggled to come up with something new and fresh. I just thought I had blogger’s block but when I realized it was about idea generation, I decided what am I going to do about it, I found two friends and we spent a morning together. They were also going through the same issue. They had blogs on different topics. We just brainstormed together for a morning. They told me what to write about and I came up with almost 30 or 40 posts and so did they. We did it again for a full day. A couple of months later, I came up with hundreds of ideas.

By identifying the sticking point, I then released myself to actually write. Another sticking point I had was in creation of content. This is a more recent problem for me. About a year ago on ProBlogger, I just did not have time to write posts because the opportunities were starting to flow over, running this event, which kept growing. Sponsors wanted to talk. We were publishing ebooks. I’d hired some team members and I was managing them. I just wasn’t writing anything.

By identifying the sticking point, I was able to re-do how I use my time. And so I dedicate Monday and Wednesday mornings to write. I turn everything off, I don’t answer my phone, I work offline, and I just write. They’re my golden hours for writing content.

The other type of blogger’s block that I had was completing posts. Who’s got 30 or 40 posts half written? A year into writing ProBlogger, I had so many ideas to write about. It was fresh. It was new. It was exciting. The blog was going. At one point, I had 93 drafts in the backend of ProBlogger. I just would start a post and I’d get distracted and then start another post and then I’d never finish anything. Again, the sticking point was finishing posts and it was publishing posts and getting them ready to publish. And so I dedicated an hour every afternoon to polishing posts and getting them ready.

It’s not rocket science but for me, I guess it’s about identifying what is the point that’s holding you back and re jigging your time to dedicate some time to those sticking points. Those points will change over time for you as well so just be aware, where’s the blockage and how can I unleash that?

This morning I’m going to get five people up to talk about their challenges with these topics. I’m going to talk to you about five obstacles and I’m going to interview five people. Tsh. I’d like you to welcome Tsh. Many of you know Tsh runs a blog called Simple Mom. She’s from Oregon, although from Austin, Texas before that. She’s come like 36 hours to be here. Tsh, can you tell us a little bit about a time where you struggled with time and what you did about it.

Tsh: I’ve been blogging about five years and I would say all of that time is a struggle for time. When I started, I had a newborn and a two year old. My kids are now eight, five, and I also have a three year old. That, in itself, means I don’t have a lot of time. We also homeschool. I don’t know if that’s a thing in Australia. It just means I don’t have a lot of time.

                    What I have learned that really helps me a lot is to think about how I made, think about when I work best, what’s important to me in terms of more lifestyle and not so much on the blog. When I started thinking about such as I tend to think better in the morning. I’m a morning person. After 4:00PM, most of my writing is just crap. So I learned to okay, let’s take advantage of that time. I now wake up at about 5:30AM or so and write until about 7:30AM. I don’t get online at all. I just write.

My big fuel and my passion is the writing part of it so that’s where I want to spend most of my energy. I take advantage of that early morning hour or two hours when no one else is awake and it’s nice and quiet. Nobody needs me, for the most part, you got little kids so that still happens. I get most of my writing done before my family even wakes up. By breakfast time, I’ve already written. I feel that sense of accomplishment for my day that if everything else doesn’t happen, at least I’ve gotten something written.

By about 4:00PM, if I want to get more work done, it’s usually kind of the mindless tasks, the things I don’t need to spend as much energy on: editing photos, just the manual editing of posts, getting them scheduled, things like that. Taking advantage of my natural rhythm has helped me a ton. The hours you do spend blogging matter more for me.

The other thing I’ve realized, kind of what Darren was saying, the idea of never having enough time to do it all. Nobody ever says, “Well, I finished Twitter today so I guess I can move on.” It never stops. That’s the nature of the internet.

For me, it helped me a lot to realize that “no” really, a lot of times, means not now. It’s just not a good time for that project, that idea, that whatever it is now. I might be able to do it later but “no” is not necessarily an end to a dream, an end to an idea. It’s just means now is not a good time. That just mentally helps me, I guess, not feel so depressed about the whole never finishing the internet thing.

The last thing that really helps me is getting offline. That seems so counterintuitive because shouldn’t you be online more to get more done? But you know how you don’t feel like you need any clothes until you go to a store and you start seeing all the stuff and you’re like, “Oh, I could use that. I could use that.” It’s the same things in some ways being online. You don’t really think about all these things you want to do and get accomplished until you get online and you see all these other great things happening and all these other people to talk to.

Something about just being offline, being around 3D people, being outside in nature, all those things just cleared your head and you stop feeling that anxiety about time and the lack of it and needing to get everything done. Those are my main three things I do to stay sane and have enough time.

Darren: Lack of skills. I love Napoleon Dynamite. He’s the coolest. I must have watched that so many times. Skills, it’s hard when you start at blogging. I said all of those things that are on that list. That’s my list. I can’t write. I really didn’t really write very well, I still don’t think I write very well. I don’t know enough about social media. I didn’t know anything about blogging. I used the internet for research and email. That was pretty much all I did in the early days. I didn’t know about publishing. I didn’t know how to get a domain name, a design, or any of these sorts of things.

                    This is something I see a lot of bloggers really struggle with even though the tools have improved a lot. In the early days, you had to know how to code to do a lot of stuff and the tools have improved a lot. My wife started blogging three weeks ago, which is kind of fun. She’s coming this afternoon. Please be nice to her. It’s been interesting to be reminded of those things that you take for granted when you’ve been blogging for awhile, like aligning images and some of those sorts of things. She said all those things as well.

                    This can stop you in your tracks. It can stop you in your tracks at different times in your blogging as well. I’m still not taking enough. I still don’t think I can write well enough but I guess it’s about how do you breakthrough this sort of obstacle. My thoughts on this, again, you never know it all, you’ll never have enough time but you’ll also never know it all. No blogger that I know knows it all. You have to come up with a strategy to cope with what you don’t know.

                    I guess in the same way that corporates put time aside for professional development, I want to encourage you to do the same. I’m preaching to be converted here because you’re all at an event, which is about blogging. I don’t want to hop on that too much. Continue to think about maybe 5% to 10% of your time, maybe an hour a week to reading an article on a blog like ProBlogger, for instance. Buying an ebook maybe. There are heaps of resources out there, there are heaps of webinars out there to help you with these sorts of skills. And really, the next two days is about skills.

                    Collaborate, cooperate, barter, outsource. What I found in my first three weeks of blogging was that there are these other community of other bloggers who know stuff. For me, I had to make text fold on my blog for the first month or so of my blogging. Back then, you couldn’t hit the B button and highlight things. You had to know code like these html stuff. I was too embarrassed to ask anyone about it. I made friends with a couple of New Zealanders, Rachel and Reegan. They were really friendly and so one day, I got up the courage to admit that I didn’t know how to make text dark or I didn’t even know what to call it. I asked Rachel and she giggled and said, “Here’s the code that you can do.” And sent me to a site. And so I began to learn the skills.

                    Getting the courage to ask someone how you do something was something for me that was actually a bit freaky. It took me out of my comfort zone. But you know, by asking her that, that question led us to a partnership. We actually started a little blog network together and then became business partners. Her husband and I started my first money making blog, which was a blog about the Athens Olympics. We blogged all through the night as the Olympics happened. It led to a profitable sort of mutually beneficially win-win relationship.

Those sorts of little questions you ask and relationships you have with others, try to make them win-win. You don’t have to pay everyone. You’ll find a lot of people will want to just help you and a lot of people will want to collaborate and find win-win. I also sent a lot of traffic to them over the years, as thank you for their help. When I started to earn an income, I started paying Rachel to design my blogs as well. Over time, you’ll find new ways to be able to outsource, whether they’re just bartering or whether they’re actually in pain. Be open. The person next to you may actually be able to help you.

I can’t think simple. This is what I’ve been saying to Vanessa, my wife, who started blogging. Let’s start simple. She looks at social networks, there’s Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, and all these different things, she doesn’t know how to use any of those things. She doesn’t know how to use Twitter, which I’m kind of happy about at the moment because I can tweet like crazy and she doesn’t know how to follow me. Gradually, she’s going to learn those things. One thing at a time. One step at a time.

I guess the thing I learned about ProBlogger is by being transparent about what I don’t know, you actually become more relatable to people as well. In ProBlogger, I was terrified when I started ProBlogger because I didn’t know how to design a blog. I didn’t know anything about SEO. I didn’t know anything about analytics, that side of things. I thought to myself do I bluff my way through it or do I say what I know and say what I don’t know, and that’s what I decided to do. I found by showing people what I didn’t know, that I actually made a lot of friends and became more relatable. Be a bit transparent, particularly those of you who are starting out. And practice, you just have to practice. The only way you improve to write, you can learn a lot about writing but unless you actually practice it, you won’t.

I want to get Amy up, another one of our international speakers. Welcome Amy. Amy’s coming all the way from San Diego. Is that right?

Amy: Yes.

Darren: How long were you on the flight?

Amy: It’s a lot of hours. I think 14.

Darren: Oh my gosh.

Amy: Yes.

Darren: I’ve done that trip many times.

Amy: Many times, so I can’t complain.

Darren: No, you can. Anyone who’s on the trip can complain. Can you tell us a little bit about you, your confrontation of lack of skills and what you did about it?

Amy: Yes. I used to work for Tony Robbins. He’s a motivational speaker. I traveled the world with him and was behind the scenes for many, many years. That’s a big guy to be behind the scenes with. I was really behind the scenes. I remember about a year before I went out on my own, I looked at a co-worker and said, “I know nothing to start my own business.” I wanted it so bad but I told her I know nothing I can teach out in front of what I do here at Tony Robbins. She said I was crazy but basically, over that year, I had this desire to have my own business. The word freedom kept going in and out of my head daily.

                    When I thought I didn’t have any skills, what I did is I took action and I call it total immersion. I immersed myself in everything social media for about a good year, 5:00AM to 7:00AM, every morning, Monday to Friday. Basically, I just had to move forward. When you’re thinking I don’t have the skills, I don’t know what I’m going to do. Everybody has somewhere to start and you’ve just got to actually take action. Total immersion, learning everything I could get my hands on free and paid, came to events, I’m going to talk about that today, basically everything I could.

                    What’s interesting is I think it comes back to mindset. My desire to have the freedom and not have a boss anymore had to outweigh the fact that I actually didn’t know what I know now and what I teach now. At the time, I knew nothing about Facebook marketing. That was a year before I actually went out on my own. It really moves fast when you go for total immersion.

                    What’s interesting is when Darren asked me to come to the Gold Coast to speak about Facebook marketing, it was really full circle because I’ve been to the Gold Coast three times with Tony Robbins. If you told me a few years ago that I’d be on stage talking about Facebook marketing, I would say you belong in the loony bin. That would never happen. But it’s funny how when your mindset and you actually put your desire in front of your fear, what can happen. Total immersion, taking action, and saying, “Okay, if I don’t know it, how am I going to know this? What do I need to actually get the knowledge to move me forward?” A combination of that but I really think it comes back to mindset.

Darren: Fear, this is a big one. This is my big one. If you could’ve seen me two weeks ago thinking about this event, I was almost in the fetal position. I was thinking about all the scenarios, all the things that could go wrong with today. I’m sure most of my team know the day I’m talking about. But I almost became paralyzed by fear and the things that could go wrong.

                    The fears that we face as bloggers are varied. I’m sure the list I’ve got there is just a very small sample. I suspect that a lot of you shared about fear before, when you talked to one another. These fears that haunt us. What if no one likes me? What if no one notices me at all? What if I look stupid or make the wrong choices? What if it’s not perfect? That’s my big one. I’m a bit of a perfectionist. What if I’ve got nothing to say or run out of things to say? What if I don’t know enough? What if? What if? What if?

                    The fears can grind us to a halt. I’ve seen this happen for many bloggers. They just become almost paralyzed by it. Again, I don’t have the answers to this. it’s something I struggle with a lot of the time. I’ve overcome some of the fears but other ones sort of pop up and replace them. Here’s a few of the thoughts I have on fear. Fear is a signal. It’s a signal that something important is about to happen. As I look back on all of the life changing moments in my life, fear was present. I think it’s a signal. I think it’s designed to make us fight or flight. There are times for both.

                    Fear can be a good thing. It can warn you to run away from something that’s about to kill you. It gives you that adrenaline and helps you to run faster, I think. It can also be there to give you adrenaline to fight your way through something and to pay attention. If you’re feeling fear about blogging, that’s because you’re about to do something important, something life changing. Let it be a signal to you. This is a mind shift thing. This is something you need to learn when you’re feeling, “Okay, I’m not going to let it paralyze me. I’m going to make it allow me to pay attention to what’s going on in this situation.”

                    For me, that’s what I did this week. I said to myself, “I’m feeling really scared about ProBlogger event. It means something important is going to happen. I need to focus.” That’s what I allowed the fear to do for me, rather than to distract me and to paralyze me. I made it make me focused. I want to suggest three questions to ask when you’re feeling fear. What’s the worst thing that can happen? It’s a cliché, I know. You hear it a lot. But it gives you perspective.

I use this on my seven year old son all the time. Swimming lessons, he can swim. He was swimming in his lessons in water up to here but for some reason, for a patch, he wouldn’t take his feet off the bottom. We talked our way through it. What’s the worst thing that can happen? “I can die.” I’m like, “The water is only up to there. You’ve got your teacher next to you. I’m watching from the edge. I’ll tell your teacher to jump in and save you. What’s the worst thing that could happen to you?” I put my feet down. The situation is putting into perspective. What’s the worst thing that could happen?

That’s a good question to ask. Sometimes the answer is I could die. And so, it’s good to know that. Fear might be telling you to do something about that. What’s the worst thing that could happen? What would you do if that happens? How would you recover from that? I think this is a really important question to ask. I asked myself this question two weeks ago when I thought about this event. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Amy, Tsh, and Trey could be caught in a volcanic ash cloud and not be able to get out of America. That’s one of the worst things that can happen. I might forget all my clothes and have to wear a dress. There are all these things and you begin to work through them and then you begin to think about what I do.

As a team, we started to think what would we do if all our international speakers couldn’t get here. We came up with a contingency plan. By asking this question, you’re better prepared and you do what you’re about to do, better.

The last thing is what could be the best thing that could happen? I think we dwell on the first one a lot. We allow our minds to go there quite a bit. But if we also go to the best thing that could happen, we actually find perspective. Because the reality is it’s probably something in between. You’ve got just as much of a chance as the best thing happening is the worst.

For me, these three questions together can help me to work my way through fear. I guess the other thing for me is talking to other people about it. Get out of your comfort zone. It’s the place that sparks. Last year in my keynote, I talked about how the big things that have happened to me have often started as little small sparks of opportunity. Those sparks for me usually fly when I put myself out of my comfort zone.

One of my fears is meeting new people. Hi, 450 new people. This is my worst nightmare. But what I’ve discovered is that when I force myself to walk up to a complete stranger and introduce myself, sparks fly. I remember going to my first conference in the US, travelled there by myself, freaking out, sitting in the back corner. The stupid speaker made me talk to the person sitting next to me in the opening session. Terrible thing to do.

I did it. I talked to the guy next to me. He became a business partner three years later. Sparks flew in that conversation. We discovered, we shared an interest and interesting things happened as a result of that. Get out of your comfort zone. I know a lot of you are doing that this weekend and I celebrate that you are doing that. That’s fantastic.

The last thing I’ll say about fear is even wobbly courage is courage. A lot of people say to overcome fear, you need to become a warrior. I don’t feel like a warrior but I pushed myself with wobbly knees and legs and feeling nervous into situations. And that’s courage. That’s when sparks fly.

Brooke’s going to come up. Brooke is another one of our speakers. Brooke came last year to our event. You may have seen the video that she made, which we used to help promote this event. She’s going to speak to us later. Brooke, can you tell us a little bit about fear for you, when you faced it, what you did about it.

Brooke: Apart from now?

Darren: Yeah.

Brooke: Probably one of the things that sticks out in my mind the most is the moment I realized that every single number on my analytics page was a person and they were judging me, in a nice way, I’m sure.

Darren: No, they get together.

Brooke: It’s a forum. It just caused me to question what I was writing about and question my voice. As a result of that, I got really boring. I started to write in the middle of the road. That was just purely based on fear because I didn’t want to offend anybody. I wanted people to like me. It took me quite a while to figure out that was the problem because I started to procrastinate. I didn’t write so well. I didn’t write with passion.

                    But once I figured out that that was the fear that was driving it, I wrote a post called 10 Things I’m Afraid to Tell You. I just put it out there. The response was amazing. I had lots of emails from people thanking me and thanking me for facing up to my fear. Because I actually spoke about things, some are small things and embarrassing things like enjoying 50 Shades of Grey.

Darren: It’s a bright book.

Brooke: It’s a fantastic book. But other things were quite big: struggled with depression, things like that. As a result, people really responded incredibly well. My main tip would be initially figure out what the fear is because you may not be sitting there and thinking, “I’m terrified of being judged.” You may be sitting there thinking, “I don’t want to write anymore. I’m a bit sick of this.” You just need to look deep into that and figure out if it’s a fear and then face it. As long as you’re not going to die. Face up to it.

Darren: Thank you, Brooke. Another obstacle, we’ve got two more to go, is sustainability. This is around profitability. A lot of bloggers I meet, particularly at this sort of conferences, how am I actually going to keep this going? How am I going to make it pay its way? This is certainly something I know is on the top of a lot of your minds at the moment. You may have built an audience. You may have built some community. You might’ve been able to get traction. You may have started to get interest from PR companies. But you can’t live off of free stuff. How am I actually going to make this pay its own way?

                    I’m not going to talk a whole heap about this now because this conference is on this particular topic and there’s a whole heap of sessions that can help you with it. There are a few things I’ll say. I’m just going to flip past this because we all know it takes a lot of time and work but there are probably 1.1% of my readers who think it’s easy and it’s going to be easy. If you’ve got that expectation, sorry.

                    There are no formulas and blueprints. That’s usually the same 1.1% who think that there’s a formula they can follow. I’m sorry. There’s not. Every successful blogger I’ve met has forged their own way. There are certainly principles that you see in a lot of them and we’ll talk about some of those over the next couple of days but each blogger is quite different and each situation is different.

                    Over time, things change as well in the wider context. A few years ago, sponsored posts weren’t that big in Australia but now, they seem to be being presented all the time. Things change in the wider context. And also, things change depending upon the stage of your blog as well. The way I used to monetize, it was only a limited option of ways I could do it in the early days but today, because my audience has grown, opens up new opportunities.

                    Profit usually comes around in exchange of value, I found. If you’re just thinking at the start of your journey of business model, ask yourself these sorts of questions. I think somewhere in the intersection of these things, you may find some ways of making profit. Who are your readers? What are their needs and challenges? How can I deliver value to those? Usually, the answer to profitability is somewhere in the midst of those. Your reader’s needs and serving your readers. That’s certainly the case if you have your own product. You can serve your readers needs and challenges by creating a product or a service to sell to them.

                    Same is true with advertising. Finding someone else’s product and selling space or affiliate marketing, it’s usually somewhere in the intersection of those things. Really, the key thing is to understand your readers and what they want and what they need.

                    For me, I guess monetization is just being a series of experimenting and tweaking of these. I reckon I’ve monetized my blogs or tried to monetize my blogs in about 40 ways over the last 10 years. Today, I do about seven. I’ve tried a lot of stuff and a lot of stuff didn’t work. But I found a few things where there were glimmers of hope and I continued to work on those things and tweak them and evolve them.

                    Over time, the more you experiment, the more you learn and the more you learn about your readers, the more you’ll start to logically see fit about how you can monetize your blogs. Again, we’ve got a whole heap of sessions on monetization so I’m not going to talk too much about it. But I’m going to get Trey up. Trey’s another one of our international speakers. He actually lives in New Zealand, but came in from San Fran and in two days, is going back again and then coming back to New Zealand.

Trey: Three.

Darren: Three trips in a week.

Trey: Yeah.

Darren: To and from America. Thank you.

Trey: Sure.

Darren: We’re all on camera. What are you doing? He’s got a Google glass. Trey, he’s a great photographer. He runs a great blog called Stuck in Customs. But a whole heap of other stuff has sort of flowed out of what you do. I know this is a massive topic to talk about in two minutes but can you tell us a little, maybe a story about when you faced sustainability and what you did?

Trey: Yeah. This is a story, it’s a nice story. When I was in college, I went to school in Texas at SMU. I was in computer science and math. That was sort of my thing. I was a huge Star Trek fan. I love The Next Generation. I especially love Patrick Stewart. I love that guy. Remember back then we used to watch TV and we won’t have a laptop on our laps. We would just watch TV. You just pay attention so you would really drink these guys in. I love that guy.

                    I was walking to a student union and I saw there’s a flyer on the wall that Patrick Stewart was coming to my college and he was going to be doing Shakespeare live on stage. I guess he’s staying true to his roots even though he’s doing the sci-fi stuff. But he loves Shakespeare so I got to go see him. I’m not in the theater department so okay, I’m going to go sneak in there. I headed and marked on my calendar. I went and I went the side door. Huge theater. Meadows auditorium, seats thousands and thousands of people.

                    I go in there and it’s completely empty except for two people that are sitting in the front row. I thought, “Oh my gosh, what’s going on? This is weird.” I went in and I sat down. And then I realized, “Oh my gosh. They’re just so bad at marketing this thing. Nobody actually came.” Patrick is going to be mortified. I felt really embarrassed for him and it was just a weird bouquet of feelings inside me. I was excited to see him but if felt bad.

                    So anyway, he came out. He’s like, “Oh.” And then he went off stage for a second and he came back and he brought three chairs. He says, “Would you guys like to come on stage with me?” We’re like, “Yes.” We all went up there. There were four seats all pointing at each other. He says, “Do you all mind if I perform The Merchant of Venice?” No. That would be great. He did the whole thing from memory. Acted the whole thing. every character, everything.

I’ll never forget it. At this one time, he started doing the soliloquy from Shylock and he’s wearing this old tweed sport coat. He was at this point and he slapped his chest and this dust just blew up and the lights were burning down. He was like acting to the dust. I was like, “Wow. This is so awesome.” Looking back on this, I realized, “Look, it doesn’t matter who shows up. He just loved Shakespeare. He was so happy to do it. There’s a purity to it there.”

I realized this. I did the blog. It’s been like seven years now. I did it forever. Just me and my mom showed up on the lonely thing. I did it because I loved it. He did Shakespeare because he loved it. He doesn’t really make his money from Shakespeare, does he? He just loves acting even though the core is this very niche thing that he got into, Shakespeare. He made his money from Star Trek and doing other shows that’s dealt on the ancillary of this.

The two lessons I pulled out of this are one, you just do what you love. It doesn’t matter who shows up. You just can’t help but do it. This was very much his essence. The other half of it is that even on the core was this tight, niche-y Shakespeare thing that only he and very few other people actually really care about in the world, that is what drove him and he took ancillary things to make money that are related to that.

There’s a whole lot of ways to make money on the internet. As long as you get really tight into your core and experiment, that was perfectly said. Just massive amounts of experimentation around things that are directly or indirectly related to this area of expertise that you accidentally fall into just because of love.

Darren: Thank you very much, Trey. It’s so true that most of the people I see making a living from blogging actually started out just talking about their love. They say it’s a bonus that they get paid to do what they used to talk to their mates or annoy their mates with, talking about all the time. That’s certainly my case. That’s great. Thank you, Trey.

                    The last obstacle, and I almost didn’t want to talk about this one because I say it in the Australian blogger sphere quite a bit. I know it causes angst and I know sometimes it causes a bit of controversy but I just see so many bloggers get caught up in this and I have at times, and so, I want to go there. I hope you’ll let me.

                    The comparison game. I’d say it’s a comparison trap. I wrote about this on ProBlogger the other day. It’s probably the biggest read post on ProBlogger over the last year. I talked about the story of one blogger who I called Selly, but that’s not her real name. She’s an Aussie blogger who started a blog and three months later, her blog died because she fell into the comparison trap. She started her blog because she admired another blogger and she came across this blogger and she admired her. And so, she was inspired by her. She started her blog and modelled herself on this blogger and then gradually, day by day, she became more and more in the comparison game.

                    She started to look at how this other blogger wrote and felt insufficient in the way she wrote. She worked and worked and worked on posts, and sometimes, there’ll be a week between posts because she was trying to perfect it to get to point where it was like this other blogger. And so, her writing stopped over time. She began to compare how this person used social media and she started to want to emulate her and then started to become jealous of her and started to become angry because this person did it so much better.

                    The comparison game led her down this path where she compared herself in so many different ways. She became not a blogger, but a comparer. She actually became more obsessed with the comparisons than the actually blogging. It’s a fairly extreme example of it, but I think most of us at one time or another, if we’re honest, we’ll know that we played this game. It can take us in terrible directions to do some things that we’re not proud of as well. I certainly have gone there myself.

                    I felt this when I first started out. I used to admire some bloggers who inspired me to start my first blog and I used to try and write in their style. Their style was very deep and analytical and thinking type post. I don’t even know the words to describe their style of writing because I’m just not that kind of person. I remember writing, trying to write those type of posts in the early days and those posts were just the worst posts I’ve ever written. No one ever commented on them because I don’t think anyone understood them.

                    I discovered after a few months that my style was more conversational. I’m really glad I did. I’m glad I didn’t continue to go down that path of comparing. I guess I forged my path in different ways. I want to encourage you if you’re in this tempting area and it’s tempting. You go on Twitter and you think, “I’ll just see what they’re saying today. I’ll just see if they’re saying something about me or that could be about me.”

                    If you’re that type of person or if you’re a comparer, if you’re looking at other people’s stats or how many comments they get, I want to encourage you to realize the comparisons you’re making are just not fair. You are comparing everything you know about yourself to snippets of what they’re showing about themselves. It’s not that they’re hiding themselves, those other things about themselves, they’re just showing naturally the things that they’re proud of. And so, your comparison is not fair. They’re showing the best of what they’re doing and you know everything about you. It’s not just the best. It’s the worst as well. The comparison’s just not fair.

                    If you’re going to compare, compare yourself  to yourself when you started out. That’s one of the things that I didn’t actually realize I was doing, this is what I did in the early days of my blog. What I used to do is at the end of every month, I look at my stats and I compare them to last month’s stats and I tried to get my personal best. In the same way an athlete uses their personal best, I use my personal best with my blogs.

                    When I started to earn income, that’s when I started to compare my income to myself last month. I went for my record month. That became my obsession. Maybe that was a little bit unhealthy in some ways but I think it’s probably a better obsession than trying to beat someone else. Compare yourself to yourself.

                    You are unique. Use that as your competitive advantage. That’s hard to do. It’s hard to find how to do that but most bloggers that find their voice, that’s what they do. They actually use their weaknesses. They use their failures as part of their story to actually make themselves unique. Everyone’s writing about the same things but no one has your story. Use that story. It’s what makes you unique.

                    The last thing I found is you are so much more than your successes and what other people say about you. I think as humans beings, we naturally compare ourselves all the time. We naturally think about our self worth based on whether we succeed or what other people say about us. They’re the two things I think most of us judge our self with on. We feel good about ourselves when we succeed and when other people say good stuff about ourselves.

                    If that’s where we get our self worth from, we’re in for trouble because we all fail. At times, other people won’t ever say nothing about us or crap about us as well. You’ve got to get your self worth from somewhere else. For me, that comes from spirituality, comes from spirituality, comes from a whole heap of other things. I’m not sure where your self worth comes from but I encourage you to look elsewhere than how well you’re doing on your blog, how many Twitter followers you have, how many readers you have, how much money you have, and what other people say about you. You’re so much more worthwhile than any of those things so don’t allow yourselves to compare in that way.

                    I want to get one last person up, Phoebe. Phoebe is going to come. Phoebe is from Melbourne. Phoebe spoke at our second ProBlogger event. I remember I was in the other room when Phoebe got up to speak and tweet out when completely off in the next room, as Phoebe talks.

Phoebe:         I still do.

Darren:         You still do, thank goodness. Can you tell us a little bit about the comparison game? You’re in the fashion blogging space. That wouldn’t be a comparative sort of…

Phoebe: Oh no, that’s not judgmental at all. Are there fashion bloggers here? Are there people that maybe don’t blog about fashion but put photos of yourself? Yeah, okay. I know you’re out there. What you find when you put yourself online and put photos of yourself online, that you’re open to judgment and you’re open to compare yourself with other people. I am seven years into my blogging career and last year, a new blogging fashion network opened up, called Felt, which is based out of Sydney.

                    It was based on an American business model where it was exclusive. It was invitation only. They only worked with, at that stage when they started, I think five bloggers, fashion bloggers. I wasn’t invited. I always like to think that I was somewhat at the top of my game, that I still had a readership a long time into my blogging career. I was just scratching my head, what have I done? What am I not doing right? Why don’t these people like me?

The girls that were chosen were very young. I’m over 30, believe it or not. They were all about 18, 19, 6ft, two of them ex models, weighed 50 kilos. Not me. I had read and followed their blogs. I just sat with my head in my hands and I thought, “What is my value? Why am I doing this? If this is what is being held up as a pinnacle in my industry and within fashion blogging, what is my value?”

I rang one of my girlfriends and she said, “This is just bad for your health. You need to stop this.” She said, “And of all people, Phoebe, you should know better.” I said, “Yeah, I know but it just gets me. It got to me.” She goes, “What are you going to do about it?” I said, “Lose 10 kilos and grow a couple of feet.” She said, “No, you’re not going to do that.” She said, “You need to write about it,” And so, I did. I wrote a two part series because the fashion blogger sphere and Twitter sphere went nuts when it was launched.

I’ve always seen blogging as community based. I’m very generous with my time, knowledge. I’ll tell you anything you want to know about blogging. I won’t charge you unless you’re a corporation. It had always been about positivity and fostering inclusion. It went against this very tight exclusive group, everything that I thought blogging was about, so I wrote about it.

I turned inward and I switched off. I unfollowed them all on Twitter. I unfollowed them on Instagram. I switched off from their blogs for a while. I looked inward. I wrote a two part series. Those blog posts were picked up by AAP and Patty Huntington, who’s one of Australia’s most well known fashion bloggers. She’s a former journalist and she actually referenced that post just last week, again.

What I had perceived as a comparison that really got me down, I turned into a positive because I thought, “If I don’t do this, it’s going to throw up every other fear we’ve talked about today. Fear, roadblock, writer’s block, and it’s not going to be sustainable for me.

Darren: Thanks so much, Phoebe.

Phoebe: You’re welcome.

Darren: Thanks Phoebe and thanks to the other people who’ve come and shared. I really appreciate people going to those places and sharing those sorts of things, honestly. I hope that that encourages you. We all face these obstacles that we’ve been talking about today.

                    How are we going to finish this off? I was talking to a hurdler recently at a party. Kind of lucky talking about obstacles, hurdles, and things like that. He’s not an Olympic hurdler or anything like that, he competes in a local competition. I said to him, “So tell me, how do you become a great hurdler?” He said this, “You jump over a lot of hurdles.” Effectively, what he told me is that to become a great jumper of obstacles and hurdles, you need to jump over a lot of obstacles and hurdles.

Every time you jump over one, you exercise your muscles and they become stronger. You learn how to keep momentum going when you jump over hurdles. Sometimes, you jump into hurdles and you crash and hurt yourself and you learn how not to jump in over hurdles. The only way we get through this stuff is to confront it. The only way we’re going to face our fears and stop comparing ourselves with others, to actually about and to do it. I really want this event to be an event that challenges us to do that. I really would encourage you as you go into the next couple of days to keep these obstacles in front of your mind and to talk about them and ask questions about them and to take them on rather than run around them.

You can see obstacles as hurdles or you can see them as fences that contain you. When you start seeing them as fences that contain you, you actually stop yourself and you contain yourself. So I encourage you, over the next couple of days, we’re going to get through these obstacles and I really hope that that’s the case for you.

That wraps up our keynote from 2013. I hope you found it beneficial for the different challenges that you face at the moment. I would love to hear what you think about this week’s episode. You can leave a comment over on our show notes over at problogger.com/podcast/205 or you can check out our Facebook group. If you just do a search on Facebook for ProBlogger community or go to problogger.com/group, you’ll find it. Just apply to join if you haven’t already and you can leave your reaction to that episode, that keynote there as well.

Also on the show notes, I’m going to link to some further listening and some further reading as well. As I said at the top of the show, I’ll link to each of the five bloggers that I interviewed: Tsh, Amy, Trey, Phoebe, and Brooke. All of their blogs in details will be listed there as well. Also, I’ll link to the blog post that Brooke mentioned in her interview, the 10 things that she was scared to tell her readers. You can go and check that one out as well if you’d like.

Also, I’ve got some further listening for you. If you want to learn a little bit more about blogger’s block, I did mention three different types of blogger’s block in that particular episode, go and check out episode 83, where I talked about those three types of blogger’s block. And then in episodes 84, 86, and 87, not 85, there’s a bit of a break in that series. I did talk about the three types of blogger’s block and give you some tips on how to get through it.

If that’s something you’re facing at the moment, go look at episode 83 right through to 87, really. And then episode 54, I talk about fear. I go deeper into those three questions to ask when you are facing fear. Lastly, there is a post over on the show notes about the comparison game if that is something that you are struggling with at the moment, comparing yourself to other bloggers.

Whatever it is that you’re facing at the moment, I really do hope that today’s episode has helped you just to push through it a little bit, to keep going, to persist, some of the things that we talked about at this year’s event as well was persisting and really going through those tough times, it’s when we lean into our fear. It’s when we push into those challenges. It’s when we exercise jumping over those challenges that we do really often see growth come out of these periods that could stop us from blogging. If you’re in one of those spaces at the moment, it could actually be just one of those things that you need to push through that’s going to grow your blog, that’s actually going to grow you as a blogger as well.

Love to hear from you. Come and join us in the Facebook group and next week, we’ll be back to our normal schedule. No more event keynotes. I’ve got some stuff planned for you. We’ve got some interviews and we’re going to talk about some cool tools as well in the coming weeks as well.

Thanks for listening. Chat with you next week in episode 206.

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