Tag Archives: Start a Blog

10 Blogging ‘Firsts’ to Celebrate (From Launch Onwards)

Do you ever look at other bloggers and feel you’ll never catch up to where they are?

Perhaps they have hundreds – or thousands, or even hundreds of thousands – of subscribers to their email newsletter. Maybe they’re making a full-time living blogging, or even employing a whole team of staff.

If you’re still in the early stages of blogging, it can seem like no matter how hard you work you’re not really achieving anything at all.

But you are.

Every little step you take brings you closer to your goals. And today I want you to think about the milestones you’ve already achieved (or are close to achieving).

For each milestone I’ll share links to further help and guidance on ProBlogger, and a note on where you can get help with that particular milestone in:

Before we begin, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to hit these milestones in order. There’s no right way to reach them, and you may want to tackle ‘writing a guest post’ long before you get your first comment on your blog.

Milestone #1: Creating Your Blog Itself

This is a huge milestone, and one many would-be bloggers never actually achieve. Launching your blog is a real achievement, so celebrate it.

You may not have written any posts yet. Your blog might not look quite the way you want it to. And you may feel confused or a bit lost when you stare at the WordPress dashboard. But your blog is online, and that’s what matters. You can keep learning and tweaking as you go forward.

Further Reading:

Which is the Best Blog Hosting Solution?

When DIY Blogging isn’t for You: 5 Alternatives to Self-Hosted WordPress

Take the Course:

Completing our free course, Ultimate Guide to Starting Your Blog, will help you get ready to launch. But Step 7 in particular will guide you through the process of getting your blog up and running.

Milestone #2: Publishing Your First Post

You might well have written your first post before you launch your blog. But whether you did or not, publishing your very first blog post is always something to celebrate.

Hitting ‘Publish’ on that first piece might feel daunting (or even terrifying), but from here onwards it will get easier.

One post might feel very insignificant. But all bloggers started with zero posts. And that one post could be the start of a major project, or even a whole new career.

Further Reading:

5 Things to Do after You Hit ‘Publish’ on Your Next Blog Post

What You Need to Have Ready Before You Launch Your Blog (podcast)

Take the Course:

Hopefully, post #1 will be the first of many. To learn more about the content creation process, check out Day 7 of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, which covers the publishing process.

Milestone #3: Receiving Your First Comment

The first comment you receive on your blog is a real achievement. Someone isn’t just reading. They’re taking the time to respond.

If you share your blog with friends and family, hopefully at least one of them will leave a comment. But you may want to look for other new bloggers (perhaps in a group such as the ProBlogger Community), and make a point of commenting on their posts. Hopefully they’ll return the favour and comment on yours.

Further Reading:

Five Ways to Encourage Readers to Comment More Often on Your Posts

A Commenting System to Rule Them All: Why Choosing the Right Comment System can Make or Break Your Blog

Take the Course:

To learn how to create content readers will pay attention to (and hopefully comment on), take a look at Day 16: Get Your Reader’s Attention in 31 Days to Build a Better Blog.

Milestone #4: Getting Your First Email Subscriber

Just getting an email list set up can be a challenge for many new bloggers. So if you’ve managed that, congratulations. Hopefully it won’t be long before you have your very first subscriber.

One subscriber might seem like a tiny drop in a very large ocean. But if you can persuade one person to sign up for your email list, you can persuade more. Soon you’ll be able to celebrate 10 subscribers, and then 100.

Further Reading:

6 Reasons Why Your Blog Needs an Email Newsletter

How I Increased the Subscriber Rate on My Blogs by 80 – 1000% (podcast)

Take the Course:

For help with setting up your email list, check out the bonus module to the Ultimate Start a Blog Course: Your Blog’s Email List. (You’ll receive this bonus module at the end of the course once you’ve worked through the launch process.)

Milestone #5: Sending Your First Email Newsletter

You’ve got your email list set up, and people have subscribed and received your welcome message. Now it’s time to send out your very first email newsletter.

If you’re writing separate content for your email newsletter (rather than just sending out your blog posts), it can feel like a waste of time creating newsletters for the three people on your email list – especially if they’re your mum, dad and big sister. But all the newsletters you write will be archived by your mailing list provider, so you can link to them from future newsletters or even your blog.

Further Reading:

3 Examples of Content You Can Include in Your Email Newsletter

7 Common Newsletter Problems Solved 

Take the Course:

For help with writing and sending your first email newsletter, take a look at Day 19: Newsletter of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog.

Milestone #6: Getting Your First Tweet or Share

When someone shares one of your posts on Twitter or Facebook, their followers or friends might click through to read it – potentially bringing you lots of new readers.

Even if you don’t get a single new reader from your first tweet/share, it’s still a lovely moment. Someone cared about your blog post enough to want to tell everyone they know about it.

Most bloggers (even those who get a lot of tweets) think it’s nice to say “Thanks” to people who share their posts. This can be a great way to build a relationship with your readers, who may be well on their way to becoming firm fans.

Further Reading:

How to Get Top Bloggers to Share Your Content and Boost Your Traffic

The Step-by-Step Method to Making Your Content Shareable on Social Media

Take the Course:

The bonus module ‘Your Blog’s Social Media’ (part of the Ultimate Guide to Starting a Blog course) helps you get set up with Facebook, Twitter and so on.

Milestone #7: Reading Your First Email from a Reader

Once you’ve been blogging for a few weeks or months, you might be quite used to getting comments, tweets, shares and so on.

But your first actual email from a reader, though can feel very special. It might be a reply to your newsletter, perhaps saying, “This is just what I needed to read. Thank you!” Or it might come as a message through your contact page, with a reader telling you how much they enjoy your blog.

Save any emails like this somewhere safe. You might want to give them a particular tag in Gmail, or even copy them into a separate file. On the days when blogging feels like a lot of hard work for little reward, re-read them. They might make all the difference.

Further Reading:

How to Create an Efficient Contact Page That Boosts Your Productivity 

Optimize the Most Underutilized Page of Your Blog

Take the Course:

Getting emails from readers is lovely. But emailing your readers individually can be a great way to grow your blog in the early weeks and months. For help with this, check out Day 25: Personally Email Your Readers in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog course.

Milestone #8: Writing Your First Forum or Group Post

Not all bloggers want to join forums or groups. But if you’re willing to give them a try they can be a brilliant source of help and support – no matter what stage you’re at.

Writing your first post on a blogging-related forum or in a blogging-related Facebook group can feel daunting. But simply ‘lurking’ and reading other people’s posts won’t be nearly so helpful to you.

Many people begin by writing an introduction post, which can be a good way to start. But you’ll get a better response from starting a new topic where you ask a question.

That might be a question relating to something you’re struggling with (“I can’t seem to get Google Analytics working and I don’t know what I’m doing wrong”). Or it could be an open-ended question that engages others (e.g. “What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from blogging in the past six months?”)

If you’d like to be part of a friendly and supportive Facebook group for bloggers, check out the ProBlogger Community.

Further Reading:

5 Ways You Can Use Facebook Groups to Benefit Your Blog

How LinkedIn Groups Can Explode Your Blog Traffic

Take the Course:

For more help with joining groups and networking, check out Day 11: Engage and Network in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog course.

Milestone #9: Writing Your First Guest Post

This is a milestone some bloggers feel they’re not ready for. But the truth is you’re probably more ready than you think.

Writing your first guest post for another blog is a great way to get your name out there and to bring in more readers. Many large blogs accept guest posts, and they won’t normally care how big or well known your own blog is. They just care about how well you can write.

Guest posting is a huge topic we’ve covered in depth on ProBlogger (see the Further Reading below). But the most important thing to remember is the worst anyone can say is “No”. Even if you reach out with a post and it’s rejected, you can simply try another blog.

Further Reading:

7 Powerful Non-SEO Reasons to Try Guest Posting

How to Craft an Outstanding Guest Post 

Take the Course:

Day 21: Guest Posting in 31 Days to Build a Better Blog covers what you need to know to have a great chance of success with your guest posts.

Milestone #10: Making Your First Dollar

Not all bloggers want to make money. But if you do, making your very first dollar is a crucial milestone.

You might think one dollar is hardly worth celebrating. But that one dollar shows it’s possible to make money from your blog. If you can make one dollar, you can make ten. If you can make ten, you can make a hundred. And so on.

That first dollar might come from any number of means. It could be advertising revenue, or an affiliate commision. It might be a donation, or someone supporting you on Patreon. It might be your first sale (or a fraction of it) after you’ve launched a product.

However you make that dollar, it’s well worth celebrating.

Further Reading:

The Full Blog Monetization Menu – 60+ Ways to Make Money With Your Blog

Make Money Blogging

Take the Course:

For lots of help on making money, check out Day 14: When and How to Make Money Blogging in 31 Days to Build a Better Blog.

All these ‘firsts’ are ones you could reach quite early on in the life of your blog – potentially in the first few weeks. But if it’s taken you longer than that, please don’t feel there’s anything wrong with your blog or your approach to blogging. Gradual, steady progress is still progress.

Once you’ve been blogging for a full year, you might want to see how many of these milestones you’ve managed to achieve . You might also want to evaluate how that first year went for you.

Here’s a quick recap of all the “firsts” we’ve covered:

  • Milestone #1: Creating Your Blog Itself
  • Milestone #2: Publishing Your First Post
  • Milestone #3: Receiving Your First Comment
  • Milestone #4: Getting Your First Email Subscriber
  • Milestone #5: Sending Your First Email Newsletter
  • Milestone #6: Getting Your First Tweet or Share
  • Milestone #7: Reading Your First Email from a Reader
  • Milestone #8: Writing Your First Forum or Group Post
  • Milestone #9: Writing Your First Guest Post
  • Milestone #10: Making Your First Dollar

Which of these have you already achieved?

Which one are you working towards next? How will you go about it (especially if it’s something you can only influence or encourage rather than control)? Leave a comment below to tell us.

Photo credit: Social Cut

The post 10 Blogging ‘Firsts’ to Celebrate (From Launch Onwards) appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

Should Your Blog Have a Static Homepage (Whatever That Means)?

Should your blog have a static homepage?Open up a new tab in your browser and go to the homepage of your blog.

What do you see?

There’s a good chance you see your most recent posts. This is, after all, what most WordPress themes default do. And if you’ve been blogging for a long time, it might be how you expect a blog’s homepage to look.

For some bloggers, it’s a perfectly good choice. But for others, a list of posts isn’t what they want first-time readers to see.

Many large blogs use a static homepage to quickly introduce who they are and what they do, and to point readers towards specific actions (which might well include reading their blog).

Here’s the difference:

Tim Ferriss’s homepage is a classic blog one, with the most recent post at the top:

Copyblogger’s homepage, by contrast, is a static one:

Of course, many blogs with static homepages list their most recent posts. For instance, on ProBlogger we have our latest posts and podcasts listed on the homepage:

But we also have lots of other elements, such as our “I need help to…” section that links to our different portals, all designed to meet different readers’ needs.

Could a Static Homepage Be the Next Step for Your Blog?

In the podcast episode on 3 Key Things Bloggers Do to Grow Their Blogs into Businesses, I talked about how blog homepages have evolved over the years – from the long list of full posts that was standard when I started in 2002, to the portal-like static homepages that are becoming increasingly common today.

As John Stevens puts it in his post The 9 Conversion Habits of the World’s Most Successful Bloggers:

Create a homepage instead of directing users straight to your latest blog posts. This gives you an opportunity to do so much more than just make them read your latest content.

So should you consider shifting your home page from a classic list of blog posts to a static page?

Absolutely.

But first, here’s something to think about.

How Does Your Blog Make Money?

If you make money from advertising, it makes sense to design your blog to maximise page views. Having a list of blog posts as the front page might be working perfectly well for you here. And you may not have much else you want to point readers towards, anyway.

But if you make money from selling products or services, a static homepage would likely be a better fit for you. It lets you get them right in front of new readers, rather than having them tucked away on your sidebar.

If you use your blog in a slightly different way – as a showcase for your writing, perhaps, or as a way to build recognition within your industry – then either type of homepage can work just fine. You might want to look at what people with similar blogs are doing.

How to Create a Static Homepage

The good news is that (technically speaking), it’s easy to set up a static homepage on any WordPress blog.

Here’s what you need to do.

Create Your Homepage Itself

#1: Log in to your WordPress dashboard, and click “Add Page”.

#2: Create the new page with whatever content you want there. (We’ll come to what you might include in a moment.)

#3: (Optional) Remove the sidebar(s) from your new page. Find the Page Attributes box (probably on the right hand side of your screen), and under ‘Template’ select a ‘No sidebars’ or ‘Full width’ option. (This is available in most themes.)

It’s up to you what title you choose for your page. “Welcome” or “Home” can work fine, or you can just leave it off if you don’t want a title on your homepage. (You can still publish the page without a title.)

Set Your New Page as Your Homepage

#1: Go to Settings → Reading. Under “Your Homepage Displays”, select “A static page”.

#2: In the “Homepage” drop down, select the new page.

#3: Click the blue “Save Changes” button at the bottom of the page.

Now, when you visit your blog’s homepage, you should see your new page there rather than your latest blog posts. You can easily toggle it back if you want to just test it out for now. Just change the “Your Homepage Displays” setting to “Your latest posts”.

What Should You Include On a Static Homepage?

It’s entirely up to you what you put on your homepage. However, most bloggers have most (if not all) of the following:

#1: A mission statement or value statement, making it clear what readers can expect from the blog, or from you.

For instance, Rachel Corbett’s personal blog describes her on the homepage:

On Digital Photography School’s homepage, we have:

#2: A newsletter signup button or form. Many blogs feature this prominently on their homepage, as getting new visitors onto your email list is a great way to make sure you can stay in touch.

Here on ProBlogger, we have an orange “Subscribe to ProbloggerPlus” button near the top of our homepage, and a signup form at the bottom.

#3: Links to your most recent blog posts. Many static homepages include the title and featured image from the post, as we do on ProBlogger.

Some bloggers also include excerpts from posts. But if you do this, be careful your homepage doesn’t end up looking cluttered. Brooke from Her Packing List keeps her recent posts (with excerpts) section looking clean by including only three of her latest posts in a clearly defined space on a contrasting background.

#4: A link to your blog. (You can include this whether or not you included your latest posts.) This might well be an image or button to click on. On ProBlogger, we have “View All Posts” beneath the list of our three most recent posts.

#5: A link to a “Start Here” page, or potentially to several starting points. Large, long-running blogs often include these to help new readers find their feet quickly. On Planning With Kids, for instance, Nicole Avery has this section on her homepage.

As I said, you don’t need to include all these elements. But each of them is worth carefully considering.

How to Make Your Static Homepage Look Great

WordPress’s default themes tend to be set up for classic blog homepages. So if you’re using the theme that came pre-installed on your blog (or even a different free theme), you may want to consider investing in a premium theme that lets you include dynamic content, such as a list of recent blog posts.

This type of theme will give you far more control over your homepage, and a great-looking professional design too.

We recommend (and are affiliates of) Thrive Themes and StudioPress, which means we receive a commission if you purchase via our links below.

One we use extensively is Thrive Architect, a page builder by Thrive Themes you can use to design your whole site, your sales pages and other landing pages. And it works in conjunction with Thrive’s conversion-focused WordPress themes or any WordPress theme of your choice. It’s especially good for homepage design with it’s full-width and vertical split layout options.

Another good static homepage solution is the themes by StudioPress (our whole team has used their themes at one point). These are specifically designed for different niches and business types. Here are a few examples.

You might want to look at other people’s static homepages for inspiration. (StudioPress has a great Showcase gallery for that.) Which ones look attractive and engaging, and why?

But don’t pack your homepage with too many different options. Focus on the things readers will most likely want to do (e.g. read some of your best posts), and the things you want them to do (e.g. find your email list).

Which Type of Homepage Would Be Right for Your Blog?

If you blog as a hobby, or your priority is driving page views, it may be worth sticking with the default blog homepage. (Some bloggers also feel this is a more “authentic” approach, which may or may not be important for your target audience.)

But if you make money selling products or services, it’s probably worth switching to a static homepage. This allows you to carefully direct readers’ experience from the moment they land on your site.

You may already have a static homepage in place. If you do, take a few minutes to review it. Make sure the information there is fully up to date, and that you’re using the page to carefully guide readers to the most important parts of your site.

Are you thinking of changing your homepage? Or are you confident that what you already have is right for you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image credit: George Coletrain

The post Should Your Blog Have a Static Homepage (Whatever That Means)? appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

247: How to Create a Blog on a Topic You’re Not an Expert In

Starting a Blog on a Topic Where You’re Not an Expert

Can you start a new blog when you’re not an expert on the topic you’ll be writing about? Of course you can. You can blog about any topic you like. But should you blog about a topic you don’t have any expertise in?

I think it’s okay to start a blog on a topic you don’t know a lot about. I certainly wasn’t an expert when I started my blogs. I had some experience, but I was far from being an expert. I’m not sure I even consider myself an expert now.

Part of the success I’ve had with my blogs is due to the factI wasn’t an expert. Experts are great, but they sometimes come across as inaccessible or unrelatable.

And not being an expert gave my blogs a sense of momentum and excitement. I was actively learning, growing, improving, and sharing with my readers.

Here are a few tips to help you get started with your new blog and topic:

  • Be ethical and transparent. Be upfront about who you are, how much experience you have, and why you’re blogging.
  • Be careful about the content you post. Avoid teaching or giving advice beyond what you know.
  • Actively pursue learning. You may not be an expert yet, but your growth helps people connect with you and your blog.

What kind of content should you create if you’re not an expert? What interests you about the topic? What grabs your attention about it?

Here are some content sources:

  • Personal stories
  • Case studies
  • Interviews
  • Guest content
  • News items
  • Curated content
  • Research results
  • Answers to discussion questions

Links and Resources for How to Create a Blog on a Topic You’re Not an Expert In:

Further Listening

Courses

Join our Facebook group

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

Hey there, welcome to episode 247 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name’s Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast, event, job board, series of ebooks, and courses all designed to help you to grow an amazing blog that changes the world in some way, but also hopefully, is profitable for you. You can learn more about what we do at ProBlogger over at problogger.com.

Now, in today’s episode, I want to talk about something that I get asked quite often about from people thinking about starting a new blog, but also from some who have already started who have doubts and insecurities around this kind of topic.

It’s something that I know there’s probably a variety of opinions on, but which I have a fairly strong one on as well. The question that I get asked is, “Should you start a blog on a topic that you don’t have expertise in?” I want to say right up front, I think you could or even should. I think there’s definitely a case for it, and in this episode, I want to tell you why, but I also want to, more importantly, give you some tips on how to do that, because this is something I know a lot of people do struggle with.

“I’ve got this blog on a topic, I’m not really sure, I feel secure enough in this topic,” you have these doubts that nag at you. I want to give you some ideas of the type of content that you can create if you don’t yet feel like you’re enough of an expert in that topic.

You can find today’s show notes with a full transcription of today’s show at problogger.com/podcast/247.

Before I get into today’s show, I just want to say thank you because I have received some wonderful emails over the last few days from readers, some lovely messages on Twitter particularly. I’ve been trying a few new things on Twitter recently, just giving you a little bit more advice on a more of a personal self-development level and I’ve loved the conversation that’s come from those.

I’ve had some beautiful little reviews coming on iTunes. I had carolinaprincess843 from the US iTunes, “I love listening to Darren on my way to work, he puts things in a way that is easy to understand.” Thank You carolinaprincess.

Crumbsanddirtydishes from the UK left a little review on the 30th of April, “A brilliant podcast offering practical and actionable tips. Darren is so insightful and provides so much value for anyone looking to start, grow, or develop their blog. A must listen for all bloggers.” Thank you for that crumbsanddirtydishes. I love these names.

MichaelCowell said, “Great to listen to someone so passionate, honest, and knowledgeable about their profession. I’ve recommended this podcast for so many people. I look forward to every new episode.” Thank you Michael and I do appreciate you passing it on.

I just wanted to start off by saying thank you, I’m very grateful for you as listeners of this podcast and I look forward to powering on, as we go towards episode 250 and beyond. With that said, let’s get into today’s show.

Can you or perhaps more accurately should you have a blog on a topic that you’re not yet an expert in? It’s something I get asked regularly, and I’ve heard it answered in a variety of ways. I know some people feel quite passionately that you shouldn’t have a blog that you’re not an expert in, or that you don’t have some knowledge in, or a higher level of knowledge.

I want to put it out there that I think it’s okay to do that with some certain qualifications around that. I want to give you those qualifications. I want to give you some words of warning and some advice on how to approach it, and then I want to finish this episode by going through some different types of content that I think you might want to start with if this is the position that you find yourself in.

Yes, I think you can. Of course, there’s nothing stopping anyone blogging on any topic they like, really, free speech is something that most of us have the right to. Although, I’m actually very aware that there’s a segment of our audience listening to this podcast who I hear from time-to-time who don’t have that right of free speech depending upon where they live and the circumstances they’re in. I want to put that qualification out there.

I think for most people listening to this podcast, we do have the right to really talk about anything that we want to talk about. I guess the question is, should you tackle a topic that you don’t yet have that experience in? I’ve already said up front that my answer is, yes. I want to go a little bit deeper and put some qualifications around that before I give you these tips on the type of content.

I also want to say right up front that what I’m going to share today really does come from my own personal experience because both of the blogs that I have today, ProBlogger and Digital Photography School, I would say that when I started them in both cases, I didn’t really feel like an expert and in fact I wasn’t an expert. I’m still not even sure I would see myself as an expert today, particularly in my photography blog.

When I started ProBlogger in 2004, I’ve been blogging for about two years, so I did have some experience of blogging, but I was very new to the idea of making money from blogging. I’ve probably been doing that for less than a year and when I started ProBlogger, I was still at a part-time level. I wasn’t a professional blogger. I wasn’t a full-time blogger by any means. I never claimed to be that when I started ProBlogger.

I didn’t start ProBlogger as an expert, although, I guess, I was probably one of the first people in the world to get to the level that I was at as a part-time blogger

Relatively speaking, maybe some people could have said I was an expert because no one was really doing it, but I certainly didn’t feel like an expert. I had doubts about whether I should start that blog.

The same is true with Digital Photography. When I first started writing on that topic and that was back in 2003 on a very early blog, I was reviewing cameras. That first blog I only owned one digital camera and I’d only had it for a few months. I was writing about my experience with this first ever digital camera that I had.

I had had some experience with film camera, I knew the basics of photography, but I wasn’t an expert. I’ve photographed a few friends weddings with previous cameras, but never with digital. I really did have a lack of experience and expertise in that particular topic.

When I started Digital Photography School a few years later, again, I didn’t see myself as a professional photographer. There were doubts in my mind, should I be doing this and I guess what I did is started a blog for beginners because I felt like I could teach them and that’s a big part of what I want to talk about today. It’s actually thinking about who your blog is for, and pitching it for people who it’s appropriate for, and who you can actually help.

I look at both ProBlogger and Digital Photography School today and whilst I had started both of those blogs with these insecurities, and with doubts, and with the idea of impostor syndrome which I’ve talked about on this podcast before.

I actually look at both of the blogs that I’ve built today and I think one of the foundations and one of the things that did help those blogs is that I wasn’t an expert. I actually think it’s an advantage in some ways to start as someone who is still learning about your topic.

I’ve met numerous of my early readers over the years and one of the things that I hear again and again from those who’ve been reading my blogs from the early days is that they found my blogs very relatable. They found them accessible.

Experts are great, but sometimes experts can come across as inaccessible or unrelatable. This doesn’t always happen, some experts are very good at talking to beginners, but a complete beginner on a topic may find it hard to connect with someone who has years of experience and who is seen as a guru.

On some levels we want to learn from experts, but on other levels I can feel like they’re in another stratosphere to us and not relatable, but someone who’s just ahead of a beginner will use language that a beginner can access, and they’ll come from a position of understanding the place of that beginner.

In the case of ProBlogger particularly, I think what made it attractive in the early days was that I wasn’t an expert, and I was just sharing what I was learning, and I was sharing it with people who were perhaps just a step or two behind me in the journey.

I was incredibly active in my learning, I was growing, I was improving, and I was sharing what I was learning with my readers and that created a sense of excitement that I’m not sure I would have been able to create on that blog if I was sharing it with years of experience about the topic.

You can actually use the fact that you’re not an expert to your advantage in some ways. Before I get into some tips, I wanted to share those stories of me starting out in that way because I want to encourage you that if you are at the beginning of your journey of your topic that that’s okay, but you want to do it carefully, and that’s what I want to move into now.

I want to give you three qualifications if you do decide to blog on a topic that you’re not an expert in and this may be the topic of your whole blog or it may be that you want to add a category to your blog that you’re not an expert in. There’s three things that I want to say that you want to kind of be a little bit wary about.

Firstly, I think it’s really important to be transparent, to be ethical, in the way that you present yourself and in the case of both Digital Photography School and ProBlogger; I was really upfront about who I was, what my experience was with the topic.

I remember in both cases, in the early days of those blogs, probably the first week or two of both of those blogs, I put up posts telling my story, which was all about showing the level that I was at, but also why I was starting that blog.

I was really clear that I wanted to share what I’d already learned, but what I was learning and I wanted to gather other people who had experience as well, to give a place for them to talk about what they were learning as well.

I put those stories up as blog post, also on my about page, so anyone clicking to those blogs in the early days, particularly, would see my story, who I was and where I was coming from, the position I was taking.

I reckon, I probably put off some readers of my blog by doing that and by saying, “I’m not an expert,” but I also as I’ve said before, I think I made my blogs a little bit more relatable as well.

I think there’s nothing worse than reading a blog by someone who claims or implies expertise, who doesn’t have it. It usually shines through in the writing that you don’t have that expertise, but it can also set you up for a fall later, if you get found out to not be an expert. Whatever you do, don’t claim to be an expert and don’t let your lack of transparency imply that you’re an expert either. It is really important.

Put up who you are, put up where you’re coming from on your “About” page in your sidebar, if you want to. You can actually build it into your tagline if you want. A beginner or an enthusiast or someone who’s curious about this topic, you can actually put that up front and you’ll find that that does make you a little bit more relatable.

Number one, I think it’s important to be transparent. Number two, I think you should be careful about the type of blog that you create.

If you go back to the early days of ProBlogger, you’ll see that the types of posts that I was writing were different from today. Today, we do a lot of more tutorials that are a little bit more authoritative, that built upon years of testing and experimenting, talking with people, gathering ideas.

Back in the early days of ProBlogger, I did occasionally do some teaching posts, they were very beginner focused, they were very short, they were almost always based upon something I’d experimented with. I’ll talk more about that in a moment.

Around these occasional teaching posts were lots of other kinds of posts that didn’t require expertise. That’s what I want to share with you in a moment. There’s so many different types of content that you can authentically do if you don’t have expertise. You want to be so careful of doing teaching or how-to or advice content that’s beyond what you actually know and what you are qualified to know.

Particularly, I want to emphasize this, if you’re writing about anything to do with health, mental health, legal advice or something that someone could read, take action upon and it would have a detrimental effect on their life. You want to be so careful around those topics.

I’ve had hard conversations with people who have come to me asking, “Should I write about this particular topic.” I remember talking to one blogger recently, who wanted to start a self-development blog, he had no experience in that area and he wanted to talk about psychology and some of these kind of deeper stuff and whilst, I think, there probably were some ways he could talk about those things from his own experience. He wanted to teach people on those areas and I’m like, “Well, to authentically do that, you probably need to educate yourself at least to some degree first.” I think it’s so important.

There’s been numerous cases over the years, where I’ve seen bloggers blog on topics in ways that they’re just not qualified to do. It can have massive impact upon their readers.

I saw a horrific news report recently of someone who had read a blog which gave advice on cancer treatment, they’d made decisions around their own treatment based upon what they’d read, only to discover that that person really had no idea what they were talking about and was just sprouting off something that they’d heard, word of mouth about three other people. The consequences of taking that advice were incredible, I mean the ultimate kind of consequences. You really want to care for your readers. You want to not go beyond what you’re qualified to do.

Also, it covers you as well. If you get found to be doing that type of thing, you could get sued, you could ruin your reputation. It’s just not worth doing that, so be careful. Be really careful about overextending yourself. You may want to get some accountability around that and get some advice around that as well.

Thirdly, you may not be an expert but make sure you’re actively learning on your topic. I’ve intentionally used the word “yet” in the title of this podcast. How to create a blog on a topic you’re not yet an expert in, because you may not be an expert today, but you can be learning on your topic.

You can be intentional about moving forward to the eventuality of becoming an expert. You may never get to an expert level, but the more you’re learning on your topic, if you’re actively moving in your topic and growing in your topic, it will shine through. Your readers will see that. That will create enthusiasm for them and it will also help you to create better content in the end.

I love the fact that I can look back on the early days of ProBlogger and see that I gave advice back then which was quite naïve. I look at it now and I cringe on some levels, but I can see the progression in my own knowledge on that topic as well. Your readers will see that progression. That’s something that creates anticipation and momentum and excitement as well, it helps people to connect with your blog. You may not be an expert, but make sure you’re actively learning, I think that is really important.

We’ve kind of got those qualifications, those disclaimers, kind of out there, but what kind of content should you be creating on your blog, if you’re not yet an expert in the topic? I want to give you a few questions to ask and also then some different types of contents.

The question that I want to ask you is,  “What can you witness to about your topic?” I was I got this question from a guy called Rob Bell, who I listen to. He’s a podcaster. He put together some teaching for public speakers that I bought recently, really great teaching. He was talking about this topic, if you don’t have expertise in a topic that you’ve been asked to do a talk on, the question you should be starting with is, “What can I witness to?”

You may not have a high level of knowledge or training or the theory on a particular topic, but what have you seen? What have you experienced? What have you learned? What have you felt? What is your experience? What it what have you witnessed to about that topic on a personal level?

If you’re thinking of starting a blog on a topic, you’ve probably had some experience with that topic, I would hope. Hopefully, you just haven’t picked out a topic that’s a random topic that you think will be popular.

Start with your experience of that. Hopefully, out of answering that question, some experiences will come to mind that you can share. A lot of them will come out as stories, story posts are great. “This is something that’s happened to me. This is what I experienced. This is what I learned.” No one can critique your story, your experience. That is authentically you.

Related to this, story posts that are mistake posts or fail posts can be great. “This is what I did. This is what I tried. This is how it worked out. This is what I’d do differently next time.” If you look back in the early days of ProBlogger, you’ll find that there’s quite a few of those kind of posts there. They did really well.

On the other side of things, there’s success post. “This is something I tried, it worked.” Celebrate that. “This is how I’d tweak it next time. This is what I’m going to extend upon.” These type of posts are about sharing what you have done. In essence, it’s creating your own case study kind of post. This is how I started ProBlogger. When I did teaching posts in the early days, when I did how to content in the early days, it was almost always in this way.

I wrote a whole series of posts on how to monetize your blog using Adsense. I probably wouldn’t even recommend you go back and read them today because Adsense changed a lot. All of that content came out of my experience. This is how I started out. This is where I position my ads today. This is how I changed the size of my ads. This is what I learned from my experiments with Adsense. Here are the tools that I am using to create content. Here is a mistake I made in sending my emails. This is how I launched my first ebook. These are all content that I created in the early days of ProBlogger that was based upon my experience. They were teaching posts, but they were based upon my experience.

You need to get into the habit of looking at your own experiences, mind your own experiences. Take note of what you do, what you’re learning and what you’re experimenting with and report back on those things.

No one can critique you for sharing an experiment that you did and talking about what you learned through that experiment. Someone can critique you if you write an expert post when you’re not an expert, but if you say, “Hey I’m not an expert but I’m experimenting with this, this is what I learned.” No one can critique that, and that’s totally fine. What are you a witness to share from your own experiences on your topic.

Another question, what are others doing? One way that you can share what other people are doing on a post really authentically is to do case studies. I used to do this on ProBlogger all the time and we still do case studies from time-to-time. Case studies about other people, not just your case studies, but other people.

Today, if you look at our most recent case studies on ProBlogger, we generally involve the person that we’re studying. We interview them or sometimes, they even write up their own case study, but back then in 2004, it was hard to get people to be involved in a case study because no one knew who I was and no one was willing to share on that level.

I would just write about what I saw other people doing, “Here’s blogger X, they’ve had a new blog design. Here’s how it’s changed, here’s what they’ve changed on their blog. Here’s what I like about it. Here is how I’d improve it. Here’s other blogs that look similar,” and picking up the tools that they use, those types of things. “Here’s blogger X and here’s how I see them monetizing their blog, and here’s three ways they monetize their blog. Here’s how they position their ads.” This type of content can be really useful and you don’t even have to involve the other person.

I personally would give them the courtesy of having the opportunity to participate in the case study, so you might want to say, “I’m thinking of writing a post on my blog. It’s going to be what I observed about what you’re doing with this or what you did here. If you’ve got a comment or if you’d like to participate?” You can make that offer, that will improve the post because you’ll get inside word on it.

Even if they say no or they don’t respond, you can still create that content, that’s totally fine. You’re writing about your observations of a topic and as long as you do that with grace, then I think most people will be totally fine with that.

Another type of content that you can do that involves the opinions and experience of others is interviewing people. This can be a little bit hard to do in the early days of your blog where you don’t maybe have the profile, but it’s not impossible.

I did a whole episode back in episode 172 on this podcast with Michael Stelzner from Social Media Examiner. He built that blog on this technique of interviewing other people. He went to conferences and just walked up to people and said, “Can I interview you on video?” He had a camera guy with him, so he made an investment. He had lights so it looked a little bit more professional.

If someone walks up to you at a conference and you’ve just gotten off the stage and they’ve got a camera crew with them, most people are going to say, “Absolutely. Totally. This guy looks like he knows what he’s doing.”

Mike knew nothing about social media at the time when he first started out, but because he got in front of so many experts in that industry and asked them so many questions, he built relationships with key people in his industry, he grew his knowledge in that area because he asked them questions that he wanted to know the answers to, he was seen alongside other experts in that industry as well, which brought him some credibility as well, and people wanted to share that content because they were in the content. It was professionally made, the people he interviewed ended up sharing his content.

He built that blog and that blog is an amazing blog today. He’s got a staff, he runs a conference of 4,000 or 5,000 people and it all began because he put himself out there, made an investment created content that was interviewing other people. It brought expert level content onto his blog, and he didn’t have to present any of it, he just had to ask questions.

This type of approach can build credibility, it can drive traffic, and it also creates really useful content as well, and helps you to network in your industry. Interviews are another one, take some work, take some investment. It can really pay off.

Similarly, guest content can work. This is another one that you do sometimes struggle with in the early days of your blog unless you’re willing to pay people to create content for you. I probably wouldn’t start with this one if you’re just starting out.

Featuring content of other people on your blog when they write an article for you, they might want to do that as a guest post in return for some exposure, or you may want to actually hire people as well.

Again, this is not something I would start with both on ProBlogger and Digital Photography School, I didn’t have anyone else’s content for quite some time because I wanted to build up my traffic, I wanted to build a relationship with my audience, I wanted to keep my voice consistent.

On ProBlogger we began to involve guest posters. We don’t do so many of those today, but in the early days particularly, we did. Today, we have a smaller team of guest writers on ProBlogger who come in from time-to-time who are on our team. I would see them as team writers. Digital Photography School, we’ve developed quite a large team of regular paid writers as well.

This allows me to bring in other voices who are experts. This is the big improvement for Digital Photography School. When I first started Digital Photography School, it was just me writing two or three articles a week, and all of those articles were for beginners because that’s all I felt that I could teach.

Today, if you’re going to look at the content, we’ve got professional photographers writing at an intermediate level and even beyond that. Sometimes, we do more advanced stuff as well. It allows us to get more expertise into the blog without actually having to become an expert as well.

It can also bring credibility if you choose the right person, it can bring in some traffic as well if the writer promotes it to their own networks as well.

Interviews, case studies, guest content can all be ways of bringing in other people’s expertise into your blog in authentic ways.

Another type of content you might want to mix in you may not want to go with this for all of your content but from time-to-time, you could do news posts.

It depends on the type of blog, what your intent is for that blog, but news content or writing content about the news and developments in your particular niche or industry can be well worth doing.

The early days at ProBlogger, I did this from time-to-time. I didn’t do a lot of it, but probably once every couple of weeks I would write an article that was about some development in the industry of blogging and reporting on someone acquiring someone else, or maybe a tool, or the launch of a new tool, or controversy that was happening in the industry. I almost always tried to find a way to add something of myself into it.

I didn’t want to just write the news, I wanted to interpret the news for my audience in some way. What does this news mean for us? Sometimes using the news as the start of a discussion as well, we’ll touch on discussion posts in a moment. News posts might be one way to go.

Another type of post that you might want to do and consider is curated content. This is where you add into the mix of what you do. I probably wouldn’t make this everything, I wouldn’t want all my posts to be curated content, but from time-to-time adding in a piece of curated content can be useful.

You want to be really careful about how to do this. You don’t want to steal someone’s content or present it as your own. You want to give credit where credit’s due. If another blogger in your industry has written a great article on their blog, why don’t you write a blog post that one, links to it and says, “You should go and read this dear readers.” Maybe pull out a short relevant quote from their article and put that in yours, and then add some of your own thoughts to it. Tell your readers why they should go and read it, tell them what you liked about that article, tell them what you would add to that article. They might have 10 reasons to do this, maybe come up with number 11.

Tell them what you agree with, what you disagree with, how you would interpret what they’ve said for your particular audience in some way and talk about what their article has prompted you to take action on in some way. This is really useful content for your readers. You’re finding them some useful content to read, but you’re making it even more valuable. The person you’re linking to is going to love it as well, they may even promote what you’re doing as well.

This is something I did all the time in the early days of ProBlogger. Today, this type of content, I would call this a link post, isn’t as popular because people are now sharing their links on social media, I think this is a missed opportunity for a lot of bloggers. I would love to see bloggers returning to this.

This is what blogging was built on in the early days, bloggers linking from one blog to another, sharing their experience, adding to the ideas of other people.

I did an episode back in episode 144 on how to create link posts. I will give you some examples and tips on how to do it as well, also check out episode 173 because that one’s on how to quote people properly, correctly without getting into trouble as well and that’s something you do want to be a little bit careful about, using other people’s content in that way.

The other thing I’d say about curated content is using embeddable content as well. There’s so much content on the internet that can be embedded onto your blog. The most obvious of them is YouTube. Find a video that you think is good, embed it into your blog.

The YouTuber is totally fine with you embedding their content onto their blog. If they’re not, they would have marked it that they don’t want it to be embedded. Take that embeddable content, add it into your own blog and then put some of your own thoughts around it, make it even more useful for your readers as well. Again, episode 152, I talked a lot more about embeddable content and video is just one of the types of content that you can embed.

Curated content is great because, again, you bring in other people’s voices onto your blogs. You’re bringing other people’s expertise. It’s relatively easy to find and it has a potential to build a relationship with that other person that you’re featuring in some way as well.

Two more types of posts that you might want to consider, research posts. The best way of describing a research post in my mind is kind of like the essays that you wrote at high school. Your high school teacher or your university professor said, “I want you to write an essay on this particular topic answering this question or discussing this issue,” and then you go away and you read all the books and you synthesize all the arguments, you bring in some quotes, crediting your sources of course and then you come to your own conclusions and you create a piece of content for your professor or your teacher that kind of synthesizes the best thinking on that particular topic.

The whole point of writing an essay is that you want to learn something through that process. You learn so much through writing an essay. The same can be true for a blog content as well. You choose a question that you have about your topic. You’re not an expert in your topic, why aren’t you an expert in your topic? What don’t you know about it? Choose one of those things that you don’t yet know about. Choose a question that you have or that you say your readers are having as well, then go out and research the answer to it. This is how you become an expert. You actually go out and you find the answers to the questions that you have, then you take action upon those things.

It might mean going out reading more than one book, listening to some podcasts, watching some videos, reading some other blogs, strolling through some forums, having some conversations with other people, sending some emails out, asking other people what they’re thinking are. Once you’ve got all that information, write an article about what you found.

You can be really clear upfront, “I didn’t know anything about this topic, but here’s what I’ve learnt about it, and here’s what I know now.” It might include a few quotes from books that you’ve read or blog posts that you’ve written. Crediting the sources of course. It might include an embeddable piece of content, a YouTube clip that you found. It might include different points of view, different approaches that people take. It might include some of the answers that people sent you when you emailed them their questions.

You want to get their permission first before you include those into your article. Hopefully, include your own conclusions, what you’ve learned through the experience, ideas or more questions that you have. Maybe some stories that you’ve got, maybe some things that you’re going to do as a result of that.

This type of content is so good because you are going to learn so much. You’re actually going to take steps towards becoming an expert through writing this type of content. You are going to show that you are progressing on this topic. It’s also so useful as well for your readers to see a digest of all the best thinking around a topic.

This shows that you actually are becoming an authority and an expert on your topic as well. Research posts are one really great way of doing this. Again, it’s expertise kind of content. You’re featuring other people’s ideas and hopefully some of your own as well.

The last type of content you might want to try is something that I used to do every week on ProBlogger. I don’t do it quite as often these days, but we still do it every week on Digital Photography School and it takes no expertise whatsoever, it’s simply discussion posts. This is asking your readers to talk about what they think about a topic.

You probably wouldn’t want to do this on the first week of your brand-new blog because you may not have any readers to have discussions yet. This is something that you can use once you’ve got a little bit of a readership there, but ask a key question. Ask a question you want to know the answer to, maybe, or ask more of a debate like question, “Do you do this or do you do that?” Those type of questions can really lead to some interesting discussions. They will teach you.

They will also give your readers an opportunity to participate, to engage. It may even unearth some experts on your topic as well, which then you can feature in guest content or in an interview or in a case study as well.

Sometimes, the best discussion posts that we used to post on Digital Photography School, I would take the comments and then write another post that synthesize those comments, it almost became like a research post. “Here’s what our audience thinks about this particular topic.” I would then pull out some themes in it, I would add some of my own thoughts in it, maybe add some further reading and those types of things as well.

Discussion posts can really be useful as well to increase the expertise on your blog, but also build some engagement as well.

I hope that somewhere in the midst of those, is some encouragement for those of you who are feeling like maybe you’re not an expert enough to really authentically go into your topic, because you’re not an expert.

Those of you struggling with impostor syndrome, it’s okay to have a blog on a topic that you don’t have expertise on, as long as you’re transparent, as long as you’re a little bit careful about the kind of content that you create and don’t overextend yourself.

 

As long as you’re actively learning and that’s such a key. Most of the types of content that I just share actually are as important because they create good content for your readers—almost all of them are going to teach you so much as well. That’s why I’ve chosen those types of content, case studies, interviewing people, doing research posts, having guest content. All of these have the opportunity for you to learn and for you to become the expert that you don’t feel that you are.

I’m sure there’s a lot more that could be said on this particular topic and I would love to get your thoughts on it. If you’d like to leave a comment with suggestions on types of content that you find useful in this particular area, feel free to leave those comments over on our show. That’s at problogger.com/podcast/247 or you can leave those comments in our Facebook group as well.

Before we finish off, I want to finish with our quote for the day and I want to thank those of you who’ve been sending some suggestions of quotes for the day in as well, I had a couple of those come in via email this week. Quite a few of you sharing quotes on Twitter, too.

This one is a bit of a longer quote, you could almost say it’s an excerpt, just a paragraph or two by an author by the name of Neil Gaiman, who wrote this some years ago. I was lucky enough to be invited to a gathering of great and good people, artists, scientists, writers and discoverers of things. I felt that at any moment, they would realize I didn’t qualify to be there among these people who had really done things.

On my second or third night there, I was standing at the back of the hall while a musical entertainment happened and I started talking to a very nice polite elderly gentleman about several things including our shared first name, Neil. He pointed to the hall of people and said words to the effect of, “I just look at all these people and I think what the heck am I doing here? They’ve made amazing things. I just went where I was sent.” And I said, “Yes, but you were the first man on the moon. I think that counts for something.”

I felt a bit better, because if Neil Armstrong felt like an impostor, maybe everyone did, maybe there weren’t any grownups, only people who worked hard and also got lucky and were slightly out of their depth. All of us doing the best job we could, which is all we can really hope for.

Hopefully, that encourages you, if Neil Armstrong feels a bit of impostor syndrome, then I think it’s okay for you and I, too, as well.

Thanks for listening today. I look forward to chatting with you next week in next week’s episode. Again, today’s show can be found at problogger.com/podcast/247, where I will include that further listening some of those episodes that I mentioned during today’s show. Thanks for listening, chat with you next week.

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247: How to Create a Blog on a Topic You’re Not an Expert In

Starting a Blog on a Topic Where You’re Not an Expert

Can you start a new blog when you’re not an expert on the topic you’ll be writing about? Of course you can. You can blog about any topic you like. But should you blog about a topic you don’t have any expertise in?

I think it’s okay to start a blog on a topic you don’t know a lot about. I certainly wasn’t an expert when I started my blogs. I had some experience, but I was far from being an expert. I’m not sure I even consider myself an expert now.

Part of the success I’ve had with my blogs is due to the factI wasn’t an expert. Experts are great, but they sometimes come across as inaccessible or unrelatable.

And not being an expert gave my blogs a sense of momentum and excitement. I was actively learning, growing, improving, and sharing with my readers.

Here are a few tips to help you get started with your new blog and topic:

  • Be ethical and transparent. Be upfront about who you are, how much experience you have, and why you’re blogging.
  • Be careful about the content you post. Avoid teaching or giving advice beyond what you know.
  • Actively pursue learning. You may not be an expert yet, but your growth helps people connect with you and your blog.

What kind of content should you create if you’re not an expert? What interests you about the topic? What grabs your attention about it?

Here are some content sources:

  • Personal stories
  • Case studies
  • Interviews
  • Guest content
  • News items
  • Curated content
  • Research results
  • Answers to discussion questions

Links and Resources for How to Create a Blog on a Topic You’re Not an Expert In:

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

Hey there, welcome to episode 247 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name’s Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast, event, job board, series of ebooks, and courses all designed to help you to grow an amazing blog that changes the world in some way, but also hopefully, is profitable for you. You can learn more about what we do at ProBlogger over at problogger.com.

Now, in today’s episode, I want to talk about something that I get asked quite often about from people thinking about starting a new blog, but also from some who have already started who have doubts and insecurities around this kind of topic.

It’s something that I know there’s probably a variety of opinions on, but which I have a fairly strong one on as well. The question that I get asked is, “Should you start a blog on a topic that you don’t have expertise in?” I want to say right up front, I think you could or even should. I think there’s definitely a case for it, and in this episode, I want to tell you why, but I also want to, more importantly, give you some tips on how to do that, because this is something I know a lot of people do struggle with.

“I’ve got this blog on a topic, I’m not really sure, I feel secure enough in this topic,” you have these doubts that nag at you. I want to give you some ideas of the type of content that you can create if you don’t yet feel like you’re enough of an expert in that topic.

You can find today’s show notes with a full transcription of today’s show at problogger.com/podcast/247.

Before I get into today’s show, I just want to say thank you because I have received some wonderful emails over the last few days from readers, some lovely messages on Twitter particularly. I’ve been trying a few new things on Twitter recently, just giving you a little bit more advice on a more of a personal self-development level and I’ve loved the conversation that’s come from those.

I’ve had some beautiful little reviews coming on iTunes. I had carolinaprincess843 from the US iTunes, “I love listening to Darren on my way to work, he puts things in a way that is easy to understand.” Thank You carolinaprincess.

Crumbsanddirtydishes from the UK left a little review on the 30th of April, “A brilliant podcast offering practical and actionable tips. Darren is so insightful and provides so much value for anyone looking to start, grow, or develop their blog. A must listen for all bloggers.” Thank you for that crumbsanddirtydishes. I love these names.

MichaelCowell said, “Great to listen to someone so passionate, honest, and knowledgeable about their profession. I’ve recommended this podcast for so many people. I look forward to every new episode.” Thank you Michael and I do appreciate you passing it on.

I just wanted to start off by saying thank you, I’m very grateful for you as listeners of this podcast and I look forward to powering on, as we go towards episode 250 and beyond. With that said, let’s get into today’s show.

Can you or perhaps more accurately should you have a blog on a topic that you’re not yet an expert in? It’s something I get asked regularly, and I’ve heard it answered in a variety of ways. I know some people feel quite passionately that you shouldn’t have a blog that you’re not an expert in, or that you don’t have some knowledge in, or a higher level of knowledge.

I want to put it out there that I think it’s okay to do that with some certain qualifications around that. I want to give you those qualifications. I want to give you some words of warning and some advice on how to approach it, and then I want to finish this episode by going through some different types of content that I think you might want to start with if this is the position that you find yourself in.

Yes, I think you can. Of course, there’s nothing stopping anyone blogging on any topic they like, really, free speech is something that most of us have the right to. Although, I’m actually very aware that there’s a segment of our audience listening to this podcast who I hear from time-to-time who don’t have that right of free speech depending upon where they live and the circumstances they’re in. I want to put that qualification out there.

I think for most people listening to this podcast, we do have the right to really talk about anything that we want to talk about. I guess the question is, should you tackle a topic that you don’t yet have that experience in? I’ve already said up front that my answer is, yes. I want to go a little bit deeper and put some qualifications around that before I give you these tips on the type of content.

I also want to say right up front that what I’m going to share today really does come from my own personal experience because both of the blogs that I have today, ProBlogger and Digital Photography School, I would say that when I started them in both cases, I didn’t really feel like an expert and in fact I wasn’t an expert. I’m still not even sure I would see myself as an expert today, particularly in my photography blog.

When I started ProBlogger in 2004, I’ve been blogging for about two years, so I did have some experience of blogging, but I was very new to the idea of making money from blogging. I’ve probably been doing that for less than a year and when I started ProBlogger, I was still at a part-time level. I wasn’t a professional blogger. I wasn’t a full-time blogger by any means. I never claimed to be that when I started ProBlogger.

I didn’t start ProBlogger as an expert, although, I guess, I was probably one of the first people in the world to get to the level that I was at as a part-time blogger

Relatively speaking, maybe some people could have said I was an expert because no one was really doing it, but I certainly didn’t feel like an expert. I had doubts about whether I should start that blog.

The same is true with Digital Photography. When I first started writing on that topic and that was back in 2003 on a very early blog, I was reviewing cameras. That first blog I only owned one digital camera and I’d only had it for a few months. I was writing about my experience with this first ever digital camera that I had.

I had had some experience with film camera, I knew the basics of photography, but I wasn’t an expert. I’ve photographed a few friends weddings with previous cameras, but never with digital. I really did have a lack of experience and expertise in that particular topic.

When I started Digital Photography School a few years later, again, I didn’t see myself as a professional photographer. There were doubts in my mind, should I be doing this and I guess what I did is started a blog for beginners because I felt like I could teach them and that’s a big part of what I want to talk about today. It’s actually thinking about who your blog is for, and pitching it for people who it’s appropriate for, and who you can actually help.

I look at both ProBlogger and Digital Photography School today and whilst I had started both of those blogs with these insecurities, and with doubts, and with the idea of impostor syndrome which I’ve talked about on this podcast before.

I actually look at both of the blogs that I’ve built today and I think one of the foundations and one of the things that did help those blogs is that I wasn’t an expert. I actually think it’s an advantage in some ways to start as someone who is still learning about your topic.

I’ve met numerous of my early readers over the years and one of the things that I hear again and again from those who’ve been reading my blogs from the early days is that they found my blogs very relatable. They found them accessible.

Experts are great, but sometimes experts can come across as inaccessible or unrelatable. This doesn’t always happen, some experts are very good at talking to beginners, but a complete beginner on a topic may find it hard to connect with someone who has years of experience and who is seen as a guru.

On some levels we want to learn from experts, but on other levels I can feel like they’re in another stratosphere to us and not relatable, but someone who’s just ahead of a beginner will use language that a beginner can access, and they’ll come from a position of understanding the place of that beginner.

In the case of ProBlogger particularly, I think what made it attractive in the early days was that I wasn’t an expert, and I was just sharing what I was learning, and I was sharing it with people who were perhaps just a step or two behind me in the journey.

I was incredibly active in my learning, I was growing, I was improving, and I was sharing what I was learning with my readers and that created a sense of excitement that I’m not sure I would have been able to create on that blog if I was sharing it with years of experience about the topic.

You can actually use the fact that you’re not an expert to your advantage in some ways. Before I get into some tips, I wanted to share those stories of me starting out in that way because I want to encourage you that if you are at the beginning of your journey of your topic that that’s okay, but you want to do it carefully, and that’s what I want to move into now.

I want to give you three qualifications if you do decide to blog on a topic that you’re not an expert in and this may be the topic of your whole blog or it may be that you want to add a category to your blog that you’re not an expert in. There’s three things that I want to say that you want to kind of be a little bit wary about.

Firstly, I think it’s really important to be transparent, to be ethical, in the way that you present yourself and in the case of both Digital Photography School and ProBlogger; I was really upfront about who I was, what my experience was with the topic.

I remember in both cases, in the early days of those blogs, probably the first week or two of both of those blogs, I put up posts telling my story, which was all about showing the level that I was at, but also why I was starting that blog.

I was really clear that I wanted to share what I’d already learned, but what I was learning and I wanted to gather other people who had experience as well, to give a place for them to talk about what they were learning as well.

I put those stories up as blog post, also on my about page, so anyone clicking to those blogs in the early days, particularly, would see my story, who I was and where I was coming from, the position I was taking.

I reckon, I probably put off some readers of my blog by doing that and by saying, “I’m not an expert,” but I also as I’ve said before, I think I made my blogs a little bit more relatable as well.

I think there’s nothing worse than reading a blog by someone who claims or implies expertise, who doesn’t have it. It usually shines through in the writing that you don’t have that expertise, but it can also set you up for a fall later, if you get found out to not be an expert. Whatever you do, don’t claim to be an expert and don’t let your lack of transparency imply that you’re an expert either. It is really important.

Put up who you are, put up where you’re coming from on your “About” page in your sidebar, if you want to. You can actually build it into your tagline if you want. A beginner or an enthusiast or someone who’s curious about this topic, you can actually put that up front and you’ll find that that does make you a little bit more relatable.

Number one, I think it’s important to be transparent. Number two, I think you should be careful about the type of blog that you create.

If you go back to the early days of ProBlogger, you’ll see that the types of posts that I was writing were different from today. Today, we do a lot of more tutorials that are a little bit more authoritative, that built upon years of testing and experimenting, talking with people, gathering ideas.

Back in the early days of ProBlogger, I did occasionally do some teaching posts, they were very beginner focused, they were very short, they were almost always based upon something I’d experimented with. I’ll talk more about that in a moment.

Around these occasional teaching posts were lots of other kinds of posts that didn’t require expertise. That’s what I want to share with you in a moment. There’s so many different types of content that you can authentically do if you don’t have expertise. You want to be so careful of doing teaching or how-to or advice content that’s beyond what you actually know and what you are qualified to know.

Particularly, I want to emphasize this, if you’re writing about anything to do with health, mental health, legal advice or something that someone could read, take action upon and it would have a detrimental effect on their life. You want to be so careful around those topics.

I’ve had hard conversations with people who have come to me asking, “Should I write about this particular topic.” I remember talking to one blogger recently, who wanted to start a self-development blog, he had no experience in that area and he wanted to talk about psychology and some of these kind of deeper stuff and whilst, I think, there probably were some ways he could talk about those things from his own experience. He wanted to teach people on those areas and I’m like, “Well, to authentically do that, you probably need to educate yourself at least to some degree first.” I think it’s so important.

There’s been numerous cases over the years, where I’ve seen bloggers blog on topics in ways that they’re just not qualified to do. It can have massive impact upon their readers.

I saw a horrific news report recently of someone who had read a blog which gave advice on cancer treatment, they’d made decisions around their own treatment based upon what they’d read, only to discover that that person really had no idea what they were talking about and was just sprouting off something that they’d heard, word of mouth about three other people. The consequences of taking that advice were incredible, I mean the ultimate kind of consequences. You really want to care for your readers. You want to not go beyond what you’re qualified to do.

Also, it covers you as well. If you get found to be doing that type of thing, you could get sued, you could ruin your reputation. It’s just not worth doing that, so be careful. Be really careful about overextending yourself. You may want to get some accountability around that and get some advice around that as well.

Thirdly, you may not be an expert but make sure you’re actively learning on your topic. I’ve intentionally used the word “yet” in the title of this podcast. How to create a blog on a topic you’re not yet an expert in, because you may not be an expert today, but you can be learning on your topic.

You can be intentional about moving forward to the eventuality of becoming an expert. You may never get to an expert level, but the more you’re learning on your topic, if you’re actively moving in your topic and growing in your topic, it will shine through. Your readers will see that. That will create enthusiasm for them and it will also help you to create better content in the end.

I love the fact that I can look back on the early days of ProBlogger and see that I gave advice back then which was quite naïve. I look at it now and I cringe on some levels, but I can see the progression in my own knowledge on that topic as well. Your readers will see that progression. That’s something that creates anticipation and momentum and excitement as well, it helps people to connect with your blog. You may not be an expert, but make sure you’re actively learning, I think that is really important.

We’ve kind of got those qualifications, those disclaimers, kind of out there, but what kind of content should you be creating on your blog, if you’re not yet an expert in the topic? I want to give you a few questions to ask and also then some different types of contents.

The question that I want to ask you is,  “What can you witness to about your topic?” I was I got this question from a guy called Rob Bell, who I listen to. He’s a podcaster. He put together some teaching for public speakers that I bought recently, really great teaching. He was talking about this topic, if you don’t have expertise in a topic that you’ve been asked to do a talk on, the question you should be starting with is, “What can I witness to?”

You may not have a high level of knowledge or training or the theory on a particular topic, but what have you seen? What have you experienced? What have you learned? What have you felt? What is your experience? What it what have you witnessed to about that topic on a personal level?

If you’re thinking of starting a blog on a topic, you’ve probably had some experience with that topic, I would hope. Hopefully, you just haven’t picked out a topic that’s a random topic that you think will be popular.

Start with your experience of that. Hopefully, out of answering that question, some experiences will come to mind that you can share. A lot of them will come out as stories, story posts are great. “This is something that’s happened to me. This is what I experienced. This is what I learned.” No one can critique your story, your experience. That is authentically you.

Related to this, story posts that are mistake posts or fail posts can be great. “This is what I did. This is what I tried. This is how it worked out. This is what I’d do differently next time.” If you look back in the early days of ProBlogger, you’ll find that there’s quite a few of those kind of posts there. They did really well.

On the other side of things, there’s success post. “This is something I tried, it worked.” Celebrate that. “This is how I’d tweak it next time. This is what I’m going to extend upon.” These type of posts are about sharing what you have done. In essence, it’s creating your own case study kind of post. This is how I started ProBlogger. When I did teaching posts in the early days, when I did how to content in the early days, it was almost always in this way.

I wrote a whole series of posts on how to monetize your blog using Adsense. I probably wouldn’t even recommend you go back and read them today because Adsense changed a lot. All of that content came out of my experience. This is how I started out. This is where I position my ads today. This is how I changed the size of my ads. This is what I learned from my experiments with Adsense. Here are the tools that I am using to create content. Here is a mistake I made in sending my emails. This is how I launched my first ebook. These are all content that I created in the early days of ProBlogger that was based upon my experience. They were teaching posts, but they were based upon my experience.

You need to get into the habit of looking at your own experiences, mind your own experiences. Take note of what you do, what you’re learning and what you’re experimenting with and report back on those things.

No one can critique you for sharing an experiment that you did and talking about what you learned through that experiment. Someone can critique you if you write an expert post when you’re not an expert, but if you say, “Hey I’m not an expert but I’m experimenting with this, this is what I learned.” No one can critique that, and that’s totally fine. What are you a witness to share from your own experiences on your topic.

Another question, what are others doing? One way that you can share what other people are doing on a post really authentically is to do case studies. I used to do this on ProBlogger all the time and we still do case studies from time-to-time. Case studies about other people, not just your case studies, but other people.

Today, if you look at our most recent case studies on ProBlogger, we generally involve the person that we’re studying. We interview them or sometimes, they even write up their own case study, but back then in 2004, it was hard to get people to be involved in a case study because no one knew who I was and no one was willing to share on that level.

I would just write about what I saw other people doing, “Here’s blogger X, they’ve had a new blog design. Here’s how it’s changed, here’s what they’ve changed on their blog. Here’s what I like about it. Here is how I’d improve it. Here’s other blogs that look similar,” and picking up the tools that they use, those types of things. “Here’s blogger X and here’s how I see them monetizing their blog, and here’s three ways they monetize their blog. Here’s how they position their ads.” This type of content can be really useful and you don’t even have to involve the other person.

I personally would give them the courtesy of having the opportunity to participate in the case study, so you might want to say, “I’m thinking of writing a post on my blog. It’s going to be what I observed about what you’re doing with this or what you did here. If you’ve got a comment or if you’d like to participate?” You can make that offer, that will improve the post because you’ll get inside word on it.

Even if they say no or they don’t respond, you can still create that content, that’s totally fine. You’re writing about your observations of a topic and as long as you do that with grace, then I think most people will be totally fine with that.

Another type of content that you can do that involves the opinions and experience of others is interviewing people. This can be a little bit hard to do in the early days of your blog where you don’t maybe have the profile, but it’s not impossible.

I did a whole episode back in episode 172 on this podcast with Michael Stelzner from Social Media Examiner. He built that blog on this technique of interviewing other people. He went to conferences and just walked up to people and said, “Can I interview you on video?” He had a camera guy with him, so he made an investment. He had lights so it looked a little bit more professional.

If someone walks up to you at a conference and you’ve just gotten off the stage and they’ve got a camera crew with them, most people are going to say, “Absolutely. Totally. This guy looks like he knows what he’s doing.”

Mike knew nothing about social media at the time when he first started out, but because he got in front of so many experts in that industry and asked them so many questions, he built relationships with key people in his industry, he grew his knowledge in that area because he asked them questions that he wanted to know the answers to, he was seen alongside other experts in that industry as well, which brought him some credibility as well, and people wanted to share that content because they were in the content. It was professionally made, the people he interviewed ended up sharing his content.

He built that blog and that blog is an amazing blog today. He’s got a staff, he runs a conference of 4,000 or 5,000 people and it all began because he put himself out there, made an investment created content that was interviewing other people. It brought expert level content onto his blog, and he didn’t have to present any of it, he just had to ask questions.

This type of approach can build credibility, it can drive traffic, and it also creates really useful content as well, and helps you to network in your industry. Interviews are another one, take some work, take some investment. It can really pay off.

Similarly, guest content can work. This is another one that you do sometimes struggle with in the early days of your blog unless you’re willing to pay people to create content for you. I probably wouldn’t start with this one if you’re just starting out.

Featuring content of other people on your blog when they write an article for you, they might want to do that as a guest post in return for some exposure, or you may want to actually hire people as well.

Again, this is not something I would start with both on ProBlogger and Digital Photography School, I didn’t have anyone else’s content for quite some time because I wanted to build up my traffic, I wanted to build a relationship with my audience, I wanted to keep my voice consistent.

On ProBlogger we began to involve guest posters. We don’t do so many of those today, but in the early days particularly, we did. Today, we have a smaller team of guest writers on ProBlogger who come in from time-to-time who are on our team. I would see them as team writers. Digital Photography School, we’ve developed quite a large team of regular paid writers as well.

This allows me to bring in other voices who are experts. This is the big improvement for Digital Photography School. When I first started Digital Photography School, it was just me writing two or three articles a week, and all of those articles were for beginners because that’s all I felt that I could teach.

Today, if you’re going to look at the content, we’ve got professional photographers writing at an intermediate level and even beyond that. Sometimes, we do more advanced stuff as well. It allows us to get more expertise into the blog without actually having to become an expert as well.

It can also bring credibility if you choose the right person, it can bring in some traffic as well if the writer promotes it to their own networks as well.

Interviews, case studies, guest content can all be ways of bringing in other people’s expertise into your blog in authentic ways.

Another type of content you might want to mix in you may not want to go with this for all of your content but from time-to-time, you could do news posts.

It depends on the type of blog, what your intent is for that blog, but news content or writing content about the news and developments in your particular niche or industry can be well worth doing.

The early days at ProBlogger, I did this from time-to-time. I didn’t do a lot of it, but probably once every couple of weeks I would write an article that was about some development in the industry of blogging and reporting on someone acquiring someone else, or maybe a tool, or the launch of a new tool, or controversy that was happening in the industry. I almost always tried to find a way to add something of myself into it.

I didn’t want to just write the news, I wanted to interpret the news for my audience in some way. What does this news mean for us? Sometimes using the news as the start of a discussion as well, we’ll touch on discussion posts in a moment. News posts might be one way to go.

Another type of post that you might want to do and consider is curated content. This is where you add into the mix of what you do. I probably wouldn’t make this everything, I wouldn’t want all my posts to be curated content, but from time-to-time adding in a piece of curated content can be useful.

You want to be really careful about how to do this. You don’t want to steal someone’s content or present it as your own. You want to give credit where credit’s due. If another blogger in your industry has written a great article on their blog, why don’t you write a blog post that one, links to it and says, “You should go and read this dear readers.” Maybe pull out a short relevant quote from their article and put that in yours, and then add some of your own thoughts to it. Tell your readers why they should go and read it, tell them what you liked about that article, tell them what you would add to that article. They might have 10 reasons to do this, maybe come up with number 11.

Tell them what you agree with, what you disagree with, how you would interpret what they’ve said for your particular audience in some way and talk about what their article has prompted you to take action on in some way. This is really useful content for your readers. You’re finding them some useful content to read, but you’re making it even more valuable. The person you’re linking to is going to love it as well, they may even promote what you’re doing as well.

This is something I did all the time in the early days of ProBlogger. Today, this type of content, I would call this a link post, isn’t as popular because people are now sharing their links on social media, I think this is a missed opportunity for a lot of bloggers. I would love to see bloggers returning to this.

This is what blogging was built on in the early days, bloggers linking from one blog to another, sharing their experience, adding to the ideas of other people.

I did an episode back in episode 144 on how to create link posts. I will give you some examples and tips on how to do it as well, also check out episode 173 because that one’s on how to quote people properly, correctly without getting into trouble as well and that’s something you do want to be a little bit careful about, using other people’s content in that way.

The other thing I’d say about curated content is using embeddable content as well. There’s so much content on the internet that can be embedded onto your blog. The most obvious of them is YouTube. Find a video that you think is good, embed it into your blog.

The YouTuber is totally fine with you embedding their content onto their blog. If they’re not, they would have marked it that they don’t want it to be embedded. Take that embeddable content, add it into your own blog and then put some of your own thoughts around it, make it even more useful for your readers as well. Again, episode 152, I talked a lot more about embeddable content and video is just one of the types of content that you can embed.

Curated content is great because, again, you bring in other people’s voices onto your blogs. You’re bringing other people’s expertise. It’s relatively easy to find and it has a potential to build a relationship with that other person that you’re featuring in some way as well.

Two more types of posts that you might want to consider, research posts. The best way of describing a research post in my mind is kind of like the essays that you wrote at high school. Your high school teacher or your university professor said, “I want you to write an essay on this particular topic answering this question or discussing this issue,” and then you go away and you read all the books and you synthesize all the arguments, you bring in some quotes, crediting your sources of course and then you come to your own conclusions and you create a piece of content for your professor or your teacher that kind of synthesizes the best thinking on that particular topic.

The whole point of writing an essay is that you want to learn something through that process. You learn so much through writing an essay. The same can be true for a blog content as well. You choose a question that you have about your topic. You’re not an expert in your topic, why aren’t you an expert in your topic? What don’t you know about it? Choose one of those things that you don’t yet know about. Choose a question that you have or that you say your readers are having as well, then go out and research the answer to it. This is how you become an expert. You actually go out and you find the answers to the questions that you have, then you take action upon those things.

It might mean going out reading more than one book, listening to some podcasts, watching some videos, reading some other blogs, strolling through some forums, having some conversations with other people, sending some emails out, asking other people what they’re thinking are. Once you’ve got all that information, write an article about what you found.

You can be really clear upfront, “I didn’t know anything about this topic, but here’s what I’ve learnt about it, and here’s what I know now.” It might include a few quotes from books that you’ve read or blog posts that you’ve written. Crediting the sources of course. It might include an embeddable piece of content, a YouTube clip that you found. It might include different points of view, different approaches that people take. It might include some of the answers that people sent you when you emailed them their questions.

You want to get their permission first before you include those into your article. Hopefully, include your own conclusions, what you’ve learned through the experience, ideas or more questions that you have. Maybe some stories that you’ve got, maybe some things that you’re going to do as a result of that.

This type of content is so good because you are going to learn so much. You’re actually going to take steps towards becoming an expert through writing this type of content. You are going to show that you are progressing on this topic. It’s also so useful as well for your readers to see a digest of all the best thinking around a topic.

This shows that you actually are becoming an authority and an expert on your topic as well. Research posts are one really great way of doing this. Again, it’s expertise kind of content. You’re featuring other people’s ideas and hopefully some of your own as well.

The last type of content you might want to try is something that I used to do every week on ProBlogger. I don’t do it quite as often these days, but we still do it every week on Digital Photography School and it takes no expertise whatsoever, it’s simply discussion posts. This is asking your readers to talk about what they think about a topic.

You probably wouldn’t want to do this on the first week of your brand-new blog because you may not have any readers to have discussions yet. This is something that you can use once you’ve got a little bit of a readership there, but ask a key question. Ask a question you want to know the answer to, maybe, or ask more of a debate like question, “Do you do this or do you do that?” Those type of questions can really lead to some interesting discussions. They will teach you.

They will also give your readers an opportunity to participate, to engage. It may even unearth some experts on your topic as well, which then you can feature in guest content or in an interview or in a case study as well.

Sometimes, the best discussion posts that we used to post on Digital Photography School, I would take the comments and then write another post that synthesize those comments, it almost became like a research post. “Here’s what our audience thinks about this particular topic.” I would then pull out some themes in it, I would add some of my own thoughts in it, maybe add some further reading and those types of things as well.

Discussion posts can really be useful as well to increase the expertise on your blog, but also build some engagement as well.

I hope that somewhere in the midst of those, is some encouragement for those of you who are feeling like maybe you’re not an expert enough to really authentically go into your topic, because you’re not an expert.

Those of you struggling with impostor syndrome, it’s okay to have a blog on a topic that you don’t have expertise on, as long as you’re transparent, as long as you’re a little bit careful about the kind of content that you create and don’t overextend yourself.

 

As long as you’re actively learning and that’s such a key. Most of the types of content that I just share actually are as important because they create good content for your readers—almost all of them are going to teach you so much as well. That’s why I’ve chosen those types of content, case studies, interviewing people, doing research posts, having guest content. All of these have the opportunity for you to learn and for you to become the expert that you don’t feel that you are.

I’m sure there’s a lot more that could be said on this particular topic and I would love to get your thoughts on it. If you’d like to leave a comment with suggestions on types of content that you find useful in this particular area, feel free to leave those comments over on our show. That’s at problogger.com/podcast/247 or you can leave those comments in our Facebook group as well.

Before we finish off, I want to finish with our quote for the day and I want to thank those of you who’ve been sending some suggestions of quotes for the day in as well, I had a couple of those come in via email this week. Quite a few of you sharing quotes on Twitter, too.

This one is a bit of a longer quote, you could almost say it’s an excerpt, just a paragraph or two by an author by the name of Neil Gaiman, who wrote this some years ago. I was lucky enough to be invited to a gathering of great and good people, artists, scientists, writers and discoverers of things. I felt that at any moment, they would realize I didn’t qualify to be there among these people who had really done things.

On my second or third night there, I was standing at the back of the hall while a musical entertainment happened and I started talking to a very nice polite elderly gentleman about several things including our shared first name, Neil. He pointed to the hall of people and said words to the effect of, “I just look at all these people and I think what the heck am I doing here? They’ve made amazing things. I just went where I was sent.” And I said, “Yes, but you were the first man on the moon. I think that counts for something.”

I felt a bit better, because if Neil Armstrong felt like an impostor, maybe everyone did, maybe there weren’t any grownups, only people who worked hard and also got lucky and were slightly out of their depth. All of us doing the best job we could, which is all we can really hope for.

Hopefully, that encourages you, if Neil Armstrong feels a bit of impostor syndrome, then I think it’s okay for you and I, too, as well.

Thanks for listening today. I look forward to chatting with you next week in next week’s episode. Again, today’s show can be found at problogger.com/podcast/247, where I will include that further listening some of those episodes that I mentioned during today’s show. Thanks for listening, chat with you next week.

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The post 247: How to Create a Blog on a Topic You’re Not an Expert In appeared first on ProBlogger.

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

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

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

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

Understanding the WordPress WYSIWYG Editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here they are:

We’ll go through them one by one:

#1: “Paragraph” Dropdown

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

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

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

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

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

#2: Bold Text

HTML tag equivalent: <strong>

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

To use it, you can either:

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

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

#3: Italic Text

HTML tag equivalent: <em>

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

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

#4: Unordered List (Bullet Points)

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

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

  • Item one
  • Item two
  • Item three

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

#5: Ordered List (Numbers)

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

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

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

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

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

#6: Blockquote

HTML tag equivalent: <blockquote>

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

This is how blockquotes look on the ProBlogger blog.

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

#7: Align Left/Center/Right

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

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

This text is centered.

This text is right-aligned.

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

#8: Link/Unlink

HTML tag equivalent: <a href>

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

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

Your link will show up like this:

Which is the Best Blog Hosting Solution?

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

#9: Read More Tag

WordPress tag equivalent: <!–more–>

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

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

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

#10: Toolbar Toggle

WordPress tag equivalent: n/a

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

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

The Bottom Row of the Toolbar: Less Common Formatting Options

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

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

#1: Strikethrough Text

HTML tag equivalent: <del>

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

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

#2: Horizontal Rule

HTML tag equivalent: <hr />

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

It looks like this:


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

#3: Text Color

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#4: Paste as Text

HTML tag equivalent: n/a

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

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

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

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

#5: Clear Formatting

HTML tag equivalent: n/a

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

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

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

#6: Special Character

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

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

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

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

#7: Increase/Decrease Indent

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

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

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

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

#8: Undo/Redo

HTML tag equivalent: n/a

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

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

#9: Keyboard Shortcuts

HTML tag equivalent: n/a

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      

237: How Collaborations Can Accelerate Your Blog’s Growth

How to Use Collaborations to Grow Your Blog

Have you ever felt that too many things need doing to build a successful blog?

A student I spoke to this week who recently completed our Start A Blog course said they were a little overwhelmed by how much needed to be done.

They said it felt like juggling with too many balls in the air.

So today I want to share a principle that has helped me keep a lot of balls in the air, and scale my business beyond what I ever thought I could manage–collaborations.

When you’re juggling alone you can only keep so many balls in the air. (The current record is 9 balls for 55 seconds.) But if you juggle with other people, you can keep more balls in the air for longer.

And this podcast is all about how you can make your blogging a more collaborative experience.

Links and Resources for How to Accelerate the Growth of Your Blog with Collaborations:

Further Listening

Examples of Collaborative Content

Courses

Join our Facebook group

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Hi there and welcome to episode 237 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast, event, job board, series of ebooks, and courses designed to help you to start and have an amazing blog that’s going to change the world in some way, that’s going to change the lives of your audience but also build a profit, and in doing so, change your life a little way as well. You can learn more about ProBlogger over at problogger.com.

Of course, check out our two brand new courses. Firstly, our Ultimate Guide to Starting a Blog which was released earlier this year, and our soon to be released, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. You can find the Start a Blog course at problogger.com/startablog and you can sign up to be notified when our 31 Days to Build a Better Blog course goes live at problogger.com/31days.

In today’s episode, I want to talk about collaborations as a way to grow your blog, to accelerate the growth of your blog. I want to give you some practical ways that you can collaborate with other bloggers to grow you traffic, to create content, to build engagement on your blogs, and to monetize your blog. Collaborations have helped me incredibly to grow my blog, to scale it so much faster than I could’ve ever done alone, and I want to help you to do the same. You can find today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/237.

Have you ever felt that there’s just too many things that need to be done to build your blog to make it successful? This week, I was speaking to one of the students who’ve recently completed our a Start a Blog course and they said to me that they felt like they were completely overwhelmed by how much needed to be done. The words they used were they felt like it was a juggle and that they had too many balls in the air at once.

This is a feeling that I can relate too and I’m sure many of you can relate too as well because there’s so many things that need to be done to build a successful blog.

You need to write content, edit that content, polish that content, and schedule that content. You need to promote that content, drive some traffic to your blog, engage on social media, set up an email list. Then when the traffic comes, you’ve got to moderate the comments and engage with the audience, there’s email lists, there’s blog design, there’s servers, there’s plugins, and WordPress that needs to be updated, then there’s the monetization and finding the advertisers, all the affiliate products that you’re going to promote or creating the products that you’re going to sell, and then learning how to sell them, maintaining shopping carts, and the list goes on, and on. I hope I haven’t just made you feel stressed.

This is something that we all feel from time to time. It’s a common feeling. Most of us feel like we just can’t get it all done. There’s a number of solutions to this. One, we can get more effective with our time and certainly productivity is something that we teach about at ProBlogger. In fact, if you want to go back and listen to episodes 40 and 163, I’ll give you some practical tips on how to be more effective with your time. But today I want to share a principle that helps me to keep a lot of balls in the air and to scale my business beyond what I’ve ever thought I’d be able to manage in the early days by myself.

Today I want to talk about collaborations. Here’s the thing when you’re juggling balls for example. There’s only so many balls you can literally keep in the air at once. I actually just look up the world record for how many balls can you keep in the air at once and the world record is nine balls for a single person to juggle for 55 seconds and there’s a video as well of it, it’s pretty cool. You can only juggle so many balls at once, there’s a ceiling to that number but when you juggle with other people you can keep more balls in the air at once and for longer. It’s just logic really. Two people juggling nine balls each, that’s 18 balls and if you’re juggling together, potentially, you could even increase that number.

One of the things that I want to encourage you to do if you’re feeling like you just can’t get it all done, is to consider how you might want to make your blogging more of a collaborative experience. How can you involve others in the experience of blogging? There’s a number of ways to do this and the most obvious one is to hire people to help you. New team members, or to outsource tasks. That’s certainly one option but I know for many of you listening to this, it’s not realistic at this point in your blogging journey. Maybe you don’t have any money to invest into that, you might not have that sort of budget.

For the purposes of this podcast, I don’t want to talk about hiring or outsourcing, that’s probably a topic for another episode. In this podcast, I want to talk about collaborations with bloggers or other online entrepreneurs where you find a win-win opportunity to work with each other, where one person isn’t paying another person to work for them but you’re finding a win-win solution where you both can benefit from doing something together. It’s a true collaboration.

In my experience of blogging, there’s so many ways you can do this to grow your blog and the other person’s blog. The key is to write from the outset, to look for a win-win, to look for something where you are going to benefit. Your blog will grow in some way, the other person’s blog will grow in some way, and their business will grow in some way as well. You both make the same thing out of it, you both make a traffic out of it all, you both make a content out of it all, or you both make monetization out of it all. In some situations, it may be that one person gets traffic and the other person gets content or vice versa.

There’s a variety of different ways you can collaborate. In this episode what I want to do is run through four main areas that you might want to consider collaborating on and they’re all tied around the pillars of ProBlogging that we talk about quite regularly on ProBlogger. If you’ve been listening for a while, you’ll know that I advise all the time that you really should be putting most of your efforts into four things.

Firstly, creating content for your blog. Secondly, building engagement with your readers, building community with your readers. Thirdly, driving traffic to your blog, promoting your blog. Fourthly, monetizing your blog. If you want to build a profitable blog, they’re the foundational of things you should be spending most of your time in. Content, engagement, traffic, and monetization.

There’s other things that you should be doing as well but that’s probably where 90% of your time should be going into. In my experience, you can collaborate in each of these four areas and some of you will have a real strength in two or three of them and you may have some weaknesses in another one. One way that you can supplement some of your weaknesses and boost one of those other areas is to find collaborations. What I want to do is to look at each one in turn and suggest one or two things that you could be doing in each of those areas to collaborate.

Firstly, let’s look at content. There’s a variety of way that bloggers could collaborate with one another when it comes to content. Firstly, and perhaps obviously, is we allow each other to create guest content for our blogs. This is very normal, it’s very common and it’s been going on for years. I’ll write you a blog post, you write me a blog post or I’ll just write you one and you post it. There’s a variety of ways that you can kind of structure those kind of agreements, it might be we exchange posts for each other’s blogs or maybe one person just writes for the other.

The idea here is that one person gets content and the other person get some traffic or some exposure to build their profile. This is very common and this is perhaps the easiest way that you might want to collaborate in this, but there’s so many other ways that you could collaborate when it comes to content.

As I look at YouTube, I think we can learn a lot from them. YouTubers collaborate all the time. In fact, if you go to YouTube you can actually find a whole page that YouTube has created themselves to try and foster collaborations because they see it in their best interest if they get their users collaborating together. It’s very common for one YouTuber to appear on another YouTubers channel and they create a piece of content together. Sometimes the piece of content will then go and appear on both of the channels. It’s just normal, they do it all the time and they do it very, very well.

It struck me that this kind of collaboration where we create content together could happen on blogs too. It may be slightly more tricky with written words. We might think, “Well, I can’t write an article with another blogger,” but you actually can. In writing books, co-authorship happens all the time. The ProBlogger book is a co-authored book, it’s Chris Garrett and myself writing different parts of the book. We’ve seen mainstream media. Articles get written all the time that are collaborations and the by line is two people’s names there. People work together as writers, why don’t we do it more as bloggers?

I’ve got 20,000 posts that I’ve published on my blogs over the last 14 years. I didn’t write them all but of those 20,000 posts, I would say 98% of them are one person writing the post. It’s probably more like 99%. There’s two main exceptions to that. Firstly, interviews would be the main exception to that and this is a relatively easy way to collaborate on a piece of content where one person interviews another and this is where I’d be starting out if you want to go beyond this post, I would be interviewing another blogger and then getting them to interview you and have those pieces of content go up on the blog. That’s a really easy way to collaborate on a piece of content.

You could actually write the post together. I can think of two occasions where I’ve done this and I’ve published a post on ProBlogger back in 2004 and I’ll link to the post in today’s show notes so you can see them. In both of these posts, it was part of a series that I was doing on ProBlogger and the posts were written with a guy called Shayne Tilley who many of you will be familiar with. He speaks at our events almost every year and he’s written a number of articles on ProBlogger.

In these two posts, I actually asked Shayne to tackle a topic but I also realized I had some things to say about that topic as well. If you go and have a look at the post, and I encourage you to do it, you’ll see that he’s written the post but from time to time there’s this little section that says, “Darren says,” and it’s got my head in it. It’s my little face and it’s in italic so it looks slightly different. We’ve got these call out boxes, almost looks like a block quote type thing around it. Shayne writes his and his head is there and it says something like, “Shayne says,” and then it says, “Darren says,” and it’s almost like a conversation. It’s not an actual interview. he had written his article and then I chimed in with my comments along the way. This post really went over well. Our readers really enjoyed that back and forth on this topic. It’s just one way that you might want to do a post with someone else, a collaboration in that written form.

There’s so many other ways that you can do it. You could run a series of blog posts across two blogs. I have the first post on my blog, you have the second post on your blog, and then we interlink them. Sending traffic back and forth and collaborating that way, we could do a blog take over. I’ve done this in the past on ProBlogger where I’ve taken a vacation and another blogger I think, Bryan Clark from Copyblogger came on in the early days of ProBlogger and he did a whole week of content on ProBlogger. You could do that type of collaboration as well. Think creatively about it. There’s so many different ways that you could collaborate with another blogger in your niche.

That’s the first pillar, creating content. The second pillar was growing engagement or building community. When it comes to doing that, I reckon there would be a lot of different ways that we could collaborate as bloggers together. For example, why does every blogger have to have their own Facebook group or their own Facebook page? What if a few small bloggers got together and they were from the same niche and decided to have a Facebook group together that they co-ran?

You’d want to choose carefully the type of person that you wanted to work with, you wanted to have some trust with that person, I’ll talk more about building that trust later but why not do that? You may not have a big enough audience to really keep a Facebook Group running but what if two or three other bloggers in your niche decided to do it with you? Together, you probably would have enough people and it’s a way of exposing each of you to each other’s audiences and to build some engagement that could go deeper and beyond what anyone of you could do individually.

Similarly, you could run a Twitter chat together. Some bloggers actually do this, they agree on a hashtag and they decide that each of them is going to promote this hashtag, and once a week they do a Twitter chat where they get all their readers together to have a chat. Live video will be another way of doing it. You could do some live videos and share them to all of your different Facebook pages, or all of your different Facebook groups, and introduce each other’s audiences to one another. Engagement, building that sort of back and forth is something that you could do together. In fact it may actually be easier to do, particularly if you’re just starting out, if you do it together.

Third pillar was driving traffic. The same thing is true when it comes to doing that. We all share our own content on social media and emails each week. Why not partner up with another blogger and agree to share some of theirs if they share some of yours? I’ve done this a number of times over the years with other bloggers.

For example, when I was just starting Digital Photography School, there was another photography blog that was on a slightly different topic to mine. It had a slightly different focus but we realized our audiences did overlap. We decided that five times a week, once a day, we would share a post that the other one had written that day on our social media accounts. It was very simple, we just had this little Skype conversation open all the time. Every time we publish a new post, we just left the link in the Skype conversation and then every day when we’re scheduling our social media, we went to the Skype conversation and grab the other persons link and added it into our social media channels.

Once a month, we decided that we were going to promote each other’s content, one piece of content in an email newsletter. We each got to choose one of our posts that we thought would work best for the other person to link to in their newsletter. As a result of just doing that, both of our blogs grew faster and we accelerated the growth of our blog. There’d be so many different ways to do that. That was just me working with one other blogger, I’ve seen bloggers do this in little groups and they set up a Facebook group and they do this sort of sharing type thing. There’s  a lot of different ways that you could do this.

The last pillar that I want to talk about is monetization and for me this has been the biggest area of collaboration. I guess this started way, way back when I began to do affiliate promotions of other bloggers’ products. I remember the first time I actually did, I saw this other blogger in the photography space, had created an ebook. I’ve never really seen another blogger do an ebook before and then I noticed that it had this thing called an affiliate program to promote the ebook. They said that I could promote it and anyone could promote that ebook and earn 50% commission.

I think it was like a $15 ebook and I was like, “Wow, $7.50 per sale,” I wonder what I could do in terms of sales. I signed up for their program. I didn’t contact the blogger at all. I just signed up for their program and I grabbed the affiliate link, and that night I sent out an email to my little photography list. By sending out that email, I made a few hundred dollars over night and I was like, “Cool! That’s pretty cool,” that was just one email and for me that was a pretty big deal at that time. I decided a few weeks later to contact that blogger directly because I noticed they had a number of different ebooks.

I approached him, I didn’t really know what I was doing, I didn’t know whether it was a dumb thing to approach people directly but I approach the blogger and I said, “Would you be interested in giving my readers a discount on one of your ebooks?” He didn’t really know whether that was a dumb thing either, this was all new to both of us but we decided to give it a go. He’d seen the sales come through from my previous promotion and he said, “Yeah, I’ll give you 30% off for your readers for a week.” We did this week long promotion on another one of his ebooks and a few months later my email list was slowly growing, and growing, and growing and it was the first time I’ve done anything like this.

I sent out an email and it went crazy because there was a discount this time. Over the coming weeks, I think we made about $5000 in sales as this promotion ran and that promotion did a few things. Firstly, it cemented a relationship with this blogger and we continued to work together for a few years after that. We’re semi-regularly promoting each other’s ebooks. Once I created some ebooks he became an affiliate for me as well. It became a really mutual relationship where we promoted each other’s stuff, where we made quite a bit of money together. The other thing that I learned by doing that little collaboration was that ebooks worked with my audience and so I decided to create my first ebook.

I began the painstaking process of writing my first photography ebook. For me, it took me three or four months to get that ebook written, it was a lot of work. I got there in the end though. I think I tell the story of the creation of that ebook in episode 67 and back in that episode you might remember that ebook actually did really well with our audience. We made about $72000 over the 10 days after that launch. It was a really good payoff for all that work. But I got to the end of that launch and I knew I needed to do more products of my own but I just didn’t have the time. This bring me back to collaboration again.

Creating ebooks was another ball that I had to put in the air but I was already at capacity, I was already juggling my nine balls, I didn’t know how to add a tenth into that scenario. I decided the only way I could do it to create a second ebook was to find a collaborator. I reached out to one of the people who’d been writing some articles on my blog and we started talking about maybe instead of writing some articles for me, they could write an ebook for us and we decided to create this ebook together. He’s had a collaboration work, he wrote it, he did all the work, and I’m writing it which was a lot of work but I worked on the design, the marketing, I had the traffic, I had the email list, and he didn’t have any audience. I worked on promoting it and marketing it. Getting a shopping cart up, doing the customer service, and drove a lot of traffic to it, and we decided that we were going to split the profits on that.

That ebook did a lot better than the first one and it began a snowball effect in many ways. That collaborator went on to write three more ebooks. We ended up with four ebooks with him and then he also created a series of courses with us as well. It became an ongoing relationship that we had and as a result we made a fair bit of money for him and he made a fair bit of money for us as well.

Today we’ve published I think it’s around 30 ebooks. All of them, except for the very first one, are collaborations. I’ve not written a single ebook on Digital Photography School since the very first one. In fact that first one no longer is available for sale, it’s been superseded. We’ve created six courses, all of them are collaborations. We’ve created some softwares, some Lightroom presets, all of them are collaborations.

As I look at my income streams, 90% of them are collaborations. The only real exception in all of my income streams that’s not a collaboration is the job board on ProBlogger and perhaps the event that we run for ProBlogger as well although even that you could probably argue as a collaboration of sorts because we work with a variety of speakers who speak at out events as well.

Ninety-percent of my income streams, even the ad networks, that’s a collaboration. I’m partnering with AdSense, we sell ads directly to sponsors. I guess you could say that’s a collaboration because the sponsor is working with us but we actually outsource the process of selling those ads as well to a third party who takes a cut of those ads as well so that’s a collaboration too. Everything I do is collaborations when it comes to income and as I’ve been preparing this podcast, I guess really come home to me just how important collaborations have been for me.

How do you develop these collaborations I guess is the big question. The thing I want to say is that, yes, today 90% of my income comes from collaborations but it started really small. It started because that guy who wrote that first ebook with us, he started as a writer on our site and that was the small collaboration. He started writing some guest posts for us and we sent him a little bit of traffic, and helped build his profile, and he created some content for us, and that’s where it began.

The first thing I would really encourage you to do is to think about how you can start small. You may not want to leap into writing a book together as your starting point. Start with them writing a piece of content for you or you writing a piece of content for them, or start with, “Let’s promote each other’s content once a week,” and let that relationship grow, let that trust grow, see if you work well together. Do small things and let the great relationship grow naturally over time.

When I first had that guy write on my blog for the very first time, I didn’t know it was going to turn into an ebook deal, then courses, and an ongoing thing. I didn’t realize the nature of that relationship, I just started with something small. When you’re looking for collaborators, look for people who have complementary skills sets to you. You don’t want to just duplicate it, you don’t want to just choose someone who’s exactly like you because then you’ll end up just doing the same things. As you look at your own skill set, maybe there’s a deficiency, maybe you’re not as good on design, or maybe you’re not as good at promotion and marketing. Find other people who can complement those things and fill in those gaps that you have.

Look for collaborators who share your audience or at least complement your audience. You don’t have to have a blog on exactly the same topic but there needs to be enough overlap, particularly if you’re going to drive traffic in the collaboration, there’s overlap there. You don’t want to be a fashion blogger, and if they’re a travel blogger, and you’ve got completely different audiences. You might work well together if they’re a fashion blogger, and you’re a travel blogger, and you share the same demographic of audience but if you’re talking to retirees who are 70 and they’re talking to millennials, it’s probably not going to work at least in terms of sharing traffic and building engagement in that way.

Look for collaborators who share your values. I can’t stress this enough. The few times that I’ve run into issues over the years with collaborations, it usually came down to us having different expectations of the relationship, different motivations, and ultimately some different values as well. You want to choose good people, people of character, people who share your values, your goals, and expectations as well. As part of this, you want to make sure you set the boundaries of the relationship early. Get the expectations right. If it’s going beyond, “Hey, I’m going to write a piece of content for you, and you write a piece of content for me,” if you’re getting into, “We’re going to create a product together,” you want to get that in writing and know right up front how that is going to operate.

There’s a variety of models there in terms of sharing revenue. You may do a collaboration where one person takes a higher percentage of profit or revenue based upon them bringing more to that relationship. It doesn’t always have to be 50-50 but you want to be really clear up front about how the benefits, the wins from that collaborations are going to be split up.

Lastly, communicate. It’s just so important to keep the avenues of communication open in these collaborations at all times. I’ll just stress again, start small, you don’t have to leap into a massive collaboration with someone that you barely know. You want to build trust. Let that relationship grow naturally and who knows where it might end up.

I hope that’s helpful. I would love to hear your stories of collaboration. I know many of you have collaborated in ways that I haven’t mentioned in this particular podcast and so I’d love to hear how you collaborate. Maybe we could do a follow up podcast at some stage with some of the things that you advice. You can let us know how you collaborate, any ideas that you’ve got on this topic in two ways. Firstly, on our show notes where there’s an opportunity to comment at problogger.com/podcast/237 or in our Facebook group. You can let us know there any tips that you’ve got. If you are sharing a tip, just make sure you use the appropriate hashtag there. We like everyone to hashtag every post that they’ve got. If you’ve got some advice, hashtag it with that and if you’ve got a question to ask as well, make sure you do that. There’s information in our pinned post about how to hashtag your posts.

Thank you so much for listening today. I’m actually going to be on the road next week, there may not be a podcast coming out on next Monday because I will be in San Diego at Social Media Marketing World where I’ll be doing a talk. Part of my talk is actually about this very topic. If you’re in San Diego, I’d love to catch up with you at Social Media Marketing World. Otherwise, I’ll be back on the podcast in a couple of weeks’ time with episode 238. Thanks for listening, chat with you next time.

If you are looking for something else to listen to, I did mention a few episodes during this particular episode. Episode 40 was 7 Productivity tips for Bloggers, episode 163 was another 3 Different Tips for Increasing your Productivity, and episode 67 was How To Create A Product For Your Blog where I tell the story of my first product and give you some suggestions on creating products for your own.

Dig around in the archives, there’s 236 other episodes to find there. You might want to go back through iTunes. They’re all sitting there, at least they will be for the next little while. I think 300 is the limit. Some of those early episodes will begin to disappear once we get up to the 300 episode mark. Thanks for listening.

If you’ve got a moment as well in iTunes or whatever podcast app you are listening to, I would love it if you’d leave us a review and rating. I do read them all, I get a notification every week every time a new one comes in. Let us know what your name is in that as well and if you want to pop in your blog link, it doesn’t come up as a hyperlink but I do check out the links of all blogs that are mentioned there as well. Thanks for listening, chat with you next time.

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

This episode of the ProBlogger podcast was edited by the team at PodcastMotor, who offer a great range of services including helping you to set up and launch your podcast as well as ongoing editing and production of the podcast that you produce. You can check them out at podcastmotor.com

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237: How Collaborations Can Accelerate Your Blog’s Growth

How to Use Collaborations to Grow Your Blog

Have you ever felt that too many things need doing to build a successful blog?

A student I spoke to this week who recently completed our Start A Blog course said they were a little overwhelmed by how much needed to be done.

They said it felt like juggling with too many balls in the air.

So today I want to share a principle that has helped me keep a lot of balls in the air, and scale my business beyond what I ever thought I could manage–collaborations.

When you’re juggling alone you can only keep so many balls in the air. (The current record is 9 balls for 55 seconds.) But if you juggle with other people, you can keep more balls in the air for longer.

And this podcast is all about how you can make your blogging a more collaborative experience.

Links and Resources for How to Accelerate the Growth of Your Blog with Collaborations:

Further Listening

Examples of Collaborative Content

Courses

Join our Facebook group

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Hi there and welcome to episode 237 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast, event, job board, series of ebooks, and courses designed to help you to start and have an amazing blog that’s going to change the world in some way, that’s going to change the lives of your audience but also build a profit, and in doing so, change your life a little way as well. You can learn more about ProBlogger over at problogger.com.

Of course, check out our two brand new courses. Firstly, our Ultimate Guide to Starting a Blog which was released earlier this year, and our soon to be released, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. You can find the Start a Blog course at problogger.com/startablog and you can sign up to be notified when our 31 Days to Build a Better Blog course goes live at problogger.com/31days.

In today’s episode, I want to talk about collaborations as a way to grow your blog, to accelerate the growth of your blog. I want to give you some practical ways that you can collaborate with other bloggers to grow you traffic, to create content, to build engagement on your blogs, and to monetize your blog. Collaborations have helped me incredibly to grow my blog, to scale it so much faster than I could’ve ever done alone, and I want to help you to do the same. You can find today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/237.

Have you ever felt that there’s just too many things that need to be done to build your blog to make it successful? This week, I was speaking to one of the students who’ve recently completed our a Start a Blog course and they said to me that they felt like they were completely overwhelmed by how much needed to be done. The words they used were they felt like it was a juggle and that they had too many balls in the air at once.

This is a feeling that I can relate too and I’m sure many of you can relate too as well because there’s so many things that need to be done to build a successful blog.

You need to write content, edit that content, polish that content, and schedule that content. You need to promote that content, drive some traffic to your blog, engage on social media, set up an email list. Then when the traffic comes, you’ve got to moderate the comments and engage with the audience, there’s email lists, there’s blog design, there’s servers, there’s plugins, and WordPress that needs to be updated, then there’s the monetization and finding the advertisers, all the affiliate products that you’re going to promote or creating the products that you’re going to sell, and then learning how to sell them, maintaining shopping carts, and the list goes on, and on. I hope I haven’t just made you feel stressed.

This is something that we all feel from time to time. It’s a common feeling. Most of us feel like we just can’t get it all done. There’s a number of solutions to this. One, we can get more effective with our time and certainly productivity is something that we teach about at ProBlogger. In fact, if you want to go back and listen to episodes 40 and 163, I’ll give you some practical tips on how to be more effective with your time. But today I want to share a principle that helps me to keep a lot of balls in the air and to scale my business beyond what I’ve ever thought I’d be able to manage in the early days by myself.

Today I want to talk about collaborations. Here’s the thing when you’re juggling balls for example. There’s only so many balls you can literally keep in the air at once. I actually just look up the world record for how many balls can you keep in the air at once and the world record is nine balls for a single person to juggle for 55 seconds and there’s a video as well of it, it’s pretty cool. You can only juggle so many balls at once, there’s a ceiling to that number but when you juggle with other people you can keep more balls in the air at once and for longer. It’s just logic really. Two people juggling nine balls each, that’s 18 balls and if you’re juggling together, potentially, you could even increase that number.

One of the things that I want to encourage you to do if you’re feeling like you just can’t get it all done, is to consider how you might want to make your blogging more of a collaborative experience. How can you involve others in the experience of blogging? There’s a number of ways to do this and the most obvious one is to hire people to help you. New team members, or to outsource tasks. That’s certainly one option but I know for many of you listening to this, it’s not realistic at this point in your blogging journey. Maybe you don’t have any money to invest into that, you might not have that sort of budget.

For the purposes of this podcast, I don’t want to talk about hiring or outsourcing, that’s probably a topic for another episode. In this podcast, I want to talk about collaborations with bloggers or other online entrepreneurs where you find a win-win opportunity to work with each other, where one person isn’t paying another person to work for them but you’re finding a win-win solution where you both can benefit from doing something together. It’s a true collaboration.

In my experience of blogging, there’s so many ways you can do this to grow your blog and the other person’s blog. The key is to write from the outset, to look for a win-win, to look for something where you are going to benefit. Your blog will grow in some way, the other person’s blog will grow in some way, and their business will grow in some way as well. You both make the same thing out of it, you both make a traffic out of it all, you both make a content out of it all, or you both make monetization out of it all. In some situations, it may be that one person gets traffic and the other person gets content or vice versa.

There’s a variety of different ways you can collaborate. In this episode what I want to do is run through four main areas that you might want to consider collaborating on and they’re all tied around the pillars of ProBlogging that we talk about quite regularly on ProBlogger. If you’ve been listening for a while, you’ll know that I advise all the time that you really should be putting most of your efforts into four things.

Firstly, creating content for your blog. Secondly, building engagement with your readers, building community with your readers. Thirdly, driving traffic to your blog, promoting your blog. Fourthly, monetizing your blog. If you want to build a profitable blog, they’re the foundational of things you should be spending most of your time in. Content, engagement, traffic, and monetization.

There’s other things that you should be doing as well but that’s probably where 90% of your time should be going into. In my experience, you can collaborate in each of these four areas and some of you will have a real strength in two or three of them and you may have some weaknesses in another one. One way that you can supplement some of your weaknesses and boost one of those other areas is to find collaborations. What I want to do is to look at each one in turn and suggest one or two things that you could be doing in each of those areas to collaborate.

Firstly, let’s look at content. There’s a variety of way that bloggers could collaborate with one another when it comes to content. Firstly, and perhaps obviously, is we allow each other to create guest content for our blogs. This is very normal, it’s very common and it’s been going on for years. I’ll write you a blog post, you write me a blog post or I’ll just write you one and you post it. There’s a variety of ways that you can kind of structure those kind of agreements, it might be we exchange posts for each other’s blogs or maybe one person just writes for the other.

The idea here is that one person gets content and the other person get some traffic or some exposure to build their profile. This is very common and this is perhaps the easiest way that you might want to collaborate in this, but there’s so many other ways that you could collaborate when it comes to content.

As I look at YouTube, I think we can learn a lot from them. YouTubers collaborate all the time. In fact, if you go to YouTube you can actually find a whole page that YouTube has created themselves to try and foster collaborations because they see it in their best interest if they get their users collaborating together. It’s very common for one YouTuber to appear on another YouTubers channel and they create a piece of content together. Sometimes the piece of content will then go and appear on both of the channels. It’s just normal, they do it all the time and they do it very, very well.

It struck me that this kind of collaboration where we create content together could happen on blogs too. It may be slightly more tricky with written words. We might think, “Well, I can’t write an article with another blogger,” but you actually can. In writing books, co-authorship happens all the time. The ProBlogger book is a co-authored book, it’s Chris Garrett and myself writing different parts of the book. We’ve seen mainstream media. Articles get written all the time that are collaborations and the by line is two people’s names there. People work together as writers, why don’t we do it more as bloggers?

I’ve got 20,000 posts that I’ve published on my blogs over the last 14 years. I didn’t write them all but of those 20,000 posts, I would say 98% of them are one person writing the post. It’s probably more like 99%. There’s two main exceptions to that. Firstly, interviews would be the main exception to that and this is a relatively easy way to collaborate on a piece of content where one person interviews another and this is where I’d be starting out if you want to go beyond this post, I would be interviewing another blogger and then getting them to interview you and have those pieces of content go up on the blog. That’s a really easy way to collaborate on a piece of content.

You could actually write the post together. I can think of two occasions where I’ve done this and I’ve published a post on ProBlogger back in 2004 and I’ll link to the post in today’s show notes so you can see them. In both of these posts, it was part of a series that I was doing on ProBlogger and the posts were written with a guy called Shayne Tilley who many of you will be familiar with. He speaks at our events almost every year and he’s written a number of articles on ProBlogger.

In these two posts, I actually asked Shayne to tackle a topic but I also realized I had some things to say about that topic as well. If you go and have a look at the post, and I encourage you to do it, you’ll see that he’s written the post but from time to time there’s this little section that says, “Darren says,” and it’s got my head in it. It’s my little face and it’s in italic so it looks slightly different. We’ve got these call out boxes, almost looks like a block quote type thing around it. Shayne writes his and his head is there and it says something like, “Shayne says,” and then it says, “Darren says,” and it’s almost like a conversation. It’s not an actual interview. he had written his article and then I chimed in with my comments along the way. This post really went over well. Our readers really enjoyed that back and forth on this topic. It’s just one way that you might want to do a post with someone else, a collaboration in that written form.

There’s so many other ways that you can do it. You could run a series of blog posts across two blogs. I have the first post on my blog, you have the second post on your blog, and then we interlink them. Sending traffic back and forth and collaborating that way, we could do a blog take over. I’ve done this in the past on ProBlogger where I’ve taken a vacation and another blogger I think, Bryan Clark from Copyblogger came on in the early days of ProBlogger and he did a whole week of content on ProBlogger. You could do that type of collaboration as well. Think creatively about it. There’s so many different ways that you could collaborate with another blogger in your niche.

That’s the first pillar, creating content. The second pillar was growing engagement or building community. When it comes to doing that, I reckon there would be a lot of different ways that we could collaborate as bloggers together. For example, why does every blogger have to have their own Facebook group or their own Facebook page? What if a few small bloggers got together and they were from the same niche and decided to have a Facebook group together that they co-ran?

You’d want to choose carefully the type of person that you wanted to work with, you wanted to have some trust with that person, I’ll talk more about building that trust later but why not do that? You may not have a big enough audience to really keep a Facebook Group running but what if two or three other bloggers in your niche decided to do it with you? Together, you probably would have enough people and it’s a way of exposing each of you to each other’s audiences and to build some engagement that could go deeper and beyond what anyone of you could do individually.

Similarly, you could run a Twitter chat together. Some bloggers actually do this, they agree on a hashtag and they decide that each of them is going to promote this hashtag, and once a week they do a Twitter chat where they get all their readers together to have a chat. Live video will be another way of doing it. You could do some live videos and share them to all of your different Facebook pages, or all of your different Facebook groups, and introduce each other’s audiences to one another. Engagement, building that sort of back and forth is something that you could do together. In fact it may actually be easier to do, particularly if you’re just starting out, if you do it together.

Third pillar was driving traffic. The same thing is true when it comes to doing that. We all share our own content on social media and emails each week. Why not partner up with another blogger and agree to share some of theirs if they share some of yours? I’ve done this a number of times over the years with other bloggers.

For example, when I was just starting Digital Photography School, there was another photography blog that was on a slightly different topic to mine. It had a slightly different focus but we realized our audiences did overlap. We decided that five times a week, once a day, we would share a post that the other one had written that day on our social media accounts. It was very simple, we just had this little Skype conversation open all the time. Every time we publish a new post, we just left the link in the Skype conversation and then every day when we’re scheduling our social media, we went to the Skype conversation and grab the other persons link and added it into our social media channels.

Once a month, we decided that we were going to promote each other’s content, one piece of content in an email newsletter. We each got to choose one of our posts that we thought would work best for the other person to link to in their newsletter. As a result of just doing that, both of our blogs grew faster and we accelerated the growth of our blog. There’d be so many different ways to do that. That was just me working with one other blogger, I’ve seen bloggers do this in little groups and they set up a Facebook group and they do this sort of sharing type thing. There’s  a lot of different ways that you could do this.

The last pillar that I want to talk about is monetization and for me this has been the biggest area of collaboration. I guess this started way, way back when I began to do affiliate promotions of other bloggers’ products. I remember the first time I actually did, I saw this other blogger in the photography space, had created an ebook. I’ve never really seen another blogger do an ebook before and then I noticed that it had this thing called an affiliate program to promote the ebook. They said that I could promote it and anyone could promote that ebook and earn 50% commission.

I think it was like a $15 ebook and I was like, “Wow, $7.50 per sale,” I wonder what I could do in terms of sales. I signed up for their program. I didn’t contact the blogger at all. I just signed up for their program and I grabbed the affiliate link, and that night I sent out an email to my little photography list. By sending out that email, I made a few hundred dollars over night and I was like, “Cool! That’s pretty cool,” that was just one email and for me that was a pretty big deal at that time. I decided a few weeks later to contact that blogger directly because I noticed they had a number of different ebooks.

I approached him, I didn’t really know what I was doing, I didn’t know whether it was a dumb thing to approach people directly but I approach the blogger and I said, “Would you be interested in giving my readers a discount on one of your ebooks?” He didn’t really know whether that was a dumb thing either, this was all new to both of us but we decided to give it a go. He’d seen the sales come through from my previous promotion and he said, “Yeah, I’ll give you 30% off for your readers for a week.” We did this week long promotion on another one of his ebooks and a few months later my email list was slowly growing, and growing, and growing and it was the first time I’ve done anything like this.

I sent out an email and it went crazy because there was a discount this time. Over the coming weeks, I think we made about $5000 in sales as this promotion ran and that promotion did a few things. Firstly, it cemented a relationship with this blogger and we continued to work together for a few years after that. We’re semi-regularly promoting each other’s ebooks. Once I created some ebooks he became an affiliate for me as well. It became a really mutual relationship where we promoted each other’s stuff, where we made quite a bit of money together. The other thing that I learned by doing that little collaboration was that ebooks worked with my audience and so I decided to create my first ebook.

I began the painstaking process of writing my first photography ebook. For me, it took me three or four months to get that ebook written, it was a lot of work. I got there in the end though. I think I tell the story of the creation of that ebook in episode 67 and back in that episode you might remember that ebook actually did really well with our audience. We made about $72000 over the 10 days after that launch. It was a really good payoff for all that work. But I got to the end of that launch and I knew I needed to do more products of my own but I just didn’t have the time. This bring me back to collaboration again.

Creating ebooks was another ball that I had to put in the air but I was already at capacity, I was already juggling my nine balls, I didn’t know how to add a tenth into that scenario. I decided the only way I could do it to create a second ebook was to find a collaborator. I reached out to one of the people who’d been writing some articles on my blog and we started talking about maybe instead of writing some articles for me, they could write an ebook for us and we decided to create this ebook together. He’s had a collaboration work, he wrote it, he did all the work, and I’m writing it which was a lot of work but I worked on the design, the marketing, I had the traffic, I had the email list, and he didn’t have any audience. I worked on promoting it and marketing it. Getting a shopping cart up, doing the customer service, and drove a lot of traffic to it, and we decided that we were going to split the profits on that.

That ebook did a lot better than the first one and it began a snowball effect in many ways. That collaborator went on to write three more ebooks. We ended up with four ebooks with him and then he also created a series of courses with us as well. It became an ongoing relationship that we had and as a result we made a fair bit of money for him and he made a fair bit of money for us as well.

Today we’ve published I think it’s around 30 ebooks. All of them, except for the very first one, are collaborations. I’ve not written a single ebook on Digital Photography School since the very first one. In fact that first one no longer is available for sale, it’s been superseded. We’ve created six courses, all of them are collaborations. We’ve created some softwares, some Lightroom presets, all of them are collaborations.

As I look at my income streams, 90% of them are collaborations. The only real exception in all of my income streams that’s not a collaboration is the job board on ProBlogger and perhaps the event that we run for ProBlogger as well although even that you could probably argue as a collaboration of sorts because we work with a variety of speakers who speak at out events as well.

Ninety-percent of my income streams, even the ad networks, that’s a collaboration. I’m partnering with AdSense, we sell ads directly to sponsors. I guess you could say that’s a collaboration because the sponsor is working with us but we actually outsource the process of selling those ads as well to a third party who takes a cut of those ads as well so that’s a collaboration too. Everything I do is collaborations when it comes to income and as I’ve been preparing this podcast, I guess really come home to me just how important collaborations have been for me.

How do you develop these collaborations I guess is the big question. The thing I want to say is that, yes, today 90% of my income comes from collaborations but it started really small. It started because that guy who wrote that first ebook with us, he started as a writer on our site and that was the small collaboration. He started writing some guest posts for us and we sent him a little bit of traffic, and helped build his profile, and he created some content for us, and that’s where it began.

The first thing I would really encourage you to do is to think about how you can start small. You may not want to leap into writing a book together as your starting point. Start with them writing a piece of content for you or you writing a piece of content for them, or start with, “Let’s promote each other’s content once a week,” and let that relationship grow, let that trust grow, see if you work well together. Do small things and let the great relationship grow naturally over time.

When I first had that guy write on my blog for the very first time, I didn’t know it was going to turn into an ebook deal, then courses, and an ongoing thing. I didn’t realize the nature of that relationship, I just started with something small. When you’re looking for collaborators, look for people who have complementary skills sets to you. You don’t want to just duplicate it, you don’t want to just choose someone who’s exactly like you because then you’ll end up just doing the same things. As you look at your own skill set, maybe there’s a deficiency, maybe you’re not as good on design, or maybe you’re not as good at promotion and marketing. Find other people who can complement those things and fill in those gaps that you have.

Look for collaborators who share your audience or at least complement your audience. You don’t have to have a blog on exactly the same topic but there needs to be enough overlap, particularly if you’re going to drive traffic in the collaboration, there’s overlap there. You don’t want to be a fashion blogger, and if they’re a travel blogger, and you’ve got completely different audiences. You might work well together if they’re a fashion blogger, and you’re a travel blogger, and you share the same demographic of audience but if you’re talking to retirees who are 70 and they’re talking to millennials, it’s probably not going to work at least in terms of sharing traffic and building engagement in that way.

Look for collaborators who share your values. I can’t stress this enough. The few times that I’ve run into issues over the years with collaborations, it usually came down to us having different expectations of the relationship, different motivations, and ultimately some different values as well. You want to choose good people, people of character, people who share your values, your goals, and expectations as well. As part of this, you want to make sure you set the boundaries of the relationship early. Get the expectations right. If it’s going beyond, “Hey, I’m going to write a piece of content for you, and you write a piece of content for me,” if you’re getting into, “We’re going to create a product together,” you want to get that in writing and know right up front how that is going to operate.

There’s a variety of models there in terms of sharing revenue. You may do a collaboration where one person takes a higher percentage of profit or revenue based upon them bringing more to that relationship. It doesn’t always have to be 50-50 but you want to be really clear up front about how the benefits, the wins from that collaborations are going to be split up.

Lastly, communicate. It’s just so important to keep the avenues of communication open in these collaborations at all times. I’ll just stress again, start small, you don’t have to leap into a massive collaboration with someone that you barely know. You want to build trust. Let that relationship grow naturally and who knows where it might end up.

I hope that’s helpful. I would love to hear your stories of collaboration. I know many of you have collaborated in ways that I haven’t mentioned in this particular podcast and so I’d love to hear how you collaborate. Maybe we could do a follow up podcast at some stage with some of the things that you advice. You can let us know how you collaborate, any ideas that you’ve got on this topic in two ways. Firstly, on our show notes where there’s an opportunity to comment at problogger.com/podcast/237 or in our Facebook group. You can let us know there any tips that you’ve got. If you are sharing a tip, just make sure you use the appropriate hashtag there. We like everyone to hashtag every post that they’ve got. If you’ve got some advice, hashtag it with that and if you’ve got a question to ask as well, make sure you do that. There’s information in our pinned post about how to hashtag your posts.

Thank you so much for listening today. I’m actually going to be on the road next week, there may not be a podcast coming out on next Monday because I will be in San Diego at Social Media Marketing World where I’ll be doing a talk. Part of my talk is actually about this very topic. If you’re in San Diego, I’d love to catch up with you at Social Media Marketing World. Otherwise, I’ll be back on the podcast in a couple of weeks’ time with episode 238. Thanks for listening, chat with you next time.

If you are looking for something else to listen to, I did mention a few episodes during this particular episode. Episode 40 was 7 Productivity tips for Bloggers, episode 163 was another 3 Different Tips for Increasing your Productivity, and episode 67 was How To Create A Product For Your Blog where I tell the story of my first product and give you some suggestions on creating products for your own.

Dig around in the archives, there’s 236 other episodes to find there. You might want to go back through iTunes. They’re all sitting there, at least they will be for the next little while. I think 300 is the limit. Some of those early episodes will begin to disappear once we get up to the 300 episode mark. Thanks for listening.

If you’ve got a moment as well in iTunes or whatever podcast app you are listening to, I would love it if you’d leave us a review and rating. I do read them all, I get a notification every week every time a new one comes in. Let us know what your name is in that as well and if you want to pop in your blog link, it doesn’t come up as a hyperlink but I do check out the links of all blogs that are mentioned there as well. Thanks for listening, chat with you next time.

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

This episode of the ProBlogger podcast was edited by the team at PodcastMotor, who offer a great range of services including helping you to set up and launch your podcast as well as ongoing editing and production of the podcast that you produce. You can check them out at podcastmotor.com

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234: How to Relaunch Your Blog After It Becomes Dormant

How to Relaunch a Dormant Blog

In today’s episode, I want to answer a question I get regularly from listeners: How do you relaunch a blog that has died or become dormant?

I want to talk you through two scenarios for relaunching a blog, and give you 11 things to consider during a relaunch.

Before I get into today’s show though, a couple of things.

Firstly, this week on 7th February we’ve got our first ever International Start a Blog Day. For those of you enrolled in our Start a Blog Course, keep working on your launch.

And secondly, coming up in March we have our brand new course – 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. This is a perfect course for anyone in their first month of blogging, anyone relaunching a blog, or anyone who is blogging and just wants to give their blog a bit of a kick start.

It’s a brilliant month of learning, but more importantly doing small things every day to improve your blog.

Whether you do the tasks daily or tackle the course slower, it’ll give your blog a boost.

Register your interest in the course at problogger.com/31days and we’ll send you an email when it launches with a special early bird discount.

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Good morning and welcome to episode 234 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast, event, job board, series of ebooks, and courses, all designed to help you as a blogger to start a great blog, to create great content on that blog that’s gonna change your reader’s lives, to find new readers for your blog, and to build profit around your blog as well. You can learn more about what we do ProBlogger at problogger.com. You can also dig into previous episodes of the show and thousands of tutorials that we’ve published over the years.

In today’s episode, episode 234, I wanna answer a question I get regularly from readers. How do you relaunch a blog that’s previously died or become dormant? I wanna talk you through two scenarios for relaunching your blog and give you 11 things to consider during the relaunch, 11 questions to ask yourself that will help you to relaunch with your best foot forward.

Before I get into today’s show, I want to mention two things. Firstly, this week, on the 7th of February, we’ve got our first ever International Start a Blog Day. For those of you who have previously enrolled in our Start a Blog course, keep working on your launch and look out for emails from us of details on how to participate in that.

If you already have a blog and you wanna check out some amazing new blogs, watch out on problogger.com on the 7th of February and you’ll see a massive list of some amazing new blogs. If you follow us on our Facebook page, facebook.com/problogger, I will also be featuring some of the new blogs on that day and some live videos.

The other thing to mention is that coming up in March, we have a brand new course, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, which has previously been an ebook and a series of blog posts, and a series of podcasts as well. We’ve updated it all and we’ve put it together in a course format.

For anyone who is in the first month of blogging, maybe you’ve just done that Start a Blog course or anyone who is relaunching a dormant blog, this would be perfect for you and anyone who’s been blogging for a while who just wants to give their blog a bit of a kickstart, maybe it’s that time of the year and you wanna get things going again, this is a brilliant course that’s really going to walk you through over a month or you can take it slow if you want to, some teaching, and more importantly doing some small things everyday to improve your blog.

Time and time again, I hear from people who’ve done this course and they’ve stuck it out through to the end. Previously, they’ve done it as ebooks, they’ve said that it really has given them a boost. The most important thing is not the learning, it’s the doing, it’s the implementing the small things that we suggest everyday. If that sounds like it’s gonna float your boat and improve your blog, check out problogger.com/31days and you’ll be forwarded there to an outline of the course and also a place where you can register your interests and we’ll let you know when the course goes live. We’ll also send you a special early bird discount as well.

If you are listening to this sometime in the future and it’s already live, you’ll already be able to sign up there at problogger.com/31days and get involved in that course. Today’s show notes are at problogger.com/podcast/234 and with all that said, I’m gonna get into today’s show.

Last week, I was asked by a reader of ProBlogger for advice on how to relaunch their blog, which had become dormant for the last year. They’ve had 12 months off blogging. They’ve had to take a break from blogging, blogging had to take a backseat I guess, while other things in their life or their family took priority. They have some really good reasons for putting their blog on hold for that 12 months. But now things had settled down at home, they wanted to get back into blogging again.

This is something that many of us bloggers have to deal with at different times. There’s been times where I’ve put my blogs on hold, not ProBlogger and Digital Photography School but I’ve had other blogs that have been on hold and one day, I may need to relaunch them. This is something I thought through numerous times for myself but also in talking other bloggers through as well.

Maybe the reason your blog has become dormant is a family reason, or a health crisis that you just have to put things on hold for a while, maybe it’s because you’ve lost motivation or passion to keep the blog going, maybe you’ve become disillusioned, or distracted, maybe things just haven’t quite worked and so you’ve put things on hold for a period of time. No matter what the reason, many blogs tend to have this period where they at least slow down or become completely dormant.

In today’s show, what I wanna do is give you some advice on bringing those old blogs back to life. The first thing that I wanna say, and really this is so important, is to assess the current state of play, to actually do some thinking about where things are at for you at the moment. Of course, there’s no one piece of advice that I can give you here, but I think really, if you do this first step of assessing the current state of play, assessing how you are and how your blog is, it’s going to help you to determine what to do next.

What I wanna suggest you do is answer a few questions and these will all be in the transcript of today’s show. The first three questions are about you. The first question I want you to ask is why did the blog become dormant? Why did you stop blogging? Understanding this is gonna help you to guard against that thing happening again. Maybe it was you become disillusioned, maybe there’s health stuff going on. The answer doesn’t really matter but understanding why the blog became dormant is actually important because it’s gonna help you to guard against that happening again.

The second question is what are your dreams and goals for the blog? I think it’s really important to go back to this because you probably started your blog with certain objectives, certain goals, certain dreams, certain things that you thought might happen but the reality is that it may have changed for you. What were your goals and dreams and what are they now? Actually getting back to your why is really important because it will shape what you do and you’ll probably find your why will be a little bit more realistic the second time. It possibly has evolved a bit. What is your dream? What is your goal for the blog?

And thirdly, do you still want the blog to have the same topic or focus? You may just think this blog was great, I loved it, but life got in the way and I just wanna start again doing what I was doing. That’s fine, but maybe you wanna tweak things a little bit. We’re gonna talk a little bit more about pivoting your blog later but I think it’s really important to begin to ask those questions and you probably already got the answers to those in your mind.

The second group of questions are about the blog itself. The questions that you might wanna consider, I’ve got five for you. How long has it been since the blog was active? That is going to determine how you’ll relaunch it. If it’s only been month, you can probably get back to blogging pretty quickly. But if it’s been 12 months, or it’s been two years, or five years. I talked to one blogger recently who had a blog five years ago and they wanna relaunch it. The strategies that you use are probably going to be different.

If your blog has been dormant for five years, you’re probably gonna wanna do some redesign, you’re probably gonna wanna update archives, you might wanna completely change tech. But if it’s only been a month, you can probably get back to it a little bit faster. How long has it been since the blog was active? How much traffic does the blog still have? Actually, dig into your Google Analytics account. If you haven’t got a Google analytics account, install it, and work out if you still have any traffic.

I was looking at one of my old blogs the other day and I realized it was still getting a thousand visitors a day and they were all coming in from Google. Is it getting traffic? Where is the traffic coming from? Is it coming in from the search engines? Is it coming in from social media? Is it coming in from other sites? Maybe you’ve got some links coming in from other sites as well. Do you have traffic? How much traffic? Where is the traffic coming from and where is it going to? This is really important. Do you have a post or a page on your blog that’s still performing really well?

I talked to a lot of bloggers who have dormant blogs and they tell me that they’ve just got the one post in their archives that’s going really well. Understanding what that post is or what that page is can really help as you think about moving forward because that page might be a good starting place to do some analysis, to do some updating, and to think about the leveraging in someway. Think about the traffic but maybe you don’t have any traffic at all and so you can skip through that one, but digging into that is important.

Social media is another thing to ask. Do you have social media accounts set up? How many followers are on those accounts? Where was the action previously for you in terms of social media? You can ask the same question about email subscribers. How many email subscribers does it have? Is it still getting fresh email subscribers or are they all very old, you know, years ago kind of subscribers? Understanding a little bit about the health of your social media and email subscribers is important. Are they warm? Have automated things been happening to keep those subscribers and followers warm and connected with you or are they completely cold? That’s going to shape your strategy for warming up your list again.

I guess the last question to ask about your blog is if your blog topic or focus is changing. I’m getting to this a little bit more. Is the current domain still relevant? That’s just another question to ponder now. I’ll talk a little bit about that later.

We’ve asked questions about you, we’ve asked questions about your blog, and it’s probably also worth doing a little bit of analysis on the niche that you’re in as well. Some questions about your niche. What’s the current state of play in the niche that you’re operating in? If it’s been a couple of years since you blogged, you might wanna do a bit of a dig around to find out what other people are doing in your niche. Who are the big players? Who are the big bloggers? Who are the big social media influencers? What are other bloggers mainly doing at the moment? Have they changed tech? Are they using different types of mediums? Are they all in podcasts now? Are they all on video? Where is the action happening for them in terms of social media?

Doing some digging there can actually help you to work out where you should be doing things as well. Not that you wanna just copy what everyone else is doing, maybe you actually spot some gaps in what they’re not doing, some opportunities that you could do, but they also would give you some hints to where is the most logical place for you to be engaging in terms of social media. Are there any other emerging trends in the niche or industry that you could latch onto?

In the photography space for example, over the last four, five years, we’ve seen the emergence of new types of cameras, of drone photography. If I was relaunching my photography blog today, one thing that I might do would be to have a blog that really focuses on the new types of cameras, the new types of technologies, drone photography for example, mobile phone photography because things have changed over the years. Understanding how your industry, your niche has changed is really important as well.

Hopefully, in asking some of these questions about you, your blog, your niche, you begin to hopefully get a bit of an understanding for a few things about your relaunch. Hopefully, one of two scenarios is probably emerging. I wanna talk about these two scenarios.

Most of the times, I see people relaunching, they end up doing one of two things. First scenario, maybe as you’re pondering these questions, you will realize that you were already on the right track with your blog and you just needed to get back to it. Your blog was doing well and maybe the reason you stopped was health reason, or an emergency, or something just interrupted you and it was relatively healthy and you just wanna get back to it. This is obviously the most easy scenario but there’s a few pieces of advice that I would really want to encourage you to consider if that’s you. You just wanna get back to blogging, well there’s a couple of things that I would like to encourage you to really focus upon.  

Firstly, pay attention to the content you’ve already published that’s still working for you or that has worked in the past. One of the things that you can really shortcut the growth of your blog again is to really pay attention to that type of content. As I mentioned before, you possibly already got a post that is still getting traffic. I would be starting with those posts and maybe updating them, maybe republishing them. Put a new date on them as long as the URL doesn’t change. Put them back up as fresh content on your blog in someway.

If it’s something that’s already working for you in someway, update it and leverage it to get some new subscribers.Write some follow up content on those topics. Repurpose it perhaps in a different medium. You might wanna take the written basic content and do a video, or an audio post, and really pay attention to those pieces of content that are already working. Also, think about are there ways that you could expand upon them. I guess, do similar types of things. If you’ve got a category that’s really working for you, maybe focus more upon that category because there’s obviously still interests in that category if it’s still getting traffic to it.

Pay attention to your archives. Just don’t start writing new content all the time. Actually, I think one of the emerging trends I’ve noticed in a lot of bloggers recently is that they’re paying as much attention to their archives as they are to new content. Go into your relaunch maybe writing some new content but also updating your archives, maybe every second piece of content that you published, maybe you should be doing a new one and then updating something old and then a new one and then updating something old.

The second thing I’d say is if you’re just getting back into blogging, you wanna pay attention to warming up your old followers, subscribers, and readers. If you have a dormant blog, you’re gonna have a cold reader, a cold email list, a cold social media following. They’re not as warm to you as they were in the past. They may still think highly of you, they might still remember you, but they might be a bit frustrated that you haven’t been updating, or they may be wondering if you are still alive, or if you are still healthy, or if you’re still interested in them and their topic. They may be feeling a bit abandoned. You may need to just think through how do you warm them up again?

Maybe if it’s been a long absence, maybe you need to explain your absence, maybe this might be a time to do a video post that tells the story of your last 12 months. You may not wanna go into great detail if it’s been a health thing but maybe that actually helps to make connection with your audience. If you can tell your story, that sometimes can warm people up.

Maybe, now is the good time to create something to give them as a gift. Maybe you’re going to create an opt in for your new email subscribers but you can send it to your old subscribers as well just to say thank you for sticking around. Maybe this would be a good time for you to launch with a series of content that’s gonna get your readers to do something, some sort of a challenge, or content event. These types of content actually are all about not just teaching your readers or not just informing them but actually engaging with them in someway, or maybe you wanna use live video, or more images, or something that’s a bit more personal in terms of the medium itself to warm up your readers in some way.

I guess the key thing is if you just need to get back to blogging, you really just need to get back to blogging and you need to start creating content again. The best thing that you can do in relaunching your blog, particularly if it’s just picking up where you left off, is to be as useful as possible to your readers. That’s the first scenario.

What I wanna do after I talk about the second scenario is give you 11 more things to think about that will be relevant for you if you’re in that first scenario as well. Hang in there. I’ve got some more that will be relevant for you as well, but is also relevant to people in the second scenario.

First scenario, you’re just picking things back up where you left off. The second scenario is that maybe as you answer those questions that I went through earlier, as you assess the current state of play for your blog, maybe you’re realizing that you need to change direction. Maybe your blog became dormant because you lost the passion for your topic, maybe you stopped because the niche changed, the blog wasn’t working in some way. To just start up again in the same way that you ended it is probably gonna end up leading to the same kind of results.

Maybe as you’re doing the assessment, you realize you need to change the way you approach a blog. You need to pivot in someway. The second scenario is about pivoting your blog. I think in most cases, a pivot is probably a good idea. These things were really firing in the past and you can just pick things up again and keep them firing. You’re probably gonna change it if you’ve had a break from blogging. You’re probably gonna find, if you’ve had a break from blogging, that you need to pivot in someway. There are four different ways that you might wanna consider pivoting your blog. Changing things up to hopefully get slightly different results from what you were doing in the past.

Firstly, you might want to pivot your topic. Maybe you want to completely change your topic, or maybe you just wanna make some smaller evolutions and pivots in your topic. There are a few different ways of that you can do this. Firstly, you might just completely change it. Maybe you had a photography blog and you wanna start a blog about blogging. Maybe you had a fashion blog and you wanna do a blog about travel. They’re completely different topics, in which case you’re probably better off to start a new blog completely rather than relaunch it. Unless you had a domain that’s kind of relevant to both topics, you’re probably more thinking about a new blog and you might want to check out our Start a Blog course to do that.

But in most cases, the pivot that people make is actually more of a tweak and there are a few ways that you can tweak your topic to bring you new life for your blog. Firstly, you might want to  narrow your topic. For example, and I’ve used this example in the past, Donna Moritz who we talked to in episode 117, narrowed her focus. She used to have a blog that was on all things social media that was not really that different to all the other blogs that were all things social media and so she decided to really focus her blog of the topic of visual content in social media.

She talks about infographics, on how to create a visual content for social media. She very much narrowed her topic. As a result of that, she became known as one of the key people that had expertise in visual content for social media. Her narrowing her focus made her stand out from all the other social media blogs and so maybe, there’s a category in you old blog that should become your focus when you relaunch and then you can become the expert in that particular field.

I remember when I was getting you to answer questions earlier, one of the questions was is there traffics still coming to your old blog? Do you have a category that still getting lots of traffic? Do you have a blog post that’s still getting lots of traffic? Maybe that could become your thing. That’s a hint as to how you might want to narrow your focus.

The opposite of this is that maybe your previous topic was too narrow and you need to broaden it as well. I’ve seen bloggers do that quite well as well. They might have had just a blog that was about printers and they got bored with that topic and so maybe they want to broaden that out to other related technology type topics as well.

A second way that you might wanna pivot is to change the perspective that you’re blogging from. Perhaps your topic is right, you’re still interested in that topic but maybe you wanna explore using a different voice, or maybe you want to change the intent of your content as well. I talked a little bit about voice in episode 213 so I’m not gonna go into great depth there but in that episode, I talked about this five voices that Jeff Goins talked about and he says that you can use these five voices for any topic really.

You can be the professor who teaches. You can be the artist who brings out the beauty in their topic, that story tells. You can be the prophet who tells the cold, hard truth and busts myth. You can be the journalist who is curating and gathering ideas and putting them together in stories, or you could be the celebrity, the one that everyone wants to know your opinion, they wanna know what you think about a topic.

There are five voices but really, you can come up to any voice of your own as well. You can be the companion who journeys with people around a topic, you can be the mentor, the entertainer, you can be the reviewer, the curator, the storyteller, the guide, the teacher, the thought leader. All of these are different voices and you may actually want to try and bring out couple of those into your blogging. You can dig more into that in episode 213, but this is one way that you might want to consider pivoting your blog.

The other way to kind of think about this is to think about the perspective that you come from and the intent of your content. You might wanna tweak that, change that. Maybe your blog was about bringing your readers the latest news in a niche. Maybe you got a bit sick of that and maybe you could pivot to be more of an opinion blog. You’re still talking about them but you’re bringing your opinion into it. That’s a slightly different intent, that’s a slightly different voice that you bring to your blog. Maybe your blog previously was more of storytelling and you wanna bring in some more reviews. Maybe this is about completely changing your voice or maybe it’s just tweaking things as well.

An example of this was my original photography blog which used to be a review blog. Back in the day, 2004, I had these camera review blogs. I was reviewing cameras. I got completely sick of it. I got burnt out. It wasn’t something I was passionate about and so I decided to pivot that blog and to start teaching people how to use their cameras. This was, for me, a big change. I changed my domain, I changed the older content and really that’s when Digital Photography School was born.

For me, it was a big pivot. But you might just want to tweak your voice. Maybe it’s about adding in new types of posts to sit alongside of the old types of post. It’s really important to think this through before you relaunch your blog.

A third way you might wanna consider pivoting is around the medium. Maybe you previously had a written blog, but you wanna launch it to explore using more video or maybe you wanna use audio or more visual content, or do more live shows. This could be a complete shift. You might change from having a written blog to having a podcast or a video blog or you might just wanna add the new medium into what you’re doing. Like we do on ProBlogger, every week we publish a blog post, a podcast, and a video. Maybe you just wanna change the mix of the mediums as well.

The fourth and last way that I’ll talk about pivoting your blog is to change up the audience and to focus on serving a different type of demographic. This is something I’ve seen a number of bloggers do over the years with real success. I get it. Similar to narrowing your focus, instead of just having a blog that brought everyone in your topic, you might wanna focus in on being a topic blog for a certain demographic.

Instead of just being a travel blogger and trying to write general travel advice, you might wanna reposition your blog to be a blog that has travel advice for retirees, or for families, or for single women, or for gay men. You can think about your topic for a particular audience and this makes your content much more useful for those individual types of people.

It may sound a bit dangerous. You’re narrowing your potential audience down but it’s gonna make it more so much attractive to anyone who is from that kind of demographic and your content is going to be able to be more focused as well. It will probably impact your design, your  branding, and all of these things as well.

There’s four ways that you might wanna pivot your blog, it’s the topic, the perspective or voice that you’re writing from, the mediums that you use, and potentially, the audience that you’re trying to attract. You may be wanting to just pivot in one of these areas or you may actually wanna pivot in a few. You might want to narrow your topic and narrow down to a particular demographic, and to change medium slightly and to use a different voice. Maybe you want to do all of those things, or maybe your pivot is just in a couple of this areas and in quite small ways.

But I think it’s well worth considering. Particularly, if you’ve been blogging for a few years, you’ll probably find that things in your niche have changed quite a bit. For you to just go back to blogging in exactly the same way may not connect to its readers quite so much. One of the things that we all are aware of is the internet is changing a lot. We’re seeing a lot more video, we’re seeing a lot more visual content. Changing the medium can really work a bit and we’re also seeing more focused content, and more focused sites as well.

I’ve noticed, over the last few years, people focusing in on serving narrow niches of demographics as well. There are a few things to consider as you relaunch your blog. Can you pivot things a little bit? You will also find as you pivot, sometimes that will give you a bit more passion for what you’re doing as well. You’re not just getting back to the same old thing you used to do, you actually got something new to learn and that can keep you fresh as well.

Once you’ve worked out, if and how you’re gonna pivot, you’ll probably need to consider a few other factors. One of the biggest things you need to consider is whether you need to find a new domain or name for your blog. We’ve previously talked about domain names and how to choose good domain names and I’ll link to that particular episode in our show notes.

But for some people, this pivoting that you’re going to do is going to mean you just have to change your domain. This is particularly if you are changing your topic completely, maybe you’re going from being a travel blogger to a fashion blogger and your old domain just doesn’t suit you at all. In that case, to keep that old domain is just gonna confuse your readers and it’s gonna confused your brand as well.

Effectively, what you need to do if that’s the case is you’re almost starting a new blog and as I said before, that Start a Blog course the we’ve just released will be useful to you. But in many cases, the old domain you already have can work. Particularly if you’re only just changing the medium, or the audience, or the voice, or the topic in a slight way, or if your domain was a more of a general domain, or maybe it was your name, darrenrowse.com, I can change darrenrowse.com into any direction really I guess. That’s one of the advantages of having your name.

Keeping the domain of course is good in some ways because it does help you with search engine optimization, any past links coming into your site is gonna help you to rank higher for the future as well. It may also be helpful because you’d be able to keep your previous social media accounts but I just wanna emphasize, if it’s going to cause too much confusion to keep that domain and change things up, sometimes it’s better just to have a clean break. That’s what I did with my photography site in the early days. The domain that I previously was using just wasn’t right and Digital Photography School was a much better name for this new blog so I bit the bullet and I change things up. It felt really scary to do that and it did mean I was starting from scratch a lot more but in the long run, it did really help me a lot.

If you are changing domains, then you could keep that previous domain up as an archive of your  previous work and maybe have some links on it to what you’re newly doing or what you’re doing today. You might wanna even forward that previous domain to the new one. Anyone who arrives on that past one is gonna end up on your new site.

Again, you probably wanna really think through the user experience that your readers are gonna have. If your old blog is on one topic and the new one is on a new one, it’s probably no sense in forwarding people from one to the new one because it’s just gonna annoy them, really.  It’s gonna be hard to bring those old readers across as well.

Hopefully, you’ve worked out whether you’re doing a pivot or whether you’re just restarting what you’ve previously doing. No matter what the scenario you’re in of those two options or if it’s something in between even, there are still other things that you want to think about. What I wanna do is finish off this podcast with 11 other things that I’d be focusing my attention on as I was relaunching my blog.

These are the 11 questions that you can ask, 11 things that I think you should be working on, particularly in those early days of doing that relaunch, before you do the relaunch, and in the first month or so as well. I will say up front that most of these things are actually included in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog course as well and if you go and have a look at that, you’ll see a lot of these things are mentioned in the outline.

First thing I’d be thinking about are your goals and objectives to your the blog going forward. Don’t just think about the topic, but what are you trying to achieve with the blog? What do you want it to lead to? Are you trying to build income? Are you trying to open up opportunities like landing a job or a book deal? Having this really thought through, what is it you are trying to achieve will help you in in so many ways. You will inform the content that you create the way you design your site the construction that have. What are those goals and objectives going forward? You don’t have to write a thesis on this but actually having them clear in your mind is really important.

A second thing to consider is how will your blog change you readers’ lives? If you’ve been listening to my podcast for any time now, you’ve heard me talk about this time and time again. For me, it is the key to success for blogging, having a blog that is gonna change people’s lives. Having a dream for what you wanna achieve with your blog is one thing but what is your dream for your readers? What’s in it for your reader? Get laser focused on that. How are you gonna change your readers’ lives? This will come out in the content that you create in the way you design your site as well. This is a really important factor to consider. All of your content should really be focused upon bringing about this change in some way.

Third thing to think about is to start generating ideas for content. This is pretty obvious. A blog without content is not a blog. Many bloggers, this is actually why the blog becomes dormant. It’s because they struggle to come up with new ideas. Before you get back into blogging, spend as much time as you can on generating ideas for content. Map out the next few weeks, the next few months, the next few years. I’ve seen a lot of bloggers recently mapping out a year of content ahead of time. This is particularly important if the reason your blog become dormant is because this was a struggle for you. If you know this is a struggle, put a lot of time into this, get some friends involved in it as well. Survey any past readers that you have to find out their questions. Dig into the archives. Look at what did well in the past. They can give you ideas as well.

Speaking of those archives, number four thing that that I wanna encourage you to think about and I mentioned this at the top of the show, is to build your archives up and to build upon your archives. If you’re not changing domains and are simply starting your blog again with minor changes, you wanna think really carefully about your previous content. Do an audit of what you have in your archives and once you’ve done that, be ruthless about deleting anything that is not  serving your readers anymore or updating it.

If you’ve got old posts that dated, taking your readers against the change you’re trying to bring about in their lives in some ways, delete them or update them in some way, or forward them to other articles that you’ve written. Pay attention particularly to any post that’s getting significant traffic. I would be identifying your top 10, maybe your top 20 or so posts that are still getting any traffic and make them more visually appealing, make them more scannable, optimize them for search engine optimization. Think about the calls to action that you have to get new subscribers. Think about could you do a follow up post? Could you add a link to further reading? Could you repurpose that content in someway?

It’s really important. Those posts that are doing well already, leverage them. Update them. Make them even bigger, make them even better. It’s really important to focus upon that. That’s probably the number one thing I’ve been doing out of all the things that I’m mentioning here. That’s number four.

Number five is think about the editorial calendar going forward. You’ve brainstormed the ideas but actually get those ideas into some kind of a calendar. When will you publish them? How often will you publish? What mediums will you use? You might wanna come up with a weekly format. Monday is gonna be a blog posts and it’s gonna be a tips article. Tuesday is going to be an audio post. Wednesdays might be a link post to someone else. Thursdays might be a review that you do. It really doesn’t matter whether you publish everyday but actually think about the types of posts that are you going to publish. Put topics alongside them in a calendar and suddenly, you’ve created yourself an editorial calendar. It’s so important to do that particularly if you struggled with keeping your blog going in the past because you had issues around planning.

Number six is to do some analysis on where your readers are going to come from. If you’ve already got some readers coming in, do some analysis on where they’re already coming from. Also begin to think about how am I’m gonna grow my readership. That’s really important as you launch your blog, as you relaunch your blog to think about could you do some guest posting? Should you be interacting in forums or Facebook groups? How can I be useful in these places? What other influences in the niche do I wanna network with? Maybe it’s been a few years since your blog was active. Maybe you need to introduce yourself to some of the new players. Maybe you need to reestablish contact with some of your previous friends in that particular niche. What events will you attend? Doing some analysis on where your readers could come from and how you’re going to grow your readership is really important.

Number seven point is kind of related to number six. Identify which social networks you’re going to focus your attention on. Things have probably changed in your space. We’ve had Snapchat come out. We’ve had Instagram come out. We’ve had all these different social networks come up perhaps since you previously were blogging. Do they present some new opportunities? Have people moved from one network to another in your particular niche? Identify the one or two that’s gonna be your primary focus. Make sure you’ve registered all the accounts that you need to. But then, come up with a little strategy of how you’re going to use those social networks going forward.

Tip number eight is to start creating content. I would be focusing upon pillar content first. This is sort of that evergreen content that is going to be really, it’s what the rest of your blog is going to be built around. It’s your pillar content. It’s that evergreen content that you’re gonna refer to time and time again. It’s what you stand for. It’s your core teaching.

On Digital Photography School, it’s my post around aperture, shutter speed, ISO, these key components of photography. As you relaunch your blog, go back and look at the previous pillar content but also are there new pieces of content that you need to write first. Think about that evergreen content because that evergreen content is the type of content that’s gonna payoff for years to come. Deliver as much big value as you can with your early posts.

Tip number nine is to think about your list. If you’ve previously collected emails, how are you gonna warm that list up again? How often are you going to send emails? How are you going to use that list going forward? How are you going to get new emails as well? Again, there are plenty of content in our podcast archives on growing your list. We’ve got some more coming up for you in the next little while, but begin to put some thought into that in those early days.

Number 10 thing to figure out is your blog design. Maybe it’s been a couple of years since you’ve been blogging. Things have changed in the blogging space. Blogs look different now to what they used to look like. Do you need to update it? Do you need to change that logo? Do you need to lay it out differently? Is your blog mobile friendly? It’s so important these days, most people are looking at your blog probably on their mobile phone. Is it viewable on a mobile phone? You may need to give things a refresh in that particular area.

The last thing I’d encourage you to think about as you’re relaunching your blog is how are you going to use your time going forward? This, again, is one of the reasons that so many bloggers become dormant, is that the blogger is struggling with juggling life and their blog and all the things that come along with having a blog. Actually thinking about how much time do I have that I can give my blog and what am I going to spend that time on?

We all have a limited amount of time and we are much more productive when we think ahead of time about how we are going to use that time. Make a list of what you need to do, and look at the available time that you’ve got, whether its one hour a week or whether that’s 40 hours a week and begin to prioritize the things that need to happen and plug them into a calendar.

This is what I do. I have a weekly template. I know on Monday mornings that I’ll write content. On Tuesday mornings, I’ll record a podcast. I know when things are going to happen and as a result, I’m so much more productive. Even if you’ve only got two or three hours a week to do it, you can fit a lot in if you’re sensible and proactive about planning and arranging your time.

Those are 11 things. That will be in today’s show notes as well. These are the kinds of things that I’d be thinking about if I was relaunching a blog. Ultimately though, the success of your relaunched blog is gonna be determined on what you do over the coming months and years. It’s the accumulation of the content that you create. It’s the accumulation of the value and usefulness that you deliver and the engagement that you have with your readers. Prioritize those things first. Content creation. Promoting your self, engaging with your reader. Creating value. They are so important.

To help you with this process, we are in that final stages of putting together our brand new course that I mentioned at the top of the show. 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. It really is designed to help bloggers to kickstart their blogs whether they are new blogs relaunching a blog, or established blogs. The course is launching in March. We’ll give you the dates in the coming weeks.

As the name suggests, it’s a 31 days course that will give you 31 days of teaching but more importantly 31 things you can do to make your blog better. It’s all about helping you to think through the kind of things I just ran through. Things that will help you establish good habits and routines for your blog. Things that are gonna help you to build the asset of your blog’s archives to grow you readership and to turn those readers into true fans.

I’m so excited about this new course because I know in the past, 31 days to Build a Better Blog is an ebook and as other series of content have helped tens of thousands of people and so I just know this course will help people as well.

You can head over to problogger.com/31days to be signed up and notified when that course goes live. It’s a paid course but we’re keeping it as affordable as we can and if you register your interest now, we will be sending you an exclusive early bird discount in the coming weeks, in the lead up to that. Again, that’s problogger.com/31days.

I really hope this has helped. It’s been a long one today, I know and it’s been a lot to digest so you may wanna head over to the show notes and dig into the transcript that I’ve got there for you and some further listening that I’ve got for you as well. Today’s show notes are at problogger.com/podcast/234 and for the next little while, at least it will be on the front page of ProBlogger as well and at the top of your iTunes feed as well would be the podcast but you’ll be able to find the show notes there as well because I noticed the other day the show notes are appearing in iTunes if you click on the avatar, at least they do for me.

I hope you found some value in today’s show. Do check out 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. Register your interest for that and I can’t wait to set that one live in March for you as well. Thanks so much for listening today. Again, today’s show notes, problogger.com/podcast/234. Thanks for listening. Chat with you next week.

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

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

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The post 234: How to Relaunch Your Blog After It Becomes Dormant appeared first on ProBlogger.

234: How to Relaunch Your Blog After It Becomes Dormant

How to Relaunch a Dormant Blog

In today’s episode, I want to answer a question I get regularly from listeners: How do you relaunch a blog that has died or become dormant?

I want to talk you through two scenarios for relaunching a blog, and give you 11 things to consider during a relaunch.

Before I get into today’s show though, a couple of things.

Firstly, this week on 7th February we’ve got our first ever International Start a Blog Day. For those of you enrolled in our Start a Blog Course, keep working on your launch.

And secondly, coming up in March we have our brand new course – 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. This is a perfect course for anyone in their first month of blogging, anyone relaunching a blog, or anyone who is blogging and just wants to give their blog a bit of a kick start.

It’s a brilliant month of learning, but more importantly doing small things every day to improve your blog.

Whether you do the tasks daily or tackle the course slower, it’ll give your blog a boost.

Register your interest in the course at problogger.com/31days and we’ll send you an email when it launches with a special early bird discount.

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Good morning and welcome to episode 234 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast, event, job board, series of ebooks, and courses, all designed to help you as a blogger to start a great blog, to create great content on that blog that’s gonna change your reader’s lives, to find new readers for your blog, and to build profit around your blog as well. You can learn more about what we do ProBlogger at problogger.com. You can also dig into previous episodes of the show and thousands of tutorials that we’ve published over the years.

In today’s episode, episode 234, I wanna answer a question I get regularly from readers. How do you relaunch a blog that’s previously died or become dormant? I wanna talk you through two scenarios for relaunching your blog and give you 11 things to consider during the relaunch, 11 questions to ask yourself that will help you to relaunch with your best foot forward.

Before I get into today’s show, I want to mention two things. Firstly, this week, on the 7th of February, we’ve got our first ever International Start a Blog Day. For those of you who have previously enrolled in our Start a Blog course, keep working on your launch and look out for emails from us of details on how to participate in that.

If you already have a blog and you wanna check out some amazing new blogs, watch out on problogger.com on the 7th of February and you’ll see a massive list of some amazing new blogs. If you follow us on our Facebook page, facebook.com/problogger, I will also be featuring some of the new blogs on that day and some live videos.

The other thing to mention is that coming up in March, we have a brand new course, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, which has previously been an ebook and a series of blog posts, and a series of podcasts as well. We’ve updated it all and we’ve put it together in a course format.

For anyone who is in the first month of blogging, maybe you’ve just done that Start a Blog course or anyone who is relaunching a dormant blog, this would be perfect for you and anyone who’s been blogging for a while who just wants to give their blog a bit of a kickstart, maybe it’s that time of the year and you wanna get things going again, this is a brilliant course that’s really going to walk you through over a month or you can take it slow if you want to, some teaching, and more importantly doing some small things everyday to improve your blog.

Time and time again, I hear from people who’ve done this course and they’ve stuck it out through to the end. Previously, they’ve done it as ebooks, they’ve said that it really has given them a boost. The most important thing is not the learning, it’s the doing, it’s the implementing the small things that we suggest everyday. If that sounds like it’s gonna float your boat and improve your blog, check out problogger.com/31days and you’ll be forwarded there to an outline of the course and also a place where you can register your interests and we’ll let you know when the course goes live. We’ll also send you a special early bird discount as well.

If you are listening to this sometime in the future and it’s already live, you’ll already be able to sign up there at problogger.com/31days and get involved in that course. Today’s show notes are at problogger.com/podcast/234 and with all that said, I’m gonna get into today’s show.

Last week, I was asked by a reader of ProBlogger for advice on how to relaunch their blog, which had become dormant for the last year. They’ve had 12 months off blogging. They’ve had to take a break from blogging, blogging had to take a backseat I guess, while other things in their life or their family took priority. They have some really good reasons for putting their blog on hold for that 12 months. But now things had settled down at home, they wanted to get back into blogging again.

This is something that many of us bloggers have to deal with at different times. There’s been times where I’ve put my blogs on hold, not ProBlogger and Digital Photography School but I’ve had other blogs that have been on hold and one day, I may need to relaunch them. This is something I thought through numerous times for myself but also in talking other bloggers through as well.

Maybe the reason your blog has become dormant is a family reason, or a health crisis that you just have to put things on hold for a while, maybe it’s because you’ve lost motivation or passion to keep the blog going, maybe you’ve become disillusioned, or distracted, maybe things just haven’t quite worked and so you’ve put things on hold for a period of time. No matter what the reason, many blogs tend to have this period where they at least slow down or become completely dormant.

In today’s show, what I wanna do is give you some advice on bringing those old blogs back to life. The first thing that I wanna say, and really this is so important, is to assess the current state of play, to actually do some thinking about where things are at for you at the moment. Of course, there’s no one piece of advice that I can give you here, but I think really, if you do this first step of assessing the current state of play, assessing how you are and how your blog is, it’s going to help you to determine what to do next.

What I wanna suggest you do is answer a few questions and these will all be in the transcript of today’s show. The first three questions are about you. The first question I want you to ask is why did the blog become dormant? Why did you stop blogging? Understanding this is gonna help you to guard against that thing happening again. Maybe it was you become disillusioned, maybe there’s health stuff going on. The answer doesn’t really matter but understanding why the blog became dormant is actually important because it’s gonna help you to guard against that happening again.

The second question is what are your dreams and goals for the blog? I think it’s really important to go back to this because you probably started your blog with certain objectives, certain goals, certain dreams, certain things that you thought might happen but the reality is that it may have changed for you. What were your goals and dreams and what are they now? Actually getting back to your why is really important because it will shape what you do and you’ll probably find your why will be a little bit more realistic the second time. It possibly has evolved a bit. What is your dream? What is your goal for the blog?

And thirdly, do you still want the blog to have the same topic or focus? You may just think this blog was great, I loved it, but life got in the way and I just wanna start again doing what I was doing. That’s fine, but maybe you wanna tweak things a little bit. We’re gonna talk a little bit more about pivoting your blog later but I think it’s really important to begin to ask those questions and you probably already got the answers to those in your mind.

The second group of questions are about the blog itself. The questions that you might wanna consider, I’ve got five for you. How long has it been since the blog was active? That is going to determine how you’ll relaunch it. If it’s only been month, you can probably get back to blogging pretty quickly. But if it’s been 12 months, or it’s been two years, or five years. I talked to one blogger recently who had a blog five years ago and they wanna relaunch it. The strategies that you use are probably going to be different.

If your blog has been dormant for five years, you’re probably gonna wanna do some redesign, you’re probably gonna wanna update archives, you might wanna completely change tech. But if it’s only been a month, you can probably get back to it a little bit faster. How long has it been since the blog was active? How much traffic does the blog still have? Actually, dig into your Google Analytics account. If you haven’t got a Google analytics account, install it, and work out if you still have any traffic.

I was looking at one of my old blogs the other day and I realized it was still getting a thousand visitors a day and they were all coming in from Google. Is it getting traffic? Where is the traffic coming from? Is it coming in from the search engines? Is it coming in from social media? Is it coming in from other sites? Maybe you’ve got some links coming in from other sites as well. Do you have traffic? How much traffic? Where is the traffic coming from and where is it going to? This is really important. Do you have a post or a page on your blog that’s still performing really well?

I talked to a lot of bloggers who have dormant blogs and they tell me that they’ve just got the one post in their archives that’s going really well. Understanding what that post is or what that page is can really help as you think about moving forward because that page might be a good starting place to do some analysis, to do some updating, and to think about the leveraging in someway. Think about the traffic but maybe you don’t have any traffic at all and so you can skip through that one, but digging into that is important.

Social media is another thing to ask. Do you have social media accounts set up? How many followers are on those accounts? Where was the action previously for you in terms of social media? You can ask the same question about email subscribers. How many email subscribers does it have? Is it still getting fresh email subscribers or are they all very old, you know, years ago kind of subscribers? Understanding a little bit about the health of your social media and email subscribers is important. Are they warm? Have automated things been happening to keep those subscribers and followers warm and connected with you or are they completely cold? That’s going to shape your strategy for warming up your list again.

I guess the last question to ask about your blog is if your blog topic or focus is changing. I’m getting to this a little bit more. Is the current domain still relevant? That’s just another question to ponder now. I’ll talk a little bit about that later.

We’ve asked questions about you, we’ve asked questions about your blog, and it’s probably also worth doing a little bit of analysis on the niche that you’re in as well. Some questions about your niche. What’s the current state of play in the niche that you’re operating in? If it’s been a couple of years since you blogged, you might wanna do a bit of a dig around to find out what other people are doing in your niche. Who are the big players? Who are the big bloggers? Who are the big social media influencers? What are other bloggers mainly doing at the moment? Have they changed tech? Are they using different types of mediums? Are they all in podcasts now? Are they all on video? Where is the action happening for them in terms of social media?

Doing some digging there can actually help you to work out where you should be doing things as well. Not that you wanna just copy what everyone else is doing, maybe you actually spot some gaps in what they’re not doing, some opportunities that you could do, but they also would give you some hints to where is the most logical place for you to be engaging in terms of social media. Are there any other emerging trends in the niche or industry that you could latch onto?

In the photography space for example, over the last four, five years, we’ve seen the emergence of new types of cameras, of drone photography. If I was relaunching my photography blog today, one thing that I might do would be to have a blog that really focuses on the new types of cameras, the new types of technologies, drone photography for example, mobile phone photography because things have changed over the years. Understanding how your industry, your niche has changed is really important as well.

Hopefully, in asking some of these questions about you, your blog, your niche, you begin to hopefully get a bit of an understanding for a few things about your relaunch. Hopefully, one of two scenarios is probably emerging. I wanna talk about these two scenarios.

Most of the times, I see people relaunching, they end up doing one of two things. First scenario, maybe as you’re pondering these questions, you will realize that you were already on the right track with your blog and you just needed to get back to it. Your blog was doing well and maybe the reason you stopped was health reason, or an emergency, or something just interrupted you and it was relatively healthy and you just wanna get back to it. This is obviously the most easy scenario but there’s a few pieces of advice that I would really want to encourage you to consider if that’s you. You just wanna get back to blogging, well there’s a couple of things that I would like to encourage you to really focus upon.  

Firstly, pay attention to the content you’ve already published that’s still working for you or that has worked in the past. One of the things that you can really shortcut the growth of your blog again is to really pay attention to that type of content. As I mentioned before, you possibly already got a post that is still getting traffic. I would be starting with those posts and maybe updating them, maybe republishing them. Put a new date on them as long as the URL doesn’t change. Put them back up as fresh content on your blog in someway.

If it’s something that’s already working for you in someway, update it and leverage it to get some new subscribers.Write some follow up content on those topics. Repurpose it perhaps in a different medium. You might wanna take the written basic content and do a video, or an audio post, and really pay attention to those pieces of content that are already working. Also, think about are there ways that you could expand upon them. I guess, do similar types of things. If you’ve got a category that’s really working for you, maybe focus more upon that category because there’s obviously still interests in that category if it’s still getting traffic to it.

Pay attention to your archives. Just don’t start writing new content all the time. Actually, I think one of the emerging trends I’ve noticed in a lot of bloggers recently is that they’re paying as much attention to their archives as they are to new content. Go into your relaunch maybe writing some new content but also updating your archives, maybe every second piece of content that you published, maybe you should be doing a new one and then updating something old and then a new one and then updating something old.

The second thing I’d say is if you’re just getting back into blogging, you wanna pay attention to warming up your old followers, subscribers, and readers. If you have a dormant blog, you’re gonna have a cold reader, a cold email list, a cold social media following. They’re not as warm to you as they were in the past. They may still think highly of you, they might still remember you, but they might be a bit frustrated that you haven’t been updating, or they may be wondering if you are still alive, or if you are still healthy, or if you’re still interested in them and their topic. They may be feeling a bit abandoned. You may need to just think through how do you warm them up again?

Maybe if it’s been a long absence, maybe you need to explain your absence, maybe this might be a time to do a video post that tells the story of your last 12 months. You may not wanna go into great detail if it’s been a health thing but maybe that actually helps to make connection with your audience. If you can tell your story, that sometimes can warm people up.

Maybe, now is the good time to create something to give them as a gift. Maybe you’re going to create an opt in for your new email subscribers but you can send it to your old subscribers as well just to say thank you for sticking around. Maybe this would be a good time for you to launch with a series of content that’s gonna get your readers to do something, some sort of a challenge, or content event. These types of content actually are all about not just teaching your readers or not just informing them but actually engaging with them in someway, or maybe you wanna use live video, or more images, or something that’s a bit more personal in terms of the medium itself to warm up your readers in some way.

I guess the key thing is if you just need to get back to blogging, you really just need to get back to blogging and you need to start creating content again. The best thing that you can do in relaunching your blog, particularly if it’s just picking up where you left off, is to be as useful as possible to your readers. That’s the first scenario.

What I wanna do after I talk about the second scenario is give you 11 more things to think about that will be relevant for you if you’re in that first scenario as well. Hang in there. I’ve got some more that will be relevant for you as well, but is also relevant to people in the second scenario.

First scenario, you’re just picking things back up where you left off. The second scenario is that maybe as you answer those questions that I went through earlier, as you assess the current state of play for your blog, maybe you’re realizing that you need to change direction. Maybe your blog became dormant because you lost the passion for your topic, maybe you stopped because the niche changed, the blog wasn’t working in some way. To just start up again in the same way that you ended it is probably gonna end up leading to the same kind of results.

Maybe as you’re doing the assessment, you realize you need to change the way you approach a blog. You need to pivot in someway. The second scenario is about pivoting your blog. I think in most cases, a pivot is probably a good idea. These things were really firing in the past and you can just pick things up again and keep them firing. You’re probably gonna change it if you’ve had a break from blogging. You’re probably gonna find, if you’ve had a break from blogging, that you need to pivot in someway. There are four different ways that you might wanna consider pivoting your blog. Changing things up to hopefully get slightly different results from what you were doing in the past.

Firstly, you might want to pivot your topic. Maybe you want to completely change your topic, or maybe you just wanna make some smaller evolutions and pivots in your topic. There are a few different ways of that you can do this. Firstly, you might just completely change it. Maybe you had a photography blog and you wanna start a blog about blogging. Maybe you had a fashion blog and you wanna do a blog about travel. They’re completely different topics, in which case you’re probably better off to start a new blog completely rather than relaunch it. Unless you had a domain that’s kind of relevant to both topics, you’re probably more thinking about a new blog and you might want to check out our Start a Blog course to do that.

But in most cases, the pivot that people make is actually more of a tweak and there are a few ways that you can tweak your topic to bring you new life for your blog. Firstly, you might want to  narrow your topic. For example, and I’ve used this example in the past, Donna Moritz who we talked to in episode 117, narrowed her focus. She used to have a blog that was on all things social media that was not really that different to all the other blogs that were all things social media and so she decided to really focus her blog of the topic of visual content in social media.

She talks about infographics, on how to create a visual content for social media. She very much narrowed her topic. As a result of that, she became known as one of the key people that had expertise in visual content for social media. Her narrowing her focus made her stand out from all the other social media blogs and so maybe, there’s a category in you old blog that should become your focus when you relaunch and then you can become the expert in that particular field.

I remember when I was getting you to answer questions earlier, one of the questions was is there traffics still coming to your old blog? Do you have a category that still getting lots of traffic? Do you have a blog post that’s still getting lots of traffic? Maybe that could become your thing. That’s a hint as to how you might want to narrow your focus.

The opposite of this is that maybe your previous topic was too narrow and you need to broaden it as well. I’ve seen bloggers do that quite well as well. They might have had just a blog that was about printers and they got bored with that topic and so maybe they want to broaden that out to other related technology type topics as well.

A second way that you might wanna pivot is to change the perspective that you’re blogging from. Perhaps your topic is right, you’re still interested in that topic but maybe you wanna explore using a different voice, or maybe you want to change the intent of your content as well. I talked a little bit about voice in episode 213 so I’m not gonna go into great depth there but in that episode, I talked about this five voices that Jeff Goins talked about and he says that you can use these five voices for any topic really.

You can be the professor who teaches. You can be the artist who brings out the beauty in their topic, that story tells. You can be the prophet who tells the cold, hard truth and busts myth. You can be the journalist who is curating and gathering ideas and putting them together in stories, or you could be the celebrity, the one that everyone wants to know your opinion, they wanna know what you think about a topic.

There are five voices but really, you can come up to any voice of your own as well. You can be the companion who journeys with people around a topic, you can be the mentor, the entertainer, you can be the reviewer, the curator, the storyteller, the guide, the teacher, the thought leader. All of these are different voices and you may actually want to try and bring out couple of those into your blogging. You can dig more into that in episode 213, but this is one way that you might want to consider pivoting your blog.

The other way to kind of think about this is to think about the perspective that you come from and the intent of your content. You might wanna tweak that, change that. Maybe your blog was about bringing your readers the latest news in a niche. Maybe you got a bit sick of that and maybe you could pivot to be more of an opinion blog. You’re still talking about them but you’re bringing your opinion into it. That’s a slightly different intent, that’s a slightly different voice that you bring to your blog. Maybe your blog previously was more of storytelling and you wanna bring in some more reviews. Maybe this is about completely changing your voice or maybe it’s just tweaking things as well.

An example of this was my original photography blog which used to be a review blog. Back in the day, 2004, I had these camera review blogs. I was reviewing cameras. I got completely sick of it. I got burnt out. It wasn’t something I was passionate about and so I decided to pivot that blog and to start teaching people how to use their cameras. This was, for me, a big change. I changed my domain, I changed the older content and really that’s when Digital Photography School was born.

For me, it was a big pivot. But you might just want to tweak your voice. Maybe it’s about adding in new types of posts to sit alongside of the old types of post. It’s really important to think this through before you relaunch your blog.

A third way you might wanna consider pivoting is around the medium. Maybe you previously had a written blog, but you wanna launch it to explore using more video or maybe you wanna use audio or more visual content, or do more live shows. This could be a complete shift. You might change from having a written blog to having a podcast or a video blog or you might just wanna add the new medium into what you’re doing. Like we do on ProBlogger, every week we publish a blog post, a podcast, and a video. Maybe you just wanna change the mix of the mediums as well.

The fourth and last way that I’ll talk about pivoting your blog is to change up the audience and to focus on serving a different type of demographic. This is something I’ve seen a number of bloggers do over the years with real success. I get it. Similar to narrowing your focus, instead of just having a blog that brought everyone in your topic, you might wanna focus in on being a topic blog for a certain demographic.

Instead of just being a travel blogger and trying to write general travel advice, you might wanna reposition your blog to be a blog that has travel advice for retirees, or for families, or for single women, or for gay men. You can think about your topic for a particular audience and this makes your content much more useful for those individual types of people.

It may sound a bit dangerous. You’re narrowing your potential audience down but it’s gonna make it more so much attractive to anyone who is from that kind of demographic and your content is going to be able to be more focused as well. It will probably impact your design, your  branding, and all of these things as well.

There’s four ways that you might wanna pivot your blog, it’s the topic, the perspective or voice that you’re writing from, the mediums that you use, and potentially, the audience that you’re trying to attract. You may be wanting to just pivot in one of these areas or you may actually wanna pivot in a few. You might want to narrow your topic and narrow down to a particular demographic, and to change medium slightly and to use a different voice. Maybe you want to do all of those things, or maybe your pivot is just in a couple of this areas and in quite small ways.

But I think it’s well worth considering. Particularly, if you’ve been blogging for a few years, you’ll probably find that things in your niche have changed quite a bit. For you to just go back to blogging in exactly the same way may not connect to its readers quite so much. One of the things that we all are aware of is the internet is changing a lot. We’re seeing a lot more video, we’re seeing a lot more visual content. Changing the medium can really work a bit and we’re also seeing more focused content, and more focused sites as well.

I’ve noticed, over the last few years, people focusing in on serving narrow niches of demographics as well. There are a few things to consider as you relaunch your blog. Can you pivot things a little bit? You will also find as you pivot, sometimes that will give you a bit more passion for what you’re doing as well. You’re not just getting back to the same old thing you used to do, you actually got something new to learn and that can keep you fresh as well.

Once you’ve worked out, if and how you’re gonna pivot, you’ll probably need to consider a few other factors. One of the biggest things you need to consider is whether you need to find a new domain or name for your blog. We’ve previously talked about domain names and how to choose good domain names and I’ll link to that particular episode in our show notes.

But for some people, this pivoting that you’re going to do is going to mean you just have to change your domain. This is particularly if you are changing your topic completely, maybe you’re going from being a travel blogger to a fashion blogger and your old domain just doesn’t suit you at all. In that case, to keep that old domain is just gonna confuse your readers and it’s gonna confused your brand as well.

Effectively, what you need to do if that’s the case is you’re almost starting a new blog and as I said before, that Start a Blog course the we’ve just released will be useful to you. But in many cases, the old domain you already have can work. Particularly if you’re only just changing the medium, or the audience, or the voice, or the topic in a slight way, or if your domain was a more of a general domain, or maybe it was your name, darrenrowse.com, I can change darrenrowse.com into any direction really I guess. That’s one of the advantages of having your name.

Keeping the domain of course is good in some ways because it does help you with search engine optimization, any past links coming into your site is gonna help you to rank higher for the future as well. It may also be helpful because you’d be able to keep your previous social media accounts but I just wanna emphasize, if it’s going to cause too much confusion to keep that domain and change things up, sometimes it’s better just to have a clean break. That’s what I did with my photography site in the early days. The domain that I previously was using just wasn’t right and Digital Photography School was a much better name for this new blog so I bit the bullet and I change things up. It felt really scary to do that and it did mean I was starting from scratch a lot more but in the long run, it did really help me a lot.

If you are changing domains, then you could keep that previous domain up as an archive of your  previous work and maybe have some links on it to what you’re newly doing or what you’re doing today. You might wanna even forward that previous domain to the new one. Anyone who arrives on that past one is gonna end up on your new site.

Again, you probably wanna really think through the user experience that your readers are gonna have. If your old blog is on one topic and the new one is on a new one, it’s probably no sense in forwarding people from one to the new one because it’s just gonna annoy them, really.  It’s gonna be hard to bring those old readers across as well.

Hopefully, you’ve worked out whether you’re doing a pivot or whether you’re just restarting what you’ve previously doing. No matter what the scenario you’re in of those two options or if it’s something in between even, there are still other things that you want to think about. What I wanna do is finish off this podcast with 11 other things that I’d be focusing my attention on as I was relaunching my blog.

These are the 11 questions that you can ask, 11 things that I think you should be working on, particularly in those early days of doing that relaunch, before you do the relaunch, and in the first month or so as well. I will say up front that most of these things are actually included in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog course as well and if you go and have a look at that, you’ll see a lot of these things are mentioned in the outline.

First thing I’d be thinking about are your goals and objectives to your the blog going forward. Don’t just think about the topic, but what are you trying to achieve with the blog? What do you want it to lead to? Are you trying to build income? Are you trying to open up opportunities like landing a job or a book deal? Having this really thought through, what is it you are trying to achieve will help you in in so many ways. You will inform the content that you create the way you design your site the construction that have. What are those goals and objectives going forward? You don’t have to write a thesis on this but actually having them clear in your mind is really important.

A second thing to consider is how will your blog change you readers’ lives? If you’ve been listening to my podcast for any time now, you’ve heard me talk about this time and time again. For me, it is the key to success for blogging, having a blog that is gonna change people’s lives. Having a dream for what you wanna achieve with your blog is one thing but what is your dream for your readers? What’s in it for your reader? Get laser focused on that. How are you gonna change your readers’ lives? This will come out in the content that you create in the way you design your site as well. This is a really important factor to consider. All of your content should really be focused upon bringing about this change in some way.

Third thing to think about is to start generating ideas for content. This is pretty obvious. A blog without content is not a blog. Many bloggers, this is actually why the blog becomes dormant. It’s because they struggle to come up with new ideas. Before you get back into blogging, spend as much time as you can on generating ideas for content. Map out the next few weeks, the next few months, the next few years. I’ve seen a lot of bloggers recently mapping out a year of content ahead of time. This is particularly important if the reason your blog become dormant is because this was a struggle for you. If you know this is a struggle, put a lot of time into this, get some friends involved in it as well. Survey any past readers that you have to find out their questions. Dig into the archives. Look at what did well in the past. They can give you ideas as well.

Speaking of those archives, number four thing that that I wanna encourage you to think about and I mentioned this at the top of the show, is to build your archives up and to build upon your archives. If you’re not changing domains and are simply starting your blog again with minor changes, you wanna think really carefully about your previous content. Do an audit of what you have in your archives and once you’ve done that, be ruthless about deleting anything that is not  serving your readers anymore or updating it.

If you’ve got old posts that dated, taking your readers against the change you’re trying to bring about in their lives in some ways, delete them or update them in some way, or forward them to other articles that you’ve written. Pay attention particularly to any post that’s getting significant traffic. I would be identifying your top 10, maybe your top 20 or so posts that are still getting any traffic and make them more visually appealing, make them more scannable, optimize them for search engine optimization. Think about the calls to action that you have to get new subscribers. Think about could you do a follow up post? Could you add a link to further reading? Could you repurpose that content in someway?

It’s really important. Those posts that are doing well already, leverage them. Update them. Make them even bigger, make them even better. It’s really important to focus upon that. That’s probably the number one thing I’ve been doing out of all the things that I’m mentioning here. That’s number four.

Number five is think about the editorial calendar going forward. You’ve brainstormed the ideas but actually get those ideas into some kind of a calendar. When will you publish them? How often will you publish? What mediums will you use? You might wanna come up with a weekly format. Monday is gonna be a blog posts and it’s gonna be a tips article. Tuesday is going to be an audio post. Wednesdays might be a link post to someone else. Thursdays might be a review that you do. It really doesn’t matter whether you publish everyday but actually think about the types of posts that are you going to publish. Put topics alongside them in a calendar and suddenly, you’ve created yourself an editorial calendar. It’s so important to do that particularly if you struggled with keeping your blog going in the past because you had issues around planning.

Number six is to do some analysis on where your readers are going to come from. If you’ve already got some readers coming in, do some analysis on where they’re already coming from. Also begin to think about how am I’m gonna grow my readership. That’s really important as you launch your blog, as you relaunch your blog to think about could you do some guest posting? Should you be interacting in forums or Facebook groups? How can I be useful in these places? What other influences in the niche do I wanna network with? Maybe it’s been a few years since your blog was active. Maybe you need to introduce yourself to some of the new players. Maybe you need to reestablish contact with some of your previous friends in that particular niche. What events will you attend? Doing some analysis on where your readers could come from and how you’re going to grow your readership is really important.

Number seven point is kind of related to number six. Identify which social networks you’re going to focus your attention on. Things have probably changed in your space. We’ve had Snapchat come out. We’ve had Instagram come out. We’ve had all these different social networks come up perhaps since you previously were blogging. Do they present some new opportunities? Have people moved from one network to another in your particular niche? Identify the one or two that’s gonna be your primary focus. Make sure you’ve registered all the accounts that you need to. But then, come up with a little strategy of how you’re going to use those social networks going forward.

Tip number eight is to start creating content. I would be focusing upon pillar content first. This is sort of that evergreen content that is going to be really, it’s what the rest of your blog is going to be built around. It’s your pillar content. It’s that evergreen content that you’re gonna refer to time and time again. It’s what you stand for. It’s your core teaching.

On Digital Photography School, it’s my post around aperture, shutter speed, ISO, these key components of photography. As you relaunch your blog, go back and look at the previous pillar content but also are there new pieces of content that you need to write first. Think about that evergreen content because that evergreen content is the type of content that’s gonna payoff for years to come. Deliver as much big value as you can with your early posts.

Tip number nine is to think about your list. If you’ve previously collected emails, how are you gonna warm that list up again? How often are you going to send emails? How are you going to use that list going forward? How are you going to get new emails as well? Again, there are plenty of content in our podcast archives on growing your list. We’ve got some more coming up for you in the next little while, but begin to put some thought into that in those early days.

Number 10 thing to figure out is your blog design. Maybe it’s been a couple of years since you’ve been blogging. Things have changed in the blogging space. Blogs look different now to what they used to look like. Do you need to update it? Do you need to change that logo? Do you need to lay it out differently? Is your blog mobile friendly? It’s so important these days, most people are looking at your blog probably on their mobile phone. Is it viewable on a mobile phone? You may need to give things a refresh in that particular area.

The last thing I’d encourage you to think about as you’re relaunching your blog is how are you going to use your time going forward? This, again, is one of the reasons that so many bloggers become dormant, is that the blogger is struggling with juggling life and their blog and all the things that come along with having a blog. Actually thinking about how much time do I have that I can give my blog and what am I going to spend that time on?

We all have a limited amount of time and we are much more productive when we think ahead of time about how we are going to use that time. Make a list of what you need to do, and look at the available time that you’ve got, whether its one hour a week or whether that’s 40 hours a week and begin to prioritize the things that need to happen and plug them into a calendar.

This is what I do. I have a weekly template. I know on Monday mornings that I’ll write content. On Tuesday mornings, I’ll record a podcast. I know when things are going to happen and as a result, I’m so much more productive. Even if you’ve only got two or three hours a week to do it, you can fit a lot in if you’re sensible and proactive about planning and arranging your time.

Those are 11 things. That will be in today’s show notes as well. These are the kinds of things that I’d be thinking about if I was relaunching a blog. Ultimately though, the success of your relaunched blog is gonna be determined on what you do over the coming months and years. It’s the accumulation of the content that you create. It’s the accumulation of the value and usefulness that you deliver and the engagement that you have with your readers. Prioritize those things first. Content creation. Promoting your self, engaging with your reader. Creating value. They are so important.

To help you with this process, we are in that final stages of putting together our brand new course that I mentioned at the top of the show. 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. It really is designed to help bloggers to kickstart their blogs whether they are new blogs relaunching a blog, or established blogs. The course is launching in March. We’ll give you the dates in the coming weeks.

As the name suggests, it’s a 31 days course that will give you 31 days of teaching but more importantly 31 things you can do to make your blog better. It’s all about helping you to think through the kind of things I just ran through. Things that will help you establish good habits and routines for your blog. Things that are gonna help you to build the asset of your blog’s archives to grow you readership and to turn those readers into true fans.

I’m so excited about this new course because I know in the past, 31 days to Build a Better Blog is an ebook and as other series of content have helped tens of thousands of people and so I just know this course will help people as well.

You can head over to problogger.com/31days to be signed up and notified when that course goes live. It’s a paid course but we’re keeping it as affordable as we can and if you register your interest now, we will be sending you an exclusive early bird discount in the coming weeks, in the lead up to that. Again, that’s problogger.com/31days.

I really hope this has helped. It’s been a long one today, I know and it’s been a lot to digest so you may wanna head over to the show notes and dig into the transcript that I’ve got there for you and some further listening that I’ve got for you as well. Today’s show notes are at problogger.com/podcast/234 and for the next little while, at least it will be on the front page of ProBlogger as well and at the top of your iTunes feed as well would be the podcast but you’ll be able to find the show notes there as well because I noticed the other day the show notes are appearing in iTunes if you click on the avatar, at least they do for me.

I hope you found some value in today’s show. Do check out 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. Register your interest for that and I can’t wait to set that one live in March for you as well. Thanks so much for listening today. Again, today’s show notes, problogger.com/podcast/234. Thanks for listening. Chat with you next week.

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

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

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The post 234: How to Relaunch Your Blog After It Becomes Dormant appeared first on ProBlogger.

Last Chance to Start a Blog with Us Today

Last chance to start a blog with usHave you started a blog this year? Every year between Christmas and New Year our enquiries for starting a blog skyrocket. It must be something to do with New Year’s Resolutions and setting new goals. Blogs still seem to be on everyone’s mind, even though they apparently died years ago.

I know it’s only the end of January, but if starting a blog was your New Year’s resolution then what are you waiting for? ProBlogger’s FREE Ultimate Guide to Starting a Blog course closes today, so act now and enrol here.

The first ever International Start a Blog Day on February 7 is fast approaching. We’re closing our course intake temporarily so the ‘Class of January 2018’ can work through the seven steps to launching their blogs in time for this event.

So far, more than 1,000 pre-bloggers have started the course and are on their way to launching a blog. Many have already completed the course, and are getting into their blogging stride. It’s fascinating looking at these new blogs from around the world and across different niches. We’re looking forward to sharing them all with you on February 7.

Want a sneak peak at some new blogs?

To whet your appetite and give you a taste of what’s coming, we’d like to introduce you to a few new bloggers and their blogs right now.

  • Michelle is the baker, recipe developer, and food photographer behind https://michellesmacarons.com – simple guides, tips, and easy macaron recipes all in one place.
  • Bob’s from South-Western Ontario, Canada and writes on taking a thrifty approach to personal finance on http://thriftymoneyeh.ca/.
  • Jon wants to help you crush the modern, solo lifestyle. On http://thirdwheelliving.com/ he shares tips, strategies, and benefits to living a fulfilling single life.

February 7 is International Start a Blog Day

International Start a Blog Day will celebrate the diversity of new bloggers around the world launching their blogs at the beginning of the year. It will provide a date every year where you can share your new blog, connect new bloggers, and help you get your first blog readers. If you enrol and use our course to begin a blog before February 7, you can participate in the first annual international Start a Blog Day.

International Start a Blog Day will feature:

  • A new blog honour roll listed by niche where you can share your blog’s URL
  • Live Facebook broadcasts with ProBlogger Darren Rowse
  • Spotlight profiles of new blogs and bloggers telling their story
  • Scholarship awards for new bloggers to undertake further ProBlogger training
  • Ongoing updates and progress reports on the ‘Class of 2018’ ProBlogger students

Here’s What Our Students are Saying

“I wish I had a course like this when thinking about starting my blog. The 15 questions asked in module one and two are so foundational to starting a blog, no course I have seen out there has done a very good job of it. Darren’s is the only one that goes into this detail about it and the foundation that he teaches.” – Darin

“I appreciated the ‘Why Blog?’ module. It made me realize that my ‘why’ is a bit self-centered. I know my strengths and interests but hadn’t thought through how my blog would meet the needs of a community and make an impact. Taking a few days to flush this out. Thank you!” – Jen

“Finished the first lesson, and it really made me think about my ‘why’. I didn’t know to do this with my old blogs, and I think it’s why I never really connected with my readers. Thinking about how I can make a difference is a whole different way of looking at it. And I’m looking forward to being able to help other people as well. Thanks for helping me to crystallize this!” – Darlene

“I just want to say how much I am enjoying the process (I am on Step 2), and how much I am learning about my core beliefs on the ‘why’ of my blog, and its true mission and my purpose. It is evolving from what I originally thought/saw as its role, and I am okay with that. I will tell more when I have it a bit more understood in my own heart and mind, and will be excited to share it. Until then it is great to see so many others along for the journey and sharing. I have my blog ready to start creating and look for it to be up and going no later than next weekend.” – Sheyla

Already Got a Blog?

If you already have a blog, you can still take part in International Start a Blog Day by providing your support and encouragement to the new and emerging bloggers. You may even find inspiration from these fledgling bloggers and their enthusiasm and new angles on your own topic or niche. Interestingly, we’ve also had great feedback from existing bloggers who have participated in the Starting a Blog course, saying the material covers some concepts of blogging they haven’t encountered before, and that it has sharpened their focus.

We’ve also got you covered with our next course coming out in March – “31 Days to Build a Better Blog”. The title may sound familiar – we’ve taken our best-selling book, updated it and beefed it up to help bloggers who are either in their first 30 days of a new blog or really need to breathe new life into an existing blog. If you’re interested, make sure to check out the outline of the course here and sign up to be alerted when it becomes available.

2018 is shaping up to be an exciting year.

The post Last Chance to Start a Blog with Us Today appeared first on ProBlogger.