Tag Archives: Writing Content

The Difference Between Pages and Posts (and Making the Most of Each)

Written by ProBlogger Expert Ali Luke

When you think of a blog, you probably think of the posts. You might go to the site to read the latest ones (often on the home page), or they might go straight to your inbox. And if you follow the blogger on social media, you may well see them posting links to their latest posts.

But posts aren’t the only type of content you need to create as a blogger.

Whatever blogging system you use, you’ll have two different ways to publish new content: as blog posts or as blog pages.

Understanding Posts and Pages

On a blog, articles (or news, stories, etc) are published as posts. These appear in reverse chronological order, with the newest posts at the top of the list or (in a grid layout) on the top left of the screen.

Blog posts normally have a timestamp showing when they were published. And readers who have subscribed for updates by RSS or email will get these new posts automatically.

But blog pages are a little different. They are what’s known as “static” content. That doesn’t mean they never change (you can always update a page),. But they won’t be superseded by new pages the way blog posts might.

For instance, you might have blog posts for “2015 roundup”, “2016 roundup” and “2017 roundup” all available in your archives. But would you have multiple pages for “contact details 2015”, “contact details 2016” and so on? Of course not. You’d just update your one Contact page.

Pages are used for content such as:

  • Information about you and your blog
  • A “start here” list of posts
  • Sales information about your products
  • Terms and conditions / privacy policy

Key pages are normally linked to in the top navigation.

Pages don’t have a timestamp, and don’t go out to readers through RSS/email. You can allow comments on pages, but most bloggers don’t as it rarely makes sense.

Using Posts and Pages Effectively

To get the most out of your blog, and to make it a great experience for your readers, you’ll want to make good use of the different attributes of posts and pages.

Here are some key ones to think about:

Posts

Categories: Posts must have a category. This helps organise your blog, especially if you use categories as a navigation option or let readers filter your  post archiveby category.

Make sure you set a category for each new post, or it’ll default to “uncategorized”. You can also rename this default category to something that would make sense for many of your posts. For example, if you write about parenting, your default category might be “kids” or “tips”.

Tags: You may want to use tags to help further organize your pages. They can be a good alternative to having loads of categories, and can help readers navigate your site. But don’t just duplicate your categories as tags. Yoast SEO has some good information on how to use categories and tags as effectively as possible for search engines.

Pages

Password protection: While you can password-protect a post, bloggers rarely use this option. Pages are more commonly password-protected, and can be a quick and easy way to provide some of your readers with exclusive content. For instance, my newsletter subscribers have access to a mini-library of ebooks on this password protected page.[a][b][c]

“Parent” pages: A page can be a “parent” to other pages. For example, you could have a general “Products” page, and pages for your three different products under it. When you set up the three product pages, you can select “Products” as their parent page.

Depending on your blogging platform and theme, “Products” may appear in your navigation menu with a drop-down showing the three products pages beneath. (You can also set this up manually, arranging the menu however you like, in Appearance → Menus in WordPress.)

The URLs for the pages will include the parent’s permalink (e.g. www.nameofblog.com/products/firstproduct).

Hopefully this has clarified the difference between posts and pages. If you’ve never created a page for your blog before, why not try one now? Log in to your blog’s dashboard and create a new page (it’ll be a very similar interface to creating a post). An “About” page is a great one to start with, and you can find some tips on crafting a great one here.

The post The Difference Between Pages and Posts (and Making the Most of Each) appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

How to Use Numbers Effectively in Your Blog Posts

You’re a blogger, so hopefully you feel confident working with words.

But words alone aren’t enough.

Even if you haven’t been blogging for long (or are yet to start), you’ve probably noticed numbers coming up a lot in other people’s posts.

You often find numbers in post titles such as:

Even if they don’t appear in the post’s title of the post, numbers can be used to order a sequence of steps, when listing a series of tips, or when quoting statistics.

Why Do Numbers Matter So Much?

By using numbers in your post, you’ll come across as a more authoritative source of information.

Numbers also intrigue readers. If you mention “Ten ways”, they’ll want to know what they are. If you tell them you made $2,671 from your first product launch, they’ll want to know how.

Here are four ways you can use numbers in your blog posts.

  1. When sharing your results (or someone else’s), whether it’s traffic, fans, income or anything else you might track.
  2. When providing a statistic. It could be a well-known one, or something quite obscure.
  3. When listing a number of steps to follow. Those steps could be your entire post, or just a part of it.
  4. When sharing several tips or ideas, usually in the form of a list post.

Here’s how they might work for you.

#1: Sharing Your Results (or Someone Else’s)

Blog posts that share real-life results are often popular because they show that someone else has succeeded, and give the reader hope that they can too. In the post titles I shared earlier, numbers such as “3,241 Facebook Fans” and “$453k” can help the reader trust your information. It sounds like it must be helpful because it’s so specific.

Tip: Sometimes it’s appropriate to round off numbers (e.g. “My newsletter has more than 20,000 subscribers”). But if you’re sharing your results in a post, specific numbers make it clear the results are accurate.

#2: Providing a Statistic

It’s easy to give advice on your blog without necessarily backing it up. You may know your niche very well, and therefore know that your advice is accurate. But readers won’t necessarily believe you without evidence. Here’s an example from Copyblogger’s classic post Writing Headlines That Get Results:

On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. This is the secret to the power of the headline, and why it so highly determines the effectiveness of the entire piece.

The statistics make it clear this information is authoritative and grounded in fact, rather than just someone’s opinion about whether or not headlines are important.

Tip: Of course, your statistics need to be accurate and true. Try to find the original source, or an authoritative source such as a government or university website. It’s often a good idea to link to the source as well.

#3: Listing a Number of Steps to Follow

If your post teaches the reader how to do something, or has steps they need to follow in order, it makes sense to number those steps. The reader may well be going back and forth between your post and the task they’re trying to complete, so you should make it easy for them to remember which step they’re up to.

In this type of post, including the number in the title often works well. For instance, instead of “How to Register a Domain Name” you might have “How to Register a Domain Name in Six Easy Steps”.

Tip: Try not to have too many steps. Having 20 or 30 steps may overwhelm the reader, even if each step can be completed relatively quickly. Instead, try to group each action into five to ten separate steps.

#4: Sharing Several Tips or Ideas

This is different to the step-by-step approach in that each tip or idea in your post will probably stand on its own. The reader can tackle them in any order, and may only try one or two of them.

It’s still a good idea to number each one. Not only will it help orient the reader within your post, it will also prove you’ve delivered what you promised (if you used numbers in your title).

Tip: Big numbers can work well in these types of posts. While “100 Steps to Build the Perfect Website” sounds very daunting, “100 Different Ways to Make Your Website Stand Out” sounds like a comprehensive source readers can dip into.

Using numbers in your post (and particularly in your title) may take a few minutes of extra work. But it could result in a much more popular and effective post.

Do you already use numbers in your posts? Or is it something you want to focus on a little more? If you’ve got any good tips for using numbers, share them with us in the comments.

Image Credit: Nick Hillier

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How to Use Lists Effectively in Your Blog Posts

How to use lists effectively in your blog postsI expect you’re already familiar with the ‘list post’.

Even if you’ve never written one, you’ll have read plenty – such as Nicole Avery’s recent post on 5 Tips to Help You Consume Content More Productively. Some sites, including List 25, publish nothing but list posts.

But lists can be useful in any post. Even if they form only a small part of the post, they can still be a crucial tool in making your post more readable and conveying information more effectively.

Why Use Lists at All?

If you’ve written essays at school or university, you may have been taught to avoid using bulleted lists. But when you’re writing for a general audience, lists make it easier to take information in. They can also create a more informal and friendly feel.

For instance, compare these two paragraphs:

Version 1:

Some useful tools for new bloggers are Google Docs, which lets you work collaboratively on blog posts; Dropbox, which stores your files in ‘the cloud’ so you can access them from any computer; Audacity, which podcasters often use to edit audio files; and WordPress (of course), which is the most popular blogging platform in the world.

Version 2:

Some useful tools for new bloggers are:

  • Google Docs, which lets you work collaboratively on blog posts
  • Dropbox, which stores your files in ‘the cloud’ so you can access them from any computer
  • Audacity, which podcasters often use to edit audio files
  • WordPress (of course), which is the most popular blogging platform in the world

The text is practically identical in both versions. But the second version is much easier to read – especially if the reader is skimming, as they can easily pick out the four tools at the start of the four bullet points.

As you can see, lists also create extra blank space (known as ‘white space’) at the start and end of each line.

Here’s a great example of using a list in a blog post. In How to Create an Efficient Contact Page That Boosts Your Productivity, Paul Cunningham lists separate problems using bullet points:

This makes it easier to distinguish the different problems Paul was facing. And while some of the bullet points are quite long, they’re much easier to read than if they’d been squashed up into a single paragraph.

Unordered vs Ordered Lists

An unordered list uses bullet points rather than numbers, as Paul used in his post. It looks like this:

  • Bread
  • Milk
  • Eggs

I’m calling it an ‘unordered list’ because that’s the term used in HTML code. To create this type of list in HTML you use <ul> for the opening tag, and </ul> for the closing tag. (In WordPress, and almost every other blogging system, you can create the list by simply clicking a button in the visual editor to.)

An ordered list uses numbers. It looks like this:

  1. Bread
  2. Milk
  3. Eggs

Again, ‘ordered list’ is the term used in HTML – <ol> for the opening tag, and </ul> for the closing tag. Of course, as with unordered lists, you can easily create them with the visual editor.

Whenever you’re including a list in one of your posts, think about which type makes most sense: ordered or unordered.

Paul’s blog post also has a list of suggested steps near the end, which he’s formatted by using an ordered list:

Using numbers makes sense here, as Paul is recommending the reader carry out the steps in this order. But if he offered several distinct ideas the reader could pick and choose from, bullet points would work best.

Formatting Your Lists Correctly and Consistently

While writing a list isn’t hard, some bloggers make mistakes with grammar and punctuation. Here are some simple rules of thumb to follow:

  • Each item on your list should start with a capital letter.
  • The introduction to your list (e.g. “The biggest problems I noticed at the time were:”) needs to fit with each item on the list. Try reading the introduction and each list item together as a complete sentence to make sure they all work grammatically.
  • If your list items are longer than a single sentence, they should always end with a full stop (period).
  • If your list items are single words or short phrases, they don’t need to end with a full stop. But make sure you’re consistent, and that all items in the list end in the same way.

Where Could You Use Lists in Your Posts?

Blog posts can often benefit from a list (or two). Here’s where you should consider using them:

  • At the end of the introduction, to explain what your post will cover.
  • In the middle of the post, to break up a long section.
  • When giving suggestions or ideas.
  • When linking to several different resources.
  • At the end of a post, to help readers decide what to do next.

Of course, these won’t all be appropriate for every post. And you certainly don’t want too many lists in your post, or it could look a bit choppy.

Do you consciously use lists in your blog posts? If not, look at the last few posts you’ve written. Would any of them benefit from having a list?

The post How to Use Lists Effectively in Your Blog Posts appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

How to Edit Your Blog Posts Like a Pro

It’s every blogger’s worst nightmare.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Editing Process at ProBlogger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Creating Your Own Editing Checklist

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

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

#1: Introduction

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

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

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

#2: Subheadings

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

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

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

#3: Visual Breaks

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

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

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

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

#4: Extraneous Material

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

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

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

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

#5: Conclusion

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

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

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

#6: Complex Sentences, Phrases and Words

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

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

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

#7: Links to Other Posts

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

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

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

#8: Before Publication

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image credit: Joanna Kosinska

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3 Simple Ways to Make Your Blog Posts More Conversational

make-blog-post-conversational.jpg

This post is by ProBlogger writing expert Ali Luke

You’ve probably heard that your blog posts need to be “conversational”.

You may also have been told why: to create a sense of connection with your reader, keep them engaged, and make your blog sound less like a lecture and more like a discussion.

That’s all true. But making your writing “conversational” can be tricky – especially if you come from a business or academic writing background.

If your blog posts tend to sound a little dry and stilted, here are three simple ways to change things.

#1: Talk Directly to Your Reader

Write your post as if you’re talking a specific reader. Picturing an actual person may help – someone you know in real life, or who comments on your blog. You could even imagine you’re emailing them, or writing a Facebook post or comment.

And use words like “I” and “you”, even though you were probably taught not to at school or work. When you’re blogging it’s totally fine to write from your personal experience, and to invite the reader to step into your post.

Here’s an example from Jim Stewart’s post 9 Tips for Recovering Your Google Rankings After a Site Hack. (I’ve highlighted each use of “you” and “your”.)

If your WordPress site has been hacked, fear not. By following these tips you can fortify your site and kick wannabe hackers to the kerb.

And provided you act quickly, your WordPress site’s SEO traffic—and even its reputation—can recover within 24 hours.

This is clear, direct writing that speaks to the reader’s problem. And it’s easy to read and engage with: it’s almost like having Jim on the phone, talking you through fixing things.

Note: As Jim does here, always try to use the singular “you” rather than the plural “you”. Yes, you hopefully have more than one reader. But each one will experience your blog posts individually. Avoid writing things like “some of you” unless you’re deliberately trying to create a sense of a group environment (perhaps in an ecourse).

#2: Use an Informal Writing Style

All writing exists somewhere on a spectrum from very formal to very informal. Here are some examples:

Very formal: Users are not permitted to distribute, modify, resell, or duplicate any of the materials contained herein.

Formal: Your refund guarantee applies for 30 calendar days from the date of purchase. To request a refund, complete the form below, ensuring you include your customer reference number.

Neutral: Once you’ve signed up for the newsletter list, you’ll get a confirmation email. Open it up, click the link, and you’ll be all set to get the weekly emails.

Informal: Hi Susan, could you send me the link to that ProBlogger thingy you mentioned earlier? Ta!

Very informal: C U 2morrow!!!

With your blogging, it’s generally good to aim for an informal (or at least a neutral) register, as if you were emailing a friend. This makes you seem warm and approachable.

Typically, you’ll be using:

  • Contractions (e.g. “you’ll” for “you will”)
  • Straightforward language (“get” rather than “receive” or “obtain”)
  • Chatty phrases (“you’ll be all set”)
  • Possibly slang, if it fits with your personal style (“thingy”, “ta!”)
  • Short sentences and paragraphs
  • Some “ungrammatical” features where appropriate (e.g. starting a sentence with “And”)

You might want to take a closer look at some of the blogs you read yourself. How do they create a sense of rapport through their language? How could you rewrite part of their post to make it more or less formal? What words or phrases would you change?

#3: Give the Reader Space to Respond

Conversations are two-way, and that means letting your readers have a say too. If you’ve decided to close comments on your blog, you may want to consider opening up a different avenue for readers to get involved, such as a Facebook page or group.

When you’re writing your post, don’t feel you need to have the last word on everything. You don’t have to tie up every loose end. It’s fine to say you’re still thinking about a particular subject, or that you’re still learning. This gives your readers the opportunity to chime in with their own expertise or experiences.

Often, you can simply ask readers to add to your post. For instance, if you’ve written “10 Great Ways to Have More Fun With Your Blogging”, ask readers to contribute their own ideas in the comments. Some people won’t feel confident about commenting unless explicitly invited to do so, ideally with a suggestion of what they could add (e.g. “What would you add to this list?” or “Have you tried any of these ideas?”)

On a slightly selfish note, if you’re not sure about the value of comments, remember it’s not just about your readers getting more out of your blog. Some of my best blog post ideas have come from a reader’s suggestion or question in a comment. And many other comments have prompted me to think in a more nuanced way about a particular topic.

There’s no one “right” way to blog, and some blogs will inevitably be more conversational than others. If you’d like to make your own posts a bit more conversational, though, look for opportunities to:

  • Use “you” and “I”. Talk directly to your reader, and share your own experiences where appropriate.
  • Make your language fairly informal. Don’t worry about everything being “correct” – just let your voice and style shine through.
  • Open up the conversation by inviting readers to comment, or encouraging them to pop over to your Facebook page (or join your Facebook group).

Have you tried making your blog more conversational? Or is it something you’re just getting started with? Either way, leave a comment below to share your experiences and tips.

Christin Hume

The post 3 Simple Ways to Make Your Blog Posts More Conversational appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

How to Plan Your Blog Post from Start to Finish

Plan your blog postsThis is a post by ProBlogger expert Ali Luke

Do you plan your blog posts? Or do you dive straight into the writing?

A lot of bloggers barely plan their posts (if they plan them at all). They’re either too eager to get started, or feel rushed and see planning as a waste of time.

But taking just five minutes to plan your posts can make a huge difference to your blogging.

Here’s why.

Five Great Reasons to Plan Your Posts Before You Start Writing

#1: More Planning = Less Editing

By spending five minutes planning, you can often save yourself 15 or 30 minutes of editing. If it’s clear at the planning stage that a post isn’t quite going to work, you can easily change it before you start writing, which will save a lot of time and effort.

#2: A Good Plan Makes it Easier to Write

While some bloggers feel that planning kills their spontaneity, I find a plan liberating. It’s much easier to write when you’re not trying to keep everything in your head and constantly worrying you’ll forget the next three points you want to make.

#3: Well-Planned Posts are More Engaging for Your Readers

If your post wanders off the point and doesn’t deliver on what you promised in the headline or introduction, readers will understandably get fed up. They may not finish reading it. And they certainly won’t be eagerly subscribing to your blog for more.

#4: Planning Can Help You Come Up with More Ideas

The process of writing down your ideas and getting them into a structure can often spark off new ideas. Some may help you deepen the post you’re planning, while others may give you the seed for a whole new post. If you find it hard to come up with new post ideas, plan more.

#5: You May Have to Plan if You’re Working With an Editor

Chances are that at some point in your blogging career you’ll have to write a plan. If you pitch a guest post or a freelance piece, you’ll often be asked for an outline. If you’ve never planned your own posts, writing a plan for someone else to read may feel very daunting. So get some practice in now.

Before I run through how to create a plan for your next blog post, let’s take a quick look at what a plan might actually look like.

The Plan for One of My ProBlogger Posts

Initial idea: “Should You Stop Taking Comments on Your Blog?”

I’ve been blogging for so long my ideas often take the form of potential titles, as this one did. In the end the title became “Should You Disable Comments on Your Blog?” (which is far more succinct), but it was good enough for the planning phase.

The Plan

This is the brief version of my plan for the post:

Introduction – why close comments?

Prominent bloggers who removed comments – Steve Pavlina, Seth Godin, Copyblogger (brought them back), Michael Hyatt (brought them back).

Carol Tice (Make a Living Writing) – always answered comments but clearly not sustainable.

Deciding what to do about comments

Close them or not? Link to Charlie Gilkey’s post

Other options:

– Anti-spam plugin

– Close comments on old posts

– Use Disqus / FB comments

Conclusion – comments are valuable but you don’t NEED to have them on your blog

Now this is a very bare-bones plan. This might be enough for some bloggers, but I tend to flesh out each section with a few more notes before I start writing. (I’ll be recommending it as part of your own planning system in a moment.)

You may also have noticed that my plan has “Introduction” at the start and “Conclusion” at the end. Every plan I write includes these sections, and making sure I have those in place helps to give my posts a solid structure.

Using a Standard Template for Your Blog Posts

At its most basic, a good blog post template looks like this:

  • Introduction
  • Main body
  • Conclusion

If you want, you can use that template for your posts. However, some bloggers like to go further and create a more detailed template to make their blogging easier. A great example is Michael Hyatt’s blog post template, which he details in Anatomy of an Effective Blog Post.

You may want to develop your own template, or even a template with variations for different types of post, to help you create plans quickly and easily.

How to Plan Your Next Blog Post

Of course, this isn’t the only way to plan a blog post. But hopefully  it’s a useful starting point for you. Once you’ve tried it out, you can tweak and adapt it to suit your workflow.

Step #1: Write Down Your Topic or Idea

Write  down the idea/topic for your blog post. Turn it into a working title, which often helps pin down the format of the post. For  instance, “7 Ways to…” is clearly going to be a list post.

Step #2: Create a Mindmap

On paper, or using an app, create a mindmap for your post. Write your title (or a short version of it) in the centre of the page, then jot down your key points around it. You may find that you start coming up with more details – perhaps an idea relating to one of these points, or a link to include. Write those down too. If your mindmap starts getting unclear, circle or highlight your key points in a different colour.

Step #3: Type an Outline

Type your key points into an outline, with any sub-points or extra details beneath each point, as in this example (from my plan for the post you’re currently reading):

Using a Standard Template for Your Blog Posts

– Introduction, main body, conclusion
– Michael Hyatt’s template

How to Plan Your Next Blog Post

– Write down your topic or idea
– Create a mindmap
– Type an outline

At the start of your outline, add “Introduction”. And at the end, add “Conclusion”. Even if you don’t include any further details, it will remind you to write those sections.

Write down the topic, and come up with a working title to help you pin down the format.

Step #4 (optional): Flesh Out Your Outline

For a very short post, or one where you know the material well, you may want to omit this step. But again, I believe that every minute you spend planning will save you several minutes of editing.

Go through your outline, and write a few notes for each key point. What will that section of your post cover? Are there any resources (yours or other people’s) that you want to mention and link to?

Now, it’s finally time to write. Hopefully you’ll find drafting your post easy, as you’ve got the whole structure laid out for you. And at a glance you can see where you’re up to and how far you’ve got to go, which can help you pace your post appropriately.

For your next blog post, challenge yourself to spend at least five minutes planning and see what a difference it makes. 

And feel free to share your plans with us in the comments.

The post How to Plan Your Blog Post from Start to Finish appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

212: 7 More Evergreen Content Ideas for Your Blog

Evergreen Content Ideas for Bloggers: Part 2

Today I want to talk about evergreen content, and want to suggest seven more types of evergreen content you might like to try on your blog.

This episode is essentially part two of what I started in episode 209, where I suggested the first seven types of evergreen content. But whether you listen to this one first and then that one, or listen to that one first and then this one, you should get some ideas either way.

7 More Evergreen Content Ideas for Your Blog

Influencers to Watch in Industry

XX Habits of successful xxxxx

History of (topic/brand/product/industry)

Observations about an Industry

Links and Resources for 7 Types of Evergreen Content To Create On Your Blog

Further Listening

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Hey there and welcome to Episode 212 of ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind
problogger.com, a blog, podcast, events, job board, and a series of ebooks all designed to help you as a blogger to grow a profitable blog. You can learn more about ProBlogger over at problogger.com.

In today’s episode, I want to talk about evergreen content again. I want to suggest to you seven more types of evergreen content that you might like to try on your blog. This episode is essentially part two of what I started a couple of episodes ago, back in 209, where I suggested the first seven types of evergreen content. You might want to go back and listen to that one, but you might also just wanna go ahead with today’s as well. I’ve designed this episode as a standalone one and you can go back and listen to the other one later if you’d like. Either way will work.

Before I get on with the show, just a quick note that there are still a few tickets for our Dallas event – problogger.com/success. It’s on the 24th and 25th of October. I’d love to meet you at that event as well. There are also some virtual passes available and I’ll talk more about those at the end of the show. You can find them at that same link.

Back in Episode 209, I presented the first seven types of evergreen content. I talked a little bit about what evergreen content was, the type of content that doesn’t date. It’s the type of content that you continue to promote on social media again and again, it tends to do quite well in Google. We touched on very much educational content there. We talked about ‘how to’ content, frequently asked questions, research results, stories, case studies, introductions to topics or ultimate guides, and I do recommend that you go back and listen to that episode perhaps after this one is finished.

That episode got so much positive feedback. I loved it. I loved getting the tweets and the emails from people saying I listened to this episode, and I planned out my next week’s content. Or, in one case, I had someone plan out their next three months of content based upon that one episode. I was so inspired by the way many of you applied what you heard in the episode that I wanted to create another one. Really, there are so many different types of evergreen content and we just scratched the surface in Episode 209.

Today, I’ve got another seven for you. By no means is this the definitive list. There’s going to be more coming in future episodes as well. But today’s seven all have a bit of a theme. They’re all probably going to be quite relevant for those of you who defined your blog by a niche or a topic or an industry. Although having said that, I suspect many of you are going to find this useful if you’ve got a personal blog or even a multi-topic blog.

I really wanted to pick some examples of evergreen content today that would be a little bit more specific to those of you perhaps with a business blog, some of you who are blogging about an industry, because I often get emails from people saying I like your how to content but it’s not really relevant to my industry. Hopefully, a bit of variety in what we’ve got today will be a nice companion piece to Episode 209.

Let’s get on to today’s seven. They’re not all going to be relevant to everyone, and I will say up front that some of these do overlap a little bit with each other as well. You might actually choose to create a piece of content based on today’s episode that has a bit of an overlap between a couple of these.

The first one is what I would call a profile post, or a biography type post. One of the things that people do on Google all the time, and on social media, is search for information about people. I do it all the time. Every time I see someone on television that I find interesting, the first thing I do is jump onto Google and Google that person. One thing that you can do is to create content that’s going to be on the other end of those Googles and those searches. Create a piece of content that is about a person, that is a profile article, a profile piece about that person. Talk about what they achieved, talk about some of their demographic information, their age, their background, any kind of personal information. You don’t want to go too personal but the type of information that people would find interesting.

How did they start out in the thing that they’re known for today? How did they rise in the industry that they’re in or their career? Were there any key moments in their life or in their development? Talk about the controversies around the person if there are any, and you don’t want to go digging if there’s none there. Any news related to them, you might want to link to articles that were written about them, you might want to link to social media profiles, their blog if they’ve got one, their podcast, their YouTube channel, anywhere that they have a presence online. Talk about their credentials, their qualifications, links to interesting reads about the person, any quotes that can be attributed to that person.

Images of the person also would bring the post to life, the article live. Any kind of stories about the person as well so that you’re not just presenting data, you’re presenting actually a story of the person.

The ideal, I guess, would be to involve the person that you’re creating a profile piece about in the creation of that. You might want to reach out to them and ask them some questions, ask if they might jump on a call with you to do an interview with you. But in some cases, you might not get the positive response from that person, particularly if it’s a very well-known person. But there would be plenty of information about many high-profile people already. You would be able to find the information that you would need.

A biography, a profile type post is one example of an evergreen piece of content. This is the type of thing you might want to come back to again and again to update it as that person’s story develops. You might want to update it once a year, just adding any new information about that person. It is the type of content that doesn’t date because a person’s story doesn’t date. What they did three years ago is still what they did three years ago. You might want to update it so that it becomes continually up to date for people who continue to find it, but it is evergreen content.

This is a piece of content that you could do in most industries, I personally have had these types of articles written about me. Sometimes, people reach out and get my involvement. Sometimes, they just write it based upon their observations and what they can find through research. You could do this about any type of person in any industry, whether they’re well known or someone who’s an up-and-coming type of person. That, I think, would be particularly a good piece of content to create, someone who is on the rise in your industry, maybe an emerging leader, someone who has just done something significant because they’re the type of person that there wouldn’t be as many articles about. You have a higher chance of being able to rank for that type of content. A profile post is the first thing that I’ve talked about today.

Number two, it overlaps with this one a little bit, or it could, is what I would call an interview piece of content. An interview with a person of note in your industry. As I said, this could be related to this first piece of content that I talked about, the profile piece. You might actually want to do both at the same time. If you are able to get an interview with a person of note in your industry, you might want to publish a profile article about the person, this is an article that you write about a person, drawing on some of the information that you get in the interview. And then you might also want to publish the interview, with permission from the person. You might create an audio version or you might just publish the transcript.

I say this all the time in mainstream media and on podcasts, people quite often will write an article about someone and say, “And if you’d like to listen to the article that we based this article upon, go and listen to it here, or go and read it here.” These companion pieces of content can work quite well with one another.

You could do an interview that is about a person’s story. You might want to find someone in your industry and really go from the beginning of their life right through to the end of their life. The interview can be quite biographical in nature, it can be very story telling, or you might choose to really just interview a person about a topic. There’s a variety of different types of interviews that you can do.

For example, in the last episode of this podcast, Episode 211, I interviewed Pat Flynn but we didn’t talk about his whole story, we just talked about podcasting. I interviewed him about that. It wasn’t a story telling, it wasn’t a biographical type podcast, plenty of people have interviewed Pat on those topics. It really narrowed in on a topic and it was very how to in nature. It was an interview that tried to draw out advice from Pat. You don’t have to have that more narrative, story telling interview, it can be more of an advice type one.

Again, interviews can be done in a variety of formats. You can do an audio one, it can be quite natural. Some people like to listen, some people prefer to watch. You might want to do a video one, whether that would be a screen capture type thing where you do an interview on live video and then repurpose that for YouTube, or you might want to do a written interview. This is how I started out, the first interviews that I did, I would send the person I was interviewing five or six questions and then they would send their responses and I would publish the text of that.

There’s a variety of ways that you can do that depending on your skill as an interviewer. There are some tips in that last podcast on interviewing from Pat as well, you might want to listen to that if this is something you want to do, particularly in that audio format. Interviews can be long form, the one I did from Pat was I think an hour and 20 minutes, that was quite a long interview for me. I know other podcasters go for three or four hours, some of the longer ones, but it can be very short form interview as well. I’ve done interviews on this podcast that have lasted for 15 minutes because I want to really focus in on a really narrow topic. Again, you don’t have to do long form interviews, it could be one-question interview and that’s something we’ll talk about in a moment as well.

Interviews are great. Again, this is evergreen content, particularly if you’re talking about a story of someone. That story can be quite timeless. People are going to find that interesting for the long form. Sometimes, the more advice driven interviews might date a little bit, but they will be relatively evergreen as well. Interviews are great evergreen content, that was number two.

Number three builds upon the interview and this is what many people would call the expert roundup. This is a variation of the interview type content where you do a round up of opinions or stories or answers to questions from a variety of sources. You combine all of those answers, all those stories, all of that advice, all of those opinions into one piece of content. You’ve probably seen these, they’re quite popular at the moment. This is where someone will email 10 different people in an industry asking them one question each and they would just take their responses, copy and paste them into an article. The beauty of these types of interviews, I guess you would call them, the one question interviews in many regards, is that they are a little bit easier to get a response from someone than asking them to do a full interview. They just need to respond with one answer rather than answering 10 different questions or setting aside an hour to be interviewed.

I will say that a lot of experts and a lot of high-profile people are getting asked to do a lot of these. They’re perhaps not as easy as you would think these days.

Many people would refer to this type of content as the expert roundup, but they don’t need to be with experts as such. In fact, sometimes the more compelling versions of these are where you interview everyday people, people who have expertise but they’re not really well known, they’re not the gurus. That often can unearth some really interesting stories.

The other option that you might want to do is to do a roundup of the opinion or stories of your readers, doing a reader roundup can be another variation of this. I’ve done this numerous times on ProBlogger where I would ask my audience a single question, ask them for examples of something they’ve done or a tip that they might have, and then I compile those things into a piece of content. In my opinion, sometimes they’re better than an expert review because the experts do tend to say the same things over and over again. Whereas if you can get a roundup of people who are perhaps not so well known but still know what they’re talking about, like ProBlogger readers—ProBlogger readers and listeners have amazing stories to tell—unearthing some of those can be quite useful as well.

The idea here is ask everyone the same question, combine their answers, and then put them into a piece of content.

A lot of the times when I see this type of content done, it’s around advice. Everyone gets asked for a tip, and this is the type of thing that I get asked quite a bit. Can you give us a tip on SEO, can you give us a tip on live video? That’s what the focus is. Doesn’t have to be advice, though. You could do one that’s storytelling. Ask 10 people to tell you a quick story on a theme, or ask 10 people for examples of something, or ask them for their predictions of what’s going to happen next year in your industry. Ask them to tell you about their favorite tool or resource. Ask the 10 people for their favorite quote or about their biggest mistake, or about a secret that they haven’t really talked about elsewhere. Ask them about their favorite book. The list could go on and on.

I guess what I would encourage you to do is to try and find a unique angle. The expert roundup that’s focused on advice may have been overdone in your industry, but there are other ways to do this. Find a unique angle, find something interesting that’s actually going to be useful to your readers, and then seek out the right people to answer that as well.

Usually, these are text-based, a lot of article-based ones, but you could do it if the people are willing to via audio. You can actually ask them, could you record a one-minute grab for me? You could even get them to submit it via video. We did this on ProBlogger a few years ago. I asked my readers to submit a video with a tip for blogging, and then we put all the little videos into the one blog post. There’s a variety of ways that you can do that and that might be a way to mix this up or make it stand up a little from what other people are doing as well.

The alternative to an expert roundup where you go seeking information from people might be to find quotes from people that are already online. If you don’t perhaps have a profile, you can get people to respond to your interviews, you might just want to do a search. You could, for example, say do a search for headlines. If I was doing one of these on ProBlogger, I might do an article on what ten people, ten experts say about creating great headlines for blog posts. I might do a Brian Clark from CopyBlogger, I might do a search for him and see what he’s written about headlines and then find a quote from him. Then, I could find another expert in another field, someone from BuzzSumo, and find out what they say about headlines. That would be the other way to do it. To actually do a bit of research yourself and find quotes or find advice from people, and then link to the source of course of the articles that you took those quotes from.

Number one, just to summarize where we’ve been, biographies, profile posts. Number two is interviews. Number three is expert roundups. Number four is something we’ve done for the last few years on ProBlogger, we have, at the end of each year, created a post called Bloggers To Watch in 2017, or Bloggers To Watch in 2016, Bloggers To Watch in 2015. We’ve had the same person create all these articles over the years, Jade Craven. I’ll link to the latest one in today’s show notes. You can adapt this to your industry as well. Influencers to watch in the travel industry, or influencers to watch in the food industry, influencers to watch in the accounting industry. You could really take this in any direction at all.

Really, I guess this is evergreen for a period of time, particularly if you’re doing it for a particular year. You don’t have to do it every year, and you don’t even have to put a date to it. You can just do top 10 food influencers, or top 10 fashion influencers. You can really take it in any direction, not make it based on a year. We tend to do it for a year because the industry is changing all of the time. We like to have an excuse to continually update that post.

You can vary this in a variety of ways. You can do top 10 Twitter accounts to follow, you can do 10 Facebook groups to be a part of, you can do the top 10 podcasts in your industry, really here it’s about identifying key people or key resources for people to subscribe to or to watch in a particular industry. It’s not just about ten people or the people that you want to watch, it could be something else as well.

These are reasonably evergreen types of content, but again it’s the type of content that semi regularly you might want to come back to and update or do a second post on. You can link all of those pieces of content together. This is what I would call the influencers to watch type of content. That word influencers, you might want to choose something else as well if it’s not as relevant. You might want to talk about ten leaders, ten people on the rise, ten biggest earners in an industry, you can really take that in any direction as well. That was number four.

Number five is a little bit different. It may be linked to some of the interviews that you do, or some of the research that you’re doing of people. This is one that I would call the habits of successful…, and you can put in your own word there. I could do that as ten habits of successful photographers on Digital Photography School. I can do ten habits of effective bloggers. You can do the same thing in your industry, ten habits of successful chefs, of teachers, of accountants; whatever it is that you’re writing about.

This is where you really try and summarize the things that you notice about people who have had success or who have had achievements in a particular industry. What makes them successful? What has made them achieve what they’ve achieved? What are some of the common things that you notice about them? You could do this type of article in a very broad way. On Digital Photography School, we have done Five Habits Of Good Photographers. I’ve done Ten Habits of Highly Effective ProBloggers on ProBlogger. They’re very broad, that’s on the overarching topic of my blogs. Or, you can really narrow them down on many blogs as well.

For example, on Digital Photography School, we can do a post, habits of great travel photographers. We can do another one, habits of great wedding photographers. The habits of these different people and the skills that they need are different from category to category, so that may be relevant for you. Again, on ProBlogger, we can do habits of great fashion bloggers, food bloggers, or travel bloggers. There would be different ways of narrowing down those types of articles and actually making them into a series. That may be relevant for you. This may be a piece of evergreen content that you’re able to then repurpose the format and make it almost into a monthly article that you do.

We did one on ProBlogger recently, The Nine Conversion Habits of The World’s Most Successful Bloggers. This was a narrowing down but talking about a particular skill. It’s not a particular type of person but it’s a particular skill that bloggers might need to have. Again, I’ll link to these in the show notes.

The other way to do this type of article, the habits type article, is to do the flipside and talk about the bad habits to avoid. We’ve done this in conjunction with our good habits, articles on Digital Photography School. We did an article, a few years ago, one of our writers did Five Good Habits of Photographers, and then the next day she published Five Bad Habits To Avoid. That actually worked really well because it enabled us to link those posts together and promote them together. They went crazy. I remember the traffic that came into both of those pieces of content were fantastic. You can take the negative side of these things to avoid, mistakes to avoid, bad habits can really work well.

Number six is where you do a history of a brand or a product or even an industry. In many ways, this is like doing a profile or a biography article like I talked about earlier, but you’re doing it on a broader topic or brand or product or industry. It’s not based upon a person, but it is based upon a thing or an industry or a brand. To give you some examples, on ProBlogger, I can do the history of blogging and actually create a timeline, I might actually do a visual timeline and then talk about the different years and what happened in each of the years. It becomes a history. That’s evergreen. Again, that doesn’t change. History doesn’t change. The way we tell history changes, and I might want to update that post every year, but the bulk of that content would stay the same. It’s evergreen, it’s still useful. Anyone wanting to know what blogging was like in 2005 can go back and look at that particular period.

I can do the history of blogging, I can do the history of photography, you can do the history of the iPhone, you can do the history of Samsung as a brand, you could really do the history of accounting, you could really do whatever you like as it adapts to your particular topic.

This is the type of content you can update over time. For example if I was doing the history of the iPhone, it would be something that you can update once a year, every time a new iPhone is announced. The beauty of doing that is that this is a piece of content that is really relevant to be promoting on social media once a year, every time the update comes out, every time a new iOS version is released, every time there’s a new rumor, you can be promoting the history of that particular thing. This is, I think, a really useful type of content that you can continue to bring life to and bring readers’ attention back to again and again. You probably do need to update it. It’s not purely evergreen, it’s not I write it once and then forget about it, but it’s not too hard to update that type of thing.

Another type of history would be to take the flipside of this as well, to do the future of. You can do the future of the iPhone, the future of accounting. This is the type of content that may not be quite as evergreen, but I wanted to include it because I read an article recently over at Buzz Sumo and I’ll link to this article in the show notes today. This article that Buzz Sumo did analyzed headlines that had been wildly shared, content that had been shared a lot, particularly in the business space.

One of the formats of headlines that does consistently well, in fact it was the second most popular type of headline, headlines that started with ‘The Future Of’. I wanted to just draw your attention to that. It’s a bit of a flipside of the history of, it’s about predicting the future. Again, this isn’t quite as evergreen because you might want to predict what’s going to happen in 2018, once 2018 kicks around that’s perhaps less relevant because it becomes history or it becomes wrong, but this is the type of content that people do like to read. They want to know what the coming trends are, they want to know what the developments will be in the future. You might want to try that type of content as well. In fact, you might even want to be updating that as well, you might want to have a post that you published today that you continually update about the future of your industry over time.

In some ways, the page, the URL becomes evergreen because people continue to go back to it, but the content on it might evolve over time. Number six, the history of or the future of a topic, a brand, or a product.

The seventh one, the last one I want to talk about today, is in some ways related to that last one. It’s about an industry or about a topic. It’s what I would call your observations about that industry or topic. You can take this in a few different directions, and I’m basing this on some of the experience that we’ve had on my blogs. We noticed that when we write about the myths of an industry, five ridiculous search engine optimization myths that every blogger should ignore is an article that we published. It did really well. These are the myths of search engine optimization.

On Digital Photography School, we did The Four Common Myths Of Full Frame Cameras Dispelled. We talked about this new category of cameras, we talked about the myths of that type of camera. This is an observation, these are misconceptions, I guess, that people have about an industry. Myths might be one way that you can make some observations about your industry. Another type would be to talk about the secrets of your industry, things that people don’t talk about. It might be five things no one tells you about photography, and these are things that you think are important but aren’t being talked about enough.

You can talk about the white lies, I actually saw an article as I was researching this podcast on Buzz Sumo. A number of people wrote about the lies that get told in their industries. Again, this is an observational piece about an industry. In many cases, these things don’t date, they don’t change. I think about the things that people don’t talk about in blogging, they don’t change. Or the common questions that people ask, they don’t change. The trends, the emerging trends, these are observations about an industry. If you can spot some of those that might be relevant for your audience, that might be another type of evergreen content that you might want to write as well.

These seven things today, as I say, they all relate a little bit. They’re all about people or industries. There may be more relevance for some of you than others, but I think most of us could really find a way to write one of those types of articles. Let me summarize them again.

You’ve got biographies or profiles, number one. Number two is interviews. Number three is expert roundups, although they don’t always have to be experts. Number four might be influencers to watch or top people to watch in an industry. Number five is habits of successful people in your industry. Number six is the history of or the timeline of your industry. Number seven might be more observational posts about your industry; myths, secrets, or lies, or trends, as they pertain to your industry.

They’re the seven for today. As I say, this is the second seven so we’re now up to 14 types of evergreen content. My challenge for you, having gone through 14 now, is to create a piece of content, at least one, that is based upon those 14. My challenge is for you to choose one of the things that we talked about today, or back in Episode 209, and to create one. I would love to know if you do that too. I’d love to know what you do with this. The feedback you gave after the 209th episode was really fantastic.

There’s a couple of ways you can do that. You can send me an email. My email is darren@problogger.net. I don’t tend to respond to every email that I get, I get a lot, but I do read them all. A better place that you might want to share your post would be over in our Facebook group. If you do a search on Facebook for ProBlogger Community, you’ll find it. Every week there in the group, we have a thread on our wins for the week. We do #wins. Look for the latest one of those wins threads and share your link. That’s a great place for you to tell us what you did with this episode. I do check out all of the things that are left there as well.

Head over to the group, let us know there. Or, you could let us know over on the comments of the show notes. Again, today’s show notes are at problogger.com/podcast/212 where I do link to all the examples and the article on Buzz Sumo. You can find that there, but there’s also the opportunity to leave a comment as well. I’d love to hear from you. Let us know what you come up with, and I’m going to do yet another episode on evergreen content in the next few weeks as well with another seven types of evergreen content that you might want to create. We might actually create a little cheat sheet or a printable as well with a summary of all this stuff. Stay tuned for that.

Thanks for listening today. Let us know what you create as a result of today’s episode.

Also, before you go, if you are in the Dallas area, Texas, even if you’re in the States and want to fly in for it, I do want to bring your attention to that event that we’ve got running on the 24th and 25th of October. This year, we have Pat Flynn speaking, we’ve got Rachel Miller who you heard from a couple of weeks ago. She’s talking about Facebook pages at the event. We’ve got Kim Garst who is an expert on live video. She’s going to come and talk about selling using live video. We’ve got Andrea Vahl talking about Facebook Advertising, we’ve got Kim Sorgius talking about email funnels, we’ve got Steve Chou who’s a great speaker, he’s going to be talking about selling courses. We’ve got Deacon Hayes talking about SEO strategy, Jim Wang talking about monetizing hot blog posts in your archives, and Kelly Snyder is talking about using challenges to grow your blog as well. I’ll be doing a session as well on evolving your business.

It’s going to be amazing. We’ve got a whole day, the first day goes from about 9:00AM to I think about 10:00PM. It’s going to be a massive, long day full of content, teaching. The second day is a half day of masterminding. If that is something that’s of interest to you, head over to problogger.com/success. I’ll link to it from today’s show notes as well.

A number of you have been asking for virtual passes for that event. We have just released those. If you can’t get to Dallas, you can get all of the teaching content from Day 1 by that virtual pass as well. It won’t be live but you’ll get the recordings from all those sessions as well. It’s pretty affordable. Head over to problogger.com/success to get details of the live event and the virtual pass as well.

Thanks for listening today. I look forward to chatting with you next week in Episode 213 of the ProBlogger podcast.

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212: 7 More Evergreen Content Ideas for Your Blog

Evergreen Content Ideas for Bloggers: Part 2

Today I want to talk about evergreen content, and want to suggest seven more types of evergreen content you might like to try on your blog.

This episode is essentially part two of what I started in episode 209, where I suggested the first seven types of evergreen content. But whether you listen to this one first and then that one, or listen to that one first and then this one, you should get some ideas either way.

7 More Evergreen Content Ideas for Your Blog

Influencers to Watch in Industry

XX Habits of successful xxxxx

History of (topic/brand/product/industry)

Observations about an Industry

Links and Resources for 7 Types of Evergreen Content To Create On Your Blog

Further Listening

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Hey there and welcome to Episode 212 of ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind
problogger.com, a blog, podcast, events, job board, and a series of ebooks all designed to help you as a blogger to grow a profitable blog. You can learn more about ProBlogger over at problogger.com.

In today’s episode, I want to talk about evergreen content again. I want to suggest to you seven more types of evergreen content that you might like to try on your blog. This episode is essentially part two of what I started a couple of episodes ago, back in 209, where I suggested the first seven types of evergreen content. You might want to go back and listen to that one, but you might also just wanna go ahead with today’s as well. I’ve designed this episode as a standalone one and you can go back and listen to the other one later if you’d like. Either way will work.

Before I get on with the show, just a quick note that there are still a few tickets for our Dallas event – problogger.com/success. It’s on the 24th and 25th of October. I’d love to meet you at that event as well. There are also some virtual passes available and I’ll talk more about those at the end of the show. You can find them at that same link.

Back in Episode 209, I presented the first seven types of evergreen content. I talked a little bit about what evergreen content was, the type of content that doesn’t date. It’s the type of content that you continue to promote on social media again and again, it tends to do quite well in Google. We touched on very much educational content there. We talked about ‘how to’ content, frequently asked questions, research results, stories, case studies, introductions to topics or ultimate guides, and I do recommend that you go back and listen to that episode perhaps after this one is finished.

That episode got so much positive feedback. I loved it. I loved getting the tweets and the emails from people saying I listened to this episode, and I planned out my next week’s content. Or, in one case, I had someone plan out their next three months of content based upon that one episode. I was so inspired by the way many of you applied what you heard in the episode that I wanted to create another one. Really, there are so many different types of evergreen content and we just scratched the surface in Episode 209.

Today, I’ve got another seven for you. By no means is this the definitive list. There’s going to be more coming in future episodes as well. But today’s seven all have a bit of a theme. They’re all probably going to be quite relevant for those of you who defined your blog by a niche or a topic or an industry. Although having said that, I suspect many of you are going to find this useful if you’ve got a personal blog or even a multi-topic blog.

I really wanted to pick some examples of evergreen content today that would be a little bit more specific to those of you perhaps with a business blog, some of you who are blogging about an industry, because I often get emails from people saying I like your how to content but it’s not really relevant to my industry. Hopefully, a bit of variety in what we’ve got today will be a nice companion piece to Episode 209.

Let’s get on to today’s seven. They’re not all going to be relevant to everyone, and I will say up front that some of these do overlap a little bit with each other as well. You might actually choose to create a piece of content based on today’s episode that has a bit of an overlap between a couple of these.

The first one is what I would call a profile post, or a biography type post. One of the things that people do on Google all the time, and on social media, is search for information about people. I do it all the time. Every time I see someone on television that I find interesting, the first thing I do is jump onto Google and Google that person. One thing that you can do is to create content that’s going to be on the other end of those Googles and those searches. Create a piece of content that is about a person, that is a profile article, a profile piece about that person. Talk about what they achieved, talk about some of their demographic information, their age, their background, any kind of personal information. You don’t want to go too personal but the type of information that people would find interesting.

How did they start out in the thing that they’re known for today? How did they rise in the industry that they’re in or their career? Were there any key moments in their life or in their development? Talk about the controversies around the person if there are any, and you don’t want to go digging if there’s none there. Any news related to them, you might want to link to articles that were written about them, you might want to link to social media profiles, their blog if they’ve got one, their podcast, their YouTube channel, anywhere that they have a presence online. Talk about their credentials, their qualifications, links to interesting reads about the person, any quotes that can be attributed to that person.

Images of the person also would bring the post to life, the article live. Any kind of stories about the person as well so that you’re not just presenting data, you’re presenting actually a story of the person.

The ideal, I guess, would be to involve the person that you’re creating a profile piece about in the creation of that. You might want to reach out to them and ask them some questions, ask if they might jump on a call with you to do an interview with you. But in some cases, you might not get the positive response from that person, particularly if it’s a very well-known person. But there would be plenty of information about many high-profile people already. You would be able to find the information that you would need.

A biography, a profile type post is one example of an evergreen piece of content. This is the type of thing you might want to come back to again and again to update it as that person’s story develops. You might want to update it once a year, just adding any new information about that person. It is the type of content that doesn’t date because a person’s story doesn’t date. What they did three years ago is still what they did three years ago. You might want to update it so that it becomes continually up to date for people who continue to find it, but it is evergreen content.

This is a piece of content that you could do in most industries, I personally have had these types of articles written about me. Sometimes, people reach out and get my involvement. Sometimes, they just write it based upon their observations and what they can find through research. You could do this about any type of person in any industry, whether they’re well known or someone who’s an up-and-coming type of person. That, I think, would be particularly a good piece of content to create, someone who is on the rise in your industry, maybe an emerging leader, someone who has just done something significant because they’re the type of person that there wouldn’t be as many articles about. You have a higher chance of being able to rank for that type of content. A profile post is the first thing that I’ve talked about today.

Number two, it overlaps with this one a little bit, or it could, is what I would call an interview piece of content. An interview with a person of note in your industry. As I said, this could be related to this first piece of content that I talked about, the profile piece. You might actually want to do both at the same time. If you are able to get an interview with a person of note in your industry, you might want to publish a profile article about the person, this is an article that you write about a person, drawing on some of the information that you get in the interview. And then you might also want to publish the interview, with permission from the person. You might create an audio version or you might just publish the transcript.

I say this all the time in mainstream media and on podcasts, people quite often will write an article about someone and say, “And if you’d like to listen to the article that we based this article upon, go and listen to it here, or go and read it here.” These companion pieces of content can work quite well with one another.

You could do an interview that is about a person’s story. You might want to find someone in your industry and really go from the beginning of their life right through to the end of their life. The interview can be quite biographical in nature, it can be very story telling, or you might choose to really just interview a person about a topic. There’s a variety of different types of interviews that you can do.

For example, in the last episode of this podcast, Episode 211, I interviewed Pat Flynn but we didn’t talk about his whole story, we just talked about podcasting. I interviewed him about that. It wasn’t a story telling, it wasn’t a biographical type podcast, plenty of people have interviewed Pat on those topics. It really narrowed in on a topic and it was very how to in nature. It was an interview that tried to draw out advice from Pat. You don’t have to have that more narrative, story telling interview, it can be more of an advice type one.

Again, interviews can be done in a variety of formats. You can do an audio one, it can be quite natural. Some people like to listen, some people prefer to watch. You might want to do a video one, whether that would be a screen capture type thing where you do an interview on live video and then repurpose that for YouTube, or you might want to do a written interview. This is how I started out, the first interviews that I did, I would send the person I was interviewing five or six questions and then they would send their responses and I would publish the text of that.

There’s a variety of ways that you can do that depending on your skill as an interviewer. There are some tips in that last podcast on interviewing from Pat as well, you might want to listen to that if this is something you want to do, particularly in that audio format. Interviews can be long form, the one I did from Pat was I think an hour and 20 minutes, that was quite a long interview for me. I know other podcasters go for three or four hours, some of the longer ones, but it can be very short form interview as well. I’ve done interviews on this podcast that have lasted for 15 minutes because I want to really focus in on a really narrow topic. Again, you don’t have to do long form interviews, it could be one-question interview and that’s something we’ll talk about in a moment as well.

Interviews are great. Again, this is evergreen content, particularly if you’re talking about a story of someone. That story can be quite timeless. People are going to find that interesting for the long form. Sometimes, the more advice driven interviews might date a little bit, but they will be relatively evergreen as well. Interviews are great evergreen content, that was number two.

Number three builds upon the interview and this is what many people would call the expert roundup. This is a variation of the interview type content where you do a round up of opinions or stories or answers to questions from a variety of sources. You combine all of those answers, all those stories, all of that advice, all of those opinions into one piece of content. You’ve probably seen these, they’re quite popular at the moment. This is where someone will email 10 different people in an industry asking them one question each and they would just take their responses, copy and paste them into an article. The beauty of these types of interviews, I guess you would call them, the one question interviews in many regards, is that they are a little bit easier to get a response from someone than asking them to do a full interview. They just need to respond with one answer rather than answering 10 different questions or setting aside an hour to be interviewed.

I will say that a lot of experts and a lot of high-profile people are getting asked to do a lot of these. They’re perhaps not as easy as you would think these days.

Many people would refer to this type of content as the expert roundup, but they don’t need to be with experts as such. In fact, sometimes the more compelling versions of these are where you interview everyday people, people who have expertise but they’re not really well known, they’re not the gurus. That often can unearth some really interesting stories.

The other option that you might want to do is to do a roundup of the opinion or stories of your readers, doing a reader roundup can be another variation of this. I’ve done this numerous times on ProBlogger where I would ask my audience a single question, ask them for examples of something they’ve done or a tip that they might have, and then I compile those things into a piece of content. In my opinion, sometimes they’re better than an expert review because the experts do tend to say the same things over and over again. Whereas if you can get a roundup of people who are perhaps not so well known but still know what they’re talking about, like ProBlogger readers—ProBlogger readers and listeners have amazing stories to tell—unearthing some of those can be quite useful as well.

The idea here is ask everyone the same question, combine their answers, and then put them into a piece of content.

A lot of the times when I see this type of content done, it’s around advice. Everyone gets asked for a tip, and this is the type of thing that I get asked quite a bit. Can you give us a tip on SEO, can you give us a tip on live video? That’s what the focus is. Doesn’t have to be advice, though. You could do one that’s storytelling. Ask 10 people to tell you a quick story on a theme, or ask 10 people for examples of something, or ask them for their predictions of what’s going to happen next year in your industry. Ask them to tell you about their favorite tool or resource. Ask the 10 people for their favorite quote or about their biggest mistake, or about a secret that they haven’t really talked about elsewhere. Ask them about their favorite book. The list could go on and on.

I guess what I would encourage you to do is to try and find a unique angle. The expert roundup that’s focused on advice may have been overdone in your industry, but there are other ways to do this. Find a unique angle, find something interesting that’s actually going to be useful to your readers, and then seek out the right people to answer that as well.

Usually, these are text-based, a lot of article-based ones, but you could do it if the people are willing to via audio. You can actually ask them, could you record a one-minute grab for me? You could even get them to submit it via video. We did this on ProBlogger a few years ago. I asked my readers to submit a video with a tip for blogging, and then we put all the little videos into the one blog post. There’s a variety of ways that you can do that and that might be a way to mix this up or make it stand up a little from what other people are doing as well.

The alternative to an expert roundup where you go seeking information from people might be to find quotes from people that are already online. If you don’t perhaps have a profile, you can get people to respond to your interviews, you might just want to do a search. You could, for example, say do a search for headlines. If I was doing one of these on ProBlogger, I might do an article on what ten people, ten experts say about creating great headlines for blog posts. I might do a Brian Clark from CopyBlogger, I might do a search for him and see what he’s written about headlines and then find a quote from him. Then, I could find another expert in another field, someone from BuzzSumo, and find out what they say about headlines. That would be the other way to do it. To actually do a bit of research yourself and find quotes or find advice from people, and then link to the source of course of the articles that you took those quotes from.

Number one, just to summarize where we’ve been, biographies, profile posts. Number two is interviews. Number three is expert roundups. Number four is something we’ve done for the last few years on ProBlogger, we have, at the end of each year, created a post called Bloggers To Watch in 2017, or Bloggers To Watch in 2016, Bloggers To Watch in 2015. We’ve had the same person create all these articles over the years, Jade Craven. I’ll link to the latest one in today’s show notes. You can adapt this to your industry as well. Influencers to watch in the travel industry, or influencers to watch in the food industry, influencers to watch in the accounting industry. You could really take this in any direction at all.

Really, I guess this is evergreen for a period of time, particularly if you’re doing it for a particular year. You don’t have to do it every year, and you don’t even have to put a date to it. You can just do top 10 food influencers, or top 10 fashion influencers. You can really take it in any direction, not make it based on a year. We tend to do it for a year because the industry is changing all of the time. We like to have an excuse to continually update that post.

You can vary this in a variety of ways. You can do top 10 Twitter accounts to follow, you can do 10 Facebook groups to be a part of, you can do the top 10 podcasts in your industry, really here it’s about identifying key people or key resources for people to subscribe to or to watch in a particular industry. It’s not just about ten people or the people that you want to watch, it could be something else as well.

These are reasonably evergreen types of content, but again it’s the type of content that semi regularly you might want to come back to and update or do a second post on. You can link all of those pieces of content together. This is what I would call the influencers to watch type of content. That word influencers, you might want to choose something else as well if it’s not as relevant. You might want to talk about ten leaders, ten people on the rise, ten biggest earners in an industry, you can really take that in any direction as well. That was number four.

Number five is a little bit different. It may be linked to some of the interviews that you do, or some of the research that you’re doing of people. This is one that I would call the habits of successful…, and you can put in your own word there. I could do that as ten habits of successful photographers on Digital Photography School. I can do ten habits of effective bloggers. You can do the same thing in your industry, ten habits of successful chefs, of teachers, of accountants; whatever it is that you’re writing about.

This is where you really try and summarize the things that you notice about people who have had success or who have had achievements in a particular industry. What makes them successful? What has made them achieve what they’ve achieved? What are some of the common things that you notice about them? You could do this type of article in a very broad way. On Digital Photography School, we have done Five Habits Of Good Photographers. I’ve done Ten Habits of Highly Effective ProBloggers on ProBlogger. They’re very broad, that’s on the overarching topic of my blogs. Or, you can really narrow them down on many blogs as well.

For example, on Digital Photography School, we can do a post, habits of great travel photographers. We can do another one, habits of great wedding photographers. The habits of these different people and the skills that they need are different from category to category, so that may be relevant for you. Again, on ProBlogger, we can do habits of great fashion bloggers, food bloggers, or travel bloggers. There would be different ways of narrowing down those types of articles and actually making them into a series. That may be relevant for you. This may be a piece of evergreen content that you’re able to then repurpose the format and make it almost into a monthly article that you do.

We did one on ProBlogger recently, The Nine Conversion Habits of The World’s Most Successful Bloggers. This was a narrowing down but talking about a particular skill. It’s not a particular type of person but it’s a particular skill that bloggers might need to have. Again, I’ll link to these in the show notes.

The other way to do this type of article, the habits type article, is to do the flipside and talk about the bad habits to avoid. We’ve done this in conjunction with our good habits, articles on Digital Photography School. We did an article, a few years ago, one of our writers did Five Good Habits of Photographers, and then the next day she published Five Bad Habits To Avoid. That actually worked really well because it enabled us to link those posts together and promote them together. They went crazy. I remember the traffic that came into both of those pieces of content were fantastic. You can take the negative side of these things to avoid, mistakes to avoid, bad habits can really work well.

Number six is where you do a history of a brand or a product or even an industry. In many ways, this is like doing a profile or a biography article like I talked about earlier, but you’re doing it on a broader topic or brand or product or industry. It’s not based upon a person, but it is based upon a thing or an industry or a brand. To give you some examples, on ProBlogger, I can do the history of blogging and actually create a timeline, I might actually do a visual timeline and then talk about the different years and what happened in each of the years. It becomes a history. That’s evergreen. Again, that doesn’t change. History doesn’t change. The way we tell history changes, and I might want to update that post every year, but the bulk of that content would stay the same. It’s evergreen, it’s still useful. Anyone wanting to know what blogging was like in 2005 can go back and look at that particular period.

I can do the history of blogging, I can do the history of photography, you can do the history of the iPhone, you can do the history of Samsung as a brand, you could really do the history of accounting, you could really do whatever you like as it adapts to your particular topic.

This is the type of content you can update over time. For example if I was doing the history of the iPhone, it would be something that you can update once a year, every time a new iPhone is announced. The beauty of doing that is that this is a piece of content that is really relevant to be promoting on social media once a year, every time the update comes out, every time a new iOS version is released, every time there’s a new rumor, you can be promoting the history of that particular thing. This is, I think, a really useful type of content that you can continue to bring life to and bring readers’ attention back to again and again. You probably do need to update it. It’s not purely evergreen, it’s not I write it once and then forget about it, but it’s not too hard to update that type of thing.

Another type of history would be to take the flipside of this as well, to do the future of. You can do the future of the iPhone, the future of accounting. This is the type of content that may not be quite as evergreen, but I wanted to include it because I read an article recently over at Buzz Sumo and I’ll link to this article in the show notes today. This article that Buzz Sumo did analyzed headlines that had been wildly shared, content that had been shared a lot, particularly in the business space.

One of the formats of headlines that does consistently well, in fact it was the second most popular type of headline, headlines that started with ‘The Future Of’. I wanted to just draw your attention to that. It’s a bit of a flipside of the history of, it’s about predicting the future. Again, this isn’t quite as evergreen because you might want to predict what’s going to happen in 2018, once 2018 kicks around that’s perhaps less relevant because it becomes history or it becomes wrong, but this is the type of content that people do like to read. They want to know what the coming trends are, they want to know what the developments will be in the future. You might want to try that type of content as well. In fact, you might even want to be updating that as well, you might want to have a post that you published today that you continually update about the future of your industry over time.

In some ways, the page, the URL becomes evergreen because people continue to go back to it, but the content on it might evolve over time. Number six, the history of or the future of a topic, a brand, or a product.

The seventh one, the last one I want to talk about today, is in some ways related to that last one. It’s about an industry or about a topic. It’s what I would call your observations about that industry or topic. You can take this in a few different directions, and I’m basing this on some of the experience that we’ve had on my blogs. We noticed that when we write about the myths of an industry, five ridiculous search engine optimization myths that every blogger should ignore is an article that we published. It did really well. These are the myths of search engine optimization.

On Digital Photography School, we did The Four Common Myths Of Full Frame Cameras Dispelled. We talked about this new category of cameras, we talked about the myths of that type of camera. This is an observation, these are misconceptions, I guess, that people have about an industry. Myths might be one way that you can make some observations about your industry. Another type would be to talk about the secrets of your industry, things that people don’t talk about. It might be five things no one tells you about photography, and these are things that you think are important but aren’t being talked about enough.

You can talk about the white lies, I actually saw an article as I was researching this podcast on Buzz Sumo. A number of people wrote about the lies that get told in their industries. Again, this is an observational piece about an industry. In many cases, these things don’t date, they don’t change. I think about the things that people don’t talk about in blogging, they don’t change. Or the common questions that people ask, they don’t change. The trends, the emerging trends, these are observations about an industry. If you can spot some of those that might be relevant for your audience, that might be another type of evergreen content that you might want to write as well.

These seven things today, as I say, they all relate a little bit. They’re all about people or industries. There may be more relevance for some of you than others, but I think most of us could really find a way to write one of those types of articles. Let me summarize them again.

You’ve got biographies or profiles, number one. Number two is interviews. Number three is expert roundups, although they don’t always have to be experts. Number four might be influencers to watch or top people to watch in an industry. Number five is habits of successful people in your industry. Number six is the history of or the timeline of your industry. Number seven might be more observational posts about your industry; myths, secrets, or lies, or trends, as they pertain to your industry.

They’re the seven for today. As I say, this is the second seven so we’re now up to 14 types of evergreen content. My challenge for you, having gone through 14 now, is to create a piece of content, at least one, that is based upon those 14. My challenge is for you to choose one of the things that we talked about today, or back in Episode 209, and to create one. I would love to know if you do that too. I’d love to know what you do with this. The feedback you gave after the 209th episode was really fantastic.

There’s a couple of ways you can do that. You can send me an email. My email is darren@problogger.net. I don’t tend to respond to every email that I get, I get a lot, but I do read them all. A better place that you might want to share your post would be over in our Facebook group. If you do a search on Facebook for ProBlogger Community, you’ll find it. Every week there in the group, we have a thread on our wins for the week. We do #wins. Look for the latest one of those wins threads and share your link. That’s a great place for you to tell us what you did with this episode. I do check out all of the things that are left there as well.

Head over to the group, let us know there. Or, you could let us know over on the comments of the show notes. Again, today’s show notes are at problogger.com/podcast/212 where I do link to all the examples and the article on Buzz Sumo. You can find that there, but there’s also the opportunity to leave a comment as well. I’d love to hear from you. Let us know what you come up with, and I’m going to do yet another episode on evergreen content in the next few weeks as well with another seven types of evergreen content that you might want to create. We might actually create a little cheat sheet or a printable as well with a summary of all this stuff. Stay tuned for that.

Thanks for listening today. Let us know what you create as a result of today’s episode.

Also, before you go, if you are in the Dallas area, Texas, even if you’re in the States and want to fly in for it, I do want to bring your attention to that event that we’ve got running on the 24th and 25th of October. This year, we have Pat Flynn speaking, we’ve got Rachel Miller who you heard from a couple of weeks ago. She’s talking about Facebook pages at the event. We’ve got Kim Garst who is an expert on live video. She’s going to come and talk about selling using live video. We’ve got Andrea Vahl talking about Facebook Advertising, we’ve got Kim Sorgius talking about email funnels, we’ve got Steve Chou who’s a great speaker, he’s going to be talking about selling courses. We’ve got Deacon Hayes talking about SEO strategy, Jim Wang talking about monetizing hot blog posts in your archives, and Kelly Snyder is talking about using challenges to grow your blog as well. I’ll be doing a session as well on evolving your business.

It’s going to be amazing. We’ve got a whole day, the first day goes from about 9:00AM to I think about 10:00PM. It’s going to be a massive, long day full of content, teaching. The second day is a half day of masterminding. If that is something that’s of interest to you, head over to problogger.com/success. I’ll link to it from today’s show notes as well.

A number of you have been asking for virtual passes for that event. We have just released those. If you can’t get to Dallas, you can get all of the teaching content from Day 1 by that virtual pass as well. It won’t be live but you’ll get the recordings from all those sessions as well. It’s pretty affordable. Head over to problogger.com/success to get details of the live event and the virtual pass as well.

Thanks for listening today. I look forward to chatting with you next week in Episode 213 of the ProBlogger podcast.

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7 Common Newsletter Problems Solved

7 common newsletter problems.png

Over the past few weeks, we’ve looked at why email newsletters are so important, what your email newsletter might look like, and how to choose the right service for you.

So is your newsletter up and running yet?

If the answer is “Yes”, is it working as well as you’d like?

If not, then read on.

I know a lot of bloggers find newsletters a bit daunting. And there are some really common problems that crop up again and again. Here are the seven I see most often:

Problem #1: You Know You Should Set Up a List, But You Haven’t Done It Yet

Hopefully, I’ve already convinced you that you need an email list. If you haven’t set yours up yet, it’s probably because you’re struggling to find the time or stuck in analysis paralysis.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Set aside some time this week. You don’t need a whole afternoon to set up your email list. You can do it in stages. If you can find just 15 minutes this week, that’s enough to get started. Take it step by step, and Google for instructions if you get stuck at any stage.
  • If you’re on a tight budget, use a free service. Mailchimp and MailerLite are both free up to 1,000 subscribers. If you find they’re not the perfect solution, you can move your list at a later stage. The important thing is to get started.

Problem #2: You’ve Set Up a List But You Haven’t Got Any Subscribers

So you’ve set up your list, but no-one’s subscribing. Before you do anything else, check that everything’s working. Open your website in a private/incognito browser window (or a different browser from your usual one) so you’re not logged in. Make sure your sign-up form appears, and that you can subscribe.

If everything works as expected, then:

  • Consider repositioning your email form. Most bloggers put it on the top right of their sidebar. If yours is somewhere different, people may be struggling to find it.
  • Try using a pop-up sign-up form.  Wordpress plugins such as Thrive Leads can do this, or you can use the forms offered by your email provider. Using one of these can dramatically increase your sign-up rate. And don’t worry about them getting in the way of your content and annoying your readers. You can set them to pop-up when a reader is about to leave your site.
  • Create an incentive for subscribers. Offer readers something special when they sign up. It could be a free download (such as an ebook, report, “cheat sheet” or printable), or an exclusive discount on your products.

 

Problem #3: You’ve Got Subscribers, But You Never Email Them

Maybe you’ve got everything set up well, with an attractive sign-up form that’s clearly visible and a compelling incentive. And you now have a handful of subscribers.

But you haven’t actually emailed them.

Perhaps you’re not sure what to write, or how often to email. Or maybe you think that with only 10 or 20 subscribers it’s not worth emailing anything at all.

It might help to:

  • Change your mindset. If 10 or 20 people want to hear from you, that’s a great start. Your early emails won’t be wasted. You can always reuse them, or link to them  in the future. (Most services archive your emails online.)
  • Create a content calendar for your email list. Rather than sending a link to your latest post or a weekly/monthly roundup of posts, use an editorial calendar to come up with some ideas ahead of time.

Problem #4: You Used to Email Your List, But Now it’s Gone Cold

In marketing, a ‘cold list’ is one that hasn’t received any emails in a while. Perhaps you sent out a weekly newsletter for six months, but then hit a busy spell and stopped emailing altogether. It happens to most bloggers at some stage, including me back in 2010.

This can be a scary situation.After such a long break, you may be worried your readers will unsubscribe, or even mark your emails as spam.

You can:

  • Reintroduce yourself to your readers. Acknowledge that it’s been a while since your last email (but don’t feel you need to apologise), and remind them who you are.
  • Run a survey to get to know your readers. This can be a great way to re-engage with old subscribers by focusing on what they want. (It’s exactly what I did when my list went cold in 2010.) And the results can be a fantastic source of ideas going forward.
  • Accept that some people will unsubscribe. Don’t be put off by readers unsubscribing. It just means they weren’t a good fit for your email list. If they’re not interested and never going to buy from you, it’s better they leave so they’re not costing you money.

Problem #5: Your Emails Aren’t Getting Opened, Delivered or Clicked On

Your email service will provide a report on how each mailout went – how many people opened your email, and how many clicked a link inside it.

And low numbers could mean something is wrong.

Note: It’s normal for your list to become less responsive as it grows. Some people may have changed email addresses, no longer be interested, and so on. (Here are some typical open and clickthrough rates.)

To turn things around:

  • Make there aren’t any technical problems. If you’re concerned your emails aren’t getting delivered, contact your email service’s technical support team and ask them to look into it.
  • Try out different subject lines for your emails. While some marketers use lines such as “Hey, what’s up?” and “Need your help” to entice people to open their emails, some readers find them downright annoying. With the ProBlogger weekly email, we use “ProBloggerPLUS” at the end of each subject line to make it clear what it is.
  • Change the sender name to make it clear who you are. For instance, with my emails I’m “Darren from ProBlogger”. Don’t use a generic name or partial email address (such as “info”) as the sender name.
  • Have clear calls to action in your emails. What do you want the reader to do after reading your email? Making your CTA clear, and providing a link where appropriate, should improve your clickthrough rate.

#6: You’re Becoming Too Self-Promotional

This can be a tricky problem to recognise. Unfortunately, it’s a mistake that some bloggers do make. I’m sure you can think of at least one email list you’ve unsubscribed from because you were getting pitched one product after another.

Take a look at your emails over the past month. Do you think the balance of promotion and content is reasonable? Would you keep subscribing to your list?

If you need to tweak things:

  • Come up with a short series of emails (perhaps three) designed purely to be helpful and useful to your readers. Send these out as your next emails.
  • Run a survey to find out what your readers would like to see in your newsletter, and do your best to deliver it.
  • Create a calendar for your promotions (including any affiliate promotions). Naturally you’ll want to promote your products over the longer term. But setting out different promotions on a calendar will help you avoid constantly pitching something.

#7: You’re Too Worried About Being “Pushy”

Some bloggers go too far the other way. Instead of being overly self-promotional, they don’t even mention they have anything for sale.

While you may get an occasional reader who hates  any sort of promotional content, most readers will be happy to hear about a product or service that could help them.

If you’re struggle to promote yourself:

  • Add a short message at the end of each email highlighting one of your products. You could mention a different product each week. You don’t need to use lots of “hype”. It’s often more effective to quote a customer testimonial than to praise the product yourself.
  • Run a sale for one of your products or services. Make it an exclusive sale just for your email list. People love to feel special, and get a bargain.

The worst mistake you can make with your email list is to do nothing at all. Every established blogger has a story about screwing something up with their list – not emailing for months, accidentally sending an email to the wrong list (it happened to us), or taking weeks to notice their sign-up sequence wasn’t working correctly.

Mistakes happen. But readers are usually very forgiving.

So get moving with your email list today. And leave a comment to let us know what you’ll be doing.

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