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Build a Better Blog 2012 – Chapter 5 #RockYourBlog2012

2012 Blog Building

“The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible.” – Arthur C. Clarke

I’ve partnered with a group of bloggers to follow the advice from the super duper amazing guys at Problogger, to follow the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog book together – And I am SUPER excited to take on this challenge! I started my blogging journey in late February of 2011, and what a fun {and sleepless!} year it’s been so far! Now that I feel like I’ve got my feet planted pretty firmly here on my little patch of the web, I’m ready to take things up a notch. I think that the 31 days of ideas, tasks, projects, and posts is going to be pretty darn cool. To prepare for the 31 Day Challenge, we’re first doing Problogger’s Guide to Your First Week of Blogging {Click here to learn more} – and while it’s written for your first week of blogging, this is an incredibly helpful book for any blogger! If you’ve missed the beginning of the series – catch up here.

Problogger Ebook

Chapter 5 – Putting Yourself Out There

To get the full notes on this chapter of the book, read Misty’s post on CEO of Me, Inc – and I’ll share my ideas on this chapter with you here. For this chapter, it’s all about getting out there into the web. Getting to know other writers and bloggers in your niche, learn what your readers are interested in, and interacting more with others. Because really, that’s what blogging is all about.

“Link to your enemies. Link to your competitors. Link to everyone. Instead of being sticky, be linky.” –Robert Scoble

Blogging is about community – the community you build with your readers, the community you belong to in your blogging niche, and even the community of other bloggers of different types. So get to know them – I love a quote Misty mentioned, “Leaders are Readers and Earners are Learners.” Perfect.

Task 1: Sharing Your Story

Get your “My Story” post that you worked on earlier in the week posted and shared. I used that task as motivation to update my About Me page, since that had been neglected for much too long. You can use this task to set up a new About page, update your own, or just write a story sharing a little info about the face behind the blog – it’s up to you. Then, share it! Share it with your fans on social media, and ask for feedback. Ask a blogging buddy or two to take a look and offer suggestions. {Here’s my About Me – Let me know what you think in the comments!}

Task 2: Start your Pillar Content Post

By now you have a folder of great blog ideas, including plans for a series of posts on an “Evergreen” topic, that will still be relevant at this time next year. Misty has amazing tips on creating a successful blogging series. Earlier this week, I set up an editorial calendar, with themes for each month of the year – I’ll use these to help me stay organized, and plan content. I’ll be putting together a new series each month, which I’m excited about.

Task 3: Using Blog Comments to Help Create Content

This is a such a great idea! Read through the comments that people leave on your blog. Is there a question that you could answer with a post? What types of content get the most attention and interaction? And – read the comments on other blogs in your genre. Not to copy anyone, just to see what types of posts get a lot of attention for others. Your blog is unique, because YOU are unique. Never try to be someone else, or compare yourself to them. But – it can really helpful to see what is working for others, and use it to create cool new ideas to use on your site.

Task 4: Ask the audience

{This reminds me of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, lol} Choose a topic that you cover on your blog. Now ask a few questions about that topic to ask your readers, and followers on social media. Make sure that this is an open-ended question, something that requires more than a yes or no answer. Example: I recently asked my Facebook fans, “What’s the best and worst parenting advice you received as a new mom?” – It was very interesting to hear their answers, and some of those gave me ideas to write about in an upcoming series. I’m also going to start an “answer the readers” type weekly post, which will be kind of the opposite of this, but fun. I’ll ask them to come up with THEIR questions about a topic, and I’LL answer them each week on my site. Your readers are your customers – get to know them. If they’re anything like mine, they’re awesome :)

What do you think so far?

We’re almost done with this Guide to Your First Week of Blogging ebook, and I have learned so much! I love that this book centered on setting up systems, getting organized, and building a solid foundation for your blog – new or experienced, every blogger should revisit these ideas from time to time, and make sure they’re moving in the direction they want to go. We’ll soon be starting our full adventure – Problogger’s 31 Days to Build a Better Blog ebook – and you can join us! To join, just buy the ebook – {Click here to view more details} – and then link up your homepage below! After you join, send me an email, and I can invite you to our group on Facebook.  Rock Your Blog in 2012!! #RockYourBlog2012


Building a Better Blog in 2012 – Chapter 4: Understanding Your Blog as a Product

Building our blogs in 2012

“Blogging is hard because of the grind required to stay interesting and relevant.” – Sufia Tippu

I’ve partnered with a group of bloggers to follow the advice from the super duper amazing guys at Problogger, to follow the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog book together – And I am SUPER excited to take on this challenge! {Use the code FBWO33 at checkout to get $10 off!} To make sure we all have a great foundation to build on, we’re going through the Guide to Your First Week of Blogging book first – {Click here to view more details} – If you’d like to follow along with us – join the linky at the bottom of this post, and I’ll make sure to invite you into our fun Facebook group too!

Chapter 4: Understanding Your Blog as a Product

For this first series, I’m following along by using Misty’s notes, from CEO of Me, Inc. – Read her Chapter 4 notes too, if you want to get a great overview of what the book covered. After reading Misty’s notes, I realize that her and I really are so much alike – Like her, I too LOVE marketing and branding. I can already tell that this chapter is going to be a fun one….

“Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic.” – Steve Shearer

Just like a crafter is selling their handmade jewelry, or a baker is selling amazingly delicious cupcakes – You’re selling yourself, and your content. Maybe you’re not actually charging per piece, the way a crafter or a baker does. But if you want your blog to be your business, and you intend to earn an income from it, then you must think of it in a more businesslike way. The systems that have been covered in the chapters so far help set you up with a plan for your business – If you’ve been following along, you know have a checklist system to use with each post, a folder packed with creative post ideas, and an editorial calendar with scheduled posts set up. That is a great basic foundation to start building on, right?

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” – Robert Collier

To really boost your business, you need to be able to reach people. And one of the most important first impressions that people have is when reading your headlines. If someone is scrolling through their Twitter stream – What is going to make them stop and choose YOUR post to click on? Learning to write more powerful headlines is on my list of blogging to-do’s this year, and I absolutely LOVE Darren’s exercise in this video – Check it out…

“A blog is merely a tool that lets you do anything from change the world to share your shopping list.” – Unknown

Your blog content is totally unique – just like you. There really is no wrong or right – just what makes YOU excited, and what you’re passionate about. Make sure that those posts you put so much effort into creating actually get read by taking the time to learn how to write effective headlines. {And check out another cool exercise from Darren that uses magazines to help you become a better blogger.} If your blog is your product, make sure that your content is good enough to make people want to buy into it – Meaning, subscribe to your posts, follow you on social media, and become the kind of involved readers that we’re all wanting to connect with.

Planning Your Content

Ok, so now you’ve got an idea folder filled with future posts, the tools to write great headlines to help people find those posts, and a calendar for your blog all set up. Well, just like a magazine posts different types of topics, so should you. Make sure as you continue to fill your blogging calendar with scheduled posts, that you have a good mix of different types of content – Some short, some longer and more in-depth. Make sure to post about different angles of your topic – If you write about recipes, make sure you share a good mix of different types, and not 6 days in a row of dinner recipes featuring chicken – know what I mean?

“Breathe. Know that the Internet has no eraser.” – Liz Strauss

As your content improves, so will your traffic. People will begin to be drawn in by your totally compelling headlines, intrigued by the genius posts that you’ve put together – {yes, a post about your toddlers finger painting CAN be the most intriguing article ever written :)} – and will tell all of their friends that they simply MUST visit this amazing new blog that they’ve found. That’s your goal, and that’s great. But – never get to a point where you think your work is over. Continue to network with others, find new connections, meet new faces. And a great way to do this is by sharing the content of other bloggers.

So today, end this chapter by stopping by a few of your favorite blogs – if you see a post that you like, and you think your readers would be interested too, share it!

This accomplishes a few things – The blogger who see’s that you shared her link on Facebook will be flattered, and may return the favor. Your readers will appreciate that you share great content that’s relevant to them – even when it’s not your own. And maybe you’ll build a little bit of a connection to that other writer, that could lead to something cool down the road. There is a lot of negativity to be found on the web – so try to add something positive each day.

Wrapping it up

  • Want to read more about this week long challenge, and follow the chapters too? You can buy the First Week of Blogging ebook here – or for an abbreviated version, check out Misty’s notes for each chapter so far.
  • We’re almost done with this 7 day book – then we move to the real challenge – the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog book!
  • If you’d like to join our 31 day challenge, buy the ebook, and add your name to the linky below! The challenge starts on Monday, January 16th – and the more, the merrier!
  • You can read my take on each of the daily chapter challenges and task here – Build a Better Blog in 2012 Intro.

“Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers.” – Brian Clark


Building a Better Blog in 2012 – Day 2: Finding Systems and Building Presence

Building a Better Blog Series

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am very excited to be a part of a great group of bloggers as we challenge ourselves to “Build a Better Blog in 2012!” Today is Day 2 & we will be going over Chapter 2 in ProBlogger’s “Guide to your First Week of Blogging”.  I highly recommend purchasing and reading this e-book {and subscribing for email or RSS updates from too!} Click here to view more details on how to get a copy of the ProBlogger’s ebook. {And if you missed Chapter 1, read more – Build a Better Blog in 2012 Intro Post.}

Chapter 2 – Publish and Build Presence

Since I didn’t get the copy of this first book, I’m following along by using the notes on CEO of Me, Inc – So if you’d like the full run down of all of the key points from Chapter 2, read her post first. She covers everything really well – So I’ll just add some of my thoughts to the points that she covers.

Reviewing Your Posts

This is SO important. Errors happen to the best of us – and if you’re blogging full time like I am, plus keeping up with the house and family, you sometimes write posts in a rush, which leads to mistakes. But – Spelling and grammar errors make your blog look unprofessional, so do your best to avoid them! A few tips:

  • 1. Spell check! This is such a simple tool, it only takes a moment, and there is no reason not to use it. I use Google Chrome as my browser, and it has a built-in spelling and grammar check – Love that!
  • 2. Proof read. I admit, I don’t always have time for this. I sit down with an idea, and I write until I’m done. 90% of the time I go back through and read my post again, and usually find a few spots to change up – so I’m sure that mistakes are getting through on the other 10% of the time. If you can’t proof read every post – that’s ok. The most important posts to double check are the ones that are “Evergreen” content – This means, a post that won’t get outdated. A post about a sale at Macy’s = Not Evergreen. A post about tips on cleaning your kitchen = Evergreen.
  • 3. Effective closing. Make sure that you close with a call to action. This can be as simple as saying – “Like this post? Use the buttons below to share it to your favorite networks!” I guarantee you’ll see a jump in sharing, just for asking. Or close your post with an open-ended question, to encourage comments and discussion. Are you selling a product or service? Then remind them why and how to buy. Whatever you want a reader to do with the information you’re sharing – remind them of it at the end of the post.
  • 4. Set up a Post Checklist. This is great for beginners, and can even be a great activity for advanced bloggers too – Sit down and make a list of what you should be doing on every single post. After awhile, you won’t need your list – it will become a habit.

What should be in a Post Checklist?

The following are just some ideas that you can use – Add your own too, print out a list of them all, and add it to your blogging binder, planner, desktop calendar, or just pin it to the wall above your desk! {And watch for a post next week on how I set up my blogging binder to stay organized…}

  • Make sure your title is not too long, and has loads of keywords.
  • Include an image that’s relevant and high quality.
  • Spell check!
  • Does your closing encourage interaction and sharing?
  • Did you cross link to other related content on your site, if possible?
  • SEO – are you optimizing your post to be found in search engines? {Hint, get a Plug-in like Yoast for WP!}
  • Are you adding the right categories and tags to each post?
  • And are you sharing posts to social media?

Building a Presence on the Web

The more addresses you have on the web, the more likely people are to find you. Some people ask – “Why should I get a Twitter account? I already share everything to Facebook – can’t they check it out there?” But it’s important to remember that everyone has a favorite network, make sure your readers can follow you where THEY want to follow you! Here are a few places where you can find me – some networks I’ve had for a long time, and have built a large fan base. Some are brand new, with few followers. Some of them I use daily, and some I have only used a couple of times. A goal for 2012 is to get them all built into fun communities, where I can interact with some new faces. If you’d like to join me, I’d love to “meet” you too!

  • Facebook – My favorite social media site!
  • Twitter – I’m new to Twitter {8 months} – and finally “get” it.
  • LinkedIn – Great networking site.
  • Google+ – I’m excited to see what happens here.
  • Pinterest – I am a total Pinterest junkie – LOVE it!
  • YouTube – Very new, but video reviews will be rolling out in February!
  • Tumblr – Brand new, and ready to have some fun setting it up.

Closing Notes – Day 2

The main lesson of Chapter 2 is to get into good habits, and find systems that will work for you. {I talked a little about how to stay organized in yesterdays post too – Building a Better Blog Day 1} Setting up some great systems will make you MORE efficient, and make you LESS stressed. My big goal for this month is to take on very few new projects, so that I can really get organized again, set very ambitious goals for the new year – with monthly steps to achieve them! – and find some new systems, apps, sites, and gadgets to help me work smarter – so that I actually have time to live a life worth blogging about! Lol.

What do YOU Think?

What are your biggest challenges to staying organized in your blogging? What solutions have you found that work best for you? Share them in the comments – they might be just what another reader has been looking for!

We’re starting the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Challenge next week! If you’d like to join us, just purchase the book from ProBlogger so you can follow along {Click here to view more details} and then add your link below!