A Blogger’s Blue Print – Chapter 1



Comment!

Search for and visit sites and forums with topics that you are interested in. Read the posts, and make thoughtful, sincere comments. Of course put your name and site address in the comment form. This “puts you out there,” gets you exposure and drives traffic to your site. The better the comment, the more traffic. It’s a win win. You’re adding valuable content to another’s site, learning more information about your topic and in return getting a link back(more link juice) and at least some more direct traffic. Join Disqus. Giving your comments a social edge. This will make your commenting more effective, socialized, and it will archive them, putting you out there even more. Read all of the other comments. Any interesting ones? Visit their website and check them out. You may find an additional source of information and inspiration. Good Karma to have them perhaps visit you. *An added benefit: If your comment is bringing up an additional angle and happens to be a particularly long comment, you have the makings of an automatic new blog post to boot. The more blog posts you have equals incrementally more Page Rank which inevitably leads to more traffic.

Blog Posting

What are you really, really interested in, especially at this moment? Don’t worry about SEO, or will it make money. That’s editorial stuff that you can come back to later, but first you’ve got to get the lyrical part of your soul out first before you bring the editorial part in (copywriting, SEO, monetization strategies, etc.) You put those latter things first and it might work, but you won’t be happy, and it won’t be worth it. Let’s start with small baby steps first. What is the one thing you would like to do right now for the next hour, next two hours, whole morning or afternoon? Sure there’s things you need to do, and you make a list or read a book about getting organized and you do them, but in a relaxed way. The things you need to do, however small or insignificant they seem, can make terrific blog posts. You can turn problems into opportunities. For instance, let’s say you have a problem. (The more specific the better) You’ve searched and searched Google and found no easy or direct solution, but since it must be done, you do manage to find a way to figure it out, and you can explain it more clearly and simply than others. Bingo! You’ve just found an opportunity to help others, and you are also solving your own problem in a more creative, productive way. People will relate to you more than the experts who know what to do, but speak a lingo no one understands, or for whatever reason want to toy and withhold the information. And that builds trust as well. “Make a virtue out of necessity,” as Shakespeare said. So yes, the things you need to do, you must do, and the more of a challenge they are, the more of an opportunity they can be to find a better way and for you to express that better way to the world.

But back to what you want to do. After the needs have been met, surely you can find a couple hours a day for yourself? Like golf? Shoot some video of yourself during your next round. Who knows, you might just hit a hole in one! Thank that shot caught on video might not make the rounds on Youtube? New media shouldn’t be a distraction. It should be a new way of expressing yourself, and it can be a psychological tool really. Think about it. Got a guilt complex about doing the things you want to do? New media gives you a channel, a focus, to make doing what you like, important. It’s a long tail that will make that little complex crumble. and that’s a great mixture. Relax. Take some breaths. What one little thing, and I don’t care what it is (shopping? ladies there are a lot of men out there starving for an education on how to shop well!) lowers your blood pressure for a few hours, relaxes you (cooking, reading, working out, meditating, hunting or fishing?) These topics have audiences out there just begging for a fresh voice that will educate, entertain, and inspire them. And doing the things you love to do will inspire you too. The Google bots are being tuned for fresher, newer, different takes on the every day things we do in life. Really, Google and the other services of their ilke are working on the Search & Engine part of the equation. The Optimization comes out of your natural exuberance. All that silicon is just begging for a real, natural, spontaneous experience, and the deepest part of you is too. It gives us all a chance to inspire and be inspired, to fulfill and be fulfilled. So the best step is to step away from that computer (unless its computers your really interested in) and do what really inspires you. Theirs an audience for that, but find the thing that you most want to do even if there wasn’t.

How to Find Something To Blog About

“Everything important always begins from something trivial.” – Donald Hall, Poet Laureate of the U.S. 2006

*Update 10/27/09 This is probably already in there or at least the sense of it is, but it was like today I had nothing to write about or at least that I was interested in. And I told myself, “Don’t force it, let it come naturally.” So that would be my message: Don’t force it, but do keep in the back of your mind that any and everything you do has the potential to be a blog post. I’ve seen some great one paragraph posts. Look at this one for instance. Just a little piece of news that he was repeating. But it was timely and relevant to his topic, and he was interested in the news. I don’t know if it went viral or not, but I heard about it on twitter, considered the information valuable and signed up to receive email updates from his blog. So I know it got some sizable audience. So one idea is that you can even repeat a piece of news, especially if its timely and you are interested in it. Interest creates energy, so that your likely to add your own additional content or “take” on the news to your post as well. When all else fails you can simply copy and paste another blog post or news story as your post, as long as you are really interested in the subject and/or it’s related to your site. Of course give full credit to the origin and a link as well. An example is what I did here. I’m highly interested in the story and also it’s relevant part of my business (I’m Re-Selling Rackspace Cloud Sites). I wouldn’t do it too often. I think I’ve done it twice here on my  blog out of about a hundred posts, but it is another option.

*Update 10/22/09

Commenting as Sources for Posts

Here’s an additional tip I just thought of while I was commenting on someone else’s blog. I personally don’t comment that often, so it’s usually something I’m very interested in, so when I do comment, my comments tend to be long, almost like blog posts themselves. So, whenever you comment on something that you’re very interested in, consider making that comment, maybe with a little editing and copywriting, a blogpost. It may contain useful information that’s helpful to someone.

___________________________________________________________

So you want to blog every day, or at least every other day, to keep you content fresh, and to grow your traffic. But just put that into your subconscious mind and see how it reacts! Slave mentality! You’ll end up not blogging at all!

Here’s a tip. Don’t think about blogging. Do something that interests you, whether that’s reading a book, watching a video, playing a game, whatever. Whatever interests you. Follow the thin gold string of your interest, your bliss. A lot of the time when I’m reading or watching something I’m interested in, it’ll spark a relevant thought in my head that I want to write about. Maybe its just something I want to remind myself of.

Don’t worry so much about what your interested in as a whole, like that thing you always here from self helpers, “What’s your passion in life?” Whoa! That’s too big of an emotional chunk for your subconscious to bite off. You’ll put that one off for days, weeks, years, forever. Instead, just ask yourself “What am I interested right now this moment?” It doesn’t have to be some big topic. It can be anything: I want to read this book or blog. I want to watch this podcast or TV show. I want to go play golf. I want to learn how to use this new computer program. I want to go see this movie. Relax. The motif in fairy tales of the rider letting loose of the reins and allowing his horse to decide where to go symbolizes the Ego relaxing and letting the soul be spontaneous.

So just follow your small interest at the moment. It will likely spark a thought that will lead to a blog post. And what’s more, following your small interests will naturally start to open doors where you didn’t know doors existed before, to quote Joseph Campbell. You’re small interests at the moment will likely coalesce into a larger shaped picture. When Einstein was young he followed his small interest in what it would be like to travel on a beam of light. That small interest lead to perhaps the most important scientific theory in history, Relativity.

Let me give you an example. Yesterday, I had absolutely nothing to write about. I had read twitter, listened to some podcasts, but nothing really sparked my interest. I had gotten kind of burned out on some of these topics. I had basically given up on the idea that I would post anything that day. What did that do? It let go of the reins of the horse in my mind. So I was sitting around and I had the small interest in posting one of my existing articles on Digg, just to see how it worked. Instead of posting on Digg, it lead me to searching for Kevin Rose and then to a video of him on an episode of Wine Library TV with Gary V. I wasn’t interested in wine, but I was interested in watching Gary and Kevin do their schtick. It was entertaining. Then one wine in particular caught my attention. So I wrote a small blog post about it simply with the interest of remembering it for myself, nothing else. And once I started writing about it, I had fun writing and inserting the photos (I like messing with photos, its just fun for me).

Now that particular post may not get any traffic to speak of, but you know some of my posts that have gotten the most traffic have come from just such spontaneous impulses.

One of my most popular posts, “How to Make a Transparent Myspace Page” came just that way. I was sitting around and just had the spontaneous interest in fiddling around with my page to make it look better. I just wanted to do something for fun. I found another blog post that taught me how to do just that. And it inspired me to write my own post, so that I could remember it and have it in my own archives in case that page ever went down or I couldn’t find again for some reason. And also because I thought others might have the same interest. That’s a key point:

Whatever interest you have at the moment, however small or insignificant if may seem, there’s bound to be others who have that same interest and are looking for more information about it.

If all of my posts had as much traffic as that one post, my daily traffic would go up 50 times I think.

Another point is that writing is a process of self discovery. Quite to the opposite, writing isn’t about telling people something. Writing is about learning and unexpectedly creating something you didn’t know that you knew because in the process of fun, the power of the subconscious mind is freed.

So to boil the tip down into one statement I’d say:

Don’t worry about blogging today. Even to the point of accepting that you aren’t. Then ask yourself, “What do I feel like doing right now?” Follow that interest of the moment. Ironically without you intending it, it’s very likely a blog post will spontaneously come out of the experience.

What do you think? I would love to hear from you.


Increase Visitor Length Time on Your Blog

The end of the latest Copyblogger post. All five links to "related articles" are to other stories on their blog

So, I’ve been reading Copyblogger lately and I highly suggest that you do too if you are interested in blogging professionally, and one thing I noticed that they do: At the end of their posts they usually have 4 or 5 Related article links, and I know that’s nothing new, but the key is they link to related articles that are on their blog.

So underneath all of your posts try to increase the number of related post links that link back to posts within your own blog.

Now, depending on your topic, whether you are extremely focused like an exacto blade on one subject like Copyblogger is, or whether you have many topics like I do, this will be easier or harder to do. Of course anyone consulting someone on building a profitable blog would definitely encourage you to focus on one topic, but in my case, here I am. I have a number of interests, and I like to blog about them at different times. Maybe I’ll start to focus more in the future, but for now, here I am.

So for someone like me this will be a gradual project, but it will be beneficial for a number of reasons:

  1. I’ll be revisiting older posts in my blog, and it’ll encourage me to research and write more posts within that category
  2. It’ll encourage me to read the current related posts on other blogs and learn more about the topic which will increase my knowledge and interest.
  3. I can curate and iterate the older posts to make them better

Now, this is more of an art than science. If  there is a really good blog post from another site that is very relevant to your topic, you don’t want to delete that link in favor of one of your posts that may be less relevant or not as good. That would be depriving your readership and decreasing the value of your blog. But it will encourage you to read that other post and learn more from it and maybe even inspire you to write another post of your own based on your new knowledge and insight. Also this process can help your headline copywriting. For instance for this post, I can think of two other posts I’ve written related to blogging. The current headlines of the other two posts are “1 Minute Tips: Enable Easy Contact” which I’m going to change to “One Easy Step to Distinguish Your Blog’s Authenticity” and “JS-Kit: A New Opportunity for Blogging Success” which I’m going to change to “The Best Commenting Engine for Your Blog.” Can you see why I’m doing this? Since I’m putting them in related links it forces me to rethink the titles and make them more interesting and inviting. Also these headlines are more of general interest than the older specific ones, making them more searchable.

Note, this whole process, gradual and stress free, will get you interested again in curating your blog, adding value for your readership because the links that you do leave in there will gradually be of higher value and your knowledge on the topic will grow, increasing the number of post ideas you have, and making them more valuable as well.

Hope this little tip helps you and invigorates your interest in your blogs.

What do you think about this technique? Am I right, am I wrong? Do you have better ideas? Love to hear what you think.

Related Articles:

  1. An Easy Step to Increase Your Blog’s Authenticity
  2. The Best Commenting Engine for Your Blog
  3. The No. #1 Skill Needed To Become a Successful Blogger
  4. Customize Your WordPress Page Tab Links
  5. Contact Stephen

*Tip: Screen Capture on a Mac: Command+Shift+3 for whole screen or Command+Shift+4 for a portion like I did above to capture that small shot from Copyblogger.

An Easy Step to Increase Your Blog’s Authenticity

Don’t you like information that’s simple, effective and that you can put to use right away? I thought so. Me too.

Here’s one: Put your contact information clearly on the front page of your blog.

Notice how Guy Kawasaki notes that most bloggers don’t! I said, “What?” And then I realized, although I have a “Contact” page, mine wasn’t either. But now it is.

Listen to Louis Gray talk about here in this video. It’s about a minute in.