Saturday, 28 February 2015

Where Do You Go From Here?

Today is the last day of the month and I'm finishing up my series on blogging.  I have learned a lot by doing this series.  I feel like I have breathed new life into my blog.  I've maintained a successful blog for almost four years.  Where do I go from here?

Why not use my blog as a launching pad for a book, an e-book or a podcast?

How Do You Blog a Book?

Many writers have turned their blogs into books.  I've already mentioned Julie Powell who blogged about cooking the recipes in Julia child's cookbook which launched the book 524 Recipes, 365 Days and One Tiny Apartment Kitchen.  An astounding 42,000 copies of the book sold just in one week after the movie Julie & Julia debuted.

A lesser known example is that of a travel blogger Cain9ine's New York (http://www.blurb.ca/books/cain9ine-s-new-york-blog) who turned his blog into a successful book.  His book includes a plethora of breathtaking photos of landmarks liek Notre Dame Basicilica in Montreal and the sand dunes in the Arizona desert.  On his road trip, he samples local fare, including photos in his book.  His titles are catchy:  "The way of the Mouse" about his trip to Disney World; "Happy Fourth of July" in Washington D.C. and "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" in Boston.

Another example of a blog turned book is (www.blurb.ca/books/french-word-a-day).  Each day, the reader learns a new French word or phrase, accompanied by a story and photos ex. Le Chien Perdu, Le Papillon or Mener a la Baguette.

How About an E-Book?

According to one writer, as of November 2013, Amazon started selling more E-books than print books on its website.  Check out the website "3 Easy Ways to Convert Your Blog into an E-book" at http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/3-easy-ways-turn-blog-ebook-free/.  Another website promises "How to (Really) Make 1, 000, 000 selling E-Books" at http://fourhourworkweek.com/2013/04/04/how-to-make-1000000-selling-e-books-tactics-and-case-studies/.  You can also check out the book Publishing E-Books for Dummies by Ali Luke at http://www.amazon.ca/Publishing-E-Books-For-Dummies-Luke/dp/1118342909.

How About a Podcast?

How do you turn a blog into a podcast?  Visit the site www.ispeech.org/convertblog.  According to www.evernote.com, here are two of the Best of 2014 podcasts.  Check out "The Tim Ferriss Show" http://fourhourworkweek.com/podcast/ the number one business podcast on iTunes.  Another successful podcast is "Atomic Moms" twitter.com/atomicmoms, a parenting podcast.

That's all I have to say about blogging.  Thank you for sharing this journey with me.  I've enjoyed blogging about blogging.  I'll meet you in the blogosphere.


Friday, 27 February 2015

Ten Tips to Making Money at Blogging

According to  Kristin Piombino, 81% of bloggers never make more than $100 at blogging.  However, 8% of bloggers make enough money at blogging to support a family.  Another 9% make enough money to sustain their lifestyle while blogging 4 to 6 hours a day.  The remaining 2% spend 1 to 2 hours a day blogging from exotic locations, taking in a salary of $150,000 or more a year.  See http://www.ragan.com/Main/Articles/Infographic_81_percent_of_bloggers_never_make_100_45309.aspx for an infographic on blogging.

In other words, you can make good money at blogging.  However, the overwhelming majority of bloggers either make little or no money at blogging.  If you have a substantial number of page views each day, and you blog regularly, you might be able to make a modest amount of money at it.  If you sign up for a monetization program, and at the same time try other ways to make money from your blog, you will increase your revenue.

According to David Risley, here are ten ways to make money from blogging;

1.  Membership Programs

You can provide quality content for free on your blog.  Then you can offer a premium level program, which offers more information, for a small fee.

2.  Information Products

Offer information on your blog including e-books, audio and videos.  When you author the products, you get to keep 100% of the profits.  Orphan Train ranks #10 in Amazon's top selling e-books for 2014 (http://www.amazon.com/Orphan-Train-Christina-Baker-Kline-ebook/dp/B0089LOG02/ref=zg_bsar_154606011_10).

3.  Services/Consulting/Coaching

Build your reputation and brand through your blog; then offer your services offline.  "Influx Insights" (http://influxinsights.com/#) is ranked #4 on Google's Top 50 Consulting Blogs.

4.  Speaking Jobs

Become known as an expert in your niche.  Start offering your speaking services through your blog ex. Chris Brogan http://chrisbrogan.com/

5.  Product Sales

Are you an artist?  Sell your paintings in an online store.  Blog about them to build a following. Irina's Paints ranks number 17 in Google's list of Top Art Blogs (http://www.irinapaints.com/).

6.  Affiliate Programs

Offer products of others on your blog.  Get part of their profits when your readers buy them.  I signed up for an affiliate program with sheilawraygregoire.com.

7.  Direct Ad Sales

Provide a banner or in text ads on your blog for a company's product.  If you sell the ads directly, you get more money in your pocket.

8.  Banner Advertising

Sell network ads through programs like Adsense (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AdSense), Kontera (https://publishers.kontera.com/) , IDG (http://www.idg.com/) or Tribal Fusion (http://exponential.com/marketing-services/audience-engagement-solutions/tribal-fusion/) .

9.  Review products

Review products on your blog through Pay Per Post https://www.payperpost.com/ or Review Me.  Here are some recommendations from "The Work at Home Wife" (http://theworkathomewife.com/piece-blog-monetization-puzzle-youre-missing/).

10.  Job Boards

Connect to job boards through ProBlogger (http://www.problogger.net/).

For more information, read http://www.blogmarketingacademy.com/top-10-blog-monetization-strategies-ranked/.










Thursday, 26 February 2015

Fake It Till You Make It

American psychologist William James in his work "The Gospel of Relaxation" (www.uky.edu/~eushe2/Pajares/jgospel.html) said that not only can emotions drive our actions, but our actions can drive our emotions.  In other words, if you act differently, you will feel differently.  For example, if you're struggling with self-doubt, act confidently and eventually you will feel confident.

Can we translate this to the written word?  Is this theory something that bloggers can make use of?
According to D. Matriccino of Writer's Digest, it is (http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules/fun/fake-it-til-you-make-it).  Mr. Matriccino says that it's a neuroplasticity thing.  If you keep telling yourself that you are an expert, that you are a professional, sooner or later your brain will believe it.  As Mohammed Ali, the great boxer, once said:  "To be a great champion, you must believe you are the best.  If you're not, pretend you are."  According to Mr. Matriccino, sooner or later, you won't be pretending.

On the other hand, blogger Jeffrey Davis of Tracking Wonder, (http://www.productiveflourishing.com/confidence-make-it-dont-fake-it/) thinks the "fake it till you make it" theory isn't all it's cracked up to be.  Why not?

People do tend to be charmed by charisma.  Some consider it a way to compensate for incompetence and to overcome self-doubt.  However, according to Jeffrey Davis:  "Because faking it gets rewarded so often, we put more emphasis on learning to project confidence than on acquiring actual competence."

Jeffrey goes on to say that the "fake it till you make it" strategy is a result of the mistaken belief that humility equals weakness.  People in turn try to ooze confidence to convince others that they know what they're talking about.  In fact, it's vogue to hack education, to hack business and to hack mastery.  Everybody's an expert in their field.

However, the "fake it till you make it" advice is short sighted.  You can't be someone you're not.  The strategy diminishes merit and hard work.  Remember, there is no substitute for experience.  So, if you're a brand new blogger, come clean, admit it.  Yes, you won't come off as an expert.  But at the same time, you will be genuine.  And your readers will appreciate your candour.

Blogger Darrell Vesterfelt (http://goinswriter.com/fake-it/) agrees.  In the world of business, people feel a tremendous pressure to perform.  The blogosphere is no different.  As a new blogger, Darrell tried to pass himself off as a professional.  However, he only told his readers half the story:  he left out the part about sleeping on a futon in his friend's guestroom.  He was an impostor.

Furthermore, using the "fake it till you make it" strategy, Darrell lost sight of two important things in his writing. Firstly, he forgot about the message; he focussed on what others wanted him to say rather than what he wanted to say.  He neglected telling the weaknesses about his story.  "The irony is our weaknesses are what make our messages believable, because they are what make us, as storytellers and communicators, relatable and reliable."  Readers want to read a blog that is reliable.  See my post about consistency at http://alinefromlinda.blogspot.ca/2015/02/consistency-is-key-to-blogging-success.html.

Secondly, Darrell lost sight of his craft.  He wasted so much time and energy on faking it that he had none left for legitimate writing and for real growth.  In fact, he stopped writing on a daily basis, he stopped reading resources and he stopped inviting critiques of his work.  Darrell reminds us that if we can't write, we can't share our message.  "Don't lose your message because you're concerned with developping a persona."

Yes, confidence is important to writers.  However, you want to acquire it the right way.  Turn the saying around:  "Make it, Don't Fake It".  Then you'll feel that you've earned it.






http://herscoop.com/files/2013/08/mtzX6Dt.jpg




Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The Blog Post: Rogue, Crash Test Dummy, or Tell All?

Will Hoekenga, at Leadpages, has written an informative post about ten different types of blogs (blog.leadpages.net/types-of-blogs/).  Here is the condensed version of Will Hoekenga's post.

What type of blog do you write?  Here are the ten main types:

1.  Rogue

The first type involves telling others your opinion.  It often polarizes a subject, making you choose sides.  One benefit of this blog is you get things off your chest.  One drawback is that you invite negative comments from your readers.  To write such a blog, you need lots of passion, knowledge and experience.  A good example of a Rogue blog is Viperchill (http://www.viperchill.com/).

2.  Guest Host

By guest host, I mean you invite people to create guest posts for your blog (not to be confused with guest posting, when you write for someone else's blog).  Will Hoekenga gives the example of KISSmetrics which built a 400,000 visitor per month blog mainly using guest authors.

The benefits of using a guest host are you save time writing and your guest author can help with the promotion of your blog.  The drawbacks are that you need a substantial following to start attracting guest hosts.  Also, it requires time and energy to woo the right guest bloggers.

Will Hoekenga gives the example of OkDork.com, which has shared guest posts from famous bloggers like Garret Moon:  "We Analyzed Nearly 1 Million Headlines.  Here's What We Learned" (http://okdork.com/2014/07/22/we-analyzed-nearly-1-million-headlines-heres-what-we-learned/) and Buzz Sumo "Why Content Goes Viral:  What Analyzing 100 Million Articles Taught Us" https://twitter.com/buzzsumo/status/526754023257698304.

3.  Crash Test Dummy

Pat Flynn of SmartPassiveIncome (www.smartpassiveincome.com/category/podcast/) coined the phrase Crash Test Dummy in blogging.  IN this type of blog, writers test strategies, techniques and tools, sharing what works and what doesn't.  It's a detailed how-to article.  The drawbacks of this type are that you need consistent results, you need to chronicle not only your successes but also your failures, it takes weeks or even months to create and you may in the end help your competitors.  Willo Hoekenga recommends visuals like screenshots, charts and GIFs.  The formula is as follows:  a step by step process + results + teaching.

4.  The Niche

The benefits of the niche are its narrow focus, you can easily define your readers and you transform your passion into your business.  The drawbacks are that it is limiting and you need to constantly find new ideas.  An example of the niche is Stephanie Le's I Am a Food Blog (http://iamafoodblog.com/) which contains "drool-worthy pictures", a clean layout, simple formatted recipes and good writing, according to Mr. Hoekenga.

5.  The Giver

The Giver blog offers free bonus content.  The benefits of this type are that you collect e-mail opt-ins, you delier more value and you have better content creation.  The drawbacks are that you sepnd added time on preparing gifts and you need content upgrades relevant to the post.  Here is how it works. You write a post about a certain topic.  Then you offer free downloadable content about that post in subsequent posts in the form of an infographic , PDF checklist, etc.  You can use a LeadBox to link any text, button or image in your post to a popup window.  Bryan Harris' Videofruit blog (http://videofruit.com/) is a good example of the Giver.

6.  The Guide

This blog type goes hand in hand with personal development, life coaching and spirituality.  The positives of this blog are the personal connection that can develop between the blogger and the reader, the potential for personal growth and the fulfilling feeling of helping others.  The negative aspects of the blog are the fact that it's an overpopulated category, you're dealing with a sensitive, delicate topics. Here a a good example of a Guide blog post "How to Believe in Yourself:  Pursuing Happiness When It's Already Within You" (http://zenhabits.net/pursuing-happiness/).

When writing this type of blog, give readers a way to continue the conversation ex. include an action checklist.  Don't neglect to share your own journey.  Be honest and transparent.  Empower your readers to solve their own problems.

7.  The Homer

The poet Homer, who wrote The Iliad, was known for his long, narrative verse; his poems were the length of books.  Therefore, Homer blog posts are long -- 2,500 words or more.  The blogger starts at Point A and weaves his way to a very different Point B.  Statistics show that longer articles get more shares.  If the post is 1,000 to 2,000 words long, it will get an average of 6,000 shares.  If the post is 2,000 to 3,000 words long, it will get on average 7,500 shares.  Once the post length is over 3,000 words, the number of shares does not go up as dramatically.  While you want to lengthen your post, don't pad it.  Make sure your information is valuable and worthwhile.  Check out JohnnyBTruant (http://johnnybtruant.com/) to read a Homer-type post.

8.  The Tell-All

Will Hoekenga asks:  "Have you ever walked to the top of the mountain and through the valley of the shadow of death?"  If so, you might be a candidate for the Tell-All Blog.  You have learned our lessons the hard way.  Your posts are shockingly revealing and yet highly valuable.  Readers relate because you have walked in their shoes.

The positives of this blog type are that you get to show lots of personality, you have the potential of building a strong brand and the results can be compelling.  The negatives are that crazy experiences are a prerequisite, you need a lot of creativity and narration in your post, and you can't leave anything out -- include every juicy detail.  As James Altucher, at The Altucher Confidential, (http://www.jamesaltucher.com/) explains:  "For some reason I've turned myself inside out and all my guts have spilled into my blog."

When I think of a Tell-All book, I think of The Sixteenth Round written by Rubin "The Hurricane" Carter (http://alinefromlinda.blogspot.ca/2011/05/power-of-pen.html).  Here's a man who was imprisoned for a murder he did not commit, as the result of a racially motivated verdict.  While in prison, he sat down at his typewriter and poured out his soul on the page. He left nothing out.  He laid his heart bare.  The pages oozed raw emotion.  He guarded that manuscript with his life.  While his autobiography was published, he had a brief time in the spotlight and then people forgot about him.  But about ten years later, a young Brooklyn boy read his book. He shared it with his lawyer friends who took on his cause and within three years, the Hurricane was released!  It's a great story of the power of the pen.  So, when you write your Tell-All blog, be like "The Hurricane" -- and your readers will eat it up.

9.  The Personal Brand

Seek to be an expert in your field.  Use your name on your URL and Facebook page.  If you present yourself as an expert, people will more likely:

-ask you to be a consultant
-book you as a speaker
-invite you to guest post
-hire you

The positives about The Personal Brand type are that you position yourself as a speaker and you increase your name recognition.  The negatives are that you must be comfortable in the spotlight and sometimes you have to treat yourself like a product or commodity. A good example of a Personal Brand blog is Marie Forleo's (http://www.marieforleo.com/).According to Will Hoekenga, she has mega personality.  While she is a good writer, her bread and butter is in her MarieTV and helpful how-to's and interviews.

Here is Will's suggested formula for a personal brand blog post:  struggle/failure + strategy/technique you've created + tools to achieve results + personal stance on divisive issue 

10.  The Enterprise

This type of blog is built for a company like Buffer, Hotspot or Coca-Cola.  It consists of a team of writers who write content for customers where they learn more about a company's product.  The positives are:  it's a good marketing strategy, it can bring revenue to the company. Negatives are that it takes a lot of time to find trustworthy writers.  Ideally, you want to convert readers to customers. See Leadpages for a good example (http://blog.leadpages.net/).

Choose One Dominant Type

Which blogger type are you?  Will Hoekenga says that while you may touch upon more than one of these types of blogs, it is important to have a dominant type of post.  This helps show consistency in your blogging.  For more about consistency see http://alinefromlinda.blogspot.ca/2015/02/consistency-is-key-to-blogging-success.html.




Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Consistency is Key to Blogging Success

"Decide to be consistent and then do it.  There will always be fires to put out."  (Garret Moon)



People buy products from businesses they know, like and trust.  The same is true of a blog.  Readers read blogs that they know, like and trust (http://todaymade.com/blog/writing-a-great-blog/).

One way to build your audience's trust is through consistency.  According to Robert B. Cialdini, author of Influence:  The Psychology of Persuasion, inconsistent people are seen as "fickle, unstable, uncertain and scatterbrained" whereas consistent people are seen as "assured, trustworthy and sound" (http://www.amazon.ca/Influence-Psychology-Persuasion-Robert-Cialdini/dp/006124189X ).  Build your credibility by blogging consistently.

Be consistent in purpose.  Why did you start your blog?  Be true to your original motivation.  If you are all over the map, blogging about everything under the sun, you won't develop a loyal following. Consistency helps you stick to your purpose (http://www.annettapowell.com/consistency-blog-success/).

Be consistent in layout.  Don't keep changing your theme, colours and font.  If you want to develop a following, readers need to be able to recognize your site.  They will be more comfortable with the familiar.

Be consistent in posting.  Garret Moon recommends that if you own a personal blog, you should post about three times a week; if you own a business blog, post five to seven times a week, especially in a competitive field (http://todaymade.com/blog/writing-a-great-blog/).  There are some blogs which only post once a week that are very successful. However, the more you post, chances are the more page views you get.  

Remember that practice makes perfect.  The more you post, the more proficient your writing will become.  Google loves sites with frequent and fresh content.  It's not just your readers who follow you, but also the robots working for Google (and Yahoo).  If you run a business blog and would like to become a niche leader, you have no choice but to post regularly and frequently (https://wineryconsulting.wordpress.com/2008/07/21/are-you-a-niche-leader/) .  Garret Moon says that consistency can help you become a subject matter expert.  That doesn't mean that you know more than anyone else on the subject -- far from it.  But it does mean that you know more than the average Joe.    

Furthermore, frequent posting can lead to more writing.  You can use your blog as a jumping off spot for an e-book, a book or a podcast.  In 2002, Julie Powell blogged about testing all of the recipes in Julia Child's cookbook.  The blog developped a huge following, led to a book deal, Julie & Julia:  365 Days, 524 recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, and a movie
(http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13747.Julie_and_Julia).












Monday, 23 February 2015

Ten Tips to Writing Irresistibly Clickable Blog Headlines

"In a world full of noise, how do you get people to actually read what you write?" (Jeff Goins)



According to blogger Jeff Goins, the headline is the most neglected part of a blog post (http://goinswriter.com/catchy-headlines/).  The headline introduces the post and should therefore grab the reader's interest, make the reader want to read more.  According to copyblogger, while 8 out of 10 people read the headline, only 2 out of 10 people read the body of the post (http://www.copyblogger.com/magnetic-headlines/).

Here are ten tips to writing irresistibly clickable headlines that will grab the interest of your readers:

1.  Include a number in your headline.  

As Jeff Goins points out, if you stand in line at the grocery store, notice how many magazines have numbers in their headlines.  See https://blog.bufferapp.com/headline-strategies-psychology.

2.  Include interesting adjectives in your headline.

Use adjectives like effortless, painstaking, free, incredible, absolute, strange to pique the interest of your readers.  Visit http://www.blogussion.com/favorites/45-better-blog-headlines/ for examples.

3.  Answer the questions what, why, when or how.

Give your readers an idea of what the blog post or article is about.  Again, make them want to read more.

4.  Make an audacious promise.

Promise to unlock an ancient mystery like the makers of the Cadbury commercial did (How do they get the caramel in the caramilk bar?).  Get your readers to try something they've never tried before. As Jeff Goins says, "dare the reader to read your article".

5.  Use keywords for SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Read my post about the importance of keywords at http://alinefromlinda.blogspot.ca/2015/02/keyword-search-is-key-to-blogging.html.  Other bloggers seem to agree that using keywords in blog headlines is a good idea.  However, don't overuse them, making your title awkward.  Ideally, according to Brain Clark of Copyblogger, if your headline is 10 words in length, use two keywords.

6.  Avoid symbols like &, @, # or < >.

These symbols are difficult for web browsers to translate which confuses readers.

7.  Let the passion in.

If your blog headline conveys passion, chances are that your post will too.  

8.  Keep the headline an ideal length.

According to Kevan Lee, the ideal length for a headline is six words https://blog.bufferapp.com/optimal-length-social-media.  However, according to Outbrain, the ideal length should be more than eight words, ideally 12 to 18 words.

9.  Be specific, not generic.  

10.  Here is Jeff Goin's formula for the perfect blog headline:

# or trigger word + adjective + keyword + promise

"How to Bath an Elephant" vs. "18 Unbelievable Ways You can Bath an Elephant Indoors"

"Sell your House in a Day" vs. "How You Can Effortlessly Sell Your Home in Less Than 24 Hours"






Sunday, 22 February 2015

Finding Your Blog's Voice

"Stay true to yourself and your voice.  People don't care to follow sites so much as they care to follow people." (Chris Pirillo, LockerGnome)



Jeff Goins maintains that your voice is "the most important, yet overlooked part, of blogging." People aren't concerned so much about what you say, but how you say it. (https://blog.bufferapp.com/blogging-advice-for-beginners-from-16-experts

When you are starting a blog, it is tempting to conform to what other bloggers are writing.  You don't want to be judged, you don't want to stick your neck out.  But resist the temptation to blend in.  Find your own voice and own it.  As blogger Derek Halpern points out:  "What blends in gets forgotten. What stands out gets remembered."  (http://socialtriggers.com/find-your-voice/)  You want to be remembered.  You want to stand out in the crowd.  

If you want ideas on how to find your voice, read Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott (http://www.amazon.ca/Bird-Some-Instructions-Writing-Life/dp/0385480016).  Sally Hogshead also writes about voice in her book How the World Sees You (http://www.amazon.ca/How-The-World-Sees-You/dp/0062230697).  

Be forewarned:  Finding your own voice takes work.  As blogger Scott Berkun points out, great authors like Ray Bradbury or John Updike didn't just wake up one day and write a bestseller.  Group of Seven Painter Jackson Pollock didn't just create a masterpiece overnight.  It took him years to develop his "all-over style" of painting.  Scott Berkun adds:  "All makers require long, disciplined hours to develop their talents." (http://scottberkun.com/2012/how-to-find-your-voice/)

Scott also points out that there exists a gap at first between your ambitions and your abilities vis a vis your craft.  Many writers or artists have a hard time putting up with their own mediocrity (especially perfectionists).  Many quit in the first year or two.  But if you keep at it, you will reach a point where that gap will start to close.  According to Ira Glass in This American Life:  "Do a huge volume of work...and the work you make will be as good as your ambitions." (http://www.thisamericanlife.org/)

In the meantime, enjoy the process.  Don't always focus on the product.  Take delight in your progress, no matter how small.  And remember the words of the great jazz trumpet player, Miles Davis:  "You have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself."