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Aug 04

ProBlogger Training Day – Part Two

As so it continues. Here is Part Two of my notes from the ProBlogger training day I attended yesterday.  Just to save your eyes and my fingers, there will be a third post, for the last of my notes. In the meantime – enjoy!

Building Community on your blog – Darren Rowse

Building community is about good relationships, using skills which can be transferred from the real world.

Why build community on your blog? Blogs can be about providing information, but they can take on a life of their own and communities do form.  Community makes your site:

  • more useful (comments add to the content and these can be used create their own content based on this, but located elsewhere);
  • social proof makes it easier to promote your blog (comments, members, subscribers etc);
  • increased page views (in community areas rather than blog areas); makes it more valuable to sell;
  • more attractive to advertisers;
  • your community becomes an advocate (for you);
  • user generated content.

How to build community:

  • be the community you want to have – readers will take your lead;
  • invite interaction – they respond to invitations and questions – run polls, surveys etc – if no comments, answer yourself or get someone you know to answer;
  • start with your comments section, build an off-blog community elsewhere (eg. Flickr, Facebook etc);
  • add a community area (forum);
  • use social media to reinforce and build community, write in a personal and engaging tone;
  • use personal mediums (photos/video), use ‘you’ and we – write to people – direct language – we = our site;
  • reader centred posts – start with the reader;
  • offer additional ways to join or become a member;
  • social proof – highlight interaction/community/numbers to your community;
  • identify natural leaders – give jobs, train them, pay them;
  • give people space to play (off topic interactions);
  • teach the wisdom of the crowd to your community;
  • invite reader generated content;
  • set homework/projects – send them away to do something on their own and then report back;
  • give readers a chance to show off;
  • involve readers in decisions and change – can work for you or against you (survey, features they want etc);
  • be accessible.

Dealing with trolls: think about policies and standards before you need them; model good community; reward good behaviour; outline roles of moderators carefully and talk about policies, values and procedures; marginalise trolls; allow community to help you police; be firm, polite and calm with trouble makers.

How to get more comments: use your own comments section, followup commenters, ask questions, be open ended, invite questions, discussion posts, controversy/debate, highlight hot conversations make space for self promotion, ask for advice/opinions/examples/stories. (use a more button to take them to full post and comments, rather than hoping they will go to comments)

Interview with Pip from Meet me at Mike’s (craft/lifestyle blog)

Blogs are a healthy tool to help you document your interests or just your life. It’s OK to write about the human aspect, your good stuff as well as when you muck it up. Run projects through the blog, which are to benefit your community or the wider community. Retain your core values throughout. Interact on lots of different platforms – so that you can reach people and make it easier for people to reach you – don’t talk about just your own stuff, also talk about what they are interested in. Its about them as well as about you.

What she would have done differently? Label your posts properly, categorise them clearly so they readers can find them; use comment moderation or comments systems like DISQUS to protect yourself from nasty comments.

Blog monetization – Yaro Starak
It is not just about making money directly from your blog, but also because of it. 20% effort can achieve 80% results.  Yaro told us how he turned his blog  – Entrepreneurs Journey, into bucks.

Aim to get a lot of results from the least effort – 80/20 rule in general, but to begin with, blogs take a lot of effort to establish.

Ways to make money directly from blogs: advertising income, affiliate income and selling products.

Yaro sold his own advertising, as AdSense didn’t work for him. He charged a monthly rate, used a Paypal account and had different options for advertising. Uses OpenX to manage his banners and they are rotated through. Its all automated.

Affiliate income – wrote a review on a book about Google AdWords. Didn’t work initially, but then managed a sale and now earns a large part of his income through reviews. His most important move was to add an email newsletter to his blog – this made the biggest difference to his income stream. Combine email with blog posts to make the most money.

Blog Mastermind – his first online course product.  Wrote a paper on the topic, which he gave away as a free sample as a lead in to the product and has increased his readership dramatically.

All this helps you to create solid, multiple income streams and establishes you as an authority in blogging and money making. Get a product out as soon as you can.

Did some private coaching recently, only because it gave him an opportunity to investigate his market and to get some case studies. It breaks his 80/20 rule, but it gave him insight he couldn’t otherwise get. He enjoys it, but it is not the best way to leverage his time.

Panel: Yaro, Darren and Chris (Chrisg.com)
Yaro gave a rough estimate of $1 income per unique individual page view per day. Can also vary your prices according to demand. Darren said that he has negotiated with advertisers, based on what they were wanting to spend. Can also be involved in a banner networks and start with getting what the market will pay, then when you have proven performance, you can negotiate a higher price.

90% of geeks will use AdBlock, but they aren’t a big issue outside the geeks.

Email subscriptions going down? Need to have your subscribers waiting in anticipation of what’s in the email, so that they will be waiting for it. Use a commercial product for newsletter creation and subscription means. Options are AWeber, Mail Chimp, Constant Contact and others. Can get content from RSS feed or encode the content yourself.

Affiliate products – different for every industry. Yaro focuses on the ones he needs to use in this day and time.  He uses it and then does his review and recommendations – need to have some negatives otherwise people don’t quite believe it.  Use Clip Bank to get help on finding programs.  If there is not an affiliate program, you can approach the producers to establish one or something similar. Amazon runs an affiliate program and there are many more out there. Do a search on cost per action or lead generation. Be honest about making money – people will appreciate that. Legally required in US, but not in Oz yet – should disclose, because you want to honour the trust that has been place in you by your readers. Reciprocity works here too.

AIDA – attraction, interest, desire, action. Provide proof, answer objections. Think about where your traffic is coming from and then target an offer towards them (specificity). Not just about conversion rates, you need to see the action all the way through. What is the refund rate etc.

Collis Ta-eed – Case Study

Blogging industry been around 6 or 7 years, but there are still a lot of opportunities. How do you identify them? Wrote a post about freelancing, which gave him more hits than the rest of his blog posts combined. Started http://freelanceswitch.com/ – within 2 weeks he had 3000 readers – 10 times what he had on his previous blog. Had written a series of tutorials on PhotoShop which he published on a blog, which also took off and has now spun off into a new series of blogs which also provide tutorials on different topics. Another blog came out of a post which ended up on top of the Google search results for Mac Apps.

Not all opportunities are the same. Not everything they did worked. Freelance Switch worked but Work which aimed at office workers is just trudging alone. PSD/Net great success but Audio has been growing Ok and not the runaway success that its inspiration was. Mac Apps spawned Web Apps which hasn’t really moved, iyet Phone Apps which came later has worked much better in a shorter time.

Some blogs rush straight off the ground. Others are a hard slog, traffic, revenue, audience etc. No difference in the inputs, so need to figure out how to get it right.

Techniques to get it right:

  • Variations on popular – imitate but with a twist, can be successful if you get in early-ish, are good and have a sufficiently different angle;
  • Using empirical results – search rankings, popularity of posts (not just on your own blog), Adsense testing, any method where you gauge the popularity of a niche in an analytical way;
  • problems & passion – doing what you love Or solving your own problem, assumes that there are others out there like you (and there probably are);
  • using trends – pick where the market is going and bet on it, great example – Twitip! Great for technology but applicable for other areas too.

Is it really an opportunity? Not always. To find out, try some competitive analysis, empirical analysis, test the waters.

Capitalising on opportunities: Move quickly – web moves first and it takes time to gain momentum so you need to start sooner rather than later. Don’t be afraid to change – you have to give something a good solid go and back yourself but if its  not working then sometimes you have to pull the plug and concentrate on a different opportunity.

Opportunity is only the beginning: you still need to execute well, you need to create good content, you need to be consistent, you have to be better than your competitors.

So that’s it until about mid afternoon on Monday. I will post the last of my notes in a third blog post tomorrow.