ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income by Darren Rowse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A solid guide to creating and promoting blog content. It's aimed at writers who want to make a living through blogging, but most of the advice applies to anyone blogging for business purposes, such as for online marketing. It was published in 2008, so some technical specifics are dated, but the principles remain relevant. The author runs ProBlogger, one of the most popular blogs on blogging and web copywriting.
I read this to improve my own blogging, and to improve how we use our blog for content marketing. Because of the way we use our blog, I skimmed the parts about earning directly from blogging. My notes follow.
Examples of useful content: entertainment, education, info, debate, news, community.
A picture at top of post gets people reading.
Make main point(s) clearly in first few sentences; don't bury in conclusion.
- Simple: short (under 40 characters), easy to understand
- Grab attention: use shock, claims, controversy, confusion
- Meet a need: how to, tutorials, problem-solving
- Describe: tell readers what they'll get
- Keywords: put keywords near beginning
Opening lines should pique interest and curiosity, highlight need, show benefit of reading, and/or promise to entertain, inform, teach, offer value.
Posts should be long enough to comprehensively cover topic, and no longer. Experts recommend 250 to 1000 words.
Rowse posts minimum of once per weekday on his blogs.
20 types of posts
- Instructional: tips, tutorials, problem-solving
- Informational: definition, explanation
- Lists: top 10 ways, 7 reasons why, 5 favorite, 53 mistakes, etc.
- Case studies
- Profiles: research and present a person of interest
- Link posts: link to quality external post and give commentary
- "Problem" posts: similar to review, but focus on negatives of product or service
- Comparisons: compare products, services, approaches
- Inspirational: motivate with success story or vision of what could be
- Collation: research what others have said about a topic, tie together everyone's ideas with some of your own comments to draw out common themes
- Prediction and review: year ahead, year in review, etc.
- Critique: constructive critiques of people, products, companies
- Debate: between two people, between you and all others, between yourself
- Hypothetical: pick something that could happen in your industry in future, unpack implications
- Satirical: satire, parody, humor
- Memes and projects: poll, award, competition, survey, quiz
- A series of posts gives readers a reason to come back and makes writing easier for you.
- Pick a topic that's teaching-oriented, practical, connects to a real need readers have.
- Rowse posts a Monday through Friday series at least monthly.
- Start series with intro post that tells what's coming and highlights need being addressed.
- Interlink posts by linking to each from intro post, and linking each post to intro post.
- Finish series with summary of main points and invite readers to tell you what you missed.
- Invite comments
- Ask questions
- Be open-ended
- Be humble: share weaknesses, failures, knowledge gaps
- Be controversial
Blog Promotion and Marketing
Have "flagship" content that attracts people: a resource or reference that's remarkable and worth talking about.
Build foundation of evergreen "pillar" content; usually tutorial-style posts of 500+ words that teach something useful, with lots of practical tips or advice. Must have long-term appeal.
- Quizzes: quizzes, surveys, personality tests (e.g., which Star Wars character are you?)
- Scoop: be first with news or to try something new
- List: top X
- Stats: do survey and release results
- Interviews: interview someone popular in niche
- Resources: ultimate resource or reference
Creating Something Worthwhile
Creating useful content
- Add value. When sharing news, tell readers what you think, tell how it applies, make a prediction.
- Ask questions.
- Mine feedback. Write posts that answer questions you get in comments, inbox, etc.
- Tell your story. Put yourself in posts. Talk about how you learned what you're talking about. Give examples, be humorous, express emotion.
- Entertainment. Be humorous, intriguing, fun, surprising, playful. Include pictures, audio, video.
- Inform. Write how-to, tips, "intro to" posts.
- Build community. Build personal connections with readers. Ask questions, answer questions, welcome discussion.
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