Archive for August, 2011
It might seem like a good problem to have. Most bloggers toil in anonymity or near-anonymity, struggling to get their sites read and find more exposure for their works.
However, those few who do “make it” often don’t fare much better. Those who achieve even a small amount of fame online often find that being known can be just as bad, if not worse, as being an unknown.
Even someone, such as myself, who achieves a tiny amount of fame in a very small niche quickly learns that any notoriety comes with a slew of responsibility and, at times, headaches.
So, before you set on the path of trying to become a famous or semi-famous blogger, you may want to take a moment and look at some of the drawbacks and problems that come with it.
Fortunately though, most of those problems can be easily mitigated, but one has to be ready for them in order to stop them from ruining everything they’ve worked on. Read More
After some careful consideration and meditation, youâ€™ve decided to join the bandwagon of thousands and launch your blog. Youâ€™ve taken the time to come up with a catchy name, figured out your focus, and even picked a design that feels as fierce as your personality! Congratulations.
Now, thereâ€™s just one problem confronting you—one that befuddles many bloggers.
How will you get the word out and get folks to read it on the regular?
Especially when you consider that having a bodacious blog that nobody knows about or reads, is the equivalent of throwing a great party where nobody shows up. Read More
As James recently pointed out, owning your domain name is crucial for establishing your identity online and building your brand.
However, with using your own domain name comes a new headache, DNS.
Though working with DNS may not be the biggest challenge that a blogger will face, especially if they register their domain from a good company, it is something that can be a nightmare when and if it goes wrong.
Simply put, without a properly working DNS, your site, your email (if hosted on your domain) and anything else you run off of your site will stop working. Even worse, DNS problems can often be very elusive and, in many cases, can take hours or even days to fully resolve.
As such, it’s well worth understanding what DNS is and what some of the more common sticking points with it are.
A little education on the front end can save you serious headaches later. Read More
If you blog or are an aspiring professional blogger, then you are or will be building your public reputation completely online. Unless you choose to remain anonymous or use an alter-ego, then central to your web-based reputation will be your real name. Go ahead and see for yourself; type your name into Google and see what pops up. If your name isn’t too common, then chances are the first few results will be your very own social networking profiles and anything else about you that’s floating out there on the Internet. But if there are other people online with your name that net more hits per search, then you might have your online reputation management work cut out for you. Read More
Are you a new blogger looking to find the perfect tools to keep in your blogging toolbox? Or maybe youâ€™re a seasoned blogging professional just looking to see if thereâ€™s anything you have missed. If so, then this post is for you.
Evernote is basically an online notepad â€“ it allows you to, as you may have guessed make notes. Donâ€™t be fooled into thinking thatâ€™s it though â€“ the beauty of Evernote means that you can use it anywhere as everything is synchronised online. Meaning you can make notes on your iPhone, and when you log onto your laptop â€“ theyâ€™re right there for you to read or add to. Itâ€™s a great tool for idea generation. The fact its ultra compatible with practically any device you can think of means it’s a must have in the toolbox.
Google Keyword Tool and Insights for Search
The google keyword tool Google Keyword Tool and Google insights for search are must have tools for any blogger – they allow you to spot ideas – and make sure you write content that’s going to attract traffic. Have a hunch that searches for “Google Places Optimisation” are on the rise – check it in google insights, then have a look in the keyword tool and see what other related searches are around. Then get writing! Read More
Bloggers, traditionally, love being on the cutting edge when it comes to the tools they use. Whether it’s blogging platforms, themes, plugins, social networks, or even mobile devices, if it’s more than a few years old, it can feel trite and dated.
But while this desire is understandable, especially considering that much of the Web’s momentum is built upon this constant progress, it can cause bloggers (and others) to abandon perfectly functional technologies that are still more than useful.
A good example of this problem is email.
While some bloggers are battling email overload, others are abandoning email altogether, or at least shifting their focus away from it.
This, however, can be a huge mistake. Though email may be decades old, it remains a driving force very much at the heart of the Internet. Though, for you personally, email’s functionality might have been replaced by other systems, the Internet as a whole has not moved away from it.
Despite the glamor and appeal of social media and the talk of email killers, email is just as strong as ever and, as such, it deserves to be a prominent focus for you and your site. Ignore or devalue email at your own risk. Read More
If a reader checks out your about page, it usually means one of two things. They either like your blogging and want to learn more about who you are or they are seeing if you are interesting enough to start reading in the first place.
Regardless of which motive brought them to the page, you want to be sure to do a killer job of talking about how awesome you are and why they should keep coming back to read your blog posts. If you only spend five minutes and throw up a paragraph of text and an email address, you are costing yourself readers, traffic and much more.
The most important message to convey through an about page is communicating who you are. It sounds simple, but properly telling your story requires a bit of work. Don’t write a few boring paragraphs about your background in whatever industry you blog about. People want to know interesting things about you. What is your day job? What’s your favorite drink? What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you? Put some personality into the page and let people know you are a living, breathing person. Read More
Whether you love or hate Apple products, there is no doubting their success, both in terms of their general reputation and in sheer dollars.
However, that success has not been due to market research. Steve Jobs has repeatedly quipped that Apple never performs any market research nor hires consultants. In that regard, he joins Henry Ford who famously (allegedly) said, “If I asked my customers what they want, they simply would have said a faster horse.”
So, while James’ excellent column earlier this week on opinion polls is correct that asking your readers what they want is important, it’s also important to take what they have to say with a grain of salt.
Simply put, your readers probably know what they want, at least to a certain degree, but they likely have little idea as to what they actually need. However, it’s your job as a blogger to give them the latter because giving someone what they need is exactly what makes them the most loyal and long-term readers possible.
So how do you give your readers what they need without ignoring their opinions? That is a much more difficult question to answer.
To be clear, as James said, user opinion can be incredibly valuable. However, it has a very serious limitation, it is almost always backwards-looking.
The only thing you readers can do is take a look at what you have done currently and then find ways that they think you could improve upon it or ways you can add to it.
While that can be very useful, they aren’t going to see any departures from the norm that might be wise or even necessary. For example, if you run a blog that focuses on reviewing headphones, you readers might recommend that you do a review of a certain brand or maybe focus on cheaper/more expensive models, but they probably won’t propose a guide on how headphones work, something that could be very useful to your audience and help you expand your readership.
Another problem is that readers will, generally, only suggest things that are to their benefit, often ignoring your needs and the needs of the site. For example, readers might complain or even protest the use of ads on your site, ignoring that, without those ads, the site couldn’t exist.
What this means is that, while it is critical to know what your readers want, it’s important to remember where that desire is coming from and that those wants may not always be practical or even what is truly in their best interest.
Simply put, sometimes you to ignore and go against the wishes of your readers, the trick is to know when.
How to Avoid It
None of this is to say that you shouldn’t take opinion polls or ask your readers what they want. That is still very important and both Steve Jobs and Henry Ford are extremists in this area. That is an approach that can bite you easily as the iPhone copy and paste debacle showed.
Still, you can’t trust your readers, no matter how astute they are, to know everything they want or need, especially what they will want or need in a few months time. As Steve Jobs said, “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”
You have to be the one to look farther down the road and to make the big decisions about the direction your site is going to take.
To do that, you have to put yourself in your reader’s shoes. To accomplish that, you need to know who they are. So, instead of or in addition to asking them what they want, ask your who they are. Get all of the pertinent information you can including their age, education level, general tastes, viewpoints, etc. and from that try to imagine yourself as them as they visit your site.
From that perspective, you need to look at what they need or truly want. What does someone like that need that they might not know they need until they get it?
Going back to the aforementioned headphone review site. If you took a poll of your readers and learned that they were primarily music buffs and not engineers or scientists, you would quickly glean that they likely had almost no understanding of how headphones worked and that such knowledge might help them make smarter decisions down the road.
Your readers might not know that they don’t know or might not realize that they need to, but once you provide the info, they’ll quickly see how valuable it is.
In short, what you need to do is try to understand your readers needs and wants better than they understand themselves. It’s not hard to do with an outside perspective, but you have to look past the answers on a survey to do it.
In the end, your job as the owner of a site is to be looking forward and trying to be ahead of your readers’ needs, not behind them. This can be tough, especially if you only go by what readers say they want, but that is exactly how you build a loyal and devoted readership.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t take opinion polls from time to time. As James mentioned, they teach you about your audience, help your readers feel engaged with the site, can give you some great ideas and even point out some holes that you need to fill before moving forward.
Opinion polls are a necessary part of the equation, however, using them is not as simple as compiling a list of their suggestions and implementing them one after another. The goal is to take that information and those suggestions and construct something even greater.
While that requires a lot more thinking and a great deal more work, if you can do it, you’ll have a site that, like some of the better companies out there, are able to anticipate user needs, meet them and grow because of it.
That, in turh, is how you go from having a “good” blog to have a “great” one.
Allowing people to contribute to your blog is a great way for you to establish that you are serious about what they think. There are a lot of different ways that you can allow people to contribute to your blog, and one of the best ways would be by using opinion polls.
A lot of people would never even consider this option because they feel it has no value. I am going to prove that notion wrong in this article by talking about exactly how opinion polls can be used to help increase the readership of your blog, along with the quality of your content.
How Do Opinion Polls Help?
Many times when people create content they create it with the goal of teaching the reader something or to have their blog rank well. When you go to a website you are looking to be either educated or entertained by the content that is there. If the content does that then you like it and you are satisfied by it, but I am sure you have had times where you wished you could tell the website owner directly about some suggestions you might have.
Opinion polls on your blog allows for you to let readers tell YOU on how helpful your website really is along with your content. When you are able to study the information you collect from the polls you create inquiring about the helpfulness of your content you will be able to create content that is better and more enjoyable to read.
Find Out What THEY WANT Using Opinion Polls
Opinion polls can also be used to find out what users are looking for when they visit your site. Even though it might seem evident to you at first, sometimes your readers leave your site earlier then you might like because you are not giving them what they want. If you provided them with more of what they want and less of what they donâ€™t want then you will be able to hold them on your blog much longer.
You can setup opinion polls that will ask readers directly what they want from your blog and are they getting it. If you find they are not then you can make the necessary changes. Read More
Popups: A single word that drives both fear and anger into the hearts of nearly all web surfers.
The Web is filled with stories about embarrassing popups loading in the background, annoying, never ending popup loops and, more recently, overlays and other annoying tools that obstruct and restrict access to the desired content.
Popups are annoying but they are also extremely common and, despite technology to block most of them, they are becoming much more common. However, the time has come for bloggers to put a stop to this, to fight back against popups and other visitor annoyances. Read More