Did you know that when you are writing a post for your blog, one of the most important parts is the headline?
The blog headline or title is the first thing that people read and it is what they consider when they are deciding whether or not to click through to the blog post and read the rest of it. Catchy headlines will bring more people to your blog so that you can sell more of your products or services, get your message out to a wider audience or get more traffic so that you can sell advertising.
The headline sums up everything that the blog post is about and should be creative, concise and captivating. A boring, confusing or otherwise poorly written headline can prevent people from clicking on your blog posts and discovering your content. Read More
For most bloggers out there, making even a few dollars seems like an elusive dream. But nothing really beats the feeling of seeing that first cheque from Adsense or getting your first commission payment from Amazon, not matter how small. And small is how most blogs will start, unless you’ve invested heavily in full time staff and a huge marketing campaign from the start then you are going to need to build your audience slowly and surely by delivering a regular flow of high quality and engaging content.
But what do you do when your blog, whether you started it with aspirations to quit your day job or simply as a hobby or passion project, does start to pay you a few pence here and there? It could be paying its own way by covering your hosting costs, or bringing in a bit more pocket money. Read More
Technology has become both friend and foe to journalists. In many ways, it has made life easier for them: it has allowed them to work almost up to a deadline and then electronically send pictures and articles straight to their editors from any place in the world. It has also made it much easier to connect and communicate with sources and to research material for an article.
On the other hand, technology has also been the reason why so many magazines and newspapers have been dying a slow death in recent years. Nowadays, the public can get their news almost as it happens via Internet websites or social media sites. In addition, the advertising dollars that once made print media profitable have dried up and migrated to other outlets. Even the classified advertising dollars that once brought in appreciated revenue have dried up now that sites such as Craigslist offer the same type of service for free. Read More
Have you just started to create a presence on the World Wide Web? Or have you been online for some time, but are currently trying to increase your site’s page rank and organic traffic? Designing and building an eye-catching website is the easy part; getting potential clients and customers to find you and your business, while essential, can be much more challenging. One issue may be that you do show up on search engines, but below some of your competitors. This can hurt your business tremendously, so staying on top of this type of data is vital.
BrandYourself.com takes the guesswork out of determining how your site ranks and how easy it is to find online. It uses a simplified set of analytics tools to help you determine your online prominence and traffic. BrandYourself’s tools help you tweak your business as necessary to boost its online prominence without having to first wade through excessively complex analytics data. Read More
Today is an experiment.
And whether you like it or not, you’re already a part of it.
It’s a bold statement, I know. Maybe too bold. After the dust has settled, it’ll either be a celebration… or a bloodbath.
I’m willing to take that chance.
And why not? Launches are all about taking chances… and this post outlines a simple formula for launching, well, anything.
Over the past 90 days my wife and I have planned – with NASA like precision – the launch of our new site. We’ve boiled everything down into five simple steps, which you can use for your next launch.
Prepare for lift off… Read More
Facebook recently introduced a massive change for its members’ personal profiles through Facebook Timeline. According to Facebook, Timeline allows people to tell their “life story” in a more streamlined, easy to read manner by allowing users to highlight certain memorable posts and share their musings, photos and the various events in their lives to their friends.
Probably the most conspicuous addition to Facebook Timeline is the Cover, that huge space at the top of your personal profile where you can put a photo. Facebook says that you can put an image that best represents you as a person. This means that it is a place that you can personalize to your heart’s content. Read More
What does a typical day in your life look like, technology-wise? Perhaps you find yourself waking up each morning feeling as if you simply must check your Facebook and email. And then maybe you decide to send a wake-up message into the Twitterverseâ€¦but not before looking at your Myspace account (just in case). After which you spend various moments throughout the day consulting your chosen Smartphone in order to check these social networks, again and again.
Well, youâ€™re not alone. It comes as a surprise to no one that online social networks have taken over many aspects of our day-to-day lives. A reported one-sixth of the planet is on Facebook, Twitter currently has about 175 million users â€“ and most of us can count ourselves among these numbers. People are absolutely addicted to social networking, no doubt about it. So, the question is: are these online social networks healthy or harmful to our overall well-being and happiness? 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.
On the Internet, nothing happens in a vacuum. Your site, your traffic and your readers are being constantly impacted and affected by things that are going on elsewhere. If Google makes a change to their algorithm, for example, this can have a drastic impact on your traffic and the type of readers you get.
Likewise, what your readers are looking for and talking about will, inevitably, be affected by what other sites are discussing and what they’re seeing elsewhere.
The simple truth is that you don’t have a single reader who only views your site and nothing else on the Web. Everyone on the Web is reading other sites, emailing, IMing, using social networking and participating in the Web in countless other ways.
Because of this, you can’t try to make your site stand alone or treat it as if it’s the only place your readers need to be. Your readers’ interests are both varied and deep and, short of having the entire Library of Congress on your site, there’s no way you can be all things to them.
As such, the best thing you can do is not try and, instead, try to take advantage of this natural ebb and flow of the Web by using it as a means to both make your site more useful to your readers and, perhaps more importantly, gain even more traffic.
No site is an island unto itself and, even if it could be, it’s unlikely that you’d even want it that way. Read More