I’m just back from Social Media Club Melbourne, where 3 professional Melbourne-based bloggers shared their tips on how to build a successful blog:
- Duncan Riley (@DuncanRiley) - Founder of The Blog Herald (which sold in 2006 for an undisclosed sum [reported to be US$72,000]), Co-Founder of B5 media, and Founder of Inquisitr - a news site that receives nearly 6,000,000 pageviews per month, and 40,000 unique visitors per day. (!!!)
- Darren Rowse (aka @ProBlogger) - The mega-blogger being ProBlogger.net, wellspring of wisdom and inspiration to millions of bloggers, and a regular source of blogging tips to 350,000 subscribers worldwide. And;
- Pip Lincolne (aka @meetmeatmikes) - Craft blogger, author and retailer - and the creative streak behind Meet Me At Mike’s.
…A nice cross-section of the blogosphere spectrum.
(Also in the mix was Master of Ceremonies Yvonne Adele - who I remember as “Ms Megabyte” from television and news media around 1999-2001.)
Below are my notes from the event - they’re the tips I found most interesting, the ideas I wanted to share with others, and the thoughts I had myself while listening.
On Making Money With Blogs and Blogging Success:
After blogging every day for 8 years, you gather a following and a lot of experience about what works and what doesn’t.
It’s important to blog consistently
Started simple. Tried different things. Kept tweaking until things worked.
“Since starting, we’ve posted 22,000 blog posts.”
Write content that people will want to pass on to and share with their friends. e.g. “50 ways to…”
A lot of bloggers, when they begin, say “I’ll try this out for 2 years to see if it works.” Dunan Riley took a more aggressive approach. “I have 6 months to make money out of this.”
[Reminds me of the difference between an Amateur and a Pro in "The War of Art" by Stephen Pressfield - Brent]
On Multi-Person Blogging and Sharing the Load:
You’re just one view. If you’re the only voice on the blog, you only get one view on any topic.
By inviting others to guest post, you get a range of views…
You may still need to edit their posts, but you become an editor and publisher rather than a content producer.
Hire bloggers to guest post. 4-10 writers blogging weekly can help you develop a lot of content. (10 writers x 1 post per week x 52 weeks per year = 520 posts.)
Approach people who are already blogging on a topic, and invite them to post for you. [guest poster, hire for ghostwriting, or to give themselves free exposure]
On Targeting Your Blog Audience:
Develop a reader profile: Find a photo of a person who you believe represents your target market.
Who are they? What do they do? What are their needs?
But, most importantly, where are they hanging out online?
Once you know where they are hanging out (Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, a particular niche forum or site, particular blogs, etc) develop a presence there.
On Video Blogging (Vlogging):
Personal video increases engagement with your readers. Particularly women, who may be lurking but not leaving comments.
After Darren Rowse began posting videos to his blog [some showing his children] a woman ran up to him at a conference and hugged him. “I feel like I know you!”
It’s great to have engaged fans, but remember to also be mindful and protective - especially when involving your children.
A short video can take just as long to produce - or even longer - than a quality [text] blog post. [Especially if you're wearing lipstick.]
Transcribe videos you produce, and make the transcriptions available. Not only does this have SEO benefits [more search-engine-readable content], it also suits people with different learning styles. [Kinesthetic, auditory or visual]
On Blogging Ethics:
When your site becomes large enough, you’ll be sent / offered products to review - for free. Don’t promote just because someone sends you a free product.
You can sell your soul, but you can’t buy it back.
On Growing your Blog Following:
GET THE OPT-IN!
Darren Rowse uses a [somewhat] invasive popup on the first visit, inviting the user to opt in to receive weekly newsletter.
This has given him 350,000 email subscribers, in addition to his 100,000 RSS subscribers;
It’s led to a lot of repeat traffic;
And it means he can launch a product and be practically guaranteed of making good sales!
Facebook “Like” buttons created a substantial increase in traffic for Duncan Riley’s site Inquisitr.com - boosting its readership from XX unique pageviews per month to XX uniques.
Develop an understanding of marketing, SEO, etc. Blogging is about more than just producing content. Just because you’ve built it, doesn’t mean they will come.
On Being Master Of Your Domain:
Invest in a domain name on Day 1. Don’t start on Wordpress.com / Blogger.
A lot of bloggers moved away from blogging, and onto Facebook / Twitter. This is a mistake because they are relying on these services to continue to be popular / available / accessible. [Think what might have happened if the site you started 2, 5, 10 years ago was relying on MySpace or Geocities for traffic today!]
BH: Don’t let “tech” get in your way. BlogSetup.us will install a blog for you for free. (Use Domain Samurai [free domain search tool software] to find a good domain name for your site, and then register it through BlogSetup.us.)
Don’t assume your blog won’t be big / successful. This was a mistake I made. As a result, I have no categories on my blog. - Pip
Start something. You don’t have to be an expert to begin.
If you’re interested in attending the Social Media Club Melbourne events, check out http://socialmediaclubmelbourne.com/
For more tips on blogging, check out the #SMCmelb Twitter hashtag.
Edit: @CathKing also shared her notes from the event here. What I like about her notes (apart from the fact that they were written on an iPad) is her perspective - we were both at the same event, but Cath’s notes are very different to mine.