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The post 277: The Secret to Building a Better Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

31 Days to Build a Better Blog

Today’s the day to sign up for our 31 Days to Build a Better Blog course.

Why? Well, it’s 50% off for a limited time. And if you register by the end of February you’ll get to be a part of our 31-day guided sprint in March.

While the course has evolved, it remains the #1 reason most blogs become successful. But you need to consistently take action to implement what you learn.  

The four pillars of blogging are actions and habits you should develop to grow and profit from your blog.
  1. Create great content
  2. Promote your content
  3. Enhance your relationships with your readers
  4. Monetize your blog
Each day of the course you’ll be taught practical things to do for your blog, including:
  • Setting objectives and goals
  • Creating an editorial calendar
  • Developing social media and email strategies
  • Creating pillar content
  • Optimizing for SEO
  • Identifying and understanding your audience
  • Strengthening reader engagement

You don’t have to take the course to become an action-oriented blogger. But if you need help and want to give your blog a burst of love to get it back on track, feel free to join us.

Links and Resources for The Secret to Building a Better Blog: Courses

Join our Facebook group.

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view

Hey there and welcome to episode 277 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the founder of ProBlogger, which is a site for bloggers and prebloggers designed to help them to start and grow profitable blogs. You can learn more about ProBlogger and all we do over at problogger.com.

In today’s episode number 277, we’re going to talk a little bit of our secret of growing your blog. In fact, I think it’s the number one way to grow a blog and this ties into a promotion that we’ve got on at the moment on our 31 Days To Build A Better Blog course. I know many of you have gone through our Start A Blog course over the last couple of months and to continue the good work that you’ve done, we’ve decided to make 31 Days To Build A Better Blog 50% off for the next week or so until the end of February.

Also in the month of March, we’re going to sprint through it. We are doing it as a group where we can support you and get bloggers interacting together. I’ll tell you a little bit more about that later in the episode. But if you do want to check out 31 Days To Build A Better Blog and grab it at 50% off, head over at problogger.com/31days. You can also find it through our courses tab over at problogger.com and in today’s show notes.

Let’s get into today’s show where I do want to talk about the number one thing that is going to help you to grow your blog. In preparation for our 31 day sprint, I want to talk about why we had so much success with the 31 day program. I want to talk about the reason that they’ve been built into that course that I’ve seen help many bloggers over the years and I’ve seen help me as well.

Over the years, I think it was back in 2007, I started 31 Days To Build A Better Blog and it’s been in many forms since then. In fact, I’ve counted seven different ways we’ve presented this program. Originally, it started off as a series of blog posts in I think it was in 2006–2007, and then I did that same series that evolved that every time, three times on the blog. It was completely for free. It was just a series of blog posts. At the end of the third series, I turned it into an ebook and then I updated the ebook into a second version. I think second version came out in 2012. Later on, I did it again on the podcast for free and then more recently, we’ve turned it into a course in the last year or so.

There’ve been these seven different versions of 31 Days To Build A Better Blog and every time we changed the medium, we’ve also updated it to make it more relevant, to add more teaching, to get rid of bits that aren’t relevant for today and add in new pieces of information as well.

Those of you who’ve done one of those early versions will find that the course we have today is quite different. But there’s one thing that hasn’t changed and it is, in my opinion, the number one reason that successful blogs become successful. The one thing that hasn’t changed in the course and that the number one thing that I think is behind most successful blogs, if not all successful blogs, is that it’s all about action.

A lot of people come to ProBlogger looking for teaching, for information. They want to learn how to do something, or they want to see a review of a product or tool, or they want to hear about the latest strategy, or they want to hear a story to inspire them. Information. Most of our content is focused around these things, but information and teaching and story-telling isn’t the reason that successful blogs grow. It’s part of it, but most successful bloggers can’t build a blog based upon just information.

Blogs grow when you take action. Blogs grow when you develop good habits as a blogger. What habits, what action do you need to develop? Well, I’ll give it to you for free. You don’t have to do the course. Most of the actions that you need to take as a blogger focus around four main areas. You’ve heard me talk about these before. They’re the pillars of blogging that we talk about. Creating great content is number one. Number two is promoting that content. Number three, deepening relationships with your readers. And number four is monetizing your blog.

These four things is the accumulation of action in these four areas that are going to help to grow your blog and if you want to become profitable, to become more profitable as well. Let me just say them again. Number one, create great content. Number two, promote that content. Number three, deepening relationships with your readers, building community. And number four, monetizing your blog if monetizing is a goal for you.

Now, this isn’t rocket science. Most of us instinctively know this stuff when we start our blog. On day one, we need to create content. That’s what makes it a blog. We know that no one’s going to see that content if we don’t tell them about it so we know instinctively we need to promote, even if it’s to our friends. Number three, we know that we need to engage with those readers. They’re much more likely to come back again the next day. If I feel like we noticed them, if we’ve engaged them in some way. We know we can’t make money unless we do something to monetize our blogs.

So we know instinctively these four things that we need to do yet so often as bloggers we let these basic things slide and we get distracted by other things. One of the times we get distracted is by the search for information or the secret strategies and we actually don’t take action in these four things. This is why 31 Days To Build A Better Blog has been so popular over the years and why every time we offer it we get so many people thanking us for it.

Now, you don’t need to do the course to become an action-orientated blogger. But if you need some help at the moment to get yourself going and you want to give your blog an intense burst of love and get it back on track perhaps, I do invite you to join us over this next 31 days.

31 Days To Build A Better Blog isn’t just a teaching course. There’s certainly teaching in it but more importantly, it’s a course that takes you through a series of challenges to do, 31 challenges to do. Each day you get a little bit of teaching. There’s a video, some audio, some worksheets that help you to learn, but more importantly, everyday you get at least one thing that you can go away and do.

We try to give you more than one thing on some days because I know some of you are beginners, some of you are in the first month of blogging, and some of you are a little bit more advanced. You’ll see some days there’s something there that you could do for the first time or if you’ve been doing that thing already, it gives you some ideas for things that you can do to improve what you’ve done as well. The idea is that you take at least 31 pieces of action by the end of this month.

Most of the things that we talk about are actually habits that you can grow and if you take these actions over and over again, you’re blog will grow. At the end of the 31 days, you have set some objectives and goals for your blog, and important actions. Something that you should be really revisiting from time to time. It’s a habit you should get into. By the end of the 31 days, you have created an editorial calendar for your blog. Again, that is something that you need to do on a regular basis.

You’ve created a social media and email strategy for your blog. You’ve created pillar content for your blog. You’ve gotten your blog optimized for search engine optimization. You’ve identified and dug in to try and understand your readers better. You’ve learnt some techniques for coming out with new post ideas and you’ve actually come up with and generated ideas for you blog. You’ve promoted your blog in a variety of ways and found some new readers. You’ve deepen the engagement with its current rate. You’ve explored opportunities for monetizing your blog and you’ve clarified some next steps to build your blogging business.

That’s just some of what you will do during this course. Whether you do it or not, you can actually just take that list of things, go away, do them, and build them into your rhythm. There’s so many more things. I don’t have time to go through it today, but the key thing I want to get across today is that if you want to build a successful blog, these are the types of actions that you need to be taking.

Again, most of the things we cover in the course fit into the four pillars I talked about before, creating content, promoting your blog, building community and engagement, and monetizing your blog. There’s not as much on monetization but there’s certainly a couple of days that focus on it. The other three pillars are the main focus of this. Monetization really does come as a result of building your readership, building up your archives, and creating engagement with your readers as well.

Normally, our course is something that people enroll. They normally pay US$99 to do and they normally go through it individually but as I said at the top of the show, over the month of March, we’re going to do it as a group and we’re calling it our sprint. Normally, we say to people, “Take your time. Go through it at your own pace. You can do it over 31 weeks. You can do it over 31 months if you want. But we are going to provide a 31 day sprint for you.” That may mean that you only sort of dip into some of the activities or you may even skip over some of them over that month because it is a fairly intense month, but you get this course forever and you can come back to and repeat some of those activities as you like.

The reason we want to do it as a sprint is something we discovered really early on. That was in the first series of blog post that I did is that when bloggers go through this type of experience together, it almost supercharges the whole experience. We want to tap into that. When bloggers get together, they share what they’ve done, they show each other examples of what they’ve done, they get to ask each other questions, they get to actually go and look at what each other have done, they get to encourage each other. This really gives you energy as a blogger and can provide a lot of inspiration, and a lot of other ideas as well.

The other reason that we want to do it as a sprint together is that it’s going to help us as a team to guide you through the process a little bit more and to be involved in that process with you. Normally, we don’t have a lot of opportunity to answer your questions along the way. Over the 31 days, we are going to do more of that in this version of the course. We are doing some regular live videos, we’ll do some regular chats, and sort of ‘ask me anything’ type sessions in a small Facebook group that we’ve set up for the 31 Days To Build A Better Blog challenge. If you are interested in giving your blog that intense burst of love over the month of March, I encourage you to enroll in 31 Days To Build A Better Blog. Again, you can find it at problogger.com/31days.

The other thing I’ll say is if the month of March is too hard for you and you don’t think it’s realistic for you to go through that whole process in 31 days, that’s totally fine. You can still grab the course at 50% off. We’re offering it for US$49 up until the end of February. You can grab it and go through it at your own pace. This is a limited time offer. It ends at the end of February so we can go through it together. I encourage you to take action on that. Go to problogger.com/31days or just head to problogger.com, look for the courses tab at the top, and you will see our two courses there, our free Start A Blog course and 31 Days To Build A Better Blog.

I should also say that 31 Days To Build A Better Blog is designed for people who already have a blog. If you don’t have a blog yet, go back and do the Start A Blog course. It’s always available there. It’s always free. You might want to grab the 31 Days while it’s 50% off and then do that as a second course. We have designed 31 Days To Build A Better Blog for those of you in your first month of blogging, but as I also said earlier, we also include extension kind of challenges as well for those of you who’ve been blogging for a while.

We actually find a lot of the people who get the most benefit out of this course are in their first month or they’re bloggers who want to give their blog a reboot. They want to give it that extra boost to get things going, which is something I know a lot of you will probably be feeling this time of year. Whether you do the course or not is totally up to you. I’ll put it out there.

If it’s not the right time for you, that’s totally fine, but I do challenge you to take action on your blog. Action around creating great content. Action around promoting your blog, getting word out there, getting off your blog and promoting it. Action around deepening the engagement that you have with your readers. And action around monetizing your blog. It is the accumulation of action. It’s the good habits you develop in these four areas that I think build a successful blog.

Thanks for listening. You can find today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/277. Chat with you next week on the ProBlogger podcast.

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The post 277: The Secret to Building a Better Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

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The post 276: How to Start a Successful Podcast appeared first on ProBlogger.

Learn How to Start a Successful Podcast

Do you already have a blog, and want to expand into another medium? Then why not start a podcast?

A lot of our Facegroup members have asked questions about starting a podcast, especially about gear, content, engagement, hosting, launching and monetization.

And to help me answer all those questions I called on an expert.

Craig Hewitt is the founder of Podcast Motor and Castos. When Craig started his own podcast, he quickly discovered that audio editing and producing a podcast was a pain. So he started Podcast Motor to help others.

The technicalities of podcasting almost stopped me from starting the ProBlogger podcast. That’s why I turned to Craig and his team to handle them.

Craig shares the nuts and bolts of podcasting:
  • Reach existing audience in a different way, or reach an entirely new audience.
  • Establish a dedicated hosting platform to store and distribute your media files.
  • Differentiate yourself to develop a brand and identity (i.e. your accent).
  • Start a podcast with everything you need for less than $100.
  • Be comfortable with speaking, and assemble enough content to talk about.
  • Identify and prepare guests to be on your podcast.
  • Create an intro by recording it yourself or outsourcing it to a voiceover artist.
  • Find a room without flat walls and hard spaces to eliminates echoes. (Try a closet).
  • Edit audio to match your style (buttoned-up, conversational, etc.)
  • Put your podcast on Android and Apple platforms, including Apple Podcast (formerly iTunes), Google Podcast, Stitcher, Spotify, and YouTube.
  • Get and grow your audience by getting your podcast listed in search engines. Ask listeners to subscribe, submit a rating/review, and share with others.
  • Record five episodes before launching. Then launch with two episodes, plus or minus an Episode 0 that offers a description of what listeners can expect from your podcast.
  • Engage your listeners by using a call to action through a link in the podcast audio, or continue a podcast discussion and connect with audience via a Facebook group.
  • Metrics don’t really matter. Instead, review popularity, downloads and listening duration.
We covered a lot in this episode, but to get all the details you need to successfully start a podcast sign up for Craig’s free course, Launch In A Week:
  1. Podcasting Microphone and Gear
  2. Audio Recording and Editing
  3. Your Ideal Listener and Podcast Personas
  4. The Perfect Podcast Recipe
  5. Media Host and Website Setup
  6. Getting Your Show Ready to Launch
  7. Launch Planning and Growing Your Audience
Links and Resources for How to Start a Successful Podcast: Examples of How to Start a Successful Podcast: Courses

Join our Facebook group.

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view

Darren: Hey hey there, ProBlogger listeners. It’s Darren Rowse here from ProBlogger. Welcome to episode 276 of the show. For those of you who are new to the show, ProBlogger is a site for bloggers and prebloggers designed to help them to start blogs, to grow those blogs, and to monetize those blogs. You can check out more of what we do over at ProBlogger. Particularly, look out for our courses. Our Start A Blog course which is free, will help you get up and running, and our 31 Days To Build A Better Blog course which is ideal for anyone with a blog who wants to take it up a notch, to have a 31 day intense burst of blogging to grow your blog. Check out the courses tab on problogger.com.

Today, we do something a little bit different on the show. The last six or so shows we’ve been featuring stories from new bloggers as part of our International Start A Blog Day which was last week. We had hundreds of blogs start on the day. It was so exciting to see them. You can check out some of those blogs that were started over on the ProBlogger blog. I’ll put on a link in the show notes today to that.

But many of you already have a blog. That little series we ran, you’re patient with us, and I know many of you enjoyed hearing those stories, but I know some of you have been wondering if you should start something else, some other kind of medium in 2019. So today, I’ve invited Craig Hewitt onto the show to talk about starting a podcast.

While Craig’s name may not be familiar to some of you, you have all heard his work and the work of his team. Every single one of you have heard it because right now, you are listening to something that Craig and his team has been a part of. Craig is the founder of PodcastMotor, the company that edits every episode of this podcast, apart from the first few episodes.

I’ve been working with Craig and his team for a few years now and they have been fantastic at helping us to get this show to you each week. All I do is record it, pop it in a Dropbox, put a few notes into a Google Doc, they take it, they edit it, they put all the little breakers and the musical bits into it, they put the show notes together for us, they put it into a WordPress installation, and they even schedule it for us. They create a social graphic for the show as well. They do everything behind the scenes apart from record it themselves. They’ve really helped a lot to help get this show up and running.

Craig has also started a new service more recently called Castos. I’ll link to them in the show notes today. I so wished this service was around when I started the podcast because it’s a service that hosts your podcast, integrates it with WordPress, and basically does everything you need behind the scenes to put your podcast onto the web. It’s really affordable as well.

When the number of listeners started asking questions about podcasting recently in our Facebook group, Craig was the obvious person to come on to the show. He also tells me that he’s put together a free step-by-step email course to help you launch a podcast as well and we talk about that in the show today. If you do want to check that out, it’s a seven-day or seven-step email sequence that you’ll get. You can sign-up for that at castos.com/problogger. I’ve seen it, it’s really a very helpful guide and something I wish I had when I started this podcast because I had to hack together this podcast using information from all over the place and to have it all into one spot will be fantastic.

In today’s interview, we cover a lot of ground. I basically put up a thread in our Facebook group asking members of our group what they want to know about podcasting and I was amazed how many questions came in. I was inundated with questions and I basically took all those questions and put them to Craig in today’s show. We talk about the why of podcasting, the benefits of it, who should podcast, who shouldn’t. We talk about gear, software that you need to start. We talk about creating the content, recording the content, promoting the content, leveraging your podcast to take readers to take action, to monetize it, and launching a podcast a well.

There’s a lot in today’s show. I’m sure you’ll find it useful. Some of you might want to check out the transcript as well because there’s a lot of information in it. You can find the show notes today and that transcript at problogger.com/podcast/276. Again, you can get Craig’s free email course at castos.com/problogger. That’s a seven-day course. I’ll talk a little bit more about that after the interview.

Lastly, if you know someone who you think should start a podcast, please tell them about this episode. Not only it will help to grow the ProBlogger podcast but could also end up changing their life as well as they discover this medium for themselves. I’m going to get back into the interview now. This is a fun one for me to record because I hadn’t really spoken to Craig a lot even though we’ve been working for years. It was great to hear his voice and he had a lot of really great things to share as well.

Hey, Craig. Good to have you with us today. Welcome to the ProBlogger podcast.

Craig: Hey, how are you doing? Thanks so much for having me.

Darren: It’s good to have you and we’ve obviously enjoyed having you work with us on the ProBlogger podcast for a while and you seem like an ideal person to get on. Many of our listeners at this time of year are thinking about new types of content for the year ahead and I know we get a lot of questions around podcasting. I thought you’d be ideal to talk to us about how to start a podcast and any tips for the early days of podcasting. What I thought I might do before we get into our reader’s questions is to get you to introduce your backstory and how did you end up in the podcasting space.

Craig: I think it’s always funny. Everybody has their kind of secret story of how they got to where they are now. Mine was coming around the long way into podcasting when I started getting into online business and entrepreneurship. I wanted to start a podcast because I listen to ones like yours and Pat Flynn. I can just at least document what I’m doing and share along the way what’s working and what’s not. I started my own podcast four years ago now—I can’t believe it’s been that long—and really quickly saw that audio editing and producing a podcast is frankly a pain. It’s really difficult and I think that if you talk to anybody who started podcast, they say, “This is the reason that it took us so long to get into this. This is by far the biggest pain point we have.” It’s not like spinning up a blog where you just go and you sign up for a SiteGround hosting, install WordPress and you start typing, you can do a bit of it on your phone. With podcasting, you at least need a little bit of equipment, some software a little bit of skills around how to edit, what an RSS feed is, and all these things.

I said, “I bet some people who are really busy would pay for this if I could take care of all of this stuff for them.” So, we started PodcastMotor almost four years ago now, here at the end of 2018. What PodcastMotor is aimed at is taking all of the backend podcast editing and production work off of people’s hands, like yourself, who are busy professionals, entrepreneurs, startups, businesses. They have a lot better things to do with their time than to learn how to be a semi pro audio editor.

Darren: And it’s a dream come true for me. I have to say that the first months of me starting a podcast, I did it all myself. Then I hired someone to do it for me and it’s still was quite a bit of to-and-froing with that person to try and to map them to get it just the way I wanted. When we started working with you guys, it was amazing to be able to just record the podcast—the part that I enjoy the most—then to put it into Dropbox, and the next thing I knew, it’s live on the site with the show notes, with the featured image, transcript, and all those things. That’s a great service to have.

You also got another product as well which might be probably more interesting to some of our listeners as well. Maybe just talk about that right out front and then we’ll get into the questions because I think it will be something that listeners might enjoy.

Craig: About two years ago now, I had the opportunity to get into the product space a little bit in podcasting and purchased a WordPress plugin called Seriously Simple Podcasting. From them, we’ve built the Castos hosting platform. I will probably talk about the nuts and bolts of podcasting a little but later in the episode but you really want a dedicated hosting platform to store and distribute all the media files for your podcast. You don’t want that living in the same server where your WordPress site lives. So we’ve built the Castos platform that integrated with WordPress really tightly. That’s another product we have in the podcasting space.

For people who are getting started with podcasting, we’ve built a really cool getting started email and video course called Launch In A Week. The idea is to take you from, “Hey I want to start a podcast,” to the podcast actually being live with episodes and in iTunes and all that stuff in just a week. If you have folks who want to check that out, they can go go to castos.com/problogger. I’m sure we’ll have link in the show notes.

Darren: We shall. This isn’t about selling to our listeners. I just wanted to get that upfront because you bring a lot of credibility to this topic and a lot of experience, particularly in that area of editing and helping podcasts to get up and running with the hosting side of things, the technicalities of podcasting which, to be honest, almost killed me and almost stopped my podcast before I even started. That’s the perspective we’re coming to this interview today.

Now I asked our Facebook group listeners to ask any questions that they had about podcasting and I was amazed how many questions came in. I was going to prepare a whole lot of questions but I think our listeners probably are the best ones to ask the questions. I’m going to throw the podcast over to them and I ordered them in a way that I hope makes sense. A lot of the questions that I want to start off with are around the why of podcasting. I said it at the start of the show, this is the time of year where we see a lot of readers starting new blogs but also new podcast or new YouTube channel. For those listening, who are wondering is a podcast right for me, why do you love podcasting? Why do you think it’s a medium our listeners should be considering?

Craig: Anybody that is creating content, and that typically means they’re blogging already but like you said, they could have a YouTube channel or big social media following already, I think podcasting is a natural extension to that, in that it’s an additive type of content addition to what they’re doing instead of saying, “I’m in a podcast. Instead of blogging or instead of doing a YouTube channel, I’m going to start a podcast,” because we always say you can do two different things with a podcast than you can say a blog and it is to reach the existing audience in a little bit different way or reach an entirely new audience that might not just a blog reader.

What it looks like in the first aspect is, the reaching your existing audience in a different way is having usually different types of conversations or covering different topics around your main area of focus that is just more appropriate for an audio medium. You and I having this conversation in a blog would be really weird. But having this conversation, having really a dialogue, having your Facebook group members to have questions, and things like that is really natural in this audio medium.

People looking to start a podcast that already have some other type of content say to themselves, maybe, “What am I covering in my blog that’s great and what can I cover in an audio medium that could be different and additive?” Things like interviews, case studies, and things like that tend to lend themselves to the audio medium much better than written.

In reaching a new audience, there’s a lot of people that don’t have time to read blog posts. I’m one of those people. When I was working in corporate, I would have hours a day in the car that I just listen to podcasts. I could never spend hours a day reading a blog. So, you kind of think about people maybe in those situations.

Darren: That’s so true and then as to my experience really is by starting this podcast, I grew my audience, so there were certainly new people who came into the audience, but I really like what you said about reaching your current audience in a different way as well because it seem to deepen that relationship with old-time readers or reignite the spark with those readers as well.

I actually had a question from Liso which I think build on what you’re saying. Liso said, “I’m an artist and have a blog which is about art, which is very visual. I’m wondering if I should do a podcast? How could I do a podcast with such a visual topic?” Any thoughts on that for Liso?

Craig: I interviewed a fellow for our podcast at Castos who was an artist. He’s an Irish fellow that has one of our most popular podcast that we host at Castos. I can see that just by download numbers he gets 20,000 or 30,000 downloads per episode. I asked him this exact question. I said, “This is a really visual medium that you live in. This goes back to why would you podcast instead of have a blog or something?” He says, “Yeah, but I can tell the story of the artist so much better in a podcast than I ever could in a blog.” He blogs as well, obviously.

I think for her to say, “Could you get the artist on and talk about just the artist themselves, their story, their journey, challenges they’re having, and things they’re up to?” Talk about the art, of course, but even in a medium like art where everything is so visual, telling the story of the artist and people themselves is really unique. Very few people probably are doing that and it would be a way for her to send out and tell a different story of the art world to their audience.

Darren: Yeah and I think you can then drive people back to your blog post which might show the art of the artist in the show notes or in a separate blog post. That ought to be a good combination.

Tula asked an interesting question. She said, “Would you suggest a person with a foreign accent do a podcast?” She’s got a popular YouTube channel in spite of the accent that she has, but she’s wondering because podcast is purely audio and not visual, would it be a challenge for her?

Craig: Absolutely. I think that it gives you a chance to differentiate yourself from everyone else that’s American or British. If you look at the high-level podcast statistics, it’s really dominated by the North American, at least, and some of the European demographics. If you’re Australian, or Irish, or Latin American, or whatever, I think it gives you a chance to really show who you are and stand out like that. I don’t know, Darren. Have you seen being Australian that people are surprised or have different reactions to your accent? Some are really surprised that you’re Australian, right?

Darren: I do. It’s amazing how many long-time readers of the blog said, “I never knew that you were an Aussie,” even though I talked about Australia quite a bit. Certainly my Twitter account’s most active during Australian hours. It’s a surprise to some people. It’s also been attractive to other people and that it’s interesting. I get a lot of comments from people saying, “My kids love your podcast because they love the accent and the crazy words that you use that you don’t even know you’re using.” Yeah, I actually get it’s part of the branding, I guess as well.

I guess it really probably depends on how different your accent is and if you find that people do struggle to understand your English. Maybe if your English is a second language, maybe it could be a challenge, but I actually think, like you it’s a good thing, too.

Craig: And I think a bit of a higher level thing is, is having a brand and an identity. Your accent and being Australian is part of your brand and identity. For her as well, if she’s comfortable with it, she’s got to get comfortable with hearing her voice. That’s a really weird thing. The first time you hear yourself recorded, you’re like, “Oh my gosh, I sound like an idiot,” or, “I never knew my voice was like this.” Once you get comfortable with it and have confidence in it, which honestly is a hard thing for a lot of people, you’re going to embrace it, love it, and go with it. That’s part of the brand of your podcast.

Darren: Yeah, so go for it, Tula. Before we move on to some of the logistics of starting a podcast, do you have any examples that come to mind of bloggers that you’ve worked with, that have launched the podcast in addition to their blog? I would be interested to hear of any examples that you’ve gotten and things that you say that they’ve done well.

Craig: One of the shining examples of this for us at PodcastMotor, we’ve been working with CoSchedule. CoSchedule is a marketing automation tool for WordPress and we’ve been working with them for a long time now, a couple of years. We’ve asked them, “Hey, you guys write such amazing blog content.” If you’ve never checked out the CoSchedule blog, go check it out. You’ll be blown away at the depth of articles that they write. So, they came back to us and said, “Yeah, we can write really great in-depth blog post, but what we can’t do is hear the story of these people and have organic, natural conversations with them..

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The post 275: How One Blogger Quit Her Job and Started a Lifestyle Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

How One Blogger Took Action, Left Her Job, and Began a Lifestyle Blog

Today marks the end of our series featuring stories from new bloggers. We really hope you’ve enjoyed them.

Jackie Baker recently started a lifestyle blog that celebrates the beauty in everyday life. She considered blogging as a business because she needed a career change that would both challenge her and leave time for a vacation once in a while.

But what would she write about? Jackie narrowed her blog’s focus to a few topics that bring joy, peace, and happiness to both her readers and herself. Hence the title of her blog: Pretty Things, Yummy Food.

What Jackie has learned from blogging:
  • Take action and keep pushing forward when you feel stuck or scared
  • Create a plan to prioritize tasks you need to get done
  • Sign up for courses that show you how to start/launch a blog
  • Connect with other bloggers who understand your excitement and frustration
  • Embrace social media to find readers and build a community
  • Use Canva to design graphics
  • Don’t stress about what others think about you or your blog

Want to start a blog? Do it and don’t doubt yourself. Follow your gut, get into a blogging mindset, and find your message to discover you have plenty to offer the world.

Sign up for ProBlogger’s free Start a Blog course and participate in its International Start a Blog Day on February 7.

Links and Resources for How One Blogger Quit Her Job and Started a Lifestyle Blog: Courses

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Darren: Hey there and welcome to episode 275 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, which is a site for you as a blogger or someone about to start a blog, that will help you grow that blog, create great content, and monetize it as well. You can learn more about what we do at ProBlogger and check out our two courses at problogger.com.

Speaking of our courses, today we’re finishing up our series of podcasts from stories who did our free Start A Blog course. We’re going to hear today from Jackie Baker from Pretty Things, Yummy Food, which sounds like the kind of blog I need to check out, particularly the yummy food part of it.

This series really is all about hearing from new bloggers, bloggers who haven’t been going for too long yet, to find out what they’ve learnt in their first year of blogging. I have loved the feedback we’ve had on this series. It seems that a lot of you have enjoyed hearing from new voices, people that they’ve never heard of before, rather than just hearing from experts or gurus or people who have been blogging for 10 years. The new bloggers have been sharing some of their journey as well.

We’re doing this really to highlight that people are continuing to start blogs these days and that there is a simple way to do it. That’s through our Start A Blog course, which you can find over at problogger.com/startablog. It’s completely free and it’s set out in seven simple steps that will walk you through the process.

Today, we’ve got Jackie Baker from Pretty Things, Yummy Food. It’s a lifestyle blog and it’s only been going for six months. Jackie started her blog as a result of going through our course and you’re going to hear her talk a little bit about that in today’s story. She recommends a great tool for those of you who are starting out and want to create some cool social graphics and gives you a few good tips as well. I’ll come back at the end of Jackie’s story to wrap things up and to pull out a few of the things that I love about her story.

Jackie: Hi everyone. I’m Jackie, the creator of Pretty Things, Yummy Food. Pretty Things, Yummy Food is a lifestyle blog designed to celebrate the beauty in everyday life and was officially launched on July 6, 2018. You can find the blog at prettythingsyummyfood.com.

I began thinking of blogging as a business back in January of 2018 and at the time when I felt like I needed a career change. The job I had at the time was a good job but I wanted something that would challenge me. I also hadn’t been on vacation in a while so I was also hoping to find something that might make it a little easier to make it to the beach. But more seriously, I’ve always wanted to own my own business and I felt this year could be a good year to strike out on my own. But doing what? I wanted to use my skills as a photographer and writer but I also knew that I wanted to get away from doing the freelance work that I had been doing.

While I was trying to think through my options, I received an email completely out of the blue from someone who just knew that I was looking to make a change but not what I was looking for specifically. Quite honestly, I didn’t even know what I was looking for, specifically. The email just had a link to a podcast episode about blogging full time. After listening to the episode, I started researching blogging and felt like it could actually be something I might enjoy and maybe a viable business option. So I decided to just go for it.

I left my job which was a really tough decision to make. But I decided to dive in and have the attitude that if this experiment failed, it failed. At least I would have tried it and wouldn’t be wondering ‘what if’ all my life. The only problem was that I had no idea what I would write about. I’m somebody who loves learning about everything and doesn’t really specialize in one specific thing. The thought of choosing one topic and sticking with it was a little terrifying to me.

I decided that I should probably choose a theme or an idea that could cross niches. As I thought of what that would be, I kept coming back to the fact that I love pretty things and yummy food. Pretty things don’t just have to be things, though they certainly can be. They can be a well-decorated room or a vacation with friends or just a comforting cup of tea. The main requirement for it to be a pretty thing is if it brings joy, peace, and happiness to you in a world that so often seems to take these things away instead of give them.

My goal for Pretty Things, Yummy Food is that it’s a place where readers feel encouraged to follow their dreams, whether they’re small like trying to make crème brûlée or big like traveling the world. When people ask me what Pretty Things, Yummy Food is about, I tell them it’s a little bit of everything. There are recipes of my favorite cookies, posts on the Mediterranean trip I took was friends, and my tips for traveling there yourself, plus DIY projects that can help brighten up your home.

Although it’s only been about a year since I even started the process of starting a blog, it feels like so much longer ago because I’m grown so much since then. I’ve learned that I have way more ideas when I ever knew I had and that I possess more boldness and tenacity to follow my dreams than I ever gave myself credit for. That’s why I would encourage anyone who’s thinking of starting a blog to do it. You may feel like you don’t have anything to say or that you might not be creative enough, but I really believe that once you get into that blogging mindset and find your message, you’ll find out that you have plenty to offer the world.

Over the past year, I’ve learned that so much of the time when you’re feeling stuck or scared, the best thing to do is to take some sort of action. The longer you stand still, the harder it is to get going. But if you just keep pushing forward, even doing small pieces at a time, the momentum will pick up and you’ll slowly start chipping away at your to-do list.

Creating a plan, even just for the day that prioritizes what needs to get done—and it actually possible to get done before you go to bed that night—is so helpful in sorting the truly important things from the things that are just cluttering up your head and making you nervous. I’m not an actual plan maker but I found that prioritizing tasks for each day helped a lot in actually accomplishing these tasks. If you feel like there are just so many things that need to get done that you can even start to sort them out, take advantage of some of the free resources out there from bloggers who have been where you are and want to help you push through and get your blog started.

When I was finally to the stage where I felt like I could actually start a blog but had no clue where to start, I signed up for ProBlogger’s Ultimate Guide To Starting A Blog course and I found some stuffs that got me past my analysis paralysis. Having a list of what needed to be done and how to actually get it done was instrumental in me actually launching Pretty Things, Yummy Food. Getting advice from someone who’s farther down the road than you in general is so helpful in getting through the rough patches. Connecting with people who or where you are also helps.

When I first started, I was a little bashful about admitting that I had started a blog because what if people actually looked at it and didn’t like it? But I forced myself to tell people and in the process, I found out that one of my close friends was also thinking about starting a blog and we hadn’t even thought to mention it to each other. But having someone else who understands the excitement and the stress of starting a blog has been a huge encouragement for me in my first year of blogging.

Don’t be like me and try to do everything on your own. There are so many incredible resources out there that can make starting a blog easier. For example, I’ve always approach the social media like someone from the 1920s, which is to say that I really didn’t approach it at all. When I started the blog, I avoided Instagram like the plague. But eventually, I saw the ways that it could be so helpful in building a community around the blog. I finally got on Instagram and I’m so glad that I did.

Instagram’s a great starting place for new bloggers in finding readers because these readers are already on Instagram. You just have to go out and find them. Reaching potential readers by finding them on Instagram is a much faster and more efficiently way to connect with them, than just hoping that they’ll find you by stumbling onto your brand new blog buried somewhere in the internet.

I also cannot say enough good things about Canva, which is a free website that helps you design graphics for your blog. When I started out, I made all my pins, my logo, and other blog graphics using Photoshop. Big mistake. What took me hours on Photoshop takes me minutes on Canva, which simplifies so much of the blogging process.

Finally, I just want to encourage you to remember that the only opinion that really matters is yours. What I mean is that if you truly feel like you found what you’re called to do, then do it. Ignore your previous opinions on the subject and ignore all the things you’re imagining people are saying about you, which honestly they probably aren’t because they’re too busy trying to figure out what they’re going to do next to really think about anyone else’s life decisions. Just follow your gut and work towards making your dream a reality. Don’t worry if it feels like it’s taking a long time. Things that are truly worth doing rarely happen quickly. Full disclosure, I’m still working another job while I continue to build my business. Your dreams are worth the effort so I say this year’s the year. Go out and make them happen.

Darren: Hey there and thanks, Jackie, for sharing your story. You can check our Jackie’s blog at prettythingsyummyfood.com. I’ll link to it in today’s show notes as well, where there will be a full transcript of today’s show. I’ll also link to her recommendation of Canva and might pop in a couple of further listening recommendations as well.

I love this story and I thought it was a great one to finish up this series that we’re doing because it touches on a few of the things that I know many bloggers or prebloggers, particularly, would be feeling as I get into this process of starting a blog. Firstly, she talked about being stuck and being scared. Very common feelings for people who are going through this process. Even though we’ve outlined the process in seven relatively easy steps, it can feel overwhelming at times. I really would encourage you to take the advice that Jackie gave of taking action, even small steps that take you towards your goal, will help to build some momentum and also help you to overcome that feeling of stuckness because you are moving.

Also, I find personally that when I take action when I’m scared, it kind of put the fear in its place. The fear for me doesn’t tend to disappear completely but it kind of lessens as I move forward, as I learn new skills, as I can gain confidence by taking small steps. She talked about creating a plan as well. That is great advice and it’s something that I do as well everyday. I start my day by putting aside a few minutes to come up with a to-do list for that day. I tend to prioritize that list to the most important things first and then work through the list over time.

Having a friend to go on a journey with is another great thing and I would encourage you, if you don’t know anyone who’s starting a blog at the moment, check out our Facebook group. There’s always new bloggers starting out in our Facebook group. You will find people there who can help you through that process. I’ll link to the group in and the show notes today but you can also find it by searching for ProBlogger Community on Facebook. It’s a place where you can ask any question you like about blogging and there’s plenty of experienced bloggers in there as well as new bloggers in there who can help you through that process.

Also love that recommendation on starting on Instagram is a great place to start for social media. It will probably depend a little bit upon your niche and with it you’ve got a visual element for you’re niche. But particularly if you’re starting a lifestyle blog, a blog about food or pretty things, then Instagram is a super smart place to start. That idea of actually going in finding your readers rather than hoping they will find you, that is so key and we teach that over on ProBlogger, particularly on our 31 Days To Build A Better Blog course. Get off your blog and begin to take action in the places where your potential readers are hanging out as well.

Anyway, great story there from Jackie. I can’t wait to see where that particular blog goes. I think you hear in Jackie’s voice that she’s someone who is thinking really smart about this. She’s taking a bit of a risk by quitting her job and starting a blog. I’m glad to hear right at the end there that she’s also got another blog to keep her going through that, because it take time to build a blog. I wouldn’t recommend you just quit your job to start a blog unless you’ve got something else to feed you, pay your mortgage, and support your family through that process as well. So it sounds like Jackie’s doing the right thing there. Props to her for taking that big step in action and I can’t wait to see what happens as a result of that.

Again you can check out Jackie’s blog at prettythingsyummyfood.com. Check out the show notes today at problogger.com/podcast/275. You can always find our show notes. If you just go to problogger.com and look for the podcast tab at the top, it will take you to where the latest podcasts are.

If you’ve got a moment today at the end of the series, I would love it if you would share some of the podcasts that we’ve been doing with a friend. Someone who you think should start a blog. Send them to any of the last six or so episodes or just straight over to the Start A Blog course at problogger.com/startablog. Give them the gift of having their own blog, a place to express themselves and share what they know and love with the world.

Thanks so much for listening to this little series. We’re going to go back to once-a-week podcasts now after we’re done with this little intense burst of six. I can’t wait to see the blogs that will be launched as a result of the stories being shared.

I should finish up by saying thanks so much to those of you who submitted stories that we weren’t able to use. We got a lot of stories submitted and we just couldn’t use them all but we do hope to use some of them in the future and continue to use the podcast to highlight what other people are learning about blogging. Bloggers at all stages of the journey.

If you want something else to listen to, dig back in to the archives, head over to iTunes, and check out some of the 274 other episodes that we’ve got. There’s tons in there on all aspects of blogging. But until next week, have a great week of blogging.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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The post 275: How One Blogger Quit Her Job and Started a Lifestyle Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

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The post 274: How Stefano Changed Blogging Platforms and Started Blogging with a Plan appeared first on ProBlogger.

How a Blogger Found the Right Plan and Business Idea

Today our series of stories from new bloggers continues with Stefano Caioni, a web developer and photographer.

Stefano’s blog offers guidance on various aspects of photography including focus modes, settings and equipment reviews.

Using his tech experience, Stefano wrote all the code for his blog himself. But he soon discovered how fun it was to build and write content for it, even though it had no traffic.

Then Stefano decided to migrate his existing content to WordPress to benefit from its SEO and security functionalities.

But he was inconsistent with posting content, didn’t have a specific strategy or business idea in mind, and ran out of topics.

He almost gave up on it.

Then he came across ProBlogger.com. He started writing more consistently, this time with a plan and business idea in place.

His blog lets him share his passion for photography by writing useful posts that inspire others and offer them value. He’s met many photographers who’ve inspired him as well.

He never dreamed of making money from his blog or building a business around it. But traffic continues to grow, and he monetizes his blog through Amazon affiliate links.

Blogging isn’t dead. The number of internet users increases every day. Fresh and updated content is needed to fulfill the growing demand for information. So start a blog.

Sign up for our free Start a Blog course and join us for the International Start a Blog Day on February 7.

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Darren: Hey there and welcome to episode 274 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the founder of problogger.com, a site for bloggers and prebloggers, designed to help you to start a great blog, and to monetize that blog.

Today, we are continuing our series of podcast with stories from new bloggers, people in their first year of blogging. All these are short stories from participants from our Start A Blog course and we’re sharing them in the hope that they will inspire you or someone you know to start a blog, as part of our International Start A Blog Day on the seventh of February, which is fast approaching. There’s still time to participate if you would like to start a blog, either for that date or afterwards. We have a course that will walk you through exactly how to start a blog using a WordPress platform. That course is completely free to participate in and you can find it at problogger.com/startablog.

Today’s story comes from Stefano Caioni from stefanocaioni.com and I’ve got a link to that in the show notes today. He is a photographer. He is a web developer, actually, who is a photographer as well and his blog is about photography, which grabbed my attention. But I also wanted to share this story today because it is a little bit different than some of the others.

Stefano actually came to blogging with a bit of a tech background, which is different to many people. We’ve had others in this series who came with no technology kind of background whatsoever. Stefano has created a beautiful-looking blog with that background but he has some interesting reflections upon that journey which I will come back to at the end of his story, too, just pulled apart just a little bit. Here’s Stefano. Enjoy his story.

Stefano: Hi. This is Stefano Caioni, a landscape and outdoor photographer, living in Sydney, Australia. My website is called Stefano Caioni Photography and you can find it at www.stefanocaioni.com. I’m Italian as you can hear from my strong accent. Sorry for that.

I write gear reviews on Micro Four Thirds cameras, drones, lenses, and camera equipment such as bags, filters, and tripods. I write tips on how to get better landscape photos. I also share my outdoor adventures and tips on how to organize photography travels.

I’m a web developer by profession and I started my blog as a personal coding exercise a little over a year ago in May 2017. In fact, the first version of my blog wasn’t built on WordPress but I wrote the code of the entire blog from scratch. The HTML, the CSS, the backend, everything. It had basic functionalities such as writing posts, with text and images, a rudimental search, and comments. I started writing articles and my website started to take form. What I’d soon realized while I was writing my first posts is that it was so much fun and I enjoyed creating content even though it had no traffic at all.

I then decided to migrate my existing content over to WordPress for two reasons. One is because I could benefit from its SEO, from all the plugins available, and security functionalities. Second, because I didn’t have time to maintain the codebase of the entire website and I wanted to focus on writing content and share my adventures.

My initial idea was to only write about photography adventures and my travels. I was creating one very short article each month just for fun again. But article after article, I soon ran out of topics since I have a full-time job and I don’t travel that much. I got bored and wrote a first review of my own camera. From there, from fact, that would be the only gear review for an entire year. I wrote some short tutorials on how to get better landscape photography and I was being very inconsistent again. I didn’t have a strategy or a real business idea in mind. After a year of starting my blog, I was about to give up. I stopped uploading new content for a few months.

I then came across the ProBlogger podcast, started consuming content online, and eventually subscribed to problogger.com, which helped me a lot starting writing again, this time with a plan and with a business idea in mind. Currently, I’m in the middle of a personal challenge, which is writing an article a day for 30 days, to have a bit more content, and build the habit of writing on a consistent basis. I started monetizing my website with Amazon affiliate links.

When I started out stefanocaioni.com, I had no particular dreams of making money with it or to build a business around it, but now that I see some traffic coming through, I really hope that in 2019 it will keep growing and this website can become a source of passive income. I also plan of start creating video content to give something more to my readers.

I think that this year of blogging has been a bit of self-discovery. It made me realize not only then my passion for photography is greater than I thought, but also that writing useful content and helping other people getting inspired and gaining benefit from what I create is really awesome. Looking backwards, what’s really fun is that as a professional web developer, I’ve always been reluctant in using content management systems such as WordPress because I wanted to build everything myself. But now, I totally changed my mind and I want to build a business on top it because it’s so easy to use.

In this first year of blogging I obtained some small but amazing things. I was able to meet several professional photographers that have build an amazing online presence and I was able to interview one of them, Lauren Bath, which is a pretty popular name on Instagram and also an ambassador for Olympus cameras. She has an Instagram, almost half a million followers. I’m pretty proud of myself for being able to do an interview with her. The interview is obviously on my website, www.stefanocaioni.com. I hope I can interview other amazing photographers in 2019, to share their experiences, and inspire more and more people.

What I want to share with new bloggers is that blogging is not something that’s part of the past as many think and as I thought, too, before starting. Don’t hesitate and think that there are already millions of blogs out there because the number of internet users keeps growing everyday. Today, like never before, with 3.5 billion internet users. More fresh and updated content is needed to fulfill the growing need of information. The internet needs our content, so start a blog. Don’t be afraid.

Darren: Thanks so much, Stefano, for sharing your story today. I love the accent, I love the story, and I love particularly that someone from a tech kind of background, someone who was able to create his own blog using his own coding skills, actually ended up on WordPress, which is the platform that we recommend in our Start A Blog course.

He talks his story about the benefits of doing so. It is easier to maintain, it has some search engine optimization benefits, which allows you to rank a little bit higher in Google when people search Google more naturally. It has an amazing array of plugins available that can help you to add functionality to your site. It is more secure than coding your own unless you’re an amazing coder. It also gives you more control, I guess, than some of the other platforms as well, particularly when you install it on your own domain and your own servers.

All of that sounds really tough but you don’t need a tech background like Stefano to install the blog on your own domain and servers. Our course walks you through step-by-step that process. If you do want to be a part of that and start a blog, check out problogger.com/startablog. You do need to invest a little bit, not into the course itself, that’s free, but into your hosting and domains. But it isn’t the most expensive exercise in the world and it’s one most people can afford to do.

I also like Stefano’s story because he kind of started his blog twice, I guess. He started once where it kind of was a bit haphazard and his topic was quite narrow. He stopped for a while and then relaunched it essentially with a plan and a business idea in mind. I love that idea as well.

Starting with a plan is actually really important. That’s again, something that we cover in the teaching on ProBlogger as well. We believe that starting with a goal in mind is important, not just starting with kind of wide goals and not really knowing what to expect but actually starting with good foundations is an important thing.

I really love the idea of setting yourself a challenge. His challenge, if you heard it, was to write an article everyday for 30 days. Now, that may not be realistic for everyone but even three articles a week or one article a week, having that kind of a deadline in mind, to get your archives fuller, to have more content on there, every piece of content you write is a new doorway into your blog. It’s a new thing that could end up on the end of a Google search from someone or social media search. So building up your archives in the early days is important and also gets you into the habit of of writing content. Even if you don’t publish something everyday, writing something everyday or writing part of an article everyday is a really good, healthy writing habit to get into if you can.

Lastly, his kind of last message there that blogging isn’t part of the past, blogging isn’t dead, it’s not something for those of us who started in the early 2000s. It’s actually something that is worth investing time into today. Starting today, opportunities open up and Stefano’s opportunity is to meet people and to interview people are just some of the opportunities that can come to bloggers.

Monetization, of course, is part of it as well. That takes a little bit of time and you’ve got to get the foundations right first. You shouldn’t get into blogging expecting you’re going to be rich overnight. Money could come down the track but there’s a lot of joy to be had in creating content, connecting with the readers, and also opening up your networks as well.

Again, the internet needs our content. It was Stefano’s words and I truly believe in that as well. Your story, your experience, your voice is unique. There are so many blogs out there but your perspective is unique and I think the world needs to hear it as well.

If you are inspired to start a blog, check out our course at problogger.com/startablog. I challenge you to get it up and running. If you can be a part of our International Start A Blog Day on the seventh of February, then that’s fantastic. If it takes a little longer for you to get your blog up and running as it has many others who’ve gone through the course, that’s totally fine as well. We’d love to hear about your new blog and to celebrate it with you, and maybe next year to feature your story in our ProBlogger series.

Thanks so much, Stefano, for sharing your story today. You can find a link to his beautiful blog in our show notes today, as well as a full transcription of his story. You can find the show notes at problogger.com/podcast/274. Tune-in in the next day or two and we’ve got one more story in this series to come. Then we’ll be getting back into some different kind of podcast over the coming weeks and months. Thanks for listening. Chat soon.

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The post 273: How One Blogger Turned a Painful Situation into a Life-Changing Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

How One Blogger Found Encouragement in Difficult Times

Our new bloggers series continues with Melissa, who started Living in the Wait.

Her blog serves as a resource for those waiting for something in their lives, whether it’s a job, spouse, home or something else.

Melissa discovered you can still live life during that time of waiting for something your heart desperately desires.

In Melissa’s case, she and her husband were waiting for a family due to infertility. It’s a painful topic to talk about, but Melissa felt like it was her calling to share her story.

Blogging about her journey and wait has brought joy to her life. She wants to continue encouraging people going through difficult times.  

First-year blogging highlights:
  • Started The Wait List featuring guest posts to connect with others who were also waiting
  • Selected as recipient of ProBlogger scholarship to further the blog’s reach
  • Generated cycle of encouragement: live life to the fullest, and give back to others
Melissa’s blogging tips:
  • Progress over perfection
  • Celebrate your wins

Don’t forget to sign up for our free Start a Blog course and join us for the International Start a Blog Day on February 7.

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Darren: Welcome to episode 273 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name’s Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a site and a podcast to help you to start an ,amazing blog that’s going to change the lives of your readers in some way, and hopefully will change your life, too both in what it gives you personally but also hopefully some income as well. You can learn more about what we do at ProBlogger and find our courses at problogger.com.

Speaking of courses, today we do continue our Start A Blog story series where we’re featuring stories from bloggers in their first year of blogging. There are all these bloggers who’ve been throughout Start A Blog course and many of them participated in our International Start A Blog Day last February. We’ve got the second iteration of that event coming up on the 7th of February this year.

We’re running these stories to try and inspire as many people as possible to start a blog and be a part of that process. You can join in the fun of International Start A Blog Day and get a free course to help you set up a blog in that time over at problogger.com/startablog.

Today’s story is from Melissa. She has a blog called Living In The Wait. I love the topic of this blog and that’s one of the reasons that I wanted to share her story today. I’m going to link to her blog which is livinginthewait.com on our show notes today. There’s also a full transcript of the show today and some further listening if you do want to be into one of the big themes that she talks about. You can find the show notes today at problogger.com/podcast/273. I’m going to let Melissa talk now and I’ll come back at the end to just pull out a few of the themes that I love in what she shares.

Melissa: My name is Melissa. I started the blog called Living In the Wait and the URL is livinginthewait.com. What my blog is about is it’s a resource for those who are basically trying to live in the wait. Whether you’re waiting for a family, job, spouse, we all wait for something in our lives. For my husband and I, that wait happened to be infertility.

Why I started my blog was based upon our own personal experience. For over three years, my husband and I have been going through infertility. Something that I never imagined or of course, who would want something like that to go through? But while we were in that process, I began asking myself this question. I said, “How am I supposed to keep living in the wait? How do I keep living every month when I’m continually disappointed? How do I keep living my life? How do I live in the wait?”

That’s really where the whole concept and idea behind Living In The Wait began, where I wanted to be a source for others who are going through a wait and providing them encouragement, support, a community, resources, so they knew that while you are waiting for something in your life that your heart just desperately desires, that you can still live during that time. That’s what I had to learn and that’s also what I wanted to share with others, as well to be a resource for them.

I started my blog. My first post was February 4th of 2018 and as I mentioned, really the whole goal with that is just to be a resource, support, encouragement for those going through some sort of wait. We all wait for something. Our wait just happened to be infertility. During that time, I really noticed a lack of resources, information, support available for people going through infertility and I wanted to do something about that. I knew that I needed that for our journey and I just was surprised that it wasn’t made available to us readily in my community. I’ve noticed that it’s a topic that is hard to talk about and I think that’s part of the reason people maybe don’t share as much. I knew that it was something that God was leading me to do, was to share my story.

I was just amazed as soon as we started sharing ours, how many people stepped up and shared their story as well. Through that, just felt so much community of other people from around the world experiencing the wait, the same wait that my husband and I were going though and how that’s all what we wanted. We all wanted those resources and support, community, just to gather around us to help us during that time because going through something like that, like I said, the resources for that were very limited. How do you go through something? How do you handle those emotions? The grief, the disappointment every month, how are you prepared to do that?

That’s what I wanted to do with Living In The Wait. I still have a long way to go but that’s really kind of my goal and objective is to be that resource to people when they are going through talk a lot about infertility, but we all wait for something. I feel like those tips and the articles that I’ve written are things that do apply for anybody, whatever their type of wait may be.

That’s really been my goal with that. My big dreams, I guess you could say is to continue to have this blog. It has been so much fun. I thoroughly have enjoyed writing a blog. I never would have imagined doing something like that but our journey, our wait really just brought to light something that I think was always there. I’ve always enjoyed writing. I’ve always journaled when I was younger and it just kind of brought all that back in full circle. It’s been something I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.

I want to continue having this blog up. I want it to continue to grow. I want it to be more information available for people. I want to continue to just encourage people. I feel like that something that we need so much along with those resources and practical information to help us get through those difficult times of when we are waiting for something, how do we keep living. It is possible and that’s what I want people to know is you can still live while you’re in the wait. Those desires are still going to be there but you can still live a life to the fullest.

My husband and I have just adopted that attitude ever since starting this blog. It has been a game-changer for us where yes, we’re disappointed every month, we find out that we’re not pregnant but we have been able to just live life to the fullest by doing things that we enjoy and also giving back and being generous to other people as well. This has been so much fun blogging. That’s kind of the story of why I started Living In The Wait. Kind of some of the dreams that had end goals and objectives that I’ve wanted as well with this blog.

Just a couple of highlights from my first year that I wanted to share. One of the things I did was I started my blog in February but in April, I started a monthly series called The Wait List. Basically, it features guest host from people who, you guessed it, are all waiting. As I said, we all wait for things in our lives. I wanted to feature these stories of other people to provide hope and encouragement for others who are going through their wait and basically allow them to see those people and see how they were able to live in their wait.

I think when you’re able to connect to someone that you know, that you can see them getting through a tough situation, it brings you hope. It reminds you that this is something that I can do as well. That has been one of the most powerful things I have done with my blog is The Wait List. It has been one of the most popular posts that I do every month as well.

What’s so neat with that is just how it’s been able to help further the reach of Living In The Wait because there’s only so many people I can reach. But when these other people who are being featured put that information out there and they share to their social media sites, that’s another way I have been able to get that reach spread more is other people read and they find out what Living In The Wait is and what it means.

It’s been so much fun to hear other people’s stories. I love meeting people and that’s what I enjoy the most about The Wait List is I get to connect with them, share their story, and every one of them has just brought so much encouragement to me so I know it’s brought a lot for other people as well who are going through that. That’s been one of the big highlights that we had for Living In The Wait.

When I first started my blog, which was around the time of International Start A Blog Day, I was very surprised and thankfully selected for one of the ProBlogger scholarships. That was a huge surprise that really set things on a very positive note for me starting my blog. I think there’s a lot of self-doubt sometimes when you try to start a blog and you’re wondering, “Is there something really I should do? Do I really have a lot of value to bring?” Those are all questions I experienced when I was starting this.

When I received that scholarship, it was just a sign for me that this is something that I was supposed to be doing and it was great. I was able to get just my information out more and hit a big reach. For that, I just really appreciate ProBlogger and what they’ve done, for offering that, and just really rallying around just supporting other bloggers. It’s awesome to be a part of this community because I really feel it really supports each other and wants to see each other succeed, which I love being a part of.

Also, for any other people who are interested in blogging, like I said, this wasn’t something that I really would have thought of doing myself but through our experience with infertility, I just really felt that nudge that this was something I should be doing, was starting a blog, sharing our story, and encouraging other people through their wait. Through that it includes me. That’s what so neat about starting a blog. It’s definitely very therapeutic for the person that’s writing it but other people when they read it, it’s just like this cycle of encouragement that comes back to you.

Just a couple of tips I’ve learned along the way that I would like to share. The main one is progress over perfection. I’m a perfectionist and there have been so many times when I was writing a post or I was trying to decide about a giveaway or questions to ask to my community. There was so much self-doubt and so many times that would stop me from doing things. I was so concerned about being perfect with the information I was sharing that it would stop me.

I finally got to the point where I was just like, “You know what? I’m tired of this. I know I have value to provide and I’m going to share it.” Yes, there’s times where maybe I wished I would have done something different but that’s where we learn and that’s where it’s so important to go out there and just do that progress, make that progress, do it scared, and know that it might not be perfect, but sometimes, I feel those posts were maybe the ones that people enjoy the most because you’re so vulnerable and genuine with people. So, progress over perfection.

Second I would share is celebrate your wins. There is always more that you could do. There’s always a better post or a better way to write something. There is always more people that you want to read your blog. But here’s the deal. Celebrate the ones that are reading your blog. Celebrate the fact that you did make that post. Celebrate that that post maybe you’re more vulnerable in it. Celebrate your wins because those are what is going to keep you going.

Darren: Thanks so much, Melissa, for sharing you story and blog with us. I love the topic of this blog. It does come out of a painful experience the starting of this blog but this is a theme that I’ve noticed over the years is that many of the blogs that have the biggest impact upon their readers actually start out of these tough situations or these hard experiences that the bloggers have themselves. A painful experience can actually be a life-giving thing for both the person themselves going through that experience but also many other people who can relate to that.

The topic of waiting is something that even as Melissa was talking, I can think of times in my own life when I was waiting in different areas and it’s something that I think many people will be able to relate to. I want to celebrate this topic and say, “Well done, Melissa, and your hubby, I’m not sure what his name was, for starting that blog.”

I love the illustration here of Melissa sharing vulnerably and that leading to a vulnerable reaction in her readers as well. This is something I’ve talked about numerous times over the years is that if you want a particular response from your readers, you need to take the lead and blog in a way that will elicit that kind of response. This is a great illustration of that.

I think I talked in episode 263 about vulnerability and how, when I’ve been vulnerable with my readers and listeners that, often I see that come back to me in the comments, in he messages, in the emails, in the interactions that listeners have. So, great listen there. To put yourself out there and to be willing to go into some of those more painful parts of your life and just see what happens as a result of that.

I also like in the topic that Melissa talked about here is that she’s not just thinking about the topic. She’s actually thinking about the need, the situation of her readers. She’s not just talking about infertility but she’s actually talking about waiting. It would have been possible for her to just start an infertility blog and that would have been a great thing to do. I’m sure that would’ve helped many people but she’s actually thinking a little bit outside the box and extending that into writing for people who are waiting.

I think that’s an interesting way of broadening the topic, giving her not just one topic to talk about and perhaps broadening the audience as well. I think that’s a really nice illustration of an alternative way to think about the topic of your blog and to position your blog. The monthly series of The Wait List, again, brilliant strategy and it kind of relates to what we heard in the last episode. The last episode, our blogger was interviewing people and that led to the growth of her blog. This also, in featuring the stories of other people, guest writers will help to both broaden the topic into different areas but also broaden the audiences as well because each of those writers has their own network and obviously that sharing into that network has helped to grow Melissa’s blog as well.

I just love that Melissa really obviously has her reader in mind. She wants to change their life in some tangible way. Help them through a situation, help them to feel they’re not the only one. Great topic. Really great tips as well around progress as a perfection. We’ve heard this already in the series as well. Don’t let perfection hold you back from actually publishing content, from starting that blog.

Then, that last point she made, to celebrate your wins. I really like that. She kind of bravefully mentioned it there but I think a lot of bloggers, in the early days of their blogs, focus so much attention on the readers they don’t yet have. I think a lot of good things come when you focus not on the reader you don’t yet have, but to focus upon the readers you already do have.

You may only have 10 readers of your blog. You might not even have that many. You might have three and one of them might be your mom. But focus upon what you already have. Celebrate those two, or three, or 10 people because each of those people has their own network. If you serve them, if you love them, they then spread the word. Celebrate those wins. Focus upon what you have, not just upon what you don’t have and I hope that good things come for you in your blogging as well.

Thanks so much, Melissa. Again, you can find her blog at livinginthewait.com. You can find our show notes with a full transcription of today’s show as well. Another episode you might want to listen to on our show notes today at problogger.com/podcast/273. Also, the episode that you might want to dig into a little bit, I kind of mentioned a little bit earlier is episode 263 where I talked about vulnerability. I give an example of my own vulnerability and the good things that happened when I put my pain and confusion out there for people. It’s a little bit more personal but I hope that you find something good out of that as well. I’d love to hear your examples of when you’ve been vulnerable with your readers as well.

Don’t forget to check out our Start A Blog course at problogger.com/start-a-blog. If you are interested in getting a blog up and running in a similar way that Melissa is going to bring a lot of life to those around you and to you as well, that’s at problogger.com/start-a-blog. Thanks for listening. Chat with you in the next few days where I will continue our series of stories from our new bloggers.

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The post 273: How One Blogger Turned a Painful Situation into a Life-Changing Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

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The post 272: How Networking and Interviewing Helped One Blogger Build Her Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

How One Blogger is Making the Most from Networking and Interviewing

Our series of stories from new bloggers continues with Penny Wilson, who started Lingo Mama to blog about language learning and travel.

Penny’s reasons for starting a blog:
  • Return to her passion for language learning
  • Establish accountability and discipline with language learning
  • Share love for language learning with others
  • Inspire others to learn a second language

Starting a blog involved a huge learning curve for Penny, especially when it came to the technical aspects of managing it.

Fortunately, Penny hasn’t struggled for content ideas. The challenge is getting those ideas across in a way that’s interesting, entertaining and informative, and that adds value.

One of the highlights of blogging came when Penny connected with bloggers she respects in her niche. She also created an interview series that lets her connect with other language learners.

Making money from her blog has been slow, but Penny has been happy with affiliate ads she installed early on to generate traffic and referrals.

Penny’s Top Tips:
  • Don’t stress too much about being perfect
  • Promote content that’s most useful to readers
  • Listen to feedback from readers

Did Penny’s story inspire you to start a blog? Then, sign up for the free Start a Blog course as a way to celebrate our International Start a Blog Day on Feb. 7.

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Darren: Hey there and welcome to Episode 272 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name’s Darren Rowse, and I’m the blogger behind ProBlogger, a site, podcast, event, job board, series of ebooks, and courses all designed to help you start an amazing blog, to grow that blog, and to make some money from the process. You can find more about ProBlogger over at problogger.com. Today, we’re continuing this short series of podcasts with stories from bloggers in their first year of blogging.

Although stories have been gathered from participants of our Start a Blog course, which we are promoting at the moment, even though it’s a free course, we’re promoting it because, in the next few weeks, we have our International Start a Blog Day, which is being held on the 7th of February. Today, we’re celebrating new blogs and we’re launching a whole lot of blogs from students from our course, and we hope to send you a little bit of traffic as well to help that blog get off and running.

We’ll be highlighting some of those new blogs that have started our social media as well as on our blog as well. Each of the bloggers that are sharing in this series are sharing their story, just a really short story but also some tips that they’ve learned along the way. If you’ve been thinking about starting a blog, or you know someone who’s thinking about it, or you know someone who should start a blog, please head to problogger.com/start-a-blog.

You will find this free course that we’ve put together. It’s a seven-step course that walks you through everything you need to know to get involved in our International Start a Blog Day but also to get that blog up and running. Now, today’s story comes from Penny Wilson, an Aussie from lingomama.com. I’ll link to that in the show notes as well today. You can find those show notes at problogger.com/podcast/272. I’m just going to hand it over to Penny because she’s got a great story to tell, and I will come back at the end of her story just to wrap things up and to pull a few things out I like about what she says.

Penny: Hi, my name’s Penny. My blog is called Lingo Mama and I blog about language learning and language travel. The URL is lingomama.com. I started my blog in May 2018, and I really had a few reasons why I wanted to start. One of them was to get myself back into language learning and to give myself some accountability and discipline with my language learning. I have learned Chinese for a long time and also Vietnamese in the past and Japanese so my focus is really on Asian languages.

I’ve had a baby recently, and I really wanted to get back into my passion of language learning and share my love for language learning with my readers. The other premise, really, was about inspiring to people to learn a second language. I really think it’s an amazing challenge, and it’s such an amazing feeling when you are able to communicate in a second language even if it’s in quite a basic way. That was my other motivation as well.

I have really enjoyed blogging on my website. It’s been a huge learning curve. I think, particularly, the technical aspect of learning about how to manage a blog, resizing images, changing fonts and headings, managing all the ins and outs with the WordPress platform, that’s been a real challenge. Editing videos, of course, is another big one. One of the highlights for me, I think, has been, earlier in the year, I identified a handful of language bloggers who I really looked up to and thought were doing an amazing job.

The highlight for me has been able to connect with these three or four bloggers in various ways. One has interviewed me on an Instagram Live, which was fantastic. I have also interviewed one of these language bloggers for my website and a couple of these other website bloggers I’m involved with in an online mastermind session. I think, in just a short time or feels like a short time to me – six, seven or eight months – I’ve been able to connect with some of the more high-profile language bloggers. It is quite a small niche, but I’ve been really happy with that.

Content-wise, I haven’t struggled for ideas in terms of content. I’ve always got the ideas. I think, for me, the challenge is getting those ideas across in a way that’s interesting, entertaining, informative and actually adds value to people. That’s something that I’m continuing to learn how to do. I created a language learning interview series a few months ago, and that’s been really valuable because it has allowed me to connect with other language learners and interview them about their process of language learning, their challenges, ups and downs, but also when the interview is live and I’ve published it, it’s a way for me to attract new readers because the interviewees then share the interview that they were featured in. That’s been really valuable for me.

In terms of making money, it’s been a very slow burn, but I did install affiliate ads very early on in the past and have been somewhat happy, I guess, with the small amount of traffic that my website receives that I have been able to make some money off affiliate ads and referrals. I think it’s always a great thing to see that increasing and see how, if it does, have any parallels with the amount of web traffic you’re receiving or the types of content that you’re producing.

In terms of top tips for new bloggers, something that I really would want to get across to you is don’t stress too much about having the perfect post or the perfect images. It is a lot of work to create a blog post so you are doing well in just getting your content out there. Be very happy about that. Also, promote the content that you think is most useful to your readers as much as you can because that content is what is going to create your name and your brand and generate more readers for your website.

Also, listen to the feedback and the questions you receive from your readers, whether that’s directly on your blog post or via social media because this is what your readers are most interested in and probably what they want you to create more content on. That would be my top tips for new bloggers. Thank you.

Darren: Thanks so much for sharing your story, Penny, and I really do appreciate those bloggers who have put aside some time to share their stories with us today. It’s nice to be able to highlight some younger bloggers. Often in these types of podcasts, we highlight experts, and gurus, and people who have been blogging for 10 or 15 years, but it’s really nice to hear from those at the beginning of their journey, to hear the energy and excitement in their voices, to also hear a little bit about what their struggles have been, what their learning curves have been like but also hear their tips because what they are learning today as new bloggers is just as valid as what us told-timers are learning as well.

A few things I loved about what Penny shared: firstly, that she networks like crazy by the sounds of it and she has gotten to know others in her niche and has connected with them, even the higher-profile people in this small niche, and it’s been really worthwhile to connect with them. I love the idea of interviewing people. Even if those people that you’re interviewing aren’t the high-profile ones, they each have their own network. They each have their own story. They each have their own value to add to your blog but also, as Penny shared, they can send people to read your blog as well.

We’ve had numerous podcasts in the past about this particular technique, of interviewing others about their experience of what you are talking about. This is a brilliant way of building the traffic, to build your credibility, to build relationships with the people that you interview. I love that she’s connecting in this way with others in her niche but also through the online mastermind. That is just brilliant. Even if those other five people in the mastermind are all the same level as you, as you all grow, you have the potential to grow each other’s blogs.

It’s just a great strategy there in networking, the interviews. The last thing I loved about Penny’s strategy is to monetize first with affiliates’ promotions. As Penny said, she doesn’t have a massive amount of traffic, and so for her to create a product right now in the early days of her bog while she’s trying to build traffic, trying to get more content and new archives, may not be the best strategy, particularly if she’s juggling other things in her life like family and other things or other priorities.

To find someone else’s product to promote and to add a commission from is a great first step when it comes to monetization. To see that it’s converting already is a really good sign. Lots of valuable tips there. Lastly, she’s talked about not having to be perfect with her content. Great tip there. Get it out there. Get your content out there. It doesn’t need to be perfect. Yes, polish it. Yes, make it as good as it can be, but make sure you publish it and get that content out there.

Listen to the feedback of your readers, create useful content, and promote it as much as you can. Great tips there from Penny. I reckon this one’s worth re-listening to at some point as well. If you have a moment to share this with someone else maybe at the beginning of their journey, I would appreciate that as well. Get this podcast out there to others who are considering starting a blog. You can find the show notes and you can share it from problogger.com/podcast/272.

Thanks again, Penny. Check out her blog at Lingo Mama. I’ll link to that in the show notes with a full transcript of today’s show, and I will also find a few other podcasts to listen to that relate to some of the things as we talked about today or that will relate to interviewing people. We’ve definitely got a couple of podcasts there that I’ll link to in the show notes today and also affiliate marketing as a great first step. Thanks for listening. Tune in early next week, and we’ll have another blogger story for you.

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The post 271: How One Blogger Simplified Starting a Blog by Sharing the Load appeared first on ProBlogger.

How One Blogger Worked With Others to Start a Blog

We continue our series featuring stories from new bloggers who have recently completed our free Ultimate Guide to Starting a Blog course. We hope they’ll inspire others as part of our International Start a Blog Day on February 7.

Today’s story comes from Jacob West, who started the blog Live Life Liberated. His blog questions social norms and traditional ways of thinking.

Jacob’s blog doesn’t tell you what to think or do. Instead, it provides a friendly and open-minded environment to discuss such topics and build a like-minded community.

Jacob’s tips on how to prepare, if you want to start a blog:
  • Ask friends for help. Share skills, learning curve, and success
  • Care about blog’s focus
  • Stay passionate. Always have goals to pursue
  • Be willing to work hard and plan for various tasks
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Darren: Hey there and welcome to Episode 271 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name’s Darren Rowse and I’m the founder of ProBogger, a blog podcast, ebooks, courses, and events that are all designed to help you to start a blog, and to grow that blog, and to build profit around that blog. Now, today, with are continuing our series of podcasts with stories from bloggers in their first year of blogging. These are all short stories and tips from participants in our free starter blog course, which we launched last year.

We’re sharing these in the hope that they will inspire others to start blogs as part of our International Start a Blog Day on the 7th of February. Each of the bloggers in these series will be sharing their story and some tips that they learned along the way, which will help those of you who are starting a blog. If you’ve been thinking about starting a blog, and we know a lot of listeners this podcast are thinking about starting a blog, or you know someone who’s thinking about starting a blog who should start a blog, head over to problogger.com/start-a-blog.

You’ll find our free seven-step course to help you through that process of getting a blog started and also some information on how to get involved on the International Start a Blog Day on the 7th of February. If you are listening to this after the 7th of February, that’s totally fine. You can still start a blog using our course. It’ll be there all year, so problogger.com/start-a-blog.

Now, today’s story comes from Jacob West, and he shares a short story that he submitted via video this week. He has a blog called Live Life Liberated, which you can find at livelifeliberated.com. He sent us in a video story. I’ll strip the audio out to use on the podcast today. You can find the full transcript of his story as well as a link back to his site on our show notes over at problogger.com/podcast/271. I’ll be back after he shares his story to pull out a few of the things that I noticed about what he shares. Here’s Jacob.

Jacob: Hey, everyone. My name’s Jake West. I just wanted to spend five minutes of your time to talk about my experience as a 2018 blogger. My site is Live Life Liberated at central URL, livelifeliberated.com. It’s a blog designed to question social norms, traditional ways of thinking, and a friendly, open-minded environment. It’s not really telling you what we think but more or less discussing, and so it’s very centered around the idea of having open debates, and commenting, and emailing between one another, and really just having a fair wondering of what’s really going on.

I started that in June 2018 so we’re on five months now. Essentially, the reason that I decided to start it because I had a group of friends and we would discuss these things a lot, and I couldn’t imagine that we were the only people wondering these things. I figured that we should make a blog that would create a community, create a friendly environment so that we could find more people that thought the same, or wanted to think the same, or whatever.

It’s been going really great. It’s been exactly what we had set it out for. We have been building more readers, a bigger community, and the swing of things have been going very, very well. I’d like to spend most of the time talking about tips because as prepared as I thought I was, I was not nearly as prepared as I definitely should have been. One of my main tips that I’d have if you’re thinking of starting a blog is to do it with people, preferably friends, because, for one, I thought web design was going to be very easy.

I thought it was mostly going to be laid out. It was not at all. One of my friends came in and they really set everything up for me and helped me learn do this and that. Together, he just made it possible. It would have taken five times as long without him. That’s the web design portion. There’s also the content writing because, eventually, you hit dry spots. It’s really nice to have some buddies of mine and, together, we made a weekly cycle of who was going to write for what week.

The workload’s never too much especially because, right now, I’m an undergrad. I thought it was going to be really hard to balance work or studying and then writing content but because of the flow and just the teamwork that we’ve had, it’s been really, really helpful and encouraging, too. It’s really nice to achieve something with people. It’s so much better to be able to hit a new reader number or get ad money which, by the way, is also something that I was not expecting but very cool.

I think we just got $50 after five months, which isn’t a lot, but it’s $50 more than I thought I had. That’s also a really cool part of running a blog. You also have to stay passionate and constantly try to pursue something more than you have. We’re always trying to redesign the site. We’re trying to find a new way to get more readers. I think these goals are good ways to keep yourself progressing and keep yourself loving it so I think that’s very key.

Personally, the way that you say passion is it’s something that you’re passionate about. You can’t write 20 or 30 posts about things you kind of care about; it’s really got to be something you care about and your group cares about, not just you. Lastly, you should be aware that it takes a lot of work and takes a lot of planning before. I was not that prepared and I wish I was, but by having a plan for logo, for web design, for ads, all these things, it really makes the workload and maintaining the blog a lot easier, and it just makes the whole process more fun and it’s less stressful.

Those are my four main tips. I hope you enjoyed it. Thank you.

Darren: Thanks so much, Jacob, for sharing your story with us today. Now, the main reason I wanted to share Jacob’s story today is that it is a little bit different to some of the others that you hear about in these series. Most of the other bloggers that we’re featuring in these series are solo bloggers. They’ve started their own blog. They’re the main contributor. They set it all up themselves. I love the fact that Jacob actually involved others in that journey.

Whilst you would go to his blog today and you’d see he’s the main writer on it, there’s certainly other voices there. As you’ve heard, he had others involved in the setting-up process. There’s a lot of good reasons for doing this. Firstly, you are able to share the load of setting it up. You’re going to involve other people who might have more experience than you in the technicalities of your blog but also, as he said, it really does help to share the load to keep fresh as a writer, as a communicator.

Also, I love that point that he made about celebrating the successes together, and that’s something that I’ve certainly enjoyed over the last few years as I have involved other people more in my blogging. When I started out, it was just me and I got a lot of joy out of my blog just being a solo blogger but, certainly, having others involved and celebrating those wins that you have along the way is that something that can be really encouraging and energizing as well.

If you are perhaps an old-time blogger or are listening to this, that is something that you might want to take on as well out of today’s podcast, perhaps involving some others in what you’re doing. Having the shared goals is something that is great. Also, I love his other points there of having something to pursue, having goals, having something that you are working towards. Again, this is something for as much for new bloggers as it is older bloggers, particularly those of you who are listening who have maybe been blogging for a year or two now.

It’s very easy to lose some of the passion that you have to lose your way and energy for your blog as well, and having those regular updates of goals is something really important. You might have had a goal of getting a blog started, but what’s your next goal going to be? Maybe you want to have a burst of trying to find new readers for your blog, or a burst of exploring a new social network that you can promote your blog on, or perhaps you need to start a new way of creating content, trying some video, or podcasting, or live video.

These are all things that can help to bring a little bit of energy back into your blog, and to have another goal, having something to pursue, will energize what you do. Having passion for what you blog about is something else that Jacob talked about, which I think is really important for those of you who are just starting out. As you think about the topic of your blog or the topics of your blog, make sure it is something that you will be able to sustain.

Then, lastly, his last tip there: It does take a lot of work. Whilst we try and break it down, starting a blog, into seven achievable steps in our course, it is going to take some work. You will need to put some time aside into it and then have ongoing time that you can put into your blog as well. If you are looking to start a blog, again, head over to problogger.com/start-a-blog, register for the course there. 7th of February is when we’re doing our International Start a Blog Day. That’s approaching pretty quick, and it may be achievable for some of you to be launched by then.

For others of you who aren’t launched by then, don’t let that put you off. Start the blog. Many of the bloggers that you hear from this week took a little bit longer to get going, and that’s totally fine. As Jacob says, it does take some work. The main thing is to get it launched at some point. It doesn’t need to be perfect when you are launched, but get involved in the process. Hopefully, you’ll find a lot of joy comes from the process as well.

Thanks for listening. Again, today’s show notes are at problogger.com/podcast/271. Stay tuned in the next few days, and we’ll have another blogger story for you.

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How Starting a Blog Helped Transform the Life of a Blogger

Happy New Year!

This first episode of 2019 launches a series of stories from new bloggers who started their blogs after completing our free Start a Blog course.

The course features seven steps, which makes it a perfect way to celebrate International Start a Blog Day on February 7.

The first story comes from Denise Bumby, who took our course last year and launched her Does Size Matter? blog about six months ago.

Denise was searching for a way to cope with changes in her life. And she found her way through blogging, which brings her joy and hope.

She may not have many subscribers yet, but that number is growing daily. And so is Denise.

Denise’s tips on how to boost your blog:
  • Consistently produce content
  • Use social media
  • Post content in various formats (videos, etc.)
  • Get mentioned on other blogs
  • Learn and implement affiliate marketing and sponsorship
  • Keep working. Don’t give up or get discouraged

Despite what you may think, anyone can start a blog – young or old, tech savvy or not. Blogging is for everyone.

So, are you ready to start a blog?

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Darren: Hey there and welcome to the first episode of the ProBlogger podcast for 2019. This is episode 270. You can find today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/270. ProBlogger is a site for bloggers and prebloggers, who today’s episode is particularly for. It’s all designed to help you to build and grow a blog that not only makes your reader’s life better in some way but also helps you to achieve your goals and bring you a little joy to your life as well. We’re going to hear a story today where that happens.

Today, we are launching another round of our bloggers’ stories. It’s a series that’s going to go for the next couple of weeks. They’re shorts stories from brand new bloggers. This series is all about starting a blog and hearing the stories of bloggers who started their blog over the last 12 months.

They all started their blogs as a result of doing our Start A Blog course, which we are currently really pushing hard because on the 7th of February, we’re running our International Start A Blog Day for the second year in a row. Last year, we ran International Start A Blog Day and hundreds of bloggers started a blog on that particular day.

As you’ll hear today, hundreds more started their blogs in the months afterwards. Some people needed a little bit more time. We want you to be a part of this year’s Start A Blog Day. Whether you are a blogger who’s about to start and you’ve been thinking about starting a blog or whether you know someone who should start a blog, we want you to encourage them to get involved. If you want to be a part of it or if you know someone who really does need to start a blog, our course is 100% free and it will help you to start that blog. You can find it at problogger.com/startablog.

Before I introduce you to today’s story, I want to pause for a moment and say Happy New Year. I know it’s three weeks into the new year and I should apologize for the delay in getting this episode out but I do want to start off by saying Happy New Year. The reason for the delay this year is that it’s been a bit of a tough year so far. In fact, last year was a little bit tough as well. Many of you I know have been following my Facebook profile and my personal profile where I shared recently a couple of posts about my own battles with depression over the last year and also the recent loss of a friend.

I wanted to mention those things here because I’m really aware that sometimes in the online space, we only talk about the good stuff, the highlights. I’m not sure how helpful that is for you as a listener to only hear the ups, the successes, the highlights, to see the good things that is going on. The reality is that sometimes life gets tough and there are good times to step back, to change things up, to take a break, to rest, and to heal.

That’s what I’ve been doing really over the last six or so months as I changed the structure of this podcast and the start of this year, particularly, with the sad news that we’ve had. I also wanted to mention that here because so many have left kind messages for me over the last couple of weeks, particularly, and I just want to pause and say thank you. I love our community. I only hope that I can offer a little encouragement and support back to you. So, Happy New Year. But for those of you that is not a happy new year, that it’s just a new year, or a sad new year, I feel your pain. Hang in there, you’re not alone, and I hope that things improve for you.

Okay, I’ve said I love that and I really do send my wishes to you today. But I also want to get on with today’s podcast and I’m going to move into today’s blogger story. I love this one. It’s a lovely story from Denise Bumby from a blog called Does Size Matter? which you can find at koryanddenise.com and I’m gonna link to it in today’s show notes if you want to check it out, and I encourage you to do. I encourage you to support these new bloggers that we are featuring in this series.

Denise took part in a course last year and as you’ll hear, she worked though it at her own pace. She didn’t make the International Start A Blog Day launch but she launched it about six months ago and she battled through the learning process and she shares her story today. It’s a short story and it goes for about five or so minutes, but I hope it is one that will warm your heart as much as it warmed mine. Here’s Denise.

Denise: My name is Denise Bumby and my blog’s name is Does Size Matter? We are a traveling RV review blog and we kind of just show things from our unique perspective. You can find us at koryanddenise.com. That’s kory with a K and denise dot com or on YouTube at youtube.com/doessizematter.

I started this blog because I was searching. I was at that stage in my life when there were a lot of changes and I wasn’t coping well. My only child had gone away to school, we had moved out of our childhood home, and the medical clinic where I was a nurse had closed, so I lost my job. I know the first two things are good things but I still felt some loss from them. I know many people can relate to this but even though change can be good, there’s still loss associated with it.

I had lost my identity as a mom, my purpose in the world as a nurse, and the familiarity of my home. Every night, Kory would come home to me sitting at the table crying. He would ask how he could help and all I could tell him was to just give me some time and I would find my way. I’d sit on my computer and read blogs, watch videos, and find myself starting to feel a little bit better. I wondered how can I do this, how can I continue to feel better, how could I be part of this blogging community.

I started to search until I found the ProBlogger course and then I started to learn new things with that. I worked through it at my own pace and I didn’t launch my site on the projected date with the others because I just needed to learn so much and I wanted to do it at a pace that I felt good with.

I went on in and I did finally launch my site in April and I put my first video out to the public in June. I went really slowly because I was that person in the office who cannot handle any new technology and I was always calling someone in to fix my computer and give me help. I truly learned everything from scratch, things most people just know I had to learn. So, along with my ProBlogger course, I searched everything and anything, a word, a step, anything I didn’t understand, the internet taught me how.

So now, six months after we went public, we have 454 subscribers. I know it’s small in the grand scheme of things but it’s growing everyday and more importantly, so am I. The main highlight of this past year is that I have created something that people are watching and reading and enjoying. I love the comments and the discussion that comes from all of this. I’ve actually created something.

When it comes to content creation, I find it super fun. I do lots of research, which I also like, on the places we go, the RVs we review. Some of them are really special and unique, and it’s just fun for me to do. We also like really helping people make their purchases or their plans of things they want to go or just giving them that little extra information they needed.

The other part of our blog is to show people that you just got to go out there and do the things you want to do and not just because there might be some blocks or something, you can find a way around it. You can do things. You just might have to do them a little bit differently and that’s okay.

When it came to finding readers, it’s been tough and I think that’s a pretty usual thing for newbies at this. But we just keep producing no matter what, we keep putting out content and we used lots of social media. We’ve had one video get over 19,000 views so we’re really proud of that. Then just another time randomly we ran into another blogger who mentioned us on his site and that gave us a boost as well. Every one of those boosts gives you a little bit of excitement and I need just keep moving forward and working harder and just keep producing consistent content.

As for community, there’s a lot of like-minded bloggers, YouTubers, RVers, et cetera. People that are interested in the same kinds of things that we’re interested in, whether they be new or very successful people, they’re also very kind, easy to talk to, and willing to share suggestions and advice or what’s worked for them. It’s a broad and supportive group. We enjoyed to contact and the guidance. Sometimes, we just get it through a Facebook group or email or where we’ve even been to group gatherings that were really helpful.

Next for me, I’ve got to go back and start all over with all my same trusted resources like ProBlogger, to learn and implement affiliate marketing and sponsorship. I can’t wait to see how this goes. What I do know is that it’s a whole other set of learning that I need to do. But I’m confident now that I will be able to handle this and I’ll be able to implement it into my site. So check back with me next year and see how much I made.

My biggest tip is just keep working and learning. Even when it seems so above your head, the answers are out there. If you find some good, trusted resources that you can follow along with in a place like ProBlogger that has so many things, posts to read, podcast to listen to, there is just a wealth of information there. I just keep going to those places, looking for the information, learning it, and then learning how to implement it.

Blogging seems like it’s only for the young or the computer geeks. But it can be for anybody. It can be for you, too. Don’t get discouraged by foreign things and hard work. Now, when Kory comes home, I’m too busy to be crying at the table because I truly have found my way.

Darren: Thank you so much, Denise. I really appreciate you sharing your story with me and our community today. I wanted to share this story as the first one today because it kind of touched a nerve with me in some way. It’s a representative of the stories that I hear from many readers of ProBlogger. Whether you’re brand new in blogging or whether you’ve been blogging for a while, I hear this story again and again from people about how blogging has a potential to bring joy and hope and purpose to people’s lives.

This is my own experience in the early days of starting a blog. I started my blog on impulse, not knowing what I was doing, not really understanding what a blog was at all. But there’s something about the constant creation of content, the building of community with my readers. Those interactions that I had, the development of my ideas and the sharing of my experiences, putting those things out into the world, it not only became an income and became success in terms of the numbers, but it brought hope and it brought life to me. It changed my life in numerous ways on a more personal level.

Whilst you might listen to stories like Denise’s and say, “Well, she’s only got a small number of readers or a small number of subscribers or she’s not yet making an income.” What I actually hear in the story is the story of someone who has already had her life change through blogging. She’s gone from a time of sadness and that’s part of all of our lives, I certainly understand that, but blogging has actually brought her through that and has given her something else, and added something else into her life.

I wanted to share that and this story for that reason mainly, but I also love her tips. Her tips of keep working, keep learning, don’t give up, there’s always something new to learn in blogging. Whether you are just starting out or you’re about to start your blog, you’re about to enter into a steep learning curve if you’re just starting out. But don’t be scared about that. There’s plenty of great resources out there and there’s plenty of support out there for new bloggers as well.

But if you’re listening to this and you’ve been blogging for a while but you’re about to start monetizing for the first time like Denise is, or whether you are thinking about moving from one blogging platform to another, or exploring a new medium, keep learning. The learning curve gets steep from time to time. Keep producing content, keep learning, keep serving your readers, and don’t give up.

Lastly, I love that Denise said that blogging is for everyone. Often, people think blogging is just for young people. The reality is, as I look at our audience, our audience is actually older than you might expect. I don’t have the stats right in front of me but the vast majority of ProBlogger readers are my age—I’m 46—or are older, there’s quite a few. We do have younger readers as well but it’s certainly isn’t just a young person’s game.

Denise took her time. She doesn’t feel super techy but she learnt what she needed to do and she got through it. Denise took her time going through the course and if you are wanting to start the course, you can go to problogger.com/startablog. You’ll see that we’ve outlined the course in seven steps. We see some of our students right through those steps in seven days. Some people who’ve got the time, maybe a little bit of experience, or maybe some support, they go through it in seven days. Some even go through it in a shorter period. But many of our students do take longer and that’s totally fine.

If you make our 7th of February International Start A Blog Day, then that’s great. But if you take a little longer, you’re still part of the family and most importantly, you too can have that life-changing experience of starting your blog.

Today’s show notes are at problogger.com/podcst/270. We’ve got all the links there to Denise’s blog, also to the Start A Blog course, or you could go there directly at problogger.com/startablog. We’ll also be promoting it around the site at the moment, particularly going to lead up to the 7th of February. I do encourage you to take that step. Sign up and get involved. We are doing some support on our Facebook pages as well at the moment. I really can’t wait to see the new blogs that come out of this year’s batch of students to go through Start A Blog course. 

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How a Blogger Uses Pinterest to Boost His Following

Welcome to the final episode of our Blogger Breakthroughs series. Today we share a story from Rowan Sims, Digital Photography School writer and ProBlogger podcast listener.

Rowan’s also a landscape and travel photographer who uses his blog to teach readers how to improve their photography, as well as share his photo adventures and location guides.

The biggest challenges he faced with blogging were being inconsistent and not attracting the right audience.

So he switched his blog’s focus from just sharing photography to teaching it as well.

He’s also written some guest posts. Don’t underestimate the power of guest blogging. It’s about more than just link building.

Another breakthrough for Rowan was discovering the power of Pinterest. It’s become Rowan’s largest source of referral traffic.

Rowan has used various tools and social media sites to promote his photography, but Pinterest needed a different approach and was a steep learning curve.

No matter what your niche is, Rowan has suggestions on how to optimize Pinterest for best results:
  • Set up a Pinterest business account and review your Pinterest insights/analytics to know what’s working and help identify your target audience
  • Create attractive pins
  • Use Tailwind to drip feed pins and create tribes

Pinterest is one option, but experiment with different platforms to figure out what works best for you.

Rowan’s blogging breakthroughs have not only helped increase his traffic, but has brought him the right traffic. People are genuinely interested in what he has to say and share.

Links and Resources for How Rowan Grew His Pinterest Following to More Than 300,000 in Two Months: Further Listening Courses

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Darren: Hey there and welcome to episode 269 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse. I’m the founder of ProBlogger which started out as a blog with lots of blog tips and has become a blog, a podcast, ebooks, courses, and a job board as well to help bloggers to find jobs. There’s a lot on ProBlogger. You can check it all out at problogger.com where we really are about trying to help bloggers to monetize their blogs.

Today is the final episode in our blogger breakthrough series. We may do this again in the future because I’ve had a lot of really great feedback on the stories that we’ve been featuring. I’m going to get back to a noble flow of things next week. But today, I want to share with you a story from Rowan Sims. Rowan actually is a writer over on Digital Photography School. I didn’t realize he was also a listener of this podcast. You hear at the end, he worked his way back through all of the archives of the podcast—all 269 episodes. He may be up there as one of the most avid listeners of the podcast.

He submitted his story of how he grew his blog. He took his blog from fairly inconsistent blogging, he switched his focus, and he shares two strategies that he used to help grow his traffic particularly Pinterest. He gives some good tips on driving traffic with Pinterest as well. He actually submitted a short 4 ½-minute story and then I asked him to submit a few more tips so you will a bit of a change in the audio—that’s kind of part two coming in halfway along where he gets to be a bit more practical about Pinterest.

Before I introduce you or put Rowan onto you, I do want to mention a little personal project that I’ve been playing around with, and that is a new podcast. This is not just a podcast with me, it’s actually a podcast with Vanessa, my wife, and my three boys. We’ve been talking for a while now about having a family podcast and also, we’re not completely sure how it’s going to roll out completely. We don’t even know what the name will be down the track. We’re calling it the Rowse Report at the moment. It is, at this moment, a one pilot show. It’s about what we’re reading, what we’re watching, what we’re listening to, what we’re playing.

We each have a little segment where we talk about the books, the podcast, what we’re watching on Netflix, what movies we enjoy, what games we might be playing. I’ve got plans for a few episodes. We’re just putting it out there at the moment. If you’d like to have a listen to that, there’s not actually a website for it yet, but you will be able to find the latest episode linked to either on my Facebook page—facebook.com/problogger or I will link to it in today’s show. We are hosting it on the Anchor platform and it should go up in iTunes as well in the next week or two. You might want to do a search there for Rowse Report.

Anyway, you can find it all on today’s show notes. The show notes also will have transcription of today’s story as well as some links that Rowan mentions in the show. He mentions a couple of tools that you might want to check out and then an article that he has written as well. I’m going to hand over to Rowan and I’m going to come back at the end just to wrap things up and give a few thoughts of my own and suggest a couple of things that you might want to do as a result of what you hear. Here’s Rowan.

Rowan: Hi guys. My name is Rowan and I’m a blogger and photographer from New Zealand. My blog name is Rowan Sims Photography and you can find me at rowansims.com. I started my blog back in 2010 so it’s been about eight years. I’m a landscape and travel photographer, so I use my blog to teach my readers how to improve their photography. I also use it to share my photo adventures and location guides.

My audience is mainly beginner to intermediate photographers. As I said, I’ve been blogging for about eight years, but really inconsistently. I’ve seen some small success with a few posts getting some serious traffic. In the past, I use my blog mainly to share my travel and landscape photography with a little monetization from some affiliate products.

My biggest challenge is with being consistent and tracking the right audience. There have been periods of every year when I didn’t blog at all. The little audience I did have completely forgot about me. I also found that the search traffic that was coming to my blog was basically just leaving. Visitors weren’t interested in subscribing or following me on social media once they have found what they were looking for. I’ve built up a small email list and social media following but not enough to drive traffic to my blog.

I’ve had a couple of big breakthroughs this year. At the end of 2007, my girlfriend and I decided to spend some time in Australia after living in Canada for a couple of years. She’s also a travel blogger and have had some similar struggles to me, so we decided to make the most of the fresh start and really focus on our blogs in 2018. I also decided to shift the focus of my blog from just sharing my photography to teaching others as well.

One of the things I decided to work on was guest posting. I’ve written a couple of guest post in the past, but never really pushed it. To start with, I approached Digital Photography School which I’m sure you’ve heard Darren talk about on this podcast. They were happy to have me write for them, so I submitted an article. That first post was really well received which was a huge encouragement for me.

The second breakthrough I’ve had this year was discovering the power of Pinterest for driving traffic. I’ve used Pinterest inconsistently for a few years and it’s a personal use. I’ve never really seen it as a tool for promoting my photography or my blog. I thought it was really just for moms sharing recipes. I decided to take another look at it this year, so I switched to a business account and I’ve a whole another profile. I really had no idea how powerful Pinterest could be for bloggers. Pinterest has become my largest source of referral traffic in just a few months.

Learning how to use Pinterest for business was a pretty steep learning curve. It’s such a unique platform. I’ve used many tools and social media sites to promote my photography over the years, but Pinterest required a very different approach. Fortunately, as a blogger, I’ve had a ton of visual content which Pinterest is all about. This meant that I was able to hit the ground running with a decent amount of content that I could optimize for Pinterest and experiment with.

There are a few things that I did which I think set me up well on a path to seeing results from Pinterest. Every blogger is going to use it differently, but I think these things are going to be useful no matter what your niche.

The first thing I’d recommend is setting up a business account, as I mentioned. This may sound obvious, but I didn’t realize the value of it until I did it myself. There aren’t a ton of differences between a regular account and a business account but the biggest one for me has been Pinterest Insights. If you’re anything like me, you probably spend a lot of time looking at your analytics. I probably spend way too much time in there, but it pays off if you know what to look for.  Pinterest Insights are incredibly powerful, and they can help you in a couple of ways. Firstly, you’ll see what’s working and also, you’ll see where your target audience is. It’s pretty different than Google Analytics, so don’t expect to be able to understand it straight away. But give it sometime and I’m pretty sure you’ll see the value in it for sure.

The second thing that really helped me was to create really attractive pins. Again, this sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed how many pins I see everyday that have had virtually no thought going to them at all. It’s a visual platform so learning to create beautiful pins is an absolute must. I’m not a designer by any means so my pins are pretty basic. I’ve created templates in photoshop to make it easy to create new pins for each post. I switch up the photos and text and it’s done in just a few minutes. If that sounds way over your head, there are free tools like Canva that make it super simple. This was a process of experimentation and it still is. Some of my templates get a lot of engagement and the ones that get little just gets scrapped. I regularly try new fonts and overlays to see what works best. I’m a prolific experimenter and that’s served me really well, so I encourage you to do the same.

The third thing that’s really made a big difference in growing my Pinterest account is actually another tool called Tailwind. You may have heard of it. It’s a tool that makes scheduling and repining really simple. One of the unique things about Pinterest is that you need to be very active to see results. But bombarding your followers with a ton of pins each time you visit doesn’t work. Tailwind allows you to drip feed your pins over the day so they’re more likely to be seen by your followers. It also has a fantastic feature called Tribes which encourages members to re-pin other member’s content. It’s really effective and it’s been super helpful for me especially considering I have a relatively small following.

I actually wrote a whole post about how I grew my account from about 1000 views a month to over 300,000 in only about two months. It’s written for photographers, but the principles are valid no matter what niche you’re in.

The biggest advantage of these two breakthroughs is that I’m not only getting a lot more traffic, it’s the right kind of traffic. People who are visiting my blog because they’re genuinely interested in what I have to say, they’re sticking around longer, and are subscribing.

In the last six months, I’ve more than doubled the email list that I’ve built over the last four years. I’ve also been given a few opportunities as a result of writing for other photography blogs. I’m getting in front of a much larger audience and building a larger profile as a result. Getting to where my target audience and guest posting there has been one of the best things I could have ever done for my blog.

What I want to say to listeners is don’t underestimate the power of guest posting. It’s about so much more than just link building. If you can write for blogs that have a bigger audience than your own, some of their audience will inevitably become some of your audience. The second thing I would say is keep experimenting with various tools and platforms. It might be something you’ve tried in the past and decided isn’t for you. Test out new stuff but be careful about dismissing the old stuff. You never really know what might work for you.

That’s it. Before I go, I just wanted to say a huge thanks to Darren. I spent the last few months listening to the entire back catalog of the ProBlogger podcast. It’s been insanely helpful. Every time I listen, I get inspired. I’ve learned so much. I’m sure I probably would’ve given up by now if it wasn’t for you sharing your knowledge and passion. Both of your blogs, ProBlogger and Digital Photography School had been hugely helpful for me, so thank you very much.

Darren: Thanks so much to Rowan for sharing his story today. You can find his site at rowansims.com. I have a link to the article that he mentioned on his advice on Pinterest in the show notes today as well. You can find that show notes at problogger.com/podcast/269.

I love this story for a couple of reasons. One, Rowan has found for himself the reality that guest posting isn’t dead. Guest posting was huge five or so years ago now. Most people were using it to build their search engine traffic, getting links from other sites, but Google cracked down on this and so those links aren’t as valuable as they used to be than what really valuable at all. As a result, a lot of people gave up on guest posting.

I’ve long argued that there was more to guest posting than just the links. Certainly, the links were helpful but getting in front of other people’s audiences is something that is well worth doing, particularly, if it’s the right type of traffic, the right type of audience. Rowan talked there about how he targeted where his audience was, and he focused on those places to build profile. He did that through Digital Photography School which is the perfect audience for him if he wants to teach people how to do photography. We’ve heard time and time again from our writers that it’s a benefit for them to do that purely for the traffic that they get and that the profile, the expertise that they’re able to build on their particular topic.

Guest posting isn’t dead, I’m going to link in the show notes today to a previous episode on guest posting if you want to check that one out. It’s one the early episode that I did right towards the beginning of this podcast, back in episode 37. If you want to dig back and have a listen to that, it’s on iTunes. Some of those early episodes, I should say, on iTunes have probably disappeared at some point because I think there’s a limit of 300 episodes that I can show you at a time, and we are approaching that point. We’re at 269, so in another 31 episodes, the first episodes will disappear. You might want to go back and listen to those early episodes if you haven’t already. That’s just a little side.

The other thing that I love that Rowan found for himself is that Pinterest is a great way of driving traffic. Every time I meet bloggers, I meet people who are using Pinterest in really interesting ways as well. They always tell that they’re surprised about how their topic works on Pinterest. Photography is a topic that works on Pinterest. I’ve seen topics like motorbikes, gardening, fashion. I’ve seen technology boards do really well. There really isn’t a limit since some of those stereotypical niches that you might think do well on Pinterest certainly do work, but it’s a lot broader than you might think. Great tips there from Rowan.

I do plan on doing an episode in the coming months hopefully before the end of the year on Pinterest as well because I’ve met some good people on that particular topic. Do get into that article that Rowan mentioned. I will link to it in the show notes today. Also, check out those tools that he mentioned. I’ll link to those in the show notes too. There’s Canva which you’ll find at canva.com and tailwindapp.com. That’s the tool that enables you to schedule into Pinterest your pins. Check out Pinterest. I think Pinterest is a great one because Pinterest really does rely upon content.

A lot of bloggers have found the hard way that Facebook has changed their algorithms a lot and that’s because they don’t really need content on Facebook. Facebook’s much more than people sharing links, it’s about people having conversations, and people watching video, and people engaging in communities, so it’s not really in Facebook’s best interest to allow us to share links that lead people off Facebook.

The whole point of Pinterest is that people go there to find content. They actually reward people who create great content. I do think it is a platform that is well worth checking out if you haven’t already. As Rowan says, it’s well worth revisiting. We actually are in the process of probably having a full look at Pinterest for Digital Photography School in particular. We’ve never quite cracked it but based on some of the advice that I received over the last few months, we’re going to give it another go. That’s high on our agenda for 2019. I’m interested to see if we can replicate some of the results that Rowan got being in a similar niche to him.

Anyway, I’m going to leave it at that. Again, you can find today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/269. You’ll find the link there to out family podcast as well, if you do want to have a listen to that. It’s called the Rowse Report. Anchor is slowly adding it all in the different podcasting app.

At the point I’m recording this, it’s not on iTunes yet, but is on Anchor and I think also on Pocket Casts. But hopefully, it will all be added in the coming days and weeks as well. Just search for Rowse Report or check out the show notes. I would love to know what you think about it and we would love any suggestions you’ve got for a name for that podcast as well. Have a listen and see what you think. I do think that the stars of the show will be my kids though, so you might want to have a listen to that. It’s kind of funny seeing your seven-year-old talk about a book that he’s reading. Anyway, I’m going to leave it at that. You can check that one out. I’ll chat with you next week where we’re coming back to our normal schedule called Podcasting at ProBlogger. Thanks for listening. Chat with you next week.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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The post 269: How Rowan Grew His Pinterest Following to More Than 300,000 in Two Months appeared first on ProBlogger.

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The post 268: How Anita Diversified Her Blogging Income and Depended Less On Page Views appeared first on ProBlogger.

How a Blogger Expanded Her Income Streams and Engaged Readers in a New Way

As a blogger, do you feel like you’re on a hamster wheel? Do you need to continually feed the machine to keep your blog generating traffic and income?

We continue our Blogger Breakthroughs series with Anita Joyce, who experienced the same problem with her Cedar Hill Farmhouse blog.

Anita was working non-stop on her blog. She didn’t even have time to go to the grocery store or relax with her family.

But the income from her blog was tied to page views, so she needed a breakthrough.

Anita shares what she did to diversify her income streams and engage her readers in a new way. She started a podcast that turns listeners into friends, and a store that provides relevant products and valuable content for her audience.

Anita has some tips to share with you:
  • Survey your audience to find out what they want from you and what you want to give them
  • Partner with others to gain expertise in areas you need covered
  • Don’t give up if you fail. Focus on your failures and learn from your mistakes

When something isn’t working with your blog, try something new to diversify traffic sources and income streams. That way, if something does go wrong it increases your income and puts you in a better position to survive.

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Darren: Hello there friends. Welcome to episode 268 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind ProBlogger. A blog that’s dedicated to really helping you to start an amazing blog, to grow the traffic of that blog, to grow an income from that blog, and to help your readers in some way as well.

You can find more about ProBlogger and what we do at problogger.com. You might also, while you’re there, check out our two free course. I have one free course, How to Start a Blog, and our other paid course, 31 Days to Build A Better Blog. Particularly check out that Start a Blog course if you are looking to get going with blogging.

Now today, we’re continuing our series all of blogger breakthrough stories and we’ve got Anita Joyce from cedarhillfarmhouse.com. She’s got a great story that I think is going to really connect with many of you because she shares a problem that many bloggers have–that feeling of being on the hamster wheel with your blog.

Have you ever felt like you’ve built a blog and you may have built some traffic, you may have built some income, but to keep generating that income, you need to keep feeding the machine? This is something that Anita talks about to her realized that her blog was very dependent upon page views and shares a story of what she did about that to diversify her income streams and to engage with her readers in a new way.

So really some really practical things. I want to come back at the end of what Anita talks about to really share some of my own story with these as well and to give you a little bit of further reading because Anita’s story is going to relate really well to some of you, but there are some ways that you can apply what she’s talking about in different ways and I want to highlight some of those at the end of the show.

Now you can find today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/268. I’ve got some further reading and some further listening for you today. I’ll mention those things at the end of Anita’s story. So thanks Anita for sharing. Again, you can find her at cedarhillfarmhouse.com.

Anita: Hi, I’m Anita Joyce from Houston, Texas. My blog is called Cedar Hill Farmhouse named after our farm in Round Top, Texas. You can find it at www.cedarhillfarmhouse.com.

I started my blog in March of 2011 and it’s about country French interior design. Before my breakthrough, I was working nonstop on my blog. I didn’t have time to go to the grocery store or spend time with my family. It felt like a big hamster wheel to produce the content, and then promote my blog. My traffic was about 250,000 page views a month which you know, it’s not a large number, but it really was enough for me to work with, and it was providing me with good opportunities and good income.

It was opening doors for me so I did get a book deal and my book is actually in its second edition now. My blog has definitely been working for me. I’ve been in over 25 national magazines mostly in the US, but also in Italy and France, and I was one of the winners of the Dash and Albert rug design challenge last year. I got to design a rug with them that will be released later this year and that’s an opportunity that I would have never gotten without my blog.

The problem with my blog was that I was working nonstop and my income was so tied to page views. As you probably know, page views for so many blogs are going down and so this is a real issue if your income is tied to page views. I felt like I was needing a new source of income so that I wasn’t so dependent on page views. Basically, I wanted off the hamster wheel and this is why I decided I felt like I needed a breakthrough.

My breakthrough came in two different ways. The first thing I did was I started a podcast on decorating called, Decorating Tips and Tricks with my friends Kelly Wilkniss and Yvonne Pratt and you can find that on iTunes or at our website www.decoratingtipsandtricks.com. The podcast really helped us connect on a much deeper level with listeners and readers. They often tell us they feel like they’re hanging out with us or they feel like they’re hanging out with friends over coffee when they listen to their podcast. I hope they feel like I’m their friend because I feel like I am.

We get about 140,000 downloads a month right now. What I’m seeing is every month, we get more and more downloads. So as podcasts are gaining, it seems like blogs are losing readers. I think it’s really kind of a nice place to be looking if you haven’t looked at podcasts. I think it’s really worth your time. The second breakthrough happened when Kelly and I—my podcast host and I—opened an online home decor store this year called Bespoke Decor and you can find that at www.bespoke.store.

We wanted to provide a product or service for listeners that would really be of value. Not just something that would provide us with income, but something that we knew they would love and something that would make their lives better. I knew from a reader survey that I had done, that over 90% of my listeners and readers, people who responded to my survey were saying they were interested in buying home decor products from me. I had a much smaller number say that they were interested in purchasing a decorating course from us. So that really told us where to start and we may do some decorating courses later, but I felt like the products was really the place for us to start.

So breakthrough one was starting a podcast, breakthrough two starting an online store–these were two pretty big things that we’ve done recently. How things have changed since the breakthrough is that my income stream has changed in a big way. So now a big chunk of my income source is from our store. We still have sponsors, I still have sponsors from my podcast, from the blog and there’s an ad income, but this is a whole new source and it’s not so dependent on page views, and really, you develop this core group of customers and they often are repeat customers.

The first month of business for our store, we sold about 700 pillows. We were so excited. It’s a great start and we really see so much opportunity for this business to grow over time. Although the shop is really time consuming, I feel like I’ll be able to delegate some things pretty soon. With blogging, I really didn’t feel like I could delegate much because my readers could really sense when I wasn’t there and when other people were filling in for me. I think that’s normal with a personal blog but with the store, I don’t feel like it’s so necessary for me to be involved in every little aspect.

The other thing is I now have a business partner for the shop, Kelly, and so it’s wonderful that she does so much of the work and helps out so much. So I’m not doing everything myself like I am with my blog. This fall, we are really taking Darren’s advice. He said in a previous podcast episode of ProBlogger that, “Rather than spending so much time with other bloggers, we should spend time with potential readers or listeners.” Tomorrow, I’m headed out with Kelly of Bespoke Decor and we’re going to the Round Top Antique Show.

This is a huge event in Texas. There’s about 100,000 people that show up for every and there’s two shows a year. We’re so excited to be going there and we’re really hoping to meet a bunch of new people and hopefully, kind of find out what they’re looking for, get to know them, get to talk to them and I’m hoping that we’ll get some people signed up for our newsletter for the shop and subscribe to the podcast. So it’s an exciting time for us. Thanks Darren, what a great tip. We’re really looking forward to it.

I have two tips that I want to share with you. One is to survey your readers or listeners and find out what they want from you in the way of products or services. And at the same time, really think about what you want to provide for them, and then wherever those to intersect, that is going to be your sweet spot. That’s where you can really provide something that your readers want and something that you want to provide.

The second tip is to partner with others if you don’t have expertise in an area that you need covered. Kelly and I really can’t be selling all of these pillows and the bedding and everything. It’s just far too much for us to do and it’s not although I sew, it’s very different sewing the kind of volume that we need. We partnered with a great company to do the manufacturing of our pillows and bedding. We do the designing, selling, photography and marketing and we really let them do what they’re best at, sewing our textile products like our pillows and are bedding. I feel like it’s important not to spend too much time trying to improve on areas where you know you don’t excel and I think that really can waste your time. So stick with your strengths and hire the rest out.

One more thing I’d like to share with you is not to give up if you fail and not to even think it’s a bad thing when you fail. I feel like that is so important for learning. That’s where we learn is when we’re making mistakes and I feel like it’s so important to really spend time thinking about when you’ve made a mistake what is it that you can improve.

I know I submitted my home to the magazine on the first time, my first try to a magazine I got a very polite, “Thanks, but no thanks.” and it was clear that they had no interest in my photography or my decorating. I really spent a lot of time thinking about, “What’s wrong with this picture? Why did they not want it?” I looked at their magazine, I looked at my picture, and I really had to admit that my picture really stunk. It really was helpful for me to take an honest look at my work and say, “I need to improve.”

After that experience, I really focused on improving my photography, improving my decorating skills and it paid off. All of that hard work, all that focus on improving paid off. Like I said, I’ve been in over 25 magazines and had five covers. I think it’s important to really focus on your failures and seeing how you can improve. Remember, I mean it’s a good thing to do. I think this is where you’re learning.

And not only have I been featured in magazines, I also have a column on interior design in the Round Top Register and our podcast actually has a column on decorating in the Country Sampler seasonal magazines. I hope that that gives you some encouragement to keep trying, don’t give up, and don’t even think that failure is a bad thing. Enjoy your blog, enjoy the ride and thanks so much for listening, and thanks Darren for having me on ProBlogger. I appreciate it so much. Take care.

Darren: Thanks so much Anita for sharing your story today. As I said at the top of the show, I think this is something that many of us can relate to. I certainly could as I heard Anita talking. Now for Anita, she felt kind of trapped, I guess, by the model that she was using of monetizing her blog, very reliant upon advertising, sponsorship which particularly when you’re doing it with advertising networks as I was in nearly days is very dependent upon page views.

There are some things that you can do to grow your income without increasing your page views particularly in the early days of using advertising. For example, you can put more ads on your page or you can position the ads on your page differently. But once you get that optimization of your ads dialed in, the only real wide to grow your income is to get more page views. This presents a real challenge both because there’s a ceiling I guess for many of us in how many page views we can get and many bloggers kind of run into that issue but is also a danger if you can’t maintain your page views.

This is something I ran into early on in my blogging. Just after I went full time with my blogging, I was relying upon Google to send me most of my traffic, and I was relying upon AdSense to monetize my blog. When one day my search traffic disappeared overnight, my traffic plummeted, but also my income did as well. I realized that I was too dependent upon this one single source of traffic but also this one single source of income.

This is something that many bloggers run into whether it be a disappearing traffic from search or whether it be from another source, maybe Facebook has been decreasing the amount of traffic it sends to you as it has for most bloggers. How are you going to maintain that income that you might have been generating if you’re so dependent upon page views? What do you do in that situation? Really, Anita has given you a couple of really great keys here.

She’s done it in quite a specific why and what I want to say, as I kind of mentioned at the top of the show, is that you can take the same principles that Anita did, and you can apply them in different ways for you. Now, you might be thinking, “I don’t want to start a podcast. I don’t want to start an online store.” Well, there’s other ways that you can apply these. What do you need to do? You need to do something new and that’s the key for me. You need to diversify in different ways.

I actually wrote a mini series of blog posts back a few years ago now and I’ll link to them in the show notes where I tell my own journey with this and I talk about that experience of losing all my traffic overnight and what I did about it. What I did about it was two things: firstly, I diversified my traffic sources, and secondly, I diversified my income streams. I tell how I do those things in these articles which I’ll link to in the show notes.

In some ways, it’s exactly what Anita did too. Anita started a new podcast which increased her numbers. Now she has page views and downloads. She’s got increased numbers and this allows her to monetize in the same model that she was already using with advertising and sponsorships in a new way by increasing her numbers. This is great, it enables her to continue to grow that advertising income but also as she mentions by starting a podcast has deepened her relationship with her existing audience.

The audience now feel like they’re spending time with her and this has been my experience too with this very podcast every time I meet ProBlogger readers and listeners now, it’s the listeners of the podcast who feel a deeper connection with me. We’re actually going to do an episode in a couple episodes time with the guys at PodcastMotor to talk about podcasting if that’s something that you want to get into as well. Podcasting is just one way of increasing your numbers.

There’s a variety of other ways that you can increase your pageviews, your reader numbers, your reach, I guess. It might be starting a video channel, it might be by doing more on live video, it might be looking at new traffic sources like Pinterest or Instagram, or reaching your audience in a new way. I talked about some of those in the article in the show notes today.

The second thing that Anita did was that she diversified her income streams. This is again what I did as well. I didn’t start an online store where I sold physical products like Anita did. She did it that way because that related to her audience.

I did it by creating eBooks, by starting to work with partners as an affiliate for their products. Again, you can read more about how I did it. But the key is to realize that there are more ways to monetize your blog than just with the model that you are currently using. For Anita, it was expanding beyond advertising and sponsorships and adding these are new income stream is again another way of diversifying what she has done.

Now, it’s worth noting that Anita mentioned she still has her advertising revenue. It’s not about switching tracks completely from one revenue source to another, it’s by building a second income stream and this strengthens her business. This puts her in a better position to survive if something goes wrong with that first income stream. For example, if traffic drops, if the bottom falls out in the advertising revenue that she has, if that one stream of income is impacted by seasonal ups and downs, by adding a second, by adding a third or even a fourth income stream, it sets you up with a stronger business to see it through those ups and downs in business.

Again for me, I added new income streams. For me it was about not just relying upon AdSense, but working directly with sponsors, building my own products, running events, adding a job board. Today, I’ve got 11 or 12 different income streams. It didn’t happen overnight, but by adding in gradually over time new income streams, I have built a stronger business. I still do run AdSense on my first blog. I didn’t get rid of it, but I’ve added new things into it as well.

Great tips there from Anita. I really do appreciate those things. The other things that she mentioned there was to get to know you readers. She did surveys, she’s gone to events to meet her readers, to spend time with them. This understanding of your readers enables you to monetize better. It enables you to drive traffic in different ways. It enables you to make decisions about whether you should start a store or sell courses or do both, this is so important.

The other tip that she mentions there is to partner with others. She did that in a couple of ways in the story. She partnered with Kelly I think it was to do a podcast and to create that online store. But also she partnered with another organization who could create some of the products that she sold. You don’t have to do it all. Again, this is something I’ve learned over the years as well. I would create all the products that I’ve created in eBooks and courses because I’ve partnered with other people to create those products with them.

All the eBooks that we sell on Digital Photography School were written by other people and we designed them. We put them in our store and we share the revenue of those things. I didn’t have to create 30 different courses and eBooks. I was able to partner with other people to grow does new income streams.

Lastly, that last piece of advice is just so good, “Don’t worry when you fail. Don’t give up when you fail. Learn from it. Tweak your approach moving forward, improve, keep going forward.” Part of the process of diversifying means that you’re definitely going to try some things that aren’t going to work. You’re going to try some you traffic sources, you might try new medium, you might try new income stream. It may not work or it may not work perfectly when you first started, that’s okay. What did you learn? How could you evolve what you tried and what else could you try?

There’s so many different things that you can learn from trying new things. Some of those things will work really well, I’m sure of it. There’s been times where I’ve tried new things and they’ve worked literally overnight. I remember adding a new ad network at one point and that was called Chitika. It literally doubled my income overnight for my advertising revenue and it was amazing. But there were other times where I tried new ad networks and they didn’t work. In fact, they..

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