In 2014, this Blog, Socially Sorted, was announced as the Best Business Blog in Australia for the 2014 Best Australian Blogs Competition with the Australian Writer's Centre (sponsored by Random House). To say that I am humbled and grateful would be an understatement.
To celebrate, I compiled a list of the blogging tips or ” blogging mantras” that I had learned from blogging mentors since starting this blog in 2011. These strategies are so helpful that you should really tattoo them on your own blog.
To find out more about the awesome finalists and winners of the Best Australian Blog Competition 2014, click here.
I have been a lucky little duck. I have been friends with, personally mentored by or completed programs with a number of successful and super-savvy marketing and blogging experts.
Yep. Lucky Duck.
So, I am sharing 11 blogging tips that I live by… mantras if you will, that have been inspired by these mentors.
These “words-to-blog-by” are so important for me and my blog that I really should tattoo them on every page and post on my blog. I haven't of course, but these mantras lie beneath every piece of content I post. My implementation of them is not perfect, and that's ok. They are kind of “grow with me” mantras that evolve over time.
In fact, they are so crucial to a successful blog that I want you to tattoo them to something in a virtual (or real) sense – to your blog, wall, pin board, to-do list – what ever works.
Of course you can tattoo them to something more permanent but I think that you and I both know that it would be OTT and way toooooo permanent to tattoo them to a body part. So please don't. Maybe choose something more appropriate (and “evergreen”) like the names of your kids or some uber-cool design that you won't regret in 5 years…or 50.
Every one of these tips contributed to this blog winning Best Business Blog in Australia 2014. And they can contribute to the success of your business blog too!
Here they are:
12 Mantras Worthy of Tattooing on Your Blog
#1 Build Content First
There are many things I could say about content. We have heard them all before, but I want to strip it all back to the most basic advice; advice given to me by one of my first Blogging Mentors, Nikki Parkinson from Styling You. Advice about content.
Side note: Nikki was the overall winner of the 2011 Best Blogs in Australia competition, so she clearly knows her stuff.
A couple of years ago, Nikki sat me down (we were standing but “sat me down” sounds more impressive) at our son's soccer practice and told me to focus on my blog.
Not social media, not likes, or fans, or followers. My blog.
She also told me to just start writing. Create content. And not to worry too much about anything else – but to find my voice and start blogging…
And in an interview I did with her later for Social Fresh, Nikki reminded me to Build Content First, forget all the “bells and whistles” and stop panicking about stats and SEO.
As Nikki pointed out:
“It means nothing unless you have great content on your blog, so start with building content first. Too many people want to start now and get there tomorrow, with regards to building a large, dedicated following. It takes time” – Nikki Parkinson
I would suggest that you check out Nikki's blog at Styling You for for 3 things:
- the written content – Nikki writes in a conversational style and she knows how to create content that is useful and entertaining for her readers.
- the community. Find a blog post and go to the comment section. Enough said. Nikki “leaves no comment un-replied to” and the action happens on her blog more than any other platform (although pretty much all of her platforms are getting a lot of action too nowadays).
- the quality images – Nikki rarely, if ever, uses stock images – she takes all of her own photos and uses simple image editing tools to add text overlays and headings. She is not a designer but uses the tools available to her to create some great designs! I have always been inspired by her use of quality photos and simple design. It's still content that helps and inspires – just in a visual format.
You will do yourself a favour if you take a look at Nikki's blog and think about how she uses words, images and watch her community. Oh on the topic of community, check out this post. It talks about what happened when Nikki listened to her community and followed their lead. It's a great story.
And you may just find some outfit inspiration, travel tips, a recipe or some favourite things while you are there (that goes for the blokes as well as the ladies!).
#2 They ask, You answer
From the moment I first heard Marcus Sheridan (aka The Sales Lion) speak at a Social Media Examiner online conference, I was hooked. And his message was so simple:
If you want to create a successful blog, you simply need to answer your customer's questions. As he puts it:
“They Ask, You Answer” – Marcus Sheridan
How does Marcus know so much about this stuff?
How can he condense down the essence behind successful blogging, content marketing, social media and every other form of sharing your message into a simple phrase?
You need to hear his story; the story of how he saved his swimming pool company, River Pools and Spas from bankruptcy, and transformed it into one of the biggest Fibreglass Pool Companies in the world.
The first time I heard his story I stopped in my tracks. I share it with all of my clients when I am convincing them to start a business blog. Don't let me spoil the re-telling though. Listen to Marcus tell the story here:
I have had two shifts since learning from Marcus (he is a great teacher after all). The first was to create great content simply by answering the questions or problems of my ideal audience.
The second was to think of myself as a teacher and problem solver. Until I heard Marcus give his keynote at Social Media Marketing World, I had not thought about it in this way.
Marcus recently said in this article that Blogging didn't save his company. Nor did content marketing. Or Social Media. Or Inbound Marketing.
What saved his company was making a philosophical shift as a business, to see themselves as both teachers and problem solvers; to be the best source of information, the best teachers about fibreglass pools:
“Content marketing is your company's ability to be the best teachers and problem solvers in the world at what you do…digitally speaking” – Marcus Sheridan
Think about this the next time you go to write something. How are you showing up as a teacher or problem solver for your community?
#3 seek out the sparks and fan them into flames
In 2012 I went to my first Problogger Event, the annual Problogger seminar held by Darren Rowse and his team. Needless to say it was awesome and I have returned again in 2013 and I am truly honoured to be speaking at the same event this year in August, 2014.
In the 2012 keynote, he talked about something very simple that changed the direction of this blog. He talked about finding the sparks or finding what excites you and what excites your readers. And he talked about following those sparks… even if it meant pivoting your blog.
“I've learnt that if I pay attention to the things that give me energy and I give them oxygen, that they grow and they become bigger things” – Darren Rowse
I can't show you the Keynote Darren did for us, but I can show you the Keynote Darren presented at World Domination Summit where he also talked about the idea of finding sparks and looking for what gives you and your readers energy.
Darren talks about finding the sparks and fanning them into a flame at the 24 minute mark, but seriously, watch the whole thing:
So I looked for the sparks, and I pivoted my blog.
You see, my readers (and especially me) were responding most to posts about Visual Social Media.
They were responding to posts about how to create images that people love to share. How to create images that drive traffic. About Instagram. About Pinterest. About images on Facebook. About images on Twitter (yes Twitter).
They were responding to Visual Content.
And I realised that there was a lot of information out there about how to post on Pinterest and Facebook and Instagram .. all of the platforms. Every one was talking about posting visual content but very few sites were talking about how to create it.
And I don't mean sending people off to a designer. I mean how to create it yourself. So I started to post about how to do just that. I pivoted my blog.
It was the best advice I could have taken on board. Not only did my subscribers and traffic double, but I created an online course about the very thing my blog was focused on, and I started to monetize my blog in a new way.
“Your next big thing might be the current small thing right in front of you” – Darren Rowse
If you want to learn more about blogging and how to create a successful blog, you should follow Darren and listen to what he has to say. And if you are lucky, get yourself along to Problogger Event. It sells out as fast as a rock concert, so you have to be quick though.
#4 Create Awesome Visual ASsets
This one is special to me as my blog is about visual social media and I am always banging on about including visual content. So, I always love meeting and learning from bloggers who use visual content well, and in different ways.
Melonie is a friend (it's hard not to be friends with this lady – she is an awesome lady, super savvy with a heart of gold).
Melonie is also client. I have been fortunate to work with Melonie on some infographics when she was starting to get more focused on using visual content in her blog posts. We worked on the infographic below with Melonie and also this one here, and got to generate a lot of traffic to her blog together.
Melonie has been a mentor of mine for quite a while. Not in the sit-down-in-a-mastermind kind of mentorship (though we have joked about the need to do that in some exotic country sometime). No, she has quietly mentored me with her blog and her absolute commitment to creating quality content that really helps her ideal audience.
Melanie is a true expert when it comes to LInkedIn but she actually posts about all facets of social media and marketing in a common-sense way that gets results for businesses.
Melonie writes for business owners in a way they can walk away and use immediately. And the cool part is this (and she may not even realise this). I discovered Melonie's blog first, before she even approached me to work with her, through her visuals. She was creating some awesome shareables and posting them on social media platforms – they caught my eye.
Here are some of the visuals that I spotted out in Pinterest-land a couple of years ago… in the very early days when smart marketers were experimenting with creating original visual assets. You can check out some of them here on Melonie's Pinterest board.
or this one from Facebook back in 2012:
For the last year or more Melonie has really stepped up her visual content – posting regular articles containing quality, helpful (note the key word: helpful) snackable graphics and infographics that her ideal audience can use to immediately implement strategy, tips and actions in their own businesses.
There's no fluff on Melonie's blog.
#5 Repurpose Your Content
One of the hardest parts about creating content is that it takes time. And I will admit that there have been times when I have struggled with the concept of constantly blogging.
I have always tried to think of ways that I can get more out of my content, and I am constantly learning about this. But I started to think about it a lot more after meeting Rebecca Livermore.
Rebecca is now a good friend and is the brains behind Professional Content Creation. She is also a super smart content manager for some of the most successful bloggers I know, and she has a podcast too!
Rebecca knows more about content and how to repurpose it to make it work for you, than anyone I know – whether it is blogging, or audio or Facebook posts, she “gets” content.
One of the ways I have dabbled with repurposing content is to make visuals while I create blog posts. By repurposing my blog posts into images I can share those images out to social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram – all resulting in more traffic back to my site.
I have dabbled with video (not enough, I will admit.. ) and played with other forms of content, but I am still learning how to leverage the power of repurposing. As Rebecca said recently:
“Repurposing is one of the best ways to create more content in less time, so that you can expand your reach. Repurposing allows you to appeal to people with different learning styles”
Check out Rebecca's Post: 10 Easy Ways to Repurpose Content to get you started with content creation.
#6 Give More than You Expect to Receive
My friend Amy Porterfield has been a wonderful mentor to me over the last 3 years and I simply have to share her with you. If you follow this blog, you no doubt know Amy already, as I refer to her often, but today… I want to share the most valuable thing I have learned from Amy.
It's simple really: Don't Hold Back. Don't keep your best content for a rainy day. Share it on your blog. Share it in your newsletters and share it in your webinars.
Anyone who has watched one of Amy's webinars will know that you come away saying “wow – that was sooooo useful – I can't believe it was free”.
“Give more than you ever expect to receive.” – Amy Porterfield
Amy delivers useable, actionable, instantly helpful content all the time, whether it is on her blog, her podcast or in her webinars. And if you purchase one of her programs the good stuff keeps on coming.
Take this podcast episode for instance, How to create a Profitable Facebook Marketing Plan. Amy doesn't just share how to create engagement on Facebook – she shares . She strips back the curtains and shows you step-by-step how she does everything to turn fans into leads – from creating a lead magnet to creating a Facebook Ad and what emails to send out.
So that's my advice to you that I am paying it forward from Amy. Give your best content on your blog. Don't hide it. Don't waste it on Facebook (unless you first post it on your blog and then share to Facebook). Embed it on real estate that you own and share it on your website.
Oh, and notice how I said Amy shares her best stuff on her blog, her website, her podcast, her webinars and her newsletter? These are all platforms that she owns. Just sayin.
#7 Focus more on your Reader's Needs than your Own Experiences
Michael Hyatt was one of the first blogs I followed. Michael was also the first person that I noticed on Twitter who made sense to me – I clicked on one of his article links one day and read the article then soon subscribed to his emails.
I did give up on Twitter at the time but fortunately returned to it later (and now it's one of my favourite platforms).
Michael was CEO of Thomas Nelson at the time (one of the largest independent publishers in the world) and I liked his blog because he shared tips for social media and productivity – as well as things like leadership and publishing. I just found it to be really useful and interesting.
“You've got to focus on the reader because everyone is tuned into the most popular radio station on the planet: WII-FM – “What's in it for me”. Michael Hyatt
Here is the story of how Michael started and grew his blog, and more importantly, how he built his platform. If you come away from this video with one thing, start thinking of your blog as more than just a blog – it's the base of a bigger “platform” from which to share your message:
I read Michael's blog for almost a year before starting my own blog. And to this day, his blog is one of the few that comes into my inbox and doesn't get filtered into the “newsletters” pile.
There are a few things that, looking back that have made his blog appealing to me. I have tried to include these strategies or concepts in my own blog:
- I know what to expect. There is a format to Michael's posts, and each post feels familiar in style, which makes them easier to read and process. In fact, this post is one that I often go back to with regards to crafting a blog post: Anatomy of an Effective Blog Post
- He provides actionable, easy to follow tips in every post. He makes it about the audience – every post is super helpful!
- His posts are scannable and snackable – great headings, great intro, chunked info under subheadings and scannable text. Oh, and lots of dot points.
- Michael posts under clear categories – personal development, leadership, productivity, platform and publishing. I know what to expect, what he stands for and what he is knowledgeable about.
- He posts about what he is learning – as he is learning it. Even when still CEO of a large company he was authentic, admitted to his mistakes and shared his wins. In fact, all of his readers got to join him as he transitioned out of his full time job into full time blogging – and it was a learning experience for all of us.
Michael talks about not giving up as the shift in your blog might be just about to happen.This post was one that really resonated with me. At the time I read it I had just reached 1000 readers after 6 months and was feeling a little unsure about the whole blogging caper.
The post reassured me that the first inflection point for my blog growth might be just around the corner, and it was – and there will be more inflection points to come. This early advice was super valuable for me. Be sure to read the post and take note of the 4 things that helped Michael to reach an inflection point and grow his blog quickly:
- he started blogging more consistently (3 times per week)
- he focused more on his reader's needs than his own experiences
- a few big websites started to link to his blog, which gave him exposure to a wider audience
- he found his blogging voice
#8 Reach out to Other Bloggers
I am excited to include this next person on my list as although I have only known him for a couple of years, he has not only become a good friend, but has inspired me immensely when it comes to blogging.
I want you to get to know him too.
His name is Ian Cleary and his blog is Razor Social and he is known as the “Social Media and Tech Tools Guy”.
I first met Ian online and shortly afterwards in person at Social Media Marketing World in 2013. The reason I mention this is that Ian said one thing to me at the conference, that I will always remember: “How can I help you Donna?”. Such a simple sentence, but very powerful from someone you have just met and who is asking you this without any expectation in return.
Ian is a networking master – but he does it in a way that results in awesome connections, authentic relationships and true friendships as well as amazing business opportunities.
Ian is the “guy” that knows everyone at a conference, but he is also someone we can all learn from when it comes to blogger outreach.
“Blogger outreach is mainly about building relationships. It's reaching out to other bloggers to find out how you can help each other.” – Ian Cleary
I have been fortunate to work with Ian on an Infographic project and have seen him in action when it comes to blogger outreach and promotion.
I have also been fortunate to be on the receiving end of the reciprocity of Ian's Blogger Outreach. He gives a lot to other bloggers, and in turn reaps the rewards of quality traffic back to his own site, products and services.
You can read about some of Ian's tips and tricks in this post about Blogger Outreach.
He has also written, in this post about how he worked with my team to create an awesome infographic, as well as the impressive promotion process to get massive shares.
The results in the graphic below show just how powerful it can be to work with other bloggers to get content shared:
Do yourself a favour. Read Ian's Blog at Razor Social. There is a reason why it is a two-time winner of the Best Social Media Blogs Competition (Social Media Examiner).
Ian is a consistent blogger. He writes detailed, helpful blog posts and regularly guest posts on other major sites like Huffington Post and Marketing Profs. Check out this podcast interview too – about how he built his award winning blog in just 6 months!
#9 Get in the SlipStream
Derek Halpern is one of the people that have taught me the most about blogging. He built Social Triggers to be a juggernaut of a blog, widely respected by the top bloggers in the industry in just a couple of years. What is Social Triggers? Derek teaches his community how to use psychology to turn traffic into subscribers, persuade people to buy your products and encourage people to share your content and website.
I did Derek's online program Blog that Converts, and I highly recommend it for bloggers of any level.
“It turns out that major websites have a link slipstream, so instead of breaking the friction yourself, you should seek out bloggers and journalists that have a history of covering stories for which you'd like to be featured. You'll find it's much easier to get their attention because there is no friction”.
To give you a taste of why I value Derek's advice, and why his teaching and training has had an impact on the growth of my blog, check out this video that features just one of his tips: the Drafting Technique
Derek has a lot of really effective tips and strategies and I highly recommend that you sign up for his emails and video blogs. You won't be sorry!
“Be Helpful. Journalists and bloggers are underpaid and in many cases under-appreciated so anything you can do to make their life extremely easy will be AOK in their book” – Derek Halpern
#10 teach them step-by-step
When writing this title, I felt the urge to write “Teach them.. Step-by-Freakin'-Step” as I could almost hear David Siteman Garland's words leaping on to the keyboard. He is that passionate about making things simple, and breaking things down, “step-by-step”.
I have followed David's podcast, The Rise to the Top for a while now but it was not until I began to subscribe to his blog and watch some of his videos that I realised that he was a really good teacher and could teach me a lot about blogging and providing valuable information to others.
It was one of the reasons I decided to do his program Create Awesome Online Courses – I knew he was the right teaching style for me as he was passionate about breaking things down into simple steps.
Here are some examples of his mini-lessons that show you how to do simple tweaks and actions to your website, email, social media or marketing for better results. They all have relevance to building your blog, business and revenue:
David's tips are really easy to follow and “step-by-freakin-step”. You can find out more on David's website or click on one of the sample mini-lessons above.
#11 Be Consistent
I saved the best to last. Social Media Examiner was one of the first blogs I ever read and definitely the first “social media” blog I ever read.
The blog started with a small team consisting of Michael Stelzner (founder) and Cindy King (Editor) and the website featured respected social media and marketing experts, all posting about Social Media.
Here is a video about how Social Media Examiner came to be:
There are many things that Michael and Cindy and their extended team have taught me over the years – the biggest of which is consistency.
Week in, week out they have produced 6+ posts per week (recently increased to even more than this).
It is the consistency that I love about Social Media Examiner. I know that I can expect timely, quality posts with current information every day. It is my go-to source for research and keeping “up to speed” with social media.
So it goes without saying that when I started to write for Social Media Examiner last year, it was a “bucket list” guest post opportunity for me. You can read some of my articles here:
I have learned some valuable things about guest blogging over the past 3 years and Social Media Examiner's process for managing a multi-author site has perhaps taught me the most about how to be a quality guest blogger. I wanted to share a few tips with you:
- Give your best content. Don't hold back – a fabulous post on a popular site can do wonders for your own traffic. Don't hide the good stuff.
- Respond to comments. All of them. Wipe your slate clean and be ready to comment, reply to tweets, comment on Facebook posts – when your post is at the top of the website… be available! Leave no comment un-replied to.
- Add a regular “comment audit” to your diary so you can go back to old posts and respond to any recent comments.
- Get to know the editorial process. Follow the guidelines of the blog you are writing for. If they tell you to add links a certain way, do it. If they ask you to write in a certain style, follow the guidelines. Check out previous posts and see what the style is like, how the headings work, what images they use and how they present content. Write in a similar way.
- Keep in touch with your editor and stick to deadlines.
- Promote the post yourself on your own social networks.
- Be helpful and participate in the community – comment on other blog posts written by your fellow guest bloggers!
Phew! That's a lot of great bloggers that have influenced my blog. I am very grateful. I hope they will influence yours too!
Who has influenced you in building your blog? Can you recommend a great blogger or mentor to my readers? Leave their name or website in the comments below (and don't forget to tell me if you love any of the tips in this post!).
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