So a few weeks ago I wrote about my/our ‘why’ (check out the full post here). This week I want to talk about your why. Well, not your why specifically, but to encourage you to think about your why as I have. So let’s go ahead and answer the question ‘why do you blog’ together. Read more “Why do you blog?”
Here at Blog Trackr, we are devoted to blogs because we simply enjoy writing blog articles on issues we are passionate about. For example, I used to write for the blog Monstah Mash, a blog devoted completely to the Red Sox. While blogging, our goal was not to be just another Red Sox blog out there because there are plenty. We wanted to provide our own unique spin on current Red Sox news. Read more “Top Three Lessons Learned at Monstah-Mash”
In this third installment of our blogging history series, we will be looking at the growth of blogging from a typically short article to other forms of media. Blogging was about to differentiate into novel types of displaying content and sharing your opinion on an issue. Read more “A Blogging History: Blogging Differentiates”
Last week, Blog Trackr began a mini-series of blogging articles dedicated to exploring the history of blogging. In this segment, we will discussion how blogs started to expand in the early 2000s as they increased in number. Read more “A Blogging History: Expansion in the early 2000s”
At Blog Trackr, we have devoted blog posts to covering basic and more advanced blogging tips and tricks. However, have you ever wondered where blogging began?
For the next few blog posts, I will spend time introducing you to blogging’s history from its humble origins to its rising popularity in the last five years.
Join me on this little history of blogging and continue to research how your own blog can contribute to the larger, blogging story.
Beginning of Blogging 1994-1997
A random piece of information that you can use to stump your friends is who created the first blog? People trace blogging’s history to the Swarthmore College dorm room of Justin Hall, whose blog, links.net, reviewed different examples of HTML examples he found.
The New York Times ran with this idea and called Hall “the founding father of personal bloggers.” What is interesting about this origin of blogging history is that Hall’s website was simply called a “personal homepage.”
Three years after Hall introduced the idea of blogs, people started calling blogs by the name we know them now today.
Jorn Barger, a blogger for the early blog Robot Wisdom coined the term “weblog” to describe the process of logging the web while he searched the internet for quality content.
Period of Growth into Mainstream Media
In 1998, Jonathan Dube blogged about Hurricane Bonnie for the Charlotte Observer which marked the first time someone started a blog for a traditional news site.
Gradually, the term “weblog” got shortened to blog and five years later the Merriam-Webster dictionary declared the term their “word of the year.”
What Did Early Blogs Look Like?
Obviously, over time blogs have become even easier to create and manage on your own without much technical expertise.
However, in its early days the original blogs were clunkier and had to be updated manually, often from a central home page.
That was often inefficient. Programmers were the only ones who had the technical knowledge to manage a blog and make them successful.
However, that was soon about to change. LiveJournal was one of the most recognizable early blogging platforms, but it was soon replaced by the platform Blogger.
Blogging was ready to take a huge leap forward and enter a new era of sharing ideas easily and to a wide audience.
I learned quite a few lessons from running Monstah Mash, namely when it came to growing my blog and competing with the already numerous other Red Sox-themed blogs on the market. It wasn’t about being the loudest, writing the most, or having the biggest team. There was a different secret weapon we utilized: personality. From the get go, creating a blogger persona was crucial and instrumental to our success.
In fact I credit most of my success on the blog to it. If I wasn’t able to differentiate Monstah Mash so well I doubt I would’ve recruited a team of 18 and reached so many readers. Instead I probably would have run it as a one-man show only for it to peter out when I got too busy, tired, or bored. Pretty bleak, right?
What is a blogger persona?
Crafting a blogger persona is something we’ve written on before. And for good reason: it’s essential. I’m not going to bore you too much though and rehash everything I said before. No, instead this post will be a deep dive into how I actually did it with Monstah Mash, and why your blog should too.
Before we go ahead though, let’s look at the basics.
The reason people read blogs is to be educated as well as entertained. Primarily it’s to be entertained though; if I wanted the score of the game I’ll read ESPN, if I want the commentary, the “something extra” I read my favorite sports blogs. It’s not just to get the facts, it’s to get the opinion that you’ve come to know, love, and trust along with it. That’s what makes blogs special, because they are biased and not afraid to show it (unlike the news which can be biased and afraid to show it). That “opinion” or “stance” is the blog’s persona. It’s what separates it from the rest of the pack, the unique proprietary quality that no other blog can copy.
With Monstah Mash we were sarcastic, authentically Bostonian, often angry or bitter, and sometimes outrageous. We made jokes in our articles, used lame pop culture references, and ragged on Boston in the way only a true Bostonian can. Someone who read our blog wouldn’t feel like they were getting the box score of last night’s game. Instead they’d feel like they were on their friend’s couch, favorite bar, or the corner of the kitchen table swapping sports facts with their favorite uncle.
Everything we wrote tied back to that unique persona to strengthen and affirm it with each article. Just like how your actions and words contribute to your own personality, the actions and posts of your blog will reaffirm your blog’s persona to your readers.
How do I create one?
That’s great and all, but how do I actually do this?
I’m not going to lie to you: it’s not easy and it won’t be finished in 10 minutes. It may even take months to perfect, but it will be worth it.
I knew I wanted Monstah Mash to be unique right from the start. I was fed up with stale and bland news. Not to mention that bloggers who were disassociated and removed from the city I’ve come to love were irritating. So I knew I wanted Monstah Mash to scream “Boston” and have a hefty dose of tongue-in-cheek humor sprinkled into each article I wrote. It was an important first step that shaped the three years that I ran the site. And trust me, the initial leg work paid off. I tried to cultivate a personality surrounding the site that was built around my writing style as well as the types of stories we would cover. As I brought on new writers more voices joined the chorus adding some unique flavor to the site while committing to the same essential goal.
I’d be lying if I said we didn’t evolve. We found more pieces to add to the puzzle, new sections of stories to cover and new voices to bring different styles of humor to our readers. All the while though we stayed the course, improving but not deviating what we built in the past, and wouldn’t you know it worked. Monstah Mash quickly gained thousands of dedicated readers worldwide, which I attribute entirely to the work we put in. So how do you create a blogger persona? Start small, thinking about the top five adjectives you want to come to mind when someone reads your blog. And build upon that. As the months go by try to experiment and see what works, see if you can bring on additional team members and let things evolve in their own time.
Creating a quality persona takes thought, planning, and the ability to adapt. With those three in your tool belt you can do no wrong.
Why bother with a blogger persona?
This seems like a lot of work. That’s because it’s a ton of work. Make no mistake about it, crafting a compelling blogger persona takes time, effort, thought, and planning. But it’s worth it.
A quality personality for your blog separates you from the rest of the pack. It’s not just about what you’re writing, it’s how you write it and how your readers identify with your work. A quality persona attracts like-minded people to follow your blog and inspires loyalty with your base. How do you build a brand that has thousands of dedicated readers? Give them a brand they’ll believe in and trust. Monstah Mash didn’t grow just because we were good writers, it grew because people cared about what we had to say and identified with our message.
If you truly want to see your blog succeed, craft your blogger persona and watch the views and followers roll in.
At the beginning of the year, Blog Trackr ran a post related to New Years’ Resolutions and called it “5 Blogging Resolutions for 2017.” In our own way, we participated in what David Meerman Scott has termed “newsjacking.” Newsjacking is the process of finding a way to relate your blog or business to what occurs in cultural or national news.
When breaking news happens or a piece of news starts trending on Facebook or Twitter, the time could come to halt your next scheduled blog post and think of innovative ways your blog could relate to that news story both on your blog and on social media.
How to Newsjack
Some may argue that a potential flaw in newsjacking is the fact that numerous voices will appear simultaneously in Google News or other search engines. However, if you ignore what is happening around you and disregard its relevance to your blog, you could be missing out on a source of new readers and new traffic to your blog.
Once breaking news happens, the first step is to consider how you can inject your blog or business into this topic. Think about what reporters or curious readers would input into search engines so that your blog appears near the top of search results
On social media, start following recent tweets or Facebook posts to see what has been said already. Once you do that, it is time to strategize and think about what unique spin you can put on the story that has not been said already.
After you decide on a potential topic, you can blog, tweet or even create an infographic or a video related to the piece of breaking news.
Examples of Newsjacking
There are so many examples of newsjacking out there. With Super Bowl LI over, there are always blog posts, videos, tweets and social media posts related to the big game which happen both before and after the game. There could be posts related to football, the halftime show, the commercials or even how to plan a perfect Super Bowl Party.
For other examples of newsjacking, check out the Boston Beat section of Monstah-Mash where the author, Tyler Scionti, thinks about Boston-related news stories even though he writes primarily about the Red Sox.
Bottom Line and Further Reading
The bottom line about this whole topic is that you do not need to be a political blog to offer insights into politics or a sports blog to write about the Super Bowl. Newsjacking can be the key to differentiating your content while remaining timely and relevant to today’s evolving news cycle.
For further reading about newsjacking, David Meerman Scott offers great insights into this topic. Check out more information on this vital topic here.
Here at Blog Trackr, we have talked about the importance of differentiating your content to appeal to your audience. One must vary their content so that your writing does not grow stale and lose its impact among your readership. How do you increase the flair and variety of your content? That is where guest blogging comes in.
What is Guest Blogging?
Guest blogging is exactly what it sounds like. It entails recruiting and convincing another expert in your field to write an article for your blog. You may be a political blog that focuses on one policy, but need an expert in another field to explain how it relates to another policy area.
You may be a sports blog who suddenly must examine the results of a long-term injury and may recruit a medical expert to fill your readers in on an injury to one of your team’s stars.
How can you find guest bloggers?
Guest blogging seems like an excellent idea in theory, but the challenge is how to find a quality blogger willing to write for you. The best place to start would be to start building an online community where you comment on other blogs, share interesting articles on your site and interact with others on social media.
Another tactic you can use to find guest bloggers is going to websites such as bloggerlinkup.com or myblogquest.com where you will find databases of sites that accept posts from guest bloggers.
The most important consideration for guest blogging is to examine a writer’s previous body of work. Your goal should be quality rather than quantity of another writer’s blog posts.
How can guest blogging help you?
First, guest blogging builds relationships. As you employ more guest bloggers or contribute as a guest blogger on other blogs, you start to increase your audience and become more influential on social media.
Another reason guest blogging can help you is that it can help you show up more frequently on search engines. The host blogger must include a link to your blog on their website. If you guest post for someone else, include a link to their website somewhere in your story. In this way, your content (and theirs) is easier to find on popular search engines.
Where to Go from Here
Now that you have some tactics to recruit guest bloggers, it is time to go out there and look at anyone connected to your blog or business in some way. You must be committed to contributing to your community to make guest blogging work for you. Commenting or sharing others’ content relevant to your industry is just the first step.
Money is, and likely always will be, an uncomfortable subject. But we live in a world where money is important. And you’d be lying if you said you didn’t hope your blog could generate some form of second income. That’s why we’re running out guide on how to make money off your blog.
I mean, who doesn’t love the day-time mom blogger millionaire story? While that’s largely falsified and an edge case, there’s no reason you can’t profit off your passion. During my time with Monstah Mash we made some profit and while there are plenty of resources on how to make money, but most of them are selling something or sound too good to be true. Let’s sift through some of the bs together.
When it comes to monetizing your blog you’ll have two main options: advertising or selling merchandise. With advertising it’s all about getting eyeballs on your site to increase your pageviews and therefore your revenue. With merchandise it’s about creating quality products people will want to buy, and setting up an easy way for readers to buy them. I’ll give you a brief run-through of how we did this with Monstah Mash and how your blog can start making money.
This is the primary source of income for many blogs, and is the bread and butter of the internet. Think of your site as a billboard, the more eyeballs on that billboard the more valuable it becomes. If your blog has a high viewership you can enroll in ad-sharing networks such as Google’s Adsense, or even negotiate your own deals. Adsense is a great simple platform as it allows you to embed code for ads on your site, while generating a dashboard report to view their performance at a glance. Depending on your traffic, this can be a great way to make money off your blog and leverage your readership.
With Monstah Mash we used a mix; we had a pretty good base of users and were able to make some money off of Adsense as well as an ad network specifically made for sports blogs. We even negotiated a few private ad deals giving us money to invest back into the site, leading me to the next method of raising money.
For private ad sales many reached out directly to us, however don’t be afraid to be a bit proactive in your efforts. After all, not reaching out is a guaranteed “no” so what do you have to lose?
Who doesn’t love stuff? Especially high-quality branded stuff? Merchandise can be a tricky path to take as the products you roll out must be of good quality for this to work. However if you can pull it off, it’s a great moneymaker. With Monstah Mash we took on a part time designer to come up with shirt designs that we sold through an online store. We had the shirts done up, rolled them out to our readers, and let them take care of the rest.
It was a great system, didn’t cost us and egregious amount, and brought in some extra revenue. Plus it allowed us to further cultivate our branded persona, which tied into the actual work we were doing on our site. Win-win.
Not sure where to sell your stuff? A few of my favorites are Zazzle, Redbubble, and CafePress. They make it easy to place your designs on a variety of products and sell through their store while making a commission. Personally I chose Redbubble as their easy-to-use interface made setting up shop a breeze, but the above three are a great starting point to get your site shop off the ground.
This is another commonly used way to make money, though not one I personally utilized. Affiliate links work by essentially placing a text ad or even a visual ad, and then making a percentage off the top of the sales. Essentially you’re selling another company’s product on your website, and getting a percentage of the sale for the effort. If you have a high-traffic blog and those readers are apt to make purchases on your site then by all means go for it. For Monstah Mash we were a news site, not a site people went to to buy things so this was never something we pursued.
There are tons of great resources on affiliate marketing so choose wisely as while there are many great avenues to make your millions, there are many duds as well.
As you can see, there are quite a few ways to make money off your blog. Don’t let that discourage for frighten you though! Sure not every strategy will work because each blog is unique, so take some time to experiment and find your sweet spot. For a short while we tired affiliate marketing but it just didn’t pan out, and we didn’t even try merchandise until our last two years during which it worked out great. As with all things in blogging it’s a journey and learning experience. So go out there, and try to monetize an aspect of your blog, who knows it may pay for itself and put some spending money in your pocket.
With 2017 upon us, the time may appropriate for your blog or business to consider other means of sharing insightful content. This is where the power of electronic books becomes evident.
Even though an e-book has nothing to do with blogging at first glance, it is nevertheless a way to expand upon your thoughts on an issue. More than that, writing an e-book is more thrilling than simply writing a business-tailored white paper which is usually more technical and harder for the reader to follow.
What is an E-Book and How Is It Useful?
Simply put, an e-book is an electronic book usually made available in a PDF format. Anyone can write an e-book and it is quite an accomplishment to say that you dedicated so much time to writing one!
Usually, bloggers decide to write an e-book to solve an issue facing their target audience. For example, one e-book we are currently working on is titled Crafting the Perfect Blog: A Step-by-Step Guide.
At Blog Trackr, we recognize that many people interested in blogging are unsure where to start. While we have run posts about blogging, it is always helpful to investigate an issue in more depth. We are hoping that this E-book can fulfill the desires of one of our target audiences: beginners interested in blogging.
Similarly, as a writer for your blog or business, you too can propose writing an informative E-book that provides much more information than a simple blog post.
How to Write an E-Book
The first step to writing an e-book is obviously to come up with a topic that will interest your readers and satisfy their desires. If you are a travel blog, for example, you could write in-depth accounts of places with cultural significance and why it is essential for tourists to visit these places.
If you are a political blog focused on human rights, you could write an e-book devoted to one area under that huge umbrella such as access to water or education in developing countries.
Well-written e-books typically have places for interesting graphics and images and are written in a much-lighter style than a white paper.
Where to Publish an E-Book
After spending all that time writing an e-book, you may wonder how you can get that e-book out to your readers?
The first answer is, obviously, having it available for download on your site. Ideally, the e-book should be free to download and should not have a requirement such as entering your email address to download the book. These requirements could turn prospective readers away from your book!
Another reason why your e-book should be free to download is the fact that, with a well-crafted title, your e-book remains a permanent fixture leading people to your site. Like a blog post, an e-book will come up in search results if it has a unique title.
Places like these are ideal if you write a much longer e-book that you may want to sell online.
In most cases, making your e-book readily available for free will lead to better results, particularly if it resonates with your target audience.
Now that you have some ideas about an e-book, be on the lookout for our e-book and think about using these tips to write your own!