Archive for February 13th, 2012

Is Your Blog Doing Okay?

Last week, I told the story of how I achieved my best month ever on DPS.

While I used that post as a case study to present some ideas that I hoped you may be able to use on your own blogs, there’s a hidden hitch with that kind of post: it can give you the impression that you should be aiming to triple your revenue each time you hone a promotion on your site.

We could take that a step or two further—a post like that could give you the expectation that you should be selling products, or even that you should be monetizing your blog. Neither of those ideas is necessarily appropriate for every blog, or every blogger.

The blogosphere is usually a friendly place, but it’s also a place where there’s a lot of comparison. The old idea of keeping up with the Joneses can be a strong, if subtle influence in a space where we’re all learning from each other’s experiences.

Is your blog doing okay?

It’s only natural for most of us to want to know how our blogs are tracking, and to do that we naturally feel the need to compare them to something. I think the best comparison is your own previous performance, as I did with my 12 Days of Christmas promotion. But early in your blogging career, when you may not have a lot of previous results to look at, you’re probably more likely to compare yourself to other bloggers.

You might compare your blog with others in the same niche (competitors and peers), or blogs in different niches that are of a similar size and age to yours. You might compare the results you got from a particular tactic with the results someone else got by using that same tactic, but in a completely different field.

All of these attempts to benchmark are common, and there’s no doubt that they can be helpful at times. But benchmarking your blog against others, or your performance against others, ignores one very important factor: you.

Are you doing okay?

As I said earlier, I tend to benchmark against my own progress, but that’s not what I’m talking about here.

True “success” isn’t a matter of graphs and stats, nor is it a “point” that’s “achieved.” When we ask if our blog’s doing okay, what I think most of us are asking is if we’re performing as we should be. But this assumes that there’s one objective standard that we should meet.

Every one of us is different, each blog is unique, our reader audiences are comprised of different people, and our blogging fits into our personal lives in myriad different ways. So how could there be an objective yardstick for “success” or “progress”? The better question, I think, is more personal: are we achieving all that we’re capable of achieving—and all that we want to achieve?

Within the realm of blogging, I try to improve on my past performance. But that doesn’t happen in a vacuum. If the way I went about improving that performance were detrimental to some other part of my life, then it wouldn’t matter how well my 2011 12 Days of Christmas promotion went—I wouldn’t be enjoying “success” or possibly even overall “progress.”

I know, for example, that as a part-time blogger, it’s easy to look at full-time bloggers’ “progress” or “success” and try to push yourself to achieve something similar. But unless you have 48 hours in every day, that’s probably not a) possible b) practical or c) enjoyable.

When you’re wondering how your blog’s tracking, my advice is to look at how your blog’s tracking both in its own right, but also, in terms of how it’s fitting in with the other priorities and things of value in your life.

Tomorrow, I’ll talk more specifically about this, and explain a few of the ways I think my blogging’s going well—and they have nothing to do with sales or stats or marketing. In the meantime, how’s your blog tracking? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

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Is Your Blog Doing Okay?


How to Set Up an Email Account that Uses Your Domain Name

This guest post is written by Kashish Jain of digiupdates.

Most of the people who are new to web design and blogging don’t understand the capabilities that come free with their domain, so they don’t take advantage of them.

How many times have you visited a site for www.something.com and on the Contact Us page, you find that the sales or customer service personnel have email addresses like username@gmail.com? It certainly is not the main measure of business quality, but the average person usually thinks, “Geez, what is that, their personal email address?”

I, too, began using my personal email address for my website, but very soon I started to realize the importance and need of something more professional.

Why not use the domain email which is free with your hosting account? Using email addresses like username@yourdomainname.com will look much more professional than the personal email—and the best part is, it’s free!

The bottom line is that if you have paid money to own a domain then you should, at the least, buy from a domain registrar that offers email forwarding for their accounts (we prefer Godaddy). You can also create a domain email address from the cpanel given to you by your hosting providers—they’ll also provide at least one free email address for your account.

By following the steps I’ll explain here, I created an email address that uses my domain name, and I now use it everywhere. It’s made an impact on my website and boosted my interaction with the readers. Before we get into the process, though, let me introduce you to the term “email forwarding.”

What is email forwarding?

Email forwarding is a feature that allows incoming mail to a domain email account, such as sales@widgets.com, to be redirected or forwarded to another email address, such as john@gmail.com. Email forwarding is the easiest way to set up a new email address without having to change your email program.

Forwarded email addresses are sometimes called “aliases”. An alias, as you know, is another name that refers to a given person. In our example, John has an email address with gmail—john@gmail.com. He has just purchased the domain name widgets.com and sets up a forwarding rule which “reads”: Whenever an email comes in to sales@widgets.com, forward that email to john@gmail.com. In this case, the address sales@widgets.com is an “alias” for john@gmail.com, as all email goes to the same Gmail address.

Many services allow hundreds for forwarding rules or aliases to be created. Suppose John runs a small business but wants to give website visitors the confidence that they’re dealing with a solid company. He could create forwarding rules for support@widgets.com, questions@widgets.com, complaints@widgets.com, and so on, and have them all forwarded to john@gmail.com. As John adds employees he can change the forwarding rules to go to other email addresses—you can have as many aliases as you want pointing to the same destination email.

Set up an email account that uses your domain name

Here, I’m going to show you how to create a new email address, like admin@digiupdates.com, and integrate it with your Gmail account. This way, you can easily send and receive emails through the Gmail interface, but your customer will see the emails as coming from your domain email address.

The steps have been broken in two parts. First we’ll see how to create the domain email address. Second, we’ll integrate that domain email with your Gmail account.

1. Create the domain name email address

  1. Log into your blog hosting control panel, or cpanel.
  2. Click on Email Accounts in the Email section.
  3. Enter the details for your new account, and click Create Account, as shown here.
  4. You will see a notification that reads something like this: “Success! Account Created.” The account will be shown on the same page.
  5. Now go back to your cpanel and click on Forwarders in the Mail section. Then click Add Forwarder.
  6. Fill all the details as shown below. Then, click Add Forwarder and you’re done.

Now all the emails sent to username@yourdomainname.com will be sent to your personal email address.

2. Integrate your new domain email with Gmail

  1. Sign in to your Gmail account.
  2. Go to Options, then to Mail Settings, then click Accounts and Imports.
  3. Check Send Mail As, and click on Add Another Email Address You Own.
  4. In the popup that appears, fill in your details, add the new domain email address you just created, then click Next.
  5. Click on Send Verification, and a verification email will be delivered to your inbox. Simply click on the link to verify it, and you are done.
  6. Now, click on Compose Email, and see the changes you’ve made in action.

I hope these steps are clear enough for you to set up your own domain email address. However, if you feel I’ve missed something, or you’re not able to follow up, then let me know in the comments.

Kashish Jain is professional blogger from Delhi,INDIA who blogs about blogging, computer tricks,tips and upcoming technology tends. If you like This post, you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Subscribe to digiupdates feed via RSS or EMAIL to receive instant updates.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

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How to Set Up an Email Account that Uses Your Domain Name


Why My Blog’s Doing Okay: 3 Unexpected Answers

Yesterday we were talking about how benchmarking your blog and your performance against those of others only goes so far to give ou an idea of “how your blog’s going.” As I said then, looking at others—other people, other blogs—even subconsciously for an indication of where you and your blog sit isn’t usually very helpful.

I said then that today I’d give you some examples of areas where I think my blogging’s doing okay—things that have less to do with stats and revenues than they do with how blogging fits into my life. Here are a few of those things.

Balancing baby

Those who follow me on Twitter or Google Plus know that my wife and I had our third child in 2011. Suddenly, we had three children aged 5 and under in the house, which is also where I work. We bloggers don’t really get nice benefits like paid parental leave, so the arrival of our third son was definitely going to be a challenge.

I had built a close team in the months before my son’s birth, and while that took some of the pressure off, at the same time, it added different responsibilities to the mix. Even though I had a lot of help with my blogs, I couldn’t just drop everything when my new son arrived home.

As you’ll know if you’re a parent, you can never quite tell how a new baby will change the household dynamic. Life is unpredictable, and as bloggers, our incomes rely solely on our motivation and ability to keep pushing, day in, day out. Also I was very fortunate in that my new son is a pretty good sleeper and into a routine quickly, and my two older sons adore him.

But the comparatively smooth addition of a new person to my family was, in part, supported by my blogging. My flexible schedule, and the freedom to plan events so that I could keep the period when the new baby was due clear of product launches and other commitments, allowed me to be fully involved at this really important time for my family. That makes me feel pretty good about my blogging, and the way it works to support the other goals and things I value in my life.

Working with others

Expanding the team I work with has also been a great experience in a number of ways. As I mentioned above, it helped me manage work when my new son arrived, but there are other aspects that are working well too.

Firstly, I enjoy working with my team members. Anyone who’s ever partnered up with someone, or even hired a team member, will know that these things don’t always work out. But in this case, my blogging has necessitated that I team up with some good people who really work well together, and that’s been both enjoyable and satisfying in itself.

By working together, we’ve also been able to create more opportunities for others—other bloggers, photographers, and so on—through events like the ProBlogger Training Day, which was much bigger, and more helpful and valuable this year, as a direct result of team work.

In effect, my blogging has let me do more with, and for, great people—so in that regard, too, I think my blog’s doing okay.

A better understanding

Recently I ran the ProBlogger Census. This project gave me and my team a great insight into where you, our readers, are at with your blogs, where you need help, and what interests you. It sounds simple enough, and running a reader survey isn’t rocket science, but the quality and depth of the responses we received was extremely valuable.

This research really let me get a clearer picture of the people I’m here to serve (that’s you!). It gave me ideas, inspiration, motivation, and energy—four things every blogger needs, and some of the things I live for as a creative type of person. It also highlighted some areas that I could do better which has already allowed me to make some changes (and prepare for and plan others) that are of benefit to my audience. It’s empowering to be able to help others in a productive way, and to engage with them personally about that exchange.

Again, this experience made me feel like my blogging’s going well not just in and of itself, but in terms of its role within my life and the potential it’s giving to me and others.

As I hope you can see, none of these examples relates to any other blog, or involves any sort of “benchmarking.” While comparisons can have their place, when you’re looking at how your blog’s doing, why not focus more heavily on these kinds of personal aspects? After all, they’re the ones that will keep your passion for blogging—and life—alive in the long term.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

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Why My Blog’s Doing Okay: 3 Unexpected Answers


How to Systematically Build a Mountain of Links

This guest post is by Neil Patel of Quick Sprout.

We’ve all been taught to create high-quality content to attract links. This argument is usually stated in the context of a blog that basically becomes an authority where you start to build a following around consistent, fresh content—think big sites like Problogger or Boing Boing.

This is not the technique I’m talking about.

Today, I’m talking about a link-building technique that’s bigger, better and quite possibly able to put you on the map faster than you would ever imagine. I’m talking about building a linkable asset—something you do by following the steps I’m about to describe.

First, let’s define “linkable asset.”

What is a linkable asset?

A linkable asset is a piece of content that is responsible for driving lots of links to your site. It could be an infographic that you update every year, but it’s usually much bigger and complex.

The Feltron Report is an annual report that’s like an infographic on steroids. It’s more than likely you’ve heard of the Felton Report. Its personal data from the life of Nicholas Felton, a designer and data guy, who’s been cranking out these reports since 2005.

SEOmoz’s Annual Ranking Report is another annual report that is a linkable asset.

Distilled’s SEO Guide to Creating Viral Linkbait and Infographics and Smashing Magazine’s The Death of the Boring Blog Postare also linkable assets.

Sometimes these assets are a simple widget like Bankrate’s millionaire calculator or egobait like the Ad Age Power150.

What’s in a linkable asset?

These assets create a mountain of links back to the site, which means more traffic and jolt of exposure to your brand or blog that never dies. But they aren’t easy to create. They take planning, time and at least four or five of the following elements.

It targets a broad market

The first step in creating a linkable asset is to identify your audience. It must be massive because small, niche markets will cause your asset to fail.

You don’t have to think about your general customers. When I’ve worked on these projects, here’s how I’ve thought through the massive audience I need:

  1. Human beings.
  2. Men and woman.
  3. Men in the United States.
  4. Men in the United States who like movies.

You don’t need to get any narrower than that. In fact, “men in the U.S. who like movies” is probably a little narrow. So I might try a small test on an audience made up of “men and women in the U.S. who like movies.”

Here are other ideas you could target:

  • Special interest groups: Republicans, Australians, gun owners or commuters all share a common pain point that you could address in a linkable asset.
  • One-time events: Think 9/11 or the historic significance of Obama’s election.
  • Holidays: Linkable assets tied into holidays like Easter or Hanukah seem to work pretty well.
  • Basic survival stuff: Anything that impacts water, safety, food, or gas consumption.
  • Predictions: Using data that points to a credible conclusion about a possibly good or bad outcome is good linkable content.

It addresses a pain point in a vacuum

What I mean by “addresses a pain point in a vacuum” is that your linkable asset will truly take off if you hit upon a topic that nobody else is addressing.

Beginner guides in new and emerging fields are good examples of this, as are “ultimate guides” that fill a space that is empty. The Authority Rules guide put up by Copyblogger is a free resource that filled an empty pain point, especially in a way that people weren’t entirely clear they even had.

You can hunt down some great data for linkable asset idea if you monitor these three sites:

Keep in mind that addressing a pain point is not an easy task to pull off because there tends to be a lot of competition in a given field to meet a pain point. That’s why you’ll see rushes to create the ultimate guide when the latest social media tools are released.

Mashable created an infographic called Global Internet Traffic Is Expected to Quadruple by the Year 2015:

This piece addresses an obvious need of companies looking to expand and grow—the infographic gives them they have some ammunition to justify their decisions.

We could learn a lesson from this infographic, since it is prediction-based. Even though that prediction is a few years out, the data is truly what is really important, but that is likely to change over time. The market may actually grow even larger, or shrink for some unexpected reason. You just don’t know with predictions, but in general they make for good social sharing.

It delivers evergreen content

In order to ensure that your linkable asset delivers content day in and day out, every year, make sure you choose a topic that will not go out of fashion in a couple of months.

For example, a prediction-style linkable asset usually doesn’t make the best example, because that content will go out of date eventually. Or they may even backfire if your prediction doesn’t come true. It will work well, however, if your prediction comes true, or if you can continue to update it every year.

Here are some examples for evergreen content:

  • Annual report: The reason the Feltron report works even though it is not evergreen content is that it is updated every year and placed upon the same link as the other reports. The same is true about SEOmoz’s annual ranking reports.
  • Guides: The guides that I mention above by Distilled and Smashing Magazine provide evergreen content in the form of “how-to” guides. Everybody needs this information and will for a long time.
  • Widgets: Pretty much as long as there are human beings there will be a desire to be rich…or at least to know how long it would take you to become a millionaire. That’s why the Bankrate calculator has been around for a while and will continue to generate traffic.
  • Tools: The classic example for a broad tool that is evergreen is Google’s keyword research tool.

It must be branded

At the end of the day, your linkable content must be about your brand. But more than just announcing your brand, it must be done in such a way that promotes adoption after someone reads, watches or uses it.

For example, my company announces that our survey tool is “Powered by KISSinsights.”

That’s the exchange we make for allowing someone to use the tool for free. You’ll also see copy that reads “Get this widget,” which helps promote the adoption and spread of the tool by encouraging people to embed it in their site.

This is what standard infographic branding element looks like:

But as you probably know, branding doesn’t end with a simple tag line that lets the consumer know the linkable asset is from you. You also have to make the design stunning.

Good graphics matter! Here are some simple tips to help your linkable asset great-looking:

  • Create a seductive headline combined with a graphic above the fold that stops the reader cold.
  • Put custom-made graphics throughout the linkable asset that are special to it. This will carry the eye of the reader down the page and further brand it.
  • Use graphics-based headers.
  • Break out of the typical blog template and use a format that is shocking or unexpected. Boston Globe shares pictures that are at 900 pixels wide.

It’s promotable to webmasters

When you create that linkable asset, you have to market it. It’s not true that if you build it they will come. Successful assets are given a big push by their creators, namely through emails asking if you will share the content.

That means that content must have zero commercial value, and a positive upside for you.

I’ve gotten requests from asset creators letting me know that they are about to let a piece of content “go live” and I and a select few have a privilege of leaking it early.

This strategy works because I like the idea of getting in front of the flood, because if you are viewed as one of the original promoters, you are likely to get a lot of the early links to your site via “hat tips.”

By the way, when you are pitching to webmasters, create a headline that is newsworthy. Webmasters love content that carries a feeling of cutting-edge news.

It’s easy to share

Nowadays most everything is pretty easy to share because you can build sharing into the assets—like buttons, for example, that share the content immediately.

What truly creates a linkable asset that’s easy to share is allowing the content to be embedded so people can share it on their own site, rather than just linking to it.

Creating a badge for accomplishing some sort of task is another great example of linkable asset that is spread by embedding the code. For instance, once you “finish” Distilled’s link bait guide, you can grab a badge that shows off your new knowledge:

Monitoring your linkable asset

The wonderful thing with these assets is that you can leverage their appeal throughout the year, or even over years. But you can’t know how they’re doing if you don’t monitor them.

Follow the progress of your asset by using these tools:

With these tools, you can keep tabs on where your asset is traveling across the web, and then make sure it’s linked correctly. If the link is broken, follow up with the webmaster to ask to have it fixed.

At some point you can re-purpose and re-introduce the content to get a fresh boost of eyeballs. But if you are not keeping track of all the mentions and links, then you won’t be able to find fresh places to promote it.

Start today

Can you see now how the linkable asset is a pretty big task? It takes time to create, and you may not succeed on your first try. In fact, the odds are that you will probably fail. But that’s why it’s important to share a prototype to a small audience to help you work out the kinks and see if it will have a wider adoption.

Have you created a linkable asset? Share your tips and advice with us in the comments.

Neil Patel is an online marketing consultant and the co-founder of KISSmetrics. He also blogs at Quick Sprout.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

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How to Systematically Build a Mountain of Links


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