6 Ways to Boost Your Blog Traffic in the New Year

6 ways to boost your blog traffic in the new yearThis post is based on Episode 177 of the ProBlogger podcast.

Did your blog have a bit of a holiday slump?

Many bloggers find they lose momentum with their traffic in January. So if it happened to you, you’re not alone.

Your readers were probably online less than usual. A lot of my fellow Aussie bloggers struggle at this time of year because their readers are enjoying the beach or off on vacation.

You may have taken some time away from blogging as well to spend time with friends and family.

But now you’re back at your desk, and want to start working on your blog in earnest.

Today, we’ll be looking at six things you can do to boost your traffic and get it back to where it was (or perhaps even higher).

Tip #1: Focus on Creating Shareable Content

Head to BuzzSumo.com and type in your URL. You’ll discover what content from your site was shared the most during the previous year.

Look at the top three or four posts and ask yourself, “Could I repurpose that content into a different medium?”

Maybe you could turn a blog post into a video or a SlideShare presentation. Perhaps it could even become a podcast.

If something’s been shared a lot as a blog post, and you repurpose it into another type of content, chances are the new version will be shared a lot too.

Another question to ask is, “Could I update this?” Perhaps you could do a second post with a fresh take on that topic for the new year.

You could also ask yourself, “How could I apply this format to a new topic?” For instance, on Digital Photography School posts such as “21 Mistakes that Wedding Photographers Make” always do well. A post like that could be repurposed for a different part of our audience. How about “21 Mistakes that Travel Photographers Make”, for instance, or “21 Mistakes that Portrait Photographers Make”?

Other options are to do a roundup post (where you link to other people’s content on the topic, as well as your own), or even interview influencers in your niche about that topic.

Tip #2: Create a Highly Valuable ‘Mega Post’

On Digital Photography School, we sometimes publish what we call ‘mega posts’. These are long, in-depth posts that are often titled “The Ultimate Guide to…”

Here are a couple of examples:

With these posts we choose one of our categories (e.g. “landscape photography”) and put together a 5,000–7,000-word post that covers the area in depth. They take a lot of time and effort, but they get shared a lot.

Along with the post, we normally create an email opt-in where readers can enter their email address to get a downloadable version of the post. So these posts also help us grow our email list.

To make the most of the time you invest in creating mega posts, you might also want to turn them into an autoresponder series or a free online course. You could also repurpose the content for SlideShare or for videos.

Tip #3: Create a Series of Blog Posts

Another great way to build momentum is to run some kind of event or project on your site. An ongoing series of blog posts – particularly one that addresses a core problem your readers want to tackle or a goal they want to reach – can really build excitement and anticipation.

Announce the series to your readers, and explain what’s coming up. This gives them a reason to subscribe and keep coming back to your blog.

You might even want to build some sort of challenge into your series. This gets your readers not just reading your content but also taking some action. I first did this with the “31 Days to Build a Better Blog” series, which gave readers a little bit of homework each day.

Getting readers to engage and participate can really build a sense of energy around your blog. And it can help you grow your traffic a lot.

During the series, you may want to publish content more frequently than usual. When I ran the “Find Your Blogging Groove Challenge” on the ProBlogger podcast, I did a week of daily shows (instead of publishing two shows a week). Each day there was a little bit of teaching and a challenge. This resulted in a huge increase to our download numbers during that week. And even when I returned to the normal frequency, the numbers were still higher than they were beforehand.

Tip #4: Create Guest Content in Other Places Online

You’ve probably come across the idea of “guest blogging” before. But guest content can encompass a lot more than just blog posts (though those are still well worth doing).

Your guest content could include:

  • Answering questions in Facebook groups relevant to your blog (without spamming or being overly self-promotional). People in the group will see how useful your answers are, and this will naturally drive traffic to your site.
  • Being interviewed as a guest on someone else’s podcast. (Here are some tips on how to pitch yourself as a guest.)
  • Taking part in an organised Twitter chat, perhaps as a guest or the main interviewee.

With all of these, you’re adding value to someone else’s blog or podcast. And in return you get to borrow their audience and profile.

You can find more about these ideas and others in Episode 37 of the ProBlogger podcast.

Tip #5: Warm Up Your Email List

Sometimes our traffic drops off because our email list activity has also dropped off. If you haven’t sent an email to your list recently (or you’ve only been sending promotional emails), send them something useful.

For example, you could answer some frequently asked questions you get. Or you could write a short article that tackles a particular problem your readers may have.

Another good thing to do here is to update your autoresponder sequence (a sequence of emails that go out automatically to new subscribers). They can easily become dated over time, and refreshing them to highlight your best recent content can really help drive traffic.

You can learn more about autoresponders in Episode 70 of the podcast.

Tip #6: Pick a Fight (Yes, Really!)

Name something big you want to attack as a community, and announce it to your readers.

I’m not suggesting you pick a fight with another person, or that you pick a fight for the sake of being controversial. Instead, choose something you’re going to be passionate about during the next few weeks or months. Something you want to take a stand on.

It might be tied in with a series of posts you’re writing. For instance, I was talking to a blogger who writes about fashion for mums, and she’d decided to write a post each month on the topic of body image to help readers think more positively about it.

Fights can be positive. By giving your readers something to rally around, something to believe in, you can really build momentum on your site.

Any one of these things could get your traffic out of a slump. And if you can do several of them, you’ll hopefully give your site a real boost, creating energy and anticipation among your readers.

If you try any of these – or something else completely – to grow your traffic, leave a comment below to tell us how you got on.

Image Credit: SpaceX

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270: How One Blogger Changed Her Life by Starting a Blog

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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271: How One Blogger Simplified Starting a Blog by Sharing the Load

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 to Write Short Sentences and Paragraphs the Right Way (and Why It Matters)

How to write short sentences and paragraphs (and why it matters)

This is a post by ProBlogger writing expert Ali Luke

If you’ve been blogging for a while, I’m sure you’ve come across the advice to write short sentences and paragraphs.

There are good reasons for this. And it has nothing to do with “dumbing down” the language or short attention spans (though they can certainly be a factor).

For decades researchers have known we don’t read on a computer screen the same way we read on a printed page. It’s more tiring to read on a screen, and “white space” (the blank, empty space on a page) is important for helping readers take in what they’re reading.

And in the past decade reading blogs on mobile devices has taken off. A lot of your readers will be reading on a five- or six-inch screen, and if your post is on a complex topic this can really slow them down. Using short, clear sentences and paragraphs can help.

How to Split Up Long Paragraphs

My personal rule of thumb is to split any paragraphs that take up more than three lines in the Word document or Google doc where I’m drafting. You might feel differently.

Here’s an example of a particularly long paragraph (adapted from my post How Long Should Your Blog Post Be?):

The next key consideration is whether your readers would prefer shorter or longer posts. If you already have a reasonable number of readers, you could survey them to find out. You could also take a look at your most popular posts in Google Analytics, or the posts that get the most comments or shares. Does short or long content seem to resonate better with your audience? You might potentially find that your readers like a mix of posts. Maybe they want fairly short and to-the-point posts most of the time, with a much longer piece of content occasionally thrown in.

In the original, that content is split into two paragraphs:

The next key consideration is whether your readers would prefer shorter or longer posts. If you already have a reasonable number of readers, you could survey them to find out. You could also take a look at your most popular posts in Google Analytics, or the posts that get the most comments or shares. Does short or long content seem to resonate better with your audience?

You might potentially find that your readers like a mix of posts. Maybe they want fairly short and to-the-point posts most of the time, with a much longer piece of content occasionally thrown in.

But if you wanted to you could split it even further. For instance, you might decide to turn the first sentence into its own short paragraph to help readers who are scanning or skimming:

The next key consideration is whether your readers would prefer shorter or longer posts.

If you already have a reasonable number of readers, you could survey them to find out. You could also take a look at your most popular posts in Google Analytics, or the posts that get the most comments or shares. Does short or long content seem to resonate better with your audience?

You might potentially find that your readers like a mix of posts. Maybe they want fairly short and to-the-point posts most of the time, with a much longer piece of content occasionally thrown in.

Can You Go Too Far With Short Paragraphs?

Although some blogs use very short paragraphs habitually, I think you can go too far with this. I wouldn’t put each sentence as its own paragraph. The text would end up looking choppy, making it harder for the reader to get a sense of the flow of ideas.

Here’s an example of what your text might look like if you went too far:

The next key consideration is whether your readers would prefer shorter or longer posts.

If you already have a reasonable number of readers, you could survey them to find out.

You could also take a look at your most popular posts in Google Analytics, or the posts that get the most comments or shares.

Does short or long content seem to resonate better with your audience?

You might potentially find that your readers like a mix of posts.

Maybe they want fairly short and to-the-point posts most of the time, with a much longer piece of content occasionally thrown in.

When Might You Not Split a Long-ish Paragraph?

Sometimes you’ll have a slightly longer-than-usual paragraph that you don’t want to split. There are a couple of key cases where this might happen:

  • When you’ve created a list of bullet points. While you can have multiple paragraphs within one bullet, it may look a bit odd. (If you have a lot of content for each point, I’d find a different way to display the list.)
  • When you’re using single paragraphs for the “tip” or “example” sections of a post. For instance, in my post Seven Sure-Fire Ways to Annoy a Blog Editor (and What to Do Instead) I wanted each “Instead” section to be a single paragraph (even though that meant some of them were a little longer than I’d normally go for).

How to Write Short Sentences

When you were at school, you were probably taught that a sentence needs to contain a subject and a verb. These are all complete sentences:

He ran.

She ran around the park.

After warming up, he ran around the park and down the road, before jogging over the bridge.

But when it comes to blogging you can use sentence fragments so long as they still read smoothly. This can add a sense of pace to your writing.

For instance:

After warming up, he ran around the park. Down the road. Over the bridge.

We know what “down the road” refers to where he ran. It’s not technically a sentence (it’s a sentence fragment), but it works fine for a blog post.

Now let’s look at what you can’t do when splitting up that sentence. You can’t take off the first clause (“after warming up”) and turn it into its own sentence:

After warming up. He ran around the park.

If you’re going to use sentence fragments, they need to make sense before the reader reads the next few words. “After warming up” doesn’t work on its own.

If you’re not sure about a particular short sentence, try reading that part of your post out loud. It can help you decide whether or not it’s working.

Here are a couple of examples of short sentences in action. See what you think of the sentences. Are they working for you? Would you read the rest of the piece?

Example #1:

Example of sentence fragments from Copyblogger.

(From 5 Timeless Ways to Earn Your Audience’s Time and Attention, Sonia Simone, Copyblogger)

Example #2:

Example of sentence fragments from The Write Life

(From Hey, Freelancers: This New Tool Could Make Your LIfe a Lot Easier, Jamie Cattanach, The Write Life)

If You’re Struggling to Write Good Short Sentences

You might find it tricky to work with sentence fragments. Perhaps English isn’t your native language, or you find it hard to “hear” whether your writing sounds right.

That’s fine. You don’t have to use sentence fragments at all. Just look out for any long or complicated sentences and try to simplify them.

The Hemingway Editor is a useful tool here. It will highlight long sentences so you can try splitting them up. (But occasional long sentences are fine, so don’t feel pressured to follow the app’s suggestions every time.)

Demo of the Hemingway editor

Ultimately, the great thing about having your own blog is that it’s your blog!

If you want to develop a punchy, hard-hitting style with lots of short sharp sentences, you can. If you want a chatty, conversational style with short simple paragraphs, go for it. If you want to write in a more thoughtful, detailed way, that’s fine too. Just keep in mind that you might want to break up your paragraphs a little more than if you were writing a book.

You don’t need to get it right in your first draft, either. Write your post however you like, then tweak the sentence and paragraph lengths when you edit it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Do short sentences and paragraphs work for you? Do you feel it’s possible to go too far? Share your ideas and tips in the comments.

Image credit: Victor Garcia

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272: How Networking and Interviewing Helped One Blogger Build Her Blog

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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273: How One Blogger Turned a Painful Situation into a Life-Changing Blog

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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