What is attractive about self improvement through blogging?

If I were to ask you what is attractive about self improvement through blogging, how would you respond?

Let’s break that question down a bit to what is attractive about self improvement?

What is attractive about self improvement through blogging

Where do I start with self improvement? Where would you?

Role Playing Games

You will know if you like the outcome of self improvement if you like playing Role Playing Games or RPGs as they are otherwise known.

Why?

Role Playing Games require development of your character, sometimes through statistics, sometimes through the equipment or weaponry they carry. You start off weak and weedy as a character but then progress up the chain to a capable unit, capable of taking on much bigger tasks. On that journey your character develops uniquely, you favour some ways of doing things over others and you have an individual capable of greatness standing before you.

 

What about Blogging?

Blogging has a vast number of skill sets. A person looking on the outside who has never tried their hand at blogging will be unaware of the complexity under the surface that goes into making a successful blog.

A blog is not just the sum of its articles.

Whether you blog for money or personal enjoyment the same fact is true; you seek an audience.

 

Which skill sets are improved?

With Blogging the predominant skill set is fairly obvious.

  • Writing

As you grow as a writer you learn more skills in writing, whatever language you favour. You hone your craft of presenting your ideas in a conversational manner. You learn to seek out the key points and summarise your work more effectively thus cutting the fluff and keeping it simple. You do this to allow the reader to skim more effectively. You become a reader pleaser.

But writing is just the tip of the iceberg!

  • Art and Presentation

Blog posts are nothing without images. With this you have two options. Search out those that you can use without getting into trouble or create something yourself. You have to have an eye for what you are looking for and have to present it in a good way. You might end up learning techniques in software you haven’t used before and this will make you grow.

  • Photography

Photography sits as a skill in its own right but does fall as a sub category of art. You may choose to follow this path to supplement the visual content you need to produce for your articles. This skill may be required if your product is something you can take a picture of and show off. Pictures of high quality, well taken and relevant, are of high value.

  • Videography

Moving on a step from photography, the moving image may be required if you plan to produce tutorials, have conversations or otherwise present your authority, product or service. You may need to intertwine some of the other art, presentation and photography skills you have used before. You will learn many techniques including improving your oratory skill, the ability to make speeches to others.

  • Social networking

In order to publicise your work and get traffic to it other than from search engines, you will have to engage in social networking. It is not even a question. You will have to do it. You will learn how to exploit ways of publicising by simply having conversations, by engaging with others, and by helping people. My article on the Social Path to Blogging covers more on this.

Of course Social networking comes in many flavours. It is a very diverse skill set. You will be presented with more than just one type of core activity. On some sites visual stimulus carries more weight than words and vice versa. You have to find what social site works best for you and strategise around how you capitalise on a competitive advantage.

  • Marketing and PR

Your blog is a window to the world. Blog Prefect, on day of writing, has citizens from 27 countries who have viewed this content. You will nurture public relations through the use of your new Social networking skillset and hopefully the better you are at performing social networking, the better you’ll be at public relations. Of course if you are selling via your blog you may need to employ Marketing as a skill. Here you are likely to learn many sub skills such as Copy Writing, presenting endorsements from others, producing quality advertising, leveraging your publishing network and more besides.

  • Planning

Generally you will need to schedule and strategise how you will go about launching your content, when it will be marketed, and what you will do to cope with the results of your campaign. Planning is an intrinsic component to any blog that has intent. Otherwise you become a shotgun writer.

There are countless other skill sets that you may or may not improve as a side effect of producing your blog. If you are writing on a niche topic like baking cakes, you will undoubtedly learn better techniques in order to decorate your cakes to improve how they look for the camera.

Often these skill sets diversify and branch off into uncharted territory.

 

Returning to the question

What is attractive about self improvement through blogging?

There is a journey that many people embark upon when blogging. It can have ups and downs and a blogger will write about both. There are not many overnight successes. Everything requires effort. Part of the fun is learning about how to get there, the other part is seeing the results.

 

Part of the attraction is the frustration

The saying goes that:

Nothing is worth having if it was easy

You can get a great sense of achievement out of something that didn’t come easy because invariably you will learn more and grow more. Easy wins are never as fruitful as hard fought ones. You remember the demanding wins far more than the landslide victory.

You may find, like I have, that certain areas that you feel should be easy, are not. I’m talking about Facebook and Twitter in particular. I’ve struggled with both and found them to be draining on my resources. I abandoned the buildup of those target zones for Google+ and in doing so have probably missed the richest communities of people who want to read about what I’m writing. I hold my hands up to that.

I have said no to 1 billion people.

Twitter presents a dirge of information, a lot of it useless and mindless. Connecting with the right people is hard unless you cheat and those people often tend to be fickle. Twitter is supposedly the big gun in the arsenal but I scratch my head with it but at least I have some forward momentum.

Facebook is less successful but part of why I struggle with it is because I’m offput by polluting my posting circle with my precious blog. I don’t want certain people knowing what I’m up to. I generally have more colleagues than friends on my personal Facebook. The Community page I created for blogprefect is a dead loss and I’ve given up. So, why haven’t I created a business profile instead?

It goes against what Yogi bear has told me.

You’ll never fail if you never give up!

I should listen to Yogi more. He’s right!

Getting past the frustration is so very relieving in the end. Once you get that light bulb or that one lucky hit. It all changes. You feel like a winner! No matter how you got there, what tips and tricks you had to exploit, what stones you had to turn. Even if you had to technically cheat, you got there.

That in turn builds you as a person. Strengthens you. That is what is attractive about self improvement through blogging. That challenge is always there.

 

What is attractive about self improvement through blogging? Can you answer that? What are your thoughts?

 

Related articles:

The social path to blogging

 

The 2014 Gamble

The 2014 gamble is an inspired year’s project (50 weekends so nearly a year) to see how taking risks works out. These risks are small risks in the scheme of things.

Roll the Dice

A foreword…

In 2013 I complained about the game Candy Crush and how micro-transactions open up “at risk” individuals to the dangers of gambling addiction, you can read the article here. You would be fair to claim that in part I’m a bit of a hypocrite for taking this project on. I am trying to prove that these gambles rarely pay off and that you should just go the conventional route of hard work and networking. If I am proved wrong by my endeavours I will be pleasantly surprised.

I’m not a Bible basher by any means. I’ve gambled a few times in my life and don’t dish out the hellfire. Ultimately gambling is a sin. For some people an “addictive personality” is a very negative personality trait and a true illness. For those of us with restraint, gambling can be an occasional piece of entertainment.

 

What about Risk?

Life is often about assessing and responding to risk. We take a bit of risk to improve our situation after we’ve calculated the possible outcome and weighed up the result.

There is a sliding scale between Extreme Risk Takers such as those found in the banking world (among whom some have been arrested) and Risk Averse (such as the Royal family).

Sometimes to reap a reward you have to put yourself in the risk zone and go against a conservative mindset to succeed.

I’m not talking purely business!  Alternative examples include:

  • Snowing off piste for the virgin snow unaware of shifting boulders and crevices under the skis
  • Nabbing that rare dead butterfly at the edge of a cliff for the collection
  • Playing a real game of Frogger whilst trying to get home at rush hour

 

We calculate the risk and roll the dice.

 

I am going to take a risk this year but a scientific one for the purposes of writing about it. I feel I swing on the risk averse side of the pendulum.

I’ve previously slated such services provided by SEOClerks and their shady ilk, yet I will court with those providers freely and unashamed in this project.

£100 is a fair wedge, 100 Brit Bucks, a Ton.

I am going to spend £100 on various “boosts” to try to get my site turning a profit on one hand as there is quite a lot you can do with £100. It works out at $164 at current exchange rates.

On the other hand:

  • I am going to spend another £100 on the National Lottery.

I’m intrigued to see which gamble turns out better but I have an inkling of which one will do better in the long run. Which do you hedge your bets with?

 

The Strategy

 

Beyond paying for tickets there is little strategy needed for the National Lottery. I’ll be buying 1 ticket every Saturday for 50 Saturdays. Simple and elegant.

For what I describe as “Boosts” the lowest value on average is $4 from Fourer (A Fiverr clone). I have calculated that in order to keep pace with the Lottery I’d have to buy a boost every other week. Therefore on a fortnightly Sunday I will buy a Boost from a site like (or including) Fiverr. I may have surplus left to spend by the end of the year so to compensate I will buy slightly bigger boosts towards the end of the run.

Success Criteria

 

I will know if the gamble paid off with Success Criteria. It is pointless setting a project in motion if you don’t know what the end goal is or what you are trying to achieve.

National Lottery

 

The 2014 Gamble Plan

Show me a plan Stan!

For the National Lottery the Success Criteria (the tipping point between profit and loss) will be if I make more in winnings than I spent in buying tickets. Therefore I have to be “UP” at the end of 51 weeks.

 

The amount to be classed as a success is £101 in winnings.

 

  • Each Lottery ticket costs £2.
  • Each ticket in addition to the variety of prize winnings from matching certain number combos also has a raffle ticket with a prize of £20,000.
  • I will be partaking in the standard Lotto ticket rather than the Thunderball. The Thunderball has a higher chance of success but the prize total is considerably lower.
  • I will be purchasing these tickets online.

 

Traffic Boosts

 

For the Boost Success Criteria I have to drive enough traffic and conversions to make enough money from my Gig(s) on Fiverr. My current Gig isn’t doing very well since it launched in 2013. I may need to develop some other Gigs that are a bit more useful but overall I have to produce £101 in Gig sales in 51 Sundays time.

 

Icebreaker Comment

Several months and no purchases. Needs Improvement.

The amount to be classed as a success is £101 in gig profit. I have to sell 41 gigs @ $5 less $1 commission.

 

  • Fiverr charges 20% so a standard gig will only produce $4 income. Gig Extras in excess of $5 also have this same commission percentage. I have to sell 41 gigs at $5 to make in excess of $164 at current exchange rate. This might change if I can add Gig extras considered useful to the buyer.
  • To convert $ to £ I will most likely be hit with a conversion charge from PayPal. I will factor this later.
  • I will be using a mix of micro-job sites for these boosts.

 

Milestones

I will be reporting back on each quarter (April for Q1, July for Q2, October for Q3 and January for Q4). In each report, I will be detailing the boosts I purchased, what they were purchased for and how successful they were.

 

Why am I selling on Fiverr?

Currently this site is the most established. Yes it is quite possible that one of the clones may actually work out better and there are a big list of these. Fiverr has a big community already and going by my favourite strategy observation; “weight of number” will definitely contribute more favourably.

 

Mentioned articles:

Audience Building: 5 Steps

Audience Building

Rome didn’t build their audience in one day!

In one short sentence Audience Building is hard! It is made harder when you have not built networks to support the audience before, when you are new and green, when you haven’t got a clue. That’s how I started out. Unless you do some serious research, you’ll have a shaky start too.

 

Audience Building is not an Exact Science!

You need to know how to approach certain subjects and release them with an audience afterglow. When I refer to afterglow, I mean some sustained interest after date of publish in following months.

 

Audience Building is difficult in the early days!

What is not transparent in the early days is why it is difficult to Audience Build.

There is a muddy layer to everything you do because you don’t always know what is and isn’t working. Clarity only comes later when you understand more.

In the early days you will either see low or non-existent numbers even if everything you think you are doing, to optimize or position, is performed to the letter.

 

What is wrong with your approach?

  1. You may not have the social networks or the social interest needed to fire up the social signals that the search engines need to rank you higher.
  2. What you are providing information on, may not be what people are finding you under, which is increasing your bounce rate as a result. This may be because you’ve not been consistent with how you have organised content, labelled up images or otherwise presented information. Like all social events you need to find a way to satisfy your audience’s needs.
  3. You are trying to be like your competition, following all the same steps they take, adding all the bells and whistles they use, without considering yourself as an entity in its own right with a characteristic look and feel of its own. We call this a competitive advantage. What are you doing that nobody else does? How are you different? What value do you bring?

Any of these sound like you?

 

What you can do to remedy and enhance audience building!

 

Concentrate on the basics.

It is very simple because you:

  • Make sure you keep pages up to date
  • Make sure links work (you can get a plugin to automatically check for you)
  • Make sure images are stored in a long term position
  • Make sure you carry forward lessons you’ve learnt

Be original where you can.

Do this because:

  • It fights the competition
  • You won’t get people knocking on your door asking why you stole their content
  • It improves your portfolio of what you can do
  • The audience will start remembering your brand and will place a relationship between certain types of information they need and you providing it

Seek advice in communities.*

People want to help if you ask the right questions in the right way because they:

  • Want to boost their ego
  • Feel a sense of pride in helping
  • Want to promote their ideas to entice people to their content

* Cautionary note: Asking the right question in the right way is an important concept. I’m not talking Tom Cruise Scientology mumbo jumbo here. You have to be careful how you ask a question sometimes. It has to be concise, devoid of spelling or context errors and not too dumb. It’s also a good idea to follow up on the advice and determine if it is of value or not. Thanking someone for their help is also customary.

Seek a new friend in a similar boat and setup a mutual help scheme.

Collaboration is your best ally where:

  • The help goes further than just views and comments. You will be able to tighten your strategy and focus as a result
  • You form a relationship with your ally that you can use for other projects in future
  • You don’t want to pay professionals to teach you things that can be figured out simply with an extra head and a conversation

Most importantly as a piece of common sense:

Practice makes perfect!

I can’t see you going wrong as long as you employ the 5 steps in the early days. Those ideas will help you through the mire, keep you warm on the beaches of despair until you hike to the valley of success and place a smile on the face of others.

 

Related Articles:

 

This post is a product of:

Needs Improvement 002: Lifting a Straggler

Needs Improvement 002: Lifting a straggler

Welcome back to another installment of Needs Improvement. If you’ve read the first (which is highly unlikely because only 1 person read the very first) you will know that this post is about re-working those previous articles that hit the Internet floor like a sack of spuds.

This is a task that any blog writer worth their stripes will undertake. I go into detail about what decisions you might want to take to employ it.

The Needs Improvement series involves an important concept.

taok - 001 - kaizenflagKaizen – Everything can be improved

You will also know that this is a Japanese term if you’ve read the first in the series. The Japanese symbol to the right is how Kaizen is represented in Japanese.

The Japanese are good in terms of how they setup their business for efficiency. Train systems in Japan work very effectively and efficiency because every part of the process is micro-managed. Delays are very rare occurrences.

The Japanese invented the term JIT or Just In Time. A manufacturing delivery system that provides the raw components just in time for the next process. This was devised because Japan has very little space to store things as land values are high. Turning around the items in a factory efficiently reduces the need for storage both for the company and any third party supplier.

 To quote greatly from the first piece in this workshop series:

My blog is my production line, my posts are my product.

The post in question

The post that I cast my gaze upon is one of the first that I gave birth to.

Trials of audience building: Generating page views and followers based on potential traffic

  • This post was originally posted on 17th June 2013
  • It was later updated on the 21st October 2013

I gave this post a short keyword of Audience Building somewhat destroying the “potential” of this post going further. The article did okay in terms of attracting some viewing. In total (you may laugh) it attracted 10 views.

I’m not sure on reflection that what it conveyed was valuable. It was too theoretical in scope. Too rhetorical (an unanswered question or a question best left unanswered).

Some of the key saving points for this post were that I came back to the piece and added approximately 800  more words, enhancing its initial reach. I also republicised it through more accepting communities on my social media platform of choice, Google+.

It still didn’t hit the right note. The content should have done better out of the box.

The Post’s DNA

Post length 1412 words.

Structure: It is well constructed but I’ve noticed that some of the paragraphs are quite weighty and it hasn’t been presented in my newer format.

Readability: Needs some work. The ending is weak and doesn’t really ask a question.  The sentence lengths are too long. There are no lifting elements such as quotes or bold elements.

Takeaway value: In terms of use to a reader, in reflection, I would class it as low rent. There aren’t many lists or much to take away from it. It’s not hugely re-readable so its a bit shallow. I need to think more about the audience which is ironic consider the content.

Image use: There are 3 images. There is no standout main image. I am probably in breach of a copyright with Warner Brothers with one image.

Direction: The post is a little confused. It adds some of my anecdotes which is all well and good but it doesn’t have a complete flow. The post has too long a start, too short a middle and too weak an ending.

The verdict

In Needs Improvement on NI001 I gave myself two options. Fix the existing or Re-Bake. I give myself the same option here.

I think that re-working the old post would actually involve re-writing most of the content anyway so its door number 2.

Re-Bake

I enjoy the re-bake process for two reasons:

  1. I already know what the content is, so feel confident.
  2. I know that this post will do better than the previous.

There is a bonus reason:

  • I can make the post more open ended so that it can be updated more thoroughly.

The Process

  • Re-Write the content.
  • Involve a community for some collective aid.
  • Finish the work and publish.
  • Publicise.

 

The results will be displayed 1 month on (approximately from the launch of the re-baked article). Check back for more information.

8th January Update

Audience Building: 5 steps was published today. No initial views recorded.

 

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