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How to Write a Blog Post That Drives Traffic

Lesson 5 of 10

Logistics for Getting Started

Darren Murph

How to Write a Blog Post That Drives Traffic

Darren Murph

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Lesson Info

5. Logistics for Getting Started


  Class Trailer
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1 Class Introduction Duration:08:21
  Class Trailer
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1 What Makes a Great Story? Duration:15:22
2 Blog Post Components Duration:19:12
3 Understand Traffic & Growth Duration:08:33

Lesson Info

Logistics for Getting Started

So the next few slides were going to talk about hardcore logistics on getting started these are actual nuts and bolts of actually building this thing out and this is more for beginning bloggers if you're already into it some of this maybe pretty familiar but I'm going to give you some opinions on why I think these are the best ways to get started yeah for we kind of diving insurance so I had one more question over from cindy, she says I blogged about all the aspects of my creative life paper crafts kids crafts, recipe development, party planning, etcetera uh, I know that by having such a diverse set of topics much of my audience won't care about all the topics, but in theory I have something for everyone no, she wants to know what your thoughts are on one blogger covering multiple subjects versus some more focus block yeah it's a it's a good point I would recommend in something is diverse is that probably setting up separate blocks even when it came to engadget we had to have a huge di...

scussion on how do we cover vehicles because we had written about technology and all of a sudden vehicles had just a cz much technology in them as watches, phones and everything else and so we had to decide do we create a new property and new block to cover automotive or do we funnel it into thean gadget home and eventually we decided to fund lit in because it was only going to be about ten percent of our coverage but if it ends up being a full third or a half of what you're doing, you may want to consider noting another one and it doesn't really cost anything to do it and your and your shirt up to target and hone in on a specific audience. And so speaking of free and simple to use wordpress is where I would recommend starting there are tons of platforms for blocking on you confined recommendations for all of them my preference is wordpress I've used a lot of them but this is the one that I use this is the one that my wife uses for her wedding photography business here's the reason I recommend this it's free it's easy to use support is top shelf and it's infinitely flexible so you don't have to know what you're doing on web designed to make your block look good to me this is critical because the last thing a new blogger a writer needs is for someone to tell them you also have to learn html on web design I mean if you want to do that great, you have plenty of jobs in the valley but if you don't this is the kind of thing that you could get from wordpress this was a fifty dollar theme that I purchased from theme forest by a designer that's far more talented than I am and so I used this rustic design on my own block but you'll see just in this one theme they have one for recommended for start ups and then there's one for if you have a small boutique agency or design from uh then there's just a one pager if you're starting a new business and you just want to get people familiar with what you're doing these air absolutely gorgeous designs and they're all playing play amazingly enough playing play so this is why we're recommend wordpress because there are a lot of themes that you could just plug into it and make your stuff look absolutely awesome so let's talk about the world press back and I'm not going to dive in too deep here but I just want to give you a glimpse that this is what wordpress looks like this is this is how the sausage is made this is where a block post begins this incredibly daunting looking panel with all these buttons and boxes but once you do it a time or two it's actually not that bad so just a few recommendations I have when you're getting started on this always right outside of this this is a content management system this is the back and onward press it looks very inviting to just put your cursor here and start riding but here's the thing this is inside of a web browser which is a very finicky program on your already finicky computer, and if your web browser just decides to stop working halfway that your post it's a very sad day, so I would recommend writing in text at it or microsoft word anything that has auto say functionality because you don't want to lose too much of your work. Then once you've read it there pasted into the web, the web is far more finicky than micro software. So yes, save often I mean that's something that you don't really think about. You're just blowing through the post. You've got a good roll going save often it's very frustrating to lose your work. Be careful with draft and publish setting so you'll see save draft over here that can very quickly. Uh, if you if you missed that box and go for the published box, that thing is on is on the web and it happens instantaneously. So especially for new bloggers. Be really careful. What's draft what's published. What will be live and what's. Not that way. You make sure things go lie when you want to. Not when you least expect it. Let's, talk about cadence. Um, I recommend an editorial calendar, even for new bloggers. And a lot of wordpress has a built in calendar, too, which is very useful. Some people may prefer google calendar, where they just put a little reminder in on a certain day in a certain time is that this is when this post is going live. One cool thing about wordpress is it allows you to schedule post, so if you write something on a tuesday, but you know you wanted to go live on saturday morning, you don't actually have to be in front of the computer on saturday morning to make that happen. You could schedule that up if you know your audience likes to read your stuff on the weekends and they have extra time that's when you wanted to go live, you can make it happen. What I love about annette is world calendar is especially in a small business where you may get five, six, seven post a week going it's really hard to keep that straight in your head, especially if you have seasonal promotions that air coming up. How do you know when the first post is going up? Is the last post going to go up before the promotion ends really hard to just keep that straight in your head or in a notebook and editorial calendar allows you to structure this so that's one less thing you have to worry about, um in an engadget you know, when we had big trade shows we knew we had to have certain post up at certain times and if you don't have a calendar it's just total mayhem so save yourself some sanity get a calendar there free with bored press or good opera for google calendar I'm curious to know like from our students here we're getting lots of feedback online but our students here do you guys have a content calendar? Is that sort of ah foreign concept to you? Does anybody already have one that they use yeah, you do better yeah we, um set one up in uh google docks because I share it with my assistance yeah, and I have a lot of guest writers so I have open blocks that eye right in I have there I've re occurring columnists and then I'll have open spots yeah especially I mean it's it's really vital if you're a one man show on the block but as soon as you get other people that can contribute it's a necessity because keeping people on the same page so they don't publish right on top of each other without a calendar it it becomes pretty tough on dso it's it's it's easy to set up but it's you know it's a little bit of a pain to maintain but it's totally worth it you want to know when you're content is going up so I want to give you this quote here. John sappington has been blogging for over ten years longer than me, which is wild. He was one of the first bloggers to ever block. Maybe maybe the first blogger ever. I don't know. I think you started in oh, two o three writers blogging platforms were coming out of the web. He was one of the first ones to adopt and he's still blogging strong today. And he says, the reality is that blogging, like most things, is a muscle that I need to work out daily. It's mental exercise that I want to do most days but often I am not as interested or motivated to do it, but I still get up and do it over time. That metaphorical muscle has been trained to work well in every condition, even as I travel or take breaks in other areas of my life. It's what I love about this is this is one of the world's best bloggers. Who's been doing it for an extremely long time, even through having a child moving to various cities, taking different jobs. One constant in his life has been riding, and he never got into writing. For that to be his career and it never actually has been but as he has moved into different areas and different businesses his ability to write has transferred to all of those so as he's changed businesses he still was able to block for them and he also blocks for himself he has a few small side projects on the side of this his personal blogged basically lets people get to know him before they before they reach out to work with him on a consultative basis or whatnot so he blocks for work he blog's personally but even his lots of things change in life the blogging stayed constant and he gets up and he does it every day so reaching back to the point about doing a daily he doesn't publish every day but he does it every day uh and even if you don't have a great construct of what you need your blood to be now or what impact you wanted to have now I love things like this because it's sze just to it it will benefit you in some way the ability to block and the ability to just write on a whim it's it's a great great skill tohave so coming back to your question on what do I do if I don't have the luxury of a copy editor how do I know if what I'm writing is great if it's poor what needs changed feedback is absolutely essential and so what I would recommend to begin with is talk to people in your friend's circle see if anyone has added any experience writing maybe you know in english major maybe someone that teaches english somewhere even in grade school anything like that is very useful see if that they'll take a look at what you're writing send them a rough draft asked for feedback amazingly you'll only need about five or six of those before you see some commonalities when I've been instructing new new writers usually the first five or six pieces I'll pick out the same mistakes five or six times and then they get it eventually you'll see commonalities and what you're doing wrong or what you could do better it's usually not a wide variety of things it's usually just a few things so reach out your network of friends see if there's anybody that would give you feedback and would be an act as a sounding board if you don't have that luxury or even if you do you want to take it one step further I would really encourage people to enable comments on their block now I know a lot of publications have taken them off because the blocks have become so big that the influx of comments is just completely unmanageable and if you get to that point congratulations you've made it but until you do open up comments people are incredibly honest probably to a fault on the internet and so if you put something out there and something is a little incorrect, or you could do something a little bit better, they'll probably tell you about it, and they would definitely tell you about it if you include a call to action at the end asking for feedback if you put something in the end, it says I'd love to know what you think. Let me know in comments, people love that if you put it open invitation at the bottom of every post, they most likely will take advantage of that. So this is just a screenshot of of comments from an article I wrote it in gadget, and you'll see the variety, the last piece, absolutely great piece, and I made an account just to say so bring more journalism like this to engadget, so this is on a peace out route. So obviously I read this and it's the best feeling of the day. I can't believe it. This is awesome, but then but then open the top interesting news, looking forward to seeing how this works out just a few ned picks for you, and then he literally pulls out a quote, had to erect a wall. That that's something that I wrote I take it that you meant a firewall and when you write internet please capitalize the first letter amazing right so this is the same post mbd twelve is like best thing I've ever read I made an account just to tell you this guy's like a great piece but let me tell you a few things that you should have done better mr murphy and I love it I love it you know for eight years I got this you would see one extreme to the other but if you ask for feedback people love giving feedback everybody's a critic and especially on writing you'll get it but honestly I became a better writer because of this I mean I've have had some that are far more brutal than this but all for the best it's not personal they just want to make you a better writer and if you look at it that way you'll be all right so last thing here in this segment distribution once a post goes live if you've asked for feedback you've looked at the editorial counter you've locked it in its live on the internet now what do you do sometimes if you have a big enough blogged people will just come there because they're repeat visitor so with john gruber I go their weekly I'm just going to show up whether he wants me to or not he doesn't have to do any outreach I like his stuff I'm going to show up, but until you get there, this is a great content distribution checklist from buffer buffer is a social tool that helps you get broader reach, and they put together this really cool checklist and I love it because it's simple and it really relates to any block. Notify your email this so if you have an email sign up list, especially with small businesses, you khun, you'd have a field on your website that says, sign up for emails, and every time you put a block post out, you email that out to your newsletter list that's a great way to get it out there, talk about it to your internal team. So if you have guest writers, let them know that a post has gone up ask them to share it, ask them to talk to people who they I think it may relate to you. So I love this because it's not saying spam, everyone it's saying reach out to the influences that you mentioned so let's say you in the owner piece, for example, they mentioned one gentleman in particular. You would hope that owner would reach out to him when that is live and say, hey, this profile we wrote about you is live we would love for you to share that's the kind of thing that you need to be proactive on in making sure you're taking what you've got reaching out to people that care and getting that to be enhanced and act as a microphone a ce faras it will go so when we come back we're going to talk about deciphering a great story so we have one question before we go okay, okay, well, gosh, it's going like that? I actually just had a comment about the feedback I think it's important to respond to feedback also agree a lot of times I goto block and people will put questions in the comments and there's never a response and it's kind of frustrating. I agree completely so four bloggers that are going to ask for feedback, please please please make time to respond to the people that do you know I know what you mean. Uh, my farewell post on engadget had two or three hundred comments and I made time to apply to everyone one because it just meant so much to me. Maybe people are taking time out of their day to comment on something that I wrote about the least I can do is acknowledge it and you're right I mean, if you ever get to the big shot ego where you're too big to sign an autograph, your two big toe respond to a comment you know that's that's a dangerous place to be and I agree if you if you ask for feedback you know, thank them for it even if it's face to face if it's on if it's a comment on the block that's that is a form for conversation feedback is a forum for conversation and we're going to see an example later where a business use a comment thread tto learn something new about what they should be blocking you out, so by all means definitely respond notify your email list so uh haven't rs s set up people khun subscribe to the blog's so there's an automatic feed going out but then I have another email list that's for the bigger business that the block is a part of, so I'd like automation and I like the assess thing but it's added work for me too, to tell the bigger list because I have a lot of blood post going up and I don't want to bombard them so I might mention it once in a while, right? Yeah, one thing I would recommend on that if you have an incredible amount of content going out, you don't want to bombard people, you need to be sensitive to their email inbox, and one thing that I've I've seen happen is businesses will take let's say they published twelve post in a week, but on their satur on a saturday newsletter they'll send out one e mail with some of the snippets from some of the blocks that they've had, and so you get one consolidated look at everything that you missed. That's not very intrusive, you know, actually you may appreciate that like, wow, they send me one note to catch me up on the weak that's way better than something going out with every post. Now, if you're if you're a new blogger in your personal black and you're only doing one or three a week that's not so bad, but I think once you've tipped up one per day scale, you need to be sensitive to people's inbox because people are pretty quick to click and unsubscribe if you cross that line and stop or start bomb mourning them, so you have to be sensitive to it. Yeah, I have a comment about it. My favorite part is when you can go to manage your subscriptions and they give you choices, get a daily, weekly or monthly yes, and then you get like I don't like getting even quickly emails because I have a lot of them and when I get winning and she's mostly it's, just like five in the months, but the best ones this's like the best option. I agree, and with services like male chimp mill temp is a great one for automating the block post email newsletters that go out and if so, if you sign up with the service like male chimp you khun choose options like that and give your readership those options I would strongly encourage it if you get to the point where you're offering an email newsletter, go the extra step and give people a cz many options as they can to get it on their schedule. Absolutely, yeah, this is related in different, but there are the aggregators like scoop I think paper ally and what's your opinion about those kinds of distribution channels you know, to each his own, and some people love to receive new content through email. Some people love to just they made twitter list, and then they'll follow their favorite news services and they just want to get it in that format. So honestly, bloggers have to be ready for ah wide variety of distribution because you can't really tell what your readers going to prefer. Maybe they prefer twitter, maybe they prefer email that's why with this list it's like have it ready everywhere have it ready on facebook, have it ready on twitter and wherever they're at be ready to meet them on if it's in an aggregation service you know, sign up with them because it's one more place that you're content could get distributed so I don't really see a downside you just got to be sensitive to it and ready to adapt with based on what your audience well, I guess some people might say okay, if I do something like with scoop does that then replace the need for you know, the need email digest? I think that'd be the question yeah, I don't I don't think it replaces it I know it engadget there were so many ways you could get our content you could get an email to you could come to the site facebook twitter I mean services that don't even remember anymore I don't I don't think it replaces that just because your audience you can't really convince or persuade your audience to go to a different distribution mechanism if that's not what they really want. So if you're distributing your constant over facebook or twitter of you say you know what? It's just too much house for us sign up for the newsletter or you lose it that's a risky that's a risky thing to do and so while it is mohr legwork to stay involved with a broad variety of distribution networks it's it's kind of like one of the things you have had you in the business yeah yeah for sure thank you yeah yeah you have here on this uh content distribution checklist at a google alert long term promotion can you explain that? So this wouldn't apply to everything but especially with companies that are doing seasonal evergreen content? So for example, you're right something that has something to do with back to school season and it's a block post is talking about that it's good to add a google alert for that time of year every year to see if your block post gets an uptick in traffic or re coverage the next year because someone picks it up based on seasonality because you will have long since forgotten that you wrote this post a year ago but maybe another maybe a local newspaper google's it because it's the time of year they find your take on it and they source it in their article it be great if you know about that and so by setting up news alerts you khun be alerted to where your content is used long after you've forgotten about it. So in that case you could reach out to the newspaper like, oh, would you like another today, quote, I'd be happy to give you enough today, quote and maybe there's a networking opportunity there, so if you don't have those alerts, you're never going to know beyond like a very short period of time when you're paying attention to what kind of pick up is this getting that's when it's good for and just more specifically do you use a keyword to build that alert, the keyword or the title of the article earth? Yeah, I would. I would use both the title I would create to a large one for the title to see if somebody sourced it directly and then the other let's say, if it's if it's back to school promotions on uh on dress dress is let's say you make dresses back to school dresses combined in a alert every year check it out see if somebody's referenced yeah, thank you. Yeah so user nine, three, four four six see he wants to know do my topics need to match my business model topics managed the business model we have a business they have I would say overall yes they do. They need to have some alignment in in what your business model in the topics that you write about need to have some alignment but they don't necessarily have to be always aligned. Some of some of the most refreshing post of red at business blog's have had nothing to do with their core business. And this goes back to that own example that owner block post and more to do with travel in ambition. Then it did with photography, which is their core business model, so I like stepping out to some degree, but it can't be so so outside of the realm that you question why is there yeah, I had another question coming in here we had a couple of boats on this one so people were curious about it what is the best time to publish a block post? I know people here like oh my god it's gotta be tuesday at ten am or it's worthless like do you have any any guidelines for when people should pose weekends are actually great really because because a lot of people that didn't always used to be the case but we've reached this point where there's so much content we've almost reached the point of saturation on how much we can read in a workday and the weekends have now become the time where people actually kick back in it might actually read instead of just glossing over the headline's so I know a lot of businesses that I've worked with him changed their email newsletters to go out on the weekend saturday sunday at ten am give that a try uh if if that doesn't work you need to consider where your audience is if you're writing about topics very specific to silicon valley you need to be mindful that there in pacific time so sending it on an east coast schedule might not work out so well for them so you just got to be mindful of what the audience is but yeah, I would start with the weekend and then try weekdays if that doesn't work all right and then just just another one real quick sure uh, marco's rebus wants to know in defining your voice you mentioned the need to know what is unacceptable or taboo uh, what about if what you want with your blawg is to challenge the audiences taboos? No, I love that I don't have a problem with that whatsoever. When I was talking about that, I'm meant mohr specifically on let's go back to the flood victim example uh you just can't be you can't be bubbly in that type of situation like that's not challenging the status quo that's just being tone deaf toe what the audience has I love challenging? Uh, engadget most of what we wrote was challenging what so let's say microsoft gave us a press release on the phone and it told us all these things about it we would challenge that in our take on it is this really the best thing? Are there other things out there that could be compared to it? So I'm totally down with challenging you just can't be tone deaf to what the audience has it all right? I think will wrap up with one more general question here from another person who is just getting started and had a couple of votes on this, but they say what are some good topics or guidelines generally for your first block post to publish it? I guess you know, independent of your topic. If you're doing a first block post, doesn't have to be something that's like a welcome blocos like how do you really kicked things off? Yeah, I love the welcome idea, mostly because it just put something it's it's, a cornerstone that will always be at your blog's disposal. You can always like. If anybody comes in and becomes a reader two years down the road, they can always go back to post one and see welcome. This is what I'm about this's. What I hope this block is going to deliver. Please, please give me feedback. Laying that foundation early is great instead of just jumping right into it. So, yeah, I have, I have no problem with that. I mean, if you walk, if you walk up to someone on the street or you have a phone call with someone there's going to be something welcome exchange so the same, the same should go with blogging. Break the ice might as well.

Class Description

New writers routinely have trouble finding steady work, but it doesn’t have to be such a struggle. Put yourself on a path to long-term success and learn how to thrive in the freelance workforce in How to Write a Blog Post That Drives Traffic with Darren Murph.

Darren is the former editor-at-large for Engadget and holds the Guinness World Record® for being the most prolific professional blogger.

 In this class, Darren will help budding writers and bloggers:

  • Improve your writing skills
  • Spot the details others are missing
  • Build a portfolio that's too impressive to ignore
You’ll learn about the inner workings of publications and what editors are looking for in a writer or blogger. Darren will tell you which authors and publications to pay attention to and he’ll explain what kind of, and how much, work is involved in becoming a great writer. You’ll develop more clarity on how to improve, market, and monetize your work.

Develop the skills that will give you a competitive edge in a crowded marketplace in How to Write a Blog Post That Drives Traffic with Darren Murph.


Tom Jamieson

As a new writer, I found this fantastic. Darren was a pleasure to listen to and I would happily recommend this to anyone who is starting out writing for the first time in regards to a small business blog, which is the area that I am coming from. He probably has taught me to use fewer words, but that can wait until tomorrow. Great class Darren

Dawn Pedersen

There was a lot of good content here for anyone new to blogging. I am not new to it, but I did gain some insight. Just a note: the 4 EASY STEPS TO LOSE WEIGHT was an intentionally satirical/ironic headline, which you discover once you get to step 3. Step 3 was "getting your heart broken", which I'm guessing anyone would agree is actually far from easy. The humor and sudden depth of meaning are the reason the post got so many likes and comments.

a Creativelive Student

I thought this was a good course on writing effective blog posts. It didn't seem to be too focused on driving traffic, however, his way of presenting his thoughts and tips were easy to watch in a single shot. Great course for non-writers who are trying to become writers!