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How do You “Subscribe” to a Site?

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Before we begin, a very quick thought exercise: What do you think of when I say “Subscribe To This Blog”?

The reason I ask is simple. When I first started blogging heavily, “subscribing” to a site meant simply one thing, taking the RSS feed of a site and reading it in an RSS reader. It might have been a software RSS reader or a Web-based one, such as Google Reader, but the process was the same.

The only exception was a few sites, such as those using Feedburner, that offered email-based subscriptions, but those two were based on the RSS feed and automatically generated from it.

However, today, it means something very different. If you look at the top part of the side bar on this site, not to mention my own and countless others, you’ll see more subscription options including Facebook, Twitter and more.

“Subscribing” to a site is no longer just about the RSS feed but about connecting with it in the most convenient way possible and that is drastically changing the way visitors consume a site’s information.

Just Some of the Methods

Today, if I want to subscribe to a site, I don’t have to go to the RSS feed directly, instead, there are a myriad of ways I can do it including:

  1. Twitter: With more and more bloggers getting Twitter accounts and using it to tweet out their new posts, Twitter is an easy way for existing users to follow a site.
  2. Facebook: Though bloggers should be reconsidering their relationship with Facebook, Facebook provides “Like” pages and, with such a large user base, is a convenient way for others to read your site’s updates.
  3. FriendFeed: The social aggregation site is also useful for following a site as well as all of the blogger’s other sites.
  4. LinkedIn: Popular with businesses, Linkedin allows others to follow your site and receive updates.

While all of these means are very convenient for readers, it also creates a lack of exclusivity for the content. For example, while most people will at least glance at their entire RSS reader, very few read every single Tweet.

This clutter comes from two different sides. First, there is the fact that many other users are mixed into the same stream and the fact most people don’t just post blog content to these feeds. For example, FriendFeed includes content from all sites and accounts operated by the same person.

While this is not bad news per se, it does mean that subscribing to a site does not mean as much as it did once and people’s commitment to your site is likely not as great. In short, a subscription no longer means that your readers are getting your posts every time but are, instead, touching base as they see your updates as part of their regular activities.

The Flip Side of the Coin

However, even though being subscribed to on Facebook or Twitter means that we have to compete with the rest of the clutter on those services, including those we create and is created by others, At least we can be reasonably certain that users will regularly access those accounts in the near future.

Many users, myself included, only visit their RSS reader once every week or less often. This is because of “second inbox syndrome” where RSS reading feels like another chore and, due to overuse, has also become a cluttered mess.

On the other hand, social networks and social news sites are tied to our subscriber’s online lives in a much tighter way, making it much more likely that they will at least open up those accounts and cultivate them well.

As if to highlight this, Feedburner, on my feeds that I track, find that my reach is usually only 10-20% of my subscriber base. Some of this is because I have a large FriendFeed readership, which counts toward my subscriber base but doesn’t appear to count toward my reach, but it highlights the fact that, even with pure RSS feeds, having subscribers is no guarantee of readership.

In fact, these alternative subscription methods have a perk that can greatly expand your reach outside of your direct subscriber base. After all, anyone who is subscribed to your site via Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn will find it very easy to share your work with their other contacts, helping you reach new people.

This “indirect readership” is perhaps the greatest part of these new subscription methods. Though Google Reader has integrated some social features into its service, it can’t compete with Facebook or Twitter on that front.

The Death of RSS

What is clear is to me is that RSS is becoming less and less important as a means of direct subscription. I already have more Twitter followers than RSS subscribers, almost twice as many, and when you factor in Facebook friends, those who “Like” my site, people who follow my FriendFeed and those who follow me on Linked In, I have probably three or four times as many “subscribers” off my feed as on it.

Though RSS will likely remain a crucial format for years to come, it will be more of a way to feed these other methods, not as a means of direct subscription.

Simply put, as competition between sites grows more intense and users want to follow all of the things they are interested in at one convenient place, it is going to be more important for bloggers and other webmasters to be where their readers are naturally and work with them.

This is the reason so many blogs, including this one and my personal blog, have de-emphasized RSS subscriptions in favor of including other methods, a trend that seems likely to continue.

However, this does beg one interesting question. With so many subscription options, which would you, as a blogger, prefer? Obviously any follow is better than none, but which would you rather have?

Personally, I find that email is the absolute best way for someone to subscribe to my site, it ensures almost every piece is read, and that Twitter, while great for social interaction, is likely the least effective in terms of followers to viewers ratio, but I am torn on which of the other means is best.

What are your experiences on this front?

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How to Get Endless Content Ideas for Your Blog

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Writer’s block.

Smacked you in the head sometimes, right?

Me too.

Nothing feels worse than slamming into writer’s block. But nothing feels better than having endless content ideas on tap, making you a prolific, traffic and profit driving machine.

Content ideas abound. But you need to learn how to and where to find these ideas to become incredibly prolific.

This feels challenging at first but finding content ideas seamlessly:

  • increases brand awareness
  • gives your readers a steady stream of content to benefit them
  • increases your blogging profits through a variety of income travels
  • inspires your readers to defeat writer’s block and other mental blocks
  • helps you become a prolific guest poster
  • gives you more ideas for future blog posts

Follow these tips to get endless content ideas for your blog guys.

1: Poll Your Readers

Poll your readers via an email newsletter.

Publish posts questioning readers on their biggest problems related to your niche.

Ask readers questions to get blog post solutions.

Content ideas dance around in the minds of your readers.

Just asking my readers on Facebook or Twitter about their most pressing blogging problems is an easy way to get content ideas. Sometimes I probe into their struggles. Other times I just ask if they have blogging questions. Some days I get 10 answers or questions and other days, 1. Keep asking guys. Probing and polling readers provides ample blog post ideas for you.

2: Hang out on Niche Specific Forums

I spend time daily both answering questions and finding content ideas on the Warrior Forum.

Help folks and see what to write about by observing forums aligned with your blogging niche.

See the most popular posts. What questions do people ask? How do people struggle?

Mine content ideas in the struggles of your ideal readers.

Be an active contributor on forums to better tune into the needs of folks intrigued with your niche. By regularly publishing posts on Warrior I can see and hear problems experienced by aspiring or even professional bloggers.

3: Follow Top Blogs in Your Niche

Read top blogs in your niche. Keep an eye out for popular posts. What do folks have problems with?

Read the comment fields to get a feel on what readers are chatting about. Many commentors have few issues sharing their pain points via blog comments. Pay close attention to complaints, rants or folks who share their biggest dreams. Tune in to these emotional push buttons to find an endless flow of prospering content ideas.

Pro Blogger and Blogging Tips are 2 smart places to scan for blogging tips bloggers.

4: Become a Life Observer

I have nabbed more blog post ideas watching life than you’d ever believe.

Look at yesterday’s blog post: Blogging Outside of the Lines.

See how I spotted a blog content idea by coloring with my niece? Life presents you endless blog post ideas if you quiet your mind, relax, and become an observer of it all. The key is to cease trying to do stuff and to simply relax, and watch, life unfolding around you.

Review your last trip to the store. Who did you chat with today? What life lessons did you learn recently?

Draw an analogy between your experience and your blogging niche. Stay on blogging topic. Be on point. Speak to your readers while relating to them on a deeper level. Be a watcher. Find unlimited blog post ideas.

Bonus Tip

Meditate or do deep yin yoga.

Both practices expand your awareness, a must for folks intent on clearing their head trash to find more blog content ideas.

Wrap Up

Work these streams diligently.

Calm your chattering mind.

Find unlimited content ideas for your blog.

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11 Tips on Finding the Right Infographic Ideas for Your Brand

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Infographics have become ubiquitous on the Internet. Whether you’re on Facebook, Pinterest, or Linkedin, you’re bound to come across an infographic online.

Infographics are popular due to their ability to convert complex data and information into something much simpler, making them interesting to look at and easy to understand.

According to Hubspot’s study, infographics are three times more likely to be shared than any other type of content— a perfect investment for those who are looking to bring in traffic and generate leads.

As more infographics are published on the Internet, creating one that will stand out from the rest takes more than illustrations with charts and data. An infographic can have great design but without a compelling topic, it might as well be skimmed through.

So, how do you come up with a compelling topic people want to read?

The truth is, it’s not going to be an instantaneous process. It’s going to take time, effort, and a lot of in-depth research. There are times content creators overlook research and end up with a lackluster infographic.

Narrow Down

Figure out who your infographic is for. Knowing your target audience beforehand can make the process of choosing a topic much easier.

Avoid aiming for a wider audience. Instead, aim for a specific group of people. A one-size-fits-all approach isn’t going to work.

By creating a narrow target, it’ll be easier to create effective strategies for the specified target audience. For example, an infographic about basic exercise won’t be of interest for people who are in advanced exercise programs such as Crossfit or calisthenics.

Cook up a (brain)storm

There are a variety of brainstorming methods to use when coming up with ideas for your infographic topic, such as word association, mind mapping, and keyword research. These methods are perfect for coming up with loads of ideas by exploring different angles and connections.

Tools such as Mindmeister and Ahrefs are great for brainstorming and keyword research. Mindmeister lets you create your own mind map online. You can also export the file into different formats and share it with anyone. Ahrefs is a great tool for keyword research, helping you find high-ranking keywords to use for your infographic.

Another way to find ideas for your infographic is to repurpose existing content. These can be from blog posts, videos, or any other type of content.

Repurposing saves you a lot of time and effort. When you’ve gathered the materials you already have on hand, decide on an angle you want to display the information in. For example, if you have a blog post about 30 ways to save money, you can focus and shorten the blog post and instead, do an infographic on 10 money saving tips for impulsive shoppers.

Knowing what is currently trending can also help you come up with ideas for your infographic. A tool like Google Trends allows you to find the most searched keywords. You can see the searches on different topics and different regions.

Although it’s great to have a completely unique topic for your infographic, it’s also important to consider whether or not it’s feasible. Having a topic that’s too niche and has little to no information to support your research won’t do you any good.

A feasible topic has abundant information that’s easy to access and come from credible sources. Since infographics are meant to inform readers and provide valuable content, an abstract or opinion based topic would have little credibility and wouldn’t be very informative.

For more tips and tricks on finding the right infographic ideas, take a look at the visual guide here!

Andre Oentoro is one of the co-founder of Milkwhale, an internationally acknowledged infographic production agency. He helps businesses increase visibility on the internet with visual data and well-placed outreach campaigns. Read more on his latest guide to Viral Infographics and learn how to get the most value out of your website’s traffic.

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Are You Afraid to Color Outside of the Blogging Lines?

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I am coloring with my 2 year old niece now.

Blog post idea; after 2 photo snaps and a quick analogy realization I figured coloring with a 2 year old conveys a blogging success lesson to you.

My niece does not fear coloring outside of the lines. She is smart as a whip but has yet to master the concept of coloring inside of the lines. Few 2 year olds get this idea.

Scribbling like mad, her work consists of zags, hard lines, zigs, and you better believe she colors almost exclusively outside of the lines. She is as happy as a lark to break the rules, to just be coloring. Coloring is fun to her. Who cares if she stays in the lines?

I instantly thought of my blogging career.

I retired to a life of island hopping through smart blogging by coloring outside of the blogging lines, choosing to do what feels fun to me versus doing what bloggers said I should do.. No email list at Blogging From Paradise. Not much search traffic either because I don’t do the SEO thing. I publish up to 4 blog posts daily. No doubt; I follow certain rules and do color inside of the lines sometimes but largely succeeded because I blog outside of the box, following my fun, pursuing my passion.

You may look at me and wonder how in the heck I do it? You follow all common blogging rules diligently. Yet you may struggle. What gives?

Blogging is an energy game. If you do what feels fun to you, you will succeed wildly. Even if you break rules in the process.

Even though I promote 1 blogging eBook above all else I still wrote 126 eBooks. Big time rule breaker guys. Most bloggers only write 1 eBook and promote the stuffing out of it before moving on to the next eBook. Nothing wrong with that but this is usually a scarcity mindset in action. I preferred to think abundantly and wrote my rear end off. Coloring outside of the lines. Blogging outside of the box.

Follow Some Blogging Rules But Break a Bunch

Nobody becomes wildly successful or lives a dream life through blogging by following all the rules. Rule breakers stand out from the crowd.

Breaking some blogging rules is just like coloring outside of the lines. Some bloggers believe your blog looks a bit sloppy, or disorderly, or that you are doing things wrong, if you color outside of the blogging lines. But these bloggers are usually totally obsessed with doing things perfectly, struggling like heck because nobody is perfect and when you try to be perfect you will fail. Perfection is the fear of failure and the fear of criticism, combined. Don’t let bloggers who color inside of the lines fool you.

How to Succeed by Coloring Outside of the Blogging Lines

Follow your intuition guys.

Listen to the small, still voice.

Trust your gut.

Do what feels most fun to you; not what bloggers say you should do.

I do not build an email list. This is coloring outside of the blogging lines.

Yet I live a life few bloggers live, spending months in Fiji, Bali, Thailand and Costa Rica among other tropical paradises.

No SEO on Blogging From Paradise because I do not want to depend on search traffic. Yet I have circled the globe for the past 7 years as a full time digital nomad.

Break some rules guys.

Do freeing, fun and highly uncomfortable things. Even if doing so pulls you away from the blogging herd.

Color outside of the blogging lines guys.

Live your wildest dreams.

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