Around my home, it is definitely that time of year again. Halloween is just a few weeks away, the outside decorations are already up and work inside our small charity haunt is moving at a fever pitch.
It was at about this time last year that I wrote a post entitled “5 Things Haunting Taught Me About Blogging“, which was a look at some of the lessons I got about life and blogging through running a haunted house.
With another year down and more time to reflect, it seems there are still more lessons to share. With that in mind, here are 5 more lessons haunting has taught me about blogging and how you can apply them yourselves.
1. Your Visitors != You
Though your visitors are probably a great deal like you, they are not the same as or identical to you and will have critical differences both between them and you as well as among themselves. You have to factor in these differences when doing everything from picking topics to write about to your theme.
I got a reminder of this in last year’s haunt when a new “collapsing” ceiling worked exceptionally well on myself, my wife and our crew but failed to get a reaction from most of the visitors. The reason, my wife and I are about 6 feet tall and most of our visitors were a good six inches to a foot shorter, as a result, they didn’t get the full effect. We’re making modifications to it this year to make sure that everyone, regardless of height, gets the desired effect.
So talk with and poll your readers, find out ways they are not like you and figure out how you can meet their needs better, even if you don’t necessarily see the point of the changes.
2. People Don’t React Predictably, At Least Not Consistently
Much of haunting is trying to predict how people will react and then manipulating the environment to get the desired effect. However, for all of the predictions and trials you do, it is impossible to be right 100% of the time.
Two years ago, our first with that particular layout, we thought we had predicted where people would go naturally only to find that a high percentage of visitors got lost and many wound up in actor areas of the haunt. We had to adjust the layout of a room in order to prevent that from happening and make the path more clear.
Likewise, bloggers should spend more of their time looking at what is actually happening on their site, not what they think should be happening. Services like Clicktale can be a real help in trying to find out what visitors are actually doing and where things might be breaking down.
3. The People Show Up All at Once
You know this one already if you have run a site for any length of time, or even if you’ve just been a cashier at a large store, people have a tendency to arrive in waves.
Though it would be nice if the flow of traffic was a steady stream, it rarely is. At the huant, we did over 1/2 of our foot traffic during 2 hours on one night. The rest of the open time was torn between putting small groups through and waiting for the next one.
Site traffic isn’t much different, though there is a baseline level of that a site can expect on any given day, traffic spikes caused by everything from social news to a jump in relevant Google queries drive an inordinately large percentage of visitors. As such, you need to make sure your capacity is not geared toward your day-to-day operations, but geared to handle the busy times too.
4. Advertising is Good But Word of Mouth is Best
It is always important to remember that your best form of advertising is your current visitors.
I get a lesson in this every year as comments from visitors always show that well over half of all the people who came by did so because their friend or family member told them about us. This is in spite of thousands of fliers put out, articles in the newspaper and prominent listings in local event calendars.
Though the percentage won’t be nearly that great for a website, it’s likely that it is for visitors who stick around and become regulars. After all, most search engine traffic simply “bounces” away, indicated by the fact that bounce rates are usually well north of 50%.
If you want a strong core readership, you have to encourage your existing readers to go to bat for you, it’s the best way to build a good audience.
5. You Have to Constantly Adjust
Finally, with blogging, as with most things in life, the only thing that is certain is change.
Last year we were open three nights and it felt as if we ran three very different haunts. Though most of the changes would have been subtle to visitors, they radically changed how the haunt worked. From rearranging furniture in one room to redirect visitors (mentioned above) to moving mats to adjust timing, we never stopped tweaking, even after opening night. This was regardless of whether or not there was an obvious problem, so long as there could be a slight improvement.
Likewise, though you should resist large, sudden changes to your blog, small and subtle ones can make a great deal of different and might not even be spotted by your visitors, even as they are affecting them.
Always be looking for ways to improve and make the changes that you need. If a change doesn’t work, undo it and try something else. Blogging is all about refinement over time, as so to avoid growing dull.
All in all, building a haunted house is no different than any other large scale project one can undertake. However, all projects and experiences have lessons that can be carried over into other objectives.
Because of this, it’s worth taking time after any big project concludes or before it ramps up and see what lessons you can take from it. I usually do this by sitting down with the people I worked with and drawing up a list of things that worked well and things that needed improvement.
This type of honest evaluation is crucial in improving your work and avoiding stagnation. Best of all, it can be a very fun way to relive some great memories along the way.
How Do I Teach Bloggers if I Am a New Blogger?
I see that question popping around in your head.
The same question danced around in my head 10 years ago. How could I teach people how to blog if I did not know how to blog? Plus I had no connections. No skills either. Big time problem.
Here is how to solve your problem:
- learn how to blog from top pros
- write 500 words daily offline
- publish 1-2 posts weekly, turning around and teaching what you learned
- continue to learn both about blogging and your blogging niche
Learn then teach.
Or absorb then teach.
Jan Verhoeff published this post yesterday:
She led off the post explaining how she watched one of my Facebook Live Broadcasts recently and delved deeper into the topic I discussed, said topic being blogging overlap.
Jan is a seasoned veteran blogger but she and I both use this concept of learning or absorbing then immediately teaching the concept to our readers. Knowledge ain’t getting stale in our brain boxes.
Newbie bloggers; I get it. You may feel intimidated to learn, then to teach. But being a blogging student is hands down your most important role as a new blogger because learning and studying gives you confidence to turn around and teach your new found knowledge quickly.
Check out my guest post on Janice Wald’s Mostly Blogging:
Janice regularly shares this post and noted it still drives blog traffic.
New and seasoned blogging veterans alike know deep down we are all perpetual students. Plus we know that in order to teach we must first learn, being open and willing students.
Newbie bloggers; you better become a voracious reader of blogging tips and tips aligned with your niche. Learn to gain confidence and clarity. Then you better practice writing like crazy. Pen 500 words daily offline to become a confident writer.
Being armed with knowledge and improving writing skills sets the foundation to learn, then to teach.
10 years ago when I was a new blogger I read a post on Ray Higdon Dot Com.
This iconic network marketer introduced me to the simple concept of how you can teach folks how to succeed in your niche, even as a newbie. Learn. Teach.
Allow little time to elapse between learning and teaching. Teaching does not require 10,000 word blog posts or 45 minute long videos or eBooks or courses.
Practical Examples of Teaching
Peep these examples of how you can learn a concept and teach as a new blogger:
- record and upload a 1 minute long video on YouTube
- write and publish a 600 word post on your blog
- record and upload a 5 minute long podcast
The idea is to learn a concept and to be comfortable teaching the concept without being an expert. Fraud energies may arise guys. Fears attempt to shame you into remaining quiet. Don’t trust these fears. Don’t believe these lies.
If you want to become a blogger you better get comfortable with being a teacher because blogging is teaching. If you want to become a teacher you better be a hungry student, learning the in’s and out’s of blogging and your niche and practicing your writing to more easily convey your blogging message.
Hit the ground running as a new blogger.
Nobody begins blogging as an experienced blogger.
Nobody begins blogging with blogging skills.
We need to learn and practice persistently as a new blogger to become a successful blogger.
Just don’t hesitate to turn around and teach what you have learned immediately, to drive traffic to your blog.
Do I Look Lucky to You?
Many people believe me to be lucky.
Folks think I am so lucky to travel the world.
Like a magic fairy alighted on my shoulder, tapped me with a magic wand, and sent me to that location in Bali you see in the featured image.
As if I lucked out to circle around the globe for the past 7 years.
Not quite guys.
Luck does not exist.
Smart, generous work helped me retire to a life of island hopping through smart blogging.
Peep this link:
Does that sound lucky? Was I lucky to write and publish 583 guest posts on Blogging Tips alone? Am I lucky to have written and published thousands of blog posts during the past decade I spent online?
Have I been lucky to work hundreds of thousands of hours during my life, in order to retire to a life of island hopping through smart blogging?
Did luck make me a full time digital nomad? Have I been lucky to write and self-publish 126 eBooks?
Luck does not exist.
Smart, energized, years of work, this brings blogging success.
Convenience Store Luck
Back in New Jersey for a bit.
After spending a few moments at the local convenience store I saw no less than 5 people buy lottery tickets.
Folks spend money on a wing and a prayer, hoping, praying, begging to make money through a game of chance.
Forget building a sustainable online business. Forget rendering service to become successful with your blog. Don’t even bother investing money in solid vehicles.
Leave your life to chance. See if you get lucky.
Terrible mindset to have guys.
Luck does not exist. No magical fairy blesses some folks and curses other folks. Nobody suffers from bad luck. Chance does not exist.
Smart, intelligent service, persistently applied, exists. Learning and practicing the skill of blogging for 2-4 years of your life exists. Spending 10 years writing and publishing thousands of posts exists. Commenting on 50,000 blogs exists. Being generous exists. Helping folks for months before making a dime exists.
Luck does not exist.
Luck Is a Jailer
If you believe successful bloggers are lucky, that limiting belief jails you. Since you believe you are not lucky you naturally will always struggle and fail. Not a good belief to cling to guys.
Many bloggers think I am:
- a natural
but I am not. I just spent years of my life learning, practicing and mastering the skill of blogging. I wrote almost 600 guest posts on Blogging Tips alone. Does that sound like luck, or chance, or like a blessing? Smart, persistent work guys. I committed fully to blogging so blogging committed fully to me. Simple equation but goodness does this journey feel uncomfortable at times.
Early Friday evening, here I am writing this guest post as my 2 year old niece hangs all over me, bopping me on the head. Hardly a crazy challenge but still a bit of a challenge. Try thinking through a post and writing it while a hyper 2 year old does all in her power to grab your attention.
I am not writing this post because Lady Luck sent me the idea. I am writing this post because I have written 2 million plus words during the past decade of my life, so words flow easily for me.
- Creating, connecting and polishing my blogging skills by patiently writing and broadcasting live videos daily helped me craft a neat life for me and for my readers.
- Generously commenting on other blogs and promoting other bloggers helped me become a pro blogger.
- Persisting through thick and thin created my blogging success.
The next time you explain someone’s success as a simple matter of luck, think again.
Luck does not exist.
Why Use a VPN? Here Are 5 Reasons for Bloggers
As a blogger, the internet is your second home. Your blog is literally the house you built from scratch online. The stellar content you created and promoted enabled you to engage with your audience effectively. As a blogger, you also developed professional relationships with influential bloggers like yourself.
Despite your success, you should never put your guard down when meeting people online or engaging with other websites. I’m sure you have your anti-virus and malware protection software installed in your CPU to shield you from online threats. However, there’s nothing wrong in taking an extra measure to ensure your protection not only as a blogger but also your life outside it.
In this post, you will learn how a virtual private network is and why use a VPN to protect your online activity and engagement with other websites not just as a blogger but an online user.
Why use a VPN? Below are the ways
Before we get into the different reasons bloggers must use a VPN, we need to explain first how it works for you to understand it better.
In a nutshell, a virtual private network (VPN) enables you to encrypt your information behind its servers. Whenever you visit a website, it sees information provided by the server and not the ones found on your local computer. This simple process is very beneficial for bloggers for several reasons:
1. Keeps your website activity anonymous
The most immediate advantage of using a VPN is anonymity. Website won’t be able to trace your actual IP address and location, aside from the other encrypted data about your site.
The main benefit of online anonymity is better protection from online threats. Sometimes, your protection software won’t be enough to keep hackers at bay. They’ll get into your CPU without you knowing it. And God knows what they will do with your information once they gain it. They might sell it to third-party services that will send you spam or launch random attacks to your CPU via your internet connection.
Since a VPN withholds your actual information, hackers and malware can’t successfully penetrate through your online activity and intercept data from your browser. This way, you can perform research online or visit different websites without the looming threat of hackers hanging over your head all the time.
2. Makes your transactions more secure
If you make transactions online, then you need a VPN to beef up your security. Most websites nowadays have an SSL certificate installed to ensure customers it is safe to type sensitive information on the site. However, an as mentioned, additional protection to ensure your online safety is always welcome. This rings true if you enjoy purchasing tools and software to help boost your blogging efforts (hello, Appsumo).
By setting up a VPN, you can guarantee all your transactions are secure.
3. Prevents censorship
If you live in a country that controls the sites you can see and content you can access, then your work as a blogger is already cut out for you. You don’t need this encumbrance as a blogger – information needs to be free for all. It’s up to the person to decide what s/he wants to see online and which sites to visit. For bloggers, knowledge is power, and you cannot wield this responsibility if you don’t have the full information,
If you share these beliefs, then using a VPN will help you gain access to information that wasn’t available before. As a result, you can speak your message considering all the information there is about the subject. Doing so puts you in a position to become a credible and influential voice in your space.
4. Work in confidence
Some bloggers live a nomadic lifestyle. Because of its inherent nature where you don’t have a boss and you can work whenever or how long you want, bloggers can work anywhere. Whether it be coffee shops, co-working spaces, or even from different countries, bloggers will sustain their income as long as they get the job done.
However, they won’t be able to get it done if the WiFi connection doesn’t afford you the security and freedom to need for blogging. For example, WiFi connections in public spaces are open to everybody. As a result, anything can enter it and disrupt your online browsing, online threats included. If you’re not careful, your laptop can get infected and leave you with hundreds of dollars worth of repairs, on top of days not being able to blog due to the incident.
With a VPN, you can access the web securely so you continue with your nomadic lifestyle to full effect! Your information will be safe in public places and you can gain access to websites that might be blocked at the country you’re living in right now.
5. Unblock geo-restricted content
It’s normal to take time off as a blogger. You need time for yourself to sit back, relax, and live life a little. Part of living your life is watching TV shows and series from your favorite streaming sites. With so many good shows available for binging, you can lose yourself watching these shows for days if not weeks!
But it’s not fun to binge-watch if not all the shows and movies are available for viewing. For example, if you want access to the complete library of movies and shows on Netflix, then you need to be in the US to access the content. If not, there will be content unavailable in your region due to the licensing deals of these shows. If you have a running subscription on these streaming sites and you live outside the US, you don’t get to maximize the site due to incomplete content.
However, you can watch US Netflix with Smart DNS Proxy. Using this VPN services and setting it up on your devices gives you full access to Netflix shows you can take a break from blogging by watching the shows you want. Also, you unblock content from Hulu, HBO, and other streaming sites to make your binge-watching sessions more complete!
Are you convinced why you need a VPN as a blogger?
If you think VPN is just technical mumbo-jumbo, you’re dead wrong! It has practical applications for bloggers who want to continue providing their audience with content they love. Aside from living a more focused blogging lifestyle, a VPN allows people to live a life outside blogging if they’re into TV shows and movies. Keeping these reasons in mind, it’s time you should get a VPN service to take your blogging to the next level.
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