Book review of ProBlogger by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett
While not a book covering strictly web design or development, ProBlogger is relevant in many ways. Authors Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett walk the reader through the very basics of blogging, right through more advanced topics like blog promotion, advertising and blog “flipping”, the digital version of TLC’s Flip that House. The fact that they detail the various blog publishing platforms, but express their tendency to lean toward WordPress for all their personal sites was appealing to me. Also, just about every designer or developer comes across the issues of having to drive traffic, monetize pages, and analyze site performance at one point or another in their career.
I took some rather lengthy notes while reading the book, to make implementation on my personal sites a bit easier after completion of the book, and I’ll share some of those notes with you here.
1. Websites You Should Investigate
These are a few tools that I realized I should be using while reading the book. These cover the main bases that every web site should be using to monitor or enhance their site:
- Alexa – for researching hot topics and competitor sites
- Technorati – add your blogs to the Technorati index, and monitor popular tags
- Quantcast – track your site’s performance and compare to competitor site performance
- Google Webmaster Tools – discover keywords that people are already using to find your site through Google
2. Tools to Target Hot Topics
Staying on top of industry news is an important task for a lot of web sites, from newspaper sites, to sporting sites, to the latest Hollywood gossip. Here are some of the best:
3. Content Tips
For bloggers that are just starting out, Rowse and Garrett offer a fantastic intro to formatting blog posts so that they will rank well in search engines. This happens to coincide with HTML standards and best practices, so this section is doubly worth your time:
- Post regularly (1x/day or 1x/week)
- Titles are important!
- Vary long posts (reviews), with shorter posts (news)
- Use h2 and h3 tags
- Number paragraphs (helps with web audiences that typically scan pages)
- Break longer posts into series
- Write your entire post first, then go back and edit
4. Types of Blog Posts
ProBlogger contains a wealth of ideas. Here are some of their recommendations for varying the style of your posts, so as not to become repetitive and stale:
- Profiles (pick an idol of yours or industry mogul and write a review of their life)
- Links (microblogging)
- Memes (idea virus, further explanation)
5. Link Bait Ideas
Further depth on content ideas is detailed in ProBlogger, and the issue of link baiting is discussed. My thoughts on link baiting are that if the content is original, helpful, or insightful, its a good practice. The content really has to come first. Here are some ideas that you could potentially build content around:
6. Blog Valuation Factors
Rowse and Garrett even get into the topic of buying existing blogs, and “flipping” them, or turning around and selling them for a profit. The main benefit of blog flipping is that domain age is a major factor in Google’s evaluation of web sites. Most of the most popular blog sites on Technorati have a domain age of three years or more. If you purchase an existing domain, with an existing audience, you skip the work involved in starting from scratch. Here are some factors to use while evaluating a blog purchase or sale:
- Search Rankings
- Inbound Links
7. Blog Promotion & Marketing
After you’ve got your blog up and running, and feel that your content is good enough and regular enough to warrant an audience, you’ll want to promote or market it in some fashion. The Field of Dreams mentality does not apply in the blogosphere. Here are some of the promotion ideas I found in ProBlogger:
- Build “content magnets”
- Comment on other niche blogs (1x/day)
- Encourage comments through questions in your posts
- Add “blog carnival” posts that link to many other industry/niche blogs
- Promote subscription via RSS
- Join a blogging community or forum in your industry, and participate regularly
- Request links from relevant industry blogs
I’m not going to get into further detail on any of the ideas here, to do that you’ll have to purchase ProBlogger. I’ve only listed a sampling of the ideas Rowse and Garrett reveal in their book. There are many more topics and ideas within, as well as much more detail and explanation.
Overall ProBlogger is a invaluable book for anyone with their own website. Its an idea starter, and that’s a huge part of running your own website. The other is finding time to actually do everything. Then again, that’s where Brickwork could help you out.
You can purchase ProBlogger over at Amazon.com.