Why I’m Glad I Bought 31 Days to Build a Better Blog

Here are some reasons why I’m glad I bought the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog WorkBook, by Darren Rowse:

  • Darren Rowse is a natural teacher. His workbook, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, provides valuable background information, describing the theory behind each day’s activity. The theory represents blogging best practices and a process which, if followed beyond the 31 days, sets you on the same path as those who have found blogging success.
  • The workbook provides a hands-on task for each day over a month, which you can complete on a day-by-day basis, as originally intended, or just as effectively, at your own pace.
  • A notes section following each exercise lets you capture any thoughts or questions, as you complete each task. (This section is a perfect place to capture your own commentary on each exercise. There’s 31 potential blog posts of your own, reporting your lessons learned. Having 31 topic ideas in reserve for your own blog may be nice for some rainy day, when you need some blogging inspiration.)
  • The workbook provides a link to subscribe to the 31DBBB Newsletter, where you’ll receive additional exercises to improve your blog, staggered over time.  These occasional updates on “the most important blogging developments in terms of tools and resources” are a helpful bonus.
  • The workbook is well-designed (kudos to Design by Reese) and easy to use.
  • The style of writing and formatting of each post is a perfect model to follow, especially if you are not used to writing online (using navigational aids such as headings, subheadings, bulleted lists, and so on).
  • Would you pay $19.95 for a consultation with an expert blogger, on ways to promote your own blog? Without promotion, even the best content will languish, often unread. “Day 3: Promote a Blog Post” alone is worth the price of the workbook.
  • Another excellent exercise is “Day 6: 27 Must-Read Tips and Tutorials for Bloggers.” There, Darren Rowse provides links to posts from all over the blogosphere, on ways to build a successful blog. These links are helpful in their own right and may introduce you to other bloggers whose posts you should regularly read.
  • “Day 11: Come up With 10 Post Ideas” provides especially useful brainstorming tips for generating content or extending previous content.
  • Attention Shoppers: The exercise for Day 13 encourages you to “Take a Trip to the Mall and Improve Your Blog.” Need I say more, especially to those who like to shop?
  • The workbook links to many related posts, which often expand on the exercises’ themes, from Darren Rowse’s own highly successful ProBlogger site.
  • Darren Rowse provides bonus tips and additional reflections for each exercise that weren’t included in the original challenge and related posts, which he generously still makes available here: 31 Days to  Build a Better Blog challenge.
  • The exercises link to related posts in the community forum, where you can gather further blogging inspiration from the many bloggers who participated in the 31 Day challenge, as well as current workbook participants, who post to the forum. Participating in the forum is a good way to find potential blogging buddies, who can share your future blogging challenges as well as become mutual readers and possible commenters.

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Contacting the Author: Content for a Convergent World – Peg Mulligan’s Blog


Writing a List Post, Focusing on Current Readers, & Writing a Link Post (Days #2, #5, & #7 from 31 Days to Build a Better Blog)

I continue to participate in Darren Rowse’s 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. In this post, I summarize how I completed challenges for Day #2, Day #5, and Day #7. (For reporting purposes, I am completing some tasks out of sequence.)

The sections below describe the challenge for writing a list post, focusing on current readers, and writing a link post.

Writing a List Post
in the challenge for Day #2, Darren Rowse describes three types of lists that bloggers often use successfully:

  • The post as a list: “In this case there’s nothing in the post except for the list. The title of your post introduces the topic and then the list speaks for itself. The list can be quite barebones – short and to the point.” For an example of a list post, see Peer Review Checklists for Writers in this blog.
  • Extended lists:  “This type of post is not dissimilar to an essay or article but the main points are broken down into a numbered list format. Generally there is a heading for each section (highlighted in bold or heading tags), with a paragraph or two under each one.” For an example of an extended list, see A Baker’s Dozen: Links on Cloud Computing, in this blog. This post also represents a link list  (building a resource on a topic).
  • Lists Within Posts:  “In this type of post, lists present ideas in the midst of other content. In a sense the list becomes a way of breaking up your text. …these posts do quite well as other bloggers looking for a quote to share with their readers will many times grab your list.” For example: see Digital Marketing World: Spring 2009 – Winning Against the Odds—my most viewed post, with multiple bulleted lists, providing takeaway points for various digital conference sessions, within the same post.

Focusing on Your Current Readers
In the challenge for Day #5, I emailed two blog readers, who both left comments on my earlier posts:

My email simply thanked my readers for their comments and asked for more information about the blog topic (Larry Weber and his respective companies, in the case of my note to Farah at RacePoint, and the virtual conference schedule, in the case of Cece at InXpo.)

I promptly received e-mails back from both company representatives, with helpful information to supplement my original posts.

From RacePoint Group, I obtained the following information about how to best keep up with Larry Weber:

From Cece at InXpo, I learned that InXpo keeps a list of upcoming virtual events on the InXpo website: http://www.inxpo.com/news/upcoming-events/index.htm.

The point Darren Rowse intended for this exercise, I imagine, is to deepen relationships and the lines of communication, with your existing readers, as I did with both Farah and Cece  (and by extension, the organizations they represent). In the process, I gained new information to supplement my original blog posts and added more value to my other readers.

Link Post
In the challenge for Day #7, Rowse provides these reasons for linking out on your blog:

  • Giving something of value to your readers
  • Building your credibility
  • Building relationships with other bloggers
  • SEO

He also describes six types of link posts to consider:

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Contacting the Author: Content for a Convergent World – Peg Mulligan’s Blog

Writing An Elevator Pitch (Day #1 from 31 Days to Build a Better Blog)

I am participating in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge, sponsored by Darren Rowse (aka @problogger on Twitter).

In the challenge for Day #1, Darren Rowse recommends developing an elevator pitch for your blog:

What is an Elevator Pitch?
“An elevator pitch is an overview of an idea for a product, service, or project. The name reflects the fact that an elevator pitch can be delivered in the time span of an elevator ride (for example, thirty seconds or 100-150 words).” – Wikipedia

According to Rowse, your blog’s elevator pitch is important to successfully “writing content, promoting and finding readers, search engine optimization, networking with other bloggers, branding, design”…in other words—everything.

I have been working on refining my blog’s tag line, but finding a way to concisely express my purpose (and related skill-set) in terms specific enough to reflect my primary expertise and interests as a technical communicator, while broad enough to encompass content-related topics in other disciplines (including content marketing, customer relationship management, and product development) has required some tweaking.

In the last month, my tag line has evolved this way:

  • “Technical Communication for a Convergent World”  ~ Good Start
  • “Content for a Convergent World” ~ Getting There
  • “Content (Information, Interactions, & Experiences) for a Convergent World ~ Eureka

The inspiration for the final version of my tagline comes from Vince Giorgi’s post, Is It Content? Software? Let’s Call It a Branded Experience, with this working definition of content:

“Content is about so much more than words…Content is value-adding information, interactions and experiences by which brands engage and build affinity with the audiences vital to their business success.”

Through my final tag line, I now have a clear purpose for this blog and major organizational categories (information, interactions, and experiences), which reinforce this purpose.

In addition to my tag line, I can start using my elevator pitch in my “about page, real life conversation, business cards, pitching to media, pitching to other bloggers, my e-mail signature, and social media profiles” (Rowse, Day #1: 31 Days BBB).

What do you think about the tag line? Do you think it’s serving my goals? As for audience, though I imagine that this blog most appeals to other technical and professional communicators  (aka content developers), the targeted audience for this blog is quite broad because we are all knowledge workers—all impacted by the convergence of communications and technology.

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Contacting the Author: Content for a Convergent World – Peg Mulligan’s Blog