The no.1 way to improve your blog #nnb2011

Nikki ParkinsonLife 68 Comments

There’s been a lot of blogging talk – and posts – going down since Blogopolis last weekend.  And that’s a good thing.

The day covered lots of topics suited to both beginner and long-term bloggers.  Sure, not everyone would have been interested in everything but not everyone in the room blogs on the same topic or has the same goals for their blog.

But the one thing EVERYONE in that room should be interested in is content.

You can forget the whole Blogger vs WordPress debate; whether you understand SEO; or whether you want to take advertising on your blog.  None of this -and I mean NONE of this – means squat if you’re not writing and producing content that people actually want to read.

Get back to the reason you started blogging.  And if it wasn’t to share good content, perhaps re-think your blogging goals.

The saying “content is king” is not a cliche.  Because it really is king (or queen!)

Focus on your content.  Trust me, if you do this, in time the other parts of blogging will take care of itself.

Think: build it and they will come (feeling very Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams right now).

Last Saturday I got to speak about Improving Your Blog Content (along with Christie from Childhood 101 and Susan from Chocolate Suzetotes!).

I focussed on getting organised with your content and writing in your own voice.

Nikki Parkinson talks improving blog content at Blogopolis 2011

I give my two cents worth at Blogopolis about improving blog content. Photo: Danimezza

These were the key messages from my talk (The slideshow from my presentation can be found here):

Write as you speak; imagine having a chat with your readers in a café or bar

Give us an insight into your life through your words

Make us laugh

Make us cry

Make us think

Make us want to connect

Preferably all of the above!

And here are some of my key points that were re-Tweeted on the day:

Improving blog content tweets Nuffnang Blogopolis

I also re-told my blogging story – not to big note myself – but because I believe it’s important one.  I didn’t start writing my blog and suddenly have 34,000 unique visitors a month (and yes that’s my statistic from last month that I’m super proud of!).

I stumbled into blogging three years ago after 20 years as a journalist.  I wanted a website to market my fledgling styling business – one that I could update myself.

Thank GOD, the first web designer I talked to said:  you need a blog.   A four letter word I quickly Googled! (See, no idea)

So, I began blogging, adding content not dis-similar to that which I would have included in the fashion and beauty pages of the magazine I used to edit.

BORING.

About 1.5 years in, I finally started reading – I mean really reading – other blogs.  And that’s when the lightbulb went off (insert whatever appropriate blonde lightbulb joke you so desire here).

People were connecting with other people on their blogs.  The blogs I liked had personality.  Readers left comments on posts – and sometimes those comments were more entertaining than the original post (who knew?).

I was like the new kid at school watching everyone playing with their old friends in the playground – and I so wanted in on that game.

So I had my blog design changed to make it look and feel more reader friendly and re-focused on my content.  I added more of “me” to the blog.  And I got organised.

It’s a work in progress – and that’s what I really love about blogging as opposed to traditional media – you and your blog can happily morph along together.

This year – after three years of working on my content and community – I have been rewarded with two blogging awards, my blog now receives more than 113,000 page views a month and yes, brands are interested in talking to me because my community is engaged and loyal.

If you were looking at other bloggers at Blogopolis and wondering how you can get to where you think they’re at (and trust me – there were some amazingly successful bloggers in that room), stop wondering and wasting your time, get back to basics and focus on your content.

As the very wise, Christie (Childhood 101) said, forget about competition and run your own blogging race.

And, I’d like to add to that wisdom, borrowing from a successful shampoo advertising campaign: it won’t happen overnight but it will happen.

So, how’s your blogging race going? Have you set some new goals following Blogopolis?

Earlier this week I blogged about what I wore (important if you are a style blogger in a room with other fashion and beauty bloggers!) and next week, I’ll talk more about the advertising vs editorial panel I sat on. 

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Comments 68

  1. Today’s post shows your great work – it would be great to see how we could recreate that at home. Congratulations on following your passion.

  2. Something. We get so caught up with blogging platforms, SEO, statistics, etc that we forget that at the end of the day, it’s the content that counts. I would love any feedback from yourself and your lovely readers as I take my blogging very seriously. Thanks Nikki, you’re an inspiration!

  3. Great post. I’m definitely racing. My newest blog is only 1 month old, but am already doing so much better than with other blogs I started in terms of connecting. The difference? Really making an effort of creating great, personal posts every time + reading other blogs and commenting and connecting. It’s a lot of work, but it’s FUN!

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  4. Hi Nikki,
    Thanks for this information. I have been blogging for two years now and I am finding it so hard to build up my beloved blog. I would love any feedback from yourself and your lovely readers as I take my blogging very seriously.
    Thanks again,
    Tammerly @ Pink Diva Beauty

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      You are very consistent Tammerly and that should be congratulated. Your reviews are thorough and I like that the come from a professional’s point of view. What I think would really add to your blog are more how-tos, including videos. I love learning this stuff and you know how to do it already! This would also help you to stand out – not everyone writing a beauty blog is a qualified makeup artist. There’s my two cents! Today’s post shows your great work – it would be great to see how we could recreate that at home.

  5. For someone who wasn’t able to be there, notes like these are invaluable. So thank you for sharing, Nikki. I love that you’ve focused on the content, because I think there’s so much to distract us that sometimes it gets put too low on the priority list.
    I have my own little goals for the blog and love trying to find ways to stretch beyond that! 🙂

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      Thanks Kellie. I know that I would like to read blog posts about it if I weren’t there (looking forward to more from the BlogHer travellers!). And yes, content needs to be our top priority.

  6. Thanx for putting all this up 🙂 aw I didn’t make it with my comment on how jelly I was of your shiny hair! 😀 Love your blog and so glad that I had the chance to hear you speak xx

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  7. Thanks for including me in the twitstream capture! I do have aims. To get a domain name for my second blog, and to turn my main blog into a job, even a part-time one. I also want to get to next year’s Blog Her, and attend as many blogging conferences/meet-ups as I can. Your talk was awesome, I related to all of it!

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  8. I would have loved to have gone to see you speak. Very interesting points. I started blogging years ago (2005) and I’ve been on and off with it. It’s just something I like to do. I’ve recently started blogging agian and while I hope to get even a tenth of your fanbase, it probably won’t happen because I’m not the most consistent. But, after having a read, I hope I keep your words to heart and apply it. Thanks for this blog post!

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      Wow Rin – 2005! That’s amazing. One of the things I did talk about is consistency. It is great to decide on the number of posts you can comfortably do in a week and try and stick to it. I realise life can get in the way but it’s a good place to start.

  9. Ever since listening to you speak at Blogopolis I have really spent time working on my content more and changing up my style of writing, and your right Content is key and blogging should be an extension of your own personality and so it should be about you as a person, and not trying to be popular as the next person!
    I’m just going to keep on blogging on in my own little bubble and just appreciate each and everyone who takes the time to stop by my blog and engage in my daily life that I enjoy sharing!

    Thanks again for a great speech Nikki! I gained a lot from it!!

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  10. Great advice as usual -thanks. I primarily use our blog as a way of promoting our brand and keeping our customers/clients updated on our news. I do however try and include content that is not all about us so our readers don’t get bored with Leoni & Vonk. A number of people at the Trade Fair we are currently exhibiting at have mentioned to me that they enjoy reading the Leoni & Vonk blog for that very reason – yay result!

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      Blogging for your business is the same – we still need to see the personality and the person/people behind the business. That’s what a customer connects with. You’re clearly doing the right thing!

  11. It seems that no matter what we are doing in this life, when we want something to succeed it is always a matter of getting back to basics and, being who we really are. Thank you for the reminder that this is also true in the blogging world.

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  12. Nikki, I don’t know what it is about you lately but you’re right on par with what I need to hear/know/am thinking.
    Thank you for this.
    I have struggled with my blog the last couple of weeks. Pressure to “find my niche”, to make sure I am updating regularly, I am engaging on several different forms of social media, and still running a house hold, being a good partner, and a good mother, and finding time for my own selfish needs.
    This is a blog post I needed to read/hear. I am going to try and sit down tonight and write a direction that I want to head in and some idea’s for my blog.
    Thank you.

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      Oh, Miss Pink, you’re too kind (or it’s spooky that I’m inside your head!). Take the pressure of yourself. Write because you want to share information and tell a story. I don’t have the balance answer by any stretch of the imagination but I know if we try to hard worrying about the technical and money side of blogging, then the blog itself will actually suffer.
      x

      1. I agree this is why I do not push to make money or anything from my blog. Nor do I follow statistics too well. I feel like who cares how many views or followers I have if i’m not getting any comments, any feedback or connection. I want engaged loyal readers, like you said.
        And well, there are so many sides to a person, myself especially, so I like the freedom of being able to update about my kids one day and then telling a story of my past the next, going into the next week being able to talk about a hobby or product I love, just because *I* want to, not because I am being paid to in any way. (Although I don’t mind being bribed ;] Sponsors you can contact me any time ;P)

        Still, I do need this direction. A word cloud. Something.

  13. Great post Nikki! We get so caught up with blogging platforms, SEO, statistics, etc that we forget that at the end of the day, it’s the content that counts. I was so caught up, obsessed even, with my blog stats that the time obsessing about it could have been turned into research for writing.
    Thanks for bringing me back to earth 🙂

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      Hi Tine, it’s the nature of this “game” that we can easily distracted. I’m guilty of it!! But whenever I stray to far I remind myself that I won’t have any readers if I don’t write anything of relevance to them. Good luck!

  14. I left a comment & it was chewed up 🙁

    Loved the #nnb2011 tweets.

    As a writer agree bring yourself into your writing.

    It has probably been asked before – but how much time do you allocate to blogging per day?

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      Hi Heather, my blog posts can sometimes take 30 minutes; sometimes two hours or more depending on the photography and product links I need to do. I tend to do my “gathering” and research doing the day around other work activities and then write at night time, scheduling the post for publishing the next morning. As I said in the talk I did at Blogopolis, I have a monthly and weekly schedule I work to with content to keep an eye on its diversity but I’ll break from this schedule if something happens that I think needs my comment.

  15. Hi Nikki,

    Great to read this. I couldn’t get to Melbourne last weekend and so have been hugely enjoying the posts about Blogopolis. One of the things these events do is re-invigorate and inspire people, and just reading the posts does the same thing too. Ta!

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      Seana, that’s so true. It’s wonderful how many people have blogged and tweeted what they have learned from the conference. Blogging is all about sharing info and bloggers are great community builders like that.

  16. That was such a great read – I am a full time blogger and Internet Marketer. What you said about blogs coming from the heart – that is so true!! I recently wrote a blog post that I was so scared to publish, as it was about our oldest son moving out. I wrote it was I was crying, and I left it as a saved draft over night. The next morning I made a few changes, and I hit publish!!!

    Gosh I was scared at the type of response that I would get, but I felt I needed to share what we were going through, and to see if anyone was experiencing the same issues 🙂

    It was good – we had a lot of responses and soon learnt we were not allow with our parenting. I love how you got up on stage and shared your story, and thats amazing how many views you got last month. Congratulations on following your passion.

    Cheers
    Lisa

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      Thanks so much, Lisa. I love hearing about bloggers who have “downloaded” their feelings and thoughts into a blog post and had the courage to press the publish button. Those posts are often the ones that resonate with other readers the most. On a bigger picture, how wonderful to immediately find others who are going through the same things as you. Makes the world seem even smaller. And I like that.

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  17. Thank you for posting this Nikki. There was so much info at Blogopolis that it was rather overwhelming for a new blogger (I went live the day before the conference!). I keep worrying about all the ‘stuff’ I have to to, but after reading this I realise that it is my story that my readers are connecting with. Not my SEO or header design! Thanks for the motivation.
    Laney

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  18. Great points Nikki.

    It seems to happen in most creative areas. Whether its photography, video production or writing; beginners constantly fall into the trap of worrying about their tools. They NEED a better camera to take good photos, they NEED a new laptop before they will start writing, or they NEED the best video equipment before they will make a film. Obviously, you don’t need the best equipment or to use a certain blogging platform to make something successful.

    At film/photography school, there are always lecturers reminding students to ‘just start creating’ and to focus on the content. This is true. But I would also like to point out that it doesn’t matter how good your content is, if your text is too hard to read or your audio too hard to hear, then you are not doing your content justice.

    Its a balance.

    Cheers,

    Josh Janssen
    Melbourne Geek

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  19. While reading your post (which was a great refresher from your talk at #nnb2011) I kept nodding and thinking, that’s so true! I always head back to blogs that actually make me feel something. To get that connection. After reading this I’m hoping that I’m able to offer my readers the same thing. Thanks Nikki, you’re an inspiration!

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      Thanks so much, Rhi. It’s that feeling that makes us connect. The feeling makes us remember that it’s a real person behind the words. That’s what I love too. Keep doing what you’re doing. Be YOU.

  20. So simple yet so true Nikki. I loved Blogopolis and what it taught me about Blogging and the fascinating Twitter experiment that it was with 12,000 Tweets in one day… but I think this is the most powerful message we should all take away…focus on content. Thanks!

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  21. I didn’t get to go to conference, but thanks to all those beautiful bloggers so willing to share their knowledge, I’ve learned so much over the past few days! Thanks Nikki…great advice as always xo

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  22. Thanks Nikki. I enjoyed your presentation last week and it did make me think a little about my content and my voice. Whilst I have been keen to stick to a certain style, which meshed both professional advice with personal experience, I went out on a bit of a limb this week and published something ( which I nearly didn’t) that has turned out to be my most read and commented on post ever. It was far more personal and apparently has made a few cry, and think and laugh and certainly connect. In other words it isn’t going to hurt to “mix it up a little”. And yes I agree the technical stuff comes with time, it is more important to resonate with your readers which is done first and foremost through good content. X

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      Hi Martine, that’s amazing to hear. What a great result?! I do think having a certain style is good and always think about where you can weave those laugh, cry, think and connect bits into a post. Blogging is about building relationships with readers in a way that no other medium can do. That’s why I like it!

  23. Nikki – thanks for this post as it’s a lovely reminder of your inspiring presentation on the day. I am currently hunting around for an editorial calendar for blogger and am concentrating on planning my content rather than just writing when the mood takes me. And I loved hearing your blog story as it is encouraging to know that it takes a long term commitment to be successful, Thanks again…now my blog will live for at least another 6 months!
    Nicole x

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      Thanks Nicole. The planning thing is good but I still will do a spur of the moment post is the topic is one I feel I should be commenting on for my readers, eg Kate Moss’ wedding frock. I hadn’t been planning to write anything but by end of Saturday I wanted to give my opinion. Keep blogging but always check in with yourself to see if you’re still enjoying it.

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