What level of expertise would you say you have achieved in your blogging career, and how do you measure that for yourself? If you’re not a beginner, are you an advanced level blogger? And what would you have to know to consider yourself an expert?
I’ve put together this list of activities that I’d consider to be evidence of an “advanced blogger”. I’ll add the caveat that there are highly successful bloggers who don’t do all these things. Choosing which activities to do from day to day is a sign you know your business well; knowing which activities fit is the “advanced” part. It’s not important as a professional blogger that you know how to do everything, but familiarity is good insurance against poor consultants and bad advice.
So let’s start with the first thing you do as a blogger:
Can you get a website up and going, whether WordPress, Joomla, HTML or otherwise? Do the terms nameservers, hosting and 301 redirects leave you at ease or cringing? Can you upload a site via your cPanel File Manager or by using a utility like FileZilla? Do you know what to change, if you upload using Fantastico, to secure it from hackers and malware? Are you familiar with the process of adding a subdomain or redirecting a different domain name to your site? Finally, have you customized your .htaccess file to protect your site the way you want, not the default?
Oooh. . . code is scary isn’t it? With utilities like Windows LiveWriter you don’t really have to know any code, but it sure is handy to know how to do a handful of things – and perhaps how to fix some easy, common problems. For some bloggers who outsource coding, knowing how to do it isn’t important. But knowing how gives you great insight into what things should cost so you never have to accept a high bid.
First of all, are you able to make your posts look like you envision them? I would consider bold, ordered bullets, h1 tags, tables and images to be beginner stuff, do you agree? Can you do the hard stuff like changing the global font in your site? Are there things like centering photos, creating Johnson Boxes and eschewing photos that you just can’t do? How about customizing WordPress themes or knowing when you should hardcode a plug-in instead of uploading it? Do you know how to add hard coded “hooks”, change the header or modify links in the sidebar?
If you’ve done all these things, you’re on your way to expert status for sure.
Are you making money from lots of different sources like speeches, Adsense, affiliate income, membership site dues, Kindle books, mobile apps, in-text ads, coupon prints and even physical products?
Do you understand your site’s money map? From your AdSense account you probably know which ad in your sidebar or on your post pages generate the most income. But do you know which kinds of ads (Adsense, affiliate, or even email opt-ins) in those positions make the most money? Are you A/B testing ads using an adserver or Google Website Optimizer? If someone asked to advertise on your site, do you know what each position is worth in the private marketplace?
With AdSense have you optimized your campaign testing ad sizes, locations and font colors? Have you been to an “AdSense in the City” event to have Google look over your campaign? And do you have the necessary channels set-up to really understand which ads are making you money? Do you know which pages on your site are optimized for “commercial keywords” and which are not? And have you tested whether internal ads make more sense on non-commercial pages than pay-per-click ads?
Have you attracted the attention of Sponsors or better yet gone after the ones you really want? Have you put together a long term contract with a Sponsor that benefits you, them and your audience? Are you finding others requesting Sponsored Posts or advertising opportunities from you? For that matter, do you have a Media Kit easily accessible to those searching?
Are you monetizing everything? For instance did you make sure to change the “powered by Thesis” language in your blog footer into your affiliate link? Are you doing the same thing with your emails where it says “Powered by Feedblitz”? Are you using redirects for your affiliate links in case the affiliate changes something or you get a better offer? Are you using a plug-in like Alinks that automatically turn your main keywords into in-text affiliate links automatically (even in blog comments)?
I would consider all these things to be the assets of an “advanced blogging” mind, but that’s not it. In Part 2 we will be discussing “Advanced Level” SEO concepts, how great bloggers are contacting their audiences, and how they’re thinking through their content strategy. And in the final chapter we’ll explore the tasks necessary to becoming an expert in your field, advanced steps to traffic generation and how to use tracking tools to make big moves.