Why I Quit Blogging (and What to Do If You're Struggling)

About four years ago, I quit blogging.

It wasn't anything dramatic. I didn't get drunk, delete my blog in a fit of rage, and tell everyone on twitter to go to hell (although I've been tempted).

No, I just kind of walked away. I stopped posting, let the blog go stale, and then canceled the hosting account.

The best way I know to describe is it was a kind of "learned helplessness."

I wrote lots of great content, but no one linked to it. I optimized for search engines, but I couldn't find my site anywhere in the first 100 pages. I tried submitting my posts to social bookmarking sites like Digg.com, but I couldn't pick up a single vote.

Eventually, you just get fed up, you know?

You do everything popular bloggers tell you to do, but it doesn't work, and so you feel like, "What's the point?" Obviously, you're doing something wrong, but you have no idea what it is.

And so you quit.

At Copyblogger, I've called it the glass ceiling of the blogosphere. If you do everything people tell you to do, you can get up to about 100 visitors a day, but then it's like you hit an invisible wall, and you can't go any further.

For me, it didn't just happen once. It happened three times in two separate niches. At first, I thought it was just the topic, but then when the same exact thing happened to me with a different topic, I knew something else was up.

And the honest truth?

I never figured it out. Big, fancy pants "traffic genius" Jon Morrow couldn't put two and two together.

After about six months of licking my wounds and thinking about it, I finally decided to hire Chris Garrett (co-author of the Problogger book) to look at everything and tell me what I was doing wrong.

Here's what he told me:

Nobody knows who you are.

At first, I didn't get it. I said, "Yeah, but isn't that the point of publishing great content? You write lots of great stuff, and then the word spreads, and popular bloggers find out about you?"

"No," he said. "Popular bloggers find out about who you are, and THEN they read your content, and THEN they link to you. Connections come first. Great content comes second."

You see, I had it backwards.

I thought great content led to connections, but really, it's the other way around. Feeling like an idiot, I decided to give it a shot.

I wrote about the same topics. My writing didn't improve at all. I promoted my posts in exactly the same way.

The only difference was I made some friends with popular bloggers first, and then I asked them to help me promote it. Here's what happened:

Within one month, I was averaging 1000 visitors a day from StumbleUpon, Delicious, and Digg. Why? Because I got to know Brian Clark, and he connected me with social media power users who promoted my posts.

I got nominated for the Best Business/Money Blog in the world. Guess who was on the nomination committee? Yep: Chris Garrett. I'd love to think it was a coincidence, but I know it's not.

I got linked to by Lifehacker, one of the most popular blogs in the world. How? Brian introduced me to Tamar Weinberg, who wrote for Lifehacker at the time, and I wrote posts I knew she would be interested in.

One thing led to another until, nowadays, I know almost everybody.

The Power of Connections

Sure, I've improved as a writer since then, but what really makes it possible to get so much traffic is all of the connections I've picked up over the years. Recently, I helped a consulting client launch a new blog, and we picked up something like 200,000 unique visitors within two months, starting from nothing.



I'm not saying great content is superfluous. It's not. You just need connections before it matters.

The cool thing?

Guest blogging helps you get both

Everyday, popular bloggers wake up with tens of thousands of readers hungry for something insightful, fresh, and amazing, and they have to keep them supplied. Privately, we call it "Feeding the content beast."

And so what's the one thing you can offer them that they'll always be interested in?

Guest posts.

They don't just want them. They need them. And if you can become a reliable provider, most will want to get to know you and do everything they can to help you, including introduce you to other powerful people.

Also, your content gets better the longer you write for them.

For the past three years, I've written for Copyblogger, and Brian Clark has edited my posts and given me feedback. Do you think that helped my writing? You betcha.

I go through my posts word for word, line by line and look closely at what he changed. It's taught me more about writing than a degree in English Literature.

The coolest part is the price. For three years now, I've been mentored by one of the best writers in the world, and it didn't cost me a dime. In fact, he paid me.

Of course, you might say, "Well, that's easy for you to do. You're in the blogging niche where there are tons of huge blogs. In my niche, there aren't any big blogs to write for, so obviously this won't work for me."

But listen to this:

My first popular blog was about lessons I learned from investing in real estate. Guess how many popular real estate investing blogs there are? Zero. If you don't believe me, Google it. The closest big niche is personal finance, and I didn't write for any of those blogs either (although I should have).

The truth is, it doesn't matter. You're targeting readers, not topics. I wrote for Copyblogger because most bloggers are interested in learning how to make more money. The same thing for Brazen Careerist. Your career is a big part of your income, and so I wanted those people.

You can do the same thing for any niche. I've had students who focused on drawing stick figures, vegetarian fitness, and even a blog about nothing but tomatoes. We found related popular blogs for all of them.

The point?

You can do this.

If you've been struggling, it isn't because you're a bad blogger. It's because you're trying to do it all by yourself.

Getting your blog going isn't about learning yet another traffic strategy. It's about surrounding yourself with powerful people who can support you, and the best way I know to do that is guest blogging.

Granted, maybe you're stuck in the whole "learned helplessness" phase, and you can’t believe it'll work for you. If that's the case, here's the deal:

I'm probably going to regret this, but if you're wondering whether guest blogging will work for your topic, leave me a comment below, and I'll take a look at your blog. Try to keep it as short as you can (no more than three paragraphs, please), telling me what your blog is about, who your readers are, and what you're hoping to accomplish.

If you'll do that, then I'll do for you what Chris Garrett did for me: I'll personally respond back to you and give you some ideas. Free charge.

Fair enough?

Well then, what are you waiting for? Get started writing that comment! πŸ™‚

Please note - comments are now closed

Since early 2011 we've been diligently responding to comments on this thread, answering your questions about guest blogging (and indeed many other topics!) But at the end of 2014 we decided the time had come to shut it down. Call it growing pains. Call it the end of an era. But at close to 3,000 comments this thread just became too much for our small team to handle.

If you've posted a comment and you're still waiting for a response we're truly sorry but we're probably not going to get to it. Yes, it sucks, I know. But there's some good news. This thread is a treasure trove of information, and chances are your question, or one very much like it, has been answered by us before. You'll just need to do a bit of scrolling. πŸ˜‰

In the meantime, if you'd like to be part of a supportive community where you can get feedback from other bloggers and interact with members of the Boost Blog Traffic team, please consider joining our membership program Serious Bloggers Only.

Warm wishes,



  1. Viola
    Aug 08, 2014 @ 13:27:30

    Thanks Marsha for agreeing to give feedback on blogs whose owners comment here. Your feedback appears to be helpful for a significant number of commentators and I'm looking forward to hearing from you. And thanks Jon for the insight in your blog post that connections come before content (which is significantly important too.)

    I) My blog is about how to identify potential learning moments in the ordinary course of a child's life and helping parents turn those moments into meaning learning for and bonding with their children.
    II) I target working moms
    III) I hope to earn a part-time income from this in 2015. Would you give me an idea which may be more profitable for my niche? Info products? Coaching? Advertising? Etc

    Any other feedback about my blog will be appreciated as well.

    Thank you once again. πŸ™‚

    • Marsha Stopa
      Aug 11, 2014 @ 11:30:09

      Hi Viola,

      Congrats on some insightful posts. It looks like you understand your topic well.

      A few questions and comments:

      -What do working moms most worry about relative to their child's development? My *guess* is that they are worried they won't be around to do the right things at the right time and they feel guilty. If you can offer a solution to that fear, you might have a viable product. Read Jon's post here: http://www.copyblogger.com/jons-confession/ That should get you thinking.

      Then, you have to figure out what's the best way for your audience to consume that product -- audio MP3s they listen to on their phone while commuting, with a transcript to check later (I'm guessing.) What you need to do is think like a working mom in your audience and work backward. Get out of your head about your topics and think like a potential customer.

      Also, I strongly suggest you tweak your theme. Your headline font is almost impossible to read. It's pretty and trendy, but very very hard on the eyes. I also suggest widening your post column. It's so narrow it's creating a long skinny "gutter" of text (old newspaper term) that is hard to read. No one will scroll down that far. There are wonderful new themes out there now that will do justice to your work. Check out http://elegantthemes.com (non aff link.)

      I hope that's helpful. You have some insightful and useful information on your site.

      • Viola
        Aug 11, 2014 @ 13:24:37

        Dear Marsha,

        Thank you for your clear directions forward and your encouraging affirmations. For relatively new bloggers like me who are unsure and lack confidence, your comments are like a light shining in my darkness.

        Thank you for taking the time to go through my blog and reading them (despite the bad layout, heh)

        May your light shine more and more brightly for the people and businesses you serve.

      • Viola
        Aug 11, 2014 @ 13:45:50

        Apologies, just 1 more slightly off-topic question:

        I have been blogging behind a pen-name (mainly so that I don't bring the mummy wars that erupt in private whatsapp chats with my mummy friends into my blog.)

        Is it advisable to blog as a business behind a pen-name?

      • Marsha Stopa
        Aug 12, 2014 @ 13:43:17

        It's generally not a problem to use a pen name. It's better if you create an online persona, rather than a business name. For instance, Johnny B. Truant is a pen name, and he's changed his blog and businesses a few times the last several years.

  2. Laurie
    Aug 07, 2014 @ 18:11:41

    Wow--great article Jon and wonderful response Jon and Marsha! I've learned a lot just from reading through some of them. And I am in awe of the generosity that is here.
    I have been doing a regular blog feature called Friday Focus for over to years. It's focus is on personal/spiritual development, learning about attitude, connecting with the inner teacher, how to deepen your focus, how to align your outer life with your inner guidance and related topics. These all relate to the big picture of how to live life more fully and realize one's potential. I would appreciate your insight in how to take this to the next level! What is missing? And do I have the right tone for guest blogging?

    Thank you, thank you!

    • Marsha Stopa
      Aug 11, 2014 @ 11:15:52


      Congrats for staying with it for so long. So, what have you learned? What do your readers respond to? What has resonated with them? You should have some analytics -- especially number of comments -- to give you a sense.

      A few observations and suggestions: (Warning -- the Queen of Tough Love now speaking.)

      -Your topics are generally abstract and conceptual, which is the nature of spiritual topics. The problem is that few people have the ability to translate those abstract concepts into concrete actions with tangible benefits. You're giving them the actions but you're leaving out the benefits. HUGE mistake, which is why you typically get only one or two comments on most posts. Readers can't easily see the value in their own life.
      -You're focused on the process instead of the benefits. This tracks from the same reasoning above. Yes, I get that the process is what makes things change, but for people who haven't experienced the results of the process yet, it all sounds nice to do but they don't have the time. They move on.
      -You're writing about yourself first, the reader second. This is a common mistake of new bloggers. We figure that since we're all the same, what worked in my life should work in your life, so I know better. Wrong. The harsh fact is that feels like Mom or Dad lecturing, rather than someone having genuine empathy for my problem and connecting without trying to fix me. Shift to connecting with the reader's problem or worry first, writing about them, and just a wee bit about you.
      -I challenge you to write one month's of posts without using the words "I" or "me." This will help: http://www.copyblogger.com/the-two-most-important-words-in-blogging/

      Do you have the right tone? Almost. Your writing is clear and concise, but not very conversational or personal. I feel like I'm being talked at. (See note about writing about yourself above.) You'll need much more empathy and connection with the readers to guest post successfully.

      Also, I see you're on WordPress, but this looks like an older theme design. To be honest, you can do much better. Your blog feels constrained and rigid, out of sync with your topic.

      Spirituality is a huge and growing topic within the personal development niche, the largest blogging niche right now. You have the fundamental skills to do well, but you will have to up your game to make it worth the effort.

      This is a pretty harsh critique, but the truth is, since you've been at this for two years you have what it takes and I'd love to see you do well.

      I hope this is helpful.


      • Laurie
        Aug 11, 2014 @ 13:10:56

        Hi Marsha---Yes, indeed it is all very helpful--tough love notwithstanding! I've been using Headway for my theme, but I have been feeling like it's time to change.
        I'm confused since I never use I or me in the Friday Focus posts. I'm very focused on that. But I really get your point about the benefits to the reader. They need to be spelled out more directly.
        Thank you for the depth of what you have offered!

      • Marsha Stopa
        Aug 12, 2014 @ 13:59:22


        Sorry about that. I skimmed both your blog and your Friday Focus so I may have gotten them confused.

        You're a very deep thinker. I enjoy that in a writer, but to be honest, I think you're jumping in too deep too fast for your readers.
        They don't wake up thinking about these deep topics the way you are presenting them. Yes, they are worried about how their life will change (for example) when they get married, take a new job or have a baby, but the worries swirling in their heads are more tangible. "Will I still be able to meet the girls for drinks on Thursday nights? Can I still take my zumba class? Will I be able to go hunting with the guys when I want?"

        There are VOLUMES of advice and information in your Friday articles -- maybe too much for people to take in, especially if this way of thinking is new to them. You might consider focusing on only a couple key points and really working with the emotional impact of each point, so clearly and with such empathy that your readers feel you are reading their minds. Take a look at how Jon does this: http://boostblogtraffic.com/quit-your-job/ (Just one example.)

        I hope that's more helpful.


      • Laurie
        Aug 13, 2014 @ 19:44:57

        Hi Marsha,

        I couldn't find a reply button to your second comment but I wanted to thank you for your time to get back to me--- and the clarity in your words. Very helpful indeed.


  3. muscle fast
    Aug 06, 2014 @ 11:08:08

    Hi there! Quick question that's entirely off topic.

    Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly?
    My web site looks weird when viewing from my iphone 4.
    I'm trying to find a template or plugin that might be able to resolve this issue.
    If you have any recommendations, please share.
    Appreciate it!

    • Colin Fox
      Aug 06, 2014 @ 12:58:25

      Hey muscle fast, you need a mobile responsive theme or someone who can code for mobile.

      Assuming you're using WordPress, I use DIY Themes -Thesis.

      It's completely customisable and there's tutorials and a forum for getting
      questions answered.

      Hope that helped?



  4. Jackie Blain
    Aug 06, 2014 @ 08:50:17

    Hi Marsha.

    What a wonderful thing Jon and you are doing! A big "thank you" in advance. (So much for the "you" part of this comment!) I'm a writer (you name it, I've probably at least attempted it), I teach mostly screenwriting and college composition, I love working with young filmmakers although I've never taught K-12, I'm a bit of an iconoclastic goof in the absent-minded-professor(ess) mold. I'm not much good at anything but teaching and writing. I've been a working writer/teacher for too long to enjoy writing into the vacuum of my own blog although I've blogged about writing and about teaching writing. A friend dubbed me The Savvy Scribe, but I don't know what that means, really.

    My problem? I don't want to write just for myself but there are a gazillion blogs about writing! I'm so overwhelmed I don't know what to do first. Niche? Niches?

    Consider this a pitiful cry for help (I'm not too proud to be pitiful... once in a while!).

    thanks much,

    • Marsha Stopa
      Aug 06, 2014 @ 18:03:28


      It depends on why you're blogging, which you don't really say, and it sounds if you're not quite sure yet. It sorta looks like you might be looking for writers to coach, or help with their manuscripts? I'm a firm believer that not everyone needs to blog, so if you are doing it because someone said you *should,* you are hereby released from that spell. πŸ™‚

      I suggest you give yourself 3 months, maybe longer (6 months) to really study the writing blogs out there. Google "best writing blogs." Take your time. Take notes. Start by reading the 10 most popular posts on each blog and especially the comments. It's an immense amount of FREE market research. What resonates with you? What do you hate? What could you do better? What are people asking about?

      Aim for having a list of at least 25 guest post ideas by the end of your research time. Make thoughtful comments when you can that really take the conversation to a new level so they start to recognize your name.

      Be sure to sign up for as many email updates and newsletters as possible during your research period, and apply the same kind of study. How do they talk to their subscribers? What do they sell? What do you like and what can you do better?

      If you're not sure about blogging, don't write for your own blog during this time. Put up a "hire me" page and a portfolio and let it go at that. By the time you're done, you should have a clear sense of: 1) whether you want to blog or not; 2) the writing blogs you like and would like to guest post for; and 3) what you can write for them. Start pitching guest post ideas and see what happens.

      The worst that can happen is that you'll come to understand the writing blogosphere and decide it isn't for you. (No guilt.) The best that can happen is you'll build your online credibility and authority by guest posting, and maybe get a few clients.

      Your choice. Enjoy the journey.


    • Ann Davis
      Dec 09, 2014 @ 12:23:23

      Hi Jon and Marsha,

      Thank you for this Blog. My blog is a month old. I have done ,listened, read all I could about building a mailing list before I dream of anything else. I have followed my favorite blogs ( call them powerful) and done all the nice stuff. Mail list ( embarrassed to state the number-NOTE NUMBER). My niche is on empowering, inspiring and motivating folks ( doesn't like they want to ). This blog was created after years of procrastinating and I am not ditching it !! It would feel nice for someone to read it..... ... what next?

  5. Janene Ferrara
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 09:40:52

    This is an awesome offer, thanks. I am in the interior decorating field and I've looked up the most popular home decor blogs and the majority (9 out of 10) don't take guest blogs. Which also got me thinking, the majority of the blogs are very focused on DIY and would those people (who are likely to do it themselves) be interested in hiring a decorator anyway? My target audience isn't the super wealthy its primarily women 35-55 in the $150HHI space, busy professionals who have great taste but not a lot of time and certainty in their decorating skills. Have I been barking up the wrong tree looking at design blogs for friends--should I be fishing somewhere else? Thanks so much, this is so incredibly helpful and I can't thank you enough. Jon, I've downloaded your 6 Figure Road Map and its awesome. Warm Regards, Janene Ferrara

    • Marsha Stopa
      Aug 06, 2014 @ 17:43:11


      It really depends on 1) what your goal for your blog is and 2) where your audience hangs out online. Chances are your professional group isn't hanging out on the DIY blogs, but they may search online for ideas and products.

      Which means you have a good chance of grabbing some SEO ranking if you offer a free design resource -- top tips, cheatsheet, resouce list -- that helps solve their biggest decorating problem or decision. If it gives them some immediate help and value -- even a small amount -- you'll be top-of-mind when and if they decide to hire a decorator, especially if they've been receiving emails from you (they opt in to receive the free design resource) with more great tips.

      Is your ideal client a working mother? You might find some limited success in guest posting on career blogs or mom blogs. You'll have to tie your topic into the blog's topic, of course, so relate it to career (how to manage a design project while on the road) or how to pick a designer with your family in mind. But note, many "mommy" blogs are not open to guest posts, so that's a tough nut to crack.

      You may be better off speaking locally to groups of professional women and cultivating a following on Facebook with both a Facebook page and ads. You can target ads to the gender, professional status and income level of the women you want to get in front of. And if you offer a free design resource (as mentioned above) in return for liking your page and their email, you could build your email list. Note: the giveaway has to be super enticing to work well.

      Are you familiar with MariaKillam.com? She's done insanely well, doing webinars and selling products. But she also gets tons of clients from her site. She blogs in a very personal style, which isn't for everyone, so don't think you MUST emulate her. But you can get clues for what that audience wants to read about.

      Focus on Facebook and building an email list and I think you'll do better.

      Good luck!

  6. Jake Mcspirit
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 08:33:11


    I recently tried to start a blog, called Heterodox Happiness, as an extension of my twitter persona. The idea is spiritualism, mixed with self-help, motivation, etc. It didn't really take off, despite the 20,000 followers I had to launch with. Whilst I wanted to pursue it, I realised that my writing ability when it comes to blog posts was going to need some work.

    The only way I feel it'll improve is if I broaden my writing horizons, but getting out there in the freelance writing business is a tough one. Though, I hope eventually I'll break on through - so I can find some connections and relaunch my blog with them in mind. Though the approach would probably differ dramatically next time around.

    It's just tough to find the right places that would be looking for my well-being, self-help, spiritual niche. Finding some blogs like that that've become successful seems to be proving difficult, as the self-help angle tends to have to be attached to something. For example, "how to overcome procrastination in writing" or "how to motivate yourself to market your blog" etc.

    I feel I could write to adapt to these niches, and blend it with my idea of self-help/philosophy, but I was stuck on where to go next. Is my niche too specific, or not specific enough?

    I know this is a mix of a lot of topics, but thank you for reading.


    • Marsha Stopa
      Aug 06, 2014 @ 17:22:18

      Hi Jake,

      I'm sure you're stuck, because you're going about it backwards. (Warning: Queen of Tough Love now speaking.)

      You don't look for the right places that would be looking for your specific blend of topics; you look at how you can tailor your topics to big blogs on related topics. There are 10 popular niches online now, and personal development, which includes spirituality, motivation and well being, is the largest. In other words, if you're the one who wants to write for a big blog, you adapt to their style, not the other way around.

      While that might sound like it stifles your creativity, message and voice, it really doesn't. Every painter who paints a painting has to deal with four sides of a canvas and a two-dimensional surface upon which to create a three-dimensional image. Same concept. You may focus more on the spiritual side of your message on a spirituality blog, and focus more on well-being for a blog on self esteem. It's just a question of shifting your focus and tailoring your message to the audience, the same way you would as if you were speaking to different age or career groups in seminars.

      And you've learned the hard way that large social media followings don't translate to blog readers, unfortunately. The opposite is true -- well written guest posts and blog posts increase your following, not the other way around.

      I suggest taking some time studying the most popular personal development blogs in your topic, and see which ones you resonate with the most and why. Read the 10 most popular posts on each blog and study the comments. Explore how you could write about your topic for that blog by writing at least 25 possible blog headlines you could write for that blog.

      Do that a few times for several blogs and you'll clarify what you want to write and how your topic fits in or overlaps with larger blogs. That will make you more prepared to launch a new blog, meet influencers in your niche and build an audience.

      Wishing you all the best,

  7. Ray John
    Aug 04, 2014 @ 04:57:32

    Great article, Jon. It is really hard to get readers to your blog when there are thousands of other blogs out there... But isn't it similar with guest posting? I mean, if you are just starting out, wouldn't it be very hard to find sites who actually want you to write for them?

    • Marsha Stopa
      Aug 04, 2014 @ 13:06:05

      Hi Ray,

      It's true, there are thousands of other blogs out there, but most of them publish self-focused, poorly written, lousy content. Only a small percentage are worth following.

      The same is true for guest posting. Yes, the sites that accept guest posts get slammed by submissions but most of them are NOT thoughtful, well written, have a new viewpoint or information and are not aimed at the blog's audience. That's why many big blogs are "by invitation only" or only accept guest posts from students who have completed our course, because they know they are quality posts.

      And that's the key -- a quality post written for their audience, not that you're just starting out. We prove that over and over again with new bloggers.


  8. Stephanie
    Aug 01, 2014 @ 12:12:01

    Hello! I'm starting a new site called FearlessFresh. It's in the food space and my goal is to help people simplify and de-stress cooking. They want to eat better, get compliments on what they make, and not stress about cooking, but what they need is kitchen organization skills, basic technique, and education on what real ingredients are.

    I have another blog at TheCulinaryLife.com that gets about 5,000 uniques a day (mostly Google search traffic, and Pinterest). That site will stay where it is, though I need to funnel pertinent traffic to the new site once it launches. The new site will have paid ebooks and courses, as well as culinary coaching to get over cooking fear and overwhelm.

    There are so many people in the food space that it's hard to get noticed by the bigger bloggers and develop a relationship. I've guest posted on big blogs with little results. What am I doing wrong? How do I wade through the masses to get to know bigger bloggers, and how do I craft an effective guest post? What does the ideal guest post contain/look like?

    • Marsha Stopa
      Aug 04, 2014 @ 13:17:52

      Hey Stephanie,

      Congrats on being fearless and taking the next step. πŸ™‚

      You're right. You're in a crowded competitive space. But maybe you shouldn't be posting on the food blogs. Sounds like you should be posting where your audience hangs out. Food and cooking organization skill posts could be written for productivity and lifehack blogs. Basic education on food ingredients *could* -- with some tweaking, be written for self-improvement and family blogs.

      Without seeing your posts on the bigger blogs and your bio, I can't tell you what you did wrong. Most big blogs drive traffic back to your site, but some don't. If you sent them directly to your home page the chances are excellent that you lost them. Too much too read, so they think they'll come back later, and they never do. Better to send them to a landing page that greets them and asks them to subscribe to your email list for more culinary treats.

      As to your other questions, we offer entire modules in the GuestBlogging course that answer exactly those questions -- how you get noticed and pitch your post, how to craft a guest post and the ideal post format. Seriously. Plus we have an editorial staff that reviews and edits. Those are such advanced, in-depth questions there is no way I can even begin to give you an answer you could use in a comment.

      Sounds to me like you're ready for the course, but only you can make that decision.

      P.S. LOVE the new domain name. Very smart.

      • Stephanie
        Sep 19, 2014 @ 01:36:26

        Thank you!! I just remembered to check back in here. Thanks so much for your answer. πŸ™‚

  9. OurNamibia.com
    Jul 30, 2014 @ 05:17:28

    I added the link http://www.ournamibia.com, but the magic is really happening at http://www.ournamibia.com/blog.
    The idea is to offer a portal where Namibians (a small country in Africa) can finally get news on truly interesting topics. Sure there are tons of news sites, but nowhere is there a truly informative "blogging" platform that cover topics that really resonate with Namibians. That's the reason why we created this blog. And although traffic has reached as high as 3000 visitors in a day, that rarely happens with a lot of marketing effort.

    I understand guest bloggers are key, and we've had one guest blogger. But because Namibia is such a small country and because very few people understand the concept of blogging, it's difficult to find writers that can cover topics we feel people want to read about. In fact, we are still not sure if we are writing about the right stuff.

    Any ideas/comments/suggestions would be highly appreciated!

    p.s. you rock for offering this! πŸ™‚

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jul 31, 2014 @ 14:11:08

      Good for you for taking the risk.

      Yes, you are limited by the fact that the blogosphere is limited in your part of the world.

      But you've got the idea of guest blogging reversed -- the idea is for YOU to guest post on other sites to drive back to your site. But unfortunately, you may be limited there, too.

      I suggest finding the largest blogs or sites in Namibia and studying them for a while. Get a feel for what's most popular. Then come up with topics you can write about -- even if they are not your favorite or what your own blog is about. The idea is to get in front of their audience any way you can. Pitch the ideas to the largest sites. You may have to educate them about guest posting and that your "payment" is a link back to your blog in your author's bio.

      Don't be afraid to broaden your search. There may be expats living in the UK or elsewhere who have sites related to Namibia.

      As far as what to write about, study your posts and see what's popular. Study social media to see what's shared the most. Read my comments to Anne-Marie about the social analytics tools to use.

      Don't give up easily!

      Good luck.


  10. Kathy
    Jul 26, 2014 @ 18:43:14

    Hello, Marsha and Jon-- Thanks for the opportunity to receive free feedback!
    I'm a college writing instructor who saw a need for more casual online writing resources for college-student writers as well as teachers like myself, so I started a blog. I'm currently scoping out some writing websites where I might possibly guest post. Most writing blogs seem to center on blogging techniques or getting creative fiction published. I love to write articles--creative and informative--but I'm still trying to get the hang of a "copy-writing" style which seems necessary for blogging. I'd appreciate any advice you might have for me so that I can get my writing career off the ground and seriously make it a second source of income. Thank you!

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jul 30, 2014 @ 18:24:30

      Hi Kathy,

      You're right about the predominance of writing blogs today - they are focused on blogging or publishing creative fiction. And you're right about copywriting -- it is essential.

      If you don't realize it yet, your target audience of college-student writers and teachers is actually pretty small, which means your blog may take a long time to get traction. I suggest thinking about how you can expand the audience without losing your focus.

      Several resources for you, if you don't know these already:

      -MakeALivingWriting.com. Carol Tice focuses on hungry freelance writers. Her advice is down-to-earth and tested.

      -BoostBlogTraffic.com. We focus on practical advice for bloggers, including many posts on writing and how to engage your audience, aka copywriting.

      -Copyblogger.com. Copyblogger has moved away from its original focus, the intersection of copywriting and blogging, but the site is a treasure trove of insight. Sign up for their email course on internet marketing, which includes copywriting.

      Good luck on your journey!


      • Kathy
        Aug 03, 2014 @ 15:03:12

        Thank you, Martha! Great advice--I agree that I should probably broaden my topic/audience. Yes, I've heard of these resources but will study them again more closely. I've also registered for the Copyblogger email course, which will be a great help.

  11. Erin Simmeth
    Jul 25, 2014 @ 10:29:04

    Thank you so much for the offer to review our topics and blogs! My blog "unstressed / stressed" started off as a work at home / work-life balance blog but has shifted gears to be more of a lifestyle, travel, food and wine blog. So far, in addition to friends and family, my readers tend to be younger, adventurous types, food lovers, photographers, travel writers (and spammers of course!). I would like to expand my audience and create a community that can share ideas around how to live well with a healthy work - life balance, doing the things we love. Working to live rather than living to work, if that makes sense!

    Thank you again for any feedback you may have!

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jul 30, 2014 @ 18:14:34


      So, the blog started as work-life balance blog but sifted gears to lifestyle and travel blog but you want to create a community around work-life balance. I missed something.

      It *sounds* like you're trying to create a blog around lifestyle design focused on traveling.

      All the blog topics you list are popular now and you will find guest posting opportunities in lifestyle design, travel and food. I strongly suggest getting clear on your blog topic first.

      Then, get off WordPress.com and onto a self-hosted WordPress blog with your own domain. Here's why: http://boostblogtraffic.com/wordpress-hosting/ You can find beautiful themes at ElegantThemes.com to showcase your travel photos.

      I think you can have a lot of fun with this topic and gain followers if you're clear about your focus and up the visual appeal of your blog.

      All the best,

  12. Lux
    Jul 25, 2014 @ 09:49:45

    Hi, Martha and Jon.

    I blog about a lot of things, but mostly about faith, being single, about love and relationships. So, most of my readers are single women. I also write about places since I also travel (not extensively though).

    I get traffic by joining blog challenges and sharing through my social media. I get views but not that much (average 200-300 page views a day). I sometimes get comments (really great ones!) and likes or pluses.

    I hope you can check my blog and let me know what else I need to do to increase traffic, or perhaps get more subscribers (i've got only 15 as of this date).

    I have already tried guest blogging on thoughtcatalog and theprayingwoman. thanks in advance!

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jul 30, 2014 @ 18:03:22


      I see you're putting your heart into your blog. A few observations from the "Queen of Tough Love."

      -Decide on your topic. I'm scanning and seeing all these posts about faith, and this post on skin lotion jumps out. Total disconnect. The rule is: "One blog, one topic." Why? You confuse your readers otherwise and confused readers leave quickly. Not everyone is interested in everything you're interested in -- which is why you don't have many subscribers. Pick a topic and stay with it.

      -If you really want more readers, get off Blogspot and get a self-hosted WordPress blog. Your blog will gain credibility only because it looks more intentionally designed and professional.

      To be successful at guest blogging, it can't be a one-off strategy. Try again. Repeat. You gain readers by writing about what people want to read about and doing it again and again. Go back to those blogs and try for an encore.

      Best of luck,

  13. Bruce Harpham
    Jul 24, 2014 @ 08:43:30

    Jon, what a generous offer! I'll gladly take you up on it.

    Blog topic: training and career resources for project management professionals

    Blog URL: ProjectManagementHacks.com

    Who My Readers Are: I am seeking project managers (and aspiring project managers) who mainly work on IT/software projects at large companies, age 25-35. My readers have read books like "The 4-hour workweek" by Tim Ferriss and "Getting Things Done" by David Allen.

    What I'm Hoping to accomplish: build a business that generates $150,000 in gross revenue in 2015. In 2014, my focus is on building my expertise, writing guest posts (I've already published 5 and several more are coming) and building an email list. The long term goal is to build an information product/training business.

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jul 30, 2014 @ 17:52:02


      Perfect domain name! Well done.

      I suggest focus on getting guest posts on sites like LifeHack.org and LifeHacker.com and other sites in the productivity niche. There may also be some tech/IT/software blogs of which I am unaware.

      IT and tech-types tend to hang out in online forums. I suggest hanging out there and offering friendly help and expertise.

      Consider offering a free cheatsheet for your audience as a giveaway for signing up to your email list. You know your audience - what would they love? They will be more inclined to buy later if they like your first product, free or not.

      Are you on Google+? LinkedIn? Those may be better social media platforms for your audience than Facebook. You can start conversations related to your blog posts and guest posts.

      Great idea and the right strategy.


  14. Ron
    Jul 21, 2014 @ 21:01:47

    Hello Marsha,
    I just need an opinion about my site Supernatural & Sci-Fi Flicks, which has been with us for around 4 months now.
    My site has to do with movies, tv shows, books, music and video games in the genre of the supernatural, science fiction, horror, fantasy and superhero.
    I would be very grateful and intrigued if you were to take a look at it here http:// http://www.supernaturalandscififlicks.com-- thank you!

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jul 30, 2014 @ 17:44:37

      Hi Ron,

      While I know the white text on black background fits your genre, realize it's very hard on the eyes for most people. You may want to soften the black to a dark gray and the white to a very light gray.

      It looks like the focus of the site is to sell DVDs etc. for this genre of movies. So, you may do well in the search engines because you have the movie names in the headers.

      You might consider including more reviews or rankings if you want to sell. That's called "social proof" and is one of the silent motivators that makes people buy.

      All the best,

      • Ron
        Jul 30, 2014 @ 19:58:42

        Thank you for your time and advice, Marsha!

  15. Abigail Royston
    Jul 19, 2014 @ 19:06:36

    Dear Marsha,

    I really enjoyed your article and found it by searching about what one should charge for guest blogging. I was questioning whether or not guest blogging was worthwhile and so after reading your thoughts I am now keen to give it a go.

    I started http://www.mygirlsontour.com at the end of February/March and am getting the initial response that I had hoped for. At first my blog was inspired by my wish to share the ins and out of life of a young tennis player on the world tour, but now the blog has become more focused on my (and hopefully soon my friend's) journey around the world, with facts about the places we visit, lots of pictures and stories as well as fashion look books and recommendations.

    I am interested in knowing how to now reach a wider captive audience, including meeting other fashion bloggers and how to make connections in this sphere or indeed the blogging world in general? mygirlsontour.com has now over 500 subscribers and 250 views per day, with each recent post averaging from 5-17 comments. I was hoping for some advice or your opinion as to the best way to now build on this following and traffic.

    Blogging is something that I am really really enjoying doing. It is wonderful to have successful bloggers like yourself giving advice to the community and I truly appreciate any help which you may be able to offer to me.

    Best wishes,

    Abigail Royston

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jul 30, 2014 @ 17:35:40

      Hi Abigail,

      For as young as your blog is, you're doing great in terms of email subscribers and comments. Bravo!

      Given the blog name and that most of your pics and stories are about the places you visit, I would treat this more as a travel blog than a fashion blog. Why? Travel blogs are a growing niche and usually easier to land guest posting spots. To that goal, I would include more detailed facts about visiting the different places you feature, just as travel blogs usually do. That means adding a short bulleted list in a box or at the end of each post with pertinent information for travelers. Study these for ideas: http://fathomaway.com/slideshow/fathom-2014-best-travel-blogs-and-websites/1/

      Because you've traveled a lot, consider writing some travel tip list posts. You can probably incorporate fashion into those, for example: "The 12 Best Tips for Visiting Italy from a Travel Fashionista." Heck, with all the places you've been, you could write a "Travel Fashionista" series! You might be able to interest fashion blogs in accepting those as guest posts. But still consider writing travel tips posts for regular travel blogs.

      Because your blog and topic is so visual with photos, I would focus on Facebook and Pinterest to help grow your audience and email list.

      I would consider writing a travel checklist or some kind of tip sheet as a free giveaway for signing up to your email list, such as: "The Travel Fashionista's 9 Indispensable Tips for Looking Fabulous from a Suitcase," or something compelling like that.

      Study travel blogs and fashion blogs. What are they doing well? (Use the tool BuzzSumo to study their content.) How can you do the same or better? Reach out and meet people. Offer to help. In time, you can ask them to share a post you've written that's right for their audience, and later ask if you can do a guest post for them.

      You have a great start and the potential of building a "brand" for yourself.

      Wishing you all the best,

      • Abigail Royston
        Sep 16, 2014 @ 11:08:07

        Dear Marsha,

        Wow! Thank you ever so much for your reply and your feed back. I love the idea of the tip sheet and get on to organizing that now πŸ™‚ As for your great blog post titles, these are truly fabulous and are a great help as to ways in which I could link fashion and travel together. Thank you. I will try to email some people about the "travel fashionista series" to see if they would be interested in me doing a guest- blog. πŸ™‚

        Again I really appreciate the time which you have taken to look at the blog and answer me and your detailed feedback is incredibly positive and helpful.

        Thank you so much, really your message was so kind and so full of encouragement.

        Best wishes,


  16. MJ
    Jul 19, 2014 @ 13:42:09

    Hi Marsha

    I'd love to get your views on my site. It's essentially a site curating gifts for kids - so not an out and out blog as such. I pretty much monetised the site from day one (affiliate marketing), but I want the site to be more than just another typical affiliate site. I'd like to build more of a brand around it and this is what I'm now working towards.

    One of the first things I did was to get rid of the awful exact match domain name it used to have (it's so embarrassing that I won't even mention it here). It cost me rankings, but it needed to go. The other decision I made was to focus on PANKs (professional aunts no kids), a hugely under represented group.

    I've only just started to come out of my shell and connect with other bloggers (for my round up posts - crafts mostly), and they've been so gracious in sharing my content. I think I'm moving in the right direction, but I sure would appreciate some honest feedback on what I could do better/how to further develop the site.

    Thank you

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jul 30, 2014 @ 17:09:57


      Cute site! Very fitting for your topic.

      You're on the right track. Connecting with craft bloggers will help get you some "street cred," for lack of a better term. Looking at the post on Disney Room Decor, what can you do for DIY home decorating blogs? A few well placed guest posts would expand your audience.

      But what about the audience, PANKs? Where do THEY hang out online? How about a guest post on spoiling your nieces/nephews rotten without guilt for personal development sites, or career sites (it helps you talk kids with your married co-workers), or parenting blogs? Think outside your box.

      Use Alltop.com to search for those four kinds of blogs, write up 100 possible headlines (25 each) and start pitching. Don't stop til you get some. (Oy!) Even four to eight guest posts on decent-sized blogs will boost your growth.

      Good luck!

      • MJ
        Jul 31, 2014 @ 16:15:21

        Thank you Marsha for giving up so much of your time to do this.

        It's affirming to know I'm heading in the right direction and you've given me a few ideas I hadn't thought of before. In fact, every time I read your comments to the other bloggers, I learn something new.

        Thanks again!


  17. Anne-Marie
    Jul 15, 2014 @ 14:50:10

    Marsha -- thank you for sharing your time and expertise. I've found it helpful to read through your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.

    Bay Tree Blog shares powerful learning strategies and games for professionals and parents who work with children with learning disabilities. We share research-based interventions and activities for children with language-based learning disabilities like dyslexia. I'm an educational therapist in private practice looking to reach out to help other professionals become more effective in their craft.

    * Uncover the common challenges that other educators face, and provide downloadable materials to help solve those problems.
    * Become a go-to blog for educational therapists, learning specialists, and reading specialists.
    * Share free, accessible information with other professionals, so more kids are successful in school. (There's a decade + lag between research and practice for special ed)!
    * Build relationships with the handful of successful educational therapists/learning specialists who are online.

    I so appreciate your feedback and suggestions.

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jul 30, 2014 @ 17:00:34

      Anne Marie,

      Your blog is attractive and well designed. Bravo.

      I'm going to reorganize your goals slightly. If your primary goal is No. 2, Become a go-to blog for educational therapists, learning specialists, and reading specialists, all the other goals will naturally flow from meeting that goal.

      It looks like you don't have many comments on your thoughtful posts and don't have many followers. There may be several reasons for that: 1. Your audience hasn't discovered your blog yet. 2. You don't spend time promoting your posts. 3. Your readers aren't online reading blogs. 4. Your readers aren't aren't on social media.

      I'm guessing it's a combo of the four reasons, with the primary reason that you're not spending enough time on promotion in the places your audience hangs out.

      I suggest some social media competitor research to determine the key platforms your audience uses. Start with the educational associations and organizations that reach this community of educators. Follow them in social media. Use some of the social analytics tools like SocialCrawlytics or Moz OpenSiteExplore to find out where their audience is and what kind of content like. Then start following these people and groups and commenting thoughtfully.

      Do these educational groups have forums? Get in there and answer questions as a friendly expert. Mention your site once in a while. Watch what they publish, then offer a great (downloadable) resource. We had a GuestBlogging student who is also in education do exactly that, and she landed a guest post on a very large educational blog, with her post widely shared on their social media channels.

      Go to where the readers are, be helpful, write guest posts and link back to your site. Tried and proven strategy.

      Best of luck to you,

  18. Savorian
    Jul 15, 2014 @ 09:14:52

    Hi Marsha,

    This post is timely. I am a single stay at home Mom, who for lack of a better way of saying it, had life happen to her. I found myself with one daughter, and pregnant again with Twins and left on my own to deal with the mess I had made -- being homeless and with babies. I was living in a homeless facility for women and children and was really down on my life. The only thing I had was the love of learning, my daughter, and the two new bundles of joy growing inside me. I needed motivation and something to remind myself that I could make it through anything. I started Mommy Do Your Thang with the few dollars I was getting from welfare. It initially began as a way to keep myself from being depressed, but as I promoted the site, I had people coming to me asking me to make them a site, and promote it for them, and I have women asking me all the time how to make money blogging.

    So, I decided to start teaching what I know and being an inspiration to whoever needs it. If I can make it out of the whole in the ground that was my life then anyone can. So now, I'm not homeless anymore and I actually bought a car a couple months ago...can you believe it? But now I want to grow my audience, and sell my stuff so to speak.

    Any advice you offer will be well appreciated. Thanks!


    • Marsha Stopa
      Jul 30, 2014 @ 16:37:02


      Bravo to you for turning your life around!

      I took a quick look at your site, and I'm afraid I'm not a good person to advise you on next steps because we don't use or recommend purchased PLR content. We stress to our students the importance of writing original guest posts tailored to the audience of each blog they write for.

      Sorry to disappoint.

      Best of luck,

  19. Brandi
    Jul 13, 2014 @ 17:59:36

    Hi Marsha,

    i am a teacher turned Literacy consultant. I started the original Lit Maven blog http://www.brandiclark.ca as a grad course requirement to reflect on Web 2.0 tools. It spiked last July with 200,000 visitors in one month. I wanted to go self hosted so I migrated the Lit Maven to the See Jane Learn website... http://www.brandijclark.com. I changed the name because there is already a Lit Maven out there. This blog is share my thoughts on Literacy , technology and pop culture. I have begun to publish my writing in educational journals.

    In 2013 I started the Box of Bothers blog to showcase wellness strategies ( I am am a cancer survivor) and solving those "box of bothers" ...things that irritate you and live in your mind. I also wanted to showcase my art. I think managing two separate sites is a mistake. I realize that I have 2 choices...drop one or combine.

    Which direction would you advise? Combine? Or drop? If drop one....which in your opinion has the most potential? My interests have always been varied. I would say I read deeply and widely....especially Nonfiction. I am interested in exploring life balances, creatives...their processes, linking literacy to technology and life ( pop culture or otherwise). I prefer a simplified and humorous approach to life. I am looking for any advice and feedback that you think would assist me with focus and growth.

    Thanks in advance,

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jul 30, 2014 @ 15:23:56

      Hi Brandi,

      You're making the mistake virtually all (newer) bloggers make when deciding on topics: What suits me best? You have to realize that the first time you hit "publish," you're not writing for yourself anymore. You're writing for your readers, and what you should write about is what suits THEM best.

      You didn't define your blogging goals. To be read? To be published elsewhere? To help? To make money? The answer to that questions determines which one to keep and which one to kill. Never ever combine two completely different topics like these. The audiences are so different, you will alienate half the audience with each post -- a recipe for blogging disaster. Again, it's not about what suits you.

      I'm not sure what you want to do with Box of Bothers. It started to sound like a personal development site -- which could be very viable with a huge potential audience -- but then you say you want to showcase your art. You can use your art to illustrate your blog posts, but don't try to combine an artist portfolio site with a personal development site -- again, two different audiences for two different purposes. So, you have three potential sites. πŸ™‚

      Which has the most potential? Personal development is one of the largest niches online right now; literacy is much smaller by comparison. Much.

      One of Jon's rules in picking a blog topic is to ask yourself, "What keeps people up at night?" The Box of Bothers? Definitely. Literacy and pop culture. Unlikely.

      Whatever you decide, I issue you a challenge: Try to write a month of posts without using the words "I" or "me." Talk to your audience, about their problems. This post will help: http://www.copyblogger.com/the-two-most-important-words-in-blogging/ Try that experiment and see how your readers react. I'll bet you'll be surprised.

      I hope that helps you decide.


  20. Mary
    Jul 10, 2014 @ 11:00:38

    Hi Marsha,

    My blog informs classical ballet teachers, students and dancers about a very specific method of training (known in the ballet world as the "Vaganova method"). I debunk myths and cover all of the controversies surrounding this method. So I am really a niche within a niche... "Vaganova method" is a smaller niche within the niche of "classical ballet". That makes it really tough to find big related blogs, because there aren't even a whole lot of big blogs on ballet! I could write for dance blogs, I suppose, but I'm not sure my target audience is looking there... Should I consider submitting posts for even bigger, more general blogs, like Huffington Post for example? I just don't know where to start. Thanks so much in advance!!

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jul 11, 2014 @ 13:20:04

      Hi Mary,

      I studied a little ballet (as an amateur) and several of my teachers had Vaganova training. You've named your own problem -- your target audience is very very tiny. To be brutally honest, I don't think you'll find much interest outside of the ballet world because your topic doesn't relate to the everyday life of most people.

      Because your audience is ballet teachers, you need to determine where they hang out online, or IF they hang out online. Then you need to put yourself in front of them.

      Are there online dance forums where dancers and teachers hang out? If there are, then you should be there, answering questions as a friendly expert.

      I'm guessing that virtually dance studio on the planet has a Facebook page. Which means you can target FB advertising to appear on those pages, where the teachers might see it. Better yet, are there FB groups for dancers and teachers? Get involved, target some ads.

      If there isn't an online forum for ballet teachers, AND you can determine they hang out online and are interested, there might be an opportunity for you to fill by creating an online community. Free or paid, it has to offer real value to the dance teachers to keep them engaged.

      You might be able to pitch a post to the Huff Post or some larger lifestyle blogs or sites, but the hook will have to be something of more general interest, such as a modern resurgence of a very old dance technique (making that up.) Or, maybe a cautionary post to dance parents about why their child's dance teacher should be Vaganova trained if the child wants a career in dance. Or, maybe a post on the secret that history's greatest ballet dancers all shared -- Vaganova training.

      In other words, you have to take the guest post topic out of the dance world and translate it to something ordinary dance lovers could enjoy.

      I hope that's helpful and I wish you the best on this journey!


      • Mary
        Jul 11, 2014 @ 13:39:27


        Thank you, this was incredibly valuable. (I am very impressed with your grasp of my "baby niche" topic, btw!) You gave me some excellent action items and I am very grateful.


  21. Michelle Miller
    Jul 08, 2014 @ 15:23:39

    Hi Marsha. My husband and I are publishing a book this September - Where Have All the Storks Gone? A His and Hers Guide to Infertility. Our publicist recommended creating a brand around infertility/pregnancy/parenting instead of spending our time and money marketing infertility only, since we are more likely to write about parenting in the future than revisiting the infertility topic. We launched http://www.storkparenting.com (blog is http://www.storkparenting.com/blog) a few months ago and I've worked to build up the content there. Would love your suggestions on where to go from here to build traffic. Obviously we need to start guest blogging to build our traffic now. Where do we start? I'm not clear how to find out who the power bloggers are in infertility or parenting? I've contacted the parenting editor of Huffington Post for example. I'd appreciate any advice you have on our website, blog posts, and how to find the right power bloggers to reach out to. Thank you!

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jul 30, 2014 @ 16:07:07

      Hi Michelle,

      Wise counsel by your publicist. And carrying that further, don't think so narrowly when looking for blogs to guest post. You want to go where the readers are, and they are not necessarily on infertility or parenting blogs. Also, many parenting blogs are small and not that open to accepting guest posts.

      Where are couples, parents or not yet, hanging out online? I'd look at the personal development blogs, health and fitness blogs, even spirituality blogs. You can try Alltop.com to find them. We also spend a couple of modules in the GuestBlogging course helping you pinpoint the best targets. πŸ™‚

      Your site is attractive, but perhaps a bit too minimalist for your topic. I don't get a warm and friendly vibe from it. Your blog is confusing with the mixture of expert Q&As and parenting tips. I suggest recategorizing the Q&As by topic, which might require some reformatting, so readers can find the topic they want easily whether it's a Q&A or post. Right now, your Q&As don't give readers any clues as to what the topic is about -- you have to read the book title or scan the Q&A to get an idea. That's probably losing readers because it adds extra work for the reader. Make it easy and give each Q&A a more descriptive headline.

      This are popular topics that affect a large percentage of the population. Don't box yourself in by only seeking out infertility and parenting blogs.

      I hope that helps.

      Good luck!

      • Michelle Miller
        Jul 31, 2014 @ 07:18:02

        Thank you for your advice Marsha. So helpful to know where to start and have some actionable changes I can make today (particularly fixing the Q&A section)! And I hadn't thought of trying to find where couples are hanging out online other than infertility/parenting blogs - thank you for helping me look outside the box!

  22. Laura LeClair
    Jul 08, 2014 @ 14:24:24

    I have been blogging for over a year now. When I post I can get up to 30 or so hits. I'm a mom of 7 children and I homeschool. Sometimes I do blog about different things, but try to stay true to motherhood and homeschooling. I homeschooled for 15 years now and feel confident to blog about it on my blog our do a guest blog. But have no idea how to guest blog somewhere else. Do I just start leaving comments to get to know blogs where I'd love to guest blog at. I'm also in the process of writing short stories and using the Writers Market to get them published. However I do know the importance of having a writing platform as well.

    Thank you for your time. It's much appreciated.

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jul 11, 2014 @ 13:32:55

      Hi Laura,

      I'm not entirely sure what advice you're looking for. Are you looking to get more readers and traffic? Do you want to build a writing career? What are your goals here?

      It sounds like you might need to do some research first. Find some (bigger) blogs on parenting and home schooling and read and study them for 3-6 months. Take notes on what's popular, how the readers react and what they ask about. Make strategic comments that add new information or a point of view to advance the conversation. Use AllTop.com to research blogs. Eventually, if you pitch these blogs for a guest post they should recognize your name.

      If you intend to keep blogging and want more readers, then find ways to make your blog posts relate to your readers. Don't just write about your problems and what you're experiencing; develop deep empathy for how other moms struggle with these problems and write to them directly. I challenge you to write a month of posts without ever using the words "I" and "me."

      This article might help: http://www.copyblogger.com/the-two-most-important-words-in-blogging/

      The parenting niche is a popular and growing blogging niche. If you take the time to study it, become familiar with the big players and what the audience wants, you'll see how to shape your blog to contribute more.

      Hope that helps.


  23. Brooke
    Jul 04, 2014 @ 18:18:00

    Hi Marsha,

    I've been blogging for a few years now, but only recently started to invest more time into it. It all began as a way of keeping my friends and family updated on my travels as they happened (an online diary for myself, making sure I didn't forget any fun little tid-bits from my trips). I received so much encouragement from others to keep it up, and pursue it, so I did just that!

    My blog is a travel blog - it's stories from my various trips over the years, but I'm also looking to include more 'tips and tricks' for other people so they feel they can get something useful out of my posts. My blog has been a great way for me to combine my love of travel, photography and writing and feel like it's helping me to improve on all three! What I'm struggling with is my visitor rate, subscribers and 'likes'. I did start to promote my posts through Facebook (paid) and it certainly helped boost traffic on a number of my posts, but I don't feel like I want to invest too much from my wallet before I'm making anything from it. I'd also love my visitors to be genuinely interested in what I'm posting, and sometimes paid clicks don't necessarily fit that bill.

    Ultimately, my goal is to be able to do this for a living. I'm so crazy passionate about this blog that I want it to be a success. I just feel like I still have quite a few teething issues, and am perhaps not going about it all the right way?

    I'd love to get some feedback πŸ™‚

    Yours faithfully,

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jul 11, 2014 @ 13:50:00

      Hi Brooke,

      You say you'd like to make a living from your blog, but how? Blog sponsorships? Advertising? Info products? That decision will determine the course you need to take.

      If you want to rank as a travel blog -- a growing niche -- you'll have to step up your game. You'll need to include more about the history of the places you're visiting, more details and links about where to stay, where to eat, places to see, what airlines fly there, and the other usual facts that travelers are seeking. Let me put on my Queen of Tough Love hat now -- a bit of short narrative about what you did and lots of pictures isn't enough. You need to give readers useful information, not just impressions.

      Your blog doesn't have a navigation menu right now. I don't see an About page that tells me more about you and entices me to follow your wanderings. It's not easy to navigate your site.

      I suggest you use Alltop.com and Google to find successful travel blogs and study them closely for 3-6 months. Find at least 10 travel blogs you like and dissect the 10 most popular posts on EACH blog -- that's 100 posts. Take notes. Look for patterns. What do readers respond to? What do they like? What do they not like?

      By the time you're done you should have an excellent sense of what makes a successful -- and possibly profitable -- travel blog. Then you can decide how your blog can fit in and give readers the advice they are looking for -- and if you're up for the work and the challenge. Research the competition. (Do you read the NYTimes Travel section?)

      Do the research and then decide what you might like to do with your blog. I think you'll be happier with your decision.

      Wishing you the best,

      • Brooke
        Jul 16, 2014 @ 06:58:02

        Hi Marsha,

        I appreciate the response!

        To be quite honest, the idea of really taking this somewhere that has earning potential has only been a recent thought so I haven't quite yet sat down and brainstormed where the income might come from. I would think however, it would be a combination of advertising and sponsors. All things to research further, definitely!

        I completely agree with what you've said about including more information that my readers would find relevant and useful (history, clearer use of links etc). I did have more of that in my earlier posts, but over time have gotten a little carried away with story telling! I've always been sure to include links to eateries, transport companies and places I've stayed, however I think they do get a bit lost in my large bodies of text. Being more transparent with that information and taking care with my layout are both things I'm planning to work on.

        It seems that my navigation menu didn't follow over to my new theme! I did have one at the top - all fixed up now πŸ™‚ It also had a link to my 'About' page (which currently needs some work).

        Everything in your feedback (however 'tough' some of it might have been) were all things I've been thinking about myself. It's definitely reassuring to hear from someone else, and know I had the right ideas. Now I just need to put them into practice!

        Still being a young blog, I have quite a way to go and lots of things to work on. I'll be keeping your tips on hand to help guide me!

        Thanks again,

  24. Catherine Smith
    Jul 04, 2014 @ 08:01:14

    HI Marsha,
    I too am in the current guest blogging course. Would you mind taking a look at my site fit-after-50-womens-health-magazine.com. My goal with taking the current course is to improve my writing skills and drive traffic (new and from my exisitng list) to my new weekly blog and thereby develop a more engaged audience. Could I re-work some of the things I've already written into my new blog (using what I'm learning from the guest blogging course)? I'm trying to decide if I'll keep the website as well as the new blog or do away with the site and just have a blog. Thanks for your input

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jul 04, 2014 @ 10:05:36


      Please include a URL for your site.


      • Catherine Smith
        Jul 04, 2014 @ 15:32:49

      • Marsha Stopa
        Jul 11, 2014 @ 11:13:31

        Hi Catherine,

        Thanks for the link.

        What's your ultimate goal in driving traffic and engaging your audience? Do you want to sell coaching services? Or info products?

        The reason I ask is that for either of those goals, a blog will give you a more personal connection with your audience. A personal connection, a sense of bonding with your reader, is pretty much a requirement to make any headway (whether you sell anything or not) in the personal development, health and fitness space.

        I suggest giving that some thought. You have a lot of great info on your site, but without a personal connection, it may just sit there.

        Are there any successful bloggers in your niche you want to model? Why don't you examine their sites with an eye to their personal connection, how they handle that and how they weave in the information they want to share?

        I hope that's helpful. Let me know if you have other questions.


  25. Greg
    Jul 02, 2014 @ 13:09:22

    Hi Marsha,

    I started a blog for my online store Resteze a couple of months ago. I've mostly been posting my content to social media sites but have not gotten any comments or shares yet. I am preparing to do some guest posting by researching some blogging opportunities. My niche is natural and organic bedding and my customers are generally health conscious moms and people who like eco-friendly products. Your comments and suggestions on how to get more followers is very welcome.

    Thank You,

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jul 03, 2014 @ 15:20:30

      Hi Greg,

      You're definitely on the right track with your topics and posts. Sleeping tips, ways to promote natural health, etc.

      The trick for you will be to write guest posts that focus on these healthy topics WITHOUT hyping your own products. Hyping your own products will turn off bloggers and their readers.

      But, positioning yourself as a helpful, knowledgeable resource on these topics will endear you to the readers and when they think of buying these kinds of products, they'll think of you.

      You should be able to link to your site in your guest post bio, which should help bring you readers.

      I hope that's helpful.


  26. Casey
    Jul 01, 2014 @ 10:16:11

    Hi Marsha! I am just coming back from about a month long break from my blog so I'm trying to pull it all back together but I'm redefining and changing a lot as well. At first, I was doing a travel/teaching abroad blog but I don't think that is exactly what I want. Maybe I've gone a little too broad but my overarching theme is inspiring people to change their lives for the better/live the life they want (so motivation and inspiration will be the main theme). Underneath that goal will be my specific topics of travel and entrepreneurship/blogging with some organization/productivity tips as well. I'm also trying to come up with a new domain name to go along with these changes.
    Thanks so much for the help!

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jul 03, 2014 @ 14:58:21

      Hi Casey,

      Yes, to be honest, you're trying to jam too many topics into one blog. Jon's rule is "One topic, one blog."

      Why? Simply put, the audiences for your different topics are different. Someone who is interested in changing his life may not be interested at all in travel, may never consider being an entrepreneur and feel he is perfectly organized. So, you've alienated this reader with three of your themes right off the bat.

      I'm being a bit harsh to make a point. If you're writing to help people, you have to discover what your audience's problems are and what kind of solutions they are searching for. That gives you invaluable information into their psyche and you can adjust how you speak to them and how you offer to help.

      The hidden truth is that people prefer reading more about themselves then they like to read about the writer's life (unless you're already famous.) So writing about how you've learned or solved something doesn't always inspire someone unless you write with so much empathy for how they struggle with this problem that they feel like you're reading their mind.

      I suggest you do more work on pulling the focus of your blog together by reading from the 10 most popular posts on at least five, but preferably ten, big and popular self improvement and productivity blogs. Read Tiny Buddha; Marc and Angel, Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life; to name a few. (Find more at http://alltop.com.)

      It's competitive research, and it will show you what people are interested in reading. If you take the time, I guarantee your new blog will be better for it.

      All the best,

  27. Anne Kirstine Pi Halmind
    Jul 01, 2014 @ 08:01:20

    Hi Marsha

    I couldn't decide whether to comment since I'm currently doing Jon's amazing Guestblogging Course, but my mantra at the moment is Speak Up! and I need a lot of practice, so I try to open my mouth as often as possible.

    I have no blog yet (following Jon's advice about observing/learning first) but I want to start a blog for people who want to succesfully do business in Spain or with Spanish companies (could be startups or etablished companies - maybe I need to choose one, I'm not sure).
    My focus is Spanish business/working culture, which my Master's thesis was about.

    I want to share my knowledge in and experience with Spanish (business) culture in order to enable people (leaders and employees?) to work effectively and positively with Spanish people.

    Have you any knowledge of blogs on this topic?

    Thanks for your great effort, Marsha and Jon!

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jul 03, 2014 @ 14:43:57

      Hi Anne,

      Welcome to the course and I'm glad you're enjoying it.

      At the risk of discouraging you, I hope you realize your target audience is small. There simply aren't that many companies doing business in Spain and very few blogs on the topic in the blogosphere.

      Which leads to my second point ,which is clarifying exactly who you are writing this blog for -- companies or their employees. You need to define "people who want to successfully do business in Spain or with Spanish companies." If you're speaking to companies, you'll be talking about how to acclimate their employees who go to Spain to work, or how to work with Spanish employees. If you're talking to employees who transfer to Spain, you'll be talking about the details of daily life and the culture.

      In either case, are you sure those companies and their employees are reading blogs? πŸ™‚

      I suggest doing some research on human resources sites and organizations to see what kind of information is available and in demand. Do some keyword searches to see how popular the topics are. Properly targeted -- at the right people in the company and in the right format (blog posts, webinars, white papers etc.) you can make a contribution.

      I hope that's helpful.


      • Anne Kirstine Pi Halmind
        Jul 05, 2014 @ 05:19:22

        Hi Marsha

        Thank you so much for your advice. Discouraging? Yes. But only for a brief moment! I hadn't even thought about HR πŸ˜› I am still open to the possibility that there might not be an audience big enough for my topic, but I believe it's too early to call it quits.
        All your ideas were very helpful and motivating, thank you!
        (my name is so long, so people just call me Stine πŸ™‚

      • Marsha Stopa
        Jul 07, 2014 @ 14:36:52


        Small isn't necessarily bad. You can do well with a small audience as long as your expectations are set appropriately.

        I worked for a time for a company that was targeting the global automotive biz, so I have a small amount of experience in the topic. I think your research will show that there are a few corporate-type sites that provide some of this information as part of their expat services, and then there are some personal-type blogs written by individuals who have lived in the culture.

        Both can be useful. The corporate-type are targeted at the companies and their HR departments, and the personal-type (sometimes travel) blogs are more general and are more loosely targeted. I can't say how effective they are.

        Study what's out there, see if you can determine a need that's in demand and not being filled, and look at how you might be able to fill it. That's the best way to insure your success.



  28. Leah Black, MSW, LCSW
    Jun 30, 2014 @ 08:59:52

    Hi Marsha: I have just opened a private practice and have added a blog to my website to try to add value to my clients and visitors to my site. As a new blogger, I found this article VERY helpful. I would love it if you would take a look at by blog and give me any feedback you have. My goal is to have a rich resource focused on a variety of mental health and wellness topics that are relevant to current issues. Thanks so much!

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jul 03, 2014 @ 14:15:05

      Hi Leah,

      Your site is quite attractive and feels peaceful. Nice job on that.

      I see you're just starting to add content. So let me ask a perverse question: Why do you want to have all this content on your site?

      If you think it will help bring in clients because they've read an article on your blog, I think you'll be disappointed. It will take a long time (months and maybe years) and tons of traffic to build your site up high enough in the search engines for local clients to find you at the top of a keyword search.

      If it's to give your current clients resources to read, that may be useful. If they are comfortable going online to read. You may do better to write the article, print it out and hand it to them.

      If you want to establish the credibility of your practice for potential clients who check you out online, then having a handful of helpful articles, maybe a dozen, could make someone feel comfortable enough to call you. Beyond that, I think you're probably wasting time that could be put to better use.

      To build up your practice, you'll do better to find local speaking opportunities on broad interest topics. Tailor your topic to the group -- stress and guilt for a working women's group, for example.

      If you want to build up your online presence so you can build a separate online business, then you'd be better off writing guest posts on blogs where your potential clients hang out -- primarily personal development, health and perhaps parenting blogs. Then you link back to your blog in your guest post bio.

      Being crystal clear on your goals for a blog are key to success. I hope that's helpful.

      All the best,

  29. Rabbine
    Jun 27, 2014 @ 19:19:46

    My apologies. I didn't realize you replied until after I sent my message. It was in my junk mail.

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jul 03, 2014 @ 13:54:53

      No problem. I hate landing in junk mail! πŸ™‚

  30. Jacky
    Jun 27, 2014 @ 17:06:37

    Hi! I'm reading all your posts and I'm liking how is so honest and real tips for the beginners.
    My blog is PINK Empowerment, that is about woman's world, so the website have fashion, travel, design, all that interest modern woman!

    I'm very excited about the comments that I received and I really think that is a great blog and I'm in the right way, but I anyway, I don't have so many followers/ visitors πŸ™ Can you guys have some tips about how can I improve more?

    The Template is confusing or something like this?

    Tks for all! πŸ˜€


    • Marsha Stopa
      Jul 03, 2014 @ 13:54:05

      Hi Jacky,

      Congratulations on getting a running start. A few thoughts and observations:

      -Be more clear and specific about your target audience. "Modern woman" is broad and abstract. From a quick look at your blog, it looks like you're targeting young women 20-30. This is an important point. You're not going to talk to women 40+ in the same language as you talk to women 20-30 years old. You will alienate part of your audience if you try to be all things to all women. So pick, choose and speak their language about their specific interests.

      -Your site is very cluttered and visually hard to follow. A few suggestions:
      1. Make the body copy (text) of your blog posts flush left. Centering all the text forces your readers' eyes to jump around. Made me nervous very quickly.
      2. Find another way to incorporate the two languages. Having two language versions every paragraph adds to the visual confusion. I couldn't finish reading one post.
      3. Get rid of the black tags with white text in the middle of the blog. Visually divides the page and drops your reader's eye right to the bottom of the page, meaning the reader misses everything else.
      4. If you do all of that, you MIGHT be able to get away with all the different colors and fonts in the text, heads and subheads, all. Right now it adds to the visual confusion. If you insist on keeping the "grunge" style font, make it smaller so it doesn't break up the flow.

      Given all the photos you use on your site, make sure you are taking full advantage of Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. The goal would be to drive them to your site and get them to sign up for your email list so you can email them when new posts are published.

      I hope that's helpful.


  31. Rabbine
    Jun 26, 2014 @ 18:13:16

    Could you critique my freelance writer site?

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jun 27, 2014 @ 10:42:48


      I gave you a lengthy critique on your freelance writer site below on your first comment.

  32. Stacy
    Jun 24, 2014 @ 09:31:49

    In February I started Happy Fix. Happy Fix is a positive lifestyle company that helps people celebrate what's great in their lives. The blog is a reflection of my desire to give people Happy Fixes to help them reach their potential and not get bogged down in the rough patches of life.

    My audience is women (probably between the ages of 30-50) who are positive thinkers and who understand that a positive attitude can help them navigate through adversity.

    Through my blog, I'm trying to educate people on the fact that they have a lot more control over their circumstances than they think they do and to motivate them to affect positive changes in their lives. We are also trying to build the Happy Fix brand. Let me know what you think. I'm ready for the Tough Love! Thanks a bunch for taking time to look this over!

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jun 25, 2014 @ 18:08:21

      Hi Stacy,

      Congrats on your launch. Nice to see that you're "taking this to the people" and not just working online. Good for you.

      You have a good topic, but I would argue that the age range is too wide. The issues and worries of a 30 year old are far different from those of a 50 year old. Two different stages of life. If you write to one, you will alienate the other.

      You're missing a key ingredient and making a common mistake of new bloggers. The missing ingredient: empathy. You're not talking to your audience about their hopes and dreams, fears and frustrations. The common mistake: Believing that if you write about your own issues, people will see themselves in you.

      I challenge you to write your posts for the next month WITHOUT using the words "I" and "me." This will help: http://www.copyblogger.com/the-two-most-important-words-in-blogging/

      The most effective bloggers do tell stories about their life, but their emphasis is heavy on empathy, on how the reader feels. In any post, 80% should be about the reader and only 20% should be about you.

      I also challenge you to learn to write better headlines: http://headlinehacks.com

      Reading the posts at our blog, http://boostblogtraffic.com will give you a good education on how to write for an audience and motivate them.

      Also, your blog is hard to read. The font size is too small and the paragraphs are too long. Rule of thumb is 15 pt for body copy and no more than 4-5 lines of text in a paragraph. Yes, violates everything your English teacher told you.

      I hope that's helpful.


  33. Joycelyn
    Jun 21, 2014 @ 23:21:51

    Hi Marsha,
    I created the website/blogsite https://www.bigrivertradingco.com.au/ which shares information, idea's, advice and references concerning emergency preparedness....
    It is a large site with a lot of content which categorizes, informs and keeps people up-to-date with either man-made or natural disasters from around the world but mostly Australia as it is based in Australia for Australia but the information is general and is relevant to worldwide situations.
    The site offers solutions and alternatives to problems and frustrations as well as educating people about the many different aspects and types of disasters that may threaten you.
    I share stories on how people cope and offer useful and practical ideas on what they can do to help themselves as well as advertising relevant products and affiliate advertising.
    My frustration is increasing traffic to the site, I have written some articles myself to share on the site but have not yet written any guest posts for other sites.
    I would also like to encourage visitors to the site to keep returning, looking for more and new content as well as encouraging people to share the site to increase traffic.
    What are your thoughts?
    Many thanks

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jun 25, 2014 @ 17:32:31


      Honestly, I think you've set yourself up for disappointment. Why? Because emergency preparedness and disaster planning are not front-of-mind topics -- they are topics people don't want to think about unless forced to. So generating returning traffic will be extremely challenging.

      That said, if you shift your goal to becoming Australia's most consulted resource on emergency preparedness and disaster planning, I think you can craft a workable strategy.

      Think of the posts on your site as a "library" of reference articles. You want to give someone everything they need to know. Then it becomes easier to know what to write. Include checklists.

      In your situation, fear-based headlines will be your best friend. Get Headline Hacks at http://headlinehacks.com. If you don't tap into people's normal, but buried, fears of disaster, you won't get their attention.

      You can use the headline templates in Headline Hacks to craft headlines for guest posts. I'd focus on home, lifestyle and family websites and publications in Australia.

      I hope that's useful.


      • Joycelyn
        Jun 25, 2014 @ 17:43:56

        Thank you Marsha for your invaluable advice, just by getting you to have a look at my site and getting your opinion will help me to steer in the right direction...
        Many thanks

  34. Faigie
    Jun 21, 2014 @ 22:05:13

    I don't know if I'm too late to the game to get an answer but, just saw Jons call to write it.
    I have an an art blog to teach parents and teachers how to teach their kids art even if they arent creative. It's been a struggle. I have gotten about 16-18 guest posts done with the most sign ups about 30. I keep wondering if I write topics that are related to art like I did with one blog "Can you be your childs art therapist" and people come to my blog, maybe my topic is not really interesting to enough people. I basically post about the activities I've done with kids and I really have been starting to feel that I will never get anywhere with this topic. There is a very busy blog in my line called The artful parent but maybe she cornered the market? I have been trying to come at it through a professional educators point of view but, am feeling like Im never gonna get enough subscribers. From about 17 guest posts I have about 250 email sign ups so its quite disheartening...any ideas? Jons question hit home as I was thinking that it 'll never work in my niche...thanks somuch

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jun 25, 2014 @ 17:11:39


      No, you're not too late at all. πŸ™‚

      Wow. You win the prize for hardest-working blogger.

      Several comments and suggestions:
      -I think you've discovered the primary reason you're not getting very far -- not enough people are interested in the topic. It is a small niche. And unfortunately, by positioning yourself as an art educator (which you are), you've probably narrowed it even further. Your site looks like it's for teachers, not for parents or anyone else.
      -The reason The Artful Parent is doing well is because she's positioned herself as a parent first, which makes it easy for nearly everyone to feel comfortable with her. Plus, her blog is visually very attractive and easy on the eye. Your blog, I'm sorry to say, looks cluttered and difficult to get into.
      -The reason you've not gotten many email subscribers is because you've been writing for very tiny blogs in a small niche. The truth is you've probably done the best you could have done.

      Ok, now for the good news. πŸ™‚ And yes, there's quite a bit.
      -You have a great domain name -- eduart4kids.com. People know exactly what to expect.
      -You have the experience and skill in the subject.
      -You're a parent and grandparent. You get kids.
      -You have tons of ideas and topics.
      -You understand blogging and have built a network.

      My big suggestion is to flip around your entire approach and appeal to parents and what they want for their kids -- to be creative, have fun and learn something. I can hear you arguing that that is what you're doing. Well, sort of. You're making readers and visitors sort through your projects, wondering what the kids might like. Your blog doesn't make it easy. And blog readers demand EASY, or they're gone. Compare your categories of projects to the categories in The Artful Parent -- hers are much easier to navigate!

      To be honest, I think the big challenge for you is probably to stop thinking like an art educator with projects and start thinking like a parent who wants something neat and artsy for her kids to do that teaches them something. Seems like a small shift, but the two are miles apart.

      If you can make that shift, you can probably start guestblogging on some bigger niches in personal development and parenting. I'm guessing you know volumes about what happens in kids who become creative, how art and creativity help various disorders, how kids learn faster/perceive better after doing certain art projects, how family art projects bond families together, how community art projects benefit communities, and on and on... Get the idea? In order to do that, you're going to need to learn to write better headlines: http://headlinehacks.com

      Here are a few other examples of post headline ideas: (I'm making these up, but you get the idea.)
      25 Art Projects Under $10 That Will Keep Your Kids Busy All Summer
      12 Kids Art Projects From Your Sewing Room/Garage/Storeroom
      8 Summer Art Projects That Will Help Your Kids Get Better Grades This Fall

      In other words, start writing more about the real-life tangible benefits of kids doing art that people can relate to, and then send people to your site in your bio link to get the projects.

      Do that repositioning and redesign your site to be fresher and less cluttered, and I think you can build on the solid foundation you have and move forward. What I'm suggesting is a lot of work and will take time, but you've proven you have the persistence.

      Keep the faith,

      • Faigie
        Jul 06, 2014 @ 14:24:52

        Thank you so much.I can't believe how thorough your response was. I printed out your reply & have been reviewing it over & over. Makes me feel like taking jons course so I can get more detailed feedback even though I took Danny Innys & I know he's a student of Jon's . How different are the courses from each other if you know?

      • Marsha Stopa
        Jul 11, 2014 @ 10:31:18


        You're quite welcome.

        Danny has a couple of courses. Which one are you referring to?

  35. Rabbine
    Jun 21, 2014 @ 20:07:13

    Hi. I created a website using weebly.com for my freelance writing services. At the moment I am unable get my own hosting, so that is what I am using for now. Would you mind checking it out and give me your input? Also, I plan to create a blog about self confidence/self esteem my target would be women. (perhaps, personal development blog that discuss these issues and more... or too broad?)


    • Marsha Stopa
      Jun 25, 2014 @ 16:21:40

      Hi Rabbine,

      Good for you for getting started with the tools you have available.

      If you want to sell your services as a writer, then you have to tell the prospective client what benefits they will get by hiring you and not someone else. Which means, in harsh real-world terms, that they really don't care about how much you love writing or empowerment. They want the job done well at a price they can afford. (Sorry. I am known as the Queen of Tough Love in the GuestBlogging course.)

      If you haven't discovered Carol Tice yet, hope over to her blog at http://makealivingwriting.com. Carol is dedicated to helping freelance writers succeed and has the chops to do it. Plan on spending at least 10 hours studying the articles on her blog -- you'll find exactly what you need to do to set up a writer's site that works. Here's a start:




      Acting on Carol's guidance is the best advice I can give you.

      The personal development niche is huge, and topics within it about women and self esteem are popular. Showcasing your writing by blogging about this topic as a guest blogger on big personal development blogs is a great strategy.

      I suggest you study the niche first and find the 10 top personal development blogs. (Hint: Use Alltop.com.) Read the 10 most popular posts on each of those top blogs -- that's 100 posts to study and make notes about. Study especially the comments: What are people asking about? What do they say are their problems? What do they want to read more about?

      Then brainstorm how you can write a guest post for each of those 10 blogs based on your research. As a side benefit, you'll probably find it pretty easy to brainstorm a list of at least 50 posts for your own blog once you recognize the patterns and trends.

      Then you'll be equipped with a plan and a strategy based on what people really want to read about.

      Best of luck!

  36. Kersasp Nalladaru
    Jun 21, 2014 @ 09:20:51

    My blog is about tech tips and I am just getting started I have only 24 visitors in the last three days. I done my best to SEO optimize the posts but they don't show up in search engines. I am aiming to solve people's queries and difficulties with various internet issues they may have. Its true I am new to blogging, I am aiming to earn from my blogging career with Google adsense.

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jun 25, 2014 @ 16:03:42


      A few observations:

      -Your topic is too broad. "Tech tips" can cover a huge number of unrelated topics. How do you intend to help people? What's your special expertise? Who do you intend to help?
      -Congrats! Twenty-four visitors in three days to a new blog is not bad.
      -SEO doesn't work on new blogs. Showing up in searches is based on already having received traffic from quality sites that Google recognizes. Once Google thinks your blog has "proven itself" by attracting traffic from the right places, your blog will begin to appear in searches, but it can take a long time.
      -I suggest narrowing your topic to tips on a particular type of technology, such as PCs, Macs or smartphones; or for a particular audience, such as tech-challenged parents, for example.
      -Research the most popular topics on the large tech blogs and brainstorm how you can apply those ideas to your topic or audience.
      -Do several in-depth reviews of products your audience would use - pros and cons - and then ask other tech bloggers to share them.

      It takes a HUGE volume of traffic to make money from Adsense, literally tens of thousands of visitors. You may want to reconsider that strategy.

      I hope that's somewhat helpful.

      All the best,

  37. Zeynab
    Jun 21, 2014 @ 05:03:56

    Hi Marsha,
    I started my beauty blog just under a year ago because I love beauty and as a way to share views. However as there is a huge number of beauty blog I am finding kinda hard to grow my readership and stand out. My target audience is young females ( I think) and I would for my blog to grow. I think I am at that point where I feel like giving up because I don't know if it's worth it but I really enjoy working on my blog.
    Thank you so much !

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jun 25, 2014 @ 15:35:03

      Hi Zeynab,

      You've picked a competitive topic, but at quick glance, your blog is all over the place. I only saw two posts on beauty and a variety of other unrelated topics -- funny videos, job hunting depression, self improvement, gays, blogging. Already I'm confused.

      Besides not focusing on a topic, not knowing who your target audience is after a year is compounding your problem because you can't talk directly to an audience you don't know, and you can't know what they're really interested in reading.

      Because here's the ugly truth that new bloggers aren't told: A blog is not your diary. The first time you hit "Publish," your blog is now about your readers, not about you. Translation: If you want more readers, write what they want to read not what catches your attention at the moment.

      Jon's rule is "One blog, one topic." So pick a topic. If you can stay excited about it for at least two to three years (because that's how long it takes to build up a readership), the topic may have legs. You've got a year of blogging under your belt, so analyze your stats: What are the most popular posts? What are the most popular categories? Focus on those. Brainstorm 100 post ideas in those categories. Everything else probably belongs on Facebook.

      If you decide you really want to keep blogging and are serious about it, get off Blogspot and get a self-hosted WordPress blog. You'll take your blogging more seriously and readers will, too.

      Wish you the best on your journey.


  38. Joseph Hughes
    Jun 20, 2014 @ 15:18:00

    I read the blog and it seems like a chicken and egg scenario -- how can you get good bloggers to look at your work if they don't know the content but you need them to promote your work before they know how good you are. It seems like a big challenge.

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jun 20, 2014 @ 16:44:40


      You're right. It is a big challenge. That you overcome with guest posting.

      You go to them with an idea for a guest post that's perfectly suited to their audience because you've done your homework and studied what their audience is interested.

      You write them a great post. They publish it. Then they promote it.

      That's the essence of guest posting in a nutshell.

      Hope that's helpful.


  39. Sarah @ Pretty Simple Ideas
    Jun 18, 2014 @ 12:34:39

    Hi Marsha,

    Thank you so much for doing this for all of us. I'm VERY new to the whole blogging world and more than anything need some advice on how to jump-start it. I spent a lot of time taking all the photos and setting up how it would function but would love for you to take a look at it and offer more ideas.

    As for the blog, it's Pinterest meets Life Lessons. I'm a Christian so that will be a strong theme throughout. Ideally readers will be women between the ages of 20-30ish. My goals are to make it a forum women want to come back to to pick up simple ideas on making life easier...as well as growing their faith.

    Thank you!

    P.S. I also can take tough love. Anything to improve πŸ™‚


    • Marsha Stopa
      Jun 19, 2014 @ 14:20:29

      Hi Sarah,

      I think you need to clarify your focus: Who is this blog for? And what is your message?

      It's going to be hard to attract readers if it's not clear what you're doing and who you're doing it for.

      I say that because it's confusing for a first-time visitor (me) to see mud masks next to entrepreneurs. The central theme isn't readily apparent so I'm hesitant to keep reading. "Making life easier" is a pretty abstract concept. You need to be more concrete about what that means -- saving time, saving money, using fewer resources.

      What's the biggest pain or frustration that your ideal market has that your blog will help solve? Finding ways to spend more time with their family? Whatever it is, highlight the big benefit they will get by being a reader.

      Also, you might consider making your main column wider to avoid forcing people to scroll and scroll to see the next post.

      I hope that's helpful.


  40. Sonia Voldseth
    Jun 15, 2014 @ 16:44:38

    Jon and Marsha, Thank you so much! This is an amazing offer. Marsha, thank you so much for answering my question. I so appreciate your time on this. πŸ™‚ My blog is very new, but typical to my personality I fully expected it to go viral within the first week. I was most disappointed when in the first 2 weeks I only got 2 shares on Facebook (that's the only sharing tool I am using at the moment). I am a life coach, but my site is primarily a blog site. I love writing, and I have blogged and will continue to blog about my personal journey. It is very important to me to be real and to be vulnerable -- I am asking my clients to do that with the coaching, and I think it's important to provide that. Mostly though I want to share the lessons/understandings/gifts I've taken from my experience in my blogs - that's what I'm trying to do. I appreciate any help you can provide. I am loving learning about all of this. Thanks so much again for this opportunity. My site is http://www.revolutionarylifecoaching.co.nz

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jun 16, 2014 @ 16:35:48

      Hi Sonia,

      I can see from glancing at several of your heartfelt blog posts that you do love writing. So I preface my comments by saying that I am known in the GuestBlogging program as the "Queen of Tough Love." πŸ™‚

      You are poetically writing about very abstract concepts -- freedom, absence, guilt, lending ourselves. If you want a post to go viral or attract readers, you have to boil it down to the unsexy, specific, nitty gritty that people struggle with, such as, "How do I deal with my husband's lack of guilt over making me a football widow several times a week?" Right there you have freedom, absence and guilt. Concrete. Specific.

      There's nothing wrong with blogging about your personal journey. But unless you are an extremely gifted storyteller who can make readers feel like you are telling their story, not yours (empathy), you will be greeted by silence. That's the only way to capture a reader's long-term attention and help them see the world anew.

      I suggest you try writing several posts without using the words "I" and "me."
      Please read this post: http://www.copyblogger.com/the-two-most-important-words-in-blogging/

      Learning to write better headlines will make your posts more compelling: http://headlinehacks.com

      You may also want to take a look at my recent post on Boost Blog Traffic: http://boostblogtraffic.com/essential-writing-books/ I would suggest you read "Bird by Bird" and "Writing Down the Bones." Both writers are exceptional at helping the reader learn by writing their personal stories as if they were the reader's personal stories.

      You have a lot to contribute and I wish you well.


      • Sonia Voldseth
        Jun 16, 2014 @ 16:50:42

        Marsha, Thank you so much. I'm good with Tough Love. πŸ™‚ It's how we learn. It's such a tough balance being real and personal whilst connecting and empathizing and not preaching to people. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this (and for free!), the resources, the comments and advice. I so appreciate it. I look forward to continued reading, writing and learning! With gratitude, Sonia

  41. Cate Scolnik
    Jun 15, 2014 @ 04:17:27

    Hi Marsha,

    Thank you so much for the stirling job you're doing, giving everyone feedback! I’m a parenting coach. I help working parents help return to work strong and confident, create work-life balance, and raise positive, resilient children.

    I've been finding it hard to attract traffic, despite having guest blogging. Initially I did a couple of small-medium baby product sites, but I've also done two blogs on SheKnows and on Mouths of Mums (both have over 150k on FB). The two on Mouths of Mums provoked over 50 comments, but only a few visitors to my site.

    Any ideas you might have for me are gratefully received. Thanks.

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jun 16, 2014 @ 16:10:27

      Hi Cate,

      A few thoughts and suggestions:

      -You need more empathy. Tons more. Rather than starting off talking about the problem and how to fix it, empathize with their fears and frustrations, desires and goals as the opening of your posts. You need emotional hooks. They are missing from your writing, or lightly mentioned. Emotional hooks are what keep people reading into the how-to sections of your posts.

      -Bloggers in "service" professions, such as coaching, rarely realize that if they truly want to help people through their blog, then their blog is about their readers, not about them. Take a look at how many times you use the words "I" or "me" compared to how many times you use the word "you." Here's a resource: http://www.copyblogger.com/the-two-most-important-words-in-blogging/

      -Write more compelling headlines. http://headlinehacks.com

      -Forget "free updates." It doesn't work anymore because people are busy and "free update" doesn't tell them exactly what they're signing up for. Better to offer a free report that solves a very specific, common problem, such as (making this up), "12 Proven Ways to Keep Your Teenager Confiding in You." Take the most common problem you get asked about and turn it into a 10-20 page report and offer it for signing up.

      - I don't know what your bios at the end of your guest posts said. Next time try a bio that also offers a link, by the title, to a report or video such as the one I suggested above. Help them solve a common problem instantly and they'll click through and subscribe.

      -Get rid of the popup that takes over the entire page almost immediately after someone lands on your page. Annoying as hell. Give people time to read and browse, then trigger a smaller, less aggressive popup.

      You clearly have the knowledge and skills. You need to present it in a way more suitable for blog readers.

      Wishing you the best,


      • Cate Scolnik
        Jun 16, 2014 @ 18:41:23


        Thanks - you're a gem! That all makes sense, and I'll start empathizing and implementing right away.

        I've also enrolled in Jon's course, so I'm sure I'll learn heaps more along the way (and maybe see you around the virtual corridors).

        Thanks again. Your insights are really helpful.

  42. EVVIE
    Jun 10, 2014 @ 15:11:50

    Thank you so much for your generous offer.

    My blog is just in the "get-started' phase. First time ever & I would like tips on how I'm doing & where I'm going.

    The object is to help other scared newbies with step-by-step instructions and encouragement. My object is to become an affiliate marketer following these steps.
    Thank you,

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jun 16, 2014 @ 15:48:31


      Bravo for getting out there and being willing to help.

      Several thoughts and suggestions:
      -Study headline writing to attract readers: Sign up for Jon's free cheatsheat at http://headlinehacks.com

      -Don't give readers everything all at once in one post. Break your advice down into bite size chunks and explain each chunk clearly. Right now you are overwhelming readers with long detailed posts that try to cover everything about affiliate marketing.

      -Pay attention to post formatting. Use more subheads and break up the long blocks of gray text.

      -Study popular marketing blogs like Firepole Marketing and Duct Tape Marketing to get a real feel for how they write posts, attract and keep readers.

      I hope that helps you take next step.


  43. Karen Brodie
    Jun 10, 2014 @ 10:59:59

    Hi Marsha, I have not launched my blog yet, but it is targeted to people who have suffered serious emotional trauma, such as PTSD from serving in the military or a bad car accident. A lot of what I suggest also works for people who just can't get past something that has happened to them (like a bad break up or divorce, for instance) that doesn't rise to the level of "trauma" in most people's minds. I am not sure how wide or narrow I should make the niche. I have a lot to say to everyone lol! I would appreciate any help. Also, I own the domain http://www.emotionaltraumarecovery.com but I'm not sure if that is too narrow. Thanks in advance!

    • Ed
      Jun 10, 2014 @ 12:34:11

      I think that's a wonderful topic and I would gladly guest post to it when you have it up and running. The link did not go anywhere but please take a look at my work at abundancemeister.com. I recently wrote a post about how to be happy even when you are depressed.... My personal opinion is that your topic is not too narrow, there are many people that suffer from mental dysfunction and they think there is something wrong with them. They need a legitimate and reliable source of comfort and guidance. And furthermore, they don't want the stigma attached to seeking professional help....


      • Karen Brodie
        Jun 10, 2014 @ 12:36:53

        Thanks for your comments, Ed. As I said in my original comment, I have not launched the blog yet. I just own the domain. Good to know that you would be willing to guest post - I'll keep it in mind!

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jun 16, 2014 @ 15:39:31

      Hi Karen,

      Excellent questions to be asking now.

      I suggest you flip your approach and focus more broadly into how to get past the "bad things" in life that don't rise to the level of trauma in most people's minds, with occasional guest posts into how to recover from PTSD or a bad accident. I say this for a couple reasons:

      -Your blog won't be immediately associated in a visitor's mind with the "stigma" of a severe trauma, but will focus on what everyone deals with at some point or knows someone who is dealing with it (giving you a broader audience.)

      -You will still be able to write posts, or a guide, or an ebook on the more severe trauma recovery as part of your blog and gain some SEO benefit. (I would keep that domain for a specific info product, rather than as your primary domain. Same reason as above.)

      -You'll have an easier time guest posting on personal development and health blogs on the broader topic than the narrower one.

      -Even if someone who is struggling with the more severe trauma, but isn't acknowledging it yet, finds your blog they will benefit from your help.

      -Unless you've done extensive research that shows that people suffering from severe trauma are reading blogs, you would likely get frustrated targeting a small niche that may not be reading blogs. You'll be more successful overall by focusing on the broader topic and reaching that small niche by word of mouth.

      I hope that helps your decision making.

      Best to you,

      • Karen Brodie
        Jun 16, 2014 @ 15:50:43

        Hi Marsha,

        Thank you SO much! Everything you say makes perfect sense. I really appreciate the help.

        All the best,


  44. 2nerdy
    Jun 10, 2014 @ 10:01:14

    Hi there. My blog is about gaming (console, PC, mobile etc) and i have been stuck doing it myself for some time now. I'm finding it difficult to do everything on my own with studying going on and I don't know how to get help. I do not get comments even though I have had people say they are good posts. Where am i going wrong?

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jun 16, 2014 @ 15:28:47

      Hi 2nerdy,

      I'm not that familiar with the gaming niche, so I'll preface my questions and comments with that caveat.

      Where are people telling you your posts are good? On a social media platform? That may be where your readers are more comfortable interacting. Much of the reaction to blogs has shifted to social media as it has gained popularity.

      And, a more basic question, why do you feel you should be getting comments? Are there lots of comments on other gaming blogs? Or, is all the activity for those blogs on Facebook, Twitter or Goggle +? Do some research to determine where your target audience hangs out, and spend time there being helpful, periodically dropping a link to your blog.

      I took a quick look at your blog and I have a couple comments:
      -Your posts are primarily opinion and reviews, which don't engage the reader very much. I suggest trying some list posts that are great resources for your readers, such as "The 10 Best..." or "The 10 Worst..." You may not get many comments but will boost your social sharing. A resource: http://boostblogtraffic.com/more-comments/

      -The font size of the post body copy is much too small. Make it larger and easier to read, because coupled with

      -All the ads cluttering your blog, it's tough to navigate your site.

      I hope this is helpful.

  45. Lisa
    Jun 08, 2014 @ 13:13:40

    Thank you for this wonderful, inspirational post. I was feeling a bit unmotivated about my design blog. I absolutely agree that making some connections is important and will get to work. Thanks again!

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jun 16, 2014 @ 15:03:07

      Great! Go for it.

  46. Wilhemina
    Jun 08, 2014 @ 00:24:14

    Hi! I've been following your blog for a while
    now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and
    give you a shout out from New Caney Tx! Just wanted to mention keep up the fantastic job!

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jun 16, 2014 @ 15:02:26

      Thanks, Wilhemina.

  47. VΓ­tor
    Jun 07, 2014 @ 23:57:17

    Hi Marsha!

    I've Started a blog (ain't published yet) about personal finnances (a plain talk about something that almost always seems to be complicated) whilling to help people have better financial results in life (the basics). Wonder if the audience is to broad or narrow? How would be the best and how to to that approach to other high-level bloggers?

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jun 16, 2014 @ 15:01:41


      It's a good topic and popular. I don't know that you need to narrow or broaden the audience as much as you need to focus your angle, and that may just be some word-smithing:

      Plain Money Talk
      Plain Money Talk for Real People
      Plain Money Talk: Real Results for Everyday People

      Now weave that into the mission of your blog, and use that when you approach high-level bloggers: "My mission is to help [audience] achieve [goal.}

      Best of luck to you!

      • Vitor A. Pereira
        Jun 16, 2014 @ 21:24:38

        Awesome Marsha! Thank you very much!

        Really appreciated your help! I'll follow what you've said. Hope to bring good news to you! See ya!

  48. Kim
    Jun 06, 2014 @ 20:56:13

    Hi Marsha,

    I'm starting a blog, Educate to Blossom, with tips, advice and encouragement for homeschooling families. I haven't posted yet, just a "coming soon" page.

    After reading through your comments, I wonder if the target audience is too narrow? There's definitely a homeschooling blog community I'm working to connect with, but now I wonder if I shouldn't cast the net wider.

    As an alternative I've considered holistic parenting/family life, which could include topics ranging from healthy eating habits, gentle discipline, family finance, and alternative education. That may be too broad, I'm not quite sure.

    I appreciate any advice.


    • Marsha Stopa
      Jun 16, 2014 @ 14:46:31

      Hi Kim,

      Bravo for you! You've done several things right already:
      -A coming soon page before you actually start to post blog posts
      -Questioning your target market
      -Broadening the possible topics

      You are correct: the homeschooling audience that actually reads blogs is quite small.

      And you are correct: Your topic could potentially be much broader.

      The topic of "holistic family" or "holistic parenting" is becoming more popular right now. I think you could do pretty well with a two-fold approach:

      -Guest post on the broader topics you mentioned for holistic family or parenting. That will allow you to guest post for parenting blogs, personal development and spirituality blogs, personal finance blogs, maybe even food and cooking blogs.

      -Post about your home-schooling adventures on your own blog, with a mix of the other topics so that readers of your guest posts who come to your blog won't feel like they landed in a strange place if they come to visit.

      As with everything, testing will reveal the truth. Compare your results after guest posting on the various types of blogs I mentioned. See how many visitors you get and how many email sign ups. Over time you'll discover where your readers hang out online.

      All the best,

  49. Kayleigh
    Jun 03, 2014 @ 04:14:25

    Hey thanks for the blog post it really helps a lot. I'm a fifteen year old from Ireland and I set up my blog 6 months ago. On my blog, I discuss beauty and general things about my life. I've only done 20 blogposts but so far I've seen NO results. I don't have any followers and no one has left a comment. I really enjoy blogging but I don't understand why nobody seems to like it. I will admit I'm new to blogging and I don't really know what I'm doing so my blog probably does look a little all over the place. At first I thought people weren't following because I hadn't added the widgit that allowed them to. After lots of googling, I'm pretty sure the option is now available. Please help. I would really appreciate any feedback you could give me. Thank you.

    • Simon
      Jun 03, 2014 @ 09:10:42

      Hi, Simon here, also Dublin, Ireland based blog [https://sarahpaddleswim.wordpress.com ]
      are you on twitter or facebook too? How are you letting people know about new posts? Do you send out a message to any outlets like twitter, facebook, or something else? Reddit is really good too - try and find the right group for your content.

      Have you joined the Irish bloggers group on facebook?

      Overall part of blogging is writing it, but part of it is also letting people know you have written it.

      If it's of any help I wrote an article about how to have more views on your blog, and how to write better posts.


      Hope that's of some help.

      You're welcome to email or tweet me if you have any questions.

      Cheers Simon

    • Ed
      Jun 03, 2014 @ 11:27:54

      Google Jon Morrow and look for his "headline hacks" free download, it helped my writing a lot!!! Gives you a great outline for your post and gives a whole bunch of ideas of what to write about.... If your headline doesn't grab attention, the post could be awesome but it doesn't have a chance to be read by anyone...


    • Marsha Stopa
      Jun 06, 2014 @ 12:11:28

      Hi Kayleigh,

      Simon and Ed's hints might be helpful, but you're making an assumption that most novice bloggers make -- that people will be interested in reading a personal diary blog about your life, what I call a "selfie blog." If you're a famous celebrity, then they'll be interested in the details of your life. If you're not famous, they won't be, I'm sorry to tell you.

      To gain a lot of readers you need to write something about what the readers are interested in, not solely about your interests or activities. Beauty is a tough sell because you have strong competition from major media.

      You might want to do some Google searches on topics you're interested in and see how popular are. If you find a topic you think you'd like to write about for a couple years, you might want to shift at this point.

      Sorry to disappoint you, but I want to be honest.

      All the best,

  50. Philip
    Jun 01, 2014 @ 19:16:43

    Howdy are using WordPress for your blog platform?
    I'm new to the blog world but I'm trying to get started and create my own. Do you need any html coding knowledge to make your own blog?
    Any help would be really appreciated!

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jun 06, 2014 @ 12:23:39


      Yes, everything we do is on WordPress at this point. It's very adaptable.

      No, you really don't need to know any HTML to get started if you use a premium WordPress theme from one of the premium theme sites, such as ElegantThemes.com or WooThemes.com.

      A key point: Premium themes cost a little money, but the above companies do have excellent support desks to help beginners, which is super important to have.

      Hope that's helpful.

  51. inmanah oluseyi
    May 31, 2014 @ 18:05:06

    Hey thanks for this post.
    Am from Nigeria and my blog is about mobile tech and my readers are mostly from reddit and from the US (yikes). thats whenever am able to post link to their site tho, thats when i get my most traffic which is still incredibly low compared to most bloggers.
    I have decided to start guest blogging as a way to improve my traffic or start working for a blog with high traffic. my blog is just a couple of months old. What do i do?

    • Simon
      Jun 01, 2014 @ 04:59:28

      What's your blog? - would be interested in having a look.

      We're based in Dublin, and trying to learn more about the Nigerian tech scene as research for a management information system we have for schools, and possible overseas locations for it.

      Best of luck with it, and look forward to seeing your blog.



    • Marsha Stopa
      Jun 16, 2014 @ 14:36:37

      Hi Inmanah,

      Study the top blogs or sites on your topic, especially the most popular posts and the comments. What did the posts not cover well? Are there gaps? What information can you contribute? Make a list.

      Then approach the blog with a pitch and offer to write a guest post that answers Question A and B for their readers. Be sure to reference the post on their blog that gave you the idea. Make it low pressure, low sell.

      Do this for each popular blog in your niche. Once you get the first guest post, you'll be in a better position to approach them about a second one, using the same method to show the topic you're proposing is a topic the blog's readers are asking about.

      Good luck!

  52. Karen jones
    May 31, 2014 @ 10:15:47

    Thank you for writing such helpful articles.
    My blog is new. It's about my paintings, my travels in my Airstream and cooking great food. My audience is people and customers who want more from me than just my Facebook posts. My objective is to build my fan club resulting in more art sales. The Airstream and the cooking are included to add more interesting qualities to my character.

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jun 12, 2014 @ 16:21:13

      Hi Karen,

      You have great ingredients for a potentially successful blog. It just depends on how you blend them. πŸ™‚

      People who are not artists are typically fascinated by how artists create art. Writing about your travels and how it inspires or informs your art, your thinking and process, could work.

      To be honest, writing frequently about Basquiat might not get you very far except in a pretty art-aware audience. I know who Basquiat is, and why he's significant, but I'm also a painter. He has little or no relevance to the average person's life.

      Writing entertaining stories about life and adventures on the road in an Airstream (while you make art) will probably add more interest to your character than writing about cooking, to be honest.

      I also encourage you to get on a professional blogging platform, like WordPress, rather than a free platform.

      I hope that's helpful. Happy trails!


  53. Ed
    May 27, 2014 @ 10:40:56

    Hi Jon,
    I would like to thank you for your great advice and would love to know your thoughts about how to get focused on one topic. I have three that I want to write about and there's the daily living stuff I write about, I feel like I am a little all over the place. I am writing more headlines as per your hack guide, but what tips can you offer to narrow down my focus??? Thanks,


    • Marsha Stopa
      Jun 12, 2014 @ 16:08:39


      It depends on your goals for writing. Readers? To make money from your blog eventually? To help people?

      Because the truth that few bloggers want to hear is that if you're publishing a public blog, your blog is about your readers, not about you. So you should write about what your readers want to know about your topic.

      Do some heavy research on your topics. Google the topics, the keywords and find the blogs out there. Which topic is most popular? Which blogs are most popular and large? Which topic are people -- thousands or millions of people -- excited about?

      If you truly want readers, pick the most popular topic that gets you the most excited and will sustain your interest for at least three years. That way, you have a decent start of making an impact.

      I hope that's helpful.

  54. Eva
    May 27, 2014 @ 08:31:46

    For a month now I am definitely at this point... Working on other projects I feel like I hit the ceiling and maybe should move, but somehow don't want the two years of work behind. Have a look a and leave a note... Thanks for you points.


    • Marsha Stopa
      Jun 12, 2014 @ 16:01:11


      Whether you should move on depends on your goals. As a wise man once said: "What works, works. What doesn't work, doesn't work. And working harder at doesn't work, doesn't make it work."

      If you want a blog that will be taken seriously, you have to get off Blogger, I'm sorry to say. For lots of reasons: http://boostblogtraffic.com/wordpress-hosting/

      If you want to keep your work on Blogger, there are ways to migrate it to WordPress. Google it.

      Wish you all the best,

  55. Gisele
    May 25, 2014 @ 17:42:39

    Jon -- You're awesome! Don't have a blog - yet! - so not asking for advice.

    But I don't need a blog to tip my hat to you for giving back to others the way others have given to you.

    It's a quality that I live by, and appreciate in others, and so in you.

    I'm learning lots from your posts and irreverance, and am so excited about what I've started cooking up.

    Looking forward to reading (and learning) more.


    • Gisele
      May 25, 2014 @ 17:45:56

      Marsha -- Just catching up that you've been doing a lot of the follow up. So it's only appropriate to extend a great big thanks to you too. πŸ™‚


      • Marsha Stopa
        Jun 12, 2014 @ 15:52:14

        Thanks, Gisele.

        Let us know when you need some help.


  56. Simon
    May 24, 2014 @ 12:14:09

    Thanks for the article, found it interesting and several things to think about.

    I know my own site is a bit of a mess in terms of structure, and divided in terms of content - some on tech, some on nature / travel. But any comments still welcome.

    Thanks S

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jun 12, 2014 @ 15:50:08

      Hi Simon,

      Yeah. You said it. Your site is all over the place right now. πŸ™‚

      I hate to be the one to tell you, but you need to make some decisions. Why exactly are you blogging? Who exactly is your audience?

      Blogging, mandelas, gardens and growth hackers. I'm confused.

      "Tech vs nature" could be interesting, but it's too abstract a concept. How exactly will your reader benefit from reading your blog? What will you help him understand? Be clear and specific.

      Jon's rule is "One blog, one topic."

      Pick the topic you are most excited about and can write about for three years. Brainstorm a list of at least 100 ideas on it. Figure out who will be interested in it and how you can help or inform them. Refocus the blog around it.

      Post everything else you really really want to write about on Facebook or in a Google+ group on that topic.

      Your writing urges are satisfied and your readers are not confused. πŸ™‚

      Hope that helps.


  57. Cate Holst
    May 22, 2014 @ 15:17:21

    Hi Marsha,

    I would be very grateful if you could run an eye over my diy crafting and cooking blog. I seem to have hit a wall with regards to visitors and would greatly value your feedback. I've been blogging since 2008 (albeit inconsistently) and can't seem to break through 1000 page views a day. Thank you!

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jun 11, 2014 @ 17:27:18

      Hi Cate,

      Gorgeous blog!

      Couple suggestions:
      Study your most popular posts and the comments. Exactly who are your visitors? Can you describe your typical reader? Male or female? Age? Married or not? Income? All the usual demographics, plus what topics they resonated with the most.

      Do two things:
      Look for subtle ways to tweak your site and branding so you speak directly to the kind of visitors you want. You don't have a tagline, it lists the topic categories under the blog name. State boldly what you do and who you do it for. Moms? Families? With style? With sass?

      You're not appealing to anyone directly right now. Don't be afraid to do it -- it will help you break the glass ceiling.

      Then brainstorm at least 50 ways to do more of your most popular posts and topics. Give them what they enjoy.

      Next and most important, where's your email list sign up? I don't see any email sign up forms. Huge huge mistake. People who subscribe to your list are literally raising their hands and saying, "Tell me more!" Get an email sign up form in the top right of every page, at the bottom of every post and in the sidebar.

      Offer a freebie for signing up -- such as a recipe collection. Something popular. Then email them every time you publish a post and ask them to share and provide the links.

      You have a great foundation here. Build on it.


  58. Daryl
    May 22, 2014 @ 10:39:17

    Hi! First off I have to commend you for personally responding to 2500+ comments....that is crazy!

    I started off casually blogging about three years ago, as an eighteen year old that had just moved to the foreign country. I think the novelty of the expat teenager who up and married a foreigner attracted people from the start, because things grew pretty quickly. I didn't focus on amazing content but just sort of threw pictures up of where I was traveling to and people seemed to respond to it.

    Then I moved back to the states and got a full time job, and traveling + blogging both slowed significantly, as did my traffic and reader interaction. I "gave up" on blogging handfuls of times, going a month or so in between posts. "learned helplessness" is a good term!

    Now I am working from home with way more time on my hands and I want to revitalize my blog, but things still feel so dead! I feel like the content is way better now, although regular posting has only started up again as of recently.

    The blog is ultimately a lifestyle blog meant for 20something women, but it's food and travel based.

    Any tips for jumpstarting it back to life?

    landing page: http://stayunlost.com
    direct to blog: http://blog.stayunlost.com

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jun 20, 2014 @ 17:37:24


      You have some great pictures and good content, but to be honest, your content seems all over the place. Food, travel, fashion, personal development, photography, blogging. It's confusing.

      Because if a 20something reader is ONLY interested in food or travel or fashion, she's going to be turned off by the other topics. So you risk alienating your audience by not focusing.

      Unfortunately, you're making the same mistake most new bloggers make, which is assuming that your audience is always interested in everything you are interested in. They're not.

      I suggest you analyze your posts to see what are most popular and successful, and choose which of the popular topics can sustain your interest for the long term. Try brainstorming a list of 100 post ideas to see if you really can get into those topics.

      Maybe my confusion about the content being all over the place comes from the formatting or layout. Scrolling down on a first visit, I saw all those topics, so I wasn't sure what the blog was really all about. It seemed different than your tagline.

      You might try reorganizing with a different layout so that the posts within each topic are clearly defined, such as with a theme like Lucid, http://www.elegantthemes.com/demo/?theme=Lucid. That would give your blog more of a magazine look and better organization. You have a lot of great experiences to share that could be better showcased.

      I hope that's helpful. And sorry for the delay -- your comment was held for approval, probably because of the two links.

      All the best,

  59. Travis Peters
    May 21, 2014 @ 10:21:25

    Thank you so much for all your work, and big thanks for doing this.
    My blog is about how to take control of your finances, your time, and go to the next level in life. All backed up with Biblical principles and scriptures.

    My readers are mainly Christians, literally of all ages, both male and female. It probably leans toward males under 35 who are interested in learning how to get their finances under control and then increasing them.

    I plan to give people hope, encouragement, and a tangible action plan to get out of debt and get ahead financially. I want to show them anyone can do this and how to do this, and that God's way of handling finances always works.
    I have done this on a very small scale, but want to reach more people. Thank you so much.

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jun 11, 2014 @ 17:12:46


      Nice looking blog.

      You have three potential niches in which you could look for guest posting opportunities: personal finance, personal development (includes spirituality) and other Christian blogs.

      The pros and cons:
      Personal finance: Huge niche, large readerships. Probably have to neutralize the Christian focus of your writing more than you may prefer, but you can mention you are a Christian blogger in your bio. Those that resonate with you will follow you.

      Personal development: Largest niche online. Will have to modify your topic somewhat to be more broad and tie in personal finance. Some blogs are more spiritually focused than others. But again, even if your writing isn't as obviously faith-based as you prefer, you can say you are a Christian blogger in your bio.

      Christian blogs: Small niche, small readership. Will likely be open to your message, IF they accept guest posts, but you will see far fewer readers or subscribers for your effort.

      Find the top 3-5 blogs in each niche and study the 10 most popular posts on each blog, especially the comments. You'll learn what they want to read more about and how you can structure a topic to fit.

      Best of luck,

  60. Mary Young
    May 20, 2014 @ 08:43:44

    I am a therapist (Ph.D.) and a personal coach (BCC). That means I am a collector, interpreter, and generator of stories. I began my blog as an adjunct service for my clients to promote support, inspiration and encouragement. I realized that I was writing things applicable to a larger audience and wanted to make available information that encourages people to move toward their best life, in a sometimes dark world. However, they are not simply feel good messages, but rather promote self reflection to help the reader achieve growth. But like everyone else, I don't know how to reach the audience.

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jun 11, 2014 @ 16:54:18

      Hi Mary,

      Sorry for the delay in responding. Please know I'm known for my tough love answers. πŸ™‚ A few things that I hope will help you:

      First, I scanned through the major sections of your site, and you are committing the same errors that do most therapists -- you are focused on the process and showing that the process works.

      The problem is that readers don't care about process. They want results. They search Google for results and solutions. They generally don't care what process gets them there. Processes are abstract. Results are clear and specific. Not blaming you. It's a function of your training.

      For instance, you say you want to "promote self reflection to help the reader achieve growth." Those are two very abstract concepts to most people -- self reflection and growth. They know both things are probably good for them and they should do them, but they don't understand exactly how it will help them solve their problem right now. You need to rephrase it in concrete terms in their language: "I help people use solitude to manage their feelings." See the difference?

      Blogging and reaching an audience is fundamentally about marketing, which focuses in on offering people the benefits/solutions/results they want. That means that you have to write to people directly, with empathy, about where they are at now, how badly they want to stop feeling miserable and how they can find the answer, in concrete terms they will immediately understand.

      Right now your home page is essentially an about page. It's about you and your process. It doesn't tell the reader who you help and how you help them. When people land on a site, you have about 7 seconds (some say less) to tell people what you do and who you do it for. If they don't feel like their site is about them and their needs and that you have the answers or solutions they are looking for, they're gone. They won't take the time to read what you have to say. So you need to get specific about who you help and how, even at the risk of excluding someone. "I help [blank] achieve [blank.]"

      Also, the font size on your site is too small and hard to read. And, white text on a colored background is generally frowned upon as too hard to read also.

      You need to clearly define your audience. You mention "clients" and "people" and "reader." You need to be specific: Married couples with problems? Engaged couples with problems? Women suffering from depression? As you well know, you will approach each of these individuals differently and your language and questions will be different.

      The problem with trying to generically appeal to everyone having a problem is that your approach and language won't land well with everyone. Or, they'll feel you really don't understand. So you risk turning off more people than you attract.

      I suggest studying some of the posts on TinyBuddha.com. They start with a quote and personal story, then weave in the life lessons the writer learned. It's a very successful approach.

      Read the most popular posts on other personal development blogs like Finer Minds and Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life. You can get a good sense of what people respond to by the number of comments and amount of social sharing.

      You are performing a valuable service and can help many people. Your writing is good. You just need to present your message in ways that is more attuned to busy blog readers. Get a good feel for that and you can begin guest posting on some of these personal development blogs to find your audience.

      That was a very very long response but I didn't want to blow off your thoughtful, heartfelt questions. I hope you find some of it useful.


  61. Timothy Barber
    May 20, 2014 @ 08:09:50

    My name is Tim Barber and I blog about game design and development, gamification and productivity at http://www.omdynamic.com.
    My readers (the few I have) are improvement-minded games enthusiasts. I know there are a lot of them, but I'm just having trouble reaching them.
    As I am confident in my expertise, I would like to build I would like to build some clout in my industry, and eventually have an installed base of fans for my books, games, and courses.

    Thank you dearly. This is amazing!

    • Marsha Stopa
      Jun 11, 2014 @ 15:36:49


      Your home page is awkwardly set up. I see small text centered in a wide screen, with a lot of boxes to scroll through to get to the content, which is at the bottom. I suggest flipping everything at putting the content at the top. You're making readers work too hard and scroll through too much to get to what they want to read. Also, the font in your logo is so stylized I can't read the actual word and the tagline is tiny.

      Make everything more user-friendly for someone who has never been on the site

      I'm guessing there are probably industry-specific forums, social networking sites, G+ circles and Facebook groups for your niche. Find them, join and become uber helpful. Answer questions, offer help, connect people. Only mention something about your site or something you are offering maybe once in 10 comments.

      It will take time. After you've been hanging out with these folks for awhile and you know what they'd LOVE to have, create it for them. Offer a trial to solicit their feedback. If they give you feedback, give it to them free. Build goodwill every way you can.

      Make yourself the go-to guy and people will come to you. Be patient.


  62. Sean McMahon
    May 19, 2014 @ 21:17:33

    I've surpassed a year of sports blogging (NFL, 49ers) and have hit that imaginary wall. Any help would be great. I have 3,000 personal photos, original content, decent web design (or so I believe) and a passion for everything 49ers. Regardless, I am not taken serioulsy in the industry and I have reached a point where I will have to end my dream just to put food on my table. Thank you for your knowledge in advance, regardless of how critical it is πŸ™‚

    • Marsha Stopa
      May 20, 2014 @ 17:46:59

      Hi Sean,

      Your site is attractive and seems to be comprehensive.

      A few thoughts on what's holding you back:
      -Fans are used to this information being essentially free. The NFL is, after all, major media entertainment.
      -You probably won't be taken seriously by the industry when they have major sports media --with hundreds of thousands of viewers and readers -- following their every move.
      -This will sound counter-intuitive, but your target market -- 49er fans -- is too small. You need to be able to target a market that contains millions of people to make decent money from a blog.

      I've just scanned the top posts on your blog, and they seem to be information/news based. If you were more of a sports commentator, especially if you were controversial and opinionated, you would likely have more opportunity to bond with your readers. Love or hate you, they'd feel they needed to read what you had to say about things.

      With this current format and market, I hate to tell you, but the chances are good you've taken it as far as it can go.

      I hope that's somewhat helpful, if not encouraging.


      • Sean McMahon
        May 22, 2014 @ 01:45:11

        Thank you so very much Marsha for your thoughtful and realistic response. I've come to the realization that this is "my pet" and I'm currently working on a new project that will hopefully takeoff. Thanks again !

  63. Rachel Norman
    May 16, 2014 @ 16:41:32

    I am a parenting visionary and write things relating to parenting and motherhood. I want to get in front of more faces and write guest posts but it seems like the bigger bloggers in my niche that I know of don't regularly have guest posts? Not sure where to start!

    • Marsha Stopa
      May 20, 2014 @ 15:18:14


      You've done a lot of blogging. Congrats.

      It's true. Parenting bloggers as a whole are not that guest-post friendly. I'm not sure why, but it seems to be a very insular group. The key is to think out of the parenting box, which is one of the very first lessons we teach in the GuestBlogging course.

      That means you need to draw up a list of related topics to parenting -- personal finance, food, travel, for example -- and find blogs that accept guest posts on those topics. Study those blogs for popular topics among that audience, especially the comments on those posts. Ask yourself how you can write a post that answers those questions and furthers the discussion. Then pitch the post.

      It takes time and research, but you can find those blogs. The key is adapting your topic to fit their blog audience, not looking for blogs that fit your style.

      Good luck.

  64. Lorraine Reguly
    May 08, 2014 @ 22:44:24

    Hi. My name is Lorraine and I am a writer, an editor, a freelancer, and a teacher. I'm also going to be a self-published author soon!
    (I'm releasing a book of short stories this month. "Risky Issues" can be read by almost anyone, but are stories geared toward teens.)

    My site is called Wording Well. It can be found at http://wordingwell.com/ and my question is this: What is the best advice you can give me for promoting my freelance writing and editing services?

    • Marsha Stopa
      May 09, 2014 @ 09:34:27


      You've been hanging around with us for awhile, so I would guess you already know the answer: guest post.

      Get your writing out in front of large audiences on big blogs and link to your "hire me" page and an email opt in page in your guest post bio.

      If you're not a regular reader of Carol Tice's blog at http://makealivingwriting.com, you should be.

      Best of luck,

      • Lorraine Reguly
        May 09, 2014 @ 19:31:35


        I've been reading Carol's blog for a long time, and even guest posted for $50 once for her. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the advice, though!

        I've guest posted over a dozen times but haven't done much of it lately. I think I was targeting the "wrong" sites. Recently I just sold a blog post for $100 on a freelance site, so I think I'm starting to make headway.

        What types of sites should I be seeking out?

      • Marsha Stopa
        May 20, 2014 @ 15:01:28


        Congrats on the payday! That's terrific.

        The sites you target depend on the audience you want to see your writing. Try to target sites where potential clients would be reading.

        What's your area of expertise? If it's health, for example, then you probably want to guest post on health-related sites, or at least be writing on health-related topics.

        I suggest going back and looking at your guest posts. Which ones did well? How can you repeat that success? Same blog? Similar topic? Similar audience?

        One of the secrets to guest posting is to find a handful of blogs that have the audience you want and work your way into writing for them on a regular basis, such as monthly. The audience gets to know you -- and love you -- over time. And when they need a writer, they think of you.

        There are a few ways to crack this egg depending on your expertise and goals.

        Hope that helps.

  65. Jessica
    May 08, 2014 @ 20:38:05

    Hi there, I am a journalist and writer about to rebrand and launch a blog as part of that. The purpose of my blog will be to show others how to write like a pro - unleashing their inner writer within and ultimately offering them content in this regard via the blog and courses which they will be able to sign up to in order to learn how to be a feature writer / pitch to a magazine etc etc. Should the blog have its own page and name (createinspireinfluence.com or writingrevolution.com) or can it be part of my professional website which is my name? Not sure how to get the blog really motoring from the get-go. Any advice warmly received.

    • Marsha Stopa
      May 09, 2014 @ 09:39:47


      It doesn't really matter that much. What is most important is that you don't confuse your readers.

      I know there is a school of thought that says you should brand your own name and keep everything you do under that umbrella. Jon doesn't agree with that simply because until you're a well known celebrity, people won't be searching for your name.

      They will more likely be searching for terms related to what you are doing, which is why having a domain name that says what you do will allow you to be found more easily.

      That's why writingrevolution.com is a better choice for the blog.

      Hope that helps.


  66. Hope Nwosu
    May 06, 2014 @ 12:38:59

    I thank you for this great opportunity.

    I have a new creative writing blog which is the first step in my activism. Using my experience and that of others, I write about the plight of the marginalized African woman in form of interesting stories. And the need for all to stand up against racism/discrimination of any kind.

    This blog is aimed at readers all over the world who believe in the uniqueness of every human being. I also write fictions which can be enjoyed by everyone, anywhere, and motivations on how to succeed in spite of all odds.

    My greatest challenge is how to get people to read the contents which I believe will be invaluable. I have seen very few responses in the past weeks but I wish there could be more, giving the content.

    Your advice/help will greatly appreciated.

    • Marsha Stopa
      May 08, 2014 @ 16:40:26

      Hello Hope,

      Yes, you have identified your greatest challenge.

      First, although you've identified your audience with a broad brush, the harsh reality is that the audience for your activism will be much smaller. I'm not saying that this is not a worthy cause. It's the nature of the blogosphere.

      Secondly, combining activism with fiction is a tough sell. You risk alienating the part of the audience that isn't interested with each post or story.

      Perhaps your biggest challenge is that your topic doesn't fit within the "popular" mainstream blog niches at the moment, a few of which are personal development, personal finance, gadgets/tech and parenting.

      That said, "Stories Without Border(s)" is an excellent blog name. Inspiration is a popular topic on personal development blogs. I suggest you reorganize your blog topics under the name "Inspiring Stories Without Borders." That allows you to include more current news, activist posts and fiction stories.

      If you can write from the personal development angle, for example, "5 Life Lessons You Can Learn From Religious Terrorism in Nigeria," you might be able to guest post on some of the popular personal development blogs. The trick is to translate the story into concrete terms for the rest of the world, instead of thinking they'll make the connection themselves. That's a tall task for any writer but if you can do it, you can step onto a larger stage.

      I also suggest you seek out kindred spirits on Facebook and Google +, where you can post links to your posts.

      I wish you the best in your endeavor.

  67. Gea
    May 04, 2014 @ 07:16:01

    Good morning Marsha,

    I'm an Italian blogger who found out Jon's videos and advices by chance ... and I'm so grateful for that.
    I started a blog about a month ago and I'm still setting my strategy, as this field is quite different from my profession. I am a biologist and my blog is obviously about this topic, however I would like my readers to understand that science is not always so difficult, on the contrary is always fascinating, even in everyday life.
    Basically in my posts I start from a curious fact and then bring the reader to understand the science fact behind it, providing not to be too "sciency" and keeping it simple.
    The blog is in Italian at the moment (though I'm linking you a post I had to translate in English).
    I am wondering when it's the right time to begin translating the blog in other languages. I am keen on Spanish (native) and English (quite good) and I would like to broaden my audience, of course. I don't want to use an automated translation, so I'd like to do everything by myself.
    At the same time, I have learned here that guest blogging is an efficient strategy, so I'm thinking that I should focus on guest blogging in Italian, instead. I'm not saying that I can't do both, but I'm worried that I could leave aside my weekly posts in Italian this way, pushing too much other less useful areas.

    Any advice is appreciated and I want to thank you and Jon for giving so much precious tips!



    • Marsha Stopa
      May 08, 2014 @ 16:20:05


      Congrats on starting your blog.

      A few facts that will change your strategy:

      The blogosphere is not well developed in languages beyond English. The chance of finding large blogs in Italian or Spanish drop dramatically, and along with it the chance of guest blogging. Even if you do find a few larger blogs, finding one with an audience that's interested in science will be difficult.

      Your best bet is to write your blog in English and work to build up a readership and email subscriber list. When your blog and email list has reached enough critical mass and momentum (at least 1000 email subscribers) you can test offering translations of a few posts to see if it's worth the effort.

      Then you can reach out to the Italian or Spanish blogs you've found that resonate with your message and ask them to share the link with their readers.

      In any case, take the time to research science, parenting and education blogs in all three languages to plot your strategy. You'll be grateful you did.


  68. Tanner
    May 04, 2014 @ 00:31:21

    Hi Marsha,

    I started my blog about 2 months ago and I've seen zero growth.

    It's a lifestyle blog about how to live with meaning.

    Through ideas such as living with less, focusing on what is important, and enjoying the now I want to give people a place where they can feel okay with whatever is going on in their lives.

    I know it sounds kind of scattershot, but I think the central theme is strong enough and the content speaks for itself.

    Any feedback is greatly appreciated!

    Tanner of Knock on the Sky

    • Marsha Stopa
      May 08, 2014 @ 16:10:54


      I'm guessing that maybe you haven't spent much time reading other lifestyle or self improvement blogs. Your theme has become popular -- living with meaning is a trending topic these days.

      I understand the minimalist approach to blog design, but the blank page design is working against you at the start of a new blog. (Yes, it works for Leo Babauta on Zen Habits, but he's one of a kind and was before his time.) Readers are used to certain basic information and your blog is providing nothing -- not who you are, not what you do, not what you are writing about, not how you propose to help people, not your philosophy. Rather than search, they'll click away.

      And your blog name is obtuse -- I understand it's a metaphor, but then, I'm sitting here thinking about it and your average reader won't take the time.

      Create a more standard blog template. Tell people upfront in the header who you are and what you'll do for them. Create a tagline that explains the blog name. Add a standard navigation menu and sidebar. Get an email sign up box so you can build a list of interested readers.

      Do some exploring of personal development blogs and study the popular ones. See what you can model. No reason to reinvent the wheel.

      Best of luck,

  69. Cheryl Alleyne
    May 01, 2014 @ 17:53:09

    Hi Marsha and Jon,

    Thank you for the excellent post and the opportunity for some objective feedback.

    My site (www.besteverlovelife.com) which has been up for a month now offers info, advice and deals to help users enjoy their best ever love life. Although the whole site could probably be described as a blog, I also have a blog section where I write ad hoc items on relevant stuff that catches my eye (as opposed to the more formal articles in all the different categories).

    I did try to cheat a bit by buying some twitter followers and get entries in web directories and social bookmarking sites done using Fiverr but although not much money it was a waste of time. Now I am doing it manually bit at a time each day and trying to build up links, users etc.

    But at the moment after the relief and excitement of actually getting the site live, I am feeling the despondency Jon so effectively described.

    Any advice will be gratefully received. Many thanks.


    • Marsha Stopa
      May 08, 2014 @ 15:58:53


      Great domain and blog name!

      You'll benefit more from a more focused content strategy than an ad hoc approach. Sex is a part of relationships, relationships are one of the biggest topics on the personal development/self improvement blogs, the biggest blog niche.

      I suggest spending time on the big personal development sites, studying the questions and comments about sex. Then write about those topics; you already know what people want to know more about!

      Take time to build up relationships with those bloggers. Then when your write a post about what their readers are asking about, ask them politely to link to it.

      You have a great topic -- include the relationship aspect and you'll dramatically increase your chances of making blogging friends and getting guest posts.

      Good luck,

      • Cheryl Alleyne
        May 09, 2014 @ 09:41:45

        Hi Marsha,

        Thank you so much for taking the time to give me your feedback. An excellent suggestion which I am now starting to implement.

        Best regards.


  70. E Majesty
    May 01, 2014 @ 10:05:14

    Hi can you possibly advise me. I have a website/store that sells handbags. I also have a blog page that tries to give information on everything to do with handbags. Ive connected to Twitter/Tumblr also. My site is new, but I'd still appreciate any advise on how to connect to readers.
    Many thanks

    • Marsha Stopa
      May 08, 2014 @ 15:45:32

      I'm wondering if your potential customers want to read about handbags or just buy them?

      Seriously. It may be a waste of time to write a blog. Pinterest and other social media platforms are good places to share images and link back to the store.

      I suggest forgetting about writing a blog and spending more time promoting the store.

      If sales stay the same or increase, you don't need the blog.

      I also suggest you change the background to a neutral background. The current tiled image is so large and distracting that the items you have for sale are totally lost.


  71. Sinni
    Apr 28, 2014 @ 17:36:01


    Hi Jon have read some interesting comments here therefore, I would be really be happy if you could look at my website with my new blog.

    Sinniesworld is about life in general based in the UK from the breath taking and glorious to the simple things in life. I will be writing about a various amount of topics life, music, cakes etc. Please have a read and let me know if you enjoy. I'm keen on increasing blog traffic but also to eventually publish my blogs in UK and in America. Huge ambition I know, but any advice will be fantastic. Thank you so much. My twitter account is sinni @sinniesworld. Kind Regards Sinni

    • Marsha Stopa
      May 08, 2014 @ 15:40:48

      Hi Sinni,

      You have a decision to make: Will your new blog be a travel blog, or will it be a personal journal? Right now it reads more like a personal journal. Unfortunately, personal journals attract very few readers except your family and closest friends. Travel blogs, on the other hand, can introduce people to your corner of the world.

      In order to make that shift, you'll have to write very little about you and mostly about what readers would like to know about the UK. You have to get into their heads and figure out where they'd like to travel and know about those places.

      A travel blog would have a better chance of widespread acceptance in the UK and elsewhere.

      I hope that offers you some food for thought.

      Best of luck,

  72. norman
    Apr 28, 2014 @ 13:05:20

    Hi Marsha: Thanks in advance for your help.

    I help those who earn over $75K+ that are tired of being underpaid and under appreciated to get the large pay raise that they deserve. Many people, if not most, want more money, but few really deserve more money. My clientele are those who can demonstrate that they, in fact, deserve and earned more money. I developed an 8 step system for securing a great raise. It is personalized to each individual's circumstances. Writing is enjoyable and I would like to be accepted as a guest blogger on an appropriate blog. What is your assessment of my situation? Thanks again.

    • Marsha Stopa
      May 08, 2014 @ 15:31:05

      Hey Norman,

      I gave you a lengthy response to your first query on Feb. 4. Please scroll down and reread that one.


  73. Roland Kopp-Wichmann
    Apr 24, 2014 @ 07:29:25

    Hi Jon,
    I am from Germany and I started my blog in July 2005. Since I wrote a lengthy post about changing ones own attitude and behavior - and why that is so damned difficult.
    Here's a Google translation of it: http://goo.gl/Bt0nmL
    I am leading selfimprovement-seminars for managers and they find me via the blog, my podcasts and videos. At the moment I am bit tired of blogging and try to reinvent myself.
    Do you have any ideas?
    Thanks in advance.

    • Marsha Stopa
      May 08, 2014 @ 15:28:13


      I can bet you're tired.

      You've been blogging long enough to have amassed a lot of information about your readers and clients. The big question is: Do you need a blog? What is the ultimate goal of blogging? Or do you need a library of evergreen articles that answer the most common questions, will interest your potential clients and convince them to give you a call?

      As you reinvent yourself, I suggest exploring how an online library can complement your podcasts and videos. What can text offer your prospects that the podcasts and videos don't offer? Worksheets to help them work through the ideas in the podcasts and videos? Resource lists? Cheat sheets?

      After you do that, consider taking a survey of your readers and ask them so directly if they want A, B or C. Test the options to see what really works. (Surveys sometimes lie.)

      Consider also that you don't have to post new content weekly. Once a month may be fine along with your other social media channels. Again, test it.

      Keep us posted on your new online self.


  74. Joanne Wiklund
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 15:47:25

    Thanks for the insightful words from your experience. I started a blog because my regular weekly column in a local newspaper got cut, and I knew I'd have to have somewhere to put the words that come together in my head.

    I also have two facebook pages, a personal one and a professional one, Joanne Wiklund, author. I don't have a website because I'm still thinking about what I want it to do. My ebook, titled An Angel For Duane & Gladys in online.

    I don't Tweet because I don't think in 140 characters, even as a journalist for over 30 years. I've turned to writing fiction because as a newspaper reporter I had to write so many stories where I didn't like the end of the story. Thanks for the Internet Insights. JW

    • Marsha Stopa
      May 08, 2014 @ 15:18:35

      Hey Joanne,

      If you read through some of my comments lower down, you'll see that blogging doesn't help fiction writers very much. Fiction is a disconnect from the real world -- which is, of course, the point -- but attracting blog readers before you're a well known fiction writer is almost an impossible task.

      Because you've had a newspaper audience, it might be possible, but difficult, to find readers on Facebook who will click over to your blog. That sounds good in theory but is difficult in practice. The key is to write about the things you're readers want to read about, which often isn't the case with fiction writers who want to write what's in their heads.

      Forget Twitter. Not required. You might explore Google + to search for fiction writing circles. (You can also search for those groups on Facebook.) Better to go where there's already a self-identified school of hungry fish than cast your net into the vast ocean hoping the fish find you.

      I realize that's not much help. But the best thing for your fiction career is to write fiction, not write a blog no one will read.

      All the best,

  75. Jazz
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 11:41:30

    Such a great article, very useful. I shall be using your advice and start connecting. I was kind of wondering why no one is remotely 'interested' in my new blog. I shall work harder!! Thanks. πŸ™‚