This post is by Ashe Mischief
When a fellow fashion blogger emails me for advice on blogging, I almost always recommend they pick up a copy of Darren Rowse’s 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. Oftentimes, I get reluctance and arguments back– about how his blog isn’t relevant to the fashion blogger (and therefore, his work book isn’t relevant either).
While the Problogger website can feel confusing, it can feel irrelevant (especially if your blog is small or you’re new to making your site more professional) or it can just feel overwhelming to a new blogger (or hell, even us more experienced ones). The 31 Days to Build a Better Blog workbook is not. The fact is, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog is probably $20 of the best bucks you can spend on improving your blog–fashion blogger or not. While his workbook isn’t designed for creating a blog, it’s designed for bloggers at all levels and in all phases of their
When Darren initially began the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog on his website, a handful of bloggers and myself took part, and used the IFB forums to discuss the daily challenges, help each other throughout the tasks, offer feedback and support on them.
After the challenge originally ended, I picked up a copy of the workbook– so I could continually go back and revisit his ideas, prompts, and exercises. Right now, once again, I find myself going page by page through the workbook, realizing that while many of these tasks may be simple, it’s easy to overlook them in our daily blogging lives.
Examples of what you’ll find in the workbook:
- Promote a Blog Post
- Analyze a top blog in your niche
- Interlink your old blog posts
- Join a forum & start participating (My advice? Participate in IFB and join a SECOND forum)
- Update a key page on your blog
- Watch a first time reader use your blog
Having a B.A. in Writing, I have an unnatural fondness for workbooks and writing prompts– they’re a great way to stretch you outside of your comfort zones when working, grow your skills, and continually challenge yourself. They’re great for redirecting your focus and inspiring you in ways that you may not have realized.
A recent post of mine, 10 Things Carrie Bradshaw Taught Me About Fashion, was written as a result of one of his tasks (write a list post; since I rarely work in “numbers lists,” I thought it was worth giving it a shot!). It’s been a well-received post, with many retweeting it and being featured in a recent Links a la Mode.
How is this relevant to fashion bloggers?
I’m inclined to ask you– how is it not? Part of being a great blogger–fashion or not– is reading and finding inspiration around you. This workbook is designed to bring out the best in you and stretch you past your comfort zones as a writer. It helps you explore alternative writing styles, focuses you on analyzing and understanding your niche, and building the community you’re a part of.
As you and your site begin to grow, as your post numbers begin to grow, you’ll find yourself facing blogger burnout; you may feel uninspired– in your own content and with others. Like in any writing form, the workbook helps you navigate around your blocks to explore old and new techniques, while trying out new methods to push out of blogging plateaus.
A recent blogging plateau I’ve been facing is the direction of my site–where is it going? What do I write about now? As your blog grows, you may experience this yourself. One challenge–updating a page on your blog– has helped me a bit as I worked through it. I focused first on updating my ‘About’ page; 3 years later, the information shouldn’t be the same (is fashion the same 3 years later?). By streamlining my about page, I realized a bit more about what I felt my site had grown in to and who it’s grown to serve.
Another challenge, find a forum to participate in– happened serendipitously. A post of mine had been linked to for discussion on a fashion forum, and I used that as an opportunity to sign up. It’s reaching out to a new group of fashion fans, and expands my style community on a whole. I found several familiar blogger faces on the site, along with meeting new ones.
While you may not feel that blogs about blogging have much to offer the fashion community, think you need to wade through a lot of material to find the articles that are useful and relevant to you. The Problogger workbook is a handy, 90 page workbook about blogging in a way that is genuinely useful and relevant to our community and your growth as a fashion blogger.
Tasks for IFB Bloggers:
1. Buy the workbook; if it’s too expensive, split the cost with 4 of your blogging buddies. Alternately, go through the Problogger archives to find the old 31 Days to Build a Better Blog posts. It’s free.
(And here’s the first post. Note: this post is for when he first ran it in 2007– the 2009 workbook edition has different tasks. It may be beneficial to run through BOTH versions.)
2. Use the IFB forums (and/or the Problogger forums) to work through the tasks at your own pace– offer feedback and assistance to other bloggers using it as well.
3. Continually use the exercises throughout the book– I’m setting up days per week to make sure I work on these, such as interlinking & updating old blog posts, emailing readers & commenting on other blogs. Don’t use the exercises once and forget about them.
Disclosure: the above “buy” links are affiliate links; 50% of any income earned goes to IFB, helping improve the site and provide upkeep costs. If you wish to purchase the workbook without an affiliate link, please click here.
Image via weheart.it