Timeline: What to Do When Your Blog Goes Down

When your website or blog goes down it can be pretty frustrating while also having consequences over the short and long term. Yuck.

And while it is not the end of the world, it can be a little bit scary if you rely on your blog for an income.

When a site goes offline there is a sequence of events that take place and, depending on how you manage them, annoying consequences that follow.

Let’s take a very basic look at those events and what to do in that kind of situation so that you can hit the ground running.

A general timeline of a crashed blog

Here is a quick example timeline of what can happen when a website or blog goes down, and what you might want to be doing at each stage of the process. This could vary a lot depending on your situation, so I’ll try to keep it as general as possible.

1. Notification

The first thing is usually that someone lets you know that your blog is down. This might happen on Twitter or you might get an email from a reader who was trying to access the site. If you run a very professional setup you might even get a notification from your server or a monitoring service like Sucuri.

What to do here:
At this stage you’ll want to get to a computer so you can begin researching what’s happening. Try not to panic.

2. Identification

The next step is that you will need to try and figure out whether your site is actually down and, if it is, what is causing the problem. For example, is it a server issue, a hack of some kind, an issue with a plugin, etc.?

What to do here:
The first step is to check Down For Everyone to see if it’s just you. Then the next step is to email or call your web host and notify them of the problem. Your support staff is always the first point of call.

3. Resolution/Non-resolution

At this stage your problem will either be resolved as being some simple error or temporary server downtime. If not you will need to move on to the next stage.

What to do here:
If your problem was resolved you can move on the section about prevention and backups, if your problem wasn’t resolved you’ll need to investigate further.

4. Further investigation

Sometimes your web host will not be able to resolve the issue if it is a more specialized problem that involves your WordPress theme, plugins, or some malware that is present on your blog. Often they will be able to identify the issue but not want to attempt to repair it due to the possibility of making it worse.

What to do here:
Here you want to engage a systems admin expert or a service like Sucuri that can look deeper into the issue. This will generally involve giving them access to your server so it’s best to go with a reputable person/company. Ask for a report and quote.

5. Outside effects become noticeable

Sometime around this stage you will probably start to notice some effects of the downtime. For example, you will see a notification in Google search or Webmaster Tools that there is a security threat on your site, or you’ll start to notice your Google rankings changing/dropping in response to the server no longer being reachable. Keep an eye on your important backlinks as well. If you throw a 404 error for too long there’s a chance that the linking site will change to someone else.

What to do here:
At this point you might want to publicly acknowledge that there is an issue by posting to your social media accounts and advising readers what is happening and how they can help. Here’s a good example of how to do it.

6. Start researching alternatives

Unfortunately, if your issue is not resolved quickly it might mean that a more complicated solution is necessary. For example, you might need to migrate your domain name and/or website to a new host due to some issue with the current one.

What to do here:
Start looking around Google for people who have had similar problems to this and seeing what pith advice they have. Start emailing other providers to find out about the migration process should that be necessary. Look for staff who might be able to help you re-build any damaged or broken bits.

7. Final resolution

Some point in here the damn thing will be fixed and you’ll wonder why you got into Internet business in the first place. You’ll also experience some pretty great relief.

What to do here:
You can do this but also move on to the next step.

8. Put in place future protections and backups

If you didn’t have them in place initially, an event like this will really motivate you to start thinking about how to prevent future incidents. This involves better server set ups, security protocols, backups, monitoring, etc.

What to do here:
Make regular backups. My Blog Tyrant server makes a full server back up every two days, and once a week sends a full copy to a completely separate server as a secondary backup. Harden your website’s security using measures like these. Talk to your server staff about improvements that can be made or pay an independent expert for an audit.

Has your blog ever crashed?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below if your blog has ever crashed and how you dealt with the situation. What steps did you take and how effective were they? What tips or steps would you say should absolutely be added to the article above? Please leave a message below.

How to Send an Email Pitch that Won’t Get Deleted

Want to learn how to send an email pitch that won’t get deleted? It’s a vital part of online business.

As the owner of a fairly large website, I get dozens of emails everyday from people pitching things. I have colleagues who get hundreds.

While I try to answer every legitimate email I get, I have noticed that there are certain things that really put me off, and certain things that really encourage me to respond quickly.

The same is also true of the emails I send pitching things to others – I always try to pay attention to what works.

And, as the Internet grows, more and more competition means more and more emails getting sent. That potentially means it’ll be harder to cut through and get noticed – especially if you speak a different language to the recipient.

With all of that in mind, I wanted to write about a few simple tips that apply to almost any emailing situation so that newcomers can have a better idea about what works and what doesn’t.

Let’s take a look at the graphic first and then get into some details:

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Like my post on things to know before starting a blog, I hope this will save a few people some time (and heartache) by avoiding the horrible feeling of getting no replies or getting constantly rejected.

How to send an email pitch

Most of the best tips are included in the infographic above, so I’ll just touch on a few extra points down here. First, let’s start with an example:

I get a lot of these types of requests, and not all of them are as succinct and well thought out as this one. Even though Aman is pretty new to online business he cut through well.

So what did he do right?

Open with a compliment
Aman starts off with a massive compliment that, as much as I pretend it doesn’t, usually gets me feeling pretty good. I’m so conscious about trying to help people with this site that when someone tells me it has I always get a little buzz. This technique is recommended by a lot of people because it starts the negotiation/request on a positive note.
Straight to the point and a bold question
The next thing he does well is writes his simple question in bold. Generally I know what these emails are about and so I skip to the crux, and it’s nice to be able to identify it quickly. He doesn’t waste any time getting to this with a big backstory about his site or the post.
Time saving mechanisms
The next thing that I really appreciated in this email was that Aman gave a specific deadline, but also included enough time in there for me to take a few days. He also cleverly added an updated Google Doc so I could see what others had contributed in order to prevent repeats. This is an idea I might borrow.
Social proof
Towards the end he adds a line mentioning that there are 60 other people contributing. This is always a clever idea because it makes you think that it’s a legitimate site if so many people have agreed to participate already. Adding social proof in some subtle form is often a good idea.
He understands what it’s like
The major thing I like about this email is how Aman clearly understands what it’s like for online business owners who are busy and get a lot of emails. The whole email is built around being convenient for the recipient and, although he’s asking me to write a paragraph, it feels like there is no work to do.

While it’s not the “perfect” email, I would rate this as one of the better ones that I’ve received in the last month or so and think we can all learn from it.

A bonus tip for email pitches

One last thing I wanted to talk about in this article is the idea giving something before you receive. It is a very powerful tool when you are sending an email like this.

For example, in the blogging world we all thrive off of back links. When someone links to Blog Tyrant they instantly get on my radar – it’s like a form of blogging currency. In this post on blogging strategy I talk about how you can link to someone (or tweet their posts) as a first point of contact before sending an email asking for something.

While this might not be relevant for every email pitch (you don’t want to do it when applying for a job!), it’s often a good idea to look to see if you can give something before asking for something in return.

What kind of emails work for you?

Do you send a lot of email pitches? Perhaps you receive a lot of them yourself? I’d be really curious to know what techniques or styles work for you, or what really puts you off. Please leave a comment below and let me know.

Quick note: If you like the infographic please considering saving it on Pinterest or sharing it on Facebook. That would help me out a lot.

65 Million Articles Are Published Each Month – Can Yours Stand Out?

Actually, it’s a lot more than 65 million articles – that’s just the number published on the WordPress platform! There are a lot of blogs out there.

So, in a world where everyone wants to start a blog and everyone else is publishing their opinions on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, how do we make ours stand out? Is it even possible?

In today’s post I’m going to look at a few strategies I’ve used over the years to help my blogs and online businesses get noticed and stand out from the crowd. I hope it helps a few people out there who are trying to make a bit of extra income for their families, or create happier careers.

Let’s go.

But what about all that competition?

When you look at the sheer number of blogs and blog posts created each month it can seem a little overwhelming. How on Earth can one stand out when there is so much competition?

Well, there are a few positive points to remember:

They’re not all in your niche
The majority of blogs aren’t in your niche. Don’t worry, not all of those millions of blogs are direct competitors.
They’re not all as good as yours
If you’ve got yourself set up on on your own host you are probably ahead of 90% of the crowd. Even more if you have a brand and a strategy of some kind.
They don’t all last long
The average blog, like the average business, doesn’t last more than a year. There is a lot to be said for just sticking it out because most people won’t.

I think it’s important to remember these things, especially if it’s taking you a little longer to hit your goals than you had anticipated. Being hopeful in the early days is important, as is committing to sticking at it.

The three stages of a visitor

Before we get into the main points, we need to have a look at traffic and its various stages. There are three ways to think about your traffic, and knowing them is very important to effectively standing out.

  1. Pre-visit
    Traffic before it actually gets to your site. For example, people that are about to encounter you on Google, social media, or some form of advertising.
  2. On-site
    Traffic while it is on your website and either ignoring or engaging with your content and is poised to take some action like clicking, subscribing, purchasing, or bouncing.
  3. Post-visit
    Once they’ve been fulfilled or bounced from your site and are in a stage where they will either abandon your site for good or re-visit in the future..

In this post we’re going to touch on all three stages and talk about some things we can do to ensure that not only do you get visitors, but that they engage with your content, and then come back again later.

How to make your blog posts stand out

Now we’re going to take a deeper look at what we can do to make our blogs and blog posts stand out from the crowd in a more methodical and strategic way.

1. Craft your headlines and descriptions for humans and Google

If you want people to click through to your blog and read your posts you’re going to need to make sure that your headlines and descriptions are compelling enough to get them interested, without being too “clickbaity” so as to put them off.

It’s also important to note that, at this stage, you need to take care of both human needs and the needs of the spiders from Google.

Yes, we want to write for people, but we also want search engines to pick up the content or else no one will see it.

If you look at any Google search you’ll see some amazing results and some that could use some work. For example, in the image above you’ll see two titles that are a little bit too long and thus aren’t optimized for people who are reading through and looking to click.

Google will generally show around 55 characters for the title as they need to make it fit on both desktop and mobile device display, so we should try to keep within that limit.

Remember, these are just like an advert listing.

You can always write longer titles for your blog and then edit them to be shorter for Google by using an SEO plugin like All in One SEO Pack that allows you to edit titles and descriptions and suggest them to Google.

2. Test headlines on Twitter and with your mailing list

Crafting a compelling headline takes a lot of practice. Jon Morrow once said they he used to re-write each title hundreds of times in order to get good at writing them. And he’s very good at them.

But how do you know if your final choice is the right one?

Well, you don’t. You need to test it.

There are a few ways we can do this. For example, you can Tweet your post and use a different title every time and then see which one gets the most clicks.

Just click the little bar graph at the bottom of your tweet and you’ll get some expanded stats of how that particular tweet performed. Do maybe five tweets over a week and see which performs best. Of course, this is not a fool proof research method as factors like time of day, etc. need to be consistent. But it’s a good start.

You can also do this type of test with your mailing list by split testing different subject lines and seeing which one performs better. Try testing short vs long versions, adding numbers, creating some scarcity, positive vs negative, etc. and slowly build up a picture about what people are reacting to.

3. Get the promotion/ads perfect

The next thing you’ll want to do in order to get people to click through to your blog is ensure that the promotion or ads that you’re running are as tight as possible. For example, I’ve been running the follow ad on Facebook:

The idea here is that you have an eye-catching and well branded image and a call to action that will encourage people to click through or show some interest. This one has performed quite well. To make it even better, you want to ensure that the graphic in the ad matches the post that it leads to as closely as possible.

I’ve been using a lot of little Blog Tyrant characters around here lately. My designer makes them for me and it has slowly been getting associated with the brand more and more. I even got a comment on the ad above saying:

This is exactly what you want – as people start to recognize your brand and images and tone they’ll start to pick it out from among all the other noise that is out there and engage with you more. This is a good start when it comes to standing out.

4. Make sure your brand and content is distinctive

Once people land on your blog it’s important that they encounter a quality website that is filled with information that helps people.

But you also need to be distinctive.

I’ve talked about a book called How Brands Grow before but it’s worth mentioning it again because their research shows that it’s not vital to be first or original, but you do need to be distinctive and memorable.

So, how do you do that within a blog environment?

Well, one way to start is to jump on Google and spend a day or two analyzing the competition in your niche. I’ve made a very simple little spreadsheet to help you do that.

Download the template (Excel) Download the template (Numbers)

The idea here is to look at the best performing and best ranking blogs and see if you can figure out any distinctive features that might be giving them an advantage in any particular area. Examine the colors, logos, and their most popular articles.

Most importantly, however, you want to see what their specific focus is and whether or not there is any angle that might be missing from your niche. It might even be a small shift in the way you offer a free download or the specific approach that you take to solving a certain problem.

Once you’ve identified something that is missing you can start emphasizing that on your own blog. It doesn’t mean you have to do an entire re-brand – but maybe do a promotional test with a new landing page or long-form piece of content and see whether that starts to perform better.

This really is key because once you know what your competition is doing and how you’re going to be different you will feel like there is a thread that ties your whole brand together.

5. Follow up with niche-matched value

The next thing that you’ll want to do is make it as easy as possible to get in front of people again in a way that stands out. For example, a very niche-matched email series is a popular method.

I’ve talked about this extensively in this post on blogging strategy as well as my article on affiliate income over at ViperChll but, essentially, the point is that you position your blog in a way that makes new visitors feel like this is the best place to get solutions for a very, very specific problem.

If you look at Nerd Fitness you’ll see how tightly everything is branded towards helping geeks and nerds get fit, but also fit in. The paid areas are all massive communities and the branding is heavily geared towards geek culture like gaming, Star Wars, etc. You can even make your own gaming character!

After a few minutes on this site you start to feel like this is the only place that “gets” me and that it will be the only place where you can achieve your goals because of who you are. From a standing out point of view it is absolutely perfect.

You don’t need to go to the same extent that Steve has here – a simple download or email course is enough if it hones in on your blog’s brand and its solutions and gets you in front of readers over and over.

Some final tips to help your blog stand out

In case all of that stuff above wasn’t that useful, here are a few reminders and extra tips to help your blog and its articles stand out:

Consider the various stages
Remember that you need to stand out before, during and after a visitor lands on your site.
Be distinctive
Try to find ways to be distinctive. That doesn’t always mean first, just memorable.
Pay for it
If you need help with graphics or developing a strategy pay for it like I do with my characters. You can get good results for hardly any money.
Constantly aim to solve problems
Focus as best as you can on helping people and solving their problems in whatever niche you are in.
Consider injecting your personality
Sometimes the difference between being remembered and forgotten is a photo like I have on my homepage. Maybe put you and your story on the blog and in your post more often.
Tie together your goals and branding
Try to make sure your content, images, ads, etc. all tie together to help solve one single problem in one single niche.
Analyze the competition
Regularly assess what your competition is doing and see whether anything is working and whether or not you can improve on it in some new way.
Be stylistically consistent
Try to make sure the style that you use in your posts is always similar so that people will recongize it when they encounter it. Certain websites like the New Yorker and Wait But Why do this very well.
Be an early adopter
Sometimes people make huge progress with their careers because they are an early adopter of a new social network or platform or tool. Keep your eye out for this in your niche.
See what’s working offline
Sometimes offline media, advertising, etc. has good ideas that aren’t being applied online. Maybe a magazine, product, invention or event has something relevant to your niche?
Ask
The last thing I want to mention is asking your readers and peers for advice or feedback. Sometimes all it takes is a few tweaks to make a huge difference.

What blogs do you think stand out?

I’d really love to know whether you know of any blogs that stand out in your niche. Have you ever noticed a particular blog post that really caught your attention? Leave a comment below and let us know. It would be fun to get some new ideas from parts of the web I’ve never visited.

Analysis: What Links Appear in the Web’s Best Navigation Bars?

One of the first things you do upon starting a new blog is create a navigation bar or menu. But what links should go in there? And, more importantly, do some links outperform others?

I have spent a bit of time playing around with this myself and have been quite surprised at what works and what doesn’t.

It is interesting to note that the “traditional” five links that almost everyone includes up the top actually aren’t always best.

Let’s have a look at what some websites are doing with their navigation bars and what lessons we can take away for our own.

The traditional navigation bar

Since the beginning of websites people have been putting the same five links in the navigation bars: Home, About, Services, News/Blog, Contact.

And that’s fine.

But it’s definitely not perfect.

These days there’s so much more we can be doing with that premium website real estate. It is not longer just a place to navigate around the main sections – it’s a place that can respond to different visitors, change for various platforms, display photos, etc.

We could be a bit more creative.

Some excellent navigation bars from around the web

Let’s start by taking a look at some of the best navigation bars that I could find and then finish off with some ideas, resources and a plan of attack for your own.

1. Airbnb – menu responds to login status and interactions

The first example is from Airbnb which has a great top navigation bar that shows different information based on whether you’re logged in, or whether you’ve made any bookings, saves, etc.

The Airbnb menu allows for changed features depending on login status.

This is a really cool advanced feature that could be implemented in various ways depending on what content you want people to notice most at your website or blog.

For example, you might have a little section in your menu that shows people their saved articles or items they’ve interacted with multiple times. You could even have a section that shows popular articles right now and allows people to vote them up or share them on social media. Maybe there’s a plugin idea in that?

2. Smart Passive Income – animated features

The next example comes from Smart Passive Income where Pat draws attention to his monthly income by using a very neat animated graph that grows as the page loads.

A menu feature that changes as the page loads.

This is a really clever way to highlight one of the most important areas of your website. Pat uses his income reports as a real brand builder and as inspiration for people wanting to make a passive income online, and adding a prominent feature like this would go a long way to drawing readers deeper, promoting other areas of the site, affiliates, etc.

The interesting part is, because Pat is Pat, he is constantly testing the performance of his setup. I noticed this tweet about his navigation bar a few days after I started researching and writing this article.

3. Starlight – graphics and branding within the navigation bar

The children’s charity Starlight has really incorporated their branding into their menu well. As you can see, their are beautiful little illustrations that liven up the menu and make it more interesting and engaging.

A menu feature that changes as the page loads.

One other feature about this menu that I quite like is how the rest of the website darkens so that the focus remains on the menu itself – sort of like a lightbox. This also helps to draw attention to the three yellow buttons which are perhaps the main items, as opposed to just navigation.

Navigation bars and menus don’t just have to be plain areas. We can incorporate branding and design elements in order to make the site more memorable and distinctive.

4. Treasury of Lives – timeline doubling as a navigation menu

I wanted to include this example because it shows that a navigation bar does not even have to appear as a traditional navigation bar at all. The website Treasury of Lives collects biographies of Himalayan Buddhist teachers and as such it’s useful to show the era that they were around in relation to each other.

An interactive way to navigate around a website.

If you visit the site you’ll notice that they do use a traditional navigation bar, but I was thinking about how there would be some cases where it would be very unique to use this type of timeline style to function as the primary way to move around the site.

Of course, you don’t have to have a long history to make use of this format. I was thinking, for example, of doing something similar in terms of a blog’s progression and the stages at which you should install a plugin, add a theme, tweak this, change that, etc.

5. Google Fonts – space-saving menu

Google usually does things pretty well (sorry Google Wave, yuck) and at Google Fonts you get a great example of a menu that saves a lot of space by not really being visible until you decide to interact further with the content.

The main menu features are not available until you click the arrow.

I like this option because it leaves the emphasis on the content itself – especially given that their content on this site is interactive. Having a sidebar that allows you to change the way content is displayed can sometimes be gimmicky (I don’t think changing background colors is that useful), but other times it can be a really good way to enhance what is available.

So, what should I put in my navigation bar?

After all of that you might be wondering about what in the heck to put in your navigation bar!

Well, the good news is that it doesn’t really matter – there are no hard and fast rules.

The bad news is that the only way to find out the ideal combination is to do some testing – and that can take time. Sites like Visual Website Optimizer can help you out.

Being strategic with your choice

One thing you want to do is think carefully about which specific content/page you want visitors to find easily and then build your navigation bar around that, removing everything extra.

Remember, you know your content better than your readers and as such you should help them find the right stuff. That’s part of this blogging strategy.

For example, I’m currently testing a scroll-activated button on the top right that can send people to different pages that I want to target. I’ve even removed things like Contact from my menu and put it in the footer because emails are not a priority for me and take up a lot of time.

Being helpful with your choice

The next thing you might want to consider is how best to serve your readers in the particular niche that you are in.

For example, if you are an online store it might be better to have a huge mega-menu with all the categories, styles of product, shipping options, etc. available so that the entire online shop is accessible within on or two clicks. Etsy is an example of this done well.

With more complicated menus you need to be sure that it still works smoothly on mobile and for users of different screen sizes so as to avoid any confusion. Sometimes a mega-menu on mobile will add a lot of clicks.

Being distinctive with your choice

The last option I want to talk about is the idea of just doing whatever works for your brand and will help it to stand out from the crowd.

If your blog has a short bio of you in the sidebar on every page then maybe you don’t need to link to an About page in the navigation bar. Or, if your logo acts as a home button then don’t take up space with another Home link. Or, if your services is a little bit more complicated than most think about putting a Get Started or Take it for a Spin page.

This type of thing might also include using icons (like this) instead of text links as a way to quickly communicate what that page is going to do for readers. Conversely, an icon might be deliberately confusing as a way to generate interest in the mind of the visitor.

What is in your navigation bar?

I’ve left this article quite open ended as I genuinely think the best way to determine what goes in a navigation bar is to test it for each individual blog or website that you run and see what works.

That being said, I’d love to know what is in your menu, how you decided on those links, and how they’ve been working out for you. Please leave a comment below and let me know.<!– Please call pinit.js only once per page –>

Starting a Blog in 2017? Here’s the Strategies We’re Using.

A few years ago we started publishing posts at the end of each year that tried to predict blogging trends for the year to come. This year I want to do things a little bit differently…

We’ll start with my usual blog post on what I think will be important in the coming year, but then I’d like to turn it over to the amazing community here and ask you for your predictions about starting and running blogs, and the specific strategies you’ll be focusing on.

I’m going to give a $250 prize to the best comment to go towards your blogging needs for the year. Hopefully the result will be a comments section filled with incredible knowledge and ideas on how to start and succeed with a blog in 2017.

Let’s do it!

Starting a blog in 2017: What’s changing and what’s not?

Every year when I do these posts I notice how some elements of successful blogging stay the same, while others change and need to be updated.

There are the “golden rules” of blogging – tried and tested ideas and methods that bloggers and entrepreneurs have been using for over a decade now with continued success – and then there are the elements that change each year as technologies, trends and other related phenomena ebb and flow.

I’m going to try and touch on both of these in this article.

1. A blog is now a lot more than just a blog

One of the most common questions I get asked from new bloggers is whether or not a blog should be part of an existing website or something that sits separately.

For the last few years, blogs have really evolved from their original “weblog” format to a very professional operation that does a lot more than just offering news and updates. In 2016 we have seen this go to all new heights with how sophisticated themes, plugins and addons have become.

This is one of the main reasons I continue to recommend that bloggers start on a self-hosted WordPress setup because the open source platform allows you to change and evolve your site extremely quickly and easily as opposed to being locked into a free platform that has limited flexibility.

For example, sites like Nerd Fitness (which was once a content-only blog) have now evolved into multi-platform offerings that include community areas, stores, online live training videos, character creation, membership products, etc.

Steve (the one with the arrow on his face) has even taken this to the next level of holding a physical (and wonderfully successful!) annual camp. I often joke that he’s not far away from his transformation into a legitimate cult leader!

If you take a look at many of the blogs that have survived the long term you will notice that they start to offer more than just the usual updates. Not only does it create a lot of value for your existing readers, these extra features attract new visitors who instantly find your brand valuable.

2. Understanding blogging SEO will become drastically more important

In the past you’d find that a blogger could get away with not knowing too much about SEO and still attract a lot of traffic if their content was excellent and social shares filled the gaps.

In the last few months, however, Google has been making some massive changes that are going to affect blogs in a really big way, and I predict that it’s going to become even more important in 2017 (I’ll be doing a separate post about this soon).

The main thing you want to be looking at is how the mobile version of your site impacts on how Google ranks you. Things like inconvenient pop up ads will soon be penalized in search, and the mobile will be the default analysis instead of the desktop.

There are also new technologies like Accelerated Mobile Pages which some blogs and websites are already taking advantage of. It’s a whole new area of search optimization that, unfortunately, will benefit only larger sites unless we jump on board and learn about it.

3. Facts and helpfulness will be a vital point of difference

One of the standout features of 2016 was how quickly we entered into a post-fact era where science and truthful information seemed to become less important for news and media.

People now seem to embrace a cognitive bias openly when it comes to news and will, as an example, disregard whole newspapers like the New York Times as being “left wing elite propaganda” and instead choose a non-fact checked site that sits with their own agenda.

The trouble is that the algorithms that the web is built on encourage this kind of behavior. Veratasium explains in really well in this video.

What I think this means is that it is more important than ever for bloggers and social media wizards to do the right thing and produce content that is helpful, truthful and accurate.

A lot of people are scrambling to find trusted new sources of information and my hope is that it will lead to new blogs and content providers that are committed to making it in a fun and digestible way – you might even be able to make truth and trustworthiness marketable points of difference!

4. Speed will become more vital than ever

All around us we can see how things are speeding up. Have you ever noticed how ticked off you get when your favorite podcast or Netflix series is a day late? Well, services like Google feel the same about websites.

I’m predicting that 2017 will see a rise in the rankings of fast websites and those websites will also continue to perform better in terms of conversions as people become less and less patient with sluggish load times.

As mentioned above, we can already see Google giving preference to fast loading mobile sites with things like AMP and this will only continue to get more prominent as websites and blogs vie to be included in that section of search results.

To make sure blog as fast as possible look at how you use images, the configuration of your server with services like gzip and CDNs, and spend some time learning how to cache various aspects of your site as cleanly as possible,

5. Mailing list “bribes” will have to be more sophisticated

As more and more website owners, web entrepreneurs and bloggers realize the benefits of getting more email subscribers the more likely it is that subscribers will get fatigued.

Everywhere you look now you see different free courses, eBooks and other goodies that you can get for free when you sign up to a mailing list. This probably means that the old “get updates” is not going to be enough unless your content is on the level of Wait But Why or The Oatmeal.

A lot of bloggers are moving on to things like content upgrades where you offer a small download within a post as a way to enhance the value of that post. The catch is that they have to subscribe in order to get it by clicking on buttons like this:

Make a button like this one

Ultimately, I think the mailing list will continue to become more and more important for sustainable online business. A lot of services like Slack have been touted as the “email killer” but I’m still not seeing a mass transition away from the format.

Try to make email subscriptions a focus for your blog in 2017 because, as we’re about to see in the next point, it can provide an extremely important protection.

6. Google will syndicate more content from blogs

If you’re a small website or blog you’ll find that Google can be your best friend one day, and your worst enemy the next. It’s an unfortunate by-product of a service that is absolutely pervasive as well as brilliant in quality.

We all use Google as a way to drive traffic to our blog. The problem arises when we depend on that traffic too much and end up getting stung by a new update, algorithm change or penalty.

But what we’ll see more of in 2017 is Google taking content directly from websites and blog and pasting it right there in the search results. Here’s one example:

As you can see, the search for actor Ben Mendelsohn returns a little sidebar where Google have pulled information from sites like Wikipedia and IMDB. As a result, you don’t actually need to visit those websites to get the information.

You can see this type of result with searches like sports results, movie times, and a lot of basic questions like “convert calories to kilojoules” will even produce a little calculator right there in search.

What this means is that you need to be a little bit careful if you have a popular resource that is easily scraped by Google as there is a high likelihood that they will display it directly in the search results if they think it will be faster and easier for their customers.

Of course, this might not be such a bad thing if it means that your content gets some extra graphical promotion above your competition but it all depends on how the click through rate is affected for your particular piece.

7. Security threats will continue to rise

Last year we saw a massive rise in all kinds of security threats, including one where half the East Coast of the United States got taken down in a DDoS that was vaguely linked to the election and/or Julian Assange and Wikileaks.

In my own smaller world, a relative had their entire workplace’s network compromised when a staff member opened a link in an email that looked to be from an official postal service. The device was locked, held to ransom and a boat-load of personal data was stolen.

So what can we do?

Well, start by doing all the basic things like never opening links in emails, using two-factor authentication, keeping passwords different and strong, avoiding public WiFi, keeping software and anti-virus protection up to date, and using security plugins and protocols on your blogs.

Most importantly, however, is to make a backup of all that you do and all that is important in case something does go wrong and you need to re-load some stuff to a pre-attack phase. I would also highly recommend finding a trusted security expert or a firm like Sucuri that you can go to should something go wrong.

8. Teamwork will become more important than ever

If you read my post about threats to your online business you might be worried about producing enough quality content to compete with the growth in your niche. One way to take care of that is with teams.

For example, here at Blog Tyrant I have a designer who helps me with graphics, a WordPress expert who does coding and adds new features, a systems admin expert who deals with databases and security, brilliant video editors and photographers, etc. And that doesn’t include any of the other bloggers I rely on for networking or cross-promo, or my accountant, lawyer, etc.

Really, there’s no way to do it all by yourself and I feel so lucky to have such amazing people helping me out.

In 2017 bloggers will need to try and be more savvy with how they work with others. That could include collaborations, but mostly it will mean getting some really good staff on a contractor or part time basis to help you do some of the jobs that you don’t need to be doing yourself.

Start by thinking about the things that take up a lot of your time but don’t actually grow the business or earn you any money. These are the things you want to start with.

9. Long form content will change lives

If you have a look at the content that really made an impact last year it was mostly long form content that gave the reader something extremely helpful, and I think this trend will continue next year.

Sure, there were a lot of election and Harambe memes that got a lot of likes and shares, but the content that really seemed to make an impression on people was the in-depth article that spent a lot of time helping someone understand an issue or solve a problem they had.

But then there’s articles like this one on marriage that got 20k shares, this one on Trump supporters that made me teary, this article about Sydney that got over a millions views, this article about how humans won’t need to work soon that made me re-think my career path, or this article called I Used to be a Human Being which was one of the best articles I’ve ever read.

Some of these pieces took months to research and are 5,000 to 10,000 words long. Most importantly, they are genuinely helpful to the reader and have a positive motivation that aims to make sense of something scary in the world, or give people a new perspective.

My feeling is that in 2017 people will be looking for quality content that really helps change their lives. There’s so much noise around us and when you encounter a piece like this you really stop and take notice. And, as the writer, even if you only help a few people I think it’s entirely worth the effort.

10. We’ll need to get better at using data

Even the newest bloggers have a lot of data at their fingertips. Your basic analytics account will show you thousands of data points each day, and when you start looking at split testing and other deeper statistics it can all seem a bit overwhelming.

The funny thing about data is that more is not necessarily better and a lot of people are starting to question how it is being used.

The same is true for anyone who is starting a blog in 2017 – there is a lot of data that you have access to and not all of it will be a valuable way to spend your time.

For example, you could spend literally your whole work week on keyword analysis trying to discover the best keywords to target for your next blog post. You could use SEMrush to check out all the competition, Google Adwords for traffic volume and ads spending and then still at the end come up with the wrong solution because you didn’t factor in social shares, current trends, or the human element on the front end of those articles (i.e. what people will interact with at this particular point in time).

The same is true for internal metrics like bounce rate. You might spend weeks trying to get your bounce rate down by a few percentage points and as such have no real time left to craft new articles, network or provide value.

Personally, I’ll be looking at a few key metrics that I feel are relevant to my business and then not worry too much about the rest. Not only does it take up a lot of my time, I also find it a little bit overwhelming and a bit deflating if I focus too much on numbers.

What would you say to someone starting a blog in 2017?

I’d really love to open up the comments now and hear the advice that you would give to someone who is starting a new blog in 2017. What strategies will you yourself be using? What trends do you think will come and go? And is there anything really, really important that I’ve missed? I can’t wait to hear your perspectives.

I’m going to give $250 to the most helpful comment below so please take your time and give this post a share if you think it might help someone you know. I’ll announce the winner on Facebook next week.