Join Us and Become a Better Blogger in 31 Days

As I mentioned last week when I first mentioned this project, I believe blogging is one of the best avenues to achieve success.  If your dreams involve leading, helping others, or earning a living, blogging can go a long way towards making your dreams reality.

But blogging can only do that if you blog well.

So, I want to get better as a blogger, and I want to help you become a better blogger too.

That’s why I’m excited to announce that on May 3 we are going to start a project to help bloggers take their blogs and their blogging skills to whole new levels.

31 Days to Build a Better Blog

Darren Rowse is one of the most successful bloggers on the planet.  He authors the ProBlogger blog which boasts 136,000 RSS subscribers and has helped thousands of people earn a living blogging.

Several years ago Darren did a 31 Days to Build a Better Blog project.  Thousands of bloggers participated as each day for 31 days Darren posted a blogging lesson & gave a homework assignment.

I bought a copy of 31DBBB for $20.  I skimmed it, and it’s fantastic.  I could go through it and do it on my own, but what would be the fun in that?

I want to do 31DBBB with a group of people who are as passionate about blogging and self-improvement as I am.  Experience is irrelevant.  I hope the group includes some people who have been blogging for years as well as some who are just starting their first blog.  Far more important than experience is passion and a willingness to commit to about an hour a day for 31 straight weekdays.

Yes, that’s a big commitment.  But I wouldn’t make that commitment myself if I didn’t believe it was worth it.

The Format

31DBBB Curriculum. 31 Days to Build a Better Blog has a lesson and some homework for each of the 31 days.  31DBBB was originally done on 31 consecutive days.  I don’t blog on the weekends.  I prefer to spend that time with family, friends, and my church.  I want this to be an enjoyable rather than stressful experience & I want to include as many people as possible.  So, we’re going to stretch it out over 6 weeks and only do it on weekdays.  This also gives the opportunity to catch up on the weekend if you miss a day or two during the week.

The Blog

Blog Posts. Each of the 31 days, we will publish a post about that day’s lesson/assignment.  I will write as many posts as necessary, but I want to give each participant the opportunity to do a guest post.  Guest posting will give you an opportunity to introduce yourself & your blog to other participants.

Blog Comments. Each participant is expected to post at least one comment each day.  First, it will give us an idea of who is really participating.  Second, it’s a form of accountability.  I know when I have to contribute I read and think about a topic more thoroughly.  Third, it reinforces the value that none of us are  just takers but we’re all givers in this project as well.  We all contribute insight in addition to receiving others insight.

Link Love. As a little bonus, participants will be allowed to include a link to a blog post they’ve published that day.  So, if you publish a post to your blog on a Monday, you can include a link at the end of any comments you post here on Monday.  If you don’t post to your blog on Tuesday, when you comment here on Tuesday no link.  This creates an incentive to not only participate in the discussion on this blog, but also post consistently to your own blog.

The Forums

Q & A. If you have general questions about blogging that don’t have to do with a specific day’s lesson/homework, those can be posted in OurChurch.Com’s General Internet, Computer, and Communication Discussion forum.  You will have to register an OCC username to post.  And the forums have a separate user database from this blog.

One restriction. I have one request regarding the forums – don’t post asking people to go to your blog and give you feedback.  Hear me out.  I know everyone wants feedback on their blog.  My concern is that without this restriction on Day 1 everyone posts to the forum asking for a review.  Nobody is going to review dozens of blogs in one day, and so the end result would be a lot unresponded to forum topics and a lot of frustration and disappointment.

The Reviews

I do think honest feedback can be very helpful to a blogger, and so I do want to help make that happen for as many people as possible.  This is the best way I could come up with.

  • Starting on Day 11, I’ll select 1 blog each day for all of us to review and provide feedback on.
  • I’ll select the blog that’s up for review based on participation.  The blogger who has been the biggest contributor will be selected on Day 11.  Each day after that I’ll select the biggest contributor who hasn’t yet received a review.  Selection will be based on:
    • Comments to the blog posts
    • Answering other bloggers questions in the forums
    • Providing reviews/feedback to other blogs
    • Twittering about the blog posts
    • Quality and quantity are both important.
  • I think the best way to do the reviews is to have the blogger whose blog is being reviewed to publish a post to their own blog about the review.  Include useful info like the purpose of the blog and the target audience.  Then ask the questions you’d like feedback on.
  • I’ll notify you 2 days in advance of when you’re blog is to be reviewed.  I’d like you to publish your review post the night before & then send me the URL so I can include it in the next day’s post.  Then other participants will be able to post their feedback in the comments of your post immediately.

The end result should be that the 21 bloggers who are the most serious about improving and contribute the most to others in this project will receive the benefit of a review.  Fair enough?

The Rewards

  • OurChurch.Com is going to give a year of our Silver hosting package (a $199 value) to every blogger who completes all 31 days and posts a comment to all 31 day’s posts.
  • OurChurch.Com will also give away to one lucky winner both our Christian Search Registration and Major Search Registration services (a $158 winner).  Each day a blogger participates will give them an entry in this drawing, so the more days you participate the better your chances to win.
  • Sorry, no iPods, iPads, or trips to Hawaii.

The Real Benefits – Measurable Results

The benefits of becoming a better blogger and building relationships with other bloggers through this project will far exceed the rewards mentioned above.

However, we also expect real, tangible improvements in your blog.  When you sign-up we are going to ask you for a few statistics about your blog.  Then when the project is complete, we’ll ask you for those same statistics again.  That will enable you to see how much your blog specifically has improved.  It will also give all of us the opportunity to see on average how far we’ve come as a group.
These are the things we’ll be asking for:

  • RSS subscribers
  • Average pageviews per day
  • Average visits per day
  • Average unique visitors per day
  • Average # comments
  • Rate your blogging expertise on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being a total newbie and 10 meaning you should be writing books on blogging.

If you don’t know how to find these statistics, ask about them here in the comments or in the forum.

The Sign-Up

To sign-up, complete this Google Docs form.

I contacted Mr. Darren Rowse, aka ProBlogger, author of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, and he has generously offered to give everyone who participates in this project 25% off the 31DBBB e-book.  You’ll be able to purchase it for $14.95 instead of $19.95.  After you complete the sign-up form, I’ll send you a link with a coupon code to get the discount.  You must purchase the 31DBBB e-book to participate.

You will also need to have a blog set-up, before you sign up.

If you don’t know your blogs stats, sign-up and skip those parts of the form.  We’ll help you find them & then re-input them into the form later.

EDIT 4/28/10: Partnering with HighCallingBlogs.com

I’m also excited to add that we’re going to be doing this project in partnership with HighCallingBlogs.com.  Their network includes more than 700 bloggers.  The thought of having many of them both contributing to and growing from this project has me even more amped up.

Any questions or comments?

Whew!  That was long.  But did I miss anything?  Got any questions?  Comments?  Anything you think really ought to be done differently?

What do you think?  Are you excited about the prospects of becoming a better blogger?

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

170 Responses to “Join Us and Become a Better Blogger in 31 Days”

  1. Joe, I totally understand and respect that. Here's one little tip which I have been working to do lately & might help you. Most great bloggers I know actually have a backlog of things to blog about. They read & study a lot and end up with more to write about than time to write. As they get ideas for things to write about, they put them on a list. This way they can keep a consistent schedule of blog posts even when they go through a dry spell.

  2. Understandable. The problem is, when it's time for me to write, I have to get it down right then, or else I lose it entirely. A "reminder" system just doesn't work. And the ideas don't come with enough frequency to create a backlog … at least they haven't yet.

  3. I am in as well, over from HCB.

    Worked on my elevator pitch today.

    Just to confirm as I am not clear on this… Do we contribute to the conversation in this comment section here or does all the talking happen in the forum?

  4. This sounds great…is there a way to know how many readers signed up for email delivery to your blog?

  5. Well, the plan is that each of the 31 days there will be a blog post here on the Christian Web Trends blog, and we'll all post thoughts and questions related to that day's lesson/assignment in that post's comments. All other questions not related to that day's lesson/assignment could be asked in the forums.

    However, I've noticed a lot of comments & questions in today's post that are about blogging but not specifically related to today's lesson/assignment. It seems to be working out ok, so I'm not going to force those conversations to the forums.

  6. By "your blog" I presume you mean your blog and not Christian Web Trends or my personal blog? If so, what blog platform are you using? And what service is providing the email delivery? Is it built into the blog platform or are you using a plugin or outside service?

  7. I just signed up! It took me a few days to days to do so because I'm pretty nervous about keeping up. This is because I am also hosting a challenge on my blog for the month of May (Organize 10 photos a day, and for me, post photos and my experience).

    I haven't even done my homework for day 1 yet! (it started today). I bought the ProBlogger book and it was delivered early last week, the day I read about this on @ProBlogger's page. This group is exactly what I've been hoping for. Having a blog is a lot more work then I thought, and I've been really wishing that I could have others to go through the process with so we could learn from each other. I don't know how to find all the info that was required to fill in on the form, I will read through the comments to find out how to.

    Thanks for putting this together!

  8. Hey Brooke, I'm glad you'll be joining us. It sounds as though there may be some confusion about the material though. Darren Rowse does have a new version of his book ProBlogger that just came out last week. That is not what we're using. We're using an ebook he wrote called 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. I'm sending you an email now.

  9. Paul this is so uber cool and I'm going to commit as best I can.

    Don't really need the added incentives but all is good. Should I stay the course (1hr a day is going to be tough with my crazy work / life balance) and reap a benefit, could I then give away the hosting to a.n.other? I ask because I'm happy with my hosting and not looking to move.

    Other than that anything that can help me improve is good.

    One question .. will the homework / whatever be emailed out each day? I ask as my blog reading (as you know) can get sporadic but I always check my emails.

  10. And I just realised I'm a day late anyway :-(

  11. I think "absolute unique visitors" is the number of unique visitors over the span of time in the report you're looking at. So, if a person your blog every day and you're looking at data for a month, they will only count for 1 in the "absolute unique visitors." But the number I'm really looking for is on average how many different people read your blog each day.

    I'm not looking for an exact figure but just ballpark figure. So, maybe the best way to get it would be simply to look at the visitors chart and guestimate the average from that. Hope that helps.

  12. Paul this is so uber cool and I'm going to commit as best I can.

    Don't really need the added incentives but all is good. Should I stay the course (1hr a day is going to be tough with my crazy work / life balance) and reap a benefit, could I then give away the hosting to a.n.other? I ask because I'm happy with my hosting and not looking to move.

    Other than that anything that can help me improve is good.

    One question .. will the homework / whatever be emailed out each day? I ask as my blog reading (as you know) can get sporadic but I always check my emails.

  13. I agree with Paul. This is one of those cases where Google Analytics doesn't do all the work for us.

  14. I have been thinking about blogging, but didn't have the foggiest idea as to where to start.
    I email a Daily Challenge to be a Doer of the WORD to my email list and that is SO limited and if blogging is what I think it is, perhaps a bigger audience to Challenge…exhort one another daily while it is called TODAY lest any of us be hardened through the DECEITFULNESS of sin.

  15. I have been thinking about blogging, but didn't have the foggiest idea as to where to start.
    I email a Daily Challenge to be a Doer of the WORD to my email list and that is SO limited and if blogging is what I think it is, perhaps a bigger audience to Challenge…exhort one another daily while it is called TODAY lest any of us be hardened through the DECEITFULNESS of sin.

  16. An article about the lesson/assignment is being posted here at Christian Web Trends around 7 AM Eastern each day. Then I post it to the OCC Facebook page, tweet it, and email everyone who's signed up.

    The lesson and homework for each day, however, are in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog ebook, which we're all buying from ProBlogger.net

    Don't worry about being a day behind. You can either try to catch up or skip a day, whatever, is best for you.

  17. I just got the info on this project. Will there be another opportunity to do this?

    Thank you,

    • Hey Steve, we haven't thought that far ahead. This is the first time we've done a project like this. I think it's going very well, so chances are we will do it again at some point in the future, perhaps even on a regular basis.

  18. Will you be doing this again? I really want to take part in this!!!

  19. Hi Rachel, we haven't thought that far ahead. This is the first time we've done a project like this. I think it's going very well, so chances are we will do it again at some point in the future, perhaps even on a regular basis.

  20. Just heard about this from Problogger's newsletter. I know it's over, but I would love to be a part if you do it again. Thanks for putting it together.

  21. Hey I'm hoping to start this same thing for Children's Ministry bloggers. Any tips? I was wondering if I could use your directions from this post to help set the format for our own 31 days. Thanks!

    Lindsey @ GrowingKidsMinistry.com

    • PaulSteinbrueck Aug 20, 2010 at 1:39 pm

      Hi Lindsey, sure you can use these directions. As for tips, here are a few…

      - Don't rely on people responding to the general announcement about the project. Contact bloggers individually and ask them if they would participate, particularly other bloggers who are influential in your niche.

      - Twitter can have a huge impact. If you don't already use Twitter, I would suggest signing up for an account. Then start by following others in your niche and a few Twitter experts. Just listen at first. See how they're using Twitter. Then begin to tweet & engage with them. When you're doing the project, you'll want to follow the other participants who are on Twitter and retweet some of their stuff.

      - Add social media share buttons to your site like TweetMeme, Facebook share, and Add this, so participants can share your posts.

      - Engage with the other bloggers. Comment on their comments. Comment on their blog posts. I also sent a short email out each morning letting everyone know that day's post had been published and anything else that was relevant for that day.

      Hope that helps. Please let me know when you do it, I won't participate but I'd like to see what you do, because I'm sure I would learn a few things and get a few new ideas for when we do it again here.

  22. growingkidsministry Sep 15, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Hey there. We're going to do this (inspired by you!) for Children's and Youth Ministry blogs. I asked Darren for a code, but haven't heard back. We have 7 bloggers and the challenge is to start October 1st. Do you think we could have your promo code so our participants can get started? Thanks!

  23. Sir, I though your traveling posting give ideas for preparation of our further vacation. Thanks.

  24. Yes, there is a slightest possibility that after joining one may become a better blogger or just a blogger. From my point of view, it’s better leave to professionals writing custom

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