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Hey there friends, it’s Darren Rowse from ProBlogger here. Welcome to episode 280 of the ProBlogger podcast. 

Hey there friends, it’s Darren Rowse from ProBlogger here. Welcome to episode 280 of the ProBlogger podcast. 

It’s been a while since we chatted and I do apologize for that, I needed a little time to get my headspace right and work on a couple of other projects, but I’m glad to be back. I’m particularly glad to be back at this time that we find ourselves in. We currently find ourselves in a bit of a crazy time with COVID-19, CoronaVirus, and all that it is meaning for us in the world we’re living in. We’re seeing so many people impacted, the economy impacted, and we’re seeing lots of new things, or at least they’re new to some people. We’re seeing a lot of people now having to work at home, something that many of us, as bloggers, have been doing for a while.

Today, what I want to talk a little bit about is how we navigate this time as bloggers. How do we, as bloggers, not only keep our businesses going, but how do we actually do something to serve our world where there’s so much need at the moment. I jumped on to Facebook Live earlier today and shared my thoughts on that. 

What I want to share with you today is a recording of that Facebook Live. I did a bit of teaching in the middle of that. I talked a little bit about what the world doesn’t need right now, what the world does need right now, and why we, as bloggers, are actually ideally positioned to make a difference. I want to give you some practical thoughts on how to go about that. Some things to keep in mind, some things to avoid, also just tackling that tricky question of how do we actually make it a win-win for our audience and for us without seeming selfish in the midst of that as well, and actually about how not to be selfish in the midst of that as well.

There are some of the things I cover in the recording I’m about to play for you. I just want to say though right up front, I hope you’re doing well. I’m doing well, I’ve had a bit of a scare and I’ll talk about that in the recording today, over the last week or so, but I hope you’re doing well. I really do want to emphasize the point that I make numerous times in this recording that I hope you look after yourself in this time. 

We need you to look after yourself. If you are going to make a difference, if you’re going to use your blogging, your online profile to make the world a better place, right now we need you to look after yourself as well. I hope you’re doing well and I hope you do take seriously the question I pose of you in this recording: what can we do at ProBlogger to serve you better through this time? Is there something that you are facing right now in your blogging that you’d like some content to be produced to help you to navigate that challenge.

If you would like to drop me a line, my team a line, you can send an email to help@problogger.com and that will go to our support team. We’ll put it in front of the person who is best able to help if we can, and hopefully that will inform some content going forward. If you do want to stay in touch with this, head over to our Facebook Page, facebook.com/problogger, and you will get any future Facebook Lives and updates from there. We’ve got our email newsletter which is still going out every week over in ProBlogger that you can sign up for. If you want the show notes today, head over to problogger.com/podcast/280. I’ll come back at the end of this recording and wrap things up. Thanks for listening!

Hi there everyone, it’s Darren from ProBlogger here. Welcome to the ProBlogger Podcast, also welcome to those of you who are watching this live. I am going live onto Facebook today while I’m recording. Because I think it is an important topic and it’s one that I do want to get our communities input in as well. Our love viewers may have some thoughts to share that I will include in the podcast as well as if I think they’re relevant. 

Obviously, we’re going through uncharted waters right now with this whole COVID-19, CoronaVirus, thing. As I was just saying on the live Facebook, this is something that most of us haven’t been through before. We have not really done pandemics, at least in my lifetime. There’s certainly been health crisis in different parts of the world and we can learn from people who’ve gone through those, but this is new for us all. We’re all finding our way.

One of the things I do want to say right up front is that it is a chaotic time. Here in Australia we’re moving towards social isolation, we’re seeing different parts of the world people going into lockdowns. There’s chaos happening right now, but I tweeted the other day that in the midst of chaos always comes invention, always come innovation, always comes entrepreneurship. I mean entrepreneurship not just in terms of making money, but entrepreneurship really is about seeing a problem and solving that problem. Usually in a win-win kind of way for people who have that problem and also the people creating the solution. Once we’re going into a term of chaos, we’re also going to see some real innovation at the moment.

Just yesterday, I saw one of my friends on Facebook saying that they were working on 3D printing of ventilators. Ventilators are going to be something that there’s shortage of in different parts of the world in hospitals and he wanted to come out with a way of 3D printing a ventilator. I don’t know how he’s going to go with that, but he said there are communities already getting together to 3D print medical supplies. This is innovation happening right before us as a response to the chaos and the need around us. Whilst it is an uncertain time, whilst there’s also a lot of fear, my hope is that we as humanity are going to respond with innovation, invention and it is my hope as bloggers that we can be a part of that.

That’s one of the big themes of what I want to talk about today, is that whilst this is tough, there’s a lot of fear, there’s a lot of pain, there’s a lot of sickness going on, hopefully we can meet that as a community and that’s my challenge to us today. Let me talk a little bit about what I think the world doesn’t need right now. I want us to keep this in the back of our mind as we think about what we can do, let’s start with what the world doesn’t need right now. 

I don’t think we need bad information right now. There’s a lot of information flying around and I don’t think we, as bloggers, need to add to that, unless we have some expertise already. One of the things I’d encourage us all to do is to resist the temptation to just share whatever we see on Facebook, but to really fact check and to leave it to the experts to share that and to find credible sources of information that we can share. But certainly unless you’ve got the expertise, I really want to say up front, we need to be really careful about that. 

I don’t think the world needs right now is more hype or more messaging about COVID-19. There’s so much going out there. We really want to be restrained in how much content we do share right now on this particular topic and we really want to avoid hype. The other thing the world doesn’t need right now is more fear. Fear is a healthy thing, fear is a signal to us that something important is happening, something that might hurt us, but at the same time what the world does need right now is some hope and we can be a part of that. I don’t think we need empty memes, I don’t think the world needs manipulation right now, to buy more stuff. What the world needs is some practical support. My hope is that we can be involved in that.

What does the world need right now? Hope, practical solutions to problems that are emerging. I don’t just mean health solutions, I think there are all kinds of problems emerging right now. For example, I’ve seen problems in our community around shortages of food, I’ve seen problems in our community of people who are feeling isolated and lonely. These are problems that the world needs solutions for and we’re beginning to see that innovation happen. The world right now needs places where we can come together, and where community and belonging can happen, particularly in this time where physically people are becoming isolated, the world needs perhaps some virtual spaces and some safe spaces where they can find that belonging. The world needs people who are skilled at working online right now.

I really want to emphasize this, even in the last two days I’ve had three different organizations contact me and say, “We need your help.” My church, they want to move all their stuff online and we’re seeing this all over the place. Schools are moving online. Some of them don’t have any infrastructure really set up. Our churches and places of worship are doing it, not for profits. I had a not for profit email me in the last 24 hours saying, “How do we move online? As a team to work online, but also how do we move our communications online as well.” Because they’re not able to do events. We’re seeing community groups move on. There’s a lot of stuff moving online. The world right now needs people who have experience and who have the skills and the tools to go online. As bloggers, many of us are ideally situated for that.

Here is the thing, as bloggers, we are ideally situated to serve our world right now. Here are few other reasons why I think we are ideally placed to be a part of solutions right now. Firstly, we have technology already set up. Most of us already have our blogs, most of us already have the tools, the computers, the cameras, the microphones, the lights to create content. We’ve already got that stuff at our fingertips. We’re used to using it already. Even just the fact that we’ve got our smartphones, but we already have the apps probably on our smartphones to create content. The world needs this skillset. 

We’ve got the technology, we’ve got audiences. We already have networks established. We’ve got trust, influence, and reach of our audiences. There’s potential there to influence and to have an impact upon those audiences. We’ve got experience at managing communities, we’ve got experience of communicating, of writing. These are the skills that our world is going to need right now and we have a variety of skills with technology in the online space as well.

As bloggers, I want to encourage you to see yourself as a resource that our world really needs right now. What do we need to do as bloggers and as people with some of these skills. Firstly, I want to encourage you to tap into your community. If you haven’t already, get into your community and just check in with them. Ask them, “How are you?” I did this at the start of the live video today. How are you? What are the needs that you’re facing right now that I can support you with? As ProBlogger, we want to support our bloggers through this process. You need to tell us what we need to deliver to you. We’ve already been hearing people ask questions around how do I work at home with kids around? How do I make a difference to my community? We’re trying to create content for that.

I want to encourage you to ask those two questions of your audience. How are you going and how can I serve you better through this crisis? Share your story. I think it’s really important to share your story of how you’re approaching this situation. A couple of days ago, I shared on Facebook about how I went through social isolation. I had a bit of a scare with the CoronaVirus having gone overseas and had to go to the doctor and get a Corona test. Thankfully I’m clear and I’m fine. I shared that story on my Facebook page. Share your stories as much as you can. 

Even if you haven’t had direct contact with COVID-19, you can do that. My wife, Vanessa, yesterday shared a Facebook post about how she’s preparing for COVID-19. She had so many positive comments about that. Particularly her post was around preparing with family and kids. Share your story.

Look at what other people are doing in your niche. This is something that we really need to do as bloggers, is actually join with others in our niche to tackle these problems. You might have a hundred readers and another blogger might have a hundred readers, and together you could create something that’s going to impact 200 people that you couldn’t have created by yourselves. 

Also, we’re going to find that a lot of us are doing the same sort of things. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel every time we want to communicate something. We should be joined together, collaborating, creating things together, supporting what each other are doing, of same bloggers doing this already with raising money and other types of things as well. Share what others in your niche and others are doing on your blog. Look offline as well for how you can use your influence, your experience, your skills. For me, this has been about in the last 24 hours volunteering some of my time and some of my expertise.

I’ve got a friend who started a Facebook group called Love Your Neighbor Melbourne, it was called. She basically set this group up to try and give practical support to people who might have a need. There’s a lot of people in Melbourne and other parts of the world who can’t get toilet paper right now or can’t get nappies for their kids right now. This group, people are saying, “I need this,” and other people are saying, “I’ve got this.” And they are putting them together. Her group went very quickly to a few hundred people and in the last 2 days, got to over 5000, it’s probably up over 6000 people now. She’s never run a Facebook group before, she just had this idea, set it up. 

There’s now 10 Facebook groups of different parts of Australia all doing this thing, and she’s out of her depths. I volunteered some of my time to sit with her and to talk to her. I’m going to do that again this afternoon. Have a look around of what’s going on that you can participate in, that you can bring your skills, experience, advice to.

Another one for me is my local church, they’re moving all online. Our local schools are moving all online. There are opportunities there for me. It’s not going to bring anything to my blog, not doing it for that reason, but as bloggers, we’ve got skills that our world needs right now. Consider volunteering and giving some of those things. 

They are some things that I would encourage you to do. As you are creating content for your audience, be really careful about the advice you give. I said right at the start, we need to encourage our audience with good advice and send them to reputable sources. Spend some extra time fact checking and finding good advice. I don’t think the world needs lots of opinions or maybe advice, right now they need actually good advice, particularly when it pertains to health.

Avoid manipulating your audiences. I’ve seen a few people recently doing CoronaVirus sales on things. I’m like, “What is that about?” If your product actually is going to help people through some of the practical needs they have, that’s fine. But the world doesn’t need a CoronaVirus sale now on things that really aren’t going to help people right now. This is not an excuse to do marketing to your audience. I do think as business owners, it’s okay to keep marketing right now. We need to provide income for our families, pay our staff, but we also want to be generous right now as well. Share information that you’re qualified to give, don’t trade in fear, try not to be greedy right now, but to be generous.

One of the questions I’ve got here to talk about is, “Can we monetize at this time?” Touched on that already. We do need to walk that fine line between being generous and also making a living. Really, my big advice here is to look for win-wins. Your audience has needs and problems right now, and you have some as well, you need to feed your family. If you can find some win-wins, ways of being generous, but also ways to sustain yourself during this time, that is a really important thing. Do get that balance right. 

Of all we do over the next 3, 6, 12 months, however long this is going to last, is serve our audience, but we don’t actually serve our families and ourselves, our bodies, then we’re not going to last 12 months. But if what we do is feed ourselves right now, then we’re going to end up with no audience as well because they’re not going to stand for that, they’re going to be looking to you for answers and truth and help right now. Go get that balance right.

Lastly, please be safe, please look after yourselves, please care for those around you, look after your neighbors, be wise in the way that you interact with people, and be generous as much as possible. The big thing that I learned suspending two days by myself in some social isolation while I had my test was that I really appreciated the little things that people did for me. Those little check ins with messages, the little gifts, and things that people dropped in, those things are really important and I encourage you to be looking after your neighbors, and your friends, and your networks, and your audience in those ways as much as possible.

Lastly, please let us know if we can serve you in some way. Please let us know if you have a problem, particularly in your blogging right now, so that we can provide some content for you. We would love to be a part of your journey and resourcing you as best we can right now to serve your audience and your families as well through your blogs. If you’re listening to the podcast, I’m going to wrap things up now and then I’m going to dig into some of the comments and questions from my Facebook Live people. Thanks for listening to the podcast. I know it’s been a while since we’ve had an episode. I am planning some new ones to come out soon, but I wanted to get this one up as soon as possible. Thanks for listening and we’ll chat with you in the next episode.

Hi, it’s just Darren again. I’m going to jump into this point because at this point I did finish the teaching that I prepared and we went into a bit of a Q&A where people shared their ideas, their questions, their thoughts on the situation. So much good stuff happened in that Q&A that I thought I would just put it here at the end of this episode for you if you are interested. We particularly did talk a little bit about that balancing act of monetizing your blog through this period, that comes up a few times in this question and answer. Someone asked me about the lights that I’m using in my Facebook Live. There’s a variety of questions there. It’s not as focused on the topic at hand, but I wanted to include it for those of you who want a little bit more over this particular issue. If that’s of interest to you, that will play right to the end of this episode. But I did want to just jump in and let you know that’s what’s happening. 

Just to remind you that you can head over to problogger.com/podcast/280 and there’s a full transcript of the show today. Anyway, back to the Q&A.

Okay, everyone on the live, thanks for letting me ignore you for a little while. I’ve seen a lot of your comments going up. Has any of this been helpful? If you’ve got any questions, have you got any comments, have you got any things that you’ve been doing on your blog that have helped your audience, now’s the time to pop them in. Just having a little look back through the comments. Good to see so many comments, thank you everyone for your comments. 

Amy from Adelaide, “Stuck in isolation with a kid and dogs. Send help.” Hey, Amy, you should check out the Love Your Neighbor group. There’s a South Australia one and I encourage you to check that one out. Just search for Love Your Neighbor South Australia, one of my friends is setting that up, or a friend of a friend. Apparently, it’s going really well. 

Sonia is saying, “In Ontario, schools and universities close for three weeks.” It’s going to be weeks, it could be months. We got to brace ourselves for the long term. Like I was saying, we’re going to look after ourselves if we’re going to sustain ourselves through this time as well.

Ronel is saying, “The video and audio is great. Love it. What type of lights are you using?” I’m just using these little Neewer, they’re light panels. Paul, good to see you, mate. 

Sharon from Michigan has tuned in. Good to see you, too. Sharon says, “I’d like to post some tips since I’ve worked from home a long time, but I don’t want to look opportunistic. Any tips?” I just think share them. As long as you’re not saying, “Pay me for my tips. I’ve got secrets and I’m not going to tell you.” People are more than happy to learn on that front. We are going to do a post, possibly a podcast, possibly a live video on some tips that we’ve learned, we actually asked in our Facebook group and on our Facebook page for our audience to give their tips. I’m going to share some of those as well. That may be another way to do it, is to actually get some tips from different sources so it doesn’t look like it’s just you. As long as you’re generous and genuine with your information, people would find that useful.

Jason, good to see you from South Korea. Hope you’re doing well over there. Hey, Simon, good to see you. Jason says, “I’m happy to be here as I lost all my teaching jobs here due to the virus. So I am needing some ways to recoup the finances from home.” You are not the only one. I’ve actually noticed quite a few people now looking to blogging, setting up blogs for the first time. If that’s you, we have a free start a blog course which you can find on problogger.com. Go over there if you need help in getting the blog up on the internet. I think this is a great time to start a blog, the world does need your advice. If you’re a teacher, then you’ve got some skills that are going to be useful to a lot of people right now because they are moving into new ways of teaching people.

Jason, good to see you. That’s what I’m feeling too. “In the bible, the beginning was chaos.” Yes, this is one of the ideas of out of chaos comes good things and that is certainly a part of different faith traditions, it’s also a reality in science as well. I think it’s a reality in lots of areas of life. Out of chaos, out of crisis, is opportunity not just to get, but to give, and to invent, and innovate as humanity. We are going to see some amazing innovation over the next little while. 

Tricia, good to see you. Carla says, “Hey, Darren. We’ve decided to make Merry Body completely free until first of April 2020, no credit card required.” Excellent! “Purely decided that if we could do something, we must do something. So we thought to offer unlimited yoga, pilates, and meditation.” That’s great! A lot of people are going to be doing it over the next little while. We’re going to see those acts of generosity, that’s what the world really needs right now.

The world also needs some ways to spend its time that isn’t just consuming news about COVID-19. There’s going to be a lot of people sitting at home looking for stuff to do. Yoga, that type of stuff, meditation, that’s all good stuff that people will be wanting and needing right now. Well done, Carla for that. 

Jason says, “Less fear, less propaganda, less conspiracy theories, less political rhetoric, more solutions.” Great, I’m glad that resonated with you, Jason. 

Sonia is saying, “I manage a neighborhood watch group with 135 members and I developed a Facebook group where we can socialize while we are self-isolating. We share our favorite movies, books, and reminiscing.” This is brilliant. This is one of the things that I was saying before, we need to solve problems and meet the needs of people, but those needs are not just health related. Certainly, that’s a big need right now, but our world needs to solve the problem of isolation and loneliness right now. What we’re seeing with Facebook groups and all kinds of things emerging is people creating solutions for that. Well done, good on you.

Jason says, “What I am doing here in Korea is to help expats who can’t speak Korean understand the warnings and precautions. We brought the local community and foreign together and participation is quite high.” Great! That’s fantastic! There must be a lot of people right now who are feeling isolated from their homes, people who are trapped in different places because they’re unable to travel. I think that’s a great need as well. Excellent. 

Aleya’s saying, “Very helpful, great.” Simon says “Very helpful, great.” Sherry, thank you for your comments, Paul as well, Tricia. Tricia says, “I told my viewers that I was just going to carry on as normal.” I think that’s a completely good way to go. Maybe, just acknowledging what people are going through and then providing good information on whatever it is that you blog about is what they need.

I think people need normal as well right now. It is going to get to a point where we are going to be overwhelmed with information about COVID-19 and we need some other stuff going in as well. I think that is a service that you can offer, Tricia. Well done. “Give them a sense of normalcy.” There you go, you just said exactly what I said.” 

Ronel says, “Thanks for the feedback.” You’re welcome. Sonia is saying, “There’s lots of virtual museums and other attractions you can visit your families online.” Brilliant, yes. We’re going to start seeing more of them, I think. As real life museums have to deal with the fact that they are empty, I reckon that’s another place that’s going to start thinking, “How can we serve our audiences? How can we sustain ourselves?” We’re going to see creativity in that space as well. This is why the world needs creatives, they need content producers, they’re going to need us. Position yourself to be on the other end of that.

Lani shared that start a blog course, if you are looking to start a blog right now. problogger.com/startablog, it’s free and I would love for that to go viral right now and to see thousands of blogs start up because of that. Again, you’ve got lots of time in your hands. This is a great time to start a blog, but also the world needs your content. 

Sonia is saying, “I will post these virtual tours after this isn’t live. I’ll also post links to education curriculum sites.” Brilliant, I think that will serve your audience well. Aleya is saying, “I was planning a week of giveaways in my private Facebook this week. I decided to stick with it and the feedback so far was good. Group members are grateful for something fun in the midst of everything. I’m making the prizes practical and relevant. Still addressing the virus in the group so there is balance there.” Brilliant! That’s great. The world does need fun right now. If you can solve that need, then that is brilliant. I could do some of that myself if I had time for it.

Diana says, “Hi!” I’m saying hi back. “Going alone, I’d given for my business.” Yes, I think so. I was actually talking to my PT, who you know, I think, Andy, and I was saying to him he needs to start doing some classes online because there’s going to be a lot of people at home in their lounge rooms, with their families watching Netflix. That’s good for Netflix, but the world’s going to need someone to actually get us up off the couch and start moving around, and training us, and giving us a little bit of exercise and some practical things we could do with our body weight. Brilliant! 

Sharon says, “I just published a post about homeschooling in a pandemic. I’ve been homeschooling for years. Hopefully it will help parents have some ideas about where to start.” Brilliant! I’m seeing a few others doing the same things. Check out what other people are doing, maybe you can create a homeschool education video service where you actually give kids a math lesson or something like that. I don’t know.

One of my friends, Erin Chase, I think it was this morning, she has a site about preparing $5 meals. Someone will get the link for me. But she got her kids with her and part of what she does is she creates recipes for people and shows them how to eat cheaply. She actually got her boys in the kitchen with her and they started making stuff. I think they’re going to do daily recipes and walk people through. She’s involving her kids in creating some content, giving them something to do, giving them some skills about communicating and presenting. She’s also building a business in doing that. She’s actually found a way to give her kids something to do, continue having a business, and also serve her readers because her readers are looking for recipe ideas to cook during these times. Brilliant example of meeting some of those ways of doing things.

Sherry says, “I would like to offer a tip to check your pre scheduled social media posts to make sure they still work with the new reality and are anti-insensitive.” Yes! I think that’s a brilliant idea. A lot of us do have that sort of automated social media stuff going on. Some of those social messaging might not be relevant. Maybe there’s references in there that you put in there thinking they’d be interpreted one way and maybe they’re not at the moment, so that’s a great tip. 

Susan saying, “I am trying to do my bit to help. Currently working on a series of articles, publishing them as I go about how people can make money staying at home and then afterwards, I’ll post something about how they can enjoy themselves, self-care from home. Brilliant, I think that’s great. Particularly if that’s the kind of need your audience has and are asking for content on. Angela, good to see you, love your work too, hope you’re doing well. River says, “The tricky thing is first not looking like you’re trying to cash in on the situation. And secondly, are people going to be able to afford to buy what we produce whether it’s a course or checklist of videos, series, etc.” Interesting times. You have nailed it there. It’s not an easy line to walk.

Really, it’s about being as generous as you can for free, and that builds trust, it builds influence, and those who are able to afford hopefully will be able to reward you for that in some way as well. Whether it be now or whether it be in the future when they’re back on their feet, it all does help. If you’ve walked with someone for free through crosses, they’re not able to pay you, they will come back at some point. 

I actually met someone yesterday in this Love Your Neighbor group that I’m a part of, he was helped in really practical ways. Two women brought him nappies for his child. It was really moving to watch this community service guy. He obviously can’t afford much at the moment, but within an hour of him having those nappies given to him by strangers, he was offering boxes of tissues back into the group. He had access to something. He was moved from being skeptical and a bit scared probably to ask for help to being generous by the act of someone else being generous to him. 

The same happens as bloggers. I’ve seen it time and time again, when you help and you walk through a problem with someone, that doesn’t always have a payoff straight away, but it can have a payoff way down the track. Take a long term view of it as well.

It is a wonderful group, check it out, Love Your Neighbor. There’s Love Your Neighbor Melbourne, there’s Love Your Neighbor Gold Coast, there’s Love Your Neighbor South Australia. In fact, there’s going to be multiple South Australian groups, there’s lots of them already.

Okay, thank you everyone for your comments. We have had more than we usually do. I’m not going to take any more of your time up. I have appreciated your comments, your ideas, I may actually just present the whole lot of this as the podcast to our listeners. Check it out again, if you want to get started, you can go back and watch the video again or go and check out the podcast in a couple of days.

Sonia says, “Yes, you’re right. One of my neighborhood watch members offered me a job because she loved the regular newsletters I sent out for my community.” Perfect example. Generosity, maybe it’s karma, some people might describe that as karma. I think it’s just reciprocation. As human beings, we tend to pay people back, we tend to pay attention to people who help us. That’s just the way we are wired. All right, thanks everyone! Do stay healthy. I do encourage you to look after yourselves and those around you and then with whatever energy you’ve got left, throw it out into the wide world. 

It’s great to connect with you and we look forward to chatting with you soon. Lastly, if you do have any needs right now, any ideas for content that you want some help with, let us know in the comments as well and send us an email through our contact form. Thanks everyone! Chat soon!

Photo by Jametlene Reskp on Unsplash