Making a Place for Yourself in the Blogosphere, Part 2
So, you've become a blogger. Now that your creation is up and running, what do you need to help it thrive and grow? Quality content, of course -- and the passion to produce it day in and day out. Then there's the matter of cultivating an audience. One very effective way to drive traffic to your blog is by posting links on social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Part 1 of this series on getting started with blogging addresses factors to consider when setting up a blog, such as platforms, hosting and design.
Once all the technical steps have been accomplished and your blog is up and operating, it is time to start adding content on a regular basis and integrating it with social media.
"Keep at it. Even though content can sometimes be a chore, it's important to put out fresh content every day," said Char Suri, editor in chief of Butterflydiary.com, a beauty blog.
"Be passionate -- create a voice and develop it," she told TechNewsWorld. "Content is king. If you have good content, you will have loyal readers, period."
There is always time to make needed adjustments to the blog later, and the format at the start is not as important as developing its content, said Vlad Zachary, chief executive officer of Career BlackBoard, a startup that delivers career services.
"If I had a budget for a blog, I would spend it all driving traffic to it," Zachary told TechNewsWorld. "Content is king, but quality is queen," he added, noting that volume is not a big concern for him. Instead, look for ways to provoke discussions, he advised, noting that emotion encourages people to interact with blogs and re-post entries.
Making Your Blog Social
When readers repost links on other social media websites, it helps drive traffic to your blog, Zachary explained. As soon as he finishes a new blog post he provides links on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to try and engage his readers.
"I try to do it in a way that encourages people to re-post," Zachary said.
Connecting blogs with social media also provides different entry points for readers, said Susan Gunelius, president and CEO of KeySplash Creative and author of Spread the Word: Social Media Marketing in 30 Minutes a Day.
"If the blog content is amazing, people are going to want to share it," Gunelius told TechNewsWorld, noting that when people share blog posts, it provides more incoming links to the blog, which leads to the blog ranking higher on search engine results.
"A blog is a powerful tool for appearing in people's searches," she said.
Do not get bogged down in trying to use every social media tool on the market, warned Gunelius. "Find the ones that you enjoy using. Otherwise, the passion for your business won't shine through. If you hate the tool, you are not going to use it."
With all the attention focused on the different forms of social media, email is often overlooked as another important medium to stay in contact with blog readers, said Scott Fox, author of e-Riches 2.0: Next Generation Online Marketing Strategies.
"If you are trying to blog for business, email is where business people spend most of their time," Fox told TechNewsWorld. "You need to build an email list."
Make sure and include a request for email addresses on your blog. "The sooner you start building the email list, the sooner you can start sending e-newsletters," he said, suggesting online tools sucha as ConstantContact, AWeber or FeedBlitz for the purpose.
Keeping Your Content Fresh
Focus on a topic you have an interest in for the blog and commit to a regular publishing schedule, Fox advised, because once a blog is up and running, thinking of original ideas is often hard.
"The key is to figure out what your audience wants," he said.
One way to learn what your audience is interested in is by looking at your old posts. Which ones generated the most traffic? Which ones had the most comments? And which of your blog posts did your readers re-post the most on social media outlets? Finding out the answers to these questions might help generate new ideas, Fox suggested.
Another good way to stay on top of your topics of interest is to use Google Alerts, which provides updates on keywords that you select, said Fox. Google Alerts will then send you all the latest news articles and blog posts on your chosen topics each day.
"Really try to do something that you like," Fox stressed. "You'll have more fun, and that will be more obvious to your readers."
Having a clear theme for your blog will also help the content ideas to flow faster, said Lorrie Thomas, CEO of Web Marketing Therapy.
Including interviews in your blog posts is also a good way to update content. The interviews with experts in your topic area can be conducted by email and you can have a pre-set template with questions ready to send out, Thomas told TechNewsWorld.
"Be a content aggregator. Don't write it all yourself," she said, adding that you can refer to other articles and blogs. Also include other people, Thomas suggested -- whether it is others on staff or invited guest bloggers -- to help take the pressure off you.
Staying Out of Trouble
It is better to think about potential legal problems concerning blogging sooner than later.
"There is this blind assumption that the First Amendment gives you clearance to do what ever you want," Shaefer told TechNewsWorld, noting that bloggers are accountable to copyright and trademark laws, as well as civil and criminal laws.
The Communications Decency Act is also something a blogger needs to understand, Schaefer said.
"It is more powerful at this point than the First Amendment when it comes to your blog," he said. "The smallest blog can get national attention."