This is part 3 of the Your Own Best Blogging Practices. Be sure to check out:
- Your Own Best Blogging Practices Part 1: Why and How to Blog
- Your Best Blogging Practices Part 2: What to Write and How
For me blogging is like a party. No one really wants to be the first guest, but someone has to be. Sometimes someone splashes news of their new blog all over my social media, but when I visit it contains only one post and a half-finished About Me page. That just screams “I got really excited about blogging one afternoon, then I got bored!”
Get the party ready before you send the invites. The key is to make it look like the party is already underway before the important guests arrive. I like to have a few posts up before I announce invite my friends. Then I coax them into making comments (hopefully something better than “Woah, dude! Nice post!!1!!!1!!”). And I am ready to start spreading the word.
Here’s how to begin:
- Make an announcement on whatever social media you use.
- Place your address in your social media profiles.
- Be sure to let friends who you are not connected with via social media know about your blog.
- Add your address to your email signature line.
- Go to the message boards and social media site your audience uses and post invitations there.
Building and Monitoring Traffic
Once you have launched, you need to keep working on building and engaging you audience. WordPress lets you publicize each post to the big social media sites automatically if you want. Again, you don’t need them all. Pick the ones you are most comfortable using and the ones your audience is most likely to use. For me, given my social media use and my best guess for how my intended audience uses it, that means just Facebook and Twitter, although I have to confess, I am not doing much with Twitter right now.
This process is ongoing. Sometimes it can squeeze out your writing and posting time. Sometimes you can forget to do it at all and you end up wondering where everyone went. Build this into your schedule just like you do writing. Plan on spending about half as much time doing this as you do writing and posting.
Take another look at your audience. What blogs do they go to? Follow them or bookmark the ones you like. Be aspirational. Follow the folks you want to be like when you grow up. Be generous. Follow the people who remind you of yourself when you were young and foolish (even if that was yesterday). Make comments on posts you like. Link back to them. “Like” them. Hopefully bloggers will return the favor and you can start a conversation. This will get your name and blog out in the community. Include a link back to your blog if it is relevant.
Take your topics list and go to WordPress reader. There you will be able to search on your topics. Do a Google search on those topics. Repeat the process of following and commenting. Then move on to social media.
It is easy to check your visitor statistics on WordPress. Notice when your visits spike and what you did just before that. I recently got a huge spike for posting a link to a post on the NaNoWriMo* Facebook page. Nobody loves reading about writing more than writers. I should know.
Check your stats every so often, but don’t obsess. Some bloggers pursue visitors as if they were the end, not the means. We all want people to read our blogs. But do we want 5000 random people who follow everyone in the hopes everyone will follow them back? Or do we want 500 readers who are interested in what we have to say and might hire us or buy our books or add value to our blogs? Treat your readers like valued customers, not fake internet money you earned on Blogville.
A blog can feel like a huge hungry beast you need to feed with endless ideas and words. Hopefully these tips and ideas can help tame the beast and make it do your bidding, whatever that may be.