There are many hurdles in the blogging process, but if we assume that you’ve created a blog and have the will to write, how do you make your thoughts heard above the general chatter of the blogosphere? In the majority of cases the purposes/goals of any new blog are going to be based around increasing exposure/traffic/enquires/purchases etc, even if you are not out to make money, what will matter is who reads when you publish.
Building a following or any sense of authority within blogging can be a challenging and lengthy process and it is during this time where most will become disillusioned and give up. But if you’re serious about establishing yourself as a serious and credible blogger, the following tips may help.
Identify your Niche and Write about it.
Whilst it is probably well assumed that being able to write compelling content is the highest factor in building your authority, but really this is just the foundation of your blogging process. More than that, however, you are going to have keep to regular and dedicated content production to show you have a library of work which you want to be known by.
More to the point though you should really try and focus what your niche (or Unique selling Point) is going to be. Whilst it is well and good writing about a wide range of subjects, the chances of your building authority as a generalist or all-round good writer is much slimmer because you are not speaking to anyone in particular. If you can build yourself a strong position in a particular niche and make a name for yourself, you can begin to expand from there.
What to Write?
Take an existing topic and turn it on it’s head, view it from a different angle or prospective – it can lead to unexpected results which you can build a name for yourself with.
- Take issue with something someone else has said – don’t be an ass about it, but don’t be afraid to disagree with someone and certainly don’t be afraid to tell them about it. You can build some quite fruitful relationships by reading, understanding and disputing what other experts are saying.
- Just write something – this isn’t meant to be vague or flippant, but I really can’t stress enough how important being proactive with your content is. This is the bread and butter of blogging, but it’s where far too many people fail and give up.
Being a successful blogger is based very heavily on who you know and where these contacts will take you. Unless you’re lucky enough to start out with a big break or a ready and waiting audience, you are going to have to get help your peers along the way. Find who are blogging in a similar area to you, reach out to them say “hi”, start a discussion, get your name out there. This will usually begin with posting comments on another blog itself, but the power of social media has meant that this will likely be one of the most used tools in the process.
What you mustn’t do is start sending links to the most prominent writers in your field expecting them to give you coverage to all their followers – they are probably inundated with such requests and end up ignoring the vast majority. This networking phase can seem very cynical, only making contacts to further your own success, but this doesn’t mean it has to be this way. If you have any passion or interest for the area you are blogging about these contacts you’ll make are your peers and share the same interests as you too!
If you make the networking too conspicuous and cynical, however, making friends will be difficult and chances are that you’ll just alienate the people who hope will help you in the future.
Once you’ve made some contacts, shown that you know a thing or two, then you’ll be ready to start showing them examples of your own work and seeking sharing opportunities.
Where to network?
- Google – search for the subject area which you are working in, this is the best starting point. Be warey though, because those results found highest in the search results are going to be the highest profile bloggers in that space and providing there is any significant traffic in this niche, they might be too big/busy to listen to your approaches from the beginning. Head to page 3, 4 and 5, look for bloggers who have similar interest and greater exposure (even only slightly) and start reaching out to them.
- Social Networks – similar to the above point (and frankly the most obvious here!), social networks are probably one of the best ways of being seen, by bloggers big and small. Reply to tweets of your peers, retweet others, and share relevant links you think they might like – show them your face without making a nuisance of yourself.
- In person – The best relationships you can forge will be the ones you make in person. Go to conferences, business meetings, pre-made networking sessions. This is how people have made contacts for decades and is a much more proven method than the above two points. A conversation with the right person over a drink may open more doors than months of tweets or comments.
Much of your time building your name as a blogger is not going to be blogging on your site. Echoing the sentiments above, the content is only the start – building up your reach and exposure needs to start elsewhere. Once you’ve networked and made some connections, people may asking you to write an article or two for them, or failing that, you will be in a better position to offer up some content for them.
This effectively is guest blogging, and because of the more spammy end of the SEO spectrum it has started to feel somewhat tainted – however, when done well guest blogging can be one of the most powerful tools in building your presence online. You as the blogger get to share your thoughts with a new and larger audience (as well as gaining link back to your site) and the website publishing your blog will gain the benefit of your expertise and well written content.
Where do I Blog?
Is the blog relevant? – If there is some overlap between your subject and the blog you want to write for, you’re going in the right direction, not to mention the fact that you are more likely to have your request accepted.
- Is the blog bigger than yours? – Focusing on visitors alone isn’t the greatest approach, but if you’re trying to increase your own reach, naturally a larger audience is going to be a better opportunity.
- What is the blog’s reputation like? – Fans of blogs are usually a loyal bunch, likewise, the feelings surrounding some of the larger blogs can be highly polarised between those who love it and those who loathe it. If you get a big blogging opportunity you should consider what it will do for your reputation, whilst some clearly think any exposure is better than none at all – bad PR is extremely hard to manage and could ruin you before you even begin.
Here are some final nuggets of information to set you upon your way, there’s a lot more to learn, but this will help you get off to a better start (rather learning these lessons a few years in like I did!).
- Use one profile image – preferably one of yourself and use it across all the channels you post on. Some would prefer to just use an avatar or picture they’re fond of, but people respond much better to a real face.
- Use your real name (or realistic pseudonym) – be consistent and be a real person, again, if you’re building relationships you want to show people you are a real person.
- Use Authorship – If you haven’t created a Google+ account and setup authorship, you could well be missing out on one of the largest innovations in search for a little while – don’t be left behind.
- Be patient – this all won’t happen at once, take easy steps and pace yourself. There will be moments of greater activity and moments of slowness – take the rough with the smooth and most of all stick with it!