This is the second part of a series (inspired by a recent speaking engagement) to help new bloggers take the most essential steps for marketing their blogs effectively. For seasoned bloggers, these are also good points to review.
As noted in my previous post, I don’t typically write these sorts of “how-to” posts, but I am realizing that, given my own belief that blogging is an amazing learning tool, I should do more of them. There is no better way to learn than to try to coherently articulate what you think you know.
Anyway, here’s the third imperative for marketing and growing your blog:
Connect with other bloggers
In my personal experience, building relationships with other bloggers has been one of the best ways to boost exposure as well as to make blogging more rewarding in general.
Simply by reading other blogs, commenting on them, and linking to them I have gotten to know some interesting people, learned a lot from them, and greatly increased the chances that they will point others my way. Even in cases where I have little or no dialogue with the other blogger, I can still make sure she is aware of me, develop new ideas for my own posts, and potentially attract traffic to my blog by commenting on or tracking back to posts on her blog.
Finding other bloggers
So how do you identify other bloggers with whom you might want to connect? There are a number specialized blog search engines and directories on the Web where it is possible to find blogs for just about any industry or topic. Technorati and Blog Catalog are two well-known options. My personal preference is Google Blog Search, and I recommend trying it first.
Try searching on words or phrases that are relevant to the types of things you blog about and see what comes up. If for example, I search on the phrase “learning 2.0” – a topic I happen to write a fair amount about – Google returns a list of related blogs as well as popular blog entries on “learning 2.0.”
In this example, Zaid Ali Alsagoff, a Malaysian blogger who writes at ZaidLearn shows up at the top of the list – suggesting that he is someone who has some authority when it comes to “learning 2.0.” And there are also many other interesting blogs listed in the first two or three pages of the search results, any of which might represent good possibilities for connecting with another blogger.
The next step is to pay a visit to these blogs, read some of the entries, and identify a handful of bloggers with whom it seems most valuable to establish a connection. (You’ll want to expand the list over time, but start with just a few.)
Commenting on other blogs
This part of my post is a bit like one of those cooking shows where the host whips together all the ingredients, puts the dish in the oven, and then pulls out a fully cooked version from a second oven.
As it happens, I found Zaid – from the example above – in my early days of blogging at Mission to Learn and one of the first things I did was subscribe to ZaidLearn and comment on some of the entries. When I say “comment,” I don’t just mean leaving a quick message like “Nice post.” – though even that can be effective if done well. Rather, I attempted to add something of value to what Zaid had already posted.
Commenting on other blogs in this way achieves at least three things:
- The blog owner notices the comment – in most blogging platforms, the blog administrator is automatically notified when a comment is submitted – and if you have taken the time to say something thoughtful, is likely to visit your blog;
- Readers of the blog may notice your comment as well as the Web address you submit when making a comment. (Most blog commenting systems offer the option of including your Web site/blog address when you submit a comment. Always do this!). If you say something thoughtful, they may decide to visit you.
- You engage in the community – not just the silo of your own blog – and continue to develop your own thinking about the topics central to your blog. Intangible as this may seem, it almost certainly comes back to you in the form of better content on your own blog later. (Refer back to Part I for how important good content is to marketing and growing you blog.)
In this case, Zaid did notice and did visit Mission to Learn, where he has commented on my posts on a number of occasions. He has also been kind enough to reference my posts from time to time and link to me from his posts. Which leads to my last point:
Linking to Other Bloggers
As is true in most human relationships, those who give are more likely to receive. In the world of blogging, it pays to “give” links to other bloggers (i.e., link to their blogs from your blog which, of course, opens up the possibility that visitors may leave your blog and not come back!) for at least two reasons:
- You are more likely (particularly when starting out) to receive a link from a blogger you’ve linked to than one you haven’t;
- You readers are likely to perceive you as offering more value – and thus value your blog more – if you actually are willing to provide them with links to great resources outside your own blog.
In short, don’t be afraid to link out to other blogs. Indeed, it’s really hard to grow a blog without linking out.
So What’s the Return on Connection (ROC)?
I’m hardly original in saying you should connect with other bloggers, comment on their blogs, etc – you will find that advice in pretty much any post like this. But what I hardly ever find is evidence of concrete results.
One of the reasons I picked ZaidLearn as an example here is that I can see very concrete results from the connection. When I look at my blog traffic statistics, there is a noticeable amount that comes from ZaidLearn – i.e., people who click through from Zaid’s blog to visit Mission to Learn. Not every hour, or even every day, but often enough to make it clear that the connection is valuable. And that’s purely from a marketing standpoint, leaving aside the fact that it’s been a pleasure to “meet” Zaid himself and learn from his blog.
Bottom line – outside of producing great content, connecting with other bloggers is one of the best investments you can make in marketing and growing your blog.
That’s it for part II. In Part III of Marketing and Growing Your Blog I cover promotion and link building and throw in some brief bonus commentary on monetizing your blog.
Hedgehog & Fox
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